Saturday, July 30, 2011

A quick visit to San Francisco

My cousin Heather, her husband Mark, and their adorable daughter Charlotte, were gracious enough to host us for the weekend on our way down through California. They gave us the whirlwind tour of their part of San Francisco, and showed us just how amazing San Francisco is.
San Francisco is a fantastic place. Maybe my favorite place. It is hard to describe just what it is about it, but I thoroughly enjoyed our short visit and can’t wait to get back.

These fascinating flowers are called Dahlias and the pictures were taken in Golden Gate Park at the Dahlia Garden.
We ventured out into the Haight-Ashbury district and had lunch at the Magnolia Pub and Brewery. Mark and I then took a bike ride up through Presidio Park to the Golden Gate Bridge, (which let me tell you is much more or a sight to see in real life, than in pictures), down to the hidden China beach, up a killer San Francisco hill, then back down to Ocean Beach (a silly name for a beach), and then back through Golden Gate Park to end up at their amazingly-located, beautiful row house on the Park’s panhandle. We ended the day by having dinner at an interesting Mediterranean restaurant on Haight Street.
The next day we cheered Heather on as she passed by during her half marathon, and then we were off, to hit the road for Temecula in the hot California sun, pondering how we can one day afford to move to San Francisco….

Friday, July 29, 2011

Our time in Portland has come to an end (for now)

Well, that flew by….! We have been here for 2 whole months now, and it seems like 2 days. We didn’t experience nearly enough in that time. Most of our stuff has been moved to a storage unit, where it will remain for the next few months while we visit with Tess’ sister Jenny and her family way down in Temecula, CA.

I will continue working from home, and Tess will be looking for a temporary job until we move up to Seattle, where I will be taking my class and working. Once we are done in Seattle the plan is to move back to Portland.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We saw Fleet Foxes

One of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes, finished up their tour at Edgefield Amphitheatre just outside of Portland, before returning home to Seattle. The lead singer has apparently moved to Portland, a fact we picked up after the show, when he mentioned that he had only a 30 minute drive in order to return home, whereas the rest of the band had 3 hours. This resulted in his fellow bandmates branding him a traitor! It was a fantastic show at a cool outdoor venue. I’m very glad we caught this show.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seattle Weekend Reconnaissance Trip

We have been planning on making a quick trip up to Seattle to check out the various neighborhoods and get a feel for the city, so we can make more informed decisions when it comes to looking for a place to live here in a few months.
Coincidentally my good friend Tyler was up in Seattle this past weekend trying out the city for himself, so we made the 3 hours journey up to hang out and tour around. Just like Portland, Seattle has many very different neighborhoods, each with their own flavor and affordability. We checked out several neighborhoods that were recommended by some friends (Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford), and then walked around the downtown area of the city. We went to a huge record store with something like half a million records, checked out some restaurants, saw (looked at) the space needle, ended up in some crappy tourist-trap areas (most of which, I will never go back to), and had a great time wandering around.

It was great to see Tyler and hang out in a new city.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tess’ Dad visits

Tess’ dad was passing through the area, so we took him to this interesting restaurant/place where they converted an old middle school into a restaurant/theater/community center /hotel/etc, called The Kennedy School. A very interesting place. We then caught a movie.

It seems that there is nowhere in the States where you can escape a potential truck route, which is great because we enjoy his visits.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Oregon Country Fair

This festival is called The Oregon Country Fair located outside of Eugene, Oregon. It is nothing like the name makes it sound. It is not a fair in the sense of a County or State fair, but more in the general sense of a fair. And the “Country” part of the name has nothing more to do with the fact that is located in the country and doesn’t reflect the type of music.

It is, as most festivals are, a place of the bizarre, and this festival takes bizarre to new level, all while maintaining a “family-friendly” atmosphere. It has been going on for 42 years, and just as all festivals with a long history, it has been modernized with all the amenities required to maintain ~45,000 people who will attend within the 3 days.

We only made a day trip, to check it out. It was a very interesting experience. Definitely something we would like to attend again. The festival ground was really cool, with the hundreds (probably 500) vendors selling every strange item you can imagine, within a labyrinth of elaborate permanent wooden market booths, giving the feeling as if you were meandering through a medieval bazaar. A fantastic display of interesting things, strange people, crazy art, and bizarre culture, all within an intricate weird wonderland (similar to that that Alice found herself in).

Oh yeah, the entertainment... There were 20 “stages” showcasing a vast array of “talents” from every possible area of the spectrum, such as: one-man bands, puppetshows, acting troupes, choirs, clowns, comedians, marching bands, dancers, actual bands, jugglers, belly dancers, gymnasts, etc, etc. And let’s not forget the random aspiring freelancing toss-a-dollar-in-my-cap musicians, the shamans, the hippies, the clowns on stilts (freaked me out a bit), the drum circles, the hulla-hoopers, the street performers, the quacks, the healers, the tarot readers, the endless variety of costumes, the trippers, the tweakers, the candlestick makers! All of this, calmly coexisting for 3 days, in place that is out of this world.

We saw many interesting things and several bands that were really good. It was fun.

We saw Will

Will was up in Tacoma, Washington for some Air Force Training, so we journeyed up to Olympia, Washington, where we met him at a place called Fish Tale Brew Pub, where we had some food. We then found another (quieter) restaurant to continue the evening of catching up.

It was great to see him, catch up on life, talk about the potential future plans, and joke around like always.
So the moral of the story is, if you are out in this part of the country, drop me a line, because it is always a nice surprise to see an old friend!
Sorry the photo quality is crappy. The flash on my camera is broken and needs to be fixed.

Our Cross-Continent biker friend, Julie

We also got to see our new friend Julie, who we hosted via CouchSurfing just before we left Virginia. Julie completed a trip across the US of A on her bike ! Starting in Brooklyn, she traveled south to Blacksburg, where she caught the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. I did not know this trail existed until she rolled up our driveway that day. The trail less than a mile from our house, and runs through Blacksburg!
The trail happens to run from Blacksburg to Portland! However, she took the trail less taken, and pedaled to San Franciso to visit a friend, and then got a rental car to tour up the West Coast to see, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, etc. So it was very cool to see her and discuss the trip on either end of her journey, which just so happened to correlate to either end of this vast continent and basically the terminal ends TransAmerica Bicycle Trail and either end of our journey! Here is a map of the trail. The gray line is a simplified version of her path where she veered from the trail.
Also of interest, she ran a Blog of her own, Spoke N Words, documenting her journey, complete with descriptions of the small sleepy towns of which the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail runs through, beautiful pictures, and videos shot from her bicycle! Needless to say, her Blog is a much more interesting documentary of a trip across America than ours. Haha. It was interesting to read her blog in comparison to ours as we were taking a very similar path, but making a very different journey. And see different perspectives, and experiences as we traveled through many of the same areas.

Unexpected Friends and Unexpected Naked Parades

It’s always nice to find out that people you know and love are in your neighborhood. This is especially true when you have moved a continent away from most of the people you know and love.
We have had several such surprises.
First, we were surprised to hear that our good friend, Molly and her boyfriend Nick, were here visiting her sister who interns at Nike. Molly is a friend of both of ours from VT; from my major and from Tess’ Class.
We had a nice evening talking about our careers; she has a job working with Low Impact Development. You dedicated blog readers will recall that I am taking classes in that soon ; ) . We happened to catch, by chance, the International Naked Bike Ride of Portland as it passed down the street where we were. It gathered a record number of participants this year, with approximately 10,000 bikers to “Bare as much as you Dare”. Sorry this image is so blurry, but you probably don't want to see it anyway. It was all a blur. "Keep Portland Weird", indeed.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The City of Roses

Although Portland has many nicknames, its official nickname is "The City of Roses."

We finally made it to the Rose Garden with our new friend Annie. After just missing prime Rhododendron viewing, I am happy to say that we made it to prime rose viewing! And WOW!
I think it is one of my favorite places. The Rose Garden has hundreds of rose plots. All of which are different! Who would ever think there are sooo many varieties of roses. SO MANY varieties! One unbelievably VIVID color after another.
And such fantastic smells (not all rose smells are created equal!). Some were “rosey,” some perfume-y, some sweet, some spicy, some not fragrant at all, some with very familiar smells that you juuust couldn’t put your olfactory glands on, and every combination in between. We pinpointed several smells: Fruit Loops, “dinner”, some kind of candy, an office store (it seriously smelled like a Staples store). The absolute best smelling one, and one of the most pleasant smells I have maybe ever smelled, was named New Zealand.
A very beautiful garden that I wish everyone could experience in its prime. I can't imagine a better place to indulge in beautiful colors and pleasant fragrances.
I have included a collage of close-ups that I have taken.
I have already decided that several of my favorite varieties will be included in my future garden.
Click on the Photos for a way better version!

Last Thursday's!

On the last Thursday of every month, in the up-and-coming Alberta district, there is a craft fair unlike any craft fair…
It is completely free for vendors and there are very few rules; you just show up, set up, and peddle your wares. It all just kind of started as a few people selling some items, and has grown into this fantastic event.
The unofficial nature and complete openness spawns a crowd which more resembles a circus than that of a craft fair. Since it is free to sell your goods, it draws the full gamut of artists and craftsmen from the creative “starving artist”, to the well-established vendors, to kids selling some “refrigerator-art”. The weird crowd pulls in unique entertainment: bands (of all varieties) on every corner, a trapeze artist, fire juggling acts, dancers, clowns… you name it.
So, if you need a $200 wooden bowl for the mantel, that perfect piece of erotic art for the baby’s room, or just want to dine on some unregulated street food and people-watch….this is the place to do it!
An acquaintance told us that they attempted to shut down a kids lemonade stand a few weeks ago, and the people all but rioted on principle, and at the following event, lemonade stands were uber popular! So….Keep Portland Weird [and don’t mess with the Laissez-(street)-faire mentality]!

Rhododendron Garden

The Rhododendron Garden is a free park within the city, about a 12 minute bike ride from our current house. A beautiful park filled with many many varieties of Rhododendron. Unfortunately, we were “a day late”, as we were juuuust about a week past when Rhododendron are in their prime. That is too bad, because given how beautiful this park is, when it isn’t painted with a hundreds of colors, it is probably breathtaking in its prime.