I know parts of the East Coast like the back of my hand.
My travels have taken me from Florida to Maine, but my area of expertise lies between New York City and Boston. From my favorite stores in the Big Apple (one of them: Pearl River Mart in SoHo) to one of the most beautiful inns I've ever explored on the coast of the Atlantic, there are plenty of places I've been lucky to experience in the Northeast.
And of course, there's Madison, my home-away-from-home.
All of these treasured places, experiences and people have made me a solid resource on all things New England, but when it comes to the West Coast, I got nothing.
Wine Country, the sublime always-in-the-70s weather of San Diego, the bright lights and glitter of Los Angeles, the progressive attitude of Seattle - it's all foreign to me.
Sure, I've seen the glossy postcards before, and the scenic, celebrity-laden shots in movies and in television. I've heard stories from friends and family about these spectacular destinations, but I've never had a chance to walk the paces and sip the tastes on my own.
That's all about to change, though.
I'm hopping on a plane and heading West to explore a bit of the unknown. I haven't spent much of my own vacation time exploring this beautiful nation of ours, and so I thought I'd get in some sightseeing while visiting D Money over the New Years holiday.
My adventure starts out in San Francisco - that glittery gem on the Bay.
I have a short list of things I want to do, including walk across Golden Gate Bridge, take a boat cruise in the Bay, check out City Lights Book Store - the mecca of the Beat movement. I've also been directed to swing by Dottie's True Blue Cafe and The House of Nanking when making my dining excursions (actually, my friend Freeman says he won't speak to me again if I fail to hit up these two restaurants).
I'm also hoping I get to check out Bourbon and Branch, one of SF's not-so-secret speakeasys.
On New Year's Eve, I'll fly from California to Eugene, OR to see D Money and savor the beauty of the Willamette Valley. I don't really know what to expect or explore, but I know D will do a spectacular job of showing me this new place she calls home.
After a few days in Eugene, we'll make a trek to Portland, where I am dying to ride on a streetcar (uh, hello, Cincinnati). I haven't done much research on travel suggestions in Portland, but I fully expect to be amazed by this town that is both incredibly progressive and yet protective of its green space.
I've got quite a bit of researching to do before my big trip, and I'd love to hear your suggestions. Have you ever been to San Francisco, Eugene or Portland? Got a great restaurant I should spin by? Perhaps a favorite street to stroll along?
Please feel free to pass on your suggestions to this adventurous traveler!