Have baby, will travel: Part 1

Every summer, Blake and I have tried to go on some sort of getaway adventure. This summer, we spent 3 blissful weeks without internet, cell phone service or interruption in the most magical place in our country – Haida Gwaii. Previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, Blake and I fell in love with the rugged, isolated geography and the rich Haida culture when we spent 4 months living in Masset, on the northern part of the island during my residency.

Our BC coastal adventure involved planes, long car rides and many ferry crossings (9 to be exact). This was our first big trip with Henry and to my relief, he did great! I have to admit, I was anxious about how things would go when the daily schedule was dictated by ferry schedules and points of destination, rather than Henry’s naps. Henry, however, was easy going as usual and napped in the car, in his little tent on the ferries, at friends’ houses and even in our tent while camping! We’re pretty lucky parents I think 🙂

The morning of our departure, I was running around doing last minute house chores. As I unloaded the dishwasher, Henry was crawling around the kitchen. Then, without any hesitation, he crawled up the the dishwasher door and pulled himself up to standing. Just like that! I knew I was in for it then!

After finally getting out the door, Henry and I embarked on the first leg of our trip – a flight from Sioux Lookout, to Red Lake, and then on to Winnipeg where we then boarded another plane to Vancouver. It was sweltering hot that day and poor Henry roasted in the non-air conditioned little planes to Winnipeg. Needless to say, we were both pretty grumpy by the time we arrived.

Henry’s only brief snooze of the day on our flight to Winnipeg 

Unfortunately, our luck didn’t turn there. Usually, Henry would pass out as soon as the plane took off, lulled by the noise and movement. This time, Henry had an epic meltdown.  You know the kind, where strangers cast you I’m-so-sorry-for-you-but-so-glad-I’m-not-you looks. It was a horrific 3hour + ride to Vancouver where Henry screamed and flailed about while I looked more and more sweaty and disheveled. The only way I could get him to stop crying was to bounce him, standing up in the front of the plane where the stewardesses worked. I was at the end of my rope by the end of the flight!

At the Winnipeg airport

After finally landing in Vancouver, we checked into the airport hotel and breathed a sigh of relief in the quiet, air-conditioned room. Henry promptly passed out, while I gorged on take-out sushi (I hadn’t been able to eat most of the day). Later that evening, Blake and Ada joined us, after their three day haul across the country. Reunited, we were finally set to start our vacation.

Feeling much happier in our PJs in our A/C hotel room

All packed up and ready to go!

The next morning, we were all feeling much better. We loaded up the car and made a beeline out of the concrete jungle of Richmond BC. Scheduled to make the ferry from Tsawassen to Galiano Island later that afternoon, we spent the hot summer day at a local beach where Ada ran off some steam and we had a chance to dip our toes into the salt water. After a quick lunch of salmon burgers (we were so excited to eat BC salmon again!), we headed out to the Tsawassen ferry terminal where we sweated it out waiting to be loaded onto the ferry.

The first leg of our trip from Richmond to Galiano Island

Best buddies 🙂

At the beach!

At least Henry was a good sport about the heat!

Henry’s new favourite thing – ‘helping’ Blake to drive
On the ferry over to Galiano Island. We certainly were happy to get out of the city in this heat!

Arriving at Galiano Island after a hot, sticky day was like a breath of fresh air. We immediately felt relaxed as we drove along the winding roads, with giant hemlocks and cedars hanging overhead. The artsy island was the destination of Blake’s good friends, Pat and Morgan’s wedding. The venue was a lodge with little cabins built high up, overlooking the ocean on Bodega Ridge. After checking into our rustic cabin abode, we put Henry down for the night and with baby monitor in hand, we enjoyed a rare, baby-free night of drink and delicious food. It had been forever since we had been out together and it was certainly a nice treat!

The wedding venue

I’m not sure whether it was the time difference, or the fresh BC air, but Henry decided that the next morning (and every morning thereafter) his new wake-up time would be a bright and early 5am start! Thank goodness I am a morning person. Henry and I fell into a new routine of getting up at dawn, having a quick cuddle and a bottle in bed, then heading out for a hike or a little adventure so that Blake could continue to sleep. Despite the challenge of awaking every morning at this ungodly hour during my vacation, I grew to really love our cool, quiet mornings together, often with Henry on my back, exploring our surroundings.

An early morning hike
The view from the ridge

Having coffee on the deck with Ada

The day of the wedding fell within an unprecedented heat wave. To escape the heat, we went on a little hike before jumping into the ocean (Henry’s first ocean dip!) to cool off. The wedding itself was beautiful, but was it ever a scorcher! Henry did so well despite the temperatures but was happy to pass out after the ceremony in his little tent with a fan blasting cool air through the mesh. Again, Blake and I relished the opportunity to have a whole evening of adult conversation, wonderful food, drinks and music. It was a lovely night.

Hiking with Ada

Henry’s first ocean dip!
All dressed up for the wedding

Waiting for the bride

An attempt at a family picture 🙂

Our last day on Galiano Island was a slow, lazy one. We had a leisurely breakfast with the bride and groom before pushing off to explore a bit before taking the ferry over to Vancouver Island. The most hilarious part of our day came when, after having lunch at a local restaurant, Blake, Henry and I had boarded the ferry. The vessel was minutes from departing when I realized that I had forgotten the baby bag! In an instant, Blake took off sprinting off the ramp and up the hill toward the restaurant, about 400m away. In the meantime, I stood with Henry at the edge of the ramp begging the ferry operator to not pull up the gate and depart! He took pity on us and stalled. I was so so relieved when we saw Blake charging back towards the boat, baby bag in-hand. A near miss!

A very early morning hike the morning after the wedding

While hiking along the bluffs, we saw the ferry coming in and was trying to get a picture of all of us together 
The trusty Element – with over 300,000km of cross-country driving

Ada and I 

The view from the bluffs

Henry flying high at Morning Beach

Our ferry route from Galiano Island to Sidney, Vancouver Island

Once on the ferry, we settled Henry into his little tent for a nap while Blake and I watched the beautiful scenery as we sailed by. We landed in Sidney on Vancouver Island in the late afternoon, just in time to find a cute ocean-side restaurant where we ate a seafood feast of scallops, shrimp and salmon. Henry loved it all! We bunked down for the night in a pretty dingy Econolodge where I was nervous to even let Henry touch the carpet. Ew! Blake and I kept saying, ‘if we are ever rich, we’re going to splurge for nice hotel rooms and an air conditioned car!’ 🙂

Henry having a sleep in his tent

Henry loves sushi!

When Blake and I left BC to move back to Ontario, one of the saddest parts was leaving behind all of our fabulous friends that we had made during residency. When we decided to head West for our trip, we were excited to re-connect with old friends. So, it was a natural detour to head up Vancouver Island and take the ferry across to Powell River where we had a lovely visit with our good friends Matt & Courtney. The Sunshine Coast is a gorgeous area and we were happy to explore around briefly!

From Sidney to Powell River
On the ferry over to Powell River

Everyone was having fun except Blake!

Watching the water below

The Sunshine Coast

Matt and the dogs

Courtney and I hiking along the water

Beach baby!

Family photo

Another morning hike – looking for whales

Henry in the $10 stroller that we bought at Salvation Army!

Exploring Powell River before our ferry back to the Island

Waiting for Dad to finish his work call on our walk
From Powell River to Port Hardy
On the ferry back to Vancouver Island

Trying to entertain Henry while we wait for our food at the restaurant

Port Hardy harbour

Unfortunately, our stay in Powell River was pretty short as we had a deadline to catch! Months ago, when we had planned our trip, Blake and I decided that we would splurge and take the Inside Passage up along the West Coast. The ferry is a unique voyage along the rugged coast, connecting Port Hardy on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert, a large port just across the Hecate Strait from Haida Gwaii. The ferry only sails every three days and books up months in advance. It was definitely not a ferry that we could afford to miss!

So after a quick stop in Nanaimo to buy and install a small fan to cool Henry off in his car seat (oh to have A/C!), we headed up the Island. It was a long drive and thankfully Henry slept the majority of the way. We arrived in the evening and checked into yet another very seedy motel for the night. Despite it being a bit late, we headed out to gorge ourselves again on a seafood-themed dinner. Fish tacos and more scallops! Yum!

In preparation for our big adventure on the Inside Passage, Blake had called BC Ferries ahead of time to confirm when we had to check in at the ferry terminal. Thirty-minutes prior to the sailing is what they had told him. So that morning, Henry awoke at his usual 5am start and off Henry, Ada and I went for a stroll along the quiet streets of the small port. Thankfully, we found a small diner and the baker let us in pre-opening in for a coffee and a hearty egg breakfast while the baker cooed at Henry. Taking our time, we headed back to the motel to get Blake up. By this time it was about 6:30am but our ferry sailing time was 7:30am and the terminal was only a few minutes away, so there was no need to panic. By 6:55am, we were in the car on our way. Unusually, there we no other cars headed to the ferry terminal. Hmm… We arrived at the gate at 7:05 where the attendant greeted us in surprise. “Do you have a reservation for the sailing today?”, he asked. We nodded, starting to feel a bit worried. “Well, you were supposed to check-in 2 hours ago! If you’re lucky, you just might be to catch the ferry if you’re able to still get your ticket before they finish loading up!” YIKES! My heart started to beat faster. We COULDN’T miss this ferry! It was by far the most expensive part of our trip and there is no way we could’ve been able to re-book so late in the tourist season.

Blake jumped out of the car and sprinted towards the ticket counter. It was 7:11am and apparently they stopped printing tickets at 7:10am. Somehow Blake persuaded them to issue us our tickets anyway and we gunned the car towards the ramp, where the very last cars were being loaded into the belly of the great ship. “Don’t you just love it when we are running behind and you actually catch your sailing!”, exclaimed the attendant as he inspected our tickets. At 7:33am, we had been loaded onto the boat. We were the VERY LAST CAR to get on! Whew! What a relief!

Loading cars into the belly of the ship

Once aboard the Northern Expedition, BC Ferries’ newest vessel, we quickly realized why our tickets had been so pricey! It was like a giant, luxurious cruise ship equipped with amazing viewing decks, multiple restaurants, a theatre and shops. We checked into our little cabin and put Henry down for nap in his tent. He quickly went to sleep lulled by the noise of the engines and the rocking of the waves. Thankfully, our baby monitor worked quite well and Blake and I were able to explore the ship and relax on the viewing decks in the sun. Blessed with a cloudless blue sky, warm temperatures and a refreshing breeze, we spent a blissful day watching for wildlife, gazing at the gorgeous scenery and just relaxing on the deck.

Henry having a nap in his tent in our cabin aboard the Northern Expedition

A beautiful morning for a sail!

We saw a whale within the first hour of leaving the port!

Watching for whales

People watching on the viewing deck

Henry practicing his crawling in the viewing lounge

Watching the water

Henry always has the best view from Daddy’s shoulders 
Bella Bella

Bella Bella

I love the colours!

Henry ‘enjoying the view’ haha

The highlight of our 16-hour journey came in the evening, after putting Henry down for the night, when we were lucky enough to slowly sail through a channel where a pod of twelve humpback whales were fishing. I wouldn’t believe our luck as we were blessed with fantastic views of the whales while they breached and played in the water. It was a sight that I will never forget. Too bad Henry missed out!

Humpback whale!

So many whales – it was amazing

A porpoise 
This whale was right by the ship!

Wine & whale-watching! Pretty nice way to end a gorgeous day!

We pulled into Prince Rupert just after midnight that night and quickly went to bed in a cute little B&B. It was a short sleep as we had to get up early the next morning to board yet another ferry! This time, a shorter (six-hour) crossing over the Hecate Strait from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii. We got more and more excited as we drew closer to the archipelago. We were almost there and ready to start our camping adventures!

Prince Rupert port

Waiting for the ferry in Prince Rupert

Drooling all over the wheel! Yuck!

Prince Rupert

All of the cars jammed into the bottom of the ferry

Getting excited to get to HERE – Haida Gwaii!

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