This is a continuation of my "vacation blogs" of trip we took in late August, Sept. and Oct. My last blog ended with the 10 day cruise we took to Alaska during the middle of our trip.
Sept. 29 Vancouver
Our cruise ended in Vancouver early Tuesday morning. Since our cruise had started from Seattle, we needed to rent a car in Vancouver to get back to Seattle. We rented a car that morning at the pier and then drove into Vancouver to go sight seeing. We planned on spending the night in Vancouver and drive down to Seattle the next day. Our hotel in Vancouver turned out to be absolutely fantastic and not very expensive. It was my favorite hotel of the trip. It was actually a suite complete with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, living room, porch, and bedroom. It was located about a block from Stanley Park and surrounded by great places to eat and shop. We checked in early, threw our clothes in the washer and then went off to explore the area. I'd been to Vancouver before, but hubby never had so we went to Stanley Park first. It's a great place to walk, ride bikes, people watch and enjoy nature. The weather was perfect. The trees in Stanely Park are part of a temperate rain forest. They were beautiful.
Here's a view of Vancouver from Stanely Park.
Wed. Sept. 30th...Driving Day
Then next morning we woke up before dawn to get out of Vancouver before rush hour and also get to Seattle in time to get our rental car returned before our 24 hour rental period expired. We made it through customs pretty quickly and got down to Seattle just in time. We returned the car to a place about a mile away from the parking garage where we had left our car eleven days before. We both had suitcases with "wheelies" so we were able to walk (dragging our luggage) back to our car. After a couple wrong turns along the way, we found our car and all was good! Since we had already spent over a week in Washington and Oregon before the cruise, we hopped into the car and drove down to a nice campground south of Portland, Oregon (Champoeg State Park). It was a long day of driving! The campground is in an beautiful part of Oregon with lots of agriculture. Here's a couple pictures of the campground.
We really enjoyed having campfires most nights that we camped. I guess there's a little bit of a firebug in us! Most campgrounds allow campfires in designated camp pits and firewood can usually be purchased for about $5 a bundle. Plenty of wood for a couple of nights.
Oct. 1 Eugene Oregon
The next morning we packed up camp and drove a couple hours south to Eugene Oregon and stayed at a fantastic county park (Armitage Park). It one of the nicest parks on our trip. We particularly liked it because the campsites had WiFi....which turned in to be extra handy for us later on that evening.
I loved Eugene. It had excellent bicycle lanes everywhere we went. The campground is on the edge of town and there were lots of great places to eat for lunch. We spent the day exploring the area and also getting the oil changed in our car. That night, we made chili at our campsite. While I was eating my chili, I suddenly realized that I had broken a tooth! Yikes!!!! Fortunately, since we had WiFi, hubby was able to quickly locate an emergency dentist.
Oct. 2, Broken tooth, Ashland, OR and the ride from hell!
The next morning, we packed up quickly and got to the dentist's office (right across the street from the oil change place the day before) just as it was opening. They were able to take me immediately and by 9 am I was out the door with a temporary filling. I was sooooo lucky to be able to get it fixed so quickly!
Next, we drove down to Ashland, OR and had a wonderful lunch there at a restaurant over looking a babbling creek and walking path. We didn't get to spend much time in Ashland due to the dentist visit and due to the fact that we were going to spend the night at my cousin's in Santa Rosa CA. It's a cute little town that is well-known for it's Shakespeare Festival and other theater productions. We just didn't have time to enjoy that aspect of the town.
Along the way on I-5 to my cousin's, we were able to see Mt. Shasta. That was a special treat since we hadn't been able to see Mt. Rainer (due to fog) even when we were right beside it a couple weeks before.
I had Googled the driving directions from Ashland to Santa Rosa. Normally, that worked well for us on the trip. This day it did not. It sent us on one of the scariest roads I have been on in my life getting from I-5 over the mountains toward the coast. We got off I-5 around dusk and headed west on a two-lane road over the mountains with one hairpin turn after another. Traffic was heavy, with people that use the road for their commmunte (and think they are on a mountain version of the Indy 500). Going up the mountain with the sun in our eyes at each turn was bad, but going down the mountain after dark was even worse. We got to my cousins' (who it turns out lives on the top of one of the foothills in Santa Rosa on a road that is supposed to be two-way, but barely wide enough for a car) well after dark. I was completely wiped out by the last few hours of driving by the time we got there! Ugh, ugh, ugh....I'll never go on that road again!
Once I was able to regroup, I had a fantastic time with my cousin and his wife that night. He's really gotten into Ancestry.com and has traced my mother's side of the family wayyyy back to Europe (to the 1400's if I recall correctly). He sat me down for a "history lesson" of my family after dinner that was fascinating. I told my husband afterward that he needs to treat me like the descendant of royalty that I am!
Sat. Sept. 3: San Francisco
The next morning, we went over to my cousin's daughter's house (my second cousin) for breakfast. I hadn't seen her since she was about 8. Now she is a doctor. Anyway, I got to meet her children (my third cousins). The kids were as cute as they could be.
After breakfast, my cousin and his wife took us to a local park with redwoods. He suggested we go to this park instead of Muir Woods because Muir Woods would be packed. It was a great idea. I had been to Muir Woods before so this was a great alternative. Here's hubby and I in front of one of the oldest trees in the park (approximately 1,300 years old). While there were other people in the park, it was mostly empty and we had a wonderful time walking around the redwoods. It was a special treat....and so peaceful.
We left my cousin's house around one pm and drove south about an hour to San Francisco, coming into the city over the Golden Gate Bridge.
We were abe to check into our hotel right away. It was a block from Fishmans' wharf so we spent the afternoon strolling around the piers and enjoying lots of people watching.
Sunday: Sept. 4
We woke up early Sunday morning and went out for a drive to see some of the highlights of SF before the traffic got heavy. I have been to SF many times, but hubby had never been. We were able to drive up to Coit Tower and park.
We drove through China Town, saw Lombard street and went over the the Embarcadero. It was about 10 am Sunday morning when we got there. The parade grounds were bascially empty and a small yoga class was getting ready to start. There were food trucks all lined up one one side of the grounds and food tents lined up on the other.
We walked around and then spread out our lawn blanket in the middle of the field and sat back and watched the festivities. It turned out an "off the grid" event was happening there that day. By noon, the place was packed with people enjoying food, walking their pets, resting in the sun and just having a wonderful time. We ended up hanging out there for several hours. It always seems like the things we enjoy most on vacation are the unplanned things that we stumble into. This was one of those things....
Afterward, we went back to the hotel and walked around some more. This time, we walked through China Town and ended up over at Ghirardelli Square.
I was glad that my husband had gotten to see so much of San Francisco in a 24-hour period. I enjoyed being there, but I have gotten to the point that I really enjoy being out in nature more than I enjoy cities. We went to bed that night, tired but happy.
To be continued...
(Next blog....Yosemite, Lake Mead, Zion and Bryce Caynon!)