Drivin' West - Off to Los Angeles and the Rest

So I'd like to interrupt this blog stream three years later and pick up where I left off. A lot has happened since then, but it's only appropriate to pick up where I left off and add what I can remember. 

map of the final portion of the trip
View of Highway 95

So anyone who took note of my last post and knows a little about Las Vegas might note that I did not take the most popular route to California, the 15 (as in I-15). I instead took a route to Palm Springs that kept me on two lane highways most of the route. One reason for this was Brent saying his preferred method of travel was staying off the interstate and stopping at motels near cool looking bars and the biggest reason, Michelle warning me of the hellish road work taking place on the California side of the interstate. I got to see Searchlight (Where Harry Reid grew up) and drive an odd road that used to be part of Route 66. The road had no shoulder, but was lined in beautiful creosote bushes. I eventually arrived to Palm Springs. 

Corbusier Bank of America

The architecture of palm springs is exciting. I was particularly interested in this Bank of America that was heavily influenced by Le Corbusier. 

After Palm Springs I spent a few nights in Los Angeles which is riddled with great buildings. I particularly liked the lean towards more modern. Here's a few highlights. 

Garden Grove Church Los Angeles

Garden Grove - the mid-century buildings are particularly interesting.  Writing about this later I can't believe how crazy those stairs are. 


Los Angeles Performing Arts Center

The Los Angeles Performing Arts Center was fantastic. I had so much fun just walking around the outside and enjoying the space.


Cinerama Los Angeles

The Cinerama looks fantastic. Can you tell I'm a Welton Becket Fan?


Capitol Records Los Angeles

Capitol Records tower by Welton Becket. So Good.

I then decided to take the 1 and 101 up to San Francisco. This was a great drive that didn't contain much traffic and good views throughout. Along the way was Hearst Castle which is an interesting building of old California and movie stars.

I then found myself in beautiful San Francisco. This city has quite a bit of charm and while I love the way the city looks, I know it comes at a price of making the city less affordable and livable. I did notice the city has lost some of it's edge which is unfortunate and something that Seattle also is finding itself trying to tackle with sky rocketing housing costs.

Cathedral Of Saint Mary Of The Assumption San Francisco

Some of my favorite discoveries on this visit was the Cathedral Of Saint Mary Of The Assumption. I couldn't go inside due to the obvious funeral occurring in the photo, but a quick image search suggests it's a good one.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco

I finally set foot in my first John Portman Hotel which featured a vertigo inspiring lobby and a desire to not miss another Portman hotel ever again. 

I then booked it to Portland to finalize my trip. 

Portland Building

An architect can't go to Portland and not manage to grab a photo of Micheal Graves's masterpiece, The Portland Building. While dated, the building is considered high Post Modern architecture and I am glad that Portland decided to keep and restore it. 

Keller Fountain Park, Portland - Lawrence Halprin

I really like Lawrence Halprin's work and was happy to see the fountains were on at Keller Fountain Park. I wish we could do public spaces like this today. 

That concludes this trip. I hope to fire up this blog and keep posts coming into the future. Stay Tuned.

Drivin' West - Reno? No, Let's Keep Driving.

So the first, and most important, item on the agenda was a safe and timely arrival in Las Vegas. A drive to Reno was about 11.5 hours from Seattle. I was going to make the first leg of the trip a serious no-frills driving day, but shortly after the plans got into the works, I was offered a generous opportunity to stay at the temporary Adanalian mansion on Lake Tahoe. The Adanalians are the family of my coworker, Ryan, and also happen to be clients at the office. We're designing their permanent mansion. Part of the agenda, if I made it to the Adanalians, would include the chance to throw some dice with Pete Adanalian at the Lakeside Inn. This tempting offer added and hour to the total drive, and one doesn't want to arrive too late in case the craps tables are closed, so I decided to hit the road after work, instead of starting the morning after.


Before I continue, I have to say I drove a 2013 Chevy Cruz rent-a-car instead of my own vehicle. Anyone who has gotten to know me in the past 10 years, should know Bertha, a 1999 Oldsmobile, Silhouette minivan that has been moving me around since 2004. Unfortunately, the last road trip proved it may be best for her to remain in the greater Seattle area, you know, where cell phone reception is close by. She has many fans that will be sorry to read that. She can't party like it's 1999 anymore...


Now that the car item has been explained, lets get moving. The initial drive down I-5 was relatively uneventful. I made steady progress and could have made more but decided at 10:45pm that I may need to put together a plan for the night. I decided to pull off into the Oaks Grove Rest Stop, get on Priceline, and arrange a place to stay about an hour ahead (a tactic developed during my longer cross country travels). The search indicated my route left dense civilization (with hotels) after Eugene, Oregon, so I settled for the Broadway Inn about 30 minutes out.

The next day, I work up early and hit the road. This leg of the trip would take me off the interstate for most of the day. The drive was therapeutic with a mix of rural farmland and forests scattered about and virtually no traffic. I made it a point to ensure my gas tank was near full most of the day per the advice of my coworker, Anne, although the mandatory full service stations feel weird. After driving through the mountains of Oregon, the terrain flattens a bit. Before the California state line lies the small town of Merrill, Oregon which has an enticing CMU drive-thu buiding called the Polar Bear. Signage indicated they have burgers, fries, and, milkshakes and it was about lunch time. The establishment had the potential to serve some mean food, but the end result was average for the the bacon burger and fries. I did find it odd that the fries weren't a little limpy. I wonder if the potato farmers nearby prefer a more raw potatoey texture.

View from Gas Station in Adin, California
View from Gas Station in Adin, California

I was due to get into Lake Tahoe, technically Glenbrook, at 5:30pm but I wanted to make a small detour to check out the Peppermill. I appreciate how the casino treats the interior with a lot of mirrors and neon. The interior remains good, but portions are slowly being converted into a cheap Caesars Palace theme. In the Caesar Palace wing, the gold was rubbing off the bathroom fixtures and the soap dispensers were silver, but this is Reno! At least they thought of soap dispensers even if they don't match (I have to knock Reno just a little bit). Fortunately, the Peppermill still features video screens throughout the casino floor with worldly landscapes, something all the Peppermill owned locations have, and the world famous Fireside Lounge.

At the end of the day, I made it to Glenbrook safely, met up with Pete, visited the site of their new mansion, got a little history of the area, ate a steak dinner, and threw some dice. I did pretty well but, unfortunately, Pete wasn't fairing as well. He's more adventurous which paid well in the beginning, but later took advantage of his winnings. We later tried to gamble for a "good story," but unfortunately the story didn't pan out.

Special thanks to Pete and all the Adanalians for being so hospitable.

Pete, dressed appropriately for his boat on Lake Tahoe.
Pete, dressed appropriately for his boat on Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe at Sunset
Lake Tahoe at Sunset

Stay tuned for the next post featuring the drive to the great city of Las Vegas.

Drivin' West - A Road Trip to Los Angeles via Las Vegas

(sound of intense blowing... long pause... footsteps fade away... footsteps approaching... canned air sound...) The blog has lacked some attention lately, mostly due to taking some of the Architecture Registration Exams and the intensity of the profession these days. Both don't look to be resolving in the near future (guess I'll keep the canned air handy).

In case you missed the photos posted on Instagram (some on the right sidebar) and Facebook a few weeks ago, I recently went on a two week 3,400 mile road trip that included keys stops in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I will be taking the next few weeks to highlight segments of the trip under the category and title of Drivin' West.

Route Map


Since I moved to Seattle, I had been meaning to take a trip down the west coast to refresh myself on the cities and built environment. When I received a save-the-date for a wedding in Las Vegas from good undergraduate friends, Tommy and Lindsey, I quickly realized this was my chance. I think some thought I was nuts for wanting to drive the whole way, but this is my preferred way of travel. Only driving car does one have the chance to see landscapes and towns that would otherwise be skipped over. Also, driving a car 65mph on the open road with the windows down and music blasting is way better than being crammed onto an airplane with no food.

Preparation of the trip included a prefect mix of logistical planning and improvisation. For important stops, I organized days and reserved places to stay. For less significant stops or legs of the journey I made on-the-fly decisions. The tools used for achieving this was a simple spreadsheet with important sites, places to stay, and people to see integrated with a map. I could easily prioritize and adjust my schedule depending on real-time conditions or preferences.

Trip Spreadsheet and Map


To summarize, this trip was one of the the best I've had in awhile. I was very satisfied with the mix of entertainment, socializing, and alone time. While I expected to see some great sites and architecture, I didn't realize how much fun it would be to meet old friends and family along the way. There are a lot of great people in my life and even if they are a billion miles away, they still know how to have a great a time and are kind enough to spend some time with me (sometimes with a moments notice).

Stay tuned for the first leg of the trip, Seattle to The Great State of Nevada.