A vanishing earthly heaven crested the mountain as our bus rambled along the pot-hole strewn roads. We were heading toward the last remaining cloud forests on the planet. A unique biosphere or constant moisture that helped coin the term for the area, Monteverde, or Green Mountain. We didn’t quite know what to expect but wish we would have known the variety of things to do in the Monteverde Cloud Forest before we visited. It is listed (by Costa Ricans) as one of their own seven natural wonders, in their country. It is the jewel in the crown of cloud forests, according to National Geographic. To be honest, I didn’t know if it was worth the money to see this rain forest, as I had already hacked my way through the jungles of Jamaica – how wrong I was to even slightly compare the two.
Initially, the area was owned and operated by environmentally conservative Quakers for their dairy farms and cheese production in the 1950’s. In 1972, with the help of several international groups and organizations, more land was purchased, and by the end of that year was officially named a protected area and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Of all the rain forests in the world, only 1% can officially be classified as a cloud forest, as it takes the right atmospheric conditions to allow for a consistent cover of clouds.
Our guide explained what it was like to live in Costa Rica, to have all the beautiful nature surrounding you – and to take pride in caring for it. Yet climate change was causing an uphill battle for the locals in preserving their beloved cloud forest. He fears that soon the cloud forest will disappear and dry up completely, taking with it, the rare species and incredibly biodiversity of plants and epiphytes that existed there.
It made me incredibly sad to think of this international wonder disappearing, because of our carbon footprint on the world. It made me more resolute in my efforts to not only educate myself on responsible tourism but to share discoveries like this with the Culture Trekking Community. We have more power, and influence than we can even imagine.
Drink Coffee, Eat Ice Cream, and Local Cuisine
Our tour guide took us to a cafe near the start of our guided hike, where we were able to try ice cream just like the Quakers would have made it. We were also able to pick out different selections of meat, and local cuisine along with the world-famous Costa Rican Coffee.
The coffee smelled better and was far more potent than anything I had tried in the USA. It was even better than the espresso from Morocco I grew to love. This is the place to drink coffee like a King, and it is a great way to warm up and give you a little pep in your step for the hike.
Visit A Nearby Coffee Farm
You haven’t had good coffee until you have had Costa Rican Coffee. This is a major source of pride for locals. There are plantation tours, tastings, and even opportunities for you to make your own cup of coffee. Just be prepared to get the shakes after you drink it, even a small cup is quite strong.
Begin with the cocoa bean, roast it, and grind it. Last, learn how to extract sugar cane juice into a delicious glass of juice the old-fashioned way. Tasting is encouraged throughout the tour!
Hiking Through Monteverde Cloud Forest
Having a naturalist guide with us, gave us insight into the plants, ability to spot animals we wouldn’t have seen before, and even keep us safe from some that were deadly yet so cute.
Hiking through the small spot of the nearly 35,089 acres of land, with eight life zones, 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 1,200 species of amphibians was a phenomenal experience. We learned that this particular cloud forest was one of the few remaining habitats that is able to fully support all six species of cats including jaguars, ocelots, pumas, oncillas, margays, and jaguarundis. If you are able to take a whole week to hike the 8 miles (13km) of trails you might spot the endangered three-wattled bellbird and the Quetzal.
Go Bird Watching in Monteverde
The Quetzal is a bird unique in the cloud forests of Central America and survives in higher numbers here in Monteverde compared to the other two nearby rainforests. It is a bird of stunning brilliant colors for feathers, has a very shy disposition and is frequently spotted if you go on a birding tour in Monteverde Cloud Forest. Some argue that the Curi Cancha Reserve is the best place to guarantee seeing these birds, but I prefer to see them in a natural environment – the hunting for that perfect shot is so rewarding.
If you miss your chance to see one, then I would head over to Curi Cancha where you can also get a glimpse of toucans, hummingbirds and many other birds. Be sure to take some good binoculars with you!
Trekker Travel Tip: If you put your Iphone up to the opening of the binoculars, you can take photos of the animals up close without a fancy camera. If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen right!?!?
Walk the Suspension Bridges in the Clouds
With all the trails and changes in elevation, suspension bridges were built in the Monteverde Cloud forest to help visitors explore this wanderful ecosystem. With some of the larger bridges being up to 800 feet long and 2400 feet in altitude (240 meters to 730 meters).
Walking along these bridges feels like something out of Indiana Jones, or like they are the pathway to heaven themselves. The clouds mist over, through and around the cables like a wave of air, engulfing the bridge in myst and mystery.
It is pretty surreal to stand on one of these, be surrounded by this protected land – yet also sad knowing that not everyone in the generations beyond me will be able to experience this.
Plants and the Culture Of Costa Rica
Because of the unique climate here, the plants are just as unique. In fact, there are over 1,000 different kinds of orchids in Costa Rica. The plants and wildlife are nearly worshiped by the local people. They are painted on their buildings, can be found represented in every souvenir shop, and even in their classes and customs.
The hibiscus, in particular, was often, and still sometimes is – worn as a signal to those in the community of your marital status. If you wear it tucked behind the right ear, you are indicating you are single. If you wear the hibiscus tucked behind the left ear, then you are indicating you are married.
Go to the Hummingbird Refuge
These hummingbirds aren’t caged but know where their food supply source comes from. There are Hummingbird feeders, about 20 of them, placed on metal trees in a small area that has been slightly cleared of trees for better viewing. This discourages predators from taking advantage of the Hummingbird watering hole and allows visitors to witness several different species whisk and flitter in and out of the small refuge.
If you go in a group to the refuge, I would suggest standing a little way away from the crowd – disperse your group so it isn’t so concentrated. This allows the birds to not feel so shy or threatened by those coming so close to their source of food.
This beautiful garden of transformed caterpillars was like walking into my inner child’s dream. It is hard to keep your eyes on where the butterflies were going, where they were coming from, and how best to avoid other people from scaring them away.
These butterflies are quite shy, they fly away at any sudden movement, loud sounds, or a small wisp of air. So I suggest picking a spot, wearing a shirt with brightly colored flowers on it – and let them come to you. Have your camera ready, and just be still and enjoy the moment.
Canopy Zip-Line and Bungee Jumping
If you are really into the adrenaline rush, then take a canopy zip-line tour that takes you across the forest for over a mile of zip lines. You can also bungee jump from a 489 foot (143m) tower. Even just looking at the tower and the people jumping from it made my heart flutter a bit.
Contact 100% Aventura to book your adrenaline rush fantasies come true.
Climb Up the Giant Ficuses
If you have the time and aren’t afraid of heights, get your adrenaline pumping by climbing up the Giant Ficuses. To get a fantastic view all the way at the top of the cloud forest and perch like a bird.
There is a legend about these trees, in that many believe that the trees actually walk. The roots reach out to find any kind of sunlight, and the massive trees end up slowly moving with the roots.
As the roots move, there are some roots that die, and at times the roots take over another tree – strangling it. The tree that is strangled dies as the strangling tree takes over, basically ingesting it, leaving the center of the living ficus empty. This hollow center is what you climb up inside of, then rappel down.
There are many different animals at night than there are during the day. Take a hike with a guide in the evening and see the unique animals that most tourists miss.
Watch the Sunset
I was stunned as we drove back to our cruise ship from our shore excursion in Monteverde Cloud Forest at the sunset we were greeted with. The colors are incredible, the air is clear and it truly feels like you get a glimpse of heaven every time it sets.
What To Pack
A sweater or light jacket and long pants are essential in the cool, nearly sunless environment. Make sure you layer your clothing if you are coming from the port or the center of Puntarenas it is going to be sunny, hot and humid. As you get deeper into the cloud forest the cooler the temperatures get, so a light sweater is a good idea.
I would also make sure to bring sunscreen, as the cloud cover and cool air can be deceiving – but UV rays can still penetrate the cloud cover and cause blistering sunburns if you aren’t careful.
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How To Get There
Taxis are readily available. Ask the hotel staff to arrange a taxi for you from a reliable company.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I need a vacation from my vacation”. I hear this more and more from people who ask me how I have so much energy after traveling so much. There really isn’t a secret to it, I just know how to pace myself while traveling, listen to what my body needs, and follow a certain set of rules for when I get back no matter how tired I feel – or how heavy the post-vacation blues feels.
Leave the House Clean
There is nothing worse than coming home to a pile of laundry that you know you are just going to make worse by all your travel clothes. While it seems stressful to try and add another thing to your ‘to-do’ list before you leave – at the bare minimum do your laundry before you leave. For those of us who love watching Marie Kondo, or Mrs Hinch; I suggest making the bed, chopping those pillows, doing the dishes, and vaccuming and mopping the floors.
You will find just how refreshing it is to come home to a clean house. Trying to readjust to normal life after a vacation is almost like trying to screw your head back on straight. It is easier for me to do get my life in order and back into a routine inside a clean house.
Arrange For A Ride Before Leaving
If you don’t need a car to take you, at least make sure you know if you will need to take a Taxi, train, or bus on the way home. Think about the luggage you will have, the time of night, if the transportation methods run that late; or if you should just take that Uber home and save yourself some headache.
There are always ways to get home, just be sure to keep in mind what time you arrive back home so you don’t have to stress about it when your jet lagged and shuffling your way out to your chosen transport method in a post vacation hangover.
Good Night’s Rest
The blessed bed! There is no bed, in the whole world, that is as comfortable as my own bed, my own incredibly soft Crown Goose Bedding, my 1000 count sheets, and Zoey snuggling up next to me. This is bliss to me!
Do not under-estimate investing in your bed, it is the thing that will help you the most with the inevitable Jet-Lag. It will help you recover your scrambled brain to help you function at work, so you can save for your next trip.
I am a very light sleeper, so I have made every effort to make sure that every part, portion and piece of my bed feels like heaven. I got my tufted headboard off of Amazon, and my favorite color being blue – for it’s soft and relaxing shade contributes to a relaxed environment.
The bedding, from Crown Goose, with some of the softest material I have felt in a long time. This bedding holds up in the wash really well, so no worries when you have your puppy snuggles. I also really like how elegant it looks, almost as if I have my own hotel room at home. The fabric holds up really well when I go and chop my pillows like Mrs Hinch in the morning, with crisp clean lines, and a white that reflects the sunlight from my window. They have several colors, all which are in the comforting and relaxing shades – so be sure to check them out – I promise you won’t regret it.
The 500 thread count sheets are a must for me. I know it sounds like a bit of a Princess and the Pea at this point, but I rub my feet on the sheets to help me sleep. I also toss and turn so much I needed some sheets that would hold up. I like that they come in all shades, and really can make or break my whole bed.
The last things I would add to this section is make sure you have a darkened room at appropriate times of the day. I personally use black-out curtains, and have to have the bedroom a little cooler. Fun fact, studies show that humans sleep better when the temperature is cooler at night because our body temperature drops slightly.
I must try and ride the wave coming off the plane on auto mode, and promptly unpack. I typically will unpack immediately and at least throw all the clothes either in the wash or the hamper. That way at least it is in its proper place ready for the madness of dealing with the laundry on your day off.
I also tend to pick out an outfit for work the next day. I typically go with some dark colors, to help my inevitable dark circles look a little brighter. I will either wear a flowy dress or skirt as well, so I don’t have to suck in the gut I tend to get from eating so much while on vacation.
Exercise vs Resting
Each body is different, and so I would say – listen to what your body needs. I typical traveler can walk anywhere from six to ten miles per day. When you add that up over the course of your trip, you pretty much walk two marathons over a week long trip!
For those coming from a desk job, to suddenly walking more than you do in a month combined – give your body the rest it needs. Give yourself plenty of water, and when your ready, keep walking at least three miles a day to keep up the stamina for your next trip. Even 20 minutes per day at least four days a week is great.
For those who run five or six miles a day, well… you just pat yourself on the back and get straight back to that gym! No pain, no gain – work off those carbs you indulged in while on vacation.
Nutrition vs easy Fast Food
I know how easy it is to drive home jet lagged and just stop by the nearest fast-food joint to do ‘one less thing’. RESIST THE URGE TO DO IT! This is part of the reason I try to meal prep something the week before I leave. Then freeze part of it so I have something healthy and nutritious to come home to.
If nothing else, grab your InstaPot throw in BBQ and some Frozen chicken and you can have a hot meal in 20 minutes. Get creative! There are plenty of recipes on Pinterest that are still good after being frozen.
Now this is the step that is an absolute must! It is hard for me to remember to take care of myself after going on a trip, feeling jet lagged, and needing my precious self care time. A time where I can soak the sore muscles from the flight in the tub, take a hot shower with a bath bomb thrown onto the floor for an infusion of wonderful smells. I also need cuddle time with my dog and to let the silence reset me while I rock in my recliner.
I feel like a part of me gets extremely fatigued by all the camera work, video work, and general mass amounts of ‘new input’ it receives while on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I really love to travel the way I do, but after doing it every other week for two months – this step became increasingly important to me and the health of my friendships at home.
Take an Extra Day Off Work
The older I get the more I’m allowing myself to be ok with at least an extra day off of work. My paid time off of work is EXTREMELY precious to me, but I try and schedule my flights to give me at least one full day (or nearly full day) at home on my regularly scheduled day off, or I come home early on a Saturday instead of midnight on a Sunday. The extra cost is worth it to me, to come home earlier in the day.
Arrange for Grocery Pickup/Delivery
With Walmart, Amazon, Costco, Smiths and many other large grocery chains now offering ordering your groceries online – take advantage of this! For one thing, it helps you stay on budget which will help you save for your next trip. The second part, is that you can jump in the car, drive 5-10 minutes and just pick up the few things you will need to complete the work week and still get the rest you need.
I started doing this on my last trip, and was amazed at just how incredibly put together I felt the next morning – knowing all I had to do was go to work and come home to rest.
Purge All Your Thoughts
Writing down all the impact memories that either agitated you, or inspired you along your trip will do two things. One- It will help you release some of the emotions you may have collected along the way, and also ease the worry of not remembering your incredible journey. Two- Allows your mind to take a rest of trying to input so much information, learning, and experiences.
I also keep a small journal with me, or notepad where I take notes of buildings I visit, places to remember – costs of tickets etc…. See the things I do for my Culture Trekkers? 😉
Print Out The Photos
We live in a Digital world, and sometimes having the photos on the wall when you get that post-vacation blues can be a way to remind you of the amazing journeys you have been on.
You can make an arrangement of photos in frames, use string/cord to clip them to your wall with fairy lights. Take it a step further and make a travel book for your coffee table, or fireplace mantel that you can show friends when they come over. I think that creating something like this, along with inserting feelings/phrases like before would be
If you have ever seen The Labryinth, you know what fantastical worlds can be made up by the human mind – Goblin Valley State Park looks like it should have been part of that movie. The unique sandstone formations within the depressed valley in southern Utah are a perfect playground for young, old, and the whole family.
There are so many hoodoo’s, or mushroom shaped formations, it is hard not to feel like a child again exploring all the twists and turns. The best part is, you can take your pups with you to run a muck and get all the energy out.
Getting to Goblin Valley
There are a couple of options to get there. You can fly into Salt Lake City International Airport, explore Salt Lake City the first few nights, then take a three and half hour ride down to Southern Utah to explore Goblin Valley, Kodachrome Basin, and Moab. If you live in the States you can also fly into Grand Junction Colorado, explore that cute rural town, then Moab, and on to Goblin Valley. No matter which way you care to venture, it is going to be a gorgeous ride with open fields full of purple wild flowers in April, or Sunflowers in the Fall. You really can’t go wrong with a road trip in Utah.
What To Do In Goblin Valley
Explore the Hoodoo’s
There are so many shapes within the Hoodoo/Goblin Valley that it is hard to not have your imagination run wild. It can also be a little spooky, because of how well the rocks block sound, you can turn a corner and run into someone.
The shapes, curves, corners spur different stories in my head when I’m there. My Dad and I used to lay on the trampoline on the weekends together, looking at the different shapes of clouds, assigning an animal or a person and making up different stories to accompany those mental images. Letting those stories of goblins, ghouls and miscreants creep along the lining of your conscious curiosity makes you feel like you are a child again.
Be Careful When You Explore
Respect the Rocks in Goblin Valley
Living in Utah, with five National Parks, and a plethora of State Parks is such an incredible blessing. Growing up here though, visiting Goblin Valley State Park is a bit of a right of passage. The love the locals have for the rocks, parks, and natural space is a bit like caring for a family member in a way. So if you visit Goblin Valley, please do not deface our beautiful area that bring so much joy and families closer together.
The reason I mention this, is due to a fairly destruction of one of the Hoodoo’s that had been there for thousands of years, and was an iconic part of the park. A Scout leader, who has now been charged criminally for destruction of State land, and removed from the National Scouting league; decided to climb atop the teetering rock and video tape it. The rock toppled off it’s precarious perch, and made the national news because of how iconic it was.
Heat of the Day
Another thing I would like to warn you about in this valley is the heat. What many visitors don’t realize is Red Rock of Southern Utah absorbs heat and reflects it. So although Goblin Valley State Park may appear a balmy 90F (32.2C), when you get into the Valley or your on your hike exposed to the sun it can feel like your standing in a dry sauna with temperatures sometimes reaching up to 109F (42.8C).
It is also unique in that you typically need to pack in your own water. There are a few watering stations available at nearby camping areas, but they are a little cumbersome to get to once your in the park itself.
Little Wild Horse Canyon Hike
While not directly in Goblin Valley, this is still part of the San Rafael Swell. With some of the narrowest slot canyons in Utah, it is a great place for scrambling, and perfect introduction route for learning how to do canyoneering.
The hike begins in a parking lot, winds your way through paths toward the canyon; but spits you out into the dry river wash that you follow towards the canyon.
While we didn’t do any canyoneering due to our dogs coming along with us; it was quite comical to see them try to navigate and get past each other at different junctures.
You feel like a real explorer when walking down these canyons, and the walls are so perfectly sculpted with varying shades of red, orange and white rock it almost looks as if a butter knife had carved out the canyon. In the early spring and fall there can be standing water and small pools of water, but they are typically only ankle deep.
There are a couple of ways to do this hike, one where you just hike in to as far as you feel comfortable, and then back out. Option two is to do the full 8 mile loop with some canyoneering down bells canyon.
Please be careful during rainstorms as some of the areas along this hiking route are prone to flash flooding and people have been known to get trapped.
People have compared this lair to that of the Labyrinth as well. Where ghouls, trolls and other creatures of the dark gather at night to wreck havoc on the campers in the area. If they are caught outside the lair, this is when they turn into the knobby rocks and how Goblin Valley was made.
The hike is moderately strenuous, you do have to scramble at some points, and getting down into the lair is quite precarious. The views from the lair are quite beautiful though, with unobstructed views of the desert landscape – serene and quite with only the crows cawing. The afternoon is the best time to go so you aren’t in full sunlight on the way up.
Dark Sky Park Experience At Goblin Valley
Not only is this a great place to explore in the spring and fall, it is also considered one of the remaining dark sky parks in the world. Being from Utah, I forget how fortunate I am to experience things like this. There isn’t a night where you wouldn’t at be able to see a plethora of stars visually dancing above you. Shooting stars to make your wish, and dreams come true are quite common as well.
The sunsets are almost as pretty as when the galaxy rises, with your eyes feasting on a spectrum of colors from dusk until dawn. I suggest planning your trip to when the moon will be either a sliver, or absent as this is when you can truly see the universe in all it’s grandeur.
My favorite thing was to sit on the floor of the Goblin Valley, snuggling with my dogs, taking photos of the sunset with the hoodoos giving a perfect silhouette. Then as the sun was tucked behind the mountains for the night, the start slowly emerged….we stayed there until we all started shivering and then headed back to camp – where there were even more wonderful photo opportunities with nearby crackling fires.
It truly was a perfect way to end the night, feeling small but happy enveloped into a perfect slumber knowing that we just witnessed something not many people in this age of technology truly get to appreciate anymore.
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Where to Stay Near Goblin Valley State Park
There is plenty of BLM Land near Goblin Valley that you can set up a remote camp site. I would definitely recommend four wheel drive, as well as some sturdy tent stakes. The wind in the area can get quite strong, and I’ve had the lovely experience of chasing a tent across the desert landscape in the past.
This post may contain affiliate links, for more information read our full disclosure The travel industry is throwing around this term: Responsible Tourism or Sustainable Tourism. So what does Responsible Tourism mean? Each year we travel, consume, photograph and share on our social media channels, exposing friends and family to expand their knowledge of the cultures of the world.
Responsible Tourism is a multifaceted approach, which includes:
Minimizing negative social, economic and environmental impacts while traveling
Generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the well-being of host communities
Improving working conditions and access to the worldwide industry
Involving local people in decisions, markets, and trade that affect their life and chances at life.
Making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, embracing the diversity.
Providing more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
Provides access for physically challenged people
Is being culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.
There are many different ways that this can be addressed and focused on. The Culture Trekking Community is one that focuses on numbers one, five, six and eight. Creating a community where ideas, religions, cultural idiosyncrasies are both shared, respected and embraced. As the Community grows I want to improve awareness on environmental impacts as well as fight the uphill battle of having more meaningful human connections. Today I will focus on the latter.
Where the idea started for my own Responsible Tourism:
The video was quite graphic when I saw this 2 years ago, but it really impacted me in so many different ways. The moral of the story is…..you don’t know what you don’t know until you educate yourself on how small choices like using single-use straws can impact the environment. I now carry a reusable metal straw in my purse at all times. This video is where responsible tourism started for me….watching this turtle in so much pain made me feel like I needed to do more for the environment.
It isn’t just the plastic straws, it is garbage that is left strewn about in all the different places that I visit. I remember walking behind someone in Yellowstone National park…..they dropped a wrapper on the ground (a large one). I was so frustrated by this because they had a bag they could have easily slipped that wrapper into. I picked it up and gave it back to the tourist, who naturally acted like they dropped it by accident (even though I watched them look around before dropping it). It is not that hard to slip those wrappers into a pocket, a bag, in your shoe….anything but on the ground. Taking a few more steps to ensure your rubbish gets into the proper receptacle is not as hard as you think…..as Nike says ‘JUST DO IT’!
Another video that truly impacted me was one man in India, who returned to his home to find the beach he loved filled with garbage. He knew he had to do something so he started knocking on doors and aims to be that change he wishes to see in the world. Take a look at the video & then I want to think about how much of a difference we could make if each of us committed to picking up 3 pieces of trash wherever we travel to. What about taking an extra garbage bag on a local hike in your hometown? We could all use a few more squats in our day, right?
Why am I showing you all these videos? A picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say), but I feel that videos are the way to make an impact that can create change. What is better than a video? Visiting a place like the Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon (several displays are located throughout the United States, see the Washed Ashore Exhibit Locations for more information) can both teach our generation and the generations below us how to protect our earth and save our oceans.
Traveling can be an exotic thing full to the brim with activities that will make your friends envy your life & maybe even despise you a little. The more I travel the more I realize that I want to make a difference in the world, no matter how small it is. Ecotourism and Volunteering for cleanups and service can help connect our communities, open minds and hearts, and help start the change we wish to see in the world.
Supporting Companies with good causes:
Save the Baby Turtles!
A Blogger friend of mine in Fort Lauderdale Florida was able to participate in the nighttime protection of hatching baby turtles. These baby turtles get confused by the city lights and instead of going into the ocean (following the moon), they follow the city lights. This leads them to be run over or crushed by bikes, cars or fall into holes they cannot get out of. What these volunteers do is once the baby turtles hit their 10-foot periphery line, they gather them up in a bucket and take all the confused little fellas to the ocean where they set them free. They also move beach chairs and sandcastles to allow for the mothers to come to the beach easier and lay their eggs. Check out her post on Saving Baby Sea Turtles and how you can help or participate!
Soul Flower Clothing Company
As soon as I found this clothing company, I know I had found my tribe. Just look at their tagline:
Soul Flower is a natural clothing brand for kind souls and free spirits. Mindfully made with natural fibers and heartfelt art, we design our threads with kind vibes from start to finish. We seek inspiration in the simplicity of everyday life – in nature and in music, in free-spirited adventures and in like-minded souls. We create clothing in a way that supports our planet, spreads a positive message, and most importantly — helps you express yourself.”
To all my big headed ladies out there (I’m talking literal, not egotistical) – this is the place you should get your headbands! Every time I wear these headbands I feel a little better about myself, I read the inspirational message printed on it and cannot help but feel inspired to finish out the day with a bang! Plus, let’s be honest, sometimes a girl just needs a headband to decrease the stress of doin’ da hur….ya feel me? To get your headband:
The other items I have personally tried and fallen in love with so far are the yoga pants and shirts. If I’m being honest, I wear the pants EVERYWHERE! Not just because the pants are comfortable, but because they have the most adorable prints on them that inspire me to continue to be Eco-friendly in my day to day life & inspire me to live a simpler life to help have less of an impact on the environment. I wore the shirt for two days in a row people! I know that’s gross but it has been so hot over here, and it is so light, airy and cute with the little leaves on it… I couldn’t resist
Personal Note: It is sooooo hard to find cute and comfortable clothing as a curvy woman — so to find a company that caters to my desire to be eco-friendly and embraces those of all shapes and sizes really just gives me warm fuzzies and I want to shout out from the rooftops how much I appreciate and love them for this.
You don’t just have to participate in environmentally friendly activities at destinations you visit. You can start being environmentally friendly to companies just like Soul Flower. Check out Soul Flower Summer Specials today!
Other Ways to be a Responsible Tourist:
Be Respectful of Religions and Cultures:
Look at local customs and rules when entering churches across the world. Do not make derogatory jokes or compare those within the country to something you deem as ‘more sensible’ or ‘better practices’. Do not impose your beliefs on those within the country unless prompted to. Respect the cultural idiosyncrasies of what is considered ‘normal’ for that country.
The bottom line is, just because something, someone, or a country as a whole does something different than what you know to be normal — doesn’t mean that it is wrong. There are some exceptions where it endangers basic human rights, practices, or harms/mutilates any animal or human being (obviously). Even if you do see something wrong, intervening as a tourist could land you in jail – be careful, be cautious and if you have a concern about the country/destination use a guide that you can ask questions about what is appropriate or if you can do something/intervene without landing yourself in jail.
Be Respectful of Shop Owners Overseas:
Do not take photos of products, items, or anything in different countries that could affect their livelihood. Do not get offended if they ask you not to take photos, there is a reason! Unnamed countries citizens will visit these economically struggling countries and take photos of their products and produce them at a fraction of the cost, but they are not authentic products.
Moroccans, for example, rely on their skill and artistry of furniture, clothing, architecture, woodworking to profit from their craft and provide for their families. How many times have you visited a country and thought, ‘Oh I can get that back in my own country, I don’t need to buy it here’. This is why it is so important….so many countries rely on tourism and the money it brings in to put food on the table. So please….before you take a photo in a store, ASK the owner if it is ok.
Be Aware and Educate Yourself on Regional Issues:
Human trafficking, terrorism, and so many more unsavory things happen in this world. I have too much of a tender heart to focus in on the negative all the time, so rarely listen to the news – but I do search for those individuals who have the capacity to handle situations such as this. I support them, I share their stories and donate when I’m able to.
It is important to be sensitive to cultural and religious practices (as part of Responsible Tourism) that help to positively define a culture, but that never means we should tolerate those who continually violate the basic human rights of food, safety, and shelter.
With having experienced Rape and sexual assault myself, the topic of sex trafficking is a very passionate topic for me. Operation Underground Railroad is a team of individuals of highly specialized individuals who have years of experience in special forces, law enforcement working proactively since 2013 with local governments that I wholeheartedly support. This is a video that had me in tears for how grateful I was to the men & women who do this. Please support them in whatever way that you can…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_CgQcNkUlw&feature=youtu.be If you would like to Donate to O.U.R. please feel free to do so, if you are unable to donate, then try and Volunteer for O.U.R. to help aid in their efforts.
Small changes can make a big difference:
Wear environmentally friendly products:
Keep any soap while camping at any location away from runoff areas (at least 100 feet).
Bury or pack out your human waste. Look at the requirements for each camping spot you visit for their rules and regulations.
Wear environmentally and Ocean friendly sunscreen as this often washes off the ocean, causing damage to coral and marine life.
Bringing your own straws, skip the straw at Starbucks. If this doesn’t make sense, please keep watching the video of the Turtle above until it does.
Get a recycling bin or start a recycling group in your neighborhood. (More information below on recycling that could be available in your country).
Make a list of low-cost companies that produce Biodegradable Products and keep a list. Hand the list out to anyone who uses straws, show they alternatives. Don’t force it down their throat — educate with KINDNESS! Honey works better than vinegar when trying to entice people to change their daily habits or companies to change the status quo.
Utilize the Reusable Grocery Bags:
This is such a simple change that we can all do (especially those of us in the States). In most other countries they are charging for the plastic bags, yet when we implement it here to try and help support the environment….everyone loses their minds! They tried to do this when I lived in Texas and I would stand there and see with my own eyes, these grocery baggers get verbally assaulted for doing their job and charging for the plastic bags. Come on people…..be better than that……do better than that…….realize that this isn’t just about YOU and YOUR needs, but for the betterment of humanity and animals. If you still aren’t convinced that plastic bags are a big deal, watch this video of the whale found dead with hundreds of pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. If that doesn’t convince you, well…..I don’t know how to help you become a better human being.
I need some advice myself on this one….grrrhhh….. I have all the reusable bags I can handle. I start daydreaming on the way to the grocery store, then out of habit, forget to take the reusable grocery bags I brought off the garage wall where I put them so I wouldn’t forget them. If you have some advice on how to remember these things…..let a girl know in the comments below.
A Call to Action for Responsible Tourism:
Here is a great resource if you would like to participate in Ecotourism on your next trip: Ecotourism.org
Straws:The Last Plastic Straw is a great website for a list of all the different types of straws, where to get them and how they are better than the plastic straws. There is also a site completely dedicated to Living a life without plastic, this is where I get my reusable metal straws (bamboo and glass is also available).
Home, Pets, Cleaning supplies and more:Life Without Plastic gives you so many bamboo or steel options that can replace many of the household items that have or contain plastic. Gift certificates, gift registry, and points program are also available on this site to help you invite friends to the #noplastic movement.
Recycling throughout the world: Recycling in the States (contact your city councils to arrange this), Recycling in Australia, Recycling in Canada, Curbside Recycling available in New Zealand please check your local city councils, Recycling is also available in the United Kingdom for each household (mandatory supply of bins from government), Spain also has recycling available in some areas, and the Netherlands actually pays you to bring in your recyclable materials (typically at grocery stores).
IF YOU HAVE RECYCLING IN YOUR COUNTRY AND IT IS NOT LISTED HERE, PLEASE LIST THE RESOURCE OR WHO TO CONTACT BELOW 🙂
A Must Read Plastic Free Blogger: If you are like me and feel a little overwhelmed by how many things in your home contain plastic, visit Beth Terry: My Plastic Free Life Blogger. She will teach you, take you step by step through the process and show you how to live a plastic-free life.
Worldwide Plastic Pollution Coalition – Now NO ONE has an excuse to not participate in reducing their plastic use. This is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution.
How To Tour Responsibly:
We have such a duty to protect creatures who outlived the dinosaurs, are essential to our planet’s ecosystem – the Sea Turtles. We don’t have to start being Eco-friendly or participate in Responsible Tourism practices only when we are traveling. Get involved in the activities now, one goal or plastic straw at a time.
Be respectful of religions, people, cultures, and races as long as they do not infringe on basic human rights to live life peacefully, safely without fear of bodily harm and can provide for basic human needs of shelter, food, and water.
Get involved in volunteer programs locally where you can help end human trafficking, gang violence, opioid epidemics, and so much more. There seems to be an Instagram hashtag or Facebook group for everything these days. If you have any suggestions for local groups you are passionate about, please let it in the comments below with a link to their site. Teach those around you, share the information on your social media platforms….it just takes one rock in a pond to start a ripple that turns into a wave. Be that change you wish to see in the world.
How do you like to contribute to Responsible Tourism?
What is the most important thing to you regarding Responsible Tourism?
The Night I Thought Would Be My Last My first backpacking trip was an exciting prospect, but little did I know what a disaster it would turn out to be. It was November, and I was turning 30 years old & I had decided I was going to do something unique for my birthday. My roommate, Lo, a camping/100K/rugby superstar invited me to not only backpack but snow-shoe in winter up the mountaineering route on the second highest peak in the United States……Mount Whitney.
For the record, I have never been backpacking prior to this, I have never been snow-shoeing, I have never carried so much weight for so long on my back in my life. I had just received 2 steroid injections in my feet for Plantar Fasciitis. I was afraid of not being invited again, so I said, “OH! Really!?! That would be so fun!”
As the trip got closer I became anxious about what exactly I was to pack. I knew Lo would know what to pack, but I was embarrassed to ask for details — so I did what I do best…. ignored my problems and made it up as I went. I did a little research online and became even more terrified as the information I found warned me of people having to be flown off the mountain for medical emergencies. Great……I was likely going to die on my birthday.
The day of the trip came, I didn’t weigh my pack, didn’t check to make sure the batteries were in the navigation device….but I set out on the trip anyway. We drove to California where we stayed with Lo’s family, picked up her cousin (a military man). Then we headed on over to Lone Pine where Mt Whitney awaited us, a 14,505-foot peak, with an elevation gain of 6,500 feet over 11 miles on the Mountaineers’ route.
I was tasked with carrying the climbing rope, and we had to park quite a ways down the road and hike in because of rock slides and snow. The road was still fairly steep and by the time we got to the trailhead, we were all sweating to the point you could see the salt in our sweat. I had brought some music with me but was told that it was a cardinal rule when hiking with them that you should not listen to music. At this point is when I realized I may not have the mental nerves of steel to do this without music. Not wanting to appear like a pansy princess I continued to trudge forward.
At the trailhead, we put our snow-shoes and I felt the real challenge start. I was hot, heavy, red as a beet from sweating with huge metal/plastic things on my feet that I didn’t even know if they would work or how to hold my poles. I said a little prayer that I wouldn’t look stupid and started down the trail after Lo and her Cousin. The snow was powdery and soft & three feet deep (at least). I was just so glad there weren’t many people on the trail because there would be fewer people to make a fool of myself in front of.
It started to get hard for me about 20 minutes past the trailhead and I was sure to bring Cliff bars and had the water in my pack to slurp on. I was still dripping sweat and my hands were really cold. All I could think of while I was walking was, ‘I’m not even to the hard part yet and I already want to turn around, come on Janiel you are stronger than this. You need to get a good song in your head and just keep singing’. The only song that really worked was a rap song, ‘one step, come on two step come on‘ . I hate rap but somehow it kept me going up all those switchbacks.
Lo and her Cousin were blazing the trail & would switch off with creating steps up and down the snowbanks. They were always ahead of me or waiting for me & think I said sorry about 7,000 times. I knew if I didn’t pace myself that there was no way I was going to make it up the mountain and more importantly back down it. I would be too afraid of getting lost if I turned around at this point, because like a greenie knucklehead I forgot batteries for the GPS. I had no choice but to keep going & fought through the mental blocks.
I could tell they were thinking something every time I would catch up to them — but maybe it was my own anxiety and insecurities telling me that. The sun started to set and all the moisture from sweating and falling into the snow had seeped into my clothes started to make me quite cold. My water was frozen so I couldn’t drink any more water, I turned to eating the snow to at least get some moisture in my mouth. The further up we went the dizzier I became. I knew this symptom was a touch of altitude sickness combined with my asthma, but I refused to be any more of a weak link than I already felt like I was.
At one point I caught up with them, and Lo’s cousin took one look at me and said, ‘come here a second’. I crossed the stream we were at and he pulled off my glove and panic set in a little bit when I realized the tips of my fingers were turning blue down to the first knuckle. I am a Physician Assistant and knew subconsciously what it was. I wasn’t thinking so clearly and all I could say in the panic was, ‘Why are my fingers turning blue?!?’ He immediately took both of my gloves off, shoved them in his pockets, took his warm gloves and put them on my hands. I think that is the point I started to develop a bit of a crush on this man. (I love a good Mountain Man, military trained tough nugget.)
We ate a little bit, refilled my water with non-frozen water and then kept walking and they stayed close to me after that, putting me in the middle of them. I knew I was slow, and could tell they were frustrated…..but what could I do? I knew I was trying as hard as I could, but this was my first trip doing any of this! Lo stayed quite and her cousin just told us stories and kept us laughing at least. We came to a really tough spot where we had to really try and get over this ‘hump’ in the snow — we all got over it and her cousin went ahead of me.
As soon as I got up he started talking and walking again, became a little off balance and stepped to the side & all I saw was his hiking poles going overhead and heard a large ‘THUNK’ sound. He had fallen into a hole where he was stepping on his snowshoes, had to take his pack off & was literally over his head in a snow bank. Lo and I were laughing so hard we couldn’t even help him out of the snow pit he had fallen into, which brought on more frustration from him. He was a great sport the whole time. I was glad he was there to offset my mood of feeling pitifully slow and weak.
We came to an area they thought would be good to put the tent down. I had never been snow camping and felt so out of sorts in what I was supposed to do to help. I admit that I stood there, soaking it all in and trying to put as much as I could in my memory for if I ever did this again. In doing that I feel like I looked bad, as in lazy…. they asked if I wanted to help get the tent set up and I came out of my mental processing phase and said ‘oh yeah, sure! Sorry about that – what can I do?’. We got the tent set up and then hurriedly got into the tent and made some dinner that we all shared like we were starving animals….it was our Thanksgiving dinner of freeze-dried spaghetti and meatballs, mixed with the water we boiled & a pumpkin pie Cliff bar.
We all changed out of our wet, sweaty clothing and snuggled into our sleeping bags. I didn’t realize that I had inadvertently grabbed the 15-degree sleeping bag instead of the negative 15-degree sleeping bag. Once I laid down, I started to shiver hoping that I would get warm from the shivering. The ground was cold, there was condensation from our breath in the tent, the warmth of making dinner in the tent started to dissipate…..and that’s when I really started to shiver.
I’m not talking about the kind of shivering you get when you go sledding at night. I’m talking about the kind of shivering that makes you wonder if you are actually shivering, or if you are having seizures. I couldn’t stop, my adrenalin & panic kicked in – I was afraid to go asleep. I think Lo became a little worried and asked if I wanted to use her emergency blanket, I really appreciated the gesture and took her up on the offer. It wasn’t enough though, my body just couldn’t recover from being so cold.
I pulled out the coat I had been wearing, put every piece of clothing I had on, opened up a pair of hand warmers I luckily brought and put them on my feet, my femoral arteries and my armpits- then squished into my sleeping bag like I was slipping into a condom & began to pray for forgiveness for all my sins. I told God that if he let me live through this night that I would be better and do better. I think at one point I cried a little when the convulsions finally started to slow down a little and I could feel my chest start to become a little warmer. Over the next 2 hours, it spread to my shoulders and hips. I don’t think I ever truly became ‘warm’, as long as my core body was warm – I felt like I wasn’t going to die from Hypothermia.
I think I was able to sleep around 3-4 hours that night (if I’m being generous). We awoke early the next day and started to pack up camp again. I felt like the Tin man from Wizard of Oz that hadn’t been oiled in 500 years but refused to complain. After breakfast they had me use my ice ax for the first time. I snowshoed up the hill above us a little bit and trialed that out & ended up burying the tent with snow….just bloody perfect. Let’s just put my rookie mountaineering mistakes on my ‘idiot’ tab for this trip (insert frustrated groan). I seriously considered calling myself the Bridget Jones of Yosemite. We unburied the tent and headed up the hill again, it was so steep we ended up having to do about 20 switchbacks just to get up this one hill.
We made it to a juncture that required her cousin to blaze the trail on the edge of an icy cliff…ON HIS KNEES. I’m not kidding people, he was crawling on his knees with his ice ax. There was a sheer drop off into the huge pine trees and jagged ice below.
My heart just started racing even writing this…. I was the next one to go along this real-life video game from Hell. I tried to swallow my emotions down, but it came bubbling out as I turned around to Lo and said, ‘Lo……I’M SCARED!’ she looked at me dead on and said, ‘Well, GO!’ I remember thinking, ‘God, please don’t let me die! After making it through last night I feel like this should not be the way I should die’.
I fought the shifting snow with my snow-shoes and got onto my knees trying to figure out how to hold my ice-ax properly without stabbing myself in the heart should I fall. About 15 feet along this ridge, I hear her cousin say something loudly. I stopped and looked ahead and couldn’t see much, but heard him yell, ‘Hey Lo, I don’t think we can go this way’. You could feel the disappointment behind me when she said, ‘Really?’. He responded emphatically, ‘Yeah, this is making me nervous & it gets really shifty up here’. I found out later that he had to use his ice ax so that he wouldn’t go sliding down the sheer drop off and it scared him a little to have us get in the same situation. I poker-faced my relief at having to turn back and not use this terrifying path.
We headed back to our last fork in the planned route and after Lo and her cousin talked they realized that there was just no way up the mountain at this point in the year. They tried to go another route and her cousin just ended up getting stuck in the brush and she had to help him out of it. The decision was then made to head back down the mountain as it had defeated us with the icy conditions and depth of the snow. I could see the disappointment in both of their faces, and truly felt bad because I felt like I had ruined their dream of mountaineering Mt Whitney in the Wintertime.
Heading back into town and had some good laughs along the way when Lo tried to ski down on her butt and her snowshoes ended up catching an edge, the momentum lifted her up whitewashing her face first in the snow. The weight of the backpack was so heavy it was pinning her down, which I didn’t realize, and she came up gasping. Besides the negative self-talk that plagued me on this particular adventure. I have to say this was BY FAR, the most adventurous birthday I have ever had. I especially loved the surprise blueberry pie protein bar Lo had brought for me for my Birthday. I honestly think God saved me on this trip.
In the end, I still felt like I was the weak link on this Mount Whitney hike and was determined to prove myself again. It took a whole year to be invited somewhere again, but I still feel like I’m one tough broad and did a dang good job of persevering despite the complexity & difficulty of this particular venture.
So what is my message to all those out there that it is your first time backpacking? BE KIND TO YOURSELF! If it is hard, keep going, but know your limitations, ask questions, communicate and make sure you choose people to go with who are patient, kind and good-humored should you fail.
Make your first time backpacking an easy summer, spring, or fall so you can get used to the weight of your pack & train your leg muscles to work that hard (especially your calves). Remember to have fun, and take your time when backpacking – it doesn’t matter how quickly you go, or how fast you make it to the top. You are in nature, to enjoy nature and the peace that comes from being away from the rat race of life.
As Always…Happy Travels, Happy Tales and See You on the Flip Side.
Not many people know where Crescent City is, likely because of the nearby Redwood Forest that frequently overshadows this quaint town. Yet for those who don’t want to spend the entire time in the Redwood forest, here are a few tips on what to do in Crescent City California. I have also included the best Redwood Groves, and tips for visiting.
Battery Point Lighthouse:
Built in 1856 with 22 inch thick slabs of granite, this lighthouse is only accessible at low tide. The beach near this area is quite small but full of agates that locals come to regularly collect and make into jewelry. If you look to the right, there is a house nearby that has a comical yard piece that made me laugh til I cried…..the one and only, Harry the Henderson.
Beaches near Crescent City:
South Beach is the first beach you will come to when heading North up through California. This is a very popular beach in winter and summer. Here you will find some of the best tide pools near Crescent City, and if you are lucky you may see the annual Noll Longboard Classic Surf Contest.
Endert’s Beach is my favorite Beach near Crescent city. This place is a hidden gem right off of the 101 hwy, with sand dollars, sand crabs at low tide and fishing for red-tailed surf perch at high tide. There are plenty of agates, shells, and other fun gems on this beach as well. This beach is perfect for that holiday BBQ as they have picnic tables and BBQ stands every 500 feet or so. There is hardly anyone on this beach & the perfectly untouched sand stretches on for miles. We let our dogs off the leashes and let them run for miles and miles.
Simpson Reed Grove
This Redwood Grove is great for families and those with children. The path is easy and full of the gentle giant Redwood Trees that have created a natural playground. Climb over the enormous trees, hide in the center of the fallen giants, wiggle across branches that have created natural bridges.
This is the grove that is a favorite among locals due to it being right by the shoreline of a river. Here you see these massive trees and then a beautiful river running right next to it. The best time to visit is in the summer around 3-5pm during the golden sunlit hour. Be sure to bring loads of mosquito repellent as they are quite bad in the summertime.
If you are not much of an Adrenalin junkie, then you may prefer to Kayak or Tube the River by the Redwood Groves lining the shores. Take a dip in the Smith River at South Fork where the water is crystal clear and will give you a refreshing jolt to those on a road trip. Try your luck at fishing, the Smith River is the best place for salmon, trout and steelhead fishing in the whole State of California. There is also class IV-Class V white-water-rafting, snorkeling with the salmon and trout, and taking a helicopter to the only open water lighthouse open to the public….St. George Reef Lighthouse.
Trees of Mystery:
This is the slightly more commercialized area of the Redwood forest, with statues of lumberjacks and a chair lift that takes you soaring above the skyline of the forest below. This is the ideal place to go if your party or family is feeling a little run down as it has a museum, a forest café, and six different trails that everyone can enjoy.
Takes about 2 hours, has a little show with sea lions, kids get to touch the fish. The aquarium has a guided tour of the sea life touch pool, aquarium & sea lion/seal show.
Why Visit Crescent City California
When you first drive into Crescent City California, you will think you are driving into a bit of a ghost town. This is likely because most of those who do live there are out exploring the surrounding areas themselves. With so many wonderful outdoor adventures from whitewater rafting, the Redwood Groves, the Smith River, and the plentiful tide pools and ocean activities… it is hardly a ghost town. Crescent City is a town teeming with adventure waiting to be had.
As Always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side.
Bandon Oregon is steeped in native history, teeming with fisherman, and plenty of activities for the whole family. So while you are on your Oregon Coast Roadtrip, Bandon should be on your list. If you happen to visit, here is what to do in Bandon Oregon.
History of Bandon
The tribes were defeated in their resistance and relocated to the Siletz (the collective name of the 20 tribes relocated here) Reservation. This reservation is a 48-hour walk (with current road systems) from Bandon to Siletz Reservation. They were placed in an area that is 5.82 sq miles, and have gone from 10 distinct languages to one.
The Siletz language now has a talking language dictionary due to the help of National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, their language will hopefully continue to be preserved. Time went on and in 1873 George Bennette with his sons Joseph and George, along with Mr. Sealy came from Bandon Ireland to this area.
The original name of Averill is changed to Bandon a year later and the town continued to flourish. Mr. Bennette helped to both build and destroy Bandon. He brought his native grouse plant from Ireland, which you will see throughout the town. The grouse is characterized by waxy leaves and small yellow flowers in thick thickets of bushes (especially along the coastline).
The grouse plant is what started the great fire in 1936. The older folks in the town may remember the fire still, it would take years for the town to rebuild itself. Wood production, sawmills, water plants helped the town flourish, even the first Bandon Cranberry Festival took place (1947). You can still visit the Cranberry Sweets factory today and sample some of the treats and other boutique shop items. Have I piqued your interest in Bandon yet? It may look like a small town that is brand new, but this little town packs a big punch in both history and in the outdoor activities you can participate in.
Floras Lake State Park:
This hike is a lot more strenuous than it appears. You start off walking over a bridge to a beach like area. It is quite unique as there is a lake on one side and over the sandy hill is the ocean. The sand is more like small pebbles that really took a toll on my calves. The lake is a very popular place to come Kitesurfing as the wind is usually perfect for this sport.
As you walk along the edge of the lake to the forested area, I would suggest bringing water shoes so you can walk on the packed down sand near the shoreline. Once you reach the wooded area you feel like skipping down the trail singing, ‘Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my!’. Although nothing really jumped out of the woods at us, except for an occasional squirrel it is truly a place where you feel Gnomes and Fairies could live.
We walked for quite a while, 1 mile before most of the group turned back. My friend Breanna was so excited for this trail as it is supposed to spit you out along the sweeping cliffs complete with gorgeous waterfalls. As she led us along this trail we ran into large puddles of water. With the edges of the trail being thick with sticks, moss, and underbrush we had to wade straight through the ankle-deep mud. I finally looked at my Fitbit watch and informed Bree that we had just hiked 2 miles in (which means we would have 4 miles back). She was sorely disappointed when I told her she could keep going, she caved and turned back with me.
On the way back, about 1/2 mile past where the others had turned back, we noticed a tiny little sign (its brown and has a 1 inch by 2 inch arrow with tiny little black mileage on the sticker)….this was where we were supposed to have turned to head to the end of this hike. In total, we hiked 8 miles this day through pebble beaches, sand, sludge, wooded areas and were completely knackered by the time we reached the rest of the group. So if you decide to hike in Floras Lake State Park, be sure you either have a GPS guide or someone who can tell you where the bloody turn is.
This 40-foot lighthouse was built at the mouth of the Coquille River to help the Mariners get by the dangerous shifting sandbars that dot the river. In 1890 the Bandon Oregon area was known for its fishing and timber industries. Congress approved the $50,000 it would take to build this lighthouse (in 1891) and it was completed by 1895 and was first used February 1896.
The fire in 1936 slowed the ships into the town of Bandon and with the amount of money needed to rebuild the town, the Coast Guard decommissioned the Lighthouse by 1939. Eventually, the lighthouse was restored, and in 1991 was gifted with a new solar-powered light. It is now open from mid-May to September. Address: 56487 Bullards Beach Rd, Bandon, OR 97411
Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon: Art to Save the Sea
This was by far my favorite place to visit and where I feel my quest of using the least amount of plastic possible began. You wouldn’t expect something like this in such a small town, but artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi started this non-profit community art project in 2010 to bring awareness to the plastic problem in our seas.
Every single piece of the marine life sculptures in this gallery are made entirely from garbage that is removed from the Ocean. After walking the magnificent beaches of Oregon Angela decided to make a bold statement through Art, by using this garbage to created the animals who were the most affected by the garbage pollution. Be sure to stop by and help create one of these masterpieces, I’m sure you will leave the Washed Ashore Gallery with a greater sense of responsibility to #SavetheSea Address: 325 2nd St SE, Bandon, OR 97411
Other exhibitions: St Paul Minnesota at the Como Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, S at the Shedd Aquarium, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Washington, DC. Donations can be made to WashedAshore.org – a Non-Profit organization
Shores Acre State Park
A picture can tell a thousand words, but a video can help you experience all that Shores Acre State Park has to offer. This park was once a magnificent estate of Baron Louis Simpson, a logging tycoon that wanted to create a palace for himself on the Shoreline of Oregon. Stroll along the trail from the parking lot to the Ocean Cove at Simpson Beach.
Take a gander inside the viewpoint gazebo during any season and watch the waves at high tide crash against the shoreline. You may even see some migrating whales along the shore during December and March. The Simpson mansion has since disappeared but the formal Shores Acre Gardens are still well maintained and close by. Walking through these gardens is a like a botanical Disneyland.
You start your journey through a tulip-lined walkway with fountains and benches. Birds softly chirping around you, and you are sheltered from the Ocean winds. A small house sits on the property with a cottage like feeling that welcomes all who enter. Be sure to take in the Japanese-style garden with a lily pond, and the two rose gardens. If you are there during the Christmas holidays, volunteers will delight you by filling the garden with lights making for a perfectly romantic holiday getaway.
Address: Cape Argo Hwy, Coos Bay, OR 97420 Note: Credit Cards are not accepted for parking pass purchases. Receipt from any other Oregon State Park Campground is accepted as a daily permit, just display it on the driver’s side of the dashboard.
Crabbing in Charleston:
Did you know that you can go crabbing in Oregon and California? I thought that crabbing was reserved only for being on the boats in the middle of the Alaskan Bearing Sea. When we went to Oregon, I found out that you can go Crabbing just off the Pier in Charleston (a town right near Bandon). Grab some Crab Pots at Davey Jones Locker, along with some thawed out fish heads and such & catch some fresh Crab for your dinner.
Right between Bandon and Charleston are two places where you can ride ATV’s. Our itinerary did not allot for the time to do this, but is definitely on the list should we go back. The trails that you would be looking for are Winchester Trails for ATV riding, and Blue Ridge for ATV, Camping, and Sand Boarding. Check out Oregon’s riding restrictions before you go, so as not to get a ticket.
Circles in the Sand at Facerock Wayside Beach:
We happened upon the Circles in the Sand group when checking out Bandon’s City page. This wonderful group goes out to Facerock wayside beach and using rakes to create labyrinths in the sand. Once the labyrinths are completed, the attendees are gathered together – a message of hope and encouragement of a medatative state of mind is encouraged.
As you disconnect from technology, follow the paths along the beach, and truly listen to the waves crashing nearby – a state of calm and peace with descend upon you. Truly one of the most unique experiences while in Oregon. Be sure to connect with them through the Facebook website
Although Bandon is not well known for its attractions, it is a truly beautiful place. If you are an outdoor fanatic like me, you will feel so at peace and at home being amongst the moss lined trees. Seeing Bandon on the map is quite a different experience than actually being in this city. The area is suited not just for the outdoor savvy, but those with children, elderly, families small and large, and for those who may have disabilities. Participate in as many hikes, sand labyrinth walks, and art projects as you can while visiting.
As Always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You On the Flip Side.
Living in Las Vegas for six years taught me a lot about what is advertised vs what is reality. I realized that much of what is advertised is only a portion of things available to experience when in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area. So if you are a local, or if you are visiting and need to give your liver a break (or you bank account) here are a few things to do off the Las Vegas Strip from a local.
This is just a quick stop down the road from the Strip and will be much kinder to your wallet. Take an Uber about 10 minutes from Mandalay Bay Hotel and you will find this area filled with locals. Town Square includes designer shops, outlets, Whole Foods Market, children’s splash pad, fountain, bars, dancing, movie theatre, free concerts, African Drum classes and so much more. This was by far my favorite place to hang out with friends for the Country Dancing at Stoney’s.
has the infamous bikini bull riding where you can pay for your trip should you win the bikini bull ride, with prize money at $500. This is not for the faint of heart, and make sure you superglue your suit on before attempting this. The shows here are live shows and are really quite good artists that grace the stage. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the entertainment of watching others attempt to dance.
Whole Foods for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner
If you are wanting to save money on going out to eat on the strip, Whole foods has a ‘self-serving bar’ where you can pick and choose what you would like to eat. The cost of this food is based on weight, is healthy and organic (for those of us who are watching those waistlines). They have breakfast available by 8 am, lunch/dinner around 1130am and they are open until 10 pm. There are places where you can sit and eat your meal near the cash registers up front.
These Outlet Shops were my favorite when I lived in Las Vegas, with a food court, major discounts, and outdoor shopping setting. There are small stands littered throughout this mall that will have unique knick-naks that are budget friendly to take home as souvenirs to your friends and family.
This is where I found the majority of my jeans and work blouses. You cannot go wrong shopping here, when my family would come down – this was always a MUST stop.
One of the greatest Hotels in Las Vegas area. It has a sandbar, lap pool, kid pool, adult pool, music and a view of the Las Vegas Strip in a very relaxed setting. It is only a 20-minute drive from the strip, and if you would like even more seclusion, there are suites available with a small private pool if you so desire. Movies: I found this movie theatre to be adequate, but overpriced. If you like peace and quiet when you watch a movie, well then this is the place for you to be. Check out Royal Green Valley Ranch Stadium 10 for movie showtimes and options.
Local shopping: This was one of my favorite places to shop for clothing. There are several boutique shops along the strip mall right outside of the movie theatre. Be sure to at least stroll along this area, and visit REI at the very end. REI is one of my all-time favorite stores, they have never let me down, always have great deals and their stuff actually lasts. No this is not a sponsored post, but an honest statement about how much I love this store. Restaurants: My friends and I would always visit the Elephant Bar. It is a place with Unique decoration, delicious food, and great service. (Again, this is not sponsored). After I took some of my friends here, we ended up going back for every Birthday, Graduation, and Celebration from that time forward. There is also a great BBQ restaurant behind the shopping area, that has you drinking out of mason jars, which I thought was fun. I am not a big red meat kind of gal, but the smells coming from this place are delicious. When my Uncle and his kids came to visit, we ended up going to Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ and he loved it.
I was stunned at the beauty of this place when I first visited. When I moved to Vegas/Henderson area I figured there would be no beautiful green trees, and the only wildlife I would see would be beetles and crows. I think I even ended up writing a poem about how desolate things were, my car battery dying constantly because of the heat and how my body would be picked apart by the last living things that can survive the heat of hell. I know it is a little dramatic, but until you survived a summer in Las Vegas, you don’t know heat (I still think dry heat is better than humid heat though). Back to Red Rock National Park.
Once you discover how kind the sandstone is on your hands and feet, rock climbing because of an obsession for me. I was never a competitive person about it, I just liked getting to the top of the mountain away from everyone & enjoying the view. For those who are avid climbers, there is the climbing conference called the Red Rock Rendezvous, where climbing gear companies, professional climbers, guides and the best of the best will teach you how to climb from beginner to expert. Check out the Red Rock Rendezvous Facebook Page for the most accurate dates on the Rendezvous.
This vast Desert Oasis has some of the best Instagrammable spots! The man-made lake is nearly 320 acres large, with a magnificent Hotel overlooking the lake. This lake boasts a plethora of water activities, massages, golf.
The water activities include Flyboard & Jetpack experience, Paddleboarding, Kayaks, Pedal boats, electric boat rentals, La Contessa Yacht Reservations, Rowing club, and last but not least the Las Vegas Dragon Boat Club! With all these activities I can imagine it would be hard to know which one is the best. My favorite activity was with my dear friend Chanelle, doing Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
It was our first time going, and they provided ample instructions, were kind and helpful and was surprisingly so relaxing! There are so many little nooks and crannies to go and explore, but be careful on windy days as it can blow you too far away from the dock. The wind in the Vegas/Henderson area can be a bit relentless. If it does get windy, you have a free pass to the pool where you can listen to live music on the weekends and sip on a Pinacolada under the Swaying Palm Trees. Now that is a perfect way to spend your vacation!
There is also a well-established community in the area, with plenty of local hangouts that will likely cost you less than what you pay on the strip. Be sure to check out the events at MonteLago Village, and the Concerts on the Lake which is a huge hit in the summer for locals.
I have always wanted to stay at the Lake Las Vegas Hotel if you would like to book a room – make sure to check out the Hilton and Westin Hotel Booking sites. (This is not a sponsored post, it truly is one of the magical hotels I would love to stay in at some point).
It is no secret that I love the outdoors, so including a hike or two is a must. I know what you are thinking…..’Hiking in Las Vegas! It’s too hot’! In reality, the heat is not as bad as it seems. You get up around 6 or 7am and then during the hottest part of the day you are by a pool or a lake, and then you finish out the day with something fun. The Mt Charleston hike is a great one to do any time of year, during the winter you may get snow, but during the summer it is a perfect hike for cooler climate at a higher elevation.
End the day with a hike through the tunnels, it is a little creepy at night because it is so dark, and I’m pretty sure there are bats that live in those tunnels now. What are the tunnels you ask? Well, this place was where the old train tracks used to be. They have since removed the train tracks but you have 7.1 miles of scenic hiking that takes you right up near Hoover Dam. The best part about this trail is that you can take your dogs 🙂 It is also a place that is commonly used for photo shoots. How to get to the tunnels: Take 93 South to Boulder City. Turn left on Lake Shore Drive. The trailhead is about 500 yards down Lake Shore Drive on the right.
On the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam, as you are wandering around, you will find a flagpole with two winged statues flanking it. These statues are a tribute to the men who built the Hoover dam in a time when technology was not so abundant, a monument in its own right. These statues are said to represent “the immutable calm of intellectual resolution, and the enormous power of trained physical strength equally enthroned in placid triumph of scientific accomplishment.”
Be sure to book a tour of the Dam while there, must be booked 24 hours in advance & may be canceled at any time if there is even a slight question of safety. You will see the inner workings of this magnificent piece of engineering in a time when calculators and computers didn’t do the work, it was the hard labor of hundreds of men and their uniquely gifted minds that constructed the largest reservoir dam in the world (at that time) in 1931. If you want to see Hoover Dam from Lake Mead side (the reservoir side). I would suggest renting a jet ski or two and enjoy your day frolicking around on the water. There are also party boats, speed boats, sport fishing, camping, picnic sites, and short desert hikes near the lake that will get you incredible views of the towering mountains surrounding the 16th largest man-made lake in the world.
This was the most surprising thing for me to see while in Vegas. Las Vegas and the Henderson area are known for being windy and extremely hot in the summer time. going to a place of rocks in 117-degree weather isn’t the smartest idea & I also thought ‘well I can see red rocks at Red Rock National Park’, but I was coaxed into going to the Valley of Fire and am so glad that I went.
This place has more history behind it than you could imagine! This is where the Indians lived with their natural streams and easy hiding places with foliage and places for their livestock to graze in peace. It was also the hideout for some notorious wild west quick slingers as well.
How often have you gone to Trip Advisor and found something incredibly unique listed there about your hometown or current place of residence that you have never been to? This was one of those items for me. The Lion Habitat is a way out from the strip, but these Lions are the retired MGM Lions.
I felt really sad for these Lions actually. They are required to work for the casino and then get put in cages and wood crate boxes behind fences to live out the rest of their days in the sweltering heat of the Las Vegas desert. I guess Africa is hot, but I dunno, just made me sad to see them like this. It was really fun to see them up close and personal, but with how much the MGM Casino & Hotel makes…..you think they would give them a decent home to retire to at least. If anyone knows more about how the MGM and the other casinos take care of their animals after they get too old to perform, please let me know in the comments below.
This place is fun to visit if you are going to play with the cubs for 30 minutes to 1 hour with trainers in the same vicinity. The pricing is quite steep for 30 minutes, or you can book small birthday parties or something and it is much cheaper. I found it interesting to see them up close, but sad at the same time. So if you choose to go and visit these animals, check out The Lion Habitat Website.
What Happens In Vegas….Is Up To YOU
You don’t have to get plastered on the Las Vegas Strip every time you visit. There are plenty things to do off the las vegas strip with beautiful landscapes, and vistas that will allow you to enjoy nature and stay out of the Emergency Room or empty your bank account on drinks. If I were to make a tour of these places I would start at the Outlet Shops, then go to the Lion Habitat, next head over to either Red Rock National Park for some hiking, or to the Valley of Fire to explore their trails, End up back at either Town Square or Green Valley Ranch and enjoy some activities and entertainment to wrap up your evening.
As Always, Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side!
An Oregon Coast Camping Road trip should be on everyone’s bucket list. There are so many things to see, do and experience it is hard to narrow it down into a week or two. So here are my suggestions for your perfect Oregon Coast Camping Vacation, and my experiences along the road that will help you plan your own.
The Bad Omen:
Omens are a thing of legends and a word often used by mystics in the age of King Arthur, right? Well despite the word being associated with paranoid people and magicians in movies, I am still a big believer in them myself. Case and point number one, my roommate forgot her wallet about 45 minutes after we started on the road. Some may call this an accident, but I jokingly kept saying, ‘ It’s AN OMEN’! When things like this happen, it often puts you on the wrong foot when starting, what is supposed to be, a relaxing vacation. Be sure to check out my Packing Lists to ensure that you will not forget anything you could possibly need, but at the same time, not over pack.
Heading from Salt Lake City Utah, we were able to make a few extra stops along the way to Oregon. Our first stop is the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The Salt Flats:
There are several places among the Salt Flats that you can stop and get stellar photos and selfies. Because we are short were short on time, we stopped at a rest stop with a short 5 foot walk onto the Salt Flats with gentle rolling hills in the Distance.
Try to wear monocolor clothing without any wording on it or symbols. In photos it just looks distracting. Don’t wear sunglasses unless they are reflective and you just want the attention to be on your face. Avoid watches as this can also be distracting for the viewer. I personally love to wear flowing dresses here, because it just looks cool when it blows in the wind. Otherwise pair your clothing with something that will contrast to the background. For the Salt Flats, Sunrise or Sunset is the absolute best time to go, the white ground gets very reflective of the sun and can blow out your photo.
After this Quick stop, we were on our way to Tokatee Falls. If you are driving from Salt Lake City on your way to Wendover, this is also a great little stop that is only 1.5 hours away.
Timing Tokatee Falls:
We arrived at Tokatee Falls about 30 minutes before Sunset was complete. We had to do the hike rather quickly, and there are lots of stairs folks. I also had swollen legs from sitting for 16 hours in the car. It made it very difficult to do this trail quickly, this was the first instance I kicked myself for being so out of shape of many on this trip.
To avoid those swollen legs when driving or flying for long distances, compression stockings are a LIFE SAVER! No literally, they are life saving. When I would have patients come into my office with calf pain, one of the first things I ask is if they have done any traveling that required them to sit for long periods of time. The ones who ended up having blood clots in their legs, were often the ones that said yes. I bet you are thinking, ‘Oh, that only happens with old people’…..NOPE…..think again. Some people are more prone to it than others, especially younger people who overload themselves on energy drinks and caffeine to stay awake. No one is immune to blood clots. A good rule of thumb is to get out of the car every hour or two and walk around for at least 15 minutes.
Getting to Tokatee Falls was awe-inspiring and took my breath away. I have never seen a waterfall like this in my entire life. The hike was fairly easy getting there (minus all the stairs). There is a hike that goes by the river, that I spotted plenty of swimming holes. Tokatee Falls itself was a contrast of white and dark, smooth and jagged visual delights. When there are such contrasting elements in one photo, I get very inspired. Views such as this are nourishment for the soul.
Floras Lake State Park
We arrived in Bandon and set up camp quickly in the dark. It is a lot more humid in Bandon than you would expect, so a drop of 15 degrees at night can be the type of chill that sinks into your bones. (I will post some tips on how to stay warm camping in Humid environments on Culture Trekking YouTube Channel, be sure to check it out).
The next morning we were delighted with eggs and toast by Bree’s sister, who lives in Grant’s Pass. We headed to Floras Lake State Park and started a hike that would take us around a lake known for its kite surfing, into an enchanted forest. The forest had moss-covered branches, topsy-turvy turns and truly felt magical. We couldn’t help skipping down the trail singing ‘Lions, and tigers and bears OH MY!’
The trail is best to do in the summer as it is likely a bit drier on the trail itself and covered in shade for most of the journey once you make it around the lake. We decided on doing this in Spring as it would be cooler for the 3 children that accompanied our group. The kids loved this hike, playing among the logs strewn about, and splashing in the lake on the way to the hike. If you look closely in the muddy puddles that dot the trail, you may just spot a Salamander. Bree attempted to kiss it, at her niece’s delight, to see if it would turn into a handsome prince, but alas….it did not. I have taken too many microbiology classes to attempt that, lol, handsome prince or not.
If you plan to go in Spring or Fall, be sure you do this hike in Keens or sturdy watershoes.
After about 2.2 miles the kids started to get tired, the trail was then covered in water and required those without water shoes to start bushwhacking. Those with water shoes were walking through sludgy mud that had pinecones and sticks, fantastic cushioning for your feet. Half of the group turned back at this point and then 0.25 miles later Bree and I were the only ones left on the trail with our dogs.
We hiked another mile or two through the rough conditions & I finally told Bree we had gone too far and I could no longer hear the ocean (our final projected destination). Reluctantly she agreed, and we turned back around to head into downtown Bandon and meet up with the rest of the group.
On our way back to the group (2 miles back), I noticed a metal pole with an indiscriminate trail on our left. I examined this closer, and it was a sign to another trail, I could also hear the ocean at this point. Pointing this out to Bree, she said some things I will not repeat here, and we both yelled our frustrations for the Forest to be witness to.
At this juncture we were both so exhausted we decided not to attempt another trail as our party had already been waiting quite awhile for us and headed into town, grumbling the whole way. If you have problems with tight calves like I do, when you hit the sandy area, walk closer to the shoreline for a more solid surface. It really aided in being able to make it back to the car.
Now, this was the second time I chided myself for my out-of-shapeness. Bree’s sister, however, is an active Triathalon Athlete, and even she was exhausted by the end of this trek. Moral of the story, don’t try hiking in heavily wooded areas without GPS, or something to tell you exactly how far you have traveled. I luckily had my Fitbit on me (not entirely accurate, but good enough of a guess) to tell us we hiked a total of 4.1 miles in 4.1 miles out and a total of 8.7 miles that day……ouch. We visited Cranberries sweets, and the washed ashore gallery that day as well, which are also in Bandon. I will post a full list of activities in Bandon within the next few months.
Bad luck Crabbing in Charleston:
Day three was an exciting day for our group and the kids go crazy seeing us catch crab. We headed over to Charleston to visit Davey Jones locker to get our crab gear and pots.
Arrive early and rent a pot, otherwise you will have to pay $29.95 to buy one. Out of state-vs-in-state licenses are going to be different pricing.
After getting our licenses and crab pots, we headed over to the pier and found there were plenty of people attempting to catch some delicious Dungeness crab. There are guides to show you what kind of crabs you are allowed to catch and which ones you are not. It is based on gender and measurements, you keep the males and their shells must be a certain length from side to side. If you want to watch a show I’m totally obsessed with, Deadliest Catch, you can see how they measure the crabs when they pull their crab pots in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6ZwaO1Sps&t=4s
The best time to catch the crab is when it has not been raining for several days, and also at the end of summer. (Stay tuned for all the details of how to catch crab, along with more tips and tricks to make it memorable).
I was able to catch one crab for the seven of us for dinner. This was not going to be very filling for all seven of us feasting on one crab. Luckily there are some friendly folks who taught us how to cook our crab, clean the crab and even had a few more crab waiting there for us in the shop at the pier. As far as I could gather, this was the only place that sold crab, and in March of 2018 it was $5.99 per pound and they clean and cook it for you right there. We elected to cook it ourselves back at camp, so they cleaned it for us, put them on ice for us.
The Redemption Meal:
The crab turned out to be delicious! The most delicious crab I have ever had! There is nothing better than getting fresh crab, or fish from the rivers and oceans. We melted our butter over the campfire which gave it a nice smoky taste and then cooked some S’mores to top it off. I called this, the redemption meal because of how good it truly was. Are you salivating yet? If this has tickled your fancy for crab, head over to Whole foods and get your Crabby on 🙂
Witnessing Mother Nature at Shores Acre State Park:
This is the day that we were robbed…..by raccoons. Well, Bree’s Sister was robbed anyway, her food cooler was broken into by Raccoons. The food was everywhere, bags were ripped open and strewn about the camp. None of us thought that Raccoons knew how to open coolers, but apparently, they are evolving and getting smarter. Consider yourself warned!
Bree and I salvaged breakfast with French Toast, Eggs, and Turkey Bacon. The group then headed to Shores Acre State Park. The best time to go here is at High Tide, this way you can see just how powerful the ocean truly is. In spring and summer you won’t be able to witness the full extent of mother nature, but during a Winter Storm….prepare to be awed by the power of water.
There is a small shelter with a viewing platform that you can appreciate just how much the land has changed from the relentless pounding of the sea. Here you will also learn of a logging millionaire that built a mansion on these shores, complete with tennis courts that have since sunk into the ocean. If you pay attention you will see a large slab of concrete peeking out from under a blanket of Ivy that use to be the spot where his tennis courts were.
If you take the trail to the right of the viewing platform you will be able to see these tennis courts. Approximately 200 feet beyond the tennis courts is a unique area filled with, what I call, bubble rocks. These rocks and their current shapes, pockets, and bubble-like appearances were what has been sculpted by the seat itself. explore all the nooks and crannies with your kids or friends and witness the wonder of nature.
One thing I must stress to all my readers is to NEVER challenge the ocean, it will always win. The people in Oregon call those who visit, ‘Flat-landers’, those who come on vacation and do not have a healthy respect for the ocean. Do not travel in Oregon without a Tide Table booklet, these are available at any visitors center or major port city center. You can turn your back on the ocean and the next thing you know, you will be swept out to sea by the ‘sneeker waves’, as the Oregonians call them.
Facerock Wayside Beach and Sandy Labyrinths:
After some downtime after Bree’s sister’s family headed home, we went out to Facerock Wayside Beach for a special experience. I was particularly excited for this adventure. At Face Rock Wayside Beach, you will find a group of individuals that are committed to inner peace, healing and reconnecting with the humans that surround us.
This group was started by a man named Denny, who in an effort to find that inner peace, you started to draw in the sand. Circles in the Sand The drawings soon became large, intricate works of art that were a walking meditation for him. Word grew and soon it expanded into a Community of like-minded individuals who meet on the weekends to take the walk. Each walk has a theme and can be up to 0.5 miles of walking.
There is encouragement given as you decide to take the walk through the circles, to disconnect from the world around you and realize happiness comes not from our electronics but from the peace we find within our own hearts and minds. It helped me recenter my beliefs for our own community, that in order to truly be the change I wish to see in the world, first I need to be happy with myself.
Rain, Snow, Waterfalls, and Racoons:
After heading back to camp from the Circles in the sand appearance, we were enjoying a lazy and euphoric evening. Luckily our dogs were around, the rasciliy raccoon tripped over my tent stake, and triggered Zoey into a barking frenzy. Zoey is my dog that is part Cocker Spaniel, part poodle and definitely loves to chase animals of any kind.
My dog likes to think she is a bear, but in fact is a 16-pound ball of zest and fluff. Zoey pulled the leash right out of my hands and took off into the bushes after what I assumed was a squirrel. She deftly tracked the Raccoon up the tree where it stayed for the next hour with us examining it. This Raccoon was GINORMOUS! The raccoon was easily three times the size of Zoey, and likely had all sorts of creepy critters crawling on it that I didn’t want Zoey to inherit. I quickly gathered her up, calmed her down, took a few photos of the Raccoon, and then packed our own cooler in our car.
We couldn’t do much with our garbage as we had just been headed to bed, so we put the garbage in our extra cardboard box. The next morning we found the garbage bag ripped into, but all garbage was neatly contained in this box. We loaded it, and all our gear up into the car and headed out to Silver Falls State Park.
Haceta Head Lighthouse
Haceta Head is part of an interconnecting network of seven miles of varying difficulty of trails. You can stay in this lighthouse as a B&B, and then traipse down the trails viewing the seals, Eagles, and all wildlife along the trails. Explore the tide pools, go sea glass hunting, or simply enjoy the cool breezes coming off the Ocean.
We spent an hour or two in the area exploring trails and hunting for sea glass. It was o relaxing and wish we would have had more time in this area.
This is known as the drainpipe of the sea. This natural sea cave pounded out by the crashing waves is about 20 feet deep (approximately). Then the roof caved in and created an opening that sucked in the sea and pounded it into the floor. Eventually it became known as Thor’s well. Like most everything else in Oregon, this phenomenon is its most glorious at high tide. If you want an even more spectacular show, go at sunrise or sunset as well and get a shot that will shock even the most professional of photographers.
Silver Falls State Park
In checking the weather on the way to Silver Falls State Park, I discovered we were heading to an area where it was actually going to snow. I only own a 3 season tent and was worried about being too cold when we got there, especially Zoey as she doesn’t handle temperatures lower than 45 degrees very well. Luckily Bree was able to reserve a small Yurt or cabin for us for when we arrived at Silver Falls State Park. These are often equipped with an outdoor firepit, picnic table, electricity, beds, and a small heater that really does a stellar job. We were both so happy to have a warm place to dry off our clothes, we stayed here awhile just to enjoy the warmth.
The cabin costs about $61 per night with dogs. At Silver Falls State Park there are only two cabins that are available for those with animals, so be sure to book early.
Many trails within Silver Falls State Park do not allow animals on them (for unknown reasons other than water contamination). So renting a cabin is a great way for you to put the pooches in a warm area that is contained and protected from visiting wildlife. Our first stop was to South Falls, the most iconic waterfall of the entire park. This towering monstrosity drops 177 feet (53.95 meters) into the River below. There are several different areas to take iconic photos, the first being at the top of the viewing platform. This is a platform where you can park your car and walk to the edge of the stone shelf and take a photo. The other photo areas are along the trail itself, with one location before the bridge, and one location on the bridge itself.
From the bridge you have several options:
1- Continue along the trail that will bring you to a total of 10 different Waterfalls, each with its own unique appearance. 2- Take the trail up, around, and behind the waterfall. This is the option we chose as we were running out of daylight. Hiking behind the waterfall was not like anything I have experienced. The sheer drop of the water into the river below sends reverberating sounds into the caverns that you hike through. It truly is an experience like none other, as these sounds are so loud you can hardly hear yourself speak and feel the thunder sink into your chest. We stayed behind the waterfall for some time, getting soaked from the spray of the waterfall and the rain that had begun for the evening. I wanted to stay there forever, just watching the mesmerizing fall of the water into the river below.
Bring a Poncho with you, or a garbage bag that you can drape over yourself to help you from getting soaked. If you are taking photos, make sure that your camera is either waterproof or has a protective covering like a shower cap on it to help keep out the majority of the spray from the waterfall.
Giants, Elves, and getting lost in Ferngully:
Leaving the warmth of that cabin was entirely too difficult. I wanted to stay and explore all the waterfalls within Silver Falls State Park! Alas, our itinerary did not allow for enough time to explore properly. If you want to properly explore Silver Falls State Park, make sure you allot for AT LEAST 4 days in this park. Loading up our gear, and our pups, we headed to Willamette National Forest to hike the Tamolitch Blue Pool Trail.
When we arrived at this trail, we were both greeted by a place that looked as if fairies would live here. This hike tracks the river for about 2.0 miles up to a spectacular Blue Pool of water fed by the McKenzie River. We assumed that it would be easy for us to spot, but after hiking for what seemed like ages, we ran out of time and ended up turning back. We did not have GPS, nor did our cell phones have service to let us know where we were.
After coming back home we realized we were 0.25 miles away from where it actually was. I don’t believe that trail is only 2.5 miles though personally, my Fitbit said I had gone 3.92 miles by the time we turned around. We were extremely disappointed about missing this feature as this is a very popular trail. Be sure you explore the Tamolitch Blue Pool Trail on Google Maps and drop the little man to see what it looks like on a normal day. There are several areas that appear to be the right spot, but alas are no.
The trail was not a total loss for me, I had no idea what we were hiking towards, so wasn’t really disappointed when we had to turn around. The trail was absolutely stunning! There was moss over EVERYTHING and the areas that you could see the river were breathtaking. When I visit Oregon again, I will definitely have to do this trail again as I really enjoyed just playing in this forest that looked like I was walking in Ferngully.
The Hot Spring that Isn’t So Hot:
Hiking 6-8 miles a day for me is a big deal, I have a typical desk job that I sit for most of the day taking care of my patients. Needless to say, my body hurt by day 6 and I was ready for a nice soak in a boiling Hot Spring. Heading to Bigelow Hot Springs after our failed attempt at reaching the Blue Pool. Parking the car in a nearby parking slot, we headed back across the road and to the left trail along the bank of the river.
The Bigelow Hot Springs was only a 0.1-mile trek in if that. Make sure you come with water shoes because the rocks are not friendly on bare feet. This Hot Springs I feel was very deceiving in many ways. When you first see it, it is on the right-hand side of the river with rocks that form a sort of hot tub appearance. The bank of the river is 12 inches away from this Hot Spring and would be fantastic in the Summertime.
There was steam coming off the top of the water and my excitement level peaked because I thought for sure it was going to be piping hot. I peeled off my clothes with my swimming suit underneath I fumbled my way across the rocks and into the pool, anticipating delicious warmth from the frigid cold air. I was sorely disappointed at the initial dip of my foot but wanted it to be warm so badly I decided to venture further into the pool. There was no area of this Hot Spring that was an actual HOT spring, it was more like a tepid bath……highly disappointing.
We only stayed in the bogus Bigelow Hot Spring for about five minutes. If you were to come in the summertime it would be fantastic though. The spring would be tepid enough to not overheat you, a good place to wash off the grime of camping and lounge by the river. In the Spring and Fall getting out of this spring will be frosty, not to the point of snot-sickles.
Whatever part of your body you decide to immerse in the water will quickly become numb upon emerging from the spring. Cougar Hot Springs is the better Hot Springs as it is so hot, that you have to experience it in small doses. Unfortunately, the road was closed due to a rock slide and we could not safely reach it according to the Willamette National Forest Service Website. Make sure to check conditions of roads prior to visiting the different areas in the Pacific Northwest as the road conditions are dynamic. If you want to check out other Hot Springs in Oregon, check out the Oregon Hot Springs Website, for the information you will need about the different Hot Springs.
A Perfectly Picturesque Conclusion with Sand dollars:
There are not many people that know about this beach, and I hesitate to share this with you because it is so fantastic but come on, I have to share it with my Culture Trekking Crew! It is marked as just a Picnic area in Crescent City, but is a beach full of Sand dollars!
If you go at low tide earlier in the day you will see that the beach has sand dollars. When Bree told me about this I imagined a beach with all the Sand dollars in perfect condition lining the Beach. When you actually get there, you have to look for the Sand dollars. I would suggest going close to the waterline and looking for white pieces.
If you find a greenish looking Sand Dollar, please put it back as this is still alive sand dollar. There will be broken ones and whole ones of the white Sand dollars, these are ones that have already died. We went at low tide later in the evening and it looks like people had already picked the beach for the whole sand dollars.
The sunsets here are amazing and would suggest you take a picnic and enjoy it as a perfect ending to your trip along the Southern Oregon Coast.
The Lessons Learned for our next Oregon Coast Camping Trip:
Overall the trip was an utter success, with many memories that will stay with me for a very long time. Some things that I took away from this trip that I would do differently for next time: get a paper map for any trails we go on, get a GPS device, bring more sweaters, allow more time for enjoying the journey, and don’t try to take a dip in the hot springs when it is 45 degrees outside and you can’t defrost in a hot shower afterwards.
Make sure to check out my car camping list for any items you may need for your trip. This list will continue to be honed down and carefully crafted to help you travel. I will also be posting detailed videos of my experience & crucial information for your trip on the Culture Trekking YouTube Channel, be sure to subscribe and stay tuned.
Top Highlights of our Oregon Coast Camping trip were definitely Silver Falls State Park, Tokatee Falls, and the Sand Dollar Beach. As always my friends: Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and see you on the Flipside.