So its been awhile now since my last post, and I am warning this one might be a long-one because I have been on a 1 month, amazing life changing road trip. We begin at the end, because we have been super lucky in just getting an awesome place in lower Gibson’s, that has a huge yard, tons of potential for gardening, and even the consideration of a dog in the future, so I’m pretty happy right now. I also look around the Sunshine coast and realize that it is still a bit behind the times when it comes to more modern outlets, like trendy restaurants, clothing shops, and bars, which is not a bad thing. This does, however, pose a very good opportunity for myself and my boyfriend, as we would like to take advantage of this pre-modernized place, and maybe get started on a restaurant, health food/organic grocery store, or sustainable clothing/herbal medicine shop, which are all very plausible ideas here. I write this blog today feeling this huge sense of relief because I have been on the move for about 8 years, back-and-forth from Calgary to New Zealand, to Victoria and Europe, and then 5 years in-and-out of Australia/surrounding countries, so needless to say, some stability is a going to be a welcomed change.
Just to continue what we have been doing after Grand Forks, as I like to keep this online journey, we started our U.S. journey by visiting the interesting city of Portland. At first we were skeptical about the amazing things we had heard about Portland due to the abundance of downtown shanty towns, but after a couple days we realized that the best places are tucked away in the outlining neighborhoods across the river. Alberta street was a lovely little trendy area, with an amazingly tasty restaurant/bar called Bye-Byes (thanks Jenna), which I highly suggest checking it out. Bye-Byes is situated at the beginning of Alberta street, and a walk north showed off quaint vintage clothing shops, cute cafes, mini-hotel’s for rent, and tasty, unique food trucks. After talking to some locals, we ended up being directed to the Hawthorne area, which was another one of these trendy suburbs like Alberta, and we stayed at the Hawthorne YHA Hostel (environmentally friendly hostel, clean and friendly) on Hawthorne Blvd. Hawthorne was much larger then Alberta St, and embodied a more nightlife feel with places such as a cider bar with pick-your-own-cider taster trays and a slue of small American motorcycle style pubs. Hawthorne also showed-off an array of international restaurants from an Indian restaurant tucked next to a vintage movie theater, an extremely popular/lined-up tacoria (authentic Mexican taco) restaurant, as well as, traditional Cuban and Thai. We ended up having a great day of biking around Hawthorne and Mount Tabor (beautiful views, hard bike, but worth it), and seeing the environmentally friendly side of Portland, with neighborhoods adorning chicken coops, and every second house having some-kind of veggie or herb garden decorating its front yard. Needless to say, we finished our time there being pleasantly surprised with Portland. On the Sunday night before we left we were suggested by our taxi driver that, “the only thing going on tonight in Portland is at Danates.” So we got dropped off, completely oblivious to the night that was about to occur. We ended up meeting a beautiful couple from Sante Cruz/Portland, having a few too many drinks, and seeing the craziest freak/burlesque show I have ever seen. I can’t even describe the events that occurred, but it was jaw-dropping, hilarious, and confusing all at the same time, I highly, highly, highly suggest going if in Portland on a Sunday, but get there early because it fills up.
After that night of debauchery, we started to make our way to San Francisco. I had heard so may amazing things about San Fran so I was pretty stoked to get there. Well needless to say, San Fran is cool, but definitely not backpacker/car-living friendly. There was the heightened sense of awareness because the sheer amount of homeless, and the stories about cars getting broken into. We ended sleeping in our car outside the hostel at Fort Mason (great central position for touring), and putting our valuables in the hostel lockers, which was not a cheap experience. The first night, as we got in later afternoon we wandered down to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 31, which was touristy, but interesting. The vintage arcade, by one of the last pier’s, was definitely a highlight of that night. The second day we biked to the Golden Gate bridge, which was beautiful, and then later we were suggested by hostel reception that “we have to go to Mission, its really cool with lots of neat bars, shops, and taco places.” So we ventured on a sweaty bus to Mission area only to met with, what I call, the broken American dream. There were not that many amazing bars (mostly grungy and very small), shops (unless you want cheap dollar store bargain shops), or taco restaurants (except for 1 we saw), that I could tell. There was however a huge amount of sketchy people and homeless, which I have no problem with, but it was a strange suggestion as a “cool place”. Needless to say we wandered for almost 4 hours around the Mission area trying to wrap our heads around why this was suggested to us, so I think we got duped. Any-ways, we also visited the Castro district (gay district) which was very phallic-ally suggestive, but neat in it’s own way. We proceeded to return to the hostel in a cloud of confusion from the day, but thankful the car windows were still intact and nothing had been stolen. That night we decided to go out for a nice dinner in the North Bay (little Italy/china town), which was cute and beautiful, and we ended finding the famous Vesuvio cafe, where a lot of beatnik writers came out of (not my area of knowledge, so that’s as far as I’ll go). We also ended up randomly finding Nanking’s szechuan restaurant, proclaimed by the Lonely Planet as being one of the best Chinese restaurants in San Fran. Well, needless to say, even-though we were impressed with the slue of celebrities adorning the walls, everything came out deep-fried, and with practically the same tasting sauce on it. We left disappointed and confused, because this was not the first suggested place that was not as we expected. Our final day in San Fran we decided to check out the science center, that we were told contains a massive bio-dome/rain-forest, aquarium, and planetarium, and I feel like I Ieft impressed. Not only that, but the science center itself is in the center of a massive, and beautiful park just North-East of the Golden Gate bridge, and I still think it’s odd that no hostel reception person suggested that beautiful place over mission, haha, oh well. So we ended up having a great last day in San Fran, but leaving with a lot less money in our bank accounts, as we headed up the California/Oregon coast to Seattle.
What can I say about the coast except that it was an over-load of beauty!! We would drive through sleepy coastal towns, and wake-up to epic ocean views. We slept in the car on the side of the highway or stayed at campsites here and there to grab a shower, and have a nice fire. I can’t really tell more about how beautiful the coast was, it is just picturesque. I think the nicest place we stayed was just before Seattle, a campsite at Cape Lookout. I think in the summer it would be packed, but mid-to-end October there wasn’t a ton of people and it boasts a long-stretching beach and treed-in rolling hillsides, so it definitely was a highlight. The one exception was that, from what I think is the affect of ocean radiation from Japan, there was a lot of dead birds, crabs and a sea lion on the beach. So that was a bit strange….
From the coast we drove into Seattle, getting there around dinner time, and found a nice vegetarian restaurant right by the university. We couldn’t really see how beautiful the city was at night, but the sky-line was fairly impressive. We ended finding a quiet street to set-up our car in the Fremont area, and tucked in for the night. The next day we decided to give ourselves a taste of luxury and checked into the Hilton. After dropping off our bags we wandered over to the Columbia St. building to see the 73th floor observatory, which was closed, as it was 9:30am, and costs $15 per person, that’s $25 Canadian, so didn’t seem worth it, so we continued to Pike Place Market. Pike Place is awesome! We got there before the touristy and local crowds to see small, unique shops open, and the food market come alive. I’m a person that loves markets and this market is definitely one to see. I think the smell of fresh baked goods, the sound of fish-mongers yelling, and the sight of freshly cut flowers in amazing boutique arrangements speaks for itself of the atmosphere of Pike Place. So we spent a fair bit of time there before heading back to the hotel. After spending some well-awaited chill time, we made a reservation at a lovely French restaurant (Maximilian at Pike Place) over-looking the ocean, where we gorged on escargot and other butter-covered delights. I ended up, unfortunately, getting a migraine, but I tried to truck through as we went to a live Blues bar called Highway 99 right by the pier, it was great. I ended the night early, but my boyfriend apparently ventured off and ended up making friends with local wanderers on the street, which he said was interesting and fun. We woke up the next morning and called for late check-out so that my boyfriend could sleep off his “fun”, while I got up and went over to the EMP museum (Experience Music Project), where I read all about Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Hendricks, as well as, seeing the Back-to-The-Future hover board prop, along with an array of horror movie clips (it was around Halloween), and Star Wars paraphernalia. I also wandered out of one door and realized I was right beside the Space Needle, which was cool, but I snapped my photos and that was enough for me.
We ended up leaving Seattle and making our way to the ferry in Anacortes, where we stayed the night before heading back to Canada in the morning. I felt a lot of relief at this point, not that I didn’t enjoy myself in the States, but Canada just seems more relaxed and it is less expensive. Finally across the border, we continued on to Victoria and Genoa Bay, where my dad gracefully let us use the cabin for some Canadian nature time and not-in-a-car relaxation. I ended up going to into Vic to get my hair done, or ruined I should say, visiting with friends, proceeding to get drunk, and then getting my hair fixed the next morning, so that was all interesting. What-else….on Halloween we did a nice hike/nature walk behind Maple Bay, then a kayak, and dressed up and went into Duncan for a surprisingly good time at Just Jake’s brewery/restaurant/pub. We were lucky enough to snag a great seat in front the live band, and we were able to have a great view of all the interesting and creative costumes that local Duncanians wore, so all-in-all we ended up having a great Halloween.
After a lovely week stay at Genoa Bay and surrounding area we continued on our journey to, what will be our final destination as of December 1st, the Sunshine Coast. Hit a couple bumps at the beginning because we thought we found an amazing cabin-esque place, but it turned out the guy/landlord was not to be trusted and didn’t have the best reputation, so we kept looking anxiously. As the start of this blog depicted, we ended up finding an amazing place after seeing about a dozen suites and some pretty dumpy places.
Like I started, this is a long-blog entry, but it has a happy ending with 8000 kms racked up on the new car. I’m excited to start a more stable adventure with my love and my other love of herbal medicine through gardening and hopefully a part-time job in the related field. We are off to Squamish tomorrow to visit my boyfriend’s sister, then to Vancouver for my school advisor meeting, some more family/friend visiting, then to Calgary to pack-up and move-out. Hope you had your own adventure lately, and if not, then please get out there!! Life is too short!! Thanks for reading, and be aware and eat with care