As the alarm buzzed in my room at 4am last Tuesday morning, I had a brief flashback to turkey season. That was, after all, the last time I’d been up at such an hour. But this was not turkey season, and this was not hunting related. I was preparing to catch a flight to Vancouver, and a few hours later I was chasing the dawn westward at 800 kilometers per hour and 11,000 meters in the sky. Later I’d hop in a rental car and climb Highway 99 into the mountains as I made my way to the town of Squamish BC.
After the soul-crippling experience of driving through metropolitan Vancouver, I broke out of the concrete and glass jungle and began ascending the winding road to Squamish. Here’s what I learned while I was there.
Squamish is Beautiful
Yep, no bones about it. It’s a lovely little town. Situated in just a very nice little spot on an inlet and surrounded by peaks on three sides (including the looming Mount Garibaldi) and the ocean on the other Squamish is as picturesque as can be. On my first day there it was beautiful, the second it rained, the third it was beautiful, and on the last it rained. Apparently that’s how Squamish works.
Squamish is Full of Nice People
I did not meet a single negative or unpleasant person in my whole tenure there. The server at the Timberwolf Restaurant where I ate most meals, Vicki I believe, was as ebullient a person as I’ve ever met, but without a hint of insincerity. The staff of the office that I was working out of had nothing but positive energy and advice for me: where I ought to eat, where I ought to go running, and where I should buy a home when I inevitably decided that I was going to move to Squamish.
People in Squamish Didn’t Seem to Care for Hunting
Squamish is billed as the “outdoor recreation capital of Canada” however in that definition I believe they are speaking of skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and fly-fishing. I got some clucked tongues and that “you’re so misguided” look of disapproval from the locals when I had the temerity to group myself (as a hunter) in with the rest of the outdoor recreationalists. No arguments or debates, just a benignly assured stance (at least from those I spoke with, which I understand is far from the majority) that hiking was fine, hiking with a gun, not so fine. Fair enough, because it is still a very pretty town and I don’t mind that people don’t always like hunting.
I Really Shouldn’t be Driving in Squamish (or anywhere else in BC for that matter)
As I said, it was raining on my last day there. A day coincidentally that I was required (if I was to catch my flight) to drive down the sea-side lane of the winding Sea to Sky highway (or in this case Sky to Sea?) in a west-coast downpour accompanied by gale force winds. The speed limit down the mountainside was in the areas of 80 km/h but really only locals should be doing that; I’m far too incompetent and fearful of careening off the side of a mountain. My apologies to the line of traffic that this reluctant (but legitimately impressed) tourist was responsible for.
While writing this on the return flight to Toronto (chasing nightfall this time) I realized that there were other observations I had made about Squamish…for example, while on a leisurely jog I noted that even though I was at elevation and the air was thinner, I was unfortunately not. Or that the bear track I saw on the trail was connected to a bear paw somewhere that was much different than the deliciously addictive treat that I give on occasion to my two-year old son. And so on with labored and not very funny observations. I also noticed that the man next to me was my exact double, just fifteen years older. Weird things sometimes happen on flights and I’m pretty sure he noticed it too.
As for Squamish, well…the client may even have me back, so if they do I promise that I’ll be right back on this laptop during the flight home noting all the other ways this charming little town surrounded by wilderness has beguiled me. And if I win a lottery between now and then, I may even make it my permanent home (if Squamish would have me, that is.)