Archives for posts with tag: vacation

I am on vacation with my family in British Columbia, Canada. Until yesterday, we were staying in Ucluelet, an incredibly beautiful place on the sea. We’ve spent a fair bit of time on boats. There was the Washington State Ferry ride from Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC. There was a boat tour to see humpback whales, of which we saw several including one named, “Pinkie”. I thought, “Holy crap, please don’t tell me that this whale got it’s name to promote breast cancer awareness.” No fear, friends, her name is pinkie because she has a pink underside, which I was able to see with one of her great lunges out of the water. Unbelievable!

One of the boat rides we took was to Meares Island, off the coast of Tofino. It is a tiny island with giant trees. We spent two hours hiking on short but difficult trails before going back to the shore to wait for a small boat to take us back to the Tofino. Dennis, the captain of this 4-seater, was a character and regaled us with tales from the local area, most of which I believe were actually true.

Dennis pointed out a tiny island, “This island is for sale for $850,000.”

I don’t have that much money, but still, less than a million for a whole island? Plus, there is the Canadian/U.S. exchange rate, which today would knock nearly 25% off of the price. And it was a beautiful little place, not far from the large island of Vancouver. I could see two or three houses on it. What a deal. What a find. What an idyllic place to live.

I was gazing upon this little lump of paradise on a beautiful sunny day. Then I thought of living that close to the sea. Then I thought of the winter storms that are here. I also thought of the steep rocks on the side of the island. I wondered how many houses have fallen into the water! I suspect that keeping a house in shape there would cost a fortune, not to mention require a great deal of time and effort to maintain. Then there is the fact that it is located in one of the rainiest parts of the world.

Every moment and every thought were real. This island is idyllic. It is dangerous. It is costly. It is beautiful. It is miserably wet. This has been a wonderful vacation, by and large. I have reconnected with my family, with nature, with much needed rest and adventure. But travel is also exhausting and at times quite difficult.

Yesterday, I experienced the swell of good times, like catching a good wave of meeting delightful people and traveling through incredible natural beauty. But there were also times, when I got the shit kicked out of me, pummeled over and over, in that way that at the time, I fear that I will never get my head above water.

Fortunately, this did not last the whole day and even in the midst of my misery, at one point, I was able to shift out of it enough to get some perspective and hope that the situation could change. The wave that I was being pummeled by was the difficulty of parenting.

The sea is beautiful, powerful, and always changing.

I like on that little island whether I pony up the $850,000 or not, whether I wanted to or not, whether I planned for this or not, whether it suits my lifestyle or not.

Sometimes this feels like the greatest blessing and sometimes it feels dark and scary.

I don’t know what today will bring. My family is sleeping in.

Today, I will remind myself that every feeling has a beginning and an end. Every feeling lasts only about 30 seconds as long as we don’t respond to it in a way that keeps it firing in our brain. When I think of this, I realize how powerful our brains are. Our brains can sustain a swell or break it.

This is not easy power to exercise but it is possible. This possibility creates a sense of safety and hope for me today. I will try to remind myself of this.

Today is my last full day of vacation.

I have only one more full day of sightseeing to endure or enjoy. To a significant extent, a powerful extent, I have a say in how this plays out.

In the meantime, I’m going to reconnect with some of my photos from the trip, which gives me joy and peace. Perhaps they will bring you the same.


DSC02421On the ferry from Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC, looking toward Canada.


DSC02449Anemone from the Ucluelet Aquarium, a small gem, in which they catch and release animals from local waters, every season.


DSC02514Part of the Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet, BC.

DSC02545I was enchanted by these puppets, designed by First Nations artists. This bear, holding a salmon, was designed by a Haida artist. It contains a teaching, “Be strong. Take care of those who are less strong.” I thought it was beautiful and adorable so I bought it for my friend, Greg’s grandkids. Then I immediately sent him a photo of it so that I wouldn’t get tempted to keep it for myself. Then I bought one for myself a few days later!

DSC02596Cox Bay, Tofino, BC.

DSC02671Meares Island.


DSC02682 (1)An unexpected twist on a deer fern. Meares Island.


DSC02703 (1)Bald eagle, Tofino.

DSC02715Middle Beach, Tofino.

DSC02785Coombs Market, famous for the goats that graze on the sod roof. Alas, I was too busy socializing with my friends, Kathryn and Nel, below, to remember to take a photo!


I was walking around my neighborhood the other day, as I do nearly every day. I don’t always take the same route and I don’t always plan it out in advance. But this was a route I’d taken many times. When I am walking, I typically keep my eyes on the trees and the flowers as well as watching out for cars and for uneven pieces of side walk that stick up. (I have tripped many times.)

It was a clear sunny morning. I happened to look up along the horizon. There was the top of Mt. Rainier looming above. I don’t remember ever having seen it on this route. But perhaps, I was not looking at the right time. I have spent 40 of my 49 years living in this part of the world. It is only a 30 minute drive to the house in which I grew up. I have seen Mt. Rainier many many times, thousands of times.

I couldn’t even see the whole mountain. Nonetheless, I gasped and reflexively put my hand to my chest. The mountain itself, though about 100 miles (160 km) away, is incredibly majestic, even in partial view. There is some disagreement, but standing at 14, 409 feet (4392 meters), it is the highest mountain in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Even from my neighborhood in Seattle, I could see the sun glistening on the ice of the glaciers. America, the Beautiful, right in front of me.

I have been working pretty hard lately, working more hours than I had planned to at least for the next couple of years. But I have my reasons and some of them, like the fact I am having to work more to cover a marked decrease in my collection rate for my business, are not pretty.

Some of the reasons, however, are pretty. I am working more to help pay to take more vacations. This month, my husband and I will spend a childless five nights on the Oregon coast. Next month, we will drive across the border into Canada to visit parts of Vancouver Island that we have not previously visited as well as reconnecting with the city of Vancouver, which is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been. I take another couple of days off to go hiking with John’s aunt and uncle, who will be visiting us for the first time in Seattle. In August, I am taking time off to visit with dear friends from out of state. In September, my family travels to North Carolina for a much anticipated wedding and a celebration of our kid’s 17th (!!!!) birthday!

Then the plan is for the work-a-thon to end. No worries, I am already scheduling patients in September and I am taking care to go back to my old ways of not working full time hours. My energy level typically drops in late October, anyway, as the daylight hours grow shorter. Today, we will have 16 hours of sunlight. I’m not coming home from work in the dark. I have been gardening and doing home projects, like getting my home organized again!

But it is true that when I work more hours, I tend to live less in the present, to keep my head down, shoveling. These are also times of greater stress, when it is easy to borrow trouble in life and to expect bad things to happen.

It is good to look up to the surprise of a mountain’s majesty. It is important for me to remember that there are good surprises in life.

My husband and I took a three hour drive to get up close and personal with Mt. Rainier a couple of weekends ago.

My husband and I took a three hour drive to get up close and personal with Mt. Rainier a couple of weekends ago.

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Oh I’ve been on vacation and I am back. I missed you.  Mwah, mwah, mwah!

I had a marvelous time-relaxing, beautiful, restorative, and sunny!

I read two whole books, which is a big deal since cancer treatment induced stressed had made a pass time I used to take for granted, very difficult to do.

And I can listen to music again while driving! That’s a kind of multi-tasking that I have not been able to do for years.

Thank you wonderful San Juan Islands in northern Washington. I am so glad that you are not too terribly far away. We will be back!



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