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Archive for the ‘Easter Road Trip’ Category

After waking at dawn and packing the car.

After eating breakfast in the ferry line-up and driving onto the nine.

After an hour-and-a-half crossing and a two-hour drive.

After eating lunch in Chilliwack, and filling up with gas, my husband asked a question no parent on an Easter road trip wants to hear: Did that black bag get packed?

Did that black bag get packed…

Did he mean the black bag that contained all our clothes? Or the black bag that held all the Easter Bunny treats?

You guessed it: he was asking about the latter.  The black bag that I had pointed to and whispered, “This bag has to go too.” The black bag that I had hidden so well, he’d completely forgot about it while packing the car.  The black bag that was now 190.7 km away from where it should be.

“What’s so funny?” the eagle-eared girls in the backseat asked.

“Just a little adult joke,” I replied, shaking my head.  The speedometer climbed to 100kmh as we merged east towards the coastal mountains.

Of course, one can get chocolate anywhere. It wasn’t like Osoyoos, home of my husband’s childhood was void of this product.  During Easter the town is flush with festivities that include two egg hunts hours apart: one at the school field, the other in the Home Hardware.  We could live without the bag, if it weren’t for the two, maybe three, believers in the back seat.

In order to keep the magic alive, I ended up buying replacement chocolate during a side-trip to Penticton. Not going to lie, it broke my heart a little, thinking of the carefully chosen chocolate bunnies sitting in a dark bag in a corner of our computer room back home.

Perhaps the sting was greater because this was the year I’d branched out. In a surprise twist, even to me, I’d turned to toys as the piece d’ resistance, the plastic grand finale. There were three Littlest Pet Shop animals and three Troll Doll eggs amongst the delectable edibles.

Guess now they’ll make great stocking stuffers.

But the missing bag and subsequent $80 spent on two rounds of chocolate ended up being a humorous footnote on what was a glorious long weekend.

The girls savoured every moment with their grandparents.  They baked, sewed and waded up to their shoulders in icy Lake Osoyoos.  They made plans, surely not encouraged by said grandparents, to come back in the summer.

At least we’ll have chocolate driving snacks for our next road trip.

Otown

View of Osoyoos from Anarchist Mountain (looking west).

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Our Easter road trip took us from sea to desert in ten hours: a record for us, since having children.

The reward for waking at 5 a.m. was the sight of an orca swimming in the Strait of Georgia twenty minutes before the ferry docked. So, I suppose we got our money’s worth: whale watching vessels charge $110 per person, round-trip; BC ferries charge $105 for three kids, two adults, and a car one-way.

Leaving the ferry, we drove across the developed delta, counted train cars and marvelled at the giant eagles perched in farmer’s fields.

Our route took us up the Coastal Mountain Range to the Hope Slide where my husband threatened to leave me in the swirling snow as I recited the story of the two earthquakes that triggered the slide that killed four people on that fateful day in January 1965.

Up on Allison Pass, at the Manning Park Resort, like snow deprived misfits, we hucked icy snowballs at each other, and sunk up to our knees in snow drifts.

Down the mine hill into Princeton we stopped for snacks at the Chevron and decided to push it for the next ninety minutes – no stops- till we got to Osoyoos.

As we passed Hedley I may have told my children to stop whistling because they’d summon the ghosts of the abandoned gold mine. A fact my four-year-old questioned at great length both times we passed through the town.

At night, on the Hope-Princeton, the sky is blacker than ink and full of stars – if you had a ladle, you could scoop them out of the Milky Way.

In the daylight, the trees grow every-which-way: up to the atmosphere, out to the horizon and down to the bottom of the valley in a carpet of, well, forest green. It is here, away from the constant barrage of movement in the city, that you really appreciate how peaceful nature is and how much space we have in this province.

True to every single one of our family road trips, we drive without electronics. No cd’s playing, no radio, no dvd’s – nothing. I’m not sure how much longer these device free trips will continue, but since the girls don’t expect, they don’t ask.

What they do ask is the stereotypical Are we there yet?

This trip, Miss C asked it so often, every minute at one point, that I pointed to the green clock on the dashboard and told her when it got to five-zero-zero, we would be there. It was ten-three-zero at the time.  It sort of worked.

Two of the secrets to our harmonious car trips are small bladder honouring, and snack planning. We make frequent stops to unload and refuel.

Perhaps the worst/best decision was on the way home when we gave into a request at the Princeton’s Chevron and allowed our 4, 6 and 9 year-old to have their own bags of Cheetos, Doritos and Doritos at 10:00 in the morning.

“Are we going to let them eat their entire bags?” I asked my husband.

He shrugged, popped a beef jerky in his mouth and said, “Why not?”

Thankfully, we made it without incident, down steep grades, past slow moving flashing freight trucks, and around ‘s’ curves that went this way, then that.

St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.”  Even though my husband can make this trip with his eyes closed – the reason I let him drive – it is important for our girls to learn about their corner of the world.  And though I know at 9, 6 and 4, their time spent looking out the window is not spent dreaming of ways they can preserve this planet, I’d like to think that one day they’ll reflect upon our time together in the cone of electrical silence and be motivated to explore new corners of our earth.

This is why we go, my friends, This is why we go.

 

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We went to Osoyoos for Easter this year.  Our first road-trip in our new (to us) minivan.

Our old one died last September with a ceremonial thud at the end of our driveway. Cost us a pretty penny to have her towed back onto it too.  Yes, that’s right: towed back onto our driveway, but that’s what happens when the trans-axel breaks, she won’t budge, and the municipality doesn’t want a fancy traffic cone in the middle of the street.

There is never a good time to buy a car.  Especially when you have three kids, a dog and a mortgage.  But, the thought of not having a car to drive into the wild green yonder was  worse, so off my husband went to forage for a vehicle.

He rustled up a nifty one too, as soccer mum vans go.  A 2004 Toyota Sienna, steel blue: double sliding doors, lots of trunk space, tinted windows… We’d moved on up from the 1996 Dodge Caravan, and, more importantly, put distance between us and its crappy transmission.

The only thing this new (to us) van didn’t come with was the almighty DVD player.  That, I’ve heard, is essential to roadtripping with children.  Most families might miss it.  Most families might not leave the lot until one was installed.  Most families would flick it on with the engine.  We aren’t most families.

Proudly, at least for the moment, we travel sans DVD players, iPods, and radios.  Yes, aside from the spaceship-esq interior of our Sienna, our family vacations like we’re in the Dark Ages.

One day we might be singing a different tune; wire the van with a disco ball, Karaoke machine and sound blocking headphones; but until then, our kids are content, truly they are, to sit and watch the scenery.

Part of their contentment lies in the fact they don’t know any better.  Another part is they are really excited to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  A third part lies with the fact they are really, really good travellers – something I hope to capitalize on once Miss C gets a little older.

The road to Osoyoos is windy.  Fraught with switchbacks, steep ups and steeper downs, it’s a four-hour drive.  Add a 1.5 hour ferry ride, three kids, and a dog, and that four-hour drive turns into 8 plus.  (Roadtrip secret: take lots of breaks.  Candy in Princeton doesn’t hurt either.)

Our car handled the twists and turns beautifully – one of the nicer aspects of this minivan vs the now defunct old blue.

On the way out it was sunny, blue sky, open highway, Miss S belted out her version of Baby Beluga, over and over and over again, much to Miss C’s delight… life was good.  On the way back, Miss S and Miss C dosed but Miss Q was quiet, unsettled.

We thought it was due to her leaving her grandparents, the earliness of the hour, hunger.  But just past Princeton, before the gates of Manning Park, we heard the famous words, “You need to stop.”

As I turned to see what the problem was, I was hit in the face by her vomit.  A glancing blow: a mix of orange peels, egg and water.  Thank you Grandma for the yummy breakfast.

Have I mentioned how much room we have in our new (to us) van?  Miss Q was sitting in the way-back, over the driver’s side back wheel, I was the co-pilot.  Sign her up for a watermellon seed spitting contest this summer.  Thankfully (?) the rest of her stomach emptied on her lap, missing the four large stuffed Easter bunnies buckled in a pile between her and Miss S.

Safely parked on the shoulder of the Crow’s Nest highway, my husband and I sprung into action.  He took the car; I took Miss Q.

All thoughts of sympathy puking vanished as I helped a shivering Miss Q out of her clothes and bathed her in Neutrogena facewash and water from our waterbottles.

“Your daddy and I used to do this to our parents,” I told her.

“You did?”

Well, I never warranted a wilderness bath, I thought.  But I did remember being green around the gills thanks to the sway of my dad’s driving maroon and silver van.  Yes, I feel colour had something to do with my sickness.

The thought of being the same as her parents made Miss Q feel better, though she wasn’t happy with the pictures I snapped of our predicament.  Nor did she find joy in the news she’d made a memory we’d re-live at her wedding.

Once she was clean and warm (there was still snow in the mountains) the next six hours of travel passed uneventfully: we by-passed Chuck-E-Cheese much to my dismay, were the second to last car on the 5:00 ferry, and made it home with enough daylight left for my husband to finish cleaning our now christened car.

Even with a cloud of motion sickness tailing us, I look forward to future trips with our girls.  There’s nothing like cruising through the wild, searching for bears (them), searching for Big Foot (me), and being together, undistracted, as a family.

Somewhere on the Crow's Nest.

Somewhere on the Crow’s Nest, now known forever more as ‘That place we bathed Miss Q.’                                           (Looking east, we were travelling west.)

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The Canucks.  My husband grows play-off beards for them; drinks Guinness with them; holds his breath during shoot-outs for them.  He is a life-long fan and these days, bath and bedtime stand in his way when the game is on.

In my husband’s 37 years he has never been to a game – not at Pacific Coliseum or GM Place.  This is why, last October, I was elated to find tickets for last Tuesday’s game (yes, the same Tuesday the brakes failed); Colorado vs Vancouver.

After some debate, I scooped three tickets in the nosebleed section – $55.00 apiece; and felt like a cat who’d swallowed a canary until Christmas when I gleefully presented the tickets to him.  Sure, we had to pay for our three-year-old, Miss Q,  but Miss S was free… and now I know why.

First off, let me tell you: there are no bad seats at GM Place.  From our vantage point in the corner: section 329, row 13, seats 11, 12 and 13, the players were alive, the puck visible and whistles inaudible.

We were about 3- 4 rows from the wall, and the energy was electric.  If it were just me and my husband, we would have been giving high-fives to everyone around us and swilling $7.00 beer with the best of them.  Going to a game with children?  Slightly different story.

The usher gave me foam ear plugs.  Of course a hockey game was going to be loud.  Why hadn’t I thought of that?  After all, when I was pregnant with Miss Q at Mama Mia, I was the one covering my belly, trying to figure out where her in-utero ears were.  Another mum diagonally from us had hot pink Peltor Kid Ear Muffs on her six-month-old daughter.  Now that was smart.

Miss S sat contently on my lap for all of five minutes.  Then the national anthems were sung.  (And not by the guy who always does it on TV- boo.)  At the end of O’Canada Miss S began to cry.  People craned their necks to see where the wails were coming from.  Just us, ruining your game. Thankfully Luongo kept his head down.

By the middle of the first period, Miss Q, had devoured her $4.00 hot dog and was paying more attention to where Finn was (the Canucks’ whale mascot) than the game.   My husband was trying to concentrate, but just like home, he was constantly being interrupted.

By the end of the first period, it was apparent: Miss S and I were destined for the lobby.  My plan: to get her to sleep, then creep back to our seats and enjoy the rest of the game.  Ha.

As the second period started, I was feeling rather left out from the whole experience.  I shared the oval hallway with service workers, security guards and the woman with the baby wearing ear muffs – apparently her daughter’s cries disturbed fellow fans too.

The object of Miss Q’s hockey obsession, Finn, appeared.  Miss S posed for a picture.  I hoped this wasn’t the beginning of sibling rivalry.  A Harlem Globetrotter joined us.  Suddenly there was life, where I thought there was none.  Miss S and I looked on as the Globetrotter and Finn snuck up an aisle and spun backpacks and threw out wrist bands.

Period three found Miss S (still awake), Miss Q and I wandering behind the scenes, on a Finn hunt. Miss Q received blue beads for her and her stuffed Finn to wear from a man at the information booth.  She smiled the biggest smile I’d ever seen when Finn stopped for a picture; surprising as he has big orca teeth, and looks rather intimidating.

I didn’t completely miss the game.  During both periods I was able to sneak up the closer, more expensive aisles.  Even when nursing Miss S on the white leather loveseat in the washroom, I was able to watch it on  TV, just like at home.  (Not.)

Next time, I told my husband he’s on his own.  No, boo-hoo I had to look after the kids while you watched the game, here.  It was fun to be there as a family, but I would rather buy him one $165.00 seat in a fantastic spot, and let him sink into the game.  After all, he’s the one not shaving; I’m the one waiting for a team (hopefully the Canucks) to hoist the Stanley Cup.

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The brakes failed on the minivan as the girls and I drove to Ikea.

There I was, calmly fighting the brake pedal, in Kingsway traffic.  It: wanted to buck my foot off (something it succeeded on doing twice) with grinding pops.  I: wanted the minivan and the shrieking metal on metal sound to stop.

We are fine.  My nerves have settled.  The car is fine – more so now that over $1000.00 has been sunk into it.  But what else were we going to spend our money on?  Fifty-cent hot dogs?  Area rugs?  A tent?  Sadly, we’ll never know what treasures we were to buy on Tuesday, as from 11 – 4:30 p.m. I was stranded in Burnaby with two children and a diaper bag.

Seconds after limping into the Byrne Creek School parking lot, I realized how incredibly lost and unprepared I was.  Kids throwing up in car seats?  A cinch.  Kids peeing in ice cream buckets?  No problem.  A breakdown in a strange city?  Shit.

Naturally, all swears were swallowed as the ever so inquisitive Miss Q began chirping from the back seat: Why are we here, Mama?  This doesn’t look like Ikea.  Is the car broken, Mama?

A quick call to my mum was all I needed to reset my brain.  No, she didn’t need to Google Map where I was in relation to mechanics; the office staff could help me out.  Had I really forgotten in this high-tech world a simple low-tech solution such as asking people for help?  That felt too vulnerable.

The office staff more than proved my mother right.  Though I just asked them for a phone book; they offered the phone and refuge from the rain.

With no idea who to phone in the vast Vancouver directory, I went with Budget Brake and Muffler because their commercial was the catchiest, and I hoped they would guarantee their work.  They were also able to take our car in a.s.a.p; and the man whom I spoke with on the phone sounded genuine  – a perk when dealing with mechanics.

The tow truck company promised a speedy arrival: 30 minutes, so we walked back to the car to prepare for our nomad existence.

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Tow Mater

It can’t be legal to sit in the minivan while it’s hoisted into the air and driven through the parking lot, but it was fun.

The driver offered to drive us to the entranceway of the school so we could wait there for our taxi.  I declined as Miss Q’s fingers were digging into my jugular.  Apparently my comparisons of the real tow truck to Mater from Cars had fizzled once he started to move.

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Taxies.  It seems wrong that (a) your children don’t have to be in car seats while in them (b) you don’t have to be buckled and (c) babies can sit on your lap.  Just because they’re “professional drivers” doesn’t mean that other drivers won’t plow into them.  And have you seen how some taxi’s drive?  Thankfully we had a tame ride for the $10.00 I gave our driver, but the last turn he made (illegally) got me thinking about how safe we really were.

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