Monday, August 25, 2008

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Our next stop was Vancouver, Canada. The drive up was relatively uneventful, passed right through Seattle. Check out my pics here on Flickr.

Vancouver has an awesome backdrop of mountains to the north but the city itself is like Superman's crystal fortress. The city is a densely packed pile of glass skyscrapers. During the day it was kind of ugly, but when dusk came and people started turning on their lights, the city seemed to come alive and glow.

If you're ever in Vancouver, there's a section of Hastings street between Chinatown and Gastown you should avoid. AJ and I walked through that area once while exploring and it was overloaded with the homeless. From a distance it looked crowded and busy, like something was going on or many tourists were gathered. However, when we got closer we realized it was 100% bums. Not begging for change bums; Standing around trying to find another fix bums. Luckily they couldn't be concerned with passersby so we made it through the gauntlet without issue. I'd just stay away from there next time, though. Chris Degnan also recommended we stay away from that area... though after the fact. :)

Speaking of Chris Degnan, we hadn't seen him in about 5 years. It was really good to catch up and although we only were able to have lunch together, (Gorilla Foods - AWESOME) it was like old times, just chatting abotu everything under the sun. 'Deggy' also took us on a quick tour of the Relic office where he works. It's on the 15th floor of one of those glass skyscrapers. Pretty awesome view from there!

On our first day in Vancouver we walked all around downtown and then some totalling about 12 miles. Our feet were pretty beat! The next day we drove to other neighborhoods like West Van and Commercial St. Commercial street was Vancouver's Haight/Ashbury. Lots of hippie wanna-bes and many places for us to eat! We got all kinds of vegan desserts that we took with us for the drive home. The cool thing about Canada is all the hemp you could find in the food and everyday prodects. Hemp is great for protein and omega 3. It also is super strong and makes great bags and clothes.

Overall Vancouver was pretty cool, but we liked Portland better. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Downtown Portland

Next on our trip we stopped in Portland, Oregon. (pictures on Flickr HERE)

We were really pleased with the number of vegan/vegetarian restaurants we could choose from. It had, quite possibly, more than the bay area! We had a hard time choosing where to eat, but decided to try Veganopolis (a vegan buffet); Blossoming Lotus (a branch of the place we found in Kauai, Hawaii); and Voodoo Doughnuts (an alternative doughnut shop that makes vegan doughnuts)!

The downtown area is relatively small and we spent a whole day walking around, eating and snapping pictures. The architecture is quite interesting and there were tons of people walking around.

The evening we arrived in Portland we went looking for the vegan mall we had heard of. It wasn't really a mall per se, but a building where the 4 occupying shops are all vegan focused. (grocery store, clothing store, bakery and a tattoo shop) When we asked if there was a place nearby to eat vegan, the clerk at the grocery store recommended Red & Black, a vegan cafe around the corner. We went there and got perhaps the best tempeh reuben sandwich I've ever had. While we were waiting for the sandwich to be made, there was a short presentation/video shown of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). (<--Wikipedia link) I had never taken an interest in the ELF before, so it was interesting to learn more about them. They are kind of extreme in my mind and I would never take on their methods of getting their message out, but I can see where they are coming from. I think they feel helpless in our country/political landscape and are lashing out in a... less than legal manner. Anyways, it was interesting to learn about the organization by happenstance of waiting for a meal. I think I'll stay away from ELF.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crater Lake National Park - longest coast ever.

The next day of our trip we cut across California and Oregon and stopped at Crater Lake National Park. It's amazing.

A huge mountain just blew it's top about 7,500 years ago and when it settled, formed this gigantic crater. It's nearly impossible to get down to the lake, so it is pristine and unspoiled by humans. The water is the clearest in the world and it's just about the largest and deepest lake in the world. It has no incoming or outgoing water, but the level remains about the same year round from rain and snow melt. Check out my photos on my Flickr site.

On the way there and back the forests had astounding numbers of orange butterflies swarming the road. I tried to capture a movie of it, but they are so small and move so fast that the video doesn't really show how many there were. However, this picture of our car can attest to the amount... and the Prius is one of the most aerodynamic cars made to date. Other cars and semi trucks literally had orange colored grills and hoods. One little guy flew away when we stopped at this rest area - he had been trapped in the grill.

One more interesting thing about Crater Lake - from highway 5, it is pretty much a gradual uphill climb to the lake. Our mileage getting there was a sad, sad 41 mpg. We took the south entrance in and the north entrance out. Our mileage got back up to 53 on the way out, though! It was pretty much full on coasting all the way down - about 85 miles to get back to highway 5. Not the longest pure coast time, but definitely the longest assisted coast.

(I LOVE to see how far we can coast - it's like a little driving game. It started in NY when we were always going hiking in the Adirondacks. The longest was only 3 miles. Then I found a 5 mile coast in Shenandoah National Park. The longest pure coast time is 7 miles down in Arizona near my sister Maria. But Crater Lake takes the cake as the longest assisted coast ever. At about 85 miles, I don't think that can be beat.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Redwood national park

We got back from our week long drive up north on Monday 08/18/08. The first place we went to was Redwood national park. It was pretty amazing. We've been to Big Basin park near home, but the trees in Redwood were insane!

I posted a bunch of pictures from the two hikes we went on. Check them out on my Flickr site. I really liked the sun cutting through the trees in the morning of our second hike. Really inspiring.

Friday, August 08, 2008


It comes once in, what, like a century? Awesome. I thought of Kerri Sox. Her favorite number is 8. It must have been a very lucky/happy day for her.

Happy triple 08!!!

Oh and the Olympics started today! Awesome!