Annandale, VA

571 451 9230

HERBIG IDEA is a creative studio comprised of WHITNEY LYLE and SAM HERBIG. Whitney is a designer who loves to create books, packaging, and do more crafty projects in her spare time. Sam is a film electrician who loves to take photos tirelessly, while finding time on the side to create maps in various mediums (a long-standing hobby, starting with his 3-d topographical map of his hometown, Tübingen, Germany in elementary school).

Together, Whitney's big picture ideas and Sam's impeccable attention to detail, they pull prints in a print shop or set-up a makeshift photography studio. They love to generate ideas and find ways to execute them. 


We're chronicling our travels around the states on this blog. Check it out, if you're bored and sitting on an apple box (you can also check it out from home or the office).

Big Sky Country

Whitney Lea


Leaving Seattle meant we were embarking on a more rigorous leg of the trip, and what better way to start that off than with a very long drive. 486 miles long. We drove for so long that we went from lush, green, and mountainous scenery to barren and dry rocks then on to farmland and finally back to freshly growing forests and glacial mountains. We passed a town in Washington state called George. We passed fields of crops that had been labeled for people on the highway to learn about what was being farmed (SURPRISE! Potatoes...). We drove through swooping highways that ran next to rivers that were swollen to the tops of the banks with muddy water. It was like driving through a Woody Guthrie song.

Our destination was Flathead Lake, Montana. Flathead is one of those places that winds up on all these travel lists for "prettiest places in the USA" and "stops out west that you cannot miss!" and whatnot. The thing that really sealed the deal for me was this photo circulating on the internet:



Because we were scheduled (ha! we still has a schedule back then!) to make it to Montana over Memorial Day weekend, I had even booked a campsite right on the lake. It was the most expensive campsite we have had on this trip to date at a whopping $31 for the night, but it was definitely up there on the list of most gorgeous. 

Our campsite was directly on the water

Our campsite was directly on the water

On driving days (which we have deemed to be any day with a drive that is more than six hours) that also happen to be camping days the sunset is a huge factor in how much time we take on the road and how stressed we feel getting there. Luckily, the sunset at Flathead Lake was one of the latest we had seen. It was at 9:24 on May 25. Isn't that crazy? Dangerously close to the sunset times in Norway, where Sam's sister lives. To balance it out we also lost an hour as we drove back from Pacific to Mountain time, another time issue that tends to come up (as I write this we are in the Atlantic time zone, which does not even exist in the United States).

I think I'm getting used to this parfait thing

We arrived and set up camp – finally getting the chance to air out our wet tent – and even managed to start cooking before the sun went down. Kids kayaked on the Lake and rode their bikes around the camping loop. Big Arm State Park clearly seemed to be a "locals" kind of park, which tends to be a different kind when compared to all the big national parks we had seen previously. More kids and bikes and dogs. More big groups of friends hanging out. A wider spread in age. Up until this point, much if the national park attendance had been us and baby boomers that had already made it to retirement.

We stayed up late, sitting on a log and sharing a bottle of wine while looking at the lake as the stars passed above and car headlights came around a road on one of the inlets.

The morning brought a slight hangover, parfaits, and repacking the camping gear and the car. We stuck our toes in the cool water and concurred that we would definitely consider swimming if we didn't have to drive for three more hours up to a park named Glacier (brrrrr) that day. Driving while soaking wet wasn't exactly something we were interested in getting into. We were slated to explore glacier that day and wanted to use the time for that!

That's not a pot with rocks in it, people!

That's not a pot with rocks in it, people!

An important detail that shouldn't be overlooked here was that Sam and I both woke up feeling a little sore in our throats and a little stuffy, though Sam definitely felt worse than I. My current theory is that our sinuses kicked into schlime* overdrive when we went from a very humid rainforest atmosphere to a very dry mountain atmosphere. Any ENT doctors out there should definitely feel free to chime in. Us feeling bad hadn't really impacted our plans too much though. We each sucked on a cold eeze as we drove, hoping that would somehow help.

To the glaciers!

Soon we started a very high paced drive through the Montanan countryside. It sure was gorgeous. I think Sam and I both agree that it was some of the prettiest landscape we have seen on the entire trip. A big sapphire lake with rolling emerald hills rising out from it. Cherry orchards in abundance all along the way. Big fluffy and bright white clouds that might drop a little rain even when the sun was shining and the rest of the sky was blue. A huge variety of trees with new growth and many shades of green. Perfectly cared-for log houses with hunter green tin roofs. The pictures we took couldn't even start to capture the beauty we felt we were seeing, despite Sam's abilities.

We took a little detour in addition to the scenic route mainly because I think Sam was having fun with the maps and didn't have phone/internet access while I drove. It was worth it regardless because we saw a few more bald eagles eating something gross in a field and a pheasant running around, its bright red and green feathers a stark contrast to the chartreuse grasses it tried to hide in.

We arrived at the west entrance of Glacier only to learn that much of the park was still closed for the season due to snowy conditions. Luckily a ranger (seriously, rangers are your friends!) explained that we could head over to the eastern side of the park and have a better chance at seeing wildlife and doing a little hiking. We decided to stop by our hostel on the way to the other park entrance, listening to a classical music mix of cello-centric pieces that Sam had put together a few years ago. Along the way, this is what we saw:

Thomas and the gang

Thomas and the gang

See? Totally fitting.
We arrived at Brownie's Hostel and checked into our room. Yes, there is a hostel/bakery near East Glacier national park. A private room was nearly as cheap as our campsite from the night before and came with a bed and WiFi. Win-win. The building was almost 100 years old, but I think that only makes it cooler. After we chucked our stuff, we padlocked the clapboard door (feeling quite a lot like the old dudes of the west) and headed off on our steel horse with wheels to see Glacier. The drive was breathtaking. 

En route we saw tons of livestock and saw plenty of signs about open ranges, which luckily prepared us for a band of real horses that decided the grass was greener *right* on the other side, just next to the road. A few miles later two grown horses and a very very young foal were doing the same. Before I knew it (did I mention I passed out, in the napping sense, on the drive?) we had arrived! Sam seemed a little more antsy to get out of the car than I did, probably because he had been manning the gas pedal unchecked for so many miles.

Sam had a trail in mind in hopes of just gaining a bit of a vantage point and we strapped on hiking boots and winter coats and made our way to a trail head. Each of the three trailheads I had seen at this park had very clear warnings about bear activity, strongly encouraging bear spray for hiking groups with 3 or fewer people. Want to know what I was thinking when I read that?: Seriously, Glacier? Everyone knows I over worry. How can you do this to me? How can I push the warnings out of my mind and take this hike at 5pm at the end of hibernation season through bear country? Ugh. Well, I guess I'll carry these big rocks with me to defend Sam and I against grizzlies. And I'll do my best to make lots of noise since Sam won't be paying any attention at all because he'll be clicking away on his camera. How can I be a better sport than I was at Crater Lake, land of the avalanche?

Well, I can tell you I sure did try. Five minutes into the hike we were climbing over a pretty fresh patch of trees that seemed to have succumbed to a snow melt avalanche just days before. I'm talking 30+ pines using on each other all down a mountainside, though none looked to be more than ten years old. Soon we were safely above the treeline, which helps not only with avalanches, but also with bears (in my mind). We looked up at the small patches of snow on the mountains above and saw a small herd of sheep grazing. Looking out to the other peaks reminded me if my very first hike with Sam to the Tannheimer Tal in Austria in 2007. We've sure come a long way in seven years, but I'm still battling the voice of fear that runs through my brain, making me an inherently overly cautious person.

As a storm rolled in we decided to check out part of another trail we had scouted on the way in and hiked back down. The other trail was in trees (eeek) and I totally forgot to mention the duck we saw at this trailhead in the way in! It was dead. And it had its head torn cleanly from its body. Imagine the stories I was making up there! No wonder I was all cautious on our walk. Who eats just the head of a gall-dern duck?? Rather than get hung up on what kind of animal just eats a duck's head, Sam decided it was time for a photo.

"Uhm, excuse me!?"

"Uhm, excuse me!?"

At this point I was really battling my silly inner fears and the refreshing rain that was rolling in across the peaks above was helping quite a bit. Little creeks were already swelling and the rain pushed water over the edge in little rivulets. It was cool enough that it almost felt like ice rather than rain. We spent a few more minutes taking pictures and then decided to leave mainly because it was unclear that any restaurant would be open after 9, a problem we ran into repeatedly on our trip. It was already 7:30 and we were nearly an hour from town.

On the drive back we saw a female moose preparing to cross the street in front of us as we rounded a bend. Sam stopped in time and I attempted to take a photo before she disappeared, but I realized the settings were all wrong just a moment too late. Luckily Adobe Lightroom could still produce this photo of our moose after we adjusted all the settings a lot.

If a moose runs you over and no one is around to hear it...

If a moose runs you over and no one is around to hear it...

Of course that caused us to miss our turn, and as we backtracked we rounded a bend again we saw a beaver! This time I had the camera settings right, though my ability to photograph wildlife out of a car window leaves much to be desired compared to Sam who grabbed the camera as the beaver crossed the road into his side. Don't worry! We had pulled over to the shoulder already and hadn't seen another car for more then 30 minutes.

First time seeing a beaver! That sounded weird.

First time seeing a beaver! That sounded weird.

Once we got back into town we made the rounds to see if there was anywhere that could feed us. We wound up following nicely hand painted billboards to a bar outside of town that also had a kitchen that was still up and running. Phew!

At the end of the meal we went back to the hostel to work on blog posts into the wee hours of the morning. Well, Sam worked. My hands were tied as he used the computer to organize photos for the posts. Instead I read a little and made several cups of camomile tea for each of us in hopes of soothing our throats. By the time we went to bed we sure slept like angels though.

The morning brought sorer throats and a list of annoyances to deal with. Sam was such on the phone with El Paso traffic ticket people again to see if his letter had arrived. On that call he learned that the first person he spoke to had told him to address the letter to the wrong department. The ticket itself didn't have his proper name written on it and the address they had listed for Sam was incorrect because of the officer's illegible handwriting. Sam was given further instructions on how to deal with protesting the ticket, but there was a lot of back and forth.  Not long after that Skype call was finished, the transformer for the hostel blew. Luckily I had already heated the hot water with salt and lemon to gargle and help our throats. To stop the trail of not so fun stuff, we loaded the car and grabbed one of Brownie's famous cinnamon rolls before skipping town with Yellowstone a mere 7 hours away.

*schlime = mucus in German. I bet you couldn't have guessed that. There are so many words like that in German that I bet you'd be fluent by just knowing a few verbs and throwing on a German accent. E.G. schmutzig = dirty, brezel = pretzel, blumen = flowers, antibebepillen = birth control...

What do you think of Seattle?

Whitney Lea

Last call for the Northwest

I consider myself an expert at making snap judgments. I am not saying they're ever accurate. I'm just saying I'm good at being judgmental on a time crunch. Additionally, we get asked to judge what we've seen all the time while on this trip. "What did you think of Blablahsville?" "Is Such-and-such-istan really so liberal/conservative/pretty/relaxing/boring/cold/dusty?" And really, these posts are meant to record our impressions (read judgments) of a city. It can be fun, but seeing so many places has made me reevaluate my super judgey approach to travel because no place is ever one thing. Our time in Seattle was quite a pinball machine of different opinions and helped me to step back and realize that this roadtrip can't be painted in black and white (or red and blue as the case may be). I'd like to use this experience to illustrate what I mean. So let's get our snark on and make some snap judgments, shall we?

We took a nice little car ferry across the bay from Bainbridge Island to get into Seattle. We ate some of the last contents of our cooler on one of the decks while listening to two guys talk about trying to find time to cut their next record and where they wanted to tour. They definitely thought they were a big deal so we played New Yorkers by ignoring their attempts at attention pretty successfully. After that Sam tried to take some cool pictures of the Omimobile on her first voyage on this trip. My impression? Glad we took a ferry in for the novelty of it. But Seattle musicians clearly thought too highly of themselves. They get an eye roll. Seattle was Kanye.

When we arrived in Seattle proper we cut into the downtown grid just a few blocks and soon enough we were near the city market, the bustling tourist center of the city. To our slight horror we discovered our hostel was one block away from this tourism mecca. Central is good. Smack dab in the crowd is a little overwhelming. Ok, so Seattle is really touristy like Times Square, or worse yet, Macy's.

I ran up to the front desk to ask them about parking tips since there was nowhere to park on the busiest block in the city. We then found out we could park the car in a protected garage one block away for *just* $18 a day! We consulted an app to see if we could find better within a mile or so, but no dice. We had to backtrack to the "cheap" garage and it took awhile during rush hour. The traffic also rivaled Times Square. As we traced boxes on the GPS we realized how steep the hills were. Believe it or not these put San Francisco to shame! Sam just kept his foot on the gas at a few red lights because the car would roll backwards if he only used the brake. Seattle is a seriously big hill!

As we got closer to our parking garage Sam mentioned that he thought the homeless population seemed more prevalent than we had seen in other cities. A moment later I looked out the window to see a girl staggering across the street wearing a pajama tank top with disheveled hair and a hospital bracelet who was sporting the most remarkable track marks I had ever seen. And they were all over her arms. She yelled to a guy who looked like his mind was a million miles away. They both seemed lost in their own world. I shuttered and suddenly felt very sad. How could drugs, mental illness, and homelessness be so bad that they were more noticeable than in any other place I had ever been?

We parked the car, loaded ourselves up with clothes for the next two days, our overnight bags, backpacks with valuables and made our way downstairs to confirm with the garage security guys that the hostel's discount would apply. At first they closed the booth's window as Sam approached in his hoodie and started to talk to them. He tapped on the window and they looked at the two of us in a concerned and alarmed way. Did I mention we hadn't showered in two days because there weren't showers at Olympic National park? We could hear people incoherently yelling at each other around the corner, mumbling, could see them walking back and forth. Suddenly I realized the security guys thought we looked like a part of the homeless population Sam had mentioned. We walked out into the street and passed at least 10 people who seemed deeply mentally ill or deeply drug addled on the one block walk to the hostel. Seattle was totally strung out.

The grand yet surprisingly yellow "Green Tortoise"

The grand yet surprisingly yellow "Green Tortoise"

I spent a good amount of time searching for explanations and articles that would discuss the problem. The question has come up in the Seattle subreddit and the community there was generally defensive, mentioning that the problem seemed just as bad or worse in San Francisco, which was far from my impression. I did find a good article that discussed how the city is trying to address multifaceted problem of homelessness and it gave Sam and I something to turn over in our minds a bit as we were there.

We bathed so we would look brand new and then went to have a beer at Pike
Place Brewery
, home to some gorgeous beer label designs. The beer was good too! After that we headed to dinner where we brought our seafood kick to an end with mussels and salmon. Sam swung by a park on the waterfront for a few pictures and it was inhabited by people who seemed to plan to stay the night there.

"Water front"

"Water front"

I was still feeling very sad and confused about Seattle's homeless population and kept trying to understand what the heck made it this way. We went back to the hostel for a night of serious blogging. Seattle, how could I like you if you had so many people living in misery all over the place?

I wanted to see what it was that made so many people like this city and I woke up the next day determined to get away from the tourist district to see a few different neighborhoods. There is no way I would have liked New York or New Orleans if I had only spent time in Midtown or in Bourbon Street. Maybe Seattle was the same way. We took a bus to a bakery and coffee shop in Phinney Ridge and I started feeling nostalgic for Cafe Madeline, my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn. We had some tasty coffee and lots of fresh-baked carbs with sugar on top (our favorite!). The coffee thing is true. It was tasty no matter where or how we had it in Washington State.

She's excited – so, so excited!

She's excited – so, so excited!

We walked along quiet streets with nice little houses and spectacular gardens. Everyone who was coming and going seemed so happy and very distant from the intensity of Pike Street.

We decided to walk into Green Lake Park so we could make our way to Schmeltzers Sporthaus soccer store to get ourselves some world cup schwag. You see, we remembered to bring almost everything on our trip except for our Germany jerseys, which are the required uniform for fans of Die Mannschaft (in case you aren't aware, the world cup is going on and we'll still be on the road). We debated about what to do and how to properly show our team spirit. We knew that for years now the Seattle Sounders FC has had the best fan base in the MLS so we placed a safe bet that we could find a soccer store in Seattle. Luckily Schmeltzer's was perfect (and shares the surname of one of my favorite – albeit currently injured – German defenders*). When we arrived at the store a soccer game was on and Sam realized it was the champions league final! We had made sure to watch live from the beginning last year – planned our entire day around it, actually – because two German teams (and really most of the star power on the German National Team) were having a showdown for champion of commercial European soccer. This year two teams from the Spanish league were playing for the same title. We picked out some slick looking DFB (Deutscher Fußball Bund) t-shirts and hightailed it to a bar to catch the last 3/4 of the game between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Did I mention they are not only from the same country, but the same city? Yeah. That would be like the Yankees vs. Mets in the world series. We asked the young guy at Schmeltzer's if he knew of a bar nearby that would show the game. He said any of them probably would and when pressed, didn't have a favorite. I now realize that he was likely underage, so he wouldn't be able to offer a good tip. We walked down the Street, back towards the park and came across Über.The bartender was welcoming, the wall art was clever and original, and it was a fun place to catch a game. So glad to know that Seattle is a soccer city!

Likely in it's worst light

Likely in it's worst light

After the game we knew we needed two things: a stroll through the Seattle market and a nap before beginning or evening activities. The market was as crowded as you would expect on a Saturday but the produce looked beautiful and fresh. There were tables and tables of gorgeous flowers, booths of fruits and veggies, and a fresh handmade pasta booth in addition to the famous fish. I had been prepared for a market chock-full of tschochkies and was surprised to see so much fresh food. We arrived at an Italian dry goods and wine shop at one end of the market and looked for a nice bottle for the night. The clerks were so well informed on every region and type and were super helpful and friendly. I thought the market would be purely a tourist trap, but I am pleased as punch to say that isn't the case at all. If I lived in Seattle I would brave the crowds to get some of my groceries there. Seattle's tourist center still served its original purpose.

So after the aforementioned nap it was time to get our night on the town started. We walked at a lively pace to Honey Hole, which was supposed to be a bar with food. We were short on time but knew we would need to eat. Little did we know Honey Hole was having its 15th Anniversary party, complete with huge crowds, cheap craft beers, all sorts of decorations, and the highlight if it all: The Country Lips.

Colorful affair

We squeezed into a table next to a few other people and ordered our food and then remained transfixed by the band as they played. You can hear them on their website, but the live act was a few magnitudes better sounding and more entertaining to watch. They had the energy and the sound of the band at Robert's in Nashville, but the room was much, much smaller so the music wasn't as amplified and was thusly easier to hear. Seattle really did have a music scene and we didn't have to even try looking to find it!

Before we knew it, we were done eating and it was time to head to the Oddfellows building to see Bring It!, a fundraiser show for the Seattle Burlesque Hall of Fame competitive team. Sam and I are both pretty big fans of burlesque, having spent many a night in Coney Island USA for Burlesque at the Beach, the Parkside Lounge, and the Slipper Room when we lived in New York. It is definitely one of the things I will miss most about living there. We've dragged many people to shows, even my mom! Burlesque (or neo-burlesque) nowadays is closer to performance art and has really gained popularity all over the country. I've seen acts about bedbugs, Plaxico Burress, cheese, surviving cancer, the Grinch, an entire show about the Marx brothers, and a number of other things too weird to describe on this blog (I'll gladly go into it over beers though!). I think a little part of the increasing interest in neo-burlesque is due to A Wink And A Smile streaming on Netflix. A Wink And A Smile is a documentary about Miss Indigo Blue's burlesque school in Seattle, so naturally I was psyched to go to a show that she was hosting. It was in effect a fundraiser to help their burlesque team fly to Las Vegas for the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, where acts from all over the country perform and compete against each other. That meant that the performances we saw at Bring It! would be the acts that the Seattle team was doing for the competition. The show itself was really fun and it was enjoyable to compare and contrast the style of acts and even the burlesque community in Seattle vs. New York. The costumes in Seattle were of a quality beyond anything we had seen in New York. Amazingly gorgeous. The acts themselves tended to be much more tame conceptually and less about clever humor, though Ernie von Schmaltz did an interesting Lord of the Dance act and Scarlett O'Hairdye and Bolt Action did one of the best robot acts I've seen (youtube!) (and I've seen many) while managing to have subtle and well-timed humor. Beyond that, the show took itself fairly seriously. I've always loved New York's ability to laugh at itself, particularly in that community. Overall though, the show was a great way to spend our evening and Seattle's burlesque scene was more than I'd imagined. We walked back to the hostel and I felt like I had a much more varied impression of the city of Seattle.

We left the show, Whitney winking and me smiling

Our last morning was spent getting groceries for the next few days and then we went to Nollie's for a tasty breakfast and to tie up a few loose ends. Our next few days would be in Montana and we knew we wouldn't have cell phone signal or access to wifi so we called family to let them know. This is an important part of road tripping because once or twice we've come back from having no service and received concerned voicemails from loved ones. In this case my sister, Mary, was due to have my nephew over those next few days and I wanted to make sure all was well. I also started to iron out details on some freelance work that was offered a few days prior (the slow pacing of the blog posts lately has been because I was hogging the laptop to do some actual design work for this project!). After that, we strapped ourselves in for a full day of driving. Our next stop: Flathead Lake, Montana.

So, at the end of it all, there were things about Seattle that were tough to see and things that were really great. It lands on a spectrum just like anywhere else. But if this were a buzzfeed quiz what would I say about Seattle? It's Portland's strung out, yet justly self-assured, artistic older brother.

*Not exactly correct: The store is actually named "Schmetzer's Sporthaus", thus loosing the similarity to the authors darling player (red).

The Jungle Post

Samuel Herbig

The western most point of our trip!

On Thursday, we turned our backs on Portland with all its quality of life resources to head back into the wild, making our way even further up the pacific coast line. For the next two nights we had two different campgrounds in mind, one on the pacific coast (Kalaloch) and one in the rainforest (Hoh).

Both destinations were in the Olympic National Park. There were several reasons I was very excited about the opportunity to visit this area. One is, that my favorite color is green. A favorite factoid of mine is that the human eye can distinguish shades of green more easily. Another reason is that growing up I read tons of books about plants and wildlife in the different regions of the world. If I recall correctly there was a time when I had thirty three plants in my room. It's not altogether surprising then that I'd be into visiting a rainforest. 



First however we were headed for Kalaloch. It was at some point en route that we decided, for a reason that I can no longer recall, to stop at Kalaloch but to ultimately continue all the way to Hoh. 

This ended up being a good decision, though stopping over at Kaloloch provided one of the most awesome animal encounters of the trip so far. See, Kaloloch is directly situated on the coastline. It is wedged between the roadway of US-101 and the surf of the ocean. We pulled over and parked the Omimobile intent on taking a short exploratory stroll down the beach in the afternoon sun. As usual I grabbed my trusty camera and we got on the way.

Mmmm, seagull!

On the beach we found many things: sand dollars that were still fuzzy and yet to be cleaned by the water, hundreds of crab carcasses, huge pieces of driftwood, birds, shells, algae...  All those things were cool and interesting no doubt, but the thing that will stick in my mind was when I noticed a bunch of seagulls milling about in the surf. At first glance I didn't notice and a couple of the birds just seemed unusually large. I called out to Whitney, "Hey Whit, look at these big birds!" I slowly made my way closer and just as I realized it, Whitney called, "Oh my, those are two bald eagles!"

Okay, I'm outta here

Indeed right in front of us on the beach a couple of bald eagles were eating dinner (a culled seagull). Whitney and I had about 5 minutes or so, before they eventually took off. 

We walked a little further and Whitney took a few pretty cool pictures of me standing on some driftwood logs, and then I tried to take a nice one of her and it didn't turn out so well. 

We got back in the car for the final hour and a half of our drive to Hoh. We got some gas, two bundles of firewood, too. Not after long we exited the 101 and began the slow ascend up to the rainforest. The road wound it's way along the Hoh River. It's a beautiful drive going in and out of the forest as it grows thicker and thicker. Even though it was still hours until sunset it was already suspiciously dark driving between these huge spruces, firs and hemlocks.

Chief Camp Cook in Charge

Once at the campground we had to do two loops before we were able to settle on a spot. The grounds are on the bank of the Hoh River with the dense forest starting just beyond the parking lot and the visitor center. We put up the tent and got ready to make dinner as dusk was settling around us. Whitney prepared one of the best road dinners yet, with a super fresh salad (snap peas! raddishes! lettuce! pistachioes!) followed by lentils, with mixed mushrooms and a wonderful couple of links of white sausages. I mean we were eating like kings!

I'm still dreaming of those snap peas

We cleaned the dishes, put the kitchen away and then overcame our social anxieties and joined the group of roadtrippers on the next campsite over for some CAH, with wine and beer. Thinking back now, we were pretty loud and I feel a little bit bad for that, but it was a pretty rare occasion so I'll ignore my guilty conscious and remember to forgive it the next time someone is inconsiderate and chalk it up to their rare occasion. That's how this works, right?

We woke up the next morning because it was hot. It was hot in the tent, and the reason for that was the sun. At the time the sun was pretty directly above us, because it was somewhere around 10 or 11am. Uff!

Seriously one of the most beautiful campsites so far

Seriously one of the most beautiful campsites so far

We crawled out and prepared a little bit of yoghurt with granola and fresh raspberries and a cup of coffee for breakfast. 

I just want to take a quick second and get into a little issue that's been vexing us: milk. It's pretty obvious that fresh milk is not very travel worthy, because buying small quantities isn't cost effective and large quantities require constant cooling. Instead we had picked up what we thought was milk powder. We didn't read the ingredient's carefully though, so we ended up with a corn syrup product. It did make the coffee more light colored, but also made it taste like sh*t. Eventually we picked up some real milk powder which however comes with it's own set of challenges: it clumps like crazy so you have to mix it really, really, really well before you use it, but then it gets the job done, more or less. 

Back to the story: I was really excited to finally get into the rainforest, but first we took a short walk down to the Hoh. It's beautiful down by the water. The sound of the river rushing by, the leaves of the trees at the bank. The rocky river bed and the little islands in the river. Between the rocks were thousands of different miniscule little flowers in all colors and shapes and there were patches of different moss and algae. Over the constant sound of the river we could hear the many bird songs. 

We both, one by one balanced our way across a massive log to one of the islands in the river. I think we experienced that careful balancing act quite differently, because Whitney wasn't as enthused when she reached the other side. Whitney told me about how she hadn't liked gingerly crossing water over narrow pieces of wood since she was a little girl. As a cautious boy growing up I know that feeling of not getting out of your own head when you need to trust your body to it's thing. It's a tough thing, to convince yourself much less convince someone else that it's okay without "making them do it". On the other hand you know that doing it will give you that immense feeling of accomplishment and self confidence. That's a tough one. 

I'm such a great photog

I'm such a great photog

We didn't walk across the log to get back to dry land. We opted for the (in my mind anyway) much more difficult task of wading through the ice cold river. The water temperature reminded me of that one time when I was in 8th grade and we went on a class trip into the Alps and on a hike came across a lake that was directly fed by a glacier. If you wanted to mimic the temperature I'd suggest you put cold water in your bathtub and then dump four 10 lbs bags of ice cubes into it. That should about do it.

Rather than go on a hike we decided to head down to Forks (yes, that Forks). I'm a fiend for sweets and trying to get better about it, but we'd talked about ice cream the entire driver up to Hoh, so when we drove by JT's Sweet Stuffs and they advertised ice cream AND free Wi-Fi, we stopped for both. 

I guess we wanted to be fair & balanced and so we went down to La Push. Really we just thought we wanted to see the Pacific ocean one more time, but it turned out to be much more of a wildlife viewing expedition than we'd expected. We got down to La Push on the Quileute reservation and parked as close as we could get to the water. 

As noted in the Best/Worst list post, it was later determined that La Push also would be our western most point on this trip. 

At the beach we saw a good number of people who seemingly came here for a similar reason. A couple of motorcyclists, a 15 pass van of Croatian (?) lifeguards and so on. The weather was perfect . . . for Washington. It was cool and moist with a constant breeze from the ocean. The air was filled with that salty smell you get when you're at the ocean, seagulls and a haze that made it hard to see the tops of those iconic cliff islands just a couple of thousand feet of the coast. 

We strolled towards the harbor, when we noticed the commotion the fishing boats would cause as they were returning from the sea. We saw sea lions, more bald eagles, golden eagles, seagulls and more vying for the spoils being thrown overboard. I was snapping some pictures of a particularly noisy seagull, when a family stepped out of the small house behind us to wave to their father as his fishing boat returned to the harbor. I'm likely romanticizing the idea of an intact old school fishing village, but there was definitely something nice about seeing that scene. 

Coming home

Coming home

Fulfilled and with a camera chip fully filled with pictures we returned to Hoh. Whitney wanted to start on dinner, but I had to at least take a short hike in the rainforest and Whitney being the patient partner she is, relented. 

There are basically two short hikes right by the campsite and so we decided to do the shorter one. The evening was slowly creeping in as we took the twisty path through the trees. Hoh's trees were similar in scale to the Redwoods we'd seen earlier and thus created a similar impression on me. Mosses, ferns and grasses, small bushes and hulking giants of trees. We saw many birds, spiders, a deer and the tracks of what looked like an elk. It's a wonderland, and one of the few places I've been to as an adult that makes me forget that I'm a grown up. I felt small and insignificant and at the same time a part of it. 

Now, I was ready for dinner! Whitney's the chef, there's no doubt about that. I try my best to be a good helper, chopping and washing and cutting and salad saucing. In the end however it's Whitney who puts together one tasty camp meal after another. Thanks love!

After dinner we snuggled together next to a roaring campfire talking about this and that. The bottle of wine probably made it easier to dream up things we were looking forward to and to embellish the audacious adventures we conquered. Regardless it's nice to sit by a fire, even if it's just to look at the flames, there's always a fantastic quality to it. I miss doing big campfires. 

Then we went to sleep. 

Next morning we woke up earlier. It had rained overnight so our tent was completely soaked on the outside. Even before making breakfast, we broke camp, just in case it was going to start pouring again. 

Whitney came up with the best breakfast idea yet: parfait. For about 20 minutes Whitney carefully layered strawberries, yoghurt and granola into a perfect breakfast treat and because they were put together in little cups we took a lovely morning stroll through the other campsite loop.

Once back at the campsite, we cleaned our dishes and readied the car for departure. Then we headed off back into the steaming rainforest. Because it had rained all night it seemed even more vibrant this morning. It was almost as if we could watch the plants expand and grow in front of us. Being the guy with the camera(s) meant I was running buck wild taking pictures of it all trying to capture the infinite detail and spectacular variety surrounding us. I'm honestly a little disappointed with my haul, but it really was a lot more challenging getting a good shot than I had thought.

Once back from our hour long hike (some would have called it a stroll) we bid the forest farewell and turned our eyes towards Seattle. We took the long way around the north of Olympic National Park, just so we could take a ferry!

I wanted to like Portland, I really did

Samuel Herbig

Is this where the Oregon Trail ends?

The Introduction

I think I'm not lying by saying that Portland has been the subject of more conversations than any other locale we've visited on the road and I really don't think that's because it was that much more interesting or exciting than all the other places. As a matter of fact I'm sure that we visited places more interesting and engaging than Portland. 

No, the reason why Portland had remained the most talked about place on our trip is because it's likely the closest to what we would consider for a home at some point. That's important, because really to me that had always been one of the goals of the trip: of all these places that we get to see, what is it about them or who is it there that would make us want to stay long term or conversely that turns us off?

Portland is undoubtedly a mecca for us millennials. I don't think Portlandia! came out of nowhere. I'm not surprised to see the bicycle culture embraced here. The micro brew scene is alive and well here. These are all things that we deem important. A move to a more local culture, something that's more personal and I think at the end of our time here that's a lot of what we experienced here. 


Whitney's thorough research had unearthed the McMenamins company in Portland. Essentially a company in the hospitality business, McMenamins owns several hotels, bars and event spaces throughout the town. We first arrived at their White Eagle bar/hotel to a satisfyingly gray sky and intermittent drizzle. We shook off the precipitation and got our room keys downstairs from the bar keep. 

The only precipitation we ever saw, by the way

The White Eagle itself is an old live music venue, seemingly featuring as much local talent in it's heyday as it does now. The bar room is divided into a dining area and a more traditional bar area with a small band stand. After we'd dropped our bags upstairs in our room we got a quick bite there. As it's still a performance space, we were treated to some local comedy and musical talent while we ate. 

By the way, aside from the local scene, politics, and environment, we also kept an eye out for local cuisine on our trip. That's how I got to taste my first raw oysters on Key West, for example. For Whitney being married to a German and for me being one of those, that local cuisine inevitably includes local brews. Portland isn't shy about it's selection and actually has some local players that did the micro brew before it was cool.

Right now I'm speaking of the Widmer Brother's, whose brewery bar was just down the block from the White Eagle. Though their Hefeweizen is the most well known, we tried other brews of theirs. After about 32 oz. of courage we decided to walk (!) to into downtown Portland. 

I'd loosely picked out a bar, not really realizing how far away of a walk it was from Widmer's, but it really ended up being a kick starter for one of those long conversations we tend to have when we're not preoccupied with issues of the day, like planning ahead or working on the blog, for example. I guess, this particular conversation didn't necessarily have anything to do with the particular idea of moving or finding a fitting social context that we would both feel comfortable in. What we talked about was our impression of the social development of the west coast and how we compared it to the places on the east coast we were familiar with. 

I can feel the soccer coming on

We've had many of these conversations over the years. Often I feel that I walk away with new ideas about the topics we had discussed. I like being able to hear Whitney's take and often try to take them for a wheel in my brain. Until we tell our ideas to someone else they just fester in our little brain box and it's often only after a good little jolt from outside that I am able to expand and explore ideas I've been thinking about. So this is really one of those activities that I really value. Sometimes I wished we could do those discussions more often, but then I'm sure they wouldn't be as fruitful. 

The distance from Widmer's to our next stop at Bailey's Taproom was about 1.7 miles, but before long we sat down in a cozy corner with a cold beer. As an aside, this bar has probably the most beer-nerd-tastic tap list. It was basically a big monitor with a digital read out for all the tapped kegs, listing the name, ABV, origin and level of the keg. As a matter of fact you can go right to their website and see a live status of their kegs.

We rounded out our evening by hopping a few blocks over to the arcade at Ground Kontrol. Arcades and video games are not usually a part of our leisure time activities, by we were up for a different scene tonight so the pinball and DDR was. Just in case anyone was wondering, we're both laughably bad at DDR. Pinball worked a little better, we got through three, maybe for levels of Galaga. I also treated myself to one of my childhood dream arcade games "Cruis'n Exotica". I remember watching the (older) cool kids at the public pool playing the game growing up, so I was so excited to finally get my turn.

I came in 5th.

We returned home on foot once again and fell asleep quickly when we got back to the White Eagle. 


Our plans to grab breakfast and explore a new neighborhood in the morning were quickly thwarted, after we realized that the place we had earmarked had closed . . . on the pervious Friday. Ugh. Luckily, Mississippi Avenue had a couple of other options available for us and after a little wait we got to fill our stomachs after all!

It's got some dirt under the figernails

It's got some dirt under the figernails

Really part of the idea of getting breakfast out at a coffee shop had been to start on a post for El Paso. I'd been struggling to put together a post for that part of the trip for awhile and in looking for a different solution we came up with the idea of making a graphical post in the shape of a newspaper. We had planned on starting to create (writing out and drawing) the elements for our newspaper over coffee during or after breakfast, but that plan fell flat. Our eatery, Gravy, turned out to be more of a brunch place and because of the line and wait to get a table, we thought it wouldn't be fair to stay at a table after we finished. So the El Paso post would have to wait a little longer.

Instead, we returned to the White Eagle to pick up a couple of rolls of film I meant to get developed, while in civilization. We headed over to Blue Moon Camera in St. Johns. Luckily for me they did 1 hour photo for my film, and so we headed around the corner to Anna Bannanas for more fresh coffee and to get this Newspaper off the ground.

The night before we really had come up with a number of different ideas to make a more graphical post. The newspaper idea was just one of a number like the comic strip, food menu or movie script. I really hope that we find the time and creativity to make one or two more of those happen. After we had settled on the newspaper, we figured out what kind of "articles" we wanted to write and then split them up and added little doodles to break up the text. We wanted it to look a little rough, perhaps a little like a school newspaper printed and then photocopied and I think we got there mostly.

Editing the "El Passhole"

Editing the "El Passhole"

An hour later, I'm back in the Blue Moon, to pick up my film. I was pretty anxious, because this was the first time I was getting back film that I had shot on the road trip so I looked through them on the light box right then and there. Of course it's a negative, so it's a little hard to tell if the colors came out right, but the light levels seemed more or less okay. I really would have loved to get them scanned, but it's so expensive (I think around $20 a roll) and I wouldn't have been able to take the negatives with me so I decided against it. It's unfortunate though, because I'd really love to be able to show some of them off here.

Later during our Kennedy School stay, I figured out a rough workaround: I took pictures of the negatives against the laptop screen and then let Whitney work her magic in Photoshop. So if you see any pixilated images on here, that's why.

Whitney wasn't feeling so well, so I took her, the Omimobile and my two rolls of film back to the White Eagle for a nap.

According to our goal to eat locally as much as possible, we found one of Portland's touted local eateries. Whitney's a pretty good cook, but that hasn't always been the case. Over the years I've known her, she has diligently honed her skills. It's true that in the beginning there would be meals that didn't work out quite like she had imagined. Now, on the other hand, Whitney does the whole, "oookay . . . let's look what we have in the refrigerator!" style of cooking, which I find mesmerizing to watch and damn near sorcery. Overall I think I grew up eating a pretty wide variety of foods, but since I've met Whitney she's been pushing the envelope (see the Best Seafood entry on the updated list post!). It shouldn't come as complete shock then that she has also been the driving force behind the fresh and local ingredients dinner option. I'm really loving trying all these new foods, too, in the meantime. It's really the first time in a long while that I've expanded my food palate so thoroughly over a pretty short period of time and because I am a pretty conservative eater usually, that's saying something.


Suffice it to say then, that we both had a wonderful time trying new foods at the Meriwether's restaurant. Deviled Eggs with Crabmeat! Steelhead beignets! Horseradish Cream! Dungeness crab risotto! We often share entrees, both to save a little money and so we can order, say, an appetizer of something we've never had, or to allow us the luxury of a dessert. I think that often times entree's are so big anyway that I barely make it through the entire thing, and it's such a pity to waste all that food when we can't finish our plates. So this plate sharing really has been working out for us.

Fat and happy we returned "home". For a few more hours we made ourselves comfortable on the patio outside to finish the hand written aspects of the newspaper post. After photographing all the elements we'd come up with, Whitney used her photoshop magic to make it the thing you see. By the way, we really try our best to keep it pretty clean on here so the title to that post was mostly born out of frustration from the traffic ticket.


This was probably out most well organized day yet in Portland. We cleared out of our room in the White Eagle and picked our breakfast spot, Cafe du Berry, primarily on it's proximity to the Portland Aerial Tram, which I really wanted to ride so that I could get a view of the city (and maybe, just maybe to take a picture). It's kind of silly to say, but I thought I'd get a better view somehow. Still, considering that the viewing platform is essentially the 9th floor terrace of the OHSU's Kohler Pavilion it's not shabby. Also, can you really knock $4/per person?

Driving and walking around Portland we had already noticed all the flowers and roses in particular in the front yards. Our next stop at the International Rose Test Garden wasn't too much of a stretch then. I'm still not entirely sure, how it came to be the rose test garden, but it's really not important. The gardens themselves are beautifully arranged flower beds with rows upon rows of roses. We weren't there during peak bloom, but still got to enjoy many different flowers in all shapes and sizes. Additionally, the garden is built along the hillside of Arlington Heights, so that through the trees you get a lovely view of the city below. I thought a lot of my mom, who loves roses and has a few beautiful bushes of them in the yard out front of the house I grew up in. They'd fit right in here, I think.

If you think one brewery is enough for this duo, you're dead wrong my friend. Sour beers have had some sort of a revival and it's no surprise that a cutting edge place such as Portland has a brewery devoted to brewing just sour beers. Crazy, I know. This one, the Cascade Brewing Barrel House, actually came on the recommendation of our friend Julia from back in New York. I'm not a sour beer fan really, but it's about trying new things and out of the six or so sours we tried, I actually could have gotten on with at least four of them. That's definitely four more that I would have guessed, so that's good right? Right!

Remember that I mentioned that we cleared out our room at the White Eagle? Well, that's because we had reservations at another McMenamin's establishment, the Kennedy School. This was certainly a bit of a fancy place, but it was just so cool that we couldn't pass it up. Basically, it's an old elementary school converted into a hotel/resort.

Back to school

Back to school

The guest rooms were spread across a number of different wings (we stayed in the "English" wing) while the other, bigger rooms like the auditorium, the gym etc housed all sorts of amenities. There was a cigar bar, a restaurant in the cafeteria, a movie theater(!) and even a little outdoors swimming pool. For our taste we'd done (almost) enough roaming around Portland, so we were totally cool with spending the evening here, soaking in the pool and then getting a couple of drinks in the Boiler Room bar.

I'm serious: if you go to Portland, do yourself the favor and check it out. I am pretty sure you don't have to be a guest to go and walk around and it's just a neat place to hang out and grab a drink in one of the bars in the school building.

Totally worth it

To tick off one more box on the bucket list, we had made reservations at the Oregon Culinary Institute. We probably could have gone to a culinary school restaurant elsewhere, but come on, we're in Portland! The land of fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Plus, there's no way we were going to be able to afford a 4 course meal for $18 anywhere else, so what the heck, right? Since the restaurant at the Culinary Institute is a teaching environment, every aspect of the experience there is a bit like a classroom. Our hostess, servers and cooks are learning while preparing and caring for us and the other guests and because I was paying extra attention, I even picked up a trick or two for opening wine bottles. Very neat. The food was outstanding and once again, we got to try tons of different things. 

Back in the Kennedy School pool, we both agreed: Portland was worth the visit. Would we move here? Maybe and it certainly didn't seem like a crazy idea, then again . . . 

P.S.: This would go under "Wednesday", I suppose but I'll just add it here. Before leaving Portland for good the next morning, we couldn't resist checking out one of the farmers markets. We knew we weren't going to be near fresh food for a couple of days, while we were out camping so it just made sense to pick up some fresh ingredients to cook with. In retrospect, I think I should have just brought my camera along to the farmers market, it all looked so delicious. We ended up with a bag of granola, lettuce, a mixed bag of mushrooms, radishes, strawberries, raspberries, bread... And man, all of that stuff was just so friggin good!