Life has slowed down tremendously after my November/December roadtrip of 2015. I am currently working for a start up company focusing in wearable tech. It being a start up, and a small business, I am one of two people working for the company right now and it’s going really well. I feel like I am running my own business, because the work is 24/7 and ever evolving. Taking phone calls from China at 2am? Doing it. Coming in on the weekends to finalize shipping and update the website? Got that too. It’s a very strange sensation, being back in a position where I have to be my own boss and carry a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Not that I haven’t had large responsibilities in my past jobs. I’m meaning that it’s the first time where my paycheck isn’t guaranteed, and I have to put in 200% in order to keep us going until the next week.
However, I realize that I only posted for one day on my trip, and then left everything to Twitter/Instagram. So all the context and stories are lost along the way. I’m going to work backwards to try and fit in as much as possible.
This is only a little bit of the extensive tiling at the Iowa State Capital in Des Moines. State capital buildings are hit and miss, but this and Harrisburg have always been said to be the prettiest, most elaborate ones. I wasn’t sure about going in here, but upon arrival I was totally blown away by the arcitecture and history. I also got to meet the Secretary of State in his office! The Midwest has always been an area where I encounter such warm and friendly people. And those working there were quick to jump in and tell me about this and that in the building. I also got to go in some cool old vaults used as storage for state records.
One of my favorite shots from the trip. I took this when pulling out of the visitors center for the Redwood National Forest in Northern California. After spending the night in Eureka, I drove through and spent a second day wandering the forests. Everything had a cool mist about it and the fog gave off this strange, eerie vibe. It was also the off season, so I caught myself being the only person on the road for long stretches of time. It’s so quiet and peaceful.
This is from when I woke up to see the sunrise at the Point Montara Lighthouse. I was looking for hostels to stay at along my trip and this one caught my eye immediately. Ever since backpacking through Europe, I have always jumped at the chance to stay in hostels. You get to meet so many people from different parts of the world and there is always such a warm, community like vibe to the places. Each hostel also has it’s own personality. This hostel has its room in the old buildings surrounding the lighthouse, and it’s far back from the road and the city life of San Francisco just 15 minutes up the road. My bunkmate was from Germany and she was taking a vacation in California for three weeks. Again, meeting new people from all over the world!
The hostel has access to it’s own small pathways and it’s own private beach. I also wasn’t the only person to wake up super early in the morning to catch the sunrise. I met a couple my age who were checking out the site as well, all of us being blown away by how gorgeous it all was. The girl, I forget her name, took this picture of me.
After Thanksgiving in Bozeman, I drove with my Aunt Deb and Uncle Art through to SE Montana and the Powder River wilderness. Along the way we passed through Little Bighorn, famed for Custer’s Last Stand. It’s still a highly controversial and tense area, which I dare not to delve into, but it was interesting to see it none the less. We made it just in time to see this picturesque sunset over the Black Hills.
More gorgeousness from Northern California Redwoods. I got lost at one point driving on a gravel road because a sign said “boat access”. This lead me to assume that I could reach the ocean or a river at some point and see the trees right up against the water. I didn’t find it and it took me a good hour to wander my way out of the complicated trails. Without phone access or a useful map, it was left to fate if I’d make it back to the main road. Thankfully I did, and I got to see some great scenery along the way.
This was the CURVIEST, WINDIEST road I have ever driven on in my life. This is riiiiight before California turns into Oregon. And surprisingly, it was still part of the 101. I drove right next to death defying cliffs and wound my way around mountains and nearly 90 degree turns. It was a perfect blue sky day, but by the end of it I felt as if I was going to be sick.
After the Monmouth Falls outside of Portland, you traverse through these tunnels cut into mountains along the way. This is right at the edge of the Cascades and before you enter the Columbia River Gorge.
The Point Montara Lighthouse itself. Unfortunately there is no special room to sleep in in here. However, the lighthouse is still functioning and you could see it blinking throughout the day and night.
After you cross the Golden Gate Bridge out of San Francisco, I insist that you take the first right exit and wind your way up the mountain to these vistas. They are touristy, but again, I was traveling in the off season. So it wasn’t as crowded and I got to see a lot of this without bumping into hordes of selfie sticks and buses loading people on and off. This is looking out towards Alcatraz Island.
More Redwoods! These are the ones directly out of San Francisco. Although filmed further north, these are the woods I most associated with the Forest Moon of Endor in the Star Wars franchise. My inner nerd was released as I wandered through this green paradise.
Out on my Uncle Art’s ranch there is a half a house that a bachelor once lived in. The story goes that he built a half of a house for himself and once he got married he would build the other half. Unfortunately it looks like this bachelor never found his love, so it remained this way until he died.
This is looking out at the Powder River ranch. The skies were so blue and the clouds were fluffy. So even though it was bitter cold outside, the sunshine gave way to some warmth. We had a scary encounter this day. I was helping my Uncle Art spot sharpies, a type of sharp tailed bird. There was a overgrown area where we saw a bunch popping out of, so he headed out to bag a few with his dog Maggie while I sat in the truck. At one point Maggie ran into the brush and got caught in a snare around her neck. We acted quickly, because if she panicked the snare would tighten around her neck even more and she would lose her breathing. While trying to cut the snare, my Uncle Art and I could hear something else in the brush, though we couldn’t see it. It scared Maggie, which made her run away and get caught in the snare. We couldn’t tell if it was a wolf or a bear, but we got her loose and got the hell out of there as fast as we could.
The cutest little cow in the snow. This is again out by the Powder River. A lot of the people and families out here make their living by ranching. They have done so for generations and generations.
This is Casey! We became close friends when we worked together at La Gourmandine Bakery in Pittsburgh and we’ve always kept in touch over the years since moving out of Pennsylvania. While I settled in Los Angeles, she and her boyfriend Jacob made their way to Portland.
Jacob and Casey looking on in amazement at the critters of Paxton Gate. This is the coolest taxidermy shop on Mississippi in Portland. There was every animal you could imagine, and then some. We found some crazy hybrids, like mice dressed in Victorian Garb. I was so enamored by this place that I sprung for a taxidermy bat. It’s probably my favorite souvenir.
This was such a fun long weekend in Portland with these two. We ate so much good food and they gave me a tour around their city they now call home. Portland is a rapidly growing city, becoming more expensive as it becomes a more desirable place to live. However, they both showed me that the city can be lived in on an income less than mine, and still have leftovers for fun and adventure. After the both of them showing me all the great things of Portland, it has been placed high on my places I want to live in list. The cutest VW Bus in on such an iconic route, the CA 1. This winds along the coast of California and takes you through Big Sur. Driving up and down the cliffsides can be dizzying but it’s so worth it and I think everyone should put it on their bucket list. Again, I traversed it during the off season, so the roads were mostly free of tourists and no vista or beach was overcrowded. I also got to see a lot of surfers at some nooks and crannies along the way and the weather was still warm and beautiful.
The private beach at Point Montara Lighthouse. Tell me again why I should pay tons of money to stay at a fancy hotel in the city? I’ll pass. I’ll pay $35 for a bunkbed and this view any day.
Casey overlooking Portland. Again, such a beautiful wonderful city. And at the end of November the weather is still nice and mild. If you look into the distance you can also see Mount Hood! This city brought me such joy, because it’s so culturally diverse and has that big city feel, but it’s enveloped in nature and the outdoors. Everyone seemed healthy and happy and in touch with the environment. Very different from the desert of Los Angeles or the diamond in the rough of Pittsburgh. It’s a perfect balance of east and west.
That’s all the photos and memories I have for now. Over time I will delve more into my travels and possibly go on another venture in the future. I’ll leave it here for now.