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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Washington-Oregon Adventure Vacation

Have you considered having an adventure vacation and be enriched with inspiring sights from our beautiful world at the backroads? Our world has so much to offer, especially if you are willing enough to spend some kicking of your feet and be refreshed by your sweat. There are several outdoor companies such as REI and National Geographic that offer an adventure vacation if you are not confident planning. However, they are kind of very expensive. You will save a lot of money if you will do the planning. If you are just starting, you can probably attend free outdoor lessons at REI or other outdoor and adventure stores in your place. And then of course, you get better with planning after each vacation. What I will be sharing in this post is a little bit about the planning and preparation, and also a little bit of the places described in the itinerary. 
One of the places I really wanted to explore when I got first in US is Olympic National Park, in Washington, which is  a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sea Stacks @ Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington
 Last summer, July 2010, we finally were able to explore Olympic National Park, realizing one of my dream nature vacation destinations. Because of so many places to see and so little time ( and can I add also so little money?), we know we may not be able to go back to WA in years if I follow my bucket list of adventure vacations. Thus we planned for a vacation that will also allow us to explore other natural jewels of WA.
Ancient Moss Covered Trees, Rainforest near the town of Forks, WA
Here are some of the essential steps I took in planning for this adventure vacation:
1.  I started with the places I wanted to see. In this trip, I started of course with Olympic National Park, and then, Mt. Rainier National Park. 
2. I then looked for other National Parks in the area, which is North Cascades National Park. 
North Cascades National Park, WA
3. I searched for places of interest near these 3 National Parks. There are a lot but I narrowed it down to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Mt. Hood from Hood River, Columbia River Gorge
4. I used google maps to see how to arrange the places to form a strategic loop to save driving time. 
5. After finding the strategic loop of places, I started my search on hotels and airfares and particular dates. The date ( weekend ) can affect the price of airfare and hotels. I looked at different options which can give me the cheapest cost. One route is not always the cheapest, but depending on the dates, events, seasons and conditions, it can end up cheaper than another route exploring same places.
The three major itinerary options that form strategic loop I considered were:   
Option A: Portland, OR(to fly in )-Columbia River Gorge-Mt. Rainier-Olympic-North Cascades-Seattle, WA(to fly out).
Option B: Reverse of Option A.
Option C: Portland, OR(to fly in) -Columbia River Gorge-Mt. Rainier National Park-Seattle-North Cascades National Park- Olympic National Park-Portland, OR (fly-out)
Calder Eagle Structure, Olympic Structure Park, Seattle, WA
All those places are worth staying for a week or two, however, because there are still so many places in my bucket list to see, and I am afraid I do not have the lifetime to see all of them, we planned to explore all these wonderful places in 10 days. 

Now, the steps to planning an adventure vacation above is still far from over. After deciding the itinerary, I then searched for specific wonders of nature to explore within the parks. When searching for trails to explore, here are some of the main considerations that should be included in the preparation for the hike:
1. Weather Conditions- Weather in the mountains and in the coast can be so unforgiving sometimes, starting from below freezing, and warming in the middle of the hike. Or starting warm, then, cooling all of a sudden. It is always important to do layering. 
Easy Pass Trail, North Cascades National Park, WA
( left, wearing green : that's me :) ;  right, wearing red: my cousin)
2. Mileage and change in elevation -  one has to take note that a 15 mile hike can be considered easy compared to a 3 mile hike that will climb more than 3000 ft! It is not simply about the miles in hiking, for those who are not so experienced with change in elevation, will find constant uphill a tough battle. This will help you prepare for the amount of food and water you will bring. It is always best to carry extra water and food since you never know the conditions unless you are there. 
3. Conditions of Trail- will you be crossing streams? will you be hiking on icy slopes? will the trail be rocky? is the trail unmaintained? This will determine the type of footwear you will wear. Though for a more universal exploring, when carrying light is big factor in traveling, a good quality hiking shoes is good enough to be your all around shoes.

For those who are not used to this kind of adventure vacation, may find it extremely strenuous and stressful. For starters, maybe focus on a place or two, and only a few hikes or adventures. Or adventures that are not as physically exhausting. 
White Water Rafting, White Salmon River, WA

If you plan to explore more of our wonderful world, it is best to be physically prepared for it. Daily exercise and work-out will help to develop your endurance and not end up staying all day in your hotel. Hiking on flat and well developed trails is easy, but hiking uphill on mountain slopes on a not so well developed or rocky trail and with heavy backpack is something not all may be prepared for. Unlike most vacationers who complains about gaining a lot of weight after a vacation, our kind of trip usually makes us lose weight, by several pounds! Though it does not mean we starve, but simply because we do a lot of physical activities in successive days. 
Hiking @ Mt. Rainier, National Park
We usually start our day very early in the morning and end the day after sunset. And since summer days are longer, it means more than 10 hours of exploring. Our heaviest meal is always breakfast and dinner, where we can enjoy hot meals. Lunch is on the trail, all packed in our backpack, which means: cherries and a lot more cherries, banana, tofu jerky for our protein, nuts, and some granola bars. Foods that do not get easily spoiled and mushy. We don't bring junk foods because they are bulky and uses so much space! Whatever space we have in our backpack, we use for more essential things such as: 1. more than enough bottled water and extra foods. 2. hiking first aid kit 3. navigation tools (map, compass and GPS) 4. extra clothes for layering and emergency thermal blanket 5. waterproof matches and firestarters 6. etc, for more details of what to bring, please go to this site, "Hiking Emergency Gear".  
Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park
During trips like this which requires a lot of physical activities, we always see to it that we do not get dehydrated and sick. Every 30 minutes if we are hiking, regardless whether we are hungry and thirsty or not, we have to stop for a drink and for some foods. When you are hiking, sometimes, when you feel thirsty, it is already too late, you may already be dehydrated and may start to get weak already or feel muscle spasms. If one cannot carry her backpack, then, he or she cannot go! How much weight do we have in our backpack? Since we usually only do day-hikes, our backpacks usually is just between 10-15 lbs. The bulk of that weight is the camera. But hiking with a heavy camera is all worth it, 
The white dropping below this bald eagle is not cotton buds, but eagle's poop
one never knows what he or she will see in the hike, it can be the very rare American bald eagle perched on the top of the tree. With a cell phone camera, this bald eagle would probably just be a dot! However, the heavy camera can also slow you down or wear you out especially if you are taking really steep hikes. So just know what is your limit, what is more important is you are able  to rejuvenate and take inspiration from nature. Let me leave you with this quote:
"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
 and  that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple  beauty of nature.
I firmly believe that nature brings solace  in all troubles.  - Anne Frank "


  1. You and Khai traveled to so many places, and it's awesome. Both of you are also talented photographers. Incredible photos, Betchai..

  2. thanks a lot Icy. I mistakenly hit publish when I was not done with the post yet :( and I believe what you read earlier was the unfinished one :( with lots of incomplete sentences. Thus, I had to rush completing this post, and will change some of the pics later, since to fill in some pics, I used the pics from my other site, which has TJOSL watermark. Anyway, will edit this one later at home.

  3. beth, it's always a joy to hear about you and khai's awesome adventure vacations! i would honestly want to visit all the places you guys have been to someday, if given the chance (and $$$). this is one post that really gets that traveling bug inside me stirring:) each photo you featured here makes me just wanna throw my clothes and shoes and other stuff into one of the suitcases here and catch the next plane to one of the exciting places you mentioned! my favorite photograph featured in this post is ... drumroll here:) ... that gorgeous clump of red, pink and white blooms (but mostly red) growing so lush a short distance from that fancy red sculpture (well, it looks like a sculpture anyway). i love those red flowers! what kind are they, beth? and my second photo pick is the one with the starfishes laying in a group in a pool of water. i remember you featured this in your Simple Life blog, and you said that the starfish stick together as a protection against predators. i have never forgotten that fact about starfishes since i read that in your blog:) i think they are such beautiful creatures! and they know that strength comes in numbers:) thanks for sharing this very informative and inspiring post today, beth!! totally love it!

  4. I roll with MJ, Beth! After reading the itinerary and viewing the photos, I just felt like grabbing some hiking gear and hitting the road! Very inviting! Well-written post, Beth! Very informative -I didn't even know about water-proof matches. Wow! The photo of the falls blow me away. It looks so grand, I love it. :)

  5. i learned the correct spelling of "strenuous" and felt it too through this post...hehehe... Betchai Thanks for the tour guide...pwede ka na ata pong tourist guide?...or "hiking" guru? It shows how you've conquered the great outdoors...way to go girl!
    I personally prefer the white water rafting...kahit na di ako marunong lumangoy...at eh, pwede ba manghuli ng salmon at ulamin?...gusto ko kase yung fish na yun...at sino po yung isang girl sa pix na katabi mo...kamukha mo sya...you look like sisters...i like the qoute at the end of your post...nature has a way of healing whatever inadequacies one is feeling at the moment...i think i'd go with mj and tesya...i'll start packing and hop into the bus that will take me to my dream outdoor getaway...hmmm..wish ko lang...

    keep it coming betchai...we're enjoying this adventure with you...

  6. thanks MJ, Tes and Carmen.

    wish we all can go on hiking trips someday exploring our wonderful word together and comparing our shots. one of my big dreams. still can not forget those mini-days of exploring a bit during TSS reunion and comparing pics right away just using the camera LCD :)

    @Carmen, I added caption in the picture with me and my cousin, thanks for asking, I should have described it but I forgot about it :)

  7. whew, so love the first photo!!! it is my fervent wish that you could tour me around one sweet day.....haaayyy.....

  8. Nice post with excellent pictures. The pictures alone would make me want to go there, because they show how much character the place has!

  9. Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S., is only one of countless natural wonders in Oregon's Crater Lake National Park. By day, raft the world-famous Rogue River, bike along the rim of an extinct volcano and hike the Pacific Coast trail, enveloped in the rich bouquet of pine forests. By night, indulge in fresh, locally grown berries, cheeses and wines and enjoy the rare spectacle of classic theater under the stars at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Thanks for nice post.

  10. Yes I agree with you, With the help of planing we can save our money and I appreciate you for the information to prepare our self for vacation.




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