Monthly Archives: August 2014

Seattle – end of the line

In the not too distant past, my mum met an American girl travelling in London. Fast forward a few years (and a few kids), and for our final few days we’ve stayed with the Gangwish family in Seattle, keeping the link going! After getting back into America after the ferry from Victoria, Byron met us outside the terminal building and we headed out to Renton. We’ve stayed at Byron and his wife Jen’s place, and considering we hadn’t seen each other since we were about 11, we got on pretty well! Not much has changed in that time, South Park is still funny, but nowadays we can drink beer as well.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

The Frasier skyline

The Frasier skyline

After catching up with Sharon and reminiscing about her and my mom’s adventures in the 70’s, we spent our first full day in Seattle being proper tourists. We took the monorail, posed in front of the Space Needle (but were too cheap to go up it), and went to the EMP Museum. This is an amazing place, originally a Pacific Northwest music museum, it now has some excellent other exhibitions too. As well as the Nirvana and Hendrix features, including clothes, music, fan letters and more, there was a Sci-fi area, Fantasy exhibits and a horror movie hall. Being funded by Microsoft’s other guy, Paul Allen, it was full of cool interactive technology with crazy geeky memorabilia. Awesome.

Lego or real?

Lego or real?

Real or Lego?

Real or Lego?

Da da da daaaa da

Da da da daaaa da

My name is Inigo Montoya...

My name is Inigo Montoya…

In the afternoon we checked out the world famous Pike Place Market, complete with fish-throwing, the original Starbucks (stupidly big queue), the gum wall and the waterfront. Completing the all-American day of fun, we met up with the Gangwish crew outside of Safeco Field and went to watch the baseball! The Seattle Mariners vs. the Chicago Whitesox, and it was brilliant. Baseball is a sport you can zone in and out of, and there was a really nice chilled atmosphere, with lots of families and it was a very pleasant way to enjoy a couple of beers and take in the views from the stadium, designed to allow a clear view of the Seattle skyline. The Mariners won 4-1, and I’m pretty sure I understand most of the rules now.

The postcard shot

The postcard shot

Must be joke here somewhere...

Must be joke here somewhere…

Take me out to the ball game!

Take me out to the ball game!

Best seats and view in the house

Best seats and view in the house

Swing, batter batter batter

Swing, batter batter batter

The second day we did more of the same, exploring Seattle on foot and doing some shopping for a couple of presents and souvenirs, much against my wishes. I feel like everyone should just be happy to see us, but Mrs H insisted. We also visited the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, the tallest building and indeed tallest views in the PNW. Panoramic views over the city, sound, lakes and mountain, and cheaper than the Space Needle!

Attempted arty shot

Attempted arty shot

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square

Nosebleed territory

Nosebleed territory

A $12 view

A $12 view

The homes of sport

The homes of sport

Sum bleddy tall

Sum bleddy tall

That night, Sharon cooked us some amazing Alaskan salmon, before we got the Byron and Jen’ college experience by playing a few rounds of beer pong. My accuracy was not good towards the end, but Laura was a bit of a shark and managed to avoid too much beer.

Learning from a pro

Learning from a pro

MR and Mrs G

MR and Mrs G

Falling behind on the drinks

Falling behind on the drinks

Illegal leaning

Illegal leaning

For the last full day of our entire trip, Byron and Jen took us on a bit of tour of more Seattle highlights. Jimi Hendrix’s grave, complete with multiple half smoked joints left in tribute, the crazy looking Fremont Troll and a couple of beers in the Gasworks Park, overlooking Lake Union. Our final night, and we eased ourselves back into English culture with a trip to see the Seattle Sounders play ’soccer’! The atmosphere was incredible! We thought that the Americans weren’t too fussed about proper football but I haven’t never experienced an atmosphere like this in England.

The Hendrix shrine

The Hendrix shrine

The Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll

Lake Union

Lake Union

After a few beers, we joined up with a big crowd in Pioneer Square, and then with chants and a brass band, marched down to the stadium. Our seats were amazing, right in the hardcore superfan section behind the goal. Guys stood at the front directing the chants, flags and scarves were everywhere the sound was phenomenal. We didn’t sit down for 90 minutes, it was so intense! The ground is also used by the Seahawks and is the loudest in the NFL, and the 50,000 soccer fans made the earth shake. We got all the action at our end too, with the Sounders saving a penalty, scoring two goals in the second half and having a guy sent off. And, this being America, the whole thing was a gigantic spectacle, with fireworks, flags and flames shooting up to celebrate the goals. As Mitchell eloquently put it, “this is insane dude!”.

From the Cascades, to the Sea!

From the Cascades, to the Sea!

The Emerald Army

The Emerald Army

Byron confused by soccer

Byron confused by soccer

Superfan!

Superfan!

And now, we are sat in SeaTac aiport, spending the last few dollars and waiting to board the plane home (via a quick stop in Iceland). Rest assured dear reader, there will be more blogs on this year for all kinds of top tens, costs and future plans. For now though, we’ve had an excellent final few days of our trip in Seattle, and will definitely be back.

Half time calm

Half time calm

2-0

2-0

America! F&@k Yeah!

America! F&@k Yeah!

More goals should shoot fire

More goals should shoot fire

SOUNDERS TILL I DIE! SOUNDERS, SOUNDERS, BORN IN ’74!

The last supper

The last supper

Goodnight Seattle, we love you

Goodnight Seattle, we love you

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Categories: Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, Canada!

Our second to last stop on our whole trip! But what an excellent stop. After a non stop 24 days of road tripping in America, staying in Vancouver has been so relaxing and just like being at home.

We took the super cheap Boltbus from Seattle to Vancouver, which ran an hour late, but was made up for by the free bus wifi and the driver giving us free Jolly Ranchers.

Welcome to Canada

Welcome to Canada

After a year of negotiating our own way around public transport and foreign countries it was amazing to be met off the bus by someone – and a very lovely someone! Last time we saw Rachel she was busy being a bridesmaid at our wedding, so it was amazing and very emotional to see her face at the bus stop.

Happy faces!

Happy faces!

Rachel, Shane and their cat, General Crix Madine (apparently it’s a Star Wars reference), have a really nice flat in Mount Pleasant which we took over with all our stuff for five nights and they very kindly didn’t seem to mind at all.

General Crix Madine

General Crix Madine

We had a lovely few days, catching up, chilling out, seeing Vancouver and eating. Eating a lot.

On day one we hired bikes with Jenny and Andy B and rode around the city and seawall. The weather was perfect (I don’t believe it rains here 8 months of the year) and the city is so lovely – really green and bike friendly. I can really see why you might want to live here. Sam also thinks he saw Bradley Whitford running (Josh from the West Wing), which would make it a very cool place to be. The sighting remains unconfirmed though.

Beach stop in Vancouver

Beach stop in Vancouver

One may only drink from mason jars in Canada

One may only drink from mason jars in Canada

The biker gang

The biker gang

Our long weekend involved eating a lot of delicious food. There are sooooo many places to eat in Vancouver! Food we have eaten included bacon and maple syrup doughnuts, maple syrup waffles, ginormous sushi, Shanes’s vegan avocado pasta (very impressive and delicious), a picnic in the park, pizza in the park, breakfast at Tim Horton’s and of course, the famous Canadian poutine – chips, gravy, cheese and pulled pork. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Who are you calling a vegan?

Who are you calling a vegan?

Bacon: how to make a doughnut even more awesome

Bacon: how to make a doughnut even more awesome

So much sushi

So much sushi

Pizza in the park.

Pizza in the park.

Poutine: a Canadian institution

Poutine: a Canadian institution

We did work some of the food off by taking the ferry to North Vancouver and walking in the woods in Lynn Valley, which was very lovely. Sam even found something to jump off and into to cool down. It’s nice that you can access the great outdoors so easily from the city.

Boat trip!

Boat trip!

Swing bridge selfie

Swing bridge selfie

Sam always finds something to jump off

Sam always finds something to jump off

Swim time

Swim time

Remembering to do our duty in the woods

Remembering to do our duty in the woods

Our weekend was so lovely and relaxed and it was nice to take a break from intensive travelling and sightseeing. And getting to have a go on Shane’s PS4 made Sam pretty happy!

Bye bye Vancouver

Bye bye Vancouver

After saying goodbye to the Canadians we took the ferry over to Vancovuer Island and stayed in the NICEST apartment (with hot tub!) belonging to Shame’s mum in downtown Victoria.

Ferry time

Ferry time

Victoria is the main city on Vancouver Island, and the capital of BC, and is full of gorgeous old buildings right on the harbour. We had a lovely time wandering around the town and the waterfront, shopping and eating more food.

Victoria waterfront

Victoria waterfront

Floating houses in Victoria

Floating houses in Victoria

On our last evening we took an evening kayak tour of the harbour which was brilliant (and half price on a Wednesday – my favourite!) We spent two hours with a guide paddling around the harbour, watching the seals, grey herons and the beautiful sunset.

Kayak selfie

Kayak selfie

Sunset in the Victoria harbour

Sunset in the Victoria harbour

Victoria city hall lit up at night

Victoria city hall lit up at night

We’ve only been here for a week, but we have loved our time in Canada. The people really are that friendly and Vancouver is a really great city. Luckily we know we’ll be back to Vancouver again one day, hopefully soonish, to see Rachel and Shane, and we have plenty more of Canada to explore.

Categories: Canada | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

PDX and the PNW

The Oregon Coast is beautiful, and it’s shame we didn’t get to spend more time exploring it. Like a lot of places so far in America, we need to come back one day. Without even looking around Yachats, we were on the road the morning after Crater Lake. The stretch of coast we did drive up was awesome, with the obligatory stunning lighthouse / cliffs / sea / yet another whale sighting vista stops.

Awesome Oregon

Awesome Oregon

Turning inland, we got to McMinnville, and stopped there to meet some friends we’d met in Fiji. Eric and Erin have just returned home to the US after almost 3 years living away in Korea and then NZ (see, it could have been worse mum). We had a great lunch with those guys, and then a tasty and super strong craft beer, before pushing on to Portland. So many people had told us how cool, fun and generally weird it is and in our 3 days there it didn’t disappoint.

Erin, Laura and Ben Franklin

Erin, Laura and Ben Franklin

We stayed in an AirBnB about ten minutes out of downtown, with an amazing woman called Judy. She was a brilliant hostess, cooking us breakfast each morning and giving us lots of good info and tips about the city. It was like staying with family or a friend, and the room and bed were super comfy too! We arrived in the early evening, and caught the bus into town. We knew Oregon was famous for crafty beers, but we didn’t know it was the 27th Annual Oregon Brewfest that weekend, right on the waterfront. So, new (and totally impractical for long term travel) beer glasses and beer tokens in hand, we sampled a few beers each and soaked up the atmosphere. Things could have turned ugly when Law asked for cider and I thought we’d be run out of town, but we managed to find a berry fruity ale instead!

Brewfest selfie

Brewfest selfie

Berry nice ale

Berry nice ale

The following day we explored the city, which was experiencing a bit of a heat wave while we were there. The views from the Rose Garden in the west hills were amazing, over the city out to Mt. Hood on the horizon. Downtown, we got ridiculously lucky and found a free parking space, and proceeded to spend the day ticking off all the touristy highlights.

Mt Hood overlooking the city

Mt Hood overlooking the city

Posing in the roses

Posing in the roses

The enormous Powell’s Books, which fills an entire city block almost, was amazing. We spent a couple of hours browsing and reading in there, and managed to limit ourselves to minimal purchases. A very cool place. From there we headed into the Saturday Market, full of craft things and people performing and generally keeping Portland weird. In the afternoon we had coffee at a cool little independent place, lunch from food carts and queued for about 40 minutes in the baking sun for the world famous Voodoo doughnuts. Totally worth it.

Prepping for the return to work

Prepping for the return to work

As the sign says...

As the sign says…

The voodoo queue

The voodoo queue

Totally worth it!

Totally worth it!

The next day, we got out of the city and had some fun in the nearby Columbia River Gorge. The river divides Oregon and Washington, and houses (of course) some amazing scenery. Having not gotten around to doing this in NZ, we decided it was now or never for white water rafting and we spent a few hours getting wet, cold and working out on the river. We went with Wet Planet Rafting, based on the White Salmon river just across the border in Washington. The half day trip was brilliant, lasting about 4 hours and really good fun.

Crossing the border

Crossing the border

Ready to get wet

Ready to get wet

The guides were great, bantering with us and each other, and making sure everyone was safe. The rapids weren’t too extreme, from class 2 to 4, and some of them felt pretty epic. At one point we had to get out and walk alongside a waterfall that was too high to go over, with the option to jump off a 20 foot ledge on the other side. Obviously I was straight over, and I was very proud of Mrs H for following suit and not wussing out like a few people did! The river was pretty cold and flowing quite fast, but the helmets, wetsuits and life jackets kept us alive!

Husum Falls, bigger than it looks

Husum Falls, bigger than it looks

At the end of the day, we went over the 10 foot high Husum Falls. This was optional, and the guides warned people it could all go upside down, but we braved it anyway. Just as the boat got vertical we hit the water with a shock, but everyone managed to stay aboard our raft. An awesome end to the trip. After this, we drove back the scenic highway along the river, passing by waterfalls and vista points constantly great scenery. At the end of the day, we were knackered and Judy, being the amazing hostess she is, cooked us dinner!

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

The Columbia a River vista!

The Columbia a River vista!

Nowhere near enough time there, but brilliant few days in Portland.

Cannon Beach, some angry clouds

Cannon Beach, some angry clouds

Moving on the next day, we hit the coast again at Cannon Beach for a picnic, then Ecola State Park. Amazing coastal scenery here and best of all was Indian Beach, the place that was used instead of Belles Beach at the end of Point Break! More than worth the $5 park fee. That night we stayed in Astoria, home of one of the greatest films ever made. It was still pretty hot out, but I made Law walk a couple of miles in the evening to find 648 38th Avenue. Why? Because this is the house they used in the Goonies! And for Film Studies bonus points, we passed by the Astoria Elementary School which is where Arnie worked in Kindergarten Cop! Geek overload.

Lose something bra?

Lose something bra?

A sharp whistle gets the kids in order

A sharp whistle gets the kids in order

Goonies never say die... And apparently also like Israel

Goonies never say die… And apparently also like Israel

Awesome

Awesome

The next couple of days, the last ones of our road trip with the car, were spent on the Olympic Peninsula. We quickly ran out of superlatives on this blog for scenery, but again this was just amazing. From Astoria we crossed the 4 mile long bridge into Washington, and cruised through the forests and logging towns until we got to Lake Quinault. After a bite to eat we had to take a dip in the stunningly clear blue water, flanked by the pines and spruces and with Mountains on the horizon.

Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault

Post lunch dip

Post lunch dip

That wasn’t it for the day though, and making the most of the glorious weather inland we stopped at the Hoh Rain Forest and went for a walk. The trails here pretty flat so while we discussed my impending joblessness and Law’s impending new job same placeness, we enjoyed the huge trees, hanging moss and glacial river. Nice.

Thinking about office work

Thinking about office work

Gnarly mossy trees!

Gnarly mossy trees!

Pushing on, we didn’t stop in Forks, the home of Twilight and a pretty grim looking town altogether, and got to our accommodation in another cabin in the woods. This one was the winner, thanks to the unexpected and deliciously homemade breakfast that awaited us in the fridge! That night, braving the grey mizzle and wind, we drove down the road a bit towards Rialto Beach. The weather just added to the wildness of the place, with huge cliff stacks and whole trees of driftwood. Huddling together and drinking our wine from a plastic cup, we spotted a pod of dolphins and watched them play about in the surf for the next half an hour. Another of those holy-crap-unforgettable-type moments.

Rialto Beach 'sunset'

Rialto Beach ‘sunset’

Proper Cornish picnic weather

Proper Cornish picnic weather

Dolphins!

Dolphins!

Another long blog so far but we are nearly at the end of our trip so are fitting a lot in! This is the last bit, I promise. The following morning, the skies on the coast had cleared and we went back down to Rialto. It looked totally different in this weather, and with the tide low we walked to the end and climbed through the hole in the rock. It has a real end of the world primal feel with the cliffs and trees and I took a lot of photos. A lot. Also, seeing as we hadn’t done this yet in the states, despite passing by Venice and Malibu, I made us get in the sea. It was very, very cold!

Rialto with views

Rialto with views

Anti vampire weather

Anti vampire weather

Textbook wide arm pose

Textbook wide arm pose

Cold!

Cold!

I took a lot of photos

I took a lot of photos

Bald Eagle, looking rather majestic

Bald Eagle, looking rather majestic

Driftwood trees

Driftwood trees

For the twi-hards

For the twi-hards

After removing my finger from the camera long enough to drive, we turned east into the park. Lunch and another, warmer dip in Crescent Lake, and then up into the mountains to Hurricane Ridge. After doing the short trails around the visitors centre, and despite the relatively late time of the day, I convinced Law that a hike up Hurricane Hill would be a good idea. A sweaty mile and a half uphill later, and the panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain Range, endless forests, the Straits of San Juan de Fuca over to Vancouver Island and Canada (our next stop) and all the way out to the Pacific proved me right. The mountain goats wandering around helped make my case too.

Warming up after the sea

Warming up after the sea

Olympic views

Olympic views

Forgoing shopping to hike

Forgoing shopping to hike

Mind-blowing meadowy mountains

Mind-blowing meadowy mountains

Horny

Horny

Looking at Canada

Looking at Canada

Yet another vista

Yet another vista

Reservoir Goats

Reservoir Goats

Bambi lost

Bambi lost

This meant we got in late to Port Townsend which we’d like to have had a more time in, but the huge fish burgers and wine gave us a nice taste of the town and were a great final meal of our US roadtrip. The following morning, we drove down to Bainbridge early, caught the ferry to Seattle and said goodbye to the mighty Nissan Versa after 3180 amazing miles.

Back to backpacking

Back to backpacking

Categories: USA | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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