Birthday Trip – Vancouver, BC, to Astoria, OR

Blog entry 10/7 for Sunday, Sept 21.

For Ali’s birthday, I asked her to make a list of places she might like to see along the West Coast, and suggested that we drive down the Pacific Coast Highway (US 101 and CA 1) for the scenery. Well, her list included enough stuff for a two-week trip, but we only had a few days, so we had to skip some things. But we kept enough on the list to make the days interesting and to break up the drives from A to B to C to D.

Before we left Vancouver (in fact, our reason for visiting Vancouver in the first place), we went to see the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre. While we were there, they played “In Canada,” a song composed by Dave and Chris Hadfield, on the sound system. Chris was a commander on the International Space Station and sang a song on TV while there.


It’s a small place, and didn’t take us too long to see all the exhibits, as well as a planetarium show. The coolest thing from my point of view was their touchable moon rock specimen. It’s one of only five worldwide, and here I am *gasp* TOUCHING IT:


After we left the Space Centre, we drove around Vancouver for a bit, trying to positively identify what had been the Olympic Village for the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. There isn’t anything that we could find that said “You are now entering the Olympic Village,” but we saw enough clues (street names, some of the sports venues, etc.) to deduce that we were, indeed, driving around the Village. It’s now a private development project.

When we got done with the “Olympic Village Self-Guided Tour” we started back to the U.S. It didn’t take us nearly as long to get in as it took to get out, and then we were back on I-5, headed south toward Oregon. I was relying on my MapQuest “GPS” function to get me to Astoria, and had expected to take a particular route that I had mapped out. But it instead took me on an alternate route that hooked up with US 101 farther north of where I expected to link up. It was no big deal; I recognized the directions as those for the route I *hadn’t* originally selected. But instead of driving down the Columbia River valley and approaching Astoria from the east, we came down from the north and crossed the Columbia at Astoria. Ultimately, it didn’t make any difference either way, as the distances and driving times were almost identical, and by the time we got to southern Washington it was dark anyway, so we couldn’t see whatever scenery there was. We had a room in a nice motel right on the river, and when we unloaded the truck that night (and reloaded it the next morning), we heard the sea lions in the nearby marina. (This is an extreme telephoto shot I took the next morning.)


So we got ourselves back to the States and down to Oregon today. More adventures on the morrow.

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