“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” // Martin Luther King Jr.
I’ve gone back and forth about whether I wanted to write about the last year and a half I lived in Portland, Oregon. It seems to be a city that is loved by many and disliked by none, but if I’m being honest, it was a city that constantly made me feel depressed and negative on a regular basis.
I’m generally a positive person. I try to focus on the genuinely good aspects in life and shake off the bad. I tried my best to adhere to that positive mentality while I lived in Portland. However, there was an underlying nature to the city that I could not get on board with.
Unless you’re involved in the Oregon wine scene, you probably won’t know much about the southern Oregon valleys for wine tasting. When you think of Oregon wines, most people will immediately cling to the idea of rich and earthy Pinot Noirs like what you’d find in the Willamette Valley. And although you’ll still find plenty of those in southern Oregon, there are even more varietals down south than you could begin to imagine.
Southern Oregon has 6 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), or in plain English, 6 distinct grape-growing regions. These regions actually have some of the most diverse growing conditions in the world. A simple definition of “terroir” is how a region’s climate, soils, and overall environmental factors effect the taste of the wine. Southern Oregon has more terroirs than most wine growing regions in the world. In addition, it was named as one of the top 10 global wine destinations by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2016.
As little as two years ago, Grants Pass in central southern Oregon wasn’t known for its bustling downtown. If you lived in Josephine County, where Grants Pass is located, you would have one of the lowest property taxes in Oregon. Without sales tax in Oregon either, however, there was little to give to local services such as the sheriff and fire departments. Crime rates rose. There was a meth problem on the outskirts of the city, a drug that continues to haunt many cities around Oregon.
Two short years later and Grants Pass has gone through a complete revitalization. Thanks to the tight-knit arts community that brings in continuous revenue and investment into the city’s historic buildings, there are numerous new businesses that are coming into downtown these days. There is a focus on farm-to-table cuisine in local restaurants, an increase in craft beer culture, and plenty of wine options. Grants Pass is situated near the Applegate Valley, which is arguably the best spot for wine tasting in Southern Oregon. Although Ashland is seen as the cultural capital of southern Oregon by many, Grants Pass is giving it serious competition these days.
Today I’m showing you more of my home with another vlog based in Santa Cruz county. This next one in the series is around Capitola and Aptos, California. I invited my mom to come along for the ride since she grew up in Aptos and has lived in Santa Cruz for the majority of her life.
From cement boats, to central Californian beaches and tasty Mexican food, there’s more than one reason to see Capitola and Aptos for yourself someday.
One of my favorite trips from this year was to Yellowstone National Park. I knew it would be impressive, it is the oldest national park in the world after all, but I was even more taken aback by its beauty once I saw it in person.
There is a lot of variety in the park, from geothermal attractions, to vast amounts of wildlife, deep canyons, waterfalls, and everything in between. I also didn’t realize just how big of a park it would be, sometimes taking me over 2 hours to get to the other side of Yellowstone. The park itself is mainly in Wyoming but also covers parts of Idaho and Montana, to give you an idea of its size.
I’ve been focusing more on the video side of blogging recently. I wanted to share with you all my brand spanking new vlog around my hometown of Santa Cruz, California.
I spent a day filming around my favorite spots to give you a glimpse of Surf City USA from a local. If you enjoy the video, make sure to like it and subscribe to my YouTube channel. I’ll be attempting to do weekly videos on there from all over the world, so stay tuned!
I’ve had a habit of facing my fears and getting (mostly) over them in the past decade. I’ve had a habit of getting out of my comfort zone and not allowing myself to think the worst until after I do something. The one fear that I can’t seem to kick, however, is the sheer terror I have of drowning.
For some reason, activities like scuba diving don’t faze me too much, perhaps because it’s so calm underneath the sea. But, if I’m doing something that’s more aggressive, such as surfing or being in the midst of waves I don’t know how to read, I have major panic attacks. I’ve dealt with intense anxiety my whole life and this fear of water has to be one of the strongest ways of spiking my anxious mind.
Tacoma has had a renaissance of sorts in the last few years. People used to comment on the “Aroma of Tacoma” in reference to the overbearing sulfur smell that used to hover over the city. Visitors would pass right on through on their way to Seattle, seeing Tacoma as a backwater city and one that wasn’t worth the stop.
A lot has changed in a short amount of time. Travelers are finally starting to see the draw of this Pacific Northwest city and all it has to offer. I was luckily enough to visit Tacoma for the first time this past July and I was impressed with the beauty, history, and local hangouts that I found there. If you’re unsure of what there is to do in Tacoma, or you’re simply looking for a new and lesser known city to explore in Washington – these are my recommendations on how to spend two days in the city.
If you told me a few months ago that I would soon ride a gondola in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, I would’ve thought you were crazy. A gondola in the Pacific Northwest? It seems like such an absurd notion, but it’s an experience that was all kinds of awesome once I experienced it for myself.
The only other time I stepped onto a gondola was in Venice, Italy back in 2011 when I was on a TopDeck tour around Europe. None of the 20-something year olds I was traveling with could afford a gondola ride by themselves, so 5 of us split the cost and piled into one together.
I’m a sucker when it comes to beautiful nature landscapes, lush forests, waterfalls, and, in general, Pacific Northwest vibes. Don’t believe me? Just check out my Instagram! When I received a recent invite for an InstaFam trip in Washington, including Mt. Rainier National Park, I said yes immediately.
I had heard about the magic of Mt. Rainier for awhile and I’d been wanting to visit the national park for myself before I left Portland. Life gets in the way sometimes though, and I thought I had missed my opportunity to visit the park, at least this time stateside. When I realized I would not only get to finally see the mountain up close, but to see it with a guide from Visit Rainier, I was beyond excited for the trip ahead.