Haystack Rock with bae

Road trip 2: Oregon

Oregon has been a blast.

25-Aug Crater Lake, OR

It seems the whole state of Oregon is on fire. The whole place smells like a camp fire. You can see the smoke from fires many miles away. Some of the fires are wild and some of the fires are controlled burns. You see many homemade signs driving through the towns that say things like “Thank you firefighters” and many of the local business are offering small gestures of gratitude such as free cups of coffee to the firefighters. Everything seems to be under control, but it’s pretty amazing how much smoke there is and how much it smells like burning wood.

For example, check out this picture from Crater Lake facing in one direction. This was shot on a sunny day. The sky is blue with some minor clouds.

Crater Lake, OR
Crater Lake, OR

The following picture is facing the other direction. It shows just how much smoke is present in parts of the state and the scale of these fires. All of the gray and hazy clouds you see in this picture is smoke from the fires. It’s quite a contrast from the blue skies in the opposite direction.

Smoke from the fires in Oregon
Smoke from the fires in Oregon

The hike we took was the Garfield Peak Trail. It’s a 3.5 mile hike with an incline of about 1,000 feet. The views along the hike are gorgeous. We got to the top without too much trouble. It was well worth it to be able to see the whole lake without any obstruction.

Crater Lake from Garfield Peak
Crater Lake from Garfield Peak

After the hike we were hoping to drive north along the lake, but the north entrance was closed due to fires. So we returned the same way we entered. This added about an hour onto our trip to Newport, OR, but still left us enough time to grab a nice dinner in Newport. We opted for some seafood at Local Ocean Seafoods. Went with some local Dungeness crab soup, clams, and halibut.

The view from the docks outside of the seafood restaurant looked like this. It was a beautiful night.

Newport, OR
Newport, OR

26-Aug Newport, OR & Cannon Beach, OR

We woke up in Newport and spent the beginning of the day relaxing. Grabbed a coffee on the pier. Watched the sea lions. Watched a boat come in with a haul of crab. Some kid asked me if I was from the city. He said I was throwing off that big city vibe. Not really sure what he meant. Had on a Hawaiian shirt, jeans, and boat shoes and several days of a beard going. I thought I was dressed in the standard Newport, OR outfit but I was outed as a tourist from the big city.

Hey there
Hey there

We strolled around the shops. Eventually grabbed some lunch at another seafood place. Scored some oysters and some local fresh caught Dungeness crab.

Dungeness crab
Dungeness crab

After lunch we strolled around the beach in town and then hopped in the car for the drive to Cannon Beach, OR. When we arrived in Cannon Beach the fog made visibility very difficult. It looked like we wouldn’t be able to see any of the beautiful coastal scenes that we came to see. We took a drive through Ecola State Park to kill some time in hopes that the fog would clear. The fog ended up clearing. And when it did we were left with views like this.

Ecola State Park
Ecola State Park

We drove back down the coast a couple minutes to check out Haystack Rock. It’s almost impossible to get to. Almost all of the land around it is private property and all of the houses in the area try to make visitors feel unwelcome with signs like “Private beach access only,” “No trespassing,” “This is not a turnaround,” etc. There is a single public access row of stairs that you can walk down from the road to the beach where the rock is. I almost just wanted to leave the stupid rock to the locals since they went through such extreme measures to prevent people from enjoying it, but since we were already there we ventured down. It’s a cool rock but the coast is littered with similar rocks that are much easier to access.

Haystack Rock with bae
Haystack Rock with bae

Figured I’d snap a panorama while I was down here.

Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock

Hoped to score a sunset but the clouds were too thick to allow it.

Hopped back in the car and ventured off for Portland, OR. When we got into town we stopped at a place called Apex that had an outrageous tap and bottle selection. Since we loved the Russian River Supplication so much we decided to split a bottle. Yes, that’s a 2011. They had three different years available in bottle. They also had Evil Twin Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Biscotti Break, Anchorage Brewing Company A Deal With The Devil, different years of Firestone Walker Sucaba, Stickee Monkee, Hair of the Dog Adam of the Wood and Matt, etc. I’ve never seen as many top beers available as there are out here.

2011 Russian River Supplication
2011 Russian River Supplication

But we have a long trip ahead of us so back to the hotel it is for some rest.

27-Aug Portland, OR

Portland is a cool city. It is very sprawled out. All of the things you want to see and do are all over the place. Everything is a 15 minute drive from one part of the sprawl to another part. Sure you can get good coffee and good beer in any location, but if you want to go to a specific place then it will take you 15 minutes to get there. If I lived in Portland I guess I would figure out the rhythm of the city, but for a tourist with only a day to explore I was definitely off of the tempo.

Regardless, we has tons of great coffee drinks like this cappuccino at the Red E Cafe. Not pictured is a coffee soda. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Fresh coffee in soda form. We really wanted to try coffee on nitro (think coffee poured in the style of a Guinness beer), but they were out.

Cafe in Portland
Cafe in Portland

We ventured over to Hair of the Dog brewery. The flights didn’t feature their top beers so we opted to split a bottle. So we split a 2011 Adam of the Wood. There were also 2014 and 2015 bottles available. I think three versions of Matt available as well. And also Dave. Yea. $1500 for a bottle of Hair of the Dog Dave. Unfortunately had to pass on that.

2011 Hair of the Dog Adam of the Wood
2011 Hair of the Dog Adam of the Wood

Hung around the down town for a little bit. Finally was able to grab a coffee on nitro at Stumptown.

Coffee on nitro
Coffee on nitro

Afterwords strolled to Deschutes brewery for a bite to eat. Made our way over to the famous Voodoo Doughnut for some dessert.

Eventually left for a hotel near Mount Hood which ended up being a sweet resort. And the lady at the front desk gave us a free upgrade to an awesome room so we are living large tonight.

Went out to a local bbq place for dinner tonight. I liked this one light that they had in the place so I snapped a pic and thought it came out pretty well.

Ceiling and light at a local bbq joint
Ceiling and light at a local bbq joint

So that’s about it. Leaving Oregon tomorrow after a couple more stops and heading up into Washington.

Golden Gate Bridge

Road trip 1: California

It’s been a busy start to the road trip so far. Been sticking to the schedule and seeing everything that we set out to see. Everything has been better than I expected it to be so far.

21-Aug Fly out to San Francisco

The flight out was pretty uneventful. Nothing too crazy. Picked up the car and checked in to the first of what will be many hotels.

22-Aug San Francisco, CA

Woke up and took a stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf. A lot of people who live in San Fransisco or have visited might tell you to skip this stop. They say it’s too touristy, the food isn’t good, it’s not the real San Francisco experience, etc. I would probably agree with those reasons but would disagree about skipping it. There are times on travel when it’s very appropriate to be a tourist, and spending a couple hours around Fisherman’s Wharf gawking around with the other tourists is just fine, and pretty fun.

If you do stop by Fisherman’s Wharf it’s worth checking out Pier 39. There are the some very touristy gift shops. They even sell cotton candy. Boo hoo.

The sea lions that hang around the pier are pretty awesome. They put on a show for the crowd without even intending to.

Sea Lions in Fisherman's Wharf
Sea Lions in Fisherman’s Wharf

There definitely are some pretty bad food choices on the wharf, but I’d have to recommend a clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from Boudin Bakery & Cafe. It looks gimmicky inside the shop but the bowl of chowder delivers.

Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl from Boudin's
Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl from Boudin’s

After lunch it was time for more touristy things such as heading to Lombard Street. The interactions between the drivers, tourists, and traffic police is rather theatrical.

Lombard Street
Lombard Street

After Lombard Street I tried to get a good shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a hazy day and we were quite a distance away from the bridge. A bird pooping on my head kind of sealed my fate. My chance to get a shot of the bridge would have to wait.

Washed my hair as best as I could and headed off to City Beer Store. They have a ridiculous collection of craft beers available and many of the good ones are only available on premises. $100 bottles of 2008 FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels, Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale 16, etc. Can’t drink much so splitting a bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout seems a fair compromise. It’s one of the best beers in the world, no big deal.

Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee
Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee

After City Beer Store we stop by Cellarmaker Brewing Company, which is a block away. It’s a new brewery that seems to be doing well. We split a porter called Coffee And Cigarettes which tastes pretty good.

Before long it’s time for dinner. In San Francisco you eat one dish for dinner. Cioppino, a seafood stew. We hear the best cioppino is at Sotto Mare. It ends up being an hour and a half wait, but no worries. The place is tiny. There’s only a few seats available, and the open kitchen takes up half of the space. We have some amazing west coast raw oysters, clams in garlic sauce, and a bowl of cioppino. They give you enough in the bowl for two people. The meal is delicious.

Cioppino at Sotto Mare
Cioppino at Sotto Mare

After dinner we try to get to Hawk Hill, per recommendation from a local barista, to get a good view of the bridge. Hawk Hill was closed for the night but we were still able to score a sweet pick of the bridge from the road leading up to Hawk Hill. It was an ominous night with the fog and the lighting and the darkness and the bridge was emanating an eery presence.

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

After checking out the bridge we drove to about an hour outside of Napa.

23-Aug Napa Valley, CA

The day in Napa started off by getting some supplies ready for the road trip. We bought a styrofoam cooler and supplies for breakfasts and lunches. Chobanis, Kind bars, some fruits, cheeses, nuts, etc. Trying to have some fast healthy snacks to keep us powered throughout the day.

We drove through the Napa Valley area, taking in the sights of all of the beautiful wineries. We decided to stop at V. Sattui Winery. They had an Italian deli with meats and cheeses, a nice bbq going outside, tastings, tours, and beautiful grounds. It seemed like a good choice given we were only passing through. The wine and food were all delicious, and since we had to drive we opted to split a flight and keep it moving.

V. Sattui Winery, Napa
V. Sattui Winery, Napa

The next stop was actually a brewery. Wine is boring. It’s the same stuff no matter where or who you get it from in the entire world. Beer on the other hand is wildly different and is in the middle of this golden age of innovation in the United States. Russian River Brewing is one of the best breweries on the planet and one of the innovators pushing the industry forward.

They have 19 beers on tap that you can get in one enormous flight. Don’t worry, each taste is only 2 ounces, or less once the foam settles. While most known for their Pliny the Younger (only available in February) and Pliny the Elder hoppy beers, I thought the Supplication was the best beer. It’s a brown ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. It’s aged for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to each barrel, whatever all that means.

Russian River's 19 beer flight
Russian River’s 19 beer flight

After hanging around we made the trek out to the Fort Bragg area for the night.

24-Aug Fort Bragg, CA & Redwoods, CA

We woke up, checked out and headed down to the beach at Fort Bragg. There’s a beach called Glass Beach that is made up of tons of sea glass created from years of dumping garbage along the coastline. It’s a pretty cool beach.

Glass Beach
Glass Beach

Strolling along the area gets you some pretty typical California coastal scenes.

California coast, Fort Bragg
California coast, Fort Bragg

I don’t know what was in here.

I just liked this
I just liked this

After taking a nice stroll we made the trek up to the Redwood National and State Parks. There’s some pretty cool wildlife along the way.

Elk on the side of the road
Elk on the side of the road

You see redwood trees all over in California, but the setup at this park is the perfect for viewing the trees. These trees are huge. Super wide and super tall. Walking amongst them was beautiful.

Redwood National and State Parks
Redwood National and State Parks

You are constantly looking up into the heavens trying to see where these trees end.

Redwoods are huge
Redwoods are huge

After the hike around the Redwoods, it was time to hit the road again. There were some more elk.

Elk in the Redwoods
Elk in the Redwoods

We stopped for dinner at a Mexican place, scoring some Mole chicken and shrimp dishes and some tortillas made from scratch. We were greeted by a buddy while we were looking for parking. Don’t worry, car was in reverse in case I needed to scramble out of there with the quickness.

Garbage bear
Garbage bear

After dinner we made the trip almost to Crater Lake, which puts us a little ahead of schedule. California is behind us and we’ll be in Oregon for the next couple days. Pretty pumped with how everything is going and looking forward to some more adventures.

Words from the future

A message from the future you

I’ve always been interested in listening to people talk about their past. There are lots of good lessons in listening to the advice people might have given to a younger version of themselves.

Someone asked the question “If you could send an anonymous text to yourself 5 years ago, what would you write?” on reddit. Naturally I was interested in the replies. You can see this thread in the following link. Text from the future thread – reddit

The few short words from the responses stuck out as a mixture of real, sad, funny, and crazy. Think about the question for yourself. What would you text the younger you from five years ago. Maybe nothing important. Maybe the only thing that has ever mattered. These few, brief words provide a portal backwards into time. Each word crtitical. A half decade’s worth of knowledge and advice tailored specifically for you. How powerful. How truthful. Maybe painful. Maybe funny. Maybe some other emotion. Or none at all.

I went through about 2,000 of these comments to find which specific individual words had the most meaning for the people who cared to respond to the question. I’ll go over the process for anyone who is interested in doing this with similar data. It’s a pretty inefficient process as it uses Excel and the whole process can be automated but it’s listed here regardless.

  1. Copy and paste the data to Excel.
  2. Manually delete rows of data that are not appropriate. Many of the rows were blanks or included only the username and did not contain the responses so I deleted these.
  3. Parse out the individual words from the responses using a word frequency macro. Excel word frequency macro
  4. Use a stopword list to remove the most commonly used words (a, about, above, … , your, yours, z) that likely do not have any impact on the words we are interested in. Stop word list
  5. Manually go through the list of words and remove words that seemed unimportant (Ago, Didn’t, Doesn’t, Doing, Five, He’s, I’d, I’m, Isn’t, It’ll, Lot, Message, Oh, Send, She’s, Tell, Text, Wouldn’t, You’ll, You’re, Yourself, You’ve)
  6. Use an online word cloud tool Word cloud tool

If you are working with larger data then I would advise you to look into some tools specific for the job. There are plenty of online word cloud generators, such as the one linked above, that you can paste an entire text into. This removes the Excel work and makes generating word clouds pretty much instantaneous. For me it was only a couple minutes of extra work and I had complete control over the end result so the trade off seemed worth it.

The end result is the following:

Words from the future
Words from the future

The top 100 words and the number of their occurrences are included here:

  • Don’t: 724
  • Time: 162
  • Life: 147
  • Stop: 145
  • Buy: 116
  • Love: 111
  • School: 96
  • Fucking: 93
  • Stay: 81
  • Fuck: 79
  • Shit: 78
  • Won’t: 77
  • Job: 75
  • Start: 74
  • Girl: 71
  • Million: 70
  • Money: 70
  • College: 68
  • Leave: 64
  • Trust: 57
  • Roll: 56
  • Worth: 56
  • Friends: 55
  • Move: 53
  • Try: 52
  • People: 51
  • Date: 50
  • Save: 50
  • Lottery: 47
  • Break: 46
  • Gonna: 45
  • Quit: 45
  • Meet: 44
  • Bitch: 43
  • Actually: 42
  • Future: 42
  • Regret: 41
  • Bitcoin: 40
  • Guy: 39
  • Spend: 39
  • Help: 38
  • Look: 38
  • Bitcoins: 36
  • Probably: 36
  • Sell: 36
  • Day: 35
  • Change: 34
  • Friend: 34
  • Hard: 34
  • Dad: 33
  • Listen: 33
  • Invest: 32
  • Dump: 31
  • Home: 31
  • Winning: 30
  • Happy: 29
  • Little: 29
  • Lose: 29
  • Girlfriend: 28
  • House: 28
  • Late: 28
  • Waste: 28
  • Believe: 27
  • Care: 27
  • Crazy: 27
  • Feel: 27
  • Marry: 27
  • Worry: 27
  • Yes: 27
  • Family: 26
  • Please: 26
  • Relationship: 26
  • Study: 26
  • Talk: 26
  • Worse: 26
  • Idiot: 25
  • Live: 25
  • Mom: 25
  • Months: 25
  • That’s: 25
  • Bad: 24
  • Drinking: 24
  • Instead: 24
  • Play: 24
  • Stock: 24
  • Ass: 23
  • Past: 23
  • Ruin: 23
  • Trying: 23
  • Car: 22
  • Class: 22
  • Forget: 22
  • Seriously: 22
  • Matter: 21
  • Okay: 21
  • Own: 21
  • Can’t: 20
  • Dick: 20
  • Die: 20
  • Enjoy: 20

A mix of regret, get rich quick schemes, love, financial advice, school, work, feelings, hope, important people, relationships, mixed in with some internet language. Seems about right.

So you may not be on reddit, and you may not feel like answering, but if you could send an anonymous text to yourself 5 years ago, what would you write? Or maybe the better question is, if you received a text message today from the future you, how would you respond?


Road Tripping The West

Road Tripping the West

Been saving up all my vacation time and it’s almost time for me to use it.

Looking to take a road trip with my darling out West.

The initial plans are as follows:

21-Aug Fly out to San Francisco
22-Aug San Francisco, CA
23-Aug Napa Valley, CA & Mendocino, CA
24-Aug Glass Beach, CA & Redwoods, CA
25-Aug Crater Lake, OR
26-Aug Newport, OR
27-Aug Cannon Beach, OR & Portland, OR
28-Aug Mount Hood, OR & Columbia River Gorge, OR & Mount Saint Helens, WA
29-Aug Mount Rainer, WA & Olympic, WA
30-Aug Seattle, WA
31-Aug Jasper, AB, CAN
1-Sep Banff, AB, CAN
2-Sep Glacier, MT
3-Sep Yellowstone, WY
4-Sep Grand Teton, WY & Salt Lake City, UT
5-Sep Las Vegas, NV
6-Sep Yosemite, CA
7-Sep San Francisco, CA
8-Sep Fly back from San Francisco

Definitely an ambitious schedule, but we’ll see how our travels go. We can reroute as necessary.