~ a shitty photo tour ~

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It started as a simple road trip—San Fransisco to Seattle and back. Little did I know, I was about to embark on a drive that would change my afternoon forever. I had never been to Seattle before so Hana (yes, Mom. A girl...) and I planned to spend the week there sight-seeing. The drive out of the bay was only somewhat more than non-eventful. Which isn’t to say that there weren’t events, but it would suffice to say that the events that took place were neither eventful nor noteworthy. The few pictures that follow should be treated as plot devices that convey that we were actually in a moving vehicle traveling from one place to another and that we did not immediately arrive in the first place that could accurately be qualified as an eventful, noteworthy setting.


The first sight that caught my eye was the lonely Mt. Shasta. Standing at an elevation of 14,179 feet (that’s over 14,150 feet!), Mr. Shasta is far taller than other nearby mountains. Mt. Shasta is an active volcano, though because it hasn’t erupted in nearly 300 years, some of the residents in the nearby town of Redding have no memory of the eruption. On our drive past Shasta, we saw lots of barren trees like the one pictured below. The pamphlet that we got at the information center said that the trees used to be lifelike and full of leaves, but the last eruption killed most of them. The surviving trees became depressed, and not seeing the point in photosynthesizing any longer, let their branches sag lifelessly. Let this be a lesson to you. Speak up against your local volcanoes before they come for your loved ones!


The next stop on our fantabulous journey was Crater Lake in Oregon. Crater Lake is a landform so mysterious that even the lake itself doesn’t know how it got there. Some scientists hypothesize that the lake was formed by an asteroid, while others hypothesize that humans evolved from monkeys. I was so confused after the visitor’s center that I didn’t know what to believe! Since we went to Crater Lake in the early summer, it was still winter there so snow was still on the ground.

It’s quite a sight. Here is the view from the place where I took this picture!

Most of the hiking trails were closed due to the summer snow, but fortunately, Smokey Bear and the park rangers were up all night hand-shoveling out one of the roads so that we could go for a walk. The snow was piled really high at the roadside and I later discovered that all that hand-shoveling was done by hand with a bulldozer.


Despite most peoples’ claims that Portland is the “Birmingham of the Northwest”, I actually found it to be quite charming. There’s a ton of interesting street art and there seems to be a big interest in sustainability. The trash cans have holes in the top for soda bottles and cans so that if you don’t want to finish your drink, you can just leave it for someone else. It’s a great way to reduce waste. Also, they have these nifty unicycles. I couldn’t tell how to ride them, but my best guess was rather explicit and painful sounding. I also saw some street art of some poor woman trapped inside a vending machine. I was going to let her out, but I didn’t have any paint for quarters.

Breakfast was really great. We went to a cåfé on Alberto Street. I ordered the a smoked salmon and potatoes dish. It was really tasty. Much to my surprise, a celebrity was in our midst! I could hardly believe my eyes, but there he was! Michael Moore himself, clearly working his next controversial documentary. We ate quickly and left (but not before I snapped this picture!) so as not to disturb his delicate genius. We wondered around Portland for the better part of a day and saw lots of fun things including a book store, a carnival, and a restaurant that served customizable footlong sandwiches!


Seattle at last! Many of you will recognize Seattle as the set from the TV show, “Frasier”. Since then, the residential areas have become quite popular and they’ve even got all the essentials of an up-and-coming metropolis. The first thing that caught my eye in Seattle is that it has a Mt. Shasta of it’s own! Hana explained to me that it’s also a volcano, but that to the locals it is known as Mt. Reindeer. My traveler’s guide didn’t mention Mt. Reindeer even once, so I think it’s one of those things that people just take for granted. I, being the tourist that I am, was captivated by its grand stature. I spent the rest of the day exploring the city and gawking at the native Seattlers.

I snapped this nice picture of Hana next to Mt. Reindeer.

Perhaps the most impressive structure that I saw around town was the Space Needle. Though it was one of the tallest buildings I’ve ever seen, I have my doubts that it is suitable for space flight. Our tour guide said that people eat dinner at the top, but it seems kind of impractical, since the McDonald’s at the bottom was open 24 hours a day. After some choice samplings of the local dollar menu, we went down to the Market District to check out some of the exotic foods that Seattle had to offer. There were lots of seafood restaurants. Juar’s “Acres of Clams” restaurant seemed like a popular choice, but we were still stuffed from the chicken nuggets. We walked by a small mom and pop operation called Starbucks that seemed to really be doing well for itself. Their mascot is apparently a harlot mermaid, and not wanting to take part in that sort of smut, we kept walking. After about an hour of wandering, I finally found something that spoke to me: a man that entertained the crowd by balancing tomatoes on his face. Unfortunately, I was too shy to respond.

I like to think of myself as a fellow who has an awareness of the arts, so I jumped at the chance to check out the Cthulhu Glass Garden. I knew that glass can be used to make things like windshields and beer bottles, but I had never seen it used so creatively. Glass of all the colors of the rainbow and of all of shapes and sizes arranged in so many ways! The woman that worked at the glass museum said that it takes an entire museum of glass to sell as many tickets as they do in a day.

Perhaps the most unique piece of Seattle’s rich history is the gum wall. I was put off by the name when I first arrived because it’s actually more of a gum alley. Pieces of gum of all different colors and creeds gathered together in a single location and working towards a common goal of being a source of disgust for the elderly. Truly an admirable goal. I’m proud to say I did my part and chewed a few pieces of the gum wall! Hana later scolded me for this because the gum wall has germs and I should know better.

As the day drew closer to evening, we went to visit Gas Works park where people come to relax, fly kites, and to pass the ceremonial college throwing disc. My favorite kite was the dragon, that was flown by the dead guy from Weekend At Bernie’s. Truly an inspiration. We also saw one of those posters that people hang when they’ve lost their beloved kitten, except the poster was for nipples instead of kittens. Apparently Seattle has recently become victim to a fierce plague of nipple theft. Needless to say, I wore layers from that point on. I saw local law enforcement hanging out by the park, but instead of investigating the nipple shortage, they were nowhere to be found. Thanks, Obama.


The following day, we drove out of town a little to see some other famous spots. Those who are familiar with the 90’s cult classic television series “All in the Family” will immediately recognize the next two scenes. Sitting at the top of the impressive Snoqualmiedaddy Falls is the Great Northern Hotel, however, Archie Bunker’s famous chair was nowhere to be found! Next, we went to the Double R diner for lunch. It felt a little surreal to be sitting in a diner from a TV show, but we made ourselves at home and ordered a slice of their famous blackberry pie. After all that excitement, it was time to relax so we went to sit beside a nearby lake. I found a nice place to sit where I pondered the mysteries of life and drank the salty lake water.


Eventually it was time to leave the great state of Seattle and head home. We decided to drive the coastal road a little bit. I was reminded of our nation’s great history as we drove past Dismal Nitch and Cape Disappointment, part of the Lewis and Clark State Park. Just over two centuries ago, brave explorers Huey Lewis and Buddy Clark may have hiked right underneath my feet! Of course, prior to their journey, this whole area was known as Louisiana. Clark actually noted in his journals that the water at the cape was, in his own words, “far bluer than I have ever observed”. Since they were searching for diamonds and not blue water, they named the area “Cape Disappointment”. We drove across the bridge to Oregon to a land forgotten in time: a small town called Astoria. They still practice the long forgotten art of buying things at Radioshack. I really felt like a part of history as the world I know has all but forgotten that name.

The pacific highway is a sight for sore eyes! And a reminder not to get sunscreen in them.


On the way back home, Hana suggested I was too sleepy to drive, but too driving to drink so we went to Shasta Caverns. What an exciting little place. We had to take a boat and a bus to get there as it is way up in the mountains. On the way there, we saw a baby being held up in the air. Could this be the rise of the prophesied baby king? Or possibly the start of a ritual sacrifice?? Either way, I wanted to see what was causing such strange behavior in the locals. Outside of the cave entrance was a large black bear that I had to get a photo with.

The caves were unlike anything I had seen before. They were almost not even comparable to binge watching House for an entire weekend. We learned a lot of interesting facts from the tour guide. According to him, he gives up to 4 tours a day unless they’re understaffed. Also, he didn’t work the next day so that day was kind of like Friday for him.

This is the last room of the tour, called the Chandelier Room. The name is meant to be ironic, there are no chandeliers. You may be wondering if these caves are actually as large as they look in the picture. I think it’s fair to say that it depends how close you get to the pictures.

I made this pianorama from a bunch of different photos. If you turn your head sideways and pretend you’re looking straight up, you’ll know what it’s like to have others stare at you.


We arrived home late in the afternoon, but still early enough that it wasn’t the early evening. I have so many people that I would like to thank for this trip. First, I’d like to thank that gentleman in Oregon who put gas in my car and also my mother for giving birth to me. Finally, thanks to the Country Pride restaurant for all-you-can-eat croutons. See you next time!

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