Winter is coming

I'm now up in the land of nerds, hipsters, and organic food markets that is the Pacific Northwest. I spent the first half of the week in Portland, where I was kindly put up and entertained by Phil. This mostly consisted of visiting the various well-known eateries around the city, such as Voodoo Donuts (where they do donuts with bacon on), Salt & Straw (where they do ice cream with bacon in it), and a good BBQ place (where everything had bacon in it). Apparently people in Portland really like bacon.

It seems I got out just in time, however, as yesterday snow descended upon Portland in a big way - in a "city comes to a standstill" kind of way, apparently. I'm up in Seattle, where although it is bloody cold there is no snow forecast. I'm going to be heading to Vancouver tomorrow, and I'm hoping this continues to be the case. My flight to New York is booked out of Seattle, so the worst case scenario for me is that I get snowed in to Vancouver and can't get back down here.

I was also able to partake of that most American activity of watching the Super Bowl, which I did in a sports bar in Portland. The game was a complete whitewash, with the Seattle Seahawks thrashing the Denver Broncos. Yes, Seattle, the place where I would be staying in a couple of days, won the Super Bowl, which means that I got to see their victory parade through the city. That was pretty fun. I didn't know who the people I was cheering were but to be honest I'm a parade slut so I didn't really care.

Anyway here are some more pictures of the Pacific coast and redwood forests.

Photo Albums

Monterey
San Francisco
North Coast/Redwoods

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Some kind of Beach Boys reference

I've been travelling up the Pacific coast, driving along Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I've actually done this trip before on a family holiday 12 years ago, albeit going in the opposite direction, which has resulted in a feeling of deja vu in many places. I stopped at McWay Falls, and as I was walking along the path I suddenly got the feeling that just up ahead was a fenced off overlook where we had previously seen a bluejay, and looking down I realised that this was the cliff that I had thrown a particularly good stick that I found in Big Sur National Park down.

Of course, back when I was 15, I didn't really appreciate a lot of things properly. I can remember stopping at a beach where elephant seals come en masse, and my dad getting annoyed because my sister and I didn't find this concept interesting enough to put our books down and get out of the car. Well, I got out of the car this time, and it was pretty interesting. I would point out, however, that despite what my father may have said at that time, it turns out I wasn't missing a once in a lifetime opportunity.

On my way up the coast I overnighted at San Luis Obispo, which I picked because of its halfway location but which was actually quite a nice, cool little university town, and Monterey. I also made the time to do a bit of walking in the redwood forests of Big Sur. I am curious as to whether there were ever any religions based around redwoods - I would find it easy to believe that some people might once have considered these giants to be gods, or at least kin to them. You wouldn't even need to build cathedrals; you have places of worship of unsurpassed grandeur ready-made.

I'm in San Francisco at the moment, which means that I have a couple of days hard driving to do if I'm going to reach Portland by Saturday evening as planned. I need to go off and decide where I'm going to break the journey...

Photo Albums

Californian Coast

New Zealand Backlog:
Milford Drive
Routeburn Track
Southland/The Catlins
Dunedin

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Pacifico

Despite a slightly overcast and rainy start, my week on the Cook Islands was predominantly hot and sunny. I don't really have much to say about it - I relaxed, did some diving, went to an "island night", did some trekking...it was all pretty nice but nothing particularly noteworthy. The accomodation I stayed at - a little village of chalets - was pleasantly communal, and I whiled away most evenings chatting with the rest of the guests out on the decking up at the main house.

I landed in LA today, but I'm only intending to spend one night here. My plan is to get out on the road tomorrow morning and start heading north - need to try to find somewhere to break the journey between here and San Francisco.

Photo Albums

Rarotonga

New Zealand Backlog:
Wanaka

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