Crescent Beach

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A lot of the coastline in Northern California is pretty rough. There are beautiful views of the ocean crashing violently into cliffs in many spots but for a non local it’s hard to find beaches to hang out on. Surprisingly, our kids are not as much about the vistas, and more about the action. They want to feel the sand beneath there feet and experience the cold salty water. We found a good beach in Crescent City appropriately named Crescent Beach. The temperature was in the sixties the whole time we were there, so we were the only ones on the beach.

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The beach is very flat and so it was perfect for skim boarding. We bought a few skim boards at a local sporting goods store and spent 2 separate afternoons on the beach. Everyone tried there hand at skim boarding. We built sand castles, collected rocks and shells, and Madelyn spent a lot of time finding treasures. She was fascinated with the sand dollars and spent a lot of time examining them. The dogs had a great time going in the water. It was fun watching them frolic in the waves. It was not as fun having wet dogs with us on our way back to our campground.

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Avenue of the Giants

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We spent some time in some old growth redwood forests while we were in Crescent City but we wanted more so we moved on to campground in Fortuna, Ca where we could be close to the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 30 plus mile stretch along an old part of highway 101 that winds through redwood trees. There are a lot of places to stop along the side of the road and nice small hikes through the trees for little ones. IF your are in Northern California, I highly recommend that you make this a destination.

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If you have been near the majestic redwoods you can attest to the fact that they are very hard to describe. They are so grand and majestic. It is a spiritual experience to be in the forests surrounded by so much beauty. Rather than write about it, I want you to see the wonderful pictures that Marisa took. Enjoy.

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It’s About the People, Not the Stuff

As we prepared for our trip on the road we got rid of most of our STUFF. We sold some of it, we gave away some of it, we put a little in storage. We threw away more than we thought we would. It turns out that a lot of our stuff that we thought was worth keeping was worthless to everyone else. Go figure.

We had a room in our house called the crap room for crying out loud. A room full of stuff that we acknowledged was crap. Not a storage room, a crap room. Why do we need so much stuff as people? I believe that humanities inclination is to fill a space if you have it. Does it come from the cavemen that never had what they needed? Are we driven by a base need to keep stuff and accumulate things just in case we need it? I don’t have the answers but I have a lot of questions about our need to accumulate.

I can say this from our experience. As you get rid of stuff you feel a weight lifted off of you. It feels like you are slowly becoming more and more free. It is also addicting. When we left on the trip, I felt like we had the minimal amount of stuff we could survive off of. Since then, we have slowly been ditching more and more stuff as we realize we don’t need it and we have a list of even more stuff that we are going to put in storage when we travel back through Utah.

I hope that I learn from this experience. I hope that when I am not a nomad, I can realize that I don’t need to fill my house. I hope my kids learn early in their lives from this trip that we can be happy and comfortable without a lot of stuff. I worry that when I live in a house again I will go back to filling it up. Even now, I have a strong desire to go on sierratradingpost.com and buy every merino wool shirt and jacket that I find. My mind is right now tricking me into thinking that I NEED a merino wool hoodie.

Will we learn from this? I think we will. I would be surprised if we go back to having a house as big as we did and filling it up. It feels too good to be free from so many possessions. One of my favorite books is called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The book talks about the things that make us happy. It talks about the fact that possessions do not correlate very well to happiness. Experiences and relationships do correlate to happiness. Watch his Ted talk here. I have found that the best thing about our trip are the people we have had a chance to meet and spend time with. Family in Idaho, new friends in Montana, old neighbors in Utah, families we have camped with, and reuniting with people we haven’t seen for years.

It’s all about the people, not about the stuff.

Ashland Oregon is Marisa’s Dream Town

Our next stop after Mt Ashton was Ashland, Oregon. So far, this has been our favorite town to visit. This small town has a lot going on. We are quite a bit behind on our posts so I am going to force feed Ashland to you all in one post. Here is what we found there.

Art Galore

The first Friday of every month there is an art walk downtown. We were lucky enough to attend October’s art walk. There are a plethora of art galleries in Ashland so you just walk from gallery to gallery and view beautiful art. Many of the artists were there and we were able to talk to them. The kids liked the fact that many of the galleries hors d’oeuvres. It was an especially fun night for Marisa and I. The kids met Liza Hamilton who does needle felt art and we were all amazed at her sculptures. We bought some supplies and they have loved making there own needle felt animals. You can see her creations here http://wooliza.com

Mountain Biking

Ashland sits up against the base of Mount Ashland. We drove close to the top and Marisa, Mason, and Reece rode 10 miles from the top and ended up in town. The guy at the bike shop said that the trails were pretty “gnar.” Gnar is what the cool kids say for gnarly. Reece agrees with this assessment, and has the road rash on his face to prove it. Marisa says she rode like a granny and was a little over her head since it was only her 3rd time going out and she had some 2 foot drop offs. Mason said it was fun.

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Live Music

Every night we were there was live music. It’s funny how even when I don’t really love a style of music, when I hear it live I like it.

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Lithia Park is located downtown. It is a beautifully kept park with a pond, a playground, walking trails, and it was so green and beautiful. We especially enjoyed the free spirits doing acro yoga in the park. After seeing it we started practicing it. Pretty soon we will be a traveling acro yoga family. There is also some water fountains of pure lithia. It is some sort of natural occuring mineral water that tastes like sadness, rotten egg, fear, and regret.

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Farmers Market

There is a farmer’s market several times a week near Lithia Park. We bought a variety of goods there. The ground cherries were a nice surprise. They started off tasting like cherries but ended tasting like a tomato. We did buy a bunch of cherry tomatoes for Madelyn as she eats them like candy. We bought some tomatoes, kimchi, and hummus from some local purveyors as well.

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Natural Food

We decided that while we were in Ashland we needed to get some natural foods so we stopped at and had some raw organic sprouted essential pie. Three flavors to choose from. Chocolate orange, chocolate mint, and cinnamon coconut. It was actually really good. I need to get the recipe since Marisa has an essential oil business and we have a lot of access to oils.

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Mt Shasta and the End of The World

Lunar Eclipse02I was led to believe that the end of the world was going to occur on September 27th, 2015 after the fourth blood moon. On the potential last day on earth, we ended up in Mt. Shasta California, which was a great place to welcome in Armageddon. There is a nice end of the world vibe in the town that has the awe inspiring Mt Shasta looming over it. According to the The United States Geological Survey, Mount Shasta is a dormant volcano that will likely erupt in the future and rates it as a very high threat volcano. How is that for an apocalyptic harbinger? In fact, it seems that a good portion of the people in Mt. Shasta think the end is so near that they have stopped showering and combing their hair, not that there is anything wrong with that. Even with the looming threat hanging over them, we met some of the nicest people there.

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We drove up Mt. Shasta to Panther Meadows to watch the red moon rise. We set out a blanket, and I couldn’t help but sing Dead Moon Night to myself as we waited.

Lunar Eclipse01You might ask why I sang it to myself instead of out loud. The answer my friend is that Marisa hates Dead Moon so I try not to agitate her with the obvious beauty of their songs. As the sun went down and the red moon rose over the mountain my wonderful children said “Can we go now?” The whole event brought tears to my eyes.

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As we drove back down the mountain my eyes were in my rearview mirror watching for a pyroclastic cloud to envelop us and bring on the end. It didn’t happen. The world didn’t end…..but it still could. Live your life like it might be your last day. You never know when it will be.

Lake Tahoe……..From a Dogs Perspective

We left Winnemmucca with the intention of traveling to Klamath Falls Oregon so we could visit Crater Lake. The GPS started us going the wrong way towards Reno. We realized we were headed the wrong direction after about 20 miles so we pulled over to the side of the road to discuss what to do. We decided that fate wanted us to go somewhere other than Klamath Falls and we continued on towards Reno.

Since we hadn’t planned on staying in Reno, we drove around for hours looking for a place that felt right. We ended up in Carson City, Nevada. Carson City had a good vibe to it. It’s close to the base of some mountains and so it is really pretty in that area. We realized we were only about 40 miles from Lake Tahoe. We decided to visit.

Lake Tahoe is amazing. Why hasn’t anyone told me how beautiful and tranquil it is? It was so amazing that even Marisa forgot to take any photos or videos because she was so caught up in the beauty. If you know Marisa, you know that this is a rare event. The only video or picture we have from Tahoe is this video of us putting the GoPro on Lily to see what Lake Tahoe looks like from a dogs perspective. So here you go, this is what it looks like if you go to Lake Tahoe…….and you are a yellow lab…….and you have weird owners who attach cameras to you.

Butt Trip: Unionville Nevada

Mark Twain 08In a previous article I described the requirements for what a butt trip is and how they are scored. I am a little worried about the butt trip to Unionville, Nevada, as it might be the highest scoring butt trip we go on this year and all of our future butt trips will be less butty than this one. We will have to see.

When I was reading about things to do in Winnemucca I found out that there were a lot of ghost towns around that area from old silver strikes. I found out that in Unionville there was an old shack that Mark Twain used to live in. He even wrote about his time there in the book Roughing It. Marisa and I were excited to go see the Ghost Town where Mark Twain lived, the kids not as much.

The elements that made this a Butt Trip for the ages are legion.

  • A one hour drive across a vast featureless desert oasis.
  • If we had run out of gas the odds of death would have been around 65%.
  • A destination that no one in our family had heard of until the day before.
  • In addition, we didn’t know for sure if we would even find Mark Twain’s house.
  • Car sick children.
  • Dirt roads full of potholes.
  • Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

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The part of this trip that made it a guaranteed butt trip success was that we drove around two hours to look at an old, broken down shack that we didn’t know existed a week earlier. We might also have found an outhouse that was graced by Samuel Clemens buttocks. Marisa and I felt that we had finally found something that had been missing in our lives, and we didn’t know it until we saw this ramshackle hut.

This butt trip scored a 63 out of 67. The drive there and back took 8 times as long as the time that we actually spent at the location. The destination was a run down shack that is ready to tip over. Mark Twain still went by Samuel Clemens when he lived there. Marisa and I were thrilled to see it and our children were besides themselves that their parents are so insane. This will be the standard that all future butt trips are measured with.

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Humboldt County Museum

humboldt1While we were in Winnemucca we read some great reviews of the Humboldt museum. Our children have requested that we not go to museums. We decided to go regardless of their feelings. We are, after all, parents.

The Humboldt museum was interesting. When you go to museums on a slow Thursday afternoon in a small town, you are often the only ones there. This was the case for our visit. The curator was extremely nice and he gave us what I would call the red carpet treatmhumboldt2ent. He took us from building to building and knowledge gushed out of him. The museum has a main building and then several buildings that have been moved onto the museum grounds. We visited an old church, a midwife’s house, and an old barber shop. The buildings were similar to some of the buildings we saw in Nevada City, Montana.

The main part of the museum had a decent car and buggy collection. The second floor had  some rocks and minerals, native american artifacts, a gun collection, and the pièce de résistance, mastodon bones. The Mastodon was the family favorite. It was displayed how it was found near Winnemucca. All I could think of as I looked at the ribs was how yummy some Flintstone size mastodon ribs might be. I could probably gnaw on one of those babies for 3 days. If you find yourself in Winnemucca for 5 days like we did, visit the museum. All that they ask is a donation to keep the museum running.

Basque Food: Martin Hotel

One of the goals we have as we travel is to eat some foods that are original to certain cultures and have our family try some new things that Basque Food01we haven’t had in the past. While we were in Winnemucca we found out that the Basque culture is very prominent in parts of Nevada. I didn’t know a lot about the Basque culture but here is a little history from Winnemucca’s own official site.

“People of Basque heritage originate from four provinces in Northern Spain and three adjacent regions in France. The Basque Country includes the regions around the Bay of Biscay and the Pyrenees Mountains.  The origins of the Basque people are not entirely known. They speak a very unique language called Euskera. The Basque people began to immigrate to the western United States around 1850, drawn by the California Gold Rush. Many of these immigrants soon turned to running livestock, and became a prominent presence in the western range sheep industry.”

There are a few Basque restaurants in Winnemucca. We went to the Hotel Martin which has been around since. Basque Food02I explained to the waitress that we didn’t know what to do and asked her for suggestions. She explained that Basque food is generally served family style. She suggested we order 2 main entrees and then the rest of the food will just come out prior to the entrees being served. The meal ended up being 7 courses and we were stuffed.

Clam Chowder: This was an overall crowd pleaser and probably everyone’s favorite dish ( except my own). It was extremely rich and creamy. It was the best clam chowder I have ever had. We wanted more but didn’t dare ask since the waitress said there was a ton of food coming out.Basque Food03

Salad and Beans: This was an iceberg lettuce based salad with some sort of vinaigrette. The beans were more savory and salty with flecks of ham. They were good on their own but our waitress said that the warm beans were to be served over the cold salad. We all thought that sounded weird but we tried it and most of us liked it. Marisa and I loved it and and I actually crave beans on my salads now.Basque Food04Basque Food05

Mashed Potatoes: I grew up in Idaho and I like my mashed potatoes thicker and heartier than most. These were definitely thicker and than some would like with bigger pieces mixed in with the mash. nothing really special or different about them but we thought they were really good. They might be too gummy for some.

Green Beans: Nothing special. Normal green beans. They might have been canned.

Beef Toungue: This was my favorite of the night. It was covered with a subtle brown gravy and cooked with peppers and onions. It literally melted in your mouth. Everyone tried it and most liked it even though they didn’t like the idea of eating tongue.Basque Food06

Fries: Fresh cut fries. These were really good.

Pork Chops: These were one of the two entrees we ordered and they weren’t very good. They were dry and lacked any kind of flavor. This was the one thing we ate that I didn’t think was very good.Basque Food09

Lamb Shank: This lamb was perfect. Cooked on the bone and fork tender. It had great spices and everyone loved it.Basque Food08

Bread Pudding: The bread pudding was OK. I make a copyat of Kneaders berry bread pudding that is so good that it would be hard to for any restaurant to live up to it.Basque Food10

Overall, the meal was very good. The experience was even better. we were able to try new foods and get a little taste of Basque Food. If I lived in Winnemucca I probably wouldn’t go to the restaurant a lot, but I would definitely take visitors there to experience something unique and different. Our family enjoyed the food and had a great experience.Basque Food07