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Roughing It in the Great Outdoors September 2, 2008

Camping: nature’s way of promoting the motel industry.  ~Dave Barry, Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need

Hee hee hee…


My Top 10 Camping Favorites List:

10. Not doing my hair and loving it 

9. The crackling noises of a campfire

8. People-watching while floating down a river (entertainment at its finest!)

7. Feeling chilly at night, so the sleeping bag actually feels warm and cozy

6. Hot dogs with lots of ketchup

5. Crawdads and minnows

4. Campsites with real restrooms and showers

3. The chirps of crickets and secadas in stereo surround-sound

2. S’mores…yum!

1. The star-studded sky


Camping over Labor Day weekend was really a great time with friends, the great outdoors and a few special guests, the Sun Chip-Loving Crawdad and the Scary-Camouflaged-Campsite-Buddy, Baby Copperhead! Yikes!

We had two rafts for nine people down the Current River near Eminence, Missouri. I don’t have any photos to show for it — I wasn’t really into risking my camera’s life for a few shots. :)

We armed our campsite with citronella candles, mosquito coils, bug spray and campfire to keep away the pesky bugs…I think I only came home with one mosquito bite! A record!

We also visited Alley Springs, a natural spring that boasts a daily average flow of 81 million gallons of water! The water was so clear and so blue…unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Missouri.

The group (minus me): Jeff, Andrew, Dennis,  Jennifer, Brett, Adam, Suzannah and Steven!

Jeff and Jennifer peering through the windows of an old school house near the springs…I don’t think Jeff knew Jennifer was there… :)

The group (with me, minus Brett):

Thanks for a fun weekend…let’s do it again next year! :)

I’m checking off #72 in my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days!


Lighthouses of Washington August 28, 2008

Nothing brings up feelings of the coast like images of a lighthouse. They are so picturesque, jutting up from an already gorgeous coastline to provide a nightlight. It’s as if they’re telling ships at sea that it’s okay to be afraid of the dark — the lighthouse keeper will provide the light. :)

Once we were in Washington state, we visited the North Head lighthouse, which was once run by three families of light keepers, who had to share duties because the work was so grueling. The lighthouse provided light at the entrance to the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean.

Along the trail to the lighthouse, we saw this…completely unplanned…”taste the rainbow,” anyone? :) This proved even more to me that Oregon is a little bit of heaven on earth. ;)

The details at North Head lighthouse were really cool:

Cape Disappointment provided the next lighthouse — it was quite a trek uphill, downhill, and through the woods to get there, but it was worth it! I can’t imagine what lighthouse keepers did so long ago, before walking trails were all created…I guess they created them for us. Thanks, lighthouse keepers! :)

Way down below the Cape Disappointment lighthouse is Dead Man’s Cove. Piles and piles of driftwood were washed up on the shore, flanked on both sides by straight rocky cliffs. The water had this gorgeous blue-to-green gradient. It was incredible to stand down and feel so small, looking up at the ridge where we had stood just minutes before.

Look how tiny my dad looks next to the rocks and trees!

If you ever get to visit this area of the country, visit these lighthouses. The lighthouses are cool themselves, but the views and surrounding beauty are simply incredible.


Astoria: Home of The Goonies, Lewis and Clark and the Coast Guard :)


I’ve always wanted to visit a coastal fishing village. I’ve also always dreamed about living in a 3-story Victorian beauty on a mountainside. In Astoria, Oregon, it seems like everyone already has that dream fulfilled.

Astoria is perhaps most famous for being the hometown of the house from The Goonies. It’s also apparently the location of lots of scary movies…which I, obviously, have never seen.

Aside from its cinematic fame, Astoria offered breathtaking views in every direction from atop a peak in the middle of the city, where the Astoria Column sits, commemorating Lewis and Clark’s voyage west. It’s a really cool artistic monument, with their entire story portrayed in images. Plus, the view of the Columbia River dividing Oregon and Washington is pretty great!

Look how small we are compared to the monument!

The Coast Guard also docks some of their working ships here…pretty cool!

So, we didn’t go hunting for the Goonies house, but we found more treasures along the way!


Getting my feet wet: Oregon, part 2

Staring out across the vast oceanic expanse, watching the waves roll in…couples strolling, adventurers skim-boarding, kids building sandcastles nearby. Had I found it? Maybe this really was a little piece of heaven on earth.

And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than breathing in this fresh ocean air, I turned around, greeted by another vast expanse of mountaintops, looming in the distance. Highlighted by low-hanging clouds, the mountains looked as majestic as the ocean to the west.

Ahhhh, the Oregon coastline.

I am still in awe of the natural wonder and beauty of that part of the country. I love the relaxed, easy-going feel of the coastal towns — my favorite, Cannon Beach, was this quieter, quaint town filled with art galleries, bakeries and eateries of every sort. The most entertaining, Seaside, provided a fun carnival-like atmosphere and was filled with families and candy shops galore (for anyone who knows me well, you’ll understand why this is an exciting fact for me!). This is by far my favorite coastline.

Jeff found all sorts of interesting things to amuse himself and scare me with… :)

We saw so many dogs playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean…we’re not sure if Petey would be up for the challenge, but we wished he was there with us for sure.

This trip help me complete several tasks on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. The most awesome thing about creating a list like that is it encourages you to do everything you’ve been wanting to do. It’s not so much about just checking items off a list to meet a goal, but it’s about experiencing life in a way that encourages new opportunities, adventures and making the most out of every day. It’s been SO fun to take on.

First, the completion of task #71: Get my feet wet in the Pacific Ocean. I had (surprisingly) never seen the Pacific Ocean until this trip. I was so excited to see a new expanse of ocean, and even MORE excited when I realized that it far outshined any other coastal locations I’ve visited so far in my life. Jeff and I had such a fun time playing in the ocean, which was actually pretty chilly — but refreshing.

I also got to take a few portraits of my dad and Suzanne, which turned out great. This helps me get one step closer to completing number 2 on the list!

And, finally, I fulfilled number 6: Watch a sunrise. What can be better than watching the sun peek out from behind tree-lined mountains while you’re strolling along on the beach? We went out in an attempt to collect sand dollars before the seagulls crack them open.

So the Oregon coastline holds a piece of my heart. I think I’m still dreaming about it.

(more to come still…stay tuned for Washington lighthouses!)


Portland, Oregon August 27, 2008

Okay, close your eyes. No, wait…keep reading…but let’s pretend for the sake of this little exercise that your eyes are closed. Now, dream of your ideal destination. Is it mountainous? Filled with picturesque views of snow-capped towers of rock and evergreens? Or is it filled with both refreshing bursts of cool, misty air and treks through wooded terrain to reach the final destination — a natural waterfall, cascading down the side of a rocky cliff? Perhaps it’s coastal, with the sounds of waves crashing, a warm breeze tickling your skin. Still, maybe you’re dreaming of a funky urban setting, full of artsy creations, diverse people and just a little bit of everything all rolled into a few city blocks.

Or…maybe it’s all of the above.

For me, it is. And that place is found in (or around) Portland, Oregon.

We visited my Dad and Suzanne in Oregon last week and had a whirlwind tour of all of the sights…and although we saw just about everything we could, I still felt so well-rested and rejuvenated.

We started our trip at the Columbia River Gorge, with this amazing view:

Close by are several natural waterfalls…incredible. I chose just a few to show you how amazing that area is. Check out this awesome bridge:

The famous Multnomah Falls. Seriously incredible! When we went on that bridge running across the middle, we were met with gusts of refreshing water!

The next day, we visited downtown Portland, which was really a lot of fun. On our next visit, I will definitely want to spend some time in the downtown districts. We visited Powell’s Books, which takes up a whole city block — very cool.

The bike rack out front has book titles related to bikes on them. I love cities with creative details like that! Portland is a very active city, with tons of bike riders (even on those crazy mountain roads!).

Our next stop was Portland’s Rose Gardens, one of the most spectacular floral displays I have ever seen! I have tons and tons of photos of the beautiful blooms!

Close to the rose garden is the Pittock Mansion, built in the early 1900s by the family who ran the newspaper in Portland. Can you believe this was built over 100 years ago?

The details inside were just fantastic. I was completely in awe the entire time, that people lived like that so long ago…well, okay, that any one family lived like that back then! This home is shocking now! Check out the great details:

Can you believe this is the view from the house? The huge windows all throughout faced the fantastic Portland skyline, mountains in the background.

Jeff and I decided we’d go ahead and move into the smaller, more quaint guest house. :)

…or…maybe we’ll settle for the mansion. :)

Everything grows in Portland. The landscaping around the mansion was incredible!

Okay…more to come. Up next, the Oregon coastline (my favorite part!) and the lighthouses of Washington state.


Budding branches April 17, 2008

Filed under: Nature — ericamay @ 10:10 pm
Tags: , ,

Spring is officially here. The thunderstorms and hail we’ve received thankfully don’t keep the beautiful trees from budding. This is my first springtime in Kansas City, and I am amazed at the number of trees that are budding in purples, pinks, white and red right now. It’s gorgeous. So far, I’ve only seen these trees during their green leaved summertime stage and their bare branched wintertime state. It’s refreshing.

During a recent trip to Loose Park, I was able capture a few quick shots of budding trees, just minutes after the sun had dipped below the horizon.