Sometime in 2016, Sarah and I began planning a tropical December getaway in Mexico with our friends Chris and Claire. Unfortunately, the zika virus spread into Mexico, and we decided to change plans since we were hoping to get pregnant. Since nearly every warm, tropical location was at risk for zika, we made plans to head north instead and visit British Columbia during my birthday week. Though the frigid, snowy days in Canada were vastly different from our original plans of sipping on tiny-umbrella drinks in Cancun, we had an incredible time. In August we found out Sarah was pregnant and this trip turned into something of a babymoon for us, our last international trip before becoming parents.
After a brief overnight in Seattle with our friends Austin & Kaytee, we crossed the border and got to Vancouver just as the snow was starting lightly coat the ground.
During our time in Vancouver, we stayed in the back unit of a beautiful home right off Commercial Drive.
The trip took place when Sarah was about 20 weeks pregnant, just about the time Sarah’s belly started to show a bit.
The trusty rental, ready for its daily scraping.
Our first day in Vancouver was packed with activities. Our first item was to drive through Stanley Park and stop at some of the viewpoints on the waterfront. When planning the trip we were hoping for better weather and planned on renting bikes to ride through the park, but Mother Nature wasn’t having it. Nevertheless we enjoyed the seeing the park covered in snow and the beautiful views of the harbor and the bay.
We did our best to prepare for the cold weather but it was still a bit of a shock to us.
With the average age of our cars clocking in at 14 years old, Sarah and I both really enjoyed spending a week driving around in a brand new rental car. It’s the little things…
After hanging out in the park for a while we decided to visit the aquarium. One of our favorite parts was the jellyfish exhibit.
After the aquarium, we stopped by Granville Island Public Market.
That evening we visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which quickly became one of our favorite stops of the whole trip.
The main attraction is the 450′ bridge stretching 230′ above the Capilano River, but there are also many smaller bridges and platforms throughout the trees on the far side of the river. The thrill of walking far above the river and high in the trees was made even better by the addition of Christmas lights throughout the park.
We stayed long after sunset and watched as the lights became brighter and clearer and the night grew colder in the misty canyon.
After visiting the bridge we ended our long day with dinner in Gastown at Tuc where I enjoyed the best ribeye steak of my life.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at a great coffee shop recommended by a friend.
After breakfast, we did some shopping and exploring on Main Street where we bought a cute little rattle for the baby and enjoyed some delicious poutine for lunch. Throughout our trip we fell in love with poutine and tried it at as many places as we could.
Later, we wandered through a snowy park, watching the ducks sit on their frozen pond.
The following morning we left Vancouver and drove to the ferry landing to make the crossing to Victoria.
All the cars line up and wait until the ferry is ready for loading. Then, all at once, everyone drives aboard, parks their cars, and heads inside the ferry.
The weather was clear enough to afford some stunning, wide views of the straight.
As we approached the far side of the straight, the ferry passed through a narrow channel and we enjoyed the views of the waterfront cabins and houses.
After unloading from the ferry on Vancouver Island, we made the drive the Victoria, checked into our Airbnb apartment in Chinatown, and walked to Jam for brunch. One of the cool details about Victoria was the narrow alleys between the buildings in Chinatown.
Later we wandered through downtown, along the waterfront by the Empress Hotel and Parliament building.
The small town of Victoria showed great Christmas cheer. One hotel in Victoria was hosting a gingerbread house competition. We were amazed by the intricate details and the craftsmanship that went into each of the entries.
The view from our apartment balcony.
Our apartment was located in the small Chinatown area of Victoria.
This was the trip of bump-pics. Since Sarah was just starting to show, we couldn’t help ourselves from taking pictures at every stop. Looking back now we laugh at how small her belly was back then compared to now, two weeks away from her due date.
Another hotel was having a Christmas bear competition in their lobby.
We ventured to Fisherman’s Wharf. Unfortunately the area was mostly closed for the season but we did meet a friendly seal!
The next day we visited the Butchart Gardens. Unfortunately most of the plants in the garden were not in bloom, but the Japanese garden was green and lush and magical.
We walked through the Japanese garden to a lookout point on the water just as the sunset began to paint the sky.
During Christmastime, they build elaborate exhibits of each of the 12 Days of Christmas, and we had a good time searching for each one.
As evening fell, the lights really started to come alive and carolers began singing.
The next day we made the long drive to our final stop of the trip, Tofino, where we would spend my birthday. The 4 hour drive was a bit stressful as we were nervous about getting stopped for not having winter tires on our rental car, an all winter long requirement on the roads between Victoria and Tofino. Fortunately there weren’t any checkpoints and we made it to the small surf town with no issues.
Our hotel in Tofino was right on the beach, with incredible views of the waterfront.
That evening we wandered around the beach as the sun set.
With its fireplace, ocean views, gigantic tub, and incredible bed, this place was one of our favorite hotels we’ve ever been to.
The next morning was my birthday, and we enjoyed a slow morning in our room and ordered room service.
After breakfast we went for a long beach walk.
I was impressed to see someone out paddle boarding in the frigid water.
Later, we went into town for lunch and massages.
The next morning we couldn’t resist getting room service one more time before beginning the long journey homeward.
Before leaving, we took another long look at the sea and hoped we make it back here again someday.
We spent that day driving back towards Victoria where we spent the night at a cheap hotel downtown with a noisy heater and I ate a strange plate of quinoa and shrimp. Fortunately for me, Sarah couldn’t stomach her burger which I enjoyed thoroughly. The next morning, we took the early ferry back to Vancouver, enjoying one last order of poutine on board. We then made the drive back to Seattle and enjoyed another evening with Austin & Kaytee who treated us to the most delicious cake of our lives at a local pizza joint.
It was an incredible last hurrah before parenthood, and now we’re ready and eager to meet baby Harper in the coming weeks!
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