The family in the minivan left IKEA Richmond well after 4 PM, with flat boxes standing up inside the van, and bungee-corded snugly to the roof racks. Would they make the 5 PM sailing?! Not so, judging by the Hwy 99 backup, that stretched all the way up the ramp and onto Hwy 91 westbound. Argh!
Hopes for the 5 PM sailing were dimming, and that stout flat box on the roof was getting drenched in rain! What if the packing tape unglued, releasing the (metal!) flat box contents all over the highway?! Oh the horror!
Luckily our intrepid travelers zig-zagged onto the HOV lane on Hwy 99 southbound, took counterflow through the Massey Tunnel, and bombed under the BC Ferry travel advisory sign on Hwy 17, which menacingly declared “5 PM – POSSIBLE WAIT”.
The driver’s heart was gripped with panic as hydro-planing opportunities presented themselves on the Causeway. What did that road sign say?
Please ignore the posted speed limit if you’re rushing for the ferry!
Weaving around commercial trucks on the way through the final traffic light, the driver’s spirit leapt with joy upon spotting an open lane at the fare booth, inviting travelers to VICTORIA. Without fumbling any of the point-of-sale handoffs, fare payment was completed in record time, and the minivan was directed to LANE 42.
Which is where the agonizing wait began.
Lanes 43 and 44 were already loading the Coastal class vessel! Each of those vehicles appeared to wink back at our hopeful travelers as they confidently drove up the ramp, and onto the waiting vessel.
With the motor still running, the panicking voyagers strained for hope as the upper deck filled to capacity – from their position well back in Lane 42, they could see the car counter tick annoyingly toward the capacity limit for the Coastal Celebration.
There was clearly no reason to Celebrate as several BC Ferry commercial fleet vehicles then dragged 4 large semi-trailers into position to board the vessel. Our travelers watched in horror as the last possible free spaces on the lower deck must have been consumed by 18-wheelers stacking themselves onto the deck.
A proud union worker then walked slowly over to the bottom of the upper car deck ramp and dutifully closed the gate.
Our travelers looked sadly over at the Tsawwassen Quay market, wondering if pizza slices and gelato would soon be in their disappointed grips.
As the clock ticked closer to 5:00 PM, all hope had been drained from our travelers’ well.
Resigned to their 1-sailing wait, our driver reached for the keys, to turn off the ignition – but then noticed a flashing light at the head of Lane 42!!
Could it be!?!? A ferry worker waving their safety lantern to usher a few more cars onto the waiting vessel! 1 car, 2 cars, 3 cars, 4 more cars, and the lane kept moving….the lantern kept waving…..the minivan slowly accelerated, and confidently mounted the speed humps on the way down Lane 42, getting ever closer to the ultimate coastal glory – becoming the LAST CAR to board a waiting ferry!
On this rainy evening, all vehicles waiting in Lane 42 were invited aboard the vessel, to enjoy the many services aboard!
On deck 6, the Coastal Cafe lineup would soon include our relieved ferry travelers!
And back down on deck 2, a very wet box would receive respite from the rain, during the 95 minute voyage to Swartz Bay.
We like to get the kids out first thing in the AM, before it gets too hot. Charlotte has a friend she met down at Dinosaur Caves park this week, so we went down there to play around 9 AM.
A quick trip down to Arroyo Grande this PM to shop at Von’s – yes, we shop daily in these parts. We went out later on with the kids to Spyglass Park to play on the pirate ship there. They ended up in a (California) gold-mining role-play with the sand and the stand-up shower unit down there – good times panning for gold nuggets in that thar playground sand.
I peeked over the cliff edge, and could see one surfer was out on St Ann’s break. Follow the link in the image to a description of this surf spot. There is not much swell right now, but he got a few rides so that was fun to watch. I have not been out on the waves yet….
We tour several playgrounds when we are here. After the morning jaunt at the Dinosaur Caves, we came home for a spontaneous outbreak of “family band”. That’s right – grab an instrument and jam! We had bottles, pie plates, the cooler, and various other noise-makers going on in the side-yard, next to the fuschia garden. Good thing I made a few voice memos on the spot so we could enjoy that round later.
We then when into San Luis Obispo to do some shopping, and then have a play-session at Mitchell Park. Huge fun there, with some other local kids in a round of something like “good guys or bad guys”.
Returned home in the PM to cook up family-dinner, then get ready for story-time, and lights-out….
The solstice approaches….
We’re off to do the things we usually do as part-time residents of Shell Beach. Hit the local coffee shop, and go to Dinosaur Caves Park to play in the morning. After coming home for a break, we hit New Frontiers Market to get our groceries and supplies. Somewhere along the way, we’ll grab waters and other beverages to quench the thirst, then return to Shell Beach to relax.
Took the road west out of Tracy, CA this morning, and drove through this neat windmill farm on the way to the Bay Area.
We took route 505 west, and then went down south past Gilroy, heading for Salinas, and the 101 route south.
We’d driven hundreds of miles through farmland, ranch territory, and wine country, and the kids were really looking forward to getting off the road.
If you’ve driven south on the 101 past San Luis Obispo, you know that you get the first glimpse of the ocean just past the Avila Beach Road exit, just over the crest of that hill.
We told the kids that we’d play a fun game as we crested the hill – first one to glimpse the ocean could shout it out. I watched in the rear-view mirror as they were both peeping wide-eyed through the front window, looking so expectantly for that wide-open ocean, marking the end of the long road-trip.
Right after the Pacific was spotted, we took the first exit, and landed at our destination, in Shell Beach, CA.
Left Yreka, CA in full sun this morning, with kids very eager to reach destination. We had lots of discussion today about how far the trip was in miles, and how long that would take.
Are we there yet ?
Many teachable moments along the way including looking at the road-signs, and seeing how many miles to the target, and then checking our average speed to see how long it might take to get there.
Travel to our destination definitely takes longer in practice.
We made a playground stop in Stockton, before calling it a day in Tracy, CA.
I have fond memories of the last visit to Tracy, when I found this Indian sweet shop at the edge of town, and grabbed a box of sweets for the trip north. This time, I ordered us a 24″ pizza from Milano’s and GADZOOKS that was a massive meal. Got quite sleepy after that, so no trip out for sweets….
Was kind of nice to be pulling out of East Vancouver this morning, taking a different route south over the Columbia River than in the past.
We were on the 205 southbound, so headed through a different stretch of freeway than usual. Soon it was on to the I-5, and more familiar stretches of asphalt.
Made a great stop in Cottage Grove. As in the past, Cottage Grove always has a pleasant surprise or too. This time, I spied an espresso trailer on the main strip into the downtown area, so did a U-turn to double-back and take decisive action on ordering a coffee or two. Well, not so fast Coreman.
The view from the road concealed the rather extensive menu of items that they offered, posted near the back patio. Milkshakes, smoothies, and all sorts of different coffee drinks were on tap. Huh! Well, the kids sorted their way into a 16 oz. milkshake split into 2 cups, and I teed up a coffee of some sort – and we were only having a wee bit of drama on their front-patio assembling that order. You see, splitting 1 big drink into 2 is apparently too much like sharing. *ahem*. Anyhoo, all was going well until it came time to pay. Too bad I failed to notice the little sign politely advising that they accept CASH only. You can imagine my surprise when the owner there offered me the drinks on the house, as she could see I was only packing plastic!
Anyhoo – it all worked out. I dug up 2 $1 American coins, and a $5 Canuck bill that I assured her the bank would take roughly at par.
Back on the freeway, with more adventures to come…..we landed in Rogue River, had a pizza, then got back on the road, landing in Yreka, CA soon after.
Just spent a week in Austin, Texas on a business trip, that I might also describe as a teaching and learning trip. I was down at SailPoint, learning all about their enterprise identity management product called IdentityIQ. That whole trip deserves a blog of it’s own, so I’ll focus here on the family-vacation.
The flight back from the USA went fairly smooth : AUS to SFO to YYJ. The transfer in San Francisco was a little tight, with only 40 minutes between landing and take-off. My bags made it, and so did I, into YYJ at 11:40 PM or so. Shared a cab into downtown, so home shortly after midnight.
Just enough time to put on some laundry, and re-pack the bags. Also did some household chores, and hit the sack at 3:30 AM or so.
Managed to rise about 5:30 AM to put the dog out, and then decided to stay up and keep packing. Oh yah, needed a trip to the bank downtown, and the grocery store for last minute pickups. Not feeling too bad after that nap, but I’m sure it would catch up with me later.
Managed to pack the fam into the van, and arrive at the COHO dock around 9:20 AM to secure our reservation. Full-on sunshine for the trip south, and we spent most of the voyage on the outer-decks running up and down the length of the ship. Kids with beans for sure.
Quick stop in Port Angeles for groceries, then a gas-up just past Sequim. The usual stop at Hoodsport Coffee for ice creams, and americano. I see they have a sign in their window : Thinking of Retirement – Business for Sale.
We ended up in Vancouver, WA, slightly east of downtown at the Best Western. The indoor pool and hot-tub did the trick for an hour or so after we landed.
The fatigue never really caught up with me, and we had a pretty good trip down the 101 and the I-5. Onward, and southward tomorrow!
Thanks to the gang at radioparadise.com, I recently made a trip to Italy, and have made it back to Victoria safe and sound.
I’m a believer in listener-supported radio, so I support radioparadise, monthly. With a small electronic cash transfer, from my vault to theirs. That helps them pay the bills, and provide a top-tier Internet streaming radio experience.
Among the many cool things about the station is that they hold prize draws for their supporting listeners. And they have awesome prizes, like the AUX Box speaker system. In the April/2011 monthly prize draw, I won the AUX speakers. The extra-special value-add to the prize was the trip to Northern Italy to go and pick up the speakers!
I’m just now getting the media offloaded from the various devices, and have now got a few pics to share, like the one here of the Milan Cathedral.
I’ve never been to Europe before, so going to Italy was quite an amazing experience. I’ll try to get some more pics up here, to share a bit of the adventure.
My relationship with radio goes back a ways. I ‘d say I’ve been plugged into radio for most of my life, having grown up on AM-talk radio with Mom. And FM-rock radio with Dad. Radio has always been around, in the background, or the foreground. In the house, in the car, and at work. I’ve got lots of really great radio-listening experiences that I remember, because they made me feel something. And I did a bit of radio in the 90s, the Perpetual Motion radio show – on CFUV. 1 solid hour of techno, trance, ambient, and house. With live, spinning vinyl. We were right after the reggae show, and before the rappers came in to take charge. These days I do Internet streaming radio all the time. I’ve got my favourite stations, and I support 3 of them with cash donations.
So I’m over in Italy reflecting on how the trip all came together. Quite a huge win, I must admit. I decided that I’ve always been on the lookout for unique radio experiences. Experiences that are vivid, and that really capture you. radioparadise.com is more than just a unique listening experience…