Our original plan had been to stay the night in Vancouver, and then get up early the next morning to re-enter the country and catch the ferry to San Juan Island. Like any good trip, however, there were complications.
The World Fireworks Championship was being held that night, which he had been looking forward to. This, of course, drew a large crowd to the city (about 200,000 people from what we were told). I normally am not a huge fan of crowds, but we figured we could take them for one night.
When we got to our hotel in late afternoon (after driving all day) downtown was unbelievably packed. I also began to notice something interesting about the people clogging the streets...most were wearing some sort of rainbow colored clothing. And holding hands. With people of the same sex.
Turns out that weekend was a huge gay pride parade, expected to draw a couple hundred thousand additional people to the city. And our hotel was right on the parade right, smack in the middle of the chaos.
We decided the city was going to be simply too crazy so we cancelled our hotel and set off back to America. Once we got back into the country (and back into free cell phone service) we began calling ahead to the various towns that were near the ferry dock to the San Juan Islands.
Keeping in line with the events of the day, there was a big annual art fair going on and we could not find a hotel anywhere. My brother and I had our phones out, looking up hotels and calling one after another only to hear, "sorry, we're full."
Finally, after more than an hour of searching, we found a rather sketchy motel for the whopping price of around $50 a night. But hey, it was a bed. We got up at 6 the next morning, caught the ferry, and were finally on the island by noon.
Our lodging on the island was a cabin that a local family rents out, and it was absolutely awesome. Their property was set right on the water, away from any main roads or tourist hubs. They had their own private beach (at low tide, anyway) and I was able to go out and sit on the rocks and watch the sunset every night. It was definitely one of the best places we stayed on the entire trip.
The next morning we drove to Roche Harbor, on the northwest corner of the island, we set off on our respective adventures, my brother and I sea kayaking and our parents whale watching. I wrote about our experiences on that trip in a previous post which you can read here. Needless to say, being 30 yards from an adult killer whale in a 17ft kayak is a pretty interesting experience.
We spent our last day on the island exploring the coasts, looking for whales and other marine life, and visiting the historic American and British camps from 1859 when we almost fought the British over a pig (no really, that's the truth, read about it here)
When our time on the island came to a close, we reluctantly re-boarded the ferry, drove back to Spokane, and flew home.
With my brother and I both in college now, and working during the summers, this was probably our last big family vacation. I'm sure (and I hope) that we will continue to take smaller trips together, but our annual vacations to destinations as far as Alaska and as close as Michigan, will always be one of my favorite childhood memories, and I hope that I can one day give my children an equally memorable experience.