The problem with going away on these lengthy trips, is I never end up
blogging about it while I'm there, so I have to write a behemoth post when I
get back, and try to remember everything. Oh well...
Photos are here. Had a
great time seeing more of the country. Seattle was nice, albeit a bit wet.
Portland was also nice. We've now covered the whole West Coast.
Mountain View to Ukiah
Despite the generally pessimistic views of my co-workers, we made excellent
time through San Francisco. We left home shortly after 6pm on Friday night,
and had crossed the Golden Gate in a little over an hour. The worst traffic
was just out of home on the 101, where there'd been an accident in the
opposite direction, and everyone was slowing down to rubberneck.
We got to Ukiah by about 10pm from memory, and stayed in a nice motel there.
Ukiah to Jebediah Smith State Park
The next day, we backtracked slightly, and took the CA-253, followed by the
CA-128 to get onto the CA-1 and follow the coast for a while, before
rejoining the US-101 (aka as the CA-271 at that point). Slightly before
that, we made a brief deviation at Leggett, to drive through the, well,
drive-through Redwood tree.
We alternated between the US-101 and the CA-254 (aka as The Avenue of The
Giants) and then eventually wound up at Jebediah Smith State Park.
We had spectacular scenery of both the coast and redwoods galore. Coming
from bushfire-riddled Canberra, I'm rather amazed the whole thing hasn't
gone up in smoke at some time before now, given the age of some of the
Camping in Jebediah Smith State Park
This was our first "camp-out" in the United States. Prior to getting there,
I was a little apprehensive about being killed in our sleep by marauding
bears, given that we had to keep our food in a bear-proof locker. My fears
were quickly allayed, however, once I saw the campsite. It was huge, and
fairly densely populated. I figured there was safety in numbers. Each
campsite had the aforementioned bear-proof food locker, a fire-pit, ample
space to pitch a tent (I mean for most Americans, camping involves a honking
great big RV, so our little three or four man dome tent wasn't an issue),
space to park the car, and a fixed picnic table. Each campsite was
surrounded by enormous redwoods on three sides, so there a little bit of
privacy from your neighbours. It was a pretty darn nice little campsite in
my humble opinion.
Unfortunately the weather wasn't so crash hot. It drizzled on and off the
whole time. We managed to pitch the tent without getting terribly wet,
though. The trees also kept out a surprising amount of sunlight, especially
given the overcast conditions. We slept until 9am. No bears were to be seen,
but people clanking around with their bear-proof lockers and the rubbish
bins at all hours made for a broken night's sleep.
Jebediah Smith State Park to Portland (well technically Tigard)
So the next day (Sunday) we continued along the US-199, over the Oregon
border, and connected with the I-5. It was a lovely drive through more
redwoods, with winding roads up and down and around mountains. We got to the
motel in Tigard at around 4pm I think.
We caught up with Steve and Patty Langesek for sushi, and they took us into
Portland after dinner to show us around a little bit, and also showed us Powell's City of Books, a gigantic book store that took up an
entire city block (and that's excluding the technical book section, which is
in its own building, and was unfortunately closed). The particularly cool
thing about this bookstore was that it had second-hand and new books
alongside each other, so if you were looking for stuff by a particular
author, you had a wider selection of books than you'd get at your
run-of-the-mill bookstore with only new books.
Portland seemed like a nice enough city. In particular, it seemed to have
lots of new looking high-density apartment buildings in the area around
Portland to Kirkland
The next morning, we continued to Kirkland. Portland looked a bit grubbier
by day (a lot of the bridges had paint peeling off them, and it generally
looked like it could do with a lick of paint). We remained on the I-5, and
arrived in Kirkland at around 2pm.
In and around Seattle
After unpacking at the corporate apartment, we headed in to Seattle to make
the most of the remainder of the day. We decided on a one-hour cruise around
Puget Sound. The narration was pretty lame (a lot of "I guess...") but it
was nice to see the city from the water. Clearly, it's a big harbour town,
as you can see from the
As I was there for work, the remainder of my sight-seeing was constrained
until the evenings. Fortunately, it didn't get dark until 9pm, so we had a
good few hours to squeeze a few things in. That said, traffic from Kirkland
to Seattle was fairly consistently dreadful, so we spent a bit of time
lamenting how the commuter lanes were restricted to cars with three
occupants instead of the usual two that California's ones were.
In the evenings, we had dinner in the revolving restaurant in the Seattle
Space Needle, which was nice, but not cheap, visited the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of
Fame, and did Bill Speidel's
Underground Tour. I think the underground tour was the highlight, and
certainly the cheapest. At $11 a person, for 1.5 hours, it was great. The
tour guides were entertaining, and getting to run around underground was
cool. It's interesting to see how many of America's cities have burned to
the ground at some point in their past and been rebuilt. In Seattle's case,
they decided they'd raise the whole place to deal with the fact that they
built it on mudflats in the first place. (This image
illustrates it nicely). All the sidewalks are hollow as a result.
I didn't mind Seattle, but I didn't like the freeways between Kirkland and
Seattle all that much. They seemed to really get congested in the evenings.
The weather was variable. It rained on and off, which I'm told Seattle is
famous for. It was also very very green, obviously due to all that rain, but
that was nice compared to around Mountain View, which is a lot browner
(particularly at this time of year) by comparison.
The Google Kirkland office was really nice and Googley, and it was great to
catch up with the others in my department in the flesh.
Home again, home again, jiggety jig...
With less time up our sleeves to get home, we didn't muck around taking in
the scenery (except for the 2.5 hour deviation to check out Mount Saint
Helens (which was a bit disappointing in my opinion)), so we headed out at
about 7am on Saturday morning, arriving at Redding, CA at 8pm, taking the
I-5 all the way. Three states in 13 hours. The drive went well and was
Today, we drove the remainder of the distance in about 4 hours. The car did
very well, averaging 46 miles per gallon for the trip. Arrived safe and
sound, no speeding tickets, no accidents.