I've yet to tell the tales of Ireland, London, and Paris - but since we just returned from Portland (almost 3 weeks ago) and I just posted up some photos I thought I'd tackle that first.
Portland, in short, was as weird as was expected. It was laid back, progressive, fun, wet, green (shocker coming from a white February Minneapolis), and overall an amazing adventure. Cady and I went into the trip with a very well put together itinerary (which we lost along the way) that was chock full of opportunities to explore.
The couple flew into the cool rainy night (I'm going third person here) that was Portland, OR. They landed, and per the itinerary, hailed a Lyft to the Kennedy School aka McMenamins. McMenamins is a vintage school converted into a hotel/bar/restaurant/brewery/etc/etc. Keaton recalled the 90's memories from elementary school with the old urinals, dated tile bathrooms, gymnasium woodwork - it was a total throwback with an adult's dream menu of hipster beers and vegan burgers - sorry, no chicken patties on a hamburger bun.
The couple then ventured to the tiny house (of course they stayed in a tiny house). The house was parked in the owner's back yard which posed for an awkward first entrance through a stranger's yard. "This is how people get shot," Keaton whispered, following the side-yard mud trail. The house had a 3/4 fridge-freezer, couch, full kitchen and 3/4 bath and a full sized bed. Definitely live-able. Unsure how two humans plus two full-sized dogs would do in such close quarters but that lifestyle is about spending more time outdoors anyways.
Public transit - $5 per person to ride all the rails and buses for 24 hours. This was primarily how the pair got about town. Day two started on the rail towards Voodoo Doughnuts and WOW Keaton can't even wait until the next sentence to describe the Chocolat-ey, Sugary, Cereal-ey creations. Hands down, best doughnuts they've had. The couple even met folks from Minneapolis who happened to be boxing up some doughnuts for the flight home.
About town they found the "Keep Portland Weird" sign, Powell's - the world's largest bookstore, the Peculiarium (a store with a tour of oddities - maybe like a circus freak-show?), MIll's End Park - the world's smallest park - about two feet in diameter, and last but not least Casa Diablo - the vegan strip club. Portland is home to the most strip clubs per capita in the US. Casa Diablo, fittingly for Portland, is a vegan food serving strip club. The couple stopped for lunch which consisted of tacos, quesadillas, chips, salsa, and beers. The food was mind-blowing, especially considering they were in the lunch crowd at a strip club.
Day three was equally jam-packed. Keaton rented a Car2Go and the two headed westward towards the pacific. Keywords: Car2GO, Pine Trees, Forest, Coffee House, Walking on Cannon Beach, Cool Ocean Wind, Testing offroad capabilities of Car2Go, Nature Photo Ops, and that was just the morning. Next on the agenda was Multnomah Falls (it was a big day for the little Car2Go). What a beautiful sight, and refreshing feel. The hiking trail and bridge at the falls were closed, but standing at the foot and feeling the power from a distance was more than worth the trip. The remaining daylight was spent on a hike up Mt. Tabor - a beautiful view from the top of Portland.
Day four welcomed Cady's friend Amy from Seattle. The group had no real plans which resulted in hiking muddy tennis shoes and boots miles through Forest Park, the Japanese Gardens, and the Rose Garden (which smelled great but was pretty bare and apparently out of season or something). There is a pattern here: Forests, Hiking, Nature, Fun - every day was loaded with these things and its fairly apparent the people of Portland are here for those reasons.
There is so much more to tell: the breweries, the dive bar with hilarious vending machine prizes, the way the Willamette river carves through downtown, the logging roads, the free spirited people, the list could go on and on but here's where the post starts and ends.
The trip to Portland was inspired by the beauty of the northwest, the show Portlandia, and was given wings via a flight voucher gimmick Olympus had when I purchased a camera. There were absolutely no regrets and Portland was every bit as wonderful as we hoped.
More to come...
Let me tell you about Europe. Cady and I set off in November for Iceland en route to London, Ireland, and Paris. One of those "while you're young" bucket list trips. We had a long flight over with no sleep and hit the ground "in the morning" in Iceland. We picked up a SADcar - literally as "economy" as a car rental can get - this thing was a hooptie. There was confusion where to pick it up, how to buy the gas, and how much we were paying since $100 usd is approximately $11,400 Icelandic Krona. Everything seemed massively expensive, but in reality it was cheap (exception being the food).
We drove the rinky little stick-shift bomber to the blue lagoon. The wind was intense, almost blowing us off the road, and it was raining. Visibility was about 15 feet and we had little idea where we were going but after a couple brief side-tracks we were there. I thought it would be miserable due to the weather, but the entrance to the lagoon is indoors and once we got outside it was quite refreshing. We did some mud and algae masks, had drinks, took some photos/videos and set sail for the Air B&B.
We checked into our guest house in Reykjavík which was set up somewhat like a tiny house. We toured downtown, tried some customary dishes including dried fish, mashed fish, fried fish (seeing a pattern here?) and shark which is a delicacy. A few beers took the edge off the first long day of travel and we caught some needed rest for the ever important day 2.
The following day was spent touring the "golden circle." SADcar was on the road well before sunrise and we were well on the way to our first stop by the time we could see any land. The whole country seemed to be covered in sulfurous lakes, geysers, mountains, glaciers, lava rock, volcanoes, and some knobby vegetation. Very wild, very beautiful. This is probably the most captivating place I have visited. I don't think we passed one spot that wasn't photo-worthy. Stopping about ten times we saw a volcanic crater, a geyser park, a hidden lagoon, a massive waterfall, and several other natural wonders.
One of the highlights was a trip down a dirt road that led us to a herd of Icelandic sheep crossing the road. During the stop for some photos we also caught a small group of cattle crossing the same point. I could absolutely plan a trip just to go back and wander the countryside. The free-roaming sheep, cattle, horses, buildings - just about anything would make an amazing photograph when framed by the snow-capped mountains and wild terrain.
I don't think there is any question we'll return to this place, hell I'd consider living there. Convenient location for a connecting flight, friendly locals, BEAUTIFUL sights, and the entire country operates almost completely on renewable energy which includes a sweet rotten egg shower - you can't just get that anywhere. If you're thinking of going and/or have any questions about the trip send me a message!
London, Ireland, and Paris yet to come, among other things. Stay tuned, Cheers!
It has been hectic to say the least. I preface the following with my understanding that there is enough time in life to do the things that you care about - the things that you make a priority. I have envisioned making a post or update a couple times a week, but with the Europe trip backlog, NOLA trip, catching up at work, classes, going to the gym, this has not made it to the top of the list.
This is the first week back from New Orleans. The trip was super-fun. (Mike let us know what he thought about the U.S. using super- for everything.) I wasn't sure what to expect from this trip since the group (less me) did a lot of brainstorming but no real solid planning. Cady and I had a layover in Atlanta, and arrived in NOLA Wednesday evening. We quickly caught up with the Coloradans (Colorado-ites?) and the bloke from London over some whiskey and wine. We hit the streets - visiting the french quarter, bourbon street, the banks of the Mississippi. The one thing I will say about New Orleans is that it is saturated with art and culture. We met artist Welmon Sharlhorne on a street corner - he told us about his art in the Smithsonian (google it) snapped some pictures with us and kindly hustled a couple dollars as artists do. We also met sketch artist "Chester".
It was pitch black after midnight, Cady and I had peeled off from the group in search of some much needed rest. A massive man cut the street diagonally towards us carrying a large sack and a book. He had his hand outstretched and said something along the lines of "Don't be afraid, I'm a black man." I shook his hand, he let us know that he was looking to sketch us quickly and we, always looking for adventure, were happy to sit down and get to know Chester. He was breathing heavily under some dim porch lights and appeared to be drunk. He told us about himself, his sketching style, his family, and New Orleans. He had ripped a page out of a cover-less book and begun sketching prevalent eyebrows and afros. We picked his brain on life, art, and race relations (he had after-all thought it was appropriate to let us know he was black). I would say one of the coolest moments of the trip was when we departed. We paid and thanked him for the sketch, and before leaving he let us know how important family was to him. Among other things he emphasized taking care of any future children, and the importance of life - coming from an artist working the streets of New Orleans. He could have told us anything, or nothing, but what he said really opened my eyes to another perspective that I've not experienced.
We visited an art fair in the streets, and bought poems from typewriting hustlers in the french quarter. The oysters were fresh and the beignets were hot! (Cafe Du Monde was as raved about). This whole drunken street party continued a few more days until we couldn't handle any more and we took flight for home. This was a great getaway to blow off steam, and now Cady and I are looking forward to Portland, OR in a week and a half. Stay tuned, it's gonna get weird.
Wow. This is incredible. I have to start out by saying thanks. Thanks to my endlessly talented girlfriend Cady. Thanks for not only putting up with my shenanigans on a daily basis, but helping encourage and inspire me in ways I can't explain. This year I have been photographing the things around me, learning, and exploring in ways I haven't before. This website is her creation, a gift to me, my new electronic medium to share with others. This is something I would have never done alone. I would have built spreadsheets, run calculations, determined the probability of failure...and given up. I'm grateful that I mean enough to her that she built this and gave me the push I needed to begin navigating this free-fall that is sharing my experiences with others. Also, thank you. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for still being here, reading. I hope the things that I capture can inspire others and draw emotions the way they do for me. More to come....Happy New Year, all!
I wanted you to have a way to share your photos with the world and be able to write about whatever it is you are capturing through your lens. Keep adventuring and keep documenting all of the amazing things you see along the way. Er lerve yer.