We had been in Bali for a little over a week and I had to fly to Bilbao, Spain for 2 whole days of work.
I’m not the best writer which is why I do the Lost in Transit Podcast. However if I feel so inclined to write about a trip, I will do so here. I also share photos.
My brother Joe and I hadn’t had a brothers trip in a few years so I invited him up to the PNW to hang for a few days. On the day that he arrived, we rented a car and decided to roam Washington state. Our first stop was North Cascades National Park.
Day Two - A few years prior, I had hiked Heather Maples Pass with my friend Brian Stowell, and I couldn’t stop telling Joe about how much I enjoyed it. So naturally Joe and I figured it would be a great place to start; but not without a stop at Diablo Lake overlook first. If you’re out of shape like I am- the Heather Maples Pass hike is pretty brutal, 9 miles total with 2400 feet in elevation gain. However, the outstanding views totally make it worth it. We did a lot of stopping along the hike to take in the incredible scenery…and for me to catch my breath. After the hike, we drove a little further to check out a roadside view point before heading back to Mt. Vernon for the evening.
Day Three - We had originally planned to head towards Granite Falls, Washington to do a hike or two and then get dinner with our cousin Dave somewhere in the area that evening. However, the weather had other things in mind. The morning rain was so intense that we just decided to head down to Seattle and check out what the area had to offer such as Snoqualmie Falls, Hendrix Grave, Kurt Cobain’s bench, Pikes Market, and Mopop (mostly for the Pearl Jam Exhibit) before watching the sunset on top of the Space Needle.
Day Four - That evening we acquired a third, my girlfriend, Jessica. Who had taken the 3 hour Bolt Bus from Portland to Seattle to meet us. The next morning we all woke up super early to catch an hour long ferry from Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula in hopes of spending the day wandering around Olympic National Park. After spending most of the morning in transit, we finally reached our first stop at Hurricane Ridge. I have been to that area several times- but Hurricane Ridge had never been open so I was pretty stoked. Second stop we made was Sol Doc Falls. It’s an easy hike with a nice scenic waterfall at the end of the trail. Once we reached the end, I crouched down to take photos of the falls and apparently my phone fell out of my pocket. I didn’t notice my phone was missing until we arrived to the car, so we got to hike the trail twice. After successfully retrieving my phone, we made our way to Forks for some food and to check into our hotel. We ended up killing bout an hour on the beach before a colorful sunset.
Day Five - Another early start for us. We headed to the most North-Western point of the US, Cape Flattery. The cape is a magnificent place with loads of sea stacks and different coves to check out. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can see some whales! We spent a good amount of the morning hiking around the area taking photos and being goofy before heading South. We had planned on going to the HOH Rainforest, but eventually decided to skip it and make our last stop Ruby Beach. to our disappointment, the beach was so packed with people that we didn’t really want stick around to long and decided to call it a day. We ended our day in a hilarious yet cozy Tiki Themed A-Frame cabin Air in Oceanside, Washington. We watched the sun go down one last time over the Pacific Ocean.
Day Six - We woke up with only one thing in mind, get to Mt St Helens. None of us had been there before so we took the opportunity to check it out before heading back to Portland. St .Helens did not disappoint.
It was May and I had to be in the UK for work, so Jessica and I had planned a 2 week trip to Europe. Originally I wanted to just knock off some of the smaller countries on the Century travelers club list, but with Jessica coming along we kind of had a slight change of plans.
Jessica and I only stayed in England for 2 nights one at the beginning of our trip and one at the end. I figured it would be best if she slept off her jet lag in London and then she would be able to experience more places that she really wanted to see. In London on that first day, we really only wandered up and down the Thames, She had Nandos for the first time and met my friend Josiah.
We left London as fast as we could on a train bound for…
In Paris we checked into our air bnb and walked for what seemed to be forever. Passed the Eiffel Tower, along the Seine, through countless parks to The Louvre and on to Norte Dame before getting rained on so hard, we were forced to hide out in a cafe. I remember coming out of the train station upon arrival and Jessica immediately saying “This feels more what I assumed Europe would feel like, London felt too much like America.”
As I had mentioned before,the purpose of this trip for me was to cross off a few smaller European countries from the Travelers Century Club list that I had never been to. So after a day and a half in Paris, we were on a 9ish hour train ride south to…
The only things I knew about Monaco was that it was where the filthy rich vacationed and that they had the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. We ended up arriving at night, just after dark. After walking through the train station and the winding roads, we made it to our air bnb. The next morning we set out. It felt like we covered a large part of the micro-nation in just a few hours. We slowed down around lunch and hung at a beach cafe that was surrounded by the most beautiful blue water . Around mid afternoon found ourselves at the palace, Which has incredible views of the harbor and the many multi million dollar yachts. All in all I would say Monaco was an excellent experience and a stop that should be on everyones agenda.
Our next stop on this European adventure was Italy. I must say I was a little apprehensive about going to Italy. I had been a few times for work and I just had a terrible taste in my mouth from the way people had perviously treated me. However, Jessica wanted to go so I sucked it up and went. We took the train from Monaco to Venice, Venice to Rimini, Rimini to Rome. Arriving in Venice was a little overwhelming. There were lots of people everywhere and there were little winding walk ways instead of roads,it was confusing and it took a while for us to find our place. We stayed in an old apartment that was very musty but it was in a great location. We spent a few days in Venice and I was blown away. It might be looked at as a tourist trap such as Disneyland to some Italians, but it’s an incredible and mysterious city.
From Venice we hopped the train to Rimini and had to catch a bus to the micro-nation of San Marino. San Marino is high on a mountain top. The tiny little nation only inhabits about 35000 people. However, most live in the area below the mountain. The narrow cobble stone streets were filled with people visiting in the afternoon,but was a ghost town once the evening rolled around. Being up high on a mountain top over Italian countryside- everywhere seemed to have amazing views. 10/10 would visit again.
Rome and The Vatican City
I have this problem of trying to fit a lot into one trip-so we were on the move almost every day. We made it to Rome around mid-day, checked into our hotel that was strategically placed by the train station and headed off to the Vatican City. We visited St. Peters Cathedral and wandered around a little before heading off to the Colosseum.Then we slowly walked around Rome to take in whatever sights we would find along the way.
In all it was a great trip but if i were to do it again I would probably suggest we pick a less busy time of year. The over tourism is becoming insane in some of these places.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember the things you do after so much tim has passed but I remember most of this little road trip like it was yesterday, even though it was almost a year ago not.
Jessica, Larissa and I decided to finally make the trip down to some hot springs we’ve seen on instagram a bazillion time, it was the end of February. We figured we would check out the hot spring, some waterfalls and then head to the coast the next day. After Leaving Portland we spent about four hours driving before our first stop at some random waterfall we never got the name off.
Our second stop was the now famous toketee falls. The hike to the falls was covered in snow from a snow storm earlier in the week so it made the 1/2 mile hike a little more difficult. There was so much snow and Ice we couldn’t make the scramble down to the bottom so we took a couple photos and left. Once we get to the turn off for the falls we come to find that the road to get to the falls was close. We ended up hiking the road about 2 miles to the hot springs at one point and time the trail (we are in the woods at this point) was so icy we had to use anything we could get a hold of to pull ourselves up the hill. We had arrived at the right time. There was 6 or 7 people when we arrived but they all left with in the first 15 minutes of us being there. The the place was ours. Around the same time the others left it began to snow making the whole thing just a little more magical.
We had Enjoyed ourselves so long we didn’t really realize it was getting dark out. On our hike back that same hill we had trouble getting up was as equally difficult getting down but we made the hike back in the dark with no problems. The day ended with a denny dinner in Roseburg, Oregon and a night in a cheap motel.
We woke up early and headed towards the coast, weaving in and out of tiny little country towns in the mountains with incredible views of lakes, trees, fog, and clouds. All of the things the Pacific Northwest is known for. Once we finally arrived to the coast we stopped at the Oregon Sand dunes, a 20 plus mile stretch of dunes along the Oregon coast.
From the dunes we just slowly made our way back to Portland. It was a nice get away from the city with some outstanding hangs and some ridiculous views. Cant wait to do it again someday.
It’s been over a year since this trip has happened do I won’t be writing much but I will try and get up a bunch of photos from the Chile part of Brian and my trip to Chile.
Before we went north to San Pedro de Atacama. Which is meant to be one of the driest place on earth. How ever while we were there it did rain on us.
After a few days in San Pedro we took a trip to Bolivia before returning to San Pedro to head south to Antofagasta on the Coast.
The Next day we drove up the coast and through towns that felt like the hadn’t seen tourists in decades. One of which that sticks I remember is called Horintos, it was an adorable little beach town with beautiful beach front homes and tons of families enjoying a day at the beach. I would love to go back and visit there.
After our drive up the coast we drove through the Atacama desert to get back to Calama where we flew back to Santiago from the next morning.
Our last couple days were spent drinking coffee and walking around Santiago taking photos.
My friend Brian Stowell and I recently traveled to Chile and Bolivia for what would turn out to be a memorable journey. We spent a few days in San Pedro de Atacama, a small town in the Atacama desert in northeastern Chile. We found a guided tour into Bolivia to see Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, little did we know our journey would start out with delays due to weather in the mountains. We crossed thought an immigration checkpoint in San Pedro and headed to the Bolivian border. At the border because we were Americans we needed to provide our passports, 2 passport photos, 2 color copies of our passports, a full itinerary of out trip while in Bolivia, and a proof of a yellow fever vaccination all to get a $160 visa good for 10 years. We had one problem though, Brian didn't get vaccinated, so he just handed the border agent the money for the visa and the issue seemed to resolve itself.
Our guided tour was comprised of a larger group, after we cleared customs the group was divided into smaller groups of six. Each group was assigned a Land Cruiser with a driver. Ours was made up of three russians, Brian and I, and a Chilean woman who spoke very little english but was made to translate, I felt bad for her you could see she wasn't comfortable with it at all. The first stop on our trip was the national park office for a $150 Boliviano ($23 USD) permit to be in the park.
We left the parks office and headed to a pair of semi interesting salt lakes called Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verda in the basin before we made out way up into the mountains. As we climbed it began to rain, Brian seemed disappointed with the weather and eventually stopped getting out of the vehicle. The weather made it hard for any of us to really enjoy the stops. Lucky for the group our driver was looking out for us and decided to save Laguna Colorada for the next day in hopes that the rain would clear up. Laguna Colorada was the stop on the tour the whole group was excited about. The hostel we stayed at was damp concrete building. The dorms had five beds and each tour group had its own little area. The heavy rain woke me up in the middle of the night. As I was waiting to fall back to sleep I noticed the Russian couple had snuggled up into a single bed together, I remember thinking they were a little old to be fooling around in a dorm full of people. in the morning I found out the roof had been leaking on his head so he moved into her bed to avoid being awake and wet all night.
In the morning we packed out Land Cruiser and set off for Laguna Colorada, I had anticipated this being the coolest part of the trip. Leading up to the trip I had been pouring over photos of the lake, in ideal conditions the lake glows with a red or pinkish hue and has flocks of flamingos peppering its surface. I was happy our driver waited a day to take us to the lake instead of going there in the rain the previous day. When we arrived that day, the sky was overcast so the color of the water wasps intense as i hoped, but there were flamingos everywhere, and it was an amazing sight, even with the clouds dulling the lakes colors.
Our next stop along the tour was Desert Siloil, it's a patch of high desert up in the Andes. Its filled with wind beaten sandstone that look like they are straight out of a Dail Painting. WE had climbed roughly 5000 feet in elevation and i was finally starting to acclimate to the elevation. The day prior I was losing my breath just getting out of the car.
The rest of our morning was spent around a few lakes that were underwhelming after our time at Laguna Colorado. We stopped for lunch near a volcano called Tomasamil, we explored the area for a bit but the rain drove everyone inside before lunch was ready. The first part of our afternoon was spent in this intensely beautiful area, the backdrop was towering mountains in the distance, the landscape was covered in unusual rock formations, and Brian perked up as he reminisced about how it reminded him of Moab, Utah. The rest of the afternoon was spent driving to a little town called Julaca. The whole town was made up of a bar, a general store, and run down school that had a few kids playing football in the yard. Our group enjoyed some drinks at the store while Brian and I walked around town, we needed a stretch after being stuffed into the back of the land cruiser all afternoon.
We left Julaca on a dirt track that sat just barely higher than the flooded salt flats that surrounded it. We had been warmed that the flats would be flooded, but I was shocked to see that they were under a couple of feet of water. I'm always impressed by how very part of the world surprise me in its own unique way. That night we stayed in a place that was nicer that the damp hostel from the night before. We had 30 minutes of Wifi access after dinner, a hot shoer and I only had to share a room with Brian. A huge storm came through that night. The rain flooded the route we were going to take to the Salar, so we had to take the long was through Julaca and Uyuni.
We got on the road early, stopping for breakfast around 7:30 in a sleepy little town called Rio Grande. All three Land Cruisers parked together in town and the drivers pulled out tables that the promptly covered with bread, jam, nutella, bandana, nuts and yogurt. They heated water for coffee and tea and we had a feast that morning. After Breakfast everyone seemed to grow frustrated in the three hour drive to Uyuni, no one was telling us what was going on and why we weren't headed to the Salar de Uyuni. Eventually we ended up at what can only be described as a train graveyard. These trains were abandoned and covered in graffiti. Looking back i wish i wouldn't have let they lack of communication frustrate me as much as it did because it was a fascinating experience. As we were leaving the train yard we got word that we were headed to Salar de Uyuni, yu could tell everyone was relieved and excited by the news. The salt flats were covered with ankle deep water as far as the eye could see, shallow enough that we could drive out onto them. I jumped out of the Land Cruiser barefoot, the warmth of the water felt great against my skin. The reflection of the water made the world seem huge, the whole experince was incredible. Our group spent an hour goofing off, taking photos and just living in the moment before we headed back to Uyuni for a late lunch.
We were never really told what was happening after the salt flats, we were under the impression that we would be staying in Uyuni for the rest of the day when we stopped at the information center, but we were picked up shortly after arriving and began to head back to San Pedro. En Route we took a quick break in a town called San Cristobal which fortuitously had a small Sunday parade on in the center of town. We stayed there long enough to watch a little before we got back on the road.
The remainder of our drive was a blur of shot stops to use the restroom and for our drivers to discuss hot to traverse the many flooded areas along our route. We arrived at a small town I could never point out on a map, and slept for a few short hours in a hostel before heading back on the road. We left before sunrise, opening six hours in a car making our way to the bored of Chile. We had arrived where we had started, with a story to tell and fond memories of a few very long days in Bolivia.