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By Katherine Kiang
KaTsZoNe Newsletters > KaTsZoNe - Issue 11 - My Trip to the West Coast

1 Oct 2005

   Issue 11                                                  By Katherine Kiang                                             October 1, 2005

My Trip To The West Coast

Back from the west coast!  I loved every minute of it!!!

Honestly, when my plane lifted off from Toronto, I thought, I’m going to miss T.O.  And, when we were about to land at Vancouver Airport, the view of the mountains and the water made me all excited, and I thought, “Gosh, mountains and water.  What’s not to love???”

Victoria, B.C.

I travelled on Pacific Coach Lines from Vancouver, which takes you across to Vancouver Island via ferry, right to the bus depot in downtown VictoriaTracy met me there.  My first night, it was catching up – lots of girl talk – not surprisingly.  On Sunday, Tracy took me for a short hike at Goldstream Park, and then to Fisherman’s Wharf.  “Barb’s Place” down at Fisherman’s Wharf drew a crowd for fish and chips and other delightful seafood where picnic benches lined the boardwalk, right by several floating homes. 

I also met Brandon, Tracy’s roommate, on Sunday.  Both Tracy and Brandon were fabulous hosts and lots of fun to hang out with.  When I went back to Victoria after five days in Seattle, Tracy, Brandon and I went to Tracy’s friends’ (Carolyn and Reid) apartment located right across from the 200-acre Beacon Hill Park.  I took several pics in Beacon Hill Park (don’t have a digital camera, so, no original pics here to show).  I saw a blue heron (a bird gone grey) and also the world’s tallest totem pole (127 ft. 7 in.) built in 1956.  Beacon Hill Park is Mile 0 of the Trans Canada Highway which goes right across Canada to Newfoundland.  Tracy and I have travelled thousands of miles on the Trans Canada Highway to the west coast.  Another memorable trip indeed!


In 1858, the Fraser Valley Gold Rush caused the city to grow rapidly.  Woohoo – GOLD!  And, for most of the 19th century, Victoria was the largest city in B.C.

In the 20th century, Victoria has become mainly a city of government, retirement and tourism.  I have experienced the moderate climate, environment, and scenic setting and understand how this draws people to the Island

I did not do much sightseeing in Victoria.  It’s my second visit to the capital of B.C.  I appreciated the weather and the environment.  No coughing there - unlike during those smoggy days in T.O.

Once again I say, “Mountains and water – what’s not to love?”

Read more about Victoria at http://www.city.victoria.bc.ca/visitors/about_hist.shtml

Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

On September 12th, I flew to

Seattle with Kenmore Air.  It took approximately 45 minutes to reach from Victoria to Seattle; and about 35 minutes from Seattle to Victoria.  The Otter flies lower than other large commercial airlines, so, you just feel closer to the earth.  It was very exciting flying into Lake Union in Seattle.  Then, my five-day adventure began!

My hotel (Ramada Inn) was located in downtown Seattle – in fact, 5th Avenue is in a “ride free zone”, so, during “rush hour”, one can ride buses for free!  Well, I did not even take the commuter buses.  Just took my feet!

I loved Seattle!!!

I took four organized tours: 

1.  Bus Tour of Seattle - The bus drove about 50 miles within Seattle and to regions like West Seattle, Fremont and Magnolia Bluffs.  Some famous sights included Pikes Place Market (yeah, where the first Starbucks started, but, that’s not what it’s known for….of course), the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle, Experience Music Project, amusement parks are located).  What a fabulous 3 hour tour – yep, just sat right back and heard the tales….lol…but, we did not get stranded on a deserted isle – well, we could have been stranded on one of the floating bridges.  Even if I had a digital camera, there’d be too much to place in this newsletter!  So, one day, hope you will see my pics of the Space Needle (several of those), Experience Music Project (which houses the history of pop/jazz music), the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, Pikes Place Market and more.

2.  Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour – The tour guides were fabulous here.  My particular guide is from Dublin, Ireland.  She was hilarious.  What an interesting history of Seattle.  We were taken below today’s city streets and found ourselves in tunnels and buildings about one storey below the sidewalks.   One thing I learned is that Seattleittes had true resilience.  No wonder Seattle is the birthplace of many successful businesses which continue till this day including, American Messenger Company (1907) which became United Parcel Service (UPS), Boeing (1916), Eddie Bauer (1920), Starbucks (1971), Microsoft (1975), Cinnabon, Inc. (1985), and Amazon.com  (1995).    http://www.undergroundtour.com/

3.  Ride the Ducks – Hey, have you seen the Ride the Hippos in T.O.?  Well, instead of hippos, the ducks were quacking!  We had a really fun land and water tour on this formerly amphibious landing craft developed by the United States Army during World War II (it was called .  The water tour was on Lake Union where Kenmore Air’s seaplanes land.  We also saw the floating home used in the movie, “Sleepless In Seattle”, and of course, there were several more stories about floating homes.  But, that was not the end of my water tour – no indeed!  On the same day, I went on a harbour cruise on Lake Elliott.   http://www.ridetheducksofseattle.com/main.htm

4.  Argosy Cruise – Harbor Cruise (on Lake Elliott) – As if I had not taken enough pictures of the Space Needle, buildings in downtown Seattle, water, and sailboats – yes, more shots of those!  And, it was one way to take a distant photo of Starbucks Headquarters (yes!!!).  Well, I love being on the water.  Anything unusual about that, coming from a sea captain’s daughter?  No, I don’t think so.  Say cheese! [snap]    http://www.argosycruises.com/publiccruises/harbor.cfm


City of Seattle between Puget Sound and Lake Washington; downtown Seattle beside Elliott Bay; Lake Union near downtown.

Nicknames:  The Emerald City, Rainy City, Jet City, Gateway to Alaska, Queen City

Largest city in Pacific Northwest region of U.S.

Area:  369.2 km2

Population (2005):  estim. 573,000;

   metropolitan pop.: approx. 3.8 million

Climate: mild (avg. 5o in winter; 25o in summer) – What I call “perfect” weather. 


City of Toronto bounded by Lake Ontario (south), Etobicoke Creek & Hwy 427 (west), Steeles Ave. (north), and Rouge River (east).

Nicknames:  T.O., Hogtown, Toronto the Good, Hollywood North, Muddy York

Canada’s largest city.

Area:  641 km2

Population (2004): approx. 2.5 million;

Greater Toronto Area (GTA): approx. 5.2 million

Climate: Mildest in Can. east of Rocky Mt. Range (typical summer highs 25-32oC with high humidity; winters – what? Environment Canada’s WeatherOffice has been restructured – no facts online? Ok, Torontonians, it does get pretty c-c-c-cold, but, we shouldn’t complain compared to our other fellow Canadians.)  

I really enjoyed myself in
Seattle.  I didn’t know quite how to describe the city until I met someone who has also been to Seattle.  He said, Seattle is a large city but it feels like a small town.  Makes me think of the old t.v. show, “Cheers”, where the song said, “…where everybody knows your name”.  Okay, nobody actually called me by name in Seattle….lol…but, when I was at the first Starbucks at the famous Pike Place Market, instead of calling one’s drink by its name, they do ask the customer for his or her name and when the drink is done, they call the person’s name.  Maybe that’s why I thought of “Cheers”.  Anyway, I wish I had spent a few more days in Seattle.  I guess I was spoiled by good weather, lots of stores, great architecture, tons of history, and nice people everywhere I turned. 

Now that I’m back in T.O., I started to see new things in our city which I hadn’t noticed before.  For example, when I met my friend, Vicky, one day and we walked along King to Jarvis, I noticed the beautiful flowers by St. James Anglican Church.  We went to Second Cup and while standing at the corner of King and Jarvis, I noticed the old lamp posts.  It just reminded me of Pioneer Square area in Seattle.  And suddenly, I felt as though I was back in Seattle

Then, on another day, I was with my friend, Mina, and we were walking along Queen St. W. and when we were crossing University Ave., I noticed the fountains and statues – and boy, I wish I had my camera!  University reminded me of Burrard St. in Vancouver – except no Denny’s …. (oh, I could definitely go for a Tilapia fish dinner at Denny’s again, right about now!)

So, where did I leave off?

After my trip to Seattle, I flew back to Victoria by Kenmore Air.  I took a city tour of Victoria which started in front of the Empress Hotel.  I spent the weekend in Victoria with Tracy, Brandon and also met up with Tracy’s friends, Carolyn and Reid.

Vancouver, B.C.

Because the Seattle Aquarium was closed for renovations while I was there, I spoke to Tracy about the Vancouver Aquarium – which she said was fabulous.  Oh, well, I guess I could go to Vancouver.  I called the Ramada Inn on Granville in downtown Vancouver (since I already stayed at one in Seattle).  So, packed my bags and Tracy drove me to the bus depot where I got on Pacific Coach Lines (again), but, instead of heading for the airport, I ended up at the Vancouver bus depot on Monday, September 19.  I didn’t know how much I could see in less than half a day, but, I ended up in Historic Gastown (with the famous steam clock on the sidewalk), Chinatown and Pacific Centre.  Well, once I saw Roots, HBC, etc. I knew I was back in Canada.  I saw a familiar shop! card advertised – hey, Cadillac Fairview – it was like I was in the Toronto Eaton Centre.  Hmmm….

Did I make it to the Vancouver Aquarium (http://www.vanaqua.org/home/)?  You betcha!  The next day, I walked to Stanley Park – got on a horse & carriage ride around the park, went to the Vancouver Aquarium.  I especially loved the beluga whales and the otters!  There was also a neat presentation by a large glass aquarium where we were all educated about fish, octopus and other sea life.  Then, I walked out of Stanley Park and hurried to see Storyeum in Gastown. 

Storyeum tells the story of B.C.  We, the audience, were taken underground, beneath the city streets, using a massive lift.  We had a tour guide who took us through seven historic passages.  We would sit and listen to each story and then walked and followed the tour guide to the other sets.  The first set started with the belief of the Tsleil-Waututh people about the first man and woman.  The story then takes us to the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Trading ships, the building of a transcontinental railway, the WWII troops returning on the train, and finally, we end the journey on the lift viewing a 42 ft. high, 360o screen showing modern day, multicultural B.C.  The story is told through words and songs.  It was simply fabulous!  I even got teary-eyed when we were going up the lift – stories of Terry Fox, Rick Hansen, and many others, along with the music, was so inspiring.   I think what really got to me was the people’s stories and how they invited us to come to B.C. – to live!   http://www.storyeum.com/

Well, on my plane trip back to T.O., I sat beside a self-employed businessman.  We chatted about where we had been.  He said his son (and family) lived north of Seattle.  He was headed out to Halifax.  He asked me where I was from and where I’d like to live – strange question, I would think.  I said, I would love to move to B.C.  I told the gentleman that I visited Victoria and Vancouver; but, actually, I really loved Seattle.  Well, when we were parting ways, he said, “I hope you find your spot in B.C.” 

“Ah…mountains and water, what’s not to love?”


Love KK