Days 115 – 119 – Seattle, WA; Vancouver, BC & Banff National Park

Sulfur Mountain in Banff National Park

Before leaving Olympic National Park we made the decision to take a ferry across the Pugent Sound instead of driving the distance around the water. Even though Seattle is known as super rainy we were lucky enough to get great weather! Then a bird tried to eat my bagel, but it was totally fine because our first stop in Seattle was Pike Place Market.

Pike Place is like an every day of the week farmer’s market, any food you can imagine is there. I ended up with an amazing gyro and we both tried a bunch of smoked salmon. Elliot tried award winning chowder from Pike Place Chowder and while he was waiting in line I walked past the first Starbucks that had a line way down the block and went to a Starbucks that was tucked away into the next block. When we were sufficiently stuffed we found ourselves at the Chilhuly Garden and Glass Museum. To those back home, if you’ve ever been to Mohegan Sun and have seen the 25-foot glass sculpture there, this museum houses many works by the same artist. We caught a glass blowing show before leaving and had our minds blown (haha, I’m punny). It really puts seeing the patience that goes into making one little piece into perspective when you see the full sculptures that the Chihuly team puts together. Before heading to our friend’s house we stopped at the University of Washington to see the Suzallo Library’s Reading Room that has been nicknamed the “Harry Potter Library”.

The next day us and our friends drove out to Deception Pass State Park to go for a hike and of course see the bridge that gave the park it’s name. On the way we were able to pick up some fresh smoked crab and other various fresh seafood for dinner that night. We finished up our hike then on the road back we found TULIPS! One thing I never knew about Washington state is that they grow and sell the most roses in the world. On our drive up to the hike we didn’t see any so we thought the season was over, but when we were heading back we saw the colorful rows in the distance. It was truly amazing to see all the different colors in perfect rows.

The next morning we were heading up to Canada! Neither of us had been to British Columbia before, so we were excited to explore a different province. Vancouver is also known as “Raincouver” but just like Seattle we were lucky and had great weather! Our first stop was Stanley Park, a huge park right in the center of the city. We took a long walk around the outskirt of the park and admired the Lion’s Gate Bridge that passed overhead. When our parking ran out we drove over to Granville Island to explore their public market and the surrounding area; both very similar to Seattle’s market. We enjoyed some smoked salmon and figured out a plan for the rest of the night. We found ourselves at Brass Neck Brewery where we enjoyed some inexpensive beers then grabbed some dinner at Hokkaido where I tried ramen for the first time.

In an attempt to save some time we drove through the night over to Banff National Park in Alberta (another province we hadn’t explored yet!). The drive was very mountainous and some areas were very snowy, but thankfully the roads were clear. Finally the sun rose and we were driving through the Canadian Rockies, it really was an amazing sight being surrounded by mountains, we also saw a bighorn sheep and a bear! Banff’s season isn’t exactly in April since they’re still covered with snow but we were able to rent cleats and go for a hike along Lake Louise. The lake is known for it’s clear turquoise color but it was still covered with ice and snow, it was still beautiful. Along our hike we saw a frozen waterfall that would’ve been easy to miss if a ranger hadn’t already told us about it.

Even though Lake Louise is part of the park it’s not in the city of Banff, so after we returned our cleats we headed over to the city to grab a spot to camp for the night. Even though the temperatures were low there were a ton of campers, we were lucky to get a spot inside the park. After setting up our tent we took a short hike up Tunnel Mountain and had some pretty great views! However, the next morning was where we really got our great views. We hiked up Sulfur Mountain, you have the choice of hiking up or taking a gondola ride up but overall the ride is completely overpriced. The trail was covered with snow but easy to navigate and when we got to the top the views were amazing! Even though we’ve struggled with some of the hikes we’ve done it’s always rewarding when you get to the top. Even better for us, because it was off-season the ride on the gondola down the mountain was free if you hiked up!

As usual, we wish we could’ve spend more time in Banff, or taken a drive up to Jasper National Park but our next stop was Glacier National Park and the weather was supposed to be nice in the upcoming days so back into the states we went! Funny enough, on our way back in the man who checked our passports questioned our “Connecticut accents”… I suppose to those in Montana the East coasters have accents!

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