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Houston

29°45' 38" N 95°22' 11" W Houston

Dec 3, 2014  –  by Maeva

The Texan way of life continued as we reached the city to meet with PG, a friend from France who is currently living and working there. He had warned us: “You know in Houston, it’s mostly business, there’s not much to do, mostly partying.” Well that’s no problem! We reached the city in the gloomiest weather before it started pouring and we were really grateful that PG kindly let us crash in his living room! After a few Coronas at his place, we headed to a bar catching the most epic Uber ride. The driver was completely hyper, couldn’t stop laughing, and was all like “Oh you know where the bar is! You’ve been going there a lot huh! They know you there now hey! Hey, your buddy’s got a girl where is yours?” All between giant bursts of laugh, it was hilarious. We enjoyed some of the million (almost) beers on tap the bar features, chatted and played darts.  We decided to play 110 as it’s supposed to be the easiest way. Steph went first, threw his very first dart of the game and hit the perfect middle: bullseye. PG was like: “Are you serious right now?!” Lesson of the day: don’t play aiming games with Steph. In the end PG won the first two rounds, Steph the last three and I zero – no comment. We then decided to move on to another bar to meet some of friends, but the drinks were a little strong so we called in a night soon after! We slept on a thin leather sofa that was both cold and uncomfortable – ha, we had been warned by PG and his roommate but we thought we could endure anything at this point. However, it sure felt amazing to be in a warm apartment while it was freezing and pouring rain outside.

The next day, the weather hadn’t improved much so we lazily enjoyed some breakfast muffins and chilled around. We were also thrilled to have finally received the package from our friends Les Crapules. Luckily there were three T-shirts, all beautifully designed by Crapules artist Ambroise. So we put them on right away for the cheesiest photo you’ve ever seen. Admire below:

the three Crapules
the three Crapules

What do Texan people do on a rainy Sunday afternoon with their families? Why of course, they go to the shooting range! We jumped in the car with PG and his roommate and drove there eagerly. I had never shot a gun before and Steph had only shot with a rifle in Oregon (to shoot discs) as in that state you can’t use a gun if you don’t have a gun and a licence. It seems more reasonable, but apparently in Texas you can do whatever the hell you want. So we just entered the shooting range, looked around the shop full of guns and saw a promotion on hand grenades (wtf?!). Then we just gave our passports, picked our guns, snapped some goggles on and went to the booths. Just – like – that.  PG and Mika had already been here, so they taught us the basics – thank god. It is a little freaky to think that in that room, everyone has a killing machine in their hands and most people actually bring their own weapon. As French people, we still couldn’t wrap our heads around the fact that people own guns in their homes. This feeling grew even bigger when we got to shoot for the first time! The strength of the bullet as you pull the trigger is insane. It was quite surreal to play badass with our guns and our Crapules t-shirts, that’s for sure! But again, very much a culture shock, especially as we would see kids enter with their parents…

Steph and PG at the shooting range
Steph and PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
Maeva thinks she's Lara Croft
Maeva thinks she’s Lara Croft
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph shooting a gun
Steph shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun

We then had a well deserved break back at the apartment and as the weather wasn’t getting any better, we thought it was ideal for a sunday night movie. After an unfair vote (2 boys vs 1 girl), we ended up watching Nightcrawler. Before the movie started, the boys couldn’t resist playing games to win prizes. PG tried to catch a minion and then Steph tried to win an iPad. Didn’t work out too well, but it sure was a good laugh! The movie was insanely good, mainly thanks to the crazy performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. No spoilers, only one word of a advice: go see it!

The next day was a bit of a fail, as we emerged late and then spent the whole day driving around to find a hard drive for Steph. Who would have thought it would be so complicated? Only after two Walmarts and two Best Buy’s were we able to finally find one. Apparently, people buy lots in Texas… Luckily, we made up for the shitty day with a very very cool evening: a Methodman and Redman concert. Yes, that’s right. Okay, I’ll be totally honest with you I didn’t who they were but the boys sure did as they spent their teenage hood listening to their songs! We first had some beers and food at the bar, with the most annoying waitress in the entire world. You know the one who doesn’t let you enjoy your drink or conversation for more than 5mn and then gives you the wrong price for a beer and tells you it’s actually $3 more expensive – once you’re already halfway done drinking it. Anyhow, we finally made it to the “Smokers Club Tour” concert. They’re a bunch of rappers touring together and well, promoting the stoned way of life! In the concert room, one person out of two was smoking weed, which really surprised us because it’s illegal in Texas and you actually risk prison for it! Oh well, it didn’t seem to bother the crowd or the rappers themselves at all! The concert got really fun and B-Real (singer of Cypress Hill) stepped on stage and rocked it. Steph and PG didn’t know he was going to be there so it was a pretty awesome surprise! And then, the final act was Redman and Methodman, who totally killed it. They are definitely showmen, making the crowd participate in every song and dancing like crazy! It was by far the best way to finish our epic american experience in Houston with PG!

The next day it was time for goodbyes as we had to take the road to New Orleans. But not without stopping at a Texan barbecue on our way, of course! PG, a million thanks once again, we had a blast and you were a perfect host. Looking forward to returning the favour!

Texan barbecue
Texan barbecue

Portlanding

45°31' 24" N 122°40' 34" W Portland

Sep 29, 2014  –  by Maeva

We arrived in Portland under a Vancouver-like rain. Finding ourselves on Burnside Street, we randomly spotted Voodoo Doughnuts – one of the stops on our to do list. We jumped out of the car to enter the pink and psychedelic atmosphere of the shop to order some impressive and multi-flavoured doughnuts – proof below. High on sugar, we went to explore Powell’s Bookstore through endless shelves, floors and pages. Definitely the kind of place where you want to grab a pile of books, sit in a corner and spend a rainy afternoon with a good cup of coffee. It would have been really hard to leave the store empty handed so we both picked a book for the trip. Any guesses on what Steph got? Want a hint? Surf. Another hint? California. Yeah, he got Surfing California by Bank Wright, following Peter’s advice of course. By now I think we’ve established Steph’s number 1 priority on this trip, right?

Ordering Doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland
Ordering Doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland
Maeva holding Doughnut Box
Maeva holding Doughnut Box

Obviously, we were really late on the writing/developing/finalizing of our blog (sorry for the delay guys!) so we spent the night in Starbucks working on it. Steph coded, I wrote. After a night spent on the parking lot of Walmart (and not the first one, believe me), we continued working on the blog at the library as it was raining more than ever. And as soon as the weather cleared up, we drove to the Burnside Skatepark, a world renowned skatepark - thanks to Tony Hawk - under the Burnside bridge. We watched the boys crowd take turns in jumps, tricks and rides for a little while, appreciating the urban atmosphere of the spot. We then headed to Alberta Street for a walk along the cute shops, stylish urban art and edgy coffee shops. Our very first stop? The ice-cream place Salt and Straw, of course. Home made ice cream and the smell of freshly baked waffle cones: it was basically Disneyland. I bet you’re curious about what we got now, huh? I went for sea salt and caramel and Steph for peach and walnuts – and yes, it was as good as it sounds. Do I talk too much about food?

Burnside Skatepark
Burnside Skatepark
Maeva at Burnside Skatepark
Maeva at Burnside Skatepark
Maeva with ice cream at Salt & Straw
Maeva with ice cream at Salt & Straw
Graffiti Portland
Graffiti Portland
Maeva in front of awesome wall art in Portland
Maeva in front of awesome wall art in Portland
Maeva faces deer in Alberta Street
Maeva faces deer in Alberta Street

After strolling through the street, we went for locally crafted beers and cider with Philou, a Belgian snowboarder Steph had met on a previous trip to Oregon, and his friend. It was definitely lots of fun to chat about travels and life on the cozy outdoor patio of Cruzroom.

On our last day in the city, we went for a walk around Mount Tabor before heading to the Kennedy School, a renovated elementary school turned into a hotel, brewery, restaurant, bar and theater. It’s hard to describe the school in just a few words as it conveys so many different atmospheres at once. On one hand, you can’t escape the educational and dorm-like vibe as you walk past old classrooms and student photographs. On the other hand, you feel like you’ve entered a sort of Tim Burton like Budapest Hotel with hallways packed with colourful fairytale inspired paintings and sayings on the walls. A brewer walked us around the local brewery and the many many steps that involve beer-making. I insist on many, because I sure would get mixed up among the 20 things to do and the order in which they go! We were visiting the school too early to be able to go in the Cigar and Whiskey room but we made up for it by sitting down at the German like bistro for a local fresh hops beer and apple cider.

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Cigar and whiskey room at the Kennedy School
Cigar and whiskey room at the Kennedy School
Steph at the bistro of Kennedy School
Steph at the bistro of Kennedy School
Maeva at the bistro of Kennedy School
Maeva at the bistro of Kennedy School

We then continued our visit with the Portland Art Museum downtown. The highlight was definitely the temporary exhibition “This is War” with illustrations, posters and sketches from the Great War. It unveiled the darkness of warfronts and the rise of woman power. The rest of the museum walked us through the main historic and artistic movements of the 20th century in just the right amount. Not too big, not too little, the museum allowed us to take a walk through the exhibitions without having to go through millions of hallways and rooms like most places. I even got a picture with my favorite number, yay!

Maeva in front of 5 at the Portland Art Museum
Maeva in front of 5 at the Portland Art Museum

We finished our Portland experience by taking the elevator up the Pink Building (I guess that’s what  we’ll call it) for a panoramic view of the city. Definitely one the places with the coolest vibes, most hipsterish outfits and unique local spots.