Category Archives: Washington

Walk by Myself: West Coast Road Trip Summary

So this writeup has been a long time in the making. A lot has happened since this trip that has made looking through this footage a long and difficult process. I kind of haven’t hated doing anything more than this video. It’s been emotionally draining looking through this footage day after day and reliving painful memories over and over again. I guess traveling can be painful when you lose your travel partner. Hopefully the end video gives some sort of justice to situation. I made it the best I could.

In addition to dealing with the whole emotional journey of the break up, I decided to record my own song for this video. Getting the recording equipment, learning recording software, writing music, and mixing it all together has been a process that has taken some time.

I was able to finally make my way through the footage and write a song that I was happy with. It was certainly not the video I had planned to make when I was shooting this trip. But I think there was enough footage that I was able to present a story that ultimately is true to where I was, where I am, and where I will be going. It’s kind of interesting to go through footage that you thought would look so much like one thing, and piece it together to look like something else. I guess my world was ripped apart and I had to pick up the pieces of this footage to tell a different story than I had anticipated.

Outside of the video, here is the rest of the standard road trip conclusion notes. It would be difficult to bother writing this up had I not had the majority of it completed.

First question I generally get asked is what was my favorite place. I can try to overgeneralize this answer but if you are really interested it’s probably best you read through the write ups from the trip.

The most beautiful single view was of Peyto Lake in Banff. A picture I took on this trip of Peyto Lake scored me over 200,000 views, which is my most viewed photograph ever. I think this is the second most beautiful nature view I have seen outside of the view at the top of the hike of Preikestolen in Norway.

My favorite park was Yellowstone. Cliche, I know. There’s a reason why this is the first national park in the world. This park is perfect. It doesn’t have the over the top views like you may see elsewhere in the world, but it is the most well rounded park I have been to. It has great landmarks. It has amazing animals. Diverse terrain. It’s huge. The layout is just right.

The most surprising nature moment was walking the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail in the Redwood National and State Parks. The sun was setting and based on recommendation from the park rangers we took this hike. The 1.4-mile trail is short and easy and gives you a great view of the Redwoods. On this specific day there were low lying clouds that floated among the tops of the trees. You’re walking on this trail with your head craned upwards, staring at these enormous trees that extend into the heavens. The beauty of this place was unexpected and we caught it with some amazing circumstances. Sometimes on the trip you will have some spots that are worse than you imagined and sometimes you get some unexpected gems that stir your soul.

Crater Lake was solid. It’s a great park because you can drive right up to some amazing views, and there are a bunch of great trails that you can take. If you don’t know about Crater Lake I’d recommend giving it a look. It’s a huge gorgeous lake inside of a volcano.

As far as the cities I have to say San Francisco was my favorite. San Fran offers a lot. There’s a great touristy waterfront. It has its iconic spots. The food and drink is class. There are many diverse areas to hang out in. And not that it matters too much, but the residential and business sections for locals seem pretty cool as well.

The biggest surprise city for me was definitely Vegas. There’s the new Vegas, the old Vegas, and then the Vegas suburbs. The new Vegas is fancy. The old Vegas is gritty. The suburbs are awesomely authentic and nothing like the rest of Vegas. I recommend checking out all three of those places.

Seattle was a better time than I thought it would be. It’s definitely worth spending a day at the market and the Chihuly Museum.

Portland is a must stop but it was frustrating. Everything was spread out all over that city. It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, probably because it’s so hyped, but it’s still a great city. Once you figure out how to navigate its quirks I imagine it would be a top spot.

You probably don’t have to go to Salt Lake, but I didn’t explore there much. Just grabbed Thai food and made plans to go to Vegas.

Another question that I get asked is how much it cost. I have again summarized the costs so that you can see how much a trip like this might be, and where the individual costs are coming from. I am sure there are some costs that I have overlooked but it is not necessary to give exact costs. One of the flights was paid for with credit card miles so it’s not included here. The costs are for two people and they are divided per person in the following chart. More or less travelers would affect these numbers in predictable ways. Everyone planning a trip will have to pay a little more for certain things but also a little less for certain things. Travel offers an infinite amount of options and ways to customize your trip so that it works for you.

West Coast Road Trip
West Coast Road Trip

As always this cost is just an example of this one specific trip. You can probably do the same trip for $700 or $70,000. Along the trip there were a lot of travelers who were simply hitchhiking their way across the country, spending their nights where they ended up, and eating simply. There were also plenty of travelers paying thousands of dollars for meals and expensive alcohols and driving fancy cars and shopping at expensive stores. Use this chart to give yourself an idea and feel free to move the numbers up or down to suit your trip. For example, we ate whatever we wanted and stayed at nice places. Just these two costs alone came out to about $5,000 or two-thirds of the total cost of the trip. If you eat and sleep cheaper then you can quickly cut off a bunch of the costs.

Normally this is where I would probably give some advice on the trip or talk about takeaways. I kind of can’t do that so easily since it has been so long since the trip. And with the changes to my life my memories will be recalled differently and my emotional response to certain events will be different. I had an awesome time on this road trip and an awesome time traveling this metaphoric road with my favorite travel buddy. I have had the best of times and have many great memories. Surely this isn’t the end of the road that we wanted, but we certainly never thought we would venture off on such a great trip at the start of it all.

Unfortunately I kind of arrived at a path that I did not want to go down. In life there are many important themes and ideals that you strive for. How important is love? How important is happiness? Which is more important than the other? What about comfort, success, family, work, friends, money, innovation, philanthropy, social impact, education, music, experiences, etc.? Everyone has different weights associated with all of these different topics. Maybe family is more important to you than money. Maybe success is more important than happiness. Maybe the opposite is true, etc. What is right for you is different than what is right for other people, and that is fine. For myself I guess I value truth very highly. I can’t imagine anything being more important than the truth. I arrived at a road where I had to choose truth over something that was also very important to me. I had to choose truth over love.

This whole topic of travel and truth and love reminds me of one of my favorite poems and I will end this post here. Its words have always resonated with me and it cannot be more appropriate at the moment. It is a poem called “The Wayfarer” written over a century ago by fellow Asbury Park local Stephen Crane.

The wayfarer,
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
“Ha,” he said,
“I see that none has passed here
In a long time.”
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
“Well,” he mumbled at last,
“Doubtless there are other roads.”

I wish you courage in your travels,
Joe

On a canoe

Road trip 3: Oregon, Washington, Canada

Well it has been a while since last posting. Swung in and out of Canada. Saw a whole bunch of great things and have been having a blasting grinding away on this road trip. Since last posting I had my picture of Dungeness crab viewed by over 100,000 people, which is pretty cool. It’s the most viewed picture that I have ever taken. 100k views, yay! It’s not my best shot but so goes life. Thanks reddit.

28-Aug Mount Hood, OR & Multnomah Falls, OR & Mount Saint Helens, WA

Before leaving Oregon and heading into Washington, there were two stops that we wanted to make. Before we could venture off we were held up for about ten minutes from the lady at the front desk of the hotel. She was giving us random tips about some local cheese farm that we should check out. She told us a bunch of things to do and what to avoid. The people in Oregon all seem to want to chat your ear off. Most people we talked to while getting gas or a coffee would have stories to tell or advice to give. It’s great if you have time to spare but if you’re in a rush you might want to keep your head down and keep moving.

The first place we wanted to check out was a drive around the Mount Hood area. Mount Hood stands out alone amongst the many cliffs and mountains in the area. Apparently the odds of an eruption in the next 30 years are around 5% but it’s generally considered a safe place to visit. Grabbed this panorama during a quick stop at Trillium Lake.

Mount Hood
Mount Hood

There are a bunch of areas to see the mountain and you can spend time hiking or fishing or picnicking around. We tried to drive up the top but were met with a pretty rough road and decided it would be best not to risk the eight mile trek with the rental.

After checking out Mount Hood it was time to venture off to the Columbia River Gorge area. Checked out the famed Multnomah Falls.

Always reminds me of Lothlorien
Always reminds me of Lothlorien

I love this place because the pictures that I have seen always remind me of Lothlorien, a fictional Elven land from The Lord of the Rings. We took a hike up to the top of the falls. It was a nice two and a half mile hike with about 700 feet of elevation gain. Hikes like this have been a good way to get out of the car and get some much needed exercise to break up the sitting around.

After checking out the falls we headed out to Mount Saint Helens. We drove to the Climber’s Bivouac. It’s an area you can park and take a ten mile round-trip hike with 4500 foot elevation gain to the rim of the volcano. As it was getting dark and we weren’t prepared for it we obviously opted out. If anyone is up to climb to the top of the volcano you will probably be warned not to get to close to the edge. People have fallen over and fatalities have occurred. Just like in any of the parks there are tons of dangers associated with what you do. Be smart out there. That’s GoPro footage we just don’t need. Snapped a picture near the top facing the other direction. Descended down and got out for a little more hiking until the darkness rolled in.

Top of Mount St. Helens
Top of Mount St. Helens

29-Aug Seattle, WA

Decided to call our first audible of the trip. Originally the plan was to spend the day in Mount Rainer, WA & Olympic, WA but we decided to skip those for Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

Seattle was an awesome city. Spent the beginning of the day in Pike Place Market. Checked out the little shops selling fresh food and drink. They have everything from seafood to fresh flowers and coffee.

Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market

The market was packed so we opted for seafood at Elliott’s Oyster House down by the water. After a nice lunch we swung back to the market to grab coffee from Storyville Coffee. It’s tucked away a floor above the ruckus on the streets. We could have went to Starbucks, as their first store is located in Pike Place. But a huge line for coffee I can get anywhere else didn’t seem worth it. Nothing but props to Starbucks for what it has done for coffee in this country, but we have moved past the quality that it provides.

After coffee it was time to head to the downtown area. Saw the Space Needle. So here’s that obligatory photo.

Space Needle
Space Needle

Afterwards we went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. It features some incredible work by famed glass blower Dale Chihuly. I always thought his work was impressive so it was awesome to see many of his great pieces all in one place. If you haven’t heard of Dale Chihuly he is possibly the greatest glass artist ever or possibly an old hack that wouldn’t be anyone without his amazing team of blowers. I think his work is impressive. As it goes with artists, having a large super talented team is often necessary to achieve the long lasting success and fame that many of the greats hold. Regardless here are a few pieces that I thought were great.

Look at this insane detail, transparency, quality, thinness, etc.

Transparency, detail, delicacy
Transparency, detail, delicacy

I loved this wild and colorful installation.

This is some cool glass
This is some cool glass

Here’s an angle from the rear.

Fun stuff
Fun stuff

These two boats loaded with various glass pieces is so crazy looking.

Mastery
Mastery

I honestly thought this piece out in the gardens was just a cool looking tree when I saw it from a distance.

I thought it was a tree
I thought it was a tree

After the museum we headed out to Brouwer’s Cafe to check out the beers that Seattle had to offer. Like some of the places in Portland, Brouwer’s Cafe had an out of control bottle list. I’ve been trying to have a taste of Firestone Walker Parabola for some time now. They had four different years available. Ended up trying the last 2010 they had in stock, leaving them with the 2013-2015. Unfortunately the bottles at the shop cannot be purchased for taking home.

2010 Firestone Walker Parabola
2010 Firestone Walker Parabola

30-Aug Mostly driving from Seattle to Jasper

The plan for the next day was to hang in the San Juan Islands, but we decided to invest most of the day in making the long trek from Seattle to Jasper. Some of the locals who have been to the East Coast referred to the San Juan Islands as the Cape Cod of the North West. I can’t say whether that is true or not but sounds like it would have been a fun time. While Cape Cod may be a great time, there’s no way we were willing to give up the epicness of Jasper and Banff.

The day started with a last taste of fresh Dungeness crab in the town of Oak Harbor. It came from a half seafood and half smoke house place called Seabolt’s Smoke House. They had good seafood and awesome beef jerky and smoked oysters that I have been enjoying to keep me fueled up on the trip.

More crab
More crab

After hanging in Oak Harbor for a bit we set off for a whole bunch of driving. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for some rain, high winds, water accumulation, fog, darkness, insane truckers, and wildlife. We took our time and crushed the drive without any issues. No road is ever going to hold me back.

31-Aug Jasper, AB, CAN

The rain continued into the following day but there was enough sunshine to make the day in Jasper a beautiful one. I think this park will look great in any circumstances. Started off the day with some elk.

More elk
More elk

Then some driving through the park.

Driving through Jasper
Driving through Jasper

Random pull offs in this park give you views like this.

Random pull off in Jasper
Random pull off in Jasper

We ended up taking an hour and a half boat ride from the Maligne Lake terminal out to Spirit Island. It’s an island that you may see frequently photographed from people who visit Jasper. The clouds are there but that glacier water is still gorgeous.

Spirit Island
Spirit Island

Finished off the day with some awesome Indian food in the town of Banff and then grabbed some sleep at this awesome luxury resort. It was a great night of sleep, or editing photos and working on this write up.

1-Sep Banff, AB, CAN

Banff is another amazing park. You don’t really have to say much about it. The nature is big and beautiful out here like it is in Jasper. Everywhere you look there are gorgeous views and sights. We headed off to Lake Louise.

Lake Louise
Lake Louise

Hopped out on a canoe. There was some rain rolling in so we got rained on a bit while we were out there but it was a great time. Pretty awesome experience canoeing out on Lake Louise. I’ve seen a ton of pictures of that lake and never thought I would be out in the middle of it on a canoe with my love. Was a great time.

On a canoe
On a canoe

After Lake Louise we stopped in Peyto Lake. It’s another glacier fed lake. The color of this water gets me every time. Such a great view after a short hike.

Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake

After Peyto Lake it was time to leave Canada. We made it back into the United States a little late at night. It’s weird that the borders of the country are closed at certain hours, but luckily this wasn’t an issues going in to Canada or coming back into the United States. I guess if you are locked out of your own country for being a little late then you just bum around in whatever country you are in until it opens. Pretty bizarre but something to keep in mind if your crossing borders.

So that’s about it. At the moment currently in Glacier, getting ready to see the park tomorrow.