Salem and Portland Oregon

Firstly, I must apologize for getting lazy with the blog. I’m a couple of entries behind, but hopefully I’ll be caught up this week!

I left off in Napa, CA from which I drove 9 hours north into Salem, OR where my friend Alana has been living for 6 months for her job. I stayed with Alana for 5 days in Salem, and we didn’t do a whole lot, but it was awesome to hang out and relax. The first night I got there we polished off most of the hard liquor she had in her house, and over the next couple of nights we drank countless bottles of wine and stayed up late trading old stories and laughing our asses off. Alana works a normal job, so she’s at work during the day Monday thru Friday. I spent most days lounging around and hanging out with her roommate’s dogs.

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Jasper and Gina

Friday night after Alana got out of work we went out to dinner at Marco Polo’s, which was really good, and then we went to a local watering hole, where naturally, Alana knew the bartender.

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We had a blast, drank way too much, stayed out way too late, and made some bad decisions. It was excellent. The following day, we both had the Irish flu, and spent the day sleeping, lounging and eating delicious pizza.

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Alana enjoying her pizza…

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We also went to a wine tasting while I was there, and learned that Oregon makes some of the best Pinot Noir in the world, because of all the rain. After that, we went and bought nice cheese and crackers and wine and went home and finished all of that off. On the rare sunny day in Oregon, we went to the park and walked around. It was an awesome visit, Alana really is the best. 

 I left Alana and drove up to Portland, where I stayed with my friend Greg, who I used to work with at Baba Sushi. I haven’t seen Greg in over 3 years, and when we used to work together we both worked more than full time, and we partied together, hard. Well now that we’re both older, we partied just as hard. I wasn’t in Portland 5 minutes and we were on our way to a bar, where we drank bad beer and worse whiskey, but also had awesome burgers. We ended up back at Greg’s apartment partying into the wee hours and playing MarioCart.

We slept away most of the next day, then went to a Mustache March party where all of the Portland hipsters show off their mustaches and drink more terrible beer. We played some pool and other bar games, and when the bar finally kicked us out we went back to someone’s house and kept the party going. By the time we made it back to Greg’s the sun was almost up.

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By the third day I was really feeling this hangover. We slept late and then spent the day wandering around Portland a little bit. We went to Powell’s, which is the largest independent bookstore in the country, as big a city block. We spent a couple of hours wandering around and looking at all of the books, it’s literally so large you can get lost in there. Then went across the street and had some awesome thin crust pizza. That night we went to the movies and saw Jack Reacher, and then hit a couple of bars and got some food before heading back to Greg’s.

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Portland is a very cool city, full of hipsters and homeless, but a cool city nonetheless. Its full of small businesses and great restaurants. The homeless population is staggering, it’s very much like San Francisco, there are homeless people everywhere. I don’t know why some places have so many more homeless than others, if there aren’t enough shelters, or programs, or if they’re more strict about welfare, I don’t know, but its a defining aspect of some cities. It also rains all of the time in Oregon, its nice to visit, but couldn’t live somewhere with that much rain.

The next morning I headed out, into the rain again, got back in my car and back on the road, continuing the head north.

San Francisco and Napa Valley

I left Yosemite and drove to Tracy, CA about an hour west of San Francisco and did some car camping in Wal-Mart parking lot, then woke up Saturday morning and drove the rest of the way into San Francisco. I spent most of Saturday wandering around San Fran, seeing the beach, hanging at Starbucks, etc. Saturday night I ended up at 21st Amendment Brewery, where I met up with a friend I met in Wisconsin, she was in Cali for the weekend and her uncle owned the brewery, which had excellent beer.  Did a little more car camping Saturday night and a little more exploring Sunday.

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Me and Lucy at 21st Amendment

Sunday morning I went to brunch at Nova Bar and had bottomless mimosas and triple bypass eggs Benedict with bacon, sausage, and ham, it was really awesome. Then after an undisclosed amount of mimosas I wandered around the city, saw the pier, walked down by the beach and over to the bridge, which was really incredible.

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After all that I met up with Calvin, who I met on couchsurfing and who hosted me for the night. We went and got Mexican food and a movie and spent the night chilling out. It was the first bed I had slept in in 3 nights, and the first shower in 3 days as well, I was pretty ripe.

We woke up and spent all day Monday wandering around San Francisco, we took the bus and the subway all over the city and saw Golden Gate Park, which is pretty amazing, we went to a used CD store, where I got a sweet deal on some music, we went to Clarion Alley and saw all of the graffiti, we went into Japan Town and had ramen noodles, we went downtown and looked in the fancy stores and saw the trolleys.

Golden Gate Park and Ameoba Music

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Clarion Alley

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Japan Town

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It was an epic day, Calvin was an enthusiastic and gracious host and I feel like I got a really good idea of what San Francisco is like. It’s a great city, really clean with lots of culture, however, the homeless population was staggering. There were homeless people everywhere, on every corner, like nothing I’ve ever seen.

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I guess it’s a nice place to be homeless…

Monday night I jumped back on the road, grabbed some frozen yogurt, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and headed towards Napa, CA. I didn’t have a ton of time in Napa, which was just fine because there is nothing cheap about Napa Valley, but I did go out for a late night happy hour for some grub and some wine and found a nice neighborhood to park in and get some sleep. Tuesday morning meant lots of driving and a new adventure!

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