Tag Archives: breweries

Cool Cabin in the North Carolina Mountains

As I mentioned in my earlier post about goals, we wanted to vacation more this year in the states so we took our first adventure to North Carolina. We rented this cool, yet tiny, cabin in Bryson City, North Carolina. Situated in the Appalachian Mountains, the cabin had incredible views of the tree laden Smoky Mountains.

See a slide show here

Woodland Loft Cabin

Woodland Loft Cabin

The cabin was small, my guess is that it was about 300-400 square feet. But it made great use of the space. It had flat screen TVs, a fireplace, views from almost every inch of the cottage, a pretty large bathroom and a small kitchen. It also had a nice deck area with hot tub.

Great views from the bedroom

Great views from the bedroom

Deck with Hot Tub

Deck with Hot Tub

Hiking in Deep Creek

Just minutes from Bryson City is the Deep Creek entry to the Smoky Mountain National Park. From here you can hike the Three Waterfalls Loop. This is a pretty easy 3 mile hike that provides up close views of 3 waterfalls.  As we started our hike, a deer was just a few feet away drinking from the creek.

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Biltmore House in Asheville

Located about a hour from Bryson City in Asheville, NC, the Biltmore House is an impressive mansion built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. Situated on an 8,000 acre estate, the Biltmore includes a house, vineyard, winery, farm, and tons of hiking trails. We’ve visited several mansions in the USA and a number of castles in Europe but this home is decorated in the most tasteful way we’ve seen.

The Biltmore House includes 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, a gym, and a swimming pool. As we walked through the rooms and visited the huge kitchen and servant quarters, it reminded us of the popular series “Downton Abbey”. They don’t allow taking photos from inside of the house, so you should plan a trip to Asheville to see it for yourself.

The Biltmore Huose

The Biltmore Huose

Local Craft Breweries

We always tend to seek out local craft brew houses when traveling. In Bryson City, we visited Nantahala Brewing Company. When we walked in, one of the locals entertained us with stories of the Appalachian trail, other local breweries, and his love of Alabama football.

Nantahala Brewing Company

Nantahala Brewing Company

Our new friend told us about breweries in a town about 10 minutes away called Sylva and told us that Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other place in America. I always thought Fort Collins, CO was the brew capital, who knew! We had to visit more breweries.

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

One of the breweries in Asheville that the local told us about was Pour. At Pour, they have 43 taps where you can sample any of the beers they offer. They give you a bracelet that you scan to allow you to pour as little or as much as you like and you pay for what you pour. Very cool idea.

Bracelet used for Pour

Bracelet used for Pour

Pour - 43 taps

Pour – 43 taps

Cherokee

Our final stop around the Bryson City area was in a town about 15 minutes away called Cherokee. Here they have museum that details the life of the Cherokee Indians and their plight with the Europeans that drove them out of their homeland. The exhibits were well done and informative. After visiting the museum I’ve decided to read the book The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756-1765.

Catching up with Old Friends

We took this travel opportunity to catch up with some old friends. My best friend from high school, Bill Stuart (the author of Gemstone Chronicles), lives just north of Atlanta. He and his wife Lana met Lynn and me in Dillard, Georgia one night for dinner. It was the first time I had seen Bill since high school and it was great to see him and meet Lana.

About 3 hours east of Bryson City is Charlotte, North Carolina. Another high school friend, Bill Baxley, lives there. As we began heading towards the coast, we stopped in Charlotte to see Bill and his wife Michelle. This was our first time meeting Michelle and it was really great connecting with them during our journey.

Where are We Heading Next?

As we leave Bryson City, we will make our way to the east coast. We plan to visit the beaches of Nags Head, NC to see where the Wright Brothers launched the world’s first flight. We also plan to see Cape Hatteras to photograph the iconic light house.

Leaving Nags Head, we plan to stop into Myrtle Beach (although I did not bring my golf clubs). Then on to Charleston SC, Hilton Head SC and then to Savannah GA.

Take Control of Your Passwords with aMemoryJog

aMemoryJog: Best Password Manager

Latest Escapades and my latest blog: 2 Hour Appreneur

For those of you that follow this travel blog, I wanted to let you know that I just started a new blog called the “2 Hour Appreneur“.  The new blog is the result of a new experiment I am trying out. For the last year, I have been infatuated with mobile apps and people who build them.

Since I love business and life hacking, I thought I would perform an experiment to determine if a person can start a business building iPhone/iPad/Android apps and work only about 2 hours a day doing it. During this journey, I will document everything along the way.

If you are interested in this topic and would like to get an email each time I post to it, go to http://2hourappreneur.wordpress.com, scroll to the bottom right of the page and look for something that says “Follow Blog via Email“. Enter your email there and you will receive the blog automatically when I post a new one.

I started this blog about 2 weeks ago and I already have 533+ followers!  Wow!

What Have You Missed So Far?

I started the blog about 2 weeks ago and have posted 2 blogs so far:

What’s Going On With Us?

Lynn and I are still in Fort Collins, Colorado hanging out with our boys, visiting breweries, hiking, cycling, and working out. Here are a few recent pictures from our escapades:

Hiking in Fort Collins

We found a cool hiking trail called “The Devils Backbone”.  It is a moderately easy trail, taking about 1.5 hours to complete.  It ascends up the side of a mountain with an incredible view of the valley below seen through a natural hole in the rock formations, called the “Keyhole”.

Keyhole

Keyhole

Katie enjoyed the hike but was sore the next day

Katie enjoyed the hike but was sore the next day

Singletrack trails

Singletrack trails

I also found a hike at Shields Ponds that slinks next to the Poudre River, circling back by a working farm. I took this picture of a old truck that was still being used on the farm today. Very cool.

Old truck on working farm

Old truck on working farm

Cycling

We found a really long cycling trail in Windsor, just a few miles from Fort Collins. It is snakes along the Poudre River and runs through cattle farms, neighborhoods, and nature preserves. I am not sure exactly how long the trail is but my guess is that it is around 25 to 30 miles one way. Lynn and I purchased road bikes recently and have been trying them out on these trails.

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Scenes along the bike trail

Scenes along the bike trail

Exploring New Breweries

We have also been exploring new breweries. In my last blog post, I talked about the huge population of breweries in Fort Collins. It is true, here are a few more.

C.B. & Potts

C.B. & Potts

Pateros Creek Brewery

Pateros Creek Brewery

Pateros Creek Brewery

Pateros Creek Brewery

Funkwerks Brewery

Funkwerks Brewery

Tour of Funkwerks

Tour of Funkwerks

Beer Menu on the Big Screen - Mayor of Old Town

Beer Menu on the Big Screen – Mayor of Old Town

The Mayor of Old Town Brewery

The Mayor of Old Town Brewery

Freedoms Edge Brewery

Freedoms Edge Brewery

Update on the App Development of aMemoryJog

As many of your know, I blogged about developing a web based product and an accompanying mobile app that allows you to track all your passwords, loyalty cards and just about anything else that is easily forgettable — putting all of that info at your fingertips.

The web version of this is done and I am getting several hundred people downloading it each month. I subcontracted out the app development and it should be selling for the iPhone in the Apple App Store in July or August. Here is what it looks like. If you haven’t done it yet, download a free trial here. The iPhone edition will have both a free and paid edition, so you could use it for free once it hits the App Store in a couple of months.

aMemoryJog - Web and iPhone versions

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone versions

What’s Next for Us?

Lynn and I will be heading back to the Florida for May to enjoy the sun and surf before summer begins. We are planning a summer trip to Utah to visit some of their incredible state parks, a trip to Greece in the fall and a trip to Ireland for Thanksgiving. Lots of exciting days ahead!

2013 in the Rear View Mirror

2013 – A year of travels and self discovery

The end of the year always brings reflection, a habit I developed when running our business. For us, 2013 was the first full year of retirement, traveling and self discovery. With our year-end travels, we were not able to send out Christmas cards this year, so hopefully this will suffice in lieu of cards for friends that follow our blog. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!

Early 2013

After spending last Christmas 2012 with our boys (Cameron and Ryan), we started out 2013 by moving Cameron from Maine to Colorado. After a semester at the University of Maine, Cameron missed Colorado and wanted to spend his college years at CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado. That suited us, as Ryan was already enrolled there.

Ryan, Cameron and I flew to Maine, cleared out his dorm and made the 3 day trek from Maine to Colorado. We were packed into his Ford Mustang like sardines, sharing the backseat with half of his belongings.  Not the most comfortable ride across country, but we spent a lot of quality time talking, joking and just having fun. We rotated driving duties, so we only had to drive about 2 hours at a time — a cool way to travel. Lynn met us in Colorado and we moved Cameron into his new apartment and he enrolled in college.

After returning to Florida, I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm dry days. Fishing in the bay was great, a friend (Tom Helderlie) and I caught lots of red fish. We had plenty of cold days that brought on the first bout of boredom since I retired so I decided to start working on a new software project, discussed in my March 2013 blog.

Spring 2013

In February, Lynn and I talked about traveling again. We had an epiphany — what if we rented our condo to fund more travel. Getting the condo ready for the rental season was a bit of a chore, but by early March, it was fully rented for Spring break. So we hit the road again by visiting our boys in Colorado, then on to California. In California, we spent several days in Napa Valley, learning more about wines than ever before.

Red wines fermenting

Red wines fermenting

Then we were off to Sequoia National Park, the home of some the biggest redwoods in the  world. I was literally in awe of the size of these trees.

Huge redwoods

Huge redwoods

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Lynn and I had seen lots of Ansel Adams photography but had never visited one his most photographed subjects — Yosemite National Park. We took the chance to take some of our photos that could never rival his.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Before we left for California, a friend (Craig Bromley) mentioned that we had to visit Big Sur and the Sonoma coast. We tasted wine in Sonoma, visited Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, and spent a few days in San Francisco — what a cool town.

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

We ended our trip by taking in a Criss Angel show in Las Vegas.  That was my first trip Las Vegas, so we also took that time to visit the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

After traveling for a little over a month, we returned to Florida. April and May in Florida is very nice. Warm days, cool waters, and almost no crowds. On nice days, I fished and golfed as much as I could.

Canoe

Right outside our door in Florida

On cool or rainy days, I continued to work on my new software project (aMemoryJog). I wanted to have a solid business plan and software prototype before summer and I was able to accomplish that.

Summer 2013

By the start of Summer, our condo was fully rented for the season so we jetted off on our next adventure. We decided to spend some time with our boys in Colorado, then visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. We saw more mountains, wildlife, lakes, streams, geysers, hot springs and mudpots than you can imagine (I almost said “than you can shake a stick at” but I visualized Lynn rolling her eyes as she read it).

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Old Barn on Morman Row

Old Barn on Morman Row

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

We then made our way to Oregon — starting in central Oregon and stopping to see Crater Lake — simply spectacular. Then we headed to the coast (Cannon Beach) — we had spent a weekend here when our boys were really young, but this time we spent a week really exploring this area.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Haystack Rock -- Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock  – Cannon Beach

Oregon Coast - My favorite picture

Oregon Coast

Our journey then took us to Washington.  We started in Seabrook, Washington, a town fashioned after the movie “The Truman Show”. It is an idyllic town, reminding me of Seaside, Florida.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Lynn and I briefly lived in Seattle Washington when our kids were young but never spent a full summer there. Most of you know that Seattle is miserable during the winter, autumn and spring — it rains constantly. The summer, however, is another story. So we visited the Olympic National Park then headed for Seattle for a couple of weeks. It was spectacular. We discovered a new found appreciation for Seattle’s beauty.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Space Needle

Space Needle

Seatle

Seattle

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

We then journeyed to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  There we explored the city and saw Butchart Gardens — probably the most beautiful gardens we had seen. Victoria is a cool town with lots of history. We learned more about Canada than we ever did in school.

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Leaving Victoria, we headed for a 3 week trip to Vancouver, British Columbia and Whistler. Vancouver is a really cool town, probably one of the coolest towns I’ve ever visited. It is trendy, has lots of great restaurants, is a waterfront community, and has tons of biking and hiking trails. The city looks similar to Hong Kong, with high rise apartments and condos on each block. Stanley Park is an incredible park — reminds me of Central Park in New York.

Vancouver Canada

Vancouver BC Canada

Whistler Canada

Whistler BC Canada

It was also here that I started experimenting with meditation. It really helps calm the mind, I highly recommend it if you have not tried it. I also accomplished a challenging hike called “The Grind“.  It is a 2,800 foot mountain climb that is nicknamed “Nature’s StairMaster“.  I summited in just over 1.5 hours and found a new confidence by completing it.  After finishing this hike, I pledged to train for a 50-mile bike ride upon our return to Florida.

Warning: Not for Wimps!

Warning: Not for Wimps!

The final leg of our Summer trip took us to Alaska. We spent 2 weeks cruising Alaska and visiting Mount McKinley. We visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and then onto a land tour in Denali National Park. During this time, we visited breweries, took a helicopter ride up to mountain glacier, rode a dog sled across a glacier, and visited the iconic Glacier Bay — watching glaciers as they crashed into the sea.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Landscapes

Alaska Landscapes

Fall 2013

Returning from over 3 months of Summer travel, we made our way back to Florida.  This was mid-August and the weather was hot and humid.  There were still crowds during some weeks and some weeks were quiet.  It was a great time to catch up with our Florida friends, share dinners and play golf.

Rosemary Beach, Florida

Rosemary Beach, Florida

At the same time, I decided to begin working on my next challenge — training for a half century bike ride (50 miles).   After 6 weeks of training, I accomplished my goal and lost 1o pounds during the process. I also became passionate about bike riding and am still riding each week.

IMG_0724

Training for a Half Century

October and November were more mild with some really beautiful days. We spent weekends watching Bama kick butt in the SEC (until Auburn humbled us) and with the usual ups and downs of watching Dallas Cowboys football. Our boys came to Florida for Fall break and we spent Thanksgiving with the Miller family. My brother and his wife graciously had the entire family over for an incredible meal. Thanks Chris and Danielle!

Also during this time, I committed myself to finishing the first phase of my new software project and before we left for our next set of travels, I had accomplished that goal and blogged about it in early December.

End of 2013

We are spending December and January in Colorado with our boys. In fact, we rented a place in Fort Collins so that we can spend more time there in 2014. It is surprising how much we missed Colorado since we moved almost 2 years ago. Upon returning, we’ve been eating in our favorite restaurants, biking the Fort Collins trails and learning our way around the city. We plan to get some ski days in during January.

Our journey to Colorado started rough. We decided to leave a day early because there was a huge snow storm coming to Arkansas and Oklahoma.  On our first day, our car broke down in Birmingham, so we spent 2 days waiting for parts and getting it fixed. On the third day we made our way to Arkansas where it started sleeting. The next day was spent trudging through the snow storm, slowly making our way through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. White knuckle driving for a day, but we made it through the storm the next day and it was smooth sailing after that.

As I sit writing this blog, it is December 22.  The snow is falling outside, it is cold, and the boys, Lynn and I will be having dinner together tonight followed by playing board games.  What a wonderful life.

Glaciers and Dog Sleds in Alaska

Visiting Alaska – The Final American Frontier

Alaska has been on the bucket list for a while now so we took an incredibly calm Norwegian Sun cruise from Vancouver to Alaska via the inner passage.

Norwegian Sun

Norwegian Sun

Our 11 day route took us to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and then onto a land tour in Denali National Park.  We are not really cruisers but we may change our minds after this trip.  The cruise had great food, great shows and incredible views.

Our Alaskan route

Our Alaskan route

If you would like to see a slideshow of this trip, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_Alaska.asp

Ketchikan

After 2 days of sailing, we arrived at Ketchikan, a small town with a population of 8,000 and aptly named the “Salmon Capital of the World”. While we were there, we saw more salmon coming into the bay than I have ever seen — they lined the top of the water.

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

Ketchikan was home to a thriving Native American population in the early days and boasts more totem poles than anywhere in North America.  There is still a small population of Native Americans  (just under 17%) living here and they are very proud people with a strong heritage. When we visited, we witnessed a tribal dance and they allowed me to participate.

Steve attempting a tribal dance

Steve attempting a tribal dance

I was struck by the beautiful totem poles and art pieces. We attended a presentation by one of the artisans that continue to create totem poles for other towns.

Our final excursion here was to attend a lumberjack show.  OK, it sounds corny (and parts of it were), but these guys are great athletes with skill and agility.

Lumberjacks

Lumberjacks

Juneau

In Juneau, we had an incredible excursion where we took a helicopter up to the top of a glacier where dog sleds were awaiting our arrival. The ride up was breathtaking, with incredible 360 degree views.

Once we landed, we met the friendly Alaskan huskies before embarking on a several mile ride upon the glacier in the dog sled. Many of these dogs have participated in the Iditarod, a yearly 1,024 mile dog sled adventure across Alaska. You may notice that many of the dogs look more like muts than Siberian Huskies. That is true, they are mixed but are chosen for speed and endurance.

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Our final excursion in Juneau was to visit the Alaska Brewery, home of the best Amber Ale I’ve ever had.

Alaska Brewing

Alaska Brewing

Skagway

In Skagway, we met a team that participates in the Iditarod and petted new Alaskan Husky puppies.

DSC_0104 DSC_0111

At this site, they had a room that was refrigerated to 40 degrees below zero to show how it might feel if in the Alaskan wilderness. We threw on big coats and hung out for about 5 minutes in the brutally cold room.  Invigorating!

Lynn in 40 degrees below cold

Lynn in 40 degrees below cold

We also took a chance at panning for gold. Altogether Lynn and I found about $20 worth of gold.

Panning for gold

Panning for gold

Panning for gold

Panning for gold

Our final excursion was a photographer’s tour where we ventured into Canada to take some cool landscape pictures.

Landscapes

Landscapes

Landscapes

Landscapes

Landscapes

Landscapes

Landscapes

Landscapes

Glaciers in Glacier Bay

The most thrilling part of the cruise was visiting the incredible glaciers. Our captain was incredible, he was able to maneuver the ship so that everyone could get great pictures of each glacier. We saw all the glaciers in Glacier Bay and woke the next day to Humboldt Glacier. We hung out at each  glacier for about an hour, saw the glaciers crumbling into the sea with grandiose sounds that reminded me of thunder.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Humboldt Glacier

Humboldt Glacier

Humboldt Glacier

Humboldt Glacier

Humboldt Glacier

Humboldt Glacier

Humboldt Glacier

Humboldt Glacier

Denali Land Tour

After leaving the cruise ship, we went straight into a 4 day land tour where we visited Anchorage, Denali National Park, and Talkeetna. Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska with a population of about 300,000. It felt like a small town that was heavily dependent on tourism.

Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska

At Denali National Park, we participated in a 7 hour tour of the park where we saw caribou, moose, grizzly bears, and many birds of prey. The highlight for us was seeing Mount McKinley, the largest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet. The guide said that only 30% of the people that visit Denali get a good view of McKinley because of the clouds. We were lucky to be in that 30%, as we enjoyed great views.

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley

Moose antlers are heavy!

Moose antlers are heavy!

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

On our way back to Anchorage, we rode the train to a town called Talkeetna. The TV show “Northern  Exposure” was modeled after this town but was actually filmed in Roslyn Washington. Their claim to fame is that they elected a cat mayor of the town 15 years ago and we were able to visit where he hangs out in the gift shop. They like him because he never raises taxes and lets government stay out of people’s lives. Hmm, he must be a republican!

Train to Talkeetna

Train to Talkeetna

The Mayor

The Mayor

Talkeetna

Talkeetna

Talkeetna

Talkeetna

Well that concludes our 3 month summer vacation. We are now returning to Florida to enjoy the rest of the summer, the fall, and then hunker down for the winter. I hope you enjoyed these posts.

Cool Things To Do in Victoria, BC, Canada

Victoria British Columbia and Butchart Gardens

We had only 2 days to spend in Victoria, Canada before heading to Vancouver, BC so we wanted to ensure we hit the hot spots during our short stay.  We’ve found the best way to get acclimated to a new city is to do a city tour, so we try to do that on the first day.  If they have a land/water tour (duck or hippo boat tours), even better.   Once you’ve done a city tour, you then know where all the hot spots are and how to get to them on your own.

We did that during our visit to Victoria, BC, here are the 9 hot spots we hit while in Victoria:

  1. Hippo Land/Water tour
  2. Butchart Gardens
  3. Royal BC Museum
  4. Parliament buildings
  5. Fan Tam Alley in Chinatown
  6. Craigdarroch Castle
  7. Spinnaker Pub
  8. Fisherman’s Wharf
  9. Beacon Hill Park

For a slideshow of our trip, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_Canada_Victoria.asp.

Hippo Land / Water Tour

These land/water tours are always fun. Whether it be a “duck”, “hippo”, or any other creative acronym the marketing team comes up with, it is still a land/water tour and a lot of fun. I like the combination because  they take you through the town and show you the sites then plunge into the water to give you a different perspective from the harbor.

We’ve done several now and found that not all land / water tours are alike.  Sometimes they are party-like, with the guide playing fun theme songs as he/she cracks jokes and dresses up in costumes to match the playful banter.  The one we did in Seattle was like that and it was probably the most fun.

We’ve now done two in Canada (one in Halifax and this one in Victoria).  In both cases, they are a little more subdued and business-like.  Neither cracked as many jokes, dressed up in costume or played fun music.  But they did both give you a valuable tour of the city and you left with a good sense of how the city is laid out and where to go.  Maybe our Canadian friends are little more uptight, eh?

IMG_0270

Hippo: Land/Water tour

Hippo: Land/Water tour

From the Hippo tour

From the Hippo tour

Water taxis are $5 per trip

Water taxis are $5 per trip

From the Hippo tour

From the Hippo tour

Butchart Gardens

If you are crunched for time, this one is a must-see.  It is about 20 miles outside of the city so you need a car or arrange  for a guided tour that will pick up/return you back to your hotel.   You will probably spend a couple of hours here, more if you are really knowledgeable about plants and flowers.   You can even see it at night, as they light up the gardens.  We did not get a chance to do that but I wish we had.

Butchart is separated into different sets of gardens (Italian Garden, Japanese Garden, Sunken Garden, etc.).  Our favorite was the Sunken Garden. It was built in an old limestone quarry and is simply stunning (first picture below).  Its views show the expanse of flowers, trees and plants.   I am not a big garden-kind-of-guy but I really enjoyed it.

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

DSC_0114

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Royal BC Museum

You can spend several hours in this museum.  When we were there, they had an exhibit about the antarctic explorers that raced to be the first to claim a visit to the South Pole.   Two teams headed for the South Pole, one from Britain and the other from a Norwegian team.  It tells their story via an exhibit and IMAX movie.

Additionally, it has a Natural History gallery, First People (Aboriginal) gallery, and a Modern History gallery that shows what the city of Victoria looked like in the past.  I especially enjoyed the First People gallery, as it had totem poles, tools made by the Aboriginals, and a lot about their history.  I found their fishing techniques very interesting.

Royal BC Museum

Royal BC Museum

Royal BC Museum

Royal BC Museum

Parliament Buildings

Each hour they will allow you to tour for free.  It was interesting to see how they govern and learn more about how their style of government is similar yet different from ours in the USA.

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Fan Tam Alley in Chinatown

Chinatown is only 2 blocks long, so it is a small section of town.  It offers lots of Chinese markets and eateries.  The most famous area is the Fan Tam Alley that boasts to be the narrowest street in Canada.  To me, it just looks like an alley, but hey, whatever floats their boat!

Narrowest street in Canada

Narrowest street in Canada

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle was completed in 1890 for Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. This Victorian mansion, built on a hill overlooking the City of Victoria bragged to Western Canada that this was a rich and important family.

Robert died in 1889, before the home was completed, leaving the estate to his wife Joan who lived in the Castle until her death in 1908.  As you might imagine, no expense was spared in this house. You will see incredible woodwork, exquisite stained glass windows, and Victorian era Furnishings.

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Spinnaker Pub

This is the oldest pub in Canada and offers a good variety of craft brewed ales.  We actually stayed in their B&B, so we could walk to the brewery very quickly. They offered a very nice Hefeweizen that we really enjoyed.  Unfortunately,I did not take any pictures of the pub.

Fisherman’s Wharf

The Wharf is a pretty small area but offers up views of the marina, floating homes, and boasts the best “fish ‘n chips’ in Victoria at Barb’s Fish and Chips.

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

Beacon Hill Park

This is best known for the peacocks that roam the park and the kid’s petting zoo with about any animal a kid would like to see.  It also has totem poles and flows out to scenic views of the ocean.  As I was taking this picture of the peacock, it kept coming closer to me.   I am not sure if it wanted to attack me, wanted me to feed it, or just wanted me to her boyfriend.

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill

Rediscovering Cannon Beach and the Oregon Coast

Cannon Beach is a Great Getaway

In April 1998, we were living in Seattle Washington and vacationed for a week in Cannon Beach — an Oregon coastal town.  Our boys were 3 and 5 years old and they have no memory of that trip.  I was surprised at how much we had forgotten about the trip.  We remembered the iconic Haystack Rock but had forgotten how the city looked.

Haystack Rock

Below are pictures of Haystack Rock, the one taken this week and the one I took back in 1998.  I have a better camera now and hopefully my photography skills have improved over time.

Note: See a slideshow of our trip here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_OR_OregonCoast.asp

Haystack Rock -- Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock — Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock - Taken in 1998

Haystack Rock – Taken in 1998

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is a cool little coastal town.  It has a few micro-breweries, kite and surf shops, and good restaurants.  The weather was about 65 – 70 degrees, a little too cool to take a dip in the ocean without a wetsuit, but it has miles of hikes and beachfront walking area that we took full advantage of.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach – This guy tried for 30 minutes to get airborne.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

We rented a cool little house called “The Farmhouse“.  It was an old home that had been totally renovated.  It reminded me of my grandmothers home but it had a beautiful deck, great decor and a cool vibe.  We really loved it.

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Scenic Oregon Coast

We drove the Oregon Coast, from Cannon Beach to Newport, to visit the Newport Aquarium.  We snapped some nice pictures of the coast along the way.

IMG_004

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast - My favorite picture

Oregon Coast – My favorite picture

Oregon Coast - The Octopus tree

Oregon Coast – The Octopus tree

Oregon Light Houses

We also visited several lighthouses along the way.

Oregon Aquarium

The aquarium reminded me a bit of the one we visited in Baltimore many years ago.  It was well organized and had lots to view. We sat in on a feeding of Oregon sea otters, it was fun to learn more about their habitat.

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Muscle and Chrome Show

On Saturday, we caught a car show called the “Muscle and Chrome show“.  It featured some really cool vintage cars and a lot of my oldest son’s favorite car, the Ford Mustang.

By the way, did you know it is against the law to pump your own gas in Oregon?  No kidding.  We drove up to our first gas station in Oregon, I jumped out to start the pump and got a tongue lashing from the attendant who told me about the law.   I got used to the full service gas stations after a week or so but I still find it very inconvenient.  It is so much faster to do it yourself and most times they don’t wash your windshield of which I always do.

Take a Ride with an Iguana

I will leave you with one final picture. We saw this taxi parked down the road from where we were staying. It is hilarious! Would you pay a cab fare to ride in the chair upon the roof? The hood ornament is also a nice touch.

Tricked out Cabby

Tricked out Cabby