Friday, September 9, 2016

Travel Chaotically! - Planes, trains, automobiles, buses, ferries...or ~ Skyscrapers!!!!

I have so loved train travel in Spain, England, and France.  You go to the station, board the train to your destination - THEN, just chil'lax!!  You have a comfortable chair, often with a table, and huge window where you get to sit and watch the scenery go by.   They are super fast, clean and efficient.  Having loved it felt wrong not to give train travel in the U.S. a chance!  So, B...ever indulgent of my whims...helped put together this amazing summer trip...

It began with a quick flight to Chicago!  Once there...first stop - Lou Malnati's Pizza.  Upon our dear friends' suggestion, this was the deep dish of choice!  We had a great time and an amazing bruschetta starter!  Not sure I'll ever be the biggest fan of a deep dish pie...but awfully glad I got to try it!
Chicago's waterways - river and Lake Michigan - were beautiful.  We took an architectural tour on the river.  B was ever so pleased to be able to be photographed with a TRUMP edifice!!!  (Whose bottom two floors - perhaps more...we didn't check - are completely empty, with big "For Rent" signs, by the way!!!)
....were definitely in bloom.
A breakfast at the Corner Bakery will certainly start your morning right!!! (Another great recommendation from Les and Kay!)
Heading to the park with the photog!
Not far from here is what may be the best restaurant in Chicago!!  The Purple Pig!  Crispy kale and pig ear topped with a fried egg, turkey leg confit, so much yum!!!!
The bean!!!  I don't know why...but it's fun!
An amazing stained glass window by Chagall at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Took B straight to Lou Mitchell's Diner for delicious meatloaf and gravy - seriously good!!! - before boarding our train.  One of the many destinations I took him right to, despite his absolute certainty and determination when striding off rapidly in the absolutely WRONG direction!!  Silly boy!!!
Chicago's Union Station!  Impressive right?!  B was all excited....cause we had nice seating and snacks available in the Amtrak waiting room for our adventure on the "Empire Builder Train".  Not great signage to the train...but still....
Looks small, right?  It WAS!!!  Only floor room was where the bags are sitting in this pic!  Luckily they could be stowed above and below the seat pictured!  We boarded at 2 in the afternoon for an arrival in Whitefish, Montana at 11 pm the next day.
Yep.  Teeny little sink at far left of this pic.  The tubular 'closet' was the potty AND the shower....with a nifty plastic shield one could pull down to protect the TP from water damage!  I didn't mind the smallness...though if B had been a bigger guy....  But, the lack of clean was a bit disturbing as was the lack of air...period...fresh or air conditioned...for most of the afternoon.  Additionally, the ride was less than smooth or quick as the tracks are shared with freight trains who have the right of way.  We were often sided or traveling at 30 mph.  However, we did have a big window and enjoyed beautiful views of tidy farms and houses, all with pretty flower gardens, through Wisconsin - lots more waterways and marshlands with water birds than I expected along the way, with an amazing expanse of the Mississippi in La Crosse - fields of grain, corn, cabbage and sunflowers - a beautiful sunset in Minnesota - sunrise in North Dakota - and even a coyote walking across a field as we entered Glacier National Park lands in Montana, home of the REAL skyscrapers!!!
After a fun if cramped ride...look what we got to see!!!!
Nobody does it better than Mother Nature!
Spirits brightened with our double rainbow, we were thrilled with the Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge of Whitefish whose staff kindly picked us up from the station, and had sparkling clean accommodations with a bed that was bigger than our ROOM in Chicago!!!  Ahhh....comfy sleep!
First thing next morning....we picked up our rental car and a few snacks and we were off!  First hike:  Trail of Cedars.
There were moments reminiscent of hiking through the red woods.  This pic doesn't do the quiet, fern and mossy lusciousness justice.
But there is a big brashness that defies description, too!
Avalanche Lake.  You should see B's panoramas!!!
Skyscraper anyone?

Glacier blue water...different from any color I've ever seen.
Going to the Sun Road.  Beauty EVERYWHERE!  Some had warned us of the difficulty/scariness of the drive.  NAH!!!  At least not after daily travels up and down the W for the past umpteen years and the adventure of Hwy 1 from San Fran to Crescent City!

"Spring flowers" in July!!!

All things were flavored with "hucks" as they were called...mayo on sammies, beer, pancakes.  Our motto - Roll wid it!!!
Another early start for an incredible hike at Logan's Pass on the Hidden Lake Trail.  The Going to the Sun Road in this part of the park was only opened in June!!!
And while they don't really show up in the pic above....all green areas were covered in lovely wild flowers and various little and large rodents...some sort of zippy prairie dog like creatures as well lazy marmots!
Glacier lilies.  So like Trout lilies of the Smokies!
Indian Paint Brush.
Board walk at the start changed to ice and slush and an eventual stop to our hike due to a trail closure by rangers because of increased grizzly activity in the area!

The colors in the rocky peaks, matching the pebbles on the ground, were vivid reds, greens and blues.

July in the continental United States, y'all!
Fo realz!!  I saw this.  Feel like a yodel anyone????
While I did NOT, sadly, get to see a bear or a moose - I was tortured (if not outright attacked!!) by one very ferocious creature!
Having found and cutely devoured a crumb left by some untidy human, Mr. Chipmunk/Squirrel thingy decided I was the source.  He was so vicious in his certain pursuit of more snack-age that I had to abandon my perch!!!  Signs warning not to feed the wildlife are right!  They will attack!!!
That blue, though!!!
Sacred Dancing Cascade.
Lake McDonald.
Not the impressive structure that was Union Station. But the Whitefish train station had its own charm.  Had fun shopping for a few things for the kiddos along Central Avenue.  (Gotta say...little hard to be excited to get back on the train at 9 pm for the 10 am arrival in Seattle!  Sleeper car...hmmm...perhaps we should find a more accurate name????)
Hello, Vancouver!!!  No lack of skyscrapers here!  The drive in from Seattle was not as exciting as I thought it might be.  But, still glad I got to see the area.  Traffic in Vancouver itself was a mess as we neared Stanley Park and The Sylvia, a truly lovely hotel, due to road closures in anticipation of a major fireworks display and shindig that evening.  Never fear.  Check in and car return managed with the help of good old Morris feet!!  All in time for a quick change and taxi ride to a romantic dinner at the Blue Water Cafe.  Local oysters for me, incredibly delicious Sturgeon for B.  What decadence!!!
The usual, Morris-on-vacation walk to Granville Market the next morning.  Perhaps a little more touristy than expected, but still super fun and interesting.  And what a find!  Maiwa Handprints.  An incredible shop filled with yarns, raw silks, linens and cottons just waiting for the largest supply of fabric paints and dyes of all kinds and colors to be applied.  We had great fun with Liberty, who was running the shop that day.  Picked up two pieces of cotton fabric, already beautifully printed and'll be seeing more on them later!!!
Water taxi back. More meandering through the city.  A fun stop at Atex Fabric where I fell for a bumpy Italian linen. Had an interesting walk through Chinatown, Gastown and all around.  On an evening stroll through a lovely, well tended, flower filled neighborhood, I noticed a man watching one particular house and yard intently. Following his gaze, I saw little eyes peeking out from under steps leading to the front porch.  A family of SKUNKS gradually made their way out.  One little marauder attacking a beautiful begonia, completely uprooting it and dragging it under the porch.  Back and forth they went.  When questioned about their presence, the man replied, "Aren't they cute?  I just love watching them!" Well, yes, we answered, but what about their "spray"???!!! "Oh, that's really not a problem!  They can only do that every 10-14 days or so!"  Uh, huh?  Upon questioning others, including folks at the front desk of our hotel, it seems that yes, skunks are "accepted" in downtown Vancouver!  We were told, "It's a cultural thing!"  It's a cultural thing here in the Southern U.S. too, I guess we just view the stench a little differently!!!!
After a bus and ferry ride....this was the view out the hotel window in Victoria!!!  First things first -
The Brentster on line at Red Fish Blue Fish.  TOTALLY worth the hour wait...especially since I just sat in the shade and people watched!!!  Perfect fish and chips.  Thanks, B!  During an explore of Chinatown (again...and very interesting, actually), happened upon Gala Fabrics on Douglas Street.  Such a neat and well managed shop!  I had a really fun conversation with its proprietress!  When else do you get to have THIS conversation? "Did you make the samples throughout the shop?  They are really lovely." "This old jacket?  Why yes I did.  It's Grainline's Morris Blazer."  With the reply, while fingering her own dress, "Colette!!"  B happily put up with our strange discussion filled with much oohing and ahh-ing!  Fun!!!  Especially since I came away with a lovely, buttery soft, piece of bamboo knit.
Over the next two days we had a great explore!  We took the scenic drive from Dallas Road to Odgen Point Break Wall up to Butchart Gardens.  An incredibly lovely place.  I have never seen so many gorgeous begonias or smelled such fragrant roses.  The next day was a lovely circle from Victoria to Sooke, to Port Renfrew, to Mill Bay and back again.  These crazy Canadians thought it was summer time...out on the beach, swimming, camping and such!!!
Another ferry ride and we were back in Settle...
...with its own buildings heading skyward.  We wandered through Pike Place in search of a perfect treasure for Fred-o.  While meandering through Seattle streets we hit upon a neat shop with the perfect Tee for a math nerd.  Kiddos. We've always wound up thinking of them on all our 'dates'!!!
And as evening set...
...shared a final vacation dinner of bread, wine and cheese from the market, on the hotel's rooftop garden, with my best friend.  Perfect.
Who knew a little girl, who traveled the world through books borrowed from the Brewton, AL public library, would really get to see it?  Thanks, B.  love, c

1 comment:

  1. Splendid vacation idea, including the train travel! Thanks for sharing these photos.