Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Northwest travels - further north

The second week of our vacation/trip seemed busier, maybe because we did not have 'home-base' like Seattle offered us.  It would be hard to describe Bellingham, WA, as a busy or hectic place, however!  That was our first stop north and we spent a few days there with my cousin.  Bellingham is a good-sized town with plenty of charm and lots of recreational activities!  While we were there, it was also a bit chilly and rained on-and-off - we couldn't believe that the high on the first day of summer was in the upper 50's!  Bellingham has also been in focus over the past few months because of a coal train controversy that has environmental implications (of the negative sort).

While in Bellingham, we took plenty of naps and explored some of what the town had to offer (a great Co-op grocery store and Saturday market).  We also beat the rain, sort of, and hiked up to Fragrance Lake, a nice little place in the Chuckanut Mountains (not the Cascades!).  It started to rain on us, but because of the canopy that the huge trees created, we barely got wet!  The trail - like all of the others that we experienced on the trip - was so well-mainained and easy to walk on.  Really nice!  We also took my cousin's dog along for the hike which made it more fun for us. I was obviously hopeful for sunshine, but the jacket served me better than the sunglasses.

After B-ham, we drove north last Sunday with my cousin and her niece.  Destination: Canada!  Vancouver, to be precise, which is about an hour from my cousin's house.  Crazy!  We spent most of Sunday exploring the University of BC's botanical gardens and the Museum of Anthropology.  The Museum of Anthropology (or MOA) was amazing!  It has a terrific collection of Pacific Northwest art and artifacts, and we spent hours wandering through the collection.  We especially enjoyed all of the totem poles - so cool!  

After the museums on Sunday, Monday was full explorations of different neighborhoods in Vancouver.  We started out with Stanley Park and just saw a tiny bit of it - what a terrific urban park!  We spent some time enjoying the view of the water, and then decided that we were too cold!  So, we took a walk around a lake and tried to not step in goose poop (that was a challenge!).  We also some idiots feeding a raccoon!  Seriously, who does that?!  I was secretly hoping that we'd see the raccoon bite the tourist, but that did not happen.  

After Stanley Park, we exhausted ourselves as we went to Granville Island (which is not an island) and ate lunch and explored some of the art studios that sold very expensive stuff!  Then, we went on to the Chinatown and Gastown neighborhoods.  I was clearly a great tour guide for the group (note the look of intense concentration on my face):

We did pretty well seeing everything that we wanted, except that I was determined to hit up a cool bar with a great beer selection.  Our trusty Lonely Planet guide book recommended the Alibi Room in Gastown, and we found it, ready to drink some brew!  It did not open until 5:00 pm, however, which did not work with our schedule.  You can see my frustration as I shook my fist at the bar!  I mean, honestly, a bar that doesn't open until 5:00?  Where were we?   

Dinner did compensate, somewhat, my failure as a drinking tour guide for the group.  We returned to Chinatown and ate at Bao Bei, which is described as a Chinese brasserie.  On the way back to our hotel, we stopped by Stanley Park again for some final views of the mountains, the Lion's Gate Bridge and more totem poles!

I'm pretending to be an out-of-focus eagle here.

Vancouver almost marked the end of our travels - we had one more stop, Leavenworth, WA, a faux-Bavarian 'village' in the heart of the central Cascades in WA.  The town is one of the biggest tourist traps I've ever experienced in my life, but the mountains around the town are gorgeous - pointy and dramatic.  We were there to visit family friends who are pretty inspirational, a word that I try to not over-use.  I would consider them true outdoorsy-people, even at age 74 and 64.  I hope that I can be as full of life and good humor as I grow older as these people are.  It was hard to say good-bye to them on Wednesday, as we headed south, back home, greeted by our own little family, Gus and Milo.

The trip as a whole - well, I keep repeating myself as I think about how lucky we were to see beautiful places, but we felt especially fortunate to see so many good friends (and family members that we like!).  
We left plenty of stones unturned, places to which we want to return, hikes that we could not take, time that ran out on us.  But, it was such a perfect trip the way that it was, and I'm so grateful that we had this opportunity!


kilax said...

That sounds like my kind of trip! And I cannot believe that you went someplace cold! It seems like every place is so hot hot hot right now (just saying it is hard to believe anywhere is cold, even though common sense tells me better).

We have a few friends that are really active in their age (like your friends that you visited) and I also feel inspired by them. I hope to be like that when I am older!

Kristina said...

Kim - it was an awesome trip! Yeah, we couldn't believe the temperatures everywhere else while we were pulling on our fleeces.