Our big trip this year was Seattle, then Victoria with Sara and Mike, then Seattle, then Birch Bay, Vancouver, White Rock B.C., and Leavenworth with Kevin and Trish, and then back to Seattle before flying home.
The weather was perfect, the people were above average, and the experiences were most excellent.
The flight with the kids
We babysat Paxson and Austin (3 1/2 and 19 months) for a few days while their parents flew on to Seattle for a short respite without the kids. Then we flew to Seattle with the boys. They were little angels in DFW and during the flight. The downside to flying with the boys is the amount of gear we had to bring with us including car seats and strollers.
We spent a few days with Mike’s parents, Don and Karen, both before and after our trip to Victoria and then before our flight back to Dallas.
Staying with our gracious hosts in their beautiful home on Lake Sammamish. While there we did dine at a couple of good restaurants:
We had started exercising at Orange Theory this Summer and were pleasantly surprised to find a location in Redmond just a 12 minute scenic drive from our host’ss residence.
We spent two days in Victoria with Sara and Mike traveling via the Victoria Clipper Ferry service from Seattle.
We had reserved a couple of rooms at Abigail’s, a small independent botique hotel 4 short blocks from the Harbour. Gwen found Abigail’s for our first trip to Victoria and the experience was so great we’ve never considered staying anywhere else in Voctoria. This trip was no expception.
Our first night there we had managed to procure 4 tickets to Taste, a wine and food event at one of the local hotels. Around 35 Vancouver Island Vineyards were present as well as 15 local restaurants. This is a one night a year event. We were fortunate enough to attend last year and loved it. This year was just as good except for no ice cream. If you go don’t drive because there is a lot of wine. We walked!
Our highlight was probably the hour long carriage ride with a British Columbia History Major as our driver. Also spotted some humpback whales while riding along the Coast next to Beacon Hill Park. The night was surprisingingly chilly.
We did not rent a car. Therefore we walked everywhere which is not a big problem if you plan to hang out at the Inner Harbour area. We most likely walked 10 miles each day around the Harbour, Government Street, and Beacon Hill Park.
Besides Taste other memorable dining experiences were at:
- Il Terrazzo – a little Italian restaurant in a downtown alley. Our favorite restaurant in Victoria
- The Local – best fish and chips I’ve had anywhere with a magnificent view of the Harbour
- Breakfast at Abigail’s
- The Commons – Serves only local cusine, much of it from their own farm or from local fishermen
As a parting note on the last morning I snuck out of the hotel early in the morning and enjoyed a Flat White at a local coffee shop. Best Flat White I’ve had outside of New Zealand. For some reason U.S. coffee shop’s, including Starbucks, just don’t serve Flat Whites that taste anywhere near as good.
We picked Kevin and Trish up at the Seattle Airport and then drove to Birch Bay, Washngton where we had reserved our Condo for three days. Birch Bay is a small seacoast community on the Washington/Canadian border.
Our Condo was old but very comfortable with an excellent vew of the sea from the balcony. Although our base was in Washington we spent one day in Vancouver and the 2nd in White Rock, B.C.
Although Vancouver is but 40 miles distance the journey by auto took 1.5 hours. We spent most of the day strolling around Stanley Park and ended by day by dining at Joe Fortes. A very enjoyable day indeed. I highly recommend both.
The next day we drove just across the boarder to White Rock, B.C. White Rock is a picturesque little community on the coast. The main attractions are the pier, the promenade, and the restaurants. We had lunch at Uli’s. The exterior and the interior decor is not impressive. However the food is delicious. I had the fish and chips again. Where else in the World is Halibut considered a “common” fish?
The main attraction at both Birch Bay and White Rock is the sea. At both locations the tides go out to reveal over 100 yard wide mud flats. The locals and I suppose the tourist tramp out onto the mud flats, setup blankets, umbrellas, beach chairs, and stay for the day.
Birch Bay at Low Tide
Restaurants in the area we liked:
- Vonna’s Purple Fin Restaurant in Birch Bay: We dined here our first night in Birch Bay and liked it so much we went back for breakfast every day
- Joe Fortes in Vancouver
- Uli’s in White Rock
The drive from Birch Bay to Leavenworth through the Cascades was both beautiful and sometimes breathtaking. Leavenworth is a charming little German community in the Cascades. Kevin and Trish were married there and for them this was a trip back in time.
If you just have a day stroll around the village, vist the shops, watch the people, and listen to the musicians on the square.
In the Summer they host musicals outdoors under the stars. We attended a performance of The Sound of Music at night in the middle of a forest on a mountainside in 49 degree weather in July. We were all amazed by the quality of the performance.
Hike the Leavenworth River Trail.
Drive a few miles down the highway to Cashmere and visit the 9/11 memorial.
Visit some of the many local vineyards. We planned and developed a list of vineyards to visit. However the first vineyard (Wedge Mountain Vineyard) was so interesting we ran out of time and did not get to any of the other vineyards on our list. If you go there be sure to sign up for the vineyard tour via a mid-60s Fordson tractor with the owner (Charlie McKee).
And last but not least, don’t lock yourself our of your hotel room on the outskirts of town at 11PM in you pajamas and realize they have no night clerk.
- Sulla Vita – Ecletic menu. We liked it so much we dined there twice
- Los Camperos – A Mexican restaurant in the heart of a German community in Washington state a few miles from the Canadian Border. How strange is that? The food was quite good after my companions realized Los Camperos did not serve TexMex. It’s more like New Mexico cusine but a little different.
- Gustav’s – If your in a German community eating sausages and potatoes is a must. Gustav’s is the place to do it.
- The Alley Cafe – This is where Kevin and Trish dined on their wedding night. However they always thought they dined at Los Camperos because they had a photo looking out a window at The Alley Cafe hung a sign for Low Camperos. Turns out Los Camperos is directly abobe The Alley Cafe.
- J. J. Hill in the Icicle Lodge – more German food. This time I ordered the schnitzel. very tasty.
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