Redwoods, Crater Lake & the Oregon Coast

For the final leg of our trip, we left San Francisco and headed up the 101 until cutting over to make a stop at Ft. Bragg. I had planned to swing by Point Reyes National Seashore, but the GPS wasn’t working very well and it didn’t seem like we were headed to the right place, so instead of getting lost and getting stuck somewhere remote like we did last time we were in California, I decided to turn around. Maybe next time we are out that way we can find it.

Taking Highway 1 from Mill Valley to Arcata (our stop for the night), would have taken 11 hours. That’s a lot of driving, so we hopped on and off of it going to and from Ft. Bragg and I felt like we got a good sense for what the entire drive was like: extremely curvy roads!

Ft. Bragg was kind of a let down – I’d saved it on Pinterest years ago, hoping to one day get to the famous glass beach. Pictures were stunning; an entire beach FULL of sea glass, shining in the sun? Yeah, not so much. I think everyone has discovered it and most of the sea glass is gone. I did find a few pieces, but people were camped out, shoveling whatever they could find in bags to sort through at home.

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From there, it was another couple hours to our Airbnb in Arcata, which looked like something straight out of The Hobbit! They had a sauna, soaking tubs and private baths on site and our room had a full kitchen, so this would be a great place for an extended stay. The wifi was not good though, so if you’re needing to do any sort of work while you are there, good luck.

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I tried out the private soaking tubs after dark which was super relaxing, however there weren’t any lights so I had to sit there with my phone flashlight on and when I started to see slugs and worms crawling around from the moss growing next to them, that was enough for me. These are best enjoyed during the day!

Our next to last day, was another long driving day that took us into Oregon. We caught Highway 1 again, winding along the northern California coast and through the gorgeous California Redwoods, stopping to take a scenic drive on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

The forest was stunning, we saw elk, and it’s too bad there wasn’t more time because I would have loved to have done some hiking in the park itself. Next to the elk is a trail, so theoretically, you could walk right behind them. Park rangers are present to keep people from doing anything stupid.

This is a MUST scenic drive, in my opinion. It’s all paved, so you don’t need four wheel drive and it’s easily accessible off the main highway. There are several other scenic drives that you can take in the park as well, including some that are more off road. Here’s a link to those if you have more time and want to do some extra exploring.

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From there, we headed toward Crater Lake! It’s about a four hour drive between the parks and takes you through some really pretty forests along the way. We crossed over into Oregon, and I was able to get my state sign picture pretty easily. As many of you know, I’ve been working on getting photos at all 50 state signs and even though I’ve been to 49/50, I didn’t start this until 2013, so I’m behind. I have 32, plus Washington D.C. so only 18 more to go.

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Once we got to Crater Lake, it was late-afternoon, but the lake itself was absolutely stunning. Clear blue water, some snow still around the rim and gorgeous green trees out on the island in the middle. We drove partly around the rim – I would have liked to have been able to drive the whole thing, but parts of it were still closed, even in July because of snow!

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You can also hike down to the bottom of the crater, swim in the lake and take a boat tour out to the little island! We didn’t get to do any of those things since we had a tighter schedule at the end of our trip, but if I ever go back, some of those things will definitely be on my list.

Our hotel was another hour drive from the rim to Roseburg, OR so we headed there, then just relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The final sight-seeing portion of our trip was Saturday and I had planned to head back to Highway 1 and drive up the Oregon Coast to Thor’s Well, Cannon Beach and also stopping to see the lighthouse from the movie The Ring. But honestly, I was pretty tired of driving at that point and we still had two hours to Portland, so I decided to just go there first and see Multnomah Falls.

Last time I was in Oregon with my friend Jenny, we got to Multnomah early in the morning. Literally no one was there. This time, the parking lot was full and about 15 miles away, a road information sign informed us the exit was closed šŸ™

So, we headed to Cannon Beach instead!

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You may recognize Haystack Rock from The Goonies. Cannon Beach is a must-visit, in my opinion. It seemed like it took forever to get there from Portland (probably because we’d been driving for a week already), but it’s really not that far and if you go at low tide, you will see ALL kinds of sea life in the tide pools. I loved it.

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Parking was not especially easy to come by – we found a spot on a side street and walked down to the beach, so be prepared for that. There’s a whole little town built around the area with shops and restaurant and has east coast vibes.

Access to the beach is free, lifeguards are on duty and there are staff out by the rock to keep tourists away from nesting birds. Sometimes you can even see Puffins!! I believe we were there at the wrong time of year for spotting them though.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our west coast journey! Would love to hear of any places that I missed and need to see for next time.


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The best street art in Indianapolis

Murals just keep popping up everywhere in the Circle City! I love the colorful vibes they add to our neighborhoods. If you’re looking for some new spots for a perfect photo backdrop, keep reading for locations and Instagram inspiration.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway! This bright mural is inside the speedway, not too far from the pagoda which is one of the most popular backdrops for the month of May. Visit the museum year-round and if you live in Johnson County, Indiana, you can check out a museum pass for 50% off general admission to the museum from the Johnson County Public Library.

4790 West 16th Street


Fountain Square is FULL of murals, many which I
highlighted in my first ever mural guide to Indianapolis. But new ones keep popping up all the time, including this cool two-toned green wall next to 317 Juicery.  When you’re done snapping a photo, pop in and pick up a four pack of carrot juice – it’s so delicious!

1354 Shelby Street

This colorful mural can also be found in Fountain Square. It’s right across the street from the green wall, on the side of an eye care place.

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1429 Shelby St.

You can find this tough looking pup behind The Hero House comic book store in Fountain Square. There are a couple others around it as well, including a robot and a Tardis.

1112 Prospect Street.

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Jules Muck recently spend a few days in Indianapolis, blessing us with her quirky street art, including this tribute to Dolly Parton. There’s been some controversy over other murals she’s done around the city, including people getting mad because she’s not local, but I say there’s enough space for everyone. I’ll be checking more of them out for future mural guides!

653 Virgina Ave.

Bigger than life, Reggie Miller is the latest famous person mural to crop up near Mass Ave. Miller played for the Indiana Pacers (our NBA team) from 1987 – 2005 and remains one of the most loved athletes to ever wear a Pacers’ jersey.

127 E. Michigan St.

Shout out to my friend Forensic Fashion Notes who peeped this colorful mural on the side of Greek’s Pizza off 16th street. She knows the owners, but they were closed the day we went, so we had to climb a small fence to take a photo (with owner permission, of course). If you find yourself craving something good to eat, hop on over to Greek’s then snap a picture in front of this colorful and uplifting piece of art.

1601 Colombia Ave.

Last year, my favorite rainbow wall was torn down to make way for more apartments and a CVS downtown. However, this one still exists and I had no idea it was there until recently! There are two other murals nearby too.

1049 Southeastern Avenue

 


Just around the corner from the rainbow wall are these cool tools! I believe the building is vacant, but it’s right next to Angie’s List which has another retro Quaker Oats mural on the side of their building. So you can knock out three very different pieces of art right in a couple blocks of each other.

130 E Washington St.

 


Here’s the Quaker Oats mural I was talking about! It’s so retro – I’m not sure the story behind it, but it’s been there for a really long time.

Remember the rainbow wall I mentioned earlier that was torn down? Well these two stunning murals from Kelsey Montague were put up in the same area and are so pretty! She’s famous for the wings murals you see all over the country and her latest installment at City Way might be my favorite set she’s designed.

These are around the corner from Qdoba at The City Way. 229 Delaware St
Across from The Alexander, 333 South Delaware St.

If retro is your jam, take a trip to Rock Cola Cafe in the Irvington area! This 50s style diner not only has some fun murals on the side of their building, but it’s full of other vintage photo spots inside.

5730 S Brookville Rd.

Another one of Jules Muck’s murals – the KISS cats can be found on the side of Chuck’s Coney Island. This part of town is a bit sketchy, so I’m going to recommend that you take a friend with you. There was a guy parked in the parking lot when I pulled up and he got out of his car to take a photo of me. He said the owner is his cousin and he’s being paid to watch the mural because people have threatened to vandalize it. Maybe – either way, it was kind of weird. He didn’t bother me, but I didn’t stick around real long after that.

2932 East 10th Street

Finally, this “Dream Big” mural is on the side of a doggie daycare. It’s super bright and fun and there are some cute dogs painted around the side of the building too. I just happened to see this one while driving on the interstate. It’s not too far from the rainbow wall or tools mural.

925 E. Vermont Street

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classic birtday recipes

Exploring San Francisco

With as much traveling as I’ve done, you’d think I would have already visited San Francisco! But it was one major U.S. city that had escaped me over the years, so when planning our Highway 1 trip, I made sure to include a couple days for exploring this beautiful northern California city.

For our two night stay in the Bay Area, I booked a super cool vintage airstream! The couple that owns it lives on the property, bought it about several years ago and completely refurbished it themselves. In fact, in 2014, the New York Times published a piece about them and how they had to use a huge crane to lift it up and over the neighbor’s house and down into their backyard.

While not in San Francisco, it was such a short drive into the city from Mill Valley, that this would be the perfect place to stay if you were also going to Muir Woods. There are plenty of places to eat nearby, so it’s a great and more affordable location than other options I found in the city.

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We crammed as much sight-seeing as we could in a day and a half and hit most of the major areas of the city. Our first stop was Mr. Holmes Bakeshop so I could grab a croissant and snap a photo at their fun neon wall. The line was out the door and it was a tiny place with tons of other people taking photos, so we didn’t stay long.

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After that, it was Chinatown for lunch! The traffic and parking here was pretty crazy, but we got a spot and walked around for about an hour. It’s a bustling area of the city and we felt like we were truly in a different country.

There are many colorful murals that line the streets of Chinatown, so be on the lookout for those and grab something to eat while you are there. A lot of places we saw didn’t take cards, so make sure you have some cash on you. We had teriyaki bowls at Floating Sushi Boat.

 

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Then, we checked out the Golden Gate Bridge which was pretty much covered in a cloud of fog even though the rest of the city was sunny! We also did a hike to Land’s End Labyrinth, which was a nice way to wrap up the day.

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Our second day began with a cruise to Alcatraz! The boat ride there was pretty short – I’d say about 15 minutes and then you walk up a steep hill to the prison. It was very educational and I learned a lot I never knew about the island prison. There are also great views of the city and the bridge from here.

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After spending a couple hours at Alcatraz, we boarded the boat back to San Francisco and spent a large chunk of the day in Fisherman’s Warf. There are so many things to do and places to eat, but make sure you walk all the way down to Ghiredelli Square to see and sample the chocolate!

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Then, check out the adorable sea lions at Pier 39! It was a small group this time, but I hear that often the pallets they lay on to sun themselves are packed.

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By this time is was late afternoon, so we drove up to see the Painted Ladies (famously from the Full House opening scene), walked a mile or so down the same street to see Mrs. Doubtfire’s house, then went to several different viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge and had a lovely sunny evening to see it.

I think the view from Baker’s Beach and Battery Spencer were my favorites.

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Continue reading “Exploring San Francisco”

Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion-cover-1263x1920Helena Smith’s mother is suffering fromĀ Alzheimer’s and she wants nothing more than to bring back her mother’s precious memories. So she begins experimenting with a new technology that will preserve special moments in life while also allowing them to relive learning to drive, getting married, the birth of their children or the last few moments with a loved one who is about to pass over into the afterlife.

Through her research and efforts, “the chair” is created. It can send you back to different memories in time, creating new timelines and erasing past mistakes or events. The only problem is, Helena’s boss isn’t using it for the purpose she intended and instead of doing good, her technological advancement is wreaking havoc on the current timeline of the world.

NYC cop Barry Sutton stumbles upon Helena’s invention while investigating False Memory Syndrome – a condition that’s causing people to kill themselves based on memories of lives they never thought they experienced. Unknown to them, their jolting memories, which return to them once they’ve reached the moment in time the original event was altered, are a side effect of someone else in their life using “the chair” to undo some event in the past.

The general public doesn’t know about “the chair” – only Helena and a few other researchers, and their subjects are poached off the street by Helena’s boss, Marcus Slade.

Soon the government will get involved and that opens a whole new Pandora’s Box. They start small by jumping timelines to undo school shootings or horrific criminal acts and soon, top officials want to eradicate past events like the Holocaust.

Recursion is a stellar follow up to sci-fi writer Blake Crouch’s thriller Dark Matter. There’s a lot to keep track of with the shifting timelines, but once you get used to it, it’s not hard understand where our characters are in the story line.

In addition to the face paced writing style, Crouch challenges readers to think about if changing the past really would really be for the moral good and if the human race can ever be trusted to carry that out if the technology is ever invented.

Easily one of the best books I’ve read all year, Recursion should be at the top of your reading list. Netflix has already optioned it for a film/TV series with Shonda Rimes’ production company to produce.