Sometimes plans change. I didn't intend to drive alone into downtown Vancouver but illness hit my traveling buddy and she had to fly home early. I admit, panic did creep into my thoughts as I imagined roaming around an unfamiliar metropolitan city on a rainy day with two toddlers. I even thought about just hanging out in our hotel room. But we were in Vancouver, beautiful, clean, friendly Vancouver, and we could do this. I convinced the kids to put on their rain jackets (which is a challenge in itself) and had a very serious discussion with them about ten times. We were in a big city, there were lots of cars, and they were holding my hand. No exceptions. And so we walked hand in hand a couple blocks up to the Scotiabank so I could get some Canadian cash and then back down so we could catch the bus. The concierge at Delta Vancouver Suites (which were fabulous by the way. I would most certainly stay there again. Talk about amazing view) told me which bus to take to get to Stanley Park. It seemed easy enough. Just hop on number 19. Soon the bus pulled up to the curb and we climbed on in. I went to go pay our fare. The sign said exact change only. But I only had twenty dollar bills. Eek! Panicking... Panicking... Luckily the driver took pity on me and told me to just look for someone with change on the bus and and pay him when I got off. And so I looked to the crowd. And they looked in their wallets. They were actually trying to help me. I can't say the same would happen on US public transit. In the states people do their best to play deaf and avoid eye contact. People here were genuinely nice. Finally after alot of scraping and searching a college age girl put together enough change to break my twenty. Bless that girl. She helped me avoid my first breakdown of the day.
Just as the concierge promised, the bus dropped us off in Stanley Park. My next step was to figure out where exactly in the park we were and where it was we wanted to go. Stanley Park is huge. Like Golden Gate and Central Park huge. Its a forest in the middle of a city and its breathtakingly gorgeous. Walking under the canopy of fir trees, suddenly we weren't getting rained on nearly as hard. It felt nice. It felt clean.
I knew I wanted to go see the totem poles for sure. That was our main destination. The aquarium was out because I was certainly not about to take them in there alone without a stroller. That would almost ensure I would walk back out of Stanley Park with one child less. The playground was also out because, well, it was soaked. Perhaps we could take a horse drawn carriage ride around the park? Mari would love that and I would love the cover of the carriage. What better way to see the park? I paid for our tickets and we boarded the carriage. Ben was not a happy camper. He wanted to ride the actual horses or else he wasn't game. I had two options. Either get off the carriage and listen to Mari have a meltdown or sit on the carriage for an hour trying to wrestle a screaming Ben as the other riders plotted together on ways to "accidentally" push us off the carriage. I chose option one. It went as expected. Finally, a promise that Daddy would take her on a horse when we saw him convinced Mari to calm down (Mari would remind me of this every day of the trip until Daddy joined us. Then she would remind Daddy every hour until he made good on my promise). Crisis number two averted.
We walked over to the seawall and Ben threw his obligatory 75 rocks into the ocean. Then we watched seaplanes take off and land in the bay. We wandered through the forest on paths that I was kinda certain would take us to the totem poles. And eventually, damp but happy, we made it. It was everything I had hoped for. Works of art carved out by members of the First Nations tribes. My children gazing at something that may not seem significant to them now, but will help shape their minds and lives forever. I couldn't help but feel proud.