Category Archives: travel tips

Road Trip Weekend, Part 3: Explore Old Places in New Ways

It’s the weekend! What a great time for a road trip! Each day of this weekend, I’ve shared a recent road trip I took. My hope is that, even if you don’t take the route I did, you’ll get some tips and inspiration for wherever you go! Friday gave advice on things like how to meet your role models on the road. Then on Saturday, I shared tips for overcoming fear and having fun. Today brings us to new places never mentioned on this site before, as well as a few that we mentioned recently. But all these places will be explored differently.

I made it all the way through June without going on a single overnight trip. You could say I was having road trip withdrawals. After getting my new car, I was really itching to put some pavement behind me. I looked at my next weekend, and my only commitment was a chiropractic appointment on Saturday morning. I couldn’t change it to an earlier time, and I didn’t want to cancel it, so I wasn’t sure if travel would be a possibility that day. But when I woke up Saturday morning, I decided that I’d just work some travel around that.

There was an interesting-sounding hostel in Eugene, Oregon that I had never stayed at before. On the morning of, there was only one bed left to book, which just so happened to be in the female dorm. I quickly got ready (not packing much at all), made a rough plan of stops I would make, and headed off to the chiropractor. The doctor typically asks if I have anything exciting planned for that day, so it was nice to go in and tell him something interesting for a change!

Seven Feathers
Leaving Seven Feathers… after about five minutes!

My first stop was at Seven Feathers. I’ve only stopped there once, and that was back when my sister was underage, so I never actually walked through the casino part of the resort. However, I didn’t gamble. It was just a quick stop to use the bathroom, get on the WiFi, and take a picture with the world’s largest cast iron eagle.

Eugene Whiteaker Hostel
The front of the hostel. My room is the one with the balcony!

After a couple more hours of driving up the I-5, I checked into Eugene Whiteaker International Hostel. While on the medium-to-small side as far as hostels go, this became one of my top hostels in the character and comfort categories.

Owen Rose Garden
Flowers coincidentally matching my shirt.

I didn’t stay long, however, because I only had the afternoon to explore Eugene. Thankfully, everything I wanted to see could be access from the Eugene Riverwalk, which was just a few blocks from the hostel. Before I got on the trail, I smelled the Owen Rose Garden.

Eugene Riverwalk
On the Riverwalk, which went by parks, businesses, and natural areas.

After walking towards downtown for a bit, I came across a planet. Saturn, to be exact. This was a good sign, since my goal was to make it to the sun. Okay, maybe I should explain. The city of Eugene displays a lot of permanent public art.  One of those is a scale model of the solar system. The sun, moon, and all the planets (including Pluto!) are all the correct size and distance from each other… if they shrunk to a billionth of what they actually are! While I would have loved to see Neptune and Pluto, they were miles away from the other planets distributed through a park and along the Riverwalk. After Saturn, I had to walk quite a bit further before I reached Jupiter. Then it would be a long time before I saw Mars.

UO duck walk
Following the footprints to University of Oregon. Go Ducks!

But before I saw the small planets, I made a stop at University of Oregon. I didn’t end up in the central part of campus, but I enjoyed walking through an art department. Due to summer break, it seemed like a ghost town. If you want to visit Eugene for the culture, I would recommend going during the school year!

Peace Pole in Garden
One of the U of O student gardens had a peace pole.

I should mention how beautiful the parks lining the river are. It’s neat that even a semi-large city like Eugene purposely sets aside prime locations for the public to enjoy. At one point, I was walking through a forested area! It was a long walk of many miles, but the beautiful urban nature and finding the planets kept me going. On my way back, I even walked further than I needed to so that I could see Uranus!

0701171631a[1]

0701171639[1]
The sun in comparison to the moon and Earth.
Back at the hostel, I ate, relaxed, and did something artsy for the first time in a long time. Most importantly, I rested up for an even bigger day following.

Hostel Bunk
Despite me supposedly booking the last bed, I ended up with just one roommate in our four-bed dorm. That meant no one on my top bunk!

On Sunday morning, I got ready, enjoyed the free hostel pancakes, and looked up where I needed to go that day. It all started with over an hour of driving to the Oregon Coast. I headed up to Yachats to begin my day at Thor’s Well. I had seen pictures of this blowhole online over the past few years, and I wanted to be able to see it for myself. Most of the pictures online were taken at high tide, which just could not work with my itinerary that day. But it was still a fantastic sight when I saw the water shoot up from the ground. And I had the added advantage of being able to walk right up to it!

Thor's Well
A beautiful blowhole by the name of Thor’s Well.

Thor’s Well was the only planned attraction of this trip, but there was more to see on the Central Oregon Coast. While I’ve been to much of the Oregon Coast, I’m most familiar with the Southern part since it’s the most accessible from my home. I think the last time I was on the Central Oregon Coast, I was in middle or elementary school!

Heceta Head
Hiking up to Heceta Head Lighthouse.

It was surprising how many stops I ended up taking just between Yachats and the neighboring town of Florence. There was Heceta Head Lighthouse which I of course had to tour, which was right next to a beach that was perfect for eating lunch at. Then I decided that, while expensive (at $14 a head!), I should check out the Sea Lion Caves.

Sea Lion Caves
See the sea lions?

In the past, when I told a former coworker about my solo travels, she would say that the only solo trip she’d ever done was driving out to the Sea Lion Caves by herself. That was what sold me on going here, just following in her footsteps I suppose. I was surprised at how many other people traveled out here; some were even from other countries! After entering through the gift shop, I ended up on a trail outside facing the Pacific Ocean. To the left, there was a lookout point where you could look down and see dozens of sea lions enjoying the sun and sea. Then to the right, there was an elevator that went deep down into the cave.

Sea Lion Cave
Inside the cave. If you look closely, you’ll find sea lions on the rock in the middle of the water.

The cave had a looping video, skeletons of sea lions, and informational panels about the different species. Of course, there was an opening to look into the part of the cave where the sea lions were, all piled on a rock. It was fairly distant, and at first I was a little disappointed in this place when you can see the San Francisco sea lions a lot closer, and for free. But then I found out that the staff member overseeing that area had a pair of binoculars that she loaned out to visitors, and she had plenty of stories to tell about the sea lions that I could now see up-close!

Sand Dunes
I watched some sandboarders play around on this dune for a bit.

I stopped for some s’mores flavored ice cream at a Florence ice cream shoppe called BJ’s, and then went behind the Fred Meyer to enjoy the sand dunes. (I wish I brought a sandboard or toboggan!) I continued driving south. I got a tip when planning for my NorCal road trip to San Francisco last summer that, if you go on a one-way trip along the West Coast, make sure you go south. That way, your side of the road has better views of the ocean. Good advice!

Coast Mirror
Mirror selfie! (With a lighthouse in the background!)

I stopped at another lighthouse (though the tour was too expensive for this one) and an ocean overlook. I even went on a little nature walk through a patch of darlingtonia, which is a carnivorous pitcher plant. I tried stopping at an old favorite coffee shop in Coos Bay, but it was closed by the time I got there. Finally, I made it to Old Town Bandon.

Old Town Bandon
My booth at the Mexican restaurant overlooked all the boats in the harbor.

I enjoyed many of the same places as I did the last time I stopped in Bandon, including the delicious Cranberry Sweets. But for some reason, I was craving Mexican food. Maybe it was because a favorite place to go when I worked in Bandon was El Jalepeno, a restaurant with big, unique, tasty burritos. Sadly, that closed down years ago. So I searched on my GPS to see if there were any Mexican restaurants still standing in Bandon. There was, and it just happened to be in Old Town! I walked there and enjoyed a feast. I think it was my first time eating solo at a sit-down Mexican restaurant, and it was a revelation to realize that I could double-dip my chips in the salsa!

Kissing Rock
The sun setting over Kissing Rock in Gold Beach.

With a full belly, I pondered where to go from here. Everything south of Bandon would just be a repeat of my trip to Brookings a couple months prior. It would be faster to head back to the I-5, but that would also be a repeat but with less scenery. I decided to take the long way home so that I could enjoy more of the coastal views. Most of it was drive-by enjoyment, such as through the Mount Humbug and Prehistoric Gardens area. But I did make a quick stop at Kissing Rock in Gold Beach as the sun was setting. I even stopped at Oregon’s highest bridge, which I’ve driven over several times but never actually stopped to look at. I took an even longer break in Brookings so I could explore Azalea Park, which was too rainy to enjoy the last time I was there. When I was a kid and camped near Brookings, the Azalea Park playground was like a castle. I played on it for a few seconds for old time’s sake, but was now more impressed with the garden and the capella.

Capella
Inside the Azalea Park Capella

After that, it was a dark, eerie-but-fun drive through the redwoods. I work the overnight shift between Sunday and Monday, and I made it there with ten minutes to spare!

Other than Yachats, I had already been to all the towns that I stopped at on this road trip. Yet it felt like an entirely new experience. Enjoying different attractions or seeing the same attractions in different ways (such as different times of day or even different ages!) made it a whole new experience.

Have you ever visited a destination more than once? What felt different on subsequent trips? Let me know in the comments!

This trip was made possible because I found a reservation for Eugene Whiteaker International Hostel on Hostelz.com. I recommend Hostelz.com to find the biggest selection of hostels out there. Click here to save money on accommodations while simultaneously helping this site!

Road Trip Weekend, Part 2: Leave the Comfort Zone

It’s the weekend! What a great time for a road trip! Each day of this weekend, I’ll be sharing a recent road trip I took. My hope is that, even if you don’t take the route I did, you’ll get some tips and inspiration for wherever you go! Yesterday, I shared a coastal road trip built around meeting my favorite speaker. Today, I’ll tell how a road trip allowed me to face my fears and overcome pain. 

Exactly one week after my car was hit, I was still overcoming fears that were brought on the night of the crash. Since I was turning left when it happened, I had to psych myself up every time I needed to turn left. (I have heard of people who make three rights to avoid ever turning left, but I knew right away that I didn’t want to live in fear or make big adjustments to my life from one crash.) I was already starting to overcome my fear of the intersection where it occurred, since I drove through it almost every day. Because the driver that hit us was from California, to be honest I was a little nervous about California drivers.

Thankfully, my car insurance provided a rental car for one month. It was a blue Hyundai Sonata. I took it one one road trip during the time I had it. Within the first five minutes of that trip, I decided that Sue would be the perfect name for this car. Sue Sonata was my Sue-bstitute for my Sue-baru. But that road trip involved a lot more than just naming a car.

I had been considering taking a road trip all that week, but wasn’t sure if I was up for it. I was still in a lot of pain, not to mention the mental obstacles that come with driving long distances so shortly after an emotional crash. So when I decided on Saturday morning that I should face my fears and have some fun along the way, I was scrambling for where to go and places to stay. Several ideas I had resulted in finding no nearby accommodations that were both affordable and available, but I eventually found an AirBnB in Redding, California.

Redding has been a stop on several of my trips, but never a destination. I’ve enjoyed several walks across the Sundial Bridge and around the surrounding Turtle Bay Exploration Park. In middle school I even had fun on a Girl Scout trip to the Redding Water Slides. But one popular thing to do in Redding,  especially for Christians, is attend a worship service at Bethel Church. That would be at the top of my to-do list for this trip.

Redding is about three hours away from my home in Southern Oregon. Since I didn’t leave until after lunch on Saturday, I only had the late afternoon and early evening to spend in Redding. I started out by checking into my AirBnB. The hosts attend Bethel, and many of their other guests also come primarily to attend Bethel, so they gave advice on when to leave in the morning. I was surprised that people are waiting to get into the sanctuary over an hour before service starts! I also learned that the 8am service was the least crowded, so I set my alarm to get up for that.

Then, I headed off to explore Redding. The waterslides weren’t in my budget, but I still enjoyed the (very Northern) California May weather by going to the local YMCA, which has both an indoor and outdoor pool. At the time, I had a membership to my local Y, which allows for free access to just about any Y location in the world. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have a sauna, though. The Ys near me have them, and since I hadn’t started chiropractic work yet, the heat was really helping my injured shoulder and other sore muscles. But I still got a decent workout in.

Next, I headed to 7 Eleven with a popcorn bucket. It was Bring Your Own Cup Day, after all! I try to take advantage of good deals like this, no matter where I am. It’s just one way to enjoy yourself while still saving money for travel.

I must confess: when traveling, I often replace a meal with ice cream. The Slurpee wasn’t filling enough for a meal, so I dined on Rita’s ice and custard. The last time I ate this was when I lives in Ohio three years ago, so it was definitely a treat.

Then, I attempted to spend the evening in Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Unfortunately, when I got there, it was really crowded. I realized that there was a rodeo going on next to the park, and attendees were parking miles away since the nearby lots were full. I had no interest in attending the rodeo, and I didn’t want to walk so far just to get to the park, so I left. I wasn’t that upset for a few reasons. I had already been before, I might be able to go after church the next day, and my AirBnB had a great view of the Sundial Bridge from the back patio. I spend some time looking over the cityscape while munching on my giant Slurpee.

I spent the quiet evening trying to write and learn about Bethel. Other than hearing the occasional Bethel Music song on Christian radio, I didn’t know too much about the church doctrine or leaders.

Up before my alarm went off, I got ready, packed up, and headed off to Bethel. My plan was to attend two services back-to-back, and visit the Alabaster Prayer House. I had no trouble finding parking or a seat for the 8am service, though the front half of seating was already reserved.

While the song selection and pastor’s message were the same in both services I attended, there were still differences. The worship in the second service was more experiential, with flag wavers and more complex lighting. That service also had a baby dedication that seemed more like a walk down the red carpet. Instead of just one or two babies, there were over twenty being paraded by their parents as their names were announced and pastors lined up to pray for them.

The first service seemed more like a church service I would typically attend, but because of its smaller attendance, it offered something that the other one didn’t: the opportunity to wait in line after service to be prayed over for physical healing. I had heard about Bethel’s physical healing ministry on Saturday mornings, but didn’t think there would be the opportunity on Sunday. I am not sure if it was a normal thing or because the theme of the morning sermon was healing, but since I still had all the pain of a recent collision,  I decided to take them up on this offer! Unfortunately I didn’t receive immediate healing like some people do, but my chiropractor has been saying that I am recovering quickly, so maybe these two are connected.

Between services, I was hungry due to only having leftover Slurpee breakfast. So I headed to the church cafe, called HeBrews. I ate a muffin on the patio, then got into the line for second service. When I got into the sanctuary, I didn’t see any available seats. Lots of people were standing against the side walls, so I joined them. I later learned that these standing people could join live worship, but would then sit in another room while the service was streamed to them. I didn’t join them, however, because a woman came up and told me there was an empty seat next to her.

After the second service, I went to the greeters who welcomed first-time visitors. They gave me a calendar and a coupon to download free sermon, which I still haven’t taken advantage of.  Then I walked over to thw Alabaster Prayer House.  This was a cute little building offering communion, books, a fountain, and other resources that contributed to a mindful place to pray. Outside of that  was a garden that I decided to walk through, especially after looking down at the driveway and seeing all the cars coming and going as slow as molasses!

When I did leave, I headed over to Turtle Bay. One thing I have wanted to do here for a couple years now was hike the trails. So after the mandatory sundial selfies, I started down a trail, but stopped at a bench overlooking the water. A couple with a thick accent asked to sit next to me. It turns out they were from Paris, but were visiting Redding for several days to attend a Bethel conference as well as church this morning. So we talked about church as well as my trip to Paris two years ago. Then I continued down the path.

I saw deer and a lot of beautiful spots along the water before I ended up next to the freeway. I then turned and walked a path that had the freeway on one side, and a marshy preserve on the other- quite the contrast! I walked some on the other side of the water, but the scattered path, hot sun, and hunger eventually forced me to turn around.

Back on the road, I sipped some soup from a mug as I listened to music and enjoyed the forested Shasta Lake area. Soup was not appeasing my hunger, though. When I saw a sign for The Pizza Factory, I recalled how in high school my youth group once went there after a houseboat trip. I guess I was too busy remembering the past, because I missed the exit for it. Fortunately, there are three Pizza Factory restaurants along the NorCal I5. I stopped at the Weed one, which turned out to be the same one that my youth group had gone to anyway. I enjoyed a delicious taco pizza.

The rest of the drive home was pretty mundane, although I did feel a little accomplished safely driving past the town where the other driver in the accident lives. In just one quick weekend trip, I drove long distances, drove among many California drivers, turned left in plenty of intersections, started the physical healing process, and even enjoyed most of it. I wasn’t sure if I would get my car back, but it was even better to have my life back!

What fears have YOU overcome while traveling? Tell me in the comments!

Click here to get an account and discount on your next AirBnB stay. We’ll both benefit from this affiliate link!

Road Trip Weekend, Part 1: Meet a Favorite Speaker

It’s the weekend! What a great time for a road trip! Each day of this weekend, I’ll be sharing a recent road trip I took. My hope is that, even if you don’t take the route I did, you’ll get some tips and inspiration for wherever you go! Today, I’ll be catching up with a road trip along the Southern Oregon Coast. 

At age 13, I was introduced to a magazine that just about every Christian millenial girl read: Brio, published by Focus on the Family. In each issue, the “Dear Susie” column answered reader questions with the magazine’s editor, Susie Shellenberger. Susie also contributed other articles on a variety of topics like sex, drinking, and knowing whether God is real.

Although Brio is back in publication now, it did close down in 2009 along with just about every other Christian girl magazine facing the recession. Susie Shellenberger decided to start her own magazine, and my first published article appeared in the first issue of Susie Magazine. So it’s realistic to say that Susie Shellenberger was a major influence in me becoming a writer and editor.

Fast forward to April 2017. I had no idea this would be my last month with my very first Subaru. But when Susie Shellenberger posted on Facebook that she would be speaking in Brookings, Oregon that weekend, I knew I wanted to meet her there! After a couple messages back and forth, I discovered she would be speaking at a women’s conference as well as several church services and events.

AirBnB Boat Brookings Harbor
A glimpse of just one boat in Brookings Harbor. Keep reading to find out more about it!

I decided that if I could find an affordable place to stay Saturday night, I could attend the Saturday evening service and at least the first Sunday morning service, possibly the second service if I thought I could get back in time to start my 3 o’clock work shift. Most coastal hotels are pricey, and the only Oregon Coast hostels are in the northern half of the state. Since it would be rainy and chilly, I wasn’t up for camping. So I decided that, for the first time ever, I would make a reservation on AirBnB.

Once lodging was figured out, I started getting really nostalgic about my teen years. Brio was a part of my teen life, as was Lake Bradley Christian Camp, a retreat center in Bandon-by-the-Sea. I spent summers in high school working there. Although Brookings is the closest town on the Oregon Coast from my house, maybe I could take a longer route and drive up to Bandon first.

And if I did that, I would go up the I5 until I got off around Roseburg. One of my high school friends lives in Roseburg now, so I decided to see if she would want to meet up Saturday morning. She recommended a coffee shop for us to meet up at.

Cranberry Sweets Cheese Fudge
If you visit Bandon, Oregon, make sure to sample your way around the Cranberry Sweets store. Definitely make sure to ask for a piece of the cheddar cheese fudge!

With a rough plan in place, I headed out on Saturday morning. I felt kind of bad only spending about a half hour in the Roseburg coffee shop, but there was a lot to pack in before the service started at 6pm! From Roseburg, I went to Bandon to walk around Old Town and drive by Lake Bradley and other old familiar sites.

Then I headed South. I wanted to see the Prehistoric Gardens, but didn’t have much time, nor did I want to pay the admission fee. But there are two life-size dinosaurs to take pictures with in the parking lot. I also stopped at Gold Beach, hoping to find a glass float this time, but was unsuccessful once again.

Prehistoric Gardens Apatosaurus
Was so glad that my favorite dinosaur was one of the ones visible from the Prehistoric Gardens parking lot.

After several hours of driving and sightseeing, I finally arrived at my AirBnB near Brookings Harbor. For being my first AirBnB experience, it provided an unbeatable experience. I stayed in a sailboat that circumnavigated the world! During check-in, the owner told lots of stories that led to how this boat ended up in his front yard, surrounded by remains of another boat.

Because of these stories, check-in took longer than expected, so afterward I rushed across town to Brookings Nazarene Church. Susie’s message that night was about cemeteries and castles, which caused us to think about which of those two options we were currently living in, and which one we would rather be. I was thankful that it was a fairly small church, because that meant I had the opportunity to spend some time with Susie afterward!

Susie Shellenberger
Me and Susie. I’m holding the first issue of Susie Magazine, which contains my first published article!

That evening was spent listening to music and watching the sun set over the sea from the top of my AirBnB boat. I woke up to the sound of rain. After lounging around the boat a bit more, I headed back to church.

There were two Sunday morning services. The first was a repeat of Saturday night’s, but I still gleaned more from it. The second service was about sanctification. I wish I could have stayed even longer, but I had to leave right after the second service to make sure I arrived at work on time that afternoon. However, I had a lovely drive through the Redwoods on the way! Looking back, it’s bittersweet that it would be my last long drive with that car. It would be totaled a few weeks later. But at least it left on a high note!

Question: Have you ever traveled to see a specific person? If not, who would you want to see on your travels?

AirBnB
Inside the AirBnB boat. Behind me is a map of the route it took when it circumnavigated the globe.

I enjoyed my night on the boat, and it only cost $50! Click on this affiliate link to get $40 off your first AirBnB stay!

Minimalista Packing Challenge: Eugene and the Oregon Coast 

My number one traveling companion is Matilda. She goes on the majority of my trips with me. She even came alongside me for three months as I journeyed across Mediterranean Europe in 2015. She’s been a trusty sidekick. And she would have plenty of stories to tell, if only she could speak.

As you may have guessed, Matilda isn’t a human. In fact, she’s not living at all. She’s my luggage-style backpack, affectionately named after the Australian song “Waltzing Matilda”. But on my most recent trip, I decided to give Matilda a break and take a minimalista packing challenge. 

Me with all the belongings I took on this trip

On Saturday morning, I decided to take a weekend trip up to Eugene and then down the coast, planning to not return home until Monday. Since sunny Eugene and the windy coast offered two different environments, packing clothes served as a challenge. I was also on limited time since I was leaving just a couple hours after booking my hostel. Another challenge was that I would be at work on Monday before returning home, so what I wore had to be appropriate for that.

Everything I took easily fit in one grocery bag.

Here’s what it contained:

-My purse (Lewis N Clark) with the usual items: ID, credit cards, phone, writing implements, glasses, a book, etc.


-A small packing tube (Lewis N Clark) with all the clothes save for the sandals, shorts, and tee I was currently wearing. I wasn’t sure if a jacket could fit in with everything else, but it ended up working.

-A relatively empty toiletry kit (Lewis N Clark) with toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, shampoo, and other essentials. Everything except the deodorant was small or travel sized.

-Food. I planned to eat out for one meal, and the hostel provided breakfast, but I had to make sure I had enough for other meals and snacks. I also brought a travel mug and CamelBack for water.

-A handful of CDs and audio books on disc, because I prefer those to digital for no reason in particular. 

Since this was a road trip, I also had my new car. However, I chose to prove that I was packing light and wasn’t “cheating” by using stuff that is normally kept in my car. For example, I normally keep a folding camping chair in my trunk. It may have been useful while eating lunch on the beach, but I sat on the sand instead since I could not fit that chair in my grocery bag.

Another sort of “exception” was that I could utilize things included at my hostel. I used their required bedding, ate their free food, and even used their free art supplies to make some drawings. However, these drawings were still required to fit in my purse in order to leave with me.

Here’s what I wish I had:

Wool socks- Even though it would be a fashion faux pas, my walking sandals started to smell after the first day from several miles of walking in the heat. And yet I had to wear the stinky sandals tbe next day because that was all I brought.

Essential oil or something else scented- For same reason as above.

Flip flops- Not only would these provide another footwear option, but they woild be nice to wear around the hostel and in the bathroom. I normally pack flip flops; I just decided to see what it is like without this time. Never again!

Yet I packed lots of things I didn’t even use…

The book- If I for some reason ran out of reading material on my phone, the hostel had shelves filled with books. And I was having too much fun walking around and seeing the sights anyway.

Some toiletries- Much of what I packed in the toiletry kit were “just in case” items that I would rely on if the need arose, but those situations never came up. I would still pack them for future trips, though.

A lot of food- I didn’t really expect to consume half a loaf of bread and half a jar of peanut butter, but I didn’t feel like repackaging it before leaving. Oddly enough, I used up my big bag of snack mix, but only because I donated it to the hostel’s potluck.

The pack part of the CamelBack- I just took the water reservoir out and put it inside my purse to walk around town. 

Cards- I used my credit card to pay for everything, my Kroger card to get discounted gas, and I legally had to have my driver’s license. That’s all I used, but I still had a dozen various gift cards, store cards, and other plastic in my purse.

Overall, I think it was very easy to live out of a grocery bag for the weekend. With some modifications and switching out of items, I think I could go a week or even longer with the same amount. 
What about you? How have you packed lightly? Let me know in the comments! 

My Favorite Piece of Travel Gear… GONE!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written! It’s not due to lack of travel. I’ve gone on several hikes in different parts of Southern Oregon and also took a fun weekend trip to Redding, California. I decided to take a break from posting because another matter came up took top priority.

You see, one of my most useful travel items was destroyed, and eventually taken away from me. It was something I used in almost all my travels over the past year, as well as something I used almost every day. It was also the most expensive item I owned.

On May 13th, my 2016 Subaru Forester got hit.

I’ve posted about this car on here before. I am a little sad that my car was wrecked and eventually declared a total loss. This whole ordeal has been a long, annoying process that I hope never happens again. But two weeks ago I purchased a virtually identical 2017 Subaru Forester, just a year newer. It’s almost like the wreck never happened!

Two different cars- can you tell which one is from 2016 and which one is 2017?

In memory of my first Subaru, here are, in no particular order, some of my favorite trips I took with it:

1. Taking a baby on his first trip ever: home from the hospital.

2. NorCal road trip through the Redwoods, Avenue of the Giants, Point Reyes, and San Francisco.

3. The first trip I took was a day trip with my friend to Gold Beach’s Treasure Hunt.

4. National Parks road trip where I car camped at Lava Beds National Monument, then went to Lassen Volcanic National Park and later Crater Lake National Park.

5. The last “big” trip was down the Southern Oregon Coast. I went up to Bandon and enjoyed the stops all the way down to Brookings, where I spent the night in an AirBnB boat and met speaker/author/editor Susie Shellenberger.

6. A quick weekend trip down to Southern California for my cousin’s wedding.

7. While I typically ride the camp vans to volunteer at Wilderness Trails, there was one beautiful winter weekend where I drove myself up the mountain.

8. Driving it through Wildlife Safari with my sister and having animals stick their heads through the car windows.

On the night I purchased my new car, I celebrated by driving it to the movie theater to see Cars 3, especially appropriate since this is my third car. I was thinking about naming it 2.0, without even knowing that a car in the movie was nicknamed that!

Other than that, here is my favorite trip with my new Forester:

1. Up the I-5 for a night in Eugene, then spending the entire next day driving all the way South on the Oregon coast.

This was a fun trip that basically quadrupled my car’s current mileage, and I made it a bit of a challenge by packing super light. (Only a purse, toiletry bag, small packing cube, and food- not even a backpack!) I can’t wait to tell you more about it, but you can get a good preview on my Instagram account- just follow @jessicalippe!

Have you ever been in a wreck? What’s the most expensive travel gear you’ve lost?

The 3 Most Interesting Walks In Europe Any Hiker Should Complete

Flickr

Walking is a meditative activity. It’s where the best thinking is done and can connect you to your physical body as well as your deepest reflective thoughts. Walking through a beautiful environment only serves this relationship. Walking is great exercise and will keep you younger, healthier and trim for longer and longer.

But walking around your neighborhood isn’t always the most interesting experience imaginable. Sometimes you need to get somewhere new and challenge your perceptions. Sometimes this might even mean traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to seeing what other continents have to offer.

Some of the most beautiful walks in the world are situated in Europe. With the deep historical and religious cultures situated there, there is an amazing amount of detail in the scenery to keep you fascinated for some time. You may even be able to walk historical routes taken by early religious pilgrims. What could be more exciting than that?

If you’re intended to travel, be sure to familiarize yourself with the upcoming legislation that will require non-visa required visitors to an EU country to make an application online. Learn more at the ETIAS website: https://etias.com/. The legislation isn’t likely to take effect until 2020, but it’s worth researching into now.

Without further ado, here are the best European walks you can take today:

Spain – Camino De Santiago

A deeply spiritual journey, the Camino is a walk popularized by pilgrims of the past who traveled to the apostle St James in the Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral is situated in the north of Spain. Part of the trek also goes through France, so it’s a great opportunity to visit two destinations for the price of one and see the differences between the culture.

Germany – Westweg Trail

This is just part of the greater walking trail in Europe named E1, and is largely contained of the black forest in south German, and connects the towns of Basel and Pforzheim. It’s an ambitious trail, totaling at a distance of around 180 miles. It will take a large and ambitious investment to walk it, but it’s likely to be life changing for those who do.

You might be thinking that the distance would be difficult for luggage considerations, but there are services there that will take care of this for you, leaving you time to explore the trail unweighted and unburdened.

Scotland – West Highland Way

Linking the towns of Fort William and Milngavie, the West Highland trail is the most well-known and traveling hiking path in the UK. It will take roughly a week to ten days to complete, and will give you a varied and inclusive Scottish experience. While there you should make the most of the Scottish experience, visit local pubs and eat Scottish delicacies. There’s no better way to get a taste of Scotland than hiking this route.

Three walks, three vastly different cultures, and geographical locations. Keeping these varied locales as a priority will grant you vastly different walking experiences, in different climates and time investment requirements. Be sure you pack the essentials and you’re more than likely to experience a life-changing journey.

Old Town Bandon

IMG_20170422_132632.jpg

Location: Bandon, Oregon, right by the sea

Length: Several blocks and piers

IMG_20170422_132427.jpg

Foot Traffic

Last weekend I took a solo road trip. Bandon was my first stop along the Southern Oregon Coast. Because I had several other stops to make throughout the afternoon, I couldn’t stay long, but was able to walk a few blocks. Lots of other people were enjoying the sunny, yet slightly windy Saturday. I visited a few stores, my favorite being Cranberry Sweets. This shop is filled with so many unique samples, and I definitely wasn’t the only person enjoying pb&j popcorn and cheddar cheese fudge. Lots of others were on the pier to look at the scenery. Even kids were out there, utilizing complementary life jacket rentals for their safety near the water.

IMG_20170422_132216.jpg

Foot Feelings

During high school, I spent my summers working at Lake Bradley Christian Camp in Bandon. Besides volunteering there for one day during college break, I haven’t been back. Although was only able to drive by the front entrance of the retreat center, walking through Old Town Bandon was a walk down memory lane for me. Since this was just the start to one of the most enjoyable weekend getaways I’ve ever had, new memories were formed as well. I hope your visit to Bandon will form warm memories as well.

IMG_20170422_132718.jpg

Footnotes

-Bring a jacket to protect yourself from the wind!

-Although you may have difficulty parking right in front of a particular store or restaurant, there are plenty of places for your car within Old Town, both on the sides of streets and in a parking lot.

-Be polite with your free sampling at Cranberry Sweets… it can be easy to go crazy.

-If you can manage to visit on a fog-free day, you can view a lighthouse and other great sites.

-Enjoy the sculptures near the water. I think they’re new since I don’t remember them when I lived there. (Well, fairly new; I was last there in 2009!)

Britt Trails

IMG_20170421_091248.jpg

Location: Jacksonville, Oregon

IMG_20170421_094439.jpg

Distance: We walked the Ziglar trail and part of the Gold Gulch trail, which was about a mile and a half. One trail loop is four miles long, so choose your own adventure!

IMG_20170421_094333.jpg

Foot Traffic

I went early this morning while doing childcare in hopes of tiring him out. (It didn’t work until very late in the afternoon, when I didn’t want him to take a nap of course!) He asked me if anyone else was on the trail, to which I replied. “I don’t think so. There weren’t many cars and I don’t think many people walk at 8:30 on a Friday morning.” I was quickly proven wrong as we were greeted by runners, hikers, and even dogs throughout our entire walk.

IMG_20170421_090240.jpg

Foot Feelings

I enjoy Jacksonville as a whole. You’ve read about some of my adventures there, such as my Chinese New Year experiences. But I have yet to conquer the entire network of trails that lie just behind the renowned Britt Gardens. Since six-year-olds tire fairly quickly when you don’t have enough snacks to bribe them to go further, I didn’t accomplish this today, either. I have a feeling that you will hear more about the specific trails that are part of the Britt Woods as I make return trips until all of them have been trod by my own two feet!

IMG_20170421_085624.jpg

Foot Notes

-At most of the trail entrances, there is an informational board featuring flowers and plants you might see along the way. This is a good time of year to try to find some of them.

-For optimal parking, go to the city parking lot next to the library. You only have to cross the street to get to the Britt Gardens and the trail heads. Most trail heads also have small dirt parking lots as well.

-Make sure to bring water. We found several drinking fountains, but none of them were working. (Hopefully they just forgot to turn them on after the winter!)

-Bring two quarters so that you can get a trail map or an interpretive trail brochure.

IMG_20170421_085341.jpg

The Ultimate Canadian Adventure Checklist

Lots of people visit Canada every single year. It’s one of the best countries on earth for those who like to have an adventure. The vast open and untouched landscapes are stunning and unlike anything else on the planet. You’ll found snowy mountainous regions and lots of prairies and plains. There is something for everyone, and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience. However, it’s possible to get things wrong, and so I wanted to offer a helping hand. One this page, you will find a checklist you need to use to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything important. If you take the advice from this page, nothing should ruin your trip.

2871134419_b1f52134d6_n

Photo

 

Make sure all travel documents are in order

 

When traveling to Canada, ensure you have the correct travel documents. It says at https://official-canada-eta.com that lots of people make mistakes. Firstly, you need to search Google to discover if you need a Visa. That will depend on the country from which you plan to travel. Getting a Visa for Canada is easy, and so you just need to apply online. However, lots of people don’t realize they need that document. That causes trouble when they land, and the government won’t let them enter the country. So, sort it out in advance! Also, make sure you check your passport. It needs to be valid for at least another six months from the date you fly.

 

Ensure you pack a range of different clothing

 

As I mentioned a moment ago, the climate in Canada can alter drastically depending on your location. For that reason, you’ll want to pack lots of different clothing. Take waterproofs in case you decide to check out Niagara Falls. You’ll also need thick coats if you want to spend time in the Rocky Mountains. Of course, there are plenty of areas of the country that get a lot of sunshine during the summer. So, you might also pack some shorts and t-shirts. Just make sure you have clothing for every eventuality, and you’ll be okay.

 

Create a plan before you leave home

 

Canada is so vast that it’s impossible to see everything in a single trip. For that reason, it makes sense to create a list of the most popular sights. That way, you can plan a route and make all the arrangements in advance. Failure to do that could mean you struggle to find ways of seeing your favorite locations. In most instances, the best course of action involves hiring a car for the duration of your stay. Experts at https://www.canadianaffair.com say that’s essential. There are lots of companies that offer that service, and you can contact them online. With a bit of luck, they would have the vehicle waiting at the airport for you when you land.

 

Whenever you decide to visit Canada, I hope you have a fantastic time. I went there a few years ago, and I can’t wait to return. If you need some tips about the best cities, Calgary in Alberta is beautiful. It’s also only a couple of hours drive away from the Rockies. So, there’s plenty of beautiful sights to keep your eyes busy.

First Friday Art Walk

IMG_20170407_184804.jpg

Location: Ashland, Oregon… only available on the first Friday of the month!

IMG_20170407_185358.jpg

Length: Galleries are available all around Ashland. However, most are located close to each other on the main street of downtown, which is what I chose to stick to.

IMG_20170407_185337.jpg

Foot Traffic

I doubled up on walks last Friday. After dropping off the kid I explored Hawthorne Park with, I headed south to Ashland. Although I started this stroll solo, I soon found myself among a sea of humanity. Many other participants had come from all over the place to explore the unique art of Ashland. Although some of the art was from faraway artists, many galleries allowed several artists to come stand next to their work and answer questions. Musicians lined the streets and occasionally inside galleries to provide a variety of eclectic music. It was a fun mix of people.

IMG_20170407_192742.jpg

Foot Feelings

Downtown Ashland bustles with art galleries and restaurants. When I arrived around 5:30, I figured I’d browse a few of the galleries, then choose a restaurant to dine at before exploring more art. After a few galleries, I realized that restaurants would be unnecessary tonight! Most of the galleries served cheese, fruit, chocolate, cookies, or other snacks, as well as beverages (both wine and kid-friendly).

Despite living close to Ashland for the majority of my life, I’ve only been to the First Friday Art Walk one other time. During my freshman year of college, my humanities teacher made it a requirement that we all attend one night. I’ve wanted to go back since, but either forget or get too busy by the time the first Friday of the month rolls around. I’m glad I made it a priority for April!

IMG_20170407_185634.jpg

Foot Notes

-Ashland hosts an art walk the first Friday of every month from 5-8pm. Each month is a little different in which galleries are open and what art is displayed (and what refreshments are served!), so your experience is guaranteed to be unique!

-Can’t make it to the art walk? Ashland still has lots of public art displayed 24/7, and numerous galleries that are open every day.

-You can enjoy other shops and services between galleries. Maybe even enjoy performing arts in the form of a Shakespeare play (I at least went to the gift shop). I also took a quick walk at dusk through Lithia Park, since that’s where I parked my car.

-I realized that my favorite type of art is functional art. While there is value to a piece that only serves the purpose of decorating a wall, I would rather have art that can tell time, help me in the kitchen, or serve as furniture. Last week I discovered a piece of art that I’ve found extremely functional, and I got it before I even went to Ashland! Strawesome is an artistic company that makes decorative glass straws. I got one that I’ve used just to dress up my drinking glass, as well as protect my teeth. (Acid and sugar in beverages can cause tooth decay. Because I often drink ACV water, using this straw is promoting my holistic health while also promoting my enamel health!) Because Strawesome straws are reusable and not made of plastic, they help the environment’s health, too! An especially great idea since Earth Day is coming up. Carry one of these awesome straws around as you sip and stroll through eccentric Ashland’s art galleries, and you’re sure to get some compliments!

IMG_20170407_173550.jpg

Strawesome provided me with a glass straw so that I could review it. No other compensation was made. Thanks!