Vancouver, B.C. and Spences Bridge, B.C.
In the Aesop's Fable “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” the town mouse doesn’t appreciate the food and lifestyle of the country mouse. In turn, the country mouse doesn’t like the cost of security by living in town.
For my 60th birthday, I wanted to visit Canada. I wanted to be out of the United States and exploring and I didn’t want to confirm any preconceived notions of what Canada is all about. I wanted to see something different. I wanted a Canadian Walkabout Birthday. A visit to the big city life and time in the out-back country life of Canada. A yin and yang trip, a lesson in contrasts, a town mouse and a country mouse experience.
“I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the country; come you with me and I will show you how to live. When you have been in town a week you will wonder how you could ever have stood a country life.”
This walkabout was equal parts city and country; three days in Vancouver, B.C. and three days in Spences Bridge, B.C.
Vancouver, B.C. In 2016, the Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Vancouver is on English Bay.
Spences Bridge, B.C. In 1892, the population of Spences Bridge included 32 people of European ancestry and 130 First Nations people. There were 5 general stores, 3 hotels, one Church of England, and one school. The population as of 2016 is only 99. Spences Bridge is in Canada’s 100 mile Desert Corridor.
Starting in Vancouver, we needed to pick up the key to our Airbnb. First I had to download the app "Keycafe," then find the Seven-Eleven convenience market where I entered a code, waited for a little box to present the key to our rental flat one block away, up the elevator on the 31st floor. We never met our host but we exchanged several emails.
The streets were busy downtown, and the food selections were plentiful and international. We started our day in a bustling coffee shop and progressed to Malaysian food at Banana Leaf. After a short afternoon walk in Stanley Park, we went out for the evening to the historic Gastown District where we enjoyed fresh local oysters at Roys Oyster House and live bluegrass at Guilt and Company. Everything we ate was amazing, five stars all!
The next day, starting our day with a different coffee shop, we took a short ferry ride to Granville Island Public Market where we had a vegan noodle bowl and shopped for food to take with us to the countryside. But, before we left the Island I wanted a Cesar, a very Canadian cocktail from Liberty Distillery. We also bought a bottle or two to of a unique small batch handcrafted gin to take home with us.
In Spences Bridge, we followed the Host’s directions to our cabin on the river. "Turn right at the yellow street sign, just past the red and white vegetable stand." There was no key, the door was open, and we were met by our host Steve. He presented us with a loaf of fresh home-baked bread. He told us about his mom's house where we were staying. We didn't need a key, but if we needed anything, he was available to do what he could for us.
We walked along the Nicola River and admired the milkweed seeds, the changing colors of the maples, and the nearby pear orchards. Our days consisted of long drives in the countryside following rivers and mountain tops, watching the landscape change. We saw bighorn sheep along the roadside, and we stopped at several small lakes.
Our evenings were spent listening to streaming music and agonizing over an ugly jigsaw puzzle. That night, it was so dark, and so quiet, I couldn't tell if my eyes were open or closed. Luckily, there was a nightlight in the next room.
I can not live my life as a town mouse. The apartment, the dining, the drinks, and the nightlife, are fun, but too expensive for me. The cost of living in a city is too big for my bank account. I never wanted to do the work required to live in a big city. It’s a nice place to visit, but too expensive to live there.
I cannot live my life as a country mouse. Early in my career, I lived in the California Outback, very remote, without groceries, restaurants, libraries, and entertainment. I prefer the availability of having selections, services, and conveniences available and nearby.
But now, while on walkabout, I can pick and choose where I stay.
In British Columbia, Canada, I choose BOTH.