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San Francisco to Vancouver -- 2006

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      Date:                                   June 1st, 2006
      Length of Cruise:               3 Days
      Ship:                                    Infinity
      Cruise Line:                         Celebrity
      Embarkation:                      San Francisco CA
      Ports of Call:                        Victoria, Vancouver Island
      Final Destination:                Vancouver, BC
      Cruise Mates:                       Ed and Andi Myers
      Total Days With Princess: 28
      Total Days At Sea: 35

Sometimes cruise lines will have to shift their ships from one general area of the world to another, to go along with the seasons of the year. Ships do not usually do a lot of cruising to Alaska in the winter when it is frozen up there. And most cruisers are not interested in the Caribbean when it is hurricane season. So they will do a type of a "transitional" cruise where they will move the ship from the Caribbean to the West Coast of the US to run the Alaska summer cruises. When they do that, they offer nicely priced short cruises, usually about three days in length. They can be a way to experience your first cruise or try out a particular cruise line or a specific ship and only be gone a few days. That is what we did with this cruise.

Rosalee's niece Andi Myers had seen Celebrity Cruise Line's Infinity in port in San Francisco and was curious about how they were in comparison to our usual faire, Princess. So we did a "3-day" from San Francisco to Vancouver, BC, via Victoria, Vancouver Island, just a short distance from Vancouver. We could experience their entertainment, their food service, their cabin service, etc.

We decided that the four of us (Ed Myers was allowed to go with us too. LOL) would stay for a few days in Vancouver and see some sights up there. Following the report on the cruise will be a display of images taken in Vancouver.

We traveled over to San Francisco to the pier where our ship awaited us in a small van from a service that does that, so we would not have to ask someone else to carry us over and fight the traffic back home. From the Oakland - San Francisco Bay Bridge we could see San Francisco, with her Coit Tower in the center, proudly crowning Nob Hill. The San Francisco Ferry Building can be seen in the lower left corner, with its famous clock tower.


In the center of the image is the San Francisco Ferry Building, with the clock tower next to it showing us our time. That clock was stopped by the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 at exactly 5:04 pm, the time the 'quake struck. Coit Tower can be seen in the upper left corner on top of Nob Hill, and Alcatraz Island is in the upper right corner. Our awaiting ship is just in front of Alcatraz, with a big white X on her stack.


Our ship... this is the first time any of us have been on a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship, so we are looking forward to what we find. We had heard good things about them. I'm not that excited to "jumping ship" because if this were a Princess ship, we would be gaining "seniority" with them which builds up toward moving up a step in the Classes. That gives you a few extra perks. But it should be fun.

That lower row of individual square windows across the front enclose the bridge. Notice the bridge extends across the front and over the sides, making it the widest portion of the ship. It allows the officers to look straight down when docking. Looking back along mid ship you can see the orange and white life boats/tenders. The color is the same on most all ships to increase their visibility at sea during an emergency. To estimate the size of a ship, double the number of lifeboats on one side (both sides are usually equal) and multiply that by about 180, the average number of people they can hold, and you will know how many souls are on board a ship. That would include the crew, of course, which number about 1/3 of the passengers.

Look up toward the top above the lifeboats and you see an overhanging deck. That us the Resort Deck (10) and it is closed in on the side, but that is for wind protection, because that is a deck with swimming pools and bands and party animals. Our cabin was about mid ships, on the deck just under that overhang, on the port side.


From the upper decks of the ship we can clearly see across the wharf area, across the bay, over to the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. A typical San Francisco fog bank is pulling in, but the 4,200 foot clear span of the bridge is visible along the bottom of the bank. The "Liberty" ship is the S. S. Jeremiah O'Brien which served during WWII.

Launched in 1943 she was one of over 2,700 that were built and served so valiantly for world peace. The O'Brien made eleven crossings of the English Channel to support the D-Day invasion, as well as many other 'cruises'. A smaller ship fired upon a Japanese two-man mini-sub that was spotted just outside Pearl Harbor the day before the bombing that brought the US into the war. Later that ship was put out of service by an enemy torpedo and it was a torpedo from the Jeremiah O'Brian that  had to end her service. The captain on the O'Brien was the same captain that commanded that small ship when she fired on the Japanese mini-sub. That little sub was discovered just recently and it did in fact have the signs that the ship had indeed sunk her and may have altered the course of the Pearl Harbor invasion.


As we back out of our berth, we see a container ship coming in under the 'gate', while in front of our view is the Balclutha, a restored ship that has been a National Historic Landmark since 1985.

Launched from Cardiff, Wales under British Registry in 1887 she set sail on her maiden voyage of 140 days, carrying 2,650 tons of coal to San Francisco. She was a fast sailer and carried grain from California to Europe, pottery, cutlery and Scotch from England to San Francisco. In 1889 she was under Hawaiian registry and carried lumber from Washington state to Hawai'i and Australia and wool and tallow from New Zealand to London. She was the last ship to sail under Hawaiian registry.

She went aground in  1904 and was sold for $500 to Alaskan fish packers that used her under her new name Star of Alaska to carry canned fish and cannery workers between Alaska and Alameda, California. She was retired and sold to a Frank Kissinger for $5,000 and renamed Pacific Queen and taken down to where she was anchored off Catalina Island where she was used in several films, including "Mutiny on the Bounty", and then towed up and down the California coast and displayed as a "pirate" ship.

She was deteriorating and barely escaped the scrap iron drives of WWII to be picked up and saved in 1954 by the San Francisco Maritime Museum for $25,000 and restored.

The large archway at the left side of the Golden Gate Bridge is designed to 'step over' Fort Point, another National Landmark that was built in 1853 to guard the entrance to San Francisco Bay. I understand that a shot has never been fired from her cannons. As you can see if you follow the line of the huge suspension cables down from the left (south) tower, the engineers constructed the massive concrete anchor for those cables south of the fort, solely to preserve the fort. At the time of the construction, that bridge was the longest free-span bridge in the world.

No matter how many times I cross under this bridge, I never tire of it, and I will probably never be inspired to drag out my camera. Just like sunsets, every time you look at this bridge, it is different. This is, of course, the north tower, which was constructed in very shallow water. The south tower, however, was constructed at more than 80 feet of very cold and very fast water, which also changes direction. When tide is going out, it takes a good amount of horsepower in your boat to go against it, and when it comes in, it is just the same problem in reverse. The channel in mid-span is about 260 deep.


Early morning on the third day we were coming into Puget Sound. It was so peaceful and serene. And the weather was very mild.


We have had a day at sea and are approaching the Victoria area.


One of the many boats and ferries making Victoria's harbor busy.


The further north we travel, the more of these we see. Referred to by the 'locals' as "float planes", they are standard planes that are fitted with pontoons so that they can utilize the many waterways during the time they are not frozen. In Alaska one out of maybe four people own a plane, and it usually sits at the edge of the lake or river near the homes for easy access. Some will have wheels built into the pontoons so they can land on runways, roads, or just open land. These float planes do NOT land on show, even though they look like they could. Some planes do have skis that can be fitted with or without the landing wheels. This plane may be large enough to carry possibly sixteen people.


The 'locals' tell us that Victoria has the best weather in the whole area, due to some natural deflection of the elements by the shape of the hills and ocean. There is a range of mountains that go clear to the sea running east-west down below the strait that we came in from the sea. It takes most of the moisture out of the winds that come in from the sea from the south. They get the snow and rain. We were amazed at the number of cranes working in the area. We can see six here, and there were many more in Vancouver. We are told that they are getting ready for the Olympics that are coming to town in 2010.


This is showing how the deck that is above us sticks out so far that we felt as if our cabin was under a bridge. With the diagonal braces sticking out and the wide overhang there was some impaired view as well as cutting off some sunlight. But we certainly had plenty of privacy from overhead. LOL

While in Victoria we visited the Butchart Gardens, and they were spectacular. One hundred years ago the Butchart Family quarried limestone and when they no longer did that, Mrs. Jennie Butchart turned the huge hole in the ground into a beautiful sunken garden.

You can probably guess that I have more than these two images of that garden. LOL

We set sail in the evening for Vancouver, British Columbia, where we will disembark. We have reservations in a hotel for several nights, where the four of us will check out what is to be seen in the area.

This is called the Capilano Bridge, a suspension bridge that is strung across a pretty deep canyon. As you can see, several people can be crossing the bridge at the same time, but you can see from the sign that they do have some restrictions. And yes... that bridge does move in response to your walking across it. I was late crossing back across because I was checking out some suspended walkways going from tree to tree on the other side, and the bus driver ended up waiting a few minutes for me. Good thing I had spent some time talking with him earlier... and that Rosalee was there to tell him I was coming. LOL. When coming back, people were walking too slowly across and I could not hurry. As you approach each end, it gets rather steeply inclined.

But not quite as steeply inclined as this is... This image was taken from the Grouse Mountain Tram, on the way up to the top. We are looking out to the West, across Vancouver. It was a very nice ride, and an excellent view of the city. We got here on the same bus that took us to the suspension bridge.

While on our excursion we visited an area called Stanley Park where this and many other wood carvings were done and left for others to enjoy. I am pretty sure this whole carving was done from a single stump. It was quite large... the eagle's eye was about the size of a dime, or a sewing thimble that slips over your finger. Also in the area were a group of beautifully carved Totems that were typical of the local tribes of Indians... they are referred to as "First Nations" up there.

The Totems in the area are not idolized or worshipped in any way. They are used solely to tell a story of the local area.

Things are rather different in the cities of our Northern neighbor. Things as simple as vehicles. Many of the cars were for many years Canadian-built versions of American-design Fords, Chevys and Chryslers, but now many imported vehicles are there, which is much like our own cities, of course. But coming from a trucking family and having worked on them for some years, some of those really caught my eye. We saw three mixer trucks for hauling wet concrete to the job.

You don't see too many rigs on US highways with a double front axle, unless it is a large crane that requires permits to be on the road, and most rigs on US highways run a maximum of 18 wheels on the ground, with some exceptions, on a truck tractor, semi trailer, and a pull trailer. This rig has that drop-down axle in the rear which has dual tires (none like that in the US) giving him 16 wheels on a single vehicle, and those front tires are large enough to count as duals.

This rig has a similar wheel arrangement, but notice the drop-down axle is using two of those fat tires. This rig is stated on the side as having a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 42,000 Kilograms, or almost 92,600 pound. US highways (with very few exceptions maxes out at 80,000 pounds with heavy fines if you exceed that weight. The larger rig below is rated even higher,


with 22 wheels (I cannot see if there is a drop-down axle also) and a GVW of 42,600 Kg (just under 94,000 lbs). And all three of these vehicles are on city streets no less.

The area where they were at this time was called Gastown, a restored, formerly industrial area. And this street clock certainly fit the area. Most of you know that I repair clocks and can't pass one by without checking it out or fixing it or at least taking a picture of it. Ed is checking out this one. This clock actually runs from steam that runs under the streets for heating buildings and providing some steam power to small industries. There is a steam-driven piston that lifts lead weight about the size of golf balls, and they fill cups in an endless chain of cups. Their weight provides the power to run the pendulum. At the quarter hour steam whistles protruding from the top of the clock sound out the Westminster melody and on the hour one long blast from a fifth whistle.

The architecture in this city was rather unique. This image was of the top of a building, taken from an even higher building. I referred to it as "Chrome Dome".

This one appeared to be the landing zone for a UFO.


And this restaurant had a waterfall that went from the roof to the ground.

A lot of architectural glass was used, and it was beautiful.


























We stayed in the one above, at about the twentieth floor, and though the one below looks like a living room with a grand piano, it is actually a lobby of a shopping center.




















































To the right is an image taken from inside the Court House >>>>
Hanging Gardens of Babylon, anyone?

...and below is looking down on a building that is completely glass on the top... not sure what building it was. I cannot think of a lovelier place to be on a cold, snowy day.

Some buildings looked like they were covered with copper >>>

...while others were covered with bushes...











Or maybe the occasional tree ?! At twelve stories up?











Or one that looks a lot like the "Flatiron" building in San Francisco.




They even use glass to make entries for facilities that are below ground look cool...









That UFO that we saw earlier on top of the building offered the chance to ride up and look around. I took several shots from there. We had a 360 view from up there.


The first view is to the South, and to the left of the image you can see a giant white pillow. That is the BC Place Stadium, the home of the local BC Lions. It is the biggest air-supported domed stadium in the world. It covers ten acres... one third the area of the ranch on which I grew up. It can seat 60,000 people and keep them warm. The roof is 1/30th of an inch (0.85 mm) of fiberglass and Teflon and is "stronger than steel". Sixteen electric fans keep a positive pressure inside the building and is the only thing holding up that cushion.

Notice that the large building to the left has what looks like a greenhouse on the top. I would love to check that out.


Turning to the left is a view to the East, with the Cruise Ship Terminal that looks like a ship at sea under full sail. No ships are in at the moment, but this is where we came into town.



Looking toward the North...


And to the West... the shorter building in the center seems to have an aqua-colored roofed home sitting on top. We saw some like this in San Diego as well. I guess if you can afford the Penthouse, you can build it just like the old home back on the ranch, should you have a fancy to do so, eh?


Well, we've covered the whole vicinity of Vancouver but we finally found what we were looking for... a coupl'a good-time girls. :-)

Andrea, Rosalee's niece and Rosalee, waiting for Ed and me to join them for FOOD! In another location we found out what real Fish 'n Chips tasted like and we went back for more. Good enough to go back for, for sure.



















































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