The following is a poor recreation of the amazing blog entry that I typed while on the plane yesterday. It was accidentally erased (by Cam!) in the process of trying to upload it to the website! So, here goes… “take 2”.
So far, Oregon and Seattle have been the highlights of our trip! Cam wrote about our cycling experience in Portland — we sure loved the freedom of two wheels in the city. One evening, after buying the ingredients for a picnic dinner, a local cyclist gave us a great suggestion of where to eat it. A nearby park and school are the location of an interesting annual phenomenon: each September, when the nights are getting cooler, tens of thousands of swifts arrive at dusk to roost in a large chimney. They fly in from all directions and form a swirling mass that looks like a black funnel cloud above the chimney. Bit by bit, the birds enter the (no longer used) chimney to the oohs and aahhs of the assembled crowd of onlookers.
As much as we liked the freedom that bikes gave us in the city, we appreciated the generous offer of Seattle friends Jeremy and Pam’s generous offer to lend us a car for the duration of our stay. Also very much appreciated was Jer’s 45 minute drive airport pickup the day before. We visited their daughter Juliana who is a freshman at Lewis and Clark college in Portland. She gave us a great tour of the beautiful campus, complete with big trees and a view of Mt. Hood. Sharing a dorm room with 3 others looked a bit crowded but fun! The coastal rainforest did not disappoint. Short hikes through the old growth took us to wide sandy beaches full of surfers braving the cold water. We only lasted a few seconds in the water without wetsuits.
We thought we were traveling in the off-season (kids being back at school, after all), so were surprised to encounter full campgrounds at every State Park. Obviously, we weren’t the only ones out enjoying a beautiful weekend by the ocean. At Oswald West, there was a steady stream of surfers carrying their boards down to the beach.
Once back in Seattle, we hung out at Pam and Jeremy’s. Cam got a (36 hr) crash course in all things technical (Jeremy had a career at microsoft, and we are traveling with an alarming number of electronic gadgets!), which allows us to do things like type a blog entry while on the airplane and subsequently delete it and do it again in Costa Rica… what wonderful time-saving devices these are. We also had to re-think our packing after 2 trips to REI (outdoor store) to fill in some missing pieces. We eventually got ourselves down to the four packs that we will travel with all year (OK, plus a few carry-ons).
We also visited friends Ian and Jen Simpson + their 3 boys who are recent arrivals from Ottawa to Seattle. Ian is the new VP of mobile at Amazon. Ian, Jeremy & Cam were classmates in engineering at Waterloo 25 years back. We loved the Simpson’s new (120 year-old) house in a very funky downtown neighbourhood and were impressed at how settled they seem to be already. We got our final vaccinations at a travel clinic and are now vaccinated for typhoid, yellow fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Hep A & B, rabies, a bunch of lesser evils and have 7 months of Malaria meds on hand – thank goodness for our extended health insurance! With bandaids on our arms we took off to see a few sights in Seattle (when we managed to see past the “Starbucks” signs!) One of those was the very lively Pike Place market where we bought fresh salmon for a farewell group dinner with Simpsons and Mercers.
Ian proved himself to be the ‘superhost’ by getting up at 3am to drive us to the airport! He was going to put in a couple of hours of work before the start of the work day at Amazon (and probably pay a visit to one of the many Starbucks locations.)
So we’ve now arrived in Costa Rica and are staying with our good Peterborough friend Javier’s very good friend Arturo & family – they own/run a large adventure business that has a 8-stage zip line and fabulous mountain bike trails. They are lovely – we are in good hands and are really looking forward to trying some of their adventures. Ecotourism is our next filming focus, so Cam will be doing some homework tonight to start shooting tomorrow.
We are doing the classroom component of our SCUBA certification tonight, to start our course Monday. Adios, till our next entry ….