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Pacific Northwest 4/02

Spring break vacation time again...

Seattle skyline viewed from the Victoria Clipper

Having learned our lesson last Christmas not to stay home bored during a long school break, Mary Lou, Ben, Craig and I headed to the Pacific Northwest. We spent two days in Seattle, three days in Victoria and a day in Vancouver. Victoria was the gem, with character, good pubs and interesting things to do and see.

 

This vacation unintentionally evolved a theme of different forms of transportation. We flew in commercial airliners and in a small seaplane. We sailed in a jet catamaran and a water taxi. We rode in a horse-drawn carriage, a bicycle powered rickshaw, taxis, shuttle busses and a rental car.

Sunday March 31st - Easter - Seattle

We started the trip seeing a celebrity as we stood in line at LAX next to Loretta Swit (Hot lips on MASH). We arrived in Seattle in the afternoon and headed for the Museum of Flight near the Boeing plant (1st picture below with Ben in a fighter jet). Both kids liked the museum and we finished it with a ride in a Desert Storm mission simulator. We drove downtown in the early evening.

 

We took a shuttle from our hotel to the Space Needle. We ate in the revolving restaurant at the top and had a surprisingly good meal with a great view (2nd picture below with Craig as the sun set over Puget Sound). On the observation deck we caught a night view of the city center (3rd picture below).

Horse drawn carriage tour in Victoria

Monday April 1st - Seattle

We walked from our hotel to the Experience Music Project at Seattle Center near the Space Needle (4th picture above). The Experience Music Project is an interactive museum of modern music and the brainchild of Paul Allen (of Apple Computer fame). The building was designed by architect Frank O. Gehry who gave it a variety of weird shapes, including Hendrix's smashed guitar as the roof, which can be seen from the Space Needle. We started with an interactive "Star Tours" style ride through the history of Funk. The first picture below shows Ben, Craig and I at the lobby guitar statue. The 2nd picture below shows Ben, Craig and I in our debut "On Stage" where we got to see what it feels like to play a song (Wild Thing) in front of a big live audience.

Tuesday April 2nd - Seattle / Victoria

We took the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria, BC. in the morning. The Victoria Clipper is a jet Catamaran that promised a 90 minute crossing with some sightseeing on the way. It delivered neither. The entire observation deck (which is also deafeningly loud, right over the engines) is shown in the 3rd picture above with Ben in the foreground. The trip took over 4 hours because of an engine breakdown mid-way and we were packed in like sardines (4th picture above with Mary Lou, Ben and Craig seated). We decided at the end of the crossing that getting to Vancouver at the end of the week would not involve another boat.

 

Once in Victoria, we took a taxi to our hotel, Swans Suites, checked in and then walked into town. The hotel was a winner with a good pub downstairs, a huge 2 bedroom suite and interesting original artwork throughout. We paused in front of the Empress Hotel (1st picture below) and then took a city tour in a horse drawn carriage (above top right and 2nd picture below with "Chester" up front doing the pulling).

Wednesday April 3rd - Victoria

We walked downtown and started our sightseeing at the Parliament building, the seat of government for British Columbia (3rd and 4th picture above). We walked across the street to the BC Museum, which had a good collection of local history and art along with an IMAX theatre. Behind the museum is Thunderbird Park, where there are various totem poles (1st picture below). We walked through town to the Elephant & Castle pub for lunch (2nd picture below). Pubs in Victoria were remarkably good and could in some cases rival London's. We then did the Maritime Museum in town which was small but interesting.

Thursday April 4th - Victoria

We walked through the Empress Hotel and then caught a bicycle rickshaw tour (3rd picture above) up a long hill to Craigdarroch Castle. Our driver was a marathon runner actually named Freddie Krueger. Craigdarroch Castle (4th picture above) overlooks Victoria with interesting interiors (1st and 2nd pictures below). The first picture below is the view up from the entrance showing the staircase. We walked and then taxied across the Inner Harbour to Spinnakers Pub for lunch and then took a water taxi across the harbour to our hotel (3rd picture below). We then walked over to Chinatown (4th picture below) to finish our last day in Victoria.

Friday April 5th - Victoria / Vancouver

We took a small seaplane (1st picture below) from Victoria to Vancouver which was a new experience for all of us. The second picture below shows the landing approach into Vancouver Harbour. The take off and landing is very similar to a normal small plane, just smoother. We picked up a 2 hour city-wide trolley tour outside our hotel in the afternoon and then doubled back to a shopping area where we grabbed a late lunch at a good restaurant on Robson St., Milestones. The first rain of our trip occurred during the afternoon. Along the tour, we saw the steam powered clock in Gastown (3rd picture below) next to a terrible area of town. Vancouver was touted as a great city, but I didn't get it. It had a nice park (Stanley Park) in town, but had a hideous skyline of aluminum and glass and felt to me like a hundred other big modern cities.

 

Saturday April 6th - Vancouver

We spent our last vacation morning at the Vancouver Aquarium (4th picture below, white beluga whale) which was worthwhile. They had a very good collection of local marine mammals. It rained hard this day. We took a taxi to Canada Place downtown where we grabbed lunch and an IMAX show on caves before heading to the airport.

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