Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

On Riding a Bicycle for 20 Miles on a Whim

Summer is winding down in Portland, but we still have sunny days and the weather is still in the 70’s for at least a few hours a day. A few weeks ago we were actually going through one of our approximately 3 heat spells, when the weather got above 80 degrees and stayed there for a few days.We don’t have air conditioners, so steps had to be taken.

d42 and I have been eyeing our bicycles for a few years now, thinking about how we should ride them maybe, instead of just allow them to be one more awkward thing do deal with when moving to yet another apartment. All that eyeing finally culminated in us dragging the bikes out into the sun, dusting them off, spending approximately 2 hours attempting to fill the tires with air, and then, finally, getting on and shakily taking off.

The major factor in bikes finally getting ridden is the 40 mile loop called the Springwater Corridor, which starts downtown Portland, continues to about a mile away from our apartment complex and then actually heads into Gresham (where I work) and continues all the way to Boring, Oregon (must have been an incredibly unexciting settlement). Because we are still New Yorkers, it is in our nature to ignore, if not actively frown upon, anything that attracts attention and could be seen as a landmark. This was taught to us by the thousands of tourists that make Times Square an unendurable excercise in angry shuffling along with an enormous crowd that is never in a hurry. And so, we have never gone on this trail. But it has been there, RIGHT THERE, for more than a year, and Oregon’s healing influence has calmed our minds and soothed our souls enough to allow us to show curiosity in our environment again.

S o, without really knowing how far it goes, or what it looks like, we found the entry point and began to ride along the flattest, smoothest, most pleasant road I’ve ever been on. The trail is almost exclusively surrounded by greenery, and even when it does go along a road, you are never actually ON the road with traffic. We rode for a few miles, remembering how pleasant it is to ride a bike on a hot day, and began noticing signs that say “Gresham” and even “Boring.” Turns out that if I was to follow this trail on my bike, I would need to cover eleven miles to get to work. Eleven miles is a lot of miles, we agreed, but decided it would be cool to try and do it anyway.

We continued to ride and sip our water. And ride, and sip. And notice the natural beauty, and marvel at the smoothness of the road, and the fresh air moving past us at a cooling speed. We missed the 5.5 mile mark and only noticed the one that told us we already rode 6. We stopped there to consider. Well, obviously 11 miles isn’t that far, because at 6 we feel awesome. The decision was somehow reached to just, screw it, let’s go for 20. Twenty miles. The trail became somewhat less crowded and we were able to ride side by side, conversing, observing the occasional farm lands around us, and how the sun appeared to be setting. Continue reading

And Now, on Hiking.

As I’ve mentioned before, Beelzy and I are now Oregonians. This is confirmed by the fact that we went on a hike yesterday.

I bought a book many moons ago, called “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland” and it sat on my bookshelf for a while. I would occasionally flip through it, dog-ear pages representing possible future exploration, and do very little else with it.

Last week we finally decided that we are being incredibly lame, and on recommendation of some friends chose Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls for our first official venture. I packed my brand new hiking backpack with 2 bananas, a baggy of nuts, 4 Lara Bars, and two large water bottles. The hike was supposed to be 4 miles with minimal elevation and I was possibly overdoing on it with all the food, but whatever! I tend to try and take care of all foreseeable circumstances.

Sometimes, I fail miserably.

I told the GPS to take us to Eagle Creek. Turns out there is a TOWN called Eagle Creek that’s nowhere near the Columbia Gorge, which is where we keep the majority of our waterfalls.

After a moderate freakout due to my occasional OCD-everything-must-go-according-to-plan attitude, I made peace with the fact that we just drove for 30 minutes to go look at an elementary school. We figured out where the hell we were and consulted 60 Hikes for nearby natural wonders. Lo and behold, but there is something called Burnt Lake. It’s a 6 mile hike, so a bit longer than the 4 miles we expected, but still cool! No biggie!

Continue reading

The Knot and the Tying Thereof

We live in America, where numerous choices, endless information, and reality TV can ensure that any event, nevermind an important one, can become a complete nightmare.

So when Beelzy finally grinned sheepishly and said, “Wanna get married?” and I nodded, we decided we were going to run away to Mexico to get the deed done there. Then we found out that you need a blood test and then have to wait around for several days, and the marriage won’t actually count, so you still have to go to a courthouse or something in the states. We decided to elope  elsewhere.

Even eloping turned out to be somewhat problematic. Not knowing very much about weddings, I turned to the Internet, and was given a variety of indirect advice by column writers. Eloping is all good and well, but the consensus was, that if you actually have people who give a single shit about whether you live or die, they’ll be pissed that you sneaked off to get married and didn’t even tell them.

So we told folks. Mom tears flowed a little, but at that point we decided to get married in the Smoky Mountains, in Tennessee, which is totally not close to NYC, and we didn’t really expect anyone to want to drop a few hundred bucks just to get there.  Turns out we were wrong, and before long, we actually had guests. (Now I understand that weddings are excuses to throw all thoughtfulness to the wind and demand unreasonable things from people which will generally be acquiesced to.) And although on one hand, I started freaking out about what to wear, on the other hand, it was nice to know that on this day, which would be pretty important, we didn’t need an innkeeper and photographer to be our witnesses. Continue reading

On Getting The Hell Out, Also Known as Relocating, When There is Less Ire

So how hard is it, really, to drop everything, get in the car, and start a new life elsewhere? This ain’t The Grapes of Wrath , so it’s not as bad as all that, but it does take preparation. I figured I’d fill you guys in on the steps I took to get outta town while the rain hammers on the roof of my New Orleans hotel room. All the points below are important, so I didn’t bother numbering them.

Travel Buddy:

This is really important. Before you head out on a major adventure, it’s important to know that you are doing this with a person you can rely on not to bore you to death, leave you in an ugly situation, or get on your goddamned nerves. Many a friendship has been tried and found wanting by a road trip, where you are basically stuck in a small metal cabin hurtling through space, for hours, either fighting about the crappy musical tastes you just found out your friend has, or realizing that now that you’re sober there isn’t much left to talk about. This could be a friend who is relocating with you, or just helping out. Another important thing to consider is if you trust this person to drive, and drive your car in particular. Continue reading

Tripping on the Road West – Part 1

Beelzy and I set out on Monday, July 11th, after weeks of stressful packing, hysteria fits, waiting for things in the mail, putting things in the mail, dealing with well meaning people driving me insane. It was absolutely time to go. And go we did, on a month-long road trip from New York City to Portland, Oregon. The idea was to basically go west, with a huge southern bias.

Our first few stops were with friends in Maryland, North Carolina, and then South Carolina. We were specifically heading towards Sevierville, Tennessee where we planned to change our lives in a fairly major way. I mean, almost more major than selling and throwing away most of our stuff, quitting our jobs, and getting in the car homeless and unemployed with a general plan to plug in cities into the GPS and hope for the best.

As soon as we drove away I started feeling relieved. It was definitely time to move on and now we were just on vacation really, with bits where we have to spend a lot of hours driving a car, but the road is clear and the speed limit is 70 as soon as you get the hell out of the tristate area, and that too, was a huge relief. We were no longer boxed in, restrained, we could just go and go and go. So we did.

-Above is a beginning to the mighty saga of our trip out West. Irregular installments will follow.

Playing on the Edge of a Cliff

The Cliffs of Moher are apparently Ireland’s largest tourist attraction. And like the good tourists that we are, we got on the bus from Dublin and made the 4 hour journey over to the West side of Ireland to see the Atlantic from 700 feet away, vertically.

The Visitor Center is worth mentioning as it is in fact an enormough Hobbit burrow, built into a hill, so as to not mar the landscape. Inside is laid out in the flat sheets of stone mined from the surrounding areas.

The cliffs of Moher themselves are a true wonder. Extending as far as the eye can see, they are properly jagged with water endlessly working to erode the rocks from below. Continue reading

Simon Munnery’s “Self-Employed” via the Fringe Festival

This year I chose to take a trip to Scotland over the usual booze-fueled expedition to a Metal Music Fest somewhere in Europe. I grieved for a while, but a choice had to be made and I’ve never seen Edinbourgh (pronounced Eh-din-bur-row or even Eh-dn-bra), the capital city of Scotland. By happy coincidence we arrive in the middle of the Fringe Festival, which takes place there every year during the last three weeks or so of August.

The Fringe Festival itself deserves a few words of description. It is a smorgasbord of the arts, with theater, musical performances of all sorts, street performers and comedy galore. The whole city center becomes a collection of venues, where you can walk into a store to buy some pants and a performance may be taking place in their downstairs space converted for the honor. Street performances range from mimes, to musicians congregating in large bands with huge selections of instruments, to acrobats from all over the world performing feats atop 6 meter poles. Many of the events are free, and many of these free events are absolutely excellent. Most others are anywhere from 5-20 BPS (British Pounds Sterling), which is pretty affordable when you’re used to Broadway prices. And the best part, for me anyway, was that practically everything on the festival menu has a taste of comedy to it.

It was tremendously difficult to find a recent picture of Munnery, so here is the best Internet had to offer.

My absolutely favorite performance took place at The Stand Comedy Club. It was a performance/stand-up by Simon Munnery, entitled “Self-Employment.” We squeezed ourselves into a dimly lit basement with chairs, stools and tables scattered anywhere a square foot could be had. The stage was a few inches away from the tables of those in the front and a pull-down screen on the side of the stage promised some sort of a short film. Continue reading