Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Rest of Our Trip

Our trip to Vancouver totaled four days and, unlike when Davan and I went up in November for the preselection tour, we had a whole pack along.  Anthony, Lena and Ranger came along this time.  We had a great time!  Lena was a delightful addition to our group.  She and Davan had a blast together all weekend and Lena fit right in even when Davan was off auditioning.  We're really glad she was able to go with us.

Lena, Davan and I were all sugar free for the month of January and, thus, were ready for a treat.  We picked up a dozen Voodoo donuts on the way out of town.

We were all very excited.

We had an uneventful drive up, although we were a little nervous at the border crossing between having a dog with us and an exchange student who wasn't even our exchange student.  Lena, though, had all of her necessary paper work and most of it, she didn't even need.  We just handed over all the passports and Ranger's rabies paper and let them decide if they wanted to ask for anything else.  They didn't.  While we didn't come right out and say it, we did let the border crossing guy assume that Lena was our exchange student.  We figured that would be easier.  He was very friendly and it was actually a much easier crossing than when Davan and I were on our own in November.

We checked into our hotel around 2pm and, after lugging our stuff to our room, set out on a walk, as the weather was lovely.

The hotel was a little drab, but fine for our purposes.

And, the best part, was that it was one block from this:

Davan and Lena enjoyed pointing out how the different architectural structures of the various buildings would lend themselves to aerial apparatus.

If these two girls had their way, you would see a lot of silks hanging both inside and out of many a Vancouver building.

We had a nice walk up the waterfront path.

There were plenty of stops for looking around.

And for playing.

In fact, we left the girls to their own devises for a while at this playground while Anthony, Ranger and I walked on a bit.

After returning and gathering up the girls, we headed back to our hotel to regroup for dinner.  The sun was setting on the way and it was really lovely.

We wanted to give Davan some good fuel to offset the donuts of the morning, considering her audition the next day, so we went to a restaurant I'd scooped out before going up called the Dharma Kitchen.  It's an all vegan place focusing on nourishing foods.  We were all pretty hungry while waiting for the food to come.

Davan and Lena shared a couple of meals.  It was...well, some things were really good, some things were fine and one thing - the tofu on Anthony's dish - was not good at all.  Still, most everyone was full enough by the end of the meal.  Davan, though, was giving me her, "I'm still hungry.  What are you going to do about it?" look so I offered to take everyone for smoothies.  That idea was a hit.  We didn't even get towed.

We went back to the room and I announced lights out no later than 10:00, as everyone was tired.  Davan and I had both slept poorly the night before, but we weren't the only ones drooping a bit.

Sadly, no one slept well that night.  It was way too warm in our room and the beds weren't the most comfortable ever.  Still, Davan and Lena managed to sleep in a bit while Anthony and I took Ranger out for a morning walk.

We had breakfast in our room, which had been the plan.  We knew we had a kitchen to work with.  

Sadly, though, there were only 3 bowls.  I ended up eating my cereal out of a tea cup.

The morning was given over to getting ready in a fairly leisurely manner.  We all showered.  We packed some lunch for everyone, but Davan's separately in case we weren't allowed to watch the audition (which we weren't).  Then, there was the audition.

After the audition, we gave some options for dinner and Davan chose pizza, so we went back to the hotel and the girls and I went to pick up some pizza (veggie no cheese for Davan and I, half and half for Lena - cheese only - and Anthony - ham and black olive).  While the pizza was being prepared, we went and got dessert for after - Rice Dream and some cookies.  Sadly, the pizza was not very good.  Mine and Davan's was burnt.  Sigh.

We had a fun evening hearing about the audition, eating our food, playing black jack for cookies and laughing a lot.  We had another not very late night.

Saturday was our day of fun.  We went up to the snow.  First we went to Grouse Mountain, where we rode the gondola

Took a sleigh ride (sadly pulled by a snowcat sort of thing rather than an animal as we'd been lead to believe by the website)

went zip lining (this was fun, but not great and we really felt it was overpriced for what you got - apparently it's much better in the summer when two of their longer lines are open)

and went ice skating.

Davan and Lena both started out using these frame things for little kids:

But they graduated to holding on to each other after a while.

Then we went back down to the car, gave Ranger a bit of a break and then made our way to Cypress Mountain.  Both of these places are very close to Vancouver, so there wasn't a lot of driving.

On Cypress Mountain, we went tubing.  This was lots and lots of fun!  It was much cheaper than what we'd done at Grouse Mountain and a lot more fun.  Well, I did like what we did on Grouse Mountain, too, but if I had to do just one activity again, it would be the tubing hands down, even if it weren't a lot cheaper.  

There were attendants at the top of the runs both regulating people and pushing them off.  They would give you a spin if you liked.  Davan and Lena spun every time and figured out who did the best spins and would go back to that person.  I'm not a spinner, myself.  I had no desire to spend the rest of the day feeling poorly, so I stuck to straight down. 

They had a lift you could use, riding up on your tube.  We each did that a couple times, but the line was usually pretty long, so it was faster to walk up.  We all got our workouts in, slogging up the hill for two hours.

As you can see, it was another great weather day.  The views were spectacular up on the mountains.  We could see fog all out in the straight and over part of the city, but it was sunny where we were.  The top was the view from the tubing hill and the bottom is the view (and charming girls) from Grouse Mountain.

We headed back to the city in the midafternoon, feeling like we'd gotten in plenty of sun, exercise and fun.  However, the dog hadn't gotten much of any of that, so we headed out for another walk when we got back. We did a repeat of our first night's walk, complete with leaving the girls at the playground for a while.  It was much busier being a Saturday, than it had been on Thursday, even though it felt colder and there were patches of fog.

We ended up getting dinner fixings from Whole Foods that night and eating at "home."  We even did a real vacation thing and had dessert again.  This time it was vegan chocolate cupcakes from Whole Foods.  They were good, too, which is not a given when one is speaking of vegan baked goods!

For our last morning, we walked again, but this time in the direction of downtown, rather than up into Stanley Park.  Still, there were plenty of climbing about opportunities for the girls.

After walking and playgrounding, we caught a ferry back part of the way.

It was awesome that they didn't bat an eye about Ranger coming along.

We got back to the van, stopped to fortify ourselves for the trip with bagels and a few vegan cookies (sadly, not so great a vegan baked good) and headed for the border.  At this point, I came to the realization that somewhere between crossing the border into Canada and leaving the hotel room that morning, I'd lost Ranger's rabies certification.  I'm pretty sure I threw it out that morning along with some hotel paperwork that we didn't need anymore.  Anthony was not pleased with me.  

When I'd looked up the requirements for taking a dog across the border, it looked like we actually didn't even need that much for just between the USA and Canada, but it was the safe thing to do to take it.  I said, "Let's just go for it."  So we did.

And it wasn't an issue.  There was a lot of talk while we waited our turn about what would happen if and the final conclusion was that the worse case scenario we'd have to leave Ranger kenneled at the boarder and I'd have to drive back up on Monday with paperwork and get her.  Of course, there was also talk of her and I having to swim for it, but that was mostly Anthony being upset about my lose of the paper work.  I told Anthony just not to say anything about Ranger's papers unless asked.  "Oh, great.  Then it looks like we're hiding something," he replied.

When it was our turn, we handed over our four passports and hoped for the best.  It did, actually, go well, but the touch and go moments were many.  The crossing guard asked the dog's name, which led us all to believe he'd want more info on her, but no, he just asked her name.  Anthony panicked and when he asked us where home was, after I said that it was Portland for the three of us and Portland temporarily for Lena, he added that she was our exchange student, which would have been bad for us if he'd asked for some sort of proof of that, but he didn't.  His wife had been an exchange student in Switzerland when she was in high school, so he felt some kinship there.

We did end up getting flagged for a routine random agricultural inspection, which was a little nerve wracking, considering all the complications we had, but that went fine, too.  We did have to put Ranger in a kennel for the duration of the inspection, which took about 10 minutes total.  And our cuties that had traveled with us to Vancouver and back (three were left) were confiscated.  Apparently, citrus can't cross the border from Canada back to the states.  I was previously unaware of that.  We'd declared them, though, so we weren't in trouble or anything.

Then we were on our way with glad hearts.  The rest of the drive was, again, uneventful.  We split our drive time both ways between a little bit of just talking, some driving games (we like 20 Questions, the Alphabet Game, Who Am I? and the prediction game - where someone comes up with a question such as how many signs will we pass in a mile, although it can be anything, and everyone takes a guess) and listening to Beastly, which we all enjoyed pretty well, but wasn't anyone's favorite book.

It was a fun mini-vacation, complete with spending too much money and overeating.  I ended up using Lena's camera a lot this weekend.  Hers is much nicer than ours and I now have camera envy.  I haven't gotten pictures from her yet, but expect to by tomorrow.  I'm thinking of making a video of the weekend and will share here if I do!


  1. What an amazing weekend. The tubing looks really, really fun. We would love that. I love how the girls find climbing places everywhere. :) Glad you got back across the border and didn't have to 'swim' for it. :) Great pictures and great recap.

    Thanks for the link for "Lego Man in Space" We both loved it!

  2. Like getting to read the report. Finally had a little time this AM and the internet was not too slow.