Trip to Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (BC)- Canada

As mentioned in the very last post, we were staying at the Holiday Inn Suites and noticed many people were in cycle gear and the parking  lot had many riders preparing for a ride.

Bill got online and discovered there was Lynn Canyon park just up the street where you can hike to a lake or to the suspension bridge.  We were in a prime spot for outdoor activity.  We couldn’t pass that up and the park was just up the road from our hotel.  Seriously, we just turned left out of the parking lot and it took us to this road, which ultimately ended at the park.

Now we had a better understanding of why so many bikers started out from the Holiday Inn parking lot. There was a lot of activity: people walking their dogs, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and on the paved path: rollerblading/skating, and skateboarding. One person was on roller blades using poles, to simulate cross-country skiing. There was a large spot at the bottom, which the kids would go up a small hill and roll back down (without being too scary.)

Samantha insisted on using her scooter. We were concerned one of the paths might turn into dirt and render the scooter useless.  However, Sammie refused to use her bike. That’s okay, because it was a perfect spot to hone her skills. After hopping like a crazy person to stop, she finally attempted the brake…but still prefers to hop off the equipment. At least she was practicing.

I bumped into a local walking his dog back to the car. He was upset:

 “I’ve been coming here for 20 years, and never had a problem. I guess people were not picking up after their pets and it posed a risk to nature- so they are no longer allowing dogs past a point on the path leading to the lake.”

Great.  We had Ozo with us.  Bill took the kids up a ways, while I explored the dirt path nearby with the dog.

Unfortunately, they never made it to the lake, as the paved path ended and it became more rugged, downhill terrain, which the kids didn’t feel like doing.  (Remember, Samantha had her scooter) and Gibson wasn’t experienced enough with his bike for that kind of “off-roading.”

Eventually, they joined me on the other “dirt” path, that portion leading to the lake didn’t allow bikes at all, but the rest of the path was fine.  I showed them something discovered while exploring on my own.  I had passed a couple of local women hiking and inquired what fruit was growing.  Luckily, they knew and shared:

“Oh, those are Salmon Berries.  You can pull them off and eat them straight from the plant.  They used to be a staple food for those indigenous of this area.  They look like a blackberry and taste like a huckleberry.  You know they are ripe when they are soft.”

I indicated it looked more like a raspberry.  It tasted like a light version of a raspberry.  Not as pungent.  Of course, I had forgotten the name of the berry and inquired of the next group of guys, because I had to note it for the blog.  They indicated a raspberry is darker in color because it grows in more direct sunlight.  Here, the salmon berry is lighter in color and there isn’t much sun due to the tall trees.

Interesting. In southern CA, we don’t pull berries off bushes and eat them.  I was waiting to be ill, but all was well.

A cute little girl had passed by, and exclaimed:

“Oh!  A salmon berry!”  and squatted and reached in a bush, pulling off the fruit and quickly popping it into her mouth.  Okay, I feel comfortable having the kids try it!

So, I showed the family my discovery and had Bill take some photos so I could blog about the adventure.  Usually, Samantha is the child willing to try anything.  She refused, but Gibson was game.  At first, he wasn’t too sure, but he said it was “Kinda good…kinda not, but good.” with a shrug.

Then as we walked along, and the kids yelled “Look, at that hairy rock!”

We saw some interesting trees and had fun walking the dirt path and seeing all the other dogs and their owners.  We didn’t come across too much wild life.  The birds and squirrels weren’t really anywhere to be seen- I’m guessing because of the dogs.

Ozo liked encountering other pets and Samantha took time to find rocks.  Meanwhile, Gibson got hungry again and asked if there were anymore berries.

We decided to put away the bike and scooter so we could hike to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.  I’ll blog about that in the next post.

 

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Ferry from Vancouver Island to Vancouver Mainland (BC) Canada

Oh my, where did I leave off…OH yeah, just leaving Donna (The Redneck Princess) in Victoria to drive to the ferry (all by myself!)  So, thankfully, Donna gave me directions and using the GPS unit (sometimes that doesn’t work 100% fantastic) we got there okay with enough time for the kids to play on the playground and for me to buy kettlecorn (YUM!)  By the way, did I gripe before over the ferry fee?  $77.00 dollars, really?

Per my last couple of posts, My husband had left on an earlier ferry with his sales rep and I had to figure out how to get to Vancouver myself.  Bill is so sweet!  He left me a voicemail indicating for me to find the Kettlecorn Lady, and she’d give me a discount.  Well, you best believe I found her!  She gave me (2) bags for $6.00, which normally it’s $6.00 for one bag.  I received the same discount as her regular truck drivers!  Yipee!  The kids were happy, all was good.

When it came time to enter the ferry, that was kind of tricky.  It was difficult to figure out which lane to stay in, and I was following the person in front of me.  Mistake.  Next thing I know, an angry driver in the lane I moved into honked (well, blared is more like it) his horn at me.  Ooops.  Sorry, dude.  I’m a frazzled mom who hasn’t done this before- get over it.

So, I remember from our first ferry experience, traveling over from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria (BC) Canada…my husband was directed to park next to the ship wall and the lanes were all SO CLOSE that we could hardly exit the vehicle.  He was skinny and able to squeeze through…with that in mind, I parked closer to the wall on the passenger side, so I had ample room.  This ticked off people walking as we were right next to the stairwell and they had squeeze past the car.  Ooops.  Sorry, woman!  Again…frazzled mom who hasn’t done this before- get over it!

All excited I had made it thus far, we followed people up (2) flights of stairs.  We walked out a bit and sat next to a window.  This is when I realized in a panic, wait, this is a rather LARGE vessel.  We can’t move or else mommy isn’t going to remember where she parked the car!  So I began to memorize the deck and stairwell number.  luckily, we were parked near the kids play zone.  Whew!  I couldn’t be late getting to the car, or else those parked behind me would be really upset!  And let me tell you, when the ship docks, people zoom off quickly!

At this time, I left Donna a message: “Yea, we got on board safely!”

So, we arrive to Vancouver about an hour-90 minutes later and I exit off the ship no problem.  (hands in the air) YEA!  Hotel address plugged into GPS unit and we’re off and running.  Of course, it had to be 5:30 (rush hour) so I expected some traffic.  INSTEAD, the GPS decide to get wacky on me.

“Turn right on 99South in 200 ft.”

I see the 99, but the only on ramp is 99North, not South.  Too late, already going in the wrong direction.  A swear word or two escapes my mouth

RECALCULATING.”

Don’t GPS units say that in the most annoying voice, as if they are irritated with you?  Next thing you know, your “new” route seems to be taking you away from the city.  So we circle around a different way, and each time it told me to make a turn, there were (2) options right next to each other.  Canada doesn’t label things very clearly.  Crap, I don’t know what to pick- okay the one with less cars…

RECALCULATING.”

More swear words…now I’m in residential area.  I’m pretty sure this is not the way…

RECALCULATING.”

OMG.  I’m never going to get there!  Around this time, Bill decides to call, but I made a turn and a heavy box fell on Ozo!  Gibson couldn’t get the box off him and I couldn’t answer the phone.  Chaos!

Me:  “Is Ozo crushed?”

Gib:  “He’s in a small corner and looking very sad”

And Gibson mimics a face that the dog is making.  Great.

Me:  “Can you help him?”

We went back and forth (as I was not in a spot to stop) and Gibson was finally able to move the box, which at the very next turn fell AGAIN on Ozo.  OMG!  Seriously?

Me:  “Okay, Ozo, you’re just going to have to hang on buddy.”

I hoped to not get pulled over, or I’d be arrested for animal abuse.  5 minutes later, I’m at the Holiday Inn hotel.  WOW.  By that point, it was 7pm.  Bill thought it would take me much longer to make North Vancouver with traffic.  I guess all those wrong turns, were right turns after all…it took me out of traffic!

All I know, I had another successful driving trip in another country…YES!  If I wasn’t still sick, I would have had a celebratory beer!

So, the Holiday Inn grounds were pretty amazing, and many bike enthusiasts  enjoyed staying there.  In addition, some stars had stayed there in the past, like Shania Twain, Pierce Brosnon, and Clint Eastwood.  My kids enjoyed the indoor pool, except there was SO MUCH chlorine!

Here are some photos.  Some shots were taken through the ferry window, but came out fairly decent:

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Last Day in Victoria- meet up with The Redneck Princess

The main reason I was looking forward to Canada so much, was the opportunity to meet up with fellow blogger pal, The Redneck Princess.  Donna indicated she lived on the opposite Side of Vancouver Island, Campbell River, and would be willing to make the 3 hour drive to meet us in Victoria.

We made these plans, not sure if we’d actually get the opportunity to meet up, and we almost didn’t!  Bill’s sales rep arranged all the meetings with the cities.  He had it worked out so that we only had Tuesday afternoon to tour the city, and then the following morning, they had to leave at 9:30 am to make the ferry and their mainland meeting on time.

Notice, I said “they?”  Bill indicated my options were to have everyone packed up and follow them to the ferry (at 9:30am) or to venture on my own later.  Well, that didn’t sound good to me, whatsoever, neither option.  Donna only had time to meet me for lunch on Wednesday.  Leaving early wouldn’t allow for that meeting to happen.  Also, there’s no way I could have everyone in the car ready to go…especially how the car was left!  Yet, driving by myself to a ferry and somehow finding my way to North Vancouver, that sounded like a recipe for disaster.

What did I pick???  Well, I really wanted to meet Donna, so I said “I’ll do it!”  And we made plans to meet in our hotel lobby at 11am.  Some how, I got us all packed and downstairs on time and checked out of the room!  The hotel kept our luggage (better stacked this time on the cart) and allowed me to keep the car in their lot until after lunch.  WAHOO!

Our timing couldn’t have been better, as we were only in the lobby for about 3 minutes, when Donna and Hannah came through the door.  Her Bill was having a difficult time finding parking.  (remember my original post on parking in Victoria?)  It’s a little confusing even for those living on the island!  Apparently, you have to log your parking meter number into a machine and pay for it via cash or credit card.  Luckily, some locals explained it all to us. :)  The great thing, you can walk anywhere and find one of these posts to add more time to your slot.  However, you’re really only allowed to add once and even that is discouraged.  They’d rather you move your car to another spot, and might give you a ticket if you have the car in one spot too long.

From there, we walked a few blocks in search of a place with a patio that we could have the dog. Remember, we had to check out of our hotel room, so that meant I had Ozo with us. Luckily, since it was very overcast and breezy, we found one place that allowed our dog to be on the patio, while we were inside (near the door) It was perfect!

The food was tasty, and the company SUPERB! Immediately, I felt a bond with Donna and we’d be close friends if we lived nearby and her Bill is witty. My Bill feels badly about not meeting them and hopes they do come out to California and visit us!

We finished up our visit with a little walking around and window shopping. Apparently, while I waited outdoors with the dog, she had the kids inside and found a “Redneck Talking Toilet” and Gibson presses the button after Donna, which it then says some swear word. Great. Thanks, Donna.:) Actually, they probably hear worse from mommy when the GPS unit doesn’t work.

I was SO happy to meet Donna, and felt like I left a best friend behind…her Bill was wonderful and helped me rearrange somethings in the car so that we could make everything fit. They gave me directions to the ferry and I was off…desperately hoping to not get lost!

By the way, Donna, apparently I misspelled Blanshard or Blanchard…that’s why the GPS unit couldn’t find it…it was the other spelling. Duh. Can’t believe I didn’t think to spell it the other way, as well!

Here are some pictures:

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Exploring Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Okay, where am I and what am I doing?  Where did I leave off guys?

Ohhhh, my trip to Victoria, BC Canada…one of my new readers, Christine, is planning a trip there and inquired what we saw and did.  I’m a little late getting this post up for her, but she plans to be staying at the Empress for a week.  The Empress, geeze, I’m impressed!  Ha- Ha, couldn’t help it, but mannnnn, take a look at this place!  I pointed that out to my husband and inquired why we weren’t staying there!

Christine indicated they were doing “High Tea,” and so perhaps they can follow that up with a carriage ride, and a trip to the spa?

That’s not how our trip went. Bill’s sales rep for Canada territory, suggested The Bug Zoo

It would have cost us approximately $35.00 to enter, which is more costly to view some bugs than I would have liked. Yet, we would have done, had we not arrived 15 minutes past closing time.  So we settled for looking inside the window and at what we could have purchased in the gift shop!

Another activity suggested to us, was Miniature World, which would have cost us approximately $40.00 (plus some other fee) to enter a museum of little miniature scenes someone put together, kind of like putting together model airplanes.  Although I’m sure some people would find this interesting, not for about 50 bucks, especially, when the kids can’t touch the displays.  We settled for looking at the sidewalk display windows.  Surely enough, Samantha wanted to go in and “play with” the house.  It looks too much like her barbie/miniature people doll house at home.  Gibson wanted to play “war” with the army.  There was no way we were going into this museum to tell the kids “Oh, you can’t touch them.”  What’s the point?

We were surprised at how EXPENSIVE Victoria, well Vancouver Island is…well, Canada in general. Bill checked into the thrill boat ride as a possible activity for he and Gibson- that was $100/per person! Are you kidding me?

Victoria reminded us of how expensive visiting Hawaii and New York City are for the budget conscious. Our budget wouldn’t allow for more than cruising around town and free window shopping. We ate some Pizza, and then grabbed an ice-cream…which is what the kids wanted!  We were only there 1 evening and half the next day.  Here are some random shots:

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From Nanamio back to Victoria (BC)- Canada

As mentioned in the very last post, I was faced with the challenge of getting everyone in the car, and returning back to Victoria to meet Bill at the Best Western there.  (Why a lot of Best Westerns?  They take dogs and their fees for dogs are usually a little less than their competitor.)

So the GPS gets us to the Best Western, in Victoria.  The city somewhat reminds me of San Francisco, a lot of ONE WAY streets, and a challenge to find parking and you have to pay.  Luckily, Bill’s rep, Jackson, informed me to just park in front of the hotel as you have to do valet.  Really?  Mandatory Valet, wow.

Fortunately for me, there was plenty of space to pull my Odyssey in, including the bike rack, WITHOUT having to parallel park the traditional way.  Thank you GOD!  You see, parallel parking is a challenge normally for me.  I avoid it whenever possible and will drive further down the road for regular parking!  Now, I have the additional bike rack, the car loaded so seeing all angles is nearly impossible, AND it’s a one-way street so I’m parking on the driver’s side instead the passenger.  YUP, incredibly relieved I was able to just pull in without having to back it in…yea, something going my way.

I tell the kids to STAY, (I’m used to talking to the dog) and bounce into the hotel lobby.  Yes, bounce…I’m happy I made it and Bill had said he’d be there about 2pm.  He always gives himself extra time so I didn’t doubt he arrived probably an hour earlier than estimated.  AND, it was 2pm ON-THE-DOT.  Don’t ask me how I did that.  I didn’t try.

Of course, you know what happened next, right?  Any guesses?  Yup, Bill hasn’t checked in yet…okay, run back to the car and call him.  No answer.  Great.  Okay, we can wait in the lobby for him…except, now I notice the “white” parking zone is only 10 minutes.  Not knowing how long Bill would be, I ran back inside:

“Excuse me.  I’m not sure how long my husband will be, can I check into the room?”

Surely, I just have to provide them a temporary credit card and then they will bill whatever card we choose later.  Okay, sounds good…EXCEPT, the one credit card wouldn’t work earlier and I have to call the company.  BUT, the other card worked for gas.  So I quickly give the front desk that card and run out to the car to check on the kids…return and THAT CARD was declined.  What???  Seriously?

So I run back out to the car to make the call to the credit card company that called me earlier.  Apparently, I had to tell them I was traveling and give them a date of how long I expected to be in Canada.  It’s a “Fraud Prevention” method.  With that credit card rep on the line, I run back inside to ensure the card goes through and it does- SUCCESS!

(are we a spectacle for bystanders yet?  You bet.)

Now, it seems we’d be done and nicely waiting for daddy to come through the door, right?  You’d think, but we still have the issue of the car…which the front desk states:

“We have complimentary valet parking, but the camping gear on top needs to be removed, as the garage has height restrictions.  Are there any locks?”

Of course, it couldn’t be easy.

Luckily, everything is bungee corded and not locked.  So I and one of the Valet Attendants/bell hops got started.  I had to open the bike rack and slide it out to open the back of the car.  Then boxes had to be pushed around to make room for the tent and storage container.  I made everyone get out and stand on the sidewalk.  The poor guy, in his white shirt, was standing on the bumper, leaning against our filthy car and grunting to pull our stuff off the top…and kindly instructed me what to do so I wouldn’t get hurt!  He was so gracious and awesome.  Somehow we made everything fit!  I was so grateful, that I gave him a $10.00 tip, and was worried it should have been more.

We had one of those hotel/valet carts, and I swear, it looked like we were MOVING IN and we were  only there for 1 evening.  I have our suitcase, the kids each have their suitcase, the dog  has his rolling cart of stuff, the dog cage, the camera case, etc!  Everything was haphazardly placed on the cart and wobbling, something ready to tumble.  We were quite the whirlwind of activity.

Okay, so the customs dude must have warned Best Western about us, because I swear, they were ready for me!  They had good cause to be suspicious of the Ormsbys.  The front desk attendant informed me we were upgraded at no additional charge, and got us out of the lobby as quickly as possible!:)

Our room ROCKED!  It was a suite, and too bad we were only staying one evening.  The kids were so excited.  Here are some pictures, unfortunately I had camera on the wrong setting and they are a little blurry:

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Entering Victoria (BC) Canada

All photos on the left is what we saw entering the port to Victoria (BC) Canada.

As soon as we began our journey, it started raining.  It remained over-cast and drizzling our entire trip.  It was about 63 degrees.  Locals shared with us that they are tired of Spring and haven’t yet seen summer.

Directly off the boat, we hit customs.  He was so stern and we felt like we were being interrogated and were suspicious folk.  Someone told on us!  Okay who was it…  The Honda Odyssey, with all the camping gear on top and the fact both Bill and I wear glasses must have tipped him.  Obviously, we were up to no good.

Finally, we were allowed to proceed.  Whew, that was a close one…sneaking freaky are the Ormsby’s.

Now we’re on the roads of Canada.  Driver’s beware!

Immediately, we headed to Nanaimo and Bill pointed to the speed limit sign:

“Hon, tell me what the speed limit is.”

There was a large 90, and he was expecting me to fall for it:

“Oh, that’s km, and not miles!”

Ha!  Now we had to figure out what that converted…easily I pointed to our speedometer, where both m/km were.  It worked out to be about 55 mph.  Oh, it was so slooooow!

The Best Western was okay, nothing spectacular.  It had a nice little balcony for Ozo to walk in and out of the room.  There was a beautiful breakfast dining area, but it was just a basic Continental selection.   Darn.

Bill checked into the thrill boat ride- it's $100.00/per person! WHAT?

We only stayed there one evening, where I learned I had to drive and meet Bill back in Victoria!  What??

“Wait, you are going to a meeting in Nanaimo, and then returning to Victoria for another meeting…leaving me to find my way back there?

YIKES!

After loading everyone up, I saw there was a gas station across the street.  Immediately, I went to fill up the tank, and my 1st credit card was declined.  Odd.  The 2nd credit card worked- good!

Got on the road, and guess what was in the fast lane of the hwy?  A BIG RUBBER TRASH CAN!  You’ve got to be kidding me.  It was the 30 gallon kind that you pull out to the sidewalk for the garbage collection.  Luckily, it rolled into the slow lane, but there was a long, big pick-up truck driving an incredibly wide, long trailer.  I made room for him to come into my lane, but instead he drove over the bucket, probably hoping it would pass under the vehicles.  Unfortunately, it got stuck and he had to pull over to the emergency lane.

Ok, no offense, but I’m glad it was him and not me!  I’ve had my share of car experiences and I don’t think Bill would believe the odd, bouncy trash can caused more damage to the car!

Right around this time, I get a call from the credit card company, the automated voice telling me someone tried to use my card in Canada.  YES- me!  Now my card wouldn’t work until I called them to verify!

Luckily, the remainder of the ride was fairly uneventful.  The GPS unit did it’s job and got me to the Best Western, in Victoria…

…where I was faced with another challenge which I’ll blog about in the next post!

:)

 

 

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Port Angeles- WA- Ferry to Victoria (BC) Canada

The hotel we stayed in Port Angeles, WA was the Red Lion and very spacious.  That’s where we left our ice chest tray in the room refrigerator filled with yogurts/gogurts and string cheese, in our haste to make the ferry on time!  We just realized this, today!  All of it would have spoiled since we didn’t add ice for the past 3 days.  (way to waste money)  I don’t know if the hotel cleaning staff check the refrigerators often.  Someone is going to be in for a surprise!

Okay, the ferry requires you to be there an hour before departure.  What a pain, hence the reason we were running around like crazy people and left things behind in the room.  I have only taken a ferry once, when I was 10 and we visited cousins in Tacoma, WA and we took a ferry to the Seattle space needle.  Now here we were explaining the process to our 7 and 5-year-old.

I was SHOCKED how expensive it is to use that method of travel.  WoWEE!  $77.00 (cha-ching!)  There’s a car fee, adult fee, and either the kids are free or a lower fee for them.  I don’t know how people doing business can afford this daily!  They must have some sort of frequent traveler package.  Fortunately, some of that fee can be written off as a business expense, except me and the kids.

It took about an hour and 15 minutes to arrive to Victoria.  Samantha liked how slowly the ferry went, and didn’t have her melt-down like we expected.  Ozo got to come up top and sit with us on deck.  It drizzled a bit.  It doesn’t seem like summer at all here.  Good thing I packed all sorts of clothing for various weather!

We took the Black Ball Ferry, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.


Here are some photos of the ferry and of Port Angeles from the strait.

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