My trip was fabulous! I flew out to Seattle and stayed with family. Saturday I did some shopping with one of my cousins, Sarah, and then we met up with my friends at Pike Place Market. The weather was fantastic; Sarah said it was unusual for it to be so good. We ate lunch at a restaurant in Pike Place called Lowell's (I'd actually heard of it on Food Network). It has 3 floors of seating, and the top floor has a great view of the bay/lake. After that, we went to the Experience Music Project & Sci Fi Museum. The EMP was pretty neat - lots of music history and first-hand accounts of musicians and the people who discovered them. The Sci Fi Museum was neat too. I hadn't realized I had seen so many films that were labeled as such! Makes my inner geek shine with pride. ;0P Costumes and original drafts/scripts/letters were pretty cool to see. My cousin left us to go on the Duck Tour by ourselves. It's a land/water vehicle, and we toured some city streets as well as Lake Union in it. (Personally, I wasn't that impressed with it though the driver did his best to maintain our enthusiasm.) That night, we frantically got dinner at Mexico Cantina and walked through drizzle to see the musical, Young Frankenstein, which starred Roger Bart (you can imdb him) and Megan Mullally (Karen from Will & Grace). That was awesome. The place was packed!
Sunday, we drove from Seattle to Vancouver (about 1.5 to 2 hours) and parked on the outskirts of the city. They discourage parking IN the city, so the parking fees are ginormous. It only made sense to park and use public transportation instead. We took the SkyTrain to the Main St. stop and walked through Chinatown (creepy!) and eventually on into GasTown (quaint!). Had brunch there @ Chill Winston and used public transpo (SeaBus, I believe) to get to the Lonsdale Quay Market - effectively a market built for tourists. Didn't bother me though! Next was the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Very cool. Set in the outdoors, so we had wonderful nature all around us. Lots of mini suspension bridges dotted the area as well, so we could walk from tree to tree high above the ground. The weather was awesome! Sun was out and a cool breeze blew. We headed back to Lonsdale and ate dinner at Cheshire Cheese Inn (British pub), then went to Vancouver Lookout which gave us a 360 degree view of the city. NICE. That night we drove back into the States, through Seattle, and into Oregon.
Monday, we made our way along the west coast towards Santa Rosa, CA. It was raining pretty much the entire time we were driving down Oregon's coast - definitely not what we expected! We stopped by Mt. St. Helens but due to time and weather constraints, we couldn't see it (it was overcast that morning). Drove through Portland which seemed blah, especially because it was still overcast, and stopped at a little town called Depoe Bay for gas and lunch. (The people were really nice!) Ate at the Chowder Bowl - cute place but service was seriously lacking - and continued on. Stopped by Devil's Churn - natural lookout of a stream (or waterfall?) going into the ocean. Grabbed a quick Dairy Queen bite in Gold Beach, OR, another small town. The roads were winding (windy?) we got closer to the hotel (in Fort Bragg) - I was weaving in and out of sleep at that point because I get slightly motion sick on winding roads. But we made it safely to the hotel, so it was all good.
Tuesday, we continued our drive to Santa Rosa. We stopped by Mendocino Bay, a small beach off the side of the road. The weather had brightened up for us by then, so the sun was out and there were other people taking advantage of that as well. Went further south to Bodega Bay for lunch - it had a small pier and we saw lots of birds and a sea lion. The roads became winding again but the view of the coast was gorgeous. I mean, ocean on the right side and rolling hills on the left. How wonderful is that? Finally got to Santa Rosa in the pm, and went to the Schulz Museum (creator of the Peanuts comic strip). Took us about an hour to get to San Francisco from there (we drove through/on Golden Gate Bridge and paid a $5 toll); we caught a Giants game at AT&T Park and ate hot dogs. YUM. Our hotel was a couple of blocks from Fisherman's Wharf.
Wednesday, two of us went to Golden Gate Park while one of us went back to Santa Rosa and the other went to Circuit City to try and repair her digital camera. Walked through the Rose Garden, met up with the Circuit City girl and we all went through the Japanese Tea Garden. Went to a section of the De Young Museum (right next to the Jap. Tea Garden) where we were able to get a view of the city from above. THAT was pretty neat. You could see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Umm, took a taxi to Union Sq. (shopping district....where we ended up not shopping) and, on the way, saw the "Painted Ladies" or the "Full House" houses. ;0) From Union Sq. we walked towards Chinatown (lots of hills!) and had lunch there (Empress of China - great reviews, but I've always been skeptical of Chinese restaurants; tip is automatically included when you get the ticket - didn't like that surprise). Tired of the hills, we took a trolley to Fisherman's Wharf where we took in the tourist souvenir shops with pleasure, walked to Pier 39 and saw sea lions as well as a view of Alcatraz, walked to Pier 33 only to find out it would be nigh impossible to get Alcatraz tour tickets, stopped by a B&N to pick up some books, and EXHAUSTED... went back to the hotel. We met up with a friend of mine from Sacramento at Alioto's in Fisherman's Wharf for dinner (great food, good service). Good times.
Thursday, we slept in! Thank goodness...I needed the rest. We headed out to Ghirardelli Square which... wasn't much, really. Went into the G. Chocolate Store and didn't buy anything because we were going to be in the desert in the next few days, so why buy chocolate that's only going to melt? Stopped by the SF Maritime Museum Store (someone wanted to go in and take a look around), then went to In 'n Out (burger place) for lunch - SO GOOD! Checked out of the hotel, mailed store-bought souvenirs back to ourselves, and headed east. We stopped by San Jose to tour the WInchester Mystery House, then kept going on towards Sequoia Nat'l Park. We made it by nightfall.
Friday, while at Sequoia National Park, we saw the General Sherman Tree (largest tree by volume in the world) and took a tour of Crystal Cave where it was a nice 49 degrees in there. :0) Hightailed it to Vegas! Late lunch at a KFC (ohhh...the fat content!) and drove about 7 hours to Sin City. We got there in the evening which was pretty neat. Apparently, the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign can be seen coming in from the east so we weren't able to see that. Oh well. Saw a Cirque du Soleil show at The Bellagio called "O" which incorporated a 25-foot swim tank. AWESOME. Crashed in our hotel room on the strip (NY NY, provided by a friend's mom at a reduced rate), and woke up the next morning to pack up the car. We gambled a little bit inside our hotel (I lost $14), and then headed over to the Mirage for lunch. Traffic is HORRIBLE on the strip, so don't drive if you don't have to. There are a couple of free shuttles on one side of the strip, and on the other there's a monorail that runs behind the hotels ($5 each way). Plus, the weather was around 100 degrees there. Yuck. At least it wasn't that humid!! Ate lunch at a buffet called Cravings, where there was a station for raw foods, soups, noodles, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, rotisserie, salads, and desserts (give or take a station). STUFFED myself there and headed on to the Grand Canyon. Passed the Hoover Dam in the process which looked like it was under renovation/construction - weird! It appears that Arizona doesn't adhere to daylight savings. Hmm. Anyhoo, had a quick meal from Wendy's and reached the Grand Canyon that evening. Stayed at Yavapai Lodge which was not nearly as nice as the NY NY room but it was great to be there anyway.
Saturday, turns out we were staying on the South Rim of the Canyon. The new SkyWalk or bridge or whatever is on the North Rim, so we didn't have time or the financial inclination to go there. The view was still terrific, and the sun was blaring into our retinas during picture time so they came out funny. Weather was mild compared to Vegas. Lots of international tourists there. Booked it to Phoenix where it heated up again into the 100's - the city looked so dead. It was kind of disappointing. :0\ Found the hotel, checked in, and basked in super cool air conditioning while watching High School Musical 2. Repacked my things, and we headed out to Garduno's for dinner. The interior of this restaurant is phenomenal! After dinner, my peeps took me to the airport.