Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekend getaway

To Canada

Morning came way too early...4:45 or so, for the grown ups. We got ready for our day and packed up the car. Kids woke up (more or less) at 5:30, we piled into the car and were off. Our destination for the day...Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. 

To get there, we decided on ferry boat. We caught the Anacortes ferry that goes to Sidney on Vancouver Island, with a short stop in Friday Harbor.
Lined up waiting to get on Ferry
Our ride to Canada
checking out the view on board
pulling away from Anacortes
watching us pull away 
sharing a snack on board

Friday Harbor

Washington state ferries are.... Shall we say, basic, functional... Not luxurious. But fun all the same. This is a route we have never taken before and it was beautiful. Going in between the little islands made for great scenery.  The travel time on this ferry is about 3 hours.... Which is a lot for the size of the ship (or is it a boat? Not sure at what size you make the change). We spent our time on board exploring, eating and watching the scenery go by. Which was more entertaining for some of us than others.
The Elwha
GPS in the car, while we were on the ferry... blue line is our general course, red line is the Canadian boarder

On Canadian soil. Waiting to go through customs

We arrived in Sidney BC and found our way to the Butchart Gardens. It's been well over ten years since we last visited and this visit was far more memorable. We began by having lunch at the Blue Poppy, the cafeteria style restaurant on site. It was fine.. nothing amazing, but we were hungry and eager to start our touring of the gardens. So the location couldn't be beat.
Line to pay and park 

They suggest a basic direction to tour in and we followed along....
A few things to note at this point: the forecast said “chance of rain” and listed it at 30% and the Gardens provide clear plastic umbrellas for use while you are there.
Ok, back to the story.... We picked up two umbrellas, just in case and started down to the path to see the Sunken Garden. Bee U tea ful! No seriously, beautiful. As we ventured down into the garden and started to wander a drop or two began to fall. Nothing really for us folk from rain country. But by the time we finished that garden it was coming down.. I mean really huge drops of water falling fast and furious. Only one member of our clan had a hood... which is standard Pacific NW attire. But we had switched into spring/summer coats due to an 8 day period of really really great weather a few weeks back, and have been holding on the illusion that the sun would return. So we came out of the garden sharing our umbrellas and trying to stay a little dry. Did I mention the umbrellas are really only sized for one person?
view from above the Sunken Garden
Our tour guide

the kids and dad are up there somewhere
Our next stop was found quickly.. the carousel! The kids were thrilled, I was rather wet, so it was a good chance to dry off a bit. And I have to say it was the fastest carousel I have ever been on. Hold on to you hats, folks... this thing isn't joking around!

The ride was over but the rain wasn't... but we ventured on. After a quick restroom break we hit the rose garden and the rain was beginning to lighten up. So we hunted for roses... apparently it isn't rose season :) But we found a few.

through our see through umbrellas

one of very few roses blooming in the rose garden 
rose garden.... soon to be full of color

The rest of our touring around was fun. Overall we enjoyed it quite a bit. I look forward to returning in the summer sometime, when there is more color and less rain :) As a parting treat I got a macaroon and a O Canada Latte.... Ymmmm.
best macaroon ever and an O Canada Latte
Well, that was fun, let's go ride another ferry boat.... ok, lets!
We had reservation on the Tsawwassen ferry from Schwartz Bay to Vancouver. We arrived just a bit earlier than was needed, but lined up and waited. Our youngest adventurer was out cold.. the early morning had caught up with her, so she got a good hour nap in. While the rest relaxed or explored the waiting area.
boarding next ferry
checking out the view

Its been a long day already. Me and my boy.

The BC Ferries are nicer than WA... it's just true. Not that WA's are bad... but BC's are nicer. We explored, snacked, took pictures etc. They had a store, an arcade, two restaurant areas and a snack bar. This crossing went a bit faster than the last... although none of us were quite as patient by this point in the day.
Arriving back on land meant it was time for dinner... and the unending question of where to eat. Well we ended up eating at a Canadian chain that we have seen all over... White Spot. I was pleasantly surprised by the place and my pot pie was very yummy. The kids meals were served in paper pirate ships, which was a huge hit. And I fell in love with the cartoon chicken mermaid - awesome! Not a lot of vegetarian options for hubby, but he found something and we all ate our fill.
A Mer-chicken! Love it! 
Now it's late.. not really, but we got up at 5, and we have 30 min drive to our hotel.. or so we think. (insert ominous music here) We navigated through Vancouver and were just a few mins from Lions Gate bridge when we see police activity ahead....
Another point of interest.. our hotel is in North Vancouver, just over Lions Gate Bridge.
…. As we get closer it becomes clear they are closing the road. What is unclear is why and if the bridge is closed. So we double back and try to get to the bridge through Stanley Park. It is unclear if this approach would have worked had our timing been better, but needless to say... the bridge was closed... so we couldn't go across the bridge - despite our mad navigating skills. With two exhausted kids and two tired parents we called our hotel. “How do we get to you?” Well, it all worked out, it was a wee bit complicated to get our GPS to take us the route we wanted... no one told it the bridge was closed :)
And what went from don’t worry kids, we should be at the hotel in 15, 20 mins max... ended up being an hour! Eeeks.
After we settled into the hotel we did a bit of searching online to see what was up with the bridge closures. And the sad story of a bike vs bus, makes our extra time in the car not feel like that big of a deal.
Sorry to end on a sad note.
We are wiped from a long day and the beds are calling.
Tomorrow DeDutch, a little train and some fishes.

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