Driving Vancouver Island’s Eastern Coast


The comfort in exploring an island by car comes in knowing one cannot too easily get lost, and that if it happens, by all means keep driving and you’ll soon become un-lost again.

I meandered north along the eastern edge of Vancouver Island, departing from Nanaimo, and found myself facing sheets of rain. The forecast had predicted the weather, which ranged from drizzle to downpour, but after a few years of living in Southern California I’d forgotten how quickly one can become rain-drenched if not prepared. Upon re-learning this lesson I know once again it is two seconds less than the time it takes to run from parking space to coffee shop door.

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Destination: Discovery Park, Washington

Discovery Park, Seattle, Washington

As one goes north in the summer, the hue of water deepens until it becomes an opaque, sometimes cobalt blue that in winter can silently change and appear more gray than anything, and as winter is long in northern climes, the gray can last for several months.

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Destination: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Looking at Seattle from the Bainbridge Island ferry

Seattle is no cookie cutter city. It boasts more than its fair share of specialties, including unrivaled seafood and the rise of an eclectic dining scene in recent years, plus several lakes (most notably Lake Washington and Lake Union), parks and fairly distinct neighborhoods. Consider the following quintessential activities during your trip:

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Driving Portland to Seattle

Entering Washington state via the bridge that connects Portland, OR to Vancouver, WA, two cities divided by the Columbia River

Entering Washington state via the bridge that connects Portland, OR to Vancouver, WA, two cities divided by the Columbia River

Describing Washington, my state of origin, simulates describing an ex to someone who might want to date them, in that I simultaneously warn them of the bad parts while throwing in a “but you might really like it!” and a “I hope it works out for you!” Love is subjective, is it not?

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Nearly Napa Valley


I was fine enough to leave San Francisco behind. Being on the road and in such expanses of nature for so long makes cities feel like uncomfortable and unnecessarily hard places. All the symmetry and the gray is unnatural and in longer durations unsettling to a human like me who has tasted the wild.

And so, the Oakland Bay Bridge drew me northeast out of the city, and after some time I neared Napa Valley.

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Driving “The Peninsula” of California

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Two weeks ago, I learned that I should call this part of California “The Peninsula.” Quick definition: it’s everything on the peninsular land around San Francisco, except for the city itself.

From Monterey I drove toward and through Santa Cruz. There, I saw the first Safeway in months, a reminder of my northward journey. In Southern California, these stores are named Vons, though they’re laid out in the same fashion and sell the same products. Both logos are cherry red and white, but after staring at the Vons sign for a few years Safeway now feels less polished. Anything outside of Southern California, once you’ve been there for some time, feels less polished, no?

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