It was 6.30am, or thereabouts, and we were on our way to the US border.
It had been a hard wake-up call – we had gone for some drinks with friends in Vancouver the night before, and at 6.12am my alarm was still on snooze. I pulled into a coffee shop for the most disappointing tea of my life before continuing down the road.
I was nervous. Nervous and tired. I’d never driven across a border before, and although I’d been through this very border before on the bus, I had no idea what to expect. I thought of the German couple from Expedition Happiness who had been denied entry to the US, and wondered if our fate would similarly change the course of our journey, but I reasoned that they had been totally unprepared (a common theme of their movie). I mentally went through all the documents I’d printed off – proof that we’d be leaving the US, proof that we were flying out of Canada. I’d even saved copies on to my phone just in case.
Our stop at border control was quick and easy, but he directed us to The Big Building for secondary questioning. To be expected.
We immediately joined the wrong queue, but were quickly directed to someone for questioning, and it was all pretty straightforward. She asked us our plans. We told her we would be driving down the coast to LA–
“Can I see where you’re staying in LA?”
That threw me off guard. I hadn’t printed anything off for our accommodation, and by some miracle, the only three places we’d even booked somewhere to stay were San Francisco, Las Vegas, and – thankfully – LA.
I scrambled for my phone, but there was no signal for internet. I told her the name (The Wig Wam Motel!) and she nodded and told me to write down the address as our port of call for the US. I panicked, because suuure I’d committed the address for a hotel to memory, but I also figure there aren’t going to be many Wig Wam motels in LA.
She doesn’t even look at the form I’ve just spent five minutes filling in, throws it on a pile, and approves our i-94 visas. Ash’s was much easier – after I’d insisted that I don’t need an ESTA, his ESTA meant that he didn’t have to fill in the form and would have saved some hassle.
It was all good anyway, and we were on our way. We were in America!
We were… oh, shit. I turned off onto the wrong road, and suddenly we were in Blaine instead of whizzing down the interstate 5.
A quick u-turn and a lot of cursing (mostly Ash to me) and we were on our way again. To Seattle!
We were just planning to have a day in Seattle, which after my last visit, I figured would be enough.
We made a bit of a cock up working out where to park, and I accidentally pulled in right next to the Space Needle, which as you can imagine is probably the most expensive place to park in the city. In fact, it’s the most we’ve spent on parking on the entire trip, including LA.
No matter; the convenience kind of made up for it. I’d read about a cool place for breakfast online – although by this point it was almost 11am – and it was about a five minute walk down the road.
I give you – the 5 Point Cafe.
This seems to be a bit of an institution in Seattle, and our wait for a table told us enough. The staff were ridiculously friendly (from the reviews, this is apparently a bit hit and miss) and seemed to be having fun doing what they were doing.
I loved the place. It was like a dive bar but for brunch (although it’s actually open 24/7).
I think my favourite part was seeing Fuck Trump stickers on the wall, within mere hours of entering the US.
Our next stop, right next to our mortgage-inducing car park, was the Museum of Pop Culture. Not only does this museum sound right up our street anyway (geek alert), but they have a Marvel exhibition on at the moment.
IT. IS. AMAZING.
THE WHOLE MUSEUM. IS. AMAZING.
You could even control Iron Man on a screen using your HANDS! SO COOL! Plus there were costumes for almost every movie character you can think of, and cabinets of rare first comics, like Captain America and even the first ever Marvel comic.
There was also a gaming room (I almost lost Ash for the rest of the day), as well as awesome permanent exhibits such as the fantasy room (lots of Game Of Thrones and even LOTR and Harry Potter artefacts, like the first ever edition print of Lord Of The Rings, holy crap you guys), the sci-fi room and my favourite: the Nirvana exhibition.
We ended up spending hours in there and I started to wonder if a day would really be enough. But as I found last time, there’s not too much to do in Seattle, and besides, the couple of things that we did miss (I really want to do that underground tour, I still haven’t been to Fremont, and OBVIOUSLY we have to go to the rubber chicken museum!), we’ll have time to do at the end of the trip before we return to Canada.
So we were content with wandering into town. I found the Seattle sign next to Bedlam coffee, and we took a walk around Pike Place market and I remembered to take a photo of the original Starbucks (last time, I went into the Reserve Roastery which in my opinion is much cooler). The weather was gorgeous again, and I found myself really warming up to the city this time.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate how glorious that guy on the right looks?
I was horrified to find that they actually clean the gum wall, and it was apparent that it had recently been cleaned, so it didn’t look particularly photogenic this time around. And yet… it looks fine in the photos! Clearly it’s just automatically photogenic.
I also managed to take some stupid photos around Pike Place, like this toilet sign.
And this absolutely fantastic cow.
In fact, the entire creamery in this little market opposite the main Pike Place market was pretty great.
By the time we got back to the car, we just about had time to do one more thing on my list: check out the view from Kerry Park.
There were two reasons I wanted to do this. One: the view is amazing.
I will point out that my Facebook post with those two photos side-by-side got more likes than my other two Seattle posts combined. Which I feel sums up how awesome my friends are!
I had been planning to go to Capitol Hill to have a drink and dinner at Highline Bar, but because we didn’t want the hassle and MORE expense of parking, we decided to do another institution of Seattle instead: Dick’s Drive-In!! (ironically about two minutes away from Highline)
We waited in line forever, while a child in front of us screamed and screamed. Eventually, they were served, and as they walked away, the kid turned to us all, bared a huge grin, and shouted “BYEEEEEE!!”
We couldn’t stop laughing. What an adorable little arsehole.
Anyway, Dick’s is alright. It filled a hole (giggity). And with burgers from $1.85, you can’t complain.
That evening, we were taking a round-about way towards Portland. Instead of driving straight down the interstate 5, we were headed to Aberdeen on a kind of pilgrimage.
After our first night of glamorous accommodation (sleeping in the car in Aberdeen’s Walmart car park!), we went to see Kurt Cobain’s childhood home as well as a memorial park, where we met an eccentric lady who had recently moved there from Utah and we subsequently got not only her own life story, but also her son’s, who we were shown a multitude of photos of.
Aberdeen, much like its Scottish counterpart, is a bit of a dump. Possibly explains a lot about Kurt.
We did see our first crazy Hallowe’en house though.
Our next stop before Portland was a piece of the Oregon coast, although we hit unlucky when the Astoria bridge was closed for the next hour. Thank God we hadn’t got there early in the morning and had to wait three hours or something.
We arrived in Cannon Beach mid-morning and it was busy as hell; I realised it was Sunday. I think we tried three car parks, getting slowly further away from the main part of the beach, before finally finding a space. Luckily, I didn’t mind walking through the town (more of a village) at all, because it’s full of cute places!
And the beach itself is stunning – I can see why it’s popular.
We took a stroll along towards Haystack Rock and walked back along the road to the car. This was somewhere we both agreed we could retire to, or take a week’s holiday in one of the cute motels along the beach. Although it was busy, it didn’t feel “touristy”; it just oozed the charm of a nice seaside town, which is something we didn’t expect to find in Oregon.
And then, with high hopes and on an empty stomach, it was time to see what all the fuss is about with Portland.