A Day Visit to Grouse Moutain

My husband is obsessed with snow. He checks weather forecasts daily, and laments our decision to live on the temperate American west coast. He wishes our jobs allowed us to live in Minnesota where we could shovel snow off our driveway for months every year. When a work holiday came around during a winter when conditions were frosty, but never quite right for snow, we decided to take a day trip to a ski resort. My husband researched his best options, and landed on Grouse Mountain.

Entrance to Grouse Mountain Resort

We didn’t know what to expect when we got there, and were initially confused by the cars we saw parked along the road leading up to the resort area. We kept driving to see where we’d end up; that was smart, because we would have ended up taking a pointless walk uphill. The road to Grouse Mountain is a heavily populated residential area, and the cars we saw belonged to home owners, not adventurers. Along the way we passed the Capilano Suspension Bridge, still presenting a popular Christmas light show called Canyon Lights, which runs until January 28. The light show help up traffic on our way back down later that night, but traffic was light going up, and there was available paid parking at the entrance to Grouse Mountain.

Grouse Mountain admission prices

If we’d done our research, we would have gotten an earlier start, because admission prices are high, and available resort activities justify a full day. We paid just over $100 Canadian for the privilege of seeing it, as we were in no way equipped to ski or snowboard. While we were waiting, we saw plenty of people who were.

Taking the skyride up and down the mountain is one of the highlights of visiting Grouse Mountain. The lift is smooth, and only sways when is goes over the supporting poles. The view is impressive in spite of the condensation on the plastic windows, and may be at its best during the summer months. We were reminded to keep our tickets, as the attendant does need to see them on our return trip. It is possible to get up the mountain without the skyride via a hiking trail called “The Grind,” and I hear it lives up to its name.

Once off the lift, Grouse Mountain turns into a winter wonderland:

Complete with sleigh rides

We were there to sled, so we rented two canvas sleds for $5 each and found the sledding hill.

The fence keeps you from dying

Two steep tracks of densely-packed snow allowed for side-by-side racing, but mostly wipeouts. The snow was slick and hard to maneuver in throughout the resort area, making it difficult for sledders to get back up after they’d skidded down. My husband and daughter collided with each other and the resulting sore muscles curbed their enthusiasm for more.

Popular snowman-building spot

We made snowmen, then moved to the frozen pond where my daughter tried out ice skating. The skate rental was $5 for as much time as she wanted on the ice, which wasn’t much. There were plenty of helpful trainers available, but she learned fast that ice skating is harder than it looks.

We picked up snacks and coffee at the Grouse Grind Coffee Bar and rested. The lounge was crowded and not very clean. We sat next to a family who had brought Ramen in tupperware and I was very curious to see how they were going to warm it up without a stove or microwave. The father used a hot water spigot on the coffee machine, so now you know how it’s done. The best part of our time in the lounge was watching the sun set over the city, attracting many photographers to the outdoor balcony.

Vancouver lights from Grouse Mountain

We plan to go back another year, but early enough in the day to make snowshoeing more practical. There are also activities available when it’s not snowing, but it’s hard to see how they would be worth the price of admission. An American crossing the border for Grouse Mountain is an American looking for snow.

 

Picture Book Spotlight: “Could Be Worse!”

“Could Be Worse!” by James Stevenson
Published: Greenwillow Books, 1977
Pages: 32
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Goodreads

People who have seen hard times are tough to impress. In “Could Be Worse!” by James Stevenson, two kids can’t seem to get their grandfather to offer them any sympathy. No trying, troublesome, gut-wrenching day can get any comment out of him other than, “Could be worse.”

“Get back to me after you’ve served in World War II.”

Nothing upsets Grandpa’s apple cart, not even when the dog makes a mess.

This rug is so 1970s, it’s practically camouflage.

Stevenson was a prolific children’s book author and New Yorker cartoonist, and his illustrations anticipate the trend in modern books of using panels to convey multiple events on the same page. His approach draws from comics to show cause and effect, changes in expression, and sound effects.

New Yorker cartoonists love being compared to comic book artists. I recommend doing this often.

My daughter was resistant to pulling this book on the shelf, possibly because of the sketchy drawings, elderly featured character and muted color palette, but she changed her mind. She laughed harder and louder as the grandfather’s adventures grew progressively more outlandish. It surprised her, and I loved seeing her giggle.

“Could Be Worse!” has the highest number of reviews on GoodReads I’ve seen for one of my childhood books, and that’s a testament to its timeless humor. I recommend joining the many other readers who mentioned ordering a copy as an adult; you might be surprised at your child’s joyful reaction.

Popin Cookin Donuts

We put a Popin Cookin Donut kit in my daughter’s stocking this Christmas and she was eager to try it out. The picture on the box looks adorable and exactly like miniature doughnuts, so I didn’t know what to expect. A baking step at some point I guess?

The ingredients were packets of powder labeled “chocolate” and “vanilla” for the doughnuts and “strawberry” for the frosting. When we added water, the doughnut powders gradually congealed into a spongy… substance. Like the box says, the results are technically edible, the question is if you really want to.

My daughter was braver than I was and gave it a taste–said it tasted like “gummies.” But gummies don’t have a weird, sticky sugar glaze on top. Fun to make, not so appealing to eat.