I’m terrified of heights. As far back as elementary school, I wouldn’t go too crazy on the swings, lest I wind up more than five feet off the ground. Even today, I can’t even sit in the nose-bleed seats at a Blazers game and look up at the ceiling, or else I get dizzy and disoriented. So why I wanted any part of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, I’ll never know. But when I decided on a day trip to Vancouver, B.C., the bridge was at the top of my to-do list.
I showed up at the park as soon as it opened and made a bee line for its main attraction. I stood at the foot of the 450-foot-long bridge as three others crossed, reminding myself of its safety and humming “Eye of the Tiger” under my breath.
I held on to both rails and took my first steps. Each step was deliberate and thoughtful as I tried to orient myself on the gently swaying bridge. But, halfway through, I felt confident enough to stop, enjoy the view, and snap a few photos of the Capilano River, some 230 feet below. Once I realized that I wouldn’t plummet to my death on this gray Sunday, I peered over the edge, started shifting my weight to make the bridge sway a bit more, and generally found myself as excited as a fearless five-year-old.
The only thing preventing me from turning the bridge into a 450-foot-long roller coaster ride was a vigilant usher. Another day, I suppose.
If only the trip back was so easy. I followed a few dozen tourists on my return trip an hour later, finding the turbulent “yin” to the earlier trip’s gentle “yang.”
The wood planks rippled like a bed sheet being unfurled, and they swayed from side to side with the rhythm of the pendulum on a grandfather clock. Every step was labored and tentative as the planks creaked in the wind. I recalled that feeling that comes after I’ve had a few too many drinks and can barely tell down from up, never mind walk in anything resembling a straight line. (In case my Mom is reading, I really wouldn’t know what such a feeling is like. I’m just assuming.) I had no idea where each step would land as I shuffled across the wavy bridge.
As for the rest of the park, well, have you ever wondered what a third-grader would do after winning the lottery? The answer might involve something like the attractions surrounding the bridge. The Treetops Adventure invites visitors to walk along bridges that connect to various trees about 20-50 feet off the ground. Visitors walk along the side of a cliff, some 200 feet above the river, on the creatively-named Cliffwalk. And The Living Forest boardwalk provides a gentle respite from the hustle-and-bustle of the thrill-seeking attractions, with a quiet walk through the rain forest surrounding the park’s attractions.
I was especially smitten with the Living Forest boardwalk. Long before the tourist throngs showed up, I took a stroll, invoking the words of Walt Whitman: “I loaf and invite my soul.” I admired the thick forest of towering trees, stopped to breathe in the fresh mountain air, and closed my eyes as I listened to the river rumbling by. Living in Seattle, it’s easy to forget what kind of effect the forest can have in soothing one’s spirit. The quiet boardwalk provided a welcome reminder.