Vancouver – a day in the park

The weather is perfect for a day in the park. I checked out my map and it did not look like a terribly long walk, so packed up my day bag and headed out. I think it turned out to be about a mile and a half but it was incredibly pleasant. High 60’s or low 70’s Fahrenheit and most of the walk was shady. When I reached Stanley park I picked a path through the woods. Man was it gorgeous!

I walked along until I came to what I think is called the Lost Lagoon. Amazing what I found. Canadian Geese in Canada!!! I’ve seen them in CT, NY, VA and even AZ and finally!!! I get to see them in Canada!

Beautiful aren’t they? I wandered through the woods until my path exited near “Second Beach”.

I guess an empty beach is what you get in Canada after Labor Day. Pretty though. At this point I figured I would follow the Sea Wall trail at least until I got to “third beach” . I lucked out to see a Sea Lion sunning her(his)self on a rock.

By the time I reached “3rd beach” I decided I was enjoying myself too much to cut inland so I continued on the sea wall walk. It was a really nice walk and the view was great. Before I rounded the point and left English Bay I did manage to get my feet wet.

Ah if those Keens could tell tales.

I stayed on the sea wall trail until I returned to semi-civilization and meandered up to the Stanley Park restaurant. I was seated on the patio and indulged in the Tomato Basil soup. As I was finishing, there was a commotion a few tables over and it seemed we had some uninvited, but quite welcome, guests. A four pack of juvenile racoons!

They really enjoyed the berries on that tree and only disrupted us in that everyone wanted a picture!

After the interlude I debated on taking the bus back to my hotel, but decided “what the heck” and went ahead and hiked my way back. My fit bit was ecstatic with my 8+ miles for the day.

After resting briefly back at my hotel, I went out to the Bootlegger for dinner which was again only a couple of blocks away. I had the pork chop special which was awesome!

I’ve been enjoying British Columbia, so I stopped at the desk and arranged to stay an extra night. So more Canadian tales for tomorrow!

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Linden,WA to Vancouver,BC

I woke up to yet another beautiful day.

Linden is a cute little town that was originally a Dutch settlement. The residents are proud of it and have built on that tradition. I had breakfast at Dutch Mother’s Cafe

But am afraid I had a ‘Very Veggie’ omelet and nothing very Dutch about it. The breakfast was very good and just what I was wanting. I spent the rest of the morning wandering about the Main Street of downtown – actually named Front St. It was decorated for Labor Day

I wandered further down the street where music was playing and someone was talking over a loudspeaker. Pushcart races. I had to stay and watch that.

Apparently losing a wheel or two is not grounds to stop, they were still expected to push the cart with its rider over the finish line. I did see one race where a cart lost a back wheel and yet they made it to the finish … last.

There was also a dunking booth, a fire truck for kids to ooh over and plenty of food. It was nice soaking up some Americana on Labor Day.

But it was noon and time to head for Canada. I filled up the tank with US gas and headed for the border. The B&B owner in Stevenson Lake had told me horror stories about spending up to 5 hours in line waiting to cross the border. I was barely back on I-5 before the signage informed me that the wait was <5 min. Of course I picked the short line which soon became the long line but even so I don’t think I was there more than maybe 7 minutes. I showed my passport and answered the standard questions. Since they ask if you’re carrying alcohol, I was wondering if they would also ask if I was carrying tobacco and/or cannabis. It seems like the restrictions should be the same for all 3. Well, I might not have expected them to ask that but I still think all 3 should be treated the same…. Well, the same as far as taxing and the like. I still support no smoking in a bar. It’s not like someone is going to get drunk by sitting next to be in a bar. But I digress.

The roads into Vancouver were moving along and I tried to accustom myself to reading the kmh instead of the mph dial but mostly just went with the flow of traffic. My hotel is in the downtown area so the driving got a little tougher as I got close. Like most cities, too many one-way streets. Also I had not thought ahead to realize there was not going to be a big empty parking lot next to the hotel. I went around a few blocks from the hotel and finally found surface parking. I got checked in and then moved my car to the nearby parking garage that had the 5th floor reserved for hotel parking.

The Moda hotel is smallish and just the kind I like in cities. The room is done in black and white with red accents. Everything within the room is clean and modern. On the ground floor of the building there is Trattoria, a wine bar, and a sports bar.

As it was only 2 by the time I got checked in I headed out on foot for the waterfront. I stopped to change some money and then headed down Granville street. There was a TaiwanFest going with several blocks cordoned off for the festivities.

The costumes of black tights and tops with a flannel shirt tied around the waist was unexpected by me at least – also many were sporting cowboy hats.

If you look straight down the street in the picture you will see the smoke stack of a cruise ship … geez those things are big! There were 2 of them in port that I saw once I walked down to the Canada Place port area. It made getting a picture across the water a bit of a challenge as they blocked a bunch of the view but I gave it my best shot anyway.

Based on my map, that’s North Vancouver on the other side of the water.

I enjoyed some leisurely walking along the waterfront for the remainder of the afternoon.

For dinner I headed to the Cinema Public House where I had the most amazing fish tacos paired with Driftwood Fat Tug IPA.

So I live in the desert SW and this was the second time I had incredibly awesome fish tacos in the Pacific NW. Obviously all about the fish!

Cascade Mts – day 2

With windows wide open for the breeze off the lake I slept better than I could remember. I woke up early and could see the early morning mist rising up off the water. A person could get used to that.

I enjoyed breakfast and some social time with the other folks staying at the B&B, contemplating my destination for the day as well as where I should spend the night. I decided that the Monte Cristo hike was more than I wanted for the day, but the Ice Caves sounded just about right. I had to rag Gary some on referring to the Monte Crisco hike as some subliminal urge for fried chicken (okay if you were born after the fifties or sixties you will have no idea about this reference but I’m sure you can google Crisco for details.)

I decided that I would spend one more night in the US before heading into Canada so after making that reservation I headed back to the Cascades and the Ice Caves Trailhead.

The Moutain Loop up to the Big Four Mountain in the Cascades and the Ice Caves trail. Again the Cascades were awe inspiring and truly beautiful. If Sirius XM radio could have penetrated the mountains and trees it would have been a perfect drive. The weather was clear and gorgeous. Since its the Sunday of Labor Day weekend there was a fair amount of traffic and a gazillion cars pulled over for every possible camping spot along the side of the road.

The first half of the trail up to the ice caves was very smooth and much of the terrain was pretty flat. The woods surrounding the trail were beautiful and even the downed trees were pretty awesome.

The second half of the trail was more uphill and more gravelly. I guess it had been subjected to periodic avalanches so maintenance didn’t lean to paved trails but it was well maintained and graveled. The trail criss-crossed a stream or two and through the trees were more and more glimpses of the mountain.

Eventually I made it to the Ice Caves.

Needless visitors were not supposed to get as close as those in this picture but at least they help establish perspective for the photo.

My FitBit thinks that the increase in elevation on the hike was around 230 feet and who am I to argue with my fit bit.?.

The hike back was mostly downhill and I stopped frequently to just inhale the scent of the woods, Heavenly! I love the smell of the desert, especially after it rains, but the smell of a forest is another smell too good to miss. I took my time and even when I reached the trails end sat for awhile and soaked it in.

I replaced my hiking shoes with my Keens and got back in the car for the return through the forest and the drive to Lynden.

The drive was uneventful and I arrived at my destination in the mid-afternoon. My reservation was at the Inn at Lynden which was in an historic building, a former department building. Exposed beams and original wood lath flooring. Even what appears to be original plaster on the bedroom walls.

The amenities, though were very upscale… even to the empty crowler that could be filled up at the Overflow Tap with your favorite beer with a 10% discount. Also helpful that the Overflo Tap was located on the ground floor of the same building. Since they didn’t brew their own, I had the Boneyard IPA … Boneyard is in Bend, OR. Just a hint grapefruity and very thirst quenching.

I had a quiet evening with a few beers and dinner at the Burnt End, famous for their burnt ends and ribs.

A Dash into the Cascades

I got caught up on my blog over coffee and then packed up and got back in the car. I had no clear destination so I set my GPS for a small town just outside the city and NOT on a freeway. I figured once out of heavy traffic I could pick a destination. I decided that I wanted to venture into the Cascade mountains, but further research found very few places to stay overnight. I eventually picked a B&B on Lake Stevens for days end, and then set my sites on US 2 and a drive through the mountains.

Since I had puttered and blogged away much of the morning, I put Yelp to work looking for an interesting spot for an early lunch. The Preservation Kitchen caught my eye. The signage for the restaurant was subdued so I missed it on my first pass, but it was well worth the about face.

It is a really nice venue. I’m guessing a converted house. On the second floor each of which must have been a bedroom is a separate dining area. I had their “chop salad” which included Gorgonzola and grilled chicken – which was fresh and moist with a hint of charcoal flavor. I paired it with a Sound to Summit IPA.

After filling up, I headed out for the woods and the Cascade mountains. The drive was gorgeous. Some areas reminded me a bit of rte 66 in that there were old classic cars… I saw a hot pink Fiero and a bright yello Pacer! Oh well maybe those aren’t really classics but they both stood out!

When I made it to an altitude of 5000 ft and the top of Stevens Pass I found myself at a ski resort. Thinking this would make a good rest stop, I pulled into the resort parking lot where I couldn’t help but notice that every other car was carrying mountain bikes. Sure enough, the resort stays in business as a mountain bike haven. They have a ski lift that has alternating passenger and bike racks. Then you get to ride your bike down the mountain.

In addition to the bike park it was just a very scenic spot.

I enjoyed a nice walk around before heading back down the mountain towards my B&B at Stevens Lake.

I thought my phone GPS had let me down and I drove around for a bit but it turned out that a) the street sign was mislabeled and b) the GPS thought the inn was on the other side of the street. I finally stopped and asked directions and the lady that I asked happened to live next door to the Inn so I made it safe and sound.

It’s a pretty unusual building. According to the story, the guy that had it built saw a similar picture on a jigsaw puzzle and took it to an architect to build. He had stained glass windows and all kinds of specialty items put in and as soon as it was built skipped town without paying for most of it. The current owners rent out 6 rooms and have an apartment for themselves and apartment for the mother, and an extra studio not currently rented. A total of 14 bathrooms!!!!! To be cleaned daily!!!

Rod and Tracy run a great space. I loved it. We spent the evening out on the patio in front of the fire pit chatting and laughing. The cool night air from the lake made me sleepy and thus this post is showing up a day late…..

Oh yes – I had an enjoyable dinner at LJ’s Bistro in Lake Stevens where I had Jambalaya and a pint of Deschuttes Fresh squeezed. I sat at the bar and had some good conversation and plenty of laughs.

Zgal – Seattle still

In the morning I brewed a half pot of coffee in the community kitchen and had a lovely chat with a couple visiting the US from Wales. After reviewing the materials left out on the table regarding public transportation in Seattle, I went to the Park N Ride lot and jumped on the #41 express bus to downtown. Naturally just as I got in line to get my Orca transit pass, I saw a #41 pull out of the terminal, but in less than 10 minutes another pulled in and we were on our way.

I got off the bus at the first stop and enjoyed a 15 minute walk to Pike Place Market.

Holey Moley!!! The hype does not do it justice. I did not see anyone throwing fish around but there was a lot of it! Also produce and flowers. Just walking past the flowers was a heady experience. I could have just stood there all day breathing it in. Heavenly.

The fish areas were equally aromatic but not something I could quite get into smelling all day long.

Not as aromatic but I think the produce made the prettiest display

Of course there were shops selling everything under the sun from T-shirts to jewelry to leather goods to soap to pretty much everything you never knew you needed until you saw it there.

It would be easy to spend all day there. In addition to all of the shops there are restaurants with views of Puget Sound and of course, my favorite, a brewery. A stop at Old Stove Brewing Company.

I enjoyed a rest top there with a bowl of chowder and a Tiger Shark Pale Ale.

After some more browsing I hiked down to the waterfront and continued with the pastime of people watching and just enjoying the vibe. Eventually I made it down to pier 50 to buy a ticket on the Bremerton ferry. This had been suggested to me by my server at Magnuson’s the night before as a more economical way of touring Puget Sound. Instead of spending $60 on a tour boat, I spent $4.75 on a round trip to Bremerton – an hour each way with a town to wander in the middle. (Okay that’s over $8 for the younger set). It was a beautiful day to spend on the water.

Neither hot nor cold and the sun was more out than in. I got some nice pictures and idled some time wondering where the container ship coming out from Seattle was going as well as enjoying the variety of housing along the shore.

I had a nice wander in Bremerton and enjoyed a BLT on sourdough at Anthony’s where I could look at the water and see when my returning ferry arrived and leave me plenty of time to walk over to it and back on board.

It was a great day and by the time I walked back through Seattle and to the the Westlake transit tunnel to pick up the #41 back to Northgate I realized I was pretty tired.

I do like to wander!

Zgal explores the Pacific NW – Seattle

Ahhhh Seattle! What a welcome change from 100+ weather in Tucson in August! Home of cool weather, the Space Needle, Pike Place market and Starbucks… and apparently lots of great craft beer.

I thought I was doing good to get a non-stop flight from Tucson to Seattle arriving mid-afternoon but there was a line for the shuttle to the rental car facility and then another line at the rental car facility. The rental car guy did his best to to get me to spend an extra $20/day for an SUV but I held firm and he eventually upgraded my Nissan Versa to a Nissan Sentra for no extra money….well done z-gal! Of course by then it was rush hour traffic on I-5 but I cranked up the Sirius XM radio … the Pulse (ch 15) and worked my way out to Northgate and my lodging out on NE 125th.

So I walked into my lodging and looked around wondering where I was. The outside matched the photos on the Air BnB site as well as the ones sent to me by the owners. I punched in the security code and wandered down the hall looking for room 6 (out of 8). There was a big kitchen/dining area that was obviously shared and periodically rooms with numbers on them. Somewhat to my dismay I started seeing lettered restrooms as I walked down the hall. Had I booked a room with just shared bathroom? Huh! Oh well only 2 nights, I could deal. I found my room and the key contained in the lock box. Just a plain room with a double bed, small closet and nothing else. Well it would do. After all the coffee I drank on the plane I went to avail myself of bathroom C right across the hall. Washing my hands as mom taught me, I noticed no towels.. shaking my hands out I went back to my room and went on a search and still … no towels. Gave in and dried my hands on my jeans – time honored habit, but not taught to me by my mom (who hated jeans). Finally called the landlords who spoke with me almost not understanding… ‘you are in room 6?’ Yes, I am, ‘no towels in your private bath?’ My what?! Ohhhhh that door I thought connecting to another room was actually my private bath?! Color me embarrassed. (Generally that’s a pink to bright red color and I think in this instance a bright pink was there, but thank goodness no one was there to see.)

Any way the room was comfortable and extremely clean. No A/C but none needed with the window open to the night air, in this pleasant residential neighborhood.

It was 5 o’clock by the time by the time I settled in and my breakfast bagel was a long time ago so I opened up the ever helpful Yelp app and searched out BrewPubs. Magnuson’s looked like the place to be for my first night as it was close and sits on the shore of Lake Washington. I sat outside to enjoy the view in the balmy 72 degree temp.

The shadow in the bottom right corner with legs crossed is me.

I highly recommend the fish tacos made from Alaskan cod with an awesome guajillo baja sauce. I paired that with a delish pale ale.

After enjoying my dinner I strolled up and down the shore watching the after-work crown out enjoying themselves – kids illicitly jumping into the lake off the pier (right over the sign that said no diving/jumping), sailboats on the water and quite a few kayaks. And to wrap up my evening, I had to get my feet wet in Lake Washington.

Icons of London

As I travel away from London I feel like a wrap up post of London iconic images might be fun. Of course one of the most iconic is the phone booth, amazingly still in use.

Then there is the mailbox. This one surprised me since I thought that ‘franking’ went out in the early 20th century.

Staying with the red theme, the double decker bus must be included, although some are now shrinkwrapped with advertising as we see all over America.

And of course, the Beefeater guard.

Abandoning the red theme, Big Ben immediately comes to mind.

and of course Westminster Abbey.

and speaking of religious edifices, don’t forget St Paul’s cathedral

and then the Globe theater

There are so many sites, I could keep this up endlessly but I think that I will wrap this up with one image that reflects the London of yore and a final image that reflects London of today. you may have to look closely at the contemporary image to catch it.

The old ( tower of London)

And the new ( from Trafalgar square)

Hint — the traffic signals.

Oh yes, my favorite beer from the trip was BrewDog Punk IPA

The other side of a Software Engineer