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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Los Angeles and Yosemite!

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Yosemite Sunset

 I left San Diego by late morning Tuesday and jumped on the pacific coast highway, CA-101, which is a highway that runs along the California coast line and goes through lots of cool towns. I stopped and spent most of the day in Long Beach, which is a very cool city on the beach. I spent most of the day driving around, finally stopped to eat at District Wine, which had a happy hour with $7 flat bread pizza and $5 glasses of wine. It was a really cool spot, with big arm chairs, perfect for sitting around and enjoying a cloudy afternoon. I didn’t have anywhere to stay in Long Beach so I did did some car camping there.

Wine Reserve~ 3 meat flatbread and class of Sauv blanc

Wednesday morning I drove the rest of the way up to Los Angeles. It was a beautifully warm day so I hiked up as close as you can get to the Hollywood sign and met a couple of guys, one from LA and one from Mass, who told me some cool spots to hit while in Los Angeles.

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I did most of the touristy things while I was there, saw the hollywood sign, went to Sunset Strip, and has an awesome hotdog wrapped in bacon and topped with onions and jalepenos… sooo good. I went and saw The Walk of Fame, walked down Hollywood Blvd, which is closed off to driving to prepare for the Oscars.

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Harry Potter!

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When I returned to my car, which was parked on the street, I got in, turned it on, put it into drive and it died. I repeated this about 10 times with the same results. Finally I realized if I gunned the gas as soon as I put it into drive, it would run until I stopped again. Well, getting out of a parallel parking spot and then trying to move through LA traffic in this fashion is easier said than done. Luckily, I only had to drive about half a mile before I pulled it into the nearest mechanic, who, after looking at it told me he would happily fix it the next morning, for only $1019, at which point I turned and vomitted. Ok, that last part didn’t really happen, but damn close.

My friend Mollie, who is from Cali originally spent most of the day texting me and telling me the places that I must visit while I am there. Then, she was nice enough to contact her aunt, who lived just outside LA, and found me a spot to crash for the night! So upon leaving my car at the mechanic I learned pretty quickly how to navigate Los Angeles’ metro and bus system, and after an hour ride arrived at Mollie’s aunt Trish’s apartment, and passed out. The next morning I jumped back on the bus, then the metro and arrived at my car, which was fixed. I must say the mechanic was very nice, and he explained to me what needed to be done and why and showed me what he changed, etc. By the time my car was fixed I had had my fill of LA and jumped of the freeway heading north, with no real plan except to head towards Yosemite.

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In-n-Out Burger- Double Double Animal style!

I drove a couple of hours and ended up in Fresno, where I had happy hour at Elephant Room, which is a chain out here, but has an excellent happy hour and really good food, I spent the majority of the night in Barnes and Noble blogging, researching, listening to music, and reading. Being that I didn’t know anyone in Fresno, I was car camping again. When I woke up in the morning I made the rest of the drive into Yosemite.

It is very difficult to describe Yosemite National Park, I think John Muir said it best when he said, “it is by far the grandest of all the special temples of nature I was every permitted to enter.” The only other way I can think to describe it is magnificent and immense, if you ever get the chance to go there, do it. Its a huge park full of winding roads, and the fastest you can go on any of them is 35mph, so it takes a while to get around, and there is so much to see, but everywhere along the way you see amazing views, landscape, animals, etc. Its really just spectacular. I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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San Diego, California

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I spent the majority of the day Saturday driving from Sedona, AZ to San Diego, CA, which is an amazing place. San Diego, is one of the southern most cities in CA and I saw all sorts of border patrol on my way into the city. Because it is so southern, it is also relatively warm this time of year. For the 3 days that I was there I experienced nothing but good weather.

Upon arriving in San Diego I did what I often do when I get into a new city and seek out a Barnes and Noble, they are great places to get a coffee, jump on the computer, steal internet and electricity and plan your next move. You can also pick up a new book while you’re in there.

I did a few hours worth of research on what there was to do and see in San Diego and decided it was a city that’s better seen driving than walking, because there are so many distinct neighborhood that aren’t very close together. The city itself is beautiful, very clean, lots of beautiful buildings and gardens. Even driving on the highway you are surrounded by wild plants, or elegant houses, not like most highways where there isn’t much to look at. After filling my tank at $4.15/gal I found a nice neighborhood, parked my car, and went to sleep in the back.

The next day I was up fairly early and after a Starbucks run, and brushing my teeth in their bathroom, I headed to La Jolla, an awesome beach town that’s just full of shops and restaurants, but is right on the ocean. It was a perfect day, 75 degrees and sunny and I just wanted to be near the ocean. In La Jolla there is an awesome cove, where you can walk down on the beach and get within 25 feet of seals that are resting on the beach and swimming in the cove, there’s also a jetty you can walk out on and the water is so clean and clear you can see down into it and see all the birds and seals swimming around. There were even some kids, couldn’t have been older than 15, in wet suits who ran to the end of the jetty and jumped off and were swimming around with the seals. It was really something to see, if I had a wet suit I probably would’ve joined them. The water is so blue, its unbelievable, the photos actually depict it quite well.

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After spending a considerable amount of time on the beaches, wading in the water, watching the surfers I walked around town, had some excellent banana foster flavored gelato and looked in the art galleries, one of which had a really unique Dr. Suess exhibit, that had some awesome stuff. That afternoon I headed out of La Jolla, back towards San Diego and stopped for happy hour at Arterra where I had an excellent blackberry mojito and flatbread pizza.

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Once the sun set I made it to Carlsbad, about 20 minutes north of San Diego where my host for the night, Carlos and his family lived. Carlos works in the same field as my dad, and one year was stuck in Massachusetts for Christmas, so he spent it with us, and so he was nice enough to let me crash in their spare room while I was in San Diego. And let me tell you, a bed and hot shower are always so much nicer after spending a night in the car.

Monday morning was beautiful again I decided drove north to Oceanside, just another beach town. I wandered on the pier for a while and watched the surfers and the huge birds, I don’t know what they were, that sat on the pier waiting for the fisherman to toss them fish.

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I spent the majority of the day sitting on the beach and reading a book. It was wonderful, it’s not like going to the beach in the middle of the summer in New England, where its loud and crowded. I was on a beach, sitting on the rocks just past the sand, looking at the ocean, and occasionally a person, or a couple would walk by, but for the most part I had the beach to myself. It was so tranquil and peaceful.

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That afternoon, it started to cool down, which it does very rapidly in San Diego. When the sun is high you can be very comfortable in a tee-shirt and flip-flops. The second the sun drops and you’re in the shade, it’s very chilly, and a sweatshirt and socks and shoes becomes much more comfortable. When that happened I headed to a happy hour in the Gaslamp District, which is known for its nice restaurants. I ended up at Las Hadas, where I had a few G&Ts and a huge pulled pork sandwich.

Ended up turning in pretty early Monday night at Carlos’s and got a good night sleep, because Tuesday morning I left San Diego and headed north!

Sedona, Arizona with my crazy parents

So, last time I had just left Carol and all the Wormtown hippies and was heading north. Sunday morning after the party in Tucson I drove the 3.5 hours north to Sedona, where I checked into the hotel that my parents had booked for their anniversary, unfortunately for them, they were delayed until Tuesday due to snow. The drive from Tucson to Sedona was miserable. I was tired, dirty, and worst of all, hungover. I arrived, checked into the hotel and spent the next 24 hours in a state of complete relaxation, I took my first shower in four days, I laid in a bed for the first time in over a week, I ordered pizza to my room and watched The Walking Dead marathon that was on all day. You must understand, I am really enjoying this adventure that I’m on, but being constantly on the move, and crashing people’s couches means that you never get a second to fully relax, so if I get a huge hotel room to myself for a couple of nights, I’m very content to lounge, veg, and rejuvenate.

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Monday I was feeling much better, but didn’t do much of anything. I did manage to hit the grocery and liquor store and cook myself dinner. My parents arrived on Tuesday evening, and we were all starving so we went out for dinner and drinks and managed to make it to bed at a decent hour.

Wednesday, however, was my parents anniversary and we had a great day. We started the day with margaritas, then took a Pink Jeep Tour into the mountains, drove over crazy terrain, and saw some awesome rocks.

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When we were done we decided we needed more margaritas and had a snack and we drove back towards the hotel for dinner. However, we decided we weren’t really ready for dinner, so I went back to the liquor store and got all the fixings, and started making our own margaritas, which were obviously delicious. By 8pm we were starving, so we went to an amazing restaurant called Ken’s Creekside, where I switched to a nice Hendrick’s martini, the rents however stuck with their tequila. We ate Ahi tuna tartar, buffalo chicken pizza, and escargot, it was unbelievable. After returning to our room we tried our best, but regrettably, could not finish the tequila we had bought. It was not a day for the faint of liver.

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Thursday morning, surprisingly, both of my parents we up bright and early, and had gone out for bloody-marys before I even made it out of bed. Not as surprisingly, I slept until after 11, and then felt awful half the day. We drove about 45 minutes up into the mountains to a mountain town called Jerome, and had the best cheeseburgers at the Haunted Hamburger, which were just what I needed, then just walked around, looking around the town most of the day, it was full of history and art galleries. Last night we were in pretty early and just lounged around.

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Cheddar, bacon, tomato, guacamole at the Haunted Hamburger

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This morning, we got up, started the day with a cocktail, then went hiking. We hiked up to an area the Native Americans refer to as The Vortex, which is a spiritual area that is supposed to balance out your yin and yang, and then out to Boynton Canyon. The sights are amazing out here, all of the rock formations are incredible, in both size and color. No description I give does it justice, and even photos don’t accurately display the grandeur. Its also not just when you go hiking, any view out have has these towering rocks formations, the colors are awesome, the weather is awesome, around 70F today, I even got a little color. However, I am definitely the youngest person in Sedona by about 25 years. Its a huge retirement community and their major money-maker is tourism, but its mostly really cool older people who wanted to retired somewhere warm and beautiful.

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Tomorrow morning we check out, my parents drive to Phoenix and jump a plane back to the snowy northeast, meanwhile, I’ll be heading west. California, here I come!

Tucson, Phoenix, Chandler and Tempe!

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Arizona Sunset

The next great adventure turned out to be in Tucson, AZ where the annual Gem and Mineral show is going on, and also where my good friend Carol-Anne is working for Wormtown Trading Company during the show. She literally stands in a booth all day selling jewelry and shiny rocks to people, mostly hippies, then at night she and all her hippie coworkers (whose names include J-Ro, TJ, Alyssa, Long Hair, Mitch, Pat, and Mark) hang around, drink and smoke and then she sets up her bed in the same booth she’s been working in all day. I was happy to show up with some beer and hang out with all the hippies until we went to bed. The owners of the company were really cool and welcoming, the husband actually graduated from my high school.

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Me and Carol-Anne being up to no good!

Tuesday morning Carol and I woke up behind the booth and Carol had Tuesday and Wednesday off, so we decided to head up to Phoenix, where her friend and my cousin lived. We didn’t have much of a plan at all, but we arrived in Phoenix Tuesday around noon, it was sunny and about 80 degrees, so we opted to find a nice patio and drink for a while. Then we enjoyed food from Pita Jungle, where they also had $4 margaritas as well as some of the best Mediterranean food I’ve ever had.

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Mojitos!

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Pita Jungle! I’m sure Carol will be thrilled to see this online…

 

 

 

 

 

 

As it started to get dark we decided that we needed a plan so I called my cousin Tommy, who was nice enough to let us crash his pad that night. He didn’t get out of work until eleven so we went into Tempe and wandered around Mill Ave, which is their college party street. There were some really cool places and needless to say, we drank some more. By the time we got to Tommy’s Carol was fading fast, she’s much older than me, nearly 25, practically a real adult, so she passed out. Tommy and I, however, decided we should stay up until 5am drinking beer, that is how we were raised after-all.

After a very brief sleep and a shower, Carol and I headed out to N Counter for breakfast, which was amazing.

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The Killer ~ Egg, bacon, gorgonzola, tomato on focaccia!

Then we met back up with Tommy and wandered around Tempe some more, again the weather was beautiful, and we ended up in Tempe Beach Park, where we walked around (me barefoot) and laid around in the grass ,the park and the beach is nice, but the water is reminiscent of toxic waste.

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The Beach

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The Water

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Carol!

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Tommy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made plans to meet up with Carol’s friend Lauren, who actually graduated high school with us, but who I barely knew. She lived in Chandler, right outside Phoenix with her boyfriend Ryan, and they’re were both really nice. We spent the entire evening just sitting around, drinking beers, smoking, watching hockey, and eating pizza. It was nice to just relax after being on the move for most of the past 3 days. We went to sleep early, woke up early and made the drive back to Tucson because Carol had to get back to work.

Over the next 2 days, we slept behind the booth, waking up around 7am to open the booth. All of the hippies would come out of the woodwork and get ready to work for the day and I would abandon Carol and head out to explore Tucson. During that time I spent a good amount of time at Barnes and Noble, stealing their internet and looking for summer jobs, I climbed a mountain in Tucson Mountain Park, which was actually really cool. The path only went about two-thirds of the way up the mountain, but I made it all the way to the top, it was a nice day, windy, sunny, perfect for hiking.

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I read a couple of books, ate at a delicious Mexican restaurant called El Charro, and explored Tucson a bit. I was also thrilled to find a Dunkin’ Donuts in Tucson, they are much less frequent out here then back east.

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Mini Enchiladas from El Charro!

One thing I must mention is that Thursday night, after the booth was closed there were some stragglers hanging out and smoking with us, including a beautiful woman, wearing pink pajama pants, knee-high boots, a fur coat and walking a cat on a leash, and no one even blinked. She was just one of many, many colorful people I saw while in Tucson.

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Cat on leash!

I returned to the booth a bit earlier on Saturday night because Mark, the owner of Wormtown Trading Co., was having a party. He loved a good party, and also figured it was a good way to get buyers. We hung out until about 2:30 in the morning in the booth, just drinking and hanging out with all the hippies, the ones who worked for Wormtown, hippies from other booths, and customers. After lots and lots of drinking one of the hippies decided he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, so he borrowed a $10 ring from Carol’s booth, proposed, she said yes, then he had to go to the ATM to get the $10 to pay for the ring, it was hilarious, meanwhile her 7 year-old son, who was pretty badass was showing me magic tricks and hustling drunks out of money, it was quite a site to see.

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The Booth and The Party

Woke up in the booth Sunday morning hung over and sore, my last shower was 4 days before and I decided it was time to hit the road. Bade farewell to Carol and all her Wormtown coworkers, and jumped back on the road!

“And if you feel just like a tourist
In the city you were born
Then it’s time to go
And define your destination
There’s so many different places to call home”

Albuquerque, NM

I spent the day Friday driving from Denver to Albuquerque, it’s about a 7 hour drive, which at this point in the trip is like nothing to me. I used to hate riding in the car, and anything longer than half an hour was such a long time to me. Now, I’m very content to set the cruise control, watch the scenery, take photos as I go, and sing at the top of my lungs.

I arrived in Albuquerque just as the sun set and met up with my host, Efrain, who is a senior at New Mexico University where he majors in sign language. He told me that we would be going to meet some of his friends at the bar, I didn’t know until about half an hour before we got there that it was Deaf Night Out, where people from the deaf community, as well as interpreters, and signing students all meet at a bar and socialize. I have never been in such a large room, with so many people, that was so quiet. Fortunately, most of the people sitting around me we not actually deaf, they were mostly students, and Efrain gave me a tutorial before we got there, so I can now sign “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Dan, and I can’t sign,” which came in very handy. I also learned other key words, such as ‘snowboarding’ and ‘beer’ which, in reality, is all I’ll ever need.

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Saturday I slept til almost 11, which is unheard of so far on this trip, but felt really good. When I woke up Efrain’s roommate Mario made us a huge delicious breakfast composed of eggs, home fries, and chilaquiles, which is a spicy tortilla based dish. So filling and so good.

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After breakfast I headed out to Old Albuquerque, which is a section of town that looks very old and authentic. Its full of shops, food, art, street vendors, etc. There are also a couple of museums that I really cheap, so I spent a couple of hours wandering around the New Mexico Museum of Natural Science, which had an awesome dinosaur exhibit. It was really nice to be able to wander around outside in a tee-shirt. It was about 65 degrees on Saturday and not a cloud in the sky.

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Efrain took me out that night and we ate barbarcoa tacos at a local taqueria, look up barbarcoa if you’re feeling brave. We also went to the most Mexican grocery store I’ve ever seen, they had every type of Mexican food, and all sorts of prepared food, including tamales, of which we got the pineapple flavored ones, they were really good. Tamales are basically cornmeal, sugar, and fruit wrapped in corn husks and steamed. They’re really simple and not too sweet. Last stop was a park that was up on a cliff and overlooked the Rio Grande and all of Albuquerque.

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Apparently Mexicans Eat Cow Tongue…

Sunday, I slept late again and we decided it would be a good day to sit around all day. I did some online research, which is never-ending when you’re traveling as much and as quickly as I am, I checked e-mail, looked for jobs, etc. We watched the Lorax, just as we finished that Mario texted saying that he was inviting some people back from church. Thirty minutes later the entire apartment was full of religious Mexicans, including lots of kids. They were all really nice, and cooked an awesome meal. We all sat and watched the Super Bowl together. A couple of the teenage boys knew what they were talking about, but no one else knew anything about football, they told me, “Mexican’s don’t care about the Super Bowl, they just need an excuse to party.”

After everyone left Mario, Efrain, and I stayed up late watching Breaking Bad, which I think I’m now hooked on. Monday morning I woke up, showered, had some oatmeal and said farewell to my hosts and to Albuquerque! On to the next great adventure!

Denver, Colorado

After leaving Madison I drove 8 hours to Omaha, NE where I had my first experience with Airbnb.com, which is like couch surfing, but people rent out rooms in their house for money. I couldn’t find a couchsurfing host in Omaha so I paid $25 to stay in a woman’s spare room. I didn’t arrive until late, and left pretty early the next morning but I was able to do a load of laundry, and cook dinner and breakfast. Overall, it was a good experience, not as wonderful as couchsurfing, mainly because it costs money, but still pretty cool, and still cheaper than a hotel.

I left Tuesday morning and made the remaining 8 hour drive to Denver, CO. I have no real interest in the middle of the country, and after driving through Iowa and Nebraska I’m glad I didn’t spend any real time there. It is endless cornfields and fields of cattle.

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Denver, CO was high on the list of place to go however. When I left Omaha Tuesday morning I had no idea where I would be staying in Denver that night, but got several offers during my 8 hour drive, some from friends of friends and some from strangers. I opted to stay with a couchsurfing host who lived right in the middle of downtown, though he was only able to host my for one night. My host was 25 years-old and a huge hippie, so when I got there we drank and smoked and watched a very informative science documentary and went to bed. He left for work the next morning and I set out to explore the city. After several hours of research on Denver I narrowed it down to 5 places I really wanted to see and after mapping it out set out on foot on an eight mile loop that ended me back near my car.

First stop was a cafe called SAME cafe, which is a non-profit cafe where the menu changes daily and the food is free!! You can eat as much or as little as you like and you may either make a donation in cash or donate some of your time to work the cafe. All profits go to charity. It is a very cool concept that I had to see for myself. I went in and had some grilled chicken pizza, which was delicious and left a donation in the box on the counter.

Next was Tattered Cover Bookstore, which is a massive and very well-known bookstore in Denver. To get there I had to walk down The 16th St. Mall, which is just a street that no cars are allowed on, but has free bus rides up and down the one mile street and is covered in shops, restaurants and bars. I looked around in some of them and made my way to Tattered Cover, I poked around there for a while and sat down and read a little. It was in a huge old brick building and had a huge selection of books. After all this walking, next stop was The Great Divide Brewing Co. which offers free tours of the brewery, and has a small bar in the brewery with $4 pints and $1 ‘samplers’ which are about 5oz each. The brewery is not huge, but has been awarded ‘Best Brewery in the US’ and has ranked top 10 in ‘Best Brewers in the World’. Seeing the brewery and how it all works was very interesting, and surprisingly simple. The beer was awesome, I tried about 5 different kinds, all of which were good and really fully flavored.

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Now that I had a little buzz on, I walked a couple of miles across the city to West 13th Ave, which is made of mostly art galleries. It was late in the day by the time I made it there so some of the galleries were closed, and the ones I saw had a lot of Native American art, which isn’t really my style.

Last stop of the day was The Rooster and The Moon cafe, where they had 24oz PBRs and I had a delicious tuna melt. I also was able to get on the computer and book myself a hostel to stay for the night. Afterwards I made the trek back to my car and drove to the hostel I would be staying at. It was very large and very clean for a hostel, especially because it was less than $20 a night. Though I did play Ruzzle for a while before bed I was asleep by 11, because the following day I was snowboarding.

I did a lot of research on snowboarding in Colorado, and there are a lot of options, all of which are insanely expensive. You can find deals but most have to be bought anywhere from 72 hours to one week in advance, or you have to ride for 5 days. I didn’t have time for any of that so I had to suck it up and pay $104 for a lift ticket at Winter Park, about 90 minutes outside of Denver. Though that was a tough pill to swallow it was well worth it and I had an awesome day shredding freshies in the trees most of the day, which is just about the best kind of snowboarding there is. Though I was missing my shredding crew, I survived just fine working through the foot of powder all day. I arrived at the mountain around 9:30 and rode until 4pm, taking only half an hour for lunch. It really was some of the best snow I’ve ever ridden, the mountains out here put the east coast to shame.

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The views in Colorado are also probably some of the greatest I’ve ever seen. Driving into the city was beautiful at night, driving out of the city into the mountains the next day was even more majestic, and all the way up the mountain I couldn’t stop snapping photos out my windshield (sorry mom). Between driving to and from the mountain I took over a hundred pictures of the intense scenery. Driving out of the city toward the mountains you can see the whole city, the mountains in the background. It’s really fantastic.

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After snowboarding all day I was understandably exhausted and returned the The Rooster and The Moon but opted for Hendricks and margherita pizza with grilled chicken, which was really awesome as well.

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I headed back to the hostel and stayed up late lurking the internet and also planned my route, because I headed out of Denver Friday morning.

Overall, Denver is a very cool city, and if I could have found a free place to stay I probably would’ve stayed a few more days. There is a lot to see, good places to shop and to eat, and it surrounded by mountains. Also, I paid $2.79/gal of gas in Denver, cheapest yet on this trip!