Chihuly Garden & Glass 5 05-07-12

USA West Coast Road Trip Part 1

I left London at lunchtime on 30th June 2012, flying out of Heathrow, and arrived in Vancouver mid-afternoon on 30th June, it was a great feeling to just wander down the escalator with a couple of small carry-on bags, through the customs and out into Canada!

0001 Luggage I left London with on flight to Vancouver, walking on with just hand luggage for transatlantic flight felt good


The SkyTrain is right there and in about 25 mins I was walking around downtown Vancouver, heading towards the English Bay Hotel (3nghts, $325), my home for the first three nights of my trip.

View of English Bay from my English Bay Hotel window

I have a great view of English Bay from my window – oh I do love to be beside the seaside! Despite the grey (and mostly wet) weather, there’s something about the coast, any coast, that invigorates my spirit, I don’t know whether it’s something in the air or just the meeting of land and water that is affecting, but I love it!

0004 Another view of Vancouver as I wander towards Granville Island on Canada Day 2012 View of Burrard Bridge from Granville Island on Canada Day 2012

Wandering down to Granville Island on Sunday morning it seems everyone’s out jogging or cycling, Vancouver must be one of the healthiest cities around!

Canada Day celebrations went on down by the water at Canada Place, the location of ‘Digital Orca’, a 2009 sculpture by one of my favourite authors, Douglas Coupland, it is also referred to as Lego Orca or Pixel Whale due to its appearance. His first novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, was published in 1991. He’s written a number of excellent novels and among my favourites are Girlfriend In A Coma and Generation A.

Canada Day celebrations take place at Canada Place, Vancouver, by the 'Digital Orca' sculpture by Douglas Coupland

I only spent a few days in Vancouver and hadn’t quite got in sync with the time zone yet, but there was one advantage to being wide awake by 5am, gave me a chance to watch the Tour de France, which was shown live on Canadian tv, with a bit of brekkie.

I took a bus up to Lynn Canyon for a bit of a wander and to cross the suspension bridge, it rained most of the time, which I believe for this part of the world is not unusual…


Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Downtown Vancouver in the rain, pub time Chevron gas station on the water for boats and seaplanes to fill up at, completely forgot I'd seen this when viewing similar in Veitnam 10mths later! View of Vancouver from Stanley Park, the 3rd largest park in North America Some totem poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver Steam powered clock in Gastown, Vancouver


I wandered round part of Stanley Park, the 3rd largest in North America, a huge space enjoyed by many of the locals. Back in town I visit the famous steam powered clock in Gastown and due to continuous drizzle have a few beers and a burger in a local pub…

Big fat can of Molson, gotta try the local brew. You can't buy alcohol in supermarkets in Vancouver so they have off-licences which do great business, passing them in the morn you see tramps waiting for them opening

There’s no booze sold in supermarkets here, it’s all from off-licences and it was noticeable that some of the less well off locals would gather outside waiting for the offy to open in the morning. Be rude not to partake in some of the local brew so I picked up some big fat cans of Molson – 710mls of chilled beer :-).

To travel from Vancouver to Seattle I visit the bus station to sort out a ticket for the following day. The journey was enjoyable and gave me good views of the country, I was disappointed to discover that the US border patrol bods are just as unsmiling on land crossings as they are in airports.. I fought the urge to tickle them to see if I could get a smile.. but it was relatively straight forward for us to pass through in half an hour or so.

Having got a bus from Vancouver to Seattle and dealt with the border crossing here's the Space Needle behind my hotel, Inn at Queen Ann ($281 3nght)




Home for next three nights is the Inn at Queen Ann (3nghts, $281). Close to the Space Needle, Experience Music Project Museum and Key Arena, former home of the Seattle SuperSonics NBA team before they were relocated, in 2008, to Oklahoma City, and being renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder.

0020 Underneath the Space Needle, Seattle

Experience Music Project Museum, Seattle - EMP’s futuristic Frank O. Gehry designed building is constructed of over 21,000 aluminum and stainless steel shingles and 280 steel ribs

The Experience Music Project building is pretty spectacular, constructed of over 21,000 aluminium and stainless steel shingles and 280 steel ribs. When I visited there was an interesting AC/DC exhibition as well as stuff covering local musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.

Independence Day, the Seattle Mariners are playing at home, so I figure it’s worth wandering downtown to see if there are tickets available. I was surprised how empty the place was and got a decent seat to watch the game against the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle lost and are seen as perennial losers, one of only two teams never to have appeared in a World Series (the other being the Washington Nationals).

CenturyLink Field home of Seattle Seahawks - it's an easy stroll from town centre down to the sport stadiums complex Next to CenturyLink is Safeco Field, home of Seattle Mariners, was surprised it was so easy to just turn up and get ticket for 4th July game Good place to watch Mariners v Orioles from, as recommended by counter staff


Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, is right next door to CenturyLink Field where the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and Seattle Sounders (MLS) play their home games. In the 2013/14 Superbowl winning season the Seahawks’ crowd twice broke the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd at an outdoor stadium.


Incredibly steep hill to climb up to get to Kerry Park View from top after making the climb towards Kerry Park The classic view from Kerry Park of Seattle skyline, with the Space Needle and, in the distance, Mount Rainier


Kerry Park is where you get the classic view of the Seattle skyline with the Space Needle, and occasionally Mount Ranier in the background. But wow! The climb up here is the steepest road I think I’ve ever walked, it felt steeper than any I came across in San Francisco. Whilst there a young couple were having some wedding photos taken with the skyline in the background, I’m sure it’s a regular spot for such photos.


Chihuly Garden & Glass 1 - this was one of the most beautiful and spectacular art exhibitions I've seen Chihuly Garden & Glass 2 Chihuly Garden & Glass 3


A week into my trip and I’ve visited one of the most amazing art galleries/installations at Chihuly Garden & Glass, at the time I didn’t realise that it only opened on 21st May 2012. The indoor exhibitions using glass and artificial light are spectacular and lead through to a glasshouse containing among other sculptures some amazing glass chandeliers and make use of natural light to show them off. From the glasshouse the exhibition continues outside in the gardens with some monumental glass sculptures integrated with trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses and other plants.


Chihuly Garden & Glass 4 Chihuly Garden & Glass 5 Chihuly Garden & Glass 6


Dale Chihuly, the glass sculptor responsible for the exhibition was born in 1941 in nearby Tacoma, WA, and is famous for, among other things, creating the glass flower sculpture that adorns the Bellagio lobby ceiling in Las Vegas.


Cool reflection of Space Needle at Chihuly Garden & Glass
Cool reflection of Space Needle at Chihuly Garden & Glass

Chihuly Garden & Glass 7 Chihuly Garden & Glass 10 Chihuly Garden & Glass 12

After wandering round Chihuly Garden & Glass there was a bit of queuing for the lift up the Space Needle. It was worth the wait for the excellent views though.


0043 View of my hotel from the Space Needle 0045 Wider view from the Space Needle with Kerry Park at the centre 0047 CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field with the imposing snowy peak of Mt Ranier in the distance, viewed from the Space Needle


I did some shopping at the wonderful REI store and picked up some quality clothing from the Columbia store downtown. My first ride was picked up from a downtown hotel and I spent the night at Marco Polo Motel (1nght, $76) on the outskirts of town before hitting the road in the morning.

0053 Blurry shot of purchases made in Patagonia shop and wonderful REI in Seattle0052 Stuff to pack before picking up a car in downtown Seattle 2moz

0049 Some quality beer0054 My first chariot of the journey, staying at Marco Polo Motel ($76) a few miles further out of Seattle to make for a quicker getaway in the morn. Unfortunately missed beer festival which started 2day

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *