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Grifford Pinchot National Forest

This is among the most beautiful places to explore nature in Washington. Filled with gorgeous mountains, inactive volcanoes and luscious forests. This place is worth a long camping trip in the summer, or even the long drive to see some of it’s wonders in a day trip. The hikes and waterfalls in this area are endless because of all the mountains in the area.

Here are some of this forests best sites.

Mount Saint Helens Area

This inactive volcano is famous for it’s incredible destruction in 1980, you can see incredible views of this volcano and the effects of it’s eruption and learn more about it. It’s pretty amazing.

Ape Caves

The ape caves are truly unique, make sure to bring a flash light and warm clothing, because it is pitch dark! It’s quiet the adventure to work you way through this two and half mile lava tube, the longest continuous cave in the U. S!

Lava Canyon

This is a round trip, five mile hike, so not too bad. It leads to some spectacular views and Lava Falls.

Windy Ridge Viewpoint

This is the easiest viewpoint to see Mount St. Helens, it’s a stunning view where you can also see Spirit Lake. There is also a hike along Windy Ridge called Loowit trail, a 28 mile round-trip hike that has gorgeous waterfall along the way. Make sure to research required permits for hikes such as this in the area.

Mt. Adams Area

This area is particularly known for climbing Mt. Adams, it is a a 10 mile, round trip hike with a 4500 ft elevation gain, and leads to some amazing views!

Waterfalls

With the Columbia River Gorge being on the opposite site of this area, it has no shortage of gorgeous waterfalls, some of my favorite in the state are in this area!

Lower Lewis Falls

I believe this to be the most beautiful waterfall in Washington, it flows so perfectly and is wide, and it is easy to get to the bottom of the falls for amazing views and a swim 🙂 The long drive is beautiful and it is a short quarter mile hike that allows every viewpoint.

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Panther Creek Falls

This waterfall is simply magical, it trickles down a long wall of rock and you can even explore the river before it falls as well. There is access to the bottom of the falls as well.

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Spirit Falls

This waterfall is a gem, bright blue with a tremendous fall. It’s a little hike, about a mile and can be quiet muddy. All the more of an amazing nature experience!

Falls Creek Falls

There are plenty of views during the 4 mile round trip hike to this waterfall, including a suspension bridge and a partial hike along the river.

This forest is one of Washington’s best, so if you’re looking for a place to explore within the state, you can get the best of both world’s in this green forest between three mountains.

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Exploring The Columbia River Gorge

I’ve drove through this amazing gorge in the past and gazed upon it’s beauty but never really stopped and explored the area, so that’s exactly what we did last weekend and it’s one of my favorite locations in both Washington and Oregon, as it is located on both sides.

We made our way to the Columbia River Gorge from the Oregon side, which has more of the popular views and waterfalls. I recommend taking the Historic Highway, just the drive is gorgeous and you will find many waterfalls along the way that I cannot find the names to, as they are a little smaller, but it is a must do. If you have an R. V, it may not be quiet safe for you to drive it though.

The first official stop we made was Latourell Falls, one of my favorite Oregon waterfalls, you can get right up to where the water meets. It’s so powerful you can feel the spray without being too close, this thing is massive!

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We saw a trail that led further down that I definitely recommend taking, the entire area is gorgeous.

There are many other stops along the Historic Highway, Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon, was unfortunately blocked off during the season, so we couldn’t get any good shots, but it is still quiet the view. When on the Washington side of the Gorge, you can still see this massive waterfall on the other side of the Columbia River.

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We didn’t get photos of Bridal Veil Falls or Horsetail Falls because that part of the Historic Highway was closed when we were there, but we will be sure to be back to these natural wonders.

When driving along the Gorge, make sure to look onto the Washington side of the river to see an enormous waterfall going down into the river, I’m not sure of the name of this but it is absolutely breathtaking.

As I said before, you will run into waterfalls along this highway every few minutes and each one is worth stopping to see, some even without names. For a full list of the popular waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, click here.

We crossed over the Bridge Of The Gods, which links the Oregon portion of the Gorge to Washington and is a two dollar toll bridge that is pretty awesome.

Once we got onto the Washington side, we found a local secret waterfall that took us on a National Forest Development road all the way up a mountain where it began to snow! By the time we left this area, we had about two feet of snow!

The waterfall we saw was Panther Creek Falls and it was amazing, it was a short hike downhill with an overlook, it also has a little rock climb down to the lower level. It has a rope to help you down and I definitely recommend it.

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Afterwards, we started heading towards our Airbnb towards Washougal and stopped at Cape Horn, right off the highway and it is STUNNING! You can see the entire Gorge and even spot the waterfalls on the Oregon side.

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In Washougal, we stayed at a Treehouse we found on Airbnb, and it was perfect for our lifestyle! I definitely recommend Airbnb for travelers, it allows you to meet new people and discover new creative homes and places.

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Washougal Treehouse. Click here to sign up for Airbnb and get $40 off your first stay.

We are going to be heading back to this area soon, the summer would be more ideal for this area so we wont run into snow again. But after doing some research, we realized that there is an incredible amount of hidden waterfalls on the Washington side of the Gorge that we must see! We already have a wish list.

We used the book, Curious Gorge, to help us find all these waterfalls and it was extremely helpful and will be our guide for our next adventure here.

If you’d like to check this book out, click here.

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Traveling Washington 101 North (Temperate Rainforests, Ruby Beach and Cape Flattery)

Though I’ve lived at the bottom of the Washington coast all my life, last weekend was the first time I drove all the way up 101 North. We’ve just about traveled all of the 101 highway now, and Washington’s coast is not much short of Oregon’s.

We took advantage of good winter weather and traveled from South Bend, WA, up 101 all the way to the most northwestern tip of the United States, Cape Flattery. Of course we stopped at some destinations along the way, and all of them were amazing, where the temperate rainforests of Washington meet with the coastal waves.

Our first stop was Quinault, a beautiful area full of nature trails from a quarter mile long, to full backpacking trips. The largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world lives in this lush forest, as well as many other large trees and some coastal redwoods. There are plenty of waterfalls, some you can hike to and some right off of the road.

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We stayed in the Quinault lodge, though in the summer there are so many beautiful camping spots next to the Lake Quinault. This lodge is gorgeous and relaxing though, with access to trails and the lake right outside. It has a nice restaurant, pool, game room and an overall nice environment.

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The next morning we woke up and started heading further north, our next stop being Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, some of the coastal gems of Washington.

Kalaloch Beach has a famous tree called the Tree of Life or Big Tree Cave. You can see the entire root system from the beach, it grows in the air and the ends connect to the ground, above the beach.

Ruby Beach has lots of giant coastal rocks, easily accessible from the sand. One has a natural arch, others have holes through them, it is quite the site. You can spot some star fish, sea urchins and other marine life as well.

This beach is called Ruby Beach because you can find ruby clusters within the rocks if you look hard enough!

 

After this pit stop, we headed up North towards Port Angeles, I recommend stopping at Lake Crescent along the way, as it is beautiful and has a hike to a waterfall that is lovely. We stayed in Port Angeles for the night and headed west to the northwestern tip of the U. S, Cape Flattery. This is about two hours from Port Angeles and well worth it.

Located on an Indian Reservation, it is a well-kept trail with handmade walking sticks for anyone in need. The trail is wooden and an absolute gorgeous two-mile hike, round-trip. There are several viewpoints along this trail, and every one is worth seeing. You can see coastal rock caves where the ocean meets, many coastal rocks and an island not too far from the edge of the cape with a lighthouse.

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The northwestern tip is nothing short of magical, and every step to get there makes the adventure even more beautiful.

 

 

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Cape Kiwanda – Pacific City, Oregon

Cape Kiwanda is my favorite cape on the Oregon coast, and that says a lot because Oregon is full of beautiful coastal lines.

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The best thing about the Oregon coast is it’s Oregon Beach Bill, which allows you to wander anywhere your heart desires on the beaches, as the beaches belong to the people and are protected from being owned or industrialized. So many signs can say to not go beyond this point or something, but it’s more of a warning.

Cape Kiwanda is located in Pacific City, a small, simple and beautiful town that I love so much! The beach is a very public beach and not hard to find, it also has Pelican Brewing (which has great beer) right on the beach, which is a perfect place with outdoor seating to enjoy the view of haystack rock and the sunset.

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There’s also a good amount of waves to surf, which many people do here. If your entering the beach, you’ll see a huge sandhill to the right, climb this and you will be on top of Cape Kiwanda.

Once you get on top of this sand hill, there is so much to space to wander, and so many views to see, make sure not to miss a single one and to experience it as best you can, ignoring the warning signs!

Also, make sure to take the scenic view to get to Pacific City, which allows you to see two other capes before Cape Kiwanda, it’s called the three capes scenic drive. You’ll take a right about 20 miles before Pacific City to take this route, there will only be one sign, so much sure to keep a look out for it.

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Map location and directions here

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Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake is an absolute must-see location in the Pacific Northwest and one of my favorites! When I first saw Crater Lake with my own eyes, I could only describe it as heaven on Earth. This could have very well been because of the timing of which I was there, which I recommend to anyone wanting to visit there. I was in Crater Lake in July, early in the morning, with a blue sky and clouds within it. The water was incredibly still and the water was a beautiful reflection of the snow of the crater and the sky above it, so perfectly that it was difficult to tell where the water began and the sky started.

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Crater Lake was once a volcano, called Mount Mazama. This volcano’s eruption was so enormous, that it caused the volcano to collapse into itself, leaving a giant crater, almost 2,000 feet deep. This crater filled with water through rainfall and melted snow, making it insanely clean and therefore a gorgeous, bright blue.

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There are many different areas to view the crater and there is one area that you can actually get into the water, this place is called Cleetwood Cove and is about a 20 foot cliff. This jump is a must do! Seeing the snow-covered crater from the crystal clear water is like pure magic and the water isn’t as cold as you would expect. You have to hike about a mile downhill to reach this area, the hike down is wonderful and the hike up can be a little difficult, but well worth it.

The main area of Crater Lake has a lot of information to learn everything about the area, as well as buy souvenirs and some fancy food, which wasn’t as expensive as I expected, with the view that we had.

It is, till this day, the most beautiful place I have ever seen, if you are anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, this is a place that you must see, and I recommend it in the early morning in good weather, and to stay throughout the day.

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Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor – Brookings, OR

Brookings, Oregon is one of my favorite locations in the PNW, for simple reasons such as the beauty and the both Oregon and California coastal feel. Brookings is on the beautiful southern Oregon coast, just thirty minutes from The Redwood Forest in California.

The main attraction here is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, which is several stops right before you enter into the city off of the famous highway 101. It is a total of 12 miles along the Oregon coast trail and all views can be accessed through simply walking the trail. If you have planned this out beforehand, this would be a gorgeous hike.

These stops are full of incredible views of natural arches and bright blue ocean waters. Some of my favorites are the Natural Bridges, where you can hike on top of the arched rocks themselves, Arch Rock Point, Spruce Island Viewpoints and Cape Forrelo Loop. There is a total of ten hikes and viewpoints. If your doing any of these trails from right off the freeway, the hikes are short, magnificent and not difficult at all.

 

See it on Google Maps here.

 

 

 

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Fort Stevens – Warrenton, OR

The Oregon coast contains so much beauty, all the way from north to south. The interesting thing about the beach of Fort Stevens in Warrenton, OR is that it contains history that stands strong in it’s place.

Fort Stevens is in the small city of Warrenton, between the lovely Seaside and Astoria, OR near the state of Washington. The main attraction of this area is it’s beach, where the iron skeleton of Peter Iredale ship still remains. This outline of history is so close to the beach that you can climb upon it when the waves go back into the ocean that gives you a beautiful site of the Pacific Ocean in a whole new way.

Though this is the main attraction, there are many batteries to be seen in Fort Stevens as well, this place is really full of gorgeous history.

 

Find the location here.

 

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Let Us Celebrate The Lives Of The Dead

This October has been such a beautiful one, I’m realizing that it’s one of my favorite months. It carries on the sunshine from the end of summer and still, the color of autumn within the trees.

Halloween continues to be one of my favorite holidays, maybe it’s because during a period of time as a child I was unable to celebrate it because it was “the devil’s holiday.”

I always found the traditions fun, but these traditions go a lot further back than modern day. The day/night of Halloween is known to be the day that releases the barrier between the dead and our world as the world begins to be darker, colder and bounty begins to die, only to begin again.

Originally, people dressed up to convince the dead that they were dead as well, so that they would not be bothered. People also decorated their houses as so and baked sweet goods as a peace offering to the dead to draw them away from their homes.

It is so interesting that this tradition remains nearly the same without the knowledge of it’s meaning.

None of this is necessarily the scary holiday it has turned to be. Halloween is known as a day of celebration to the people who have passed on and the lives that they had; many celebrate it as Samhain, as it was celebrated back in the Celtic age. This wiccan holiday is celebrated on the same day, but as a way to honor the dead in a beautiful way and also to recognize the original day marked as the end of summer and begin the darker days to restart nature’s cycle once more.

Many Pagans and Wiccan’s participate in rituals to honor the dead, if you’d like to participate in any, here are some examples.

The recognition of death is a very important stage within nature and our lives. I believe the more we recognize it, the less grief we would have for people who pass, but instead celebrate the lives that they had. That is what I see within Halloween… but it’s still fun to hand out candy and dress up as something, other than ourselves, under the moonlight.

I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween!

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Cape Disappointment, WA

The Washington coast goes a bit unnoticed when put next to the beautiful Oregon and California coast. This coast is unique in so many ways and gives an entirely new moody feel of the ocean. The Washington coast contains lots of rain, wind and fog but it is also what makes it so different and a must-see experience.

Cape Disappointment State Park is located in Ilwaco, WA, very close to Astoria, OR and has many wonders to see within the area full of beautiful temperate rainforests.

When you first enter into the park, each side of the road are covered in greenery, there are a few lookout spots that tell the history of the area, like Beardman’s Hollow. There are many wooden bridges throughout the park as well that work well for photography!

This cape contains two lighthouses, the first you will see is the North Head Lighthouse, which is only a quarter mile, easy hike. Of course it tells you to not go close to edge of the cape, but many people had already crossed the fence so I found no harm in doing the same. The view is gorgeous and you can walk far out onto the grass-covered cape to see the Pacific Ocean.

The next lighthouse is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, this trail is a half mile and a bit more difficult. There are many hills, but it is a very pretty hike with access to beaches along the way.

Along the way you’ll run into Dead Man’s Cove, one of my favorite views of the coast, especially when the lighting is just right. You have to walk down to the beach if you want the best view, but no matter how you see Dead Man’s Cove, it is a spectacular view.

Once you get to the lighthouse, the view overlooks all of Ilwaco and Astoria, you can see the Astoria bridge and all the boats coming in from the ocean into the bay area. The view is perfect for some photographs.

Within the Cape Disappointment State Park you will also have the chance to see Fort Canby and many of it’s batteries as well as the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

 

Find the Location here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smaller Spaces, Bigger Love

I guess you could say that living in a small home can really challenge a relationship. There’s not much room for any personal space or personal time, nor much space to hide your living habits. To some people, these circumstances can seem intimidating, we considered it a new opportunity for growth.

At first I thought such a little space of living wouldn’t require too much cleaning, but three animals along with all our belongings has required us to come together with creative ways to keep things tidy.

Every obstacle is a new challenge for us to solve together, how to keep certain things away so Forrest wont chew them up, places to put the cat food so Forrest wont eat it, making sure the animals have plenty of fresh air while were gone, how to hide things that we don’t want to see, like garbage, recycling, laundry.

We still find ourselves getting rid of things we don’t need and our ability to condense is a lot stronger than before. We both share a dedication to our living and to make sure that we are happy in it.

Our views have changed about personal space and personal time, we hardly have any personal belongings, we share everything together. This lifestyle, this home and our relationship has become our greatest commitment.

There is an entirely new feeling that comes along with living with someone in a small space, you feel incredibly close at all times, everything feels so much more intimate and you begin to be even more involved in one another’s thoughts and lives. This a feeling I will never give up.

Smaller spaces has not created bigger arguments, it has allowed us to grow even closer. Before we left on this journey, I can say that any arguments were truly due to the impatience and dissatisfaction with how we were living, and I think that many couples feel this.

We had a different set of priorities, like money, rent, bills, work with an endless cycle of not going out and doing what really made us happy and never speaking about what really mattered to us.

But I have never been happier than I have, being set free in these smaller spaces and making our big dreams happen together. I realize that a new lifestyle has made me continue to see the man of my dreams while we speak of genuine conversations and see the beauty of the world together.