Monthly Archives: August 2019

Coast to Coast Adventure, days 44-53

My husband Rob and I have quit our jobs and are moving from Dayton, OH to Medford, OR with our two dogs Moose and Schuyler. Before we settle there, we are embarking on a 2.5 month adventure across the US. I’ll be working as a hospitalist when we get to Oregon in September.

This last section has been in one of our favorites- Utah. Utah is probably my favorite overall state. It has so many amazing parks. There is ample world class skiing. Even the areas that aren’t designated public lands or parks are beautiful. I could do without all the Mormons, as they do influence state policies, but thankfully in the modern age their significance in Utah seems to be dwindling.

We spent our time at a nice house we rented through VRBO just off highway 89 and 14. 45 minutes to Bryce and an hour to Zion, the perfect location!! Because we travel with our dogs, a lot of research goes into where we stay and how close it is to dog friendly hikes. We try everyday to either do one long hike that takes most of the day with the dogs, or do a morning hike with them and then go to a national park in the afternoon.

There are two gems for hiking with dogs both within 30 minutes drive from our house. The first is the Virgin River Rim Trail. It is a 30 mile long trail, but the best section is from mile 6.5 to 11.5, and we hiked this as two separate day hikes from the Cascade Falls trailhead. The views from the rim are amazing!!!! It is a bit of a workout to get up to the rim, it had me huffing wind, but once up there it meanders at elevation flat along the rim. A perfect hike with our babies.

The other amazing area for hiking with our dogs is at Red Canyon. Most people drive right through this on their way to Bryce or only stop for pictures on the side of the road. It isn’t a huge park, but there are miles of amazing trails. It was August so we had to go early in the day to make sure it didn’t get too hot. Plenty of water needed- for all these hikes, no water sources in most trails in Utah. Definitely hit this area up and don’t just drive through it!

We had plenty of afternoon, evening time to hit up Bryce and Zion. At Bryce, we hiked down into the canyon near sunset. We were totally alone down there. It was silent. It was mystical and beautiful and special.

We did two hikes in Zion, one up to the canyon overlook and one in the canyon up to the Watchman. It was hot as balls! 100 degrees both days when we set out. We passed so many people without water, what idiots. Bring water people!!!! The bonus of hiking in the hot late afternoon early evening is that it’s always less crowded. We are always able to find many moments of quiet and solitude. That is soooo important to me. It’s why I won’t do hikes like Angels Landing- I do not want my experience with nature to be crowded, loud, and regulated. I want to be able to hear the silence and appreciate the sights without a gaggle of people around me. This is possible even in the most crowded parks, it just requires a little extra effort and planning.

Next we were off to Moab. I love Moab so much. We’ve been here 5 times in as many years. It is a little oasis. So much beauty to be found. The desert, canyons, red rocks, mountains, Moab has it all. Now it was August, and it was over 100 degrees everyday. To get around this, the first day we went up to the La Sal Mountains and hiked up to the top of one. The temp was max 75 degrees up there. It was a tough hike, up and up and up, but well worth the 360 degree views. There was also beautiful aspens and wildflowers everywhere!

We didn’t go up to our favorite park, Deadhorse State Park, this time. We elected to do some dawn hikes to arches in the canyon instead and then went into Arches in the evening. I love scrambling and climbing on slickrock. It’s so fun and makes me feel like a kid again.

The end of this trip is rapidly approaching. It makes me really sad. I often wonder if I would be better off in life if I never went to college and med school. Would I be happy living in a van, traveling the country with my dogs? I think I would be. In my reality though, I love being a doctor, and I have to continue being one- there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans to pay off after all.

Coast to Coast Adventure, days 29-43

My husband Rob and I have quit our jobs and are moving from Dayton, OH to Medford, OR with our two dogs Moose and Schuyler. Before we settle there, we are embarking on a 2.5 month adventure across the US. I’ll be working as a hospitalist when we get to Oregon in September.

California. We spent three days driving from Montana to the California Coast. We stopped in the middle of Washington state first- a bleak part of the country that looks like any of the states of the Great Plains of the Midwest. We made a pit stop in the lovely little town of Hood River for lunch from a charming bistro. It was nearly 100 degrees that afternoon, so we settled for a short stroll in town. From there our first stop on the coast, Florence Oregon. A charming old downtown area made this town stand out, and we spent an hour walking around and then picking up dinner. This was our first time anywhere on the coast in Oregon, and the dunes there were insane! They are huge, they go on for miles. There were a lot of ATV areas there, but we elected to stay far away from that.

We kept on driving down the coast, stopping at an Oregon state park- Cape Arago. This place was truly spectacular. It was like something out of Lord of the Rings. The rainforest comes right up to the shore. Like nothing we’ve ever seen. We spent a couple hours on trails on the coast, and really fell in love. This was also our first time seeing sea lions!

We really enjoyed watching these guys bark and roll around and slip into the sea. From here we drove to our next vrbo rental in Crescent City, California. We had a beautiful drive along the coast and stopped at a beach where we had the whole thing to ourselves. A lovely little treasure.

Our house was nice, just one house down from the Ocean. There was a great beach by the house where we watched sunsets and walked in the morning.

We spent a few days exploring the coastline. We wound up in a little beach town called Trinidad, and found the trails and scenery to be spectacular! You hiked up on the coastline and cliffs, then down to pristine coves, and then through rainforest. Truly an ecological treasure.

Unfortunately Crescent City itself and the areas around were not good. It was like we went back in time to the 80s. Run down, terrible restaurants, nothing cultural of note (Except racist restaurants with Indian statues out front). We went on one trail to the beach that was covered in disgusting horse shit everywhere. The saving grace was the beach itself. Seemingly untouched by man, without any other people for miles and miles. We spent a long time on the beach, watching a sea lion swim and bald eagles fly overhead. It was a spot where you just felt like could exist 100 years ago, when we hadn’t come in and ruined the environment yet.

Lastly, the main reason we came to this section was to see the redwoods. We drove through the parks and took a short hike (since dogs are banned ours stayed in the car, the weather was cold). The trees were incredible. They just make you understand what an ant must feel like in the world. Hopefully we humans don’t destroy them, and they live for many more years.

From here we drove to Tahoe City. Lake Tahoe is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. The fact that you have the lake, many other alpine lakes, the mountains for hiking and skiing all right there- one of a kind. With that being said, I’d never been there in the summer. The traffic and tourists were awful!!! We had to change our plans quite a few times to try to avoid the people and get the solitude we desired.we were able to do a few good hikes, but we will definitely need to come back when it is not so crowded.

From Tahoe, we drove just a few hours to Mammoth Lakes. I have been waiting my whole life to see the high Sierras, and this area did not disappoint! The only downside is, we are still not in good enough shape to do a lot of the harder trails up into the remote mountains. So we had to settle for those in our wheelhouse closer to town. We WILL be back here again and do a backpacking trip!!!

We hiked to many spectacular alpine lakes. It was hard to choose a favorite. The only downside is that due to the high snowpack year, the bugs were awful!!! There was still snow on a few of the trails we did as well. We also stumbled unexpectedly into what has now become my favorite hike we’ve ever done. We went into the hike without expectations of how it would be. The hike is at saddlebag lake and twenty lakes basin. Well. What we found was incredible. Mountain views everywhere. Snow still on the trail, requiring kicking steps and route finding. So many beautiful lakes, everywhere.

I think I loved this hike even more because I wasn’t expecting it. The first lake you see is saddlebag, which is perfectly fine and scenic, but once you get into the lake basin, it is spectacular. It was a dream. We will definitely hike this again, I will remember it forever.

The other hikes we did we to some crystal clear lakes around Mammoth. I continued to swim in them, and it is now somewhat of an addiction I think! They are sooooo cold, but it is exhilarating!!!

Mammoth was a lovely town. We will definitely be back here.

Our new home in Oregon will be within a days drive of all these wonders. I cannot wait to come back. Thanks, California.

Coast to Coast Adventure, Days 19-28

My husband Rob and I have quit our jobs and are moving from Dayton, OH to Medford, OR with our two dogs Moose and Schuyler. Before we settle there, we are embarking on a 2.5 month adventure across the US. I’ll be working as a hospitalist when we get to Oregon in September.

Whooooo… a lot went on this last week or so. We’ve been in Montana the entire time, and I have to say that the wilderness of Montana is continuing to be my favorite place. We barely even scratched the surface, and I plan on coming back again and again. The Beartooths and Red Lodge continue to have my heart. When we were looking for a new place to live, I explored all options in Montana, but unfortunately couldn’t find the type of job I was looking for. My new job in Medford is still at a tertiary care hospital, that’s fairly big, especially for being in a smaller town- so I think it will be the best of both worlds: good job, good location.

Back to our time in Montana.

The next day we drove to my FAVORITE, The Beaten Path. I had aspirations of backpacking this trail for a night or two, but I’ve got to get over my fear of sleeping in the wild first. So we will put a pin in that, but I am GOING to hike this whole trail one day.

For now, we settled on the easiest, but still ridiculously scenic hike to Elk Lake. It’s 7 miles roundtrip, but for Montana it truly is an easy hike, with only a couple steep areas. Otherwise a nice, winding grade takes you through the valley to the lake. The sound of the water rushing through the canyon and cascades really adds to the whole ambiance.

We shared our time at the lake with a nice guy from Pennsylvania. I wish I had captured the beauty of the lake and the area itself better, but being in a valley on a cloudless, hot day, the light just wasn’t conducive to it. In a way I think that’s better, that the real thing is so much more magical and enchanting than the pictures– it truly has to be experienced firsthand to appreciate it.

The worst part of this hike is East Rosebud Lake. All the shore of the lake is privately owned. The people who own the houses are all huge dicks. They are the definition of white privilege. Nearly all of them had the houses handed down to them, and they feel they own the right to dictate who can enjoy the lake. We have never had a pleasant experience with any of the people there.

Our last day in Red Lodge we drove back up the pass. We were plagued with hordes of mosquitos and biting flies in the lake area at the other side of the pass, so our hike was pretty short. The ground everywhere was so soggy from the huge snowpack, it was just a breeding ground for every bug imaginable. Yuck.

We left the Absaroka area and headed upwards towards Glacier. We stayed at a rustic little cabin for a couple nights in the Flathead National Forest area. The hike we did while there was easily one of my favorites. Ten miles, and two gorgeous alpine lakes. I CANNOT get over these lakes in Montana. They are SOOOO clear. Alpine Lakes are my new favorite part of hiking out west, for sure!

This is an area we’d definitely like to come back to. As well as the “Bob,” or Bob Marshall Wilderness. Montana truly has the most wild land left in the lower 48, and we have so much more we want to explore. Wouldn’t it be cool to be the type of person who gets dropped off in the wilderness by helicopter and then makes their own way out? Yeah, it would!

We went to the Jewel Basin area next. This is a great area for hiking and camping only. We were again, unfortunately besieged by bugs. They were so bad we barely took any pictures. The trail we took was the wrong one, it was a loop that didn’t go to any lakes or peaks. It was a lot of work and effort for not much payoff. I would love to go hike that basin again, but for the time being we had to move on.

Up around East Glacier for a few days, we took one day to hike by ourselves in the park. The dogs did NOT take kindly to this and were wailing and clawing at the door of our tiny house by the time we got back. We did an awesome 12 mile loop hike of Two Medicine Lake, with an offshoot to Upper Two Medicine Lake. The upper lake was spectacular. Another turquoise, clear lake. We hoped that by hiking around the lake (instead of being boring tourists and taking a ferry) that we would see some wildlife- moose or brown bears. We did not. Not a one! Real bummer.

We felt very proud of ourselves after this hike. It’s the longest single hike we’ve done. It was moderate in difficulty, and we got it done. Being that I am so overweight right now, it made the accomplishment that much sweeter. I am feeling stronger everyday!

We spent the next couple days and nights around the Glacier area. We drove the famous Going to the Sun road, but were not blown away. Soon after we were there a young girl was killed by falling rock in the road. What a sad thing. Her poor family.

The Beartooth Highway has spoiled us for life, it’s just so much more scenic. Once again I was reminded why I hate the national parks, as we encountered loads of awful tourists. We hiked everyday in the Great Bear Wilderness or National Forest, with the dogs. On one particularly hot hike (it’s been 90 degrees here every afternoon), I decided I was going to swim.

For years we have been going on hiking trips, and I have always wanted to swim in one of the beautiful alpine lakes that we hike to.

Yet I’d never done it.

I was too scared of people seeing me, being offended by my fat, pale body, thinking I was gross or weird. Worried that my actions might somehow worsen their day or make them uncomfortable.

That ended today.

It was so hot out as we started hiking, and the trail was awful and steep and bugs were everywhere. When we got to the lake, I knew it was finally time.

I stripped off my top and pants and dove into the icy cold water.

It felt amazing.

It felt like rebirth.

It felt like it was about fucking time.

It was such a freeing and amazing experience, I can’t wait to do it again. Now if only I can convince Rob to swim next time…

Our last hike was 11 miles down a dirt forest road. It is in fact an “off road” drive, and we saw a bunch of jeeps and buggies who were there just for the drive. At the end of the road is a trailhead up to some lakes and up to a peak. We opted to just go to the lakes, which was hard enough in and of itself!

On our way out of Kalispell, we stopped for a closer look at the Flathead Lake. It is so clear! It’s like Lake Tahoe in that way, and so gorgeous. We also saw a little baby bear on the riverside. It was unfortunately, the only wildlife we saw in Montana. No grizzlies. Just another reason to come back again!

We are headed for California now. In a couple days we will hit the coast and have driven across the entire US! We are now as we speak in Washington! We drove though Idaho today as well, which makes 2 new states for Rob and I . Let’s see what adventures Cali has in store for us!

%d bloggers like this: