Upper Table Rock

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Location: Just outside Central Point of Southern Oregon.

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Distance: 1.25 miles up, and 1.25 miles down. I only walked around a portion of the perimeter once I got to the top, but I could have easily walked for miles at the 2091-foot elevation.

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Foot Traffic

Because the unique wildflowers that just started blooming, and because it is Oregon’s last Friday of spring break, Upper Table Rock was bustling with visitors today. While the parking lot usually isn’t completely filled up like it was today, this, along with neighboring Lower Table Rock, is one of the most popular hiking spots in Southern Oregon.

IMG_20170331_133145While I passed a few people on the strenuous hike up, most people liked to linger on the flat top. I decided to walk along the ledge until I came to a few trees. I pulled my hammock out of my Lewis N Clark convertipack and set it up between two branches of an octopus madrone. Although there was solid ground on either side, behind the tree was a cliff! The dropoff provided a beautiful view. Using my two-person hammock by myself allowed me some relaxation and solitude. Yet I could still hear the conversations of those who passed by. Every group, family, and couple commented on my hammock! If I decided to pop my head, they would compliment my creativity in making Table Rock an even better experience. One person even asked if she could take a picture.

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Foot Feelings

While the highlight of this walk was actually the part where I was relaxing instead of walking, the best item I brought up there wasn’t the hammock, but rather the bag I carried it in.

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I got the Lewis N Clark anti-theft convertipack specifically for travel and walks, but since I got it a week ago, I have used it every day for every occasion. It replaced my purse, and now I feel more secure with security features like RFID blocking card holders. It matches both work and casual outfits. I took it to the movies. I took it to the gym, and was surprised to find this little bag could hold not only my purse essentials and luxuries, but also my water bottle and a change of workout clothes. I was even more surprised at what it held today… the entire hammock plus my packed lunch! All I needed to carry by hand was a water bottle. The tear-resistant straps can alter to me a cross-body or over-the-shoulder handbag, but my favorite variation is wearing it as a backpack.

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The views of the Rogue Valley atop the Table Rocks are absolutely enchanting. It’s worth the steep trail to get there.

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Trail Tips

-Table Rock is enjoyed by thousands year-round, but the most popular time is wildflower season from March to May. I try to avoid it during rain since the trail becomes thick with mud. The lack of shade in summer can cause sunburn and heat-related issues as well.

-Because this is a natural area, no water spigots are available, and the only toilet is at the parking lot. Plan accordingly.

-Realize you could fall 800 feet of you’re careless, but enjoy creeping close to the edge.

-Lots of children hike here. But because it can be a long and strenuous journey,  I’d only recommend bringing the whole family if you regularly hike… unless you’re willing to carry them most of the way!

Lewis N Clark provided the anti-theft convertipack for me to review and give my honest opinion. No other compensation was made- I even had to pay for my own gas to get out to Upper Table Rock!

-Lewis N Clark also provided a packing tube and hanging toiletry kit for me to use in my travels. Although they didn’t come into play today, stay tuned because they will be featured soon!

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7 Ways to Stop Bed Bugs

When I was sixteen years old, bed bugs weren’t the common travel fear that they are today. In fact, I considered them as mythical as unicorns and leprechauns, nothing more than a placeholder in the rhyme “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”.

bed-46208_640But I did let the bed bugs bite. My bed in Peru appeared to be bug-free. Then my friend and her roommates asked me to spend the night in their room. I woke up that morning with hundreds of marks all over my legs. (The bugs left my friend alone- not fair!) The weeks that followed included itching, scratching, bleeding, and dozens of people concerned that the scabs on my legs meant that I contracted some sort of infection.

I returned to that same Peruvian hotel two years later and managed to remain bed bug-free. In fact, in all the cities and all the countries I’ve visited, I only have that one bed bug story to tell. Here’s my advice for preventing- and dealing with- bed bugs.

 

  1. Know that bed bugs aren’t classist. I’ve heard a few stories from people getting bed bugs at hostels. But I’ve heard more from people who stayed in nice hotels. My friends who told me stories purposely avoided cheap motels because they were concerned about the cleanliness. In reality, I’ve heard more of a response from the hostel industry regarding cleanliness standards to avoid infestations. The price tag on your room is no indication of likelihood for bed bugs, but there are a few other factors to look at before booking.
  2. Don’t BYOB (bring your own bedding). At first this seems counterintuitive. Providing your own bedding means you’re sure the linens are clean, right? True, but you don’t know how clean the bedding was with the person who slept on that bed before you, or the person before that, or the person before that. When I’m looking at hostels or AirBnBs, I eliminate any that allow me to bring my own bedding, no matter how nice the rest of the lodging may seem. Accommodations that enforce a “no outside bedding” rule have taken great strides in reducing bed bugs. I think it’s worth it to support these lodging options. Even if I’m staying at someone’s home, I only bring my own blankets if they ask me to. The only place I bring my own bedding is camping cabins. These backwoods locations often don’t have adequate laundry facilities to provide linen service, but I do make sure that their mattresses have a bug-resistant cover. And just for a peace of mind, hostels and other accommodations have to adhere to their location’s government requirements of cleaning between guests, so you can expect clean sheets.
  3. Keep luggage away from furniture. Why do so many people set their suitcase on their hotel bed? Metal furniture can still harbor bed bugs, but it’s not as likely as mattresses, couches, or other surfaces with lots of hiding places, so set your luggage there to prevent tiny hitchhikers. Also make sure to keep your luggage away from anyone else’s luggage. If a hostel offers personal storage lockers, that’s usually a good way to avoid cross-contamination.
  4. Do an inspection. There are a few techniques to scan a room for bed bugs. It’s not foolproof, but if you find anything suspicious when you first enter a room, you can leave immediately and save tons of trouble. First, lift the sheets off the corner of the bed and inspect the mattress for any small dots (which could be feces, blood, or bug carcasses). While you’re at the bed, tear the comforter off and toss it in a corner. Those are hardly ever washed and have no business being on the same surface where you’ll sleep. If the bed has a box spring, move the mattress slightly so you can inspect one corner of the box spring for the same signs you were looking for on the mattress. Next, grab a flashlight and turn out all the room lights. Shine your flashlight in power outlets, furniture screws, and other small, dark openings. You’re looking for any movement inside these.
  5. Notify the accommodation staff of any concerns. A good hospitality business should be more concerned about bed bugs than you are. If you find any sign indicating bed bugs, notify staff so they can change your room (to another building if necessary) and thoroughly clean your former one. If you get bitten overnight, you may be entitled to some sort of compensation.
  6. Be wary of bed bugs outside of your room. Looking back to my bed bug experience, I feel bad for doing some activities after I was bitten. (Back then, I didn’t realize how easily they could spread.) The furniture I sat on, the bus I rode, the wool stores I shopped at, and the airplane I flew home on all unknowingly increased their risk of bed bugs with my presence. Because I haven’t heard of industries outside of lodging hospitality doing anything to prevent bed bugs, I try to be extra careful. Now, on days that I fly, I always wear long pants. I also wrap my hair in a scarf if I’m going to sleep on a plane or bus. There may not be much that I can do in these situations, but a barrier of fabric can sometimes deter bedbugs. I also carry all my own luggage so that it stays separate from other traveler’s bags.
  7. Keep your travel gear outside your home. Whether I was gone for one night or one year, my suitcase stays on the porch for my first night back home. If you think you caught bed bugs, take off the clothes you’re wearing before you even step inside. (But don’t scare the neighbors; strip in your garage or backyard.) The next day, everything that can be washed goes straight to the washing machine. Everything else gets wiped down and inspected before being stored. Getting bed bugs while traveling is bad enough; you don’t want to invite them into your home!

I teamed up with Travel Fashion Girl to provide a packing list of things to take with you to help avoid bed bugs. Check it out here!

 

Palmerton Park

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Location: Rogue River, Oregon

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Distance: The entire park is five acres, and you can choose however much of the path (or off-path area) you want to walk on. There are a few steps on an optional part of the pathway, but other than that, this is a very flat, very easy walk that anyone can participate in.

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Foot Traffic

Today was a very rainy morning. I had lagged behind on walking this week, and I knew that the hike I wanted to take would be incredibly muddy. I thought about skipping a walk entirely this week and just posting a walk I took previously. But then while I was out driving, I found myself headed toward my first-ever hometown of Rogue River, Oregon. I don’t remember living there because I moved to California before my first birthday, but I remember visiting as an older child.

When I went to the Wimer Covered Bridge a few weeks ago, I passed a church on the drive there. On the drive back, I recognized tennis courts and a bridge behind the church building. I immediately pulled into the parking lot (which turns out is shared by the church and the city park) and walked down memory lane… but only in my mind. I was pressed for time, and had a kid sleeping in the backseat who couldn’t be woken up even for something as fun as a park.

When I realized I was headed to Rogue River on this rainy morning but didn’t know what I was going to do once I got there, I decided to enjoy walking through this park despite the weather. Because of the downpour, I was the only one there. Everyone else sure missed out!

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Foot Feelings

Even though I remember going to this park a few times many years ago, I only remembered the sports courts, the footbridge, and the picnic tables near a playground. Palmerton Park is actually best known for being an arboretum. But it turns out I didn’t start at Palmerton Park. I had parked my car at the smaller adjacent Anna Classick Bicentennial Park, which includes a variety of sports courts such as tennis and basketball. I then headed across the Skevington Bridge.

I guess I have a thing for walking across previously-collapsed bridges. The Skevington Bridge was washed away twenty years ago during a flood, but then rebuilt in 2002. It was one of those suspension bridges where you could feel the bridge move with each step you took. It crossed Evans Creek, as well as a foliage green pond, before allowing me to arrive and continue my walk in Palmerton Park.

Because of the rain, I mostly stayed on the path, though I occasionally adventured into the wet grass to get a better look at a unique tree or to take advantage of a photo opp. (Because this was a spontaneous trip, I had left my waterproof camera at home and instead had to protect my phone against the elements while trying to capture pictures!) I walked along a stony path area with a fountain feature. Despite all the extra water it was receiving, it only provided a trickle of a waterfall. I then went around the playground and to the official front of Palmerton Park. Since I had come in from the back way, I had missed out on a big informational sign showing how Palmerton features dozens of different trees from all around the world. There was a coastal redwood, a monkey puzzle tree, and other unique plants. I think my favorites were the trees that were currently in bloom. It was evidence that it is indeed spring!

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Trail Tips

-Since this is in Oregon, some sort of rain protection is recommended. Most locals will tell you that we don’t like to use umbrellas. But a raincoat is subtle enough that you can still blend in.

-Look for inspiration around the park. I found one unusually unique inspirational quote engraved on a sign. (I’m not sure why it was there, but it did make me ponder for awhile!) And of course be inspired by the nature itself.

-If you want to enter the way I did, go down Pine Street and turn in when you see Rogue Valley Community Church. However, the official entrance is on Evans Creek Road.

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It looks like I’ve shared about city park walks two weeks in a row! But some parks have some of the best walks. Do you enjoy walking in a park near you? Tell me where it is!

(PS: I’ve got a bonus post coming at you this weekend! Also check out my Instagram for a preview of what to expect next week, @jessicalippe.)

Lithia Park

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Location: Ashland, Oregon. You can’t miss it- it’s very centrally located.

Distance: Who knows?! I didn’t think to take a pedometer with me. We walked wherever we felt like at the time, did some backtracking, and stopped at the playground, the Japanese gardens, the duck ponds, and a picnic table for lunch. About three hours total was spent here.

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Foot Traffic:

Ah, Lithia Park. As a child, this 93-acre locale was almost as amazing as Disneyland, except it was free and not as far away. I loved going here with my parents, toting our stale bread and crusts so that we could feed the ducks and geese. While feeding the wildlife is no longer allowed, I decided to attempt passing the magic of this place on to the next generation anyway. It turned out to be a fun babysitting experience. He still appreciated seeing the fowl without breadcrumbs. He also got to enjoy an updated playground and Japanese garden. (He was really interested in bamboo that day!)

I’ve never not seen anyone at Lithia Park. It’s an eclectic bunch. From business professionals on lunch break, to parents running the energy out of their kids, to hippies trying to make a statement about something rather, people watching is definitely a must-do in Lithia Park, and Ashland in general. However, not many people stray from the main (paved) path at Lithia park. There’s plenty more to see off the beaten path.

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Foot Feelings:

The hippie city of Ashland, Oregon boasts the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Southern Oregon University, access to the Pacific Crest Trail, and a host of prominent local shops, but Lithia Park will always be my favorite out of all these things to do.

I like how you can choose how challenging you want your trip to Lithia Park to be. If you want to park right next to the playground, cross the bridge, and sit down for lunch, that can be a full experience itself. You could also go up to the miles of hiking trails, come back down to the upper duck pond, pass the sports courts, head over to the Japanese garden, go over to the fountain, back down to the stage, and then make your way past the playground and lower duck pond before stopping to refresh on the free Lithia water. (Try it; it’s delicious… wink wink.)

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Trail Tips

-Seriously, try that Lithia water! It’s sure to be an experience you’ll never forget!

-If you can’t find parking downtown, keep driving up the side of the park until there are fewer cars. You can park longer in this area, anyway.

-Don’t be afraid of the locals! The population may appear crazy if you aren’t used to it, but they mean no harm and the unique culture is what makes Ashland a great place to visit.

-Want a freebie that’s better than the Lithia water? (But you should still try it, and bottle it so you can share it with your friends!) Check out my other site to get a free magazine subscription. The next issue comes out on Monday!

Wimer Covered Bridge

Location: Wimer, Oregon (Can’t find it on a map? It’s a small unincorporated community 8 miles north of Rogue River in Southern Oregon, off the I-5.)

Length:  85 feet. Virtually everyone can do this!

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Foot Traffic

I was surprised at how many people were milling around the Wimer Covered Bridge. They all seemed to be locals though, more interested in congregating at the nearby market than looking at this bridge they see every day. Several people drove through the Covered Bridge while I was taking pictures, but as it is part of a normal road, it just might have been on their way home from work.

The child in the backseat of my car fell asleep during our calming country rise there and refused to wake up, so I had to say within a line of sight from my car. We also took this little adventure just to kill an hour, so we wouldn’t have had time to walk nearby paths even if he was awake. But there were plenty of nature stops on our way there and back that sure looked interesting!

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Foot Feelings

The Wimer Covered Bridge isn’t the actual Wimer Covered Bridge. While it may look like an old fashioned structure, it’s actually less than a decade old! This bridge is a stronger replica of the one that collapsed in 2003. That one had been around since the early 1900s.

While it’s no longer on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wimer Covered Bridge is interesting in the fact that the community felt the need to rebuild. It’s also pretty exhilarating to cross. Traffic  comes from both directions, yet the bridge is only wide enough for one car!

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Travel Tips

-This is really just a side stop for people traveling the I-5 area of Southern Oregon. To fill the rest of the day, check out things to do in Grants Pass, Rogue River, Gold Hill, or Medford.

-There are three other covered bridges in Jackson County . I’ve been to McKee and Antelope Creek. I guess that means I only have one left to go!

 

Gold Beach Treasure Hunt

Location: Gold Beach, Oregon is on the Southern Oregon Pacific Coastline.

Length: We did four miles on our recent trip. You can make it however long or short you’d like.

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Foot Traffic

Gold Beach sponsors a treasure hunt from February thru April, a time that isn’t very well known to head to the beach. So most of the other people you’ll see are probably also there to find the coveted glass floats, but there are still fewer people overall than you’d find on a summer vacation day.

I participated in the Gold Beach Treasure Hunt for glass floats last year for the first time. I took a friend with me. This year, she and I continued the tradition, and we brought another friend along for her first time.

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Foot Feelings

I have to start out by saying I was disappointed in not finding a glass float on this trip. Both my friend and I each managed to get one last year, and we passed by plenty of others in order to honor the “one float per person per month” rule. We searched even harder this year, yet not one of us found a float. We didn’t come across anyone who found a float, either.

At the same time, this only makes me more motivated to make a second trip back to Gold Beach soon. If I don’t find a float a second time, I may then get frustrated, but part of this activity is remembering that the joy is in the journey. We didn’t find what we came for, but we found so much more. We reunited as friends after a long time of not seeing each other, and we had adventures along the coast.

We did decide to walk back to the car by going through the downtown street instead of going down the beach again, which allowed us to participate in one of the shop’s tourist activities. But wherever you are glass floats, we’re coming for you!

img_20170221_122919Trail Tips

-Stop at the Visitor Center before you start looking. They’ll let you know where to look, which includes looking in the grass instead of the sand.

-I’ve forgotten this the past two trips, but I want to be intentional in the future: bring a bag that you can put trash in! I’d especially like to see an incentive from the Visitor Center that if you don’t find a float, they’ll still give you one if you pick up a grocery sack’s worth of trash. Hopefully they or other beaches will consider something like this in the future.

-Play by the rules. I think one of the reasons none of us could find a treasure was due to foul play by visitors before us.

-The treasure hunt is on every day in February, March, and April each year. Of course, you can always walk this beach any day of the year.

-Be prepared to get a little wet. There are some streams on the beach that don’t have an easy way to cross.

-Check out my more successful treasure hunt last year!