Tag Archives: Exploring

A spring adventure – The Lake

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Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 04 & 05-May-2021

A big part of our plans for the week was going out to Lake Tahoe – a gorgeous outdoors mecca, that I’d visited previously to rather spectacular disaster when I broke my leg. Interestingly, Michelle’d also broken her knee there too… though she’s jumped back into skiing far more adroitly than I did… you know, since I haven’t skied again since that accident.

This was a chance for me to revisit Tahoe itself, and hopefully make a few new memories of the area. Positive ones, full of happiness and adventure!

(Ed Note: There are a few other adventures that Ben went on in Tahoe that aren’t covered in this post – specifically some hikes and cycling trips. Please see, “A spring adventure – The Rides” and “A spring adventure – The Hikes” for those photo galleries)


Tuesday, 04-May

Tuesday morning saw us get onto the road fairly quickly – Not rushed, of course, but… we were moving at a pretty reasonable time. Soon enough the morning saw us breakfasted, our cars gassed up, and the top down on the Mustang as we cruised down the highway toward the mountains.

The drive was gorgeous – instead of taking the main highway toward Squaw Valley, like Mike and I had done the last time I’d visited, we took a Southern route toward the far South end of Lake Tahoe, where Michelle’s family has a vacation house. This road was gorgeous, and absolutely perfect to drive with the top down and some good music playing… sweeping curves, tall mountains, and just enough sun to make me thankful for the sunscreen that I’d applied before we left Sacramento.

Once we arrived, we lazily got ourselves energized and started ambling around town. Lunch, then a bike ride (Ed Note: See the post titled “The Rides” for more info there) saw us back in action and feeling great. With Michelle having to step inside for a meeting, Mike and I took the chance to launch some kayaks and do a bit of river exploration.

It’s been ages since I’ve been in a rigid kayak.

I… may have forgotten just how nice it is, compared to my little inflatable dinghy. A kayak that doesn’t try to spin like a drunken top every time I paddle? A kayak with a rudder, letting me make fine course adjustments?

Yeah… I enjoyed the heck out of this trip around the lake.



After we finished out our waterborn adventures and beached the Kayaks, we spent a bit of time relaxing around the house before starting out for a bit of sightseeing. There’s a neat little bay near where we were called Emerald Bay that I’d been really excited to see – a painting of it was hanging in the livingroom back in Sacramento, so I was really excited to see the inspiration for the view.

Let me tell you – while the painting was absolutely excellent, it wasn’t quite as sweeping as the real thing.

Lake Tahoe really is beautiful… I’d only ever seen it with its winter coat on, but Mike had been telling me about how amazing it is for years. Finally being able to come back and see what he meant in person was absolutely excellent.


The rest of the evening was relaxation. We picked up a pizza, hung out at the house, did a bit of a whiskey tasting, and finally got the downtime to just be. To sit and talk, catch up, and appreciate the fact that we didn’t have anywhere to go.





Wednesday, 05-May

Wednesday dawned beautifully bright; my room was looking out over the lake, and I definitely spent a bit of time just appreciating the sun sparking off the water after I woke up (and after I put in my contacts, of course). Tahoe really is pretty, and this was yet another excellent morning on a beautifully relaxed vacation.

In counterpoint to the lazy wake-up, we actually got ourselves mobile fairly quick once we were awake – Cleaning up and closing out the house, we got ourselves moving toward Squaw in fairly short order. Unrushed, to an extent, since we did take a quick break to drive out and pick up some breakfast before we finished out the last of the chores.


Once clean and closed, we make our way North, toward Squaw valley itself…

(Ed note: From here, the adventures can be found in two places: The posts titled “The rides” and “The hikes” each have one adventure from Squaw Valley)

A Scotland Adventure – Part 10, Aberdeen the second

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Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.

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Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 01 through 03-Jan-2020

 

After returning to Skye, we ate pizza.

Seriously – we had Dominos!  It was really cool, getting to see an American staple in the UK… it was different, to be sure, but in a lot of subtle ways… different general crust styles, different names for topping sets, that sort of thing.  Overarchingly though, it wasn’t different in any major ways.  Definitely not different enough that it wasn’t the perfect food to have after a long day on the road.

 

Our last few days in Scotland were pretty low key, and extremely relaxing.  A good rest before heading back to the hectic energy of the States, you know?

We did get up to a few good adventures though – both in Aberdeen, and around the surrounding countryside!

 

In Aberdeen itself, we spent some time city-ing, walking around and seeing the sights.  Of major note were the Maritime Museum and the Tollhouse museum – both of which gave really interesting backgrounds on the history of Aberdeen, and the entire surrounding area.

The Tollhouse museum focused more on the city itself, and how it grew and flourished from feudal times into the current era.  It was really cool seeing some of the old artifacts, but one quick spoiler to anyone going to visit?  Look out for the mannequins!

 

We didn’t just spend time in Aberdeen, though – on Thursday, we headed out into the country!  We got some views in, some nice hiking, and even saw a really cool old cattle rustling hideout!  I don’t know if I should technically use that term, since it’s Scotland and not the Wild West, but the idea is the same – it was a really cool geological formation where old-timey thieves would hide their take.

A quick summary of the places we explored:

    • Queens View
    • Tomnaverie Stone Circle
    • Muir of Dinnet – Burn O’Vat area (This is the Rustling spot!)
    • Lunch at The Boat Inn – A really cool small Scottish inn, with an excellent BLT!
    • Glen Tanar & St. Lesmo’s chapel
    • Hairy Coos!
    • Cullerlie Stone Circle!

 

A Scotland Adventure – Part 6, the town of Portree

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Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.

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Sunday, 29-Dec-2019

 

On the isle of Skye, we stayed in the town of Portree.  It’s a gorgeous town, sort of windswept, but also very ocean-focused… It was sort of like Cape Cod to me, but not completely; there was a vague resemblance, sort of like a distant cousin.

The first evening we were on Skye, we went to an amazing restaurant called ScorryBreac – and had an unbelievably delicious multi-course meal, along with amazing evening views of Portree harbor.  I can’t quite remember if we walked from the house, or if we drove, but either way I do remember the evening being lovely, if a bit misty, and an excellent introduction to Skye!

An interesting quick trivia fact, the name of “Portree” has a pretty interesting history – Portree has two possible etymologies, from what we learned.  One, is the english phonetic of the Gaelic word “Port Righ”, or “Port Royal”, named after a time that King James visited the town.  The other option is “Port Ruighe”, which describes the landscape as “Slope Harbor”… either way is pretty interesting, and definition a cool trivia fact.

 

We had the chance to explore Portree pretty frequently, and got to know the town as the days rolled by.  Sarah and I had the chance to explore two areas on our own – “The Lovely Muck” and “The Lump”.  Folks on Skye just have an amazing way with words, don’t they?

The Muck is an area by the harbor, almost a tidal flood plain, where we found a few firepits and lots of in-work fishing ships.

The Lump is a peninsula jutting out into the harbor, topped off by an old apothicary’s tower and the site for Portree’s highland games!  Very beautiful, and an amazing place to see the whole town and gaze off over the water…

 

One other interesting feature of Portree – the Isles Inn.  We ended up using this Inn as something like our main base, since it was open later than most other places, and had an amazing slew of lunch options.  We all got to know the Cullen Skink specifically – “Skink” is a type of Scottish soup, very similar to Chowder, and “Cullen” is the town where the soup itself is from.  It’s really similar to clam chowder, but with smoked haddock instead of clams, and The Isles chef was an artist at making it.

Past that, Portree was simply a lovely town – small, quiet, and a beautiful place to relax and enjoy Skye!