Guest Post by Linda A. Blair…..
It is said that the only way to conquer your fear is to face it head on and that’s exactly what I did this week and came out the winner!
My friend and fellow writer & photographer, Paula Wheeler, came to visit me in my hometown of Vancouver, B.C. I wanted to be sure she saw some of the “must see” iconic sights on everyone’s list as well as some not so familiar. I wanted her to go home with a treasure trove of memories and photos of her time here. So………
We drove fast cars such as Ferrari, and Lamborghini (she drove, I screamed) along the beautiful Sea to Sky highway with “Scenic Rush”. We saw and photographed swans, blue herons, raccoons and other small birds and animals in the wild at Stanley Park, and Bloedel Conservatory is the place to go if you want to see exotic birds from around the world in a rainbow of bright and beautiful colors. We hoisted champagne to our lips on the 39th floor of a downtown penthouse with sweeping panoramic views of the city skyscrapers and dazzling night skyline.
Squamish is not on the typical list but definitely should be. Only an hour north of Vancouver is an amazing area for the outdoor adventurist. Shannon Falls is worth a stop along the way. With the sound of crashing water and the scent of pine and fir trees heavy in the air, we took a short hike through the coastal rainforest to get a close up view of the cascading waterfall before heading over to the Sea to Sky Gondola.
The 10 minute gondola ride was heart stopping. Rising a mere 2,903 feet, up an incredibly steep rock face for a bird’s eye view of Howe Sound with surrounding mountains and islands was jaw dropping! At the summit we crossed a 328 foot swaying suspension bridge then hiked around the mountain top stopping at different viewing platforms to admire and photograph the amazing vistas below. Afterwards we quenched our thirst with ice cold beverages on the outdoor deck overlooking the majestic mountain views while reflecting on the beauty of the world we live in.
For a change of pace, Grandville Island Public Market was next on the list and did not disappoint. With all the colorful flowers, fruit and veggies piled high as well as the many artisans, buskers, and shops offering unusual and unique goods, it was a photo worthy day.
Now, you are probably wondering where my fear lies and how, when, and where I conquered it. There is another “not to miss” iconic spot on every tourist’s list and that is Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. That is where my old nemesis was waiting for me, so when my friend Paula decided perhaps the fishing village of Steveston might be in order rather than another suspension bridge – well I was delighted to say the least. My feet were going to stay firmly planted on the ground! The quaint little Fisherman’s Wharf in Steveston, can be very lively when timed right. Fishermen laden with their bounty from the sea sell from the back of their boats and many colorful photo opportunities often arise. Unfortunately, our timing was not great as the boats were still at sea and the film industry was shooting a movie there so some areas were off limits. We watched for a while then became rather bored with it all as the action was so slow, not at all like you see on TV or the movies.
This week I decided to pay Capilano another visit after 20 years, which was the last time I tried to cross the 450 foot long, 230 foot high suspension bridge originally opened in 1889. I am not afraid of heights as long as I’m on something solid, but – if it moves, swings, or bounces, that’s a different story.
A lot has changed since I was last there. I listened to the history of past owners, tramps, and Story Poles (Totem Poles).
I was astonished by the engineering feats of the amazing Cliffwalk, which is a structure that leads you on a path over the cliff and high above the rushing Capilano River and canyon far below.
However, I was going to have to cross the Suspension Bridge if I was to see all the park had to offer. After much procrastination, I finally made my way to the steps leading to the bridge and to my disbelief the steps were swaying and I wasn’t even on the bridge yet! “Can I do this” I asked myself? A father and young son were in front of me and the 5-6 year old son was smiling so if he could happily do it, then so could I. My eyes burned a hole in the back of Dad’s shirt as I put one foot in front of the other. Determined not to look down or anywhere else for that matter, I just followed the shirt in front of me. As I stepped forward my legs turned to jello and went weak in the knees. One last check to make sure my camera was securely attached to me before I latched onto the top cable with a death grip. I pushed on determined not to turn back.
You know that guy that likes to rock the bucket when stopped at the top of the Ferris wheel? Well, I met him about mid-span and thought I was going to cry but soon realized I was not the only one frozen in fear – someone behind me with some colorful language regarding the buffoon who was purposefully trying to sway it from side to side, actually calmed me down.
The first time I took my eyes off Dad’s shirt, I was astonished to see I was ¾ of the way there – only a few more slow but shaky steps and I would be across! I wanted to do a happy dance when I landed on solid ground again, but felt like I had sea legs for the first few minutes and was afraid of collapsing so decided save it for home.
I would have missed some pretty amazing sights if I had let my fear take over. Giant Douglas Fir trees are truly something to see, and a red Harris Hawk with a beautiful Great Horned owl greeted me as I made my way around the trails.
The Treetop Adventure, is a series of cable bridges suspended between trees with platforms surrounding the trees and some are as much as 10 stories high!
All too soon it was time to venture back. Determined to take a photo from the center of the bridge, I set the camera to Auto and with one hand (the other still holding in a death grip) took a photo. One handed photo – not so great as I can see my white knuckled fist holding on for dear life in the lower left corner of the photo, but decided to keep it as a reminder that I can succeed if I try hard enough.
Paula, next time you come to Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge will be our first stop.
What is my next fear to conquer? I’ll be in a small plane flying over mountains, lakes, glaciers, and an extinct volcano. I’m not afraid of flying, but small planes do shake me up! I’ve just been informed I’m in the seat next to the pilot – Lord help me!
Okay, your turn…
How did you conquer your fear?