South Bound – American Voyageur

Hi all,
Let’s get you up to date on our adventures the past week.

Our first morning in Seattle we went to Pike Place Public Market. Our first stop was the gum wall where we stopped to chew and add to this local art installation. Then we walked by the first-ever Starbucks where one trip member joked that they heard the local coffee was pretty good there. We ended our tour by watching the fish mongers throw large fish across the market. During free time, many trip members enjoyed Pike Place specialties, like the world famous mac ‘n cheese at Beecher’s Homemade Cheese.  The trip members also enjoyed the fresh produce and the rows of beautiful flowers.

Next, we made our way over to the EMP (Experience Music Project) where we had time to explore exhibits, jam out and perform in the simulated onstage experience. One group formed the band Where’s Daddy and performed Seattle classic, Thrift Shop by Macklemore. Trip members loved playing the drums and learning about the start of the grunge scene in Seattle. After rocking out we made our way to Whirly Ball, a combination of bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball. It was so impressive how quickly some trip members picked up the sport.

The next morning we headed out on our group flight to San Francisco! On the bus ride to the airport we played all our California favorites to get hyped for the next part of our adventure. After settling into our hotel,  we made our way to Oakland to watch the A’s play against the Toronto Blue Jays! The Canadian trip members were super excited to cheer on their home team. We all had a blast!

On our second day in San Francisco we went to Alcatraz, the island that used to be a prison. Trip members were very interested in the prison escape stories and enjoyed taking pictures in the prison cells. Then we headed off to explore Pier 39 where one trip member was super excited to go into the Lefty’s store and buy all sorts of left-handed items built just for them. Many trip members also enjoyed the local and fresh seafood. Later that afternoon we went back to the hotel to get ready for our big night out on  the town. We ended the day at Club City Nights to dance the night away! Some trip members remarked that they felt so old being in the club and one trip member said it was the best night he has ever had!

On our last day in San Francisco we enjoyed a lot of the attractions the city is famous for. We started our day on Lombard Street where we walked down the winding street and enjoyed looking at the beautiful homes and views over the bay. After that we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, which has its famous sunburst orange color so it doesn’t get lost in the city’s infamous fog. Then we had time for lunch in Sausalito. Trip members enjoyed looking into the cute boutiques and eating while enjoying the beautiful water views. Next, we made our way back across the Golden Gate Bridge (by bus this time) and went to Ghiradelli Square. Trip members enjoyed ice cream, dipped strawberries, and hot chocolate from the first Ghiradelli in the world. To end our day we took the cable car to Chinatown for dinner. Trip members enjoyed ‘hanging off’ the sides of the cable car and couldn’t believe that the cable car went up such steep inclines. Our dinner at the Oriental Pearl was delicious. One trip member got a fortune cookie saying they were about the travel to great new places and we all laughed at how accurate the fortune was.

The next morning we made our way to the Tahoe Valley Campground. We enjoyed an afternoon of beach volleyball, tennis, and basketball before preparing a delicious pasta dinner. Before bed we played charades and the dating game – we have some talented actors and comedians amongst us, that’s for sure!

Our second day in Tahoe we headed to Lake Tahoe for water skiing, tubing, wake-boarding and relaxing on the beach. While the weather was gorgeous, the lake’s water is pretty chilly, but lots of our trip members braved the cold and took a polar plunge in the crisp blue water. They commented that it was very refreshing. We ended our lovely beach day with a sunset cruise around Lake Tahoe followed by a great snack of chocolate fondue before bed.

Now we’re off to Los Angeles!  Can’t wait to see what this famous city has in store for us!

Until next time,

The Westcoast Blogger


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Seattle…It Smells like Teen Spirit – Community Service Hawaii & Alaska

Our journey to Seattle began with lots of excitement at the airport, as the final World Cup match was being broadcasted throughout the terminal. Our group of 21 brought a large crowd to cheer on Argentina. It was really neat to be in an environment where travelers from everywhere joined together in the name of soccer. Even though Argentina didn’t come out on top, the mood of our group wasn’t dampened. Samuel had everyone laughing at our gate (including other travelers) at his attempt to speak German to two little girls who were hanging around our group waiting for their flight to Germany. After about 15 minutes of relentless effort, a man sitting next to Samuel leans over and says: “That was a good effort, but the funny thing is, you were trying to speak German to two Albanian girls.”
It was so great to land in Seattle and walk outside into the warm evening air. We also had a very touching experience getting to take in our first sunset together as a “family” since our trip began- keep in mind that the sun never really set in Alaska. The sky was streaked with beautiful reds and purples which made us hopeful for perfect weather the following day. As Gillian recounted a classic saying, “Red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”.The following day was delightful indeed and jam-packed with some of Seattle’s best activities. A portion of the morning was spent exploring the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. The Market opened in 1907 as a public place for local farmers, craftspeople, and merchants to come together to sell their goods. The Market’s missions and founding goal: allowing consumers to “Meet the Producer”. For us, Pike Place was not only a place to meet the producers but a treat for our senses, and our stomachs. The market was hustling and bustling with people from all walks of life. Fish mongers were throwing around the daily catch. Fresh produce and baked goods lined the hallways. Vendors had all sorts of unique items on display for sale. Buskers were jamming in the streets. The original Starbucks had a line-up which seemed to go on forever. Lauren, Vivian, and Gillian enjoyed some fresh grapefruit, while Harrison noshed on a pint of fresh raspberries. Carly R. sipped on a cold Starbucks beverage, and Samantha enjoyed a freshly baked pastry.

The fun and games continued at WhirlyBall of Washington. Picture bumper cars, mixed with scoop ball, mixed with basketball. You have to be on high alert because you never know when your car is going to get smashed by an opponent; it could happen when you’re going for the ball, it could happen when you’re taking a shot, it could happen when you least expect it. Yellow car 21 seemed to be taking the brunt of the hits, especially when Trip Leader Karlee was behind the wheel. The taller people in our group seemed to do very well, which could be a result of having a slightly longer arm span to reach out and grab the ball with their scoops. Alli, Nikki, Abby, Lauren, and Amanda dominated on the court. Jake could manipulate his car like none other, and Harrison had a sure fire shot. Karly K. was focused and determined and was able to make long catches from Samuel and Trip Director Trevor. James was loud and in your face. Each 10 minute game was filled with action, penalties, and most importantly laughter. It really was fun for the entire AH-Dos family.

Community Service Hawaii & AlaskaNot only is Seattle home to Starbucks, Microsoft, Costco, Boeing, Expedia, and Amazon, but Grunge-Punk Music. Nirvana, a band that started in the Washington underground music scene, is one of the most famous Grunge bands of all time. At the Experience Music Project (EMP) our group got the chance to learn all about Nirvana and front runner Kurt Cobain, along with other influential music, pop culture, and science fiction of the times. The band t-shirts worn by Carly R. and Karly K. were perfect for the occasion. The 5 guys got in touch with their inner D.J’s in the interactive mixing room- watch out Avicci, AH-Dos is breaking into the electric music scene. Vivian, Gillian, and Samantha got “thrifty” in some oversized fur coats, Macklemore style. Amanda, Karly W. and Gillian formed their own band “The Grateful AH-Dos”, and belted out the lyrics to “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Gos. Experience music we did, and in the words of Macklemore “I write to the beat, and let life play the guitar strings”.
We had a chance to go back to Pike Place Market before dinner which was another neat experience in itself. The streets were quiet compared to the hustle and bustle earlier in the day, and all the vendors were packing up their stalls for the night. This worked in our favour as the group was actually able to make it inside the original Starbucks to pick up some goodies and swag. We made a visit to the famous gum wall which was packed with chewed Orbit, Trident, Extra, and Stride. Amanda, Nikki, and Karly W. were some of the brave ones who got close up to the wall to add their own gum.

We experienced another beautiful sunset atop the Space Needle which illuminated the Seattle skyline. Being 520 feet in the sky was the perfect way to take in the views of the city below. The 360 degree views of the glistening water and distant mountains made for another amazing photo-opportunity. Kennedy looked over in awe, while Isabel and Lindsey captured some “Insta-worthy” selfies. James was super excited about his new purchase at the bottom of the Needle, a mini space laser beam-pew, pew! Our night ended with a spontaneous gymnastics performance by a little girl outside of our bus who flipped and flopped like she was in the Olympics. Our group cheered her on with all our might which probably made her night.

Up next, all things Canadian; True North, Strong and Free!
The Westcoast Blogger

Greetings from Seattle, From the Northwestern Odyssey!

Here is an update from Ken and the Northwestern Odyssey. The Westcoast Blogger “And we’re rolling,” bellowed out of our bus speakers, Tina Turner inspiring our first excursion to the Mt. Hood campground. Before we departed the airport, each camper received a playing card and matched the color as well as the number with another camper. These […]