Whistler Days 2&3

WHistlerdays 2&3

Saturday was our second day in Whistler and also our busiest day. We woke up earlier than usual in order to drive out to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. We had run into a couple when we did the Peak 2 Peak Gondola trip that suggested we make the 40 minute drive out to the Joffres Lakes to go hiking. They also suggested that we get to the park before 9am because the small parking lot fills up crazy quickly with hikers and campers.

We got there a little after 9 and found parking easily. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park consists of three lakes: Lower Joffre Lake, Middle Joffre Lake, and Upper Joffre Lake. Each of the lakes are glacier fed and a beautiful turquoise color. The walk from the parking lot to Lower Joffre Lake only took about 5 minutes and was a very easy, mostly downhill, walk. There is a nice viewpoint on Lower Joffre Lake and you can see the lake and mountains in the distance.

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My brother Tyler and I then continued on to make the long, uphill trek, to Middle Joffre Lake. The hike to Middle and Upper Joffre lakes is very difficult but well worth it, as you have a fantastic view of the mountains, icefields, and rushing streams that come from the Matier Glacier. From the parking lot to Middle Joffre Lake, it is a 5km, or 3 mile, rocky, steep route up the mountain. And man, was it a difficult hike. There were more than a few moments when I contemplated turning around and going back down the mountain but I stuck it out (with multiple breaks to catch my breath and drink some water) and made it up to Middle Joffre Lake.

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Despite the difficult hike, I’m very happy that I continued to hike up the mountain because the view of Middle Joffre Lake was spectacular. Because the lake was created by a melting glacier, the lake water is a pristine turquoise color. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

Because the water comes directly from a glacier and is up in a mountain you could say that the water is “pretty cold.” That didn’t stop my brother from doing a backflip or two off of a fallen log in the water. He came out of the water shivering but he drew a little crowd that was impressed with his backflip so it was totally worth it.

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We hung out looking at the lake and taking photos for a bit and then decided to make our way down the mountain. It had taken us about an hour and 10 minutes to make it up the mountain, (supposedly it was supposed to take 3-3 and a half hours to make it up to Upper Lake?!) and it only took us about 35 minutes to make it down the mountain. On our way down, we passed hiker after hiker unlike our trip up where we only saw one other group going up the mountain.

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After we got back to Whistler, we were scheduled to go ziplining. Our tour with Ziptrek Eco Tours began at 4:10. We had signed up to do the Eagle Tour, a tour designed for individuals who had previously ziplined (we have ziplined before in both Hawaii and Mexico) so this sounded like the perfect trip for us. The trip consisted of 5 lines, the first being the longest.

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Our two guides were Sarah and Colton. Sarah was only 21 and originally from Australia. She had been in Whistler for about a year and a half working in the resort village. Colton was originally from Ontario. He had been working for Ziptrek for about three months and was planning on staying in Whistler during the winter so that he could try-out for the Paralympic Snowboarding Team. He had lost his leg from under the knee about 3 years ago in an accident. Both of our guides were super energetic and you could easily tell that they loved living in Whistler and working in the village.

I absolutely loved ziplining in Hawaii and Mexico, and therefore it was on my list of must-do’s on our vacation. While I don’t necessarily love heights, I don’t hate them, and I enjoy the rush that you get from ziplining. It is the closest feeling to really flying that I will probably ever get (besides flying in a plane) and it is such a fun experience once you get over the initial step off the platform and into the air. If you ever get the chance to go ziplining, I highly suggest you take it!

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The next morning, we headed out to the train-wreck located in Function Junction. The story has it, that decades ago, a train derailed south of Whistler and seven train cars were left scattered about near the Cheakamus River. A new suspension bridge was recently finished in July to make it easier for tourists to make their way out to the abandoned cars. Previously, hikers had walked along the train tracks to get to the cars and that didn’t make the train drivers too happy so the bridge was put in. Over the years, the train cars have been transformed into works of art as they have been covered in graffiti. They have also been transformed into a bike park as there are wooden ramps built around the cars and on top of them. It’s kind of a crazy site.

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You are able to climb in a few of the abandoned cars as well as climb on top of them. I did both. I was kind of nervous to climb on top of the car, but it was kind of cool to climb up the ladder and walk around on top of the car. Lots of little kids and adults alike had also climbed on top of the cars to explore.

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After exploring the trainwreck, we left Whistler and made the 4 and a half hour car ride south back down to Seattle. We plan on going out to Mount Rainier tomorrow!  

Seattle Day 2

SEattle. Vancouver.Whistler

Day two in Seattle began at about 8:30 am. After a quick breakfast upstairs in the hotel lounge, we found ourselves walking back up to Pike Place Market. The market was nearly unrecognizable from the night before. Vendors had filled the previously empty stalls that line the cobblestone streets of the market. Tourists and natives to Seattle littered the streets and inside market area snapping pictures, buying fresh fish and produce, and taking in the sights and smells.

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Of all the stalls we walked by, my favorites were those that housed the fresh flowers. Apart from consisting of so many amazing different colors and types of flowers, they also smelled fantastic! (Unlike the fresh fish stalls which had a very different odor to them…) If we weren’t leaving Seattle tomorrow morning I would have contemplated buying a bouquet to keep in the hotel room. They were that pretty!

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A staple of the Pike Place Market is the famous Gum Wall. After a little searching, we found the Gum Wall in an alley below the market. The walls were covered in different colored gum. Some was just a gob on the wall while other people had taken the time to stretch their gum out on the walls. It was pretty gross but also cool at the same time. I was also sure to add my own piece of gum to the wall.

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While walking through the market, we also happened to pass the “original” Starbucks that we had stopped in the night before. And wow are we lucky that we stopped in last night when the line only went two people outside the door! Today, the line went outside the door and almost down the entire block that the Starbucks sat on. There was no way that we would have waited in line to make it into the shop today. Instead we snapped a few photos out front and moved on.

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After walking through the market again, we decided to make the trek north towards the Space Needle. We still had not decided whether or not we were going to actually go up in the Space Needle as we had read many conflicting reviews on whether or not it was worth the price and the wait. When we got there, we saw the winding line that was not only inside the Space Needle but also outside. Needless to say, we made the decision to pass on going up and just snapped a few pictures instead.

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Our next destination was the Space Needle’s close neighbor, the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. This museum showcases the work of glassblower and designer Dale Chihuly. The exhibit was both indoor and outdoor and boasted glass of different shapes and vibrant colors. My favorite exhibit was the first one we walked into. It was a dark room with pink, white, and grey blown glass. Lights were set underneath the glass to give it a glow-stick light appearance. Super cool. There were also sculptures outside in the gardens which were also pretty neat. My only wonder though is what they do with the glass outside if it happens to rain or better yet, hail. I guess this is a question I’ll never know the answer to.

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It was time to grab a quick lunch after the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum so we headed across the street to the Subway located in the KOMO Plaza. This is important. Why might you ask? Well, the KOMO Plaza just so happens to be one of the locations that Grey’s Anatomy is shot at. It is a local television studio that Grey’s Anatomy calls home for scenes that involve Grey Sloan Memorial’s helipad shots and some outside shots of the hospital as well. The helipad is easily recognizable as the one from the TV series and they even have SGH permanently etched onto the TV station’s helipad today.

After lunch we visited the EMP Museum, or the Experience Music Project Museum. This museum hosts exhibits devoted to music, sci-fi and horror movies, pop-culture. I had read good reviews of the museum and was excited to go see what all the hype was about. After walking through each exhibit though, I was sadly disappointed by what I saw or rather didn’t see. While there was a lot to look at, it was not what I expected it to be. The museum boasted many science fiction and horror movie props, had a large wing dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, an exploratory music lab aimed at little kids making as much noise as they could at once, and a wearable art exhibit that seemed like the odd man out to everything else in the museum. To me, the best part was seeing Sirius Black’s costume from the Harry Potter movies and the costumes from the Princess Bride. If you are planning on visiting Seattle any time soon, I would advise you to skip the EMP Museum.

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On our way back from the Space Needle area, we walked through the Olympic Sculpture Park. While the park itself did not seem to contain as many sculptures as I had thought it would, the view of the ocean was incredible and not something you want to skip.

Later in the evening, I lived the life of Derek Shepherd and rode the ferry boat from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The ferry boat ride lasted about 35 minutes and had great views of both the Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier off in the distance. When we got to Bainbridge Island, we headed to their cute little downtown area by foot to find a restaurant for dinner. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant, Isla Bonita, just a short walk away from the ferry boat docking area. After dinner, we headed back to the dock to catch the boat back to Seattle. Taking the ferry  to Bainbridge Island was a great low-cost option that boasts great views of Seattle instead of taking a more expensive tour by boat. Highly suggest taking the ferry instead of a boat tour. Plus, Bainbridge Island is a very pretty escape from the busy streets of Seattle.

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Over the course of the day, we walked about 10 miles. My Fitbit says 22,788 steps. Wow. A very exhausting day, but we fit a ton of what we wanted to see in so most definitely worth each and every step. Tomorrow we head off bright and early to cross the border and make our way to Vancouver, Canada!

Seattle Day 1

Seattle Day 1

We arrived in Seattle, Washington at about 5:30 pm Seattle time (so 7:30 pm Wisconsin time). I was amazed by all the mountains we saw from the plane on the way in. The trip from Sea-Tac to our hotel, the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, took about 30 minutes by taxi. Along the way, we passed Centurylink Field and Safeco Field, home to the Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, and Seattle Sounders FC.

After settling in at the hotel, we made our way by foot to the lakefront piers to find dinner and were able to sit outside and watch the sun set. The glare coming off of the water was intense, but it was so cool to watch the ferry boats go back and forth between Seattle’s piers and nearby Bainbridge Island. One of my things to do while we are here is take a ferry to Bainbridge Island and back. The plan is to do so next weekend when we are back in Seattle.

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After dinner, it was time to do some exploring. Our hotel is only a few short blocks away from Pike Place Market, and while it was about 8:30 and the market was long closed, we took a walk through anyways.

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Before coming to Seattle I had no idea how hilly the city really was. To get up to the market from the pier area, you have to climb about a block’s worth of stairs. Kinda crazy, but most definitely worth the climb.

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When we reached the top, all of the stalls were empty, but it was fun to walk through the deserted alleyways and corridors. Many other tourists were out doing the same thing. Neon lights lit up the streets and it was a fun, artsy atmosphere to be in.

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We were strolling through the cobblestone streets when I turned to my right and realized we had made our way to the “original” Starbucks. I say “original” because the story is that the first Starbucks ever built has since been torn down and this one in Pike Place Market is the next oldest to the original-original and therefore has been given the name the “Original” Starbucks.

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Anyways, I had read that the lines are incredibly long during the daytime and go out the door and down the block so many people say to stop for a picture and move on. We happened upon the Starbucks at the perfect time because the line only went to the door on the inside. My aunt is a Starbucks fanatic and requested that we stop to get her a mug while in Seattle so this was the perfect time to stop in.

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We waited in line and made our way into the store. Different cups, mugs, and tumblers lined one wall while baristas manned the counter on the other side of the store. Because I love a good tall tumbler for all the water I drink, I decided to buy one. I mean, how could I pass up a tumbler from the original Starbucks? When checking out, I handed over my Starbucks gift card to the barista and he mentioned how cool my Los Angeles gift card was. I told him how I had gotten from Ellen when I attended one of her shows and he proceeded to yell to the barista next to him, “Look how cool this card is! She got it from Ellen when she went to the Ellen show!! I LOVE Ellen! Is it weird that I would marry her if I could? No? I don’t really care anyways if its weird. She should run for president!” This interaction was incredible. The baristas at the “original” Starbucks are hilarious, energetic, and clearly love what they do. This interaction wasn’t the only cool thing to happen while in the store. We also happened to be the last customers let into the store for the night which is kind of awesome to be able to say we closed the “original” Starbucks.

After Starbucks, we continued our walk. We were on a mission to find a small deli or supermarket to buy some water and I wanted to get a few apples for the next few days. We continued to walk along and suddenly saw a large crowd gathered a few streets down as well as the sounds of a marching band playing. I convinced my family to keep on walking so we went to check it out.

It turns out that the Seafair Parade was going on. Crowds of people lined the street taking in the sights and sounds of the parade. Because it was about 9:30 at night, everything was lit up in the parade from the marching bands, to the floats and performers. We stayed to watch for a bit and then went to find a supermarket.

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When we arrived back in our room, we found a note and some cookies laid out in front of the TV. Someone had come by to drop off some extra towels and a rollaway bed and had spotted my Wisconsin Badger water bottle in my backpack. They left the cutest little note mentioning seeing the water bottle and saying “Go Badgers!” Needless to say, day one of Seattle was a success!

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I can’t wait to see what we get ourselves into tomorrow! I’m not sure what my plan is blog wise, if I will be posting daily during the trip or not, but today was so great that I just had to share what we got up to!

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