Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Epic Return Part 3.

Day 5: Redding - Portland

We woke early and hit the Holiday Inn restaurant, ordered and then waiting for forty five minutes for our meal. It was the wrench in the cogs of our thus far, highly efficient morning. After having our first cup of coffee Lisa made the mistake of reading the creamer cup.

Non-dairy creamer.

"What the hell is this stuff?" she asked. We figured it must be some oil based abomination so we asked for cream or milk which they had lots of in the back.

America, some times I'll never understand you. Is it really that difficult to throw real creamers in the fridge and bring them out to the table when coffee or tea is ordered? JOB SECURITY MAN! No wonder the economy is in a state. As president my first plan for economic recovery would be creamer based.

We got on the road and headed to Portland. By this point we had learned that the kids needed lots of breaks to stretch their legs, to pee and to provide a break from the boredom of the back seat so we made a couple of stops here and there.

We stopped in Eugene for lunch and found some Organic diner. It was pretty typical hippie fare. Healthy but served with a side of underachieving ineptitude. In any case, it filled the gap and gave us a chance to walk around a little bit. Miete and I found hop-scotch chalked on the sidewalk and I showed her how to do it. She has been addicted ever since but doesn't really know the name.

With a few other stops we made Portland in good time. It was around six when we pulled up to the Marriott Courtyard hotel on Oak st. It was quite nice and they put us on the quiet and scenic sixteenth floor and valeted our vehicle in secured parking so I didn't have to pack my board through the hotel.

We got settled in our room and ordered pizza. That is to say, Lisa ordered pizza and I sat there grumpy not being able to make up my mind from being both tired and famished. Eventually I mumbled a half-assed order to her and then ran out to Deschutes brewing to grab some beer.

On my way down I had missed Deschutes as I had no time and really wanted to sample their fare. So when I arrived and found that they have no store front like Rogue does I was greatly disappointed. Only warm six packs if I wanted beer. This would not do.

I headed in the direction I thought Rogue lay but found myself somewhat lost. I wasn't really sure where Rogue was so I decided to head back to the hotel and go beerless. Then I saw Whole Foods. Why buy just one brewery's beer when you can buy several?

They had most of the local breweries represented in some way so I bought three large bottles and headed back to the hotel. When I entered the room I was greeted with the smell of warm pizza. It was really quite good and we all wolfed it down, Miete eating a fair share of hers and spreading a decent amount of sauce on the bed sheets before finishing.

We all crashed out soon after. Miete was having trouble sleeping so Lisa climbed in with her and I took the other bed all to myself. Solid, deep sleep!

Day 6: Portland - Vancouver.

Up respectively early and on the road right away. The valet brought the car around and thankfully my board was still on top and the fins hadn't been busted off by some low ceiling parkade.

We headed to a local coffeeshop, Stumptown Coffee Roasters. We were not disappointed. Yes, it was filled with hipsters but the coffee was great. I ordered three Cappuccinos knowing that the one size they offered would not be quite enough for both Lisa and I so opted to share a third. I also purchased a bunch of pastries and scones. All was decent but the coffee was the best I had south of the border.

Boom. On the road heading north stopping only for a lunch of cold pizza from last night eaten in a park on the east side of Seattle. I still don't like Seattle. It's the uglier version of Vancouver with all the bad weather and none of the cleanliness. Grunge it up Cobain. You can keep it.

We made the border and had to tell Miete to be sure to be quiet as we went through and I was asked questions. She sat silent in the back watching the man in the booth ask me three or four questions.

"Welcome back."

We were through and home.

It was a good feeling crossing the border and a little sad. I knew the adventure was at an end and to me it ended a little too soon in retrospect. Nonetheless, further adventure awaits. I thank you all for following along and sharing this with me. I will be discontinuing this blog and starting a new one and will post its address here when I do.

* end of transmission *

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Epic Return Part 2.

Day 4: Carmel - Santa Cruz - Redding.

As nice and comfy as Carmel was, the open road called and we needed to continue on to our final destination so after a two day stay in our three bedroom bungalow we headed off for Redding.

Along our route lay Santa Cruz. A must stop for any surfer and when we pulled in and I checked ouut 38th Ave I could see why. Endless waves rolled in. They were all in the 2-4 foot range and were aching for a longboard. I happily obliged catching multiple waves in the hour and a half I was on the water.

The crowd was super friendly off the 38th Ave staircase. Congratulations on nice rides were given out and encouragements to go for waves when someone paddled hard for one. After a number of short rides and some waits between sets I decided to paddle for the 35th Ave staircase where the rides looked longer and more consistent.

I had to cross an expanse of unpopulated water to get to the next group of surfers and the distance looked to be a few hundred yards. I have to admit it made me nervous. This was the red triangle after all. An area which accounts for 38% of the world's great white attacks. Being a lone sheep was not the ideal so I paddled hard and even harder when I would feel the bump of kelp against my board or the subtle tug of the same against my leash.

I made it with no problem to the next group and lined up. The crowd here was a little more aggro than the other friendly group at 38th. Everyone was competing for the waves and the short and longboarders alike gave out shit when someone cut them off and had no problem snaking you to get a nice ride.

Even with the crowd and the aggro I managed a couple of nice rides. One wave I lucked out in catching late shot me down the line nice and fast and I ended up in the kelp. The good wave came at the price of being entangled in kelp and have both me and my board washed past the catch point and bonking together as successive waves rolled in. I can see why kelp is dangerous. I climbed on my board and paddle back out as far as I could till the kelp held me back and reefed on it till it broke. I took a couple of waves in the face but finally was free, cleared the weeds off my leash and paddled out.

After sit in the water and catching some great waves I knew it was time to head back in. Lisa and the girls were gracious enough to give me the time in the water while they were down the strip on Santa Cruz beach having lunch and sitting in the sand. I paddled in, packed up and called to tell them I was on my way.

After collecting Lisa and the kids I hit a great Taqueria for a quick and extremely delicious bite before hitting the long hard way to Redding some four hours away. When you hit a Taqueria and there are only Mexicans there, you know it's good. It might be a little dangerous and you may pay for it later but it will taste like heaven going down. I dove into a burrito as I waited for Lisa to pick up some road snacks at Whole Foods.

The Santa Cruz Whole Foods allowed me to see something I never thought I would. In front of the doors was a homeless dude asking for change. Not too out of the ordinary really unless you looked at his backpack and blankets against the brick building. There atop his filthy rags and sweaters was his iPhone plugged in and charging. I don't even have an iPhone.

As Lisa came back with Miete and we were about to load up and take off the homeless guy walked by our car and peed in the large rhododendron behind us. 
Stay classy, Santa Cruz.

We hit the road and frankly, the kids traveled well. We made good time as there was little traffic and we made it into Redding at about 7:30pm. I checked us into the Holiday Inn where there was a nice little pool and we all took a dip to wash off the road filth and then retired. I sat in the bathroom writing the first draft of this while sipping Californian Cab Sauv, maybe a low point maybe a high point.