Our days in Victoria right after the stormy weather on the coast were all sunshine and warmth. Leaving the country for the first time to Canada might not be so much of a culture shock, but the excitement for the kids as they handed over their passports at the border was no less a milestone, and the adults in our travel party got to trade all our less than pleasant border crossing stories.
We only had three days in Victoria and one of the things we wanted to do was go to Butchart Gardens and do the afternoon tea service. It isn’t as fancy or formal as the tea service at the Empress Hotel, but it’s half the price which actually nudges it towards the realm of “reasonable”, relatively speaking. The kid’s tea menu was better too, for the record, for pickier eaters as it had a bit more kid friendly sandwiches, like grilled cheese. Afternoon tea was a splurge, but who doesn’t love towering platters of food?? And it’s a lot more food than you think. The sandwich platters alone consisted of 6-7 varieties per person, along with cookies, cakes and scones. Nobody in our party could finish it all except for Mark (as usual), and his consistently fast metabolism, despite age, remains one of the biggest mysteries (mine used to be fast and I also used to be able to eat embarrassing amounts of food, but no longer. wah.)
The garden grounds itself are quite beautiful, but since it’s about an hour away by bus from the city, it’s pretty much a whole day activity. We boarded a city bus, though you can charter cushier tour buses for the ride, but given our short stay it was a nice way to see some of Victoria outside the city. On a related note, we chose not to bring our cars on board the ferry to Victoria from our departure point in Port Angeles. We didn’t want the hassle of driving and parking and the city is totally walkable, particularly if you’re only there a few days.
Posted by Jenna | 17 Comments
Hi, neglected blog.
September hasn’t been messing around. We’ve jumped right back into things without missing a beat since we’ve been back. The girls have started school, Mark drove all over the city yesterday to make 9 deliveries to some of our retailers while we’ve been gone, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this busy with work. I do have to admit, I thrive on the challenge of juggling schedules and chaos, but now that I’m back from my short business trip, I’m also looking forward to staying put for awhile. Hello living room couch (my favorite spot in the apartment to work)…I’ve missed you.
It’s amazing how in a span of one week life can be so different. I’ve been looking through our vacation photos and trying to recapture that feeling during some of our travels. This year marked the first time the girls left the country as we headed by ferry up to Canada. It’s been about 12 years since Mark and I have left the country as well. I have never been one of those people attracted to cruises, but Mia has been intrigued by them for a few years now. Not sure where she got the idea of cruises – perhaps her curiosity started when she spotted her first big cruise ship docked at one of the ports here – but she has been fixated on them for awhile. Personally, I can’t think of another way that I’d least like to travel (has anyone been on a cruise and loved it? Curious to know), but there is something very calming about being in the middle of the ocean. You feel very small. The view doesn’t change for a very long time so instead you notice the subtle movements and changes in the water currents and the clouds. Then off in the distance, the first sighting of land is a thrill.
Photos of our days in Victoria soon…
Posted by Jenna | 15 Comments
I’ve done a lot of camping and hiking in my late teens/ early 20s and have spent a lot of time on the Oregon Coast and camping out in the woods and national forests on both coasts, Minnesota and even up in Quebec, but I don’t really remember being in such awe of nature like I have on this trip. Maybe it’s because I was just a kid back then and didn’t really appreciate it like I do now. You know how unimpressed with the world teenagers can be, even for a city kid who suddenly found herself in the middle of the woods for weeks at a time with just a backpack. “Isn’t this amazing??!!?”, I ask the girls. “Yeah”, they reply, a bit less enthusiastically than I expected they would. Oh, kids. But I get it.
The last time I did any sort of camping was right here in the Olympic National Forest. That was about 20 years ago and the only time Mark and I had gone camping together. We packed minimally and I figured we could just cook on a fire because that’s what I always did when camping, but when we got to the campgrounds after a 3 or 4 mile hike, we discovered that fires weren’t allowed. I still laugh at the hilarity of us trying to heat up tofu dogs with a lighter (yeah, that doesn’t really work). It started to rain the next morning so we left the site early. I never owned a pair of proper hiking boots and I think we were both in sneakers, but I remember booking down that trail in the rain so fast. I was hungry and wet. I think the first thing we did was drive to the first restaurant we saw (it was a Sizzler).
It was stormy the day we visited the Hoh Rainforest in the same national park, but much to our relief the rain and wind slowed down when we drove into the forest from our cabin on the coast. We even saw some sun breaks. But the rain started up again as we headed out on a short hike. Half of the family turned back when it started raining harder and the rest of us continued. I had 2 big, heavy cameras on me and it was ridiculously cumbersome to try and take photos while trying to keep the cameras dry. Halfway through the trail, I got stung by a yellow jacket bee in my thigh. At that point, I just wanted to get back to the info center, where there were warning signs about yellow jackets as I recalled, and look at the sting. I hurried the rest of the way down the trail as the rain started coming down harder and it reminded me of the last time we left the campgrounds in the forest.
Despite the rain and the bee sting, our visit to the Hoh Rainforest was pretty spectacular. You just can’t describe something like this in words or really even in pictures. I’m looking forward to the years when the girls can hike longer distances so we can really explore some more of mountains and forests of Washington. Maybe we’ll even go camping again someday. We certainly won’t be waiting 20 years to come back.
Posted by Jenna | 7 Comments
I think we may have found a new family tradition.
The weather didn’t exactly cooperate so we didn’t spend as much time out on the beach at La Push like we thought we would (including roasting marshmallows over bonfires at night on the beach which we were really looking forward to), but we had a great time just the same. There’s something about staying in a cabin by the ocean with lots of family that makes it the quintessential family vacation. Most times the days center around meals. You cook, eat, drink and clean and in a few hours you do it all over again for the next meal.
On our way over to the coast from Olympia, we stopped to get seafood at a place near Aberdeen. We had an empty cooler packed with ice and we were looking forward to getting crab and clams for dinner, and then halibut and scallops for ceviche another night, but we were told that there were no crabs that day. Kind of funny when the whole trip at one point seemed to center around this crab cookout. With some last minute brainstorming, Mark decided to make a seafood chowder. We ate it with corn and lots of pre-dinner appetizers like some smoked salmon that a family member caught and smoked just 3 days before, and some really good olives, brie, home-canned pickled beans and home-brewed beer.
There isn’t any cell signal or wifi out at the coast. And you know what? I didn’t miss it. Sure, we’d all whip out our phones the minute we drove through town (Forks – you know, twilight and vampires and stuff), but the rest of the time we played board games and talked.
A huge storm passed our way our last night in La Push. It was windy and cold and raining sideways. We probably spent all of about 2 hours total on the beach the whole time we were there. We didn’t see any sunsets, we didn’t have a cookout and we didn’t roast marshmallows over bonfires, but it was probably the most memorable part of our entire vacation. Within the first 30 minutes of being settled in our cabin, we all simultaneously agreed that this should be a new family tradition.
Posted by Jenna | 20 Comments
One of the great things about our annual Pacific Northwest trips are the mini trips that we often plan within our vacations. Since we come out here every year to visit and stay with family, we like to revisit places that we haven’t been to in 20 years and we get to share some of these places with our girls. This year we decided to drive to the Washington coast. A road trip! Driving our cousin’s big van with family, the trunk filled with suitcases and food, we set out for a 5 day adventure.
Ruby Beach was our first stop on our way to our final destination. We ate brie and pear sandwiches and explored the beach while we had a break from the misty rain. It would be our only dry day on the coast. More photos to come…
Posted by Jenna | 12 Comments
A little break from the city at a cousin’s house. With horses. And miniature horses. And perhaps the first dog to win Miss C’s affection.
Posted by Jenna | 6 Comments