The Best of the Best – The First Six Months Pre-San Francisco

11 February 2012 in Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

 

Well we are approaching our six month mark on our great adventure and so we thought maybe we would do a little best of list. We’ve seen many amazing places, hiked over a hundred miles of trail, cooked and eaten some amazing food. Here are my top fives in a variety of categories. We’ll feature Lindsay’s list and see how it compares tomorrow:

PARKS:

1. Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim – Had we spent a weekend there this probably wouldn’t have made the list, but having time to properly explore the park opened my eyes to it’s hidden treasures.

2. Zion National Park – This is the Yosemite of the south and of the desert. Words cannot properly express it’s splendor and the variety within that splendor.

3. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park – We were exposed to a new level of grandeur and scale here. The mountains and the accessibility of their summits is unparalleled. Plus these parks are home to some of the largest and oldest trees on earth.

4. Redwood State and National Parks – Seeing a single old growth Redwood grove will change your life. I guarantee it.

5. Joshua Tree National Park – An over abundance of weird trees, strange cacti, and seemingly random piles of humongous boulders. In other words a jungle gym for adults with a timid rock climbing inclination.

CITIES:

1. Seattle, WA – Hills, the sound, great food, and greater people. A city of wilderness meshed with culture.

2. Portland, OR – Lindsay will most likely switch these on her list and I admittedly could be swayed. Portland was also filled with great food, easy access to nature, and a rich and diverse collection of cultures.

3. Arcata, CA – The smallest college town I’ve been to, but stocked with the right amount of dive bars and hippies.

*We didn’t visit many cities so I’m cutting this list short.

URBAN EXPERIENCES:

1. Ground Kontrol, Portland – An awesome arcade with beer and an ample amount of pinball.

2. Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle – A modest looking greenhouse with a staggering number of exotic plants.

3. Cha Cha Karaoke, Seattle – It is here I learned our friend Aaron listens to 50 Cent and can rap pretty damn good. And I still know all the words to TLC’s Waterfalls.

4. The Streets of Portland – I honestly had a lot of fun just walking around, discreet drink in hand, and people watching.

5. The Streets of Vegas – I am not a big fan of Vegas, but it is what it promises to be and for me that’s an entertaining place to watch Americans at their best (or worst). Everything is always open. Most attractions are free and so are some of the drinks if you play your cards right and pretend to play cards or the slots.

TRAILS:

1. North Kaibab Trail, North Rim, Grand Canyon – By far my favorite trail in the park. This trail eventually takes you fourteen miles to the river, but just hiking down the first one to two miles gives you the best view in the whole park. When I think of the Grand Canyon I think of this trail.

2. Observation Point, Zion – This is probably the best view I have ever encountered in all of our travels. If it weren’t for the bond I feel with the Grand Canyon this would be number one, hands down and the day we hiked this trail it was intermittently raining and foggy. But the view from roughly 6500 ft above the valley was simply amazing. My heart swells a little just thinking about it now.

3. Moro Rock Trail, Sequoia – A hundred steps or so from the parking lot takes you to the view you’d expect to get after summiting a mountain. The first time we hiked it we found ourselves standing in the clouds.

4. Mill Creek Trail, Jed Smith State Park – Lush, thick sword ferns, blankets of Redwood Sorrel interrupted by an overwhelming variety of fungi, and the massive, ancient titans, the Redwoods. There’s even a small waterfall so lined with green that it would feel at home in a tropical rainforest.

5. Hidden Canyon, Zion – With knees shaking we made our way around curving rock on a ledge no wider than a foot and a half. At points it sloped and the park installed chains to hold while we scurried around these hair raising bends. A worthwhile view, but I included it more for the experience than the view.

FOOD AT HOME:

1. Pizzas, both Fry Bread and Thick Crust – I don’t think I’ll ever bother with eating pizza made by anyone else again. Except the Harmony Bar of course.

2. Pot Luck Curries – No coconut milk. Try almond. What’s pineapple juice like? We’ll find out. Well that was good how about orange juice. We found the best curry is an experimental curry.

3. Lentil or Black Bean Burgers – Why did we ever buy these pre-made? They’re so easy and you can make them out of just about anything. Take any legume, mash it with any dry bread (croutons, crackers, saltines), and season with anything you want. Want to jazz it up even more through some cooked squash in.

4. Baked Goods – I cannot even attempt to pick a favorite when it comes to the things Lindsay’s been baking. From the savory biscuits, scones, pitas, and bagels to the cakes, strudels and sweet breads. If it weren’t for the trails I would have put on fifty pounds by now.

5. Seitan – Not any specific kind, but almost every kind. We’ve mastered the medium and are no longer limited to the gelatinous brain-like blobs (which despite my description were always very good). We know can make almost any kind of fake meat with wheat gluten.

RESTAURANTS:

1. In the Bowl, Seattle – Freakishly good. The best fake meat I’ve ever eaten served in some of the best Asian dishes I’ve ever tasted.

2. Vita Cafe, Portland – A vegetarian restaurant the likes of the Chicago Diner. A diverse collection of dishes, but the highlight was the tofu wings. Drenched in a spicy sauce, but battered and crispy underneath.

3. Vegetarian House, Portland – Standard Chinese dishes with mock meats that will make your head spin and your toes curl. If you ever get the chance to eat here get the fish.

4. Bunny and Aaron’s Kitchen of Wonder, Seattle – While this is not technically a restaurant I wanted to note the great food our friends Bunny and Aaron cooked on our last night in Seattle. The spanakopita and rice pilaf were restaurant grade delicious and the stuffed pepper appetizers still make my mouth water.

5. Chapala Cafe, Eureka – Your standard Mexican fair with more vegetarian options than you can shake a stick at.

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11 February 2012 Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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