Tag Archives: oregon

2015 in review

12 Jan

What is an annual review for me? A time to reflect on the highlights and the things that didn’t go quite as planned. A time of new goals and visions for the year ahead. 2014 was a quiet year. 2015 was a bit more exciting:

  1. Wrote and published my first photography guide.
  2. Redid my entire website complete with a shop so you can buy my photos and books.
  3. Went to four countries in Africa which included a safari in Kenya—A dream come true.
  4. Traveled to Australia, my fifth continent…officially. Visited my mastermind friends, only the second time we’ve met in person but we’ve talked almost weekly for three years. Country count is now at 40 since I’m counting Taiwan.
  5. Volunteered at my favorite conference, WDS. Even lead the 5k run of 60 or so people. I also volunteered at the sister event Pioneer Nation. Good times!
  6. Attended Camp GLP (Good Life Project).
  7. Went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
  8. Traveled through 11 new states bringing my total up to 35. (Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota.
  9. Had two epic road trips! One to the southeastern corner of Oregon with a new friend and the other to Yellowstone for my five year anniversary. Five years of marriage is also an accomplishment!…something worth celebrating.
  10. Another amazing road trip took me to my seventh and final wonder of Oregon, the Wallowas. What an awesome place to camp and hike. It was fun to explore more deeply the seven wonders this year. I think I visited or revisited all but one in 2015.
  11. My photo was selected (1 of 10 out of 1,000+) by Lonely Planet to participate in a photo adventure in Seattle.
  12. One of my photos was in the top 9 on a feature page on Instagram. Yeah!

It was a year of many road trips and two big adventures overseas. I saw a lot of growth and transition in my business. I saw a lot of growth in myself as well.

What went wrong?

I lost my sunglasses in an epic wind gust in South Africa. I just wish “act of god” was covered under the warranty.

I forgot some of my own travel rules.

  1. Always bring cash (more than $70!)
  2. Always carry cards from two different banks with chips (preferably a Visa and a Mastercard)
  3. If your card has a PIN, know it well and make sure the card has a chip.

Next year

As always, in the coming year, I have to grow more in my business. I’d like to make more clients happy and be able to save some money. Happiness for all!

Continue supporting my husband and his business goals. If you live and Portland and want delicious hand cooked meals delivered to your door, I must connect you with him. He is the most amazing chef I know. I am blessed.

I’d love to make it to at least one of my top five bucket list countries: Peru, Iceland, New Zealand, Croatia, Turkey. If I make it to Peru I also get to add a 6th continent to my list.

Publish my next book. It’s a travel book! (comment if you want to know when it launches, I’m currently in the editing and designing phase)

In between travel blog posts, you can follow my other weekly blog, my 140 character adventures on Twitter and my photo adventures on Instagram

Wishing you an amazing 2016! Cheers.

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Taiwan, Asia’s best kept secret

13 Dec

I think Taiwan should be on your bucket list and here’s why:

Hualien Coast

Is that not enough reason to go? I mean, seriously, is this Taiwan’s best kept secret? I had no idea it looked like this. No one ever told me. It’s not one of those popular destinations that people talk about having fantastic turquoise water. Anyone I’ve shown the picture to hasn’t responded like they knew that it existed in Taiwan either. Crazy! I spent a week in Taiwan and all of it was fantastic, not just this one view.

We spent a few days in Tainan City at an apartment. We wandered the streets, ate some delicious food and drank a lot of bubble tea. We tried to find the night markets and were successful on one attempt. There were tons of temples to see and check out. I discovered an amazing coffee shop to work at, Donutes, just up the street from where we were staying. It’s open 24 hours, they have great coffee, amazing cakes and good wifi. What a treat!

After a few days in Tainan City we decided we wanted to explore more of the island and get back to some nature. Once I found some information on the Taroko Gorge I was intent on checking out the east side. I love nature, hiking and visiting waterfalls. We booked a train to Hualien.

Once we were in Hualien we rented a scooter and high tailed it to the gorge. We spent a few hours driving up to the top and checking out all the viewpoints. We hiked a bit and took a ton of photos. The clouds were amazing as they wrapped around the mountains. Like Oregon, we also found a ton of waterfalls coming down the mountains. The clouds were getting lower and darker and it looked like we could get some rain. We started on our way back home. We didn’t make it very far before the downpour started. We were drenched and we had miles to go. It finally let up and we started drying out. However that didn’t last long before another downpour started that was worse than the first. I now understand why it’s so green on that side of the island.

We stayed the night at this amazing hostel. One of the nicest I have ever stayed in. I’d highly recommend Wow Hostel. They aren’t just in Hualien either.

Wow Hostel

Before we headed out of the area we drove the scooter up the coast and that is when we saw the cliffs with the amazing blue water. It was a wonderful drive and there was only sunshine on our backs.

From Hualien we rode the train up to Taipei and stayed one night in the amazing Éclat Hotel (pictured below, center). We were right on the train and bus lines but we were close enough to walk to the night market, Taipei 101 Tower and Elephant park. We stumbled on a photography course in the exact location that we wanted to take photos. It was a our lucky night to learn some new tips and tricks for night photography! We also found an awesome speakeasy tucked behind a wall in a coffee shop. The manager was even from Portland, OR. Talk about a taste of home with those amazing cocktails.

We really enjoyed our time in Taipei. We also enjoyed taking the high speed rail back to Kaohsiung City. I wish we had high speed rail in the U.S..

If I had more time in the Taipei area I would have loved to get to the Yangmingshan National Park. I would have also loved to travel East and see the sunrise on the coast near the Gold Museum. There’s also some more waterfalls to explore.

TaipeiTowerPanoSM

The Wonder of Wallowa

16 Aug

Another Oregon wonder…

I recently went to a place in Oregon that I have never been to, the Wallowa Mountains. Woohoo! I can’t believe how many places I am still discovering after all these years of living in Oregon. I travel all the time but there are some places I have been to way more than others, including places in my own backyard. I’d say I have to get out more, but I know that I do that already. Sheesh! There is just so much to see and do in this world and we have so little time to do it.

Get out there!…after you read this of course.

My trip to the Wallowas consisted of three friends driving 6 hours to NE Oregon. We set up camp in the middle of the night as mice were scurrying through the grass and the roar of the river drowning out most other sounds. It was a cold night but we managed to get through it by throwing on some extra layers.

We woke up bright and early to tear down our camp and make our way to the hiking trail. We were hiking the Hurricane Creek Trail. Turns out that river that sounded so fierce the night before was not as big as we expected, it’s a “creek”. It’s so loud because the rocks in the river are granite. The combination of granite rocks and rushing water are a force to be reckoned with. The water doesn’t even move that fast for the noise that the river makes. It’s quite meditative.

We hiked about 8 miles total. We found a nice lunch spot that also worked as our turn around spot.

This trail and these mountains. What a sight!

ElaineHurricaneRidge-9332

From there we headed over to Wallowa Lake to set up camp for the next two nights. This campground is big and quite busy. Not the quiet secluded campsite that we had the night before. There was not any privacy in these sites but that’s ok because we weren’t there for the campsite. We were there for the scenery.

The next morning we hiked a total of 12 miles (6 in and 6 out) into this beautiful, serene lake surrounded by big, majestic mountains and trees. Aneroid Lake is a tarn. A tarn is a lake that is formed where a glacier used to be. (I know because I looked it up, maybe you’ve just learned something new as well.) The water…well just take a look at this: AneroidClearWater

I think I sat and looked at this lake for an hour. I snapped several photos and ate my lunch. I felt so spoiled with the view. But, I didn’t want to keep it all to myself so I’m sharing it with all of you. It was also nice to share it with two other awesome friends.

If you decide to do this hike, don’t stop at the first lake you see. That is not THE lake you want. Obviously. You can see the differences. The above lake is well worth the extra trek. I think you’ll agree.

FalseAneroidLake

The town of Joseph, which is closest to this beautiful mountainous paradise, is pretty cute too. It’s small but has tons of charm. Stop in and check out the galleries and get some world famous chocolate at Arrowhead. You won’t regret it.

Don’t miss Oregon’s other wonders. They are all pretty special.

What world domination means to me

21 Jul

What does World Domination Summit mean to me? Well in 2012 it was a life changing weekend that I will never forget. I have been three times since that weekend. WDS just celebrated 5 years as a “conference”.

The themes of WDS are Community, Adventure and Service. Each of those may mean something different to each attendee as we are all pretty unconventional types. The saying goes, we are trying to live “a remarkable life in a conventional world.” Most of us have non-traditional work or we bring our unconventional mindset to the “corporate” job. To me, we are a bunch of misfits, weirdos and rebels. We buck the system in order to make a better one. We want to leave this world and the people in it better than we found it.

Community

Community to me is the people. They are my tribe. I have never had a tribe that I loved so much before. Even though we are thousands of people, I know that everyone in this tribe is awesome, someone I could talk to and learn from. Someone that would listen to me if I had a problem. Someone that is doing something cool.

Adventure

I love adventure. In fact, I live for adventure. A lot of the members of WDS are travelers. Either they have their own business so they can work from anywhere in the world or they love to travel far and wide when they go on vacation. Chances are pretty good that if you are going somewhere in the world you could run into a WDSer. If they have room, they’ll probably even put you up in their place or find you an awesome local place to stay.

Service

That brings me to the service aspect of WDS. The people in this group are such givers. If you have a problem they’ll help you troubleshoot or connect you with someone that can. They often give you help for free. More of a “pay-it-forward” approach. If you do pay for their services it will be well worth it as I’m sure they’ll go over and above their already awesome contribution. Their work will be great because they love what they do and love that they are working on with you.

If we aren’t giving to each other than we are probably giving it to some other great organizations in the form of monetary donations or community service. The people in this community are just so giving.

#WDS2015 (check out the twitter feed)

This WDS was particularly raw and vulnerable in the main stage talks. I think we were all crying on and off at certain points in time and none of us cared that we were doing so in “public”. We were sharing a moment and that was fantastic. We were listening to someone be real and we loved it.

Volunteering

The past three years I was an attendee but this year I wanted to give back to the community that has given me so much. I wanted to be that helpful person for those first timers or that friendly face to those that knew me. I was thanked so many times. I thanked them right back for coming and being a part of this great space that Chris Guillebeau created for us. I told them I wasn’t working too hard as I was loving what I was doing. Anything I could do to help!

 

Some of my favorite quotables from the weekend:

There is something bigger than yourself. — 

Self confidence grows every time you promise to yourself.

Follow the path. See where it goes. Embrace uncertainty. — 

Don’t trade your voice for things that don’t matter. It’s OK to say no. — 

Loss is what cracks us open. It’s natural and leads to growth. — 

It’s not about what you do but WHY you do it.

Even elephants are born small. —

Adulthood is a process of reinvention.” — 

Abandon your ego and good things will happen. — 

Sometimes you just have to let the tapestry cone completely undone to start again. — 

Love is the only thing that lasts. — 

Don’t make money, make a difference.

When you are an adult, try to be a kid again.

When you see people as just a platform, you eventually stand on them. — 

No label will embody all of your gorgeousness, ever. Get over it. — 

Something I always tell people who wonder why I am a photographer and designer, not just one or the other:

The same principals of design apply to photography. — 

Till next year…keep the magic going!

WDS party

Past inspiration from WDS

WDS 2013

7 wonders of Oregon

19 Jul

My home state has to be one of the best, if not THE best! We have 7 wonders…and then some!

I was just on a 1,000 mile road trip with a new friend to a new place. We went down to the Alvord Desert in southwestern Oregon. It was incredible, but not on the official Travel Oregon roster for the 7 wonders. But, really you can’t put all of Oregon on the list.

You can read all about the drive and experience on the Alvord Desert and see pictures in my last post.

Oregon’s desert hot springs

After watching the sun rise above the desert we went to relax in the Alvord Hot Springs. There’s a small $5 fee to go in but the views are great. You are sitting in this hot pool overlooking the desert on one side and looking up at Steens Mountain on the other. This is also a place you can camp if you don’t want to rough it without a toilet or fire pit. They also offer a private access road to the desert from the camp and a day use area for hiking.

When we were done soaking up the beauty and warm water we drove around the mountains and up to the top. It’s a rough gravel road but we made it to enjoy the view of the desert from 9,733 feet (the Alvord Desert at elevation of about 4,200 feet, that’s why it’s called high desert).

Alvord from Steens

 

Steens Mountain to Painted Hills

From the mountain we headed North to see the Painted Hills. My friend had never been there and we knew that if we timed it right we could make it by sunset. If we camped near by we could also do sunrise. Two of my favorite times of day. The world is so quiet and the light is just right for photos. Everything glows and looks so beautiful. when taking photos during mid day everything can get so washed out with the harsh light or provides weird shadows, especially on people.

We lucked out when we arrived before sunset to see the moon rising above the gorgeous Painted Hills. No camera tricks here, these hills actually look like this. The light changes slightly, but they are always amazing.

Painted Hills at Sunset

 

Painted Hills to Smith Rock

A short distance from the Painted Hills and pretty much on the drive home, is Smith Rock. Another of Oregon’s official wonders. It’s a great place for camping and hiking but we didn’t get to do either as we were pretty much exhausted from driving and playing for two days in the desert. We were ready get home and shower.

Smith Rock Sisters

 

Mt Hood

On the way home from Smith Rock you get awesome views of Hood and after a short drive (and/or hike) you can have even better views. I just wish it weren’t so warm this year. The snow melt is way ahead of schedule. The plus side is that wildflower season was happening when I was up there. (Photo taken from the PCT trail — a short hike from Timberline Lodge)

Wild Hood

 

Columbia River Gorge

Another of Oregon’s wonders that didn’t make our road trip this time but I go up there quite a lot is the Columbia River Gorge. It’s cool on warm summer days and stays green year round. I love all the shades of green that you can see in the gorge. The waterfalls aren’t half bad either.

Latourelle Falls

 

Oregon Coast

The place where I’ve spent many years of my life, the Oregon Coast. We don’t call it a beach or beaches because it’s not really warm enough year round to hang out and get in the water but it’s still pretty special. It has some of the most picturesque places with all the rocks and trees. The wildflowers are nice too, when you can catch them.

Beach textures

 

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is another FANTASTIC wonder that you must see. The blue color of the lake is unreal. This place really is our #1 wonder! Well, that’s my opinion anyway.

Picture 070

The last official wonder is one that I have never been to but I hope to go soon. I’ll let you know about it when I get there but in case you want to go before me it’s in NE Oregon, the Wallowa’s.

UPDATE: I went to the Wallowas and it’s incredible!

If you like what you see, I sell prints of my photos. I have thousands (some on Flickr, some on my business website)!  You can also follow my daily adventures on Instagram. I post tons of photos from around the world. I’m also pretty active on Twitter.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them and sharing my home state’s beauty.

Cheers!

 

Exploring Oregon’s high desert

7 Jul

Last year, I didn’t travel internationally at all. This year I went to Africa. When I’m not traveling internationally I am trying to see more of the United States and my home state of Oregon. There is so much to see and do in Oregon that my wanderlust is often quenched just by driving an hour or two.

Recently, I went to the desert. Yes, it’s not all trees and rain in Oregon. In fact more than half of the state is pretty dry and desert like. But there is actually a desert depending on your technical definition. This was a recent discovery of mine. Once I found out about the Oregon desert, I obsessed about going. I had to find a time in my schedule to go and I preferred to go soon. I found someone that wanted to go with me and we began planning the trip. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well, as life sometimes does. A few days before the trip my friend was canceling due to a family emergency. So I put a last minute call out to a new friend of mine. She is visiting from Australia and loves photography. You know what? She said yes! The next day we set off on our 7.5 hour road trip.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before: if you want something to happen you just have to ask or as Nike would say, Just Do It. Get outside your comfort zone and go for it.

On the road

We didn’t stop much for pictures until we were almost close to our destination. We just couldn’t help it with these colors and the open road. I love contrasting colors of nature and playing with perspective.

High Desert Road

Then, we came around a bend to this sight (below). We just had to stop for another photo of the storm that we were driving into. I thought, hey, what the heck, my car needs a bath. But first, a photo!

On The Road with Zoe

We drove slowly through the rain storm. We couldn’t even see the road, much less the desert we were looking for. Once the clouds parted my car looked like it went through a car wash, so that was a plus. A few more miles and we were close to our destination, yet we couldn’t figure out how to get on the desert. With some help from our new friend Rose, we found the way.

It’s really super cool to drive out on completely flat land in the middle of nowhere. It was even better to see the remains of the storm pass around the other side of the desert, somehow, leaving it as dry and cracked as ever.

Desert Rainbows

I did feel a bit guilty as my car did leave a small “footprint”. I try so hard to be a good steward to the environment and not leave any marks. However, the desert is about 6 miles wide and 11 miles long so I wasn’t going to walk the whole thing. I really wanted to explore and knew that driving on it was allowed. I thought about running the whole thing but in 100 degree heat I didn’t think that was too advisable without a lot of water.

There is a tiny lake that is left on the desert from winter. You shouldn’t drive too close to it or your car will likely get stuck in the mud. You can see in the photo where the wet desert meets the dry desert. To me, it’s a nice yin and yang.

Desert Yin Yang

This was one of the most phenomenal sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was everywhere. All around. Literally something to look at 360 degrees. I did’t know where to look and when. It was absolute perfection.

Where do you camp in the desert?

Anywhere you want, so why not the middle? That was my choice. If this was my once in a lifetime chance to camp in the middle of a playa I was going to take it and you know what, it was totally worth it. The silence is so silent. The only time I’ve ever been in such a silent place was skydiving, the moment after you open the shoot and before you get close to the ground. You could hear a pin drop from a mile away. In the desert that pin was a mosquito. You could hear them flying at you like no place I’ve ever been to. I felt like I had super hearing.

Long Sunrise Shadows

The light in the morning is absolutely incredible as well. The desert literally glows, sunrise was pretty spectacular.

Some recommendations I have if you decide to visit a desert like this one.

Rent a car. My car hit a lot of bumps on the roads and it got extremely dirty. I don’t just mean the outside either. My car was filled with dust inside out. I’m not even sure how to get the dirt out of all the crevices and upholstery. I tried for two hours and there’s still dust. Sigh…

If you plan for night photography, like we did, you should pick a night that’s not close to a full moon. Oops! Oh well. You can’t have everything you want all at once. It was perfect enough as it was. Plus, that meant we actually got some sleep. The only thing to wake you, was the flapping of your tent when the wind picks up. Otherwise, utter peace and quiet. It was absolute bliss.

Next stop hot springs! Then a few of Oregon’s other wonders. Stay tuned for more on the blog…

In the mean time follow my daily adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

An African path less traveled, through Lesotho

31 Mar

When I think of Africa I think big, really big. It’s a huge continent with so much to see and so much diversity. What’s a good way to see a lot of things? A road trip! So many people would say this is crazy, but I usually do the crazy things that my friends don’t do. That’s just who I am, always have been.

After safari in Kenya and a few days in Zanzibar we flew into Johannesburg for the last leg of the trip. We rented a car and drove down to Cape Town on the Garden Route. But before getting to the Garden Route we detoured to Lesotho, one of two landlocked countries in South Africa. Oh man, was that a great detour. Lesotho is so pretty and not touristy. It’s even hard to find a place to stay outside of a B&B or as they call them, guest houses. The villages are quaint with thatched roofs and nice people. The scenery is incredible with it’s mountains and fields of grass. The city names may be hard to pronounce and the roads curvy but it’s worth the detour. No Visa required, just go!

Road Trip Scenery

A word of caution about the border crossing. We had a bit of trouble because our friend traveling with us had a pretty full passport and the pages that were empty were in the middle. Apparently, not every border believes in stamping all over the place. Lesotho would rather have it orderly and all the blank pages in the back. Or at least this was his excuse for at first rejecting my friends passport. We were able to get a second opinion and he let us in. Whew! Crisis averted and back on track for our detour.

When we arrived at our, out of the way B&B, the view was great as it was perched on the side of a mountain. And it was perfect timing for one of the most incredible sunsets. It was stunning orange on one side with a pink glow the other direction. 360 degrees of stunning, if you ask me. Plus, shortly after sunset there was a lightning storm. I’ve never had the chance to photograph lightning, so I gave it a try. I was able to capture a couple strikes, but it was certainly a challenge. One that I’ll gladly take on again given the chance. So rewarding to do something you’ve never done before even if you weren’t perfect at it. The journey is the fun part.

The food at our B&B was a home cooked vegetarian meal. A bit overpriced but delicious. I would highly recommend knowing the cost of the food before saying yes to a meal at a B&B. But we were famished and tired from the drive. We were ready to settle in for the night with a full tummy.

On the way through South Africa and Lesotho the scenery reminded me of so many places I’ve been including Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Kansas. Wherever you go, you’re never far from home, it becomes a part of you.

After staying the night in Lesotho we drove down to Port Elizabeth to check out the beach and begin the true Garden Route. The drive was long to get there and not the best food* on the road but we made it in time to see the sun setting…again. Found some great comfort food and a comfortable bed to sleep in. The next morning we checked out the beach, had another wonderful meal, coffee with a smiley face on it and made our way along the green, mountainous garden route, partly skimming the sea.

*Like the states, a lot of the food you see on the side of the road or at gas stations is “fast food” or Denny’s style. Not my choice, being the Oregonian that I am I’m used to farm fresh produce that caters to my select-etarian tendencies.

Want to see more of my photos on a daily basis, check out my Instagram feed.

Next on the blog: Garden Route adventures, Cape Town and my travel mishaps.