A Day in the Life of a Digital Nomad, Vancouver Edition

by Gigi Griffis

Every so often, I document a day in my not-so-average life. Last time, I told you about a a day from my quiet, health-focused winter in Flagstaff, Arizona. Today, it’s a Saturday in September just after my birthday and I’m in North Vancouver. The weather has started to cool, but we’re still straddling summer and fall, with some sweaty, sunny days interspersed by cold rainy stretches. So, what does an average day look like now? The answer…

6:30 a.m. / I wake from a stressful dream about politics. I’ve been having nightmares since I started going off my anti-depressants; they’re probably the worst of my side effects, something that no one prepared me for.

I tried going off the pills in Flagstaff, but gave up on it after the stress started triggering not only epic nightmares and sleepless nights but also my old physical symptoms from my awful Malta illness.

Now, we’re in Vancouver for about four months and my life is fairly stable, so I’ve decided to give it another try. Not because I don’t appreciate the pills (they’ve helped me a lot) and not because I have any pride around the idea of not taking pills (I don’t), but because taking prescription medication while traveling internationally adds an extra layer of complication. It’s doable, but less than ideal. And so I’m seeing if my body can cope without them, helped along by my sweet little ESA dog and my equally sweet boyfriend.

7:30 / By 7:30, I’ve done all the normal morning things–letting Luna out, getting dressed, brushing my teeth–and started making breakfast. About once a week I make us a big breakfast. Today it’s a dutch baby pancake (an oven-cooked eggy pancake cut into slices) with hot homemade blueberry syrup and (not-homemade) bourbon maple syrup, sweet kangaroo sausage, and cinnamon tea.

“You should share this on your blog,” says Chad, “so everyone knows how well I eat.”


9 / After breakfast, Chad is outside doing some stretches on a sleeping pad-turned-yoga mat while I write a bit and look up walking directions to the famed Grouse Grind hiking trail, which will take us steeply up the mountain this morning.

9:32 / And, we’re off!

10:15 / After a nice half-hour walk through our neighborhood, along a small trail, and up to the foot of Grouse Mountain, we re-fill our water bottles and head onto the Grouse Grind. Unfortunately, only a yard or two up the trail, we run into a no-dogs-allowed sign that lets us know that the ride down on the gondola (a necessity after the steep hike up) doesn’t allow dogs. I stand there for a moment, heartbroken and a little mad. This is one of my least favorite things about North America. Not only do they keep dogs out of indoor spaces, but they also regulate the wilderness, the outdoors, the parks…places that are made for strolling with your best fuzzy friend.

Grouse Grind

We head back into the gondola station to talk to the staff. I ask if they make exceptions for ESAs and am told that, yes, Luna can go with us and ride back down with a special pass. So we will be able to do the grind, but I still feel somewhat outraged for my friends whose dogs aren’t considered necessities.

Despite being given the go-ahead to take Luna, we decide to head back for the day. Chad has worn a pair of shoes that are better suited to less rocky hikes, so we’ll come back next time it’s sunny and he’ll wear better shoes.

forest on the way home

Chad looking toward downtown Vancouver in the distance

12:22 / After a hot shower, a simple lunch of leftovers and fruit and kombucha (my latest obsession and, I believe, one of the reasons my often-upset stomach has been doing okay even as I’ve been going off my meds), and a little writing, we start readying ourselves to head into town. Since we’re not doing the Grouse Grind today, we’ve decided another type of exploration is in order: the search for the city’s best gelato.

Luckily, we have a good idea of where to start. I’ve done a few interviews with locals here in Vancouver and one local pointed us toward an award-winning gelateria near the water. That’s where we’ll be making today’s pilgrimage.

1:30 / We spend the rest of the afternoon in downtown Vancouver walking along the waterfront, picking up a loaf of bread from our favorite bakery, trying the gelato at Bella Gelateria (verdict: good, but not as epic as advertised), gaping at the cruise ships in harbor,  and talking about life and travel and how glad we are that even though we like downtown, we live up near the mountain where it’s much quieter and less crowded.

Vancouver view

Purebread Bakery Vancouver

4:30 / We arrive at home, bathe Luna (who is very unhappy with this turn of events), and feed her a bowl of ground beef, rice, and chickpeas (which brings the happiness right back). She proceeds to romp through the house afterward, shaking her toy side to side and wagging her tail.

Since we’re home so late, I haven’t had time to marinate the lamb I was planning to make tonight and so I decide we’re having egg sandwiches (easy, delicious, filling, so versatile) instead. Since there’s not a lot of food prep involved, I settle into the big leather chair by the window to play online for awhile, browsing Facebook for interesting links, checking in on Instagram, reading blog posts full of writing ideas. I also upload all my photos from today (75) and start on edits.

6:20 / After dinner, I start the lamb marinating for tomorrow. Chad does the dishes. (Generally, this is how it is here: I cook, Chad does the dishes. It’s an arrangement that works well because we both find our respective chores very meditative.)

Then Chad and Luna head out to our patio to soak up the last of the sunshine while I retreat to a hot bath with a memoir about summers spent in a fire lookout tower in New Mexico.

7:30 / Somehow I’ve managed to irritate my old shoulder injury, so by 7:30 I’m leaning back in bed with my right shoulder cradled on a pillow. Chad joins me to watch a few episodes of Big Bang Theory and I fall into a fitful sleep somewhere around 9.

What’s a day in your life like these days?

Going to Vancouver? I wrote a tiny local-centric guidebook for you:

Buy it Now:        Kindle for $2.99 – or Kindle Unlimited for free!

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