Category Archives: Travel

Seattle sidetrip: Hiking in North Cascades National Park

I HEAR THEM as soon as I get out of the car. Waterfalls. Across the valley are 7000ft saw-toothed mountains, flecked with melting glaciers. The roar of those long streams of meltwater carries for miles.

After an hour of dodging potholes on a partially unimproved Forest Service road, I’m damn happy to be standing up straight, about to get my pack on my back and get up into the mountains.

Read the rest of the story online at Matador Trips.

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Tourist Season

Naples (Florida, not Italy) is ground-zero for the recession. I spent last week there, and driving past foreclosed homes, abandoned construction projects and half-empty strip malls. It’s clear this is one hard-hit city in a hard-hit state.

The other curious thing about Naples is that there’s something known as “season,” which is when the snow-birds come down from the Northern states in winter and Naples becomes overrun with old people. Entire traffic patterns change. Restaurants and beaches are more crowded. It’s apparently such a noticeable difference that several times people remarked, “Wow, this street is so empty when it’s not season” or “Man, it’s going to be busy here come season.”

So early September is apparently a  great time to hit up south Florida. My hotel at Cocoa Beach was mostly empty. The beaches on both coasts were also sparsely populated. It seems like just about everywhere has a down time, a period every year when only the locals are out and about and you don’t have to fight for a parking space. Now that’s my kind of trip.

Mostly-empty Cocoa Beach

Other than that, there’s really no reason to go Naples, Florida. Sure, the white sand beaches are nice, but there’s nothing at all unique there–just box stores and chain restaurants and subdivisions. For me, though, my best buddy showing me around was reason enough. Oh, and her stepdad cooks one helluva medium-rare steak.

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Best parks in Seattle

Seattle has some incredible parks, which is why I find it so hard to get any work when I’m visiting the Emerald City. If you have similar problems when you travel, consider meeting rooms for hire, to get your clients (and you!) away from distractions and to a quiet, conducive work space. In fact, the Warwick Hotel, just downtown, has meeting rooms available, putting you in easy reach of these parks by bus or car–or even on foot. This way, you can get your work done in a professional setting before venturing out to explore.

1. Washington Park and Arboretum

This park is expansive, covering 230 acres northeast of Downtown, so my favorite way to take it in is to combine cycling and walking. I love speeding down the Arboretum’s green hills and hiking the trails at the park’s northern end, which snake through forests and marshy islands.

There are a few hidden swimming and picnicking spots, but I also like having a snack while watching the kayakers on Lake Washington paddling through the lilypads around the I-5 overpasses.

Getting there: Rent a bike at Recycled Cycles, head across the Montlake Bridge and through the parking lot of the Museum of History and Industry. A trailhead starts here, but you’ll have to walk your bike through the marsh trails.

Avoid biking on Arboretum Drive, as you’ll snarl traffic and piss off a lot of drivers. Instead, there are paved roads throughout the park that are closed to vehicles.

Read the rest online at Matador Trips.

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Cascade Pass time lapse

Sam and I backpacked the Sahale Arm above Cascade Pass in the North Cascades a few weeks ago. On our way down the mountain on day 2, we made coffee and had breakfast at the pass while some impressive fog rolled in. I took this video over a 35 minute period. You can see the wind rattling the camera–the whole scene was pretty epic to behold. Watch as we get eaten by fog as Andrew Bird serenades, from his fantastic (and appropriately named) album, Weather Systems.

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The art of doing nothing


If you want to make your kitchen smell like earthworm, leave a french press full of wet coffee grinds on your counter for a week.

Traveling is all about learning new things, right?

Utah is where I was all this time, hanging out with my sister who is in graduate school in Denver. We drove 6 hours to Moab, Utah, which was only moderately charming until the men with the dirt-caked 4x4s in the parking lot of our hotel were up all hours of the night tinkering with their stupid toys.

We hiked somewhere around 50 miles over the course of 5 days in Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Arches National Park, camping at night in various places.

I think what I enjoyed most was that every evening, feet aching, we’d come back to our camp site and just sit, waiting for the stars to come out and the air to get too cold. We’d pull out the camp chairs, untie our shoes, open our books and not say much of anything. And while now I’m glad to be back in a place that has more than 1% humidity, I appreciated having nothing to do but eat, sleep, and watch the air turn purple with the setting sun.

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Roadtripping the Sicilian Coast

Taormina

Where to go and what to see when you’ve got a car in Sicily, Italy.

Fly into Palermo

The highlights of Sicily’s coast take about a week to tour. Start by flying into Palermo, Sicily’s capital and largest city. You can rent a car at the airport and make Palermo your launching point for a day trip to Erice.

Palermo’s big and messy, but its tightly packed churches, squares, and palaces make it fun to just wander (which is something you’ll want to do on foot, not by car, as the streets are a nutty jumble of pick-up sticks).

Read the rest of the story online at Matador Trips.

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My 3 best kept travel secrets

Julie Schwietert Collazo recently “tagged” me to participate in the Tripbase Best Kept Travel Secrets Project. So here we go:

1. Erice

Sicily

I don’t know of too many places where you can eat gelato next to medieval castles on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Erice is a  stone fortress high above the city of Trapani, where you can take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain. It’s got a bit of a touristy feel, with souvenir shops and a self-guided walking tour map, but I thought it was worth the ride.

2. New Belgium Brewery

Ft. Collins, Colorado

Not only does New Belgium have great beer, but they’ve also got a free brewery tour (with free samples!) and an environmentally-friendly business. They encourage bike commuting, use wind power, offer spent wheat for feed, and even have compostable cups. Plus, their office has a slide.

3. Ballard Farmer’s Market

Seattle, Washington

Everyone goes to the Pike Place Market when they visit Seattle, and I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. Pike Place is horrendously crowded; even though they sell a fascinating array of regional produce and other staples like king crab, you can find the same things at many of the neighborhood markets–and you can usually get a much more reasonable price. In Ballard, a fishing neighborhood of exposed brick and cold beer, you’ll find a festive market: folk music, families with dogs, wood-fired pizza. It’s often crowded, but much less so than Pike Place. And it’s so much more authentic.

I’m nominating these 5 bloggers to share their top 3 travel secrets on their blog:

Alexis Grant: Aspiring Author
Todd Wassel: Todd’s Wanderings
Suzzanne Westover: Own Up to Being Grown-Up
Catherine Ryan Howard: Catherine, Caffeinated
Michael Hodson: The Mobile Lawyer

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