11/24/17: The Long Road Home

We got up relatively early and headed down to the hotel breakfast which was primarily bread stuff. Bagels, donuts, croissants, scones, etc. After we were done eating we went back to the room and packed our bags for the last time and checked out. We were very close to Lombard St. so we drove up there and, at the top of the curves, got great views of the fog over the bay. We could see the East Bay Bridge along with Alcatraz poking up out of the fog. We had to bust through a large crowd of tourists taking photos from the top of Lombard St. and then we were able to drive down the twisty brick road. I did it before in my brother-in-laws Miata when I took it on an extended weekend drive and that was likely 25 years ago. The Jeep made it down fine and once we were out of there we set the GPS for home.

The San Francisco Bay buried in fog.

The ride home was pretty uneventful. We drove East over the Bay Bridge (on the 580?) which was pretty cool and from that we hooked up to the 5 which was full-on boring all of the way home. About 60 miles North of LA we stopped at the Red Dot Vegetarian Restaurant which was located about 3 miles off of the 5 up in the hills. Joyce found the place on Yelp and it sounded interesting but was much more so in person. There were only 3 parking spots in front so we parked across the street in a church lot hoping they would forgive our trespasses and when we walked in they made Joyce get rid of her water cup since it had a logo from an outside restaurant. They claimed it was due to issues with the health inspector and outside foods. The place had an interesting menu much of which I didn’t see myself eating. I went with a protein burrito which was basically brown rice and black beans with some vegetables of some sort all wrapped in a spinach tortilla. I had them add some cheese the said was homemade and it was ok. I tried not to think about what they must have milked to get what they needed to make the cheese. Joyce got some curry with noodles that she really liked. Some working there were in robes and our water talked to other customers about other members of their “group” were starting similar restaurants in other cities. I’m thinking they were Hare Krishna’s based on what I saw and the music they were playing. They were nice and the food was good so it was a good stop. Once out of there it was back on the road for the final push home. We hit a bit of traffic in the bay area and a bit in LA but nothing too bad. Traffic on the 5 was flying past us through the Central Valley and we were doing near 80. I didn’t like doing such a long highway stretch while the car was still breaking in but I got enough variety earlier in the trip so it shouldn’t affect anything. We got home safe and sound about 8:30 and called the trip a success.

The Red Dot Vegetarian Restaurant.

 

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11/23/17: Destination San Francisco

We got up and did the breakfast in the hotel ritual and then packed up and hit the road. It was raining at the hotel and by the time we were heading up into the redwoods just south of town it was pouring. It was a bit tough to drive but we made it through. On the way we passed a hearty bicycle tourist who was riding South through the hills in the downpour. About 2 and a half hour South we turned off of the 101 and onto the Avenue of the Giants which I think is the 254. It was a nice drive through there and we stopped to walk the short Founders Grove Trail despite the face that it was still raining a bit. On the Avenue we passed a guy riding the road on a Brompton. Nice to see one being used as a road bike. After that it was basically an uneventful ride into San Francisco. Traffic got a bit heavier as we approached the city but nothing bad at all. Most people were likely still at home recovering from their turkey day food coma.

Gotta get pics of all the National Park signs at the parks we visit.


Avenue of the Giants.


Joyce at the Founders Grove.


Little known fact: the Avenue of the Giants was originally planned to be called the Street of Big Ass Trees.

We got into San Francisco after dark so the drive over the Golden Gate bridge was less special than it would have been in the daylight. We found the hotel fairly quickly and checked in and we had to pay an extra $35 to park the car which was a bummer. We got settled in the room and then went out in search of a pub Joyce found on Yelp that looked like it would be open. We walked what was supposed to be .9 miles but I think we walked much further. It was also up and down some very steep hills. I remember lots of hills in San Francisco but I seemed to have forgotten just how steep they were. Thinking back no I do remember steps on the sidewalks since the hills were so steep. When we finally arrived at our intended dinner stop we found it, was in fact, closed. We searched for another place on Yelp and while walking to find it we stumbled on a cafe that was open and looked ok. We got a table and Joyce ordered the Thanksgiving dinner while I got a sandwich. Both were decent. I ordered a Lagunitas IPA but the keg died while they were pulling it so I got a Stella Artois instead. After dinner we hopped on a cable car and rode it down to the wharf where we walked for a bit and checked out the barking sea dogs and then it was a 1.4 mile flat walk back to the hotel.

It doesn’t show well here but these cars are parked on a super steep street. 


Nooooooo!


Yep. We’re in San Francisco.


The wharf all decked out for Christmas. 

11/22/17: The Giant Redwoods

We got up and ate the standard hotel breakfast and then got ready to take off and visit the Redwoods. We took a road right out of Crescent City and hooked up with Howland Hill Road which took us on a nice, narrow dirt road through the redwoods. Last night was extremely windy and we woke up a few times due to the noise. Today the wind was gone but the rain remained. The road allowed us to drive right next to the redwoods and after a bit we came to the trailhead for the Boy Scout Tree Trail. We parked and put on our rain gear and set out on the rail. It was relatively flat along the whole trail with only around 400 feet of elevation gain but the sights were great. Lots of old growth giant redwoods to see and it was very quiet since there were no real roads around. The loudest thing we heard was the rain hitting the trees. We got about 2.5 miles in and decided to head back. I couldn’t tell how much further it was to the end but we missed the Boy Scout Tree as well as Fern Falls. Back at the car drove the rest of the dirt road and checked out the Stout Grove along the way and then we decided to drive down to check out the State Park portion of the redwoods in Prairie Creek.

The Jeep dwarfed by the redwoods.


No Boy Scouts up there.


Don’t forget to duck.


Joyce out looking for Frodo.

We drove the 101 South through some pretty heavy rain along with three areas where one lane was shut down and a light was put in place to control traffic. We took the Newton B Drury Scenic Byway off of the 101 through the Redwoods but didn’t really stop due to the heavy rain. It was a nice drive and we did spot some elk in one spot where there was a prairie along the road. The Parkway took us back to the 101 and we then took that North back towards our hotel. As we entered the highway we spotted two large male elk right on the edge of the highway resting and watching cars go by. Both had big racks on their heads. Along the way back we had to stop at the Trees of Mystery to see Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox in Klamath so we stepped into the store while we were there which was a waste since it was full of the typical tourist stuff. Back in town we planned to go to the same restaurant we ate at last night since Joyce wanted to try the calamari but they were closed. Yelp showed us a brewery nearby with food and good reviews so we ate at the Seaquake Brewery and it was pretty decent. I got a flight of beers and all were at least decent and dinner wasn’t bad. I got some mac & cheese that was decent and Joyce got her calamari along with some clam chowder. We split a Thai salad. After dinner it was back to the hotel where we got ready to leave tomorrow for San Francisco. I planned on taking Usal Road to the Lost Coast but the road closed on 11/14 so we just missed being able to drive that. Another miss for us on this trip.

Tree hugger.


Knotty or naughty?


Joyce meets Paul & Babe.

 

11/21/17: Entering California

We got up relatively early and went over for the standard hotel breakfast. A waffle machine was present so all was right with the world for me this morning. After breakfast we packed up and were on the road by 10 or so. I got word last night that my Mom had fallen again and likely broke her arm so that was on my mind throughout the day. The day was fairly uneventful and we basically just drove the 101 South and stopped off at various viewpoints. We did stop off at the Umpqua River Lighthouse which was a poor substitute for missing the Heceta Head Lighthouse yesterday. We didn’t backtrack to see that today.

Umpqua River Lighthouse.

We didn’t stop for lunch since we didn’t really do much as far as activity goes. We did stop in Bandon to search for Huckleberry pie but all we came out with was a fruity biscuit and some decent lattes. The Oregon Coast did offer us some amazing views though so it was nice to drive the route and get some views in at the same time. We missed quite a few views in the dark last night I’m sure. Towards the end of the day we entered California and I half expected Jerry Brown to meet us there to make sure I paid sales tax on my Jeep. We arrived in Crescent City and our hotel around 3:00 and we checked in. Since there was only an hour and a half left of daylight it wasn’t worth trying to get to the Redwoods so I took the free time and read the owners manual to learn a few things about the car and get the phone set up on the car bluetooth. About 5:30 we went and got an early dinner since we skipped lunch. Dinner was at a place Joyce found on Yelp. It was pretty basic but the prime rib sandwich I ordered and Joyce’s seafood linguine were both met with stamps of approval. After dinner we headed back to the “crib” to figure out the plan for the Redwoods tomorrow.

Coastal view.


Joyce on the Oregon coast.


The Jeep enjoying the view.


Jerry? Jerry?

 

11/20/17: Hitting the Oregon Coast

I set an alarm so I’d get up early but we ended up getting a late start anyways. Joyce slept in so I went downstairs to grab some coffee in the lobby for both of us. When I got back Joyce was up & getting ready. She wanted breakfast so we checked Yelp and ended up walking 10 blocks or so and got breakfast at a place that was average. We each got a breakfast burrito that was about as basic as it gets. The walk took us into a nice part of downtown though which was nice. After breakfast we walked back to the hotel and checked out the lobby of The Benson Hotel which Philip recommended we look at. It was all wood and posh and looked like something out of The Godfather.

The nice part of Portland.

Once back at the hotel we grabbed our bags and texted our valet # to the phone # provided and walked downstairs to pick up our ride. It was there in about 10 minutes and then we were on the road again. It was nice having the car back but, unfortunately, we got a late start as we left around 11. I think we hopped onto the 5 North and followed it out of Portland and across the Columbia into Washington. From there we hopped onto the 30 which took us straight to Astoria. I emailed Robert that we would likely be there around 1 and that was right about the time we pulled into the city. Once close I called him and said we would be at the Merry Time Bar & Grill soon and he said he just got out of his robe and he’d be there shortly. We ordered some beers and waited and then the man, the myth showed up in person. I knew it was him since he was wearing a heavy duty yellow reflective jacket that looked to be waxed cotton along with a Carradice bag and a Brompton bag. Who else could it be? He was actually pretty decent in person and we had a good talk. We ate but he said he had leftover pizza for breakfast so he just had a couple of Rainier beers. I ordered a 2nd beer and once we were done we said goodbye. He said to go out the back door and we’d see his Brompton and there it was right outside the door locked to a pole.

The Merry Time Bar & Grill. Get it?


The Brompton.

It was 3:00 by the time we left Astoria so much later than I wanted it to be. We stopped near the end of town to chcek out the Astoria Bridge which ws nicer looking than I remebered and then we hit the 101 South and made our way down the coast. We stopped a bit in Cannon Beach to see the stacks but for the most part it was driving right on through to get to Florence. It was dark around 5 so we missed much of the coast. In Tillamook we stopped by the Tillamook Cheese Factory quickly since they closed at 6 and we got some samples and then went straight for the curds. Love me some cheese curds and their squeaky goodness. After purchasing our cheese we got some ice cream and the hit the road again. We arrived in Florence around 8:30 so it was quite a bit of coast we missed in the dark. For the last hour or so there was a light rain coming down. Traffic was very light on the coast road which seemed odd but I liked it. Once in the hotel we left to get some food before everything closed and ended up at a McDonalds which wasn’t too bad. While there we had someone ask for a ride back up to Heceta Head but I declined. I did enough driving for one day.

Joyce at the mouth of the Columbia.


Cannon Beach.


The Oregon Coast before it got dark.


Joyce and the Tillamook Cheesemobile.

 

11/19/17: Portland on Foot

I got up earlier than Joyce so I took the opportunity to pork down a half of the maple bacon doughnut I picked up last night. It was great and I wanted to finish it off but saved the other half for Joyce. She got up and then we walked ourselves the 10 blocks or so to the Stumptown coffee house that was the closest to our hotel. We got there and there was a decent line but nothing too extreme. We each go lattes and I had an extra shot put in mine. They were great and a definite step above Starbucks. Once we had our coffee we drank some in the shop and then drank the rest on the way back to the hotel.

A ramen shop on the way to Stumptown.


A tattooed barista?? How unique!


Nice foam art! Some beans to go too.

Once back in the hotel we got ready to head back out again to explore the city on foot. We decided that getting the car from valet was more trouble than it was worth. We walked down to the park that ran along the Willamette River and checked out the Saturday Market that miraculously was open on Sunday. It was full of primarily arts/crafts booths along with food stalls. There were some nice food options but the empanadas were too much to resist so we each got one and both were great. They seemed to be baked rather than fried but were still plenty good. There was also a pupusa booth that was very hard to resist but we managed to pass on that one.

Once done with the market we walked further along the river park and then crossed over a bridge that had a nice pedestrian path over to the East side in a quest to fine the Baerlic tap room. Google gave us kind of crappy walking directions but we managed to find the place after about an hour of walking through some crappy neighborhoods. It was in an older area but was nice & open with light crowds. Joyce & I both got a set of flights with 5 4 oz beers of our choice. All were good and, since I was done early, I got an extra full-sized beer to drink while Joyce finished her flight. While there we also got some mixed nuts and a large pretzel with mustard to go along with the beers. Baerlic was recommended by people on the iBOB cycling list and, once again, they gave good advice.

Joyce on the West Portland river park path.


Life is tough on the East Side.


Joyce with her flight at Baerlic in East Portland.

Once done with Baerlic we walked to the Next Adventure shop recommended by the couple at the stretch noodle restaurant last night. Along the way we found the Base Camp brewery and decided to check it out after visiting the store we were in search of. We found the store a few blocks away and went in and checked out the basement bargain area but didn’t really find anything to buy. Once done we cruised back to the Base Camp brewery and found that they had some Nepalese people outside in a food truck selling momo so we had to get some to go along with the beer. We ordered a set of veggie as well as a set of beef momo and then went in where I got a beer to try. It was a barrel aged ale that was pretty tasty. Joyce passed so I drank as we both ate the momo we picked up.

Beer + Momo = yummy.

After we were done there we decided dinner would be Ramen near the Voodoo Doughnut shop so we walked across the Morrison Street bridge and found the place in an indoor food court on 2nd Street. The Ramen was pretty good but no match for Tajima back in San Diego. Once done with dinner it was back to the hotel to rest up. The weather was dry but cold all day and I was a bit underdressed so I was colder than I should have been. When we got out of the ramen place it was lightly raining so we got a bit wet on the walk back to the hotel. The day sounds like it was just a lot of eating and a lot of beer drinking but in between all of that we walked about 10 miles today. Tomorrow we get our car from valet (and it better be spotless!) and hit the road bound for the Oregon coast. I put out an email to Robert Clark who is a member of the iBOB list to see if he would like to meet up for lunch in Astoria when we pass through. We’ll see if he responds. Could be an interesting meeting.

A random building just before crossing the bridge over to West Portland.


11/18/17: Portland Via Mt. Hood

I set an alarm so I was up early. I got ready to go but Joyce slept in a bit. We ended up going down to breakfast around 8:30 and afterwards we packed up and hit the road for Mt. Hood. No power issues today. The road to Mt. Hood was via I35 and it passed a bunch of farmland with farmer’s markets all over the place. We didn’t stop since we planned to hit them on the way back. The road climbed up towards Mt. Hood and, as it did, snow started appearing on the road. Seems like it snowed very recently but the day was sunny with no clouds at all. I kept the Jeep in 2 wheel drive until a downshift caused me to slide a bit and then 4 wheel drive got used. We came across a snow park with views of Mt. Hood so we stopped there to take some pictures. There was a Sprinter van in the lot so I talked to them a bit. They were building it out themselves so it was a work in progress. They’re using it right though. They had been snowshoeing and were bringing out the fat bikes when we arrived.

The Jeep dwarfed by the Sprinter.

We planned on hitting the Timberline Lodge but when we got to the turnoff it was backed up in both directions with people waiting to get up. Signs said the lots were full so we passed and stopped at Government Camp which is a small town right near the turnoff to the lodge. It was a nice little town and we walked the town and picked up some Huckleberry jelly along with huckleberry syrup and then got a small lunch at a cafe. We ordered a sandwich to share along with some lattes but the espresso machine was on the fritz so the lattes ended up not happening. I picked up coffee instead and it was weak.

Government Camp.

After lunch we planned to leave but I noticed the road to the Timberline Lodge was now free so I took the turnoff so we could see what it was like up there. The road was pretty well snowed over so 4 wheel drive was on the whole way. Along the road we saw people in 2wd card sliding out and then having to put chains on while on a steep slope. Not a good idea. The Jeep had no issues but I was nervous nonetheless since I like to have chains just in case things get hairy. At the top it was packed with no parking at all. We did one loop and then did another and just parked illegally so we could get some pictures of the mountain. Once done with that we drove down the mountain and I had one instance where I slid a bit possible. It was on a curve and there was some slushy snow on the road. I hit the brakes slightly before a turn and felt the car slide a bit. Either that or the slush made it feel like we were sliding. Either way I pulled out of it. I tested braking on the snow earlier in the day and did not side at all. The anti-lock brakes worked well.

Mt. Hood from near the Timberline Lodge.


Joyce with Mt. Hood in the background.

Once back down at the bottom we decided to take the 26 to Portland rather than retrace our route back. The drive would be shorter but we’d miss the fruit stands we passed on the way in. The road to Portland was pretty uneventful. Not sure if it was the route the phone gave us or Portland freeways are weird but the highways were filled with stoplights and were pretty inefficient as a means to get around. We did make it to downtown Portland where we were staying around 3:00. It’s a typical downtown with lots of crowded one-way streets and lots of homeless people wandering around panhandling. We had to make 3 passes of the hotel since each time we drove by we didn’t see a sign for parking. we called and they told us we’d need to valet for $40 per day or park in a nearby lot for $23 per day. I had a hard time giving up the keys to a new car but did the valet. If they ding my car I will go medieval on their asses!

Once in the hotel we checked Yelp for something for dinner and there were lots of choices within walking distance. In the end we decided on a small noodle place where they hand stretch the noodles for each order. It was a food truck basically but not mobile. It was pretty cool to watch them make your noodles to order and the food was very good. I got chow mein and Joyce got beef noodle soup and both were great. We also got an onion pancake which was unique in that it was fried with egg and the stuffed with bacon and other things I didn’t recognize. Good stuff and cheap at only $21 total. We talked to some kids that were trying the place for the first time also due to Yelp and they recommended an outdoor shop we may check out tomorrow. After dinner we walked back to the hotel and dropped off the leftovers and then went out again since it was only 6 at that time.

Some of the non-mobile food trucks in Portland.


Joyce outside the stretch noodle place.

We planned to hit Chinatown but walked too far and ended up at the Greyhound station which is never a good place in any town. Lots of homeless everywhere and not the safest place to be. We backtracked and then managed to find what we were after but it was just one block in size and there was nothing really in it. Walking past we spotted the Voodoo Doughnut shop I saw on the map earlier so I had to get us to stop there. We went in and they had some really unique doughnuts. We ended up getting three and took them back to the hotel to try out. On the way back we had some homeless ask for a doughnut and one even offered to swap a Beatles box set for one. That would be an odd trade. Tomorrow we’ll likely explore the city on foot and take the trolley if needed. Getting our car out of valet isn’t worth the hassle.

Voodoo Doughnut!


It was a bit hard to choose what to get…


…but I did pass on the Cock N’ Balls.  

 

What we ended up with.

I’m a bit surprised by the amount of homeless here so far. I expected more of a hippie type city full of beards and ironic mustaches. Instead it seems to be a fairly normal city with all of the big city problems.