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san francisco

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san francisco

San Francisco, California


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We flew from a cloudy Portland morning into the sun. It’s something else to descend through puffy white clouds, watching their shadows stain the earth. Our first glimpse of the city was out of the cave of the metro, we stood blinking into the brilliant sun. As we ascended the stone stairs Powell street materalised before us: masses of cascading flowers, the rush of summer clad tourists who cheered as a trolley car rumbled down the hill. That hill! The art deco building soared upwards, their size magnified by the steep slope, I had never felt so dwarfed in my life. I guess these would appear thimbles when I arrived in New York.

We inched up the climb with our pack and feeling like dirty urchins entered the lobby of our hotel, two nights a Christmas gift from Dylan’s father. After perusing the dress code of the hotel restaurant, we decided it better to wander the city in search of a meal. It was that time in the evening where the city glows, illuminating a random person or rubbish bin and elevating them to the divine. A walk at sea level allowed us to truly absorb the sheer height of city rising up from the wharf. A large bird stood in the middle of a empty lot “looking for his car” Dylan said, then off he sprinted to get some kms, leaving me to my favourite sport of trying to capture humans in their candid moments unseen. Once we reunited, we rounded the bend to Fisherman’s wharf and in the disguise of tourist you can take a photo of anyone and everyone unquestioned. It was like a non stop carnival, elevated from the gaudiness of cardboard thin facade to magic by the sheer amount of activity. Carousel horses bobbed past, a girl bounced into the air and magical started gathering a crowd. We broke through the mass for a view of the infamous Alcatraz, then as we turned toward the platforms where sea lions laze in the sun a man walked past with two iguanas on his head, it was no street act, he was just on a stroll. We could here exclamations from uncensored children as he strode into the crowd, necks flicking back in double takes until he was out of sight.

Enough excitement had we sought out dinner before returning exhausted to the luxury of a warm bath, a white robe and a hotel bed with five spare pillows.


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adios oregon

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adios oregon

Portland, Oregon


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Tomorrow we take our first internal flight, for some reason it feels like a big deal to fly perhaps the whole getting to the airport early and going through all the hoopla of taking your shoes and jacket off as you get a full body scan has something to do with it! The train has been way for chill and even though it is no cheaper, but takes far longer I prefer it, I enjoy watching the world zoom by away from roads and tarmac.

So with the flight looming we had a quiet day. We are in a different airbnb which is decorated so awesomely quirky I had to include photos, the ad read “Must love cat”, which is a hoot. Our main aim for the day was just to return our bikes, but on the way we caught sight of a vintage shop in a bus! Only in Portland! The two fabulous dames who owned the vintage store and the food van next door were ready to break their day up with a chat to two Aussie travelers, and it was rather a shame we had to scoot because it was all rather fun.

Now I’m not going to lie to you, after we got the bikes back we definitely indulged in some chocolate pie. Then full to the brim we wandered around the arts district until a bus wound us homeward, to cat and chats with our hosts, Misha and Cade, and their neighbours around a backyard fire until the rain drove us to bed. Typical Portland.

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Lodekka
A vintage shop on a double decker bus? Too cool. Go chat to Erin and her food van neighbour over a refreshing class of that delicious homemade lemonade whose secret ingredient is kept under mental lock and key. Behind the van is a “meat locker” where you can buy a special treat for that deserving dog in your life.

Random Order

I only recently discovered with much embarrassment that there is no such thing s a savoury pie in America. But these beauties are so good, and fantastic to share. While we ate a girl wrote a thesis beside us and at another table a girl with patterns shaved into her hair was sketched by another.

“Do you have any vegetarian pies?
“umm…(glancing at the display case of cream covered pies) I’m not sure apart from no meat what makes a vegetarian pie…”

Alberta Eyecare
For some reason i had it in my head that i would like timber sunglasses, but couldn’t imagine i could find them anywhere except on etsy, ah i shouldn’t have under estimated Portland. the first optometrist i set foot into had the very pair i wanted and made by someone down the street!


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Quintessential Americana

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Quintessential Americana

Portland, Oregon


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Today, according to Dylan, we witnessed the quintessential American experience, which I think is a little unfair on America. The incident didn’t happen until later, but the Americaness of a morning tea of donuts is unarguably very American. The lines outside Voodoo Donuts were rather perplexing to us, and we had avoided it until now, but there is a store just out of town which is comparatively empty. We swung our bikes in and were overwhelmed with the pinkness of it all, from ceilings down to boxes. We bypassed the signature “cock and balls” and “bacon maple bar” for a Voodoo doll and an Oreo doughnut. They were just donuts, yummy of course, but no BlueStar. Box checked we headed downtown and back up that hill to the Japanese Garden.

The cherry blossom petals were falling like snow on moss lawns and with bamboo water features setting the mood we felt very relaxed. All which was to be undone as we made our way down the hill for the Experience. As we reached the bottom of the descent the cop car in front of us suddenly went into action mode screeching across the intersection to join another, door flung wide as shields where the policemen crouched with guns drawn. We starred dumb, a man was standing before them just across the street from us, a bulge in his pockets. As he stood there shaking his head in the negative to the cops demands for him to put his hands up, we quickly scooted to a safe distance. There were a whole bunch of schoolkids laughing and taking photos with their eye phones, we couldn’t believe they saw this as entertainment. Two more police cars screamed in as pepperspray was shot at the aggressor’s feet. Then before we had a second think bang bang bang, the man barely flinched so we hoped they were just rubber bullets, then ban bang bang, he finally, but excruciatingly slowly, folded himself to the ground. A fire engine and ambulance joined the melee. He was strapped in and wheeled away. We were relieved the scene hadn’t ended in tragedy, we had to credit the Portland police for waiting until backup with non lethal weapons arrived.


Voodoo Doughnuts

Go more for novelty factor than for a gourmet delight. Some have cereal on top, there are vegan options and all have wild names. We’re told the purple grape one is nice

Japanese Gardens
Nice relaxing spot at the top of the hill with a view of Portland. $10 entry worth it if you love manicured topiary, intricate bamboo fences and the sound of running water

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seat


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We wheeled our bikes for several blocks before we even thought to get back on, it had been surreal and we were grateful of our gun laws back home where you can only own a gun if you have a genuine reason. It had been surprising to see such an event happen in Portland where we had met the most people disgusted with their countries gun laws. Later when we met up with Lonnie again we looked up the incident and discovered the man was indeed shot with a beanbag gun and was hospitalised more for mental illness than injury. It turns out he had a homemade fake gun in his pocket and police were alerted to the seen because he had been punching cars, as Lonnie said something that is not acceptable in the USA, where car is king. Not too long ago a whole bunch of hospitals for the mentally ill had been shut in Portland and it really had worsened a homeless problem that was already dire. Once again we thought fondly of our home where the government and charities support those at risk. Australia’s not perfect, but at least the majority of people we speak to there don’t say they need a gun to protect them from their own government. A more disturbing fact 50% pf the people we have spoken to actually believe that their government not only knew about 9/11, but orchestrated it. How could you live somewhere where you believed your government could do such a thing?

Lonnie helped us remember the greatness of America, showing us more hospitality. Driving us to an amazing Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, a whiskey bar and then to watch a blues band play.


Pok Pok

Delicious street style cuisine with thai and Vietnamese flavours. The Hoi Thawt as our favourite, a savoury crepe with mussels. the wait is over 30 minutes but you can spend that time in a whiskey bar across the street where they let you know when your table is ready.

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