I first met Jack Christie when we were on a media trip to Prince George last year and now his latest book, 52 Best Day Trips From Vancouver, has a permanent home on my desk for quick reference. Having penned the original book (of the same title) twenty years ago, local travel writer Jack issues updates every few years adding new activities and suggestions.
“The current edition is the natural evolution from that very first book that we brought out in ’89 that went right to the top of the best-seller charts that summer,” Jack said during our chat about the book. “We live in such a volatile, evolving city where there’s always new parks – and for that matter an evolving provincial park system – but there’s always new material to be brought into the book.” With each new edition a few entries are swapped out for updated listings. In the 2011 edition, you’ll find information about Colony Farm Regional Park and the new Sea to Sky Trail that runs between Squamish and Pemberton.
“We try to keep the mix nice and fresh, and of course update the information. A lot of the ‘meat and potato’ stuff is right up front. How far away is it from town, what’s a good time of year to go there, how to get there on transit if you’re living car-free, things like that,” Jack added.
I also noticed listings for off-leash areas and parks that were dog-friendly. Jack told me that they had a lot of people wanting more specific information about where they can walk their dogs (on or off a leash) as well as information about accessibly trails. “Whether you’re pushing a stroller, rolling a wheelchair or just looking for a really easy-going outing with ederly family members who maybe can’t walk great distances but really enjoy getting out.”
Jack mentioned Redwood Park in Surrey as a shining example of accessibility. From easy walking paths to a new accessible children’s playground (you can find it on page 34).
When I asked about a hidden gem, he told me about Maplewood Flats just off Dollarton Highway in North Vancouver. “It’s just this lovely quiet area that looks over the inner harbour on the East side of the Ironworkers Bridge. You get the sense of what the harbour must have been like before europeans arrived. Indian Arm is just around the corner, you’re looking out at Belcarra which is all green, which is nice, and there’s a lot of bird life there.”
It doesn’t take a lot of planning or financial resources to enjoy these day trips either. “All you really need is a desire to get out of the house,” Jack advises. “I think a lot of people, especially with kids, are kind of hard-pressed to plan ahead a lot so if you really want just a quick inspiration, that’s why people like our book. They pick it up and they can scan and find a place that’s really close to where they live and just head out.” In terms of keeping the costs down, Jack says he can’t think of anything in the book that requires an admission fee. All of the suggestions are “like sunshine, they’re free.”