Updated: Jul 22, 2020
I've learned not to protest when my children ask me to find a place they can go to for a specific skill they want to develop. It's now part of our unschooling philosophy of self directed learning. The last time I protested finding an outdoor parkour park stating "there was no such thing", my 6 year old son retorted "just Google it". To prove my point I typed in "Outdoor Parkour Vancouver" and was slapped in the face by the realization Canada‘s largest parkour park (Penzer Parkour Action Park) was just about 30 minutes from our front door. Since then I've learned to bite my tongue on what I think actually exists in British Columbia. It seems, everything is here!
So, last week when my son said he wanted to go to a dirt bike park to practice his jumps, I knew better than to say anything other than "yes". That's how it came to be that we found ourselves at Vanier Bike Park. All three kids are now able to bike on either training wheels, run bikes or full sized pedal bikes, so this seemed like it could be a fun outing!
After paying $8 for parking for the day, we walked across the street and discovered the bike park itself was closed due to covid-19. We decided to try to make the best of things and did a brief cycle through a forest trail nearby. But it was awkward, and dirty and evident many trees had been made into semi permanent homes for those without anywhere else to rest their heads. So, we shuffled along to a nearby parking lot where I felt safer. While the kids were biking around the empty lot, I noticed we were standing on the opposite side of a large body of water. I could see people on the beach across from us. I was feeling slightly jealous that I was sitting on the curb of a parking lot surrounded by duck poop, instead of on the sands of a beach. I once again convinced the kids we needed to change locations and we loaded up and drove a few minutes over the beautiful historic Burrard Bridge and we found ourselves someplace we had never been before: Sunset Beach.
In between the West end and Downtown Vancouver, lies this quiet and unpretentious getaway. I was thrilled to find that just one block off the main drag was free parking between 9:30AM and 3 PM. An empty spot appeared to have been reserved for us. We unloaded and traipsed down the hill with the smell of the sea tickling our noses making us wish we had more time to spare there. We passed the fixed structure washrooms with a man huddled under blankets, sleeping against the wall. I wondered if my children would notice and ask for an explanation, they walked by silently and we began the short awkward waddle from the paved path through the sand to the water while pushing a loaded stroller.
On that day, we only spent an hour and a half at the beach.The three kids soaked themselves within minutes and filled their hearts with the kind of happiness you can only find under upturned sea shells. Our stay was too short. In just the blink of an eye it was time to go and we decided that on the next sunny day we would come back and spend our whole day here.
So, that’s what we did today. We were at Sunset Beach again before 11am in the morning and we stayed right till 3 PM when the free parking was no longer permitted. The beach itself was a beautiful blend of rustic barnacles on rocks backing onto manicured lawn and paved walkways.
Both times we have been here there have been groups doing unusual martial arts in the green space and we watched bodies fly through the air in a beautifully choreographed dance of war.
Clam shells all shapes and sizes decorated the beach. I spent most of the time there collecting shells and creating beach art with the children.
Every so often they would wander off find a new place to dig, or find something to climb. Sometimes it was the rocks, and sometimes it was an artistic metal structure that stood majestically in the sand.
They grazed through the snacks and sandwiches in our lunch bag at their will and by 3 o’clock as the wind picked up and the tide caught up to where we had first set our bags down, everybody was ready to say goodbye to this beautiful adventure with promises of return.
Today the price of peace cost nothing.
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