Sunday, March 31, 2013

Victoria Part II

So this is still part of the second day.  Looking back I can't believe how much we crammed into our days, I had to do an outfit check on the pictures just to make sure that it really was the same day.  No wonder we were so exhausted by the time we got home and no wonder my kids spent the next three days watching 8 hrs of Disney Channel after we got back.  So after the Goldstream Park, we drove to the Hatley Castle, which really wasn't that cool.  It's actually a part of a university now and is used for administrative offices, so we didn't tour the inside because there's not much to see.  But it was on our way to our next stop and it was pretty to look at from the outside. 

Our next stop was the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard lighthouse.  Jayden loved all the old cannons, gun magazines and artillary.  Should I be concerned about how overly excited he got about weapons? Probably. We had the place pretty much to ourselves (the only upside to traveling in off season) and they enjoyed running around the old ruins of what was once an important military fort.

The lookout point had the most fabulous views of the ocean and the lighthouse. Lighthouses are so romantic.

I love how the sea and sky just seem to blend together.  This was probably the first time we had seen the sun all week long and it made for some spectacular views.

They had some interesting history facts and interactive games for the kids inside of the lighthouse. Plus it had the cutest white wood plank floors and Tiffany blue walls.  Kinda made me want to become the keeper of the lighthouse, too bad it's all done with electricity now. 

From there we headed over to the Fisherman's wharf where the kids loved feeding the sea lions.  They said it was their favorite part of the trip.  Man, we could have saved a lot of money and just hung out at the wharf all day.

They had these really quirky floating houses there.  Like they were for reals houses and they were for reals just floating at the docks.  You would walk by and see people inside washing dishes or on their couch watching tv, it was bizarre. One was even for sale.  For $300,000 you could be the proud owner of a house that rocks during storms and has a constant stream of tourists pearing in your windows.  Tempting.

Kylie decided this green house is the one she would want to live in.  After that we went back to the hotel, ordered pizza, swam in the pool, played a few rounds of Uno and then slept like a rock.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Victoria Part I

Victoria was breathtaking, just like I knew it would be. Our hotel was right down town and had a view out to the harbor.  The kid's favorite pastime in the hotel was watching the city light up at night and watching the world go by outside the window (except when they spotted the old man in his underwear in the apartment across the street). It's funny how we planned all these amazing trips, but some of our favorite memories were the ones we didn't even plan.  The Uno game nights, ice-cream and popcorn parties while watching our first ever episode of Duck Dynasty, eating The Old Spaghetti Factory take out in the hotel conference room when the restraunt wait was too long (and then getting kicked out).  Yeah sure, we had our moments where everyone got on every single person's every last nerve, and Ryder was officially declared a maniac and we swore off family vacations until he was atleast 5. The moments where we found ourselves taking shelter from the rain all huddled up in a public restroom and washing out muddy shoes in the sink. Or alternating between McDonald's and Little Caesar's for every meal because Ryder is much too out of control to take into a restraunt. Or sitting in the car watching the wind howl outside and thinking how every fiber of my being wanted to stay in the car instead of attempting another hike.  But it just wouldn't be a family vacation without those moments too.   

We arrived off the ferry that evening and didn't let the rain stop us from exploring the charming city (much to the disappointment of the kids who would have rather stayed back and watched Animal Planet all evening).  The cherry blossoms were delightful, the river front was beautiful and the Chinatown was, well, Chinesey.

We did a walk-thru of the magnificent Empress hotel. I was a little dissapointed to find out it wasn't haunted. We were hoping to walk through the Parliament building, but never found the time.

Fan Tan Alley.  It is famous for being the most narrow street in all of North America.

The next morning was deliciously foggy.  Like, I was waiting for Edward to emerge from the forest, kind of foggy.  We headed over to the Goldstream Provincial Park where we were welcomed by the most vibrant greens and trees that knocked my socks off.  I think I ended up with like 50 pictures of the backside of the rest of the family walking through the wooded trails.  I couldn't help but lag behind soaking it all in.  This desert creature is seriously craving some green in her life. 

We spotted a few bald eagles, like the one below.  I would die to come back during the trout spawning season, it would be amazing to see that in person and to see all the bald eagles swooping down to catch some unsuspecting prey.  It would also be amazing to come back during the summer and camp here where the kids can romp through the woods catching bugs and wading in the streams.  Atleast I'm grateful we could come enjoy it now, rain, fog, cold and all!

We heard there were some falls that were worth walking to.  They weren't too far from the road so we sauntered over and weren't prepared to get blown away.  They were huge! You could barely hear yourself speak and the spray coming off of it reached us hundreds of feet away.  Seriously breath taking. 

Ryder's favorite thing was throwing rocks into the water.  He threw the biggest fit when Jason finally carried him away kicking and screaming.  That boy had his own agenda the entire weekend, and not once did it coincide with ours.  It's a good thing he's so dang cute.

Sleepless in Seattle

We (okay, maybe just I?) have been spoiled with trips lately.  Spring break was coming up and we had some frequent flier miles to put to good use, so we decided to explore the Northwest with a trip to Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver, Canada.  We woke up at 4:30am and barely made our flight.  But we made it, and Ryder traveled great and we were off to a good start. 

I've been to Seattle once before when I visited my good friend, Jodee for her 30th birthday.  I remember it was green, beautiful, rainy and catching a fish at Pike's market was the highlight.  I was more than a little disappointed when the fish throwing boys weren't throwing any fish, I had kinda hyped it up for the kids and I wanted them to see what a rockstar I was.  They weren't super impressed with this place, it was cold and smelled like fish.  They did like getting grossed out by all the fish and sea creatures and I loved walking around and seeing all the unique vendors and sampling the fresh fruit.

Jason's favorite were the Asian buns. I kinda like his Asian buns.

The gum wall was just a hop, skip and a jump away.  At the beginning of the alley you see some gum stuck to the wall and it's gross but it's not that cool, but then you keep walking down and it is like nothing I've ever seen before. Disgusting and fascinating.  Of course we had to leave our mark and it took about 20 minutes to pick the perfect spot.

We then did the express tour of Seattle where we drove to a tourist spot, hopped out for a picture, hopped back into the warm van and drove to the next stop.  We seriously did the entire city of Seattle by 2:30.  They were too cold to even get out for the obligatory Space Needle shot.

Kerry park boasted the best views of the cities.  The beautiful homes on the drive up were pretty remarkable too. I wish we could have come here on a clear night, I bet the lights would be amazing. They had a fun playground that Kylie and Jayden played on while I sat in the van with the boys.  I spent a lot of time sitting in the van with the boys. 

The Fremont Bridge Troll.  Maddox was a little freaked out at first and the homeless people living under the bridge made us not want to spend too much time here.  We got our one shot and were on our way.  It was still pretty cool to see, especially the real car he is smashing with his hand, and we all made speculations about how it was made.

The Gasworks park with its pretty view of the city in the back ground is another spot that I'm sure would be fun to play at if it wasn't rainy and cold.  Instead we went back to the car with wet shoes and a chill to the bone.  Due in part to the fact that I let the boys jump in puddles for a picture's sake.  After that we went back to the hotel to warm up and nap.  Atleast me and Ryder napped, I don't know what everyone else did.

The highlight of Seattle was by far our visit with our good friends, the Chapmans.  They gorged us on pizza and it was so nice to let the kids run around while we chatted.  Sometimes you make friends and you lose touch over the years, and sometimes you make friends and they remain friends for life.  The Chapmans are those kind of friends.  I only wish we could have spent more time together, the kids were sad to say goodbye, and so was I!

The next day we drove a few hours through beautiful green countryside and then took a ferry over to Victoria, Canada where the next leg of our adventure began!