adventure, Oregon, Portland, roadtrip, travel, Uncategorized

Portland, Oregon

The other part of my and Tyler’s trip that I wanted to highlight was our last stop in Portland, OR.

Now, we didn’t do as much in Portland as we did in Seattle, since we were only there for an evening, but after we’d spent the evening there, I wish we could have explore Portland more!

We dined on seafood that night. We’d missed our seafood in Seattle and I’d been looking to have some before we returned to land-locked, seafood-lacking Utah. Luckily, we found this fantastic little place called The Fishwife. It had a quaint, old-style, hole-in-the-wall kind of feel, and it was delicious. Here’s me, enjoying my seafood combo basket.

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After dinner, we headed to Powell’s City of Books, and it was quite actually heaven on Earth. Powell’s is the LARGEST bookstore in the WORLD. Do you know how exciting this is to a huge book nerd like me?! SO exciting!!! The store occupies it’s own city block, is four stories high, and consists of NINE color coded rooms that house different types of books.

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Don’t worry, they have maps if you get lost. I totally needed one, but is there a better place to be lost than among shelves of books? Two hours here was nowhere near long enough for me; I could have wandered and read for days.

Our only other Portland excursion was to Voodoo Doughnut, of course. But listen up! This is very important. There are two locations in Portland. While maybe it’s worth it you to go to the FIRST location, I would highly recommend going to the second instead. We tried the first, which is located in busy downtown and doesn’t have its own parking lot, but does have millions of people in line out the door. Ty and I didn’t want to fight the mob and wanted to pay for parking even less, so we checked out Voodoo Doughnut TOO (Two), which was only about five minutes away. It wasn’t quite as downtown, had LOTS of parking, and very few people inside. Much better!

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We got the Voodoo Doll doughnut, the Bacon Maple Bar (my favorite), the Pot Hole Doughnut (an explosion of peanut butter and oreos), and the Lemon Chiffon crueller…all delicious 🙂

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Like I said, I would have loved to explore Portland more. We were sad to leave, but we had a great time!

 

activities, adventure, Family, fun, Seattle, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, Washington, zoo

Seattle, Washington

Two weeks ago today, right now, I was on top of the Space Needle in Seattle. I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks!

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Tyler and I took our 1 year anniversary/Tyler’s graduation trip to the Pacific Northwest. We left the day after his graduation and one day before our anniversary. We were gone for 9 days. It was a BLAST. We started in Seattle.

We arrived to Seattle Sunday night, May 8, to our little “Cabin in the City” we found via Airbnb, which I’m just going to pitch for right now. Use Airbnb on your trips, guys. Our little rental was a cabin behind someone’s home, and it was so cute and cozy and the renters were so nice and helpful.

The next day, May 9, was our first anniversary!!!!! I can’t hardly believe we’ve been married a year! Then again, I also can’t believe it’s only been a year. Regardless, it’s been the best year 🙂

We breakfasted at Beth’s Cafe, as featured on Man v. Food for their ENORMOUS omelettes. It was delicious. They serve mounding plates of food and bottomless hash browns…need I say more?!

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Our first day in Seattle was our “Animal Day.” We hit up the Woodland Park Zoo first, which we enjoyed not only for some unique and/or endangered animals (ocelots, red pandas, golden lion tamarins, etc), but also I loved the vegetation they used to plan the park! We spent 3 and 1/2 hours exploring the park before heading over to the waterfront to give the Seattle Aquarium a visit.

The Seattle Aquarium is a little small, but very cool! Mine personal favorite part was the harbor seals. We got there around 2 in time to see the keepers feed them and they had the seals do some tricks. We also had a lot of fun with the touch pools, the underwater dome, and the jellyfish ring.

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We ended our day at Pike’s Place Market. Can’t do a Seattle trip and not give Pike’s Place a visit! Because it was our anniversary, Tyler bought me one of those big, lovely bouquets of flowers. So pretty.

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We also found this most delicious bakery called Piroshky Piroshky, and couldn’t ignore the mouthwatering smells and line of people pouring out the door. I think I could’ve eaten every single thing they were selling. (Pro Tip: in the afternoons, I think around 4, they have “happy hour” where all their pastries go on sale for 3 dollars each!).

All in all, despite our difficulty navigating the completely nonsensical streets of Seattle, it was a great first day (and a great anniversary 🙂 )

Our second day was (mostly) centered around the Space Needle. We started with the EMP Center (Experience Music Project), which Tyler really wanted to go to but I wasn’t too enthused about. Except it turned out to be really cool! Easily the best part was the three “genre” exhibits: sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Each exhibit was uniquely designed to fit the theme. For example, the sci-fi exhibit felt like we were on a spaceship and the fantasy one featured castle-like and forest features. We had a ton of fun exploring everything and, of course, jamming on the instruments on the top floor in one of the recording rooms.

Next we visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Absolutely beautiful! Also, definitely talk to the curators standing around! Tyler asked one of them a question and we learned A LOT about the exhibits because of it. But really, the glass is just stunning, and my pictures do it no justice.

And then, of course, we paid the top of the Space Needle a visit. It was an (unseasonably) beautiful day, which is perfect for being atop the Needle. You could see Mt. Ranier!

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I thought it was a great idea, too, that they had binoculars and telescopes up top as well.

Our last Seattle venture was to tour University of Washington’s campus. I have a friend who is a student there, so it was REALLY fun to see her and she gave us a tour of campus and escorted us to THE pizza place for thin crust pizza lovers, Mod Pizza. My pizza had ricotta cheese and asparagus (among other things) on it, and I felt very fancy (haha).

UW’s big draw (at least for the geeks among us, like me) is what they call their “Harry Potter Study Room,” which is a GIANT hall that literally looks like the Great Hall. I mean, how cool is this?!

And thus concludes our Seattle trip! But not the end of our week-long trip. Oh no. We visited my old hometown of Tumwater/Tenino near Olympia, and then Ocean Shores. Then Olympic National Forest. And then Portland.

activities, adventure, animals, Dates, Family, Uncategorized, Utah

Living Planet Aquarium

For the last weekend before school started again, Tyler and I wanted to do something fun and exciting and adventurous! We actually debated an epic-ly short road trip to Disneyland, but our practicality won out (stupid practicality).

Instead, we made a much shorter trip to Draper, Utah to visit the fairly new Living Planet Aquarium, and we had a WHALE of a time! (cue bad aquatic puns).

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Photo Credit: Deseret News

Admission is 14.95 for students (17.95 regular price), which I thought was reasonable.

We started first with the “Journey to South America” exhibit, which was a giant multi-level jungle-y room full of free-flying birds! It was so warm and humid, my camera lens kept fogging up. We got to see the parrot and the macaw up really close. The toucans were caged in, and they were LOUD. There was also a “river” running through the bottom with lots of different fish and turtles. Featured along the walls in their glass habitats were bugs, reptiles, and amphibians. And everyone wanted a turn walking across the rope bridge.

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Next, we headed for the “Antarctic Adventure.” The star of that, of course. were the penguins. There were windows to view them both above and below. The below window curved inward to the tank, so that you *almost* felt immersed in the water with the penguins. I honestly could have spent quite a long time there.

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“Discover Utah” was our third stop. As could be expected, this exhibit featured wildlife native to Utah, including otters, scorpions, snakes, frogs, ducks, fish, and the like. The otter habitat had a little glass box you could pop your head into. It was really good the day we went because two of the otters were sleeping right up against that glass.

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The final exhibit was “Ocean Explorer.” Featuring touch pools and a shark tunnel, this one, I would guess, is a favorite. Sea urchins, harmless rays, starfish, and other small aquatic animals were available for “petting.” I will say that the tunnel was very cool. It wasn’t particularly large, but it was cool to watch the sharks, fish, rays, and sea turtles (they had sea turtles!) swim all around you. Lots of people just sat in this tunnel, and I did too for a bit.

We spent a little over 2 hours exploring the aquarium, and I probably could have stayed longer, though I’m pretty sure 2 hours was perfect for Tyler.

All in all, a very pretty, interesting, and exciting aquarium. For an animal lover  like myself, it was pretty great.

A new exhibit, “Expedition Asia,” is expected to be added sometime this year, and I will for sure be returning to check it out!

adventure, hiking, national parks, travel, Uncategorized

Yellowstone National Park

I know, lots of people have gone to Yellowstone, but Yellowstone will always have a soft spot in my heart because that’s the first trip I made with my wonderful husband Tyler!

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We went mid-May, which I’ve decided is the ideal time to visit. The park hadn’t even been open for a month so there was hardly anyone around. We loved that we got front row seats to watch Old Faithful erupt and NEVER had trouble parking.

We stayed in West Yellowstone at the Clubhouse Inn, which was a pleasant little place. West Yellowstone, though not in the park itself, is (almost) as much of a delight as the park. Growing up, I actually thought that West Yellowstone WAS Yellowstone, because that’s where my grandparents would always take us when we visited them in Rexburg, ID. The little shops are worth an exploration. Tyler and I took a morning to stroll through every single one of them. A tourist-y thing to do? Maybe. But I can’t help loving it.

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Of course, if you visit West Yellowstone too early in the season, you won’t be able to attend a production at the Playmill. It’s a small theater where they do some fantastic, interactive pre-shows and serve the best fudge I may have ever had. Favorite thing I’ve ever seen there? Beauty and the Beast. SO good.

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Of course, I can’t just talk about West Yellowstone and not the ACTUAL Yellowstone park.

The best thing about going early in the season wasn’t even the small crowds. It was the abundance of wildlife.

It was migrating season, so everything was out and about, migrating to their summer lands. We saw the hugest herd of buffalo crossing a river, and were treated with an additional surprise: the buffalo had their calves with them! They were tiny and a bright rust red.

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We were also privileged (at least, I definitely felt privileged) to see six bears! Grizzles and black bears! I love bears! We got to see them both from outside the car and inside, from mere feet away and from a few hundred feet away. It was AWESOME.

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Tyler and I made sure to drive the entire park during the four days that we were there and pull over to every little hike and sight-seeing spot there was. It was because we did that that we made all our best memories (and saw most of our bears). The paint pots were something I had never actually seen, but they were beautiful. And of course, Yellowstone was majestic.

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So I guess we had a kind of tourist-y trip, but it was fun all the same. The park is amazing and wonderful and an adventure whether you stay mostly in your car and just enjoy the sights, or if you back-pack for a week on one of its many hiking trails (which I dearly want to do!).

I highly recommend Yellowstone for a visit, but then again, who wouldn’t?

 

adventure, chowder, corn, Crockpot, Dinner, fall, Potatoes, soup

Corn Chowder

I don’t know if I’ve gone into this yet. I might have, but here I go again.

I LOVE soup. I love love love love love love it. Every year, I can’t wait until it gets cold again so that I can make lots and lots of soup. Of course, warm weather doesn’t stop me from whipping up a soup from time to time, but nothing beats hot soup on a cold day. And we are in soup weather once more. Happy day!

This soup is a new find this year, one of my golden Pinterest recipes. This corn chowder recipe comes from Recipe Lion (photo credit) and is originally a crock pot recipe, but works just as well on the stove top. I tweaked mine some according to my taste preferences and what I had on hand, but I cannot sing this soup’s praises enough. Neither can my husband. This soup easily surpassed my Creamy Tomato Basil Soup as his new favorite. It is so delicious.

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You will need:

  • 3 diced bacon slices
  • 1/4  chopped onion
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken boullion cubes
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 2 cans creamed corn
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 tsp season salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 2 C milk

Fry bacon and onion together until onion is soft and bacon is crispy. Add water, bouillion, potatoes, creamed corn, corn, spices, and margarine. Boil over medium heat until potatoes are soft. Stir in milk. If too thick, add more milk until you reach the desired consistency.

adventure, hiking, national parks, travel, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

This last weekend was Fall Break, which sounds as long and wonderful as Spring Break, but is really just a glorified three day weekend. However, I did not let these three days go to waste. Instead, I used it to travel to Torrey, Utah and visit Capitol Reef National Park with my husband and his family.

Despite living in Utah for the last two and some odd years, I’ve never visited Zion’s, Arches, or Capitol Reef National Parks to see the unique red rock features that Utah is famous for. Quite frankly, I had a private notion that such places were probably over-rated. I grew up in green Olympia, Washington and couldn’t see how such a “barren” place could possibly be beautiful. I was SO wrong. Capitol Reef was FANTASTIC. And BEAUTIFUL. And I was not ready to leave when Sunday rolled around.

Driving into Torrey on Thursday evening, I was immediately impressed by the distance rocky cliffs, and surprised to see that there was actually quite a bit of green vegetation speckling the landscape. We got two rooms at the Broken Spur Inn in Torrey. It was a fair motel with a large pool, small hot tub, a warm continental breakfast.

The real beauty awaited Friday morning when we drove into the park. The craggy rock faces were more vibrantly colored than I anticipated and contrasted brilliantly with the pale blue sky.

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The first hike we did was my very favorite of the whole trip. Sulphur Creek. The head of the trail is near the Chimney Rock trail head and ends behind the visitor’s center. The trail itself is around 6 miles long and follows Sulphur Creek most of the way. This trail requires lots of time wading in the water. At its deepest, it hit me just above my knees, but most of the time the water just swirled around my ankles. The trail features three small waterfalls that need to be climbed around. No special equipment is needed to climb rock faces, but there is some climbing.

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For four and a half hours, we walked this trail. It was beautiful. I had never been anywhere like it and enjoyed every second. We took our time, ate snacks along the way, and took LOTS of pictures.

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Other hikes we took during the weekend: Capitol Gorge, with its water filled “tanks,” petroglyphs, and pioneer registry; Cohab canyon, walking through a steep walled canyon with many narrow canyon offshoots to explore; Freemont River Trail, with meanders along the river and through deer-populated orchards before climbing a steep, rocky path for some fantastic panoramic views; Hickman Natural Bridge, a steep hike in which we were rewarded by a huge, stone, arching natural “bridge”; and the mini look out hikes Goosenecks and Sunset Point, which overlook Sulphur Creek (we enjoyed looking down on the hike we had done the day before from thousands of feet above) and offer some more beautiful panoramic views.

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All in all, Capitol Reef was much more than I was expecting. I could have stayed and hiked around for several more days, and definitely plan on going back.

activities, adventure, bucket list, Cache Valley, Dates, microadventures, travel

Microadventures

A couple weeks ago, Tyler and I were making the long drive home from Boise, ID to Logan, UT. Tyler says that this four hour stretch of road is “the worst drive ever.”

“Nothing changes,” he said. “We go over a hill, and then it’s like we’re still in the same place.”

So, because he had to drive this horribly dull road, I let him listen to whatever he wanted. So he could stay awake.

We listened to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on audio book for a while, but eventually he needed a change. Tyler is big into podcasts, so that’s what we listened to next. At the time, he was in the middle of a series called “The Art of Manliness,” which, I’ll admit, wasn’t high on my list of what I wanted.

However, the particular episode we listened to on that long, monotonous drive was titled “Microadventures,” and I was intrigued through the whole thing.

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The idea of microadventures is to find a small kind of adventure near you that you can take a weekend or a day or even an evening to “get away.” Things like hikes or one-night camping trips or exploring your city.

I loved it. I frequently suffer from the travel bug but, considering I’m working and going to school and nearly always busy (and poor), I can’t indulge it by flying to Europe or taking a cross-country road trip.I can, however, take a few hours to explore the world immediately around me. It may not be super exotic , but it helps to soothe my vagabond fantasies.

Another important aspect of microadventures is the removal of yourself from technology. How can you expect to take a vacation, however small, if you remain attached to your email or Facebook ? In a world where we are in constant contact with internet and distracted by Netflix and Twitter and apps on our phones, it is important to totally break from that, and microadventures allow for the perfect opportunity.

So go out! Find an adventure near you. It doesn’t have to be elaborate.

For a list of microadventures in Cache Valley, click here.

For a list of microadventures to do with your significant other, click here.

Other microadventures, click here.