Thanks to twitter, I was able to keep a detailed record of the entire trip my wife and I took this year as we went, rather than try to recall it all after we got back home. It offered my friends and family up-to-the-minute news of our vacation, which made for a great way to let everyone know what a grand time we were having. It also had the interesting side effect of not having to tell my twitter followers and avid facebook friends about my trip at all – as they already knew everything we did! So for those that didn’t fall into one of those camps, here’s a breakdown of how it went:
Even though the weather looked cloudy and gray, we wanted to get out and do something with our one full day in Vancouver. We decided to drive over to Stanley Park (a huge “Central Park”-style park adjacent to downtown Vancouver. Nestled inside the park is the Vancouver Aquarium. There were fish, eels, snakes, spiders, dolphins, beluga whales, otters, and lots of people. It wasn’t a huge facility and it only took a few hours to get through.
We headed back to the hotel and then walked out to Chinatown to find some lunch. After browsing around looking for a suitable place that wasn’t too “sketchy”, we ended up at a trendy small place called Wild Rice. We were the only customers in the whole restraunt – but the food was well presented and tasty. It was all served “family-style” but Krissy and I both had our own dishes primarily. She had some salmon and oriental greens with noodles, I had some sweet & sour ribs, brown rice, and szechuan chicken.
Again we had eaten late so dinner wasn’t an option. After another dip in the spa, we drove over to Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club. We took a short break around the corner at a Tim Horton’s to try their famous doughnuts. They were definitely better than Dunkin Donuts, but not as good as a hot Krispy Kreme. Coffee was good too!
The comics were pretty good – but as it usually ends up for some reason, the first guy and the host were the funniest of the whole show. The middle guy and headliner were’nt that good. But it wasn’t too expensive (before we bought a drink anyhow) so it was a fine way to end the night.
Our last day will bring us over to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and then back to Seattle to fly home.
With a continental breakfast start, we drove up 2 hours to Whistler on the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. We made it to Whistler Village just in time to go on the 12:00 ZipTrek tour. We donned all of our harnesses and helmets and walked up to our first practice zipline. It was a great, short ride across the cable – just enough to get us excited for the real tree-to-tree lines. After a a van ride up a private road (where we saw a ton of Olympic construction for the bobsled track) we loaded out for the first line. The whole tour was awesome from there. Long lines, high in the sky, above raging waters and amidst huge trees. Krissy and I had a blast. Took some great videos mid-flight and several shots all around the tour.
While we were in Whistler we walked around and decided on a place for lunch before heading back to Vancouver. Krissy had a salad and I had a cajun chicken sandwich. On our way, we stopped at a huge waterfall to take in some unique scenery. It started to really rain, so we just kept going back to our hotel.
By the time we got back it was fairly late. We went in the hotel’s rooftop jacuzzi and then took a nap in the room. It was too late to go and grab dinner – so we skipped it and just watched a bit of TV before nodding off to sleep.
We woke up bright and early and grabbed some brekfast at the Old Dutch Inn. Surprisingly good food and got a good meal in before heading out to Horne Lake.
The paved road ended and we traveled a dirt and gravel road for a good 15 minutes to reach the Horne Lake Adventure Camp. Our tour guides gave us a description of what our tour consisted of, donned our helmets with headlamps, and grabbed some coveralls to bring along so we didn’t mess up our clothes. After another short drive and a 10 minute hike, we reached the cave entrance. It was a small, square-shaped grate that is usually locked when no one is inside. We put on our coveralls and entered the cave. It was an amazing experience. We got to see incredible natural formations inside – “soda straws”, white calcite that looked like ice cream, stalagtites and stalagmites everywhere. We had several crawlways that we had to get down on our belly and crawl through, and one area had a pump that removed a pool of water so that we could get through to the other side! We also were able to do some rapelling, rock climbing, a few ladder climbs, and lots of hunching and ducking throughout the cave. It was a blast. We took lots of pictures inside with a disposable camera so there should be good documentation!
After emerging from the cave, we headed back to the car and drove back to Qualicum Beach to grab some lunch at “Lefty’s”, and then back out to a park about 20 minutes away called Cathedral Grove. Huge trees with some trunks at least 10 feet in diameter surrounded a short path through the park.
We then headed back to catch the ferry to get back to the mainland and to Downtown Vancouver to our hotel, the Hampton Inn. After unloading our luggage and setting up our last “home base” of the trip, we had a simple dinner downstairs at the hotel restraunt, “Zachary’s“. I had a decent steak and Krissy had a halibut & salmon linguini dish. We had a small slice of cheesecake to end the night.
Next, we head to Whistler to go on the ZipTrek tour.
Our stay in Seattle was over and we headed towards Vancouver. We made a quick stop at a breakfast place highly recommended called “14 Carrot Cafe”. Pancakes, omelettes – all good. Then we drove all the way up to Horeshoe Bay, passing through downtown Vancouver, and driving onto the BC Ferry to take us across to Vancouver Island. After a nice 1:45 voyage across the bay, and a quick lunch on-board, we headed out to Qualicum Beach. Our motel, Sand Pebbles Inn, was nested right on the water. Krissy and I took a walk up and down the beach before we headed into the town center to find some dinner. We went to a small pizza place and Krissy had a salad and I had some mediocre, watery baked spaghetti. Can’t have a great meal every time.
After a stop at the hotel’s breakfast, we drove out to Woodland Park Zoo, which was only about 10 minutes away. It was a pretty nice layout, with all types of animals – giraffes, monkeys, gorillas, lions, etc. We had a quick lunch of chili at the zoo’s food pavilion, and then drove a few blocks down to meet Amber in Fremont. We walked down to a coffee shop and sat outside on a seat of rocks with our mochas. Then we headed down to the locks and watched a ton of boats being lined up waiting for the water to rise. After driving around a bit, we headed to Ballard and went to a cool bar for a few drinks. It was now dinnertime, so we went to a mexican place called Oaxaca. One last stop was at a unique Seattle shop, Cupcake Royale, where we finished our “outskirts of the city” tour with Amber with a few tasty cupcakes.
Our itenirary today will be mostly drive time as we venture north towards Qualicum Beach which is located on Vancouver Island.
Pike Place Market. We found a small french cafe and started our day with some crepes. We walked all throughout the market, and yes, saw some fish throwing along the way. Beautiful inexpensive flowers. Honeys and jams. Various trinkets and handmade goods. It was full of people from end to end. We caught the overwhelmingly strong scent of fresh doughnuts around the corner from the fish store, and had to get a half-dozen, bite-sized, powdered, and frosted.
After we were content to have seen most of the vendors, we ventured into downtown. Walked past several more stores, including the world’s first Starbucks, a handmade cheese shop, and at least 4-5 more Starbucks. We hiked up to the Westlake Plaza area and sat in the open square for a while, people-watching and saw the city horseback cops making their rounds. We walked around for a bit in the mall and stopped into a coffee shop (not Starbucks!) and had some molten dark chocolate mochas.
At this point we were feeling a bit tired from all the walking so we came back to the hotel and crashed. We didn’t realize it, but we were VERY tired, and slept until late in the night. Since it was Sunday night, most restaurants were closed, but a local place a block away from our hotel – Blue Lake Bistro – was open until 1AM, so that was our place. Krissy had mushroom soup and salad, and I had a chicken parmesan. The rest of the night was just spent hanging out in the room, watching TV. Chilling out. It’s ok to just chill on vacation, right?
So today, now that the weather is good, we plan to head over to what is supposed to be one of the world’s best zoo’s. Woodland Park Zoo. And possibly meet up with Amber for lunch or dinner, since the zoo is blocks from her house.
After a fairly decent continental breakfast, we ventured down to Seattle Center.
Our first stop was the EMP (Experience Music Project). Now from reviews on TripAdvisor.com, we weren’t sure if it was going to be a so-so experience as many people found it boring (absolutely not) and overpriced (it was worth the $$). There was an excellent gallery showcasing the birth of rock as it related to the Northwest, and showcased very exclusive memorabilia from the 50′s all the way up to modern rock. An entire wall was devoted to the “grunge” scene.
Other highlights included an wing devoted to the birth of hip-hop in the 70′s, a gallery of show posters from all eras, an incredible wing devoted to Hendrix, and a huge room that held many of history’s most important and most peculiar guitars. It was awesome to see some of the earliest known guitars, the first Martin, first Les Paul, first Strat… a really amazing collection. The most awesome piece of the entire museum was a sculpture comprised of over 700 different guitars, basses and a few random drums, keyboards, and computer-controlled guitars that performed a live music soundtrack using MIDI. It was at least 2 stories high and really amazing to view and listen to.
We ate lunch at the brand new Revolution Bar & Grill (it was the their 2nd day open). Krissy after scraping off a few fish eggs, she enjoyed her “Seattle Rolls” sushi and a very flower-tasting iced tea. I had a Prime Rib and Cheddar with au jus. Yum!
We then strolled over to the Science Fiction Museum located in the same building. This place was excellent! All kinds of weapons and aliens and books and videos and movie memorabilia. The best stuff for me were the “Alien/Aliens” egg, facehugger, Alien Queen (she was HUGE!) and Power Loader. Really surreal to see them up close.
After about 3 hours spent meandering through the museum we walked across the street and Rode The Ducks. They took some WWII tankboats and converted them to tourist-carrying tour buses that took us all around Seattle and right into the water for a lap around Elliot Bay. The guide had plenty of lame jokes and unique tidbits about the city.
We headed back to the hotel via our great complimentary hotel shuttle and decided what we wanted to tackle next. We chose to stick to the Seattle Center area and drove over to the Space Needle area and ate a cool little pizza place called Zeek’s. We did the usual – half veggie, half meat. It was a little light on sauce, but fresh and tasty with hardly any grease.
Now that the sun had gone down we walked over to the Needle. It was a fast 45 seconds to the top. It had been a light rain all day so we figured a night view would be better than a cloudy day view. Walked around the observation deck and looked at some of the inside descriptions of the history and construction. It’s something you’d only ever need to do once, but still interesting and a great view of the city.
Our last event of the day was at the Pacific Science Center Laser Dome. When we were at the hotel I was looking up info about the center and noticed they had a new show playing that night. A TOOL show! Krissy and I are big fans, and we wanted to do something cool to end the night, so it was just the ticket. We stood in line with about 50 other young hipsters and then once inside, sat in the reclined seats and waited. The new single, “Vicarious” started the show. It was LOUD. The visuals were trippy and an epileptic’s nightmare. The show had songs from all throughout Tool’s discography and had some really cool fog and light effects that created swirling clouds of light and made what appeared to be 3D blocks and lines all throughout the dome. The music lended itself so well to the format since Tool’s rhythm is clearly defined. I talked for a bit with the laser operator and was surprised to find that he not only created all the animations, but most of the show was performed live, on the fly. He must have been a real fan himself because it was so well timed to the music.
We drove back to the hotel, took a quick dip in the indoor hot tub, and then went to bed. So now it’s Sunday morning. Our plan is now to check out the Pike Place Market and some more of the waterfront, and possibly hook up with Krissy’s friend’s sister, Amber, who lives out here in Fremont.
We’ve arrived here in Seattle. And yes, the famous rainy weather was
here to greet us. Budget provided us with a cool little black Chevy HHR. Looks like a PT Cruiser, but boxier. Low visibility, but it’ll do.
The drive into Seattle on I-5 showcased an excellent view of downtown and its many unique buildings and the water. After a few missed turns and map checking, we’ve located our home for the next few days – Silver Cloud Inn. Our room is quaint with a waterfront view, faux fireplace, and complimentary high speed internet. Krissy recounts our day of flights and initial drive through town to her mom on the cell.
Our dinner outing is a local eatery reccomended by the kind woman who checked us in – Duke’s Chowder House. We should be starving since it’s 10:30pm FL time, but it’s still an early 7:30 here. Time for food! And what a treat! Krissy had a halibut special and I had award-winning baby back ribs. I also had a cup of cajun chicken chowder which was spicy and flavorful (can’t go to a place with chowde in the name and not try a cup of chowder!). We both had a pint of their local brewed amber which was smooth and tasty. For dessert, we had an immense slice of Butterfinger ice cream cake. It was a fantastic meal.
So its about 7:30am the next morning. Krissy is sleeping in as usual. Today will be our first jaunt into the city to really see some of what Seattle has to offer!