The first clue should have been my landlady’s sharp intake of breath when I told her our plans for the day yesterday. “What are your plans for the day”, Jenna asked me yesterday morning. “Oh, we’re going to head to the Shaw Centre for the day”, I said blithely. “Oh, you got a car already?” she said in surprise. “No, no”, said I, “we’re going to get the bus”. Horrified silence. “The BUS? with five kids? you know you’ve gotta take 2 buses there, right?” “Oh yes, two there and two back”. I panicked slightly. “Why? is that an awful idea?” “No, no, not at all”, she hastily backtracked. Okaaaaaay. I girded my loins and decided to keep calm and carry on.
So, we packed the swim bags – an ordeal in itself – and six of us trotted off to the bus stop. Michael was despatched to get some change, as they don’t take paper money on the buses. He marched off to the nearest shop, which isn’t really that near, and then marched back. It was hot. He needed to sit down and we hadn’t even got going yet. The bus arrived, and I had a lengthy conversation with a really nice driver, about stops, transfers, next bus route etc. I thought I had it all figured out, and then he told me the bus was changing driver halfway there. My face dropped. “It’s ok”, he reassured me. “You’ll definitely know Downtown when you get to it”. I paid – fourteen dollars – and off we set. The kids were so excited to be on a bus, with no seatbelts, mad windows and a really enticing yellow wire that ran all the way around the inside. “Don’t TOUCH the yellow wire”. We trundled along, and eventually changed driver. The first driver obviously felt that we had special needs, so he held a muttered conversation with the next driver, with lots of eye-swivelling and head-nodding in our direction. We set off again. “DOWNTOWN!!” our new driver roared. I’m sure they heard her across town. We got up, collected our bags and headed up to interrogate her about our next bus. She was so lovely, really helpful and friendly. We crossed the street for the next bus, and set off to the Shaw Centre. It took ages. We travelled through all kinds of neighourhoods and had a good look around. We decided to go to Walmart first, which was the stop after the Shaw Centre. Remember I said that Walmart was huge? Well, this was the Walmart SuperCentre. Massive. Gigantic. Sold everything under the sun. We bumped into Scott and Jenna at the fresh fruit section. I think they were suitably amazed and relieved that we had made it thus far. The kids bought skateboards, which we then had to lug across a building site and a huge field to the Shaw Centre. In blazing heat. With loads of strange insect things flying around us.
We were wrecked by the time we got to the changing rooms. It takes so damn long to put five kids into togs, hats, goggles, armbands for Rebecca, bags in lockers, skateboards in lockers, shoes in lockers, toilet-stops for everyone. Anyway, we made it to the pool, and it was so worth the effort. What a fantastic place. One 25m pool, with another play pool area beside it. It had a huge slide, a smaller slide, a lazy river, a hot tub for kids. We stayed there for ages, and then realised that we could also go into the Olympic-sized pool next door, which had all the diving boards. It was superb. The kids jumped, somersaulted, dive-bombed and slam-dunked into the pool. Unfortunately, they also belly-flopped and back-smacked, but they have to learn, eh? We stayed in for the 3 hours, and then repeated the whole changing-room process in reverse, but this time with tired, wet, hungry kids. Fun, fun, fun….
On to the buses again, and a long trip back downtown. Rebecca was asleep on my lap instantly, and all the others dozed, semi-clutching their swim-bags and skateboards. We staggered off for the next bus, Rebecca still asleep and settled ourselves again. By the time we got home, the kids were toast, and we weren’t much better. It was a great day. Here’s the link to the centre: