The Great Escape is no more. We just got back to SF. I’ll be finishing the last 4 blog days over the next couple days. Sorry for the wait. We are busy readjusting.
- Day 117
- 17,335 miles
- Seattle, WA
- Dec 15, 2011
I don’t even know that “metronatural” is really supposed to mean, or how it pertains to Seattle, but that’s what came up when I googled the city’s slogan. If I had to give it my own slogan it would be: Seattle: where road trips burn out. This is where we crashed and burned and officially expended every last drop of road trip energy and enthusiasm that we had left in us. How appropriate, though, since this was the last official road trip stop. The downside of this burn out is we kind of jipped this city. It deserved a little more exploration. More appreciation. More credit. That’s not to say that we don’t think highly of Seattle, because we certainly do. And we definitely plan on going back, when we ‘re a little bit recharged.
It was around dinner time when we first arrived in the city, and we were excited seeing the skyline and the space needle. Since we needed to eat anyway, I called the space needle restaurant on a whim to see if we could get a reservation. Falkor luck never fails. We got a table. This restaurant was amazing- Everything from the food, to the wine, the atmosphere, and of course the rotating view. For those of you who don’t know, the top of the space needle, where the restaurant is located, is completely lined with windows and it constantly rotates. So during the course of your meal, you’re sure to see a spectacular view of the city. All 360 degrees of it. It’s fun too because some people (and that I mean little kids) leave notes on the window sill, so when you rotate by you see pieces of paper with “what’s your name?” or “what did you ask Santa to bring you for Christmas?” written in crayon. And since I am a 27 year old child, I had fun answering those notes. We treated ourselves to a beyond delicious appetizer of clams (Richie’s favorite) and some fancy chicken and pork entrees. I love eating. After our meal we took in some more of the views from the outdoor observation deck and then headed back to the van, which was street parked, planned the rest of our Seattle excursions and then called it a night.
Let me tell you… They’re not kidding about Seattle weather. The next day it was cold, cloudy, and misty. The kind of foggy mist that’s just on the breech of rain. Annoying enough to turn your hair into a damp frizzy mess, but not enough to require an umbrella. The top of the space needle was completely lost in the fog. We started the day at a doughnut shop where I guess Obama made an appearance at some point. It was a cute coffee shop, 2 stories, good pastries, good coffee. Next we went to the Experience Music Project and Sci-Fi Museum. This place was REALLY rad. The first floor is just a café, tickets, etc. and the second floor is where the action begins. In the center stands an enormous piece of art entitled The Roots and Branches Sculpture. The medium for this sculpture? Hundreds of guitars, mixed in with some other instruments. This masterpiece stands several stories high and actually plays music!!!! It robotically plays the instruments with impressive precision to play songs. If you walk passed Roots and Branches, you enter a room with high ceilings and a projection screen that spreads from ceiling to floor, with a state of the art sound system. When musicians are pictured on that screen during performances, you’d swear you were actually seeing them live in concert. It’s a cool room, and they play various things throughout the day on the big screen.
The first exhibit we visited was the Avatar exhibit. It’s filled with everything you ever wanted to know about making the film- from how the language was developed, to the green-screen techniques, to the creation of the unique landscape in the film. It’s amazing, I mean these weren’t just artists dreaming up plants and flowers from their imagination with no boundaries. They actually put a lot of thought into what the climate would be like in Pandora, what plants could grow there in those conditions, and how wildlife would possibly develop there. So while it actually IS created through imagination, it has a logistical foundation which I thought was fascinating. They also have exhibits that show the actors working on scenes in front of the green screen. But the amazing thing is that the director can actually use a virtual camera. So when he looks through the camera, he doesn’t see the green screen. He actually sees the actors playing out the scene in Pandora. It was really cool to see how this movie was made, and even though I LOVED Avatar even before seeing this exhibit, my appreciation for the film is not only renewed, but amplified.
Horror Exhibit Pics
Next we found ourselves embedded in the Nirvana exhibit. After all, we are in the birthplace of grunge. The thing that sticks out most to me about this exhibit is Kurt Cobain’s artwork. I never knew anything about his sketching or painting. He had a very unique style, especially when it comes to the lines he would use in depicting facial expressions. His sketches gave off a bit of an eerie and dark vibe, as does his music so I guess that makes sense. To be perfectly honest it was kind of a turn on. There’s something about an artistically dark man, with such talent, and passion just oozing from him effortlessly.. not in the way that so many musicians/artists try to pretend. Just unbelievably sexy. Ricky spent FOR-EVER in this exhibit. He read everything he possibly could about Nirvana and examined everything within the exhibit with sincerity.
Ricky and I have this problem with museums where we get overly excited about a few exhibits and take it all in and kind of expend all of our energy, and then we’re too tired and bored and hungry and distracted to finish. We need to learn to pace ourselves. We checked out the Jimmy Hendrix exhibit, which was cool. I skipped the Battlestar Galactica one, but I’m sure it was probably awesome as well. Then they have this entire floor where you can play basic instruments. It is SO MUCH fun. They have separate little booths and areas for different instruments, fully equipped with automated instructions to teach you the basics of how to play. They also have soundproof booths. So if you want, you can go in a booth with some buddies and jam out on drums and guitar. They have a singing one too!!! It was here, at this interactive exhibit, where I learned how pathetically uncoordinated I am. I mean- it’s just hopeless. I gave drums and guitar a shot and I just cannot stay on beat!!! I’m good with the keyboard though. I just don’t understand, because I’m an incredibly good dancer. I totally feel the beat!!!
From here we walked down to the public market area, and that’s when we really started to lose our desire to do anything at all. We were starving and cold and damp and my hair was frizzy. Ricky was craving sea food, but for whatever reason it was taking us FOREVER to find a place to eat. A lot of things were closed for which is weird, because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Sunday or anything. Finally, our stomachs were so gnawing with hunger that we decided to settle for BBQ instead. We sat down at the table and picked some delectable items from the menu and told the waitress what we wanted.
“I’ll have some pelligrino to drink please”.
“I’m sorry, we’re out of Pelligrino”.
“Ok, I’ll have the rotisserie Chicken”
“Oh we’re actually out of the chicken right now” …. Now it was Ricky’s turn. “I’ll have the oysters and a bowl of chowder”
“we don’t have any any oysters right now and we’re out of chowder.”
“Fuck this. We’re gonna go somewhere else.” As much as I felt bad because I knew it wasn’t the waitresses fault, I was totally on the same page. What kind of restaurant is out of EVERYTHING!? It took a couple of more stops before we finally found a decent seafood spot to get some lunch. But even that was kind of a failure because Ricky didn’t like his food all that much. It was here that we decided today was the day to call it quits. We were exhausted. And not necessarily tired, I just mean exhausted of all our eagerness, our drive, our motivation. We both agreed that we did it to the max. We did as much as we possibly could do until we felt like we were just dragging ourselves along. We literally burnt ourselves out. And what better way to end the road trip? We did it until we could do it no more, and we both feel more than satisfied.
I kind of wish we had more energy at this point because the public market is really cool. All types of markets open in the streets. It’s your classic movie scene of guys chucking fish to one another, catching them in newspaper. But it was cold, and misty, and we were done. Also in this area is the first Starbucks. Ever. I pretended I didn’t care about that at first, which is another example of how jaded we are, but I forced myself to realize how cool that is. The first Starbucks ever in history!
Our very last sight to see before we headed back to the van was this ginormous gum wall. It was pretty cool to see, but somehow all I could smell when we were next to it was old breath. That was probably just in my head though. So that was it. I few pictures of the gum wall tucked away in an ally in Seattle, and The Great Escape came to a close. We rode the monorail back to the parking lot where Falkor was waiting to take us home. To San Francisco.
- Day 116
- 17,333 miles
- Goondocks, OR
- Dec 14, 2011
Today we saved the Goondocks! We found a map in my dads attic, and it lead us on a wild and crazy adventure into an underground fortress filled with booty traps, “you mean booby traps” “thats what i said booby traps, God these guys,” Data. We found one eyed Willy’s ship filled with “riches” and saved the day. Ok, we didn’t do anything like that but we did go to Astoria, OR where the movie was filmed. Like most people my age I’m obsessed with the movie “the Goonies.” I’ve seen it a million times and know it word for word. It’s classic. After all the amazing things we’ve seen on the road trip so far its hard to believe that Astoria, Or and the Goondocks were one of first things I planned on seeing when initially planning. This was a top priority. That should show you how much this movie means to me. The first stop on our Goonie tour was Haystack rock and Ecola state park where the Fratelli’s opening credits chase scene concludes, the Lighthouse lounge/Fratelli’s hide out is, and the closing scene where the boys are found on the beach were all filmed. “I think I have a match. I’m sure of it. The lighthouse, the rock, and the restaurant all fit the doubloon,” Mikey. It was really windy making a mild temp day pretty cold, but just like Mikey, I was enthralled with a sense of adventure and the cold wasn’t a factor. Jillian was more like Chunk and came along fro the ride complaining here and there. The haystack rock was enormous.
From here we drove into Astoria and drove past the bowling alley that Chunk was in in the opening credits. “Listen, okay? You guys’ll never believe me. There was two cop cars, okay? And they were chasing this four-wheel deal, this real neat ORV, and there were bullets flying all over the place. It was the most amazing thing I ever saw,” Chunk Around the corner from there was Mikey’s dads museum and next to that was the jail the Fratelli’s break out of in the opening scene. To our surprise the jail was turned into a small museum dedicated to the Goonies and other movies filmed in Astoria. (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, Kindergarten Cop, Short Circuit, The Ring 2, Free Willy) It was an awesome little museum. One half was all Goonies. The cell where the opening scene was filmed was open. In the other 2 cells were Goonies memorabilia, including Data’s jacket, backpack, inventions, “pinchers of power” and nike kicks. In the other half of the Jail was interactive exhibits with movie making equipment and green screens. Its was pretty high tech for such a small museum. Inside boxes on the shelves in the back were props including Chester Copperpots wallet with Lou Gehrigs baseball card, the key to one eyed willy and the doubloon. The lady running the place let us in for free. She was very informative and told us all about the town and the movies filmed here. The Ring 2 was actually filmed at her house. We ran around the museum like kids. I was in Goonie heaven. I even took a Jake Fratelli pose pic. The gift shop was full of memorabilia, Replica maps, broken penis statues of david, and “baby ruths”
Mikey’s Dad’s Museum
As we fled Jillian poured gasoline around the perimeter and I shot it with my gun lighting a circle of fire around the museum. We were on our way to see Mikey and Bran’s house, the Goonie headquarters. Along the way there we passed by the Kindergarten Cop school as a bonus. “Its not a tumor”
After 26 years the house has gone through some renovation. So it’s not identical to how it looked in the movie, but its still standing. Across the street is Data’s house. His house has changed a lot but still is painted in the same color blue. I should have made Jill do the truffle shuffle outside of the house.
With the sun starting to set and my childhood awoken with in me I drove away from the Goondocks listen to Cyndy Lauper’s “the Goonies are good enough” while Jillian tuck herself into bed for her daily nap. We were on our way out of my childhood and into my teens, to the Grunge capital of the world, Seattle.
Check This Gem Out. Youtube wouldn’t let me embed it. It’s Cyndi’s Musci Vid complete with the WWF Wrestlers of the time for god knows what reason.
For those of you who didn’t understand this post due to not seeing or only seeing the Goonies “once a long time ago” t, get a life! Your childhood sucked! Rent the movie TONIGHT.
Next and Last Stop: Seattle, WA
- Day 115
- 17,028 miles
- Portland, OR
- Dec 13, 2011
Days 114 and 115
Portland is it! This place is where its at. I could easily make this place my home. We spent 2 jam packed days here. Here’s how it went down….
We pulled into Portland hungry. Parked in the trendy Pearl District Neighborhood, then stumbled upon a local hotspot, Hot Lips Pizza. It was located in this building that had an open mall like hallway with seating and a couple of restaurants and stores lining the hall but it was all art-ed out and hip. I felt cool just to be there. This will be a reoccurring theme. Everything in Portland is really hip. For instance, all the pizza ingredients are local, organic, bathed in holy water, blah blah blah, and there’s gluten free and vegan options. Total artsy farsty, leftwing neo-hippie fest. If you haven’t heard of the pizzeria, you may seen their bottled sodas around. They are freshly squeeze fruit juice, flavored with real sugar and lemon juice then carbonated. I remember seeing them in Brooklyn. The pizza was awesome, as far as west coast pizza goes (said in my snobbiest voice with my nose high in the air.) They also had these slammin long breadsticks covered in a mushy garlic spread. Jillian is still on this stupid fake ass diet that she’s been on for 4 days now and will abandon soon where she doesn’t eat carbs, so she had a salad rather then a slice. Weak. When it was time to throw my garbage away, I stood in front of the garbage cans baffled. There were so many garbage cans and so many rules, plastic, glass, compost, dishes, and landfill. I was so embarrassed standing there reading about my garbage options that I just threw it all in landfill, the NY way. I gonna need to study up on my garbage technique if I’m gonna survive here in the Pacific Northwest. Before we exit the Pizza place, while we are on the topic of pizza, let me just say that Portland loves pizza. There’s a pizza place on every other building. They’re not like the NY Italian style either. There are all type of styles vying for their “slice” of the market, wink wink.
So from there we walked around the Pearl Neighborhood a bit. It was a Monday afternoon so most of the galleries and boutiques were closed. While we walk the streets, let me take a minute and tell you about the city. Here’s a quick, at first glance, opinion. Portland is young. The average age must be in the 20′s. It looks like Pittsburgh, lots of bridges crossing a river, slightly industrial but homey, a small city but not a spread out city, modern technologies abound. Its also a lot like Austin as well, Hip, trendy, artsy, young, food trucks everywhere, shitloads of homeless, interesting restaurants, bars and stores. So it’s all that, with a Pacific Northwest mentality of liberal hippism and filled with white, middle to upper class, bohemian, art school, 20 somethings. That’s Portland in a nutshell. All this being said, I love this city. I could easily see me and all my friends moving here for good. It’s a very manageable city with a lot going on. I dig it. Climate might be the only issue. During our stay here it was NY cold, not Feb cold but defiantly Dec cold. Daily highs in the low 40′s and cloudy. Although unlike NY they hover in the mild 40-80 degree temps year round, so that’s a plus. Anyway, back to our walk. We accidentally stumbled on a place called Ground Kontrol. Check it out here The sign outside said “Arcade,” naturally we went in to investigate. It was a smallish place with 2 “levels”, wink wink, filled with about 100 classic pinball and arcade games and a full service bar. Its a lot like Barcade in Williamsburg but better, because where Barcade lacks Ground Kontrol picks up. Here’s the skinny, Barcade has most of the classic Nintendo and Atari games and is a legit bar bar. Ground Kontrol is an Arcade first (a priority for me) And unlike Barcade has Pinball machines and classic 90′s games as well. Can you say awesome?! This has always been my one complaint with Brooklyn’s Barcade. Portland’s bar arcade has classics like bubble bobble, ms packman, paperboy (with handle bar joystick), Qbert, donkey kong, tetris (I own one of these somewhere), burgertime, arkanoid, centipede, frogger and many more. Moving out of the 80′s in has mortal combat (Get over here), street fighter (saawuuukick), teenage mutant ninja turtles (Yes, the same one from the old Greenport laundromat, now sweet indulgences) Xmen, Dance dance, Tekken Tag, just to name a few. They have 30 pinball machines upstairs from Terminator 2 with pistol grip ball launch to Indian Jones(doctor Jones) to the Simpsons. I LOVE these places! Oh, and the biggest plus is that all games only cost 25 cents, except pinball cost 50, none of this bullshit dollar game inflation you see on Ms pacmans in bars across the country. We only spent 5 dollars/1 hour in here. We coulda and shoulda spent a lot more. I’m warning you now, friends and family, I WILL own and operate one of these Bar/Arcades. It will have every game from Frogger to Big Buck Hunter. So, SF, if your my future city then you will be home to Saetta’s Nerd City.
I was ready to get my snack on. We just ate recently and I didn’t get dessert. I ALWAYS get dessert. Life is for livin, you know? When in Portland there’s really only one place you should go when looking to get your sweets one, Voodoo Doughnuts. Yes, the famous Voodoo from the food network and travel channel. I’m sure you heard of its creations before. Like most places in Portland, the style of this place in unreal and their confection creations are outrageous. I got the “Old Dirty Bastard,” aka a chocolate frosted doughnut topped with a pile of Oreo cookie pieces and drizzled peanut butter. Shit was intensely delicious. Jill’s fake diet opted her out so she just had a taste. Go to this place!!! Check out the menu Here. They have a cream filled doughnut called “Cock’n'Balls” that’s shaped like a cock and balls. I mean, come on!
From here we took a walk over the Burnside bridge to another famous Portland landmark, well famous to men of my age with a similar skill set, Burnside Skate park. Underneath the bridge on the eastside of town is a fully cement skatepark. Its a big deal. I remember seeing it pop up in skate videos from time to time as a teen. We watched the kids skate for a bit (back in my day.) I wish I brought my board…..and a friend, incase we gotta beat up some kids. (skateparks can be territorial.)
We walked back arose the bridge and into the bum part of town. This is Portland for you: There’s a vacant lot that’s for sale, and rather then let it sit there’s a legit shanty community set up, that seems to be encouraged by the liberal hippie community. In fact I think they even helped build it due to the artsy look of the place. Let me just share a very insensitive opinion/observation about the west coast homeless. In NY we do “the homeless” differently. We separate them from us in everyday. We don’t talk to them, they don’t really talk to us (only to themselves) and we don’t allow them to be in our public places. Also, in NY the majority of the bums are legit crazies. The are homeless because they have schizophrenia and can’t hold a job, don’t trust anyone, and talk to themselves. That or they are just drug addicts that ran themselves into the ground. The West Coast homeless do include the drug addicts and the crazies, but there seems to be something else going on here. You know in the East Village that group of fake, choose to be homeless, midwestern, dirty, fake gutter punk, crying for attention, “look at me in a bum, because I’m a non conformist,” kids that hang around in Tompkins Square park? A big percentage of the West coast homeless is this. They’re not as hungry to seek attention like the NY kids. They’re more laid back and maybe to lazy to be. But I’m sure they’re are not desperate and fucked up as east coast bums. They don’t have serious drug problems nor are they fucked up in the head. They weren’t forced into street life. They are just lazy. It’s almost like some of them choose to live on the street. That being said, I’m all about people doing what they want but just leave me out of it. Don’t ask me for money! Especially certain amounts of money. “dude, do you have 75 cents.” Don’t talk to me! I don’t know you, we are not friends. I’m from the east coast. I don’t talk to people I don’t know, especially not the wanna be, intentional homeless. “So, are you taking pictures?” what the fuck do you think I’m carrying a camera. Get out of my face, and get a job! Go rent an apartment! I’m assuming that the nice weather on this coast has allowed these types to survive outdoors without peril. That’s probably another reason NY has different kind of homeless. You gotta be hardcore and dedicated to survive NY winters. Here there is a lot of pro homeless attitude, which is great for the true desperate but also allows a lot of Poser-ry. Like a homeless open door policy. In the cities like Austin, SF, San Diego and Portland there are Homeless shelters in the middle of downtown that are like bum landfills. It would be like setting up NY biggest homeless shelter in Union Square. So more then half of the daily population of Union Square would be homeless. Wow, I’m ranting big time. It’s just strange to me. Something I’m gonna have to get used to. I don’t really understand it yet. Sorry if I offended anyone.
Back to our regularly schedule program.
We hopped back in the car. Portland isn’t a very car friendly city. The streets in downtown are very hard to navigate, lots of one ways, bus lanes, bike lanes, no left turns, 2 way stop signs then a stop light then a 4 way stop, crosswalks, narrow streets. Its just fucked up. With time to spare before our night activity we found parking in a park (how do you like that), and I took a nap while Jillian stayed awake (how do you like that.) Dinner was at a cute little spot in another trendy neighborhood called Nob Hill. The weather was chilly and felt very much like the Pre-Christmas weather we are used to back east so we decided to get our Christmas on (tis the season). We went to the outskirts of the city to the “Festival of lights” at the Grotto Gardens. The Grotto Gardens are a botanical gardens type of nature park with waterfalls and little quaint garden nooks, that is religious themed. I had it on my “things to see in Portland” list as a maybe, but when we heard that during the holidays its covered in Christmas lights we made it a priority. It was very Christmas-y. We got hot chocolate and walk around for a bit underneath all the lights. It was pretty awesome all though we expected more for some reason. Jillian kept cracking up laughing, god knows why. She was in rare form.
From here we shot over to our last activity of the day, the Hollywood Theater. Its an old art house movie theater in Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood. If you haven’t figured it out yet from the rest of the road trip, I love old art house movie theaters. We saw Elite Squad. I loved it, Jillian didn’t.
The following day was less jam pack but still equally fun. We started off at a Walmart In Washington State. After sleeping in and stocking up on what would probably be the Great escapes last supply run, we headed east of Portland to see some of what nature has to offer. Just outside of the city is a 620 foot double waterfall. So beautiful, covered in wet Northwest flora.
We headed back into the city and drove around a bit, viewing Portland through the windshield. For lunch is was gonna be a change of pace, fast-food. Portland’s own fast-food restaurant Burgerville was the target. In true Portland, hippie style its not your typical fast-food. All the ingredients are local, organic, blahblah, and the of course there’s a 12 step garbage separation program. The food was delicious, tasted fastfoody with a little hint of health in there.
The last destination of the day was to a hotel called Kennedy School. Just like the name suggests, the hotel is actually a school, an old elementary school. Built in 1915, with declining population and a deterioration of the building, the school was closed in the 70′s. The neighborhood hippie-ed together and saved the building for demolition. McMenamins bought it and in 1997 turned it into a hotel/brewery/movie theater. This place was awesome! The classrooms are converted into hotel rooms with the chalkboards still up, the hallways are decorated in local school themed art, the employees dress like teachers, the cafeteria is now a fancy restaurant, the gym a movie theater with couches for seats, there is an onsite brewery and 5 bars, and all this is done in a very non cheesy, non novel way. We laid low in our number themed room complete with a chalkboard, and took showers. Then it was off to soak in the 100 degree outside salt water “soaking pool.” It was a crisp 40 degrees outside making the soak extra rewarding. After the soak we went to dinner at the ex-cafeteria restaurant. From there we walked the halls dipping in and out of the bars. There’s an “honors” bar and a “detention” bar (that you can smoke in), then there’s a bar that used to be the boiler room equip with pool and shuffleboard and decked out in plumbing fixtures. I originally heard of this place because of its “movie theater in an old school,” that’s why I booked it. On the night we were staying they weren’t showing any movies. They usually show new release indie films. Instead they were having geek trivia at 7:30. We both thought this could be fun and showed up in time to find out that it actually started at 7, and the place was sold-out full of Portland’s nerds. I usually show up early to things, like 30-40 min early, but tonight I didn’t. I figured we were in a far off neighborhood, on a Tuesday night, we were staying down the hall, it’ll be fine. It wasn’t fine. The place was chock full of nerds. There wasn’t one halfway cool person in the whole building. Every seat was taken. We were really looking forward to this so we were kinda bummed. Standing in the back of the room we listened to 10 questions and knew 2 answers. The question were well outside of our geek range. I guess it was meant to be. We were too cool for this place so we headed to the bar and played pool for the rest of the night. Jillian was on fire. Best pool I’ve ever seen her play. She had angles like a math teacher. I guess all those classes of wine brought out her swagger. Check it out HERE.
We finished the night off watching the Goonies in bed. Jillian needed to freshen up her goonie knowledge. Cuz tomorrow we go to the goondocks! (Hey you Guys)
Portland: Where young people go to retire
If you haven’t seen Portlandia you tube it. It’s genius
Next Stop: The Goondocks
- Day 113
- 16,821 miles
- Florence, OR
- Dec 11, 2011
Yep, we are still at it, 113 days. Can’t stop, Won’t stop. Give me more of this Northwestern weather….not. Woke up at a Walmart this morning, cold and foggy. Very depressing. we drove back towards the coast to see America’s largest sea cave and what lie inside. The drive there is typical Oregon, green and mushy. The wet air allows for ferns and moss everywhere. Every tree that isn’t a pine is covered in mosses. It looks really slimy and cool. The drive was funny. You go from thick thick whiteout fog to clear blue skies. On and off like that as we go up in elevation then back down following a creek. It was beautiful in a gloomy way. We got to the coast and it was sunny but chilly. Here we would see hundreds of sea lions hiding out in sea cave with green ceilings and blue waters. After paying admission we took an elevator down 200 feet to the cave. Stepping out of the elevator it reeked of fish guts. The viewing area is pretty small and has steal cable caging separating you from animals. Lucky for us there wasn’t a lot of people down there, we had the sea lions to ourselves. This was a really awesome experience. The Sea Lions made all these crazy sounds that echoed through out the cave. The cave itself was impressive, but with all the sea lions swimming, barking, and playing made it remarkable. We stayed and watch for a long time.
Check out the Sounds
Look how happy she was after the sea lions
From the cave we had no other plans so we positioned ourselves for an easy drive to Portland tomorrow and are now watching some week 14 football.
9 days left! Single digits!!! Yikes!
I don’t wanna find a job and start working 5-6 days a week.
Next Stop: Portland, OR
- Day 112
- 16,640 miles
- Redwood NP, CA
- Dec 10, 2011
Last night we left SF at 3pm. We wanted to cut the 6-7 hour drive to Redwood National Park in half. For the first time we got up close and personal with Sf biggest and baddest landmark, the beautiful Golden Gate. We crossed it heading north, and didn’t take anytime to really take it in. We had a lot of miles to cover before night fall, and had to keep our eyes on the prize. I decided to take the scenic route, highway 1, up the coast. It would been a good idea if it wasn’t an hour and half away from sunset. Initially the ride was beautiful with the sun setting giving the coast a golden glow. This highway is just remarkably beautiful. From the coast i was taking inland through Point Reyes, rolling grassy hills with farms and cattle, beautiful. A thick aroma in the air smelled like a florist shop, made we roll my window down in a chilly 50 and keep it down. Of course while this is all happening Jillian is napping in the back. The windiness of highway 1 and my steadfast speed gives the little one a headache. I was seriously enjoying the drive till the sunset. I couldn’t see a thing on this windy road.. My anger grew as my GPS continued to remind me that i wasn’t taking the fastest route and after an hour of driving I didn’t subtract a minute from the “time left.” Frustrated I left the coast and listened to my GPS and went inland towards 101. When i got to 101 there was lots of traffic. 2 hours of driving in I some how had 3 hours left. As i headed north the notorious Northwestern fog rolled in and rolled in heavy. Visibility went to zero. Signs warning about deer and elk kept popping up. Now I’m stressed out with 2 plus hours of driving left. I had driving like this, tired, stressed out, and scared. We pulled into Humbolt Redwood State Park, where i had planned to camp for the night. We drove through the park in desperate need of a campsite but had no idea where the campground was. Finding it was a pain in the ass. The fog never lifted and the road narrowed, lining the road the redwoods started to increase in size. I don’t know if it was because i was so strung out but as we passed these giant trees, in the fog, late at night, lost, I was actually literally scared. For the first time in my life i was afraid of a tree. Pathetic. They were just so intense, intimidating and looming. We finally found the campsite and parked underneath a couple of these giants. They cradled us like babies putting us to sleep, protecting us, easing my mind.
When we woke up these giants were less scary, but still just as impressive. The air was heavy and wet and smelled of these beasts. Moss covered everything. The sunlight was eaten up. It was a very interesting morning. We hit the road and headed North and back to the coast to Redwood National Park. With the trip nearing an end and after our timeout in SF, our apathetic laziness is at an all time high. We did a couple of small hikes through the old growth coastal redwoods, but mainly just drove through the park. These trees are intense. So big, so tall. It makes me excited to see the Sequoias of Yosemite and compare. The last section of the drive was through a dirt road exiting the park, recommended by a park ranger. This was an excellent recommendation. I was so jurassic park. Some of the biggest Redwoods yet, packed tight against the single lane dirt road, red with needles. It was jaw dropping. Probably one of my favorite drives yet.
Burned Out CenterTree Huggin HippieShe’s So TinyWe did a Coastal HikeThe Last DriveBaby Falkor
Next Stop: Sea Lions Caves, Oregon
- Day 110
- 16,097 miles
- San Francisco
- Dec 8, 2011
The last 3 days have been a real change of pace for us and we kinda lost our road trip groove a little bit. The stationary life is sucking us in.. It’s been so nice to wake up and have a kitchen handy. Ricky cooked eggs for us two days in a row! We have a refrigerator stocked with juice, soy milk, and chardonnay. Not to mention, I’ve been showering on the daily! Our sublet is right next to an adorable dog park that is perfect for running. And check this convenience- when I’m done running, I have a hot shower waiting for me at home. We have pretty much everything we need just a couple blocks away. Grocery store, nail salon, sushi, Mexican all within walking distance. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed waking up with next to nothing on the agenda, being able to lounge around in the apt if that’s what we feel like. We even have our own space!!! (sort of). I can be at the kitchen table on my computer while Ricky is up in the loft watching TV!!!! Unreal. We still have a couple weeks more of the road trip left and while we really don’t want it to end, we’re kind of torn at this point. We’re hungry to settle in and start building a life outside the van. At the same time, we’re kind of itching to get in the van and move along. We kind of regret stopping in San Fran. It’s definitely slowed our roll a little bit. But it’s also given us a taste of what’s to come. And we like what we see.
Only 12 days left on the road then its job hunting time. We don’t have that much more to see, 2 cities, a handful on small attractions, and some really big trees await us. Then it’s back down the coast as the Great Escape nears its end.
Its only been 3 days but I know that climbing back into the van life will take some adjusting.
“Like a band of Gypsies,” Lets get back to it. On the Road Again
Check Out the Loft AKA the “Club House”
Next Stop: Redwood National Forest
- Day 107
- 15,927 miles
- San Simon, CA
- Dec 5, 2011
We had a long day today. First things first, we left our suite at the Madonna after some delicious pastries and juice that were delivered to our door. Yum. Northbound we went along one of the country’s most scenic highways, route 1 California. Today we will end up taking this road all the way to San Francisco. The Plan was only to reach San Simeon, an hour north of the Madonna, see Hearst castle, then spend the night close by. Only being 200 or so miles from our new home and dying from excitement to see and meet it, we extended the day and pushed north. But before I go there let me tell you about today’s activity.
Quick history lesson. A true Californian story. George Hearst from Missouri of Scottish decent heads out west and strikes it big. Gold, Silver and Copper. The Comstock load. Homeboy becomes rich and buys up a lot of land. William Randolph Hearst, his son, is born into money. Post college he takes over his dads San Francisco paper. Hiring the best writers of the day, his paper dominates. He then starts buying up other newspapers and is soon one the richest men in the country. He’s a big spender and after his parents pass away he spends the family money like crazy. All this doesn’t really concern us today, what does is the 90,000 sq ft castle he builds along the coast in Califorina. This place is intense, 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world’s largest private zoo. Inside the mansion is art, building materials, rugs, and furniture ranging from 100- 2500 years ago. He was an avid collector of European art. Most of the ceilings are intricate handcarved wood salvaged from 400 year old Spanish buildings. Its like a museum. Serious baller status. When inside you feel as if you have been transported to Europe. We went on 2 very informative tours and got to walk the gardens and pool self guided. It was unreal.
Check out the Virtual Tour
Across the the highway from the castle was a cove where elephant seals like to chillout.
From here the drive increased in beauty. It was late afternoon and the sun was setting along the highway. A two lane winding coastal road, it weaves on and off the coast line, down to the shore then up on rock cliffs. Through a canopy of tall trees then clinging to the cliff side with only a guardrail separating you from falling into the ocean. It’s so beautiful. With too much excitement to see our future home my heel stayed to the floor as we drove through Big Sur and the Bixby Creek Bridge. This was easily one of our most favorite drives yet. The sun set and we were driving in darkness with only our headlights and the moon light reflecting off the water.
One Legged Gull
I heard this road song gem on the radio while winding along this coastal road. So fitting.
We got into our new home around 8, found parking outside of my cousins crib and spent our first night in San Francisco overwhelmed with joy and accomplishment sleeping in a van parked on the streets. This is our new home, we chose it, it’s ours. That’s a nice feeling. We did it!
Next Stop: Our SF Sublet
- Day 106
- 15,641 miles
- San Luis Obispo, CA
- Dec 4, 2011
A road construction company owner, Alex Madonna, spent so much time on the road and in and out of crappy hotels that he wanted to create a place of his own, where travelers could feel at home and enjoy a delicious meal. Some how this vision translated into building a 110 overdecorated themed rooms. The Madoona Inn located on the central coast of California could easily be describe as the worlds kitchest hotel. Each and every room has its own name (ie Jungle, Dot and Daisy, Old mexico, Romance, Caveman,) and the room is decorated in elaborate style giving life to the name. We landed the room “Just Heaven” It was tacky as hell and really fun. The light fixtures were frigin cherubs holding candles for christ sake! Here’s how they describe it ““Just Heaven” is a romantic haven far above the outside world. This celestial room is embraced by golden cherubs and kissed in shades of blue to create a little heaven here on earth. An enchanting staircase winds upward into a private viewing tower above the king bed…where gentle rays of sunlight filter through multi-colored glass during the day and soft touches of moonlight linger at night. Graceful French-style furnishings fashion an affectionate ambiance in this heavenly creation for two.” Haha.
Superior Butt Washing
This place was rad, a fun novelty getaway. The Inn also has a “world class” steakhouse that is completely covered in campy pink decor. The steaks were delicious and the desserts even better.
The novelty doesn’t stop at the rooms. In the lobby, the mens bathroom has a working stone waterfall urinal. I pissed the shit out of it.
To anyone in the area or anyone looking for a memorable experience spending the night in this hotel is a must. Here’s a link to their website where you can view every room. Its so tacky! It’ll make for an interesting 30 min or so.
P.S. I just read this on Wikipedia about the hotel: “In the 1980s, the hotel was the object of a scandal involving the placement of concealed cameras in honeymoon suites. The practice was revealed when one of the victimized couples returned to the hotel on anniversary, only to find that the adult video tape they had selected for the evening’s enjoyment contained footage of themselves” So awesome!
Next Stop: Hearst Castle
- Day 105
- 15,509 miles
- Death Valley, NV
- Dec 3, 2011
Just outside of Death Valley, on the Nevada boarder, is the old town of Rhyolite. It was once a booming gold town in the early 20th century. Like most gold towns after the ore was expended so was the town. 20 years after its rise is was empty. A ghost town. Thats where we went this morning on our drive to death valley. There’s remains of a couple buildings including a bank, drug store and school. Pretty sick.
Next to the ghost town in the middle of the desert was a sculpture garden. My favorite was the naked blonde cinder block woman on here knees. WTF?! It was brutally windy and cold. The Santa Ana winds have been kicking our ass for days now. So, we didn’t spend as much time here as we would of liked. Jillian stayed in the car most of the time. As I was taking pictures I saw that the van was moving. She took it upon herself and volunteered to drive for the day. That was short lived after she backed into a couple bushes with less then 10 minutes of driving underneath her belt. In here defense it’s really hard to drive the van in reverse. You have to look at the side mirrors and side mirrors only. It takes lots of practice and not easy for “turn your head around” car drivers. Along side the sculptures was a house made of bottles. Pretty neat. There was also a couple of recent (within the past 50 years, not as old as the ghost town) vacant houses.
From here we drove in the high winds down into Death Valley, below sea level. For most of the drive we were in a dust storm. Jillian slept through it all. From there, we took the scenic route through the southern tip of Sequoia National Park but failed to see any Sequoias. What we did get to do was drive along a squiggle road that followed a rocky creek through big grassy/rocky mountains.
After 4 hours of driving we arrived at our home for the night, Bakersfield, CA. We went the closest theater and saw “Hugo” in 3D. It was a very well done. Now we are just hanging at another Walmart.
Next Stop: Madonna Inn