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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,495

    Default Mystery Trip II: Vancouver Island 2012

    Getting There and Vancouver

    This RoadTrip Report is being written up many years after the event. That is unfortunate since it means I am writing from memory, itineraries, and images rather than from contemporary notes (apparently lost). But I wanted to complete the tetralogy of Mystery Trip reports. You can find the other three reports here:

    Mystery Trip I: Four Corners
    Mystery Trip III: Québec
    Mystery Trip IV: Colorado

    It is also unfortunately true that my grandsons, for whom these trips were invented, are now getting ready for college and high school respectively and so these trips have come to an end. But in any event.....

    This is the second such RoadTrip we have taken with our daughter and grandsons. As noted elsewhere this tradition started out of necessity but was such a hit that we decided to continue it. The basic idea is that my wife and I do all the planning and tell the next generations nothing but what they need to bring along. E.G., in this case we told them only that they had to pack to fly and would need their passports. This would also be one of our shorter family vacations at only nine days, plus two travel days, leaving on a Thursday and returning on a Sunday.

    When we picked up the kids we started driving up I-10 towards Phoenix. Since they had been told to pack to fly, the just assumed we were headed for Sky Harbor Airport until we turned off towards Mesa instead. Rather than fly Phoenix to Seattle or Vancouver, we had booked flights on Allegiant Airlines, a low-cost airline that saves money partly by not using major airports. In this case it meant flying from Mesa AZ to Bellingham WA which was closer to our destination in any event. The other advantage to flying into Bellingham was that we got to use one of the smaller border crossing points and saved a bit more time that way. In any event, our destination for the first couple of days was Abbotsford BC from which we would explore the city of Vancouver.

    Our first full day in Canada, then, was spent driving into Vancouver (more traffic than we expected to be sure) and just exploring the city a bit on foot including quite a bit of time in the well-utilized Stanley Park on the waterfront. Highlights included a number of totem poles, as well as an entertaining small train through the woods past a First Nation's maiden, a frog, an eagle and Sasquatch himself. The next day we toured Fort Langley National Historic Site

    which was great for the grandchildren who got to do a little period cosplay and also watched a working blacksmith explain his craft. Then in the late afternoon we caught a ferry over to Vancouver Island. There was a guest speaker who talked about the marine life of Puget Sound and answered questions, all of which helped the time pass quickly and beautifully.

    AZBuck

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,495

    Default Mystery Trip II:

    Victoria and Vancouver Island

    For the next week or so we took up residence at a home on a horse farm in Sooke which was close enough to the provincial capital of Victoria for visits there as well as far enough up the west coast of the island to give us access to some wonderful seaside provincial parks. Indeed on the first day we headed into Victoria to take a guided tour of its parliament buildings

    and to take a walking tour of the harbor and the local Chinatown. One highlight was Fan Tan Alley which, though only five feet wide, has three story buildings on both sides, making it more of a canyon than an alley. But while we were strolling through a choir was coming the other way and using the acoustics of the alley to give an impromptu concert. I also got the chance to meet up with an old classmate of mine who had moved to Canada back in the early '70s, become a lawyer, and had recently 'taken the silks' to become a Queen's Counsel in British Columbia. He tried to teach my grandsons a bit of Canadian history over lunch, concentrating on the contributions of Wilfrid Laurier, their first Francophone Prime Minister. As a reminder, he gave each of them a $5 bill with Laurier's image.

    Then for the next couple of days we'd head up the western coast of Vancouver Island taking in a couple of provincial parks along the coast. One, Botanical Beach Provincial Park, would provide some great beach walks as well as views across the Straight of Juan de Fuca,

    while the other, the Juan de Fuca Trail, would provide great hikes through the woods as well as suspension foot bridges. As my daughter and grandsons love the outdoors, these were a few of their favorite days.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,495

    Default Mystery Trip II (Continued)

    More Vancouver Island and Home

    Since the Boys had now had some adventures in nature in Canada, the next couple of days would be devoted to taking in some of the sites that appealed more to the older generations. First stop would, of course, be one of my wife's favorite locations in Canada, Butchart Gardens.

    My wife and I had been through the Gardens on an earlier trip, so I knew she (and probably our daughter) would love it, but what surprised me was that the two young boys also had a great time. The older one is a bit of a budding photographer and of course there are beautiful photos everywhere in a sculpted garden. Even the younger bow had a great time still being out in nature, albeit a bit more controlled than aspect of nature than the last couple of days.

    The next day we got a bit of First Nation culture by visiting the Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre in Duncan on the southeastern side of the island, then made a quick visit to the obligatory "world's biggest" RoadTrip site by taking in the world's biggest hockey stick.

    This was followed by another day for the 'adults', a visit to Craigdarroch Castle, a Victorian era home now open for tours, but perhaps its greatest selling point is just its great views of the city and Salish Sea.

    All that was left now was to take the ferry back to the mainland (no lecturer this time) and to get back across the border (a fairly long delay on this crossing which we made at the main I-5 customs station in Blaine) to Bellingham for the flight home the next day. And even with all that we had barely scratched the surface of what's available in this wonderful area. Often when I have finished a RoadTrip I'll think "Well, I can scratch that off my Bucket List." Not with this trip. In looking back over my preparation notes for this trip I realize how much I missed that I wanted to see and have re-affirmed my intention to get back to far southwestern Canada.


    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,986

    Default Cool idea.

    Nice report Buck. I like the concept of the mystery Roadtrip and it's one my wife and I (sort of) adopt. She is more than happy to stay clear of the planning and likes to be surprised each day, and I am only to happy to take on the research and planning. Win, win !

    Dave.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,043

    Default It's in the mystery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I like the concept of the mystery Roadtrip....
    Yeah great report - thanks!

    Dave I do too. My roadtrip is a mystery every single day. Means I chance upon the most wonderful sights and attractions. With a little help from my friend we sort of set up a route and destination. However, like yesterday, the route was stunning driving, but the destination was not reached. What was achieved was a great day roadtripping, seeing new sights and meeting some wonderful people. (No photo to show for it.)

    Lifey

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