Magical Oregon

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. There is nothing like the feeling you get when first arriving to a new destination Рa place you have never seen before. There is so much to discover. Travel makes your heart race and adrenaline rush throughout your entire being. It’s so exhilarating!

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And so, our hearts raced with excitement as we stepped off the plane and found ourselves in the Pacific Northwest – a place that neither Josh nor I had explored yet.

 

Our destination was Cannon Beach, Oregon. But first, we had to see something amazing. We picked up our rental car from the airport, and then drove a few miles outside of Portland to see Multnomah Falls. As we drove along the highway, clouds covered the sky and fog was on the horizon. We were not used to this kind of weather and scenery, and to us the weather was what one would call ‚Äúmoody.‚ÄĚ We reached the parking lot for the falls, and felt excited for what our eyes were about to behold. Our shoes crunched in the snow and we passed under the highway through a tunnel where a local was playing some tunes on his guitar. It felt perfect, and just added to our excitement. At last, we gasped for breath when we looked up and saw the Multnomah Falls crashing its water thunderously down with such great force. It was foggy, creating an eerie and mysterious effect. We stared in wonder for several minutes at this beautiful site, took pictures, and then got back on the road as we were ready to get to our destination.

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The 2 hour drive to Cannon Beach was slow, but the scenery made the time pass quickly. We finally arrived to the sleepy beach town as the sun had just set a few minutes earlier. I instantly fell in love with the town because it was quiet, had a main street with cute shops, and it sat right on the ocean. We checked into our accommodation, The Waves, and were blown away by the panoramic views of the ocean from the windows of our hotel room. A storm was brewing, and when we opened the back door of our room to our private patio, we felt in awe of the ocean as the sound of the waves crashing against the shore was almost deafening. We were right on the ocean – such a prime spot. Our room had a cozy fireplace, which we were thankful for as it was in the middle of February.

 

We ventured a mere couple blocks away and found the perfect place to eat dinner – Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge. It felt like the restaurant was filled with locals, and I felt instantly at ease and calm when we walked in the doors. The restaurant was dimly lit with a dark wood interior. Candles and vases with fresh flowers adorned the tables, which made me happy as I am all about a romantic dining experience. It was so nice to be in a warm and cozy restaurant, away from the cold and brutal wind outside. I had clam chowder which was amazing, as well as a steak and baked potato. Our server was a gem – she was so nice and friendly. We knew from first stepping foot into this town, that Cannon Beach was a unique place. We loved it!

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The next morning, the wind was blowing mighty fiercely. We walked along the beach, struggling against the wind, and having the sand hit our faces. But we were having fun, and didn’t care. We had our GoPro and camera in hand, and did our best to capture the moments.

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View of our accommodation – The Waves
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Another view of our accommodation

I walked a block over to the main street (North Hemlock) to go to the Cannon Beach Yoga Arts, and had a calming yoga practice. A great way to start the day off right!

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After breakfast, Josh and I put our hiking boots on and drove a few miles outside of town and, after getting lost a time or two, finally found the Cape Falcon trailhead. Despite the cold, we did a short photoshoot of me in the magical-looking forest, where I felt like I was a fairy. It was so much fun! Then, we embarked on what we thought was going to be a short hike, as in 2 1/2 miles roundtrip, but we ended up hiking further than we intended, and it turned out to be an 8 mile hike! That’s quite a difference! Nonetheless, we had fun walking through the mystical rainforest. It was so quiet and peaceful, and we hardly saw any other hikers along the way. Towards the end of our hike, the sun finally appeared, and it was absolutely glorious as it peaked through the trees and warmed our skin.

Oregon - Lindsey petting the mossy tree

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After our exhausting hike, we ate lunch at Pelican Brewing Company where I had delicious fish’n’ chips.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon, still filled with adrenaline, wandering in and out of the shops and art galleries of Cannon Beach. I then went to a local coffee shop, and did some reading. Josh later joined me and we walked next door to a pizza cafe (Pizza a’ fetta) where we shared a delicious barbecue chicken pizza. Amazing!

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The rest of our time in Cannon Beach was filled with exploring the town some more, and relaxing. We were amazed again by the natural beauty of this place, especially the iconic Haystack Rock. While gazing in wonder at Haystack Rock, the waves crashed brutally against the shore and the wind was relentless. It made standing there all the more inspiring. I had found a place of mystery. I think it was then that I discovered that my heart longs to live near the sea.

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Indeed, we will never forget our time in Cannon Beach, Oregon. And our hearts cannot wait to go back!

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Another place we found with great seafood – The Local Grill & Scoop
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Absolutely divine creamy, clam chowder at The Local Grill and Scoop
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Crab cakes at The Local Grill and Scoop
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An energetic, little photo bomber – haha!

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Trekking the Peaks of Colorado

The state of Colorado is graced with beauty unsurpassed by many states within the USA. This western state is graced with a landscape full of valleys, mountains, lakes, plateaus, deserts, and rushing rivers. Needless to say, Colorado has it all, especially if you’re keen to get outside!

There is no shortage when it comes to activities for the outdoor/extreme sports junkie, including mountain climbing, white-water rafting, SUP, and of course snow skiing/snowboarding.

I am sharing with you our experience hiking some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado, during summer and winter months…and, of course, with our trusted k-9 companion, Olive, the shiba inu.

Exploring the craggy mountains a/k/a ‘Rocky Mountains’ requires a certain level of physical and mental strength. Many of the tallest mountains “14ers” as they are called, allow for the most breathtaking scenery and photo opps (photos below).

Side note here: as with many geological/natural/environmental questions, those who are interested tend to argue – this is the case with the ‘true’ number of 14ers. There is an ongoing debate as to exactly how many 14ers truly exist in Colorado. As per the Colorado Geological Survey, there are 58 peaks which exceed 14,000 ft. in elevation. So, we’ll go with this number for now . . .58 it is!

While most all 14ers are indeed difficult to summit for even the most experienced mountaineer, there are several [14ers] which are, for the most part, ‘family friendly’, including Grays Peak,¬†Mt. Bierstadt, Mt. Democrat, Mt. Evans, and Mt. Sherman, all of which are above 14,000 ft (4,267 meters) in elevation. And yes, it’s difficult to breathe where the air is rarified! Note ‘family friendly’ assumes the hiker is in moderate-good physical and mental health.

For more information on the above-mentioned four 14ers, visit www.14ers.com. This website is chock-full of helpful information such as up-to-date mountain weather reports, route maps, photos, and trip review. Check it out!

Below are a handful of our favorite photographs which we took during our adventures backpacking/trekking/climbing in beautiful Colorado. As with any journey, one must be equipped with the right gear. For the majority of the hikes we have done in Colorado, and surrounding states in the USA, we have been incredibly pleased with gear from Kathmandu (check them out by clicking the following link HERE) – Enjoy!

Grays Peak

Elevation: 14,270 ft. / 4,350 meters

See MAP HERE

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Grays Peak: near the trailhead. Crystal clear waters one will pass whilst trekking through this beautiful Rocky Mountain land!
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Grays Peak: yes, there are wildflowers. . . and lots of them!
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Grays Peak: Olive just taking in the beauty surrounding us as we begin our trek towards the mountain
Olive 1 Gray's Peak
Grays Peak: Olive and I just getting warmed up for this hike!

 

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Grays Peak: view from the lowlands below the summit
olive and i atop gray's peak in snow
Grays Peak: Nearing the saddle between Grays and Torreys Peaks…Olive telling me to “move quicker!”
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Grays Peak: the ‘saddle’ which connects two 14ers, being Grays & Torreys and is at¬†13,707¬†ft (4,178¬†m). One can summit both 14ers during the same hike if weather & strength permits! We submitted Gray’s only which is 14,270 ft / 4,350 meters.
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Grays Peak: resting on summit with fellow mountaineers before descending
Friends atop Gray's Peak
Grays Peak: hanging out on summit with a team hiking the Continental Divide trail, which extends from Mexico all the way to Canada and runs 3,100 miles / 5,000 km. The Continental Divide trail¬†follows¬†along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five states ‚ÄĒ Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico
Friend standing on craggy peak on Gray's peak
Grays Peak: friend showing off his rock climbing skills. They don’t call the Rockies ‘rocky’ for nothing.

 

Mt. Sherman

Elevation: 14,036 ft. / 4,278 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Sherman: Olive and I making headway as we climb – what a view we had!
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Mt. Sherman: scrambling up the craggy rock face of this mountain. . .Olive is a trooper!
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Mt. Sherman: Nearing the summit. A view of the route behind me
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Mt. Sherman: Fellow dog and their masters – making new friends
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Mt. Sherman: Olive feeling quite proud after having reached summit! 
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Mt. Sherman
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Mt. Sherman: On summit…chowing down on a banana with Olive!
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Mt. Sherman: Fellow mountaineers on summit
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Mt. Sherman: On summit…just a ridiculously photogenic dog!
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Mt. Sherman: Cairn letting Olive and I know we had reached the summit

Mt. Quandry

Elevation: 14,265 ft. / 4,347 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Quandry: stunningly beautiful!
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Mt. Quandary: mountain goat checking us out as we hike upwards to the summit

Mt. Democrat

Elevation: 14,148 ft. / 4,349 meters

See MAP HERE

 

 

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Mt. Democrat: view of the valley below as we climb closer to the summit
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Mt. Democrat: olive nearing the summit, before her masters, as usual!
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Mt. Democrat: cairn on summit
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Mt. Democrat: we’ve made it to the summit!¬†

 

 

Mt. Bierstadt

Elevation: 14,060 ft. / 4,285 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Bierstadt: us after just having trekked across the lowlands (in background). Now on the trail which leads to the summit!
MT. Bierstadt view from Mt. Evans. Mt. B was the first 14er we accomplished summit
Mt. Bierstadt: view of the summit (which we reached)

Mt. Evans

Elevation: 14,264 ft. / 4,347 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Evans: checking out fellow hikers and tourists before embarking on the route to the summit!
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Mt. Evans: Olive and Josh – geared up and hiking towards the trailhead
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Mt. Evans: the classic ‘fly’ pose overlooking Summit Lake
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Mt. Evans: one of the many mountain goats which threatened to charge (just threatened)

 

His final look before he charged..
Mt. Evans: mountain goats

 

Even near the cities of Denver and Boulder one can find beautiful half-day to full-day hikes, such as these pictured below.

Josh resting with kathmandu backpack

Indian Peaks Wilderness Trail - Josh and olive kathmandu hiking backpack
Indian Wilderness – near Boulder, Colorado

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Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park: the elk bulls were not at all shy
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Taking in the sights of Boulder ‘open space’
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Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park: hiking over Bear Lake (yes, under the foot of snow and ice there is a lake)

 

Bavaria : Neuschwanstein to Lake K√∂nigssee

After a grueling 5 hour 260 mile/420 km drive from Frankfurt, Germany to Hohenschwangau, Germany, near the town of F√ľssen,¬†located in the southwestern region of Bavaria, bordering Austria, we finally were able to gaze upon the magnificent castles which we had set out to discover – Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau. Both just a glorious as all photographs we’d seen prior to arrival. The day was bluebird – not a cloud in the sky to shield the view of these magnificent structures. It was a perfect day, minus the few dozen tour buses on our tail as we walked to the horse-drawn carriage. Luckily, we had beat the crowd and were able to hop on the horse-drawn carriage in a short amount of time and were on our way up the driveway of Neuschwanstein!

Of course, while traveling anywhere, especially in/around the Bavarian Alps, one must be prepared with all essentials, notably your backpack! For us, the Cotopaxi Luzon 18 L Del Dia day pack is a perfect choice to hold everything one needs for this type of travel! Check out Cotopaxi and their gear by CLICKING HERE. Cotopaxi is fine group who use those leftover scraps of fabric to create their wonderful masterpiece jackets, backpacks, and more. Perfect for, well, any type of traveling and proven to be solid products that last even through the harshest elements. They even insulate their jackets using llama fiber – how cool is that?!

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Hohenschwangau, Germany (View from hotel Alpen Stuben)
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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Castle Hohenschwangau
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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View from one of the main balconies of Neuschwanstein Castle

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Day 2:  Departing Hohenschwangau

After a great night’s rest and departing Hohenschwangau, we embarked on the next leg of our journey towards Ramsau, Germany. The beautiful route we took, part of which was via the famous German Alpine Road¬†(Deutschen Alpenstra√üe), provided us distant views of the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle resting on the mountain side, as well as the baroque-style church pictured above. Saying goodbye to this region of Bavaria was difficult, however we anticipated with excitement what extraordinary places lay ahead!

The drive to Ramsau took all of 3.5 hrs (140 miles), and took us through towns such as Bad Tolz, Waakirchen, and Miesbach, before reaching the final town of the¬†Deutschen Alpenstra√üe, being Inzell. Upon reaching Inzell, we continued a short distance further down windy, narrow roads through towering alpine trees until we reached the tucked-away most extraordinary town of Ramsau, Germany (see our blog post “Ramsau“). Ramsau is a village worth an entire blog post!

Below are a few photos of Ramsau, including the seldom witnessed/explored Church of Saint Sebastian.

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Playing in the Alps!

Ramsau to Lake Königssee

The drive from Ramsau to Lake¬†K√∂nigssee is short, a mere 30 minutes to be exact. Lake K√∂nigssee (or K√∂nigsee) lies a couple of miles south of the town of Berchtesgaden and boasts to be Germany’s deepest and cleanest lake.¬†Most of the lake is within the Berchtesgaden National Park.

To properly experience this Lake and all it offers, one must embark on the electric boat which glides across the water to the baroque-style pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomä, located on a peninsula about halfway down the western lake shore.

IMG_9146Backing up to the electric boat ride: during the approximate 45 minute drift to St. Bartholom√§, the guests aboard the vessel will witness the echo-creating rock walls which surround portions of the Lake. “Echo-creating” rock walls which allow for the trumpeter aboard to play his flugelhorn¬†to demonstrate just how “echo-creating” the rock walls really are. The flugelhorn melody reverberates up to seven times! It seems as if there are seven trumpeters, rather than just the one (just an interesting side note).

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Arrival at the dock to visit the pilgrimage church of St. BartholomäIMG_9158
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Lake Königssee
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Taking a break at the on-site M√ľnchner Hofbr√§uhaus

Another side note/word of caution: due to the steep shore of Lake Königssee, St. Bartholomä and the southern edge can only be reached by boat, or via hiking trails up the surrounding mountains. The only exception to this is during harsh winters when the Lake freezes over Рbut of course with any frozen lake, caution is advised! Stepping on the frozen Lake, could result in a very, very cold bath, or worse. This happened in 1964 when a motorist thought it might be safe to drive his Volkwagen Beetle across the Lake to reach St. Bartholomä. The Beetle was found in 1997 at a depth of 100 m (330 ft). So, in short Рdo not walk (or drive) on frozen lakes!

To end our journey in Bavaria, we took a hike along the Konigsee + Obersee , Parque Nacional de Berchtesgaden trail. Such natural beauty surrounding our every step as we ventured into the alpine forest.

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Slovenia : Part 2 – Piran

It rained on us during the two hour drive from Lake Bled to our next destination – Piran, Slovenia. The weather was gloomy, but as we neared Piran, the clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the sun shone brightly. Our hearts started racing with excitement and adrenaline – a feeling I always get when arriving at a new place I’ve never seen before. We danced and sang along in the car to the “LaLa Land” movie soundtrack, to a song called, “Another Day of Sun.” Perfectly fitting. Vineyards and olive tree groves dotted the hillsides as we finally reached what would become one of my most favorite places in the world . . . Piran.

 

As we entered into the village of Piran, one could feel that this place was full of charm. Fishing boats swayed back and forth in the small harbor, tempting one to step onto one of the boats and go explore the beauty of the sea.

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We reached our beautiful accommodation, Hotel Piran, that sat perfectly next to the Adriatic Sea. A classy, sophisticated hotel, we were supremely impressed, especially by the warm, friendly faces greeting us at the front desk. Our jaws dropped when we walked into our room and saw the breathtaking view of the blue sea from our private balcony. The sea was surprisingly still as glass, and there were a few people out on kayaks and SUPs, enjoying the calm waters.

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We ate a delicious lunch on the patio of the hotel’s restaurant, soaking up the sun’s rays and being enthralled by the beauty of the sea and of this ancient village.

Piran Pez Trolls

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Then, it was time for exploring. I’m not too fond of group tours, and so, instead, we found our own way discovering Piran. Tartini Square evoked a sense of wonder within me, as I love town squares because you could spend hours just people watching and letting time slow down.

Piran

My favorite part was wandering the streets and deserted alleyways and feeling wonderfully lost. We didn’t know where we were going – no map or compass to guide us, just our feet and hearts telling us where to go.

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We climbed the stairs up to Piran’s old town walls (dating back to the 7th century) and looked in wonder at the red-tile roofs below us. It felt like we were in Croatia and Italy all at the same time. Above us stood the old bell tower, which invited me to climb its stairs. I felt giddy at the prospect of conquering any fears of heights or claustrophobic spaces, and imagined the feeling I would have if I were brave and climbed despite my fears. And so, I did it! Climbing the 147 steps to the top of the Cathedral of St. George’s bell tower was nerve wracking, as the old wooden stairs would creak with each step you took. Adrenaline kept me going and the panoramic view of Piran and of the Adriatic Sea made the daunting climb worth every step.

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Piran - view of city pano from Tower

Piran - view of city from tower 2

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I will never forget our time in Piran, a truly off the beaten path place. It stole my heart!

 

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Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.

~Isabelle Eberhardt