This Monday Justin and his dad launched off on a 7,000+ motorbike trip from California/Washington up to the Arctic Circle in Alaska and back again. This trip has been a long time in the making. Justin and his dad love to ride and have been planning on doing an epic motorbike trip together for years. When they first started talking about it his parents were living in Africa and so they were going to ride Cape Town to Cairo. When they moved back to the US a few years ago, Justin and his dad decided to ride to Alaska instead due to logistics.
The San Juan Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Washington state, are the perfect place to get your Pacific Northwest fix. The lush forested islands and surrounding ocean are the perfect place to cycle, kayak, hike, nature watch, camp, or chill in a cabin. A few weeks ago Justin and I met some friends on Shaw Island and engaged in all of the above activities. If you end up taking a trip to the San Juan Islands, here are our top five picks of things to do.
Death Valley is a fascinating national park that often gets overlooked, probably partly due to its close proximity to Yosemite and the fact that it's a desert. It's well worth a visit though. Here's our guide on what to see + do in one day in Death Valley.
Last weekend was destined for an epic adventure - long weekend, my birthday, and both of us off work. For us, three days off is a rare treat that must be fully utilized, so we busted out a map and decided to research everything in an eight hour radius to find the perfect place for a grand adventure. Yellowstone National Park happened to fall within that radius, and having never been, I immediately decided it was the place. Best decision ever. We only had two days in the park, but we felt like we saw a lot, so I'm going to share our itinerary in case you want to do your own mad dash to Yellowstone.
Lake Tahoe has to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. I've been to some places that didn't live up to their hype (in my opinion at least), but Tahoe really is as awesome as everyone claims, despite the crowds. The first time I visited was during a road trip to California in our Sprinter van, and I immediately knew that the half day we spent there wasn't near enough time. This month, we finally got the chance to visit again in yet another road trip in our Sprinter. I think the lake was almost more beautiful the second time around and I've decided that it's a US road trip must.
Last weekend we took an amazing, whirlwind 1,000+ mile trip up through the Canadian Rockies. We only had three days but time limits have never stopped us before - we seem to think we have boundless energy and actually like being cramped in cars for hours on end. Apparently, our friend Sarah feels the same way because she's joined us for a number of our crazy rapid fire adventures and decided to fly up and join us once again.
Just got back from a much needed trip to the San Juan Islands. I say much needed because a) we're always antsy to travel and b) this trip was the first vacation Justin's gotten in the six months since he started his residency program. Bummer that it was just one week, but we'll take that over no break at all! A week is too short for an international trip (at least in our opinion) and so we looked closer to home and chose the San Juan Islands, located off the coast of Washington.
We left Friday evening and drove up to Leavenworth (WA) which is the nearest town to the Enchantments. The Enchantments is not a loop, so it can be hiked either direction from two different trailheads. We decided to hike straight into the Upper Enchantments via the Stuart Lake trailhead since this route reduces the total elevation gain by 2,600 ft. The bad part is that you have to climb Aasgard Pass, which rises 1,900 ft in less than a mile. Regardless of which route you take, to reach even one lake the minimum price is a seven mile hike with at least a 4,400 ft elevation gain. The Enchantments are not for the faint of heart.
This October we had the privilege of backpacking part of the Enchantments, a series of alpine lakes located in Washington. They were so magnificent that we decided to compile a list of tips to encourage other people to get out and experience them!
This weekend, instead of grilling corn and watching fireworks for Fourth of July, we headed to Mt. Rainier National Park to backpack. We were originally going to explore Glacier National Park but I had a bit of a fit when I read that berries were peaking along the best backpacking loops leading to near daily grizzly sightings. Don't get me wrong - I don't want any animals to go extinct - but I was happy to read that it is believed that there are no longer any grizzly bears in the Mt. Rainier region. When it comes to bears and cougars I'm very faint of heart. In our usual style we arrived in the park at 2:00 AM and slept for a few hours in a parking lot. Around 6:00 AM we began our "sit in front of the ranger station hoping to score a walk in trailhead permit" vigil.
Shortly after we moved to California for Justin to attend medical school, we found ourselves on the cusp of a highly coveted long weekend with no plans. As we sat on the bed discussing what a crime it would be to waste the weekend without having any adventure, a plan began to emerge. We would go to Yosemite to backpack. That night. It was already evening and the drive would be six hours so there was no time to hesitate.
When we moved to California a few years ago our first local trip was a five day drive up Big Sur - a sparsely populated coastal region of central California. The decision was spontaneous and we left with a full tank of gas and no plans except that we wanted to camp. Still driving at 3:00 am the first day with no place to camp in site made us wonder if we'd been a little foolish.
When one of my co-workers mentioned he and his girlfriend were going to climb Mt. San Gorgonio and asked if I was interested, I was all in. After living for a year in Southern California, Justin and I still hadn't really adventured into the San Bernardino Mountains, preferring instead to head up to Northern California. But we could see San Gorgonio from our main street for crying out loud, so were keen to finally go and check it out.
We have two days off... where should we go? Zion National Park is only six hours away. Sweet, we should go there. We can drive for half a day and then have a full afternoon and morning of adventure. Okay, let's start packing. And that's how we ended up on a short but exhilarating trip to Zion last fall. How we convinced two friends to accompany us for twelve hours of driving for a day of fun I don't now, but we did. I guess we have some pretty cool friends.
We've been fortunate enough to live just an hour from Joshua Tree National Park for the last three years. Even if you're not into the desert the draw of Joshua Tree is magnetic with its bizarre rock formations that form a million passageways and nooks to scramble up, over, and through. And of course if you climb then it's rather legendary.
We finally had three days off work at the same time. Definitely ready for a little adventure! We thew some gear together and headed six hours north to our favorite part of California. Hello Yosemite National Park. Yes, it may get congested with tour buses and families eating ice-cream, but it is also a backpackers paradise!