PDX to SFO (and everything in between)

March was by far the busiest month of travel I’ve ever experienced. To say we traveled frequently is an understatement. We enjoyed our last week in Portland, visited San Diego and Denver for long, friends-filled weekends, and moved to San Francisco. I even squeezed in a SW Washington cross-country ski day with Mom. Frankly, travel is expensive and tiring, but more than worth it when you spend that time with special people!

Our time in Portland was a wonderful combination of family, downtown PDX exercise and exploration, and high-quality coffee consumption. While Erinn dabbled in downtown exercise classes, I enjoyed many Esplanade walks/runs up and down the Willamette River.

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Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River

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PDX Union Station

Portland offers numerous high-quality coffee options and we definitely found our favorite. Fehrenbacher Hof is a cozy German coffee shop a few hundred feet from the Goose Hollow MAX station, nestled just behind Goose Hollow Inn. Both the coffee and food are exceptional! Fehrenbacher Hof is a must if you’re ever in the area.

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Fehrenbacher Hof

I greatly miss Greenway Park, which sits just minutes away from Erinn’s childhood home in Beaverton. The morning and evening dog walks were perfect. Never too many people around and commonly quiet, Greenway Park is a great bird-watching green belt. One morning in particular, Jake (dog) and I observed a blue heron wading in the marsh for about ten minutes. We would have stayed longer, but Jake’s finite patience waned.

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Greenway Park

Before our Northwest departure, Mom and I manage a trip to White Pass for some cross-country skiing. As usual, the setting was breathtaking and I barely kept up with Mom. She has decades of XC skiing experience and makes it look all too easy.

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San Diego was an absolute blast. We met close friends from Nebraska, Michigan, and South Dakota for nothing but fun and were 100% successful. The weather was surprisingly mild (PNWish), but we took advantage of the sun breaks! Our visit included stops at La Jolla, Cabrillo National Monument, USS Midway, Little Italy, Balboa Park, and more.

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La Jolla

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La Jolla Seal/Sea Lion Party

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Tide pool exploration at Cabrillo National Monument

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Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument

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USS Midway

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Little Italy

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Spanish Village Art Center at Balboa Park

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Balboa Park

The San Diego nightlife offered plenty to do, drink, and eat. Our group conquered The Great Escape Room, where we found ourselves trapped in an ancient Aztec temple. It happened. Believe it. There were moments I thought our lives were about to end, but with our brain powers combined we escaped at the very last minute (with ten seconds to spare). Significant credit awarded to Drew.

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The Great Room Escape

Soon after the San Diego trip, we packed our bags and flew to Denver to watch our close friend Brendan Fitzgerald perform with the Colorado Bach Ensemble. He played the role of Jesus in St. Matthew Passion. The entire performance was outstanding; professional musicians really are spectacular. Brendan continues to amaze us with his musical abilities. Check out his CBE profile here!

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Erinn & Brendan at dinner in Denver

March was as busy as ever. Erinn and I are now fairly settled in San Francisco, soaking up the new surroundings as we are able. Our home is the size of a grapefruit and cable cars regularly roll right past our tiny, temporary establishment. San Fran is big, busy, and known as a great walking city. How far have I walked so far? 216 miles in 22 days (thanks Fitbit). Watch for another blog post later this week! I have plenty of photos to share. Here’s a San Fran sample:

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San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

 

Let’s Eat

I love food. Don’t you? If your response is “no” or “meh”, you must be kidding yourself. Food fuels the human body, cradles erratic emotions, and even sparks elaborate creativity. Eating food is one of my daily rituals, especially as an avid walker/runner/hiker; refueling is so important. In recent years I moved away from processed crap and focused on the real stuff: whole foods. Your body needs whole foods to operate properly. The additives and artificial substances in processed foods are awful for your body. Making a lifestyle change toward healthy, whole foods is challenging, and can require some guidance from others. Thanks to my Mom, her passion for farm fresh food somehow breached my young adult habits.

Mom continues to be an amazing cook. She’s timely, prepared, and adaptive. For those lucky enough to have tasted her paella, you know what I am referring to. While I am not much of a cook, I do prepare most of the food I eat and occasionally dabble with a new dish. Cooking is much enjoyable, but incredibly difficult, too. More frustratingly, cooking takes significant time out of my day (and likely yours, too).  A favorite remedy of mine is the occasional meal out.

When Erinn and I eat out, our plan is simple: find a restaurant with fresh food, an appealing menu, and affordable prices. How do we achieve this? We focus on breakfast! Breakfast sits hierarchically above lunch and dinner. Disagree with me? Let me briefly explain. For the sake of simplicity, let’s abandon lunch altogether. Dinner offers so many options it can be difficult selecting something from the menu. Once a selection is made, you might spend the next hour regretting your decision, wondering what could have been. This happens to me all the time. Instead, breakfast menus are relatively simple and consistent. You can find a traditional American breakfast anywhere. Additionally, if you overeat at dinner you can end up ruining your evening and possibly your night of sleep. Conversely, if you overeat at breakfast, you have all day to walk off the full belly. I could continue my breakfast versus dinner run-on, but want to move on to better things.

Portland, Oregon offers plenty of restaurant options and the food is spectacular. Unfortunately our personal pockets aren’t deep enough to try all the best spots in town, but I have a couple of favorites to tell you about!

Bijou, Cafe´ 

Near the Willamette River’s west bank, this cute cafe offers wonderful breakfast favorites with a French twist. The baked goods are tastefully fresh and organic avocado can be added to any breakfast (avocado makes everything better). Additionally, the local coffee is brewed to perfection and makes for a lengthy morning visit. If you are ever in Portland, Bijou, Cafe´ should be at the top of your to-do list!

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Fried Egg I’m In Love

Created and managed by a fellow PLU alum, Fried Egg I’m In Love is an excellent breakfast choice on the east side of Portland. This supreme food truck in the Hawthorne District offers scrumptious breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and mimosas. While it’s a food truck, you better call ahead if you want to grab-and-go. Many locals call in their orders because of the overwhelming popularity. I can understand the frustration for some, but I think it’s the best indicator of all. Check out the tasty menu!

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TTNC Pilot

Travel is one of life’s essentials, with a firm foundation anchored in adventure, exploration, and inconsistencies. I absolutely love travel. Raised in a road trip oriented family, I ventured cross-country to reunions and historical landmarks throughout my early years. Numerous national park visits peppered our family travels in the spacious western United States. Again and again I struggled through the stale interstate drives and the inevitable youthful boredom, but the scenic spectaculars made the wait all the better. Nostalgia is now slowly pulling me back. Travel is calling out, baiting my unfenced future.

In September 2016 my other half, Erinn, completed her third year as a labor and delivery RN at Tacoma General Hospital’s Birth Center.  Erinn then shifted her career in a unique direction, snatching a position with Travel Nurse Across America. Erinn now contracts herself as an L&D RN throughout the United States. We are embracing travel’s unpredictability and the shedding of our possessions, better know as ‘stuff,’ has begun.

As we visit and explore different U.S. cities, I will share our particularly exceptional and captivating experiences with photos, details, stories, etc. I want to express the characteristics that make each city both culturally unique and vibrant!

Some sound advice when reading TTNC posts: brew a fresh cup of joe, find a comfy seat, sip the joe, relax, and (as necessary) repeat. Tea is welcome, too!

First stop: Portland, OR.

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Crisp pine cone snow drops from the recent winter storm.

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Old Town PDX.

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Da Tung and Xi’an Bao Bao (Universal Peace and Baby Elephant) at the North Park Blocks in downtown Portland.