Texas and Back Again

In April I took a trip to Texas for a wedding/music festival.  It was another one of those trips that I planned on taking alone and not meeting up with anyone.  One of those “eh, I’ll make friends or run into someone I know I’m sure, just buy a ticket and see what happens” kinda trips.  Those trips always turn out to be the best and this one did not disappoint.  It turned out that my Muddy family could go and I was excited to see them and camp with them again!

On the way out I stopped at as many Park sites as I could.  I visited Walnut Canyon National Monument, El Morro National Monument, El Malpais National Monument, and Chemical National Memorial.  Walnut Canyon was, by far, my favorite.

Walnut Canyon features 800 year old cliff dwellings with 25 that you can walk right past on the Island Trail.  The Island Trail is only a mile loop, but you decent 185 vertical feet to get to the dwellings and have to climb that 185 feet back up.  273 steps on this trail and it is worth every single one.

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The Inscription Rock Trail Loop at El Morro National Monument takes you past hundreds of Spanish and Anglo inscriptions, as well as pre–historical petroglyphs.  It was cool to see all the inscriptions and think about the people who wrote them.

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Chamizal National Memorial commemorates the diplomatic settlement of a long-standing border dispute between the United States and Mexico.

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The main event of the trip was the Walk this Earth Music Festival and Liz & Jareds wedding.  Liz and Jared put a lot of hard work into everything and it showed! The ranch was beautiful and amazing and no detail was missed.  The music was awesome, the food was amazing (even though I didn’t eat much of any of it with it being meat and all), and there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowed during the wedding ceremony.

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It was a fantastic trip with music, friends, and celebration!

Oregon Adventure

Last week I on went on an adventure through Oregon.  The main purpose of my trip was to attend Ruckus in the Boonies in Heppner, OR, but if you know anything about me, you know I packed in as much as I could along the way.

One of my favorite musicians, J.B. Beverley, had a couple of shows scheduled along my route to the festival, so I thought I would take a couple of extra days off work and check those out.  But before I headed up to see him I wanted to check out Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve.

Oregon Caves is located 20 miles from the town of Cave Junction.  I highly recommend the cave tour, since it is the main attraction of the park, although I was told that they had some pretty phenomenal milk shakes at the Chalet that may steal the show.  Tours are $10.00 and worth every cent.  Caves aren’t for everyone, let me tell you.  If you are claustrophobic or afraid of heights, this may not be the tour for you.  I know a fear of heights in a cave sounds counterintuitive, but there were lots of stairs involved in this cave.  500 stair steps to be exact.  You descend down into the cave and have to come back up.  Most of this is pretty gradual, but there are a few steep set of stairs. I conquered both my fears and made it through the whole 90 minute tour.  There is not a lot of room in some parts of the cave and they want to make sure the bats stay protected so backpacks were not allowed in the cave.  I could have carried my camera, but opted to leave it in the car and just enjoy the tour. So, sorry folks, no Oregon Cave pictures to post with this one.

Next stop was Rouge River, OR to see J.B. Beverly play at Cattlemens Bar.  The people of Rouge River were the nicest people ever and it was wonderful to see J.B. once again.

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The next day I spent the day in downtown Grants Pass.  I wandered through all the cute little shops, checked out all the bear statues and ate at The Haul, which had excellent food and beers.  I found a super convenient hotel directly across the street from the venue J.B. would be playing at that evening and settled in.  Later that evening I headed out to the show and got to meet the ever so talented Cameron Romero (pictured above).

Cameron is working on the film “Beverley: American Driftings of a Folk Anti-Hero,” which you can find out about here.  It was an honor to watch both Cameron and J.B. work for three days.  These men love what they do and I’m excited to see the final product of their adventures together.

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The next morning I left Grants Pass and set out on my long drive to Heppner, OR.  The last time I made this drive the ground was covered in snow, so it was nice to see the contrast of the summer forest vs the winter conditions I had driven through.

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The view from Grants Pass to Bend, OR

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The view of nothingness on the way to Heppner, OR

I made it to Heppner, met up with the awesome ex-roommate, set up camp, and was ready for music!  This was the third year for Ruckus in the Boonies and my first year attending.  The line up included James Hunnicutt, The Pine Box Boys, The Sawyer Family, The Drunken Cuddle, Gallows Bound, Stoned Evergreen Travelers, and so many more!

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Heppner is a tiny town in northeast Oregon with a population of a little over 1,000 people.  The whole town was wonderful to us and made the festival and the trip that much more enjoyable.

I enjoyed everything about my Oregon adventures.  I got to see so many wonderful people, catch up with and make new friends, see new places, and listen to some great music!

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Mother’s Day in the Central Valley

I was able to get home for Mother’s Day this year and had a lot of fun exploring all the wonderful outdoor activities the Central Valley has to offer.

The first place mom and I visited was the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.  The Chaffee Zoo recently completed a 13 acre expansion that is very impressive.  It had been awhile since I had been to the zoo and I was seriously impressed with the new exhibits.  I’m proud of our zoo and can’t wait to see what else they have in store for the animals there!

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A pile of rocks?

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That’s not a rock!

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On Mother’s Day we headed up to Project Survival’s Cat Haven in Dunlap, CA.  The Cat Haven sits on 100 acres just West of Kings Canyon National Park and is home to approximately 28 wild cats.  The haven is used for rehabilitation,  education, and preservation of wild cat.  You can check them out at http://cathaven.com/ to learn more.  We took a tour of the property, which is about a quarter mile guided tour that lasts about an hour or so.  We had an awesome tour guide, who was also a handler, that gave us a ton of information on each animal.  If you are ever in the Central Valley or in Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Park, I highly recommend stopping by and checking this place out.  This was my second visit to the cat haven, and I plan to stop in again the next time I am on my way to the National Parks.

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Best tour guide ever!

Since we were so close to the national parks, we decided to continue our adventure and buy mom her annual park pass for mother’s day.  Unfortunately it was SUPER foggy and wet in the park that day.  We had lunch in the park and then headed back home.  We DID see a black bear though!

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Overall, it was a great trip back home!

 

 

Long Island Adventures

I had a four day break from my house sitting duties in Stony Brook and took a little adventure around Long Island.

Long Island isn’t really all that exciting, and there isn’t a whole lot to do.  It’s also very expensive to camp.  That’s okay.  I got creative in my camping and was able to entertain myself the whole time. I spent a couple of days exploring nature and then took advantage of the wonderful Sachem Public Library in Holbrook, NY.  The library also had a cute little park on it’s property for library goers to enjoy.

A couple of tips on getting around all those expensive park fees and camping fees:

– wait until after 4pm to enter a state park on Long Island OR enter before 8am.  Most only charge an entrance fee or parking fee between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. This little trick saved me $28+ in entrance and parking fees.

-Park in the day parking or guest parking overnight if you have a vehicle that fits in a normal parking spot.  I came into one of the parks after hours and parked in the day parking lot and was able to sleep there no problem.  Saved me another $28 in campsite fees.

I also attempted to go to Long Beach Town Park, but when I arrived at the gate I was told that it was for Smithtown Residents only.  The guard did allow me to park and take a few pictures of the boats though.  At least I got to see that much.

I’m back at my house sitting assignment today.  It’s nice to shower and not have to come up with an itinerary for the day!

Now, I hope you enjoy these photos and this cheesy video of my Long Island adventures this week.

Hither Hills State Park

Hither Hills State Park

Hither Hills State Park

Hither Hills State Park

Cedar Point County Park

Cedar Point County Park

Montauk Point Lighthouse

Montauk Point Lighthouse

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Inside/Out Park at library

Inside/Out Park at library

Long Beach Town Park

Long Beach Town Park

 

 

Working Out on the Road

One of the biggest things Lacy and I look forward to when we start our adventure is more time to get fit.  Working out can be a little tricky when you are traveling, but we have always managed to get it done.  There is always a shopping center to walk, a park to explore, and sometimes even a mountain to climb, wherever we are.  We even managed to get in a little hike at a rest stop in Donner Pass one time.

Last week when we were in Atascadero we went to the Atascadero Lake Park just to walk around.  When we walked down to the lake we found some exercise equipment.  You know the ones, the wood posts and metal bars that if you didn’t read the directions on what to do, you would have no idea what they were there for.  If you still don’t know what I am talking about, don’t worry, there will be pictures soon.

We weren’t expecting this little exercise zone so we weren’t dressed to really do a work out with them, but we at least tried the moves.  Jeans and a halter type top are not ideal workout clothes, especially when you are required to hop.

We do look forward to finding more workout zones in parks when we are finally out on the road full time.  They will make for fun workouts when we are dressed for it!  Actually they were fun when we weren’t dressed for it, we just didn’t get any benefits (other than some hilarious pictures) out of it.

Speaking of pictures….Let’s get to it!

Ok, at this station you are supposed to hop over each bar.  Feet together. Hop.  Being the graceful people that we are (can you sense the sarcasm here?  I hope so.) we were of course terrified that if we hopped, our toes would catch the bar and we would eat dirt.  We didn’t, but we still don’t look anything close to graceful in any of these pictures.

Getting ready to hop

Getting ready to hop

Lacy looks like she is riding an imaginary horse here

Lacy looks like she is riding an imaginary horse here

My first "hop" wasn't really a hop and my landing looks like I am dancing

My first “hop” wasn’t really a hop and my landing looks like I am dancing

Second hop was a success but now I look like I might poop!

Second hop was a success but now I look like I might poop!

In the air!

In the air!

A close up of my jump.  Hilarious!

A close up of my jump. Hilarious!

This next one you were supposed to arm walk across.  You can tell by Lacy’s expression in the first picture what we thought about that!

Lacy looks thoroughly disgusted by this equipment and exercise.

Lacy looks thoroughly disgusted by this equipment and exercise.

Pretty sure this is NOT the correct way to use this one

Pretty sure this is NOT the correct way to use this one

Lacy pretends to be a sloth rather than do the workout

Lacy pretends to be a sloth rather than do the workout

Morro Bay State Park

Since we weren’t quite ready to head back home after hiking on Sunday we decided to go thru Morro Bay State Park and have lunch at the Bayside Cafe.

Before lunch we walked around the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History and checked out the gift shop.  We didn’t actually go into the  museum, we were running out of time and feeling rather cheap (didn’t want to spend the 5 bucks to get in).  We did get to check out the cool little garden of natural plants they had right outside the building and found two little birds nesting in the middle of it.  We also checked out the mural and hiked up to see the (would be stunning if it wasn’t hazy) view of Morro Rock.

These little birds let me sneak up close enough to snap a few pictures of them.

These little birds let me sneak up close enough to snap a few pictures of them.

Lacy riding the dolphin

Lacy riding the dolphin

Lacy having fun with the mural at the Museum of Natural History in the Morro Bay State Park

Lacy having fun with the mural at the Museum of Natural History in the Morro Bay State Park

Having fun with the mural at the Museum of Natural History at Morro Bay State Park

Having fun with the mural at the Museum of Natural History at Morro Bay State Park

Lacy is happy to be in Morro bay

Lacy is happy to be in Morro bay. She really is. We joke about how non-photogenic she is!

Lunch at Bayside Cafe

Lunch at Bayside Cafe

Lacy checking out the menu at Bayside Cafe

Lacy checking out the menu at Bayside Cafe

Beautiful flowers outside of the restaurant

Beautiful flowers outside of the restaurant

Montaña de Oro State Park

Last Sunday we decided we wanted to get in some hiking before we headed home from our trip to the coast.  We had stayed in Morro Bay Saturday night so we were close to Montaña de Oro State Park and could make the most of our time.

Once we arrived in the park we stopped at the first available day use parking lot and started out to see what we could see.  We only walked a short way, in sand, and decided this was not the trail for us.  Hiking the dunes did not sound like a quick fun hike before we left.  The short walk out there was worth it though.  It did allow me to capture this beautiful picture of some brave souls climbing the dunes.

People climbing the dunes at Montaña de Oro State Park

People climbing the dunes at Montaña de Oro State Park

We got back in the car and drove down a little bit further and found one of the bluff trails that was more our speed for the day.  We did a 3 mile loop that had some breathtaking views and gave us a little glimpse of some wildlife too.

One of the views from our hike - Montaña de Oro State Park

One of the views from our hike – Montaña de Oro State Park

Lacy on the trail in Montaña de Oro State Park

Lacy on the trail in Montaña de Oro State Park

More views at Montaña de Oro State Park

More views at Montaña de Oro State Park

Lacy taking in the view at Montaña de Oro State Park

Lacy taking in the view at Montaña de Oro State Park

Another view from our hike at Montaña de Oro State Park

Another view from our hike at Montaña de Oro State Park

Montaña de Oro State Park

Montaña de Oro State Park

I would have loved to hike down there if we had the time - Montaña de Oro State Park

I would have loved to hike down there if we had the time – Montaña de Oro State Park

Great place for a warning sign - Montaña de Oro State Park

Great place for a warning sign – Montaña de Oro State Park

Keep an eye out this week for more posts from our trip.  I have some great photos from Morro Bay and a short post on keeping fit on the road!  There will also be a few photos from Montaña de Oro State Park featured in my Theme Thursday blog this week.