Monthly Archives: September 2014

While some may have been content to walk around taking in the scenery around Whistler and/or enjoying a sleeve of beer on the balcony while bird watching, I got a little adventurous. It must have been that big breakfast we had with our nephew Chris in Vancouver after we “debarked”. Between debarking and deplaning, I just don’t know any more.Rob - Whistler Mtn - 28 Sept 2014Whistler Village from the mountainYou can’t see properly behind the door of the gondola going up the mountain, but that’s me and my bike heading up to do the descent down one of the more difficult tracks on the mountain bike layout here at Whistler.bikes on the gondola

I managed to get to the bottom unscathed and ready to haul the bike up the mountain again. Tomorrow bungee jumping is on the cards. Either that, or we’ll head over to Victoria on Vancouver Island.Mountain biking down the track

In the meantime, the beautiful weather keeps following us around. And does anyone know what this bird is?

PS This is a jay that goes by the name of Clark’s Nutcracker. Thanks Deb Reynolds!

unknown bird - Whistler 1


Regional map

For the cartographically minded among you, I give you an extract from this Juneau to Porcupine River map (per Skagway Museum). Please note I apparently have a canal named after me.

Whale territory - 23 Sept 2014

If the whales hadn’t shown up, the surrounding landscape in and around the Gastineau Channel might well have been sufficient compensation. Yet killer whales did show up. This particular one was captured by Rob Walsh. Here’s some humpback whale tail activity from the afternoon whale watch under clear blue skies. Somewhat closer than the sightings we had from Stradbroke Island three weeks ago. Magic!

Killer whale - Juneau whale watching - RHW - 23 Sept 2014

Tail dive 2 - 23 Sept 2014

Tail dive - Juneau 23 Sept 2014


Whale tails 1

In the late afternoon, we visited the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier 1 - reflections




It was game day on Sunday, not that you would have noticed travelling in from the airport hotel precinct on the light rail. It was up close and personal with all the fans heading to the stadium.

Game day - Seahawks v Broncos - 21 Sep 2014

We found some time before we boarded a VERY BIG BOAT to revisit Pike Place Market on a day when the bluest skies you’ve ever seen were actually in Seattle.

Pike Place Market - neon fish sign - 20 Sept 2014

Pike Place Market - fruit stall - 21 Sep 2014

Dahlias - 20 Sept 2014 - Worn Pop 17

We left the Space Needle behind and headed out into Puget Sound in the late afternoon and enjoyed a special dinner in the French restaurant on board for our wedding anniversary (courtesy of someone who made the booking some time ago). Sweet!

Seattle skyline panorama - 20 Sep 2014

Anniversary dinner - Le Bistro - NCL - 21 Sep 2014




This is us enjoying our last morning in Portland, Oregon. The city turned on another warm sunny day as if to order. We enjoyed breakfast at Lovejoy Bakery with Ann Marie and Skip and walked it off on a river and bridge walk. Thank you both for your hospitality. It was great to meet up and we very much appreciated your company.

Portland portrait - 20 Sep 2014

Bridge and river walk 2 - Portland - 20 Sep 2014Bridge and river walk - Portland 20 Sep 2014

I couldn’t resist grunging up this one.

Bridge and river walk - 20 Sep 2014

Then it was on to AMTRAK’s Cascades afternoon train to Seattle. We passed underneath the twin Tacoma Narrows Bridges and arrived at the freshly renovated King Street Station.

There’s a big American Football game on tomorrow between the Seattle Seahawks, current Super Bowl champions, and the Denver Broncos. We’re staying out at the airport where even in this precinct, hotel rooms are hard to find tonight. We’ll be navigating our way into the city before the game and are looking forward to being a part of the pre-game atmosphere as we head in to board a ship bound for Alaska. Ginny, we’ll wave towards Whidbey Island on the way out of the Sound.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Cascade Train - 20 Sep 2014King St Station - Seattle - 20 Sep 2014

Some travel days are but a compilation of snippets, drop in moments punctuated only by the form of transportation that takes you to the next.

Thanks to some favourite Portland places put forward by friends, these are the moments from today. Oblation Press & Papers, Powell’s Books, Isabel in the Pearl District for lunch and the Japanese Gardens in Washington Park for the afternoon stroll.

Midst all that, I have to thank the lovely Laura from French Cut Hair for cutting my still short post-chemo hair today. As it was my first hairdresser visit for over six months, I’m putting this down as my very own personal highlight of today.

Oblation Papers and PressTypewriters at Oblation Papers & PressPowells Book storeisabel for lunch - Portland 19 Sept 2014French Cut HairCranes - Japanese Garden - Portland 20 Sept 2014Raked garden - Japanese Garden - Portland 20 Sept 2014

The Howl Room - Crystal Hotel Portland - Sep 2014 - Allen Ginsberg

We are staying in the Howl Room of the most eclectic Crystal Hotel where Allen Ginsberg’s influence reigns. This evening we got into the Ginsberg spirit on the way home from dropping off some laundry (needs must) with some ale at Tilt and a shared bottle of Reisling with our meal in the Zeus Cafe attached to this establishment.

Tilt - Portland - 18 Sept 2014

Edgefield White Riesling - Zeus Cafe - 18 Sept 2014

Crystal Hotel - Portland - 18 Sep 2014

After an early morning flight from San Francisco, we settled in with a walk along the Willamette River and captured some bridge and geese action. We also had a successful excursion to Union Station where we bought a train ticket to Seattle for Saturday afternoon.

We have a full day here in Portland tomorrow and a rich list of suggestions and referrals of what to see from those who have gone before us. 🙂  Watch this space for the Friday report.

bridge girders - Portland - 18 Sep 2014Canadian goose - Portland 18 Sep 2014Geese feeding - park - Portland - 18 Sep 2014

As an aside, tomorrow sees the release of Apple’s iPhone 6. These campers were ensconced outside the store before lunch time today.

Apple Store queue - iPhone 6 - 18 Sept 2014

Dear Tony

Please forgive the informality. I feel like we should be on first name terms.

Thank you very much for The Layover program, in particular the San Francisco edition, where you alerted us to the existence of the Swan Oyster Depot. Our lunch today was the perfect intermission in our day, sandwiched as it was between a stunning morning walk along the California Coastal Trail and an afternoon ferry ride across the Bay.

The hour in line to join the counter was well worth the wait. We started with a cold Anchor Steam Beer to accompany a mixed dozen of the freshest oysters which we watched being shucked. Then it was on to a cracked cold crab which was equally delectable. We were made to feel very welcome and all of our requests were met with good humour. Despite the growing queue outside, there was no pressure on anyone to rush their meal. It was a wonderful experience.

We ended the day with pasta from Uncle Vito’s which, while most enjoyable, could not begin to match the sheer pleasure and entertainment that we found on Polk Street.

Yours most gratefully.

Golden Gate Bridge - morning Coastal Walk - 17 Sept 2014

Golden Gate Bridge 2 - 17 Sept 2014Cliff House - 17 Sep 2014Swan Oyster Depot - waiting in line

Swan Oyster Depot wall menuSwan Oyster Depot - schucking our oystersSF Skyline

The squirrel sighting was a bonus. This photograph is offered up for those who are easily distracted.


You forget how steep the hills are in San Francisco until you need to walk them. San Francisco hill climbs

September San Francisco sky and hill climbs

This afternoon was the kind of Spring activity you have after you’ve both agreed that, after being awake for 24 hours, sleep is the sensible option. Then the need for food arises, and wins.

pear and goat cheese salad at Estela's Sandwich Shop Bush Street SF

And of course, it really is a good idea to get out into the sunshine for a melatonin fix to adjust more quickly to the time zone, so we can go to bed on West Coast USA time and not still be 18 hours ahead on the body clock. Today’s walk steered clear of the hot spots, as will tomorrow. No Fisherman’s Wharf, no Alcatraz, no cable car rides. Just a steady reconnaissance around downtown and Chinatown.

The stop off at Lori’s Diner was to charge up for the hill climb back to our digs. I ordered a chocolate malt and forgot to say no cream.  This might well have been considered impolite as the server was very keenly pitching every kind of extra calorie boost to her customers. I worked around the problem.

Marquards Cigar Store - San FranciscoFacade and fire escape 1 - San FranciscoLori's Diner - exterior - San FranciscoLori's Diner interior - San Francisco

A short rest break then it was out for a quick Chinese meal, having clocked up 32 hours of nothing but the odd short doze. It was a relatively painless excursion across the ocean and through airport processes. A good start to the trip.

City Chopsticks - San FranciscoEggplant - City Chopsticks SF

A koala sighting is pretty special. It’s even more so when the SECOND koala you see is in the mood for sitting for a photograph.

If not for the fact that I alerted some bike-riding visitors from Yorkshire to the first one (curled up and sleeping), I wouldn’t have known this one was about. One of the women kindly rode back to alert me to its presence.

In other morning walk news, there was a blue kingfisher on the shoreline quite a way out of good range. And the lorikeets are still feeding on the eucalypt blossoms.

Koala - 13 Sept 2014

koala 2 - 13 Sep 2014koala 3 - 13 Sept 2014

Lorikeet feeding - 13 Sept 2014

kingfisher - 13 Sep 2014