For the first time in two years my family of four was able to get over to the Mainland to visit with my sister and mom and their families for a couple of days over the long weekend.
As if wanting to see my family after two years away due to the pandemic wasn’t a good enough reason to go, we’d actually sort of waited for an ‘excuse’ to go over.
My husband wanted to attend a coaching clinic across the water and there was also a concert he wanted to see so we said let’s just do it and made our plans, ferry reservations and all.
Of course the coaching clinic ultimately didn’t have any spaces left by the time he went to register but he still had a concert ticket and we had our ferries booked so we opted to go anyway.
One of the tricky parts of being away for so long was that the children haven’t had the opportunity to have much time with their grandparents who live on that side. So, the plan had been to drop my husband at his coaching clinic and the kids off with my folks for the day and I’d hang out with my sister.
That of course fell through, but not wanting to ruin everyone’s plans, my husband and I opted to drive the kids to downtown Vancouver and drop them off at the aquarium with their grandparents for an outing, just the four of them. My husband and I would putter around town until they were done, then we’d drop him off at his concert and I’d take the kids back to my sister’s house where we were staying.
It was the busiest I’ve ever seen it in Stanley Park. The traffic was crazy. It was the Saturday and it was sunny and just a bit windy in Vancouver.
Anyway, after we got the kids all sorted with their cousin and Grammy and Gramps, we tried to manoeuvre our way out of the park, which was bumper-to-bumper with vehicles. We weren’t in a hurry. We didn’t have any plans and actually didn’t know what we were going to do anyway.
“I feel like if a parking spot opens up it’s almost our obligation to take it given how in-demand they are,” I said to my husband, half joking, half seriously.
He actually agreed and lo and behold a few minutes later somebody pulled out just ahead of us and we were able to pull in at a really good location.
I turned off the car and looked over at him and said, “well now what?”
“I guess we get out and walk?” he replied.
It turned out to be the best date we’ve had in years.
My husband gallantly plugged his VISA into the parking machine and paid the $7.50 and off we went, wandering around Stanley Park.
We stopped and read the plaques near or under every statue (including but not limited to the mermaid lady on the giant rock that’s not actually a mermaid but a woman in a wet suit, and the Robert Burns, Lord Stanley and Victoria the Good statues as well.
We spotted three types of ducks in a pond, including a wood duck, one my bird-watching husband hadn’t ever seen before. We listened to a woman play the Chinese harp for a while trying to figure out what the instrument was until we just gave up and asked her.
We watched a man with his earbuds in his ears sing very loudly while he was very awkwardly and not-very-successfully climbing a tree alongside one of the walking paths, oblivious to the world around him.
We saw the lighthouse and the 9 p.m. canon and the miniature train and the Brocton Point totem poles as we strode the SeaWall. We read the prices on the sign showing how much it cost to ride the horse drawn carriage through the park and then for the rest of the walk every time we saw one, we tried to estimate how much money the operators were making at $50 a head for the hour’s journey.
I wanted to see how close I could get to a goose before it attacked me or ran away and I think I did pretty well.
We also saw a wedding and a great many rented out tandem bicycles and motorized scooters. We even saw social media influencers in the wild at the Malkin Bowl, doing some type of interpretive dance for their smart phone and then rushing over to the phone to check on how it looked.
It was a great hour-and-a-half spent away from our phones, away from our children, just the two of us, talking and walking about six kilometres and seeing the sights in a town we already knew pretty well.
All for $7.50.
That was, until we stopped at one of the park’s concessions for a couple sodas.
Of course that more than doubled our date’s expenditures, costing us an extra $8.41.
It just goes to show it’s good to be flexible in your plans. You never know when what you end up doing may well be better than what you’d planned originally.
It also goes to show that you should always pack your own drinks.