British Columbia, The Yukon and Alaska Trip (Recap of our BIG MOVE).

British Columbia, The Yukon and Alaska Trip (Recap of our BIG MOVE).

Ahh, so you’re back to check out my blog! Thanks for showing some interest. This time, I’ll take you on a brief recap of our LONG DRIVE from central Oregon all the way to Alaska.

I can’t believe that we are starting a new life in another world. I only wish I could have had the time to go over our journey in detail– and describe it to you to accurately capture it’s magnitude.

We traveled for over a week. Our road trip began in Central Oregon and ended in Alaska. Below: Our trip started out in dry, central Oregon. Here is our darling Clementine–just past the Ghost Town of Shaniko. Wheat fields begin to emerge.

For 7 days we stayed in motels, hotels and lodges in Washington state, British Columbia, the Yukon and finally, Alaska.

As a child I would think of the northern Washington border as where the land ended. It was a fuzzy, almost invisible place in my mind. You can imagine my surprise when we crossed the northern Washington border into another country– Canada–and entered into the Grand, seemingly endless expanse of British Columbia!

We were lucky to have my parents come along for the journey. They helped with the looooong days of driving both our vehicles–with a screaming 10 month old in the backseat (sorry Dad!) and a demanding 2 1/2 year old in the other one.

One of the things you’ll notice about Canada is that once you cross the border–everything appears more orderly…less sprawling. Space seems to be used and conserved more neatly. Even the people are in better shape. I didn’t realize how many vineyards there were in British Columbia! Remember to turn on your headlights when driving in Canada–even during the daytime.

You’ll notice two prominent fast food chains that seem to pop up in every city–Tim Hortons and A&W. We shuddered when we heard the locals refer to Tim Hortons as “Timmy’s”; of course, they could have referred to it as “Horty’s” which would have been even worse. It’s a coffee-bagel-doughnut-sandwich shop all rolled into one that the Canadians seem to be quite proud of.

If you aren’t aware, Canadians frequently use expressions like these:

1. You Betcha’

2. Oh

(Fun Fact: Like Canadians, Liberians are another group of people who use the expression “Oh” and attach it to the end of some sentences to add emphasis and drama).

3. Whenever the word “out” was used, it sounded more like “oat”–as in Quaker Oats.

Kelowna, British Columbia.

This place would have been SURREAL had it not been for the cloaking of smoke that suffocated the entire province during our travels.

If you have a chance, type the words “Kelowna, BC” into Google. You’ll be shocked that such a gorgeous city exists–and you never even heard about it. There is an incredible lake in Kelowna with beaches, docks and scenic boatyards. A park wraps around a section of the lake just walking distance from downtown. There you’ll find resplendent flower beds like these.

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Kelowna is cute–and tight–with a sufficient population to make you feel like “You’re in the big city”. I hear that this lovely Canadian city is GROWING–one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. I’m sure on a sunny day you can see the beautiful city with the lake in its fullness and the vineyards that surround it in the distance.

I met a couple amicable bums in Kelowna and I found a little clock tower..

Valemount, BC

We stayed at a Super 8 motel here run by a friendly Indian couple. It was super clean too. There’s a little seating area and fireplace in the lobby with (if I recall) Elk racks on the walls. You feel as if you’re about to embark on some grand hunting expedition.

Valemount is a perfect launching-off spot if you want to head into Alberta and check out Jasper National Park.

Jasper National Park, Alberta.

Even with all the smoke, we were riveted by this glorious National treasure. Think of Yellowstone on Steroids. Nah, it doesn’t even come close with these towering peaks!

Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

This is where the famous Alaska Highway begins … ALCAN HIGHWAY.

Northern Rockies Lodge, British Columbia

I can’t find adequate words to capture this spot. Northern Rockies Lodge was, by far, one of the best experiences of our trip. It was the quintessential mountain lodge made of hewn logs, hidden inside the northern-central region of British Columbia–AWAY FROM EVERYTHING. You even get a Canadian cowboy strumming a guitar in the middle of the dining area singing country tunes.

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Our Lodge on Muncho Lake. They offer little float plane rides into the mountainous scenery for $250 a person.

I highly recommend this place if you ever happen to be in the tip-top North of British Columbia (in the summertime, of course). You’ll go through some stunning mountain territory just to get to the lodge. Then, you’ll be ready for an Alpine dinner! Wait…I feel like I’m in Switzerland.

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We even came across a mama and baby moose in the middle of the road. If you take a moment and squint, you can see the moose in my very professional video here. I didn’t want to get out of the vehicle. Moose are 1000 lb animals and they can charge. My husband was driving the car in front of us.

The scenery in the Northern region of BC is terribly dramatic. I want to go camping here someday.

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NORTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA. MUNCHO LAKE.

Dad making a wild buffalo angry. Wilderness in Northern BC

My Video: I’m walking towards these mountain goats/sheep?

Yukon Territory

This place is weird but truly amazing! We were accosted by people dressed up like unicorns at the Yukon border. This never happens.

You gotta check out the visitor center once you get into the Yukon. My little baby boy was happy to be with Grandma!

Ahh, the splendor of the Yukon territory. Crisp, pristine and unspoiled by annoying campers. It unfolded in all its glory for us to see. If you want to get away from tons of campers and hikers (and actually enjoy the scenery) the Yukon summons you.

MY DAD LEFT ME STRANDED IN THE YUKON WITH NO CELLULAR RECEPTION

I WAS BUSY TAKING SELFIES OUTSIDE OF OUR CAR AND MY DAD (also taking pics on the other side of the road) HOPPED BACK INTO THE CAR AND TOOK OFF WITHOUT ME! I WAS LEFT STRANDED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE YUKON BY MYSELF WITH NO INTERNET OR CELLULAR/PHONE connection.

All I can remember is watching my Dad hop back into the vehicle and floor it down the road. “WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTT! DAAAAAAAAAAAAD! DON’T GO! I’M STILL HERE! If you were a bear you could hear me screaming in the middle of the road as he left me in the dust. No one anywhere. No towns for miles. Cars almost never passing. Nothing. Just brutal, beautiful nature. Oh, and there are TONS of wild animals here!

Fortunately my Dad noticed I wasn’t in the car about 45 minutes later (He thought I had fallen asleep in the back seat) and turned back around. This was a very memorable experience.

Whitehorse, Yukon

I can’t stop raving about this place. This is one of the most awesome spots on the planet. The Yukon river flows swiftly beside the city of Whitehorse. There is a quaint little downtown with great restaurants. There’s even a rainbow colored crosswalk for all of you LGBTQ folk. We found a cool Totem pole here–picture below.

I encountered a white Canadian Photography couple who were taking photos of a native Canadian man, carving a moose (or elk?) rack. When I asked if I could take a picture of him carving the rack too, they all three stared at me in disbelief.

Where are you from?” the white man asked. “I’m from Bend (Oregon).” “Where are you from?” I asked back. “Well, we’re from Yellowknife (Northwest Territories).” And it ended like that. Go figure. They’ve probably got more street cred than I do.

In the summer, the sun seems to shine brightly with tons of blue sky. The air is so refreshing here that you’ll be instantly purged of toxins. The mountains that surround Whitehorse are at your fingertips offering trails galore. If you hate the cloying heat in the lower/middle parts of the globe during summertime but enjoy the sun…the bright light….this place is just for you!

Tok, Alaska.

Clementine stacking the creamer containers while waiting for food at Fast Eddy’s. (Paradoxically, you’ll wait for a long time to get your food here.)

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The last part of the drive!

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We ended our trip in Anchorage, Alaska. To find out more, please keep following my blog!

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Visiting the Painted Hills and Exploring the Wild West Town of Mitchell, Oregon!

Visiting the Painted Hills and Exploring the Wild West Town of Mitchell, Oregon!

We’ve only been in central Oregon for a year and we haven’t explored enough! I’m the type who would be off exploring the Wild West and hitting up every possible western town thinkable but with years of very little sleep and toting two young ones– my motivation has dipped.

I arrived pregnant. Three months later we had our 2nd baby. As anyone with a new baby knows, these past 9 months have been a blizzard of crazy. Hectic, sleepless nights and seemingly endless hours of screaming during the day. Who says babies sleep all the time? They most certainly do not, and if you can get them to nap for two 20 minute naps in a day, you’re lucky!

Lately though, I’ve been getting more rest at night and we’ve been getting out more! It’s like life is enjoyable once again.

This past weekend we made a sudden escape to the REAL wild west. Unlike manufactured, hyped-up, touristy places like Bend or Sisters Oregon, we hit up Mitchell (population 130), which appears to be the real deal!

We met terrific residents in this small Oregon town. The man in the picture below sells rocks under this canopy. He finds them around the canyons and hills in the John Day Fossil areas. He told us about PROSPECTING FOR GOLD in some of the nearby creeks. Not a lot left. Apparently the Gold Rush is over.

MITCHELL RESIDENTS ENJOYING THE HOT AFTERNOON WITH A DRINK. THEY ACTUALLY LET ME TAKE THEIR PIC!!!!

If you look closely at the picture below, you can see locals sitting outside the cafe near the “Open” sign having a Saturday morning chat. These are NOT tourists. They’re locals. You really feel like you’ve gone back into time. It’s surreal!

Next to the cafe, the general store greets you with well worn hard-wood floors and elk and deer racks all over the walls. The shelves are sparsely stocked with goods. The locals say they drive 1 1/2 hours to stock up at Costco in Bend.

Here is Mitchell’s famous Chinese Apothecary–established in the 1800’s.

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We also scoped out the glorious Painted Hills 8 miles outside of Mitchell.

I will be back. Maybe in the next few days or weeks…or years. This is a highly underrated place for all its breathtaking beauty. My only fear, RATTLE SNAKES!!!!! I told my husband that they needed to invent some kind of special shoe to walk around this place–don’t snakes go for your ankles and lower legs? And then, a lightbulb moment hit. These shoes have already been invented long ago—they’re called COWBOY BOOTS. DOH

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TRYING STARBUCKS SALTED CREAM COLD FOAM BREW & VISITING CLINE FALLS NATIONAL PARK, OREGON

TRYING STARBUCKS SALTED CREAM COLD FOAM BREW & VISITING CLINE FALLS NATIONAL PARK, OREGON

I love blogging. It hits the spot. It’s like my little punch of dopamine. Some play video games; I try and weave a blog post together. And neither of us will judge the other, okay? It pulls me out of the daily monotony and displaces time doing physical labor–something I’ve grown to DESPISE.  Unloading dishwasher…diaper changing…folding clothes….putting things away constantly….cleaning out the car…cleaning up after meals….grocery shopping….weeding the front flower bed….putting things away….picking things up….bathtime….getting up throughout the night (for almost 3 years now) to feed screaming babies….and never enough rest or time to do the things I desire to do.

Someday people will look back at our current time and instead of saying “There’s an app for that”, they’ll be saying “There’s a robot for that.” Imagine how much more free time future people will have for video games and surfing the internet while ignoring 3-D humans by enslaving semi-humanoids/Robots? Bonus, we won’t need to go to college either. There will probably be some way of downloading information straight into our brains…perhaps some attachment device to our brains so specific kinds of knowledge integrates and adds to our own minds! Why bother studying when you can just BECOME MORE AWARE, MORE knowledgeable with just the press of a button? BYE BYE AlZHEIMERS, BYE BYE  Double Digit IQ.

Today has been hot. HOT. I think it’s 102 degrees and we don’t have an air conditioner. Instead of enjoy the balmy 87 degree house temp, I thought getting out and hitting some air conditioned stores would be best.

We began with Tuesday morning Storytime at the library. If you live anywhere near Bend (Oregon) you can appreciate all the FREE CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES here! Summertime is dense with activities, everything from parks galore to free lunches, free crafts and games with terrific staff. There’s also free music (but not free food) at Drake Park on Thursday evenings. Don’t forget Farmer’s Market downtown on Wednesdays!

MY CHILDREN AT TUESDAY MORNING LIBRARY STORYTIME

 

After Storytime, we headed over to Target to try a SALTED CREAM COLD FOAM BREW offered by Starbucks. WHAT A SUPRISING CONCOCTION! Delectably creamy, deeply-brewed with a tingle of salty aftermath. If you don’t mind a bit of salty flavor, you’ll really enjoy this drink! My daughter also requested her first CAKE POP upon spotting a row inside the glass pastry shelf. In case you needed to know, we actually went to Target to purchase baby food and my daughter’s first set of underpants. Milestones are underway.

I WANT SALTED CREAM COLD BREW COFFEE MAMA! PLEEEEEEASE!!!

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Trying her very first CAKE POP! What an irony for such a hot day.

 

 

We also spent a chunk of the hot day at Cline Falls State Park. This is a very beautiful region in central Oregon near Redmond–like the quintessential ‘oasis in the desert’. You’ll see the usual scrubby evergreen trees and earthy terrain and suddenly you’ll spot the river and it’s grassy green banks.  It will settle your soul, akin to taking a deep breath on a hot, parched afternoon.

Since I had little one’s we didn’t make it to the Falls section, but we did find multiple “beach spots” to play along a calm section of the river. I highly recommend it here–especially for little ones. There are so many gentle wading areas and deeper, yet easy flowing areas for a nice float.  There are plenty of picnic tables too! Just make sure to go on a weekday and earlier in the day too. You’ll easily find a spot to enjoy the river. We found some nice companions there who offered us freshly picked cherries. 

Enjoying the Deschutes River near Cline Falls:

 

 

 

 

 

 

THINGS TO DO NEAR BEND, OREGON. RAINFORESTS and OLD GROWTH GROVES with MY CHILDREN!

THINGS TO DO NEAR BEND, OREGON. RAINFORESTS and OLD GROWTH GROVES with MY CHILDREN!

Do you ever just pack up your kids, get in your car and start driving? You have a general idea of where you’re going, but nothing more. That’s what I did this Wednesday. I’m becoming increasingly less timid taking my 9 month old and 2 year old out on “adult-like” adventures by myself.

I wanted to revisit the Willamette National Forest (a lush rainforest–almost tropical) and also the Santiam River.The Santiam River has been whispering my name since our last visit. We crossed the Santiam Pass back in May on our drive to the Oregon coast and drove right next to the Santiam river.

Perhaps, one of the most inviting rivers I have ever seen. Sparkling water of various depths weaves over a rock and clay river bed. Every twist and turn of this river has interesting features, like deep blue pools of water (perfect swimming holes!) or stretches of river with a smooth, clay covered bottom. It is densely vegetated in this rainforest and the trees that flank the banks are cloaked in moss.

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The problem with this river– and perhaps why it’s so pristine– is that it fairly hard to find a spot on the side of the road to park. Even more, it’s difficult to find any trails to navigate down to it. It’s not accessible in most places. I guess you could forge your way through a densely vegetated drop-off to reach the river–but with a baby in the front pack and a toddler, there was no way I was trying that. Honestly though, the day was so hot and the bright sunshine was cajoling us to the river so we found another, safer spot to splash:

 

I also wanted to scamper into the Hackleman Old Growth Grove with my children. And we did. These Old Growth trees were unreal… simply magical. I would highly recommend taking your children (of all ages) on this trail–its even (partly) wheel chair and stroller accessible. Even on a hot day you have plenty of shade from all the trees overhead and a nice breeze too. It feels cool in the forest on a hot day!

The best part? We basically had the hiking path to ourselves. What a glorious day seeing nature, past and present.

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The Willamette National Forest:

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Our Downtown Los Angeles Trip, April 2018!!! With all my Pics. :)

Our Downtown Los Angeles Trip, April 2018!!! With all my Pics. :)

My husband said we could come with him on his trip. He had a week-long educational conference in Los Angeles, a city I had never been to before. The hotel was already booked and his flight paid for long in advance.

“Are you sure? Don’t you want a reprieve from screaming children who interrupt your sleep? We would all be sleeping in the same hotel room after all. Why don’t you just go alone this time?”

“Why don’t you guys come? The hotel is going to be the same price whether you all come or I go alone. It would only cost me a couple extra hundred bucks for your plane tickets. The baby could sit on your lap.”

I weighed the pros and cons. I knew how much work it would be to pack for both myself and the children. But I’ve done it multiple times before, right? I knew that lugging all the extra baby stuff around– car seats, car seat bases, a double stroller, baby carriers, diapers, bottles, formula, baby cereal, bibs and cloths and tons of extra baby outfits would be overwhelming. Of course, this doesn’t include all the contraptions I would bring for myself.

Eating out for all 3 meals (even if only “cheap” fast food) would add up fast. On the plus side, we would get room service every day. The children and I could explore downtown in the double stroller and experience the city-life, albeit temporarily. Meals would be no- fuss, no preparation or clean up– just throw away the packaging and wipe off the kids’ hands and faces. Finito.

“Oh, all right. If you insist. We would love to come.”

On my “list of minuses” I didn’t factor in the flight. What could possibly go wrong on a short two-hour flight with two tots?

THE FLIGHT

My husband and daughter sat next to each other on one row and I clutched onto our 6 month old across the asile. We sat next to an over-sized lady who was spilling over into our space.

Unfortunately for her, this meant my son would be thrusting his little feet into her fleshy sides throughout the flight. She didn’t appear to be the child-loving type either– as she squeezed herself against the window, hoping to merge into the the airplane wall and disappear from existence.

This doesn’t even begin to describe the misery my son inflicted upon this poor woman. Picture, if you will, an intensely high-pitched, screaming intermingled with an annoying whine, that lasts for almost 1 hour straight. It wasn’t just our airplane neighbor who experienced the cacophony of the flight. My baby’s screaming was enough to inspire the agitation of everyone on board.

Even the flight attendant tried energetically to distract the baby–offering him crackly packages of pretzels or crinkly plastic cups to play with. “Won’t he take one?” She pleaded, as he threw the items onto the center aisle.

The baby refused to breastfeed. No matter how many times I tried, my efforts were met with even louder squeals as he pulled away. He’s not a pacifier baby either. My daughter was the same way.

On the other side of the airplane aisle, another battle was ensuing. My 2 year old was furiously trying to unbuckle her seat belt and jettison herself out of the seat. She was vigorously kicking her legs on the back of the seat in front of her. I’m sure a mild amusement to the passenger seated here. *Sarcasm*

My tot was requesting that the overhead light be turned on, then off. On, then off. She wanted the window shutter open, then closed, open, then closed. Repeat 693 times. My poor husband.

Once our flight from purgatory landed, we piled the taxi high with suitcases and baby equipment. Thankfully paradise was waiting for us.

We got to stay in the luxurious Biltmore Millennium Hotel in downtown LA among all the skyscrapers. This is a gorgeous hotel that is infused with art deco architecture. Shiny marble floors greet your feet. Bell Hops jump out of no where to grab your belongings and make your dreams come true.

There are towering ceilings in the lobby and hallway that lure the eyes towards paintings and sculpturesque adornments that flaunt every surface. For a fraction of a second, you feel like you’re in a European cathedral.

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The next day, I took the kids outside our hotel for a spin in the stroller–something I would do every single day, all-day, until the day we left.

Clementine is California ready! Now to explore outside our hotel 🙂

One of the first things you notice about downtown LA–besides the exquisitely beautiful buildings, palm trees and perfect weather–are the bums. Demographics are ALWAYS the first thing I notice anywhere I go.

And you guessed it, I noticed right away that these homeless individuals were disproportionately MALE.

Throughout millennia, men have been more likely than women to fight in battles; many becoming wounded veterans. Men have been the ones to work in some of the most physically unbearable jobs like building cathedrals or castles with heir bare hands until old age, and then dying with little more than a legacy of brutal, laborious hardship (at least in Europe, that is). If you haven’t noticed, the male gender is ALSO more likely to be in prison or homeless– at least compared to their female cohort.

Does this reflect some sort of over-arching social inequality for males in modern society? Homelessness occurs for a variety of reasons of course–criminal history, physical disability, poverty, mental illness, a history of laziness or bad luck–and let’s not forget one of the biggest reasons–ADDICTION–but the gender issue is clear. I SAW MANY MORE HOMELESS MALES THAN FEMALES ON THE STREETS. Does mental illness disproportionately affect males? Many questions and thoughts like these were assaulting my consciousness.

I wanted to check out Skid Row and find out if my male-to-female ratio suspicions regarding homelessness were accurate. I pushed the double stroller in every direction within a 3 mile radius all over Los Angeles this past week and became familiar with the names of every street, but we never made it past Main Street (the tough area, let’s just say).

One evening, my husband was out for a conference related dinner, I strapped the kids in the double stroller for a night ride. We explored more territory and came across an incredible bookstore called, “The Last Bookstore“–I highly recommend taking a peek at this charming spot if you’re in the area. It’s quaint and stuffed with splendid books–both new and old. The cashier countertop is propped up by hundreds of old books. I even purchased a couple of books for the kids and came out with one for myself called, “The Perfect Nanny”, an international bestseller.

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We found another amazing art deco building one day. Check out the stunning architecture and colors here:

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I also took the kids to the LA public library. These were the murals on the walls inside the library:

…and the library courtyard garden was a delightful space for honing those Zen moments of contemplation.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without an arm load of goodies from the library bookstore.

We also spent an overcast day at the beach in Santa Monica.

And I made sure to take the kids to any park I could find in downtown LA anytime we encountered one.

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Finally, on one of our walking excursions we found this neat HUGE antique shop, “Olde Good Things“. I regret not buying the cool antique globe I found.

We also went to Hollywood where we walked along the famous path of stars and Universal Studios too. What fun! I just LOVED the Simpson’s ride. Los Angeles was much better than I had expected it to be.

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Surprised it’s not destroyed!?!?

One day I pushed the double stroller into the LA Fashion District where there are material and fabric shops galore.

Pushing the kids around in the double stroller was entertainment for everyone. People stared in partial disbelief combined with surprise. Everywhere we went people were EXTREMELY KIND to us and made whatever necessary accommodations for the children.

FASHION DISTRICT, DOWNTOWN LA

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Notice the kitty cat sleeping beside the sewing machine.