Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final Day of Spring Break

Sadly, we left Kingfisher Manor very early on Saturday morning and headed into Victoria to catch the ferry, which left at 10:30 a.m. We had to get there 90 minutes early, so there was a great deal of waiting around.

Once on the ferry, it wasn't long before our Marie-and-Mike traveling magnet charm began working. What I mean by that is that often when we travel, we run into people we know...it's really quite amazing. For example:

1. I ran into a guy I knew in college at a bar in Japan--he was flirting with me, and it was probably the only time in my life I've ever seen Mike jealous!

2. Our first day in Delhi, India, we ran into a Scottish friend from Japan--who had been traveling around Asia for 6 months, and who had just had her money belt stolen. She was relieved to see some friendly faces, and we traveled with her for a few days before diverging into different directions.

3. We ran into a good friend of ours at a market well 20 miles or so from Oaxaca, Mexico--and we enjoyed hanging out with her for a few days in town.

4. In Paris, France, in front of the Eiffel Tower, we encountered another good UK friend from Japan, who was there with his wife and son. We had no idea he was in Paris at the time, and it was quite a shock!

5. On the Victoria-Port Angeles ferry, we headed to the back of the boat, where we immediately encountered Mike's friend Cliff, from his children's writing group! Cliff had traveled to Victoria with his wife and son for a few days.

So there you go--isn't that remarkable? Beyond those encounters, we also tended to run into the same travelers over and over again while we were traveling through India and Indonesia, but those don't really count.

Upon arriving in Port Angeles, we headed off to Woodinville (via another ferry from Kingston to Edmonds!). Here are the boys on the Edmonds ferry:

We were headed to Woodinville to stay the night with my dear friend and birthday sister Nancie and her wonderful husband Dave. It was an adventure getting there, however, as although I printed out AAA TripTiks for all the legs of our journey, I failed to get directions to their actual house. Mike had assured me that he would be able to find their house (he has the better sense of direction)...however, they live outside of Woodinville--quite a ways outside of Woodinville--so we were completely lost.

It was a comedy of errors, because although I had my Blackberry with me and could theoretically Mapquest directions, we also could not find our address book with their address. We called Nancie repeatedly, but no one answered at their house or on her cell phone. So we drove...around and around. Nicholas had fallen asleep in the back, and Chris and Kieran were incredibly patient. It was just the two adults who were getting frustrated!

Adding to the stress was the fact that a notary was meeting us at Nancie and Dave's house so we could sign the paperwork to refinance our house!

Fortunately she called to let us know she was on her way, and we asked HER the house number! And then Nancie called at last and was able to direct us to their house. (She had been running on the treadmill and then cooking dinner, and she completely lost track of time...and then looked at her cell phone to see we'd been trying to call!) We were about 10 miles out of the way, nowhere near their house.

We spent 20 minutes signing the paperwork as soon as we arrived, while Nancie entertained the kids by making virgin strawberry margaritas with them. (Our kids LOVE Nancie and Dave.) Phew! The notary was nice, but Mike and Dave laughed when they saw the right-wing bumper stickers on her car: "Rush is Right" and "Obama Bin Lying"! Not exactly the kind of person we would hang out with...although she did compliment our children's behavior!

We spent a great evening with Nancie and Dave...and Nicholas especially had a wonderful time. Dave is a talented musician, and Nicholas loves everything related to music. He spent quite a bit of time jamming with Dave.

Nicholas on his "tamborine," as he called the ukelele for some reason...
Kieran playing along on the piano
This photo of him is my favorite!! He's closing his eyes so he can really feel the music!

Musical buddies!

And more jamming on Sunday morning!...

I finally persuaded Nancie and Chris to get in the photo:

We left for home a bit before 10 and drove straight down to Portland, where we had 1 hour to pack Chris for outdoor school. Poor kid didn't have much time at home before leaving on another outdoor adventure!
It feels really odd without him here this week. As Nicholas was getting ready for bed tonight, he said "I miss Christopher!" Isn't that sweet?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last Hours at Kingfisher Manor

One of Kieran's favorite moments of each day in British Columbia was when we arrived back at Kingfisher Manor, and he could jump out of the car and open the gate to the property. Before reaching the house, I was instructed to put on this recording of the Dixie Chicks' "Ready to Run." He has become quite the Dixie Chicks fan!

Here he is opening the gate for us:

And then taking off down the hill at breakneck speed, running all the way down the road to the house:

Not sure what choice tidbit Kieran is sharing with his older brother, but Chris is paying no attention!

Dinner on our last night--pad thai

After dinner, we had planned to build a campfire at the fire pit and make s'mores...but it was a really windy evening. Kieran went outside several times to check the weather and returned to report that a fire would work fine. No one believed him, because the trees were swaying and the water rippled in waves.
But I gathered up some firewood and supplies and headed out to give the good old Girl Scout try.
(Actually, I never learned to build fires during Girl Scouts; instead I learned from years of camping with my family and building fires in the wood stove at home.)

To our delight, we were successful. I told Kieran to run back in the house and announce to everyone, "YE OF LITTLE FAITH!" It was a great fire! Out came the marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey's bars. All the Canadian supermarket had for Hershey bars were the kind with almonds. Odd for s'mores, but they turned out to be very tasty that way! Chocolate is always better with nuts, anyway!

Dad with his burnt marshmallow...

THIS is why I wanted an outdoorsy Spring break vacation for a change...

Cold, but so much fun!
We had a great time spending the week with my parents, and we were all feeling sad about leaving the next day.

Last night to take advantage of the hot tub! (Most of the time we used it in the morning when we could see the water...)

What My Parents Were Doing While We Were Swanning Around Victoria...

They were hiking around East Sooke Part...taking in the steep climbs and beautiful scenery...

A hike not really meant for small children...

Doesn't look like tropical water?

Mom and Dad really got to experience more of the beautiful areas in East Sooke than we did...I hope one day to be able to take these kinds of hikes with the kids (or without them, when they're old enough to look after themselves...). For now, we'll have tea and visit book shops! :)
Dad back at Kingfisher Manor

Last Day in Victoria

Friday we took ourselves off to Victoria for one last visit. We started the morning off with a visit to Craigdarroch Castle , which a Scottish rags-to-riches coal baron built for his wife in 1890. Sadly, he died before it was finished, and the family fell to pieces eventually. It was gorgeous, in spite of the sad history of the family.

This is the view when you first walk into the castle, looking straight up four floors...

Beautiful stained glass windows throughout!

I loved all the wood and special touches in the finishings

Check out the ceiling...

Most of the finishings and contents were not original from the castle--most of the originals had to be sold off...

I thought this chandelier over the billiards table was amazing...

View from one of the top floors--unfortunately, the day was overcast:

Nicholas was desperate to play all the pianos in the house! This one, dating circa 1897, held a sign saying that people with musical training could play it...if they played music that the other guests would enjoy! I figured that Nicholas' pounding wouldn't qualify!

A beautiful bedroom...

Chris claimed that this room, the breakfast room, was his kind of place:

Nick liked it too:
Me and the boys posing outside of the castle (Chris was in the car reading a book):

Closeup of the tower:

Next we went off to Murchie's tea shop on Government Street for lunch. Murchie's provides tea for the famous (and very expensive) Empress Hotel high tea...but maintains its own (much less-expensive) tea shop as well.
Here is Nick while we were waiting for our food:
Mike had a lovely Greek salad; Chris had a grilled beef sandwhich and soup; Kieran had a breakfast scone (with eggs and bacon); Nick had a ham-and-cheese croissant; and I had the spanokopita (yummy!). Then came the best part: dessert!
Mike with his butler pose (and Chris with his "bottomless pit" pose)
Chris and Mike had the white chocolate cheesecake for dessert
Kieran had the princess strawberry dessert
And I had an incredible rum ball!

Then we bought some more tea and other goodies for ourselves and for our friends Nancie and Dave

Right next door to Murchie's is another favorite spot in Victoria, Munro's Books. We had been to Munro's earlier in the week, but had to return again...especially because Chris was determined to blow all his money on a book there. According to its web site, Munro's has been described by noted columnist and author Allan Fotheringham as "the most magnificent bookstore in Canada, possibly in North America." While of course I think that it doesn't quite beat local favorite Powell's, it does have a much grander mystique than Powell's.

It's also in a historic building:

After lunching and book shopping, we went for a wander down to the harbor, where we saw the ferry coming in from Port Angeles:

Nick liked the little tug boat, and the seagulls:

Then onto Chinatown. While in Munro's, Kieran and I read a Magic School Bus book about Imperial China and learned that touching a stone lion's paw brings good luck:

Here is, reportedly, the narrowest street in the world, Fan Tan Alley--home of opium dens and brothels of days yore:

Chris, striking a criminal's pose:

Soon after this photo was taken, Nick fell asleep and we headed off to Market Square, where I was able to indulge in my very favorite bead store anywhere: BeadWorld. Do I need more beads? Hell, no. But I couldn't resist!