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Utah Again, Day 6: This is...Wow...

sunny 102 °F

Today had a bit of chaotic start. Due to the weather and the tiredness of the new arrivals yesterday, we had planned that we would reserve the Angel's Landing hike for Friday or skip it altogether. We were sleeping in when we got a call that several people were planning on going to Angel's Landing. Daniel wanted to do the hike but Catherine did not, so for today we will have separate entries that detail the day we each had.
Daniel
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I drove with Fr. Michael and Justin to Zion National Park. The other group, consisting of Joe, Jason, Nicole, and Sean, had gone the "scenic route" to the east entrance of the park, which involved driving through the famous tunnel. We decided to go the same way, and stop at Apple Annie's first to get some water.
Angel's Landing is a large rock formation that is one of the most famous and difficult hikes in Zion National Park. Anthony and I hiked part of it last year, although the estimate that we were twenty minute from the top was not exactly accurate. Today we intended to go all the way to the top, which involves some hiking with chains to prevent falling from the drop-offs.
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Some pictures as we went up the mountain. One advantage that we had is that the elevation where we were staying at Brian Head was about 9,600 feet, while the elevation at the top of Angel's Landing is only 5,800 feet. Thus, we were already acclimated to a higher elevation, and the hike was not as grueling as it would have been were we staying at a lower elevation. However, the weather was hot (about 102 degrees) and the hike up is almost entirely uphill, which is difficult.
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We went up very fast, and reached the Owl Canyon/ Refrigerator Canyon area in about twenty minutes, as opposed to the hour and a half it took last year. We had to stop for water breaks fairly regularly.
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This pictures shows the way up the West Rim trail, on the way to Refrigerator Canyon.
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After Refrigerator Canyon we came to the famous Walter's Wiggles. These were named after Walter Ruesch, the first superintendent of Zion National Park. They are 21 switchbacks that rapidly go up the side of Angel's Landing. Because they start when you are almost two miles into the hike already, they are very grueling and slow.
Once we reached the top of Walter's Wiggles, there is a place called Scout's Lookout. It has bathrooms and a lot of room to sit and rest. We regrouped there and planned the rest of our journey. After Scout's Lookout the chain system begins: it is not much of a system, really: it is just chains that you can hold on to so you don't fall off the mountain. Although it looks dangerous in pictures it didn't feel all that dangerous.
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These pictures show some of the steepness of the chain section, and how narrow the path is. The one nice thing is that once you get to this section, it is easier in many ways than the areas before: it is more likely to be flat or stair-like than it is to be an uphill walk. However, the drop-offs are psychologically difficult: Fr. Michael provided the title of today's entry when he said "this is...wow..." as he looked down while taking a step (he also suggested "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" but that was too long for Travellerspoint to use).
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This picture shows the drop-off on both sides at one point during the chain section.
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Taking a step.
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Hiking along the edge.
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Some pictures as we got closer to the end of the section section.
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Fr. Michael, Joe, Jason, me, and Justin near the top. Nicole and Sean had stayed back a bit, but they did reach the top later on.
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We had some snacks at the top of the mountain and rested for a bit.
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Condors! We could see a California Condor drifting from the mountaintop. The pictures don't really do it justice: it was hard to get a decent picture of a moving bird.
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Steep drop-offs along the path on the way down. Fr. Michael and I decided to go down, while the other group waited for Nicole and Sean so that they could take a group picture at the top.
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To me, the way down felt a lot easier.
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The green and red contrast is beautiful.
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These pictures, which highlight the darkness in Refrigerator Canyon against the light shining on the other mountains, seem like they could be an advertisement for the National Parks.
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The lower part of the trail in the afternoon, which was much cooler and more pleasant than the way up. I wore my St. Michael's shirt because of the name of the hike.
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There were a lot of chipmunks on the trail on the way down. They seemed to be showing off how fast and capable they were of rushing down the mountain. They had little fear of humans and would stay about two feet ahead of us, keeping just that distance before skittering off between the switchbacks.
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Some of the pictures I took near the bottom of the hike.
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Can you believe we were all the way up there?

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We waited for a while at the bottom of the trail, at the shuttle stop. Once the rest of the group came down, we got on the shuttle to the visitor's center. Once we were all together, we decided to try going to the brewery, which is right outside the park in easy walking distance. It was crowded, so we tried the Zion Pizza and Noodle Company. That also had a long wait, so we went all the way to Cedar City before having dinner. We went to Centro Woodfired Pizza, which had Rogue Hazelnut beer, a delicious arugula salad, and some delicious pizzas, including a fennel sausage pizza and a pizza margherita. It was a wonderful dinner after the long day of hiking. It started raining heavily during dinner, which made us glad that we weren't caught in the rain on the hike. We then drove back to Brian Head to rest for tomorrow, when we go on our mountain bike expedition.

Catherine
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I went on a hike with my parents, Nick, Crystalynne, Calista, Cecilia, and Gabriel at the Sunset trail at Cedar Breaks, even though we did it during the day. It was a beautiful trail, but very windy. It was the kids' first time getting out on the trail and seeing Cedar Breaks, and they were very enthusiastic about it. They loved the wildflowers.

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After that we went back to the resort. We got in our swimsuits to go swimming, but stopped at the Activity Center to make some slime. After the slime activity we went swimming with Ryan, Kristina, Evelyn, and Noah. It was very fun. After that we all went to dinner at the resort restaurant, which was fun. We had a wonderful day around the resort and at Cedar Breaks!

Both
It was late when Daniel got back from the Angel's Landing hike, and he had a bike ride to do the next day. We were both very tired and went to bed fairly early.

Posted by danielcatherine 07:01 Archived in USA Tagged beer utah hike pizza zion chain condors chipmunks owls angels_landing refrigerator_canyon walter's_wiggles switchback Comments (1)

Portugal Day 3: Adventures and Resting

sunny 80 °F

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A welcome sight: our room in Lisbon after our long journey! Before we could get there, we had to wait in a very long customs line. Then, when we finally got through the line, we couldn’t find our bags on any of the carousels. Eventually, another passenger from our flight (actually the family that had sat behind us) found theirs: it had been on the first carousel, but had been removed to allow the bags for a flight from Luanda. We got the shuttle to our hotel, and checked in and enjoyed the free breakfast.
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The very steep street that our hotel is on. This little barrier slides down to allow drivers with the right card to get through, then slides back up.
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We went to mass right down the street at the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação.
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It is a beautiful church. The mass was rather quick and simple, but the surroundings were so beautiful that it enhanced the entire experience.
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Another beautiful church, right down the street from the one we went to. There are several right in this area.
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We visited the oldest continuously-operating bookstore in the world, Bertrand. It has been in operation since 1732. Most of the books are in Portuguese (understandably enough). There is a little cafe in the back of the rather cavernous bookstore.
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An exterior view of the bookstore, with blue tile walls.
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We bought one book, and plan to learn enough Portuguese to read it to our children one day.

It was nice to browse the store, but we were very tired already. We stopped by a little bakery and bought some pastel de nata and some whole wheat rolls (pão integral in Portuguese. Catherine says she agrees that it is integral for daily life) and then went back to the hotel and rested for a few hours.

We got up at around 8PM, and then went out for dinner. The man at the hotel told us about the Time Out Mercado, essentially a gigantic food court with a wide variety of options. It is located in the old fish market near the river. We decided to walk down there and see what looked good.
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Lisbon is a very hilly city. A lot of people say it is similar to San Francisco, although it feels somewhat different.
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A tiny door along the way.
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The Mercado. There are tons of restaurant stands around a center area. In the center are bars selling drinks and tables for customers.
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A spicy diavola pizza and two Super Bock beers, the other major Portuguese beer maker.
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Dessert: Catherine got salted caramel with peanut and honeydew ice cream, and Daniel got passionfruit.
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The streets in Lisbon.
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A monument.
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They seem to have very large insects here.
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The Bica hill, home of the famous Bica tram.
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The construction of some of the buildings.
After dinner we grabbed a drink right near our hotel, and then headed back to get some rest before
heading out to explore more of the country tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 17:33 Archived in Portugal Tagged church ice cream books nata sleep dinner pizza bookstore mercado bakery mass bica pastel_de_ Comments (4)

Hawaii Day 10: Sunset

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We got up earlier than yesterday, and went back to the blowhole area to make sure we got the chance to try Julia's banana bread. We made it to the stand in time. We also bought some mango candy, and we were very tempted by the passionfruit butter. One of the sellers gave Catherine this plumeria to wear in her hair (he also offered a plumeria lei for $5 but we weren't sure how we would get it home). It was a beautiful drive and a fun stop. And the bread is delicious!
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We went boogie boarding at D.T. Fleming Beach in Kapalua. On the recommendation of Daniel's aunt and uncle who come here regularly, we also tried the "beach shack" affiliated with the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua. It was very good. Boogie boarding was fun, although it takes some time to get used to it, and the wind was pretty intense today just like yesterday.
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After boogie boarding and lunch, we headed back to the room and then out again to snorkel. We snorkeled near the resort, a little bit to the south where there were beautiful reefs and we saw a great many new varieties of fish. Unfortunately we didn't have any way of taking pictures of them, but we saw some amazing things. After that, we decided to go back to the hotel for the sunset, and sit out on chairs overlooking the water.
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One of Daniel's favorite pictures he's ever taken: a sailboat against the sunset.
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Our last sunset in Hawaii, "until we meet again."
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After sunset.
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We went to dinner at Prison Street Pizza, which is in Lahaina and was very good. It was a relatively small restaurant, but the pizza was good and we tried a couple of Maui Brewing Company beers. We have had a wonderful time in Hawaii, and we hope to be able to come back soon.

Posted by danielcatherine 18:36 Archived in USA Tagged fish sunset pizza snorkel sailboat blowhole boogie_board ritz-carlton d.t.fleming kapalua Comments (0)

Hawaii Day 3: Bug Free's the Way to Be

sunny 86 °F

This morning, Catherine called to "battle" with the rental car company. They said at first that we would have to bring the car all the way back to Kahului to exchange it for another car. There was a sister company in Lahaina which had cars they could give us, but a variety of paperwork problems prevented it. So in the end, Catherine's parents drove all the way around the north-west side of the island to exchange cars. Thankfully, the new car appears to be bug-free.
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While they journeyed around the island in search of a new car, we had a relaxing lunch of pizza from the poolside restaurant. We sat at a table overlooking the ocean.
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After lunch, we went for a walk and sat by the beach. These pictures show the view of Lanai and Molokai. We also saw some land in the distance that might be a faint view of Oahu. It is a beautiful view.
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After our walk, we had a ukulele lesson! The class was interesting, and we learned how to play several songs. We are interested in obtaining a ukulele so that we can continue to learn.
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Afterwards, we went to Lahaina for the Old Lahaina Luau. These pictures are us at the beginning, before dinner or the show. It's in a beautiful setting near the ocean.
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Catherine at the luau.
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The table at the luau, including taro and sweet potato chips.
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Views from our table.
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Catherine has been very excited to try poi. She read Hawaii by James Michener and felt like poi sounded like an interesting and potentially good food. This picture shows her very first taste of poi. "It tastes like nothing!" was her immediate reaction. It ended up being rather good with the kalua pork.
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Our plates of food. Everything was delicious. Daniel especially liked the laulau and the taro leaf stew, and Catherine loved the sweet potatoes and the kalua pork.
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The desserts. Brownies with hot pepper, lavender cookies, passion fruit bars, and haupia (a coconut-milk based custard that was delicious.)
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A toast.
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The dancers who performed, as well as a view of the stage towards the end of the night. The chanting, singing, and dancing were spectacular.
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Catherine and her dad with the waitress for our table. She was very helpful and gave us extra banana bread to take with us at the end! We had a great time at the luau. Afterwards, we went back to the room and re-taught Catherine's parents how to play 500. This was fun, except that some of us were having trouble staying awake.

Tomorrow we are visiting a pineapple plantation, where Maui Gold pineapples are grown. It is one of the last pineapple growers operating in Hawaii, and we are excited to learn more about it!

Posted by danielcatherine 02:28 Archived in USA Tagged car pizza lahaina hula luau chanting haupia laulau kalua_pork mai_tai Comments (2)

Ireland Day 4: O'Donnell Abu!

(the title is also the name of a great song. And, our day started at Donegal Castle and ended at a Middle Eastern restaurant 😀)

storm 55 °F

We had a wonderful night's sleep at our B&B in Mountcharles. It was extremely comfortable and restful. When we got up, there was a delicious breakfast ready for us: brown bread and toast and tea. We had a very nice chat with our host, ranging from Irish history to modern politics to her surprise that the Americans staying in her house all seem to prefer tea to coffee. She gave us a detailed route to follow, along the "wild and rocky hills" (another lyric from another great Donegal-focused song) up the Wild Atlantic Way. We began by going to Donegal Town.
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We found a place to park in Donegal Town. It overlooked this harbor, where the boat in the picture was blasting Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love." It proceeded to blast other songs of like nature. The machine did not take cards so we had to get cash. The tourist office had a sign that prominently displayed that they do not change money for the parking lot. So, Daniel walked to a bank (AIB) on the Diamond, or main square of Donegal.
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Donegal Castle is really an amazing thing to see.
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According to the cashier at the castle, the Choctaw Nation donated to the Irish during the Famine. This led to connections between them and the Irish.
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Some more images of the Castle. The empty manor house area was built by the Brookes family after the Flight of Earls.
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The Diamond in Donegal. It is sort of a roundabout, sort of a death trap.
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The Catholic Church in Donegal. It has a replica Irish Round Tower.
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Killybegs Harbor. Killybegs is one of the major commercial fishing ports in Ireland. The ships are really impressive to see.
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Outside Killybegs is St. Catherine's well, one of Ireland's many holy wells. These have small sources of water and involve specific prayers that should be said. Catherine had not seen a holy well before, and she was especially interested because this one was St. Catherine's.
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For some reason, there are stuffed animals tied to many signposts and fences throughout Co. Donegal.
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The Wild Atlantic Way: the beautiful coast of Donegal.
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Sheep in the road.
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While driving through the small village of Glencolmcille, we saw signs for St. Colmcille (Columba)'s well. We decided to take the hike up to see it. We left our car near a farmhouse and began walking up the path. It was lightly misting and the sun was high in the sky. We continued up from a gate that had signs pointing towards then well. We never found the well. The hike was quite long and went through empty, desolate bogland. The storm begin to get worse, soaking us and blowing rain in our faces. We kept going. We would walk to the next trail marker and see the next on up another ridge. Eventually, Daniel said he thought it wasn't safe to continue and we started to turn back. However, we decided to go to one more marker. Daniel got there before Catherine: there was a castle up ahead. Catherine caught up and we looked at the castle together. It was beautiful but slightly creepy. The storm was so bad we had to turn back. We wish we could have seen the well, but we had a great time nonetheless. Side note: while Catherine was hiking to catch up with Daniel who had gone slightly ahead she jumped over a little patch of mud. The grassy area she landed on was more mud than grass and she found herself knee deep in a bog. She barely escaped with her shoes. We thought this accidental adventure led to one of the best days of our lives. Just the two of us on a desolate hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with unbelievable views.
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Some pictures of the hike. Can you believe we were all the way up there?
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It's a whole different muscle group going down.
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"Climb to Colmcille's Well they said. It will be fun they said."
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We were so happy to find our cozy car again and get the heater working. We had a wonderful adventure.

We wanted to stop and eat at a pub in Glencolmcille. Unfortunately, they all look were closed. We tried the next village, Carrick, and they were also closed. In Killybegs most places were closed as well. We ended up getting a pizza to go from a small Middle Eastern restaurant, then going back to eat in the parking lot of St. Catherine's well. We had a wonderful day, and we can't wait until tomorrow when we go to Kilkelly to see Daniel's cousins.

Posted by danielcatherine 16:50 Archived in Ireland Tagged church towers castle pizza round glencolmcille colmcille. columba killybegs donegall o'domnell holy_wells Comments (2)

Day 10 - Friday the Thirteenth: Our Lucky Day for Ferries

Featuring a stop at Lake Erie Grocery Store in Anacortes

rain 55 °F

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We woke up to steady rain and cooler temperatures. It seemed like perfect weather, and made the island look all the more beautiful in the mist. We were headed back to Anacortes, and had to cross the island to the ferry terminal fairly early in the morning. Despite leaving a bit late, we easily made it onto the ferry.

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Views from the ferry as we travelled between islands, stopping at Shaw Island and Lopez Island before getting back to Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island.

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A mysterious cat puzzle on the ferry. No one seemed to be working on it or even anywhere near it. A similar puzzle was on the ferry we took to Orcas, even though it wasn't the same ferry.

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Mt. Erie in Anacortes. Lake Erie and Mt. Erie have an unusual name: Mt. Erie was named after the Battle of Lake Erie, which occurred in 1813 on the "other" Lake Erie. In the battle, the Americans defeated the British near Ohio. Later, as highly patriotic names were chosen for places in the northwestern corner of Washington, this mountain was named after that battle. The lake that is next to the mountain was called "Lake Erie" after the mountain.

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The Lake Erie Grocery Store next to Lake Erie. This store belongs to Daniel's great aunt Gerry and great uncle Don (Don is Daniel's grandpa's brother.) Daniel had not met them before, but we had arranged to see them while we were in the area. Unfortunately, the original plan (to visit on Wednesday) had not worked out. However, the rescheduling for Friday allowed more people to be there. We met Don and Gerry's son Joe, and their granddaughters Te'onna, Marissa, and Charli.

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From left: Te'onna, Charli, Joe, Don, Daniel, Catherine, Marissa.

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The store itself was very impressive and interesting. Though it is small, it seems to have a huge selection. Also, customers come in regularly (though It was apparently a pretty slow day, actually.) The store is connected to the house, so we just sat and visited and when the buzzer would go off that a customer had come in, either Don or Gerry would get up and help the customer, then come back.

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From left: Gerry, Don, Daniel, Catherine.
We had a great visit: Daniel learned a lot of interesting family stories and some geneological information, and we got to meet several relatives we didn't know before. We spent several hours there, then headed to the border to go to Victoria.

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Speaking of Victoria, a picture of the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria hanging above the counter at the store. This is apparently the ship that Daniel's great grandmother took when she immigrated to the United States.

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Crossing the border into Canada. The border guards are very inquisitive about why you are there and what you are doing. If we hadn't taken the crossing into another country seriously at first, we certainly would now.

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We made it on the earliest possible ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. The BC ferries are incredibly larger and more polished than the Washington ferries, though the Washington ferries were nice in their own way (smaller and more down-to-earth seeming).

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Washington and BC ferries compared.

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Some views of various islands from the ferry.

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The BC ferries are very confortable and well-appointed. More than anything, they feel like airports.

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Canada and the United States are similar in many ways. However, Canada has some odd chip flavors.

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After the rugged accommodations on Orcas Island, this room in an apartment in a subdivided mansion in Victoria seemed like the ultimate in sumptuous luxury.

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Our host recommended Zambri's Italian restaurant. It was delicious. We got the Italian Sausage pizza and the local turnips. Very had never tried turnips before, but they were good.

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Victoria is a beautiful city. It looks and feels clean, safe, and pleasant. There is a lot to do, and we are glad that we booked two nights here!

Posted by danielcatherine 02:43 Archived in Canada Tagged victoria ship border ferry pizza store luck cousins tiramisu groceries relatives anacortes lake_erie zambri's turnips Comments (2)

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