Posts

The last full day of our Northwest road trip began with a ferry ride yesterday.



The ferry was to take us from Victoria to Vancouver.

When we arrived for the ferry, approximately 60 minutes early, we got in line with our car – it looks like a bunch of cars stopped on a freeway.  You then turn off the engine and sit in the car or lock it up and head over to the rest stop, complete with restaurant and shops until you are notified to start boarding the ferry.


We felt a bit more experienced this time with the process of bringing our rental car onto the ferry (as it was our second time) and walking upstairs to the passenger levels.

What we weren’t prepared for was how huge this ferry was.  There were 3 levels for cars, busses and even semi-trailer trucks.

Food options consisted of a large cafe and coffee shop.



There was a very large gift shop AND a video arcade – my kids would love this!


You could also venture outside to see the beauty of the islands we passed by.

After docking just outside of Vancouver, we promptly headed toward the city.


We were somewhat surprised at how much traffic there was and it took a very long time to arrive at our hotel downtown.


This morning, after a quick breakfast, we were going to take the city trolley tour so that we could hop on and off to see the many attractions of this vibrant city.

However, we were informed because of the ongoing transit strike, that the tour was delayed.  So, we decided to go out on our own.

We headed toward Granville Island Public Market, which is located in the downtown area.


It is a fun and creative place with artist studios where you watch art being created before your eyes – a definite draw for both locals and tourists alike.


Stores offering unique wares are scattered throughout the small island.


If you have pets, this shop in a railroad car likely have just the right thing for your 4-legged friend.


When I travel, I like to find stores that sell handcrafted items made from local residents.  I found a beautiful Christmas ornament in this little store made by an 80-year old woman.


As we walked through the streets of the public market, there was a small dog that was walking about in its own.

He was obviously at home and comfortable with his surroundings.  He paid no mind to us or any other passersby.


Now before you think that this is a lost dog – think again.  He belongs to one of the local vendors and has free reign of the market.


Our attention was drawn to a nearby lake where a family of Canadian geese were swimming.


On shore, we met up with another feathered family.  I found it symbolic that on our last day in Canada, that we would see Canadian geese.

We had hoped to see more of this beautiful city, but there was so much traffic due to the transit strike and it took a very long time to travel small distances, so we made the difficult decision to cut our visit short by a few hours and head back toward the States.


On our way out of the city, we spotted this community garden.

Vancouver is quite close to the U.S. border and we  soon found ourselves sitting a long line to cross over the border.  We settled ourselves in for a long wait.


As we inched our way closer, we saw this archway at the actual border.  I like this wonderful statement about our two countries.


People anxious to visit the United States took turns taking pictures next to this sign while waiting for their cars to go through the border crossing.


It’s almost our turn!

While we had a wonderful time in Canada, I didn’t like having to pay for an international phone plan, which had extremely limited data (which I went over).  

While waiting in line to cross, once we got within feet of the border my phone suddenly got a  ‘No Service’ signal and then once we crossed, my regular carrier took over and I was so happy to be able to use my normal cell phone allowances again.


Since we had some extra time to fill due to our shortened visit to Vancouver, we stopped by the Fairhaven historic downtown neighborhood in Bellingham, WA.  


Many of the stores had garden themed products and while I have no plans on seeing the ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ movie, I may need to read this book 🙂


We spent about an hour shopping, spending time in a clothing boutique, checking out the local bookstore and admiring some really lovely handmade woodwork.

The last night of our road trip is to be spent in Mount Vernon, WA before we leave in the morning for Seattle where we will fly home.

Mount Vernon is known for being the largest producer of flower bulbs.  They also have the Skagit Tulip Festival every April.

Choosing Mount Vernon for the last stop of our trip was largely due to its proximity from the Seattle airport AND a small garden that we wanted to visit.

LaConner Flats Farm & Garden is an 11-acre display garden of a large family-owned farm.

The gardens are free to visit and you are welcome to walk around on your own.


The centerpiece of the garden is made up of circular beds of rose bushes surrounding a gazebo – an ideal place for a wedding.


The backdrop for the roses and gazebo are formally shaped shrubs underplanted with flowering perennials.


However, it was what was behind the formal garden space that really interested me…


Behind the formally-pruned shrubs were the more informal areas of the garden.


Trees, shrubs and perennials were planted in a carefree mixture, tied together by pathways of green grass.


To be honest, there were plenty of weeds intermixed with the flowering shrubs and plants.  But, it is this untamed, natural type of garden that I like best.




Several, large flowering shrubs provided vivid displays of color.

As we were admiring the flowers, we rounded the corner and came face to face with four little goats…


They were busy eating the fresh green grass and initially paid no attention to us.

A little robin stood in our path and was quite friendly.



He didn’t move until we got quit close and then hopped to the fence. Robins are rare in my neck of the woods, so I always look forward to seeing them when I travel.


The goats finally noticed our presence and came over to see if we had any food to share.  Sadly, we didn’t.


I crouched down to take a picture of the friendliest goat and didn’t realize how close I was until he licked my camera’s lens.


Even though we didn’t have any food for them that didn’t stop one of them from following my mother as we walked along the path.


The pathway along the goat’s enclosure was just on the other side of the formal garden, which was separated by large shrubs.


Alongside the pathway, I saw a plant that I have rarely seen before – holly!


As we neared the end of our tour of the garden, I looked back toward our cute little friends and was trying to figure out how I could possibly talk my husband and HOA into letting us have goats 😉


This garden is surrounded by fields of wheat and the Cascade mountain range can be seen in the distance.


It is well worth the visit if you ever find yourself traveling in Northern Washington State.

We have had so many wonderful adventures during our fifth annual road trip.  But, I am excited to come home and see my husband, kids, grandkids, dogs, garden – you get the picture…

Our last day in Victoria was reserved for a visit to a very famous garden.  Butchart Gardens is the place to go for visitors to Victoria.


Years ago, my in-laws took me and my husband, as a college graduation gift, to Seattle and Victoria.  The year was 1998, and I was finishing up the last semester of my horticulture degree.


Flush with my new knowledge of plants and horticultural practices, I was especially looking forward to visiting this beautiful garden.  Fast forward 17 years later, I was excited to go back.



My mother and fellow travel companion.
Immediately upon leaving the parking lot, we were faced with fragrant, yellow wisteria that draped over an arbor.


Walking a few steps further, was another splash of color with anemone flowers in pinks, purples and white.

I hadn’t even gone through the entrance and I had already taken a number of pictures – it was going to be a veritable photographic feast!


Like most areas in Victoria, colorful hanging baskets could be seen all over the garden.

Butchart Gardens are over 100 years old and were created by the Butchart family.  Almost one million visitors come to visit this special place, which sits about 30 minutes outside of Victoria.


Today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite areas in the garden.

Garden art is tastefully spread throughout the garden, usually in the form of animals.



One of my favorite color combinations is the bright green, spiky foliage of iris and its vibrant, purple flowers.


One of the many things that I liked was that the trash receptacles had plants growing on top.


I really think that this was a great idea.  Imagine trash cans acting as the base for plants that add beauty.  I love it!

Here are a couple more…



The garden is separated into several smaller gardens.  My favorite is the Sunken Garden.


This spectacular garden was created in a former quarry.

A long stairway leads to the bottom of the garden and winding paths invite your to explore more.



It was interesting to watch the people exclaim over the beauty of the gardens many were from other countries including Australia, China, Great Britain, Japan and Spain plus the good old U.S.A.


Because I had visited the gardens before, I didn’t feel as if I had to hurry in order to be able to see everything.  Today, I decided to walk slowly through my favorite parts.  As a result, I spent most of my time in the Sunken Garden.




At the end of the Sunken Garden is a lake with a ‘dancing’ fountain.



Different variations of spray patterns made onlookers stop for a few minutes to enjoy the dancing waters.  

After climbing out of the Sunken Garden, I strolled through other areas of the garden on my way to the Rose Garden.




Blankets of flowers surround, what I believe are crab apple trees.


Love the black bearded iris, don’t you?


Brightly-colored dahlia.


Clematis growing up on an old stump.


There is one flower in the Butchart Gardens that is a favorite of many.  This is the Himalayan blue poppy.


You can find them scattered throughout the gardens and their vivid blue flowers attract everyone’s attention.


They aren’t easy to grow.  To get them to germinate, you need to place the seeds in a moist paper towel and put in a Ziploc bag.  Then you place the bag with the paper towel and seeds and stick in the refrigerator (in the vegetable crisper) for 4 weeks before planting.

There are blue poppy seeds available in the and I bought two packages to try to grow them in my own garden.


There are several water features scattered throughout the gardens and I liked this one with the three fish, encircled with colorful anemone flowers.


The Japanese Garden is not to be missed.  I love the varying shades of green and contrasting textures.


As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to take care of many garden spaces within Butchart Gardens.


Watching these young girls working, planting new annual flowers, reminded me of the years spent as a horticulturist on golf courses.


These are but a select few of the 319 photos I took of these truly stunning gardens.  

I hope you enjoyed them!

Before leaving Butchart Gardens, a visit to this special place isn’t complete without rubbing the nose of the ‘mascot’.


This is ‘Tacca’, which is a bronze replica of a wild boar – the original was created in 1620 in Italy.  ‘Taco’ is named for the sculptor who made the original.


It is said that if you rub his snout, you will have good luck.  So, millions of visitors have rubbed Tacca’s snout over the years.

After leaving the gardens, we drove onto get on the ferry to Vancouver, where we will embark on the next adventure of our trip.

More to come tomorrow!

Day 5 of our Northwest road trip was filled with a wonderful adventure and for the first day since we left I didn’t spend any money in gift shops, which was a welcome respite for my wallet.


Our day began in Port Angeles.  Since our hotel didn’t provide breakfast, we headed to out to eat.



We ate at the Chestnut Cottage with was an English-themed restaurant that had a fabulous menu.  It took me a while to decide what to eat, but at the end, I knew that I just had to try the giant apricot scone.

It was delicious!

Now at home, I am fairly healthy in my eating habits.  But when on vacation, part of the experience of learning different regions, is to try out the food.

After breakfast, we headed out to the Olympic National Forest, which takes up the majority of the Olympic peninsula in Washington state.


After driving to the Olympic National Park’s Visitor Center, just outside of Port Angeles, we decided to take one of the nearby trails into the beautiful, lush forest.


Everywhere you looked, you could see evidence of lush, green growth as a result of the large amount of rain that falls in many areas within the national park.

Ferns carpeted the ground.

I’ve always loved ferns, especially as their curved ends gradually unfurl their leaves.



Moss also covered many of the exposed surfaces of the trees.


While parts of the forest were very shady – there were also areas where the sun shone through.


Big leaf maple trees added a bright shade of green to the darker foliage of the other trees in the forest.


Did you know that the majority of a tree’s roots grow outward and not downward?

This is the root mass of a large tree that had fallen and you can see how wide the roots grew.


I really enjoy bright green moss and there was plenty of it.


Throughout the forest were fallen trees that were slowly breaking down and returning to the ground.  Here you can see fungi that are growing on a recently cut tree.  Over time, they will help break down the wood, which will return it back to the soil.


Walking down the path, my mother noticed this tree, which at first glance, appeared dead since it was hollow.


Yet, when you looked up, you could see live branches filled with leaves.

How can that be?

The living tissue of trees or in other words their vascular system that brings water and nutrients up and down the tree is located on the outer portion of the tree – not the inside.

**It might be interesting to some of you to find that the ‘Twilight’ book series was set in the Olympic National Forest and small towns nearby.


After our hike into the forest, we got in the car and took to the road to Hurricane Ridge, which is high up in the Olympic National Forest.

As we climbed, we began to see snow-capped peaks.  


18 miles later, we arrived to a breathtaking view of  Mount Olympus alongside other notable mountain peaks.


It was cold and windy at the top, but that didn’t keep hikers away.


Looking at the trees next to the visitor’s center, you can see the evidence of the hurricane force winds and how they affect the growth.


Adjoining the visitor’s center is a large meadow, flanked by trees.  There were several walking paths and we got started on the second hike of the day.


There were a few deer grazing nearby who didn’t seem worried about our presence.


In fact, the closer we got, more came out from the trees to graze.



Wildflowers were beginning to grow with blooms soon to follow.  This lupine will soon be covered in purple blossoms.  In the meantime, you can see where water has collected in the center of the leaves.


Soon, it was time to head back down the mountains in order to catch our ferry to Victoria, Canada.


I am not afraid to admit that I am relatively inexperienced when it comes to taking ferries.  While I have been on them a few times (another trip to Canada and one in Scotland), this time we were taking our car with us.

We got in line waiting for the ferry to arrive about an hour before it was due to depart.


We had to fill out a yellow paper with our names and birthdates, which also listed the items we couldn’t bring into Canada.


The ferry arrived and the vehicles on it drove off while we waited.

I was shocked to see five large trucks coming off the ferry.  Some even had two trailers attached.  I know next to nothing about boats, but I was surprised that they could carry so many cars AND big trucks.


Finally, it was our turn to board.



We were directed into a lane and then told to lock our car and go up to the passenger area.  No one could stay in their vehicle during the voyage.



The trip took over an hour from Port Angeles to Victoria, Canada.


As we approached Victoria, we were told to go downstairs and get in our cars while the ferry docked.

Then we drove off, showed our passports and were on our way to enjoy several days in Canada.

Tomorrow, we will explore the very English city of Victoria, which is also known as the ‘City of Gardens’. 

For those of you who have been fortunate to have visited the ‘Emerald City’, you know how beautiful and vibrant Seattle is.


Both my mother and I have been here numerous times and decided to spend most of our time in other parts of the Northwest, but we couldn’t just pass Seattle by.  We had to spend at least a little while enjoying the sights and sounds.


So where do you go in Seattle when you only have a few hours to spare?




Over 100 years old, Pike Place Market has been described as “Heaven on Earth” and “a browser’s heaven”.

I like how AAA describes this iconic place in their guidebook: “The sights, the smells, the sidewalk musicians, the seafood-tossing fishmongers and the ambling crowds all make it a sensory experience of the highest order.”

Of course, the fish mongers are perhaps, the most popular attraction as they toss large pieces of fish in order to fill orders.







Fish mongers interact with visitors and help them find the perfect seafood for their table.


I must admit that it was fun to watch them yell and toss large fish to each other.






While I don’t eat large amounts of seafood, I do like to see the different kinds available.  Pike Place Market has so many different types of fresh fish and other seafood available.




In addition to the fresh seafood, Pike Place Market is also known for their fresh produce and flowers, which was more up my alley.






The produce was so bright and colorful and looked absolutely delicious.






I love berries and grapes!  Once I get home, I plan on making some jam from my own blackberry bushes.




Farmers markets are great places to see vegetables that may not make it to your local supermarket.




Of course, I always tend to find myself spending a lot of time next to the flower stalls.






I decided that if I were ever to get married again  that I would have my bouquet made up of peonies.
Just a note – I have been happily married almost 29 years and have no plans on walking down the aisle again.




Pike Place Market is also filled with shops and a large variety of ethnic food places.








You can easily buy a baguette at a French bakery, pick up some fresh cheese and some fruit for a delicious lunch.


There is one place where there is always a line of people eager to get a certain beverage…




Pike Place Market is where the first Starbucks opened in 1971.




People happily wait in line for their favorite Starbucks beverage so that they can say that they visited the first one.


In addition to the seafood, fresh produce, flowers and great places to eat are a variety of shops carrying souvenirs, clothing and just about everything else.




‘Rachel’ is the mascot of Pike Place Market and is a large piggy bank.  The money she collects is used to benefit social services.  People say if you rub her snout after giving a donation that you will have good luck.


The marketplace is big and ideal for walking and people watching.  There is no ‘secret’ method for seeing everything.  Simply walk into one of the many entrances and just stroll throughout.


I came away with several flavored pastas, including chocolate, habanero chili pasta and garlic chives, which I will share with my family once I get home.  


After leaving the market and Seattle, we headed up north toward Canada.  Along the way, we decided to visit the town of Sequim, which is famous for the lavender that is grown there.


I was surprised to learn that they produce the most lavender in the United States.


We decided to visit one of the lavender farms, called Purple Haze Lavender.




The sight of the cute farm house greeted us as we drove into the parking lot for the small store onsite.




Small lavender plants were available to buy right outside of the store.




While the lavender won’t be in bloom until summer, it was still beautiful.




This spot in Washington, is relatively dry, receiving only 17 inches of rain per year, which makes it a great area to grow lavender, which don’t like soggy soils.




Among the grounds were blooming clematis climbing over an arbor.




Chickens, a peacock and an orchard filled with fruit trees were located alongside the lavender fields.




The store had just about any type of lavender product, including lavender ice-cream.




Who wouldn’t love a view like this?




We left the farm with a new appreciation for lavender.  


You can visit Sequim for their annual Lavender Festival in July.


Our journey resumed toward Port Angeles, Washington.  Tomorrow, we will tour the Olympic National Forest before leaving for Victoria, Canada.



Day 3 of our road trip began as another cloudy day and our fun-filled day contained an unexpected diversion.



The day began with a quick breakfast at our hotel in Astoria, which sits on the northeastern most point of Oregon.  The plan was to head to see the house from the 80’s movie ‘The Goonies’ and then head to Fort Clatsop, which was where Lewis & Clark’s expedition ended up in the early 1800’s.  




But first things first – as a fan of ‘The Goonies’, we headed toward the house first.




The way to the house was well marked.

The house is privately owned, but you can venture up to the house.

Doesn’t it look the same as in the movie?

The garden around the house was nice too…

California poppies were in full bloom in the retaining wall underneath the house.

Believe it or not, this blue-flowering plant is the annual lobelia.  Evidently, they love cool, moist weather.

The pink roses were so vibrant.

There was a little arbor with white clematis.

After seeing the house, we drove back through town, along the coast of the Columbia River where you could see large ships and signs of the importance of fishing.  The sea lions along the pier were quite noisy and could be heard from far away. 

As we drive through downtown Astoria, we came upon a street market.  Of course, we had to stop.


The market stretched 3 blocks through downtown Astoria.


It was a live scene with vendors selling their goods, street performers, plants and unique food choices.


While most vendors sold items you would expect to see at a street fair (things made from wood, jewelry and clothing) – there were also some unusual items such as this gentleman who made guitars from old cigar boxes.

I must confess that I went the more traditional route and bought a bracelet for me and a necklace for my daughter, Ruthie.


Street performers played ‘Top 40’ songs, including Pharrel William’s song “Happy” using an electric guitar and drums made out of 5-gallon plastic pails.


The individual sounds from the drums varied depending on how high they were from the ground.

They were surprisingly good.

Plants had a large presence at the street fair.  Different nurseries set up booths selling a beautiful variety of plants.

Clematis
While I can’t grow hosta clematis in my desert garden, I do enjoy seeing them whenever I travel.

Lilacs
Weigela
While you’d be hard pressed to find most of the plants on sale in the desert southwest, I did find one plant that was being sold that grows great in my backyard…


Salvia greggii ‘Lipstick’ had red and white flowers on bright green foliage.  I love and so do the hummingbirds.  It blooms fall, winter and spring in my garden.  It was nice finding a plant that can grow in both places.


Fresh produce such as apples, asparagus, pears and sugar snap peas were on display.


This shopper was well prepared pulling a wagon filled with his purchases.


One thing that I have really enjoyed in the street markets I have visited on our road trip are the floral booths.


Gorgeous cut flowers are combined in a variety of beautiful arrangements.




The prices were amazing too!


I love peonies!


Before we left, we stopped by the food vendors.  There were a lot of ethnic foods available including Asian, Greek, Indian and Mexican.

Now, living in the Southwest, I am very familiar with Mexican food.  But, I must admit that I have never seen these unique offerings before…


I admit that I wasn’t even the least bit tempted to try bacon-wrapped or deep-fried asparagus. 
Even as an adult, I still don’t like asparagus.

On our way out, we stopped by a booth with a large number of baked goods.


We skipped the pies, but did grab 2 large cookies for lunch later.

Planters decorate the face of an empty building in downtown Astoria.

We enjoyed our time in Astoria very much and could have easily spent another day there.


As we drove away, we spotted two deer on the side of the road…


The next leg of our journey led us to the second state on our road trip.


We crossed the bridge over the Columbia River into Washington.


Yeah…that’s a lot of lumber.

We arrived in Seattle before dinner and walked a 1/2 mile down the road to attend an evening church service.  Then it was dinner at Chipotle.

Tomorrow, we will explore the downtown area!

Our second day in Oregon started out with an even greater appreciation of this beautiful state.


The day started out with walking down the street from our downtown hotel for a gourmet breakfast.


Okay, not really.  But we did walk down the street toward Pioneer Square, we ended up eating at McDonald’s for breakfast.


Although our road trips typically find us in a new place each day – there are a few things that we do each day.



The first being, my mother stopping by the nearest Starbucks for coffee.

Sometimes, it isn’t always easy to find a Starbucks, but, in the Northwest, there is just about one on every street corner.

The first stop on our itinerary today was to visit Portland’s Saturday Market, which is the largest continually running arts and crafts market in the country.  


The vendors have to make the items that they sell and each item must be approved.  So, you can imagine that the quality of what was offered was quite high.


There was a unique variety of things to tempt shoppers, including the booth filled with items made from old silverware.  I must confess that I was tempted to buy the hummingbird wind chime, made from old butter knives, forks and spoons.


Another booth offered duct tape wallets, custom made to order, which made a great birthday gift for my son.  I enjoyed watching them make it.

How about a custom-made garden gnome made in your likeness while you watch?


If you are into bonsai, there were several types of bonsai plants you could choose from.


I liked this succulent shadow box, but there was no drainage for the succulents, which would be a problem eventually.


Other items included hand carved children’s toys, beautiful woodwork kitchen utensils, clothing, jewelry and much more.


At the end of one aisle was a florist booth with buckets of fresh flowers.

The florists created absolutely beautiful bouquets and I would have gotten one if possible.
Those interested in henna tattoos, having their palms read or buying bracelets and necklaces made from hemp, also had places to shop.
The Saturday Market was the place to be on the weekend and it was fun to people watch.
Of course, there were street performers and best of all, lots of food trucks.
There was so much to do and see there, that we had to go back to our car and put more $ in the meter.
After a fun morning of shopping, we headed back to our car and passed by the Oregon Duck store…
As an ASU alum, I decided to pass right on by and tried to forget the last game I went to when the Ducks were playing and leveled our team.
It was time to leave Portland, but I could have easily spent a few more days there.  But, the nature of our road trips is to spend only 1 day in each area before moving on.  So we concentrate of a few activities and usually make plans to return at a later date to spend more time there.
Our next stop was the coastal town of Astoria.  On the way, we visited the small town of Tillamook.  Now for those of you who think that name sounds familiar, you would be right.
Tillamook is the home of Tillamook Cheese and they offer free factory tours and cheese tasting.  So of course, we made a stop since enjoying regional food is a large part of our trip.
The factory was large and tourists packed the parking lot in front while trucks delivering fresh milk from the county’s farms were in the back.  You could also see 18-wheeler trucks ready to deliver the finished product to stores.
The factory is a huge draw and I was surprised at how many people were there.  There is a cafe, ice-cream shop and a self-guided tour where you can go and observe the cheesemaking itself.
After watching blocks of cheese coming out, we were hungry and headed downstairs for the cheese tasting.
My favorite was the medium cheddar.
After buying some cheese in the adjoining gift shop, we found ourselves in the long, but fast-moving, line for Tillamook ice cream.  We shared a bowl, which was delicious.  I should mention now, that we leave behind our mostly healthy eating habits whenever we go on our road trips.


We got back on the road for Astoria, where we would be spending the night.  While you may have never heard of Astoria, you’ve certainly heard of a very famous movie that was made there called ‘The Goonies’.
It was dinner time by the time we arrived and we headed for the ‘Wet Dog Cafe and Brewery’ which was located on the Columbia River.

You could see the ships passing by at the windows where we sat.
While I like to eat at breweries, I don’t particularly enjoy beer.
But with names like these, I wish I did!
Tomorrow, we are off to explore the area around Astoria, including a look at the house from ‘The Goonies’ before heading north to Seattle.
We are having a great time!