Saturday, June 18, 2011

Eleven - Going Coastal

So I was in a beautiful small town, near Vancouver, tired from another 5 days on the road and slightly overwhelmed by new experiences after the Rockies. It was time to stay put.
I had a nice run in the morning and a cooked breakfast. Rich had told me that the drive North to Whistler surpassed even the Rockies and was only half an hour so I went to see. It didn’t, but it was nice to take it easy for a day.
I hit the bar early to get a spot to watch the game but it was packed already. This was not like the FA cup final were half the city will be cheering for the opposition. Vancouver is pretty much the only team in BC, in the only sport that counts. This is like watching England in the World Cup Final. Luckily the place has a second room and I get a seat at the bar itself. It’s also a brew pub for Howe Sound brewery so I’m not drinking Bud Light for a change.
I chat to Jamie and his wife Laura.  The place soon fills up as the atmosphere builds. Then the Bruins score. Oh well, it’s only one goal, and the Canucks are hanging in there this time. But the Bruins, and particularly their Goalie are too good. As the Canucks try desperately to get in the game they just fall further behind. I’m not too bothered. If they’d won a glorious game I’d have wished I’d gone to Vancouver, plus after hanging out in Massachussets I’d been hoping the Bruins would win the cup.
The next morning I wake up to discover they’ve been rioting in Vancouver. I see a comment that this doesn’t fit the Canadian stereotype, but as I mentioned last blog, they did it before. It seems to me that whether they’re British, American or Canadian, there’s lots of nice people, and a small number of idiots. It’s just that the idiots get more airtime, and the American idiots especially so.
I leave Squamish and really enjoy the drive South to Vancouver, there’s an incredible bay with mountains almost 360 degrees around. I’m Southbound back to the USA, and after spending my last Canadian cents at the petrol station (without buying petrol!) it’s time to cross the border.
Siiting in the queue I rehearse all the possible questions and answers which might come up. I pull forward at the hut and he asks where I reside:
“Are you lost?”
…and I’m back in the USA. Which means I’m in Washington, and that’s my 48th and last of the contiguous states. Wahoo!
I’m also in Blaine, which is the North West of the Four Corners of the USA. So I’ve done 3 of those too, with just San Ysidro remaining.
It’s decision time again. I want to hug the coast, but Seattle’s in the way, and you know me and cities. I could go inland, but it’s a very long way round to drive through a small mountain range. After the Rockies I don’t think the Cascades are going to blow me away so I risk Seattle. At 3pm the highways are already jammed so I trundle into town. There’s only one thing that draws me into the centre of Seattle, and that’s the space needle.
But next door there’s the Experience Music Project. Now this sounds worryingly like a museum, but it’s supposed to be highly interactive, and there’s exhibits on Jimmy Hendrix, Nirvana and Battlestar Galactica, so what’s not to like?
Well, all of it if you’re me. I’d rather sit down with a good stereo or movie system than wander round looking at pictures or costumes. Oh well, I gave it a try.
After the fog of New York it’s a relief to find Seattle in sunshine and I enjoy the Space Needle. I’m not on the edge of weeping (manly) tears like I was on the Icefield Parkway, but it’s a nice view across the city and bay.
The traffic’s awful so I become possibly the first person in the history of the space needle to use the mounted telescope to see if I can figure out a way to walk to Hooters. It being America, I can’t of course, so I’m forced to drive for 20 minutes to cover 1 mile, then pay five dollars to park again!
At least I can have a burger and a coke and sit out the traffic, and it’s a great location on the waterfront.
Closed for refurbishment.
So a group of young Japanese tourists and I look around glumly for somewhere else to eat. There’s only poncey restaurants serving clam chowder. (Showderrrr!)
I have a word with GPS and he suggests the Hooters in Tacoma. It’s only 30 miles straight down the interstate, but it’s going to be hell in the traffic. What to do? Well, I’ve got my supply of goodies from the Canadian petrol station to keep me going, so I chance it. (After persuading the attendant to give me my five bucks back!)
They must bunk off early in Seattle, the interstate is busy but flowing at 6.30. Maybe it’s because they’re 3 hours behind the East Coast. So I make Tacoma just after 7 and find my exit. With half a mile to go it’s not looking promising, and I wonder if GPS has lead me on another wild goose chase. But then… what’s that? A glorious orange sign! …and sweet mercy, there’s a Days Inn next door!
Boneless Chicken wings and beer, with some great music playing, fantastic. People celebrating birthdays wearing huge tin-foil hats, and a waitress who carries pints of beer on her head. The only thing missing is a game to watch. Thanks to the time zones, most games have finished by 8pm Pacific. We’re reduced to shouting at “NFL live” who don’t have a game for three months, so are explaining the intricacies of the “prevent defence”.
Friday, and I decide not to spend 8 dollars to go across the Tacoma Narrows bridge and back. Besides, it’s not as fun as the old one. I head out to the coast, finally getting an uninterrupted view of, and the chance to dip my toes into, the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach, Washington. (Coincidentally, I left the Atlantic at Long Beach Island!).
LBW wasn’t much to write home about so it’s South into Oregon. I don’t know much about Oregon, but the first few miles of coastline are stunning. I come over a rise and find a view from the cliffs to match anything I’ve seen. Miles of sandy beach curves into the distance with giant hills in the background.
I even decide to stop early and find an Inn by the beach in Manzanita. I have a run on the sand, a swim in the outdoor pool overlooking the sea, and head for the “San Dune” pub. Only to discover there’s a farmers’ market going on in the street. There’s a very hippy vibe to this town. So I decide not to eat at the pub for a change and I have a freshly bbq’d burger and a home-made cherry pie, listening to a guy from Chile play pan pipes.


  1. You should have eaten at the "Five Points Cafe", 5 mins walk from the Space Needle. Did you do both halves of the experience music project? The other half o fthe building had Sci-Fi and Muppets exhibits when I went.

    Glad you're having fun.


  2. Congrats on completing 48 states. Seattle and sunshine? That must be a first! Loved the picnic tables btw. I hope you are collecting more snaps of those as you go....

  3. Boneless chicken wings? It's little wonder those birds got caught...