[Traveling Tales] Drink In Oregon’s Willamette Valley: Wine, Spirits and Cider – Oh My!

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If you’ve been spoiled on the finer things in life, chances are you were raised in California.  From the weather and the weed to the wine and the women – the Golden State more than lives up to the golden standard. But for those that choose to venture outside of the luscious landscapes and rolling hilltops of California, our neighbor to the north has a whole hell of a lot to offer.

Though it’s not the same as the Mediterranean climate of the Californian Coast, some (including myself) could make a convincing argument that the Oregon Coast boasts  equally beautiful conditions. The persistent Winter (…Fall and Spring…) rain paves the way for gorgeous green valleys with trees and wildflowers as far as the eye can see, a perfect pairing with the belated sunsets the Summer months offer.

If you rack your brain for the best in micropubs, I’m guessing San Francisco is one of the first – if not the first – city to come into mind.  But the reality is that Portland has more microbrews than any other US City.  Though the Willamette Valley isn’t exactly Portland’s neighbor, the gorgeous countryside is only a hop, skip and an hour drive away – and offers has so much to offer in the way of delicious distilleries and wonderful wineries.

The Hard Stuff

For the longest time, I thought that Wine Tasting was the only sort of alcohol tasting one could do – so when I discovered that distilleries also had tastings, I’d colored myself fascinated.  Oregon’s climate provides great opportunities for home grown spirits, and these are some of my favorites.

4 Spirits Distillery

Ever since a very memorable night my Freshman year of college, I’ve been convinced beyond belief that I’m not a rum girl; no way, no how. Enter, 4 Spirits Rum. For the first time in over a decade, I’ve not only drank – but enjoyed the flavor – of a variety of rums.  I’m also a sucker for a business venture with a community service flair, and 4 Spirits meets that mark – a portion of the proceeds of every bottle go to the Wounder Warrior Project.

Website | Facebook 

Vivacity

Ever hear of a spirit that’s been distilled hundreds of times?  How about thousands? Chances are, there’s still a ton of sediment in them; it’s why when you drink shitty alcohol, you feel shitty at the end of the mind.  The genius minds at Vivacity have their cauldrons set to be constantly distilling – almost infinitely, if you will. They’re distilling all of the toxins out and leaving you with the tastiest, cleanest, crispest gin I’ve ever tasted.  In addition to their gins, they have a kickass Coffee Liquor and a smooth as all hell vodka.

Website | Facebok

Spiritopia

Half science experiment, half distillery and all the fun – Spiritopia offers a fresh take on specialty liqueurs.  As we toured the facility and learned about the process of producing their delicious drinks, I browsed through the lab equipment in the warehouse and quickly reassessed why I’d switched my major from Biochem in the first place. The Apple and Pomegranate Liqueurs are dare I say perfect, but I have a major penchant for the Ginger.

Website | Facebook

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A Little Bit Softer Now

Liquor tasting is all fun and games until someone gets too drunk, if you’d like to err on the softer side of alcohol tasting – the Willamette Valley also offers a great variety of local wines and ciders.

2 Towns Ciderhouse

For the last decade, beer has almost become a sub-food group for me – it’s been delicious, it’s thirst quenching and yeah, I love a good tipsy feeling.  But, over the last few months I’ve felt a shift in the tasting wind if you will and have been etching over to the cider side.  Granted, I could kill a whole bottle of Martenelli’s Sparkling Cider to my face and have no thoughts about it – it’s no wonder I’ve found a new affinity for cider.  What I didn’t know until recently was just how many flavors of cider exist – all the varieties of apple, Wildflower, Elderflower, Marionberry, Ginga Ninja (a personal fav), Hollow Jack (a pumpkin cider), and so many more; and for $4, you can get a flight of four. Located in the heart of Corvallis (which, mind you, isn’t all that big), 2 Towns is open 12-7 Sunday through Wednesday, and 12-9 from Thursday through Saturday. The Ciderhouse is also featured at many local grocery stores.

Website | Yelp

Airlie Winery

Perfectly poised on a beautiful hilltop in the sleepy town of Monmouth, Airlie Winery has been a staple of the Oregon wine scene for over 30 years.  A female owned and operated venture featuring a few adorable dogs and a wide variety of wines to imbibe, Airlie features awe inspiring views and delicious wine, served with a smile and warm conversation.  For  a $5 tasting fee – which is donated to local food banks – you can tantalize your tastebuds with everything from roses to reds and whites, and my personal favorite – pairing consecutive years of the same wine to understand the nuanced differences a season can make. Airlie is open to the public Thursday to Monday from 12 to 5pm.

Website | Facebook | Yelp

Cardwell Hill Cellars

Just one glance at the landscape of Cardwell Hill Cellars would turn any average wine drinker into a full fledged oenophile.  Sitting in the shadow of Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in Oregon’s Coast Range, Cardwell Hill has been perfecting the art of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for the last 16 years. In addition to their wide assortment of award winning wine, Cardwell Hill also offers a picnic area and boche ball court in addition to winery tours.  Each taste is $1, and the tasting room is open daily from 12pm until 5:30.

Website | Facebook 

What’s your favorite city for trying out new drinks?  Discover anything recently that you’ve fallen mouth over mind for?  Let me know in the comments below!

[Traveling Tales] A Whimsically Introspective Walk Through Dr Seuss’ Sculpture Garden

“Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

By in large, I live life anticipating adventures around every corner while my eyes overflow with wanderlust….except for lately; I’m typically a happy go-lucky, bouncy lady – but over the past week, there’s been a somber strain in my step and heavy hesitation in my heart.  An emotional being by nature, I’ll more often let them take the reigns of my soul as I watch the ego dissolve. From the loud moments of synchronicity to softer, gentler nods to our impending mortality, life is full of consistent reminders to attack each day with passionate vigor.  The other week while I was away at a music festival my aunt passed away from cancer and it’s been a hard, jagged pill to swallow.  I’m sad…but, it’s more than that (not to mention – I’ve discovered that sadness is typically rather selfish); truth is, I’ve been marinating in introspective inquisition of my purpose and being. I feel resolved and analytical, pensively and perpetually lost within a moment and found within myself because regardless of the places we go in life – we all end up the same. ‘Be noble for you are made of stars; be humble for you are made of earth.’ Whether we climb mountains, swim oceans, extend the field of scientific discoveries, land on the moon or simply sit on our asses doing absolutely nothing – we end up back in the ground.  Whether we live passionately or deviously, timidly or boldly, courageously or lazily, we disintegrate back into the nothingness from which we came.

With the right sort of perspective, the bittersweet, impromptu trip to the East Coast for my aunt’s memorial turned into a lovely family reunion with a touch of local lore and history.  A lot of the local residences were built pre-1900, and many had signs with their build year – some of them dated back to 1860…we even saw a house used in the Underground Railroad.  On our last day, we took one little liberty to visit a park I’d always dreamed of visiting: the Dr Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in historic Springfield; it’s only fitting that the man I attribute so many colorful, wonderful memories of my childhood to was helping me on my path through adulthood.

Life is jovial, enjoyable, lovable and ephemeral, while the beauty and anxiety we experience is nothing more than a mental construct, obscured by our personal vision.  The only static, the only constant, is that there is something greater than us, there has to be something greater than us, because we only exist for a figment of time – yet this world, it’s forever. Death can be called many things, but one thing it’s not is discriminatory.  The only guarantee for anything that is brought into existence, is that it will eventually disintegrate back into the same obscurity it came from.  I’m going to die, you’re going to die, and your great-grandchildren are going to die – so don’t prevent yourself from living while you still have time.

We all sacrifice bits and pieces of ourselves for something else’s good, we place parts of our personalities on the back burner because we’re afraid that some people can’t handle it, we remain silent when inside we’re passionately screaming because we’re nervous of the reaction we’ll get; we tiptoe around our personalities, deferring our wants and needs just to make other people comfortable. In a million ways, it feels like we die a thousand deaths before our actual death – so stop running fast just to stay in place.  Change the rules, change the game, change your perspective.  Our time here is limited, how will you spend yours?

[Traveling Tales] Plan Your Next Vacation With Google Destinations 

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.”
– Anais Nin

The last few days have ushered in the pitter-patter of rain like cats nimbly playing on our roof, while the sun has chosen to haphazardly break through the clouds, reveling down onto our atmosphere and warming the land bits by bit.  Yes, you guessed it – Spring is just around the corner and we just had some “real weather” in Southern California, providing a fresh layer of powder in the mountains and a stunning ‘Super Bloom’ out in the middle of Desert Valley. Over the last few days, we’ve been itching to plan another quick weekend getaway similar to the Sequoias and it’s gotten me all antsy with anticipation for another adventure in the great outdoors.

The more I travel, the more I realize that though we can all enjoy a vacation -between determining the destination, booking the room, exploring extracurricular activities in the area and finding some fabulous food options- planning them certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  With the assistance of any number of websites that coagulate travel data across the hotel and transportation markets like Travelocity, CheapTickets and Kayak, a host of easibly maliable and managable mobile apps, and my uncanny ability to have way too many tabs open and organized in my browser window, it’s gotten a wee bit easier.  But let’s face it, it’s still not streamlined – so leave it to the geniuses at Google to revolutionize the online travel game.

Just yesterday morning, Google announced a new component to its mobile vertical – Google Destinations.  It’s an easy, breezy one stop shop of a vacation application that’s sure to take the stress out of your search and get you into some fun on the double. As the worlds premiere online search engine, Google claims that in the last few years it’s seen a 50% increase in travel related questions and queries generating on the site. After putting their heads together, they coagulates the metadata from Google Flights and Hotel Search to provide instant travel relief in the form of easy to browse itineraries and quick buy bookings from reputable sites.  If you haven’t taken Google Flights for a spin, I’ll be honest – you’re missing out.  The algorithms they’ve developed do a wonderful job of forecasting the best times for flights, not to mention it’ll link you with any number of other travel providers.

Unlike many other large internet travel providers like Kayak, Air BnB and Cheaptickets which offer multiple ways to access their data, Google Destinations is only available on your mobile device.  Though this move could be construed as an attempt to drive traffic to their mobile site, maybe it’s also a silent hint that we should be prepared for a mobile app from Google Labs.  Either way, though, I’m into it -.  If you want to take it for a spin yourself, grab that smart phone and let’s play along.

First, head to your native Google or Google Chrome app (and if you don’t have either, I would recommend downloading them immediately.) And now, let’s just dream a little and plan a hypothetical dream vacation. From tinkering around this morning, it looks like you can either use a State from the United States or a Country from around the world, paired with the word “destinations” – meaning queries like “California destinations”, “Canada destinations”, “Italy destinations” and the like.  Now, the real fun begins!

Once you have your general location in mind, there are three ways to manipulate the data.  First, you can filter by date – and if you don’t know the exact dates you want to travel, the ‘Flexible Dates’ let’s you just pick the months you’re considering.  Next, you can refine your search by the type of activity; or you can even include the keywords in your search with hobby terms + [Location] + “Destination”, like “California Surfing”, “Colorado Hiking” or  “Spain Skiing.”  If you don’t know what you want, let Google do some thinking for you and choose from the options are as below.  And last, but certainly not least – you can adjust the end price which takes into account 7 nights away; as of now, it’s only available for 1 or 2 travelers.

If you click through to your dream spot from the first search, you’ll be presented with a window with two tabs. ‘Explore’ gives a little bit of background on the area – including the most sought after locations in the area, various itineraries based on past searches, a birds eye view of the topography and annual meteorology of the area letting you know when the best time of year to go is and a variety of additional locations to enjoy based on your search.  Currently, Google only has itineraries for roughly 201 locations but I’m sure that number will increase exponentially with the use of the application.

If you don’t have your phone handy, don’t have a destination in mind or simply would rather watch someone else do it – take a gander at the video below.

[Traveling Tales] Packing The Perfect Weekender Bag

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“He who would travel happily must travel light.”
―  Antoine de St. Exupery

My entire life, I’ve been inexplicably drawn to the buzz and twinkle of neon lights and the industrial landscape of the heart of the city much like a bee to honey. The hustle and bustle of determined personalities paired with the high octane energy of any metropolitan area are enough to make my heart swoon – but lately, I’ve had this indescribable itch for whimsical wanderlust and awe inspiring adventure that I just have to scratch.  When I stop and think about the last few years of my life, each and every season – or more accurately, almost each and every month – consisted of a major, multi day camping music festival in some far away location.  From driving down the Pacific Coast to gallivanting to Arizona’s Gem and Jam Festival and all the adventures in between, I now have a handy list of the best iOS apps for roadtrips and some nifty tricks to help book your fun filled getaway.

Fast forward to now, and though I feel I’ve outgrown (most of) my need for festivals, I’ve held onto my insatiable urge to delve into the depths of nature and really explore the beauty that surrounds me. Cathartic and soothing, the open road and traveling tales have slowly but surely have evolved into two of my favorite things.  Some trips end up being more well planned, while others seem to happen at the spur of the moment – but either way they’re spun, it’s finally ingrained in my brain how important having the perfect weekend bag is.  Whether you’re roughing it in the great outdoors or heading to a new metropolitan area for the weekend, I’ve found a fool proof list to pack quickly and efficiently for your impending vacation.

necessities

Wearables

Though we might not have traditional seasons in California – What is Winter, anyways? – we definitely have Fire Seasons, and each day can bring a huge swing in weather.  It’s always smart to query a site like Weather Underground or the like so you can get a more accurate scope of the upcoming forecast, just in case a surprise storm comes through.If you’re heading into the great outdoors, just remember – you’ll probably get dirty, make sure you don’t mind the clothes you bring coming back dirty as well. 

 In case of a heat wave, a swimsuit and towel are a must – and a pair of polarized or rose colored shades makes it an unbeatable trifecta. I’ve always thought it’s better to be prepared than sorry, so make sure you bring some warmer layers along for the trip – including a lightweight hoodie and a heavyweight jacket for cold spells; bonus points for mittens, a scarf , beanie – or my personal go-to: my spirit hood.   I always find it easier to layer when I have tank tops underneath, but you do you. Add in a pair of pants and either shorts or a skirt for each day, and double the amount of underwear and socks as the number of days you’re gone. (if you’re camping, potentially even triple – there’s just nothing better than a clean pair of socks and underwear after a long, sweaty day romping around in the best nature has to offer.) Last but definitely not least, make sure you have a comfortable pair of walking shoes with good tread, a pair of flip flops – and maybe a pair of boots or snow shoes to round out your footwear.  

Entertainment

Though I’m sure you’ll be heading out into the great beyond with your squad, that’s not to say you won’t find some down time – or even alone time. Beyond having ‘regular’ luggage, I try to always have a fun bag of things that I enjoy keeping near me at all times while on vacation, including a camera to capture the memories, a portable speaker to share the jams and a pair of headphones in case you just need a little lullaby to send you off to sleep for a midday siesta.  I always try to have a book on me because you never know what downtime you’ll find yourself in, but if you’re on the more artistic side – bring a journal and a set of colored pens or pencils, and get the whole gang in on some creative action.  Everyone loves toys so toss in a deck of cards, a football or volleyball (bonus points if it glows in the dark), and if you delve in the art of flow toys it’s the perfect occasion to bust out your poi, hoop or set of lights.

Toiletries

Last but certainly not least, the bathroom bag.  It’s so necessary, and chances are – if you’re like me – you always forget something important!  So, I’ve developed a top to bottom method where I literally start at the top of my head and work down to think about what I need to take.  When it comes to packing a parcel of toiletries, remember – travel sizes and sample sizes are your friends!  If you head to a motel or hotel, don’t forget to stock up! 😉

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The Short List:

Wearables: Multiply the following items of clothing by the number of days you’ll be gone

  • Tank Tops x 2
  • Hoodie
  • Jacket
  • Extra warmth: Scarf | Beanie | Spirit Hood
  • Pair of pants
  • Pair of shorts or a skirt
  • Underwear x 2
  • PJs
  • Socks x 3
  • Sneakers
  • Flip Flops
  • SpiritHood

Entertainment

  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Deck of cards
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Camera
  • Portable Speaker
  • Headphones
  • Passport / ID / Wallet
  • Flow Toys
  • Fun Read

Toilettries

  • Hair brush
  • Hair ties
  • Eye glasses and/or Contacts + Solution
  • Ear Plugs
  • Tissues
  • Toothpaste + Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Face Wash
  • Wash Cloth
  • Chapstick
  • Deoderant
  • Sunscreen or Lotion with SPF
  • Prescription Medication
  • Ibuprofen
  • Bonus Points: Midol – for the guys out there, the extra kick of caffeine helps with hangovers!

One last amazing thing that I’ve recently discovered is that Google Maps can be taken offline, so if you’re conserving your phone battery or you find yourself in a desolate area without service – never fear, the directions are here!  Gas Stations are your friend, and will more often than not keep you from peeing all along the highway and marking your proverbial territory….plus, yano, snacks and stuff. Even if you don’t think you’re hungry, snag some energy bars and water – you never know when the urge will strike!

What are your tried and true roadtrip tips?

Let me know in the comments below!

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
― Jack Kerouac ―

[Traveling Tales] The Best iOS Apps For Roadtrips

From the second I got my first car at 17, I realized that curves are for hugging, being on the road is physically cathartic and that the shortest distance between two points is me in my car with the windows down and music up.  Though I’ve developed a map-titude over the ages, I’m constantly praising the cell phone gods that smart phones exist and that developers are willing to share their genius with us.  From directions to attractions, a place to lay your head and places to explore – I’ve found a good set of phone apps that have you covered. Just remember – whatever you’re trying to do, wherever you’re trying to go: there’s a better way, and there’s definitely an app for that.

Lodging. 

Make sure you’ve got a birds eye view into one if not more, of the following apps so you can get a comfortable roof over your head for pennies on the dollar.  My personal favorite is AirBnb, especially because you can snag an entire domicile for an incredibly low rate – or just a single room if you’re flying solo or traveling with your best friend or significant other.  HomeAway and VRBO are great resources if you’ve got a larger group in tow, while CheapTickets can find you a discounted hotel room in milliseconds.

So Much Room For Activities. 

One of my favorite things about road trips is that they can take you wherever your little heart desires – want to head to the beach and cruise the coast? Do it!  Or how about a detour through the desert or a romp near the river?  A road trip is the quintessential choose your own adventure experience and you’re the captain.  Sometimes, it just takes a wish and a will to find something novel – but if you’d like a little assistance, download Roadtrippers for a nifty guide around your location and it’s comprehensive for the entire United States.  After signing up, you can save and share travel routes, not to mention a look into a broad range of activities within a close proximity to your travel path plus the net value of gas for your trip.

Find Yourself

If you’re an iPhone user and you’re trying to get anywhere important, or just find a specific location in general –  do yourself a favor and stop using Apple Maps.  Seriously.  Download Google Maps and Waze immediately, sit back and enjoy the seamless integration and easier to use directions that don’t lead you into the ocean, or into a dead end.

Stay organized.

I don’t know about you, but I love lists – sometimes I even have lists of lists, others I’ll purposely put a few things on it that I’ve done that day so I can instantly feel the struckout satisfaction of what’s been accomplished. But for some reason, When it comes to buckling down and actually packing for a trip I always tend to forget the little things.  So a few years ago, I made a master list and saved it to my hard drive; when I got sick of referencing it – I tossed it up into a list on Evernote.  A great alternative to a bulky Google Doc, Evernote provides a simple forum for staying on task and on top of your life.

What are your tricks of the trade when it comes to traveling?

Let me know in the comments below!

[Traveling Tales] A Leisurely Road Trip Down the West Coast

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve been told that there’s only one constant in life, and all ironies aside – that constant is change.  As with the old adage ‘this too shall pass‘, I’ve developed a thicker skin and a willful resolve in the understanding that no matter what I’m doing or the trajectory of my life, the chances of a roller coaster moment is coming are high – so hold on and enjoy the ride.  The ups, downs and in-betweens are all wonderful side-effects of this passionate, purposeful and perpetual, journey around the sun.  This past year alone has been a crazy one, it started with a bang on a social high and it’s ending on a more personal, yet equally loud, roar – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The holidays have always provided me ample time for retrospect, possible due to the lack of a social circle in Oregon – but mostly because of the long flight up and almost two hour drive in from Portland to Corvallis once the plane lands.  Even though I’m not originally from Oregon, my dad is and I’ve felt like it’s been my second (well, technicality third home for my entire life).  Since I was a wee little one, I’ve been frequenting California’s stately neighbor to North.  Plus, now that my dad is inching towards retirement he’s left the busy, bustling and vibrant city life of San Francisco behind while trading it for the slower paced, quieter, country life of  Corvallis; where the claim to fame is green grass, football and Oregon State University.

Since they’d spent the last few months moving, my step-mom was over the moon excited to see us for two reasons – it’d been almost four months since the last time the family got together and she couldn’t wait to unload whatever household items they didn’t need into our possession.  Whether her excitement was from Column A or Column B simply didn’t faze us – we were over the moon about both! Originally when we discussed how we were bringing it all back to Los Angeles, we’d considered renting a van or renting a U-Haul, and had jokingly mentioned that we could just fill the old ’98 Ford Expedition  for a full fledged, super fun road trip – maybe we’d bring it back later in the year and use it as an excuse to come visit again; the options felt endless! Instead of laughing at us, they mused that we might as well just keep the truck since all it had been doing over the last give years was gathering rust and spiderwebs in the garage.  Without missing a beat, we jumped with joy and resolved we’d only have to book a one way flight to Oregon – and could spend the tail end of it road tripping down through Oregon to San Francisco and then on to Los Angeles.  Sure, we had the chance to travel down this path when heading to and from Shambhala but we’d always been in such a rush and never seemed to have the time to smell the proverbial roses or bask in the delightful Oregon sunshine.

If you’re not from Oregon, one of the first things to understand about traveling during Thanksgiving Break is that you’re going to find yourself in a bit of traffic from the Civil War Game.  Every year after Thanksgiving, the Eugene based University of Oregon Ducks take on the OSU Beavers for what’s contended to be the 5th largest college football rivalry in the United States.
If you’re a football fan, it’s a proper time to rejoice – but if you’re trying to make your way down the 5 to California, beware – because there’s really only one major freeway and depending on your timing you might just get stuck in it.  That’s literally the only weekend of the year I’ve ever seen traffic in Oregon. Instead of getting stuck in traffic, we decided to not only leave early but to take every detour we saw fit – we were in the mood to enjoy ourselves and for once we weren’t rushing back to LA on zero energy!

Our first stop was the little known Corvallis BMX Park on the edge of the city where the Marys River and the Williamette River collide.   Some parts were too waterlog to risk, others were too icy to entertain – but throughout it all it was an enjoyable adventure, even when we had to look up exactly what poision oak really looks like. Then we were off, off and away to a rest stop near Oakland, Oregon that looked like it was straight out of a fairy tale with vibrant greens, radiant yellows and blossoming reds.  Time had come to a standstill while we stood there, laughing like five year olds as we waltzed the empty paths around the field, enraptured by our momentary microcosm.

By the time we reached Mt.Ashland, it felt as though we’d experienced the brevity of all the seasons in just a few short hours.  First a cool breeze and sparse sunshine, blossoming into sunshowers and scattered clouds as we climbed our way into an indescribable winter wonderland.  Squealing like a schoolgirl that hadn’t seen snow more than a handful of times in her life, I pleaded with Danny to pull over at each and every turnout so we could embrace the snowfall, dance on the purity of the ground… and apparently have a snowball fight or two.

By sunset, we’d conquered Yreka and saw a beautiful orange and magenta shimmer off of snowcapped Mt.Shasta

We got to Menlo Park late that night, to wake up to the excitement of a stunning Saturday in the Bay Area.  It’d been forever since we’d had a day to just spend some time with my mother and I was beyond happy that she could host us for the weekend.  We spent the day gallivanting around the Bay Area to all my former stomping grounds – Strolling through Menlo Park, and into Atherton where my old High School was to grab lunch downtown at Le Boulanger, then into Palo Alto, Stanford Campus and my favorite hidden gem of a botanical garden. It was a whirlwind few days with a lot of driving and a ton of walking, but it felt great to stretch the limbs, expand the mind and really connect with my family and my fiance.

 

[Traveling Tales] Admiring Oregon’s Multnomah Falls

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

Seasons have changed, the months have rearranged – and I’m still trying to catch my breath so I can convert thoughts to syllables and ideas to writable action.  When I took my part time publicity position back in the Spring, I had little to no actual idea what I was actually asking of myself.  Go after your dream job, they said; it’ll be worth it to do both, they said.  At times, it feels like I’m taking two steps forward and one step backwards; at other times, I remember that I’m not a pawn – I’m a queen who can roam the board of life as she pleases.  For me, this has been a year of evolution, transformation and change – for everything I’ve lost, the world has given back in spades, whether that means I’m actively pursuing friendships with a more solid selection of souls, or a career based on what I passionately believe in.

So, here I am – almost five months later, warped by wanderlust and exhausted beyond expectation, wondering if the means justified this end.  The short answer is that they did; the long of it, is well, long.  But when the adventure is about the journey and not the destination, it’s important to note that the journey has been a fantastic romp through this ruckus called life. I have so many stories locked in my mind, so many riddles yearning to be solved while I sift through memories like an hourglass – I’ve been waiting to break myself open and spill all.

At the end of July, I had a debilitating bout with my dilapidated car (which included, but wasn’t limited to: a broken axle, two new tires, new brakes, a new battery and a faulty transmission), which turned into a catalyst for anti-social behavior.  I’d been feeling  down and further than out, especially when I had to break several longstanding plans – including attending a wedding of a childhood friend so once the car was finally fixed, getting out of town and into the bold, beautiful outdoors seemed like the only solution.  Though our sights were set on Shambhala, we were equally excited to travel off the beaten path and see what there was to see on our way.  Last year on our drive, we admired Oregon’s Multnomah Falls from afar – but this year, we’d made it a mission to see it up close and personal – and man, was it ever worth it!

Photo Cred: Daniel Leist Photography

Located about two hours from my family in Corvallis but less than 45 minutes East of Portland in Oregon, Multnomah Falls sits on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge and relieves itself into Benson Lake.  The tallest waterfall in Oregon, Multnomah Falls is a year round, two tiered waterfall that measures in at a magnificent 620′ between the upper and lower falls.  For those that are feeling a little frisky, you can even take a quick quarter-mile jaunt over the Benson Bridge and get an up close and personal view of the falls from the footpath – or try your endurance and hike your way to the top for a birds eye view of the Columbia!  If you are among the daring that do, you’ve just marched over a mile – and you conquered the first part of the 6.5 mile Larch Mountain Trail.

Back in 1915, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur Simon Benson loaned the City of Portland the nearly $6000 necessary to purchase Multnomah Falls and build the bridge sitting at 105′.  Ask any of my friends, I’m beyond terrified of heights – but with a bridge as cemented and sturdy as that, I felt safe beyond belief…as long as I stayed with one hand on the railing and did my best to not look down.

Built in 1925 by the City of Portland to encourage tourism, the Multnomah Falls Lodge sits plush at the bottom of Larch Mountain.  Not only is the venue documented on the National Register of Historic Places but it provides a wonderful deviation from your road trip complete with snacks, coffee and all the touristy knick-knacks you could dream of.  If you’re in the area tomorrow, September 9th, Multnomah Falls and her sister waterfall Wahkeena are celebrating a century as a public park in the Lodge plaza – head on down and join in on the memories!

For more on Multnomah Falls head to their socials – Website | Facebook | Yelp

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”
Terence McKenna