Canada is very expensive in terms of travel, to the point that for many the cost is prohibitive to their movement. The reason as my friend Lisa explains is that there are only 35 million people in Canada and so there isn’t the demand. I don’t buy it, the reason as far as I can see is absolute lack of competition. Air Canada is absolutely crazy and has to have the most expensive flight tickets on earth followed extremely closely by so called budget carrier West jet which, in any other country on earth would be a premium airline verified by extortionate prices. Trains in Canada are eye-wateringly expensive and a coach of just 147miles cost me just sly of £100 for one adult and 2 kids, and that was leaving at 5am! Prices for the two coach companies plying the Vancouver – Seattle route are suspiciously similar and stinks of price fixing.
The border between Canada and the US on the Pacific coast is excruciatingly under staffed and took the coach about two hours to pass through as the two guys on duty consisted of one guy who was clearly on a pay by person wage assisted surely by someone who’s wage dropped $20 for each person he served within 20 minutes. The whole fiasco was worsened by my son who for some mind blowing, unfathomable reason randomly decided to declare he had a bomb. Needless to say, we arrived into Seattle about 3 hours late.
Seattle is somewhere I have been previously, it is a gorgeous city surrounded by a beautiful industry looking out over to gorgeous snow-capped rugged mountains in the distance. Our time in Seattle was actually very short, literally, a walk around the fun-filled discovery park, a laze around the fantastic kids park and then we were off to Everett to visit a childhood dream of mine. That said, I have to agree that discovery park is fantastic for families, though most attractions require re-mortgaging your home or selling your car, there are a number of things to do which are free. In honesty its pretty obvious why the whole area exists, at the centre is the synonymous to Seattle; Space Needle. I can imagine it now, one day some bloke was sat puffing on his stogie watching all the tourists making their way to the Space Needle. Likely he sprung to life and decided to build a few effortless museums and attractions to coax some of the footfall. The car park was wedged up to $10, and he sat back floundering banknotes over his investors. It worked. For those of us less willing to part with cash, there is the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation visitor centre which is free and there is the great children’s park which is well worth a visit and ideally located for some great photos in the shadow of the north west’s most famous tower.
Back to my childhood dream… Boeing have been knocking out planes for decades, a hundred years this year in fact. And their home in the Pacific Northwest is in the crime riddled hamlet of Everett, though thankfully on the outskirts. Home to the world’s largest building by volume and the centre of global travel, the Boeing complex is an absolute must for anyone lucky enough to be afforded an opportunity and is a 90 minute tour through the factories of planes such as the 777, 747 and 787 being built. The kids and I stood with jaws dropped as we made our way around seeing magic in the making. It easily, very easily ranks as one of the best tours/museums we have ever been on and was worth every cent of the $16 entrance fee ($8 for kids). It’s funny actually, staring at the vinyl green 747 before us being fitted out I stared and couldn’t believe it was the same plane that had carried us just a day earlier, a spectacular nod to man’s engineering prowess and desire to overcome logistical and indeed logical, problems. I finally got my lifelong curiosity answered too: Why do all Boeing passenger planes have 7×7 in their name. The answer (from a Boeing tour guide) Boeing makes a number of planes, and in a number of different classes, or series. The 7 series is their passenger class. The first 7 represents that it is a passenger plane, the second number is the model and the third number is there for marketing. I.e. Boeing 74 doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as 747. Genuinely.
Seattle is connected to adjacent islands via a hefty freeway which circumnavigates the land along with a number of ferry crossings. We were headed to a small town in the peninsula called Port Angeles and so rocked up at the Edmonton – Kingston ferry ready to shave a hundred miles from the road journey. Prices were $14 for me and the car, which is a jet black Buick Lacrosse complete with Wi-Fi, remote start, heated seats, climate control, Bose sound-system, leather dash board with oak trim, and weather built in with sat nav as standard. It’s a heck of a motor vehicle with huge alloys and amazing comfort. Anyway, kids were $4 each and the crossing took about 30 minutes.
Arriving into the peninsula was like stepping back in time to a pastel painted era of meticulous landscaping, wooden homes, homemade signs that adorn local businesses and all set to a stunning back drop of coastal beauty. Driving through I wished we had time to linger, but alas, the mountains beckoned and we headed west through forest which kindly allowed views partially obstructed by clouds of the very reason we were actually there.