Tag Archives: road trip

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

Bush to Beach Australia

29 Nov

I’ve been a bit silent on this blog lately. I’ve been traveling a lot this fall but now it’s time to get back to writing.

Here’s from my most recent adventures…From Portland to Melbourne

Beach to Bush…

I had prepared myself for the long flight to Australia by going to South Africa earlier in the year. Nothing can be longer than that 19 hour flight I took from Johannesburg to DC.

Australia has been on my list of places to go for awhile but even more so in the last few years since I’ve had two close friends that have been living there. We have been in a mastermind group for close to three years talking almost weekly the entire time. It’s been fabulous. They came to visit me, it was my turn to repay the visit and check out their neck of the woods. Plus, I had some new friends to visit as well!

Melbourne is a city that is a lot like Portland. It has a big food and arts scene. It has a lot of funky shops, cafe’s and bars. The weather is totally unpredictable especially in the spring and fall. You never know what it’s going to be like day to day much less hour by hour. We really enjoyed our time in the city wandering the alleys and visiting our friends but it was also nice to get out and see some nature while we were there.

12 apostles

We spent one day driving out to the coast and taking some fun photos along the way. We also took a long loop drive out on the Great Ocean Road and into the Grampians. I grew up on the water so this was definitely my cup of tea. I love getting out into nature and exploring the beauty that this world has to offer.

Grampians View

We saw a few koalas along the way hanging in the trees. We even saw some that were awake and moving around a bit. We saw a few echidna’s, an emu and a lot of different kinds of birds. We saw a ton of wallabies and kangaroos hopping along in the more wooded areas. We even camped in a field where they would come to graze, box and play. It was so amazing to watch these creatures move about. To Australian’s it’s like see deer in the states. They are commonplace in the wild and kind of a nuisance on the roads. Like deer, they are known to leap out in front of traffic. Lucky for me I didn’t encounter any poisonous snakes or spiders. I heard this is the other problem in Australia, too many things that can kill you.

Kangaroos at Play

It was hard to leave the field of Kangaroos and emu’s but all good things must come to an end. We had a train to catch to Sydney. But first to see our awesome friends again. Old and new friends came together in a great farewell dinner. What a nice send off we had at the train station. It was sad that we only saw them for a brief time but it was good to see them at all.

In Sydney we enjoyed wandering through all the parks and gardens. We wandered the waterfront and the free art museums. We also enjoyed a ride on one of the ferry’s to Manly. I have a ton of pictures from the opera house. I sure love architecture, especially when it’s also a work of art.

If you go to Australia I’d recommend you:

  • See the bush
  • Visit one or several beaches
  • Eat a lot of fish and chips
  • Try the parma and the meat pies
  • Enjoy the free museums

I wish I could have seen more things in Australia but someday we may make it back. I know New Zealand is high on my list so maybe another stop or three in Australia will be on the list as well. Who know’s what’s next?!

But first…let’s talk about our other stops on this month long adventure. Next up: Taiwan, then Japan.

Opera House Reflections

Opera House reflections on the Grand Hyatt where we stayed with points. Two free nights because of travel hacking!

Psst…if you like my photography, I have a shop at www.rouxroamer.com where I sell framed photos, prints and much more!

Roaming the wild west

27 Oct

I was able to spend a week mostly disconnected from my computer seeing some of the natural beauty that this great country has to offer. I often forget how much is naturally occurring in the world, especially in the United States. It’s no wonder that people want to visit.

My husband and I went to Yellowstone for the very first time. We saw waterfalls and wildlife. We walked and drive around to many of the awesome sights. There are a few that we missed so it’s a good thing that we bought the year pass so we can go back and also to get to more National Parks.

Bison

We also visited the Grand Tetons and drove through all of Wyoming. We didn’t see a moose but we did see a grizzly bear. That was incredibly cool, yet scary. We were within the “not safe” range, yet we still weren’t really close enough to get a good photo. BUT we did live to tell about seeing a grizzly bear. I consider that a big win for our wild west adventure.

It was also my first time in South Dakota, seeing Badlands, the first National Monument Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore, of course! We briefly drove into North Dakota on our way into Montana. It was a real western adventure. I felt like I was on an American safari. The real wild west with bison, bears, longhorn sheep, coyotes and wolves. Natural beauty like this is so refreshing for the mind, body and spirit.

In Montana we stayed at this AMAZING place, The Resort at Paws Up. There was 37,000 acres of land to roam. If that’s not your scene, maybe you like sitting by the campfire making s’mores or having dinner made to order right in from of you by a wonderful chef. Then there’s the butler on stand by for anything you may need or want. You stay in a luxury tent that has all the amenities of a 5-star hotel but you walk out your door to breathtaking nature…what’s not to love!

Paws Up Riverview

East Coast Adventures

24 Oct

East Coast Road Trip

I had the chance to go to a few new fun cities on the East Coast this summer. I visited New York outside the hustle and bustle of the city. The country out there is quite beautiful. There are so many trees. And then there was the fun part.

I visited Asheville, North Carolina which is a lot like Portland, Oregon. It has a really big food scene and a lot of entrepreneurial spirit. They like to do things a little bit different like this shipping container restaurant (pictured below). I love the emphasis on being unique and trying new things. It’s the difference that helps you stand out from the crowd and attract your audience.

Smoky Park in Asheville

I also went to Charlottesville, Virginia. That is such a cool old town. I loved seeing all the old architecture and learning the history. It was also fun to go to the houses of the past presidents in the surrounding area. It’s like walking back in time to another era that I have only read about in books. I can’t believe I’ve never been here but then again it’s a big world out there. So much to see and do!

Charlottesville

Get out there and get inspired.

More blog fun at RouxRoamer.com and @rouxroamer on social media. Cheers!

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.

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!