From Vancouver Island we drove to Seattle and flew back to LA. My good long-time friend Tony was having his 50th birthday party along with another friend, and together they threw a great big party in Malibu for the occasion. It's a beautiful area. The ocean is gorgeous and we saw many dolphins, seals and pelicans, and a humpback whale even swam by with her calf! Heading back to Seattle next to pick up the car and continue the drive back east to be with our families and friends. We're discussing possibilities for where to go after that, and we're considering a number of interesting options.
We spent our last 5 days in BC camping on Sombrio beach on the West side of Vancouver Island. This place is spectacularly beautiful, one of my favourite in Canada. You can camp right on the beach, which boasts a number of gorgeous natural features. There is a magical moss-walled cave with a glistening cool waterfall. There is a larger hidden cave behind boulders in a cliff, which leads out onto scaleable precipice and the ocean. From there, you can climb up to a majestic bay with yet another waterfall. During the week we only saw a few other campers in the distance and some hikers walking by as they went along the Juan de Fuca Trail. That was wonderful. Over the weekend however there were significantly more people, even though the parks authority closes the trailhead to reduce the numbers (apparently because in past years the long-weekend parties and vandalism got out of control). We saw several bald eagles and seals, two black bears, one otter, and various and sundry other creatures (raccoons, mice, birds of all kinds). If you are in the area make sure to check out Port Renfrew, a very small town with a few nice restaurants and pretty easy access to Botanical Beach (with its many tidepools) and Avatar Grove (with its many old growth trees and copious mossy delights).
We spent a few days cruising around the lower east side of Vancouver Island, passing through towns like Duncan (with its totem many totem poles), Chemainus (with its many colonial murals) and Nanaimo (with its... Nanaimoness). Many beautiful forests and ocean views, as well as sad scenes like massive clearcuts. We then cut across the Island via Lake Cowichan to the southwestern coast, heading toward Port Renfrew.
From Portland we drove 4 hours north to Port Angeles, Washington to take the ferry to British Columbia, Canada. An hour later we were in Victoria, where I lived for a few years until 2012. Victoria is a great town. We visited some of my old friends and toured around the city and surrounding areas. Above are some pictures of Beacon Hill Park (where the peacocks roam semi-free), some seals down by the docks, Chinatown and an awesome community/common garden in Fernwood, my old neighborhood.
Nothing says cute like baby ducklings waddling with their mama in Beacon Hill Park: click HERE for a video.
We spent a few days in Portland, Oregon. It was cool. Not over-the-top cool, but we both liked the chill and slightly odd vibe there. Plenty of good coffee, food, art, interesting vintage stockpiles and thrift-store bric-a-brac prizes. Almost everyone was friendly. On the less enchanting side it rained a lot (it even hailed), and a surprising number of places smelled almost exactly not unlike a cat-litter box. Best thrift/vintage store we visited: Village Merchants on SE Division Street. Best tacos we gormandized upon: Taqueria Lindo Michoacan right next door to that. Best unique/weird place: the Zymoglyphic Museum (look it up and email them for a free tour).
For a little video, click HERE.
Today we went hiking among the giants again, and it was splendid. There is something about these redwood forests which is so restorative, so soothing to the soul, so relaxing to the mind. There's an un-human, ancient, wordless magic-wisdom vibrating around here, some of which you can feel if you listen and be silent and feel for it on the periphery of your emotional eye. Some of these trees have stood here for 2,000-3,000 years. Sadly, 95% of the ancient redwood forests were destroyed by logging by 1980 via the usual blindness/greed for profit and consumerism. There is something so wonderful about walking among these giants which I am having trouble expressing. The more we travel in nature the more I fall in love with the earth and the more I despise the way humans have been uglifying and decimating it in our recent history.
We are camped on the moon of Endor... I mean in the gorgeous Redwood forest - a different one from a few days ago. It is... spectacular! See the pictures above... they speak for themselves. We are camped on the banks of a gorgeous clear river (see the pic above) whose song puts us to sleep every night. Carr found mountain lion tracks nearby. It is good to be here.
Click HERE for a video of the amazing forest.
Click HERE for a video of our camp by the river.
On our way north we camped on and visited several areas along the Pacific west coast, both in California and Oregon. The coast along the Redwood forest state and national parks is beautiful and rugged. The ocean has a tendency to quiet my mind... so not much to say about it.
I don't always go to San Francisco, but when I do... I like to visit the Saloon in North Beach where the vibe is fierce and the blues are a-jumpin'! Established in 1861, it's the oldest bar in SF and even survived the great earthquake of 1906. We had some drinks and danced as Lisa Kindred (a fixture from the SF 1960s music scene who is still singing strong) and her band made some beautiful, soulful music together. We explored Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury and Telegraph Hill (where there is an awesome colony of colorful feral parrots near Coit tower). One of my favorite cities.
Pinnacles National Park in California, was an unexpected gem of a place to visit. Beautiful landscapes, high peaked rock formations in the mountains (as the name suggests, pinnacles). I don't think I've ever seen such a strong concentration of fauna anywhere... practically everywhere you look there is some cool or ultra-cute animal doing its thing. Copious hyper-adorable quail, rabbits, birds of all kinds singing their various and sundry uplifting songs, lizards... And the California Condor, which I was lucky enough not only to see but to catch briefly on video (click HERE to see it).