Back in April, I documented a protest that took place in San Francisco. We marched across the Golden Gate Bridge. Even though I have lived in Northern California my whole life, I had never walked across the bridge until that day. It happened to be such a beautiful and meaningful day. In that moment, I felt extremely happy for the first time in awhile. I realized that there were so many things that I wanted to see and experience. This led to the decision of planning a cross country trip. Right now, I am still waiting on Japan to open their borders and have no major responsibilities holding me back, it is the perfect time. I might never have time to experience a trip like this again. I am so fortunate and privileged for the support that I have had throughout the pandemic which has allowed me to go on such a big adventure.
My first stop: Portland. I have been to Portland before. I went when I was very young to see extended family on my mom's side. I have very few memories from this trip. I mostly remember that it was a very long and boring car ride from Sacramento. This time was different. I appreciated the long drive on my own (595 miles to be exact) because I was able to stop and take pictures whenever I wanted to:
As soon as I crossed the border into Oregon I noticed two things. First, Oregon drivers are more friendly. They mostly stayed out of the number one lane unless the needed to pass a slow driver. Additionally, the roads and overall infrastructure are way better than what I am used to as a California native. Each freeway overpass has a sign indicating the street name.
Before I started my trip, I learned that many counties in Oregon still have full-service gas stations. With a quick Google search I learned that the reason for this is because the state government created a law in 1951 that only allowed trained workers to pump gas. I assume, that this law has remained in tact so that people will not lose their jobs and because Americans are overall... lazy. I was able to experience my first ever full-service gas station in Salem, Oregon. It was a bit of a culture shock and I felt silly because I have been pumping my own gas for over a decade. With that being said, I was happy to see that gas was under $4 a gallon.
In Portland, I stayed with my cousin and her family. She lives in a beautiful neighborhood and owns a lovely home with her husband and two young children. I am rarely around young children, and I appreciated both her and her husband's patience as well as their co-parenting abilities all while juggling their careers. It was so great to catch up, eat tacos, and drink wine together. It was also nice to talk to two people who are very well traveled and had some ideas of what I should see along my cross country journey. I am so grateful to have stayed with them for the first part of my journey.
This morning, I slept in and eventually adventured out to downtown Portland. Obviously I had to grab a fancy doughnut while I was there! So I went to Voodoo Doughnut.
Yes, that is cereal on a doughnut. And yes, that is pure sugar for breakfast, but not to worry, I also got an iced coffee. So I had sugar and caffeine!
While I was in Portland I also went to Powell's Books. The book store is a go to for all travelers. I ended up purchasing Stephen King's newest book Later. This worked perfectly because I cannot show up to my Stephen King tour in Maine without being properly prepared with a Stephen King novel. Soon after, it started raining and I decided it was a good time to head to my next stop: Seattle.
This car trip was significantly shorter so I was able to make a few stops to check out other areas in Washington. Including the state Capitol in Olympia:
What I found interesting about the Capitol was that there was no one around! In Sacramento, it seems like there are always people around the Capitol. Either groups of activists fighting for justice or the many houseless that live around the Sacramento Capitol. At the Capitol in Olympia, I saw a total of TWO people in my short time there.
I reached Seattle around 3:00 pm. My check in time wasn't until 4:00pm, so I was able to drive around the city and get lost. What can I say about Seattle?
Well, I didn't believe in love at first sight until today. I am obviously joking, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy the few hours that I spent in Seattle this afternoon and evening.
A good friend of mine has been talking about moving to Seattle to teach for four years now. She gave me some suggestions on things that I must do in my short time here. I plan on following her tips and exploring more in the morning. Even though it is still early on in my trip, I already know that Seattle is a place that I will come back to in order to explore more.
Today, I walked around downtown, went to the Space Needle, and enjoyed dinner at Wild Ginger where I indulged in a berry martini and chicken pad Thai.
Before I close, I also want to honor George Floyd. Today marks a year since George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police. When it first happened last year we saw massive movements across the nation. Seattle, in particular, saw a lot of civil unrest and many comrades were harmed by police brutality. The systemic issues still exist and the fight is not over.