Inna and I ended the west coast portion of our roadtrip with the northwest’s two biggest cities: Vancouver and Seattle. I’d been to both several times (I even lived in Seattle for a year) but Inna had never been to either, so it was an exciting experience, me revisiting places I missed and Inna visiting places she’d never been.
Our last post left us at the Canadian border, so that is where we will begin.
We’d heard Vancouver had a nice Chinatown, so we made it one of our first stops. And we really liked it, the food in particular was delicious!
We also went to Vancouver’s harborfront. One of the city’s main public spaces, the harborfront is filled with parks, artwork, fountains, walking/bike paths, historical monuments and tributes, and amazing views of the city and harbor.
The harbor from the waterfront.
Artwork on the waterfront. Points if you know what Inna is referencing.
One of the more interesting city views we’ve seen on our trip.
Our next destination: Granville Island, an artsy, colorful shopping peninsula (not an island) just south of the city. This was another amazing place, except when tragedy struck right next to us.
Next we went north, to Stanley Park, the second giant urban park we’ve visited on our trip.
The Vancouver skyline, as seen from Stanley Park. Downtown Vancouver is interesting in that every building features the same materials and architectural style, similar designs, and all appear to be about the same age. I used to find this homogeneity boring (the city is pretty homogenous as a whole, especially compared to nearby Seattle), but on this visit I finally discovered a beauty to it.
For our last stop in Vancouver, we went to Lynn Canyon, a popular, free (*cough* Capilano *cough*) hiking area accessed by the suspension bridge pictured above. The area is popular with cliff jumpers, although it is a terrible place to do so as it averages more than a death per year. There are tons of signs and memorials warning people against jumping, but they do it anyway.
Lynn Canyon is also popular amongst high schoolers and the night before we visited, one had to be carried out on a stretcher because she was too drunk to walk. Additionally, three months prior to our visit, a teenager died while cliff jumping. Because of these incidents, there was a lot of emergency and security personal stationed here on our visit. Coming from the tragedy at Granville Island to what appeared to be another tragedy here was pretty unnerving, but this place was still beautiful and a lot of fun.
We took a detour on our way from Vancouver to Seattle, stopping by the North Cascades for a night. This campsite, on Boulder Creek and so secluded we couldn’t see or hear any other campers, was our favorite campsite of our entire trip.
Leia got nervous when I went off exploring Boulder Creek. According to Inna, Leia stared at me the entire time. She is the best.
Our campsite was near Mt. Baker, the last Cascade peak we visited on this trip.
Our campsite was also near Baker Lake, and this lake marks the extent that we explored the North Cascades on this trip. We had planned more, but around this time we learned that some of our things had been stolen in Vancouver, which put us in a bad mood, so we wanted to get to Seattle to be with friends.
Friends! This is Ravin (whom we had lunch with in Mukilteo), his wife Polina, and their baby Adrian. They had the day off so we got to hang out all day!
We stayed with another of our Seattle friends: Inna’s high school friend Tommy. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture with him, but he did take this wonderful picture of Leia while he watched her for the day. His caption: “Pleeeeeze stop coding and play!!!”
We also visited family in Seattle. Here is Inna visiting grandpa Lenin, currently residing in Fremont.
The Fremont troll. We have no relationship to this one, but he is cool.
For our last stop on the Fremont side of town, we visited Gasworks park, one of my favorite places in Seattle, providing this amazing view of my favorite skyline (it isn’t the most impressive skyline, but it has a harmony that I just love).
No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike’s Public Market. The place was packed, but it was great.
Some sights from Pikes: the market, the line for the original Starbucks, a flower we bought, and Pikes’s gum wall (much improved since I last visited, this gum wall is starting to rival the one in SLO).
Next to Pike’s is the Seattle Waterfront. It isn’t as impressive as Vancouver’s, but it’s still fun.
The Seattle Center is also walking distance from Pike’s, and it is awesome (the picture in the lower right is an interactive Mario exhibit in the Science Fiction Museum).
Also walking distance from Pike’s (we did a lot of walking today) is The Pike Brewery, my other favorite brewery in the Puget Sound. And unlike Diamond Knot in Mukilteo, this brewery did not disappoint.
Sunset at Alki beach, near where we stayed in West Seattle.
How about another skyline view? This one is looking east from West Seattle and I think it is even better than the view at Gasworks, which looks south.
Still to do in Seattle: Pioneer Square. This area, the oldest in the city, is also walking distance from Pike’s, but doing this the same day as everything else would have been too much.
History lesson time: after the 1889 Great Seattle Fire burned Seattle to the ground, instead of clearing the remains and building a new city at ground level, the remains were leveled off and a new city was built on top of them. Now you can take tours of the old city, which is literally underground and is where these pictures were taken.
CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks and Sounders play. The Sounders were playing Galaxy when we visited, and we looked into getting tickets, but they were more than we wanted to spend (especially because we want to go to Bundesliga game later on our trip, and those tickets are expensive).
Up next on our tour of Seattle: Ballard, the fisherman part of town. We found a nice little farmer’s market here, where we had delicious salmon burgers for lunch.
We also visited the Ballard Locks, mini-Panama Canal type locks that allow boats to enter and exit Lake Union while simultaneously keeping the lake at a constant level even as the tides rise up and down.
Before the locks were built, salt water from the Puget Sound gradually fed into freshwater in Lake Union, but after the locks, the change became instantaneous, and salmon could not survive the transition. To solve this, the city added a fish ladder, a salmon run that consists of multiple pools of water, each one with a decreasing salt concentration. As the salmon traverse this run, they undergo a gradual transition from salt to fresh water.
For our last stop in Seattle, we went to Dick’s, billed by Seattle-ites as Seattle’s In-N-Out. I’m sorry Seattle, while Dick’s is good, it’s not In-N-Out.
There’s a ton more we could do in Seattle and the rest of the Pacific Northwest, but the rest of the country beckons as well! That means it’s time to head east, first stop: Glacier National Park!