England: Part 2- Cotswolds and Bath

Since we didn’t want to start the driving part of our trip dealing with London traffic, we took a train to Reading and picked up our rental car there. Other than the fact that our GPS stopped working about 20 minutes after we left the rental car facility, we were driving on the wrong side of the road,  there are roundabouts everywhere (sometimes one right after another), and some two lane roads are really only one lane, everything went fine.

On the way to our next hotel in Thornbury, we stopped by Stonehenge.

Archeologists believe the site was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

Each standing stone is about 13 ft high, 6 ft 11 in wide and weighs aboutd 25 tons.

The next photo was taken in the visitors center but shows how precisely the stones are aligned.

The stones are aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice.

Our lodging for the middle part of our trip was the Thornbury Castle. The building was begun in 1511 as a home for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. However Edward got crosswise with Henry VIII and was beheaded. Henry took over the property but only stayed here for a few days with Anne Boleyn, after which the castle fell into disrepair.

The castle is now a 26-room hotel and restaurant.

Wonder if Henry and Anne slept here?

A room with a cozy fireplace.

Cocktails before dinner.

One day we took a tour of the Cotswolds with a family run company, Secret Cottage Tours, named after the home of the owners. It was a great way to see the Cotswold countryside with a local guide and not have to drive!

Lorette in front of the Secret Cottage.

Local codes require that thatched roofs be kept.

The ‘cottages’ of former mill workers now sell for upwards of a million pounds.

Phone booths have been repurposed to become defibrillator stations.

Walking along a country lane.

A nice sunny day. The next day it was raining.

And the best thing about the tour: We started with tea and pastries, toured a little and came back to the cottage for a buffet lunch, toured some more, and concluded the day with a traditional Cotswold cream tea.

The other highlight of this part of the trip was a visit to Bath. The city became a spa in 60 AD  when the Romans built baths and a temple here to take advantage of the natural hot springs.

The museum has done an exceptional job of preserving the history of the place and uses photographic projections to recreate scenes of how the various rooms were used.

The water is still 115 F.

Another major attraction in Bath is the Cathedral, Bath Abbey.

Impressive fan vaulted ceiling created in the 1500s by the king’s master masons.

In the late 1500s memorials stared to be placed on the abby’s walls,

Some of the more than 1,500 memorials.

Next stop: Cornwall.

 

 

 

England: Part 1- London

How to see England if you only have two weeks? Well, you can’t so we decided to divide our time between London, Bath and the Cotswolds, and Cornwall. Even then, we could have spent lots more time in each place but feel we got a good sampling and were left with the desire to go back for more. So here is Part 1; London.

Nice to live so close to an airport with a direct flight to London Heathrow.

A nine hour flight from SEA to LHR on a 747.

First stop

Our home for five nights was the Hotel Baglioni. Great staff and right across from Hyde Park.

After checking into our hotel, we headed over to the London Eye for the Champagne Experience. The nice thing about booking this activity ahead is: (1) a private guide, (2) with Champagne, who (3) takes you to the front of the queue.

The wheel is 443 feet tall and has a diameter of 394 feet.

And that must be Big Ben.

Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.

It’s all downhill from here.

Meanwhile, back at the Baglioni we run into one of the world’s best bartenders.

Tiziano

Tiziano’s signature cocktail: a Siberian Sky.

There were a lot of fine places to eat within walking distance of our hotel. Here is one.

The Abingdon

English Garden Risotto and Smoked Monkfish Loin.

 

Next day, our first morning in London. I had to try it at least once.

A Full English Breakfast

Out to master the Underground and explore London.

Learned to ‘mind’ a lot of things, but especially ‘the gap’.

Attempted to maximize the number of British icons in this photo.

The British Museum

View of the very popular Rosetta Stone.

 

 

 

 

One day, we took the train over to Canterbury.

We wondered why there weren’t more people waiting for the train until we realized that we were waiting on the wrong track.

Canterbury Cathedral, founded 597 A.D., is the headquarters of the Church of England.

The Christ Church Gateway is the visitor entrance to the Cathedral.

List of Archbishops going back to 597 AD

Spot where Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170.

During the Reformation, vandals attempted to destroy what remained of Catholic influence.

Missing a head.

17th century graffiti.

There is also an interesting museum in Canterbury with artifacts from the Roman era.

Hyde Park provides a relaxing spot away from the crowds at all of the tourist sites.

Former private hunting grounds of Henry VIII.

The Albert Memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861.

One night we had theater tickets but I wasn’t feeling well so we decided to give them to the concierge, Tadas, who gave them to one of the hotel staff. I’m not sure that that had anything to do with it but the morning we were checking out, we asked Tadas to call a taxi to the train station. When we went outside for our ride, this is what was waiting…

A Maserati with our personal driver.

Next stop: Bath and the Cotswolds.

 

 

 

 

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Last week, grandkids Elliott and Sam came for a visit. One of our adventures was to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, a 725 acre wildlife park home to more than 200 animals native to the Pacific Northwest.

Before taking the tram, we had time to wander around some of the trails.

A Snowy Owl in a make-believe barn

River Otters

Cross section of a local tree that began its life in 1335.

Must be a cousin to the raccoons we have around our house.

A sleepy black bear

A forest nymph with a DSLR camera

After wandering around the various paved paths in the park, we boarded the tram for a tour of the 435-acre free-range area.

A newborn bison

Big Horn Sheep

Mountain Goat

Caribou

Yet more Caribou

And, finally, a group selfie. From my grimace, it appears that was trying to exceed my arm’s normal reach.

Lorette, John, Sam and Elliott

Terracotta Warriors

The current exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle is Terracotta Warriors Of The First Emperor. Yes, those terracotta warriors, so who could resist when they are so close?

So, here’s a little history. Qin She Huang became the king of his province when he was thirteen, then China’s first emperor in 221 BC when he was 38 after he had conquered all of the other warring states and unified China for the first time. He standardized language, weights and measures, and the currency. He connected the provinces through a series of highways and canals and even began construction of an early iteration of the Great Wall. In anticipation of his own death, Qin ordered work started on his necropolis soon after he became the first emperor.

This archeological site was discovered in 1974 by villagers digging a well when they unearthed a few terracotta pieces. The site now covers 38 square miles. The exhibit at the Pacific Science Center contains a sample of what has been discovered thus far: 8,000 warriors, 520 horses, archers, charioteers, generals, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.

Each of the figures has unique facial features and amazingly intricate detail down to their fingernails and the soles of their shoes.

Archeologists believe that this terracotta army was assembled to protect the emperor in the afterlife. A majority of the figures were found in a site called Pit 1 which is 750 feet long and 203 feet wide. They are arranged in 11 corridors which are 10 feet wide, paved with small bricks and covered with a wooden ceiling supported by large beams and posts.

Occasionally one of the warriors will pose for a sock photo.

All of the figures were originally painted but over time, the lacquer has disintegrated. Using currently available scientific methods, the curators have been able to reproduce the original colors.

This is how the statues would have looked when they were placed initially.

Photobomb!

After the exhibit we saw a movie, Mystery China, in the IMax theater which really enhanced the overall experience. The show closes in Seattle on September 4, then travels to Philadelphia. If you have the opportunity, you should try to go!

Lorette outside the Pacific Science Center

No adventure would be complete without a couple of food photos so off we went to Elliott’s Oyster House to locate some subject matter.

Dungeness Crab after some oysters on the half shell.

A grilled seafood salad.

What, no dim sum around here?

Columbus 2017

The 50th Anniversary of my OCS Class graduation at Ft Benning will be next year. Since I had a visit with my sister, Ena, planned anyway, we thought we’d do a little recon work for the eventual planning committee. So here are some photos from the trip, several as part of my scouting report and the others, purely family get-together.

After a cross-country flight and a drive from Atlanta to Columbus in a rental car, Ena scored major points for her welcome.

A Hendricks Martini!

A Hendricks Martini!

Homemade Brunswick Stew and barbecue

I wonder if there is any truth to this cocktail napkin?

I wonder if there is any truth to this cocktail napkin?

In the morning we set out to see what downtown Columbus had to offer. First stop: the Columbus Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

20170623-IMG_1617.jpg

How knew that the recipe for CocaCola was invented in Columbus?

Who knew that the recipe for CocaCola was invented in Columbus?

The Bureau is a wealth of information about Columbus and provides assistance in organizing reunions

The Bureau is a wealth of information about Columbus and provides assistance in organizing reunions

Right next to the Visitor’s Bureau is a full-service Marriott Hotel. No photos but probably the best bet for a central location within walking distance of Columbus downtown restaurants, bars and attractions.

The city has created a nice river walk beside the Chattahoochee

The city has created a nice river walk beside the Chattahoochee

Some of the old mill dams have been removed to create an urban whitewater park

Some of the old mill dams have been removed to create an urban whitewater park

Here's the tower on one side for a zip line across the Chattahoochee

Here’s the tower on one side for a zip line across the Chattahoochee

A quick walk around town to make sure there are restaurants and bars.

20170623-IMG_1266.jpg

20170623-IMG_1264.jpg

20170623-IMG_1267.jpg

A BLT with fried green tomatoes

A BLT with fried green tomatoes

There are several museums in Columbus but the only one we visited was a small, corporate museum founded and supported by the WC Bradley Company. Not sure if it would be available for a large reunion but the interior space sure is pleasing.

20170623-IMG_1248.jpg

A painting of post-Civil War Columbus as a mill town

A painting of post-Civil War Columbus as a mill town

One of my favorites by a local artist

My favorite by a local artist

One of Ena’s scuba diving friends, Mack, is a retired race car driver so we stopped by his shop.

20170623-IMG_1623.jpg

20170623-IMG_1625.jpg

Next day we took the hour plus drive down to The Andersonville National Historic Site, which preserves the former Camp Sumter, a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp during the final twelve months of the American Civil War. It is also site for the National Prisoner of War Museum.

20170625-IMG_1637.jpg

20170625-IMG_1281.jpg

The 45,000 Union prisoners that passed here were responsible for their own shelter

The 45,000 Union prisoners that passed through here were responsible for their own shelter

20170625-IMG_1286.jpg

Of the approximately 45,000 Union prisoners held at Camp Sumter during the war, nearly 13,000 died

Of the approximately 45,000 Union prisoners held at Camp Sumter during the war, nearly 13,000 died

20170625-IMG_1291.jpg

On the drive back to Columbus, we stopped by an art colony called Pasaquan, smack dab out in the middle of rural Georgia.

20170625-IMG_1656.jpg

 

20170625-IMG_4907.jpg

Couldn’t resist the photo ops!

20170625-IMG_1652.jpg

20170625-IMG_1648.jpg

It pays to have friends (or in this instance, a sister) in the right places. A relaxing day at Lake Harding with Ena’s friends, Bill and Sherry.

And to wind up the visit, a nice French-inspired dinner with a Southern twist at 7th Street Provisions.

20170625-IMG_1661.jpg

This isn’t the Columbus, Georgia I remember from 1968!

 

 

 

 

 

Lummi Island 2016

Last Christmas my present was a long weekend at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Puget Sound to be taken at some future date. Well, that date finally arrived last week.

Getting to and from the island is by ferry.

Missing the last ferry by two minutes put us in excellent position for the next one!

Missing the last ferry by two minutes put us in excellent position for the next one!

 

The ‘little cottage’ Lorette had reserved turned out to be a spectacular house right on the beach.

Steps leading down from the road

Steps leading down to our weekend getaway

Living room

Living room

Dining room with a view

Dining room with a view

The cocktail deck

The cocktail deck

And the view from the beach

And a view from the beach

 

The beach was sandy in places and rocky in others. Here are some photos from one of my morning walks.

20160625-IMG_8493.jpg

20160624-IMG_8439.jpg

20160624-IMG_8446.jpg

 

 

20160624-IMG_8441.jpg

The Willows Inn has become a destination for foodies and tables are booked months in advance. So it was a good thing we made our reservations for Friday night back in December! There isn’t a menu. People just show up and enjoy what the nine chefs have prepared that evening from locally sourced ingredients. In our case, there were nineteen different things on the tasting menu. Here’s a sample:

Dinner starts on the deck before moving into the dining room. the first alcohol pairing was a Rhubarb Cider

Dinner starts on the deck before moving into the dining room. The first alcohol pairing was a Rhubarb Cider…

A crispy crepe with golden char roe...

…and crispy crepes with golden char roe…

...which went with Black Cod Doughnuts...

…and Black Cod Doughnuts…

...and crispy kale leaves with black truffles

…and crispy kale leaves with black truffles.

Inside, the utensils are an eclectic combination of items collected from all over. Here’s a spoon that once did service with the US Navy and a sampling of the other courses.

20160624-IMG_8472.jpg

Smoked King Salmon belly

Smoked King Salmon belly

Lightly-cured Rockfish in a broth of grilled bones

Lightly-cured Rockfish in a broth of grilled bones

Wild herbs on Chicory leaves

Wild herbs on Chicory leaves

Smelt with green seeds

Smelt with green seeds

Sidestripe Prawns

Sidestripe Prawns

Smoked Mussels

Smoked Mussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Petrale Sole with crushed Lovage

Petrale Sole with crushed Lovage

Lamb tartare

Lamb tartare

Wild island berries

Wild island berries

 

Saturday we went on a cruise with Outer Island Expeditions to look for wildlife. With lots of sun and little wind, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to be out on the water.

The boat picked us up right on the beach

The boat picked us up right on the beach

We cruised around several of the San Juan Islands looking for wildlife

 

An Orca, also known as killer whales, but Orca sounds nicer

An Orca, also known as killer whales, but Orca sounds nicer

More Orcas

More Orcas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle

A Bald Eagle

Seals

Seals

 

Last night back at the house: steaks on the grill and a nice Cabernet to watch the sunset.

20160625-IMG_8543.jpg

20160625-IMG_8572.jpg

As you can see by that calm water, there was very little wind which is pretty rare. The next two photos are from Sunday morning as we were packing up to leave.

More like a lake than an ocean

More like a lake than an ocean

No so great for sailing but terrific for kayaking

Not so great for sailing but terrific for kayaking

 

Last shot: The ferry back to the mainland, sea spray and all.

20160626-IMG_8589.jpg

Boston 2016

Ah, the life of an old retired guy. Lorette had a conference in Boston and needed someone to handle her luggage. So, while she was getting smarter, I got to (mostly) play tourist.

The highlight for me was to reconnect with several guys from my Officer Candidate School (OCS) class at Fort Benning back in 1968. Several classmates have been instrumental in tracking people down and putting together reunions. When Jack McMackin learned that I was going to be in Boston, he organized lunch at a local restaurant with several of the guys who live in the area.

Ron Holmgren, Jack McMackin, Dan Mabesoone, and Rocky Stone

Ron Holmgren, Jack McMackin, Dan Mabesoone, me, and Rocky Stone

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency which is only a few blocks from Boston Common.

The Central Burying Ground was established in 1756

The Central Burying Ground was established in 1756

Before Lorette started her course, we had some time to explore so we took the T from our hotel a couple of stops to the North End.

North End architecture

North End architecture

Paul Revere Statue with the Old North Church in the background

Paul Revere Statue with the Old North Church in the background

Most recently, the North End has been an Italian neighborhood so where did we stop for lunch? A sushi restaurant.

20160318-IMG_7377.jpg

20160312-IMG_7292.jpg

If you have read many of my blog posts, you know there are going to be food photos!

If you have read many of my blog posts, you know there are going to be food photos!

The last time we were in Boston I bought a t-shirt at the Black Rose Pub. The shirt is now ready for the rag bag so I was on a special mission to track down its replacement.

The Black Rose

The Black Rose

Just happened to be here the day before St Patrick's Day

Just happened to be here the day before St Patrick’s Day

Boston has many fine restaurants and we did our best to sample as many as possible in the short time we were there. We had eaten at Sorellina on a previous trip and I remembered this interesting backlit wall.

A restaurant photo with no food in sight

A restaurant photo with no food in sight

I’m pretty sure we had oysters every day. So rather that post a picture of them all, here we are at Townsman with a pretty unique sampling of about everything that comes from the sea.

20160314-IMG_7343.jpg

The only negative of the trip was that on Day 1 of her conference, Lorette developed symptoms of a detached retina. After consulting with the experts back home and deciding that this was something that needed immediate attention, we discovered that the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital was a ten minute Uber ride from our hotel. Lucky to have an Emergency Room specializing in eyes so close! So, ER visit, laser surgery, and back to the hotel, all in one morning.

Just making sure it's the LEFT eye!

Just making sure it’s the LEFT eye!

Assistant Surgeon at the ready

Assistant Surgeon at the ready

One of the things on my bucket list was a visit to the USS Constitution. The museum was interesting but, unfortunately, the ship is undergoing a multi-year restoration.

The USS Constitution as she normally looks

The USS Constitution as she normally looks

The USS Constitution as she looked when I visited

The USS Constitution as she looked when I visited

While Lorette was in her conference, I had the opportunity to take a food tour of the North End. (Remember that was the Italian neighborhood where we ate sushi earlier.) Lots of little bites here and there as well as some history and architectural highlights.

An Italian deli

This Italian deli smelled wonderful

A help-yourself tub of octopus

A help-yourself tub of octopus

There is more than one kind of Prosciutto

There is more than one kind of Prosciutto

20160318-IMG_0495.jpg

20160318-IMG_0492.jpg

A cannoli helps restore calories lost from all that walking

A cannoli helps restore calories lost from all that walking

Polcari’s Coffee was started in 1932

Polcari’s Coffee was started in 1932

And what would Italian food be without wine?

And what would Italian food be without wine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And how much are you willing to spend?

And how much are you willing to spend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the tour I decided to swing back to one of the restaurants we had passed for a little lunch.

Trattoria Di Monica

Trattoria Di Monica

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

House made pasta with scallops

House made pasta with scallops

The weather was fine the entire week we were in Boston. However, as we flew out, the forecast for the next day was for six inches of snow. Nice timing!

20160317-IMG_7360.jpg

And because I put a link to my blog posts on Facebook, and whereas Facebook does not let me choose a photo as the ‘key’ photo, and whereas Facebook seems to always put the last photo in the post as the ‘key’ photo, and whereas I want control over that decision, I now therefore designate the following photo as my choice for the ‘key’ photo.

Ron Holmgren, Jack McMackin, Dan Mabesoone, and Rocky Stone

Ron Holmgren, Jack McMackin, Dan Mabesoone, and Rocky Stone

Arizona 2016

My daughter, Jennifer, is a huge Seattle Mariners fan. In March she got tickets for a couple of spring training games in Arizona and invited me to go along. So, in addition to watching some baseball, we visited the Desert Botanical Garden, Sedona, an ancient Native American archeological site, and the old mining town of Jerome.

Landed!

Landed!

Our Saturday game didn’t start until 1:00 PM so we used the morning to stop by the Desert Botanical Garden. If you are ever in Phoenix, I’d put this place on your ‘don’t miss’ list.

The day we were there was Artist Day so there were artists everywhere

The day we were there was Artists Day so there were artists painting en plein air

A big change from the rainy Pacific Northwest

A big change from the rainy Pacific Northwest

A "crested" Saguaro cactus

A “crested” Saguaro cactus

Saguaros may live for more than 150 years and grow to be over 40 ft tall

Saguaros may live for more than 150 years and grow to be over 40 ft tall

We were there for lots of blooms

We were there for lots of blooms

20160326-IMG_0538.jpg

20160326-IMG_7426.jpg

These birds must have tough feet!

These birds must have tough feet!

20160326-IMG_7429.jpg

20160326-IMG_0544.jpg

20160326-IMG_7428.jpg

20160326-IMG_0556.jpg20160326-IMG_0558.jpg20160326-IMG_0555.jpg

George's favorite rock

George’s favorite rock

Next stop: Peoria. Seattle Mariners vs. LA Dodgers

Capacity crowd for a sunny Saturday afternoon game

Capacity crowd for a sunny Saturday afternoon game

One Mariner fan; one Tarheel fan

One Mariner fan; one Tarheel fan

Would like to claim that we caught a fly ball but it was actually the kid sitting next to us

Would like to claim that we caught a fly ball but it was actually the kid sitting next to us

Saturday night we had dinner with some Phoenix nieces and a nephew.

John, Angie, Jason, Amanda, Riley and Rowan

John, Angie, Jason, Amanda, Riley and Rowan

No tickets for a Sunday game so we drove up to Sedona for breakfast.

Hot air balloons along the way

Hot air balloons along the way

The Coffee Pot Restaurant

The Coffee Pot Restaurant

Need to come back to try the other 100 omlets

Need to come back to try the other 100 omelets

Reading up on vortices so we can explore them around Sedona

Reading up on vortices so we can explore them around Sedona

The red rocks around Sedona make for some spectacular landscapes. Here’s a panorama taken with my iPhone at the Airport Mesa Vortex.

20160327-IMG_7465.jpg

20160327-IMG_0581.jpg

20160327-IMG_0582.jpg20160327-IMG_7477.jpg

A Japanese tourist experiencing the energy of a vortex

A Japanese tourist experiencing the energy of a vortex

20160327-IMG_7467.jpg

Lying on a rock looking up at the sky

Lying on a rock looking up at the sky

On the way to Jerome, we stopped at Tuzigoot, a Native American village of the Sinagua people who lived here between 1000 and 1400.

20160327-IMG_7485.jpg

20160327-IMG_7495.jpg

20160327-IMG_7493.jpg

The original pueblo had 87 ground floor rooms

20160327-IMG_7494.jpg

20160327-IMG_7484.jpg

We hit Jerome and discovered the Jerome Grand Hotel, a former insane asylum.

Entrance to the restaurant, appropriately named 'Asylum'

Entrance to the restaurant, appropriately named ‘Asylum’

Just in time for Happy Hour

Just in time for Happy Hour

And who would have thought that a restaurant in the middle of nowhere has a wonderful kitchen and an impressive wine list!

Signature soup

Signature soup

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

And a 90+ Australian Shiraz

And a 90+ Australian Shiraz

Last day. Spent the morning searching out notable coffee establishments in Phoenix. Then, an afternoon game before flying back to Seattle that evening.

Seats right behind home plate

Seats right behind home plate

Hey, that's us on TV! Four rows up on the left side of the isle.

Hey, that’s us on TV! Four rows up on the left side of the isle.

Another great trip. Only downside was that our plane was several hours late leaving Phoenix. Then when we got to Seattle, the Jetway wasn’t functioning properly so everyone had to deplane down stairs from the rear of the plane. At least it wasn’t raining!

20160328-IMG_7526.jpg

 

Wintergrass 2016

We have been attending the Wintergrass Music Festival for nine or ten years now, first when it was in Tacoma and for the past seven years, in Bellevue. If you are thinking about sitting outside on a hay bale watching the local bluegrass group, think again. The Bellevue Hyatt Regency bends over backwards to make this a first class, enjoyable experience for everyone.

Better accommodations than a tent

Better accommodations than a tent

Warm and dry in February

Warm and dry in February

Four stages

Four stages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each year the festival hosts about thirty bands. Wintergrass  started out with a primary focus on Bluegrass but has evolved over the years to include a wide variety of traditional and roots music as well as groups with an international flavor.

Noam Pikelny near the end of his One Man, One Banjo, One Joke Tour

Noam Pikelny near the end of his One Man, One Banjo, One Joke Tour

Trout Steak Revival from Denver

Trout Steak Revival from Denver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things about the Hyatt’s location is that my favorite dumpling restaurant, Din Tai Fung, is right across the skybridge. This year one of Lorette’s knitting friends, Dorothy, and her husband, Bill, joined us for the weekend. It was only fair that we made stopping here a priority.

Hot and Sour Soup and shrimp dumplings

Hot and Sour Soup and shrimp dumplings

Dorothy and Lorette

Dorothy and Lorette

Bill and John

Bill and John

Quite a few of the people attending bring their own instruments so there are impromptu jams everywhere.

20160226-IMG_3186.jpg

20160227-IMG_7194.jpg

No age limit for getting in on the fun

No age limit for getting in on the fun

Bill with his banjo and Dorothy with her autoharp join a jam session

Bill with his banjo and Dorothy with her autoharp join a jam session

 

There are a lot of restaurants in the neighborhood with happy hours. We found that was an inexpensive way to get some good grub between shows.

A Martini and cheeseburger. Why not? I'm on vacation!

A Martini and cheeseburger. Why not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who says seared Ahi doesn't go with Bluegrass?

Who says seared Ahi doesn’t go with Bluegrass?

Yet another advantage of living in the Pacific Northwest: steamed mussels

Yet another advantage of living in the Pacific Northwest: steamed mussels

Characters welcome…

20160227-IMG_7199.jpg

This guy was playing for a beer

This guy was playing for his beer

If you want to check out a new instrument, this would be the place

If you want to check out a new instrument, this would be the place

Dorothy trying out a new autoharp at the booth of the guy who made hers

Dorothy trying out a new autoharp at the booth of the guy who made hers

And here it is... the ubiquitous sock picture (with the guy who made Dorothy's autoharp

And here it is… the ubiquitous sock picture (Lorette with the guy who made Dorothy’s autoharp)

Oh, right, we were there for the music. Here are just two of the many acts we were able to see over the weekend.

The Bombadils from Montreal were one of my favorites

The Bombadils from Montreal were one of my favorites

And back for their fourth year, Väsen from Sweden

And back for their fourth year, Väsen from Sweden

That strange looking instrument is a nyckelharpa in case you were wondering

That strange looking instrument is a nyckelharpa in case you were wondering

And so ends another weekend of good music and good food with good friends.

View from our hotel. You can't see Russia from here but you CAN see Seattle.

View from our hotel. You can’t see Russia from here but you CAN see Seattle and the Olympic Mountains.

 

 

Victoria, BC

A 70th birthday present from my son and daughter: a long weekend in Victoria with just the three of us. The trip started with a two and a half hour ride on the Victoria Clipper from downtown Seattle to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. What a comfortable way to travel!

12651221_10207101280742805_3772451732173176390_n.jpg

George and John

No need to fasten seatbelts

Jennifer

Lots of room to move around the cabin

Lots of time for a friendly card game

Time enough for a friendly card game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer reserved this town house through AirB&B.

20160131-IMG_0338.jpg

Our first day in Victoria mainly involved checking out various food options.

Chinatown for dim sum

Chinatown for dim sum

Beer and poutine at the Beagle Pub

Beer and poutine at the Beagle Pub

The owners here obviously didn't hold the Maple Leafs in high regard

Different pub but the owners here obviously didn’t hold the Maple Leafs in high regard

The Victoria Public Market is a good place to forage for dinner stuff

The Victoria Public Market is a good place to forage for dinner stuff

Not to overdo the gastronomy thing, but…..

Breakfast at John's Place

Breakfast at John’s Place

Daughter and father

Jen and me

The son

George

We spent the morning at Fort Rodd Hill, one of Canada’s Historic Sites west of Victoria.

This was one of Canada's coastal artillery defense positions from 1878 until 1956

This was one of Canada’s coastal artillery defense positions from 1878 until 1956

20160130-IMG_0205.jpg

20160130-IMG_0199.jpg

These people hadn't heard that their post had been decommissioned

These people hadn’t heard that their post had been decommissioned

20160130-IMG_0210.jpg

7,662 km to London

20160130-IMG_0234.jpg

Sentry Geese

20160130-IMG_0223.jpg

The Fisgard Lighthouse was built in 1860 and was the first lighthouse on Canada’s rugged west coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop was the Hatley Castle and Gardens, now on the campus of Royal Roads University.

The castle commissioned by one of Canada's coal barons and was completed in 1908

The castle commissioned by one of Canada’s coal barons and was completed in 1908

Even in winter, the gardens are a nice place to visit.

Signs of spring

Signs of spring

20160130-IMG_6965.jpg

Snowdrops

This wisteria was probably planted in 1908

This wisteria was probably planted in 1908

Peacock

Peacock

Papparazzi and Peacock

Papparazzi and Peacocks

Landscape with George

Landscape with George

Landscape with Jennifer

Landscape with Jennifer

Last stop of the day was at French Beach Provincial Park.

Looking out at the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Looking out at the Strait of Juan de Fuca

20160130-IMG_0281.jpg

Our town house was only a couple of blocks from Beacon Hill Park, a 200 acre park in the heart of Victoria, so the next morning we headed over to check it out.

20160131-IMG_0296.jpg

Interesting statuary

The Moss Lady

Lots of ducks

Lots of ducks

20160131-IMG_0293.jpg

More ducks

Yet more ducks

Yet more ducks

Yet even more ducks

20160131-IMG_6974.jpg

A Giant Sequoia

20160131-IMG_6971.jpg

Peacocks roosting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadians are so polite

Canadians are so polite

A classic

A classic parked on the street

Sunday afternoon we drove up the Route of the Totems to Duncan, home to 39 totem poles located throughout downtown.

A sun break along the way

A sun break along the way

A photo of a trash can on another trash can along the highway

A photo of a trash can on another trash can on the highway

Starting along the Totem Trail in Duncan

Starting along the Totem Trail in Duncan

20160131-IMG_0588.jpg

20160131-IMG_0340

20160131-IMG_0349.jpg

20160131-IMG_0354.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160131-IMG_0576.jpg

20160131-IMG_0370.jpg

20160131-IMG_0372.jpg

20160131-IMG_0887.jpg20160131-IMG_0376.jpg

20160131-IMG_0361.jpg

But if you thought Duncan was a cool place because of all those totem poles, just wait…

Duncan is also home of the world's largest hockey stick!

Duncan is also home of the world’s largest hockey stick

Monday, our last day. The Clipper doesn’t leave for Seattle until 5:00 PM so we had time for one more educational activity.

The Victoria Bug Zoo!

The Victoria Bug Zoo

20160201-IMG_0658.jpg

20160201-IMG_7011.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160201-IMG_0690.jpg

20160201-IMG_0671.jpg20160201-IMG_7026.jpg

20160201-IMG_0420.jpg

20160201-IMG_7021.jpg

20160201-IMG_7017.jpg

20160201-IMG_0700.jpg

20160201-IMG_0703.jpg

20160201-IMG_0709.jpg

Who knew that scorpions floresce under UV light?

 

On our way to the pier, we passed the Parliament Building.

The BC Parliament Building

The BC Parliament Building

And just as we were getting on the Clipper, this happened…

Giant bugs escaped from the Bug Zoo

Giant bugs escaped from the Bug Zoo

Whew, barely made it on board with our lives!

Thanks, Victoria, for a great weekend

Thanks, Victoria, for a great weekend

 

Thanks, Jennifer and George, for a great 70th birthday present!