Monday, 27 August 2012

From YVR to PDX: Our first family bike vacation...Day 5, Home Again

As we woke up to our last day in Portland, things were feeling bittersweet. We've spent the last four days preparing for getting out into the city and exploring, but now it was time to pack up our things and get ready to return home to Vancouver. I will admit that personally, I was ready to get back to a routine, and my own bed, but the kids were sad to leave, saying they were going to miss Portland several times. It's nice to know they had fun!
Coralie and I waiting patiently to cross
So after packing up our things and loading them on our bikes, we set off. We had until about 1:00pm to get to the train station, so we killed a bit of time doing a bit of last minute shopping for the kids. Then it was time for one last stop. We had been promising the kids since Wednesday that we would try to stop for donuts once more before we left, and so we made a small detour to the second location of Voodoo Doughnuts on the east side of Portland. It really wasn't that much of a sacrifice for Chris and I, they are fantastic doughnuts!

They taste like awesomeness...really!
After that, it was to the train station and onto the train for our return trip along the coastline. There's something about trips home that seem so much longer. I feel the same when we travel back from visits with our families back East. Maybe it's because the vacation is over, or knowing that it's back to work the next day, or because we all know it'll be a while before our next big vacation. It might be a combination of all three, but either was, it is always sad to end an adventure.
One last bridge crossing on the Burnside,
I believe that made four bridges crossed: Broadway,
Hawthorne, Steel and Burnside
Arriving at Union Station, ready for home
Now we're home, and it's the day after our five day bike vacation, and here are my final thoughts on our little experiment on two wheels. First and foremost, we need to be better prepared next time for minor bike hiccups. I haven't mentioned yet, but I also go a flat on Friday. Thankfully, a quick repair with a patch and the use of our hosts' bike pump had me up and running again, but from now on, we will always have extra tubes, a patch kit and a pump on us when we are travelling by bike. 
Our bikes stored in the baggage car, all
working perfectly again and ready for YVR
I also know that we made the best decision possible in terms of our accommodations. Yes, we were a bit out of the way, and perhaps next time we'll research our proximity to transit a bit better so we don't have a 20 minute walk with a 40 lb sleeping child in our arms, but having a cheap place to stay with a kitchen allowed for two things staying in a downtown hotel wouldn't have. We got to experience the quieter side of Portland while riding along the side streets on our bikes, and we were able to eat on a budget by preparing most meals ourselves. Eating out is always a nice treat, but as anyone with a family knows, even breakfast can turn into an expensive ordeal when you're feeding two hungry, growing children.

There was a lot to take away from our experiences, but I think the biggest thing for me was learning to relax and go with the flow. Our kids are amazing little globetrotters, having travelled throughout Canada, the USA and Europe in six short years. However, they remain one thing, kids. They get tired, they get grumpy, and sometimes, they just don't want to walk or ride anymore, as evidenced with Etienne's mid-ride nap. So when that happens, even if we had plans for what to do next, we need to able to modify them. There will come a day in the not so distant future when our kids will be able to keep up with us and sight see all day long. But until then, vacations will have to be flexible, and we have to be willing to not see or do something we really hoped to for the sake of the kids. The main thing about vacations are spending time doing something different as a family, and I think we succeeded wonderfully. 

Now it's time to rest up before our next bicycle adventure and the perfect way to end the summer...camping on the island! Hopefully we can take some of the lessons learned this past week to help make our long weekend a success. Stay tuned!

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