Oh, Canada!

Wow. Hope you’re ready for this. I’ve been absent for a few days, but for good reason. Let me catch you up. Last Wednesday evening, Helen’s grandma, “Mamasan” passed away, somewhat expectedly, but no less devastatingly. A brief tribute to her life, here. We cruised down to Kings Valley to be with Helen’s parents that evening (1.5 hours in the car).

We were planning to head to Vancouver the following day, so we left early from Kings Valley on Thursday morning (1.5 hours in the car). Packed everything up, and headed north. We left our house at 1:30 p.m., which put us in Olympia at 4:45 p.m., which meant at 5:45 p.m., we were still in Olympia. UGHHHH I-5 rush hour traffic. After a relatively quick border crossing, we arrived at our buddy Nate’s house in the Kits Beach area of Vancouver around 8:30 p.m. with a filthy windshield and very sore back (7 hours in the car).

We picked up some cheap, yet insanely expensive beer at the BC Liquor Store, and walked down to the beach, perched atop a log, and reminisced with one another while the teenagers around us made out and smoked weed. (Give a Canadian a joint and a Starbucks, and they’ll be happy for life).

Early the next morning, we headed to breakfast and jumped in the car again – made a short trek to Tsawwassen, jumped on a ferry, and 2 hours later arrived in Victoria (1 hour in the car, 2 on the ferry).

We headed to our campsite at Goldstream Park (the Hilton of campgrounds) and set up the tent. Then, after a brief hike on a nearby trail…

We jumped back into the car, and drove into downtown Victoria to meet our friends Carrie and Dave (.5 hours in the car).

Sushi was had, conversation was made, and we headed back to the campground to sleep (.5 hours in the car). We slept with the rain fly completely open because it was so warm – much more my style of camping than the weekend before in the 40 degree temps.

After packing up the tent in the morning, we ran to the showers to prepare for the wedding. Helen and I have become really good at “formal camping,” and have been known to set up camp in a tie and heels, when necessary.

(Photo circa 2007 and yes, those are Birkenstocks, athletic socks and a tie all rolled into a “formal” outfit – I’m from Oregon, get over it.)

Freshly showered, we headed to Sydney, where we attempted to check into our hotel (too early), but instead had to change into our wedding gear in the handicapped bathroom in the lobby. Back into the car, we took a wrong turn, and after being rescued by Carrie and Dave, we arrived at the wedding 10 minutes late, mid-way through the ceremony (1 hour in the car).

Vows were said, lips were locked, and two became one… not literally, but, yeah.

We had a great 4-course lunch – halibut and kraut, fresh greens, salmon and asparagus, followed by cake and sorbet. All of which was accompanied by plenty of red wine, to dilute the mercury in my 3 servings of fish in less than 24 hours, of course.

After lunch, we stumbled across the street to Muse, a local vineyard, where we tasted a flight of 2 whites and 3 reds, purchased a bottle of Malbec, and then headed to the Sydney Pier, our hotel.

About the hotel. I’ve stayed in lots of “green” hotels, and most have been very enjoyable. The Pier, however, was a wreck. Because they’re “protecting the environment” the common areas weren’t air conditioned (cheap), which meant they were outrageously hot, and smelled like chicken salad. The first room we entered wreaked of cigarette smoke even though the building is non-smoking. We finally settled into a less smoky-smelling room, changed into our dancing gear, and hit the road for Pyde-Topshee Wedding part deux – BBQ and Dancing (.5 hours in the car). We arrived in style, as the bride and groom entered the room, enjoyed a few multiple glasses of Mission Hill wine, and ate our hearts out.

Dave was kind enough to be the DD, so he drove us back to the hotel, where I attempted to sleep in a bed, just once, after a wedding. With the kickstand method failing, about 30 minutes after laying down, I crawled to the usual post-wedding resting place: next to the toilet. False alarm – back to bed (which was harder than the floor).

The next morning, we Helen packed up early, and we headed back to Victoria from Syndey (a very long .5 hours in the car).

When we arrived, we waited in the stand-by line for about 2 hours (while I was still trying not to throw up on myself) to get on the Coho ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington. The ferry boarded, I scarfed a breakfast sandwich and slept until we arrived back in the States.

We got on Highway, 101. West, right? WRONG! 101 East is the short route. So about 30 miles into the trip, Helen says, “Oops, we took the wrong way.” Navigation FAIL! Google Maps via Blackberry told us to turn around, but that would have been ridiculous, so we wound back and forth through the Olympic Peninsula for 4 grueling hours until we FINALLY arrived in Aberdeen, jumped back on I-5 in Olympia, and headed back to Kings Valley. We arrived at 9 p.m. (in the car for 10 hours, ferry for 2).

We slept, headed to a small family service in Corvallis in remembrance of Mamasan, headed back to Philomath to celebrate my Grandma’s 70th birthday, where I forced my 1 year-old niece to let me hold her, which resulted in her screaming bloody murder, and will probably prevent her from ever making eye contact with me again, and then at 7 p.m. jumped back in the car and headed to Portland (2 hours in the car). We arrived at 9 p.m. The suitcase threw up on the living room floor, where it remains, and we passed out.

Tuesday, I rushed off to work, left Bella in the back yard on accident all day long (poor Bella), and somehow, after more than a day-and-a-half behind the wheel of my car in the past 6 days, here I am.

Welcome to the present.

Friday, Nate arrives in Portland from Vancouver, and Saturday Josh Wilson gets married somewhere in the forest in Washington.

Somewhere in there, I plan to brew a batch of stellar IPA. And then drown myself in it. Wish me luck.

P.S. Sorry all the photos are blurry, I think the Cyber-shot is finally dying.

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