Day 21 of Miami to Alaska Family Road Trip: Back in the U.S.A. and on to Quirky Oregon

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It's kind of interesting that you won't find such a nice looking sign welcoming you to the U.S. through Mexico.

On the 21st day of our Miami to Alaska family road trip we disembarked the Disney Wonder cruise ship refreshed and recharged to commence the second and final half of our national road trip with several days in our favorite state Oregon.

Microsoft Headquarters

On our way to Oregon we were invited for lunch and a tour of Microsoft’s worldwide headquarters in Redmond, Washington by our good friend Jose Piñero, who is a public relations executive with the company.  (Bill Gates originally established Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico but relocated the company to his home state of Washington in 1979).

The massive complex we visited resembles a modern day college campus with dozens of employee-only restaurants, a bank and much more.  The company has more than 55,000 of its 90,000 employees located in Washington state, with the bulk of them occupy the sprawling Redmond campuses.

Briani practices her computer skills at Microsofts' headquarters in Redmond, WA. (Copyright, 2011 PapiBlogger)

The Altair 8800 that inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to start the company

This Star Trek transporter art piece is on permanent display at Microsoft's offices.

Before getting back on the road Jose took us to the company’s small Microsoft Visitor Center.  The exhibits include a display of technology history, such as the Altair 8800 that inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to start the company.  Jose also took us “back stage” to the areas where gamers test play new Xbox games before they are released to market.  Microsoft is rolling out some incredible new games this Fall around it’s well regarded Kinect game console for Xbox and all of it is centers on movement games rather than game controllers.

Why Oregon Intrigues Us

Oregon has a reputation for being a bit of a hippie state so it makes sense that we saw the first hitch hikers of our entire road trip today here.   I wish I had taken a photo of the hitch hikers but my point is that in Oregon it’s okay to be quirky.  This is a state that adores the outdoors and is vehemently environmental.  It’s also the my wife and I’s favorite place for coffee.  I don’t fully understand why but it seems that there are hundreds – I seriously mean hundreds – of little coffee huts throughout this great state.  Our favorite coffee is from a chain called Dutch Bros. Coffee.

Disney Vacation Tip of the Day

Here’s a handy tip for those frustrating late night hotel searches on the road.  If marathon driving, exhaustion or poor planning leaves you in the middle of nowhere without hotel vacancies, don’t despair.  You would think that getting a room in remote motels and hotels is easy but in fact the opposite is often true during the summer because you’re not only competing for rooms with other families like you but with truckers.  If the hotels you contact don’t have vacancies, don’t be shy to ask the late night clerk for phone numbers and addresses to nearby hotels.  In my travels I find that most overnight hotel clerks within 10 miles of each other, know each other and even recommend customers to each other.  Ask and you will find.



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