Archive for October 22nd, 2010

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With Jason’s list in hand, I set off into the fog on Day 43, intent on seeing as much as possible. I knew, though, that I couldn’t do everything if I wanted to take my coastal route south and still make it to San Francisco by Friday night. Mother Nature actually helped me strike a few things from the list, as Jason and Amy had pointed out a couple that are only worth it on a clear day. Next time.

The sun did make it through the haze enough for me to appreciate the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge – and to see the sign for the Maryhill Winery. No, it wasn’t the wine I was going for – I remembered Jason saying that Stonehenge is right near there. And it was! No, not the real one that I visited multiple times in England, but a replica created as a war memorial. Not exactly the same, but made me smile.

The Bridge of the Gods mural was next, then Multnomah Falls – a really long waterfall that’s literally right off the highway. Those both deserved more time but were two-minute stops for me as I wanted a bit of time in Portland. I did follow some of the Oregon Trail, though, at least according to the road signs. And I went the path of Lewis and Clark, although the couple of times I attempted to pull off to see some of their sites, they seemed to far off the highway for me to pursue within my time limits…

Well, the vast majority of my time was spent at Powell’s Books – my, oh my, Jason, I will love you forever for that suggestion! You were so right. I loved it and didn’t want to leave, I could’ve spent hours in there! They have both new and used books on every subject imaginable. And I took advantage of their cafe and enjoyed a cuban sandwich for lunch – it was so good! (My friend John said his aunt works there – I’m jealous!) Luckily, they have a web site so I guess that will have to do until I can visit again. A friend called, and so not to disturb the other patrons, I took it as a sign to leave and walk around at least a little of the city while talking, before the parking meter ran out (trying to avoid tickets on this trip). I probably didn’t walk to the right parts of the city, but can’t say I loved Portland any more than Seattle. I actually like Seattle quite a bit more (if only it had Powell’s).

Then I got in the car and went somewhere I love as much as book stores (please don’t ever make me choose just one): the coast. I spent the rest of the day, into the evening, driving down the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. (Believe it or not, I’m actually giving Aidan a rest and just following the coastal route south. It’s longer than the routes he wants me to take, but so much prettier.) The weather turned windy and rainy but it didn’t stop me from getting out of my car at many beaches to capture a few moments on film. (Can you still say that even though it’s digital?) I also stopped at Yaquina Bay Lighthouse just before dark, and then went through some historic tunnel/bridge. It was pretty cool.

It is so funny, the things you learn about yourself on the road, mainly by talking to people who often ask you the same questions in different ways. My responses sometimes surprise me. During dinner the other night Amy and Jason asked me similar questions to ones Matt asked over lunch, and they all made me realize that maybe I’m not quite the city girl I claim to be. When I really think about what I love so far on this trip, it’s the coastal and more rural places, not the cities. The country/coastal ones are where I’ve most enjoyed and want to spend more time. I love London and Boston. Those are my cities. (Edinburgh, too, but that gets too cold.) And I haven’t found another city in my travels that compares. Of course, San Francisco has always been at the top of my list, but it’s been so many years it will be interesting to see how I feel after this weekend.

While it’s etched in my heart, I know London isn’t the place for me – at least for now. It’s killing me that I’m not home in Massachusetts for my oldest Goddaughter’s thirteenth birthday Saturday. (Happy birthday Allegra! You CAN’T be a teenager!?!?) The biggest reason I moved back to the US was to be closer to my family and friends – I hated missing out on so much when I was in London. Had I been able to move all of them to London, I would’ve been happy to stay there forever. So this road trip has helped me know I need to be back there – or be a short drive from there, or have a job where I travel and could fly back often. Now what exactly constitutes a short drive in my mind has expanded a bit, but not as far as the west coast! So maybe not Massachusetts, although if I stick with my bed and breakfast idea, which is quickly growing in my mind, that’s where I’d want it to be. And it’s a great combination of city and country. There’s Boston (and all the best sports teams), of course, to fulfill my city needs and then places like Tara’s wildlife sanctuaries for the country pull. Wish I was home now for all the fall events like Saturday’s Spooktacular (from 6-9pm at Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary at La Salette.) If you’re in Mass and interested, go for me – and take pictures!

The sun is peaking through the windows. Time to go start Day 44 and see if I can make it to my destination by nightfall – depends how many stops beckon me…

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I should’ve watched Sleepless in Seattle again before visiting – it’s been too long! But I certainly wasn’t there to find Tom Hanks, so I guess I didn’t miss out on much by not seeing it again. I did remember the general Seattle highlights, and many friends reiterated them, so I was set. It was a case of limited time, more than anything else…

I met Matt for lunch, since he works right near Pike’s Place (known for throwing fish, which I was happy to witness – even saw an acapella group sing to the fish guys). We ate at a great little place overlooking the water, then walked a bit through the cool market where they sell everything, before he went back to work and sent me up to the top of the Space Needle to get some photos from above.  In summary: Seattle’s nice, but I didn’t love it. I took the monorail back to my car from the Space Needle, got my Starbuck’s hot caramel apple cider (in my new favorite travel mug – a pretty one by Aladdin, a gift from Matt – he also gave me a cool tea infuser one so I can buy tea for the trip too!) and got back on the road…

I pretty much drove straight the four hours to Hermiston, Oregon to Jason and Amy’s house. It was a great night! Seeing family is always nice – and Jason is basically family, since I’ve known him practically forever, he’s the brother of my best friend and Godfather of my Goddaughters. And it was wonderful to finally meet Amy, his wife – they were married while I was in London. (Happy First Anniversary guys – meant to say that while I was there!) They took me to this fabulous old west saloon – an ‘epic steakhouse’ – in Pendleton, Oregon called Hamley’s. It has the best ambiance and good food too! (Always a bonus for a restaurant.) Loved all the relics on display and had to laugh at the ‘mature’ bathroom! 

And it was a first: Jason had actually written notes to make sure he told me the best places to go and things to see! He had some great suggestions – I hoped I’d be able to fit many of them in. After dinner Jason and Amy gave me a mini-tour of the area, including Jason’s Vet office and the apartment complex they lived in when they met (awwwww). I took pictures for Tina, but left those out of this slideshow. To top the night off, I was thrilled to sleep in their guest room which is actually painted like the American Flag. I felt right at home…

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