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Did I miss anything?

Did I miss anything?

Hey. You’ve found me part way through this epic, realtime, virtual trip around the world on Google maps and probably missed some interesting places. I’ve learnt some great things that I’ll be using in a Trivial Pursuits game at Christmas, and you can learn them too. Why not jump back and check out some of the places I’ve been to earlier on?

Be prepared – The very first entry.
(Use the top right link above each entry to move forward.)

Alternatively, you can check on my progress and review all of the past maps in The story so far. Or just check on why in my about page.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in News

 

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Day 84: Medford, Oregon

Medford looks a lot like a real piece of America. As an Englishman, I am presented with a sample of real American life, not the forced perspective you get in the cities of big buildings and loud noises. Medford has a population of around 75,000, which is a quarter of the size of the town I live in in England. It is also much more open and accessible, something I have found for most American towns on my travels. With so much land available, it’s hardly surprising.

Google streetview Medford
It’s really nice to be in a low, clean and friendly town in a country the size of America.

In my experience of America, the towns are, above all, well managed and clean. Medford has experienced some gang trouble in the last decade, but no more than other similar sized towns. I don’t doubt that there are lesser areas in every town or city, but I am always impressed in just how clean the streets are in this country. In a day or so I will be back in a large city, and this seems to be a good opportunity to stop for a moment. I keep referring to Medford as a town, but actually it was made a city in 1905. In England, we have a general rule that a city base to have a cathedral, but this isn’t true of how they do it here. [A cathedral is not actually a required item in England either.] Geographically, Medford is in a little pocket of land that benefits from the surrounding mountains, which protect it from the harsher aspects of weather. It has a lower rainfall than most other cities in Oregon and one of the most stable temperature bands. Snow happens, but doesn’t last too long. I spend the afternoon on a short hike up Roxy Ann Peak. It wasn’t too hard a trek, but the last third was the difficult part. The view is impressive, and if you are here on a foggy day, it’s like being above the clouds. I make it back down and eat a good dinner at the Downtown Market Company restaurant. I retire to my hotel and take it easy for my drive south tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Places

 

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Home on the range

Home on the range

Oregon for me is rolling hills, forested mountainsides, cattle and cowboys, but more of a sort of ‘trapper’ kind of thing. Early Americans who are at one with the local red indian tribe. I have ‘Grissly’ Adams in mind, but I found out that the real James Adams was actually a Californian mountain man from Massachusetts, which was a bit of a surprise. I always had him down as a Montana or Oregon man. Still, you pass up on the details when you’re a child.

It would have been great to do the whole run from Portland to San Francisco, but that’s over 600 km and a ten hour drive-fest, and my lovely camper friend might not be up to the trip. So I choose to reach Medford, which is a small town just short of the Californian border. I thought I should sample somewhere that has buildings that don’t block out the sun and wildlife on teh doorstep. I book the local Travelodge for two nights at $50 (about £35) per night, and will take a proper look at this part of Oregon.

I’m going to walk around town, buy some food in a local store and just see what small town America has to offer.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Enroute

 

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Day 82: Seattle

Seattle is big, really big. For a European, like myself, Seattle goes up and out in all sorts of impressive ways. What makes is very interesting is its relationship with the water around it. Seattle sits on a sort of shaft of land that wants to be a peninsular, but isn’t. It’s know widely as the Emerald City, and is filled with evergreens that enforce the nickname. When the Denny Party, arrived in 1851, the land was populated by Native Americans, but the travellers seemed to have all of the skills they needed to avoid being killed, settling down and naming the new town after Chief Si’ahl of the Duwamish tribe.

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A view from the waterfront

Safeco_Field - Baseball Mariners

Seattle Mariners play Baseball at Safeco Field

The Space Needle stands out among a lot of high rise buildings, but in a more impressive way. Built in 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition and has, over the years, featured in a long list of films and TV programmes. Originally, it was surrounded by a fairground, but that land now holds the Seattle Center.

A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Pike Place Market. It’s open all week and has done since 1907. It has a number of levels, which have different types of merchant on each, including fishmongers, craft stalls and all manner of fresh produce, most of which are managed by local farmers.

I have a fairly short journey south towards the Californian border, passing through Oregon to get there. So I catch a bite to eat in the market and head back to find my camper. On my way out of the city I fill up with ‘Gas’ and head for Interstate 5, which takes me through quite a few national parks. So I book a room in the Ace Hotel in Portland for $125. I will take the evening to look around, maybe walk along the river and sample a bit of local food. Tomorrow, I’ll continue south to the Californian border. I can feel the sun already.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Places

 

Going south

So, Calgary is off up the Trans-Canadian Highway running east. A quick look at this route would give about a thousand kilometres of mountains and rich valleys, and places called Chilliwack, Hope and Kamloops. Who wouldn’t want to visit these places?

Instead, I venture out of Vancouver and head south through Surrey, which reminds me of where I started, and through White Rock and Blaine. White rock is named, strangely enough, for the huge rock stuck in the beach near the promenade. This is a great example of what’s called a glacial erratic, brought here by the last glaciation. This granite boulder weighs a staggering 486 tonnes, but gets its name from the seabird deposits that covered the rock, although now a coat of white paint each month does most of the work.

I head south on route 5, stop for a short while to go through the border in the US, and then pass through Blaine and past Ferndale. Canadians and Americans can pass easily from either direction, unless you have a criminal record, where things get a little more formal. In many cases, all the locals need is a valid driving licence and wave of a passport, much as we have in Europe. As a visitor, I can get by on a short stay visa, but this is not a great deal and easily arranged before I get here. I carry on. It’s a gentle, patchwork scene on both sides of the highway and there’s a simplicity to the roads and houses. Bellingham arrives in no time at all.

The name of Bellingham is derived from the bay on which the city is situated. George Vancouver, who visited the area in June 1792, named the bay for Sir William Bellingham, the controller of the storekeeper’s account of the Royal Navy.

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Bellingham around 1909.

I stop off near the sea front for a walk and a bit of lunch. As would be expected, there is plenty of seafood on offer and stop off at the Fino Wine bar to take in the view and have a little something medicinal. Each table has a set of binoculars, which I use to watch the birds on the wet sand. A nice thought.

Back in the camper, I head back onto the highway for Seattle. The trip down is only another hour or so, and I pass over countless river tributaries and sand banks. This is a gentle place and could be a little warmer, but it is April. As I drive in I can see the Space Needle, probably the most recognisable landmark in the city. No need to sleep in the camper tonight. I have booked a room at the Hotel Five for $87, on 5th Avenue, that includes breakfast. Not only does it have ample parking for my lovely companion, but they have free bicycles to use in the downtown area. Just what I need to take a look around the area for an hour or so.

I get something simple for dinner and retire to my room and the large flat screen as a friend. I’ll take a couple of hours in the morning to have a look around, and then head south to my next destination.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Enroute

 

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Day 80: Vancouver

I knew, before I got here, that Vancouver is the largest city on the west coast of Canada. I have also been told, by friends who have visited, that it is an openly friendly place.

I have found and booked a room in the Empire Landmark Hotel. A tall, imposing building with a rather impressive restaurant on the 42nd floor. There’s something business-like about it, but suits my needs today. Because of its height, most rooms have a great view of the English Bay to the west, and the Vancouver Harbour to the north east. I have every intention of using the restaurant, if only to take in this beautiful city. The hotel is in the most popular district of the city, with more than enough of a choice in restaurants to suit anyone.

Empire Landmark Hotel and view Downtown Vancouver map

It’s not surprising to find that Vancouver regularly features on lists for best quality of life and place to go. There are plenty of built up areas, and the location of my hotel is in the middle of the main city area, but there is something open and organised about it. The planning is laid out in streets and avenues, much like New York. On this spring day, it is impossible to notice the sunset in this truly beautiful part of the world. Tomorrow I will be filling the tank and heading south. I really wanted to stay in Canada and head due east, towards Calgary and the mountains, but, due to the limited number of roads in that direction, the route would take me too far east to make sense of this part of the journey.

So it’s off to bed in my aerial room.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Places

 

Land ahoy!

I awake today with the West coast of Canada in full sight. The container ship is about to make its way along the Columbia River and should dock at the Roberts Bank Superport peninsular sometime this afternoon. We have a great breakfast, along with some of the crew, and a game of cards with other passengers. There’s always plenty of time to sit and watch the coast go by, but I must pack my things and thank people for the past week or more.

Roberts Bank Superport is a twin-terminal port facility located on the mainland coastline of the Strait of Georgia in Delta, British Columbia. It’s not the only one in this area, and we pass plenty of large ships going in both directions. A bit of excitement after breakfast when one of the river pilots boards the ship by helicopter. Their job is to navigate the inlet and are very well paid for doing it. I am amused by the story a crew member tells me about the Graveyard of the Pacific, which we have passed through, thankfully, as we head up the river. This is largely to do with the Columbia bar, a long stretch of sand that has taken more than 2000 ships and over 700 lives. I make a point of thanking the captain for getting through the narrow entrance and give him a small box of mints I bought in Japan. [It was all I had!]

My camper is in the container near the front, so should be off pretty quick when we moor up. I have enjoyed the ride, but I need to get back on track and head across the firm terra.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Enroute

 

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The alternative route east

As I approach the north American coast, which I can’t see right now without some serious optical help and a balloon, I mull over the different routes I could have taken to span the Pacific. Google maps does not allow me to set a route very far north of China. There are vast areas in East Asia that anyone could travel, but is largely open land. I can see the roads on the map, but no end of plotting locations gave me a route I could use. Google maps simply doesn’t have the road data to perform the task.

I wanted to travel right up into Russia and over the Baring strait. I could find a boat service that should be able to take me across to Alaska, but getting times or dates proved difficult. Passport control seemed a bit vague, too. My second choice was to take a ship to Anchorage, or to be exact, Unalaska port. This is a small shipping port just west of Anchorage, but I could get a ferry from there to the city port. The issue I was faced with was that the ferry service didn’t start until the spring service, and my travel meant that I would end up having to wait nearly two weeks for the ferry service to start. [Apparently, the seas around that area are frozen over through the winter months, so the ferry doesn’t run.] It wouldn’t have been a problem if I was on foot, but getting the camper to the city port would have been nearly impossible.

So, here I am on the container ship to Vancouver, Canada. It’s turned out to be fine, as it’s a lot warmer this far south than it would have been, and I am not so sure the drive down Alaska in April would have been fun, or very warm.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Enroute

 

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