Pat really wanted to take a family vacation. Unfortunately planning for this didn’t start soon enough and our options were limited. Most of us wanted to go to Hawaii but Pat wasn’t to thrilled with that option. We also had issues with timing. It had to happen over the week the kids had spring break. For me it also meant I could only spend a few days because of limited PTO.
The final decision was Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC. The family drove up but I took a flight out on Thursday to meet them. From Portland it was only a few hours to get there. It was really cool rolling up to this small little airport and have my own car waiting for me. Bobby threw my bag into the truck and we headed to the house. They had been there since the beginning of the week and done a few things. My time was short but I was determined to make the most of it.
The weather for the most part was pretty bad all week. It often rained and was usually pretty chilly and overcast. We were not expecting bright sun and warms temps, just a little better then this. It really didn’t slow us down which was good. In fact on Saturday since it was not going to rain we changed our plans and went to Butchart Gardens.
Thursday was a travel day for me so we kept things lite. Bobby, Tracy and I went to the Crow & Gate Pub just down the street. This was the closed place to grab a beer so here we went. A classic pub in every way. Dark, huge hearth with a fire, benches and a pretty low rough cut wood ceiling. It was just the three of us so we caught up on the trip so far.
No one much felt like cooking so we decided to head to the near by town of Ladysmith to see what was available. I forget that when you are in the middle of nowhere 8pm is late. We lucked out finding Maya Norte which was still open and serving dinner. It was an awesome tapas place right in downtown. That night there was even a musician playing some really cool stuff which also added to the atmosphere. Not very busy but it was a Thursday night. We ordered so much food and it was all amazing stuff. If you are passing through town stop and grab a bite to eat.
Friday we spend most of the day at Wildplay just down the street. It’s an outdoor adventure park and we split up when we tackled this place. The kids had their own course and we adults did a much tougher one. I had never done one of these before and it was a lot of fun. As the course went on it got higher and higher in the trees. I won’t lie, it was scary at times. I kept telling myself that I was safe and nothing would happen. Fifty feet up tackling a crazy ass obstacle it’s hard to take my own words seriously.
When we all finished we all did the zip line, even Pat got in on the action. It’s actually two zip lines across the river below. The second one is crazy long and a great ride. The weather could have been better but the view was an incredible time at the park.
That afternoon a few of us headed into town. I wanted to cook dinner with Bobby one night and Friday was it. While in town I walked around and found a few spots. First was Smoke Rings Cigar and Tobacco which was crazy. The guy there, Steve, is one of the owners and actually knew Gary. We shot the shit for a long time swapping war stories from days gone bye. It’s amazing how much the cigar industry has changed since I started smoking. Based on Steve’s recommendation I was looking to smoking a cigar with family after our steak dinner.
Next I found Fascinating Rhythm which was awesome. I picked up a new mix record of soul/funk but also managed to score a couple really good used ones too. The coup for the trip was getting Gil Evans Priestess for 10 Canadian. Scoring this was a big win, totally made the entire trip worth it. Shout out to Michael Ruetten for turning me onto this album. I love that guy. I was so shocked when I saw it I couldn’t pass it up. I also found a reprint of Horace Silver Quintet’s Song for my Father for half the price of a sealed one. Don’t mind if I do. Unfortunately this didn’t leave anytime to taste beer but then there should always be a reason to come back.
Cooking can be an adventure and that night it was. The homeowners had two grills and both of them where encrusted with mold. The worst grills I have ever seen in my life, total health hazard. It made me want to vomit when I saw them. Not to let this stand in our way, we adjusted and still put together a great meal for everyone. After the kids went to bed the adults went down to the water front. The weather was pretty peaceful and the temps not bad so everyone hung out while Bobby and I smoked a victory cigar after a tasty meal.
Saturday we all packed into the truck and headed for Victoria. I had been here once before on our Alaskan cruise and I thought it was a great city. I was excited to be coming back, even if it was only for the day. While driving down we made a game day decision and went to Butchard Gardens since the weather had cleared up. We did get a little drizzly but having lived in the PNW for a while now, it didn’t even phase me.
A really cool place with lots to explore and see. This is a garden started by a rich guy a long time ago, typical story to be honest. Lots of plaques all over the grounds that explain the fascinating history of the garden. You can actual track the expansion and growth of the gardens throughout history with these plaques. Umbrellas all over the place if you come unprepared which is something I haven’t seen anywhere else offered.
Having made the long trip to Victory we stayed in town for dinner that night. The family went to church and I scouted around for a place to eat. Did a little shopping but didn’t buy anything. I did find Yates Street Taphouse. It was open to kids, had a great beer list and looked liked decent food. I was overrules. When traveling with the family it is difficult to come to consensus at times. It turned into a giant cluster fuck finding a restaurant that night but I was happy with the choice we made, Earls Kitchen + Bar.
It might be a chain but it was a great place. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Great American Restaurants back east. The service was good, beer was cold and the food pretty darn creative. After our tapas dinner a few nights before we decided on a similar setup. We got a bunch of small plates and pizza to share with everyone. The food was so good, I can only image what an actual meal would be like.
Sunday came all to quickly. We packed up and got out of the house rather quickly which was surprising. It was going to be a long drive getting home. We were going to cross via ferry in Victoria so we decided to hit the Royal British Columbia Museum for a quick cultural visit. About a quarter of the museum was under construction but it was still a lot to explore. What I thought was most fascinating was the emphasis on client change. Government sponsored awareness of client change was pretty cool to see.
The trip across the board home was an easy and thankfully uneventful one. Bobby has had issues in the past crossing back but not this time. It was a petty long ferry ride and then an even longer drive south. From Port Angeles there is no good way coming home. You have to go around Olympic National Park and its a big park. I don’t remember what time I eventually got home but it was late after a long day of travel. I think next time I would spring to just fly myself home.
It was a short trip but a really good one with the family. Hopefully next time we can pick a warmer location and with enough advanced notice, get Matt to come.