A Norwegian, bears, and a High School reunion

The road has taken us further up the west coast, into the state of Washington. We’ve enjoyed some solid fun-packed days here now.

The first thing we did when we got here was picking up a friend of ours at Sea-Tac airport who’s come over from Norway to visit. His name’s Audun, and he’s going to be travelling with us for a couple of weeks. Then, we linked up with a friend of mine from High School (I had a year as an exchange student down in Harrisburg, Oregon). My friend from High School is named Peter. So we stayed with him and his wife Sydney for a few days, we had an awesome time.

One of the highlights was a hike we did in the area around Lake Wallace. It was a beautiful sunny day in the forest. Washington is nicknamed the Evergreen State, and the forest in the area we hiked surely lives up to the name.

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We passed by some nice waterfalls on the 21 km hike.

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Here’s the gang, catching their breath 🙂

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But the absolutely extraordinary experience of the hike came towards the end. We were hiking along a gravel road and came around a bend, when all of a sudden we spotted a black bear with two cubs! The distance was about 70 meters! They turned around and looked at us for a second, then they ran off into the woods. We were thrilled to have seen them, if only for a few seconds. Anyway, we kept on hiking down the road, and after ten minutes the bears reappeared on the road! This time a little further away but it was definitely the same mommy bear with the two cubs. We kept our distance to them and tried to be quiet despite our high level of excitement. Naturally, one needs to be careful when encountering a bear with cubs, as getting between the mother and her kids could have been catastrophic. But they didn’t seem to mind us too much, they just trotted along down the road in front of us for about a minute, then they disappeared into the woods again. This was my second bear encounter in under a week, and I can only say wow, this was something really special. To see a bear from the car was amazing, but to meet a bear with two cubs out in in the forest qualifies as magical 🙂 Here’s the evidence, although you might need to put your specs on 😉

Black bear with cubs (2)

Up the coast

After having such a good time in San Francisco for a week, we drove further up the American west coast.

A highlight along the drive was the redwoods in northern California. These ancient giants which can grow more than one hundred meters tall and become up to 2.000 years old, are surely worth a closer look. We made a stop in Redwood National Park and did a nice little hike for about an hour and a half.

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Only 5% of the original redwoods are still intact, the rest have fallen victim to aggressive lumbering over the years. Preserving the last ones is such an important task, and the state and national parks are really doing a good job. The redwoods are after all the largest trees on the planet, so it’d be a terrible shame if they were lost. One truly feels tiny when walking among these giants. Mindblown in such a good way 🙂

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We also found this nice riverbed when hiking in the redwoods. And as you can tell by the blue skies, we picked a good day to do the hike (the redwoods don’t get that big without a lot of rain).

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Another highlight occured shortly after we drove into Oregon. We were cruising along when all of a sudden a black bear ran across the road in front of our car! We had to hit the breaks a bit to allow it free access to pass, and the encounter was over in a few seconds, but how exciting! I’ve never seen a bear in the wild before, so this was really something special. Very happy with my share of luck right there 🙂 Got no photo of the bear though as it was much too fast for that, so I’ll just wrap up this post with a photo I shot along the Oregonian coast. It’s a nice drive coming up Highway 1 and 101. Definitely qualifies as a scenic drive.

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San Francisco

The road has taken us up the Californian coast, to San Francisco. It’s my fourth time here, and there’s a reason why I keep coming back. I reckon it’s one of the nicest American cities. Love the certain style of neighbourhoods that is so prominient around the city, it’s fairly safe here (except from a few shady areas downtown), there’s heaps of things to do, and the geographical location provides fresh air from the sea on a daily basis.

Furthermore, got really lucky with the choice of accommodation this time. Found this hostel up at Fort Mason (close to Fisherman’s wharf), which is essentially an old army barrack which has been transformed into a fine shelter for wanderers and globetrotters. Great location, friendly staff, clean enough, and reasonable prices. Look for this hostel next time you’re in town!

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The hostel also offers the occasional organized trip. Such as the other day, we rented bikes and went riding across the Golden Gate. By the way, did you know that the American Army wanted to paint it black and yellow and call it Bumble Bee bridge? Wonder if this landmark would have been equally famous if that had been the outcome? 😉

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Here’s the gang from the hostel giving their spinners a break after crossing Golden Gate. We then had lunch down by the water and took the ferry back.

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On the ferry back, a funny episode occured. A fellow working on the ferry picked up that I spoke Norwegian, as he knew a little. We started chatting, and then it turns out his wife is from the same valley in Norway that my mom is from, Gausdal. This made my new friend, Karl, very excited! He had been to Gausdal several times and could name several places there I know of, such as Svingvold, and it even turned out I know some people he does. Karl’s wife had lived in Gausdal until she was twelve years old, and Karl called her up for me to talk Norwegian with her. Pretty hilarious, I found. In addition I was invited in to meet the Captain of the ferry. Quite a scene, and a most enjoyable acquaintance. We ended up taking a photo together 🙂

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I’ve also been exploring the city a bit on my own, such as yesterday when I walked over to Telegraph Hill. Went up to see the Coit Tower, pictured here:

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The walk up to the tower is rather steep, but as often, the view is worth the climb. Here overlooking downtown on this fine sunny day.

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Trestles

The last few days have been spent in the Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach area. Yesterday we went to check out a surf spot called Trestles, located about an hour south of LA. Trestles is said to be one of the most consistent spots in all of North America. Therefore, I’m very happy to report that it lived up to our expectations 🙂

Trestles consists of several peaks spread out along a long stretch of beach, namely Church, Middles, Lower, Upper, and Cotton. I went out in between Middles and Lower (Eivind gave Lower a go). It was only me and a couple of good fellows from Florida out there, the wind was calm, and fun size waves of about 2-4 feet kept rolling in on a pretty regular basis. The only partly gnarly part is that the bottom is made up of round rocks, and with only waist deep water some places, one shouldn’t ride the waves too close to the shore. But it turned out to be a great session, I was able to catch a decent number of waves, and had a blast out there. So, I put together another video. Chose the Norwegian band Donkeyboy to accompany the GoPro clips this time, a song called Silver Moon.

Pacific Beach

Following Ocean Beach we moved just a few miles up the road to another part of San Diego, called Pacific Beach. PB is a little bigger than OB, and has more things going on, such as a pretty steaming nightlife. It also offers good surf, and we had three days in a row with very similar conditions (fun size surf around 2-3 feet). All three sessions took place around sunset, and afterwards I started playing around with the GoPro videos in Movie Maker, and ended up creating this short film. Music by Norwegian electronica artist Todd Terje, a song called Inspector Norse 🙂

Ocean Beach II

Yep, still in Ocean Beach (OB). Found such good vibes here, so we decided to stick around for a while. One reason being the hostel we’re staying at, the Ocean Beach International Hostel. It has a great location, friendly staff, and we met a lot of good people here. The staff is also great at organizing events, such as yoga, bike rides, pub crawls, and bonfires on the beach. So if you’re ever going to OB, check out this colorful hostel:

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In addition, every Wednesday it’s farmers market in the street right outside the hostel (Newport Ave) from 4pm – 8pm. Definitely worth a closer look, with tons of tasty food, clothes etc, and a homemade atmosphere to it.

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So we’ve been hanging out in the OB neighbourhood, and been going to the beach for surfing, pretty much every day. The surf hasn’t been great, but all in all it’s been okay. The size has been good, in the range between 3 and 5 feet, but it’s been a little messy out there. Waves are closing out, and it can be pretty tricky to read where they will peak. On the upside, the crowd has been relatively small. It’s been good practice though, and every once in a while I’ve caught a nice one. Here’s the money shot 🙂

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I’d like to add that there’s heaps of seaweed at OB, especially close to the shore. When you paddle out, it almost feels like you’re floating through a field of grass. Every paddlestroke you take you feel the seaweed with your hands. I got used to it pretty fast, it’s just part of the environment out there. Besides, it makes for a fun beard 😉

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Thought I’d wrap up this post with a few clips from the last days, so you can get a glimpse of the highlights.

I shot this final clip as I was heading back to shore after doing a sunset session. In surfing there’s a term called transport. That’s when you bodyboard on a wave back to shore. I was really lucky with this one, it took me all the way! So, saved me from having to paddle back to the beach 😉

Ocean Beach

The adventure continues, and we have moved on from Hawaii to California. Currently staying in Ocean Beach, San Diego. It’s a chill neighbourhood down by the beach.

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What’s more, I’ve bought a new board. Well, not exactly new, more like second or third or maybe even tenth hand. The point being one can definitely tell it has been used, it’s a little banged up. But it’s still definitely surf-worthy. The dimensions are: 6’6 long, 20 3/4 wide, and 2 5/8 thick. The eager reader will notice that I’m gradually going down in size. If you remember the old board I traded off in Australia, it was 7’4, 22, and 2 3/4. It’s a sign of improvement that I can go down in size and still catch waves, as a bigger board is usually easier to get up on. I do feel like I picked up my game a couple of marks in Hawaii, so here’s to improvement, however slow it may be 😉

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I feel like the dealer I bought it from, Coconut Pete’s, deserves a shoutout. The price for the board with fins, new pad, new leash, basecoat, and wax came to a total of $172,- That’s a pretty freaking fair price right there.

I’ve gone out with the board three times so far. All the sessions have been right down the road, at Ocean Beach. It’s been fairly small, like 3-4 feet, maybe 5 on a few occasions. The wind has been moderate, but it has been a little bumpy out there, and the interval between the swells has been a little short, so clean waves are hard to come by. Perhaps that’s why the crowd has been almost non-existent, which is a big plus. There are definitely fun waves coming through every now and then though.

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As mentioned in my previous post, the Pacific ocean claimed my GoPro in Hawaii. Therefore I had to buy a new one, working with the GoPro is too much fun to cheap out on. Went for the GoPro 4 Silver Edition this time, an upgrade from my old 3 Black Edition. Today I took it out for the first time. Believe you me, I made sure that thing was SECURELY attached! The results are absolutely satisfying, it shoots crystal clear videos. Here are a couple of samples, the first one from a wave I caught right by the pier.

And here’s another one, had the pleasure of riding this wave a bit longer 🙂