canada and beyond, part 3

This is Part 3 of the account of our trip to Canada.  Part 1 is herePart 2 is here.  All photos are posted here.

Day 8:  Kamloops –> West Vancouver –> Nanaimo –> Victoria

We got up very early on Day 8, said our goodbyes to Dan’s parents, and got on the road to catch our ferry in West Vancouver.  We checked in early and waited for like an hour and a half to board, during which time we milled around, read magazines, and had an indian pizza (sauce, cheese, and green onions on naan) from the hippie cart next to the dock.  The ferry that we boarded was like the Rolls Royce of ferries.  Having only ever been on the Jamestown Ferry in my un-traveled life,  I couldn’t believe the size of this thing.  It was a monster.  Inside there’s a food court, a coffee shop, a gift shop, and who knows what else.  Out on the deck the wind threatened to treat my long dress as a sail and whisk me back to Vancouver.  Now THIS is a great view: the calm blue water, the towering mountains, the wispy clouds, the approaching shore.

We disembarked in Nanaimo (home of Nanaimo squares, a dessert I’ve made for some of you!) and explored the downtown area.  We found exactly what I was looking for: an amazing little fish n’ chips spot.  This one was called Pirate Chips, and was clearly beckoning to us with its life-sized pirate on the curb and seafaring decor.  Don’t let the gimmick fool you.  This was one of our best meals during the whole trip.  The batter was crispy and delicious, and the poutine was the best we had had in Canada.  The service was great, and I found myself wishing I could take this place home with me.  I should have gotten a Nanaimo square for the road.

I really wanted to see Hatley Mansion on our way into Victoria, but because of some truly awful traffic, we didn’t make it in time to get on a tour.  So we walked around the grounds and took some pictures, and I thought about how much I’d like to have a garden maze.   And a moat.

This house is exactly what makes me cringe when I see the McMansions all over the side of the highway and the ugly, sprawling, beige compounds on MTV Cribs.  If you have the money and you’re going to build a mansion anyway, why not build something beautiful?

Finally in Victoria, we checked into the Dalton Hotel & Suites.  This is a GREAT hotel to stay in if you ever go to Victoria; I highly recommend it.  It’s not super fancy, and the water in the shower takes a long time to heat up.  But it’s clean, it’s not tacky, and it’s right in the middle of everything you want to do.

After tossing our bags in the room, we headed out for shopping and sightseeing.  Again, we got to a city around 6pm and all the shops were closing.  But a few were open, and we got a couple of our only souvenirs from Canada (mine was a wardrobe staple: a black, open-front sweater that I lived in for the rest of the trip).  Then we made our way to the harbor, and we oohed and ahhed over the Parliament building and the Empress Hotel.  I loved walking around Victoria.  The architecture is stunning, it seems like pretty much everybody is on vacation, and the air is breezy but not freezing.

The coolest shop in Victoria is Old Morris Tobacconist.  Dan recently started smoking a pipe, so naturally he wanted to check it out.  But I ended up enjoying it just as much as he did, because it seems to be one of the only remaining Victorian-era shops with both the exterior and interior still styled as it was back in the day.  This place was like the candy shop in Willy Wonka, except it was stocked with tobacco instead of candy.  The guy who helped us was friendly and knowledgeable, and as we talked he picked out several different blends for us to smell.  All the fun of being in a Yankee Candle shop, with none of the nausea.  Alright!  Seriously though, this place was downright gorgeous.

photo by Brandon Godfrey via Flickr

photo by Brandon Godfrey via Flickr

At dinnertime, we strolled around and leisurely read the menus posted outside restaurants we passed.  This is one of my favorite memories from the trip.  We weren’t in a rush (for once), and the sun was setting on the harbor as we picked our way, arm in arm, through the cobblestone streets.  There were tons of delicious-sounding places to choose from, so we let ourselves be really picky and look for the right place.  Finally we settled on Fiamo, a bicycling-themed Italian place with super low lighting.  I love how I gravitate toward places that would fit right in back in Richmond.

We really savored this one fancy date night we got to have.  Fiamo was almost deserted due to it being a late dinner on a weeknight, so we were immediately shown to a great table where we had a quiet meal.  I had plenty of wine and seafood and Dan had plenty of wine and garlic, so we were two happy campers as we walked back to the hotel.

Day 9:  Victoria –> Port Angeles –> Forks –> La Push

Day 9 began with a continental breakfast and driving to the harbor to catch the ferry to Port Angeles.  This ferry wasn’t as bangin’ as the previous one, but it had its own midcentury charm that I enjoyed.  In the ferry shop, we saw our friend Jenny’s book for sale, and I marveled at the level of distribution she’s getting.

The view wasn’t super great, because of the giant cloud of doom that hangs over northwestern Washington state.  Also I think at this point, we were both starting to get a little weary of the whole ferry thing.   It was FREEZING on deck, so mostly we rode inside and tried not to get ill since the ferry was lurching violently.

Back on American soil in Port Angeles, the first thing we saw was a shop advertising a “vampire’s kiss latte.”  Oh yes, everything in those part is vampire-themed.  And heck, if I owned a shop and slapping the word “vampire” on something would earn me twice as much, you’d better believe I’d be doing it too.  Also, things taste better that way.

We only stayed long enough to exchange our remaining Canadian currency, and then we began our Forks-bound drive through the Olympic National Forest.  I’ve tried to decide whether this drive or the Coquihalla Pass from Day 2 was more beautiful, and it’s a toughie.  This was one of those drives where you gasp every time you come around a corner, because it’s just that beautiful of a scene.

Eventually we made it to Forks!

Originally, our trip only involved Seattle and Kamloops.  We were just going up to see Dan’s dad, who had been in poor health.  But he has been feeling a lot better, so the Canada trip grew to include Jasper too, which made it awesomer but also make it more hectic.  Then as I was planning the logistics of the trip, I looked on a map and said “When the heck else will we ever be three hours away from Forks?  We should totally stop there, at least just for a minute.”  Then Dan suggested that since he had never been to Victoria, we should drive back that way and visit it on our way to Forks.  So the trip kind of spiraled into this super packed, frantic race across a huge amount of ground, which involved more driving than anybody really wants to do on vacation.

But oh, I’m so glad it ended up that way.

We visited the Forks welcome sign, the hospital, and the high school, and then we were like “Wow, that took all of seven minutes total!  Now what?”  On to the Twilight shops of course.  The main event is Dazzled By Twilight (which has another location in Port Angeles), so we went there and immersed ourselves thoroughly in teen vampire culture.  We saw some cringe-worthy t-shirts and we got pushed around a bit by middle schoolers trying to get to the keychains, but mostly we just enjoyed the heck out of it.

The thing about Twilight is that it’s this tween generation’s chance to be goth.  And yes, it has flaws, but it wasn’t meant to speak to 35-year-olds.  It communicates with its audience the way that The Vampire Chronicles spoke to me when I was a teenager.  To enjoy Twilight, I put my brain into 18-year-old-me mode…and I understand it perfectly.  I think it describes the total immersion and irrationality of a first love perfectly.  That feeling of how much really is at stake, in your heart.  And it doesn’t treat that like something trivial…it acknowledges it and deals with it, and I think that’s something teenage girls need.  I wish I had been able to read these at a younger age.  And of course, if the series brings millions of little blond girls into the world of black eyeliner, the more the merrier.  Sure I’ve been doing the vampire-obsession thing since I was 15, but that doesn’t mean I have a ton of “cred” or that I own the genre or something.  I’m happy to share it.  I’m happy it makes new generations happy.

I got my other trip souvenir at Dazzled By Twilight — a replica of the dress Bella wears to her birthday hangout at the Cullen’s.  The color is great on me and you’ll probably be seeing me in it soon.

Forks really is the little one-horse town it’s portrayed as.  If you blink, you’ll miss it.  It’s the lumber capital of the world.  But now there’s this one block that’s just PACKED full of Twilight shops, which means it’s also packed full of tween girls, middle-aged women, and random 30-ish-year-old couples on their way to Seattle.  It’s a place of contrasts. I like that at the Dazzled By Twilight store there’s giggling, and the movie soundtracks playing, and cardboard cutouts of Twilight characters, and exclamations over funny t-shirts, and an electrifying feeling of excitement.  And if you walk a few feet down the sidewalk and go into the little coffee shop, you see Indian art for sale and some old timers having a jam session in the back.  And then you realize the coffee shop is also a huge antique store.  Amazing.  I loved it there.

Another thing I love about Forks is that it really has that brooding feel that they try to bring across in the movies.  It really is that cloudy, it really is that wooded, it really is that lush, it really is that foggy.

After shopping, we walked around for a little bit, and then had dinner at Pacific Pizza.  The pizza there was fantastic: a very crispy crust and lots of flavorful cheese.  We also sampled a special Twilight beer that they have on tap there, which I enjoyed.  Dan thought it was good but he’s not really into lagers.

The short drive out to La Push was lovely.  When we neared the reservation, we stopped to take photos at the “treaty line.”  It’s good to see the treaty is still being enforced.  When we rounded the bend coming into La Push proper, I saw a glimpse of that foggy, foggy beach, and fell in love immediately.

We checked into the Quileute Oceanside Resort and checked out our room.  We stayed in the hotel part of the resort, which has very well-kept little rooms with kitchenettes and balconies that face the ocean. There was totally an afghan with a wolf print on it lying on our bed.  Everything in the room was nice and new, and it was probably the least tacky hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  Even though the resort has been open since the 1930s, I get the feeling that they’re doing VERY well for themselves since the advent of Twilight.  Besides the hotel there are also cabins, which would be the way to go if you wanted to go on a group field trip with a bunch of friends.

Dan took a nap (exhausted from the constant driving) and I went for a long beach walk on my own.  To get to the beach you follow a little path through a grassy hill, and then you have to pick your way through a driftwood graveyard.  I guess whole trees fall into the water elsewhere, and end up beached on the shore there.  The trees are HUGE, and all bleached-looking and scraggly, which adds to the wild appearance of the beach.

I went crazy taking pictures, even though I was terrified that the misty, salty air would get to my camera.  I think this is where I got some of my best shots.  They really do capture the gloom of this beach.  I wish there was some way I could take a picture of the salty wind and “show” that to you as well.  A few beachwalkers and a couple of wetsuited surfers were the only people I saw the whole time I walked to both ends of the beach.  From either end, you can’t see the other end very well because the fog is just so insanely thick.

Another thing that probably contributes to my love of La Push is the fact that you could not get a sunburn there if you tried.  I’m one of those rare goth kids who loves the beach, but I hate having no shade and having to slather sticky, smelly sunblock all over myself.  But you could spend hours on the beach at La Push, just doing whatever it is you’d normally do at the beach — read books, frolic, snack — and not even worry about the sun.  You’re protected!

I was super tired after my beach walk, and called it an early night.

Days 10-11:  La Push –> Forks –> Port Angeles –> Seattle –> Richmond

In the morning it was way clearer outside, so when we took a walk we could see the surrounding cliffs.  I scrambled around on the largest of the driftwood trees, and we walked and talked for a while.  On the way off the beach, we saw the biggest slug I’ve ever seen in my life.  It looked it like it was smiling for the camera.  I didn’t know whether it was cute or terrifying.

I was genuinely sad to leave La Push.

After a hearty and delicious breakfast at the very rustic Forks Coffee Shop, we started the journey to Seattle.  We had to pass back through Port Angeles, so when we got there we took a picture of the movie theater, and the restaurant where Bella and Edward dined, and visited the Dazzled by Twilight and a couple of other shops.  The amazing Port Angeles Antique Mall blew our minds.   So much incredible, reasonably-priced stuff, so little room left in our bags.  Seriously, I highly recommend plundering this place if you’re ever in the area.  It was chock full of treasures of every sort.

The rest of the drive to Seattle seemed to take forever.  There was a lot of traffic, and finally when we were only a few miles away, the GPS took us right onto yet another ferry.  We had no idea we were going to have to take another ferry, which is because we didn’t research it very well I guess.  But I was like “NOT AGAIN!”  Haha.  This one boarded pretty soon after we got there, though, and the ride was quick.  Looking down into the water from the ferry deck, I saw the biggest jellyfish I’ve ever seen in real life.  They were ENORMOUS.  Soon we were approaching Seattle.

We walked around Capitol Hill for a couple of hours, going into various shops.  One place carried all of my favorite brands, and I was dying over some of the boots and coats.  And of course they were having a huge sale.  I would have had to wear the coat on the airplane, though, since I had absolutely no room left.  So nothing new for me.

Dan was jonesing for Jamba Juice (what else is new?), so we found one via the GPS.  It was about 3 miles away, and we decided to go find it since we had an hour and a half to kill before our dinner plans.  The traffic was horrible getting there, and we almost gave up several times.  But finally the trusty old GPS took us into this super cute neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants and lovely houses.  Alas, we stared into the storefront that was supposed to be Jamba Juice, and it looks like it had very recently been converted into a yoga studio.  Curses!!!

Anyway it was time for dinner, so we headed back to Capitol Hill.  We met up with my friend Laurie at Ghost Gallery, the gallery she owns.  I hadn’t seen her in many years, and it was so refreshing to see her smile and here her voice, and to catch up and know that she’s really happy.  After talking to her for a few minutes it was like picking up right where we left off, as if we hadn’t missed several years with each other.  Her gallery is awesome too, so if you’re in Seattle definitely stop by.

We had dinner nearby at the Saint, an incredible Mexican place.  Laurie’s friends Cait and Ed also dined with us, and it was an awesome meal full of margaritas (we recommend the Hermano) and good stories.  Dan and I both had Tacos Rajas con Crema, which were tacos stuffed with poblano peppers and cheese.  Out of this world.  I could have stayed for like eleventy more drinks, but we had to head to the airport.  It was so nice to have a really good last night of our vacation, but it left me wanting to spend more time in Seattle.  Of all the places we visited on our trip, I would most like to return to Seattle someday.

At the airport we turned in our rental car and caught the 11:20pm flight to Dallas.  I didn’t sleep the whole time, because my body will very rarely sleep in a moving vehicle.  This makes travel very difficult sometimes.  From Dallas to Richmond we were able to upgrade to first class, though, and the combination of my first two bloody marys EVER (my new favorite drink) and being able to actually recline my seat allowed me to sleep for about an hour.

When I woke up and we began our descent to Richmond, I checked out the window to make sure my wonderful city was there, and it was just as I had left it.  The humidity hit us like a ton of bricks as we passed through the airport’s automatic doors, and we were home.  Matt Fisher took us straight to 821, and then we had a happy reunion with our kittehs back at our castle.

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2 thoughts on “canada and beyond, part 3

  1. the la push pictures are simply amazing, breathlessly beautiful. i am completely jealous of them AND the green dress; omg what a gorgeous dress!

  2. Yes, La Push was high in the running for most beautiful place we traveled to. You’ll see the green dress soon, I’m sure!

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