Our Amazing Adventure on the Sky Train

Yesterday we found out what an adventurer Fiona really is.

At 1:10 yesterday afternoon we were standing at the bus stop near Queen’s Park waiting for the C4 line to take us to the Columbia Station for the Sky Train.

Confession time: other than a few rides I took on the San Diego Trolley a quarter century ago when it was new, neither of us has ever been on public transportation. Airplanes, taxis, but never a city bus or subway or el or anything like that.

At 1:15 the bus, scheduled to arrive at 1:18, passed by on the other side of the street. I thought they were going to make a U-turn at the corner, but, no. They made a left and disappeared.

By 1:25 I was worried. We’d already delayed our Sky Train adventure by a week because last Saturday it was pouring rain and I had a blinding headache. Was the bus coming? Was the schedule different on the weekends? Was I worrying for no reason? Yeah, of course.

The bus arrived a minute later and we learned how to validate our day passes. We sat down, Fiona and I in the last row and Sue in front of us. Fiona started laughing out loud and said “We’re not wearing seatbelts! I’m so excited that we don’t have to wear seatbelts!” The people around us smiled. I rolled my eyes, knowing that Fiona’s perception of our adventure would be her own, not mine.

We got off at the station and headed up the stairs. When the train whooshed in we got on and stood, holding the poles. Fiona said “We get to stand up? Cool!” People around us smiled again. (You’ll notice a theme developing.)

I’ll assume Sue will talk more about the train itself, but my short version is, it’s fast and fun and Fiona loved how high up it was. When another train passed going the other direction the whoosh was almost a scream.

To go to Stanley Park, we had to get off at the end of the Expo line at the Waterfront Station. Which is also where the Sea Bus shuttles back and forth to North Vancouver, a little less than 2 miles across Vancouver Harbour.

We took the Sea Bus, since the day pass includes it all.

We walked around the waterfront park, looking at geese and ducks and a playground and a giant compass rose in the ground, then went back through the station to the waterfront mall, where we climbed a tower. A big tower. I don’t know how tall it was, I just know that half way up, I started having a panic attack. I turned to go back down and there were Fiona and Sue, trudging up behind me. Fiona was moving slowly like she always does on stairs, but she was coming.

I turned around and continued climbing. Exactly in the center of the stairs.

At the very top, I looked out over the water to Vancouver and the mountains beyond.

Then I looked down at the ants; um, I mean, people, on the wharf. I didn’t cry, whatever Sue tells you.

Fiona came up the stairs and stood in the center of the landing, looking out at everything. She thought it was hot and her legs were tired. She seemed supremely unimpressed by the height.

I went down. She followed, slowly. Not because of the height; she goes down three steps the same speed she climbed down this tower. When we got to the bottom I decided to breath again. I enjoyed it. The breathing, I mean.

We took the Sea Bus back to Waterfront Station, then walked to the 19 bus which took us to Stanley Park. It’s really big. The park, not the bus.

We headed for the rose garden and Lost Lagoon and somehow stumbled into a wedding on the grass. Not into it, but behind the seats. We got almost past the wedding and Sue said “I don’t think this is the way” so we turned back. (You’ll want to make a mental note of this moment in the story.)

After walking for 15 minutes we finally found an information booth where a helpful chap showed us where we were on the map (not where we expected, but then, we’d expected that.) We trudged back up the hill, and I secretly hoped Fiona would forget about the Lost Lagoon while she was at the playground we were to pass, because it just looked like a really long walk.

And of course, we missed the right turn at the playground and ended up just across the road from the Lost Lagoon, which is beautiful and worth the walk.

We headed back up (after two pauses to rest on the benches in the shade) and came almost to the playground. Off to the left, about 30 feet, was the rose garden. Right there in sight.

Fiona played; Sue and I sat on the swings (big sturdy things that worked even for me) and talked about how sitting in those swings was the most relaxing part of the day. After while we sat on the bench, and then when it was time to go, Sue called Fiona and pointed off the way we came. “That way, right?”

Um, no; the opposite direction, Y’know, to the rose garden? I’m not sure what the baleful glare was all about; I thought she wanted to see the roses.

The were beautiful, really. I loved Rhapsody in Blue, a violet rose with so little red it almost looks blue. We headed back in what felt like the right direction, over a little rise—into the back of the wedding, where we’d been more than an hour earlier, looking for the roses.

Yeah, men and directions. Uh huh.

Anyway, on the way home we stopped and saw the biggest tin soldier in the world and I listened to 1.5 songs by a local band playing on the wharf (then they went on break) and then we missed all the buses and walked home from Columbia Station, including a 6-block detour the wrong way and finally got home just before 9:00 and I thought “Fiona is the most amazing 6-year-old in the world.”

I told her so.


  1. :-DDD Sounds like fun! I love that trip … and it usually includes some type of getting lost. Stanley Park is so big and has so many great parts, you can’t do it all in one day. The Aquarium, the saltwater pool, the Theatre Under the Stars, the seawall, the forest trails, and so much more. I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed the rose garden and Lost Lagoon and playground.

    Maybe on another adventure, you will ride the skytrain over the bridge into Surrey – and back. On a sunny, sparkly day it’s glorious.

    I would love to be your tour guide, ’cause I can just tell you would love so much of what my hometown has to offer.

    Way to go Fiona on so many counts – but especially that walk home from the skytrain!! Skip the first -and steepest – block, the rest of it, minus the detour, is my walking commute home. At the end of a long day (like you had) it is TOUGH. (Should you find yourself in that situation again, take the skytrain back to 22nd Street Station and get on the 155 bus. It will take you within a block of home on 6th Ave. But it will take time and waiting, so you have to weigh that against the size of the hill.)

    Sounds like an exhausting and excellent day!

  2. We’d love to cross over to Surrey. We saw the train crossing the bridge while we were trudging up hills.

    We’d also love to have you guide us while we tour. What fun that would be.

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