Monday, July 31, 2017

Getting our Feet Wet

Hello there!
How awesome is having a rug to tell you what day of the week it is? Traveling for so long, we began getting confused about the day of the week so I was delighted to find this in the Pan Pacific elevator. Clever, don't you think?

Yesterday afternoon, following the blogging session, I did some roaming around, discovering how beautiful this area of the city is.
One thing we will have to get accustomed to is stairs, and lots of them! Way at the bottom of this photograph is the sea wall walk which is quite long from what I gather. Because it has been so warm and sunny, loads of folks were out enjoying the clear weather. How lucky for us to arrive at this time. Imagining months of gray weather is not thrilling, but I'm bound and determined to not complain. Remind me of that in November, will you?
I mentioned before that there are all manner of folks everywhere I turn...
I told Bruce that the people on the cruise ships are watching us, as we watch them!
In front of the hotel it seems as if only one busker is allowed at a time, in this instance, look down the street a bit and you will see an older gentleman in a light shirt playing a harmonica.
He's leaning a bit forward as he belts out tunes that range from, "How Great Thou Art" to "It's a Small World. Baxter and I were sitting on the same white chairs you see, waiting for Bruce to find some dinner as we've yet to find a restaurant that allows dogs. And can you blame them? I don't. We find ourselves apologizing for having a dog with us to anyone who will listen.

This is the ground floor of the hotel that Baxter is having to traverse to find a place outdoors to pee. Everywhere you turn, folks are taking photographs.
Bruce and I have been taking turns at breakfast, enjoying the sturdy flatware, in my case, the beautiful teapot, and cloth napkins, all things we've missed for the last two weeks.
So, this morning, we drove across two bridges to go to an Earls in Richmond. If I knew what to call the community I would tell you, but so far I do not. What I do know is that the airport is nearby.
Bruce went to check on some water damage to arrange for some repairs. From there we drove back into Vancouver proper to go to the office which is just inside Chinatown, a very vibrant part of the city.
As we drove across the Granville Street Bridge, I took this shot of what I think is our building.
The tall one in the front with the rooftop tree.

We arrived at lunchtime which was nice because some of the young women allowed me to tag along to a nearby restaurant to get take out. Everyone was so nice to me, which I know will make all of our friends happy to learn. Bruce in his new office.
Everyone will also be thrilled to learn that, indeed, you can teach an old dog new tricks, and in this case I mean all three of us! Baxter in particular has adapted amazingly to all twelve places we've stayed, learning to jump curbs, walk on big rocks, elevators and escalators, as well as revolving doors. To date he's lived a sheltered life, but boy how his horizon has expanded!

This afternoon, while Bruce worked and Baxter slept (thankfully about Baxter!), I set out to find the Nordstrom, my favorite department store, located on Granville Street and Robson. Our daughter-in-law, Michelle, would have gone crazy in their shoe department.
Along the way, I came across the Cactus Club, another restaurant group owned by one of the Fuller family that owns Earls.
Then too, I came across a food truck advertising "Japanese-style hot dogs."
Who knew this was even a cuisine item?

My poor Keds were a mess, so I decided to get a new pair of shoes to use for my upcoming walking days in the city. Can we say Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? Not to mention, when I looked in my wallet, I found a Nordstrom card that turned out to be a $50 credit so, with the exchange rate, I made out very well. These sweet folks not only helped me with my purchase, but we had a very good chat as well. The young man on the right has been to Orlando multiple times and is in love with Universal Studios.
And now it is time to go in search for some dinner...

Tomorrow is moving in day. I will keep you posted.

yours truly,

Gail

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Journey Ends....

and we begin the process of making Vancouver our home for the next year. Can I tell you that we are slightly overwhelmed? Whew! As I type this I am in an eighth floor room in the beautiful Pan Pacific Hotel at One Canada Place.
We arrived about 6:00 PST last night amid total chaos in front of the hotel, following a very interesting time at the border crossing. I'll get to that shortly.

Our stay in Missoula was uneventful, but it was nice having a sliding glass door out to a large grassy area for Baxter. I was so hot when we arrived that I even went swimming for a bit in their open pool. I mention an open pool because a fair amount of the places we stayed in had indoor pools, including the Hampton in Pineview, which I know I mentioned before, but I can't say enough about that hotel and their staff. Hampton thinks they are great as well because they won an award for one of the top 25 Hamptons in the US; considering that there are more than 1,900 in the states, that is saying quite a lot! I wrote my last post while sitting here:
We heard there were some wildfires along our route to Spokane, and although we did not see any fire, we did see smoke.
When I was a student at Valencia, taking speech class, one of the first thing I learned is to know your audience to be an effective speaker. That tenant applies to all sorts of businesses as well. Rand McNally sure knows their audience, you know, the old folks who don't want to rely on wifi!
I don't know if she bought the same one as I did, mine is a LARGE scale!! Awesome, right? I had super spotty internet connection for most of the trip, so having the atlas on my lap pretty much the whole way allowed us to travel on the roads less traveled. Not only are there maps, but lots of fun facts, and Bruce is the best when I ask him to guess the population of a state. That's our idea of a good time on a road trip! At this same rest stop in Montana, look what I found! Does anyone know what kind of burrowing animal this is?
After staring me down, it popped right back into its' underground home. Our friend Sue insisted that we stop in St. Regis and try the Huckleberry Shake here:
They claim it is the best shake ever, and I tasted just a bit of it, and indeed it was delicious. Apparently huckleberries are quite the thing in Montana as I had a huckleberry dressing on my salad in Ennis.

Our friend Jeff told Bruce that he loved Couer d'Alene, so we matched our route to go and see it for ourselves, but first we had to get to Idaho!
Round and round the mountains we went, as well as up and down, but eventually we arrived in the beautiful city with the very large lake. It's a darn good thing neither of us get car sick! I should mention again that I drove not one mile of this trip as I am a total chicken when it comes to mountain or unfamiliar roads. I have many friends who are road warriors, however, they cannot include me in their group.
Off the interstate, and heading down the main street in Couer d'Alene,  you can easily see why it is a top tourist destination. Clean and tidy with gorgeous hanging flower baskets on charming light posts.
I thought this bench was clever...
After paying $10 to park, we made our way over to the busy waterfront with parasailing...
and people enjoying the sunny warm weather.
We were so delighted that we were able to have lunch on the patio at this cute place where they allowed dogs.
As well, we enjoyed a nice chat with some folks who moved to Idaho from Northern California 30 years ago and have never looked back.

Idaho was a short lived state for us, although I did take this obligatory shot of a red barn while zooming through. Don't ask me how it turned out!
You know what comes next don't you?
The only state on our trip that put the Welcome sign on the driver's side. What were they thinking?

The mountains gave way to a mostly blonde landscape in this part of Washington; specifically we were on our way for our nightly stop in Spokane. The Doubletree we stayed in could not have been any more different than the others; this one was connected to the Convention Center and was a high rise. So much for our screen door. At first it was disappointing until I learned that it was part of a huge complex built for the 1974 World's Fair held in Spokane, the smallest city to ever host one. I overheard one of the valet guys tell someone else to go around the wall covered with plants,  and following his directions, I came across this lovely view.
The Weeping Willow trees were both gigantic and beautiful!! One thing we've learned about these Western states is mining was king, thus, the sculpture above honoring those who made the economies of all of these states, whether it was silver, coal, copper, or gold mining, possible. I walked along the Spokane riverfront, once slowly with Baxter, and once at a little faster pace, admiring the beautiful scenery.
Some of the buildings from the Expo. including the 1902 clock tower.
We decided to get on the road as early as possible yesterday, with our destination Redmond, WA. Did I tell you the landscape was blonde? Wheat everywhere! Some parts were already harvested, and I noticed how the tractor, or tilling marks, whatever they are called, looked like quilting in the fields.
The above photo doesn't show it very well, but trust me on this one. At a stop off the interstate for gas, I chuckled at this place.
"I suppose you want to stop at the scenic overlook," Bruce said to me. You bet! He took care of Baxter, and I am so pleased at how this photo turned out. Talk about feeling small in the world.
They, and I use that term loosely, were gazing down at the gorge created by the Columbia River.
A few hours into the drive Bruce decided, and I concurred, that he wanted to just keep going, rather than stop for another night. Can you blame him? Each and every night he got a cart, loading all our stuff onto it, unloading, and re-loading, and it was getting old after 12 days on the road. Not that he complains, mind you. Because Bruce is a Diamond member of the Hilton properties, they kindly cancelled our reservation in Redmond without penalty. Fortunately I was able to book the hotel where we are currently staying for another night. the condo will not be empty until tomorrow night so we'd already planned on being here for a few days. So lucky!

Traveling on I-90, we crossed Washington State in record time. Aside from the gorge, this was my favorite scene from the drive.
Is my camera lens fast, or what? I cannot believe this turned out! We got on the 405, drove on the outskirts of Seattle, and joined up with I-5 for the final push to Vancouver. After so many days of rural driving, ending up in a traffic jam on a Saturday afternoon was a shock to our systems.

And here we go....the border crossing. Apparently there are four crossings from Washington; this one is called the Peace Arch.
Folks in the Kia in front of us, jumped out, running over towards the arch and the Canadian flag flower display for pictures. It was pretty funny watching them try and jump back in the car while it was moving along. We waited in this line for about thirty minutes until finally it was our turn.
Unlike most of the folks, when Bruce told the Border Patrol woman we were entering Canada for a work permit, we had to pull into a parking lot and leave Baxter in a crate outside. A first for him! We could hear him yelping while inside. As well, we saw a guy being taken away in handcuffs! Wonder why?

In spite of the reputation for all Canadians being nice, our Border patrol lady was not nice at all. After grilling Bruce for about twenty minutes, it took another twenty five minutes or so, for our passports and the work permit to be ready. She made no idle conversation, kept a completely straight face, and basically bugged the life out of me! Bruce matched her expression, never giving an inch. :)

Finally, after stopping at the visitors center for maps, we were on our way again. You can see the city from quite a ways away.
Do you see it in the middle of the frame? Woo hoo...3,600 miles of driving and here we are.
As I mentioned early on in this post, we were overwhelmed with all of the people and cars in front of the Pan Pacific. As good fortune would have it, we had a wonderful bell captain who was patient, directed Bruce to the underground parking, sent me and Baxter up the two floors to the lobby and locked all of our stuff in a room until we were registered. Our room is fab with wonderful sheets so it was worth the early craziness. It is in the middle of the cruise port, thus the huge amount of people of every nationality, dress, and age.

Canada is in the midst of celebrating their 150th birthday with banners everywhere and this spot for photo ops.
I took this photo early today, thus not the chaos of the night before. Two ships arrived overnight, or maybe after we went to bed. It was pretty cool to stand next to one of these giants.
Just a few minutes ago I asked Bruce, what's that noise? A ships horn honey. I'll have to go outdoors soon to see what boat left for Alaska.

So, you see the sky is blue as can be, which is such a blessing. Plus, the weather is warm but with a nice breeze. Plus, Baxter is happy to settle down for a few days.
The hotel provided a goodie pouch for Baxter, with a pillow cover which we promptly filled with one of the luscious bed pillows. Of course we put his quilts on top to make it familiar.

You might be wondering about our clothes on the long trip. Or maybe not? Well, here goes anyway....Since we both used only one suitcase, I packed lots of dresses, wore them at least two days, washed underwear in the bathroom sink, wore the same earrings and necklace the whole time, and mostly wore the above Keds everyday. They did get soaked at Yellowstone but they dried out just fine. I used the hotel washing machine in Laramie, or so I think that is where it was, the days are running into one another in my mind, for Bruce's clothes. A first for me.

Was it fun? You bet it was. Traveling from sea to shining sea....amazing!

yours truly,

Gail

p.s. this is going to be so weird living and writing in a different time zone....



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wonderful Wyoming! Montana Too

I hardly know where to start except to say that I am in love with the part of Wyoming we traveled through, and I've got the pictures to prove it. Seriously, it has been four days since last we met, and we have seen some beautiful scenery that I hope you will enjoy seeing as if you were along for the ride. Should you not have very much time, I suggest you wait until you do. Although I did my best to pare things down, there are a LOT of photos. But then again, how often does one travel by car more than 3,000 miles with their beloved?

Without further ado, let's get on the road with Bruce and Gail in both Wyoming, and Montana. Our first night, after traveling from Colorado Springs, we stayed in Laramie. I seriously underestimated the traffic on the road I selected, but eventually we arrived. Behind the hotel I was delighted to see that there were fields of wildflowers if one looked carefully. At first glance it merely looks blonde, but if you, like me, had to take the dog out back a bunch, you would have noticed them as well.
Plus, there were awesome little birdies hanging around on Christmas trees!!
Our destination, upon leaving Laramie, which seemed like a nice town, what little we saw of it, was Pinedale, WY on the road to Yellowstone. I could not get enough of the scenery on our drive on nearly deserted state roads.
Around every bend I found something to delight in.
In the above, I just loved the way the cloud shadows made the fields appear, well, I don't know how to describe it, but it was fantastic. At one of the rest stops, which had this sign, btw,
I noticed some young folks with a small boy and baby, two couples in their own trucks, driving caravan style from Georgia. In these parts, you don't see many Southern state tags, that's for sure. Anyway, I got to chatting with them (!), and learned they had made it as far as we had in but three days, with plans for camping in both Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Park. Good to be young, right? Anyway, lo and behold, here they were again at the next rest stop with the little boy on TOP of one of the pavilions throwing a football with his dad.
And that was that, we never saw them again. Onward towards Pinedale..
what I liked so much about Wyoming is that the landscape varied so much, including when we turned off the highway towards Pinedale and it looked like this.
Sorry, if it does not look so impressive in the photo...in person it was astonishing, or at least it was to this Florida gal.

We were absolutely delighted to find a pond and creek behind our hotel in the charming town of Pinedale. Those peaks behind the pond are part of the Wind River range and several of them are more than 13,000 ft tall!
We decided to stay an extra night in Pinedale because, not only did  Bruce have work to catch up on, but our little Baxie was not well. At first his failure to eat much did not cause too much alarm, however, combined with several bouts of diarrhea on the hotel carpet (!), we decided we needed to have him checked out. Let's just say it was a fantastic experience in a super old fashioned way. The vet saw him at 9:15 on the dot, did a thorough check, giving him a shot as well as some medication for the road. Both of us thought he'd lost weight and sure enough he'd lost a pound during the trip! The good news he is back eating and doing just great! Whew, one less thing to worry about, right?

I went out early for a sunrise photo, but lo and behold, it was sprinkling, only the second time during our ten day (at that point), trip.
Although the sun struggled to shine, it never happened that day. After Baxter's visit with the vet, I took off for a bit on my own, coming across this place.
I have loads more photos showing how cute it is but this will have to suffice. Further, this made me happy.
The vet told me I just had to visit Fremont Lake so I got up my nerve, driving up the winding roads and I'm super glad I did. If only it had been sunny...oh my!
One of the things I loved so much about Wyoming were the wildflowers everywhere....
Finally I convinced Bruce to quit working and head out for some exploring with me. The front desk folks at our Hampton were fantastic during our stay, especially one woman whose name I failed to take note of which is a shame because she was very influential on some of our choices. At any rate, she'd told me when we arrived that there was a moose in town with two calves, seen recently at the golf course which I dutifully checked when I went out in the morning with no success. WELL, in the evening, I told Bruce I wanted to check out this Pine Creek public entrance and when we turned down the road...well were we ever in shock!!
A local man who was also observing them said it was super unusual for a Moose to have twins so we were witnessing something really special. Again, loads more pics but, you know the drill. Needless to say, we were freaking out! Ask Nancy, who called just as we were seeing it...."I can't talk Nancy, in the middle of a moose sighting!!!"

Bruce tried his luck at the pond as sunset approached.
Reluctantly we left Pinedale, onward to Grand Teton and Yellowstone heading for the South entrance. In the distance I began seeing something that puzzled me from afar. Closer, well, you know what it is don't you?
Here we go...
The fog actually got quite thick, although it did not stop us. After a stop in Jackson for advice and park maps, we were in awe of the majesty of the Grand Tetons.
It was sunny intermittently, this was one of those moments.
Bruce was kind enough to turn back around as we missed the Snake River lookout. I told him, how often will I ever have the chance to stand in much the same spot as Ansel Adams? The trees have grown a lot since he took his famous shot of this scene. Tremendous in person.
Bruce was our wildlife spotter...the only bison we have seen to date.
The kind woman at the visitor center told me that last summer there was a wildfire near the South entrance to Yellowstone and we saw evidence of that at one of the rest stops where the wildflowers grew on the forest floor despite the burned ground.
And then we made it, as did these cyclists, asking that man to take their photos in front of the sign. We saw cyclists along the way, riding up the steep grades and I was very impressed!
Because we were on our way to Ennis, MT, our drive took us through the bottom of Yellowstone where mostly the crowds were not nearly as bad as we'd been prepared for. At one look out a couple asked if I would take their photo and asked if we wanted one as well. For this I am grateful because it turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself.
And then we were at Old Faithful just as it began to rain. Here is where all the people were!
Huge crowds all lined up for the 1:30, plus or minus 10 minute spouting. Bruce waited in the car with Baxter as pets were not allowed, although I did see multiple people breaking that rule. The only trouble was rain for which I was unprepared. These folks, with front row seats were prepared.
As the minutes wore on, the rain came down harder but I was bound and determined to see it go from this...
to this, which it did at 1:38 PM.
An amazing experience!  The parking lot was crazy full and hard to exit but eventually we were once again on our way, stopping here for some peace and quiet and a pee break for Baxter.
We saw but a tiny fraction of what Yellowstone has to offer; perhaps one day we will return to wonderful Wyoming. Wait....we can do it next year on our way home!
Driving on 287, we made our way to Ennis, MT, a place suggested by our fantastic desk clerk in Pinedale. The road there was mostly empty and dramatic at times as the road hugged a huge lake. So, so glad for my chauffeur.
Are you weary of the trip? I'm not! The town of Ennis is cute as a button...
and our accommodations even cuter. Holy Cow...
Finding the place online, I figured if we were going to be out West, we should have a log cabin experience.
Not only were the cabins super cute, the grounds were unreal.
Yup, a waterwheel and stream behind the cabins built beginning in 1948. Highly recommended. Because we've mostly stayed in chain hotels, I'd been wondering if Vacancy signs were still in use. This morning, the sign looked like this:
Today was a super short day, and mostly on the interstate, except for this part where it looked as if we would drive right into a mountain!
Tonight we are in Missoula, MT, headed who knows where tomorrow. We are about 850 miles to our destination, however, the condo will not be ready until next Tuesday so we shall see what we figure out for the next few days.

Hope you've enjoyed this little travelogue.

yours truly,

Gail

p.s. no editing which means I wrote it and clicked on publish without re-reading it.  Hope it is coherent, and if not, just enjoy the photos.





Limping Along