adventure

Just a Rock

Here I am back writing about the Oregon coast again. This time it’s focused on a rock adventure. Before this trip it seemed like just a rock in the water. One I saw online in pictures. Never had a plan to go visit but since I was in the area I added it to the itinerary. Who doesn’t want to visit the Pacific Ocean? However after visiting Haystack Rock In person, I would say it’s spectacular and just different than an average visit to the beaches I’ve visited in the past.

Now that I have made the trip to Haystack Rock I can explain its beauty. The weather was nice for the day however as soon as we approached the ocean the cloud cover was upon us. As we made the trek to the beach all you could see was a silhouette in the distance. Much more faded almost seeming miles away compared to the photo above. It was almost a shadow in the fog similar to one from a movie scene.

We were not discouraged. We kept going toward the rock. As we neared the glimpse became clearer. See above photo where more than a silhouette is visible. From the rocks on the water that were small and grew bigger to the big formations off the shore, I was mesmerized by it all. It was all picturesque. The birds in their natural habitat added to the beauty as they flew around or moved from rock to rock. Some even just floated.

The waves hit the rocks with a force. The sound of the ocean was present. There were plenty of people visiting on this foggy day. I heard many accents and languages around me. The sand had small amounts of seaweed and the water was cold but not frigid. One of the girls in the traveling trio seemed to attract sand fleas or some sort of bug that nipped at her feet. For that reason alone she kept her distance from the water’s edge.

All in all it was a great view to experience. The drive from Portland was a little boring but you can can solve the boredom issue with a good song playlist. While in the little beach town we had a great sandwich at a shop by the entrance to the beach. It was an over packed sandwich but it tasted yummy before we drove back to the city.

This post shall conclude my excursions while checking out the outdoorsy state of Oregon. I hope you enjoyed traveling with me virtually. Wonder where I will blog from next?

adventure

Koosah Falls

While out west, I wanted to go on a hike with big trees and hopefully catch a water fall along the the trail. The choice was Koosah Falls just a little east of Eugene, Oregon.

The drive was a bit boring but the water running along the road was a spectacular view. The view just went on for miles and miles. There was a small stretch where it seemed many were building small cottages on the bank. However the size may have been small in footprint but the cost was probably very high based on the extravagant designs. Nonetheless the road trip was full of things to observe.

Once we arrived at the trail we headed up the right side to the falls. The cool breeze was amazing as the weather showed up at 102 degrees. With the tree coverage from the tall pines and the chilly mist off the water the right side trail was the perfect start to our hike.

As we trekked up the hillside there were many photo ops. The scenery was just so beautiful but even the photos don’t do the landscape justice. The blue water was such a vibrant blue in spots. We caught a few rainbows in the mist of the falls. The water was crystal clear in the pool areas. It was almost like Christmas in July as the whole woods smelled amazing. Pine trees everywhere left the scent of Christmas in the air. It was absolutely divine.

If you look close to the photo above you will see the hint of the rainbow. Again the picture doesn’t do the actual lived experience justice. After making the climb up the right we continued north a bit and crossed a bridge to go down the opposite side.

The descent was a slightly different experience. It was a lot warmer on this side. More sunshine beating down on you and less mist coming your way. Good thing I was going down. However the photos from this side yielded different views and I’m so glad I made the loop trek.

After we finished the trail down we ended up in the pool that feeds the reservoir. Another bridge and a short climb to reach the end of the loop. This path allowed us to see a few fishing in the lower area with less rapids as well as some large log dam areas caused by downed trees. The overall hike was one of my favorites to date. A gradual incline. Not too strenuous but had so many rewards along the way. As I close out I will share a few more photos for you to enjoy.

Oregon is a great place to opt outside. Just read some of my Oregon blog series and you will soon see why.

adventure

Cruisin’

For the first time in a long time, our family went on a full-fledged vacation together. It took several reschedulings, but we made it out on the Anthem of the Seas this past summer.

I had never been on a cruise. I have friends who swear by cruising as a travel way of life. After making my way around the Caribbean and coming back to land, I will say that cruising is it’s own kind of thing. I can see why people love it, for sure.

Here are some of my ups and downs of cruising:

The biggest plus…It’s all done for you. We come from a restaurant family. When we go on vacation, we generally always pick a place to stay with a kitchen and cook for ourselves. On the cruise, I loved never having to cook or clean up. Just grab a plate, have some food, and away you go. It was an amazing break. It helped us all to actually relax. No laundry to do. Even the bed was made each day. Bonus was ordering coffee to be brought to the room at 6 am each day. Which leads me to my next cruising kudo…

The water, of course. Our cabin had a balcony. I don’t think I would go on a cruise without it. Waking up, rolling out of bed for coffee delivery then taking 10 steps to sit on the balcony and watch the water, the rainbows, the dolphins, all of it. It was soothing at all times of the day and always the perfect view.

Endless entertainment. There was always something going on..usually many things from early morning yoga to late night ballroom dancing. I loaded my app with activities I might be interested in, from trivia at all hours to Elton John tribute performers, to a pretty amazing ice show (yup, an ice rink on a ship!). We played mini-golf and rode the water slide. Even a roving piano player who fit into elevators. I don’t drink, but drinking sure is a way of life on cruises. So was gambling (which I also skipped). And shopping, which didn’t really hold much charm on the ship. But the shows and activities were interesting. You could see the ship was designed to appeal to many different people and interests. (Kids clubs, teen events, adult pools, etc.) There were lots of families on board, and people of all ages. There was also a tour group of about 500 teens from Brazil who were quite busy taking insta-photos most of the time. So, you can customize things as you see fit, doing as much or as little as you like. We went to the gym each day, walked on the deck, grabbed a water for trivia, and just took it all in.

Learning as we go… There are so many little quirks to watch. People who are clearly cruising pros had towel clips to claim their deck chairs first thing in the morning. Cute little magnets for their doors signifying events or celebrations. The carpets in the elevators change to remind you what day it is. All the little lingo things that make cruising unique. It’s interesting as a lifelong learner and observer.

I also love the towel creations. I seriously looked forward to this each day.

As for the downs, there was just one major limitation…

Ports of call. We had a lot of fun doing some excursions. Swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas, kayaking and snorkeling in Haiti, but the strange thing is that I don’t feel like I can say I’ve been to either of those places. Whether it’s for ease of movement or to keep your dollars going to the cruise line, you don’t just get to traipse around the island at your ports. In our case, there was no way to leave the Haitian port of Labadee and the Bahamas stop was the cruise company’s “private island.” Both were nice breaks, but just sort of surprising to a person who likes to go to little local spots when visiting a place. Each spot felt like its own little cruise line amusement park. Not good or bad necessarily, just interesting.

Would I go again? Probably, but I don’t think it would be a regular thing. It was quite the opportunity to relax. I might hop a cruise with a few friends just to get away and have it all taken care of. You can really focus on just chilling and not worrying about pretty much anything. After you book it, the work required is minimal which is a break from the research-intensive part of travel (which I enjoy). I’d love to see what they do on a more upscale cruise line (even Disney!)

Chalk it up in the experience books.

adventure, family

College Is Fast Approaching

9 weeks on the road this summer. From Florida to New York and everything in between. Then for giggles clear across the country to Oregon. Sometimes the same route more than once but with different stops along the way.

Travel by plane. Travel by car. Travel by train. Travel by RV. We utilized Uber. We took advantage of Turo. We took many unconventional paths. We lived so much through our experiences. Turo and Uber were our app-worthy summer accomplishments. We even had some time to use bikes. So many memories. So many hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Good company.

Great experiences.

Countless fun.

So many photos.

It wasn’t always easy, but it was always workable with a positive attitude and a lot of flexibility. Work. Play. Recover. A delicate balancing act for some. A day in the life for me. I will never get to hit rewind on these months I just lived. Knowing that made me forge ahead to cram as much into the calendar as as humanly and financially possible.

Sometimes I had to plan and then re-plan. Things didn’t always go smoothly. I lived. I learned. I outlasted. Summer 2022 is in the rear view. So many college campuses were scouted out. Many highs. Many lows. Some visits at the surface level while others more in-depth. The process is real. The decisions are hard. The challenge is ahead.

My youngest will choose soon. Where to go. What she wants to be as an adult. I will become less needed. I will be an empty nester. A title I don’t really care for but yet one I will look forward to at the same time. As I earn that new title I will embark on new journeys and adventures. Maybe not criss-crossing the county in a summer but maybe exploring cities I’ve never been or getting back into putting stamps on my passport.

I’m adjusting to what’s ahead while enjoying what’s in front of me. Years become months. Those months turn into weeks. Before you know it, days are in front of us. Don’t waste the minutes. Value them. Cherish them. Enjoy them. I know I am.

As my mom always says: live life to the fullest. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

For now I wait for the day to come that she decides where she heads off to beyond her days of high school. Close by? A neighboring state? Across the country? Another country?

adventure

Car + People + Train

Last year I put the car on the boat and lived a new experience in Cape May, New Jersey on the ferry. A short trip but fun. This year I opted for yet another adventure. The car train.

We loaded up in Lorton, Virginia just outside of DC and travelled south to Sanford, Florida. An interesting way to get to the beach but so glad I had the opportunity to give this mode of travel a try.

Party of three. Change of plans party of four.

I didn’t have an expectation. This is the best way to start any trip. I was looking forward to trying something new. Coach class we went. The car was checked in for 3pm. Humans loaded at 3:30pm. Train was in motion at 4:23pm.

We traveled over bridges. We had spectacular water views. We had horns that blew when we passed through towns. It was exciting. I even got a kick out of the back ends of life. We had sunshine but we also saw raindrops. We pass many many trees. We passed corn fields and other working farm land.

The back ends of buildings we normally never see is what I referred to above as the back end of life. The junky cars. The unpainted walls. The old dock doors that are now sealed up. Trash. Woods. Swampy areas. You name it. I feel like I saw it. From the big military plane at Quantico to the boat zipping through the waterway.

Coach was nice. Reclining seats. Tray tables that extended. Outlets to charge your electronics. Foot rest to prop your feet and plenty of space. I wish flying gave you this much comfort and amenities. Security was not what I expected which I suppose could be concerning. There were all types of people riding the train this day.

Food service until 11pm. Bathrooms on the level below. Continental breakfast at 6am. I almost forgot to mention I rode on the second level. The full range of windows. One of the best features to see the states in a very different way. 

I definitely give the car train a two thumbs up for a varied travel experience.  I will now look forward to another travel adventure thanks to this good experience. If I was to offer suggestions I would stronger encourage you to bring your own food/meal. Only meal options are microwaved in the upper level. Ramen noodles, hotdogs, mac and cheese to name a few. No fresh fruit or prepped salad option. Not a show stopper just a forward thought for others.