North Vancouver, British Columbia
A Surprise Discovery Full of Adventures
Story by Lynn Rosen; Photos and videos by Steve Giordano
HighOnAdventure.com August 1, 2009
Although most everyone is familiar with the charms and attractions of the city of Vancouver, just across Burrard Inlet lies a hidden treasure of adventures and another world - North Vancouver.
Vancouver skyline seen from North Vancouver Lonsdale Quay Hotel in North Vancouver
Historically a shipyard and working waterfront, Lonsdale Quay with its charming harbourside boutique Lonsdale Quay Hotel located above the Public Market and shops, alongside the expansive Waterfront Park, have developed into a must-stay/see destination for visitors as well as a daily destination for locals.
Kilted popcorn eaters in Waterfront Park Climbing the wall Canada Day celebration decal
The Market Plaza and nearby park are perfect venues for the many outdoor festivals and celebrations on North Vancouver’s year-round schedule. The area is a lot like Yaletown with a mix of residents, restaurants, shops and a seaside park. Don’t miss the Summer Concert Series through September 7 2009. More info at 1.604.987.7529.
Waterfront Park sculpture Haida welcome poles Waterfront Park sculpture
An absolute must-visit is Le Bistro Chez Michel just a block from the Lonsdale Quay Hotel and Market overlooking the Vancouver skyline. On a warm evening, enjoy a waterfront breeze and view from their outdoor deck. Dine on exquisite French bistro fare matched by seamless service in a comfortable atmosphere of elegance and quiet, unfussy attention to detail.
Le Bistro Chez Michel was founded by brothers Philippe and Michel Segur, who were schooled in Toulouse, France in the 1970's. They’ve been bringing wonderful French cuisine and incredible service to the North Shore of Vancouver since 1979. Michel runs Restaurant Chez Michel at nearby Ambleside Village while Phillippe graciously presides at Le Bistro.
Enjoy tappas and appetizers on the patio starting at 4pm followed by a fine French dinner from an extensive menu. Choose from escargot nicoise, bistro moules frites (mussels with fries) to cassoulet to quiche and beyond. The wine list is extensive and heavily French.
See below for links to more information.
Air Grouse Mountain Ziplines
Click left photo for a 12-second video of a short zip trek on Grouse Mountain.
Click right photo to see a 3-minute video of zip-trekking on Grouse Mountain.
There may be a better way to celebrate the big five-oh, but Janice, who works in hospice care at a Vancouver hospital, would hands-down vote for ziplining with her two teenaged sons at Air Grouse Mountain Ziplines.
Lynn Rosen zipping along Sean Fenton photo Steve Giordano zipping along Sean Fenton photo
Writer Lynn Rosen and photographer Steve Giordano were included in her birthday celebration one magnificent sunny afternoon 4,100 feet atop Grouse Mountain where the five-line zip circuit links between peaks above Vancouver and its surrounding old-growth forest.
Zip-trek line-up Mt. Baker seen from a Grouse Mountain chairlift
Soar on five separate ziplines over the alpine rainforest at speeds up to 50 mph including two jaw-dropping flights across the gorge between Grouse Mountain and Dam Mountain.
Wow! 36 seconds of pure, thrilling, exciting bliss. And it’s absolutely safe with a comfy sit-down harness and trained guides on either side to instruct, strap you in, hook you up and release the safety catches. No danger, just fun. Between two of the zip start towers, there’s even a Peak chair lift ride with spectacular views of the city and, on a clear day, Mt. Baker.
Click here for a video of the Grouse Mountain Gondola
Daily zipline flights can be booked from 10am to 6pm daily. The entire tour takes about two hours, but plan to leave the lower parking lot on the Skyride Gondola at least an hour before. The price of $105C includes the Skyride and Zipline circuit, equipment and instruction. A photographer takes souvenir pictures, which are available for an additional nominal fee. Sounds corny, but when you’ve completed such an unforgettable experience, there’s no resisting taking home cool photos of the group and yourself in flight. After all, this doesn’t exactly happen every day! See below for contacts and more information.
A parting shot from Grouse Mountain
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Step past the entry gates into another world. What has welcomed millions of visitors since 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver’s Capilano Canyon is Canada’s oldest visitor attraction. But you don’t have to wait until Aunt Tilly and Uncle Jack come for a visit. This North Van venue is a treasure that not only deserves a look-see but will surprise and delight from the Treetop Adventure right down to the staggering, drunken sailor walk across this breath-taking bridge.
Courtesy Capilano Suspension Bridge
As hordes of people, all sizes, shapes, languages and nationalities, step onto the Galloping Gertie planks 230 feet above the Capilano Canyon and desperately grasp the handrail cables, there develops a rather “We’re in this together” camaraderie. “I feel like I’ve had one too many,” hollered a nattily dressed matron. “How about two? Or THREEEE?” shouted a staggering passerby. The matron replied between gusts of laughter, “Yeah! Two or three BOTTLES!”
Another party stumbling into the upscale, cliffside gift shop located just off the bridge on the edge of the canyon, asked the proprietor if folks always came in all wavy and discombobulated. “Oh, yes. All the time. They ask if the building’s moving. And I say if it is, we’re in big trouble.”
Rumor has it, a Great Dane once made it halfway across the bridge, stopped and would not move. It took two grown men to go out, turn it around and carry it back.
The Little Big House Courtesy Capilano Suspension Bridge
Totem masks at Little Big House
The bridge is the main attraction, but be sure to stop at the Park’s Little Big House or Kia’palano, a shed near the entrance where First Nations people share their culture and customs with visitors through traditional carvings, story-telling and dance. The native people here at the Little Big House graciously and generously engage in discussions and answer questions about their heritage. Kia’palano means beautiful river.
Many of these guides, like Ben who is from the Haida Nation, have been with the Park since the Little Big House opened in the late 1990s. He shares such traditions as the First Nations concept of spiritual connection between their culture and the natural world. “Spiritual people say that we’re not talking about us two-leggeds only. We’re talking about the four-leggeds and the ones that swim. We also call the trees the standing people. And we call the clouds the cloud people, the stars the star people. Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandmother Moon, Grandfather Sun. So when a spiritual person says this is for the people, that means it is for everyone, everything.”
Falconer Karen Kampstra with "Stomper" Kampstra talks about raptors
Falconer Karen Kampstra who owns Raptor’s Ridge Birds of Prey in Maple Ridge has been bringing her raptors to Capilano Park for the last few years to share stories and information about these species. All her 15 birds have been raised in captivity, they’re all used for educational purposes and they all have unique personalities. Karen spoke about one of her many raptors, her two-year-old barn owl who can turn its head 270 degrees.
“Stomper is a one-person bird. She’s kind of standoffish. I’m actually the only one who can handle her. She got her name because she stomps her feet when she gets agitated or when she’s impatient or when she’s not happy. Or even when she wants your attention.”
Karen has considered changing the name of her business to Raptor’s Spa since she takes in and rehabilitates so many birds with injuries or unusual medical difficulties. Her talks with park visitors emphasize individual raptor features, behaviors and habitats.
Daily through September 7th. Learn more at www.raptorsridge.com
The Capilano Park’s Treetops Adventure promises an astonishing journey up a wooded staircase from the forest floor along a network of suspension bridges between old growth West Coast rainforest trees. This safe and secure footpath-accessible, tree-friendly experience is the first of its kind in North America and links towering Douglas firs 100-feet above the living forest below.
Entrance to Treetops Adventure Two-story treehouse Capilano Suspension Bridge photo
More than a visitor attraction, Treetops Adventure is also an amazing engineering feat. Nearly 700 feet of cabled suspension bridges link eight magnificent Douglas fir trees, each with its own viewing platform.
Antique wooden beams and an antique weather station showcase the handcrafted, two-storey Treehouse, the showpiece of the seven-suspension-bridge, eight-platform/viewing area marvel.
One of the eight platforms at Treetops Adventure
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is open every day except December 25 with admission ranging from $28C for adults to FREE for kids under six. The bridge is not wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair access is restricted to the east side of the park and so admission is complimentary. See below for more detailed information
Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak
Rental kayaks at Deep Cove Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak staffer
Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak, rentals, lessons and tours, has been putting smiles on folks’ faces for over 25 years. Their waterfront location in North Vancouver draws enthusiastic visitors, locals, veterans and newbies to venture out on Indian Arm and into Burrard Inlet. The Deep Cove guides are as interesting as the vistas and wildlife on and around the waters.
Our guide, Lorraine Campbell, 30, with mid-length brown Heidi braids, grew up in a small town in Alberta. Once she visited Vancouver in her teens and met the ocean, she fell in love and never left. She lives on her 30’ sailboat in Vancouver, is a professional ski-patroller at Mt. Seymour in the winter and works at North Vancouver’s Deep Cove Kayaks in the summer.
Deep Cove guide Lorraine Campbell
On a casual afternoon paddle into, around and across Indian Arm, we saw magnificent hillside homes, a couple of adventurous standup paddle boarders, a multitude of playful seals, even a dog on watch at the prow of his sailboat. And, of course, we waved to many other kayakers. We also absorbed much lore and historic significance of the area from our knowledgeable and witty guide.
Seals basking in the sun on a one-log log boom on the north side of Deep Cove
Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak offers a wide range of paddling experiences including exploratory tours and, their most popular, the full moon evening tour. They also have added standup paddling to their repertoire. Prices range from $30C for two hours to $154C for two days. They also host a variety of weekly events as well as special events and parties. See below for more contact information.
For more information:
*North Vancouver, www.vancouversnorthshore.com; Lonsdale Quay Hotel, 123 Carrie Cates Court, 1.604.986.6111, www.lonsdalequayhotel.com; Le Bistro Chez Michel, 224 West Esplanade, North Vancouver, British Columbia,V7M 3H8, 1.604.924.4913, www.chezmichelvancouver.com
*Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak, rentals, lessons and tours, 2156 Banbury Road, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, V7G 2T1, 1.604.929.2268, www.deepcovekayak.com
*Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, BC, CanadaV7R 4J1, 1.604.985.7479, www.capbridge.com
*Air Grouse Mountain Ziplines, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, V7R 4K9, 1.604.980.9311, www.grousemountain.com
MusicFest Vancouver/Barbara Dennerlein
For a short ocean cruise, walk to the nearby SeaBus terminal and take the ferry to the city for MusicFest Vancouver through August 16, 2009. This season the festival spotlights the music and musicians of Germany with renowned jazz organist Barbara Dennerlein opening the festival with a pair of remarkable concerts on her Hammond B3.
SeaBus Terminal, North Vancouver
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF BARBARA DENNERLEIN PERFORMING HER JAZZ ARTISTRY ON THE HAMMOND B3 ORGAN
At 11, she began playing the electronic organ. At 15, she was playing gigs in jazz clubs. By the time she made her first TV appearance at 18, she was known as the “Organ tornado from Munich.” With her third LP “Bebab” at 21, she established her own record label. Today, Barbara Dennerlein defies all categories. She has received numerous jazz awards, played with all the great jazz artists and plays the classic Hammond B3 organ. She shared insights from Germany.
Lynn Rosen: For someone who has never heard your unusual music on the Hammond B3, how would you characterize your message, your particular art form?
Barbara Dennerlein: First of all people shall have fun with my music. It has a wide range from Swing, Blues, Latin, Ballads to Funk and Modern Grooves. The Groove factor is very important for my music and I love beautiful and interesting harmonic developments. Mostly I am playing my own compositions. A concert should be like a film - it has to have tension and a story. Want to take my audience on a musical journey where they can relax and feel the spirit and joy if the music.
LR: When most people think of organ music, they think of church. Tell us how your approach and artistry differs.
BD: My first instrument is the Hammond organ and my second one the pipe organ. Both instruments are totally different. The sound of the Hammond organ is touching and goes straight in your heart. When I play a Hammond organ concert this is no church organ music, it is groovy, funky and lively music.
LR: Tell us what is the appeal, the unusual attraction you have for the B3 above all other instruments?
BD: The sound of the legendary Hammond B3 is fascinating. It is a warm sound with a lot of variety and you have a wide range of possibilities to create your own sound. It is possible to express any kind of feeling - sadness, happiness, dreaming, love, aggression, fun - anything you can imagine. It is one of the most versatile instruments.
LR: Charles Ives, just as your father, was a church organist, and felt this has a great impact on his composition. How has that same influence affected your playing?
BD: My father is a painter - a very creative person (see my website www.barbaradennerlein.com, link magic colors). He has played the piano in his youth.
Church music did not have any impact on my compositions. It might today because nowadays I am playing almost half of my concerts in churches. But even there I play my own music, which is quite different from church music.
LR: Who and/or what has been your greatest influence musically?
BD: I have never had big influences. Always had my own ideas of how I want to play. And when you listen to my sound, my kind of improvising, playing style you will realize that I have my own personal voice, which is totally different from all other organists. This is something which developed naturally and very early in my career.
I love many artists (jazz and above that - love Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Pat Metheny and many others). There is a big variety of great music in the world and we have access to all of it because of the Internet.
LR: You absolutely look like you dance as you play. What part does this whole body experience play in your interpretations?
BD: Organ playing is like dancing. Especially because my specialty is playing the bass lines with my feet. When I play the organ my four extremities are working totally independent from each other. This process has to happen naturally without thinking. You have a musical idea or feeling and the same moment you play it. It is floating out of my body. The organ is one of the most difficult instruments because if you play it right you play with hands and feet - playing melody, comping yourself, playing bass solos with the feet, playing polyphonic, 2nd or 3rd lines, improvising - everything in the same time like an orchestra.
LR: What would you say to a new audience member who might want to persuade a friend to enjoy one of your concerts?
BD: You will love it - and I will do my best that your friend will enjoy the concert. This situation happens quite often - people are taking friends to my concerts and afterwards the friends tell me that they really had fun. The live experience is even more fascinating than just listening to a recording. So the chances are quite good that your friend will love you for having convinced him/her to come.
For more information: http://www.musicfestvancouver.ca; http://www.barbaradennerlein.com