The Metolias.

Most times, I don’t plan where I’m going to go until the day or so before, doing a fairly quick search on my favorite site OutdoorProject.com or Hipcamp.com to see what sites are available in certain geographic areas where I am near. This week, my end goal was to end up in Sisters, OR, where I had a blind date with a pilot from my company who lived there, and then jump off 20 miles to Bend after. On the drive down from Portland, I encountered nothing but stormy skies, engulfing my path with a whiteout of clouds and rain. I had picked out a specific campground on the Metolias river, which I planned to spend one night, but I was getting nervous that the rain would deter my perfect riverside picnic. As luck would have it, ten miles out from the turnoff, the sky peeled open with clear blue skies. I followed the directions and drove to the very end of the long dirt road past several other campsite turnouts. I thought for sure that this site would be empty, as it seemed a hidden treasure being so far out. Lo and behold, every site was full—save one—but it was right on top of the neighbor site to the right. I did a loop to see if there was anything else, but there was nothing. I pulled in, got out of the car, and took a stretch and a breath while taking in the majestic flowing river which was roaring with gusto right before me. I noticed a man to my right casually fidgeting with his fishing pole, so I walked up to him and coyly apologized for encroaching on his space. He gave me a warm smile, brushed off the supposed invasion, and welcomed me with kind eyes. Moments later, he motioned to his trailer where a beautiful woman emerged, and introduced me to his wife Cathy. From that moment on, the three of us were kind of inseparable. Chris watched in fascination as I popped out my little red riding hood, and within minutes, I was cozily and discreetly perched aside them. A few hours later, Chris and Cathy commandeered a raging campfire and invited me to join them. We corked several bottles of red wine and shared dozens of stories of our collective wanderlust adventures. I learned they were rounding out a four month cross-Canada/America road trip, and that the very next day would be their 39th wedding anniversary.

I wanted to something special for these new friends of mine, so I searched my Mini for anything that could resemble a present or an artistic gesture for such an event. Luckily, I found a drawing pad and colored in a sketch of Venice, Italy which, to me, embodies romance and adventure—the epitome of these two kindred souls I had just met. I left it on their picnic bench first thing in the morning, had a coffee, and then wandered up the river’s edge on a 10 mile hike along the river which I soon learned would steal my heart. Cathy had described the color of the azure waters as they passed under the foot bride, but I had no idea how true her words would be. The colors of the foliage along the banks were breath taking, and the feeling of the water’s rush I could feel in my veins. About three miles in, I was rudely awakened from my splendor my a sharp burning pinch on my butt! At first, I thought I was bit by a poisonous spider, doomed to loose a cheek, but then saw the yellowjackets spiraling up from the ground and knew I had been a victim of their folly. For the next seven miles, I was grabbing my ass and rubbing it with furvor! As I returned to the campsite, I saw C&C gathering their fly fishing gear together, and they came up to me to give me a hug for the gift I left them. “Do you want to come learn how to fly fish today?” Chris asked. Wish giddy glee glee glee I beamed an astounding “YES!!!”—and thus commenced the first day of the rest of my life as a fly fisher… I. Was. Hooked.

My friends Chris and Cathy captured my first hours as a fly fisher :)

ONP & Mt. Rainier—D20

Once I had my LRRH (Little Red Riding Hood), I knew I could go for more extended periods of time camping. For my next week off from the jets, I chose to explore the Olympic National Park in Washington. I was starting out from Tacoma, so my route took me from the south up to the west coast, rounding the north, and then jetting out back east. I only had one place picked out: Hoh Rainforest. From my brief research, it looked magical and drippy with character. The Hoh did not disappoint—I visualized and found the perfect camping spot on the corner of a lush road with a fallen tree, two dogs across the road, and a white van next door (ask me about my visualizations later… they’ve been extraordinarily profound lately!) Anyways… as you can see below, it was like magical fairies gifted Heaven down to me and smiled. I spent a joy-filled evening just sitting by my campfire and watching the world not rush by, then the next day I hiked five miles through the forest, passing waterfalls, rushing rivers, and serene hikers who had spent the night sleeping next to them.

Continuing up the coast, I didn’t have much of a plan, but looked at my map and saw—Beach #1, #2 and #3. There were short hiking trails attached to them, so I decided that this would fill my day, and I would end at Mora Campground just a crick away from the water. I think my jaw literally dropped open when the hiking path opened up and I saw the view of beach #2. Giant mounds of earth and trees reached out of the shallow waters against fallen remains of their ancestors lying on top of each other on the sandy shores. The tide was low, so people were actually able to walk all the way out to one of the monoliths (I did not because I was not in the mood to go barefoot and have my feet freeze off.) This was my first experience with a beach in the PNW—and I knew right then that I need more. A lot more! I proceeded to hike to beach #3. As I walked, I imagined a man at the end who would chat with me and share some great information… lo and behold, I met him. He told me about a great site he’d just left in Rainier Nat’l Park. “Do you remember the site you were at?” I asked. “Why, yeah I do! It was D20! It’s truly breathtaking, the best site in the whole campground, right on the edge of the cliff overlooking Mt. Rainier.” Right then & there, I knew how I would end this road trip. D20—Here I come!

I read there were hot springs nearby, so that was the plan for the next day. I found the very last spot at Sol Duc campground that night and shared my wine with a woman who pulled up next to me in just a pick up. She was hiking and soaking all day, ate a bite of a sandwich, and set up her camping mat in the back of her truck. I invited her for a glass, and we ended up chatting for over an hour by the campfire. The next morning, I gave her my (now spare) air mattress and wished her a happier sleep for the remainder of her journey. Then off to the soaking pools I went. It was two hours of blissy hot pools mixed with quick dips into the frigid cold waters. After feeling quite noodly, I showered and decided to head to the next mystery spot. On the way out, I got into conversation with a lovely woman named Spring who lived nearby. She told me of Diamond Lake, and a great little secret spot where I could go and take my chair and wine and get away from the masses and twirl my toes in the water. She also invited me to stop by her home and say hello and, heck, stay the night if I wanted with her and her husband. I memorized the directions to her house, and bid her adieu. I did end up driving by the next day, but I got shy and decided to just wave and continue on, appreciating the openness and warmth that she offered me. I also wanted to find this secret spot at the lake as soon as possible! On the way to the lodge, however, there was a big accident, and the only road was backed up for miles, so I took a detour to explore the edges of the north end of the lake, maybe have a picnic. That’s when I came across my own private Idaho—or, in this case, a dock. Nobody else around, just me and the breeze coming off the lake, the water lapping up on the shore, one beer, and a sandwich. Perfect. The traffic cleared and I made my way to the lodge—following Spring’s directions, I actually found the secret beach, twirled my toes in the cool sand, and sipped my glass of chilled pinot gris.

Time for D20. The whole way out to Rainier, I envisioned pulling up to D20 and seeing it free, setting up camp and reveling in the views that my #3 beach guy had described. I saw myself saying hi to my neighbor, him inviting me to share some wine and a campfire, and us having a stellar evening together. (I’m telling you, people, this stuff is pow-er-ful!) That is exactly what ended up happening. Well, not exactly… D20 was occupied, so I took D19. But guess who was in D20? Yup. The guy who invited me for wine. The next day when he left, he passed on his campsite to me, so I spent day 2 in the exact spot the beach #3 guy had told me about, sipping my coffee at the edge of the canyon where the white river flowed through, staring up at the glacial mountain above which adorned a white cloud cap at its peak. The stars were out full force, and I even saw a shooting one… so bright, it made me gasp.

The ONP held up this year’s tradition of each place being my favorite—each one bringing just as much happy happy joy joy as the last, but with different characters, shifting scenery, and wild surprises.

Below, some of the images that can’t even come close to sharing some of the magic with you…

The incredible lush & beautiful Hoh rainforest campground.

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Hike to Beach #3, where I met the man who told me to go find D20.

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Below: My “hike” 5 miles out to sea to the New Dungeness lighthouse & a hidden treasure private Shelly-dock on Diamond Lake!

Mt. Rainier and the stunning Whitewater campground.

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Finding Bend

Annette had been asking me to visit for years. I had this sneaky suspicion that once I did, I’d never want to leave. Turns out, I was right. By day two, I knew I had found my new home.

I’ll admit, Annette laid on the Bend-charm thick! She has every toy known to woman—paddle boards, bikes, camper, kayaks, snowboards, 4X4 roller skates, the list goes on and on. Day one, four of us girls took a ski boat up to Billy Chinook lake and wake-boarded all afternoon, then filled up the ‘fatties’ and swapped out to wake surf. That evening, we biked around town, crossing the magical Deschuttes river where the river surfers were out playing, and ended at an outdoor concert venue to watch Brandy Carlisle sing her soul out. Day two, we hiked to the peak of Tumalo, where one is rewarded with 360 views of the valleys and other peaks beyond—most notably, Sisters and Broken Top. Afterwards, we threw the SUPs in the car and drove past handfuls of crystal lakes until we arrived at Hosmer Lake. The dogs both hopped on Annette’s board, as they’ve done hundreds of times before, and we roamed along the path that weaved like a river through the tall grasses that rose from the shallow waters. The image here is from a spot where we stopped along the shore to share cans of vino and gawk at the pristine landscape around us. While I was paddling down the ‘river’—snow speckled mountain straight in front of me, sunshine on my shoulders, dogs on SUPs behind me—the feeling enveloped me like no other: THIS was home. I knew it as sure as shit (as my Dad would say). I’ve been on cloud 9 ever since, envisioning my magical unicorn world (as I call it) and all of the adventures, love, and awe that await.

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SF to PDX or Bust!

So, I think it’s about time to start adding in casual, unprocessed photos to this year’s TDM pages! I want this blog to not only be an artistic capture of the year to share in a pretty, professional way, but also serve as a photo-journal of antics that I can look back on later and remember all the details and in between moments. With that, this next post is actually supposed to chronologically be before the previous one. But, alas, here it is in all it’s raw glory.

Originally, I had anticipated hitting up Denver & the Colorado cities for the fall. Then when I realized that my dear friends Bridget and Randy were getting married in Portland on August 10th, I changed courses and decided to drive from SF to PDX, and then from there explore the Pac North West. (Sorry Denver, I know you were anticipating my arrival with bated breath) Life has such a beautiful way of swinging us around to our destiny when we need direction.

My dearest ginger, Justin said he would join me on the road trip up the state. We stopped half way in a town I don’t remember, but the Airbnb was UhMazing and we found the quaintest little restaurant on the river by accident where we soaked in every moment of being alive and on an adventure together. Once we reached Portland, we met up with our old best roommate ever, Amy, and brunched and shopped like the best of ‘em! The wedding was one of the best I have ever attended—full of pure love, joy, and dancing! (Oh! The dancing!!) What a wonderful induction to the state that I would soon call home…

Beware. After a night of incredible fun, you could end up with a supersized bloody mary in your hand, a useless paper straw, and a hairstyle by Woody Woodpecker!