Archive for the 'North America' Category

Saturday in Portland

August 16, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are having a nice weekend.

Yesterday was my day off in Portland. I woke up early and walked down to Pine State Biscuits restaurant, about a half hour away. The line was very long so I decided to go elsewhere. WP_20150815_10_52_54_ProI chatted with my sister on the phone and walked up SE Division street. I found a french place and ate quiche for breakfast there. After breakfast, I walked around a bit more and browsed some shops and made it back to my airbnb. I took the car and headed to the Portland Farmer’s Market at PSU. WP_20150815_13_54_22_ProThe market was really cool. I sampled all sorts of local treats, drank a big glass of kombucha, and purchased some salami.

After the farmers market, which closed at 2, I drove to Cannon Beach. The drive took an hour and a half and was beautiful, through the hilly forest. The hills go right up to the coast. I got a little frustrated at the drivers. WP_20150815_15_53_01_ProI wonder if, in Oregon driving school, they teach people that the left lane is a passing lane. The beach was beautiful and the town of Cannon Beach was very cute.

I found a good parking space and walked around the beach. I thought it was going to be too cold to swim (someone mentioned that), so I didn’t bring beach clothes or a towel. But after walking in the water for a little, I couldn’t resist. Swimming in the ocean is one of my favorite activities of all time. So I dropped my bag near a family that looked nice, and went swimming in my undergarments. WP_20150815_15_59_05_Pro I swam right next to Haystack rock. It was so refreshing. I’ve been feeling a little sad and stressed, and this was an instant fix, at least for the rest of the day.

I didn’t spend too long in the water -there’s always a risk that my bag would be stolen. I got out and found a place on the beach without too many people and “changed” in the most appropriate way I could. Then filled my water bottle and drove home. I ate beef jerkey on the ride home and listened to some good radio stations. The drive back felt much shorter than the drive to.

WP_20150816_08_44_53_ProI got home around 7:30 and headed out to dinner, this time in NW Portland at a popular restaurant, Peruvian place called Andino. I got a killer parking space right outside the restaurant and didn’t have to wait at all for a seat at the bar. The food was pretty authentic. When they brought my cebiche, I saw that it didn’t have canchitas on it, the way it is traditionally served in Peru. I told the bartender that the cebiche needed some of these little corn snacks, he brought some right over! Hooray! For dessert, I had a homemade alfajor and got to taste some boozy milkshake because the bartender made too much for someone else.

After dinner, I walked around the Pearl district for a little, and then drove back. I wanted to try this interesting Japanese and Korean bar, but it was closed, so I parked at my airbnb and walked around Belmont street for a little before heading home.

Today I ate a nice breakfast at Cricket cafe, and now am about to leave to go to California. I’ve really enjoyed Portland and home to come back.

Love, Annie

Working days in Portland

August 15, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a productive and fun two days in Portland. WP_20150813_06_09_17_ProYesterday I woke up early and went on a jog through Laurelhurst park, a nice park right near my airbnb. I saw some beautiful scenery and a raccoon, from which I carefully moved away. There were also a lot of people sleeping in the park. For the workday, WP_20150813_12_53_32_Promy first stop was Safeway. I spent all morning at Safeway. After Safeway, I drove to the Pioneer square area where I found more important outlets. I walked through a cool food truck area and ate sushi for lunch. WP_20150813_20_28_12_ProAfter more work in the afternoon, I went to a restaurant called “Ox” for dinner. Ox is Argentinian food x Portland food. It was an excellent meal. I had oysters, squid and octopus salad, house made chorizo, and blistered green beans.

wp_20150814_14_36_09_proToday I woke up early but did not go for a run. I went to a coffee shop for breakfast and work, and then worked all day. In the afternoon I visited the Japanese Gardens and the Rose Gardens on Portland’s west side. Both were excellent. WP_20150814_15_46_54_ProI forgot to mention – for lunch, I went to a restuarant called Harlow that served vegetarian food and smoothies. Someone who worked there called me “ladybug.” I liked that – it was a very welcoming place. They served an item that was priced on a sliding scale because they believe that everyone deserves a warm, organic meal but some people cannot afford the standard bowl. What a cool establishment.

In the evening, I went to a wine bar called Noble Rot, which was recommended by my uncle’s friend. WP_20150814_18_28_48_ProNoble Rot is on the fourth floor of a building and has a great view. I tried a flight of Pinot Noirs and then Rose. For food, I had some Padron peppers (kind of like Shishito peppers – some are spicy – but fatter) and some ricotta cheese toast. A lot of the produce used at Noble Rot (the herbs in the Ricotta AND the peppers, in my meal) is grown on the roof of the building. MM!

Later in the evening, I took a walk back to WP_20150814_21_39_49_ProCascade barrel house to get some dessert beer and ended up trying a few more. I’m really liking Portland with its unisex bathrooms and friendly people. It’s a very easy place to be. Kind of seems like Allston, MA but with wider streets, more respectful people, and cleaner.

Tomorrow I plan to head to a biscuit place for breakfast and then to Cannon beach. Hope you have a nice weekend!

Love, Annie

Banff National Park

August 12, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning I woke up early, did some work, and then had a meeting. Around lunch time, I drove west into the Canadian Rockies to visit Banff National Park. WP_20150811_13_17_38_ProIt takes about an hour and a half to get to Banff National Park from Calgary. I don’t have a car at home so it’s fun to drive on survey. Halfway through the journey I figured out that the car had XM radio. YES!!! I love The Groove (channel 50), 90’s on 9, and Classic Vinyl. On the road, it was extremely exciting to see the mountains in the distance. And even more exciting to be in them.

WP_20150811_15_51_48_ProFirst stop was Banff town (pictured above). It was a very crowded ski town. I had expected it to be a little less crazy, not sure why. I decided to have lunch there and found a pizza and beer place with a patio and sat outside. The pizza had mushrooms and pesto and the beer was a local pale ale. There are a lot of Australians in Banff town. I walked around a tiny bit and then headed west again for Lake Louise (pictured above).

WP_20150811_17_00_08_ProIt was very cool to see Lake Louise for real. It took about a half hour to drive there from Banff town. I did a short hike, one mile up and one mile back, to a lookout. Then I went to the shore and sat for a little. There weren’t many people on the little hike, but there were a lot of people at the shore. Lots of people in RVs. Lake Louise is an interesting color, almost like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

WP_20150811_17_02_38_ProAfter Lake Louise, I went to Moraine Lake (two pictures of Moraine Lake), which was still kind of crowded but much more peaceful. I walked one length of the lake and on the walk filled my water bottle with fast moving water from some streams. After the walk I hung out for a while around the lake. The access road to and from Moraine Lake was fun and winding. My dad would like it as a great motorcycle road.

WP_20150810_20_55_25_ProAfter Moraine Lake I drove back to Calgary. It was already 9 pm by the time I got settled so I decided not to go out for dinner. The lunch pizza a was pretty big anyway. Tomorrow I’ll work in the morning and then head to Portland! This was a short and sweet trip to Canada. Hope all is well with you.

Love, Annie

Back to Calgary

August 11, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope all is well. I’m back in Calgary! It’s the first stop on a short survey. During this trip I’ll also visit Portland OR, San Ramon CA, and San Francisco CA. wp_20150810_18_59_12_proIt’s been four years since I came to Calgary on my first ever survey. I only vaguely remember Calgary from that first survey. I’m much better at navigating cities now having visited ~100 since my last trip here.

I flew out of Boston this morning and transited through Chicago. The layover was only 35 minutes long so there was no time to hang out in O’Hare and I had to sprint across terminal C to catch the flight. The flights were easy. I read last week’s Economist (got to catch up), nodded off pretty hard a few times, and drank tomato juice. wp_20150810_18_59_22_proIn Calgary, the rental car company ran out of GPS units, but I found the airbnb just fine. Going downtown is not that complicated although there was significant traffic.

The airbnb condo is on the 18th floor of a moderately fancy apartment building. It’s clean, it’s bigger and nicer than my apartment at home, and the woman I’m renting from is very good at communication.

I did some work in the afternoon (surveying is not my job now, so I must take care of other work from the road) and then had a good wander. I found a tapas restaurant in the “beltline” district and had dinner. I sat at a bar that faced the street, a perfect vantage point. wp_20150810_20_00_46_proI read and watched people walk by. The best things I had were meatballs and rose sangria.

Midway through the meal looked up the Canadian dollar. I assumed the rate was around 1-1 or 1-1.15. The Canadian dollar is weaker than I imagined (currently 1 USD is nearly 1.3 CAD) so I had a very indulgent meal and even ordered dessert and espresso. Tomorrow I’ll wake up early for work and a meeting.

Love, Annie

Bye, Bentonville!

February 12, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m headed to the airport soon. It’s time to go home! It’s been a great week and a half. IMG_3223In a strange way I feel like this trip has been like a reset button for my mind. I feel like myself again after a half year without being on survey. I had gotten so used to the solo travel routine. Now I’m excited to go home with this renewed sense of self.

Hopefully there won’t be any more delays due to snow. Yesterday was a good day. I finished work and even got to visit the Walmart museum. Conveniently, it was in the square where I went to lunch. IMG_3231Lunch was tacos and iced tea. At the museum, I learned a lot about Sam Walton. Walmart employs about 2.2 million people. The Walmart Museum also has an ice cream shop (pictured below). One of the flavors is “Spark” as in “Walmart Spark” and it’s blue and yellow. Apparently it is sweet cream flavor. I passed.

In the evening, I met up with one of the friends that I made on the first night. IMG_3238We went to Core Brewery tasting room. I drove first to the wrong Core Brewery… the actual brewery, which was a lot further away. It was cool to see, though. When I finally got to the right place, both the beer and conversation were awesome. When I got back to the hotel, I had a salad at the bar and then packed. At the bar I met a guy from Ohio who sells chocolate turtles. What a fun thing to sell.

Love, Annie

Awesome Day in Bentonville

February 10, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Today I was very productive again and most of the work for Bentonville is done. IMG_3213MAYBE I’ll have time to visit the Walmart museum. Today went by very quickly. I spent the morning making phone calls. Around midday, I went to  a meeting with our client that went well and then gave a survey demonstration. I went to an awesome restaurant for dinner. Shamefully I could not finish the entire bottle of beer because I had to drive home. That dish is called High South Poutine. It’s meatloaf on french fries.

Love, Annie

Work and Fun in Northwest Arkansas

February 10, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. So far my time in Bentonville has been fun. The flight from Houston to the Northwest Arkansas airport was easy. IMG_3202I sat next to a guy from Germany who works in the automotive industry and was going to Joplin, Missouri. At the airport I rented a compact car, a Nissan Versa, and have been enjoying zipping around the city in the little Versa. The radio stations are terrible, though.

Last night I worked out and ate at the hotel bar and met some really interesting people. The night was way more fun than expected. We watched the Grammy Awards and talked about music for a long time. Today I was extremely productive. In the evening, I worked out and ate again at the hotel bar.

Love, Annie


December 4, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. I did not go out on survey for work this quarter but still traveled a little. My colleague Alex and I took a trip to Montreal the other weekend. It was really fun! We rented an Airbnb in the old part of town, the Old Port area.

IMG_0435On Friday we started off with some car issues and left a bit later than we had hoped. We stopped in Waterbury, VT for dinner at a restaurant called Prohibition Pig, which was awesome. We arrived at our apartment around 11 pm and almost immediately headed out to the bars. 20141122_150133It was really cold the first night, the kind of cold that makes your ears feel like they might snap off. At each bar, the bartenders we very nice looking. By two in the morning, the bartenders were getting so drunk and sloppy that they screwed up our drinks. We had amazing Poutine and there was dancing on the top of the bar!

20141122_172311The next day, we ate a brunch and had a walk up Mount Royal. The views were awesome and it wasn’t that cold. In the afternoon, I walked around some galleries. It started to rain, and by evening it was snowing pretty hard. We started off our evening at a fancy cigar lounge – I smoked a cigar and had a whisky flight. 20141122_180809Across the street from the cigar lounge was a ping pong bar (NOT the kind of ping pong bar they have in Thailand). We had a few whisky sours and played a few games of ping pong then foosball. I am a decent ping pong player but Alex is an incredible player so I lost.

20141122_165619 (1)After the ping pong club, we went to a bar with REALLY weird drinks called Le Lab. One of our drinks had beef jerky in it. Very innovative. After those drinks, we went out for fondue 🙂

The next morning we woke up SO late, 15 minutes before we were supposed to check out, and had to get an extension on our check-out time. eek. 20141122_150534When we walked out to the car, we saw that it was towed – we didn’t take into account the 24 hour clocks when we parked it on Friday night so the car was towed at four that morning. The pickup was surprisingly easy. We drove home and stopped in Burlington for lunch at American Flatbread. It was delicious but I was extremely tired of cheese at this point. All in all, it was an awesome weekend, and Airbnb is really easy.

Anne and BubbieOn another note:

My most devoted reader, my Bubbie, recently passed away. The picture to the left is of her and me. She really liked this blog and every post I’ve ever written has, in part, been for her. She was like a second mother to me and taught me so many life lessons. I miss her and I am excited to honor her as I use these skills and have the right attitude every day!!

Love, Annie

Saint John Continued

August 29, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday and Today have been pretty solid. Some highlights: First, I found this granola. Guess there aren’t really any questions about what it’s supposed to do for you.

Yesterday, Sunday, it was hurricane-ing. I had originally planned to go to the beach for my day off but quickly realised that was not my best option. Instead, I drove up to Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. It was about an hour north, but took me longer than that to drive there because of the heavy rains and winds.

When I got there, it was still pouring, so I wandered a little but it wasn’t the most enjoyable wandersperience, so I went back to Saint John. Glad I saw it at least!

I ate dinner at a place called Thandi’s where I watched Women’s Golf and where the server was very interested in me as he is obsessed with travelling and will be going to Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras for two and a half months on his own, Next Week!

I watched Confessions of A Shopaholic last night and found it increasingly stupid. But it was on. I watched The King’s Speech the night before. That was Awesome. I had never seen it before.

Today I worked for a while, and in the evening ate dinner back at Grannan’s where I got my salad even more garlicky than last time (mom, i think by the time you pick me up from the airport the smell will be gone…  at least I hope because im looking forward to a nice hug) and watched a nice performance of “So You Think You Can Dance Saint John” competition that was going on outside. I tried to capture the scene:

This was taken from my table at the restaurant but I am standing up to get a better angle. There were a lot of kids doing extremely sexy dances to what I thought were inappropriate songs for kids that age to dance to. They were very good dancers, but I was shocked when the announcer said, “… and Michaela is Ten years old and studies dance at such and such” TEN?? Damn. On the whole, it was all very entertaining.

Now I am getting ready to go to bed, preparing for my last full day of this month’s survey. Heading home on Wednesday 🙂


Super Saint John Saturday

August 27, 2011

Ohh haaayyy Family and Friends,

Another great day in Saint John. I got up and got some “speedball” coffee from the local coffee shop. Nothing illegal, they say it just has extra caffeine. Pretty tasty. Then I went to check out the City Market. Thinking it was just a regular grocery store, I was surprised to find:

A cool farmer’s market of sorts! I spent the rest of the day working, and was able to get a lot done. By around 6:30, I had had enough, so I went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.

For dinner, I went to a place called Grannan’s to get some seafood. I sat outside looking at the waterfront and listening to some live music … not bad. I got fish and chips and Caesar salad. When I ordered the salad, the server asked, “since we make it from scratch, what level of garlic hotness do you want?” One of the benefits of being alone is that I could say “super strong…the most garlicky you can make it!” :).

It was great. After dinner, I walked around and ended up in a funny candy store called Freak Lunchbox. They played dance music in there and have hilarious candy items. Now, I think i’m going to watch The Town. Hope everyone had a nice day.