Tag: Life

Things I have Learned from Traveling (even within my own Country)

Hey Everyone!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been seeing the whole “15 things European’s think the Americans are doing wrong”. I don’t give much credence to the list, but I do know that every country has people who are egotistical pricks who believe that where they are from is the only place that is right, and everyone else is wrong, and they love to pick on my country, yet get all butt hurt when anyone else (especially an American) says anything negative about their country or compares it to home.


When you go and visit someplace new, especially some place as big as the United States, it’s going to be a culture shock. There are many different regions that have their own culture. The U.S. is huge, we have states larger than many European countries.

*to preface what I am going to talk about in the next paragraph, when I am talking about the UK, I am speaking in reference to the entire United Kingdom which includes: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland*

For example, there are 11 States that are larger than the United Kingdom, and the US is roughly 40 times larger than the UK. Alaska in and of itself is 7 times the size of the UK. The comparisons here I am taking into account is the total number of square miles / square kilometers. It’s weird to think that my home state of Oregon is larger than the whole of the United Kingdom. It’s weird to me, because Oregon about 1/3 the size of Texas and about 3/20 the size of the state of Alaska. Granted there are roughly 29 European countries smaller than the smallest state in the US, which is Rhode Island.

The US is a very culturally diverse country, and not at all like Europe. Even traveling around my own country, I have run into culture shock. New England is culturally different from the Urban core of the Pacific Northwest. Even within the states of Oregon and Washington, they are a bit different from each other, but even when looking at these two states, the I-5 corridor from Eugene to the south, up to the Canadian border to the north, are culturally and politically different from the rest of their respective states.

Because I am from Oregon I will use it as reference, the Willamette Valley, and Bend are very progressive and Liberal, while the rest of the state (especially Eastern Oregon, and southern Oregon is somewhere in the middle) is more conservative in terms of culture and politics.

I was just in Washington the other day, and every time I cross the river into Washington (because this part of Oregon and Washington is just separated by the Columbia River), and I have to remind myself that Washington has Sales Tax and that I have to pump my own gas. Those are two of the most obvious and biggest differences. Whenever I go to Washington, and stop at a store or restaurant, 99% of the time I don’t try to go through the process to not pay sales tax. Most of the time, I am not spending enough money to justify going through the hassle of not paying it. I am also of the mindset that, I chose to leave Oregon, therefore if I stop at a store or restaurant I should be supporting their economy, since I am not at home. Washington doesn’t have a state income tax, so their taxes come in through sales tax. It’s the way it works, and if I don’t like it, I shouldn’t have left Oregon. I am not going to be the prick who expects others to accommodate me when I am on their home territory.

In traveling around my own country, as well as British Columbia (Canada), I have learned to go with the flow, as they do things differently wherever I am going to. Just because things are done differently from where I come from, doesn’t mean they are wrong, and doesn’t give me the right (or entitlement) to force them to do things like we do where I come from.

Traveling is a huge learning experience, which will include some culture shock, and at times force you into new situations that are unfamiliar. If you didn’t want to experience a different way of life that was not totally familiar or completely different from your own, then you should have just stayed home, in your own familiar surroundings.


Going Back to Traditional Sunblock

Hi Everyone!

Over the course of the past year or so I have bee testing out different brands of mineral based sunblocks. I am not paid for any of this, and all he sunblocks I have tried I bought with my own money.

I have tried Babyganics, Badger, and Baby Bum brands of the mineral based sunblocks.

I want to preface this all by saying that I have never had an allergic reaction or sensitivity to the regular brands of sunscreen. I was trying the mineral based for the sake of fewer chemicals….

Over the course of the year of trying the mineral based sunblocks, reading the ingredients, they still have a ton of chemicals in them so if it is trying to stay away from chemicals going on your skin, even the more “natural” sunscreens on the market are full of them.

In the times I have used the mineral based ones, I didn’t like how they felt going on, or having a white residue left behind no matter how hard I tried to rub it in. I also didn’t like how they felt in my skin later on (like two to three hours after application). I also don’t feel that they protected my skin as well as the mainstream brands do. I have also tried the Clinique city sheer sunscreen. It is an SPF 25 so I would be more apt to use it if it was a nice day and I was going to be out and about and I wanted a bit of extra protection but I wasn’t planning on being out in the sun constantly. The only drawback and down side I have with the Clinique is hat it comes tinted and I don’t particularly care for that.

Yesterday I was out on a hike, it was in the mid – 60’s and I feel like I was getting darker than I should have and burning within an hour of application. The bugs also loved attacking me. I don’t know if it was just me or something in the mineral based sunblocks that was attracting them. I haven’t had that much of an issue with bug attacking me since I was in Missouri, almost 12 years ago. I have never had issues like that while having traditional sunblocks applied to my skin.

I have fair skin, so having adequate sun protection is important to me, while still being able to be comfortable in warm – hot weather. Any more when I know I am going out to go hiking or to the beach, or just going to be outside for a while, I definitely try to remember to wear a hat and lather on the sunblock.

While I am not a huge fan of putting extra chemicals on my skin, for the few hours I am going to be out in the sun (which is not a daily occurrence living here in the northern Willamette Valley), and then showering when I get home. I’d rather wear sunblock and greatly reduce my chances of skin cancer from over exposer to the sun than not use anything at all.

I had stopped at Target yesterday, on my way home from my hike and picked up some regular brands of sunscreen. The Neutrogena is for my face, as it is the ultra sheer dry touch formula, since I am prone to breakouts if it is too greasy and oily. The Coppertone Sport is for the rest of my body that is exposed to the sun, like my arms, legs, neck and chest since it doesn’t matter so much if the sunblock is a little bit greasy as long as it rubs in. I know that both the neutrogena and the coppertone work for me and I don’t have any allergies to them. I also realize that 55 and 70 are in many ways over kill in terms of sunblock, but that added SPF helps it to last a bit longer between applications and help my pale skin from burning or getting darker, to me it is worth it.

The Lull Between the Storms

Hey Everyone!

I am really trying to get back into hiking. I hadn’t really hiked in almost two years, so all the progress I had made went out the window. So I am starting all over working on building up my endurance. The hike I went on today was only 1.86 miles / 3 km hike and it kicked my butt. My hike gained 417 feet / 127 meters in elevation over the course of the first mile from where I started to the top of the mountain.

It was such a gorgeous day out. The trail in parts was a bit muddy, and other parts were dry. It had rained so much over the weekend (like 2+ inches in about 36 hours). Today was partially sunny and warm, so the woods smelled amazing and the birds were chirping. So besides the blister I got while hiking, it was an amazing day.

Like I said earlier I am trying to work on build up my endurance, so I can knock out these shorter hikes with ease, and start taking on longer and more challenging hikes.

With starting to build up my endurance, I am still working on breaking in my new boots. While I am still getting a blister here and there, one that I got on the way back down is a lot better than three that started forming on the way up on my first hike with my new boots. Overall I love my Danner boots and they fit so much better than the last pair I had. I have also put the fatigue fighter footbeds (ie insoles) back in now that I have started breaking them in and they are loosening up a bit. I think that was part of the problem with the new blister. With the insoles, the backs of my boots were rubbing a different part of my heel than they had previously, so I hadn’t thought to put moleskin on that spot.

Breaking in new hiking boots it a pain, but in the long term will hopefully be worth it if I can get the wear out of them, and have them last for a while. After I got home and got the leather cleaned up, I rubbed in some more boot dressing to help keep them from drying out, and to help them break in more.

Being one with the Beach

Hey Everyone!

This past weekend I had gone to the beach, and was able to spend 2 nights there.

The past couple weeks have been crazy preparing for the weekend away. It got even crazier this past Wednesday when I started getting things together and putting my gifts together for the other ladies.

Friday morning before I left, I had mixed up a batch of gluten free, dairy free, egg free, cranberry orange pecan muffins to take with me.

I had managed to get out f the house by about 11:00 am Friday morning, from where I headed out to Astoria. I spent a few hours there, where I got lunch and went exploring. I stopped at Fort Clatsop, and walked around a bit.


Once I was done exploring Astoria and the forts, I headed south, stopping in Rockaway to go for a walk on the beach.

I absolutely love the beach. The beach is one place I never get tired of seeing or being at. I have been going to the beach since I was a baby, and while I have a healthy respect for the ocean and its power, I love it. On some level I guess I take it for granted like I do the Mountains, but I am still in awe of the mountains and the ocean every time I see them. The part the I guess I take for granted is the fact that I know they aren’t going anywhere, and that they will always be there any time I want to go see them and visit.

Saturday afternoon, myself and some of the other ladies went down to the beach to go for a walk. We walked at least 2 miles.

I was kind of sad Sunday knowing that I was going to have to leave and return to the City life. While I was ready to be back to having my own room, I wasn’t ready to leave the beach.

I still miss the beach very much.

Hiking Season is Well Underway!!! Mt Talbert

Hey Everyone!

Today turned out to be another beautiful day, with highs in the upper 60’s, or reaching 70.

While I had been wanting to go for a hike at one of my favorite spots today, I really didn’t want to spend the gas to go there and back today, so I went to Mt. Talbert instead.

While this his was not as long as the hike I went in last week, there was a greater elevation gain (367 ft vs 313 ft) over a shorter distance going up. The paths are also a bit rougher.

I definitely enjoyed my hike today, and I love seeing how the scenery can change in such a small area, with different types of trees, and it being more wooded (with more Douglas fir trees) versus sparser tree grouping that are deciduous trees.

I had gotten a container of the Danner boot dressing and had applied some to my boots over the weekend. That has definitely seemed to help my boots soften up and not be so stiff. While I am not going to say that my boots are 100% broken in, they are definitely more so this hike than they were the last hike.

I also used moleskin and bandaids on the areas where I got (and still have remnants of) blisters to give them a little extra cushioning.

I have definitely missed going hiking and I am glad to be getting back into this activity that I love so much. I am also glad I invested in some new hiking boots that are working out better for me than my last pair.

Hope to be out Hiking again soon!

Hey Everyone!

After my hike the other day, I knew the chamberlain’s leather milk wasn’t strong enough to really help me get my boots broken in without completely tearing my feet apart.

Wednesday, which was the day after my last hike, I ordered some of the clear Danner boot dressing. Beings that it is from the same brand my boots are, it’s been designed for my boots and to help break them in.

I got it in just a bit ago and took the time to get my boots rubbed down with the dressing. Beings that it is supposed to be dry and warm (for this time of year) between now and sometime Tuesday morning, it is the perfect time to let them soak in the dressing over the weekend. I will check them over the weekend and see how they are doing.

I hope to get out and go for another hike on Monday, and see how the Danner boot dressing helps. By then, I am hoping my blisters from the last hike will be better. I will definitely bandage up the spots where I got blisters the last time really good, to protect what is left of any existing blisters and help prevent further damage.

This is turning into a lot of time, money and effort to get my boots conditioned and broken in. I am really hoping it is all worth it, and I can get them broken in (and soon) and have my boots last for years. Beings that they are the stitch down full grain leather boots, if I can keep the uppers conditioned and in good shape, they should hopefully be able to be resoled when the time comes.

Bought New Boots

Hey Everyone!

That’s right! I did it! I bought new hiking boots. I definitely need to get them broken in before I do any major hiking.

I was starting to get a bit of cabin fever because it has snowed on and off this whole week, so I went to the Danner Factory Outlet up on NE Airport Way. I bought a pair of Danner Mountain Light Cascade Boots, which is the same style of boots that Reese Witherspoon wore in the movie “Wild”.

I decided to go with the Factory seconds that I found in my size. They look good, and that while they have have more minor imperfections, they are still well made (and cost less than the Factory firsts).

While I was out today, and beings that the roads were totally fine by early in the afternoon, I also ran to the mall to go to REI and Eddie Bauer. Yep, outdoorsy girl heaven right there.

At REI, I picked up a couple pairs of hiking socks, mainly for while I am trying to get my Danner’s broken in, and saving the socks I make myself for once my boots are broken in. I also picked up a travel wallet, mainly because it can hold my cellphone as help me stick with only the necessities for going out and about. I also picked up a new flip lid for my 20 oz hydroflask, in blue so it will match, and a pink rubbery bottom for the aforementioned hydroflask.

While I was at the mall I went in and went to Eddie Bauer, and picked up what they call the “connect tech travel bag”, which is a smaller purse like bag that can fit a wallet, cellphone, keys, a small tablet and a few other necessities.

I love going shopping at REI, and Eddie Bauer is nice when you are looking for something in particular.

Danner is a Portland company with roots going back to the 1930’s. REI was started in (and is still based out of) Seattle, and Eddie Bauer is based out of Bellevue, Wa (a suburb of Seattle). The Seattle area is local enough for me.

The hiking socks I bought as well as the Danner boots are made here in the USA, which makes me feel even better about them.

This spring and summer I am definitely wanting and needing to do some more hiking.