Mt Rainier

Well after checking the weather, Brian decided we needed to head south…and that’s how we ended up at Mt Rainier!!

Luckily we got a place right outside the park called Stone Creek Lodge with adorable cabins and a bon fire with s’mores every night. Couldn’t say enough about the place!!

Scoping the mountain out the day we got there proved wise. Beautiful waterfalls and views even for a cloudy day!!

However , the next day we were ready at the crack of dawn to hike the Skyline Trail up to the Panoramic point. On the mountain by 7:30 we started up what I can only describe as a straight up hike. One where breaks to take pictures ( really to catch your breath) were required every 100 ft. Climbing 1700 ft elevation in under 2 miles was a first for me but worth every step!! Doing the trail clockwise gave us the best views and got the worst part of the hike over first

The view did not disappoint!!! We could see Mt Helen, Mt Adam ,and Mt Hood in all their glory. Seeing Mt Helen was emotional and talking to people who lived here at the time of the eruption was so surreal. Seeing the mountain just hits you hard as to how vulnerable we all are to Mother Nature

We sat for over three hours enjoying the sites and talking with people from all over the world who just love to come to our National Park’s. It was mesmerizing watching young guys hiking the trail with skis and boats heading to towards the top. As we sat and ate we could here the Glacier crack! One was so loud that we thought for sure something had broken off!!

By 1:00 the fog rolled in and we headed down the other side. The hike down did not disappoint. Beautiful fields on both sides filled with marmites I even had the pleasure of being chased by one down the trail !! Only to run into a bear not ten minutes later coming towards us on the trail. It was a cub and was not fazed one bit by us. We quickly got off the trail to let him do his thing and stood at a distance as he and another bear ate and played in the grass… great way to end the day!

People say you are lucky if you get to see one of the mountains in full view. We have been here less than five days and have seen two beautiful mountains in full view. Spectacular doesn’t seem to say enough about the beauty. But the best part has been sharing this experience with my son Brian. As a parent we spend so much time and energy raising our kids that time just flies. Having this time one on one is something I will always treasure!

Tomorrow we head into Seattle since weather will be bad not sure what the day will bring and then we head home. Feeling very blessed I have children I’m so proud of and that still want to spend time with their mom. Who could ask for anything more

Ptarmigan trail Mt Baker

Today was the mother of all hikes. Not because of the distance, although it was 11 miles, and not the elevation, somewhere around 1800ft, but because of the view!!! Never have I felt so on top of the world . With the clouds below us and mountain ranges as far as you could see. You could even spot Mt Rainer!!!! Ptarmigan trail is not for the faint of heart, but it has views like no other and we had nothing but blue skies for most of the day.

Hiking here has meant a lot of rock climbing. So much of the paths are filled with rocks so you have to watch every step you take. Or at least I thought so until a man came flying by us on the trail running as fast as he could. The endurance of the people out here amaze me. People of all ages are hiking these unbelievably hard trails like it is nothing. We even saw people hiking two and five miles through these rocks with skies and snowboards just to ride on snow banks maybe 100 ft wide… crazy!!!I guess living in Florida has really got its down side being so flat.

Again so tired I had trouble climbing stairs to hotel room so this posting is short and sweet. Pictures say it all !!

Hiking in North Cascades with son, Brian

Christmas came early for me this year. I finally get to spend a whole week with my son hiking. Every mother’s dream!

And it is because my son has given me a week of his time that I forced myself to get on the smallest plane I have ever flown. Yup one seat on one side of plane and two on the other. Surprisingly, it was a smooth flight.

Two flights, three long hours in traffic and one fun shopping spree at Walmart (to get my bear spray) and we arrived at our place. Can’t say enough about the Blue t Lodge!!!! Unbelievably comfortable room with great restaurant right next door

We arrived at Mt Baker,North Cascades National Park, by 9 just in time to see the mountain next to it in its full beauty !! I’ve never seen such blue and tortoise colors in a glacier before and it was spectacular!!

We started on what was supposed to be an easy hike and well, 4 and a half hours later, over 7 miles, over 1800ft elevation (although I swear it was more and walking on rocks should count as harder) and 4 million calories burned we were ending our hike. But it was incredible!!

Although there was cloud cover, it did not take away from the colors of the rocks, flowers, and lakes. We picked wild blueberries and huckleberries on the way to eat as a snack !

However, once again as I hiked up the millionth switchback similar thoughts came to my mind.. why did I pack so much crap, why did I not loose a few pounds, why can’t I enjoy regular vacations sitting by the pool and why am I sooo lucky to have such a great kid!!!!

Yes , Brian was the perfect gentleman. Not once did he ever scream “ come on you’ve already stopped like a thousand times” . Quite the opposite, we took time for pictures, eating berries, and having fun watching the little critters around us. We even got to dress like Ninja turtles when it started to rain and we covered our backpacks!

The lakes we passed were emerald greens and turquoise. Every turn brought another breathtaking view of the mountains and rocks. And the colors were just incredible even for a cloudy day.

Tomorrow we head back to Mt. Baker for another trail. After much needed Tylenol, I will be ready and excited to see what the new trail has in store for us!

And in a blink of an eye…it’s over

As I woke up this morning the realization that it was our last full day on our trip hit me like a ton of rocks. Yes, we are tired and miss our family and friends and are ready to come home. We both need a haircut and our clothes are getting way too tight ( and smell) from all the great food and traveling. But it is just surreal that this amazing trip is over. No more waking up and getting ready for the next stop or looking forward to what surprises lie ahead as we round the bend on the road. Spending hours just exploring and even arguing as to which way to turn lol. Trying to figure out which language to use on our google translate or even which money and at one point trying to figure out which county we were in was always an adventure. Yes, we still have two days of flying to look forward to but it’s just not the same. I’m also sure one day we will return to Europe but it will be different

I know this trip has changed Brant and I and how we view the would. The people we have met and the things we have seen will stay with us forever. Although we will continue to travel, I doubt any trip will be quite like this one. We definitely took every opportunity we had to see and do and boy, what a ride it was!!!

Included some pictures Brant took on the plane flying back to Zurich. We had a sunny day and great views of the alps. However, not thrilled when we were just over the alps and Brant was enjoying the view when our pilot announced we would be landing in just 20 minutes!!! That only meant one thing… we were going straight down from here. And yup we did and landed in 20 minutes. Unbelievable. Although we were glad for the quick landing as we had the child from hell right behind Brant kicking the seat the whole time and letting out the most god awful piercing scream you want to hear most of the flight. Good times😖😖

Thanks to all who followed and sent comments. This really was just a journal to help me remember this time but also to help others experience it as well. We already have our trip for next summer booked to Washington and Oregon. There is so much out there in this world to see and experience and we all have to remember to take the time and embrace every sunset and conversation we share because….Life won’t wait!!!!

Split and Primosten

Split and Primostone

Drove into Split and I have to say for the first time in the trip was very disappointed. As we walked down to the water, the streets were filled with college kids due to a music festival and there were people everywhere!! The warf also reminded me of the port of Philadelphia. After looking at the book schedule, and seeing what it would take to get out on the islands, we nixt that idea. We headed to the old town which would have been beautiful to walk through if it wasn’t for all the cheesy venders everywhere!! It was at that time I said to Brant “we need to get out of here”

The next day we headed an hour north to Primosten. As it turned out, it was the best thing we could have done!! Beautiful doesn’t describe this area enough!! Locals and tourist described the town and beach as the most beautiful in Croatia and I believe it! A small old town on an island surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen anywhere. Turquoise water, more islands than I could count, and the mountains were our view all day! Of course I took the opportunity to get in the water. Even better, guys come around in the beach and sell hot corn on the cob!!! Just amazing!!

What was unbelievable though was again the affects of the war. Bombed out homes left in the old town and abandoned hotels on either side of the beach. We can’t believe that with this prime real-estate, the old was not being replaced with something new. Brant kept going on about how this area was a gold mine for any developer with money!!!! He sat on the beach and talked to a local about this and the affects of the war and then got in his phone and researched how this area and Zadar was the most heavily bombed area in Croatia during the war. Brant learned about all the people killed in mine fields during and after the war and how their are still mines out there now. No off trail walking for us!! Coming here to Croatia and seeing the affects of war over and over again has impacted us both. In the US, we are so isolated and see things only on tv. But to drive for hours in the mountains and seeing town after town abandoned and homes destroyed from bombs in unforgettable. Tourists who come here only see the beauty by heading to the beaches or islands, I’m glad we had the opportunity to take the roads less traveled to experience this country and its history over the last 20 years. These people here are true survivors!!! The cemeteries we have visited has shown all the young who have passed away and the war memorials we also passed shows all that who died during the war. Plitvice Lakes is beautiful to see , but to think that 30 years ago it was smack in the middle of a war zone is sad

Enough of the seriousness and back to out great outing …

Of course Brant had to find his shot opportunity, so ten minutes away we drove up a very high mountain and walked the rest (since I wouldn’t let brant drive) to a place called Our Lady of Loreto. It is a lookout with a beautiful statue of the blessed mother that can be seen from Italy!!! It even had a small bar! So once again in this trip, we found ourselves at the top of a mountain, drinking beer, and looking at amazing views!! Great way to end our trip. We stayed till sunset and tried to soak in as much beauty as we could.

Tomorrow we will go back to this incredible spot!

Pula and Beaches

Pula and Premantura

We did some more of the tourist stuff today and headed to Pula to see some ruins. They have a fairly good size colosseum and some arches. All you really need is about 2 hours and you’ve covered everything

30 minutes south is a state park Prematura that we never quite made it to the end. Buying tickets to get in the park was confusing and it seemed further than originally thought so we stopped T the first beach towards the entrance. It actually turned out better because we heard that the other spot had rough surf. Our beach had free parking, calm waters, and a place to change into. Although we both did the European thing getting into our suites by the car. Loved swimming in the cold, cedar, turquoise water!!!

Day ended with gorgeous sunset and last stroll around Rovinj. Beautiful town!!!

This one is for you Brant

This blog is dedicated to a man who agreed to 6 weeks in Europe, 5 countries , 3 languages, 4 plane rides , 2 rental cars, and 15 hotels!! Not only that, but once we got over here, it was Brant that showed me what it means to travel abroad. He was supplied with his google translate that enabled us to hold lengthy conversations with locals and make new friends. His app that can take any written language and immediately show you the English version ( which helped immensely at parking meters) Brant learned all the different traffic signs and never once complained about the driving (maybe the drivers lol)

A man who looked up additional places to go that were off the beaten track and some of our favorite places!!!

Brant never said no to any experience over here and was the one encouraging me to try new things.

I watched how he easily conversed with the locals and found his way through the craziness of some of these roads and towns. He shared his shoes with a young lady who wanted to swim in the rocky ocean and picked up the little trash left from previous hikers, taught locals how to use google translate and gave fellow travelers advice.

When I planned this trip , Brant appeared apprehensive about going and I expected I would have to show him the way. It was quite the opposite. It was Brant who guided me through this trip and opened my eyes to the experiences Europe has to offer.

Brant, I know you read my blog so thank you with all my heart and I love experiencing life with you❤️❤️

Hiking and swimming in Rovinj!!

Today we took the road less traveled. Planned on hopping on a ferry and heading to little island right off Rovinj with a hundred other tourists, but while waiting in line we decided to bag it and do our own thing.

We grabbed our backpacks, suits, and some local pizza and heading on a hike around the edge of town toward a local park

Hugging the water most of the time , we saw nothing but beautiful water and sunbathers of all kinds just swimming and laying on the rocks!

As you can see in one of the pictures, we made the plunge ourselves. Yup, we were swimming in the Adriatic Ocean 😁😁😁it was amazing!! Afterwards, I did the European thing and stripped down to change with the help of brant and a towel. Although we could both use some practical lol

I sprawled our on the hot rocks and almost fell asleep. It was the most relaxed I can ever remember feeling!!! I am really liking this European like-style over year. And no one cares what you look like in a bathing suit ; or if you wear anything at all… it’s Great!!!

Rovinj, Croatia

Well we made it to Rovinj! Left Plitvice lakes on a cold rainy day and drove through parts of Croatia most people don’t see. Many abandoned towns and homes again some looked like they had been destroyed. Definitely researching when I get home. The closer we got to the coast the more beautiful the mountains became.

Once we arrived, we parked our car in a parking lot and called our hotel. A guy came to meet us and drive us into the old town. It was a once in a lifetime experience!! You know all the little roads you see in Italy or Rome? Well imagine driving down them , weaving around people and tables for restaurants. He pulls up to a little ally way and says “we are here”. People laughed when they saw all our luggage come out and we went into a hotel from the 1500s

Our room in the top floor is right out of the history books, just look at the pictures to see why and we get to our breakfast area by underground tunnel. So cool!!

The pictures speak for themselves regarding the town. It reminds me so much of Cinque Terre where I went with my daughter in Italy. Cobblestone streets and quaint alleyways everywhere. Some of these pictures looking down on the town were taken from the bell tower at the church. Breathtaking views!!

After great food and sunset, we were treated to live music. Five men with beautiful voices sang songs in a language I had never heard and it was magical!! Again, just can’t make this stuff up

Tomorrow we take a short ferry out to the red island for some small hiking and hopefully swimming

Plitvice Lakes day two

Today we were on a mission; to see all the Plitvice Lakes had to offer!! Rising at 6:00 sharp, we were at the gate ready to go by 7:30.

For anyone who has not gone, it’s like Disney, but with water. You have to come ready with a plan. Otherwise, you find yourself double backing and let’s just say dealing with a shit load of people. Navigating through the people reminded me of driving in Italy. No one stays in their lane, they assume you will make room for them, and there’s all kinds of crazy passing and stopping on all sides. To top it off, in order to look natural, they made the boardwalk out of real would planks. Sounds great, right? Well I put a picture in just to show you. They are spaced out, uneven at times, slippery because of the constant water being sprayed, and stairs everywhere that you can’t see because they blend in! So put the two together, tourists walking like Italian drivers who are taking pictures on a crazy ass boardwalk🤣😖All the whole you are hoping one of them are not going to push you in the water as you pass them on a plank about 4ft wide

Despite all that, it was amazing and worth it!! Walking for over 3 hours surrounded by turquoise and emerald green waterfalls and lakes was definitely memorable. I will say the way to do this is how we did it. Go the day before after 4pm when tickets are half price and the place is empty!!! Use that time to see the lower falls around enterance 1 . Then go back the next day first thing and leave by 2! If you start at enterance 1, you immediately head to the tran and take it all the way up to the 3rd area and walk back. You can at one point hop on a ferry if your tired. We walked and it was great

We saw everything, avoiding all the crowds!! Went crazy taking pictures of the flowers… so beautiful here and some little wildlife. The picture of Brant is not showing him praying before lunch but trying to take a short nap. I think I’m wearing him out 😉

Heading back to the restaurant we ate at last night , Licka Kuca, great live music every night and the food was amazing !! The restaurant is a traditional Croatian theme with delicious food and music that sets the tone. Right next to parking lot enterance 1 and walking distance from Hotel Milan

Tomorrow we head to the coast to Rovinj!!