Thursday, July 14, 2011

Victoria BC and Olympic National Park

Victoria BC harbor from Coho
The Empress Hotel from Coho

What a great little side trip!  Friday morning we drove to Port Angeles, WA where we left our car and boarded the ferry (the MV Coho) to Victoria, BC.  We had a nice little package that included the walk-on ferry ride and a hotel room at the Queen Victoria Hotel. It took 90 minutes to cross the Strait of Juan De Fuca to Vancouver Island.  As we crossed we made a reservation for a round trip ride to Butchart Gardens which was our main goal for the trip.

Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
Butchart Gardens pond view
Butchart Gardens Italian Garden

Upon landing we boarded a bus to the gardens and it turned out we were the only ones to book so we had a personal, guided, round trip tour - very cool.  The ride ended up being about 40 minutes so we were very glad for the friendly guide rather than a boring taxi ride.  Butchart Gardens was as good as everyone said it was and we enjoyed it very much.  Because of our personal tour guide we got a little extra guided drive around Victoria on the way to our hotel.  It was interesting and saved us some walking.
Cool building in Victoria
When we were dropped off at our hotel we dumped our stuff in our room and started walking.  Victoria was a very nice city with some wonderful old buildings.  We had a nice walk, nice dinner, and good beer. 
Bastion Square in Victoria

Saturday morning started with some more walking in Victoria.  We saw Blue Herons nesting in trees in Beacon Hill Park before heading to the ferry back to Port Angeles.

The north entrance to Olympic National Park is at Port Angeles so it was convenient for us to take in part of the park.  We drove up (literally) to Hurricane Ridge at about 5200 feet (remember we started at sea level at the dock).  Hurricane Ridge far exceeded our expectations.  It was awesome looking across miles of snow capped peaks.  It was surprising to us to have so much snow at 5000 feet in July.  That would never happen in Arizona's mountains.  Because of so much white (snow, clouds) my pictures didn't come out all that great and don't even come close to doing justice to the scene.  It was then back to the campground to pack up for our departure. 

View from Hurricane Ridge
Strait of Juan De Fuca from
Olympic National Park
(you can faintly see Victoria on far side)
Driving through Cascades on I-90
Sunday was driving day as we went across state to near Spokane.  The first hour or so was crossing the Cascade Mountains and after that it was low rolling farmland all the way across the state.  We are now near Cheney, WA until next week.

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