Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia


On August 29, Cary and I started out for Vancouver, British Columbia, a beautiful, bustling city in Western Canada surrounded by sea and mountains. The purpose was to pick up Martha, who was returning by seaplane from the well-known retreat center, Hollyhock, on Cortes Island, where she had been teaching a week-long workshop called “Free Your Movement.” She will teach the same workshop in Mexico in Jan. 2024.

Getting to Vancouver is a picturesque three-hour drive from Seattle and, fortunately for us, we had a quick stop at the border to check passports. We made our way through a city that was both elegant and unusual, modern and old world, with skyscrapers, boulevards, parks, and quaint buildings with artistic facades tucked among the modern clusters. Our destination was the Sylvia Hotel, an iconic old structure nestled on the coast and draped in a cloak of Virginia Creeper, looking out on a glorious beach on the dramatic inlet, English Bay, whose curve reached to faraway islands in the Salish Sea (Puget Sound).

An assortment of ships resided at a distance, making an artistic backdrop for the setting sun. How lucky we were! Rain had been predicted, but stayed away for two days, until we had gone. Before bedtime we walked on the beach, enjoying utter peace and tranquility.

After a delicious breakfast at the hotel restaurant, looking out on the bay, the morning was spent exploring the beach and luxuriating in the wild birds and the driftwood relics left at high tide.


Close to the hotel, and down the beach in Morton Park was a fascinating group of sculptures called A-maze-ing Laughter…bronze figures sculpted in 2009 by Yue Minjun. They depict the sculptor in various poses of boundless laughter. What a great way to start the day! You mustn’t miss it when you come to Vancouver.

By 2 PM we were at the seaplane landing area, watching like hawks for Martha’s plane. Perfect landing, right on time. Out came five happy passengers, four of whom were Martha’s students at the Hollyhock retreat.

After a glorious reunion, we headed back. Just after we crossed the border into Washington, we stopped at Que Onda, a Mexican restaurant in Blaine.

We had no idea how good it was and were told that the owners started out as a food truck, which, because of the excellence of the food, has now turned into a gustatory gem.

As we were leaving, who appeared but Jim and Sarah Mullally, our friend, Mully’s, brother and his wife, who live in the area. What a fun meeting!

It was still light as we wound our way through Deception Pass and across the spectacular bridge, following the winding road leading us back to Langley. The trip was a short, but delightful change of pace!






  1. anne

    what a great outing Meg!! i am now visiting my Mom in france; she is a year older than you and always marvels when she hears about you…

  2. Mike Schneider

    I am always amazed by your style of writing and your adventures. You always seek the beauty of nature and life. Looking at your pictures you look younger and full of pep.


    What a pleasant accounting of a wonderful trip to a nearby terrific destination. I stayed at The Sylvia back in the early 90’s so didn’t have the pleasure of the bronze figures..fascinating! So many little adventures woven into a brief getaway!

  4. Anna

    I LOVE the photo of you with “Laughter”…A-Mazing!!

    I’m heading to Vancouver for an overnight later this month…thanks for the tips!❤️

  5. Ruth W Abel

    Meg, Next time you go to Vancouver on Granville street there is Queen Elizabeth park I think that’s the name, which is a miniature Butchert Gardens. It’s lovely.
    Thanks for a lovely post. Ruth

  6. Doug

    Indeed. A lovely and flowing cadence, depicting a host of joyful encounters, all in such a fragment of time. Only you could pull that off and provide the perfect visuals to convey the story. I think we should contract with the bronze sculptor to create one of you to greet visitors to Whidbey as they disembark the ferry.

  7. James Wilson

    Just a quick jaunt north to Vancouver,
    Always doing those things that behoove her.
    With kin, fetching kin,
    She took a fine spin.
    Another marvel us Meg maneuver.

  8. I stayed at the Sylvia Hotel in 1975. It has a lot more green vines now than it did then. I love Vancouver and don’t visit it nearly enough. Although I was there earlier this year with one of my daughters. And we also stopped in Blaine on our way home!
    I very much enjoyed your post and sharing in your happy adventure.

© 2024 Meg Noble Peterson