Friday, October 23, 2009

Seattle/Victoria Trip, Day Two (The Clipper)

Okay, so day one was not exactly riveting, I know. We spent most of the time in a plane, so of course there wasn't much to report. But don't worry, day two got better.

We had decided that we wanted to take advantage of being so close to Canada and hop over the border for a day. Victoria B.C. is less than 3 hours away by clipper ship, so we thought that would be a logical destination.

We had to get up earrrrrrrrrrly. For some reason, the clipper only leaves at 8:00 in the morning in the off-season. We were supposed to be there to check in by about 7:00. So, we woke up around 5:30, got ready, left the majority of our luggage with the concierge at the Seattle Doubletree, and took a taxi to the clipper. It was a cool, drizzly morning. Typical Seattle in October.

***Before I start posting pics, let me share this: our camera is horrible. Yup, horrible. It's a Canon PowerShot--you know, just a point and click kind of deal. It's only about 6 years old (I think we got it right before we got married), but it's obviously at the end of its life. The automatic lens cover doesn't close anymore, and sometimes it actually gets stuck half-way open and blocks half the shot. It's kinda funny that it's so quirky. People give us odd looks when we're banging on it, trying to get the lens cover to open. Anyway, I'm just sayin'. Our shots will not be award-winning ones, but hopefully they'll give you an idea of what we saw. ***

So, here's a little shot from Pier 69 in Seattle, where the Victoria clipper leaves from:

Here's hubby (holding both of our coffees!) and the clipper we took:

The clipper ride to Victoria was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me. It started out kinda crappy, because the boat was packed. I was hoping that we'd get to spread out and snooze or read or just be left alone, but it didn't work out that way. And I'm so glad it didn't, as I'll share later.

The clipper is a double-decker. All of the seats are inside (and out of the rain). The top deck has fewer seats, and that's were we went. The seats are arranged in clumps of six--three on one side, three on the other, and a table in between. We ended up sitting with an older couple who live in the Victoria area and a middle-aged couple from Seattle. My ears instantly perked up when the lady from Seattle said, "My husband is a travel writer. He's writing about traveling to Victoria in the off-season."

A writer! A travel writer! Man, how do you get that gig?? And do you have some travel advice for us???

We started up a conversation that lasted the entire three hours of the trip. I relished every minute of it. Both couples gave us lots of advice about Seattle and Victoria, and they were all just joys to be around. The older lady sitting next to me started talking about a commercial currently on TV in Victoria for a local insurance company. She and her husband shared how much the commerical drove them crazy. Evidently it shows a lady who is a very bad driver, and a voice-over says, "You don't drive like her. You shouldn't pay like her." The point is, of course, that if you are a "good" driver, your rates shouldn't be the same as those of a "bad" driver. But the way the point was made drove the couple batty.

"First of all, it's just demeaning. But more than that, it uses improper English. You don't drive like her, you drive like she."

Oh, man! Did I mention that I really liked these people?? They all started discussing grammar and syntax, and oh, I was in hog heaven! Ha!

I found out that the writer has actually just published a book. How exciting! He said it is his third book, and it's called Literary Feast--The Famous Authors Cookbook. What a cool premise--he went to various local and national authors and found out what their favorite recipes are and then compiled them in this book. Food and literature always go hand-in-hand. The author is Terry LaBrue, and the book is a bestseller at right now! He said that he just got a contract with Costco to sell it in their stores. That's hitting the big time!

I'm going to have to split this post into two sections so it won't get outrageously long (and the boys should be waking up fro their naps soon). Next post: Butchart Gardens and a cool pub!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seattle Trip, Day One

Last Thursday, we sent the boys off to Meme and Papa's, and Scott and I packed up and left on our first vacation without the kids! Our plan was to fly into Seattle and spend one night, then taking a clipper to Victoria B.C. and stay for a night, and then travel back to Seattle for three more nights. There is so much I want to remember about our trip, I'm going to try to break this narrative down into segments.

So, this post will be focused on the first leg of our trip--our first night in Seattle.

We had an afternoon flight out of Dallas, so we arrived in Seattle at about 4:30pm. Seattle's public transportation is pretty comprehensive--you can get a free bus ride from the airport to the light rail station, then ride the rail from there to downtown Seattle. Easy.

Well, theoretically easy. This is the part of the post which I will entitle "We Would Suck at The Amazing Race."

Here's Scott going up the escalator at the light rail station...

...and here I am going back down the escalator after we figured out that the light rail actually leaves from the other side of the station.

Hmph. Anyway, we finally got on the train and headed to Seattle. As we took in the scenery on the ride into town, the first thing I noticed was how different the houses looked. None of them were made of brick like the ones here in Dallas--they all had siding and large rectangular windows. I asked someone later about this, and he said that brick doesn't last in an earthquake. Ah...earthquakes. I am definitely not in Texas anymore! I asked the man who told me about the houses: "You get in a doorway if there's an earthquake, right?" "Yes," he said, "and if it's in the middle of the night, roll off the side of your bed. That way if the ceiling collapses, it will fall on your bed and not on your head." Useful advice....

We got out of the train at our stop in Pioneer Square, then realized that we didn't know exactly how to get from the station to our hotel. We consulted our map and got a vague idea of where the hotel was. We went up an escalator and left the station...and our hotel was literally right across the street. Bonus! :)

We stayed at the Doubletree Arctic Hotel. I highly recommend it! Nice bathrobes, amenities, fluffy duvet, flat screen high-res TV, and as everyone who has stayed in a Doubletree knows.....

...cookies. Straight-out-of-a-warmer chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies given to you upon your arrival. Mmmmm. I almost went back and asked for more.

By the time we got checked in, it was about dinner time. We were pretty tired (we had stayed up really late the last couple of nights cleaning and packing), so we decided to just eat in the hotel restaurant for dinner. (Yes, I had just eaten a big fat cookie. Don't judge me!)

The restaurant is called Juno, and it was pretty yummy. Scott and I both had a seafood pasta and some local wine. After a relaxing dinner, it was off to our room. We had to get up earrrrrrrrrly in the morning to catch the clipper to Victoria.

We had a huge wall-length window in our first-floor room, so we slept to the sound of the city. It was not like the sound of New York--full of sirens, loud voices, and car horns, but what we soon learned to be the distinctive sound of Seattle--the buses. Seattle has such great public transportation, and their buses run all night long. So our sleep was punctuated (not unpleasantly) by the buses making their rounds in the otherwise silent city.

Next post: Victoria, B.C.!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

From Jesus to Pogo Sticks

As I've posted before, Isaac loves to listen to Bible songs. He particularly loves the "Wee Sing Bible Songs" CD we got him for Christmas. He is always running up to the CD player and shouting "Jesus songs!"

A few days ago, I got tired of listening to the same CD over and over, so I changed it to Derek Webb or Watermark or some other Christian band. Isaac started whimpering and said, "I want Jesus songs!" I told him that these were still songs about Jesus. "They are just different Jesus songs, Isaac."

Well, ever since then he keeps pointing to the CD player and saying, "A different Jesus! A different Jesus!"


Yesterday, I showed Caleb a few minutes of a clip posted on Intentionally Katie's blog. She had a video of a man named Nick Vujicic who was born with no arms and no legs. What an inspiring tale! He has really used his disabilities in a way that honors God.

Caleb watched as the man walked with no legs and turned the pages of his Bible with a little foot. He asked me, "Why does he have no legs and arms?"

"That's the way God made him, honey. He's very special. God made everyone different." I started to tell him all about different types of people. "You know, some people use wheelchairs to get around, and some..."

Caleb cut me off and said, "Yeah! Some people use pogo sticks!"

Well, yes. I guess they do. :)