Travel Log: Pacific Northwest, 2012 25-11-2012


I am currently in route to Portland, and believe that I am somewhere over Iowa or thereabout. This is the second tour-style trip of the year, but it is much reduced in scope compared to the European excursion in May. 8 days, 3 cities (Portland, Seattle, Vancouver), 2 countries.

But I am incredibly excited! Not even my guilt over scheduling my flight on Meghan's birthday can damper the exuberance. Meghan has assured me that all is well: she doesn't hold much value in birthdays and says she's just pumped that I've visited so much recently. So with a light heart and big eyes, I head to the great Northwest!

The flight thus far is decent. Alaska Airlines seems like a charter member of the Nicklers-and-Dimers organization. But it hardly matters: the view of a twilight D.C. as we took off more than makes up for it. A vast ocean of twinkling gold and silver, arranged with the familiar anarchy of the District's structural pattern. Even the bright Friday rush hour traffic jam of 495 looked wondrous!

The Midwest appears to be an expanse of darkness, dotted with the occasional town of light. Bright main streets spawn dimmer tendrils of street lamp-lined roads which trail off into the void. Nothing like the endless floor of gold that composes the Detroit-Ann Arbor area. Admittedly, that is far more metropolitan than whatever we are passing over right now.

This trip came together very late, ie. mostly last night. I booked airfare months ago and then completely spaced on details. Two weeks ago, I booked lodging... then spaced again! Last night I reserved a rental car and booked a train from Portland to Seattle, while also laying out a finer travel plan: November 16-19 in Portland, November 19-24 in Seattle with a long day trip to Vancouver on Wednesday the 21st. The day prior will be spent roaming the rainforests of Olympic National Park and the sandy stretches of Pacific coast.

Colorful, vibrant cities and lush, immaculate nature. It should be wonderful, both as a trip and as a relaxer. Work has been hectic and much of my free time has been spent on other work, namely Doodle or Die. That's ultimately why I neglected to bring my MacBook: I need to escape for a moment. I'll miss Thanksgiving with my family, but I believe that they will need to get used to holidays without me soon.

The forecast for the trip calls for rain. Every. Single. Day. That's exactly what I want! I may not know where precisely I will go and what exactly I will do, but I do know that rain will follow throughout. I embrace it!

Should be just a few more hours now. I'll evade the screaming baby with some music, and sign off for now.

P.S. The Big Dipper looks like it's almost at eye level, riding just over the wing. Terrific.


I am sitting in the train station waiting on the 12:45pm to Seattle. Seated across from me is a young family: a mother and father likely in their high 20s or low 30s, two toddler girls, and a baby girl. The father seems contemptuous of his children and cold toward the mother. The mother seems overwhelmed and her child-rearing mechanism is to tell the girls to sit down and watch the portable DVD player.

Whenever the mother returns, the father walks away for some time, returning to drink some water and ignore his children's request for attention and affection.

I've been making sly funny faces and giggling at the girls. The eldest, not more than four years old, was spinning around with her coat over her head. When she would pull the coat up and smile at me, I would smile back and stick my tongue out or wiggle my eyebrows, which got a real laugh. The increased activity and energy this caused in the girls seemed exasperating to the mother.

But I sincerely do not care. I tried to turn an absolutely depressing situation into a happier one. The kids certainly seem more jovial.

Regardless, not all of Portland is so soul-crushing. In fact, most of it is absolutely awesome! The food, the culture, the environment, the vibe, the people: all wonderful. I've packed a great deal into my two and a half days here; I've walked most of the west side and a healthy chunk of the east, I've been to the forests and to downtown, I've tried numerous methodologies for dealing with the rain, I've sparked conversations with folks all over the city, and I've even checked in at some big-time Portland institutions.

Friday night: arrival! No rain! 60 degrees Fahrenheit! I took the MAX from the airport to Old Town/Chinatown and wandered the northwest neighborhoods of the city. Aimlessly, I trekked down avenues and across streets, coming across everything from the Pearl District to Skidmore. In short order, I stumbled upon a live concert happening in the heart of Old Town, at the corner of Broadway and Yamhill. They called their selves All the Apparatus, they played accordions, trumpets, trombones, drums, guitars, keytars, keyboards, tambourines, and other instruments I could not identify, and their sound was some fusion of blues, polka, jazz, and folk. The crowd gradually coalesced into a raucous affair of line dancing, revelry, and what I may best describe as "polite moshing". I photographed the show from nigh every angle, leading to the vocalist (one of them, at least) remarking between songs, "If it's worth a picture, it's worth a dollar."

And I'm sorry but I have to return to this family across from me. The fucking mother is nothing but harshness and threats. The fucking father is absolutely frigid: whenever he returns, the daughters try to hug him and he pays them literally no attention, beyond the occasional shush or push-away.

I think I hate them. Poor children.

After the show, I continued my explorations, noting the architectural patterns (lofts, lofts everywhere (deco, too)) and observing the locals. I happened upon multiple drunken street-side arguments and shouting matches. In retrospect, this may be correlated with my first main Portland revelation: the city shuts down remarkably early. A few bars every ten or so blocks might remain open after 7, but that's it. And in parts of the city, particularly the Southeast as I learned Saturday, you may be the only person not in a car or indoors for several blocks. Hauntingly lonely at times. But it taught me a lesson that I had already suspected: travel is better with your favorite travel buddy. The crippling loneliness, rampant homelessness, and dearth of liveliness during the walk through that part of Portland would have been much more bearable if I were not solo.

But Saturday also revealed the natural side of Portland. I hiked for miles through the forested (heavily forested, I must add) parks to the west. Up and down hillsides through a torrential downpour that the lofty canopy was unable to provide protection against. But the sheer beauty of the evergreens and hazy mists that slowly danced over the landscapes at the end of every clearing was entrancing. I caught myself smiling madly as I stared up at dark green treetops as rain crashed on my face. So lush, so serene.

Near Oregon Zoo

It may be somewhat tame vegetation relative to the rest of the Northwest, but it was a good primer for Olympic National Park tomorrow. At least, I hope!

The return to the city lead to some fun delights. Powell's Books, apparently the largest or second largest public bookstore in the world, was absolutely intimidating. An entire city block, three stories high with a fourth story over a third of it. Sections for everything one could wish to read about. Rows and rows of books, floor to ceiling, lined with voracious readers gobbling up their chosen words. And that's just the main building: a second, smaller building across the street focused on science, math and technology. I realized I was in a STEM-oriented bookstore when I saw a shelf for "Popular Computer Science" with all of Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming". And when I found shelves devoted to mathematic disciplines from abstract algebra to linear algebra to topology. And when I found a "Logic & Philosophy" section designed, seemingly, as a monument to the works of Douglas Hofstadter. I was in heaven.

There was also Floating World Comics, with its delightfully eerie works by Dunja Jankovic, and a record store that teased me with of Montreal vinyls. And of course Ground Kontrol: the adults-only (after 5pm, at least) retro arcade. I happened upon it Saturday night and left only after dropping ten dollars in quarters on Ms. Pacman, Tempest, Donkey Kong, Star Trek pinball, Centipede, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, Super Mario Bros. 3, Galaga, Space Invaders, Digdug, Qbert, and a hundred other games I cannot recall. Oh yeah: Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Street Fighter 2, Tekken Tag Tournament! It was a nostalgic blast; the scores of drunken adults shouting over "that bitch" Ms. Pacman only made it more Portland, ie. more weird.

I feel like I can write about what I did and what I saw and where I went for ten more pages. All of the wonderful food (oh my, Belgian waffle with chicken-fried quail from Metrovino), the Cultural District (Portland Art Museum was fantastic), the Blazers-Bulls game (the Rose Garden is legitimate). But once again, it was the people that made the experience.

Paul Miller, the twenty-four year old metal fabricator from Delaware. We talked shop and learned that our fields have a number of similarities, particularly the give-and-take between designers and engineers.

The young lady in the bunk across from me who studied psychology in the Bronx but abandoned the field because she thought it depressing: she hates listening to people complaining about their problems. She will instead move to Portland and open a food cart, largely because it's more laid back.

The waitress at the Daily at the Pearl who, after crowd-sourcing her fellow staff, provided me a list of musts for a trip to Portland (I did 5 out of 12). So kind.

Jeremiah, the self-described "account manager" who chatted with me about Camus and Spinoza, about Portland and D.C., who explained his love for philosophy as "Every one needs a hobby. I get an hour for lunch every day."

The older lady walking her two chihuahuas who I bumped into several times over the course of an hour or two. Her charm ("I'd say I were following you if my dogs weren't in complete control.") and politeness were common to most Portlanders that I encountered.

The man in the park who made "combat stances" with a grey squirrel while I photographed it, then regaled me with tales of the hyper dimensional powers of squirrels (they see in all spectrums, not just visible) and their ambitions and their judgments of Man (they're not good, folks). He'll write an amazing novel one day.

The nice ushers at the Rose Garden, the wonderful waitress at Metrovino, the hilarious man at the crosswalk outside of the dance club ("downstairs mix-up"), all of the delightful people from the Portland Saturday Market (that actually happened on Sunday), especially those who rushed to check on me when the thick branch fell out of the tree I was walking underneath and nearly killed me.

All of these people, and all of the experiences we shared, small or large, made the trip. I thank you all.

Now I sit on the train en route to Seattle. Until next time, Portland.

Olympic National Park

Happy Thanksgiving! My feast was a chicken bacon ranch melt from Subway. More importantly, I am thankful for the kind, thoughtful, loving people in my life and the fortune that has befallen me throughout these twenty-three years.

I have one more full day left in Seattle, so I will wait until all data and observations are in before I record my thoughts. For now, I will make due by reflecting on my two sub-excursions: Olympic National Park and Vancouver, like night and day.

Tuesday: I awoke early, fetched groceries for the day, and retrieved the rental car. My goal: Rialto Beach or bust! I wanted, needed, to dip my toes in the Pacific before the day was up. So I wove my way through Seattle's neat grid of streets and avenues down to the waterfront, where I would cross the Puget Sound--from Seattle to Bremerton--by ferry. This is where I encountered Awe-Inspiring Natural Splendor #1: the Puget Sound.

The approximately one-hour sail around the lovely peninsular and archipelagic shores was absolutely stunning. The only thing more captivating than the blue stillness of the water and the smell of salt in the air was the charm of the various coastlines: veritable forests of lush green pines give way to dots of colorful sound-side cabins. I was reminded of Lake Monticello and Grandma's house, though on a much grander scale.

While most on the ferry slept in their cars or sat in the cafe up on deck--it must be the thousandth trip for many of them--I wandered the open air underneath, quickly going numb from the frigid winds pouring over every inch of my body due to the wind tunnel effect of the ship's design. The loss of feeling in face and fingers was rewarded with the lapping of salt water in the ferry's wake, the squawk of seagulls swooping just over the surface, and the sight of an awakening Seattle Skyline as we pulled out of port. Just gorgeous from start to finish.

I drove off of the ferry at Bremerton to begin the long march to the Pacific. The drive took me through extremely varied terrain. Tiny, middle-of-nowhere towns, expanses of fecund farmlands from horizon to horizon, covered in the greenest grass imaginable, temperate evergreen forests, and winding, rocky hillsides.

I was cruising along, tranquilized by some two hours of scenic driving to the soothing sounds of CBC Radio 2's classical music, when I encountered Awe-Inspiring Natural Splendor #2: Lake Crescent. I was taken completely by surprise at this glacial lake's beauty. The waters are an impossibly brilliant blue, the visible shores are a set of slopes and cliffs covered in dense forestation, and the horizon is a blur of mountain and hazy, misty sky. I fear that I do not have the poetic ability, nor the mere language, to describe just how wondrous the sight of this lake was to me. Instead, I will just describe a moment I had:

At the outlook where I pulled the car over to take in everything that the lake could offer, I climbed down to the mossy rocks and crouched over the gentle lapping of the waves. The pitter-patter of a faint rain on the lake's surface provided my only soundtrack. I reached down and watched myself slowly plunge a hand into the deep blue waters. I looked out over the surface toward a bend in the lake and felt a coolness rush through me. As a few tears trickled from my eyes, I transitioned from a sensation of being overwhelmed by beauty to a state of complete peace. I climbed back up to the grassy overlook, gazed up at the treetops swaying serenely in the breeze, took a deep breath, and continued on my journey. As the Third Movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony flowed into my ears with the start of the car, I could only smile.

Lake Crescent

It would be another hour and a half of driving before I approached the Pacific coast. I turned right onto the kind of sandy, craggily road that always leads to an ocean. I reached the end, parked the car, suited up nice and warm, and ascended up over the hill to look out on Awe-Inspiring Natural Splendor #3: Rialto Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Unlike any beach I've ever seen, Rialto seems very northwestern in aesthetic and in feel: a beach of black, volcanic pebbles and polished rock, a border of towering pines, a million pieces of driftwood and massive, fully intact logs and trunks of varied species strewn across the shore, a completely grey sky, monumental sea stacks out near the horizon and approaching the shore, intense wind and rain and chilled airs, and, of course, the choppy waves of a Pacific high tide. Near the southern end of the beach, the wall of rock and wood separated the ocean from a vaguely marsh-like river leading out to the sea. Toward the northern end, Ellen Creek winds down from the hills, races nearly parallel to the coast near the back of the beach, and eventually dives into the sea in a collision of salty and fresh waters.

I explored the beach from end-to-end, examining rocks and sea stacks and racing away from the creeping tide whenever it caught me off guard. The first time that I failed to evade the icy waters in time, I succeeded in dipping my toes in the Pacific.

I also happened upon a mostly destroyed octopus carcass that two seagulls decided was not up to their lofty standards. A few European travelers wandered over to see what I was so fascinated by and proceeded to joke about having sex with the suction cups. Some combination of their accents, the gestures that they made, the context, and the sheer absurdity of it all made this completely hilarious to me.

About the only other person on the beach was a man who looked suspiciously like the narrator from Moonrise Kingdom. He meticulously, slowly wandered the fringes of the beach and, when the storm started to roll in, he appeared completely and utterly calm. This concerned me.

What was more concerning, however, was the fact that I could see Ellen Creek start to rush more forcefully and I realized that eventually it would eat far enough into its sandy shores carved in the beach that the log that I walked to cross the stream and reach the other side of said beach would give way, essentially trapping me. So I rushed off, covering what originally took an hour to trek in about twenty minutes. Ever so slight fear. A very stark turn-around from when I first strolled down to the ocean's edge, faced the powerful winds, inhaled salt air, and felt pure exultation.

I sat in my car and watched the storm long enough to see the sky fill with bright lightning bolts and hail, then decided to drive inland before the low, nearly sea-level roads might flood. Once again, I was delivered a lesson in the power of nature's wrath and the grace of her beauty.

Rialto Beach

But, much more importantly, the day taught me a lesson: I'm a nature boy at heart. Years ago, I fancied myself as some sort of cosmopolitan city-dweller, likely to live in a megalopolis with millions of others in walking distance. As I've traveled and reflected and introspected in recent years, this notion has been slowly whittled away. Tuesday, with all of its wondrous sights and sounds and scents and tastes and feelings, was a triumphant death knell. It was the death of that Josh. It was a realization. And I love it.


The next day's adventure in Vancouver would only reinforce this sentiment, though from the opposite perspective. I spent only eight or so hours in Vancouver and saw a miniscule portion of the city, confined mostly to downtown. I did not get to visit some of its most charming neighborhoods nor its lovely natural surroundings. It was grey and overcast and I was alone. So the following is unfair, but it's what I feel: I do not like Vancouver.

From crossing Granville Bridge to walking around Gastown and Chinatown and the West End on foot, I could not escape the realization that Vancouver is a forest of grey concrete slabs and steel struts, a facade of balcony-laden, glass apartment buildings, a nest of gritty, grimy, congested streets and at-times prickly, at-times hostile residents. This last point aside, I understand that that environment appeals to many. But not to me: I felt suffocated, out-of-place, enveloped, uncomfortable, anxious, hurried, depressed. And the point about the people cannot be ignored; on multiple occasions, I was treated rudely and abrasively, for ostensibly no reason. It was overall miserable.

Now, there were a few positives. Kitsilano was quaint and eccentric and kind. The food and staff at The Noodle Box were excellent. Kitsilano Beach, with its view of the harbor out toward the ocean and the dogs playing fetch, was serene. And again, I did not get to see the pretty Victorian neighborhoods or the lovely mountains outside of the city. I spent an incredibly short time there. I had undeniably high expectations and specific biases.

But I can only remark that I did not feel happy in Vancouver. I felt depressed. Just as in southeast Portland when I felt a similar low and as on Lake Crescent when I felt conversely exuberant and peaceful, I wished to hold her hand. I'm sure that played a role, too.

The sad paradox is that I'm positive that more time in Vancouver would improve my outlook, but my short time there gave me no motivation to return.

I feel strange and bad writing this, for some reason. I'm usually incredibly positive and open to new environments. But this is how it is. Vancouver is now, for me, a symbol of the monolithic, soulless urban sprawl, a force of repulsion back toward nature, and a sad memory.

C'est la vie.


I walked to the lot overlooking the Puget Sound near the corner of 1st and University and had one last look, one brief moment of reflection. I then took the light link rail to the airport, where I sit now. Thus, my visit to Seattle, and to the Pacific Northwest, comes to a close.

My brief tour of the city brought many sights and sounds; I fear that there are too many to briefly recount. I'll do my best to touch on the highlights and on the most critical moments.

If there were an official soundtrack to my time in Seattle, it would be "Good Luck" by Washed Out and "Everything You Do is a Balloon" by Boards of Canada, on endless repeat. Serene, contemplative, optimistic, solitary, ever so slightly suspicious. From the time my train from Portland rolled into the city until my late walk on the waterfront last night, even until this very moment, the Seattle journey was a largely mental, introverted one. Aside from brief, transient interaction with various service staff and homeless persons, there was no extended contact with anyone. This is surely not an indictment of the people of Seattle. On the contraire, they were quite kind and congenial. Maybe it was the rain, or the effects of my sub-excursions to nature and to Vancouver, or maybe just my own general social state, but I felt like being alone through much of my journey in the city.

My initial explorations of the waterfront and of downtown, largely confined to the vicinity near the Green Tortoise Hostel on 1st and Pike, impressed upon me a quite different set of feelings than those found in downtown Vancouver. The area feels much more open, more varied in architecture and in scenery, more colorful, less oppressive. I never felt suffocated; maybe the fact that I could often glance west and see the Puget and glance east and see Mount Baker helped in this regard. Nonetheless, looking up at the skyscrapers and gazing at panoramic views of the cityscape filled me with wonder, particularly at night: Seattle after darkness comes is an ocean of glittering gold, a sparkling storm of silver against the blackness of night. Both from the vantage points like Kerry Park and the Space Needle and from walking through the avenues and streets on foot, Seattle is beautiful.

I was also particularly fond of the color palette of the facade facing the sound. A mix of greens and pinks and earth tones and stupendously weathered neutrals. A joy to look at.

(Quick aside: we just took off. The view of the Seattle area and its countless lakes and bays and rivers and sounds and islands and peninsulas, with downtown Seattle rising over it all, was breath-taking. Even more breath-taking was the view of the Cascades as we flew overhead: peeks at snowcapped mountains through openings in cloud cover, stretching to infinity. And the glimpses of peaks penetrating through the shroud were topped only by the discovery of little blue lakes nestled high up in the mountains. Spectacular!)

But all of the walking--and there was an absolute ton of it--did not just yield colors and pretty vistas. There were lessons in these experiences. First, I do not love rain quite as much as I had thought from my cozy mid-Atlantic confines. Though it provided a great backdrop to my journey and it influenced healthy contemplation, it eventually wore on me. I found that after a week of seemingly uninterrupted rain, I needed a break.

The more important, more conflicting, ultimately inconclusive lesson, however, was my feeling of helplessness dealing with the incredible homeless problem in the city. Background: I believe that I am extremely charitable, relative to what I can actually give. I give whatever I can to seemingly every person in need that I find on the streets. The sheer volume of those in need in the areas where I traveled was staggering and troubling. I must have given out some forty to fifty dollars during the trip, with the vast majority of that being distributed in Seattle. It's not much money, but given away one to two dollars at a time, in general, means many encounters. And at least several people asked for money multiple times: some in successive days, some only hours apart. I would feel this internal struggle between egotism ("I already gave you a dollar, don't you recognize me?") and altruism ("They need more; it does not matter who the source is."). And most distressingly, I felt like I hadn't made a dent. I affected negligible change at a macro scale. I can take solace in the smiles, at least, temporary though they may be. It's about helping the individual.

And yet, when, after a length conversation with an older fellow, I handed him five dollars and implored him to call his son (it was Thanksgiving night), he responded by tightly grabbing my right hand, saying, "You're not going anywhere," and calling for another guy a block away to come over. I may have misread his intentions--indeed, even at the time I did not attribute this act to malice--but nonetheless I ripped my hand away and walked off. His use of physical force shocked me. I was so frustrated by it that I spent most of Friday rejecting and refusing to make eye contact with those in need. I still don't quite know what to make of it. But I do know this: I will continue to give and to help. It's imperative.

This frustration and confusion did not sully the trip in the slightest, fortunately. I love Seattle! Thanksgiving day may not have brought a ridiculous feast, but I did have what I'm coining as a "Seattle Thanksgiving": exploration of the waterfront, a ride on the Great Wheel over the Puget Sound, a trip to the aquarium (though each new trip to an aquarium or zoo becomes a bit tougher), a meal of local Dungeness crab (I'm aware of the hypocrisy relative to the previous statement), and a night time trip to the top of the Space Needle.


The Needle is a great, if uber-touristy, experience. From the music to the graphic and industrial design to the history-steeped staff and kiosks, the feeling of being dropped right into the 1962 World's Fair is palpable. And the gorgeous views of the city, the sound, and surrounding areas need no description.

Friday had its own fair share of fun. I visited Pike's Place Market in earnest, finally. The scent of fresh fish and mollusk was almost overbearing, but the just-barely-ordered chaos of all of the trade and the wild variety of local goods being offered was a sight to behold. I also visited the University of Washington campus, which is extraordinarily beautiful. The castle-like architecture and the lovely hues of rosy pink in the stonework and lush green in the vegetation made it a joy to explore (though the CSE building left much to be desired).

From there I made the long three-mile walk (largely uphill) through the Union Bay Preserve and the extremely upscale Laurelhurst community to Lake Washington. There I found, to my dismay, that these admittedly beautiful multi-million dollar homes had claimed the entirety of that stretch of shore as private property. I was able to salvage a few peeks of the lake through the garish homes, but it was mostly a lost case. The two take-aways: I must do my research about my destinations; and, where there's a lake, there's an upscale neighborhood ready to stake claim to its coast.

It might not have been as annoying if I did not have to walk nearly six miles total in torrential rains, but such is life.

Later, I returned downtown and took in the Seattle Art Museum and its fascinating exhibit on women artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Jenny Holzer was provocative, Joan Mitchell was chaotically expressive, and Yayoi Kusama created quixotic, tantalizing pieces out of phallic shapes. Terrific.

Interwoven in these escapades were treks to neighborhoods such as Queen Anne, the University District, Capitol Hill, and the International District. Seattle's neighborhoods are remarkably diverse, each with their own charms. This played a key role in my affection for the city: there's a place for all kinds. It's not the monolithic concrete jungle that other cities may be.

But I managed to miss a few key locales like Pioneer Square, Beacon Hill, Alki Beach, and all of East Seattle. Alas, I shall return!

I keep coming back to lessons; I learned a great deal on this trip through the Northwest. I've already touched on several of these, ranging from relatively trivial all the way to revelatory. But there are a few more I would be remiss to neglect.

Holidays are, for me, about spending time with loved ones. This was reinforced on Thursday, when my first compulsion was to reach out and call family. When I missed them. I missed friends. I missed Mom and Day and Cassie. I missed Meghan! I very much look forward to seeing them soon; I hope some one saved a plate for me!

And I've mentioned it before, but travel really is better with a cherished companion. The highs, the lows, the inane, the truly meaningful, all experiences: better shared than kept locked up. I think that's part of why I'm so set on photographing and logging as much as I can: I want to share the memories and the images and the emotions. And I may have said that the Seattle leg of the trip was very introspective and solitary, but I'd gladly have traded the benefits thereof for the joy of having my beloved travel buddy beside me.

And finally: it may not be the grand, mysterious frontier that it once was, but the Pacific Northwest was wild to me. From the delightfully deranged denizens of Portland, to the beautiful panoramas of Rialto Beach and the serenity of Lake Crescent, to the anxiety and inconsistency of Vancouver, to the variety of sensations and joys in Seattle, to the rain and the wind and the rain and the cold and the clouds and the rain and the unrelenting rain, the Northwest was anything but expected.

So a heartfelt thanks to all of you up North! You taught me much in eight short days and eight peculiar nights. Once again, it was all about the people. And you all are great.

Plus, your food is fucking amazing. Kudos!

See you again soon!