Happy birthday to B

Day 2 of our road trip and it was Blainie’s birthday today. We woke up to find it pouring with rain. After breakfast and coffee in the motorhome we pondered what to do with the day.

Birthday LEGO

The weather cleared a little so we decided to go in search of some beaches. We found a lovely beach and went for a walk, but it was rather cold and slightly rainy.

Nice beach, shame about the skies

It was a bit cold, so we decided coffee in the warmth of our motorhome was needed. We found a car park with a nice view.

Coffee station
Coffee, blueberry muffins and views

After coffee we went for a bit more of wander around.

Must be nice on a sunny day

Stopped in for a beer and chips at the Bremer Bay Brewery. Beer was ok. Chips were average. And we judge a place based on their chips – I mean if you can’t get chips right, what hope do you have?

Average

Drove around a bit, then decided to have another coffee and an Easter rabbit and a game of Masters of the Universe UNO, because, really what else is there to do on a cold and blustery day?

Back to the motorhome
Coffees and Kinder Rabbit
Toy from Kinder Surprise rabbit.
Special Masters of the Universe UNO rule

And then before we knew it, it was time to head back to the campsite and sort out some dinner. After such a cold day, Japanese curry was in order. Luckily we had some Pokemon and Doraemon microwave curry and rice on hand.

Yes, we bought it because of the packaging
Surprisingly delicious

A short side trip 2021

Well what can I say other than so far this year has majorly sucked. Besides the obvious COVID crap that continues to ruin everyone’s lives, there’s been a whole lot of other awful things going on in our lives recently. I won’t go in to details here, but let’s just say, we really needed a holiday more than ever.

Something we have always wanted to do was to hire a Campervan/Motorhome/whatever they are called. We have come very close to hiring one in both Europe and America but have chickened out at the last minute. And so here we find ourselves with no where to travel to but other parts of Western Australia…the perfect opportunity to test out traveling in a motor home.

We picked up our Maui motorhome on Friday and packed it full of our stuff (yes we brought our own pots and pans and cooking implements…even though it came equipped with a stunning array of kitchen items) First impressions…. it was freaking huge! How the heck are we going to drive this freakin bus!?!?!

With Yuki safely boarded (against her will) at the Furbaby Retreat we headed off early Saturday morning.

Unimpressed in her new pillow fort – her home for the next 7 days

First stop, Brookton and it was time for coffee. But…wait….no wandering around small towns trying to find a half decent coffee only to be disappointed and have to tip it out….no, that’s not for us because we have all our coffee making equipment right here with us!

Awesome music also blaring out side door
Steve hand grinding fresh coffee beans (such wankers I know)
Coffee and muffin time!

After our brief coffee stop, we were off on the road again. At Katanning we stopped for a stretch of our legs and discovered the most amazing playground ever. Yes I know we are old but how can we resist such awesome slides (we didn’t end up going on that massive slide as there were too many children to contend with) But, wow what an awesome place!

Cool slide
We only went on the less popular small slide
Who is that old man that thinks he’s 10?
Forever young

Back on the road again

Yoda be road trippin’

And then before we knew it, we were in Bremer Bay. The sun was still shining when we got there, but it was starting to get colder. Rain was forecast for the next few days unfortunately. Our caravan park was near the coast so we nipped over to check out the scenery.

Coast
Oh hai!
Purdy

It started to get cold and dark so we headed back to the caravan park. The dream was to sit outside on our $20 Kmart camping chairs and enjoy a bevvie but it was just too cold, so we had to stay inside the campervan. Blainie discovered that the random German beer she bought from The Re Store because she liked the label, was actually her new favourite beer and she just didn’t know it yet.

Tasty beer

We cooked up some Barramundi and potatoes on the small but surprisingly effective campervan stove.

Perfect seasoning is a must
The trick is to cook it perfectly
I just cook it til it’s done
Trouts ready! (Except it’s barramundi)
Actually the best meal ever

Dinner was great. The barramundi was delicious. Who knew that camp cooking could be so tasty!

We went for a bit of a walk after dinner but the rain was coming in, all in all though, a successful first day in the campervan.

A short side…take me home country roads….

Well, just as we were starting to settle in to our holiday, it was time to pack up and head home. It was raining a little today, but quite a bit warmer than the previous days.

Morning coffees on the porch
Morning coffees on the porch
Car packed and ready to go

We decided to head home on a different route – the Great Southern Highway, because, quite frankly, Albany Highway was a little boring. This route took us back past the Stirling Ranges so we got to have one last look at the beautiful scenery. In the misty morning light, they looked even better.

Mount Trio

We drove through the small town of Gnowangerup and on to Katanning where we stopped for a coffee and a house made sausage roll which was actually quite good. It’s not an Australian round trip if you don’t have at least one type of flaky pastry product.

Mmmm pastry products and milky coffee…

From Katanning it was on to Wagin where we were promised a giant ram. It did not disappoint.

Giant ram

After a disappointing bakery stop in Narrogin, we stopped at a corner store in a tiny town called Popanyinning for icecreams.

Freddo icecream, Tastes like the ‘80’s

And then it was on to home. All in all a successful trip. A few more days would’ve been nice but we came to climb Bluff Knoll and that is what we did.

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A short side trip….Day 3

We woke up a bit tired and sore today. Our leg muscles were aching…but….we had another hike we wanted to do. Castle Rock. So we had to push through the pain. Castle Rock is in the Porongurups ranges, which as we discovered are some of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Ever. Crazy hey?

We were staying just up the road so it was a quick drive to the start of the trail.

And we are off once again

It was an easier hike up Castle Rock, but still quite a climb, which given the state of our calves and quads, made us wince in pain several times.

We got there quite early so luckily it wasn’t very busy, but we could tell already that as the day went on, it was going to get quite busy.

Rocks at Castle Rock

At the top of the hike, you have to clamber up some rocks and then there is a ladder up to a skywalk with views across the ranges. Blainie went up the ladder, and yes, it was a little scary. Steve attempted to climb up but aborted the mission after two rings of the ladder. It was really windy up on the skywalk, nice views though.

Blainie descending the skywalk

We walked around a bit more, and had some morning tea before heading back.

Views
Slaloming through the trees…or something
Sasquatch????

We decided that after all that, some chill time on a beach was in order. We headed off in search of Little Beach near Albany. It was rumoured to be quite lovely, and when we found it, it did not disappoint.

Turquoise waters

We had our lunch on the beach and spent the rest of the day chilling and wandering around there. It was so lovely there.

Japanese coffee on the beach
Secret beach
Panorama
See that pain on my face? I suffer for my photos. My calves were killing me!
Chillin

We eventually dragged ourselves away (it was difficult) and headed back to Albany in search of some better fish and chips. Luckily we found it at Ocean and Paddock. Steve had local Nanagai fish with prawns and squid and Blainie had a Snapper burger. It was delcious and restored our faith that fish and chips CAN actually be delicious if it is cooked properly.

Squid
Snapper burger
Ocean and Paddock. Recommended 👍🏻

We headed back to Porongurup and back to Castle Rock and did a short walk there in the evening and saw several kangaroos who watched us suspiciously.

A short side trip….Day 2

We got up early…it was freezing….! Had breakfast and got ready to tackle Bluff Knoll. Ok, maybe it’s not the biggest mountain in the world, but it’s the biggest in the South West and the 2nd biggest in Western Australia, so it’s still quite big. It was a beautiful clear day – perfect climbing conditions.

Our morning view

It’s about a 45 minute drive from Porongurup to the car park of Bluff knoll. It was quite a scenic drive as the Stirling Ranges came in to view.

Wide open road
More wide open road

The turnoff to Bluff Knoll had a sign for not only kangaroos, but emus too. Now we know we are in the country.

We didn’t see any emus

We drove up to carpark and set off

Yep, we gotta go up there

The hike itself is not THAT far but it is uphill all the way. Once the steps start they don’t stop until you reach the top. It’s quite the workout.

Spectacular views

It was such a clear day so the views were nothing short of spectacular. Look, here’s some photos for you to enjoy.

I’m not really sure how long it took, but we eventually made it to the top. The last 600m were the longest 600m we had ever walked. It was quite busy at top with lots of people.

We had some snacks we had packed and chilled for a while, enjoying the views and preparing for the trip back down.

Yes!
Japanese canned coffee – perfect for mountain hiking
Proof!

And then it was time to head back down again. Walking down is easier but does make your legs a little wobbly. Also Steve is afraid of heights so didn’t enjoy the downhill views. They were awesome though.

Steve staying close to the wall
Can you see our car down there?
Steve’s favourite bit (not)

And then, before we knew it we were back down again. Tired but happy.

We did it!

After a bit of a rest we headed in to Albany in search of dinner. We had a well deserved bevvie at a random bar and after realising the place we had planned to have dinner at was closed, settled for some rather average fish and chips. They were ok I guess, but sooooo greasy. We are not used to eating things like that.

Local flathead fish but too greasy

We were tired after that. Check out how many flights of stairs we climbed (amount of steps is less impressive)

188 floors!!!!

After dinner we headed back to our accommodation in Porongurup (saw a field with thousands of kangaroos on the way – sorry no photos) and promptly passed out.

A short side trip…Day 1

So…2020 hey? What a stupid year it’s been. I don’t think we really need to mention it anymore as we are sure everyone feels the same.

Living in Western Australia, we can’t really complain too much, other than not being able to leave the state (and a short stint of lockdown earlier in the year) life is mostly normal here. It was still disappointing that we had to cancel our trip to Japan in April though, but really, what can you do?

On most weekends over Winter we have been going out hiking in the hills and surrounding areas. One day we decided that what we really need to do was to climb Bluff Knoll, and that’s how this trip was planned. Steve had climbed Bluff Knoll once before – 25 years or so ago when he first visited WA. Blainie had never even seen it. Luckily we are allowed to travel around our state, something a lot of other Australians can’t do at the moment.

We hired a car and headed off bound for Porongurup which would be our base for 3 nights. Blainie made muffins (and we packed almost our entire house to take with us)

Delicious blueberry muffins

We headed straight down Albany Hwy, had a quick stop for some snacks at Sullivan’s Rock, and then another brief stop at the town of Williams.

Coffee and muffin stop

Williams Wooshed

Not the most scenic drive along Albany Hwy but it gets you to your destination. After a couple more brief stops at Kojonup and Mt Barker to stretch our legs we made it to our accommodation in Porongurup. We went to check in and were informed that the cottage we had booked for our stay just had a rabbit die under it and thus smelled badly and we wouldn’t be able to stay in it. Luckily they managed to find another spot for us but it was sans kitchenette. Disappointing as we had planned to cook our dinners during our stay. The owner managed to get us a little portable cook top and some pots and pans but it wasn’t really ideal. We managed to cook up some cheese toasties for dinner.

Makeshift kitchen

Our accommodation

It was quite lovely around there though but man, it was FREAKING FREEZING!!!!

The long journey home

First step: check out of hotel in Portland.

Next, fly on a rather small plane with propellers to Vancouver.

Arrive in Vancouver. Catch train to Downtown. Get really good coffee at Revolver cafe.

Eat lunch at Meat and Bread. Great sandwiches.

Wander around Downtown Vancouver until we got tired and had to rest on a giant chair.

Catch train back to airport. Board Air New Zealand plane bound for Auckland. Settle in for 14 hour flight.

Note: we splurged on Premium Economy for this flight. It was so worth it. Best flight ever. Also, look at the fancy food you get.

Arrive in Auckland feeling pretty good, having slept for a good portion of the flight. Waiting around Auckland airport for 5 hours though….not a great amount of fun.

Checking the board to see if it’s time to leave yet.

There’s our plane!

And we are back on a plane for 7 or so hours.

Look at the cute little bottle of olive oil you get with bakery items. Fancy premium economy snobs.

And then, ladies and gentlemen we were home.

Full sized flamingos

It was raining in Astoria this morning when we woke up. And really foggy over the river. Today we were basically going to be doing yesterday’s trip in reverse. But first, breakfast. We had breakfast at a cafe adjoining our hotel. It was good. Apparently they use all local produce and the like.

After breakfast we went for a bit of a wander around town. The 80’s film The Goonies was filmed in Astoria. But don’t go trying to visit the house used in the movies because the owner will call the police on you (note: this did not happen to us. We only read about it on the internet)

We decided we had to drive over the massive bridge into Washington.

Then we drove back over it again, back in to Oregon.

Coffee stop at Cannon Beach at Insomnia Coffee.

Had some lunch down on the beach. Views of Haystack Rock in the background.

More views on the drive back down the coast.

Apparently there are cougars here (we didn’t get out of the car)

We went back to Tillamook cheese creamery today in the hope that it would be less crowded. It was still busy but not as bad as yesterday so we had a Grilled Cheese sandwich and icecream.

And then it was back to Portland to pack up and get ready for our flights outta here tomorrow

Day trip to Astoria

We decided to hire another car and go for a drive to the coast. Look, to be honest, we started getting a bit bored of Portland. It’s cool and all, but really, there is only so many donuts you can eat before your jeans stop fitting you. Besides, the Oregon Coast was calling us and go to it we must.

First stop was Tillamook state forest and visitors centre.

Blainie and Smokey the Bear.

We had planned to stop at the Tillamook cheese factory for lunch, but when we got there it was CRAZY busy. We managed to get a car park and had a look around for a bit, then left and went to a different cheese place up the road that had far less people at it.

After lunch we headed to Cape Meares lighthouse on the coast. Nice views. Tiny lighthouse.

We stopped at a beach for a bit where you had to beware of sneaker waves apparently.

Kept driving up the coast. Stopped at a few places along the way – Rockaway Beach, Seaside and Manzanita.

Then we got to Astoria where we had planned to stay for the night. Astoria is a cool little town with a lot of micro breweries and a very long bridge connecting it to Washington on the other side of the river. We had dinner at Buoy Brewing Company. It had really lovely views out on to the bay. We even saw otters in the water off in the distance.

Got lost in the places I’ve been

We went to a Farmers market this morning. The berries, in particular are very good here. We nearly bought some red currants, but then Blainie tried one and it was very, very tart.

Oh and massive Walla Walla onions. They have an onion festival there apparently.

Other things we did throughput the day, included: coffee at Stumptown, lunch at Pine street market and Icecream at Ruby Scoops

In the late afternoon we headed off to Mississippi Street, as we were going to a gig there in the evening. We thought we could check out some cute shops there and get some dinner before. Of course, the one day we have to go to this street, they are having a massive street party and it’s all crazy busy with people everywhere and loud doof doof music blaring. It was really hot too.

Luckily, we realised the venue for the gig was a bit away from all the madness and we found a nice cafe to relax in for a a while.

For dinner we went to a small restaurant and had calamari, sardines and manchego cheese. We also had a glass of wine from Washington.

Then we went to Polaris Hall to see Tyler Ramsey (one time member of Band of Horses) and Carl Broemel (from My Morning Jacket). When we got there, there was only 2 other people there! It got busier by the time they played but it was still a very small and intimate show. Really cool. Not something we’d ever get the chance to see in Perth.

After the gig, we caught the bus back to our hotel. That was kind of fun.