Saturday, August 2, 2014

Alaska and the Yukon - The Trip North

Saturday, July 5
Atascadero to Redding, CA

We got up early this morning and were on the road by 8:00.  This had to be one of the easiest drives we have ever had up Interstate 5 as there was little traffic and almost no trucks.  I guess traveling on the middle day of a three day weekend is a good thing.  Our destination for the night was Redding, CA and we were there just after 3:00.  Val had noticed there was a casino in town and since we had time to kill and we can never resist a chance to gamble, we decided to check it out.  It is called the Win River Casino and is not too large, but its biggest feature for us was that it is smoke free.  I went through my allotted gambling money pretty fast, but Val actually had some luck, but in the end she left empty handed too.  We did have a good time and by the time we finished it was time for dinner.  Val had asked the front desk person at the hotel to recommend a Mexican restaurant and she suggested Casa Ramos so we decided to try it out.  It was a large restaurant and very busy; we thought the food was OK, but not great.  After dinner it was back to the hotel, tomorrow we have another long drive to Vancouver, WA.

Sunday, July 6
Redding to Vancouver, WA

We had another long drive today so we were up early again and after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we were on the road just after 8:00.  It was apparent right off that there was a lot more trucks on the road than yesterday so it didn’t look like today’s drive was going to be as easy as yesterday’s.  Traffic was still not too bad until we got into Oregon where it got heavier and heavier.  It was the last day of a three day holiday weekend so everyone was headed home.  As we drove up through the Willamette Valley on I-5 in Oregon we had several lengthy traffic delays because of accidents and general slowing just because of the number of cars on the road.  Even with the delay we were in our room before 5:00 not too bad.

We were staying in Vancouver, Washington tonight at a Homewood Suites that is right across the street from the Columbia River so after the 102 degree F temperature we had in Redding yesterday we were looking forward to cooling off a bit.  Unfortunately when we arrived we found we would only be cooling off just a bit as it was in the 90’s and felt very hot.  After getting settled and relaxing a bit we decided to walk over to the Columbia River and walk along the river and explore the area.  Our walk didn’t last too long as it was just too hot.  We thought about eating at one of the several inviting looking restaurants along the River Walk, but we had had a late lunch and weren’t really that hungry.  We ended up stopping at a deli across from the hotel and just getting a couple of sandwiches to bring back with us.

The River Walk along the Columbia River.  That's the bridge from Portland to Vancouver, WA in the background.

Tomorrow should be an easier day as we have a shorter drive time and hopefully the traffic will be lighter.  We will be crossing the border into Canada and staying in Vancouver, BC as we are nearing the start of our Alaska / Yukon tour.

Monday, July 7
Vancouver, WA to Vancouver, BC

We got our wish for cooler weather this morning as we woke up to overcast skies.  As much as I like sunshine and blue skies, it was nice to get away from the heat.  After a good breakfast at the hotel we were on the road around 9:00.  I have to say that the Homewood Suites was a nice place to stay.  Our room was a real suite with a bedroom, living room and a full kitchen, the grounds were very nice with great amenities and the service was excellent.  We drove up through Washington with moderately light traffic and overcast skies.  The drive was beautiful through forests and rivers; I had forgotten how nice the drive on I-5 was through Oregon and particularly Washington.  North of Seattle we stopped for an excellent lunch at Boondockers in the town of Marysville.  Val had worked with the owner in a restaurant forty years ago when she was a waitress and he was a busboy while going to Cal Poly.  Through Facebook they reconnected and have kept in touch, but have not seen each other in all those years.
Soon we were at the Canadian border where we had to wait about a half an hour to get through customs and then we were on way into Vancouver BC.  We were staying at the Fairmont Hotel at the airport that turned out to be built over the International Terminal.  We chose this hotel because this is where our tour starts and we have reservations provided by Holland America tomorrow night.  The hotel is quite nice and the room is roomy with a nice view of the airport and the Strait of Georgia.  After settling in and getting cleaned up we decided to walk around the terminal just to see what was there and see what our dinner options were.  There were a lot of shops and places to eat besides all the airline check-in desks so our walk took a while.  After going back to the room and relaxing for a while we went back to the terminal to eat and then called it a night.

Tomorrow will be a free day for us and we plan on exploring Vancouver a bit before we start our official Holland America tour on Wednesday.

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