Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Vacation...With a Toddler

Parenthood has changed my life in a lot of ways. Most of them wonderful; some not so glamorous. One of the difficulties we've encountered as parents has been planning vacations. It turns out that kids thrive on routine, and when you upset their routine, the world sometimes explodes a little bit. So, Graham and I debated whether we really wanted to go to the effort of planning a big vacation this year. We both love to travel, and we haven't gone many places since Will joined our family, so we wanted to plan something this year. We wondered though if it would really be worth all the time and money since we didn't know how Will would react to plan rides, sleeping in strange places, and basically having his whole schedule blown to pieces.

Adventure won out in the end, and we booked tickets to Seattle, Washington.

I'll write more about Seattle in my next post, but this time I want to focus on the first half of our trip, which was actually spent in Vancouver, B.C.

We flew into Seattle on Saturday and drove up to Graham’s uncle’s house, where we spent our first night. They were incredibly hospitable (especially considering that that they were total strangers to me) and were super understanding of our crazy busy child, even when he pulled a glass pan of newly made dessert off the counter and broke it. 

They live in a town called Surrey, which is right next to White Rock. Their house was literally on the border of the USA and Canada. If you walk down the street, you can actually just hop a little ditch across the border (but we were told not to try it…apparently they have pretty sophisticated technology that monitors the borders). It struck me how artificial the lines between countries are. Just a little ditch, and you’re in a completely different country.

On Sunday, we went to church with them, and then walked along the coastline in White rock a bit. Will LOVED playing with the rocks on the beach (a trend throughout the trip). 

We had dinner with a bunch of Graham’s cousins and uncle, then we headed up to West Vancouver where we stayed for a few nights with his cousin.

I didn’t really know what to expect of Vancouver. I knew it would be wet, green, and have some big buildings downtown, but I didn’t know what there was to do there. We found some awesome places to visit though, some off the touristy path, which I love. 

Our first stop was Whytecliff Park. You can walk down to the beach and at low tide (below) you can walk out on the peninsula to a little "island". 

There were tons of star fish and mussels, and even a couple of harbor seals lounging on the rocks! See that cute little guy on the left below? He was super calm, even when I got close to take pictures.

Will loved riding in the hiking backpack. It's a pretty great view from up there, after all. 

Next, we drove to Lighthouse Park. It was a beautiful hike through a quintessential Pacific Northwest forest complete with moss covering just about every surface and ferns blanketing the ground. I found this giant leaf that Will became intrigued by (Graham liked it a little less after Will wiped its dirt all over his sweatshirt...oops).

Eventually, we got to a view point of a lighthouse, the first one Graham had ever seen in person. We could also see across the water to a nice view of downtown Vancouver.

After lunch and a nap in the car for Will, we headed to Stanley Park in Vancouver itself. What a cool place! I know most big cities have a large green space (ala Central Park or GOlden Gate Park), but this one really stood out to me. It's basically an island that they've turned into a great community gathering place. There is a petting zoo, trails that criss-cross the island for bikers and pedestrians, along with several other attractions, including an aquarium, which we visited.

Here's a GIGANTIC plant we passed on our way to the aquarium.

At the aquarium, Will enjoyed the touch tanks, trying to touch the fish on the other side of the glass, and playing in the kids' play zone they had (a welcome break for Mom and Dad).

By the end of the afternoon, we were all ready to take a break. We had a nice evening with Graham's cousin, before heading out in the morning for our final day in Canada.

Tuesday, we went to Lynn Canyon to see the suspension bridge there. Super cool! I felt like I was in Costa Rica or something (except it was way colder).

Then we spent a little time waking around Gastown in downtown Vancouver. We found this neat steam powered whistle clock (think cuckoo clock, but bigger and with steam and whistling sounds coming out instead of a bird). There were lots of tourists, including some cute Asian ladies who wanted to take a picture with Will, not the only time that occurred on the trip. :)

We had lunch, and waved goodbye to the city, looking forward to returning again someday.

Stay tuned for part two, where we survive a 5 1/2 hour drive to Bremerton, Washington, where we stay with my grandpa for the rest of the trip and explore the wonders of Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula.

1 comment:

Paul and Susan said...

It was fun to hear more about your trip to Canada. You guys were very adventuresome!