What to do when visiting the Pacific Northwest

The next time you're planning a trip, you might want to consider the Pacific Northwest which has plenty to see, taste and experience for the whole family and of course is an excellent way to escape the Bakersfield heat.  In late July my family and I spent a few days in Seattle, Washington before took a cruise on Princess Cruises to Alaska and Canada.  
 
 
 
Seattle, Washington
When in a plane coming down to Seattle you see numerous small lakes and bodies of water surrounded by trees and then you will not miss the wondrous 14,410 ft. (www.nps.gov/mora/faqs.htmsnow-capped Mt. Rainier.  You get the view above the mountain and then as you come closer to ground level you see how tall and wide it is.  
 
“The Emerald City" is a beautiful town full of greenery, bushes, tress and flowers in pots everywhere you look.  The city has a charming feel, almost European-like.  The people are very friendly and always happy to give advice or directions.  They’re very kind and polite, not rude.  Homeless people cover the streets in downtown Seattle.  Take the Hispanic population in Bakersfield and turn that to Asian and that’s what it’s like in Seattle.  
 
It feels like it’s San Francisco in a forest, because there are trolleys on hilly streets, it’s close to the coast and has a fish markets and it has trees and mountains surrounding it.
 
 
 
-Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
According to, undergroundtour.com,  the Undergound tour is a 75-minute tour “through intriguing subterranean storefronts and sidewalks entombed when the city rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889.”  
You start at Doc Maynard’s Public House, then go to Pioneer Square (Seattle’s birthplace), then you go underground for a look a the buried city, undergroundtour.com.
As you walk from the tour meeting place to the underground tour the tour guide shows you other notable spots in Seattle, such as Seattle’s oldest coffee house, Café Allegro, Off Ramp Café, where the grunge band Pearl Jam got their start .
There are pictures underground of what the underground city looked like in the 1800s before and after it became underground.  There is even a spot today here people have gotten married by tour guides.  Equipment, tools, machinery and children’s toys from the 1800s can all be seen.   
 
 
-Pike Place Market
"Original Starbucks Coffee at Pike Place Market in Seattle"
 
The world famous Pike Market Place in Seattle is the “Grand Bazaar” if you will of  Seattle, they have a Farmer’s Market, vendors selling scarfs, paintings, and other things, street musicians and magicians, the original Starbucks Coffee shop, Beecher's Handmade Cheese restaurant, seafood restaurants, the Market Theater Gum Wall and the world famous fish markets were fresh King salmon, Sockeye Salmon and more are sold.
Yes, there was even a store at Pike Market Place that had a sign which read, “Pokemon Go in here!”
 
We ate at Pike Place Bar & Grill.  The Beer Battered Fish (Halibut) and Chips was very delicious.  It had good flavor and was cooked well.  The portion was good as well.
 
 -Experience Music Project Museum
The Experience Music Project Museum truly has something for all ages. 
 
In the center of the museum is the “Sky Church:  The Big Screen”.  It looks like an IMAX movie theater screen.  We watched the entire thirteen-minute music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. 
 
We went to some exhibits they were having during that time.  These three exhibits were all about the role of music in different movie genres.  The exhibits were, “Fantasy:  Worlds of Mytch and Magic, “Can’t Look Away:  The Lure of Horror Film” and “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction”.  Each exhibit has videos you can watch about commentary on the music in that genre and the history of the music in that genre.  Costumes, memorabilia and interactive tech experiences engage the whole family.
 
Some exhibits that are there year round that we saw were, “Nirvana:  Taking Punk To The Masses”, and “We Are 12”.  The Nirvana exhibit gives info, song samples, pictures, clothes and guitars of the Aberdeen, Washington-native 80-90s Grunge band.  “We Are 12” shows pictures, information, memorabilia and videos of the Seattle Seahawks football team’s history and run as Super Bowl champions in 2014.
 
 
-Space Needle
"Space Needle at Sunset"
 
The Seattle icon is a must see.  With the summer crowds expect a long wait without a reservation.  When we tried to get tickets we were told we would have to wait in line for two hours, so we decided to buy tickets for the next night.  We bought tickets for 6:30PM, which was perfect for seeing downtown Seattle with sunlight and at night after sunset.  You can see Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field, Mt. Rainier and much more.   There is big gift shop at the bottom of the Space Needle full of Space Needle and Seattle and of course Seahawk souvenirs.  In the line on the way up to the elevator to go up to the top you pass by pictures and facts and history on the 1962 construction and past of the Space Needle.  The Space Needle has an inner observation deck with windows and a café, and an outer observation deck with cameras and telescopes.  The café has a wonderful Macchiato.  You can scan your Space Needle ticket at the camera, take a picture with the view in the background, go inside, scan your ticket at the computer and email the picture to yourself.  When on the outer deck you see selfie sticks galore and when you ask people to take your picture you’ll hear accents from all over the country and the world.       
 
 
Juneau, Alaska 
-Mendenhall Glacier
"Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Creek Falls in Juneau, AK"
 
Our only pit stop here was the Mendenhall Glacier.  The glacier is in Tongass National Forest.  You can take a boat to the glacier in Mendenhall Lake and hike on the glacier if you want.  Others go whale watching in the lake.  We took the Photo Point Trail 1.3 mile (Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center) hike and got direct pictures of the glacier and then took the two mile (Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center) hike to Nugget Falls.  Nugget Falls is a beautiful, gushing three-hundred and seventy-seven foot waterfall, feet away from the glacier.
 
In the Visitor’s Center the educational video "Landscape of Change" gives you the interesting history of the glacier.  You learn about how it has been melting for years and what the endangered species are.  
 
We saw the head of a bear in the field on the bus ride back.  The tour guide said Alaska has types of bears, the black bear, which will chase you up a tree, the brown bear (grizzly), which will shake the tree you climb up and a polar bear, which will chase you in areas that don’t have trees.  The tour guide told us about the types of salmon in Alaska, which the locals remember by each finger on your hand.  You have the “Chum”, like your thumb, the “Sockeye”, for your index finger which you would poke your eye with, the “King” for your biggest, (middle) finger, the “Silver’ for your ring finger and lastly the “Pink” for your pinkie.
 
Skagway, Alaska
When you take a cruise you naturally stop at ports that have strips of stores.   On Broadway St. in Skagway you’ll walk by many different food options, a theater and stores with clothes, landscape pictures, jewelry, etc...  
 
 
-Sled Dog Adventure  
"Alaskan Husky Dogsled ride in Skagway, AK"
 
The three and one fourth hour tour (including driving) takes you away from the port and civilization and to the isolated woods, filled with the beautiful native Sykes Spruce trees.  Our tour guide told us that we were going to the biggest musher camp in Alaska and that it is so far away from any town because the musher camp has three-hundred and twelve Alaskan husky Iditarod racing dogs and once one dog barks at night you'll have hundreds of dogs barking before you know it.  So, if the dogs were any closer to a town people would have a challenging time getting consistent sleep.  The drive from the port to the musher camp takes about forty-five minutes. 
 
Two-hundred and seventy-five of the dogs were adult.  "Most of the dogs out here are veterans and the ones that aren't are training to be," Adventure Guide, Garrett Newman said.
 
All of the dogs that pull the sleds are training for the Iditarod race.  Newman said this year 85 teams of 16 dogs will compete in the Iditarod race, and that to qualify they need 700 miles of Alaska miles in other races or pay the 3,000 entrance fee.
 
Once you make it up the steep incline drive to the musher camp you see the energetic, athletic Alaskan huskies tied up in pairs in groups of 16.  The huskies pull your sled which has five people and the musher.  
 
The dogs go for about a mile or two and then the musher gives them a break.  Beckie Hacker, our musher and professional Iditarod musher told us the fast dogs are in the front of the pack.  The older dogs, slower dogs are towards the back.  All of Beckie's dogs were between two-four years old.
 
Beckie said the dogs were sprinting six to seven miles per hour and in the Iditarod they run eight to ten miles per hour.
 
Not only is the ride fun and enjoyable seeing the Alaska huskies in their element all working together but you really get a taste of Alaska culture and history seeing this Iditarod training and the beauty of the Alaska mountains.
 
After the ride you get a "kennel talk" from one of the dog sled employees about the history and info of the Iditarod race and the Alaska huskies that race in it.
 
Next is the popular part of the excursion, the puppy meet and greet.  You can pet and hold three month old Alaskan Huskies in one area and see them run in a dig-sized "hamster wheel" and then hold the tiny cute one month old Alaskan Husky puppies.  The puppies fall asleep in your arms and visitors get tempted to sneak a puppy home with them in the jacket.  Alaskan Huskies probably don't look like what you picture when you think of a husky.  You probably think of a beautiful gray and white wolf-like animal with piercing blue eyes.  Alaskan huskies are mixed breeds with several breeds, such as huskies, shepherds and more.  
 
This tour was enjoyable because it not only gives you a look at the past of Alaska but also a current look at the culture and way of life in Alaska.
 
 
Glacier Bay
We stopped at five large main glaciers.  You can see the different layers defined by different shades of white and blue.  Marilyn Garder from Dana Point, Ca said she went on an Alaskan cruise with her late husband twenty three years ago and that the difference from twenty years ago was astounding, "It was all white, covered in snow," Garder said.  "You couldn't see any rocks".  Today you see more of the rock and mountains than you do the snow.  
 
 
Ketchikan, Alaska
-Totem Polls in Tongass National Forest 
 
 
 
We took a tour bus to the Tongass National Forest to numerous totem polls in the beautiful Sykes Spruce-filled forest.  Our bus driver/tour guide told us these totem polls have to be continually kept up and re-painted.  Tlingit are the native Alaska Indian tribes that carved the famous totem polls.  After you walk by totem polls you enter through a "clam house" where tribes lived together.  Our tour guide told us the natives use the Cedar tree to carve totem polls and that rival tribes would push down each others totem polls.  Each totem poll has symbolism for the human or creature that is carved on the pole.  According yo our tour guide there are five different kinds of totem polls, 1) mortuary polls, 2) story polls, 3) house polls, 4) shame and ridicule and 5) honor polls
 
-The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show 
"Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, Log Climb"
 
 
If you can't get to Ketchikan, AK you can see this show right her in Bakersfield which comes to the Kern County Fair.  I have been to both shows, and the show in Bakersfield has elements of the show in Ketchikan, Al it's just on a smaller scale.  
 
"Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, Log Roll"
 
Before the show started I was picked as one of the audience members to hit a target with an axe.  I didn't win as it definitely hard than it looks.  The show puts two pairs of teams against each other in everything from log rolling competitions, to sawing competitions to target throwing competitions.  It's an entertaining show that involves the audience, uses humor and has something for people of any age.  A cute part that was in the show in Bakersfield that was also in the Ketchikan show is where a lumberjack makes a tiny wood seat carving that he gives to a lucky child in the audience.  This show has the types of challenges that you'll see on outdoor events on ESPN.  People of all generations, and from all locations and walks of life enjoy this show.
 
"Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, Saw Competition"
 
Our tour guide said you will see bears out looking for food on garbage day when the trash is out and also this time of year, the Summer months by the streams where the Sockeye Salmon lie dead after spawning season.  
 
The captain of our ship said Ketchikan is the wettest place in the United States.  Our tour guide said Ketchikan only sees the Sun 25 days a year.  We were fortunate to see the Sun, but then we got "liquid sunshine" as the tour guide called it, rain with sunshine.
 
 
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Victoria has more of the Seattle city, green, feel than the mountainous, isolated, outdoor Alaskas feel.  Gas is 1.12 per liter.  Our tour guide told us to multiply that by 4.5 to get the U.S. price.  
 
-Butterfly Gardens
"Butterfly Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia"
 
This greenhouse has tropical plants, flowers, many different kinds of butterflies, moths, caterpillars, cocoons, parrots, turtles, reptiles, fish and more.  Workers are there to show you the caterpillar and cocoon cases and answer questions you might have about the butterflies and other animals.  Have your cameras ready because you might find a butterfly has decided to take a rest on you.
 
 
-The Butchart Gardens 
The Butchart family owns 120 acres of land, which offers the world famous 55 acre Butchart Gardens of more than 900 types of flowers open to the public, according to butchartgardens.com.
 
The Butchart Gardens feels like a mix between Disneyland and Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, Ca, from the beautiful, colorful assortment of flowers, the different lands and that quaint 1900s feel.
 
The Butchart Gardens contains six gardens, the Sunken Garden, the Rose Garden, the Italian Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Mediterranean Garden and the Show Greenhouse.  All Gardens boast the unique flowers scents and colors to their particular style.  
 
The Sunken Garden has the picturesque seen of the circular path around different types of trees, bushes and of course flowers.  The English, Victorian style made me feel like I was in the Queen of Heart's garden from "Alice in Wonderland".  All the gardens were enjoyable and have something for everyone, but my favorite style was the Japanese Garden, which was complete with plenty pagodas and bonsai trees.
 
"Ross Fountain, The Butchart Gardens #1"
 
In the deepest part of the Sunken Gardens is Ross Fountain.  We arrived at the Butchart Gardens at nine o' clock at night, so the sun was going down when we were in the Sunken Garden.  The fountain would rise and fall and perform different patterns.  The fountain changed colors and resembled California Adventure's "World of Color".
 
"Ross Fountain, The Butchart Gardens #2"
 
Our ship didn't arrive at port until seven o' clock at night.  We went first to the Butterfly Gardens which was enjoyable, but because we decided to the excursion package that included the Butterfly Gardens and the Butchart Gardens, most of what we saw at the Butchart Gardens was in the dark, with a little bit of "under belly lighting".  If possible I recommend going to the Butchart Gardens early enough in the day when there enough light to fully enjoy all the colors of the flowers.
 
The Butchart Gardens also feature a life size chess set, three fountains, "The Star Pond", the "Piazza", "The Rose Carousel", a gift shop, a cafe, a coffee shop, an Italian gelato and sorbet creamery, two restaurants and totem polls.
 
Special events at the garden include concerts at the "Concert Lawn and Stage" and Fireworks shows every Saturday night with a "Fireworks Lawn" observing area.  
 
We were at the Butchart Gardens for an hour and one half, but if you really took your time to go to everywhere in the park, read the descriptions of the flower plaques, and take picture you could easily be there for three hours.

 

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