It has been far too long since we have updated you on our travels. We left Zig Zag Mountain Farm the first week of November and since then have been vagabonds, exploring the western coast without a care in the world. That’s not completely true, we are always concerned that we are spending too much money or that we won’t find our next farm, but overall life has been blissfully tranquil.
It’s incredible how quickly a new place can feel like home. We left our farm in the mountains sad to go, but excited for the adventure ahead. The owners of Zig Zag Mountain farm also own a hostel in downtown Portland, so our first stop was to spend a night at the Northwest Portland Hostel. This hostel is unlike any I have experienced traveling abroad. We had a private room, with a fireplace and down comforter on the bed. For this type of private room it runs around $60 / night, but if you prefer to stay in a dorm room it will only set you back $21. The hostel is located in Portland’s quietly cool Alphabet District, close enough to everything downtown Portland offers but secluded enough to feel relaxed.
Our first stop after Portland was to spend time with my Dad’s cousin, Mike, at his farm on Puget Island, Washington. We spent a restful weekend casually touring the island on our bicycles, taking the ferry to Astoria, where we educated ourselves on all things ocean at the Maritime Museum and getting to know local artists at the Tsuga Gallery in Cathlamet. At the museum, we learned what it took to be the fishing capital of the coast. Canneries filled the seaside towns, ready to process the daily catch. Most cannery workers were Chinese immigrants and were extremely efficient. An individual could clean a 40-pound salmon in 45 seconds. In a grueling 11-hour workday, this amounted to 1,700 fish cleaned per day.
Mike’s farm is a picturesque property spanning a hundred acres on the small Puget Island. It’s an hourly thrill to watch ships carefully navigate down the Columbia River and into Portland. With the right phone app, it is even possible to track the country of origin, cargo and destination of each ship that passes by the living room window.
We left Mike’s farm with the plan of heading north to Seattle, where he and Priscilla live year-round. But, Chase and I decided to take the scenic route and wound up spending the night along the stunning Oregon coast. Yes, we went south rather than north, but it was more than worth it to spend an evening in Cannon Beach. The typical cold, windy, rainy weather disappeared when we arrived and we spent our afternoon on the beach, basking in rays of the rare November sun. It seems like the more we travel, the luckier we become with finding deals on accommodations. Of course it also has something to do with the fact that it was a Sunday in November, but either way, we scored an apartment-sized room just a stone’s throw away from the beach for $75. Our lodging came complete with a full kitchen, gas fireplace and plush linens. Whenever we find a town that feels right, we start planning our future, so it may be that our next home is a farm/art gallery on the ocean, just outside of Cannon Beach. No, we haven’t yet decided how to fund our future, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming.
The next day we cruised to Seattle along the winding, coastal roads. Seattle was never a city where we imagined ourselves settling down, but after seeing it on sunny day, we have added it to our ever-expanding list. We spent our day in Seattle taking part in all of the free activities we could find, with a little help from National Geographic.
The first stop was to climb atop the old water tower in Volunteer Park to get a view of the entire city. Looking west is a panoramic view of downtown Seattle and to the east is Lake Washington. Who needs the twenty-two dollar Space Needle when there is an equally stunning view for free? The next free stop was under the Fremont Street bridge to see the famous 18 foot, one-eyed, stone troll that lurks beneath. Our sculpture tour continued at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. The nine-acre park traverses from the city center down to the Puget Sound. Sculptures line the path all the way to a remote beach, in the heart of the city. It seemed an oddly relaxing place within the bustling city. The weather was too nice to be wasted indoors, so we continued our outdoor adventure at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in the Ballard neighborhood. Chase and I cheered salmon as they climbed up the fish ladder and watched boats passing through the locks.
All of this walking built up quite an appetite and we had a few hours until we were to meet Jocelyn and Scott for dinner. The Scandinavian neighborhood of Ballard beckoned us to an oyster happy hour, beer tasting and snacking on cured meats. Yes, I tried my first raw oyster. The bartender was quite the oyster shucking professional having shucked them his entire life with his family and over 900 just last weekend. He taught us all about selecting a quality oyster and encouraged me to try the first one plain – no lemon, no sauces, just raw shellfish. I tried hard not to gag as it slipped down my throat, but I wouldn’t say it’s my new favorite food. Somehow, Chase loves the slippery little things and delighted in each bite. We indulged in Ballard and in return felt at home in the friendly neighborhood. Jocelyn and Scott live in the nearby area of Queen Anne, where they spoiled us with homemade pizza and wine. Their cozy apartment left us nostalgic for a home of our own, maybe even in Seattle.
Marisa, our Zig Zag farm friend, spent the weekend in Seattle so we gave her a ride back to Portland. Somehow, we found room in our car for another person. Her and Mick have begun to settle into their new home in Portland and cooked for us once again, crafting a coconut curry that had me begging for more. The next morning we picked up Alex, our other Zig Zag farm friend, and began an unforgettable two-week road trip throughout Oregon and California. Stay tuned!