Stella’s First (mini) Road Trip – Mount Rainier

Although we live in West Seattle, I would still consider Mount Rainier a road trip when it involves an infant. In the last week of our Seattle stay, before “moving” across the pond to Korea, my mom, dad, Stella and I drove down to Mount Rainier National Park.  We decided to do the scenic loop of the park, entering at the northeast corner on 410, passing by the Reflection Lakes, visiting Paradise (yep, it’s a place!), and exiting at the southwest corner before heading back home.  When it was all said and done, we were gone for 8 hours and drove about 225 miles.  Stella was an absolute trooper and had her first diaper changed in the trunk.  (We have since perfected that technique)…. [Read More]

The Southwest’s Best – Upper Antelope Slot Canyon and Zion National Park

Upper Antelope Canyon

We spent our last weekend before “the great move north” (AKA Seattle, the final leg of this tortuous PCS) on the Northern Arizona/Southern Utah border.  We planned to go to Page, Arizona to tour the Upper Antelope Slot Canyon, probably the most famous slot canyon in the world, but decided to tack on Zion National Park when we heard it would be in the 70s.  Most of the time the peaks of Zion are covered in snow/ice in the winter and hiking is iffy at best, but not with global climate change.  People were hiking shirtless!  (Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this when the east coast is currently buried under feet of snow.)… [Read More]

Devil’s Bridge Day Hike – Sedona

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A couple weeks ago, Bobby and I wanted to get out of town for the day, so we headed just up the road to Sedona.  We’ve made this north-bound trek several times in the past few months, and we always see these beautiful balloons flying over the valley.  They certainly chose a gorgeous morning to take a ride…. [Read More]

Montenegro & Bosnia

View from the Old Bridge

Once again, I’m behind with my blogging, so I’m going to try and play catch-up.  After our coastal trip in Croatia, we continued south through Montenegro and then back north through Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Neither Bobby or I had never visited these countries before and we were pleasantly surprised.  Both were lush with vegetation and somewhat uninhabited, which can be a nice change from some of the more heavily populated regions in Europe.  We found the people to be extremely friendly (except for one rather awkward border incident), so overall, I would say it was an amazing trip.

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Our 2nd Italian Anniversary

First night on the water

I know I’m a little late, but September 6th marked our 2nd Italian anniversary.  This means we have passed well over the halfway point of Bobby’s Olmsted experience.  Wow!  I’d like to highlight some of our favorite travel spots we were fortunate enough to see this year (see our first year favorites here). First though, we’d like to reiterate to the Olmsted Foundation how incredibly grateful we are for this amazing opportunity.  We never thought we’d get travel like this as a couple, nor have the chance to learn a second language while experiencing the culture first-hand.  We can’t express our gratitude enough – thank you, thank you, thank you!… [Read More]

Lysefjord Hiking – Lysebotn, Norway

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For the second half of our journey in the fjords of Norway, we spent our time in Lysebotn.  A small town that sits at the mouth of the Lysefjord, Lysebotn is surrounded by 3,000+ foot cliffs.  In some parts of the fjord, the water is as deep as the mountains are high.  That is crazy.  I’m guessing it may be a little too cold to swim?  Of course, with its mountains comes some spectacular hiking.  Two of the three most famous hikes in Norway – Kjeragbolten and Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) – are situated in the areas surrounding Lysefjord.  (The third popular route, Trolltunga, is near Odda, Norway, which we already completed.) We dared to climb the Kjerag Mountain and stand on the Kjeragbolten, a boulder that is wedged between two cliffs.  Unfortunately for us, there wasn’t a good route to get from Lysebotn to hike Pulpit Rock (it would have taken us over 3 hours of driving each way), so we’ll have to settle for two out of the “big three.”  … [Read More]

Hardangerfjord Hiking – Odda, Norway

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Near the Hardangerfjord area, on the western coast of Norway, there are some drop-dead gorgeous, awe-inspiring, can-we-stay-here-for-ever views.  People come from all around the world to see the fjords and partake in many of the outdoor activities that the region offers: hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, and even base-jumping.  For the first part of our fjord experience, we decided to stay in the small town of Odda, which sits at the mouth of one of the fingers of the Hardangerfjord.  Odda serves as a great base if you want to hike one of the most famous routes in all of Norway, the 22 km (some say it’s more like 25 km) route to Trolltunga.  You can also make your way up to the Buer glacier from Odda.  Because visiting the fjords of Norway is a once in a lifetime opportunity (according to us), we decided it was necessary to do both treks…. [Read More]

Corno Grande – The Highest Point in the Apennines

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We wanted to beat the heat for a few days, so we headed to the Italian highlands.  We knew we wanted to do a little hiking in the Abruzzo region, but we did not have a set plan.  After consulting with the owner of our hotel, he suggested we climb Gran Sasso, the highest point of the Italian mainland outside of the Alps.  Intrigued, we did a little internet research and found out that Gran Sasso, located about 30 miles northeast of L’Aquila, Italy, is actually made up of three peaks – Corno Grande, Corno Piccolo, and Pizzo Intermesoli.  … [Read More]

Trekking in Chianti

These would have come in handy in some of the muddy spots...if only they were in my size!

In the last several months, I have been searching high and low for winery maps of the Chianti Classico region.  I finally found the perfect ones online, created by wine enthusiast Alessandro Masnaghetti.  After contacting Mr. Masnaghetti himself, as well as his English and American distributors, I finally found the regional maps I wanted to purchase – Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, and Panzano in Chianti.  Although all of these are major wine towns in the Chianti region, I was a little embarrassed that we were buying these maps and we’d never actually been there to see the cities or taste their wines.  This weekend, we decided to change that!  We found Gaiole in Chianti’s tourist office online and they provided some wonderful information about hiking in the region, so we set off to take in the sites.  Unfortunately, 11 miles and some 5 hours later, our legs were exhausted and we were too tired to go wine tasting.  The Chianti trekking experience wasn’t difficult, but it was long and hot.  Really hot.  Nevertheless, we’ve tested the waters and will definitely return…. [Read More]

Exploring Slovenia: Bled & Vintgar Gorge

Mountain reflections

For months, our friends and fellow Olmsted-ers have been telling us that we MUST go to Lake Bled.  Located in the Julian Alps about 30 minutes north of Ljubljana, the lake is stunning.  Bobby has been trying to convince me to move back or at least have a house in Europe when he retires for awhile now.  I hadn’t considered the idea seriously until I saw Lake Bled.  Spontaneously, I told him two or three times that I could live there; it’s that pretty. It is known for its island in the middle of the water that holds a beautiful church as well as a large cliff-side castle watching over the lake.  The town of Bled was a popular vacation spot for Yugoslavian rulers in the 1920s (when the area was still a part of Yugoslavian territory) and continues to be a popular Eastern European year-round tourist destination.  Our day at Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge (about 15 minutes away from the lake side) proved to be a wonderful autumn day!

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