Saturday, July 17, 2010

Buchart Gardens and Victoria

We got up early again. Early seems to be our pattern, we are typically awake and dressed by 6:00 a.m. We headed out to find the ferry at Twassessen British Columbia. We took a couple of wrong turns (thanks to Jayna’s map reading skills) and just about missed the ferry to take us across the bay to Victoria on Vancouver Island. I think we were just about the last car that was allowed on the ferry we cut it that close. Anyway, once we arrived at Vancouver Island we headed to Buchart Gardens. We had heard that we needed to see the Gardens, but had no idea of the grandeur and splendid array of gardens from Japanese, to Italian, to Rose Gardens, to Sunken Gardens, to shade gardens. There were trees that were not green – no these trees were red or perhaps chartreuse green, no, some trees were purple, and some trees had rainbow colored bark, some with white bark. You never saw so many varieties of plants in your life. I would love to know how many different plants were in that place. I would love to know how many different varieties of just “ferns” there were (or begonias…or dahlias….or roses…there were more varieties of roses than I have ever seen).
We got a free wheelchair to take mom around in to save her legs for the mountain hiking that we are going to do in the next week! So, Steve and Dad pushed Mom around while Jayna kept straying from the group lost in the wonder and beauty of it all. While we were in the Rose garden, Stephen actually got lost in the wonder – he was gone for at least 20 minutes. Dad and Mom were just as bad in the Rose Garden. Mom actually got out of the wheelchair and posed for Dad in front of some spectacular flower scape at least 30 times!

After we left the gardens, we headed south to Victoria to find a place to eat fresh fish and see the sights there. We easily found a parking place and began walking down Government Street to see the Parliament bulding and the Fairmount Empress Inn. The Inn was the first thing we came upon. Mom and Dad were arguing as to whether they had been here before. Mom distinctly remembered that they took a cruise ship through here on their way to Alaksa. Dad said absolutely “no” they had never been to Vancouver Island before. Mom kept showing Dad all the things they had seen before and Dad said he didn’t remember anything. Then all of a sudden something struck a cord and he remembered it all.
We took pictures of the Parliament building and the lovely wharf. It was a delight to see so many sea planes come in on the bay waters while we stood on the boardwalk bridge overlooking the bay.
Mom and Dad Beutler found some lady that lived in Vancouver and asked her to give us some recommendation as to where we can get a good fresh fish meal. She mentioned Pasquales, so off we headed to eat the first fresh fish meal we have had opportunity to indulge in so far. We orderd this King crab appetizer that was absolutely beautiful. Every bite that anyone took you heard “Ummm”…. So we knew that this culinary experience was going to be a delight. Steve and Dad ordered fresh Dunguinese Crab, Mom ordered crab cakes and Jayna ordered Halibut. What was the best meal? Well mom would say the crab cakes, Steve and Dad would say the crab and Jayna votes for the Halibut! So, we must have made great choices!
We took off for China town to see the great chineese gate to the entrance of this part of town. Also today was the first day of their Deuce Festival. There were little deuce coupes everywhere you looked. Of course the guys were more interested in the cars than the girls. We teased them that the girls would see the flowers today and the guys would see the cars. I think all four of us enjoyed both the cars and the flowers. It was a lovely day. However, I would say it was an expensive day. We spent $200.00 for the ferry trip. $140 for the meal; $125 for the Garden Tickets… ouch. Oh well, tomorrow will be a driving day, not much money can be spent driving other than gas – they sell gas by the litre here – however, we estimate that gas is between $3.60-$4.00 a gallon. We would have to look up online to see how many litre to a gallon.

Tell Kinsen that Grandma and Grandpa saw a lovely mermaid that would sing and play her accordian if you would put some money in her fin...

Hard to decide what pictures to post

It was our intention to go to Vancouver British Columbia for the day and see the sights there. But when we got into Vancouver and were discussing the tourist sights available to us we decided to forgo Vancouver and head to Whistler, where the Olympics took place this past winter (2010). So with great high anticipation we took off on the Sea to the Sky Highway Oh my…I think this road was the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. We stopped at least 20 times snapping millions of pictures. One of the stop had 360 degree panoramic view of mountains encircling us with snow covered peaks outlining the crystal blue skyline. Once we reached Whistler we were surprised to find the delightful ski village of Whistler. It looked a lot like the ski village in Lake Tahoe. Ski shops, restaurants, sculptures, ponds, waterfalls and ski lifts, gondolas and mountain bike trails everywhere. You could see the ski slopes/paths. Of course the mountains were covered with grass in July, but you could see the green/blue/black diamond coded slopes of each trail. I saw some green trails and I really believe that I could ski. There were green trails even at the very top of the mountains. There were three tiers/levels of skiing. Each tier had a rest stop where you could purchase hot chocolate, cookies, soup, sandwiches, (and of course ski hats, scarves, gloves, hand/feet warmers, etc). We took the gondola trip from peak to peak. Peak to Peak was the term used to travel between the Whistler Mountain and Blackstone Mountain. Whistler is nestled in between the two mountains. The first level we needed to take the ski lift. You could see the mountain bikers mastering the mountain trails (which were actually the ski trails). You would see them “jump” their bikes over the mogles. As we climbed the second tier there were a few bikers, but not many. The terrain had more snow and the trails seemed more difficult. By the time we reached the second level rest stop, snow covered the ground. But, it was about 60 degrees, but as the wind blew, you knew it was cold cold cold up there. Picture snapping everywhere. People were talking in every language imaginable.
We then headed up the mountain further as we got in the “peak to peak” gondola that took us from Mt Whistler to the Blackstone Mountain. The view was incredible. From thousands of feet in the air you could see the little village of Whistler nestled between the two mountains. There was an icey blue lake and rushing mountain streams. At the very tip of the Blackstone Mountain there were actually 5-6 ski slopes that were open and people were skiing down the inclines.
We found all kinds of good things to eat – blueberry crepes, ice cream, spaghetti (at the Old Spaghetti factory). Our hotels have had very good breakfast displays – a kind of all you can eat buffet. We typically fill up at breakfast and then don’t eat until 4:00 or so…(with a snack here and there)!

The way back to Vancouver was equally gorgeous as the same mountains on the sea to sky highway in the evening, going the opposite direction looked like something we had never seen before. We stopped at the Shannon Falls and snapped many pictures. Naturally Stephen had to get his feet in the mountain stream and play on the rocks. There were a lot of people around snapping pictures of the falls, so he didn’t get his head in the water, just yet anyway.
Once again, by the time we got to our hotel, we dropped into bed exhausted.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pikes Place Market

What an incredible marketplace! If you have never been to Pikes Place Market, you really need to come and share the experience with us! We had a great time. There are fresh fruits, fresh fish, fresh breads, fresh vegetables, home made candy, fresh flowers, anything fresh you can imagine is everywhere. It was fun to see the people come in off of the cruise ships and purchase flowers for thier ship cabins. The flower stalls would make up hundreds of gorgeous bouquets, wrap them in brown paper and sell them for $5, $10, $15. We would pay $45-$50 for this kind of bouquet. The flowers were glorious. Stephen said that these flowers look as pretty as the flowers in the "seed catalogues" that come in December! (ha, that is a reference to his last sermon for anyone who was at church last Sunday)

We had heard that the number 1 thing to do in Seattle Washington is to go on one of the Seattle Food Tours. We didnt think that Mom Beutler could handle a 2 hour walking tour, so we found out where the Seattle Food tours take the people and what they eat and we began our own Food tour! What an incredible experience. We started out with cheese curds from Beecher Cheeses and then ate the most incredible beef and cheese Perogshis, fresh cherries, fresh apricots, fresh pears and nectarines; on to fresh clam chowder that was out of this world! We ate potstickers from Mum Shu Chineese restaurant and bought a bag full of mini donuts to share! We found carmelized orange cinnamon almonds! We watched the fresh fish markets throw fresh fish across the market to each other. All of a sudden some man would begin singing "a bag of mussles"....and the entire bag of mussels would be hurled across the stalls. Then a song would begin "a big fresh halibut is flying through the air" and there would go the fresh halibut! Very, very entertaining that's for sure.

After we left the Pikes Place Market we headed for Pioneer village which is the old Klondike gold Mining town about 1890's. This area of the city was filled with majestic Romanesque architecture and laden with history. You could imagine the Saloons, brothels, old west shoot outs and fine ladies dressed in beautiful clothing adorning the streets. This section of town was a mixture of "class" and "no class". Beautiful iron gates and fences, lovely flowers, ancient trees, and Totem Poles. We are seeing totem poles everywhere we go. I'm not sure about the tribe of Indians that live here, we have run across 5-6 tribes already.

We became tired of Seattle City Life, so Steve loaded us all in the car and we headed for the closest mountain that we could see off in the distance. Mt Rainier was an incredible mountain. Here are all of these mountains all over the landscape and then there is Mt Rainier. The normal mountains were about 10,000 feet above sea level and Mt Rainier was 20,000 feet. It stood head and shoulders above the rest of the mountains in the area. It is magnificent. We drove around Mt Rainier National Park and snapped about 200 pictures on Mt Rainier alone.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Orca Island

We were up with the sun again this morning and were on the road heading to Orca Island by 7:00 am. The drive to Anacortes Washington was lovely. Actually the little town of Anacortes was a charming sea coast town. The ferry cost $75.00 for all of us to cross over to the island. It was fun to drive the car onto the ferry and it was quite easy. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it was very well organized and the car organization flow was incredible. The ferry ride to Orca Island was gorgeous, however, we were disappointed with the island itself. We could drive around the island, but the evergreen trees were so tall that you could not see Puget Sound or any of the bays. We wanted to look for Orca Whales along the coast, but the coastline was so high and covered with trees that there was no place that you could sit and watch the lovely coastline. The tide was low while we were there and so there were not any beaches that were clean and suitable. We looked into staying overnight in one of the bed and breakfasts, but the cost was very high (Over $300). We were very glad that we didn’t stay there as the Bed and Breakfasts were not “that nice”.

On Orca Island there was a drive up to Mount Constitution. Once you hiked to the summit of the Mountain the view of Mount Baker was breath taking. It was well worth the climb. We even got Mom up the Mountain. The picture taking opportunities were everywhere.
We drove on to Bellingham WA to spend the night. Nothing very exciting about Bellingham except the hotel was very nice and the breakfast was very, very good.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vacation begins

Yeah. Vacation has started. We boarded the airplane and headed for Seattle Washington. Seattle is quite the eclectic city. Everywhere you look there is modern art! From the Seattle Space Needle to the SAM Olympic Park. The Space needle was interesting to see and we walked around the Seattle center for a long time. There was a music/Sci Fi building that was wierd. There was no rhyme or reason to the architecture. However, the colors were beautiful and psychidelic. .

We also went to the SAM Olympic Sculpture Park. Once again...I just can't understand modern art. Someone took a washing machine, a dishwasher and a desk - threw it out in a weedy field and called it art. There was a concrete bench, a plastic green chair and a plastic box. It was entitled "A Bench, a Chair and a Box". BUT, people were looking at the stuff and it has been called "art" since the World's Fair in 1962.

Stephen's parents are moving slowly, but they are having a wonderful time. Seattle is very hilly and Mom's knees are complaining loudly. Stephen is doing very well. I'm no doctor, but I think he is doing so well because the temperature out here is about 70 degrees. It is cool, not humid and he can breathe much better. He has not been wearing out like he did at home when it was 90 degrees with 85% humidity. Steve has tolerated the city tours, etc...but he really "turns on" when we look to the east and he sees the mountains. So much so that the second day we were in Seattle, he saw Mt Ranier in the background, and he packed us all in the car and drove 3 hours just to see it!

By the way, the car that Alamo gave us to drive is a great big Grand Marquis. We affectionately call it "the big boat". It is very comfortable to ride in - but it has been a little daunting to drive it amongst the little tiny mountain roads and the big city freeways.