Monday, September 1, 2014

pacific northwest trip....part two

If you didn't already read my last post about the first two days of my trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park....go here.

My favorite day of the trip may have been described in that post, but plenty more fun was had in the second half of my trip, too....

Day Three- Vancouver

Since we knew ahead of time how close we would be to the Canadian border, my sister and I made sure to get our passports renewed before the trip.

Out with the with the new...

Being from Michigan, I've been to the eastern part of Canada a few times, but that was also before passports were required.  I've always wanted to see Vancouver, and this was the perfect chance.

It was a long drive from our hotel in Washington (just south of the national park) up to the long wait at the border (about an hour)....but finally around lunchtime we made it to a small town across the border called White Rock.

If you've seen the TV show "Psych"....this is the location of the Psych office (where the two main characters work), which is actually the town museum.  The front window on the corner was covered with the "Psych" window...probably to make it easier for consistency when filming over the years.

The shoreline and pier near the building are two locations they used to make it look like they're in Santa Barbara, since most of the show is actually filmed in Vancouver.

 When we were there, the tide was really low so there was a larger shore near the water.

This boardwalk, right in front of the "Psych Office" was definitely in some episodes.

Thanks to my nephew who loved "Psych" from the beginning, I've watched all of the seasons over the past couple years. When we found out how close we were going to be to filming locations, we "had" to stop.  :)

The town of White Rock is built on pretty steep terrain....they have some seriously steep hills going up into those neighborhoods...but I bet everyone has great views of the water!

Next....we traveled through downtown Vancouver (SOOOOOO congested- it took forever to get through the downtown area) and finally made it to one of our destinations for the day.

 We saw that this was one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver, so we had to see why.

For the price of admission, you can walk the main 450 foot long suspension bridge and a separate "Cliff Walk" that both cross hundreds of feet above the Capilano River.  There's also a fun "Treetop Adventure" where you walk shorter suspension bridges that connect trees, and lots of other activities available for all ages.  If you like outdoorsy stuff  and are not afraid of heights, this is a great place to visit!

When you start on one can't really see the end of the other side!  So fun.

Looking down on the river from one side...

And the other side....I had to hold on to the side because of how shaky that bridge gets.  Taking a picture  while you're on the middle of the bridge was pretty risky, but I had to try!

Going through the "Treetop Adventures"....bridges and stairways connecting huge Douglas Fir trees.  One thing I loved about this place is how much they were dedicated to protecting nature.  They figured out how to build all of these bridges and structures around the trees, so they were not damaged in the process.

Stopping for a break on the other side of the big bridge....looking over at people crossing it.

On the Cliff Walk....a little easier to take photos because the structure was suspended but not shaky.
The perfect spot to get a clear view of the huge forests and mountains in the area.

Looking down below to the river....and you may even be able to spot a waterfall down there.
Kind of gives you perspective of how high we were.

After a filling late lunch, we left this park....and drove to another. :)

If you've traveled to Vancouver, you probably visited Stanley Park at some point.
It's a huge park outside of the downtown area, spreading out for 1000 acres of nature goodness.

Not knowing much about where to go in this huge park, we just picked one "end" of the area to park and just started walking. 
English Bay to the left of the boardwalk where we started walking

 If I ever go back, I think I'd park closer to the forested/nature trail area so that I could enjoy more of those trails.  By the time we got to that area, we had already walked for a LOOOONG time, and we knew our parking meter was going to expire soon if we didn't turn back.

Lesson learned.

We did get to walk the forest trails for about 45 minutes, so it was better than nothing.
So wouldn't know that you were so close to a large city.

This was the "Lost Lagoon" that we stumbled upon while hiking the was so pretty there!

One other lesson I learned from this day.....bring water when hiking for hours.
I know....that probably seems obvious....but I forgot.
When we got back to the car, my hands were swollen and I was getting lightheaded-- dehydration is not a pretty thing!

After the long day outdoors, and the long drive ahead of us....we once again crashed almost immediately after getting to our hotel that night.  Luckily, we thought ahead and crossed the border at a different spot on the way back...shorter lines!

Day Four- Portland

Our first stop of the day was actually Kalama, Washington.  As we were driving down the highway, I saw the name of the city on a sign and remembered something from my "research" while we were in Forks two days earlier.  We stopped here....
Okay, Twilight fans....recognize this place?  It's the outside of "Forks High School" from the movies.

Yep....I was that crazy fan who was in an empty high school parking lot taking pictures and saying "it looks just like in the movie!"  And no...I'm not a teenager. I just sometimes act like one.  :)

Finally, we arrived in Portland (where my sister's friend lives) and she took us to one of her favorite places in her new city-- Washington Park.

Going along with the theme of the trip.....beautiful scenery, and lots of hiking opportunities!

It was in the high 90's and muggy that day, so unfortunately it was very hazy.  Which meant we couldn't really get a good view of all of these volcanoes, which on a clear day you can see from this spot.

Luckily, I had seen most of them (Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood) on our travels the days before, so it wasn't a huge deal. 
I just didn't get a good look at Mount St. Helens, which I was hoping to see.

Oh no....I guess I just have to go back someday.  Such a bummer.
(sarcasm font is needed)

Hiking through the woods in the park was the only way we could somewhat escape the heat, but there was no way around being hot and sweaty that day.  I did remember to bring a huge bottle of water though!!

Portland is dubbed the "City of Roses"....and they had this free rose garden you could go through right in the park.  It was definitely the perfect place to "stop and smell the roses".  ;)

They also have a Japanese Garden and Zoo in the park, which I've heard are great in their own right. However, they both had admission prices and with the limited time we had, we decided to go with free places on the last day of our trip.  

 A few close up shots I got of the pretty roses.

I'm proudest of this shot....only because I have a crazy fear of bees.
Look closely at the center of the flower to see what I mean.

After spending a long time in the park, and stopping for lunch, we drove to the Columbia River gorge and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. 
Apparently, Multnomah Falls is also the most visited attraction in Oregon.

I couldn't even get the entire waterfall in one's just that tall.

It's not the widest or loudest waterfall I've ever seen, but definitely the tallest.
And being able to stand on a pedestrian bridge and feel the mist from the falls was pretty cool.
Which felt great on this crazy hot day!

Looking down off the bridge onto the Lower Falls.

 And finally....our last stop in Portland was at Rocky Butte.
It's actually an extinct volcanic cinder cone that they turned into a city park, as well as the perfect spot to look down on the city of Portland.  

Kind of like the Space Needle is to Seattle, the Rocky Butte is to Portland.  Only it's not a building.  And not as tall.  And it's free.  And there isn't a wait.

Which was the perfect way to end our last night....a simple spot to look out on the city.
And just as the sun started setting, too....

Again...hazy day meant we couldn't see all of the mountains in the distance as we could on a clear day.

The top of the observation area was a fun spot for kids to run kid was doing laps.  :)

Mount Rainier is out there....somewhere....hard to see through the haze!  :(

Good night, Portland!

And goodbye, Pacific Northwest......I miss you already!

my whirlwind tour of the pacific northwest...part one

A little background for those who don't know me well....

*I love traveling to new places
*I love flying in planes
*I don't get to do either very often
(teacher salary + paying down debt = lack of travel funds)

A wonderful aunt of mine recently passed away, and a couple weeks ago when she was still able to have full conversations with us, she told me about how she had traveled to every state except for two.  As she said, it was one "regret" she had that she didn't get to all fifty.  Someday....I'll find a way to travel to those two states for her.  And I'm sure Aunt Marie will be with me in spirit.

When we got back from our trip, the first thing she asked me was "How was your trip?".   I gave her a quick recap, gushing how gorgeous it was there, and showed her several pictures on my phone.  So, in honor of my Aunt Marie who loved to travel and who I'm named after (Marie is my middle name), I'm going to share some of my favorite things about my way-too-short trip to the Pac NW. 

As I posted on's my trip by the numbers:

Four Days.
Three Major Cities.
Two Countries.
One National Park.

All photos were taken on my iPhone 4s, since I always had my phone with me and was constantly in awe of the beauty around me....and I think I came back from this four-day trip with about 400 more pictures on my phone.  

Let's just say....I won't be showing you everything.

But honestly, photos can't truly capture what it is like to be there.
There's just something about being there.....surrounded by landscapes and environments I've never seen in person, breathing in the clean air, listening to the gentle sounds of was just magical.

And....although you'll only see me in any of the pictures, I promise I didn't take this trip alone.  ;)

I went with my sister and for a couple days we met up a friend of hers that lives in that area....but they are both "off the grid" kind of people, so I didn't think I should post pictures of them on a public blog.

At O'Hare airport....I found a Coke bottle with my name on it.
And I paid over three dollars for it.  
I really needed some caffeine.
And I love Coke.


There was a delay on one of our connecting flights, which....long story short....meant we actually got switched to an earlier flight into Seattle.  Although that also meant we were split up on the plane.

Luckily, we got in two hours earlier than expected...early enough to explore the city for a couple hours before we had to drive to our hotel in Olympia.  
Even though my sister had been to Seattle before, I had not.  So we did the tourist-y thing. 

First, we parked near the Seattle Center and the Space Needle, took the monorail to get closer to downtown and walked to the famous Pike Place Market.  We had a few samples of delicious local food, and actually were there just in time to have dinner at one of the fish stands who cooked up fresh fish.

My sister's dinner....the whole trout....staring back at her.
Deep fried goodness.
I got a less-impressive-looking fish and chips combo.  Still delicious.

We then took the monorail back to the Space Needle and waited around for our trip up to a 360 degree view of the city.  Totally worth the money....and the wait.

Mount Rainier peeking up in the distance.  We saw it from Seattle, Portland, and driving through other parts of this area.  It was even peeking up above the clouds when we flew in that afternoon! It's a presence that can't be missed.

There was some boat race going on that evening....pretty fun to watch from up above.

We stayed in the Olympia/Lacey area of Washington that night....and woke up with a view of the tallest trees I've ever seen in a hotel parking lot!  Notice the tops of the trees aren't even shown in this picture.

Day Two....Olympic National Park

This was my favorite day of the trip....easily.
When I read info before going here about how this park is basically "three parks in one"....I knew it would be awesome.  Actually being there to witness these things in person....priceless.

A Rainforest.
Ocean Tidepools.

Words can't describe.

You would think I was a crazy person who had just been plopped down onto a different planet or  something.   I kept saying "NO WAY!" "OHMIGOODNESS!" or "It's just so PRETTY!!"

Good thing I don't care too much about what strangers think of me.  :)

And now....a few of my favorite pictures. I say a few because I took over a hundred that day.
Not exaggerating.

After stopping at the Welcome Center near Port Angeles, we took the crazy winding road up the mountains to the Hurricane Ridge stop.  

At one point, we had to stop so I could take a few pictures from the side of the road because I didn't want to run off the road from trying to look up and over at the mountains.

We went on a couple hikes in this area, and I could definitely feel the change in elevation. I had to walk a little slower than normal, and stop to catch my breath more often. 
I guess you could say it was literally breathtaking.

Looking back at the Hurricane Ridge information center and the Olympic Mountains!

Loved all of these mountain trails- such an exhilarating adventure!

Next stop was Lake Crescent....a gorgeous, glacially-carved lake among the mountains.

The water was pretty cold, but a few brave souls were jumping in for a quick dip.

From here, we drove to the small nearby town of Forks for dinner.
And a few dorky photos.
Yes, Twilight fans....*that* Forks....home of Bella and Edward.

Bella's trucks.  ;)

We stopped for a late lunch at Pacific Pizza....who had a lot of Twilight-inspired menu items.

It was a quick stop in Forks, but enough to satisfy my YA-fiction-fan-geekiness.

From there, we drove to my favorite FAVORITE stop of the day....
The Hoh Rainforest!!

The tall trees, over 200 feet high, provided a canopy for the rest of the rainforest below.

One of the trails, the "Hall of Mosses" was like stepping into a different world.  I kept saying I felt like I was on some futuristic, sci-fi movie set.  Like some blue Avatar creatures were going to pop out at any time.

Everywhere we walked there was evidence of the interdependence and competition in a rainforest.....huge logs that had fallen many years ago that are now the feeding ground for other living things.

Another trail took us through a less "mossy" part of the rainforest, but just as beautiful.  This also led us to the Hoh River, with more gorgeous mountain views from the river.   I wished we could have stayed and set up camp was so relaxing and we were blessed with the absolute BEST weather that day!

Selfie #2.  :)

We had one more stop we wanted to make that the Pacific Ocean to see some tide pools and hopefully get there in time for the sunset.
We made it!

The closest spot to stop was Ruby Beach, and it didn't disappoint.

After it started getting pretty dark, we made the late drive to our hotel for the night (a few hours away) since we had a long drive ahead of us the next morning.

And more about my next post!  :)