WARNING: This is a long post, so grab a cuppa and maybe even a snack...
We had an amazing time on our trip! The little ladies were excellent travelers and a lot of fun (as was Mr. Darcy). We didn't do as much as we could have but we wanted to try to take it slowly and enjoy ourselves instead of overprogramming. And I'm really proud of myself because I didn't have every minute planned and didn't have any freak outs - even when I thought we were a little bit lost trying to find our hotel in Victoria.
We spent Wednesday traveling out to Seattle. 2 plane rides later we arrived - all happy and in one piece. Ladybug seemed to either have an allergy or the start of a cold... it turned out to be a cold, but she was (overall) still cheerful and fun in spite of it. The girls even carried their back packs and carryons the entire time. I think they liked being in charge of their gear and they loved riding on the planes and watching planes take off while waiting for our next flight.
After getting the carseats from the carousel, we wandered with a ton of stuff to find a taxi to take us to the airport. Turned out the shuttle was more expensive than a taxi ride, the taxi with all our bags would be just as (if not more than) a ride in a town car, so Mr. Darcy opted for the town car - which they decided to let us ride in a LIMO for the same price. We were laughing hard - riding in super style to our $110 per night hotel, which suited us just fine with the girls. The little ladies' 1st limo ride and our 1st limo ride since our wedding almost 12 1/2 years ago!
Once we were checked in, we got some dinner and went for a walk and ended up riding the monorail down to the Seattle City Center to see the Space Needle. The girls loved the monorail, and we had a great driver who let them each honk the monorail's horn. : ) They also loved the Space Needle (as did we) and looked through every telescope and binocular on the deck. After that when they would see the Space Needle, one of them would shout out "It's the Space Needle! We went there!"
After an interesting night's sleep in what would be a pattern for the trip - one of the girls would wake up and not recognize where we were and call for Mommy to come sleep with them - we wandered down to the Pike's Place Market area. We had breakfast in a little french bakery and discovered that Angelfish doesn't like crossoints or flakey french pasteries of any kind. But at least she drank a good bit of milk.
We loved the market and wandered it a good while. The girls' loved the pig statue, the flowers, the fish, and just everything. We had the most delicious fruit samples (and bought a decent amount of fruit for snacks)! Honeycrisp apples are the family's new favorite type of apple. The best part for me was when a street performer saw Angelfish and I and sang the jazziest version of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" that I've ever heard. She was singing that song the rest of the day. It was awesome!
Afterwards we went to the Seattle Aquarium and spent several hours just wandering around looking at the fish, the octopus, the birds, the sea otters and the seals. It was awesome. The girls' loved getting to touch sea urchins and starfish, staring at the octopus moving in its tank and all the jellyfish. Not to mention playing with a board that let them put sea creatures whereever they wanted. But I think Angelfish's favorite part may have been the hand dryer in the ladies' bathroom... she would hoot and holler and clamor to use it again every time we went past the bathroom. It always cracks me up what they like the best. Ladybug's favorite was probably the board with the sea creatures.
After a leisurely lunch or two - we had a "picnic" of dried meat and fruit from the market while watching the sea otters eating their lunch and then got a regular lunch an hour or so later - we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit and for Mr. Darcy to get our car from the rental place that was in walking distance from the hotel.
Then we were off to my Aunt C and Uncle B's on Whidbey Island. What a gorgeous place! We met them after a nice little ferry ride - our first ferry ride ever - for dinner. After discovering that the portable DVD player we brought for the trip didn't work, the girls fell asleep. At dinner they were a bit of a handful at first but settled down and were a hoot after a bit.
Mr. Darcy and my Uncle rented a van so that we could all spend the day together riding out to Diablo Lake in the Cascades... they also bought a new portable DVD player that rocked the rest of our trip and made the little ladies happy during the car ride. We took a wonderful ride through the Cascades that let us stop every so often to see amazing views and for the girls' to get out and stretch their legs. Deception Point was one of the family favorites - very cool bridge built originally as part of the New Deal and absolutely amazing views. Even the girls were impressed!
Of course, at one stop the Little Ladies were so enthralled with the Spooky Halloween Word World episode they were watching that they didn't want to get out and see the hand hewn long canoe we thought was pretty cool. They did like a few of the other stops and liked running around pointing out water falls or pretty leave colors which Ladybug deemed was happening because "Halloween is at the end of the month."
We also had a gorgeous view of Diablo Lake and had a fun picnic lunch were we relaxed and kept an eye on the girls who were playing all sorts of make believe games. The drawback was the National Park latrine, which Angelfish just used because she had to go but Ladybug had to be coaxed into using because it "smells bad and yucky" and she didn't like the way it looked. She eventually used it and it was back in the car.
On the ride back we saw a buffalo farm and stopped for homemade ice cream at a pumpkin patch and farm. Back at the house, we had amazing freshly caught Salmon that my Aunt & Uncle's neighbor had given them. YUM! And once the girls were in bed, we had port and chatted. It was a great visit! The only drawback was I realized I was starting to get Ladybug's cold.
We took an early drive to Port Townsend, rode a ferry with amazing views of Whidbey Island and the sound, and then drove the rest of the way to Anacortes where we bought our ferry tickets to cross over to Canada's Victoria Island. After a stop for scones and coffee and a running around session for Angelfish and Ladybug, we drove to the top of Hurricane Ridge where we had some more gorgeous views and the girls napped in the car.
Cutting it close for the ferry, we parked the car and threw some stuff into a bag or two and headed off to Canada. Angelfish and Ladybug are now international travelers without any international incidents! We played games and did an activity book that we bought for them during the hour long ride. At one point the captain came over the intercom and announced that there were humpback whales out to the right side of the boat. It was awesome! Ladybug and I were really excited - as was another lady who when I asked Ladybug how cool is that? The woman enthusiastically answered "AWESOME!" A lot of the people on the ferry were going for the next day's Royal Victoria Marathon and Half Marathon. I jokingly said to Mr. Darcy, "maybe next year we can come back and I can run the Half." If looks could kill, I would be thoroughly deceased... later Mr. Darcy ran into 4 women from his old firm in Atlanta who had come to run the Half. We had a good laugh about that.
At one point during the ferry ride they announced that they were doing a drawing for tickets to the Bushart Gardens and all you had to do was fill out a little piece of paper for each member in your party - we had 4 people so Mr. Darcy got us 4 tickets. They announced some numbers but none matched. I said to Mr. Darcy, "well, it would have been too amazing to have gotten to see humpback whales AND win tickets to the gardens" (which we were planning on seeing anyway). No sooner than the words had left my mouth did they come on again and announce they had more tickets to give away - and we won one!
Once we got through customs and were questioned thoroughly as to why we were there and what we were doing and where we were staying, we were allowed into Canada! We took pictures along the waterfront, saw the finish line for the marathon (and yes, I was feeling sad I didn't get to run), and wandered in the direction of our hotel. Right when I thought we were lost, Mr. Darcy said let's just turn left and try up a block or two. The girls were happy picking and blowing dandelions as we walked, I was enjoying the picturesque quality of the town, and poof there we were right at our hotel. : )
We checked in at the Helm's Inn, which we rather liked except for the party that went on in the room above ours which coupled with my having to sleep with the Little Ladies led to maybe 3 hours of sleep for me. But before bed, we walked through the downtown center, saw some cool totem poles, and discovered that you can't even eat in a pub if you're not 19 (so 3 year old twins were not allowed - I guess their pubs are like bars here... and we wouldnt' bring the girls into a bar in the US, but the pubs were way nicer and looked more like eating establishments that contained a bar in part). We sat down to eat and I wasn't feeling so good and we were all tired.
The Little Ladies suceeded in spilling water 3 times and soaking Mr. Darcy and I (and our pants) in the process. I spilled water once. That was a bit tense for a little bit because I wasn't handling it overly well and the girls were probably a bit punch drunk on lack of sleep at that point, but we all calmed down with a local beer (for Mr. Darcy and I) and french fries for the girls. Afterwards we wandered some more, played in a toy shop, and got some ice cream.
It was race day and when we set out, people were already running. By the time finished breakfast, the half marathoners had finished and were sporting their shiny finishers medal. If you ever have thoughts of running the Royal Victoria Half or full Marathon, I'd recommend it. The course looked nice, there was tons of stuff (gatorade and food type things), and the medals were really cool as were the tech shirts these people got. At breakfast we spilled 2 glasses of milk, but this time laughed about it. Really good breakfast though at a place (Smitty's) described as a type of Denny's, but that was way better.
Then we took the bus out to Bushart Gardens and got to see a little of the surrounding area via the bus. The gardens were absolutely gorgeous and I wish we had gotten more pictures, but we had forgotten to charge the camera battery. Mr. Darcy took a few with his camera phone, though. The girls had fun playing hide and seek among the plants and then fell asleep on us while we were carrying them. So I got a bit of a workout as I wandered the gardens, but loved the views and the beautiful surroundings.
Somehow we were able to get the bus back, Mr. Darcy grabbed our stuff from the hotel while the girls and I played near a totem pole that they liked putting pine cones in its nose, and we still made it on to the 3 pm ferry. But somewhere in here we lost 1 1/2 hours between the ferry leaving at 3 pm and arriving at our car in Washington. Not sure if there was a time change we were unaware of or what. But we headed out of town and on to Gig Harbor where we stayed with my Uncle T and Aunt N.
They thought (as we did) we would be there earlier and my Cousin L. and her children were there waiting to see us. We felt terribly that we were so late, but had a wonderful time chatting until Cousin L and her 3 little ones had to go home. After that we enjoyed spending time with my Aunt and Uncle too.
Monday we woke to a wonderful pancake and bacon breakfast that my Uncle T made. Unfortunately, my cold was in full blast so I ended up with toast because I wasn't feeling well with all the congestion. The toast did the trick, the girls and Mr. Darcy loved their breakfast and we all headed out to Mount Rainer.
The drive was beautiful and we had a great time with my Aunt and Uncle. The girls got to use their first port a potty on this leg of the trip too. Try explaining why there is a cup and why they can see poop and pee in the potty and why it doesn't flush to a 3 year old. They eventually decided it was "silly" and moved on.
It was snow flurrying on Mount Rainer so we got to enjoy the snow a little and had some breath taking views, although we were amazed at how little water there was due to the drought they've been having out there. River beds almost completely rocks. At Paradise we stopped, got out and looked around. There's a nice visitors center so we looked at the mountains, took pictures, did the handson displays with the girls and chased them around, visited the bathroom with them a few times (again Angelfish loved the hand dryers much to the amusement of some Indian women in full saris), and had a nice lunch.
After lunch, the girls threw a few snowballs at Uncle T. in the parking lot and when sufficiently cold piled into the car with the adorable black bear stuffed animals that my Uncle and Aunt surprised them with. The ride back was even nice although everyone had a nap, except Uncle T. who was driving. The poor guy.
Then we had fun playing and visiting some more at the house, and Angelfish and I played on the playground in their neighborhood a little bit before dinner.
The cold I had was definitely bad at this point... to the point that my Aunt (a retired nurse) told me I did not sound overly healthy. After a bit we headed back to Seattle, stopping at Dairy Queen for a morning blizzard (Mr. Darcy's idea). We headed to the Pacific Science Center only to discover that it is closed on Tuesdays. It was raining at this point, so we didn't get to the Olympic Sculpture Park or the Ballard Lochs either. It just gives us a good excuse to go back at some point!
We checked into our hotel and Mr. Darcy returned the rental car and set up our town car for the morning ride to the airport. The girls and I rested and colored in their coloring books. Then we decided to go to Top Pot for coffee and donuts, which the girls loved (although they had milk - no coffee to stunt their growth!) and we enjoyed as well. Then we went to the Seattle Glassblowing. We held the girls the entire time even though they assured us that "glass breaks. You won't have to pay for anything if they break it." A few artists were making some blown pieces so we got to watch that for a bit. The girls (and we) were enthralled. Mr. Darcy and I liked the pieces so much that we ended up buying a small vase - purple with some blue overlay that I'm not sure how to describe, but it looks great on the mantle in our family room! It took us some time to do choose a piece while one of us would play outside with the girls (who would hoot at the monorail every time it went by and were playing in their make believe world again and locked me up in the "dungemon" for some reason or another), but we eventually agreed on a piece.
Back to the hotel for more coloring and resting because at this point I was feeling pretty badly. Mr. Darcy went to the deli across the street and got us soup and sandwiches for dinner, we watched Madagascar on the portable DVD player that Mr. Darcy hooked up to the big screen tv in our hotel room, and then went to sleep.
We were up early and ready to go. Headed to the airport and got there in plenty of time for our first flight of the day and played a bit in the airport with the girls. Once in Dallas, we played some more and had lunch. We had a 3 hour layover and all I wanted to do was sleep. My head was killing me, I was coughing, etc. Mr. Darcy took the Little Ladies to the bookshop and read some kids books so I could at least rest a little bit. After finding some Dayquil, I got a very minor amount of relief until our flight (which was delayed because of a malfunctioning autopilot system) left. The pressure in my ears and those of the girls and Mr. Darcy was pretty bad on this flight. Gum helped a little bit, but my right ear in particular was really bad. Poor Angelfish at one point woke up with really bad ear pain but was still asleep enough that we couldn't get her to chew gum or eat anything. Finally her ears popped and she fell back asleep.
Finally we were back in Orlando, off the plane, and at our car. The girls had been talking about how they wanted to go see their friends at school and how they missed their friends and school, so I think our trip may have been 1 day too long for them. But they were still troopers and traveled amazingly well and they seemed to have fun with us. I know we did with them!
So, as I mentioned I got sick on our trip. Turns out that whatever Ladybug gave me (which she is completely over) took a good hold of me and turned itself into bronchitis and an upper respiratory infection. My doctor (who I saw Thursday during my lunch break) said she is absolutely amazed that my right eardrum didn't rupture because it is just that swollen up. She's put me on an inhaler, decongestants, a prescription cough syrup, and antibiotics and ordered me to stay in bed and not work on Friday. After work today I pretty much got into bed and slept. Mr. Darcy picked the girls up from daycare and fed me soup. The girls kept me company while I ate and told me about their days. You'll all be happy to know that Ryan is still Ladybug's boyfriend even though she was gone "so long." The girl cracks me up!
More sleep and then waking because I was coughing so hard... thus the blog entry. We have yet to download our pictures since we got home around 1 am last night and then had work today, but I hope to update you all with pictures soon!