A bit of chill out and recovery time was required after a full on four days in San Francisco. We were able to catch up with some of the friends I had during my year at West Albany High School, and have a good look around the area. Albany had grown over the last seven years with new neighbourhoods and a shopping mall, otherwise it was still mostly the same.
Clare and I went for a bike ride through Albany and stopped to look at one of the other houses I lived in. Just as I was taking a photo the new owner came out for a chat and then invited us in to have a look around. We have to say that everyone in Albany was really friendly and keen to help us out at any opportunity, and we couldn't get over how courteous drivers are to cyclists (hard to get used to being a kiwi).
Steve and Ann took us to the Oregon coast on a saturday to go to a Seafood and Wine Festival.
We bought two massive dungeness crabs from some fishermen at only $6 per pound and took them back to Albany for dinner that night - top meal! Thanks to facebook I found out that Germaine, a South African who was on student exchange with me, was living nearby doing his Masters at the University of Oregon. We spent the night in Eugene at his place for a catch up dinner, how did we ever manage before facebook?
After a week in Albany my friend Jeremy drove us up to Portland and we visited the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls. This included a chance encounter with a Sturgeon hatchery, where we saw a 10 foot long Sturgeon, named Herman. On our way out the security guard asked to check the trunk and later we joked about stealing Herman. It turns out that last year someone did steal a 10 foot long sturgeon.
Portland was a city all about books, coffee, Lewis and Clark and the Trail blazers basketball team. We enjoyed a couple of days there, and we finding all the (very) differing political views of the locals really interesting. A lot of the general chat is about the economy and what Obama is doing.
After another great train trip up to Seattle, a ferry through Puget Sound to Victoria on Vancouver Island and a bus up the coast to Nanaimo, we met up with Paul and Ellen who moved there from Hawkes Bay last year. Nanaimo was covered a thick layer of snow. We walked out the door in the morning and saw two blacktail deer suspiciously staring at us from the neighbours garden, a good way to start the day.
Paul and Ellen took us on a drive across Vancouver Island from the east to west coast. We saw six bald eagles but no bears, which could always be a good thing I suppose. An awesome part of the world, a place I'd like to visit again some day with some more time. Thanks heaps Paul and Ellen.
On the 1st March we took a ferry from the Island to Vancouver City to be met by Aaron, one of Clare's old work mates from Hawkes Bay.
We spent a couple of days looking around the city.
We borrowed Aaron and Emma's bikes and rode around Stanley Park and stopped to go into the Aquarium where we saw some Beluga whales (the white ones), and a sea otter that Clare wanted to put in her backpack and take home, where she could keep it in the bath. For the sea otters' own good I talked some sense into her.
Aaron and Emma showed us some of their favourite spots round town, and we ate at a Hell's Kitchen which may or may not be related to the Gordon Ramsey phenomenom. Cheers Aaron and Emma it was great catching up.
Yesterday we took some more ferry and bus rides via Vancouver Island to take the scenic route back to Seattle. Today we flew into San Diego and will be shacked up here for a couple of nights in a hostel. On Friday we are flying to Mexico City to start our 5 week stint there. By flying straight to Mexico City we are skipping the border area, even though other travellers have assured us that it is safe to go somewhere like Tijuana, despite recent incidents with drug cartels.
Check out the photos in the album section.
Cheers, Alex & Clare
We enjoyed a week in Albany, Oregon, with one of my host families (The Wulff's - thanks Steve and Ann) from my student exchange in 2001. We even got to stay in the same room that I stayed in seven years ago.