A Travellerspoint blog

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Well, I should keep this up more. I've had some awesome trips in the last three years, but just no time to do this much work to blog them! I even just saw the draft that I started of a Reno/Tahoe/Tonopah/Vegas/Arizona trip I took.. Darn it.

Well, thanks for visiting! I hope you find something fun in here.

These are the documented trips on this blog:

2012 drive across the country on I-10 from Santa Monica to Jacksonville, FL

2013 Route 66 drive!

2013 trip to Seattle and Portland for rock shows

Posted by JustinRiner 17:16 Comments (2)

Seattle and Portland: November 6-11

More than a vacation- a wonderful, busy, affirming trip full of great people and great music.

So, I'm about to write a blog entry that is gonna get really long. It covers about five very full days full of really cool experiences and wonderful people. I debated breaking it up into days, but then chose not to. You may need to take a few breaks or may want to just scroll and look at the photos, but if you like me, you'll probably appreciate the amount of fun I had and the people I spent time with and the music I saw performed and the excitement in meeting some of my favorite musicians.

First off, this trip was kinda inspired by three things all at once. For YEARS, Brooke has offered that I could stay with her and her husband in Portland when passing through to Canada. I never did take her up on that, but she mentioned it again when we were chatting a few months ago. Around the same time, a show featuring Nada Surf and Mates of State was announced in Seattle, and I mentioned to my friend Sharin that it would be fun to have tea with her. She said we should do it in the woods. Thanks to the concert, taking Brooke and Sharin up on their offers was given a time frame and more and more people/events started to fill into the trip.


For all of my traveling, I don't fly often. In fact, it has been at least four years since I traveled and longer since it was anything more than two hours or so. Despite my dad being a mechanic on planes, the road trip is kinda ingrained in me and I get uncomfortable on planes- 50% of my plane trips have been to Europe, so that kinda formed my idea of airtravel. That said, I found flights at a good price and from Burbank, so it was easy.

My mom dropped me off at the airport, I had an hour flight to Oakland where I stayed for 45 minutes until I got back on a plane to Seattle. The flight to Seattle was awesome- 100 empty seats. It's not too often, I imagine, that an airline strictly forces its passengers to spread out! I arrived got a taxi and quickly arrived at my hotel where my DIAMOND MEMBER status gave me an upgraded king room with a jacuzzi.

I was charmed by a few other things that had sentimental value as well. From my little balcony, I could see the elephant car wash sign that was a focus of my 2001 tour. I also was excited to discover that this hotel was right next to the Travelodge that I enjoyed a couple years in a row on my way to Canada where I kinda discovered my love of Seattle and making my own walking tours. The hotels were only three blocks from the Space Needle and Experience Music Project- both of which I have fond, sentimental memories of.

Speaking of walking tours, I wasn't ready to be confined to a hotel room- even with a bubbly tub. I headed a few blocks to another place I have fond memories of: the 5 Point Cafe. On one of my Canada trips (while I stayed at the Travelodge), this place was recommended to me and it is perfectly what I was looking for back then and once again this night. It's a 24 hour bar and cafe and the situation when I arrived was perfectly Seattle. I ordered a greesy steak and eggs with a beer and read The Stranger while the TV played "Sid and Nancy" and the jukebox rang out with Dead Kennedys and the sky gently rained outside. It felt (and tasted) great. The people were eclectic and energetic. It was great.
I was impressed with how many cool things were happening in Seattle this week alone. Scanning through The Stranger created a long list of events that I wish I were seeing while there including appearances by Tavi from Rookie, Lindy West, MANY concerts, and the affordable art show. Sure, there are tons of things to do in LA, but a lot of them are fluff.

After walking back in the rain (and buying a six-pack of Shocktop's apple beer which I fell in love with at teh brewery in St. Louis this summer) it was time to fill the tub and watch some TV in the jacuzzi.


I awoke fairly early because I was excited to get over to the Pike Market. The original plan was to eat at one of the restaurants for breakfast, but I ended up not doing that. Despite skipping breakfast, it was a beautiful morning (gray, but it felt wonderful)!

I left my room between 9:30 and 10. My hotel has a nice lobby with a fireplace and free tea.
The sky was not dropping too much water, but i did feel silly not having brought an umbrella to Seattle in fall. Oh well. I grabbed a cup of tea, put in my iPod, and started my walk to Pike. On my Route 66 trip, I saw a lot of amazing things, but had my route planned out well. It was rare to just take a rambling walk listening to good music, and the one THIS morning reminded me of why I love those walks so much. Just across from my hotel, I was excited to discover the radip station KEXP, which has hosted hundreds of my favorite bands. I loved how the building was painted. I probably should have gone in. Oh well.

I passed a few posters for the BARSUK RECORDS shows that I was attending this night and the next. I intended to nab one during my last day there, but someone beat me to it.

I walked into downtown enjoying the architecture, air, and music in my ears. There is not a direct walk to Pike Market, so I allowed myself to wander a lot, which is part of the joy of these walks.
(the blue accents on that first building don't come through as well as the should in the photo. It was neat)

Ok, so, this next part will probably confound some people, but just take it from me that it was really neat and exciting for me. See, the band I was going to see- and was super excited about- the following night is called THE LONG WINTERS. One of the main members had another band called HARVEY DANGER and I play their Christmas song for my students every year and we discuss it. I always have to explain that Bartell Drugs is like CVS up north. I discuss the name of this chain every year and that has somehow made it significant to me. So, when I happened upon one, it was like a landmark. I was thrilled. It was exciting. I decided I'd buy an umbrella since the rain was teasing all morning and I should probably keep one in my suitcase for trips. It would be cool to know that I bought it in Seattle at Bartell's. I also bought some postcards and, eventually, a canvas bag. I've needed a new bag to take my stuff to and from school since my briefcase died a few years ago and a Bartell's Bag would be a neat, personally exciting thing for me.
As I excitedly exited, the song "Hey Man" by Eels played on my ipod randomly. This song is about how a person has to have ups and downs in life to really enjoy life. Usually, the lyrics about the downs are the focus when I listen to the song, but i was feeling great and it changed the tone for me. This was further significant because it too is a song that I go over with my kids, which was a cool connection.

I arrived to the Pike Public Market right as it was opening. I LOVE it there. I want to buy SO MANY THINGS. There are so many great artisans and foods and scents that I love to just wander back and forth over and over. I especially enjoyed the weekday in fall as opposed to the crowded summer days that I'm normally there. I was very tempted to buy wood carvings by Scott Alberts and honey and flavored nuts and jellies. There is just too much! Plus of course, I have memories of being there in the past and was filled with nostalgia.
(That's the famous fish throwing up there)
The noodles reminded me of a glass sculpture by Chihuly- whose work I've seen on trips to Vegas, Oklahoma City, and Savannah)

After a couple of hours wandering the market, I walked around the neighboring streets and shops a bit including a stop for samples in an oil/vinegar store, a cheese shop, and a tea shop. I also appreciated the sculptures of wind-blown umbrellas that rotate with the wind.

I decided to head back to the Market for one more walk through before heading down to the waterfront and came across another serendipitous event that will go down in my book of TOP AWESOMENESS which is made even more awesome because it was just by chance. My choices that day lead me to be in a certain spot at a certain time and when I looked up, I saw the husband and wife team of MATES OF STATE and their daughters. I traveled to Seattle specifically for their show. I wouldn't be there or on this trip if not for them and here they were enjoying the market feet away from me. Since they were with their daughters, I hesitated in bugging them, but the circumstances were just too awesome, so I chose to. I approached them and apologized to them for interrupting their day, but I was only in Seattle because of their show! Really.

They were incredibly kind to me. They introduced themselves and their daughters, complimented my Imperial Teen sweatshirt, and had a short conversation with me. Their eldest daughter took our photo (a task she probably abhors) and did a pretty good job. This was so thrilling. I hadn't been this excited in a while and the exact timing of it just took me off my feet. Plus, their kindness was just amazing.

Well, in the time since I was last in Seattle, they've been working on the waterfront including a Ferris Wheel, so I headed down there. It feels like a work in progress, but my friend Jenny, a Seattle resident, had never been on the wheel and wanted to, so I killed some time looking around the shops and playing a couple of arcade games.

At 2:00, I headed over to the Copperworks Distillery to sample some gin and vodka while I waited for Jenny to arrive. The alcohol was really good! And the guy behind the bar was friendly and informative. It was such a good day- and not even half done!

After Jenny had her samples, we headed to the Ferris Wheel. Now, at first, it seems that a foggy/drizzily day is a bad idea, but it was SO COOL. It was interesting too because we both felt at peace. It was very quiet and calm and beautiful. We spent the whole ride alternately taking deep breaths, having some gossip, and taking photos. It could have gone for an hour and we would have liked it. We also thought they should serve lunch. It was really, really nice. Were it not for Jenny, I probably wouldn't have gone on the thing and I'm so glad I did.

After our ride, we were both very hungry. I hadn't eaten since the night before and it was 3 in the afternoon! We went to the Pike Seattle Brewing Company brewpub. We had delicious burgers and sampled beers and caught up on things. It had been a few years since I saw Jenny and I have always liked hanging out with her. This was no exception, though I regret we didn't have more time. I really liked the visual style of the restaurant.

I walked Jenny to her bus stop and walked back to my hotel. I'd been pretty much walking a solid five or six hours and was tired. Brooke and Daniel were in town for the show and I had hoped to join them for a drink before the show, but I needed a shower and nap. Then, it was back on the street to walk to Showbox at the Pike.
NO, not showGIRLS... SHOWBOX
The occasion was the fifteenth anniversary of BARSUK RECORDS- the home of many of artists who provided a soundtrack to my early 20s. This was the show that got me thinking of my trip and it was so worth it. Not only did Mates of State and Nada Surf play (The Prom opened reuniting for the first time in a while and featuring a dude from Telekinesis), but the surprise special guest was Deathcab For Cutie, the label's biggest band who could be argued is also one of the biggest bands of this decade. They played acoustic and a bunch of their old songs from when they were just getting started- including "Photobooth," my favorite of all of their songs. It was wonderful and great to watch it with Brooke and Daniel.
The Prom
Mates of State- played a bunch of my favorites of theirs and closed with a Daniel Johnston cover. I can't wait to see them again.
Deathcab for Cutie- Super special surprise guests who were great in this context and small venue
(our friend Jose who is the roadie for Nada Surf)
Nada Surf played their whole album "Let Go" which was amazing as well as a long pile of songs afterward. A great show!! And a finale with Ben from Deathcab on tambourine and vocals.

I bid farewell to Daniel and Brooke and walked back to my hotel. The streets were really moody and I was feeling awesome.IMG_7431.jpg

Despite being after 1 am, I was attracted to the Space Needle and the stuff around it, which looked lovely at night. I'm sure security was a little suspicious, but it felt very freeing and private. I even saw Chihuy (whom I have seen on many trips and was thinking of earlier in the day) has an instillation right next to the Space Needle. unfortunately, I couldn't get a good photo or very close at this hour. It was fun to walk around the park and have it to myself with the attractions illuminated.

After a very long and extremely exciting day, it was time to go to bed- after another hop in the tub, of course.

==November 7th==
Although I had come for the Nada Surf/Mates of State/Deathcab show, I was equally excited about tonight's show. When i went to buy tickets for the first BARSUK show, I saw that the second was The Long Winters playing their full album which I LOVE. Also, the openers were David Bazan and Minor Alps (the side project of Nada Surf's singer along side Julianna Hatfield, whom I adore and have covered in the past).

Before the concert, however, I went and picked up my rental car- another nice walk through downtown.

I took a little different route and found the rental place in another area that I have neat memories of- directly across the street from Cyber Dog. I stopped here on my very first trip up to Canada with my girlfriend at the time for a veggie dog and a paid hour on line. That was 2002 or so... This was back before we carried the internet in our pockets and connecting to the net was rare outside of one's home. I have come here a few times since on various trips. It was kinda a symbol of my first traveling adventures on my own- next to the nation-wise tour the year before, of course, when I first saw the elephant car wash and Space Needle. I guess I didn't realize that Seattle was such a significant place in my growth and lifestyle!

Down the street I was also happy to see The Paramount Theater where many significant bands have played1FABD5E32219AC681776D00D124CC0A1.jpg

Once I had keys in hand; however, I was excited to get out of the city and head to the Fremont neighborhood. Before my trip, I had already read a few things about this area and was excited about it. Coincidentally, the previous night, Jenny told me how I should visit the area she lives in, which was, of course, Fremont. The drive from downtown to Fremont was nice along the marinas. Then, i took a right turn and crossed the Fremont bridge and in moments felt like I was in a different place. Peering across the bridge, one sees old brick buildings alongside some interesting modern buidlings that all feel more like an old east coast town than minutes from Seattle.

I had a list of interesting things to see, but I wanted to stop by the Theo Chocolate Factory first. As soon as I got out of my car, I could smell chocolate in the air.
The factory is in a 100 year old building that is owned by the city. It used to house public transit and was then rented for a long time to Red Hook beer before Theo moved in. The website showed that there were no tours available, however, I figured I'd try and see if they could add one more. I was in luck, I showed up ten minutes before the next tour and the nice tour sales person, Molly, told me there was room on it for me. Like often on my trips, being alone attracts attention and she started asking me questions as did the other guests. I sat on a couch across from everyone and was interviewed for a few minutes before the tour started. As a joke, I decided to start growing a beard for my Portland trip to "fit in," but I started growing it late and it was not very effective. Molly decided, however, that I needed a beard net anyway.

Just as nice as Molly was my tour guide Steven who started the tour by explaining the sources of the cocao, the company's human rights philosophies, and, of course, giving us tons of good samples. Two random facts: the abandoned shells are given to the city for compost and the name of the factory comes from the type of chocolate- theobroma- which is reflected in the logo as well. The tour does a good job giving a variety of tastes and allowing a visitor to actually learn about the place. I liked the company and was glad that I had came and attempted to get on the tour.


We were walked through the factory and process including touring through the confection room where we had more samples (I particularly enjoyed the apple cider caramels). I was impressed/amused by their kosher areas and specific kosher sinks.

The hour-long tour ends up, of course, in the gift shop where I got to try even more of their chocolate! It was a really nice visit. After I had way too much in the sample department, I walked a block to the water front for a really nice walk. I loved seeing the Pacific Northwest in the fall. The leaves were beautiful and the waterfront was a great walk. I was greeted by two dinosaurs and continued down the walk while calling home to talk to my mom.
This is the "Dreamer of World Peace" statue that was dedicated in 2010. It is of Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the World Harmony Run.


After a bit of a walk, I went back to my car, though I felt I could continue walking for years. I had to take a drive to the base of the other bridge in town to visit a really fun, unqiue attraction. I knew I was nearby when I saw this street sign:
I turned to my left and, there at the end of the road right under the bridge is THE TROLL!!
I don't know why I've never heard of this guy before, he's a trip and while I visited him, a stream of people kept coming and going. In one hand is a VW bug and he's been tattooed recently on his knuckles with "thug life." While I sat there enjoying watching the people pose for pictures and climb on the troll, I felt a tap on my shoulder and Jenny was there! I don't know why I didn't think to take a picture of her, but she was in a rush between her dance rehearsal and work, so we barely said hi before she continued on her way, but, again, i appreciated the serendipity of just happening to be there in the small window of time that she'd be passing by. I sat there for a while enjoying good music in my ears and watching the visitors enjoy themselves.

From there, I walked into what I guess you'd call the city center to see more sites.

Right at the center of town was an incredibly rare and controversial piece- a giant statue of Lenin! This was a real statue from the Slovakia that was left behind on its side in the snow after the fall of communism. It is extra unique in that it was a government commission and one of the few (if not only) to portray Lenin with weapons. An American paid to have the 7-ton statue brought to Seattle. It had a few locations nearby before landing here strangely out of place and yet someone appropriate as well. He's also been augmented with red paint added to his hands.

A few blocks away, I arrived at the center of the universe.. interesting. Last summer, I visited the center of the world (near Yuma), so it's not too surprising that the center of the whole universe is only about a thousand miles away. On a small island in the middle of an intersection is the "documented" center of the universe.

A few blocks away is the "Waiting for the Interurban" statue which is a purposely interactive statue that people decorate depending on what's going on around town or holidays.

I walked across the Fremont Bridge to get back to my car and enjoyed the views of the waterfront as well as found the neon representation of Rapunzel in the tower.


Below is a real 53 foot Cold War era rocket attached to a store and then a planet hovering across the street

I originally planned to head back near Pike for dinner at a place that Brooke and Daniel suggested, but, not knowing when Jenny would get off work, I decided to eat in Fremont and hope she'd get off in time for a beer. She didn't, but I had an interesting dinner of pork belly sliders and some interesting "Devil's Shrimp" or something.
I had spent six hours or so in Fremont and there is still more to see and try, but I had to head back to my hotel for a little rest before the night's show.

I arrived a little late to The Neptune, but was pleased to find Daniel from Nada Surf (last night's headliner) out front and met him for the first time. he was super nice and had his friend take a photo. Instead of counting down to one for the photo, she said "ready, set, go" and so we ran at the camera.

Fortunately, I arrived in time to see Minor Alps play their first live show together. They were quite good, but seemed to have a few nerves worked up. I was happy to see their first show and they sounded great.

Up next was David Bazan, whom I had seen a couple times with his band Pedro the Lion, but never solo. Tonight, he was performing with The Passenger String Quartet. Even though I knew none of the songs, I was captivated. He is a passionate performance with a great voice and striking lyrics- so being backed by a beautiful quartet was just amazing. Gorgeous. He also called to those at the bar in the back (Seattle seems to have divided drinking sections in the venues leaving the under 21 kids up front and the drinkers in the back). He said, "When I go to a show, I take two or three shots and then head up front with the kids. You'll find your soul down here."

And then it was time for the headliners. The Long Winters is one of the rare bands that I saw open for another band and I loved instantly. I bought their CD and love every song on it. THEY are the ones whose Christmas song I play every year for my kids that discusses Bartell Drugs. Some years, I play another of their songs as well. I'm not sure why, but I never thought I'd see them play again. They don't tour much and for some reason I never bought another of their albums, which is weird considering my love of "When I Pretend to Fall." So I was incredibly excited to see them and that they would be playing the full album in its entirety! AND IT WAS SO GOOD. The singer/songwirter and the keyboardist (of Harvey Danger) have INCREDIBLE stage presence. They are hilarious and great musicians. It was a SHOW.. the kind that I wanted to try to produce back in the day.. I didn't realize how much I loved them and these songs. i saw a bunch of great music on this trip, but this set was my favorite. I went straight home and bought a ticket for their LA show next month. I don't want to miss a chance to see them.

Another great night and the trip was only half over! After their first encore, I drove back to my hotel (around 1 am) and fell asleep quickly.

Here is a sample of the banter and one of their great songs!

==November 8th==
I woke a bit early and checked out of my hotel to head to Tacoma to meet up with Raye! I have not seen her in years, but think of her often.. I have her art in my front room and people always ask me about it, plus, thanks to facebook, I get to keep up to date on her continuing work and a recently released successful zine!

We met up at Dirty Oscar's Annex.. which is a kinda weird mix of different things (bar, cheesy restuarant, neighborhood diner).. but with great breakfast! And, on the way, I passed Jason Lee Middle School, which is only funny to a few people- myself included.
Raye and I had a great time. We sat at the table for a bit over two hours and talked non stop. She's such a neat girl and was very kind to me. We did a lot of reminiscing and catching up and I wish I could see her more!

When we finally got up, I did a little back tracking and went to the Emerald Queen Casino, which I always pass on my way to Canada, but never have stopped at. I allowed myself $40 and half an hour to get a little blackjack fix. I didn't play any slots because they didn't have the kind I like. I may have to stop being so picky in the future cause it seems like these digital high minimum bet machines are the future. It's funny that I've passed this place dozens of times and never stopped. It was a just ok place (turns out Raye used to do some graphic design for them)- but I did love that they had free hot coca! Oh yeah! Anyway, at the half hour mark, I had turned my $40 into $72. I took my winnings and hit the road to Portland.

The two and a half hour drive to Portland was ok. After so much excitement and good people, it was crazy boring, but i did like seeing Woodland- a town I have good memories of with my dad from my younger days heading to Canada. Finally, i arrived at the Portland airport, turned in my car, walked through the creepy hallway, and was picked up by Brooke and Daniel! yay! They showed me the Hollywood Bowl by their house.

Brooke and Daniel have an awesome sized basement with a practice space for their band. We didn't get a chance to play, but next time we will.

After settling in a bit and catching up, Daniel went to work and Brooke and I went out for the evening. Our first stop was Bollywood cafe, an Indian restaurant that had a line out the door. The food was really good and hanging out with Brooke was nice.

With a little more time before the Minor Alps show, we decided to get some ice cream next door at Salt and Straw (which also had a line out front). This place is known for its organic and creative flavors. Brooke told me that they have a rotating seasonal menu. Currently, it was a perplexing collection of Thanksgiving flavors. I was happy (as was Brooke, as you'll see below) that they let us try a couple favors. I attempted the Blue Cheese flavor before selecting their Salted Caramel Turkey (which was actually brittle cooked in duck fat). It was great.

With our tummies full, we headed to the Hawthorne Theater for the Minor Alps show. Our friend Jose was in the parking lot who, though you can't tell from the photo, was doing quite a jig.

Brooke and I caught part of the first band but weren't to into it, so we spent the second opener's set in the lobby area talking to Jose and Matt (of Nada Surf/Minor Alps).

When the Minor Alps took the stage, it was miles ahead of the previous night's show. First off, they had time to relax. Last night was their first live show and they had a limited time. For us, at their second show, they played over an hour and included their individual songs as well as those from their album.. The first night, I was just happy to see them, the second left me wanting to see them again! It was a wonderful show.
Click here to see them play "Inside of Love"

Click here to see them play "Fruit Fly"

On the way out, we walked into the other space in the building with this crazy loud (and precise) band playing a metal version of "Amazing Grace"

After the show, we weren't ready to head home, so Brooke showed me to the night scene in Portland on Mississippi Street. The bar she had in mind was PACKED and so we tried another. It wasn't packed, so the bar tender said they were on last call, so we walked to a third one called InterUrban and had GREAT old fashioneds, which we both like. They even had the awesome large ice cubes. I had like three, she had two, we were there for well over an hour..

We headed back to Brookes and I greeted my bedmates and passed out almost instantly.

==November 9th==
I woke up in time to see Daniel just back from his overnight shift at the hospital and say "night, night" to him. After that, Brooke and I went off to breakfast at Petite Provence- a French bakery. They messed up our party info and we ended up waiting extra long for our table, but had a nice walk while we waited. It's in an artsy area with some nice houses nearby.
This place is called SPANK- check out the upper window


After breakfast, I drove over to Sharin's house, which i fell in love with. She fills a loft space.. kinda... with a bedroom and bathroom. The street side has a nice sunny window and the back window in the kitchen overlooks a garden. It's a lovely location with some bars and stores down the street. Sharin is into herbology (is that the correct word?) and her apartment is wonderfully fragrant with neat jars of neat stuff. She even has a classic old bathtub on legs.

After allowing me to admire her apartment for a little bit, Sharin packed picnic basket with ginger tea, cups, and chocolate for us to enjoy in the forest. She then drove us to the over view of the Gorge. Sharin was lovely to be around. We hung out as part of the good ol' Bates Hotel gang (2001 music stuff) and have been loosely in touch since. I hung out with her once about six or seven years ago on my way home from Canada, but we didn't get to talk this much. It was wonderful to catch up and our conversation flowed the way conversations are supposed to with cool people.

She took me up to The Vista House where we had a beautiful view of the river and mountains. It was windy, so we didn't spent too much time enjoying the view, but I totally ate up the inside! We were greeted by Teddy Roosevelt!

The Vista House is a really neat spot and sits on the Old Columbia Highway which, like Route 66, represents a specific time and need in our country's history. The bottom level of the Vista was a small museum with old photos and stories. I totally loved it.

From there, we stopped at a number of waterfalls and did some small walks. Along the way, Sharin pointed out different plants and what they're used for and had me taste some. I felt like I had paid for a special eco tour or something. It was really fun to listen to her talk about the things around us.. oh yeah, and the waterfalls were gorgeous! The rocks below the first one were amazing- really unique! if it were summer, I could see us jumping into the water.


We drove a little further to Wahkeena Falls and walked to the little event/park/camp area away from the other visitors to find a place to ourselves by the stream.

Before pouring our ginger tea, Sharin walked over to one of the trees and pulled off some red cedar to mix in. It was so interesting to have tea created from things around me- and the ginger and cedar were clear flavors. We sat for a little under an hour there just chatting and sipping. I could stayed longer, but the sun was going down and it was time to move on.

Sharin took me by the biggest waterfall further down the highway where most visitors go and a restaurant sits at its base. She was a great host- allowing me to yell at her to pull over with little warning so that I could take pictures or get out and jump a fence to check out an old tunnel in the mountain.

We probably hung out for four hours or a little more and it went by FAST! It would have never occurred to me to go to Portland to visit the forest. I'm so glad Sharin got me out of the city.. but there was more to do in the city!

Fortunately (since I was running late), the place that Aimee wanted to meet up, The Night Light, was not too far from Sharin's house. We had some beer and really good sliders plus, fitting with the whole trip, really nice conversation. Honestly, all of the people that I was able to spend time with on this trip are wonderful people with talents and ambitions and personalities that I admire. After being out in nature, relaxing with Aimee over some beers was really fun. The waitress was nice and the food was good. It was nice to hear what Aimee's been up to and she was great to talk to. We hung out for an hour or two and probably could have just kept chatting, but both had more on our agendas. If I were in town longer, I would have made more time to see her.

I drove back to Brookes and stopped off at the gas station to fill up Daniel's car. I walked in to pay in cash (thanks to those winnings from the Casino!) and ended up goofing off with the lady cashier for like ten minutes. The guy filling my car (as the do in Oregon) probably wondered where I went. I totally felt full of joy after my day and it was funny to even be engaged with the cashier at the gas station. On the counter was a newspaper type thing that just has mug shots. I all of my travels, I've never seen something like this, but the lady said that it's common. I asked how many people she knew- she said three: one customer, one guy from high school, and a kid of one of her friends. Wow. I then asked her if it would be a good way for me to meet women.

Back in the car to meet up with Brooke who was doing school work (Daniel was back at work, unfortunately). We decided to go see a movie. For some reason, that option just sounded great! We chose to see THE SPECTACULAR NOW, a movie I had heard good things about, and Brooke selected the Laurelhurst Theater, which was neat. We only paid $4 and the had good pizza and beer to enjoy during the movie. We both enjoyed the movie and it gave us stuff to talk about after. I'd go to that theater all the time if I lived nearby.
While it wasn't a very "touristy" thing to do, it was perfect for the night.

After the movie, Brooke took me on a tour of downtown to see the neon lights and Portland sign. We drove by Powell's (which I NEED to get to on my next trip) and she told me about some of the characters she knows from when she worked at Starbucks in the area.

We ended up at another bar for some more old fashioneds. I think we also solved the mystery of the meaning of life, or something.

We headed back home sometime after midnight and were exuberant about our shared love of Law and Order: SVU. We sat down to watch an episode but couldn't make it passed the second break and called it a night. I fell asleep instantly.

==November 9th==
Well, it was already the end of my trip, but I'm amazed at how much I got to do and see. I had great conversation with people who were kind and I felt really good about myself and the people in my life- even if I don't get to see them much.

Daniel stayed up so that we could all go to breakfast together at Besaw's. Everything on the menu sounded good and the style of the restaurant was neat. Across the street is one of the Mcmannin's locations- which are some places that I need to explore next time I'm in town. It was a great way to end the trip and talking to the two of them is cool. They're very easy to talk to and really interesting. I was glad to spend so much time with them on this trip- even though it didn't seem like that much!

With the time we had left, Brooke wanted to show me her favorite park, but road work got in the way, so we drove back to their house, dropped off Daniel and headed to the airport. I could not believe that my trip was over- but I really felt so good. I felt really, really good. I think I even walked in and hugged Brooke really hard when I came home the night before. It was more than just a fun get-away. It was great music experiences, great places, new places, getting in touch with great people. Yeah. Then, before I knew it, I was back on the plane and heading home.

Thanks to everyone I got to see and meet!

Posted by JustinRiner 20:03 Comments (1)

2013 Route 66 trip Table of Contents

(To see my 40 day 2012 road trip, click here

Route 66 intro

June 6- Santa Monica to Barstow- Exploring old hotels, giant oranges, the first McDonald's

June 7- Barstow to Kingman- Harvey House, Bottle forests, mountain fishbowls, and hidden grave sites

June 8 Kingman to Williams- Route 66 classics across Arizona

June 9 The Grand Canyon- It's pretty grand

June 10 Jerome, AZ- Jerome, AZ; Maynard's wine; and a deer farm

June 11- Sedona, AZ- Devil's Bridge, eating rattlesnake, and powerful vortexes

June 12- Winslow, AZ- A day overflowing with coolness: Montezuma's Castle, An Abandoned Zoo, 'Nam stories, Standin' on the Corner, The World's Largest Dream Catcher, and then sleeping it off in a Harvey House.

June 13- Winslow to Holbrook- La Posada, The Amazing Painted Desert, Jackrabbit store, and sleeping in a Wigwam

June 14- Gallup, NM- Classic hollywood hotel, rock inscriptions from the 1600s, Awesome old signs, and a beautiful lobby

June 15- Albuquerque, NM- Sky City Pueblo and the open road of Route 66 towns

June 16- Tucumcari, NM- Diving into the Blue Hole, Breaking Bad sites, Tinkertown, a modern ghost town, and a great motel

June 17- Clinton, OK- Ghost towns, the stations of the cross, dirt roads, and the mid-point of Route 66

June 18- Miami, OK- A PACKED DAY featuring a big blue whale, a round barn, Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, an undiscovered artist, and the tomb of Will Rogers

June 19- Miami to Rolla- the Precious Moments Chapel, Bonnie and Clyde's hideout, a vaudeville theater, a transplanted town, and meets the inspiration for CARS.

June 20- To St. Louis- National Vacuum Museum, abandoned sculpture garden, largest rocking chair, and getting my thrill at Blueberry Hill

June 21- St Louis- The arch, Budweiser, and the incredible City Museum

June 22- Springfield, IL- The red brick road, a giant catsup bottle, a storm, the grave of Mother Jones, and some rabbits

June 23- Springfield, IL- Lincoln's home, Lincoln's tomb, a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and the incredible Lincoln Museum

June 24- Hannibal, MO- A Day of Twain, the original corn dog, and a private room above Springfield

June 25- Chicago-The last day of Route 66 featuring The Stanley Cup, A watermelon statue, Paul Bunyon with a hot dog, a phonebooth on a rooftop, Wildmire's bus, and the ending of Route 66

June 26- A day in Chicago- An awesome day featuring the Willis (Sears) Tower, Millennium Park, and deep dish pizza!

June 27-Chicago; Gary, IN; and Richmond, KY- Michael Jackson's boyhood home, Chicago beach, and one of my very favorite people, Susan Waterbury!

June 28- Nashville- Jack White's record shop, The Parthenon, Johnny Cash, and a whole lot of country music

June 29- Nashville- Grand Ol' Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and Jack Daniels

June 30- The Paperclips train, Howard Finster's Paradise Garden, and the Dukes of Hazard Museum

July 1-6- Atlanta, GA- The CDC, Coke World, The 4th of July, and 10,000 teachers

July 7- Atlanta to Tupelo- Girl with the Pearl Earring, African Village America, and Elvis

July 8- Tupelo to Little Rock- A day of music history: Elvis' birthplace, the site of the Devil's most famous deal, and the Delta Blues

July 9- Little Rock to Mt. Pleasant- George Washington's book, Clinton Presidential Museum, and lovely lakes.

July 10- Abeline, TX- See-through bathrooms, old forts, and the Texas frontier.

July 11- to Van Horn, TX-The art of Walter Wick, John Madden Shrine, boyhood home of George W Bush, and another Stone Henge.

July 12- Truth or Consequences, NM- Hot springs and a massage in a quirky New Mexico town

July 13- The Spaceport and back to Gallup, NM- Virgin Galactic's Spaceport, Route 66 Casino, a big detour, and back to the 66.

July 14- back to Kingman- The Petrified Forest and revisiting Arizona 66.

July 15- Oatman and the road home- Revisiting a bit of 66, Oatman, and getting back home

Posted by JustinRiner 12:58 Comments (0)

July 15- The road home

Revisiting a bit of 66, Oatman, and getting back home

It's hard to believe but it had been five and a half weeks since I left Burbank or the 66 and beyond. It has been quite a trip of interesting, historic, and bizarre things.. and now it was time to get home.

I woke up in Kingman hoping to retrace the 66 back to LA, but there is this pull in two directions to go the scenic way versus just get the hell home. However, I did know I wanted to take the old road up through Sitgreaves Pass and Oatman to start my day since I had enjoyed that unique drive so much and had missed Oatman a month ago.

It felt great to head back out of Kingman on that dry road towards the mountains.

Before heading into the hills, I stopped at Cool Springs, which was closed the first time I passed through, though the lighting was neat at sundown.
However, this morning, I got to go into the shop. I had a chat with the guy behind the counter who was filling in for the owner who was out delivering Route 66 brand sodas. The guy behind the counter has a car shop, a salvage yard, another job, and fills in here- plus he lives on the portion of Route 66 that I just came up. It was interesting to hear about his work and schedule and then he filled me in on his upcoming vacation at a place near Monterey called Pacific Grove where he just chills by a lake with no TV or phone.

I bought a couple root beers and headed towards Oatman passing Ed's Camp and the fishbowl again, which I've learned is a natural spring that feeds into the bowl that was built to collect the water. The fish were hard to see this time and there were a bunch of bees, so I kept some distance, but, once again, I just loved that it exists and the view is gorgeous (the photo at the top of this page is from next to the fishbowl).
It's a great overlook and I love that someone/some people made the effort to build the stairs and bowl and add fish. I love that it sits there unnoticed by most people who pass it.

Just up and around Sitgreaves Pass is the spot I discovered at the start of my trip with the "graves" and memorials. I regretted not asking the guy at Cool Springs about it. When I first pulled over here a month ago, a small bell directed me to the edge to find the memorials and it was really a magic feeling. This time, of course, I knew what I was looking for and my goal was to trek down and look at a bunch of them more closely. The wind was not blowing properly for the bell to ring, which is interesting because my experience the first time here was based pretty much completely on the direction of the wind. I would have looked at the valley and hopped back in my car had I not heard that bell. There also was a lot more traffic today, as it was earlier in the day than my firs time, so there was a family there when I arrived and a super cute Canadian couple who pulled in as I left. Again, had I made it through with this many people the first time, I wouldn't have had that bell experience because I would have seen that there was an actual overlook to go to.

All that said, the place was still impressive. There were a couple things I hadn't noticed before and a very old fashioned, sweet note left on the overlook rock meaning that there was magic here for someone else.
To Wendy: I have a very good time. maybe we'll meet here again soon"
There are many types of moments and notes and photos here. Not sure why it didn't occur to me to ask any locals about the spot, but maybe the mystery is better. This place, beyond being a gorgeous view, just feels like it has significance. I'm sure that the reason that these memorials were placed here all have very different stories from very different places each with their own significance that intersect right here.

I took 40-60 minutes to climb around the hill reading and looking around before I continued through the mining area to Oatman.

Oatman is an old mining town that is now a tourist destination for those doing Route 66. The couple blocks of town are busy with cars, people, and wild burros who are not intimidated by people.

I had originally planned to drive as far as the Bagdad Cafe for lunch again, but time was going by much faster than I had planned (not that I'm complaining) and Oatman offers a "wild west show" at 1pm, so I decided to eat in one of the two restaurants to try something new and kill time for the street show.

The stores are a mix of Route 66 merch, western wear, motorcycle shirts, and some art. It was quite different to be here when things were open instead of driving through in the evening like last time. The woman at one store told me to come back in fall when the weather is cooler and it isn't so crowded. I didn't mind either, however.

The Oatman Hotel is no longer a hotel- but it used to be. It was built in 1902 and is said to be the place that Clark Gable and Carol Lombard stayed for their honeymoon. The building has now been connected to one next to it and serves as the centerpiece of the town functioning as an ice cream shop, bar, music venue, and restaurant. I figured it was the place to eat if I was only going to eat in Oatman once. I ordered a burger and a beer from Grand Canyon Brewery.

The "show" was short and silly, but perfect for a place like this. Plus, they asked for donations to give to the Shiner's Hospital.

After the last cowboy fell, I headed back down the highway to the AZ/CA border. Ideally, I was going to take 66 home through Barstow to see Amboy and such... but each time I headed off the interstate to the Route, the time it would take added HOURS and I was at that road weary point where I just wanted to be home. I exited twice and drove for a short distance before turning around- abandoning the old towns just like those who built the interstate. I didn't get to see ROYS or the crater... I flew by the Bagdad Cafe.

The feeling of adventure was leaving me and the excitement of the open road was behind me.

Just like last year, I knew I was getting near home because the sky turned brown after the beauty of New Mexico and Arizona at the same moment that traffic got heavy. What a drag. There are great things about Southern California, but it obviously comes at a cost and I had seen so much open road and beautiful scenery that coming home to this is depressing.

I arrived home from this adventure between 5 and 6 with a lot to unpack and many, many souvenirs of glassware, rocks, petrified wood, keychains, and magnets (many of which were still stowed away in my luggage nooks and crannies when I took this photo)

Now, almost a month after being home, I've finally completed blogging about the trip. I've been home only about two weeks less than i was on the road. I look forward to going back over these entries and reliving the places and processing all that I did. I'm very lucky to be in a position where I can do this and understand that, being so much, it's hard for other people to follow along. I appreciate those people who have!

The idea of Route 66 and the fragments that still exist are such an important part of national and technological history. I hope that the interest in the trip stays popular so that these places can survive. I so much want to go back to small towns in OK or IL to stay a few nights and drop in all of the shops along the city squares.

Maybe next year I'll take a cruise to Greece... but i've been so happy with two summers in a row where I got to explore so much of our country and its history. There is so much here! Such adventures were the only way to follow up ten years of sitting next to the Shuswap Lake in Canada- and oh, I miss that, too.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by JustinRiner 10:03 Comments (1)

July 14- Back to Kingman

The Petrified Forest and revisiting Arizona 66.


After a good rest, I woke up in Gallup ready to get on the road. I got in the car and put in Billy Connolly's Route 66 soundtrack to escort me out of Gallup just like I did a month ago, but going west this time. It is a great collection of music and this time I had a little more appreciate of the Muddy Waters track now that I'd been to Clarksdale.

I drove by El Rancho to see it one more time and then the city park with some statues that I hadn't taken a look at last time. It was an interesting collection of art of different styles and themes.
that last one is called Rock Concert

Right over the New Mexico/Arizona border, is the Chief Yellowhorse/Tomahawk trading post which is owned and operated by the Navajo tribe. It's a fairly big collection of shops and marked by fake animals and teepees on the hillside. When I came by last month, i was actually on the other side of the highway and didn't check out this place. Today, I just drove through. Most of the stores weren't open yet and the "chief's cave" wasn't open. I bet this place does pretty good business and seems to be a fair balance of the tribe history and commerce for a roadside attraction.

I passed Fort Courage again without stopping this time

I then decided to take a detour to try and find the Painted Desert Trading Post in Navajo, AZ which is in ruins along the old 66 which is no longer in use and a few miles from the I-40. It was open from 1940-1956 and, from what I read, is just sitting near nothing over a crest of desert. It sounded like a fun sight, so I exited at the Navajo Rd exit and headed onto a dirt road that reminded me of the one I'd been lost on the night before. The State of AZ even lets you know that you're headed off the grid

Unfortunately, the road is now locked and gated, though i could see where the road continues. The article I read had said how getting a picture of this place is an essential for any die-hard 66 traveler. I got up and stood on the top of my car, but couldn't see it...

I then jumped over the gate and walked to the intersection on the other side... walking to a small hill, but couldn't see anything in any direction.

Again, being alone and with nothing around (and clearly warned about trespassing), I decided not to pursue it anymore. here is one I was just gonna have to give up on, but I did love being out there and standing at the intersection in the quiet of the desert.

After getting back on the road, I was headed towards the Petrified Forest- a place that I LOVED and was really special to me on my way East at the start of the trip. Now, technically, it would add a couple hours to my day and take me a little out of my way if I drove through it (at a cost of $10 admission).

I decided to visit the gift shop to see if they had restocked the postcards so that I could pick up one of the neat Yosemite ones for my dad. When I went in, they didn't have it. However, the girl behind the counter said, they may have it at the shop at the south entrance. Well, I said, I guess I've gotta drive through to find out. It didn't take much convincing. Though, when I paid admission with a $20, the woman gave me 5 $2-bills in change, which was curious.

I was glad I decided to drive through again. It was just as exciting and beautiful as the first time. No magic was lost and I knew where I wanted to head. Since I really was in no rush, I stopped at almost every look out and was able to check out things I didn't the first time.

Since I was entering from the opposite direction than last time, the Painted Desert Inn was at the start of my visit and I was just as entranced, especially by the kitchen, fountain bar, and bottom floor. This is just a neat place. I wish it were still in operation.
These may be the exact same photos I took a month ago...
I kept attempting to leave but walking back in- which has happened many times on this trip. I felt good here and kept feeling like I wanted more. I had barely been 1/3 through the park and was so glad I had come back.

The Route 66 spot was packed! I didn't stop this time since I had it all to myself last time, but it is still amazing to see where the road used to lay as I drove by... it probably intersects where the Navajo Trading Post that I tried to find is.

The amazing, unique thing that I like about the park is that there is this sense of excitement and discovery at every turn with such a wide variety of things to see around each corner. This time I stopped at "newspaper rock" which I hadn't last time. The touch of the train in the distance was awesome.

Then came my favorite part of the park- the TeePees where thousands of years are marked in the gorgeous colors of these hills. I took more pictures when I was here last, but i did do what I had wanted so badly last time- parked and walked out into the field.

Unfortunately, I was a little nervous because hiking OFF trails isn't allowed and, again, I was alone, so I didn't go far. I went far enough though to feel like I was in it and could feel the air and the distance from "reality." It was gorgeous. As i walked back to my car, I stumbled on a rock because that's me. But when I looked down, I realized that they were not rocks, but thousands upon thousands of pieces of petrified wood- many of them gorgeous.

I picked up a few and examined them. I took one back to my car and had a massive internal debate about taking it home- which is illegal, of course. But it was difficult because there was no one around and this place had been TWICE so special to me on this amazing trip. A beautiful piece of petrified wood found in its natural state in this special place was very tempting. However, i finally decided NOT to take it home. I knew I could get away with it and I knew that there were so many thousand other ones, but something didn't feel right about it. It wasn't guilt about breaking the law or even a fear of getting caught, but a guilt about taking from this place that I liked so much. So, I took a photo to take with me and tossed the wood out the window far so that I couldn't find it and instantly felt better.
(There is a longer version of this story which has very silly Justin elements of it which I will be happy to tell in person.. but you get the overall idea and mushiness here)

Once I had liberated the little piece of wood and my conscience, I continued through the park and took time to see things that I rushed through last time to get through the Painted Desert Inn.

Last time, I listened to a lot of REM and Tilly and the Wall... This time a rough cut of the Beach Boys' Smile album provided the soundtrack.

After about two hours in the park, I reached the other end and was very happy about my decision to go through again. Unfortunately, the gift shop at the other end didn't have the Yosemite postcard I wanted, but I was able to buy a few nice pieces of petrified wood as a souvenir. They were not as vivid as the one I picked up or from that very specific spot, but I was fine with it. Now many places (this one included) sell this super soft, polished pieces of petrified wood which, to me, feel like the "nature" has been taken from them, so I was happy to find that they also sold some dusty, natural ones and bought some for some friends too. I also don't feel like I was ripped off- so it was a good compromise without me taking from the park.

There was a short delay between leaving the park and getting to Holbrook because of road work, but it was actually kinda nice because I got out of my car and stretched my legs and enjoyed that gorgeous New Mexico sky, but it wasn't so long of a delay that it killed my mood.

My next stop was one I hadn't seen before: the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Historic Marker 173- the old fort. This little monument made of petrified wood marks the point where followers of Brigham Young set up a fort in a town now called Joseph City after St Joseph.

The rest of the day was revisiting more places I'd been earlier in the trip and it felt a little weird. On my way East, I took almost a week through Arizona and now I was seeing these places again over the course of a few hours.

I stopped in again at the Jackrabbit Trading Post
I was bummed that I JUST MISSED a great photo of the train engine next to the Jack Rabbit sign

I stopped in Winslow for lunch at a place that opened in the 30s called The Falcon Diner. While I was there, "Blueberry Hill" played on the speakers. Sadly, Falcon was one of the biggest disappointments of my trip where as Blueberry Hill in St Louis was a great highlight. The food was bland and the service was bad. Bummer.

I left the freeway for Two Guns again, but didn't drive in like I did the first time. Once again, I wish I were there with someone else who would be willing to explore the grounds. This place is so interesting and there are some great photos to be taken there. It's hard to tell how far back the abandoned zoo goes and I really want to cross that bridge.

I drove by Twin Arrows this time as opposed to taking twenty minutes and trespassing for a photo session last time.
I didn't even get the arrows in the photo this time

I drove through Williams again. It was very rainy and I was glad that it was sunny when I was here last. They also had opened the zipline since I was here.
Also, since I was here there had been a tragic accident killing 19 firefighters in AZ. There were signs of support and tributes all around.

Next up was a revisit to Siegleman. Just like last time, the two main blocks were filled with tourists from a big bus parked outside of Angel's Barbershop. I couldn't recognize the accent, but wherever they were from had some GORGEOUS women! I debated getting food at Snow-Cap (not because of the women), but chose to just walk through the shops again and not stick around too long. I then debated just getting on the bus, but decided it was best not to. I'd be found out quickly. I DID see a photo of Billy Connolly on the wall that I hadn't seen last time from his visit when he was filming his show about 66.
It's awesome how these two small blocks represent very much whats so important about Route 66. I wonder how long that space outside of Angel's sits without a bus outfront. One drives away and another pulls up.

Before long, I was in Kingman for the night. I checked into my hotel and headed to Mr. D's Diner, which I had not been able to visit my first time in town. The infamous caramel root beer was good, but nothing special. The hot dog was AMAZING however and the staff was friendly. I was reading my book about "Hallelujah" which sparked conversation with the waitress. She knew the song as "the one from Shrek" which proved one of the book's major points and so it was perfect she said that. It made me think also about what it's like to live in a place like Kingman- not a tiny town, but fairly small- part of Route 66.. I don't know. It just seems close to bigger places and not quite a small place. What would it be like to be a high schooler here? (I figured most of the waitresses were high school or early college age)
It was a neat little place and I could have (should have?) enjoyed a longer conversation with the staff because they were super nice. It was a good place to have my last trip dinner- very fitting and enjoyable.

Oh, and Oprah was here.

As well as "Buffalo Springfield Revisited," which I'm not sure is a coverband or side project or what.. but since I was reading Neil Young's biography at the start of the trip, it was a minor connection

I took a drive through Kingman and enjoyed the sights before getting to my hotel for the last time on the trip.

One more day of travel and I'll be home and this adventure will be over.

Posted by JustinRiner 10:14 Comments (0)

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