Friday, July 1, 2016

North by Northwest- No Rest for the Weary

* Disclaimer- Chris and I traveled to the Pacific Northwest and a cruise to Alaska in June 2016 as a 10 year anniversary trip. This will be a multiple entry blog that will highlight our activities, our reflections and of course pictures of these gorgeous locations! I have highlighted the tips and tricks of each post in red. I hope this helps in planning trips to Vancouver, Seattle or Alaska! Thanks again for following along! 

Day 1- June 16, 2016
Arrival and Vancouver, B.C. Canada 

RING RING RING... Our alarms were blasting loud and clear at 3:30AM. All of our bags were packed and we were ready to get our the door to get to the airport for our 7AM flight. We had not flown in over 7 years so we did not know what to expect. We were parked before 5AM and headed to get checked in and go through what we expected to be a long security line. We flew Southwest and they had great self-service kiosks that allowed us to check in and turn in our bags without a line. Then the security line was so short we were in and out within minutes. Around 5:30AM we were all the way through the security lines and at our gate. We had so much time we decided to eat breakfast at Pappacitos. We did not want to drink caffeine so we could try to sleep on the plane but unfortunately that did not happen.

Leaving on a jet plane! 

We were flying on a 737 that holds 180 passengers but we were lucky enough to have only 143 passengers on board. In fact, both Chris and I had a "B" boarding group and were able to get 2 seats together on the very first row! Talk about excess leg room... It was AWESOME. We touched down at 9:54AM (Pacific time) and were headed to the baggage claim area. I was so nervous that some of our luggage would be lost but we spotted all 3 of my tacky giraffe print luggage and both of Chris's standard blue so we were good to go.

I love living in Houston. 

How often do you get this much leg room on a plane. 

Mt. Rainer from the air! 

Our first view of Seattle from the plane. 

We stepped out of the airport and thought "Is this really summer?" 

We rode the shuttle to the Rental Car location off the airport site and got our Nissan Juke for our 5 day adventure in Seattle and Vancouver. Once we got that squared away we were on our way. We stopped in Lynnwood, a small suburb just north of Seattle, to eat lunch. We wanted something fast and easy so naturally we stopped at KFC... Wait, what? Yes out of all of the local great food we ate our 1st northwest meal at KFC... What can I say, my man wanted fried chicken!

Our Nissan Juke... It was great for Chris's tall body but not good for hauling a LOT of luggage. 

My 1st look at why I came to Seattle! 
We stopped in Bellingham just south of the US/Canada border to have our 1st Starbucks of the trip and switch drivers so I would be driving across the border. We waited about 20 minutes in line before reaching the customs agent who asked all kinds of questions as to why we were traveling to Canada and what we would be doing with the car while on our cruise. It was a typical border crossing. Chris was so excited as this was his first trip to Canada.

When in Rome... These were everywhere! 

We made it to our hotel in Surrey, B.C., a suburb about 25 miles southeast of Vancouver, just before the check-in time and our room was not ready so we utilized the free WiFi to get directions and maps of where we would be going to not have to pay the international fees. Once our room was ready we unloaded the VERY FULL Nissan Juke (not a great car for traveling, even with only 2 people) and then started to head into Vancouver to co to Capilano Suspension Bridge. 

The Capilano Suspension Bridge and park were AMAZING! One of the most fascinating and interesting tourist activities I have done in a long time. We learned all about the types of trees in the Pacific Northwest and were able to walk high in the trees on a special suspension bridge and even a boardwalk! I would highly recommend this tourist attraction to anyone visiting Vancouver. It was about $32 per person and well worth it. It had all kinds of activities and things to see as well as several stores and eateries including a coffee shop. They even featured live music and naturalist talks and hosts. It was fantastic and I know my kids would have loved it too.

We're here! 

There was a Totem Pole area at the entrance to the park and it was fascinating! 

The Suspension Bridge was crazy busy which made the experience even more exciting! 

This was the bridge from the top of the treetop boardwalk. 

Attention EXTREME Nature Ahead! Chris was LOVING this! 

This was on the Cliff Walk portion of the park that featured a bridge over a cliff! It was very exhilarating! 

Me- "Look honey a bear! Take a picture of me as this may be the only one we see this trip"

Little did I know I would be seeing a REAL black bear in less than an hour! 

We left Capilano and went to Goose Mountain just outside of town as recommend from a local. It is free and gorgeous so be sure to check it out when in Vancouver! We were able to go to a lookout and see the ENTIRE city. It was beautiful and so peaceful. We continued up the mountain to another lookout and watched as the sun was about to set (at 9:30PM mind you). On our way back down the mountain the car in front of us stopped and then pointed out to the area beside the road and there was a small black bear. It was incredible. I have never seen a bear in the wild and to spot one on the first night was even more special to me. My trip was already made and it was just night #1.

One of my favorite pictures from the entire trip!
We LOVED Vancouver! 

Canada Place from atop Goose Mountain. 

A look at downtown Vancouver from the lookout. 

Downtown Vancouver was absolutely gorgeous! Very metropolitan and cosmopolitan. We enjoyed it so much and when we do return for another Alaskan cruise we will be sure to sail from Vancouver! It was just breathtaking! 

These are the mountains of Washington as seen from the top lookout on Goose Mountain! 

Chris was in LOVE! This was his type of town/ area! 

The first look at the Black Bear! 

What a great profile shot of this beauty! 

My night and trip was MADE!

We then went into the downtown area to look for a place to eat dinner. We found great parking and then went to a little sushi place called MomoSushi that turned out to have the absolute best sushi we have ever had. Vancouver is known for outstanding Asian food but this sushi was to die for. We explored a little more of downtown by foot before deciding to go back to the hotel. After all, we had been awake for over 21 hours straight at this point.

Seriously the BEST sushi EVER! 

MomoSushi in downtown Vancouver! 

On our way to our hotel we left downtown via Hastings street and saw things that we had never seen before. Now I have been to countless large cities and metropolitan areas in the US and Canada and even London, so I have seen homeless people and the "sketchy" areas of most US cities but I have NEVER seen anything like this! It was awful! We saw people fighting and hitting each other, a man wearing a woman's thong (I may be scarred for life with this one) and all kinds of other things. It was definitely a sad situation. Chris was so shocked he decided to go around the block and witness it all again! 

I know that society makes you think they have it bad but let me tell you... THEY REALLY DO!
It was a very very sad thing to see! 

We made it to our hotel nearly 30 minutes later and we weaved in and out of traffic as Chris drove us back to the hotel in Surrey. As we arrived in the parking lot a Canadian asked Chris "Do you always drive without your lights on at night?" Chris was shocked as he just assumed the lights would turn on themselves like our cars. We laughed and laughed and will have wonderful memories of that little mistake. It was a "Stupid Americans" type of moment for sure! It was hilarious and wouldn't be the first of this type of memory either! More on that later! 

We ended the night in our very spacious hotel suite at the Four Points by Sheraton. It was huge and had plenty of space for all 5 of our suitcases! It was a GREAT hotel and I would highly recommend it when visiting Vancouver of the surrounding area. However, it also featured a HUGE bay window which let in the natural sunrise at 4:10AM the following morning so be sure to bring an eye mask if you are traveling to anywhere in the Pacific Northwest in the summer months! 

This was the Queen 1 room suite...Notice the large window! 

It was a fantastic room and only $116/ night which was a STEAL! 

This first day was great and really set the bar high for the rest of the trip. We cannot wait to see what day 2 will hold. Thanks again for following along and stay tuned for more of our North by Northwest Adventures! 

God is good... All the time! 

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this day 1 blog..can't wait to read day 2. Thanks Kelly, it really fleshes out your trip for me, and I love the pictures. You guys did it well and had a great time. Seeing a bear from the car is cool, not so good to see one on foot which we have done--fortunately we were quite close to our car which we promptly got back into and the grizzly was more interested in the dumpster than he was in us.