PHOENIX, ARIZONA

 
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A few weeks back I left the soggy lands of Portland to travel to red plains of Phoenix, AZ for a few days for work. Though my time there was primarily spent working, I did manage to take a day to do a little exploring and R&R.

Knowing little about Phoenix and being solo, I wanted to do something on foot that wouldn’t just involve going out to eat only. Being a big admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright, I was very excited to remember that he had designed a building at ASU’s campus in Tempe, which was only a thirty minute light rail ride from my hotel.

From photos I have seen I knew what I was looking for, but when I finally came across it while walking the campus it was nothing like I had ever seen before, even for FLW. It looked like a giant copper cake from mars! Adorned with beautiful scalloped edges and layers, it glowed in the early desert sun. The doors were locked so I couldn’t venture in, but I could only imagine the burnt orange carpet that ran through it.

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Another favorite was the H.B. Farmer Education Building. Again with the monotone burnt orange edges with the softness of the globe light and and pops of greenery. This building was definitely a blast from the past that hopefully never gets a modern renovation. As I left the campus I wondered if the students appreciated the architecture and it’s history. Probably not. But hopefully one day some will.

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Since I was going to be in town for four nights I wanted to stay at a hotel that was a little outside of the general Downtown area and that stayed more alive post business hours. I booked my stay at the Found:Re, a boutique hotel in the Arts District. The layout and decor of the rooms reminded me a lot of the Ace DTLA with it’s floating bed and interactive shower.
My room had a nice view of the street and some restaurants so even though I could be up in my room binging on HGTV I didn’t feel isolated.

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After my walk through ASU did a little self-care poolside with a vibrant cocktail. I actually cannot remember the last time I actually laid out and did nothing by a pool. And I forgot how relaxing it was. Must do again soon!

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Being my last night there and making the most of my one day off like a vacation, I took myself out to dinner (rather than ordering room service) down to the hotel’s restaurant Match. So I confidently ordered myself the ribs and enjoyed a night out solo - something I do not do often. Best part, no one talked to me. Maybe it was the ribs. Either way, it was just how I wanted my evening to go.

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Though Phoenix is still not on my top 10 destinations to visit, I was pleasantly surprised with what it had to offer during my short and busy stay. Until next time…

Also tbh, I meant to post this weeks ago but life. Enjoy!

 

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VANLIFE // LA to PORTLAND

 
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This past weekend Danny and I (& Steve) flew back to LA, loaded up my father-in-law's '89 Dodge Starcraft with the remainder of our belongings, and started our scenic route back up to Portland. The last two drives up were quick and to the point, all up the dreaded I-5. So, this time we wanted to take it slower up the 101, make stops, visit quiet towns, and take in the gorgeous west coast-line. And the best part: we were Van Camping, aka VanLife.

We began our journey just a few short hours after I touched down in Los Angeles. There was no time to waste! We figured we would start the drive up the redundant portion of California at night, being that it is a route we have already seen more times than we would prefer. This stretch includes the infamous cow-death-camp, which can be smelled for miles on end at night. The idea was to drive as long as we could, then stop for some sleep, and then cut over to the 101 at day-break. We spent our first night at a rest stop in Huron, and I was surprised how clean and quiet it was. The three of us cozily snuggled into the van's built-in bed, surround by all of our house plants and Danny's instruments. At that moment I thought: I could get used to this.

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We started our crossover near San Francisco, traveling through Berkeley, and over the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge to the 101. It's pretty amazing how quickly the scenery turns greener once entering Northern California. And of course, what road trip on the west coast would be complete without some In-N-Out, amirite?

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From there, we began passing through the towering redwoods of Humbolt County via the Avenue of the Giants. The air was so fresh and damp through this area that we could've hiked and explored for hours. There is something so majestic about California's Redwoods.

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Our last stop before calling it a night was in Eureka, CA. We had dinner at Nooner Cafe, a small Mediterranean restaurant tucked in an alley up against a speakeasy. I recommend their falafel with their honey tahini - it was really good. Full & tired, we passed over the Oregon state line and stopped at another rest stop nestled in the trees across from the oceanfront. I couldn't wait until morning - it would be the first time I got to experience the Oregon Coast.

Waking up excited, I finally got to see in person what I had been drooling over for years via other's Instagrams. And man oh man, was it better in person. Cameras cannot capture the aqua tone of the ocean on this coast. There really isn't anything like it.

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Left in awe from the scenic seascapes, we headed into Gold Beach for some caffeine before continuing on. We found a place called Rachel's Coffee Shop inside a pretty rad bookstore that also served some of the best homemade sticky buns we have ever had. Per recommendation of the regulars, go for the one with the nuts. I also have a hunch these bad-boys sell out fast, so get there early.

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At this point, due to time, we headed back over to the I-5 to complete our weekend adventure, unwind, and get ourselves ready for the week. Although I am sad we didn't make it to Tillamook and other seaside destinations this time, it only makes me more excited to come back to visit and explore more soon. Now, we just need a permanent weekender van. 

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