I mentioned the other day that we took a trip out to Langley to visit Shawn’s family. Both of us were really looking forward to it, but my anticipation was buried under a huge pile of anxiety. That’s right, I getting hugely anxious before I travel, and this time it seemed to be compounded with the added pressure of flying/travelling with Finn for the first time. I don’t know what it is. I love going places, especially places I’ve never been before, but in the weeks leading up to a trip my nerves go into overdrive. I start thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong, most of these usually having to do with my health, and I end up, for lack of a more appropriate phrase, tripping balls. This isn’t good for me or anyone around me, and ends up being a cycle that just repeats until I’m dreading the going more than I’m looking forward to the trip.
In the weeks leading up to this particular trip, my hemiplegic migraines decided to make a triumphant return. Hurray! One of the worst thing, for me, in dealing with a chronic illness, is to have a hurricane right when you could really use some calm waters. I didn’t want to pack my cane. I didn’t want to have to bring it to the airport. Not only that, but taking care of a baby when I can’t walk properly is HARD. Like everything else I do, I had to adapt the way I was doing things so I could use the left side of my body for almost everything. It was doable, but definitely not in the top five things I wanted to accomplish last month. Do I feel like a pro for being able to carry a 20+ pound baby and walk with a cane at the same time? Of course, but it’s a skill I could have done without. Add all of that to my normal travel anxiety, plus the anxiety I get when I think about my in-laws and my illness, and I was having a bad time. (Let me clarify that a little: my in-laws know about my illness and are fairly good with it. However, unless you live with something and deal with it every day, it’s just not something you are good at dealing with. It’s not a failing, it’s just the truth, and because they live in a different province, they haven’t had to deal with it on a large scale. I say, lucky for them.)
My normal, rational self was still looking forward to going, but the rest of me kept screaming, “Hell no! I want to stay here! Here is safe. I can sleep how I want, and be as borked as I need to be, and everything will be fine.” Obviously, my rational self won out. Finn is a pretty amazing baby. He doesn’t cry without a reason, and I wasn’t overly worried about him flying. Besides, babies cry on planes. It happens. If they don’t feel like nursing/eating/sucking, their ears might hurt and they might cry. Parents shouldn’t have to apologize for a baby being a baby. (For more on that, read The No-Bullsh*t Goody Bag for Parents to Give Out on Planes. It’s brilliant.) Luckily, he fell asleep during take off, had a decent nap, woke up, ate a little, and only fussed for a few minutes on the way down. It was great, and he did an excellent job of charming as many people on the flight as possible without our help.
I am fully willing to admit that we were not prepared for the ungodly heat waiting for us. When I checked the forecast before we left, it said 19-22 for the week. We were both looking forward to this, as it had been hot as hell at home, but when we got there, things had changed. It was close to the thirty degree mark the whole week, and so humid it felt hotter than it actually was. Being from Alberta, we both know how to deal with a windchill factor, but humidity that makes it feel hotter than it is? That is an utterly foreign concept. It was awful. We also live in a basement suite that is just over seven feet underground, so it stays a nice temperature at all times. We don’t have A/C, but we don’t really need it. Our house is cool and comfortable, and we can always turn on the circulating fans if we need an extra boost. Contrast this with my in-laws house, and we both felt like we were going to die. It was a sauna, and no amount of window opening or fan blowing seemed to be helping. This made the first night a little on the horrible side for all three of us. I couldn’t settle down to sleep with the heat, regardless of how tired I was, and Finn was up more than normal too.
This probably accounted for my extra irritability on Monday. Well, we were all a little more irritable than normal, but it still ended up being a good day. Shawn’s parents took us to Krause Berry Farms, which is a really neat place, and a great place to eat. I’m not big on berries and never have been, despite being exposed to fresh off the bush berries as a child, but there were plenty of other things to do and eat. Have you ever had corn on a pizza? No? Well, it was freaking delicious. For more on that, check out my Yelp Review.
Monday night, we all slept in the basement, which was a vast improvement. Finn actually slept through the night, and we woke much refreshed for our day trip out to Whistler (with a stop at Shannon Falls) on Tuesday. I had never been to Whistler in the summer before, so this was a new thing for me. It’s awesome in the winter, so I was expecting no less from a summer visit. It was still stupidly hot, so thank god for air conditioning. I felt really bad for Finn having to be stuck in his hot ass car seat the whole time, but there was nothing else we could do. At least the drive was broken up a bit by the stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park, a place I had never been at all, so that was really nice. After convincing Finn that he should have something to eat, in spite of all the fun things and people there were to look at, we popped him in the carrier and headed off. It’s not a very large park, but it does have some lovely trails and a really great view.
Shawn, in his typical fashion, didn’t shy from climbing everything he could, even if the baby happened to be on his back. Finn didn’t mind at all. We did take him out once we started back down the trail, but that was mostly to keep the two of them from over heating. They’re both furnaces, and Finn starts to get antsy if he’s in his carrier for too long anymore. He just can’t move as much as he’d like. Shawn and his dad took a climb up the lower part of the falls, and we even managed to stick Finn’s feet in the river. He loved it, right up until he realized that he was getting cold. After a stop at the Squamish Valley Golf Club (good food and fabulous views, see my Yelp review), we headed off to Whistler. The plan was to take a trip on the Peak to Peak gondola, which is a fairly recent installation. To get there, you have to take a gondola up Whistler itself, a ride that we were all quite familiar with. Finn slept for this part of the journey, which was good. He needed a little break.
Apparently, the temperature at the top of the mountain was only about sixteen celsius or so, but it felt like heaven. It it had been like that everywhere else, it would have been much more tolerable. Also, and I’m not going to speculate about where these people were from, but there were bears that had been sighted on the mountain within view of the gondola to the top. These people asked the lift operators if the bears were wild and what they did with them in the winter. We laughed about that for most of the ride up. I mean, seriously? Did they really think a mountain resort would keep bears around for fun? It’s still a wild place. There are going to be bears. Ha. The Peak to Peak gondola is pretty amazing. There are two types of cars: regular and glass floor. The wait for the glass floor was ridiculous, so we just grabbed a regular one. The view was spectacular all the same. It was incredible riding an unsupported cable all the way across the valley. Finn woke up, and got to come out of his stroller to have a look around (after he was done eating one of our maps, of course). We’re not sure how aware he was of what was going on, but he did have a good laugh at his reflection in the glass. Regardless of whether he knew how high up he was or not, we got some great pictures of him, and I’m glad he got to do something so neat at such a young age. It reminded me a little of when my parents took me to Europe when I was his age, just on a smaller scale. He’s got Gondola pictures, I have “riding the train to the Alps” pictures.
We trucked around bit on the other side before heading back to the Whistler end. Finn was starting to not want to be in the stroller any more, so we were taking turns holding him. They had a set of Olympic Rings and an old podium set up at the top Whistler, so we grabbed a shot of me with the “Number One Champion Gross Baby”. One thing that Whistler is doing really well is not shoving the fact that they were part of hosting the Winter Olympics down your throat at every turn. They have it on signs on the way it, but it’s not kicking you in the face everywhere you look, and I think that’s a good thing. They were an extremely popular spot before the Olympics landed there, and they should stick with what they do best. I was very impressed with the way they do the downhill bike trails, and would love to go back for some lessons, as downhill mountain biking is something that I’ve never really done before, at least not on purpose. Another time, when Finn is old enough to join in the fun, we will have to go back for a day or two of biking and hiking. There is so much mountain space to cover, you really could make it a new adventure every day.
Wednesday, we took a much needed break before heading out to Hell’s Gate on Thursday. Now it was starting to feel like a gondola vacation! The Hell’s Gate Airtram is one of the longest descending gondolas in the world, so that’s pretty cool. It runs over an insanely deep part of the Fraser River, and we were there it was over 400 feet deep. They actually had to construct metal viaducts (they may be called something else, but that’s what they made me think of) so that the salmon could make it through that part of the river during salmon run season.
Apparently, the place is haunted, but not y anything malicious. There is a haunted stove near the gold panning site, and there are several documented cases of ghost sightings and paranormal activity. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything weird. Oh well.
Lunch was good, even though they made a mistake on my order and put the bacon in my poutine instead of on my burger. I will never say no to meat in my poutine. The salmon chowder, which is apparently world famous, was enjoyed by everyone who had it. I did not, as I can’t abide seafood or fish. What I have was good, though, and we all left happy.
They also have two gift shops (one at the top and one at the bottom), a candy store with some damn fine ice cream and some decent fudge, a fisheries interpretive centre, a little spot where you can pan for gold, and a suspension bridge that goes across the river and over some train tracks if you feel like taking a bit of a hike.
After Hell’s Gate, we stopped off at Harrison to take a dip in the lake. Neither of the babies, Finn or his cousin Natalya, were overly excited about the cold water. Natalya was neutral about using Finn’s floaty, at best, and Finn wasn’t really happy until we just sat him in the shallows and let him splash around on his own. He did look wicked cute in his dragon bathing suit. My husband also looked wicked handsome, as always.
Finn was fascinated by his cousin. Natalya was almost ten months old when we were there, and he kept looking at her like, “Hey, she’s like me. Why can’t I do some of that stuff?” She seemed to think he was rather interesting, too. I loved the fact that she was taller than him by several inches, but weighed practically nothing any time I picked her up. It was a nice change, and something that my arms greatly appreciated.
Our last stop for that day was dinner at the absolutely stunning Pretty Estate Resort. Seriously, this place is divine. I kept picturing a Victorian or Steampunk wedding here (in full costume, of course, because full-on traditional weddings bore the pants off me for the most part). I’m still hoping someone will do it and post the photos to Off Beat Bride, just so I can drool over them.
The food was decent, although I left wishing I had ordered a bigger bowl of the chicken chowder. It was really good. The ribs I had were well cooked, but the flavour of the sauce didn’t stick. It vanished in the middle of each bite, so that was a bit of a bummer.
The babies were really well behaved, in spite of being tired and hungry. Finn was playing with Sophie the Giraffe, and Natalya decided this was a great toy. This came in handy the next day for family pictures. At least the decided that they could share:
Also, here’s another picture of my spectacular husband, just because:
He’s fabulous. How could I not love a guy like that? He’s just as awesome as he looks 🙂
Friday, we got up early to go and take family pictures at a local heritage site. The park was very pretty, with views of the river, lots of trees, and old buildings. The photographer doing to shoot also did Natalya’s newborn photos, and she’s fairly new on the photography scene. She was able to be flexible with timing because we obviously had little ones to deal with, so that was nice. I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail on the experience here, as I’m planning on doing a separate post to cover the photos and my thoughts on the whole process. When that will be is another thing. Blogging with a baby is quite the process.
Saturday, being our last day there, ended up being mostly just a day of sleep. The rest of the week was fairly full, and it was so damn hot and humid, that we were exhausted. This isn’t a complaint, by any means. It was a great week. I really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with my in-laws. In spite of the face that Shawn and I have been together for just over four years, I really didn’t feel like I knew them overly well, and I don’t think they knew me, or us, either. This trip fixed that, and that’s where the sigh of relief comes from.
I really like both of Shawn’s parents, and getting to spend time with them, and have them spend time with us and with Finn, was great. I love watching people love my son. He’s such a little charmer. He loves to meet new people and spend time with people other than us, so it was great to give his other grandparents ample time to spend with him.
I also really appreciated the immense amount of effort that Shawn’s mom put in to making sure we had a good trip. She’s such a sweet and kindhearted person, and it shows. I feel that we have a better relationship (not that it was terrible before) after this trip, and that’s a great thing for me.
Reinforced may not be the right word to use here, but spending time with Caelin and Natalya reinforced the fact that Shawn and I have a real, live niece. It’s one of those facts that always floats around in the back of my head, the same way that I know Star Wars: Episode I was a huge disappointment, but seeing her several days in a row was really great. I loved how she was fascinated by my lipstick and kept trying to touch it. I didn’t even care if it smeared or not. She wanted to touch the red, she could touch the red. It’s not something she sees a lot of, so she was welcome to explore it, no matter how many tiny red fingerprints I ended up with on my face.
We even got to spend some time with our brother-in-law, Dmytri, which, if I’m being honest, was a little strange. He’s not the same guy that he was when we first met him, and he and Caelin came and stayed with us for a week. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it seemed like he was spending time with us out of obligation rather than a genuine desire to be there, and that made me sad. He barely spoke, though he did ask me how things in Edmonton were and how my parents were doing, which I appreciated, and he only took Finn because I physically put him in his arms.
This is is an improvement over when he was here for Finn’s Baptism. I’m not even sure why he made that trip. And yes, I could be taking things out of context, but I really don’t know how else to take things. I have one niece, and I loved getting to spend time with her. As far as I know, Finn is his only nephew, and I just thought he would be a little more jazzed about it.
That was the only thing about the trip that kind of bummed me out. I feel that it was a smashing success otherwise, and am looking forward to going back in January. We will be there the week before Finn and my collective birthday (birthday thief!!), so it’s not going to be so stinking hot. People who live in BC seem to think that it’s cold at that time of year. People who live in Alberta just sit back and laugh at them.
Here’s to great vacations, great families, and good memories.