Tag Archives: traveling

My first weekend in Hood River! – The first day

Standard
My first weekend in Hood River!  –  The first day

Saturday, 21-June-2015

I can’t believe it… Today should be full of crashing drums and explosions and fortuitous portent.

Instead, I was up just like any other day… maybe a little more tired, thanks to how late we stayed up the night before. But overall? The same as any other day of the road trip.

But today’s the last day that I’m traveling. The last day that I’ll be living out of my highly organized car; the last day that I’ll know exactly where everything is, and the last day that I’ll be sleeping on a tiny sleeping pad, unable to turn over without carefully adjusting myself to stay on the comfy part.

So we left Wyeth campground earlier than we expected, but later than I’d hoped that we’d leave. I’d been loosing my “wake up early” rhythm, thanks to later nights and conversation (not a bad thing), but I’d still kind of hoped to get moving super early, to maximize the time I had with Mike and Liz before they had to head back on the road toward California.

We hung out. Chatted as we packed up camp, then chatted and joked around while sitting at Yelp’s favorite Hood River diner. Bette’s place, if I remember right, and it was definitely a good “Stick to your ribs, huge portions, delicious down home cooking” style diner. We got a cinnamon bun at the end – literally a bun the size of a normal dinner plate. We could barely make a dent in it, after our main meals… and that’s with us all being ravenous after a night of music and drinking.

But it’s still sort of early, and Mike and Liz don’t seem to be in a rush… exploration time! Checking out the breweries quick; just a walk-by really, just to get an idea of the area.

Then the game shop – and ohh man does this town have a game store. D&D, Dragonlance, RC drones, board games… seriously, this place has it all. And right next door is a low-key book shop, and next to that are a few cool coffee bars… Man, Hood River is everything that I enjoyed about Cambridge! I mean, I’m sure it’ll be kinda bad in the winter, but for now… I think I’ll enjoy it here.

With Mike and Liz back on the road, I keep wandering around town, waiting for the call from my Airbnb host saying that they’re ready for me to pop by.

I’m new to the town, to the state, hell even to the general geographic area. So I enjoyed the chance to just… wander. People watching, and exploring small shops, is my favorite way to get to know an area. Seeing what’s expensive, seeing what’s available and what’s not… all the little things that affect how people live their lives. It’s neat – especially in new areas and cultures. Which, let’s be honest, the Pacific Northwest is definitely a different culture than New England.

A few calls home, and a few real-estate agent visits later, I get the call from the Airbnb folks that everythings set. So I head over to meet and greet and see where I’ll be living for two weeks while I look for a new home.

And it’s beautiful! The hosts are lovely – a married retired couple, who rent out the spare apartment / room in their gorgeous house. It’s actually a renovated church, and the apartment that I’m renting is a solid quarter of the floor space. Two bathrooms, a bedroom, and two sitting rooms.

Unpacking takes longer than I expected – much longer, if we’re being honest. But it happens, and I slowly decompress my life out from the convertible that it’d been jammed into, and into an actual house.

Then I relax, walk up the hill that Hood River is perched on, eat dinner, and watch the sunset over my new town.

Notes on Venezuela

Standard

Notes from Venezuela:

 

  • Venezuelans are born lucky. They must be to survive driving the way they do.
  • Gol Varig is an awesome airline: they gave me a Sandwich! For free! Without me asking!
  • Not many people seem to actually like Chavez
  • The whole socialism thing is really strange when you think about it from a capitalist standpoint… just so many things are different. Upside? Free parties, sandwiches and beers. Downside? Enforced minimum lease terms of three years, and massive sanctions for “the rich”, as defined as… whatever they feel like?
  • Strange side of Socialism: since the government owns everything, they can do whatever they want with it. Example: Some of the hotels in La Guira were closed and turned into refugee apartments after a natural disaster in the interior. I honestly don’t know how I feel about that, since my capitalist side is saying that it cost them a ton in tourism (directly and indirectly), but my “help the world” side is saying that our country should be able to help our citizens that way.
  • Salsa dancing is FUN! Especially when you’re being taught by a Venezuelan girl 😀
  • People are nice: everyone I met was pretty friendly, from the taxi drivers to the random guy on the street who stopped me not to steal my stuff, but to ask for directions. One older couple even helped me and Ana write down some important Spanish phrases.
  • Hipsters have invaded every country. Heaven help us.
  • Fanny packs have invaded Venezuela, and have attached themselves to everyone. Seriously. Pretty much every random person I passed on the street had a fanny pack, worn in the front.
  • The beaches are totally rad, we need more of this.
  • Tts strange what super-cheap gas does. Seriously, Gas in Venezuela is ~$0.25 a gallon, and thus public transportation is just $0.125 per trip on the Metro, and $1 for a 1 hour bus ride outside of the city.

Traveling from Venezuela to Argentina

Standard

I got up on Monday ready to take on the day; I had woken up early and had my stuff packed up pretty quick, so I spent the rest of the morning grabbing some quick breakfast, wandering around the area, and reading in the hostels library.

Ana and I met up around 1:00, packed the rest of my gear up and stashed it in the hostels saferoom, and then took a walk around the city to see a few last sights before I headed off to the airport. We ate some Cochabas for lunch, and I immediately fell in love with them. Seriously amazing. See the recipe below. After eating we headed into the main city to explore for a bit, going to see the nicer portions that I had missed before. Ana left me for a bit to put an hour or two in at her job, and I spent the time wandering around the financial district of Caracas; marveling at how shining skyscrapers could stand directly next to a cold-war era building that looked like it had been shelled out. Its honestly impressive, and does wonders for making the shiny skyscrapers look even better

While waiting for Ana the skies decided that I CLEARLY wasn’t wet enough, and decided to help me cool down with a quick shower. Luckily I was right near the enteraence to the main mall, so I ducked in and spent the rest of the hour reading from my kindle (stealthily hidden in one of my other books, so I just looked like another Venezuelan dude chilling out with a tattered notebook).

After a bit Ana finished up and we headed back to the Hostel to get my bag. The rest of the evening was pretty standard-issue, though I did get a nice surprise when I went to pay my “exiting fee” from Venezuela: my outbound ticket had already covered it in the price. Nice, don’t need to burn an extra $50, I am not complaining. I got into the airport with just enough time to pick up some food (yay Burger King! I don’t know which is worse: that I ate my first Whopper in Venezuela, or that I paid $9.50 to do so) and make a quick skype call to my mom to let her know that I was fine and boarding successfully. And then we were airborn, heading south to the connector in Brazil.

Side Note: The city lights of the Barrio’s outside Caracas are amazing, and I’m really glad I flew out at Night so I could see them now that I know what they are.

I woke up with a start when the wheels touched the ground; I had slept clean through all the warnings about landing and everything. Impressive. I de-planed, found my gate (where I’d be boarding in 6 hours), and set myself up for a nice internetting session. Not to let life be easy, Sao Paulo’s WiFi is deceptively cheap at $1 an hour or so, but impossible to access unless you’re quite fluent in Portuguese. They even have a language tab that only has one setting: “not a language you speak, sucker!” I tried to bumble my way through it, but in the end contented myself with saved videos and some more reading. Maybe a bit of music too.

My flight boarded smoothly, and I slept through again; both times I had a window seat with the middle empty, so I was feeling pretty good and relaxed once we touched down in Buenos Aires. I had woken up a bit early so that I could fill out the immigration paperwork, thinking I’d be saving myself some time in the lines. Instead, I was carefully and meticulously filling out the form that would herald the destruction of this part of my trip…

 

Yay cliff-hangers! And recipes!

 

Cochabas Recipe (for one person)

  • Cornbread batter (go a bit heavy on the corn though)
  • Butter
  • Cheese (thick white cheese)
  • Ham slices, thin

 

Prep:

  • cook the cornbread batter on a hot skillet exactly as you would a pancake; layer it just as thick
  • once its pretty much done spread some butter on it and let it head butter-side down for a few seconds
  • Put the cheese on half of the “pancake”, and layer the ham on top of it
  • Fold like an omlet
  • let it heat for a bit, flipping it twice or so. Make sure the cheese is nice and gooey.
  • Cut it in half (so its quarters of a circle), and serve!