Hello world and HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!
CUhlDesigns just took a few months off of social media. Where have we been and what have we been up to? ...
Here's a little overview of the last few months:
I went on a road trip and photography adventure. The trip lasted the whole month of September. It spanned 5 states and almost 4000 miles. There was no plan other than aiming for Oregon. Here's where we ended up going.
I car camped through the entire journey with everything I needed to cook, clean, and take care of any emergencies along the way. My dog Kymani was my only companion and he was the perfect one to have. We dispersed camped along BLM land throughout southern Idaho finding challenges on Appendicitis Hill, stumbling upon the Moon's Craters, and into bird sanctuary along the Snake River. We met an interesting couple at CJ Strike Reservoir, and made our way to Caldwell to catch up on uploading photos and answering emails. I got to face time with my brand new niece for the first time before heading over the border to Ontario Oregon
Ontario stuck out for one funny reason. I was low on gas, so I pulled into a gas station and before I could get out of my car a man approached my vehicle and said "How may I help you today?" With a bewildered look on my face I walked through it in my head, and asked "Wait a minute you guys pump my gas for me here?" He quickly and humorously explained that it's Oregon law to have an attendant pump your gas for you. For those of you who have never been to Oregon, there's one common thing that's unique here (and in New Jersey); gas is not self serve, as in, you're not allowed to pump your own gas. It's certainly an adjustment for someone who's not used to it, but I think it's kinda nice apparently some don't.
I kept trekking after that and found a nice camping spot on a pass just outside Juntura Oregon which is the kind of town that "You'd miss if you blinked" as my dad used to say. I must have ran over some type of nail or something because as I got to the top of the hill I noticed my tire getting low and could hear it leaking, I didn't want to be too far away from potential help, so I chanced it and made it all the way to the next town which was Juntura which happened to be about 70 plus miles away from the nearest auto body shop so I ended up having to unload my car, dig out my jack, change the tire and was offered help by three different very kind gentleman that did all the work for me and even set me up with a room for the night at the little multi purpose building that was a truck stop, cafe, motel, gift shop, restaurant, diner, and trailer court all in one.
The next morning I was on my way to Burns to change my tire and track down my friend from Bend. Les Schwab is a tire shop out west and those guys hooked me up! They offer free flat repairs and not only was that the right price but I was in and out super quick, they were super nice to my dog and had coffee and snacks available. I really lucked out with that experience. I got a hold of my friend from Bend the next day when I got there. She had just left that morning. When she was telling me this she happened to mentioned that the friend she had planned to go on her trip with wasn't able to make it so she casually mentioned that she had an extra ticket to the punk rock festival she was headed to in Tacoma. I was ready for some friends in my world, so I plugged it in and it said she was only 5 hours away, so I went for it.
She was camped in Millersylvania campground outside of Olympia and I made it there sometime around midnight. I woke up the next morning feeling like I had found a glorious blend of all of the gorgeous forests I've already known. It was amazing and very reminiscent of the Redwoods. We made our way to our hotel and got ready for the festival. We were lucky with awesome weather for the whole show. It was the NOFX Punk in Drublic beer fest. It was an entertaining display of how the world of punk rock has aged and was a great time.
My friend Sarah had planned her trip as week long tour of the Washington coast. After the show I decided to head along with her and camp out along the coast with her. We went into the heart of Seattle for lunch the next day and got to experience the awe of the Pike Place Marketplace before hopping onto the ferry over to the Olympic Penninsula. Sarah ended up in the Bremmerton line and I ended up in the Bainbridge line. We were both confused but luckily Bremmerton wasn't much further than Bainbridge.
Knowing nothing about Seattle or that area of Washington, I was fascinated by the amount of water, not only was the climate itself wet, but there is SO MUCH water there. Granted I'm from the high desert of the Rockies and the Sierras so I am very used to dry climates. My friends, Northwest Washington is a true rainforest. It's so amazing and so alive and so breathtakingly unique and intimidating in it's own way. I went through Port Gamble and met Sarah at Lake Leland. We stayed there and headed straight into Port Angeles the next day for lunch.
I fell in love with this town. We weren't even there long, but it was my kind of town. Their town slogan is "Where the mountains meet the sea" and as you finish reading it on the way in it opens up and you see a stunning, vast and healthy mountain ridge that runs into a cute little mountain town that doubles as a major port town and the "Gateway to Victoria" before leading into the wide open sea. We ate lunch at the New Day Deli and that place would be a daily routine if I lived in Port Angeles. Eclectic unique options with lots of flavor for a decent price and pleasant staff. Sarah moved on to set up camp, but I had some more computer work to get done so I walked around and on my way back to the car found a place called the New Moon Saloon, They were super friendly, had great beer and had the perfect little nook for me to work in. It was a dated little place with a mini stage set up in the back with a cozy pool table room up front and long time locals bellied up at the bar.
I left to head to the campsite and find Sarah. The campsite was at the far end of Lake Crescent. Highway 101 hugs much of Lake Crescent and when the highway met the lake I got very distracted, It was GORGEOUS. It reminded me a lot of the lake I grew up by in California but it was so serene and untouched the water was bright blue there wasn't a single boat or person anywhere on the lake it was cold but the water was a pleasant temperature. It may have been the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. That campsite was also amazing. The setting was a web of green moss and tree roots. We had a lot of fun trying to make a fire that night.
The next day we went to the next town called Forks stocked up on supplies and headed towards the Hoh Rainforest. I had finally found my National Parks pass, and it was the last month to use it so, I convinced Sarah to go check it out with me. I feel like every time I go to a new National Park, I have that feeling in the back of my mind that there can't be much that I haven't seen, but every time I am purely fascinated. The trail we chose to take was called the "Hall of Mosses." It was exactly that crazy cool massive trees covered in years and years of moss and forest growth. The water was crystal clear. The trail was a quick loop, but I could not stop taking pictures.
Our next stop was Kalaloch Campground. This was just beyond Ruby Beach which is the northernmost cove on the Pacific coast off highway 101. This was such a picturesque place. It was very humbling to experience. Once we got there Sarah started describing to me how that area was known for their intensive tree roots. It was almost sunset once we had set up camp, so we decided to take a stroll along the beach now that we had finally made it to the coastline. As we got down to the firm sand, Sarah started talking about how there was a place somewhere close where a tree was suspended entirely from its roots and you could walk under it. She said she wasn't certain of where it it, but that she wanted to find it. After taking in the ocean and watching the dog run after the birds, we looked back toward the campground and there it was; a huge tree dangling by it's roots. The driftwood on the beach there was mostly washed up giant fir, cedar, and spruce trees some of which were much wider in girth than I was tall. There were some pretty blatant warning signs about it too.
We moved on down the coast and had lunch in Westport thinking it would be a lively and bustling little beach down and instead found that it was a grumpy desolate little fishing town that was quite literally half made up of boats attached to a webbing of docks. It was comprised of salt water taffy, trinkets, and one restaurant selling four items and a fish market also selling four items along with a wall of canned fish. After that odd experience we decided to head straight for another campground and made it in perfect timing for a beautiful sunset.
After this Sarah and I parted ways, but we both discovered that you can legally drive on the beach on the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington which also claims to be the longest continuous coastline in America, I also discovered that Oysterville does not sell you fresh Oysters or have any sort of restaurant that will. After that disappointment, I wound up camping at Cape Disappointment at the southernmost cove of Washington and the end of the Lewis & Clark trail which is also the northern Jetty of the Columbia River Bar. I got myself a proper shower, checked out Waikiki Beach, and ended up crossing a 4 mile long bridge to a cute little town called Astoria.
Just like Port Angeles, I fell in love with this town. When I showed up, there was a beer festival going on, and later I found out that admission is free and tokens were reasonably priced. Bonus; dogs were welcome. I felt right at home here. It was like being at one of Steamboat's free summer concerts but they let me bring my dog and everyone that was being super friendly and chatting like we were old friends were all just strangers instead. The food was good, but I was dead set on a fresh seafood meal since I was right on the coast and the times we had tried in Washington let us down. I wound up talking with this guy who was a local professor and reminded me of my favorite teachers that were passionate old hippies. We clicked and had some great conversation, so he came with me and we went to Buoy Beer to catch the end of their dinner hour.
We ended up getting some delicious plates. I got salmon straight out of the Columbia of the dock down the way and it was exactly what I was looking for. The waitress was PHENOMINAL. I'm fairly picky with my service because I have been in the service and hospitality industries my whole life, and I believe it's not that hard to be nice. This girl was beyond nice. She was knowledgable and personable. Down to earth and empathetic. The food was fantastic, the atmosphere was welcoming, we were escorted in by the manager to ensure we made the deadline to order before the kitchen closed, and the sou chef just so happened to be an old student of the teacher I was with and took care of our entire tab. I was BLOWN AWAY!
At this point I was seriously considering settling in there, but decided to do a couple touristy things and head on my way to the next city. I went to the Columbia Maritime Museum, I watched the sun set from the Astoria Column, and I tried a couple places in town to go out to at night and found a place that had rabbit on their menu. and a tiki dive bar where the locals treated me like a friend and everyone loved my dog.
I was getting restless and knew I needed to keep moving, I was gonna camp at Fort Stevens, but decided to keep going and ended up staying a night in Seaside. The next day I went to go look around and met a very interesting character with some of the most amazing camera gear I had ever seen. We had some interesting conversation, he showed me around Seaside, and I went on my way. Looking at the map and my funds I decided to head inland toward Portland. It was time to make some money again and I knew the city would be a great place to find the opportunity to do just that.
When I got here I found a few places that were dog friendly and then eventually splurged on a hotel in order to take advantage of wifi and a real shower and catch my bearings. I found out that a really old friend of mind was still in Portland and he came through on the friend card and helped me settle in. I now have a place in Portland and am bringing CUhlDesigns to the city. Cheers to you Portland we'll see how this goes...