Archive | July, 2011
July 30, 2011

Travel Wishlist: Mexico

Despite living in Southern California for 18 years, I have only made it to Mexico once, when I was in middle school. We spent our summers in Oceanside, north of San Diego, and one day my mom and some of her friends decided that we should take a daytrip to Tijuana. I really don’t think that one day trip counts as visiting Mexico, though, and would like to take another trip there, particularly to see the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula and hike through the jungle. I’d like to spend some time on the coast, also, perhaps near bella sirena rocky point mexico on the Sea of Cortez. As a Mexican food aficionado, one of the things I would be looking forward to the most, of course, is partaking in authentic Mexican food, beer, and tequila. Since Mexico is also known for its miles of unspoiled, uncrowded beaches, I’d also like to go surfing down there, but I’m not sure if my surfing ability is up to the task. I hope to visit Mexico soon, perhaps over the next couple of years. It is only a short flight from Seattle (well, compared to Europe), so that definitely adds to the appeal of Mexico.

July 15, 2011

POTD: The Sonoma Coast

Here is another photo from January’s West Coast road trip, when we drove 1500 miles up the coast from Southern California to Seattle using a discount car rental we snagged online (here is a small bit of advice, though – if the rental agency gives you a Chevy HHR as your rental car, ask for a different car. It is horribly uncomfortable).

While Central California’s Big Sur seems to grab all the glory when it comes to panoramic ocean vistas in California, I think the coast of northern California is just as beautiful (and certainly far less crowded). Sonoma Coast State Beach is located just off Highway 1 approximately 80 miles north of San Francisco. If you are lucky, you may be able to spot the gray whales, harbor seals and California sea lions that live in this area. Just be careful of the cliffs and don’t enter the water unless you are a strong swimmer, as the rip current can be deadly (also, the water is incredibly cold up here).

As much as I loved this place, we didn’t spend much time here, just stopping briefly at this spot to take a few photos before continuing 100 miles northward to Fort Bragg, where we had a delicious dinner of beer and fish and chips at the North Coast Brewing Company. I would definitely like to return to the Sonoma Coast sometime in the future to explore it further.

July 4, 2011

POTD: Ferry to Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks

During last September’s trip to the Outer Banks we traveled to Ocracoke Island, a remote island that can only be reached by ferry. We didn’t originally plan on going to Ocracoke, but rather made a last-minute decision that morning, when we arrived at the end of Hatteras Island. After a series of security questions, we were assigned a lane, and then watched in amazement as an army of SUVs, cars, trucks, and motorhomes (most piloted by cross-country travelers who were no doubt carrying a good motorhome insurance policy) drove onto the ferry. I couldn’t believe how many vehicles they managed to fit on such an unassuming ferry.

After a 40 minute ride across the Hatteras Inlet, we arrived at Ocracoke Island, which runs approximately 14 miles in length and features a small village (the village of Ocracoke, population 769) on the southern end. Ocracoke is rich in history, known as Blackbeard the Pirate’s favored hang-out, and is home to the oldest operating light station in North Carolina. Interestingly, a British cemetery is also located in the village. Ocracoke is the final resting place for four British sailors who were killed in 1942 when their ship was sunk by a German u-boat operating off the coast of North Carolina.

In addition to the history that can be found throughout Ocracoke, there are also plenty of activities to partake in. We had an excellent lunch at the Creekside Cafe and then headed to the harbor, where we rented a kayak from a surf shop. We spent the rest of our day kayaking near the banks and estuaries of the island.

If you are ever in the Outer Banks, definitely make the trek down to Ocracoke (the ferry is even free). Of all the places on the East Coast, the Outer Banks is definitely the one I will miss the most!

July 1, 2011

West Coast Bound / I’ve been driving a mid sized car, I never hurt anyone, Is that a fact?

So, I’m leaving DC. Finally. After ten years of bitching and moaning about the DC area I am moving back to my beloved West Coast, specifically Seattle. And do I choose to reflect on those past ten years here, in this blog entry? No, instead I will write about gas prices and fuel economy. Once in the petroleum industry, always in the petroleum industry.

Perhaps another day I will write a reflection of my time here, but that requires actually thinking/pondering/etc, and I have far too much stuff remaining on my to-do list before leaving on July 6. I will say this, though – I am very much looking forward to returning to the West Coast lifestyle, being closer to my family (hurrah for 2.5 hour direct flights from Seattle to Palm Springs) and being within driving distance of In-N-Out (OK, it’s a ten hour drive from Seattle to the northernmost In-N-Out in Redding, but still, that’s drive-able).

As for the drive itself, I am really looking forward to it because I have never driven across the country and it is something that I have always wanted to do (Why? Who knows. A mild form of insanity, probably. Also, good food in the heartland). We are taking the route displayed in the map below, stopping to visit friends and family along the way and explore Yellowstone National Park. Our route is 3,159 miles.

View West Coast Bound in a larger map

One of the things I am not looking forward to, however, (in addition to the 12 hour drive from Missouri to Colorado…zzzz) is the amount of money I will be spending to drive across the country. My Xterra has a laughable fuel economy of 15 city/19 highway mpg so I’ll be stopping at a gas station every half hour to refill the damn thing. I used Cost2Drive to calculate how much I’ll be spending on gas and the website predicted $608.87. It will be interesting to see how closely I can stick to that number. Ideally it would be less, but my expectations are pretty low. Nevertheless, I’ll post the final amount when I arrive in Seattle and have the opportunity to pore over my credit card statement.

Now back to the packing…