No, I did not miss an exit and end up in Vancouver, Washington… I'm actually in Vancouver BC.
True to form, I don't plan anything when I travel. I just load up my car with things I think I might need or dont want to be caught without. As I was leaving my house, I saw my passport on the bookshelf and thought what the hell… you never know.
I took the long way up here: 101 to San Francisco, spent a very enjoyable night at a friends apt., jumped back on the 101 and rolled into Gold Beach Oregon at about 10pm (after many “hmmm… wonder where that road goes” inspired detours, a couple of walks on the beach and of course I HAD to drive through the giant redwood car tunnel). Interesting thing about Gold Beach. Everything, and I mean absolutely everything shuts down by 10pm. Hotels, Motels, gas stations…. everything. Shocking to a city girl like myself. So I pulled over into the (cover your ears mom…) darkest hotel parking lot I could find and had a lovely night's sleep in my car.
The next morning, up bright and early, I continued up the coast and ended up at the Cape Lookout Campsite (with an unexpected bonus: they had showers!!). From there I headed north a little while longer until I realized I was actually getting tired of driving after 3 days. I found an east bound road and made it to Portland sometime around noon. Ken (who's studio I'm visiting) was particularly relieved to see me. Change of plans and he'd misplaced my cell number– he needed to head off to Vancouver in a few hours and the maintenence crew was changing all of the locks in the building ( they had lost some keys). We had lunch with a very nice guy from the Army Corps of Engineers (they're neighbors to the studio) and somehow by the end of that lunch, we had all decided that the best thing for me to do was to jump back into the car and head up to Vancouver with Ken. It had something to do with the number of galleries here, a Monet exhibit, and a pretty happening music scene (i.e. lots of reference for my musician series). It had absolutely nothing to do with fantastic weather, an empty penthouse with a swimming pool and getting to hang out a little bit with Ken and his wife Mary. So here I am. Drinking coffee in Vancouver, and updating my blog.
So here are a few highlights/observations/whatever…
My first stop for gas was in East Palo Alto. East Palo Alto is not the same as Palo Alto. I was greeted by a crack head lady asking very nicely (all things considered) for some cash. When I said no, she became less polite and called me a few bad names. Screamed them actually. I thought it was a fantastic welcome to the bay area.
Gas prices are significantly lower in Oregon. My tank was pretty low when I hit Crescent City at the top of California. Not so low that I couldnt make the 10 miles to the first town but I gassed up anyway. I was pretty pissed off when I passed the gas stations in Brookings OR that were a full 50 cents a gallon lower. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Later I discovered something that apparently everyone except for me knows: You are not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon. I tried. They really dont like it when you do that. Apparently its illegal. No one knows why though…and believe me, Ive been asking around. The official story is that it keeps insurance costs down for the stations. A comparitive study between Washington and Oregon insurance rates, though, shows little difference (I dont know who did the study). Regardless, it is kind of nice to have someone pump your gas for you…now that Its not completely unexpected.
At an out of the way diner somewhere near the top of California, I sat at the bar top for lunch and coffee where I could very easily hear the conversations at the waitress station. A couple came in and sat somewhere behind me in a booth. When the waitress went over to take the order, the couple asked if there is MSG in the ribs because the lady is extremely allergic to MSG. The next five minutes of conversation and running around at the waitress station was both hilarious and frightening at the same time. Five waitresses dilligently tried to figure out if there was a mysterious ingredient called MSG in anything that woman might ingest. None of them knew what it was. One of them thought it might be that “stuff” on the spinach everyone was “freaking out” about a while ago. Another corrected her and said, “no, that's that E-Goli stuff…MSG is some kind of Chinese food…we don't serve Chinese food here”. The other three were systematically reading all the salad dressing bottles, soft drink labels, the coffee bag….anything they could find with ingredients listed. One of them remembered hearing the term “Mono-Sodio- something with a G” so at least they were getting warmer. Eventually they came up with several items they were sure did not have MSG and reported back to the couple. I'm pretty sure the lady walked out of there fed and without any impending trips to the emergency room.
That's the update. Im going to wander around, get something to eat, check out some galleries and sit in a park somewhere with my sketchbook. Hope you all are having a lovely day!