Snow, Rain & Wine

Three things I inevitably – and sometimes joyfully – look forward to each winter is snow, rain & wine. Unless one of the three stop me from enjoying the others, such as with this photo. I attempted to take my family out wine tasting while they were in town last weekend, yet the weather like a mean step-sibling, howled, blowed and snowed us out of the delicious warm tastings we so desired. But stuck in the snow trying to reach one of my favorite vineyards, I still snapped this awesome stormy photo.

Blizzard Vineyard

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatility keeps life interesting and for someone who ends up juggling the equivalent of ten plates, two swords and a can of peaches each week, it is the sole thing that keeps me sane while driving me crazy at the same time. One of the my many joys in life though is sharing all these countless passions with you.

On January 19, I was nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award. With this award comes responsibility – three simple rules – which I joyously and adventurously accept!

Rule 1: Thank who nominated you for the award & include a link to their blog

Thank you so much Custom Trip Planning for nominating me and engaging with my blog. Custom Trip Planning is a fantastic blog penned by Beth and Graham Rankin offering great travel planning tips, trip insights and fabulously descriptive posts.

Rule 2: Reveal seven things about yourself:

Shark Cave Diving

7. I am extremely afraid of fish. I’m not sure when or why this phobia came about. I  feel super silly even admitting to it, but truly I hate fish. Whenever I’m in water near those creepy swimming creatures it is as if spiders are crawling up and down my arms and legs – my body wells up with tension and anxiety until a toddle tantrum feels inevitable. I first discovered this fear while snorkeling in Hawaii with my family about ten years ago. As soon as the first school of fish ventured near, I curled up into a ball – thus sinking and freaking out even more. However, even with this fear, I somehow went shark cave diving and for five years had a pet fish named Bruce.

6. I have lived abroad twice and dream of traveling the world. For three months during my junior year of college, I lived and studied in the small Italian town of Paderno del Grappa through the CIMBA program. This is where I first fell in love with wine and travel blogging (Italy Travel Blog). A year later during my senior year of college, I moved to South Africa and worked at a winery just outside of Cape Town for three months. (SA Travel Blog). Ultimately I’d love just to travel and write about my trips and experiences. Check out my Travel Bucket List.

5. I have Crohn’s Disease. Diagnosed only last year, I am still trying to get the disease under control, but a little tummy trouble won’t get me down.

4. I almost studied to be a fashion designer. I can’t even image how different my life would have been if I traveled down that oh-so-trendy path. Though I still love sewing my own clothing and crocheting and secretly watch Project Runway religiously (well on-demand), I am happy to keep that side of my life as just a fun hobby.

3. I never ate a full salad until I was 18. When I was young I turned my nose at anything green – unless it was lime Jell-O or kiwi and that was still a stretch. Yet one day during my freshman year of college I tried a salad and discover that there is a huge world of deliciousness beyond ranch dressing. Now I eat a salad a few times a week.

My Grandma and Grandpa

2. I started writing in third grade. My best friend and I actually wrote an entire short story series with full color illustrations. Since then I have written poems, newsletter articles, magazine features and hundreds of blog posts (I currently have two blogs of my own – Oregon Winette is my second). I hope to one day write a book – the topic is yet to be determined.

1. I am related to a quarter the population of Wyoming. Not really – but really. My grandfather is one of twelve siblings who grew up on a back country dude ranch in Wyoming and my grandmother one of ten. Between all of these cow-folk and their children, it seems every time I go to visit, other relatives appear out of the wood-works. Yet I love them all – third, fourth, fifth cousins too – but I would never date someone from the state without a detailed background check!

Rule 3: Bestow the honor to other blogs you enjoy reading

Here are 10 of my favorite blogs:

Water, Water, Everywhere

The rain is pounding Oregon hard this week, creating puddles where sidewalks once where, lakes where fields awaited spring and rivers out of gurgling creeks. It’s water, water, everywhere.

My thoughts reach out to the people and towns that are battling the high waters this week. Drive safe and if you or anyone you know needs help with the clean up, let me know – I’m a happy mud buddy!

If you like this photo, check out these posts too:

10 Hikes in 10 Years

From some of the world’s best trails to other local conquests, I am setting out to get my hiking shoes dusty and dirty over the next ten years – or hopefully sooner!

With rocks, mud and trail underfoot, hiking to me is one of the best ways to explore. From the trail, landscapes unfold and you not only discover the beauty of nature around you but you also discover yourself. You have to pay close attention to the grade and ground, you calves and heart, the weather and your weather, in a combination that just takes you away from it all.

As someone who is regularly glued to a computer for work, any time I spend in nature is my ultimate unplug moments. In an ever increasing world of technology, taking these brief yet much need treks away from the zip of online life is rejuvenating and exhilarating.

So over the next ten years, I am committing to tackle ten of my wish list hikes, from single-day hikes near home to week long treks across the globe.  With one foot in front of the other, I will slowly yet surely take to these trails.

(Listed in no particular order)

1.       Mount Shasta, California

Raising more than 10,000 feet above sea level in northern California, Mount Shasta is a recreational and hiking haven – though no sissy. Only 249 feet shorter than Mount Rainer to its north in the Washington Cascades, Mount Shasta offers numerous trails to explore and for all skill levels, from lush meadows full of wildflowers in the late spring to glacier crossing summits.

For more information on Mount Shasta visit the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Website.

Half-Dome, Yosemite by Kyle Knapp

2.       Half-Dome, Yosemite, California

Just a few hours south of Mount Shasta in the heart of bear country, Half-Dome is an iconic, climber’s delight. A 14 to 16 mile round trip gaining a total of 4,800 feet, the trail takes most hikers 10 to 12 hours to complete, but well worth the long day for views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap and panoramic skylines of the Yosemite Valley from the top.

3.       Inca Trail to Macchu Piccu, Peru

Since I was ten years old and pulled a book off an elementary school library self about archaeology, the subject and its many wonders have fascinated me – and Machu Picchu is just one of the many, many sites that I have dreamed of visiting since. With majestic and mysterious ruins nearly reaching the heavens and an even more breath taking (literally) journey to their home, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu will be a trek though diverse landscapes that I will never forget.

For more information on the Inca Trail & Machu Picchu.

4.       Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak at 19,336 feet. Considered to be the tallest walkable mountain, this trek is all about the stamina and battling altitude sickness. With a variety of routes up the barren mountain side, hikes typically range from 6-7 days but can be completed quicker by experienced hikers.

5.       Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainer, Washington

I have hiked extensively with my family along many of the wondrous trails around Mt. Rainer but never all the way around. This 93-mile trail that encircles Mount Rainier weaves through lowland forests and valleys along with some stretches of alpine and sub-alpine trails creating the ultimate mountain loop trek.

For more information of Mt. Rainer and the Wonderland Trail.

6.       Rim-to-Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona,

Showing off beautiful oranges, browns and red in a cascading layered display, the Grand Canyon is an amazing vista from all angels; but to take in all the sites, I’ll complete a multi-day rim-to-rim hike covering the wide expanse’s 27-mile mouth.

Though possible with a lot of advance planning or a second friendly hiking group, this hike may end up as a rim-to-rim-to rim hike so to get back to the car!

For more information of hiking in the Grand Canyon.

7.       Everest Base Camp, Nepal

While I don’t think I’ll ever have the ability to summit Mount Everest, I am game to tackle the second best option – hiking through the breathtaking Himalayas to Everest Base Camp. With dozens of tour trek groups now leading multi-day hikes through the mountains for a challenging adventure full of beautiful views, cultural exchanges and unforgettable experiences, Everest is growing closer for regular-avid hikers like myself.

Check out the trips with G Adventures & Intrepid for more information on this epic trek.

8.       Kalalau Trial, Kauai, Hawaii

This 11-mile rugged trail weaves along one of the most beautiful and remote areas of Kaua’i in the Hawaiian Islands. From white tipped waves crashing against the island’s high shoreline cliffs to lush forest, the Kalalau Trail is the only land access to the legendary Kalalau Valley and provides outstanding views of the island’s pristine nature.

The Sisters from McKenzie Pass, Oregon

9.       Summit the South Sister, Three Sisters, Oregon

The third-tallest peak in the Oregon Cascades, the South Sister is one of three stunning points along the mountains in central Oregon. Though no technical climbing experience is required, the trail is steep and should not be attempted in anything but perfect weather, according to Oregon Hiking expert, Bill Sullivan. Climbing nearly 5,000 feet of elevation over only 5.5 miles, the trail up the Sisters is one that will challenge the lungs but deliver with beauty.

For hiking the South Sister, check out Bill Sullivan’s online guide.

10.   Torres del Paine Circuit, Patagonia, Chile

This unique, picturesque hike covers 52 miles over 10 days and features astonishing views of the jagged mountains of Chile. The route encircles the Torres del Paine, granite monoliths that spiral into the sky and also showcases the beautiful glacial lakes and frozen waves.

For more information of the various hiking opportunities around the Torres del Paine.

Money and health willing, these ten hikes will challenge me mind, body and soul and maybe kill just a few pairs of hiking boats.

What hikes are on your ultimate adventure wish list?

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Reversing the Reflecting

Last Friday I posted the photo “Reflecting the Sky,” which overlooked the Delta Ponds in Eugene from the view point of the Delta Bridge. In the far distance, spanning one of the ponds you can see a small wooden bridge. Today I decided while out for my run to go find that bridge and do a reverse shot looking back over the ponds. This is the beautiful view I found:

Delta Ponds and the Delta Footbridge.

Sometimes you have to turn around and take in the space you forgot to find bliss.

Cascades Raptor Center

Hidden on the southern slopes of Spencer’s Butte amidst knurly trees moist with draping gray-green moss, the Cascades Raptor Center looks like it’s located straight out of a set from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.  You know that scene where Luke, Leia & Han Solo roam through the dense forests of Endor to escape the dark side’s forces – like that. I almost expected a fuzzy like Ewok to jump out from the lurking brush. Yet alas only equally as creepy squawks emerged from the trees as we walked up the steep driveway from the over-flow parking lot below. If I wasn’t knowingly entering a bird sanctuary I think I would have been a little frightened by the wild sounds emerging from the trees.

Located just south of Eugene, Ore. on Fox Hollow Road, the Cascades Raptor Center is a nature center and wildlife hospital. Devoted to helping and healing wild, native birds and educating the public, the center hosts 60 non-releasable birds for viewing. From an energetic red-tailed hawk, who starred me down through its wooden cage to a shy, pure-white snow owl and stoic bald eagles, the Cascades Raptor Center creates an engaging and educational exhibit for all-ages.

Holding special permits for educational purposes, the raptors on display are kept in large outside lattice enclosures that camouflage into the natural surroundings. Initially entering the facility I didn’t even see half of structures, they blended so well into the winter hill side.

Using a cultural pass from the Eugene library, good for up-to $25 in admission cost, my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and I wandered through the center for free, gazing on the beautiful birds. I can’t say my nephew paid any real attention to the birds – he’s only 4.5 months old, many of the birds bigger than him – but the informational placards accompanying the animals brought the bird’s stories to life even for us.

Like Puck, an adorable American Kestrel who when still young enough to be begging for food landed on a boy’s head at a baseball game. The bird when taken to a rehabilitation center was deemed a human imprint – they have been physiology influenced by human behavior during phase-sensitive learning, likely from direct interaction. Puck due to this negative human contact could no longer function securely in the wild.

Walking along the dirt trails between structures, each of the birds had a story – unique as their own feathers but inevitably tied back to the damaging effects of humans on their habitat and learning.

But at the Cascades Raptor Center, they are trying to prevent this from happening further. Through their educational programs, rehabilitation center, community outreach and of course public tours of the sanctuary, the center is educating and exposing the public one very cute raptor at a time.

Cascades Raptor Center:

My sister & I

32275 Fox Hollow Road, Eugene, OR 97405 – (541) 485-1320

Hours:

Winter (November – March), Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

Summer (April – October), Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Admission:

Adults $7, Teens/Seniors $6, Children under 12 $4

*This was a Eugene Bucket List item!

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Me with my cute "birdy" nephew!

Water in the Web

I hate spiders, but love their webs. Look how the beads of water just hang from its shiny threads in the morning fog – a brilliant and intriguing design of nature.

This photo was taken on my saturday morning training run. I am up to 3 miles now toward my half-marathon goal. I used my iPhone 3GS to capture the photo and then edited the image with the Luminance and Dynamic Light Apps.

Happy 2012!

From the center of Burnside Bridge overlooking the Willamette River and lights of downtown, I rang in 2012 with friends in Portland. Waking up with the sun, the new year greeted me with a firm punch of reality and a fat lip (I was elbowed in the face at the bar). Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come this year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful, pain-free 2011 & may this new year be full of surprising, joyful adventures!

Midnight view looking south from Burnside Bridge, Portland

How was your New Year’s Eve? Where did you celebrate?