Follow:
Topics:
Browsing Category:

North America Travel

    North America Travel

    My Favorite Thing To Do On Each Hawaiian Island

    I’ve spent the majority of my Hawaii vacations on the island of Maui, and it is my favorite of all the islands. But I have been lucky enough to visit each of the islands, most for several days and one for just a day. So I thought I would share with you my personal favorite thing to do on each Hawaiian Island.

    My first visit to Hawaii, 1977. I was seventeen.

    The Island of Lanai

    Sailing around Lanai with my son

    With only two hotels on this island, known as the Pineapple Isle, you might consider a day trip from Maui. It’s a great way to visit this tiny island, where Hulopoe Beach is my favorite thing. The marine preserve at this beach is home to tide pools, turtles and wonderful marine life. The golden sand beach is beautiful and it’s a perfect snorkel spot.

    The Island of Kauai

    Na Pali Coast Kauai

    The oldest and lushest of all the islands, beautiful and green Kauai is known as the Garden Isle. There are many amazing things to see and do on this beautiful island, but my favorite is Na Pali Coast Wilderness. There are several hikes to get into this beautiful but very remote area. However, don’t attempt hiking here unless you are an experienced hiker.

    The Island of Hawaii

    Manta ray night swim on the Big Island

    The Big Island is the youngest of the inhabited island and is an amazing sight with the recent lava flows and stark and barren landscape. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is amazing, but my favorite thing to do on the Big Island is to do a night swim with the manta rays in Kona. Swimming with the manta rays is one of the most amazing things I have ever done.

    The Island of Oahu

    Koko Head Crater Hike Oahu

    The most populous of the islands, nicknamed The Gathering Place, Oahu is home to the state capital of Honolulu. This is the first island I visited back in 1977 and I fell in love with Hawaii. There are so many things to do on this island, but it is also very crowded with tourists. Shopping and dining are popular and of course going to the beach and snorkeling. I loved the quieter and more laid back North shore. But my favorite thing I have ever done on this island is hike up the Koko Head stairs. This “hike” is a scramble up a very steep, uneven, ancient railroad track. It’s 1048 stairs up. It is hard but it’s still my favorite thing to do on Oahu.

    The Island of Molokai

    Mule ride Molokai

    The Friendly Isle is very much that. This island feels the most like what I imagine Hawaii was sixty or so years ago. There is lots to do on The Friendly Isle, but my favorite thing, unfortunately is currently closed. Taking a mule ride down to the Kalaupapa Leper Colony is an amazing experience. The history is fascinating and the beauty is sublime. I hope this attraction can reopen. You can get to the colony by flying, but the mule ride is just so awesome. While on Molokai be sure to visit Kamoi Snack-n-Go ice cream shop! It’s owned by my dear friend Kimberly and you will love the ice cream!

    The Island of Maui

    Maui – heaven on earth

    Maui no ka oi. The Valley Isle. My favorite island and one of my favorite places in the world. I love Maui. I just tried to count how many times I have visited Maui and I think it’s about 8…but maybe 10. Anyway in all those visits we have done pretty much every attraction and seen every destination there is. I have a favorite beach (Keawakapu), a favorite restaurant (Mama’s Fish House), a favorite place to run (Wailea Beach), a favorite hike (La Perouse), a favorite farmers market (Upcountry), a favorite snorkel spot (Blackrock Kaanapali) and a favorite public golf course (Maui Nui). I even have a favorite yoga studio (Maui Yoga Path).

    But what is my most favorite thing to do on the beautiful Valley Isle? Absolutely Nothing. I love to sit with my morning coffee or my afternoon gin and listen to the waves and breath the clean fresh air and count my blessings.

    Lucky girl that I am.

    My favorite thing to do on each Hawaiian Island. Fabulous Hawaii. Aloha.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog. Thank you.

    See this week’s top performing pin.

    You might also like Snorkeling Around the World

    North America Travel

    Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest

    Summer and Fall a Great Time to Hike

    Location: Pacific Northwest

    Hiking is one of our most favorite activities and it is so good for you too. We love everything from walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain (almost 500 miles) to short day hikes close to home. Spending our summers in the Pacific Northwest where we grew up, we are spoiled by so many great day hikes close by. So I thought I would put together a list of my favorite day hikes in the Pacific Northwest.

    Olympic Peninsula

    Definitely one of the most beautiful places to hike anywhere in the world, the Olympic Peninsula is the closest to my home of the regions I’ve listed here. Located in Washington State’s upper Northwest region, it offers both day and overnight hiking options for the novice to the advanced. Listed here are a handful of my favorite day hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.

    South Fork Skokomish RiverMap it

    South Fork Skokomish River

    Beautiful and relatively easy with minimal incline (there is some but nothing too strenuous) this well-maintained trail skirts the South Fork of the Skokomish River in a region just Southwest of the lower Hood Canal. To walk the entire out and back it can be eleven miles or a bit more, or turn around at any point. Keep your eyes open for some beautiful and massive old cedar and Douglas fir trees. There are a handful of areas to access the river for your picnic or a place to rest and enjoy this peaceful location.

    Parking is available

    Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass Required

    Learn more about Lower Skokomish trail here.

    Storm KingMap it

    Storm King view of Crescent Lake

    We hiked this for the first time this past July and it is a climb! If you don’t want incline this one is not for you. But boy do you get some beautiful views from the top. The trail is steep and in places rocky as you traverse the 2 miles to the top. It’s popular on weekends so consider off season or mid-week. The last part to the peak requires use of ropes to conquer the top. Or just sit on the rocks and eat your lunch and let the young kids do that last part.

    Parking is available at the Crescent Lake parking area

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Storm King and Crescent Lake here.

    Lena LakeMap it

    Lena Lake

    I have hiked this trail all my life, since I was a little child and we used to hike overnight for our summer vacation. Some elevation to lower Lena, but it’s a perfect day hike at about 7 miles round trip. The incline is gentle and most anyone can do it. The trail does have some rocky areas and lots of roots but you will marvel at the beautiful old growth Douglas Firs. The turquoise blue lake is perfect for your lunch and then head back down. Overnight hikers can consider continuing on to upper Lena another xx miles.

    Parking available

    Northwest Forest pass or America the Beautiful Pass required

    Learn more about Lena Lake here.

    See more Olympic Peninsula Hikes here.

    Close to Seattle

    Visitors and locals in the Seattle area are lucky to have great day hikes a short drive or even a walk away. We often urban hike around Seattle and Ballard or head east of the city into the Cascade foothills for easy, accessible hikes.

    Discovery ParkMap it

    Discovery Park

    A hidden gem in the City of Seattle, Discovery Park is just that – a surprising discovery! Suddenly you find yourself in a beautiful wooded park, on a bluff high above the Puget Sound or on the shore of a driftwood-littered beach. If you are in Seattle and are looking for the perfect day hike close to the city, this is it. Multiple hiking options through out this beautiful 534 acre city oasis. Who knew day hikes in the Pacific Northwest would include one in the heart of a city?

    Parking is available.

    Free

    Learn more here about Discovery Park.

    Franklin FallsMap it

    Franklin Falls

    Less than an hour East of Seattle just off Interstate 90 is an easy little 2 mile hike to Franklin Falls on Denny Creek. This popular day trip from Seattle can get really crowded on a summer weekend. But check it out in the fall for a beautiful getaway with fall color, or in the spring when the falls are crashing from the winter melt. It’s a great multi-season destination and perfect for the whole family.

    Limited Parking

    Washington State Discover Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Franklin Falls and the Denny Creek campground here

    See more close to Seattle hikes here.

    North Side of Mount Rainier

    The North side of Mount Rainier is easily accessed from central and south Puget Sound and is one of my most favorite places to hike. There are many choices but the ones listed below are some of my favorite.

    Tolmie PeakMap it

    Tolmie Peak

    I love this hike, even though the road getting to the trailhead can be rough. Start at the Mowich Lake campground and hike the 7 miles round trip to one of the best views in all of Washington State. Passing by Eunice Lake and continuing up to an abandoned fire look out where you will not only enjoy a stunning Mount Rainier view but on a clear day you will also see Mount Baker, Glacier Peak and Mount Saint Helens.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Tolmie Peak here.

    Spray ParkMap it

    Spray Park

    This trail also begins at Mowich Lake on the south end. The first quarter mile your are walking on the Wonderland trail before the Spray Park trail branches off. This trail (6 miles RT) takes you through a beautiful and delicate sub-alpine meadows and along to Spray Falls. In late summer an abundance of wildflowers make the trail popular especially on the weekend. Gentle incline and this is easy for most anyone.

    Parking available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass required

    Learn more about Spray Park trail here.

    Summit LakeMap it

    Summit Lake

    On a clear day you can see forever. No joke. This hike is worth the elevation gain of about 1300 feet over about 3 miles. It’s just gorgeous. The road to get there is not so gorgeous though so be sure to have a all-wheel drive if possible. The road often has snow into June. The best time to hike here is June through October.

    Parking Available

    Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required.

    Learn more about Summit Lake here.

    Crystal MountainMap-it

    Crystal Mountain

    The Mount Rainier gondola at Crystal Mountain ski resort is open in the summer and zips you up 2400 feet to the top of the ski area for a spectacular view. On a clear day you can see a succession of mountains including Rainier, Saint Helens, Adams and Baker through out the Cascade range. Hikers can hike down the mountain enjoying the wildlife and subalpine meadows, small lakes and creeks along the way or you can ride the gondola back down.

    Parking Available

    Gondola price ranges from $19-34. Online reservations are available.

    Learn more about the gondola here.

    South Side of Mount Rainier

    More remote than the North side of Mount Rainier, the Southside, including the Sunrise Visitor Center, has fewer visitors so is a good choice during peak season. But it does take longer to get there. Overnight in the Ashford or Packwood area makes for a nice multi-day visit.

    Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap Map it

    Sheep Lake

    We just did this hike for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. The weather was not very cooperative however, so we did only about five miles. This trail, part of the Pacific Coast Trail, goes on and on, and I really would like to return and see more of it next summer. The first part up to Sheep Lake is very easy as the trail wanders along the ridge and then inland to the lake. Continuing on you have several options to Sourdough Gap as well as Crystal Lake. This hike skirts Mount Rainier National Park and falls within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

    We had the place to ourselves on a fairly stormy fall day, but this hike can be very busy on a nice summer weekend. Consider midweek or fall. The fall colors were excellent.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful or Northwest Forest Pass Required

    Learn more about Sheep Lake here.

    Burroughs MountainMap it

    Burroughs Mountain

    On this five mile hike that leaves from the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park you will get as close as possible to Mount Rainier without actually climbing the mountain. There are three Burroughs peaks on this hike, and snow is often on or near the trail well into the summer months so come prepared. It feels like a moonscape, and yet a few flowers and plants flourish as do several small mammals.

    Parking Available

    America the Beautiful Pass or Day Pass Required

    Learn more about Burroughs Mountain here

    Silver FallsMap it

    Silver Falls

    This very easy 3 mile round trip hike starts at the Ohanapekosh campground and leads you to one of the prettiest waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park. Easy meandering trail through beautiful forest, offers a great option for families or those looking for less incline with a big impact. Spectacular hike.

    Parking Available although limited

    America the Beautiful or Day Pass Required

    Learn more about Silver Falls here.

    Grove of the PatriarchsMap it

    Grove of the Patriarchs

    One of the most magical hikes in Mount Rainier, Grove of the Patriarchs is a wonderland of old growth trees, some as old as 1000 years. This easy 1.5 mile round trip hike can be done by anyone, including children. It’s a remarkable oasis of nature’s beauty and a reminder of the importance of preservation and care of our natural wonders.

    Parking available but limited

    Learn more about Grove of the Patriarchs here.

    Summerland TrailMap it

    Summerland Trail

    This beautiful alpine trail is 8.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2100 feet as you traverse from wildflower meadows up into subalpine tundra admiring views of Mount Rainier along the way. Steady incline and occasional rough trail make this better for more experienced hikers. Snow can be present into early summer. Very popular on weekends and parking is limited so come midweek, fall or early in the day.

    Parking available on the road but limited

    America the Beautiful or Day Pass required

    Learn more about the Summerland Trail here.

    Learn more about all hikes in Mount Rainier National Park here

    And Many More

    mount rainier
    Hiking with the family Summit Lake

    There are many more hiking options both for day and overnight that I have not listed here including trails North and farther South. Two great websites to learn more about day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are Alltrails.com and Washington Trails Association wta.org.

    Be sure to check the weather before setting off on any hike in the Pacific Northwest, as even in the summer it can be unpredictable. Be prepared to encounter wildlife, bring bug spray and sunscreen and plenty of water. And always make sure someone knows where you are going.

    With a little preparation, day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are rewarding, invigorating and always stunningly beautiful. Go outside!

    See our blog about My Favorite Things in Washington State here.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog.

    North America Travel

    Aloha & Time to Disconnect

    Time to Disconnect and Recenter

    Location: Maui Hawaii

    We made it. I wasn’t sure we actually would but we have arrived safe and sound in Maui. My first flight since leaving lockdown on Cyprus on April 30th. Feeling grateful for Aloha and time to disconnect.

    Getting here was a trial. Arriving on the first day Hawaii reopened to tourists meant jumping through a lot of hoops, waiting for test results, and stressing when those did not appear. We boarded the plan without test results. But when we landed my negative results were in my inbox, but my husband’s were not. What to do?

    Arrival at the airport was well thought-out and and easy. They allowed us both to proceed, with Arne needing to quarantine but at our condo and not at a hotel as we had feared. But only I could rent a car. Luckily at least one of us could get the car. When his results arrive (hopefully soon) he will need to download the information to the tourism site. In the meantime he can not leave the condo and if he does and gets caught the fine is $5000. Whoa.

    But I have no doubt all this will be worth it for five weeks on the most beautiful island in the world.

    As much as we have loved being home with family, the past months have been stressful indeed as we all have tried to figure out how to operate in this world of Covid. Even though I feel safe at my house, I still have a lot of worry for my family and friends and for the question of what the future will look like.

    Hawaii
    Hawaii (photo from Canva)

    Time to Disconnect for Awhile

    Finally making it to Hawaii, a week later than our originally scheduled trip (scheduled 14 months ago, long before Covid), we feel happy we didn’t need to cancel at least. Maui is one of my favorite places in the entire world (that’s saying a lot considering how much I have traveled) and I am absolutely thrilled to be back here again. My last visit was in June 2016. While here we don’t plan to do much, other than relax, so social distancing will be easy. I’ve been here enough times I don’t need to do anything touristy.

    I have decided to make this a real vacation as much as possible, including a social media vacation. I’m not saying I am never going to check in – I’m sure I will. But I am unplugging and letting my hair down for awhile. Stepping away from the fray.

    Hawaii
    Hawaii (photo from Canva)

    Lots of Blogs and Tasty Tuesday Scheduled in Advance

    But the great thing about technology, is if you plan well enough in advance, you can schedule blog and social media posts so my faithful audience won’t really notice a thing. In the weeks prior to our departure I set up Tasty Tuesday, Reading Wednesday and Inspire Friday to post automatically as much as possible in the weeks ahead.

    My Time to ReCharge

    I’ll be checking in to make sure everything is running smoothly and I hope you will all continue to enjoy My Fab Fifties Life while I take a little breather. A re-charge, re-access, re-center, re-juvenate breather. For this I re-joice.

    See ya on the flip side peeps. Take some time for yourself too. And be kind.

    I love you all. Thanks for your continued support. Aloha.

    photo from Canva
    photo from Canva
    North America Travel

    Discovering Packwood Washington & The Surrounding Area

    Sanity Staycation #3 – Summer 2020

    Location: Packwood Washington

    Our third and final close-to-home Sanity Staycation for summer 2020 had us searching for new hiking adventures south of Mount Rainier. And we found what we were looking for by discovering Packwood, Washington and the surrounding area.

    The tiny town of Packwood, founded in the early 1800’s, has long been a jumping off point for Mount Rainier National Park. The first National Forest Service Ranger Station was here, and today most people make their living from summer tourists and winter skiers. But Packwood also was a logging community back in the day, and neighboring towns of Morton and Randle still serve in this capacity.

    Packwood Washington
    Moon Mountain Lodging

    We loved the little cabin we rented at Moon Mountain Lodging, a collection of four cabins on a quiet and beautifully wooded piece of property about a mile from the town of Packwood. We stayed in the one bedroom Cedar Cabin and because of Covid, we used the small but efficient kitchen for all of our meals in the cabin. See this lovely spot here.

    Packwood Washington
    Packwood Brewing Co.

    We got takeout one night at the White Pass Taqueria and it was amazing. And we visited the Packwood Brewing Company where social distancing was really easy on a week night. The beer was excellent and we played Scrabble while we drank our beer, and watched the giant elk walk right through the outdoor beer garden.

    Packwood Washington
    Elk

    We have good friends who have a home in Packwood and we enjoyed one evening with them, and also played nine-holes with them at the members only High Valley Golf Course. Cutest little golf course I ever played at.

    Packwood Washington
    High Valley Golf Club with my friend Janet

    We enjoyed four different hikes during our visit to the area and I recommend all of them;

    SNOW LAKE – a beautiful hike with a bit of elevation but only about 4 miles round trip, the hike to Snow Lake just inside Mount Rainier National Park near Paradise takes you to a beautiful turquoise lake surrounded by forests and hills.

    Mount Rainier National Park
    Snow Lake

    GROVE OF THE PATRIARCHS – anyone can do this easy and flat 1.5 mile loop trail within the National Park where 1000 year-old old-growth trees are a sight to behold. I’ve done this hike many times and every time I am dazzled by the majesty of it.

    Mount Rainier National Park
    Grove of the Patriarchs

    LAKE PACKWOOD – unfortunately we did this 9 mile round trip hike on a very wet and cold day, but we persevered through a beautiful forest trail that is well maintained. The lake used to house many Forest Service cabins and a handful still remain.

    Lake Packwood
    Lake Packwood Trail

    SHEEP LAKE – the trail to Sheep Lake is easy and it’s about 4 miles round trip. The lake is stunning and we visited on a fall day when the colors were at their best. The trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail and continues on past the lake for many miles to Sourdough Gap and eventually Crystal Lake. You can make this hike a full day or just a short hike.

    Sheep Lake
    Sheep Lake Trail

    We did not continue up to White Pass Ski Area but it is about 20 minutes from Packwood and is a wonderful winter playground. Packwood is home to a handful of restaurants, bars, a wonderful bakery and one grocery store. There are many lodging options too. Learn more about visiting Packwood here.

    Discovering Packwood Washington and the surrounding area turned out to be a perfect Staycation for us. I learned a lot about this area and hope to return again.

    Grove of the Patriarchs
    Grove of the Patriarchs

    Check out our previous Sanity Staycation #1 to Whidbey Island and our Sanity Staycation #2 to a tree house in Fall City.

    Despite my Summer of Miscontent, we have seen and done a lot, all while social distancing. It looks like this will be our life for awhile.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

    We love it when you share and pin our blog. Thanks.

    North America Travel

    Road Tripping Oregon USA

    Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Oregon USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the third installment in a three part series of our road trip adventures. Read installment number one here (Idaho) and installment number two here (Colorado).

    Mount Jefferson
    Oregon’s Mount Jefferson with smoke from fires

    We left Colorado early in the morning with the fires still burning, so another detour and long drive ahead. We drove about 12 hours back into Idaho where we stayed at a less-than-appealing Red Lion in the town of Boise. We were exhausted so didn’t see any of Boise. I love Boise and have been there before…next time we will stay longer and in better accommodations.

    Welcome to Oregon

    We hit the road bright and early for the six hour drive to Bend, Oregon, passing back into the Pacific Time zone before arriving. A light blanket of smoke hung over most of Oregon too, as fires there also burned in the summer ritual that has become so common with climate change. So sad.

    Riverbend Park
    Riverbend Park

    We had a few hours to spare before we could check into our Airbnb so we headed to Riverbend park where we hoped to get wet and cool off on the sweltering 100 degree day.

    But since it was Saturday lots of people had the same idea. It was super crowded making social distancing a bit difficult. This beautiful park on the Deschutes River is popular for floating down in inner tubes and other floaties, and 100’s of people were here for that activity. Since we didn’t have a floatie, we laid out our beach towels on the grass far from shore and just soaked up some sun and watched everyone float down the river from a comfortable distance.

    Riverbend Park
    Sunny day at Riverbend Park

    Oregon has a population of just over 4 million and ranks 39th in the states with about 25,000 virus cases. Some people were masked in public but the rules were not as strict as in Colorado. Everyone was wearing masks inside stores and restaurants.

    Airbnb Bend
    The Wee Hoose Airbnb, Bend

    Bend Is Da Bomb

    After a couple of hours we headed to check into our Airbnb, another darling little cabin on a ranch. It was small and the bathroom was in a separate building but the proprietors were excellent hosts and had done such a nice job making this a wonderful little respite. We would definitely stay here again. See it here.

    Bend is one of my favorite areas in THE WORLD (you know that is saying something) and I think I could live here. We only had two days so we tried to make the most of it. We had a spectacular meal at El Sancho, some of the best, most authentic Mexican food I’ve had in a very long time. We enjoyed walking and shopping in old Bend, and tried to play golf but a huge thunderstorm kicked up and kept us from getting out on the course. Oh well, next time.

    El Sancho Bend
    Amazing tacos at El Sancho

    From our Airbnb in northwest Bend off of Powell Butte, I was able to do a really long run one morning. There are many parks and trails also great for running and cycling and hiking all around this region.

    Mask Up Oregon
    Thanks Oregon for Masking Up

    Microbrew Capital of the Northwest

    Our last day we did a self-guided microbrewery tour. Bend has more thant THIRTY microbreweries…an astonishing number. We had the time and the stamina to enjoy only a handful. Some of our favorites were 10 Barrel, Crux, Bevel, McMenamins, Bend Brewing and Deschutes. We had planned to eat dinner at Bend Brewing or Deschutes but the same thunderstorm kept us from these outdoor dining places. Instead we ate at the historic Pine Tavern. Always a good choice when in Bend.

    Crux Brewing Bend
    My happy husband with Beer from Crux

    So our two quick days in Bend was not enough, but we hope to come back next summer and stay for a week. It really is a special place.

    Pine Tavern Bend
    The historic Pine Tavern

    On day 13 we drove the six hours back to our home in Washington State, tired but fulfilled at least for awhile, as we wait for our full-time travel life to begin again. We may just need to take another road trip in the months to come.

    Sunrise Bend
    Sunrise from our Airbnb

    Thanks for coming along for the ride! We love it when you pin and share our blog. Thank you.

    Read our blog about Geoducking in Washington State here.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

    North America Travel

    Road Tripping Colorado USA

    Aspen and Surrounding Area, Colorado USA

    Location: Colorado

    Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Colorado USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the second installment of three part series of our road trip adventures. Read installment number one here.

    We left Idaho to continue our journey to the Aspen Colorado area. For all the travel we had done, even several visits to Colorado, somehow Aspen eluded me. And so why not? Aspen here I come.

    Colorado border
    Welcome to Colorado

    Seemed easy enough, although a long drive from Sun Valley to Aspen we could do it in a day. We left early and enjoyed the beauty as we left Idaho and spent many miles through Utah and eventually crossing into Colorado.

    But oh no, we could see it for miles…smoke. Something was definitely burning. We proceded but when we were about an hour from our destination of Carbondale, a small town outside of Aspen, we learned that Interstate 70 was closed due to a fire. Our only option was a four-hour detour through Grand Junction. Sigh….a long day of driving got even longer.

    Grizzly Creek Fire Colorado
    Grizzly Creek Fire

    It was a relief to finally arrive, road weary but intact, at Cedar Ridge Ranch and our Glamping Airbnb. It was pitch black but we found our cozy tent with queen size bed ready and waiting and we collapsed into.

    Cedar Ridge Ranch tent
    Glamping at Cedar Ridge Ranch

    At sunrise with coffee in hand we explored the ranch to see what exactly it was we had gotten ourselves into. We could see the fire burning…but felt comfortable at the distance we were at. And so we headed out to see what we came here to see.

    Cedar Ridge Ranch
    Grizzly Creek Fire behind Cedar Ridge Ranch

    The Aspen region includes the towns of Carbondale, Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Marble and several others. Our lodgings were high above Carbondale and about a 30 minute drive to the town of Aspen.

    Aspen Colorado
    Slopes come right into dowtown Aspen

    We spent one day in Aspen and I was amazed how the ski slopes come right down into town. It would be really fun to come back here in the winter. Aspen and all the small towns we visited were enforcing the mask wearing not only inside buildings, stores and restaurants but in all public spaces including sidewalks, parks and even on the chairlifts. Good for them.

    Colorado, with a population of 5.5 million ranks 35th in the states for virus cases currently at 52,000 as of this writing.

    Aspen Colorado
    Mask up in Aspen

    We explored the small town of Carbondale, visited the weekly farmers market, and did several morning runs along the Crystal Creek trail, an old railroad bed trail about six miles long.

    We loved the tiny and historic town of Basalt, the cutest town I think of all we saw. It was really lively with street performers and lots of visitors, but still easy to social distance. We had an outstanding meal at Temparnillo. I highly recommend it.

    Temparnillo Basalt Colorado
    Fantastic meal at Temparnillo

    We did a steep hike called Sunnyside, just outside of Aspen and boy did I feel the elevation. Starting at 7000 feet and climbing to 9500 I was breathing hard. But the views…wow. So the next day we did a long but flat 8 mile hike on the Rio Grand trail, a paved trail popular with cyclists that runs through the valley from Aspen to Glenwood Springs about 42 miles. It was a great way to exercise without the elevation gain.

    Rio Grand Trail Colorado
    Rio Grand Trail Aspen Valley

    We squeezed in nine holes at the River Valley Ranch Golf Course on a really hot day, but we enjoyed getting to play despite the smoke billowing in the distance.

    River Valley Ranch golf course
    River Valley Ranch with the fire in the distance

    We really loved staying at the Cedar Ridge Ranch and having the horses, cows, alpacas and chickens as our neighbors. We saw coyote, ground hogs, deer and wild turkeys. Cedar Ridge offers horse rides, farm tours, yoga and even arts and crafts. Next time we will stay longer, because our four nights zoomed by. Road Tripping Colorado USA was made perfect down on the ranch.

    Alpaca
    Cute Alpacas at Cedar Ridge Ranch

    As we left the fire continued to burn, and even two weeks later as I write this blog the Grizzly Canyon fire continues to burn. Interstate 70 has just reopened though, luckily for all the businesses and residents. Our thoughts and prayers are with all we met and everyone in beautiful Colorado.

    Cedar Ridge Ranch
    Cedar Ridge Ranch at dusk

    Hope you enjoyed Road Tripping Colorado USA. Next week we visit Oregon.

    Read about the fires here.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog. Thank you.

    At Home  --  North America Travel

    Road Tripping Idaho USA

    Part One of a Three Part Road Tripping Series

    Location: McCall & Sun Valley Idaho, USA

    Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Idaho USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the first installment of three part series of our road trip adventures.

    Hiking in Idaho
    Hiking was at the top of our list for our road trip activities

    Road Warriors

    I should start by telling those of you who don’t know, that we have visited all fifty states. Yes, in addition to the 110 countries we have visited we can also claim to have visited all fifty states. Admittedly I am a bit of an overachiever (insert eye roll).

    But point of clarification – the way we accomplished this momentous task is by…wait for it…ROAD TRIPPING! Yep, it’s really the only way to visit all 50 states, and over the past twenty-eight years we have traversed the entire country on six separate road trips. Our first road trip was in 1992 when we drove from Washington State to Washington DC. So our Road tripping Idaho USA begins our sixth USA road trip.

    Idaho Deer
    Rural Idaho offers a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities

    Road Tripping in the Time of The “C” Word

    That inconvenient virus has made every aspect of our lives a struggle, including a summer road trip. We planned a socially distanced itinerary and were able to pull it off by planning ahead, traveling with cleaning supplies and wearing our masks. We spent multiple days in Idaho, Colorado and Oregon.

    Way to go Idaho

    Given that Idaho is the neighbor to my home state of Washington you’d think I would have spent more time there. But not so much. I’ve visited the panhandle multiple times, and the city of Boise, but on this trip I really wanted to see more of the mountains in the south so that’s what we set out to do.

    Reflexion in Lake
    Beautiful Twin Lakes, a four mile easy round trip hike in McCall

    We drove our first day to Spokane, still in Washington State but right on the border with Idaho. We spent a fun evening with my husband’s brother and his wife, before making an early morning escape under the cover of darkness. Today’s drive was about six hours to McCall Idaho (crossing into Mountain time zone), home to Payette Lake, Brundage Mountain and beautiful scenery.

    We spent our first day in McCall enjoying the company of dear old friends who have retired to this gorgeous area. It’s not hard to see why they would choose it. Everything you might want is here; hot dry summers, cold dry winters, hiking, biking, boating, skiing, great dining and beer. Wow.

    Wildflowers in Idaho
    Abundant wildflowers at Twin Lakes

    Day two in McCall we did two easy hikes. First we hiked to Twin Lakes, an easy four mile round trip suitable for just about anyone. It was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. We had gotten an early start and found the trail and the lake deserted, except for a lone fisherman…perfect. The views were like a postcard…actually better!

    Next we went to the Brundage Ski Area very popular in the summer for mountain bikers. We had a delicious lunch (socially distanced outdoors) on the deck of the lodge before riding the chair lift ($15) up to the top of the mountain. Here we could see all the way back to McCall and Payette Lake and well beyond. The chair lift ticket includes a round trip, but we hiked the 4 mile cat track back down to the lodge, enjoying a wide variety of wildflowers and bird life, and only a handful of other people.

    Chair lift at Brundage
    Masked up for the chairlift ride at Brundage Ski Area

    We spent our two nights in McCall in a tiny little cabin a block from the lake. Teeny kitchen and bath, a comfy bed and a fireplace make this place cozy and perfect for a few days winter or summer. We also enjoyed sitting around the campfire in the evening. See it here.

    Payette Lake
    Payette Lake is a dream for boating and water sports

    Day four we exited early, heading south to the famous Sun Valley region. We had never visited Sun Valley and it had been on my list for a long time. Sun Valley is made up of several towns, and several ski areas. The best known town is Ketchum. We stayed in Hailey, about five miles outside of Ketchum (another peaceful and exceptionally well kept Airbnb. See it here).

    Sun Valley Ski Resort view
    You can see forever from the top of Sun Valley Ski Resort

    Our first day in the valley we took the gondola at Sun Valley Ski Resort up to the top of the mountain ($25). The weather was clear and warm and you could see for a hundred miles. We had an outdoor socially distanced meal at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum and explored some of the local microbrews.

    Ketchum Idaho
    A great view from the outdoor patio at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum

    Day two in the valley I enjoyed a long morning run on the Wood River trail that runs for 15+ miles all along the valley. Next we took a short hike on a nature trail near our Airbnb along the Wood River. We finished our day playing nine holes of golf at the beautiful Elk Horn Golf Course. Sun Valley is peppered with golf courses…wish we had been able to check out a few more – next time!

    Elk Horn Golf
    A beautiful golf course, Elk Horn in Sun Valley

    Feeling Safe in Idaho

    Idaho has a population of 1.75 million and ranks 35th in the USA for virus infections with just over 28,000 (Source Statista as of August 19th). In both McCall and the Sun Valley area we found people wearing masks in all stores and restaurants and many people wearing masks on the sidewalks in town. Idaho was dead last in the USA for cases until mid-June when virus cases began to rise.

    Sawtooth Mountains
    Mountains Majesty – the Sawtooth Mountains

    We made a point to keep distanced, choose activities where we could easily stay away from crowds, and we enjoyed our road trip in Idaho. It really is an underrated gem in the United States. Now I want to go back in the winter. Road tripping Idaho USA filled our goals.

    Join us next week for our Colorado installment of Road Tripping USA.

    See our road trip to Montana from Summer 2019.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog.