photography, road trip, saving money

16 Trips of 2016

I thought I dropped the ball when it came to travel over the past year. But after doing the near-mandatory end-of-year reflection that we should all do, I discovered that I did go on quite a few fun adventures. I may not have blogged about all these trips (hmm… maybe a New Year’s Resolution?), but I did spend the year doing other projects that cut into my time on this blog. I’m especially grateful that 2016 brought me a new car to take my adventures in, as well as a variety of jobs to keep them funded. So without further ado, here are 16 trips I took in 2016.

1. Festival of Trees


This is actually a nearby annual event held in Medford, Oregon, but something I never got to see before. I was hoping to go on some sort of Christmas trip this December, such as going to the coast to see the light displays, but I also wanted to use my funds to buy some nice Christmas gifts. I was pleased to find out that the Magdalene Home got tickets to the Festival of Trees’ Night of Giving, and especially pleased that it fell on a night that I worked! So I ended up getting to see some beautifully decorated trees and doing some fun Christmas activities… and getting paid to do it!

2. Wilderness Trails


I got to go to Wilderness Trails twice in 2016: Once for Valentine’s Day weekend, and again in October. (As you’ll see below, this is one of several trips I took more than once!) This was a mountain trip that I spent $0 to take. 2016 was definitely a year of budget travel for me, but no money doesn’t mean no fun! I went for free because I was volunteering as a leader for girls’ camps. We stayed in the lodge, played in the snow, and did fun camp-style activities. I was actually planning to go to Wilderness Trails for their open house today, but unfortunately I was struck with the flu a couple days ago and still need to recover from that. But with a work schedule change, I am planning to attend more camps next year!

3. WWII Valor in the Pacific Site


In Northern California (and I mean REALLY northern, so far north that Oregon is only a couple miles away) lies the remains of a Japanese segregation camp from WWII. The National Parks Service now hosts Camp Tulelake as well as a nearby museum. I went to the museum in August, and stopped by the camp in September. This WWII Valor in the Pacific site is also just down the road from one of my most-visited 2016 destinations…

4. Lava Beds National Monument


This spot has become my favorite getaway- I visited Lava Beds three times in the past year! The first was actually a spontaneous trip. My friend and I were planning a trip to the coast, but when I picked her up that morning, we changed our minds to take advantage of the free National Parks admission day. In fact, I went to quite a few National Parks Sites this year, and all of them were free either because I went on a fee-free day, or they were always free. I got more skilled at spelunking through the lava tubes with each subsequent trip. The second time I brought a helmet, and the third time, I attached a headlamp to that helmet. And although I visited during three different seasons, inside the caves, I enjoyed the same temperature year-round. I even got to spend the night at the campground on one of my visits, which was a good use of my new car and new hammock!

5. Table Rock


I didn’t get to hike up Table Rock as much as I would have like to in 2016, but perhaps that’s something I can change in 2017. But I do love living in an area where I can see this marvelous natural feat every day! The strenuous hike up is a good workout, and is rewarded by a bird’s eye valley view at the top!

6. Crater Lake National Park


I also got to visit this National Park three times in 2016, and each time was like visiting a new place! The only thing that was the same was the deep blue lake. During my visit in April, it was actively snowing. I only got to see the lake for a few minutes total because the fog kept it well-hidden. The second visit in August was completely clear. We drove around the lake and hiked some forest trails. The road around the lake closed up by November because the snow was back. Because the snow season just started, though, there was less of a pile-up. I also brought kids with me this time, so the highlight was playing in the winter wonderland.

7. Lassen National Volcanic Park and the Pacific Crest Trailimg_20160826_135223

Thanks to the movie “Wild”, the popularity of the PCT has increased in the past couple years. I actually didn’t see this movie until just a couple of weeks ago when I borrowed it from the library, but I knew early in the year that 2016 was the year I wanted to hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail. (Just a day hike, though!) I assumed I would be hiking in Ashland, the closest PCT access point from my home. But as summer wore on, that didn’t happen. Finally, in late August, I took advantage of the National Parks Service’s 100 birthday and took a road trip to National Parks Sites with free admission that weekend. This was my first visit to Lassen National Volcanic Park, and I loved seeing the centerpiece volcano and the up-close volcanic activity. But the highlight was discovering that the PCT went through this park. Although it was a long hike just to get out to the PCT, I was glad to have that accomplished.


8. Sundial Bridge


After visiting relatives in Northern California, I made sure to stop in two places that I always try to visit when driving through California: Corning’s The Olive Pit, and Redding. I like Redding because of its iconic Sundial Bridge. (It’s also home to Bethel Church, which I’ve never been to but think I should go sometime in 2017!) It was just after nightfall by the time I got there, which rendered the sundial pretty useless, but it was beautifully lit up. I accidentally visited the Sundial Bridge later that month. I didn’t expect my route home from Lassen to go through Redding, but when my GPS took me there anyway, I decided to stop by. Since it was earlier in the evening, this time I got to see more of Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

9. Rosie the Riveter


To be honest, I didn’t know this place in Riverside, California existed until shortly before I left on this trip. I still didn’t even know what to expect until I showed up. But since I was trying to collect as many National Park Site passport stamps as I could in 2016, I decided to stop by. It’s unusual to drive up to an industrial center to visit a National Park Site! But this is one of the locations that so many “Rosies” of WWII worked. They even had some real-life “Rosies” there the day I visited!

10. San Francisco


This was my “big” destination of the year! San Francisco is one of the closest major cities to my home, yet I had never been there before (unless you count a layover in the airport and seeing the tiny Golden Gate Bridge from my airplane window). I rode the cable car, saw the houses from Full House and Mrs. Doubtfire, walked around the piers and Fisherman’s Wharf, drove and biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, went to the Walt Disney Family Museum, and visited all of the National Parks Sites!

11. Point Reyes National Seashoreimg_20160802_083213

My summer beach trip ended up being the chilliest trip of the whole year! I’m glad I decided to spend a night here before heading into San Francisco, even though I never knew this giant seashore existed before planning my city trip. I drove out to the famous Point Reyes lighthouse, stayed in the hostel, and walked barefoot in the sand.

12. Avenue of the Giants


This was another close-to-home destination I had never experienced before! The night before, I drove south through Redwoods National Park, and stopped at Trees of Mystery to see their Paul Bunyan and Babe statues. (I didn’t actually tour the Trees of Mystery, but for Christmas I got my entire family tickets to this attraction, so that’s something that will definitely be done in 2017!) Then I spent the night in my car at a casino parking lot that offered free camping. That allowed me a full day to leisurely drive through the Avenue of the Giants and stop at each kitschy tourist trap. I drove through tree trunks, sat in the living room of a house made of one giant log, and even enjoyed the natural aspects of redwoods with a free tour at Humboldt State Park.

13. Southern California

With most of my relatives living in Southern California, I’m actually kind of surprised that I only ended up there once in 2016. But my cousin did have a beautiful wedding in Dana Point, followed by a fun reception in Newport Beach. My mom flew down early to help my grandma pack and prepare to move later in the year, but since my dad and I only drove down there on an extended weekend, we unfortunately didn’t have much time to enjoy the area, not even this gorgeous beach that we could see from the wedding locale. Still a very worthwhile trip!

14. Golden Ghost Town


There were a couple of weeks when I went to training classes in Grants Pass. I tried to take advantage of the longer commute by exploring the area around it. I visited a few historical places, the highlight being the ghost town of Golden, Oregon. The buildings are adorable, the historical markers are informative, and the surrounding area is beautiful and full of God’s creation!

15. Wildlife Safari


Last Christmas, I got my sister two tickets to Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. In March, she decided to use them for a sister outing. It was a little scary to see giant beaks near my new car! It’s been years since I last went to Wildlife Safari, and this was the first time I could remember when we were allowed to open the windows and interact with most of the animals. Of course we enjoyed plenty of other things on this daycation!

16. Gold Beach

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February doesn’t sound like a good time of year to go to the Oregon coast, but Gold Beach has a good way to bring tourists in. Each year from February through April, volunteers hide glass floats along the coastline for a treasure hunt. If you find one, you get to keep it! It was a new experience for both me and the friend I took, but I think it’s something I’ll be doing for years to come.


There were more adventures that 2016 involved, like seeing Franklin Graham in Salem, hiking to the Bigfoot Trap, Cipher Hunting, several trips to Jacksonville and Ashland, and perhaps a few trips that have currently slipped my memory. To get more ideas for past and future adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, check out the one I wrote exactly one year ago.


travel tips

Why Do People Love Snow Holidays?

My snow destination of choice is often Crater Lake National Park. It can be done as a day trip from my home, and snow is plentiful for most of the year. In fact, my most recent trip was a snow day at Crater Lake! My next snow trip will be to Wilderness Trails at the end of the month.

If you have never taken a proper ski holiday, it’s still time to experiment, and hopefully not break a leg! The heart of Europe – France, Italy, Austria and much more – has a tradition of amazing, snow-covered ski stations in which most of the population will spend at least a week every year. As the Brexit deal is not packed yet, it is still time to fly across and enjoy a proper snow holiday in the centre of one of Europe’s touristic ski stations. Don’t worry, if you are a beginner. There is definitely something for everyone, and that’s exactly why ski breaks are a favourite for many.

There Is Snow Everywhere And The Shops Are Still Open

Ski stations have one advantage over the British towns: They are not only used to snow, but they are also designed exactly for it. So, even though there may be a metre of lovely, white powder snow all over the mountain and in front of your charming wooden chalet, the roads are clear, and you can walk without risking to break a leg on the pavement. It goes even better: All the shops are open! You won’t need to survive on two packs of dried noodles. In ski stations, the snow doesn’t stop anything from working, and that is a real change. People are hyper-relaxed about it. In short, spending a week in a station will reconcile you with snow and all the logistic troubles that you might be used to associate with it.    

Snow Makes People Happy

The world is full of universal truths that help us in a day-to-day life, such as a warm cup of tea solves everything, it won’t rain if you take an umbrella with you, and snow makes everyone happy. It’s human: As soon as there is snow, people become more playful. Whether it’s a giant snowman, or a day out on skis, there is always a way to enjoy a good snow holiday, depending on what you feel more confident doing. One thing is for sure, though; the entire family will end up with the broadest grin ever on their faces. So, book a little piece of happiness for you and your family next year, with family snow holidays in Sweden, for example, or a rustic chalet in the Alps!

Picture source

There Is Always Plenty To Do For Everyone

You may be a born skier, and in that case you will consider ski stations as a giant playground. But you don’t need to love skiing to have fun in the snow! There are plenty of snow-based activities that don’t require a pair of skis, such as ice-skating, snow racket hiking (or snowshoeing for the experts), snow bike exploration, or simply enjoying a peaceful walk outside before a warm hot chocolate at the local café! You will always find something to do, so there’s no need to ditch the snow holiday with the excuse that you can’t ski. Besides, you will find sufficient ski classes for beginners to give it a good start anyway!

travel tips

Better Together: Why You Should Try A Group Holiday

It’s funny we spend all our childhoods with our mothers telling us don’t talk to strangers and now we’re advocating that you travel with a bunch of them! We know it sounds a little strange that a fully grown adult, with plenty of holidays under their belts, would want to tie themselves to people they’ve never met in a country they’ve never been to before. However, hear us out because we think you’ll change your mind!


You Can Never Make Too Many Friends

There are the standard ways of making friends, such as at school, college and at work and then there are more unique meetings such as through social media, work away days and even on planes! Human beings are very social creatures, and we love sharing our experiences with our friends, getting advice and just hanging out chatting about nothing. On a group holiday, you get the chance to make a whole bunch of brand new friends! You’ll share funny stories, visit unique places together and learn from each other’s experiences. One of the best things about group holidays is when you’re back home again, and you get together, it’s only a matter of minutes before one of your tour mates brings up something that’ll have you all reminiscing for hours!

First Times Feel More Magical

One of the reasons we travel in the first place is to share our adventures with other people, get out of our comfort zone and immerse ourselves in a country’s culture. Trying something new, overcoming a fear or fulfilling a lifelong dream is fantastic, but discovering these things as a group instantly bonds you together with the way very few other experiences can. Once you’ve all tried exotic new foods, gone dancing at a local bar or survived a trek through a creepy crawly filled rainforest there’s very little you’ll feel unable to share with the group.

Your Leader Has All The Responsibilities

Where to go? What to see? How to get there? On a group holiday, none of that is your problem as a carefully planned, yet incredibly exciting itinerary has already been mapped out. Your only job is to make sure you don’t lose everyone, easily done when inside a large temple, get back to coach on time and have the best tour possible! If you find you want to do something last minute or have seen something not on the list but that you think the group could enjoy then your leader can make these things possible, if there’s time. Many leaders of hosted travel tours have spent considerable periods of time in that country; they know the cool places to go as well as the main sites and can communicate with the locals for you.


See The World Through Someone Else’s Eyes

Not everyone shares the same opinions, and it can be refreshing to meet someone who’s viewpoint challenges your own. Learning from others gives us the chance to expand our knowledge and broaden our horizons. It’s much better to have an animated, interesting discussion over cocktails than reading alone at your hotel.