Canada Day 2017- When You’re Wrong, You’re Wrong

Our lovely view from the Grand Pacific

Ok, so after Nerf Wars, there was still hope that I’d be right, that every vacation needed to be planned, but after an hour or so in the hotel pool, we retired to our room overlooking the Inner Harbour and waited for the fireworks with friends. Things had gone well. Very well. And I greatly feared that I’d have to make an admission.

I was wrong. You could have a good mini-vacation without planning every second of it.

But I held out. We still had the fireworks. Maybe we’d not find a spot to see them. Maybe every single food outlet would be shut down and because we hadn’t booked a reservation, the children would go hungry and be forced to beg for scraps from rich Asians in shiny suits. Maybe, because we had no plan in place, if there was a zombie attack, we’d die while trying to find a good chainsaw.

None of that happened, though.  We had a great dinner with friends in our hotel room overlooking the Inner Harbour. Later, we found a perfect spot for viewing the fireworks, and apart from a couple of asshat punks who kept on shouting m*therf***er this and that while sucking on those stupid vape pipes, we had the most perfect time (and, frankly, what plan would I have made for those idiots other than bringing a good baseball bat?)


Spoons! check it out!

Even the next day, after me getting up early, driving out to visit some friends who were about to head to the Far East (Saskatchewan), we had a fantastic brunch at Spoons (another place I would HIGHLY recommend), played Smash-Up with my best friend (I lost every game), and even had an epic dance-off! (Yes. there’s a video of that, but I’ve been told not to show it if I ever want to wake up again.)

Then even got on an earlier ferry than planned. Plus, though the ferry was booked solid and there looked to be no seats for us to sit down in, we found 4 together.

Like it was planned.

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world took this one.

We had the best mini-vacation I’ve ever had in Victoria. Our hotel room had two doors, and a bedroom for each of us. The weather was absolutely perfect. We found parking downtown easily and it was freaking free! We didn’t have any problems with traffic, the food was great where we chose to eat, and no one seemed to hate us for showing up 30 min late.

All with minimal planning.

So, I have to say it.

I was wrong.

The key is to plan just enough. In all honesty, I’ve done the total seat-of-the-pants traveling and it has its challenges, like arriving at 10 pm in Edinburgh and pitching a tent in a flooded soccer field or finding the only room in a town is a serial killer’s murder room (boy, that’s a story, I tell you.)

However, planning every hour simply adds a ton of stress and takes away from the adventure. Part of traveling is not just researching the hell out of an area, then seeing it, no, it’s finding something unexpected, something amazing you hadn’t planned for, something cool to do that you never would have imagined.

The best visit to Victoria ever!

I hate that I missed so many of my friends. I hate that I didn’t get to laugh with them, hear about their lives, tell them my stories, but that’ll all have to happen at another time, or when they come over to visit us.

So, as my parting thought, as I wind up this mini-blog on Victoria, let me tell all my friends out there that it is ok not to plan out everything. You can still have a good time.


A GREAT time.

Canada Day July 1st – Part 1/3

The Youngest Unchained.

Is War Wrong?

I mean, yeah, probably. But a Nerf War? Adults vs kids? That kind of war could be awesome.

That was the idea for the first part of the Canada Day Trip Part Deux. The Youngest had brought over four of his most devastating weapons, his ammo vest and enough nerf bullets that if laid end to end, would encircle the world four times over.

He carried his armaments into the hotel with pride, like an orange-gunned badass from a Tarantino movie. He didn’t aim at anyone. He didn’t have any of his guns loaded. He simply cradled them like a mother cradles a newborn.

So, after me writing in the a.m., all the Asians coming into the café and staring at me like they’d never seen a white man in his underwear sitting down, writing something on a computer, his hair looking like someone had just electrocuted him, we made our way to get some food.

Deprived of my ability to plan every second of the day, I leapt at researching a place. Lots to choose from, though. I mean, hey, this is Victoria. A mecca of good food.

Found a few nearby, but the Shine Café had great reviews, so we went there.

5 Joe stars ***** for the Shine

This place. Wow. I have not had such a good breakfast in a long while. Total Joe five stars. *****.  I tried the Scottish breakfast and despite my heritage, the black pudding made me gag. I haven’t gagged since a string of spaghetti got stuck in my braces and dangled down my throat. To all my ancestors who had to eat black pudding, and couldn’t order an egg McMuffin, I am both impressed and appalled. Haggis suddenly doesn’t seem as bad.

However, everything else, from the eggs to the bacon, to the hash browns were perfectly cooked. The Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World said her eggs Benny were the best she’d ever had. The Youngest had pancakes the size of his ammo-filled backpack. Even the Oldest said his meal was, “I dunno, ok, I guess.”

So, my first travel recommendation. I’ll make a tab. But try out the Shine if you’re in Victoria. It is an amazing café.

Bellies full, we drove off to the war.

Tournament Trials – Playoffs – Part 6

16 teams. 2 days. Add one motel, one ferry and 16 wild and crazy kids. Yeah, that is a good idea.
16 teams. 2 days. And they were in the finals.

After 3 games, the boys should have been near catatonic exhaustion. I know I was. But no, they were full of excited energy. Hell, they’d just won 3 games in a row and were going to the finals. Top 4 out of 16 teams. They were proud and they were loud.

But mostly they couldn’t wait for the final games. They were sure they had the talent and skills to win.

I forced The-Youngest to be in bed by 7:30. It took him an hour to stop wanting to chat, but that’s ok, he was asleep by 8:30. And was asleep by 8:31.

The first game came at 10am on Sunday, and if we won, we’d go on to the finals at 3:15. Games are an hour long, so we’d catch the 5:45 ferry back, easily. Or so I thought. I forgot that we were on the Island, and Island time is sometimes a little different. If we missed it, the boys wouldn’t get home until 10:30, and they had school the next morning!

However, if we lost that first game, we’d play for the bronze medal at 1:30.

Was it bad of me to hope we’d lose so I could catch an earlier ferry? Am I a bad parent?

The boys, though, were psyched. To quote The-Youngest as I tied up his skates, “So Joe, it feels like I’m at the top of a roller coaster and it’s just about to go down. It feels like that in my tummy. It’s not a bad feeling though. Kinda like being scared and excited at the same time.”

Exactly right. He nailed it. All the boys had nerves. Even the parents.

I'm pretty sure this was the Victoria team picture
I’m pretty sure this was the Victoria team picture

Their first game was against Victoria, a good team with a perfect record just like us. When the puck dropped, our boys flittered around like moths in search of a flame.

Game jitters had gotten to them.

They all wanted to score. They all wanted to dazzle their parents. They all wanted to be superstars.

In the end, they managed to remember to pass, to back-check and play their positions. They played hard and won. Honestly, it could have gone either way, but a win is a win.

That meant we played for the big trophy, for first place!

Now the boys were as excited as I’ve ever seen them. They were sure they could take the top prize. They were so sure they were that good.

Would it be a Mighty Ducks ending?

Only the Oceanside team stood in their way. They, too, had won all their games, even getting a shut-out. These boys came from a small town where there’d be no rep team, all boys, good or bad, would suit up for Oceanside.

We had a LOT of time to burn so we went to Boston Pizza, ate pizza, watched a good 2 hours of sports fails on TV and waited. “Waiting is the worst,” The-Youngest told me. And, again, he’s bang-on.

At 3:15 the final started. Well, let’s say it started to start. Unlike the other games, there was a bit of a ceremony. The teams turned to face the flag. A little girl came out and sang O Canada.

That was cool. Later the Youngest would say it was like a real playoff game. Then the game began.

Within the first minute, it was 0-1. Then 0-2. And it was apparent that Oceanside had a really good team.

Now we have a few good players for sure, and one outstanding one, but even our outstanding one (who could normally skate through the entire opposing team and score), ran into problems. They had 4 or 5 like him. Big kids. Fast skaters. As soon as our outstanding boy would get the puck, he’d be mobbed by those skaters as fast as him.



I watched the parent’s shoulders slump.

The Youngest getting some final instructions.

Then we scored one, a brilliant NHL level pass from the boards to the man by the net. Bang! 1-4. But they scored right back. 1-5. Then, 1-6.

Our star player got hurt trying to stop yet another breakaway. He had to go off to the bench. Then another of our players fell into the boards. Hard. He went to the bench.

It wasn’t like the boys weren’t trying. They were. They gave it their all. But we were simply playing a better team.

Before the 1st period was out, we got another goal. 2-6. At this point, just keeping it close would be a win.

And they played even harder in the second period. We got 2 goals, they got 2 goals. The-Youngest even made one of his most epic saves of all time! Having his stick knocked away from him, he fell on his side and failed his arms and legs, somehow managing to block not one, but two shots.

Then, for some reason, when the play moved away from him and one of his players had pushed his goalie stick back within reach, he just stood over his stick and looked at it. Like he was talking to it.

“Bad stick. Bad. You shouldn’t go walkabout. Bad stick.”

He stared at it for a long time as our team fought hard at the other end of the ice, the coach shouting for him to pick it up. Maybe The-Youngest was debating whether or not he even needed a stick. Maybe his epic saves had convinced him sticks were unnecessary.

Then the play shifted and the other team roared back down the ice towards him, fast skaters skating fast. As they reached our blue line, the Youngest slowly bent down and picked up this stick like he had all the time in the world, and prepared to make another save.

Such things make my hair go white.

The final was 6-10. From the 2nd period on, we matched them goal for goal, an amazing achievement in my mind, but we couldn’t overcome the 4 goal lead they got in the first period.

As the boys skated to the trophy ceremony, I wondered how they would take it, and as I looked up at the clock, 4:35 (far past the time the game should have ended and there was still the medals to be given out), our chances of making the 5:45 ferry were fading fast.