Grouse Mountain as Getaway, after the snow melts

At the base of Grouse Mountain,the tram doors opened. A shiny-looking guy herded us in. We made ourselves small to let more tourists in. Then we made ourselves smaller. When the tram was as full as a Tokyo subway, the doors closed.

Up we glided over the treetops, enjoying the one mile ride. We stared back behind us at the sprawling, stunning, mouthwatering view of skyscrapers clustered in downtown, mountains, the glittering Georgia Straight and beyond to Vancouver Island, and the United States, and I thought, God it's beautiful, and then, “Vancouver really is the best place to live in the world.”

I was giddy about the glory, because friends were visiting from New York, and what better way than this to demonstrate that New York City isn’t the only place to live? Showing off Vancouver from a mountaintop on a cloudless day in early September would drive the point home.

My friends were Martin, Lynn and Aliana. Martin is an architect who is working on a project to renovate Lincoln Center. Aliana is his sixteen-year-old daughter and about to enter her junior year in high school. Her mother, Lynn, author of the best-selling novel, The Botox Diaries, had eased out of the adventure, citing a "need" to explore the possibility of including something in the next story she'd be working on a about a spa, notably the Miraj Hammam Spa, on Granville, where her "research" would force her to sample the steam bath, rub, and massage.

I had just shelled out about seventy-five dollars to get my two boys, aged 5 and 11, and my eleven-year-old's friend and myself on this ride, and I was determined to have fun. After enjoying the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain demanded to be done. After all, it's on the same road, only higher. An invisible force field seemed to be pulling cars from one parking lot to the other. So, I went for it, without being sure what a ski mountain had to offer in the last days of summer. When we first arrived at the ticket office, the attendant described what sounded like a theme amusement park. There was a lumberjack show, a bird show and, for an additional fee, we could take a helicopter ride.

We'd already paid enough, I figured, and we'd already enjoyed the pioneer theme of the Capilano Suspension Bridge tour. There, they'd employed young talent and made the best out of what could have been a bad thing. The jokes had been funny, the singing sweet. But lumberjacks? Oh, well, I thought, as my five year old tugged at me. "Mom, let's go." I punched in my bank code just a little regretfully, knowing full well it was too late to turn back.

The last themed amusement park we’d been to was DinoTown, near Hope. Billed as “North America’s only cartoon Dinasaur Town,” DinoTown offered games and junk food, but little pleasure for those over five.

With the ever present recordings of what sounded like a DinoTown Tabernacle choir singing odes to the fun that was supposedly being had every day in the truly lame and grotty little tourist trap, I felt like I was being brainwashed by a cult of DinoFreaks, intent on convincing me that Dinos would rise again and when they did, the blind would see.

Sad, poorly maintained jurassic figures and loud, loopy music didn’t buck up at $13.00 per person, even though the entry allows you to stay all day, a questionable privilege.

My older son and I had the feeling that we had stumbled into a bad cartoon we couldn’t get out of, because my younger son was so utterly enthralled by it.

He didn’t care that the gooney golf carpet was so bumpy and lumpy and old a golf ball couldn’t anymore get over it than it could walk away. He saw magic in the bright pink dinosaurs and mosquito-infested paddle boat course. He was so enchanted with them that he infuriated his elders by demanding to go on the boat ride over and over and threw a mini-tantrum when we finally insisted on scratching our badly bitten bodies on land.

DinoTown was a bad Canadian tourist trap. This had to be better.

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