Home September 3, 2012

We made it home last night on the Coho; it is nice to be back in our own place, with familiar faces and smells and the garden and our bed! ūüôā

On the way back we hit a few Mexican¬†restaurants, always a favourite of Jeni and I. Finn, not so much¬†but low and behold he started to like some of the food and had great fun making himself mini tacos’ with refried beans and rice and cheese. This is another one of those side benefits of a trip somewhere, trying new things and discovering new likes and such. Its awesome.

I worked out this morning how far we had gone; in miles it is around/give or take 2016 miles. In kilometres it is closer to 3244 kms. Pretty good trip I think.

When we sit back and look at everything we did on the road it is remarkable that you can squeeze so much into two weeks of travelling. Some planned and a great deal unplanned. The beauty of it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. For anyone looking to plan a trip, I recommend the Redwoods; other than some giant fungus somewhere I believe they are the oldest living things on the planet and you can feel it when you are around them. It is hard to describe them with any great satisfaction, that actually portrays their immenseness, they have to be seen to be truly appreciated.

I may keep this blog alive for myself, as a place to process and ruminate and rant and rave occasionally, as is my want, who knows? I have three online classes about to start this week and may be too busy to bother. So, until next trip, Peace and Love, Steven.

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September 1, 2012 A day from home.

Since we began the journey home our heads have been on getting home, so the blog has had less to put into it However, we did stop at the Oregon Vortex on the way back. The Vortex is similar to the Cosmos in South Dakota but it felt less powerful to Jeni and I and Finn. What is special about these places is how people look and how heights change and perspectives cannot be trusted because they change:

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It is hard to see in pictures but if you look at the height difference between Jeni and I and how it changes depending on which side we are standing on you might get the idea of what goes on at the Vortex. Like I said in South¬†Dakota¬†at the Cosmos it is much more pronounced and its hard to¬†stay¬†for too long as you start to feel dizzy and¬†nauseous. I don’t know what is going on here but it is something to be visited and experienced. I recommend it completely.

Today I did my first Outlet Mall; it was hell! I got some shoes so it was worth it :-).

We are in Kelso, Oregon and plan to catch the 5:20pm ferry from Port Angeles tomorrow. It will be nice to get home.

See ya all soon, at home.

Peace and Love, Steven

The Golden Gate Bridge and the Winchester Mystery House, August 30 2012

There is a documentary called ‘The Bridge’ which is basically about people committing suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge; “Since the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 there have been at least 1,400 suicides ‚ÄĒ many cases are not included in the official count because bodies were not found, even when a suicide was witnessed. There were 59 of these unconfirmed suicides from 2000 to 2010, plus 308 confirmed cases during those years. Additionally, an unknown number of people are believed to have jumped at night unobserved” (The New York Times, 2011). When I saw this movie I was outraged by the unethical methods used by the director; there seemed a million questions that needed answered and a little digging on my part offered some insight into his methods which were less than honest to say the least. Still, I “enjoyed” the movie; if a movie about people killing themselves can be enjoyed, especially when it does actually show people committing suicide.

Anyway, this is my connection to the bridge, it brings up similar feelings for me that Alcatraz does.There is something in these places that I feel, deep down inside. Perhaps it is hopelessness, despair; the feeling that life has nothing else to offer? I have felt these things at times in my life; I have also been locked up and been filled with a hatred for humanity and myself that drove my decisions and took me to prisons around the UK, this is also why I work where I work. I get it, I understand on some level that things are not black and white, peoples choices have many layers of self and society mixed up in them and dictating them and the decision to take your own life seems to me to be a last gasp way of taking control of your life in the midst of it all being taken away and destroyed by forces that are, or at least seem to be, out of your realm of influence. I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone; it does not actually matter I guess, I am just processing my thoughts.

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Alcatraz from the bridge.

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Being at the bridge was an amazing experience for me and I am so glad we went. The fog surrounding it gave it an atmosphere that added to its allure and mystery.

Next off we drove to San Jose and the Winchester Mystery House. This belonged to Mrs Sara Winchester of yes, the¬†¬†Winchester Repeating Arms Company who built the house non-stop for 38 years until her death. According to the font of all knowledge; Wikipedia there are two versions of why she did this:¬†¬†“popular belief holds that the Boston Medium told Winchester that she had to leave her home in New Haven¬†and travel West, where she must “build a home for yourself and for the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon, too. You must never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live forever. But if you stop, then you will die.” Is the first version and the one used by the tour guide we had. The second version is similar: “and says that after the deaths of her daughter and later her husband, she consulted a medium who told her that she must build a house and never cease building it, otherwise the spirits that killed her family members would come after her, too. After that she began construction on the maze-like house full of twists, turns, and dead ends, so that the spirits would get lost and never be able to find her”

Finn had come across mention of this house in a book that he and Jeni were reading so the googled it and we went to see it. The house is amazing. It is built over 6 acres I believe and has 160 rooms. There are stairs going into ceilings and doors opening into walls and stair cases that have two inch risers. It just goes on and on. They did not allow cameras in during the tour, but they did allow us to take pictures in the gun museum and outside.

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Five minutes from the Winchester House lives Pucky and Shannon and KJ and Mitchell, folks from Parksville who now live here as Pucky works for Apple in Silicon Valley. They have been awesome and gave us a room to sleep in last night. It was really nice to catch up and reignite what is hopefully a real blossoming friendship. A latish night and I was awake at 7:30, with Finn not long behind me; Jeni is still out for the count. Maybe I will make her a coffee and wake her. Or maybe not, we are starting the journey home today and flying by the seat of our pants so are in no particular hurry. Until tonight or tomorrow, peace out.

Other pictures and the Exploratorium, August 29 2012

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All of these pictures were taken on the day we got to San Francisco and before we headed to Alcatraz.

The next set were taken yesterday at the Exploratorium and beyond. The Exploratorium was supposed to be a couple of hours worth of visiting, but turned into five and half or six hours of time, and could have been more. It is much like the science centre in Vancouver or the OMSI in Portland only bigger than both combined. We had no idea what to expect and when we got there and realised it was going to be seventy bucks to enter we almost baulked and rethought our day. However, Finn was so looking forward to it and we were there, so headed in. It was worth every penny; the place is huge and has half a days worth of exhibits to enjoy. By the end of it we were all knackered and headed off for some high end dining at IHOP :-).

The Exploratorium is next to the Palace of Fine Arts:

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There was so much to see and do; the plan had been to spend a couple of hours there and then go up to the Golden Gate Bridge but, we ended up in the building for ages longer than we had expected, enjoying every minute of it I have to say. So, as we leave San Francisco this morning we are going to drive down to the bridge and hangout for a little while before heading to Santa Clara and an overnight with some friends.

San Francisco, August 28 2012

We drove in to San Francisco yesterday and came in over the Golden Gate bridge. We are going to the bridge today so I will write more about it later.

Today was all about Alcatraz and a long awaited visit for me at least. I was quite¬†disappointed¬†with the numbers of people who where waiting to get on the boats and the general feel of the whole thing. It may be foolish or naive of me but I was shocked and deflated by the touristy feel of the entire endeavour. For me Alcatraz is not a tourist attraction, it is a holder of memories and off energy; it is a symbol of humanity in all its guises. I am reminded of the general way that convicts are portrayed or seen in our society; as some sub-species of humanity and not the same human beings as those who don’t do the things that convicts do to get themselves sent to prison. There was a feeling from most of the folks there, or perhaps it is just my shit, that it was just about ticking something else off their list of what they have done and that was more important in understanding where you were and what the place was. This island has so much¬†history that is important to¬†America¬†and humanity. From the famous prisoners that spent large chunks of their lives in the tiny cells, to the Native American college students who took hold of the island for the best part of two years in an attempt at bringing awareness to the issues affecting them in a contemporary America.

 

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I have to say that being a tourist is not one of my favourite things to be, being around so many tourists and spending so much time being walked in front of and banged into by people who did not look where they were going was very difficult for me. Any longer and I would just have started pushing folks out of the way; it put me in an impatient space to say the least.

Alcatraz is hallowed ground to me, like any other prison or large building or place were humanity and pain lived, where those kind of energies have implanted themselves. They have to be felt and almost meditated on to be appreciated for what they are, and I could not do that yesterday and it bothered me. Having Finn along, which I would not change for the world, was also a barrier to this. The allure that Alcatraz has for me was not evident in him, and why should it be, Six Flags was his highlight and the Exploratorium that we will visit today and the Aquarium we went to yesterday are what he rightly enjoys.

Anyway, with all that said I am glad I went. In an ideal world I would have a couple of hours by myself on the Island and be allowed to commune with the history of the place and the spirits of those who lived and died there but, it is not an ideal world and if people want to see and do touristy shite that we ourselves are doing now, they are allowed to.

Here are some pictures from Alcatraz:

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I’ll get back to this in a while; the interweb connection here ain’t too good.

These last pictures are of four corrections officer and four ex-inmates of the Rock, as it was known. On the audio tour you wear earphones and listen to a recording of these eight men telling tales of the place and talking about how they lived and were affected by it.

Alcatraz is crumbling; the combination of salt air and neglect I imagine, has been taking is toll over the decades. I doubt that much restoration has been done in the five decades since it closed; although now they are doing some work to the old Water Tower that has stood for over seventy years. There are also plans to restore and augment existing areas, but even this seems more about revenue than saving the actual buildings themselves, at least that is the feeling I get. Anyway, onward and upward to the next stop on the trip; the Exploratorium and hopefully the bridge.

Vallejo, Six Flags, August 26 2012

Today was spent at Six Flags; well, at least six hours or so of the day was spent there. We left the hotel this morning at 10:30am and it took us a few minutes to get to the park. It is not as big as Magic Mountain in L.A but was fun all the same. We did all of the coasters there and two other rides which involved Finn and I getting soaked profusely. It was so bad we did it three times more:-). One of the coasters which was quite short and is called the V2 (Vertical Velocity), we did 5 times. I loved it and Finn loved, even Jeni did it a couple of times. It was awesome.

I did not¬†take¬†my camera with me as it seemed too much trouble to lug it around. I kinda’ wished that I had taken it with me because Jeni did not actually do many of the rides and could have taken some pictures of us on the rides. Oh well,¬†on-wards¬†we go to¬†San¬†Francisco tomorrow and Alcatraz and more. Speak to ya tomorrow.

Vallejo, 25th 2012

We left Eureka and headed for the Avenue of the Giants and one of the best Redwood experiences yet. This was after Finn had a small convulsion at the thought of visiting more Redwoods. The phrase he used was “I am all Redwooded out”. Needless to say once we got there he was all over it and actually did not want to leave. The Avenue of the Giants is a 31 mile stretch that runs all beside 101 that for almost all of it is lined on either side by the trees. It was like being in the forest that the Ewoks lived in. We also stopped at the Founders Grove which is a grove of Redwoods dedicated to the men who fought to save the trees. The Founders Tree itself is 346 feet tall and has a 19 feet diameter, with a 40 feet circumference. It was¬†unbelievable¬†. It is hard to imagine a tree that is 35 stories high, which is higher than any building in Victoria.¬†http://www.redwoodhikes.com/Humboldt/Founders.html¬†.¬†According¬†to Wikipedia the highest building in Victoria is Sussex Place on Douglas, I would have thought it was View Towers myself. Whichever one it is they are still 13 or 14 stories less than the Founders Tree, and it is not even the tallest tree in the parks. I am blown away by the immensity of these giants and am privileged to have seen them in the flesh.

This grove in the pictures had a host of fallen trees that offered tunnels and climbing that Jeni and Finn both took advantage of;

I have been having some issues with my camera; to be precise I wasshown how to use the light meter recently and have been having some problems honing the skills so, many of them are out of focus, this is causing me no end of frustration, but I will prevail.

I appear to be having some computer issues and have to sign off for now whilst trying to discover the problem. Peace.

Here are some more pictures from the Founders Grove:

 

 

Eureka: August 24th 2012

Before leaving Crescent City we visited the local¬†Aquarium “Ocean World”, which on first glance had a decidedly undersea gardens feel about it and because of this held some fear for Jeni and I. Finn was all over it¬†though, so we went in and checked it out. It turned out to be much better than we had thought it would be and¬†the Seal and Sea Lion show was pretty good. We also got to stroke some sharks which was first for all of us.

Like I said earlier, once Finn gets going on side trips they tend to be something he enjoys and the trip to the “Trees of Mystery” and the Sky Trail was no different. The Redwoods did not disappoint; they are as awe inspiring and spiritually uplifting as I hoped and it was real pleasure to see them in the flesh. The park is also home to many Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir which are every bit as impressive as the Redwood. On entry to the first park there is a huge Paul Bunyon statue accompanied by his giant bull, balls and all; the bull that is. Jeni being Jeni had to have her picture taken whilst she handled the¬†humongous¬†pair that hung from between the legs of the poor bovine, who had to endure this indignity over and over again from most of the park visitors.

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It is hard to put into words what it is like to stand next to and touch these ancient giants; the immensity of their lives, height, width and length of existence is to me a very spiritual thing and I won’t forget my first and hopefully not my last visit to this area. The second park we stopped at was even more mind-blowing; the Lady Bird Johnson park was filled with Redwoods that were 20 or 30 stories high. The highlight of this park may well turn out to have nothing to do with the trees though, as I took a tumble in the base of a huge burned out Redwood and dropped my camera, hurt my arm and shoulder and proceeded to flip out and run off yelling that we should have stayed on the f@#$ing path. Much to¬†everyone’s¬†amusement I sheepishly surrendered to the fact that I had thrown a hissy fit and was a tad¬†embarrassed¬†by the whole thing. Which did not stop Jeni from milking it for ¬†a while and no doubt will do so over the coming months or even years :-).

So now we are in the Super 8 motel in Eureka for good nights rest before hitting the road for a five or so hour drive to Vallejo tomorrow.

The morning of the 24th August: Crescent City,CA.

So here we are in the Curly Redwood Lodge; a motel that was apparently built from one giant tree. Jeni and Finn are asleep and it is day 5 of our trip.

We left Florence yesterday and made our way to a¬†restaurant¬†in Reedsport for lunch, which apparently had to include some Coconut Cream Pie. The shock on Jeni’s face when I told her I had never had this type of American pie in a genuine American¬†restaurant was huge, so here I am enjoying the said pie:

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We then headed along one of the most beautiful and forbidding coastlines I have ever seen. This stretch of the Oregon sea front is unbelievable: sea stacks and cliff faces abound and the bridges we crossed at certain points seemed to get higher and higher, in fact one of them was the highest bridge in the State, I think it said, at 345 feet high. I could not bear to look over it and Jeni kept her eyes firmly facing forward also. This aside, the drive was awesome and shorter than the day before, the roads less windy than the first half of Oregon

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This last picture was taken at a stop we had along the coast, which will become the stuff of Luther/Kelly legend. It was one of the most painful stops we have made anywhere; the wind was whipping up the sand so much that the tiny little grains were becoming missiles and boy did it hurt. My newly shaved head felt the brunt of it and what pictures I did get were taken quickly for fear of getting sand in the camera. Still, it was worth the stop and we will talk about it for years.

A short stop in Bandon by the Sea was a chance to stock up on candy and get some pictures of this tourist trap, which was quaint and definitely worth the stop. The journey to Bandon and beyond obviously caused Jeni some stress though as she took up smoking again.ImageImage

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This trip, like other trips we have done brings up the opportunity to see and interact with new wildlife; flora and fauna that is not local to Vancouver Island or at least to Victoria and one of the pleasant things for us has been the abundance of Pelicans. This one flew over head and I just managed to get one picture in before the wind carried it off.

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Today, when we eventually drag our carcasses into life, will be spent at the Redwoods. We only have 80 miles to go to our next hotel: a Super 8 in Eureka. We plan to take our time and get some tree-hugging and communing with the giants of the forests. Jeni and I are excited, Finn a little less so. He is looking forward to Six Flags and Alcatraz and enjoys the hotel television, but the nature side of things is less enthralling to him. At least until we get going, then he is on board.

August 22, 2012 Florence, Oregon

Once again our trip timing was off, mostly because this leg of the trip from Long beach to Astoria and then to Florence, Oregon, which is just over half way through Oregon, was a long series of winding roads and overlooks to stop at and marvel at the height we were at. It was quite terrifying to think of the 200/300 feet drop on one side of the highway. This was especially arduous because at one point I actually almost nodded off, and had to switch seats into the passenger seat, to let Jeni drive.

In Astoria we went to the Colombian Cafe; it was recommended by Mike and Kim, our friends from Victoria and most reviews I read about it were good. The food took a while to arrive, but when it did it was awesome and was cooked from scratch by the chef standing at a hot plate in front of us.

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We stopped at Fort Stevens park and took in the Peter Iredale shipwreck:

 

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Most of the ship is under the sand, but what you can see is cool and we had to stop on the way down to see a piece of history. An iron ship that is over 85 metres long and well worth the visit.

From here we hit 101 again and headed down the coast to the next stop; the Sea Lion Caves. A two hundred feet elevator ride through solid rock to the cave underneath. There were no sea Lions in the cave itself but they were on the rocks outside enjoying the sun and feeding, according to the girl who sold us the tickets.

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We are now in our Economy Inn motel with 7 Alberta Bikers upstairs: thank God for earplugs :-).