Flights were tickety-boo out of Melbourne. We flew into L.A. in a tail-wind pushed fast 13.5 hours, a quick turnaround through Customs and Immigration and we carried on for an additional 3 hour flight into Vancouver where we were stopped on account of snow. Yep...snow....in Vancouver. I will repeat... snow...in Vancouver. Outbound flights to the island were cancelled, which in the end was kinda fine as we were all the walking dead at that point having slept little. We checked into the airport Fairmont hotel, had a fine dinner at Burger King and coffee at Tim Horton's back inside the airport, and a soak in the hot tub before the three of us had the best sleep ever! We arrived in Victoria early the next day.
Our time in Victoria was marked by family and love and acceptance and propping up where propping up was needed, and love, so much love. We ran Mount Doug with my brother like I had been dreaming about. Even my beautiful but exercise-phobic sister-in-law came along once. We laughed, we puffed, we talked, we encouraged J to keep climbing and to keep running, and we rewarded him with a Turkey-Bacon Club and white hot chocolate at Tim Horton's.
My sister-in-law and I again indulged in our solo early Christmas Eve morning shopping intended to fill the house with the smells of Christmas. Really it's the good stuff in life. The house teemed with contented twenty-somethings, family, friends, food, movies, and laughter. It was a warm and welcome blanket for the nine of us living in that house, and for all who came and went.
J, his cousins Justin and Jordan, and his Uncle Phil picked the Christmas tree and brought it home to be decorated by all of us. J's cousins revisited their own pasts by examining tree decorations and exchanging memories. J once again indulged in a day alone being spoiled by his beloved cousin Renee in an annual tradition known as Nay-Nay Day. This year it was a visit to the Aquarium in Sydney, lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory and an Imax movie in Victoria. J loved every minute, Renee collapsed on the sofa when they returned home late in the day. Again it's the good stuff.
Owing to wedding plans in Calgary for the rest of the family, we emotionally left Victoria the day before New Year's Eve bound for San Francisco to join our great friends from Geneva, the Millers, and Part 2 of the Expected Journey.