Vancouver: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Waterfront, VanDusen Botanical Park

The heat arrived. To escape it, I went to a park in a rainforest, namely Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, hoping for, and getting, considerable shade away from the heat island of the city. After that, I wandered around the waterfront near Canada Place, the arrival/departure point for the free Capilano Bridge shuttle bus and, coincidentally, beside my hotel. Finally, I visited VanDusen Botanical Garden.

I say finally, but I filled the rest of the day with a return to my hotel, a meal, typing herein, and the fulfilling of a few toilet requirements. It’s not like I died after the botanical garden and didn’t complete the day alive. But never mind that. You’re not interested. I said, you’re not interested. Give it a rest.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Capilano suspension bridge

You might think that a bridge of the length and construction of the Capilano suspension bridge, as pictured to the right, would sway a bit when people walk across it. If you believe that, you’re absolutely wrong. It doesn’t sway. It shakes violently.

People without acrophobia might consider “shakes violently” to be an exaggeration. I’m not one of those people.

I took a picture about halfway across the bridge. Surprisingly, this helped to assuage my fear of heights somewhat. My fear of dropping my iPhone while taking a picture from a violently shaking bridge momentarily clouded my fear of dying by falling off the bridge. Priorities.

One may ask why I went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park if I have a fear of heights.

It’s not that I didn’t know what to expect. I was there at least once during a visit to Vancouver when I was much younger. I was equally acrophobic then. And the bridge equally terrified me then.

And I’ve seen plenty of pictures in the intervening years to remind me of what to expect. It’s famous, don’t cha know?

No, it’s not that the suspension bridge mentioned right there in the name of the park and on the online ticket I bought caught me by surprise. Not at all. There is a perfectly good reason for why I went. I’m shocked it hasn’t occurred to you. It’s simply that I’m insane. Clearly.

Mask Wearing

Death-defying view from halfway across the suspension bridge

This being in The Time of COVID, the park had some areas where they required that everyone wear a mask. Not one mask for everyone, of course. That would largely defeat the purpose. Everyone had to have his, her, or their own mask. (My apologies if I inadvertently omitted your preferred personal pronoun.) But you probably figured that out all by yourself. Aren’t you clever?

In addition, signage recommended, but didn’t require masks in some other specific areas. Everywhere else, the park people left it entirely up to everyone to use his, her, or their own bad judgement regarding masks. (Although, staff wore masks everywhere. Yay, staff!)

Mandatory mask-wearing areas included indoor spaces such as the gift shop. There’s always a gift shop. There was also one outdoor area where everyone had to wear a mask. That was the suspension bridge.

I don’t know for sure why the suspension bridge was the only outdoor mandatory masking area. Although, I have a theory. I think it was so no one would see my silent scream as I crossed. The park’s management wanted to save me the embarrassment. Fortunately, I didn’t scream out loud, so, thanks to my heavy-duty mask, no one could tell I was silently screaming. No one, that is, other than anyone who noticed that I shook out of synch with the suspension bridge.

Not Just the Suspension Bridge

One of the tree walks

The suspension bridge isn’t the only attraction in the park. Not all of the others challenge acrophobia sufferers. Just most.

A few trails on the far side of the bridge wind through the rainforest. Some of those trails are on the ground. Others are on catwalks suspended between trees. The catwalks didn’t do as much shaking as the suspension bridge. Nevertheless, they are suspended between trees. And not close to the ground. Did I mention that I have a fear of heights?

Great horned owl

There were also some fauna displays. Staff at them talked about the featured creatures. One example of the local fauna was a banana slug. A staff member found one that day and put it in a glass-walled box for our education. At one point, it clung somehow to the opaque lid. Then, the staff member lifted the lid and showed us a more close-up, unobstructed view of the slug.

I didn’t take a picture of the banana slug, but there was really no point in doing so anyway. If you have a smallish, but not too small yellow banana with a few brown spots on it, squash it fairly flat. Throw into the garbage any of the whitish innards that come squishing. With the exception of the hole that the innards squished through and the stem stub, you now have a very accurate visual representation of the shape and colour of a banana slug. You’ve also wasted a perfectly good banana. What the heck is wrong with you?

There was also a raptor display. Two park staff members showed off a captive great horned owl and a captive saker falcon. They likely would have found it difficult to show them off it they weren’t captive. So, it’s good that they were, but probably not for the owl or falcon.

By the way, I thought it was a really, really good horned owl. But “great” oversold it. Someone should reign in the owl marketers. And, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the falcon. Why didn’t it get the “great” adjective too? Life is so unfair sometimes.

Elsewhere, back on the park entrance/exit side of the suspension bridge, a staff member stood in front of a tabletop bear exhibit. Fortunately, there were no captive bears, just a couple of very small toy bears and some pictures of bears. The staff member casually talked about bears with anyone who paused at her exhibit. She told the few people there when I was at her station that there were two bears in the park a couple of weeks ago. “But, don’t worry,” she said. “They’re actually more afraid of us than we are of them. Besides, all of the staff here are trained in how to deal with bears.”

A few points on that:

Rainforest flora
  • Um, no. I don’t know how scared bears are of people. But I can confidently say that no matter how scared they might be of me, I’m actually more afraid of them. It’s not even close.
  • The staff are trained to deal with bears? Great. If a bear approaches, I’m going to find the nearest staff member to use as a shield.
  • Then there’s that joke. Although, it might have originally been about a lion or tiger. I’m not sure. In the bear version, if you encounter a bear when you’re with someone else you don’t have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun the other person. The staff member at the bear exhibit didn’t look particularly fleet of foot. I’m old, but I still think I could have outrun her if the need arose. So, I was good.

Also on the entrance/exit side of the suspension bridge I had another attraction to contend with. (The entrance price wasn’t cheap. So I wasn’t going to miss any of the attractions no matter how close to death I thought they brought me.) They call this attraction “Cliffwalk.”


Cliffwalk is a narrow wooden path, with low walls made of chain link, along with sturdy railings that were somewhat above my waist height. This path was suspended on the side of a cliff. Not the top, mind you. The side, somewhat down from the top. But not, as I would have preferred it, resting on or close to the canyon floor.

For most of its length, the path was very close to the cliff, attached to it by frequent, sturdy-looking metal brackets bolted to the cliff. Cliffwalk didn’t sway in the least.

One section of the path, however, curved away from the cliff, arcing out over the canyon. There, it was held up by suspension cables. I’m not sure if I was clear earlier in explaining that I have acrophobia. I found the arced section of Cliffwalk to be breathtaking, but not in a good way.


About my brief walk by the Canada Place waterfront, it’s quite attractive. You know how the famous or infamous, as the case may be, “they” say, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well, enough said about that part of the waterfront. Consider this journal entry three thousand words longer and continue reading below the following pictures.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Some flowers, a deck and a pond with a fountain

The VanDusen Botanical Garden contains tons of, well, botanical stuff. I say “tons,” but I obviously didn’t weigh it all. Or any of it, for that matter. Nevertheless, considering that the said botanical stuff includes lots of trees, some of them big trees, along with flowers, shrubs, aquatic flora, and grasses. I think I’m on safe ground in saying there are tons.

In fact, while “tons,” because it’s plural, is accurate, it is undoubtedly a gross understatement. I don’t want to get too scientific here, but, including the trees, I’m pretty sure there are at least oodles of tons of botanical stuff there.

In addition to the botanical stuff, the 55 acre garden also contains ponds, some of which have fountains, a small waterfall, a few statues, some benches, some garbage receptacles (one of which is partly floral, as pictured below), at least one patio, and some ducks and Canada geese (I don’t know the nationality of the ducks) gnawing on the grass. I don’t think the ducks and geese are permanent exhibits, but I’m not sure.

During my visit to VanDusen Botanical Garden I meandered through its many paths. The experience was visually and aromatically delightful.


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