adventure

2018 Christmas Tree Hunt

I’ve always been lucky enough to have a live tree at Christmas. As a child, we would go to a u-cut farm, pick out our tree, and take it home to decorate. As an adult, I was excited to do the same in this apartment.

The day I was going to get mine from the u-cut farm I remembered that if you have a permit, you can go out to National Forest Lands to get a tree. After some furious researching, I found out where we could get it and where we could go! (We ended up going to Baker-Snoqualmie near Enumclaw, Washington.) They sell a limited number of permits each year, so we were lucky there were permits left. (I’m betting they’re just about out if they aren’t already as I write this two days later.)

Because I still wanted to get a hike in, we went to Greenwater Lake, a short and easy hike recommended by the ranger. Then we took our permit and our map and ended up in a place where we could find a tree! I was determined to get one where it was snowy, so we drove until we found it. We were blessed with a beautiful day.

We could have easily gotten a tree at a lower elevation where the terrain was easier and there wasn’t snow to deal with, but we made an adventure out of it!

I’m so glad I remembered this was possible. It’s going to be my new tradition. I’d highly recommend doing it yourself. I know I’ll be sure to get a permit again next year!

Caribbean Vacation Part 3: Diving

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I recently got Open Water Certified for scuba diving with the intent of diving in the Caribbean. Here's where I wrote about getting my Open Water Scuba Certification.

When we booked our trips, I wasn't sure I wanted to spend four straight days scuba diving so we only booked two days of it. Looking back, I kinda wish we'd done all four! But snorkeling, ziplining, and spending time with the other people on our trip was fun too.

We had two two-tank dives booked. One in Grand Cayman, and the other in Cozumel, Mexico. 

Grand Cayman was my first dive after my certification; it was a beautiful sunny day and we were going to a wreck and a reef. I can't remember the name of the wreck for the life of me, but it was just off the coast!

On that dive we saw lots of fish, lobster, and even a sea turtle! The sea turtle was definitely the coolest thing we saw diving.

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In Cozumel we had two drift dives scheduled. It was a choppy day on the water and entering was difficult. But once we were in it was a nice dive! There were lots of unique fish, a barracuda, a crab spider, sea snake, and a seahorse!

While learning to scuba dive in the Puget Sound was difficult, it was completely worth it for the Caribbean. I'm even considering diving here again!

Stay tuned for the last two posts on our trip!

 

Orcas Island

A few weeks ago a friend and I went to Orcas Island to move some furniture. I had brunch by myself the next morning at the charming New Leaf Cafe. Since we were hiking that morning, I wanted something hearty and not too sweet or heavy. I ordered the duck confit hash and it was fantastic. Better than I could have imagined.

We drove to the park and got to the trailhead. We were going to hike to the top of Mount Constitution. You can also drive this, but we chose to hike it. Do you ever have those days were a hike or a workout is nearly impossible? For whatever reason, that was this day for me. I don't know the last time I was this slow on a hike.

There was ice cream at the top though so that was a bonus.

The day we went was one of the times the wildfire smoke was heavy. From the top you're supposed to have an amazing view. We didn't have that, but it was still cool.

Once we hiked back down we stopped for dinner at a bar in town. 

The next day we kayaked before we had to catch our ferry. There were lots of sand dollars in the water, starfish on the rocks, and I even saw one otter! 

It was a fantastic weekend. We ended up getting stuck on the island when one of the ferries broke down, but we made the best of it and had a blast. Except for the getting home at 4 a.m. on a Monday part. That wasn't ideal, but hey, at least I was able to work from home that day!

Any PNW weekend trips you'd recommend? I've been wanting to go to Crater Lake, but it's a bit too far to do in a weekend.

REI Dividend and Coupon

You have no idea how long I've been waiting for the REI Dividend to come out with the coupon. Seriously. Since November. I had a coupon and didn't buy what I wanted then and have regretted it since. But today I an ordering my new Lowa Renegade hiking boots! If only the coupon was 20% off the whole order and not just one item. There are a few other things I'm dying to get, but won't for right now.

I do love my Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack, and once on a winter hike wanted a slightly larger one. (I had a lot of extra clothes with me.) I could use the other coupon that's for sale items only on the Osprey Sirrus 36 Pack or the Osprey Sirrus 50 Pack, but as I don't NEED a larger one, I probably won't get it now. If I was consistently wanting a larger one, I'd do it, but the 24 is a great size for what I usually do.

The other items I'm debating between, that I would totally buy one of now if I had just one more coupon, are the REI Co-op Traverse Power Lock Cork Women's Trekking Poles and the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles. I want to try them in person because based off of the information online, I'm leaning towards the Black Diamond ones. They are supposed to have an optimal grip position. The REI Co-op ones though are supposed to be ergonomic. So once I go to REI to check them both out in person, I'll have a pair picked out.

Sadly nothing on my wish list right now is on sale at REI, but my amazing Arc'teryx  Beta Lt Hybrid jacket is. So if you want a great rain jacket, you could use your coupon there! The only thing I don't love about it is the pocket placement. They're placed great if I have a hiking pack on. Not great if I'm wearing it to run errands.

What are you going to get with your REI coupon?

Weekend Trip to Lake Wenatchee Part Two

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Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

After we went snowshoeing, which if you want to read about is available at the Lake Wenatchee Part One blog post, we spent a few hours down in Leavenworth, Washington. My favorite thing to do there is to get a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Caramel Apple. I got it and some other candies, and we probably stopped in every single store downtown. There was an outdoors store that sold some Woolrich pants one of my friends got, an art gallery that sold metal wall art of the mountains and trees, a bookstore, and so so much more. Leavenworth is a pretty little town but it's my favorite when there's snow on the ground. We happened to go the same weekend as their ice festival so there were lots of other people in town watching the ice carvings and various contests and races.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth

After our time in Leavenworth we went back to the cabin and cooked burgers. We got up early the next morning to head home and made a couple of stops along the way. We had second breakfast at the Cascadia Inn in Skykomish and then made another stop on the side of Stevens Pass Highway to look at some massive icicles hanging from the cliff on the other side of the river.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

My L.L. Bean Thinsulate boots worked for this little stop fairly well. I fell through the ice once or twice but the water below was only a few inches deep so my feet stayed dry. I am planning on getting waterproof hiking boots in the next week or two though, when the coupons from REI come out with the REI member dividend.

Do you have any favorite places to stop or explore in the Cascade Mountains near Steven's Pass?

Weekend Trip to Lake Wenatchee Part One

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Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

Some friends of ours have a cabin up on Lake Wenatchee and we had the opportunity to stay there one weekend in January.

On our way up we stopped for dinner at Benjarong Thai Restaurant in Monroe, WA. It was so yummy! If you like Thai, you should check it out.

We got up to the cabin late Friday, started a fire to keep us warm, and just chilled. After waking up early the next morning, we got ready and went snowshoeing. I definitely need better gloves for next time I'm out in such cold weather. My fingers were freezing the whole time. The rest of me was fine though at least.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

FYI This was the adventure that I realized I needed a Merino Wool Buff and not an annoying scarf with ends that wouldn't stay out of my way. Here's another Merino Wool Buff option. I got the first because it's on sale.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

Before and after snowshoeing we drove around a little bit too and explored the area around the lake. I'd love to have a small cabin up in the mountains for adventures like this. It's so beautiful.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

After snowshoeing and driving around we went back to the cabin to warm up and change to go to Leavenworth which I'll talk more about in Part Two of this blog post.

Where's your favorite place in the Cascade Mountains?

Outdoor Splurges that Have Been Worth It

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Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls
Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

There have been a few things I've bought that have completely been worth the money. I value quality over quantity, but even so I've balked at spending the money on some of these items. Some took me years to finally buy because I wasn't sure I should spend the money. However, these items have been totally worth it. Funny enough, the stuff that I rarely regret buying is usually my outdoor gear. Of course it needs to stand up better than my everyday or work clothes, so there is that. My favorite splurges are my:

Next on my list of things to invest in are a good pair of hiking boots, hiking pants, and trekking poles. And maybe a pair of Darn Tough socks. I've already got the boots picked out, I'm just waiting for a coupon.

What's been worth the investment for you?

Eunice Lake and Tolmie Peak Hike

eunice-lake-tolmie-peak-xs-2 Back in July, a friend and I went up to Tolmie Peak in Mount Rainier National Park. My brother had gone a few days earlier and had been able to see the Port of Tacoma from the peak. But when we went, it wasn't raining, but it was pretty cloudy and foggy the whole way up. We were lucky to see the lake from the fire lookout. It was still one of my favorite hikes.

Words can't describe how beautiful that lake was or the view of the lake from the trail going up. I sat down to get some dirt out of my sock, and just sat there staring at the lake for a while. It was amazing.

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I brought along my hiking backpack, and wore an old pair of running shoes. It was fairly muddy, there were times I was wishing my shoes were waterproof. But the hike was so worth it. We hiked to the fire lookout then sat up there, eating our lunches.

If you're looking for a hike to do, I'd recommend checking out Tolmie Peak/Eunice Lake. Our hike on a cloudy day was beautiful. The pictures I've seen on sunny days are breathtaking.

The road to the trailhead was really rough. We took my friend's Pilot which fared a lot better than my sedan would have. My sedan would have made it, it just would have had to be more careful about all the potholes.

And since it's a National Park, make sure you have the right pass(es)!

What's an amazing hike you've done?

Tolmie Peak Washington Trails Association Page

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A Walk at the Beach

There's not much better than a sunny day at the beach. We took the dog for a walk at Three Arch Bay in Laguna Beach, CA. It's such an amazing beach. I love going there. Most of the pictures I took that day there didn't turn out very well. But I'll post some more pictures from other days soon! Northwest Pearls: A Walk at the Beach