We're heading back to Virginia today, right in the middle of an heat wave. Well, I guess that might be a nice change of pace from the cooler temperatures in Washington...maybe? Anyway, the trip may be ending but I've got several more travelogue entries to go so they'll be continuing into next week. I don't have a lot of time right now, but I can at least get started.
July 12th (Friday): Olympic Game Farm
The Olympic Game Farm, in the small town of Sequim, was founded by former Disney animal handlers to take care of retired show animals. Connie and I visited it on our first trip to Washington a few years back and we knew Zack would love it so we headed there with him, my mom, and my nephew, Isaac. As a note, since I wrote about it before, I won't go into too much detail here. You can read my original travelogue entry if you want to know more.
The main part of the park is a driving course where you move slowly along the road and stop to feed llamas, yaks, deer, antelope, and more. Not to mention the famous waving kodiak bears (though they didn't seem to be in a waving mood for us). Zack did love it, though he couldn't seem to bring himself to feed the larger animals directly (he had Connie do it). Isaac, on the other hand, got a bit freaked out when the animals started putting their heads inside the car. It took us about an hour for a leisurely drive, and to use up all our bread (on that note, unless you're by yourself, I'd recommend getting at least two loaves). After that, we spent a while longer in the play area which featured a goat petting zoo, reptile room, and a few other animals and things for the kids to play on.
Then it was off to lunch (Sequim is a nice little town with more restaurants than you'd expect) and then back home. While Sequim a bit of a drive from the Seattle area, I'd say the game park is worth a visit if you have kids or if you just really like animals.
Ok, I should stop there so I can get some sleep.
As a heads up, Friday's update is a bit iffy since Connie and I have an early flight back to Virginia. Anyway, let's get some more of the travelogue done.
Random Canada Comment: A Foreign Country
Of all the countries I've been to, Canada feels the least like a foreign country. I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising, since Canada and the US have a lot of similarities. If I were dropped into Vancouver without knowing where I was, I wouldn't immediately know that I wasn't in some northern US city. The architecture, street signs, fashions, and, of course, the language are pretty much the same. You do see a bit more French (though Vancouver isn't really a French Canadian area), and there are some brands of shops and restaurants that are unique to Canada (along with a whole lot of US staples), but that's about it. And, while I did encounter some people with what I think of as a Canadian accent, there were also a lot of people without one. For US Citizens, that makes Canada, by far, the easiest foreign country to visit. It does lack a lot of the excitement and mystique that often accompanies international travel, but it's still a fun country to visit in its own right, and maybe a good place to start if you're nervous about leaving the US behind.
Sigh... I never seen to have as much time as I'd like to write these things. I've got a few more travelogue entries to write about stuff back in Washington state, but we'll have to continue this next time.
Continuing with the travelogue...
July 9th (Tuesday): Granville Island
After breakfast at the hotel, we set out to a part of Vancouver called Granville Island. While we could have walked all the way there from downtown Vancouver, we ended up taking a ferry instead. Though unlike the big ferries I'm used to, the ones that travel around Vancouver are small (about the size of a van) and leave from pretty small and simple docks. It was a little tough with two kids and a big stroller, but we managed to get on and made the short trip across the river to Granville Island.
Granville is known primarily for its indoor shopping centers, which make it something like a permanent farmers' market and art show. We started out in a large food market, then one more focused on art, jewelry, and the like, and finally ended up at the kids market, which is filled with toy stores and play areas. All in all, it's a fun area to explore. Not quite as nice as some of the markets in Japan, at least for me, but that's probably more personal preference than anything else.
Since it was a nice day, we decided to take the kids to the nearby water play area. A park with a massive splash pad (only part of it is shown in the photo), fountains, and even a decent size water slide, all free and open to the public. Unfortunately, although the sun was out (yesterday and today featured the best weather we've had on this trip so far), it still wasn't that hot and the water was freezing. We still had fun taking the kids on the slide though.
After that, it was back to the food market for lunch. Though I had to spend a lot of the time chasing after Zack, who was more interested in chasing birds than eating. In the end, I got some poutine (I figured that, being in Canada, I really should give it a try), which was good, though certainly not one of the more healthy options.
Once we'd finished exploring Granville, we decided to walk back instead of taking the ferry. That involved crossing over a long bridge, and a walk through part of Vancouver (following a rather weird route that Google maps listed), before we eventually arrived back at the hotel. Zack needed a nap and everyone else was either resting or taking Isaac (my nephew) to the pool. But I figured I might as well explore Vancouver a bit more since there's no telling when I'll be back. So I headed out to walk around downtown a bit more.
I ended up following a major shopping street, which apparently also doubled as British Columbia's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But, while I'm sure those people were famous and all, the relative handful of plaques were stretched along multiple blocks making the whole thing look a bit sparse and lame. I also walked through a nice underground mall, which reminded me a bit of some of the ones I've seen in Japan (though not as big), and spent some time browsing in a large comic book shop. While there are some seedy areas, Vancouver really does seem like a nice city.
I eventually met up with my family back at the hotel and we headed to Yale Town, a Vancouver district that looks like a trendy area for drinks and dining. We ate at a popular vegan restaurant. Not exactly my thing, but the food was actually pretty good. While we wouldn't be driving back to Washington until the following morning, the meal pretty much marked the end of our Canada trip. I really enjoyed it and could have easily spent a few more days exploring Vancouver and the surrounding area, especially if I wanted to do some hiking. Not sure if I'd want to be up there in the winter (or even the spring), but does make for a good summer destination and I wouldn't mind going back sometime.
I still have a Random Canada Comment I want to write to wrap up this part of the travelogue, but I'm running late again (I've been fixing bugs in the Aurora's Nightmare demo) so I'll get it up on Wednesday instead.