In which we go to Canada

Flashback: Spring Break 2005, Sophomore year of college. Jeff and I had been dating just over a year and we and a couple of friends decided to drive to Canada. Why there? Well we were too poor to fly anywhere warm, we could try skiing and because the legal drinking age was 18. A few days before the trip everyone had dropped out except for Jeff and I, but we decided to go anyway. I should’ve known I was going to marry him then because how else do you drive 1024 miles in one week WITHOUT fancy GPS equipment or iPhones in a country where my middle school French was not helping us out that much?

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Roughly our route (and remember this is pre-GPS days. Durham -> Boston -> Quebec -> Montreal -> Durham. That last stretch we drove in one day.. something like 14 hours!

That trip was so much fun; I’m so glad we ended up still going. Sadly most of my pictures were destroyed or corrupted a long time ago, but here is some vintage Jeff and Elise:

Young us visiting the ice hotel in Quebec

Young us visiting the ice hotel in Quebec

Snowy streets of Quebec

Snowy streets of Quebec

Flash forward: So we find ourselves so close to the Canadian border once again – only three hours via I-5 to Vancouver, but just haven’t found the time to make it to our snowy (or on this side, temperate) northern neighbors.

After our hike out on the Dungeness Spit we drove on to Port Angeles to catch the ferry to Victoria, BC. The city lies at the end of the Vancouver Peninsula and is basically only accessible by plane or boat. This ferry was much larger and it took us over an hour to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca, much longer than the 15-20 minute one across the Sound.

Tickets and the view from the ferry.

Tickets and the view from the ferry.

Us on a boat (sweaty from our hike)

Us on a boat (sweaty from our hike)
And look what our phone can do 8 years later – take pictures, edit them AND has the INTERNETS! All in our pockets. And all this on a 2+ year old phone.. Amazing.

Once we landed we checked into the Hotel Grand Pacific (thank you Hotwire and your awesome deals!) and hurried through a much needed shower before heading out to find some food. Victoria (and Seattle for that matter) is so far north that the sun is still pretty high even at 8:30pm, so it didn’t seem too late out until the lovely people at The Keg brought our our steaks – then we ate like the famished hikers we were!

The next day we explored around the Inner Harbour where we were staying – it’s kind of touristy, but fun to see all the cute little shops, boats, seaplanes coming in from Vancouver and Seattle and the lovely Fairmont Empress hotel and old British Columbia Parliament buildings.

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The Empress Hotel

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Boats in the Inner Harbour – early morning before the throngs of people started to come out.

After a quick breakfast we headed out to the Butchart Gardens. Victoria is where a lot of people in Canada go to retire due to the temperate weather (it’s basically their Florida), so they’re slightly obsessed with gardening. I was excited to see the Butchart Gardens because there was a picture of them on my grandparents’ wall for so many years when I was younger. They did a lot of traveling when my granddaddy retired and I loved flipping through their photo books, always wanting to see the places for myself. Jeff is humoring me and we’ve been checking off places that hung on the picture wall pretty diligently (the Badlands were our last ones).

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The exact picture my grandmother has!

The exact picture my grandmother has!

The whole place was pretty incredible – some of the best gardens we’ve ever seen. Neither of us has anything close to a green thumb, so I like to think we appreciate this amount of horticultural knowledge and expertise on a well respected level.

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Their Japanese garden section outdid Portland’s entire garden devoted to the theme.

DSC_0412All too soon we had to head back to the ferry because unlike when you cross into Canada and can just show up at the dock, the US customs agents need you to be back 1.5 hours before your crossing to ask you a bunch of questions.. and then make you wait for an hour and twenty minutes.

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We were once again blessed with clear skies and smooth waters.

Hello Olympic Mountains, peeking out from your ever present clouds.

Hello Olympic Mountains, peeking out from your ever present clouds.

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Bye, bye Victoria!

From Port Angeles we headed back to the Kingston-Edmonds ferry and then back down into Seattle. It was a quick, perfect trip!

A: Seattle; B: Dungeness Spit; C: Victoria and then back again.

A: Seattle; B: Dungeness Spit; C: Victoria and then back again.

In which we hike the Dungeness Spit

Forgive my lack of posts, I’ve been on a month long anesthesia rotation and maybe it’s long hours around the gasses or the 4am wake ups, but when I get home all I want to do is try not to fall asleep until 8pm so I can go to bed and do it all over again the next day.

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It’s been a wonderful rotation though, and I’ll be sorry for it to end. I’m on a week of vacation this coming week, so there is no excuse for me not to play a little catch up on the old bloggy blog. First: our little corner of the internet turned ONE YEAR! on May 21st which is 1) way longer than I thought I’d keep this going and 2) kind of a nice accomplishment. I should’ve done some great post about it, but well I didn’t.. so here’s hoping any future hypothetical children get a better first birthday party.

A map of all the countries (43!) where people have stumbled upon our blog. We've been viewed 4,142 times (4,000 of which are probably my mom).

A map of all the countries (43!) where people have stumbled upon our blog. We’ve been viewed 4,142 times (4,100 of which are probably my mom and aunts..).

We had originally planned to drive down the Pacific coast this week and see San Francisco for my week of vacation, but for a variety of reasons we decided that we’d use the time to play our favorite game of tourist in our own backyard instead. This weekend we started off by popping up to Victoria, British Columbia for a quick get away. We hopped on the Edmonds-Kingston ferry like the pro Washington ferry riders we now are and sailed over to the Peninsula.

We bypassed the huge Renaissance Fair going on in Port Gamble and first stopped by the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, home of the Dungeness Spit, the largest natural sand spit in the US (I know, I know, contain your excitement).

DSC_0388 It’s this huge stretch of sand, rock and driftwood that juts out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the passage of water that separates the Peninsula from Canada and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Puget Sound.

DSC_0385This hike is famous for its wildlife, especially its abundance of bird species. To be honest, I was in it for the seals, sea lions and otters of which we didn’t see ANY! Lame nature not showing up when it was convenient for us. So we had to make do playing around the driftwood ourselves:

 

DSC_0381At the end of the 5.5mi stretch is a lighthouse where we enjoyed a well earned picnic lunch. The grounds and light used to be maintained by the US Coast Guard but is now kept up by the New Dungeness Light volunteers who pay to come spend a week every two years on maintenance and giving tours. They’re a bunch of adorable elderly folks who were finishing up their week when we were out there – they even passed us on our return hike in their “Keeper Mobiles”. PS – you too can sign up to be a light house keeper, how awesome does that sound??

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From the top you could look out and see Victoria, BC – our next destination!

As well as the long hike back to the mainland.

As well as the long hike back to the mainland.

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After lunch we hiked back to the mainland so we could continue on our way to Victoria (nothing like booking a non-refundable hotel room to make you quick hop step it back so you can catch the last ferry to BC!).

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After 11 miles of sand and driftwood our legs were feeling it, but as far as hikes go this is a good one. And despite the lack of adorable baby seals I was hoping for we had amazing weather, which can be just as good.