Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Portland! day one, gettin' there is half the fun

Aack! Things have been so busy, and I have neglected so many of our previous travels, but here's the beginning of one of my favorites. Late in 2008 we trekked to Portland, Oregon. A place we hope to visit again on the west coast leg of the Big Trip.

On our first visit to Portland we met with lots of swell people, some for the first time in person. Certainly, for this trip, gettin' there was half the fun. We took our time meandering up the California coast sticking mostly to highway 101, and our official starting point was San Luis Obispo. After spending the night with family we struck out northbound driving the long coastal valley past some of the richest agricultural land anywhere. The vineyards turned to vegetables and near Salinas, to endless rows of those giant edible thistles, artichokes. Naturally, we had to have a jump with the world's largest artichoke in Castroville. We were some distance from the acres of garlic near Gilroy but the onions still managed to perfume our path.
After a failed experiment with baking tiny cakes in orange peels on the car engine (they just didn't bake through... gotta stick to things that can be steamed over an hour or two or maybe tiny oranges) we had a quick road side lunch at In-N-Out (and NOT Margie's where the burgers were $10 and the service nonexistent). Then it was on to Santa Cruz to visit with St. Blaize and Neville, some of our favorite people. We had tea and a snack of fresh little tomatoes. This was our second visit to Santa Cruz and we feel at home there. It's near the top of our list of possible places to live for the next phase of our lives.St. Blaize and Neville took us on a tour of the neighborhood and community garden. Sigh... I hope we are not so broke after our trip that we can't search for a good place to land (are there any available near you Blaize?).

After our brief visit it was time to head further north. The fog rolled in and gave us a taste of the wet we'd be in for most of the trip.

We arrived in Burlingame by sundown, just it time to visit the Pez Museum before the proprietor closed up shop for the night. The variety is overwhelming, and includes vintage Pez vending machines featuring an illustrated Pez lady with lusty eyes and full lips. She seemed to suggest much more than freash breath, "Doppel PEZ fur 2 PEZ-BOX fullungen!" Our eyes glazed over all the candy colored kitsch and we realized we were starving. The proprietor had an excellent suggestion where to find a hot dinner in the neighborhood. Just around the corner they were serving up hot bowls of Vietnamese Pho. Our fondness for this dish is a subject I think I have well covered in previous posts. Maybe it was our hungry state or maybe it was the dreary cold weather, either way, that soup still sticks in the noggin as one of the best bowls we've had.

Back on the road we lost our way among the confusing one-way streets of San Francisco. Getting lost in the center of San Francisco at night in the middle of a street protest with nowhere to park and read the map, is not unlike Alice falling down the rabbit hole. With some dead reckoning and persistence we found our way across the Golden Gate. After a short stop on the north side of the bridge for some long exposure photos and humorous view of the cats and raccoons that hung around all buddy buddy, we picked a plain little motel in Petaluma for a night's rest. We passed out early knowing we had many miles of coast redwood forest to look forward to in the morning.


  1. Well, the Santa Cruz area is pretty danged expensive. But, boy, would it be great to have you around here!

  2. Go down the road from the artichoke and you would be close to where I live. Salinas!



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