Back to the beginning

I realize this is a ridiculous pseudo-complaint, even for a first world problem, but vacations are a lot of work. And I’m not talking about the planning and the executing and the balancing of varied interests and taking into account the different ages and stamina of fellow vacationers. No, I’m talking about documentation: the bazillion (only a slight exaggeration) of photos on my camera that need to be dealt with and all of the blog posts I intended to write but never did. [Because sequestering yourself for a couple of hours while you’re on vacation – to write about your vacation – seems a bit of a faux pas.] And now it seems kind of lame, if not slightly pointless – especially in this age of instagram – to go back to 10 days ago and relive the drive from Calgary to Kamloops. Which, aside from the constant haze due to forest fires in the surrounding area, and the fact that I didn’t get a picture of that gynormous body of water in Salmon Arm [due to haze and professor not stopping] was really a nonevent.

I’d gotten up (actually I believe the Gort entered my room just after 6 to ask me whenwewereleavingforvacation.) Which was fine and all, except I’d gone to bed at 2 and was feeling less than perky. ‘We only have a few things to do in the morning,’ the professor had yawned before crawling into bed the night before. And I’d laughed, knowing we would not leave the house before noon. Because even though all the clothes and shoes and swimsuits had been packed into suitcases, the pre-vacation-leaving process brings out a task-obsessed Nicola that rarely surfaces at any other time.

Meaning, I was scrubbing the inside of my circa 2000 washing machine agitator at 6:30am ‘because we were leaving for vacation.’ (And it was disgusting and I hadn’t cleaned it in a year. Or more. Ditto for the top of the dryer.)

All while the boys walked around the house wearing their pajamas with their trip backpacks on their back. ‘We’re not leaving until noon,’ I cautioned, ‘you can’t walk around with your backpacks for the next four hours.’ Secretly I’d hoped we’d be out of the house before the clock struck 12, but that was before I scoured the laundry room and spent thirty minutes looking for a lost library book that was no longer renewable and needed to be returned before we left.

Sure enough, at 12:00pm, on the dot, we all plopped into the van ready for takeoff. At 12:02pm we finally left, having run back into the house one last time. By the time we returned the library books, stopped at Safeway for trip candy and Starbucks for iced coffee, it was 12:47pm.

We’re nothing if not predictable.

The only tidbit worth mentioning about the first leg of our trip was where we stayed. I’d seen a fairly attractive conference center on Expedia for an excellent price and we’d made a reservation for the night. It turned out to be a conference center slash dormitory on a university campus which felt more than a little awkward when we arrived 7.5 hours later with our three children in tow.

The room, best described as utilitarian, was unlike any dorm room I’d had as a college student. Instead of my cement-blocked, z-shaped room with two twin beds, two dressers and two desks (and a mini fridge when I had a roommate who owned such a thing), this was a suite comprised of two bedrooms, each with its own double bed, a tiny bathroom and a tiny kitchen area. And a beautifully obscured view over some Kamloopsian body of water I couldn’t discern due to the aforementioned haze.

Really, aside from the double beds (when was the last time you shared a double bed with another person!) it was a perfectly adequate set-up, and the boys loved having their own room with their own tv. The only slight hiccup was the posse of university-aged soccer players also staying at the ‘rez’ who thought nothing of socializing in the hallways at an hour when most other people are sleeping.

‘Twas one of the worst nights of hotel-sleep….ever.

Buoyed by the promise of complimentary breakfast and the lure of their own personal television, the boys were up unnecessarily early. We showered and packed up our belongings and took the elevator down to the breakfast area. We gazed upon the four selections of sugared cereal and the well-preserved bread and bagels. ‘Yeah….no,’ the professor and I concluded at nearly the same time. But the boys had seen frosted flakes! And fruit loops! And juice!


Breakfast of champions.

After a protracted period of eating and packing up we were finally on the road again, heading to the outskirts of Vancouver to see some friends. By Johnson-standards it wasn’t even a proper drive – 3.5 hours? I’ve had errands that lasted longer than that!

We were at a gas station somewhere in that Surrey/Langley/Abbotsford trifecta I’m unlikely to ever understand, when I saw a sign for a berry farm. With an hour plus to spare, we followed the colorful sign with the promise of good things and ended up at Krause Berry Farm. Which turned out to be a delightful place with a market, and u-pick berries, and waffles with berries and whipped cream. (So yes, we fed the boys frosted flakes, fruit loops, juice and waffles with syrup!)




With bellies full of waffles and a hot-from-the-oven strawberry-rhubarb pie in our hands, we left our scenic surroundings and drove to our friends’ house. The next few hours were filled with trampoline jumping, beach combing, sand-digging, soccer playing and attempts at skim boarding at White Rock and, best of all, catching up with my dear friend.





It was one of the best days we’d had in a very long time, ‘an excellent day’ as the Gort called it.


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