With the stress of the US election and its results still ringing in our ears, I think we could all use a post that reminds us of the beauty that still exists in America. Last month, I visited the southern parts of the Oregon coast for a short trip, only to find some of the most striking and ethereal spots in the state – and that’s saying something!
I started my journey in the small seaside town of Brookings and continued all the way up to Cape Blanco, before cutting back to the Eugene area after my trip. The drive took two days in total and there were a lot of gems along the way.
When you think of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, you may have flashbacks to your high school American history class. Gettysburg was an important location to the Civil War in early July of 1863. The Battle of Gettysburg had the largest amount of casualties than any other battle in the war, and it is thought of as the key turning point for the Union forces. In addition to the famous battle, it’s the city where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.
The Gettysburg Address is arguably one of the most famous speeches in American history, and perhaps what makes it so great is that it’s still relevant to today’s world – promoting the idea of equality for all humans.
Even with its profound role in American history, Gettysburg is often an underrated and forgotten about city in Pennsylvania. What many don’t realize is the amount of activities there are for travelers who want to have a well-rounded all-American experience.
Ashland, Oregon is stunning at anytime of the year. I visited the city for the first time last summer when I went to my first Oregon Shakespeare Festival Production. This year, I had a chance to visit again in the early fall and I fell in love with this cultural capital again. One aspect that Oregon does well is fall foliage and although Ashland is almost to the California border, it still has beautiful mild seasons and colorful leaves in the fall.
This time I didn’t have full days of trying to fit in as much as possible like I did last summer, but a more relaxed and local experience that sat well with me. I still managed to get to another Oregon Shakespeare Festival play to my excitement and I squeezed in a pint at Caldera Brewing, but other than that, I had a lot of new experiences that further endeared me to the city.
Travel and history so often go hand in hand. It’s one of the aspects I enjoy most about a new place, learning about the events and the people that came before I was standing there myself. I remember the many field trips I would go on around the Bay Area in California, to learn about the California Gold Rush or the lifestyles of the early Mexican immigrants.
When I visited Europe, I was in awe for a whole summer to see monuments and pieces of art that I had only seen in the pictures of my history books. In Australia, I would go to spots like Cockatoo Island to learn about convict history, or Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park for the rich Aboriginal heritage. In New Zealand, I would spend all afternoon in Wellington at Te Papa to educate myself on Maori culture, and the struggles and strides they’ve made in the last 176 years since the Treaty of Waitangi.
“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.
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.