Travel Notes: Portland, San Fran, & the road in between

We are back & finally re-settled back in after our week long trip to Portland & San Francisco! We left from MDW for PDX on Wednesday early afternoon, and were there in time for dinner. We rented a car & ended up with a nice new Jeep Compass with 4-wheel drive (since we would be driving through the mountains) and it even had that new-car-smell.

We stayed in a near suburb of Portland called Happy Valley, and experienced the city. The first night we played some pool at the Belmont Inn before running into some locals and hanging out for a while in a park where politics and government and a hundred other random topics were discussed.

The next day we took the MAX into downtown Portland where we had donuts from Portland’s famous Voodoo Donuts (tons of huge donuts, crazy combinations…), then visited Powell’s Bookstore and wandered around the town. We got to VooDoo Donuts just in time, before about 20 people got in line behind us! They have a giant donut the size of my head! Our donuts (pictured) were an apple fritter with peppers or something in it, a some spicy donut, and the Marshall Mathers. I’ll let you guess which one that was! Powell’s bookstore is massive and almost an awesome maze. They have awesome books on everything – and not only the popular books! I spotted some awesome tour guides to Japan that looked very interesting… 😉

Bright & early Friday morning, we hit the road a little before 7am (so much for 5 or 6!). This is the day I learned that Oregon is the only other state (besides New Jersey) where pumping your own gas is illegal.

Finally, after about 6.5 hours on the road, we finally cleared the mountains and saw 3 great things:
The coast
The sunshine
The State of California! WOOHOO!

We made a stop at the beach to touch the ocean, and pulled off a few times to inspect the gigantic trees, too.


This probably accounted for 1 of the 13 hours it took us to get to San Francisco! The sun had finally started to set about an hour or two before we reached the Golden Gate Bridge and took it over the bay and finally into San Francisco! We reached the hotel at about 8pm that evening. After getting our things tossed in the room, we found out where our friend Ted lived and started working out a way to get there for a visit. While we walked away from the hotel, we started to hear loud music that sounded like a live concert right there downtown. We followed the sound and found a big dance party happening, complete with 80’s outfits and tons of people with boom boxes all tuned to the same frequency & that was the music’s source. It looked like a good time! But onward, we found a cab & headed over to his loft/studio apartment that was super awesome and hung out there for a bit. Then we called it a night… who knew 13 hours of driving could make you so tired!

Saturday arrived and we hopped the street car down California, and got off when we saw a good little breakfast joint away from the downtown space. We had breakfast then decided we would walk to Haight & Ashbury, by way of Alamo Square Park. Alamo Square Park is sided by Steiner Street on one side, where the famous Painted Ladies are – also where the Tanner Family is having a picnic during the intro to Full House! It was about 3 miles from breakfast to H&A area that is full of shops now. Then we walked to a bar & grill to meet up with our friend again for a bit to eat for lunch. While walking away after lunch, we stumbled upon a long alley full of graffiti/street art, so we took that path down & saw some cool stuff and some unusual work as well. (Check out more pictures on my Flickr.)

We walked over to another park – Delores Park – that was packed with people playing with their kids, dogs, or friends, and just enjoying the nice 65 degree weather on that sunny January afternoon. We walked around the steep park for a while then shopped for a little bit of time. We didn’t know what to do after that, but we were thinking about dinner when we realized our old Couch Surfing friend Dan lived in San Francisco, so we called him up and as it turned out, he was only about 10 blocks from us so we headed toward him & he took us out for some great Thai food, and afterward we went to an ice cream shop that made unusual flavors (Mushroom Cap, Salt & Peppa, etc) and you can taste them first, which is great… but I just went with their version of Vanilla and it was really good! We went back to Dan’s place for a while then and talked before heading on the BART (subway) back to the hotel.

Is this post long enough yet? I think so… and so that is all for now – the last 4 days of the trip will come in a day or 2!