If you are vegan for more than for more than five minutes, you will have a burning desire to go to Portland. Although it is not the biggest city in the US, it is seriously vegan friendly. It has many vegan only restaurants and even the omnivore ones can veganise most items on their menus. It is a seriously liberal town with all sorts of cool stuff going on especially in social justice and environmental issues. They say (I don’t know who says it but I have heard before_ that Portland is about 10 years ahead of all other cities. It’s bike friendly, public transportation is free in the city centre and cheap elsewhere, it has totally awesome festivals (we were there as Pride week was finishing up and we discovered that the world’s largest naked bike ride happened the night before we arrived)
We crossed in to Oregan state and checked in to a hotel and spent the whole afternoon exploring.
We started off with lunch at Veggie Grill.
It has about 12 branches in Western US and Seb was in total heaven as it was his kind of comfort food. Then we walked around Old City and Chinatown passing all the Pride parties. We sat in the park by the side of the river watching these big built heavily tattooed guys throwing up cheerleader types in some sort of amazing acrobatic feat. Dinner was at a slightly hippie yogaish macrobiotic raw place called Prasad.
Seb grumbled about going there, but he must have bee hungry as he ate two plates of raw crackers and sauce. Walking again through the city until we reached the tram the sun was getting low and there was the most beautiful light, again something I haven’t seen for such a long time.
I ate the most carby protein breakfast ever of fried potatoes, tempeh and biscuits and gravy. For the non—American this might sound (and feels to me too) a little weird. In the US it seems to be acceptable to have cake for breakfast, it is also considered normal to have biscuits (which are indeed scones or dry dumplings with gravy slathered all over them). I liked it, and I could get used to it, but it does feel a little bit too much like a traditional Sunday lunch. Paradox was located in the suburb of Belmount. We walked around for a while. We also headed to a very exciting place. The world’s first Vegan Strip mall.
It’s a small complex that has a bakery, tattooist, vegan grocery and clothing company. In Food Fight we picked up some of Field Roast’s deli meats, granola bars, the latest newest vegan cheese to try, coconut milk creamer and yet more raw kale chips. In Herbivore I splurged and bought myself a couple of awesome tshirts and a new handbag and wallet.
We headed up to Whole Foods to buy some bits and bobs for our 3 day stay in state parks and in the WF carpark there was a veggie hotdog stand. Seb almost punched himself in the face with excitement.
For lunch we had planned to head over to the vegan cookbook writer Julie Hasson’s food cart called The Native Bowl. I wanted to tell her how much I admired her wonderful recipes. Those people on the 30 Day Vegan Challenge will probably remember how blown away they were with her incredible sausage invention as well as her Choco Choc chip ice-cream recipe from The Vegan Diner. Sadly though, it wasn’t open, yet her husband was there doing some food cart maintenance. What a lovely guy! We chatted and I gushed about how her recipes were appreciated in Jakarta and how I liked her work. He promised to pass it on and gave is a choc chip macaroon. Dilemma? What to have for lunch? Oh, not to worry, there a highly veg friendly restaurant called The Laughing Planet just two blocks down the road.
With a heavy heart we left Portland (a place where people like me are normal!!) and headed to the coast and headed south. The scenary was gorgeous. It was a bit like the Great Ocean Road in Ausralia except sadly, the weather was not great and pictures were pants. We camped in one of the coastal state forests near the sandunes where we cooked mac and cheese, vegie sausages, salad with cherries for dessert.
Waking up the next day was a bit of a comedy of errors. First of all it was raining which diminishes camping enjoyment somewhat. We did our best to pack up the tent yet while I was in the shower, all hell broke loose. I came back and Seb was looking sulky and he announced that he thought he had broken his toe kicking a cement block. Upon looking at it, it certainly seemed like it was pointing in a funny direction. Was it broken or just dislocated? Normally of course one would head to the emergency room but we were in a dilemma, as we didn’t really know if Seb’s insurance was going to cover it. Should we attempt a toe manipulation ourselves to save the cash? The interweb suggested it was possible. Much (and far from informative) discussion with the insurance company later and still no clearer as to whether Seb’s insurance would cover it we headed to the emergency room terrified that the whole ordeal might cost a gazillion dollars. We mentioned to the triage nurse that we wanted to keep the bill down, also to the lady that registered us. She asked us so many questions related to not only ourselves but every aspect of Seb’s accident. It really felt like we were being questioned by the police. The registrar was surprisingly cagey about the whole cost thing. I kept on asking if there was anyway we could know the costs ahead of time so we could see what was going on. Apparently no. It’s impossible to do that. I told her that this process didn’t feel very empowering. She looked and me and said “That’s right. There’s no empowerment for the patient in medicine” I got a real sense of what it must be like for uninsured in the US and I guess anywhere where you are not covered for healthcare.The most jovial doctor took an xray and confirmed it was broken and manipulated it in to the right place (Seb was very stoic during what must have been incredibly painful). He was a cranky pants for a little while due to the fact that this toe was going to impede our hardcore hiking plans. We pulled out his credit card to pay and they informed us that we would receive the bill in the mail. We still don’t know how much it is.
We headed south and via a short stop at an Elk Plain. Roosevelt Elk numbers were as low as 15 in the 1920s due to hunting. Their numbers are much improved now and it was such a joy to see the majestic elk grazing. Luckily their numbers are much more improved now. I had no idea that male elks shed their antlers at the beginning of spring. What must their protein requirements be to grow a huge pair of antlers every year? I have no idea, but it must be a lot!
By lunch, the weather had cleared and we stopped for lunch by a beautiful lake. I made Pastrami Reuben sandwiches with Field Roast’s lentil deli meats and a new non-dairy cheese by Galaxy Nutritional foods and which I heard reviewed by the ladies at Our Hen House a few weeks ago. It was by far the best non-dairy cheese I’ve tasted. I truly believe that no one could tell the difference between this grilled cheese and the regular dairy stuff. Look out for it, if you miss dairy cheese and need a replacement. I have to say that all of these technological advances in meat and dairy substitutes really excite me. While most vegans don’t really care about having real meat substitutes, having viable alternatives for meat and dairy eaters might help them make different choices which would be fantastic for the animals. I wonder what it will be like 10 years from now. A realistic non-animal derived steak? We can dream!!
An hour or so later, we hit the coast and it was so lovely driving through small towns (and crossing the border in to California).
We camped in one of the Redwood State Parks surrounded by these old giant trees. I was a little edgey about the bears but slept soundly.
In the morning, we had a visit from a squirrel. As you can see he was heading straight for the sealed granola. Squirrels are not stoopid and they know what they like and what incredible senses of smell they have!
Our drive was stunning. We stopped and did some short walks through the Redwood forest before finishing the day near Westport California.
Last thing and top tip for camping recipe. Our dinner last night; South Western Quinoa Soup.