TRIP DATE: July 12, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO ALBUM | Other Honeymoon Posts
It was time for us to leave the country. In 1998 I first visited Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, Canada. I enjoyed it so much that I revisited Victoria in both 2005 and 2008. It was time to share that beautiful city with my bride, who had never before ventured outside of the United States of America.
Visiting Canada used to only require a driver’s license, but now requires a full-fledged Passport Book or the cheaper Passport Card. I’ve previously had Passport Books, but haven’t had a valid passport since 2008. One of those books now costs $110. Yikes! Happily, it is only $30 for a Passport Card which works for sea and land travel to and from Canada and Mexico.
We would be returning home at the end of our Canadian visit, so I researched the cost of flying home from the airport in Victoria, BC, which would require Passport Books, versus taking the car ferry back to the U.S. and flying home from the big Sea-Tac airport. Even with the added cost of a ferry ride, gasoline, and a night in a Sea-Tac hotel room, it was still cheaper to go the ferry route with Passport Cards than to fly out of Victoria using a Passport Book.
So, several months before our wedding, Wendy and I dutifully appeared at the post office in Bartlesville with our Passport Card applications, birth certificates, and other documents. We sat for photos, and the helpful clerk verified everything was in order and took our money. We were thrilled when our cards arrived in the mail a few weeks later. Wendy’s card is in her maiden name and worked fine for the honeymoon; she can get an updated card with her married name on it for free if she applies within a year of the issuance of the card, sending in one of our certified copies of our marriage license. One thing Wendy will tell you is that it is a “major pain in the rear” to change your name with the many and varied services we use in the modern world.
We had breakfast at the Kalaloch Lodge and checked out, heading north up US 101 past Ruby Beach for the two-hour ninety-mile drive around the peninsula to Port Angeles, where we had booked passage on the car ferry M.V. Coho for a late afternoon passage to Victoria.
We made a pit stop at Forks, and Wendy was thrilled to find some Chili Nut M&Ms at the service station. She’d been looking for them in vain in Oklahoma after Mars Candies asked consumers to try out and vote on Honey Nut, Coffee Nut, and Chili Nut flavors between March and June 2016. Wendy loved Chili Nut, but in the end Coffee Nut won a spot on retail shelves over its competitors. After the honeymoon, she found at a Walgreens an intact display with 40 bags of the Chili Nut M&Ms, and she bought them all! Wendy keeps them hermetically sealed in a jar in our pantry, rationing them out for special occasions.
Another happy find along our journey to Port Angeles came after we drove eastward along the Sol Duc river valley (Sol Duc means “sparkling waters” in Quileute). Highway 101 left the Sol Duc behind to run along the southern shore of Lake Crescent, which was formed by glaciers in the last Ice Age and a landslide 8,000 years ago which dammed Indian Creek. The lake has brilliant blue waters with very little nitrogen.
The road twisted and rippled along the lake shore. A delivery truck was riding our tail on the curves of the narrow highway, so I decided to escape from that rude driver by taking a turn-off. Our rental Camry stumbled into the La Poel day use area, which turned out to be a delightful and much-needed respite. We followed a narrow drive past picnic tables through towering trees and pulled into a spot with a view of the lake to take a break.
La Poel was operated in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a forest campground, taking its name from la poêle, French for “frying pan”. There was an auto camp here which operated from the 1920s until it was bought out by 1950 by Olympic National Park and eventually demolished.
The area was simply lovely, with trees shrouded in moss. Ferns and mushrooms grew in the shade. Wendy looked for rocks and photographed tiny flowers. She made a neat find: a rock with a large golden fleck. This short time spent in the woods by the lake on an overcast day is one of those little moments from our honeymoon that has stuck with me. I go back there in my mind and remember how peaceful and calming that pull-off was after a long drive on the two-lane highway around the peninsula. Some day I want to return to stay and hike at Crescent Lake.
In 1791 the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza came across a natural harbor on the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He named the harbor Puerto de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Port of Our Lady of the Angels). It was protected by a three-mile-long sand spit, now called Ediz Hook, from the ocean swells coming down the strait. That harbor is now home to the M.V. Coho ferry run by the Black Ball Ferry Line. It can carry up to 1,000 passengers and 115 vehicles. I had booked us round-trip tickets to and from Victoria for $162.
Reaching Port Angeles, I drove us down to the ferry dock to scout out how best to access it a few hours later. Then we drove a couple of blocks inland to park downtown near the First Street Haven Restaurant. TripAdvisor had once again come through, this time with a little shop that is renowned for its cinnamon rolls, which of course were sold out by the time we arrived for a late lunch. Wendy had a great turkey sandwich with yummy cranberry cream cheese.
We walked over to the spraying water of the Conrad Dyer Memorial Fountain, which was surrounded by flowerbeds and walls with a painted mural. I couldn’t find anything online to figure out who Conrad Dyer was, but I did find out that the Olympic Visions mural of Olympic National Park was originally painted on wood by Tim Quinn, a cartoonist for the Sequim Gazette. That mural was completed in 1999, but volunteers applied improper sealant and it deteriorated. In 2010 Quinn had repainted half of the mural directly onto the concrete walls around the fountain when he passed away, so the renewal was completed by Jackson Smart, a friend of Quinn, with help from Dani LaBlond. Like Quinn, Smart put names of people he met while working on the mural into the painting. Wendy had fun spotting various animals in the mural: a raccoon, mountain lion, wolf, elk, and more. I noticed Teddy Roosevelt, the Conservation President, blended into one of the clouds.
Wendy had fun photographing many of the different and varied flowers in the beds between the mural and the fountain and in the large planters out front. Some Sonora Gloriosa daisies were particularly striking. On a street corner near the fountain was a nifty seahorse built from horseshoes and other scrap iron by Dan Klennert. Whenever I finally get to take Wendy to Mt. Rainier, I hope we can stop in at Dan’s Ex-Nihilo Sculpture Park.
We both admired the classic look of the Clallam County Courthouse, built in 1914-15. It interested me to learn that the enormous clock was not originally meant for that building. The clock was manufactured in Boston in 1880 and shipped around Cape Horn to Seattle, where it languished for almost 30 years before the Clallam County Courthouse architect incorporated it into the new building.
We still had some time to kill before our ferry crossing, so we drove to Francis Street Park as well as the City Pier to see geese, the Wild Thing sailboat, and three fishing boats docked side-by-side: the Sunnfjord, the 1972 Golden Dolphin eel fishing boat, and the 1927 Eclipse. I like Barbara Snyder’s painting of the Golden Dolphin and the Sunnfjord. The city pier had some nice murals of the six long houses and palisade which archaeologists confirmed were in the Klallam Indian village of Tse-whit-zen at that location, and of the later European settlement. At the entrance of the city pier was a nifty mosaic sculpture Rocktapus, designed by Oliver Strong and executed by Maureen Wall.
Braving the Swells
Finally it was time for our ferry ride. We got in line, presented our documentation, and I drove our Camry onto the cramped vehicle deck. We squeezed out to climb the stairs to the passenger decks.
At first we were up top. The ferry lumbered past the USCGC Active docked along Ediz Hook, and soon we felt the ferry rock and sway with the ocean swells rolling eastward down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The strait is twenty miles wide, so it looked like we were heading out into the ocean.
Wendy had been dreading the ferry ride. She took some Dramamine beforehand, but still found the initial crossing made her uncomfortable as the huge ferry tilted back and forth. We had opted to sit in the middle of the boat to minimize the rocking, but from there we could not see the waters of the strait through the windows.
Wendy later read that seeing the horizon would make the trip more comfortable, so on the return trip she doubled up on the Dramamine and we sat in the solarium up top where she could see the water. That trip turned out to be much longer, with the boat diverting to dodge rough water, and the ferry rocked and rolled much more than it had on the first trip. Thankfully the strategy of using more Dramamine and sitting where she could see the water, looking out from the side of the boat perpendicular to its forward motion, worked like a charm. Wendy had no trouble on the rougher and longer return trip.
We docked in Victoria and drove a few blocks to a parking garage that was less than 1/5 mile from our hotel, unloaded our luggage and hoofed it over to The Magnolia Hotel & Spa.
Where to stay in Victoria had been the most important lodging decision for the honeymoon. I knew we’d be staying there for four nights, it would be the last big stay on our honeymoon, and ideally should be within walking distance of the Inner Harbour and all of its attractions. None of the hotels I’d stayed in previously would be appropriate, so I spent a lot of time researching possibilities. I knew to stay away from the Fairmont Empress Hotel, which is the largest and most prestigious hotel of the Inner Harbour; the premium on its rooms was outrageous, and parts of that venerable edifice actually look rather worn. I also hoped to avoid the expense and bother of valet parking.
I finally hit upon the Magnolia Hotel & Spa, which was a short block from The Empress, and arranged to book one of their best rooms: a Signature Diamond Room on the top floor with views of both the Harbour Causeway and the Parliament building.
The room was everything I’d hoped for. It was the one of nicest hotel rooms Wendy and I have ever stayed in. We were surprised to find waiting for us a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket, along with chocolates and a card. A group of our neighbors back in Bartlesville had teamed up and arranged that for us along with a very generous hotel credit. It literally pays to be a good neighbor. Or perhaps I mean neighbour, since we were then in British Columbia.
We pulled back the curtains to see the Empress Hotel and the copper dome on the Parliament building bathed in the light of the Golden Hour. Wendy, in awe, stared out at the Canadian flag flying from the roof of the Union Club next door, which drove home that we were in a foreign land.
The next day we’d begin exploring that beautiful country, visiting the Inner Harbour Causeway and Beacon Hill Park.