After the disappointing end to last year’s beach-side vacation, we decided that Seaside would not, in fact, become an annual family tradition. Through no fault of its own, we just could not bear to go back to the beach this year. We decided instead to hit up Victoria, BC, location of our honeymoon and many fond memories. We told Sonja that she would get to go on a ferry boat, and this made her very excited. I tried to instill the concept that Canada was a foreign country (really the concept of country all together), with a small amount of success. Although I try to keep most activities under wraps until the last second, so I don’t have to hear a constant barrage of, “is it time yet?” questions, I let her know early that this was the plan so she could get excited. And excited she did get.
We decided to go for two days for a number of reasons. The journey is too long for just a one night stay, and Sonja is still young enough that any more than two would be too exhausting for me. Plus, Shaun didn’t have a lot of vacation time accrued at his new job. Our original intent was to take the Clipper, as was the plan for the honeymoon. Both times, however, a search for Clipper vacation packages resulted in the knowledge that the sailing times are very inconvenient for people who live an hour south of Seattle, and the ferry from Port Angeles is much cheaper with more convenient times. In the end I’m glad we went that way, as we pack too heavily to not take the car.
Before the day arrived, I was showing Sonja pictures of the boat on the ferry’s website, and happened across the information that they serve ice cream. She knew immediately that she wanted ice cream, but was concerned about exactly where she would eat the ice cream. I explained that it was a very big boat, and there were tables and chairs where she could sit down and eat the ice cream. She then began telling everyone she saw that she was going to sit at a table and eat ice cream on the ferry.
It’d been seven years since our last visit. I remember Victoria as a sleepy town, but not as sleepy as Seaside. I borrowed a guidebook from the library and looked online for kid-friendly activities. There were a few that I earmarked, with the intent of playing it by ear.
We arrived in Victoria on a Sunday afternoon, and were half an hour early for hotel check-in. This may be the only time I’ve been turned away for arriving early. We took a short walk, which took us directly by the horse-drawn carriage tours. Sonja immediately started lobbying for a ride, but to no avail. It was expensive and we figured after one whiff of the horse poo, she’d want to get off.
After checking in to the hotel, which was very nice and had an unexpected but small kitchen, we headed off to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. I’m somewhat amazed that I did not know Victoria had an OSF when we went on our honeymoon. It seems like the kind of thing I’d suss out early. But I knew this time, and it was only a few blocks from the hotel.
It was a long dinner, during which I had to exchange Sonja’s drink twice and her meal once. We left a nice tip for the friendly waitress, and started walking. Most shops and activities were closed already (this was about 7 o’clock), but there were a few souvenir shops and drug stores still open. I realized that I’d forgotten to bring Sonja’s toothbrush, so we stopped at a 7/11 to buy her one. They did not have a kid-size one, so we plunked down $4 Canadian for an adult one that we figured we’d throw away after the trip. Then, on our walk back to the hotel, we found a proper drugstore, a kind of Canadian Rite- Aid. There we found a kid’s toothbrush, and after some fussing about which character she wanted on her toothbrush (she settled on Marty from Madagascar), I stood up from crouching and turned to exit the aisle. I found myself staring directly at my favorite deodorant which I haven’t been able to find in the States for years. (It is nearly impossible to find strictly deodorant – not antiperspirant – in the ladies’ deodorant section. Go ahead. Look. You’ll see I’m right. Now go to the men’s section. See how much more choice they have?) I really liked this brand for being cheaper and better smelling than what I could find in the organic aisles. I cleared off the shelf and intended to stop by every drugstore I could find the next day to clean them out too.
High off that triumph, we headed back to the hotel a little worn out, a little weary and some of us (I won’t say who) a little whiny. The beds were comfy (though not the pillows), the a/c cold and the hotel quiet. Still, it took me a long time to fall asleep, and I was awakened at four a.m. by Sonja, who was complaining that she couldn’t smell. She was just having some allergies – happens all the time to me and Shaun in hotel rooms. It took another hour for us to get back to sleep. And by 7 the next morning, we were up and getting ready to head downstairs for the hotel’s free buffet-style breakfast.