Growing up, my two older sisters and I shared tight quarters in a two-bedroom house in South Minneapolis. What might have seemed like a recipe for endless sister quarreling was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We didn't just need to spend time together, we always wanted to spend our time together. We vowed that when we were older, we'd live within blocks of one another because we couldn't imagine doing this crazy life alongside anybody else. My middle sister now lives across the river in St Paul and the eldest sister lives a mere 1800+ miles away in Abbotsford, BC. Not exactly within blocks of one another - but if I need to fly a few hours to see a sister, I love that it is to the beautiful Pacific Northwest!
Two qualifiers before I get started:
- That feature cow picture simply makes me laugh - we stayed at the loveliest AirBnB with cows in a pasture abutting the property and took far more pictures of the cows than of the activities and cute nieces and nephews of mine... *eye roll*
- When visiting family that live in vacation destination locations, you end up doing simple family things over tourist attractions! We had plans to go hiking, visit an old military fort, and seek picturesque sights...yet ended soaking up every minute of conversation, strolling leisurely through the grocery store and frantically squeezing in a trip to Capilano between naps. It may not be a "To Do" for everyone, but it was a perfect trip nonetheless!
We first started our adventure in Seattle with a quick stop to Pike Place Market. Ellenos Yogurt is too good that we must, must, must stop every trip. Our going was a bit slower with a 3-year-old and baby in tow but we managed to grab a few favorites before our trek to the north (NB: you cannot bring all produce across the border - check before you have to toss your precious peaches at the security line!).
Perfectly situated just 30 minutes across the Canadian board, Abbotsford, BC is an ideal combination of slower, rural life and convenient access to city life in Vancouver - all surrounded by majestic mountains. I had only visited in the colder months of December and February so it was breathtaking to see the sights of a crisp, Spring day!
As mentioned, we had our mental to-dos filled with wonderful activities but ended up keeping things low-key this trip. One afternoon we headed to downtown Abby for coffee and boutique shopping and immediately fell in love with Spruce Collective! Everything in the shop is curated to a T and displayed in the most winsome vignettes. They have another shop across the street called The Market - I, unfortunately, wasn't able to hop over there but my mom and sisters visited after I went home and highly recommend the thrifted and vintage finds.
Our last "big" activity for the trip was a venture to North Vancouver to go to Capilano Suspension Bridge. I had been once before during Canyon Lights in December and was so excited to see the bridge and valley in the daytime! Offering far more than just a (terrifying) walk across a bridge, Capilano park has guided nature tours, Treetops Adventures (walking through tree forts), raptor center, Cliffwalk and beautiful grounds and rich history throughout the whole park. We were nervous to know how the kids would respond to being on a wobbly bridge spanning 450 feet and 230 feet above Capilano River, but they were such champs! Interesting fact - if you put the Statue of Liberty in the canyon, the bridge would be at her shoulder height. We scoured every inch of the park before the cries of 4 kiddos deemed it was necessary to call it a day and start the trek back to Abbotsford. It may be a classic tourist attraction, but I wouldn't mind visiting Capilano every time we visit.
As with every other city adventure, our first order of business is to seek out the local, independent coffee shops. It's a way of life. On the afternoon we spent in downtown Abbotsford, we picked up some amazing coffee and endless pastries at Duft & Co Bakehouse. It was nearly impossible to decide on what to order because everything looks scrumptious and, according to my well-informed sister, everything tastes just as scrumptious. I settled on just about one of everything and was quite satisfied.
The next morning we stopped by Oldhand Coffee before church and it was a cozy little spot where you could easily get lost in a book for hours. They have a very simple menu and the wait staff seemed a little cold but the ambiance made up for it! The atmosphere was very similar to the local coffee haunts of Minneapolis making us feel right at home.
On the last evening, before I headed for home, we had a mini party with a full spread of Indian delights, candlelight, and feasting on the floor. Our normal Indian restaurant was closed by the time we were ordering so we opted to try Gian's. Y'all, it. was. so. good. Just like Capilano Bridge, I think this could be a tradition for every time we visit.
After 5 days of fun, I had to get back to work. My parents, sister and her kids were staying a couple days longer so I had to hop the bus back to Seattle in Lynden, WA. Since I was bummed to be missing out on the last couple days of fun, my dad and I stopped at Woods Coffee before being dropped off. It is a smaller coffee chain that is cozy and delicious and expertly marketed. It was a perfect caffeinated closing to our spring getaway!
I'm almost hesitant to say how wonderful our AirBnB was because we want to stay here every time we're in town. We stayed in the guest house of a delightful couple - they operate a local greenhouse and were both originally from Holland. They hosted in true European style and made us feel so welcome! Crazy kids and all. The husband has a vintage car and even took my brother-in-law out for a quick spin. It felt like resort living!! My nephew still asks to go back to the "big house in the mountains".
The best part of the guest house was the location - so near to my sister's place in Abbotsford but set a little apart in the farming community. We enjoyed cows, goats, horses and farm fresh eggs! One morning we put together a traditional European breakfast with hardboiled eggs, open-faced sandwiches and fresh fruit. Surrounded by picture-perfect scenery, pebbled drive and walkways and the European styled home, we often forgot we were in Canada and not Sweden!
After traveling for work and volunteering so frequently, I've somewhat mastered the concept of packing light and packing well. I'm planning on doing a full post on best packing tips for limiting yourself to a carry-on so keep your eyes peeled for that soon!
As a sneak peek to the upcoming post, I'll share that the easiest way to pack well is to focus on a color theme. I stayed with neutrals for this trip and never tired of my options. The pieces easily mixed and matched for more combos than I even used for the trip.
Finally, always be sure to check the expiration date on your passport! I hadn't realized my passport was expired until about 8 days before we left. God bless the passport agencies that are able to expedite the process!! Another little known fact is that a number of countries will deny entry if your passport expires within 6 months. So be sure to renew well before your trip!
All photos taken with iPhone 6+ and edited with VSCO.
Come to the woods, for here is rest.