Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stage 4 - the BROad Trip

After arriving in Portland, Ben jetted off to Taos for a family vacation and Tommy finally joined us again after galavanting in Turkey for the past two weeks. Since Kate and Sarah hail from the grand ol' Rose City, we were able to use it as a home base of sorts and take a brief respite from the road. Many thanks to both of our families for your hospitality, food, and good times! Highlights of our Portland excursions include a hike in the Columbia Gorge, sample tasting at the Portland Farmer's Market, an afternoon at the Sauvie Island beaches, bike tours of the Portland's east side, collecting eggs straight from the coop with Tommy's friend, Abby Conyers, a day of swimming and cliff jumping at Three Pools, and touring the Deschutes, Rogue and Bridgeport ale houses.

Sarah is making the journey south with her boyfriend, so until we meet up in San Francisco it is just Kate and the dudes. The four of us left Portland on the 25th and headed to Oregon's lone National Park, Crater Lake. We made it just in time to hike up to the fire watch outlook point for an incredible view of the lake, Wizard Island, and the surrounding mountains.

The following day we headed southwest towards the famed highway 101, stopping for a quick dip at a little known swimming hole. If you're ever on highway 62 between Medford and Crater Lake, definitely take the turn onto Crowfoot Rd. between mileposts 29 and 30!

Next stop: the Redwoods! After an incredible drive on the Redwood Highway, we backpacked into the "Tall Trees Grove" in Redwood National Park near Orick, CA. This is probably the closest we've all come to feeling like ants among these giant trees, the tallest of which is 370 feet tall!

The entire experience went very smoothly, until we got back to the car the next day and realized we had left our pots and pans at the campground. Whammy! Three points to Kate for running back to get them.

Then we headed to Santa Rosa to tour the Lagunitas Brewery and visit Paul's Aunt Laurie for a scrumptious dinner. Afterward we headed to the local Russian River watering hole, home of two of the top-ranked beers en el mundo. Luckily the day's journey was over since Tommy's good friend Wilson lives just over the hill in Napa Valley. He graciously showed us around the vineyard laden hills for the next few days.

On Monday we headed into the city with Wilson and his friends for the Giant's game that night, making sure to stop for In n' Out on our way. Sadly the giants lost 7-0 to the Cubs despite our fervent enthusiasm for Tim Lincecum. Beer and baseball: this is what happens when the road trip goes 4/5 bro.

For the past few days we've been staying with Silver Spring's finest, Grace Reinhalter, across the bay in Berkeley. We've been showered with hospitality from all of our Bay Area friends and family. We dined on a sailboat with Ben's family friend Annie, toured the Cal campus with Paul's cousin, Carly, and chatted over lunch with the Rosen clan of Paul's family, Mark, Fonda, and their daughter Sasha. We also enjoyed exploring Tilden regional park and sampling world class beers at Toronados. Today we're heading south to Monterrey and Big Sur, so stay posted for more fun times in the golden state.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Fab Four Goes Coastal

The San Juan Islands were seriously prime. Weather check, family check, lodging check, food check, killer whales check. (Killer fucking WHALES ya heard!?!?!) Sorry for the french, but it was tight and I just want to make sure you all understand the magnitude of how sweet Cory's spot is and how much we enjoyed ourselves. Paul's parents, Bobby and Bill, were visiting Cory at the same time, so we all coat-tailed the family hospitality and home-cooked meals, while enjoying the familiar faces. After spending our days exploring the sculpture garden, the British camp from San Juan Island's historic Pig War, hiking tiny mountains, eating delicious regional Dungeon (or maybe it was Prison) Crabs, seeing three pods of orcas on a free whale watch tour, sunbathing, and checking out local happy hours, we had exhausted all that San Juan Island had to offer.

Fortunately, the inter-island ferry is $free.99, so we hopped on with all of our stuff to check out Orcas Island for a day. We arrived on Orcas by nine in the morning and befriended some local store owners to leave all of our gear with while we explored. On the islands, hitch-hiking is actually the preferred method of travel because it is legal!

We hit the curb for a short fifteen minutes and caught a ride towards Moran State Park. After a brief transfer to a more personable chauffeur, we made it to an awesome lagoon with bridge jumping and sun bathing to boot. After a relaxing day, we hitched our way back to the ferry, thanks to a man from Wheaton, MD. (Shout out Pollo Rico!)

We hit the ferry back to our car and set off to Port Townsend, WA to meet another awesome CC graduate, Sarah Delaney. She is staying with another generous CC family for the summer during her internship and was able to adequately house us all for the night. In what's becoming typical roadtrip fashion, we threw a delicious PIZZA PARTY and enjoyed a local watering hole for a delicious pitcher of Port Townsend's Scotch Ale.

We hit the road again the next day, now with two Sarahs, for Olympic National Park. With a hot spring plan firmly in mind, we arrived only to have our dreams of a natural hot spring soak shattered by road construction. But alas, we're pretty good by now at rolling with punches, and found a day hike with incredible views up Hurricane Hill before "backpacking" into PJ's Lake to spend a quiet night.

Since the backpack was only one mile, Ben decided to bring in the guitar. Shortly thereafter we realized that the hike was straight down (and straight back up the next day.) Fun was had by all and we dropped off Sarah Delaney at home and used her showers before heading to Vashon Island for a wedding!

And so it was that Amanda Heffernan married Joshua Mattson in a gorgeous field laced with sanskrit chants and alternative garb, cherry-wood smoked salmon, and hundreds of dancing, smiling friends and family members. (Amanda is essentially Paul's cousin for those out of the loop.) We camped at the site and tried to help as much as possible to show our gratitude for the invite. We were fortunate enough to cross paths with Paul's parents again and spent many an hour fraternizing at their lovely rented cottages.

Take a good look, this is as pretty as we get.

We left the morning after the wedding to head south to Oysterville to meet up with Sarah's and Kate's old friend Nicole Freshley. And guess what we made for dinner?!

Hand made dough and sauce from organic heirloom tomatoes!

We took an amazing walk along the bay to see the full moon and drank beers and wine by the fire. But the two Portland girls were anxious to get home after being within a stones throw for over a week now. We hit the road to the 5-0-3 and don't plan on leaving for at least a week, especially not after our hilarious first night here. We wandered into bar after receiving good advice from Kate's sister Sarah in time to catch the last round of BINGO of the night! (A little ironic to play our first game of bingo without Tommy and his beloved hat...) But the game went smoothly, and suspense built as our very own Benji drew close to victory. At at shocking turn of events, Ben and another less handsome man both cried Bingo after hearing O - 69 announced! After verifying that neither had cheated, the hostess declared that it was to be determined by a danceoff! (which we got on video)

And to add to the hilarity, the grand prize was one large purple rabbit vibrating dildo, complete with 4 AA batteries!

So if you're looking for a good time..... and you're here in Portland hit us up, because we'd love to see you!

Support Cool Tunes

We're all about cool tunes here on the road, Live, Local and all that Jazz (pun intended). And we've really been meaning to switch up the blog. (A little less formulaic, you know.) It's nice and all to tell you guys we did this, and then that, BUT we're going for a little more flavor in the future. Be on the look out for recipes, a list of places we've spent the night, trivia, (and yeah, we're overdue on an update too).

In the vein of sweet new stuff, a good friend of ours Elijah Balbed is (and has been) killin it on the DC jazz scene. Trying to raise money can be tough though. Hit the link to help a brother out on his DEBUT CD.

"Finding a balance between tradition and modernism is critical to finding your voice, and can be a life long journey for many. 21-year old Elijah Jamal Balbed is a modern saxophonist with a strong root in tradition, his sound and approach uniquely displays a tasteful blend of old school and new school. A native of Washington, DC, Elijah has established himself as rising star on the saxophone, having been named the Best New Jazz Musician of 2010 by the Washington City Paper, as well as being the Bohemian Caverns Artist in Residence for the month of June, 2011. Elijah currently performs with Funk Ark, Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, and Chuck Brown." (Chuck Brown, man!)

Elijah Beast Mode, so what?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Five Scholars rock fresh, North by Northwest

And it's still no rest 'cause we're not finished yet

Greetings from West (and arguably the best) Coast! (well, at least top 2)

Leaving Bozeman, we forged onward to the wild bear country of Glacier National Park. In light of recent mauling incidents around the world, we debated the necessity of bear spray but a park ranger said we would be alright and sent us off after watching an overly cheesy safety video. Our two night backpacking loop in the southern corner of the park was surprisingly tame and wildlife free, except for a brief encounter with a baby black bear. We also managed to hike two miles on the wrong trail, turning a five mile hike into nine.

"Uhh, did we walk for an hour in the wrong way?"
Once we got back to the trailhead, we hightailed to the river for a quick bath and then proceeded to the famed Going to the Sun Road. 

The curvy, narrow road had fantastic views of the park, including a few mountain goats munching grass on the shoulder. We continued towards the border, but the Canadian customs folk weren't so inclined to let five dirty, unemployed 20-somethings into their northern lands. With nothing to declare but handle of whiskey and a jam-packed car, we were certainly a suspicious looking bunch, but happily made it through after the minor holdup.

We spent two nights in the Ghost River Wilderness, Canada's equivalent to our national forests and BLM land -- aka Free Camping! Ben and Tommy were gracious enough to host a housewarming party, featuring their favorite meal: frank & beans and each of our favorite types of candy.

The next day's meals of blueberry pancakes and pita pizzas were also major hits. Little did we know, the area is also a haven for off-road vehicles so we quickly made friends with our ATV and dirt bike riding neighbors.

After two days of extreme relaxation, reading, and card playing, we finally ventured to Banff National Park. Sadly the steep price of $10 per night per person for a backcountry permit was beyond our measly budget, so we settled for standard car camping and woke up bright 'n early to hike Healy Pass.

Thanks for the hats Jackie!

We got to the trailhead before sunrise and made it to the pass in time to see the wildflowers, mountain lakes, waterfalls, and snowy peaks all by ourselves.

On August 2nd we dropped Tommy at the Calgary Airport and jumped with joy as the Quad came back into action!! (Mr. Hester visits his girlfriend Smitty in SoCal and jets off to Turkey for family vacay.) Without Tmoney's shady figure, we crossed the border like Easy Mac and made our way west on I-90. Careful to partake in as many regional foods as possible, we picked up a sack of Idaho potatoes and baked them in our campfire in the national forest outside of Seattle. That night crossing road trippers Nick and Tamara kicked it with us in the Snoqualmie forests, shared their avocados, and crashed on our tarp with us. 

Next stop, Seattle. We were probably the least showered we will be of the whole trip. I'm serious, really stinky. Then we got real clean and went over to the Hunts for dinner. Pat, Bryan, Grandpa and the whole squad threw down an awesome BBQ party. Perfect way to get back into
civilization: brauts and grilled meat and great company. 

Then we scooted back over to Paul and Kate's homegirl from CC, Ally. Such a wonderful host. We kicked it in her hottub, we cruised around Seattle and Pike's Place Market, cooked an amazing dinner and went out on the town. 

We went to this sick taphouse, Brouwers, where we had the best beers of the trip. This amazing watering hole had like 50+ beers on tap. Ben loved the Scuttlebutt tripel 7 Belgian, ya heard me?

We crawled out of bed and hit the road to make it to the Phish show where thousands of Phish fanatics were enjoying the beauty of the Gorge at an epic stop on Phish's summer tour. 

Amazing show, first set was the bomb, everyone needs to go see Phish soon. Shakedown street was wild. The scene in the Phish lot is pretty great, wish we could see another show. 
(Yes, we got perfectly photo-bombed by this bro in the red hat.)

Now we are chillin back in Seattle for the night till we make it out the San Juans to kick it with Cory, Alex, Bobby and Bill. Can't wait.