Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oregon Coast

When you cross the border into Oregon from California, something happens. You get a feeling of relaxation and restfulness, especially if you're on vacation. You'll notice the price of gas is much lower, and they pump it for you. You'll really notice there's no sales tax. None. And you'll notice that the people who live there talk to each other as if they care.

Even the parks there are clean and well cared for in other ways. We stayed in Harris Beach State Park for nine days and recommend this to singles as well as families like ours. You'll love the hot showers, the laundry facilities, the playgrounds, and walk to the ocean for great wildlife and experience the power of nature.

One thing on your list should be fishing. We found the Sporthaven Marina in Brookings Harbor to be our "hangout" where we found a charter who would take us out and we caught our limit in two hours. We caught Vermillion (orange colored fish), sea bass, rockfish, ling cod, and snapper. The fish jumped on our hooks. Seriously. We cooked and ate our fill of fish, and froze the rest and brought it home to San Diego. Nightly, we had smores and ranger education. One especially good tour by Park "Interpretive Guide" Angela was on "What's edible and what's not" in our campground.

We also visited Brookings Harbor daily for the best ice cream in Oregon, Slugs and Stones and Ice Cream Cones. No kidding. And talk to Phyllis nextdoor at the Book Dock there about summer reading choices; she recommended the Potato Peel Pie Society book which was on the mark.

If you like fresh crab, you need to see John Terebesi at Dock 'O' as he catches the best. And if you can't cook it yourself, you can bring it to the Onion Grill in town and they'll cook it for you in their special Chinese ginger flavors. The best you'll find anywhere. And the prices can't be beat either.

One special "touristy" item is to ride the Rogue River on the Mail Boats. We made our reservations in advance and arrived early for the best seating (second or third rows best) on a 104 mile river cruise. The driver takes you for a ride, literally. He spins the boat around and you will get wet. Not drenched, just comfortably refreshed. Along the way you'll see a dozen types of wildlife, including bald eagles, osprey, deer, turtles, salmon, vultures, and sometimes bear. You'll also see kayakers and some even will squirt you with their water guns. They stop for lunch in Agness and it's an all day affair.

Other things not to miss, tidepool walks on the beach, redwoods in Jedidiah National Park, Trees of Mystery south of Crescent City, and going 100 miles north of Brookings you'll find the best fresh grilled seafood ever at Portside Restaurant in Coos Bay. Drive through Coos Bay, turn left, and take the five mile drive to the beautiful gardens, sea lions, and lighthouse. It's worth it.

Let Dr. Travelbest know if you're heading up there anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Asia-China, Taiwan, Hong Kong

Top left: Hong Kong's Aberdeen Floating Junk and skyscrapers in background; top, Macau slot machine under lock; Middle, Shanghai, China 1988 street scene and bike riding in Shanghai; above, Taiwan's natural beauty; above, Tiannamen Square
China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan were all distinctively different to this traveler. China varied with Bejing, reminding me of Washington DC vs. Shanghai, resembling New York City or Berlin. Highlights included walking the Great Wall and meeting with neighbors in Shanghai who had to sneak me into their homes, lest they get reported. Taiwan was full of motorcycles and commerce, perhaps the most commercial area I've seen in all my travels. Everyone seemed to be entrepreneurial. Macau is clearly a Portuguese cultural standout. Architecture clearly European in this tiny nation. I watched Hong Kong from many angles, and saw many changes that have since taken place for this region. Worth visiting again and again. When will you make the trip to Asia? What countries will you visit when you go?

Down Under,

Upper left: Queensland train through waterfalls, Upper right, Brisbane, with Patti King McGrath; left Surfers Paradise, below, Sydney

When I'm asked, "What is your favorite place in the world?" my most common response is a question, since I have so many favorites. I rephrase, "Where would I like to return to visit, if I could go anywhere?"

The answer to that question is: Australia. Which, of course, means New Zealand, too. Anyone who's been always says they're glad they went to both countries for a rich travel experience.

Here's what I wrote to my two roommates named Nancy (yes, Nancy and Nancy), The photo on the front is a Eucalyptus, "Ghost Gum" tree seen throughout the outback or bush country. I truly enjoyed seeing this part of "down under" but I don't want to live there. It's like a mini-desert, almost Las Vegas-like. In Alice Springs, we went to the "out of place" casino.

Climbing Ayers Rock was indeed a thrill. We saw the sunset, sunrise, and many moods of the rock, then climbed over a mile to the top.

After we came down, we drank Champagne. Then I "flaked", AKA, fell asleep, on the bus ride, 6 hours, back to Alice Springs. Believe it or not, I've still got my straw hat (a Liz Burke original, later lost in Fiji).

Souvenir: Something kept as a remembrance; a memento

Went to Paddington Flea Market this morning and bought a couple of souvenirs, shirt from Bali and wool army sweater and socks (NOTE: Years later, I still wear those socks) It's cold in New Zealand, where I'll be going next. Had a spinach & cheese pie for breakfast. Was at a college party in the heart of Sydney last night. This reminds me of London because things have British names. It's bustling with 3.5 million people. Aussies are great folks. Wish I could remember some of the American jokes they told us. Seriously, they've gone out of their way to make us comfortable, as traveling at this pace is crazy.

Sydney Opera House was lovely. I really enjoyed the tour and even caught a rehearsal of the Ballet. Also we took a tour of the Harbor, saw some lovely about money. This town has the highest standard of living of anywhere I've seen. They've all got swimming pools...flying in we were all shocked. The government pays students $50 a week to go to college and gives them $2000 to $3000 to help them buy their first house. No sales tax either. It's included.
So after all these years, why would Dr. Travelbest return to the Island Nations so far away? Here's why. The pace of living on an island is just a bit slower than that of North America. They speak English, overall like American people, and the people we met were truly outstanding. Surely there are more like them still. If you are a beginning world traveler, I would highly recommend both Australia and New Zealand.