Monday, July 9, 2012

The West Coast Trip

Had sort of a vacation on the West Coast for two weeks. Took about 500 pictures but none of them do justice to what I and Nicole experienced in the Redwood Forests of Northern California. Here is a recap of the trip for you in the list of 5 most memorable things we experienced out there with pictures:

5. Chicken Wings at Pok Pok, Portland, OR
pok pok
We stayed at my sister, Yoonmee and her husband, Brandon's house while we were in Portland. They are truly gracious hosts and great guides to this great Northwestern city. While we were there, we realized that Portland has much more vigorous and sophisticated food culture than New York. Numbers of non-starbucks coffee shops equals its homeless population, mobile food trucks are everywhere and there are several designated spots throughout the city where different food stalls enticing you with the menus as diverse as Korean tacos to Hungarian Schnitzel sandwich. We ended up trying as many different cuisine as we could. But we didn't make it to the famous Voodoo Donut which the wait line was stretching over blocks even on weekdays.

So Yoonmee and Brandon were raving about this new Vietnamese restaurant that serves the best wings they ever tasted. "Don't get anything else, just get the wings!", they told us.

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings were indeed glorious. The order comes with 6 large wings in its entire wing span that you have to break as you chew along. Sticky, tangy, salty and slightly hot (we ordered 'hot') with visible pepper seeds stuck on the wings. Apparently they just opened its Brooklyn branch and Lower Eastside branch (wings only). I can't vouch for anything else in their menu as I haven't had anything but wings. But oh man, they are better than Korean hot wings.

4. Cabin in the Woods, Mt. Hood, OR

Yoonmee and Brandon bought a cabin in Mt. Hood a couple years back and have been working on it the whole time. It's their pride and joy and we finally got to visit it.

I always imagined it to be a small squeaky wooden shack with an outhouse, no running water and very minimalist setting. At least that's how I envisioned in my jaded New Yorker mind. To my surprise, the cabin was A-framed beautiful two story structure with a brand new deck that surrounds it. The interior of the cabin can be featured in the next issue of Interior Magazine. It is not far from the main road and you could easily walk to a local convenient store. Hike trails are everywhere and the surrounding forests are beautiful.

3. Henry V at Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavillion under the setting sun, Ashland, OR
Originally, we were planning on going down to the Redwood Forests in non-stop 8 hour drive from Portland. Then Yoonmee and Bran suggested a stop over at a small town called Ashland, famous for their annual Shakespeare Festival. So we decided to stay one night on the way down to Cali and see a play. And it turned out to be a great decision.

Ashland looks like a wealthy suburban town with beautiful dry weather, giftshops and outdoor cafes. But obviously the main attraction is the festival.

Henry V was their main focus this year. With my flimsy knowledge on the play from college years and the subsequent viewing of Kenneth Branagh's film version, I really didn't really expect much. First it was the three story Elizabethan stage with coliseum seating was, upon entering, awe-inspiring. It only got better- with superb production that was way better than any Shakespeare in the Park (from the little I've seen over the years). As the young king roused his outnumbered brothers in arms into an improbable victory over France, the sun was setting and soon the stars appeared above the mountains. It was an amazing experience.

2. Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, CA
the redwoods1
the Redwoods
What can I say? The giant redwoods made me speechless. We got rain, sun and everything inbetween. But we didn't get the misty forest we wanted, until...

1. Lady Bird Johnson Grove, The Redwood National Park, CA
And we got that too!

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