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Archive for the ‘Road Trip – USA’ Category

So I haven’t updated this for a few days, and I have been putting it off daily because it seems there is way too much to talk about, and I have not really been sure how to summarize it all. I am convinced this is a problem I should always strive to have.

The first highlight since my last foray onto this travel blog was our journey all the way south to San Diego, which was bittersweet as it meant we had pretty much finished up the west coast part of our trip. We got in late so the first night was pretty calm, but the second day started off visiting a decommissioned aircraft carrier in the docks. For 2 guys who grew up idolizing things like fighter jets, aircraft carriers, and all things military..especially in the tiny plastic form…this was an awesome part of the trip. You really have to see one of them and walk up on the deck to understand how huge they are….then go under into all the rooms below to re-inforce the point. It was pretty cool to go in and imagine working on one of those for months at a time, and some of the written first hand experiences gave a pretty good glimmer of how interesting a life it would have been. Personally I would have gone for the pilot gig, Dave I think would have taken the captain’s post….because the captain had  2 separate beds and a private chef and tv room. Very ritzy.

The rest of that day was spent wandering San Diego and meeting some of the finest people at our hostel. We roomed with a well traveled guy named Cam fresh off his tour of Coachella and later grabbed another Aussie guy named Tom before we went out. Well, I am skipping over a fairly large chunk of time spent having some beverages in the common room. Dave was incredibly stoked that no one minded him putting the hockey game on the TV while we all traded stories before heading out. The night was pretty awesome, those of you who know me know that I do not as a rule dance until my feet are sufficiently warmed up….aka….until I forget (due to a few drinks) the fact that I should not be allowed on a dance floor. As I remember it, the large majority of the night was me teaching many a California girl how ridiculously good Canadian prairie boys are at 2-stepping and all other forms of dancing….what more likely happened was I demonstrated some rendition of the tasmanian devil meets a 1 year old learning to walk…one of the two…. To end off, some very gracious quasi-locals took me and Dave out to Denny’s for some 4 am post partying breakfast…I guess some local customs are truly international, as long as a Denny’s is in the area.

With heavy hearts, and moreso in Dave’s than in my case…some heavy headaches as well…(I think the true cure for a hangover is absolutely loving waking up in the morning, I haven’t felt hardly anything the whole trip)…..we left San Diego, but it has to be one of my favorite places now. I have to go back to see some more of it sometime in the future.
Next up is Vegas, we spent the morning just wandering around, had a couple local drinks (Guinness in my case) and watched a bit of a few hockey games at some sports bar..then wandered around some more. Pretty much everyone I know aside from myself has already been to Vegas, in most cases more than once, so I won’t talk at all about the scenery aside from it is as advertised. It’s huge, surreal, and filled with an incredibly diverse set of people. One of the best things we have done on the trip so far was checking into a hostel just at the end of the strip near the stratosphere. From the moment we wandered down to the common area in the parking lot next to the pool we were greeted warmly and from then on it was just hanging with people from all over…Brazil, Japan, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, France, Ireland, etc. etc……it was a United Nations of travelers. Of course I was in new person heaven and had an unreal time. Dave finally had an opportunity to prove his “beer pong legend” t-shirt was more than just wordplay and he helped get a game going sometime in the afternoon….or night….or whenever….Remember when I said I thought I was doing an amazing job with the 2 step in San Diego? I have no such qualms about my beer pong skills. I was horrible, I gave up after eventually switching off Daves team to go with the then undefeated French girl…I showed her the proper way to lose……..Dave did not lose another game after he ditched the dead weight. That whole time at the hostel was one of my fondest memories of the trip so far, and I even had a souvenir this morning when I randomly found an 8 minute voice memo on my cell phone from that night. One of those times the right button is pressed at just the right time, and yeah, it re-inforced how great a time I had; just as much as it re-inforced to me how ridiculous some of things I say out loud are haha. Anyways at the end of the night me and Dave split up, I took a hummer limo with a bunch of the guys to hit up a very stellar party; and Dave went over to teach Vegas a thing or two about blackjack. At last count he won $300, but like any good story the fish will be much bigger by the time we get back to all you fine folks in Canada.

Again with a heavy heart and maybe a little bit of a wave we left Vegas, it was as advertised: an unreal party town. I don’t see how anyone could not walk away from there with out at least some sort of ridiculous smile on their face.

We slept in Flagstaff the night after and then made our way early to the Grand Canyon. I could go on about the wonder and beauty of that place…you all know I could….but I’ll let Dave write about it later tonight when get to where we’re sleeping tonight, in the one and only…….Beaver, Utah. Some of you will run with that comment, don’t stray too far. I should maybe ask Dave if he wants me to drive now….

Prost (cheers)
Chris

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California

So it has been awhile since I wrote on this so I’ll try to update all of this blog’s readers to what me and Dave have been up to. Both of you will be happy to know it has been a lot of driving, so this shouldn’t take long.

We stopped off Eureka, California which wasn’t really anything special. The drive along the coast was and has been pretty stellar. California is such a random state when it comes to scenery. At one point its like being back on the west coast trail on Vancouver Island with nothing but striking views of trees and vegetation all around you then an hour later you’re in wine country and it looks like a picture you’d see out of the Italian countryside. I tried to capture how beautiful that area was with some pictures but I know I didn’t do it justice.

After Eureka we drove in to San Fransisco, came across the golden bridge which was surreal. It was really foggy and covered the bridge about 200 ft in front of us so it was like we were pealing back layers of the bridge as we drove across it. It was really awesome to see something that everyone knows about and has seen pictures of with our own sets of eyes.

I should mention that by this point wearing anything but shorts and a t-shirt was definitely not an option. I think it goes without saying that California weather is unreal. I have been earnestly looking for a local to marry so I can get dual citizenship to be able to winter here.

Night one in San Fran was pretty quiet. We got in late and couldn’t find a hostel anywhere so we did our usual…drove around until we found a hotel that we could steal…I mean….borrow internet from to find the cheapest expedia rate. We ended up at a small downtown hotel in what Dave informed me after some research the next day was called the ‘tenderloin’ district. I will let your imaginations run wild with why they call it the tenderloin but needless to say we should have guessed it with the lengthy “don’t lock anything that looks like electronics in your car overnight” speech from the hotel manager and the lady-man-lady who passed us as we went up to our room. She was very polite though and Dave thought she had a pretty smile. He just beamed a smile back with a mix of something between passion and curiosity. (its awesome being the only one who chooses to write on here)…but yeah…that was  a long night because I don’t think the yelling and screaming and whatnot stopped all night. I got like 2 hours of sleep, Dave slept the whole night, I think due to dreams of his chance encounter with lady fate.

The next day we saddled up and rode off to do as the tourists do in San Fran.We went down to fishermans wharf and wandered around there for most of the morning. We were stoked to go to alvcatraz….but as Dave noted”the only bad thing about going on a  trip with no real plans is the lack of plans when you get there”..or something along those lines. We were in line for Alcatraz when we both saw the sign stating that there were no spots available for 2 more days…so needless to say we didn’t make it to Alcatraz. But we did make it to a hostel we were lucky enough to find some beds available in on the day of. It was right downtown San Fran. We had 2 good roomies, a guy from DC who was hopefully days away from landing a job in SF, and a guy from Thaipei who spoke way better English than I did Thai and was just randomly exploring for a week before heading home. We grabbed a case of beer, then grabbed another as the first one was done in about 6 minutes. I think every hostel should have a liqour store right next door to their entrance don’t you? That night me and Dave wandered some more and found a cool lookout to once again solve the worlds problems, while waving at trolley cars as they passed by. I really liked San Fran and look forward to exploring more of it the next time I run though

San Fran really is a beautiful place, but you definitely see sights that are almost unheard of in cold climate Alberta but often seen more in warmer climates to the South. There are a lot of people living without a home and asking for money to pay for whatever. From the old man who wants a sandwich to the young guy who’s sign read “who am I kidding, I just want a beer”. It’s something personally that has taken some getting used to but is an unfortunate reality of probably every city in North America. Makes guys like me feel pretty fortunate to be able to traverse the lands we’ve gone through, some people will never get an opportunity like the one I have now.

We left San Fran and had a long drive to Los Angeles. It’s kind of funny that we still found an little el cheapo hotel surrounded by all these massive ones..Hyatt….Three trees or whatever its called…giant places with fancy restaurants in them….ours is La Hacienda, and we got a coupon for an Italian place nearby…but the more of these I stay in the more I realize that there really is no difference in hotels…no matter where you go..the front desk person will always be really friendly, and the room will pretty much look exactly the same as the previous one. The only thing that changes is the color of the blanket, with the low cost ones having colorful random patterns, and the rich hotels having dark sullen single colors.

Yesterday we went to Disneyland; Dave had been to Disneyworld when he was 8, and I had been to the California version once before but I was pretty young, probably 11 or so. I think we fit in pretty closely with the excited kids going through the gates…What a great day, you really can’t help but feel happy in that place. It must be something in the water. We spent half the day in the old park doing space mountain, the haunted house, indiana jones etc. Then we went over in the afternoon to check out the California Adventures park and most of the rides there. We didn’t go on the big roller coaster because someone on this trip doesn’t like (aka. is scared of) roller coasters…I shouldn’t name names because that’s not polite. I was completely fine with not going on the coaster though: I thought in my head “Even I was afraid of roller coasters and wouldn’t go on them…………….WHEN I WAS NINE YEARS OLD!!!!”…..but don’t worry everyone I then proceeded to make fun of Dave for a good 10 minutes after I realized I wasn’t going to be able to talk him into riding it. Theres video of that. The day overall was really cool. It was wicked being able to make that a part of our trip. It was also hilarious to watch the poor parents try to keep up with their kids. In the morning everyone was super excited and energetic…..by about 4 PM though you saw some pretty angry looking children. Ones who had not eaten, were tired of walking, and were one wrong word away from a full on meltdown haha. I really felt for their parents who were trying all sorts of things to keep them going for just one more hour until they could get back to the hotel. Dave commented on the Dads that were still around at dusk trying to entertain their kids until the night shows “Look at those poor guys down there, just exhausted….slumped shoulders…barely able to walk”….lol….it was pretty awesome, cheers to parents who take their kids to Disneyland, you all deserve a pat on the back…and a nightcap when you get to the hotel. Finally we ended the day by taking my friend Ashlee’s advice and elbowing our way to a good seat for the World of Color show at the end of the night. I say elbowing our way in jest of course…no one hits other people in Disney minus the lady who grabbed Daves arm in fear during the tower of terror ride…Ashlee was right to tell us to get there and get good seats; it was an awesome display that wove in a lot of old disney movies we all saw growing up. For a few minutes I kind of lost myself and felt like I was 9 years old again, which I am sure was the whole point.

But I should stop writing this lengthy entry now, I think I rememeber saying it was going to be a short one, but I guess more happened than I thought. We’re heading somewhere this morning, but, we haven’t really planned anything yet…Maybe one more trip South to the Mexican border area?

Chris

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So me and my raconteur friend have made our way into Portland raincoats in hand. We actually have named our coats (Daves) Green light as we always seem to hit green lights when we’re traversing the city when he has it on (it is also green), and (mine) rain man as it seems as soon as I put it on the rain stops….only to return when I take the coat off…now thats a true water repellant coat;  If you think that it sounds crazy to name raincoats and that we’re losing our sanity here…imagine what the Portland State Uni kids though as we were discussing this yesterday out in the open on their campus.

Anyways…Portland…some really cool things are here in Portland. Starting with this bookstore named Powells that is huge…how huge you ask?….It is pretty much its own city block, with 2-3 floors, a second store across the street, and more books than any person could ever hope to read. It was just awesome. They have books on everything……before apps…there was a book for that..at this place. Dave found a section on raising honeybees, and another on raising goats, I would say its a sign of a future career change but as he would remind me he is retired and thus has no career…freedom 26…we decided to contribute to the local economy and bought a few books, I think we must have spent 2 hours in there. We probably could have stayed the whole day but how cool is it to go back home and say all we did in Portland was browse a bookstore?

Other fun travel fact I learned here; expedia rates are wayyyyy better than rates hotels will give you. When we got into town we pulled up to the shilo hotel parking lot so I could get free internet off them to check other hotel prices. We checked the Shilo expedia rate which was 80…walked in and the guy offered us the room for like 140….I gave him a look like “are you sure thats the best you can do????”….then we walked back out and ordered the room online….then walked back in and told him we just got the same room for 60 bucks less….at his hotel. The guy was cool about it and actually did a wicked job telling us some of the more interesting stuff in town to walk to.

What he did not tell/remind me though, is that liquor stores here are almost nonexistant. Last night I asked directions to a liquor store from a random burger joint worker. We followed his directions to what I thought was the right location…Dave would disagree….and did….but we found nothing save for 3 different Mexican restaurants all on the same corner…which don’t get me wrong is a great wonder in itself, but not what we were looking for. I commented to Dave that I hadn’t actually even seen a liquor store since we left Cranbrook…which I thought was really weird because some of the people we have seen obviously had been drinking. We wandered aimlessly until we both remembered hearing that in the States they sell liquor in pretty much every store…we walked into a Walgreens and ridiculously they had a huge beer section, and prices that I haven’t ever seen. We bought a 12 pack of something for 10 bucks, the bought another 12 pack 5 minutes later at the 7/11 when Daves hand lost the battle with the cardboard case handle and the first case fell down and smashed up a bit. The guys sitting on the street assured us most of them were still good and I am sure would have checked it out for us… I bought another one just to be safe…..but a case of beer for 10 bucks….in a 7/11….crazy.

Probably the most awesome thing we have seen so far on the trip was the Kennedy school. Its an old elementary school that was bought by some guys and turned into 5 bars, a restaurant, and a movie theatre with couches. We rambled in after entertaining a bus driver for 30 minutes and I think both were just mesmerized by this place. I know I cant do a good job of explaining how stellar the place is but…….. imagine you walk into your old elementary school….hallways..classrooms…principles office…gymnasium…and it is now one giant eclectic party place. The gym is a convention hall…the classrooms are hotel rooms…I think the restaurant was once the library…and 4 classrooms are now 4 different bars, while the boiler room has also been turned into a fifth bar. Even better you can walk the hallways from bar to bar with a drink in your hand….you can order pizza and then go grab a couch to watch a movie in what must have been the cafeteria or something. We had an unreal time there, ended up closing the school down with a bunch of the employees, and to cap the night off the bartender comped all our drinks…how awesome is that? Very awesome.

Today we are leaving Portland to I think go camping….I’ve been hacking at this laptop  while Dave tries to sleep off last evening. Either he is awake and hating me for typing or he is asleep and dreaming about being sent to the principles office to grab a beer. Either way, Portland was great…many of the worlds problems were discussed and solved at the hands of 2 drunk Canadians last night with the help of some classroom bartenders.But I should get off this thing in time for free breakfast…Dave just got up….and is singing in the shower now through the really thin walls at this hotel…we learned how thin the first night when our neighbor and his lady were obviously jumping up and down on the bed repeatedly…probably excited about the school bar…….I hope our laughing didn’t affect the guys…vertical

Chris

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Seattle

We spent 2 days in Seattle, had some pretty cool experiences: Spent one day just wandering around talking each other into buying stuff. Dave won the shopping contest, but it was close. We went to a Mariners game, I am not usually into baseball but thought it’d be a cool experience especially seeing as it was against the Jays. We got right ready for it at the alehouse next door, were stoked to get in there…and I can’t speak for Dave..but before I went to a baseball game I always found the sport pretty slow and painful….it was almost worse live haha. This was compounded by the fact that each beer was $9. If you look up buzzkill in the dictionary it has a budweiser for $9 at a pro baseball game. Crrrazy. So yeah, we lasted until the 4th inning then just wandered around the stadium for another two, I think 4 innings took about 6 hours to play.
It did end on a positive note though; We grabbed a ride home from a guy named Darren on his bike cab. He didn’t really seem to know completely where he was going, and didn’t really have thye cardio to pedal us home….but he was a pretty stellar guy with stories…lots of stories…I think me and Dave knew his family history as well as he did when we finally got near our hotel. We got out then and helped him push the cab up a few streets because as he admitted there was no way in hell he was going to get us up there. Awesome guy…despite the fact he wouldn’t let me pedal for even a few metres.

Seattle was a cool city, both me and Dave agreed on that. Lots of energy in the downtown area..lots of people everywhere. We hit up the space needle, hit up the science fiction museum with the battlestar gallactica museum…neither me nor Dave had ever seen battlestar gallactica before but we are fairly certain now that bears beat it.  The museum also had a sweet Jimi Hendrix section with lots of stuff about his life and music. We missed the Nirvana one by like 4 days. The coolest thing in my view was they had some guitars, bass’s, and drum sets hooked up that you could go in and play on your own….that was awesome, I played my heart out….all 5 chords in my repertoire.
The road trip thus far has been awesome, Dave has been pretty stellar to travel with; and I havent had to throw his cell phone out the window yet Dev….that day may come yet. Right now he’s doing his hungry hippo imitation that he likes to do when he’s driving..it involves 20 second yawns to mark each kilometer we travel….or mile…or whatever…this mile thing is weird, it forces me to speed for some reason.
Today I talked Dave into hitting up the Tacoma Art museum because they have a Norman Rockwell exhibit….got to the front door, and its closed Tuesdays…go figure haha. We’re en route to Portland right now, probably going to spend a day or so there then hit up the coast down to California.
Side note, its been t-shirt and shorts weather for 2 days now….I am incredibly happy about that. It was also awesome at the mariners game that me and Dave were the only ones there who were wearing shorts and t-shirts. Crazy canucks.
Chris

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In the beginning,

We started the trip off in Brooks, met up with some of Daves friends and ate some challengingly large and delicious steaks. The family that put us up was awesome, really good people. Somewhere that night ~ 50 beers perished. It doesn’t seem plausible that me, Dave, and Dwayne drank that many between just the three of us; me and Dave put our heads together around 3 am this morning to figure out exactly what happened…surprisingly there was not a good idea between us. My hypothesis is that while we weren’t looking some Brooks beermonster who lives in the aqueduct came and stole at least 20. Another possibility considering how Dave looked this morning is that he was slipping out of the hot tub and shot gunning as many as he could handle when no one was looking. Either way successful foray into the road trip scene.

Today we’re crashing in Cranbrook. On the way here we saw a sign for the worlds biggest truck, I wish I had gotten a picture because it was certainly false advertising. I’m sure it wouldn’t even be the largest truck in Northern Alberta. We were expecting something mountain-esque. Shameful false advertising Alberta..buck up.

Side note: Our first travel argument came up an hour out of Edmonton, about whether barbeque sauce was good with tortilla wraps..I said it wasn’t…he said it was delicious….I was right, he couldn’t even finish the second one he bought.

US tomorrow, gonna eat some potatoes in Idaho…I wonder if they’ll hate us for knowing nothing more about Idaho other than they grow a lot of potatoes. Us naive igloo-dwelling Canucks.

Chris

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OK, so barring another car accident before we leave….I am sure Dave is granny driving everywhere for the next few days..we’re leaving early Friday morning; by early I mean 11 am or so…maybe later. You’d think that having an extra week here in E-townwe would be packed and prepared…my clothes are still folded in piles next to an open duffel bag…Dave tells me his clothes are still in a laundry hamper…they are clean though.

So yeah, leaving Friday…gone for a long time.

Chris

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So a quick travel update, we’re stranded…..in Edmonton. My co-traveler had some car issues the day before..someone decided to run a red light and smash the back quarter off the car we were taking. So we’re hoping to get a rental or something and leave later this week. An unfortunate start to be sure, but hopefully it just keeps us here a few more days.

On a positive note, I have a ridiculous amount of free time right now and have started watching the travel show ‘departures’. It was my favorite show awhile back and I am re-learning why. If you haven’t watched it before and are into a good travel show, not a kitschy one….give it a shot.

Chris

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