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Published: February 15th 2016
Ever heard of Squamish? No I thought not... neither had I. This little town, half way between Vancouver and the world famous ski resort of Whistler, bills itself as "the outdoor capital of Canada". A "cheap" night's accommodation in Whistler can cost upwards of $200 - far more than our limited budget would allow. As I was keen to see Whistler we decided to use Squamish as our base.
We boarded the Greyhound Bus early on a grey and wet Vancouver morning. I was inordinately excited... my first time taking a Greyhound! Perversely, I was a bit disappointed when the driver was really friendly - that's not what I have seen countless protagonists experience in the movies. We boarded the bus and found luxurious leather seats and wifi. We soon set off. There could have been anything by the side of the road and we wouldn't have seen it because of the dense fog and rain.
It felt like we were just settling in to the journey when the driver announced that we'd reached Downtown Squamish. We hurried to get our bags and get under shelter as soon as possible. We looked out but couldn't see much, just a
few grey buildings and a grey sky. We walked down Second Street and found our accommodation just as the incredibly cheerful receptionist was opening the desk. We waited a couple of minutes and were checked in, even though it was only 9am. Hotel Squamish - yes, that was really its name - didn't look much from the outside but inside was really nice. We turned on the coffee maker and kettle and had a much needed warming drink.
After an hour or so we decided we had to brave the weather to get some food. We wrapped up again and headed out to the local supermarket. This was our first full-scale North American supermarket and we were a bit overwhelmed. It seemed as if it is a violation of a customer's human rights to not have at least five choices for every product. When you then consider the mixed English and French heritage of Canada which required a full range of products appealing to both markets this results in a bewildering array of options. One thing we really like though is the bulk foods section. This is something we don't have at home which we discovered in Australia and
New Zealand. It's an even bigger thing in Canada. This allows you to weigh out everything from jelly beans to flaked almonds to chapati flour. It took us a very long time to do our shopping and by the time we came out it looked like the rain was slackening.
We decided to take the opportunity to see a bit of the town. However, after walking about a kilometre towards its visitor's centre the rain came down heavily again. We hurried to the centre and ordered coffee which made us feel much better. At the visitor's centre we discovered a movie theatre where you could, on request, watch films about the local First Nations people, the Squamish Tribe. We selected the longest one and went and sat for over an hour. I'm sure there were some interesting bits to the film but I can't really remember them - all that sticks out is how pour the production quality was and how there didn't seem to be much structure to the story telling. Both of us came out saying we could have out the same material together in a much more engaging way. As it was, I found myself falling
asleep throughout the film.
Once the film was finally over we emerged to find that the world was much brighter. The rain had abated a lot and we could go out and see the town. As the cloud became less dense and got higher, we found a stunningly beautiful scene. The town is surrounded on all sides by high mountains which we had been completely unable to see. One face of the mountains is an immense cliff face which glinted in the reflected sun now penetrating the clouds. The town itself is grey and dreary but it's location is outstanding.
We wandered around for a while and then went back to the hotel for a quick bite to eat. After that, we went out again. This time we headed out of town looking for the harbour. We never got to the harbour as it turns out Squamish is a much bigger town than it appears, it is just separated into three equal sized chunks some distance apart. We did however have a lovely walk through some pine forest. At one point a former logging area was starting to be regenerated and from here we could see great views
of still lingering bands of clouds in tiers across the valleys of the mountains. It was getting dark so we had to abort our walk part way through but we had enjoyed the cool fresh air and just getting out without getting wet.
In the evening we met up with one of the teachers from Jill's school, who had kindly offered to show us around. As it was dark we decided just to go to a local brew-pub. The pub had some amazing beers and I particularly enjoyed the "Wee Monster" dark Scottish style ale. We spent a couple of hours chatting with John and found out a lot about the area and more about Canadian politics than we had imagined we'd learn in an evening.
Despite the weather, we'd had a great day in Squamish and were completely exhausted. We got an early night to prepare us for the next day which was to be a full day in Whistler
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