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Highways, Byways and Staring Up At Giants

Avenue of the Giants // Northern California

I've been taking the solo trip from the Sacramento Valley to visit my family in Crescent City, California for nearly 15 years. Many times, the journey looked a lot like cruise control, I-5 (to 199 to 197 to get back to the northern-most portion of California) and The White Stripes turned all the way up:

"Something better than nothing
Something better than nothing, it's giving up
We all need to do something
Try to keep the truth from showing up"

Avenue of t  he Giants // Northern California
Avenue of t  he Giants // Northern California

Other times, it looked like jetting up I-5 to Highway 20 through the quirky towns spotting the edges of Clear Lake. Eventually, I would hit Highway 101 just north of Ukiah and I would cruise quickly along the winding highway, barely pausing to appreciate the surrounding beauty. Fiona Apple's vibrato reminding me of earlier (and moodier) days:

"And all my armour
Falling down
In a pile at my feet
And my winter giving
Way to warm
As I'm singing him to sleep"

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway // Northern California
Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway   // Northern California

Lately, however, I've been taking things a little slower. I've been stopping at towns I used to pass by on my way to the destination, getting lost in an area I used to call home and taking back roads and scenic routes that require a bit more time and a greater sense of wonder. I've been turning down the music and rolling down the windows. I've been pulling onto the shoulder turn-outs and staring up at giants.

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway   // Northern California

On my most recent trip up north (a quick stop-over on my Seattle/Portland CYOP Road Trip), I decided to add a little extra time to my already long trip to take some scenic routes. If you're ever in the area, please do yourself a favor and take the exits for the Avenue of The Giants and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. It will take you longer to get wherever it is that you're heading, but go slow anyway.

Stop and get out of your car. 

Worry less about the destination.

And keep heading north.

There's more to California (and to the journey) than you might think.



California Redwoods + Steinbeck + Happy Links


{"The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a visionthat stays with you always." // John Steinbeck}

Happy Links:

  • I love this list of ways to "get local" while traveling. Anything you would add?
  • Patti Murphy and her sister Kat are launching a collaborative art show and they're accepting submissions from all over the world. I'm thinking about submitting something. Anyone else creating a fun, inspiring banner to submit?
  • Do you all follow the Flickr blog? They call for contributions to a themed collection every week. This last week the theme was "London Calling" and now I want to go. Like, now.

Wrap it Up:

  • I shared a little north coast goodness (including a little glimpse of California's magnificent redwoods) on Monday. More to come, I promise!
  • Mighty Girl Maggie Mason and her life list got me all inspired and I finally posted my Mighty {fine} Life List on Wednesday. I hope you'll share links to your lists as well.


Have a lovely weekend, all!



North Coast Road Trip: Taking the Time

I'm back this week after another trip to visit family in Crescent City, California. You may remember a few photo-heavy posts (here, here and here) about the lovely little town in which I used to live.This time around I decided to mix work and play by taking the time to really appreciate the already long drive. I stopped often to capture fun places to explore along Highway 101 (which I hope to share eventually), had to take a detour along a road I've never traveled and spent some much-needed time with family.


If you're heading from the Sacramento area to the north coast, I recommend taking I-5 to Highway 20 to Highway 101. That was my plan, but was turned back due to an accident that closed Highway 20. The nice Caltrans worker suggested I take CA 175 to get to Highway 101 instead. The road is pretty dicey in places and goes up (then down) a very steep grade, but the views made the detour totally worth the extra effort:


Taking the time to stop at some of the beautiful areas along the way was also well worth it. I'm sad to say that I usually just cruise on by, too preoccupied with getting to where I'm going. I hope to stop more often in the future. Here's why:


I spent some time tooling around Crescent City visiting tourist sites I haven't paid much attention to in years past. Here's a view of Battery Point Lighthouse from Crescent City's harbor (mermaid included):


On the driest day (it seems we only get one or two whenever we visit), we decided to head to the nearest trail head in the Redwood National and State Park system to spend a few hours appreciating both old growth...


...and new growth:


Beautiful, right?


I look forward to sharing more about the places I know and love in the coming months. So many Californians haven't experienced much of the north coast and I'm hoping to inspire at least a few people to keep on trucking once they get through wine country. I promise it's worth the drive.

What about you? Any north coast adventures you'd care to share? Let's chat about them in the comment section, shall we?


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A Very NorCal Holiday

I hope you all had (or are still having) a wonderful holiday season surrounded loved ones. This is such a festive time of year and I can't help but feel grateful and full of love. For the holiday, we visited family in Crescent City, had a chance to see some old friends, ate and drank waaaaay too much (p.s. I'm totally making this soup to bring on the veggies) and enjoyed our time on the road. We're feeling pretty fulfilled at the moment and we still have a few family gatherings to attend!Here's a little photo snippet from our trip:


{If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen a few of these. In case you're wondering after reading this post, I've decided to keep using the app for two reasons: 1.) the founders appear to have listened to their users (at least for now) and 2.) Instagram really does have the most user-friendly platform and the best filters (at least for now). :) }

The past week has been filled with good times and the peace and quiet I had been looking for. I hope to take a few more days off from this blog and return to bring you fun, helpful and engaging content in 2013.


Happy Friday, all!

Looking for recommendations for a trip to Northern California? There's an app for that! I've collected all of my favorite places to explore the great outdoors in Northern California into one app, which you can download from iTunes right here.

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Northern California for Nature Lovers: The App!

When Everplaces reached out to me earlier this year to propose a partnership that would combine their amazing app development and design skills with my recently discovered wanderlust and (apparently) app-worthy content creation skills, I was elated. Naturally, I said yes without much hesitation.Who could say no to such a venture? Not this girl.

So...I traveled, explored my favorite spots, spent time researching a few new-to-me places, wrote reviews, researched a bit more, edited many, many photos and dug into my archives for favorite spots that I know and love, but couldn't visit this year.

After all was said and done, I was presented with this:


Say it with me now: "ooooooh.....aaaahhhhh."

The app is aptly named Northern California for Nature Lovers and you can download it for the low, low price of $0.99 right here.

As you've probably guessed by now, the app is currently only available for Apple products. I'm hoping it'll be available on other platforms in the near future. If you're searching the App Store on your phone, just type in "California Nature Everplaces," and you'll get a screen that looks a little like this:


{I'm still not over having a 'curated by' line, by the way. Not sure I ever will get over it.}

So, there you have it. I've created my very first travel app with some of the coolest, nicest people I've ever had a chance to meet over the internet. If you want to read up on Everplaces, you can see a few previous posts here and here. You can also check out the Everplaces app here. Obviously, I highly recommend it.

Finally, I'd like to give a little shout out to my friends and family who have been incredibly supportive as I try new things and say yes to opportunities such as this. You. all. rock.


Happy Wednesday, all!