Thursday, July 29, 2010

DAY 10 (Sunday, July 4)...

Whew! This is a long vacation...but one of Jerome's favorites, he says.
Drove to Hoh Rain Forest and did all the touristy hiking trails.  So let's see, as far as wild animals on this trip, we've seen raccoons, deer, elk (babies), bald eagles, spray of killer whale and on this hike we got to see, up close a tiny squirrel sitting on the side of a tree eating a pine cone of sorts.  No bear.  And that's all Jerome wanted to see.  Oh well, maybe next time.
Walked on the beach of the Pacific Ocean.  The ocean was cold, the outside temperature was cold.  Glad I bought that wool hat!
Drove to the rental car place and stayed at the airport for a couple of hours before we flew home.  We were home by 6:30am on Monday, July 5.  Our friends Terry & Theresa picked us up with our MINI. :)

Life is good.  Vacations are cool.

DAY 9 (Saturday, July 3)...

 Began the day taking the Ferry (almost an ocean-going ferry) back to the US; Victoria to Port Angeles.
It was really a beautiful day - the water was calm enough.  There was a group of ladies providing entertainment by playing the violin in the ferry which reminded me of the Titanic.

When the ride was nearly done, I was walking through one of the common areas and saw all the passengers looking off to the one side of the boat - making the boat keel a little bit.  I asked what they are looking at and was told that there was a whale sighting.  As I looked in the same direction, I saw the spray of a killer whale breaching.
Once in Port Angeles, we decided to eat.  Stopped at a nice looking sandwich restaurant.  We will call our waitress 'Miss Butt Crack'.  It didn't matter what she did, a good inch or two was continually showing.  Took us over an hour to get our food.  After 45 minutes we already had too much time invested to leave. Miss Butt Crack kept coming to tell us that she was sorry.  But one of the remarkable things was that it wasn't just us that didn't get served - there was absolutely NO food coming out of the kitchen the entire time we were there waiting.  Eventually we got our food and I'm glad we waited because mine was fabulous.  Jerome didn't have as much luck - his ended up being a cold sandwich which is not his favorite - he sent it back to get nuked.  We didn't have to pay for our lunch.  Bonus for waiting.
Drove to Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge and the Olympic Mountains.  All I can say is OMG!!!  It's really gorgeous!  You MUST go!
We drove all the way up past the clouds and into the snow. Jerome made a tiny snowman.  I think it was something like 100 degrees in Michigan that day :D
Once we were up at the top, we stayed for a little presentation that the Ranger did about the Cougars.  She had a skin and a skull that she showed us.  Basically she told us that they don't know much about them because they are elusive.
As with anything with us, we don't stay for long.  We saw what we came there to see, took pictures and then we were on our way.  We did that with the Grand Canyon as well.

Started driving to the Hoh Rain Forest.  Drove past Lake Crescent and into Forks, WA - home of Twilight (the movie).  Stayed at a (sort of) B&B in Forks.  The decor was very Christian...everywhere.  She needed to get to church early in the morning the next day, so we were asked to be out of there around 7:30am...oh, and no breakfast.
Forks is a small town that seems a bit depressed.  But with the Twilight series, it is breathing a bit of life back into the town.

While we were taking the picture of the lumberjack with the arrow through his head - were were nearly assaulted by some local boys in a huge, loud pick-up truck.  Apparently they are none too pleased that tourists are coming to Forks and providing their depressed economy a little burst of revenue.

According to our B&B hostess, Forks also was where they filmed the Ewok scenes for the Star Wars series; Return of the Jedi.  She said that the Ewoks huts were just recently torn down.  However we have not been able to find someone who is willing to collaborate that story.

DAY 8 (Friday, July 2)...

The hotel we stayed (which was VERY clean and nice for an older hotel) had a shuttle service to downtown Victoria.  We were dropped off a couple blocks away from the harbor and we just walked around the city.
There were street vendors; one of whom I purchased a cool wool hat and performers.  The Empress Hotel. The Parliament buildings, etc.  We walked around the old city and into China Town - at one point using a very narrow alley.

We decided that we'd do the Butchart Gardens in the evening.  We were told that the gardens are very pretty when the landscape lighting comes on (around 8pm).

My most favorite part of the garden tour was the "Sunken Garden" where Mrs. Butchart took over the quarry where her husband worked and made it into a breathtaking garden.  Really, they should have that as one of the last gardens you visit because it's just  awesome.
There were other gardens as well, the Japanese garden, the Mediterranean garden, the rose garden - but really, none of them compared to the Sunken garden.
After we were done with the garden, we drove back down to downtown Victoria to see it at night - all lit up.

DAY 7 (Thursday, July 1 - Canada Day)...

After a lot of thought, we decided the easiest way to do this was to keep the car at Travlelodge and walk to the train station through an Indian Reservation.  It only rained on us a little.
Today happens to be Canada Day and when boarding the train, the Rocky Mountaineer, we all got a little Canadian flag to wave around.

The train was headed to Whistler, and took the the same route we took with the car the day before, only a bit further north.
The train was on the edge and sometimes they had to slow the thing WAY down to make it around the sharp corners.  The guide told us a little story about several cars falling off the tracks down to the water - quite a fall - so at some point they determined that it would be a good idea to make some tunnels and slow the train down when they came to those curves.  I had to hide in the bathroom for a moment.  Anxiety.  But quickly realized that hiding in the bathroom won't do me any good if several of the cars fall off the track.  The bathroom would be pulled down with the rest of 'em.

Whistler seemed to me like Disney for adults.  Seemed too fake and brand new, but I guess, in this stage, it's more like 30 or so years old.
Got there just in time to experience the Canada Day parade!
Walked to the creperie.  Went to the museum to check out the Olympic stuff, but there wasn't much.

For me a very anxious day - took the train in and knew to get back to Vancouver I would be taking a sea-plane!  YIKES!!!...so, it made for a very quiet day at Whistler with many trips to the bathroom.  

I'm such a chicken.

At the end of the day we met up with all the others that were taking the plane back.  A van waiting for us on a side street with sea-plane decals all over it.  As it turns out, the driver of the van would also be our pilot!

I was not the only one that was nervous...even someone who WORKS ON planes was not too sure about the construction of the plane.
The lake was like glass when we took off.  The views were beautiful!  I kept looking for places where he could do an emergency landing.  Thoughts of killer whales or being lost in the forest of trees on the mountains, being eaten by bears...if I survived.  OR we'd have to eat each other!!!  Oh man, I'm nuts!
We landed safely in the Vancouver harbor.  It was pretty neat - not sure if I'd do it again, but I can at least say I did it.

Found our way to the bus and headed back to our Travelodge.  Grabbed our car and headed to Victoria by Ferry.

My Facebook post from the day said: "started the day on foot, then train.bus.foot.van.(sea)plane.bus.foot.car.ferry.car.hotel.  what a day!"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

DAY 6 (Wednesday, June 30)...

Woke up in the morning with a sense of adventure - planning on doing the Sea to Sky Highway.  While driving there we happened upon a little park that is next to the Cleveland Dam. While we were looking at the reservoir, there was a film crew and an actress filming a sort of a public service commercial regarding the reservoir and dam. She was stating that Vancouver gets most, if not all its fresh drinking water from here.  They were making her drink bottle after bottle of water and re-shooting.  I'm sure that by the end, she was pretty waterlogged and didn't care where Vancouver gets its drinking water.
We then hiked down to the Salmon hatchery...which meant eventually we'd have to hike back up.  This is the kind of "hiking" we did on our trip.  Not too many real wildernessy hikes, just trails to things like fisheries.  However, there were people on the same path that came with their hiking poles.  Interesting.
Did some more driving and got up above Vancouver to the scenic overlook across the river.
Jumped on the highway...the Sea to Sky Highway and started our journey to Squamish.  By the way, did you know that the Squamish (aboriginal people) translation for Squamish has a 7 in the middle of the word???  Sḵwxwú7mesh. When Jerome was reading the street sign, he was like "what the fcuk is that???  There's a 7 in the middle of a word!"  Come to find out that the 7 is actually used as a pause in the word. 
We made plenty of stops; Shannon Falls and The Stawamus Chief (rock formation), the beach in Squamish to watch some kite-boarders and then Squamish the town have lunch at the Grilled Fromage sandwich shop.  Such a picturesque town, with beautiful snow covered mountains as a backdrop.  Then we headed back down toward our hotel and stopped at Horseshoe Bay.  Had a nice drink on a deck that overlooked the bay and watched boats and ferries come and go.
Finally drove around Stanley Park in Vancouver.  At one stop we saw some raccoons that were out begging.  They were so cute and the memory of them kept us busy nearly the rest of the trip.

DAY 5 (Tuesday, June 29)...

Had a nice quiche waiting for us when we woke up this morning.  The proprietor sat with us and we chatted about the house and our vacation so far.

Then off to Boeing.
The Future of Flight tour was pretty cool.  First you walk in this long corridor under the building.  Eventually you get to these large elevators that take you up a few flights (no pun intended).  Once up there, you stand on a platform overlooking the assembly line.  There are about 6 planes in various states of construction in the hanger/warehouse; which they call the largest building in the world (by volume).
Andy couldn't make it to the tour because he had a meeting but met up with us afterward for lunch.  As we drove to the restaurant, we showed him where we ate the night before and the street that the B&B is located.
After saying our good-byes after lunch, we were off to British Columbia; Vancouver.  At some point, we found ourselves on another Ferry.  When we arrived in Vancouver, it was surprising to both of us.  The large buildings all seemed to have the same shape and color; silvery-blue.  But it still seemed less chaotic than a US big city.

We arrived at our hotel; Travelodge.  Not the best looking, smelling hotel room and it was oddly shaped - I needed my binoculars to view the TV screen, but we would keep it for two nights.

We relaxed, watched some TV, got on the internet.  I had some Denny's take-out and Jerome ate the leftover quiche from the morning; microwaved and served to him on a Travelodge in-room tray.  Delish!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

DAY 4 (Monday, June 28)...

It was so sweet,...Sam looked online for some "gardens" for us to visit, but left out "botanical", so we ended up at a garden store.
From there we headed to Bremerton.  Had lunch at Bostons, which is not the same as the Boston's franchise in Michigan.  Had a calzone, which was yum.
Drove by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard - walked around the newly created space within downtown Bremerton that had naval themed fountains and sculptures.
It was time to say good-bye to Sam and we headed out to see Mrs. Dorothy Diamond Adams; the lady who spent her honeymoon in the house back in 1947 - she is the one who "dated" the house...as in, put a date when the house was built...not as in, went out with the house.  Stayed with her for a little over an hour, chatting.  Met her daughter as well.  Dorothy has recently moved to a "retirement home"...as in the previous week of our visit.  She was unable to show us any pictures of her and the house since they were in storage.

Started in the direction of Everett, WA.  Trying to get close enough so that we'll be able to do the Boeing tour first thing in the morning.  Called Andy and told him where we were (hint, hint - very close to their house...) but yet, no invitation...
So, we found a local B&B - with a BEAUTIFUL VIEW!  Walked the trail down to the railroad tracks and yet still very high from the water.
Went out to eat at Arnies - fancy restaurant, also with a pretty nice view.

Went back to the B&B and spent some time in the jacuzzi!  Fun!  Watched DVD about the history of the house.  Apparently, this house was in a couple of shows of the TV series "The Fugitive".  They had those episodes on DVD as well and we watched a little bit of that.  Another brush with fame!

DAY 3 (Sunday, June 27)...

Today is Sleep in Seattle day!!! We finished watching a movie with Sam and Mike's on the awesome TV that she won at the Navy Christmas party.  It's HUGE!
Walked into Port Orchard.  Stopped at a little mobile petting zoo to pet the goats and piggy.  Port Orchard was having a little festival and art fair - we perused.  Found a restaurant we decided we'd eat at that evening and then we walked back to the house (uphill...both ways!)  to get the car and drive to Manchester Park and the Port of Manchester.

Very nice drive, nice walk.
Had dinner at Amy's on the Bay then came home and sat around.  Watched our Sunday night shows; Food Network Star and Design Star - all with the nice view of a strait of the Puget Sound.  Very relaxing.

DAY 2 (Saturday, June 26)...

We made plans to meet Sam and Mike in downtown Seattle and so we did, in the Post Alley by the gum wall.
We had about an hour before our Zerve Food Tour, so we walked through Pike's Market, sampling whatever was free.  I found out that Sam really likes free things - don't we all :D
Met up at the Tea Room with our tour guide around noon.  She was waiting for 8 more people, but no one showed, so we were "it".  That was kind of nice because we had more hands-on attention AND we got to eat much more food!  Some of the food was really good, like the seafood chowder and the crumpets and the other was not all to my taste, like the antipasto.  But I would recommend the food tour.  It gives you a nice taste of a bunch of different things and a little history.
For instance we learned that Pike's market was created by the farmers of the area trying to sell their goods without a big "middle-man" mark up.  It's been around since 1907.  And if you start a business in other areas of Seattle that will become a franchise; the original needs to be in the area of the market.

After we were done with the tour, we walked around by the water with Sam and Mike.  Looking in antique and gift stores.
Later, Sam and Mike headed home while we met up with our old friend Andy at a restaurant in downtown Seattle called Steelhead Diner.  We were expecting his wife Helena to be with him, but she was not there.  That was an elephant in the room.  We had clues that in the past 5 years  our friendship must have been waning, for instance, she returned to Michigan to finish her studies.  We invited her out with the "group" a couple of times, but she never responded - or if she did, it was to decline.  They got married while they've been living in the Seattle area and we were only sent an announcement.  Now, since we've tried to come out and visit them twice before and had to cancel because of their schedules - I felt that the marriage would have been a great opportunity to visit, so the announcement was sort of a slap in the face.  Well, our deduction of the situation is that Helena must have something against us.  Genius, aren't we?  It was still nice to see Andy, even though he was covering for her - still we made plans to meet up with him again at the Boeing plant later in the week.
We had to rush from there to the Ghost Tour.  Which is too bad because we had the WORST tour guide EVER!  I keep giving these ghost tours a chance, but really there were only two that were any good; one in Edinbourgh Scottland and the other in Charleston South Carolina.  I'm basing all my good thoughts about ghost tours on those two and am always disappointed.

Once that was finally over, we headed to the ferry to take to Port Orchard area (Fauntleroy/Southworth) and then drive to Farragut Arms, where my niece and her husband live.  Nearly 1am...they were still up waiting for us.