Category Archives: life lists

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Texas in the summer…sure, why not?!

Up until the week of July fourth our summer travels had not taken us further afield than the cabin in VA or a NC beach, a stark contrast to the wanderings of last year!  Sometime in mid-June, we couldn’t take it anymore and planned a quick but super busy trip to Texas Hill Country.  I can’t say July is likely the ideal time of year to be in that region, but when the music calls…you must answer!

We combined two musical events to make the trip to Austin for five days.  All four of us went and it was a blast!  The weather was ideal, flights were without issue (miracle of miracles!), and our accommodations were just right.

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Luckily for us, as time to plan before we went was minimal, Austin, TX makes it super easy. Just drive around and you will find so many cool things to do and see!  Brad and VA had their first SUP experience on Lady Bird Lake while Kimberly and I kayaked.  Yummy food was everywhere, seriously.  Good beer, awesome local kombucha, food trucks on every corner…

Our airbnb guest house was  the perfect fit and landed us 20 minutes SW of the City in a very peaceful area.  Major plus, it was only 10 min from our new favorite brewery/pizza kitchen combo: Jester King Brewery/Farmhouse Pizza…on a working ranch, no less!!

The July 4th show at the Circuit of the America’s Amphitheater (inside a formula 1 racetrack?!) was fun, but made for a long day in the inescapable sun.  Our three favorite acts did not disappoint though, so the sunburn was worth it for sure!

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San Antonio was interesting, but I much preferred Austin.  We checked out the riverwalk and the Alamo…now we can say we have been there 😉

The icing on the cake of this trip was certainly the show at Austin City Limits Live @ Moody Theater….it was surreal having seen so many shows on TV over the years and wishing so much I was there in person.  Again, several of our favorite artists were there for a tribute concert to Waylon Jennings…it wrapped up with a finale of “Luckenbach, Texas”, sung by the likes of Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Alison Kraus, Robert Earl Keen Jr, Kris Kristofferson, and the list goes on…

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Just when we thought it all couldn’t get any better, we had the opportunity to meet and speak briefly with Alison Kraus herself at the airport the following morning.  Being a fan of hers for over twenty years, it was a special moment indeed.

The trip was quick and dirty, but worth it for sure…we most certainly will be going back once the airstream is done.  Speaking of which, I think I have some new photos of that to add as well.  Happy traveling!!

 

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Utah: We think summer is the “off-season”

Here is the list of potential titles for this post that we came up with:
Utah: Don’t waste your time 😉
Utah: Hot.
Utah: Honey, it’s a dry heat
Utah: I’ll have a pint of Polygamy Porter, please
Utah: They must market the hell out of this place in Germany!

Over the last week we bedded down in Salt Lake for a few days while Brad made a work trip to Twenty-nine Palms, CA….the only place hotter ;-). The girls and I made a trip to the hair salon, parks, took in a movie, and found a great Whole Foods.

Brad’s return flight was cancelled so he and guy from Parsons drove back to Salt Lake from Palm Springs….11 hours…..through the desert…..with a stop in Vegas for “dinner”!

The next day we loaded up, cleared out of the hotel, and headed to Moab. It’s hot there. Our campground had some shade so that was a sweet relief. I can say that the low humidity is a nice feature…as were the evening breezes.

Arches NP is really beautiful. We visited the Windows area, Balanced Rock, and took in Delicate Arch from the viewpoint. Virginia completed her fourth Junior Ranger program.

Brad rode the famed Slickrock mtn bike trail on Sunday morning…apparently he should have started a little earlier in the day! He finished up around 11:30 and was getting cooked. He took the GoPro so we watched the footage that night….of course replaying the part where he went over the handle bars into the sand wash over and over!!

That evening we picked up the off road jeep we rented for the following day. We drove back to Arches that night to watch the sunset on the rocks. Gorgeous!

Monday we spent the better part of the day in the jeep exploring back country canyons, checked out Gemini Bridges and drove down Schaffer trail in Canyonlands NP. It is very unusual to be able to off-road in a NP, but the rangers insist it is the best way to experience this place.

Today we travel to Cortez/Mesa Verde NP. Tomorrow we will explore the cliff dwellings and then head on to Durango.

We are back in Colorado now. The temperature gauge in the car reads 82 and it’s 1 in the afternoon. Ahhhh!20140715-183806-67086571.jpg

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High times in the High Desert

Central Oregon is in the rear view mirror, to our dismay. This may be the 26th time I have sat down to write a summary of this leg the trip…it has been a busy one!

We were sad to leave Portland and plan to return as soon as we can! The Bend/Sisters area took a little of the sting out though. Our campsite was one of the nicer (from an amenities standpoint, not view) that we have inhabited so far. So much so that our arrival resulted in a period of awkwardness, and we (The Leadbetters as Brad refers to our clan occasionally) felt a little out of place. Our “vintage” camper was overshadowed by some seriously big rigs and fancy set ups.

The high desert area provided us with our first sustained days of sunshine and warm temps so far on the trip. Thankfully the campground had a nice salt water pool that we visited everyday!

Day 1 was finding our way around Bend, lunch at 10 Barrel (at Heathers suggestion, good stuff!), grocery shopping, and a stop at the Bend Rock Gym for Virginia to get her climb on! Day 2 landed us in the McKenzie River area and Brad tackled all 26 miles of that amazing trail. Thankfully he took his GoPro and video recorded segments of the ride, which took him 4 1/2 hrs! We picked him up at the bottom and headed back to camp.

Day 3 brought a trip to Shevlin Park in Bend, one of many areas they have for biking, hiking, etc. I fished Tumalo Creek and actually landed a few trout…as Brad put it, knocking the stink off of my dry spell thus far!! No Go Pro footage of that, but I swear it happened! That afternoon I was lucky enough to try my luck on the beautiful Metolius River…

Day 4, July 4th, we headed back to Bend for the Annual Pet Parade (what an event!), a festival in the park by the Deschuetes River, and some bike riding that afternoon. We met some new neighbors in the campground and made fast friends as did the girls.

Day 5, our last full day, we took in the Museum of the High Desert. It is a very nice facility with wonderful exhibits on animals, Native Americans, and history of the area. After a few hours we headed back to camp for dinner and some live music by the lake.

Sunday (yesterday) was a “road day”. If someone tells you there is not much in southeastern Oregon, they are not exaggerating in the least! Probably the most desolate stretch we have experienced so far. Five and a half hours later we pulled into a little park next to the Snake River in Ontario, Oregon to cook dinner and try to cool the camper off. It was 104 as we crossed the desert and 100 at 8:30pm as we pulled into the truck stop to overnight. Not the best sleeping!

We are back on the road today, hoping to end up somewhere near Salt Lake City. We are treating ourselves to 2 night in a hotel there while Brad flies back to CA for a work trip.

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Portland: A Sampler

We couldn’t have asked for better accommodations or tour guides! Visiting with Heather and Kris for three days was the perfect way to hit our mid-trip milestone.

We arrived Friday, walked to the “neighborhood” grocery, cooked a yummy dinner and crashed in our first non-camper accommodations in 27 days!! Saturday we headed downtown to check out the Rose Garden (roses at their peak!), stopped by REI, Powells Bookstore, Deschuetes Brewery for lunch, and Fat Tire Farm ( bike store for Brad). After a rest in the afternoon it was wings at Fire on the Mountain for dinner.

Sunday we had a less hectic schedule but still managed to visit the new Keen store/headquarters, wood fired pizza for lunch, a local stationary store, and Queen Bee for a new/replacement wallet for me! The guys checked out HUB bike bar and we stopped by laurel hurst park for some playtime. Then, it was back home for the tail end of the World Cup game.

Some good patio time and another yummy dinner were enjoyed! Heather and Kris introduced us to the game SkipBo and Virginia was the winner!

We said our goodbyes this morning and headed towards Bend. We are at the Sandy Ridge trails currently…brad is getting in some “seat time” while the girls and I hang out.

Looking forward to our upcoming week in the Bend/Sisters area!! Hoping to fish, hike, bike, and check out the breweries that have been recommended.

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Lush is an understatement!

The west side of Olympic NP did not disappoint…it was green on green on green.

Our campground was in the NP, Kalaloch was amazing!! I feel so fortunate we were able to reserve two nights there!! We could hear the ocean from our site in the temperate rainforest!

We made a trip down to the beach as soon as we set up camp. Huge drift logs and gorgeous stones were everywhere. Amazingly different than our east coast shoreline. It was misty, cool, and windy but beautiful none the less!

We biked around and had our first campfire since RMNP. Hot dogs over a fire just taste soooo much better! Thursday we trekked into the Hoh rainforest…through the Hall of Moses. What a place….

Virginia and Kimberly received their Junior Ranger badges and Virginia also completed the Ocean Steward Program.

Friday we headed out through cloudy, rainy skies…Portland bound.

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Contemplating Scale

imageSince we arrived on the Olympic Peninsula and in the vicinity of Olympic NP I have been feeling a bit small. Not in the sense of being insignificant maybe, but more about just our physical presence as well as how short our time is – when you really think about it.

Being in a place like this will make you think about these things. The isolation in time and space of this area has created an environment that is truly unique, not to mention, there is a lot here that is really big: snow-capped mountains, huge trees, the wilderness in general really…

This park is quite different than any other I have experienced, especially related to the three we visited before this one on our current journey. The road access is really just around the perimeter, and outside of the park at that. Venturing into the heart of the park is an experience exclusive to backpackers. I think that is awesome. I wish I was packing in for a week. I have lamented the fact that I am not several times a day so far.

One reason for that desire is that there is so much of the park you simply cannot experience any other way, and another possible reason is that Brad took off for CA for four days right after we got here…maybe I was longing for a little “quiet time” away from the girls :-).

We have managed to take in a few of the more accessible areas including a drive up to Hurricane Ridge…known as such for the high winds that, coupled with the 30+ feet of snow a winter, make for a most inhospitable environment! You can see several beautiful snow capped mountains from here, including Mt Olympus. You can also see back over Port Angeles to Canada…not very far away. The city of Victoria is easy to make out right across the Straight.

The girls and I ventured to Sol Duc Hot Springs and soaked for an hour or so. It is a more pungent spring than our last experience as has a slightly slimy feel to the water…tried not to think about that too much though as the girls were having fun. There were quite a few people there when we went and many were Eastern European…they have us beat in the “distanced traveled” department by a long shot!

Several of our excursions have taken us past Lake Crescent, a glacial lake that is several hundred feet deep and the most striking azure blue you can imagine. It is very distracting when driving along the shoreline…you have to keep looking over at it to convince yourself that it really is that surreal color. Quite beautiful.

Another adventure led the girls and I to Salt Creek Recreation Area, not too far from our campground. I had read somewhere that the tide pools at low tide were fun for exploring. We were right on time tide wise and were able to investigate the mid tide range with mussels and limpets exposed on the rocky shore and loads of beautiful driftwood and seaweed, unlike anything we have at home, on the beach area. It was probably my favorite outing so far.

Today we hiked to Sol Duc falls and it was beautiful!! Such spectacularly clear water…unlike anything I have ever seen – and I spend quite a bit of time in that environment!

Tomorrow we will leave this campsite and head around 101 to the west to stay at Kalaloch campground for two nights. We will visit the Hoh rainforest. I am super excited!! Hall of Mosses here we come! This region of the park gets 12-14 FEET of rain a year!!!

Only negative to report: last night my purse was stolen out of the truck – which was accidentally left unlocked for the first time the whole trip. A morning spent canceling credit cards, etc was no fun but we have taken care of everything and minimal damage was done. I need to replace our camera so am stuck with photos from the iPhone for a few days. Otherwise, just a small bump in the road!

More Olympic to come…

 

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Yellowstone Round Up

Due to our lack of wifi and minimal cell service in the park, updates have been few and far between…but it certainly wasn’t for lack of doing!  I think we drove every road in the park, some several times over.  Each time was like the first though, as we constantly marveled at the scenery, wildlife, and how the time of day and lighting affected some of the features.

Lower Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs

Lower Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs

On Monday we visited Old Faithful first thing, the crowds were not bad and we arrived about 10 minutes before an eruption…got lucky on that one. It was interesting how built up that area is compared to other park “centers”.  Our next stop was a family favorite, Grand Prismatic Spring.  It was like being on another planet, and the wind being strong that day, made the steam even more dramatic.  It was in that area that we found the Fire hole River.   I had received a tip to fish that and/or the Madison and despite the high water in most places, both were quite fish-able.   I tried my luck, yet without some “local knowledge” on what flies to use I couldn’t manage to catch the attention of the fish.

We later headed to West Yellowstone to check out the Wolf/Grizzly Discovery Center and I stopped by a fly shop (Blue Ribbon Flies) where I got the “local” I needed…a few flies in hand we headed on back to camp.

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Tuesday, Brad decided to bike for a bit and I had the girls in tow as I tried my luck again on a much too popular fishing hole further downstream…they bit, but I never got to bring one in for the girls.  I was disappointed but it was still fun!

Getting to that area of the park was about a hour+ drive each way for us, and the travel times were starting to wear us down.  We took a breather on Wednesday: laundry, showers and making blends took up the morning.  Not being ones to sit still too long though, we headed up to Canyon in the afternoon to check out another overlook of the Yellowstone Canyon and grab dinner.  I am sooo glad we went as a traffic jam alerted us to something “good”…we pulled over and joined the spectators as they watched a very large grizzly dining on some delicacy along the banks of the Yellowstone River.   We were all about 400 ft away and he still looked big!  My point and shoot camera didn’t stand much of a chance though.

Girls working on Junior Ranger books at Steamboat Geyser

Girls working on Junior Ranger books at Steamboat Geyser

Discussions Thursday morning led us to decide to head out of the Park a day early, feeling as though we had covered the ground that we could…it is hard sometimes for Brad and I to remind ourselves that the girls don’t have the stamina we do and carrying Kimberly up and down these trails was not so much fun after a while.  Ironically enough, it was a fruitful drive out.  We took the route: Fishing Bridge to Canyon to Norris to Mammoth (for those of you familiar) and were rewarded with a wolf sighting in a small valley near Norris…and another grizzly sighting, this one much closer, about 150 feet away, along a small stream, also eating…and finally, a big Bald Eagle as we neared Mammoth for our exit from the park.

Exiting the Park through the Roosevelt Arch

Exiting the Park through the Roosevelt Arch

It was a fantastic visit…one I will never forget and I hope it has a lasting impression on the girls as well.  My most memorable moment:  watching Virginia AND Kimberly receive their Junior Ranger badges at the Lake Visitors Center…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girls receiving the badges from a Seasoned Ranger at the Lake

Girls receiving the badges from a Seasoned Ranger at the Lake