Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Tri-State Day

Day 30: July 26, 2009 – Colville, WA to Lakeside, MT
Happy Birthday Aunt Phyllis!

Today was Phyllis’ Birthday! And we were her birthday present! But in reality, they offered us such great accommodations and hospitality that they were our vacation present.

After showers and finishing up laundry we made our way to the breakfast table which was again full of food, this time in Turkish tradition. A plate full of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, cheese, olives, eggs and bread awaited our palates. We enjoyed the freshness of everything presented as well as two cups of America’s best tea: Let’s Do Tea (Snowflake and Blossoms of Spring to be exact). As with the night before, we enjoyed more great conversations about travel, books, tea and family.

Struggling to leave this place of great food and great company, we finally made our way out the door, out of the driveway and eventually out of Washington. Having recently made some trip adjustments, we would now be going through Idaho as opposed to going into Canada. That translates into a Tri-State Day: beginning in Washington, Idaho in the middle, and Montana to top it off at the end of the day. We enjoyed the scenery of Idaho as we made our way through Newport, Sandpoint and Bonner’s Ferry before reaching the Montana border. Of course western Montana is beautiful so we enjoyed the drive through the mountains as we made our way to Lakeside, Montana where we would meet up with one of Melissa’s high school dance-mates’ boyfriends who would house us for the night.

Located on Flathead Lake, Melissa was again filled with fond childhood memories of family reunions and first boat rides as well as her first visit to Glacier National Park and out of the country. James, our nights host, met us at a fish hatchery and lead us to his place.

We chatted a bit about our travels, how he met Bri and what he does in the area. We continued chatting fairly late into the evening, eventually welcoming Steve and son Josh into the conversation. These two are from Atlanta, Josh came to Montana to work and Steve had been out visiting him and a couple National Parks for the past week or so. The five of us talked about everything from speeding in Montana to the mafia. Eventually, Mike and Melissa were able to hit the airbed and try to get some rest before making their way ever closer to home.

Side note: On the way to Jame's place we noticed this sign: Interpret it as you wish.

Home is Where the Family is

Day 29: July 25, 2009 – Northern Cascade National Park to Colville, WA
Take That!

A gray sky greeted us this morning. Nothing too unbearable. We slowly made our way out of bed and began packing the car. We were not fast enough. The rain began to come down harder than we had expected and we were left with only one option: throw the tent and all other things in the backseat so that it might dry.

With a dreary beginning, we started east toward Colville stopping once to take some photos and then further down the road to enjoy a short hike. Our hike took us to Rainy Lake, a short two-mile paved trail that leads to a beautiful mountain lake which showcased two waterfalls. We soaked up the beautiful view and made our way back through the thick forest of two-toned pine trees, creeks and plentiful ground ferns and plant life.

A little exercise under our belts, we continued on our way. Arriving in Colville we decided to stop at a small café and catch up on a few internet things (no blogs, but you know…) before visiting Mike’s Uncle Tom and Aunt Phyllis (this was so we could be good guests, ready to chat and be sociable rather than wanting to use internet.) With the necessities covered online we called Tom and Phyllis and received direction to their home where we welcomed with great warmth, kindness, and food – lots of food! It is, however, important to note at this time that is was raining hard, a downpour of sorts and Melissa’s seat in Nav-E was soaked, so she arrived at the Riggs home sitting in the back seat – darn the sunroof!

After hugs and greetings were exchanged Phyllis offered wine, beer, water, tea and coffee – our kind of hostess! We enjoyed our beverages and some conversations covering where we’d been what we’d experienced and what some of their latest adventures had been. After the first round of chitchat, Phyllis sat us down to a table loaded with food! It was like Thanksgiving, only it was a Pan-African/Pan-Asian type of Thanksgiving with pork ribs, African coleslaw and beans. We filled up on all the delicious food that was presented and enjoyed further conversations including Phyllis’ recent trip with her daughter, Julianna, to Turkey.

After dinner, Phyllis offered us the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood with her as is her routine. Having stuffed ourselves and having heard their was a brownie dessert to come, we decided we too would be wise to walk. So we made our way out and were able to see the failed beginnings of a subdivision and what it looks like when engineers and other organizers fail at compacting and building roads wisely. As we walked, we also enjoyed a pink sky, a handful of deer and Phyllis’ explanation of Holden, WA – the most amazing place on earth. By the end of the walk, Mike and Melissa were convinced to check out Holden, WA and the retreat center which called the small town home.

Back at home, we talked tea, brewed a pot and enjoyed our brownies a la mode with caramel sauce. We were stuffed by this time and quickly fading. So we made our way to the basement which was basically ours so long as we were in Colville and fell into a deep, restful, full-bellied sleep.

From Locks and Omelets...

Day 28: July 24, 2009 – Seattle, WA to Northern Cascade National Park
To Peaks and Rain

Evan and Kate pointed us toward Salmon Bay Café this morning. It’s where all the fishermen go to fill their bellies for a fair price. So, we made like fishermen and ate the Salmon Bay Café. It was delicious and up to now, the biggest meal we have enjoyed during the morning hours. With full bellies we made our way to the Locks where we would be able to watch the boats go out to sea by “elevator” and spot some fish from the fish ladder viewing window. The area leading to the locks is an English style garden with some beautiful trees and flowers that made the short walk to the Locks even more enjoyable. We watched a few fish swimming around in the ladder, saw a blue heron and watched a dozen or so boats make their way out to sea. A good way to say good-bye to Seattle and ultimately, to the coast.

From the Locks we made our way east toward the Northern Cascades where we hoped to camp and enjoy a hike or two. The drive into the Cascades was wonderful as the road is very well maintained and the mountains are absolutely splendid. Trees surrounded us on either side and often left us feeling as though we were driving through a tunnel. Before reaching the Park boundary we took the opportunity to stop at a winery on the side of the road and continue our wine education. We sampled four of the wines manufactured, from grape to bottle, at this particular winery and concluded that one of them fit our sweet loving personalities so well that we ought to make a purchase.

On the road again, we quickly approached the Park entry. We made our way to the Visitor Center to get our National Parks Passport stamp and grab some information on hikes in the area before heading out to find a campsite. Half-way through the park, as the rain began to drizzle down, we found a walk-in campsite that suited our needs for the night and we promptly set up and paid our fee. Having a place to sleep we were able to prepare a small pot of soup which fit the rainy weather perfectly. Bellies satisfied we made our way into the tent where sleep awaited our tired bodies.

The one You've all Been Waiting For...

Day 27: July 23, 2009 – Mt. Rainier National Park to Seattle, WA
Where did we sleep?

Cougar Rock Campground outside of Longmire, WA in Mt. Rainier National Park, that’s where we slept. It was a good sleep. The stars were bright as we laid to rest and the fog set in thick by morning.

We worried that we would not get to enjoy the view of Mt. Rainier today because the fog was so heavy in our campground and on the road as we drove up to Paradise for ideal viewing of the peak. We strained our eyes to see the peak and soon enough we had broke through the clouds and saw the infamous mountain in all it’s wonderful glory!

Happy to receive sunshine and a spectacular view, we did what all intelligent folks do and began a short yet steep trek up the trail to view the mountain up close and personal – ish. The trail we started appeared to be the trail that serious backpackers also start on when they plan to summit this beast of a mountain. So, we walked along with our camera, single bottle of water and Melissa was faithfully wearing a skirt – we fit right in!

A few huffs and puffs later we had the view we had come for and spent some time taking pictures, admiring the flowers, being entertained by marmots and looking a little less than familiar to mountain terrain (especially Melissa). It’s okay though, she knows her skills and is not put off by anyone’s judgments, skirts are really the best hiking option she’s ever discovered


Having enjoyed the crisp mountain air and beauty of another Washington Mountain range we headed into Seattle where we planned to meet up with our good friend and best man, Abram Heller and his lovely lady, Mallory.

Surprisingly, we beat this couple into downtown Seattle (even after a series of Parking ordeals…ugh) and promptly made the decision to seek out nourishment. Our choice? A sushi bar. Mmmm. We enjoyed spicy salmon sushi, salmon and avocado sushi, spicy tuna sushi and shrimp tempura sushi – and when we say we enjoyed it, we mean we ENJOYED it! Just as we finished up our afternoon snack we were finally able to meet up with Abram and be introduced to the lovely Mallory.

The four of us then made our way into Pike Place Market where Abram and Mallory grabbed a quick bite to eat before we all made our way down to the ORIGINAL Starbuck’s coffee!!! Ooo-Aaaa. Unfortunately, Mike and Melissa are committed to drinking tea but were slightly honored to stand in the café that started it all. From Starbucks #1 we made our way into the market where we enjoyed the sights and smells of fresh produce, orange honey coated almonds, fresh fish, handmade soaps, photography and other unique goods.

Having enjoyed typical Seattle we made our way to the waterfront to enjoy a beverage and some time chatting with Abram and Mallory. With their own obligations, they made their way onto their next destination and we prepared to meet our CouchSurfing hosts in the Ballard district of Seattle.

Navigating our way through downtown Seattle and across a bridge we showed up at the apartment complex of Evan and Kate, an energetic, amusing, mostly geeky but totally awesome couple. We were introduced not only to Evan and Kate but also to their bunnies: Isabella and Walter. Evan and Kate offered us a great amount of information on bunnies; their eating habits, intelligence levels, noises, sitting positions and so much more. While learning about bunnies we also held “rabies” and “flesh eating viruses” in our hands, learned about slime mold, the location of giant trees, history of the area and were offered the opportunity to go up the Space Needle free of charge…! Woo-hoo! (Just another reason all people should participate in CouchSurfing, you never know what you’ll learn or what sweet deals you’ll run into.)

So, we loaded up in Kate’s car and made our way to the Space Needle, built for the1962 World Fair. We rode the elevator and walked the circumference of the observation area taking in the city of Seattle at night. Our energy was waning so we made our way back to the apartment (after a small detour to see a troll under a bridge – seriously…) and laid ourselves down to sleep. Melissa enjoyed the couch while Mike took on a sleeping pad and the “threat” of bunnies in the night. Melissa slept peacefully and Mike slept mostly in peace, occasionally waking to the small sounds of Isabella and her body quite near his face. After all this, we have decided that a bunny will be in our future and it will be called: Ghandi.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beaches, Rainforests and Volcanoes...

Day 26: July 22, 2009 – Olympic National Park, WA to
Oh My!

Waking up was hard. The fog had remained throughout the night, the sun was not about to break through – perfect sleeping weather, so we took the weather up on her offer and remained in our sleeping bags.

Forcing ourselves out of the tent we packed things up and made our way to Forks, WA where Vampires live…or where Twilight was based…or maybe werewolves live there? Who knows, but they were crazy about Twilight! We bought a sticker.

Having protected our necks and avoided the Vampires we were back in the car and heading toward the Hoh Rainforest entrance of Olympic National Park. As we wandered around through the Hall of Mosses we were amazed with the diversity of land we’ve been honored to visit and take in: high mountains, canyons, sequoias, deserts, ocean beaches, and rainforest plus so much more. We admired the thick moss hanging from the trees and were fascinated by the life which comes from death, the fungus and a pair of leaping, playing weasels.

Making our way out of another bio-dome, we made ourselves comfortable in the car and headed south, driving down the coast of Washington and making our way Southeast toward Mount St. Helen’s National Monument. Unfortunately, the Visitors Center closed 5 minutes before we arrived, so we were a little discouraged and made the choice to view the Volcano but rather than hike around on the few trials we knew of, we headed into Castle Rock where we were able to stop at Burger King (not a local joint, but…) and use internet to catch up on a few items.

And now we leave you, wondering: "What will these two do with the rest of their evening? Where will they sleep?" We don't even know the answer to these simple questions. All we know is: we will sleep, we will wake and we will awake to a new day ready for Seattle.

One Last Ferry

Day 25: July 21, 2009 – Duncan, BC, Canada to Olympic National Park, WA
Greetings Dear Olympic

We woke this morning well rested. Soon we were well groomed and well fed too. Believing that we were needed at the Ferry Station at 10:30 for Customs we hit the road and made our way to Victoria. On the road, we picked up another hitch-hiker, Rob, who was on his way to a 10 year olds birthday party just 15 minutes down the road. We let him out and continued on our own way. We arrived at the Ferry Station right on time! Or…so we thought. Turned out, Melissa had misinterpreted her memory and took departure time to mean arrival time; in that case, we were actually an hour and a half late. We tucked our tail in between our legs (Melissa with greater shame) and prepared to take the 3:00 ferry. However, today we were dealing with U.S. customs and they still had room on the ferry (clearly, since Melissa had reserved a spot for Navajo) and they had a desire to fill it. Melissa ran to the ticket window, purchased a ticket, Mike was cleared by customs and soon we were loading Nav-E onto the ferry! Yay!

The ferry ride was a little rough. Mike sat with eyes closed trying to avoid sickness while Melissa gazed out the large window admiring the approaching Olympic Mountains. We disembarked in Port Angeles, WA and made our way to the Olympic Mountain National Park visitor center. A kind gentleman at the center helped us plan out the rest of our day so we were free to make our way into town to purchase gasoline and groceries. Our necessities taken care of we hopped on the 101 and made our way toward Crescent Lake and the ultimate destination of Mora Campground.

Having less desire to see the lake and greater desire to see whales, we took the suggestion of a Volunteer Park Ranger we had met a couple days ago and made our way toward the North West most point of the lower 48. Just as we were approaching desired destination, we were faced with a decision. The NW point of the U.S. and the potential to see gray whales among others is on Native American Lands, cost: $10 just to drive through and potentially see awesome things through the thick fog…hmmm. We chose no and made our way back toward the park and campground of the evening. Fortunately, this road did provide a wonderful photo opportunity, so not all was a loss: see for yourself!

After playing the fish, we were back on the 101 heading toward Mora campground where we would find a wonderful camping spot under the canopy of large, rainforest trees and mosses. With the tent happily assembled we made our way to Realto Beach. On the way, Mike spotted two Bald Eagles! Once on the beach we made our way through the thick line of driftwood and out onto the black rock beach. The sky was completely overcast and a thick fog engulfed us and other beach visitors. It was gray. Yet, the waves crashed and the rocks grated on one another leaving the visitor blessed with the sounds of might and strength. We were overcome by the warrior-like beauty of the beach in its current state, so enjoyed some wandering and exploring.

A full and exciting day behind us we crawled into our tent and had the most perfect night sleep: fog and a rainforest canopy, nothing else screams for rest in the same way.

Island Hopping

Day 24: July 20, 2009 - Friday Harbor, WA to Duncan, BC, Canada
From feast to feast

The early morning greeted us with the call of a rooster and with the butt of a goat sliding on our tent. Can you say excitement? The rooster crowed at least three times before we woke up and the goat attempted to climb and slide on our tent at least two times. Eventually, the animals and our bellies won out and we got out of our sleeping bags and headed into our hosts home where we were offered a cup of hot tea (home grown and dried comfrey chamomile) and homemade sourdough pancakes smothered in goat yogurt, honey and cinnamon – a breakfast fit for royalty!

Between our hosts and our guests we were informed of the best way to spend our last few hours on San Juan Island, given a hunk of homemade Gouda cheese and sent off. Since we were unable to spot any Orcas last night we decided to try our luck in the new day and made our way back to Lime Kiln State Park. Gazing into the vast blue we saw nothing. Making the most of the location, we took a small hike down toward a bay where we enjoyed the sound of waves against rock, pushing and pulling them in and out of the depths. Having been told to visit south beach before disembarking from the island we made our way toward the road so we could see this other popular sight. However, just as we were walking the trail we noticed others with their eyes locked on the horizon. We joined their gaze and soon spotted the fins of orcas which we had so strongly desired to see. For thirty minutes we then watched to whales as they swam through the currents and through our line of sight. Nothing can quite compete with the joy of seeing something you have been anticipating for many days and weeks, even before arriving at said destination.

Thrilled with our sighting we made our way further around the Island making a pit stop at the Historical Park/American Camp and continuing to Friday Harbor where we would board the ferry. After paying our fare and parking Navajo we wandered into the downtown area enjoying some fresh seafood and a little shopping.

The ferry made the trip with great success and Mike was able so spot a few seals while Melissa worked on the blog updates on Microsoft Word. We drove off the ferry and awaited Canadian Customs which we had been told was a simple process and nothing to fear. However, when you look as sketchy as Mike and I do nothing is as simple as it ought to be. We were asked to park our car and wait for the officials to come inspect our car. Standing in front of our car, we watched as one officer looked in our cooler and then proceeded to open one of our toiletries bags. Things were now getting a little personal. Before we knew what was happening, the officer had Melissa’s toothbrush in hand scrubbing down the handle! Without the slightest explanation, they returned things as they were and thanked us for our time and patience and sent us on our way into Canada.

Bewildered by our BC welcoming, we figured out our way toward Duncan, BC where we had some CouchSurfing hosts awaiting our arrival. We enjoyed the green landscape of British Columbia, quickly remembered our metric conversions and picked up a hitchhiker who informed us that BC was great for hitching. Having dropped Randy off at his desired location we continued up the Island until we parked in front of Nick and Diane’s place. They greeted us warmly, offered beer and wine, introduced their daughter and led us to the dining room table where we enjoyed the most delicious pesto rotini, seafood salad and apple pie a la mode.

We shared CouchSurfing stories, discovering that this couple has only been on since May and are so far, having a wonderful experience! They offered a bit of education on Canadian culture, health care, and the education system. We offered tea, they accepted and we sat and enjoyed some of the best America has to offer: Let’s Do Tea. Struggling to keep our eyes open, Mike and Melissa retired to bed – a bed that our hosts described as the Princess and the Pea bed – complete with three mattresses stacked on one another.


Day 23: July 19, 2009 – Portland, OR to San Juan Islands, WA
It’s off to the Islands we go!

A few time obligations had us waking a little earlier than usual to make our way toward Seattle, Washington where we planned to pick up our dear friend Mindy and let her hitch a ride for a small fee. Before leaving, we were also attempting to work out a minor detail when one hopes to visit an island, Ferries – times, fares, locations, etc. Having gleaned the basic information online and having discussed various options once on the road, Melissa made a few phone calls to the various Ferry ports and got everything pretty well worked out for their days on the waves.

With some challenge, we made our way onto the streets of Seattle and with help we made our way to Mindy’s most current home and our pick-up location for this dear friend. She said good-bye to the friends she had made while in Seattle, working with a Prison Ministry/Campus Crusades. She was heading an hour north of Seattle to meet up with her cousins and it was easily within our route, so we happily offered to give her a ride so long as she would share with us her most recent life’s story. We learned, as we had suspected that she wasn’t so sure what she would do now that she was living back in the states and done with her Seattle project, maybe work for Campus Crusade staff, maybe find mindless work in Rapid City, SD or Laramie, WY (just kidding, Melissa made that part up).

Having caught up on Mindy’s life and welcoming her into ours we were required to leave her in Sedro-Wooley, WA and say good-bye. From good-byes and the mainland we headed toward Anacortes, WA to board the 5:05 Ferry and make our way across the water and into the San Juan Islands. We enjoyed the view of Northern Cascades, approaching islands, the potential peak of Mt. Ranier and the Olympic peninsula as we journeyed to our first island “getaway”. From the Ferry dock in Friday Harbor we headed around the windy highways and found ourselves entering the home/farm of Ken and Deb, CouchSurfing couple extraordinaire!

Based on Ken’s CS profile, we knew that he was a Tofu Farmer, Chiropractor and fisherman of sorts, little did we know how many trades he was truly a jack of. We arrived at their slightly unkempt place but were warmly greeted by Ken and introduced to a couple of WOOFing CSer’s (Working on Organic Farms) and a bicyclist CSer who had been staying with Ken anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks. Within moments we felt as if we had become a part of this cheerful and welcoming family; being offered home-made hooch, a place to pitch the tent and personal guides to Lime Kiln State Park for a guaranteed sunset and potential whale watching.

Tent staked in the ground and goats having also been introduced to their nights neighbors we made our way to the State Park with Erica and Andrea – two of our newest family members. The park itself was pleasant; great rocks off the coast, kelp beds, a small lighthouse and a setting sun. Unfortunately, it was not the perfect ambience for the infamous Orcas which often frequent the spot. The four of us admired the sunset and attempted to keep warm before making our way back to Ken and Deb’s place where the party was just about to begin.

While we’d been out, Ken had prepared a pizza with the help of a local student who is studying/working at the University of Washington Marine Labs, Ben. The homemade sourdough crust was piled high with mushrooms, pepperoni, tofu, peppers, sauce, and cheese – possibly or likely even, homemade cheese! Clock ticking, pizza cooking, we were introduced to Christina and Allie who also work for the labs and spend a significant amount of time with Ken and Deb. Melissa offered a hand in rolling pie crust for the wild cherry pie that would finish off their meal of homemade pizza. After two giant slices of the most delicious pizza and much conversation while the pie baked we finally were able to enjoy a slice of the most amazing pie we’ve eaten in a long time!
Stuffed to the brim with good eats we were ready to make our way into the tent said our prayers and drifted to sleep. Earlier in the day, a goat had been using our tent as a slide, so we said a small prayer that the goat wouldn’t scare us out of our wits should he decide to slide again and were in turn able to enter peaceful rest.

Cheese, Cheese and Wine

Day 22: July 18, 2009 – Portland, OR to Tillamook, OR and back
A small tour

We woke up in Portland this morning unsure of where we would end up sleeping tonight. We had messaged a few Seattle residents about crashing their couch but had not heard any confirmation that we would have a place. So we passed it by our Portland hosts that if we hadn’t heard anything by 3:00 we’d come back to their place to crash. That being settled we made our west toward Tillamook to enjoy some cheese.
Arriving in Tillamook, OR we struggled to find the Tillamook factory but continually saw signage for Blue Heron French Cheese Factory. Determined to find the cheese factory that is the namesake of this small Oregon town we eventually pulled up to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We entered the factory eager to try some cheese and eat some cheese curds. Easily, that goal was accomplished so we then proceeded to watch the process of making cheese. Machines slicing, people slicing, people bagging, conveyer belts moving, cheese bagged, cheese done. Conveniently, this factory not only had large windows for viewing but also TWO ice cream counters, one was even located near us at the very moment we were watching cheese be packaged! So, as any sane couple would do, we stood and line and ordered our malt and waffle cone and promptly made our way to the Blue Heron French Cheese factory.

The Blue Heron is an exciting place because they offer not only great cheese and wine, but also a petting zoo and great photo opportunities. We began our Blue Heron experience with our first wine tasting where we discovered Pomegranate and Pear wines that were refreshingly sweet. From wine to cheese, we enjoyed a sampling of Herb and Garlic Brie. Having lived as if we were highly cultured we made our way to the “photo-booths” where we became a cow and a donkey.

All cheesed out, we found ourselves downtown – Melissa on the computer and Mike napping. After catching up on the internet and CouchSurfing request we reloaded ourselves in the car and headed back to Portland. The kind souls that our hosts were they waited for us to be back in their home before the four of us made our way to the Mississippi Area where we enjoyed some beverages, pizza, and live music – PLUS, the company of our good friend Chris Livingston who also hails from Laramie and just happened to be in the Portland area. Having our fill of Portland nightlife we returned to our temporary home and crashed, hardcore on the wonderful air mattress.

The Oregon Coast

Day 21: July 17, 2009 – Crater Lake National Park to Portland, OR

We awoke to a similar symphony as the one which put us to sleep, not a bad way to start the day. In truth, the day held little excitement. We chose to drive the long way to Portland which meant driving west past the interstate and then heading north on the 101 up the Oregon Coast. We enjoyed driving through quaint beachside towns complete with crab shacks, myrtle wood specialty stores, beach turn-offs, and every other matter of tourist and beach-themed shop necessary (or semi-necessary…or unnecessary).

We pulled over to one scenic view point but because of fog where unable to get any stellar photos or see and amazing sights like starfish eating seagulls. It’d been awhile since our last ice cream stop, so we did at one point pull over to enhance our drive with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Malt and Fudge Brownie Shake. With ice cream entering our systems we continued on our way up the coast and east toward Portland where things did get a bit more exciting.

In Portland, we met up with previous CouchSurfing guests of ours. Early May, Jay and Lisa had been on their way from east to west and found themselves crashing our hide-a-bed after enjoying a tour of Laramie and a game of Catan. Unfortunately, they had left their favorite cooler in our home. “Have no fear!” we said, we’ll be in the area soon enough. So, we entered Portland with the grand mission of returning the cooler and added bonus of having a couch to surf.

Having made our way to their Portland home we were invited to walk down town and enjoy some Thai cuisine. By foot, we made our way first to an old Elementary School which had been re-modeled and now serves as a hotel, various bars, restaurants, a theater, and a swimming are! Our hosts informed us that some local brothers have made it their business to purchase old, decrepit schools, churches, etc. and “re-cycle” them into something functional. We were greatly impressed by the artwork within and the appearance of the building as a whole.

From Kennedy Elementary School to Thai Noon we enjoyed the house curry with further strolling after the meal. Back in Lisa and Jay’s home we slowly made our way to bed after watching some television and working on contacting potential CouchSurfing hosts.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Water World

Day 20: July 16, 2009 – Coos Bay, OR to Crater Lake National Park, OR
Foggy Bays and Deep Blue Water

A heavy, thick fog engulfed Coos Bay this morning. The perfect morning for a slow start. Postcard writing, showering, eating pancakes and eggs, and enjoying some final conversation with our kind host David.

By 10:00 we were ready to accelerate our way to Crater Lake National Park. Making only one pit stop for some fresh fruit we arrived in Crater Lake National Park around 3:00 in the afternoon. We took the first viewpoint to admire the vibrant blue of Crater Lake. The blue of this lake is the blue we always wished for as children when coloring a picture of lake or the ocean. It is a pure, bright blue that knows no pollution which exudes a supernatural beauty and happiness. We admired the coloration of the lake, the beauty of the flowers which cling to the rocks and all the surrounding landscape before continuing on our way. The journey around the lake led us to a couple visitor centers and lodges where we politely inquired about internet connections, to which one woman replied, “You’re in the Wilderness! You don’t need internet.” Thanks lady, we know where we are, and when you’re in a National Park with resort like facilities, it is not a silly request, this internet thing.

Continuing around the lake we stopped to view and photograph the Vidae Falls and Phantom Ship. Unfortunately, by the time we had arrived at Phantom Ship the mosquitoes were starving for human blood and we quickened our pace as to get out of there and be back in the car. One final viewpoint introduced us to a kind couple from New Jersey who were experiencing some radiator troubles. Of course we are no help when it comes to vehicle care and maintenance, so we served them by sitting and listening as the gentleman offered his prognosis and they waited while their AAA like service attempted to locate them and send the appropriate help. Confident that all we really had to offer them was our listening ears and receiving their confirmation that there was nothing they needed from us we made our way out of the park gates and to Toketee Falls campground where we paid $7 to sleep beneath a heavenly canopy listening to rustling waters and croaking frogs. Peace.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

All the Tall, Tall Trees...

Day 19: July 15, 2009 – Red Wood National Parks, CA to Coos Bay, OR
And all The Water in the Seas

We are fools, fools, fools for Oregon.

From east of the Red Wood National Park we made our way toward the park to crane our necks and admire the height of the tallest trees in the world. Yet before we could enter the park we were fortunate enough to see a large herd of Roosevelt Elk. We are continually surprised by the amount and types of wildlife that we have seen on the coast. The sea mammals and birds were to be expected, however we were not prepared to see deer, elk and bison in such abundance. It may be concluded that the National Parks and National Forest systems have done well in their preserving the natural habitats of these animals.

Upon entering the National Park, which interestingly enough does not require a fee of any sort, we made our way down the road to the Tall Tree Groves just to discover that we were supposed to have a permit and it would be wise to retrace our steps and make our way onto the main road and into a grove for non-permit holders. These criteria then lead us to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove where we enjoyed about a miles worth of meandering and admiring. The redwoods are incredibly tall however it may be the forest in which they live that is more impressive as it is incredibly dense with a significant amount of groundcover from flowers to ferns. While wandering the forest, we spotted the ever so popular Banana Slug which was quite the treat! The redwoods were impressive; however neither of us can back down from our admiration of the Giant Sequoias. Tall is just tall when you’re a small being, but wide is wide and happens to be easier to see when gazing upon a tree. Sorry redwoods.

From hiking to driving we began the short trek to the border of Oregon. Just as we left the park, we spotted a young couple in need of a ride, something we could hand out freely. So it came to be that we journeyed into Oregon with John and Sheena. John hailed from Southern California and Sheena was from Missouri – they too were desirous of leaving California, so we held a small celebration in the car when we passed the “Now Entering Oregon” sign. Having met their goal of getting into this beautiful state we said our good-byes and continued on our journey up the coast after experiencing the worst welcoming imaginable… a story for Mike to tell at another time.

Recovering from the rudeness of some people, we hit the Oregon coast with two new hitch-hikers; Sprout and Lifter. These two gentlemen were brothers who hailed from New York heading to Portland for a party of sorts called FIRE. They educated us on the art of hitch-hiking and train-hopping. They claimed California was horrible for hitching and Minnesota and Ohio were some of the best. The four of us made a pit stop in Bandon, OR as per recommendation of our nights CouchSurfing host. The stop would have been superb if it had not been for the heavy fog and gale-force winds. We were soon in Coos Bay, OR walking the boardwalk and enjoying the downtown area before making our way up the hill to David Allan’s beautiful home, our home for the evening.

David warmly welcomed us into the beautiful home which he had spent two years building. Showcasing many windows and therefore amazing views of the bay, David’s home was by far, one of the most extravagant places we have been on our trip. He quickly engaged us in conversation about our trip, made us a cup of Oregon Chai tea, and offered to prepare dinner. So, we enjoyed many hours of conversation late into the night after having enjoyed the best and biggest meal of our travels thus far: salad, pizza and shrimp fettuccine. He educated us on some details of the CouchSurfing project,, shared a little of his love for dancing, asked about highlights and was eager to join us in our first viewing of the documentary-type DVD we had picked up at Salvation Mountain.

Having enjoyed our conversation, dinner, and showers we made our way to bed and it was wonderful.


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