Celebrating 30 years in 15 days–Day 1: Vancouver

Steve and I are in the midst of a 15-day trip to Canada and Alaska in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary.  So far Steve has taken 782 pictures.  I promise I won’t post them all, but I will share a few of my favorites. 

We began our trip last Thursday by flying to Vancouver, Canada, by way of Chicago.  I’ve heard horrors stories about O’Hare; however, our experience was wonderful.  We arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule and more than our hour before boarding began for our flight to Vancouver.  We had plenty of time for the short walk to the gate and to get some breakfast.  We arrived in Vancouver shortly before noon local time.  We had a bit more than 24 hours to explore Vancouver before boarding the cruise ship that would take us to Alaska.

Vancouver skyline from our hotel room window

Vancouver is a beautiful city, with a mix of hundred-year old buildings and new, modern skyscrapers.  The city is very clean, and they take their recycling seriously.  Steve got fussed at for not properly deciphering the instructions on a series of recycling bins at the McDonald’s where we ate breakfast Friday.

After checking into the hotel, we ate lunch at an authentic Irish pub a block from our hotel, and then bought a pass for a “hop on, hop off” bus tour around the city.  Because we bought our ticket late in the afternoon, we were allowed to use it the following day.  We stayed on the bus for both of its routes Thursday, and on Friday we took the bus to Stanley Park.

River Walk at Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

We hopped off at the first stop in Stanley Park intending to spend 30 minutes exploring the area before hopping back on and riding to the next stop.  Things do not go as planned.  We walked about half a mile downhill to visit Beaver Lake, then we decided that we did not want to walk back up the hill to catch the bus. Rather we decided to walk to the next stop.  Thirty minutes later with the stop nowhere in sight, we realized that our reasoning had been faulty.  We  eventually made it to the stop, having walked about 3 miles through the park. 

3 nurse trees growing from one stump, Stanley Park

Stanley Park is beautiful, and I highly recommend spending time there if you have an opportunity to visit Vancouver.  We were particularly intrigued by the nurse trees which root themselves in dead tree stumps.

Our hotel was located next to Canada Place where the 2010 Winter Olympics medals were handed out and about 2 blocks from the Olympic cauldron.  We visited the site and made a quick trip to the Canadian Mountie store before boarding the ship.

 

Olympic cauldron
 
 

Canadian Mountie store

We were off for our Alaskan adventure! 

 

Valentine’s Day Reflection on Meeting the Love of My Life

Celebrating our 25th anniversary with a Caribbean cruise

I had lunch after church yesterday with the love of my life.  As I sat across from my husband in the booth at one of our favorite restaurants, it occurred to me that we had been coming to this restaurant for 33 years.  The memories of eating fish, fries, coleslaw, and hush puppies here together go all the way back to our freshman year of college.  They’ve remodeled the restaurant a time or two and tweaked the menu, but it’s in the same spot and I’m still coming with the same guy.

I vividly remember the first time I met Steve.  It was early October 1975, our junior year of high school. I was the vice-president of the French club and in that capacity I had to help select the cast for the annual French club play.  The French teacher, Madame Dameron, had chosen a musical—The Pale Pink Dragon.  I remember that some of the characters were turned into bears by a dragon. I was assigned to be in charge of costumes and spent many hours dyeing thermal underwear brown, making papier-mâché bear heads, and creating a dragon costume.

On the first day of tryouts, a large number of students showed up.  Most of the would-be actors read a scene from the script and sang briefly a cappella.  Some were quite good and others were, well let’s just say, not so good. Near the end of the first day, it was Steve’s turn to audition.  He was new in school, and I had never seen him before.

Steve’s was kind of cute, but he was not, at first glance, my type. He looked like a hippie with long straight hair that fell below his shoulders.  He wore blue jeans with holes in the both knees, a white Mickey Mouse teeshirt, and a plaid longsleeve flannel shirt. I wasn’t really interested until he picked up his guitar. He had my full attention as he strummed the guitar and sang.  He was, of course, cast in the play.  I remember giving him a pattern and material and telling him to have his mother sew his costume, a long hooded robe.  He said she couldn’t as she didn’t have a sewing machine.  I made his costume myself.

The remainder of the year, Steve and I had little interaction.  Senior year, however, we were seated beside each other in physics class.  We got to know each other better as we flirted on a field trip to D.C. and helped each other with physics homework.  Steve was shy and the year was almost over before he got up the nerve to ask me out. Once he did, I knew he was that special person God had for me. 

When people ask us how long we’ve been “together” Steve always says it’s been since the French club play while I count from our first date in April 1977.  Either way, we are well into our fourth decade as a couple.  In a few months we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. 

As we ate our lunch, I thought about how special it is to have met the love of my life when we were only 17.  We share a lifetime of memories from high school graduation through college and graduate school to starting a family.  Our three sons were raised in a stable home with parents who loved them and each other unconditionally. Last summer we had the wonderful experience of becoming grandparents.  We look forward to making new memories with our precious grandson.

We don’t know what future God has in store for us.  We do know that God will be with us each step of the way and that we will be here for each other “for as long as we both shall live.”  Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart.  I love you with all my heart.

Christmas Eve Anniversary

My parents celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on Friday.  They were married on Christmas Eve and celebrated Christmas with their families the next morning before leaving for their honeymoon. 

Getting married on Christmas Eve makes it easy to remember the date, but it makes a romantic celebration nearly impossible.  The last time I remember my parents going out to dinner on their anniversary is the year I was eleven.  They were home early and declared they would never attempt it again.  Few restaurants are open on Christmas Eve, and even fewer have employees who are happy about having to work that night.

My parents had nine children born over a 21-year period.  Consequently, their Christmas Eve activities for the first thirty years or so typically involved wrapping Christmas presents, assembling bikes and other toys, and baking pies for Christmas dinner.  Their anniversary was almost an afterthought in all the chaos of Christmas, but they always took a few moments to exchange gifts and express their love for each other.

Christmas Eves are a bit calmer for them these days. More restaurants are open, but they still don’t go out on their anniversary.  They prefer instead to have a quiet celebration surrounded by their children and grandchildren.  They celebrated their anniversary this year with four of their children and three of their grandchildren present.  My sister and I brought the food, so Mom was spared the chore of cooking dinner on their anniversary.

I am grateful that my parents’ marriage has withstood the many challenges life has brought their way, including the death of one child and my father’s 26-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps.  I am thankful that my parents are both active and healthy and can look forward to many more anniversaries.  But most of all, I am eternally grateful that many years ago my parent’s committed their lives to Jesus Christ and made Him the center of their marriage.