Trail Talk: Rodney Falls/Hardy Falls/Pool of the Winds

Location: Rodney Falls, Hardy Falls, Pool of the Winds (Hamilton Mountain Trailhead) – Beacon Rock State Park

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 2.5 miles out and back (roughly)

Elevation: 600’

Cost: This park does require a Discovery Pass: $10 for day pass, $30 for annual Washington State Pass

Both of which can be purchased directly on site at a pay station. Day passes can be purchased by cash envelope at the additional parking lot as well.

Parking: There is small paved lot right at the trail head. There is extra paved parking further up the hill in the picnic area. If going on the weekend/holiday get there early to get a spot.

Directions:

From the Washington side, drive Route 14 east (about 18 miles past Washougal). The park will have plenty of signage and be directly off of the highway. There will be parking on both sides for other trail heads, and a road on the left hand side going up. Take the smaller left hand side road up the hill to find the Hamilton Mountain Trail Head. (you can also follow signs for the campground as its past the trail head).

Preparation:

  • Water.
  • Shoes/Clothes. This trail can be muddy if it has just rained so bring shoes with good traction that you are ready to get dirty. There are also several options to climb closer to the water.
  • Sunscreen. Always a great idea!
  • Bathroom. There is one located at the trail head as well as another located at the additional parking picnic area. Both are currently open.  
  • Dogs. Allowed on leash.

Experience:

My husband and I did this trail on a holiday Monday (Memorial Day). Thankfully, we planned for it to be busy and pulled into the lot at 8:30 am. We ended up parking at the overflow picnic area lot as the parking directly next to the trailhead was already full. By the time we walked down to pay and brought it back to our car the overflow lot was also full. Surprisingly, the trail did not seem too overwhelmed with people despite the car situation. This was our first hike together since moving to the Pacific Northwest, so we took it easy, and I did not wear my watch to time the distances. The first couple of hikes back into a weekly hiking routine always take way more out of me and I did not want to feel discouraged, ‘slow and steady gets you to the falls’ was my motto!

There are two ways to begin this hike if you are starting from the overflow parking. If you turn right at the parking lot entrance and walk downhill back to the main lot you can pick up the beginning of the Hamilton Mountain Trail. You can also turn left and go up through the campground utilizing the Hadley Trail. This will take you through a second growth fir canopy and lead you eventually up under some powerlines to a picnic table with a great view of the Gorge. Eventually, connecting you to the Hamilton Mountain Trail at around .6 miles in (veer to the left to continue to the falls). We used this trail to return to our car and loved it as it was less crowded than following Hamilton Mountain Trail back to the main parking area.

Once you pass the turn off for Hardy Falls, you will encounter a few more bridges but the rest is not far up ahead! Turn left to go up to the Pool of the Winds, or right to start your way down to Rodney Falls. The Pool of the Winds has some railing along the edges, make sure you go all the way to the end to where it looks like you will be able to peak your head into a cave. It is MAGICAL. There is a gorgeous up-close view of the falls and a small pool of water collected around it before it continues its plunge downward. There was also an almost vertical wall of rock you could scale up to another part of the falls. We saw people climbing and I can only assume there was another pool of water at the top. I however did not climb it because I would have killed myself, scaling walls is not my forte.

You can see Hardy falls almost immediately as you take the switch back down to it and its beautiful. It was even prettier to me because I had done the Pool of the Winds first and knew what secrets were held at the top. There is a wonderfully long bridge I had fun frolicking across and the Hamilton Mountain Trail continues beyond if you wish to continue. We used this as our turn around point and climbed some of the rocks to get closer to the falls. There are a few different places where you have the opportunity to get closer to the water and we saw several people taking advantage of it.

Once we had adequately soaked up the falls we turned around and headed back to the car. We were so glad we had started (kind of) early because there were large groups of people coming in as we were heading out. It was a beautiful and relatively easy trail with lots of shade, next time we are going to bring some snacks and take advantage of the picnic viewpoint of the Gorge!

Until next time, Happy Roaming!

Trail Talk: Latourell Fall

Location: Latourell Falls (Corbett, Oregon: The Columbia River Gorge)

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 2.4 Mile Loop (The map on site and several websites listed it at 2.4. When I hiked this with a friend we both recorded on separate tracking systems, Suunto and Garmin, and recorded it at 3 miles)

Elevation: 520 ft

Cost: FREE

Parking: There is small paved lot right at the trail head. There is extra parking across the street as well as extra parking across the bridge (just passed the paved lot), both are off the side of the road.

Directions:

Traveling east on I-84, take Exit #28/Bridal Veil. Sharp right onto Historic Columbia River Highway and travel for 3 miles. The parking lot will be on the left.

Traveling west on I-84, take Exit #35/Ainsworth. Drive 11 miles west on the Historic Columbia River Highway. The parking lot will be on the right side. EXTRA: if you take this exit you will get to drive past the Vista House viewpoint.

Preparation:

  • Water.
  • Shoes/Clothes. This trail can be muddy if it’s just rained so bring shoes with good traction that you are ready to get dirty.
  • Sunscreen. Its a good combo of tree covering and open air, its the NW so its often cloudy and overcast but as always sunscreen is always a great idea!
  • Bathroom. There is a small building for restrooms but they are currently closed due to Covid so I wasn’t able to check how decent they were.
  • Dogs. Allowed on leash.
  • Extras: there is a picnic area to rent at Guy Talbot State Park (which has more parking options and an alternate trial head)
  • THIS PARK IS EXPERIENCING MORE THAN NORMAL TRAFFIC WITH THE PANDEMIC, BE READY TO WEAR A MASK MOST OF THE TIME.
Lower Falls – Lower View Point

Experience:

I went and enjoyed these beautiful falls with my best friend, Blake. It was the first hike I did as an official resident of the PNW again, and the perfect start to what I hope is a beautiful outdoor experience here. When we pulled up I snapped a picture of the map that was easily visible at the trailhead and we set off heading to the right, down to the base of the lower falls. It looked like we chose the less busy direction as most people head to the left up to the top of the lower falls and continuing from there to the upper falls. I noticed very few people completing the full loop, most choosing the quickest way to the falls and retracing their steps. This left us a nice empty trail on the right side of the loop despite the busy trailhead.

Columbia River Gorge (view point)

Once you leave the lower falls viewpoint you will cross under the bridge and come across the picnic area (for rent, see preparation section above) before climbing back up the road. Once you cross the road you will continue your uphill ascent. After about 20-30 minutes and a couple of switch backs you reach a beautiful viewpoint of the gorge. It was a great place to stop and catch our breath . The weather cleared up to blue sky just for us and opened up to a beautiful view, before raining again as soon as we left to continue our journey.

Soon you will come parallel to the river and even be able to see the trail on the other side. Follow along the river to the upper falls. There’s enough of a path you can get up along side the falls (but not underneath it) if you want to rest and explore the site from a different angle. We did this hike in early February, and it had been raining so not only was it muddy (be careful!), the water was also a lot higher compared to the summer months (according to my hiking partner Blake who had done this hike before!). Once you get your fill cross a small bridge and then continue back on the other side of the river. Most of this will be a decent.

Close to the end of the trail you will reach the overlook at the top of the lower falls, there is a bench here if you wanted a longer pause before finishing. Then itss a short steep jaunt back to the beginning of the trail. At the beginning of the trail head, on this side, is an additional deck built out overlook for another angle on the falls.

Just come for Latourell Falls or make a day of it and visit the others nearby too! On the same road you will find the trailhead for Bridal Veil Falls, Coopley Falls, Wahkeena Falls, before reaching the infamous Multnomah Falls. All within 22 minutes of each other. Besides for Multnomah which I haven’t been to in over a decade these are all new to me, I will be covering all of these in the upcoming months. If there is any you would like for me to cover first please shoot me a message!

Waterfalls in Depth:

The falls were named after Joseph Latourell, who was prominent settler from the area. The Talbot Family then owed the Falls and are around it and in 1929 gave it to the state of Oregon. Hence the name of the State Park.

The Upper Fall is double tiered, and 134 feet of falling water. The Lower Falls is actually the largest of the two at 225 feet.

Happy Roaming!

Enjoy the Destination

Todays blog is all about unique stays. Why you may need them, how to find them, and gems I’ve come across in my travels.

There are several factors that can hinder an adventure while traveling:

  • Being too introverted and/or shy to attempt something or going somewhere that seems “scary”. I myself am part of this group. I have gotten better as time goes on and I have increased my ability to deal with un-comfortability with my constant adventuring. However, I would be lying if I said I still do not drive by someplace I wanted to go after seeing a crowded parking lot, if I can’t find where to go, or if it just looks sketchy.
  • Time constraints. Sometimes there is an end destination that requires you to rush through. Whether you just need to get from point A to point B for a job, you are heading to a wedding or other family obligation, really any set time table that says you need to be HERE NOW.
  • Our current global pandemic. It is hard to pack up and say “I am just going to travel because I want an adventure.” You must be cautious about where you are coming from, where you are going, where you are stopping. Lots of big destinations are closed, lots of states/cities are constantly changing their COVID-19 prevention measures. Depending on who you live with/need to visit/work with you do not want to risk bringing anything home.

I have a solution to all of these, make your destination your adventure! I know, I know, it goes against the age old saying “life is a journey, not a destination”, but hear me out. If you do not have time to stop, if the big stuff is closed, if you do not want to be around a ton of people, what do you still have? Where you sleep. Especially currently, while travel is scary and often frowned upon, pick a place to sleep that is not your bed. It can do wonders for your mental health. You can vet the hotel, air bnb, camp site for their COVID-19 precautions. Read their description, comb through their reviews, and even reach out to the host before you go.

When I look for an adventure accommodation, I consider several factors:

  • Price, I am not willing to spend much more than I would at a motel 6 so I limit my searches to around $75.  Be cautious that some places (ahem, Airbnb) have a lot of added fees to double check what the all in price is before you fall in love. I’ve had places priced at $40/night end up being over $100 after taxes/cleaning fees etc.
  • Style, I try to get away from basic hotels, I will utilize search engines like Airbnb and Hip Camp that can get me more unique stays. A tip for Airbnb is that you can filter by accommodation style (tiny house, camp site, rv, hut, etc.) It is also not a bad idea to look up historical and/or locally owned hotels, they can provide a little more warmth than a generic one.
  • Activities, you don’t always need your accommodation to provide an activity but if it iss located on a farm (pet the animals, get fresh eggs), in a forest (hiking trails) or in a community (gardening), they often come with fun things to do on site!

If you need some examples keep reading. In the rest of this blog I am going to break down a few times in this past year I used this great option to keep my adventure quota high while running into the three hindering factors above.

Medford, Oregon

Too introverted. In my case this past spring I took a road trip without an exact plan. I figured I would just drive and stop when things looked cool, something I have done before and enjoy in normal circumstances. Unfortunately, I had been quarantined for so long that my anxiety in new places was on overdrive and I just kept driving. Luckily for me I had also planned on this being a possibility and I had booked an amazing tiny house that made it worth getting there early. As part of my trip I really wanted to get a lot of writing in so I had booked a place with a porch, beautiful sunsets/sunrises, and an adventure feel.

  • Not enough time. This year I also took a long road trip to Kentucky to visit with an old friend. I knew between my finances and homesickness my timeframe had to be right around two weeks.  This meant after deducting my three day visit in KY, I would need to be driving between 7-10 hours every day to fit my trip into my time frame. Driving that much a day (especially during the first half of my trip where I was solo) meant that I would not be making a lot of meaningful stops. I of course fit in some silly and quick roadside attractions but my main way to balance the driving with adventure was my sleeping arrangements. With my 8 nights sleeping out on the road I utilized 5 campsites, 2 nights in unique accommodations, and 2 nights in a hotel. The two hotel nights and 1 of the camping sites I would compare to a motel 6 style of accommodations. Just used to rest your head and/or grab a shower. The other stays were planned specifically for their adventure feel. I will only highlight a few here (feel free to check out my Instagram where I go into more depth on some of these).:

Golden Valley, Arizona

My first night camping in a tent by myself. Private campsite (Airbnb) out in the middle of nowhere, with a soundtrack of wild burros throughout the night. This location also offered a really cool hike but unfortunately I did not have time to explore it.

Cerrillos, New Mexico

Shanti Community (hipcamp), where I got to sleep in an old VW van. A scary (but worth it) 20-minute drive off the highway and down a dirt road brings you to this village on the edge of a canyon. This place is constructed  of a ton of amazing old buses/vehicles that are outfitted for sleeping. This unique stay had a community kitchen where I made a quick cup of coffee in the morning to enjoy the sunrise before packing up and hitting the road.  

Kanab, UT

White Horse Campground in Escalante National Monument. This cheap ($5) BLM established campground gives you a great basecamp for some epic hiking as well as just a breathtaking place to set up your tent. Only two miles off the highway and down a dirt road.

  • Pandemic precautions. A bit ago I was feeling extremely closed in with all of the shelter in place and stay at home orders, which is bad for my mental health. I found an off-grid option within a day of travel and planned this epic adventure. This unique place offered a variety of accommodations and I booked two of them to create a weekend of secluded bliss. I enjoyed a beautiful drive up the coast, stocked up on groceries, and with the company of one of the greatest humans ventured into the woods. This place is a blog post by itself, so I will not go into a ton of detail, but Blake and I were able to sleep in both this cute A-Frame and this spectacular Tree House. Check that off the bucket list for me!

Whether you are staying local or getting away, Happy Roaming!

Disclaimer: I also am not sponsored or receiving payment from any of these places, I just found them to be enjoyable and wanted to share the love! Below find the links to all the places I listed above:

Off Grid Village – AFrame and Tree House (plus other awesome structures like the hobbit hole, witches hut, half moon etc.)
Shanti Community – Old VW bus (plus other awesome old vehicles to sleep in!)
Campsite in Golden Valley Arizona

White House Campground | Bureau of Land Management (blm.gov)

White House Campground in Utah, BLM established campground

Tiny House near Medford, OR

Lets Talk Children

“Do you have kids?” I have been receiving this question for longer than I remember. It was the most asked question by customers and people at social networking events. I understand some are using it as a simple question, trying to find common ground with someone you do not know. However, it has fast become a hurtful question to those who do not. To those who cannot conceive, to those who have lost a baby, to those struggling to adopt, or those who had their children taken away. Other “common ground” questions come with such less pain. “Where are you from?” “Do you like sports – What’s your favorite team?”, “who is your favorite musical artist?”. It is time to retire this sexist, painful, and age-old question. Because let us be honest. It is asked WAY more to women anyways.

For me it was never hurtful in the way it would be another. However, it has made me uncomfortable on so many levels. Normally after the question and my answer, “no”. It is followed with, “oh you will love them one day,” or “why not?” or “oh, they are just the best.” My answers being, “I don’t think so”, “I don’t want them,” and “they are the best, when they can be given back to their parents.” The worst statement of all after this onslaught of conversations is, “you’ll change your mind,” “you’ll regret it,” “oh you are young, things will change.” And my favorite favorite favorite “your husband will want them.” It seems a lot of people forget – like birth control and other family planning practices– that my uterus belongs to me. It does not belong to my husband, to my family, to random strangers on the street. It belongs to me. Who cares if my husband wants them? Do you think this conversation was not had before we entered a promise of forever?

With that pint up frustration out of the way (that I did not know I was including here) lets talk about the children I do want and how I got there. Growing up I was never the super maternal type; I would rather send my barbies to college then push a baby stroller. Besides for one brief co-babysitting stint of two four-year old’s (thanks Trisha!), I did not babysit. Spending hours with children was not appealing. I did spend two summers during Vacation Bible School hanging out and “supervising” in the 4-year old room when I was 14 (for some reason 4-year old’s were my thing). That was 100% about having the additional responsibility of adulthood and finding the shyest quietest kid in the whole room to devote my time to. Up until a few years ago, as an adult, even talking to children made me uncomfortable. Thankfully, some quality time with some great little nuggets, (Thanks Jordan!) I have finally gotten over that small hurdle.

Although these days I find tiny little humans cute and enjoy picking out gifts and attending princess parties. I still have no desire to birth one from my own womb. I would rather adopt. Even though I did not push around baby strollers, since I could remember I have always felt a pull to adoption. Not a baby human, but a midsize human. A child that has been lost in the system, struggling to find a place to call home I have always been someone who believes I have the heart and patience for lost souls.

 This is not something that my husband and I are ready for anytime soon. I still have a lot of goals and life plans that would be easier as a family of two humans, versus a family of 3 or 4 humans. Does not mean we have not made changes to our family of the fur baby variety. Our first baby fell into our life over a year ago. In typical me fashion, after a vat of bottomless mimosas, I went over to the local animal rescue to pet the cats. Slightly tipsy I looked into Gypsy’s cage and instantly fell in love with her sweet face and expressive eyes. She was shy, and skittish, and slow to trust, and she was all mine. I called my husband at work and told him I was adopting a cat. Our sweet little girl is a three-legged black kitten (9 months at time of adoption). The adoption facility was so overjoyed they had found someone to love her, as they were worried being special needs and “unlucky” black would hold back a quick adoption. They had not met us. Every little bit of her that was “different” made us love her more.

I wanted our second fur baby adoption to be just as spontaneous. The perfect fit we would stumble upon for our little family. However, with Covid shutting down all casual visits to animal rescue facilities, it seemed more clinical to find a new child than we wanted. On the other hand, now that I wasn’t working we had the time to commit to making he or she comfortable, and (equally as important) time to get our first baby comfortable with sharing her space with a new alien creature.  Ultimately the pull of having the time outweighed the clinical process of finding a new baby online. I knew I wanted another special needs child like my first, a he or she that needed a little extra love but would flourish with the right environment. Then I saw his picture. A tiny, blind from birth kitten, with the sweetest face. I instantly knew. He was it. The addition to our family that we so desperately needed.

After some back and forth emails, one two-hour drive just to meet him, and a month of anxiously waiting for him to recover from ring worm. We got the call. He was all ours. Come pick him up! He has been home for two weeks now. Its been a long, slow, process getting Gypsy to love him as much as we do. She still does not quite love him but last night we got to sleep with both in the same room at once. That was enough for me to finally feel at ease. I knew if she did not take to him, we would have to find him a new home, this tiny little fur baby I had fallen head over heels for. I could not accept he was fully ours until our first baby fully accepted him. Thank god she did. So, world, I introduce to you, Franklyn Brotherton (named after my grandpa), our new, sweet, mischievous, cuddle bug, Houdini fur baby. Being a family of 4 feels perfect.

Happy Roaming!

Road Trip Tips

Texas State Line 2010

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of my first big road trip. I packed up everything I owned in my tiny Toyota Yaris and with my best friend by my side embarked on the trek of a lifetime. We traveled west to east across the country and ended a 15-day trip, with over 18 states under our belt, and 5552 miles on our tires. Something so momentous to me that I ended up tattooing that number on my body. Since then I have done a second cross country trip and countless other road trips. There is something so fun about exploring new areas of the United States and spending time in the car while doing it. From all my experiences I have come up with some great rules to live by for taking a road trip.  

Don’t over plan. If you have specific places you would like to go that is great. However, do not plan every moment. Leave room to relax, room to stop at fun things on the side of the road, room to slow down. I hate putting a time frame on when you need to officially get somewhere, it adds so much stress to your journey.

Finding great places to stop. As much as I hate the idea of over planning its not a bad idea to do a little research of places you are heading. Keep in mind places like trip advisor list the most POPULAR places. Although they might be fun they also might be packed. There might be something else as equally amazing if not better in the area that is not as busy (and/or cheaper). I love using Atlas Obscura. Just plug in a city you are going to or use their map option to look up weird places in a set area. I have found some of my best road trip stops on there. Including this fun tree:

Another great place to find places to stop is the road signs! I have enjoyed some very unique and often overlooked places by reading the “attraction” signs on the side of the highway. Including this fun little bridge in Oregon. The official shortest, and claimed oldest, covered bridge in the state.

Packing. I strongly believe that over packing is better than under packing. You have a whole car! (normally unless you are moving in which case all your stuff is with you anyways). Do not be afraid to throw in that extra sweater, or comfy pillow, or heck a tent just in case the wind blows you to a campground. There’s nothing worse to having to spend hard earned road trip money on something you could have packed and own at home or miss an experience because an item is not with you to make it happen.

Snacks. I am a big believer in a cooler. I did not always have it and now that it’s a staple road trip item of mine I don’t know how I lived without it. Easy to bring cold drinks, cheese, sandwiches to keep your expenses low and allow you to picnic wherever you want! Plus, a giant bag of snacks! You don’t always want to stop when you get the munchies. I also love finding hidden gem rest stops or viewpoints to have a snack and stretch my legs.

Navigation. Try not to rely on your GPS for the whole trip. If you have a basic destination to head towards, a state or a city, just point yourself in the right direction turn off the maps and enjoy the trek. Sometimes you miss the journey if you are focusing on following a line on your GPS. I will say I have carried a paper map of the US in the back of my car for years and never used it. Its never a bad idea to have a backup if you get lost but technology has come a long way.

Overnight Accommodations. First up, decide whether you want your overnight accommodations to be a place to rest your head or part of your experience. If you are just looking for a place to rest your head sticking to the old faithful’s (motel 6, Super 8) is not a wrong way to go. One interjection is that if you find yourself in a smaller town some of the “inns” and “motels” you might normally overlook as seedy can often be such gems. Same price as a brand name but run by families with so much more character. Either way do not be expecting ritzy quality. You are literally paying for a bed and a roof.

If you are looking for more of an experience, I’ve found great options through airbnb and hip camp. Know your budget and know that the “price per night” isn’t always the final cost so make sure you know what you are paying for before booking. On airbnb I love finding fun unique places to stay like tiny houses or hidden cabins. Hip camp gives great one of a kind alternatives to your normal overnight stay. Besides for campsites and RV parking they also offer off grid living, yurts, and overall great glamping experiences.Cost/expenses. More often then not I am on a budget for my road trip. I cannot drop hundreds on food and everything else you can find on the road. As mentioned above two great money savers are bringing snacks and avoiding highly popular attractions for cheaper (equally awesome) ones. If you know you are going to be frequenting specific attractions like National Parks, investigate getting an all-inclusive pass. More money up front but a saver in the end. Also look for attractions that give AAA discounts. Even better, find the free attractions! So many hiking spots or fun stops are 100% free. Another way is to adjust your overnight accommodations. Do not be afraid to utilize car camping at free spots or cheaper camp sites to spread out your budget.  

Fuel. I have two rules for your gas tank. If you are on the main highway start looking for a gas station as soon as your tank hits ¼. If you are anywhere off the main drag start looking for a gas station as soon as your tank hits ½. You might feel that is over exaggerating the need. However, I would rather stop more and feel confident that I can get where I am going, then miss out on great stretches of road stressing over finding a gas station. Or worse, running out of gas on some back highway.

Staying Safe. There are a few quick tips I follow for safety.

  1.  Whether you are traveling by yourself or with a friend never underestimate the way a place makes you feel. If you do not get the right vibes from someplace, do not stop. There are plenty of other amazing things out there to experience.
  2. Always make sure someone knows your itinerary. You do not need to check in at every stop just make sure someone knows your general route, i.e. what towns you are expected to stop in for the night.
  3. Take all your bags into the hotel each night. As a rule, do not leave anything in the car you don’t want taken. It might be a drag, but as someone who used to work in the rental car industry, I cannot tell you how many peoples trips were ruined by someone breaking in a window and stealing their stuff.

Hopefully, you find these tips helpful and if you would like any extra advise or have any more questions for your upcoming road trip feel free to email me! (over on my contact page).

Happy [road trip] roaming!

Big Foot Trap

Location: Big Foot Trap (Collings Mtn. Trail), Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: < 3/4s of a mile. If you can get a spot at the trailhead it is only about half a mile. Otherwise park at the Hart-tish Park parking lot and it will be ¾ of a mile. (see parking).

Elevation: 300 feet.

Cost: $5 for day use at Hart-tish Park parking lot. I got away with parking at the trail head for free but I would recommend bringing the cash.

Parking: There are roughly two spots on the side of the road for this trailhead. Otherwise parking is available across the road at Hart-tish Park (see cost for fees).

Directions: I-5 exit 30. Hwy 62 turns into Hwy 238 and follow 13.5 miles. At the town of turn left onto Applegate Rd. At 15.5 miles you can turn left into Hart-tish Park or the trailhead will be a few more feet up on the right hand side.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen. It is pretty covered with tree’s, but sunscreen is always a good idea.
  • Water. No water at trailhead. May be some available at the park but I didn’t use it. Always better to come over prepared than under.  
  • Bathroom. There is a rest stop with a pit toilet roughly half a mile before the trailhead or one available if you pay to park at Hart-tish day use area.  

Experience:

The trail is pretty much off by itself in the forest. There is a good trail head sign visible from the road (see picture above) that has a foot print telling you that you are in the right place. You start by cresting a tiny flat mound between the road and the trail, then it quickly shifts downhill hiding you immediately from the view of the road. After only a hundred feet or so the trail splits between hiker and horse access. You will cross through a wooden barricade and start a semi steep descent. Less than five minutes into the trail you cross an incredibly unique footbridge that crosses a creek. When I went (early summer) there was no water, but I would assume in the wetter seasons this footbridge would be helpful to keep you dry.  Shortly after at about a quarter mile there is a wooden bridge.

On my first pass to park at the trailhead there were forestry services parked and I assume doing trail maintenance. The trail was extremely clear the whole time. I am also assuming/hoping the several arrows hand drawn into the dirt were communication between a trail maintenance crew. Otherwise it was extremely eerie to be down this trail by yourself not knowing when the last person hiked through, following crude arrows in the dirt…

I did follow them, however, and was rewarded with my prize. Towards the last bit of trail, it forked into what felt like two very defined trails. I almost went down the wrong one when I noticed the arrow in the ground pointing to the very left trail option. I followed it and was rewarded with a creepy smiley spray painted on a cut tree that passed over the trail. In retrospect it is not creepy but when you are alone, surrounded by forest, walking towards a big foot trap; Everything seems creepy. Later I saw that the right fork of the trail is a short jaunt to a demolished/decayed minor’s cabin. I will have to explore next time!

Up the hill on the left fork is the trap!  In a nice open space with a giant steel gate is the big foot trap. Thankfully, bigfoot was not there when I got to the clearing. It has been spray painted throughout the years and was remarkably still very sturdy. Although it would be no match for Big foot!

Big Foot History:

The Big Foot trap was first created in 1974 by the North American Wildlife Research Team. Which is no longer an organization. They tried for 6 years to trap Big Foot, baiting the trap with carcasses but all they ever caught was beers. The structure is 10 by 10 feet and made with 2×12 planks, combined with heavy metal straps, and fastened to the ground by telephone poles. In 1980 the door the was bolted open for good. It is now a tourist attraction and maintained by the United States Forest Service.

Full Trail Specs:

The Big Foot Trap is part of the Collings Mtn Trail

The trail continues past the trap and increases elevation rapidly up to the ridgeline before taking you along the western edge of Collings Mountain. It will drop you into Watkins campground. If want to do the whole thing find the additional info below!

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Distance: 7 miles one way.

Elevation: 1000 feet.

Extra Trail:

There is an easy flat half mile (one way) trail between the Hart-tish day use parking lot and a rest stop up the road. It runs along the side of the lake and provides great views for little effort. If you get to the rest stop there is also a short walkway that takes you out into the lake and gives a nice view of the dam.

Until next time, Happy Roaming!

Trail Talk: Hedge Creek Falls

Location: Hedge Creek Falls (Dunsmuir, CA)

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: Less than a mile round trip, out and back trail. About a quarter mile to the falls.

Elevation: Roughly 200 feet. (My Suunto watch recorded 150 but other sites listed 200).

Cost: FREE

Parking: There is a long, undefined lot directly across from the park.

Directions: This trail can be reached from either direction on I-5. Take the exit for Siskiyou Ave.

From the north: After the exit pass under the freeway and turn right onto Dunsmuir Ave.

From the south: After taking the exit take two rights.

It will be a quick right onto the small road and the parking is directly on the right. When I went I missed the turn, but was able to adjust quickly using the parking lot of a business (Castle Rock Water) directly past the correct street for a quick U-Turn. Dunsmuir Ave is also named Mott Rd.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen. It is pretty covered with tree’s, but sunscreen is always a good idea.
  • Water. There is a water fountain at the top.
  • Shoes/Clothes. If you are going when its warmer, I would recommend a sandal/shorts combo so you can enjoy dipping into the pool below the falls. I did the whole trail in flip flops without a problem.
  • Bathroom. There was one porta potty at the top of the parking. I didn’t use it and am not sure what its condition is. I would not recommend counting on this stop to be your bathroom breath.

Experience:

Once parked I head across the street to the little park. There is a small grassy area with a few picnic tables, a gazebo with benches, and a fun water fountain. As I was starting the trail a family was settling in for a picnic lunch. The trail head is directly past the gazebo. The trail for the most part is clear, there is a small stream that appears to be routed under the trail and a few rockslides to step over. There was also a decent amount of poison oak off the trail but again the trail itself was clear. At the first switchback you are able to see the small but mighty falls and after a few more minutes you will already be to its base.

Hedge Creek Falls: For a short clip of me walking behind the falls scroll to the bottom!

The base of the falls is really special. There are a lot of larger rocks surrounding it for a nice area to spread out and enjoy. The water form the falls also pools into a great little shallow swimming hole before continuing along the creek. Be aware the whole area is pretty small and would get crowded quickly. If you are looking for a great place of water to enjoy for an extended period of time this might not be the most enjoyable. My favorite part is that there is a small cave carved out behind the falls and the trail takes you around and behind Hedge Creek Falls. Its such a unique view.

If you continue past the falls there is a bench which will allow you to admire the scene from afar. Continue down the trail that parallels Hatch Creek to a nice sized observation deck. From the deck you get a good view of Mount Shasta and the Sacramento river. She just peeked through the trees and below the clouds for me on this day.

Mount Shasta from Hedge Creek Falls Trail Overlooking Sacramento River

At this point the trail sharply turns back into an additional switch back that will take you down to the banks of the Sacramento river. Along this path is also great views of some mini falls and waterslides from Hedge Creek. At the Sacramento river I had read there was a swimming hole and a good shallow area. The water was a bit high when I went and I wasn’t able to clearly see where this spot would be but I would assume later in the season it would be a great place.

View of the Sacramento River from the end of the trail.

All in all I had a great time. With its short length and easy access from the highway it’s a great spot to stop if you are just passing through. Better than a random rest stop to stretch your legs and refresh before continuing through the mountains. I used it as just that on a long road trip starting in Monterey, CA and ending for the night in Medford, OR.

Happy Roaming!

Walking behind Hedge Creek Falls

Marriage: The Magical and the Melancholy

We had already decided to post pone the wedding, we let go of all the dreams, the plan A’s, the plan B’s, the plan C’s. I resolved myself to a future date of wedding bliss and I tried to pretend it didn’t matter. In truth the piece of paper that says we are married, really didn’t matter. I stand by my previous statement in an earlier post that another year without declaring our love into law didn’t negate the fact that we love each other. But I was still missing something. I felt robbed. Robbed of the moment where we took each other’s hands and declared to love each other forever, robbed of calling this man my husband and being his wife. What we were supposed to get on April 25th 2020 was so much more than a piece of paper and I had longed for it for so long. Especially as a girl who felt she was invincible in love, who never needed OR wanted someone. I was an independent lady who found a way to be independently and whole heartedly in love. This man had taught me I could keep flying but still have a home to roost. I was so excited for that moment to declare that I, the girl who would never be tied down, was forever tied to someone else, that’s what April 25th 2020 meant to me. Which leads to…

Monday afternoon April 20th. I was exceedingly feeling defeated. The week prior at work I had learned my manager and glue to our area would be relocated to another position. As a close-knit family this hit me and my fellow coworkers hard and we knew more layoffs were coming. We huddled at the desk trying to make guesses. We worried about our futures in and out of work. I was supposed to work that Saturday, the 25th, the day I was supposed to be married. I warned my coworker working with me that I would be sad mess to work with. Then I started thinking about how I was supposed to have Thursday off, the day that my east coast mom was supposed to get into town and her daughter, (one of my best friends and co maid of honor). We were supposed to go to COSTCO and get the food for our post wedding picnic on Sunday (a day I was also now working). I thought how I was supposed to have Friday off, go get my nails done, the flowers would be arriving for us to create our bouquets and center pieces. Friday night was supposed to be our rehearsal and we were going to be able to thank our family and friends for coming. I had gifts I was so excited to hand out.

I said FUCK IT. SO much was being taken from me, from my fiancé, from our families. I couldn’t get all those little moments back but I wanted to take back that big moment. The I DO moment. I told him that night and he was immediately onboard. The rest of the week we figured out logistics of our elopement. We got our officiant and two witnesses, a time, and a place. We wrote our vows. I waited in line outside of Target wearing my mask to get in and found the perfect white maxi dress to wear. My mom scrounged her jewelry box and found a simple silver band. Because, If I forgot to mention, my wedding dress, although had arrived was sitting unaltered, and my wedding band (and engagement ring) were sitting at the jewelers, held captive by Covid-19.

April 25th, 2020, we got married. In the front yard of my Grandpa Ask’s house out in the valley (Carmel Valley). My mom and one of Sergey’s coworker’s as our witnesses. Mom holding up a phone live streaming to our immediately family who couldn’t attend. His coworker took wedding worthy photos with the iphone. We got ready together at our apartment. I watched a youtube video to figure out how to put a simple braid headband in my hair, carefully applied more makeup than I had worn in months, and slipped into the dress I found at Target. My love put on his suit (minus his tie) and tucked our rings as well as our vows and marriage license into a paperbag with our masks and gloves. Everything was perfect. It was strange, unorthodox, but it was also us. The couple was inseparable from the first date. The couple that got engaged inside their apartment via chalkboard. We are weird and we embarked in mutual weirdness together, under the trees in the front yard of the house my grandpa built by hand, on an early Saturday spring evening.

I take nothing back. I however would be telling a falsehood if I said my mood has been anything but rocky ever since. At times I am insanely happy, I look over at the man in the kitchen doing the dishes and think “That’s MY Husband!” There are also times that I feel like it is a lie. It didn’t really happen. It was such a brief moment in time. Can that really have been it? Is this all there is? After our “I do’s” sure we stayed talking for a minute in the driveway. But there were no hugs, no embraces of congratulations. I still haven’t been able to hug my mom since I’ve been married and its already been a month. There was no big dinner out. We drove home. We made parmesan encrusted pork chops and ate them while watching tv. There wasn’t a honeymoon period. Sure, we tried our best. I wore my “wife” shirts (#marriedAF) I had ordered on Etsy and we spent the next three days in bliss before he went back to work. We walked down to the beach and splurged on a pick-up order from our local Italian restaurant. There wasn’t a return to normal after the honeymoon period, where I got to share my excitement of marriage with my friends and coworkers. I had lost my job the day before we got married. There was no moment I could squeal and hold out my hand to show off my new wedding band. Since we’ve been married all I’ve gotten to see is my husband (Sometimes my mom at a respectable social distance at the park). I love my husband, obviously since we got married, but a girl sometimes needs to share HOW MUCH she loves said husband to her girlfriends. Over wine. NOT over video chat.

I regret nothing. My feelings go up and down like a yo-yo, but If this is the world we live in, there is no other way I would have wanted April 25th to happen. This man who calls me wife is amazing. He’s supportive. He’s silly. He makes quarantine ions easier. If this is the bad I can’t wait till we get to experience the good together. This is just a salute to everyone who is feeling like a yo-yo, it’s ok. This is a strange world we live in and its ok to feel like you are drowning, its equally ok to feel over the moon. Just because the world is chaos doesn’t mean good things aren’t happening in our life. Embrace them. Treasure them. Also, drink wine.

 

 

Keep roaming.

Zion National Park

Park Talk: Zion National Park

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I had the pleasure of having a best friend trip, with my ride or die Blake, to this beautiful park last May. Maybe eight months before we went we decide to point to a national park on the map go there. The only thing we planned was that it had a trail we could backpack…and that’s about it. We didn’t know anything else. Zion wasn’t on our bucket list per se, but it quickly became one of our favorite places in the whole world. Our trip was really broken up into 2.5 pieces as far as the park was concerned. Kolab Canyon, the main drag of Zion (where we did two smaller hikes), and Springdale. I am going to include all parts here in a single blog so if you don’t care about a section they’ll be clearly labeled, and you are more than welcome to scroll through. Scroll all the way down if you want a fun and real video of our experiences!

First stop

Kolab Canyon – Overnight Backpacking Trip 

Location: Kolab Canyon (La Verkin Creek Trail)

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: Lee Pass to Kolob Arch 7 miles (one way)

Elevation change: 950 feet

Cost for backpacking permit: $5 nonrefundable for reservation. $15 for 1-2 people per site/night $20 for 3-7 people per site/night.

* For costs to enter the park please see the general Zion National Park information.

Parking: Parking is limited at the top. I would recommend getting there early if you are just going for the day. We got in late afternoon which also worked out as we were camping and only going a couple miles, we were able to snag a space from a day hiker.

Directions: Make sure if you are looking to go this side of Zion that you put in the right address to your GPS (or if you are without a GPS) you just need to make sure you are heading north on interstate 15 (exit 40) and follow the signs. This is a separate entrance from the main entrance.

Preparation: For a day hike may sure you have water and sunscreen. For a backpacking trip you will need all the essentials. There are two water sources on this trail so you can hike with less water and bring a filter. Stop in to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center at the bottom and they can advise of current water availability. When we went the creeks were FLOWING. We really didn’t need to bring as much water as we did.img_3668

The Hike: After a late afternoon start into the Canyon we set up camp at campsite two. Which is roughly 2.5 into the park form the Lee Pass trail head. Our goal for the next morning was to make it the additional 4.5 miles to the Arch and then the 7 miles back out to the car. However, as our first real backpacking trip (and my first time camping EVER) we severely underestimated the toll on our bodies of traveling the day before, immediately hiking into the wilderness, camping, and continuing on the next morning as if nothing had changed. We both felt like crap the next morning. We went maybe another half mile to a mile into the trail and made the decision to turn around. We would have loved to see the arch but our main goal was try out our backpacking gear and decide if we loved it, the arch was just a bonus. SPOILER: WE LOVED IT. We decided it wasn’t the smartest decision to continue forward not feeling well and then still need to hike 7 miles (up the 950 feet) to get back to the car, so we turned around. We still hit 10,000 steps before we got the car and we judged that a win.  Upon consideration afterwards we could have left our packs at the campsite to try hiking to the arch with less weight but as newbies to the backpacking lifestyle I think both of us felt weird leaving our homes and all our belongings behind.

Highlights of the hike. 1) The breathtaking views as you descend into the Canyon. As a gal who had never experienced this part of the country before I could not keep myself from calling it gorgeous, oh, about 100 times per minute. 2) The feeling of wilderness. As a sidestep out of the main portion of the park and really made for people who are planning on doing a serious hike there was barely anyone there. The feeling of being by yourself in this beauty is overwhelming. 3) The hike itself crossed a few different terrains. There are dessert sections, several creek crossings, a plateau of trees. It has a little bit of everything!

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Second stop…

Location: Zion National Park

Difficulty: All Levels

Distance: There are several different hikes throughout the park. For a full list I’d recommend visiting their website. Blake and I were able to go on a couple and as those will be the ones I talk about those are the only ones I’m going to list here.

Cost to enter the park: $35 for a private vehicle, $20 per person, Annual pass for Zion $70, Interagency Annual Pass (all National Parks) $80. The Private vehicle and per person tickets are good for 7 consecutive days.

Parking: There is limited parking at the park but the whole town of Sprinimg_3740gfield is set up to help the flow of people to the park. There is a free shuttle service throughout the town that drops you directly to the park entrance. Just head to your nearest shuttle stop! Once you are inside the park there is another free shuttle system that will take you to 9 different stops, just leave enough time to catch the shuttle back down from the park.

Directions: The two closest international airports are Las Vegas, Nevada (170 miles) and Salt Lake City, UT (300 miles). We flew into Vegas. Keep in mind there is an hour time change between here and Zion, with Zion being an hour later.

Preparation: Everything you might need for a day long excursion!

  • Snacks (careful the squirrels here are fearless!)
  • Sunscreen,
  • Camera
  • Water bottle: there are plenty of water fill up stations throughout the park but make sure you start with some water and have a good refillable water bottle.
  • Hiking shoes: No matter what you decide to do at the park there will be a lot of walking.

 

The Hikes:

Lower Emerald Pool Trail

Shuttle stop: 5

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip (out and back)

Elevation:img_3723 69 feet

Estimated Hiking time: 1 hour

This is a paved trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall. The path leads you behind the falls for a spectacular behind the scenes view. There are a few places where the water from the falls can get on the trail so be prepared for a few slippery spots.

 

 

Riverside Walk

Shuttle stop: 9 img_3706

Distance: 2.2 miles round trip (out and back)

Elevation: 57 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1.5 hours

This is a paved path that follows the Virgin River. It is a beautiful winding path that shows you a great view from the bottom of a canyon. You need to travel this trail to get to the mouth of the narrows and during times when the Narrows are open you can walk to the mouth of this famous trail for a quick view even if you aren’t going to attempt it. Unfortunately, when we went the river was overflowing with snow melt and the Narrows was closed.

The Town:

Springdale was such a cute and easy town to travel around. Very much catering to the tourist flow from Zion park the free shuttle service runs throughout the town not just to the park. There were a bunch of delicious eateries and a great little grocery in the center. We found a great hotel that was not too much for our budget that provided great views from the deck and hot tub!

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Overall:

Blake and I both agreed this entire park and everything around it was heaven. Even a year later we talk about how relaxed we were while we were in Zion. As a park it was extremely well organized that even when it was busy you never felt img_3782overwhelmed with people. The shuttle system really made the difference because it took the stress out of trying to get good parking at all the “good” spots. We really were at ease exploring whatever we wanted. Although we both would have enjoyed some of the more challenging hikes Zion had to offer, we both agreed we were there to adventure and explore and have a great best friend’s trip. We were not there to murder our bodies on hikes we were not quite physically ready for, or even we were, we did not want to wear ourselves out and not be able to enjoy everything else. 10/10 we would highly recommend this park and adventure to everyone, there is a little something for all levels and ages and is truly a joy to explore and pleasure to experience.

Video!

 

 

 

 

Save the Date AGAIN?! – The Ups, Downs, and In-Between of Postponing a Wedding

The Five Stages of Postponing a Wedding:

  1. Denial/Initial Fear: When I went to my bachelorette party, Covid-19 was still an overseas alarm. There was slow fear starting to edge into the United States but I put it out of my mind while I had a great weekend with my girls in New Mexico. When I got home to California there were signs of it starting to reach the United States and I started jokingly (fearfully) questioning how it would impact my wedding to my coworkers. I began the initial process of letting small pieces of my dream go, concluding that some people may not be able to travel to make it and that my wedding would still be great minus 10-20 people.
  2. Sadness #1: I went to pick up my wedding dress with my mom before shelter in place took affect and although my wedding was still 60 days out, I could feel that it wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t get excited when I tried on MY dress and I know my mom was trying so hard to make it feel special. I spent $100 on books at Barnes and Noble and went home to cry on my fiancé’s shoulder as I acknowledge this is going to affect our big day way more than we want.
  3. Bargaining: I started making plan B in case plan A couldn’t go through. Plan B being a smaller ceremony followed by a delayed reception. My mom laid out plans to set up the backyard. Meanwhile I felt like others were breathing down my neck to talk to my vendors about rescheduling. I wasn’t emotionally ready yet to do that and may have snapped at a few people.
  4. Sadness #2: Cried in my fiancé’s arms again. Realized that things with Covid-19 were getting worse and not looking like they were getting any better any time soon.
  5. Acceptance: Sat down with my man and figured out we wanted from our wedding and what we wanted our marriage to mean and feel like. Things nixed off the list: courthouse wedding. Things needed: personal vows, married by someone we love. Finally sat down and created a postponement plan, reached out to vendors, and moved the F*** on.

Final Thoughts:

It sucks. It sucks so much. We had already planned a long engagement of one and a half years. We’ve been looking forward to being husband and wife for so long, to have it delayed is heart wrenching. However, when it comes down to it, we plan on being together forever. What is another couple weeks, to several more months before we celebrate with a piece of paper? Our lives weren’t going to be different after the wedding besides for some new jewelry and a new title. Yes, it will mean something, but no it doesn’t mean the way we feel about each other is changing.

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Easy Steps to Reschedule:

*DISCLAIMER: I am doing much of this wedding myself/DIY. So I have a small number of vendors*

KEEP ORGANIZED: I like to list everything in an excel spreadsheet to see all the facts listed together. As a wedding that is very DIY I have a lot of moving pieces between households. I made a list of all items I have stored at my house, my moms house, my future mother in laws house. (I also have items that are listed elsewhere, most that got stuck during shelter in place, so I don’t forget to pick them up as soon as I can: rings are at the Jeweler, my cake topper is in the storage unit etc). Now when I start to work on wedding stuff again in 6 months I’m not going crazy trying to remember where everything is. The more organized I am the less stressed I am and everything counts during the emotional task of rescheduling such an emotional event.

New Date: Have a serious talk with your significant other. Decide on a new date that feels right for you. Do you want it as soon as possible? Is it important to you to keep it within a certain season? Consider how easy it will be for your guests to reschedule. Does everyone live locally, or will they have to travel? Is it important to have the same number of guests or would you prefer to make it smaller with the new changes? There is no wrong answer. Just what is right for you.

For me and my fiancé we decided we had a strong attachment to the date of our wedding April 25th. We also decided that with the financial hardships brought on by Covid-19 we didn’t want anyone to have to worry about affording to come to our wedding while getting back on their feet. For a small guest list, we have about half who would need to fly in. We already knew our venue would push our deposit 12 months, so we made the decision to push everything back by one year.

Vendors: You should already have a list of who they are, how much you’ve left for a deposit etc.

  1. Relist them: Add whether you’ve talked to them, if you canceled the vendor or are going to reschedule them. Add how long they will keep your deposit for, how much is left to pay, the new date they are rebooked for, and where your new contract is located for easy access. Don’t forget to add if there is a deposit being refunded, how much you are getting back, and track when it has been returned.
  2. Talk to each vendor: figure out if they will apply your deposit to another date and the length they are willing to hold/apply your deposit for.
  3. Set new dates in stone. Reach out the Venue first. Without the venue you have nothing. Just like when planning the wedding originally secure your new date with your venue. At this point you should have a good idea of what vendors are going to work with you and their available dates to domino effect this easily.
  4. Find new vendors. If needed after you have an updated contract with your venue you can hunt out new vendors if any of yours dropped out or are unavailable.

Honeymoon: First decide if you would like the same honeymoon or if you want to start from scratch. We’ve decided to keep to very similar plans of our old honeymoon with some minor tweaks. That made it easier to reschedule hotels. Then the rest is very similar to the steps for vendors, and it involves spreadsheets. Does it sound like I love spreadsheets?

  1. Relist them. What’s the hotel/activity, what was the deposit, are you rebooking or canceling, will there be a refund, did you receive your refund back, how long will your deposit keep for (if rescheduling), what’s the new date you rescheduled for, is there a new confirmation number (i.e GET ONE!)
  2. Talk to each hotel/activity. Some items you can even reschedule online which makes it easier. Some hotels will hold your deposit to a new date or even reschedule with you over the phone if you already have a new date.
  3. Once you get your wedding finalized, finalize your new dates with your hotel(s) or book new ones. Just like when originally planning you will want to book in advance. If you are scheduling your wedding for sooner rather than later keep in mind a lot of original places may be booked up. Especially if you are trying to go for a particular room, like the honeymoon suite.

For a breakdown we have six items reserved for our Honeymoon (4 hotels and 2 activities), as we were planning a mini road trip. Two hotels we canceled out right and got full refunds. Two hotels applied our deposits to later dates. One activity refunded us our deposit to a gift certificate that is good for 12 months. The second activity we decided to book for our dating anniversary in September to have a little something to look forward to. Now I have a place to start, my favorite rooms still reserved at a couple of my favorite hotels and a clean slate to book the rest. (scroll to the end of this post for a basic spreadsheet example.)

 

♥♥♥ The wedding will roam again. ♥♥♥

 

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Real life Example:

Things to Reschedule
item Canceled total paid total refund Refund received length deposit will keep date confirmed new contract?
venue N $           6,000.00 12 months Sunday, April 25, 2021 in email
caterer EMLED 4/7 (2X)
makeup artist N $                   50.00 12 months Sunday, April 25, 2021
photographer EMLED 4/7 $400.00
Flowers Y $                             – $                     –
Picnic Area Y $77.00
Yosemite Hotel Y $         251.10
Jeep tour N $441.72 Sunday, September 27, 2020 in email
Tahoe Hotel Y $         254.03 Y
Boat Tour N $                 214.83 GIFT CERTIFICATE
Mt. Shasta Hotel N $                 252.75 12 months
Featherbed B&B N $                 220.00 12 months Sunday, May 2, 2021 in email