Spring Break 2017: Oregon Coast

Over the past six and a half years of marriage, Peter and I have tried to take advantage of Spring Break as much as we can. In 2012, we were young and broke but wanted to get out of town so we spent a few days in Washington, as cheaply as possible and had a blast.

In 2013, we went to Whistler and in 2014 we visited friends in Victoria. In 2015, Pearl was about two weeks old so we stayed home and slept very little and felt very thankful.

Last year, we fit a few things into our Spring Break.  A trip back to Whistler (that was cut down to one night because Pearl slept so terribly), a visit to some good friends in Kimberley (and Pearl’s first plane trip), and some general fun around our own town.

This year we decided to be slightly more ambitious. The baby we lost in the Fall was due right before Spring Break and so very early on I told Peter I didn’t care what we did, I just wanted to get out of town for Spring Break. We decided to take a road trip down to the Oregon Coast, as well as a couple of days in Portland. It was perfect and so great to have something to plan and look forward to as we came closer to that due date.

After our experience driving to and staying in Whistler last year, we weren’t entirely sure how Pearl would do on the road. But, figuring you don’t know until you try, we went ahead and took the plunge. (Spoiler alert: she did great!)

We left early Monday morning (on the first ferry off the Coast) and drove to Olympia, Washington. We basically bundled Pearl out of bed and into the car, feeding her breakfast on the ferry. She got a thrill out of being allowed to stay in her pyjamas all day. She fell asleep again once we were back on the road and basically slept until we arrived in Olympia around noon.

Neither Peter nor I had ever been to Olympia before so we had fun poking around downtown, popping into a few shops. It was pouring rain but it was nice to stretch our legs and see a new place. We stayed that night just outside of the city at a place we found on AirBnB. Our hosts were friendly, the room was a great size and Pearl slept decently well. Before her bedtime, we took a stroll along the boardwalk at the waterfront.

We left after breakfast the next morning and took our time driving down the coast. We opted to avoid the I-5 as much as we could and instead took some back highways where there weren’t many cars but lots of trees and we caught glimpses of small towns along the way. It rained heavily, which also made avoiding heavy traffic nice.

We stopped in Long Beach and got out to run around. It was pouring rain (sensing a pattern?) and windy and poor Pearl got covered in sand.

It was pretty cool to have this huge beach all to ourselves for a little while. We poked around the town a little, buying saltwater taffy and posing with the largest frying pan in the world.

To be honest, I thought it would be bigger.

We drove onwards (in the rain, always in the rain), crossing the Columbia River and entering Astoria.

This is a very long bridge that takes you from Washington to Oregon.

We had lunch in Astoria and then, because the rain had let up, found a playground where Pearl could run around for a bit. She fell asleep in the car when we got back on the road and headed to our next destination: Manzanita.

When we first began planning our trip, we found a super deal for a hotel in the tiny coastal town of Manzanita and then planned the rest of our time around that. We stayed a total of four nights in Manzanita, renting a suite in a hotel across the road from the beach. There’s not a lot in Manzanita itself but we were able to do small trips each day to towns nearby like Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Tillamook. The suite was simple but perfect for our needs. Pearl had her own room (so we all slept very well), we had a small kitchen, a balcony, and a fireplace. It made for a great home base.

Our beach in Manzanita.

On the balcony.

We spent a day in Seaside and took Pearl to the Aquarium there. While not a huge space, Pearl seemed to enjoy looking at the fish and she loved the touch tank. She did touch a starfish but mostly she liked splashing.

We spent time on the beach in Cannon Beach, where Pearl loved digging in the sand with sticks. She got a lot of use out of her rain pants on this trip.

Various beach shots:

On Thursday, the sun came out and so we decided to hike a trail we’d heard about there. Oregon is full of state parks but, unfortunately, due to weather conditions, a lot of them seemed to be closed recently or have parts of their trails closed. We were able to see a little bit of Cape Meares Park that day, including a short walk to a lighthouse. Turns out, Pearl loves lighthouses and insisted that her stuffed cat, Gerald, is a lighthouse keeper. She also enjoyed this “funny tree”.

The Octopus Tree

We had planned to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and had really been hyping it to Pearl, telling her she could eat as much cheese as she wanted (which is a lot of cheese), and I was excited to try their macaroni and cheese (my favourite food). Well, it turned out to be a good thing that she had fallen asleep when we pulled up because they were closed! Probably the biggest disappointment of the trip! Hey, we’re a dairy-loving family!

The next day we headed to Ecola State Park where we planned to hike the Indian Beach Head Trail. Unfortunately, due to weather and erosion, part of the trail was closed. The park was beautiful though and had amazing views and we got to enjoy it all the same. (Again, in the rain.)

We ended our trip with two nights in Portland. Peter and I honeymooned there in 2010 but hadn’t been back since. While it was quite a different trip with a two-year-old in tow, we enjoyed seeing the city again.

We ate delicious food, taking full advantage of the food trucks, and I made two excellent visits to Powells Books.

We booked a private room in a hostel, something we’ve done a couple of times before. If you’re okay with sharing a bathroom, it’s a great way to get a cheaper place to stay. This hostel was a converted heritage house and our room ended up being quite large.

We knew from experience that downtown Portland was small enough to walk everywhere and it was nice to park the car for a couple of days and stroll through town (often at the pace of a two-year-old). We got lucky and didn’t have any rain while in Portland. And I finally got my mac and cheese, at Deschutes Brewery, and it was amazing.

All in all, probably our best Spring Break ever.

Spring Break 2016 – Sechelt

Things that happened without leaving home:

  • We did some local hikes and exploration.

IMG_3058

  • Which also included some time at the neighbourhood park.

IMG_3061_2

IMG_3119

(That swing is not really Pearl-sized.)

  • We hung out in our backyard for basically the first time this year.

IMG_6626

  • It was sunny enough to hang laundry to dry outside for the first time in 2016, something I’m weirdly excited about. (Being a grown-up is strange.)
  • We celebrated Easter for the second time as a family of 3. (Our Easter last year.)
  • Pearl had her first Easter Egg Hunt.
She rocked it and looked good doing it!

She rocked it and looked good doing it!

IMG_3106

  • Followed by Pearl’s first time eating chocolate. I think it’s safe to say she enjoyed it.
  • Not pictured: Pearl got a new tooth, I got insanely sick for one day (so thankful it happened while Peter was off work!), we did some good thrift store shopping, welcomed new babies of friends near and far, and Pearl wore gum boots for the first time. It’s been great.

Spring Break 2016 – Kimberley

At the end of 2015, some good friends of ours moved from the Coast to the Kootenays. Peter and I decided to take the opportunity of Spring Break to go and visit them. Their littlest girl is just a few weeks younger than Pearl and it so happened that we got to be there for her first birthday. I loved being pregnant at the same time and I’m sad that we won’t be raising our girls in the same area but we’re hopeful that we can make them pen pals one day. (Do kids still have pen pals these days?)

We left home on Thursday afternoon and flew that evening from Vancouver to Cranbrook. This was Pearl’s first time on an airplane. The flight is only about an hour and a half so we knew that even if it was a horrible experience, it wouldn’t last too long. Thankfully, it was not a horrible experience.

Waiting to board in Vancouver.

IMG_3036

The plane was small – seats for about 20 passengers – but we were able to pre-board and claim the very rear where there was a bench for three. Pearl loved looking out the window and waving the safety pamphlet around. I had packed a special bag of toys and distractions for her that was moderately successful. It held: snacks (baby biscuits and cheerios because she likes them both and they’re not too messy), ribbons of various lengths and colours, a photo book filled with pictures of her and Bella the dog (her favourite things to look at), her favourite book of farm animals, Stripes the Tiger (who I had hidden a couple weeks before so that he would be more exciting), and a little doll that she usually gets excited about. Nothing held her attention for that long but it was good to have a variety of things to keep pulling out. Eventually, she just wanted to run up the aisle of the plane and so Peter and I passed her back and forth between us, trying to keep her somewhat still.

More than the plane, I was actually the most nervous about her sleep while we were away from home. After our rough experience in Whistler the previous weekend, I tried to prepare myself for the idea of a weekend without sleep. But Pearl did really, really well! (Cue angels singing!) Our friends put us up in their basement where we had space to ourselves and Pearl slept in a pack-and-play next to our bed. (Visiting friends with kids of similar age is awesome because they already had so much baby stuff for us to use!) I was nervous about being in the same room with Pearl but it turns out the key was a really dark room. Pearl doesn’t need total darkness to sleep at home but basically, when away from home, she needs to not notice that she’s in a strange place if she wakes up at night. While she didn’t sleep through the night while we were there, she did settle back to sleep easily when she woke and she even napped during the day.

We had a great time seeing their new home and life in Kimberley. On Friday we all headed out to the Fairmont Hot Springs to spend the morning. The setting is beautiful – surrounded by snowy mountains – and the warm pools were the perfect contrast to a crisp, clear, and cold day. Pearl loved it! She loves being outside and she loves the bath so this was a pretty perfect combination of the too.

She also loved the fries she got to try for the first time at lunch afterward. Oh, and prosciutto too. Turns out, she likes salt. And sugar, because she also tried ice cream for the first time and liked it a lot. (Cranbrook has a Dairy Queen and as soon as I found out, I requested that it be a stop on our visit.)

IMG_3038

We explored Kimberley a little bit, walked some trails near their house, and visited some stores and a pretty delicious bakery. But mostly we got to spend time with some people we like and that we miss. We were thankful for the opportunity to see them and thankful for their generous hosting.

Spring Break 2016 – Whistler

To kick off Spring Break 2016, we headed up to Whistler for a night.

Way back in 2013, Peter and I had ventured that way for spring break. We had a little less snow and a whole lot more child to deal with.

Now, I could show you some sweet pictures and let you think this was a relaxing time away but…that would be a lie. Don’t get me wrong – we had fun and it was nice to go and do something different. But I wouldn’t describe it as relaxing. We had originally thought we might stay two nights but at about 2 am on Sunday night, I was pretty sure one night would be enough for us.

IMG_6576

Pearl’s favourite part of the trip was this window in the condo, where she could stand and look out and bark at any dogs that might pass by below.

After writing this post on Saturday,  it may be clear that we weren’t going into our trip with the best sleep under our belts. And Pearl, bless her little heart, is a home body. While she’s fine with some flexibility in her schedule, she does still need two naps a day and she loves sleeping in her own bed.

IMG_6584

She also loved admiring herself in a mirror the length of one whole wall.

We only had to pull over once on the drive from the ferry to Whistler and Pearl’s annoyance at still being in her car seat was placated with baby biscuits. She eventually fell asleep and we opted to not stop for lunch in Squamish (the original plan) but drove onwards and spent our afternoon in Whistler.

As sacrificing parents, Peter and I set up Pearl’s portable bed in the condo’s bedroom and took the living room’s (very uncomfortable) pull-out couch. Pearl went to bed with minimal fuss and Peter and I enjoyed take-out pasta and cable television. The rest of the night? Well, let’s just say when Peter went out to get us coffee in the morning, I asked for a large.

But looks what a happy family we are!

But look what a happy family we are!

We spent a quiet morning in the village and then worked hard and long to get Pearl to take a nap. Which ended with her asleep on the big bed and me laying down beside her, not asleep.

IMG_6593

Having decided one night was enough for us, we packed up and drove to Brandywine Falls, where we’d heard there was snowshoeing. Unfortunately, we were missing that key component of snowshoeing – snow. So it was more of a hike while carrying snowshoes.

But the falls are pretty.

IMG_6594

Family shot!

IMG_6603

Can you tell that Pearl is edging ever closer to being done with family bonding/hiking time?

We made it as far as the bungee bridge, me feeding an increasingly fussy baby bits of rice cake. We stopped there for a quick snack and let Pearl out of her carrier to run around in her snow suit. Which she did not like.

IMG_6619

But at least she looks cute.

Look out point at the bungee bridge.

Look out point at the bungee bridge.

About five minutes after we’d turned to head back, Pearl started hollering and crying for serious. Peter and I launched into a rousing rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus” (Pearl’s favourite song, stretching it out to make it all the way back to the car. Since one of Pearl’s favourite things right now is animal sounds, the song morphed into a song about a bus full of animals (and some dinosaurs) but Pearl quickly grew quiet and before long was fast asleep.

IMG_6597

It really was a pretty hike.

We all slept (pretty) well that night, happily in our own beds.

Spring Break 2014

Halfway through Spring Break and feeling thankful. I love lazy days at home with my best guy.

I also love adventuring with him.

For the first half of Spring Break, we took off to Vancouver Island to visit with friends and wander down memory lane. We made a road trip of it (complete with sound track) – two ferries, a drive down the island, and we were knocking on our friends’ door mid-afternoon on Saturday.

I lived in Victoria from 2003 to 2011. Peter moved there in 2007. It was the first place I ever lived on my own. It was the city where I made amazing friends, grew in my spiritual walk, met my husband. We spent our first year of married life there. So many good memories.

We struck a great balance of seeing friends, visiting our former church, and wandering through our favourite spots. We had a late night and a lazy Sunday with two of our favourite people (three, including their super cute baby boy!) and then fancied it up in a hotel downtown.

View from our hotel.

View from our hotel.

We ate at our favourite spots, and some new ones, and did a bunch of those things that you jsut don’t do when you live in a city.

Market Square

Market Square

Gates of Chinatown

Gates of Chinatown

Spring is a little closer in Victoria. Their blooms are out while ours are just beginning to bud on the Sunshine Coast.

Dragons and cherry blossoms

Dragons and cherry blossoms

There were a lot of “remember whens”. Our first apartment, the house I used to share with five other girls, the coffee shop I once worked at, the park Peter took kids to when he worked for a summer camp. The restaurant we went to on our first date. The spot where we first held hands. The beach near my old house where we made ‘smores and I first thought, “I might be in love with this guy.”

The Inner Harbour

The Inner Harbour

The Ledge

The Ledge

 

The Legislative Buildings and Queen Victoria

The Legislative Buildings and Queen Victoria

Views from Mount Doug

Views from Mount Doug

IMG_4188

IMG_4189

I spent a lot of time up here over the years.

IMG_4196

IMG_4200

Mount Doug Park

Mount Doug Park

Downtown Victoria and the Johnson Street Bridge

Downtown Victoria and the Johnson Street Bridge

We took a twilight walk along the waterfront to Ogden Point.

The Inner Harbour

The Inner Harbour

IMG_4219

IMG_4221

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

Ogden Point

Ogden Point

It’s good to be reminded of so many lovely places and the wonderful moments they hold. And it’s good to return to our lovely little home and to remember that both good and bad have followed us everywhere. But mostly the good.

The Ledge at night

The Ledge at night

Our Road Trip 2014 Playlist

1. Hot Tonight – Tokyo Police Club

2. Hopeless Wanderer – Mumford & Sons

3. Stars (Hold On) – Youngblood Hawke

4. Step – Vampire Weekend

5. Madness – Muse

6. Get Lucky – Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell)

7. Lover of the Light – Mumford & Sons

8. Stay – Rihanna

9. Ends of the Earth – Lord Huron

10. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend

*Bonus – This list will get you from Nanaimo to Mill Bay

 

 

Snow and Sunshine – Spring Break 2013

When you think Spring Break, you generally think “beach”, right? Me too. However, that’s not what my spring break vacation looked like this year.

Pictured below: Spring Break 2013

IMG_0513

Peter and I snuck away for a few days in Whistler. You might know it as the ski resort town that hosted the 2010 Olympics.

IMG_0527

You may not know that it’s also one of the closest towns to where we live, by land. People often think of the Sunshine Coast as an island because you have to take a ferry from Vancouver to get here.

map-sunshine-coast-small

See? Theoretically, you could walk from our house to Whistler. But there are mountains and wolves in the way. So we took the ferry and had a little road trip (see our road trip playlist at the end of this post), stopping for explorations along the way. The sun was bright as we pulled into Squamish and stopped for a picnic lunch, the Chief looming over us.

Overlooking the Squamish Valley.

IMG_0540

Neither of us had been to Whistler in a few years – well before it became an Olympic spot. It was interesting to see the changes the games had made to this little mountain village.

IMG_0529

IMG_0524

We had great weather, even waking up to snow after our first night. This is the view from where we stayed.

IMG_0503

It was colder than the Sunshine Coast.

IMG_0506

We ate giant hot dogs, drank Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day and explored in the snow.

IMG_0487

IMG_0496

IMG_0507

IMG_0510

This sign made us laugh. It looks like you might be decapitated.

IMG_0492

I stopped to pet a bear.

IMG_0496

It felt like something was behind me…

IMG_0494

Spring Break 2013 Playlist

(Yes, I did burn this on a CD. What can I say, our car is from 1995, we’re fortunate I didn’t have to make a mixed tape!)

1. Here We Go – Dispatch

2. The World (Is Going Up in Flames) – Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band

3. Mountain Sounds – Of Monsters & Men

4. Man on Fire – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

5. Welcome – Hey Rosetta!

6. Stubborn Love – The Lumineers

7. Ho Hey – The Lumineers

8. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show

9. I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons

10. Little Talks – Of Monsters & Men

11. My Girl – Yukon Blonde

12. Home – Philip Philips

13. The General – Dispatch

14. Changes – The Stars

15. Heart of Gold – Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band

16. Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros