Podcasts! Part 2

I need to give these other randos their time to shine!

  1. Another Round: this is an interview/conversational podcast that I will only listen to if I can concentrate fully on it, because it’s just SO enjoyable. What I love is that I only know the guests about 20% of the time, which makes it that much more obvious that the interviewers, Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, are really top notch. They have such vibrant personalities, and they come up with the most random but often amazing interview questions. They have interviews primarily with influential black people, usually writers, activists, artists or media figures. Of course, when I try to explain the podcast I always add “they have also interviewed HILLARY CLINTON!” Even better than their interviews though, are the other podcast segments. Totally random but amazing things like What Had Happened Was (where they recap a childhood experience), Tracy’s Joke Time (literally telling a longform joke) and Y’alls Parents Were Nasty (where they play obscure oldies that have dirty lyrics). The most surprising thing is that Buzzfeed produces this! Buzzfeed actually produces several podcasts which I NEVER see advertised on their app. Poor marketing, but this is a hidden gem. (in a small whisper: I find this superior the much more popular Call Your Girlfriend, but one shouldn’t compare)
    Suggested Episode: #79 Pour One Out For Elmo (with Joy Reid)
  2. The Daily: Whenever I talk to someone else who enjoys listening to podcasts, this seems to be the only podcast that everyone is listening to. I think it is currently the top downloaded on iTunes. NPR has a similar concept with Up First, and the only reason I listen to this one and not the other is because The Daily came out first. The first episode was released on 2/1/2017, and it discussed the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. I think this podcast integrates well with NYT reporting, as they are able to bring on their subject experts to discuss with the host, Michael Barbaro. Michael was once on a late night talk show and I watched the interview and was immediately crushed to find out he was NOTHING like what I envisioned in my mind. Honestly, I have never once seen a picture of a podcast host and thought “yes, that’s what I had in my head!” I am always taken aback. It seems like the original concept of the show was to occasionally do deep dives into things that weren’t front page news, but with the Trump administration, that can’t be the case. There have been a handful of episodes on slower news days that dealt with one-off topics like assisted suicide and incarceration of mentally ill murderers – real sunny stuff. Anyway, the show is excellent, and I actually keep an Excel workbook that tracks the subject of each episode so one day, years from now, I can go “OMG I forgot this happened!” There’s one thing I can’t stand though – they love to add in sound effects like a clock ticking or leave in the sounds of setting up the interview, like Michael dialing a contact, the ring ring as he waits for someone to pick up … I’m like JESUS REALLY? DO WE NEED THIS?
    Suggested Episode: 9/19/17 where they talk to the reporter who broke this story and discuss the Mueller investigation
  1. Still Processing: This is a NYT podcast that doesn’t feel like it’s put out by a news organization at all. I think the premise of the podcast is that they talk about culture and technology, but there’s a heavy lean toward culture. I started listening to this as a recommendation from LaineyGossip, regarding an episode they did on Whitney Houston. After listening, I couldn’t stop playing When You Believe for weeks, which drove Robyn batty. By the end of each episode, I find that they often shape my perspective in a more meaningful way – my views generally align with theirs but they just speak much more thoughtfully about it. It’s also refreshing that they don’t have guests on the show. The hosts, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, live in NYC and the way they talk about the city actually makes me feel like I’m living there with them sometimes! An example of why I love this podcast: on the week of the Bodega uproar when everyone was falling over themselves trying to save their local bodega, Jenna Wortham was the only one who was willing to say “you know what, no one ACTUALLY LOVES their bodega.”
    Suggested Episode: We Grieve Charlottesville
  2. Ear Hustle: This is a podcast created in part by Earlonne Woods, a prisoner at San Quentin, and it gives you an inside look at life in a men’s prison. Each episode takes on a different aspect of life, like roommates (cellies), keeping in touch with people outside of prison, or dealing with life sentences. It is very humanizing, thoughtfully produced, and can occasionally make you laugh or cry. The episodes are relatively short, so they’re easily consumable.
    Suggested Episode: Unwritten
  3. Nancy: I wish there were more Asian or LGBT podcasts out there for me to listen to, but instead it seems like I’ve fallen into a black podcast feedback loop. I sifted through WNYC’s podcasts and came upon this gem – it’s an LGBT podcast hosted by two Asians! So a perfect center piece in my venn diagram of podcast wants. The hosts, Tobin Low and Kathy Tu, are about my age, so the topics and their experiences are more easily relatable to me. I fell in love from the first episode, because they speak to the mother of one of the hosts, and it felt like I was listening to my mom talking.
    Suggested Episode: #1 Hello, Hello
  4. The Bowery Boys: Ok this one is not an easy one to convince people to listen to. Every episode goes through a history lesson on New York, topics like Central Park, the Subway, Times Square. Sometimes topics like The Crash of ’29, NY and the Golden Age of Television, or The Lower East Side: A Culinary History. In the beginning, episodes were only 20-30 minutes long, and now they’re at an hour mark, which I find a little too daunting for newcomers. I generally hate learning history, but I’m fascinated when they link events to the way things are now. For instance, DID YOU KNOW the NYC grid has wider avenues closer to the water, because this was where most commerce occurred back in the 1800s, since at the time, the main mode of transit was ships. Or DID YOU KNOW that the builders of the first NY apartment building purposely and carefully selected their tenants to be interesting and stable, so the idea of living in an apartment would be an appealing idea for the wealthy. The most impressive thing is that it seems the two hosts, Tom Meyers and Greg Young, research separately and come together, and somehow they never overlap or talk over each other when they record. It’s like a well-orchestrated dance of facts!
    Suggested Episode: #135: The High Line
  5. Show Your Work: I am a HUGE fan of celebrity gossip, and in my college and audit years, I would legitimately spend two-three hours a night going through celebrity gossip sites. ONTD, in particular, is a huge time suck. Finally I realized, maybe this isn’t the most productive use of my life … and now I only look at Vulture and LaineyGossip.com. Lainey, or Elaine Lui, is a gossip writer and has been writing since 2004. The reason her site is far superior to anything else is because she’s selective about what she writes about, and she considers the social/cultural significance, pulling back the superficial layers of what’s presented in mainstream media. She will share an insider’s view of Hollywood, and I’ve definitely learned a lot that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. For this podcast, she and her co-host Duana approach gossip from the perspective of work: what’s the hidden strategy/effort behind a bit of news? What’s the potential impact on a celebrity’s career? How are people shaping their image through their actions and words? And always, how does all of that reflect us as a society? It’s really intriguing, activates that gossipy part of your brain while remaining intellectual.
    Suggested Episode: Paparazzi and Morning TV
  6. Katie Couric: This is a weekly interview-style podcast, with a pretty diverse range of guests. I’m sure anyone who watched the Today show knew this decades before I did, but she has a warm, thoughtful interviewing style, and her cohost, Brian Goldsmith, is a great supplement by being very policy-driven. They also have the most effective use of podcast advertising because they always semi-ad lib it and make it fun to listen to. And because of the Katie Couric name, they get pretty big name people onto the show. I was also stunned to find out Katie Couric is SIXTY YEARS OLD.
    Suggested Episode: David Fahrenthold: Investigating Trump
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Podcasts! Part 1

I’ve decided to write a FIVE PART series on the current love of my life, podcasts! I’ve been meaning to write a post, as a way to snapshot this moment in my podcasting experience. My first draft post ended up being super long and a little disorganized, so I’ve decided to break it apart. This first post is going to be about my favorite NPR podcasts. I listen to so many NPR podcasts that I’m going to do those separately, and have separate posts on non-NPR podcasts.

Apple groups podcasts into categories like business, comedy, technology, news & politics, music, health, etc. Spotify decided to mix it up a little and groups podcasts into categories like society & culture, storytellers, news, comedy, science & nature, learn something, etc. Cue discussion of how no podcast can be just one thing, but the Spotify categories are way less clear and distinct, in my opinion. My personal tastes are apparently pretty narrow, because I categorize mine in a binary:

  • Conversational, Entertainment
  • News, Politics, Education

My favorite NPR podcasts:

  1. NPR Politics: this was the podcast that kicked off my interest in politics. Before listening to this podcast, I honestly knew VERY LITTLE about politics or current events. Sometimes I think life might have been easier then. And I certainly got through life without knowing anything about anything. Now I know TOO MUCH! Take me out! I was subscribed from the first episode on November 13th, 2015 which seems so long ago. I sincerely remember a time when I thought, after Hillary gets elected president, are they even going to have that much to talk about?! I do think the team dynamic has changed a bit since it first started, which seems to pinpoint back to when Sam Sanders and Asma Khalid left the podcast. Before then, it felt like conversation flowed more spontaneously, and it seems like Sam Sanders was the one to really bring out everyone’s individual personalities. Somehow they were able to toe the line of maintaining a fair perspective while allowing listeners to hear the reporters’ personalities emerge. I like to listen to this podcast while doing house errands like cleaning, cooking or watering my lawn.
    Suggested Episode: Inside HBO’s Confirmation: When NPR Broke the Anita Hill Story
  2. Planet Money: this was the first NPR podcast I listened to, and is an excellent example of the power of cross promotion. The only reason I listened to any other NPR podcasts is because of advertisements preceding the Planet Money episodes, and at a certain point, I thought, sure, why not! And NOW LOOK AT ME. LOOK AT ALL THE NPR PODCASTS I SUBSCRIBE TO. I once spent a very long time trying to figure out what was the very first episode of Planet Money and have concluded that their numbering system was very wonky and was only corrected after what is called episode 377. One day, I’d like to take the time to listen through their archives – the earliest episode I’ve listened to is #454 which dates back to April 2013. Their archive starts in September 2008 and evidently this podcast was formed to make sense of the collapse of the global economy, starting with Lehman Brothers. I once clicked through every page of their archives and logged every episode title into an Excel worksheet … and I end up with 177 more episodes than their numbering system claims to have made. MYSTERY.
    Suggested Episode: #654 When The Boats Arrive 
  3. Code Switch: one of my FAVESSS. This focuses on race and culture, often looking at things through the eyes of a minority. They are fast to respond to current events, but also have in depth takes on issues that you just might not have been aware of. There are a handful of conversational podcasts I specifically only listen to if I can fully concentrate on the entire episode, and this is one of them. The reporting is as robust as any other NPR program, but the correspondents seem to have more leeway in expressing their opinions, usually in the form of an exasperated sigh.
    Suggested Episode: Apocalypse or Racial Kumbaya? 
  4. It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders: Sam Sanders used to be on NPR Politics and must’ve shown such an incredibly dynamic personality that NPR granted him his own show. One day, I’d like to have an episode that details how that all went down. For a while, I thought he might’ve gotten fired from NPR and that was why he was leaving NPR Politics. His new show has episodes twice a week – on Tuesdays it’s a solo interview with a pretty diverse range of characters (has ranged from musicians to writers to journalists), and on Fridays it’s a weekly roundup with a rotating cast, always comprising of two journalist friends. It’s a great way to see the news through the eyes of journalists, and more so than any other NPR podcast, it is more living room conversational. I generally end up listening to this while driving home, so it feels like someone is talking to me in the car.
    Suggested Episode: Friday Wrap: Sir and Rumi 
  5. Hidden Brain: an educational podcast that focuses on the unconscious happenings in our brain. I always learn something new from every episode. I do feel like they’re playing with the format in recent months. I hated the original format (which included stopwatch science), loved the format they had previously (where they limited episode length to about 25 minutes), and am mixed about the latest format, where episodes are creeping up to an hour. Generally the guests that come on just happen to have books that they’re shilling. A good number of books I’ve read this year have come as a result of listening to this podcast, and they’ve always been pretty interesting reads.
    Suggested Episode: The Deep Story 
  6. Pop Culture Happy Hour: I haven’t listened to EVERY episode, but I’m all right with that! I forget how I started listening to this, but it must’ve been around January 2017. This podcast has been around for so long that at this point, I’ll listen to every new episode, but I’ve only gone back to listen to episodes that interested me, and haven’t bothered to see if there are any “hidden gems.” I prefer their old format where they’d pick a theme like “Celebrity Apologies” or “Use of Dramatic License in Historical Dramas” and just go down the line and talk about it, everyone bringing up their own examples, versus now where it’s like “Blade Runner 2049” and “Outlander.” I can see why they changed it though, I guess it is more attention grabbing and better SEO to have episodes centered on a specific work of culture. I have found MANY a podcast through their “What’s Making Us Happy” segment. This is a great podcast to listen to at work.
    Suggested Episode: The MTV VMAs and Taylor Swift 
  7. Embedded: this podcast is more season-centric than the rest, meaning that rather than having weekly updates, they’ll focus on a particular theme for a few episodes, then break, and then come back several months later with a new subject matter. Last season was police shootings (and I was expecting more episodes so it felt like I had been on the receiving end of an abrupt breakup when I realized there were no new episodes) and this season it’s the Trump administration. This works well for binge-listening, is educational and cuts in original audio clips very well.
    Suggested Episode: Police Videos: Flagstaff

If you can catch the two podcasts that AREN’T here that most people listen to, kudos to you. The ones I don’t listen to, that most people listen to, are Fresh Air and Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. I have long said, I cannot stand Terry Gross’ interviewing style. I hate it when it sounds like people are just reading off a list of questions and not engaging with the conversation. It is so press junket-y. I don’t have a reason to not listening to Wait Wait because I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an episode before (but I HAVE been to a live taping of an episode with Dan Savage!). Other than that it’s 50 minutes long and I don’t like the title of the podcast.

Day Four/Five: Portland

All right, the last two days in Portland I can just pump out quickly because Robyn and I had both been to Portland before, so we didn’t have to do anything too touristy. I remember it being CRAZY HOT at the time like upper 90s. Which feels awful in Portland. Now that it’s 2017, I believe both Portland and Seattle have gotten even hotter this summer.

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My fave is the blueberry bourbon basil but the glaze doesn’t keep

Anyway, on Tuesday, May 31, Robyn and I did a little jaunt about town of all the things we liked to eat. It says on my Google Calendar that I went to the gym but I have very little memory of this. We hit up Stumptown and Blue Star Donuts (though my current favorite donut place is actually Dough in Manhattan). I got an acai bowl at some random yuppie looking place because it was so hot and I needed some semblance of a fruit in my body. We then killed quite a lot of time just roaming around Powell’s before heading out to eat again. We hung out at the Portland Test Garden which was my pick (there were flowers in bloom but it was a bit too hot and with the direct sunlight, photos weren’t as great) and then hung out in a very divey bar until it was late enough to drive over to Connie’s where we spent the night. I also ended up buying Nike shoes at FULL PRICE at the Nike store. They are pretty, but I think they might actually be too small because my toes hurt if I go on the elliptical. Too late to return now.

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Connie and Tyler were very nice hosts and did a backyard BBQ for us. We were served gluten free hot dog buns which were disgusting. To make it worse, they had been previously frozen LOL I only say this because Connie admitted herself how gross the buns were. Robyn then had an early morning flight and left SUPPPPEEERRR early the next day to go back to work. I got to spend the day in Portland with Connie and flew out to socal that night.

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Note the cute dog in the picture!

So Wednesday kicked off with brunch and Salt & Straw in the morning then a cider place before my flight out. The cider place was right next to a pizza place called Sizzle Pie which we were able to eat at the cider place! I remember getting really red faced because the cider I chose was pretty high in alcohol content. And that’s the end of my Oregon trip! I flew out … went home … relaxed … and then a year and 3 months later, here I am!

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Total Miles Traveled: 750mi one way
Miles by the Day: (437mi, 177mi, 145mi)

Day Three: Yaquina, Three Capes Tour, and Tillamook

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I woke up early on the third day and did a solo walk around the area of Newport. The hotel we were staying at was right along the beach, so it was nice to venture out. There was an RV area, where tons of trailers were parked and people could just do RV beach camping. There was a lighthouse you could walk up to. I just remember listening to podcasts before turning back to the hotel. I vaguely remember making a ton of waffles at the hotel and taking them back to our luxurious room to eat on our balcony.

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Great view

At this point, Robyn decided to take her shoes and bang the sand out of it … and with the sand went her expensive orthodic. It fell down our balcony and into some vegetation growing along the cliffs of the beach. Cue massive cursing and anguish. There was a lot of drama involving a very unhelpful front desk person, but luckily, a very calm worker got a pool net and was able to wrangle the orthodic from the bushes. Eventful morning!

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Yaquina Lighthouse and its nearby tidepools

We headed to the Yaquina Lighthouse – I thinkkkk around there were tidepools that we explored, though I can’t exactly remember if this was the same stop or if they were a little separate from one another. In any case, we weren’t able to enter the Yaquina Lighthouse, but it looked pretty cool because it sat on a cliff. The tidepools were REALLY cool and I could’ve spent forever there. We saw starfish and tons of urchin and sea anemones which would curl up if you poked at them.

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With our brochure of items to spot!
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Everyone’s searching

Then we set off for the Three Capes tour. There’s Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout and Cape Meares. I still don’t know what the definition of a Cape is. I also don’t really remember which cape is which as I look at my pictures…

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Cape Kiwanda

Ok after some yelping and googling, I’ve figured out. This is Cape Kiwanda, recognizable from the giant rock. Cape Kiwanda seemed like it had a lot more people, I think because it’s more beach-y whereas the other two capes are farther and more hiking. There’s also way more hotels right by Cape Kiwanda, some of which looked like some pretty awesome luxurious stays. Most notably there was a restaurant called Pelican Pub & Brewery that was right at the beach and a TON of people were waiting for seats. I can’t remember if we ended up eating here or not, but I have a feeling that we didn’t. The cool part of Cape Kiwanda was that there were a ton of cars just parked along the beach, and then closer to the giant rock, people would climb up this giant sand dunes hill and then sled down.

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The whole Cape Tour was only about two hours from Newport, and the three capes are within 45 minutes of one another. Next up was Cape Lookout, which was probably the least interesting of the three. We basically just stopped along the road and took a picture from above (which I didn’t really love so here’s another one from Instagram).

A post shared by Ryan Winegar (@rwinegar1977) on

Last up was Cape Meares, which was maybe my favorite, but mainly because there’s more hiking involved. You can walk to see the lighthouse, along the way, you get a great view of Cape Meares which is a lot more stunning in person, and then another attraction is the Octopus Tree which is a weird tree with tons of trunks that was probably forced into this shape by indigenous people.

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Cape Meares
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The Octopus Tree!

With our outdoor part of our trip over, now starts the food tour! We made it to Tillamook Cheese Factory, which was about a 30 minute drive away. It’s a huge factory with the highlights being the ice cream shop and cheese samples. There is a cafeteria with surprisingly horrible food. Like, we got mac and cheese and pasta and it was some of the worst stuff I’ve ever eaten. It was so bad I thought I’d never order mac and cheese again. The cheese samples were good though (my fave was eating the cheese curds because you could really hear the squeak!). And ice cream was fun, but I didn’t really like it. The scoops were way too huge, and there was very little time for you to choose what scoops to get (and no samples, I think). A ton of people were funneling in and out of the factory though, looking back, it is kind of amazing how many visitors they get at this cheese factory.

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Then we headed into Portland, where we had a night stay at a Kimpton. The following night, we’d be staying at Connie’s house, which was nice to be able to stay with a friend for a night. Tonight was date night though! We had reservations at Little Bird Bistro, which I think is a sister restaurant to Le Pigeon, which is possibly the BEST expensive restaurant I’ve ever had in my life (I went with Kathy years ago and the way they cooked salmon blew me away). After this dinner, we walked around our hotel area which included hanging out at Bailey’s Taproom. What I love about Portland is that they have the cutest little beer glasses, smaller than a pint, which is PERFECT for me. I wish everywhere had this.

I really liked our room, though I do remember paying a bit for parking. It was a pretty central location, importantly walking distance to Blue Star Donuts!

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Loved this room

Day Two: Prehistoric Gardens to Cape Perpetua to Newport

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Random flowers just growing outside our morning coffee stop

Onward! The second day of the drive had a TON of stuff! We left our place in Gold Beach fairly early in the morning and our first stop was Prehistoric Gardens which was a VERY COOL roadside attraction involving DINOSAURS!!! There are about 20+ lifesize dinosaurs put in a very lush, green park. Park might be an exaggeration actually, because it probably isn’t that large but the way the pathway curves in and out through the landscaping gives you the impression that it’s much larger than it actually is. The gardens are pretty well kept, and you walk along a wooden footbridge, and you get a map that marks the location of each dinosaur (though they’re kind of hard to miss). This is like an instagram bonanaza! This has to be my favorite roadside stop of all time as it combines two of my favorite things, greenery and dinosaurs!!! It is $12 per person, but well worth the price haha

IMG_0010We set off for Bandon, which was another hour’s drive. At some point, we stopped to get coffee at a fairly cute little random town (Port Orford). We ended up exploring this impromptu stop and found a really cool beachside park that had tidepools!!!

 

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Spot the crab!
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Battle Rock Wayside Park in Port Orford

After that, we arrived at Bandon about an hour later. There’s a few more shops here, and we did quite a bit of shopping at a large store called Cranberry Sweets, which had a huge selection of popcorn and tons of samples. Great gift stop! Bandon is a pretty cute, small town to look through, and another big store here is the Face Rock Creamery where we took quite a few samples of cheese and briefly debated getting an ice cream cone until we saw the size of it and decided it was a bit too early for that amount of sugar.

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Random sculpture in Bandon: it’s entirely made of trash often found in oceans

Another half hour drive later, we made a lunch stop in Coos Bay, at a restaurant called 7 Devils Brewing Co. I liked it for the outdoor seating, and it was perfect weather that day – sunny but not too hot and not too windy. Our next stop was the Oregon Sand Dunes which is basically a huge recreational area. I think there were a few hike options, and people sometimes go ATV’ing, but there was tons more to do the rest of the day, so we just went to the dunes briefly. We probably should have planned to bring something to slide down the hill, like a plastic sled or something. We used a pizza box to zero success. Oh well! Compared to White Sands, this was not as beautiful, but still a fun, quick stop with good panoramic camera potential.

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Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area: this is the consequence of erosion!

 

Onward to Yachats, the major stop being Cape Perpetua, which has Thor’s Well, a major photographer’s destination. There are way cooler videos online than the one I took, but Thor’s Well is a natural sinkhole on the beach that creates a really cool water suction effect during high tide. We conveniently arrived in time for sunset, and there were tons of photographers lined up and setting up their shots. Since it’s westward facing, you probably have to have better equipment to really get a good picture during sunset.

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This is the best I could do of Thor’s Well and not a great representation

Cape Perpetua itself has a few hiking options, so we did a few quick trails that took us really high up to views of the coastline. It was kind of late in the day, so the trails were completely empty, but the trailhead and parking lot had the feel of a typically very crowded stop, so it felt a little like a ghost town. We hiked up a significant climb, got a great view, and then headed back down. Then we crossed through a tunnel that took us toward the ocean where Thor’s Well is located.

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Amazing view at Cape Perpetua
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Vegetation running alongside the beach of Cape Perpetua

Then we drove the last leg of our day, a 30 minute drive to Newport, which was a relatively larger town. We ate at a really good Thai place (one of just a few places still open at this hour) and one of my biggest bummers was not turning the car around to take this great picture of the bridge leading into Newport, right when the sun was setting. The image is still floating around my memory, and I guess here’s a picture on Instagram that is a close approximation to it.

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The crowd over Thor’s Well at Cape Perpetua

Our stay that night was in Elizabeth Inn, which was a REALLY nice place to stay, in that the room felt huge and luxurious. There was a fireplace, a HUGE bed … it honestly felt like a suite! Good on you Newport for having an awesome hotel! There were also cookies when we checked in, and our receptionist was really nice though Robyn said she had “meth mouth.” There was a pretty large dvd selection but we were so tired from the drive, we didn’t end up borrowing any. Our room also had a nice balcony that we got to relax on the following morning. Anyway, great second day to the trip!

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Very cool Stegosaurus!

Day One: CA 101 to Gold Beach

So… back over Memorial Day weekend of 2016 (note, today is now August 2017), I had a five day road trip driving up the Oregon Coast with Robyn (and then we flew down to LA for three days, mainly to watch The Little Mermaid at the Hollywood Bowl). It’s long been on my to do list to post a blog entry about this vacation. At this point, I don’t think anyone reads this blog (I say this every time, but there is NO WAY anyone’s reading this right?!), but I’ve found my entries occasionally useful years after I’ve gone on a vacation to rejigger my memory, so I still find them worthwhile to write. And mainly, it’s kind of nice to have the pictures here with more words than an IG caption would have. Actually come to think of it, if Soundcloud has taught me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t trust anything to the cloud/private enterprise and one day WordPress will go out of business and all these hours, probably cumulatively DAYS, will have gone to waste. Hm. Now I’m seriously rethinking this commitment to writing a blog post. Isn’t the next best thing to just do this on a Microsoft Word document and copy and paste my pictures and then print them out? LOL Oh well. I’ve committed already. It’s 10:45am on a Saturday (technically my alarm went off at 6:45am but I was too lazy to go to the gym and other than an extra hour of sleep, I think I spent the rest of my time watching youtube videos of crappy but still very addicting clips of Wynonna Earp) SO I GUESS I CAN FINALLY CHECK THIS OFF MY LIST. I’m giving myself until noon to complete this … GO!

The background for this trip is that I was supposed to go with Kathy, but a few days before, she backed out and I already had hotels booked so I asked Robyn (rather unconvincingly at first, I suppose it’s not very persuasive to tell someone ‘want to go on this vacation with me? my other friend cancelled. but you better tell me soon otherwise I’m just going to invite my mom’). Thankfully she agreed although she was very reluctant at first, as driving from one place to another really conflicts with her preferred vacation style of going to lounging on a beach. She was actually just about to book a solo trip to Maui before I was like “hey how about Hawaii … we DRIVE FOR FIVE DAYS?” Spoiler alert: she ended up LOVING IT despite the fact that I essentially made her drive 85% of the trip.

So we headed out on Saturday May 28th. Of course any time I head north beyond San Francisco, there is my obligatory stop at my favorite restaurant in the Bay Area, SOL FOOD!!! I got a bistec sandwich (I don’t have insanely good memory, there is a picture of it in my archives) and I remember Robyn getting a vanilla latte and it was WAYYY more delicious than I expected it to be. Anyway, onward ho, after our obligatory breakfast stop! Usually I only eat Sol Food after a long hike but having it early morn was a bit odd (restaurant opens at 9 and I definitely dictated our out the door time to coincide with this restaurant’s operations.

DANGGG I have amazing memory!!! My Google Calendar says our next stop was a coffee shop called Steep Coffee. I couldn’t remember the town’s name but after staring at the Google Maps, my first guess was right – Ukiah! (Ok technically I guess it’s Hopland, but Yelp still found the coffee store so I consider that a success). This was a tiny little town that looked like all of its 10 establishments were running along the 101 which at this point, was more like a quiet two lane road. Steep was REALLY cute and had a honey latte drink that was great. Importantly, there was an insanely adorable dog sitting outside.

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Of course I’ll come into the store!

We walked back to our car and there was a little house that offered medical marijuana licenses, by appt only. Robyn knocked on the door, no answer. As we turned away, the owner of the office walked up the path and was like “oh did you have an appointment?” and we very abashedly rushed off going “no! thanks though! we’ll drop by again if we are ever in the area!”

At this point we were 130 miles from my house (2.5hrs). Onward we went, past the Avenue of the Giants (I think we stopped for a single picture but then continued on). We had stopped at Confusion Hill, in Piercy, which I normally would not have stopped at but I think we both needed to pee. This was your typical kind of very random roadside attraction and it’s classified as an amusement park on yelp. We didn’t enter any of it, and just took pictures of random stuff in the parking lot, which involved a shoe house and a giant totem pole. Along this route, you start getting a lot of roadside attractions involving giant cut down redwood trees that have been painted and carved into huge wooden statues. At this point, we were 250 miles or 4.5hrs away from home.

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Confusion Hill’s Shoe House! Would be decent conditions in SF

We arrived in Eureka probably around 2pm, our lunch stop for the day. Eureka seemed to be the largest city to stop in on our first day, though there wasn’t thatttt much to do. It’s near the water, so you can walk along the small pier. There was a small town square, I vaguely remember a few homeless looking people, and the square being pretty quiet, but we did venture into a chocolate store and picked up a few small truffles and a chocolate banana slug as a gift for Connie, who would be hosting us in Portland at the end of our trip.

We ate at a restaurant called Sixth & E which was a decently good burger joint and a very refreshingly cool AC system. I remember there being bar table style seating, which I enjoyed as it allowed me to stretch out my legs after the long drive (which was only halfway through!). Then we stopped by the Carson Mansion, which is a historical building that inspired McScrooge’s mansion in Duck Tales. Pretty cool! I think it’s now like a private club.

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I was unfortunately not a regular watcher of Duck Tales

We continued on, and the next thing we stopped at was the Trees of Mystery in Klamath, which is about 375mi from home. This is another roadside attraction, way cooler than Confusion Hill. It just has a TON of redwood statues around, the most impressive one being Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, Babe! I’ve included one photo of me under Paul Bunyan’s foot to give a better representation of its huge size

The main thing I really wanted to see was Samuel H Boardman State Park, which was another 50 miles away and just a little past the Oregon state border. However, a huge theme throughout this vacation was that I had wayyyy overestimated our ability to drive and explore, so by the time we arrived at a place, we’d already be several hours past schedule. At this stop, the first picture I could take was the sun setting into the ocean. Robyn got a little frustrated because I wouldn’t tell her anything about the places we were headed, so when we’d arrive somewhere, I’d be like “ok and now we’re supposed to do a 2 hour hike! Except … hmm there’s still four hours of driving left … and it’s 4pm … but I don’t know why we’re here if we aren’t going to hike!” I’m pretty terrible.

What I learned about this park is that it’s not really just a park, at least not what I envision as a park. It’s more like there’s several roadside stops along the freeway, and you better be pretty quick with the wheel to make it into the parking lot. Luckily there was barely anyone on the road at this hour and Robyn was driving. There are a few hikes that can take you down to the beach, but since the sun was setting and there was still TONS TO SEE in the park, we had to keep moving! Also, it seemed pretty steep to walk down, and we hadn’t brought hiking shoes. I was a little bummed that we had to be the kind of travelers that just park and take pictures and leave, but we had had a very fulfilling first day, and if we had left any earlier in the day, I wouldn’t have been able to eat Sol Food! In the end, I’m happy with what we did but would definitely do the roadtrip again (with more emphasis on the hiking).

Samuel H Boardman Park was still fun even though we didn’t spend as long as I would’ve liked. There are some crazy cool pictures I’ve seen on IG from down the shore like this one (sorry I have no idea how to embed). We got some great photos of the huge rocks on the beach that are so iconic of the Oregon Coast. I liked how it turned out, and due to the timing of the sunset, I really only have the one picture and not like 50 taken in incremental seconds. We headed on, stopped at the only restaurant that was open in town (a decent pizza place) and took home a box of pizza to eat in our hotel! Motel?

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View from the first stop at Samuel H Boardman

Our stay for the night was in a town called Gold Beach (I forget where, but other towns people stay in are Brookings further south or else Bandon further up). Our place of lodging was called the Inn of the Beachcomber but I have no memory of the room, and the photos on Yelp are pretty atrocious, it seems like a collection of every guest’s past grievances. There was a photo of a hot tub, which reminded me that we had bought pizza and I got the thrill of eating PIZZA in a HOT TUB! A questionably clean hot tub … but oh well … this was PURE LUXURY. A year later I did read an article (OMG I FOUND IT – I’m kind of amazed throughout the writing of this post how relatively it easy it was to google what my memory failed to remember) on Vulture that said “I couldn’t stop thinking about how gross it would be to eat a slice (of pizza) that’s covered in the spray of a hot tub” and when I read that, I thought “is that not a symbol of luxury?”

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So that was the first day! I originally thought I’d just put the entire trip into a single blog entry but given how long this one already is … I guess … I should split it up! It’s 12:20! AHHH I was supposed to be done by noon! OF ALL FIVE DAYS! I’ve only done the one day!!!

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Day 11: leaving Vancouver

Oh dear. Now I’m sitting at the Vancouver airport!!! Totally failed to write down my thoughts in Canada as they happened.

On the last day, we woke up on Victoria in the Chateau Victoria. My dad’s knee seems to have essentially blown out during our four hour tour of the Butchart Gardens, so he sat in the hotel room in the morning while my brother slept and my mom and I went out to see Beacon Hill Park around 8am. This was my pick for the walk, and I’m really thrilled that I ended up doing this. I have no interest in parliament buildings or harbors, which seems to be the main attraction in Victoria.

Beacon Hill is essentially their massive city park – when I think of city parks, I usually just think boring fields of grass, and a couple of trees. But this one was REALLY nice. There’s several different walking trails, if you go all the way to the northwest end, there’s even a coastal trail that gives you a view of the water and distant mountains. There’s a little rose garden area, several patches of beautiful flowers throughout, a children’s farm which has goats, a pig, a sheep, and chickens … there’s even peacocks roaming around and I saw a heron nesting area. Near the coastal trail, there’s “the world’s tallest totem pole” (it did look quite tall) and it was near here that we saw a deer. So, TONS of wildlife!!!

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Just one of many Beacon Hill views

The slight negative is that there aren’t thatttt many restrooms and with my mom in tow, that sort of limited us to a certain radius. But we still got to see a LOT. There’s biking and walking paths, and there’s a few ways cars can drive through the park, though of course it’s much nicer to walk through it. Reading through the yelp reviews, I don’t think most people have the time to go through the entire park (it took us over two hours, and while I think we saw all the important bits, I’m sure there’s little gems we missed). Overall, an amazing park!

We even had time to walk down to the harbor and take a few pictures with the building. The plus side is that the hotel I got was pretty central to all of this. We got back to the room around 10am, finished up our packing, and then checked out. Because my dad couldn’t walk in the morning, I drove everyone around to see everything again via car. He got out to look at the ocean view and the farm (he loves taking the worst, most blurry photos of birds – I don’t know why). Then we set off for our 1pm ferry back to Vancouver.

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The walk around Victoria Harbor

This time, the ferry experience was less thrilling for everyone, as my dad couldn’t walk around and my mom is now sick (it turns out, from bronchitis!). I fell asleep in a chairfor what must have been about half an hour or more. It’s more scenic near Victoria than it is near Vancouver, because the ferry passes through a few islands as it heads into Victoria. The ferry was much less crowded today.

We headed to Costco mainly to get poutine, though I wish we had had time to shop around. I kept mistakenly thinking my parents and brother’s flight was an hour later though, so I was in the mindset that we had all the time in the world, and meanwhile, I think everyone else was silently freaking the fuck out. We got our Costco food court food, which I must say, was DELICIOUS. We shared fries with poutine (YUM, I think they’re quite generous with the cheese portioning, and their fries are a perfect amount of crisp and thickness), chicken wings (personally my favorite because they were surprisingly very moist – and I normally HATE wings), two hot dogs, and chicken strips with fries. Pretty darn good meal! Thinking about it, I don’t think they sold smoothies or chicken bakes.

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Yum, Richmond BC Costco

I dropped my parents off at the airport then circled around to get gas at the airport gas station, before returning the car. My flight is two hours after theirs, so I wasn’t in a rush at all. In fact, part of me debated driving out to explore more, though I probably saved myself a massive stress attack by just sitting it out and writing my blog posts in the airport. Now, here I am!


In summary, I found a list I made on my last day of the cruise. If it had a title, it would be “a revised packing list.”

Alaska was generally much warmer than I had anticipated. Certainly there were a few cold moments on the ship, but I suspect it was because of the wind and maybe not exactly because of the air temperature. So, stuff I brought that wasted precious luggage space that I wish I hadn’t brought:

  • My down jacket, which was the largest piece of clothing I brought. Thank goodness I didn’t bring my even larger down jacket though, which is the type of jacket you would see New Yorkers wear in the dead of winter
  • Thermals, which admittedly did not take up that much space, but STILL!
  • Umbrella, which I could have maybe used in Ketchikan but it wasn’t raining that hard and my waterproof jacket sufficed
  • Book, as I may have referenced before, I didn’t open my Anna Kendrick memoir a single time
  • Scarf, I don’t even know why I brought this

Stuff I WISH I had brought though, and will need to keep this in mind if I ever go on another cruise:

  • Air freshener, I thought it would have been nice if we just brought a plug in. Since we had an interior room, the air really does get a bit stale
  • Lotion and soap, while the ship provides it, I think I could have bumped up the luxury by just bringing my own toiletries

Day ten: Victoria

So on Sunday morning, we left our Vancouver hotel around 9:30am, and had to catch the 11am ferry to Victoria. The hotel had a complimentary breakfast – basically the key ingredients to my parents LOVING the hotel is that it should have a jacuzzi and free breakfast. The breakfast was decent though carb heavy (waffles, pancakes, toast, yogurt). We had woken up around 6:30, excluding my brother. My mom and I did a quick walk to the steam clock, and made sure to get back before 9:00. I think we probably could have walked around a bit more and taken in more of Gastown’s brick cobblestone ambiance, but oh well. Nothing was open at the time anyway.

Our hotel, the Hampton Inn, was right across from the football/soccer stadium, BC Place, and a BLOCK from Costco. Everyone in my family was seriously bummed that we hadn’t had the chance to go out and explore Costco. I made up for this by going to the Richmond Costco on Monday, right before going to the airport, but I do kind of regret not having the delightful experience of walking to a Costco. We had some sandwiches with us that we had taken from the cruise, which we ate on the ferry to Victoria.

The ferries here seem really well run – I would hope they work just as well elsewhere in America, but who knows. It got us into Victoria around 12:30, and we drove to Butchart Gardens, about a half hour drive. This is often on the top 10 gardens in the world – I would say it was nice … but I personally liked the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens even more (maybe because that was like a nice surprise and was an easy bus ride away) yet I’ve never seen that one listed on any top lists. There were way more people at Butchart Gardens, understandably, and while it was really nice … it also seemed, I don’t know … kind of basic? Like, not as creative as as Edinburgh Gardens which had a lot of interesting touches like the greenhouses and composting area and such.

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The Butchart Gardens money shot

Nevertheless, we took our sweet time here, about four hours in the gardens. I wanted to make sure we got a FULL experience, as I don’t want to have to take a ferry out to Victoria Island again in my life (not that it was a bad experience, there’s just so much to do in the world and it seriously takes up so much of the day just to get out to the island). Unfortunately, while walking around the Japanese Gardens, my dad’s leg really started to hurt, so he had to sit through the rest of the day with my brother (I think my brother was relieved) and even as we left Canada, he is still clearly limping. AHH my parents are getting old!!!

After Butchart Gardens, I made a quick stop at a really cool looking rock wall I had seen driving in – from what I can tell, it was built right next to an elementary school and seems to be free? There were zero reviews for it on yelp, so I don’t know how new it is. It seemed WAYYYYY higher than any other wall I’ve seen in climbing gyms. I don’t know how to convey my first sight of this wall, but it was almost like a mirage. Imagine driving past just fields and fields of grass and then out of nowhere there’s a towering structure that turns out to be a ROCK WALL! Sooo cool, I’m honestly considering returning to Victoria Island just to try the wall out.

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Such a cool wall

Then we drove to the hotel I picked out, the Chateau Victoria. The hotel has the feel of an old hotel, with attempts to modernize it, but you can still smell the oldness of it in the paint and the wood. I was really relieved that it was essentially a suite, with one bed in a room and the other in the living room – even though it looked odd, at least we weren’t all in the same room breathing together. I think that is the one thing that really sets me off about vacationing with the entire family – my brother likes to sleep late and have the tv on, and while my parents seem to sleep with it ok, I end up stewing in my bed thinking “JUST GO TO SLEEP OR LEAVE!”

Because my dad couldn’t really walk around, and because my mom and I were probably sick and tired of eating out all the time, we walked out to get Subway sandwiches to bring back to the room to eat. My parents LOVE Subway, so I knew this would actually delight them, though it’s the kind of thing that annoys my brother. Well, while ordering the Subway sandwiches for my parents, I decided I no longer wanted a sandwich, because it just seemed so sad in the Subway (and the guy didn’t seem to really know how to make sandwiches that well, no offense to him). So my mom walked back to the hotel with the sandwiches (the greatest thing about traveling with her is that she actually has a better sense of direction out of everyone, even though she generally has no idea what the plan is) while my brother and I walked around “looking for restaurants” which was more like, I was yelping as we ambled around.

We settled on a place called Bin 4 Burger, which featured gourmet burgers. They had fried red onion rings which were REALLY good and a selection of sauces – I chose curry aioli to go with our fries, and it was REALLLLYYYY good. I was debating between a vegetarian burger called “Mr Bean” and another burger that was a mix of pork/chorizo, with panko fried goat cheese. I ended up choosing the latter. Even though the vegetarian burger sounded sooo good, I never end up getting those because I’m always like WHAT IF IT’S TERRIBLE?!??! And I’ve never walked into a burger place thinking “I am craving a vegetarian patty.” It’s just such a risk that I’m not willing to take. The burger place was really good though – I usually don’t bother linking to restaurants in my blog posts but HERE IT IS.

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A classic ugly picture of DELICIOUS food

We then walked back to the hotel room, and my mom tried to go to the jacuzzi but unfortunately there was a group of three that took it up the rest of the night, so she decided to just shower and go to bed. I stayed up a little later to finish a game of sudoku and some youtube, before heading to bed around midnight. SO SAD, the last night of the trip!!!

Day nine: Vancouver

OK the day of our cruise check out! We were luckily placed into a later check out time, which worked well with me, because there wasn’t thatttt much I wanted to do in Vancouver. I enjoy Vancouver but when I first visited, I thought the architecture was hideous. Even though it’s considered a beautiful city, presumably for the trees and the water, I feel like the architecture is irredeemable. I also feel like there are more high rises here now than I remember, but come to think of it, it’s one of the few cities I’ve visited that doesn’t have undergoing construction littering the skyline.

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We had to leave our cruise rooms by 8am, and leave the cruise ship at 9:35am. My mom and I ended up waking up around 6:30am, and we went to the breakfast buffet around 7am. I kept wanting to have a conversation with my favorite employee of the trip, the bouillon lady, but I also felt rather self conscious and didn’t want to disrupt her work. I’ll never know her!!! Haha I did finally get a glimpse of her name tag though, which was Natalia. Though, I feel like these are not their real names, and that the cruise line assigned them names that people would feel more comfortable with. Like, of course you’re going to give an Eastern European woman the name of “Natalia.”

Anyway, goodbye to Natalia Bouillon, my favorite employee. My family took a few pictures of Vancouver from the top deck of the boat, and I enjoyed having the time to do that. Then we had to leave!

Here is where I WENT WRONG IN MY PLANNING! I decided to get a car from the docks to the airport in order to pick up the rental car, as it cost $50 more to pick up from a different location. I assumed there would be Uber here, but it turns out there isn’t. So the taxi ended up being $42, and I wasted an hour of everyone’s time. SIGH SIGH. What we could have done in that hour was walk to get the rental car from another location, then drive to the hotel, then walk around the Costco that was located A BLOCK from our hotel. Sadness.

Anyway, we got our rental car (a Camry! Hurrah!) then I basically drove us right back to where we started, and had my family go around Granville Island. It turned out, by an extremely good stroke of luck, I parked off the island and decided we’d just walk there, because I didn’t want to pay too much for parking. REALLY luckily, I found metered parking about a 10 minute walk away from the Granville Island entrance. It was far enough that the time limit was three hours, rather than the two hours that closer meters had. The downside was I forgot that there is such a thing called $2 coins, and I needlessly threw $2 into the meter. But oh well – we walked to Granville Island … and essentially my whole family split up to do their own thing because at this point, everyone wanted to do different things (my brother wants to eat, I want to walk around and make sure I capture every possible picture, my mom wants to look at crappy souvenir shops, my dad just wants to walk around very slowly).

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I walked around the food market a little too long – there was one street with more artisanal craft stores like a BROOM STORE, a glass art store, etc., that I only got to see a small portion of and wish I had explored the entire street. I had assumed there was less to Granville Island than there actually is. It’s more than just the food market! While walking around, I kept seeing ALLL of these parking spots open, FREE FOR THREE HOURS! I was getting SOOOO pissed at myself, for throwing away $8 on parking!

WELL while I was buying up cute little postcards at one of those artisanal stores, the storeowner told me that the entrance of Granville Island had been completely blocked off because a SINKHOLE had appeared that morning! So that was why there was so little car traffic! She mentioned (and I later saw on yelp reviews) that typically parking on the island is a shit show. So I’m really glad I had parked on the street, as I’m sure it would’ve been impossible to get in otherwise. Everyone on that island had essentially walked in! (Later they opened up the entrance to single lane traffic which also looked like a horrible ordeal on the news).

So, I will overall classify our Granville Island experience as a success. It was the same weekend as a Kids Festival thing, which the storeowner said usually makes it the most busiest time on Granville Island. So by extreme luck, thanks to that sinkhole, we were able to have the island a little more to ourselves (though of course, to the detriment of the vendors on the island).

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A concrete company with its silos decorated by Brazilian artists

Well, around this time it was 2:40pm so I drove to our hotel. I honestly thought the Hampton Inn was similar to a Best Western (I think I internalize the name as “Holiday Inn”), but it turned out it’s REALLY nice … and my room ended up being FREAKING $400!!!!! WHICH IS INSANE TO ME. I guess that’s $400 CAD, so luckily it wasn’t as bad in USD.

The room WAS nice, but a suite is probably the way to go from now on if I’m traveling with my entire family (which I hope doesn’t happen again in a very, very long time). I no longer want to ever travel again with my whole family, but I’m pretty sure I say this after every vacation and I always end up feeling guilty and planning a family vacation anyway. I just cannot handle having all four people sleep in the same room. It’s SOOOO ANNOYING. That’s just too many people in one room, breathing the same air, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style.

Upon entering the hotel room, everyone just sort of collapsed onto their chosen thing and sat around. We kept saying “ok we’ll leave soon!” but clearly no one wanted to get up. I think we sat there for an hour before we gathered our energy to leave. I made my brother drive us to Stanley Park, though I would come to regret this because I HATE his rental car driving style. I must distinguish this from his normal driving, which is typically fine. But for some reason, when he’s on vacation and driving a rental car, I feel like he thinks very highly of himself and starts to drive very riskily and shittily.

I’ve been to Stanley Park twice before, the first time via bike with Kristen, Andria, Leneve and Christina which was really fun. I have memories of me biking with my camera in hand. The other time was with my mom, and all I remember was that it was pouring rain, but we committed to walking around the entire park in the rain with no umbrella. And the entire time, we only saw TWO other people who were committed to doing their running routine in the rain. We kept seeing tour buses pull up to major stops, and no one would get out, and the buses would just continue on.

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This time, we did more of a drive and walk tour. We weren’t able to walk the entire perimeter due to timing and the drag of my dad and brother, which kind of sucks. My mom and I ended up ditching them, and walked the most important parts on our own (which I deem to be from the Bridge to Ferguson Point/the Teahouse). We eventually met up with my brother, then decided to drive around the Park again just cuz. We ended up stopping at a lookout point right when the Princess Cruise we just came off of was leaving the port, so we took a ton of pictures of it leaving. It felt weirdly sad! To see our home of the past week leave without us. Goodbye, Natalia Bouillon!

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Goodbye bouillon. Goodbye ship.

Then we drove out of downtown Vancouver to try a sushi restaurant my brother’s friend recommended called Kushimoto. It’s known for the oshi sushi, which is essentially box sushi? I don’t know why it’s so amazing but I didn’t think it was stellar. The plus side was, the wait to get in was about an hour, so we ended up walking to a nearby pizza place that had AMAZING, unique pizza for SUPER cheap. The small regret is that for a dollar more, we could’ve gotten two cokes, but I had initially been too cheap to pay for the special and hadn’t done the math in my head to realize they were practically giving cokes away! We initially got four slices – a crab, bacon, alfredo pizza, a spinach and feta pizza, a chicken masala pizza, and a honey pork pizza. My favorite was surprisingly the crab bacon. After this, we decided to get another two slices as part of the specials deal, and share a coke between us – this time we got a lamb pizza and an artichoke/olives/something one. Everyone was thrilled and all of our slices and that one coke cost $14 CAD, which is SUPER cheap.

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Pretty darn good pizza

At this point, everyone was questioning whether we should eat sushi, until I was like “the WHOLE POINT of eating pizza beforehand was so we would go into the sushi restaurant semi-full, because we were too cheap to stuff ourselves on sushi! SO we are actually EXACTLY where we planned to be!” and everyone was like “hmm that’s true!” So when we finally got in, we got an udon, two sushi rolls and salmon cheeks. Again, I don’t think the place was thattt amazing but I’m glad we tried it.

Then we went back to the hotel, mainly so that my mom would have time to jacuzzi. My mom and I did the jacuzzi, and immediately afterwards, I went out onto the rooftop to look at the view. My mom ended up getting sick the next day, and she points to this as the reason why. Her words: “I’m too old to have such romantic experiences.” Her doctor told her that she had bronchitis, and it came from over exhaustion and dehydration. So … NOT the hot tub!

Then we went back to our room to sleep and get ready for … VICTORIA ISLAND!!!

 

Day eight: Inside Passage

Last day of the cruise! We arrive in Vancouver tomorrow morning and will have to exit our rooms by 8:00 and my family’s scheduled time to exit the boat will be around 9:35.

Today was a relatively easy going day. My mom’s goals were to do the steam room and the hot tub (success!). My dad’s goals were to eat ramen (success!) I’m not sure what my brother’s goals were. I guess my goal was to do the bouillion station, afternoon tea and gym (success!).

Actually, I guess my day started off with a slight fail, because I wanted to eat at the more formal breakfast as opposed to the breakfast buffet, but I woke up too late. Over night we had to “switch our clocks back” to normal time, which meant that I was no longer granted an extra bonus Alaska hour! So my mom, dad and I had to go to the breakfast buffet. We then went to watch what I thought was going to be a lecture on how they cook our foods, but it ended up being just some sort of singing/comedy show with some of the kitchen staff. The highlight was when one crew member sang a great rendition of Frank Sinatra’s (?) My Way – he had a great deep voice and he ended it with a standing ovation (every other singer had just received polite applause).

I had to bow out early though in order to make my BOUILLON STATION!!! I got two bowls. I am bummed because my favorite crew member on the ship, the bouillon lady, wasn’t there today. I was totally planning to get her name so that I could put her on my special recognition card. I don’t know why I liked her so much, maybe it was because she was such a nice person who was consistently the face of the bouillon station (my favorite food on this ship). I remember thinking “ha! she seems fun” because when I got one bowl of bouillon, she asked me “what toppings?” and I said “green onion only” and she then went “parsley?” and I went “um… ok!” and she then went “cheese?” and I went “umm… ok!” and then she said “so everything then?” and I said “yeah I guess so” and she added the last topping, croutons. Something about her tone (and her accent) just made me laugh.

Anyway, after the bouillon station, I had no plans, so I ended up going to the gym in the afternoon. Then I was exhausted but was in a weird time between lunch and afternoon tea, so I went to get a hot tuna panini from the 24 hour international cafe that my family had been stealing sandwiches from for our port days (finally I got to eat a HOT sandwich!). I eventually ran into the rest of my family, and after a little walking around the ship together, I convinced everyone to go to afternoon tea, and told them that even if they weren’t hungry, they could just watch me eat. Everyone obliged.

It turned out to be great because I don’t think anyone in my family would’ve thought of going to afternoon tea, but it ended up being a nice, fun, semi-formal but not really, event! Everyone loved the little sandwiches and desserts and tea. We even added the cream and sugar to our tea, which we normally do not do as an Asian family. My second favorite dessert on the ship, a vanilla something something (essentially like puff pastry layered between a vanilla custardy cream) was served, along with scones (yum), cream puffs (vanilla and chocolate!) and other desserts. Then we had an hour to get ready / hungry for dinner!

Dinner, I got MEATLOAF!!! It was delicious. I also got an Alaskan Seafood Soup which was good because it was a little sour like a Thai soup. Dessert we got baked alaskas, ice cream, and a chocolate tapioca pudding. For the past two nights, the ice creams advertised are nothing like the ice creams we actually receive. We were supposed to get a rhubarb and none of them tasted like rhubarb!

Then my mom and I did another crazy windy jacuzzi adventure. A man doing his nightly deck walk passed by us and said “you guys are my heroes” for doing the hot tub in such insane weather. Then we had to go back into the boat and we passed two crew members who were talking by the doorway, and one of them gave me the biggest “what the fuck?!” look HAHA

Now I guess I have half an hour to do my second gym session! I’m trying to power through my last two episodes of Raw Data so I can say that I did actually complete a podcast (I did!). Then tomorrow I have to be ready to take my family around Vancouver! Ugh I feel exhausted just thinking about it. I’m so used to just sitting in my room quietly and feeling comforted that my family can figure out what they want to do on their own.