celebrations, family

Whirlwind Weekend

My youngest daughter joined a college club lacrosse team. One of the fun parts of this is travel. First up: an away play day in Nashville that just so happened to be my birthday weekend. That was an easy sell!

It was harder to find a traveling companion. Close family and favorite travel buddies couldn’t make it for one reason or another. I was kinda pouty until just a few days before, when the daughter I was going to watch figured out she could stay with me. We traveled to Nashville separately, but after her games we were able to spend the rest of the weekend together.

It was a whirlwind weekend of packed with fun. I had most of it mapped out before we met up. I started with morning coffee at Dutch Brothers, a perennial fave. Longtime readers know that I love to visit local coffee shops on my travels, but Dutch would be an exception. It’s a national chain, yes, but there isn’t one anywhere near my hometown. I can’t resist their positive energy or their soft top!

Then I found my way to one of the Five Daughters Bakery locations, which happened to be tucked in to a cute local marketplace. Most of the shops were closed at that early hour, but there were still some fun murals and photo opps. A handful of their hundred-layer doughnuts and I was off to the next destination.

After that, a super quick visit to Cheekwood to catch a glimpse of their fall pumpkin festival displays. I was the first one through the gates that morning, and more than likely the first to leave in time to make the start of the lacrosse games. Still, it was soothing and smile-inducing to see the beautiful plants and festive surroundings. I’m sure I could have spent a whole day there, but even just that small sliver of time made me feel lighter and carefree as I welcomed my favorite season of the year.

After lacrosse, we made a quick visit to a Nashville food hall with a close family friend. It had live music and a wide variety of local eateries – something to please everyone. Then we spent Saturday night on a “touristy” thing by visiting the Grand Old Opry. Pretty classic Nashville, but my daughter had never been. It was a great variety show, even if we hadn’t really heard of any of the acts. Wonderful entertainment. (An evening at the Bluebird Cafe is still on my Nashville wish list! Didn’t get tickets this time but I’ll keep trying.)

After the show, we drove about an hour to Cookeville. This brought us close to the next morning’s adventure, a kayak to Burgess Falls. The paddle was low key and not too technical, but it was pretty long. The scenery was pretty and then it was a short hike to the falls since the river waters recede a bit in the autumn months. The bottom of the falls are only reachable by kayak or hike, which made the view all the more sweet.

Time with my youngest becomes more precious each year as she moves through college. Long car rides leave time for us to chat and catch up. We talked this time about how, as time goes on, we’ve learned that we would rather have fewer things and more experiences together.

Just like my older daughter, I can hear that her dreams will take her to live in faraway places in the coming years. This makes these experiences and memories all the more sweet. Time and attention (and shared adventures!) are the best gifts we can give one another.

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.

author moments

In the Dark

It was pitch black. Nothing to see around you. The darkness of the early morning hours was compliments of blackout curtains. The room was quiet. Not a creature was stirring.

Then out of nowhere.

It happened.

The significant sound erupted.

Ah-choo! For the sneaky sneeze that snuck up on her. The bark of a cough that almost spun off the sneeze in harmony and then the more foul sound of….

A cross between a loud fart and and a shriek of a sound created when she realized she did that in the quiet room where sounds seem to echo without hesitation.

Tears of laughter begin. Oh the humility. She was beside herself. The sneeze. The cough. The fart. All sounds together. At once. She had to face the others in the room. Tears of laughter. Tears of humility. They continue for some time. What may have been nothing became something. Because she couldn’t contain herself. 

How does one explain the bodily function of a cough plus a fart plus a sneeze? Snartough is the name I made up. She snarttoughed this morning causing havoc in the quiet room. Was this a first? Will it happen again? How would you handle a situation like this?

There were no lingering smells. There were no upset faces. It happened so fast. It was just a few crazy moments in time. Three bodily functions that may never raise an eyebrow in isolation but together they caused chaos and embarrassment.

Just a random post to capture a real life experience of recent days.