Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Days 91 - 94: Portlandia!


We love Portland.  It has a lot in common with Austin but it's not as hot and it rains too much.  Otherwise, it's probably the coolest city we've visited so far.  As we drove into town we saw a bumper sticker that said "Keep Portland Weird"!  Ian, our host (we met him and his dad at Mt Ranier about a week ago), said that Portland ripped the slogan off from Austin.  Love it!
Somehow we managed to not take a single photo the day we arrived so we'll have to start with day two.

It's so much better to experience a place from a local's perspective.  We ate at a great Lebanese place, Nichola's, that we never would have known about  if Ian hadn't taken us there.  This plate doesn't even include the entrees yet.  So  much food!

Right next door to the restaurant was this awesome military surplus store with all sorts of cool stuff.  Even stuff we needed! We found a couple of things we were looking for: gloves (called "magic gloves"!!!) for Angie and biodegradable camper's soap.

What do you do after Lebanese dinner and shopping at the Army surplus store?  Go to a bar!

The preferred transportation method in Portland.
Sweet vintage Schwinn "Corvette"

Another of Ian's vintage bike collection, a British Mercian.

Ian's sweet Puch moped.

Famous Portland landmark (the Oregon sign, not the building).

Portland loves beer.  Not just any beer though, independent craft brewed micro brewery beer.  Say that ten times fast.  There's a bzillion little brew pubs spread all over town.  This vendor is one of the bigger ones and had a tent set up at the Saturday Market.  The market actually runs Saturday and Sunday, every weekend, since the 1970's!

Oregon, eat slugs or die!  I didn't buy this t-shirt but I love it.  You know they have those crazy big slugs up here.  Everything is NOT bigger in Texas, thank goodness.

There's always got to be the silver robot dude at any market...

...and some bands jamming on the street, although these guys were really good.  Great name too!  "Glue Horses" Portland

Saturday afternoon we drove out with a van full of folks to "Oxbow Park" on the Sandy River.  There were all these little pyramids set up all over a rocky sand bar.  Hundreds of them.

A local lady comes out there almost every day and builds the rock people in the interest of cosmic harmony.  She put up this sign to remind people to not knock them down.
"Please do not destroy the rock people, cosmic harmony in process, thank you"

Grant and Desi harmonising with the cosmos in the midst of the rock people. 

Beers on the front porch, ahhh what a universal pastime.
(Angie, Grant, Greg, Ian)

Sunday, Ian and his right hand man, Grant, were headed to "the bins".  We really had no idea what they were talking about so we went along.  "The bins" is a big Goodwill outlet warehouse...

...where they don't really make much effort to sort anything, they just roll out these "bins" and let the customers dig thru them.  And man, there are a LOT of customers! Then the items are weighed and sold by the pound.

There's treasure in them thar bins!!!
Ian demonstrating the kind of goodies you can find at "the bins".
(He decided not to buy the mask, by the way.)

A typical bin.

Grant and Ian model some sweet eyeglass frames just unearthed from a bin with the corrective lenses still intact.  Is there any reason to shop anywhere else?
We actually found a few items we were looking for: a very short garden hose and a window shade for LeTigre!

Mmmm, more delicious food.  Our last meal in Portland was Texas BBQ at Podnah's.

A toast to Portland!  Thanks to Ian, Grant, Sean, Annie, Desi, Hannah, and everyone we met.  We had a fantastic time!  Come to Austin and we'll show you around!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Days 88 - 90: Cape Disappointment, WA and Astoria, OR

So we left Seattle and decided to head back to the coast for a couple of days.

First thing Angie did was hang her hammock and catch up on some zzzz's.

Our home for a couple of days.  Cape Disappointment is the southwestern point of Washington State where the Columbia River meets the Pacific.  It was supposedly named by John Meares, a British fur trader and explorer, who was trying to find his way inland from the Pacific Ocean and missed the mouth of the Columbia River in 1788.  He was disappointed

Treacherous waters.  Literally hundreds of ships have wrecked on these rocks.  There are two lighthouses in the area and both were within short hikes of the campground.  You can just see the Cape Disappointment lighthouse on the cliff.

Lewis and Clark were here!

The Cape Disappointment lighthouse, which is still in operation.

There's a fort and several old structures nearby which were really fun to explore.

Fort Canby was in operation from the Civil War until after WWII

This was the foundation for one of three big six inch guns stationed here during WWII.

Interior rooms of the old fort.

This room housed the six inch shells.

Later in the day, after some lunch, we hiked over to the North Head Lighthouse.  From looking at the map, it seemed our campsite was very close to the lighthouse but the trail started a couple of miles away.  We figured that surely someone had figured out a short cut so we went off in search of one.  We found it but it required climbing up a steep muddy cliff and crawling thru thick forest.  Here's Angie emerging onto the regular trail.

By the time we got to the second lighthouse thick fog had moved in and we couldn't see anything!  Bummer.

It was too steep to go back down the way we came so we had to take the long way back to our campsite...

The following day, we drove across the Columbia River into Astoria, Oregon.  They have this restored trolley car that drives back and forth along the waterfront.  The conductors point out landmarks and give lots of information about the town's history.  Astoria is the oldest town west of the Rockies, even older than San Francisco!  Oh, and we should mention, the movie "Goonies" and a few others have been filmed here.

This is "the Column" in Astoria.  It's 125 feet tall and offers fantastic views of the surrounding area.....

.....unless it's completely foggy, which it was when we climbed it.  It was pretty windy up there too.  I'm squinting just to keep my contacts from blowing away.

Next: Portland!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Days 85 - 87: Tacoma, Seattle, Angie's B-Day, and a Familiar Face!

From Mount Ranier we headed north to Tacoma.

Tacoma really likes art glass.  They have a glass museum and large glass sculptures downtown.

This is their old Union Station building.  It's no longer a train station but is now being used as a courthouse.

This is a pedestrian walkway that has outdoor glass exhibits.  There must have been hundreds of glass objects in this ceiling.  Quite beautiful.

These large vases were incredible.

One of our favorites.

Large glass chunks turned into sculpture.

It was Angie's birthday so we splurged on some Thai food in an actual restaurant!

Camped in a damp state park campground then onto Seattle!  Rains quite a bit up here, wish we could send some home to Texas.  We splurged on a motel the first night and then planned to "urban camp" the next night.  More on that later.

The Seattle Aquarium was fantastic.  This is a huge tank with lots of sea animals from the Puget Sound area, including a diver!

The diver wore a dry suit and had a special helmet so that she could communicate with the visitors.  The glass is actually acryllic and is a foot thick!

All the water circulating thru the exhibits is pumped from the Puget Sound.  Here Angie is looking at starfish, anemonies, and other tide pool animals.  Visitors are allowed to gently touch the creatures.

This is a ring of jellyfish!

Some of the aquariums were like funhouse mirrors.

More aquarium fun!

Sea otters!  These guys were fun and seemed to enjoy all the attention and mugging for the camera.

Meanwhile, the river otters were a bit more reserved.

Post Alley

Angie needed a raincoat so we visited the REI mothership.  It was huge!

This gentleman is at the intersection of Aurora and Broad if anyone is interested...

Space Needle!  Built for the 1961 World's Fair.  Seattle must make a lot of money with this attraction, it's $18 each to ride to the top.

But, of course, we did it!  The view is worth it.  If you look at the upper right corner you can just barely see Mount Ranier.

Seattle sunset at a park by the Pike Street Public Market.  It was Monday but the weather was perfect so there was a large crowd enjoying the outdoors.  We spent about an hour just people watching.  The crowd seemed to be about a third locals, a third tourists, and the rest comprised of bums, hustlers, and other assorted waterfront ne'er-do-wells.  LeTigre is parked nearby in a pay parking lot where we were debating doing an "urban camp" for the night but as the sun disappeared we started rethinking this...

Hey, we know that guy!  Corey was in town on business and we met him out at a restaurant for pizza and beer.  He was kind of enough to treat us to wrap up Angie's birthday celebrations.
Thanks Corey!

I can't recall how this tradition started but this wall, outside the restaurant on Post Alley, is covered in gum???  You can read about it here

The birthday girl!  By the time this was taken the night zombies were really out and we had abandoned any notion of "urban camping".  We drove out of Seattle to find a place for the night.  I think from now on we'll stay in the wilderness and make day forays into the big city.

So long Seattle!  Thanks!