We’re here

July 20, 2009

So, we got to Portland over a week ago. It’s been good so far. Our stuff just came in on Saturday, which was annoying, but oh well.  It’s so nice to finally have chairs to sit on.

So far I’ve done the Oregon coast, the city center, a few neighborhoods, and took a trip up to Seattle.  Today we were supposed to go hiking at Mt. Hood, but now it’s a little late in the day to get started on that. So, we shall see where we go.

The coast is marvelous. We got to Hwy 101 and went south towards Newport, but we didn’t go all the way to Newport, instead we stopped in Tillamook. They have a cheese factory, Tillamook Cheese, that is very neat. You can watch the cheese being made and get free samples, even of the curd itself (which is really rubbery and gross). They also sell ice cream. So good.  I got the black cherry because the cherries are so good up here, but there were 38 flavors to choose from. Including the quite local Marionberry.

This weekend is the Oregon Brewers’ Festival, one of the largest in the nation. All Oregonian brewers, over 80 breweries featured!

Website: http://www.oregonbrewfest.com/

Date: July 23-26

Where: Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, OR


-toothpaste traveler


Gulpha Gorge at Hot Springs National Park, not worth it

July 4, 2009

It may be only $10 a night, but with a road within 100 feet and too many bright lights, it’s not worth the money. It was the worst national park campground I’ve ever slept at. It didn’t help that our neighboring campers were loud the entire night, and I do mena that.  Four daughters and their parents blabbing and hollering in deep southern accents in shrill voices all night. I went over there at 4am to tell them to be quiet.  Needless to say, today is going to be a lot of coffee.

I am excited for the Hot Springs themselves though. We are going to spend some time soaking up the spring water in the baths at Quapaw. Then it’s another 7 hour drive to Kansas.

So why the drive, and what happened to Orlando?  Well, I moved to Portland, or am actually mid-move to Portland, OR.  Bob, who is moving with me, will finally be near his favorite city, Vancouver, BC.

A note, in case you didn’t know, the National Park service is opening up many of the entrance fee charging national parks for free on certain dates this year. The June date has of course already passed. The other dates are:

July 18-19
August 15-16

For more info, check out: http://www.nps.gov/FINDAPARK/FEEFREEPARKS.HTM

-toothpaste traveler

I got published!

May 7, 2009



Check me out! 🙂

Free Pleasures Near Boston

April 1, 2009

If you are going to Boston soon, be sure to make a trip out to the MOBA (Museum of Bad Art). It has some not to be missed pieces of bad art and is also underneath a theatre, so you can make it a two for one type of trip. Best part, it’s FREE!



Airport Etiquette

March 24, 2009


The give and take of budget travel: always critical.

The give and take of budget travel: always critical.

So, as budget travelers, you most likely hate coughing up the $30 cab fee or $50 overnight parking for the airport. Sure there’s the cheap offsite parking with their online coupons, but let’s be honest, we all prefer to have someone drive us and pick us up. It’s free, hassle-free, worry-free and you have good company for the ride (hopefully).

This is why tonight I am picking up my friend from the airport. Sure she could have been polite and gotten a cab, but really, I owe so many rides from previous travels, I feel a duty to pick her up. It’s sort of like a budget traveler pride.

I guess it can be equated to couch surfing, but only with people you know. Speaking of couch surfing, I’ve not done it, has anyone tried it or hosted someone, and what was your experience?

-toothpaste traveler

Cheers or something like that

March 22, 2009

I just discovered this amazing glossary of how to say cheers in (nearly) every language. It’s somewhat of a wiki, so it may or may not be dead on, but at least it gives you a base on your travels.



-toothpaste traveler

Going to see a Shuttle Launch? Get a Room!

March 16, 2009

My new friend from work has a condo out in Titusville, FL and was kind enough to invite me and whoever I wanted to bring (within a reasonable rate) out there to watch the Wednesday night launch of the shuttle, Discovery. Unfortunately, the launch was scrubbed due to a hydrogen leak and then rescheduled to Sunday at 7:43pm.

So, my dad drove Bob and myself over to the Intercoastal, about a 45 minute drive from downtown Orlando, and we were able to park within the condo complex, which was great because parking is a real chore. It was all three of our first times watching the shuttle launch from that close. My dad was quite excited since he’s lived in Orlando his entire life and can even remember the Saturn rockets chugging along to get off the ground.

My friend proved a good host with plenty of food and alcohol and an amazing view. We were 11 miles away from the launch pad and directly across from it. Can’t really ask for much more as the layman (except to go out in a boat and watch it from the Intercoastal instead of from across it, but my friend’s boat is still in the shop).

The launch went off without a hitch right at the end of sunset, causing quite a beautiful play of light on the smoke clouds that the shuttle left behind as well as a shadow of the shuttle (see photo). I couldn’t believe how quickly the shuttle got off the ground. If I had blinked I would’ve missed the whole take off the pad part. It took what seemed like a minute or so for the sound to reach us, just 11 miles away. I didn’t feel the shock wave though, it was a pretty windy evening. The wind caused a neat effect on the smoke clouds though, causing a corkscrew in the otherwise straight line (see photo). 

Initially we were disappointed that we didn’t get to see a night launch (the original plan for Wednesday at 9:20pm), but the timing of this launch was actually quite compelling. It produces what’s called the “twilight phenomenon.” Basically what’s left in the vapor trail condenses, freezes, and expands in the less dense upper atmosphere and then reflects the sunlight, which isn’t necessarily visible at that part of the sky from the ground observer. As you can see in the photos, the sunlight is reflected and the clouds formed a corkscrew at a point.

After this we hung out for a little bit to wait out the traffic. Little did we know, you can’t wait out the traffic after an evening launch. Once we finally climbed back into my dad’s truck it was 8:50. Two hours later we had moved a whopping total of 3 miles. It took us 3 hours and 45 minutes to get back to downtown Orlando. We could’ve driven to Georgia in that amount of time!

Moral of the story: for evening launches, get a hotel room.


Twilight Phenomenon from Discovery. Photo by Terri Wilkinson

Twilight Phenomenon from Discovery. Photo by Terri Wilkinson


Discovery takes off from Kennedy Space Center. Photo by Kathy Walker

Discovery takes off from Kennedy Space Center. Photo by Kathy Walker

The booster rockets detach from the shuttle. Photo by Kathy Walker

The booster rockets detach from the shuttle. Photo by Kathy Walker

Lift Off! Photo by Kathy Walker

Lift Off! Photo by Kathy Walker










Kennedy Space Center from across the Intercoastal. Photo by Kathy Walker

Kennedy Space Center from across the Intercoastal. Photo by Kathy Walker












Twilight Phenomenon. Photo by Kathy Walker

Twilight Phenomenon. Photo by Kathy Walker


Twilight Phenomenon, 10 minutes after launch. Photo by Kathy Walker

Twilight Phenomenon, 10 minutes after launch. Photo by Kathy Walker

-toothpaste traveler

Spring Break!

March 10, 2009

A quick tip for you spring breakers heading down to Florida beaches and coasts:

Skin So Soft protects against no-see-ums, which are tiny flying insects that like to hang out near the water and generally start to bite around dusk. You can’t really see them, hence the name, and they are extremely annoying.

If you’re coming down to the mid-east coast, Daytona Beach or whatever, make sure to go down to New Smyrna Beach and check out Chases on the beach and Frozen Gold on 44. Both locally owned classics. Chases is a full-service restaurant with an assortment of foods that is right on the beach. It has a two full bars that are near the pool, in which you can enjoy your drinks and cool off. No shirt, no shoes, no problem. I suggest their coconut shrimp. Frozen Gold is an ice cream shop with delicious softserve along with some traditional ice cream. I’ve been going their since I was five or so. I like the vanilla softserve dipped in chocolate.

Shuttle launch tomorrow at 9:20pm.

-toothpaste traveler

Flight deals to Europe

March 6, 2009

Great flight deals to Europe via Continental

Also, I have plans in work for a trip to Iceland this summer. I am hoping to do some horseback riding while I’m there through the countryside. My sister is moving to Philly, so I will be going there for the first time in July for the Harry Potter 6 movie premiere. I will do a little sightseeing as well, do not fret.
I promise to get my NH trip summary up waaay late as well as some photos. It was a marvelous trip. Sorry for my absence.

One more thing: Bob and I going to the world cup in South Africa in 2010 and I’m creating a side blog that details the whole process and experience of going to the world cup–from the ticket lottery to the hooligan fans to the big 5 game in the national parks. Will keep you abreast on the link.

I have started a creative writing project in which I write an ongoing story at the rate of 50 words a day. Get your 50-word fix at 50 words a day!

-toothpaste traveler

Back from NYC and all Voted

November 4, 2008

So, I’m of course back from the Big Apple, which you can read ALL about at my recent trips page. Hopefully I can get some photos up soon. If you have any questions about the trip or places in it, just ask me!

I also voted today! Go USA!

And, tip for today, definitely look into buying airfare. There’s some great deals to Mexico and the Caribbean as well as to the Philippines.


-toothpaste traveler