Friday, April 30, 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 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 to use our "overspending" as an...opportunity... (ahem) to share with you my Super Duper Budget SecretTM.

Now that I know our real world spending, I've adjusted our budget:

My Super Duper Budget SecretTM is this: I set the budget for lower than what I think we will spend and when we predictably overspend, it will be close to our max spending tolerance. I use stress to rein in the spending.

My mistake this month was setting an unrealistic budget. I was hoping that my strategy would keep our spending low but it backfired; once we knew that we were going to be way over, we gave up and started indulging.

What's Next?

We are in Olympic National Park this weekend and start heading east next week. Look out Montana, the Boekes are a comin'!


*We are collectors of web addresses and have over fifteen domains including Sexy Car, Amazing Looking, and Point Sublime.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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 stunning architecture 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 because I'm sushi deprived - that was some fresh fish!). Jon went to Sichuanese Chinese Restaurant in the ID. I can't comment on how good his was because I can only imagine that it was nasty. I think he said he liked it. Or maybe said he liked it a lot. Whatever. Being the more culinarily adventurous of the two of us, he also stopped at a Chinese Bakery and got a bean pie pastry thing.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the library (ahh, books, how I've missed you!), a bookstore and a lovely plaza complete with a kick ass accordion player.

Video here

Jon took a walk around the city after lunch and then also spent some more time in the library.

We met back up at the end of our parking time limit and headed to Volunteer Park. Sadly, the conservatory was closed but we were able to drive and walk around this lovely park and Jon even climbed to the top of the water tower...

Video here

...for some great views of Seattle and Mt. Rainier.

And then we proceeded to drive to Olympia. But not before we stumbled on a neat beach park on the bay with an incredible view and a lively scene...

...and the Hiram M Chittenden Locks.

Video here

All in all, one of our best days since San Fran. Seattle might be going on the short list of places to live...

Monday, April 26, 2010

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...


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.



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!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

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!

Friday, April 23, 2010


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

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    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.


    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


    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...
    CI:  ...yeah...
    J: ...the matter of when was not certain, but uh, ah, we're booked for a hotel tonight and ah, may or may not extend that... [We're seriously not terrorists. Ask yourself, CI: Why would terrorists book a hotel?]
    CI: K.
    CI: What do you do for work?
    J: [Now this is getting personal. Have you been looking for a good dentist, CI?  There are better ways to find one, CI.]  That's a good question! [...laughter...] Ellen and I actually just ...ahh... left our jobs to do this trip up around the states here and then ...ahhh... in about four months we'll be traveling overseas.
    E: [TMI, J.] on savings.
    CI: [TMI, J.] What did you do?
    J: I'm a computer programmer so, eventually, my goal is to do some contract work and... continue a traveling kind of lifestyle... as long as we can. [In countries that DON'T ASK SO MANY QUESTIONS!]
    CI: All right. So, are you husband / wife? Is that it?
    J: Yes. [Just like Bonnie and Clyde.]
    E: Yeah. [By the way, where is the nearest bank?]
    CI: This vehicle is yours?
    J: [Beaming with pride] Yes it is.
    CI: Did your wife do the same kind of work, er...? [She looks like she could be a dentist.]
    E: No. I worked for Medtronic, a medical device company. I was in the sales department so... I don't know what I'm gonna do. [...laughter...] Maybe be his business manager. I don't know.
    J: [...laughter...  Oh, she's already managing my business...  ]
    CI: Where are you travelling to after; you said you were going overseas? ( IRAN?!?)
    J: We'll probably... yeah... we'll continue across the northern Americas and then um...
    E: [That was not the question, dude.] Holland first. We have a wedding in Holland. And then ah.... probably Europe and maybe a little bit of Southeast Asia until the holidays. Maybe...  Hopefully.  If our money lasts. [...laughter...]
    CI: This is your vehicle, right? [You trust fund babies are honestly driving this thing around?]
    J: Yes it is. [Still proud.]
    E: Yeah.
    CI: And do you have any weapons, then, in your vehicle?
    E: HmMm.
    J: No.
    E: We were strictly warned that we... [...laughter...]
    J: No firearms.  [But a big can of bear mace and a little machete are OK, right?]
    E: Nothing, yeah.  [Don't you dare mention the machete.]
    CI: OK. [Against my better judgment, I'll grant you crazy people entrance to Canada but, I'll be looking for this van on the evening news in the next couple of days.]
    E: Thank you.
    J: Thank you very much. Have a good day! [Thank God we made it!]
    E: Where should I put these [passports]? You think in here, probably?
    J: Sure.
    E: [whispered] That was a lot of questions...


    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    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 we went to Astoria, the home of The Goonies and also, Short Circuit!

    Oh yeah, also the Columbia River Bar and Maritime Museum.

    Movie Link

    Movie Link

    And we stayed two nights at the Fort Stevens State Park because it was only $13 / night (compared to $30 in some parts of California) and had FREE showers. We're going to repeat that because we're not sure that you understand how rare this is. FREE SHOWERS2. Holy crap.

    Last night, we had a soggy Oregon dinner...

    And then played Scrabble...

    Video Linkage

    Got drunk on BV wine...

    El Linko

    Took pictures...

    And blogged.

    Now you are up to date.


    1 Jon says it's only because Jeff Bridges was in it. And he was in Tron. And also, Big Lebowski. Whatever. Ellen thinks he just liked that the main character's top pants button and belt was undone all of the time.

    2 Compare again to the CA State Park near Napa that was charging $1.00 for 2.5 minutes of shower time.  We didn't know until then that two of us could take a shower with only 5 total minutes of running water. (Get wet, lather, rinse, repeat.)

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    It's all over the second we ride up in Troy's bucket

    Video Here

    I will never betray my goon dock friends
    We will stick together until the whole world ends
    Through heaven and hell, and nuclear war
    Good pals like us, will stick like tar
    In the city, or the country, or the forest, or the boonies
    I am proudly declared a fellow Goony.

    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.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    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:

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    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

    TrilliumMossy BarkOrange Slime MoldLook Up, Way UpClover FlowerFrilly FungusCloverfieldsHanging GardensBanana SlugUnderThe Clovers