Monthly Archives: September 2016

North Shore 2016

It’s been a few years since we visited the North Shore and we’re glad we returned! We did things a bit differently because of time constraints. We normally stay in Grand Marais and then hike / sightsee around the area but we found lodging a bit south in Silver Bay via an AirBnB and then drove around the north short area for hikes. Also, we actually looked for things to do in advance instead of just wandering around. We’ve been up to the North Shore a handful of times but it was always ad-hoc and we did whatever we felt like doing so we figured we’d plan just a little bit more this time.

We had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the hiking around Tettegouche State Park, visiting Naniboujou, and enjoying the other views of the North Shore. It’s neat to see what has changed in the few years since our last visit and to also stop by our old favorites. It was neat to use our State Park Pass. This is the first year we ever invested in a pass so we actually visited the state parks instead of finding ways to sneak into the parks from the road. Well worth the price of admission :).

Naniboujou is a very strange place. The food was alright but the story, decoration, and the location are very strange. We’ve driven by Naniboujou numerous times throughout the years but I’m glad we stopped by simply because it’s such an odd place. After visiting once, I’m not sure I’d return but it’s worth at least one visit.

On an odd note, it’s incredible is how much our travels have changed our expectations and our taste buds. When we first returned to the US we had some troubles when we visited our old favorite places to eat because we’d find out that they just weren’t… good. We thought they were good before we traveled because we didn’t know how the food was supposed to taste or we simply didn’t have enough of that food type to know better. We continually have this occur but we were a bit surprised when this happened to our stop at Toby’s. Whenever we’d drive to the North Shore we’d always stop at Toby’s for doughnuts on the way up and way down. We were sad to find out that we don’t really like Toby’s anymore :(.

Enjoy the photos!

Chris W.

Colorado 2016

Man, Colorado is awesome. Once a year I try to go hiking with my brother and spend some time with his family. It’s a great chance to catch up, hang with is awesome family, and spend some time in stunning scenery.

We had planned two hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The first hike, to Emerald Lake, was pretty great. There was a bit of rain but we ended up with some spectacular rainbows so it was worth it. The second hike, Peak 12,150, was rained out.

All-in-all it was a fantastic time. Once again, Colorado lives up to the hype :).

Enjoy the photos!

Chris W.

California 2016

We spent almost three weeks in California traipsing across the countryside hiking and enjoying the sights. We’ve been to California a few times in the past and always had a lot of fun so we figured we’d switch it up a bit and spend some time in other parts of the state we’ve never visited, like: LA, Highway 101/Big Sur, the Eastern Sierras, and San Diego. There were a couple of stops like Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Park that we’ve visited in the past and we still found a lot of fun during this visit.

This is our first big trip since we’ve returned to the US. We thought for a long time about where to go on holiday – back to South Africa, Japan, Eastern Europe, etc.? Ultimately, it came down to the fact that we really like California, we hadn’t been there for a while, we would get to do some incredible hikes, and we were reasonably sure the weather would be good. It’s one thing to go to new and exotic places and it’s an entirely different thing to show up when the weather is good, and be rested, and healthy. We knew it was unlikely we’d get food poisoning in California and it’s only two hours different from our time zone so we figured we had all our bases covered. It ended up being a great choice!

We had our breathe taken away by the shear beauty of the Eastern Sierras. We stayed near Crowley Lake, south of Mammoth Lakes, and had an amazing time hiking to various lakes and lookouts while immersing ourselves in stunning mountain scenery. Unlike the Western Sierras, the eastern side had far fewer hikers and were just as stunning. We were very fortunate to see the beautiful mountain flowers too, we thought we missed the flowers but we had amazing displays on many different hikes. It wasn’t just the hiking: we found a very neat bakery, Shea Schat’s Bakery, and our little town near Crowley Lake had a gas station that made delicious pizza! All-in-all, our time in the Eastern Sierras was the highlight of the trip. In the past when people asked me where I would life if I could live anywhere in the world and I would always say that I would live in the Pacific Northwest, of course. Well, I’m not too sure about that now, and it’d be hard to choose!

We had no idea there were so many things to do around Mammoth Lakes. On top of hiking: the cones, the springs, the pumice, the view points, etc.

We had a very fun time in San Diego and think highly of the city. The compactness and quirkiness make for easy travel and fun experiences. It was awesome to get authentic cuisines in San Diego, food we only wish for in Minnesota, all while having perfect weather every single day. We stayed with family in San Diego and learned a ton about the area and the recent history. While the food and weather are pretty much perfect it’s pretty hard to swallow the insane cost of housing. I think San Diego will remain a fun place to visit :). We look forward to returning and seeing some more of the sights and surrounding areas including Juarez, Mexico.

I’ve mentioned it a few times but we managed to find some amazing food in California. Bronx Pizza in San Diego, Red’s Donuts in Monterey, OB Noodles in San Diego, Christy’s Donuts in San Diego, Schat’s Bakery in Mammoth Lakes and Independence, the pizza place in Yosemite Valley, the great food in LA’s farmer’s market, fresh mangos, and the delicious Thai food from Thai Patio in LA. We were VERY lucky to have fantastic food throughout the entire trip and it was great to have authentic food. It’s hard to get good asian food in Minnesota and, surprisingly, there aren’t many good donut places in Minnesota which is amazing considering all the other incredibly unhealthy food we’re so proficient at making!

That said, I’m not sure about the hype over Highway 101. It’s a road that follows the coast and, sure, it’s pretty, but that’s about it. We drove the highway over two days and had a moderate amount of fun. Hearst Castle was neat and so were some of the other sights on the route. We made a stop in the strange Danish town of Solvang. It’s a lot like Leavenworth, a strange German town in Washington. We thought the ‘pancakes’ from Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery were OK and didn’t really find much else interesting.  I think my opinion is deeply formed by my experiences growing up in a tourist town / area and I don’t think I’d ever do it again or recommend the drive to anyone. A notable event did occur during our drive on Highway 101: we continued our streak of seeing / being near disasters while being completely unaffected. The Soberanes Fire started close to the highway so we stopped to watch some planes drop fire retardant and then we carried on. It was the next day or so that the fire became very serious; the highway was closed, people’s homes burned, and people died. As of today, seven weeks later, the fire is still going. During our travels we had tragedies like this occur where we escaped unscathed: the human stampede in Shanghai, earthquake in Santiago, bank shutdown in Greece, landslide in Nepal, volcano in Iceland and so on. I’m happy we’re both OK but I would love it if these tragedies stopped occurring during our travels. Harbinger of death and/or disaster is not a title I enjoy.

Enjoy the photos!

Chris W.