30 July 2008

Way up high

For my birthday, my dad and littlest brother came to visit and brought my roommate and me up into the central Oregon Cascades. We had a time limit (because my roommate is a waitress :), so we hiked up to Canyon Creek Meadows in the shade of the big, craggy mountain that they call Three-Finger Jack. It was a beautiful day, there was still snow on the ground, and because we're cool, we hiked speedily past numerous puffing day-trippers. We dawdled a bit in the snowbanks because it's so much fun to throw snowballs in July, so we ran parts of the trail on the way back to save time. It was about a 4.5 mile round trip, I believe, not including the side trip to the upper meadows.

Pretty little pond right off the parking lot. No effort required!

The forest burned in 2003, and it's now in the process of reseeding itself. Even the burned parts are beautiful, but the living trees are draped in pale green lichen and are absolutely lovely.

Are you lichen our mustaches? We are so cool. Haha.

The hills are alive and all that. The field is full of shooting stars.

It was super fun. I love the mountains. Unfortunately the Cascades are a two-hour drive and not right in my backyard... but I take what I can get.

29 July 2008

Treasure Map

The EuRail map they sent with my tickets :D

I'm leaving Saturday. I arrive in Switzerland (Zurich) Sunday morning, take a train to Bellinzona, then I cross the Swiss/Italian border to visit Lake Como and spend the night in Milano.

I. Am. So. EXCITED!! Will try and post here, so check for updates, pictures, making sure I'm still alive, and/or posting snarky comments about how much you hate me and how much chocolate I should bring you.

23 July 2008

Why being young rocks

I bought my Eurail pass last night. They say it's on its way to me, and they also say that I get a present when I come home from my trip. I like companies that give me presents for using their service. Mostly I just like presents. :)

Anyway, I got a lovely 35% knocked off the ticket price for being under the age of 26. Of course, I have to travel second class, but that never hurt anyone (except maybe the people on the Titanic, but that certainly wasn't limited to second class). OK, bad example, sorry.

Why you should always check all the prices before buying: since I planned to travel in five countries within two weeks, I looked at the Select Pass (limits travel to 3, 4, or 5 countries with a set number of travel days). To travel 15 days in five countries would cost me $725. However, with the Global Pass (access to 20 countries with a set number of travel days), travel for 15 days in as many countries as I want only cost me $519. If I were all grown up, this same pass would cost me a grand total of $795. That's still a lot of money!! Scary.

Woohoo! I can go to Liechtenstein if I want to! Yes, the tiny beige country between Switzerland and Austria.

Question: if I wander into Liechtenstein, does it count as an invasion?

22 July 2008

Words, words, words

In January of 2007, I traveled to New Zealand and Hawaii on a 'South Pacific Natural History' trip, with the school I was then attending. It was a rigorous four-credit course jammed into 26 intense days, covering everything from anthropology to history to geology. We were required to keep a scientific journal, later used as our only reference material for the four final exams we had to write. In this journal we noted everything that sounded remotely scholastic, stuck in brochures and bits of interesting flora, and pretty much kept (at least) one hand on it at all times. We traveled in two large vans, and it eventually got to the point where the people in one van would signal to the other whether we needed journals, cameras, both, or neither at every stop we made (which came fairly regularly).

Some of the more ambitious kids kept a second, more personal journal. At the time, I claimed it was to share stories with my family, but in reality I needed something more private than a scientific journal that I would eventually hand in for a grade. I wrote everything in this journal, the good, the bad, the ugly... where we stopped, what we ate, who made the vans smell bad, Who hid the van keys, what I laughed about, everything. Unsurprisingly, the funniest stories involved things like blood and Marmite.

By the end of the trip, I had a near-permanent dent in my forefinger and writer's cramp to go with it, but if anything, I wish I'd had time to write more. Most journaling was done at night due to the twisty roads and crazy schedules, but once you get past some of the illegible scribbling, it's packed full of stories, postcards, pictures, labels and memories.

These journals are now the most tangible memories of one of the most awesome times in my life. Some of the stories will probably see the light of day after my Crazy European Adventure (CEA) is over, but if nothing else, I think my grandchildren will have a good laugh someday. It's definitely safe to say that I will be keeping a new one in the same vein for my upcoming CEA. It will probably contain even more insanity than the last one. :)

19 July 2008

A wise man once said...

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

- Mark Twain

There's a wide world out there. Don't let your opportunities slide.

16 July 2008

Watch out for that big hole in the ground

It's always a fun day when you're swallowed by the earth. :)

In a fissure near the Halema'uma'u Crater on Kilauea, Hawaii.

13 July 2008

Where my heart is

Going places is pretty great, but if anything, it makes you appreciate home all the more. I grew up in a small town (numbers don't matter, it automatically counts as one when strangers walk up to you and ask after your parents "because you look just like them" and that's how they recognized you) in eastern Oregon. Its mountains, lakes and fields will always be home to me.

The view from behind my house. It basically rocks. I love driving out to my house from town. I don't have a good picture of it, but if you have a creative imagination you might see that there is an Indian in these mountains, lying on his back, looking up at the sky.

I suppose it came from the scenery surrounding me while I grew up, but I really love mountains. The Maori people of New Zealand have a saying: "Te hā o taku maunga, ko taku manawa," which means "The breath of my mountain is my heart." They said it in regard to a volcano, but I think the low-lying cloud covers on frosty mornings will do just as well for my favorite non-eruptive mounds of earth.

Another thing I enjoy is all four local seasons: mud, fire, harvest, and cold. Except the mud. That's actually no fun. I think my basic aversion to dirt is due to being dragged on week-long hikes with no showers as a kid. That's "roughing it" to a girl, but clearly heaven to boys.

This is why I don't complain about driving two hours to the closest mall. When you get to look at incredible beauty like this every day, who needs convenient shopping? We even force the city folks to slow down a bit when they roll through town... by driving huge pieces of farm equipment around at 5mph or herding cattle on the highway. And then we wave. :)

10 July 2008

Life's a Beach

I love the Oregon coast. Part of it may be purely bias, having been raised an Oregon girl, but the more I see of the world, the more I love the Northwest.

I love the grey mornings when the fog drapes low over the trees and muffles the sound of the waves. I love the rocky shores, and the headlands where the forest meets the sea. I love the many different moods of the ocean that change on a whim. I love our seastacks, which I took for granted until I went to New Zealand and saw how my east coast friends were awed by their beauty. I love the cold water and the need for a wetsuit to protect against hypothermia from extended exposure. I love the pure smell of the salt sea air.

One of the most beautiful beaches on the northern Oregon coast is Short Sands Beach in Oswald West State Park, just south of Cannon Beach. It's a lovely, sheltered cove nestled into the thickly forested headlands of Neahkanie Mountain. The water is mind-numbingly cold, yet still a paradise for surfers and boogie boarders. The parking lot is right off the highway, and it's a quarter-mile walk through gorgeous, old-growth coastal forest -where the campground is located- to the beach. It is surreal.

And it is definitely worth a visit.

07 July 2008


When I was wee, my parents read a lot of books to my siblings and me. One of the many books just happened to be Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go! It was my favorite, although I'm not sure they knew that at the time. I blame this travel addiction of mine entirely on my parents and our perpetual trips to the library: they taught us to think bigger than the little town in which we were raised. Now I have this crazy thirst to see and do everything I possibly can, because, as Helen Keller once said: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Thus far I've been to 46 of the states (excepting Alaska, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware), Canada, and New Zealand. Next month I'll be in western Europe. You heard it here first. :)

This is my place to write about life, adventure, and the world at large as I experience it. This is for everyone who may never see these places themselves, for everyone who comes behind me, and just those wanting to be entertained. Enjoy.

Why, then the world's mine oyster,
Which I with a sword will open.
-Merry Wives of Windsor II. ii. 2