Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia Buchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia Birch Bay, Washington Vancouver, British Columbia Vancouver, British Columbia Seattle Space Needle, Washington  The Black Ball Ferry Our ride to Seattle!

Yet Another Adventure . . .

And so begins the 3rd of our "Anniverary" Trips. It is our 35th Anniversary this year. The date was June 26 but like all the other Anniverary trips our travel usually does not happen on or even near the date of our anniversary. We just go when the mood strikes us. ;-)

The decision to visit the Northwest U.S. was pretty simple. My wife, Dot, said she wanted to go see Buchart Gardens and that was it. One simple, but direct, suggestion and yours truly just ran with it.  Of course it wasn't enough to JUST do Buchart Gardens.   After throwing out a dozen or so suggestions of what to do while in the great Northwest, we settled on three weeks, and 3 different destinations:  a cruise to Alaska; a week in Victoria, BC (home to Butchart Gardens), and a few days visiting Vancouver and Whistler, BC.

So we started planning by looking for a cruise.  It took several weeks of searching the internet before I found what looked to be a very reputable company, with fairly competitive pricing.  I sent a message to Cruise Experts through their website and eventually got a call from Heather. Very nice and had some great suggestions for cruises. We finally settled on Princess, one because of a recommendation from a friend from work, and two, because they had the lowest port charges of any cruise line. We spent less than $800 per person for the cruise and they included $30 on board credit!

We made our deposit and locked in the cruise price in late January 2011 and then set about getting our timeshare condo in Victoria for the week following the cruise. The property is next to the harbor and right in the middle between the Ferry port and the Cruise port. The only down side was that they only have two bedrooms, no one bedrooms or studios and so we had a spare room but there were no added charges for it. We added a second condo for 4 days in Birch Bay, WA. following our visit to Victoria, BC. It is right next to the U.S./Canadian border and so we can now spend a few days visiting Vancouver. Yea! Olympic Torch here we come!

The airlines are a fickle bunch these days, and are in a constant state of change. Now that they are charging for every little thing you do, travel to just about anywhere has gotten truly expensive. That is unless you catch a lucky break, which we seem to have done.  One of the airlines decided to have a 40th birthday celebration and cut their fares by 40%.  Of course to be competitive, all the rest did the same and while we ended up not going the birthday airline, we, none the less, ended up with a great fare, but having to leave a day earlier than planned.  Better to extend the vacation than to shorten it, I always say!

We spent the rest of the summer picking our excursions while on our cruise, and shopping for rain gear. The Northwest is well known for it's cloudy skies and rain but even so, it felt a little strange to be shopping at REI for rain gear on a weekend in July when the temps hit the low 100's! But God smiled on us once more and we got some really good prices for being "out of season".

We made plans to meet a few former Sacramentans who now call Seattle home, we secured our travel between Victoria Á Seattle and rented a car for our travels into Canada. All in all it was a pretty good planning session. Finally, the last week of August arrived and it was nearly time to leave. We hadn't been on vacation for a year and a half and so we were ready!

We were just a couple weeks away from sailing from Seattle when we found out that you could petition the cruise line to adjust your itinerary. At the time I was trying to secure round-trip passage on one of the ferries that go from Seattle to Victoria. The ship would dock in Seattle early Sunday morning and we needed to move to Victoria, and eventually, back. Since the cruise stopped in Victoria the night before, it made perfect sense to, well, get off in Victoria.

So I got on the phone, secured the extra night at the timeshare we needed and then called our agent and told her of our plans. Whoa, she said, it's not that easy, especially this close to the sailing date. But she filed the required petition with Princess and with less than a week to go, we finally got the approval to get off our cruise early.

There are only two ferries that travel from Washington State to Victoria, BC. One goes into the Seattle area, the other goes to Port Angeles. The one into the Seattle area is a 3 hour crossing and only runs twice a day. The other is 90 minutes and crosses four times day. The costs are based on the trip and so we opted for the ferry that goes to Port Angeles. One-way tickets for the both of was only $33 but we had to secure transportation from Port Angeles back to the airport. That took a little work as very few of the shuttles travel that far north and still service the airport. Rocket Transportation turned out to be the choice we made. It was $56 per person and would probably be direct to the airport depending on the passengers. Finally all our plans were complete and we were ready to travel.

To follow our adventure at sea, click on this link "A Princess Cruise" and set sail with us as we travel to the 49th state in the Union, Alaska!

Our Cruise Ship, Sapphire Princess The Atrium of our Cruise Ship KetchiKan, Alaska Totem Bight State Park, Ketchikan, Alaska The glacier at Tracy Arm Fjord The Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska Skagway, Alaska White Pass & Yukon Railroad, Skagway, Alaska The Cruise Port in Victoria, BC