travel

Road Trip-Avenue of the Giants

 

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I don’t know where this image originally came from, but I used it as a guide for our trip through the Avenue of the Giants.

Our next part of the trip took us to the Redwoods of Northern California.  For this, we went off highway 101 and took the Avenue of the Giants, which is the old highway 101.  It’s a 31 mile stretch of road that runs parallel with the new 101.  It’s a little longer, but totally worth it.  There are 51,222 acres of redwood trees.  There are places to picnic, hike, swim, fish, raft and bike.  There is something for everyone.

The main attraction is the forest.  I have never seen a forest like this.  It was so quiet and serene.  Even through the sun was shining, there were times when it was dark, and we couldn’t see the sun.  The trees were too thick.

Some must sees are:

The Immortal Tree

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This tree is over 950 years old.  While it isn’t even the oldest tree in the forest, it is a survivor.  The tree is currently only 250 feet tall, but it used to be must taller.  It survived the flood of 1964, a 1908 attempt at logging, and a lightning strike that destroyed the top half of the tree.  It is one of the first main attractions of the Avenue if you are coming from the north.

The Drive-through Tree

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The Shrine Drive-Thru Tree is near the town of Myers Flat.  They do charge $5 to drive through, but it is a fun picture to take.

Rockefeller Forest

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This forest is 10,000 acres and has the 8th, 6th, 4th and 2nd tallest trees.

Scotia

I thought Scotia was really cool.  It is one of the last “company-owned” towns in California.  I didn’t even know those existed anymore.  If you go, they have the Historic Logging Museum that is only open in the summer.

Elk and other wildlife

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On our way back to the highway, we were stopped by a herd of elk on the road.  They were so close to the car that I could have rolled down the window and touched them.  Obviously, I didn’t do that because they are wild animals.  I did get some great pictures.

One note- there was some debris on the road as we went by.  It is a forest after all.  We didn’t think anything of it until we had a tire blow out not far from the Avenue of the Giants.  Our rental car was brand new, so new, in fact, we were the first renters, but our road trip had taken it’s toll.  On the side of highway 101 in the dark, my husband had to put the spare tire on the rental car.  Luckily, we weren’t far from the town we were going to stay the night it.  The next morning, we traded our rental car in for a new one.

 

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travel

Road Trip- Oregon Coast

From Portland, we drove over to the Oregon Coast.  I had imagined that we would drive through some beach towns, but what we found was so much more.

We went to Astoria because of the movie, The Goonies.  While you can see The Goonies house sitting on a hill overlooking the town, it is not a tourist attraction.  Someone actually lives there, so the most you can do is pick it out of the similar looking houses while standing at the base of  the hill.  The town itself is beautiful.

To get to it, we drove over the Astoria-Megler Bridge which is four miles long.  It was such a sight.  The bridge spans the Columbia River as it meets the Pacific Ocean.  If you are in the area, it’s definitely worth driving over.

From Astoria, we drove down the 101 along the Pacific Coast.  My favorite part is that it was so beautiful.  There were vistas on the highway, so you can pull off and enjoy the view.  Trust me, it’s worth to pull off and just look at the ocean, beaches, and mountains.  Some places even have lighthouses.

Off the highway, there are so many Oregon State Parks.  Seriously, you can take almost any exit and go to the state park.  It was fantastic.  We would drive for a while and then, stop at a state park and hike or look at the ocean.  It was a great mini break from the trip.  Some of the parks have fees to enter, but if they charge, it is definitely worth it.

One park really stood out.  We stopped at Ecola State Park.  We had to drive through a forest and thought we were totally lost for a while, but then, the forest opened up to the most amazing view.  We ended up on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  We took some of my favorite photos there.

One of the biggest things that surprised me where the redwood trees.  I had never really thought of redwood trees in Oregon.  I had always associated them with California, but Oregon, especially southern Oregon, has them too.

Even thought we were there in November, the Oregon coast was amazing.  Sure we missed all of the summer things, but I still saw sea lions and walked around state parks.  It was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip.  It took us about a day and a half to drive down the coast and was out of our way, but it was worth every second.  There are so many cute, coastal towns with shops and restaurants.  It really gave us a feel for what Oregon is all about.

travel

Road Trip Part 3-Portland

Our next stop on our road trip was Portland.  I was so excited to visit Portland, and it was just as quirky as I imagined it.  There really isn’t’ a better word to describe Portland except quirky.

Parks

Portland has so many great parks.  When I was looking into Portland, I was surprised to see how many parks were labeled as must-sees. Since we couldn’t spend all day driving around looking at Parks, we picked Cathedral Park and Forest Park, which are across the river from each other, connected by St John’s Bridge.  Cathedral Park is very pretty.  It’s basically a hill and has great views of the bridge above it.

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Driving down St John’s Bridge towards Forest Park

While Cathedral Park is like a normal park with grass and a few trees, Forest Park is, well, like a forest.  It has huge trees and covered in moss.  Both are worth the checking out.

The Grotto

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The Grotto is a truly unique place.  It is a religious shrine in the side of a mountain.  It’s so peaceful and serene.  It totally unexpected in the middle of the city.  While it is a religious site, I don’t think you have to be religious to really appreciate the beauty of it.

Pearl District

The Pearl District was our last stop in Portland.  It’s such a cute area with great, little shops.  I recommend stopping at Powell’s bookstore.  Husband found some really old books that he had been looking for and couldn’t find online.

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Road Trip Part 2-Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens

Mount Rainier

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Mount Rainer was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  It’s south of Seattle, and it is a must see.  It’s so beautiful and just amazing.  We went in early November, so it wasn’t very crowded.   There were still a lot of people there.

Driving up the mountain was a little nerve-wracking.  I’m a nervous passenger to begin with, so I was really driving my husband crazy as he drove up the mountain.    Sometimes the road was so windy that it looked like we were going to drive off the edge of the mountain.

Luckily, there were lots of places to pull off and take pictures.  We stopped every so often and hiked.  It was so quiet and peaceful.

We drove up the mountain as far as we could.  Unfortunately, it was snowing hard, so the park closed the road at a certain part, so we couldn’t go any further.   We did see people climbing up to the summit even in the snow.  It was amazing to see them all the way up towards the top.

Mount St Helens

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We had spent so much time at Mount Rainier, that I wasn’t sure that we would be able to go to Mount St Helens.  It was ok, but was one of those things that I wasn’t sure that was worth the time.

Mount St. Helens is a volcano.  Since I had never seen a volcano before, I was pretty excited.

It was cloudy when we went, so we didn’t really get to see much.  Plus, since it was November, there wasn’t much to see.  We could see the smoke from the top, but it was hard to tell what was smoke and what was cloud.

I was so excited to see Mount St Helens, so it was a little disappointing.  When planning for the time, everything online said that if you had to choose between Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens, Mount St Helens was better.  I couldn’t disagree more.  I loved Mount Rainier and didn’t really care for Mount St Helens.

Maybe if we went during the summer, I would like it better.

After a disappointing trip to Mount St Helens, we drove to Portland for the night.  The next morning, I had the best view of Mount St Helens.  If I had known that I could see it that good from my hotel window, I wouldn’t have driven all the way out there.

A tip if you are going to either or both: Make sure you write down the directions.  We just used our phones.  Well, we planned on using our phones.  Being from the flat Midwest, I didn’t even think about cell reception.  We didn’t have any basically the entire time we were driving between Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens.  We got lost a lot, and had to keep stopping and asking for directions.

 

travel

Road Trip Part 1-Seattle

A few months ago, my husband and I took a road trip down the west coast.  Neither of us had ever been to the west coast, so it was a great adventure.  We did a lot of research ahead of time, but decided not to make any solid plans besides flights, renting a car, and a hotel for the first night in Seattle.  Everything else was planned the day of, and it was a blast.

In eight days, we drove from Seattle to San Francisco.  It was a once in a lifetime trip, and I am so happy that we did it.

Ove the next couple of posts, I’m going to talk about what we saw and did during our trip.  IF you ever get the chance to do drive down the west coast, I highly recommend it.

Here is the route we took on your trip:

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As you can see, we didn’t just drive in a straight line.  We went a little of out the way to see thing things we wanted to see.  Before we left for our trip, we made an outline of the things we absolutely had to see.  It looked like:

Seattle

Mount Rainer

Mount St Helen’s

Portland

Oregon Coast

Redwood forest

San Francisco

When we arrived in Seattle, we picked up a rental car, and spend one day exploring the city before hitting the road the next morning.

Seattle was amazing.  My only regret of the trip was that I wished I had planned to stay there longer.  I can’t wait to go back.

There are so many must see things in Seattle that it was hard to narrow them down.  Here are the things that we did while in Seattle.

Pikes Place Market

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This outdoor market is famous for the fish sellers who throw fish.  In person, it really is incredible to see.  But, Pike’s Place Market offers so much more.  They have the first Starbucks ad the world famous gum wall.  So, stick your gum on the wall, grab some coffee, and wander around the neighborhood.  We had so much fun exploring the shops in the area and admiring the views of the water.

Space Needle 79
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No trip to Seattle is complete without seeing the iconic Space Needle.  While it is visible in the skyline, it’s really amazing up close.  I recommend going up it because you have such great views of the city.  Pictures don’t do it justice.

So much plaid, rain, and coffee!  Seattle was my kind of place.  The next time we go, we have to take a ferry to some of the islands and hike.  Hopefully, we can go some time in the next year.  I’m itching to go back.

Seattle was one of the biggest highlights of our trip.

Up next, hiking Mount Rainer and Mount St Helen’s.

travel

Travel essentials you must have in your carry on

 

I love to travel.  I love to fly.  I am one of those people who sit on the plane and sleep for about half the trip, but I have to have something to do for the other half.  I can’t just sit there, waiting for the flight to be over.  And, honestly, I tend to fly on airlines that are too cheap to provider in-flight entertainment.   Just because my flight was cheap doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have a luxurious flight.

Each time I pack my carry on, I have to have these essentials in order to have a relaxing flight experience.

A tablet

Apple iPad

Now that Netflix allows you to download shows, I have to have my tablet with me.  The last flight I was on, I watched 6 episodes of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  The comedy made my flight so much more enjoyable.  The woman next to me kept looking on my screen to see what I was laughing at.

I prefer to fly with a tablet instead of a computer because they are smaller, and for the most part, do the same thing as a laptop.

Headphones


Naztech i9BT Over-Ear Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones

Whether you are listening to music or watching Netflix, headphones are a necessity for flying.  I recommend noise cancelling ones so it will block out the sound of screaming babies.  Bonus: if you are sitting next to someone who won’t stop talking to you, pop in your headphones.  It’s the international symbol of “Leave me alone.”

A book

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story

Yes, you can download books onto your tablet, but there is something rewarding about reading an actual paper book on the plane.  I love going to the bookstore at the airport and picking out something to read.  It’s an airport ritual for me.

Water Bottle

CamelBak Chute Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is important especially on a long flight.  It’s so easy to get dehydrated with the dry plane air blowing on you.  Drinking water will help with jetlag and will keep your skin nice and moisturized, so you don’t have any post-plane breakouts.

BB cream

Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB Cream

I wish I was one of those people who could get off the plane and look like they haven’t been traveling all day.  I am so not one of those people.  When I get off the plane, my skin is splotchy and gross.  Now, before the plane starts to land, I apply some BB cream to look a little more put together.

Brushes

Sephora Collection Sleepover Toothbrush – Pink

I must have a toothbrush and a hairbrush in my carry on.  Both are must haves.  There is nothing more horrible than waking up after a nap on the plane with morning breath.  I quickly head to the bathroom and brush my teeth to feel more refreshed.  At the same time, I give my hair a quick brush to tame my unruly hair.

Lotion

Crabtree & Evelyn Ultra Moisturising Hand Therapy Rosewater

Something about airplane air makes my skin get so dry.  I have to have a nice, thick hand lotion in my carry on to stop dry, cracked hands.

Lip balm

L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Lip Balm, Pink Satin

The dryness also affects my lips.  Lip balm is a life saver.  Can’t go on the plane without it.

Eyemask

Plemo Sleep Mask

When I want to sleep, I slip my eye mask and headphones on.  It turns out the entire plane and allows me to get some sleep.

Snacks

SkinnyPop Popcorn

There is nothing worse than being hungry on a plane, so I always bring snacks.  I like to eat snacks that can give me energy and by filling, but not be totally unhealthy.

Blanket scarf

Plaid Blanket Scarf

I absolutely have to travel with a blanket scarf.  It’s one on the most versatile things in my carry on.  It’s not only a scarf, but you can roll it up and use it as a pillow.  If the plane is too cold, you can use it as a blanket.  It’s so handy to have with you.

Tote

Tahari Metropolis Tote Handbag (ROSE GOLD)

No carry on essentials list can be complete without a cute tote to put it all in.  I recommend choosing a tote that has a zipper, so that nothing important accidentally spills out.  You can slide it under the seat and easily grab whatever you want from it.