Month: April 2018

Did someone say food trucks?

There’s a thing you should know about us and travel.

That thing is sometimes called sashimi and sometimes called buffalo wings; sometimes pretzel dog or pizza and sometimes mac and cheese or clam chowder. This thing has a side-kick as well, which is sometimes a glass of wine, sometimes a bloody mary, sometimes a locally brewed beer and almost always a (Beanhunter-recommended) coffee.

For us, a journey is a lot about food and culture and not so much about monuments and history. Food is the fuel that keeps us going when we travel, it’s the opportunity to sit somewhere and watch the locals go by and it’s the translation of a country’s traditions and pride into something you can become a part of through taste.

As it turned out, our last stop in North America, Portland, had some pretty big bragging rights when it came to food, including a massive variety of food trucks, world-renowned donuts and beautifully-melt-in-your-mouth-buttery-based pies.

Oh my, oh my.

Before I get lost in a daydream about Portland’s food (and lose all of you who’d rather read about other things) let me rewind back to our departure from the chilled-out Vancouver Island. We were up bright (actually, it was dark) and early on our day of departure and had pre-booked a ferry (lesson learned!) to avoid the predictable multi-hour delay at the ferry terminal going back to Vancouver.

Having arrived back on the mainland nice and early, our first stop (of course) had to be food – so Maren took us to a Korean-inspired, student-filled café somewhere in Vancouver’s “Asian suburbs.” After a good meal here of fried potatoes, meat and thick slices of black bread, we drove on to Golden Ears Provincial Park, about an hour outside of Vancouver, to walk off lunch –and enjoy one last taste of BC’s natural delights.

After walking through – but not discovering the story behind the name of – Golden Ears, we made our way back to Vancouver. As the sun set over the mountains, some of them still covered in a light coating of snow, we ate sashimi in Queen Elizabeth Park and looked out over this lovely city, innerley thankful for the chance to explore it these past 10 days.

That evening we made a fire in the fireplace with no cover, drank more red wine (surprise, surprise), did ridiculous amounts of washing that took ridiculous amounts of time to dry and enjoyed our last night in Canada in Maren’s cosy basement apartment.

The next morning, we were up in the dark again (so relaxing, this holiday!?) to catch the first train to Portland. We had a table setting for four to ourselves and spent the next 8 hours catching up on sleep, looking out the window and listening the conductor over the speaker telling us that every stop we pulled into was “a jewel of the Pacific North West… don’t miss it!… Please.”

On arrival in Portland, we were greeted by hipsters and good coffee, a street full of bars and antique shops within walking distance to our Air BnB and a quaint neighbourhood that looked like Spring in a Babysitters Club teenage novel.

Our friend Sheldon (aka Sheridan) joined us shortly after we arrived, and as an awesome foursome we spent the next 2 days hiking from one hipster café to another, from craft market to mega-bookshop and from donut shop to food truck. We well and truly ate our way through this “City of Roses”, even scoring ourselves some free donuts for complimenting the server on his groovy dance moves.

We (kind of) figured out the city’s public transport system (even though that included one bus trip in the wrong direction), checked out a local church for Easter Sunday and spent our last, rainy evening drinking local beers and playing “What do you meme” until our eyes were wet from laughter.

Then, before we knew what was happening, it was time to say goodbyes and we were all sitting in our separate Ubers making our way to our next destination – Maren back to Vancouver, Sheldon to Seattle and us to the airport for our flight to LA, then home.

It has been a short holiday but a wonderful one, filled with laughter and eating and red wine and fires. I loved the ferries and the gloomy beaches, the green pine trees and the way people said “ah-huh” instead of “you’re welcome” when I thanked them.

Most of all though, I loved seeing my sister and spending time with special people. It is truly a joy and a blessing to love and be loved, and I am eternally grateful to our wonderful Father in heaven who brings us together in this life and continues to bless us, protect us and shower us with love so far beyond our comprehension and deserving.

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1)

Driftwood and Black Bears

If a bear shows intense interest, follows or advances toward you, you should keep the bear in view but avoid eye contact, make yourself as large as possible, talk softly at it (?!) and back away slowly. Under no circumstances should you turn around and run – you cannot outrun a bear. Oh, and if you’re attacked, just fight back.

Right. Glad that’s settled.

These signs, posted by British Columbia (BC) Parks at most national and provincial park carparks, was enough to give me temporary wildlife-spotting paranoia and put me slightly on edge every time we went for a walk.

Lucky the scenery was beautiful.

For the last four days, we have been on Vancouver Island, the much larger home of many driftwood-strewn beaches, small towns with cute coffee shops and multi-day hikes.

Our home was a tiny cabin in a place called Jordan River, surrounded by trees strung with yellow glowing lightbulbs and with the constant sound of the ocean splashing against the shore below.

It was another rustic Canadian experience – the toilet was in an outhouse, 100m from the house (with no running water and only 3 walls, so that you faced directly into open nature when doing your business) and the only shower was an outdoor one, hidden at the back of a shed at the other side of the property. Tell you what, a single digit breeze coming at you when you’re under a hot stream of water is a new and unusual experience!

It was just the three of us this time – Maren, Tyson and I, as Agust had to go back to Boston to keep fighting fires (that’s his job, not his hobby). We made sure Maren was distracted from missing her long-distance lover by providing plenty of red wine, dancing and camp fires (leading to the famous Tyson-holding-axe-photo) and Maren proudly showed us this place that she had visited a couple of times before.

The people were nicer in Jordan River – less creeper-ish than on the northern islands – and we loved enjoying local coffee (or “London Fog”) and breakfast, hiking down to beaches and through moss-covered forests and even taking a day trip to Victoria, British Columbia’s capital, for a spot (read: a few hours) of thrift shopping, some delicious seafood and even more coffee (we’re on a constant hunt to find superior tasting drip coffee substitutes).

It’s been a wonderful middle stint of the trip – thanks Vancouver Island, you’ve been a gem! Now back to Vancouver, then Portland, we go.