Victoria is great. We had plans to stay longer, but like all other good things this too ends sooner than we want…dinner turns to shit, trees into paper…but vacations remain as memories, souvenirs, and blog posts. We have our complimentary breakfast downstairs that consists of coffee, eggs, toast, and potatoes. There was also sausage and bacon or a menu to order from. We learn from the paper and people around us that this weekend is also the Highland Games and Celtic Festival – we picked a good time to visit.
We take the 17 North to Swartz Bay Terminal where we will catch the ferry to Tsawwassen – a town 30 km south of Vancouver. For this ride, I’m given 45 minutes to explore the area before departure. We are parked in lane 4 of at least 54 lanes, but not all ferries are going to the same island. It would be great to come back and island hop with my bicycle. There is coffee, chips, and flax rolls to eat. And some jewelry, soap, and glass frogs to buy. I’m not hungry or smelly, but I do have to use their washroom facilities before returning to the car.
We are parked on the 4th deck and given two decks inside for sitting. There is a shop with chocolate, pajamas, books, makeup, and other accessories. They have a vending machine with headphones and SD cards from Best Buy, a play area for toddlers, and an arcade room. Outside are three levels for viewing – 2 on levels 5 & 6 on the sides with access to the front on level 6, and level 7 with benches from side to side. I will explore and then spend most of the ride in the front where only a few others choose to brave the wind for moments before returning to the windless indoors or to the designated smoking areas.
There is a room up front on level 5 where you can pay $12 for quiet, coffee, snacks, and a newspaper. There is a restaurant with a $17 breakfast buffet, a smaller shop with some warm/cold food options, and then a café express with coffee and sandwiches. Outside there are mountains, ocean, birds, wind, campers on the shore, houses, wildflowers, another ferry with tons of people on the deck, clouds, and waves, but no whales.
Two hours (1.5hr ride and 30 min of un/loading) is not long enough and soon we are back on shore, but this is good too as it’s all new. 20 minutes later and we are in the Idle Free Zone and 1,600 meters from the Canada – USA Boundary where the Peace Arch Provincial Park is. I want to get out and play with the other families, but I may get left or we would forfeit our spot in line. By 12:40 pm we are back on United States soil and stuck in tourist traffic that will last a while on Hwy 5 as visitors from overseas and up north drive to Seattle and Portland on their way to San Francisco and Yellowstone.
We get to the Oregon border at 5:30 pm with the help of trail-mix, gum, and a stop at Starbucks – I got a vanilla blonde roast with a shot of espresso. We arrive at Shilo Inns in Grants Pass after 9:00 pm, but no worries as their outdoor heated pool is open along with the 24-hour steam and sauna rooms. I grab a towel and my dad grabs his laptop. The sauna is first and I read that it can get up to 160-180 degrees – the same temperature that the USDA considers meat well done.
I swim a few laps before getting in the steam room – feels like I’m standing in a public shower while others wash and reminds me of the gas mask room in boot camp training. I think the timer is broken on the sauna so I turn it closer to off and get back in for a little more sweating. The heat of the room burns my nostrils and I head back to the room sooner than I planned to shower and sleep – being so relaxed it will come easy tonight. I need to look into using the sauna at a local hotel or gym when I get home.