The 52 Hike Challenge: Our Family Goal for 2016

A park in the center of town is centered around the natural beauty of two lakes and stabilized dunes. Along the trails are many viewing areas of the lakes with benches to sit and watch wildlife. It is our favorite place for a little exercise – mostly because it is so close – but it also provides a sense of solitude.

Hike #7 Saint Perpetua Trail, Cape Perpetual Scenic Area

Hike #7 Saint Perpetua Trail, Cape Perpetua

The kids accompanied me on a run this afternoon, they on their bikes and I in my kicks. While they took turns choosing which direction to turn each time we came to a fork in the trail, my daughter remarked, “I just love Oregon. I am so glad we moved back. There is such diversity here.” I couldn’t agree more.

An active lifestyle has always been an important part of our life. We have enjoyed outings as a family since the kiddos were infants and we pushed them in a stroller. Now that we are back in Oregon, it seems we have more time together as a family. More time to devote to the activities we enjoy doing together.

Family Goals

In a family meeting some weeks ago, we had discussed our goals for the new year. We each outlined what we hoped to accomplish and the challenges we set for ourselves as individuals. In addition, we talked about our goals as a family. I have outlined a couple of them for you below.

52 Hike Challenge: #8 Simpson Beach Coast Trail, Cape Arago State Park

Hike #8 Simpson Beach Coast Trail, Cape Arago State Park

What projects did we want to undertake in our new home?

–> Pay off our mortgage (acquired in October) as soon as possible … this is why I am substitute teaching

–> Geneva wants to utilize the raised beds in our backyard to plant a vegetable garden

— > Jeffrey wants to landscape our front yard

How do we plan to stay physically fit and mentally alert?

–> I want to begin running again

–> Go camping more often

— > Hike 52 different trails

52 Hike Challenge: Hike #9 Cape Arago Pack Trail, Cape Arago State Park

Hike #9 Cape Arago Pack Trail, Cape Arago State Park

52 Hike Challenge

There it is … 52 hikes. Essentially one hike every week. This coming weekend will mark the conclusion of the thirteenth week of the year. However, we’ve completed only nine hikes (we agreed each hike must be at least 1 mile in length to be counted) thus far.

January and February, as expected on the Oregon coast, were pretty wet. We thereby didn’t get out every weekend. There was also a swim meet in Eugene and illnesses which kept us busy or otherwise obligated. As the weather improves, however, we hope to knock off 2-3 on some weekends.

One of the things I love best about our hiking adventures – beside the unexpected encounters (wildlife, mudholes, fallen trees, etc.) and the destinations for which we aim (the views of the coast from the highest point at Cape Perpetual and the WW2 bunkers at Cape Arago) – are the learning experience it provides once we have returned home.

Each Friday, I ask the kids to select one thing that sparked their interest on the last hike to record in their nature journals. I am always fascinated to discover what they found of interest.  Roosevelt Elk and Fall Mushrooms have been my favorites thus far.

My daughter has also started a YouTube channel, Werifesteria, that highlights some of the trails we’ve hiked. She loves to take photos (particularly macros of fungi) and to put together slideshows. I have shared her first video above.

Werifesteria ~ To wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery

In addition, my son hopes to earn a merit badge in hiking this year. To accomplish this goal, we need to hike three 10-mile hikes, one of 15 miles, and one 20 miles.

To learn more about the trails and options in our region, we have also joined a local hiking club. We will be joining them this coming weekend for a hike we’ve never done before. It will be nice to go with a guide.

I’ll keep you posted periodically on our progress. I would also love to hear about the trails you love. I keep a bucket list of trails and scenic areas to explore when we travel.

Whale Watching on the Oregon Coast

A few months ago, I shared a number of Great Spots to Watch Oregon’s Winter Storms. But winter storms are not the only thing that draws the crowds to our shoreline. Gray whales, which migrate farther than any mammal on Earth, can also be observed and volunteers all along the coast are eager to share their knowledge with you. Whale watching takes place almost year-round on the Oregon Coast.

Whale Migration

Each winter in the warm waters of Mexico, gray whales give birth, nurse their calves, rest and play before their long journey north in spring. They swim 5,000 miles along the Pacific coast from Mexico to the waters of the Arctic. The trip ends in the nutrient-rich feeding grounds of the Bering Sea in Alaska. In fall, they travel back to Mexico again to complete a round trip annual journey of 10,000 miles.

DepoeBayWe enjoyed a little weekend getaway this past weekend, driving north along Highway 101 to Newport. We stopped at numerous scenic points along the way to observe the waves crashing on rocky shoreline. In Depoe Bay, we visited with the Oregon Parks and Recreation volunteers who helped us to spot the gray whales migrating offshore.

The first phase (non-calves) of the northbound gray whale migration appears to have peaked and the second phase (moms with babies) is just beginning – just in time for Spring Whale Watch Week, March 19 – 26.

Whale Anatomy

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay was constructed during the postwar period designed to serve the rapidly increasing ranks of the motoring public, while taking advantage of a unique scenic vista—the world’s smallest navigable harbor at Depoe Bay.

While here, we also took time to enjoy the touch tables and pictorial history inside the center. What fascinated me most was the whale ear bone pictured here.

whaleearbone

In land mammals, the fleshy pinna or the outside part of the ear helps collect sound and funnel it into the ear. That works because the acoustical properties of the air and flesh are different, so sound  gets channeled into the ear canal where it vibrates the eardrum and the ossicles (or ear bones).

In water, the acoustical properties of flesh and water are pretty similar, therefore the fleshy outside part of the ear serves no function. Though hearing in baleen whales is not well understood, in toothed whales, instead of sound coming in through the ear canal, sound comes in through fatty tissues in the jaws which are attached to an acoustic funnel. Scientists believe that the ossicles vibrate this fluid-filled inner ear.

whalebaleen

Baleen whales like the Grey Whale do not have teeth, instead they have 130 to 180 baleen plates that hang down each side of their upper jaws, like a fringed curtain. The plates are made out of fingernail-like material called keratin, the same substance found in human fingernails and hair. It makes the baleen strong, but still flexible.

Baleen is a filter-feeder system inside the mouths of baleen whales. The baleen system works when a whale opens its mouth underwater and the whale takes in water. The whale then pushes the water out, and animals such as krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as food source for the whale.

Inside the center, there was also a display that discussed how man has hunted the whale in the past for oil and baleen. It provided a fascinating reflection of how man has impacted our natural resources and how times have changed.

depoewildlifeOther Wildlife

Whales are not the only wildlife one can observe here at the Whale Watching Center. In addition to the whales we glimpsed with spotting scopes, we also observed the following at wayside viewing center:

  • Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani
  • Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala
  • Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus
  • Several species of gulls
  • Ground Squirrel – species yet unidentified, but resembles Belding Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus beldingi)

Whale Watching Sites

Beginning north and traveling south along highway 101, the following locations are excellent view points from which to watch for whales.

  • Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, Cape Disappointment State Park
  • Neahkahnie Mountain, south of Cannon Beach
  • Cape Meares State Park
  • Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
  • The Whale Watching Center, Depoe Bay
  • Cape Foulweather
  • Cape Perpetua Stone Shelter
  • Sea Lion Caves Viewpoint
  • Umpqua River Whale Watching Station
  • Shore Acres State Park
  • Cape Arago State Park
  • Face Rock State Park
  • Battle Rock Wayfinding Point
  • Cape Sebastian
  • Klamath Overlook

For more detailed information on Whale Watching, download the brochure from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Great Spots to Watch Oregon’s Winter Storms

Having lived in the Redding for the past four years (in the midst of a severe drought), we are delighted to be back on the Oregon coast. We’re smack dab in the middle of peak storm season and it is fun to catch the fury of the Pacific as the waves and wind crash into the shoreline.Great Spots to Watch Oregon's Winter Storms @WellTraveledFamily.net

On the Oregon Coast south of Depoe Bay, there is a rocky outcropping called Cape Foulweather. It was named by Captain James Cook as he searched for a passage to the Atlantic Ocean. Though his quest was not successful, winter storms on the Oregon Coast can be most certainly be foul. It is a perfect place to watch Oregon’s Winter Storms.

A little storm science

Peak winter storm season typically runs from November through March. While it doesn’t tend to get cold enough to snow here thanks to the warming influence of the Pacific, our mild winter weather is punctuated by spectacular storms featuring high winds and heavy rain that roll in from the ocean.

In the winter, the eastward-flowing atmospheric river of air known as the jet stream intensifies and moves south, pushing rain-bearing weather systems along with it. These storms form over the ocean, typically where warm and cold air masses collide.

Beginning this week, meteorologists have predicted a train of winter storms approaching our coastline. Varying in intensity and location, the storms will hit every one to three days with waves of drenching rain, heavy mountain snow and gusty winds.

Where to watch

Perfect high spots from which to view spectacular surf include Rocky Creek Scenic Viewpoint near Depoe Bay, the viewpoint at the lighthouse at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, multiple spots at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area south of Yachats, and Shore Acres State Park near Charleston.

  1. Seaside
  2. Ocean Front Cabins near Tillamook Bay (503) 842-6081
  3. Tyee Lodge in Newport (541) 265-8953
  4. Coos Bay
  5. Sunset Oceanfront Lodge in Bandon (541) 347-2453

If you choose to experience the full wrath of a winter storm, safety should be your first concern. Some storms are simply too dangerous for beach walks, so be sure to heed all safety warnings issued by the authorities. If you do venture out, stay up high out of the reach of sneaky storm waves. They can always reach further up the beach than you think and sneaker waves can be deadly.

If you prefer to watch frothy waves and horizontal rain as you sip hot chocolate by a wood fire, then snuggle up comfortably – here are our top picks for places to watch these storms in Oregon.

After the storm

One of the great bonuses of coastal storms is the exceptional beachcombing that can often be done after the storm has subsided. All kinds of fascinating debris is more likely to be found after a storm, including glass Japanese fishing floats, tsunami debris left over from the 2011 tsunami, and interesting biological specimens wrenched from the depths of the ocean.

I once found cigar-shaped egg cases on the beach near Depoe Bay. I brought them to the lab at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and was able to watch the embryos of Pacific Squid develop.

Storm-watching season has just begun. Make your reservations now to catch an Oregon Coast storm from a cozy cabin or waterfront lodge.

Don’t forget your rain gear! ?

Discovering Peru: Lima – The City of the Kings

When we departed Cusco, bid adieu to our International Expedition guides, Harvey y Miguel, and continued on to Lima. We were greeted at the airport by another IE representative who led us to our hotel. Most of our tour group would be departing for home the following day. We would be staying a couple extra nights on our own.

We discovered that we enjoy traveling with a group but also enjoy the flexibility and spontaneity that traveling alone provides. We wanted to see Lima – but we didn’t have any solidified plans or an agenda of any kind. We just wanted to relax and allow opportunity to present itself.

Lima: Ciudad de los Reyes @WellTraveledFamily.netLa Ciudad de los Reyes

Lima is the capital and the largest city of Perú. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes, Lima is a fascinating city and a treasure trove of history.

Here tourists can explore ancient Incan archeological sites, stroll through the elegant cathedrals and palaces dating from Spanish colonial times, explore one of the many shopping areas, or spend the day at the beach.

Things to Do in Lima

  • Cathedral of Lima
  • Museo Larco
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Huaca Pucllana
  • Historic Center of Lima
  • Parque de la Reserva
  • Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco

wongmarketAfter a fast paced and exhausting tour first of the Galápagos and then Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, we wanted nothing more than to nap. We thereby didn’t venture far from our hotel, the Swissotel. I know – very sad considering all there is to do in the capital city.

We went for a couple of walks around the neighborhood to stretch our legs, enjoyed browsing the aisles at a local grocery, and caught up in our journals. We also found a wonderful pizzeria – where we actually dined twice. I don’t know if it was their pizza or their sangría that brought us back.

cirquedusoleilCirque du Soleil

One of the adventures that life presented during our stay in Lima was the opportunity to see a Cirque du Soleil performance. The company was on tour, presenting Corteo, a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

This was a fabulous introduction for the kids to the dramatic performances for which the company is well known. When we were shopping at a local mall the following day, we were able to see the magnificent costumes on display. Serendipitous!

Discovering Peru @WellTraveledFamily.net

This concludes my 5 day series Discovering Peru. In case you missed an earlier post,

Arriving in Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu

Ollantaytambo Temple & Peruvian Paso

Cusco – The Imperial City

travelguidesWhen we travel, I always purchase a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to familiarize myself with the country and the culture. Updated annually, each book provides a detailed description of popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and lodging options.

Each guide divides the country (or city) into color coded regions enabling quick browsing while on the road. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are comprehensive guides that provide everything to see at a location. While comprehensive, the books give just the right amount of information to spark interest in the particular sights you want to see. They are organized intelligently for the traveler, and they always provide a map.

As a special expression of gratitude to you, I am giving away one DK Eyewitness Travel Guide of choice to a lucky reader. The contest closes on the 20th of September at 12 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing. You might also be interested in my post, 5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them, on my homeschool blog.

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Discovering Peru: Ollantaytambo & the Peruvian Paso {GIVEAWAY}

After our final delectable meal at the Inkaterra, we boarded the train and began our trek back to Cusco. I’d awoken with a terrible tummy ache. In fact, as I recall, I’d gone to bed not feeling so well. I thereby abstained from eating anything; drinking only one cup of Muña tea. {I wish I could find this tea in the states.} I wasn’t looking forward two the long journey with gastro-intestional issues.

Fortunately, by the time we arrived at Ollantaytambo – an Incan temple that had not been completed – I was feeling myself again. Well enough, in fact, to bound up the steps behind Jeffrey.

OllantaytamboTempleOllantaytambo Temple

The Ollantaytambo Temple is located in the city of the same name, some 60 kilometers northwest of Cusco. During the Inca Empire, the temple was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region and built the town. At the time of the Spanish conquest, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance.

As we walked about the site, Harvey pointed out numerous architectural points of interest. When we reached the top, we had a magnificent view of the pueblo below, including the agricultural fields.

ollantaytamboIn town, the roads were amass with people. There was a festival taking place and as a result, the roads were blocked. We weren’t able to get through and thus were advised to stay near the bus just in case a last minute opportunity arose.

We managed to do a little shopping – I bought a watercolor painting and Geneva bought an oil on velvet painting. Both were are a peculiar size, so custom framing will likely be necessary.

After about an hour of delay, Harvey decided to have us walk through the crowds across town to two small vans he had arranged to meet us on the other side. There was so much going on in town – we wish we had done so earlier and to take in some of the festivities. This is one drawback of traveling with a group – you are forced to adhere to another’s schedule and unable to allow for spontaneity.

OllantaytamboPuebloWayra Ranch

We boarded the vans – assured that our luggage would make it’s way to our hotel in Cusco before our arrival – and soon thereafter arrived at Wayra, a ranch-style resort where we were to have lunch. The barbecue lunch at Wayra Ranch took place on the garden-view terrace located across the field from the stable.

Our meal was served family style with several courses: salad, empanadas, breads, potatoes, corn, tamales, beef kabobs, salmon and trout, and an assortment of postres for dessert. There was so much food and everything was delicious!

peruvianpasoThe Peruvian Paso

After our meal, we found a seat on the grass to enjoy a performance of the Peruvian Paso, is a breed of light pleasure saddle horse known for its smooth ride. It is distinguished by a natural, four-beat, lateral gait called the paso llano. They also put more weight on their hind legs and thereby kick up their front legs higher.

As the world’s horsemen moved from naturally gaited horses to trotting horses, the Peruvians continued to esteem and breed their naturally gaited “Caballo Peruano de Paso”. The Peruvian Paso horse descended from the bloodstock which was introduced to Peru from the Spanish, who at the time were the foremost horse breeders in the world.

Much to Jeffrey’s delight, he was able to ride one of the horses around a little. Geneva was content to stroke their neck.

We departed a short time later and continued our journey through the Urubamba or Sacred Valley. Originally, we were to have a few hours in the marketplace but due to the unforeseen delay in Ollantaytambo, we only had twenty minutes. Rather than do much shopping, I enjoyed speaking with the locals – meeting a young boy who spoke English quite well. He was delighted to learn we were from California and shared that he had had a teacher from California in the past. peopleofperuAlong the way, we caught a glimpse of an unusual lodging option. Suspended 400 feet above the valley are three capsules that resemble like airstream trailers. These transparent sleeping pods are crafted from aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate, giving each visitor a 300 degree view of the valley below. I’m very pleased that IE didn’t arrange for our lodging here.

Discovering Peru @WellTraveledFamily.netJoin me tomorrow as we return to Cusco – The Imperial City. Be sure not to miss the other posts in this 5 day series:

Arriving in Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu

Lima – The City of the Kings (coming Friday)

travelguidesWhen we travel, I always purchase a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to familiarize myself with the country and the culture. Updated annually, each book provides a detailed description of popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and lodging options.

Each guide divides the country (or city) into color coded regions enabling quick browsing while on the road. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are comprehensive guides that provide everything to see at a location. While comprehensive, the books give just the right amount of information to spark interest in the particular sights you want to see. They are organized intelligently for the traveler, and they always provide a map.

As a special expression of gratitude to you, I am giving away one DK Eyewitness Travel Guide of choice to a lucky reader. The contest closes on the 20th of September at 12 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing. You might also be interested in my post, 5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them, on my homeschool blog.

Hopcotch2015

Discovering Peru: Arriving in the Sacred Valley {GIVEAWAY}

We had a connecting flight from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima, Perú at the conclusion of our tour of the Galápagos Islands. Only two other couples continued on with us – Gary & Rebecca (from Alaska) and Rick & Karen (from Southern California). As we arrived late in the evening, International Expeditions (IE) set us up in a hotel directly across from the airport for the night.

We were able to literally walk out the door at customs, cross the street, and enter the door of the hotel. What a convenience!

Relatively early, we woke and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast buffet in the hotel lobby. Thereafter, we joined up with our Galápagos groupies and a IE representative to make our way back to the airport for our flight to Cusco.

cuscotracksCusco

A city in southeastern Perú, Cusco is located near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range (affectionately called the Sacred Valley).

The site was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th into the 16th century until the Spanish conquest. In 1983 Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has become a major tourist destination, receiving nearly 2 million visitors a year.

We arrived in Cusco in the late morning and met up with the rest of our party in baggage claim. Our IE tour guide, Harvey, then led us out to bus.

CuscoMate de Coca

While we awaited everyone – some had a little trouble with their baggage – we were given a cup of Coca tea.

Coca tea, also called mate de coca, is an herbal tea (infusion) made using the (typically raw) leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. The tea is most commonly consumed in the Andes mountain range.  It is greenish yellow in color and has a mild bitter flavor similar to green tea with a more organic sweetness.

matedecoca

I had looked all over Ecuador for this tea only to discover it is more common in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Perú.  This surprised me because the elevation of Quito at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) is nearly as high at around 11,200 ft (3,400 m).

At elevations above 9000 ft, people may begin to experience some altitude sickness symptoms.

Many Andean indigenous peoples use coca tea for medicinal purposes. Coca tea is often recommended for travelers in the Andes to prevent altitude sickness. However, its actual effectiveness has never been systematically studied.

incaweavingWeaving Demonstration

When everyone had boarded the bus, we headed out towards our hotel. As we made our way, we enjoyed a few stops along the way to take in the scenery and experience life in the Sacred Valley.

One of the stops we enjoyed most was the weaving demonstration. Granted, this was a typical tourist trap – but it was fascinating to watch the young women weave the intricate patterns into the textiles.

backloomweavingThough both men and women created textiles, it was a skill at which women of all classes were expected to be accomplished. The principal equipment was the backstrap loom for smaller pieces and either the horizontal single-heddle loom or vertical loom with four poles for larger pieces, such as rugs and blankets.

Spinning was done with a drop spindle, typically in ceramic or wood. Inca textiles were made using cotton (especially on the coast and in the eastern lowlands) or llama, alpaca, and vicuña wool (more common in the highlands) which can be exceptionally fine. Goods made using the super-soft vicuña wool were restricted and only the Inca ruler could own vicuña herds.

naturaldyesI also very much enjoyed learning about the natural dyes they use to create the variety of colors. The principal colors used in Inca textiles were black, white, green, blue, yellow, orange, purple, and red.

These colors came from natural dyes which were extracted from plants, minerals, insects, and molluscs. Colors also had specific associations, for example, red was equated with conquest, rulership, and blood. Green represented rainforests, the peoples who inhabited them as well as rain and its consequent agricultural growth, coca, and tobacco (blue was rarely used).

weavingpatternAfter the weaving demonstration, we made our way to the Aranwa Hotel in the Sacred Valley. Considering the length of this post already, I will save my review for another time.

Discovering Peru @WellTraveledFamily.netJoin me later this week as I share our discoveries in:

Machu Picchu (coming Tuesday)

Ollantaytambo Temple & Peruvian Paso (coming Wednesday)

Cusco – The Imperial City (coming Thursday)

Lima – The City of the Kings (coming Friday)

travelguidesWhen we travel, I always purchase a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to familiarize myself with the country and the culture. Updated annually, each book provides a detailed description of popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and lodging options.

Each guide divides the country (or city) into color coded regions enabling quick browsing while on the road. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are comprehensive guides that provide everything to see at a location. While comprehensive, the books give just the right amount of information to spark interest in the particular sights you want to see. They are organized intelligently for the traveler, and they always provide a map.

As a special expression of gratitude to you, I am giving away one DK Eyewitness Travel Guide of choice to a lucky reader. The contest closes on the 20th of September at 12 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing. You might also be interested in my post, 5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them, on my homeschool blog.

Hopcotch2015