Sunday, June 7, 2009

Days 11 to 213 - THE END

Author - Grant

From - Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada

To - Santa Barbara, California, USA

Miles Driven - 1379 (That’s One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Nine)

Photos - There are none...we just drove

So after nearly 22,000 miles (that’s just 3000 miles short of circumnavigating the globe), half a million calories and a smidge over 7 months on the road, we have finally called it quits. Despite not seeing everything we set out to see (most notably Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore, The Wild Wild West, Chicago and Michegan), we are using the excuse of the impending sprog to cut short our travel plans and do sensible things like buy a house, get a job and generally stop living like a couple of hobos.  It’s a shame though as we were so close to reaching Platinum Royalty Double Diamond Elite status with the La Quinta hotel/motel chain.  In fact, I’m fully expecting a call from their CEO in the coming weeks just to make sure we’re OK as our absence may worry them.

Now whilst this final blog entry is supposed to cover our final days on the trip, I don’t really want to part on such dull terms because no amount of spin could translate our 25 hours spent driving in just three days into anything remotely resembling interesting.  As such, what I want to do is to reflect and try to summarize what we have learnt in 31 points on what clearly should be a life changing journey.  So, in no particular order...

  1. It might sound obvious but I’m going to say it nevertheless - this country is beautiful.  From the oceans, to the praries, to the mountains white with snow.  God Bless America, my home sweet home. (They’re the lyrics from a particularly patriotic song just in case you think I have turned completely Yank).
  2. According to Kate, there is no scenario under which it is funny to call Kate ‘fat’.  I am not so sure.
  3. Whipping out a camera in a restaurant when they put the plates down never fails gets strange looks from co-diners and staff alike.
  4. There isn’t a museum in the country that can’t be fully explored in 30 minutes...including a visit to the cafe.
  5. Petting animals in this country will either kill you or out you in a coma for a month.
  6. “What kind of dog is that?” is the single most asked question we have been on the receiving end of and, coincidently, the most dull.
  7. Doing 72 mph on a 70 mph road is considered speeding and will get you a date with an officer whom you must address as sir or ma’am (be sure to get this the right way round) who will still undoubtedly issue with a ticket and a fine.
  8. The more a hotel room costs, the less is automatically included.  For example, a La Quinta room costs $80 per night on average and includes wifi, breakfast, pool, gym (apparently) and all cable channels whilst $80 in your average upscale hotel will barely cover the tip for the guys that take 20 minutes to deliver your luggage.
  9. The best place we visited was...actually it’s not quite that simple.  Firstly our best memories are usually in the places that had the best accommodation (like Asheville in NC where we had a detached cottage for a week over Christmas) but it also completely depends on what you’re into.  If you love roller coasters or wrinkles then you’ll love Florida.  Like meat?  Visit Texas.  Enjoy shivering and leaves?  Hit New England.  Pueblos?  New Mexico.  Cacti?  Get a life.
  10. It doesn’t matter if a once in a millennium cosmic event is happening, John & Kate Plus Eight takes priority.
  11. The definition of “Dog Friendly” ranges from “dogs completely welcome” to “we’ll happily charge you $50 for your dog staying but we’re also going to impose some unrealistically restrictive rules”.
  12. Never, ever, ever order more than one starter between two people in any American chain restaurant else you’ll have to buy your clothes from speciality circus stores.
  13. 4D cinemas are exceptions.
  14. Kate’s version of sharing the driving is to only drive when I am drunk or too hungover to drive.  That works out best for everyone.
  15. It’s possible to distinguish between country music songs if you listen to about 100 hours of Country Music Radio.
  16. Don’t buy CDs from bands in bars as you’ll never listen to them ever again.
  17. Of the Food Network stars’ restaurants we sampled, only Michael Symon provided us with a decent meal.  Conversely, Paula Dean made bulimia look tempting.
  18. The best way to maximise the amount of skiing you do on a skiing holiday is to get your other half up the duff so she can’t ski thus leaving you free to explore the mountain at your own pace.
  19. Conversely, the best way to avoid the laborious chore of packing and unpacking the car is to get yourself up the duff.
  20. There may not necessarily alway be meat available to buy, even at the World Championship Barbeque Contest.
  21. 99.9% of Americans think that our accents are Australian.  That’s just 11,000 miles off target.
  22. No one should die before trying the Apple Pie A La Mode from Cold Stone Creamery.  For a bonus dollar, they will sing your favourite jingle...but none of them know the Eastenders theme tune.
  23. Cycling is for poofs...unless you are dodging alligators just half a meter from your pedal.
  24. The most pleasant way to start the day is with a Bloody Mary at the Top Notch resort in Stowe, Vermont.
  25. The worst way to start the day is under gunfire in New Orleans.
  26. A good way to avoid car crime is to buy an unappealing car...I suggest the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan with Stow & Go seats.
  27. There is nowhere to hide once you’ve had a row in a car.
  28. If you take your dog on a 4 hour walk up a mountain, she will limp the following day.
  29. An afternoon at the baseball is an all round family winner.  For me there is sport and booze and for Kate there is sun and men in lycra.
  30. Both Brett Michaels and Donald Trump picked the wrong people.
  31. Any road labelled “scenic” might as well come with sick bags.

Seven months well spent if you ask me. 

So now we’re in Santa Barbara and we’re already deep into house hunting.  Firstly we have found a massive, haunted rental place for the first two months that we move into today and secondly we have found a couple of houses that tick all our boxes and fit our budget.  In fact, I have to finish this entry because we’re off to the the realtor’s office to sign an offer.  How grown up is that?!

So that’s it from Eating America.  Thanks for your patronage and come see us soon.

Grant, Kate, Molly & The Bump.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Days 208 to 210 - Vancouver Pt 2

Author - Kate

Based In - Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada

Photos -

Grant has had to go home before on the trip and to be honest the time passed pretty slowly and me and Molly were kinda bored on our own.  This time being in the same town as two uni mates meant that the days flew by but as a preggars lady with no stamina I have to admit to being completely knackered out by the crazy social schedule.  Dont get me wrong, we only went out to one bar (I had cranberry juice) and we didnt actually leave the girls flat after dark but chatting, wandering round town, shopping and eating with the girls is tiring when you have got used to the regime that Grant and I have been following (lay ins every day and  3pm naps followed by a coma like sleep at around 10pm, mainly eating filling the time in between).   I feel like I got to know Vancouver really well but more importantly I got to catch up with Charlie and Chatty.

On Friday Sarah took the day off and the three of us headed to Deep cove which is a beautiful lake or river or something (I havnt gotten any more into the details without Grant) and the houses there are amazing.  We all want to live there and that may be why the houses are around 7 million each - ah well.  Sarah asked if we wanted to hike to the rock overlooking the water.  I panicked slightly as the start of the hike seems to be 10 flights of stairs and thats not really part of the regime I mentioned earlier but luckily Charlie didnt fancy it either so I didnt come off as too much of a wimp.  Instead we had a stroll and then lunch on a patio of a nice restaurant and drooled over the houses in the local real estate mag.   

The weather was awesome the whole time we were in town so we’d spent a lot of time outside while we were there.  Saturday we opted for some indoors time for a change and went shopping in Kits.  Kits is a cool little part of Vancouver with loads of shops and brunchy places that for some reason has loads of maternity stores so Sarah took me into a couple.  The thing is Sarah seemed much more relaxed about me being pregnant than I was feeling that morning.  I was getting freaked out by all of the weird tops with holes for breast feeding and when I tried on a baby bump pillow to see how my belly will look soon I had to rip it off to prevent a mini panic attack.  So we ditched the baby shops and went to find Sarah a hot date outfit so that I could live vicariously.  

Since it was still boiling we headed to Kips beach once Charlie finished work and had a pinic along with the whole of the rest of Vancouver.  I hadnt pictured people bbq-ing on beaches when I thought about Canada but for a couple of weeks / months over summer the beaches are packed full of people playing footie and volleyball.  Its got a very young vibe and made me wonder if Santa Barbara will feel a bit old compared to it but then Im feeling quite old these days though so maybe it’ll be ok.  

The next day was roasting again so Sarah and I wandered over to Granville Island to get lunch and then met Charlie after work for goodbye drinks.  Like I said there was no crazy partying just nights in with videos and hanging out but I was wrecked at this point and so after picking Grant up form the airport (he had pretty much lost his voice from shouting at the football) we both fell asleep at 8pm - he must’ve been missing his afternoon naps too.

In 3 days the trip will be over, kind of, we will be house hunting and still new in town so its not exactly like going back to work but it will be different.  Im looking forward to getting settled but Im gonna miss our trip.      

Monday, June 1, 2009

Days 208 to 210 - Grant's Version

Photos from my weekend back in London watching my team lose the Fa Cup Final to Chelsea, but certainly not the social battle...

The link below contains the full meltdown...

Days 204 to 207 - Why Does Your Wallpaper Smell Like Ghandi’s Flip Flop?

Author - Grant

Based In - Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada

Photos -

You’re getting a two stage report on Vancouver as I’ll cover the first four days that we spent there and Kate will cover the next three days when I abandoned her in favour of a football match taking place four thousand miles to the east.  In my defense, I did leave her in the very capable hands of two of our friends who have emigrated to Canada...but the reality is that I would have happily left her in Baghdad as the order of importance goes Football, Beer, Pies then the wife.  She knew the rules when we got married...

Still, we had four days with which to explore Vancouver and I think we used them very wisely by managing to combine culture, exercise and curry in equal measures.  Exercise is something that particularly hard to avoid in this hyper-active city thanks to the Seawall Path which almost completely circles central Vancouver which just begs to be biked, jogged and walked.  Even a fatty like me managed to complete the trio during my short stay but the bike ride was definitely the highlight as it encompassed the idyllic Stanley Park.  As has been widely commented on in prior blog entries, Kate’s fitness is diminishing as her preggo waist expands so whilst the bike ride was picturesque, it wasn’t much of a work-out thanks to an average speed which saw us being overtaken by rollerbladers and even a skate boarder at one point.  We’re just lucky that much of the path wasn’t wheelchair friendly...

It’s always a massive bonus to visit cities where we know people - not only because they can give us the inside scoop on the best places to visit but, because they physically live here, they have a kitchen that I can take over.  And that’s how I ended up cooking dinner for nine people in Charlie and Sarah’s 26th floor apartment last Wednesday evening.  As Sarah had been give an Indian cuisine cook book for her birthday, she was keen to test drive a few of the recipes (by which I mean she wanted me to cook them and I was more than happy to oblige).  It wasn’t completely a solo effort through as I had various sous chefs throughout the evening who helped in less orthodox ways than you might expect such as doing a magnificent ‘midget on a ladder’ routine and another one who managed a full 6 hour rendition of a mentally unstable hypochondriac (probably because she was a mentally unstable hypochondriac).  Still, they didn’t impede the end result too much as we sat down for a pretty passable meal involving...

  • Popadoms, Cucumber Raita and Mango Chutney
  • Pan Fried Paneer, Chili & Cous Cous Cakes on a Fragrant Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Salad
  • Beef Curry (unanimously agreed to be about Madras heat and confirmed the following morning on it’s way back out)
  • Grainy Mustard Marinaded Lamb Lollipops with Creamy Curry Sauce
  • Fenugreek Infused Roasted Asparagus (probably the nicest individual dish and the simplest)
  • Coconut Basmati Rice (a bit stodgy but I was quite mullered by the time this had to be cooked)

The only things better than the grub were the company and the copious flowing wine.  The worst thing about the evening (for the permanent residents of this apartment) is that it’s five days after the event and apparently the wallpaper still tastes of lamb bhuna.  Glad I don’t have to live there...

The final noteworthy offering has to be the Granville Island Public Market which we managed to visit twice - once to collect the produce for the Indian feast and once in full tourist mode to sample the various food stuffs on offer, lounge in the sun and pretend not to be transfixed by one of the disproportionately huge number of street performers that call Vancouver their home.  The first trip was a fairly rushed affair but the choice and quality of fresh produce on offer was clearly apparent and go an awful long way to explain the success of the dishes it went on to produce...along with the fact that most people were four sheets to the wind by the time dinner was eventually served.  The tourist trip happened the morning after the Indian feast and hence I arrived with the hunger, if not the body, of a Tour De France cyclist.  As such, the first stop was always going to be the home made pie shop which I spied the previous day but was in too big a hurry to take advantage of.  Pie is a teasing phrase here in North America as all too often it means a dessert (apple, cheery, pumpkin etc) but to me it means a flaky crust filled with something meaty and, ideally, surrounded in gravy.  Luckily the particular stall I chose agreed with my definition and hence, just minutes after landing on Granville Island, I was taking the edge off my rampant hangover induced hunger with a peppercorn steak pie.  Next onto the main event and whilst the girls came back from their hunt with healthy looking salads and vegetables in rice paper, I came back with an everything bagel smothered in butter and filled with a stack of warm, wafer thin smoked pork.  It was pretty extraordinary and even the smokey butter dripping off my elbows eventually got consumed.  Still room to squeeze down a home made date bar before finally declaring myself full and remembering that I was due on a flight in a few hours so, for the sake of my fellow passengers, it was time to leave this magical island and pack some pants and a toothbrush in preparation for my trip.

Kate will lead you through the following few days but I’ll bet you a whole shiny Canadian dollars that it involves ice cream...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Days 200 to 203 - Eatlots In Seattle

Author - Grant

Based In - Seattle, Washington

Photos -

There is no doubt that we are seeing the Pacific North West at its very finest because when the sun comes out to play, so does its residents .  Thanks to a climate not too dissimilar to Northern England, on the rare occasion that the sun does make an appearance, everybody makes a huge deal of it with every grain of sand at the beach covered with greased up bodies and every blade of grass in the parks crammed with frisbee flinging fathers.  So when I look back at the photos of our time in Seattle, there aren’t a huge number of monumental things that I can drone on at length about because the majority our time there was spent wandering around soaking up the thrilling ambiance of this outstanding city.

Of course, as various promotional posters told us, “no trip to Seattle is complete without a ride up the Space Needle”.  What they really mean is “I know our city is incredible for mindless meandering but that doesn’t result in dollars in the city’s coffers so please pay $16 each for a 30 second ride in an elevator to get exactly the same view as you can get from the top of any of the seven hills that surround Seattle...please”.  Yes, it’s a lovely view as the distant snow-capped mountains and the city’s tallest buildings sandwich the idyllic island strewn bay but the price tag is still a bit steep.  Luckily we managed to visit at the same time as North America’s largest folk festival was in full swing around the base of the needle, giving us the opportunity to gawp at a plethora of crazily dressed hippies and to tap our toes to the many bands.  Still, my favourite attraction was a chap walking round wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and carrying a cardboard sign declaring “punch me in the stomach as hard as you like for $5”.  The economy is hitting real hard in these here parts...

On more than one occasion we heard that the Olympic Sculpture Park was well worth a visit but I was not particularly keen, still reeling somewhat from the sting of the Space Needle.  When I learnt it was free, however, all my protestations vanished and hence we found ourselves doing something uncharacteristicly cultural.  It wasn’t long, though, before I remembered why this sort of activity is rarely on the schedule as I felt the familiar hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention, the blood progress from simmering to boiling and my voice getting louder and louder as I came face to face with a bunch of 25 foot tall, rusting metal tubes that were supposed to symbolise “spaces or volumes created by the slightest opposition to their masses or penetrated by vectors, traversed by momentum...abstractions which resemble no living things except by their manner of reacting”.  I know they say that art is subjective - well this sort of art isn’t.  It’s bollocks and that isn’t my opinion, it’s just the truth.  It does explain, however, the signs warning that dogs may not defecate on the surrounding lawns - clearly they are worried that someone might pickle it and charge 50 grand for it.

Another sign that we chose the perfect time to visit this region was the abundance of Farmer’s Markets on offer.  Whilst our lack of kitchen means that we can rarely take advantage of their incredible fresh offerings, we still sadistically visited three during our time in Seattle as I find the opportunity to gaze longingly on their wares just too much to resist.  Kate also seems well up for it and it has taken me a whopping seven months to work out that is because nearly every farmer’s market in the land contains a creperie where she can get her fix of banana and nutella.  The pick of the bunch had to be the famous Pike Place Market which was bought in 1965 by a guy called Yokoyama who changed the management practice by making it an incredibly fun place to work and declaring it to be world famous.  As he says, “We took a stand that we were going to be world famous.  We just said it and it became so”.  I like this idea of self-fulfilling prophecies which is why I describe myself as a Calvin Kline model in the lonely hearts ads.  Still, the result of his initiatives is a market of mighty fine produce that is served with real showmanship.  This is best exemplified by the fishmongers who chant orders in unison and perform a fish throwing routine that Cirque Du Soleil would be proud of.  The dweeb cook inside me couldn’t help but think that the 15 foot tosses must somehow bruise the fish but then I remembered that it’s all in the name of fun and that Le Bernadin are unlikely to be buying from here.

On the subject of food, we once again treated ourselves shockingly well with some mighty fine seafood at Ivar’s (I’m not sure what will stick in my mind the longest - the huge, juicy fried oysters or the freaky man named Stacey who we shared a table with), surprisingly high quality steaks at The Keg (where a prime rib filled me up for an entire 24 hours) and a cracking diner across the river in Fremont called Roxy’s (where the green eggs and ham might be the best brunch eggs I’ve had the pleasure of getting the other side of).  But the most surprising meal was the best pizza of my life in Piecora’s which sat in the heart of Capitol Hill, Seattle’s overtly gay-friendly district (it didn’t require a particularly strong gaydar to work this out thanks to the abundance of tight shorts and punk drag nuns).

So as I have hopefully portrayed, we had a blast in Seattle and it definitely goes down as one of my very favourite cities that we have visited but the sun definitely helped as apparently this place has the highest suicide rate in the country during the months when the sun sets at 4pm and the rain forecast is measured in months rather than hours.  Being English, all that does is confirm exactly why pubs have roofs but I guess that’s what they mean about being two nations divided by a common language.

Next stop is our second foray into Canada on this trip as we’re heading directly north to Vancouver in British Columbia.  Kate will be here for the full week whilst I’m only hanging around for three days before heading back to the UK for the FA Cup Final.  After that, a combination of our excitement and impatience means that we’re going to cut the rest of the trip short and make a bee-line for Santa Barbara to begin some real house-hunting.  What this means for Eating America is that we’ve got one remaining blog from Vancouver and then it’s all going to be over as I’m doubting there’s going to be much of interest to report as we spend 3 or 4 days crunching out 1250 miles on the southbou

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Days 197 to 199 - Portland’s Dark Secret Unveiled

Author - Grant

Based In - Portland, Oregan

Photos -

We spent a total of four nights in Portland and (to completely plagiarize someone else joke) like one hit wonder Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn.  On one hand, it definitely has more plus points than your average city but it has exactly three big negatives that put me off wanting to live here.  As such, I’m putting Portland in the same category as Lisa “the bike” Hughes from my High School - thrilling to occasionally visit but not somewhere I’d want to spend too much time in.

Let’s start off with the positives...and the first one is a monster.  In fact it’s such a big tick that it almost overrides all of the negatives on its own.  It is, of course, beer.  Apparently Portland has more micro-breweries per square mile than anywhere else on the planet (a fact I overheard somewhere and cannot back up but it sounds both impressive and correct) which has spawned the rise of the brew-pub.  Considering that Kate isn’t drinking, bless her for enduring more than a handful of these dens and, more importantly, of volunteering for designated driver duty.  It might sound harsh that I haven’t given up alcohol to show her support but I have given up caffeine which is harder than it sounds in a country that runs on java.  Anyway, back to the brew pubs.  Obviously each place has its own identity but they do have a few traits in common such as minimal decor, dog-friendly outside tables, a basic and limited food menu and a line-up of superstar beers that rarely contain less than 6% alc by volume and almost always taste like what I imagine is served in the bar in Heaven.  It’s going to be almost impossible to return to drinking the regular piss churned out by the big breweries after this mini Oktoberfest but it does prove that America makes some fine artisanal beers that can more than adequately indulge my IPA habit.  But more than just the quality, it’s the culture that goes along with it.  It’s a sad reflection on my weakness but one of the biggest things I miss about the UK is the drinking culture and so it brings a smile to my face and warmth to the cockles of my heart to see big tables of friends sat around in the middle of the afternoon necking fine ales, laughing heartily and smoking like they still haven’t figured out they’re kind of bad for you.

Next on the plus list is the grub as every category of food we have partaken in was top drawer (excluding the McDonalds which we’ll chalk up to a pregnancy craving).  From the fresher than fresh Voodoo Donuts (covered in the last blog) through a plain old panini at J’s Cafe (served with an abundance of style, love, originality and kettle crisps) to simple brew-house snack plates (such as the garlicy humous in the Lucky Labrador served with a loaf of fresh, crusty bread) and full blown meals...we’ve been a bit spoiled.  The creme de la creme, however, came on the last night thanks again to a tip from 17’ 3’’ Brooklyn Mike.  Like a troll that at first appears unfriendly, Montage sits under a bridge on the north side of the river that splits Portland but clearly we answered his three questions correctly as we gained access to the, at first glance, classically beautiful dining room.  It’s only on further inspection, once your eyes have adjusted to the low level lighting, that it becomes apparent that something is a little amiss.  It’s nothing in particular but the combination of the servers who may be wearing traditional uniforms but, in true hipster style, they are all a couple of sizes too small which reveals the obligatory tattoos and the cooks who are on full show (especially from our kitchen facing bench) and look like they all need a good wash as they continue their presumably years-old competition of “who can shout ‘Order Up’ in the most ridiculous and loud fashion”.  Or maybe it’s the paintings that are versions of classics (such as the last supper) but with chefs taking the lead characters and somehow they all look like they are cutting up lines.  Still, please don’t think this is a criticism as it all makes for a really unique atmosphere as there is never a dull moment in here...and, as a bonus, the Southern themed food just enhances the whole experience.  To start, Kate ticked ‘veggies’ off her daily list of things to eat whilst preggo (more on this another day as it’s an incredible chore) by having a salad whilst I had sautéed frog’s legs with a smoky, spicy cold remoulade.  I’ve only had frog’s legs a few times but these were far and away the best I have had as they were tender, juicy, meaty and surprisingly big which is always a crowd pleaser at the MacNaughton table.  Only after having the appetiser did I remember that I forgot to order the house speciality which is an Oyster Shooter (a freshly shucked west coast oyster with lashings of the same remoulade and fresh lemon juice) so I fit one in between courses for good measure.  For mains, Kate had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken (3 crispy drumsticks) with garlic mashed potato and a succotash of veg whilst I had a spicy macaroni pasta dish with andouille sausage.  They were both excellent but nothing could top those legs which will surely replace Lisa Smith as the thing I think about last before drifting off to sleep for the next few weeks.  Now the shocking part was still to come as the total cost for the food portion of this meal came to less than $30 which is just incredible value.  Another home run from the Mike guide to the Pacific Northwest.

I realise this entry is getting a bit big now (and it’s nearly dinner time) so I’ll try to limit the unnecessary detail but also well worth a mention is Portland’s proximity to a vast amount of nature (the vast and beautiful Forest Park is on its doorstep), the beautiful river front and its vibrant downtown.  Still, as I mentioned at the start, three things hold it back from promoting from great to exceptional.  In true Miss World style, let’s do them in reverse order of importance...

In third place is, unsurprisingly, the weather.  We caught the place in the middle of summer but annually it gets about 150 days of rain which makes Manchester look almost tropical in comparison.  Second place goes to the inhabitants who admittedly provide some world class people watching fodder but it just seems like everyone is achingly cool and unique which would be seriously hard to fit in with (and yes, I do understand the non-sensibility of trying to fit in with uniqueness but you get my meaning).  So that just leaves the crowning reason why Portland is not somewhere I would want to live and it is such an appalling characteristic that it almost makes me sick to write it down.  I’m just going to blurt it out and let you make your own decision.  Portland invented the shopping mall.  There, I said it.  Apparently the Lloyd Center was the first mall in America and its success spawned the global phenomenon which has directly resulted in ruining too many of my Sundays outside the football season.  I could have forgiven the place for Nazi sympathising but inventing Shopping Malls is a step too far for me.

So there you have it, such a great city but with such a dark secret.  Tomorrow we leave for four nights in Seattle.  Fingers crossed we don’t discover they invented the Chick Flick.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 196 - Twenty Thousand Miles And Counting...

Author - Grant

From - Eugene, Oregon

To - Portland, Oregon

Via - Salem, Oregon

Miles Driven - 102

Photos -

Sometimes traveling days area bit naff because we do nothing other than sit in the car but today’s trip from Eugene to Portland was only a couple of hours so we still had a full day to fart around.  In addition to this, I was also keen to get full value for money from our expensive hotel room so I was never going to be checking out until just a few seconds before midday.  As such, the morning was spent cycling along the 15 mile park-laden riverside path that divides Eugene which was crazy pretty and was made all the more entertaining by watching a woman chase her dog through a lake in order to retrieve her retriever who was busy retrieving swans by the neck.

The trip to Portland was noteworthy for two reasons.  Firstly we hit the 20,000 mile mark and secondly for being the least crooked road we seem to have driven in the past month which was pure bliss.  Usually the nicest roads are the minor roads that take us through numerous villages but I have to say that it was quite a relief to be back on a huge interstate.  They say that the best bit about arriving is the journey - well that’s only the case if you arrive not feeling like you’ve just spent a month at sea.  Lunch was a seriously serene picnic in Salem, the state capital which seems tiny but I guess that Oregon isn’t that well a populated state so it makes sense that it looks more like a model village.

We’ve been looking forward to getting to Portland for a while now, not just because of its reputation as an all round cool place but also because it contains Voodoo Donuts.  If you haven’t heard of this place then it’s a really kooky, 24 hour place that serves a multitude of weird and whacky styles of deep fried dough.  Their signature donut (which we had, obviously) is the shape of a voodoo doll complete with raspberry blood and a pretzel stake through the heart and our other choice was a donut covered in maple syrup icing and topped with a couple of slices of crispy bacon.  They were both ridiculously/dangerously good and I get the feeling that this isn’t going to be our only trip there over the coming days - they’re even worth enduring the side order of hipster attitude that comes with every purchase.

We’re here for another three nights so I’ll probably do a blog later this week covering our entire stay.  Lazy but hopefully more interesting.