Saturday, 30 August 2014

The corolla.

I had a great time last night, I went to the concert in the park and it was a group called New Shoes who the receptionist thought I should remember from the 80's. I don't but they were very popular evidently and are making a come back. Great lead female singer.
Well I woke up feeling sick. No it wasn't because I has eaten half of the maple and pecan doughnut the night before, it was because I had to go and collect the automatic, left hand drive Corolla and get out of the city onto the I5. (interstate). ( I have to say the maple icing and bacon didn't do it for me so I scraped that off and just ate the doughnut which was very tasty)
Gave the lovely David a well deserved tip and disappeared downtown. I arrived at Hertz and waited my turn in the queue.  A man also waiting said he liked my sparkly tennis shoes! These are same converse type mentioned earlier. At least that amused me.  However, I wasn't amused when Zak said here's your card to get out the toll. What toll???  Take a right out the door through the glass doors and in the elevator... 6th floor. What?  I had to drive the car down 6 floors before I even try to get to I5 ? I did as I was told and was met by a very chirpy young man who said," Oh hello  Heather it was me who made the arrangements with David" ....Oh really? 

He took me down a floor to the car, put my case in the boot, gave me the keys and by the time I got in and turned around to say how do you work this thing he had gone.  I sat looking at the controls and I worked out P for parking R for reverse but was 3D drive and what did the others mean?

Well I thought I can't help looking stupid so out I got, trudged up a floor and, not even the girl who was cleaning out the other cars was around. Can't repeat what I said but eventually she returned and said yes to the three I had worked out and said and I didn't need to know the others!  Brilliant...and don't press the brake and accelerator at the same time it makes a lot of noise. Oh and put your headlights on going down so anyone coming up can see you. Great. I was full of confidence now..not.

So...big breath start the engine and off I went on the right hand side ...brilliant got to the first bend and no one had told me you got whiplash when you put the brakes on!  So okay down three floors and a guy comes belting up just on a bend. We sat and looked at each other and eventually he reversed. Good man ...No way I was going to at this point.
Got to the toll and of course wasn't close enough so I had to get out and put the ticket in. In the street and I was off. Take a right onto Pine, down to the bottom as far as you can go, the river is at the bottom, preferably turn right before that and keep going until you see signs for I5. David had printed out sketchy instructions which I had read 20 times, the bit about going up the ramp horrified me and then I realised that it is just a slip road.  I don't know how I did it but there I was on the interstate before I knew it and no sign of a ramp either. But I didn't care!  Actually I have to say that once I was half way down Pine I felt fine and now I'm loving it. Since then just about every situation has arisen and it's been fine. I even took Dawn, the lady I'm staying with, down to Safeway this morning. Just like being at home. I was quite a few miles down the I5 when I realised I hadn't claimed my $10 dollars back from Hertz !  Oh well....

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A long train ride!

Everything went to plan,yellow cab arrived on time and I had time to spare at Amtrak. Never did meet Hande my apartment owner. Rather defeated the object of my renting, the point being I would have some company. Was a bit nervous being there in the evening. But...was a lovely flat with a balcony overlooking Elliot Bay.
So...made the guy at the ticket desk laugh when I asked him how I would get my bags when I got to Portland. It was weighed and whisked away. You pick it up at the baggage it's like the airport. Well there was me thinking I would have to run and grab it out of the last carriage before the train zoomed on its way to LA!  Actually it didn't zoom anywhere, it as quite slow and we were 1 1/2 hours late starting (no pressure so the loos wouldn't flush) so I was on the train for 6 hours.  I was on the top deck and the seats are very comfortable with excess leg room even for me. Although it was very,very comfortable I felt quite claustrophobic. However, after I had got my caffeine fix I went to the observatory and sat there for the whole journey.
There were two men who were volunteers on the Starlight. They belonged to parks/amtrak trail corp or something like that. I did write it all down on the way but somehow deleted it all.  Between them they talked for 4 1/2 hours and explained everything that we were passing, they were a bit like Laurel and Hardy.. But what dedication. When we got to Portland they got off and went straight back to Seattle!
It was a very pretty journey and I sat with Kirsten a 75 year old from Florida (we found we had quilting in common and she had been staying on the same street as me and knew of a fabulous quilting shop! )and a young Chinese girl from New York.  
I had been talking to a lady who was going to travel to LA (28 hours) and she was loaded down with water, 2 one gallon containers and loads of bottles!  She said she drank at least a gallon every day and was expecting to get thirsty.  I did see her again on the train...waiting for the toilet! lol 
Got a cab from the station and he didn't quite know where he was going and drove all over. When I complained he said he hadn't understood what I said. So he knocked a dollar off!

Went to Hertz to book a rental car this morning and they said they probably wouldn't have any. Came back to the hotel and lovely David on the desk sorted it all out for me. Told me to go out and have a good day and he would sort it. Sure enough got one for me but not round the corner, but downtown and Hertz will pay $10 towards the cab. Only trouble is I now have to drive from downtown.
I decided that because I only had one whole day in Portland I wouldn't rush around on the hop on hop off  -it was too hot 80+ so I would go to the Japanese and rose garden at Washington park. This was over the other side of the city but the train took me right there. I was expecting it to be just a garden but it's a huge park with houses and normal roads through it. A free bus to the gardens but she forgot to let us off ( 3 of us) so we had to walk up yet another hill (I may have shapely legs after this trip!) so many paths and trees I had to ask some people where the gardens were and got invited to share their picnic with them. I declined but they had their's on the steps of the amphitheatre.
the rose garden was huge and beautiful.

The rose garden 

He gets everywhere!

I love roses but the Japanese garden was amazing, so well thought out.5.5 acres and divided into 5 gardens. Influenced by Shinto,Buddist and Taoist philosophies.

The poetry stone.    Here miles from Japan I stand as if warmed by the spring sunshine of home.

This is a sea of raked sand the two islands depict a sake cup and gourd shaped bottle signifying pleasure and a wish for visitor' s happiness.

Part of the Strolling pond Garden  which has the moon bridge and tortoise and crane stones common signs for longevity.

Lots of koi of course but he was a favourite.

The zig - zag bridge (yatsuhashi) where the koi are.

All the way down on the train the two volunteers took great pleasure in talking about Mount Ranier (a volcano) and how evacuation plans are set up because it's time for it to blow! We just couldn't get a good view of it  but as I sat on a seat in the shade in the gardens I looked up and there it was! I had no idea it would be visible. It's 54 miles south of a Seattle so a long way from Portland.

This little fellow ran right in front of me and he was so small I couldn't believe I had seen him.

A wall dedicated to the holocaust and...a sculpture leading down the path...quite moving.

I spent 3 hours here and then hopped on a bus and train to get to Pioneer Sq, centre downtown where the Oregon ballet were giving a display so grabbed a Starbucks and sat watching them.

Suddenly remembered being told there was a free concert in the park near the hotel so hopped on a bus and then remembered my Voodoo maple and bacon doughnut, so quickly consulted map and jumped off in the area and then had to ask where it was.  Walked past lots of down and outs which freaked me a bit but found it and queued for 30 mins in the sun!

Portland is famous for these doughnuts, the shop is open for 24 hours a day.

And this is it.. Maple and bacon I haven't tried it yet!

So a short time in Portland but I feel I have really had a taste of it. Like it very much. A very clean city of many bridges across the Willamette river.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Almost goodbye Seattle!

26th August 2014.
This is a special day for the family. It's the 13th anniversary of Alan's death. When I used to hear people say I remember him/ her every day I didn't really believe it but it's absolutely true. 
Today at 3.30 I was on a boat on a beautiful peaceful sea and surroundings and somehow 
that was fitting.

Today was going to be a lets see what happens day. I walked downtown along the beautiful 
waterfront that I discovered last night. I wanted breakfast and I was downtown before I could 
find somewhere who provided breakfast.  I wandered out of there and saw there was a trip to

A 45 min boat trip there and back, a baked salmon lunch and dance display and stories by Northwest Native Americans.  It was wonderful. When we arrived we were given clams and asked to throw the shells on the path to the longhouse and crush them. Just as we docked I caught sight of this clambering on the rocks

I couldn't see what it was but an officer told me it was raccoon and that when we had thrown the clam shells and gone in to lunch they would come over to see if there were any clams.  They might have found mine, I couldn't eat them although I adore clam chowder.
The lunch was glorious and of course plentiful. Salmon bake, bison and venison stew, rice, loads of dressings and huge bowls of fruit salad. Followed by I don't know what! A sort of fruit crumble and cream I meant to ask what the fruit was but forgot as we had the dancing as we were eating and the. rushed out to explore.

We had 50 mins to explore the island which is 500 acres, although only the ranger lives there as it's a state park. All over the beach there was drift wood. Not sure if it was signicant or had just been washed up.

As we were leaving we had ospreys (sea hawks) flying over the boat.
Back on land I struggled up the hills (I'm calling it the zig zag city because I have to do that 
to get to the top!)  up one block, along another then up another and so on. It's worse than
 San Francisco.

This was my second boat trip. Yesterday I went on the harbour and lock tour. We drove 
down to Lake  Union and went from there to go through the Ballard locks which is where  
the sea water of Puget sound meets Lake Union water. It us huge and has a record of having 
125 Boats in at a time. www my Ballard  for technical detail lol.  The salmon were migrating 
and jumping out of the water . Two theories on that. 1) salt water makes them itchy and they 
jump and slap down in the water to scratch. 2) jump out to regulate the heat change in body. 
Take your pick. I sat outside and couldn't hear all of the commentary but it was hot, the scenery 
was beautiful and it was just lovely to sit and enjoy.

These guys were paddle boarding and desperately trying to keep up with us or ride our wake.

I walked the whole of the waterfront to uptown, mainly because I didn't want to climb the hills! I'm so glad I did because I found the Olympic park with sculptures 

Which joins Myrtle Edwards park. Dicing with death from cyclists and joggers it was great 
walking along there in the early evening.  Do you know I didn't even look at the front! lol

Before I went on the trip I went down to the famous Pike Place market. Looking so different 
in the morning.  So many stalls , just everything was sold there. The most beautiful jewellery 
and stall after stall of flowers

The bane of my life...peppers, they are in everything, but don't they look wonderful

Of course the market is famous for the fish throwing. Can you just see it on the top of the 
It was so difficult to get the picture, everyone was waiting and before you know what's 
happened it's flying through the air!. They shout all of the time and I hadn't a clue what 
they were saying. Every fish under the sun, looked so fresh.

I had to smile when I went to wait for the bus. A young woman was sitting in the shelter and she said " I love your outfit, you look so comfy.."....(white cut offs,pink t shirt and my converse type sparkly boots) After we had spoken she asked me if I was English. After my confirmation she said  " I thought so, one of my councillors is English. One? Is having more than one prestigious?

I had a hippie try to sell me a hip hop CD for $2!!!  Silly boy.

To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give,to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.
Hans Christian Anderson

Like Seattle very much but have to move on tomorrow....Portland, where they are forecasting 90degrees.  Good grief. 

Oh and I didn't see Tom Hanks ... But this was his house......

Monday, 25 August 2014

The ups and downs of Seattle!

Thats because it is all up and down! Boy what hills.

The trip down from Vancouver was good. I got talking to a lady from New Jersey at the station and we got on really well. She was going to Bellingham to stay with a friend and then they were going to San Juan Islands, she had flown in from Alberta that morning after staying with another friend. The bus was pretty full so we couldn't sit together but I sat with a lovely young woman from Vancouver who was going to a convention at Tulalip casino centre which is on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. It was also a huge factory outlet!  She was telling me all about her life. Lucky girl lived in Coal Harbour but originated from Saskatchewan. She works at B C University but is also doing her masters degree. She is also researching her family and it's getting very interesting but also quite difficult because she is half French and half Cree and not many written facts recorded.  So strange that we talk to people and in a short time tell each so much and then never see them again!  Nice experience though.
Crossing the border into Washington was interesting. Everything has to come off the bus and taken into customs. The officer wanted to know where I was going and why and why was I staying in an apartment etc. all went well though and I paid my $6 and if I could have run with my luggage I would have.  I was pretty moved seeing a wall full of photographs of young people who were missing.

I got off at the Best Western hotel and went in to see if they had the phone number of yellow cabs and she insisted on calling one for me. Everyone is so helpful and friendly. 
Bit bothered when I arrived at block of apartments as my host didn't answer so didn't know how to get in. Luckily someone went in so I scooted in and got the key from under the mat and let myself in. I haven't seen anyone yet. On the 7th floor with a view of The Needle from my window.

I can see the lifts going up on the outside.  I walked round to have a look at the centre, not really impressed so got on the monorail and went downtown.  Walked down to Pikes place market but they were clearing up so decided to go tomorrow. It's so hot!
Been eating such a lot of rubbish so I went to Safeway and bought whole load of fruit! The peaches were pure nectar.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Here I am at the airport!

Arrived early for my bus to Seattle so just consumed a maple pecan Danish! Oh dear.
Yesterday Janice disappeared into the great blue yonder and I was left wondering what to do with myself. Finally decided I would go to Capilano and walk the suspension bridge. So on the 100 bus I got that took me to the Canada line train into downtown. Off the train straight onto the sea bus over to North Vancouver. The 236 bus was waiting for me and 20 min ride up into the mountains.  All this on one $2.75 ticket!
Capilano is brilliant and studying the map I realised I had to go over the bridge to get to everything else. So off I went, stepped on it ok so far, swaying quite a bit but how I wish they drove on the left hand side because every time I had to grab the rope the pain in my arm was excruciating and I got a quarter way across and had to come back. Of course had to hold on with the arm again.  I was so disappointed . 


So back to the shops and I went on a history tour which was excellent. It covered some of the history of the Squarmish Indians and there were lots of totem poles. Everyone seems to have two jobs. My guide was also in the hillbilly type band in between his tours. The band was excellent.

That's him on the left!  Lots of history to the park. The park has had four owners.. The first built the bridge over the canyon because he could  see all the bears and elk etc on the other side and wanted to hunt.  He was an engineer and so designed the bridge.  It was secured to buried tree trunks! It's now owned by the daughter of the last owner and she has brought it into the 21st. Century. Lots to do over the other side! I managed to spend four hours there anyway.
So before I started home I had a moose trail ice cream in a waffle wafer. This was lovely ice cream with choc sauce, also big pieces of chocolate with peanut butter in the middle.  De...licious

On the bus back I was still feeling disappointed so decided to treat myself to this!

By this time it was 6 pm and all they had left was the sunset trip over North Vancouver. Well the take off was different, bumpy over the water and we were squashed (14 of us)  not much leg room, but it didn't matter!

It was totally amazing and I'm so glad I did it. We went up over North Vancouver over Stanley park and the city and then out over the sea by West Vancouver.

Although it was still light the sun was looking beautiful.
A nice man took this for me!

More views of Victoria

Today it's Sunday 6.00am and I'm trying to catch up as I'm getting a little behind with the blog as on the day before we left Victoria ( Thursday) I rather stupidly tripped over a small rock near the beach and landed on my right shoulder and arm. I am only just able to use my hand. Can't believe I did that. We had just got off the bus, a hop on hop off, at the marina and had had a lovely time watching the seals being fed. Grabbed a cappuccino and went outside to sit down and wait for bus. Before I knew what I was doing I was lying winded ( don't ever wind yourself it's the horriblest feeling) damaged my shoulder, arm and hand. Cappuccino went all over a bag Janice had bought for her daughter, fortunately didn't do any damage to it as it was in the bag.  Really thought I was going to have to get up and go to the hospital in the middle of Thursday night but thankfully it's on the mend! Although it stopped me doing something yesterday but I'll tell you about that in a while.
Meanwhile look at these beauties.

These two had a real tussle over the fish.

There were three seals living at the marina and also this little chap, who was totally gorgeous. He was hiding under the boardwalk and only came out when the seals disappeared for a while.
A beautiful sea otter.

Oh and I was considering buying this ...the name is appropriate!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Goodbye beautiful Victoria

Here we are on the bus again on our way to the ferry and Vancouver. I'm so sorry to leave Victoria we have has such a lovely time here. It's such a beautiful city. It's called city of gardens. There are 1300 huge hanging baskets which two men go round watering every evening. We were told that they are at their best at the moment.q
The empress hotel,fabulous building has model villages including one of Olde London in 1600 's.

Roof of a pub in china town

One of the hotels

Home coming

The last three photos are on a square by the harbour, commemorating 100th anniversary of Canadian navy.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

No milk? What a shame.

Well enough for one! I'm a very kind person and insisted that Janice have it for her bran!  So.... Here I am back in Willy's for breakfast. Missed yesterday because I am sure I am going to be a stone heavier by the time I get home if I'm not careful!  I have just ordered short stack (2 ) pancakes with banana topping and maple bacon on the side.  Only two? Yes but I'm sure they will fill a large plate 
I do love eating out for breakfast and this place is just wonderful.  If flowers sooth your soul this is the place to come. As I look out the window (bit chilly this morning so sitting inside) I am looking at two huge hanging baskets on the lamp posts. They are all the way up the street. Shops have troughs outside also. 
It's our last day on the island and not sure what we will be doing. Janice is planning to cycle again I think, so I am undecided whether to do a whale watch or have a ride on a seaplane. 

30 mins later

I was right. Two huge pancakes 1/2" thick. A whole banana on top with two rashers of maple bacon.  I had to leave one of them although very fluffy and delicious. The waitress has just offered to package it up for me!! Said yes, I will give it to Janice.... Lol

Yesterday we walked quite a lot. Walked right around the harbour to Fishermans Wharf where there are floating homes!

These cost $600,000 +... all sizes but even the largest are not huge. Sat having our picnic lunch watching two seals coming up to be fed.

Just had to ride the hippos...a city tour and trip round the harbour.  Although you know they revert to a boat it's a strange feeling when you enter the water.

Evening was spent in China town where there was a local market but it seemed to be mostly Canadians selling their wares rather than the Chinese. Our meal there was Ok but expensive, but it is more expensive to eat here than in England.

She was enjoying her calamari on a stick anyway!

Butchart Gardens

I have been to many gardens in my lifetime but I think this one exceeds them all. It is open 365 days a year.  
Originally a limestone quarry excavated to supply the cement factory nearby which her husband owned , Jennie Butchart, in 1904, began a lifelong project to transform it into this fabulous garden, starting with sweet pea seeds and a rose bush. In 2004 it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. It is now 55 acres and still owned by the family.
There is a sunken garden, rose garden, Italian garden, Japanese garden, a bog garden, a concert lawn and stage and much more besides.
The photographs will not do it justice I think.

Pond outside the wonderful restaurant.

Part of the Japanese garden, the cone is a watering device.

This fountain is perpetually changing form, Its huge! I must have about 50 photographs of it.

The colours are so vibrant and apart from the green grass and trees is everywhere.

Sturgeon fountain in Japanese garden.

We sat in a the shade (it's very hot)  having an ice cream looking at this. Wonderful 

The Butchart cove where boat trips around Todd inlet leave from and if you wish you could leave on a sea plane!

And finally I don't usually take photographs of rubbish bins but .........

Even those have flowers on!