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Reflecting on last year’s road trip

In just a few short days I’ll be kicking off my autumn road trip, which made me reminisce a little bit on the trip I took last year.  I wanted to cover as much of the Northwest as possible then, along with a foray into Vancouver so I could visit the same locations that many of my favorite shows were filmed at (such as the X-Files, Fringe and Psych).  Here are some of my photo highlights from that trip:

Lamp Posts in Portland

I’m pretty surprised that some of my favorite snapshots were actually taken with my older iPhone 4s, not the more powerful camera I had on hand (the Canon s95).  I guess it’s true what they say, the best camera is the one you have with you.  Here I got an unexpected result with a quick nightshot after checking in at a nearby Baskin Robbins in Portland.  (Mmmmmmmmm… ice cream…)  Somehow the lighting effect on the lens did more to capture the mood of the city at night than anything I could have done with Photoshop.

Sweeping view of valley and Moot Hood

One of my coworkers loved this photo so much he now uses it as his wallpaper.  Even then, the picture simply doesn’t do the size of Mount Hood justice here.  To the naked eye it towers like a real life Mount Olympus that threatens to engulf the entire sky.  Possibly one of the best vantage points from which you can relax and enjoy the scenery.  (Jonsrud Viewpoint)

Mount Saint Helens Under Sun

I love this picture, because it exemplifies just how easy it was to access the still active volcano, Mount Saint Helens.  How easy you ask?  I took this picture from my CAR.  Honestly, you could almost reach out and touch it from this lookout.  Only time precluded me from spending all day here.

Mount Rainier in Sepia

Mount Rainier was an oddball as far as access goes.  I picked a road that should have led me as close to its peak point as possible without having to hike it out, yet there was no lookout to be found and very little spacing where you could park the car and take pictures.  I took this one and a few others for a few short minutes, then had to FLEE back to the car to ensure nobody wound up side swiping it by accident.

Vancouver Lookout Tower and Sun

After exploring Portland and the nearby volcanoes, I shot straight north to Vancouver, which turned out to be unexpectedly more hostile than I imagined.  I’m not sure why, but the city just seemed to give off unfriendly vibes the entire time I was there.  I noted with interest that one native who commented on a review article of the city described it as a “turd surrounded by flowers.”  LOL

Still, it had its moments, especially when you visit the Lookout Tower.  I have to admit it had supremely better views of the area than its counterpart the Space Needle, but then Vancouver is more deeply nestled into the mountains, so it has something of an unfair advantage here.

Vancouver Steam Clock with red building in backdrop

Vancouver also boasts one of the only remaining steam clocks in the world, which emits a near ear piercing chime every hour.  I found it endearing though, something about watching old tech at work that had a calming effect on me.

Hot Chocolate at Seattle's Best with Duck Tour Bus in background

Seattle was my last stop and Lord I was never so happy to be back in my own country.  The city welcomed me with open arms (and hot chocolates), almost as if it knew how oppressed I had felt staying in Vancouver.

Space Needle Restaurant Lamps and Windows

It may not offer the same spectacular views of Vancouver’s Lookout Tower, but the food was notably better at the Space Needle, as well as the atmosphere.  Moody, and yet serene.  I lucked into coming here during an early lunch hour, having the Needle virtually to myself without even needing to book a reservation.  The menu is also far cheaper during these hours too.  WINNING!

Original Starbucks with Accordion Player

The original Starbucks, and somehow despite the deficiencies of my iPhone 4s, this picture came out perfectly for me.  The earthly/coffee color tones, the accordion player squeezing out a somber melody I couldn’t quite place, the old fashioned businessman sitting at the window, it felt like I had walked into art in motion.  I don’t normally take pictures of people, and yet this spur of the moment shot quickly turned out to be among my top favorites from my trip.

Despite the grueling task of driving thousands of miles on my own, there’s something about the open road that has the ability to help me reconnect with the world in a meaningful way.  I look forward to doing it again this week, as I embark on another journey to destinations unknown.

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