Notes on the End of a Trip

Here we find ourselves in Vancouver, and I’m alternating between thinking that my kids are going to get bored (since they now are wanting nothing more than to watch TV until their eyes fall out), or that we didn’t leave enough time at all to explore a new city.

This evening, my son said, “I keep finding myself wondering when we’re going to get back to see some really big trees.” He also told me that being in the city all day had given him a headache, which he never gets. It might also have been the very noisy environment at the Science Centre. (The kids enjoyed it thoroughly even though it was under construction. I could have dealt with a lot less crowd, but the Extreme Dinosaurs exhibit, with animatronic creatures was impressive.) Hopefully a day at the park and aquarium tomorrow will be less enclosed and less noisy.

I can say, however, that I won’t repeat this particular type of trip. Too much change, too many places, too many 11 am check-outs, each involving packing. Again. We’ve stayed in… [counting, counting] 23 places since July 3rd. We haven’t really had enough time to enjoy most of the places that we’ve been on this trip. I like getting places, and I like exploring new places. But I don’t like having to leave on time to get somewhere else, and I don’t like having to keep figuring out a new set of logistics every day or two. I turned to my son on the Seabus this evening (which we took across to North Vancouver just to see what it was like) and I said, “I’m not sure I really like travelling.” But what it really is, I think, is that I don’t enjoy long-term travel where you don’t get to just settle down for a while.  What this trip has lacked is enough staying in one place to allow down-time. REAL down-time, not just collapsing until you must frantically pack once more. I think I will invoke a three-night minimum on future trips.

It is also possible that I just prefer the wilderness and rural areas to other places. My preferred campground is always the one with 15 sites, not 400. Gabriola island and Illecillewaet, where there was a minimum of “Stuff To Do” were my favourite places on this trip. I could quite happily have spent three more days on the beach on Gabriola, if there had been a kitchen and shower involved. (Actually, a lovely resident of the island rescued me on my final afternoon.)

That being said, we have been enjoying the street-food opportunities afforded by the urban centre. I introduced my kids to the “pizza walk”, a tradition of my friends in Toronto. It consists, essentially, of walking, chatting, and eating whatever street foods strike your fancy. It is a great way to explore, and we discovered a community garden, as well as the urban beach at the bottom of the hill. Falafel and hotdogs were obtained. Photos were taken. If I can figure out how to get them off my phone, they will even be shared.

I am writing this down now, so that if I suggest that I’m going to go on any other grand road trips, I have evidence of at least this suggestion: I cannot move to a new location every day or two. My kids have also said several times, “I love this place. But when we come back, can we fly? Please??” To which I add, “And rent a house or an apartment for a whole week.” This fancy hotel is nice and all, but it is definitely not home-like. I will grant that the apartment at the university was actually superior for making me comfortable, on account of kitchen.

Tomorrow, one last day of stressful transitions, as we figure out how to stash and retrieve our luggage, get to the airport, survive an overnight flight, and still make the most of our final day in the city. Morning: checkout, Stanley Park bicycle rental for a quick ride, aquarium for the finale, followed by a red-eye to Montreal. There’s a five-hour break in the middle there, which I think we will simply offer to the airport gods. That’s how my San Diego trip ended, too, now that I think about it. Sometimes, I just need to move the transition along to avoid getting stressed about it. Or, more stressed. Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting home and finding some semblance of routine once more. Including writing. Lots and lots and lots of writing.


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