Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Well, ive been kickin it in Portland for about a week now and i'm really loving this city and what its about. Apparently for every new land development in the city, a certain percentage of the money thats being spent on it has to be allocated towards a new public art/structure to keep the city interesting and 'beautiful'. Something Perth should think about. On the flipside there is a current battle about a dragon sculpture in chinatown that has a collar on it which apparently symbolizes the oppression of their race when a dragon is supposed to mean power and freedom. Bit of stuff up there huh?
I've been living a pretty great lifestyle, going to breakfast in different cafes and shopping on streets that are very Brunswick for anyone whose been to Melbourne. It's kind of funny though because some people have said there is a great cafe culture here, and there is in terms of the variety and amount of cool cafes..but on the other hand, the coffee served is 90% of the time self serve, black, premade coffee that you add milk to as though you were at home. You're hard pressed to find an actual barista or espresso machine. As far as shopping goes, I recommend Victorias Secret to all my girls, awesome underwear shopping..but i broke the bank there so take your credit cards.
Went to Multnomah Falls which is a beautful waterfall about an hour from Portland with some of the girls on saturday day. We had a great breakfast in the restaurant at the base of the falls and took photos afterwards. If there was a gift store full of crap..this place has it all. I mean they're beautiful but seriously..magnets, glass pictures, keyrings the lot. The drive up to the falls was stunning though, all along the road there are mini waterfalls that have half frozen into icicles but are still trickling from about 10 metres up. There were also some great lookout points across the river.
On Saturday night i went out with a group of my mates to Portland City Grill which is a really nice bar/rest on the 30th floor of a building downtown. The views are incredible and we had a great time drinking cocktails and taking in the lights. I recommend the Portland Hurricane drink...yum. After we went to a bar/club called Bettie Ford and danced and drank more so that was fun too. When we got home Jenny found some Vegimite she had in the back of her cupboard (sacrilege) and it was the best drunk meal I've ever had- vegimite toast. Never thought i'd miss the stuff but i do.
On the topic of home... I will be back in Perth this weekend. It about a week early and its not a choice i wanted to make but i have been struggling with continual stomach pain this past week and it hasn't gotten any better. As some people may know, getting sick in the states is not an option financially so im skipping town in case i get worse.
But enough of that...I'm glad you all could follow my trip, its been an incredible time for me and something i can't wait to do again. I have loved all my messages and emails especially from glenn and dan who turned it into an artform. I can have a pretty loud laugh and people at internet cafes have found this out too.
Hanging out with Amy and Jenny who i met almost 2 years ago at my first blues and roots concert in freo has been wonderful. It just goes to show that sometimes the stranger standing next to you is just a friend waiting to teach you something about yourself and your world. Meeting those two led to meeting Kris, Cristina, Colleen, Allison and so many others. My friend Renae asked me at dinner the other day what the best part of my trip has been so far.. and as anyone knows whose travelled theres so much..but often its not the sights you see but the people you meet along the way. The generosity and caring nature of 'friends of friends' like Eleanora in NYC and people like Bill, who i met on the plane trip to Missoula have blown me away and i cant wait to be able to return it, if not to them but to the next stranger i meet.
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
I arrived in Portland a few days ago and have been staying with my good friend Amy who studied at Notre Dame a couple of years ago. Its rainy and grey here but apparently it never really changes from this over winter. It even snowed a bit this morning but melted before it hit the ground. When i arrived i had a bit of a driving tour of the city and we went to a funky cafe called fresh pot on Mississipi St. First city i've been to where there are more unique stores and less chains in your face. Really appreciate this because I'm getting sick of Starbucks. Went out to Henry's Tavern on Monday night and had a meal and watched some American Football (Florida Gators thrashed Ohio State). This bar is great, it has around 100 beers on tap and it has a ring of ice on the perimeter of the bar so you can stand your drink on it and keep it cold. Genius.
I have been sleeping around 10-12 hours the past couple of nights recovering from Vegas except for around 8am when Amy's 3 alarm clocks go off at different times and she presses snooze for about an hour before she wakes up. This girl would sleep through an air raid.
I went shopping yesterday in Pioneer Place and after dodging a continuous stream of beggars i was able to buy some cool stuff. Including a checked jacket that was $14 and i have no idea if i'll ever wear it again, but i got caught up with the relaxed/boho vibe of this city.
Went to a great place called the cheesecake factory for dinner and suprisingly...cheesecake. Another awesome meal. Just a tip for anyone coming over here, if you dont want to look like a house by the end of it.
1. Don't let them give you bread or corn chips
2. Don't get sides..ever
3. Share plates
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Wow, where to start? I just left Vegas and its been a wild weekend. This place is a reality i've never experienced before. Daytime is for sleeping and not much else, although there are some people who think daytime is for yard glasses.
Kris (Montana), Colleen (Oregon), Jenni (Oregon) and Cristina (California) were my roomies at the Mirage from Thursday to Sunday and we made the most of it. We went to Studio 54 at the MGM Grand on the first night and my first lesson for you all is that, even though a hotel sign looks close..its not. Those signs are big. So we walked there and fell over a few times and yeah..great night anyway. Kris also managed to steal a potted orchid which looked great in our room.
The thing about being a pack of 5 stunningly attractive girls in Vegas is that you get offered a lot of free alcohol and rarely pay to get in anywhere if your organised. Girls also get separate lines at some places so you get in faster. On the flipside, women in general are the lowest common denominator in Vegas. You NEED to be drunk to be able to ignore the 17yr old dancing in a cage at the seediest place you can imagine. Not to mention the 60 yr old cocktail waitress wearing a mini skirt..ugh. The list goes on.
The other thing we keep doing is getting lost in casinos. You think your just popping in to check the place out and before you know it you cant see an exit and your asking a gladiator how to get out. The paths all lead in circles and you get the reddest eyes from all the oxygen they pump in to keep the gamblers awake.
Enough of that..our second night we went to Jet nightclub in our hotel The Mirage. Just an unreal night. Great music and another very late night. Even better stumbling home to our room only 50m away. But seriously, unless you want to sell your soul for a drink, bring your credit card. $10 vodka and $6 for water.
Had some great dinners and even better brekky's at Denny's. This place is open 24/7 and does a great artery clogging meal. Its got a similar vibe to Hungry Jacks in Freo after everyone has piled out of metros and h'side, just cleaner with marginally better food. I also went on the New York New York rollercoaster on one of the days and that was crazy fun too. Contemplated going on the Stratosphere Glenn..then i realised i wanted to live.
Theres more, as there usually is, but you need to experience this place for yourself because like i said, its a bizarre kind of reality.
Location: Lolo, Montana, USA
I just realised i didn't mention my trip to hell..shit..i mean Walmart. Kris obliged me in my desire to go to the Walmart superstore in Missoula. Its open 24/7 even on Christmas day and it has groceries, guns, and any other crap you want to get your hands on. When you walk in theres a wall of photos of missing persons which is pretty ominous considering how big the place is. Its busy and full of overweight people who slouch all the way over their shopping trolley to avoid the exercise of walking around the place. Theres no denying you can't beat the price of anything they have but you also end up going home with junk you don't need so it kind of negates it in the end. The people who work there earn next to nothing and in the mornings they all get rounded up over the loud speaker for 8am motivational chants in front of shoppers. Give me a D for demeaning huh? It took me an hour after leaving the place to feel normal again..flourescent lights, beeping of registers and endless shelves of junk messes with your inner calm.
So lesson learnt..don't EVER enter a Walmart.
Location: Lolo, Montana, USA
Happy New Year/Perth Cup to everyone.
I spent yesterday (NYE day) with Kris and her best friend Brian who is just an awesome guy. We drove to Idaho (where idahodians live) which is about 40 minutes away and went to the Jerry Johnson hot springs. We were hiking through snow, rugged up like crazy for about 15 minutes and and came upon a clearing in the woods where there are these natural pools of hot water right along a chilly river. It's up there with the most awesome things i've seen and done. I can see why Montanan's are so proud of where they live, i feel like a lame city slicker. We just relaxed there drinking Bud Light and talking to the others around. We decided to split when a wolf creek looking guy came up and asked if they still booked people for skinny dipping. And yes, he stripped off.
NYE we went to a friend of kris' place in missoula. Played drinking games and just had a wicked time. There was also the biggest moose head i've seen up in the living room and it kept looking at me. One of the guys showed me the actual head room which was filled with more gnarly animals including a full bear rug with head spread out on the wall. ugh.
Today i woke up after a few hours passed out and headed to lost trail mountain for some more boarding with Jerri, kris' ma. I had an hour and a half lesson with my board instructor Nate who was a hot 18yr old. The lesson was worth it because i finally learnt how to do turns and got a lot more control. Damo-cant wait to talk to you about all this. Again, just an awesome way to spend a day and forced me to get over my hangover a lot faster.
Location: Lolo, Montana, USA
Wow, its been awhile but dial up internet will do that to you. I have been in beautiful, snowing and chilly montana for over a week now and it's been totally different to everything else. First of all, snow is way better than reading the paper in the morning. Kris kept laughing at me in the morning when she would find me with a chair pulled up to the back deck just staring at the snow fall.
My first day i got to eat breakfast at a diner with animals heads surrounding me on the walls, later that day i also got to eat bear jerky. Did i mention Kris' 13yr old cousin shot that bear? And a deer..and some other animal. We had a Christmas karaoke party here which was a heap of fun-lots of drunkeness. We went out to the iron horse downtown one night and i started talking to a guy who had been at little creatures just the week before!..this stuff happens all the time. I got to cut down the christmas tree and that was so much fun. I would fall over in the deep snow like a new foal so everyone got a kick at laughing at the aussie.
Christmas day we headed out to Big Sky Mountain ski resort which is 5 hours away. We got brand new burton snowboards and I spent two days on the slopes of this incredible mountain falling on my butt, swearing, talking to myself and just being exhausted. My pride took a serious battering being totally shit at this. The second day was 110% better than my first and i had some way better runs..despite every muscle in my body aching like i never knew it could.
The highlight of the second day would be when Kris's brother jake left us at the top of a deserted piece of the mountain that had caution signs...everywhere! He's a peach sometimes. We eventually found our way down and it was one of my best runs so go figure- maybe danger's my middle name! I also finally found my taste for beer. At the end of boarding all day the best thing in the world is a cold beer! Kris is so proud of me.
So basically, montana is one of the most special places in the world. Kris' parents are so incredibly welcoming and kris and i are slowly solving the worlds problems with every hike we take on the mountain and every beer at the bar.
Location: Walnut Creek, USA
We had a fun time in PB (pacific beach), bit of a meat market though so it brought back memories of freo at times. Cristinas roomates are awesome, Risa came out with us and she was a lot of fun, Lara is a texan who is so freakin hilarious. I think the fact that i used to work at Lone Star went over well. I'll put up some photos of us stuffing around before we went out.
I have been on the road for the past three days driving up the coast from San Diego to San Francisco Bay area. I recommend this so much to anyone wanting to come to the states. I was like a little kid getting so excited at all the mountains and when the coast came it was incredible. Driving through LA was a lot of traffic and its true about the messed up pollution. You can't see the hills or the sky properly so that really breaks your heart.
Our first stop was in Santa Barbara in Montecito. We got an awesome deal and stayed at a plush place that used to be owned by Charlie Chaplin. It was hard to get used to having the door opened for us all the time and valets taking your bags. It's a tough life you know. We went out to seafood dinner in SB and its a great town with awesome shopping. I really fell in love with this place.
The next day we headed to Carmel by the Sea and stopped along the way in another georgeous town called Saint Luis Obisbo. Got some shoes and pressies here and in Carmel so my packing situation is getting worse by the day. I should have just taken a suitcase. Again, great places to stay and wander around. Carmel has a lot of art galleries to explore which was cool too.
In the morning we did the 17 mile drive along the coast and saw pebble beach golf course and the lone cypress. Cypress trees are really distinct and pretty. The ocean was turbulent and crazy, reminded me of yallingup in winter. The drive was well worth it and the sun stayed out for us and only sprinked at night.
We arrived in Walnut Creek yesterday and I finally met Cristinas awesome family. We had a great dinner and just chilled. I will be heading into San Francisco tommorrow so i'll let you know how that goes.
Oh and congratulations to all my girls who graduated over the weekend. I wish i could have been there with you :)
Location: San Diego, USA
Well i have arrived in beautiful, sunny San Diego. Apparentley no one told them about winter here because its been in the mid 20's since i arrived on Wednesday afternoon. Its bittersweet leaving NY because i loved that place. Over the last few days I saw the NY Public library with its marble and detailed high ceilings, went out to some great dinner and drinks, went and saw miss liberty and cruised through the downtown harbour area, saw rockefeller centre with its tree and skating rink and went shopping in Soho and Greenwich Village. Rockefeller was crowded and far less romantic than the movies because tourists were everywhere. I found this awesome clothing store called anthropologie there though so i had an awesome time shopping that night. Thats the thing about manhatten, everything is open so late. Retail stores are open till about 8pm everynight and food and bars are open it seems like forever. I have had bizarre eating habits since being here but its ok because i have a bagel in the morning and then dinner at 10pm and i'm sweet. On the flipside, retail places don't open until around 11am -1pm.
On Tuesday I had a great day because I got to see my friend fom uni Katie, and we went exploring the lower east side and soho where her hotel was. We spent a crazy amount of money in urban outfitters which is my new favourite store. A lot of places like Gap and J Crewe are really plain basics so i've been looking for something different. I got some great tops from a designer at the Colombus Circle christmas markets. Hanging out with someone from home was fantastic, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were in NY because its surreal.
So i said goodbye to NY on Wednesday and had an easy flight over to San Diego (everything is short after the flight from Sydney to LA). Taking the taxi to San Diego State was again, eventful. My driver an excellent multitasker and he liked arguing in lebanese on his mobile while writing phone numbers on his hand while on the freeway.
Seeing Cristina has been like not a day has passed. We went out to some awesome mexican and explored her uni today which is exactly what you would expect from California, i hate to say it but..very OC. We are heading out to Pacific Beach tonight which is supposed to be a college area of bars. Will let you know.
Hope you are all well and making the most of summer