When you travel you expect that you are going to have some problems, a flat tire, a missing credit card, maybe get lost a few times, but Pete and I had made it through the trip fairly unscathed until Portland. Portland is probably my favorite city in the US and I sticking to that, even after our experience there. The city is immersed in trees, everyone is riding their bikes, theres an independent coffee shop on every corner, the parks are amazing and all three times I have visited the sun has been shining. I don't believe all the stories about gloomy skies and rainy days. I think its just a rumor the locals spread to deter people from moving to their beloved city.

On this portion of the trip we were picking up Jesse and Nick ( Pete's sister and her husband) at the airport and driving down the coast with them to San Francisco.

We arrived the day before so we would have an extra night in the city. We got a room in a downtown hostel, and walked around.

On the way home we were discussing how safe the city felt. Women were  running outside by themselves, you don't see that a lot at ten o'clock at night in big cities. I made the comment “Out of all the cities in the US we have been to and all of Mexico, watch this be the city that our car gets broken into.” We had a good laugh out of that. Of course that  jest  came to fruition. Pete woke me the next morning to tell me that someone had stolen our bikes from our car and broke out the window to steal the front wheels for the bikes from inside the car. Pete called the insurance company and I started to clean up the glass. After a few minutes I realized that our backpacks with all our gear were gone. The bikes were one thing , but our backpacking gear another. These thieves made off pretty well and were no doubt congratulating themselves over coffee, or whatever shady derelicts do in the morning after they maliciously rob an adorable, innocent couple from a small TN town. I would spend the next day scoping out every individual on a bike to see if they were seated upon mine or Pete's. We would spend the next week remembering things that were in our packs. Luckily we were responsible enough, which is not always the deal with Pete and I, to get personal property insurance. Hopefully we will recoup the cost of most of our belongings.

We put tape over our broken window, didn't want any stray pieces of glass flying in anyone's eyes, and went to pick up the Jesse and Nick at the airport. 

Photo by  Nick Morris . Jess wondering if we are actually coming

Photo by Nick Morris. Jess wondering if we are actually coming

We went to another hostel in the Hawthorne district of Portland were we had reservations.

Photo by  Nick Morris

Photo by Nick Morris

The next day we made our way down the coast on Hwy. 101 to Oregon Dunes.

It was rainy and gloomy and the first couple hours of the trip the ocean was no where to be found. We all began to wonder... is this the right 101?....  Are we lost?...T hen we turned a corner and there was the Pacific ocean spotted with huge rocks. We were all a bit awestruck. We stopped at the first beach we could find.

 Below photos by Nick Morris

We continued down the coast to Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. 

In the morning we took a hike in the Redwoods. All I can say is that these are some big freakin trees. The forest floor was covered in ferns and the light  barely seeped  through the tree canopy. If there is such a thing as elves(which there is of course) this is were they live.

 Below photos by Nick Morris

After our hike, we drove to a hotel in Petaluma, CA which is in the middle of wine country. The next morning Pete came back to the room with some tourist brochures, one of which advertised  a small wine producing area called Lodi. Nick said something about going to Lodi and getting stuck, quoting from the CCR song Lodi. So of course we have to go  and do some wine tasting.

Ended up finding a small winery called Ripken, which had a very layed back atmosphere(they had goldfish on the counter and served M&Ms with their desert tastings). The wine wasn't to shabby either. We made it out safely, although we were pretty sure that the waitress who served us lunch was trying to confuse us into getting stuck in Lodi.

We then drove to Yosemite.  We did some hiking in Mariposa Grove, which is a sequoia grove in the southern part of Yosemite with even bigger trees.

 After our hike we decided to drive through another part of Yosemite. Pete and I   had heard that Yosemite was amazing, but we just thought “Ah its just another National Park” I think we were a bit desensitized since we had been to so many. Wow were we wrong.

 Our view from an overlook. Jesse made the comment that it looked like the cover of a fantasy novel. It certainly did, minus the castle and the flying dragon. It was like no other National Park Pete and I had seen.

Last stop, San Francisco. 

The drive down the coast was the perfect way to end our two and half months in the United States. Pete and I were a bit burned out at this point and Jess and Nick's excitement to travel wore off on us. Thanks guys for a week of awesome company and perpetual sarcasm.

Now back to Tennessee. Next stop, Bangkok, Thailand.