Seattle, Washington

I’m not a big city person. I never have been and I probably never will be for any extended period of time. I enjoy going to visit for a day or two just for the experience, and I always enjoy the hustle and bustle, the never-ending list of things to do and places to go. But my dislike for traffic and crowds of people always end up winning out. I just can’t do it. I know for most people these things are facts of life or not that big of a deal, but after spending the first 18 years of my life in a place where you can usually merge onto the highway without looking because there’s never anyone coming, it’s definitely an issue.

That being said, if I had to pick a city to move to, it would be Seattle. Continue reading

Glimpses of the Sun – Olympic National Park, Washington (part IV)

The final leg of our trip led us back out to the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula on Highway 101. Just south of the Hoh Indian Reservation is Ruby Beach. It’s a 5-minute walk to the beach and many sea stacks, the most famous of which is Abbey Island. I’m still at a bit of a loss as to why it’s called Ruby Beach. It isn’t remotely red. But I digress.

Continuing south, we stopped at Beach 4 and Beach 3, the Kalaloch Campground, and then Beach 2 and Beach 1. The Kalaloch Beaches are as creatively named as the beaches at La Push. I guess when they boast sea stacks and abundant tide pools, they don’t need a catchy name to get people’s attention. Or maybe someone just wanted there to be absolutely no confusion as to the number of beaches that exist. Continue reading

Onward, Hoh! – Olympic National Park, Washington (part III)

The next morning found us heading inland to the Hoh Rainforest, located at the end of Upper Hoh Road off Highway 101. The road follows the Hoh River and also passes a big Sitka spruce tree. Though not the largest, it’s one of many giant nearly 1000-year-old trees in the park!

From the Hoh Visitor Center, we hike two trails; Hall of the Mosses (0.8 mile loop) and Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 mile loop). Both trails featured old-growth rain forest, maple trees, and views of the Hoh River. Continue reading

Sand and Solitude – Olympic National Park, Washington (part II)

When we planned a vacation to Washington in June, we pretty much expected lots of rain and minimal sunshine, so we were fortunate to only have a couple gloomy days the entire vacation. The unfortunate part is that they fell on the days we were out at the beach. On the plus side, though, the drizzle seemed to scare everyone else away so we had most of the beaches entirely to ourselves.

The coastal portion of Olympic National Park is disconnected from the main section and requires a short detour off of Highway 101 onto WA route 110. The road forks part way down; the right branch (Mora Road) leads to Mora campground and Rialto Beach while the left (La Push Road) dead ends at the village of La Push on the Quileute Indian Reservation. We went right first, setting up camp at Mora and then heading out to the beach. Continue reading

The Remnants of Winter – Olympic National Park, Washington (part I)

Summer of 2008 was different. It was the start of something new, something better, something wonderful. Following my parents’ split, my mom, sister, and I were now facing a challenge: planning and executing our annual summer vacation with just the three of us. It’s been seven years now, and despite all the great places I’d been before, our best vacations have definitely been the more recent ones. We’ve ventured farther, hiked longer, and seen more than we ever had before.

In retrospect, this is when my love of vacation planning began. I still don’t love logisticalizing (Is that a word? Let’s pretend it is), but the list of campgrounds and hikes and mileages between destinations on my laptop is proof of my tendency to plan vacations when I’m procrastinating, bored, or trying to ignore the fact that winters in New England are miserable.

So anyway, while my mom went about acquiring all the camping gear we’d need, I pulled up a map and started doing some planning. Since I was out in Bellingham, WA and didn’t have my own car, we decided that my mom and sister would pack up the car, come pick me up, and we’d head out to Olympic National Park for a week. For those not familiar with the area, the Olympic Peninsula is the fat part of northern Washington that sticks out into the ocean and forms the western coast of the Puget Sound. It can be reached with or without taking a ferry; since we started north of Seattle, the ferry was the faster option. In our case, we took the ferry from Fort Casey to Port Townsend, located on the northeast tip of the peninsula, and then followed Route 20 south to US Highway 101.

Continue reading

“Long beach far from a narrow entrance”

AKA Chuckanut, the native word for the area that spans the coast just south of Bellingham, WA. Though the word ‘Chuckanut’ makes me think of a mischievous squirrel, I suppose it’s much less of a mouthful than the English translation.

Chuckanut Drive is also another name for the 21-mile long Washington State Highway 11, stretching from I-5 in Burlington north all the way to Bellingham. Starting from the south, the first few miles are inland before the highway turns sharply westward to hug the shoreline of the Samish Bay. Once the water is within sight, there is no shortage of ocean views to the west while the Chuckanut Mountains rise up to the east. Continue reading

Winter in Yellowstone National Park (part II)

At this point, you might be wondering why this blog is called Handstands Around the World when there’s such a blatant lack of handstand pictures. Well as it turns out, I didn’t really start doing handstands everywhere I went until college and was no longer actively doing gymnastics. Most of my handstand pictures are taken on the edge of a cliff or somewhere equally precarious. But when you go to Yellowstone in the middle of winter, it turns out that you can do a handstand in the middle of the road if you want to, because your car is the only one around!

DSCN5362-1

Anyway, continuing on from Mammoth Hot Springs, where I left off with my last post, we followed Grand Loop Road east toward Tower Junction. About 4 miles from Mammoth, is a pullout on the left with a 100-yard walk to Undine Falls. Just up the road on the right is Lava Creek picnic area – one of our favorites – and then the trailhead for Wraith Falls. It’s only about 0.5 miles each way to this 100-foot cascade – since the trail was covered in snow, we put our skis back on and skied there! Continue reading