The Non-Definitive Guide To Life

If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with rain" - Dolly Parton

Posts for pacific northwest

WA: Mystic and Wild Mushrooms of the PNW

ADVENTURES, TRAVEL - April 5, 2016

I find mushrooms to be so magical! I remember being fascinated by their sudden appearance in our front lawn and learning about the unique bio-makeup of fungus in school. One of my earlier memories was my dad making sure I knew NOT to eat wild mushrooms on our front lawn and only mushrooms from grocery stores. I love the various formations mushrooms grow in, and I think their spectrum of toxicity is so mystical. Mushrooms are so witchy wonderful and when we were on our Pacific Northwest road trip I had the opportunity to see so many unique mushrooms growing in the wild. I don’t know the names of any of the mushrooms I found, and Bowerbird did try to identify a few although I wouldn’t dare try to eat any without proper mushroom education. If I ever moved to the PNW or Northern California where wild mushrooms flourish, I think I’d become a mushroom hunter, spending my weekends hiking around to see what new fungi I could discover.

The following photos were taken while on a hike up Mt. Ellinor in Washington and a trail in the Redwoods National Forrest.

wild mushroom in the sun

Redwoods Wild Mushrooms

hidden wild mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms Redwoods

nibble mushrooms

redwood mushrooms

redwoods wild mushrooms fungus

flying saucer mushroom


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N. CA to OR : River Trail & Camping Romance

ADVENTURES, TRAVEL - February 24, 2016

October 18, 2015 | Day 4 of #OntheRoad1015 ( previous day )

We woke up before the sun and filled our bellies with the slim pickings at our motel’s continental breakfast. On this trip I started putting Cheerios in my Yoplait yogurt to make it more filling and fuel me for our adventure. Plus one can never go wrong with a little extra fiber. The Northern California coastline is like no other, especially in the morning when the low clouds and mist of the waves combine to create an ethereal landscape. The soft pastel colors of the sun rise is accented by a pearlescent lining above the sea foam.

Seeing deer signs are not uncommon while on a road trip, but seeing a deer grazing by the road can be unique. When we came upon an Elk sign we figured it was the same thing, until we noticed dozens of Elk all around us, munching on their breakfast right along the road. My car was rolling along at a snail’s pace as we tried to take pictures and not explode with cuteness overwhelm. Then about 20 miles after the Elk party, we saw a perfect “Back to the Future” DeLorean drive past us. Sadly, I couldn’t snap a picture of the car but talk about an insanely cool morning drive!!

Northern California - Blanket Fort Adventures

Salmon in a Heart - Blanket Fort Adventures

Golden Bear in Nor Cal - Blanket Fort Adventures

Paul and Babe - Blanket Fort Adventures

We arrived to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park around 9:00am and aside from the park ranger cleaning out the bathrooms, we were first on site. I’ve expressed this on the blog before, but I LOVE being the only couple or person at a place. I enjoy the feeling of privacy and it makes the moment extra special. Even just arriving to an event before everyone else, so I can take in the silence, the electric hum before the world starts up. We took the river trail in Stout Memorial Grove and lost ourselves in nature; looking up at the tall trees, finding wild mushrooms, and letting the birds and river be the soundtrack. After walking along the marked river trail and ending up at the side of the road, we turned around and upon inspecting some interesting moss found an unmarked trail that led right out onto the river. Inside the trail the tall trees created a shadowed canopy and walking out onto the river bed was like opening up the blinds to let the sun shine in; white rocks made the sun brighter and the sky appear bluer. We played along the river for a while and if we weren’t pressed for time, I could have seen us lay down a blanket and read beside the rushing water.

As we walked back to the parking lot, the trail started to fill up with other tourists. We really had the Redwoods all to ourselves.

Redwoods Hike - Blanket Fort Adventures

River Trail Hike - Blanket Fort Adventures

It was 11am by the time we returned to the car and our next stop was Grants Pass, Oregon to grab lunch before heading to our campsite in Bend, Oregon – four and half hours away. The rest of our drive was beautiful and fun, filled with singing and naptime. We were starved by the time we reached Grants Pass. Bowerbird had looked up a cute organic restaurant on Yelp called Ma Mosa’s. The coffee was self-serve and we ate a delicious brown rice bowl filled with black beans, blackened salmon, avocado, tomatoes, corn and some other yummy real food. It’s funny because the bowl is totally something we could make at home but of course, would never taste as good.

Once again, we were trying to beat the sun and get to our campsite before dark, so we made very little stops or detours. I had to be the grump and tell Bowerbird we couldn’t make a 2-hour detour to Crater Lake. When you’re used to packing adventure into every hour while on the road, a 2-hour detour doesn’t seem like that much but it makes a huge difference if you’ll be setting up a tent while there is still light outside. The one stop we made was at a little café at the end of the highway, a mountain range in front of us and the merging freeway running North and South. We darted across the empty highway to the Diamond Lake Junction café in order to use the restroom. I have no idea who would go to this restaurant as there wasn’t a city or town close by, it was basically made for travelers. We went inside and I ordered a muffin and coffee to be able to use the restroom. I went first but as Bowerbird was relieving himself, I talked to the owner/cook/waiter about Time Life magazines and almanacs. The owner was a sponge for knowledge and loved knowing about different decades and history. He looked like he could easily be a member of the Sons of Anarchy and that café might moonlight as a clubhouse.

PNW Road Trip - Blanket Fort Adventures

As we reached our Tumalo State Park campsite the sun was starting to set. This was a very posh campsite and not very far from the bustling city of Bend. We were slightly bummed that the campsite wasn’t as removed from civilization as we had hoped, but while I was setting up our air mattress in the tent, Bowerbird went to Trader Joes to get us dinner and find some fire wood.

This was my favorite night of the entire road trip, aside from the day we got engaged. We sat by the fire drinking red wine and eating French bread with brie. Bowerbird and I talked about our future together, our plans, hopes and fears. We had fun adding wood to the fire and shifting where we sat on the bench depending on where the wind was deciding to blow. I put away my phone and computer, I unplugged for the night and was present in that moment. Sleeping on the air mattress bundled under multiple blankets and sleeping bags I fell asleep instantly in Bowerbird’s arms and we let our bio-clock wake us up instead of our phones. It was perfect, pure bliss.

Campfire at Tumalo Park - Blanket Fort Adventures

Romantic Camping Spread - Blanket Fort Adventures

Camping with Bowerbird - Blanket Fort Adventures

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N. CA : All The Signs in San Francisco

ADVENTURES, TRAVEL - December 3, 2015

October 16, 2015 | Day 2 of #OntheRoad1015 ( previous day )

In Monterey, I woke up early to finish work for a client and write a blog post from the road recapping our engagement story. When Bowerbird woke up we headed down for the complimentary breakfast that was delicious and can be seen in my vlog of the day. We tried to head up to San Francisco as quickly as possible so we’d get a decent amount of exploring time in, but swiftness was not on our side. My over documenting / trying to take pictures of a product for one of my clients was slowing us down.

Once we were on the road, stress levels dropped and we just listened to the radio. San Francisco is only a couple hours from Monterey, so we arrived around 1:00ish. I had never been to SF and had no idea what to expect but I instantly feel in love with the architecture and signs. I took a lot of picture of signs. We had Spoke Art, a gallery that is friends with Thinkspace Gallery, in our GPS and made them our first destination. When I drive into a city I like to just have a destination in mind to make my center point, everything else is relative to “this place”. Usually, that place is our hotel or Airbnb but if I haven’t booked it yet – it could just be any location.

San Francisco Road Trip

When we arrived to Spoke Art I was completely turned around, the rolling streets and tall buildings had me totally disoriented. The gallery was showing new work by Stella Im Hultberg, who I adore! It’s always nice when a good show is going on while you’re in town. Spoke’s gallery assistant gave us a lot of great tips on other shows around the area, but we really wanted to make sure to see city hall. Since we parked in an expensive and awkward garage, we decided to make our next ‘center point’ the hotel and back into the vehicle we went.

We stayed at the historic Pickwick hotel, the room booked through aka my favorite app of all time. Coincidentally, the hotel was RIGHT NEXT to the restaurant Bowerbird’s friend had booked dinner reservations, so I knew it was meant to be. SF parking is a little intense, not as bad as Seattle, but we knew this was a city made for walking. Once throwing down are things, we had 3 hours to explore before meeting up for drinks and that meant shoving as much site seeing in as possible.

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

First stop was Vacation an awesome store with reasonably priced vintage and a super cool vibe. We chatted with the Shop Girl and her friend (I think one of them was the owner / co-owner) about crazy musicians and for directions to our next destination, City Hall. The interesting thing I noticed about San Francisco or at least the part we were exploring, was this insane dichotomy of social classes. One street would feel totally safe, while the next one over Bowerbird and I would make a note to not walk down again.  We were right in the heart of San Francisco and in retrospect I guess it wasn’t much different than walking around Downtown LA and stumbling onto skid row.

San Francisco Road Trip

City Hall was stunning! I wouldn’t have thought to go there except a friend of mine showed me the beautiful architecture inside. We walked around the hall and observed newlyweds getting their pictures taken. If I were to get a court house wedding, San Francisco City Hall is the one to get hitched in.

By the time we had shopped and visited City Hall we were a thirty-minute walk away from the bar we were to meet up with Bowerbird’s friend. Walking as fast as our legs could carry us, I spotted a Hearst H outside a very opulent looking building and it stopped me dead in my tracks. Another Hearst Building! We went inside very quickly and found out there was a bar underneath it called Local Edition. I was in love. Meeting up with Bowerbird’s pal Mr. M and being introduced to his girlfriend was such a warm way to spend our San Francisco evening. Mr. M was super excited about our engagement and “put it on my tab” was his new tagline. I feel blessed by the generosity of our friends. Anyways, he had told us initially he wanted to take us to Local Edition, but the line there for a drink is ridiculous. That didn’t stop my desire to see this place, so I politely insisted we go.

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

Once down inside the bar and below the Hearst Building, I was in awe. Old newspapers were used as décor and vintage typewriters were affixed along the wall. I let Bowerbird and Mr. M stand in line for cocktails as I ogled typewriters and squeezed behind groups of people to get a closer look at the headlines on the wall. I had perma-smile taking it all in and wondering around the bar like a total tourist. By the time they finally got our cocktails we had to suck them down in 15 mins and walk on over to our dinner reservations at The Cavalier. Dinner was amazing and all my pictures from inside the restaurant suck due to the lighting. We ate and drank till we could go on no more.

It’s funny how all my photos of SF from this day are of signs or building. I was on a total typography high.

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

Please check out my vlog of the day up on YouTube.

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PNW: Update From The Road – #ontheroad1015


road trip update

October 22, 2015 | Day 7 – Olympia, WA

We are in the “turn around” portion of the trip, when we have more days behind us then left in front of us, but this road trip is far from over yet. From my experience during out last grand epic road trip I knew updating my blog would be hard. I didn’t realize it would be near impossible given every time I have WiFi I’m hoping on my laptop to check work emails and do a little freelance from the road. I’m not complaining, I knew that was a part of this trips M.O. – I need money when I return. But that is why this trip has less posting in the present and a lot will be recapped later.

Road trips are a fun adventure, but I wouldn’t say it’s a relaxing vacation. We’re usually never in a place long enough that warrants sleeping in. Although when we camped a few nights ago in Bend, OR and let the sun be our alarm clock, phones turned off, that was totally blissful. My little slice of heaven, together cozied up in a tent with just the right amount of blankets for perfect warmth but not overheating.

Right now I’m sitting in a La Quinta bed about to edit some photos for a client and schedule out some content. My right leg is cramping up and in pain from an insane hike we did yesterday. One of my oldest friends lives in Washington and is a semi-expert hiker/climber. I asked her to pick a hike for us and we’d meet her there, apparently her favorite hike is also one of the most intense. She and her boyfriend drove across the country for 6 months, hiking and exploring National Parks. At this point, she is really an old pro at hiking and was very gracious at waiting for this huffing and puffing writer. We hiked a steep 5.5-mile climb up Mt. Ellinor that took all day. It was amazing and exhausting.  All we did last night was eat and sleep; in bed by 10:30pm.

When I assumed her road trip adventure must have been less stressful than our 30-day cross-country road trip because they had more time, I was wrong. As her boyfriend said it perfectly, “traveling is more stressful than a job.” On road trips I don’t think you ever ‘unwind’, I won’t be coming back with glowing skin and rested eyes. I’ve been riding a wave of stress since the day we left, before it was because of work and now it’s to go to the next place. There is a constant anxious desire to make sure you get a great sampling of your destination and allowing yourself to stop along the way. Enjoying the moment while not lingering too long and missing the next. I’d love to sit in this bed all day and vedge out, but today we explore Seattle and get to go to Pike Place.  I’m excited! Get a cup of coffee in me and I’ll be right as rain.

So that’s the quick and present update from the road. The days have been blurring in my mind, but I’ll sort out the memories later. Right now I’m going to grab a free breakfast and finish up working, then we take on the day!

If you see a girl with curly hair limping around Seattle, say hi! 





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