Vancouver, BC

After arriving via train in Seattle we grabbed a rental car and headed up to Vancouver, British Columbia. The drive was about 4 hours which included a 45 minutes to cross the border. In Vancouver we stayed in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood near City Hall. From here we were able to take public transportation, walk or drive into the city.

Architectural Walking Tour
UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledThe Architectural Institute of British Columbia hosts walking tours throughout Vancouver every day of the week. Their color-coded schedule leads much to be desired though as we meant to take the Gastown: Historic Beginnings of Vancouver tour but ended up on the Downtown: The business core of Vancouver. This was immediately obvious to us since the both tours started at the AIBC’s headquarters in Gastown but about 10 minutes without the tour title being discussed at any point we put two and two together. It was nice to have a guided walk around Vancouver but we weren’t really interested in the business district. One of the things we did learn about Vancouver, is much like all great cities it was burned to the ground at one point in the Great Vancouver Fire.

Harbour Centre
UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledView from Harbour CentreView from Harbour CentreView from Harbour Centre
After the tour we headed up to the restaurant at the top of the Harbour Centre which rotates for a 360 degree view of the city. It was great to get a visual scale of the city and the surrounding area.

North Vancouver
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For a quick afternoon trip we took the Water Taxi across to North Vancouver and visited the Lonsdale Quay market. North Vancouver is a commuter neighborhood about 15 minutes via ferry across the harbor from Vancouver.

Postmark Brewing Company
Just past the Eastern edge of Gastown sits the Postmark Brewing Company which is part of The Settlement Building brand collective, this includes a bakery, restaurant, winery and brewery. We didn’t eat their but we sat near the food service window and everything look great.

Port of Vancouver
We took a tour of the Port of Vancouver which is the largest sea port in Canada and the fourth largest in North America by tonnage. It’s hard to appreciate the setting of a large city, mountains and the ocean in the midst of an massive active shipping port.

Side Notes:
*Julie insisted we stop by the Rogers Arena so we could inquire about championship t-shirts at the Canucks team store.

Manifest Destiny

This past July I headed out to the Pacific Northwest via train with Julie and her family with a stopover in Glacier National Park. The first leg of the trip was roughly 30 hours from Chicago to Glacier Park East and the second leg was close to 16 hours from Glacier to Seattle. We had a roomette throughout the trip on the Empire Builder line which includes meals and access to shower facilities.

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We were a little over two hours delayed on our first leg of the trip due to back to back derailments earlier in the week with in a 5 mile radius outside of Culbertson, Montana. A day earlier and we would have been in some serious trouble.

UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledWe stayed in a Roomette for our trip which is basically a small private room with a two seats, a window and a single electrical outlet. The seats convert into a bed and then a top bunk pulls down from the ceiling. I slept on the top bunk both nights on our trip, there isn’t much room to maneuver up there but depending on the age of your car it can be vary from rickety to sturdy. I experienced both. The seats though I found much more comfortable than sitting in the cafe car or the observation chairs. The room is very quiet once the sliding door is closed. UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled
The meals on the long run Amtrak routes such as the Empire Builder are included with your Sleeper or Roomette. Your car attendant will check in with you before meals to choose a reservation time. I would suggest taking an earlier reservation as the farther along you get on your trip the more likely they are to run out of various options. The food was acceptable, the chicken for lunch was good and the steak for dinner was cooked to order. Generally speaking if you have less than four in your party you’ll be seated with other guests. This is the most social aspect of the trip.

Glacier National Park
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We stayed overnight at Glacier Park Lodge to break up the trip. We ended up arriving at the lodge in the evening after dinner on the train. The lodge has a bar open until around 11pm and there are a couple of restaurants in town as well. We pretty much called it a night and then headed out to Two Medicine Lake in the morning. With only really having one full day at the park we decided to do the boat across Two Medicine Lake via the Glacier Park Boat Company and then a short hike on the other side.

Our departing train was four hours late arriving at the lodge on Monday evening. It was scheduled for 6:45pm and we didn’t board until about 11pm. For me this wasn’t a problem as it gave us another four hours to hang out on the back porch of the lodge as the sunset. The bar was open, much better than being stuck on the train for four extra hours.

We did miss seeing the train travel through the park as it was dark by the time we boarded but I think this made the second leg of the train ride go much faster. We arrived at King Street Station in Seattle a little after 1pm. Overall I thought it was a great experience. I got to see parts of the country that I’m doubtful I would have seen any other way. Glacier Park was pretty amazing and the food was pretty good.

Side Notes:
* Beer served at the Cafe Car included domestics and one regional craft beer, which on the Empire Builder is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

CAF: Scavenger Hunt

This past Saturday I participated in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 2nd Annual Scavenger Hunt which took place in the Loop and South Loop neighborhoods. There was a group of six of us with Julie and I participating on separate teams. The scavenger hunt consisted of a map with 23 buildings listed A through W, a set of 23 pictures listed 1 through 23 and then a set of 23 clues (one for each building). Finally there was an answer card to enter all of your answers, one letter from each answer then made up a final question. So the idea was to find the picture of the building, which led you to the clue, then to the building to locate the answer and write it on the answer card. Once the answer card was complete it would spell out a final puzzle. Once you had the final question you returned to the starting point and then had to answer another question that was similarly complicated. My team got a late start but as seasoned competitors we were able to make up lost ground and more or less ran away from the field. I believe our total time was about an hour and thirty minutes, though this was not a timed event. Out of our three teams we placed 1st, 2nd and 4th.

Motor Row Brewing
After the event we headed to a new brewery in the Motor Row District which is just south of the South Loop near McCormick Place. I believe Motor Row Brewing opened in January of this year. It’s a small place but they will be expanding their tap room to a second floor that will hold 60 people later this summer.

Breakroom Brewery
After Motor Row we headed to Breakroom Brewery for dinner which is just Southwest of Ravenswood on the Northside. Breakroom is connected to a Heineman Bar Company which is a craftsmanship that specializes in the construction of bars. Quite a bit of a wait for a table but the food was worth it. Plus the Montrose Saloon is across the street.