Saturday, May 12, 2007
By land and by sea Part One
One of the highlights of last month’s trip to visit the clan on
the Olympic Peninsula was a family excursion to the lovely harbor city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. My son, Joe, had asked what was on my wish list of tourist attractions and I requested a ferry boat ride across the Juan de Fuca strait to Canada.
He and his wife, Katie, find a wonderful harbor-side hotel, bundle up all three kids, tandem stroller, backpacks, and we’re off! We drive to Port Angeles, leave the van, and traipse onto the ferry with our overnight gear and kids in tow.
Seattle and the region in general are interconnected by
a great system of ferries. The boats are large and roomy, have snack bars, and offer a fantastic view of the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest, the many islands themselves, and the glorious mountains of Washington state: the Cascades on the mainland and the towering, snow-clad Olympics on the peninsula.
The ferry leaves the Port Angeles harbor and the kids settle down. It takes an hour and a half to make the crossing. Joe, Ben and I and go top side for a better view. The sky is cloud swept and blue and the Olympic mountains shimmer in the haze. Ben scans the horizon for pirates while I look for whales.
It’s so awesome to be standing on a ferry boat, crossing an international boundary line and stepping down in Canada. A sudden blast from the ferry announces our arrival and startles all of us as we line up to disembark. The baby recovers quickly and I am impressed by what good travelers the little ones are. We clear customs and enter a lively scene during one of the first truly spring like weekends of the season. The hotel is only a couple blocks away and we find it has some great views of the harbor and the city.
That evening we take a stroll with the kids past the parliament building and find an Italian restaurant where Ben becomes quite interested in a group of teenage girls who are sitting at the next table. For some reason, their giddy girly behavior annoys him and he announces that they are definitely too loud. I imagine, in another ten years, he will want to be sitting at the same table and making them laugh. For now, though, I feel sorry for the boy - saddled with two younger sisters and two girl cousins. As he told me ages ago while rolling his eyes, “too many girls!”
We return to the hotel quite late. After some jumping on the bed with Iris, Ben and Olivia fall asleep on the living-room sofa bed while I tell of the further adventures of Captain Gruffy Face. I then retire to my private bedroom and take one more photo of the city’s skyline from my balcony. The harbor is aglow with lights which are reflecting in the water. I pinch myself and smile. A Hallmark moment.
Everyone sleeps well, even Iris gives her mommy and daddy a few hours of rest before the morning dawns. Katie, hopefully, gets another reprieve while Joe and I take the baby for a walk in her stroller to find a local Starbucks which provides a takeout breakfast. It’s great walking leisurely, sipping a sugar-free vanilla latte, and catching up with a grown son whom I rarely see. I’m in my element. La dolce vita. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.
Kids eat, dress, and brush teeth with new super-hero toothbrushes (it doesn’t take much to make them happy either). Soon we are exploring the city streets, taking in the colorful sights and sounds of Victoria.