On the National Park Closures

In light of the recent tantrums being thrown in Washington, I thought I’d share my thoughts on how the behavior of our government is affecting travel, something I am obviously very passionate about. This is not a political post and I’m not opening a debate about whether or not this shutdown is right or wrong. That’s not the point of my writing. I am simply speaking to one of the results of this mess.

As you probably know, all U.S. National Parks are CLOSED until this government shutdown shuts up. I’m very disappointed that one of the consequences of all the squabbling is taking something away, not only from the American people, but also other visitors who may have planned for years to come and see an extraordinary piece of the world that the United States is fortunate enough to possess.

Think about it. School kids have been forced to cancel their field trips. Excited campers that reserved all the gear, researched the trails, bought plane tickets, have been forced to cancel their plans. This makes me sad. A great experience is being revoked, or at the very least, put on hold.

One of my many bucket list items (I don’t really have a bucket list because I find that even an infinite list is limiting), is to visit all 59 National Parks. Today, I feel so lucky to have crossed off as many as I have, which is only eight. The National Parks are special places. Treasures. Here are some of my favorite pictures from over the years….

Redwoods National Park

Redwood National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

I also have been to Haleakala in Hawaii, but no digital pictures back in 1999!

What do you think? Can I make it to all 59? Do you share the same goal to visit them all? I’m especially gung ho for American Samoa out in the South Pacific. Maybe we should have gone there instead of Fiji for our honeymoon. …Nah. Our honeymoon was perfect.

Here’s hoping that they’ll reopen soon.

xxx

P.S. My post about Acadia. And Redwood. And Everglades.

 

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Labor Day in Maine

Happy Tuesday ya’ll. Over the weekend, autumn arrived here in Portland right on cue. Mornings are now dark; the days overcast; the rain sporadic. At night there is a new chill in the air that was blissfully absent last week.

Luckily, we bid adieu to summer 2013 in the best way possible. Over an extended Labor Day weekend, we flew coast to coast (Portland to Portland to be exact) to celebrate the nuptials of two very dear friends. A wedding is as good a reason as any to travel to places that you otherwise might not prioritize. It was a no brainer to share the best day of our friends’ lives with them, but seeing as we live on the opposite side of the country, we also knew we had to make the most it. Who knows when we’ll have the opportunity to go to Maine again? Especially with 10 of our close friends?

As I mentioned before, this was my first trip to Maine and I had all sorts of ideas as to what it would be like. Quaint. Charming. Rustic. Woodsy. These words were all buzzing in my head as we prepared for our visit.

Turns out, they’re all spot on. Yet, I was surprised at just how very secluded and remote Maine felt. Maybe that was because we had to drive for hours and hours to get from one place to another, or maybe it was because we didn’t have decent cell reception ever. Outside of Portland, the small towns that speckled the landscape were few and far between.

For part of the trip, we were at a resort up in the mountains and for the rest, we rented a log cabin near the coast and Acadia National Park. We spent one day in the park and Bar Harbor, but otherwise were relaxing at the cabin, eating lobster, swigging PBRs, and laughing more than anyone should. I was all over Instagram this trip, while Jaro manned the DSLR. The pictures tell the story better than I could, so here are my Instagrams…

Holy Donut doughnuts

Holy Donut doughnuts

the good stuff

the good stuff

pier beer

pier beer

covered bridge

covered bridge

Newry, ME

morning jog in Newry, ME

Newry, ME

Newry, ME

Newry, ME

Newry, ME

Newry, ME

Newry, ME

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

our log cabin

our log cabin

view from our log cabin

view out the back door

So… Maine is perfection. And just what we needed to welcome fall.

xxx

Trip Planning: Hiking the Kalalau Trail

Jaro and I are thrilled to be heading back to Kauai this fall. It can’t come soon enough! Aside from sunning on the beautiful beaches, snorkling with sea turtles, eating all the fresh poki we can handle, and enjoying time with Jaro’s aunt, we decided to try something new while we are there this time…

We’re going to hike the entire 11 mile Kalalau Trail that runs along the breathtaking NaPali Coast. Those 11 miles take the “good conditioned” hiker one full day. So obviously, coming back out will take another full day at a minimum. This will probably be a two night trip, so we can spend a day relaxing at the final destination- Kalalau Beach. It will also depend on weather, which can turn in an instant on Kauai.

Before we could do our happy dance, we had to clear two things: That the trail is passable during this time of year (it is, but there is always a risk of rain) and that we could obtain the overnight camping permits in time because they sell out quickly (we did). Fortunately, we have all the equipment for backcountry camping, so we’re all set. Although Jaro will take any excuse for another stroll through REI.

The first time we went to Kauai together, back in 2008 (!), we hiked the first 2 miles to the Hanakapi’ai waterfalls. Climbing past giant bamboo, mountain streams and wild lychee, it was truly an unforgettable experience. Here are some pics from our little point and shoot we were using back then. These were all shot in one day and you can see how the weather changes pretty drastically from clear, to completely overcast and back.

I can’t wait for the shots we’ll take with our better camera and better photography skills!

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

one last look at NaPali

a rewarding sunset at Ke'e Beach

xxx

Daydreaming about… Maine

Today I’ve got Maine on my mind. Can you guess why? Yep, we’re flying coast to coast because we’ve got another wedding coming up (our friends pick good places to get hitched!). I’m so ready for some lobster-crackin’, wine-sippin’, pier-loungin’, good old-fashioned FUN with some dear pals. It will be my first trip to Maine and I have a strange feeling that I’m going to love it. The log cabin is booked and my plaid shirts are standing by. These pics are also helping me get in the mood…

Maine-spiration Maine-spiration Maine-spiration

The pier, the porch, the adirondacks… It all paints this scene of pleasant, breezy summertime. Hopefully, that’s what our trip will be all about. And watching our friends get hitched, of course. 

We’ll be spending time in Portland, deep in the woods and along the salty coast. Maybe a little ambitious, but hey. We’re flying coast to coast here. Gotta take full advantage.

And now for some links…

These maps showing how Americans say the same thing differently is fascinating.

Untranslatable words from around the world. Another good one is gezelligheid from the Dutch. It means cozy and warm time spent with loved ones.

I probably need to do this brewery tour if I consider myself a resident of Portland.

Also on the to-do list: Befriend Jack Johnson and snag a seat at his next dinner party.

Speaking of food, the chefs that did our insanely creative, one-of-a-kind rehearsal dinner combining foods of our heritage (i.e. barbacoa pork perogi and jalepeño-infused borscht) have a top-rated restaurant now, Fat Rice. I’m so happy for them.

Ending with a somber note- Did you watch this? You should. Basic premise: Don’t text and drive. Ever.

xxx

{images 1, 2, 3}

Booked: Flag Point Lookout Weekend

Did you love tree houses as much as I did when you were young? My friend across the street had one in her backyard and we’d spend countless hours up there, plotting, the way kids do, away from the prying eyes and ears of adults. There was something magical about being up high, among the trees, away from the ground reality. I never outgrew this fascination. Maybe it’s because I’m short; any method of being higher/taller than others gives me great satisfaction.

So imagine my pure, child-like glee when I found out that you can rent forest fire lookouts in the National Forests around Oregon (and beyond) during the off-season. You know, to sleep in. Like a cabin, but way up high over the trees. How cool is that! My Oregonian friend mentioned wanting to do this awhile ago, and obviously we were in. It’s yet another instance of all the awesome things to do in and around Portland. Four of us are going to be staying at the Flag Point Lookout in Mount Hood National Forest for a weekend next fall.

It’s seriously cool!

flagpoint lookout, or

Flag Point Lookout, OR

With views like this!

flagpoint lookout, or

Mount Hood, OR

Isn’t it beautiful? I can picture it already… Playing board games, wrapping up in our cozy Pendleton blankets, eating, I don’t know, salmon jerky(?), drinking whiskey hot chocolate from our Stanley thermos… all with those rich autumnal colors surrounding us. It’s a photo shoot waiting to happen.

The reservation process is a little intense. Lookouts can be reserved exactly 6 months prior to their availability, so you gotta have a plan and act fast before someone else snatches up the days you want. Weekends are especially competitive. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit we were both logged in and frantically hitting the refresh button waiting for Flag Point to become available… for six months from now.

If you’re interested, here is the website where you can browse and select accommodations: recreation.gov. There are really cool spots all over the country, but we selected one that would be an easy weekend trip from Portland.

xxx

(image 1, 2)

Day Trip: Mount Hood, Multnomah Falls & the Gorge

Another day, another adventure. With my dad visiting, we thought it’d be as good a time as any to trek out to Mount Hood. Only an hour’s drive from Portland, Mt Hood is several things: the highest point in Oregon (roughly 11,200 ft), home to 12 (!) glaciers, almost year-round skiing and considered an active volcano (though not likely to erupt, or explode in the near future). Pretty impressive, huh? We can usually see it towering over the city like a watchful eye or something. Its icy white peak stands alone.

The trip was sort of a bust in that we drove completely around Hood and didn’t see a wink peak of her. Why? Because although Portland has been a balmy 60-ish degrees, Mt Hood looked like this:

Mount Hood, OR

Mount Hood, OR

That’s right. A totally NOT balmy 30 degrees and covered in snow and clouds. Oh well. My dad will just have to come again to see her.

It wasn’t a total waste. We drove the Gorge (again) and stopped at the truly magnificent Multnomah Falls. Gorgeous scenery, flowering groves, inspring panoramas and not a snowflake in sight. Oh, and a pit stop at Full Sail Brewery in Hood River. So really… not even close to a waste at all.

Troutdale, OR

Troutdale, OR

Mount Hood National Forest, OR

Mount Hood National Forest, OR

Hood River, OR

Hood River, OR

Full Sail Brewery, Hood River, OR

Full Sail Brewery, Hood River, OR

Multnomah Falls, OR

Multnomah Falls, OR

View of Vista House, Columbia River Gorge, OR

View of Vista House (teeny tiny on that overlook), Columbia River Gorge, OR

View from Vista House, Columbia River Gorge, OR

View from Vista House, Columbia River Gorge, OR

Cascade Range, WA

Cascade Range, WA

Oregon, you are wooing me with your springtime delights.

xxx

Daydreaming about… Oregon wine country

Hi friends. I’m enjoying a fantastic visit from my father this week. We’ve already done so much (new!) stuff around Oregon that I’ll be sharing soon. This weekend will consist of some house updating (this will be an ongoing battle for awhile), but also gluttonous (and well-deserved) meals and beverages around the city. Looking forward.

Today, I’m pining for a visit out to wine country here in my very own state. We have yet to visit any wineries (though we have tried our fair amount of the local varieties), and I’m eager to learn more about the ones around here. After seeing the grandeur of Napa Valley, quiet elegance of Sonoma, and enchanting Alsace region in France, I’m looking forward to discovering some low key and comfortable vineyards where the attitude is totally relaxed and a short drive away! The wineries around the Columbia River Gorge are just lovely… Columbia River Gorge Wineries

This blog post looks super helpful. Isn’t it gorgeous out there? I can’t wait for the warm dry summer months to leisurely explore it. I love seeing those vines heavy with grapes. Makes my eyelids heavy just thinking about it. I think I just need some wine and R&R after how busy we’ve been getting the house set up. Last night was a painting session that went well into morning.

Have a great weekend everybody! Here are some fun links I found this week:

Did you see this? What an amazing, unique way to capture your travels. If only we had a theme…

The world’s most colorful cities, according to someone with credibility. Disappointingly, I’ve only been to 3… so far.

A useful resource for making friends in a new city. I’m happy to report I’m off to a wonderful start.

I love the smart graphics in this Mad Men modernization.

PSA: Clean your computer. Right now.

xxx

Monday Travel Memory: Kauai

It’s spring break here in Portland and traffic was noticeably lighter this morning. Where is everyone? Oh, I know – HAWAII. I’d give anything to be on a warm beach right now. Anything except our house, that is. Alas, since we are moving into our house this coming weekend (oh my god, can you believe it?!) a proper spring break was not in the cards this year.

Jaro and I have been to Kauai together twice and are furiously itching to get back there again soon, especially now that it’s one short flight away. I won’t go into all the reasons why it is special (at least not in this post), suffice to say it’s one of our favorite places in the world for many, many reasons.

I took the photo below on our first visit back in 2008, when we hiked along the Kalalau Trail and soaked up the views of the incredible NaPali Coast. The sheer beauty of the island is truly awe-inspiring and this is one of the few instances in my life where I simply don’t have the words to describe it. Nothing seems to do it justice.NaPali Coast, KauaiIsn’t it… right?! Where are the words! Dumbstruck. It will have to hold me over until we figure out our life get settled enough to focus on a vacation.

To everyone on spring break – enjoy!! 

 

xxx

 

Monday Travel Memory: The Sea

Hey all! It’s a sunny Monday and we are officially within the two week mark until we move into our house. After a great weekend, I can’t be anything but excited as we enter this final stretch getting into our home. We’ve been literally displaced for four and a half months now and emotionally displaced for eight and a half. I am so ready to feel settled. Beyond ready. Let’s be real.

For this Monday travel memory, I have a confession to make: I am totally awe-struck by the ocean. Anybody else? My entire life, I have felt this compelling urge drawing me to it. For awhile, I was even considering being a marine biologist and I’m pretty sure it’s because I thought I could play in the water everyday with dolphins or something.

Maybe it’s due to my upbringing in the Midwest; I was far, far away from any coastline and it always felt like this magical, imaginary place that I was lucky enough to see once a year when we would take family trips down to Florida. It was special.

Lake Michigan, while great (get it?), was not the same. It was not enough. And now, I live 90 minutes away from the Pacific Coast here in Oregon. We have gone out to it twice (here and here). Still, when I see signs on the highway pointing to “Ocean Beaches” I can’t help but do a double-take. Oh yeah, it’s right down the road.

As a kid, I loved playing in the sand, collecting shells, chasing crabs. As a teenager, I loved laying out under the sun, listening to TLC and N’Sync refined musical selections on my discman; my skin getting so fried to a crisp tanned that I was unrecognizable. As an adult, I do those things (now with strong SPF), but also just stare out and watch the waves. Feeling small. I know I can only speak for myself, but I tend to have a big personality (probably to make up for my petite size). Sitting and staring out at the ocean, is humbling in a way. You can’t help but feel small.

Pula, Croatia

This photo was taken one early morning on the rocky shores when we road-tripped through Croatia. I think as I age, I become more and more captivated by the sea. I can sit there in total stillness for hours. Mesmerized. So how fitting is this shot? A quiet moment of calm at the insanely gorgeous Croatian coastline near Pula. Wish I could be back there.

xxx

Daydreaming about… Ireland

As we head into St. Patrick’s Day weekend (do you celebrate?) I can’t help but think about Irish countryside. Call me cliché. I was lucky enough to visit Ireland in 2011 by myself (!) and it was such thrill to travel there alone. It is SO green. Those lush, vibrant pastures were so peaceful, especially when dotted with grazing sheep. If I were to travel there again, I would spend more time on the western coast and explore the southern coast as well.

IrelandOkay, so that first image was heavily edited. Here are two of mine from my solo trip: IrelandIrelandNothing can convey the freshness of the air in western Ireland. It drifts in from the Atlantic and is salty and clean. I need to experience that again.

Seriously, do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? We normally don’t, but we are excited to get together with some friends this weekend to listen to bagpipers, eat corned beef and cabbage, and have one a couple beers. Being festive is fun.

In other news, I thought it might be fun to share some links that I come across during the week. Not sure if this will be a theme, but I will share when I think it’s worthy:

Which Americans have passports (and more so which ones don’t) is very telling.

Refinery 29 just did a sweet round up of Portland hotspots.

I need to throw a wine and cheese party immediately. Housewarming, perhaps?

Actually, I like the idea of a cheap beer taste test too. Funny!

This man is inspiring, especially since I have been pining for my stuff. It makes me realize how irrational I can be. (link via my favorite, Cup of Jo)

Have a great weekend, friends.

xxx