Monday, August 4, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


SATURDAY - July 26, 2008

Today’s itinerary began with departing from Victoria B.C. to Port Angeles, WA aboard the MV Coho, with a 10:30 AM departure. We’re asked to arrive 90 minutes before departure, which seems excessive, but we were not on a tight schedule and sleeping in after such a full day prior was welcomed. As we sat “on deck” waiting out signal to board, I grabbed an opportunity to go for a fresh cup of coffee at a nearby café. They weren’t prepared for the number of customers looking for the same thing, and although I had a nearly 90 minute time allowance, I was growing nervous that the MV Coho might start out without me. I patiently waited for my espresso and biscotti, and then hurried across the street and down the ramp to Debbie’s car.

Shortly after, several uniformed individuals visited each vehicle in line. We guessed as to whether they were US Customs agents, or Canadian Customs Agents. I managed to see CSMP on a uniform patch, and guessed: Canadian Special Mounted Police. Shortly after the acronym game, a tap-tap came on the window, and a uniformed man was asking to see passports. They were US agents, and the acronym was Customs Service Maritime (Police or)Patrol. Debbie quipped that one would expect to be better treated returning to one’s native country. He wasn’t necessarily rude, but he certainly wasn’t exhibiting a good nature.

Eventually we loaded onto the ferry, right behind several motorcycles. It was interesting to see how they tucked everyone in. We advanced to the upper deck and found a really good seat about mid-ship. This was a private ferry company, and the size and polish of the vessel was evidence of that. I visited the gift shop and bought my daughter a T-short of the MV Coho Black Ball Line. (It worked out well, as the change from my earlier espresso and biscotti left me with $15.00 in Canadian money - which came out perfectly for the T-shirt!). I was really getting this ferry business down, and took some great photos. I’m especially fond of the one below:


We arrive in Port Angeles, and drove through US Customs, where the exchange was brief and pleasant, and I “declared” my seeds purchased at Butchart Gardens. We then drove toward Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Forest. The road up to Hurricane Ridge had several spots that were under repair, and drivers were warned to expect one-lane road closures. We sat with the engine off, for several minutes, in front of a “Stop” sign held by a road crew member. Finally, a pilot truck with a sign that said “Follow Me” pulled out and the “Stop” sign turned to a “Slow” sign. The roadway was gravel and pitted and there were some sections that had serious washouts. I was painfully aware of the need to support our National Parks. What a great resource they are, and how much they need the support of people - like you and me. I pledged then to increase my contribution to the National Parks Service. There were some scary moments on this road - deep drop offs and no guard rails and lack of solid roads. This flatlander was holding on without wanting to be obvious. Debbie, however, drove like it was second nature.



We arrived at the Visitors’ Center and saw several deer loitering in the wildflower filled meadows. What a beautiful sight. I wanted to know why it was called Hurricane Ridge - (had there been a hurricane?) and so I approached the Park Ranger who was very pleased to be able to explain to me that the winds off the Pacific are often of Hurricane strength. I’ll agree the winds were strong and the air was…not was downright COLD! Although I had a jacket, I exited the car leaving it behind. Do I look very COLD! In these photos?!!


Eventually we made our way back down the mountain pass, again being slowed by the one-lane road repairs. The late departure and the road delays within the Park caused us to reconsider whether to visit the HOH Rain Forest. We decided to have lunchand think about it. We returned to Port Angeles and had lunch at a Crab House with a wonderful view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I ordered a cup of Crab Bisque, and a crab salad sandwich. Debbie ordered a bowel of Crab Bisque and an appetizer of Calamari.

The soup was wonderful. Rich. With a flavor that was unique and not quite definable.

My sandwich was - a surprise. Again, not expecting a cold salad sandwich…. Guess I could have, should have asked. It was tasty, though. Debbie’s calamari was a let-down after the wonderful dish we had at Butchart Gardens, and she ate very little of it.

We decided that the time delays were significant to enough warrant skipping the HOH Rain Forest. We set out for Bainbridge Island, where we’d catch a ferry over to Seattle.

Shortly after a rich and full lunch, I, as passenger, was feeling very sleepy. I thought for a moment how nice it would be to just take a little snooze. I argued with myself that a snooze wouldn’t be fair to the driver, and resisted the temptation. It was about the time that I was fighting the urge to snooze, that Debbie said, “Talk to Me…” She was feeling the effects of a rich soup and over-fried calamari, a sleepy lazy afternoon. I darted alive and found myself scrambling for topics of discussion, speaking in an overly loud voice, switching from one subject to the next. And I was saying my prayers to keep the driver going strong and steady!

Eventually, and what seemed slowly and painfully, we arrived at the ferry docks on Bainbridge Island. We did not have reservations, as we had no clue when we’d get there, but we were timely, and it was a good opportunity to ‘rest our eyes’. We drove on to the ferry, for what would be a much shorter trip. This was nice as we were arriving at the Seattle port by water, which afforded many wonderful photo opportunities. Allow me to share some, here…:





We exited the ferry and made our way to Bellevue, where we had reservationsat the Marriot Residence Inn. We giggled about the reservation being for a “penthouse” in a two story building, with no elevator. We finally arrived and the room really was quite lovely. They called it a penthouse because it had an upstairs loft, and a downstairs. It was two bedroom, two bath, with full living room and kitchen, and it was just so incredibly comfortable. We found a book of “delivery restaurants” and that sounded just perfect. We ordered Chinese delivery and called it a night.

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