Pacific Northwest, 1997

By Jack Welsch

Images © Copyright 2005, J. H. Welsch
Picture #   of  


This was yet another trip where I failed to keep a diary so there's not as much detail here as I sometimes provide. The trip was based on a business trip to Vancouver to attend a convention of FCSI, Foodservice Consultants Society International. As long as we were going to the Pacific Northwest, we decided to tack on some vacation time and see more of it. I'd been there several times but always on business with no time for sightseeing and Lin had not been there at all. What I'd seen during my previous trip was enough to convince me we should see more. In planning the trip, I relied on my friend Bob who's lived there all his life. He have me advice and made some reservations for us. The plan was to fly into Seattle and, after spending a couple of days there, work our way to Vancouver for the convention, then return to SeaTac for the flight home.

At Bob's suggestion, we stayed in the Alexis Hotel in Seattle. The hotel was small, European in style, and absolutely delightful. Unless it's changed, I highly recommend it.

While in Seattle, we had a great dinner on the waterfront with Bob and his wife Judy, visited the Pike Place Market, Walked along the waterfront, took a ferry to Bremerton and back, visited the Boeing Museum of Flight, and generally acted like tourists. For most of our stay in Seattle, the weather was sunny and warm; quite different from the stereotype Seattle "gray days".

Upon leaving Seattle, we drove north at Anacortes as Bob had suggested and stayed overnight at a small hotel very near the ferry dock. I was eager to make sure we got on the first ferry of the day so I got up while it was still dark, parked the car in line for the ferry, and walked back to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, we walked down and were sitting in the car as boarding began. The weather was less than great with visibility very low in fog. Though it was cold, I spent much of the trip on deck. While the scenery would have been nicer had it been sunny, the fog made for its own beauty and, as the trip wore in, conditions steadily improved. Passing through the very beautiful San Juan Islands, we eventually disembarked in Sidney on Vancouver Island. Neither of us is overly enamored with flowers but we found the Butchart Gardens to be almost breathtaking and a very relaxing way to spend a few hours.

Victoria itself is a beautiful city with a snug harbor. Dominating the harbor is the regal Empress Hotel and it is there that Bob had made our hotel reservations. When we entered the lobby, we found we we had to stand in a rather long line for check in. When we finally got to the desk, the clerk said, "Mr. Welsch, we were starting to get worried; we were expecting you earlier!" I was rather shocked and questioned whether she had us confused with someone else. She then said we were in the wrong line and gave us directions to a different desk on an upper floor. As we neared the second check in desk, we were greeted by name like special guests. It turns out Bob had arranged for us to be on a floor reserved for Emerald Club or something like that. I've been on concierge floors many times but this was something more. During our entire stay, each time we passed an employee we were greeted by name. What an experience! The hotel itself is a classic, ivy-covered walls and all. At Linda's request, we had high tea in the dining room. Apparently, that's a big deal at the Empress.

When we left Victoria, we drone to Nanaimo and took a BC Ferry to Tsawwassen, just south of Vancouver. This ship was huge! Both the ferry and the trip were absolutely beautiful and I was sorry when we landed. We were fortunate to sight a few whales on the way, too. The drive from Tsawwassen was both long and unexciting. Finding the hotel in Vancouver was a bit of a problem but we eventually got settled. While most of my time was spent on business, we did get some time to explore Vancouver and we were not terribly impressed. It's not a bad city but neither is it anything special. After the convention, we drove back south and eventually got to SeaTac and flew home.

We both agreed the Pacific Northwest is absolutely magnificent. We'd love to go back but, unfortunately, there's still so much of the world we've never seen!