As I’ve written before, vacations are important. My parents taught us that from the get-go, with camping trips to the Skyline Drive, a memorable couple weeks to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada and a semi-exotic trip (then) to a strange and wondrous place called Atlanta.
We’ve tried, likewise, to get Luke out a lot. We’ve been to Hawaii a couple times, to California more than that, to Arizona and Texas and to spots all over the South and Midwest. To Italy one summer. But one place we’d never taken him to was the Pacific Northwest.
So a few weeks ago, we decided we’d do that for his last vacation before college (he starts in about 10 days or so). Considering we were leaving behind a stretch of three straight weeks in the 90s in the ATL, it looked like a good choice.
We started in Seattle, a place I haven’t been in at least a decade, and drove up to Vancouver and Whistler, BC. We spent a few days there, came back over the border and hiked a little in North Cascades National Park. Then we went the other way into the islands off Washington and called it a trip.
It worked. The days were a little hotter than we expected. A lot of walking proved pretty exhausting. We ended up in a pretty skeezy hotel one night. But, all in all, we got away. We breathed. We didn’t turn on the TV once, we talked a lot, we avoided cul de sacs and Kohl’s and Target.
Yep. Mom and Dad were right.
(Click on the gallery for a slideshow with the complete captions.)
Rainier as we’re coming into Seattle in early August. The first of the many “We’re not in Atlanta anymore” moments. Which is kind of what vacation is all about.
We stayed downtown for the first few days. Like a lot of cities — the ATL included — Seattle now has a great ferris wheel as an attraction. The Seattle Great Wheel. This is as high as we went on it.
Cooler than the wheel was a bus ride up to Lake Union, on the north part of Seattle, where we took in a decidedly Pacific Rim activity …
Dragon boat racing. Young, old, semi-pro teams and amateurs from all over the West Coast splashed it out. It was cool and different.
From Seattle, we drove north, via I-5 and Chuckanut Drive, to Vancouver, BC. Here’s the boy and the wife on the Vancouver waterfront. Beautiful.
Because I’m a cheap bastard, and I believed Priceline, we stayed on the West End of Vancouver, just off Stanley Park. In fact, it was more local, with a ton of restaurants and a cool offbeat flair. Sometimes, being cheap works out.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is north of town, but all the inside Vancouver things I read said the suspension bridge over Lynn Canyon was better. And it was free. Being a cheap bastard, that’s the way we went. Not a great shot here, cause I was too busy bracing myself. But it was beautiful. Not the ATL.
We wandered up to Whistler on a gray but dry day and took this one in the Olympic Village there. Nice town. I’d like to see it in the snow.
Luke and I near the Olympic Village in Whistler.
Poutine. One of those dishes that tastes exactly like it looks. That’s gravy and cheese curds on fries, for the uninitiated.
We drove back over the border and took a left into North Cascades National Park. We were looking for cooler weather — cooler than Atlanta — but it was 85 up there. Still gorgeous.
Luke and Mary Jo on the shores of Diablo Lake in North Cascades …
… and me and Luke.
Hiking in North Cascades.
This is a shot from on top of the Diablo Lake Dam in North Cascades. It was surprisingly uncrowded (or, considering it was 85, maybe not so surprising). My first step on a dam. Amazing, those things.
More hiking, getting up in the alpine ranges of North Cascades. There’s some snow on those mountains, and more glaciers in North Cascades than there are in Glacier National Park (so a ranger told us). But it didn’t feel like it on this day.
The family posing.
After a day in North Cascades, we spent the night outside a cool little island town, Anacortes, WA. The next morning, we got up and went to a park on the edge of the town and saw some of the most spectacular views of our trip. Here’s Luke getting all Ansel Adams on us.
… just beautiful. And nice and cool, too. Google Maps says it’s 2.704 miles from our house to this spot. Just a 40-hour drive. Or 38 without traffic.
We wandered down through the islands, took a ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend and ended up in the charming town of Poulsbo, settled by Scandanavians in the late 1800s (after they kicked out the native Americans).
We ate at a diner in Poulsbo and celebrated Mary Jo’s birthday (No. 29) with a cake from a local bakery. (It’s all about the planning, folks.)
Poulsbo, pop. under 10,000, sits on beautiful Liberty Bay.