Saturday, August 24, 2002
Despite our excitement, this day started off extremely exhausting! We spent the night before saying goodbye to Brian's parents, which was as emotionally draining as expected! This really took a toll on Brian. As we figured, we got absolutely no sleep this night (morning)! From the moment we returned from Evergreen we were running to get everything done - cleaning the house, packing, car on jacks, etc., etc. It was really weird not having the dogs around! Sad actually. They will be staying with Brian's parents until our house-sitter, Anne, is back in town next week to take over. It was also hard saying goodbye to the dogs. At least your family and friends know where you are going and when you will be back…whereas these guys don't. I know we will both really miss the "clan" while we are gone!! Funny how you become so attached to your pets…

Mom and dad picked us up around 4am…of course, we were far from ready! The house was pretty much a disaster zone, but somehow we managed to catch our 6:15 am flight and still leave our house in some order. Making sure all of our stuff fit into four bags was a feat! We even needed to re-shift weight in our bags at the airport to avoid the extra charge - what a pain! We said our goodbyes to mom and dad - it was sad even though we knew we wouldn't be gone that long.

Getting to Vancouver was pretty painless. Despite our exhaustion, we managed to get to our hotel and even take an hour nap while waiting for Jill (my sister) and her boyfriend, Eddie, to meet up with us. Later we found out they were caught in traffic getting through the border. The rest of the day was a lot of fun (plus the weather was absolutely beautiful today)! We went for a quick lunch at Quizno's and then drove downtown. Downtown Vancouver is gorgeous! Driving from the airport you end up going over a hill and then down into the city - it is really a gorgeous site with the downtown surrounded by ocean and beautiful mountains! We drove by the piers and were amazed at the size of some of the cruise ships…easily the length of three to four football fields! We are pretty sure the SS Universe Explorer (our ship) won't be nearly this size though.

The rest of the day was spent walking around Gas Town (a historic district of shops and restaurants), driving through Stanley Lake (a beautiful park area much larger than Wash Park back home) and then drove across Lions Gate Bridge to spend some time driving around North Vancouver. Had a great dinner back in Gas Town and tried to experience a little of the nightlife in town, but I think Brian and I were on our very last wind. Time for bed!

Sunday, August 25, 2002
Today ended up being a very poorly planned day, but we still managed to have lots of fun! Since we were all so exhausted the night before, we chose to sleep in. By the time we all got up, dressed, had lunch and got to the ferry to head over to see Victoria (on Vancouver Island), it was 2pm. Unfortunately, none of us had had much time to research Vancouver Island, so none of us knew the ferry ride was close to an hour and 45 minutes. This wouldn't have been much of a problem, but Jill and Eddie had hoped to hit the road back to Portland by 8pm! By the time we got to Vancouver Island, we realized we only had about an hour to stop by Butchart Gardens and drive down south to Victoria. To our frustration, we didn't have time (or the money) to spend at Butchart. We had heard so many good things about the gardens...I guess we will just have to go back another time. We barely had an hour to spend in Victoria, which is sad. We really cheated ourselves, as Victoria is such a beautiful city!! We had enough time to take some pictures, grab a quick dinner and race back to the ferry! We had hoped to catch the 6pm ferry…yeah, right! We were darn lucky to get on the 8pm ferry…only about ten cars away from having to wait another hour! If we would have planned ahead we might have realized we would hit traffic on a Sunday night back to Vancouver! Oh well…we now know where to visit when we return someday to Vancouver!

Despite all this, Jill and Eddie made it home ok…of course, not until 4:30 am on Monday morning…and yes, they did have to work! I'm just so glad they were able to spend the weekend with us…we really had an awesome time!!

Monday, August 26, 2002
Today's adventures are on our own. We decided to rent a car so we could see some other Vancouver sites. We headed to Grouse mountain which was in North Vancouver (across the bridge). Grouse mountain was really neat. We took the Skyride (a tram) up to the top of the mountain where you could see for miles. We are used to seeing sites from on top of a mountain…but nothing quite like seeing the Pacific Ocean from that altitude! We walked around and saw a new Wildlife Refuge with two seven month old grizzly bear cubs each weighing about 44 pounds. They were adorable and very active after a while!

After Grouse mountain, we drove back downtown and decided to catch two 45 minute IMAX shows - Kilimanjaro, To the Roof of Africa and Space Station 3D. These were both awesome shows…now we have two more adventures we want to take! J We had some incredible sushi and then back to the hotel for some sleep.

It is so hard to believe Semester at Sea (SAS) orientation/training begins tomorrow evening!! We've waited a year for this opportunity to unravel (a lot less time than most people though!) - we are both extremely anxious, nervous, but especially excited!!!

Let the journey begin….

Click here for the pictures