The Oregon Coast {USA}

Even though we are leaving for Prague in under two weeks (excuse me while I squeal for joy and/or throw up a little), we are now in Olympia, Washington, spending time with E’s family and our friends before we leave.

(Also it’s much cheaper to fly out of a big hub like Seattle!).

Right now everything is somewhat overwhelming and stressful (like packing! Every decision, down to underwear, suddenly seems monumental when you don’t know when you’ll be able to wash/find it again!) but we are trying to enjoy our last few weeks in the States.

This will include a visit to one of my favorite spots on Earth: the Oregon Coast! When I’m adult and all my dreams come true, I might just have a house on this coast. It’s not the sunniest area of the world–in fact it’s fairly cloudy or stormy most of the year, including the summer–but something about the green forests, the dramatic cliffs, and the ocean below just tugs at my heartstrings.

Perhaps it’s because I lived on this coast with my family for a few years in my early life. I’m not really sure, though, because we moved away when I was just three years old. Maybe I have subconscious memories of a fond time?

(Actually, my first memory I believe takes place on the Oregon coast. It’s not a great memory, though–I lost my favorite toy horse in the waves, which seems to have been fairly traumatizing for my three-year-old self as I remember this moment so clearly!).

Anyway, the point is, I love this coast and I’m excited for the few hours we can carve out to be there!

I love the coastline, but there are also some amazing towns on this coastal drive–like Cannon Beach! Some are cute, some are quirky, some are a little rundown, some are dedicated to tourism, some are dedicated to the fish in industry.

If you go, plan to spend a leisurely day driving along the coast, stopping for many majestic moments as you go (if you wish). Even in high tourist season, it feels uncrowded there (although I’ve rarely been on a truly sunny day!).

I love getting in times at some of my favorite places before I jet off to many unknown places, people, and things. It’s a little scary, all of this unknown–like not knowing when I will come back and see these people, animals, places or things again–but it eases the transition, somehow.

IMG_2075 IMG_2076 IMG_2098 IMG_2099 IMG_20120825_202032 IMG_20120826_153418^^I was not lying about the stormy weather!

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Do you try to see all of your favorite places/people/things before you move? Or do you just want to soak it up and prepare for the next step?

I think I like to keep it busy!!

Linking up with Bonnie, Kaelene, Sammy and Van!

Travel Tuesday

 

In My Hometown {USA}

I don’t know about any of you, but I have a love/hate relationship with my hometown.

Bozeman, Montana, is a college town in the southwestern part of the state. It really is a lovely town, ringed by mountains, with a historical downtown, parks and pine trees, rivers and ponds. The sky is almost always blue and the sun is almost always shining, even when there’s snow on the ground. I have a hard time explaining this town because it sounds almost too idyllic to be true.

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Despite its real loveliness, I spent most of my childhood dreaming of other places to go. Really, I spent most of my childhood reading everything I could find, and collecting places and experiences I would someday have. I refused the idea that I might ever come back to this small (not so small anymore!) town and “settle down.”

Yet, because my father is an employee at the university in Bozeman, it was hard for me to not accept the scholarship that goes along with that. There is another school in Montana that I could have gone to in a town about three hours away, but my brother was already at school there, and I was determined to be different.

While I attended college here, I was able to travel and study abroad a little. Traveling helped me appreciate my hometown a little more, but I didn’t really get why people loved it here so much until I moved to Denver.

Almost everyone you meet in Colorado loves it there. Yet, I didn’t, not right away.  It wasn’t my little mountain town where you could go for a quick hike after work and I was very aware of that. Instead, you’d have to battle traffic and oh-so-many people just to find my coveted mountain peace. There were different things about Denver I learned to love, but it helped me learn to love my hometown, too.

I’ve been back in Bozeman for almost two weeks now. While I appreciate the peace and the beauty here so much more, there is still a little bit of a love/hate thing going on.

I love that the pharmacist immediately knew who my parents were and could pull up my information quickly, even though it had been over four years since I’d picked up a prescription there.

I hate that I had an extremely awkward encounter with an old high school crush.

I love going to my favorite coffee shop and knowing it will consistently be delicious.

I don’t like that I cannot stop running into people I’d be okay not seeing again for awhile.

I love running into family friends I haven’t seen in years and catching up quickly.

I don’t like that even in this idyllic place, things seem to grow and change and get more crowded.

Despite this love/hate attitude of mine, It’s been great being back here, and I know the second we leave on Saturday, I will miss it (especially my family! And my dogs! And the great Montana summer!).

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I am looking forward to spending a few weeks in Washington before our August 2nd departure, however. That place (especially E’s hometown) is pretty idyllic, too.

(Can we take a moment to appreciate that we are moving to Prague on August 2nd?! Ahh!!).

Linking up with Nicole!

Treasure Tromp

 

The Poor Man’s Galapagos {Ecuador}

Although I’ve always wanted to see the Galapagos Islands (because who doesn’t?), when I was in Ecuador it just wasn’t feasible. I’d already spent a semester studying in Peru and had a few more weeks in Ecuador before flying home for the summer. The Galapagos, while technically a part of Ecuador, are actually quite a trip, and expensive to boot.

While on the coast, however, we (my brother had come to visit for a few weeks) found out that near the coastal town of Puerto Lopez was an area known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos,” or Isla de la Plata. Isla de la Plata, part of Machalilla National Park,  is home to a few of the famous species found in the Galapagos–like those funny little birds, the blue-footed boobies!–and is a beautifully preserved area of the coast.

Most of Isla de la Plata is only available through guided tours to control access. We happened to find a tour guide right next to our hostel, and we were set! We didn’t do much research (this was a few years ago and I had never heard of Yelp, so we only a tiny section in our Ecuador book to guide us). You can do land tours of the actual island, but we opted for snorkeling/boat tour since we were craving a day on the water.

Winston Churchill, our guide, made it an experience to remember. It was one of my favorite days in Ecuador! (I loved Puerto Lopez in general). It was my first time ever snorkeling–these were in the days before diving!–and we were lucky enough to see a sea turtle. We also saw the requisite boobies (ha) and many other colorful fish. We fished, ourselves, and while I’m no expert fisher (fisherman? fisherwoman?), I caught a giant fish that Winston made into ceviche for us!

Talk about the freshest ceviche ever.

I love days on the water, and this day was no exception. If you ever make it to Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, make sure to stop at Isla de la Plata–and hire Winston as your guide!

Note: this was the part of the trip where my camera had just died (while I was taking endless pictures of monkeys…) so sorry for some lackluster shots! I was using a disposable camera (do those still exist?!) so all of the photos have an old-fashioned, fuzzy look about them. Some manage to look kind of dreamy, though! ;).

IMG023^^starting the day on the beach!

IMG019 IMG020^^my brother snorkeling. the fuzziest of them all but wow that water is clear!

IMG022^^my attempt at a selfie with a disposable camera. it was a lot harder in those days ;).

IMG023^^a whole bunch of blue-footed boobies on that rock!

n43804174_32592191_3270595^^Winston accidentally caught a pufferfish while we were fishing. It was pretty mad, hence the reason it puffed!

IMG021^^this extremely flattering shot showcases my love of fishing and touching slimy things. still! I caught a fish!

IMG024^^Puerto Lopez is mainly a fishing village.

IMG016 IMG015^^a perfect sunset to end the day, at that perfect spot!

 

Linking up with Bonnie, Kaelene, Sammy and Van

Travel Tuesday