Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We had two family wedding celebrations - the first one was in my hometown of Tauranga, New Zealand. The majority of our time in NZ was taken up with two things. First was cooking for the celebration:
The celebration was great - my Dad made a lovely speech, followed by T, then me. Everyone seemed to have a fun time, I know T and I certainly did!
Our second major activity was spending time with my family, with everything centred around my gorgeous little niece Cara:
We had a night in Sydney before heading down to Canberra. We stayed at The Grace, which was super nice and just around the corner from Peace Harmony, a veggie Thai restaurant. No photos as I wolfed our food (tamarind veggies, tofu and "chicken") down before even thinking to take a picture, but here are some of the hotel:
We had breakfast at a vegan friendly place the next morning before heading down to Canberra. I forget the name of it, but the hot cider with lemon and cloves was so good I had two:
The majority of our time in Canberra was again cooking for the celebration picnic:
We also managed to squeeze in some meals at the Au Lac (I can never get over how delicious their lemongrass "chicken" is).
It was great to catch up with friends and family at the picnic, including Kristy, Toby and Dan who had come up from Melbourne for the occasion. We also managed to sneak in an extended session of Singstar at Evan & Jess' house after the picnic - I got to trot out Disco 2000 and Brass in Pocket.
At the end of the weekend, it was time to fly back to Melbourne. It was very sad for me (and T) to arrive back in some ways, as it meant a return to our everyday lives, ie, going back to work. In other ways it was great to be back - not having to live out of a suitcase and being able to sit still for a minute without thinking we only had limited time in that place. And of course, seeing our friends again was wonderful!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
No, not the film.......San Francisco, the final stop on the US leg of the trip. It was a long drive from Portland to SF, but we got to see some of the autumn colours in full swing:
At one point I overtook a long silver bus which T speculated as to whether it might be Neil Young's tour bus, given it had the licence plate "Zuma". A little bit of research after we arrived in SF hours later confirmed that it was the very same, and that we were going to be in town for the Bridge School Benefit so we snapped up some tickets.
We ended up at an abandoned naval base on Treasure Island on our first day there. I'm a big fan of abandoned buildings:
Sausalito and Golden Gate National Park were next up:
We dined that night at Herbivore, this time at the Divisadero location. This time we even managed dessert, a strawberry & rhubarb pie for me, and a chocolate cupcake with vanilla bean icecream for T. A couple of the ginger-infused vodka cocktails with pineapple and pear juice were a nice (and strong) companion to the meal.
The following day was the Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View, about an hour or so from SF. We were a bit late, but the highlights of the night were Wilco (for T), Norah Jones (!) (for me - she covered War on War by Wilco that I thought was better than Wilco's version) and Neil Young. Jack Johnson played just before him, and after he played, a good third of the crowd up and left. T and I had had a nap during his set, so we were happy to wake up and be able to move much closer to the front. His set was so incredible that it made T cry, and I got pretty close myself, during "Old Man". He brought everyone back on stage for "Comes a Time".
A trip to Alcatraz was scheduled for the following day, following a two-part lunch at Cha-Ya, a vegan Japanese place, and Weird Fish, a semi-vegan fish and chip joint. For some reason they also serve vegan pancakes, so I gave those a go, and T tried the vegan fish and chips. I wasn't a big fan of the "fish", but my pancakes were fantastic.
While it was a bright sunny day in SF, it was cold, grey and damp out at Alcatraz Island. When lining up for the audio tour packs, the guy looking after them said to us "English?" T said "No, I'm Australian, and my wife is a New Zealander." I said "But we do speak English though," as he was trying to find out what language we wanted our guides in. The three of us had a good laugh about that for a while.
It was a fascinating place though, so incredibly bleak, and not just because of the weather.
We had returned our rental car, so the rest of our time in SF was spent walking or getting public transport.
Our last order of business was going to visit the sea lions that live at Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf. There were hundreds of them lying on pontoons sleeping, swimming around and trying to get up on the pontoons. They were so entertaining (and noisy) that we watched them for over an hour.
Our last 45 minutes in SF, and the States, was spent by T in the Apple Store, and me buying some jeans. We flew out that night to Auckland for the first leg of the family wedding celebrations.
Friday, November 28, 2008
We drove out to Mt Hood close to 10 pm with full tummies from our Los Gorditos extravaganza. The reason for our visit was to stay at the Timberline Lodge. Stanley Kubrick used the Timberline for exteriors in the film The Shining, one of my (and T's) all time favourite films. The lobby in the film was based on the Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, which we will get to on another trip. Stephen King based the original novel on the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, also for another visit.
The drive up the bendy road to the lodge was particularly creepy given that it started snowing when we were nearing the top. It felt like we were in the film, especially as one of the first things we saw as we pulled into the carpark was the garage where the snowcat was kept in the film, as well as the bathroom window that Danny escaped through (I think).
We were in room 210, just down the hall from room 217 used in the book. Even though the film was not shot inside the Timberline, apparently management requested that Stanley Kubrick not use that number in the film, as they were scared that noone would ever want to stay in that room. 237 (a non-existent room in the Timberline) was used in the film.
We hunkered down with the laptop and watched The Shining, which was one of the more creepy experiences I have ever had. Here is the laptop showing the exterior of the Timberline from within room 210 in the Timberline:
And Jack at his best:
I'm very jealous of everyone who got to attend Come Play With Us, a celebration of The Shining at the Timberline - a 1920's era ball recreating the hallucination Jack Nicholson has when he loses his grip on reality in the film.
The next day (22 October to be exact) was T's 31st birthday. We started the day with a swim in the heated outdoor pool and spa pool surrounded by snow and ice.
We trudged around the outside of the hotel in the snow admiring the curves and angles of the building:
Refreshment time followed, with a birthday beer for T and a hot cider with cloves for me. This was accompanied by one of the most lovely views you could witness whilst refreshing oneself:
We thought we could have taken a wrong (or unfortunate) turn on our way back to Portland given the signage:
Back in Portland, we had a fairly uneventful vegan Vietnamese lunch (I forget the name), T bought some birthday music gadgets (or rather I did as his present!) and we headed back to the Ace hotel. We were in a different room this time, illustrated with pictures of mechanics publications.
A repeat of the Bye and Bye finished off the day, in preparation for our long drive to San Francisco the following day.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
We arrived in Portland late at night after a short drive from Seattle. First thing we did was check in at The Ace Hotel. We were in the Night Owl/Early Bird room. I loved the murals:
The following day was a chilly autumn day, so we bundled off and headed over to the Blue Moose Cafe for brunch. The staff were so friendly, and brought over samples of their soups for us to try. The Tunisian chickpea was so tasty it became my order. It came with freshly baked bread crammed full with grains and seeds. T ordered the breakfast burrito, which was also fantastic. Accompanied by strawberry lemonade, it was the perfect way to start the day.
Next - a spin around the city.
We ended up at the vegan strip mall, including Herbivore, Scapegoat Tattoo, Food Fight! vegan grocery, and SweetPea Bakery. We enjoyed a hot chocolate and two varieties of cupcake: lemon buttercream and chocolate oreo.
Our celebration of Portland's plentiful vegan joints was completed by a visit to the Bye and Bye (all vegan!) bar. I had several white russians, while T had one beer as he was driving. We also had some food - a "meatball" sub and seasoned tofu for T (so-so sub, amazing tofu), and I had an amazing grilled "cheese" sandwich, tortilla chips and salsa. It was so refreshing to be able to go up to a bar and order both drinks and food without having to explain anything.
Our second day in Portland was again spent eating, with a little record and clothes shopping thrown in. We started with the most amazing vegan pancakes with blueberries and home fries at the Laurelthirst. We soon moved on to Voodoo Doughnut, which had about six types of vegan donuts.
A large part of our evening was spent perusing the shelves in Powell's Used & New Books. The store covers a whole city block, and the few hours we were there was just not enough time. I loved the little sign in the Banana Yoshimoto section - "Please enjoy a wonderful book by Banana Yoshimoto. She'll make your heart sing."
Here are the books I picked up (apart from the Tape Op and 33 1/3 which belong to T and the Herbivore Travel Guide and Zinester's Guide to Portland which are from Herbivore):
We picked up a delicious mexican diner from the loveliest people ever at Los Gorditos, a caravan that makes both vegan and non-vegan mexican food. Wow! The mexican mango and lime pop we had with it was fantastic too.
Finally it was time to head out to the Timberline Lodge near Mt Hood for a little (scary) nostalgia over this film: