Waffle Gone Wild is a Can’t Miss in Vancouver, BC

Vancouver is one of those cities that it is hard to stay away from. Every once in awhile, I find myself drawn back there and the surrounding area for a road trip. It’s just irresistable.

The last time I was there, I found a place to eat that just knocked my socks off.

Have you ever found a great breakfast spot? The kind you have to share with friends or show off when family visits? Something that special?

If you go to Vancouver, that kind of place exists and it’s called Waffle Gone Wild.

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Great name, right?

And it fits what they offer there perfectly.

I ran down to Waffle Gone Wild one morning and picked up an order to bring back for everyone. These fresh baked Belgian waffles hit the spot and everyone of us on that trip raved about them. I had the Black Forest Ham & Cheese Waffle. This was a sandwich that substituted waffle for bread and was filled with perfectly cooked ham and cheese. Delicious!

Other orders in are group came with names like Strawberry Heaven, Japanese Okonomiyaki, Banana Split, and Creamy Potato.

It’s so nice when an unusual and eye catching eating establishment also pleases the tastebuds too.

The worst part about our experience with Waffle Gone Wild was that I didn’t go there until the morning of our last day in town. If I’d only gone there earlier, we could’ve eaten there more than once.

We will definitely make a point of seeking out Waffle Gone Wild on our next visit to Vancouver… which could happen at any moment.

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Vancouver’s Legendary Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel

A lot of times when out on a road trip, I find myself skimping and saving. You know, a lot of money is going into that gas tank and you’re always pressed for time. This means going through the drive thru one too many times or even packing a lunch from home to be eaten on the road. Nothing wrong with that either because sometimes a picnic along the way or that extra time in the car can bring out better conversation and camaraderie.

Other times though, it’s nice to splurge.

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On my most recent trip to Vancouver (B.C., not Washington), I did just that and stayed at the famous Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. This is one very special place to stay.

The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel sits right on the water and there are incredible views it seems in every direction. Watching the activity out on the water is very relaxing, whether you’re doing it from your hotel room, down by the pool, or from one of the many sitting areas.

Inside the hotel, it was equally special. The rooms are first class with only the highest quality features. From the bathroom to the beds, I was very impressed.

There are multiple places in the hotel to get food and drink too which is very nice. There is a fitness center, the best business center I’ve ever seen, and plenty of meeting space. The pool is awesome, featuring private cabanas and a large hot tub. Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, and I really enjoyed looking out on it while having a drink on the large outdoor patio.

I’m used to staying somewhere for a short time and moving on down the road. This was one hotel that was truly hard to leave though. I love Vancouver, but it was almost tough to tear myself away from my accommodation in order to have a look around the city.

I will always remember my time at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel very fondly. I won’t have to dwell on that memory though because I know for a fact that I’ll be back. Yeah… just try and keep me away.

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You Can’t Go Wrong at Higgins Restaurant and Bar in Portland, Oregon

Portland is a large city but has a unique feel to it that you cannot find in other places. One of the city’s biggest strengths is the diversity that can be found there. It is exactly this diversity, and the feeling that you can always find something new there, that always makes me happy to come back to Portland.

Going out to eat while in Portland is one of the best parts about visiting the city. It doesn’t matter what I’ve been hungry for at different times in Portland, I’ve always been able to easily find what I am wanting.

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Sometimes picking a place to eat when it is more than just you is tough because everyone you are with may want something different. One of the cool places I ate at during my last stay in Portland was Higgins Restaurant and Bar. This friendly establishment had the look of quality, and best of all for us that night, it not only offered the seafood I was looking for but also the Italian and American dishes that others dining out with us were wanting.

The service at Higgins Restaurant and Bar was awesome. Very friendly, in fact. I always appreciate it when the server is not afraid to share their personality and have a little fun. It can really add to the amount of fun you have.

I loved our time at Higgins Restaurant and Bar. It really made our stay in Portland that much more fun. I couldn’t imagine not going there again the next time I’m lucky enough to be in Portland.

5 Fun Facts: Idaho – Sun Valley

Sun Valley has been drawing tourists for over 80 years. From skiing in the winter to just about every other form of outdoor recreation in the warmer months, you can easily go to Sun River and entertain yourself for days on end. Because I love minutiae, which I understand annoys a lot of people, here are five fun facts about this very fun place to visit.

1. Skiing activities at Sun Valley take place on two nearby mountains, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. Bald Mountain has an elevation of 9,150 feet and Dollar Mountain’s elevation is 6,638 feet.

2. Sun Valley was developed in the mid 1930s as the first destination winter resort in the United States by W. Averell Harriman who was chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad. One of his main reasons for developing it was to increase ridership on Union Pacific passenger trains in the American West. 20 years later, Harriman would be elected as the governor of the State of New York.

3. Modern skiers depend on chair lifts to get them from the base of the mountain or the lodge up to the tops of the ski runs. The first ski chairlift in history was built in 1936 for use on Proctor Mountain, just two miles east of Bald Mountain. Two more chairlifts would be built and put into use in Sun Valley before any would appear at any other ski destination in the world.

4. American author Ernest Hemingway completed For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying in the Sun Valley Lodge during the fall of 1939. A little over 20 years later, Hemingway would commit suicide in his home in Ketchum, Idaho a short distance away.

5. In 1942, the resort at Sun Valley was closed and converted into a convalescent hospital for U.S. Navy personnel involved in World War II. It reopened as a ski resort in 1946.

Idaho’s Cataldo Mission

Northern Idaho is another of the very beautiful places we can enjoy easily in the Northwest. Coeur d’Alene is a popular vacation destination with a lot to offer, including golf, shopping, boating, swimming, biking, and more. This area also has an interesting history and some notable historical attractions worth seeing too.

Just east of Coeur d’Alene is the Cataldo Mission which is a very nice stop on a road trip through the area. The Cataldo Mission sits within the borders of Old Mission State Park. This mission was built in 1848, 42 years before Idaho was even a state. The Greek Revival architecture is very pleasing and just begs to be photographed. Entering this old church gives you the feeling of what it must’ve been like to do so all those years ago in land that had not even been made into a state yet.

I like historical facts and even trivia, and getting the chance to enjoy a fine historical site and at the same time witness some major Pacific Northwest trivia at the same time is too much to pass up on. Think about that as you’re driving down Interstate 90 through the Idaho Panhandle and debating whether you want to stop at the Cataldo Mission. If you pass on it, you will be passing on having the opportunity to walk right up to and into the oldest standing building in the state of Idaho.

In addition to this historic building, which alone is totally worth the stop, Old Mission State Park is also home to two old cemeteries, a visitors center, and a nature trail.

If you’re in the Coeur d’Alene area, make sure you head on out to the Cataldo Mission.

Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort

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Mount Hood dominates the skyline when looking east from Portland. The visual effect of the mountain over the city is incredible too. But Mount Hood is much more than just something to look at from afar. Mount Hood begs for visitors to come out and explore and enjoy its slopes.

The Northwest is peppered with a lot of high quality mountain ski areas. This is true in British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. One very special place to visit and try the skiing at is Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort near Portland, Oregon.

This is a full service ski resort that offers everything you would want, and so much more. If you are new to skiing, you can take lessons there. You can rent skis and all the equipment you could want and need for a full day on the slopes. You can venture up the mountain via chairlifts and try runs that range from beginner and intermediate level, all the way to expert. After exhausting the slopes, you can even retreat to the lodges down below and enjoy everything from your very own hotel room to dining rooms serving some of the best food in the area.

My favorite of the eating establishments there is the Paradise Grill. Go there, and you can enjoy great tasting barbecue, right out on the sundeck if you’d like. There are plenty of other great options too, including the Schuss Grill, and each of them offer some great food and refreshment for after a long day out on the slopes.

Whether you’re an avid skier or just touring the area on a road trip, stop in at the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. Take a day and ski the slopes. If you want though, skip the slopes and enjoy a nice drink or meal up on the side of this beautiful mountain. In fact, you can even find a great deal to do on the sides of Mount Hood during the summer months.

Regardless of your intentions, but especially if you’re a skier, the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort is a wonderful destination.

You should definitely take the time to visit this excellent destination.

5 Fun Facts: Washington – Gas Works Park in Seattle

At just under 20 acres, Gas Works Park is a popular wide open space in Seattle. It also has a very interesting history and some very cool things to look at. If you go to Seattle, you should really check it out. Here are five fun facts about this great Seattle park.

What’s in a Name?
The name of the park was originally Myrtle Edwards Park. The family of Edwards, who was a city councilwoman and a driving force behind the acquisition and development of the park, later requested her name be removed from it because the park plans called for keeping some of the remnants of the old gasification plant.

The Finish Line
During the season three finale of the reality television series The Amazing Race, Gas Works Park served as the finish line for the race.

Miles and Miles of Pipe
The gas plant that operated where Gas Works Park now sits once used over 1,000 miles of pipeline to get its product to the cities of Seattle, Renton, Kent, and Tukwila.

A Nice Foundation
The tallest hill in Gas Works Park is known as the Great Mound. It was formed by first piling thousands of cubic yards of rubble from the old building formations and then covering them with fresh topsoil.

From Pump to Play
One of the more unique features of Gas Works Park is the Play Barn. This structure is actually the old pump house for the gas production facility. Many of the original pumps remain located within the Play Barn today.

Staying at Rivertide Suites in Seaside, Oregon

Seaside, Oregon is a small community that sits on Oregon’s northern coastline. In fact, it is just a short drive to Seaside after crossing the Columbia River from Washington. It was first built up as a summer getaway in the late 1800s by a railroad tycoon. More than 100 years later, Seaside is still a fun and pleasant getaway.

One of the things that makes Seaside a nice place to go in the hot days of summer is that the weather is usually a little cooler there than in other locations further south. Seaside also has some strong history surrounding it as it was one of the final spots reached by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

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I’ve stayed twice at Rivertide Suites in Seaside, and each time it was something special. I enjoyed staying within a short walk of the ocean beach but having a nice view of the Necanicum River. There is surprisingly a lot of action on the river and it is fun to watch it all play out in front of you.

Rivertide Suites sits right in the middle of all of the Seaside action downtown. You can find all sorts of eating establishments, shopping venues, and just fun things to see and do within an easy stroll. It also is not far from Rivertide Suites to the famous Seaside Promenade for a nice walk along the shore. You can also easily make it over to the classic aquarium and the city’s video game arcade pretty easily too.

Rivertide Suites is a true first class hotel, and it shows. The indoor pool and hot tub area was immaculate, as was the room we stayed in. There is a gym, wi-fi access, business center, and more. The continental breakfast had a wide variety of choices so that all of us could find something that we wanted.

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Normally, I love to sample different places when I road trip around the Pacific Northwest. Rivertide Suites in Seaside though had earned a return visit.