Pacific Northwest Diaries: Part One

Travel, Uncategorized

My partner Johan and I have been on a few trips since we became a couple 7 years ago, excluding the travelling back to his home country of Sweden. However there is one theme that runs with each of these trips; one set of our family is always there. The first trip skiing to Tignes, France was subjected to a hostile take over half way through the trip by the family-in-law. The second was a vacation with the family-in-law to Tenerife for New Years. The last was a holiday to the Dominican Republic with my Mother, Stepfather, Brother & Stepbrothers (and not forgetting my brothers highly entertaining friend who stepped in last minute).

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On our most recent trip to the Dominican Republic, April 2016

While some may enjoy the company of family on holidays, I am for the most part not one of these people. I feel it may have a little (read: a lot) to do with the separation of my parents in my teenage years. I would consider myself in certain aspects of my life to be fiercely independent, highly strung and I have no desire to be treated like a child at the grand old age of 26 but the role of parent seems for most parents to never take a back seat. No, I don’t need you to schedule out my day for me. No, I don’t need you to ‘suggest’ something when you have no other intention than getting your own way. And no, If I don’t want to do anything I don’t have to.

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Skiing in Tignes! December 2012

Im sure some reading this will think this is the most rediculous issue to be hung up on especially when I have been on lovely vacations, in some cases with someone else footing the bill. But for me, the draw of a free holiday is no way near the draw of a vacation with my partner where we can make memories together, do things at our own pace and enjoy each other’s company.

And so that brings me to the point of this post. After seven long, long years of waiting finally Johan and I will be taking a trip by ourselves together. And so is born the Pacific Northwest Diaries.

While to me the idea of laying on a beach with a good audiobook and some activities scattered here and there is attractive, to Johan this is his idea of a ‘Hell on Earth’ scenario. Deciding on a trip that will satisfy his constant desire to be doing something and my love of just standing (or laying) and staring at things sounds easier than it actually has been. Costa Rica? To far, to pricey for us right now. Somewhere in Europe? Gets quite crowded in the summer and I take the view I can do the shorter Europe trips when I’m old and frail (well I’m one out of two of those things right now but that’s another post all together!).

It has long been a dream of mine to stand in a flower filled meadow and stare up at Mount Rainier. Why you may ask? Well I haven’t the foggiest to be completely honest. Maybe my infatuation with high altitude mountaineers of whom many had their starts on Mt. Rainer, or maybe because of its sheer beauty but somehow at some point in my life I knew I needed to visit. Just the sheer beauty of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) has had me awestruck for years (Twilight might have had something to do with at least this part in my teen years).

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Mount Rainier (credit: http://www.marklillyphotography.com)

When I suggested to Johan a road trip around the PNW, originally flying in and out of Seattle, he was as giddy as a flock of geese. When we finally settled on Seattle to San Francisco I was worried he might pass out from excitement. The trip encompasses everything we need as a couple going on our first -solo- adventure together. They say a couple that can build Swedish flat pack furniture together stays together but having a Swedish partner has given me an unfair advantage in that department. In my mind a couple that road trips together stays together.

I have been on two road trips of any significance in my life. The first was a Las Vegas-Yosemite-San Francisco-Los Angeles-Las Vegas gallivant when I turned twenty-one. The second was a Stockholm to this tiny little town called Adak in Northern Sweden for my undergraduate thesis on Acid Mine Drainage (note to Sweden: sort your shit out, it was appalling). Johan in fact joined me on this trip that led us close to the artic circle and I honestly am surprised I’m not in prison for murdering him.

One of my favourite animals is the moose. In Sweden there are moose and there are also reindeer. The moose to reindeer ratio is about the same but reindeer don’t give a crap about anything and will just walk on the road all day long if not disturbed. Moose however are a little more shy, a little more secretive and spend most of their time hiding away in the dense forests that cover northern Sweden. After stopping to oo and ahh over the first hundred or so reindeer, the novelty had worn off and my thoughts turned more to ‘I hope I don’t hit one of these otherwise I’m getting coal for Christmas’. On our return from Adak my dear sweet boyfriend continued to stop for each and every reindeer (I even bought him reindeer pyjamas one Christmas due to his perceived love for this animal), much to my dismay. Driving down a straight and deserted road I spot something in the distance. A large brown dot, and a smaller brown dot. I knew it instantly, we were coming up on moose.

“JOHAN!” I yelled, “Stop! Stop!”. But he kept on driving, I pleaded for him to stop but he kept on driving. The car scared the moose and its baby into the forest, never to be seen again. I sit there, camera in hand, almost in tears. My one chance to observe this beautiful creature and bloody Johan went and messed it up. Needless to say I didn’t speak to him for the rest of the twelve hour journey, but he did continue to stop for reindeer.

It’s been four years since moosegate and I’m ready to give road tripping another shot with Johan. We’re a little older, a little wiser, a little more forgiving and we definitely stop for moose now. (Johan’s comment: ‘Do we?’).

Our epic adventure begins on September 11th 2017 for 14 glorious days. Getting to that date was an adventure in itself. Originally we were looking at May 23rd, then it moved to September 24th, and then to August and back again. I really should give a shout out to the lovely Morgan at Dialaflight, despite deciding not to book with them, for pinning us down to the 11th.

So far we have booked flights and our hire car. Per person for the 14 days it works out at around £700 including local taxes and the fee for dropping the rental car off in San Francisco rather than Seattle. I found that booking these combined through British Airways worked out to be the same cost as booking flight only, we also collected an additional 3500 avios points which we spend often on short haul flights. Johan is also very excited that our return flight from San Francisco is on an A380, the monster double decker plane by airbus.

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The next task is to pin down hotels in the larger cities; Seattle, Portland and San Francisco due to the cost. We also need to figure how long we want to stay in each location. Some googlefu has reaped a lot of results for other people’s road trip itineraries that is helping with ideas and time scales. I like to plan on paper maps where I want to go and I never travel long distances without a map. Phone signal is not everywhere and phone batteries are not diamonds! They arent forever! I went ahead and picked up the Western USA, Western Canada Regional Map 585 By Michelin on amazon (see above photo) which I’ve used some page markers to indicate places we would like to go.

We have also preordered the two new lonleyplanet guides for the PNW: the travel and road trip guides. I have personally never used a lonleyplanet guide before but I have had friends and colleagues rave about them so I am prepared to give them a shot!

The Pacific Northwest Diaries: Part Two will be here in a few weeks, after some hotels are booked!

Charlotte

Vegan Tortilla Pizza [Quick&Easy]

Recipes

I would be be lying if I claimed to be the best chef in the world. I’m pretty impatient in the kitchen! The weekdays are the worst, after an hour and a half commute from my office to my home, standing over a stove for longer than 20 minutes tops is my idea of a nightmare some days.

This vegan (of course) tortilla pizza is easy to make in a rush and fills those midweek cravings with just a few ingredients! Originally I used pitta as the base but prefer the sweetness of tortilla. Precooking the vegetables reduces the risk of the tortilla burning in the oven, and don’t forgot to use a wire rack otherwise you’ll have a soggy base! Learn from my mistakes.

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Vegan Tortilla Pizza [Quick&Easy]

Equipment

  • Oven preheated to 190 Celsius
  • A wire rack
  • Frying pan

Ingredients

  • Tortillas (I normally have a bag in the freezer)
  • A splash of Oil or Water
  • Pizza Sauce (Shop bought or homemade, pasta sauce works too!)
  • A clove or two of garlic, minced
  • Veggies of your choice! I use peppers, shallots, mushrooms and sweetcorn. Prepare them as you wish
  • (Optional) Vegan pesto or cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 Celsius, it’s important!
  2. Heat a splash of oil or water in a frying pan and add all your veggies and garlic. Cook until tender over medium heat 5-10 minutes.
  3. Prepare your tortilla bases. An average size tortilla needs about 3tbsp of sauce, spoon it onto the centre of the tortilla and use the back of the spoon in a circular motion to spread it evenly.
  4. Once your veggies have cooked, spread them evenly over the tortilla. If you so desire add some dollops of vegan pesto or some vegan cheese!
  5. Bake on a wire rack for 10 minutes until the tortilla starts to slightly brown.
  6. Remove from oven and devour!

Happy eating!

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*sitting by the oven not required