Nine Hours Narita, Capsule Hotel, Narita, Japan — Wat Traimit, The Temple of the Golden Buddha, BKK, Thailand

by covagabond.

[Mural @ Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

X.SEA.4: Nine Hours Narita, Capsule Hotel, Narita, Japan — WatTraimit, The Temple of the Golden Buddha, BKK, Thailand

[The Golden Buddha. Photo Credit: covagabond]

~

My journey to islands of Thailand and the Temple of the Golden Buddha began in Anchorage Alaska. Ted Stevens International Airport is a fairly small airport compared to many hubs, however its graceful architecture and distinctly Alaskan displays make for beautiful viewing while in transit. Its shops also offer a large variety of native art, jewelry, and artifacts for souvenir hunters.

[Wat Traimit Bellfry. Photo Credit: covagabond]

After a 3 hour and 30 minute flight to Seattle Washington, prepare for a layover ranging from an hour and up, then prepare to board for your 13 hour and 20 minute flight across the Pacific to Narita, Japan.

[The Buddha and Naga. Photo Credit: covagabond]

As a less savvy vagabond, I used to book the shortest stops available in Seoul, Narita, Taipei, or wherever else I found myself laying over. This led to me, after thirty straight hours of travel, arriving at my final destination as pretty much the walking dead, only smellier.

[Sleep Capsules @ Nine Hours Narita, Japan. Photo Credit: Booking.com]

Now I look for the longest layovers I can find. This gives me the chance to book a hotel within walking distance from the terminal, catch six or seven hours sleep and a shower, and even enjoy a local walking tour and street food if I have time before continuing on.

[Nine Hours Narita. Photo Credit: Booking.com]

My favorite stop-over to date is Nine Hours Narita, in Narita, Japan. The capsule hotel, with its futuristic sleeping pods, dimly lit glow strips, and signs in dozens of languages urging respectful quiet, is a short walk from Narita’s immigration checkpoints. The walk is so short, in fact, that one needn’t even pass under open sky to reach it.

[Nine Hours Capsule. Photo Credit: Booking.com]

The compact space’s staggered berths, the upper tier reached by handrails and diminutive ladder rungs while the lower rests at floor level, feature window style, rolling shades which latch and unlatch easily.

[Nine Hours Narita. Photo Credit: Booking.com]

Claustrophobes, while probably not ultimately destined for Nine Hours due to its general design and underground location, can rest easy knowing that they are never fully enclosed if they choose to enjoy the capsule hotel’s hospitality.

[Japanese Vending Machines.]

Charging ports, rheostat lighting, and cushy foam made for an excellent night’s sleep (actual, local night by happenstance), and I awoke refreshed and ready to tackle the eastern hemisphere. After navigating the perils of friendly, foreign, automated coffee that is…

[Hotel Views From Malate, Metro Manila, Philippines. Photo Credit: covagabond]

Three to four more hours transit to Manila (the Philippines being my Southeast Asian base of operations, due to their strong culture of English as a second national language) for that first kiss of tropical sun, and the embrace of the ever present humidity before the final two and a half hour hop to reach The Kingdom.

[Suvarnabhumi, BKK, Thailand.]

Suvarnabhumi Airport is a wonder of soaring beams and brightly colored displays. For more seasoned vagabonds, the bus terminal is easy to find for your connection into Bangkok proper and beyond. Those looking for an easier route can book a taxi in advance through a provider like Nam’s Taxi Service, who I recommend wholeheartedly.

[Nam’s Taxi Service. Photo Credit: Nam’s Taxi Service]

Be prepared for traffic as Bangkok, like many Asian metropolises, has an abundance to steer through. Make sure to fully charge your devices and battery backups in flight and use the cab ride, which can range from 30 minutes to three hours depending on conditions, to edit your travel shots, update your followers, or get a bit of work done if you’re a masochist. (You are in Bangkok, so who’s to say? I don’t judge.)

[Thai Masochism. Photo Credit: Sensual Massage, Bangkok]

On my Temple trip I chose to stay in Bangkok’s district of Sukhumvit, at S Box Hotel. For my first stay I was fortunate enough to stay in a room on the 7th or 8th floor with a city view. For my second stay I was shown to a room in the underground levels, preempting windows but still presenting a cozy space with excellent amenities and wonderful breakfast.

[Color Changing Mood Lighting @ S Box Sukhumvit, BKK. Photo Credit: covagabond]

I rendezvoused with a friend at the Mad Monkey Hostel. We enjoyed a few Tigers in their snazzy, open air bar before lighting out for an evening on Koh San road’s chaotic night market.

[Photo Credit: Mad Monkey Hostels]

The following morning we met for coffee and tried our transit luck with a local tuk tuk. The beetle topped, open air cabs with their long antennae sweeping back over muddy colored carapaces resembled nothing more than the cockroaches scurrying through the gutters.

[Pro Tip: Wear a Mask. Photo Credit: Thethaiger.com]

Our driver, true to stereotype, harangued us into allowing him to first take us to a suit maker he recommended highly. I had no interest in this, but a tailored suit was on my friend’s itinerary, so we agreed and set off.

[Incense Burning at a Thai Shrine. Photo Credit: Kara Rogers]

The haberdashery was admittedly quite nice, with hundreds of suits, shirts, ties, and other sartorial accoutrements available reflecting every wavelength of the spectrum. I wandered while he was measured, declining hospitable offers to try on various wares, and waited. After a time my friend made an appointment to return, and we made our way back to our nefarious tuk tuk.

[Statute at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

“One more shop! One more shop!” the driver shouted over the din as we darted through traffic.
“No!” I hollered back, “Temple, now!”
“Just one more! Just one more!” His persistence was Ray Kroc of McDonald’s level, but my will was to persevere. Our shouting match carried on a bit longer, but I ultimately got my way by threatening to debark without paying — in the middle of the street.

[Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

In best Indiana Jones voice: “Ah, Bangkok.”

[Hanging Sculpture at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

Wat Traimit is a study in paradox. Nestled in the heart of bustling Bangkok and flocked by praying pilgrims, mediating worshippers, and gawking tourists alike, the Wat itself is an island of repose. The serenity of the golden Buddharupa statue, seated in Maravijaya repose, flanked by mythical Naga (half human, half cobra guardians of the Buddhas in the Spirit World) sculptures, and weighing 5.5 tonnes, radiates throughout the temple grounds and resonated strongly within me for the duration of my visit there.

[Museum Displays of the Buddharupa Statue’s History. Photo Credit: covagabond]

To protect it from invaders in the late 18th century, the solid gold statue was coated in a layer of stucco and colored glass to hide its luster and value, which were subsequently forgotten.

[Museum Display of the History of the Temple. Photo Credit: covagabond]
(Is this image too dark?)

After two hundred years spent languishing in an out of the way pagoda, orders to bring images of the Buddha from various temple ruins to the newly declared capital of Bangkok led to the rediscovery of this priceless cultural treasure.

[Buddharupa Statue, Seated in Maravijaya Repose. Photo Credit: covagabond]

Having been raised in an extreme, fundamentalist, splinter sect of Christianity, I was always taught that ‘ours’ was the only right and true way to live in harmony with the divine and that we were morally superior to others. This never sat well with me.

[Mural at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

Wat Traimit is one of the most spiritual places I have ever visited. Of late I’ve been musing on how to label my own religious leanings.

[Temple Shrine. Photo Credit: covagabond]

I believe that the majesty of Wat Traimit comes not from any intrinsic properties of the gold atoms of its statues, nor even from the beauty of its construction.

[Palm Leaf Naga Sculpture. Photo Credit: covagabond]

I believe that the grandeur of temple lies in the inspiration it kindles in the human heart, that yearning for that which is greater than the self, and the history it communicates to us who will in turn bequeath the world to generations to follow.

[Mural at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

I guess you could say that I worship the divinity to be found in the human condition. I believe that there are many paths to transcendence, but that all are within the realm of the human experience. The infinite reaches of the heart are where I look for holiness, and have learned that they are most oft to be found in my relationships with others.

[Floral Arrangement at Base of Buddharupa Statue. Photo Credit: covagabond]

Showing me yet another way to tap into the transcendental, Wat Traimit taught me of the universality of the human spirit, by lending its peaceful perspective to me, a non-believer, without reservation or condition.

[Statue at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

I know that it will offer the same to you, when the time comes for you and your loved ones to visit, meditate, and transcend.

[Inspiring Architecture at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

As Always,

Your covagabond.

~

[Display at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

“Do not dwell in the past, nor dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

-The Buddha

[Flowers at Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

#covagabond #travelblog #narita #anchorage #manila #seattle #bangkok #sukhumvit #buddha #buddhism #temple #thaiwat #wattraimit #goldenbuddha #tuktuk #tailor #bespokesuit #sboxhotel #ninehoursnarita #capsulehotel #layover #travel #japan #philippines #thailand #southeastasia #pacificocean #streetfood #incense #shrine #religion #humanism #spirituality #hotels #madmonkeyhostels #kohsanroad #suvarnabhumi #bkk #tourism #belief #philosophy #vagabond #airfare #alaska #washingtonstate #unhappyending

[Wat Traimit. Photo Credit: covagabond]

On Bryn Mawr’s High Hill

published by covagabond

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

X.OR.wine.2: On Bryn Mawr’s High Hill

Bryn Mawr Vineyards: 5935 Bethel Heights Rd NW, Salem, OR

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Bryn Mawr Vineyards (bryn mawr translating to ‘High Hill’ from the Welsh) in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley overlooks sweeping views of the surrounding countryside from its bucolic perch. Golden fields, evergreen farms, and twisted fence lines marking the robust quilt of rolling landscape under an azure sky greeted me as I arrived at the vineyard.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Karyn Smith, Bryn Mawr’s Hospitality Director was very generous with her time and knowledge.

“Karyn was exactly the kind of woman we needed to tell us our ideas were enthusiastically misguided,” the owners effuse, saying that she “bring[s] just the right hint of professionalism…[,] unmistakable energy, and confidence into any room she [enters].”

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Smith gave me a closer look into the passion of the Bryn Mawr family as we chatted in the new addition to their beautiful facility, the patchwork hills behind us a backdrop to her dedication.

“What separates us from [our competitors] is that [Jon and Kathy] realized early on that they were not going to be able to compete with some of our neighbors [without proactive innovation]. We have high scoring wines [among] our pinots. So do they. But they have twenty years’ establishment [history to compete with].”

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Bryn Mawr’s 40 acres, 26 of which are maintained under vine and feature pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, pinot blanc, tempranillo, and dolcetto among other varietals was started in the mid-nineties by Welsh investors, and was acquired a decade ago by current owners Kathy & Jon Lauer. The original property, now referred to as the “Jeffries Block” and the “Christus Block” were all initially pinot noir plantings.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

The Lauers and their team of experts, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Rachel Rose, Hospitality Director (and my host) Karyn Smith, and Tasting Room & Sales Director David Lauer have taken on Bryn Mawr’s lofty potential with a will, expanding and remodeling to include a spotless, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, private tasting venues, and panoramic views from an elegant great room made cozy by an inviting fireplace.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Another distinguishing characteristic of Bryn Mawr is quite ancient. During the recession of the last ice age Lake Allison (a prehistoric body of water larger than all of today’s Great Lakes combined) formed ice dams which repeatedly burst, flooding the Willamette Valley an estimated 60 or more times and depositing roughly 20 feet of soil on the valley floor and varying shallower depths atop the underlying, surrounding ridges – parts of old lava flows that form the bones of the land.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

These rich volcanic soils, along with the Willamette’s cool Van Duzer coastal winds, create ideal conditions for viticulture and have established Oregon as one of the United States’ most prized wine producing regions.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

“It was the tempranillo that actually put us on the map,” Smith told me. “From [the tempranillo] then came the dolcetto [which] is grown in the Piedmont region of Italy…. We chose the dolcetto because the [climate there] is very similar to what we have here.”

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Scores of 90+ percentile awards attest to Bryn Mawr’s success and standing as one of the foremost vintners in the AVA, and are too numerous to be detailed in this short article. Visit their website, brynmawrvineyards.com, to view their accolades.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Of course Covid-19 is impacting even the high hills of Eola-Amity, but Bryn Mawr has adopted curbside pickup and other new services for their loyal guests. Schedule an appointment and drop by for a drop of Oregon’s finest with the Bryn Mawr family atop their high hills of flavor and complexity at your leisure.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

Writing to you from Salem, OR,

Your covagabond

~

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

“Wine is the only artwork you can drink” 

– Luis Fernando Olaverri.

[Photo Credit: covagabond]

#covagabondtravelblog #salemoregon #willamettevalley #brynmawrvineyards #wine #winecountry #willamettewine #oregonwine #brynmawrwine #pinot #pinotnoir #tempranillo #dolcetto #chardonnay #pinotblanc #riesling #viticulture #vintners #redwine #rosewine #whitewine #blushwine #oldvine #awardwinningwine #winemaking #vineyard #winery #americanwine #pacificnorthwest #travel

Bridging Heritage and Legacy: Salmon Culture and Gourmet Dining on Alaska’s Ship Creek

X.AK.2: Bridging Heritage and Legacy: Salmon Culture and Gourmet Dining on Alaska’s Ship Creek

[Photo Credit: The Bait Shack, instagram.com/thebaitshack ]
[Chef Patrick Hoogerhyde (left),
and Chef Al Levinsohn (right).
Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

by covagabond.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

221 W Ship Creek Avenue, Anchorage, AK, USA:

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

From 1915 to 1923 the Alaskan Engineering Commission, charged by President Woodrow Wilson with the undertaking, sent thousands of laborers wielding spike mauls, pickaxes, and dynamite to carve rail access into Alaska’s vast interior.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Little did they know that at the same time they were quite literally laying the foundation for some of the world’s best dining… a century later.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Along the trail they encountered multitudes of obstacles in the forms of waterways, gullies, and canyons.

[Copyright: Alaska Railroad Corporation]

They solved these challenges by building hundreds upon hundreds of timber trestle bridges along the path of least resistance dictated by Alaska’s rugged landscape.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Two of these structures dating back to 1916 still stand at 221 W Ship Creek Avenue just off of Anchorage’s thriving downtown. One has been converted into a pedestrian bridge and incorporated into the network of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail system, while the other hosts Chefs Patrick Hoogerhyde and Lexa Gokey at Anchorage’s premier downtown venue, Bridge Seafood Restaurant.

[Copyright: Alaska Railroad Corporation]

Sitting on the reinforced bridge, the locally owned, farm-to-table focused restaurant boasts an open air kitchen, outdoor dining, sunlit atriums, and stunning views of Ship Creek and the Chugach Mountains beyond in addition to its innovative menu.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Raised in King Salmon, Chef Patrick grew up hunting and fishing Alaska’s majestic sweeps, where his love of cooking and serving his community would lead him to rise to the top of his industry.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Upon entry to the Bridge guests are greeted by a unique daily display of Bridge’s finest offerings on ice, and a world class hosting staff. They are then led to the starter bar, an array of seven fresh, bottomless salads, standing across from a well appointed bar featuring local brews and food-friendly wines in their spacious commons and ranging from smoked salmon farfalle to delicately minted watermelon salad, before being seated.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Sourced from Alaska’s legendary Matanuska Valley, fresh vegetables prepared to highlight and complement native flavors add complexity to the world’s finest seafood.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Rainbow sprays of cruciferous veggies, grilled potatoes, and pungent peppers nestle around Alaskan king crab, salmon, halibut, and perfectly grilled steaks, creating colorful entrees whose presentations are as much art as they are nourishment.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

However, community means more than just local rhubarb to the Bridge family. Alongside Zonta International, the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, Bean’s Cafe (a local community kitchen providing meals to the needy in downtown Anchorage), and dozens of others, Bridge Seafood has spearheaded efforts that have raised millions of dollars to benefit those around them.

[Photo Credit: Lexa Gokey]

“I think that the only way to make a community better … is by being part of the solution,” Head Chef Lexa told me during our interview. “[Chef] Patrick started the Zonta program with the Yellow Rose Foundation,” she continued. “[They’ve raised] over $100k in scholarships for local girls that are going to college here in Alaska.”

Hailing from Roseburg, OR, Gokey has been with Bridge for six years.
“I really like what we do [here]. I like that during the catering season we get a chance to exercise our [culinary] creativity.”

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Ship Creek boasts a tidal flux of approximately thirty feet (the second highest in the world) and is home to several of Alaska’s salmon runs.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Salmon hatch far upstream in freshwater before migrating to the open ocean, yet they unerringly return to their own birthplace to spawn.

[Photo Credit: Redoubt Lodge,
https://www.redoubtlodge.com/
Grizzly tours, fishing and much more.]

This makes Alaska’s fishing industry a key pioneer in sustainable practices as they husband Alaska’s pristine waterways and resources for future generations.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

“The restaurant [is] very much about supporting local businesses and supporting the environment. I think that that’s a really great thing and it speaks to me personally,” Gokey told me, her warmth and passion for her art and community easy to see.

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

For those vagabonds who like a more hands-on approach to Alaskan seafood, The Bait Shack (Bridge’s next door neighbor and partner-in-crime) is waiting. The full service fishing stop is ready to outfit anyone and everyone who can hold a fishing pole, providing everything from license and waders to rod and reel. The yearly King Salmon Derby is always good fun.

[Photo Credit: The Bait Shack, instagram.com/thebaitshack ]

Be prepared to abandon your seat to watch anglers from around the world reel in 30, 40, and even 50 pound specimens through the picture windows or from the shade of deck dining. Or gear up after dessert and ply the waters for your own next big catch.

[Photo Credit: The Bait Shack, instagram.com/thebaitshack ]

After the kings have come and gone between late May and mid July, the coho (or silver, depending on who you ask) salmon make their run from mid-to-late July through the end of September.

[Photo Credit: The Bait Shack, instagram.com/thebaitshack ]

Ship Creek’s history is a beautiful part of Alaska’s profile, and holds valuable lessons for those looking to its future. Visit May through August in order to take advantage of Bridge’s Restaurant Season, and year round to enjoy their catering. Then drop by The Bait Shack for all your fishing needs while enjoying the world’s only urban King Salmon Fishery.

[Photo Credit: The Anchorage Daily News]

Writing to you from Anchorage, AK

As always,

Your covagabond.

~

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.”

-Lao Tzu

[Photo Credit: wildsalmoncenter.org ]

~

#covagabondtravelblog #bridgeseafoodrestaurant #thebaitshack #anchorage #alaska #fishing #kingsalmon #cohosalmon #silversalmon #redoubtlodge #chinooksalmon #sockeyesalmon #redsalmon #grilledsalmon #halibut #rockfish #kingcrab #localbusiness #alaskarailroad #arrc #catering #restaurants #beer #wine #oysters #ribeye #shipcreek #slamminsalmonderby #chugachmountains #cookinlet #knikarm #chefpatrickhoogerhyde #cheflexagokey #salmonfishing #alaskansalmon #alaskanhalibut #alaskanrockfish #timbertrestlebridge #railroadhistory #alaskahistory #anchoragehistory #alaskarailroadcorporation #1916 #zonta #redcross #americancancersociety #beanscafe #pedestrianbridge #historicphoto #historicphotos #locomotive #train #railroad #dining #winepairing #steak #crab #surfandturf

[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]
[A young Hoogerhyde in its natural habitat… Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant & Catering]

Along Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Anchorage, AK, USA

by covagabond.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

“X.AK.1: Along Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Anchorage, AK, USA

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Twisting through lush wetlands, rocky beaches, and cool forests, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail along Anchorage, Alaska’s downtown shoreline is a beautiful destination for any vagabond with wanderlust.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Whisked auklets, foxes, and even moose are frequent visitors to the paved trail. One of my first experiences on the coastal trail came as I was riding my bicycle one evening.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

The lingering twilight of Alaskan summer painted rich purples and oranges as I sped through thickets and around curves.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Suddenly a cow moose trotted onto the trail a mere twenty feet ahead of me, and paced me for a good hundred yards (always staying ahead), before plunging back into the woods on the opposite side. Fortunately she appeared to have no calves with her, as that is when moose are at their most dangerous, but my heart was pounding nonetheless.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

A remote correspondent and good friend of mine from Serbia, Nikola Bobic, in Anchorage for summer work as part of the J-1 student visa program, related a story in which he’d drunkenly approached a moose in an ill-advised attempt to pet it.
“It was cute,” he laughed off the near death experience, his slavic accent lilting with mirth. (Please do not attempt.)

[Photo Credit: Nikola Bobic, edited by covagabond]

Your excursion is best started downtown at 5th & H Street’s sun. This huge golden hemisphere is the scale model launching point of Anchorage Planet Walk.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Along the trail at accurately scaled distances, each of the planets is presented in succession. I’m unsure whether Pluto’s literature has been updated to reflect its new status, as it’s been a while since I traversed the entire solar system walk. You’ll have to comment and let me know.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Winding along, the southerly portion of the trail descends from downtown through Westchester Lagoon’s wetland basin before emerging onto the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet’s waterline. Driftwood, sea glass, and other tidal leavings dot the shore.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

An active destination, be prepared to navigate everyone from training triathletes to flocks of helmeted children on bicycles on field trips to Earthquake Park.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

The broken terrain is a souvenir from Anchorage’s 1964 quake which shifted portions of land hundreds of feet laterally and dropping some areas twenty feet or more.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Beyond the detritus of Earthquake Park’s crags lies Point Woronzof, a park on an extended point of shore with a 270° view, where humpback whales can be spotted breaching, and pods of orcas cruise the bio rich waters.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Turning south the 11 mile trail terminates in Kincaid Park, where even more moose, and other furry friends like black bears, are to be found.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

So exercise appropriate caution in this 1,500 acre moraine while enjoying its sprawling trail system and views of Denali. You’ll even find a world class disc golf course.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Heading the other direction from the sun, follow F Street west from downtown toward further trail access at Bridge Seafood Restaurant on Ship Creek.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Just off of Anchorage’s bustling downtown, Ship Creek winds under historic timber trestle railroad bridges and is home to several runs of salmon species.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

It’s huge tidal flux can be witnessed daily, evidenced by languid, 50 pound king salmon cruising mere feet underfoot at high tide.

Bridge Seafood Restaurant
[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant]

Bridge Seafood Restaurant, home of Chefs Patrick Hoogerhyde and Lexa Gokey, actually spans the creek, resting atop one of the historic railroad bridges.

Chef Patrick and Chef Al, owners.
[Photo Credit: Bridge Seafood Restaurant]

Chef Lexa Gokey.
[Photo Credit: Lexa Gokey]

Guests can see the original railroad ties where they’ve been incorporated into the interior of Bridge’s modern architecture while enjoying fresh, local fare.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Heading along the Coastal Trail to the northeast, the sharp Chugach Range frames downtown views as the trail heads for its 2nd Avenue terminus, returning vagabonds to downtown to continue their arctic explorations.

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

As always,

Your covagabond.

~

“All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power.”

-Lao Tzu

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

#covagabondtravelblog #anchoragealaska #anchorage #alaska #tonyknowlescoastaltrail #coastaltrail #humpbackwhale #orca #moose #blackbear #wetlands #alaskanwildlife #bridgeseafoodrestaurant #bridgeseafoodcatering #chefpatrickhoogerhyde #cheflexajoy #salmon #halibut #blackcod #kingcrab #ribeye #crablegs #hiking #walking #jogging #cycling #trailrunning #parks #cookinlet #sleepinglady #knikarm #chugachrange #restaurants #beaches #arctic

[Photo Credit: John Tracy, edited by covagabond]

Big Flavor in Willamette’s Little Norway

X.OR.wine.1: Big Flavor in Willamette’s Little Norway

by covagabond

Stangeland Vineyards & Winery

8500 Hopewell RD NW, Salem, OR

Larry David Miller of Salem, OR had no plans to start a vineyard when he first planted grapes in 1978, but his grandparents from Stavanger, Norway would recognize the name of his unintended winery, Stangeland, meaning “strong land”.

Little did the now 73 year old founder know that what he’d just done, namely planting pinot noir on the west slopes of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, would change his life forever – taking him to his ancestral Norwegian home, to Swiss wine competitions where he would be awarded three gold medals, and beyond.

I came to be in wine country quite unintentionally, my only known destination on departure being “the Oregon coast”. When I mentioned my Pacific northwest whereabouts to my fantastic sister, she immediately effused about the beauty of the region, having spent time living here herself, and started me on my quest for good grapes.

I googled the vintner nearest me, and lit out for adventure. My drive culminated in a beautifully cultivated lane passing the owner’s home and leading me to Stangeland Vineyards and Winery itself, tucked back behind chairs and tables sitting on a large shaded porch.

Of course, Stangeland is currently closed to the public due to the current health orders, but has curbside and other options available for their loyal customers. Upon arrival I was greeted by the lonely signs telling me such.

I was still hoping to take some photos of the property when Larry, coffee cup in hand, walked over to greet me warmly, inviting me to sit with him and an associate of his on the porch. There over my McDonald’s one black coffee befitting John Mulaney’s father, sat and I listened. Larry received his degree in analytical chemistry from Oregon State University, and his primary interest in viticulture grew from a cultivation standpoint.

“I was interested in the growing of the grapes,” he chuckled, “I didn’t really mean to start a winery.”

Planting what would become Stangeland’s vineyard came as the result of a chance meeting with David Lett in Eyrie Vineyards in 1974.  Known as “Papa Pinot” by industry members in the Willamette Valley, Lett’s example provided inspiration. The plot was purchased in 1971 by Miller’s parents, school teachers, who bought the bare land for a mere $6500, and the initial lure to planting grapes was as a way to get a property tax break.

After rooting vines for two years in his sister’s garden, Larry transplanted 1500 survivors, about half of his crop, into his two acre plot in the Eola-Amity Hills in 1978. His first batches in ’85 and ’86, not yet ready for retail, were bottled and shared among family and friends.

“[Then] somebody hits you with a two by four and says, ‘Hey Larry why don’t you start a winery?'”

It would be after additions and expansions, bringing in other locally sourced grapes and refining his processes and flavor complexity that his wine would hit the shelves in ’93 and Stangeland would begin receiving international recognition.

“In 2000  I entered the Mondal du Pinot Noir in Sierre, Switzerland, with a [1998] Estate Reserve Pinot. Lo and behold we got a gold [medal].”

Out of nearly 800 entries from approximately 15 countries, Stangeland surprised and delighted, ushering in a new millennium of success for the Willamette pioneer.

Stangeland produces about 70% pinot noir, with chardonnay and other varieties making up the remainder of its yield. The Van Duzer breezes pour through a low gap of the same name in the coastal range, promoting acidity in the fruit by maintaining cold nights, while the bracing afternoon sun bathes the south facing slopes of volcanic soil in golden warmth.

Larry did tell me that before the root structures penetrated down to the underlying rock that the grapes were more robust, but his accolades, three gold and four silver medals, belie any deterioration of quality in the terroir.

All in all my visit with Mr. Miller was a delight. He invited me to wander his rows, and photograph to my heart’s content.

I was well rewarded. Since I was driving I didn’t taste any wines at Stangeland, but urge you to drop by for a glass with Larry next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Writing to you from Salem, OR,

As always,

Your covagabond

#covagabondtravelblog #travel #wine #stangelandvineyardandwinery #pinotnoir #mondaldupinotnoir #switzerland #stavangernorway #chardonnay #eolaamityhillsava #willamettevalley #oregon #oregonwine #pacificnorthwest #viticulture #winery #locallyowned #localbusiness #winetasting #goldmedal #silvermedal #winebarrel #vintner #winemaking

(Legit) Massage in Sukhumvit, BKK, Thailand

[Note: I have very few, if any, personal photos of the businesses discussed in this article. In addition to my own photographs of the general locations discussed, and as this is currently a non-profit publication, I am including images of the businesses under discussion from Google, under fair use domain, and will merge a credit into each photo so used. I am happy to remove any copyrighted material at the owner’s request. Contact me at covagabond.travel.blog@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.]

X.SEA.3: (Legit) Massage in Sukhumvit, BKK

Sukhumvit Soi 32, Bangkok, Thailand, Earth.

Preview from an upcoming article on the Temple of the Golden Buddha in Bangkok.
Same bat-covagabond, same bat-travelblog!💥🤙

I believe in eastern healing practices like yoga, meditation, and massage. However, with a reputation like Thailand’s, well known for its red light districts and beach, party towns, I decided to do a little research before heading out to the nearest shop.

The reputation is well deserved, because passing parlors with names like “Love Teen Massage”, “Dream Heaven Massage”, and “Bangkok Passion” with their ladies lounging in various states of dishabille and calling invitingly to passersby left little to the imagination as I walked to the Asian Herb Association Sawadee Shop. I’d found it on a suitably indignant discussion board about the Sukhumvit pay-for-play scene, and where to find upstanding alternatives for discerning vagabonds.

Mamasans with eye-opening menus try to lure passing vagabonds onto their premises with promises astonishing to western ears.

Upon arrival at Sawasdee I was invited to sign up for a membership, which I did. The card is safely stored for future visits. After signing in I was led through the beautifully appointed spa interior to a dimly lit room, where I was left to change into traditional Thai massage wear, typically ¾ length trousers (for Farang expats, at least) and a loose buttoned shirt like pajamas. I laid down and was soon greeted by a wizened woman who looked all of 4’9″. We exchanged pleasantries, I told her I liked deep pressure (which is true), and she began.

The torture session that followed was exquisite. No sarcasm or humor intended. It was torture. I love deep tissue massage for its healing properties. It hurts like hell when done properly, and Miss 4’9″ was an expert. “Assisted yoga” they call it. “Entry level BDSM pain and complete denial session,” sounds a little closer to me, but tomato tomato. (That’s a fun aphorism to use in text.) I’d opted for a combo, Thai/oil session, so after the precise destruction of every cellular pocket of lactic acid and dignity in my body by 80-pound sexagenarian, we began the oil half.

For any delusional hopefuls out there, take no comfort from the world oil. Instead, understand that there are non-slippery pains, and there are slippery pains. This is simply the latter. The crushed and mutilated remnants of my soul were soon to learn that reducing the coefficient of static friction on my body to effectively zero meant unobstructed access for miniature vices of hands and feet to milk any remaining pride from the mangled corpse I’d opted to become. It was lovely. Earlier I mentioned meditation, and one of the practices I’ve cultivated over the years is breath control. Deep, intentional breathing calms the body and increases the pain tolerance, as well as permitting deeper relaxation of connective tissue. Focusing on deep exhalations and deflating your body as fully as is possible is highly beneficial, especially when under the care of a certified therapist.

I often say that a good massage hurts during, and feels good after. Asian Herb Association Sawadee proved this yet again. My whipcord, driftwood therapist had broken my body down into its essential components, and reassembled me into a younger, taller (ever so slightly), and greatly pain reduced version of myself. If this avenue of self care may be new or uncomfortable to some, here are some general tips to ensuring you have a good, legitimate massage experience. Avoid places that are open late. More so in the states, being open until 10 or later is often a characteristic of shops that focus less on therapeutic practices, especially true of Asian massage providers in the US.

Avoid cash only places, places with table showers, and places that look lived-in. Women are often lured or coerced into coming to the states to work, only to find themselves living 24/7 in thinly veiled, quite literally at times, brothels “giving massages” for 18 hours a day while being shuttled from city to city on a circuit with thousands of other undocumented sex workers being trafficked in similar fashion.

Legit Thai massage with Pom in Anchorage, AK.
Spotlight piece to follow.
Same bat-covagabond, same bat-travelblog!
🖖💥

However, I have found legitimate eastern practice in the states. I will do a full article on her practice soon, but for now I can tell you that she is a classically trained Thai masseuse, and she changed my life for the better the moment we met. Due to her ministrations and that of another LMT I’ll showcase in the Intermountain West, who I’ve  learned a great deal from, I haven’t been to a chiropractor or experienced lasting pain in years.

Pom Suwanphoom:
Photo Credit – Pom Suwanphoom

When it comes to getting undressed, if you’re uncomfortable being naked, that’s okay. Bring an extra pair of, whatever rocks your, whatever again… and keep them on for the duration. Just remember a reusable bag to carry them home in, as they’ll probably have oil on them. The key to a good massage is communication. The therapist must rely on clear feedback from the patient, so that no damage is done, and also to maximize the effectiveness of the allotted treatment time. There are times when i’ll say something as specific as, “I need you to reduce the pressure on your left index finger ever so slightly,” as the underside of the gleno-humeral joint is being pinpointed; others when I’ll say, “Oh sweet f#%&ing b(_=* c>&%÷…”. You get the idea. But your therapist is a practitioner, not a clairvoyant, so don’t be shy. (Sorry shy peeps.🤷‍♂️)

Other than that, in Thailand look for Traditional uniforms, older therapists, and open, visible massage spaces, and you’ll usually be safe. If you find yourself being led up three flights of stairs past any sort of communal area, you’ll know you’ve strayed into the beaten path. Turn back, but know that the occasional happy opportunity may present itself to the unwary traveler.

As always,

Your covagabond

~

“Health is the greatest possession.” -Lao Tzu

#covagabondtravelblog #bangkok #thailand #massage #noneroticmassage #thaimassage #oilmassage #traditionalmassage #sukhumvitsoi33 #easternmedicine #wellness #assistedyoga #stretching #suvarnabhumi #sukhumvit #asianherbalassociationsawasdeemassage #sexwork #thaimasseuse #deeptissue #travel #pattaya #chonburi #massagespa #spa #massageparlor #asianmassage

Hiking in Tayabas, Quezon PR, Philippines

Hiking in Tayabas, Quezon PR, Luzon, Philippines

Making your way round psychedelic jeepnies, cycle-pedicabs, and the ubiquitous motorized tricycle cabs that dot Luzon’s highways southeast of Metro Manila en route from Ninoy Aquinos International Airport to Tayabas City, jungle vistas present themselves as you wind through the villages, towns, and cities nestled amongst volcanic peaks and balmy bays on the largest of the Philippines 7,000+ tropical islands.

Debark the aircon equipped, wifi providing JACLiner bus at the Calumpang Jollibee, cross the street to the waiting tricycle, and haggle over your fare.

To be honest, I’m usually so blitzed by thirty consecutive hours of travel at this point that I don’t mind making a driver’s day, and don’t bother negotiating at all.

Pass by the Roman Catholic Cemetery that marks the true beginning of town proper, and tell yourself that once you’ve settled back into local rhythms you’ll start keeping a better eye on your pocketbook. This is the last terrible travel scalping you’ll endure for the foreseeable future. (Minor ones are an ongoing reality…)

When not stranded by Taal rumblings and pandemic shutdowns, I live most of my year in little Tayabas City, “lambanog (a strong local coconut liquor) capital of the Philippines”, in Quezon Province on the island of Luzon.

On the slopes of Mount Banahaw, Tayabas’s agricultural barangays (local districts similar to neighborhoods, each with active local government) spread into rainforest clearings and winding footpaths.

Two beautiful locations I’ll share with you today are Barangay Calantas, and Barangay Pook. They are nearly equidistant from my home base in Munting Bayan (roughly “Little Downtown”), and each within healthy warm-up distance.

Before you head out, make sure to stop at the Palengke (the local, open air market) for supplies like bottled water, fruits, and hot snacks like quek quek (skewers of deep fried quail eggs), and shawarma from a variety of food trucks nearby.

North of Tayabas proper one turns uphill in Barangay Malaoa to begin a walk of roughly two and a half miles to reach Barangay Calantas, where road access for vehicles ceases, and horses and carabao share the rough path leading farther up the mountain.

Small sari-sari stores, catch all convenience shops run from heavily gated shacks, dot the road where local residents recline in the shade, often offering lambanog shots to passing Americanos.

The path becomes quite steep at times, and moisture on rock can lead to slick conditions, prepare to get a little dirty.

However, it opens on rolling terraces, rice fields fanning under the sun, and spiky pineapple plantations abutting the trail, with the majority of the incline being pleasantly manageable.

Make sure to remember your sun protection. This vagabond recommends long sleeves and trousers, with synthetic moisture wicking recommended. A wide brimmed hat and close toed (I recommend waterproof) shoes or boots, in addition to sunscreen will keep you in the shade.

Pack plenty of water and some snacks that don’t melt, and enjoy the elevation gains.

In south central Tayabas one heads south from the intersection on the downhill side of 7-11, winding down through neighborhood streets until being greeted by a large bridge. A side path forks left to smaller foot access below the vehicle causeway, and is my preference.

The barangay borders and its current officers are declared by electric blue signs greet entering vagabonds, overlooking a winding river and bridge leading to the far shore and a slight uphill climb.

Shades, concrete shelters by roadsides offer respite from rain, and are posted with various bills. I often stop to write notes and drink in the cool of these cozy nooks.

Rushing river melodies murmur around the vibrant signposts and shade, the current lively and dappled in sun under the bridge.

Lush jungle hems the path at points, but opens onto glass smooth rice paddies falling away to dark, middle distance tree lines.

Very little incline challenge is to be found in Pook.

The path rolls through fields and around tiny homes where chickens cluck and dogs run underfoot of friendly locals with their ubiquitous queries of, “Hey Joe! Where are you going Joe?” It’s a standard nickname for any traveler of obviously western European descent.

Fallen bamboo.

I generally choose Barangay Pook for evening walks. Its east facing views are shaded by the early, lingering twilight of Mt. Banahaw.

The cool evening breezes play over the standing water of the rice paddies, and keep most of the mosquitoes at bay.

The trail does become quite narrow at tines, but I’ve never followed it to an end or T-junction. My miniature hiking appetite is easily sated. I might go three miles beyond the initial river crossing before turning back. Perhaps less.

Find some street lumpia and pancit, and finish your evening off with Red Horse.

As always, your covagabond.

~

“Be Still like a Mountain, and Flow like a Great River.” -Lao Tzu

#covagabondtravelblog #philippines #manila #quezon #cityoftayabas #lucena #luzon #mountbanahaw #barangaycalantas #barangaypook #hiking #walking #ricepaddies #jungle #volcanoes #ocean #pineapplefields #bananatree #coconuttree #carabao #cemetary #jeepnie #tricycle #jacliner #pilipinas #pinoyako #magandangumaga #mountainbiking #mountains #rainforest

Beaver Creek Wilderness Area, OR, USA

X.OR.2: Beaver Creek Wilderness Area

NE of the Unincorporated Township of Seal Rock. East from HWY 101 on N Beaver Creek RD – N Elk horn RD – Right on NF-51 – 702 – N Bayview RD – HWY 101.

I decided to take my journeyings down the coast from the Three Rocks neighborhood for a day in the Beaver Creek Wilderness Area, approximately 35 miles south toward Newport and then looping east before returning to the highway in Bayshore.

It was another sunny day as Gypsy Gold and I lit out for the wilderness. Passing through Newport, the views from the Yaquina Bay Bridge were picturesque.

I parked at the southeast end of the bridge and walked back across to the north end to play photographer for a half hour before resuming my rambling.

Looking east over Yaquina Bay and Newport, OR.
And west out to sea.

First and foremost, the Beaver Creek Wilderness area is an outdoor dream come true. I turned onto N Beaver Creek RD from the 101, and for the majority of my drive enjoyed LTE service (I have an AT&T prepaid plan, for reference), with only a few pockets of service interruption in deeper cuts between ridges.

Turnouts were plentiful, with lots of branches and few private property postings. Mountain bikers, tricoss riders, motocrossers, day hikers, and ferret lovers will find ample room to play.

The turnouts were trailer and toy-hauler friendly. They weren’t generally steep climbs from the main road, nor narrow.

Fire pits were plentiful, and one 8′ x 5′ monster bore testament to a legendary past bon-inferno. Overnight campers of all varieties will find spaces to suit their outdoor style.

Thick forest shot with golden spears of sunlight, rocky drop offs, and mountain meadows made for spectacular viewing. The road – intermittently paved and well maintained gravel – is largely single lane, but with plenty of opportunity to pass.

At the N Elk Horn RD, NF-51 junction two friendly motorcycle enthusiasts encouraged me to take a right and head for Alsea Bay near Waldport. I took their advice and wound down toward sea level.

Fewer photo opportunities arose near the river’s outlet into the small bay, but I did find an eagle enjoying the tidal pickings.

In flight.

In comparison to Old Scenic Highway 101, detailed in my article “Gypsy Gold”, the Beaver Creek area is far wider and wilder.

It offers longer itineraries, a greater variety of elevation challenges, a much larger array of campsites and secondary/tertiary exploration venues, and multiple Coastal Highway access points.

Interesting perspective shot. This tree is mostly above me, overhanging the road.
Another overhanger.

Everyone from x-country motorcycle marathoners to families with small children will enjoy this uncut gem set just back from Oregon’s shoreline.

Beaver Creek is dry camping, so you’ll need to be prepared. Use existing fire pits whenever possible, and come equipped to dig latrines, or pack your own waste out.

I personally use a “Luggable Loo” brand camp toilet, which is simply a five gallon bucket topped with a toilet seat lid. Bags keep everything sealed and smell free, and one of my own biggest hurdles to outdoor living has been, well… hurdled.

In other updates, I spent an hour at Right Repair in Lincoln City and decided that Gypsy Gold deserves a new engine. The shop owner is researching options, and we will proceed accordingly.

Thanks for reading, and as always, writing from Bayshore, OR, this is your covagabond.

~

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” -Lao Tzu

#covagabond #covagabondtravelblog #covagabondblog #covagabondtravel #xpnw #xor2 #pacificnorthwest #pnw #beavercreeknaturalarea #beavercreek #beavercreekwildernessarea #yaquinabay #yaquinabaybridge #newport #newportoregon #bayshoreoregon #pacifichighway101 #northbeavercreekroad #sealrock #NF-51 #northelkhornroad #camping #traveltrailer #drycamping #motorcycle #mountainbiking #hiking #horsebackriding #oregon #oregoncoast #oregoncamping #rv #toyhauler #fifthwheel #campertrailer #camper #recreationalvehicle #backpacking #alseariver #alseabay #waldport #waldportbridge #covidcasualty #quarantine #coronaviruscasualty #unemployment #horsetrailer #dayhike #firepit #oregonstateparks

One Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

covagabond.travel.blog

X.SEA.1: One Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Two hours and thirty five minutes, two hours and thirty five minutes, two hours and thirty five minutes… nine hours? Twelve hours? Seventeen?

Something seemed amiss as I scrolled through my Expedia listings for flights from Manila to Bangkok, Thailand. I knew that the direct flight was only two and a half hours, yet I was seeing listings for far longer than that, and all hosted by Malaysia Airlines. I clicked the seventeen hour option and found that the wildly increased duration was due to a thirteen hour layover in Kuala Lumpur.

I decided that a day in Malaysia sounded awesome, and booked my flight. As this was one of my first multi-country trips, I used tour services frequently, and they (mostly) served me well. So I found a tour with three destinations, thought I’d booked enough time for traffic, and set off.

My first welcome to Malaysia was a sign in the airport warning very simply that anyone found transporting narcotics into Malaysia would be hanged. Direct. I like it.

Don’t mess with Malaysia!

Southeast Asia’s narcotics laws are some of the harshest in the world, with penalties ranging from lengthy imprisonment in horrifying conditions, to death. President Duterte, of the Philippines, has waged a particularly controversial ‘War on Drugs’ that has seen hundreds of killings by masked gunmen, in his name. Distributors and addicts alike are pulled from their homes, and screaming family members watch as their ill loved ones are executed in the streets. Despite the harsh measures and rhetoric, Duterte has high approval ratings at the grassroots level, and is regarded a strong President by supporters and opponents alike. Some would say, too strong.

Kuala Lumpur’s freeways were deserted as I made my way into the city center from the airport in a cab (my first right-hand-drive car experience!). I’d unknowingly booked my travel on the Hindu festival of Deepavali, the victory of light over darkness, and a public holiday. So the traffic that I didn’t plan for didn’t exist, for that one day. Small miracles.

I passed under the twin towers in DT KL, snapped a quick still from a red light while picturing Sean Connery dangling alongside Catherine Zeta Jones under the skybridge before we rolled on the green.

My initial destination was the Hotel Concorde lobby and tour van rendezvous, where I enjoyed a draft or two at the Hard Rock Cafe and admired the kolam (meaning beauty in Tamil), rice grain tapestries laid out on the marble floors for the festival.

My van arrived (late, as seems to be a recurring theme in my Asian tour experiences, though not universally) and we were off.

We learned about Malaysian tin and rubber export history in the choppy, yet deftly witty, English of our rounded, elderly tour guide en route to Royal Selangor, the world’s largest pewter factory, where we received a showroom production floor cum metallurgy museum exhibit tour. Artisans poured molten pewter into molds, hammering them out, dipping away seams, and polishing them to showroom shine with great efficiency.

We learned about the large iron crocodiles that were Malaysia’s early currency, before more universal (and less heavy) coinage was adopted, and held cups stippled with thousands of circular facets, each hammered individually by hand.

Due to the holiday, the factory floor was closed. However we were treated to a stunning sales floor featuring everything from five centimeter dragons to a life size Captain America rendered down to the individual scales of his armor.

[Pewter Dragon from Royal Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo Credit: Cristine Ward]

Our next stop was a silk shop. Painters swirled and looped pictures of birds and floral designs in wax tracery on bolts of silk strung like hammocks for meters.

After the initial designs hardened the artist brushed dyes onto the silk, which bled out to stop at the wax barriers. After the entire painted bolt dried the wax was removed, leaving livid white line work against a richly colored backdrop.

Thousands upon thousands of similar items covered every available rack and surface, horizontal and vertical alike. Even the ceiling swayed with tapestried bolts of silk.

Outside a shrine to the Buddha shone crimson in the cloudy afternoon sent coils of smoke to drift in the gray warmth and bade us farewell as we set out for the Batu caves.

Magnificent limestone structures, the Batu caves house a complex of Hindu temples that were in full attendance during my Deepavali excursion.

Thronging the base of the world’s largest statue of Murugan, the Hindu God of war, and flights of hundreds of brightly painted stairs leading up to the caves themselves were thousands of adherents. Looking up that steep rainbow, I began my ascent.

A note to potential travelers. I didn’t take into account that I’d added a full day’s activities to a two week trip – meaning I was carrying a thirty pound pack up hundreds of narrow stairs in the tropical heat. Not a complaint, but definitely worth looking into day storage, or even a cheap hotel room as a base of operations for a long layover like this, just to lighten the load.

The caves were beautiful. Skylights cast bright white illumination far overhead, and jade green jungle spilled down toward us wherever space allowed.

Bats hunted in aerial ballet, darting around statues, shrines, vendors, pilgrims, and tourists alike. Vibrant temples and other structures within only underscored the size and scope of the caves.

Due to the brevity of my guided tour experience, I didn’t avail myself of the full extent of the Batu Caves. An additional dark complex branched off of the main approach, where dozens of signs touted the wildlife to be found within. I had about an hour, while three or four could easily be spent here.

Further temples and structures stood at the cave entrance, where I found gold rooftop sculptures, and this inimitable monkey god.

All in all, it was amazing.

My return to the airport was uneventful and expeditious, the freeways still being largely deserted, and my connecting flight to Bangkok was smooth.

Kuala Lumpur is massive, and a worthy destination in and of itself. However, if you only have one day, it still has plenty to offer the aspiring vagabond.

~

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao Tzu

#covagabond #covagabondtravel #covagabondtravelblog #travel #blog #travelblog #manila #philippines #bangkok #thailand #kualalumpur #malaysia #layover #malaysiaairlines #royalselangourpewter #pewter #silk #batucaves #deepavali #hindutemples #buddhistshrine #murugan #kartikeya #limestonecaves #cavetemples #southeastasia #hardrockcafe #hardrockmalaysia #flighttothailand

“Gypsy Gold”

Old Scenic Highway 101 – NE of Otis, OR: Mon 4 May 2020

Hello fellow vagabonds, this is my first blog post. I’m happy to be writing from the area of Otis, Oregon this drizzly evening. I’m relaxing just outside of Lincoln City at a balmy 75 feet above sea level.

Before I get into the local scenery, I’ll start with a bit of backstory. Long story short, I’m a Covid-19 economic casualty. After the implosion I washed up in Logan, Utah. Rather than signing a lease for a bedroom in a communal apartment, I decided to put that money toward a vehicle and I am the newly proud owner of a 2003 Toyota Sequoia. As with any used vehicle, I will be taking her to a local mechanic and bullet-proofing her.

Gypsy Gold and I (for that is her name) are exploring the Oregon coast for the foreseeable future, while keeping a weather eye on the coasts of Colorado. I’m also keeping an ear to the ground for a used travel trailer, and am in the early stages of rocking the RV lifestyle. We’ll get into more of that big picture stuff as we progress. For now, I’m here to give you in-depth, on the ground coverage for all of your PNW vagabonding needs.

Today I’m writing about Old Scenic Highway 101, running northeast of Lincoln City’s Devil’s Lake, directly NE of  Otis between North East Three Rocks Road and the Slab Creek Road, US 101 (Oregon Coast Hwy) junction.

I found Scenic 101 using Gravelmap, a web resource showing maps of various dirt roads, after asking Ronda, my local restaurant friend for an initial heading. She pointed me toward East Devil’s Lake Road and here we are.

Ironically despite finding it on Gravelmap, all of Scenic 101 is paved (albeit roughly in one or two places), but I did find that dirt eventually. About two thirds of the way through Old 101’s 9 mile stretch I found a well established right turn onto a road fully capable of accommodating my V8, though it didn’t appear on Google maps at all. I plan to geotag it on future explorations.

At the apex of this unnamed road I found the fire pit pictured, after which the road dropped sharply into a relatively steep graded descent.

Scenic 101 lives up to its name with bucolic, and plentiful, residential plots and pastures abutting dense temperate rainforest.

For camping vagabonds, Scenic 101 itself is simply access to deeper exploration areas. Some pull-offs can accommodate a parked vehicle, but you won’t find trailer parking on the highway.

My unmapped dirt road is also not especially trailer friendly. Truck bed campers will do fine, but narrow fallen tree cutouts, and other road conditions make this less than appealing for any fifth wheel or travel trailers much over 12 to 15 feet.

This is an excellent road for parking at the base and hiking or biking up. Plenty of breathing room and square mileage to find your private wilderness.

I haven’t yet strapped on my own hiking boots, and am not likely to do so any time soon. In addition to being busily writing, I am cautious. A passing hiker told me a bear was nearby, and I have no desire to end up in a food chain scenario.

So, what I can tell you is that there are some great elevation challenges plunging through towering stands of moss bearded deciduous and rearing, narrow evergreens… which I enjoyed from the cowardly comfort of my electricity controlled captain’s chair. Hikers, cyclists, trail runners, dog mommas, and overnight campers will love this convenient wilderness in Lincoln City’s own backyard.

After my initial drive I slept at the firepit I mentioned earlier, and did a minimal amount of exploring on my way back into town for the day’s errands. Multiple forks led to multiple forks, which I plan to map and explore with you over the days to come. I turned back at the second intersection on each of the two roads I tried, and each of these had well maintained roads leading further afield.

The firepit I found at the top of this unmapped (on Google) road.

By happy accident my initial drive through was approaching sunset on a clear evening, so I was able to capture some great stills. Please forgive my amateur photography, I’m hoping to upgrade from my phone camera one day, lol.

Overall, Old Scenic Highway 101 is a beautiful little piece of countryside, and the entranceway to deeper wilderness beyond, and elevation increases begin as soon as one leaves the Highway proper for the gravel.

~

“Learn to accept reality as it is, and not as you would wish it to be.” – Sri Ri Lak, a dear friend and disciple of the Buddha

Sri Ri Lak

Writing to you from Otis, OR, USA

Your covagabond

#covagabond #covagabondtravelblog #covagabondblog #travelblog #pnw #pnwtravel #devilslakeoregon #lincolncityoregon #otisoregon #oldscenichighway101 #gravelmap #oregoncoast #camping #catcamping #hiking #mountainbiking #trailrunning #walking #jogging #running #dayhikes #travel #blog #suv #rv #drycamping #roadtrip #highway #rainforest #traveltrailer #5thwheel #pacificnorthwest #nationalforest #threerocks

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