DADOA: Day Three

Saturday we played among the trees for a bit and then headed south. We stopped at Confusion Hill for a little fun in the gravity house. We drove through the Marin Headlands and Liz got her first view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We ended the evening at the Warfield in downtown San Francisco were we watched the Lil Smokies and Greensky Bluegrass jam out. 


Sasquatch loves the redwoods




Tree Huggers




Draw a Dick on America: Day One

6 months ago, two of my good friends and I started talking about doing a road trip from Seattle to St. Cloud, Minnesota where we’d all live for the winter. We wouldn’t just drive straight over, we’d stop and visit friends, hit up as many National parks as possible, and essentially go wherever we felt like going. 

We spent months looking at maps and atlases, picked out our favorite bucket list locations, drafted a budget, and created a route that Liz decided kind of looked like a penis. And that brings us up to speed. Three women driving for 30 days in one small car. This is our journey:


We set out from Seattle and drove down to Portland, OR and stayed with some friends in their lovely home, visited the famous Powells city of books, had some damn fine happy hour, and went to a night club for a little karaoke. 
Our amazing hosts, Shala and Caleb:



 

Hannegan Pass

​I spent the last few days backpacking through Hannegan pass outside Glacier, Washington with 7 of the loveliest women I know. We enjoyed almost nonstop views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. The weather was perfect and the view from the toilet was stunning. 

Concrete, WA Population: 712

Yesterday I waved goodbye to the Emerald City once again and made my way back to Orcas Island to start my new job. On my way to the Anacortes Ferry, I made a slight detour East on Highway 20 to the small town of Concrete, WA. I won’t lie to you, I had no idea this town existed until I saw it on a television show. I thought it looked like a charming place and I wanted to see it for myself. Concrete is a very lovely town, surrounded by the Skagit River and nestled in the Northern Cascades. As you pull into town, you’re greeted by a giant silo structure welcoming you. The town proper is just one small main strip with a few old buildings. The High School is built on an overpass so that you can essentially drive right through it. The highlight of the trip for me was the Lower Baker Dam and the lake it holds back, Lake Shannon. I stood on the overlook of the Dam for a good 30 minutes just listening to the water and a group of  Eagles that were swooping and diving below me. Then I drove up a very rough road to the lake above, passing by many roadside waterfalls on the way. I walked around the lake and was soon joined by a local woman and her two scraggly dogs. I was only there for a couple of hours, but it was a great little road trip in a beautiful place.

IMG_4005IMG_4008IMG_4012IMG_4013IMG_4014IMG_4032

IMG_4043

Lower Baker Dam

IMG_4045

Lower Baker Dam

IMG_4051IMG_4058

IMG_4063

Lake Shannon

Adventures in Unemployment

Three months ago I was sitting on a bench in Lincoln City, Oregon staring at the Pacific Ocean and thinking about my future. I had just said goodbye to my coworkers at Outdoor School and was thinking ahead to my plans for hiking the Appalachian Trail in the spring. The plan: go home, visit my family for the holidays, find a part time job, save a little money for food and supplies, and then go hike the A.T. in March with a friend from Colorado. You know what they say about “the best laid plans”? You do, and so do I. The friend that was to be my hiking partner on the AT bailed on the trip in December due to a gross lack of planning even though we’d been discussing this trip for nearly 7 months. If anyone wants to know why I have trust issues, this is why. Despite my frustration, I think I’ve dodged a bullet. You don’t want to be out in the backcountry with someone that can’t stick to a plan, that’s how you die. So, I stopped reading about bear attacks and water purifiers and starting reading my “Washington State Handbook for Unemployed Workers.”

I was (as much as a person can be) prepared for the physical and mental stress of hiking 2,200 miles, sleeping on the ground, cooking all my meals on an MSR stove, and pooping in the woods for 5 months, but I was not prepared for the soul-sucking task of trying to get approved for unemployment benefits. If you ever want to test your patience and will, try calling unemployment every day for two months and being told by a robot that: “the call volume is too high, please try again later.” I can deal with hours of terrible hold music, but I can’t deal with being told by a bunch of ones and zeros that I have to try again later, every single time I call. I think this was mostly a result of trying to call during the holidays (just don’t ever do this to yourself). Without any other options, I kept calling and in January I finally got a human on the phone to help me.

200_s

Don’t worry you guys; this is not a sob story. This is a story with a happy ending. While I was dealing with all the unemployment nonsense, I was also applying for jobs left and right. And guess what? I actually got too many job offers.

As of March 4th, I will officially stop being an unemployed worker and will be returning to Orcas Island to hang out with kids at Camp Orkila. I am so excited to board that Ferry in Anacortes and go back to paradise.

And the best part of this tale? In June I will be going to Maine to work as a Wilderness Trip Leader where I will get to, wait for it….get paid to hike sections of the Appalachian trail with kids, including Mount Katahdin, the final peak and finish line for Northbound thru-hikers of the A.T.

Pretty cool right? I think so. It’s been a tough couple of months, but soon I will be back to doing what I love and my adventures in unemployment will be a distant memory.

I leave you with this:

 

 

Oregonized

Five years ago I went to the Oregon coast and I fell in love with it. This Fall I had the opportunity to live there while working at Outdoor School; a daily view of the Pacific Ocean just outside my window. I spent my weekends camping in Lincoln City, exploring Portland, and took a weekend trip with a friend to visit Crater Lake. My time in Oregon was short, but sweet.

My home: Westwind

IMG_3807 copyIMG_3800 copyIMG_3801 copyIMG_3798 copyIMG_3782 copyIMG_3726 copyIMG_3820 copy

IMG_3769 copy

My favorite spot in Portland: The Field

IMG_3854 copy

Portland

IMG_3833 copy

Crater Lake

IMG_3863 copyIMG_3898 copyIMG_3978 copyIMG_3974 copyIMG_3940 copyIMG_3932 copyIMG_3924 copyIMG_3871 copyIMG_3869 copy

Mt. Thielsen near Crater Lake

IMG_3857 copy

Wonderland

While camping with some friends in Sequim, WA last 4th of July, I met an amazing 13 year old named Bailey. Bailey was bursting at the seams with excitement about the beauty she saw all around her in the world. We stood on the bluffs overlooking the Straight of Juan de Fuca and she said to me: “Do you know what I call this place? I call it Wonderland!”There is no better way to describe the Pacific Northwest, it is truly a wonderland of unparalleled beauty. The San Juan Islands are no exception and I once again find myself marveling at how I came to live in such a beautiful place. I have been spending my days paddling throughout the islands, camping under the stars, watching ferries go by and tides come in and out, walking through dense forests, mingling with locals, singing over campfires, and loving every minute of this island life.

Washington State Ferry and Mt. Baker from Blind Island

IMG_3189

IMG_3211

The sunset from Blind Island

IMG_3196

IMG_3195

View of Mt. Baker from the top of Mt. Constitution, Orcas IslandIMG_3228

IMG_3252

Sucia Island from Mt. ConstitutionIMG_3244

Buck Bay shellfish farm, Orcas Island   IMG_3257

Doe Bay, Orcas Island

IMG_3261 IMG_3273

Spencer Spit State Park, Lopez IslandIMG_3291 IMG_3298 IMG_3300 IMG_3308 IMG_3310 IMG_3311 IMG_3322 IMG_3336 IMG_3358

Greetings From the San Juans

It’s been an extremely eventful first week in the San Juan Islands. I arrived at Orcas Island, got acquainted with the property, and met the rest of the trip staff team. Together, we journeyed via sailboat to some of the nearby islands. We learned the basics of sailing, how to read currents and tide charts, how to tie knots and hang tarps. We also learned what happens when seven strong willed and outspoken leaders get stuck rowing for hours on end in a small boat against the currents and shifting winds. Despite the hardships, it was an incredible trip. On our third day, we hiked out to the Turn Point lighthouse on Stuart Island and had the privilege of witnessing two pods of orcas swim by, some no more than 50 feet from where we were standing. For many of us, this was the first time ever seeing these amazing animals and it was an incredible thing to experience our first week out. We are back on Orcas now and planning our first trips of the season which will head out on Wednesday. More to come soon.

IMG_3145 IMG_3114 IMG_3120 IMG_3126 IMG_3106 IMG_3099 IMG_3108 IMG_3092 IMG_3061 IMG_3077 IMG_3103

The Heart of the World

Colorado is truly the Wild West. It is an astonishingly immense and majestic state and I am so glad I have been able to call it my home this winter and spring. Although I have spent most of my time here in the Fraser Valley, I have had the opportunity to travel around a large portion of the state and see the wide range of beauty in the peaks and plains, mountain ranges and deserts of this incredibly diverse place.

Some places I’ve gone and some things I’ve seen:

Snow Mountain Ranch

Granby, CO

This place has been my home for the last four months and will be until I leave in mid May. As the seasons begin to change, I am watching the landscape transform from a winter wonderland to a beautiful spring in the mountains. More and more is appearing from underneath the snow everyday. This place has so much natural beauty and I will sorely miss these trees and mountains when I leave.

2015-02-13 21.26.54

2015-03-22 00.03.53 2015-03-21 23.58.57

Kremling, CO

Kremling is just a short drive away from my home and has been a thoroughfare to many other places on my many adventures. On my way through to visit Steamboat Springs a few weeks ago, we saw a giant bald eagle resting on a fence post. We stopped to observe him for a bit and eventually watched him take flight.

 Untitled_HDR2 IMG_2557 IMG_2559 copy

Mount Whitely,

Oustide of Kemling, CO

I have renamed this peak Baby Matterhorn, because it always reminds me of a tiny version of the Swiss monstrosity.

2015-03-01 03.15.53

Arapaho National Forest, CO

Veiw of mountains in the Arapaho National Forest on the way to Vail, CO.

2015-03-11 22.04.11

Glenwood Canyon,

Glenwood Springs, CO

This was at a rest stop halfway through one of the prettiest stretches of highway I have ever driven on. For 12.5 miles, you drive through towering canyon walls alongside the Colorado River.

2015-03-12 00.01.15 2015-03-11 23.58.47

Hanging Lake

Glenwood Springs, CO

Just a short drive from the Glenwood Canyon rest stop is the trail for Hanging Lake. This hike was only a mile up into the mountains, but with the snow and ice it was a difficult climb and an even more difficult journey down. It was well worth the trek though; Hanging Lake is an untouched oasis of natural beauty.

Not a joke.

2015-03-12 03.39.31

View of Glenwood Canyon from the top of the trail

2015-03-12 01.50.08

3/4 mark. One of the few non icy spots on the whole trail.

2015-03-12 01.25.36

The lake water was so pristine and such a beautiful color.

2015-03-12 01.54.18 2015-03-12 01.52.01 2015-03-12 01.54.02

2015-03-12 02.21.44

The Falls

2015-03-12 02.02.29 2015-03-12 01.59.19 2015-03-12 02.07.47

This chipmunk was quite friendly and had found some leftover bread to stuff into his cheeks.

  2015-03-12 02.12.01

The Stellers Jays were also quite friendly.

2015-03-12 02.20.46

A small cave we found along the trail.

2015-03-12 01.37.14

Not sure what this was built for, but I liked it.

2015-03-12 01.34.17

Telluride, Co

Telluride is a gorgeous little ski town 12,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains. We didn’t spend too much time here, but it was a nice visit and I would love to go back sometime.

View of the San Juan Mountains and Downtown Telluride

2015-03-13 22.18.55

2015-03-13 22.23.36

2015-03-13 22.23.53 copy

Dinosaur Hill

Fruita, CO

This is the dig site of an Apatosaurus discovered in 1900. Spend an afternoon here and you can easily imagine dinosaurs making their home in this place.

2015-03-12 23.17.30 2015-03-12 23.45.29 2015-03-12 23.19.44

2015-03-12 23.29.43 2015-03-12 23.48.47

The Colorado National Monument

Fruita, CO

This is by far my favorite place in Colorado. None of the pictures can do justice to the grand nature of this place. People, buildings, cars, and even the entire city of Grand Junction are dwarfed by the magnitude of this ancient place. The monument is 20,500 acres of massive canyons cut deep into granite and sandstone rock formations. The landscape is comprised of beautiful red dirt and rocks, gnarled juniper trees and a wide array of wildlife including: ravens, canyon wrens, coyotes and bighorn sheep. John Otto first explored the monument in the early 20th century. Before he explored the park, settlers in the Grand Junction area believed the canyons to be inaccessible to humans. He began building trails and is responsible for getting the monument made into a National Park, and in 1911 became the parks’ first ranger. He was the first person to climb independence monument and eventually married his sweetheart at the bottom of it. This guy and I are definitely kindred spirits and I am so grateful for the love and work he put into this beautiful place.

“I found these canyons, and they felt like the heart of the world to me.”

Entrance to the Monument.

2015-03-12 06.35.59

2015-03-12 06.34.43

2015-03-13 00.08.46

Independence Monument, Monument Canyon

2015-03-13 03.58.00

Alternate views of Monument Canyon

2015-03-13 01.33.34 2015-03-13 01.32.26 2015-03-13 01.05.29

Window Rock with a view of Grand Junction in the background

2015-03-13 01.11.16

Juniper Trees

2015-03-13 01.03.39 2015-03-13 01.06.42 2015-03-12 06.39.49

Raven, Redlands View

2015-03-13 00.22.10

Balanced Rock

2015-03-13 00.09.35

Mountain Blue Bird

2015-03-13 02.11.46 2015-03-13 02.22.05

A few of the many beautiful plants we saw.

2015-03-13 02.48.48

2015-03-13 00.34.17

The closer I get to the end of my contract, the more I look back on these adventures and think about how much I will truly miss Colorado. I already have so many fond memories of my time here in this beautiful place with all the incredible people I have met. If you haven’t spent much time in Colorado, I highly recommend you make time to visit.