One of my favorite things about our visit to Vancouver was that my sister did all the planning. She emailed me an itinerary before our visit, but I’m not the type to burden myself with pesky things like referencing a schedule.
In the morning I would wake up, ask where we were going and what footwear I would need. She was our planner, navigator, and snack-packer.
What I’m saying is, if you need a couple of siblings for the article you’re writing about birth order, HERE WE ARE!
When she told me that we were going to a place called “Stanley Park” I had no idea what to expect. Local playground or national park — it’s anyone’s guess. The latter was more like it. Stanley Park is a huge, beautiful urban park (sort of like Central Park) with beaches and forest paths and the biggest swimming pool I’ve ever seen in real life.
Our first stop in Stanley Park was the totem poles, where the kids climbed trees and rocks and the adults looked at totem poles.
We walked just beyond the totem poles to the seawall. This was my first time on a Pacific beach, and one of the many times that I exclaimed, “Wow! I can’t believe this is right here!”
In this picture you can see the steep steps we scrambled down to get to the shore. (Thomas was still recovering from the virus he had the day before, so he wasn’t as full-throttle as he normally is.)
The kids ran down and the Richmond, B.C. cousins showed the Richmond, VA cousins all there is to discover. There were sea stars, urchins, tiny crabs, and plenty of things I’d never seen before — not in real life, anyway. Definitely not scattered en mass across rocks and puddles.
I was completely amazed by the sea stars. They were, no exaggeration, EVERYWHERE. I could have stayed on this shoreline for hours just looking under the rocks. Both of these pictures, if you look closely, you’ll see that there are lots of sea stars (I think I counted 12 in the bottom photo). I kept trying to explain to my kids to soak it in, because this is not your everyday east coast shoreline, kids.
Normally when Mom is jumping up and down and telling the kids how cool something is, the kids fulfill their “kid” duties by rolling their eyes and ignoring her. UNLESS it’s the seawall.
We left the seawall to head to the swimming pool at Second Beach. Tom decided he’d rather walk than drive, so he rallied a group of adventurers for a hike across Stanley Park.
Here we are, embarking on a walk through the woods, none of us worrying about where we were going or how we were getting there.
First stop — Beaver Lake. Commence Mom jumping up and down and entreating the kids to appreciate the scenery.
Cue Tom telling me to “hurry up and stop taking pictures” and Mary tagging on, “Mom, we’re here to HIKE, not take pictures!”
As we walked Tom kept referencing his map and acting confused, and here’s the thing I learned on the hike: NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING makes a short, relaxed hike feel like a long, exhausting hike like a confused navigator.
I don’t think Tom was ever actually lost, but every time he stopped and frantically unfolded the map, it felt like he was adding a mile to our hike.
Ultimately we all bonded over the shared experience of questioning Tom’s leadership abilities. MEMORIES!
Finally we made it to this little road crossing, and I said, “Great. We’re back to where we started!”
And then Ellie made this face because she couldn’t even believe she’d been hiking for an hour only to end where she started, and because she hasn’t yet gotten used to her Aunt Amanda’s insufferable sarcasm.
(We weren’t actually where we started. We were actually a few minutes from our destination.)
The rest of the hike was along the sea wall. Which, again, I could have spent all day exploring.
We made it to the beach! And look! That’s Mary “I do not have the energy to walk a single step of this hike” Virginia Krieger, running with exuberance down to the water.
Tom told the kids he’d pay one dollar to anyone who went all the way under the freezing cold water (much, much colder than this photo implies).
David was the only one who went for it.
From the beach we went to the pool — easily the largest pool I’ve ever seen in real life.
The pool was heated, but still 10 or 20 degrees too cold for Princess Amanda, who is used to swimming in an 88 degree pool on a 95 degree day.
(You can see almost all of our crew in the photo above. Tom is holding Anna, she swam until she started shivering.)
The photo below is a picture of my dad surrounded by the gear and discarded clothes for eight children and their parents. I took this photo because I couldn’t help but laugh every time I looked up from the pool and saw mom and dad sitting among all the shorts and flip flops.
We swam until our lips were blue, then all dressed in sweatshirts and jackets. We drove home, tired from a full day of exploration and adventure. We were all ready to go home and rest, but I also felt like there was so much more we could have seen if we’d had time. That ended up being a common sentiment as we moved through the week — we could have devoted and entire week to each individual adventure, just as we would have been happy spending all week in my sister’s neighborhood.
We spent all day and still there’s more to see in Stanley Park. For now, I’m tucking that all away for our next visit.