On Saturday, my kids had their very first out-of-country excursion, and I finally visited our neighbor to the north, Canada. Specifically, Vancouver. More specifically, Stanley Park.
“It’s the Central Park of Canada!” my husband said as he pitched me the idea. We’re only about two hours from the city of Vancouver, which makes it closer to us than Portland, which sort of blew my mind–we could visit another country for a day trip. And yet we hadn’t done it before. Why hadn’t we done it?
Probably the same reason I rarely went to Mexico when I lived in San Diego. Border crossing is a pain. You have to plan a trip. You might have to change money (though thanks to modern technology–e.g. credit cards–we were spared that headache on Saturday). It’s a whole big thing–easier to stay at home.
But on Saturday, we did not stay at home, and I’m so glad we didn’t. Thanks to our handy dandy Nexus passes, we crossed the border with ease and were soon in the gorgeous city of Vancouver with all its glass skyscrapers and beautiful stone buildings and flashing green traffic lights (which apparently mean the cross traffic has a stop sign instead of a light and/or operates like a left turn arrow though it works differently in Vancouver than it does in the rest of Canada, or something like that, making it a strange and sometimes perilous system). It took two hours to get to the city and then a half hour to cross the city to get to the park, but that traffic didn’t bother me because I was busy admiring the architecture. And then we came to Stanley Park. Our first stop was the train.
You see, there’s a little train that goes through the little patch of forest that remains in the midst of the city, and it’s all my son had talked about for days. It’s how we sold him on the trip: anything involving transportation is a big draw for him. So naturally it had to be our first stop, which was lucky since it inexplicably shut down in the afternoon–a fact I only know because we stopped there to find a bathroom after my son had some, um, difficult tummy problems–the kind that resulted in his wearing a beach towel home. But anyway, it was still morning, and his tummy was fine, and he grinned the whole time we chugged through the trees, learning about nature and the history of Vancouver.
Next, we hit the playground, which was a big hit with the kids as playgrounds often are. Then a walk to the lumberman’s arch, which is kind of a big piece of wood and it’s easy to miss as it’s obscured by a giant tree which I guess is actually part of it–we didn’t really see the arch until later, driving by, because Violet dragged us down to the beach and tried to go swimming, as she does whenever she sees any body of water of any size, including this great Canadian puddle:
She wasn’t too happy we didn’t let her dive in, but she did like the sand and the shells, and Sam enjoyed climbing around in the driftwood and admiring the big, beautiful bridge in the distance.
Then we stopped for lunch. I had a smokie, which was really delicious. (Always order something you don’t find on menus at home–that’s my motto when eating on the road.) I also had a crow fly right past my head and try to steal said smokie, but I was too fast for it. (Haha, stupid crow!) So that was fun.
Then we drove off to see the park’s collection of totem poles.
Then the lighthouse–or, one of the lighthouses (I forget which one).
And then Sammy’s stomach troubles began. Which led to tantrums and fights and several changes of pants. But we didn’t know it would lead to all that, so we pressed on a little longer, checking out a giant hollow tree and a playground/festival where Sam and Daddy played while Violet and I rested in the car. Sam got to try his Daddy’s favorite sport, curling.
And then, pardon the expression, things went to shit. So we went home. But it really was a fun morning and despite his tummy troubles, Sam had a great time and didn’t seem to feel too sick, overall. We had to miss our dinner plans but that wasn’t a huge loss, and it saved us some money (this was a remarkably cheap trip). And, yeah, Ian spent some time scrubbing and airing out his car when we got home, but it really was a good morning. And I loved Vancouver. I can’t wait to go there again.