Vancouver And The San Juan Islands

Sophia's sister, Adeline, ran the Vancouver Marathon this past weekend (yes, just six months after giving birth to little Henry!), so the whole family decided to go up there and support her.

Our plan was to fly to Bellingham, WA, stopping in Florence, OR, for lunch. We couldn't fly across the border, because Max and Luke don't have passports yet. Luckily Bellingham is just 20 miles from the border, and the kids could cross the border by car with just a copy of their birth certificates.

Unfortunately, Max's bladder had other ideas. Right as we leveled off at 10,000 feet, he announced that he needed to use the bathroom. So, we canceled IFR and descended into McClellan Airfield. I waited in the plane with Luke while Sophia helped Max.

Thank you, McClellan Jet Services, for accommodating our pit stop

After that we resumed our journey to Florence, passing right over Lake Shasta and very close to Mt. Shasta.

How could I be mad at such a cute little copilot?

Before too long, Max's bladder struck again and we found ourselves on the ground in Medford, OR. After that delay, we decided to forgo lunch in Florence and head straight to Bellingham. Command Aviation took great care of us there and we quickly loaded our gear from the plane into our rental car and hit the road. Before long we made it to Vancouver, where we checked into a hotel room with a lovely view of Stanley Park and English Bay.

The next morning I picked up David and Karen at Vancouver Airport and we all went for a scenic walk through Stanley Park.

Max dubbed these statues "The Silly People"

Later that evening, Matt, Adeline, and Henry arrived. We all rode the gondola up to the top of Grouse Mountain. The view was spectacular!

On Friday we drove to Whistler. We made a couple of stops along the way.

Our first stop was at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. I remember going to this park as a kid, but it has changed dramatically since then. It's no longer just a bridge. There are lots of other exhibits and things to explore.

The famous suspension bridge

They now have a system of treehouses connected by bridges, just like the Ewoks!

For our next stop, we hiked out to the Point Atkinson Lighthouse. It was a great place from which to view the city and a fun hike, despite our getting lightly rained on.

In Whistler, we had fun playing in the Olympic Park. Matt did some mountain biking as well.

On the drive back to Vancouver Saturday morning, we stopped at Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls.

Brandywine Falls

Sunday was the day of the big race. Adeline finished the marathon like a champ, despite cold and rainy weather the entire time! I was impressed. We walked to two places along the route to cheer her on.

Go Adeline!

On Monday, everyone headed home. We decided to spend a few days relaxing in the San Juan Islands instead! The flight from Bellingham out to Friday Harbor was gorgeous and only took about 20 minutes in N4WR. A ferry was leaving port just as I made my base-to-final turn over the town.

The tower is closed but we saw a few commercial flights

Instead of getting a taxi to our condo, we just loaded all of our bags onto the stroller and walked into town. It was a little less than a mile.

After dropping our bags off at the condo and getting some recommendations (and a loaf of fresh baked bread) from our AirBnB hostess, we walked down to the port for dinner. It was a beautiful evening.

On Tuesday we went whale watching. Unfortunately we didn't see any whales, but we did see seals (one eating an octopus, even), porpoises, and bald eagles. We had a great time. Since we didn't see whales they gave us vouchers to come back for free. We'll definitely put those to good use! We already want to go back.

Max found a perfect viewport

As we were entering Friday Harbor, we got to watch this Kenmore Air Beaver on floats take off. So awesome!

We spent our last full day exploring Orcas Island. We flew over there in N4WR and walked around Eastsound all day.

The rocky beach was perfect for Max, whose favorite pastime is "throwing rocks into water"

I used my GoPro on the way to Orcas Island and back, and I made a video of the flights. It's a little long, so I won't be offended if you don't watch the whole thing. Especially since that means you won't see my horribly off-center landing at Friday Harbor Airport.

Our flight home on Thursday was into heavy precipitation and instrument conditions for almost the entire flight. We also battled incredibly strong headwinds most of the way. It took us over 5 hours total, with a lunch stop in Corvalis, OR. To further complicate matters, President Obama was in town so there was a POTUS VIP TFR (how's that for alphabet soup?) that almost included Palo Alto Airport. We couldn't even fly the usual GPS approach into runway 31 without busting the TFR. Luckily the clouds permitted us to get radar vectors in our descent beneath the layer and we flew a visual approach into runway 13.

Not my most scenic flight. This is all we saw for over 3 hours.

On the bright side, Max's bladder cooperated this time. Good thing, too, since diverting in that weather would not have been as easy as it was on the way up.

We had a fantastic trip and we can't wait to go back!

« »