Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dodging Raindrops, Totems in Stanley Park & Amazing Laughter in Vancouver...

Prior to arriving in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada, our last day on board ship was "at sea" -- no excursions, no stops at any ports -- a full day to enjoy activities on board. We were cruising the Inside Passage. Gross tonnage of the ship was 78,309. Overall length was 848 feet. Cruise speed was 23 knots.

After getting our bags packed and tagged, we had lunch and then went to the Stardust Theater. Greg Gleason was holding a Memory Seminar, very educational as well as entertaining. He was outstanding! No question that he held our attention. All I can say is -- we have the ability -- WOW! -- if we just utilize it.

Vancouver, British Columbia 

We arrived in Canada, Vancouver to be exact, on Monday, June 13, at 8 a.m. Our bags had been picked up at 6 a.m. from outside our room. We retrieved them from the color-coded area, corresponding to the color of the tags we had placed on our bags, consistent with the time we chose to disembark.

We found a row of chairs conveniently located where we watched, with our luggage, for our green tour bus to pull up to the curb. We had a full day to sightsee in Vancouver, before catching our flights to go home. While looking around, I found a couple items of interest.

Tall Totem

This tall totem was inside this building where we were waiting. The sign next to it indicated it depicted the crests of three maritime animals, the sea-bear, the sea otter, and the whale. It was carved by Charlie James (Yakuglas) around 1900. In the late 1920's, it was donated to the Art, Historical and Scientific Association, which later become the Museum of Vancouver. It stood in Stanley Park west of Lumberman's Arch, then at Brockton Point, and then in 1987, at the Vancouver Convention Center.

Just a reminder that you can click on any picture to enlarge it.

Tall totem inside building
Donald Duck

The Disney Wonder cruise ship we had seen in several ports where we were was also here in Vancouver. It was finally close enough to photograph Donald Duck hanging on the outside painting the finishing touches with one of his nephews looking on.

Front of Disney Wonder ship:
Donald Duck painting the finishing touches with his nephew looking on. 
Rain Finally Caught Up With Us

The bus arrived. We boarded. It had already started to rain as the bus pulled away to begin our tour. 

Rain drops taken through bus entry door 
It rained off and on all day, with an occasional letup while we got off the bus to sightsee and get a few photos. 

Stanley Park

The first statue allowed in Vancouver is located there. I had one quick second to capture a quick glimpse of it, a statue of poet Robert Burns, on our left as we turned right within Stanley park. Sorry about the reflections and raindrops through the windows of the bus, but if you look closely, you can see Robert Burns standing on top of the pillar.

First statue allowed in Vancouver was of Poet Robert Burns
Stanley Park has many huge trees with very large trunks, almost impossible to photograph and do justice to them through the windows of the bus with the reflections of the falling rain.

Another way to see Stanley Park, but not recommended on this damp, rainy day.

Open horse-drawn wagon tours in Stanley Park
Totems in the Park

Photographing a group of totems in the park turned into some unexpected fun. Our driver was British and many times during the tour, he had a way of sharing the humor for which they are well known. Our bus driver suggested we let him take a picture, and voila! me and Don became an addition to the totem. When it comes to totems, they told us the most important are at the bottom.

Having fun in Stanley Park -- what it's like to be a totem!
Scenic Overlook

Our next stop was Prospect Point, a park area with flowers and shops, plus a scenic overlook and view of Lyons Bridge. This photo of Lyons Bridge was taken through the top right-hand glass of the bus entry door on our way to Prospect Point. In the photos below, the raised flower beds in the top photo were on the left, while the shops in the bottom photo were on the right. The area between the two was concrete and led to an overlook.

Lyons Bridge

Raised flower beds were on the left.
Shops were on the right. 
Lunch Stop

Our stop to eat lunch was at a large inside market. There were booths galore and endless vendors offering many products for sale.

Raspberries, Strawberries, Cherries, Blueberries...
Beautiful baked breads 
It was so large that one section was designated for food vendors who had a variety of items available for lunch. After making our selections, we took the food to a central inside eating area.

On our Way to the Harbour Centre Lookout

Busy street on Monday afternoon
It was a good day to leave the driving to someone else this rainy day. Our tour included the Harbour Centre Lookout where we rode an elevator to the top of a building with a 360-degree view over-looking the harbour and parts of the city.

Harbour Centre Lookout/Building and surrounding area map
View of church at street level from overlook atop Harbour Center
Stadium as seen from Harbour Centre Overlook
Overlooking city with many tall buildings
This view from the overlook was on our left when we docked in Vancouver.

Interesting glass domed building at ground level from atop overlook
Giant Laughing Statues

We actually passed this sculpture when on the bus. The bus driver called our attention to how everyone was laughing. I was on the opposite side of the bus so could not get a photo then. This picture is of the photo hanging on the wall as we walked around the top of the Harbour Centre.

A-Maze-ing Laughter
"A-maze-ing Laughter" consists of 14 bronze statues -- all in different poses -- of a shirtless guy laughing hysterically! It is located in Morton Park right next to English Bay. The sculpture is by Chinese Artist Yue Minjun.

After we descended the Harbour Centre Lookout, we headed for the airport where we put our luggage on push carts and sat down to wait a couple hours until we could check in for our international flights. While waiting, I got up to stretch my legs and wandered into a shop where I found a Summer 2016 issue of Dell Totally Easy Sudoku. I love puzzles and just figured out on the way to Fairbanks how to play Sudoku. This puzzle book has 184 puzzles, and as I write this, have just completed 123 of them. It is a fun game!

After checking in, our gates were within walking distance of each other, so we could still be together until boarding time. It was hard to hold back the tears as we said our goodbyes. We had another wonderful journey, this time to Alaska! Our flights boarded and left within 30 minutes of each other. My sister and I texted each other and discovered we landed at our separate destinations, with tail winds and all, at almost the same time!

I then procdeeded to the baggage claim, collected my bags, and texted John that I had my bags and would be outside watching for him and Angel to pick me up with the RV. From where I stood, I got a glimpse of the RV and our trailer rounding a curve as they got nearer. I motioned John to a lane that was not busy where he would be able to stop long enough while I got in; and we were off... to continue our adventure of RV full-time living and traveling across the United States.

A little time to reminisce...

Thank you everyone for following this journey to Alaska with me and my sister. We have taken many trips together, some driving on our own and some on tours. While I was still in high school, we went with our mom and dad on two trips (one east and one west) to all but two provinces (Newfoundland and Manitoba) of Canada, returning from one through Glacier National Park via the beautiful Going to the Sun Highway. The first trip with mom and dad was north into Michigan where we crossed the Mackinac Bridge and hiked all the steps up (and down) to Castle Rock.

A two-week driving tour (I drove) took us to Florida; a one-week driving tour went through Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the  badlands of North Dakota and South Dakota and into Montana. We have seen the Alamo, square danced at Disneyland, and have driven all four Covered Bridge routes multiple times in Parke County, Indiana. This was before buses began transporting visitors on the bridge routes.

One of our favorite places to visit is the 6th Architectural Wonder of the World, the famous West Baden Springs Hotel (near French Lick, Indiana). Its story is unique! It is a structure with a self-supporting roof that expands and contracts on a circular track. Google it for photos and more information. Also, we have enjoyed the beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom in the Great Smokey Mountains including the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, and had the thrill of taking the one-way road to Townsend.

One year we flew to California, landed in Los Angeles and rented a car, and drove north to see the Sequoyas, Redwood trees, coast of Oregon, Crater Lake and on to Salt Lake City, took a sail plane ride in Heber Valley, Utah, and so much more before returning the rental car and flying home from Los Angeles. In 1976, we went to the Rose Bowl Parade and saw Ohio State play in the Bowl game, then flew to Hawaii for two weeks where we toured four islands.

We have visited Israel, specifically the Holy Land. On this same trip, we visited Egypt where we saw the pyramids, rode a camel and saw the King Tut treasures that rotated to various world museums, and enjoyed a breakfast pizza when sightseeing in Rome, Italy. We visited eight countries in Europe on an Olson Tour, including seeing Oberammergau and the Passion Play presented in its 350th year! When riding an open cable car down the mountain in Switzerland, we had the pleasure of seeing cows on the mountainside and hearing the sounds from the cowbells they wore around their necks. It was so foggy in the Black Forest in Germany that we could not see the center line in the road. Other cities included Strasborg in France, and a castle in Austria, cruising on the Rhine and seeing castles along the way, being on a canal boat in Amsterdam, and so much more. Also we have visited Mexico -- Puerta Vallarta, and Lands End in Cabo San Lucas.

This is only a partial list; I could ramble on and on reminiscing about where we have been, and things we have seen, but with sharing these adventures, I hope you can visualize the fun we have experienced traveling together! We have been blessed! Thank you for sharing our journey to Alaska. My next post will be back on the road again in New Mexico resuming RV full-time living and traveling across America. Our next turn is onto Route 66.

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