TLDR || Khaleesi turned 2. Our kids get extravaganza weeks for their birthdays, and we bought a new van. So north we went on a road trip. We spent some days on the road starting in Bellingham, followed by Vancouver then Whistler, Kamloops, Penticton and eventually made it home.
Day 1 – Bellingham
I woke up from a bad dream around 5:30 to the sound of momma snoring and the uncomfortable feeling of Khaleesi’s feet bouncing on my face. The Dream was about fighting with a parking attendant to get out of a parking lot, traffic forced me to drive into. They were going to give me a break then they worked out I somehow owed them 20,000$ in backed bills from one time I did not pay to park 10 years ago. That’s when I woke up.
Maddex normally comes down and wakes either momma or I up in the morning to snuggle, or to ask if he can watch TV. Figured it was time to return the favour of him waking me up, so I snuck into his room and crawled into bed with him. I was excited to wake him up like he wakes me up; Nope. He says, totally chill like no big deal at all, “ hey dad, can I help you?” The little shit was ready for me and spoiled all of my fun. Oh well. After my let down, we climbed down the ladder, made our way to couch bed, and watched How it’s made on YouTube for a bit. We watched TV until the rest of the Millfam6 woke up. We had some snacks, finished loading the car, and headed out.
Examples of the kids all loaded into the car at a few of our first few stops.
First stop on our Khaleesi birthday extravaganza grand adventure was the library in Gig Harbour to return some books followed by Safeway to purchase some fuel. We made it about 80 miles until we were a bit north of Seattle before our next stop to use a washroom; Simple rest stop. The kids and I climbed some trees at the rest stop then we walked inside some 1000-year-old massive tree stump. The kids are doing amazing in the Van. Pretty gosh darn impressive performance on their parts. We let them each pack a clear plastic bin with toys, bring a blanket, stuffed animal, some books, and a pillow. We Packed some Lego sets and other bits to hand out along the way as they needed more entertaining.
Maddex climbing between some trees
Tried to get a family picture here – not did not happen.
We roll with No screens in the car for the kids. For entertainment, the MillFam kids build Legos and do word searches, read books, colour, play games ETC. The big entertainment we all share is listening to a book. For this trip, we are listening to the first Harry Potter book. Both Maddex and Mila are totally into the book, asking to listen to it longer, and wondering what is going to happen next. When we hit Bellingham, we stopped about where Harry keeps getting more and more letters and is not allowed to open them. While hiking up to Fragrance Lake we were talking to the kids about the book and asked them what they think the letters might be able. Maddex guessed it must have something to do with Magic school. Asked him why he was thinking that and he said Dudley was about to go to school and you(Me, dad) told me Harry is a wizard.
Walking on a pier
Smart kiddo there – On the drive towards to Bellingham I was texting a co-worker, Sean, asking where we wanted to go. Sean lived there, and we are planning on the fly. Sean suggested Larrabee Park for a hike and Keenan’s for lunch. We drove to the pier near the restaurant and went for a walk on a long pier walk way and spent some time at a park and the beach instead of Kennans. At the end of the pier a Train passed by a few feet from us and Maddex freaked out a bit covered his ears and increasing his distance. Mila and K did not appear bothered by the train at all. Momma wanted pizza and the internet told us there was a place near our hotel. On the way to the hotel we worked out the pizza place we were headed too was out of business.
Kids watching the train from a safe distance to make Maddex happy
Fragrance Lake hike
We ended up at a sit-down pizza hut next to the hotel for lunch. Checked into the hotel quick like and carried on to Larrabee park. The hike was great. 2 miles or so to the lake, ¾ mile around the lake with a stop for a wade in the waters of fragrance lake and snacks, then 2 miles back down the hill. K walked the first ½ mile up the hill then we talked her into climbing into the back pack. Maddex and Mila walked the entire time without slowing down or complaining; Impressive work kids. Along the way Mila started pointing out cedar tree’s then Maddex called out a Fir, then we looked for Maple trees. A few weeks ago, I showed them some tree types on another walk and then it was never mentioned again until today. Shocked and impressed me when they brought it up and wanted to learn more. Guess they do pay attention to me when I randomly teach.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped in at a Haggins for veggies and fruit and cheese and popcorn for dinner; kid’s choice. Time in the pool food, books, a show then bed time. Momma is now looking for hotels for tomorrow and I am typing trip report things up sitting in a chair because our sketch hotel comes with like no pillows at all, and It was not comfy in the bed for me sitting up without pillows. Haggins was stupid costly for food. Felt like we were shopping at whole foods. A pound of grapes cost more than 5 pounds what they cost at Costco – sad face; lesson learned. – lights out sleepy time kev go night night.
Day 2 – Vancouver
Day 2 – Maddex was up at 4am snuggling next to me in bed. On the other side of me near the back of my head were Khaleesi’s feet followed by moms arm protecting Roxi’s head. In the king at home we would have enough room for the night time terrorist invasion. In a smaller hotel bed it was far from comfy. After being asked, Maddex meandered back to his bed for an hour or so before I gave him my laptop to watch transformers until the rest of the family woke up. Hotel pool was out doors and it was not warm out, nor did the pool have warm water, so we skipped the morning swim and went in for breakfast. Hotel was pretty sketch, so was the breakfast. We managed some Yogurt and waffles, loaded the car and headed north for the border.
Border crossing was quick, only one car in the queue in front of us, and not much at all for questions from the border guard. He did ask about Michelle’s concealed carry permit. She was not packing so Mr nice guy Canadian border guy did not care much at all. From the boarder we stopped for some Tim bits second exit north where we discovered the #SoCandian Hashtag we’re going to use as a theme for the rest of the trip. – mmmm TIMBITS.. Next stop, Stanley park for a walk on the water front. We parked at the second large car park after entering the park and walked along the water until we made it to the spray park. The kids ran around for a bit in the dry spray park until someone hit the button for us and turned it on – we had no clue there was a button.
The day was pretty overcast and not warm, so we pulled the kids out of the water and used the kid drying to warm them up. From the spray park we cut through the middle of the park back towards our car. According to the map there were two kids play areas on the way. We stopped at both of them and let the kids swing and slide and play. Sure do enjoy when the simple free things entertain the kids and provide them with fun.
The kids play parks were fun. One had some tall spikes on top and the other was more for little kids. We had more fun at the spikey park.
Lonsdale Quay Terminal
From Stanley park we drove a bit east to the Lonsdale Quay famers market wharf thing and had lunch. Thai for me and K, burgers and nuggets and fries for the rest of the family. Lunch was consumed outdoors near the Attessa III yacht which looked pretty. We did not linger long because the kids were starting to wear down and we wanted to try to nap them in our hotel room before heading out for any more adventures. I don’t think any good came from the attempt at naps. Things feel apart from the start. Khaleesi ended up with momma’s wallet at check in and put all of her cards into the travel brochure thing in the lobby. We might have all of Michelle’s cards back we are not sure which ones she had. While that was happening Roxi was falling apart in the van with me. In the room most everyone fell apart.
In the hotel room Maddex and Mila were both tired and fighting it so they jumped around and tormented each other until they were both crying. K was crying and Roxi was screaming. I might have lost it and took Roxi for a walk around the block to get away from the crying and try to calm Roxi. Then Maddex and I went for a walk to explore the area. The pool was not very warm, and again it was out doors. Doesn’t it snow here in the winter? Lame. No pool time at this hotel I guess. Maybe the next one will be indoors? After a few hours of kids falling the F apart in our hotel room we went back out to find another beach and some hiking at WhyteCliff Park.
WhyteCliff park is about 10 miles west of where we are staying on some brilliant rocky cliffs above the water at the end of a drive through some swanky houses built into the cliff side. We saw a lot being cleared for a house where they had removed the soil around the rock of the cliff face and were starting to build a foundation on top of and incorporating the stone. If you can’t take it out, might has well use it I guess. We parked and walked down a steep walk to the water. The tide was nearly in, but not in enough to completely cover the beach. We walked along the beack in with the beach logs as far as we could, then we started climbing the rocky cliffs.
Maddex and I took the more daring routes then the girls did. We even climbed all the way down the cliff to the waters edge for a bit. We found a funeral plaque for a 19-year-old boy randomly attached to rock while down there.After some reading and talking and thinking; back up we climbed to find the girls and take a cliff walk for a bit until we made it back to the parking area with the kids play area. The kids had plenty of time to slide while momma and I discussed the rest of the week and dinner for the night. We settled on stopping in at Save-on for cereal and milk, plus yogurt for me.
Day 3 Whistler
We made it sleeping until about 6am in Vancouver, not too bad at all for our family. We were in the lobby making breakfast before 7 and out the door before 8 headed north back the direction we went last night to Whytecliff park. The EuroVan is far from a powerhouse and the road was steep. We spent a lot of time in the right lane being passed trying to keep up with the 100kpm speed limit.
Shannon Falls and Brandy Wine Falls
Frist stop, about an hour north of Vancouver, was a quick hike to Shannon falls. The water fall is not too far from the car park, and there was a bloody tour bus in the car park. We found another trail near the big view point the tour bus was all over and took it. We walked up some awesome steps and a trail to our own private viewing spot where we took a nice family picture with the falls in the back ground. Then Michelle mooned me a bit on the walk back to the car and we loaded up for our next destination; Thanks baby.
Next stop, Brandy wine falls. From the car park we walked across a bridge over a river to the viewing platform thing to check out the falls, then further down the path to view the lake below the falls. Back across some train tracks, up a rock fall, down a narrow rocky trail to swim lake. We took another family photo by the lake,and ventured back the car. Two great waterfalls and two great short hikes and it’s not even noon yet. Great day we have starting out here.
Whistler Olympic Park
We wanted to explore whistler as one of the few destinations we selected for our trip before leaving home. On the drive to Whistler there is a sign with an arrow pointing left saying, “go here to see the Olympic Park”. Gee you had me at the pretty arrow. Having no real clue what we might see we drove the 9 or 10 miles down the road to the abandoned Olympic park. It was 5$ at the gate to drive into the park. We all needed a potty break so we hit the first few buildings we came to looking for a washroom. First two buildings were closed and locked up. they both appeared to be mostly empty.
From the car park in between the two buildings we did walked to see the sky jump, a few other ski tracks around the vacant closed up buildings, and we had a snack in the parking lot. We consulted the map they provided us at the pay gate, and it showed a washroom in another building. We drove there and found our washroom and a free to use water filter. I used the filter fill up a few liters of water bottles with nice fresh clean filtered mountain spring water – mmmm cold water; thats some high quality H2O. The Olympic things are spooky and they seem stupid to me. Lets spend millions for a thing used for 2 weeks then not sure what to do them after wards.
From the park we drove to Whistler the town. We were not able to find a single place to park for free; sad chaep face. Whislter looks pretty, and it looked busy, and we see fun. their appears to be all kinds of things to do, but nothing much to do for free. We’re pretty spoiled with cheap or free things when we travel so we voted to skip Whistler and head to Kamloops for the night. We did not read the time right and it was 4 hours to Kamloops vs. two. Oh well.. Nice windy drive up and down mountain pass roads with no guard rails mixed in with a few stops for road contructoin.
Made it to Kamloops
No guard rails? Ya, that’s because Canadians are not idiots like Americans and they use common sense and drive well. Plus they have some hot road workers vs the large. less then attractive weathered workers common on US road projects. – Canada is RAD. Made it to the hotel, checked in, had some snacks, watched a show, and slept for the night. The Hotel we booked claimed “water slide” when we got there we found out the water slide was busted; SAD FACE. The pool, however, was nice and warm so the hotel had that going for it.
Day 4 – Kamloops
Kamloops is big city in the warmer dryer part of Canada with a river running through it. We liked it there, and decided to stay for two nights. After free breakfast of waffles and yogurt and such at the hotel we picked a park to explore for the day. On the map we saw a park on a island on the river; yes please we will go there because parks and islands are rad.
MacArthur Island Park
The park we first visited for our morning walk is called MacArthur Island Park, and it’s a purpose built island and park for recreation. It has a skate park, walking and running trails, beaches, two ice hockey rings, a curling arena, golf course, kids play area, work out area for runners, soccer fields, baseball, all of the things for recreation. We parked behind a big building in the shade, found a huge map and planed out a route. We walked a few miles, played on the kids play thing, tossed rocks in the river, found a few golf balls then checked out some kids playing hockey. – Great morning adventure in the sun.
Costco, Pool Nap time
From MacArthur park we drove back towards our hotel to visit a Costco we drove by the previous day. We wanted to pick up a pile of fruits and obtain lunch. We bought our pounds of grapes, and apples, and strawberries and a few other snacks. Then we checked out the Canadian special items like plastic Ice simulations to practice puck control, hokey goals, sticks, pucks ETC. When we ordered lunch I ordered some Costco Poutine.
Mmm gravy and cheese on fries. From Costco we tried to find a park to eat at, but we failed due to road construction. Oh well, life happens and stuff, back to the hotel to eat in the breakfast lobby area at the same table we had breakfast. Then we went for our hour swim while momma tried to nap with Roxi and baby K. Swim was great, the water was clean and warm, and we were the only ones in the pool. Momma did not do awesome with the napping. It’s mid afternoon and we need more hiking.
Peterson park Water fall hike BestBuy, Harry Potter
Momma found another hike to a waterfall, not sure how she did it but she did. We drove to kind of the middle of town, took a right down what appeared to be a sketchy ally and parked under a tall overpass at Peterson Creek park. Great hike. They had a map at the info sign for us to take. Maddex loves maps he can use to navigate. We took one route that was way too steep. We ended up turning around and taking another path that ended up being a winner. We walked along a small creek for a bit until we meet up with 2 gals walking their kids.
The gals were giving up at that point because the trail was getting rough. Not much slows down the Millfam6; we kept right on trucking. With Baby K on my back I helped ever over the rock, steep, and wet spots until we made it to a great rocky spot at the bottom of the falls where we stoped to enjoy the rocky canyon, the water wall, and have some fruit. Baby K was so passed out I took the pack out, laid it down and she kept right on sleeping.
I wanted to get a better view of the falls. Unencumbered with the pack full of 2-year-old baby I started climbing the rocks. About 80 feet or so above the kids on the rocks I stopped and took in the view, took a few pictures then started back on down. On the way down I used a rock as a hold that broke off in my head, feel on my big toe, and knocked me down a few feet on the cliff face. The rock then fell into the water below me as I yelped a bit.
Michelle yelled up at me a few times to make sure I was ok. I yelled back but I guess she did not hear me. Not long after wards I made it down far enough I was back in sigh of her and kids. She yelled something about being pleased that was not me that fell, and that I was ok. I have a feeling she was getting ready to move to check because she could not see where I was, she could not hear me, and she could not see where the rock hit. Poor momma. I don’t mean to stress her out. On the way back Maddex and Momma noticed a cave in the rock face.
Maddex Mila and I climbed up to the cave and walked inside. Mila turned back quickly. Maddex and I went about 100 back into the cave until it was too short to go further. He held me tight exploring by Iphone light. Kind of creepy back there in total darkness deep in a cave with no clue what is back there. We made it out of the cave un harmed and back to the car.
From the Park we went to the mall near our hotel and best buy to pick up an HDMI cable to watch a movie off of the laptop. On the way to Kamloops we finished the first harry potter book, so it was time to watch the movie. The HDMI cable was 20$ ouch, but it was worth it to watch a movie and relax in the room. From the mall we went back to the room and had a pop corn movie night in the room watching Harry Potter.
Day 4 – Penticton
We had a pretty mellow day today. We were up and eating breakfast in the hotel lobby by 7, back in the room packed up and out the door loading the van pulling out by 8:30. Our first stop was across the street to fill the petrol tank, and obtain tim bits before heading out. Even the gas pumps have done the chip and pin right. I stick my card in and the reader locks my card until it is done reading the chip and releases it. I was email Wes during the fill-up commenting on how well Canada rolled out chip and pin vs. the complete fuck up America has made of it.
Navigation software offered two options to Penticton; one through the Okanogan desert or one traveling along the coast of the Okanogan lake. Or course we voted for the lake route because everyone in the family enjoys the beach. Our First stop after the first stop at the petrol station is Water Front park in Kelowna – wow what a gorgeous park in an amazing city. We walked from Water front park to City park along the water stopping to use the washroom, play in the beach, hide in the shade, wade in the water, and walk on a dock.
City park looked to have a spray park, and it was close to lunch time. We walked back to the car and I made some lunch stuff up while momma loaded the car to drive to city park. At city park we found parking in the shade and a nice place to lay out the picnic blanket in the shade right next to the spray park. City Park had a Huge spray park for the kids the play in while we had lunch. For lunch we had grapes, strawberries, carrots, apples, with crackers and cheese. The kids spent so much time playing I ended up putting theirs in a baggie to eat in the car. – Free fun and cheap Costco produce for lunch time win. Total cost here outside of the food was 1$ to park for 2 hours.
Penticton River Front Park
We made it to our Days Inn next to River Front park in Penticton around two. Great property with two pools, one indoor and one outdoor, a spray park for the kids, nice lobby, Walled in parking, fridge with freezer in the huge room and great front desk people. Comfort wise this is my favorite hotel of the trip. Only think I can find to whine about is the pool was not warm enough to make me super happy. It was like Lake water vs 90’s where I keep our swim spa. First world problems I guess. We checked into the hotel and immediately went into the pool for a swim.
Baby K said it was too cold and went back up the room with momma and Roxi and I stayed and played with the kids. Maddex swam a good 30 keeping his head above water and treaded water a few times in the middle of the pool no issue at all. I can officially say he’s learned to swim, and I am impressed. Mila is close. She still swims 10 feet or so with her head under water looking for something to grab onto to pull her head out. If she does not find something she starts to freak out a bit until I save her or she makes it to the edge or jumps off of the bottom. We practiced some swimming and treading water and she is very close.
After we dried off from the swim we went out for a walk along the river and the lake. The heat from the last few days is starting to take it’s toll on us for sure. Today being in the 90’s might have been too much. You can see most everyone is just beat and tired. We only made it about a ¾ of a mile on the walk before we figured it would be a good idea to turn around. Maddex noticed a play land in the shade and we stopped there to recharge before walking home. Again Maddex showed up and impressed me. We visit play parks all the time because the kids love them and they are free. Maddex has been trying to get monkey bars and not winning for a while now
I know he has the strength but he’s been lacking the confidence. His normal attack is to make one then hang and falls, or ask me help him. Today I helped him by holding my hands on his hips. I did not lift him much at all, I just helped with his confidence and balance enough that he made it all the way across one set. About 10 minutes later I watched him make it across another set, this play land had three, without any help and I yelled good job at him. He then called me over to show up me what he could do and he made all three sets no problem at all then went back and did them all again; like they were nothing.
Save-on and a movie
We walked back to the hotel from the play park, hoped in the car and drove 10 minutes to a save-on for some diner. We ended up with Milk to finish off our cereal, Thai soup for me, cheese bread and pepperoni for Momma and Khaleesi, popcorn for the movie, and a big pile of Kinder Eggs. I think we’ve only eaten out at a restaurant maybe twice on the whole trip. Most of our meals have been fruits and veggies from grocery stores, or the free hotel breakfast. Pleased with how well we’ve been eating. Other than the huge bag of skittles. Now we’ve eaten in the hotel room and we’re watching a cartoon on Plex while the kids calm down and fall asleep.
Post Trip thoughts
In room entertainment
With an HDMI cable and a wireless mouse and we can have same the TV experience we had at home. Every hotel we stayed in uhad a remote with an input button and HDMI inputs for on the TV. I think most hotels in the price range we are staying in have given up on movies and controlling the TV – I love living in the future.
In car entertainment
We packed books, word searches, coluring books, legos, mega blocks, and toys for the car. Other than the mess it all created for us to clean up in the car, I think we did pretty good. The Big entertainment in the car was Harry Potter audio books. Love hearing the kids ask to turn the book back on every time we get in the car because they want to know what is happening next. Improvements for next, we’re going to need some better toy storage and grabbers for the kids to better share things.
Free things for fun
Other than food, hotel, and Fuel we didn’t spent any other money on the trip. We don’t need to rent scooters or visit amusement parks, or go carts, or pay to access things to have a great time as a family. We found public parks and hikes, and lakes and streams, and cities and malls to explore for a good time. We went hikes to water falls, found public play place toys or spray parks for the kids, and went on walk – and our kids loved it.
For food we avoided eating out at restaurants. We shopped grocery stores and Costco for produce and things we could make in our room. The kids had cereal and fruit for dinner a few nights and we had huge fruit bowels or lunch most days. MUCH better for us then going to McDonalds or the like a few times a day. We also picked hotels which provided a free breakfast every morning. Waffles, fruit, yogurt, juice, sausage and coffee for 6 included in the price of a hotel; yes, please. I bet we’re eating a good 25-40$ in restaurant cost every morning. The picnic lunchs are a great excuse to find a park to let everyone get out, stretch, and run around.