Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Seaview Resort in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island

You can’t believe what you read on the internet. When I research our trips, I “vector” our choices. I take a look at them on TripAdvisor, then I take a look at them on Google, then I might look at them on Google Earth. It all matters.

The Seaview Resort is not a resort, or at least not what I think of as a resort. It is 7 cabins, and most often on TripAdvisor, they are referred to as “tiny.” By reading the description of each cabin carefully, and by reserving early, we got the cabin we felt might be right for us, and it is.

The Seaview resort is located in the midst of a residential neighborhood, and right on the beach, not across the street from the beach. We have Cabin #1, and there are Irises in bloom in back where we park, and lavender growing in the garden next to it. It has a fully stocked kitchen, and a tiny living room with a couch and a tiny dining table with two chairs. I pulled in one of the the lounge chairs from the deck when AdventureMan grabbed the sofa for his nap.

You can look out the big sliding glass doors, or sit on your deck, or sit in the outside lounge chairs, or the seats around the beach fire-pit, or in the boat. You have the run of the resort. There is a large family having a reunion here, and another family in another cabin. Honestly, I can’t imagine more than two people in a cabin, but they claim to sleep four, and I can imagine four people who really get along could squeeze in and be OK as long as it doesn’t rain.

We love this place. It is private, and we like private. We can watch the water to our hearts content. We can watch the light change on the mountains. I can write up some blog entries – the WiFi works great. We are happy.

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And here is the icing on the cake:

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May 12, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Hotels, Living Conditions, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Shady Rest Restaurant in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island

It was lunch time in Qualicum Beach. We knew we wanted a view of the water, and we wanted some choices.

The Shady Rest appeared to have the view situation all locked up, but what about choice? We took a look at the menu posted outside, and we knew we were going to be fine. There was a wide variety.

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We had a lovely table outside, with a view from north to south of the beach, the sea and the mountains. The weather was warm, barely a cloud in the sky.

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AdventureMan ordered the Salmon Chowder and a Spinach Salad, I ordered a pretzel crusted cod because I have never heard of such a thing before. One bite, and I was glad I did. It was a WOW. In fact, I was enjoying my bites so much I almost forgot to take a photo.

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A group of Chinese tourists came in. We always have a lot of sympathy for people who are traveling in lands where they are not fluent in the language. This group had done some really smart things. They had photos on their smart phones of food they have tried and liked. They already had some idea of things they did not like, like they did not like salmon. Even with the language problem, they ended up with food they liked, because they had gone to some trouble to be able to know how to tell the waitress what they wanted. (Fish (Halibut) and chips, Clam Chowder, salad, oyster po’boy and I couldn’t see what else.)

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After lunch, we stopped to pick up some stuff for dinner. We are staying in a cabin tonight, with a kitchen, right on the beach, and we don’t want to be bothered having to go out looking for dinner. AdventureMan spotted Qualicum Foods, and it is just like Whole Foods. We found everything we needed – and more. It’s nicer than any supermarket in Pensacola.

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May 12, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, iPhone, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Quay West

“What brought you here?” our waitress, Robin, asked as we sat in one of the most glorious restaurants in Campbell River.

“My wife,” said AdventureMan.

“I don’t know why,” I started, “I just felt drawn here. I needed to see it. I like hunting and fishing, and I knew this was hunting and fishing country, and the gateway to the north of Vancouver Island.”

It’s true. I like remote places, and I like hunting cultures. I grew up among people who fished for a living and hunted for food to eat through the winter. You respect food more when you have to grow it or hunt it.

Campbell River is beautiful. You could live anywhere, and wake up every morning to water and mountains and 180 degrees – or more – of sky.

Our room is in a brand new hotel, it is clean and beautiful as only a new hotel can be. We have a balcony overlooking the BC Ferry as it shuttles cars and trucks back and forth across to the islands.

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We are trying to decide where to go for dinner, and I am reading to AdventureMan from Trip Advisor. The first review at Quay West features a couple who split a Ceasar Salad and a Pork Schnitzle with a Mushroom Peppercorn Sauce. I didn’t even get to finish reading; AdventureMan said “That’s where we are going!” and five minutes later we were out the door.

 

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Quay West has more than great food going for it. It also has location, location, location. Here are the views:

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Our waitress was fantastic, and fun to talk with. She brought us a Ceasar Salad to split, then a huge plate of Pork Schnitzle (remember, we have lived almost 20 years in Germany, not continuously, but in segments) with the mushroom peppercorn sauce. It was everything the reviewer had said it was, and we relished the meal, every bite, even the beautifully cooked vegetables, surrounded by natural beauty. AdventureMan had a Steam Whistle IPA which had the crisp pilsner taste, and I had a Pinot Blanc, dry, flinty, just the way I like it.

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We passed on dessert, but Robin brought us two huge strawberries, coated in chocolate, and we did not resist.

Back at the hotel, I discover that I can pick up texts and messages as long as I am connected via the hotel Wifi. Woo HOOOOO! We are not totally out of communication!

A perfect ending to a great day.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Communication, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Survival, Technical Issue | , , | Leave a comment

York Street in Duncan, on Vancouver Island

We are here! We are on Vancouver Island, en route to Campbell River! We are happy, we have exited customs, we are on the right road and everything goes smoothly. We get to the road that will take us up to Campbell River, and realize we are hungry. In Duncan, we spot the York Street Diner, and we know it is right for us. I don’t know how we know, I only know that we know.  Maybe because it doesn’t look like all the chains.

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Inside, the owner has decorated with Kenyan giraffes, carved African masks and assorted items collected from travels. We feel right at home 🙂

 

I order a Reuben and a side Ceasar. I have to take half the sandwich with me, it is so huge, so much food.

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We know we are in Canada

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AdventureMan has a turkey cranberry salad with onion rings.

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Everything is delicious.

We are not entirely comfortable. One reason is a big reason, our phones aren’t working. There is no Verizon service available. We never even considered the possibility. Second, we haven’t seen a bank or a place to change our money to Canadian dollars, so we enter the modern world and use our credit cards. We never use credit cards in restaurants, we always pay cash, but until we find a bank – open – we will have to make do as modern people do.

Our waitress is most kind, and helpful; she even draws a map to show us how to get to the nearest bank.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, iPhone, Quality of Life Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Trips Out

I must be feeling better. This morning I got an important quilt sandwiched – yes, even in these humid 90°F + temperatures, I was down on my hands and knees, pinning the three layers together. The colors are so beautiful it was truly a labor of love.

And – AdventureMan has been asking me about our next road trip. Oh, he is so subtle! He talks longingly of road trips we’ve taken, places we’ve stayed and loved, and how much he loves to be on the road. I understand; I get restless, too! So last night I began sketching out a two week road trip through the “four-corner” states.

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I have a sister who loves this part of the United States, and I have heard from her for years about some wonderful places I have never seen. Bryce Canyon. Zion National Park. Arches National Park. There is some Native American territory I want to cross and a couple places we’ve stayed before, and loved. Best of all, there are two adorable little toddlers I haven’t seen for over a year, and my arms hunger to hug them – Little Diamond’s children, no longer babies, growing growing so fast.

 

I just did a first draft – haven’t made any reservations yet. I’ve been getting advisories from Trip Advisor about flight prices from here to Denver; it’s one of the changes we are going to make, not making ourselves drive hell-bent-for-leather for three days just to get to where our vacation will start. We are also driving fewer miles and staying more nights at each stop. We discovered on our Vancouver Island trip how much we enjoy that style.

We’ve been thinking about this trip for quite a while. We are eager to visit Montana, and we are eager to do more exploring in Alberta and British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies, and we are also realizing, after all these years, that it is more rewarding for us to focus on a smaller area and explore it at greater leisure. We’ll spend three nights in Santa Fe – a place we fell in love with last time we visited.

We already have two other trips planned and finalized, but we really needed a good road trip together 🙂

 

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Environment, Geography / Maps, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sea Star at The Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet

It took me months to narrow down where we would stay on Vancouver Island’s west side. There are all kinds of accommodations, high end with a spa and well known restaurant, camping, and everything in between.

What matters to us? We like having enough space, and we really like natural wood finishes. Most of all, for me, I want a view of the water.

I booked the Terrace Beach Resort not knowing if it was as good as it promised. When we arrived, it didn’t look like much from the road, it looks like an old fashioned fishing village. We signed in, and were taken to our cabin, #9 Sea Star. It has three stories, bedrooms on the top floor and the bottom floor, and living room and kitchen and main bathroom on the entry level. Oh, and a huge deck with a hot tup and grill. And leather furniture. And oh wow. The view. It is also next to a hiking trail we wanted to hike.

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Here is the view 🙂

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Living room area

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Upstair bedroom

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Upstairs hot tub with that view 🙂

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Attention to detail – candles for those unexpected power outages

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The kitchen

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And 🙂  the sunset!

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They have a wide variety of cabin types, each one different. There is a beach, perfect for sending the kids down; you can watch them from the balcony. There is a modern TV, and a modern kind of fake fireplace, there are books and CDs you can rent. Or you can hike the Lighthouse Trail 🙂

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | 1 Comment

Anacortes, WA for the Ferry to Sidney

Did I mention the traffic on I-5 in Seattle? Seattle has beautiful highways, a gorgeous freeway build back decades ago when Seattle traffic was a lot lighter, and mostly law abiding. The nature of the Seattle people is noticeably civil, but the traffic has doubled, and doubled again, and the roads are no longer adequate.

They have plans, great plans for better public transportation, more bike friendly routes, more adequate secondary routes, and in the meanwhile – traffic can be gridlocked.

We haven’t experienced any of it. We’ve been so lucky, arriving at a relatively low traffic time, arriving in great weather so there are fewer weather-related slow-downs and accidents. We never had a problem our whole time in Seattle, including this morning, as we arose a little early on a Sunday morning to make the trek from Edmonds to Anacortes. We are on the 0830 ferry going to Sidney, on Vancouver Island. We made our reservation months ago, as advised. We have received texts reminding us of our reservation and the need to be there 90 minutes before departure, so we booked an overnight in Anacortes to be sure to be there.

Early Sunday morning, there was light traffic, and we zoomed up the interstate, arriving with plenty of time to explore before lunch.

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There is so much to love in Anacortes, but one of the things in the old part of Anacortes is something called the Anacortes Mural Project 1993.

ANACORTES MURAL PROJECT

(from the City of Anacortes, WA website)

The intent of the Anacortes Renaissance and Revival Confederation, which Bill Mitchell helped organize, is where the idea of murals first surfaced.  Intrigued, he brought several images to the group’s second meeting, got a thumbs-up, and by the third meeting, took charge.  “I had the time and the background, education, and experience to be able to head up a mural project and I had a work space.” Equally important was “enough talented friends that I felt I could put together a crew.”

            The Anacortes Women’s Club sponsored the first mural – Fred White and his 1891 safety bike – for a scant $50.  Mounted May 3, 1984, the mural was christened with a bottle of Miller Hi-Life.  In a shower of beer and broken glass, the Anacortes Mural Project was launched. 

Bill Mitchell and murals

Murals are sponsored by families, friends, businesses, the City, Chamber, and local service clubs.  Mitchell owns the murals, to insure they can’t be moved to someone’s private residence. “This keeps the project together but it also makes me responsible for the maintenance.”

            One of the original goals of the project was to inspire the town’s merchants to spruce up their buildings.  It gratifies him that a decade into the AMP, the downtown had a new spirit. “People had been painting their buildings and there was a new feeling of optimism downtown that I would like to think we helped to create.”

            Mitchell meant to end the mural project years ago but can’t seem to let go.  There are still too many characters and scenes he’d like to capture.  And if along the way he can inspire other towns to give it a go and recover their mojo, that would be just fine with him.

This is a joyful project, as you can see, each mural sponsored by the building on which it is posted. It gave us joy, too, discovering as many as we could. They are everywhere!

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“Setrocana” mystified us, until we learned it is the name of a made-up mermaid, and is the spelling of Anacortes, backwards 🙂

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Anacortes is on a peninsula/island surrounded by Puget Sound water traffic lanes. If you lived here, you could have a view that changes with the minute, weather, water traffic, aquatic life.

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May 9, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

This is Edmonds

We’ve heard it so many times since we’ve arrived:

“You’ve arrived just in time for the best weather of the year!”

And it is true. Flying into Seattle, we saw every mountain, the air is crystal clear, the sun is out, and there are calming breezes and near 80 Degree (F) temperatures. The major secondary highway, Highway 99, is closed because there is a huge highway building program (YAYYY! Invest in infrastructure!) going on, and everyone warns us the traffic on I-5 going north will be hell. Because there are two of us, we can use the HOV (high occupancy) lanes, and we zoom straight north. The traffic isn’t the worst I have ever seen and we hit Edmonds in record time.

We are starving. We stop for a bite at Ivar’s, check in, and pick up my Mom to get her a new phone.

This is Edmonds. People are different here. Mom (in her wheelchair) and I have to wait, but not for long, and the specialist who deals with us is so kind. He talks to MOM, not me. Have you ever noticed when people are in a wheelchair some people treat them like they are invisible? I didn’t notice until Mom started using a wheelchair, and I had to remind people to talk to HER, not to me. Tyler, the telephone guy, talked to her, and walked her through her options. By the time we left – not with a phone, because the one she needs wasn’t in – she had a new friend. She has his card. She can call him to ask when the new phones are in, and she can call him with questions. He was genuinely kind, and treated her like a queen. This is Edmonds.

Of course, we are still on Central time, so wide awake at 0630. We hit breakfast around seven, thinking that since this is Saturday, we will have it mostly to ourselves, only to find that the breakfast room is full of athletically garbed people filling canteens, heading for mountains, boats, ferries, Saturday markets – when the weather is this fine, people take advantage of it! I’d forgotten – this is Edmonds.

We hit the Fred Meyers and Trader Joes, stocking up for our road trip into Vancouver Island, then hit one our our favorite treats – The Edmonds Market. I thought it opened at nine, but at none, the place is packed.

I am a great fan of Dale Chihuly, the Seattle artist who specializes in spectacular pieces in glass. His vision is unbounded; once he filled the canals in Venice with his art pieces. Seattle has a huge Chihuly museum, and houses his studios. These are not Chihuly, but Seattle gives birth to a lot of people unafraid to try their hand at artistic pursuits. If I weren’t traveling, I would buy this piece in a heartbeat. It’s cool laciness reminds me of seafoam as the waves hit the shore:

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I wouldn’t buy this, but I appreciate its spirit!

 

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Metalworks for sale, including Edmonds Salmons 🙂

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Rhubarb is in season! Rhubarb was one of the few plants I can remember flourishing in the cool growing seasons in Alaska, and it is a unique taste I love.

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This is Edmonds version of a bread line. This artisanal baker has the most delicious looking full grain loaves, and people get there early to line up to buy his wares.

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The Museum volunteers always have a central tent where they can sell their wares to support the Edmonds museum. Up the street is another volunteer, signing up volunteers for the annual Edmonds Arts Fest, almost always on Father’s Day weekend, in June.

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The normally usual good prices for flowers are hiked, as everyone is buying bouquets for their Mothers!

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It’s an Edmonds kind of day 🙂

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Biography, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fund Raising, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel | | Leave a comment