Monday, July 16, 2007

West Coast Road Trip, Part I — Seattle to San Francisco

Friday 6/15/2007

We flew to Seattle on a late flight. *yawn* We check into the hotel across the street from SeaTac and pass out.

Saturday 6/16/2007

We woke up early and picked up a rental car for the trip down the coast. First we drove up to Alki Beach for a drive around the waterfront and spent some time looking around the neighborhoods of West Seattle. We stopped in for a quick breakfast at Eats Market Cafe in West Seattle. The huevos rancheros were good, but Steph's hot whole grain cereal was amazingly tasty with dried fruit, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and honey drizzled on top. Seriously, this was enough to feed a family of four! We'll definitely be back for breakfast sometime.

After breakfast we headed over to Ballard, a neighborhood in NW Seattle, to meet my cousin Cheryl, her fiance Andy and their dogs, Kozmo and Rosco, before heading to Fremont for the Fremont Fair parade. Whoa! There's naked people on bikes! Even though I had heard about it, seeing it live was definitely an interesting experience. Of course, all we could think is that there would be riots in Atlanta with the same display of body painted flesh riding down the street! Not to mention the uncomfortable chafing. And it was somewhat chilly... I'd have nipples that could cut glass if I were out there in the buff! Naked people were only the beginning, the parade itself was somewhat organized chaos with all sorts of political and social messages, jugglers, musicians, etc. We tried to hook up with Nick and Tiff, but unfortunately the crowds conspired against us during the parade. (We did run into each other briefly later in the day.) Of course the parade was not the only part of the Fremont Festival, there were plenty of food stalls, beer gardens and lots of shopping of arts, crafts and, well, crap! . Later that night we had dinner with family and crashed pretty early. Sunday is going to be a busy day.

Sunday 6/17/2007

We start the day with brunch at Pete's Egg Nest. Man, these are the biggest plates of food ever. I swear the omelettes were at least 6 eggs each and the plate had pound of hash browns. Whoa! The food was very good, we'll have to come back here sometime. We headed down to the Pike Place Market for a little shopping adventure before going to the Space Needle so we could get our fill our touristy goodness. Mmmm touristy. The Space Needle would have been better on a clearer, warmer day, but it wasn't meant to be. Steph found it a helpful way to orient herself with the various neighborhoods we had been in over the past two days. We then headed over to the REI flagship store for some further shopping goodness. All thsi shoping and being tourist like made us feel pretty thirsty, so we headed to my absolute favorite German bar in Settle, Feierabend in South Lake Union. (OK, so its the only German bar I know in Seattle, but I like this place, its close to Nick's and REI and they serve the best soft pretzels ever. Wetzel's Pretzels, eat your salty heart out.) After a beer and a pretzel, Nick, Tiff and Yen-Ming joined us and we headed out to dinner at Jade Garden in the international district. We had gone here before when I was on a trip to Seattle for work and knew to let Yen-Ming order for us. Once again, more food than we could have possibly eaten, but everything was tasty, especially the Peking duck and the razor clams.

Monday 6/18/2007

Another early day for us, we pack up our stuff, say goodbye to Cheryl and Andy and hit the road for the drive to Portland. Its an easy drive, just over 3 hours, we arrived in Portland by 10:30 A.M. We stopped in to our hotel, The Kennedy School, briefly to get oriented and figure out the best way downtown. Turns out that we can drive to the light rail sation and take the train downtown for free. Free is my favorite flavor.

Like a fool, I leave my jacket in the car. The weather was supposed to be in the mid seventies, so I figured I'd be fine in a short sleeve shirt. No such luck, I was uncomfortably cold until at least 3 PM! As a warm-up stop, we dropped in on Henry's 12th Street Tavern for a bite to eat and a beer. The tomato soup was a great way to warm up while we planned our next few stops. After lunch, we wandered around the neighboring Pearl District. Going up and down the various streets, walking into shops and commenting on how cute everything is — and not buying anything! — is very tiring work. Quite nicely, there was a Rogue Ales Public House right nearby!

Rouge brews beer, distills gin and 3 different rums and has a creamery, to boot! The location we were in had a microdistillery and we were in time for the 2 P.M. tour. After tasting a few beers, including the Orange Honey Wheat and Chipotle Ale, we headed upstairs to join the "tour". While not much of a tour — it consisted of standing around two rooms on two different floors! — it was pretty interesting to see how they make the rums from the mash, through distillation and maturation in barrels. I've only been on one other distillery tour at Jack Daniel's in Tennessee, but that was on a greatly different scale! After the tour we got a chance to taste two of the rums and then gin. I should have bought a bottle of the gin when I had the chance, it's not available in Georgia.

We hit the streets again and spent a little more talking walking around the Pearl District before heading to Chinatown to see the Chinese Gardens. On the way Steph caught the Hung Far Low Building sign... hilarity ensued with lots of pictures being taken whilst I did my best charades about being overly well endowed.

After our entertainment we found the Portland Chinese Gardens which we wandered for at least an hour. The gardens are a replica of Chinese style gardens with imported plants and rocks. This is not a place that I can describe well, one really needs to experience sitting in the gardens on a sunny day, amidst blue skies to really appreciate the surroundings. This is definitely my favorite memory of Portland.

From calm & peaceful gardens to hot fat, good topings and a bit of Voodoo, we headed down the street to Voodoo Doughnuts. Whoa, this place is crazy. We had two donuts, a "Portland" Cream and a chocolate frosted covered in Cocoa Puffs and drizzled with peanut butter. Yummmmmmy. We were happily on a sugar high as we headed back to the hotel to relax for a while. The rest of the evening was low key and uneventful, we're exhausted and pass out early after planning tomorrow's route. Long day ahead...

Tuesday 6/19/2007

After breakfast at the Kenneday School, we check out and drive right into... Portland's rush hour. Oops. Today we head southwest from Portland toward the coast at Lincoln City and south down 101 to our B&B in Klamath, CA. It's a long day, 7+ hours of driving on mostly 2 lane roads, but it was worth the effort! As we headed through the Willamette Valley toward the coast, we stopped at a roadside stand for some fresh fruit and snacks for the road.

Best strawberries ever. I am ruined on supermarket strawberries forever. The fruit here is very good! I think we ate an entire pint by the time we reached the coast at Lincoln City, OR. We got out here to stretch our legs and check out the beach. Not a particularly nice beach, but not bad either, we walked around for a few minutes and took some pictures. I ventured down to the water and put my toes in. Damn, that's cold! Its not like the warm-as-piss Gulf of Mexico, that's for sure!

Back in the car, we drove down to Newport where we found the Rogue Brewery. We stopped in for lunch. A very good lunch, I might add! Its hard to screw up a burger and a fish sandwich, but it's easy to make a mediocre burger too. I guess their use of Kobe beef didn't hurt! I sampled the Rogue 10,000 brew and, like most of the folks on Beer Advocate! I was not impressed. Glad I didn't spend $20 on a bottle! (Plus, I have to save my beer money for the 2007 Sam Adams Utopias which will run ~$150 retail for a 750 mL bottle!). On the road again stuffed with food and beer we drive down to Sea Lion Caves which is just north of Florence, OR!. What an absolutely cheesy tourist trap. Glad we stopped in and saw the sea lions, but it really wasn't worth almost $20. Next!

We head further south down the coast and reach the Oregon dunes. Its crazy driving down the road and seeing a huge sand dune encroaching on a grocery store on the side of the road. Eventually we reached the trailhead for the Oregon Dunes Overlook Trail which leads to many miles of hiking trails. This is a great spot to get out, stretch your legs and go for a walk. We thought we might hike a few miles, but once we're on the dunes and realize the difficulty in walking in soft, shifting sands it became clear we weren't going to go too terribly far. From the boardwalk we wandered on to the dunes, the trail is marked by a series of wooden posts (blazes) that are placed in the sand every few hundred yards. We headed down the first dune following the trail that leads to the ocean. The trail itself is ~1 mile, but after the first quarter mile or so the Keens came off and we started walking barefoot. The sand felt great at first, but soon it became irritating to walk barefoot, so we sat down and enjoyed the warm, sunny day. Looking around we realize how disorienting it can be when you are surrounded by a sea of sand with some vegetation in the distance. Its getting later in the day, so we decide to head back to the car and drive the last 200 miles or so to our B&B in Klamath, CA.

The next few hours of drive time are some of the most beautiful parts of the Oregon coast and free of most of the travel trailers and motorhomes we ran into further north. The coast of Oregon is absolutely gorgeous, we stopped every so often just to get out of the car and take in the sights. For two people who have spent most of their lives on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs along the coast are a novel sight. Eventually we cross into California and drive into one of the northernmost stands of redwood trees in the world. This is only a small sampling of what we're going to see tomorrow — and not nearly as impressive — but it tells us one very important thing: Our 8 hour drive is nearly complete.

We pull into our B&B, the Requa Inn in Klamath, CA, around 8:45 PM. After eating our sandwiches from Subway — I believe this is considered fine dining in Klamath! — we settle in with a bottle of wine and start downloading pictures to the laptop while we plan tomorrow's drive.

Wednesday 6/20/2007

Today is Steph's birthday and we're going to make it one to remember!

Originally, we had planned on hiking along the mouth of the Klamath River along the Pacific coast. Due to the low fog, this plan is quickly thrown out the window since we wouldn't be able to see anything.

Instead, we hop on the road, top off the gas tank and head to the Tour Thru Tree in Klamath, CA. This redwood has been carved out in order to allow cars to drive through the tree. Another cheesy tourist attraction, yes, but how can we resist? After squeezing our Chevy Impala through the tree and taking our requisite pictures we hit the road again. The plan is to follow 101 south to San Francisco with a few stops along the way. Our first detour is in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. This is our first chance to get an up close and personal view of some of the giant redwood trees. I can't describe the experience and our pictures don't do it justice either. This is a place one has to experience to understand how magnificent these trees are. Sadly, less than 10% of the original old growth giant redwoods remain, most have been lost to logging. At the end of the scenic parkway we get back on 101 South for a few miles before turning off into the Redwood National Park to hike the Trillium Falls Trail. The trail starts just off the road in an old logging camp. In the last 10 years the camp has been torn down and the land restored to a more natural state. After a short walk down a paved path running alongside the recently restored areas the trail heads uphill and into the forest. Suddenly I feel small. Very small. Everything around us appears to be supersized! We hike into the forest about 1 mile to the Trillium Falls where we stop to take a few pictures and marvel at the beauty of the forest and everthing that surounds us.

Enough nature, we have a few hundred miles to cover still if we're to make it to San Francisco in time for dinner! We hop back in the car and continue driving southward on 101. We did make a short detour on to the Avenue of the Giants through another large stand of redwoods. I didn't find this to be as nice or exciting as the aras we had traversed earlier. So we cut the drive down the Avenue of the Giants short and hopped back on 101. The remainder of the drive to SF was uneventful and included a brief stop in Santa Rosa, CA to hit the Russian River Brewing Company where I picked up a pair of growlers filled with Pliny the Elder and an ESB. These will be enjoyed on Saturday night after the hike. Or so I think...

After more than 7 hours on the road we finally arrive in San Francisco. We meet our friends Jen & Howard at their condo before heading out for a birthday dinner at The Slanted Door on the Embarcadero. After a great meal we head back to Jen & Howard's for a well deserved rest. Its been another long day on the road...

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