Four holidays booked!

Despite travelling from Inverness to London every week, I still haven’t lost that urge to travel.  Currently I have four holidays planned, ok so one is a trip down to stay with my folks…but still it lifts my spirits no end having holidays on the horizon.

In September I have booked myself on a yoga retreat in Ibiza.  I have had no end of teasing about me going to Ibiza…not about doing yoga, not about going on my own, instead it is the ‘making shapes on a dance floor, foam parties and getting drunk in the streets jokes’.  I have never been to Ibiza before and to be honest didn’t think I ever would, as I also thought it was just all about drunken people and raves…are they still called raves?  I am looking forward to going and have been trying to do a little yoga every day since I booked it…I don’t want to embarrass myself too much.  I feel I am already walking straighter and feeling more energised. 

In November I am visiting the Wirral to stay with my folks.  I have been planning a reunion for a company I worked for in Liverpool for nearly 9 years.  The venue is booked, deposit paid and 39 confirmed attendees so far.  I will also catch up with my friends from the Wirral, so it should be a great week of reunions.

In December I am off to Bratislava for a long weekend with my best friend Helen.  We will be taking in a visit to Vienna whilst we are there.  We visited Budapest a few years ago and I expect the same sort of chilly temperatures so will be stuffing thermal vests and long johns in my hand luggage.

Finally in June 2016…yes I really have booked a holiday 11 months in advance…Helen and I are off to Michigan.  In 1991-1992 Helen and I were both au pairs in Michigan and next year will be the 25th Anniversary!!!  I looked after  three girls (twin babies Molly and Trish and four year old Erin.).  It will be the twins 25th birthday whilst we are there, so a double 25 year celebration!

No holidays planned with my husband yet, but likely we will rent a cottage in Italy near Florence at some point and maybe a mini break to Islay.  I buy 10 extra days holiday a year, he doesn’t and then he spends 5 of his days on boys trips (usually to Scotland games).  So that gives me 15 days a year to sneak in more trips than him 🙂

Portland to Seattle via Columbia River Gorge

20 June 2014

Bridal Veil Falls
On the way to Bridal Veil Falls we spotted people parking on the side of the road and we started to get puzzled as to whether this was the parking, we decided to drive onwards and eventually found the official car park much further on, so I suspect the people parking on the road were hikers.  We didn’t have too much time so we were glad to have driven on to the official car park.  Judging by the number of signs about car thieves it obviously has a history of car break ins. We weren’t there too long and had everything hidden in the boot/trunk of the car and were fine.  It is quite a way down to the falls but worth it to see them, the hike back up to the carpark was a bit of an effort, but didn’t take too long.
Multnomah Falls and Mount St Helens
Parking for Multnomah Falls seems to operate on a one out, one in basis, so keep your eyes open for people leaving or heading back to their cars.  Again we didn’t have too much time so only did the short walk up to the bridge and no further.  There is a restaurant and snack vendors there for something to eat.
The bottom right picture is Mount St Helens taken from the Mount St Helens visitor centre.  We managed to get there just in time to catch the last video which shows footage of the eruption in 1980.  It is worth stopping at to read the displays and watching the short film.  




Portland Japanese and Rose Garden

19 June 2014

The Japanese Garden is a bit out of the city centre and so public transport or a car is needed to get there.  As it was summer we took the MAX to Oregon Zoo and then caught a shuttle bus up to the gardens.  Out of season I think the transport changes so it is worth checking their website.  
The plan had been for Allistar to sit in a bar watching England playing football in the World Cup and I was going to head to the gardens, but in the end we both watched the football and both visited the gardens.  
The gardens were smaller than I had expected, but they are lovely to wander around.  We have a couple of Japanese maples at home and it was lovely to see so many different types.  The rose gardens are actually free and are a bit below the Japanese gardens.  It was a baking hot day and there is limited shade in the rose garden but plenty of shade in the Japanese.
The rose garden was free and you get a good view from there across to a Mount Hood.

Portland brewery tours

19 June 2014

Persuading Allistar that Washington and Oregon would be a great roadtrip location really came down to the selling point that Portland has soooo many micro breweries and despite us only staying in Portland a couple of nights, he seemed to really enjoy the tasting trays that the brewery pubs sold. A small selection of the ones we visited are in the collage, plus a few city shots and my ginger ale. I really liked Portland, I could easily have stayed longer and hope that one day I will get an opportunity to return here. The streets were so clean, lovely architecture, a real buzz about the place…probably down to all the beer people consume. I did a Facebook quiz ages ago which asked which City I should live in and it came out as Portland. I know these quizzes aren’t scientific and are just a bit of fun, but I was disappointed that it hadn’t come out saying San Francisco!! I do love San Francisco so much, but Portland comes a close second above New York and Chicago for US cities I like.


Bend to Portland

18 June 2014

The Three Sisters Mountains, Mount Hood, clear rivers, dense forests…I love this sort of scenery.  There is something really special about seeing snow capped mountains and in Oregon there is certainly no shortage of them.  Given that this was a day where we didn’t have anything specific to go and see and it was just a day for getting us from Bend to Portland, it turned out to be an enjoyable day anyway…soaking up the views and stopping to take in the panoramic views.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

17 June 2014

Our interest in volcanoes and volcanic features was sparked during our trip to Hawaii in 2013. There is something so fascinating to me that all these different structures and textures can all be created by the Earth cracking or bursting open.

Exploring the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which covers a huge area (many miles!) gives a great opportunity to see the different ways in which the surface of the land can be changed dramatically by volcanic activity.

The Lava Cast Forest
This is accessed by driving down a very, very long, dusty and bumpy road that seemed to go on forever. When we parked up we were wondering if the long drive was worth what we were about to see. The answer was obviously yes or I wouldn’t bother writing about it 🙂

You will see from the collage of photos just a snapshot of some of the features, from trees that have grown with twisted bark because they have maybe only one tap root that has managed to get through the lava to find water, so the bark twists to distribute that water. Also in the collage is a ponderosa pine tree which is fire resistant, miles of lava that flooded the area, holes in the ground which look man made but were where trees grew, the lava flow came and the trees burnt away leaving a cast in the ground. There are loads of these holes and they are different sizes and depths.


The Obsidian Flow
Okay so I don’t know whether it is because I am a lover of glass but I found the obsidian flow captivating. As we climbed part of the flow the sun came out and it was as if we were walking on a hill made of black glass. There was even a section that was in the shape of a love heart.


Lava Butte
This is another feature that we stopped at. I find it really interesting the different colours and the different textures that spew from the ground and this lava butte had really red/russet tones.


Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

16-17 June 2014


I first heard of Crater Lake National Park when I was reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. She was walking the Pacific Crest Trail on her own and the trail runs past the lake. It sounded pretty amazing from her description, so I googled it and started reading up about it. With Allistar and I already now being really interested in anything volcano related, following our trip to Hawaii, it got me thinking…’how can we tie in a visit to Crater Lake and do the Pacific Coast Highway in one holiday. After a few weeks, or maybe months, of planning I had our circular route defined. I am posting these entries out of sync so I will post another entry with our route.

Back to Crater Lake….wow!!! The size, the colour, the snow ledges, the mountain views in the distance are all just amazing. The colour of the lake when the sunshines doesn’t look like your typical blue. I have seen Lake Taupo in New Zealand which is also a filled in volcano but because Crater Lake doesn’t have any rivers or streams that feed it and it has just been filled with melted ice and snow it is very clean and clear. Unfortunately we were too early in the season to be able to do a boat trip, which was disappointing but we did manage to upgrade to a room at the Lodge with a lake view. We had been booked in a cabin in Mazama Village, at the time of booking Crater Lake Lodge was fully booked. However, we stopped and asked if there were any cancellations and we were lucky that there was. We had to pay for the room and then they returned our money for our original booking to our credit card later.

There are walks you can take and if open you can drive around the rim. The northern most part of the rim drive was closed but we did all the road we could and kept stopping to take photos. I took sooooo many photos it is crazy but it is just so amazing to see.

In the Lodge, we listened to one of the Rangers give a talk about the building of the Lodge. He was very enthusiastic and told us that many years ago they put fish in the lake and now they are trying to get rid of them, so they allow fishing without a permit so long as you take your catch with you or you use artificial bait. We drank cocktails and had a nice dinner in the restaurant in the evening. When we woke up there was very fine snow falling but later the sun came out again. This was a real treat and made a nice change from the motels that we have been staying at. Not cheap but worth it for a great night/couple of days.

I have included in the collage of photos one of the panoramic shots that has 2 shots of Allistar plus a third image of his head.

Note added later: Cheryl’s book ‘Wild’ is now a movie and I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening at the Inverness Film Festival a few months before general release. There are a few scenes where you can see Reese Witherspoon sitting looking out across Crater Lake and I felt like shouting “I’ve been there” lo

Sun dog and wrong turn to a site we didn’t see!

14-15 June 2014


As we pulled into a petrol station we saw people staring up at the sky, it was a bit like a sci-fi movie and I think we part expected to see a UFO. Instead we saw a Sun dog, something we had never seen or even heard of before. We bought an ice cream and starred in wonder with our hands covering the sun but a good view of the ring.

Another natural wonder we saw was a river so clear and an extraordinary colour, I can’t remember exactly where it was but we were heading inland having stayed the night before in Crescent City.


We stopped at tourist information near the turning for the Oregon Caves National Monument. After some debate we decided not to make the long drive to the caves, as they were going to be really cold and we hadn’t booked a slot. Now I don’t know what happened but somehow we managed to go the wrong way and we did in fact end up driving the many miles down the dead end road to the monument. When we got there we decided we still didn’t want to go into the caves and so we did one of the hiking trails up to the viewpoint and it was worth the climb for the view from the top. It really felt like we were on top of the world!



Umpqua River Lighthouse

13 June 2014

I don’t know the correct way of pronouncing Umpqua, but I can’t help but think of the rhyme ‘umpa, umpa, stick it up your jumper’…random I know!!!


The Umpqua River Lighthouse was interesting for two reasons…1) it is a river, rather than sea lighthouse and 2) there are red lenses, not just clear ones!

The lens is worth the climb up the steps, even if you aren’t keen on heights.

Seal Rock

11 June 2014

We thought we would stop at Seal Rock to have a walk along the beach and look at the alien sea life we found!!!

Cannon Beach to Yachats

10-12 June 2014

We checked out after a lovely evening at Schooners Cove in Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is a lovely town to browse the galleries, jewellers and gift shops. We spent the morning wandering around and saw some lovely art and jewellery made from sea glass.  A stop for a photo of Oswald West (not in collage), then stopped at Rockaway Beach where friendly squirrels were living in the rocks between the beach and carpark!

We stopped at Tillamook Cheese Factory for a quick self guided tour then lunch including yummy ice cream (3 scoops each!!).  Plenty of cheese samples on offer as well, so by the time we left we were stuffed.  After leaving there we got lost trying to find Nestucca National Wildlife Reserve, I am not sure how we got so muddled but it did give me an opportunity to stop at Bob Straub beach for a quick panoramic shot (after scaling a huge sand dune).

Finally we found Nestucca just at the point we had given up looking.  On the drive up to the higher car park we saw some deer, the photos are not good enough to include in the collage.  After we had parked at the upper car park we then walked up the footpath to the viewing station and what a view!

Cannon Beach to Yachats 1

Driving further south down Highway 101 we stopped at Cape Foulweather, Devil’s Punchbowl and it was a bit windy!!

We finally arrived at the Fireside Motel. We stayed here for 2 nights and in hindsight we would rather have stayed 2 nights at Cannon Beach instead. The Fireside has a great location and offered free breakfast cereal or muffins etc. but there was something that we felt was lacking…I suspect if we had just stayed one night we would have been fine with it. We weren’t too close to the sea but had a sea view and it was pretty noisy.

We had dinner at the the Drif Inn both nights!

Cannon Beach to Yachats 2

On our day off from driving south, we walked along the coastal footpath into Yachats and had a drink and cake in the Green Salmon Cafe, we then walked back to the motel and drove to Newport and visited the Rogue Brewing Company and did some shopping. A nice relaxing day and a walk along the coast is refreshing and makes a lovely change from being in the car so much.


Lake Quinault to Cannon Beach

9-10 June 2014

A second visit to Quinault Mercantile for another Yogi Bearie Crunch was the perfect start to our day.  On our way south down the Pacific Coast Highway 101 we stopped for a quick wander around Raymond and Willapa lovely area with dozens of sculptures along the sides of the road, in every direction.   It makes the town attractive and gives a traveller a walm welcome.

We stopped for lunch in Long Beach which says it has the World’s Longest Beach! But put that in Google and there are others that seem to actually be longer.  However it is very, very long and worth a glimpse as you are passing.

As you leave Washington State and enter Oregon, you are on the World’s largest single truss bridge, I haven’t Googled this fact to test it…I don’t want to shatter all these facts we took in.

Lake Quinault to Cannon Beach

We had a wander around Astoria but didn’t stay long and we were relieved to have taken advice from TripAdvisor forums that said don’t bother staying there, instead we drove on to Cannon Beach and stayed at We were I  room 25 and had a balcony and a perfect view of the sun setting, watching people strolling along the beach.  There is a supermarket close by and so we bought snacks and nibbles and had a buffet on the balcony…pure bliss!

In the collage of photos taken on Cannon Beach you can see a man carrying some driftwood that he then put down and watched the sunset!

Cannon Beach Views


The Olympic Peninsula, Washington USA

I only just wrote his but it happened in June, I am finishing off my other post tidying and adding other information. I haven’t worked out the best way to post yet, when you are so far behind.


7-9 June 2014

I debated whether or not to include the stop at Lake Quinault, my itinerary kept changing over and over again and in the end, having read some entries on Sporkhashi’s blog I decided to include a 2 night stay at Lake Quinault Lodge, which is in a beautiful setting and is a lovely place to stay.


We had a busy full day between our two nights travelling up the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula stopping at Forks, Ruby beach, La Push (famous for Twilight movies location) and Rialto beaches. We saw some Bald Eagles and we saw huge trees that were drift wood. A strange mist was rolling in from the sea and there is really such a weird atmosphere there, eerie yet tranquil. It was definitely worth adding to the trip.


2015/01/img_0077.jpgWe went to Quinault Mercantile for breakfast both days and had their delicious ‘yogi…

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The Olympic Peninsula, Washington USA

7-9 June 2014

I debated whether or not to include the stop at Lake Quinault, my itinerary kept changing over and over again and in the end, having read some entries on Sporkhashi’s blog I decided to include a 2 night stay at Lake Quinault Lodge, which is in a beautiful setting and is a lovely place to stay.


We had a busy full day between our two nights travelling up the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula stopping at Forks, Ruby beach, La Push (famous for Twilight movies location) and Rialto beaches. We saw some Bald Eagles and we saw huge trees that were drift wood. A strange mist was rolling in from the sea and there is really such a weird atmosphere there, eerie yet tranquil. It was definitely worth adding to the trip.


2015/01/img_0077.jpgWe went to Quinault Mercantile for breakfast both days and had their delicious ‘yogi bearie crunch’, (Greek yogurt berries honey and granola).

When we got back from our trip we drove to see the world’s biggest spruce tree. We could have walked had we not got back so late. There were signs saying Cougars had been spotted recently in the area. That along with the black bear rumours we were glad we had driven (wimps!)

If you are in the area then the Salmon House Restaurant has nice options for salmon lovers like me and it was cooked well. Outside the window of the restaurant were lots of hummingbirds. Beautiful!


The Great Dale Chihuly and my love of glass

I love glass! Not your average windows or drinking vessels, I mean beautiful works of art made from glass.

I have done glass blowing and glass jewellery making glasses at 2 different studios in Scotland, I collect glass, have inherited glass and have pieces we are looking after for my mother-in-law. So any opportunity to see beautiful glass structures or works of art made from glass…well you can be sure I will be there. So when I was researching and planning our journey around Washington and Oregon I was thrilled to find Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle and then the Museum of Glass in Tacoma (birth place of Dale).

If you are a lover of glass then book a flight to Seattle because at the base of the Space Needle you will find Chihuly Garden and Glass, it is beyond words. We went on the day we arrived from the UK having been up for a crazy number of hours already and feeling tired but determined to cram in as much as we could in our few days in Seattle. We walked around viewing the glass, then went up the Space Needle and watched the sunset, then came back down and went in for a second viewing to see the garden in the dark, all lit up.


A couple of days later, with our hire car picked up, we drove south towards the Olympic Peninsula and we made our planned stop at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. We got to see live glass blowing and some amazing pieces of glass both by Dale and other artists. The size of some of the pieces were incredible and I find it hard to imagine how they were formed.