Sunday, November 21, 2010

A run for the (northern) border

Saturday, we hit the road to head up to Canada for the night. We do day trips up pretty often, but decided to make a night of it to celebrate my birthday.

We spent the morning cleaning house while rocking out to some music, because it's always nice to come home from a trip and just unwind in a clean house. The music makes the time go faster and the kids think something super fun is going on and can't wait to get in on it.

Case in point? Ava: "Can I have a towel so I can clean?"
Me: "Absolutely! Here's a spray bottle, gloves and towels. I already swept. Can you do those spots on the floor while I do the bathroom and I'm mop when you're done?"
Ava: "Sure! I'm helping! I can do it myself!"

Yes you are and yes you do. Next up? Getting her brother in the act. Once he's walking, we should be able to get him in on the dryer unloading, as we did with Ava back when she was just over one.

So, with the cleaning out of the way, we hit the road and discovered snow-dusted roads north of Bellingham. I was not prepared for this. I didn't even bother to check the weather report. I just always assume it will be 40-55 degrees and I will be cold. I dress and pack accordingly. I was not expecting temperatures in the 20s-30s. Still, my standard layering protocol was sufficient for me and the kids and I figured we could always buy anything critical that we might need, because if anyone has cold weather gear, it's Canadians.

The drive was lovely, leisurely and provided the usual great conversation and laughs. More than once, Ava started giggling, unsure of what we were laughing so hard about but wanting in on the fun. She and Dylan both alternated sleeping and staring out the window at the snow-dusted scenery. They have their moments, but in general, they're awesome travelers for the 3 hour or so trip.

We arrived in Vancouver to find frigid temperatures, but a cold, clear night. After getting settled in our hotel, we stretched our legs then bundled the kids up in the stroller and hit Robson Street for a little early-evening shopping.

As usual, J. found two excellent pairs of boots with ridiculous sale prices. Honestly, the guy could be blindfolded and dropped in any country in the world and within 30 minute find the most stylish clothing available on clearance. Fortunately, I enlisted him to put his bizarre gift to work for me this trip, with some success.

But I went looking specifically for boots and came home sorely disappointed. Part of my problem is that I basically despise almost all the women's shoes we saw because they're either ridiculously priced or this bizarre porn star chic style that seems all the craze. I mean honestly, I love a 2"-4" heel, but the 6" platform stiletto? All of them? Really? That's what all the women are clamoring for? C'mon designers, stop already.

I know the platform means it's only a 2" - 4" feel, but get real. I'm often traipsing about with two toddlers. Those make about as much sense for me at this stage of my life as wearing anything Lady Gaga has ever worn. I could do it. But it wouldn't be pretty or practical: two things that are essential these days.

Finally, as the kids' witching hours approached, we headed back towards the hotel in search of dinner. We spotted two possible restaurants but they were above the street up steep flights of stairs with no elevators in sight. With a double stroller to manage, J. said, "There's got to be an elevator." I asked, but no dice. "Maybe that's why it's not called the Canadians with Disabilities Act," I offered, referring to the ADA, which has made wheelchair and other access standard in the states. Curb cuts and elevators are so de rigeur in the states, it was hard to believe there was no wheeled access to those places.

I saw another likely spot a block away. Squinting towards the sign, I asked, "Think that one's kid-friendly?" J.: "Nope: there's a Bentley in front." True dat.

We kept walking and finally found a spot called Joey's just off Robson. Although it definitely had a hipster, black-clad everyone and none-of-the-loins-on-these-premises-have-ever-birthed-offspring (at least none that I know about)-vibe. But the staff was totally welcoming, gave us a great booth overlooking the action in the kitchen through a window next to our table (the chefs and waitstaff played peekaboo with Dylan as they walked by on the other side) and even let us park the stroller behind the check in desk.

The entryway featured this see-through wine rack room divider, which, though cool, only made me think, "That would be awesome for displaying shoes." At last count, J. has more than 80 pairs of sneakers. Yes, really. I think we've found a solution to his storage problem.

The food rocked, but we had to finally get it to go when the meltdowns started. It was past nine though, so we were far from surprised and had just been pushing our luck, along with the stroller. Back in our room we fueled up and turned in to rest up for round two the next morning.

We found a great breakfast spot where Dylan snuck food off Jason's plate while his sister distracted him...

After more window shopping than actual shopping with Dylan fast asleep as we wheeled the stroller through malls and down Robson, we found a nice outfit for me and finally hit the road back to the good old U.S.A. in the early evening.

All in all, it was another lovely Canadian getway and a nice low-key, laugh- and family-filled birthday weekend.

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