Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Wild Times in Washington State!


 Finally...the countdown was over! The 7 months of working 2 jobs was over and we had enough saved to go on our epic west coast adventure! So on the 2nd July we set off very early to the bus depot in Vancouver and hopped a bus across the border down to Seattle. We caught a train to the airport where we picked up our extortionately priced hire car - thank you very much 3 different sales taxes we weren't told about at the time of making the booking! and found the nearest Wal Mart and filled our car to the brim with camping chairs, coolboxes, groceries and enough s'mores making supplies to keep us stocked for the whole 3 week trip!

I've got to be honest...Washington was not really somewhere I was wildly excited about was more a means to an end! It was en route to California! but oh man, Washington is just super beautiful everywhere you look!

 Even the roads have beautiful names!!

Our first destination was Mount Rainier. I loved catching the first glimpse of it as we drove!

 It was way bigger than I expected it to be! and so crazy that it was covered in snow at the top, yet was so hot and sunny down below!

We asked a rather grumpy photographer who was trying to capture the view to snap this one of the two of us! I was glad we did as it's one of my fave from the whole trip...that view just seems unreal looking back now!

We went to check out this awesome waterfall! 

By went down to take a closer look, the spray from the waterfall was insane! and I could see he was getting soaking wet! So I decided I'd stay on drier ground...but when he told me he could see a whole rainbow down there I had to go investigate!

 and look what I found! a whole rainbow that fit over my head! Amazing! It was certainly worth getting my hair wet for!

We then hiked up a snowy mountain which was pretty surreal! 

We were still in our shorts and t-shirts believe it or not! 

We found our reserved spot at the campsite and pitched our little tent...

 and got down to some serious s'more making with this awesome contraption we found at Wal mart!

 The next day we set out super early to go to Mount St. Helen's...


which I was suuuper excited about! Ever since my days of GCSE geography I have had a secret love for volcanoes and I remember being so interested in the case study of Mount St.Helen's because it was such a HUGE eruption that no one was really expecting! We listened to a great little talk all about it at the Mount St. Helen's visitor centre where the park ranger told us everyone grew up in that area of America being told that the Cascades were extinct volcanoes, that had erupted hundreds of years ago and would never erupt again, and so it genuinely did take everyone by surprise when one day in 1980 they started showing some activity again! It is really quite miraculous that only 6 people died, and the people who did were all inside the danger zone and they had been told to leave but simply ignored instructions so they left their fate to the volcano! 

 There she is in all her glory! Sadly, we had a computer malfunction and when transferring our whole photo library between two laptops we managed to lose a whole entire day of pics! which happened to be all our other Mount St. Helen's pics :( sad times

So we did have an awesome picture of all the blown down trees - over 30 years later and the environment is still struggling to recover! but you'll just have to imagine how crazy they looked!! but have you checked the amazing blue sky in the background of all these pics? It was a scorching hot day! and actually, much to our surprise, we experienced the best and warmest weather in Washington...even better than California - who knew! Especially since it's the Evergreen State and is know for it's rain to keep it so green and luscious! were amazing!

Next stop...Oregon!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Our Final Week in Van City...

So our last week in Vancouver consisted of lots of farewells! like my last day at work! A few days before they very sneakily told me to bring the autistic boys I worked with into a classroom at lunchtime for a farewell - I was thinking it was a farewell for the boys as one of them was moving onto High School...but as I walked in and everyone was staring at me I realised I'd been tricked! Not many of the kids really understood what was going on but they saw there was cake so they all shouted happy birthday! haha, it was quite cute!

 My amazing colleagues, knowing my love of cupcakes had arranged for this giant cupcake cake to be made for me! Isn't it awesome! it had a giant aeroplane flying all the way from Canada back to England! and there was even coconut and chocolate cupcakes and all my favourite treats! Sadly all my photos from it were saved to my work email and I've lost them since, but it was a lovely surprise! I was a bit horrified because I'd had pretty bad morning sickness that day before I left for work so I hadn't even bothered to put make up on and suddenly everyone was taking pictures of me! so maybe it's for the best they went missing! They made me a lovely photobook of all my memories from Maywood School and all the autistic kids in the school put together a book of their favourite things about Canada and things I needed to try before I left - it was super cute! 


Here I am with Erin and Sue - I couldn't have done my job without these ladies! I worked with a boy who liked to flee the classroom quite a lot and Sue worked in the classroom opposite so whenever she saw me chasing him down the hall she'd be out quick as a flash to assist, and Erin had worked with him before I got there so she was always a huge help in dealing with him too! They were always on hand to crack some jokes and make the stressful part of my job less stressful! and they indulged me constantly talking about cake and baked goods! haha...

and here I am with the classroom teacher I worked with, Arnold.  You've heard me talk about him alot, him and his partner were so good to Byron and I and lent us their truck far too many times to recall for us to have fun Whistler adventures or to see all the sights when we had family here - I loved everyone I worked with at Maywood School - and it was pretty sad saying goodbye to everyone!


On the day I finished work, we headed to this place on Main St called Roots Cafe, By had been promising to take me there for yummy treats for a while after he discovered it on a study session one day.  The best part was when I ordered and asked the guy behind the counter if they made their milkshakes with ice cream, he looked at me like I was crazy! He was like 'what else would we make them with?!' I told him tons of places in England only use milk so I was just checking...he was like 'well that's not a milkshake'! I was like you're telling me! He kept shaking his head and couldn't get over the fact that crazy Europeans think milkshakes can be made without ice cream - he promised to make mine extra thick to make up for all the mediocre shakes I've had to put up with living on the wrong side of the pond! It was seriously tasty!!

 The next night I had a serious craving for pizza, like I couldn't stop thinking about it the whole way home and it couldn't just be any pizza - it had to be the good kind! The real good authentic stonebaked kind!


So we stopped at the oh so cute Via Tevere over on Victoria Drive.  Check out that little car out front! It was super amazing pizza! and was worth the queue we had to join just to indulge in some!

On the Saturday we checked out the International Buskers Festival on Granville St with Cassie and Peter.  It was a beautiful sunny day in the city, and was fun to be out and about taking everything in.

This street art was pretty cool!

and this guy Reuben Dot Dot Dot! had come all the way from Australia to showcase his talents! We were impressed with his skills,

but of course the favourite part of our day was heading back to Tacofino, and introducing it to Cassie and Peter!

Since they've lived in Texas before they know what good Mexican should taste like so they have pretty high standards! 

I was glad our meal lived up to expectations!

and they certainly never disappoint with their desserts! this was a chocolate cookie ice cream sandwich filled with horchata flavour ice cream!

and because no Mexican meal is complete without a happy churro ending we had to give their banana churros a try!

The next day the sun was out in full force again! so we gathered all our favourite people and headed to Kitsilano Beach for an afternoon of Beach and BBQ fun! 

Did you know you can't buy disposable BBQ's in Canada? I guess no one needs them when they bring their beefy real deals down to the beach!

Peter was the BBQ king in charge of grilling up those tasty burgers!

and nothing makes me happier than stripey straws!

Nicole brought a little bit of American patriotism to our picnic by making these delicious sugar cookies..

and topping them with blue and red berries!

Kristen made these amazing white choc and pecan cookies! and Jen made some delicious crumble - one thing you can be sure there was never a shortage of good desserts when we got together! 

  I whipped up a tropical fruit salad because when it's so sunny outside you just have to!

We played this ladder toss game, and things got pretty serious when it was boys vs girls!

Is this not the most perfect setting? green grass, sandy beach, blue ocean and mountains in the background!

 The boys also gave badminton a go...until wind stopped play!

We had a few rounds of beach volleyball which took me right back to our ward beach volleyball nights when we lived in Turks and Caicos!

I quickly became official photographer after I kept forgetting I was pregnant and diving for the ball a little too frequently!

I love this action shot! and this one below of Jeff in slow motion!

We took this group shot just before we all had to start heading home - have you ever seen a group of happier more lovely people? Oh, how we miss these friends of ours!

and I could take photos of Kate and Lila all day! They are super cute!

 We left just as the sun was setting over the ocean...

Writing this post is making my heart break for how much we miss this place!!

On Monday, it was Canada Day! So we celebrated by our friends cooking us up an amazing Mexican feast at their cool apartment downtown - I wished I'd taken pictures but I was too busy stuffing my face full of super delish slow cooked tacos and homemade guacamole!

After dinner, we tried our first taste of Marble Slab ice cream (Canada's equivalent of Coldstone) which was amazing...and then headed down to the waterfront to catch the fireworks!

I had taken my little Canadian flag along to wave it patriotically among all the other people in the crowd dressed in red and white!

It was the perfect end to our last few hours left in our favourite place!

 We got home pretty late...finished up the last of our packing and a few hours later we were awake again to begin our American road trip adventure - up next!!