In-n-Out

Anniversary Road Trip

For our first wedding anniversary Michael and I decided to take a road trip to Crater Lake. It’s a must-see destination in Oregon and yet neither of us have ever been! Or if I’ve been, I was a kid and don’t remember. I booked a cute cabin at the Union Creek Resort; it was built in 1922 in the Rogue River National Forest and about a half hour drive from Crater Lake. They boasted having a lodge, rustic cabins, an old-fashioned country store, a cafe and an ice cream shop. You can see the map here: groundsmap.

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We packed up the car, and Bella, and hit the road! We stopped in Eugene for lunch. We went to The Cannery, a cool and hip-looking gastropub in the cute little downtown area. I don’t know Eugene at all, I think I’ve just driven through it a few times, but it seemed like a cute town! And of course a popular place if you’re a football fan…

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They had a fantastic tap list –and of course they had my beloved Boneyard beer on tap–which was a slight bummer since I couldn’t enjoy it. But I did get the next best thing– fish n’ chips! I hadn’t had them in ages and these were really, really good. They were small and the size and shape of chicken strips, which I kind of liked. The fries were pretty good too. Michael got the kale salad with chicken and avocado caesar dressing. His salad was fantastic! This place was great! I’d definitely go back if I was in Eugene.

After lunch we were back on the road and the drive was super pretty. We left the freeway and were on a highway right along the Rogue River. The roaring river, the trees starting to change colors, it was picturesque. The drive was a long one, nearly 5 hours total from Portland. We stopped a few times at rest stops for us (and Bella) and arrived at Union Creek around 4:30pm. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and we kind of were.

Here is our cabin:

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Our cabin was tucked away from the rest, which was kind of nice. And while it was by the highway you couldn’t really hear noise. The cabin itself was small and very rustic but it was all we really needed. A bed, a mini kitchen, a bathroom, electricity and heat. It beats camping!

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I’d packed a bunch of stuff for meals and that first night there we made taco salads for dinner and relaxed with some card games after the long drive.

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Bella seemed super excited to explore! 🙂

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Our cabin was right by the Rogue River. Here is the Rogue viewpoint:

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Not too shabby, huh??

One of the downsides: There was NO internet, no cell service at all. Which really isn’t that big of a deal because you’re kind of there to enjoy nature, etc etc…but it was slightly inconvenient for practical things like weather. The temperature swing was kind of crazy–in the 30’s and low 40’s at night and early in the morning but getting up to the 70’s in the day time. It made it difficult to figure out how to dress for the day or for activities.

Our first full day there we went for an easy hike on the Union Trail which was right by our cabin.

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It was COLD. It was probably around 9am. We’d already eaten breakfast and got dressed in layers and I wore a wool hat, gloves and my big winter jacket. We hiked out through the woods, didn’t see a single person on the trail, and ended up doing around 3.5 miles.

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Back at the cabin we cleaned up and I packed picnic lunches. We had plans in Medford for the day (about an hour drive south) so we took lunch with us and stopped at Stewart Park along the way. We had our picnic lunches on the bench overlooking the lake.

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And here is evidence of just how bad the drought has been:

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Yikes! That’s really low. After that we drove into Medford, made a quick stop for provisions at Fred Meyer, and then met up with Michael’s childhood friend Chris and his wife Jenna. I hadn’t seen them since our wedding last year (they got married a month after us and I wasn’t able to go to that). It was so nice to see them and catch up! He works for the fish and wildlife and does fire-fighting during the fire season. She’s a fire ecologist (which sounded really fascinating).

We went to a winery called Kriselle Cellars at their recommendation. It had stunning views of the valley, hillsides, farms, vineyards and mountains off in the distance. We all sat outside on the deck while they did a wine tasting flight and I enjoyed my sparkling water. This was kind of the first time I was disappointed I couldn’t partake because of being pregnant. Leading up to this I hadn’t missed wine (or beer) at ALL during my pregnancy. Oh well. Only 6 more months to go and then I can taste this wine:

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Haha! Michael bought a bottle of the Malbec just for me to have after the baby comes. 🙂 It smelled amazing so I’m looking forward to that glass. It was such a nice afternoon. The sun was out, it was hot and Bella could hang out with us as they tasted wine.

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After that Michael and I went and got dinner. It was the FIRST In-n-Out opening in Oregon!!! We’d read about it a few weeks ago (and the 4+ hour long lines) and we had to at least try. I mean, when are we EVER going to be in Medford again, right??

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We got to the In-n-Out and there were people directing traffic. The lines looked crazy. They directed us into the adjacent mall parking lot where there were like 8 or 9 lines of cars (which one article said could hold 200-300 cars!!!). You couldn’t tell what was going on until you were stuck in the line and committed to it.

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It kind of reminded me of the long lines to take the ferry in Washington! But, to be fair, the wait wasn’t TOO bad. From start to finish it was 50 minutes. That could have been a lot worse and they were super organized and the line moved pretty quickly. They took your order before you even got in the line to In-n-Out.

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Finally! DINNER! I love me some In-n-Out! I’m not really a fast food fan and don’t eat it very often but this is one splurge I’m willing to make! Their burgers are so good!

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We ate our dinner, happy, and then made the long drive back to the cabins! It was a good day. 🙂

That Time We Almost Died in the Desert

Okay maybe that’s a little dramatic, but let me back up. 🙂

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Anna and I had planned on going for a hike while we were in Tucson so she reserved a Zipcar for the day on Monday. We got a little Dunkin Donuts breakfast and coffee (god I adore their iced coffee) and we got the car. It was parked in Zipcar parking at the University so it was a two block walk from the hotel.

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We drove to Oro Valley and stopped at Trader Joe’s to grab food for lunch. We planned on doing a hike in Catalina State Park. I did one with my parents last time I was in Arizona. This time we did the Romero Pools Trail. It was classified as “moderate” and sounded like a nice way to spend the day. (I looked up the trail info for more details when I got home and apparently it was 5.6 miles roundtrip to the Pools, over 7 if you do the whole canyon trail. 1000 feet elevation gain.)

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It was a lot hotter out on Monday than the rest of our trip. We packed a ton of water and I had one bottle of Gatorade, too. We were definitely well-hydrated, which was good. (Last trip to Arizona my family hadn’t hiked long because we didn’t pack enough water.) Us girls got a later start in the day than ideal but it worked out alright.

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We set out on the trail through the wash and the easy, wide part where the horses were. We even saw some horses!

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The trail started to go uphill a little. We were blazing a trail in the beginning and as the hike went on, the elevation climbed and the day got hotter we slowed down. There was a part of the trail that had “stairs”, which was nice.

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Then the trail started to turn into a rock “scramble”. It wasn’t rock climbing, but there were many, many parts of the trail where it felt kind of like it!

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Thankfully most of the trail wasn’t on the edge of a cliff, which is a no-go for me. I felt relatively safe for most of it.

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We saw some creatures. Geckos and lots of hummingbirds! Whenever I reached out to use a rock for assistance in the climb I ALWAYS looked first to make sure there weren’t scary or deadly critters waiting to get me. This little guy looked harmless though.

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There is something kind of magical about being in the tan, brown, gray desert and all of a sudden seeing splashes of color. The desert flowers that bloom are particularly colorful and pretty!

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It was a really popular trail. As we were climbing up, most of the people we saw were heading down the trail. Whenever we found shade (which wasn’t very often) we took advantage of it and took a break. We stopped often for water breaks, too.

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I was wearing the sunshirt I bought in Maui and wearing lots of sunscreen! Thankfully neither of us got too burned on the hike and re-applied sunscreen several times.

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We seemed to be near the top of the ridge. We asked a few hikers if we were close to the pools. We got different answers from everyone. Some people said we were almost there and it was worth the hike. Some said we were halfway! Some said it was another 15 minutes…well, we finally arrived at the top and then the trail went downhill.

Then we were at the pools!

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The secluded canyon had a lot of shady areas, which was nice, and there was a cool breeze that felt wonderful! Here is the calorie count for the hike up:

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We set up our picnic lunch in the shade on the rocks and relaxed. Lunch was courtesy of Trader Joe’s: a small loaf of Asiago and black pepper bread, sliced Gouda cheese, sugar snap peas and Rainier cherries. It was the perfect lunch!

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After relaxing, cooling off and eating lunch, we explored the pools a little bit. I really wished I’d brought my swim suit! It looked like a wonderful place to cool off.

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We decided it was time to head back down. It was getting hotter in the day and would soon be the peak. We had enough water to last us the hike down, so that was good. I never felt dehydrated, also good.

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We hiked back up to the top of the ridge. Then started to come down the trail.

Then I stopped.

And took two steps backwards.

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Anna was behind me and said “OH MY GOD IS THAT A SNAKE?!”

Um, yes, yes it is a snake. And it’s a big one.

So I’m gonna just stand back here and let him pass by his merry way and not bother him.

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I let the snake slither across the trail (it was moving VERY slowly) and took a photo of it. Thank goodness for zoom lenses because eff that! I’m not getting close to that thing. But I wasn’t going to make any sudden movements, either. So I just stood there and waited. Once it was in the brush I decided it was okay and I ran (leaped) down the trail past the snake and then coaxed Anna to follow. She freaked out a bit and then followed.

Further down the trail we came across some other hikers who asked if we’d seen a snake. Apparently they’d heard Anna’s screams. 🙂

Here is Anna before the SNAKE INCIDENT:

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Carefree and happy…It was definitely a heart-pounding experience. I don’t know what kind of snake it was. I wasn’t looking too closely. I showed the picture to a friend later who’s local and she thought it was a Diamondback but I’m not sure. I don’t recall if I saw rattler at the end of it. I wasn’t looking too closely.

OKAY. Ready to exhale now.

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The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful. It was kind of harder to go down the mountain, honestly. My knees were doing okay, but I had to take some very long, high steps to climb down. I pulled my thigh muscle a little bit but didn’t hurt it too much, thankfully, and there was no lasting injury. Both of us were experiencing shaky legs as we climbed down.

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There were many spots where it was just safer and easier for me to sit down on my butt on the rock and slide down to get sure footing. I’m surprised at how long it took us and how many calories I burned climbing back down the mountain–nearly the same number as the hike up!

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Finally we were off the mountain and back to the wash, then the parking lot. We high-fived and congratulated each other on NOT dying and then we guzzled some water in the car. On the drive back to the hotel we made a stop at In-n-Out for the most amazing milkshakes ever. It was so tasty and cold after being in the hot hot sun (91 degrees) for four hours. (I’m kicking myself for not getting a burger at In-n-Out).

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After cleaning up after the hike we met a friend of Anna’s from the Peacecorp. He saw some of her Facebook posts and they arranged a meeting. We met them at Thunder Canyon Brewery for happy hour and had honestly the worst food I’ve ever had. It was truly atrocious (and it made me kick myself even harder for not getting In-n-Out!!!). But the company was fantastic and it was fun meeting him and his girlfriend.

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Anna and I flew home to Oregon on Tuesday mid-day, feeling refreshed and happy and sunkissed and both wishing we didn’t have to go back to reality. It was a fantastic trip and I had so much fun. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the desert a little bit!