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My US adventures 2011 - Part Eight: Portland, OR

Sunday 21 August

In the afternoon, Peter dropped me off at Brittyn's place in Hillsboro, Oregon to end our mid west road trip. He headed back to Chicago, via Seattle, to return the rental car for me (one way rental was an extra US$1000!) which I really appreciated. Brittyn and I walked to the park and the library to get my bearings. I then had a shower and dinner consisting of pasta salad Brittyn said she'd made (I found out later her mother, Sydney had in fact made the meal!) and some roasted vegetables I'd bought at WholeFoods previously that day. Then I caught up on a bit of computer work and it was bed time.

Monday 22 August

Brittyn's cat, Corwin hates me. He hissed at Peter and I yesterday, and kept me from slumber in the early hours of the morning. There is something wrong with him, it took quite awhile to get ready for the vet, big dramas.

Brittyn's Mum, Sydney, picked me up to head to her place to use her WIFI and do my washing. Unfortunately we couldn't locate the WIFI password, so I caught up on editing videos. I had pasta salad that Syd had made previously and an apple for lunch.

This is the interior of Brittyn's hybrid car:

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Brittyn and I headed to dinner at Sweet Lemon Vegan Bistro in Bethany, one of the Loving Hut restaurants. We ordered the Heavenly Kabob - charbroiled marinated soy protein with finely grated lemongrass on skewers, sprinkled with sesame seeds US$5:

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Brittyn ordered the Zen Noodles - marinated tofu, noodles and assorted vegetables served with sweet lemon's sauce US$8:

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I ordered Treasure Island - grilled marinated soy protein, tofu and assorted vegetables served on a nest of crispy noodles US$8:

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This is a great, friendly place. The food is pretty simple with all of the dishes seeming to be made up of soy protein or tofu, the same sort of assorted vegetables for each meal and served with noodles or rice. This is a much healthier Loving Hut-style restaurant than the one in Brisbane. Brittyn and I shared the lemon cake for dessert:

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and had the strawberry cake to takeaway:

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 Tuesday 23 August

I did a bit of computer work in the morning before Brittyn and I went to Bullwinkle's in Wilsonville around lunch time to play mini golf (putt putt) for my first time. I am fast becoming to realise that Brittyn is way too competitive for me... As in, this is my first time playing mini golf, and I never really have cared for winning at all (don't be on a team with me if you do!) as it's all about the experience of the game for me - typical Sagittarius behaviour. Brittyn isn't very good at encouraging her competitor but it was still fun with Brittyn winning with 63 and myself getting 78. Brittyn also got a hole in one which was pretty exciting!

Then we went go-karting where I was pretty content just going around the track, looking at the excitement on the kids' faces and looking at the scenery, Brittyn became a race-car driver intent on taking out whoever was in her path. Then it was time for the arcade games where Brittyn won air hockey and I won win the percussion game that had great Japanese-style songs and versions of popular tunes that you could play on the drum kit to, similar to Guitar Hero which I love. We tried the photo booth but the photos were really bad quality unfortunately.

For dinner, we were meeting friends of mine, Mark and Imber (who I had stayed with last year when I staying in Portland) at Blossoming Lotus . We were a bit early though, so we dropped by Scapegoat Tattoo where my friend, Brian works. It was great to see him and to hear about his tattooing adventures overseas. Brittyn and I then went to a thrift store where I bought a couple of really cute dresses then headed to Blossoming Lotus

Mark ordered the crispy artichoke fritters US$8:

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I ordered the Live nachos US$10:

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Imber ordered the Grilled polenta with wild rice US$14

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With roasted zucchini, cauliflower, with fennel, sage, tempeh with basil, rosemary and roasted butternut sauce and mixed baby kale:

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Brittyn & Mark ordered the Fafitas. Brittyn with portobello and veg, Mark with soy curls:

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I also ordered the Live sorrel pesto and portobello pizza US$13

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For dessert Mark had the banana, almond cream cheese layer cake:

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Brittyn had a coconut passionfruit cupcake:

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I had the pomegranate raw cheesecake which was lovely:

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And Imber had the vanilla soft serve:

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Here's a photo of Brittyn, myself, Mark and Imber:

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It was great to have dinner at Blossoming Lotus again and it was great to hang out with Mark and Imber!

Wednesday 24 August

Today I caught up on a lot of blog and computer work when Brittyn was at work. For dinner we went to Syd's place where Brittyn's Mum cooked us a great meal: Lasagne with zucchini, spinach, tomato sauce, onion, tofu, Daiya cheese, Boca crumbles. Served with garlic bread and a salad of heirloom tomatoes and lettuce with Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinaigrette Goddess Dressing:

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After dinner Brittyn insisted on playing a game called Aggravation that I had never heard of before. Even her own Mother was apprehensive about playing this game knowing full well the extent of her competitiveness! This was a horrible game where you try to get your markers around the game but you may just have to go right back to the start if someone (Brittyn) lands on your marker. Brittyn obviously won. I'm sure Syd knew that nothing helps get over the sting of Brittyn's competitiveness than something sweet to eat, so she served up some So Delicious vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries and roasted hazelnuts:

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Here's a couple of photos - one of Syd & I and one with Brittyn & I:

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A great way to end the night - thanks for dinner, Syd!

Thursday 25 August

I spent the morning working on the computer and catching up on blogging. Robert Cheeke from Vegan Bodybuilding picked me up around lunchtime and we headed out and about in Portland. First stop was the amazing Powell's bookstore where we first headed to the Fitness section to check that Robert's book was still in stock. Yes it was, here's proof:

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We got quite a few photos of Robert posing with his book:

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Plus I rearranged the books, still keeping them in alphabetical order mind you, so that his Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness book was featured. I also wrote a lil' recommendation note for customers:

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I wonder how long it was there for? I then headed to the Astrology section where I immersed myself in the amazing selection and bought a couple of text books. I also bought a crossword book for my parents as they love to do crosswords together.

After Powell's Robert and I were hungry so we ordered food at Prasad and sat out in the sun. I ordered a Bachelor Bar US$4: 

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I ordered a Bunny sly carrot and ginger juice US$5:

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Robert ordered an amazing Ganesh Bowl - steamed greens, yellow coconut vegetable curry with cilantro (coriander), sesame seed and lime with quinoa US$9:

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I also ordered a Bhakit raw pasta - zucchini noodles with lemon, basil, cashew alfredo sauce, tomatoes, shredded kale, carrots, broccoli and spinach US$9:

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After our meal we drove to the Vendetta bar where the first part of the Vida Vegan Con was taking place: the Meet and Greet. Robert and I met up with various people and made some new friends. I met a lot of people who read my blogs, follow me on Twitter and/or are my fans or friends on FaceBook, it was really great to put so many faces to names and I'm now even more excited about the conference! We were at the meet and greet for a few hours before we all walked down to the Curious Comedy Theater where Marisa's film Vegucated was being shown. I had previously seen this in LA at the Animal Rights Conference but was looking forward to seeing it a second time especially as the theater was sold out! Imber and Mark were there as well, along with various other friends including Jasmin from Our Hen House. Robert drove me back to Brittyn's after the documentary finished and I filled her in on the great day Robert and I had together. Here's a photo of Corwin when he was (mostly) still - this is the best I could get...

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Friday 26 August

Today I was looking forward to finally meeting Alex Jamieson in person! I had first seen Alex on her then-boyfriend Morgan Spurlock's very popular documentary Super Size Me. In the film Morgan mentioned that Alex was a vegan and I could never understand how she would agree to him eating only McDonald's for a month. A few years later Alex released her book The Great American Detox Diet: Feel Better, Look Better, and Lose Weight by Cleaning Up Your Diet explaining that she agreed that Morgan could do the film and the diet on the condition that he follow her detox programme afterwards, thus began the writing of her book. Alex's book, along with books Allergy Cooking with Ease by Nicolette M Dumke & Vegan on a Shoestring by the People's Potato Collective inspired my 2007 Viva la Vegan! Recipe calendar (now recycled recipe cards) to focus on more alternative foods and grains. My obsession with quinoa began in 2006 when I was researching for my next calendar release!

Alex runs Delicious Vitality and we were meant to meet last year when we were both in Portland but it didn't work out, so today Alex picked myself and my luggage up from Brittyn's and we went to the food cart area in Portland to have lunch. We decided on the Japanese Food Cart where we bought two tofu dishes US$6 each and shared them. One was the Tofu steak with rice and veg:

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The other was the Tofu Agadashi with rice and veg:

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They were both great but we thought brown rice would have been better! After lunch Alex and I found a spot to do our interview. Here it is:

Alex and I had a great time together, she dropped me off near the Portland State University Place Hotel and I walked until I found the exact location - too many one-way streets. This was where the Vida Vegan Con was to take place and I was staying with my friend, Anika and her cousin, Arianne. Anika is from Seattle where she runs Vegan Score as well as Lions Share Industries with her partner, Kirby. I had interviewed both Kirby and Anika last year and had a great time in Seattle last year with them and the rest of the Seattle crew. I did a bit of computer work before Anika arrived, then we hung out for awhile before heading to registration where we got the best bag of goodies I've ever seen at any event I've been to - and I've been to a lot!

That night was the champagne and cupcake reception where I ate a few cupcakes and drank some non-alcoholic beverages. I also saw Sean who runs the blog Fat, Gay, Vegan - another person from Brisbane. I had met Sean and his partner, Josh when Josh had won the Bake Off competition for his chocolate chip cookies, at a fundraiser for my first Green Earth Festival in 2009. I was looking forward to getting to know Sean better this weekend. I was also looking forward to meeting Stephanie Redcross who runs the vegan marketing website Vegan Mainstream and Ryan (who I email quite regularly) from TOFU magazine.

Even though Anika and I were exhausted after a big day/week, we decided to join the girls at Suki's bar along with Arianne for one of my favourite things: karaoke. I was glad we went out as it was a lot of fun. I did a not-so-good rendition of Stevie Nick's Stand Back but later on did a great version of Salt-N-Pepa's Shoop - it was ever so much fun (Arianne has video footage!) - I had always wanted to be Pep when I was at high school and I loved Salt-N-Pepa! It was a late night but well worth it. Jasmin let me down by not coming as she was working on her speech for the next day. We would have been a great duet on The Trolley Song by Judy Garland...

Saturday 27 August

In spite of my best intentions to sleep in, I awoke to eat breakfast early. There were pancakes on offer after all! So, I had pancakes and a great chia parfait and some yoghurt. Then we listened to Laura Beck's welcome address as well as the gals from Vida Vegan Con. Since I had woken up too early for breakfast I headed back up to my room to catch up on sleep and then some computer work before lunch:

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Here is the cutest photo of Jasmin and I from Kathy Peterman - note our watch rings/ring watches. Jasmin and I were separated at birth definitely!

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Then I was off to the Positive Blogging panel where I was speaking with Christa from Veggin' Out with Christa, Gena from Choosing Raw & Janessa from Epicurious Vegan. I spoke about how I try to keep things positive on my blog, because 1. it's not good ettiquette to speak about others unfavourably especially if you haven't spokent to them first to sort out the situation and 2. some of the places I blog about have no websites of their own and I don't want a negative review of a vegan business to be the first link on an internet search that people see. I also gave some examples of how to speak to restaurants that call themselves vegan but serve honey and about poor customer service. I also don't have the comment feature on my blog activated as I don't care what others think of my blog - this statement caused a bit of a ruckus! My blog is just one part of the VLV! website, not the be all and end all. There was some great questions from the audience too. Here's the video of our panel:

Here's the four of us (L-R) Christa, L-C, Gena and Janessa after our talk:

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photo by Kathy Peterman. Check out Gena's blog on her Choosing Raw website. After our panel I headed to the Dating & Mating panel with Anika, it was a bit of fun. Here's a cute photo that Anika took of Sean and I:

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Sean suggested that I get interviewed for the Live video streaming that was happening, and since I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to be on camera, I said "hell, yes!" Here's some photos Sean took:

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With my new dress. Shoes from Chocolate Shoebox:

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Here's the interview I did live with Jeff from the Cool Vegetarian - I had the most people viewing when it was live!

See more videos from the conference HERE. After the interview I had a quick chat to Stephanie from Vegan Mainstream and then headed upstairs to get ready for the Gala - I was the emcee for the event after all. The gala night was held at the Ambridge Event Center so we had to leave the VVC cocoon and venture outside. There were 350 people at the gala, with food, drinks, a sundae bar and a silent auction with money raised going to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in New York.

There was some great entertainment on the night, including DJ The Jet Boat Adventurer; Stephan Nance - who describes himself as awkwardly charming vegan straight-edge queer alternative piano pop musician and who reminded me of a young Ben Lee! There was also comedy by Louvella Heartichoke, plus music from Jessica Rose Messern, including her Vida Vegan theme song. Robert Cheeke entertained us all on the dance floor, and everyone had a great time.

Here's a few photos from the night. L-C, Ryan & Kira from T.O.F.U. magazine - See my blog about them

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L-C and Marisa fromVegucated:

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Here's a cute pic of Anika and I - love this lass!

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And one with my roomies: Anika and Arianne:

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In one of the corners, there was a photo booth, where you have seven seconds and there are 50+ photos taken of you. It's then put together into a flip book. This was a lot of fun. I was given two books, I sent one to Peter. Here's my seven seconds of posing, Flip Book-style:

 

After the gala finished, Anika, Sean, Arianne and I walked to the mini mall as they were all staying open late for us. Chad and crew at Food Fight Grocery were very busy what with Upton's Naturals cooking up a feast in the back room. Anika, Sean and Arianne ended up going to drink and socialise with others at Hungry Tiger Too. I went to Scapegoat Tattoo to get Brian and we lined up for ages to order and wait for our food, it was good though! Brian went back to work and I went to Sweetpea Bakery to eat my food where Imber and Mark were along with some friends. It was here that Mark advised me that the Jackalope did in fact not exist (see my road trip with Peter blog) hmm, should have trusted my instincts... Mark and Imber walked to Hungry Tiger Too with me to see if the girls were ready to go back to the hotel and since they were not, Mark drove me back. I had planned to go to sleep but ended up uploading my talks to my computer until the girls came back. It was a really fun day and night. I will be tired in the morning...

Sunday 28 August

I shouldn't be up so early, it's ridiculous, but the amazing chia parfait and pancakes are calling me plus my Activism panel was starting at 9:40. Mental note: try to get out of any talks in the future that start before 10/11am. It was going to be a long day as I couldn't have an afternoon nap as I had the Vegan Fashion panel at 1:45pm after lunch. I had also found out this morning from my close school friend, Michelle that one of our mates from school, Andrew had passed away. His funeral was on Tuesday, I would be back home in Australia the day before so hopefully I will be able to attend. Jasmin and I headed over to our room for the panel and waited for the others to arrive. I was excited about this panel as I was going to be joined with Jasmin and Ryan. A lot of my activist friends didn't really see the value in a bloggers conference as they thought it was just going to be talking about food and food photography, well it definitely wasn't! Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House was the moderator and on the panel with me (L-R below pic) were Ryan Patey of TOFU Magazine, Chelsea Lincoln of Flavor Vegan, Sunny Subramanian of PETA 2 & Vegan Beauty Review and Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Post Punk Kitchen.

I was speaking about the various ways I get involved, and encourage others to be involved, in activism with Viva la Vegan! and my not-for-profit environmental awareness group, Green Earth Group who put on Brisbane's all-vegan festival for the past two years. It was a good panel.

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above pic by JL from JL Goes Vegan

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Photo on the Left by Kelly from Shiny Happy Vegan photo on the Right by Dawn from Vegan Moxie

Here's the video from our panel:

After our panel I caught up on some computer work in the room but didn't have time for a sleep before lunch consisting of a Mexican feast:

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Next was the Vegan Fashion panel with Janessa Philemon-Kerp of Modified Style & Epicurious Vegan (our second panel together!) and Anika Ledhe of Lions Share Industries & Vegan Score. This was a really great fun and interactive panel and I loved being on a panel with these two ladies. I don't wear or use any non-vegan items whether they are second-hand or not and I would much rather bury the animal who died back into the ground or sell the item online to raise money for an animal charity/sanctuary. I also shop mostly at second-hand and vintage stores and try not to by items made in countries where sweatshop labour exists or that come from large chain stores. These are just my views, Janessa, Anika and the audience all have different lines that they draw. Check out the video from our panel:

Here's a cute pic of the three of us (L-R): L-C, Janessa & Anika:

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photo by Kathy Peterman - see her other photos on Flickr

Then Anika, Sean and I went to see Jasmin and a few others on the Opinionated Bloggers panel before heading to the main room for the closing address by Isa and Terry Romero.  The VVC was so organised and well-run (how I like things to be!) by people who know exactly what they're doing and how to do it. Jess is already talking me into being at the next event in 2013, I'll most likely be there! There are many blogs about the conference, with a Google Bundle collection of blogs from the bloggers who attended plus a Flickr Photo Stream with many photos, including Gail from The Hungry Vegan's Photo Diary with a cute pic of her and I who I met when I first arrived at the hotel.  Thanks to these lovely ladies (L-R) Jess Scone from Get Sconed!StumptownVegans.com, Janessa Philemon-Kerp from Epicurious Vegan, Modified Style and Michele Truty from Vegtastic Voyage for putting on such a great event:

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Photo by Sayward Rebhal

Most people started leaving, slowly, as though they didn't want the weekend to end. I understand completely as this also marks then end of my 2011 US adventures. After 8 weeks here, I'm heading home tomorrow and I really don't want to be. Last year I was ready to leave, this year I'm not at all. Maybe I was looking for a reason to stay this whole time. I have a few. But I also have a lot of work to do from September to December back in Brisbane and interstate so I do actually have to go home now. The first thing I have to do when I get home is attend Andrew's funeral...

I said goodbye to old friends and the great new ones I'd made, had a great chat to Stephanie Redcross from Vegan Mainstream and worked out how we can work together in the future. As I was waiting around for Brittyn to pick me up, I had long conversations with Peter and then Holly on the phone. The hotel was getting everything ready for the next event, but it wasn't quiet - there was an accident where someone drove into one of the glass windows!

Brittyn picked me up and we went to get bubble tea at Fat Straw before heading back home to her place. We just had some snacks for dinner that night. I filled Brittyn in on the weekend's happenings and gave her some goodies from my goodie bag, it was great to stay with her and hang out with her Mum, Syd, but her cat doesn't seem to think much of me - Corwin still glares at me.

I now have the issue of trying to pack my bag. I have one suitcase, my laptop and a bag with my handbag, video camera, (my tripod just broke, today - one less thing to pack!) water bottle etc in it. As I had accumulated a few extra things since getting here 8 weeks ago, it was a bit of a mission to fit everything in plus I didn't really want to have another bag to carry if I didn't have to. Fortunately after taking everything out of my suitcase and rolling all my clothes tightly everything just fit in my suitcase. Brittyn didn't think it would work, I didn't really either but I always live in hope. Great! One more sleep. Brittyn and I stayed up talking way too late.

Monday 29 August

Syd picked me up and dropped me off at the PDX airport for my flight at 11:45 to Boise where I arrived at 13:45 (1 hour time difference.) I had tacos a a lil' place at the airport for lunch which wasn't that exciting US$4 ish:

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Then I left Boise at 15:20 and arrived at LAX at 16:25. I had a few people I could have organised to hang out with for a few hours before my flight home later that night, but I ended up deciding to stay at the airport. I bought some crisps, pistachios and Mrs May's cashews at one of the kiosks to get me through the next few hours. I was aiming on catching up on some work when I was at the airport, but ended up speaking to a lot of my friends, saying goodbye for now and hoping that it wouldn't be long until I saw them again. When I was having a conference call with Nik and Ramy I heard someone say "LC" I look around and it's my friend Dave from Brisbane (!!) who was in LA with other Supreme Master initiates for an event a few days ago. I ended up saying goodbye to the guys and hanging out with Dave and the others for about half an hour before our flight boarded at 23:55. As always, I had an amazing time on my latest US adventures, and I will miss my friends excessively, but (as they say on reality TV show, Big Brother) it's time to go, Leigh-Chantelle.  

I never really talk to people much on flights as this is the one time I can sleep really well. I normally sit in the chair, get comfortable and go to sleep for the duration of the flight, only getting up to eat, stretch my legs and go to the bathroom. This time there was a guy on the flight home with me who I ended up chatting with quite a bit, when I was awake. Sean Druitt is a Producer from Halfbrick Studios a game development company based in Brisbane who designed the game Fruit Ninja that is quite a popular game. Sean was in Seattle at a gaming conference and now heading home to his family. He showed me how to play games on his iPhone and I got to play Fruit Ninja  - I told him this was very vegan-friendly! - and Monster Dash, something different and fun! December Update: watch this cute video of a cat playing Fruit Ninja!

Wednesday 31 August

I arrived safely home at 6:45am Brisbane time. Mum picked me up from the airport and we went to Atomica in West End for a vegan tofu scramble:

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Tomorrow will be Andrew Porter's funeral at the Gold Coast, we went to school together, had a lot of fun together and he dated a few of my friends. He was 33, a year older than me, and died way too early from cancer when all he wanted to do was fly planes, surf and hang out with his wife and his mates. These sort of things remind me of why I can't stand pharmaceutical companies, mainstream media, religions and the cancer business. But it also reminds me that people take what they need to get by, like I always say: whatever gets you through. Friends, experiences and just life can get us all through just when we need it.

I know so many people on this wonderful world, many of whom I am lucky to call friends, and a select few that are life-long friends. I know who they are and I hope they also know who they are. Until next time, remember to love xx

USA_Adventures_CoverMy USA Adventures - the Book by Leigh-Chantelle (ISBN 978-0-9808484-2-7) is now available to purchase in paperback on Amazon US & Amazon UK, Barnes & NobleEspresso Book Machine and other online retailers. Wholesale info for Retail Stores, Libraries, Colleges, Schools, Universities: Ingram Books.
See HERE for more information.

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