Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pacific Northwest Part 4 -- Seattle

Bob and I concluded our trip with a couple fun days in Seattle. Super city! Since it was our first time to this town, we did what most tourists do.

Pike Place Market, aka the fish market

Besides fish, they sell just about everything there. Loved these berries and wreaths made from peppers.

My favorite part of Pike Place was the incredible flower vendors. Huge beautiful bouquets for ten bucks.

As you can see, it's a colorful city. For example, the infamous "gum wall." How does something like this get started? And once it does, who decides it should be a tourist attraction?

We rode the giant ferris wheel. Awesome view from up there!

Of course, we went to the top of the Space Needle.

But by far, my favorite place in all of Seattle was the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Words cannot express the beauty of glass artist Dale Chihuly's work. Photos barely capture the awesomeness. No trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to Chihuly Garden, at the feet of the Space Needle.

This is a ceiling.

And there's an outdoor garden.

Other favorite things in Seattle: The Inn at El Gaucho, where we stayed. Surely one of Seattle's best kept secrets. And the Tap House Grill. 160 beers on tap!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pacific Northwest, Part 3 -- Victoria, British Columbia, Vancouver Island

From Port Angeles, we crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the Blackball Ferry into Victoria, B.C., Canada, on Vancouver Island. Before we even got off the boat, we could see that it’s a beautiful city, impeccably clean, with flower gardens and blooming hanging baskets at every turn. It is a very colorful city!

The British influence is evident. We toured the exquisite Parliament building.

And enjoyed High Tea at Huntingdon Manor.

We strolled downtown and discovered Chinatown . . .

and Bastion Square, where, among other vendors and artists, we met this man who makes beautiful art from pressing seaweed. Fascinating!

We also enjoyed this musician. Loved the sound, somewhat like a steel drum, but different. Does anyone know what this instrument is called?

Daria Duprey makes fabulous hats and sells them at Bastion Sq. I don’t buy a lot of souvenirs when on vacation. But I did buy one of her hats.

At Fisherman's Wharf, we saw seals and the cutest neighborhood of float homes.

If there’s a cat within a five mile radius, Bob will find it. And pet it.

We lodged at a delightful B&B called Dashwood Manor, which overlooks the strait. I recommend it.

The next day, we toured the historic mansion, CraigdarrochCastle.

Then drove up the east side of Saanich Peninsula to Sidney.

On the way, we stopped at the incredibly beautiful ButchartGardens. I have only one word. Flowers!

Forgive me for posting so many pics from the garden; I tried to restrain myself.

Random observations from this part of the world:

The people here are so active; walkers and bicyclers everywhere. And there is considerably less obesity.

Blackberries grow wild throughout the Pacific Northwest, like weeds, and the people seem to pay them no mind. Even think of them as a nuisance, something that takes over and needs to be eradicated. Bob and I gobbled them up wherever we saw them.

Based on the cleanliness of the city, less litter, rampant flower gardens and the upkeep of homes, I get the sense people here take a great deal of pride in their community.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Port Angeles and Olympic National Park

We left Eatonville, Washington and Mt. Ranier and headed for Port Angeles. A 20 minute ferry ride took us across Puget Sound and over to Olympic Peninsula. It rained that day while we were driving, and that was the only rain we experienced during our entire eleven days in the Pacific Northwest. Surprising, really. They have such a reputation for rain there. That first day on the peninsula was basically a travel day, but there were a few highlights. Like the lavender farm along the way.

I love lavender. I walked into the gift shop and the scent of lavender overwhelmed my senses. Lavender soaps, potpourri and sachets, lavender herbs and oils to cook with, body lotions and shampoos . . . heavenly. I was disappointed that I wasn’t the slightest bit hungry because they had lavender infused ice creams, and I would have loved to try one. Chocolate, of course.

We checked into our hotel, Olympic Lodge, and set off to explore the town and find something to eat. Port Angeles is on the northern edge of the peninsula on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It’s a small town, quaint, and complete with everything a small town needs. Organic grocers, dance studios and dress shops, books stores, antique stores, candy shops, Tee-shirts, souvenirs, restaurants and pubs. And of course, gardens.

There’s even an anime/manga shop, which our sons would have loved.

We ate dinner at a fabulous little place called Next Door Gastropub. They had great beers on tap and the most awesome bleu cheese fries. We watched a dart tournament on the television.

One of the things that caught me most off guard on the trip, being from the northeast originally and now the gulf coast, is how there are mountains so high they are snow-capped year around right next to the coastline. This is a shot of Port Angeles from the Strait, but the Pacific Coast is only around an hour west.

We would have loved to explore the mountainous areas of Olympic National Park – we heard Hurricane Ridge is a must-see – but we only had one full day in the area, and we had just come from Mt. Ranier, so we opted to drive to the Pacific Coast and hike through the Ozette area of the Park.

We knew we had a full day of driving and hiking, so we got an early start. A thick blanket of fog hugged the coastline.

We walked down this incredibly green and beautiful trail. Just like in the woods at Mt. Ranier, everything is covered in moss and ferns . . .

and fungi . . .

and banana slugs. They are a good four inches long.

We knew the trail ended at the beach. After three miles through the woods, yes, there it was. The Pacific Ocean.

It was low tide. We clamored over rocks slick with sea weed, ducked under or over dozens of fallen trees, whitewashed by the salt and surf, and explored tranquil tide pools.

After many miles on the beach, we walked back through the woods on a different trail. According to Bob’s Map My Hike app, we walked around 12 miles that day. I won’t lie. We were exhausted!

Sunlight slips past pines
Illuminating forest floor
Elves and fairies dance