EXPLORING OREGON – The Devil’s Punchbowl

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a breathtakingly beautiful natural wonder that will leave you in awe. Located on the picturesque central coast of Oregon, this incredible geological formation is a stunning sight to behold. As you approach the area, you can hear the sound of the waves crashing against the rocky shoreline, beckoning you to come and explore.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a massive sea cave that has been carved out of the rocky cliffs by the relentless force of the Pacific Ocean. The cave is roughly 100 feet in diameter, and the sheer power of the ocean has created a natural amphitheater that is both stunning and humbling. The rocks around the cave have been smoothed over time, and the swirling patterns carved into them by the waves are a testament to the raw power of nature.

What makes the Devil’s Punchbowl so unique is its accessibility, or lack thereof. The cave is only accessible during low tide, which means that visitors have to time their visit correctly to see it. During high tide, the seawater fills up the cave, creating a turbulent swirling effect that is both mesmerizing and powerful.

To reach the Devil’s Punchbowl, visitors must hike down a well-maintained trail from the nearby parking lot to the beach. The trail offers stunning views of the coastline and is an easy to moderate hike that is suitable for all skill levels. Once you reach the beach, you can explore the tide pools and watch the waves crash against the rocky shoreline. The sound of the waves and the salty sea air make for a truly immersive experience that will stay with you long after you leave.

For the more adventurous, there are guided kayak tours available that take visitors inside the Devil’s Punchbowl cave. The tour guides are knowledgeable about the area’s history and geology and provide an unforgettable experience. As you paddle into the cave, the sound of the waves echoes off the walls, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. The experience is both exhilarating and calming at the same time, as you feel the power of the ocean all around you.

As you wander through the rocks the terrain feels surreal. There is so much to explore and so much sea life now visible at low tide. Shells, agates, muscles, sea urchins, starfish, and so much more ready to be discovered. There were many explorers this early morning, both young and old. We were surprised to find a young guide, a college student volunteer, who was a great source of information on the area’s eco system.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is not just a beautiful natural wonder but is also steeped in history and legend. According to local folklore, the Devil’s Punchbowl was created by the Devil himself, who, in a fit of rage, punched a hole in the earth and let the ocean flow in. While the geological explanation for the cave’s creation is a little less exciting, the myth adds to the area’s allure and makes it an even more intriguing destination.

Overall, the Devil’s Punchbowl is a stunning destination that offers visitors a unique experience that they won’t find anywhere else. The combination of natural beauty, history, and folklore makes it a memorable destination for adventurers and nature lovers alike. We will never forget this magical spot. It was my favorite, and I wish I had spent more time there.

Whether you choose to explore the tide pools or take a guided kayak tour, the Devil’s Punchbowl is a destination that should not be missed on your next trip to Oregon.

EXPLORING OREGON – Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is a stunningly beautiful and serene national park located in southern Oregon. It is the deepest lake in the United States, with a depth of nearly 2,000 feet. It is also known for its crystal-clear blue waters, which are some of the bluest in the world.

The lake was formed over 7,000 years ago when the top of Mount Mazama collapsed following a massive volcanic eruption. Over time, the crater filled with rain and snowmelt, forming the deep, clear lake that we see today. Crater Lake was established in 1902, and is the only national park in Oregon.

One of the most popular activities at Crater Lake is hiking. The park has a number of trails that offer breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding area. Some of the most popular hikes include the Rim Trail, which offers panoramic views of the lake, and the Watchman Peak trail, which offers a challenging but rewarding climb to the top of the peak. We visited Crater Lake for one day, and we chose to hike the Cleetwood Cove Trail. This is the only trail with access to the shore of Crater Lake.

The trail is steep and strenuous, and not for the faint of heart. It is a 2.2 mile roundtrip trail that drops 700 feet in elevation through a series of switchbacks. There are a few shaded areas and benches to sit and catch your breath, or simply take in the views. Expect high traffic in the summer, and prepare for the heat. Once you’ve reached the bottom of the lake, take some time to relax and enjoy the view. The clear water is inviting, with great spots for diving and swimming, if you don’t mind the icy cold water.

Crater Lake is a great place for wildlife viewing. The park is home to a variety of animals, including black bears, mule deer, bald eagles, and my favorite, the chipmunk. The best time to spot wildlife is in the early morning or late evening, when the animals are most active.

I wanted to take this little one home with me!

Can you see the volcano in the middle of the lake? Wizard Island is a volcanic cinder cone forming an island at the west side of the lake. It rises 767 feet above Crater Lake’s surface. A boat will take you there in the summer months. You can hike the Summit Trail, a moderate hike that will take you to the top of the island in about an hour.

If you are planning a longer stay to fully explore Crater Lake, there are some in-park accommodations. Crater Lake Lodge, The Cabins at Mazama Village, and Mazama Campground are all excellent choices. You will have to plan ahead as these are usually booked months in advance. You can also opt to stay at a nearby campgound or hotel.

Crater Lake is a truly incredible place that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a hiker, boater, or wildlife enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to see and do in this beautiful national park.

Hiking Do’s and Don’ts

Hiking is a popular outdoor activity that allows people to explore nature, get some exercise, and relax. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or new to the sport, it’s important to follow some basic guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some hiking do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

Do:

  1. Plan ahead: Before you head out on the trail, make sure you have a clear plan in mind. Know your route, the distance you’ll be covering, and the estimated time it will take. It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  2. Wear the right clothing: It’s important to dress appropriately for the weather and the terrain. Wear layers that can be easily added or removed, and be sure to bring a hat, gloves, and sunscreen for sunny days. Hiking boots or sturdy shoes with good grip are also a must.
  3. Stay hydrated: Dehydration is a common issue for hikers, especially on hot days. Make sure you bring plenty of water and drink often to stay hydrated. It’s also a good idea to bring a water purification system in case you come across a stream or other water source.
  4. Follow the Leave No Trace principles: These principles encourage hikers to respect the environment and minimize their impact on the land. This includes properly disposing of trash, staying on established trails, and leaving plants and wildlife undisturbed.

Don’t:

  1. Underestimate the difficulty of the trail: It’s important to choose a trail that is within your fitness level. Don’t push yourself too hard or take on a trail that is beyond your ability. It’s better to start with an easier trail and work your way up to more challenging ones.
  2. Go alone: While solo hiking can be a rewarding experience, it’s generally safer to hike with at least one other person. This way, you have someone to help in case of an emergency or injury.
  3. Neglect safety precautions: Always carry a first aid kit, a map and compass (or GPS device), and a whistle in case you need to signal for help. It’s also a good idea to let someone know your route and expected return time.
  4. Leave valuables behind: It’s best not to bring unnecessary valuables on a hike, but if you do, make sure you keep them secure. Pickpockets and thieves can target hikers, especially in crowded areas.

By following these do’s and don’ts, you can ensure that your hiking experience is safe and enjoyable. Always remember to respect the environment and be prepared for unexpected situations. Happy hiking!

EXPLORING OREGON – A Beach and a Hike in Tillamook County

Surrounded by the coastal rainforest and situated right on Netarts Bay is the small community of Netarts, in Tillamook County. We arrived in Netarts in the middle of the night, and settled in at our charming Airbnb, the Edgewater Cottage. I couldn’t wait for morning to explore this region of the Oregon coast.

Netarts Bay stretches seven miles along the northern coast and, like most coastal towns in Oregon, offers breathtaking views, crabbing, clamming, hiking, boating, and hunting for treasure along the beach. While the entire country suffered from the most extreme heat in history, we were lucky to enjoy temperatures in the 50s and 60s every day at the coast in late July and early August.

The view directly in front of our cottage was breathtaking.

Rising early every morning to explore the beauty of the Oregon coast was a perfect way to beat the crowds. We often had the beach and hiking trails to ourselves, allowing us to take it all in without distractions. On our first morning in Netarts, we explored the bay just steps away from our cottage. Descending steep stairs, we were greeted by a mystical and gauzy beach at low tide. To my surprise, we were not the only early risers. There were numerous couples and families exploring sealife and enjoying the ethereal landscape.

On this first morning, on this beautiful beach, I felt completely at peace in my surroundings. This was the beginning of a love of the Pacific Coast, and I knew that two weeks was not sufficient time to enjoy the natural wonders of this region. It was time to explore one of over 2,900 hiking and biking trails in Oregon.

CAPE LOOKOUT, CAPE TRAIL

Cape Lookout is a 4.7 mile in and out trail with an elevation of close to 800 ft. The trailhead offers plenty of parking, although we had our pick of the entire lot at 6:30 a.m. when we arrived for our hike. There are restrooms conveniently located at the parking lot.

Cape Lookout is a moderate hike that takes a little over two hours to complete. The trail is muddy at certain spots, with moderate inclines. You are hiking along a cliff hundreds of feet above the sea. About a 1/2 mile into the hike, the trail reveals a stunning view of the ocean. We were above the clouds.

This first viewpoint is near the site where a B-17 bomber crashed in 1943. A plaque set in a boulder, in memory of those who lost their lives, is visible right along the trail.

The entire trail surrounds you with lush forest as you navigate through tangled tree roots, rocks, and muddy terrain. Halfway through the hike, the trail is not well maintained and you need to tread carefully through large boulders until you reach several narrow boardwalk paths leading to a cabled off viewpoint with a bench to sit and take in the expansive views of the ocean.

This beautiful trail is also known as a great spot for whale watching during the whale migration to Alaska from March to June.

We finished our hike completely alone, and as we were coming to the end of the trail, a few visitors were beginning their hike. Cape Lookout is a popular trail that does get crowded in late morning and afternoon hours. I suggest starting early for a serene hiking experience that delivers spectacular views.

EXPLORING OREGON – Goonies Never Say Die!

As a diehard Goonie geek, this title seemed perfectly fitting for the start of our Oregon adventure. This is my first time traveling to the west coast of the U.S., and I am already in love on day one of our trip.

We begin our Oregon journey in Astoria. Founded in 1811, Astoria is known for much more than the home of the iconic 1980’s film The Goonies. Astoria sits on the Columbia River near the Pacific, and was named by its founder John Jacob Astor, a fur trader from New York. Astoria grew to become an important port city, attracting Swedish and Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century to work in fishing and cannery jobs.

Through the early 1900’s, Astoria’s economy depended on fishing, fish canneries, and lumber, with the North Pacific Brewing Company significantly contributing to Astoria’s economy as well. Today, logging and fishing are still strong, but Astoria’s growing art community, tourism, and light manufacturing are the main economic means of the city.

As you approach the city you are greeted by a charming view of hillside homes and the impressive Astoria-Melgar bridge. The Astoria-Melgar bridge is the second longest continuous truss bridge in the world and stretches from Astoria to Point Ellice, Washington.

We headed straight to the Goonies house. Imagine living in the house made famous by a popular film. The owners are kind to accommodate Goonie obsessed fans like me by allowing visitors to walk up to the house for a closer look.

I can almost see Mikey, Brand, Data, Mouth, and my favorite, Chunk scheming their pirate treasure adventure.

As a true Goonie fan, I wore a Goonie t-shirt (don’t judge) to properly explore Goonie movie sites. Next on the Goonie tour we visited the county jail, where Jake Fratelli planned his escape with the help of Mama and brother, Francis Fratelli. The movie jail is the old Clatsop County Jail that became the Oregon Film Museum in 2010 at the 25th anniversary of the film. For a $6 entry fee, the museum features exhibits and memorabilia from films made in Oregon. Visitors can also create their own short films in the exhibits featuring sets and green screens. At the end of your visit, you can purchase souvenir items at the museum shop.

Right next to the jail is the Flavel House Museum. This Victorian beauty was featured in the Goonies as the museum where Mikey’s dad worked as a curator. The Flavel house was home to Captain George Flavel, who built his home from 1884 – 1886. Flavel was a beloved man in the community for his kindness, integrity and support of Astoria residents. As a successful entrepreneur and bar pilot, guiding ships navigating through the mighty Columbia River, he was the first millionaire of Astoria. He lived in his stunning home with his wife Mary Christina Boeling, and two daughters, Katie and Nellie. The couple also had a son who had married and lived in his own home.

When you enter this magnificent house, you are welcomed by a majestic hall, with formal rooms on either side designed for entertaining. A music room features a grand piano and other instruments, with exquisite furniture pieces demonstrating the wealth of the family. A parlor, dining room, and library complete the front rooms of the house. The kitchen and a bathroom are at the back. A grand staircase leads you to the second floor with five bedrooms and a bathroom. Twelve foot ceilings, elegant fireplaces, carved wood mantels and doors built by master craftsmen have stood the test of time. The Flavel house was fortunately spared by a devastating fire that destroyed most of Astoria in 1922. Today, the Flavel house, along with the beautifully maintained gardens and carriage house, stands proud as one of Astoria’s treasured historical landmarks.

One of the things we are excited to experience on our Oregon adventure is the food scene. Known as one of the best foodie cities in the U.S., we look forward to our visit to Portland in a few days. Along the coast, we are getting our fill of some of the best fresh and locally sourced seafood in the Pacific Northwest. We decided on lunch at the SEA Crab House, where I began my quest for the best clam chowder in Oregon. Stay tuned for the Great Clam Chowder review! My husband has his own quest for the best raw oysters. Both dishes were delectable, and the panoramic view of the Columbia River was spectacular. The SEA Crab House is owned by Patta and Kim, foodies and Thailand natives. SEA stands for South East Asian, combining a fusion of Thai and Cajun flavor for a unique and delicious culinary experience.

In a true Goonie state of mind, we finished our visit at one of the favorite tourist destinations in Astoria. If shipwrecks excite you, visit the Wreck of the Peter Iredale in Fort Stevens State Park. The Peter Iredale ran ashore in 1906, and it has been there to delight visitors ever since.

The Peter Iredale reigns on this stretch of beach like a ghostly reminder of its deadly voyage. This awesome site is not part of our Goonie tour, but it does feel like a place the Goonies would explore to find One-Eyed Willy and his treasure.

Here’s a fun fact. One-Eyed Willy’s ship was The Inferno. It was 105 feet long and took 2.5 months to construct. The ship was kept a secret from the Goonies cast. The director, Richard Donner, wanted to capture the true reactions of the cast for a spectacular scene. The reaction was indeed completely real when a surprised Josh Brolin shouted “F**k!! upon seeing the ship, consequently ruining the scene.

You may wonder about the scene at the end of the film where the pirate ship is seen sailing among massive rocks jutting out of the ocean. This scene was shot at Cannon Beach, south of Astoria. We visited Haystack Rocks at Cannon Beach, but as majestic as these rocks are, they were not visible because of the intense fog. Although we were a bit disappointed, we had the opportunity of visiting a lovely beach town.

Visiting Astoria brought back memories of watching a magical film with my young daughters. The Goonies represents that sense of adventure innate in the fabric of our family, that childhood innocence that takes us to places unexplored, and fills us with excitement and wonder. I hope that whatever takes you to Astoria brings as much joy to you as it did to me.

Old Ingraham Highway

The more we get outdoors, the more we disconnect from our everyday life.  Not the great everyday life that includes our friends and family (although I guess that depends on your family), but the stuff that everyday living is made of.  We rush through our days, wishing for the weekend, then wishing for the next weekend, then the summer, and forward to the next holiday or vacation.  We do this over and over, and before you know it, years pass. . .many years pass.  You begin to think about your life and suddenly those things you covet, that house, that car, those sexy must-have pair of high-heeled pumps, becomes a shallow reminder of a life missing something that isn’t measured in material possessions.

And here we are, it’s the weekend, and time to disconnect once more to experience life in its simplest form.   We set off to hike one of the many trails in Everglades National Park, Old Ingraham Highway.  Prepared with our hydration packs, sunblock, and insect repellent, we are well equipped to manage our weekend hike.

Ingraham Highway was completed in the early 1900’s and was named after James E. Ingraham, president of the Model Land Company and vice president of the Florida East Coast Railway.  He worked together with Henry Flagler in the development of South Florida.  Ingraham Highway ran the distance from Homestead to Flamingo.  Flamingo, once thought to become a booming town with the prospect of Henry Flagler’s plans for the East Coast Railway to Key West, is today no more than a ghost town.

Map of Ingraham Hwy, Homestead, FL

The abandoned highway in the middle of the Everglades now offers an interesting biking and hiking trail.  The views are typical South Florida. With sawgrass, cypress trees, and hardwood hammocks in the distance, this serene environment is home to alligators, wading birds, snakes, turtles, amphibians and more.  We heard the deep growling sound of several alligators, but none joined us on our walk.  If you have a fear of bugs, the flying kind or any other, you will need to keep an eye out and walk briskly.  We found many of these toxic insects on our hike— the lubber grasshopper.

IMG_8980 Since we started late in the day, we hiked no more than four miles of this trail.  It was a perfect warm, breezy, and sunny day.  Thoughts tend to wander in the serenity of our surroundings.  Thoughts of friends, children, grandchildren, what I’m making for dinner, my dad, my husband, where we’ve been, and what the future holds.  I can’t help but smile and feel completely at peace, and looking forward to our next hiking adventure.

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Live, Love. . . Let’s Do This

After meeting late in life, we are a couple in love, knowing that sometimes second, even third chances don’t come easily.  We are Olga and Rolando, and while working through the monotony of everyday life, we still dream big.  And now, through the eyes of a couple starting life anew, today we have decided to embark on a pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago.  Also known as The Way of St. James, for many this path begins in the Pyrenees, and continues through northwestern Spain to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Our love of hiking began while on our honeymoon in Georgia.  There’s something about pushing yourself to walk long distances on beautiful trails, some easy, some hard, but oh so rewarding when you’re done.  This picture was taken while hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains.  It was during our time in Georgia that we began to fantasize about tackling the Appalachian Trail.  We began to follow seasoned hikers of the AT on YouTube, and thought…we can do this!  Now we have set our goal to walk a path a bit further away from home, and hope to walk El Camino, a visual, spiritual, and physical adventure stretching over 500 miles.

Back home in Miami, we have begun to plan for our future journey.  This morning we didn’t venture off too far from home.  We did an urban hike on Ludlam Trail, a new 6.2 mile trail through Miami, created in the old East Coast Florida railway system.  We look forward to training throughout different trails for the next two years, and sharing our experiences in our preparation to conquer El Camino.

Here are some pictures of our hike on Ludlam Trail in Miami.