Heading South….

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…out of the big city of Seattle.  First impromptu stop – an amazing hands-on pioneer village….  Old log cabins, barns full of animals and a schoolhouse full of artifacts (did you know that back in the olden days, teachers were not allowed to ‘loiter in ice cream stores,’ dress in bright colors, be seen with less than two petticoats on, or ride in the carriage of a man other than her father or brother?  Not sayin’ the education system is perfect now, but we’ve come a long way)

(Ma and Paw back on the Oregon trail….Our wagon is doing great!  Still have both our axles even after fording all those rivers!…and no children were lost to dysentery or cholera…yet)

(blacksmith nellie heating up a horeshoe and pounding it with a hammer  – fun fact: you strike once on the hot metal then once on the anvil & repeat rhythmically because the heavy hammer ‘ bounces’ off the anvil and makes the swinging easier)

(Ma washing some dirty clothes at the washstand with her pioneer children)


(yikes! one whole chicken in a can…its been interesting shopping in non-hippy grocery stores)


(pretty snow-capped mountains on our way to Mt rainier)

(yeah.  there was like  20 feet of snow still, so we didn’t camp.  we think they should rename mt Rainier to Mt Snowier)

(brian on a little hike on mt Rainier – pretty lousy visibility – we never got to see the top)


Climate CHANGE!

Eastern Washington and Oregon are in the rainshadow…and are dry and hot! Wide open roads, lots of sage brush, abundant pick-up trucks, signs like ‘next gas 140 miles,’ and mounted heads of hunted animals decorating all the convenient stores’ walls…)

(a bit dusty and dry….we stopped at every stream/lake we could find to cool off a bit…its now a little harder to read the ‘just married’ on our rear window)

We went to rustic Alvord hot springs, an old roofless shack in the middle of the Alvord high desert – the water was coming out of the earth at about 174 degrees, filling up two hot pools (each like 112 degrees…lobster pots!) – not exactly refreshing when it shade-less and sauna-like outside.  We diverted one ‘pipe’ and let one pool ‘cool off’ over the next few hours.

(brian’s motto: “smart animals stay in the shade”)


(domestic bri cooking beans n greens n weenies dinner in the only other shade we could find)


(bri soaking once the sun was going down….ahhhhh)

Once the sun came up the next day, we headed off to Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California.  There were really cool caves to explore – they were tubes under the earth made of/by lava, so we walked underground for almost half-a mile and got in touch with our hobbit-selves.  Some places we had to get on our elbows to get through the gaps.  It was nice and cool down there, though a little claustrophobic.  We turned off our headlamps and experienced the quietest darkness of the Mother Womb.


(Brian spelunking, finding a portal to the outside world.  Unfortunately, the flash makes it look so undaunting…)

(duck-walked through for a while)


We realized we missed trees and water a lot, so we headed to Mt Shasta for our final night!

(we love you!)

We traveled over 3,000 miles – by car, by foot, by ferry, by kayak, by horseback, by trapeze, by swimming, by duck-walking, by the shear force of our love ….We highly recommend honeymooning to all of you!

Artsy Shot of the Day:


Posted by: onell in Uncategorized Comments Off on Washington!

(brian’s happy juice – available at a bujillion drive thru espresso shacks in OR and WA -makes rainy driving more FAST and FUN!)


The road trip has been beautiful so far – coastal, a little rainy/foggy.  We stopped in Olympia to go to the perma-Farmer’s market (and buy the most delicious cumin-jalepeño saurkraut ever!).


(brian setting up our nest at doe bay on orcas island)


Then, we drove our car onto a giant ferry and went to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands in North Western Washington.  Holy beautiful still blue water and green islands!  Some quaint towns and deer with white spotted behinds (never seen that before).  Brian scouted us the best place to camp on the island, Doe Bay – complete with hot tubs, sauna, communal kitchen and a gourmet restaurant!


(soaking in the tubs overlooking the bay = lots of chillaxed reading)

We took a steep hike to the top of Mt Constitution to burn off at least a few bites of the massive amounts of cheese we’ve been consuming.

(woodland fairy sighting)

(brian resting in the shade after enjoying the amazing view of all the beautiful islands atop mt constitution)

(most delicious local/forraged meal at doe may gourmet restaurant – with a beautiful view!)


(brian on luke, nellie on salty for a stroll through the beautiful woods on orcas island)

(o’nellie and salty, the albino horse)

(kayakers on a sunset tour near orcas island- snowy mt. baker in the background, just above brian’s head)

We took a sunset kayak tour – Saw a bald eagle and lots of harbor seals playing the water and heard the powerful breathing of porpoises surfacing for air pretty close to our kayak.  Magical!

A very charming island, but by 3 days into it, we were glad we don’t live on an island with one main road around its circumference.

….and now south to Seattle to visit Nick and Wendy!  Unfortunately, O’Nell got a little sick & the art museum was closed, but we still had fun hanging with our pals over pizza, microbrews, and delish ice cream (salted caramel! strawberry with balsamic reduction! strawberry rhubarb!) & oogling in Pike’s Place Market – the cheapest most beautiful flower bouquets we’ve ever seen! and lots of fruit/veggie/fresh fish stalls.  Highlight of Seattle: taking a flying trapeeze class at SANCA (School of Arcobatics and New Circus Arts), the awesome circus school Nick and Wendy work for.  We decided we want one in Sebastopol.  What a thrill~ terrifying & so satisfying!

Click to watch us here:

B & O soar on the Flying Trapeze




(our fabulous hosts Wendy and Nick)

Arsty shot of the day: (amazing flowers at pike’s market in seattle)



(newlywed smooch under the old growth redwoods, northern cali)

We’ve been lazily driving up the coast, stopping whenever we feel like it – at scenic overlooks, tourist traps, local yarn stores – and picnicking in beautiful places.  Its been relaxing and rejuventaing to just slow down, sample the local flavor of the towns we pass through, and get used to driving with our new wedding rings.  Time is going slowly – each day feels so long as we step away from the pace of our normal lives.

(paul, nellie, babe – tourist trap called ‘trees of mystery,’ northern cali)


(brian minored in zen rock stacking at naropa)

(o’nell majored in napping on sun-warmed river rocks)

We spent a few hazy days car camping at the Chetco River in OR and then Cape Blanco, OR, taking some day hikes, enjoying all the blossoming foxgloves along the roadside.

(dorito taco salad at camp starkelsen)


(foxgloves everywhere!)

(nellie leaping across a salty river at low tide, point blanco, OR)

We went to Breitenbush hotsprings retreat center and soaked our weary bones in warm water next to a roaring turquoise river.

(brian melting)


We’ve spent the past few days in Portland, OR sampling all of the amazing foodie restaurants in the vicinity.  So far, our recommendations include: Biwa Japanese, Tasty and Sons for brunch, the Farm for dinner.  This could easily turn into a food porn blog, so we will spare you all the juicy details, but let’s just say we have been mightily impressed and have decided to stay an extra two days mostly to try out more restaurants 🙂



(the farm’s amazing asparagus risotto cakes with a shaved fennel garnish on a bed of creamed spinach…brian had the grilled halibut on a bed of summer succotash)

(brian meandering at the community re-build/salvage store – a warehouse of used building parts and appliances for recycled building)

(thanks to our portland hostess with the mostess, the lovely ms kate busby)

Portland is a pretty hip, artsy, and eco city… people let the yellow mellow in public toilets…there is local veggies and meats -as well as chocolate, bacon, and finishing salts- on nearly all the menus on town…everyone rides bikes and kids have lambskin bike seat cushions…the majority of the population has a beard or bangs…lots of funky, vintage-y, local-product-oriented stores with well-designed logos line so many streets….and therefore, O’Nell cannot stop buying inspiring books and random tchotchkes and Brian cannot stop buying maps (per the usual).

We’ll be heading into the backcountry after tomorrow, hopefully discovering some off-the-beaten-path hotsprings.


Happy solstice, people!

Til Next time,

The (full-bellied) Starkelsens


P.S.  Artsy shot of the week:

Quote of the week:

Brian (knuckles white on the steering wheel, slightly whining): “You have no idea how hard it is for me to drive past a trailhead…”


Honey Mooners Day 1

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The morning was full of packing, creating co-camping systems, last minute errands around Sebastopol, and trying to eat all the leftovers from our wedding.  We’re finally on the road – 101 N following the Russian and Eel Rivers.


(brian maps-trurbating in public again!)


(bri scouting a burrito-munching ground)



Tonight, we’re staying at the Benbow Inn – feeling pretty awesome about telling everyone we’re on our honyemoon – since so far, we’ve gotten lots of cheers from cars passing by (mom wrote ‘just married’ on our rear window), extreme discounts on hotel rooms, free champagne and chocolates, and some good marriage advice: ‘Tolerance!’


(O’Nell feeling better about life)


Had a sweet walk at dusk along the river to eat our burrito (exquisito!) picnic…



Artsy Photo of the Day: