Joshua Tree

I thought in between some of our current adventures, I’d write about some past adventures.  I travel for work and often find myself with a day or so off that I have time for adventure, but not much adventure.  Last January while I was working in L.A., I had one such opportunity. Since I was a little burnt out on L.A. (as I was literally the Portlandia sketch when they go to L.A. I was all it’s sunny and can I take public transportation?  Can I walk? It was bad) I decided to hop over to Joshua Tree for the day.

When I find myself short on time and wanting to visit somewhere like Joshua Tree or Glacier, I try to figure out how I can maximize my time spent there but still get to do a bit of off the beaten path type activities.  I had a couple hour drive from L.A. so an early start was necessary.  I’m sure I attempted to go to bed early the night before, I’m sure I failed at that, but I did get an early early start to avoid most of the L.A. traffic.  Then I decided it was just going to be a long day and that I would be traveling home late at night and would be sleepy the following day. Sometimes you just have to be a little tired in life to experience it.  I also purchased a map of Joshua tree the day before and I noted the main road I would choose to drive on and a couple of specific spots I wanted to check out.  Prep work is definitely a must when you only have a short amount of time.  I remain flexible with my plans just in case I find something amazing, but this way I didn’t miss anything.  I also assumed I wouldn’t have cell service so I printed out directions at the hotel, downloaded music to my phone for the journey, and mapped out which towns to stop for gas.  Probably a little over preparing on that one, but I have no desire to be stranded anywhere, especially in California without gas.

Things I definitely wanted to experience at Joshua Tree:

1. Sunset

2. A little bit of time in the complete darkness with all the stars

3. Do a short hike, but to the top of somewhere for some good views.  I chose the Ryan Mt. hike.

4. Spend a little time off the main road for some solitude

5. See skull rock, jumbo rocks, and cholla cactus gardens

I managed to accomplish all of those goals.

What I learned is that one day if obviously not enough time!  I want to go back for about a week and do a lot of hiking and some rock climbing.  Also, I would like to just spend time in the loneliness and darkness of the nights there.

I can also speak highly of the Joshua Tree Saloon Grill & Bar.  Excellent service, beer,  fantastic burger, and local music (the night I was there anyways).

Slideshow of some of my pictures from the day:

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Whale Watching at Cape Lookout

The fun thing about living in Oregon is when it’s a sunny day in December, you get to ask the question should we spend this sunny day snowshoeing in the mountains or whale watching at the ocean?  We live in Portland so both of those options are only about an hour and a half away.  We are truly blessed here.  On this particular sunny day, we chose whale watching.

I always start out by doing a bit of research on whatever hike we’re going to do, mainly looking for the kid friendliness of it if we’re bringing the bear along, which we did on this day.  What I read about the Cape Lookout hike for the Cape Trail was conflicting on the appropriateness for children.  It was apparently not a lot of elevation gain, but quite muddy and some steep drop offs of cliffs.  That’s not enough to deter us, we could do 5 miles round trip with that.  The bear is very good at holding hands and listening on the trail so I knew we would be able to get by the cliffs without incident and we would just deal with the mud.  So off we drove 1.5 hours to Tillamook.

This hike is fun and quite an adventure!  The first half is easy peasy.  Little up and down, but nothing major and no mud for that day anyways.  But then you hit the half wayish point and you scramble over a few rocks and perhaps your husband will say “well the mud on this trail isn’t actually that bad” and then it begins.  It’s not bad, but it’s challenging for a 5 year old and parents with that 5 year old.  Lots of mud and climbing over many tree roots.  The cliffs weren’t too concerning as we could easily had the bear walk on the inside of the trail and hold our hand.  He knows better than to run along those points and we just reminded him to watch his feet and where he was putting them because we didn’t want to trip at this point.  Overall fun, a little exhausting for little legs, but totally worth it!

And you’re hiking through an old growth forest while getting phenomenal views of the pacific ocean and the gorgeous oregon coast line.  And at the end of it all, you get to see whales assuming it’s the right time of year and a good day for it.  We did see a couple of spouts as the grey whales are migrating south right now.  Next week is supposed to be even better.  We also saw several tiny birds and the bear made friends with every dog on the trail.

Overall I would recommend this hike, even for kids. Just don’t be fooled by the easy first half and keep them close when you get to those cliffs.  Bring extra shoes for sure!  As always I recommend bringing a victory beer.  I like to drink mine at the half way point as it gives me a boost of energy for the return hike.  Also, this hike doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain, but climbing over all the tree roots and through the mud and such make it a little bit more difficult than it might otherwise be.  This is also a busy trail so you will have company for sure, but it wasn’t too overwhelming.

A Fresh Start

Well, I wanted a fresh start on this space, to start all over.  I was trying to figure out how to archive and hide all previous posts and I accidentally deleted them all.  Oh well!  Such is life.  Sometimes when we want a fresh start, we really get a fresh start!

The focus of this space will now be on the many adventures that I find myself on either alone, with friends, or with my family.  As a starter I’m going to share some photos from some of my favorite adventures over the past year or so.  Oh and sometimes food and beer will probably find their way into this space.

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