It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses Their Edge

So yeah; gardens, boat, sunshine.  Take two.  (To save your poor browsers, I went with thumbnails for this.  Hover for descriptions, click to enlarge)

Ever drag 3 kids out on an hour long car ride, a two hour boat ride, and then expect them to be even close to interested in walking around some bee-infested garden?  You can guess how well that panned out for the lot of us.  Fortunately, I am a creative woman with a decade of parenting under her belt, and I know a trick or two for getting kids interested in something.

Besides that. Everyone knows that. It worked pretty well for me, too, truth be told.

No, no, I was talking about every kid's kryptonite: The Gift Shop.  PS: Whoever decided to put the gift shop at the entrance of everything, making it the Very First Thing every kid sees?  Can suck it.  Moving on.  I set a challenge for my boys that day; find and photograph ten shockingly, unexpected, secret things of beauty.  No small feat in the Garden of Eden, eh?  Each kid who found 10 got to go to the gift shop.

Of course, when 2of3 started pointing out bamboo fences in Japanese gardens *shock* and flowers growing in flower beds *gasp*, I had to clarify that I meant things that probably shouldn't be where they were, things that made them want to stop breathing for the sheer beauty of them.

Game. On.

2of3 did really well in the end.  My favorite find was the old pulley system for the limestone he found tucked in a corner, and my favorite picture of him, maybe ever, is that one with the blue flower.

1of3 is a little more conservative, and so it took him a LOT longer to get his pictures, but he was truly dazzled by the ones he did. Especially the totem poles and that water fountain, which just weren't there one second, and so totally massively there the next.

(Edit: Linds was kind enough to play editor and remind me that I forget to mention that yes, they all got some piece of crap that probably sitting in a landfill by now at the gift shop, even though no one actually got to 10.  We have the combined attention span of one cheese stick.) I found a few really beautiful things, too. We must have showed 20 kids that spider, which doesn't look in pictures nearly as big as it was.

But all through my day, at the gardens, on the boat, in Victoria, I found that I am surrounded every minute of the day by the most beautiful things I could ever hope to see.

Yes, even my mother in law. God, I'm getting soft in my old age.

Best $400 I Didn't Spend

Do you know who Owen Meany is?  If you don't, bring your forehead really close to your monitor.  Ready?


Go read it.  Now.  Come back when you're done.  I'll wait...

If you do, imagine if The Cure wrote a song about him  You'd have this:

Those are the Sunken Gardens at Buchart Gardens on Vancouver Island.  Mr Buchart and family established a limestone quarry on Vancouver Island in 1904, and when that quarry was exhausted, his wife began the huge undertaking of turning that spent quarry into the garden you see there.  And here.  Because why not?

She and her husband traveled the globe, collecting artifacts and animals and plants from around the world, and they eventually expanded their garden into the Japanese Gardens.

And then they grew their gardens larger, and created the Italian Gardens where their tennis courts once stood.

And then they took their kitchen garden patch and turning into the biggest freaking rose garden you could ever hope to see.  Like, an Alice In Wonderland Queen of Hearts rose garden.  Like, even someone like me who almost hates roses was left slightly speechless.  She did all of this...for fun.

And today, the whole thing is a stunning display of some of the most exquisite, stunning naturally beauty you could ever hope to see that I had no fucking clue I lived anywhere near until 3 weeks ago.

When my mother in law (can we just call her Sarah?  Her name is Sarah) got here, she said the only things she wanted to do were snuggle my kids and see those gardens.  We said, "Huh?  Gardens?  There are GARDENS?"  Thank god for google, man.  We cancelled 3of3's birthday party last Sunday (for a number of reasons) and took advantage of the sunshine to head on over.  Her treat.  Thank GOD.

Except, it's a 2 hour trip away from here.  BY SEA.  So, we rented a mini-van, piled everyone in the car, and hopped on the ferry.  Which, truth be told, was totally awesome in its own right and we could have turned right back around and came home after and been totally satisfied with our outing.

Did you know I'm a boat person? I'm a boat person. I could live a long, happy, fulfilled life on the deck of a boat.  I was In Heaven.

I've I ever go missing, you know where to look.  We sailed through the Gulf Islands and saw seals in the water, but no whales.  I guess you can see whales if you go on the right day.  Sucks to be us.  Anyway, no one got sea sick and we all got a big reminder of the fact that we live in a really rad place.

And in the interest of keeping this slightly shorter than On The Road, I'll continue tomorrow...