vinod : March 2009 Archives

Astoria and Long Beach Razor Clamming

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We had a free night at a Red Lion Hotel to burn before the end of March, so we booked a night in Astoria, Oregon—near Long Beach, Washington where we'd do some razor clam digging.  This is all in the very northwestern corner of Oregon and southwestern corner of Washington.  Some pretty cool geography you can see in our route map:

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We drove down to Oregon on Saturday morning—the weather was horrible.  Nothing but wind and downpours.  So our trip to Fort Stevens State Park (marked B on the map) was a bit of a bust.  On a nice day we would have had great seabird viewing and even quite possibly whales.  For the most part it was too treacherous to even take out the camera—but we braved one shot with rain on the lens from the Astoria Column.

Making up a bit for the foul weather, lunch and dinner in Astoria were both home runs.  Bowpicker Fish & Chips served up fried albacore tuna in a batter much like the fried taro you get at dim sum.  Without any discussion we proclaimed it the best fish and chips we've ever had.  And for dinner we hit up the Columbian Cafe—this place holds maybe two dozen people in four booths and a lunch counter.  It's classic Pacific Northwest stuff, with a funky decor and a chef/owner you can watch in action cooking up all sorts of fresh and local fare.  We were in a piggy mood, so Lillie enjoyed their special blend of cured bacon and homemade fettuccine, and I ordered up some pork cheeks.  Wowza.  This is really a must go restaurant when in Astoria.

We then retired to our room at the Red Lion—which had a pretty nice view, actually.  It sits right on a marina overlooking the 4.5 mile bridge that takes you over to Washington.

View from the Red Lion Astoria

By 8:30am the next morning we were on the Long Beach Peninsula looking to find some razor clams.  We were shocked to realize it has been almost four years since we last did this.  Perhaps that showed as we only got five clams—two of which we mutilated during the dig.  Big props to Lillie who spotted four out of the five!  It was horribly windy out making for some poor conditions—and the clams were staying pretty far down making it difficult to find any of their shows.  Oh well…good times.  Plus Zizou got to munch on various ocean debris.

Always kinda cool just to park your car on the Pacific (Zizou looks like an Ewok or something):

And here's our relatively sad looking results at home before cleaning.  Must say they weren't so sad when fried up for dinner—delicious.  So delicious that I forgot to take a photo of the final product.


RTW '09 Update

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It's been since July since this trip was mentioned, so it seemed time for an update with mundane details.

I was just updating my spreadsheet for this trip—it's got all our flight/hotel details, as well as financials.  I'm attempting to forecast/record every penny that might be spent/already spent.  It's all rather disturbing/obsessive to look at, but it's also fun to have PivotTables telling me the average cost of accommodations by country and such.

Over the last eight months our flights have been booked, there have been small schedule changes here and there.  Nothing more than fifteen minutes one way or another—no big deal.  Just as I was thinking about how fortunate we'd been on that front, we got hit by a bigger schedule change last week…

Royal Jordanian cancelled our planned Amman to Tel Aviv flight—so the 24 hours we had in Jerusalem turned into 12 hours.  Enough time for dinner and a night's sleep.  Oh well—the reason we were going to Israel for such a short period was for flight logistics reasons.  And getting to spend more time in Jordan shouldn't be much of a punishment.

Last month we also had to swap our planned horseback riding in Wadi Rum, Jordan to camelback riding with a different outfitter.  A very negative trip report on the planned horseback guide made us skittish. 

Otherwise at this point, we've got the basic travel logistics pretty well locked down.  It's all terribly complicated, so fingers crossed things actually work somewhat as planned come game time!

A few stats related to this trip:

---17 flights on 9 airlines—Northwest, Finnair, Iberia, Royal Jordanian, Malev Hungarian, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and ol' Alaska.

---35,488 total miles to be flown.  <gulp>  (the circumference of the equator is ~25K miles)

---14 different beds—running the spectrum, from: friends in Paris, a tent in the Jordanian desert, Ugandan guesthouses, a Le Meridien, and traditional Japanese ryokans.

---3 continents, 8 currencies, and 9 passport stamps—Finland, France, Jordan, Israel, Hungary, Uganda, Rwanda, Japan, and Canada.  (We won't leave the airport transiting London, Madrid, and Hong Kong.)

Things kick off on May 13 on a redeye to Detroit.  Probably not a lot else to say before then on this matter, but on paper we've got a surprisingly reliable stream of wifi throughout the trip to post updates here.  Though despite having unlocked my iPhone to use foreign SIM cards, there will still be no Twitter updating.

Until our next intra-Northwest excursion...

Trusted Travelers go to Whistler

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We recently became Trusted Travelers in the eyes of the US/Canada border through the NEXUS program.  At $50 for five years it's sort of a "good deal".  You just cruise through the border crossing with minimal/no questions asked.  This was our first trip flexing it—while we didn't hit peak hours, pulling up to the border agent and just getting a "have a good one" was great.

Our route for the weekend:

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We bounced out of Seattle pretty late on Friday night after the Water 1st – Beer 2nd fundraiser.  We were headed to Pitt Meadows, BC for the night—a free Ramada stay in the boondocks east of Vancouver (thanks to the fantastic Wyndham BRG program frequently mentioned here).  We got extremely lost getting there, but were eventually saved by a teenager at A&W Root Beer giving us directions at 12:30am.  It was a nice and clean hotel for the middle of nowhere.

On Saturday morning, we began the drive up the Sea to Sky highway towards Whistler.  The lone stop en route was at the Sunflower Bakery Cafe in Squamish, BC for hot cocoa and pastries.

The initial plan was to do some backcountry snowshoeing north of Whistler, but the avalanche forecasts were off the charts—no thanks, we played it safe.  So our recreation destination was Callaghan Country just south of Whistler.  For $8.50/person, they have some nice snowshoe trails (that are dog friendly).  Pleasantly surprised to only bump into two other groups of people on snowshoe and loads of fresh, fresh snow to stomp around in.


Then we were off to check out Whistler Village and check-in to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.  A cheap rate of $93 including taxes was the impetus for this trip—this hotel is usually well north of $350/night.  It was rather nice to stay at a posh hotel with absolutely nothing on the agenda for the night/next morning.  And it was a classy place—pulled up the Matrix, valet handed us the room keys, and we walked into the room to find a dog bed and bowl awaiting Zizou's arrival.

Zizou enjoyed watching the children at play outside:

To try to save some ducats, we grabbed some take out dinner at Pasta Lupino—quite good and only set us back $20 CAD.  Lillie then settled in for a 12-hour nap…

It was pretty nasty weather on Sunday morning, so we made a leisurely drive back south to Vancouver.  Made a stop at Murrin Provincial Park where Zizou jumped into a frozen lake for a swim.  It was painful to watch, but he sure was enjoying himself.

We had lunch at Japadog (worth clicking on this—"Our English is very poor. The followings may make mistakes. We are sorry.")  And later had dinner with our Vancouver friends at Shanghai River in Richmond—second trip and second grand slam.  A reservation or fist full of Hong Kong dollars is a must to get a table here.

A quick 2.5 hours later we were home in Seattle…will flex the NEXUS again, soon…

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