The Pacific Northwest


In classic me fashion, I’m updating about a trip three days before going on another one.  My apologies.  Awhile ago I took a short but lovely trip to the Pacific Northwest.  It happened to be great timing – Michael was in Asia and could meet me there for a week, flights were cheap, and friends were plenty.

I had never been to the Northwest before, but I just had this inkling that it would be a place I would fall in love with.  I like drizzly rain and gray days (the perfect running weather!). I love the mountains and craggly shores. I thoroughly enjoy Canadian accents, coffee is something I drink every day, and microbreweries are as common as Wawas. Plus, I’m pretty happy eating local sustainable food.  What could be better?

The answer to that question is DONUTS.  Donuts make it better.  I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts once in awhile kinda gal, but I’m never too crazy over a donut.  They are what they are:  fat and sometimes stale circles of sugar!sugar!sugar!CRASH.  Well in the Northwest they are fluffy yeast risen blobs of dough, glazed with things as simple as chocolate and as gimicky as lemon poppy seed.  So while I post about each city we visited, I’ll have to also discuss the donuts we ate there.  And we ate A LOT of donuts.

Vancouver, Canada

I arrived in Vancouver on a Sunny Sunday afternoon, and headed to our friends’ house in the East Hastings neighborhood.  Matt, Charlie (the cat) and Landon live in the top floor of a house, across the street from warehouses where they shoot films and television series that belong on channels like the CW.  We witnessed one such filming for a show, which I believe is called Arrow, while sitting on the stoop drinking the Canadian version of PBR.  It was windy and cold but we had the perfect view of the downtown skyline.  That was on Monday though.

I'm the cat whisperer.

On Sunday, Matt and I headed to the Commercial Drive neighborhood in east Vancouver and nommed at the Dime – a new pub/restaurant offering all food items for $4.95 (Canadian dollars, of course).  For $4.95 I got an amazing veggie burger with all of the fixings, including avocado slices, and a side of fries.  I know it sounds suspicious.  And I expected the burger and fries to be miniscule, but it was absolutely quality.  I couldn’t even finish it all!  Add a few OK Springs 1516 Bavarian Lagers and I was an estatic tourist.  Not to mention the Caesar I had, which is a Canadian version of a Bloody Mary.  Why is it called a Caesar?  No idea.  It’s made with clamato (clam+tomato) juice instead of plain V8.

We walked around the Commercial Drive neighborhood, picked up some sweet corn from a man selling it out of his van, and headed back to the house to meet up with Landon.  Jet lagged I promptly went to bed at 9:30.

The next day I explored downtown Vancouver by taking the bus all the way down East Hastings to West Hastings.  My favorite way to discover a city is to walk it with a map in my back pocket.  I’ll go until I’m pretty lost and then find my way back.  My goals that Monday were to eat some food truck snacks, check out the Granville Island Market, and walk through as many neighborhoods as possible.

When I got off at West Hastings and Burrard, I decided to hunt down the Fresh, Local, Wild Food truck.  When asked what I wanted to order,  I took a page from Michael’s book and asked the guy what his favorite was:  Salmon Fish and Chips.  His description of “There’s just something about it that I can’t get enough of…” sold me, so that’s what I ordered.  So. Happy. I. Listened.  I’m not a big fried food person, quite frankly it usually makes me sick, but the batter was lighter than expected and you could tell the oil was fresh AND at the right temperature.  (The things you learn working on a pizza truck!)

I walked off my lunch by heading down Burrard street and crossed the bridge into Seaforth Peace Park.  It was a beautiful walk – the mountains peeking (or peaking, heh heh heh) just outside of West Vancouver and over the English bay is a breathtaking sight.  The mountains in the distance paired with the bobbing boats reminded me a bit of Oban, Scotland, where the picture at the top of my blog is from.

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Anyway, I decided to go Granville Island to check out the market since I’m a market fiend and Grammy recommended it, and discovered there’s a bunch of little shops and eateries surrounding the market as well.  I quickly lost track of time perusing the shops and gazing at heaps of fresh local fruit and veggies in the market.

I picked up Michael from the airport and we did the beer/CW/citysites thing for a bit before we headed to Landon’s place of work:  Foundation.  It’s a vegetarian “lounge” in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood that serves awesome veg fare and tasty brews in mason jars.  They’re known for their nachos, which cost $18 and come out on a plate twice the size of my torso, with ALL of the works: sour cream, salsa, guac, jalapenos, and whatever the special is that night, if you request it.  After looking into the reviews of Foundation, apparently people aren’t thrilled with the service.  And maybe if we were rushing in to eat and then bust a move, the service would be considered slow.  But I think it’s known as a lounge for a reason, and that reason is that it’s a casual place run by casual people who aren’t interested in rushing you out the door so they can get another table for another tip.  The food was great and we were there for the long haul to catch up with old friends, so yea.  But if you’re the type of person to freak out over not receiving your water within two minutes of entering a joint, you probably shouldn’t eat here.

Tuesday Michael and I headed to Lynn Canyon park to check out the suspension bridge and do a short hike.  It’s about a fifteen minute drive North of the city and worth it if you’re a big nature person.  It was cold, but beautiful up there, and I thoroughly enjoyed the crazy crystal clear water we came upon with a tiny little water fall.  I SLICED MY FINGER OPEN on the suspension bridge railing and so we had to hunt for a band-aid.  The forest rangers office gave me a plastic, which is what they’re called outside of American (which I clearly forgot), and we called it quits.

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We headed back to the city for the afternoon, so I could show Michael the Granville Island bit.  We walked around the city for awhile before deciding a nap was CRUCIAL if we were going to make it into the evening festivities.  I ate poutine for dinner, which, ew.  I think I need a second experience with poutine because while it was good, it made me feel awful.  We went back to the Dime that night for some more catch-up with friends and exhaustedly made it an early night – our bus to Seattle left the airport at 8:30 am the next day.  We said our goodbyes and passed out.

Wednesday morning had us up at 6am to catch our bus.  It was a pretty great way to travel, and customs weren’t much of a hassle.  Next up, SEATTLE!

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