And so my time on the west coast comes to a close. I've been kicking myself for not being more mindful about making sure that I got to do and see everything I could. I admit, I got complacent. I could "always" go anytime, it was "always" going to be there. I wasn't going anywhere...or so I thought. There was always one reason or another why I didn't go. Most of it was financial because I'm so damn cheap. Now I wish I'd just bitten the damn bullet and spent the extra money for the hotel & gas. In my defense, I had to save up my vacation to go to the Cape, have time off around the holidays and have one other short vacation, which always ended up being to Canada because, let's face it, I'm addicted to Super, Natural British Columbia, which province is my next door neighbour.
I can honestly say that I had, for the most part, conquered my California-themed bucket list. I didn't spend as much time in the Sierras as I would have liked, but I did see an awful lot of Northern California (and parts of Central and SoCal as well) and I am glad that I did. When I moved up here, I remember thinking that there was going to be very little need for me to vacation in CA again, since I'd already seen everything I wanted to see (although now that I shoot exclusively digital, I'd love a few do-over vacations to Mendocino & Humboldt Counties). In the 12 years I've been here, I only went back to San Francisco once in 2008 for Donnie and Mike's wedding.
Unfortunately, I did not take full advantage of all that Western Washington and the Pacific Northwest has to offer, and I deeply regret that. I didn't get to Leavenworth. I didn't do North Cascades/Cascade Loop or go to Cape Flattery or beachcomb the many remote & dramatic beaches on the Olympic Peninsula. Didn't visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival or the San Juan Islands, although I did sail through the San Juans twice coming back from Vancouver Island. I've only recently been to Mount St. Helens and at that I didn't go all the way to the end of the road and really spend time there. I have never been terribly interested in vacationing in Eastern Washington at all. But I figured that, at some point, I would finally force myself over the Cascades to see what the high desert, channeled scablands, Blue Mountains and The Palouse had to offer. I've seen pictures of East/South Eastern Washington and it's a different and alien world over there. I fantasized about finding arrowheads in Eastern Washington, along the Columbia River. The Grand Coulee Dam is over there too. Then there is the beautiful and mountainous Okanogan region in North Eastern Washington that goes up into South Eastern British Columbia.
I never got to drive the Sea-To-Sky Highway to Whistler, BC to do a zipline and take the new Peak-To-Peak Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. There was the helicopter tour I wanted to take from the summit of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, that I didn't have time to do the only time I ventured up to mainland BC. Didn't get to Hope, BC either. I wanted to spend more time on Vancouver Island but only made it as far north as Chemainus. I wanted so much to travel farther north and west and see Ucluelet and Tofino. I had hoped to get back to Victoria one more time to take the float plane tour that never happened for me in the past and see Fisgard Lighthouse and Esquimalt Lagoon. I wanted to take the Ghostly Walks Tour again, and beachcomb some more at Willows Beach.
I would also like to have gotten back down to Oregon and visited the super hippie, college town Eugene, home of the University of Oregon Ducks. I could have even based out of Eugene and taken a side trip to Crater Lake. It would have been fun to get back to Cannon Beach & Seaside again too. I love Portland and I wish I had seen more of it, especially the rest of the Bridges and another trip to the Saturday Market wouldn't have been amiss either. But alas and alack, I rarely ventured out of Bonney Lake on the weekends and now I wish I had.
Less realistic Northwest Bucket List items included the Queen Charlotte Islands of Canada (above Van Isle), Banff & Lake Louise in Alberta and the Kootenay Rockies region of Eastern BC.
On the other hand, I am now returning to a place that I never fully appreciated during the first 24 years of my life, before I fled to the west coast. Over the years I have kicked myself for not traveling more in New England and the Canadian Maritimes, and I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to see these places.
I'm going to miss the west coast so much, but my squeeze and I can always travel back up here in the future, and visit the places I didn't get to see yet. It's going to be a lot of fun (and a novel concept) to have someone who actually likes to travel and spend time seeing things on vacation with me, instead of holing up in the hotel room, reading and not wanting to sightsee, and complaining because I take too long to line up a photo or ask to stop at every scenic overlook. This is why I have traveled alone the last 6 years.
It's been a blast but it's time to move on and start the next chapter.