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.