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 beer girl. I’ve loved craft beer since my college days and my first bartending gig at my on-campus pub in San Diego. With that said, I do enjoy changing it up sometimes and introducing new flavors to my palate. That chance came during my InstaFAM trip last month that led me to Gig Harbor, Washington and the renowned distillery that resides there, Heritage Distilling Co.
Conveniently located right next to our accommodation for the night, as soon as I walked into Heritage I could tell these guys knew exactly what they were doing. I also realized it was the first time I’d ever been on a distillery tour. New experience for the win!
I heard about Hotel Murano before I arrived in Tacoma. When I was researching a trip to the area on my own months previously, Hotel Murano came up time and time again in my search. I kept thinking how nice of a hotel it seemed, at least online, and how I would love to stay there at some point.
That trip never came to fruition but fast forward half a year later and I was on my way to Tacoma on an InstaFAM trip with Travel Tacoma and Visit Rainier.
I had spent the last 12 hours in transit. First a red-eye flight from Portland, Oregon, then a Greyhound to Grand Rapids from Chicago. I traveled by light rail, plane, bus, and my own feet by the time I stood in front of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, looking straight up in awe.
The hotel is the epitome of grand, with architecture that dates back to the early 1900s, a singular American flag waving in the wind to beckon visitors into its doors. As soon as I stepped inside, it felt as if I had been transported back to the age of The Great Gatsby.
I rocked up in the hippie shuttle van from my last accommodation to an elegant building called The Oswego Hotel – my new home for the next two nights. At that time, I didn’t realize just how delightful my room would be, it would literally feel like a home away from home during my time in Canada.
When I walked inside the lobby, the woman who checked me in asked me what it was like riding in the hippie van around town, it looked like such a fun van and she had seen it around Victoria before. We continued to have a friendly chat about the city, where she was from in Canada, and about my trip and why I was there. Even though The Oswego Hotel is a classy establishment that would be considered chic by most, it didn’t have the pretentiousness that some nicer hotels tend to have. I loved it.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I wasn’t always an adventurous soul. Or perhaps I was, but my anxiety growing up masked it well and prevented it from coming out very often. I used to be scared of everything and anxiety would call the shots in my life.
I’m thinking of writing up that account of my past at some point, but long story short, I confronted that side of myself back in high school & college and decided to overcompensate with seeking out adventure in my life forevermore.
I hopped on the local bus, just a few minutes walk from the ferry station in Victoria. I proudly presented my Canadian dollars to the machine with the correct change and got my bus pass for the day to head uptown to Hotel Zed, my first stay in the city.
A short 10 or so minutes later and we were already at my stop, or at least I thought we were. I got up quickly, right as the bus started moving again, and I almost fell flat on my face to the horror of those on the full bus.
I could actually hear a synchronized sharp intake of breath by everyone on board until I caught myself as gracefully as a could with my big duffel in hand and quickly jumped off the bus like I knew exactly where I was going. Just a day in the life of me.
I made my way to the old part of SE Divison, a place that used to have mechanic shops and furniture stores line the streets only a few years ago. A decade ago, you wouldn’t recognize the SE Division you see today, a bustling area with food carts, boutique shops, quaint cafes, old-school barber shops, and good eats. In fact, some of the best eats in Portland, as I soon would learn on my Forktown Food Tour.
I’ve had a few of you ask me to write a little more about my favorite travel products and gear this year, so I figured now is as good a time as any to start. Throughout my 8 years of on-and-off travel I’ve picked up a few recommendations and pieces of gear that have particularly stood out to me.
On a stunning property next to the Gallatin River and just west of Bozeman, you’ll find the tucked away gem, Gallatin River Lodge. After Kendall and I spent our quick day around downtown Bozeman, we drove the short distance in the late afternoon to the winter hideaway and discovered one of the most beautiful spots of Southwest Montana in the process.