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Fishing Haven, Umpqua River, and the Southern Cascades

Fishing Haven, Umpqua River, and the Southern Cascades

Steamboat InnSo earlier in the year my long lost cousin contacted me out of the blue on Facebook and said she and her husband just bought the Steamboat Inn and invited me to stay there a few days and do some photography.  Adventure?  Cool people to hang with?  Wine?  Yes please, to all of the above.

What made them want to invest into this historical inn?  They loved the outdoors, fishing, etc. and wanted to be full-time business owners, leaving their job at the country club.  Sometimes you gotta just let go and go for your dream and I’m excited for them.

The Steamboat Inn is a major landmark on the Umpqua River on Highway 138.  It’s a haven for fishermen, winetasters, hikers, and generally people who want to get away from the busy life in the city at least for a while.  No phone service so you can have an excuse not to talk to your boring work friends, but there is wi-fi so you can at least get some social media fix in.

Lamb dinner

Oregon territory wine
My cousin once-removed is the official greeter of the inn.

The food was phenomenal.  First night I believe was mushroom ravioli.  Next night was roasted lamb, and the next was the best slowroasted steak I’d ever had.  Pair that with local wines and wow.  The chef’s a cool guy too as well as the staff.

In the meantime during the day, I explored the Umpqua Forest.  There are so many cool sites to see whether you’re there for fishing, hiking, or photography and site-seeing.

Most of the hikes are fairly short and reasonable and lead to scenic waterfalls and sweeping views of the Umpqua. Among them were Toketee Falls, Steamboat Falls, Clearwater Falls, Susan Creek Falls, and Deadline Falls, as well as Big Bend Pool at Steamboat Creek, which is a major local spot with scores of fish, but not permitted for fishing.

The drive along the river alone is a scenic adventure as you wind left and right, up and down with the turquoise waters of the Umpqua right to the side.

Susan Creek Falls
Susan Creek Falls
Toketee Falls
Toketee Falls

The inn itself has great scenery as the backyard has a viewpoint of the Umpqua River.  The stars were out, and so clear away from the city, I had to get myself out of bed for some night photography.

Steamboat InnThe 3rd night I got a shot of the inn and John the chef who knew some photography himself helped me with some of the lighting on the building.  We hung out and chatted under the stars while shooting.

I’ll remember that night talking philosophy, life, art, travel, etc, while he smoked a cigarette and I messed around getting settings.  It was so chill and being away from work and citylife was just awesome.

We talked about how apocalyptic the area around Crater Lake was.  He mentioned he’d seen Thielsen one time from afar and had to look it up.  That steep pointed Tolkieneque peak is not something you see every day.


After leaving I dropped by  my aunt and uncle who now live in a house across the river from the inn.  I remember visiting them out in Eugene a few years ago and listening to his jazz record collection with him.  Retired and helping take care of their grandkids, they’re now living the life by the Umpqua.

I also drove further down Highway 38 to the Diamond Lake area for views of Mount Thielsen and Mount Bailey.  And while I was there I figured I might as well drive further down and check out Crater Lake with snow on top.

Mount Thielsen
Mount Thielsen

Crater Lake was actually a long drive, because you have to go around to the South entrance as the North was snowed in.  Well worth it for a winter view though, and the roads are well kept and plowed regularly.  Crater Lake is even better with snow.

So thanks again to my relatives who treated me well there.  Cheers to new ventures, whether in business or traveling the world.  If you’re ever in the Umpqua Forest area, be sure to stop by and say hi to them and enjoy some food and cheer at the Steamboat Inn!

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California Roadtrip!

California Roadtrip!

(Note: this trip took place in March.)

California, land of Beach Boys, blondes, Hollywood, Disneyland and surfers, right?  Nah, not this time.  I think of it more like the land of national parks, Silicon Valley, and John Muir’s inspiration.  And oh yes, there was sun.

I’m not one to get bummed just because it’s cloudy, but when you’re going weeks on end, with only a few breaks for the sun here and there, it gets old.

First stop, Redwoods!

After a long drive from Portland, we stayed at a hotel in Grants Pass.  Then Jair looks up a trail in Jedediah Smith State Park and we decided to check it out.

Little did we know this was way in the backcountry along one of the worst roads I’d seen.  Jair drove and the road  was good practice for him with his new car.  Constantly doublecheck our GPSes we eventually stopped at what looked like a good trail to check out the old growth trees.

Pretty big.  We hiked for a bit, then moved on.  I guess I’m ever the cynic, once you’ve seen a redwood, you’ve seen ’em all.  haha

Had to check out the Avenue of the Giants while on the way South, which is shown in the photo at the top of this post.  And then of course the California coast.  Amazing drive!

After a long trip we finally San Fransisco and then San Jose.  Driving in the dark, alas, there were no great photos of the Golden Gate Bridge.  But I can still say I saw it, so you’ll just have to believe me.

And what’s California without a trip to In-N-Out Burgers?  Okay, so I was following the crowd a bit here, and though it was pretty good, I don’t really get what all the rage is about.

Next was my bro’s home in San Jose.  He lives in a cool studio apartment with a swimming pool, hot tub, etc.  And there were palm trees!

Next morning was the glorious drive to Yosemite.  We set up camp that night in an RV park where someone was watching movies, but hey it worked.

Yosemite definitely lived up to it’s name.  John Muir wasn’t kidding, it was epic.  I’d like to go visit the Sierras longer someday, see other things in the mountains and taste the amazing alpine “champagne water” Muir wrote about.

Yosemite Falls

Half domeThat Saturday after being back in San Jose, I had to see some Silicon Valley stuff, so we visited the Computer History Museum.  It did not disappoint either.  We got to see the mechanical predecessors of computers and calculators to the 20th century, mainframes, home computers, all the way to smartphones and mobile devices nowadays.

Here’s an old planning device used for construction of ships and that sort of thing.

Awesome robots
Communication devices before the internet and smartphones.

There was much more to see in Silicon Valley as well as California’s countryside, coast, mountains, desert and of course the major national parks.  But unfortunately life, work, etc. called me back home.  California all in all, was pretty epic.  I’ll be back.  🙂

Got an adventure tale to share?  Let’s connect on Instagram and Twitter.  @Outbacktales

 

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Four Epic Sites at Olympic National Park Worth Visiting

Four Epic Sites at Olympic National Park Worth Visiting

So many adventures, so little time to write.  This summer has been full of sites and bucketlist items, it’s hard to blog about everything, but I do photojournal and put it on social media.  But I did want to tell of my adventures at Olympic National Park in Washington.  Here’s also a video set to the music of Within Temptation, a band from Holland.

First I had to drive for hours, camping on the outskirts on the way in redneck country with many “Ill Eagle” fireworks stands near the Fourth of July.  The drive itself was nice and had views of Hood Canal.  Much of the area is private, but there are a few places to beach explore by the highway if you look enough.  But the main attractions are in the park itself.  Up US-101 to Port Angeles, and then on into the park!

Hikers on Hurricane RidgeHurricane Ridge

Usually you hear about the forest you hear about Olympic National Park, but I will definitely say this was the highlight of the trip and worth a trip in itself to see this view.

This is one of the most accessible alpine sites around, and you get a lot of bang for your buck.

If hiking uphill is difficult, you can drive to the visitor center for epic mountain views.  Just about anyone can be a photographer here.  Just point your phone and click and get beautiful mountain photos.

Hurricane Ridge view

But I will say the hike is fairly moderate for a mountain hike and is worth it for the alpine views.  The summer weather was so hospitable that day I could more accurately call this place “Nice Breeze Ridge.”  I even got to see deer, which seem used to people by now and willingly posed for my photos.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-hurricane-ridge.htm

sol-duc-falls2Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls has been on my bucketlist for years after seeing it in a nature photography book.  It didn’t disappoint.  The evening lighting was just right and you could walk around all over catching the falls from different angles.  Go check it out and snap a few photos.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-sol-duc-valley.htm

Rialto Beach in the morningRialto Beach

Unfortunately being Fourth of July weekend, the camps and hotels were booked solid. So after driving all over the place around looking for somewhere to crash for the night, I ended up having a cop help me find a small park near the beach to sleep in my car.

To stretch my legs I hung out at Rialto, ate breakfast and snapped a few sunrise photos.  The place reminds me a lot of Cannon Beach near Portland back home.  I’d seen this before when backpacking the coast a few years ago, and it’s still beautiful to visit.

You can access this beach by driving up 101 on the West side by the coast or from the North over the park from the East side.  Don’t forget to grab a vampire burger or coffee at Sully’s, a Twilight themed cafe near Forks, Washington where the films took place.  After all this wilderness, some dive-food and wi-fi can really hit the spot.  Cool people there too.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/rialto-beach.htm

Hoh Rainforest

Here you’ll see the weirdest trees covered in moss, or “old man’s beard” as I’ve heard it called.  It’s beautiful and I’d definitely recommend the Hall of Mosses trail to see the moss in all its splendor.

Hoh Rainforest

Mick Dodge and Josh Taylor

This is also where Mick Dodge, the National Geographic reality show celebrity, hangs out.  When I met him and asked for a photo with him, he said the rules were you had to take off your shoes like him.

He was easier to find than the show makes him to be.  He helps attract tourists like me, as his show helped to familiarize myself with the Hohs.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-hoh.htm

Also don’t forget the Ancient Groves trail on the North Side, which is where normal forest and rainforest meet, giving some interesting trees and scenery.

To visit all these places be prepared to spend quite a few hours of driving.  Well worth the time and gas though.  I’d also recommend going on weekdays and not-so-crowded days.

So if you’re in the Northwest and looking for something to do, go check out the Olympics sometime.  What kind of adventures have you been having lately?  Let share adventures photos on Instagram and Twitter.  Happy adventuring.

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Central Oregon-Part One-Crater Lake

Central Oregon-Part One-Crater Lake

crater-lake-foggy

So here I am sitting in my tent by Crooked River, eating my attempt at Pasta-Roni over an open fire. I’m writing on my laptop as my old Paperwhite Kindle lights up the tent.  How’s it taste? Well, like Pasta-roni over an open fire. There’s bits of sausage in there too, which makes it well…edible camp food. It’s warm, perhaps a bit of comfort food after a day of rain. At least it’s not another Cliff bar, right?

Fumbling around trying to eat and cook in the dark is a pain. Word of advice. Whether carcamping, or backpacking it, always bring a headlamp.

josh-taylor-in-tent-with-computerThis trip is full of twists and turns, but everything seems to go well. Cancelled my trip to Arizona as the Grand Canyon, Sedona and the other cool places were having thunderstorms. So hey, I thought I might as well see a natural wonder right here in Oregon-Crater Lake. The site was pretty much how I’d expected it, but like a lot of epic sites, the photographs don’t do it justice. You just have to be there.

You have to experience it, driving by the cliffs focusing on the turns for dear life. To get out of the car, feel the wind on your face.  Then wondering what it looks like up by the rail, then once walking up, seeing it in awe for the first time.  Yes, Wizard Island, just like the photos, but the crater is huge.

To get to Crater Lake, you take Highway 97 and then Route 62 to Crater Lake.  I took I-5 from the North, then took Or-58 near Eugene, which goes to 97.  There are no campgrounds open in the fall, but you can camp by Diamond Lake nearby. If you want to backpack, you’ll need a permit.

wizard-island-trees-sapia

Start Hanging with Inspiring People

On the way to camp I picked up a couple through-hikers. Two girls in late 20s or 30s had to get back to the trail from the ranger station and hitched a ride with me. They hiked the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Stevenson, Washington. They’d just about hiked all the way through the Oregon PCT to the California border, and then they were going back home to the Midwest.  After they thanked me profusely, I thanked them in turn for inspiring me. Because it’s true, they did far more for me than I ever did by helping them a bit.

pacific-crest-crater-lake - Copy

What was it about these girls that changed me? Walk in the Woods and Wild are great stories. But meeting those who actually did it inspired me with reality. There was LIFE to them, and the fact that I got to be a small part of that story by giving them a ride made it even better.

To think, the whole world is at your fingertips. Creating your own story is what inspired the brand name of Outback Tales.

It’s not about how grand it is compared to others. You don’t have to climb Everest. Your story could be just going somewhere you haven’t gone or taking a step in your career you’re afraid of taking.

What stories can you share?  What new stories lay ahead?  Follow me on Twitter or Instagram, I’d love to hear yours!

Next stop: Central Oregon Desert and Three Sisters Wilderness.

 

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