The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

My Winter Vacation

Tupac was quite fond of spouting “West Coast is the best coast”; while I won’t go as far as that I have recently returned from a two week sojourn from Santa Cruz CA to Seattle WA with tremendous results.  Trip started in San Francisco with the majority of time spent in the city by the bay.  SF is my favorite city in the world; this was my second visit reaffirming my subjective belief.  I am fairly well traveled; visited a lot of major European cities, much of the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica and a lot of the US.  SF is certainly the most unique domestic city with a vibe and energy that is unparalleled anywhere on the left coast.  Perhaps that is why I like it so much; the city maintains a California cool while compact like most East Coast cities.  This negates the need for a car that is faced throughout the rest of the state (and whole West Coast).  Further, perhaps sophomorically, the scenery of SF is second only to the beauty of the city’s women.

This trip allowed for more travel throughout the Bay than the previous trip including stops in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Muir Woods, Sausalito amongst others.  All the stops were enjoyable, some more than others.  Most interesting is the dichotomy the area presents; Santa Cruz has a sizeable homeless population with effects felt throughout the quaint little town, Monterey wreaks of old money and blue blooded posturing, meanwhile both share a brilliant coastline with immaculate beaches.  The comparison continues as Sausalito is one of the nicest small towns ventured upon, with high end retail, restaurants, killer views of SF and the Golden Gate Bridge.  The flip side of Marin County are the small towns on the Pacific coast north of SF, specifically the Pt Reyes peninsula, where luxury cars are traded in for old pick up trucks.  The views may lack the SF skyline though the indelible blue of the Pacific crashing against the rocky coast more than makes up for it.  Not to mention the best oysters I ever indulged upon, and that is awfully hard for a Chesapeake Bay loyalist to admit.

Rest of the trip included the drive up the coast to Portland and Seattle.  To paraphrase Robert Burns the best laid road trip plans often get fu**ed up.  Driving up Highway 5 through Northern California my co-pilot and I refused to heed any warnings and figured our rental Hyundai Sonata could handle any winter weather we may encounter.  One chain check and 3 feet of snow later we were on a 200 mile detour that cost about 4 hours.  Thus rather than hanging out in Portland for a night and seeing the city we arrived around 1 am exhausted with only sleep on our minds.  So my apologies to the city of Portland, I owe you one hell raising visit.  The detour did take us through the Shasta Trinity National Park; the drive along the Trinity River with snow falling amongst the fog covered Cascade Mountains was nothing short of spectacular.  CA Route 299 allowed us to see and enjoy the rural side of California including the small logging towns of Weaverville and Whiskeytown.  Additionally, while remembering the UP is a family blog, there are certain perks to driving through Humboldt County. 

The trip to Seattle more than made up for the previous days road woes.  Sun was shining, quick three hour drive (we may have exceeded the speed limit), and a brewing excitement knowing we would be watching the Skins in the playoffs the following day.  As if divinity was on our side, we crest a hill and begin the drive down into Seattle with the skyline of the city silhouetted against the Pugent Sound in the background.  To complete the perfect picture our XM Radio (Channel 47 Ethel is the truth) cranks out a vicious live version of Cordouroy transporting us to 1994 when the Seattle music scene was at its peak and Pearl Jam was king.  We hit town hard, combination of sightseeing and beer drinking that would make Earnest Hemingway proud.  Insisting on local dive bars and restaurants, friends were made, fish were tossed, pool was played, and, um, other things happened too.  Bought tickets for the Skins Seahawks game at a pretty reasonable price ($125 for good lower level seats, cheap for DC standards) and met some nice people in the stands.  A couple of d-bags said some offensive stuff specific to Sean Taylor but generally the crowd was cool.  That stadium is absolutely the loudest I have ever been to, the crowd noise is not artificial, and those people are lunatics.  They literally scream the entire time the opposing team has the football.  Must be good money for ear nose and throat specialists in that town. 

Trip sadly ended with a Skins loss.  Still a great trip.  Still a great season for the Skins(more on that to come). 

To conclude I need to borrow a bar from Biggie “If I got to choose a coast I got to choose the East.  I live out there So don’t go there.”   Just in case anybody wondered about my loyalties.


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