Columbia River Gorge, Portland, OR (May 15-22, 2015)

Where we stayed - The first few nights we stayed in an airbnb rental in the Overlook neighborhood of Portland. The neighborhood was so lush with gardens in full bloom everywhere you looked. You could sense the pride people took in the care of their homes and surroundings. After spending 3 days exploring Portland and all of it's amazing quirks we headed East.We camped out during our 3 day hike throughout the Columbia River Gorge region. Our first night we hiked the Eagle-Creek trail to the 7 1/2 mile camp. The second night we hiked partially back and up the Eagle-Benson trail which elevates 3000ft over 3 miles and stayed at Camp Smokey. This was the toughest part of the whole trail. Our 3rd day we strolled slowly across the Benson plateau and down the Ruckel Creek trail #405 taking in all od the views to the North and East. From here we walked the road back to our car undefeated to complete the roughly 16 mile Eagle-Benson loop.

After our big hike we were feeling pretty triumphant, but in need of cool showers. We departed from the Gorge and headed for a little town called Rhododedron to a cabin overlooking the Sandy River. We relaxed and refueled for the next 2 days before we began our big drive.

Meals - Beans, eggs, smoked sausage, dried fruits, nuts and Backpacker's Pantry delights. Our boxed wine and chocolate was a special treat to be enjoyed at the end of each day. This was gourmet cooking at it's finest.

Activities - hiking, jumping in the river, cooking, building fires, relaxing, enjoying the scenery, making nature friends and photo-documenting the foliage, wild flowers and mountain views.

Local Tips & Attractions  just be outside and 100% immersed in nature! Drive along the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway.

  • Metlako Falls
  • Punchbowl falls
  • Loowit Falls
  • High Bridge
  • Skoonichuck Falls
  • Wy'East Falls
  • Tunnel Falls
  • 7 1/2 mile cam
  • Eagle Creek
  • Camp Smokey
  • Benson Plateau
  • Oneonta Gorge
  • Latourell Falls
  • Metlako Falls
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Mount Hood & Hood River

US 1 Drive (May 23 - June 3, 2015)

Where we stayed - after departing from the Columbia River Gorge/Mount Hood Region we began our journey down the US 1 Scenic Byway at Newport Beach, Oregon. There was no shortage of motels, but we decided to continue camping and taking in the Pacific Northwest, after all we got our setup down to about 10 minutes. 

Activities - Newport Beach Marina, Local candy shops, vintage stores, Alpaca Farms, Hearst Castle, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Redwoods National Forest, San Francisco, 

Local Tips -  the Alpaca farm tour was a highlight on our first day. We stumbled on it by accident as we were headed to the coast. When we arrived we were greeted by the owner herself. She educated us thoroughly on breeding and raising the animals as well as the differences in the quality of their furs. Alpacas are such curious and funny creatures. Watch out they spit! We then proceeded to head west to the coast at Newport, Beach to check out the barking sea lions and local salt-water taffy shops.

For Philip's 30th birthday I decided to plan a special trip. I had been following an Instagramer, @OregonExplored for some time and their posts along with our love of the outdoors became the inspiration for this trip. I saw one picture of the Oneonta Gorge and thought to myself, "I want to go to there."

After weeks of research, I realized that the best way to explore this region was on foot, which meant an expensive trip to REI to gear up was in order. The process of planning out all of our supplies and gear and imagining ourselves alone out in the wilderness was a lot of fun.

I had a conference scheduled in Dana Point, CA towards the end of the month so we decided to begin our journey in Portland for a few days, head into the Gorge for our big hike, and then head down the Pacific Coast Highway to finish off in southern California. We chose not to stay in fancy hotels, but in the comfort of our little HubbaBubba wherever the road took us. 

Packing lists

Lisa's Pack - Osprey Aura AG 50 fully loaded with H20, dehydrated food from Backpacker's Pantry, eggs, tortillas, peanut butter and other odds and end calorie filled snacks.

Philip's Pack - Gregory Palisade 80 fully loaded with H2O.

Denver, CO (Feb 13 - Mar 2, 2015)

Where we stayed - The Hyatt Regency

Restaurants -  Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen, Rioja, Jimmy's Urban Bar & Grill, Cheba Hut, 

Activities - There are lot's of local candy shops and specialty stores to explore. The Denver Aquarium, although small, was a treat. Market Street is beautiful to walk down at night.

Local Tips -  Dress with layers! One day it was snowing, the next it was 65 degrees and sunny! 

Costa Rica (November 1 - 14, 2014)

Where we stayed - The beautiful Villa Temenos in Dominical, Costa Rica. 

Restaurants -  PorQueNo? Cuna del Angel, Dominical Sushi, Cafe el Sueno, Roca Verde, Las Palapa Restaurant, Cafe Delicias, Jolly Roger

Activities - Exploring Manual Antonio National Park, Zip-lining, hiking, horseback riding, stand up paddle boarding, bird watching, playing with the stray dogs that roamed about, watching the sun set over the horizon, eating fresh local food.

Local Tips -  Mingle with the locals and practice your Spanish skills. Eat the comida tipica at the sodas (local cafes). Live a little!

Costa Rica is one of my favorite places on earth. In November 2014, we took our second trip to this beautiful country. We were brainstorming a place to take the Mamacita, aka Renee Chevalier, to celebrate her 60th Birthday. During a conversation where we asked her if she'd like to go there, she responded "why would I want to go there when I live in Florida?" Immediately we knew that she was in for a real treat and called Philip's sister, Sophie, who quickly agreed. 

This time we decided to select a location that was a little less traveled than Arenal, Quepos and Santa Teresa. We chose Playa Dominical due to it's remoteness from the larger towns and quickly coordinated all of our airfare. The digs were to be a surprise upon arrival known to no other but me. 

We arrived on schedule and began our 3 hour drive along country dirt roads, up and down steep hills and through ditches overflowing with rain water. When we finally arrived, our palace in the jungle was lit up and waiting for us. 

I cannot say enough about how beautiful this place was. It was positioned high on a hilltop, in the rainforest, overlooking the ocean. Each Palapa had a floor plan that opened right up to the surrounding environment. From the rain bath showers with ocean views to the floating pool stairs, they literally thought of everything. Henry, the grounds keeper was there to greet us and provide local advice for our stay.

This trip was a memorable experience for us all and I can't wait to go back!

Hawaii - Big Island and Kauai

Where we stayed - Courtyard Mariott King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel & Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

Restaurants - 

Activities - hiking along the Napali Coast, touring the coast on a Zodiac, surfing, beach naps, jumping with the locals into hidden waterfalls.

Local Tips -  

I was called out of the blue by one of the training companies that I teach for and asked to teach a 4 day intensive lecture series in Big Island, Hawaii all expenses paid– naturally I agreed. Philip decided to tag along and we extended the trip around the lectures to explore these curious little islands.