Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park

There were two things at the top of my ‘To See/Do While Living in the Pacific Northwest’ list when we first moved up here last summer: (1) See a puffin, and (2) Go to the beach. Luckily, both were within a short drive from us during the warm weekends of summer.

We packed up with a buddy and headed west to visit Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall basaltic monolith on Cannon Beach which houses a multitude of nesting seabirds, including puffins.

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Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park was originally a national forest; its national park designation came in 1899 at the order of President McKinley. Rainier is the dominating feature of the park’s landscape, a mountain among mountains; it is also an active volcano. On a bright summer day last year, I got it into my head that I wanted to see Mount Rainier at sunrise. I had about 24 hours to convince the Other Half that this was a good idea. Unfortunately, the odds were stacked against me, mostly because my plan necessitated getting up at 2am to make the drive.

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Powell Butte Nature Park

When we moved up here, we struggled to find appropriate places we could bring the dog with us. We were used to being able to take him, and occasionally the cat, on all of our hikes, errands, Sonic runs (he lives for his ‘small water with extra ice’), etc. Unfortunately, living in an area with a high percentage of pet owners means that everyone else also feels entitled to bring their dog with them. Quite a few of the people we have met have been wonderful, caring individuals with dogs who are well-trained and mindful of their surroundings. Just as many have brought untrained, aggressive, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, timid, dogs to public places before they perhaps should have.

Anyway, we have been trying to find a place that combines our love of hiking and wildlife-watching with a distinct lack of people. It’s more difficult than you might expect. However, we have discovered the secret to hiking in the Northwest: no one else gets up before 9am*.

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All the dog really wants are things to climb on.

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Ecuador Day 19: Bellavista Lodge Day 1

Palabra del día: colubríes

After a fitful night’s sleep, we wake up at 5:30am to eat breakfast before we meet the van from Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge at 6:15am. We drive up by the Mitad del Mundo, and our guide Cristina offers to stop at the attraction if we haven’t seen it yet. We decide instead to stop at several vistas on the way up to the cloud forest.

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Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Ok, so maybe our goal is to visit all of the US National Parks, but so far we’ve been doing a good job of visiting the US National Wildlife Refuges instead. This time, we were on a mission to see whooping cranes. There are a few good locations to find the tallest North American bird, and one of them is Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (and the nearby Goose Island State Park) in winter.

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A Day with some Salt and a Breeze

Alright, you caught me. It’s not a day on the beach with a Margarita and some sunshine. It was actually in the middle of a landlocked state with a breeze gusting around 30 miles an hour and so salty it left me windchapped.

You know, the Great Plains are actually made up of some really cool little areas. Like the Salt Plains (not to be confused with those boring old Pepper Plains. Just kidding.). Despite living only a few hours away for the last 7 years of my life, I hadn’t actually visited the salt flats of Oklahoma and the related National Wildlife Refuge. So on my first weekend day off in forever (well, fine, it was only 6 weeks or so…), the Other Half and I loaded up the dog for a jaunt up to the area.

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