Vancouver BC Motorcycle Trip

Part 2

Wait, there’s more to see and do in Vancouver!

There is never enough time, and we know it when planning these adventures,  You know the story; vacations are too short and are over in the blink of an eye.  With that in mind; trying to avoid, “end of vacation” depression, we over-plan.  With over-planning you know ahead of time that you are not going to see everything on the list, and you must come back.  It leaves us with excitement for the next trip rather than lamenting this one.  Vancouver is a city you could explore for weeks and still not cross everything off the list.

Our home away from home….This is not your parents Holiday Inn !

As in any large city, lodging can be both a challenge and expensive.  On the other hand, a currently very favorable Canadian – US dollar exchange rate made our Loonies stretch about 25% further.  Through our 3 summers of travels, we wanted to join one of the hotel chains reward programs and settled on Holiday Inn Express.  We’re able to find them along all our major routes, they are very well kept, offer a great breakfast and have super attentive staff.  Rates vary depending on, popularity of the area (double in Moab UT, Kalispel MT) and season.  The points we accumulate have given us a free week after the 3 summers.

 

This 7 day a week market was right by our hotel

Richmond Olympic Experience (ROX)

If there were an Olympic medal for, 2 vegans traveling on a motorcycle, we should at least get a Bronze……….

The Winter Olympics of 2010 may be long gone, but the city of Richmond has turned the Olympic Oval into a lasting memorial.  I should note, as most of you know, the Olympics were held in nearby, Whistler not Richmond.  However, Richmond won the bid for the Oval and built a 360,000 sq. ft building at a cost of $140 million.  The building is now a multi-sport complex with hockey, courts and a first class athletic facility.  The museum hosts one of the most interactive experiences allowing you to immerse yourself in: Ski Jumping, Sit-skiing , kayaking and Formula One race driving.  There are also ways to make a fool of yourself…..see me swinging a Hockey stick for the first time….Oh Boy….

Karla is hoping for a personal best on this ski jump attempt

Karla psyching herself up for the Sit Ski event

Yes, I did hit the wall….stupid car!

After this Canada stamped my passport, “No Re-entry”

Vancouver Lookout…..Great 360 view

The Vancouver Lookout is like the Space Needle, only with a building underneath.  I’m glad we went, but most of all I’m glad they only allow you to use the stairs for a short time in March…..believe me Karla always takes the stairs and she likes the top floor.  Me, I was happy to push the button and ride to the top of this one.  Note to self, “don’t visit Vancouver in March.”

The Naam…..it was on everyone’s must try list

Enclosed outdoor patio at, “The Naam”

Open 24 hours

What? Choices?  Vegans aren’t supposed to get choices…..you just order the Veggie Burger and shut up 🙂

The Vancouver neighborhoods:

Kitsilano, Gastown, Punjabi Market, Yaletown, Chinatown & West End to name a few.

It’s a big city; or cities within a city, where you can find it all.  We didn’t make to every neighborhood….Karla says I don’t walk fast enough 🙂  We’re from a small, single ethnicity town that basically closes up at 9 PM, so Vancouver was a treat.  Parks, music, Art, Museums, food and more food, took our idea of, “over-planning” to a new level.

Gastown was one of our favorite neighborhoods.  Historically the original downtown of Vancouver, the cobblestone streets remain, although it is now a, “trendy” area.  The Steam Clock is not nearly as old as the area might imply, but yes, it is powered by steam.  Among the plentiful sidewalk cafes is where we found the newer sister to, “Meet on Main.”  Called, “Meet in Gastown,” our new friend Jeff helped to design and build the cafe.

The, “Steam Clock” in Gastown

Let’s say you wanted to go for a hike……It’s a real, “GRIND.”

Have you ever said something and then maybe weren’t sure you should have said it?  Doing the, “Grouse Grind” was my idea; perhaps not my best idea, but yes, I said it.  Just like the Vancouver Lookout, Grouse Mountain has two ways up.  One, you could ride the tram, oh such views!  Or, you can take the trail……I mean it’s less than 3 miles, which on the reasonably flat earth upon we exist would not be bad.  Well, the Grind as they call it, goes up, sometimes straight up climbing 2800′, with boulders and roots just for fun.  At about half-way, Karla asked me where my sense of humor was, I could only reply, “at the bottom.” Sometimes there were actual steps, thankfully they made them so no two were the same size or even pointing in the same direction.  And, no joking some of them were at least 3 feet tall. At the equivalent of 230 stories, it is a challenge….one we just had to do.  At the top I relocated my sense of humor…..it rode the tram, as we did going down.

Fun little app on the iphone says, you have climbed the Empire State Bldg….Twice

We made it!  Karla is so good for me…..I want that on my Headstone…..

The Wallflower another fantastic restaurant

Well, it is called, “The Wallflower”

Breakfast Menu….McNuffin?  Hey vegans are supposed to be healthy, not funny

Everyone thinks vegetarians, “Hit the Pot”  This sign is not helping.

Nice Vice – Vegan Ice Cream Store…..Now things are getting really weird!

Gourmet salt on your non-ice cream…..Sure, why not?

On to Victoria

We only had two days left and there was so much more to see.  We short-changed Victoria and were just rushing to see what we could in the remaining time….another trip is definitely required.  Victoria is stunningly beautiful, like a city sized, manicured garden from every angle.  We stayed near the harbour and did the walking tour, rode out to Butchart but missed 95% of the island 🙁

We had hoped to meet Dar, but the time squeeze pushed that off until next trip as well.  Many friends I have spoken with start or spend their whole trip on Vancouver Island….I don’t know how you prioritize, there are no wrong answers.

They direct motorcycles to the front of the ferry boarding line….first on – first off

Loading and unloading was a breeze on a motorcycle

Green Cuisine – Vegan Buffet in Victoria……so much to choose from

If we don’t go home soon, it will be 2FatVegans2FlatTires

Butchart Gardens

Built in and around an old quarry, the gardens are truly one of a kind and should be seen at least once in your life. It’s been 30 years since my last visit and this was Karla’s first, so we spent several hours taking it all in.  The vibrancy of color is impressive, but so is the artistry of how they transformed a rock pit.  I work in rock pits, and I still can’t see in my mind what this must have looked like before they started. We did not stay until dark for the fireworks show, but I’m told it lights up the garden with colors above and below.  We weren’t impressed with the cafe, more of a Disneyland fast food experience.  We didn’t try the sit-down restaurant.

Victoria is it’s own garden

You can walk around the harbour area for free and still feel like you’ve visited an impressive garden.  The streetscape and landscaping around businesses is way beyond the evergreen bushes we’re used to seeing at home.  There is a sidewalk stage with a full schedule of performers and bands who played along the pier.  Of course the Parliament building has been a sight to see forever too.  We walked a good deal of the core downtown business district, with it’s bustling cafes, restaurants, breweries and shops.  As in Vancouver, the streets were impeccably clean and friendly.  I’ve spent enough time in LA & SF to know when you’re in an, “uncomfortable” neighborhood and it is so different up there.  I’m not saying these cities don’t have crime or a,”bad” area, they probably do, but it’s as rare as a rude Canadian……you just don’t see it.

British Columbia Parliament Building

Empress Hotel

We left so much to see next time

We ran out of time long before enthusiasm for B.C., “All good things must come to an end.”  Well, maybe that was true in the 1300’s, but, not this time.  I prefer, “All good things…..”To Be Continued” just like a good 70’s TV show……we will be back!   We’ll finish the summer of 2016 with a trip to Glacier NP and before the winter winds force us inside, we will be planning the summer of 2017.

There were hree, “highlights” that we had hoped to make this trip, but weather re-oriented us for a couple of days.  Whistler BC, was just out of reach as the rain fell and visibility dropped on the day we planned the ride up Hwy 99.  With it’s Olympic history, majestic mountain peaks and 50 mph ziplines, Whistler was a high priority stop. That alone will require a second adventure along with, Capilano Suspension Bridge and a slew of untried restaurants.

Riding the, “Sunshine Coast” out of Vancouver and, up island from Victoria would have been a perfect two day loop on the bike, but again time required winnowing of the list.  That ride, dependent on multiple ferry schedules was another missed opportunity…….for now. Another Vancouver BC motorcycle trip is in the future.

The Richmond Night Market visit was not precluded by weather, but traffic.  This thing is so popular and streets leading in were not designed for the thousands of cars……we tried, but after an hour and a half of sitting, we gave up.  Next time we would probably figure out a bus line, but they were stuck as well.  Going a couple of hours early may be the only sane option.

Ferry Victoria to Port Angeles WA.

The Black Ball Ferry line is your link from Victoria harbour over to Port Angeles WA. Much smaller than the Vancouver to Victoria ferry, it was, clean, not crowded and offered a, “Top Deck” patio for unobstructed views.  Weather on the day of our crossing was, blue sky and calm seas which made the ride an event in itself.  We watched whales breaching the flat surface as one last enticement for us to return to this unforgettable place.

U.S. Border Patrol (Customs) were the friendliest I’ve ever encountered.  They did a pre-check on the ferry dock prior to boarding and then a final few questions as we rode off the ship in Port Angeles.  The total time involved was less than 15 minutes, with a short line to get your passport stamped on the Victoria side.

 

Hitting U.S. soil was, “In Your Face”

Traffic got rude and trash was a stark reminder……….. we were home.

Western Washington – Different Route and Another area to Explore

They announced during the crossing that the 104 Bridge over Puget Sound was closed.  This was not our route, so while not directly affecting us, it did mean more traffic along Hwy 101 on the western side of the sound.  Many cars would have taken Hwy 104 east, but today they would stay with us and circle all the way around the southern tip before heading north on I-5.  We rode in a full line of cars with a few times of stop & go.  This was a Sunday so many families had came from Seattle and now had the most direct route home detoured.

The Olympic Peninsula between Puget Sound and Seattle to the east , and the Pacific ocean to the west is a large area containing few roads and is surely a place we need to explore.  The Olympic mountain range is the second largest in Washington and home to two temperate rain forests; one of the largest in North America.  Catch this area when it’s not raining (good luck) and you’ll see flora & fauna unlike anywhere else.  Hwy. 101 in California and Oregon mostly follows the coastline, but for a good part of Washington it is inland and the coast is not easily accessible.

One last stop of, “Vegan Weirdness” before we end

From one of our favorite apps, Happy Cow or Trip Advisor, (I don’t remember which) we found, “Le Voyeur” in Olympia.  We were staying the night in Washington’s capitol city, where Hwy 101 dumps us onto the I-5.  The term, “Eclectic” may have be born right here at Le Voyeur; and if not, it was certainly reinforced.  The food was amazing, the staff was good, but the atmosphere…..I will have to let the photos speak for themselves.  We loved it.

Downtown Olympia sidewalk cafe

Open kitchen – Appears cluttered but it was very clean, would eat there anytime

Some parts were, let’s say intensely decorated.

It’s over, go home

There’s nothing else to say, take a Vancouver BC motorcycle trip.   We at least had the always beautiful ride over Mt. Hood back into Central Oregon.  I guess we’re beyond blessed when no matter where you go, home is still one of the grandest spots in the country.  Ride into town looking at the 10,000′ mountains we take for granted.  I’m refreshed, tired and invigorated all at the same time……this is a vacation that will never be forgotten.

Life is short – Start Living Now !

It’s nice to be missed 🙂