A Travellerspoint blog

About Portland

overcast 21 °C

Drove through for about 5 hours from Crescent City in northern California to Portland in Oregon on Tuesday. The accommodation was in a place called Jantzen Beach; it was a bit like the Sandgate of Portland. It sits right on the Columbia River which acts as the border between the states of Oregon and Washington in these parts.

The hotel was excellent and provided a complimentary fresh, hot brekky. The parents were drooling almost as much as the kids! The hotel also provided a free shuttle service to the local train station so we all decided to head into Portland for the day on Wednesday.
It was a real eye-opener, I can safely say. It was a pretty grey day – which is fairly normal for Portland apparently – but where we got off the train was not the best. There was a lot of rubbish on the streets and many homeless people in the area. Some of the people were obviously struggling with mental health issues (calling out to nobody in particular, talking to themselves, counting cars) and Angus and Giaan weren’t the only Australians walking through that part of town with eyes like golf balls checking everything out. It was all up quite sad and not a great intro to the city.

We marched on and went into the biggest bookstore any of us had ever seen – Powell’s. This shop is huge and Angus will tell you a bit more about it later. From there we walked to Finegans Toy store. This part of town started to improve and there were heaps of small caravans that acted as food vendors on the sidewalks. Thai, Mexican, Vegetarian…the places smelled great and were not short of customers from the buildings surrounding them. After getting our bearings, we then waltzed into one of the highlights of our day – Tartberry’s Serve Yourself Frozen Yoghurt. What a little oasis of sunshine on a grey day! The owners were reeking of positive energy and happiness while the yoghurt was fabulous! Again, Angus will write more about that.

They have a free streetcar system to get people around downtown more easily and we hopped on the train to the aerial tram that is basically a cable car that goes up from the river to the city’s major hospital. An interesting experience and certainly the first hospital I’ve ever visited for the views!

The city has a very big public park called Washington Park filled with walking and bike trails. It also houses the local zoo, some Japanese gardens and a spectacular rose garden area. Headed back to our hotel for the evening and prepared for the journey to Seattle.

Our digs in Seattle are actually further away than we thought – in a place called Bellevue. It’s almost a satellite city of Seattle. Unfortunately, Giaan’s ankle is still pretty painful and Robbo gave his back a bit of a tweak this morning (a once-a-year occurrence…nice timing). So, Lesley and Angus have traipsed into Seattle with another Queensland couple we met over brekky (Angus was giving instructions on how to use the waffle-maker – something he has become very good at with his hotel breakfasts).

Giaan and I have occupied ourselves with blogging, “rehab” sessions in the hotel’s pool and spa and laundry and ironing duties (support crew for our intrepid travellers). Tomorrow, we drop the hire car in to downtown Seattle and head to the port to board our cruise to Alaska.
Not sure how the internet will fare (might be very expensive) on the ship. Robbo is devastated as he has been desperately trying to keep up-to-date with the Rugby World Cup highlights. As well, it makes it hard to keep in touch. So, if we are out of contact for a few days, we’ll write in a week or so from Canada with, hopefully, tales of more adventures and some good photos to share.

Have a great school holiday and we send our best to everyone.

Posted by The Robbos 18:16 Archived in USA Tagged portland Comments (3)

The Redwood Forests

Hiking Time

semi-overcast 25 °C

Left the Redwood Forests yesterday. Crescent City is abpleasant little place only abfew miles from the Oregon border. Went into the Jedediah Smith National Park to drop Lesley off for a 10 km hike. The drive in was quite beautifulut also very eeire. The huge trees (some almost 100m tall!) are very close to the road, sometimes almost on the road! You could almost see some dinosaur popping his head out to say "G'day". While Lesley went off intonthe forest, the kids and I wandered about the beach. We've had a couple of big driving days, so it was good for the kids to run like Labradors on the sand.
Decided to do a big drive to Portland, Oregon. This will give us a couple of days to see the city, and then leave a shortish drive to Seattle prior to the cruise to Alaska.

Posted by The Robbos 21:57 Archived in USA Tagged redwoods Comments (2)

The Angus Report - San Francisco

semi-overcast 25 °C

Sorry, I’ve been a bit slow on the blog but we’ve been extremely busy.
On our first day in San Francisco, Mum and I went on a guided walking tour of the city with our tour guide, Henry. We walked down the crookedest street in North America, Lombard Street. We also walked up and down some of the steepest streets in the country. We broke off from the tour early due to time issues and walked back to our hostel to meet Dad and Giaan. We had walked for 4 hours and at this point we had a bit of a dilemma – Giaan’s ankle was sore but Mum and all of us wanted to walk the Golden Gate Bridge. In the end, Mum and I decided to walk it. From our hostel, it was a 5 mile walk to the bridge (how many kms is that?). On the way there, we saw a professional dog walker who was walking7 dogs at the same time. He almost was tripped up many times.

Once we got to the bridge, I was quite surprised. The bridge was swaying slightly in the strong wind (Dad’s bus tour guide said the bridge is actually designed to sway up to 28 feet – how many metres??) There were bikes whizzing past. It took us 45 minutes to walk to the other side. The views were fabulous. From where we were standing, Mum got a great shot of me with my hand up as if I holding up the bridge (check out the photo). On the way back to the southside of the bridge, a low cloud was hanging over the bridge so when we walked,we went straight through the cloud!
The next day, we went to Alcatraz (check out the link), a small island in San Francisco Bay. This was formerly used as a prison for the worst criminals in America. Alcatraz was quite scary in a lot of ways with the way the prisoners lived and the violent lives they led. Outside the prison, it was freezing as the wind whipped up over the Bay. What surprised me the most was the showers. There was a line of 20 shower heads and the prisoners stripped off to wash with no privacy whatsoever.

Overall, I enjoyed LA more than San Francisco but I was glad we had 3 nights there. The souveneirs I bought there were a Golden Gate pin and a San Francisco pin with an Alcatraz shirt.

Hope you’re all well.

Posted by The Robbos 21:01 Archived in USA Tagged san francisco Comments (1)

If you're going to San Francisco ...

don't forget to bring a jumper and buns of steel!

sunny 25 °C

A little bit of catching up to do, I'm afraid...
Succesfully negotiated the joys of peakhour traffic in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon. We stayed at a hostel that was in the most amazing location right on the edge of San Francisco Bay. It reminded the kids of school camp and we set up in a room with 4 bunks. We'd never stayed in a hostel before and it was really enjoyable. There were people there from all over the world who you'djust start chatting to. We met up with a lovely older couple from Derbyshire in England, Dan, a nurse from Alsace-Lorrainne in France, Mia from Japan and others from Spain and Oz. Really nice people and all with their own stories and adventures to talk about. On Wednesday, Lesley and Angus wenr of on a walking tour with one of the hostel's employees (Angus will write about this soon). Giaan and Robbo went off to Fisherman's Wharf and caught a tram all the way through downtown. That afternoon, Angus and Lesley walked across the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Giaan and Robbo grabbed an open-top bus tour acros the bridge and around downtown. Really interesting info as well as a perfect clear day for photos. San Francisco is well-known for fog banks rolling in unexpectedly,so we were all really lucky with spectacular views. By the end of the day, the walkers were exhausted! The next day, we re-traced the steps of the walking tour with Lesleyand Angus. Holy cow! Youmight have seen how people live in the Himalayas; well,some people live like that in San Francisco!! The hills these people live on are ridiculous. I wouldn't be able to get into my car on the slopes these people park on! The fittest bloke in the city would be their postman!

After surviving this, we then boarded the boat for the infamous Alcatraz. By this time, the wind had whipped up and it was cold and pretty bleak - quite fitting for a visit to The Rock. The audio tour was excellent and really takes you through the prison from top to bottom and provides a tremendous atmosphere. Loved it!

Travelled to Fort Bragg on Friday and arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon after more fun with winding Californian roads. Told the lady who runs the place that we were keen to ride the Skunk Train through the local redwood forests.She then informs all of us (kids included) in graphic detail that the train might not be running as there was a scizophrenic killer loose in the forests at this time. She also told us how she had her two guns loaded and ready should this bloke venture her way. Welcome to the town and sweet dreams,children! Thanks! Finally convinced thekids to go to sleep at 10pm and that,should the train be running,we'd be safe. Great train ride. No California Screamin' but an enjoyable,relaxing ride through the forests.

Left Fort Bragg early this morning so we could drive to Crescent City way up in northern California, by way of the famous Redwood forests. These trees are the tallest living things in the world and can be so big, we drove our car through one of them! Going to do a bit of walking tomorrow and then update photos. We head into Oregon on Tuesday.
Hope all is well with our readers.

Posted by The Robbos 20:56 Archived in USA Tagged the san francisco & redwoods Comments (1)

At Santa Cruz

from Angus

sunny 28 °C

Its Angus Again
After leaving Monterey on the way to San Francisco we decided to spend half a day in Santa Cruz, a large town about half way through our drive. When we got there we walked out on a long pier that had restaurants and souvenir shops. About half way down the pier there was a small flight of stairs leading down to a viewing platform. Underneath the platform a pontoon was sitting on the water and it was covered in seals. They were barking and fighting with each other and we were just above it. After that we went for a walk through an amusement park that was closed for the day. Unfortunately it had closed just the day before. If only we had planned our trip one day earlier.

After that we decided to go to a lookout that showed all the way out to the ocean. Around the same lookout there was this long line of massive boulders that led to a cliff face. The hardest thing about climbing them was to judge when the wave was going to smash against the rocks. I did the rocks 3 times. The last thing we did at Santa Cruz is go for a swim in freezing cold water. That beach had the coldest water I had ever experienced. When you stood there it made your legs numb.

At the moment we are in San Francisco. Check in later.
Thanks to everyone for commenting and I hope you're all well.

Posted by The Robbos 08:25 Archived in USA Tagged coast highway pacific Comments (2)

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