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Roadtrip 2014 – Day 4

April 23, 2014

Today’s envelope was Day #4 and opening it brought some nice surprises!
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Today’s plan included visiting Steveston (part of Richmond) where many of the scenes from Once Upon A Time are filmed, a visit to the Mint boutique store in Vancouver, Starlit Citadel the board game shop, and riding the Amtrak Cascades train from Vancouver to Seattle! Wow! What a great day this is going to be!

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After breakfast we packed up as quickly as we could and set off in search of the filming locations for Once Upon A Time. I don’t know if you’re a big fan of the show, or if you’ve ever heard of it, but we are big fans. It’s on Sunday evenings and we try to watch it, or at least record it and watch it later. Rhonda and the kids have seen every single episode as Disney brings back so many of the fables and fairy tales from the past and we see them in a fresh new look and new stories. It’s fantastic!

As it turns out much of the outdoor filming happens in Greater Vancouver! So we set out to find Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop, the library, Granny’s Diner, and anything else we could find!

Well, we weren’t disapointed! In fact we were very pleasantly surprised! We arrived “on scene” at about 9:30 and found a parking spot just a few blocks away! Within minutes we spotted Mr. Gold’s Pawn shop, which is actually a store that sells all kinds of scent things, bath bombs, etc. We found the library, and we found Granny’s Diner!

As we continued our walk we found the Storybrooke Pet Shelter, and a few other great little buildings. We wandered into a tourism office / post office and met a wonderful lady who told us all kinds of stories about filming Once Upon A Time. Apparently they have a name for fans like us “Oncers” and it’s meant in a very pleasant way! While we were visiting the owner of the candy shop came in and continued the conversation with us, regaling us with stories of the special fudge and other candy concoctions that she has made for various cast and crew members! She has a Snow White Fudge, a candy for Hook, a dark castle for the Dark One, Blue Fairy wands. Oh it was so delightful! They say the cast and crew is incredibly friendly and helpful!

Apparently it takes a good part of the late afternoon and evening to setup the street, and then filming will happen the following day. But surprisingly, they encourage the shops to stay open (even though they have different signs on the outside. And they want just regular people parking their cars on the road, and doing their shopping – WHILE FILMING IS HAPPENING! The community has really opened their doors, and I just have to say, it seems wonderful! Everyone has stories (all good) about the whole process, and everyone is friendly and cheerful! We picked up some candy, and some gifts for Rhonda and Hannah (since they couldn’t be here)

Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop
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Here’s a picture of Katherine and Josh in front of the “the library and clock tower” Of course there actually isn’t a clock tower on the building, apparently that part is computer generated!
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Josh and the Storybrooke Pet Shelter
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Granny’s Diner – it actually is a restaurant! Very cute and quaint and worth the stop!
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Storybrooke Country Bread
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This was a great visit and we had an awesome couple of hours visiting with locals and taking in the sights!

Next stop: Visit the Royal Canadian Mint Boutique
Whoops! GPS took us to the wrong place and the right place was going to be a bit of a nasty drive, so we went to plan B. Decided going to Starlit Citadel the game store was also a little out of the way, and really it’s an online company, so we moved to Plan C.

Plan C (er. Plan SeaBus)
Parked back at the Skytrain station and went to Waterfront, and then we jumped in the SeaBus (it’s a catamaran BIG boat, must seat hundreds) and went over to Lonsdale Quay.

Being from landlocked Alberta, riding the Seabus was quite a unique experience! We get to see the harbour from within the harbour! Those are some massive ships, especially the container ships! Those containers are stacked so high, you’d think they would fall off while sailing across the ocean. But apparently they don’t! We must have looked like crazy tourists!

As soon as we got to Lonsdale Quay we got some Chinese food and some Fish and Chips – we were starving! Got to sit outside (yes, finally outside, it was warm and sunny!) and eat! And watch the harbour and the skyline! Afterwards we did a quick tour of the shops, and then out on the pier by the BC Ferries shipyard! Everything is so big! Whoa!

But we were quickly running out of walking steam having put on a few thousand steps already (actually we hit 10,000 by then). So we took the Seabus back to Canada Place, a bunch of Skytrain trips later, and we ended up at Pacific Station!

It’s time for a train ride! Wahoo! We arrived at Pacific Central, and it is literally a train / bus station! We got there about 20 minutes early, so just enough time to sit for a few minutes, and get our customs declaration form completed.

We are going to take the Amtrak Cascades passenger train from Vancouver to Seattle! Wow! I can’t believe it! We haven’t done this before! What’s it going to be like? Well it is incredible! We are in Coach, in Car 5. 3 of 6 people in the whole car! Yup! it’s empty! So we got double seats with a table! We have arrived! Josh is asking the difference between Business Class and coach, and I gotta say, I’ll take coach anytime! The other 3 people are in the other end of the car!

We’ve got snacks, iPads, cameras, phones, Rainbow Loom all setup in our little area and we are good to go!

As we get underway, we have the most comfortable ride! I was expecting it to be loud – it’s not. Very bumpy – nope. Just comfortable. The scenery along the ocean is fantastic! The service is excellent! There’s even a cafe car where we get some sandwiches, salad, and mac & cheese.

Along the way I’m updating my blog – they have free wi-fi. We’re playing card games, eating snacks, taking pictures, watching out the window. We make a few stops along the way, picking up people and dropping some off. The doors at the end of each car are automatic. This is the BEST way to travel ever! We totally will have to do this again!

Pacific Central Station
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Josh and Katherine about to board our train!
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Our seats
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The view out the snack car
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We’re ready to eat!
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A picture of the snack car
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Amazingly we arrived in Seattle early! A quick ride to the hotel, and less than 30 minutes later – both kids are asleep!

I would say Day 4 was a success! What will a Day 5 have in store for us?

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