Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 28 - 31: Seattle and Olympic National Park

We spent a beautifully sunny Monday exploring all the tourist sites of Seattle. Elliot Bay Bookstore (which Nader remembered fondly from his summer spent here in college), Pikes Place fish market, the new library and new sculpture park in town. Having spent most of our traveling over the past several years in more rural locations, we reflected on how fun it was to have a day of urban exploration.

That night we had dinner with Allison's cousin Chester and his girlfriend Kate on their cute little houseboat.... They then showed us the new house they just bought where Chester is going to design their dream home. Damn, Chester now owns TWO houses and we can't get our act together to buy one! Well, on with the travels :)

After a low key regroup day on Tuesday, we headed to Olympic National Park on Wednesday morning where we hiked into Olympic Hot Springs for the night. The hot springs were glorious and our campsite was great... Met some folks from Portland, ME and Denver while we soaked. Yes, the urban exploration was fun but we are still mostly in love with our time spent out of doors....

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 26-27 Oregon

After leaving Ashland in the afternoon we barreled up I-5 looking for a decent place to camp, passing nothing but places called "Lazy RV Village" and "RV Heaven". Expectations low, we pulled off the highway past Eugene and stumbled across Brownsville. Brownsville is a rare thing in the American West, a historic town void of kitsch. While driving up the California coast you are inundated with offers to buy a "Giant Redwood Indian" or stop by the "Trees of Mystery". This doesn't really detract from the majesty of the redwoods, and some might go as far as saying they add to the coast's charm, but I'd rather do without them. Brownsville is a real town with real people, celebrating their past while living in the day to day, without any attempts at self-marketing. We had a couple pints at the saloon, before camping by the river, next to two family reunions. Thankfully they gave us a little space.

The next morning we decided to sample some Oregon wines before making our way up to Portland. We took a wrong turn at Tangent, OR and stumbled across an antique car show. There were probably 300 people in the middle of nowhere, showing off their beauties while others were line-dancing and women were serving up a pancake breakfast. I (Nader) was excited by the photo opportunities.

Continuing on, we stopped at a couple Willamette Valley vineyards (now midday and a reasonable time to sample some wines) and tried the locals pinots. A much more laid back feel than either Napa or Sonoma. We had some award winning wines from Yamhill Valley Vineyard and the tasting room was in the owner's house.

Driving on, we arrived in Portland in time for a late lunch. Having only spent a few hours in Portland and only downtown on a Sunday, our impression of Portland was that it is decidedly bizarre. Within two minutes on one city block we passed a protest rally claiming the Environmental Protection Agency is corrupt, some Hari Krishnas ringing their bells, and overly pierced street kids with signs offering "Instant Karma". Walking through the park we stumbled upon a 30 person adult Alice in Wonderland party, everyone taking their characters very seriously, playing croquet with bowling balls and sledgehammers. We went to the open market and chatted with a cigarette smoking, guitar playing, jewelry maker who also happens to make hand-crafted bows and another guy who for a few bucks will make a ceramic representation of your face. I like Portland. It's kind of a smaller, weirder San Francisco.

A few more hours on the road and we were in Seattle, where Tim and Marnie have graciously let us take advantage of their beautiful home, while ironically, they're in San Francisco.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July 24 - 26 Oakland to Ashland

We had a few delays on our departure out of the Bay.... You know, the usual setbacks. First Nader had to bleach his hair (don't worry Nahed, the mohawk here was just a transitional phase :). Then we had to take a two hour detour back into San Fran to get the title to our car in case we want to sell it when we get to Alaska. But four hours and one in-n-out stop later we were officially on the road.

Our first night was spent on the Lost Coast in Northern California. A beautiful spot that we discovered together several years ago, it was great to make another visit. This time we camped near Shelter Cove on the southern side of the range (last time on the beach near Petrolia which we would recommend highly for anyone making the trip).

Yesterday en route up the coast we stopped for a beautiful hike in Redwood National Forest (after the obligatory tourist picture in front of "Big Tree"). From there we continued into Oregon where gas prices dropped by 20 cents and you can talk on the cell phone while you drive! We're now chilling in Ashland for the afternoon after breakfast with Tim and Melissa who were in town for the Shakespeare festival. Life on the road is treating us well so far...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7/15-7/23: Bay Area

We've spent the past week back in the Bay Area reconnecting, regrouping and celebrating. A huge congrats to both Josh and Regan AND Hillary and Tony for their weddings this past week... Hurray!!

Coming back to the bay and all the wonderful people who live here reminds us that even as we travel the world, this is our home.

We're launching off for Alaska and everything in between tomorrow morning. Assuming the subaru can make the drive, fun pictures and stories to come!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Exciting News

No, Allison´s not pregnant. But my sister just got engaged!

Al and I had some celebratory cervezas last night as we watched the Red Sox-Yankees game at a local bar. Small world.

Congratulations, Dina and Greg! Much love to you guys from down south.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

6/25 - 7/14 Nosara

Half way through our time in Nosara.... This town is great (thanks to both Molly and Kate for the recommendation to set up shop here). It's been the perfect place to slow ourselves down a bit as we transition into the year.

We rented this cute little studio apartment just off the main strip in town. Our days are scheduled by the tide charts and yoga class schedule (well, Nader would prefer that Allison wasn't scheduling the days at all but it's a start!). Allison's been spending a few hours each day up at the Tree Tops studio of the Nosara Yoga Institute. Gazing through your downward dog at monkeys in the trees while the sun sets is a pretty sweet way to end the day.

Nader's been rocking it on the surf board and Allison has caught the bug too. She finally decided to rent her own board yesterday. It's pink and really cute. The waves here are perfect for learning.

That's about all there is to report.... Surfing, yoga, reading, sleeping. Definitely chill.

Oh, on the topic of reading -- as we listened to the fireworks last night and reflected on celebrating July 4th in a foreign country we found ourselves yet again discussing a book that we both just recently read. American Vertigo by Bernard Henri-Levy. If you have a chance, we highly recommend checking it out. He does an amazing job of painting all that is good and bad about the U.S. It helped me (Allison) frame my own views about what I feel about being an American in this world as I travel through it.