Monday, May 30, 2016

try the pie: a drive through idaho & montana

initially we were dreading the two day drive from walla walla to yellowstone, but after a hundred miles or so of driving along beautiful forest roads, following one crystal clear river after another, we began to see the beauty in the journey. we had never really explored idaho before, and while i wouldn't consider what we did, really exploring, it was nice to be off the big highways, enjoying cool dips in the river and huckleberry pie.

a quick guide to driving through idaho & montana -- 

eat: the huckleberry pie at river dance lodge was possibly the best thing i ate during our three weeks on the road. we drove by, saw the sign, and made a quick u-turn only to find out that they had already closed up for lunch. but they were nice enough to serve us two pieces of pie and it was some of the best i've ever had. also try the bison burger at lochsa lodge; it was delicious. and for breakfast, stop at the hob nob cafe, in missoula, for delicious pancakes and corn beef hash.

see: about an hour and a half from the west entrance of yellowstone national park, you'll find a little ghost town turned tourist trap, virginia city, montana. stop for some huckleberry taffy and a walk around the town to stretch your legs. another place to see, much closer to yellowstone, is quake lake; a lake that was formed in 1959 after a 7.5 earthquake hit and created a landslide that dammed up the river. the dead trees sticking up out of the middle of the lake are something out of dr. suess, but in the most beautiful way possible. it's worth a quick stop along the road to read more about. 

do: pull off on the side of the road and dip your toes in the river.

sleep: we only stayed one night in idaho, in the campground behind the lochsa lodge, before camping outside of yellowstone at the beaver creek campground, but both locations were nice and not too full for showing up in the afternoon looking for a spot. there are plenty of other campgrounds around too, but once you get out of range of a cellphone tower they become a lot harder to find. so even if you don't want to make reservations ahead of time, at least choose a couple to check out so that you will definitely find a place to stay. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

vineyards in walla walla

no drive through the yakima valley would be complete without a stop in walla walla to try some of the delicious wine grown in this region of washington. the drive into and out of town was gorgeous, with rolling hills of greens, yellows, and rows upon rows of fruit trees. walla walla is definitely a wine lovers paradise, so be ready to try lots of wine!  

a quick guide to walla walla -- 

eat: whitehouse-crawford was awesome. it's a little on the pricey side, but it's a beautiful place, with a rich history, and delicious food. for a more informal dinner, sit at the bar and watch the chefs while they work. don't skip out on any of the courses, it's all worth it. and for an awesome german pancake breakfast experience, try maple counter.

do: there are quite a few tasting rooms in town, but if you want a more personal touch, go out to one of the vineyards and make a day of it. we tried abeja and gramercy cellars, two of my dad's favorite wineries. abeja has beautiful grounds; walk around and see all of the bees, for which the winery is named, in the lavender garden. you can even stay at the abeja inn if you're so inclined. or visit gramercy cellars, a little closer to town, for a relaxed wine tasting experience with nice people and good wine. 

sleep: if you want to camp, you'll have to do so outside of walla walla as there is no official campgrounds within a 20 mile radius of the town. but there are plenty of cheap hotels, or fancy ones, if you want to splurge.

Monday, May 23, 2016

kayaking in tofino

tofino is a strange little town at the end of a long drive. there's only one way into town, a windy two lane road, and as a result you almost feel like everyone who lives there got lost and liked it so much they stayed. it's a odd mixture of surfers and retirees, of fishermen and tourists. but the food is delicious, the scenery beautiful, and wildlife spectacular.

a quick guide to tofino -- 

eat: tofino is known for their seafood, most of which is caught locally. our favorite place was wolf in the fog because of their large plates to share, but sea shanty and the shelter restaurant were both equally delicious.  

see: on your way from victoria, bc, you will pass a charming little market called goats on the roof. it is definitely worth a stop, if only to see the goats munching away on the grass roof. if you have time, stop into the market and buy snacks (eg. salmon jerky and pie) for the rest of your drive. 

do: this is whale watching country, so i would be remiss if i didn't recommend a whale watching cruise at jamie's whaling station. that being said, if you're up for a little more activity, we loved the kayak tour! with a guide, you paddle around the bay looking at all of the local wildlife, hoping for a seal to visit, and eating the seaweed straight from the source. it was amazing, and you get some light exercise! another favorite activity is fishing. charter a boat and go halibut fishing for halibut. there are probably official fishing outfits around town, but if you want something a little more diy, go down to the docks and ask around for the best price.

sleep: we tried to camp most places we travelled, unfortunately the official canadian national park camping spots weren't open yet. instead we found wya point surf shop cafe. it's a little outside of town, but at $20/night, with hot showers, it's a pretty great deal. 

to get to vancouver island from washington state you can take a 90 minute ferry ride from port angeles to victoria, bc, for a little less than $100 a car.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

the olympic peninsula

it's been almost a year since we took this trip to the olympic peninsula with my parents. and what a crazy year it's been. we returned to tucson on a wednesday and started work the next day. since then it's been non-stop chaos with teaching taking over our professional and personal lives. so now i'm playing a game of catch up, trying to write 25+ blogs before the school year starts up again in august, while road tripping across the country and prepping for next year's new challenge: ap world history.

lake crescent. 

dungeness spit.

hoh rainforest.

hurricane ridge.

rialto beach.

a quick guide to the olympic peninsula -- 

eat: since we were road tripping, we didn't really eat in a lot of restaurants, we made breakfast and lunch instead, but the silverwater cafe, in port townsend, was a cute place with healthy portions to share. 

see: olympic national park. it's a pretty big park with many entrances and distinct regions, so really spend some time exploring. the hoh rainforest, a spectacularly green place with relaxing hikes, is as different from hurricane ridge as possible, but they are equally wonderful.  

do: hike dungeness spit. there is an easy walk to a bluff that overlooks the spit, but if you're looking for something more intense you can walk down the hill, via a steep-ish trail, and play on the beach, or continue walking to the lighthouse. if you want to walk all the way to the lighthouse, it's an 11 mile walk, so be sure to bring water, check the tides and the weather ahead of time, and plan accordingly. you should also make sure you have time to walk along the many beautiful beaches on the olympic peninsula's western coast. many of them allow for camping too, just check with the wilderness information center to find out more information about a wilderness permit. 

sleep: olson's cabins, halfway between la push and forks, is sublime. my parents stayed in the small but fantastic cabin #3, while we pitched our tent behind the house in a little copse of trees. with a grill, fire pit, and easy access to rialto beach, i can't recommend it enough.