Monday, August 12, 2013

End of Vacation

Yesterday was not really worth writing about. We got up, got packed out of the hotel. Stopped at Starbucks to pick up breakfast, and headed to the ferry. Long waiting time, since we had to clear customs there.

Ferry was ok. Sam was still in a bad mood about Micah. I pulled out the “big guns” by reminding him that David lost his own little brother when he was about Sam’s age. Complaing calmed after that.

Then a looooong drive down along the side of Olympic National Park. Granted, I slept most of the time, being absolutely exhausted, but David was SO frustrated by the slow progress of the drive. We stopped in the middle of nowhere at a Subway for late lunch (Micah’s favorite restaurant these days). Finally made it to Great Wolf Lodge, outside Olympia, around 4pm.

Great Wolf Lodge is a ginormous Water Park and hotel fun zone for kids. We are rather anti-commercial family, so we managed to avoid buying any junk. Just spend lots of time in the water park.

The kids had a BLAST. Sofia was afraid the first time she went on each slide, but before she hit the bottom she was asking “More! More!” I spent the first several hours running back and forth between the water park and the guest laundry (way on the far end of the hotel, very long walk) while David handled Sofia and the boys. I finally pulled Sofia out at 8:45 for a shower, and the boys were there until closing time at 9.

The elevators were all broken to get back to the room on the 7th floor. Sofia made it, though, which was amazing. We got showered, and then back down stairs to try to get food.
The restaurants closed at 10, and it was about 9:40, so we were pushing it. The boys just wanted pizza, so I ordered for them (pay was attached to the wrist bands) and they took their pizza up to the room. David, Sofia and I made it into the restaurant. Whew. At least they had good “Vanilla Cola” drinks (rum and coke).

Everyone slept VERY late today. We got out of the room a little after 10, packed the car, and went to breakfast (which closed at 11). Then it was off to the water park again.
We stayed until about 2pm. I got a bit dizzy this time. Possibly too little sleep and it was wamr in there today.

Eventually we showered and left. Two hour drive to Portland. We’re staying near the airport. Heading to a nice fish restaurant on the water shortly. Home tomorrow!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Saturday on Vancouver Island

Well, we did not make it to shul. I woke up at 8:00, and David said he had not fallen asleep until 4am. And the kids were still out cold. So we let them sleep. Sofia woke up around 8:30, Micah shortly after that, but Sam and David slept until 10. I guess they needed it.

So we dressed and headed to Starbucks (which, by 11am, was the BEST thing I ever saw!). Breakfast, and then into downtown.

Sofia and I dropped David and the boys off at the bicycle rental place. They spent the next three hours hard at work on the trail. Meanwhile, we had a Girls Day in Victoria. Lovely time.

Found cheap parking, and walked to Fisherman’s Wharf, which was much smaller than elsewhere. But Sofia had fun running on the planks. Then she played on the playground for a while, making friends with a young German boy (we ran into him again later).

Then she got in her chair and I gave her my pink umbrella to hold for shade. She was stylin’. We strolled along the Waterfront Walk, looking at boats, and buildings, and flowers, and people.

She had some ice cream from the Lemon Truck when we got to the center, and then we walked up to the Fairmont Hotel. Tried to check out Afternoon Tea, but it was $60 for adults, and $30 for a child if they wanted their own serving (rather than eating off the adult’s plate). Never mind.

Walked around the Fairmont. In the atrium leading to the Convention Center, there was a piano, and Sofia played a bit. Not bad, for someone who does not play piano.

 We walked up a few blocks and then started looking for lunch. I tried to get us an outdoor seating place, but the one I wanted, with the best food choices, was actually bar and was strictly no children anywhere. So we went for sushi.

Yummy Sushi Pizza - seaweed base, rice “cake” tempura, topped with spicy tuna and roe. MMMM. Sofia had a salmon & avocado roll, and had fun playing drums with her chopsticks. We started off sitting by the window, but they moved us to a booth when the sun got too hot.

We were nearly finished when David and the boys found us! Just in time, since the kitchen was about to close. They ordered, and Sofia and I left to go pick up the car (they were exhausted from biking). Then we drove back to pick them up.

Drove up, found a small market to get food for dinner, and then off to Butchart Gardens. Gorgeous! Way bigger than I had imagined. Really stunning gardens, and so many people, but it did not feel as crowded as in Victoria.

David and the boys were a little ... intense... David thought he was perfectly calm, but he was having a hard time with Sofia, who was not listening well. So we split up again. I can calm her down, but not if she is distracted by them. She had a great time bonding with a bronze pony - it was quite the love affair.

We meandered over to the Sunken Garden, and Sofia started taking photos... of people! She would go up to someone and say “Excuse Me. I take picture?” So adorable. Everyone was very happy to pose for her.

David and the boys came back to us so they could give me the wheelchair (which they had take), because I knew I’d need it soon. Sofia was busy taking lots and lots of close up photos of flowers, and photos of people. Eventually she got tired and sat.

David and the boys went off again so that we could go at Sofia’s pace (which is slow). But when the boys started fighting with each other, he called and we hooked back up. Found a place on the fireworks lawn and had a picnic.

I left them all there, and went to see the rest of the gardens by myself. Lovely. Then I went back to join them. There was a band playing at the concert shell, so we could hear the music (and while walking, Sofia and I had done some dancing). We had a few hours to wait for the fireworks.

I took Micah and Sofia to the Carousel. She loves Carousels, but absolutely refuses to ride ON the horses (or whatever animals are represented). She sits on a bench, and gets a little scared about the movement, but loves to ride. She and I went twice, Micah only once (his choice).

The fireworks were spectacular. Really unusual, with a lot of close-to-the-ground stuff. Totally worth the wait.

Poor Sofia of course had not needed the potty until about 2 minutes before the fireworks began, and I was not about to miss it. So all during the show she complained that her tushy hurt. But she made it. The moment the show was over, I raced her off, leaving David and the boys to clean up and bring everything.

It took forever to get several thousand people from the fireworks field to the parking lot. Longer if you were walking with a small girl who was really excited about all the Yellow and Green and Red she could see (the fireworks made an impression!). The guys were at the car for a long time before we got there.

Sam’s in a horrible mood, very angry at Micah and very moody in general. Ah, teenagers. UGH.

They are all fast asleep now (well, it’s 12:30 am). Tomorrow we have the 10:30 ferry back to Washington, and off to Great Wolf Lodge.

Funny story from yesterday: after dinner, we were walking back to the car. It was about 10pm. A car drove by, and one of the guys in it let out a really loud scream as they passed us. Just big kids being obnoxious. So I said a gentle “Thank You”. And the guys in the car sheepishly said “Sorry.” Only in Canada.

 Why do tourist stores leave toys at the door? Oh, yeah...
 Whew! Lunch.
 Look who found us. Zombies.

 Love that shadow!

 She was soooo happy.

 Waiting for fireworks

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friday, off to Victoria

Up and dressed early, in fact Micah woke me up about 45 minutes before my alarm went off. I was moving faster than David, so we did not get out until 8:15, but that got us to the ferry just before 9, which was perfect for our 10:00 reservation. Walked around the ferry marketplace, bought some cool candle-holders, and Sofia had some playground time. Then we got on the ferry for our ride to Victoria.

I did a little work on the laptop for the early part of the ride. I have to finish the curriculum for the course I will be teaching at Hebrew College, Jewish Views on Disability, this semester. Should be fun. I have co-taught it before, but this is my first solo.

Anyway, we had a good spot on the sun deck, inside the front window covering, so it wasn’t too cold or windy but we had a nice view. Which didn’t matter much, since Sofia watched a movie on Sam’s iPad, the boys played a game on the iPod, and I was buried in my laptop.

At the half-way mark, I actually thought we were coming into the terminal, so I shut down, and took Sofia for a walk. There was a park ranger telling interesting facts about the flora and fauna of Vancouver Island. Sofia had a BLAST helping her out. Sofia has a natural affinity for The Person In Charge, especially if that person is speaking to a group. She just wanted to stand next to the lady (whose name was Hannah). Hannah was great about it. She had Sofia hold things for her during her demo, and after the presentation, she sat and showed Sofia pictures in the wildlife photo journal. Sofia was so over-stimulated, she couldn’t even speak. She would sign the names of animals or plants, but could not form the words. It was really interesting to see how the noise and wind and excitement had such an effect on her.

We got into port, and started driving south. But David was hungry, and getting kind of fussy. We finally found a decent Greek restaurant about half-way to our hotel. Not to bad, but not great.

Anyway, then we went to check in at the hotel. Definitely the lowest-rent building of our whole trip. A Red Lion Inn (and Suites), although we don’t have a suite, just 2 double-beds in a very small room. The three kids are squished in together, but I’m sure Sofia will come find me at some point.

This is the only hotel on our stay that does not include breakfast. At least I have Sofia’s instant Grits with us! But David just noted, “Why would you ever leave this place? It’s got a hotel, a pool, a Chinese Restaurant, a Liquor Store, and a Strip Club!” (Yes, that’s all in the same building. Oh joy.)

Anyway, we got in, and I made David take a nap while I took the kids to the outdoor pool. This was the first pool with a decent deep-end, so the boys could jump in more. Sofia and Micah had a blast jumping in. She was actually in the “deep” side, although she mostly stayed by the ladder after she jumped in over and over.

Around 4:00, we came back, got dressed, got David up and went off to town. First stop was Craigdarroch Castle, this really cool old mansion. I had to hold onto Sofia, because all the rooms had alarms and you weren’t supposed to touch the walls, so I did not really get to read much of the info sheets, but I did take a lot of photos. David enjoyed reading everything. Micah was not impressed.

Had a little time with Sof in the gift shop, and bought her a little tea set. She was so happy! It’s still in the box, but she clutched it the whole way home tonight.

After the castle, we parked in downtown Victoria near the waterfront and just meandered around. There was some sort of military parade and memorial going on, so that was cool to see, and there were lots of vendors along the boardwalk. The boys and I got henna tattoos. I’m not so sure how they will look tomorrow. Right now the “goop” is coming off mine and the tattoo does not look that dark.

We were getting hungry, and that’s a big problem with this family. Unfortunately, Sofia and I would be happy with just about any kind of food, David has a slightly less tolerant tummy, and the boys (especially Micah) are incredibly picky! Add to that the food allergies and the need to be vegetarian or fish or dairy... it’s limiting.

And when we are in a place we don’t know, it’s tough to pick something. So eventually we ended up at The Old Spaghetti Factory again, the same chain we ate at two nights ago in Vancouver. In fact, we mostly had the same meals (although this time Micah got the kid’s cheese pizza, which was really just a half order of the flat bread appetizer). But it was good, and the drink of the day was a frozen Bellini, so I felt better.

We didn’t leave the restaurant until after 10, so we got back to the hotel late. Sofia was just about asleep in the car, but revived enough to be annoying until she passed out. Now the kids are all asleep and I’m just gonna finish this, sort the photos, and post.

Tomorrow we are going to Shabbat services at the Conservative shul (we already scoped out the location, and I was emailing with the office this week). Then we might hit a museum or activity in the afternoon, and then Butchart Gardens. We will bring a picnic dinner, and stay for the evening concert and then the fireworks. (At least that’s the plan!)

Today's Photos:
On the ferry

 Craigdarroch Castle

 Practicing her ballet: Tondu, Coupe, Pah-de-Bourre

 In the Gift Shop: