Road Trip!

Hello from the “other” Washington—Washington State! After leaving Washington D.C. two weeks ago, I returned to Berkeley for a couple of weeks to finish up some work, tie up some loose ends, and gather the last of my belongings in preparation for my upcoming move to Japan. One of the major loose ends involved my car, which had to be driven back up to Washington State, where my parents live. (Leaving a car unattended on the streets of Berkeley for a year was not a viable option, in my opinion.) So, I packed up the car and made the trip up I-5!

I-5 isn’t exactly the most exciting drive in the world. Much of it is flat and straight and rather monotonous—but it’s fast and pretty easy to navigate, which makes it a good choice for people on a timeline. Luckily, we drove some of the most boring portions on the evening of our first night. One the second day, we set out from Redding and were treated to one of I-5’s prettier sections. Things start to get much more mountainous after Redding, but you also get to take in sights such as Mount Shasta:

Anyway, we really powered through the second day, reaching Portland, Oregon at about 6:30 pm. We treated ourselves to one of Portland’s many local breweries. Did you know that Portland has 46 microbrew outlets, more breweries and brewpubs per capita than any other city in the United States? Many have won nationwide and international acclaim. We chose a cute little place called Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, located in the northwest part of the city. We were fortunate enough to make it there just in time for happy hour, so we feasted on tasty and affordable snacks such as fish tacos and nachos and also partook of their beer sampler, which we found to be remarkably tasty and consistently good:

On the morning of the third day, we slowed the pace down a bit and paid a visit to Portland’s International Rose Test Garden. Founded in 1917, Portland’s International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official, continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. Its primary purpose is to serve as a testing ground for new rose varieties. It contains over 7,000 rose plants of approximately 550 varieties. Though some of the roses were definitely on their last legs, there were plenty left for us to enjoy:

I also took the opportunity to dig out my digital SLR and capture some of the beautiful blossoms up close:

After the Rose Garden, it was just a short 3-hour drive up to Seattle! We rested for a bit before wandering around downtown and taking in a bit of Pike’s Place Market and the Space Needle:

The highlight for me? Getting to hang out with my brother:

But now that I’m in Seattle, it means that I’m just a few days away from leaving the U.S.! I depart for Tokyo on Wednesday and won’t be back until at least December (and even then, I’m only back for a matter of days before returning to Tokyo again). It’s nice to be able to spend time with my family and relax a bit before heading out. Although there’s always so much to do, I’m not sure how much relaxation will actually get done. :)

Only four more days until Japan!