Thursday, November 05, 2009

I suppose I should say something about Canada

A year ago, for pastor appreciation month, our church gave me a gift certificate to the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, up in the great white north of British Columbia, Canada. We finally found a couple free days to use that gift certificate last week, so with the kids safely at home watched over by their grandparents, we I hopped into the trusty Kia and took off for foreign lands.

Except for a lunch stop at a vegan coffee shop in Seattle's U-District. And another stop at REI in Bellingham to pick up some hiking boots. But, with those out of the way, we headed off to foreign lands.

Apparently, U2 had the same idea, and were playing in Vancouver the same night, so there was a little backup at the border. But let's just say we were thankful to cross at Sumas, rather than Blaine, and probably got across 30 minutes quicker.

Then, off through the fields and foothills of B.C., across the Fraser River, along foggy mountains dappled with the colors of autumn, and finally we arrived at the town of Harrison Hot Springs.

Lovely words to hear: "You've been upgraded to a room overlooking the garden."

A quick dinner in town and some TV watching, and a blissful night's sleep, then breakfast in the Lakeside Terrace - a delicious and nutritious breakfast buffet with everything from Eggs Benedict to Back Bacon to oatmeal to an assortment of fruits and sausages.

Then we hopped in the Kia and drove east to the town of Hope (fill in all the assorted jokes here, like "We were lost but then we found Hope," and "There's always Hope in Canada"). Turns out Hope is where the first Rambo movie was filmed. And they're still very proud of that fact. However, our attention was attuned to the Othello Tunnels, an abandoned railroad line turned hiking trail, complete with four tunnels and a series of bridges over a river crashing through the deep cut of a granite canyon. It was a lovely walk, the perfect crisp fall day, beautiful scenic vistas (there was snow falling in the mountains a few hundred feet above us), grottoes with overhanging mossy branches, the ground a blanket of fallen leaves. And the added interest of tunnels and trestles made for a wonderful jaunt, reminding us of days pre-children when we loved to roam the hills and vales near home.

Back to Hope to do a bit of shopping, then lunch at the homey Skinny's Cafe, and it was time to head back to Harrison. There were some hot springs awaiting.

The resort has a series of pools and hot tubs - a couple indoor, and a couple outdoor. We began in the hottest pool inside, but eventually made our way outside, where we sat in a Japanese-motifed hot pool, mist rising from the surface to blend with the gentle fall of rain, cold droplets dripping down from cedar branches overhead, the warmth of the water over our bodies offset by the cool air blowing into our faces. It was magical. . .until one of the other guests decided it would be a nice time for a smoke. Which basically ruined the idea of being out in fresh air. . .but we were thinking about dinner, anyway, so time to head in.

Dinner was at the Copper Room, a dining room reminiscent of swank dinner-and-dance clubs of the 1920s. They even have a dress code. The room was darkly lit, complete with a dance floor headed by a stage upon which the Jones Boys play 5 nights a week. Our food was fabulous (prime rib, oysters, a tomato salad, among other things), and the band was entertaining, playing a mix of hits from Glenn Miller all the way up to Michael Buble, with some Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, and Elvis thrown in for good measure. They were just cheesy enough to keep it fun, but talented enough to pull multiple couples onto the dance floor. In the room sat many couples celebrating anniversaries, a couple engaged that night, a couple married 5 days previously. Next to us sat 4 ladies from the Vancouver Theater crowd, friends for the last 40 some years. Dinner was kept to a leisurely pace, so we all had a chance to enjoy the music, the atmosphere, the dancing. The Dessert.

Back to the room to watch some TV, then another relaxing night's sleep, breakfast buffet at the Lakeside Terrace, and then it was time to check out and head home.

But first, a stop at Tim Horton's in Abbotsford, so I could get a cup of coffee and Karina could experience the joy that is Tim's.

They let us back into the U.S. without much hassle.

A stop in Fairhaven at a snooty little cheese shop gave us the sustenance we needed to tackle Chuckanut Drive, one of the more scenic highways in the state of Washington. At the south end we happened upon a buffalo farm, and stopped to buy some buffalo meat, as well as take some pictures of said buffalo. They didn't seem to mind.

To extend things a bit we took the ferry across from Edmonds to Kingston, then finally were back home to awaiting kids, who greeted us with warmth and affection and "where's my present!!!!!"

All in all, a good trip. And one more reason to be thankful for this wonderful church that gives us gifts like this. And a wonderful reminder that there is life apart from kids, after all.

Oh, and we discovered the Olympics are coming to B.C. in another couple months. Who knew?

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