Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vancouver Island Trip

We enjoyed a truly excellent trip to Vancouver Island last week -- our first attempt at a road trip with the new full crew. Most of the 400+ photos I took were terrible, but I did post some of the better ones. You can view them as a slideshow if you're so inclined. Tannis had more gumption than I, putting together a nice post reflecting on the trip. Ang also posted a classic photo and some kind words about our excellent stop at their place in Qualicum Beach.

A few months at home with Ezra has been great, but I think we were feeling a bit of cabin fever before we left. My mom offered that we could join them in Victoria and we jumped at it. Then we started thinking that if we were on the island anyway, we should hit Tofino, an epic spot on the west coast of the island that we've been trying to get back to for a decade or so. On a whim, I floated the idea to Angelo and Esther and they responded almost immediately that they would join us -- what fun! Then we all agreed to descend on Steve and Ang's in Qualicum Beach on the way back, turning a family weekend into a much more exciting and social week-long adventure.

Anyway, a few highlights with a couple of links to the related photos:
  • The drive along the Hope-Princeton highway was spectacular in the sunshine; yellow leaves, clear creeks and big mountains.
  • We did hit the aquarium when we got into Vancouver -- a bit rushed and tired, but the girls were stoked by all the crazy creatures. We even ran into Ivy's Summerland friend Jessica and her family there...funny coincidence.
  • The Sylvia Hotel was fantastic...tons of character, an enormous room, right across from English Bay -- the evening was warm and mellow for hanging out and beachcombing. Excellent supper at a Chinese noodle house with Mark, and then Angelo and I got together later for a walk downtown and hit the pub.
  • Yummy breakfast at the hotel in the morning before heading off to the ferry. Despite getting lost in North/West Vancouver in the only rain of the trip, we made it in time to meet Angelo and Esther and everyone loved the ferry ride. The girls were so excited, and it probably ended too quickly for them. Bonus photos: Angelo and Imogene (and again).
  • Lunch at Earl's in Nanaimo (one of the few chains we visited on the trip), with Ezra and Imogene cooperating admirably by sleeping. We stopped at Cathedral Grove Park along the way to see the giant rain-forest trees and the road to Tofino was gorgeous. Nobody got carsick, thanks to our good friend Gravol.
  • We checked out the beach as soon as we got to the Ocean Village Resort, then Angelo made us a gourmet meal of gnocci pasta and decadent sauce. Warm, cozy little a-frame cottages overlooking the water. The girls and I checked out the pool/hot tub later on, which of course was a big hit with them. Full moon, crashing waves after they were asleep. Amazing.
  • The next morning we explored the beach out in front of the resort with A&E...epic sunny morning, then we all went into town for a super breakfast at a bakery cafe.
  • That afternoon the Hieberts checked out Long Beach, which must be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Surfers, starfish in tidal pools, the sun setting into the Pacific, craggy coastal trees, sweeping expanses of was exactly what we needed.
  • That night, I made a mediocre supper for all of us, having forgotten all the key ingredients for a great mexican feast. It ended up being edible, and we had fun anyway. Somewhere in here, I should also add in the 12 times the girls asked to go swimming in the pool or the two or three times I gave in and took them. Oh, and Ezra slept terrible.
  • The next morning we explored around the resort again, hitting the beach at low tide so I could geek out on tidal pools again. Lots of time to walk and listen.
  • Back to The Common Loaf in Tofino for an early lunch, then back on the road. We opted to stop at Long Beach again to savour the epic view, and remembered that we hadn't yet dipped our feet in the ocean. It was very difficult to leave. Very difficult.
  • Ezra was fussy and high-maintenance for most of that morning, then settled into his carseat and slept all the way to Qualicum Beach. The girls even slept; bless their hearts.
  • Six old friends and seven kids converged at Steve and Ang's new place. Crazy. Tommy rocks, Steve should be an ultra-hip singer in a punk band, and Ang is obviously a supermodel supermom. I was so glad to stay up late and catch up with those old pals, drinking beer and sharing some laughs.
  • Back on the road the next day, for a relatively uneventful drive down to Victoria. One stop of note: a very nice cafe in Ladysmith with fantastic food right when we needed it.
  • Victoria for a few days was superfun. The Delta was so posh, even providing the perfect little playing nook for the kids with a view of the harbour. My parents facilitated all kinds of enjoyment, including a visit to the amazing museum and IMAX, taking us out for supper, taking the girls swimming twice and sending Tannis and I out on a date to Spinnakers for some seriously yummy microbrew and tasty food. I even got to go see The Order of the Phoenix on the massive IMAX screen later on the second night...I'm a fan, and never managed to see it in the theater this summer, so it was a major treat.
  • Glorious breakfast in the hotel the last morning, then back on the ferry bound for Vancouver. We had so much fun at the Sylvia that we booked back in. The girls joined me at the art gallery for a wonderful session, and Esther joined us for a Malaysian feast in our room later. We scooted out to Rose and Sam's for a bit before bed -- very nice visit, if too short and too late for the kids.
And that was pretty much that. A serious adventure for this five-person crew. Thanks to everyone on the trip for making it great...and especially my mom for initiating the whole thing and making it extra special in Victoria.

Update: Trip video posted here...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I know I've been neglecting this space, but I couldn't let the day pass without a short tribute to our beloved Ella on her fourth birthday. We can't believe how she's changing, and how her true nature is emerging.

She's an angelic free spirit,
sprinting into the future and rarely slowing down. The pace keeps accelerating -- from the tricycle in April to the run-bike all summer, then pedaling off on her new birthday bike as if it's no big deal this week (video to come). Going from little sister to big sister didn't seem to bother her a bit. One year ago she seemed like such a little girl, but not this year.

Happy birthday Ella Pearl,
beautiful girl
in a big wide world.

Update: Here's the video of Ella riding her new bike on her birthday: