A Travellerspoint blog

May 2014

USA - San Francisco, California

semi-overcast 25 °C

What an amazing city!! We felt as though we'd been transported into Europe or South America. The majority of the city was destroyed by an earthquake and resulting fire in 1906. But you wouldn't know looking at the city today. The city is defined by pockets of bohemian neighbourhoods, downtown business district, Chinatown, little Italy, sunny hilltops, trams (or 'cable cars' as they're called here), Colonial buildings mixed together on a peninsula being lapped at the the Pacific Ocean. We wore our feet out on a full day walking tour (from our guidebook) exploring the city - and I think it's the best way to see San Francisco!

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On our second day we took our bikes in and rode along the foreshore lined with piers. The Ferry Building is a busy upscale market place, fun to walk through and we picked up a coffee from the popular Bluebottle cafe (well worth the line). Seafood Chowder was a must-do tourist stop at Pier 39, served in gigantic cob loaves! With our stomachs full we were ready to visit the infamous Alcatraz Island. A 15 minute ferry ride took us onto the island where we began our audio tours (All visits out to Alcatraz include ferry and audio tour, and tickets must be purchased a few days to a week in advance).

"The Rock" as it's known, began its days as a lighthouse, but is more widely known as it housed a high level security prison from 1933-1963. The audio tour was really interesting and a little spine-chilling with accounts from inmates and prison guards. Back on the mainland we rode further around the coast and across the Golden Gate Bridge - one of two gigantic bridges leading into San Fran, before watching the sun set over the city. That's when we realised we were 15kms away from home without any bike lights...

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged san francisco alcatraz Comments (0)

USA - Silicon Valley, California

sunny 24 °C

Just south of San Francisco is an area known as Silicon valley due to the large number of computing enterprises in the area. Paul couldn't wait to see some of the large corporations- within about a 20km radius lie the Apple, Google, Facebook and Intel headquarters. We drove past the large offices, Google was the most interesting to see with rows of Google branded bikes lining the curb.

The Computer History Museum gave us a good insight into the evolution of technology and the computer, and we ended the trip seeing a self-driving Google car! Stanford University is also in this area, and we spent a few hours wandering through it's beautiful palm tree-lined campus. We have friends living in Redwood City who kindly invited us to stay, we had fun catching up and hanging out with their cat Brutus!

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged valley silicon Comments (2)

USA - Napa Valley, California

sunny 30 °C

Time for some Vino! Just an hour north of San Francisco Napa is nestled into a dry inland valley, perfect wine growing county. It was a fun day trip to visit some of the extravagant wineries in the area, but beautiful weather coupled with the weekend made it a busy day! The Napa Valley floor stretches for 50 kms with hundreds of wineries dotted along. Limos and convertibles flew by and tastings were $25 and up. The tasting rooms ranged from farmhouse style, to Spanishesque open plazas. We found a nice market for lunch - located in Napa town itself called ..... it was bustling and full of deli lunch options, perfect to pair with some tasty wine.

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged napa Comments (0)

USA - Redwoods, California

semi-overcast 20 °C

The Redwoods are amazing trees. They grow up to 100m tall, can live 1-2 thousand years and are the tallest trees on earth. Some of these trees were alive dating back to 500 AD and have seen the face of the earth change. Unfortunately 98% of the Redwood trees were logged by settlers, with three pockets still preserved on the northwestern Californian coast which we visited. These areas are Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwood National State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

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There are lots of hikes through the forest, we enjoyed visiting some of the groves where clusters of the largest trees lie untouched. Another nice surprise were the elk roaming through the meadows between the forests. The drive down the 'Avenue of the Giants' was pretty spectacular, the old highway weaves its way around the gigantic trees for 50 kms. We stopped and camped along this avenue, and it was such an experience to sleep in amongst the majestic trees, we felt like miniature people, as though we'd stumbled into the land of the giants!

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged redwoods Comments (2)

USA - Crater Lake, Oregon

sunny 8 °C

It was hard to leave the rugged and beautiful Oregon coast, however after a few hours drive inland we arrived at Crater Lake, and wow what a sight! The crater is situated at 2,000 meters of altitude, and was created when a large volcanic eruption caused the mountain to collapsed in on itself. Slowly, over thousands of years the crater filled with rainwater and melting snow which created the lake.

The water is extremely pure as there are no rivers leading in or out of the lake, which gives the lake a beautiful deep blue colour. Even in May, the last month of Spring here, there are several meters of snow lining the edge road, as the high altitude causes a cool climate. We camped at Union Creek Campground, just outside the Crater Lake National Park and met a great American couple from Michigan who we toasted marshmallows (or ‘mallows’) with over a roaring fire, before spending another cosy night in our van.

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged snow lake crater Comments (0)

USA - Oregon Coast!

semi-overcast 21 °C

We had planned to spend one day driving down the Oregon coast. Google maps told us it would take about 3 hours. How wrong we were... It is one of the most spectacular coastlines we’ve ever seen and we couldn’t possibly rush it!

Our first stop was Haystack Rock, a large rock protruding out of the ocean at Canon Beach, with a green mossy top covered with birds. Along this part of the coast there are many rocks eroded away from the shoreline jutting out, wide sandy beaches and lush pine tree covered banks makes it spectacular scenery all the way along. Fish and chips for dinner – yum yum!

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We camped in our van and second time around it was a lot more comfortable, and a little less cold helped too! We made our way south, checking out the views in lots of places along the way. On advice from the Tourist Info Centre we visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory – a great spot to view a cheese factory and sample some tasty cheeses for free! We couldn't leave empty handed and once we’d decided if we were getting the pepper jack, garlic or smoked pepper cheese we kept moving to the Blue Herron. This was a sweet barn-style store just so happened to be hosting their ladies night when we stopped by. We enjoyed some wine and (more) cheese tasting, along with some cute farm animals roaming about the property. Cape Lookout National Park was a super spot to camp in that evening, right on the edge of a very beautiful, wide beach with great campground facilities.

Our final day along the coast brought us through whale watching at Depot Bay, along with fish filleting on the peer, done by some very skilled fishmongers. More breathtaking views along the coast, and some rocky walks before setting up camp in Jessie Honeyman National Park just south of Florence, located on the edge of a vast 60km stretch of coastal sand dunes!

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The Oregon coast has been amazing, and the Oregon State Parks have been great for camping, well equipped and economical, especially if you enjoy waking up surrounded by nature.

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:23 Archived in USA Comments (0)

USA - Portland, Oregon

sunny 30 °C

Portland is our new favourite city! It's known as Seattle’s little brother and is much smaller in size with a population of 600k. However Portland is a city in its own right and we would happily move there tomorrow!

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It is full of microbreweries and outside of the downtown core there are many little cafes and breweries scattered throughout the city’s suburbs to pop into. It is also extremely bike friendly and flat, which we enjoyed as we spent our time biking around the green leafy streets and glorious days of sunshine during our stay. Portland is also known as the city of bridges or “Bridgetown” because there are so many bridges crossing into downtown, eight in a row in fact! We cycled over a few of them, giving us good views over the city and Mount Hood, whose white snow-covered peak towers over Portland from 150kms away.

Portland was holding a NBA playoff match, which we were lucky enough to score tickets to! Portland Trail Blazers vs Sacramento Spurs – It was such an event, there were lots of freebies pre-game, including a free T-shirt for everyone, and the stadium was packed, with no empty seat to be seen! The atmosphere was charged, all the fans were cheering hard for the Portland players.

We stayed at a place booked through Airbnb, which was perfect - there are so many Airbnb options in Portland it’s a great way to stay. We also had super hosts, another young couple who have done their fare share of travelling and their house was full of artwork and other trinkets they’d collected along the way.

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:22 Archived in USA Tagged portland Comments (0)

USA - Olympic National Park, Washington

overcast 10 °C

We darted up into Olympic National Park, with just one night to check it out. Wow it's amazing. Towering snow capped mountains and pine tree covered slopes. This is the National Park where the Twilight series was filmed, Lucy was in awe. We stayed in 'Heart o The Hills' campground on Hurricaine Ridge, a beautiful campground, surrounded by old growth forest trees and greenery.

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After sorting out our gear and rigging up some curtains, we spent our first night camping in our van (Franklin)! Our first night was a little rough I won't lie, it was freezing, and it didn't help Paul was hogging the only sleeping bag we have!! But waking up surrounded by nature was worth it. We were all set to do a hike the next morning and jump back on the road, when we realised we had a flat battery. Luckily a very friendly camper by the name of Charles came to the rescue with his truck. We missed out on a hike but still drove up Hurricane ridge to check out the spectacular views.

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged park national olympic Comments (2)

USA - Seattle, Washington

overcast 15 °C

Seattle is a super city, only a few hours from Vancouver but it has such a different vibe. There's music in the streets, more of a multicultural feel, the first original Starbucks store and Pike Street Market! The waterfront market is a must for all tourists, and sells all your could need from fresh food to trinkets and our favorite were the old posters and maps dating back to the 1900's. We also spent a very rainy afternoon in the Experience Music Project (EMP) a Museum dedicated to Seattle musicians and current students, with an area for 'jamming' in soundproof rooms. Pretty impressive and worth the visit if you have a spare few hours.

We are very thankful to our fabulous hosts Kasey and Jon, who we met travelling in Colombia a good 18 months earlier. They live in a funky little house in the Green Lake area, and gave us so many great tips about the city and helped us plan a lot of our road trip!

We took the opportunity to ride around to explore the bike friendly city (phew, it was worth packing the bikes), and on our second night we went to the Major League Baseball to see the Settle Mariners play Kansas City in a game. There are some great stadiums in Seattle, and it was pretty fun to be inside one! We also couldn't resist sampling a cafe latte from Vivace's in the Capitol Hill district...mmmm.

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 23:19 Archived in USA Tagged seattle Comments (0)

The Start Of Our Next Adventure - USA

rain 16 °C

It's been a great 14 months, we've seen all 4 seasons and we're still not sure which is our favorite. We'll miss the mountains overlooking the city and the Stanley Park seawall, the great Couch Surfing scene and of course all our super friends.

After a busy few weeks we managed to pack our belongings into our Van (along with our bikes) and bid farewell to all our "Vancouverite" friends, ready for our road trip into the USA! In true Vancouver style it was pouring with rain as we drove out of the city and over the border...

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 23:10 Archived in Canada Tagged vancouver Comments (0)

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