Pacific Northwest 2017!!! (Post 1 of TBD)

Intro to our Pacific Northwest Adventure!

With these next series of posts, we are going to take you on a voyage to the Pacific Northwest of the United States.  Seeing places different from Florida is simply awe inspiring.  Of all the places we have been, this is the first place my wife would seriously consider moving to.  The trip extended 17 days departing from Orlando International Airport and flying into Vancouver International.  If you read our most recent post on booking airfare, you know we got a really good deal.  Our adventures encompassed so many different activities and places, and we want to make sure we tell you about all of them.   To keep it well organized, we are breaking it up into probably 4 posts.

On the way Flight & Airport Reviews

Let me begin this sections with this, if you can avoid making a connecting international flight in Toronto DO SO!!!  Our connection was in Toronto and it was very confusing, and time consuming.  We had two hours from the time we arrived at our gate until our boarding for our next flight, and it took every bit of it to get there!  In partial defense to the Toronto airport, they are going through a lot of construction.  That being said the entire transition and customs process and directions were very confusing.  Our flight to Vancouver, Canada from Orlando was with WestJet.   WestJet is well known in Canada as the low cost carrier of Canada.  They are relatively unknown to us in the United States.  I will add that I would definitely fly WestJet again.  Their customer service was top notch from the time of booking issues I mentioned in our previous post on the flights, to even letting us check extra bags for free at the counter.  I couldn’t be more pleased with WestJet, and they specifically advertise that they NEVER OVERBOOK their flights!  The Vancouver airport is a descent walk to baggage claim and it took a long time to get our bags.  However, all our bags and car seats arrived with no problems.  The best thing about the Vancouver Airport is the free luggage carriers.  In Orlando you have to pay $5 USD to use one.

Rental Car Pickup

We then headed over to the National Car Rental Emerald Club Section.  I can’t say enough good things about National, I have used them for work and personal rentals for a few years now.  If you book a midsize car under the free Emerald Club program, you can pick any vehicle from the Emerald Club Aisle.  We walked over and picked out the first minivan we saw and proceeded on our merry way.  Like I mentioned before, I searched for weeks to find the best rental car rate and for this entire trip we paid less than $500 TOTAL for this minivan.  That price is almost unheard of, especially for a minivan.  The Emerald Aisle section at the Vancouver Airport was loaded with Quad Cab Pickups, SUVS, Full Size cars, and even a full-size Excursion.

Snowater Resort

The first week of our stay we used a timeshare exchange to stay at the Snowater Resort.  I’d hardly call this place a resort, but nonetheless it’s located right outside the National Park on the way to Mt Baker Ski area so they call themselves a resort.  We had a 1 bedroom loft unit that was supposed to be 2 private bedrooms, but it definitely wasn’t a private bedroom as it is open to the living room below.  Nooksack Creek from Snowater Resort - Pacific NorthwestThe scenery is gorgeous with views of the raging Nooksak River out back made for an awesome sound machine at night.  It was a down time for the resort so it was really quiet.  Two big negatives with the resort.  The upstairs loft room gets very hot during the day and takes a while to cool off.  There is no fan up there so regulating the air flow was very difficult.  There was also a cleaning fee of $130, yet they ask you to throw all the trash out at the dumpster down the street, wash all the dishes, and take all the linens off the beds.  All in all the resort met our needs, the location was good, and we lived to see another day.  When we come back we’d probably seek out an AirBNB in lieu of this place.

Glacier, WA

We can’t say enough good things about the town of Glacier, WA.  First on the list is the Wake n Bakery!!  This place was so neat.  Wake 'N Bakery - Pacific NorthwestThey make a really good cup of coffee and several desert bars and cookies.  Our favorite was the Magic Cookie Bar.  In fact, we liked it so much, we bought a half sheet to take with us the Friday we left Glacier for our next destination so we could have some every day!  The owners are very nice, the place just has a cool vibe that makes you feel welcome and the food is great!  If you are passing by or staying anywhere near Glacier, WA, the Wake n Bakery has to be on your list of places to visit.  Give them a follow on Facebook so you don’t forget too!!  Our second favorite stop was the Glacier Public Service Center run by the National Forest Service.  The folks there are very knowledgeable of the entire area, they can point you to some good hikes to check out, road closures, as well as some neat information about the history of the area.  Last but not least, Chair 9 Pizza and Sports Restaurant.  We stopped in here after one of our difficult hikes (more on this later), the beer was good, the pizza was good, and the kids colored while dad got to watch sports, plus they had free WiFi, which in an area with no cell signal is a welcomed site to help plan your next day adventures.

Since this post was pretty long, I figure it’s best to let you read through this and digest it before overloading you.  Don’t worry there is more to come!  The next post will focus on what we did each day the first week as well as direct links to the Washington Trails App as well as All Trails app and my subsequent reviews and pictures of each trail.  For now enjoy the info in this post and if you have questions, shoot them to us in the comments.  Thanks!

Niagara Falls / Toronto

Our second post and trip takes us north a bit.  Before AirTran was bought out by Southwest, they were notorious for overbooking their flights from Atlanta to Orlando.  As luck would have it and I would have to go to Atlanta for work, I would volunteer my seat in return for 1 or sometimes 2 free roundtrip tickets anywhere in the Continental US.  Thanks to those tickets, myself, my wife, and my mother-in -law all went to Niagara Falls courtesy of AirTran.  Our next post will focus specifically on Airlines, finding the cheapest airfare, and traveling with kids.

For now though, I bring you Niagara Falls from our trip that occurred the end of October 2010.


This picture here was truly one of those once in a lifetime opportunities.  We stayed at the Embassy Suites on the Canadian side of the falls.  Traffic crossing the border at the time really wasn’t that bad at all.  That was of course over 6 years ago.  What’s funny about this trip was that we don’t recall a lot of details.  This was shorter than our typical trips.  My wife was also 6 months pregnant and until that point had been sick just about all day every day of the pregnancy.  With that in mind, our activities were a lot less strenuous than what we normally do.  Since this will be one of our shorter posts I also thought it would be great to implement our new section in our blog: Must Do, Don’t Do, Maybe Do and Travel Tip sections.  With each future location post we’ll have that section filled out with maps and links to everything worthwhile.

Must Do

  • Cave of the Winds – Not only was it truly spectacular and breathtaking, but it was not very strenuous and truly a beautiful site.
  • Made of the Mist Boat Tours – We did not do this.  The season ends the last week of October and we arrived 1 day too late.  However, we have heard from enough people how awesome this is.
  • Stroll along the sidewalk following the Falls on the Canadian Side.  They have done a really great job with making the entire area on the Canadian side of Niagara pedestrian friendly.  Shops, restaurants, and views of the falls for several miles.  It is just a really neat area and set up perfectly for an evening stroll.
  • Toronto – Talk about neat cities.  We have been wanting to go back ever since we went, and plan to one day.  You will see some of the pictures from below, we didn’t take very many, but Toronto is a neat city.  Be sure to check out the Distillery historic district as well as SOMA Chocolatiers for some one of a kind to die for chocolate.  We only spent 1 day in Toronto, but we also experienced the CN Tower (which you must do because everyone does it), however, it does have some spectacular views of the city.  Lastly, almost across the street from the CN Tower was Steam Whistle Brewing…free tours and FREE Beer!
  • New York Countryside – Get a map….not a GPS…and just drive.  Unless you want to pinpoint directions to one of a dozen various wineries.  They aren’t the best I have ever been too, but the drive to them was well worth it.  There is some beautiful countryside and some neat small farms you can stop and pick your own fruits and veggies.
  • Buffalo – but you really only need a day.  It’s a pretty drive through some of the city and there is a small historic area.

Don’t Do

  • Don’t travel after the 2nd week of October.  Half of everything is closed down due to impending winter weather.
  • Don’t book during major holidays.  Remember this is a major tourist attraction. Not only are there going to be MANY more people, but all costs will be significantly higher.  Avoid holidays if you can.

Travel Tips

  • Fly into Buffalo, typically it is cheaper.  However, if you have a passport we have seen rental cars be significantly cheaper out of Toronto.   If you are going for an extended period of time, and have a passport, I’d fly into Toronto.  Here’s a quick tip on rental cars before we dive deeper in a few weeks…always book several rental car reservations.  Book the cheapest one you find, then if you find another book it then cancel the other.  Keep doing that and checking literally every day.  Prices change hourly for rental cars it seems.

Last, but not least, enjoy a view of our favorite pictures.


 Fall!    Buffalo – Roosevelt Historic Site Lookout over the Falls

US / Canada Border Crossing

 Fall Leaves SOMA – Need we say more The Falls lit up at nightAnchor Bar in Buffalo – Supposedly home to the original chicken wings