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Leaving Port Hardy on the north east side of Vancouver Island, we set a world record getting to Victoria - a SLOW record! It took us exactly a week, stopping at Sayward, where we saw the cable cafe; a few nights at Qualicum Beach (thanks Jim and Angie, yours is a great B&B and you certainly sent us to the right seafood restaurant) where we took the opportunity to drive to Tofino and Ucluelet for a day. The full moon on the return trip to Qualicum Beach was wonderful. Another night at Chemainus and we eventually reached Victoria, one of my favourite cities.
We treated ourselves to a suite overlooking the inner harbour at the Harbour Towers, and enjoyed a few days exploring Victoria and environs, going to the undersea gardens, miniature place, whale watching,shopping and walking.
21 September we caught the Victoria Clipper to Seattle, anticipating a wonderful ride through the San Juan islands and Puget Sound. The weather closed in again and this time it didn't clear. It was impenetrable drizzle all the way and pouring rain in Seattle.
We had booked the one and only unit at Halcyon Units in Queen Anne. I can find the contact details if anyone is interested. This is an absolute gem.
We had a private unit perched on a hillside about 10 minutes by bus from downtown, with an amazing fully furnished covered deck overgrown with camellias and white roses; our bed was a king sized, leather upholstered sleigh bed; there was a desk, lamps, WiFi free, a coffee maker, small refrigerator, microwave and cutlery and dinnerware. Our bathroom was a delight, pure luxury, and there were fluffly towels and bathrobes plus free parking for our car. The best part was the VIEW: we looked straight down onto Magnolia Marina, and across Puget Sound to the cruise ships and ferries coming and going.
Best of all, the lovely proprietor Gretchen was unable to be there to greet us, so she left a wonderful bottle of Washington Chardonnay and a huge antipasto platter by way of apology. We spent ten nights there and it was just perfect, and one third of the cost of a downtown hotel.
In ten, mainly fine days we covered Seattle, including outlying attractions like the Museum of Flight, drove to North West Trek, Mt Rainier, the North Cascades, Tulalip Factory Outlets, saw Pike Place Market and the aquarium, rode the monorail and had dinner in the revolving restaurant in the Space Needle.
With much sadness we flew out on Hawaiian Airlines back to Honolulu on 1 October; we left SEATAC at 8:30am; 12:30pm, and 4pm - pressurization problems and the captain wisely refused to fly the Pacific without a backup system. We eventually got to Honolulu about 8pm instead of the scheduled lunchtime. These things happen, and Hawaiian are still our favourite airline.
After another four days in a considerably better hotel with a knockout view ( Beachcomber in August, Pacific Beach on the way home); multiple tours, trolley rides, a luau, and LOTS of shopping, we staggered to the airport under a heavy load on 5 October. This time the international dateline had its revenge, and we got to Sydney late on 6 October. We stood at the baggage carousel with lots of other shopping Aussies, wondering how the plane got into the air with all that shopping!
Down to earth and a crummy motel at the airport, for a higher price than any other we stayed in on the whole trip. Next morning we got a hire car, stopped at Bargo to pick up our new puppy, and headed home to distribute the loot to the family. The 3 grandkids nearly tore our luggage apart! Our dollar had sunk from 93.9 cents US to 68 while we were away, but we bought all our greenback at 93.9 so made a profit when we traded in our $4000 A that we didn't spend. Bonus!
A wonderful trip, apart from Customs at Calgary. We saw an amazing variety in only 8 weeks, and took more than 46,000 photos and 21 hours of HD video.
Next one is SW USA and Mexico in 2012. I'll try to do the trip report in the same year.
If anyone is interested in anything we did, feel free to contact; we're always happy to encourage Aussies to try the USA.

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