Thursday, 27 July 2006, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
At last we have arrived in Canada. We always thought we would be here by mid-June, or latest the beginning of July - we arrived 2 days ago, on the 25th, and came straight to Vancouver Island. But before telling you anything about that, I must finish off our visit to Washington.
Last Thursday we headed toward Tacoma and the Dash Point State Park, which is slightly north of the city of Tacoma in the city of Federal Way. The Park is on the coast of Puget Sound and looked quiet and had very pleasant surroundings. The problem was that we had arrived just before a weekend with the hope of staying until Sunday. Thursday night we had no problem getting a site - and a powered one at that. For Friday night we managed to pre-book a site in the un-powered area, and for Saturday night we just had to wait and see! Weekends in summer are certainly difficult in the USA when it comes to finding a place to camp - as we continually discover.
On Thursday afternoon we drove along the coastline into Tacoma - it is not the quickest route, but was quite pretty until we came to the port area, which was fairly typical of all port areas! Driving along Pacific Avenue, we found a camera store and a Starbucks fairly quickly. The camera store turned out to be an excellent discovery, as we had a corrupted memory disc in our camera, and we were afraid we would lose all the photos. The guy there said, no problem, leave it with me and you'll have your pictures on DVD tomorrow afternoon. It was just over $30 with tax - a bit expensive, but we considered it worth it. We had pictures from Colombia Gorge and Mt Rainier on it and were really relieved that we wouldn't lose them. Starbucks of course allowed us to catch up with emails, after 4 days out in the Parks, without phone or internet access.
We spent Friday catching up with some things one can only do in urban areas. Both of us were well overdue for haircuts, so we achieved that. We found through recommendations a trustworthy diesel mechanic to have a listen to our truck and give us some advice on the way it's sounding - nothing to worry about yet, but told us what to watch out for. We also booked into a tyre place to have the tyres rotated, that we had bought in Los Angeles. We achieved all of that in Federal Way, and then we drove back into Tacoma to pick up the photos and card and to visit the same Starbucks again, this time to update the website. That was a fairly busy day, and no amazing sights to report amongst it!
The main reason we wanted to go to Tacoma was that Juergen had read about the thriving group of glass artists and the Museum of Glass, so on Saturday we set out to visit it. Tacoma is well organised in that it has a Museum District on Pacific Drive, and a car park conveniently located next to it. We parked there and walked past the Washington State History Museum to the Union Station building. This building was designed by the same people who built New York's Grand Central Station. Unfortunately it now houses the federal courts and is therefore securely locked up on weekends. We looked through the windows and doors and could see enough to ascertain that it must have been an amazing railway station in its heyday. It is also decorated with selected pieces of modern glass art - so try to get in on a weekday!
The Museum of Glass is connected to Pacific Avenue and the Museum District by the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, which crosses the railway line and the freeway. This bridge exhibits work by Dale Chihuly, who is a native of this area and has done much to foster the development of glass artists. The bridge features a wall and a ceiling of glass pieces by this artist and also two large poles with glass attached - see the photos for a view of these! The wall, called the Venetian Wall, was almost 10 m long and about 2.5 m high, made up of individual showcases (most about 50 cm by 80cm, and a few twice that height), each containing a unique piece. The ceiling at the other end of the bridge, called the Seafoam Pavilion, was about 3m by 5m and contained an uncountable quantity of pieces with a seaside theme.
Inside the Museum of Glass, there are three galleries, with changing exhibitions - not always of glass work - and the Hot Spot Amphitheatre, which is a 30 m steel cone which houses a glass studio, where visitors can watch glass blowers at work. The artist in residence during the time we were there was a French woman called Nadege Desgenetez, who coincidentally is on the faculty of the Australian National University in Canberra. I found this part of the museum the most fascinating, and sat for a considerable time just watching the artists at work. Two of the galleries had relatively interesting exhibitions, but the third I didn't find at all my thing! This museum is well worth a visit, but the Bridge of Glass is a must see!!!

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