Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oregon Road Trip

Well I covered 1, 729 miles exploring Cali and Oregon with 2 good friends, Alex and Jonny as we traveled to Portland to visit my college roommate, Andrea!

Day 1: Destination- Ft. Bragg, CA (on the coast)
We drove all day and were ready to set up camp, but all the camp sites ended up being permanent trailer home residence (scary), so we drove around and found some coastal access lacking a "no camping" sign. We set up camp and woke up to this: woohoo!

Day 2:

We kept on trucking up the coast, destination:
giant redwood trees! We paid $5 to drive through
one of them...very exciting. We journeyed on the
Avenue of the Giants and saw some large slugs,
massive trees, and monumental sights. I felt like
I was in Super Size world in Mario 3. We then played at the beach for a little while and continued onto Redwood State Park where we set up camp in the rain and got a good night's sleep cuddling as 3 in my 2 person tent.

Day 3: We continued through a gorge and some great back roads and finally happened upon a Dairy Queen...yeah! Jonny's Dad lives in a lovely place called Talent, Oregon where everyone has a special talent for redneck ways. We stayed with him for the night and went out to the local pizza joint. Jonny showed us the nightlife secrets that included a live auction of useless crap and the local watering hole where we tore up the place singing karaoke and drinking PBR while a local girl wearing cheetah print go-go boots sang her heart out. I've gotta say that the place has character!

Day 4:
Finally I met up with Andrea in Salem and we immediately left to go to the cool city: Portland. I managed to save a lot of money camping and packing my lunch, but once we hit the city and all its fine foods and activities, it's difficult to say no!

Day 5: Andrea and I left for some road tripping to Hood River and Mt. Hood, where we ate delicious hot cidar at a local Orchard (above) and drove through the snow that's already falling over the mountain pass. She is still persuading me to move to Oregon and I think the visit to the quiet little town of Hood River may have won me over...we'll see.

We stopped at a burger joint called Calamity Jane's and had delicious meals. Andrea informed our waitress of my birthday so she offered a free ice cream sundae, which of course I could not turn down, but then I realized that these kinds of places usually sing or make a scene. I began to calm down when I saw our waitress return without an entourage of singing servers, but then she banged something metallic and announced to the restaurant my name and how old I was turning and encouraged everyone to sing "Happy Birthday" as I stood on my chair. HA! It was embarrassing, but fun.

Then Andrea, who knows me so well, got a gang together to enjoy some haunted houses in the city. It was a perfect way to spend my birthday!!!

Day 6: After enjoying the conveniences of civilization, which included a movie in a theater, good food, and driving over 45 mph on roads, it was time to say goodbye to Portland and Salem.

Day 7: Alex and I traveled to Bend, Oregon and had lunch with JJ, a friend from Squaw Kids, then we continued to Crater Lake, only to find the road closed. I was bummed, but we wasted time seeing some other nice views. As we drove, we saw a sign pointing to Crater Lake that was open, so I booked it on the back roads to make the sunset, and was it worth it! I wish this photo did the place justice!

Day 8:
So we picked up Jonny at his dad's house and continued on to Mt. Shasta in Cali (below). It's a 14,100 ft. mountain that rises from almost sea level, so it's pretty spectacular. We camped one last night near a lake and then headed back to Tahoe, another amazing and beautiful place.

This was the best road trip I've ever taken (aside from New Zealand). Good friends, breath-taking places, and a reliable car...life is good.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Buffett in L.A. and Halloween

We left a beautiful spot in Yosemite on Friday only to return to another one: Lake Tahoe. I can't get enough of beautiful places! But Saturday morning I did a 180 and left on a flight for LA after experiencing the 1st snowfall of the year in Tahoe and reacquainting myself with icy roads. My mom's best friend, Gail King, lives in LA and had extra Jimmy Buffett tickets and invited me about a week before my Yosemite trip. I thought, when is this opportunity going to arise again? So I found some cheap airfare and got on the plane and have absolutely no regrets. I had so much fun partying with 50 year olds. They get to the tailgates early and come fully prepared! And they have connections to manage spectacular seats (no lawn section for the seasoned Buffett vets!) Gail treated me like royalty and despite the 5 lane highways and smoggy skies, she made me feel at home in LA. The concert was so much fun and I even scored a cheeseburger hat someone left behind. I think I'll recycle it into a Halloween costume...

...and I did; I went as a "Cheeseburger in Paradise." Most of the people got it, although some thought I was just a hamburger face. Who cares, I still had fun on the best holiday of the year with my rockin' roommate Alex who went as a glow stick girl =0)
Happy Trick-or-Treating!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yosemite Trip

Now that it's the off season I've been having a few more adventures than normal that involve a bit of travel. Yosemite is about 4 hours away, but sometimes when something is so close, you just assume you'll fit it into your schedule later, but that's not the case anymore! I rounded up my friends Jonny and Matt, we loaded up Matt's Xterra with tents, food, sleeping bags, maps and his hyper dog Petey and headed South. I had read the weather report and the low was 25 and a friend reported snow there 2 weeks ago, so I was fully prepared for freezing conditions, but when we got there we were peeling off layers! It was definitely in the 60s, with no complaints from me.

We pulled into one of the few campsites that's still open and found a great spot. (Which is the great thing about traveling in the off season...no reservations or crowds!) We set up our tents, started a fire and cooked some burgers over it, and of course had delicious s'mores. I'm happy to say we had no encounters with bears. Last time we were all camping in Tahoe, Jonny decided to wake up at 5 am and patrol around our tents snarling and rustling leaves while I laid in my mummy bag eyes wide open with a swiss army blade open not knowing what to do if whatever was outside decided to shake my tent in search of food.

Anyway, the next day we did a killer hike that gained 3200 feet in elevation in 4.5 miles. It was a haul, but the views were definitely worth it. El Capitan is breathtaking at first sight with its unbelievable sheerness and overwhelming presence. There is just so much rock that has been beautifully cut by an old glacier. It makes you feel so small and appreciative of how amazing life slowly but persistently works its wonders.

Another cozy night in the sleeping bag and a short hike (that's all my butt could handle) the next day and it was time to leave Yosemite. I can't wait to go back in the Spring when all the snow melt feeds the waterfalls past capacity because camping for me is like hitting the reset button on perspective: life can become a routine that blinds you from what's outside of it, but when you enter the woods with what you packed for security, turn off your cell phone, watch the moon rise behind you and sit around a campfire and are completely content with your surroundings, you know you've found some old peace deep within.