Falling in love with Vancouver {McKell Family Vacation 2014}

This summer's McKell family vacation was in Vancouver!  Just like last year in Hawaii (see here and here), Mark and Susan earned a vacation through the company OneAmerica and the whole family got to come along.  We've really loved the opportunity of going on these trips and have been incredibly impressed with how OneAmerica treats its people.  Mark received an award at the Friday evening dinner and we were all very proud of him and his dedication to serving his clients.  Mark and Susan work incredibly hard all year long in their business and they definitely deserved this vacation.

So while we were excited to go on this trip to be with family, I had no idea just how wonderful Vancouver would be.  The city is breathtakingly beautiful with so much greenery, gorgeous views of the water, draping plants on top of buildings and great outdoorsy things to do.  Here are some of the highlights caught in photos...

We visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge and had a great time walking across the bridge and walking along the treetops.  The bridge is 230 ft above the ground (!!) and is 460 ft. long.  It was originally built in the late 1800's, which is incredible.  The bridge swayed with the movement of the crowds and it was definitely a trippy experience.
^^Eleanor fell asleep in the carrier that my friend Bethany let us borrow.  Thanks Bethany, it was a lifesaver! 
^^It was so crowded and you always wanted to be sure to hold on!
^^Eleanor woke up and we were trying to take a picture but people kept walking by and talking to her and telling us how cute she was.  It was really fun and made me a proud mom but we never did get that picture we wanted...
Aaron was SO excited to see how Eleanor would respond to her first time in the pool.  Her first time in the ocean was a total fail (see here) so we were super curious.  The hilarious thing was that she literally didn't react at all.  She was like, "C'mon guys.  What's the big deal.  It's water."
My favorite activity of the whole trip was renting bikes (and a trailer for Eleanor) and biking around Stanley Park.  Stanley Park is bigger than New York's Central Park and is full of gorgeous green trees.  The 6 mile path around the park takes you along the water's edge and boy was it beautiful at every turn.  We stopped along the way for hot dogs and pictures every once in a while. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
^^The first family picture where Eleanor is smiling!  She's been a smiler for a while but we never could get her to smile while we were all together.  
^^Good ole Famous Amos cookies were our favorite vacation snack.
All the kids had gifted Mark a nice dinner at the Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island as his Father's Day gift.  The restaurant was right on the water with amazing views of Vancouver.  We all tried various forms of seafood, with Aaron being the most adventurous (a bowl of just mussels!).  My salmon pizza was pretty good too.  And the best treat of the evening was that Eleanor took a nap in her carseat for the entire meal! Who is this baby?! That never happens and in fact we usually avoid carseat naps, but I'm sure glad it did happen that night because it made for a great meal. 
^^The engaged couple!  Chandra and Austin are getting married at the end of August and we are all so excited for them.  I'm so glad Chandra got to come on the vacation because it gave us all a chance to get to know her better.  Let's just say we are all ecstatic about Austin's choice :)
^^My dream baby.  Love her.
^^Oh golden hour, how I love the light you give off for pictures!
If riding bikes was my favorite activity then eating Vancouver's World Champion gelato at Bella Gelatoria was my favorite eating experience!  How does Vancouver have World Champion gelato, you ask?  Isn't the best gelato in Italy?  Let me tell you...the owner of this gelato shop was trained in gelato making in Italy and uses the same Italian slow process and old time machines to produce the most excellent gelato right here in Vancouver.  In a gelato making competition held in Italy, this gelato shop won! And we went to that very gelato shop!! Not once but twice!!  And yes, I may have been the most excited one of the bunch about it. I got the double scoop: one scoop Pecan and Sea Salt with maple syrup drizzled on top and one scoop chocolate brownie, which was a seriously amazing combo.  And to be totally fair, I've never been to Italy but I can't see how gelato could get any better than this. 
^^Don't worry, I didn't actually let her have it.  We hadn't even started on solid foods yet.  But Eleanor sure wanted some of that goodness!
These next photos were taken while on a stroll around the Convention Center, used for the Olympics.  It was so fun to watch sea planes take off and see big cargo ships and ferries come and go.  
Saturday night was our last night on the trip and we went up to Grouse Grind.  We took the tram up the side of the mountain to a tall peak that has amazing views of the city.  We ate a fantastic meal, watched a lumberjack show, saw native birds and took some pictures at sunset.  If we ever come back to Vancouver, I'd love to do the hike up the mountain, which is supposed to be grueling but worth it. 
^^These were the types of meals that OneAmerica provided all week.  It was heaven for our souls but made it difficult to maintain any kind of reasonable portion control.
On Sunday we drove up to Whistler, a skiing community sort of like Park City.  The drive up along the water was amazing and we stopped along the way to check out the waterfalls.  Whistler itself was a real fun place but we soon realized that the couple of hours we had to spend there was not nearly enough.  Maybe a future vacation to Whistler is in order!
On the way back from Whistler we stopped in at a Wendy's where I left my phone in a bathroom stall.  I didn't discover that mishap until we were essentially on the way to the airport and there was not enough time to turn around.  After a three week process of having to send a courier to the Squamish police station to retrieve my phone (long story) I finally have it back.  So if you called me in the month of July, I apologize!

We flew home on Sunday night and we were sad to leave.  It was a fun trip with our favorite people.  Thanks for working so hard this past year Mark and Susan to provide such a fun and entertaining week for us all!  We love you!

P.S. In case you weren't totally convinced that Vancouver is a fantastic place then maybe this will put you over the edge: they give mothers 1 year maternity leave and fathers get 6 months!  What?! I'm moving there, it's official.


  1. This makes me want to go to Vancouver even more!
    And yes, pretty much every first-world country, other than the US, has such generous parental work leave. Makes me...mad! And jealous.

  2. babies falling asleep during dinner is SUCH a dream!!