Time to get back to work [kinda]

What a great way to work my way back into reality.. I’m on vacation for 9 days or so, and then I’m at a conference at a ritzy hotel getting wined and dined and talking about online advertising. These AdMonster conferences are really fantastic. It’s a great way to socialize and network with other people in the industry who do the exact same thing as you. You can talk about third party delivery discrepancies, joke about missing clickTags, and complain about Pointroll’s poor reporting interface, and everyone knows what you’re talking about.

So, I’m here for a few days, then I fly back to beautiful boston, where I hear it’s 70 degrees and sunny this week.. At least that’s what I’ve been told — I think I may be misinformed.. not sure.

Day Seven and Eight: Route 1 and San Diego

<%image(cache/20050226-rotue1.jpg|550|118|Route 1)%>

— No new photos yet.. I’m running out of disk space, so I have to clean it up a little.. I’ll do that when I get back to the Bean.

Tonight we’re spending the night in San Diego… and it’s been a long week, so we’re just ordering Room Service, and relaxing in the room. Miss possible heads home tomorrow afternoon, and my conference begins as well, so a little relaxation could be good.

Yesterday we started out in Monterey and drove through Carmel and the Pebble Beach / Spyglass Hill Scenic Drive (17 miles). Beautiful course, even though I don’t really play golf [except tiger].

Taking Route 1 from Carmel all the way down to Santa Barbara was beautiful. I’ve never seen such an amazing coast line. Some of the houses out here must cost a fortune, of course, but even so — I’m not sure I’d want to move to any of those places — it’s so far from civilization, it’d be impossible to get groceries or anything.

We took nearly all day to cruise down Route 1 and by the time we got to Santa Barbara it was about 7pm and time for dinner. We ate at a place called “Left at Albuquerque” — a chain-style southwestern restaurant. Dinner was good, and we met an interesting man while waiting in line who told us all about the area.

Today was the drive from Santa Barbara to San Diego. We got up early, so that we could make decent time heading through LA. Traffic was bad, but I imagine it could’ve been a lot worse on any given week day. Saturday morning at 10am and there’s still a ton of traffic, go figure.

As we approach SD, we stop in La Jolla to have lunch and see the coast line, as we got a number of recommendations to check it out. Beautiful town — much nicer than Santa Barbara, Carmel, Monterey, etc.. in my opinion. It was rich, but not so rich and glamorous that it seemed disgusting. We saw the Seals on the coast line that were pupping. Much nicer than the Sea Lions in SF (not as loud, smelly or obnoxious).

The caves of La Jolla were a total ripoff. It was up there with the dinner in Portland or the stop at “Rainbow Falls.” $4 a piece, to check out Sunny Jim Cave that was a 2 minute walk down the stairs, a cheap-o cave, and a 2 minute walk back up the same stairs. Totally lame.

We checked into our Hotel in San Diego and toured around the city.. Balboa Park, The Hillcrest Area, Downtown, etc. The weather was the warmest to date and the city seemed fairly nice.

And here we are.. relaxing in the Hotel, ordering room service, and taking it easy on our last night. Tomorrow we’re going to check out the Zoo, and drive up to Del Mar for my conference… so the journey is nearly over, but it’s been a great trip so far.

One side note about the iPod.. Once we got the iPod working in Portland where we bought the Car Adapter, it worked well all along. Only a few minor issues here and there. We made it all the way down to “Captain ~ Ween” and called it quits. It was getting difficult to find a station that wasn’t taken by a Los Angeles radio station. So, we gave up. But, it was a fun experiment. We listened to “California ~ Phantom Planet” as we were driving down Route 1 sometimes yesterday.

“California… California.. Here We come…”

Mileage to date: 1,680 miles.

~ LTJ

Day Five and Six: San Fran

Photos from San Fran
Starting Track: Black Eyed Pea ~ Galactic

Now that we’re back in the burbs, the internet flows freely.. Overall, I was realtively impressed with San Francisco. A nice town, but I still think that Seattle is the best place we’ve been thus far. We explored quite a bit of San Fran, and it’s definitely nice. It was a little chilly (50 degrees, and it doesn’t really get much more than 60 or so at any time, and the wind is fairly chilly.)

Yesterday we came into SF via the Golden Gate bridge, and after checking in to the Mark Hopkins hotel (woo hoo!) we walked from Nob Hill over to Haight-Ashbury. We definitely saw some sketchy areas, and the early parts of Haight wasn’t that great.. but the H-A area was kinda cool. We then explored the Golden Gate park and the Japanese Tea Garden, which was very cool.

We took a bus over to Union, Cow Hollow, where we walked back to the hotel via the newbury-like street area. The hills are really killer, but it was fun overall. We got ready for dinner and had a cocktail at the Top of the Mark. Afterwards we headed over to Sanraku for some Sushi dinner. Some of the best I’ve ever had, that’s for sure. Finished up at the Tonga Room in the Fairmont, which had a bar similar to that of the Rainforest Cafe.. pretty cool.

Today was Alcratraz, which was truly amazing. Really an incredible place, that I must recommend to anyone that goes to SF. We stopped by Pier 39 to see the Sea Lions.. Grabbed a bite to eat (In N Out), and took our cable car ride.

By the end of the afternoon, we just drove around the city (Lombard, etc..) and explored some of the heights areas (Twin Peaks, etc.) which gave some pretty awesome sights. Took off for Salinas, around 5pm where we found our next hotel..

And there we are. Fairly abrupt, but I’m beat.. it’s been a long couple of days,
and a lot more to do.

Last Track: Blarney Stone ~ Ween

~ LTJ

Day Four: Napa, Sonoma and Santa Rosa

Latest photos

Start Song: As The World Turns ~ Eminem

No internet!? THAT’S UNPOSSIBLE. Well, it’s true. The Holiday Inn Express in Santa Rosa (Wine Country) doesn’t have internet. So I’ll write this in text edit, and then post it later.

Today was absolutely fantastic. Yesterday was Miss Possible’s day in the forest, while today was my day in the valley. Everyone seemed to have a number of recommendations for different wineries to check out, but we hit a number that I knew of and a few unexpected ones.

The first stop was to check into the hotel in Santa Rosa, so that we could get some maps, and organize ourselves a little bit. We stop by at a Starbucks to make plans, and we head off to location #1: Ravenswood — Zin Central.

Walking up to the tasting room, there’s a sign that says “Stay off Hills — beware of rattlesnakes.” Are they serious? My heart sinks, and walking up the 20 steps became very difficult. Turns out that they have a few “small” ones during the summer months (I LOVE February!). Their definition of small, however, is probably not my idea.. When I hear small, I think — worm-size.. their definiton is probably “Oh, that one’s just a baby.. look, it’s only 5 feet long!” yeah. I’m not coming back here in the summer.

The tastetron gave us a coupon to go to Sebastiani right up the street, and since they have a tour, we think it’s a great stop.. Unfortunately the tour runs only at 3pm, so we pass on that, but we do a self-guided tour (it was crap), and we got to taste some fanstic pinot’s and cabs. We actually picked up a bottle of the great pinot, to bring home.

In our effort to find a guided tour, we hit Niebaum-Coppola, to see what they have to offer. A big vineyard like that should have some good tours — plus the Francis Ford Coppola Syrah is a great inexpensive choice.

45 minutes of driving, and we finally get over to Napa — only to find out that the tour is a historical-only tour and does not cover winemaking at all. So, we take a few tastes of the wines they have to offer for a whopping $15 each, but we do get to keep the glasses. Not a total loss, because some of the cabs they had were excellent. We decide not to pick one up because for $40, it wasn’t all that great.

Our next stop was Cakebread. My choice of places to check out. They say “Appointment only” but, fortunately, they took us in.. I think that’s primarily during the peak season. Their Sauvignon Blanc is awesome.. I have to buy a bottle of that, but we try some other truly amazing wines. The 2000 Benchland Reserve Cab was unbelieveable, and for $95 a bottle, it really tasted like it. The tasteron had to excuse two couples who had obviously tasted too much, when they started whining about the amount they were getting poured. They flipped out, and took off. Woah. I don’t want to be that lady. 🙂

We can’t take a left out of the Cakebread lot due to traffic, so we decide to go right. Three wineries down is a place called Peju. We have some time, so we decide to stop, not knowing anything about it. I’ve learned a lot now.. Peju was by far the best wine I’ve ever tasted. The Tastetron was fantastic, lived in Mass for a while.. worked in LA as a magician.. great guy, very entertaining. We tried some truly incredible wines including a Merlot that kicked ass, and a Cab Franc that was made unlike any other on the planet (i’m sure). We pick up a few bottles here and spent way too much, but make some good values. We also picked up their reserve Zin (an awesome wine) and planned to take it to dinner at Mixx (his recommendation) to share, as they have a corkage policy here in Wine Country.

Our last stop, to kill some time, is Merryvale. Not a large producer by name, but by quality it was nothing to write home about. So I’ll leave it at that 🙂

We stop back at the hotel, and open the bottle of zin to breath a little.. We definitely should’ve left it open for a lot longer, because we head over to Mixx only about 45 minutes later (putting the bottle in the trunk, of course). The waiter decants it, and we had a fantastic dinner with an incredible bottle of wine. It turns out that they do free corkage on Tuesdays, so it worked out well.

Tomorrow we head 60 minutes south to San Fran.. Bring it on!

End Song: Better Tomorrow ~ Wu Tang Clan

Day Three: Redwoods

View today’s Photos
Starting Track: 10,000 Islands – MoFro

We made it! The last day of serious driving until Friday. We needed to cover around 6 hours of driving and a few hours of hiking before making it to Ukiah, CA. (Home of Nick Twisp’s father, for those in the know).

Clouds and fog were covering the city (or town rather) of Grants Pass OR at the departure time of 9:33am. The forecast was for clear skies towards 10 or 11 in Crescent City, our first stop on the Redwood tour. Coming into California, everything seemed to change, just as I was expecting.

The roads became twisty and windey, and it seemed as though a rockslide could occur at any moment in time. There were roads that had barriers up to prevent the rocks from falling into the lanes of travel. It was pretty insane. And the curves. Jeez.. I think Rte 1 is gonna be a lot like this, except with cliffs. NICE!

We arrive at the first Redwood forest around 1030 or 11am, and take the scenic drive. We stop at stout grove and go for a mile or so hike through the woods. I’ve never seen anything like it. These trees are really… ginormous is really the only word you can use for these things. When you’re out in the woods with nobody but yourselves amongst these 1,000 year old trees, it’s pretty incredible to say the least.

We met an interesting couple from Oregon, who was originally from Worcestor. Very nice folks, and they were as amazed as we were. We head back to our car, and make a quick stop at Subway in Crescent City to grab a bite.

After lunch we check out some of the coastline, which is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. There’s waves crashing on the coast, large mountains and cliffs lining the coast, with mist and spray rising from the water. The views are incredible. I can’t; express in words what an amazing sight it is. They call “Scenic Overlooks” Vista Points, because scenic really doesn’t describe it.

We take a scenic drive (or vista drive if you prefer) or two, around the coastline, and see some pretty amazing things.We then come across Klamath (a.k.a Kalmath) and stop for the “Tree-through” drive. Where we drive the car through a hollowed out redwood tree. If only Alamo knew! 😉 Across the street, we find a few Emus in a fenced-in pen owned by the (probably) the same folks that own the tree-through.. Ironic, in it’s own way.

The last stop is to kill a few more hours before we make the 4 hour journey to Ukiah. We stop at the largest tree in the forest — unfortunately there’s no details about height, age, etc.. but it’s insane. We hike along the Cathedral trail, where the trees are even more amazing than the first stop. Awe-inspiring, to say the least.

We head back into the car, and drive through some pretty sketchy towns (Eureka, for one! That place is SCARY!) We catch dinner at this great little place in Fortuna, CA called Eel River Brewery. After one stout, I’m too buzzed to drive so Miss Possible takes over. I guess this stuff was 9% — pretty crazy for a beer.

We drive through the windy roads of Central CA and make it to Ukiah by 9pm. We take a dip in the Jacuzzi and relax a bit. Tomorrow’s an hour drive into Napa/Sonoma/Santa Rosa and we tour the vineyards.

Last Track: As The Rush Comes – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
Today’s Mileage: 241 Miles
Total Mileage: 592.

Day Two: Seattle, WA to Grants Pass, OR

Click here for Photos from Day 2

Fully refreshed from a good night’s sleep, we were able to take to the road by 945 AM. We gave the iPod another shot after checking out some helpful hints online and figured it out, right away. But that doesn’t mean that it made our plan any easier, but I’ll get to that later.

Heading out of Seattle, Mt. Ranier is visible from the skyline. Truly breath-taking. It’s 14,488 feet high at the point and to put that in perspective Whiteface is 4,000 and Mt. Washington in NH is about 7,000 Ft. I’m not sure of the highest point in N. America, but this has to be up there. One of the Points in the Rockies might be higher, but I don’t think it necessarily has the same impact. When you’re already 5,280 feet above sea level on the ground another 10,000 doesn’t really look _THAT_ high. The perspective from Seattle/Tacoma was unbelievable.

Before departing for our trip, we were told by a number of folks to check out some of the beautiful water falls between Seattle and Portland — so we checked out our map for some of the areas that we might want to check out. We found “Rainbow Falls State Park” on the map, and felt this would be a great adventure. Just about an hour into our trip, we take the detour. Arriving at the park, we have to pay a $5 fee to a non-attended booth in order to “Keep the system working.” Between the two of us, we only have $2.85 in change so we throw it into an envelope and pull up to park. It was at this point that we realized that there was free 15 minute parking. DAMNIT! It gets worse. We go check out the map, and realize we already passed the falls. So we walk back towards the entrance, and look down. Absolutely ridiculous. Check out the photos. TOTAL waste of our time. When it comes to valued purchases, the $2 to get into this friggin park was the most wasted money to date.

We get back on the road after a 45 minute detour to see a few rapids. Total crap, if you ask me. We keep heading down Route 5 until we get to Mount St. Helens. We check out the observcation musuem and read all about the eruption of 1980. What’s interesting is that all around us there are kids and their parents running around the museum. It reminded me of my childhood .. but my parents never brought my to someplace as cool as Mt. St. Helens. I remember a random trip to some crazy Dam in New York, and a sweltering hot old-fashioned train ride. But, I’;m sure there’s cool things I did as a kid — I just can’t think of em right now 🙂

Miss Possible continues driving down to Portland which is when the iPod dies. DAMNIT! We figure we’ll have to get a car adapter in order to keep it charged and continue with the A-Z. We’ll pick one up in Portland.

When we arrive, we hit a random mall downtown. Cute city, that’s for sure, but it’s no Seattle. We explore the mall, miss possible picks up a bath bomb (whatever that is), and I get some lunch/dinner recommendations from the Mall Concierge (they exist?!).

We head to this [supposed] amazing seafood place in Portland called Jake’s Crawfish grill. It’s a portland-based restaurant, similar to that of Legal (except it’s not a chain) and it’s pretty damn fancy. Miss Possible gets a really under-cooked piece of salmon while I get a so-so rockfish thingamabob with cheese on it (ARGH!). Totally a waste of money.. the dinner wasn’t worth the money we spent on it, that’s for sure.

We head over to this place called The Mac Store, and pick up an adapter and hit back on the road. I take the wheel and pull the home stretch to Grants Pass, OR (4 hours in total). The iPod adapter is working great until about 45 minutes from Grants Pass, where the iPod crashes when we try to change stations. WTF?! So.. we didn’t even get into the alpha characters yet. Ugh. Totally annoying. Had to reset it, when I got the hotel.. so it’s ready to go for tomorrow, and with the 8+ hours of driving, I think we’ll make a good dent (assuming we don’t get any more problems).

We’re watching the weather channel right now, talking about the dangerous storms in Southern Cali.. this might ruin our trip down the 101.. But, that’s not until Thursday or Friday, so we’ll have to play it by ear.. but it looks like Napa (tuesday) is gonna be a little wet.

Total Mileage: 462.2 Miles.
Starting Track: “!!!!!!!!” — The Roots
Ending Track: 9 Finger On You — Shudder to Think.

~ LTJ

Day One: Seattle

Click here for photos from Day 1

Despite waking up 15 minutes earlier than we needed to (645 vs. 700 PST), we ended up running late. We missed our shuttle bus back to the Airport by literally 60 seconds, and the hotel was nice enough to pay for a cab back there. The driver, though friendly, criticized the idea of our trip and called it stupid. What does he know?

We pick up our rental car, and upgrade to a mid-size from the recommendation from the great salesperson behind the Alamo counter. She did make a good point that with the hills, and potential bad weather, it would be beneficial to have a V6. Makes sense.

The music theory, however, started out with a bust. The Damn Griffin iTrip doesn’t work.. it can’t pick up a station to save it’s life. While I own a Tape Adapter, the luxury automobile that we have isn’t fitted with one of this ancient technology. We’re forced to try to get it working with the Radio Adapter, but to no avail. WE’ve gotten nowhere on our list, and are very frustrated. Hopefully after we leave this major metropolitan area, we can get some better stations to tune into.

[Continued… ]

We first ate in this great area called Pike’s Market, which is similar to Boston’s Haymarket or Fanueuil Hall, but it’s 10,000 times better. All local vendors, selling great items.. Freshest fruit you’ve ever seen. Much better and organic than anything the Bean has to offer. This area is home to Etta’s (our Brunch Destination) as well as the very first Starbucks. Rumor has it they serve Eggnog Latte’s all year round — we didn’t stop in to see if this was true, however.

We check into the hotel, and head over to the Space Needle, which is just about 2-3 blocks from our temporary abode. Take a trip up the needle, which was built for the World’s Fair in 1960-something. Pretty extraordinary views. I highly recommend checking out the photos in the gallery section of my site. Good stuff!

After the needle, we head over to the EMP (Experience Music Project) which is pretty awesome. It’s basically a museum dedicated to all the Seattle artists (Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and the Grunge Scene, etc.) and had a special feature on Bob Dylan. It also has a great hands-on aspect, similar to that of the Science Museum, except with instruments. Miss Possible and I came to the conclusion that neither of us have any musical talent what-so-ever.

Tonight we’re headed to a one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city, which is largely vegetarian. Though we’re tired, this city is definitely a great place. Very organic, friendly, and seems like a really fun place to live. Tomorrow’s agenda has waterfalls, portland and potentially Mt. St. Helens.

I hear there’s rumor of storms in Cali. Hopefully we’ll miss that crap.

~LTJ

Arrival

Seattle

We’ve arrived in lovely Seattle. Touched down at Sea-Tac Airport last night around 9:00 PST. Just enough time to track down our luggage, take the wonderful shuttle from the Airport to the hotel where we’re staying.

I guess when I had selected it, just because it said “Courtyard Airport” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s _that_ close to the airport — as it was just about a 10 minute drive (not to mention the 20 minute wait for the shuttle). But all is well.

Today’s plan is to pick up the car and explore Seattle for the day. Visit a vegetarian restaurant (one of the many), and check out some of the sights that Kurt C. and Jimi H. enjoyed. Including the very first Starbucks — though I doubt either Kurt or Jimi hung out there.

Also, from here on out.. all my postings will be in PST, just to keep up with things…. Have something we should check out along our journey? Post a comment.

!++2++!