Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Girl's trip

Thanks to my sister, I am able to remember all the wonderful things about our trip to Victoria, BC, Canada. Here is her blog post. Thanks Erika!

I get homesick for lots of things: green chile, the smell of sage on the mesa, turquoise, and people who can roll their “r”s. But most often I miss my mom, my sisters, and my England. And while BYU doesn’t pay nearly enough for a tea party in the Bath countryside, it did afford us a fabulous time in Victoria. I said it throughout the trip, and I’ll say it again: It was a blessed four days. We were blessed by weather. We were blessed by nature. We were blessed by food. We were blessed by serendipity. And we were blessed by each other. And the blessings didn’t stop there.

Blessed at the Airport

By some freak streak of FAA fate, we were able to arrive at the airport from three different states within about 40 minutes of each other. Granted, Mom could have disembarked the aircraft more quickly if she hadn’t made 30 friends on board before leaving. I think it had something to do with her socks. I had been at the Seattle airport before, but I hadn’t remembered the sleazy limousine drivers soliciting our company in the parking garage. But who could blame them? Again, I blame Mom’s socks. We were escorted to our hotel, instead, by a charming van driver and a neurologist who now knows WAY too much about our family medical history.

Blessed by Wild Ginger Recommendations

Two words: Chicken Chieu.

Blessed by Gelato

What better way to end an Asian Fusion meal than with Italian gelato? Oh, but if only every meal could end with tiramisu, coconut, and passion fruit deliciousness!

Blessed by Pike’s Market

Where else in the world can you gaze at a sparkling blue bay, cavort with Edward Cullen legally, AND buy chocolate linguini? But more importantly, where were all of those incredible fresh flowers when my polyester wedding bouquet was being hot glued together? And if those FSA folks at the airport thought they could get me to part with my Pike’s Market pumpkin butter (aka dangerous explosive material), they had another thing comin’.


Flower Market

Paparadelle\'s Pasta

Blessed by Downtown Seattle

By Thursday evening we had already traveled thousands of miles, eaten ourselves silly, and maxed out our budgets. But what is to be done when you happen across a Ross, an H&M, and an Il Fornaio all on the way back to the hotel? (Wait! Did that deodorant just fall out of my fanny pack?) Restraint is not in our vocabulary. Just ask Hillary’s designer jacket, Mom’s new purse to replace the fanny pack, my gaudy glass ring, sunglasses, and jewelry (which mysteriously never made it home), Joe’s new shirt, and the risotto lingering on the corners of our mouths.

Blessed by the Victoria Clipper

The Victoria Clipper wasn’t the cheapest way to get to Victoria, but it saved us hours of travel time and a monotonous ferry ride. I think our hearts all sank a bit when we realized that Mom would not be able to sit atop a crow’s nest, or man the port bow in her sea-faring clothes as she might have supposed. The Victoria Clipper was one smooth-sailing, liquor-vending machine that got us to Victoria harbor in just under 3 hours. Now if only customs could have done the same. (And here’s another shout out to those friends Mom met in line by yelling “Go Utes!”)

Blessed by Prayer

When we started the voyage, I felt the Swine Flu hit. Or something like it. My body ached. My throat hurt. My neck perspired. All I wanted to do was get off the boat and climb into bed. I spent a good 5 minutes preparing my pitch to the B&B owners about letting me check in early. I didn’t care if I missed sightseeing. I didn’t even care if I missed afternoon tea. I closed my eyes and curled into the curves of my seat and pleaded with the Lord to spare me long enough to finish the trip. I didn’t need to be perfectly healthy; I just needed him to soften the edges of my symptoms. I exited the boat carrying my own little miracle. I didn’t feel great, but I gratefully felt good enough to enjoy the rest of our trip. As soon as I got on the plane home in Seattle, I felt the blessing lift and swine swarm, but I didn’t care. I had been given my own little miracle.

(Rod later told me that he had prayed and asked the Lord to send Grandpa to give me a blessing so that I could finish the trip. I’m not sure if that is what happened, but I like to think so.)

Blessed by Victoria’s Inner Harbor

The glistening inner harbor. Sailboat-lined docks. Copper-skinned Parliament. The ivy-covered Empress. Really? Is any city really as beautiful as this?

Blessed by Tea at the Empress

My heart doesn’t belong in San Francisco. It belongs in that mahogany-coffered hallway between the lobby and the grand parlor of the Empress Hotel. I could actually hear my ventricles getting teary. I was in good company because I could also hear Hillary’s mind whirring with home improvement lists for Dennie. We frittered away the minutes until tea time in the Empress gift shop, in the jewelry store asking about the price of the Lapiz Lady necklace (which I am quite confident has not yet been purchased), and in the basement restroom where we flooded the floor. (Ah, the frailties of 150 year-old plumbing!) And after thoroughly confusing the sweet woman at desk with our strange dietary requests (no caffeinated tea, but keep the chocolate coming), we sat down to the most decadent experience of my life: Afternoon Tea at the Empress.


Fresh Seasonal Fruit with Chantilly Cream

Raisin Scones served with Strawberry preserves and Devonshire Cream

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

Mango and Curried Chicken Sandwiches

Carrot and Ginger Sandwiches

Cucumber Sandwiches with Horseradish Mayonnaise

Mushroom Pate Drizzled with Truffle Oil

Battenburg Vanilla and Chocolate Sponge Checkerboard Wrapped in Marzipan

Chocolate Cake filled with Vanilla Buttercream, Topped with Ganache

Lemon Curd Tart with Berry Garnish

Earl Grey Shortbread

Marble Chocolate Tulip

Note to self: Put Marlene (aka personal tea room servant) on Christmas card list.

Note to husband: Put mixed berry and orange-pineapple tea in my stocking.

Blessed by Hot Toddies and Breast Pumps

After a brief, self-guided tour of the Empress rooms, we retrieved our luggage and made our way on foot to the Beaconsfield Inn Bed and Breakfast. At that point we were missing our beds and our Dr. Scholls, but no one was missing anything quite as much as Hillary was missing her suckling Owen. We looked for kittens and other small animals who might do the trick, but to no avail. Luckily, we did find Hot Toddy. Todd was the fresh-faced innkeeper of the Beaconsfield who had an accounting degree and a green apron. (And in case any husbands and children are reading this, Todd wasn’t really “hot,” but how could you pass up a catchy nickname like that?) After Todd introduced us to the peacock-themed breakfast room, the leathern library, and our feathered Gatekeeper’s Suite, we took the liberty of asking him where we might find a store that specialized in “baby items.” He rummaged around in his bachelor’s brain for a few boutique options, but he could tell by the expression on our faces that we weren’t looking for anything of the sort. I think we might have thrown the words “medical” and “equipment” into the mix, and that is when he got nervous. He quickly suggested some drug stores in the area and made it clear that he “didn’t need to know” exactly what we wanted. Bless Toddy’s heart. And bless the inventor of breast pumps.

Blessed by Hearing Loss (Ah! The Luck o’ the Irish)

While Mom and Hillary located a breast pump, Miriam, Katie, and I strolled Chinatown and the tourist shops, barely escaping with our sanity from Lush and its “helpful” shop assistant who lacked a personal bubble. We met up with Mom and Hillary for dinner at a pub called the Irish Times. I think we naively thought the place “quaint” with its boxwood-framed windows and kilted hostesses. However, it quickly became Dante’s 10th circle of hell where people scream for help, but no one can hear them over the amped fiddles and mounds of bubble and squeak. I still have no idea what anyone said at that table. Ever wonder why everyone drinks in Ireland? They aren’t trying to drown their sorrows, they are simply trying to drown out the noise from the throbbing drum and pipes. In that case, this round is on me folks.

Blessed by The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

We left the ruckus of the pub for the quiet streets of moonlit Victoria, and slowly wended our way back to the B&B for our book discussion. We settled easily into the library with its glowing fire, tufted leather couches, hot cider, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. The mooncakes . . . not so much. We talked about World War II, the Chinese, the Japanese, our chances of making the same mistakes again, jazz, and the relationships between parents and their children. Katie fell asleep. We took the cue and exchanged the pages of our books for the comfort of our feather beds.

Blessed by Breakfast

The only thing that could be better than warm lemon poppyseed bread accompanied by smoked salmon and poached eggs in bearnaise sauce atop a spinach-stuff phyllo pouch would be all of this . . . served on toile. Oh bless my heart! Throw in a some peppermint tea and a humorous nod to pop tarts and you’ll have our breakfast. (Miriam, next time I’ll see if they will swap the salmon and eggs for a cheddarwurst.)

Blessed by Butchart Gardens

They didn’t have a chance. After all, how could Butchart Gardens match up to the grandeur of the Thanksgiving Point gardens? But we were in Victoria, so we went. After following the trellis-lined paths of tulips and hyacinths, we stepped into a woodland tunnel of trees and arrived at the sunken gardens. I hate to break it to LDS theologians, but the Garden of Eden is not in Missouri. It is at Butchart Gardens. Everything there felt holy. Legs stopped moving. Cameras quit flashing. Lips started whispering. Even our sighs were reverent. (Of course, we made up for all that reverence with our Napoleon Dynamite imitations in the Japanese gardens and our statue posings in the Italian gardens.) We balanced our sensory palates by finishing the experience with a luncheon at the restaurant overlooking the gardens and the distant ocean. Quiche. Scallops. Rhubarb bread pudding. Chocolate-orange decadence. Creme brulee. Our waiter’s cat eyes. All of it unworldly. All of it so worth the trip.

Blessed by Accident

I felt as though Grandma Jelte had aided our trip all along, but she was working overtime on Saturday. Not only did she manage to get us on the right city bus to Butchart Gardens and keep the weather to a refreshing mist of rain, but she saved us from nearly missing our bus, boat, and flights back home. What we didn’t realize when we sauntered to the bus pick-up outside of the gardens is that the bus only arrives once every hour on the weekends. It was 4:50. The last bus arrived at 5:04. Had we spent any more time in the gift shop, at the restaurant, or frolicking amongst the bulbs and bushes, we would have missed it. Another miraculous moment in our miraculous day.

(What is also miraculous is how much this boar looks like a little Shetland pony named “Star.” Someday, Mom. Someday . . .)

Blessed by Bathrooms

After being pinned into her corner seat by a man who could suffocate Texas with his left buttocks for the entire voyage home, Katie was a frantic female looking for a restroom on the Seattle harbors. Unfortunately, the customs officials were not sympathetic and wouldn’t let her in the building. Swelling ocean waves. Rain. Rushing waters everywhere. Katie had no choice but to beg the mercy of the Victoria Clipper. Thank heavens for womanly charms and male boat attendants. It was Katie’s own little miracle. After braving a harrowing storm on the docks and an equally harrowing cab ride to our hotel, we basked in the updated, upscale elegance of the downtown Sheraton. End the evening with a Cheesecake Factory chaser and a vagrant looking for money from Mom, and you have one memorable day.

Blessed by Living on the Edge

Somewhere in the Seattle airport we came up with the acronym EDGE for our trip: Extreme Dahl Girl Eating. As appropriate as the term may be, I wonder if we shouldn’t consider some other alternatives. Like what about LWFP: Living Without Fanny Packs? Or BPFC: Breast Pump Fan Club? Or what about TYCDIABHHAFAIFA: Tip Your Cab Driver Insane Amounts Because He Has A Family and is from Africa? Then again, “EDGE” is easier to say. And even if the name sticks, it will always mean food and much, much more to me. It was truly “Eternal Dahl Girl Enjoyment.” Let’s live on the “edge” again soon.


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