Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Austria: A Most Extraordinary City

I spent only a couple of days in Salzburg, but it was long enough to realize that Salzburg is a most extraordinary city.  It’s a fantastic mix of ancient architecture and modern-day cosmopolitan conveniences. The food is delicious and the people extremely friendly. Honestly, there is nothing I didn’t like about the city, except for…

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The view from Neuschwanstein Castle

Bier, Brats, and Beauty in Munich Germany

I only spent two days in Munich, but it left a lasting impression on me. The grander of the Alps, the many shades of green, the opulent castles, the delicious food, and helpful people, all left me wishing I could stay longer. It may have only been a stop-over on my way to Austria, but the bier, brats and beauty of Munich Germany will bring me back.

The Alps

It took us about an hour until we were outside of the city and passing beautiful green farm fields, giant windmills and starting to see glimpses of spectacular mountains poking through the mist in the distance.  The closer we got to the mountains, the more excited I got. My heart was racing as I took picture after picture of the grand mountain peaks towering above charming Bavarian villages.

 

Dreamy Castles

I signed up for a day tour to visit two fairy-tale looking castles. The first stop was Linderhof, the smallest of the three royal castles built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II, who was known for being quite eccentric. He was never married and died a suspicious death at the age of 41. The palace was built in the French Rococo style and is surrounded by perfectly groomed gardens and picturesque landscaping. A large white swan swam elegantly around the glassy pond and colorful flowers lined the shore. Outside the palace was a gorgeous fountain that shot high into the air every half hour. The inside of the castle was even more impressive. Every nook and cranny was gleaming with gold plate atop extraordinary designs. The walls and ceilings were covered in murals honoring various legends or religious figures.  The color and detail was incredible! The king’s bed was especially lavish, covered in blue velvet and silk with real gold embroidery and accessories. I stared in awe and couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like to live as royalty in such a beautiful palace.

Drinking in Badgerville

My Wild Night in Badgerville, Wisconsin

I’ve had a lot of weird experiences on this cross-county motorcycle trip, but my wild night in Badgerville, Wisconsin might top them all. I spent the night in Badgerville RV Park, just off the freeway, and next to Kegonsa State Park. I was assigned a cute little spot next to the fish pond.

The neighbors

As I was setting up I met the neighbors, Dave and Tami. I couldn’t help but notice that they, and most of the RVs in the park, had decks and sheds. Turns out that instead of buying a weekend cabin like many of us do in the northwest, people in that part of Wisconsin buy a year around spot to park their RVs, and then they proceed to customize it with decks, fences, sheds, and so on. As a result, most of the weekend residents know each other. They also have their own golf carts just for driving around the RV park.

The bar

Next to the office was a cute little bar, and I had some computer work to do that required WIFI, so I figured that was as good of a spot as any to get my work done. I sat there working for about 2 hours and it was nonstop entertainment. I met Jan, who had lived in the park for 15 years! She was the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. I also met Big Joe, a large guy with a fun sense of humor. who insisted on buying me a drink, and another drink, and another….

Arches National Park

Motorcycle Trip to Twin Falls, Arches, and Zion National Park

Riding though Zion National Park, I found it hard to concentrate on the road. The vivid contrast between the red rock and the green trees made the whole place look like a living painting. There is so much beauty in the American west, and in the past week, I’ve been honored to see some of the most stunning places in the U.S., including the massive waterfalls in Twin Falls, Idaho and the breathtaking rock formations in Arches National Park.

The ride

Visiting such places on a motorcycle adds a whole new dimension to the adventure. Weather plays an important part in my journey. It’s been very hot so far on my trip. Yesterday it was 101 in Zion. To deal with it, I try to start my day very early and hydrate best I can. I have a water bladder tucked in my tank bag where I can drink from it while I ride. But sometimes the elements get to me. Traffic was stopped for an hour in Zion before the 1.1-mile-long tunnel and I had to sit there in the heat of the scorching sun and do nothing but wait. RVs that are 11.4” high or taller have to go through one at a time because they have to drive in the center of the two lanes.  As a result, traffic was backed up in both directions for about half a mile. It was brutal and by the time I got through I felt sun burned and a little dizzy.

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Day 1 of My 6,000 Mile Motorcycle Trip Across the USA

The road calls to me like a lover in the night. I’m not sure if it’s an addiction, desire, or need, but nature beckons me, and so I must go. I didn’t put a whole lot of planning into this trip, which is very unlike me. Perhaps it’s because I was so busy selling my possessions and cleaning out my house, or perhaps it was just that I wanted to feel free of a schedule for once. Whatever the reason, I have an idea of my route, but like most things in life, it is subject to change.

Day 1: La Center to Pendleton

I left my home at about 10:00 this morning after handing over the keys of my house to my new tenants. I had intended to leave earlier, but the late start actually meant that I missed the early morning rain. I’m also fighting a cold, or perhaps it’s just bad allergies, so I was moving a little slower than normal this morning. Finally, I had everything perfectly bungeed down and the weight distributed correctly. My leathers were cleaned and my saddle bags full. I secured my helmet and shifted into first gear. I was off on my 6,000-mile motorcycle trip. Born to Be Wild, my usual road trip song, blared in my head phones. I felt a surge of adrenaline as I got on the freeway. Finally….I was on my way!

The Ne Pali Coast of Kauai

Enjoy the Magnificent Na Pali Coast of Kauai: By Plane or by Boat

If you ever visit the magnificent island of Kauai, make sure that seeing the Ne Pali coast is high on your list of things to do.The sheer splendor of it will leave a lasting impression.

Nepali Pirates

I’m still a little sore from the boat ride, but boy was it worth it! Nepali Pirates offers a fun day cruise up the Na Pali coast that is full of thrills and spectacular beauty. The whole trip took about 5 hours and includes a bouncy ride on their Zodiac, snorkeling, and snacks.

Paradise

Many famous films have been shot on the Ne Pali coast, including Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s easy to see why. The Ne Pali coast is simply paradise. Lush green valleys and huge waterfalls sit next to gorgeous sandy beaches and incredible coral reefs. Layers of colors fill the landscape, including red rock, various shades of green from the massive rain forest, black lava rock, soft beige sand and the clear turquoise sea water.

The rain forest of Kauai

Kayaking, Hiking and Adventure with Kayak Wailua

Standing next to the 100-foot waterfall, feeling the water spraying over me, the sound was deafening. It was the day before Mother’s Day, and I couldn’t help but feel blessed with the beauty of our dear Mother Nature, and the Kayak Wailua tour is a great way to see her at her finest.

What to expect

The day began with a meet and greet with the cheerful staff at Kayak Wailua. I was excited that my daughter, Jamie, would be our guide for the day.  She explained to our group what to expect on our expedition. The tour would take about 5 hours total and would include about 5 miles of kayaking through the Wailua River and an easy one mile hike (in both directions) up to Secret Falls, called Uluwehi by the Hawaiian people.

Kayaking

The only other people in our group was a family of four from Santa Cruz with two young energetic boys. We all loaded into the shuttle and headed for the marina. While our driver unloaded the kayaks, we received some last-minute paddling instructions from Jamie and loaded up our gear. Soon we were on our way up the river. The Wailua, which means Spirit in Hawaiian, is surrounded by beautiful jungle, with tropical trees, colorful flowers and lots of interesting birds. We paddled past the Sleeping Giant, known as NouNou Mountain and Mouna Kapu, then into a narrow and overgrown area where we disembarked and began our foot excursion.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens: Majesty of my Youth

The eruption

I was 13 years old on May 18th, 1980, when Mount. St. Helens erupted. I was at church, and when we came out to leave there were funny looking clouds in the sky. They looked a bit like storm clouds, but were different, darker and much more concentrated. Many of us stopped and stared at those strange clouds in wonder.

My mom said to my dad, “Look, I bet Mt. St. Helens just blew”.

“Don’t be ridiculous”, was his response. Turns out, it wasn’t ridiculous at all.  Mt. St. Helens had indeed erupted, and she took the lives of 57 people with her. For days and weeks after the eruption, ash fell from the sky. Our little town of Vancouver, Washington, only got a few inches total, while places like Yakima were covered for weeks in ash and ran out of places to put it. She blew almost 3,000 feet off the top of what once was an almost perfectly round dome, changing the landscape of our lives forever.