Just Life

There’s so much to just randomly observe and comment from a fresh perspective. I never want to stop looking with these eyes.

~See Lemons Just Live


30 Drinking Tips for 30-year-olds

seelemonsonline : March 31, 2017 8:00 am : Foodie, Just Life, list of 30

Random Observation/Comment #577: NYC is filled with functional alcoholics. I am certainly one of them.

Why this list?

There are a lot of reasons why drinking changes for your 30s. It’s no longer about getting drunk and pulling off shenanigans – it’s more about being social and catching up with people in your limited time juggling multiple “grown up” responsibilities. The motivation changes as drinking becomes a part of the experience rather than the main focus.

A few other properties include:

  • hosting more get-togethers (yay brunches),
  • fewer calories to watch weight (boo), and
  • complimenting a great meal.

Ultimately, it’s the important fact that drinking for someone older is just borrowed time. Have fun tonight, but pay for it with hangovers lasting full days tomorrow.

How to Write this List

I think most people with 5+ years of drinking experience have learned from at least one bad night. You know, the one that starts with 3 beers and the voice in your head claims invincibility thereby leading to 6 shots and vomit on your clothes by morning? Rookie mistakes. Everyone knows the beer before liquor rule and eat some starch to soak up the alcohol, but I wanted to write this list for the more refined drinker. This is grown-up drinking.

  1. Hydrate during drinking – it cleanses your palette, paces the spending, and avoids hangovers
  2. Know your place – Never get a mixed drink at a beer bar, wine at a pub, or beer at a whisky Distillery
  3. Respect the bartender – tip well. The $1 is usually for a beer, but a suggested cocktail that takes effort and beauty deserves $2
  4. Learn the basics of wine – you don’t need to be an expert, but it’s important to know what type you like to drink
  5. Learn how to make 2 good cocktails for seasonal or food pairing – this is for a hosting party or just having guests
  6. Stock great beer in your fridge – not expensive, but good for unexpected guests
  7. Keep stock of some great wine and some table wine
  8. Keep stock of at least one whisky, bourbon, gin, and vodka – every good bar should have a decent stock
  9. Ice is an ingrident sometimes ignored – I like getting a large cube mold for better presentation
  10. Invest in a bar kit – there are some great deals after holidays
  11. Buy some fun coasters – I love buying coasters from travel. Great conversation starters.
  12. Keep stock of Alka seltzer and blowfish – getting older means more hangovers
  13. Frozen margaritas and sugary drinks should be left to tex-mex with friends or on a beach vacation – It’s not easy to make a good one and has too many ingredients/devices
  14. Invest in decent wine, whisky, and pint glasses – it’s always good to have the appropriate glassware for the occassion
  15. Adopt a favorite liquor store – Befriend them and they’ll likely give you some good deals and some 5-10% off
  16. Research wine clubs if you like wines – you get a great deal especially if you’re already drinking 3 bottles a week – the cost of a $20 bottle of wine is closer to $15 or so in bulk or with the experimental types
  17. Wine fridges – if you drink a lot of wine and have enough space, a wine fridge does help make the wine last longer
  18. Field trips focused on drinking – this is an awesome trip with friends and family. There are wine and beer festivals all around the place and this is a pretty good excuse to indulge like an adult.
  19. Be a regular at a local bar – There’s nothing better than going into a bar and knowing the bartenders.
  20. Quality over quantity – 4 times out of 5, I’d buy the more expensive Belgian beer to enjoy myself. Plus, the higher alcohol content usually evens out.
  21. Try not to drink in multiple gulps – drinking is marathon, not a sprint (and no one is keeping track)
  22. Save the money and the calories – I know some people who won’t drink soda, but would gladly drink 4 beers and mixed drinks (I’m one of these people). If you’re watching your weight and take 5 drinks to get tipsy, you might as well save it for once or twice a week instead of every night.
  23. Avoid weekday day drinking (but embrace brunch) – I remember when I first started drinking when studying abroad in Germany. People will literally order a beer during lunch and sip on it as part of their meal. I think since then, I’ve been desensitized from the stigma of day drinking. The problem with that is day drinking never ends with night hard working. It usually ends up with taking a nap and sleeping for 3 hours in the middle of the day.
  24. There are events where it’s always okay to drink – these can include (but are not limited to) fishing, sports games, concerts, brunch, beaches, and open bars.
  25. There’s no such thing as a girly drink – I love ordering cocktails that take some skill to make or some special ingredients I would never buy.
  26. Buy a round for your friends – If you have a regular group of drinking buddies or someone buys you a drink, order them a round every once in a while. It’s the right thing to do when you’re having a good time.
  27. If your bartender comps you a drink, tip generously – sometimes a bartender will get the 4th or 5th drink with an upside down shot glass. In NYC, that would come up close to $25, so I usually leave around $35
  28. Avoid well shots (tequila) – I don’t remember a good time after taking one of those and mostly because there are cheap substitutes. I think shots are okay if you specify the brand (like Jameson) because you know what you’ll be getting. Also know when this is appropriate (not at brunch with your in-laws).
  29. Don’t assume something that’s more expensive is good. Don’t assume something that’s less expensive is bad.
  30. Everything in moderation – Including moderation. Have a good time and be safe! Don’t throw up in an uber because you’ll get a bad rating.

~See Lemons Drink like a Pro

(Many Thanks to my beautiful wife, @vnessawithaneye, who came up with all the clever ones while anything distasteful was totally my idea)

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30 Organizing Meet up Tips

seelemonsonline : March 24, 2017 7:00 am : Early Career, Just Life, list of 30

Random Observation/Comment #576: There was a time when I lurked meetups around NYC to meet new interesting people and pick up women. The picking up of women didn’t work very well.

Why This List?

If you’re organizing meetups for your company around software or specific industry trends, it’s always a good idea to follow the lessons learned from some very experienced meetup organizers. Even if this list was available (because I’m sure plenty of people have written about it), I didn’t internalize it until I wrote the list myself. Thus is life.

  • Marketing
    1. Provide at least 3 weeks prior to the date of the event basics (hopefully you already have recurring venues booked)
    2. Set up reminders from the system or directly with 3 weeks, 1 week, and 72-48 hours before event. Have the reminder include more details or interesting facts.
    3. Tell people who else will be attending as people will be more inclined to join if there are opportunities to make connections during the networking
    4. Consider giving pre-reading material (but know that it will likely not be read)
    5. Consider telling people to bring their laptops! The focus of a technical meetup could be more hands-on coding
    6. Consider not doing a dial-in as this encourages more people to show up in-person
    7. If you have a global audience, consider buying a USB conference microphonehttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G2Y44ZK/ref=psdc_7073956011_t3_B00G57DFDG (Jabra)
    8. Even if you’ve created a meet-up signup, also create an outlook invite so people can see it on their work calendars (also, meet-up might be blocked on bank computers)
    9. Advertise on the correct internal and external calls
    10. Take photos during the event, but also use photos from previous events (if recurring)
    11. Think of contests with incentives
    12. Use a venue that is close to subway/metro stations if hosted in the city
    13. Encourage people to present their work
    14. When selecting the date of the meetup, never do weekends and never do events too early. Wednesday to Fridays are usually best days after 7PM and also check for conflicting days with any other major events
    15. Setup meetups where you’re not the main presenter, but a facilitator to bring others in the industry together. “Special Guests” are always cool.
    16. In the meet up page, be specific to the type of audience and material you’ll be covering
  • Important people to attend from your company
    1. General meeting logistics manager – someone that has some experience in this space and thinks about printing event signs and bringing tape
    2. Invite all people in your office if this is work related – Could also be a great group networking opportunity
    3. Salesperson – if your meet up is hoping to bring some broader interest of investers or potential partners, be sure to have the right internal representatives
    4. HR (or method of collecting interest) – we should keep track if people are interested in joining a dev team or at least working as partners
  • Day-of event
    1. Bring Music! Really awkward to not have any
    2. In the beginning, introduce the people from your organization in the room so they can start conversations during networking timespan
    3. Consider bringing name tags – suggest your name and “things to talk to me about”
    4. Spread out in networking events. Talk to new people and include others who are just on their phones
    5. Start the event with an Ice breaker or a raise of hands to gauge technical ability of the audience
    6. Depending on the size of the group, have people introduce themselves around the room and which company they’re from
  • Content (ordering of content)
    1. Try not to focus the presentations on the company in the beginning
    2. If this is a software pitch, make sure it’s explained with a short analogy for usage and latest developments
    3. If you have a demo, consider reversing the order: Analogy, Demo, Concepts, Call to Action
    4. Tangible project examples always resonate better

~See Lemons Organize Meetups

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Designing Your Life

seelemonsonline : February 17, 2017 4:03 pm : Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #573: It’s never too late to redesign your life.

Ever since I’ve started drawing every night (currently at a 200+ day streak), I’ve started doodling more random infographics about life. This one came to me when I was thinking about a community hub model to connect people to their interests. I wanted to map what people need for a well-rounded happy life.

What is this?

Starting on the top left quadrant, this is one of my biggest drivers: self improvement. As long as we’re smarter every day, learn from our mistakes, and set realistic challenges for the physical and mental space, we’re on the right path. You can optionally add spiritual in here for those who seek to be one with everything. I find physical and mental challenges allow one to continuously learn and stay healthy.

On the bottom left, this is self improvement as well, but towards a social construct with the purpose of contributing your special strengths into a greater vision. That vision could be one aligned to a company, your own entrepreneurship, or a cause. I measure my happiness at work by making sure that I’m good at what  I do, and that I’m doing what only I have special skills to do. These skills can always improve and grow from novice to mastery.

On the top right, this is your community (career, sports, family, etc) and connectivity into the world. I believe these relationships are your immediate reach of influence and where you call home. It’s important to foster the well-being and growth of this community because these people are the ones you love and can’t see your life without.

On the bottom right, this is the broader view – a place where you can return your blessings and teach to those who will be a part of the generation to change the world. The world is often a crappy and scary place, but I believe the majority of people are good. I always recommend helping and giving back where you can.

The left and right hemispheres may seem like they imply what you do and do not have control over, but the key here is that any step you take in any of these quadrants is significant to bettering humanity.

So What?

There are tangible action items for improving and expanding all of these aspects of your life. I often plan my vision, desires, and goals around where I want to improve and grow in these areas. The bottom right side is likely the one people will have the least examples, but I firmly believe sharing and giving back what you learn is how this world can get better. For those who already volunteer regularly: #keepthatshitup.

~See Lemons Design His Life

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Happiness Jar

seelemonsonline : January 8, 2017 9:58 pm : Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #569: You don’t need a reason to feel great.


I loved fireflies growing up. Whenever I visited Pennsylvania, I’d grab a mason jar and run around the meadows with my brother catching them. Because the flickering green made me happy, I always thought I had bottled happiness.

I learned a valuable lesson that first summer: happiness needs air holes.

Fast forward to early 2016, my wife learned about the happiness jar project when listening to the Another Round podcast. We had recently gotten married, I was nervous about starting a new job, and we just moved to a new place. A little skeptically, I asked, “so what is it?”

She explained the project. Full details here, but essentially when you experience a moment of happiness, you log it on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it into a jar. At the end of the year, you open the jar and read all the happy memories. An ideal container is something large and preferably translucent so you can see the happiness fill it up.

In response to relationship projects, my inner Ackbar exclaimed, “It’s a trap!” But, of course, I caved. It sounded kinda cool, plus have you ever known me to turn down a side project?

On one of our I-don’t-know-what-number-because-ive-blocked-it-out-my-mind trips to Ikea, we spotted the perfect jar. She already bought some colorful construction paper at a local 99¢ store. During a much needed break from furniture assembly, we pre-cut the paper and opted for a minimal design, an arched label, “Happiness Jar.”

Our rules:

  1. Dates optional but preferred
  2. It can be anything momentous like a big trip to a funny situation. #allthefeels.
  3. No peeking until the end of the year

What did we write?

For me, I focused on inside jokes within the trips and large successes with TEDxBushwick and conferences. My wife had similar accomplishment-based notes, but also general thankfulness for mentors and friends through tough times.

What did we learn?

We decided to keep it clearly displayed on a shelf in our living room. It was a nice signal to recognize these moments as they occurred. Surprisingly, just seeing the jar could make one of us smile when we felt down.

When we opened it on New Year’s Eve and read each story, we had never been happier and never more in love with each other. We are continuing the tradition. I was again reminded that it’s possible to bottle happiness – airholes not always necessary.

~See Lemons Happy

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Reflecting on 2016

seelemonsonline : December 31, 2016 8:00 am : Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #568: Have compassion and perspective. If you’re kind and have a view that keeps humor in mind, I think things will be just fine.

In 2016, I turned 30:

  • Traveled to: Bermuda, Naples Florida, St Petersburg Florida (for Niki/Tomas wedding), Toronto, Maine, Switzerland, South Africa, Oregon, Redwoods, Washington, Alaska (cruise), London, Maryland, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney.
  • Triumphantly: Moved into a new apartment with my dream view, successfully completed TEDxBushwick, judged for idiotarod, joined R3 as an associate director, got promoted at R3 to a director,  created micro-resolutions, rode the Rodelbahn, presented Corda as the NY dev relations, hiked through ape cave, saw Crater Lake national park, saw the redwoods, saw a few whales fluke, saw a bear in person 10 ft away, saw an Alaskan glacier, attended a fun destination wedding (niki & tomas), attended a travel/beer themed wedding (jen & grey), attended an awesome cipriani wedding (crystal & riley), attended an Indian ceremony wedding #aksans2016, camped overnight on a beautiful lake, rode a train around a few mountains, checked off Australia!, and presented at a workshop in a fintech festival
  • Ate/Drank: Fish chowda, dark and stormy’s, rum swizzles, Bermudan lobsters, amazing lobstah rolls of Maine, fondue, meat volcano, bitch please biscuits and gravy, poke bowl from a real Hawaiian place, Alaskan salmon on the grill
  • Read/Listened to: The Long Earth, The Long War, The Long Mars, Dark Matter, Welcome to Nightvale, and A whole bunch of podcasts. So many that I needed to write a list of 30 podcasts
  • Saw: The Humans, Bruccceeeee, Modern Love Live, (Plus tons of awesome movies at Alamo Drafthouse that just opened across the street)
  • Completed: Built a meteorjs application, wrote Jasper for CBDC in Ethereum dApp, Wanessa Happiness jar, 30 day drawing challenge (and continued drawing journal), caught a lot of pokemon in the craze (but then stopped because it killed my battery), 30 days of mealpass, Completed 100 Actions of The Day (#AoTD part 1 and part 2), and crushed an embarrassingly large number of Candy Crush levels (I’m almost at level 900).

2016 was a pretty shitty year for the rest of the world with the death of legends (notably: Prince, Bowie, Ali, George Michael, and John Glen – full list) and exposures of general public distrust through elections. I’ve thought a lot about education and careers this past year mainly because of my career switch into something I find fascinating with a group of extremely motivated and brilliant people.

However, most people are not so lucky. I listened to a Mike Rowe (from Dirty Jobs) podcast recently and he noted the 4 main steps to looking for a career:

  1. Look around and see where people are headed, and then go in the opposite direction
  2. Embrace all the things that scare you
  3. Become really good at that thing
  4. Figure out a way to love what you do

And he said that most millennials looking for jobs now have these steps backwards/upside down because they want to do what the love right away without the hardship. For me, I think the most important thing about opportunities and “luck” is that it only happens when you keep moving and searching. For those who are stuck at any of those above phases – keep looking and figure out how to make it happen.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to:

  • Travels: Likely a lot more business travel to San Francisco, London, and Asia.
  • Challenges: Parenting (whenever this happens, I’m already thinking about prepping for it), growing a community of strong leaders and continue herding cats during projects, Keeping up with technology (never stop learning), breaking bad habits and creating more productive ones
  • Adolescent Career: Fostering collaboration without feeling the need to do absolutely everything

~See Lemons Look Forward to 2017

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Favorite Blogposts of 2016

seelemonsonline : December 29, 2016 8:00 am : Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #567: I may have actually written more internal work-related posts than public ones this year (which means I’m really liking what I’m doing).

It’s been a slow year of writing blogposts mostly because of the new role. As I spend the last quiet week before things get crazy in 2017, here are my favorite blogposts of 2016:

Turning 30


30 Day Drawing Journal Challenge


Achievements of All Types

30 Milestone Questions

30 Blockchain Buzzwords


Life Lessons from Corporate


30 Microresolutions

~See Lemons Blog in 2016

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Favorite Photos of 2016

seelemonsonline : December 27, 2016 1:20 pm : Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #566: Get addicted to creating, sharing, and putting good use to content. It’s so much more rewarding than simply absorbing it.

Another year of incredible changing times. I chose the photos above as my favorite because it represents the teamwork and hard work it takes to move the needle. I continue to see some pretty incredible sights and hope these are continuously attained. Let’s keep dreaming.

~See Lemons Photograph 2016

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Turning 30

seelemonsonline : December 23, 2016 11:37 pm : Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #565: “It’s all downhill from here…” ~All my friends

My 20’s was basically a test of goals, time, and relationship management.

  • Goals management is your mission, vision, and true North towards your ideals of success.
  • Time management is the organization and prioritization necessary for executing and delivering those goals.
  • Relationship management is making the connections and building a community in order to share what you’ve learned.

For keeping my goals inline, I learned from a toastmasters international speech by Dana LaMon from 2010 that outlined the desires and drivers in my life. I wrote my own version and reflected on it yearly.

For making sure I actually accomplished what I set out to, I stuck to the bigger perspective and the little things. We often say we don’t have time to do things, but what we’re really doing is being lazy and not taking our own tasks seriously. Most people spend their entire first 20 years being told what to do, so coming up with your own homework assignments and drive is even more important than doing the work yourself. I enjoyed assigning myself responsibilities and taking charge of them.

To foster relationship growth, I trusted in people’s good nature and chose the people I spend my most time with very carefully. We are ultimately the combination of our 8 closest people, so hopefully they’re engaging, honest, and open-minded. For business, I also learned the value of a meaningful follow up.

I’m thankful and grateful for incredible role models, friendly community support, and the means to fulfill my ambitions. It’s all possible because my parents provided me with a strong foundation of health, deductive reasoning, and moral values.

Thank you, Mom and Dad. I love you both and you are still teaching me life lessons.

A Special Thank You to my wife. Thank you for giving me the best birthday present and putting up with my loud sneezes.

So How did I do?

Not to gloat, but Pretty damn proud of myself. My 30 under 30 and the accompanied blogposts are all updated with their results and lessons learned. I might have missed the mark on some languages and plane flying, but I feel mighty accomplished with this blog, my book, and the stories I tell daily about these adventures.

What would I do differently?

When I reflected on my quarter life crisis, I was a bit of a drama queen. These age numbers and expectations were fairly arbitrary and generally driven on fear of wasting a blessing. I think I’d relax a bit more and worked on the things I felt really inspired by. I wish I created my own YouTube channel when PhillyD did and started a community of people who would listen.

What’s next?

There’s still much personal growth in my life, but I think I’ve ignored a key puzzle piece with 1) community and 2) asking for help. There’s an innate sense of altruism that gets muddied with business and vested interests. I think humility in asking for joint collaboration will be the crux of my upcoming challenges. I clearly need a challenge, so challenge accepted.

Whether it be leading a team to success or eventually being a loving father, I am excited to continue on this journey – wherever it will take me – wherever it will take us.

~See Lemons Turn 30

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30 Day Drawing Journal Challenge

seelemonsonline : October 27, 2016 8:00 am : 30 Day challenges, Just Life, list of 30

Random Observation/Comment #562: I almost forgot the joy of just sitting down with a pen and drawing what’s on my mind – I highly recommend this challenge.


Why this Challenge?

I can draw one good line at a time, gauge perspectives, scale sizes well, and be patient with results. However, one of my all time goals is to be able to sit at a bar and draw something amazing on a napkin on the spot. I want someone to give me a subject and story, and then I can draw them a scene from it. Why? Because it’s cool and it’s on my 30 before 30. Why not?

What did you Draw?

The way I approached this challenge was less structured than my others. I first randomly started from watching Planet Earth with hump back whales. I decided to draw one in a cartoon form with the closest writing utensil at reach (a ball point pen).


The result wasn’t terrible, but I found value in 1) not copying from an existing drawing, 2) using a permanent and easily-bleeding writing utensil, and 3) keeping a simple creative structure.


My next drawing was of Henry (of course), but I started adding the environment and a few accessories to the piece. This lead me to asking Vinessa for advice on what to draw next. A koala bear dancing ballet in a tutu:


The pattern I liked in this challenges evolution was setting a structure:

  • Animal
  • With accessory
  • Wearing special outfit
  • In environment
  • Related to something from that day

Here’s a few samples:

From Zurich’s street parade, I drew a lion DJing:


From a wine festival, I drew a seahorse scene drinking a glass of wine:


From Vinessa, I drew a karrot karaoke knight:


From Crater Lake National Park, a Shell-fie


From watching Zootopia on the plane and starting the roadtrip, a sloth driving a racecar:


One of my personal favorites, a flamingo on a tightrope:


From the cruise’s first night, a polar bear cooking tepanyaki:


This, too, didn’t last very long because I ran out of animals I knew how to draw. Instead, it involved into something more or less random about the day. I’d draw something from a scene or funny part, and it always took a path of its own.  Ever since August 8th, I’ve been drawing on a daily basis and really enjoying myself.

Here’s a few more notable ones:

From the cruise’s honeymoon package of chocolate covered Strawberries:


From Alaska, a king crab eating a soldier:


From drinking all day at the wine tasting:


From flying to Heathrow after a long honeymoon trip:


From the first presidential debate:


From our 1 year anniversary:


From random nights and knitting hobbies:


From our secret blockchain project:


From a random fun weekend:


And my personal favorite, when Vinessa got a haircut and dyed her hair black:


From 30 day challenge to 90+ day adventure onward!



What’s Next?

I really love this as a part of my habits, and specifically as a wind down mechanism for going to bed early. It keeps devices out of the bedroom and gives me more creativity than just writing. On my ideal night, I’d be in bed by 10:45PM with my pen and notebook to sketch something from the day. This has definitely continued and become part of my day! Maybe I’ll even have a separate blog section, blogpost, or instagram feed for these.

I highly recommend this challege to anyone and everyone. Even if you can’t draw, you only get better when you try.

~See Lemons Love Drawing

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[Travel Advice] Pacific Northwest roadtrip

seelemonsonline : September 13, 2016 9:00 am : Just Life, Travel

Random Observation/Comment #560: Honeymoon Roadtrip was the best choice ever. A lot of car tunes, audiobooks, podcasts, and funny discussions that brought us closer.

see lemons love bridges

Things Pacific Northwest Does Well

  • Pure nature bliss – National parks are sprinkled throughout this magical place.
  • Clouds – When you get the non-rainy ones, they’re really something #cloudporn
  • Hospitality – Super friendly people with a lot of smiles. It was easy to strike up a conversation. People were eager to share their favorite trails or places to eat.
  • Scenic byways – The 101 drive was mind blowing. Driving through national parks is a new favorite tourist activity.
  • Little to no traffic and great parking – Despite visiting during peak season, there were no issues with parking (even in Portland).
  • Local IPAs – Consistently a great choice. A must for IPA lovers.
  • Pour over coffees –  These are the real deal coffee shops that brew coffee for the single serving. Stumptown is based here and didn’t disappoint.
  • Doughnuts – What Oregon lacks in bagels, they make up for in doughnuts (mini doughnuts are a must)
  • Drive through coffee spots – Ubiquitous across the Oregon “highways.”  They are all so sloooow. Undeniably slower than regular coffee places. Not sure how they deal with rush hour. Bonus points for the cute themes and accessibility. Vinessa accidentally chose a bikini themed one …awkward.
  • Pinot Noir – The climate of Willamette Valley makes for delicious grapes and flourishes beautifully. These rival their more famous California neighbors in Sonoma.

Things Pacific Northwest Can Improve

  • Diversity – We noticed the majority of people we came across were either Asian or white, and found ourselves missing the diversity from back home.
  • Mixed food scenes – Perhaps we had too high of expectations, but we found the average place in Oregon was meh and the good places were swarming with lines. Oregon wine country and Seattle saved the day.
  • Homeless population in Portland –  This is by no means singular to Oregon, but was particularly noticeable in Portland. Heartbreaking.
  • Employment – Job opportunities appear to be very limited (unless you want to sell yoga accessories).

So, how does the Pacific Northwest stack up?  We loved the laid back energy and flannel. If it didn’t freeze over the winter, we’d consider moving here.

Our Roadtrip Approach

Roadtrips are fun because the road becomes your guide. You are led by your adventure. We only booked 3 nights of our 8:

  • night of arrival near the Portland airport,
  • Abbey Road Farmhouse for our wine excursion, and
  • night in Seattle before the cruise.

Everything else was basically picking random Airbnbs the morning of.  Most Airbnbs were happy to rent on a weekday and had a fairly self-sustaining method of picking up and dropping off keys. Landmarks were mainly discovered by asking the wait staff at restaurants. It worked out pretty well. Plus, it keeps things spontaneous.

We started driving east to Mount Hood, then south to Crater Lake National Park/Bend, next to the Redwoods, then north up 101 to Willamette Valley, with the final leg towards Washington through Mount St. Helens. Whew

Our Itinerary

Friday – The necessary day

Overnight at an airport hotel

Saturday – Let’s be tourists in Portland for a day. 

Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Conveniently located near Voodoo Doughnuts. Grabbed a cup to keep us company on line. It is also served pretty much everywhere.

see lemons stumptown

Voodoo Doughnuts – Informing Oregonians of our visit immediately prompted eye rolls but this staple is a cute introduction to the doughnut scene.

see lemons voodoo

Walked to Saturday market by the water front – We lucked out with perfect weather so had fun checking out the local vendor scene.

International Rose Test Garden (free) and Portland Japanese Garden (about $10) – So beautiful you may confuse the parking lot as part of the gardens.

see lemons flowers

Drove to Multnomah Falls and then hiked to the top through the switchbacks – This is a major hike for a limited view of the falls.

see lemons falls

Drove to our Airbnb, a house on a stick

house on a stick

Saw the sunset from the top (note that you can drive here and you don’t need to hike up like we did)

see lemons sunset

Baan-Thai – Decent local Thai place

Wine and relaxing

Sunday – Mount Hood and Sheepwagon, aka, Clemens and Vinessa barely escape being attached by evil deer 

Woke up to pink sunrise

see lemons sunrise

Drove from South Portland to Breakfast halfway by Trout

Mount Hood hike


Timberline Lodge – Hit the bar for a drink and lunch


Shaniko ghost town – The ice cream shop is still open and decent. Grab a cone and explore.


Crazy drive in the middle of nowhere


Dinner in The Porch (Sisters, OR) – great sweet potato strips like bacon

Stayed near Sisters in a sheepwagon – a bit too remote for us


Monday – Crater Lake National Park day

Breakfast at the Breakfast Club in Bend – Get your dose of Portland pancakes

Crater Lake National Park – Amazing park. Wish we could have spent even more time there.


Random stops along the East Rim

crater lake national park

Stayed in Crater Lake area by Chiloquin at an A-frame house with some great VHS movies

A frame house

Tuesday – Beautiful 101 drive and Redwood National Park

Breakfast on the road

Drive to the Redwoods

cow family

Stout Grove trailhead for Redwoods


Beautiful beach stops


Secret Beach – You can only walk out during low tide

beautiful beach

Got Chinese take-out (because why not?)

Stayed in Eugene in a tiny house / studio cottage in great part of town

Wednesday – Continuing our drive through national forests. Pregaming for wine tour day. 

Wake up to some flowers and a great little studio in the backyard

Breakfast at Studio One cafe – Get your fill of Oregon pancakes

Drive towards Florence to get to the 101

Drive through Heceta Head Lighthouse

beach houses

Brief stop at Flounder Inn Tavern

Drive through national forest towards McMinnville

Left Coast Cellars tasting – white pinot. On Sundays they serve pizza.

R Stuart & Co Wine Bar – Elegant and cozy

Thistle – Farm-to-fork goodness and drink some cocktails


Staying near Carlton in a fairly large house next to the farm – we loved the old school record player

Thursday – Oregon Wine Tour

Breakfast at Community Plate


Wine tour with Oregon Wine Tours – Ron was a great guide who taught us so much about Oregon pinot

oregon wine tours

WillaKenzie Estate – great pinot noir

Lemelson Vineyards – decent grapes

Lunch at Subterra

Owen Roe – great selections and knowledge staff

Caravan Coffee – pour over specialty


Lenne great wine and chat with Rob

Stayed at Abbey Road Farmhouse BNB – yes, those are old silos converted to bedroom suites

abbey road farmhouse

Dinner at Agrivino – Farm-to-table Italian food paired with Italian wine

Friday – Towards Washington with a stop in Ape Cave

Bed and breakfast delicious breakfast

Drive through Oregon into Washington

Portland for Pips Original Doughnuts – Best mini-doughnuts ever. Also try the Chai.

pips donuts

Ape Cave – Spooky but worth it. For $5, rent an old school lamp at the visitor center.

ape caves

Chinese restaurant in Kalama (because someone said this was the best place in town) – it may have been, but Clemens is a Chinese restaurant snob.

Drive to Olympia staying in University Place Airbnb – one of the best Airbnbs we’ve stayed in (below is the view from our room)

airbnb room

Saturday – Last day of roadtrip

Brunch in Tacoma at Renaissance Cafe

Drive to Seattle – fairly easy since we were staying an hour away

Explore Seattle walking around Pike Place – tried to avoid the crowd


Seattle Great Wheel – touristy, but not a bad way to spend an hour


Antique stores – a few places to poke around while walking towards the public market

Public market flowers – $5 is a pretty good deal. Happy anniversary!


Lunch at Hudson – a little place out of the way, but we had a car

Visited a few malls to buy stuff


Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory – It was that or wait over 2 hours somewhere else. That being said, super tasty comfort food is always a roadtrip special meal.  

Stayed in Bellevue coast hotel – we would have rather stay closer to the city, but this worked out pretty well.

Sunday – #cruiselife

Say goodbye to our car, Buckley.

Walk around pier 66

Board cruise


Sunday (1 week later) – #FatCruiseLife

Disembark cruise 10lbs heavier 🙁

Drop off bags at Concierge of the cruise ($3 per piece up to 3:30pm) – if you go to the airport and drop it off to come back for a full day, it would have been $19 for 2 hours. Airport robbery.

Biscuit Bitch – get the “gritty scrambled cheesy bitch” – nom nom nom


Chihuly Garden & Glass – Buy a package ticket to save wait time at the Space Needle. All the reviews say to go here for a reason. A great place for a date, if you ask me.


Seattle Needle – A bit expensive for a hit/miss view, but have fun at the top with their fancy timelapse screens that records photos every 10 minutes of every day.


Hawaiian cultural week festival

Drink at Cyclops

Hawaiian lunch at ‘Ohana – Eat all the Poke and Spam Masubi


Bought coffee and beans at Cherry Street Coffee House

Walk around and enjoy the rare sunny Seattle afternoon

Arrive to airport early to write this blogpost

~See Lemons Love Roadtripping Honeymoon with Vnessawithaneye

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