Pacific Coast Highway

Technically speaking, they call the Pacific Coast Highway the road that stretches all along the coast of Oregon all the way down to the south western tip of California. Its the US101, and sometimes its the US1.

This is one of the most scenic, beautiful, and curvy drives in the world. It curves and weaves its way along the coast like a roller-coaster at times, and at other times its as straight as an arrow; at nearly all times directly along the open coast of North America.

For me it was pure pleasure; there were pull outs around every corner that I was able to stop and pull my camera out to snap a few scenic beauties off. I would be willing to bet that this road gets worse than the Jasper highway (between Jasper and Calgary in the Jasper National Park of Canada) in peak times of the summer, crowded with tourists in their RV’s, the whole way driving slower than a snail crossing a sidewalk. But, on my trip in early May, it felt like I was the only one on the highway outside of the cities.

The first stretch, in the north west corner of Oregon beside Portland was very beautiful. It was most of the same scenery that I’m used to living in the rain forests of Vancouver, but it was so much less populated that it was easier to feel like I was going to find a ginger bread house around the next bend, huddled in amongst the trees.

Early on in the drive there were a few towns like Long Beach and Rockaway Beach that were slightly surfer town-ish that had a few surf shops littered about, all along the ocean with great beach access that you could enjoy the surf in. However, it was fairly windy, and talking to locals, at this time of the year its either windy or foggy. So I was happy with the wind because it meant that I could see and take cool pictures!

The drive lead me directly into San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, which is beautiful and magnificent, inspite the $6 (or was it $8) toll for going across it. Unfortunately for me, it was nearly midnight when I crossed so I got the city lights instead of scenic San Fran bay, which I guess wasn’t that unfortunate after all for the beauty was all in its own.

The drive into San Francisco was pretty cool, always being on a downhill slope, and the 1 takes you directly through downtown San Fran. Its always fun to take the trip right through the heart of the big cities. That’s what trips are all about in the end aren’t they?

Once through San Fran, I found myself a bit off the coast, so it required a little bit of winding to make my way back to the coast. I B-Lined it over to Pacifica so I could get right back onto the US1 and the coast to capture more scenic photographs, which was the goal of my trip; do the coast the entire way.

By this time one notices that the landscape is slowly turning to more dessert type vegetation, and for me I saw my first palm trees about 1km outside of the California State border. Its weird how that goes.. Although, when I was driving along the coast everything was still very green, but once the road took me in land a while, there were signs everywhere for the dunes.

Santa Cruz is a cool town, which the US1 takes you directly through. I stopped here for to find a grocery store that could supply me with the vegetables and fruits that I needed to stay alive! I’ve started big time to support Clif Bars, which give amazing nutrients, cheaply, and organically.

I soon found myself in Big Sur, weaving through this beautiful stretch of heavily forested & beautiful coastline view roads. I must have pulled over once every km or so to stop at the turn out and take pictures. It was so amazing, and if I ever have a chance to retire from the regular way of things, I think I will choose an area like Big Sur to live. As long as I’d get a nice patch of land to grow my veges on! Apparently its one of the top areas in the world that scientists say will be gone soon. They say because of the rising tide, but really, there were very big cliffs at spots to get down to the water.

After rolling through Big Sur, I ran into a big parking lot that had a tonne of sea lions beached, just chilling there; relaxing with each other and enjoying the surf. It was an amazing thing to see from this close, since usually the only exposure to the animals is either in a zoo, or from a boat thats about 20ft off a rocky island that idles safely at a distance. I literally could have walked out and amongst the giant animals, but I choose to stay on the human side of the fence…. segregation?

The highway soon smoothed out, and pleasantly I cruised on along towards the final destination happy and content with the warm sun beating down through the sun roof in the car.

Totally content so far on the trip, I was feeling lucky and rather blissful. It may have just been the drain of entering into the land of the sun, but I think it was due to the enjoyment I was having on the trip. Going down the coast, seeing all these sights and beautiful coastline photos was literally fairly dreamy. I hope I will remember all that I saw, and all that I went though, but I also have lots of photographs to remember it by.

You all should do the trip.

Trip to Southern California

I have embarked upon a trip south to the point of LA, which was routed along Highway 101 and 1 depending on which one was closest to the ocean (you may also know of them as the pacific coast highway or the oregon coast). It began 6 days ago on a stormy monday morning bright and early from the port of Vancouver, BC now I come to you from the beautiful banks of Malibu, California. I have been here for nearly 3 full days now, going around and checking all the interesting things to see in the area. Things I’ve heard about so much but have never seen. Yesterday I did the last stretch of the coast I will most likly be doing, which took me down to Huntington Beach, California where I was sucked in by a Greenpeace advocate to join the cause; I truly am shocked our Gray whale population is only 800 in the world.

While in Huntington Beach, I got the idea in my head that I wanted to get a skateboard, specifically of the longboard variety. So I found one I liked and noticed it was made by Arbor, which is a company based out of Venice, California, which just happens to be right next to where I’m staying in Malibu. After researching the location of the head office, I headed there today and this is what I got:

So, I am the new proud owner. The cool thing was the guy in the shop had the exact same board… I was like “SOLD”. ūüôā After driving around with it in the back seat for a few hours, I decided as I drove by Beverly Hills residential district, that the streets I was seeing were simply gold for cruisin on the board. So on a residential street, amongst the Bentleys, BMWs, Jaguars, and Mazeratis I tried out my new board! It was a bit wobbly at first, not being used to the trucks etc, but I managed to escape without any tumbles. The streets were simply beautiful to rock on. I would go to one end of the road at Sunset Blvd, and then cruise for a good 5 minutes all the way down to Santa Monica Blvd. I was simply cement surfing. So cool.

That was the main excitement for me today, but there was more. This is going to be my third night staying at this campground, the Malibu Beach RV Park. I think its one of the most beautiful campgrounds I’ve ever stayed at, and the prices are cheaper than most of the other places that I have stayed at along the road down. Yes, I am tenting, so they have me way up top with a birds-eye view of the whole cove. Basically the only sounds that I hear are the waves crashing. I can see the coast line for miles, which right now are lit with scattered house lights (Its pitch black out right now).

Today I also made it to the Hollywood hills, took a nap in Griffith Park (kinda just dirt and some clumps of grass), I cruised Hollywood Blvd and saw a model having a photoshoot in a phone booth, Sunset Blvd was also cool and I saw a tonne of film studios. I then took Santa Monica Blvd into Beverly Hills and further onto Santa Monica where I got a little lost but soon found my way back to Malibu. Thats just how I roll.

I ate dinner at a pizza joint in Beverly Hills, which was interesting because I was in some sort of gay district as it seemed to be only guys there holding hands. I think I saw about 5 couples of men holding hands…. I honestly don’t think I saw more than a handful of women…

Yesterday I got to hang with a cool friend from down here and watched Red Circle Underground at the AC Supper Club in Venice, CA. This band seriously rocks some major coolness. Through my friend, I was introduced to the whole band, and commenced partying with them the whole night long. We closed the club down. Totally awesome introduction to the LA art scene, and I totally learnt some cool stuff about how things roll down here. They had a burlesque show, believe it or not, that performed before the final act. I felt that RCU should have been the main event EASILY. Check them out any chance you get. They were so cool and gave me a 3 song EP! I was/am stoked.

There was also a painter in there, doing some live on the spot painting which was also totally cool. It kind of takes on one of my dreams of having art being created on the spot as it gets inspired by the music, also as part of the show. Very cool.  Who says that a concert must simply be a feast for the ears?

The point of this trip was to find a reason, to find something that has been missing from part of my existence that I haven’t been able to grasp. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it sounds like it is. Maybe its just a little bit more meaning to why I’m doing what I’m doing. Or maybe its just to explore the coast. In one of my books I’m reading, I fall upon a quote all the time: “Man spends eternity searching for an understanding of himself, but never have I met a person who understands himself fully.” I think its more of a sequence of events that leads a person to enjoy their life to the fullest, and appreciate every day to the utmost possible region of gratitude. I think this is more what one searches for: A reason or will to live.

Today has finished with a smile on my face. Sometimes it only takes a good mood to turn things around. I was sitting on the beach, playing my guitar and watching the sun disappear behind the mountains and a very nice girl after a while was leaving, loading her kid into her car. I think her sister or friend had another 3 in tow, and we started talking, and as she was leaving, she came over and offered me a half of a bottle of French¬†Champaign. I was totally floored by the kindness of this girl, and I wish I wouldn’t have been so speachless and flustered to have offered her a gift in exchange.

Today has filled me up with non-stop¬†similar¬†such kindness’. LA has reminded me that life takes a smile to make it better, and trust me, life is worth smiling. That is all.

Spring Time : Cherry Blossoms Are Here

I’m listening to Two Sisters, by Tom Waits. Some of his stuff just rocks me to my soul, but this one in¬†particular¬†makes me think of the old west when I was a young lad (no, really I was never involved), but it makes me remember a time when men wore dress pants every day, top hats were in fashion, and so were¬†mustaches.

But most of all, this time makes me think of the spring time. How there is always a hope beyond all recognition that things are going to start looking better, but still one knows that tomorrow will come and drag on just as the last have come. Thats ok though, because we did, and do have cherry blossoms to keep our spring time hopeful.

They just look so beautiful all over the place, sticking out against the cold grain of the leaf-less brothers and sisters out there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how cities and citizens decide that its in their best interest to chop down trees everywhere. This, without a doubt, makes me feel sad for what we have lost in our expansion as a society. Today I went for a hike today, in support of WildNed through the woods, which just brings back so much feeling of health and wealth that is beyond any currency that exists. The fact that we chop down all our trees to put up concrete is understatedly sad.

A house just around the corner from where I live, was for sale and gated up for the longest while, but finally did sell. So, what does the new owner do as a first priority? He chops down the row of trees that spanned the entire length of the lot side to side, must have been about 20ft tall those trees, most about 2ft apart.

Keep our trees, keep our nature, keep the earth so that tomorrow I can go out for a walk in it and see flowers blooming and children playing in the fields. Please join my fight in stopping people from cutting down old trees on their properties just because the insurance company says its a risk, and it’ll save you $20 a month on insurance.

Besides, they help us all breath!

Norwegian Cruise Lines Pearl Experience

Recently I’ve made a trip on the great Pearl, which is among Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, into the¬†Caribbean where we stopped at Samana in Dominican Republic, St. Thomas and Tortola in the Virgin Islands, and finally for a day in the sun at the Great Stirrup Cay just outside of Miami. Overall the trip was great, free food, entertainment to keep me from going stir crazy, and day excursions into places that were exotic and warm. Alcohol was expensive ( to be expected ) and a lot of overweight, and old people, which I suppose is also to be expected.

The first day was hectic, loading onto the ship, standing in line, getting our rooms, finding our way around the boat, and then finally falling asleep on a new bed. Yai, were on a cruise.

It took one full day before we reached the first town, Samana, located in the Dominican Republic, which incidentally is on the same island as Haiti. Maybe I should have already known this…. When we got there, we had to tender to land (take a smaller boat from ship into the dock). Yes, more waiting in line, but not to much. We were slow starters, so we were among the last to go.

As it turned out, there wasn’t too much to see in the small town, but a lot to get haggled about. The instant we stepped outside the gates of NCL, it was haggler after haggler, asking us if we needed a ride to the water falls, into town, scooter etc. Then we walked another hundred paces, and were into the nick-nacks selling. “Brother, this one is for you, got the right shirt for you here. Brother where are you from? Oh I have a sister living there. yes yes.” At one point, they were blocking the road so that we couldn’t walk any further until we rather forcefully pushed our way through and continued on. Think moving through a crowded bar but nobody else around. yes. it was fun. My folks bought some very cheap, and very large paintings from the artists. They are pretty.

Next we were off to the new and fairly modern city of St. Thomas, complete with a yacht club, and one with a helicopter on the top of it.

There was even a part of the city named “Yacht City” which was pretty cool to see Louis Vitton and Gucci stores there…. Coming from the poverty we just passed through. I was able to get online at a small place called Hubbly Bubbly Hukka lounge. No, I did not try the Hukka. I think it was $15 for a huke? But, I did buy some beers there at reasonable price, and had a very friendly bartender serving me beers.

After this day, we headed for Tortuga, another city in and amongst the Virgin Island. It was a less fancy town, possibly smaller, and once again we required a Tender to get into the port.

We wandered around for a bit, found a place to sell us Red Stripe Jamaican Beer for $1.50 which were also tall beers! so we pounded a few of those back, and headed back to the boat.

After this, which was our 4th night on the boat, we had a full day of ocean

The next day we hit the private beach of Great Stirrup Cay, where we had a full day of sitting on the beach cooking like lobsters (ie. getting red) on beautiful tropical sand and ocean to swim in. We were buying $25 buckets of beer (6 per bucket) and by the time we were to get up and head home, were feeling happy! The brother got up for the first time in a while, and fell right down right away! haha. So funny. One of the lifeguards was right there and laughed along with me and my mother! He was cooked red completely! Poor fellow.

This was our last day full day on the boat, and now I’m sitting here, the next day, on solid land in a Miami hotel right next to the airport, yes there are airplanes going overhead constantly.

Each morning I would get up, head to the all you can eat buffet, and get myself a¬†omelet¬†made, with ham, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and spinach. So good. I’d usually get a eggs bennedict, some bacon and some sausage (turkey and pig) to go with it. Today I also had some french toast. Yum.

After this, it was usually to the tender desk to get a number to be called to take us over to the land, or else sit down in a nice spot on the deck and read my book. I managed to finish off The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, which was a pretty good book. Kinda getting used to his style of writing, and¬†definitely¬†enjoy the dream it takes me on. It was a big book though. I’ve now started The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, which is turning out to be a very very interesting book. If your interested in how the USA is taking over the world, its a must read.

After this it’d either be lunch time, which was beer if we were on land, or more buffet on the boat. Probably a bit of chicken, salad, and who knows what else. Always yummy, but usually the same selection of a buffet. Near the end, it was kind of hard to face the buffet. Same old thing in a way, but still a lot of selection.

By this time, the family was usually very tired, and we’d either head off to read some more or take a nap. This is when I’d usually find my way to the gym (if I hadn’t drank to much), up to the deck to read some more, or off to the courts to play some bball.

Then we’d be off to the formal dinner palace, where we’d dress up, and be served by some really good service. It was really a treat to get the service, and the great food from the restaurant, and is always fun to dress up. The New York Cheese Cake was my favorite and most desired dessert I picked. Had it almost every night.

After this, at 9:30, we’d head off to the theater to take in the evenings entertainment. Generally it was really good. I’m a bummer sometimes, and just want to read my book, but my folks loved it. I cant believe those people up there could do what they were doing, with the boat rocking as it was. Magic Tricks, comedy acts, vegas show girls, and swinging circus acts were all involved in the entertainment.

Following this, I got into the habit of going to a 24hr lounge, and ordering some won ton soup, which hit the spot completely. Around this time, it was bed time, completing a full day of life on board a cruise ship.

I am always astonished to find the amount of people that are overweight in this wonderful world. The amount of people that could barely walk, crouched over, wrinkly and overweight was astounding. I hope I never get to be in that sort of shape. I’m taking the necessary precautions.

My folks are talking how their going to be staying in Miami Beach tomorrow, kinda makes me jealous, but I realize that my time has come, and my adventure must end. Back tomorrow off to Olympic bit Vancouver, to hit the books for another few months of happyness?!

Time to get back on track with some help from Exercise and Mind . Get my focus on, get my exercise habits back, and get my love returning for all things necessary. Its always been there I guess, but I always find its hard to focus again.

Hopefully this pending cold goes away, and its just the long day I spent in the sun getting its best of me. I’m happy we managed to get away on a cruise, my first experience on one, and I highly suggest it for people who are looking to relax and explore new lands conveniently. Let me know if you have any other experiences on your cruise you’d like to share!

Off To Miami

So, as it goes, I will be heading off to Miami, or Florida area if you will, for a week, and then a week cruise to the Bahamas! I know, this sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Weather that I can wear shorts in, sandy beaches that I can lay down on, sunscreen and sunglasses, and drinks at oceanside cafe’s are just a few of the things that I plan on doing.

You see, in Vancouver here, we have this thing called the 2010 Olympics going on, so everything and everything is shutting down for two weeks, except the pubs, and this includes the fine establishment I frequent. So Two weeks, what to do…. hmmm.

I’ll be taking my camera, so expect to see a couple dozen pics from the excursions down there.

The plan is to get to the Everglades, and take some pictures of¬†Alligators. The folks who are already down there say that the birds are¬†marvelous¬†and come right up to the boat or hiker, which is what I’ll be doing.

I cannot wait for this I’ll be there in 72hrs, so if your down there, and want to hook up, take some pics together or have some fun, contact me and we’ll see what we can do!

Stay safe kids.

Bloedel Floral Conservatory

So, today I embarked on a journey to the center of Vancouver to the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Queen Elisabeth Park at Cambie and 33rd St. I, of course, brought my camera, and took a tonne of great shots. Got so many good pics of beautiful flowers and plants as well as the resident parrots and birds they had around.

I love when you walk into a room and you can just feel the moisture seeping into you. I always loved that about Vancouver when I was a kid coming here, I remember it very vividly. I think it comes back in the summer time. But, thats what it was like in here. Must be just a heaven to live in for a plant, not like the light deprived ones of my bedroom…

I brought a sandwich to share, but turned out I was the only one hungry. Its easy to relax and sit and enjoy whats going on around you when you have something to do. I find its hard to just sit and enjoy things sometimes, maybe thats a fault of mine.

I ran into an old couple with a video camera there. They seemed to just walk around, enjoying everything. They told me that one of the parrots was the comedian of the bunch, so apparently they spend a lot of time there. I’m curious how many hours of footage he has of the birds there. I, myself, in the two hours I spent there managed to get around 400 pics taken, of which I widdled it down to 60 or so.

I overheard one of the ladies talking about how the conservatory might have to sell some of the things to raise some money for it. That to me is just plain old sad news. I did some research on it, and found out that due to city budget cuts, they were going to close down the conservatory. This to me is horrific, to shut down something as beautiful as this, and promote something as… ?fruitful? as the Olympics is beyond me. Just across the street from the Park was a giant brand new facility for Curling for the Olympics.

Question: How many millions of dollars did they spend on that facility, and how many millions of dollars would it take for the conservatory to stay open for another 10 years giving students to elders alike a sense of what beautiful things nature can provide for us if we let her flourish.

I think something is very skewed when we tear down and disregard parks and forest for the sake of business. Actually, it sickens me.

St. Paul’s Hospital, Burrard St. Vancouver, BC

So, I just took a nice evening drive to the wet Vancouver core, to enjoy the lights at St. Paul’s Hospital. It was amazing as ever. The lights are beautiful. To check out more pics go to: (http://www.flickr.com/photos/45425256@N05/)I’m curious though, not to ruin the mood or anything, but I couldn’t help think about the fact that BC’s (and maybe more of Canada?) having quite the problems with lack of health care professionals to fully serve the patients due to cutbacks in the government budget. Seems they put it into the lights…. But, anyways…

I was just setting up my tripod when a fellow came by with a hotdog and started telling me how his life has been on the crazy train for the past little while, and he wanted to know if he was going to live to see tomorrow.  I told him if he keeps eating those hotdogs maybe not. haha. jk.

I told the fellow that I guarantee he will live to see tomorrow, and that hard work is what pays off. I think I provided him my patience and time, and talked to him in a kind manner. My only regret is that I did not get his picture..

I’m not sure if it’s just this time of season, or if its just the weather, or what ever, but…. it’s kind of a sad time for a lot of people. I wonder in times before we had Jesus to celebrate the life of, or Santa to wish for, if the middle of the winter was a very sad and thoughtful time of the year for people.¬†

I know that in many cultures it was a time where everybody was held indoors because snow removal wasn’t a thing trucks did, and it was a time for story telling, for traditional practice to really shine through. Often these things are seeped in memories and facts from the past.

I was listening to some Megadeth, and they had a Dave Mustane interview. They asked him why all his songs have a morbid approach to them. He responded that death is a part of everybodies life, some people just try to ignore it. To him it is very relevant and not something he needs to ignore… in a nutshell.