Monday, May 22, 2017, Home again

Breakfast was early — over by 9 instead of 10. Jacqueline was interested in seeing “Silicon Valley”. In the end, we only had time to take a quick trip to San Mateo, where we saw a giant building with Tesla on it.  We didn’t stop to take pictures, but we did wander around a shopping center briefly.

Then, gas for the car and back to the airport. Check-in at Dollar went quickly. I went with Jacqueline to the International Terminal. She got checked in, we chatted a while and then she left to go through security. The waiting area had a lot of art:

Wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

Wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport, more than 5,000 tiles created over years by an artist born in Korea.

C.lose-up of wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

C.lose-up of wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

I went to my terminal for Southwest. Both of us left at least an hour late — it seems that the San Francisco airport is under construction and is using only one runway for take-offs. This situation will continue for some months. Los Angeles, where my flight originated, also has construction going on.

That said, we both got home safely. I had enough time in San Diego, where I had to change planes, that –even with the delay– I got my flight to Tucson.

Sunday, May 21, 2017, Sacramento and friends

Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express brought a new experience: instead of the usual waffle machine, we found a pancake machine. You get two pancakes in two minutes. They were even good!

Pancake machine in the hotel

Pancake machine in the hotel

Sunday morning we’re off to Sacramento and the last of our capitals/capitols. Where we’d been cold, with rain and wind, much of the trip, we  now had sun — and temperatures that are now close to 100 degrees (after 60 degrees, a shock).

State capitol in Sacramento

State capitol in Sacramento

Detail of Capitol in Sacramento

Detail of Capitol in Sacramento

We found a few homeless folks there, too.

Another apparently homeless person, a few blocks from the capitol

Another apparently homeless person, a few blocks from the capitol

The official buildings are in the old style, but there are lots of modern buildings.

Modern building in Sacramento

Modern building in Sacramento

Another modern building in Sacramento

Another modern building in Sacramento

Yet another modern building in Sacramento

Yet another modern building in Sacramento

We saw the Tower Bridge, painted gold, ahead of us. In the process of finding a way to get closer, I ended up in a parking garage — in Old Sacramento, a National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park. It’s quite a well developed area, with shops in the old buildings.

Building filled with shops in Old Sacramento

Building filled with shops in Old Sacramento

In one of the store windows was this LEGO bear. As my grandchildren are wild about LEGOS, I had to take this photo.

Lego bear in Old Sacramento shop window

Lego bear in Old Sacramento shop window

Then we were on the road to visit a former colleague from Bern and her husband, two space scientists, in El Cerrito. My intention was to go first to the hotel near the airport, then to their house. However, the navigation function on my phone kept saving us time by rerouting us north instead of south. I tried to ignore this, but the phone just persisted in trying to save 2 minutes here, 7 minutes there. In the end, we just went directly to El Cerrito.

I last saw Marit in October 2015 in Bern. I hadn’t seen Tai, her husband, for probably close to 20 years. I hadn’t met their two children before. Tai speaks French, so it’s helpful for Jacqueline — she can talk with someone more fluent than I am.

After a delicious dinner in an Indian restaurant, we set off to find our hotel. The phone took over the Bay Bridge and then on a tour of the airport before we landed at the Comfort Inn & Suites in San Bruno, next to the airport. I was a little concerned about finding the hotel in the dark, but Tai had given me some tips on the bridge, so the trip went quite smoothly.

I worried about not renting a highway sticker, so we wouldn’t have to worry about tolls. In checking, Oregon has no toll roads, and I was told the sticker probably wouldn’t work in Washington or Canada. As it turned out, we paid for one bridge and that was it.

Tomorrow I have to find the rental car return and then we’re off.

Saturday, May 20, 2017, a backtrack to Oroville, California

We’re aiming for Sacramento, but it’s about 8 hours from Salem, Oregon, so we’ll see how close we get.

We see some giant, snow-covered mountains — Mt. McLoughlin in Oregon and Mount Shasta in California. We found a Trader Joe’s for lunch.

Interestingly, California still has agricultural checkpoints. As we entered, we  had to stop and tell an agent whether we were bringing any fresh fruits or vegetables with us. Fortunately, we weren’t.

Mount Shasta was truly impressive, even from the distance.

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

We got to Williams, California, only to find that several colleges and universities in the area were holding graduations. The receptionist at the Ramada Inn was exceptionally unfriendly and unhelpful. Jacqueline checked Trip Advisor while I looked at Booking.com and called a few hotels from Sacramento north. Everything was full.

By chance I ended up with IHG, the parent of Holiday Inns. The Holiday Inn Express in Oroville had two rooms. They saved one for us, and we set off. Between Jacqueline with the map and the phone, we arrived at Oroville an hour later, back where we’d come from. The receptionist there was quite nice — the exact opposite of the one in Williams.

The hotel was the most expensive we had on the trip, but at least we didn’t have to sleep in the car. When we got to Oroville — through farmland and with not a lot of gas — we found lots of little motels with “Vacancy” signs…. It was a l-o-n-g day.

Friday, May 19, via Olympia, Washington, to Salem, Oregon

Today was a real experience. Fortunately, I looked up the ferry information to see what the address was. Where we had to be at the ferry loading spot in Vancouver an hour early, here it was an hour and a half to an hour beforehand. This was for US Customs.

First, we were visited by an ICE agent who checked our passports. Then, I took them and a form to a window and was checked by more ICE agents. The trip took an hour and a half. The cars were really packed in — I almost couldn’t get out to go upstairs on deck.

Leaving Victoria

Leaving Victoria

Sailing ship en route to Port Angeles

Sailing ship en route to Port Angeles

Ship -- for research? -- en route to Port Angeles

Ship — for research? — en route to Port Angeles

When we arrived in Port Angeles, Washington, we just drove off. It looked like a nice place, but we didn’t stop, since we needed to get as far as possible. e did make a brief stop in Olympia, the capital of Washington.

Capitol building in Olympia, Washington

Capitol building in Olympia, Washington

We zipped down Route 101, the road we’d taken on the way north in much of California and part of Oregon. For the night we’re at a Best Western in Salem.

Tomorrow we need to get somewhere around Sacramento. You notice a theme here: state capitols.

Thursday, May 18, 2017, Victoria, B.C. (part 2)

Working again at the last minute, I booked the hotel, the Embassy Inn, through the ferry company for the trip from Victoria to Port Angeles, WA. The reservationist was most accommodating, though I get the message that it would have been better to book a couple of days earlier. By booking a hotel with the reservation, we saved the $11 reservation fee plus I’m sure we got a discount on the hotel and we paid in US dollars.

Our hotel was across the side street from the Parliament Houses.

Parliament Houses

Parliament Houses

Park in front of Parliament Houses

Park in front of Parliament Houses

Next door to the Parliament Hosues was the Royal BC Museum. The area around it as full of totem poles.

One of the totem poles in front of Royal BC Museum

One of the totem poles in front of Royal BC Museum

Totem pole - 5

Totem pole – 5

Totem pole - 4

Totem pole – 4

Totem pole - 2

Totem pole – 2

Totem close-up

Totem close-up

Totem pole - 3

Totem pole – 3

Totem with painted building

Totem with painted building

We found this upscale store:

Store front

Store front

The whole store

The whole store

The Empress Hotel is one of the  finest hotels in Victoria. All the hotels we saw in the downtown area seemed to be in old British style, which gives the town a certain positive feel.

Empress Hotel in Victoria

Empress Hotel in Victoria

Parliament Houses illuminated

Parliament Houses illuminated

The next day we move on back to the U.S. on another ferry.

Thursday, May 18, 2017, Crossing the waters to Victoria / Butchart Gardens

SPOILER ALERT: Not interested in flowers? Skip this post… it’s going to have lots of flower photos….

The first challenge was getting out of the parking garage, which proved far easier than getting into it and parked.

This seemed really tight to me...

This seemed really tight to me…

We’re off on an adventure: taking the ferry (with the rental car) from Vancouver to Victoria, going to Butchart Gardens, and sailing onward from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washinton, Friday.

Using Google Maps on my iPhone we had a terrific tour of San Francisco and traffic congestion on the way to catch the ferry at Tsawassen, apparently close a First Nations facility. BC Ferries did a great job of getting the 200+ cars loaded (and unloaded) quickly. Note to self: these types of trips are best reserved in advance, not the same day.

View from the ferry, crossing from Vancouver to Vancouver Island

View from the ferry, crossing from Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Islands and boat through the window of the ferry to Victoria

Islands and boat through the window of the ferry to Victoria

We decided to spring for the CAD 12.00 a person and ride in luxury in the more private area. It was a great deal: quite, more comfortable seats, and all the coffee or tea and breakfast you wanted to eat.

Comfort area on the ferry to Victoria

Comfort area on the ferry to Victoria

The 1.5-hour ferry trip left us in Port Swartz. Thanks to my phone, we found Butchart Gardens, though signs seemed to be lacking. Also, it wasn’t on the map, though it’s a very major attraction. We’re still trying to figure that one out.

Flowers at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Flowers at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

More painted daisies

More painted daisies

More purple flowers

More purple flowers

More painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

More painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

Painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

Painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

You may have guessed I like purple, and I went a little crazy with the photos of the purple flowers.

I’ve grouped the photos — the garden is huge, and this “tour” is in no particular order.

There’s a view of boats and water from the gardens:

Butchart Cove Lookout

Butchart Cove Lookout

Butchart Cove Lookout, without the trees

Butchart Cove Lookout, without the trees

Now for more flowers. I was fascinated by the variety of tulips.

Red/yellow tulip with yellow fringe

Red/yellow tulip with yellow fringe or spikes

Yellow tulip with red highlights

Yellow tulip with red highlights

Several purple tulips with little yellow spots.

Several purple tulips with little yellow spots. They all seemed that way, so I don’t think it was a disease….

Tulips in several shades

Tulips in several shades

Red tulips with fringed white edges

Red tulips with fringed white edges

Funky yellow tulips

Funky yellow tulips

Pink tulips

Pink tulips

Actually, there were lots of other flowers in bloom, too:

Narcissus

Narcissus

Canada is celebrating 150 years

Canada is celebrating 150 years

 

Interesting yellow flower

Interesting yellow flower

These leaves sprout flowers

These leaves sprout flowers

Lilacs

Lilacs

 Lilacs of another color

Lilacs of another color – I’d never seen this color before….

I've seen these before in orange.

I’ve seen these before in orange.

Most flowers that are blue aren’t really, really blue. But this one is:

Again, the rhododendrons were huge…

White rhododendron, among the largest I've ever seen

White rhododendron, among the largest I’ve ever seen

And had some colors I didn’t recall seeing:

Purple and white rhododendron

Purple and white rhododendron

Yellow rhododendron

Yellow rhododendron

Here and there we found glass:

Stained glass sign for ice cream at Butchart Gardens

Stained glass sign for ice cream at Butchart Gardens

Gorgeous fused glass piece in the artisan shop at Butchart Gardens

Gorgeous fused glass piece in the artisan shop at Butchart Gardens

Glass flowers, ones you can take home

Glass flowers, ones you can take home

And more flowers, with fountains:

Waterfall with flowers at Butchart Gardens

Waterfall with flowers at Butchart Gardens

Frog fountain

Frog fountain

Changing fountain

Changing fountain

Fish fountain

Fish fountain

Dragon Fountain

Dragon FountainLots of trees:

Trees in the garden

Trees in the garden

An interesting tree in Butchart Gardens

An interesting tree in Butchart Gardens

Up close , maybe a Japanese maple?

Up close , maybe a Japanese maple?

Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens

Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens

The merry-go-round cost a couple of dollars extra and had lots of less-than-traditional critters, such as this cat with a fish in its mouth.

Merry-go-round

Merry-go-round

Outside is a bronze merry-go-round horse, “Annabelle”:

Bronze merry-go-round horse, Annabelle

Bronze merry-go-round horse, Annabelle

And there’s a boar:

Bronze boar in the gardens

Bronze boar in the gardens

We can’t forget the totem poles. The gardens offers more, but here are two that lent themselves to photos:

Totem pole in the gardens

Totem pole in the gardens

Another totem pole

Another totem pole

And as we leave, some more of the painted daisies:

Painted daisies...more purple!

Painted daisies…more purple!

After about two hours of wandering the garden, snapping about 200 photos and having a gelato cone, we headed for the hotel.

Our stay in Victoria will be in the following post, though it’s the same day.

 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Vancouver, B.C.

Today was our hop on-hop off day for Vancouver, B.C. First, we had to find the bus. A sign we had seen was not a stop. What we did see was a young homeless guy, asleep in front of a Tim Horton’s (like Dunkin’ Donuts).

Young homeless man in Vancouver, BC

Young homeless man in Vancouver, BC

He was still there, but in a different position, when we went to dinner several hours later. We were surprised by the number of apparent homeless folks wandering around. The city seems so vibrant and well-off, though apparently house prices are similar to those in California (not affordable for most people). We saw a lot of nice cars and well-dressed people, and the shops were not cheap.

After the false start, we did find the busstop, almost directly across from our hotel. The bus had rolled-down plastic windows, so it was warmer than the bus in San Francisco. We also couldn’t shoot photos through the plastic.

The weather was in the 50s and pretty overcast, until late in the day (for the second day it was this way). In the Robson area, where our hotel is and which is near Stanley Park, there are a lot of high-rise apartment buildings. Most have balconies, which reminds me a little of Bern (Switzerland), where I lived for a while.

Apartment building in Vancouver, BC

Apartment building in Vancouver, BC

Some buildings even have trees growing on their roofs…

Entrance to Trump Tower in Vancouver, BC

High-rise building with trees growing on the roof in Vancouver, BC

The Vancouver Public Library was an interesting building — round with a straight part that had coffee shops in it. The library itself seemed to have about eight floors.

Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library

Out front we found this sign:

Sign in front of the Vancouver Public Library

Sign in front of the Vancouver Public Library

Inside we found that Canadians really are much more open-minded than U.S. citizens:

Vancouver Public Library has NO problems...

Vancouver Public Library has NO problems…

One stop was Granville Island, a manmade island that began as a sandbar. It’s supposed to be home to all kinds of artists. However, we found mostly souvenir shops with stuff from China, India and the Philippines (wood). There was one really nice co-op gallery, with some interesting glass, but I didn’t take any photos. The take-away there was that the artists in the gallery were not allowed to sit the gallery, because of “conflict of interest”. Other members of the group sit the gallery. I should have asked for more details.

Granville Island, an artificial tourist place

Granville Island, an artificial tourist place

We found the Chinatown area in Vancouver:

Gate to Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Gate to Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Sign on a building in Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Sign on a building in Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Closed for fixing the pond was the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden:

View of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver, BC

View of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver, BC

One of the stops was in Gastown, which has a long story connected to it, as well as a steam-driven clock:

Steam-run clock, Gastown area of Vancouver, BC

Steam-run clock, Gastown area of Vancouver, BC

We stopped by the Convention Center area to find the tourism office. We also found a couple of ships. This is one:

Giant cruise ship docked in Vancouver, BC

Giant cruise ship docked in Vancouver, BC

And the Convention Center without its grassy roof:

Convention Center from below (grassy roof doesn't show)

Convention Center from below (grassy roof doesn’t show)

Although it seems like there are some glass artists around, I haven’t found tons of fused or other glass yet. This was in an empty shop window, advertising for Ethereal Glass.

Ethereal Art, handblown glass from the area

Ethereal Art, handblown glass from the area

On the way back to the hotel at the end, we came across this display case of what may be Dale Chihuly glass, with a fountain:

Blown glass in a display case by a high-rise apartment building. Chihuly???

Blown glass in a display case by a high-rise apartment building. Chihuly???

Tomorrow Vancouver Island / Victoria /Butchart Gardens

 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Seattle, Washington

Off to a slow start, we left Tacoma and headed for Seattle and a quick get-together with a former colleague from Tucson, Pearl. She’s been visiting her son and his family, who just had baby #2, a cute daughter. She met us at the Kaffeeklatsch, complete with a German flag out front. She took this photo of Jacqueline and me with her phone.

Pearl took this photo of Jacqueline and me with her phone

Pearl took this photo of Jacqueline and me with her phone

When we figure out how to send it, I’ll add the photo of Pearl and me that Jacqueline took with her phone.

Then on to Vancouver. We had no trouble crossing the border into Canada. We were asked where we were going and why. No question about the rental car. Thanks to my iPhone, we zipped to the hotel. We parked in the garage under the hotel — a true horror story. The ramp down was narrow and winding. I’m kind of used to parking in an underground lot at the library in Tucson. These spaces were even narrower and tighter. It took me at least 10 minutes to maneuver. When I mentioned that to locals, they all just rolled their eyes, so I guess I must be getting old.

View from our hotel room at the Empire landmark Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.

View from our hotel room at the Empire landmark Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.

Because it was only about 4 p.m. and we seemed to be close to Stanley Park, we thought we’d take a walk over and check out the totem poles. It was an experience, with bikers, skaters, joggers and tourists sharing the walkways. Actually, it’s quite organized when you figure it out. We saw some wildlife:

Canada Goose in the lawn at Stanley Park

Canada Goose in the lawn at Stanley Park.

Also some boats:

Vancouver Rowing Club, in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver Rowing Club, in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

In the water near the rowing club, we found boat "garages"

In the water near the rowing club, we found blue boat “garages”

Across the water we saw the Convention Center, with its flat, grass-covered roof (and home to 60,000 bees in the winter, according to our tour guide the next day).

Convention Center with grassy roof

Convention Center with grassy roof

At last, we found the totem poles. I’d forgotten they’re all pretty much together.

Entrance to the totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, Vancouver. These are mostly reproductions of local First Nations carvings

Entrance to the totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, Vancouver. These are mostly reproductions of local First Nations carvings

Totem poles at Brockton Point - note size of man, poles and trees

Totem poles at Brockton Point, Stanley Park – note size of man, poles and trees

Totem pole at Brockton Point, Stanley Park

Totem pole at Brockton Point, Stanley Park

Leaving, we walked along some more water. I got one photo of a heron, then I did something to the camera and lost the rest of the photos

Heron in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

Heron in Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

Monday, May 15, 2017, Seattle (in the rain)

Sunday was not nice in Port Orford. We hustled on to get to Tacoma, Washington, stopping at outlet malls on the way. We’re looking for a last year’s Eddie Bauer down jacket. We’ve each got one, but Jacqueline would like another.

After some effort at the Best Western Tacoma Dome, which I stayed a few years ago for about eight nights, found our reservation. I’d made it that morning by phone, since I was running late. In spite of my spelling my name twice, I was looked under as Jaylor. Taylor’s one of the 10 most common names in English, but never mind.

It was, of course, dark and cold and raining.We walked down to the public transportation office and got passes for the bus. The next one was five minutes later, so we hopped on. Again, I was really glad to leave the driving to them…lots of traffic, though it kept moving.

We got out and headed for Pike Place, which — of course — I’d forgotten the exact location of.

Seattle building

Seattle building

Ivy-covered building in Seattle

Ivy-covered building in Seattle

Not Paris! It's Seattle, in the rain

Not Paris! It’s Seattle, in the rain

We got there eventually, as the place was closing down. The large white area of the photo is the sky I didn’t crop — it was really overcast.

Sign for Public Market Center, Seattle

Sign for Public Market Center, Seattle

Fresh fish at the fish shop in Seattle

Fresh fish at the fish shop in Seattle

Ferris wheel near the Public Market Center in Seattle

Ferris wheel near the Public Market Center in Seattle

Then it was back on the bus and back to Tacoma and some dinner in the hotel. We managed to see no glass whatsoever in the heart of glass country.

Sunday, May 14, 2017, Racing through Oregon

It was not warm this morning. The motel, which has a great view of the ocean, has a coffee machine in the room and that’s it. We made coffee, took a few more photos and then took off, still going north along the coast on Highway 101.

Looking out at the ocean from the Sea Crest Motel, Port Orford, OR

Looking out at the ocean from the Sea Crest Motel, Port Orford, OR

We found rain off and on. We would have liked to look around Bandon, but it was pouring when we got there, so we went on to Coos Bay, a lumber town. We made a quick circuit of the downtown, but it was 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and not much was open. We found the Safeway, where we got breakfast and lunch and just looked around, then set off again.

We stopped along the way at one of the Dunes National Recreation Areas that seemed scenic and had a picnic table. It had stopped raining, so we took some photos and had our salads.

Pacific Ocean and beach from part of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Pacific Ocean and beach from part of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Sand Dune in Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon

Sand Dune in Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon

Some rhododendrons were growing near the restroom facilities. I mention this only because the flowers were the largest I’ve ever seen — not the leaves, just the flowers.

Rhododendron near restroom at part of the Dunes National Recreation Area

Rhododendron near restroom at part of the Dunes National Recreation Area

We eventually stopped driving along the coast (Highway 101) and went inland, to take a quick look at Salem, the capital of Oregon.

Rhododendron near restroom at part of the Dunes National Recreation Area

State Capitol, Salem, Oregon

It took some effort to find the capitol. I’m not sure we ever did find the center of town, since signs were few to none. Google and my iPhone got us here.

Then it was on to Route 5 and the fast highway — except for the giant backup plus road closure around Portland. We landed in Vancouver, Washington, for the night. We’re at another Best Western — and were excited to find a Trader Joe’s across the street.

Tomorrow:  Seattle