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Showing posts from April, 2010

April Recap: Wrapping up the West Coast

Miles driven: 3041.4
Ferries Rides Considered: 2
Ferries Ridden: 1

Video here


Video here

Number of friends and family visited: 10

Spending



Spending Analysis OR How Exactly Did You Guys Spend That Much??
Food: We are suckers for good food in cities and we visited some great cities this month. 
Auto: We definitely saw higher gas prices this month, not only in California, but in Oregon and Washington too. We are also driving more miles than we expected.
Lodging: We have adjusted our sleeping situation quite a bit. We are sleeping in a lot more Walmart parking lots and interspersing cheap (~$50ish) hotels when we get to big cities that we want to explore. 
Other: I don't even know what to say about the spending in this category. It's the catch-all envelope and includes entertainment like renting bikes and visiting museums/drive through trees, mass transit, tips, website hosting*, showers at public facilities, and ten mysterious Walmart purchases.
Looking On The Bright Side

Soooo, I am going t…

Pshaw! It doesn't rain in Seattle!

We're at my friend Dayna's house this week in Olympia, WA but before we got here, to this blissful place of regular bathing and constant internet, we went to Seattle.

It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly since we're from Phoenix, that we love it when it's sunny. Well, Seattle rolled out the amazing weather for us when we were there and it was pretty much a perfect day.

We started at the Seattle Public Library which has stunningarchitecture and free wi-fi. And then we split up.

In case you are wondering why we chose to explore the city separately, I'll clear that up for you now: Sushi and Chinese food. I am a lover of sushi. I would eat it every week if we had the money and Jon had the tolerance. Jon is a lover of Chinese food. He did eat it every week in Phoenix for lunch but now that I am along for the ride, he doesn't get it very often.

So we split up. I went to Sushi Kanpai and had some of the best sushi I've ever had  (and I'm not just saying that …

Thanks, Eyjafjallajökull!

For the past several months, we've been monitoring the price of flights to Europe and praying that they would drop from the crazy high season prices we were seeing. $1000/ticket? Not in our budget.

But then came the volcanic eruption in Iceland and *POOF* airline prices started dropping. We are now the proud owners of two tickets to Amsterdam via Icelandair for the grand total of...

...wait for it...

$896.

Yep, that's the price for TWO tickets. Woohoo!!

If you are planning on visiting us while we are in Europe, now is the time to buy! And you should totally plan to visit us. Because we miss you.

---
UPDATE:
Ummmmmm....I forgot to mention that this was a one-way ticket. I just checked the RT prices and they are much higher. Boooo. But it does seem like they've gone down some because we were not seeing that low for one-way prices before the eruption. So you should still come visit us anyway!

Lockity Locks

We were excited to find out that there are Locks in Seattle! Locks! The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to be exact.

And guess what boat went through while we were watching? A NOAA ship traveling from Seattle to Japan and dropping huge buoys as they go marking Tsunami areas. Neato!

Stateside

After two days of extreme culture shock in Canada, we just had to get back to the good ol' U. S. of A!


Apparently, getting back into your home country is faster than leaving it. However, it appears that agents from both sides of the border are equally humorless. Who doesn't laugh at a good loonie joke?  Also note the sound of the agent knocking on the van's hi-top. Good thing we know better than to stash the weed up there.



Video Here

Now that we're back, we have some questions for you crazy Canucks:
Why do some of your green traffic lights flash?Exactly how much gas do I get for $113.11? (per liter? per barrel? per tank?) At $75 per crossing*, do only your wealthiest live on Vancouver Island?How do you pronounce the number 7?  Hooked on Phonics isn't working for us on this one...  ---

* Cost for 1 van + 2 passengers

Thanks, Lord Stanley!

Wow!  Stanley Park is beeeeeeeautiful!  And what a perfect day for a walk, too.


Vid Link

Of course, the funky walk here was a little less inspired than the one in Golden Gate Park, due to the fact that we were way too full on yummy Indian food from the buffet at Salam Bombay.  There is certainly no shortage of international food options here in this lovely, multicultural city.

Thank you, Vancouver for a very nice day.

Thank you, Vancouver for the hotel staff that upgraded our room last night because the first one was under construction and the second one smelled like smoke and cheap cologne.

Thank you, Vancouver for your many modes of public transportation (electric bus, fully-automated "skytrain" and "seabus" ferry).

And, thank you, Vancouver, for being so polite to us.



Link

Nobody Expects The Canadian Inquisition!

Why so many questions Canada?  Sheesh!

And, really, asking us twice about owning the van?  I know that it is a shockingly sweet ride but, please, give us a little credit for our amazing style.

Sorry the volume is low.  (Apologizing for everything. It's the Canadian way.)

See (embellished) transcript below.



Video Link


Transcript:

Jon:  Good Evening.
Canadian Inquisitor: Hello.
CI: Just two of you in there?
J: Yes.
Ellen: Yeah.
CI: Were do you live?
J: Ahhhh...  Arizona [or...  Colorado?  or....  IN THIS SWEET-ASS VAN!]
CI: What's the purpose for this trip?
J: Ahhhh...  We are going to visit Vancouver.  Uhhh...  Vacation.
CI: And how long were you planning?
J: Ahhh...  Probably, at the most, three...
E:  Two days.
J: ...two or three days...
CI: How long have you planned this trip? 
J: Ahhh...  [Wait... what? How are my organizational skills coming into play here? How is this relevant?]  We've been traveling the U.S. for a couple months now and ah, so, we had always planned to come up here.…

Helen Was Shy Today

Too much snow and fog to see the volcano...

The Stuff that Happened in Oregon

First, we went to Portland.


We went to the old Kennedy School and had dinner with Carol and Ashley at their Courtyard Restaurant.  After that, we saw Crazy Heart (for $3!! THREE DOLLARS!!) while sitting in comfy chairs and drinking beer. Why has that idea not caught on? The "showing slightly older movies but with beer/alcohol" idea? Anyway, that's the longest Ellen has ever seen Jon sit through country music1. Yay!


We also went to Voodoo Doughnut cause Anna told us there were penis donuts there. There was a line and Ellen wanted to stay and Jon didn't but Ellen won. We got pictures and three donuts each and then went into a sugar coma.



Then we left Portland and toured the Tillamook cheese factory. Heads up Napa, this is the way it's done. BooYaa! You give people free, delicious cheese and then watch them buy cheese after that. We bought three different kinds of cheese. Yuuuuuummmm!!! Also, they had some ridiculously yummy non-cheese crap for sale.





Vid Link


Then w…

Graveyard of the Pacific

At the mouth of the Columbia River. Fascinating history in this area. Look it up...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graveyard_of_the_Pacific

Natural Air Freshener

It is time to leave Portland behind us. Thanks for the hospitality Carol, Pete and Ashley! And thanks for the lovely lilac blossom. It is already helping to de-stink the van.

What Cures Dehydration Better Than Beer?

After several days of being sick, I finally felt better yesterday so we decided to check out the Columbia River Gorge and do a little hike around the falls.

We stopped at Wahkeena Falls:



Video here

And then moved on to the second highest and most visited waterfall in Oregon:




















We walked up to the bridge and decided to keep going to the top as the map said it was only another 0.5 miles to the top of the falls. The map lied (or *cough* perhaps we misread it). It was a mile and a quarter of switchbacks to the top which would have been fine except for the fact that I was wearing sandles and we did not bring water. Despite that, we made it to the top only slightly dehydrated and with only one blister on my right foot. Success!



Video here

Having experienced Oregon nature, we then decided to experience some Oregon beer:














And then Oregon wine:




















And finally Oregon Frufru drinks:

Multnomah Falls

Rainy Evening Ice Cream

At Prince Pucklers. Unbeknownst to us before we saw the pictures on their wall, Obama ate here.

Oregon Dunes

At the jetty

I ♥ Redwoods

During these past few days in and around the Redwood National and State Parks, I have fallen in love.

Maybe I'm just starved of lush, green, wet and living places after having resided in the middle of the desert for nearly 13 years. Or maybe people have been trying for 100 years to preserve this area and these beautiful giants for a damn good reason.

This place is so alive. You can almost hear the deadfall being digested and returned to the earth by the other plants, insects and fungus. Tapping the ground with your foot yields a hollow thud that makes you realize that the entire forest floor is connected. A constant, light cool mist surrounds you that only occasionally turns to rain in the clearings. And the air... (deep inhale)  Ahhhh....

Take a walk with me and experience a small part of the forest for yourself...



Video Link