Friday, August 15, 2008

Oh, Canada!

DZ and I traveled to Canada for my sister's wedding. It was GLORIOUS! It was also my first international travel (border towns in Mexico don't really count when you grew up in South Texas) and our first time to fly together. And I must say, we travel very well together. In spite of the hours-long lines to get through customs on our way home, we managed to stay cheerful and friendly toward each other and those around us. . . it's that "those around us" part that got us home on our scheduled flight.

DZ smiled at one of the TSA ladies and she asked where we were headed. He told her we were trying to get to Houston, and she knew that our flight was on final boarding call. So she swooped us away to the other side of the line, sent us under the "do not cross" barrier and got us on the plane as they were about to depart. Thankful, as always, for the kindness of strangers. Keep this in mind if you ever have the opportunity to make someone's day by being nice to them when you don't have to, ok?!

Everything about this trip (with the exception of booking flights) was done by the seat of our pants. We left Austin and flew into the outskirts of Hurricane Dolly, and we left Houston with Dolly in our rain-covered rearview mirror (do planes have rearview mirrors?). OK, that's a lame excuse! Truth is, DZ and I have been very busy with other things (trips, nesting, being newlyweds) and didn't exactly think about this trip till it was upon us. Then, the Dolly Factor played in and prevented us from booking rooms, cars, campsites, etc, until we knew where we'd be and when. That having been said, everything went as smoothly as if we'd spent thousands on a travel coordinator. We both travel with the thought that "we'll either make it on time or we won't" and it helps us stay relaxed and go with the flow.

OK, enough boring "how we got there" stories. . . how about some pictures from our trip? Here we go. . .

Ferry ride was magnificent. I'm used to the ferries that shuttles us from mainland to the barrier islands of the Gulf Coast - a 20 minute ride in your car. Instead, these are the true, "get out and go upstairs and spend money" ferries. We discovered that the coffee was hot, refills were free, everybody in Canada plays cards, and the best views were from the cargo hold below. We could really experience the speed of the vessel from that close to the water, and we were pretty much alone down there. Good times, great views!

Because we didn't plan this trip AT ALL before we left, and because our initial travel plans were based on making it to SissieFace's wedding, we flew into Vancouver and then drove all the way across Vancouver Island. More on Tofino in a minute, but here are some shots of what we saw along the way:

Cathedral Grove, a stand of cedar trees (the real ones, not the "hill country" variety) that are centuries old and a million feet tall (or something like that).

Most of the scenery was like this. Some of the water was from lakes and some was from these LONG inlets all over the island. This was a lake (I think).

Random snow-capped mountain that I saw from a gas station. By the way, gas was about $6 a gallon on the island.

I see an Airstream in my future. Seriously, how fun would it be to haul a tin-can across the nation and sleep in it at night?! I am not joking - definitely going to look into this when we're too old and tender to sleep on the rocks.

Now, on to Tofino, where we decided we will DEFINITELY return! It was gorgeous, the weather was great, and the people were so friendly. We were a little nervous when we first set up camp - about 2 feet from tents in either direction. I'm used to camping in Texas where the people are usually so loud and obnoxious that you're inspired to load it all up in your backpack and find a quiet place at the back of the park! Hehe, that's not the only reason we backpack, but considering that is what we're used to, I was a bit nervous about our digs, which you can see here, but it turned out that everybody was very respectful of personal space and noise levels. And with the beach in our backyard, we fell asleep and woke up to the sound of the crashing waves.

We enjoyed most of our meals outdoors in "unique" locations such as this little outcropping of rocks that became an island as the tide rolled in. Back to the whole "kindness of strangers" thing, we were able to get a picture of the two of us together besides our usual "faces only, one person's arm outstretched, no background" shots!

Tons of pretty pictures, not many funny stories, just a great, relaxing trip that we both needed. I'll leave you with a few pictures. . . as if you haven't seen enough already!

The road to Radar Hill.

Clouds lifting in the morning over Tofino.

Wildflowers in bloom!

Even with the storm rolling in, the view was amazing.

DZ and I watched the tide roll in over these rocks for a long time. Probably one of the most spectacular things we saw on the trip - it was AWESOME! Before the tide started to come in, these looked like little mountains of rock. By the time we left, they were completely under the water. It's no wonder so many shipwrecks took place along this shore, with this stuff all over the place submerged at high tide.