Articles tagged with: travel

Beautiful Beaches on the Oregon Coast

Beach Vacation Destinations

Beaches are a wonderful place to take a vacation! There’s the sunshine, sand, spectacular scenery, and soothing sounds of the ocean. We found all of those on the Oregon coast, along with some fascinating sights to visit.

For our last beach vacation, we visited Oahu, spending a day at famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be a lot less people at the Oregon Coast beaches, although they hold some distinct advantages over Waikiki. To give you a feel for what Oregon beaches are like, I provided some specific description of each, to help you decide on your next vacation destination.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii

  1. The water is warm.
  2. The weather is pretty consistently hot and sunny.
  3. The beach consists of a narrow strip of sand with lots of people crowded together, so you won’t need to walk far.
  4. Views include skyscrapers and shopping across the street.
  5. Hawaii is a long, expensive flight from just about anywhere.
Beach along the Oregon Coast

Uncrowded Beach Along the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast Beaches

  1. The water is refreshing. Okay, the water is damn cold, but this results in less competition for that big wave. From what I saw, you could get out your board and have lots of big waves to yourself.
  2. There is a wonderful variety of weather, including mysterious fog, blasting wind, invigorating rain, and frequent sun, at least in summer. The cooler Oregon Coast temperatures provide the opportunity to make much better use of your wardrobe.
  3. There are miles and miles of enormous white sand beaches with an occasional person visible off in the distance (well, maybe a few people). If you like space, solitude and walking, this is a good thing, however if you prefer plopping down on a beach and people watching, Waikiki has better opportunities.
  4. Instead of skyscrapers and stores, views include spectacular rock formations, picturesque lighthouses, and crashing waves. If you’re looking for a Mai Tai or a Gucci bag, Waikiki definitely has the convenience advantage. On the other hand, if you like nature, Oregon is stunning.
  5. I don’t know where you live, but the Oregon Coast is only a five-hour drive from my house.

Our Oregon Coast Vacation

Lounging on a beach and actually relaxing is not the kind of vacations that we do. Our vacations are goal-oriented, so we made our way down the coast and crammed in as many sights as we could see in six days. After a long drive down I-5 from Bellingham, we reached Fort Stevens State Park, near the northern end of the Oregon Coast Highway (US Route 101), which we would follow down the coast.

We had just enough time to set up camp and have dinner before our first beach walk. By we, I mean my wife Mary, daughter Heather, dog Riva, and of course myself. At the beach, we climbed a row of soft, white sand dunes and found an enormous expanse of flat beach extending along the coast for miles. Protruding from the sand sat the rusted remains of the Peter Iredale, a 285 foot sailboat that ran aground in 1906.

The next morning, we visited the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria and learned that the area is known as “graveyard of the Pacific,” with at least 2000 large ships that have sunk in and around the Columbia Bar. A variety of conditions come together to make it such a hazard. The currents of the Columbia River, the largest North American River to feed into the Pacific, meet the ocean waves in the area of a shifting sand bar. These features can cause enormous waves to pile up here. The area also has roughly 200 days of fog per year, some of that wonderful variety of weather I mentioned above.

Naturally, these rugged conditions make an ideal training ground for the US Coast Guard’s Cape Disappointment school for rough weather and surf rescue. They venture out with small boats (47 foot motor lifeboats) into huge waves to develop skills which will help them rescue boaters elsewhere.

The Lightship Columbia

The Lightship Columbia

We also toured the Lightship Columbia, a 128 vessel that served as a floating lighthouse for 28 years, marking the entrance to the Columbia River. It has since been replaced by a 42 foot high buoy. A crew of 18 manned the ship, with much of their time spent in boredom, occasionally broken up by terrifying storms.

The Astoria area holds yet more history. Fort Clatsop, just outside of town, is where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent a long, wet winter before making their way back east. We toured the fort and listened to a buckskin clad ranger describe life at the fort in 1805.

Bull elk in Ecola State Park, Oregon

Bull elk in Ecola State Park, Oregon

Short on time, we skipped the Astoria Column, a tower with panoramic views overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River. Instead, we made our way down the coast to Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach. What a beautiful place! A blue hole opened up in the clouds, right over Crescent Beach, providing a highly desired photo opportunity. On the way down to the beach, we passed through a small herd of elk, grazing on tall grass. The bull watched us closely, making Mary very nervous, but he left us alone. That evening we camped at Nehalem State Park and walked across dunes to another enormous sand beach.

Curt, Mary & Riva on Cannon Beach, Oregon

Curt, Mary & Riva on Cannon Beach, Oregon

Our action-packed day hadn’t left enough time for a close look at Cannon Beach and its sea stacks including the famous Haystack Rock. We backtracked to a lovely scene with sunshine burning off the morning fog, as waves crashed into the 235 foot high rock formation. By midday, we reached the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where you can sample a variety of free cheeses or buy a 28-scoop ice cream dish, one of each flavor. Three scoops seemed like plenty. Along with enormous beaches, the Oregon Coast has picturesque lighthouses. We visited two that afternoon, Cape Lookout and Cape Meares. At Cape Lookout, we even lounged on the beach for a few hours, like people tend to do on beach vacations.

In honor of my wife’s 50th birthday, we splurged, checking into a hotel and venturing out to find an appropriate seafood restaurant for her birthday. We tried the hotel restaurant, but Mary concluded it looked too “Denny’s like” for her birthday. Next, we tried Pirate’s Cove, a quaint waterfront restaurant, ten miles up the coast. It looked ideal, but upon arrival, we learned that they rely on propane for cooking, and their propane had just run out. Next, we tried a seafood bar/restaurant halfway back to Tillamook. This one leaned more towards oysters, rather than the crab legs that Mary really wanted. An internet search ruled out a few more restaurants that were too expensive, too cheap, closed too early or otherwise weren’t suitable. We finally ended up at Pacific Restaurant, back in Tillamook. Dinner was good, as it probably would have been at any of the other restaurants too.

Cape Perpetua at Sunset, Oregon

Cape Perpetua at Sunset, Oregon

After the hotel’s free breakfast, we started back down the coast, visiting more beaches, another lighthouse, and we arrived at Cape Perpetua in time to grab one of the last campsites. My campsite of choice sat down in the woods, with a stream running through it. Sure, there were a few bugs, not much sun, but a good deal of privacy. My wife and daughter overruled me and chose an open campsite along the road, with a lot more sun. As soon as we got our gear hauled down, we realized that the adjoining campers were extremely close, just on the other side of a narrow row of bushes. Their party included the whiniest three year-old I’ve ever heard, complaining to mom about everything. I just had to laugh! Even my daughter Heather joined in, probably irritating his parents. I’m sure they could hear us too. That evening we hiked to a 500 year old Sitka Spruce and watched a spectacular sunset over the Pacific.

Heceta Head Lighthouse, the last one of our trip, was the prettiest of all, perched on a rocky point with a beautiful beach and bridge immediately to the north. From there, we continued to Florence for lunch and shopping.

Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon

Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon

On our final evening, we camped at Jesse Honeymoon State Park, which adjoins the Oregon Dunes, the largest expanse of dunes in North America. They reach heights up to 500 feet and extend for 40 miles to the south. As sunset approached, I climbed up into the dunes, wandering, meditating, and shooting pictures. It seemed more as if I was in a vast desert, rather than on the Oregon Coast.  Wind blasted through the dunes, and the tops were in a constant state of motion with sand gradually filling my tracks.

Oregon Dunes at Jesse Honeymoon State Park, Oregon

Oregon Dunes at Jesse Honeymoon State Park, Oregon

Your Next Trip

It was here, meditating in the dunes, that the contrast between the Oregon Coast and Waikiki occurred to me. If you appreciate the wonders of nature, enormous sand beaches and spectacular scenery, consider a trip to the Oregon Coast. On the other hand, if sunburn, crowds, and designer shopping are your thing, Waikiki may be a better bet.

Quick National Park Trip

Glacier

National Parks: Glacier, Yellowstone & Roosevelt

by Curt Remington

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Fantastic! I got recruited for an impromtu road trip to three national parks: Glacier, Yellowstone and Theodore Roosevelt. Along with that, I would see 3800 miles of our glorious country, visit my mother in Minnesota, move our daughter to Washington, and do it all in five days.  Truth is, it was a trip to pick up my daughter, but I decided to squeeze in the national parks too. My schedule didn’t leave much times for the parks, so I planned to hit a few highlights in each, all at a whirlwind pace.

I set out from Bellingham, Washington on August 27th, taking a scenic route through the North Cascades.  I could have just stayed on the freeway, but what’s a few more miles? I sure didn’t want to miss any potentially stunning pictures. In the Cascades, I saw some beautiful rivers, mountains and waterfalls, but the lighting just was just too overcast for great pictures. Once over the Cascades, I made a brief stop in Leavenworth, Washington, a scenic tourist town that looks like a Bavarian village. I filled up on bratwurst, visited a few quaint shops and moved on towards the Columbia River and eastern Washington.


Glacier Park

After dark that night, I made it to a campground in Glacier National Park and crawled into a sleeping bag in the back seat of my Toyota Tundra. The next morning, I was up before dawn, hoping to catch sunrise over Lake McDonald. As I brushed my teeth, I debated on whether to throw the camping fee into the box. All I had really done was park in a spot for a few hours, not really what you’d call camping. I’d pretty much decided I’d pay, just so my conscience wouldn’t trouble . I arrived back at my truck to find the campground host filling out a registration in the dark. Wow, they sure get up early. I gave him the money and set out to get some pictures of Glacier.

sunsetDriving through Glacier brought back memories for me of many earlier trips. Just out of high school, I had decided to spend a year as a mountain man. My plan was to get a PO box in West Glacier and camp in the mountains south of the park. After about a month alone in the mountains, I decided that civilization in Minnesota wasn’t really so bad. Years later, my wife and I brought our kids to Glacier for a week of rafting, hiking and sightseeing. It was one of the best vacations we ever had.

With these memories going through my mind, I arrived at Lakerivertwo McDonald at sunrise. Like the day before in Washington, the scenery was beautiful but a bit cloudy. This is a definite problem when you only have one day in a park. I shot a whole bunch of pictures anyway, so I’d have something to discard later. Go figure.

Making my way deeper into the park, I stopped at a few trails and falls, hitting the trails at a run with camera gear flopping at my side. Back in the truck, I started climbing Going to the Sun Road, which was carved into the side of the mountains in 1933. The road is always narrow and winding, but road construction made it incredibly so. I folded in the large mirrors and reflected on memories of another earlier trip. Shortly before my mountain man experiment, my dad lent my friends and I his Winnebago, so I could do some scouting. Looking at the cliffs which overhang the road, and the shear drops, it was obvious why motorhomes are no longer allowed. Sure enough, I managed to bang the Winnebago into a cliff, moving over for an oncoming car. I don’t think my dad even mentioned the dent. What could he expect from a bunch of 18 year olds?

horsesAlthough it was August, Logan’s Pass had three inches of new snow and a horrendous wind chill. Hidden Lake, and the trail to it, was still beautiful, so I sat on a rock overlooking the lake and meditated for 15 minutes. A great alternative to Hidden Lake, is to hike north from Logan’s Pass to Granite Park Chalet, a rustic and remote lodge surrounded by alpine meadows, jagged mountains and grizzly bears. That all day hike was too much for this trip. Next, my quick tour took me to Saint Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake and into East Glacier. Just east of the park, I came across some very rugged looking free-ranging horses with lots of scars. I’m sure there were some fascinating stories behind all those wounds.

Once I left Glacier behind, all I had to do for the rest of the day was drive across what remained of Montana. For those of you that haven’t done this, Montana is one seriously large state. Highway 2 has long straight stretches that seem to go on forever, and it is indeed big sky country. I reached Wolf Point, as the sun was setting, and turned south onto Highway 13. Between Wolf Point and Glendive, I lost count at roughly 60 mule deer, including one with the most monstrous set of antlers I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, it was way too dark for pictures. Near the North Dakota border, I pulled into a rest area to get some sleep.


 

Theodore Roosevelt National Parkbigsky

elkBy dawn, I was up again photographing an elk herd, just outside Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Over the years, I had taken I-94 through the park more times than I can remember. A few of those times, I had thought of stopping and visiting the park, but I always thought it looked like a bunch of little, dried-out hills with nothing much worth seeing. Why waste time on my way to Glacier? where they have some real mountains.

Once in the park, I felt a real connection, driving and running among its buttes, plateaus and gulleys. The connection may have been due to a past life I had as an Oglala Sioux Indian, spending much of my time in South Dakota’s black hills. Or, maybe the blissful feeling I felt was because the sun had finally come out. For whatever reason, I sure enjoyed the winding road through the park, stopping for pictures of bison, prairie dogs, antelope, grouse and wild horses. If I’d known there was so much wildlife, I would’ve stopped years earlier.


 

canyonMinnesotagopher

Along with touring the park, I managed to cover North Dakota and half of Minnesota, arriving in St Cloud early enough to get a truck wash and oil change. The next morning, I arrived at my daughter Sarah’s apartment so we could load her stuff into the truck. I was surprised to find that even leaving her furniture behind, her collection of stuff exceeded the carrying capacity of my full-size, extended cab Tundra pickup. We stuffed as much as we could in, while she decided what to leave behind.

Our next stop was the Twin Cities, where we spent a night at my mom’s. I also managed a side trip to visit some old friends. I mean ones that I’ve known a long time. They’re not that old.


Yellowstone

After a good breakfast at mom’s, we set off towards Yellowstone. The drive was a great opportunity to catch up with happenings in Sarah’s life, and to share all the summer’s events in Washington. It was also an opportunity for her to try out her dad’s traveling style, eating and sleeping in the truck along with driving almost constantly. No point in wasting time. Unfortunately, the truck had gotten a little less comfortable now that it was stuffed with so much stuff. I just thought back to my life as a Sioux in the 1800’s and knew that I’d survived much worse. We spent the night sitting upright in a truck stop, listening to semis coming and going. Maybe Sarah will look back someday and think that “if I survived traveling with dad, I can survive yellowstoneanything.” Like my usual routine, we arrived in Yellowstone at sunrise, hoping to get some of the best photography light of the day. At least that’s what I was hoping. Sarah may have been hoping to get some more sleep. Just after crossing into the park, we came across a herd of elk. The stubborn animals wouldn’t move out of the trees and hold still for a picture. Well, I was pretty sure there were plenty more animals in the park. Our first scheduled stop was Lamar Valley, a broad open valley that’s known for its abundance of game. Unfortunately for Sarah, in addition to “scheduled stops,” traveling with me involves lots of unscheduled stops for wildlife, steamscenic overlooks or because the lighting looked just right. She, and the rest of the family, spent a week with in Europe with me in June, while I shot over 1600 pictures, so she probably knew what to expect.

After stopping for antelope, a bison and waterfalls, we made it to thebuffalo Lamar Valley. In order to find game, all you need do is watch for cars lining the road. We pulled in with the rest of them and watched as a distant wolf pack moved in on a bison herd. The wolves were unsuccessful with their hunting, but it was wild to watch. Anyone remember Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom?

Farther up the valley, I got out and ran around a rock formation, looking for a scenic photo angle up the valley. Rounding the corner, I almost ran into an ornery looking bison. As he glared at me, I defensively drew my camera, thinking about the warnings that more people are attacked by bison then by bears in the park. As I took his picture, his only reaction was to stick his tongue out at me, then he went back to standing around. Good thing I found a lazy bison.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was an inspiring sight. The upper and lower falls have flows as high as 60,000 gallons of water per second. The 1200 foot deep canyon is steep and colorful. After the falls, we hiked around Norris Geyser Basin, careful not to step off the boardwalk into steaming water.


waterfallHome

After Sarah’s exciting Yellowstone tour with dad, she was anxious to get to her new home in Washington, a condo near our house. I even offered to pull over in another truck stop for some sleep, but she was sure that driving straight through was a better idea. We got to Bellingham at four in morning, ending the fast-paced scenic national park tour. Sarah is now living happily in Washington and enjoying occasional picture taking outings with her dad.  

Rafting Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Idaho

WalkAboutVisionQuest (1)

Rafting Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Idaho

by Curt Remington

Friday, August 14th, 2009


Rafting Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Idaho

I left the house at 4 am, thrilled to finally go on a multi-day Idaho raft trip, especially one on the Snake River’s Hells Canyon. The canyon is North America’s deepest river gorge, at 7,993 feet, almost 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon. The USFS website says, “the Snake is a big river with power many river users have never experienced.” Yep, the volume of water we’d be rafting through was more than I’d experienced. Before we moved west, five years ago, I’d bought a raft, frame and all the necessary gear to take my family on multi-day raft trips. Since that time, that gear’s sat in a pile in the garage, largely due to my failure at convincing my family that rafting is a good idea.

riverFor that very reason, I’d be alone, while my friend Kerry brought his wife, sister and daughter. I pulled into a campground on the Snake River and waited in the 100 degree heat. They arrived soon, and we shared stories from our recent adventures, like my trip toAlaska and Kerry’s mountain climbing trips. We had become friends years earlier, through whitewater kayaking, and we’d climbed Mt Baker together. Along with catching up, we discussed our next day’s plans for rafting Hells Canyon. Kerry brought a 16 foot Maravia raft and lots of gear, much more than my 13′ Aire Super Puma could hold. Maybe, a bigger raft and more gear, was the secret to convincing my family to go. Then again, it might just make for a bigger pile in the garage.

At the put-in the next morning, inflating and loading the rafts became chaotic, as outfitters competed for space, working to get their flotillas of rafts and gear into the water. The permit system only allows for a few groups to enter the river each day. Unfortunately, they all seem to do so at the same time.

I threw my gear together as quickly as possible, feeling apprehensive about rowing through big, pushy class IV rapids. The rangers at the put in told us some recent, inexperienced rafters had flipped eight times. Two of the hardest rapids, Wild Sheep and Granite, would arrive within the first six miles.

My whitewater experience had been in maneuverable kayaks, or paddling a raft with a number of people. Rowing a raft loaded with gear was a brand new experience. Would my gear stay together, if the raft flipped? Maybe I’d learn fast and keep it upright. Kerry and his family looked up from their gear organizing, so I just smiled, trying to look confident. Once they had their massive pile of gear strapped in place, we set off down the river.

Within a half mile, we reached a class II rapid, and I learned an important lesson. A raft with gear, in a pushy river, does not respond anything like a whitewater kayak. I found myself rowing frantically, while the river still pushed me into the largest waves and holes. New strategy! I would have to pick a line through a rapid that involved very little course correction, once the whitewater started.

rapidsWhen we reached Wild Sheep, one of the class IVs, I learned another technique. The raft crested an eight foot wave, a bit diagonally and started to flip. I jumped out of my seat and threw my weight against the higher raft tube. That one was close!Eventually, I also learned that rowing forward, and proper timing, help keep you upright in large waves. Now that I think of it, that usually worked in rapidstwokayaks too.

Along with powerful rapids, the river’s enormous eddies and whirlpools kept us alert. If you wandered into cliffan eddy, the river pulled the raft upstream, sometimes faster than you could row. By watching the currents, and working with them, the rafts continued in the right direction.

That evening, all that gear the big raft carried made camping downright luxurious. They had real beef and potatoes, cooked at one table and served at another, along with a variety of wines. They even had a selection of appetizers. Lucky for me, my friends are generous. I had brought more of that freeze-dried food that’s been sitting in my closet for years. Kerry’s family is also very friendly, welcoming and are considerate listeners, asking questions about psychic readings, past lives and the spirit world. Conversation stopped as a young eagle circled overhead, then dived at a fish in the river.soaringbird

Overnight, the river level dropped significantly, leaving our rafts high on a gravel bar. For my light raft, that meant lifting together. For the heavily loaded raft, that meant unloading an enormous dry box and cooler, then moving the raft and reloading. Finally, we set out and made our way to the first rapids of the day. While we scouted, a group of bighorn sheep stood, watching us from the cliff above.

The second class IV that day had a group of big holes at the top, on the right side, then more big holes on the left, towards the bottom. I stood on a boulder, trying to find a path that didn’t involve hitting a big, churning hole. I couldn’t find one, so my plan was to hit the hole hard and throw my weight around, hoping the raft kept going. At this point, I mentioned to my spirit guides that help would be appreciated. Once in the rapids, I skirted the top holes, hit some waves, and the next thing I knew, I was in the clear. What happened to the holes at the bottom?  I’m not sure if I somehow missed them, but my theory goes like this: In a big surging river, a hole can be a wave one second, then turn back into a hole the next. It may be that my guides saw to it that they did just that, before I hit them. For whatever reason, I managed to make it through all the rapids, still upright.

bouldersOur next night’s camp had a swimming beach, trees for shade and beautiful views of Suicide Point, a tall cliff across the river. On most rivers, it’s the rapids that have morbid names, like Jaws, Boatbeater, Gore and Slaughterhouse.

With only seven miles, and no major rapids ahead, I left my friends early morning, hoping to make it home at a reasonable hour. Each day, we had only encountered a few other boats, due to the permit and lottery system. As I floated alone, and looked up, the remoteness and rugged beauty of the canyon truly inspired me. The eddies even settled down enough so I could meditate while I drifted.

At the Pittsburg Landing takeout, I felt a great sense of relief in finding my truck waiting, with a third of arafttank of gas. It had been close to full, when I had left it at the put-in, along with a key for the shuttle service. As I drove up the steep, winding gravel road out of the canyon, I realized how they’d used so much gas. The drive to get my truck there had no doubt been a long, steep and winding one.

After seventeen miles, I came to an intersection and realized that I was now in a remote part of Idaho and didn’t have a decent map. My gas gauge kept dropping, and there was no cell phone reception. I should have meditated and asked a guide for directions. Instead, I guessed at the next few turns and wound up miles down another winding backroad, with Highway 95 visible on the hillside above me. Tuning into intuition, I backtracked and my next turn took me to the highway. Soon, I ended up in a town with gas and phone reception. Mary, my wife, gave me directions for back roads halfway across Washington, a much quicker route than heading straight for the freeway. In fact, I made it home in time to unpack and spend a few hours sharing my adventures with her and working to convince her that raft trips are a great idea.
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Hay House Cruise to Alaska

AlaskaHeader

Trip Report: Alaska Cruise with Hay House

by Curt and Mary Remington

Monday, August 3rd, 2009


Alaska Cruise and Port Details

We boarded the ship to Alaska with anticipation, knowing this cruise could be a key turning point in our lives. Hay House (see ad to the right), a major book publisher, reserved the entire 1,380 passenger ship, the MS Amsterdam. Part of this group, myself included, signed up for a writer’s workshop with a contest for a book deal. As you may know from my blogs, I’ve been writing a book on meditation. You may also  know that my wife and I are in regular communication with the spiritual realm. The book idea, Hay House as a publisher, and signing up for this cruise were all ideas strongly encouraged by advanced spirits. They didn’t exactly promise I’d get the book deal out of this cruise, but they did strongly allude to the possibility. That’s close enough to get me excited.CurtFamily

Mary, my wife and a talented clairvoyant, eagerly signed up for another on-board program, featuring eight keynote speakers: Wayne Dyer, Brian Weiss, Sonia Choquette, Gregg Braden, Caroline Myss, Iyanla Vanzant, John Holland and Cheryl Richardson. Mary wrote the last section of this blog, describing her experience.

Heather, one of our teenage daughters, had some mixed feelings about the cruise. She looked forward to fun activities, great food and a chance to shop, while maybe feeling apprehensive about a cruiseship full of psychics and spiritually enlightened people. We all found the fellow passengers to be very warm, friendly, open-minded and quite normal.

ziplineAs an added bonus for all three of us, these seminars were taking place on a Holland America ship that would be cruising past the rugged islands and coasts of British Columbia and Alaska, visiting places like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Hubbard Glacier and Victoria, British Columbia. While boating in Washington’s San Juan Islands, close to home, I’ve often dreamt of continuing north to these places. In fact, I have an earlier manuscript about The Passage. That link will take you to a chapter that was published in a canoe magazine, while Goat Hunt will take you to a chapter about a man facing aging and his mortality.

For the first day, the ship, Holland America’s Amsterdam, made mountainpasssmooth, steady progress through the open Pacific and waves which would’ve tossed my 23′ boat around violently. Along with Hay House programs, the ship offered a whole variety of activities like working out, shopping, gambling and of course eating.

The second morning, the Amsterdam cruised up sunny Gastineau Channel, with views of fishing boats and snow-capped peaks, arriving in Juneau at 11 am. Although it’s the capital of Alaska, Juneau can only be reached by air or sea, unless you have a dog sled and are very adventurous. The downtown cruise dock area is lined with tourist shops and surprising bargains, like an Alaska t-shirt for $4.99 or a small bag of quartz for $2.99. For someone with more expensive tastes, there’s also perfume, watches, electronics, furs and artwork. There are even free items stores give away, just to get you in the door.

We left the shopping behind, as a jet boat brought us across to Douglas Island and a ”rain-forest canopy and zip line adventure.” The thrill comes as you launch yourself off a tree-platform, hanging from a climbing harness and pulleys, then slide “zip” on cables as much as 180 feet above the ground. Approaching the next platform at over 30 mph, you reach up and grab the cable, stopping your zip just before crashing into the tree. The course has ten cable sections, covering 6,000 feet of cable, along with treetop suspension bridges, finishing with a rappel to the ground.

cruiseOnce back in Juneau, we boarded the Mt Roberts Tramway. It departs from the dock area, carrying passengers 1800 feet above downtown, to a visitor’s center. Mt Roberts has a network of hiking trails, with spectacular views of Juneau, Gastineau Channel and the surrounding mountains.

After a few miles of hiking, Heather returned to the ship, tired from the day’s adventures. Mary and I had just enough energy left to drink a cold Alaskan beer at Hangar on the Wharf Pub and Grill, a renovated seaplane hangar. Beyond Mary and the beer, you can see the Amsterdam towering over the red jet boat from our zipline tour. As we made our way back to the ship, three floatplanes descended to the channel and pulled up to the dock in front of the bar.

Day four, the ship made slow progress through fog and small icebergs in Yakutat Bay. Early afternoon, the fog lifted, revealing the jagged peaks of Fairweather Mountains along with Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska. It extends 76 miles from its source, with a ”calving face” stretching for six miles across the bay. The glacier appears very blue, since the ice absorbs other wavelengths of light. At the steepest part of the face, large chunks of ice rumbled, then cracked off, sending up immense plumes of spray.

Sitka is a beautiful town and an important part of Alaskan history. The port was originally settled by Tlingit planenatives. Through negotiations and fighting, control passed between the Tlingits and Russians a few times, with Sitka becoming the Russian capital of Alaska in 1808. The US bought Alaska in 1867 and kept Sitka the capital until 1906.

After taking a tender (lifeboat) to shore, we picked up our reserved mountain bikes. This turned out to be a great way to see a lot, with limited time. We managed a trail to an alpine lake, an eagle center, historic park, Bishop’s mansion tour, lunch and still fit in some downtown shopping. Who needs to rest while on vacation?

Ketchikan is the rainiest city in the US, with 152 inches of “liquid sunshine” a year. Sure enough, it rained. The local weather forecast joke goes, “If you can’t see Deer Mountain, it’s raining. If you can see it, it’s about to rain.” Our original plan to hike up Deer Mountain didn’t make much sense, because if you can’t see Deer Mountain, you probably can’t see much from the mountain either. We settled on a walk around town and exploring the marina. Creek St, an old red-light district, has very quaint shops with some true bargains, like fleece jackets for $20.

boattwoDowntown Victoria, British Columbia is spectacularly scenic and has a long list of things for tourists to do. This city is close enough to home that we’ve visited regularly. The harbor has float planes, yachts and tourist tugs, along with views of the Empress Hotel, Parliament Building and the distant Olympic Mountains. Having seen most other sights, we walked the harbor and visited the Royal Canadian Wax Museum, which you can see just above the old yacht’s stern.

Writer’s Workshop

Between all the adventures and sightseeing, I did manage to attend the on-board writer’s workshop, learning powerful techniques for writing and for improving and marketing my book project, Simple Meditation: Connecting With Spirit and Finding Your Life’s Purpose. As I mentioned earlier, my book proposal will be entered in a contest (winner picked in December) for a deal with Hay House, the publisher highly recommended by my spiritual contacts. Along with the quality of the book, publishers also look at the number of contacts writers have, so please sign up for my new Facebook fan page. You might help ensure the success of my book, get more people meditating, and improve the quality of life on the planet Earth. Thanks!

As you may have noticed, I was so enthused about Hay House that I signed up as an advertiser. Clicking onfloatingbuildings any of the Hay House banners will take you to the appropriate page of their website where you can find enlightening books, cd’s and cards. Buying and reading some might dramatically improve your life.

The night before the cruise, we went to see Wayne Dyer speak in Seattle. My daughter, Heather, was so moved by his talk that she asked if she could listen to all the speakers on the cruise. We signed her up, so she and Mary attended them together. Heather enjoyed and learned a great deal from all eight speakers. Unfortunately, I missed these, so Mary wrote the rest of this blog, describing the talks she attended.


Mary’s Write-Up of Hay House Program

When I look back on this life changing and inspirational experience, it will be remembered with great reverence and gratitude. I am grateful to our spirit guide “Chief” who, without a doubt, was the guiding light that inspired my husband and I to go. I would also like to extend my greatest appreciation to all of the Hay House authors who have inspired me and touched my soul forever. They have devoted their lives to such worthy and healing causes, which is surely having a ripple affect throughout our planet. Although I couldn’t possibly sum up all of the invaluable information I absorbed during the seminars, I would like to share some of my thoughts and say “thank you” to each author.

Wayne Dyer

How can I begin? I would consider him one of the greatest inspirational teachers of this generation. My husband, Curt, has been a big advocate of his for many years, since he read “Your Erroneous Zones.” He has promoted this book to the whole family, from time to time, for various reasons. If you had a problem, it was always “go read Your Erroneous Zones”. He read it as a teen ,at a time when he was searching for answers, and it changed his life. I have

great admiration for Wayne Dyer. From all of the turmoil in his childhood, he found a way to transform his life into something with great meaning and purpose. He had a vision and he followed it and continues to follow it. He truly motivates and inspires everyone he touches.

Caroline Myss

What a smart, tough, no excuses approach to heal your life. She tells it like it is and teaches us to take a hard look at ourselves, stop blaming others and stop trying to find a reason for what’s gone wrong in our lives. She emphasized forgiveness, gratitude and being of service. This was my first con tact with Caroline Myss and will definitely not be my last. I feel that my life’s purpose is in healing and I’m like a sponge for any information about it. Thank you Caroline for your inspiring words.

Brian Weiss

He’s definitely good at what he does. He had the entire audience in a state of hypnosis in a flash with his caaaalm, soooothing voice and description of beautiful, peaceful places. Who wouldn’t want to go there? I’m a strong believer in re-incarnation and know that healing can come from discovering events or trauma in our past lives, that keep us stuck or unhappy in our present lives. Brian Weiss is well respected, and his revolutionary techniques are revered world wide. He’s certainly an advocate of meditation, which I think is a healing and powerful practice that we should all adopt.

Sonia Choquette

Sonia is a gifted psychic with a colorful, creative and energetic personality, and she knows how to have fun! Sonia teaches us how to wake up our spirit and our sixth or psychic sense. We need to listen to our higher self, which has important information that we cannot get from our conscious mind. She also stresses the importance of connecting with the creator, our spirit guides and angels who help guide us on our path. To help us let go of our inhibitions and wake up our spirit, a little dancing didn’t hurt either. Very fun!

Gregg Braden

Gregg’s talk was a mix of science, history and spirituality that was fascinating. It was interesting to learn that we’ve had cycles throughout history and these cycles or patterns repeat themselves. Most importantly, the choices we make as a species, can have a big impact on these cycles. The Mayan predictions about the end of time in 2012 have many people questioning, is it true and, if so, what can we do to change it. Getting in touch with our inner spirit, letting go of fear, helping others and healing the planet are some of the things we can do now. Gregg’s vision of our future left me very encouraged and hopeful

Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla is a vibrant, free spirited, crazy kind of woman and I loved her! Starting with some Hallelujah’s, some movin’ and swayin‘, connecting with ourselves as spirit and having great gratitude for life was a wonderful way to start the day. What a beautiful soul she is. She is a minister of God and seems very devoted to helping us get beyond our past and find our purpose. Again, this was my first experience with Iyanla, and I left feeling truly empowered.

John Holland

John is a gifted psychic medium who connects with the audience in a unique and compassionate way. He is very dedicated to what he does and delivers such healing messages from the spirit world to those that are grieving. It is so wonderful to see the audience reaction, knowing that their loved ones are still around and want to communicate with them. Tears of happiness pour from them and they’re surrounded with comfort and peace. It brought me to tears to watch. I’m finishing my clairvoyant training this fall, and I know how good it feels to be able to help people in this way. The healing goes both ways and it’s very rewarding.

Cheryl Richardson

I really connected with what Cheryl Richardson had to say, because I too, am the general manager of my universe. I am constantly busying myself and doing doing doing for everyone else, leaving what I want for last. Often, this time in the day never comes. Cheryl teaches us to make our own selves a top priority, which is something I don’t often do. My own family recognizes that in me, more than I do. This was a big wake up call for me. I need to get to know me! Wow! What a concept! I’m reading Cheryl’s book “Stand Up For Your Life” and I’ve scheduled a solo vision quest for myself in early August so I can get started getting to know me and my purpose in life. Thanks Cheryl!

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would also like to say a great big thanks to Louise Hay and all of the staff and help that made the Alaska cruise possible. I’ve had a very tough past year with one of my daughters, and this was just what the doctor ordered to nourish my soul. I feel that I can get back on track and move forward again. Thanks to all of you! Mary Remington

Serenity in Stehekin

Stehekin: Destination for Vacation and Relaxation

by Curt Remington

How would you like to visit a place that is truly beautiful, secluded and unique, a place where you can find serenity and really relaxStehekin, Washington is such a place, and it’s affordable too. You can even camp there, if you like. It takes a little work to reach, but getting there is well worth the effort and half the fun. There are no roads to Stehekin, so you have to hike, boat or fly. Fortunately, the boating option includes a couple of passenger ferries that regularly make the trip up Lake Chelan, a 55 mile long fjord-like lake that’s the third deepest in the United States. Its gorge is the deepest in North America, if you measure to the bottom of the lake, 1486 feet below the surface.

Chelan Sunset

Lake Chelan Sunset

So, what is Stehekin? The Native American word means “the way through,” since the Cascade Pass and Stehekin valley served as a trade route for many, many years. Now,Stehekin Landing and the valley are a small, rustic community, with 75+ year-round residents, surrounded by the rugged beauty of Washington’s North Cascades mountains. Stehekin Landing contains a resort with lodge buildings, docks, some picnic areas, a restaurant, some gift shops, a National Park Service visitor center and a small campground.

What to Do

It’s a wonderful place for hikers, climbers and boaters to do their thing, but anyone can come and relish the seclusion of sitting on one of the lodge’s decks, overlooking the lake. From there, you can feel the gentle breezes, smell the Ponderosa pine and watch the activity on the docks. There’s just enough activity to be interesting, but not so much that it actually distracts from your relaxing. To me, meditating is one of the best things to do in the valley.

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

If you decide to leave the deck to explore the area, there are 15 or so miles of roads in the Stehekin Valley, along with countless miles of trails. Nearby trails range from a short nature path behind the visitor center to the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile trail that extends from Mexico to Canada. We met a group of “thru-hikers” that were fascinating but a bit ripe smelling. Upon reaching civilization, a shower would rank high on my priority list, and they are available in Stehekin. Regular phone service is not available, however there is a satellite phone for emergencies.

The National Park Service operates busses that run up and down the valley, or you can rent bikes, providing access to places like the Stehekin Pastry Company, the Stehekin Valley Ranch and many of the trails.

On our recent trip, two of my daughters took the bus to the ranch for a horseback ride, where they spotted a cinnamon-colored black bear.

I rode the same bus with my daughters as far as the Rainbow Loop Trailhead. From there, I set out on a five-mile hike which turned into nine miles, after a side-trip and an extension on the end, to take-in more of the beautiful scenery. One of my stops put me at the top of a cliff with panoramic views up the valley into North Cascades National Park, extending down the valley and all the way to Lake Chelan’s turquoise waters. The extension at the end of my hike brought me to Rainbow Falls, a spectacular 312 foot cascade, and to Harlequin Bridge over the Stehekin River, where I waited for the bus.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

That evening, we had a delicious dinner in the restaurant. Our bus driver stopped in, immediately recognizing my daughters and I. She introduced herself to my wife, saying “Oh, you must be the mom.”

People are very friendly. The last time we visited, the woman running the craft store was also our waitress that night and the teacher during the school year. Even with all those jobs, I’ll bet she still finds time to enjoy the serenity of the area. For those of you that aren’t in Stehekin, you can try this visualization meditation for connecting with the wonderful serenity and energy of the place.

Meditation for Connecting with Stehekin

Find a comfortable chair in a quiet place, and take a seat. It doesn’t have to be in Stehekin. Take a long look at the picture of the Adirondack chair with the view up to the end of Lake Chelan. This chair is for your use and sits alongside a public gazebo near the lodge. As you can see, it overlooks the tranquil waters of the lake, with distant views into North Cascades National Park. Now close your eyes and imagine yourself in that chair. You can feel a slight breeze on your cheek and smell the fresh mountain air with a hint of lake smell. Feel the soothing energy of the lake and the mountains that surround you. Let the earth energy soak in through your feet, while blue energy from the sky runs down through the top of your head. Occasionally, a bird chirps and the pine needles rustle. Imagine these details as clearly as you can, and feel the energy of the place renewing you. When you feel ready, open your eyes and let the Adirondack chair turn back into whatever you’re sitting on.

Holden Village

Holden Village is another secluded, unique and beautiful place. To reach Holden, it’s eight miles “down lake” from Stehekin, then 12 miles up a remote road. Holden is on the border of the Glacier Peaks Wilderness and is deep in the mountains. Since 1960, Holden has been owned and operated by the Lutheran Church and is used as a “center for renewal.” You don’t have to be Lutheran to go there, however I believe they expect you to take part in their programs. Nightly rates are very reasonable and include lodging, food and the programs.

The village is an old mining community (closed in 1957), where $66,500,000 worth of copper, gold and zinc were removed. At one time the remote village had a movie theater, bowling alley and ice cream parlor, in order to keep morale up among the miners.

Reaching Stehekin or Holden Village

Although there are no roads to either location, there are rugged trails through the wilderness from places like Cascade Pass or Rainy Pass. The shorter routes to Stehekin are approximately 18 miles of hiking (one way) plus catching the park service bus. For most of us, this is a multi-day backpacking trip. Of course you can take the Pacific Crest Trail in, starting as far away as the Mexican border.

View of Lake Chelan

View of Lake Chelan

From Chelan, Washington, at the other end of the lake, you can get on a floatplane or one of the ferries, Lady of the Lake II and Lady Express. Round-trip ferry tickets start at $39, much cheaper than a round trip flight to the Seychelles. Of course you need to reach Chelan first, possibly via a flight into Seattle and a scenic drive over the North Cascades. You might even consider the full Cascade Loop. According to National Geographic traveler, it’s “one of America’s grandest, most spectacular drives.” The route includes stops like Leavenworth, Washington’s version of a Bavarian village and Winthrop, fashioned after the American old west.

Whatever route you take, Stehekin is a beautiful, secluded and unique place where you can find some real serenity.

This article was written by Curt Remington

European Family Vacation

A Mediterranean Cruise on NCL’s Gem

by Curt Remington

The summer before last, my wife and I strongly considered touring Europe in a small car with our three almost adult-sized daughters, none of which have mastered packing light. Thank god we had the sense to opt for a cruise, where we could leave our luggage in our cabin, our daughters in another cabin, and avoid driving altogether.

Cathedral of St Eulalia, Barcelona, Spain

Cathedral of St Eulalia, Barcelona, Spain

Our Mediterranean cruise departed from Barcelona, visited Malta, made three stops in Italy, one in France and back to Spain. That was a lot of ground (water) to cover in a week, but we managed to see a lot, have a great deal of fun and still had time to relax, once-in-awhile.

Our excitement started at the Seattle airport, after a long, slow, traffic-filled drive. In a tone of dismay, an anxious airline employee announced that those of us flying to Europe were probably too late to get on the plane. As I stood in line, trying to practice meditation techniques, images kept creeping in of our ship steaming across the Mediteranean without us. We managed to get our bags checked and made a mad dash across the airport, just barely making it on our plane. Our flight did include good food and movies, making that part of the journey quite pleasant.

Barcelona, Spain

After getting our luggage situated onboard the ship, we set off for a self-guided walking tour of Barcelona. First off, I have a confession to make. Although we’d done lots of traveling throughout North America, mostly to mountains and beaches, none of us had been to Europe before. We immediately noticed that things are quite different, in a very cool way. The buildings are older, with intricate architectural details. The cars are smaller and more fuel-efficient. And, most of the people seem to speak a foreign language, Spanish I believe. Go figure.

We wandered down Las Ramblas, a very pedestrian-packed street, and off into narrow brick alleys lined with shops. Passing through Plaza Real, we made our way to The Cathedral of St Eulalia, which was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries. What an incredible church, with many ornate side chapels. On the walk back, we passed a variety of statues ranging from modern pieces to a 197′ tall monument to Christopher Columbus, located where he landed after his first trip to the Americas.

Our day at sea was spent in recovery mode, exploring the ship (NCL’s Gem), eating and sleeping, after a long day or so of traveling. Speaking of days, that was quite confusing. We seemed to have lost one somewhere, crossing all those time zones.

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Carriages in Valletta, Malta

Carriages in Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta is stunning in early morning light, from the deck of a cruise ship. The cliffs lining the water, and most of buildings (dating to the 1500’s), are made of limestone. With a map in hand, we set off for another walking tour. Our stops included the Upper Barrakka Gardens, with panoramic views of Grand Harbour.  St Johns Co-Cathedral, the Palace of the Grandmaster and the palace armory, with an enormous collection of armor and weapons from the days of the knights.

Pompeii, Sorrento & Capri, Italy

Our first day in Italy included an amazing number of sights. We docked in Naples and boarded a bus for Pompeii, where we toured ancient Roman remains that were buried by a volcano in 79 AD.  From there, the bus took us to Sorrento. The ride itself was an incredible experience, forcing me to totally rethink my notion of the proper space between buses, tiny cars, scooters and pedestrians. After getting used to the many close-calls, I took note of the scenery along the Italian coast. It’s spectacular, with cliff-top houses, trees and winding  roads overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

A Boat Enters Marina Grande, Sorrento, Italy

A Boat Enters Marina Grande, Sorrento, Italy

Rocky Shoreline of Capri, Italy

Rocky Shoreline of Capri, Italy

Along with the scenery, I loved the warmth and friendliness of most Italians, and the poetic beauty of their language. The pasta and wine we had for lunch was quite good too. Next, we boarded a hydrofoil which seemed to fly us to the island of Capri. I’m running out of scenic adjectives, so you’ll have to look at the pictures. This is one place I definitely want to return to. From the waterfront harbor, we took a funicalar (cable car up a very steep hill) to the top of the island. If you have lots of money, there is truly glamorous shopping up there. Being more frugal, my wife and I walked to a park overlooking the steep eastern shoreline and the Faraglioni Rocks.

Rome, Italy

For me our guided tour of Rome was a highly anticipated highlight to our trip. During my clairvoyant training, we looked at many past lives, including three of mine in the Roman army, one as a charioteer and a few other lives in Italy as a farmer and a painter. My past life ties to Rome made seeing it very exciting for me.

Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy

DSC_6634Rome did turn out be incredible! Have I used that word yet? Anyway, we visited an ancient underground part of Rome, below the Basilica of San Clemente. I felt like I could almost remember those past lives, making our way through dark passageways. From there, we walked to the Colosseum and toured the inside, looking down on the site of many bloody battles. It’s been estimated that 500,000 people died in games there.

Back on the bus, we made our way to the Vatican, quickly passing one historic site after another. It would be easy to spend many days touring Rome.

St Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, has so many incredible details that we could have spent hours there alone, like St Peter’s Tomb which brought back memories of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons : A Novel.  Vatican City holds far more than we had time to see, like the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. Like my grandpa used to say, save something for next time.

Weary Travelers at the Vatican

Weary Travelers at the Vatican

 

 

Florence, Italy

As for museums, we did visit the Uffizi in Florence the next day. It’s one of the oldest and most famous museums of the Western World with paintings dating back to the 1200’s, including works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Boticelli and many more. We also visited the Duomo, a massive white marble church. Other stops included the bridge of Ponte Vecchio over the River Arno, more beautiful churches and the Piazza della Signoria with its statues, including the Fountain of Neptune.

Florence has quite a history. It was originally established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC and is considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. It also served as an important financial center and the home of many famous artists.

Villefranche, France

After three whirlwind days, hanging out in a quaint French village (Villefranche) was just what we needed. It’s located between Nice and Monaco, with train service to either. Instead, we just wandered around town at a very relaxed pace. Sights include a waterfront fort and marina, shops, outdoor restaurants, cascading flowers and beautiful buildings. One of my highlights was when a French tourist confused me for a local and asked for directions. I think I told him that he doesn’t speak French. Eventually he threw up is arms and drove away.

Trip Home

During the trip home, I contemplated our vacation, the amazing sights we had seen, and my many past lives throughout Europe and much of the rest of the world. It made me much more aware that we are citizens of planet Earth, not just the United States. We are all connected, and we would benefit from acknowledging that connection and working together. Along with that thought, I dreamt of all I have yet to see in Rome, other parts of Europe and the rest of the world. There are 98 pictures from the trip in my gallery.

Waterfront Villefranche, France

Waterfront Villefranche, France

Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence Italy

Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence Italy

Sierra Trading Post