Image

The last 48 hours – or back to reality.

Sunday started with a quick trip to the grocery store for water and a few other items. We opted for the All Canadian grocery store across the street from the hotel. It was enormous, good prices, and a huge selection. It reminded us of a classier Wal-Mart. We got in the checkout line, and the total was $23 Canadian and change. Mom hands the cashier $25 US. She had to punch a few more keys to have the machine convert to US$ total, which was about $17. The cashier is still holding Mom’s $25. When she keyed in the amount of money tendered, she keyed in $40, not $25. I quickly let her know we’d given her $25, not $40. It then took 2 store managers to try to figure out how to correct the mistake without voiding the transaction. Long story short – the transaction was voided and redone, and we were on our way south.

The sky looked a bit overcast and gray as we started, but soon cleared. Could we be so lucky as to avoid rain yet another day? We crossed back into the US a little after 11AM. A quick stop for gas as I’d forgotten to check the fuel level before we left Thunder Bay, changed the settings from metric to US, and we drove the short distance to our first stop, the Grand Portage National Monument. An incredible historic fur trading site that has live demonstrations and docents to answer any and all questions.

We had no cell phone signal for the GPS, so we reverted to good old fashioned map reading for about an hour. Beautiful views of Lake Superior all along the drive.

It felt like there was more traffic, but we were on a 2 lane state highway, and the North Shore area of Lake Superior is a vacation destination. It thinned out a bit the further south we went. The scenery changed from lake views to vast rolling hills of farmland as we entered Wisconsin. We checked into the hotel in Eau Clair about 6:30PM, and took a short drive to an area restaurant that sounded good. Unfortunately, they weren’t open, so back to the restaurant near the hotel, Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill. It worked for two ladies who were probably a little more road weary than they thought or would admit!

Monday dawned sunny and bright. Our last day on the road. We were both glad we’d opted to bring in the bare minimum the night before as the elevator was being serviced. Two trips down the stairs and we were loaded and ready to go. First stop was The Paul Bunyan Logging Camp and Museum. Another fun, educational and interactive museum. We learned a lot about the early days of logging, and I learned my paternal great-grandfather was a logger in New Hampshire. The museum is supported and run by the local Kiwanis Club. They do an excellent job, and really bring the story of Paul Bunyan to life. I read the book many times growing up, and now need to reread it with the background information I now have.

It was time to hit the road for the final leg of Road Trip 2018. A quick stop at a local liquor store to purchase some New Glarus Brewing Spotted Cow. This beer and brewing company have a cult-like following, and you can only buy it in Wisconsin. No, I didn’t plan the trip through WI just so I could bring some home, but it was a happy coincidence. You also can’t be in Wisconsin and not stop for cheese! (Although my travel partner this trip would disagree.) We saw the sign for Humbird along the freeway, and we needed to fill the gas tank anyway. A great little place with a really nice gift shop.

The terrain continued to flatten out, and we were soon in very familiar surroundings. We realized that other than the last 5 or so miles of the drive, we had avoided duplicating roads and freeways. One BIG loop around the US and Canada!

Had to add the miles I accidentally cleared when we stopped in the Rockies!

I still have a little over 600 miles to go tomorrow to get home. If I include the miles that I drove to get to the starting point, I will log in excess of 6,600 miles in a three week period. I think I will stay close to home for a few months! At least until October, anyway, when the next big adventure begins…

Image

Au revoir, Canada.

Tonight is our last night in Canada…ça a été un merveilleux voyage. It has been a wonderful trip! I can now add driving almost completely across Canada to my completed travel list. It will take some time for the past week to settle in my mind and memories. We have had wonderful conversations with Canadians across the provinces, and we truly appreciated their hospitality and kindness.

The other thing I completed this trip was driving across all 4 time zones and back. We crossed into Eastern Daylight Time today a little after 7PM. It’s nice to be back in my “home” time zone, but tomorrow we’ll be back in CDT once we get back to the US.

Today we opted to pass on breakfast at the hotel and get a jump on the drive. We stopped for lunch in Kenora, ON. Lake Kenora is one of the largest lakes in the area, and a big vacation destination. Beautiful area, and when you’re essentially landlocked, this is a great spot to spend a hot, summer weekend! (The cooler temperatures we anticipated have eluded us. It has been in the upper 80’s – low 90’s every day.)

Scenic tours by seaplane

I took a break from driving for a bit and was able to get a few photos as we passed Lake Peggy.

The traffic was about typical for one of our roadtrips. Getting back to Atlanta traffic will be a shock!

We landed in Thunder Bay, Ontario a little after 8PM. We unwound, attempted to find a place other than the restaurant next door that was open, but ended up back at the hotel restaurant. Oh well! When it’s 9:30PM and you’ve been traveling for 8+ hours, just about anything will satisfy hunger.

Au revoir, Canada. Merci beaucoup. ‘Til we meet again…in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island if I plan things right!

Image

Momma and her babies – wildlife, part 2

The wonderful thing about vacations is you can sleep until you feel like getting up…and if there are no big plans for the day, you may just sleep in a bit longer than you usually might. Welcome to my world for the last 2 weeks. I am beginning to dread having to wake up to an alarm clock again in 10 days. Needless to say, today was yet another leisurely start. We ate a “real” breakfast of eggs and all the fixings in the hotel restaurant, loaded the car and hit the road. Today was the start of a few long drive days as we make the final stretch across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and bit of Ontario. We started the day off visiting the Elizabeth II Gardens across from the Regina Legislature building. A lovely park with so much to see and do. There were walking/biking paths around the lake, beautiful gardens and lawns, and water sports (kayaking, sailing and crewing).

Nice too see Canadian geese in Canada, too!

It was in the upper 80’s today (about 29 C) so we didn’t meander for too long. As we ventured eastbound on Trans-Canadian Highway 1, I saw a few signs for “Scenic Route.” I passed a few of them, then looked over and asked “Are you game?” Off we went the next exit to explore the road less taken. If it wasn’t meant to be explored they wouldn’t have signs on the highway, right?

A two lane road that wove through field after field of canola. The color of these flowers is almost unnatural, yet it is clearly part of nature.

Lake Katepwa was the next highlight. A great vista point for photos, and a chance to throw away the week old cherries we’d been carrying with us.

GPS told us to make a right turn onto County Road 612, so we did. Seems we are destined for “off-roading” this trip! While the speed limit was 80 KPH, I kept it around 40 – we were not familiar with the area, I really didn’t want to change a flat tire, nor deal with a cracked windshield. My apologies to the few cars who passed us and clearly knew where they were going. It was worth every minute it added to today’s drive.

As we made our way back to the highway, we were treated to a moose crossing. Momma and two babies crossed the road in front of us. Unfortunately we were far enough away, and they were fast enough, that we couldn’t get a good photo. We did appreciate the fact that both times we’ve “off-roaded” this trip we got to see wildlife up close and personal. Sheep in Colorado, moose in Saskatchewan.

We crossed into Manitoba a little after 3PM. I was in need of a pit stop and stretch, so we stopped in a few little towns and drove right on through as they were really little, and we were playing tag with a Canadian Pacific train. In Virden we did stop and tried to find the visitor center. While we didn’t find it, we did find the old train station and Alexandra Hotel across the street. If you closed your eyes you could picture people of old disembarking from the train and heading across the street to the hotel.

We hit the western edge of Winnipeg about 7:30PM, and were checked into the hotel about 25 minutes later. We are right in the heart of the University of Winnipeg. Across the street is a Hudson Bay Traders store. We were going to check it out in the morning, but based on recent reviews, we’ll hit the road instead and settle for a photo.

It was a pleasant surprise to look out our window and see our second Canadian legistature building for the day.

Tomorrow is our longest drive day at about 7 1/2 hours. It is time to wrap up today’s adventure and rest so we make it safely to Ontario.

Image

It’s not the yellow brick road or the yellow mustard road, Toto. It’s the canola road.

For two days we have felt like we were following the yellow brick road, but it was a beautiful crop of yellow something that stretched for acres. It looked remarkably like mustard, so that’s what we thought it was. We found out tonight from our wonderful waitress that it is canola. Yellow and blue canola is one of Alberta and Saskatchewan’s main crops. File that away in the memory bank for future reference! It was still a beautiful sight today on our way to Regina.

We started the day with a short walk through Medicine Hat. A quaint town with great shops, restaurants and public art work. It was a bit warmer than usual, so our walk was rather limited. We stumbled upon the Inspire Cafe for what we hoped would be a late breakfast, but it turned out to be an early lunch. Mom had tomato garlic soup and a curried egg salad sandwich on raisin bread. I had curried lentil soup and fried egg and cheese sandwich. We got there just before the lunch crowd arrived, and they were doing a very steady business when we left. Great art work on display and for sale around the cafe, and artists’ studios/work areas beyond the cafe.

We finally stopped at the stop light near this hotel so I could get a picture. We passed it at least 3 times on our back and forth to various places yesterday, and it made me smile. I can just picture the 1940’s – 1950’s, maybe even 1960’s, when this would have been one of the top spots in the area.

We crossed into Saskatchewan a little while later, and decided a stretch break was needed as we approached Swift Current. We parked the car and began walking down Center Avenue when I spotted a gift store. We meandered the store for a while, and I found perfect mementos for several on my list. It was early afternoon, and a rather warm day for these parts, so we opted to hit the car and continue our drive.

A bit west of Swift Current we spotted what initially loooked like a herd of goats on the side of the road. As we got closer, we both did double takes, and it took us a moment to realize it was a herd of alpacas. Given it was still 80+ degrees fahrenheit, we opted not to stop and check out the alpaca goods for sale. A short bit later as we approached Lake Chaplin, we saw what appeared to be mounds of snow. I knew in this heat it definitely was not snow, but neither of us had a clue what the piles of “white stuff” were. I surmised salt or lime as a small tractor to my left was making its way up a pile. Mark that down as something to research when we get to the room tonight…

We stopped at the Tourist Information location outside Moose Jaw for a rest stop and information on Regina. Canadian tourist/information stops are such fun. Each one we have stopped at has information about the surrounding area (think school project, state fair type displays), and a variety of local goods for sale. A great place to get a feel for the area, decide if you’ll stop and for how long, or just sample the local fare and keep going. We learned the piles of “white stuff” by Lake Chaplin were potash. Canda is the world’s largest potash producer and exporter, and the bulk of the industry is in Saskatchewan. Potash is one of the main ingredients of fertilizer.

We each picked up a few gift items, and decided it was time for a bit of local gelato. We both opted for Saskatoon berry. I still need to taste an actual Saskatoon berry before we leave – it looks a bit like a blueberry, but the gelato was definitely sweeter than that. Not sure if that was due to added sugar, or if it really is that sweet. I did buy a rather pricey jar of mustard believing that the yellow fields we were passing were, in fact, mustard. Oh well. I can make a lot of mustard sauces over the coming months if needed! A stop here is not complete without a photo of Mac the Moose.

We arrived in Regina early evening. The hotel had glasses and bottles of wine 50% off, so we opted for an elevator ride to dinner tonight. We shared a bottle of montepuliciano and a charcuterie plate, reminisced about the past 2 weeks and many decades, and had fabulous conversations with our waitress. Definitely a day and night for the memory books.

Before we head out of town tomorrow we plan to tour the Legislative Building and Queen Elizabeth II’s Gardens. We will cross into our 4th Canadian province sometime tomorrow.

Image

The Canadian Badlands

I heard the rain fall a bit overnight, and was afraid today would be another overcast day. Turned out to be bright and sunny, a perfect day for driving across Alberta. Rush hour was essentially over by the time we hit the road. The Calgary Stampede is this week, so there was still a fair number of cars (and semi-trucks) on the road with us until we got outside of the city. Calgary definitely has a frontier, wild-west feel to it. Of course, it was probably somewhat intensified given the Stampede. An easy city to navigate, but I’m still partial to Toronto. We have more places to see before we get home, so I may find a few new places to love.

My brain is feeling clearer, and my mood has definitely lightened now that we are out of wall to wall mountains. They are beautiful to look at, and I have great respect for those who can live on or near them. I need to see a horizon, and preferably the ocean. I did comment today that a wheat or grain field would be the next best thing to being at the ocean for me as I could at least watch the undulations of the vegetation and pretend it was ocean waves.

As we left the city behind, we watched field after field of mustard open before our eyes. Deep, rich green fields of hay and unflowering mustard followed by fields of flowering mustard so bright you almost had to shield your eyes.

We were definitely out of the mountains and back to rolling hills and prairie. Sprinkled among the croplands were livestock farms and more than the occasional oil drill.

I was glad GPS showed the road turning just before the silos. Looked like we were going right through them.

Even the hay along the side of the road is harvested.

One of the great things about the Trans-Canadian Highway is the pullouts on the side of the road. There are trash and recycling cans to dispose of waste, and a very large shoulder for resting if needed. There are also rest areas, but they are generally two unisex bathrooms which are more like port-a-potties than actual restrooms. Mom had a bad experience in one yesterday, so we pass those by. The pullouts are a good spot to stop for a photo, though!

The Badlands of Canada look nothing like the Badlands of South Dakota!

Our first stop today was the Saamis Tepee. We learned from the Visitor/Tourist Center nearby it was originally built for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, and moved to Medicine Hat in 1991. At 215 feet tall, it is the equivalent of a 20 story building. It didn’t feel that way standing under it. Inside are 10 handpainted storyboards that tell the history and influences on the area’s First Nations heritage. You can easily see the tepee from the highway, and it would be easy to pass it by as just another tourist destination. We were both incredibly moved and learned a great deal. Definitely worth the stop.

The Medicine Hat Tourist Center has free bikes for anyone to borrow for rides along the bike/walking trails or to ride the coulees. Looking at the size of the ravines, definitely not a leisurely stroll or something that I want to attempt. If you are an avid outdoorsman, this area has a lot to offer.

It was still a little early for check-in at the hotel, so we opted for a late lunch/early dinner at Medicine Hat Brewing. They opened for business in December 2016, and have an extensive, and very good, selection of beer. We each had a burger (note to self, remember to ask for it to be cooked medium or it will come out well done.) We each did a beer flight, enjoyed our burger, and enjoyed wonderful conversation with our waitress.

We were going to take the self-guided tour through town, but the wind was mighty strong. Once we got into our hotel room we opted for driving through, and maybe a stroll, as we head out of town and continue east tomorrow.

Image

Geez Louise! Lake Louise

A peaceful night’s sleep with the fan blowing and the window open. The early morning bird calls were a delight as we generally don’t get to hear them when on the road. We packed up, loaded some of the car, and hit breakfast. Breakfast was described as a “light affair” when we checked in. That definitely described it. Three kinds of dry cereal, various bread and bagels for toast, hard boiled eggs, thin sliced Canadian bacon (may have been ham), and two kinds of thin sliced cheese. Coffee was watery, but did the trick. We loaded the rest of the car and struck out for Banff National Park and Lake Louise.

It was a cloudy day that turned into a gray and overcast day, but the mountains were still glorious. Fortunately there were more opportunities for photos today. We crossed through Robert’s Pass between Revelstoke and Vernon. It’s interesting that the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies are shorter than the US Rocky Mountains. They seem so much larger, but I think the vastness of the space between them makes them appear taller. The hairpin turns through Canada are much easier to drive than those in Colorado.

Mom got to see a few trains along the way today as they paralleled the road, as did several rivers. We fortunately stopped to purchase our day pass for the park before we arrived which made entry much easier. The area is well marked for the most part. Lake Louise Village is the first thing you see, and it looked more like shopping and dining than an actual parking area for the lake. As we continued up the mountain, gut instinct said I should have continued straight rather than going right. A quick U-turn, and we were face-to-face with a wooly marmot. I thought it was kind of him to stand up and pose for me to get a few pictures!

We parked the car, found the rest rooms, then followed the crowd along the pathway. It truly is more glorious in person than in photos. (Aren’t most places, though?) Despite the crowds jockeying for position for photos and selfies, there was a palpable serenity to the place. The vast expanse of mountains and glacier, and the calm green of the lake . Even the canoes on the lake seemed to float as they paddled along.

We walked the pathway around to the Fairmont Lake Louise Chateau, and checked out the shops inside. We admired the flower gardens in front of the hotel and took a last look at the lake.

Just as we began our walk back to the car, it began to sprinkle. By the time we reached the car, it was a pretty steady rain. We couldn’t have timed it any better!

We drove through the town of Banff, but didn’t get a chance for photos. The sky was threatening more rain, there was no parking anywhere nearby, and it was very crowded. A cute little town, though.

The terrain flattened quickly, and we were back in rolling hills and farms. About an 75 minutes later or so we were checking into tonight’s lodging in Calgary. On our way in to town we passed the Calgary Flames stadium and the Olympic ski jumps. Reminded me of watching the ski jumpers practice in Trondheim, Norway just over 2 years ago.

We lost an hour today as we crossed into mountain time zone. Waiting for dinner to be delivered, then calling it a night. Tomorrow we are off to Medicine Hat. I think we will both be a bit glad to be out of the mountains for a while!

Image

Welcome to Canada!

Sunday dawned earlier than I might have liked, given the fun of the night before. Packed up, and breakfast in the hotel restaurant. (My review would be “meh.” There’s a reason it only has 2.5 – 3 stars. But it fit the bill for all of us.) Car brought down, loaded, goodbyes said, and momma and I hit the road.

Our first stop was Chateau Ste. Michele Winery. It was about 25 minutes from the hotel, and on our route. As we’d enjoyed many good beers over the past 2 days, a wine tasting seemed appropriate to start our return trip. The grounds are beautiful and picturesque. Manicured lawns, gorgeous architecture, families enjoying picnics…clearly a place to be on a Sunday afternoon in the summer. I wish my impression of the tasting room were as good as the outside. While the staff were helpful, they did not have time to, or did not want to, give us more than the basic description of the wines and move on to the next. At $15 a tasting (we did opt to share one), and only having 5 wines on the tasting list, we could have bought 2 bottles at the grocery store and enjoyed it as much, possibly better. But we can say we have been.

Perhaps if we’d done one of the bigger tours and tasting the experience would have been different. But the Canadian border was calling us, and we had about a 4 hour drive to our destination.

We had about a 30 minute wait at the border crossing in Sumas, WA and drove into Canada about 4:08PM. A bit of traffic along Trans-Canadian Route 1 as we started, but it soon opened up. Fortunately I remembered to set the speedometer to KPH before we crossed the border. The mountains soon loomed ahead of us, and I tried to keep at least one eye on the road as I turned my head from side to side and watched the beauty unfold before us. Unfortunately, not a lot of places to stop and take photos. I managed to get a few at a rest stop near Coquihalla. The Coquihalla Summit was 1244 M (4081 feet). It seemed much higher, but will be nothing once we hit the Canadian Rockies!

We checked into our hotel about 7:15PM in West Kelowna, BC. They had a restaurant attached, so we grabbed a sandwich and called it a night.

Today (Monday) was a short drive day, roughly 2 1/2 hours from last night’s lodging to today’s. I didn’t realize when setting the return route I was taking us right through the heart of British Columbia wine region. (Those of you who know me personally may find that hard to believe! But seriously, I didn’t until I picked up the brochure last night.) Anyway, when you have a short drive day, why not stop and see how the wine is, right? We stopped first at Sandhill Winery in Kelowna. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable, warm and made us feel right at home. The wine was far better than I had expected. One of the labels at Sandhill is Wayne Gretzky’s. We passed his winery near Toronto last October but didn’t stop. I couldn’t pass this by without at least a photo or two!

If we were staying one more night in the area, we would have bought a bottle and sat on the couch for a few hours! Such an inviting tasting room and staff.

Our next stop was Blind Tiger Winery. They are situated on a ridge overlooking one of the many mountain lakes in the area. Absolutely beautiful views, and some pretty good wine there, too.

Such fun to pass apple and cherry orchards on our way down to the highway!

We left this area and began our trek north and east. There were a few scenic overlooks today where I was able to stop and snap a few photos of the majesty around us. When we have criss-crossed the US, we can usually say “this reminds me of…” and fill in the blank. The past two days have left us at an absolute loss. Mountain lakes that are fed by waterfalls of varying size, pastures that seem to be among the clouds, and the vast expanse of space. Rivers, creeks and streams that flow alongside the road, what seem to be rolling hills but are just smaller mountains. The photos will not do its beauty and majesty justice, but it’s better than nothing.

Tonight we are staying in Revelstoke, BC. Rather quiet in the summer months compared to the winter. In winter this is home to snowmobiling and heli-skiing. Not sure that being dropped off at the top of a mountain by helicopter and skiing my way down would be my idea of fun, but it seems very popular in the area. Summer is mostly mountain biking, canoeing and hiking. Certainly a picturesque area to do any or all of it!

We are staying at the Glacier House Resort, set off from town in the quiet of the forest. We have brought all food in from the car as there were bear sightings earlier. All rooms are on the 2nd floor, so we are safe. The view from the room and the peacefulness of the surroundings should make for a restful night’s sleep.

View from the hotel restaurant patio

View from our room.

Tomorrow, Banff.

Image

Saturday in Seattle

I think we squeezed in just about everything we could in under 48 hours. Saturday dawned partly sunny, and in the upper 70’s. The girls got underway about 10:30AM for the Space Needle. We stopped at The Yellow Leaf Cupcake shop in Belltown for coffee and breakfast on our way. 2 cups of pour over coffee, a bagel sandwich, and an incredibly light and delicious bacon cheddar biscuit, and we were on our way. I was impressed with the number of restaurants everywhere we walked. Some larger than others, most what I would call “intimate dining.” Every type of food imaginable, and all seemed to have no lack of business.

We reached the Space Needle in time for our noon tickets, and got in line. The walk up to the elevator took about 30 minutes, but the history of the 1962 World’s Fair and the construction of the Space Needle was very interesting. Beautiful views, but we were bummed the restaurant was closed for renovations. They did have a snack bar at the top observation deck, but with all the construction going on even at that level, the ambiance was a bit lacking. We did walk around and get some great photos.

Not sure if they’re mosquitos or spiders, but it was a funny sight to see!

We found Mom and started off to the Chihuly Gardens. (She passed on the elevator ride to the top. Heights aren’t her favorite.) My husband joined us after his visit with friends we don’t see nearly often enough. There are never words to describe Chihuly’s work, and there doesn’t need to be.

A bite of lunch at Bambino’s on our way back to the hotel. The 2 salads would have individually fed 4 of us, the meatball appetizer was entree sized, and half the 10″ pizza left the restaurant with us. Another small place, but they had a steady stream of customers. We were back to the hotel in plenty of time to get ready for the wedding, and the reason this entire road trip became reality!

A 20 minute or so Uber ride to the Seattle Tennis Club on Lake Washington. Across the lake were very large homes where apparently the Gates and Bezos residences are. The Virginia Steamship came through just as the cocktail reception ended, and Mt. Ranier came out from behind the clouds during dinner.

We were back in our room about 12:30AM, and did think about going out with some of the wedding party. Sanity kicked in, fortunately for me, as we had to begin our return trip the next day.

Image

Seattle in two days

When you earn a “Lifetime Achievement” badge from your fitness band, you know you walked a lot over a 2 day period. Friday we walked to Pike’s Market and met family from across The Sound. They had ferried over to spend the day and be our tour guides. We stopped at the coffee and pastry joint across from Pike’s Market that had the shortest line, then fought the crowds through the market to the Pig statue. What an amazing place! The sights, sounds, smells….rather crowded early in the morning, but when we walked through later in the day the crowd had thinned significantly. The crowds this day were fun, though, as the Special Olympics National Games were that weekend. We saw teams from Indiana, Kentucky, and Southern California.

The famous fish monger was just inside, so we waited to see the fish throwing before making our way down to the waterfront. The nice thing about local tour guides is they know where secret elevators are. It made our trek down (and back) that much easier.

O

Our next stop was Wings Over Washington. A virtual reality tour over Washington State. The floor drops, the seats slide forward to a 180 degree screen with 5K cameras, and you are off an flying along with a “spirit eagle” through Olympic National Forest, Mt. Ranier, Snoqualmie Falls, the San Juan Islands, and back to the Seattle Great Wheel. It lasts about 10 minutes, but is worth every penny, at least once.

Lunch was the next order of business at Elliot’s. Fresh seafood, good beer, and great conversation catching up with everyone.

A quick stop at the Copperworks Distillery where they make vodka, 2 kinds of gin and a whiskey, all from beer. We shared two tastings between 6 of us, and probably could have done with just one. Intimate place, and very friendly staff. A cruise through the antique store across the street, farewell to our tour guides, then back to the hotel to get ready for the welcome reception.

Husband, daughter and I were just a tad hungry from the days activities, and ready early for the reception. We opted to stop for a nosh at the Purple Cafe on our way. Great wine selection, and the lobster mac & cheese was out of this world. BIG chunks of Maine lobster throughout.

Over 5,000 bottles of wine and spirts on the spiral staircase, then more on shelves behind it.

We walked a few blocks further to Pike Brewing Company where the reception was in full swing. A fun evening reconnecting with family and making new friends. A nightcap in the hotel bar, then off to bed so we could squeeze in more before the wedding!

Image

Eastern Washington to Seattle

Our adventure hasn’t ended yet – we’ve just been enjoying time with family in Seattle, and then recovering a bit from all the fun. There should be daily updates from now until we return home a week from today. (I am so blessed to work for the company I do. 3 weeks of vacation is an absolute joy, and it should keep me going until at least September!)

We had an absolutely wonderful view of roughly 27 fireworks shows from our hotel window on Wednesday night – everything from neighborhood displays to the 3 professional displays over Red Mountain. I realized all that was missing was the patriotic music. Phone to the rescue – patriotic songs pulled up on a music app. A few card games after the fireworks ended, and we called it a night. We had a relatively short drive to Seattle, but we were both anxious to get there and see family.

We enjoyed fireworks displays in every direction!

No time machine, just using up the stash of left over napkins Mom had. At least they had fireworks on them! 🙂

We opted for the state highway 243 over the interstate for the beginning of the drive. Right on past the Hanford Nuclear Waste site. Fortunately the road didn’t go directly by it. As we wended our way through the Columbia River Valley, we passed miles of apple orchards, sprinkled with the occasional vineyard. We stopped briefly at Wanapum Dam for a pit stop.

Model of the wind turbine that powers the dam

As we started on I-90, we passed another “Little Brown Sign” for the Petrified Ginko Forest. I didn’t have to ask twice if we should check it out. The forest itself would have required a bit of a climb up a steep hill, and it was rather warm. We opted to pass on that for this trip, and headed back toward the museum and gift shop instead. Interesting information sprinkled throughout what is mostly a gift shop for rock and gem collectors.

We made a second pit-stop at Thorp Market for fresh off the tree Ranier and Washington cherries and a few gift items. By this point, we were both anxious to get to Seattle and out of the car. The drive over the Cascades was beautiful, and relatively easy compared to the Rockies. Traffic into Seattle was light (at least in comparison with Atlanta area traffic!) We found the hotel easily, unloaded the car (well, technically the bellhop unloaded the car), and had parked it for the next three days.

We met my brother briefly for a beverage and snack before he had to head to a pre-wedding function. We were joined shortly thereafter by my daughter, and eventually my husband. We found a great Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel which was open late. A bottle of wine, some amazing pasta, and a cannoli for dessert. A perfect end to the first half of the roadtrip! And the view for the next 3 days was pretty amazing.