Friday, July 16, 2010

The Great Northern Adventure, Day 1: Take Off to the Great White North

Friday, July 2, 2010
RDU. Gate A25. Southwest flight #617 to Seattle via Baltimore.
It's 8:57 am EDT, so we should be boarding in ten minutes or so.  The weather here is great.  It's an hour to Baltimore, then an hour on the ground, then about five hours to Seattle, landing around 13:55 PDT.  We're boarding A46-A49, so we should have decent seats, and will probably be able to upgrade them at the stopover.  I have no idea how many people may be continuing through like us.

Some background on this trip, to the best of my knowledge.  I believe the idea for this trip was my mom's, and I think she had even started saving for it.  Dad continued, and by last fall had enough money to take his whole family on this cruise-tour.  There will be 13 of us, including Tom, Andy, and their families, and Dad, of course.

Mom and Dad did more-or-less the same or similar trip: an Alaskan cruise-tour some years ago in the 1990's.  I'm speculating Dad's comfort with revisiting a big trip that he'd already taken may have been a factor in this trip's destination, as opposed to say, Austria, where he has never been.

Another interesting note is that this summer marks the 30th anniversary of The Roth Family's greatest vacation: a six-week, 10,000 mile RV trek around the country with excursions into Canada and Mexico.  In fact, the last time I was in Seattle was probably within a week or so of 30 years ago today.  That trip was more significant than I can explain, but that's a story for another day.

11:48EDT. BWI-ish.
We took off at 11:22 but not before we were joined on our plane by Andy, Shelley, Alex (8) and ella (6).  We didn't tell Tristan (11) or Zoe (10) that we were sharing a plane with them, though I think they figured it out.  Smart kids, all of them.

We're flying to Seattle where we'll get on the Quick Coach Shuttle for the ~5 hour ride to Vancouver, BC (~$40 each).  It was far cheaper to do this than to fly direct.  Tom, Jenni, Kayley (13) and Krista (11) flew to Seattle Wednesday and hung out with friends for a few days.  Dad (71) was flying from Harrisburg Middletown (a horrid little airport) to Vancouver via frequent flyer miles.  Andy and I were discussing the odds of Dad making it to the hotel in Vancouver mishap-free.  It shouldn't be too difficult, but Dad usually finds a glitch somehow.  It's a gift.  We're staying at the Quality Hotel on Howe Street tonight so there's little chance of missing the cruise departure early tomorrow afternoon.  I've read that Vancouver has an impressive Chinatown - the second largest in North America.  And since my kids speak Mandarin, I thought it would be cool to check out the Chinatown Night Market if we can.

The cruise portion of the trip is three nights, followed by six nights on the tour portion.  We fly back from Anchorage on Monday the 12th at 20:20 (Alaska time), arriving back in Raleigh at 09:35 on July 13th, Jennifer's 39th birthday.  Seems we're away for her birthday almost every year.  She's OK with that.

We landed on time in Seattle, 5 hours 7 minutes.  The adults got a snack at the Seattle Brewhouse (maybe) while the kids burned off some energy across the hall at the play area.  We walked down to the bus loading area

and boarded the 15:30 (PDT) Quick Coach Shuttle (aka QuickShuttle).  We made a few stops on the way up to Vancouver, but the drive was nice and the views were amazing.

The shuttle dropped us right at the door to our lodging: Quality Hotel, 1335 Howe Street.

We checked in, found Tom's family, then all of us other than Tom and Krista (who is nursing a recently broken but now healed leg) headed out.  We got some pizza, then all but my family returned to the hotel.  It was ~9 pm, but felt like midnight.  We walked around some more, much to the kids' annoyance, and found ourselves in a nightclub/red light district.  It wasn't that bad, but was getting a bit too saucy for 10 & 11 year olds, so we turned back, but not before stopping at Fritz, an all-night french fry place.  We got traditional poutine (fries, mozzarella cheese curds and beef gravy - a Quebecois specialty)


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