Travel Far, Eat Local
Two Weeks in the Pacific Northwest: Seattle to Monterey
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
I'll admit, this was a powerful trip for me, in the sense that it had a powerful impact on me. Like so many other travelers around the globe, my spring/summer travel plans evaporated along with my social life when COVID reared its nasty head on US soil last winter. Portugal, Myanmar, and Thailand were on the agenda.... nope. Life has a funny way of things, at times. You can plan as much as you want, but in the end, what will be will be.
Secondary attempts at planning trips to Vietnam, Malaysia, Georgia (Republic of) were smashed to pieces as countries around the world maintained strict border lockdowns and visa bans well into the spring months. Secondarily, I began to question my desire for travel anyway... should I actually be traveling half-way around the world right now? Is that the moral thing to do, especially as millions of people worldwide have seen their incomes disintegrate along with their careers and livelihoods?
However, we all have different motivations for traveling. I have several, generally centered around learning about food/cooking methods in distant cultures and far-away lands. Yet, on this occasion, I simply needed a break. Not necessarily a vacation, per se, as I generally abhor that word, as it implies we travel to sit, do nothing, vegetate. Nonetheless, for some people, that is a wholly reasonable thing to do, and who am I to say otherwise? But for me, vacationing was never something I found interesting nor pleasurable.
But... this time around, after having one of the most difficult years of my life for a number of reasons, these two weeks had profound meaning for me, and it became more about traveling. It became a respite, a time for reflection, and the answer to my moral dilemma was simply this: I had to go somewhere, see new places and people, and take time for myself.
Which brings me to the Pacific Northwest. After deeming international travel a far-gone pipe dream for summer 2020, I set my sights on traveling domestically within the USA. I set out planning a variety of trips to parts of my country I've yet to visit... the Deep South, starting in Jackson, Mississippi; Nashville, Tennessee; or the upper midwest and Montana. I settled on a trip I've kind of always wanted to take anyway -- driving the pacific coast from Seattle to San Francisco (in my case, I went a bit further south to Monterey and Big Sur, CA). My hope was to spend a good chunk of this trip outside of cities, doing some camping in national parks as a means of maintaining social distancing. Of course, I'd never been to Seattle or San Fran, so I would need to spend some time exploring those cities. So, I booked a ticket to Seattle, home from San Fran, and off I went.
Without hesitation, I will say the scenery and natural beauty in this part of the world are unparalleled. The northern pacific coast, specifically from southern Oregon straight down to Monterey is stunning. It is so breathtakingly beautiful that simply writing does not give it justice; majestic, awe-inspiring, incomprehensible are adjectives that come to mind.
This blog is about food, travel, and the intersection between them. My goal in starting this was to help other people who are walking around Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, or Medellin find local food that can be onerous to sniff out when traveling, because I've been in that situation many times. Yet, this trip was not that. I did do some fine eating in the PNW, but many, many restaurants/bars/breweries/street vendors/coffee shops were closed for COVID. And that's ok.. they should be, especially now as we are seeing big surges in cases from Florida to Texas.
In the coming days, I will be publishing multiple posts about my trip in a series-like fashion... the actual road-trip itself, Seattle, San Francisco, and Monterey/Carmel-by-the-Sea/Big Sur. There will also be a series of videos I will be publishing on YouTube over the next several weeks, the first time I've tried my hand at any sort of video editing (should be interesting). Let this post serve as an introduction to one of the greatest adventures of my adult traveling life.