Our road trip this week took us out of Canada, south to Seattle and Port Washington. We were a bit sad.
“It’s going to take something pretty special to not seem lame after this!” I told Flea. We completely loved our time in Whistler, and had fallen in love with the place.
Driving to Washington from BC is simple enough, on paper. In reality, it took way longer than expected.
The route South skirts Vancouver (and two hours of traffic). We then got stuck at the US border, waiting almost an hour to pay $6 for an entry document. I’d naively assumed we’d sail through with our ESTAs but it wasn’t the case. We arrived in Coupeville – still 2 hours short of Port Angeles – at 9.30pm, having missed the last ferry across the bay.
Our choice was either to drive the landlocked route – meaning a six hour drive on top of the six hours we’d already spent on the road. OR we could cut our losses, book into a local hotel, and take the ferry in the morning. We opted for the pit stop, and arrived at Port Angeles a little after noon the next day, tired and fed up.
And then we saw the most picture perfect cabin, to raise our spirits.
We’d booked the 2-bedroom “rustic” cabin through Air BnB. I’m never 100% sure what to expect with these things. But – honestly – it was perfect.
Our cabin was one of around a dozen properties facing the lake front on the South Shore of Lake Sutherland. There was a shared community dock and diving board. Inside was simple and charming – Flea loved the mezzanine sleeping area, reached by a scarily high ladder!
Most of the cabins are family-owned, passed down through generations, and families come here to spend the summer, bringing boats, jet skis and inflatables. There’s a grassed area in front of the lake that’s perfect for lounging, and the lake water is so clear you can see the bottom even where it’s 50 feet deep.
Our Air BnB host arranged for his friend to deliver two kayaks, and we spent the most glorious three days here. Flea learned to dive, we took the kayaks around the lake. We swam, sunbathed and jumped off the diving board until we were exhausted, then did it all again the next day.
Flea made friends with the other children, and I took the opportunity to read some books. We both had birthdays, and celebrated by doing nothing much at all. Flea decorated a slice of cake for me, and we sang Happy Birthday, accompanied by a singing candle. What more do you need?
After three days, we packed up the car and made the drive to Seattle – this time we planned to leave early so we could be sure to catch the ferry from Kingston to Seattle, and it was a fairly simple drive.
In a change of pace, our base in Seattle was the Bacon Mansion B&B. What? You never booked a hotel before just because of the name??
The B&B was fine, but a little noisy, and breakfast was a bit lacking. For starters, there was no bacon. I know, right? Talk about getting someone’s hopes up. After the peace of Lake Sutherland, Seattle felt noisy. It definitely wasn’t my favourite place to drive in. The traffic is hectic and the roads are laid out at all sorts of angles, so we followed the wrong directions a LOT.
During our two days in Seattle, we packed in the sightseeing.
First stop was the world-famous Pike Place Market to see the famous fish throwers. It was hectic and a lot of fun. But if I’m 100% honest, I preferred the charm of the Granville Island market in Vancouver. Although it’s worth popping around the corner to see the grotesque if colourful ‘gum alley’. Yep, it’s a street where every inch is ‘decorated’ with chewed up bits of gum. Honest.
One of our favourite sights was – of course – the Space Needle. Rather disappointingly for such a major attraction, you can book tickets online but ONLY if you have access to a printer, so we had to turn up and wait to gain access. We did realise later there’s a mobile app you can use to book tickets. Having said that, we turned up at 10am and got tickets immediately with no line to speak of.
The top of the Space Needle is fun, and it’s a sort of retro-Jetsons idea of the future. We didn’t get amazing views because of the fog but there’s a Starbucks at the top, and plenty of VR apps and computers to play with, so it wasn’t like we felt cheated. After an hour or so, we made our way back down to the ground and went next door to the EMP, a museum dedicated to pop culture.
The week we visited there was a special exhibition devoted to Star Trek. It was packed with original props, sets and costumes from all the TV Series and movies. We especially loved trying out the Transporter, going through the Jeffries tunnels, and seeing the original control deck and captain’s chair from 1966.
Flea also loved the indie games exhibition sponsored by Nintendo, a change to try out a bunch of independently developed games, with quirky design and touches. As for me, I might never recover from the Sci Fi section, filled with original props from some of my favourite movies, including this… DEAD Gizmo. Sob.
After the museum we sat outside in the sunshine eating shaved ice, and Flea went on the (frankly) awesome play area that is here. There are also some stalls and shops, and Flea took the opportunity to have a caricature drawn, because she’d never experienced it before and… well, why not?
That evening, we took ourselves off to the air-conditioned comfort of Gameworks, an arcade style venue (similar to places like Dave and Buster) where you can buy a card loaded with credit and play video games. After kicking my butt comprehensively on a range of arcade classics, we dined at The Cheesecake Factory, always one of my favourite elements of a trip to the US.
After dinner, we headed back to the B&B to catch up on some sleep before the long drive to our next destination – Kelowna in the heart of British Columbia. The plan is to (sort of) make a loop from Vancouver and Whistler down the West Coast, then inland and North to British Columbia’s heartland, then back out towards Vancouver Island. Wish us luck!
Don’t miss Part 1 of our Road Trip: Vancouver and Granville Island
And Part 2 of our Road Trip: Whistler