Sunday, August 24, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 19

Sutter Creek, CA to Long Beach, CA
Miles driven today=402
Total miles driven= 3317

A drive on the Five through central California is pretty uneventful. It was such a shock to the system, after being surrounded by beautiful majestic trees, to be driving through this dramatically different scenery. I had gotten so used to seeing green everywhere, to having the shade of the trees and having the company of ferns and mosses, that it felt like a great personal loss not having them around anymore. The sun's pounding heat and the yellow landscape, flat and empty, made me ache for the lush fairy-land again. Oh, going home is so hard sometimes. I wish I could have continued this journey just a bit longer!

Today's drive was significantly shorter than yesterday's, which was nice. We finished listening to the book on CD that I had borrowed from the library, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. I sometimes have a hard time listening to books, I would so much rather read them myself, but this one was good for our drive. We made it back in the early afternoon, about a 6 1/2 hour drive, and went home and relaxed before having to go to work tomorrow.

And that, folks, is the end of my Road Trip to the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for reading and keeping up with the journey, and stay tuned for the rest of the pictures to be posted.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 18

Clackamas, OR to Sutter Creek, CA
Miles driven today= 618
Total miles driven =2915

The trek home after traveling always has such a different feel to it. The excitement of upcoming adventures and new experiences slowly fades away and responsibilities of real life looms ahead. You start saying goodbye to this journey you've been on, saying goodbye to the traveler's life, and you get yourself ready to lead the normal life again. The worst thing about the trek back is exactly that--enduring that long ride home. Wouldn't it be nice, at the end of a trip, to be able to just snap your fingers and be at home already? Going home--it's usually the longest and most tedious part of the journey.

Today was the first of a two-day drive home for Alicia and I. It was the longer drive of the two, 10 hrs to her parents house, so at least we got the bigger chunk out of the way. Her parents live on 10 pretty acres of land (a different beauty from where we've been) with lots and lots of animals--dogs, cats, birds, horses, goats, ducks, chickens--and a very cool house. We got there, visited the animals, hung the tent up to dry (Finally! It had been siting in the trunk in all its dampness since Wednesday), had a couple of beers and dinner, then went to bed.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 17

Around the Portland, OR area
Miles driven today= 48
Total miles driven= 2297

Today was Haley & Dan's wedding, but it wasn't until the evening, so we spent the earlier part of the day exploring around Portland some more. We went and had breakfast at a little cafe in the small town, Carver, which is right outside of Portland a few miles from our hotel. It just so happens (okay, not really, I intentionally planned to visit it) that the Carver Cafe was another movie-Twilight filming location for a scene that was added and isn't in the book. The interior was redone for the movie shoot, with real pictures from old Forks hung on the walls, and the cafe kept the decorations up after filming was done. It was a quaint little place with hearty breakfasts, and seemed popular with many local regulars. Here's the table where Bella & Charlie (Kristen Stewart & Billy Burke) sit at in the scene...

We finished up breakfast and went to visit the Japanese Gardens. Followed a very interesting guided tour for a while, then walked around the rest of the beautifully designed gardens. After our visit there, we drove to the city center and parked, then roamed the streets for a while. Came across a fun Italian festival in pioneer square, had lunch from one of the vendors there, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.

We luckily stayed at a hotel that was only a couple of miles from the wedding location, which was really nice. It took place outdoors at a golf course, and the reception was indoors immediately following the ceremony. Although it was rainy in the area when we first came in a couple of days ago, today turned out to be a perfect warm and clear wedding day. It was great to see Haley, although only briefly, and she looked beautiful in her strapless dress. I can't believe we've kept in touch for so long--I met her in Australia, when we were both studying abroad there--and am glad I was able to attend the wedding. I'm so excited and happy for the two of them!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 16

Around the Portland, OR Area
Miles driven today= 85
Total miles driven= 2249

The View Point Inn & the view of the Columbia River Gorge from the Inn

Leaving Olympic National Park early meant that we had a full day to explore Portland. It was nice for both of us, since Alicia had never been there before, and I wanted to see a couple of places I had missed my previous two times in the area, plus I didn't mind seeing some other things over again.

We had breakfast, then set off for Powell's City of Books. Yes, I had just been there the week before, but I love roaming around bookstores. Alicia is a reader also, so I couldn't let her miss out on a visit to Powell's! We ended up spending almost two hours there, which didn't help my book-buying problem. Remember how I refrained from buying too many books the last time I was there, and walked out with only two books? Well, I ended up walking out with three more this time around--Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Three Junes by Julia Glass, and a crockpot cookbook. They were all used, so I got a good bargain. So much for that library card I just got! Alicia was enthralled by the bookstore, especially the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section. Although she could have spent quite a bit of money there, she was trying to be good also and ended up getting only one book (technically)--it was a very large book that was a compilation of three books of a series into one.

Our second stop of the day was to another one of my movie-Twilight locations--a restaurant, The View Point Inn, where they filmed the prom scenes. I originally wanted to visit it for lunch when I was in Portland earlier last week. Monday was the only day I could have visited, and with my luck with Mondays, it was closed. So, our extra time in Portland gave me the perfect opportunity to visit the restaurant for lunch today. The View Point Inn is an absolutely adorable building that sits on a beautiful property overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. I fell in love with the place! The main room that you walk into is a large and inviting open space, with couches and a warm fireplace at the center of it. The main dining area is in the covered "patio" of the building, with large glass windows all around it, allowing you to take in the amazing view (hence, why it was named The View Point Inn)--the yard, fountain, and garden just outside, and the river in the distance. As we were waiting to be seated, the staff encouraged us to walk around and explore the building, including the rooms upstairs. We went up there to find the four rooms that the Inn has--all of them were cute and cozy and decorated a different way. For lunch, I had a soup, salad and sandwich trio--a chicken and celery soup, pulled pork sandwich, and green salad, and it was all delicious. It made me happy to know that not only was this place charming and had a wonderful view, but that it also served good food--what a great combination! I loved it there so much, that if I ever get married (ha!), I would seriously consider it as a location.

After filling up with the yummy food and walking around the grounds to take some pictures, we drove back towards the city center to visit the Oregon Zoo. The last time I was at this zoo, Haley and I spent most of our time behind the scenes meeting the sun bear, polar bear, tigers, jaguar, sea lions and otters, but didn't spend much time walking around and looking at the front-of-house exhibits. The zoo was great--lots of good interpretive signs (I especially liked the "Notes from the Keepers" signs, letting us know any cool new things happening with the animals) with new and pretty exhibits. It was nice to see that none of the enclosures looked old or run-down, everything was kept up very well. My favorite loop was "The Great Northwest", which focused on animals, habitats, and conservations issues that were in their own backyard. I think it's important for residents of an area to learn more about the habitats around them, and it's very interesting for outside visitors to get to know it better also.

Finishing up walking around the zoo made us ready for a beer, so we went to McMenamins Kennedy School. The McMenamins chain is genius, often converting historic structures into unique and fun locations for their inns and pubs. Kennedy School was a grade school built in 1915 that has now been turned into an inn, restaurant, movie theater, and several bars. It was neat walking around the school building, and it was a place that had a nice relaxed atmosphere to have dinner and a couple of beers at.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 15

Hoh Rainforest, WA to Clackamas, OR
(with visits to Ruby Beach, the Quinault visitor center, and Kalama High School--all were in WA)
Miles driven today= 272
Total miles driven= 2164

Survived the night with the leaky tent! At least it was only along the edges and didn't completely flood our beds. The rain lightened up, although it did not stop, when we woke up in morning. Being damp and wet can get a bit uncomfortable after a while, so Alicia and I were looking forward to getting dry and cleaning up at a hotel. We couldn't do anything else but pack up the tent in the rain, and would have to find an opportunity to dry everything out later on.

Our drive down to the Portland area included a few stops along the way. First was a visit to Ruby Beach, just off of Highway 101. Much like the other beaches we've visited during the trip, it was another beach that had this amazing untouched beauty to it, with the waves crashing and logs piled up on shore.

Then we drove over to the Quinault visitor center, which was in the Quinault Rainforest right by Lake Quinault. This was originally where we wanted to camp our last night in the park, but the rain made us change our plans. We wanted to drive by and see it at least, since we weren't going to be able to spend time there. The lake was gorgeous, and I'm a little saddened that we had to skip this part of the trip. I am glad that we were able to spend two nights at another lake, and one night in another rainforest, so I don't think we missed out on too much.

Further down the Five, closer to the Oregon border is a little town called Kalama. I wanted to visit the High School in this little town, because it was one of the locations they used for movie-Twilight's Forks High School. The town is adorable, and it was really neat because the school sat at the top of this hill in town--a very very cool location for a school. We parked in the parking lot real quick so I could hop out and snap some photos. Remember the parking lot scene in the teaser trailer, where Bella almost gets hit by the van? I was in that lot. Pathetic, I know, but yes I was very excited!

...We got into town, (staying at a hotel in Clackamas, right outside of Portland), had dinner and some beers, and then chilled the rest of the night!...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 14

Lake Crescent, WA to Hoh Rainforest, WA
(with visits to Rialto Beach, La Push, First & Second Beaches, and Forks)
Miles driven today= 106
Total miles driven= 1892

Today was the big day, folks--my visits to real-Twilight locations La Push, First Beach, and of course, Forks! We packed up early in the morning, because there were quite a few things we wanted to see before heading into the Hoh Rainforest and setting up camp there. First stop was Rialto Beach, just north of La Push. With the forest as a backdrop, it is a long stretch of beach with a ton of large beach logs on it. These enormous logs add a unique beauty to the beach, and it's refreshing to see something that is so very different from the beaches that I'm used to...

Next up, drove through La Push real quick then parked along the road to hike down hill to Second Beach, which was supposed to be very pretty. (I think it may have been the beach that the Forks kids hiked over to from First Beach to go tidepooling.) Second Beach was indeed very beautiful--another expansive beach with a lot of logs strewn along it. We had to climb over a large pile of them to reach the sandy part of the beach, and lucky for us, the tide was pretty low, so we looked around for a bit...

After hiking up from Second Beach, we went back to La Push and visited the real First Beach. Again, this was a tad different from the First Beach I had imagined--it actually stretched a lot longer and didn't have a backdrop of trees that I saw in my head. Kind of funny, but Indian Beach, the movie-Twilight's First Beach, looked a little more like what I imagined--which makes me so excited about the movie. Indian Beach was smaller and a more intimate cove, with a a forest as its backdrop, although there were only a few logs on it. First Beach is pretty expansive, with tons of beach logs and no forest, but rather the town and a resort jutting up to its edge. It was great to see the real place though, and after being there, I could definitely see Bella and Jacob walking down the beach, or maybe sitting on this log...

After leaving La Push, we of course headed to the small town of Forks, Washington. The whole time we were driving the approximately 13 miles over to Forks, I kept imagining Bella heading down the same road to visit Jacob--it was neat to be there. The first thing we came across as we drove down Highway 101 was the big sign, "The City of Forks Welcomes You." I had imagined that the sign would be a little bit more accessible--not on a tiny hill right along the side of a busy highway. We drove by it quickly, but planned to backtrack later on and try to figure out how to get a picture of it. Highway 101 turns into Forks Ave as we drove through the main part of town, with its one stoplight.

My plan was to visit the Chamber of Commerce and try to get a little bit more information about the Twilight sights that I wanted to visit. Although Forks is a small town, I had no clue where in town the places would be located. The lady at the office was very enthusiastic about Twilight visitors in Forks, and explained everything that was in the welcome packet for us. It was a very cool Twilight packet, which included a map of Forks with all the locations mentioned in the book, information about the Quileute tribe, trivia from the first three books, a bit of sand from First Beach, and recommended places to visit on the Olympic Peninsula. It seems like Twilight is the first big thing that has hit this small town of a little over 3,000 in a long time, so they have embraced the fans that come by. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that they get about 150 Twilight visitors each day, which I think is pretty impressive.

So, off we went to mosey around and find the different highlights in town--Thriftway (where Bella does her grocery shopping to cook for her and Charlie), the Community Hospital, the police station (which is inside City Hall), Forks High School, and a cute blue house that could have been where Bella & Charlie lived. It is only one of the few 2-story craftsmen-style homes in Forks, which would have been much like Bella and Charlie's house. The family that lives there allowed their home to be visited as a Twilight site, and there is a cute sign out front that has designated it as "The Swan Home." The family was out front when we drove by, and they were very sweet--the couple actually walked out to the street and chatted with us for a bit. Last stop was the Forks sign. There was actually a little turnoff on the side of the highway, so we parked there and ran over to the sign. I climbed up the little hill, and took my picture with it...

It started to drizzle as we left Forks, which I thought was very appropriate. We were in Bella's rainy home afterall! The Hoh Rainforest was our next and final destination for the day. We got there and set up our tent before any real rain could hit, ate a quick lunch, then went to the visitor center and hiked a couple of trails in the forest. It was beautiful, of course. The area was pretty similar to our hikes up near Lake Crescent, except everything was covered in a lot more moss. Appropriately-named, one of the trails we walked down was called the "Hall of Mosses."

After having a day full of activities, we decided that it was time to chill and nap back at the campground. We rested for an hour or two, then had to cook dinner in the drizzle. A ranger stopped by to tell us that they were still going to do their campfire program, but indoors at the visitor center rather than the outdoor amphitheater. I asked her if she knew whether the rain was going to let up at all. She said it wasn't, that it was a big storm and they were expecting about two inches of rain. Two inches! Well, we were in the rainforest, afterall, and what does it do there but rain. At this point, the drizzle still wasn't that bad, but because of it, we were calling it an early night and retreated back to the tent with magazines, books, and journals. Up until this point, my tent and rain fly were holding up pretty well. But as it got later into the evening, it started to rain harder...And harder....And it kept raining and raining and raining. Hard. I ended up noticing that there was a tiny drip coming from the top of the tent, so we headed out into the wetness to put an additional tarp over the rain fly. This solved the drip problem, but later on, I noticed that rain was seeping in through the corners of my tent. Apparently, my beloved little Kelty just can't handle that much rain. As we were sitting there listening to the hard drops of water hitting the tarp and ground, and wondering if the tent would hold up through the night, Alicia and I decided that instead of camping our next (and last) night in the Quinault Rainforest like originally planned, we would just drive to Portland tomorrow. So it goes when you're in the wettest part of the US. You can get rained out, even in August...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 13

Olympic National Park, WA:
Hiked to Marymere & Sol Duc Falls and hung out at Lake Crescent

Miles driven today= 45
Total miles driven= 1786

Yes, I'm a tree hugger--I heart them so much that I had to hug one! It has been so wonderful being surrounded by these beautiful and magnificent trees. Look at how big this one is, and it definitely wasn't the biggest one we saw...

Our Lake Crescent campsite was so awesome that we wanted to stay another night, which also meant we would be able to spend the day checking out a couple of sites nearby. Drove about halfway down the length of the lake to the Storm Ranger Station, which had some trails that started there. We hiked the one that led us through old-growth forests, and ultimately to Marymere Falls...

Then we drove over to the trail that led us to Sol Duc River and Sol Duc Falls (the 7th waterfall I've visited this trip!) Sol Duc River is pretty long and also runs right outside of Forks--it is the river that the Cullen house is right by and the one that Edward's room overlooks. Although we're at another end of the river, can you imagine it?...

We spent the rest of the evening chilling back at our campsite. Alicia plopped her chair down by the lake's edge and wrote in her journal. My camera battery was being stupid and said it was low on battery, although I had just fully charged it a couple of nights ago. Luckily, the people at the nearby general store were nice enough to let me use one of their outlets. While sitting at the picnic bench and waiting for the battery to charge, I chatted with one of the workers there--a nice fellow from the midwest who was just working on the Peninsula for the summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 12

Robin's Woods, WA to Lake Crescent, WA
(with visits to Hurricane Ridge and Port Angeles)
Miles driven today= 122
Total miles driven= 1741

Warning: I may use the words beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, incredible, etc one too many times in my blog entries during this road trip. I apologize, but these places are just that--beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, incredible, etc. So please bear with me, as I lack better descriptive words for what I'm seeing and experiencing.

Our first day going into Olympic National Park! A visit to Hurricane Ridge was not on our original itinerary, but we had decided that we would be flexible and play everything by ear for the trip. Most of the campsites don't take reservations, so we were not exactly sure what we were doing or where we were staying each night. Things would have to be decided on as they come up day by day. So, we ended up making Hurricane Ridge our first stop after leaving Robin's Woods--it's a beautiful seventeen mile drive up the mountain from Port Angeles. Once you reach the visitor center at the top, there is an amazing, expansive view--a pretty meadow, a forest further out, and snow lingering on the mountains in the distance. Of course, pictures cannot do this scenery justice, but you get the idea...

Next stop was my first real-Twilight destination, Port Angeles. The two other places I've visited so far were movie-Twilight locations, which was still very cool, but it's also nice to be able to see the real places that the books were set in. It was a little smaller and a tad different from what I had imagined, but that's the way things like that go. It's my imagination, after all, so things will never match up exactly to what my brain has conjured up. Port Angeles is a cute and small town that sits along the water. We walked down the pier, then down the main drag of the town. It seems that we were there on the wrong day--practically the whole place was quiet and shut down (note to self, don't visit Port Angeles on Sundays.) Only a few places were open, including a bookstore, Port Book & News, which of course we roamed through for a while. Alicia bought a "Oregon & Washington Wildlife" ID book, so she could identify all the animals that she will see on the trip. I took some pictures around town, including the front of Bella Italia, the restaurant where Edward and Bella had their "first date". It's a good thing that Alicia was one of the first people I convinced to read Twilight and that she is also a fan (although not an obsessed one like me.) If she wasn't, I don't think she would be able to handle much of my Twilighting adventures, because there are quite a few more places that I want to visit! Here's a shot of Port Angeles from the lookout on the pier...

After walking around town for a bit, we went grocery shopping for our camping stay in the park. We tried to do it quickly, because dark clouds with lightning were forming in the distance, and we wanted to get to our campsite and set up before any rain hit. The drive west along Highway 101 towards Lake Crescent (and ultimately, Forks) was beautiful. We wanted to try to stay at Fairholm Campground, on the east end of Lake Crescent, but weren't sure if there would be space. The drive along the lake was amazing-the windy road followed the southern shore right at the water's edge. It turns out that most people head home on Sunday, so there was plenty of room at Fairholm. We picked a site on a tiny hill, with views of the lake between the trees. The whole campground was shaded by amazing (yes, it's that word again!) large moss-covered trees, which provided us with much protection from wind and rain. It sprinkled on us a bit, but nothing to complain about. The picture that I posted at the top of this entry is of the lake at sunset--the cloudy sky lit up to a soft pink, which reflected in the calm water of the lake. Ahh, what a peaceful setting...That evening, we made our own little fire, popped open a couple of beers and hung out...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 11

Robin's Woods, WA to Seattle, WA & back to Robin's Woods, WA
Miles driven today= 116
Total miles driven= 1619

I know it sounds a little silly, but I was a bit nervous about driving my car onto the ferry to get to Seattle. Taking the ferry? No problem. Taking the ferry with my car? For some reason, I was a bit hesitant about it. I even considered taking the long way and just driving down and around into the city to pick Alicia up at the airport. But then I realized I was being silly, plus Jennifer gave me detailed instructions on how to get to the Bainbridge Island-Seattle ferry, and how to get onto and off of the ferry, so it wouldn't have been a big deal. And you know what? It wasn't. It was actually such an easy process, and a pretty fun experience too. So glad I did it instead of wasting my time driving the long way around! Once the car was parked, I got out and walked the upper deck of the ferry for a while. Took in the beautiful scenery as we left the early-morning stillness of Bainbridge Island and headed towards the Seattle skyline. Standing there with the wind blowing reminded me of McDreamy, hehe.

After picking Alicia up at the airport, we stopped in Seattle for a couple of hours before heading over the Olympic Peninsula again. We walked around Pike Place market, which was so incredibly crowded! The last time I was there was winter/springtime a couple of years back, and it was pretty quiet compared to the madness that we trekked through. It was still fun wandering all the booths and checking out what kind of crafty things were for sale (I bought a necklace.) We grabbed lunch, then got back in the car to get onto the ferry.

Trying to get on the ferry on a warm Saturday in Seattle is quite an experience! We waited in line and inched along for over an hour before we were able to get onto one. We got back to Robin's Woods in the afternoon, and after showing Alicia around the house, we each plopped ourselves into our own hammock and spent a couple of hours there.

Being the true zoology nerd that she is, one of the things that Alicia is most excited about this trip is being able to see wildlife. Reptiles, birds, mammals, you name it, she wants to see it all. Leave it to her to find a lizard in the backyard during her first couple of hours at the house. She picked it up and hung out with it for a while. I just happened to be playing with the Nikon D200 at the time, so check out some of the pictures that I shot over at Jennifer's blog, Robin's Woods.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 10

Robin's Woods, WA
Miles driven today= 0
Total miles driven= 1503

Princess Cupcake's 8th birthday party celebration was today. We packed up the car and went over to the home of a friend of Jennifer's, where the birthday bbq was taking place. While the food was cooking and the decorations were being put up, I spent most of the late morning and early afternoon laying in the hammock and re-reading Breaking Dawn (I liked it the first time, but am loving it so much better this second time around. It's a brilliant book!)

We had a delicious bbq lunch (All home-made by Jennifer, of course. Boy, am I being spoiled with food here!)--chicken, fried potatoes, macaroni salad, beans, and watermelon. Princess Cupcake opened her presents, which included a lot of books (she loves to read), and a brand spankin' new pink bike.

It was another warm day, in the 80s, and all the Washington folk were very sweaty and uncomfortable. It was funny--since they are from Washington and not used to the unusually warm weather, they were not enjoying it at all. Being from Southern California, I sometimes have to endure temperatures that surpass the 100 degree mark, so the weather wasn't that bad to me. It's all a matter of perspective and what you're use to, I guess. They were talking about how the weather is perfect when it's in the 50s and 60s, which made me want to cringe, since anything below the 60s and 70s is a bit cool for me, haha.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 9

Robin's Woods, WA
Miles driven today= 0
Total miles driven= 1503

On the itinerary this morning was to hike down to the beach during low tide. Had my home-made toast and honey breakfast again, we packed up some sandwiches for our lunch at the beach, then made our trek down hill. It was nice seeing more of the property and being outside on another beautiful and sunny day. Along the path, we came across two deer (my first deer sighting!) and some bear scat (hmm, made me a little nervous.)

The long stretch of beach was covered in algae and eel grass, which squished under our feet as we walked across it. I explored the beach a bit--there were anemones buried in the sand, sand dollars here and there, quite a few moon snail egg cases, and lots and lots of clam shells. One of the things I was very excited about doing was digging for clams, since I had never done it before. Jennifer said that if we found any, she would cook them up for us to eat. So, Princess Cupcake and I went around looking for good areas to dig up to look for our clams. Apparently, the easiest way to find them is to watch for water squirting up from the sand, which is what the clams usually do when the tide is coming in. The tide was coming in when we were down there, but they weren't squirting, so we had to go hunt for the little holes in the sand where we thought they might be. After digging and digging different areas, we finally struck gold! We went around to several different areas, and finally found a little over a dozen clams. Later that evening, Jennifer floured and fried up our two big clams, and steamed the smaller guys for Princess Cupcake and I to have as our appetizers before dinner. It was neat being able to eat clams that I personally dug up. Yay, my first clamming experience!

After hiking back up from the beach, we walked down to the mailbox and looked at a cute little log cabin that is also on their property. The rest of the day, I spent playing with my camera, reading, and relaxing in the hammock.

It was just another day hanging out in Robin's Woods!

Road Trip '08: Update

Yes, I'm alive! I'm currently on the Olympic Peninsula (looking for my sexy vampire =P), and of course it's beautiful here too. I got up here on Tuesday, and will be on the peninsula through next Wednesday, when I head back to Portland for Haley & Dan's wedding. Alicia flies up this weekend, and we'll be camping in Olympic National Park for several days--we'll be checking out different areas like Lake Crescent and the Hoh and Quinault rainforests, plus do our little Twilight touring in Port Angeles and Forks. The complete update of each day will have to come later, since I don't have internet connected to my laptop to be able to upload pictures and stuff. Hope you all are doing well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 8

Robin's Woods, WA (just hanging out!)
& a visit to Port Townsend, WA
Miles driven today= 0
Total miles driven= 1503

Ah, how nice, no driving today (for me at least!) The driving hasn't been bad at all, I've actually been enjoying it more than I thought I would. It's rather peaceful having nothing but my thoughts and the long stretch of road ahead of me. A bit like meditating--just driving and being, going somewhere but not quite in a hurry to get there. But, even though the driving has been going well, it's still nice not having to deal with it for a few days.

This morning, I woke up and ate some toast (from the loaf of bread I had made the night before, very exciting), then we drove up to visit Port Townsend, which is on the northeastern tip of the peninsula. It is a cute town along the water, with neat old buildings and pretty Victorian homes. We had lunch at a little cafe and walked along their downtown area, looking at the buildings and in some of the shops. Then we headed over to the beach at Fort Warden. It was surprisingly warm out, and the water at the beach was an amazing aqua blue-green color. It was such a beautiful day--I couldn't believe that I was actually sitting on a beach in Northern Washington! Doesn't it always rain here? Okay, so it's August--if it doesn't always rain, then isn't it usually cool and cloudy at least? Who knew it got this nice up here!?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 7

Gresham, OR to Robin's Woods, WA (on the Olympic Peninsula)
Miles driven today= 202
Total miles driven= 1503

Left Oregon today and headed north to Washington's Olympic Peninsula to visit old friends, Jennifer Robin and her grand daughter, Princess Cupcake. Jennifer lives in a beautiful 3-story log cabin on 42 acres of land known as Robin's Woods.

I was very much looking forward to this part of the trip--to seeing their property, getting some photography tips, and just relaxing with the great views and all the trees around me. Plus, I was very excited about finally going up to the Peninsula, home to Bella and Edward and my other beloved Twilight characters! Driving to the house was a perfect start to my experience--the tree-lined path that leads to their cabin from the main road looked much like what I imagined the drive to the Cullen house would have looked like. If I had only looked at the right moment, I may have caught one of them running by, hehe.

It was a low-key day. I got a tour of the house and the backyard (gorgeous views!), watched the chipmunks hanging out at the chipmunk hotel for a while, received a "basics" photography lesson (so I could start playing with the Nikon D200 that my dad let me borrow), and learned how to make home-made bread. Jennifer cooked a yummy pasta alfredo dinner, which we ate with our homemade garlic cheese rolls. Mmm, it was so good to eat home cooking again after almost a week of eating out. She always cooked the best meals, and I will definitely enjoy eating like this for the next few days!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 6

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area & Portland, OR
Miles driven today: 76
Total miles driven: 1301
# of times I got lost today: 3

Started my day early in the morning, to explore the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, driving along the Historic Columbia River Highway (US 30). The highway has some stunning scenic points that overlook the river, but the best part is that it passes along a number of easily accessible waterfalls. I couldn't believe how easy it was to get to them, some just steps from the road, and others a very short walk away. People often have to hike miles to see a waterfall, and here these are, just right off the highway. I'm also amazed that there were so many waterfalls in such a close area. It was awesome, I visited five waterfalls today: Latourell Falls, Shepperd's Dell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls (my second favorite of the five), Wahkeena Falls, and the most beautiful & most popular (and my favorite), Multnomah Falls. It drops 620 ft, and is the second highest continuously running waterfall in the country. It was truly stunning. (Multnomah Falls also happens to be another site that the Twilight movie filmed at, hehe.)

After spending the first half of my day on the scenic drive, I spent the second half at Powell's City of Books & in the Pearl District of Portland. Getting there was quite a frustrating adventure--oh those bridges and one-way streets can be so confusing!

Powell's is a monster of a bookstore. One can get lost in the huge place, roaming aisle after aisle and room after room, which suited my book-loving self just fine. I'm trying to cut back on my book-buying problem (need to save money! must read the unread books on my shelf! just got a library card last month!), so I was only looking to buy a few books that I wanted, rather than picking up anything and everything that looked interesting. Got two good deals today: found a paperback version of our current book club read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry for $8, and a copy of The Mists of Avalon (which I've been wanting but not wanting to pay $14 for) for $6....After Powell's, I had a very late lunch at a vietnamese restaurant called Silk. It was very tasty!

Off to Washington's Olympic Peninsula tomorrow, so excited!

Don't forget to check out my pictures! Link is to your right.

Road Trip Pictures

I've created a collection on my flickr page for my road trip pictures, with each day separated into its own set. The link is on the right under the "Blogs & Webpages" category. Check them out, and check back for updates! So far, Day 5 is my favorite set of pictures!

(If you can't find the link over there, here it is Road Trip 2008 Pictures

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 5

Newport, OR to Gresham, OR (outside of Portland)
(with stops in: Tillamook, Cannon Beach, and at Ecola State Park)
Miles driven today: 215
Total miles driven: 1225
# of times I got lost today: 1

Things I learned today:
-It takes five quarts of whole milk to make 1 pound of cheese
-It takes ten quarts of whole milk to make 1 pound of butter
-India is not the only place you find cows on the road

So, I was playing things by ear, and decided on the plans for my drive today at the last minute. I was trying to choose between two options--go on a whale watching trip on the boat that Mesha works on, then take a straight shot to Portland -OR- leave early in the morning and drive up the coast, visiting a couple of places I wanted to see, then cutting over on a highway further up. Although the boat trip would have been fun, I decided on option two because I get to go on boat trips pretty frequently at home, while I don't get to visit the Oregon Coast very often. Plus, I really really wanted to see Ecola State Park...

The drive up was gorgeous..stretches of untouched beaches, cute small towns, expansive farmlands, tree-lined roads, green hills...Nothing much but beautiful scenery from Newport to Tillamook, except for when I came upon a cow on the road. He was trotting along, smack in the middle of the road, and I found myself having a flashback of being in India. It was quite amusing. Since he was in my way, I couldn't do anything but follow him for a while, then he finally moved over a bit and I was able to sneak past him. Interesting. Wonder who's cow it was, and if the farmer ever found him...

In Tillamook, I stopped at two places: the Blue Heron French Cheese Company (which had a cute petting zoo out front, and a cheese and souvenir store inside), and at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Walked through their self-guided tour (the factory itself is only in production Monday-Friday, so I didn't get to watch the production line), sampled some cheese (love the sharp cheddar), ate breakfast at their cafe, bought some cheese curds, then went on my way.

Next stop was Cannon Beach, where Haystack Rock looms right off the beach (it is the third largest sea stack in the world.) It was a pretty impressive rock. I walked the beach and took some pictures, then headed out for my next stop.

Ah, Ecola State Park. The HIGHLIGHT of my day. I am so very glad I made the decision to check the park out--the 4 hour drive up the coast and $3.00 park entrance fee was worth the visit. Now, I must confess my reason for wanting to visit in the first place. Since you all know that I'm an obsessed Twilight fan, I'm sure it wouldn't surprise you to hear that it was because they filmed part of the movie here. It wasn't just any scene though, it was the First Beach scene, and I just had to see it. Indian Beach was the sight they used as "First Beach" for the movie, and since I'll be visiting the real First Beach, I wanted to compare the two. The drive into the park from the highway was amazing, but it didn't compare to the drive from the ranger station to the Indian Beach parking lot. I can't even describe how heartbreakingly and breathtakingly beautiful it was--the tiny road snaked its way through the forest, surrounded and shaded by beautiful moss-covered trees. Pictures don't do it justice, you just have to be there, to experience it for yourself. Indian Beach was cute. I walked down the beach, and since it was low tide, checked out the rocky intertidal area at the end of the beach. Saw crabs and snails and sea start, but I didn't poke around too much. I then found a log to rest on, and relaxed for a while, just taking in the scenery (and imagining Bella & Jacob hanging out on the beach, haha.) Ate some bread and squeaky cheese, wrote in my journal, and just enjoyed being there on my log.

Come on, just picture them sitting on that log, chatting and bickering.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 4

Newport, OR (just hanging out in the area!)
Miles driven today=4 (Mesha drove most of the day)
Total miles driven= 1010

The last time I visited Mesha back in 2006, we crammed quite a bit into my couple of days on the Oregon Coast. We spent most of the time driving up and down the coast, seeing all the sights (other towns, lighthouses, scenic lookouts, etc), but spent little time in Newport itself. So today was my chance to just enjoy Newport at a relaxing pace!

We started our Saturday morning at the local farmers market...

Grabbed a cup of coffee and then stood in line to get some treats from the "bread lady"...

Walked around the farmers market, then... Went back to the bayfront for a bit..

Checked out Nye Beach & had lunch there...

Explored the Sylvia Beach Hotel (A hotel for book lovers, and is the neatest place ever! Each room is a different theme based on an author)...

My favorite was the "JRR Tolkien Room"...

Went to Yaquina Head...

Where the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is...

And at the end of the day, enjoyed a beautiful sunset...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 3

Ashland, OR to Newport, OR
Miles driven today= 268 + 7 miles around town
Total miles driven= 1006

The route from Ashland to Newport was a lot prettier than my first two days of driving, making the trip much more interesting and enjoyable. I had another 5-hr drive, and arrived in Newport in the early afternoon. Since Mesha was still at work, she left a guest pass for me to explore the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Since my last visit in 2006, the Aquarium has added a new exhibit gallery, "Oddwater", featuring the odd and unusual creatures that live under the sea. The way they displayed the specimens was very unique and neat--in a tank amongst pretty glass art. After touring the front-of-house exhibits, Mesha took me to see their Education classroom & some behind-the-scenes areas, including the top of the HUGE tank where they use to keep Keiko.

For dinner, we went down to the historic bayfront, and ate at a Local Ocean Seafoods, a restaurant and fish market that specializes in serving sustainable seafood. It's pretty cool, all the seafood that they serve has a background: you can get information on where it was caught, by what means, and by who. The food was delicious! We each had a cup of the crab soup, then shared crab cakes and grilled fish & chips. Mmmm.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 2

Rocklin, CA to Ashland, OR
Miles driven today= 298 + 11 miles around town
Total miles driven= 731
# times I got lost today= 3 (hoping this doesn't happen anymore!)

This is a photo of Ashland Creek in Lithia Park

Today, I'm giving thanks for several things:
1. Yahoo maps. Not sure how I would've gotten to some places without its directions.
2. REAL-in-your-hands maps from AAA. For the moments when Yahoo maps failed me. Which happened a couple of times today.
3. Cute road workers. For the moments when Yahoo maps & regular maps fail because road construction is occurring. I would still be driving in circles right now, if it weren't for the guy that helped me out. I actually had to hail him from the road (the one I wanted to be on), and he off-roaded a bit & drove over to the side road I was on (the one I didn't want to be on but didn't know how to get off of) and nicely pointed me in the right direction.
4. That I enjoy country music. Because that's pretty much all you'll find out here in the middle of nowhere, and I don't mind one bit.

So, my drive to Ashland took a bit longer than expected due to my little "getting lost" detours, but I arrived with a good portion of my day left to explore the area. Checked into my hotel and took a quick break, then drove into the main part of town. Had a yummy late lunch at a sandwich shop, Big Town Hero. Ashland is a very cute place, with a quaint and easily-accessible park. Ashland Creek runs through Lithia Park, and I took a walk along it for a while. After exploring the park, I went home to rest a little bit more, before heading to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I saw their free Green Show, featuring the Indian music of Bindaas. Right before leaving for my trip, I was able to get a last minute ticket for one of OSF's plays, a wild-west adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors". The show was in their outdoor Elizabethan Theatre, and it was great. Although the ticket was a little pricey, I am so very glad I went.

Visiting Mesha on the Oregon Coast tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 1

Long Beach, CA to Rocklin, CA (outside of Sacramento)
Miles driven today= 422
Total miles driven= 422

Okay, I know I just left this morning, but thought I might as well take advantage of the internet access while I can. Day 1 of driving is done! I left at 6:15 this morning, and after listening to a lot of country music, drinking a cup of coffee, and taking one pee and gas break, I've arrived safely at my first destination. It took me six hours to get up here, and I'm now chilling here at Jake's place, enjoying the air conditioning and avoiding the HOT outside. Checked out the school Jake teaches at and his classroom, took a tour of the house that he is in the process of buying, and am about to pop open a strawberry blonde and RELAX.

Heading to Oregon tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Road Trippin'

It’s vacation time! I’m heading out of town tomorrow, on my first long road trip--spending two and a half weeks in the Pacific Northwest. There are many things on my itinerary, including visiting friends (Jake, Mesha, and Wendy), visiting Twilight locations like Forks, La Push, and Port Angeles (and yes, I will be looking for Edward while I’m there =P), camping in Olympic National Park, and going to Haley’s wedding. I'm hoping that I'll have time to blog some during my trip, and will let you know how it's going!

Breaking Dawn

The Breaking Dawn pre-midnight release party I threw at my place was tons of fun. Over twenty of my Twilighter friends attended, and we spent the evening hanging out, snacking, drinking, and playing fun Twilight games. I had a “Kisses” guessing game, Twilight trivia, and a raffle (which was rigged for me to win—my great friends caught me by surprise and totally embarrassed me! Thank you guys!) Kellyn made an amazing Twilight board game, and Raelene made cute “worry doll” Twilight Character game pieces for us to play with. After the party, most of us headed over to our local bookstore to await the midnight release of the book. We participated in a trivia raffle game, then sat around until we had to line up outside. The bookstore gave away four prizes that night, and three of them went to our group! Staci won a Breaking Dawn t-shirt, Anitza won the Twilight movie poster, and Kristen won a signed copy of the book. It was great! I had a wonderful night, and am glad everyone else did too!

(Photo courtesy of Anitza!)
So here we all are, shortly after getting our books. We are all adult women (many of us are married women!), being nerds and indulging in the fun of a teenage vampire love story =D

If you want to see more photos from the party, check out the rest of Anitza's Pictures (especially if you want to see Raelene's "worry dolls". My favorite is Jacob.) I'll post my pics up on my flickr soon.

I finished the book early Sunday morning, and thought it was wonderful (with one exception, but that is easily forgivable). To avoid giving spoilers, I won’t go into too much detail about my opinion on the book, but I will say this--I don’t think it deserves all the disappointment and gripe that it is getting from fans. I don’t think they are fully appreciating it the way they should. After calming down and letting go of their prior expectations for Breaking Dawn, I hope these fans will revisit the novel and give it a second chance.