Tuesday, December 25, 2012
SENIOR ADVENTURERS SEEKING OUT
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN LEAVENWORTH, WA.
DECEMBER 8, 2012
Our last trip of 2012 was a short day trip with dinner in Leavenworth, Washington to explore the Holiday Lights and most of all the spectacular drive across the mountain passes, snow seemed to be at the peak at least 10 feet deep along the road sides. I love this drive we do it once every four years or so and it never fails to amaze me on the drive over, the wonderful mountain streams, trees covered in heavy snow and some white out areas on the roads. The drive is like getting the ultimate invitation to an event, sometimes the actual invitation is more exciting than the event, a keep sake non the less; that's what the drive in the snow across the mountain passes seem to me, it brings the actual season to life far away from the cement Christmas in the urban areas of Seattle. Our friends that go with us on these trips are always charged up and willing to take on the challenge it too makes for a great visit as you'll see in the few pictures posted below, unfortunately I didn't take any pictures on my own, it was a little more crowded than I remember in the past years it kept me busy looking for our friends walking about the big crowds with their walkers and canes, not that they can't take care of themselves it just made me a little nervous this year.
We had a wonderful time, dinner at Cafe Mozart which was our second time in the past four years and the dinner was once again fantastic, keeping in mind this Cafe is small, quaint and most accommodating they are very patient with our groups and friendly they seem to appreciate our Senior Citizen Friends as I do; knowing this is the best generation living making every adventure with them so wonderful, entertaining, educational and most of all very much appreciated by all. Here are a couple of pictures of us at dinner (again sorry I had to copy pictures taken by our friends the Hastings sisters, mostly Norma she is our official center of fun on all our trips that she joins in).
Another fun picture of our group having dinner, this is what makes it so fun, visiting over a great meal with great service and excellent food, traditional all the way see the next picture with the menu on the picture.
Happy Holidays to all and may 2013 bring everyone peace and happiness, we wish you and your family and friends continued good health and peace to all!
Posted by Michael at 12:01 PM
Labels: Horizon House senior trips continued, Seattle Washington by Cetc Travel Services hosted by Michael
Monday, October 15, 2012
Before we discuss the trip to Salt Spring Island let me talk about the island and the fact it is a testament to sustainable living! I will try to touch on the amazing things the island does for itself and the environment, not only in the sustainable market but how it teaches the residents about the principles of sustainable living, composting and recycling. One of our waitresses took the time to tell me about the different types of programs from how fields are planted with diverse vegetation that saves the crops from pests without the use of pesticides. Imagine how wonderful this is I can tell you when you taste the food you know something is different, why can't we all learn from this and practise this everywhere?
Salt Spring Island, B.C.
The San Juan Islands of Canada
Nature & Splendid Beauty w/ Arts & Crafts
I escorted our senior friends on this spectacular adventure I hope to capture the real coolness of this island and inspire you to visit, but don't tell too many people it would be a shame if the secret got out!
Four members of our group, we had 33 total attendees
Roz, Betty, Norma & Jane
We started our trip early on Friday departing from Horizon House to pier 69 at the crack of dawn, we knew we would have a unique trip as there was a full rainbow over the Puget sound as we waited to board the Victoria Clipper for our 3.5 hour cruise to Victoria, B.C. We had breakfast on the boat and took in a wonderful views as well as calm seas, as good as it gets when cruising the magnificent waterways of the Pacific Northwest.
Our voyage took us by the Clipper to Victoria, we boarded a bus for a drive to Sydney, and a short ferry ride over to Salt Spring Island arriving at our hotel by 3:00 p.m. for a speedy check in at the Harbor House Hotel, a wonderful little well ran hotel on the island with its own gardens and farm; more on that to come. I would suggest you book a harbor view room on the second floor in the main building to take advantage of the large decks to take in the views and room to sit out with friends and family as you view the harbor and personal pleasure boats the sunsets or sunrise!
View of the harbor from the front garden of the hotel
The main objective of our journey was the famed "Saturday Market" local wares, artists, crafts, music and of course my favorite - food everywhere! I love the theme of the market, nothing can be sold in this market unless it was either designed by an artist of the island (even if produced elsewhere) or made 100% from local resources and on the island. In some cases they have artists who have designed a product but due to the popularity of the item they are allowed to have it produced to meet the supply needs, still not a mass market item but some might not like this; I think it's fine for items that are priced at a good value and the artists are forthcoming about any items produced off the island by a factory with their signature and permission on the projects.
Here are some photos of us at the market, and yes we had a very large bus that was a bit much for the locals none the less we were welcomed by all with open arms and smiles! (unfortunately I don't have pictures in the market, due to a circumstance I was attending to one of our members who wasn't feeling well, I only joined the group after the day at the market, but I know they really enjoyed the experience). Our next stop is a nice drive to Ruckle Provincial Park.
Gathering together as we waited for our bus to drive up
Jane taking a picture of her sister Norma & Phyllis
Glenn adjusting his camera, he is a great photograher
Loading up at the end of the market, the bus was so large but
very comfy for the 33 participants and 2 of us from Cetc Travel Services as escorts.
Ruckle Provincial Park - it is hard to explain the spectacular park, we stopped at the original grounds and farm house of the family who settled the area and donated the land to the island to preserve for all future families. Here is some history from the articles at the old farm - amazing the original owners still operate a working farm, we toured to portion donated and old buildings saved as a part of history of the family, farm and living during its inception.
Tucked inside Ruckle Provincial Park remains 200 acres of the Province s oldest working farm still held by the original family in lifetime tenure. Since 1974 the surrounding 1000 acres has public access after being deeded to the Province of British Columbia as parkland with camping & trails bordered by the shoreline. One of Salt Spring Island's earliest settlers, Henry Ruckle came to the island in 1872 in hopes of acquiring farmland. By 1948 the family s total holding was 1196 acres.
Ruckle Farm was a big operation in it s heyday. At one time it s full production included an orchard of more than 600 apple and pear trees, and about 40 nut trees. The family raised sheep, cattle, hogs, turkeys, chickens, and pheasants. The farm produced hay, potatoes, wheat, oats, barley, field peas & root crops. Salt Spring Island was a major contributor to BC s Agricultural Community from the late 1800 s and therefore their thriving orchard felt the impact of the arrival of irrigation to the Okanogan Valley in the 1930 s. The Ruckles stayed on through this decline in Salt Spring Island's farming, and for a time ran a dairy selling milk & cream.
Henry and Gordon Ruckles legacy lives on in this magnificent farmland. This Heritage should never be lost. May this Pioneer land always remain a working farm in keeping with Gordon Ruckles wishes, and with respect to this family who has given us all such a jewel to enjoy!
We walked the original building of the old farm, school house, barn, workers housing - the original house of the Ruckle family isn't in my pictures, I was not too comfortable walking the fields with the residents, no not our group but if you notice the wild turkeys roaming about? Not my cup of tea!
We moved up to the park for a magnificent stroll, we stopped to take in the views and marvel at this wonderful gift from the Ruckle Family.
Walking the path to the shoreline area, nature abounds the walk
One of the inlets along the parks' coastline, otters are often seen and watching you
The brave ones walking to the overlook edge, watching the sea life playing
They didn't even notice me taking a picture - looking out over the coastline
there is many things going on in the waters just behind me, we have Barbara,
Jane, Nancy and Norma taking a rest on one of many benches along the viewing areas.
Harbor House Hotel -- meal functions, our private dining room set ups:
Breakfast set up, nice and bright Dinner set up more formal
During dinner on Friday night we had the Salt Spring Island Historical Society join us for a lecture on the history of the island, and the secrets of the island.
Our group members having dinner on Friday night as a private function.
The Harbor House has a wonderful dining room, lounge with fireplace.
On Saturday night we had dinner on our own, enjoying the local entertainment, fire burning bright and friendly waitstaff and bar staff. we filled the restaurant all at once and we kept everyone busy!
I want to share the food experience at the Harbor House, I hope my descriptions will entice you to visit the island and Harbor House Hotel or even the famous Hastings House just across the street from the Harbor House. Locally raised and grown food has a distinctive taste and richness that you can't find even with a top chef preparing your foods, of course unless it is all "farm to table" as it is on Salt Spring Island. I ordered fish and chips, yes a simple meal that tastes as if it was harvested just a couple of hours prior to preparation, unbelievable to say the least. Breakfast the next morning was equally exciting, local eggs, sausage and most amazing the breads, muffins and scones made fresh each morning before you woke up, so you can enjoy the freshest bakery items ever!
A couple of pictures of part of our return on the ferry as we took in the sun and views from the ferry.
Taking in the sun on our ferry back to Victoria
Look how majestic the island is along the coastline
We returned to Victoria for a wonderful two hour tour of Sydney, B.C. and on to the great neighborhoods of Victoria, we toured the uplands and parks before heading back to the Clipper Dock for our cruise back to Seattle enjoying a light dinner on the ship back to Seattle.
**Normally I have more pictures and articles about our journeys, this trip required my personal attention to matters that didn't allow me to enjoy all the treasures of the island, but I will tell you the people, market and the wonderful small town of Ganges is worth the trip to Salt Spring Island either by a combination of land and sea or boating all the way to the island, we even had a member fly in by air from Seattle via Vancouver in two and half short hours. Great weekend getaway or longer if you enjoy arts and sustainable living with the modern luxuries of our times.**
Sunday, August 19, 2012
August 14 - 17 2012 Washington / Oregon Coast Visit
Long Beach Peninsula, Washington State
First thing to note is we based our stay in Long Beach, Washington a traditional small coastal town with the feeling of time standing still with friendly locals and unique shops geared to the tourists. I found the local residents to be very friendly and accommodating to our needs and challenges. We left Seattle on our luxury bus full of anticipation and excitement of which both were exceeded from the minute we left to the last stop for our picnic lunch returning to Seattle.
We visited a road side rest area for our lunch on the way to Long Beach, we also returned to the same picnic grounds on the return trip - we took up 5 tables all around the grounds enjoying our box lunches along with some time to stretch our legs before the final leg to the beach.
Our first meal was at Pelicano Restaurant in Ilwaco, Washington
We arranged for the entire restaurant to open for our group exclusively
We just ordered our meal with time to visit, each of us had a wonderful Salad, choice of a special rock fish or fish stew or pasta dish - each was spectacular and well presented had a choice of desserts that to this day I can't stop wanting more. If you're ever on the Long Beach Peninsula and you miss a chance to visit Pelicano Restaurant you'll of missed a true treasure!
I started my day at the Cottage Bakery in Long Beach, old fashion all the way; service and staff as you'd expect from days gone by. Remember when service people were friendly and pleased to help you? I sure do and I fell in love with the Cottage Bakery, even the morning "coffee club" locals would say hello as you walked in, not knowing me from any other stranger makes me believe they greet every person the same way with a warm and welcoming "Good Morning". Departing our hotel at 8:30 a.m.for our first stop at Fort Clatsop, we will enjoy a movie then down to the fort to explore and learn about the living conditions, hunting and much more that happened during the expedition of Lewis and Clark.
As we stroll to the Fort at Fort Clatsop the scenery is spectacular!
Our group is being enlightened by the docent, he has some amazing facts and stories
Here we are walking about, inspecting the housing and approving the quarters!
Our friend Martha guarding the grounds, you won't get past her!
A replica of the original flag during the era.
Yes, this is real! Our docent fires his flint riffle in a demonstration! Exciting!
The flash and sound was amazing, just think they had to load the barrel for each shot.
After our demonstration we're all hungry and excited to move onto Astoria, Oregon for a wonderful private lunch at "The Baked Alaska" on the Columbia River. We had a special menu with a choice of Clams, Denali Burger, Chicken Pot Pie (made in a cast iron skillet) or a spectacular salad called "cross the crick" a house green salad topped with a wonderful Salmon Fillet. I bet you can guess what was for dessert? Yes of course a flaming Baked Alaska dessert brought in by a line of servers for all to share, it was very special. Let's add a picture of our room, hopefully you'll notice the wonderful fun dishes our meals are being served in. One thing that tops off the great fun food is the great people on this tour, we all had open conversations with interesting topics, no one was bored of course it was a bit quiet while we were eating, can't imagine why?
Notice the bowls, also to the right
there is a pot pie, each made as an
individual dish in a cast iron skillet, I think that was the favorite; at least Betty
assured us it was!
Next we are heading to the Columbia Maritime Museum, a world class museum; we started with a film about the Columbia River, the ever moving river sand bars, ship wreckage, history of the area and much more, we even had a chance to board a working boat of the past. The museum is only a few blocks from the restaurant along the historic Astoria river front walk.
The outside of the Columbia Maritime Museum - very well done and interesting visit
We toured this once working boat on the Columbia, the housing, dining and facilities are
far from luxury, once you get over the cramped feeling below it is quite interesting, the officers
had of course what seemed to be the best crew cabins forward of the crew areas below.
A very special treat before heading back to our hotel in Long Beach, we drove up to the Astoria Column, here is the brief story of the column:
The Astoria Column has served for over 80 years as a beacon on the Pacific Northwest Coast. It sits in a wooded area 600 feet above sea level on Coxcomb Hill, Astoria, Oregon’s highest point. Majestic views of the countryside surrounding Astoria are the great Pacific Ocean to the west and the mighty Columbia River to the north. Snow-capped volcanoes of the Cascade Range rise to the east and Saddle Mountain reaches to the sky on the southern horizon. The story behind the Column, its deterioration and rescue by the Friends of Astoria Column, rivals the history it depicts. I suggest everyone visit this unique piece of history and the renovation, maybe take time to climb to the top and step out on the view deck! Here is a picture I took from the parking lot, the views here are breathtaking for sure:
The view is spectacular -- endless beauty!
We will head back to Long Beach for an evening on our own, everyone will visit the little beach side town with their friends maybe a nice dinner at one of the local diners; I'm having a sandwich and salad from the Cottage Bakery returning to my room to catch up on some work tonight before our next big day, I can't wait to visit the Disappointment Park / Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
With excitement building we depart from our hotel at 9:30 a.m. with a planned stop at a look out area before our visit to the Interpretive Center, again my pictures just doesn't do the trip justice but it is what I have and I'm going to share them with you!
Looks like everyone is having fun in the sun at our short stop en route to the Interpretive Center, this is a view of the coastline on the Long Beach Peninsula! Camping at this look out point would be fun if they allowed it; we were the only ones at the look out giving us the run of the bluff.
Walking up the path to the Lewis and Clarke Interpretive Center, amazing walk in nature!
A wonderful park ranger giving some of the group a talk as we gathered outside the center
Our friend Jinnie, catching the movie in advance of the group, she was taking in the experience!
Our wonderful group, taking up the entire theater for the movie of Lewis and Clark!
Now we know how to take over a place, every seat in the theater was our group.
Once everyone arrived I had to stop taking pictures.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is set up in such a way that you enter, walk and read about the history of the area and the expedition, moving down the walkways your next stop is the theater after the movie you finish the museum and the expedition, returning to the observation deck for the views off the coast. Sadly we had a dense fog we did spot a fishing vessel off the coast, nothing else could be seen. I think everyone not only enriched themselves but also learned some great secrets of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, or at least I did.
As we finish up at the center we are now heading to a very exciting visit of two of our friends homes on the Peninsula, Ron has a home in a nursery setting; Nancy has a wonderful home on the beach with direct beach access, we had a great experience as you'll tell from the pictures; you might even thing we arrived on a movie set.
Entrance to Ron's home, I missed a picture of a deer and fawn as we entered the property
A small part of the wonderful gardens on the grounds at Ron's home, he gave us a full tour.
After lunch at we sat on the deck taking in what is the incredible surroundings
Some of our folks walking about the gardens, magnificent is an understatement
After lunch at Ron's we drove into Oysterville (no photos) for a view of one of the oldest and most historic towns on the Peninsula, the story of the area is amazing, each home is now a registered historic site, there is still the original one room school house and a house of worship. It was amazing next trip we will take time to visit each site if time allows; unfortunately we had a little mishap and didn't have the information on the homes and area as we visited Oysterville, albeit each home had a plaque on the picket fences around the homes with information about the house and property.
Now we travel over to Nancy's for appetizers and a little Washington wine! As you'll see the
fog was coming in strong or as we know it as a "marine layer", it made the visit unique from
the direct sun during lunch to the seaside fog, I thought it was a nice contrast!
Some of our group members, others are at Nancy's, as you can see on their faces it is delightful.
Riches have been discovered on the beach! Faye finds a dollar in the sand!
Here we have Mable, Ellen, Bob, Martha and Lyle exploring the beach.
The path to the beach from Nancy's porch, isn't is wonderful? We walked as if we
were at our own private beach destination, not many people around today.
Tonight we will return to Long Beach for a special dinner at "The Depot" a converted train depot in Seaview; believe it or not we are having dinner on the patio behind the restaurant, again another unique experience.
The Depot Restaurant - incredible eats, I wish I had more pictures - the food rocks here!
Long Beach Police Station, the many flags, true small town America, notice the clock?
There is public art in every open space in Long Beach, a nice touch.
More art, can you make out the crabs, sea horse and other sea creatures?
We are coming to the end of our trip, without a doubt it has been great; in the morning we'll drive back to Seattle with a stop at the Carriage House Museum, this is something special for sure. I learned so much from this unique museum if we'd not visited the Carriage House we would of not been able to say the trip was a complete success.
A group picture at the Carriage House Museum, missing a few who are still viewing the museum
Can you identify everyone? We are a grand group for sure! Look at the smiles.
The docent at the museum not only filled the visit with fun facts, knowledge, stories and a few thoughts to stretch our imaginations. The carriages at this museum have an amazing history, some had been built with such things as side boards, landau tops and accessories used to this day on the horseless carriages or as we know it automobiles. Just amazing how time has evolved and that there are still wonderful carriages of the past still in top working shape.
Our friend Lundy making friends!
These carriages are pristine in every way - please visit the museum if your on the Peninsula.
Sadly we now have to head back to Seattle, we'll stop for our picnic lunch at the road side picnic area in Elma before returning the rush hour traffic of Seattle, everyone will be happy to be home; maybe with a little sadness the trip seemed to pass so quickly, at least for me the time spent with my friends, fun conversations at dinner, touring the area, learning will be cherished for the rest of my life.
What a wonderful life, please be sure to get out and explore our wonderful world it helps explain how and why we are fortunate to be living in the greatest time period ever.