We spent the long Thanksgiving weekend in Vancouver Island, a destination we have talked and even planned of visiting for years yet never seemed to carve out the time it takes to travel there. I am so glad we made the time for this holiday adventure. Not only was it a special time to spend with our dear friends from residency, it was also great to see this amazingly beautiful part of the globe.
After some very lengthy travel (a 90 minute drive to the ferry in Anacortes from Seattle, a 90 minute wait in the ferry line to allow sufficient time for customs, a 3 hour ferry ride, and a 25 minute drive), our first stop was in Victoria. I have been dreaming of visiting Victoria since before we even moved to Seattle, so I was so excited to tack this afternoon onto our itinerary.
The weather was very cold but exceptionally beautiful, making the water of Victoria's Inner Harbor sparkle. We only allowed a few hours here, but I would definitely travel back. We stopped into the Fairmont Empress Hotel just to take a peak, opting out of the famous tea service given our young travel companions, and walked from there around the harbor to take a closer look at the British Columbia Legislature which was gorgeous from the outside (it is pictured in the above photo with David carrying Rigby in his car seat). The children were able to stretch their legs in the grass as we gawked at the beautiful boats and yachts and watched sea planes land in James Bay, better known simply as the Inner Harbor.
We had a great lunch at Pescatores which is located right in the Inner Harbor. The restaurant is divided into 3 areas- the Commons, the Raw Bar, and the Kitchen. We ate in the Commons which is the more vibrant and casual of the three and the spot to have lunch. I opted for seafood given that we were steps away from the water and while the fish and chips were very tempting, I choose a lighter fare- the Cobb salad served with grilled salmon and it was very good. The draft local beer specials during the lunch service were an added perk and made for a boozy, celebratory untraditional Thanksgiving lunch.
Our home for the weekend was in Nanoose Bay and was rented through VRBO. It was a spacious home located directly on the Straight of Georgia and much to our delight, there were about 150 sea lions several 100 yards away from our backyard beach. They were a delight to watch from afar (you could not really see much of them given their distance- Jack is pictured above trying to take a closer look with binoculars and you can strain your eyes to see them in the water photo below the photo of Jack), but they were quite noisy and they never seemed to sleep!
We spent several hours walking along the beach, hunting for cool rocks, pretending to be in a skateboarding competition (it is so fascinating to observe the play of children left to pretend in nature with very few toys), trying to get a closer look at the sea lions, and searching for jelly fish of which there were many. We also attempted a group photo. The one above was our best attempt- a pretty good one I think, especially given the silliness of our little ones!
Thanksgiving dinner was delicious. We had the traditional turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, but we also had several more unique dishes like black rice with roasted vegetables and a kale and chickpea salad.
We went on a few outings over the weekend, choosing not to venture out much given the length of travel it took to get there (and back). One of my favorite places was going to the Old Country Market in downtown Coombs, a charming and eclectic area of shops and restaurants. They had an amazing bakery and food marketplace, but what was most surprising was their collection of amazing wooden toys! We grabbed a few stocking stuffers! The second morning there, we went on a short hike in Englishman River Falls Provincial Park and saw both the upper and lower waterfalls. The park was very pretty and despite the cold, the sun was shining. It was a great way to spend the morning and to let the kids get some energy out.
On our last evening, we made a fire in the outdoor fireplace and the boys roasted marshmallows for s'mores. The lighting was fantastic at that time of day, so we snapped several good pictures of Rigby (I had a hard time choosing just one to post here, so pardon me for the four photos of me above!).
David and I agreed that some of our favorite moments of the trip were the ones that were not photographed-- the nights after the children went to bed when we sat in the living room drinking wine, eating dessert, and playing games with some of our dearest and most certainly oldest Seattle friends.
I hope your holiday was just as fun and adventurous as ours was!