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WA Unexpected `

WA Unexpected `

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When I woke up July 11th 2017 I had my bag packed and flight outfit set aside for a 4:30 flight to Chicago Illinois. I was going to be flying standby to visit my friend for about a week in the Windy City.  Where we planned to eat some Chicago-Style hot dogs, walk Navy Pier, and take selfies out in Millennium Park.

Now how did I go from heading to Chicago to ending up in Spanaway Washington? 4 failed standby flights later I was met with the task of buying at least a one way ticket to the US mainland and try to get to Chicago from there. I had been at the airport for 9 hours, (that is two large coffees, a sandwich, and a phone battery length of time). Searching for the cheapest flights I found a flight to Seattle Washington for $456. I had a friend there that I was sure I might be able to meet for coffee during whatever duration layover I may be there. So a few phone calls and card transactions later I was officially headed to Seattle for at least a day.   ….. Which turned into a week!

I was greeted by my friend at the SEATAC airport around 8 in the morning & we found ourselves on our way up to Mt.Rainier by 11. Although I was there unexpectedly I was definitely digging this so far. In the first three hours that I was there!

There were lush Evergreens every where you turned (no wonder it is called the Evergreen State), and wildflowers lined the roads the entire way up the mountain. I can only imagine how scenic some of the camping spots must be in the area.

Our first stop was Alder Lake. I hadn’t seen a lake with so many beautiful blue hues since I had been up in the Sierra Nevadas. I could of easily spent an entire day just exploring the area.

Our second stop was Narada Falls. It was nice to hike a path that was framed with a forest instead of a jungle. A tad cold compared to Hawai’i, but it was a favorable change. We came at a perfect time to capture a few pictures of Narada Falls. The way the water was cascading down the cliffs, and the angle of sun, gave us a beautiful rainbow in the mist at the base. It gave off a very mystical feeling.

After a few homemade musubi’s and a little bit more driving we finally had made it to Mt.Rainier. It was incredibly picturesque. The landscape was a mixture of The Materhorn and The Sound Of Music. As soon as we had parked we made our way directly to some of the walking trails. There was deer on the side of the hills, and snowy patches with more wildflowers blooming alongside them. Had I really been in flip flops walking around Waikiki just 24 hours prior? Sometimes traveling feels so surreal to me.

After getting a hold of my friend who was in Chicago, and having one amazing day exploring the Mt.Rainier area, I made the decision to stay in Washington. Although still ill packed, *my 50 cent vintage suitcase held only skirts, shorts, and cutesy tops- not pants and sweatshirts, I wanted to experience more of what this state had to offer.

The following day I joined my friend and her family on a trip up to Seattle. They had decided to stay around the the Pike’s Place Market for a few hours, and immediatly noted all of the little coffee shops in the area. I may have to make a bucketlist just to knock off all of them one day. We walked around while men tossed fish across store fronts, people took selfies on a golden pig (I am one-guilty), and stuck gum on walls.

I think by far one of my favorite parts of this was just walking around and seeing all the different people that were there, and the old buildings.  I’m a sucker for culture.

The following days were relaxed and started off with a cup of coffee every morning on her back porch. There was hiking, eating hot dogs while watching baseball, and some nature walks around a local park/ lake. I brought three cameras with me on this trip. My regular Digital Canon, a Canon AE-l (film camera), and my brand new InstaxMini 8. I actually took more photos on the two film cameras than my digital, so they will be uploaded…eventually. 

In the end I had a great trip, even if it was extremely last minute and all around spontaneous. But in honesty those kind of trips are my favorite! I can’t wait to explore the area a little more in depth next time and see what else this beautiful state has to offer.

 

Until next time Washignton….

Idyllwild, Ca.

Idyllwild, Ca.

What I have to say about the gem hidden away in the Southern California mountains. 

A little over an hour detour from the 15 south towards San Diego you find yourself no longer driving on rounds lined with palm tress, but fir and rising pines. For those living in the most southern region of California this micro road trip is the closest and fastest  to a mountain escape.

Idyllwild, Ca. A gem found in the San Jacinto Mountains.

On a trip to California for the the holidays I visited the area three separate times, and will definitely find myself there more in upcoming trips. My first adventure to the tucked away gem was for a mini sunset hike on the Cedar Springs Trail with my boyfriend. Now i’ll admit it was cold. Not the kind of cold where you have irrational thoughts of losing your fingers to frostbite, but the kind the sinks into your clothes and sticks to your bones. Other than feeling like Frosty’s off spring, the hike was well worth it.

  The trail is actually located in Desert Divide, about 17 miles from actual Idyllwild, but makes for a good pit stop before heading into the little community. from the trail head the hike is about 5.9 miles round trip. It’s a short little hike but with quite a few switch backs the last half mile. Patches of snow covered the ground through out the entire trail. Matt took this as an opportunity to make himself a miniature snowman. Pretty cute huh?

We made it to the top in about an hour and were greeted by 360 panoramic views. I have seen my fair share of sunsets, but there is something about the golden hour reflecting of snow and turning the surrounding mountains different shades of pinks and purples that just marks this certain one noteworthy. This part of the trail offers views of Palm Springs and surrounding peaks, this is also where the trail intercepts the Pacific Crest Trail.


Our time was limited at the top of the trail with it already being sunset and we did not arrive equipped with flash lights other than our phones, and the temperature was dropping almost faster than the sun was setting.

We made it down the mountain in record timing, which was good because neither of us could honestly say we could feel anything at that moment.

We drove about 17 miles from the trail head to the main strip of Idyllwild. We were desperate for a warm drink to help us defrost the imaginary icicles hanging from our noses. Then there it was. The neon sign presented by God himself. There was a coffee shop still open. Now I have a certain love affair for coffee and cute coffee shops. I love when they are quaint and unique, and this one was exactly that. When we walked into Higher Grounds we were immediately greeted with the smell of espresso, the sounds of a family playing chess in the corner and a Christmas tree by the window. We ordered the Alpine drink  and took our seats of the sofa right beside the Christmas tree. They provided ornaments for you to write your name and where you were from. From what I could see, we were the only ones from Honolulu. We were there for about an hour before it was there closing time, but it was the perfect ending to a great late afternoon escape.

I fell in love with this region so much that I ended up returning to it two more times within a week.  On one of the excursions I convinced my brother and mom to join me so I could see the area in the daytime. We packed up my brother’s jeep and the dog headed out to the snowy town. To no one’s surprise I found myself right back at Higher Grounds coffee, although they were a lot more packed, the coffee was still up to par.


The last time was for another hike on the Deer Springs Trail with my friend Meghan on New Years Eve. We had about 30 minutes of clear views of the surrounding mountains while sitting on a wide rock vista until a thick fog began to crawl across the horizon and encircle us. We made the most of the weather until the temperature was dropping to point that was becoming uncomfortable in the clothing we had on. We listened to the Mogleys until we came to a stop at no other than Higher Grounds.. Do you see a theme here? Or maybe it’s just a personal problem. This time we both tried out their specialty drink, the Cozy Cabin. Again the tiny shop was a little too crowded so we found some outside seating beside a small art gallery behind the coffee shop. We took our turns laughing at the way our breath froze in the air, talked about the new year approaching and watched the many dogs roaming around with their owners dawning their own little winter sweaters. Sitting there in those chairs, and drinking our coffee we both discussed camping in the area during the summertime to explore a few more trails in the area. I don’t mind the idea at all.

Higher Grounds Coffee Shop. 54245 N Circle Dr, Idyllwild, CA 92549

While reading more about the little community, I found out that there is also an abundance of rock climbing routes and bouldering locations throughout the area. If that isn’t enough, there is also year round camping, cabin rentals, and there is fishing at Lake Hemet just about 8.5 miles away. I can find myself here again many times in future adventures, and would suggest it as a great area to visit for just about anyone.

 

What little mountain town is YOUR favorite? Let me know in the comments! 🙂