Women Who Hike: Big Basin Redwoods State Park

I joined Women Who Hike about a year ago mainly out of interest in a group that organized hiking activities around the country. Unfortunately, this country is kind of big so many of their original events I could not attend. Luckily, they are really good at planning activities in so many different areas, so it’s just a matter of time before they end up near you.

The first group hike I was able to join them on was in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, an area I had always wanted to check out. Merrell partnered with Women Who Hike for this group and provided hiking shoe/boot demos, giveaways, snacks and goodie bags for all attendees. All things good. I went by myself, and was a little nervous as I typically am when meeting new people. But this group of women was so welcoming and friendly, my nerves instantly calmed down. Girls came from all over the northern California region on a rainy, foggy, sunny day. Hail even made an appearance at one point.

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Photo: Emily Kaszton

Since northern California had a very wet winter, much of this park was closed. We had to take a combination of trails to make up for some of the closed ones, but I do not feel like we missed out on what this park had to offer. We saw amazingly tall trees, the ocean in the foggy distance and as previously mentioned all sorts of weather. Unfortunately, the trails leading to waterfalls were closed. Many of the trails appear to be moderate. I look forward to getting back here and exploring more. There were lots of laughs, stories, and information exchanged. A downside to this park, in my opinion, dogs are not allowed.

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One of the greatest things about this group is in addition to organizing group hikes for girls, the members also take it upon themselves to organize hikes in their local areas. It’s easy to make friends with ladies like this. Become a member and be on the look out for hikes in the Tahoe area organized by me. Recaps will also follow.

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Photo: Emily Kaszton

What trails should I not miss when I return to Big Basin Redwoods State Park?

About Adventurette

Turning ordinary occasions into extraordinary adventures.

So many of you may not know, but I started my own business. I’ve been going back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to do a blog post about it, but I figured, why not. It’s my blog and I can write about whatever I want. So sit back and read about Adventurette and how we can help you!

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Photo: Brian Walker.

Planning a weekend away can be difficult. Between researching activities, comparing prices, reading reviews and booking, it can become quite a laborious undertaking. At Adventurette we do the planning for you. We specialize in bachelorette parties, birthday trips and girls getaways to Lake Tahoe. Let us take care of organizing everything from lodging, activities, day trips and nightlife, down to dining and transportation.

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Photo: Brian Walker.

Lake Tahoe is unique with an abundance and variety of world-class outdoor activities and a top notch nightlife to match. Winter offers skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Summers are filled with endless activities such as hiking, mountain biking, boat charters, kayaking, SUP, rock climbing, ATV tours and horseback riding. For our more indoor-adventurers, we offer spa packages, spin classes, yoga, shopping and relaxing beach retreats. Bachelorette parties don’t have to skimp on the traditional fun during this adventure. We can arrange VIP bottle service at any of the local nightclubs for a 24/7 party.

We can accommodate parties of a variety of sizes. Our customizable menu lets you pick what activities your group would enjoy best. We’ve partnered up with the best businesses in Tahoe to give your group a truly memorable experience.

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Contact us today to start planning your Adventurette!

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Photo: Lauren McMillin.

On the Road Again: Kauai

So do people actually go to Hawaii and not like it? If so, I have a hard time believing that. After not having been to Hawaii in quite some time, I finally returned a few weeks ago and I’m convinced, if you can’t have a good time in here, there’s something wrong with you. There is just so much to do!

On this trip I visited the island of Kauai, appropriately nicknamed “the Garden Isle.” We stayed at the Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville. This resort was great; a short downhill walk to the beach (so yes, you’re walking uphill upon your return), a short drive to the Na Pali Coast, and close to delicious restaurants in Hanalei Bay. The one downside of this resort is that if you’re planning on doing activities in or closer to Lihue, you’re looking at a hefty drive. And nobody wants to be stuck in a car during vacation. Still worth it though.

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Things to do:

  • Wake up to watch the sunrise: Watching the sunset is easy and to be expected during your vacation. But make the extra effort to wake up a little earlier and catch the sunrise. Trust me when I say it’s worth it. Granted, it is one of my favorite things to do year round, pretty much every sunrise in Hawaii is gorgeous. I caught a few at the St. Regis Princeville Resort’s beach and Anini Beach. And in the car. kauai-2
  • Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse: Although we didn’t actually get to go in (we arrived once before it was open and once when it was about to close) this was still a great spot for some photos and whale watching. kauai-3
  • Check out Wailua Falls: A very accessible viewing area allows this to be a quick stop if that’s what you choose. Expect small crowds, but excessive traffic. The parking area is small and many people are hopping out and then back in their vehicles. kauai-4
  • Hike around Waimea Canyon: Even if you just go to the lookout (like I admittedly did this time) the views are worth it. The next time I go to Kauai I will be taking at least a day to hike and explore this area. kauai-5
  • Hike the Na Pali Coast: If you don’t have time to do the entire trail (11 miles one way) or don’t want to exert yourself that much, try the Kalalau trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach. The hike is four miles round trip. Bring plenty of water and have lots of free space on your camera (you’re gonna need it). Even if you are an experienced hiker, or come from altitude (hi.), don’t let the terrain fool you. It is challenging and steep in places. Take your time. Enjoy the views. This is not an experience you want to rush. Oh and if you go during whale season there’s a good chance you’ll see whales. We did!
  • Play golf: Puakea Golf Course is super affordable. The first couple of holes aren’t that scenic as it starts in a residential area, but halfway through the front nine the course opens up to really pretty holes. The lady in pro shop is kind of rude, but the rest of the staff is friendly and helpful. Note: Even if you specify how many rental sets you need you might run into some problems. My sister and I were forced to share a set. Fortunately, we don’t mind.  kauai-6
  • Go on a day sail: My family loves boats. We always try to do a day sail when we go on vacation. We chose a Na Pali Coast sail with Blue Dolphin Charters. Although it was a little chilly on the day we went, it was still beautiful. We went snorkling, drank some beverages and saw some breathtaking views. The staff could not have been nicer. I definitely recommend this company for friendliness and experience. And we saw whales! It was a good day.
  • Fly in a helicopter: A helicopter tour is a must while you’re on this island. Hello, the Jurassic Park waterfall is here and is not accessible by land! There are several different charters to choose from. We chose Safari Helicopters and couldn’t be happier that we did. Their staff is funny, friendly and helpful. We were given the choice to cancel our tour the original day we booked due to weather and the staff was pretty honest about rescheduling if we could. Fortunately, we could and boy are we glad we did! We had perfect weather and views. Even our pilot commented on how clear the day was.
  • Go snorkeling: All of the beaches in Hawaii are gorgeous. But not all are safe for snorkeling. Head to Tunnels Beach with your gear for lots of fish and maybe if you’re a lucky a stingray or a barracuda. Grab some shave ice and enjoy a day at a gorgeous beach.
  • Take a dip in the Queen’s Bath: Note: This area is not recommended by any tour companies or the visitors bureau as it is very dangerous. However, if you’re smart and pay attention to the water levels and tides (which can change quickly) it is a gorgeous spot for a quick visit. Expect a steep, short hike down and slippery rocks depending on the weather. Walk as close to the treeline as possible for extra precaution. kauai-15

Places to eat & drink:

  • Happy Talk: This bar and lounge is located at the Hanalei Bay Resort which made things super convenient, but is not actually associated with the resort so you cannot charge things to your room. We still frequented this place as the food and service were both outstanding. Try the coconut shrimp, ahi poke, and the guava & brie pizza. My go to drink here was a mai tai.
  • Kauai Juice Co: My goodness I love juice. This place was such a good find. Whether you’re looking for a more hearty breakfast drink, something with coffee or just plain juice, they have it all. My top recommendations are: Avatar, Sexy Baby Maker, Best Breakfast, Selfie, and Omega This. Plus their packaging and merchandise is on point. I seriously love this place.
  • The Dolphin: We stumbled upon this riverside restaurant after catching the sunset. A slight wait was anticipated and to be expected. Everything was worth the wait! If the only available seating is in the sushi lounge, don’t let that scare you, they serve the full menu in all areas of the restaurant. If you go for dinner I recommend the teriyaki ahi. We ended up coming back here for drinks and snacks later in the week. I don’t think you can go wrong here.
  • The Shrimp Station: After a long day of hiking and exploring the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon swing by the shrimp station and order a plate of the garlic shrimp & the coconut shrimp. Pop in the shop next door for a fresh coconut to wash everything down.
  • Kalypso Island Bar & Grill: Open for three meals a day, we went for dinner and went back later in the week for breakfast. This bar has one of the best environments for watching games and the food is outstanding. For dinner I recommend the crab-crusted fresh island fish. We took our leftovers and had them the next day – still good. For breakfast you have to try the mac-nut banana fosters pancakes. They’re unreal. The blackened mahi-mahi eggs benedict were also a big hit.
  • Keoki’s Paradise: This spot in Poipu takes the “Garden Isle” feel into their restaurant with a full blown garden and a pond. A great spot for drinks or a light snack the friendly staff is ever accommodating. And while you’re here you have to try the Hula Pie.
  • Duke’s: Located on the water, we came for sunset and were lucky enough to score a front row table. The view did not disappoint. Try an island beverage, the coconut shrimp and ahi poke.
  • Kauai Island Brewing: This brewery is everything I would want from an island brewery. Open air, a fun laid back atmosphere and great beers. The top Fred family choices? West Side Wheat, Lilikoi Ale, Captain Cook’s IPA and Pakala Porter.
  • Bar Acuda: We stopped by because of the alluring name after a day at the beach and quickly realized we were under-dressed. The staff was ever understanding and accommodating and arranged for us to enjoy our cocktails on their back porch. Everything was so impressive we made a dinner reservation for later in the week. Their tapas menu is amazing. Try the honeycomb, scallop, lamb riblettes, and short rib. For drinks I recommend the Cloud 9, Smoke & Ginger, and of course the Mai Oh Mai Tai.
  • If you’re in Lihue and in need of some caffeine to wake up, stop by Ha Coffee Bar. Their cold brew is amazing. On Saturday mornings you can score some perfect sunrise shells from the locals who collect, trade and sell them.

Full disclosure: I tried ahi poke and a mai tai at every restaurant we went to. My favorite mai tai goes to Happy Talk. And the best ahi goes to The Dolphin.

Oh and drink all the local beers. They’re delicious.

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The next time I visit this island I will be hiking pretty much the whole time. What are some trails that I shouldn’t miss?

 

On the Road Again: NYC

“New York has romanced me unlike anything else.” ~ Blake Lively.

I know people are crazy about New York City, I however, am not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, it is an experience and I recommend everyone go at least once in their lifetime. But if I had to pick a place to visit over and over again, quite frankly, this would not be it. That being said, there is something truly magical about this city at Christmas time. And if I am to go, it will always be during this season.

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Fact: I love holidays (yes, all of them) and Christmas is near the top of my list of favorites. So the lights and activity of the city appeal to me during this time of year. Take a walk to Rockefeller Center and see the big Christmas tree. Watch the skaters on the ice rink. Enjoy the Christmas displays, music and sense of magic in the air. I told you I like holidays.

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If you’re going to take one night to splurge, enjoy cocktails and appetizers at Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room. This gorgeous cocktail lounge overlooks the entire city thanks to floor to ceiling windows. Craft cocktails and a fine dining experience make this an excellent choice for a fine night out.

While we’re on the topic of splurging, everyone must see a Broadway musical. There is truly nothing like this experience. No matter your tastes, you will have a good time. I have seen a few and it is something I am always interested in doing again every time I visit. There are also plenty of choices so if you want a comedy, a love story or even a children’s classic, you will find something your whole group can agree on.

One of my favorite things to do every time I visit NYC is to take a stroll through Central Park. Even if I only have a short amount of time. In actuality, I could spend hours here. I feel like this quote sums it up perfectly: “And the most unusual and surrealistic place in New York City is Central Park.” ~ Christo. Seriously, there is this whole naturalness surrounded by skyscrapers and a bustling city. It kind of blows my mind. I am so thankful it has been so well preserved and kept up. If you have the time, get a little lost and explore everything. You never know what you might see here.

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Another interesting part of the city is Brooklyn. It’s a great place to find an airbnb and use as your home base. There are a ton of quaint restaurants and the Brooklyn Bridge Park is an idyllic place to spend a few hours.

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All in all, New York City is certainly not the worst place to visit. It just doesn’t hold a spell over me the way it seems to do with a lot of people. Personally, I prefer the mountains. What are some of your must dos in NYC?

 

 

 

On the Road Again: Austin

What do you do when your little brother turns 30? Go surprise him for his birthday of course! He lives in Austin, and I had never been there. I did not get to spend enough time there, but this city is fun and I can’t wait to go back! Here are some places you should check out if you find yourself there.

Geraldine’s Austin: This swanky bar has live music, a rooftop pool, craft cocktails and a great menu. This is where his surprise party was. The staff was excellent and accommodating. It was one of the best atmospheres I’ve come across and one of the best views.

If you’re looking for some exercise the Barton Creek Greenbelt offers hiking trails and swimming. About a mile up the trail you’ll find Campbell’s Holes, natural water slides and swimming holes – a great place to spend a few hours. At Zilker Park ,the Barton Springs Pool is a large natural swimming pool. Grab some pool floats, drinks and spend an afternoon enjoying the sun. It’s also a great way to beat the heat and humidity.

Obviously, Austin has great barbecue. There are too many places to check out in a few short days there. We chose Iron Works BBQ. The red checkered table clothes and casual atmosphere attributed for a perfect environment for us to stuff our faces. Try a barbecue plate with your choice of meat (all are tasty) and their potato salad is not to be missed.

Austin also has a plethora of food trucks. A great one for breakfast is Paperboy. Try a cold brewed coffee and the sweet potato hash. Both are delicious. And if you’re feeling really crazy their fresh squeezed OJ is also obviously great.

If you’re looking for a good bar crawl, look no further than 6th Street. The bars feature beer pong, craft beers, a giant jackelope and of course live music. If you don’t have fun here, check your pulse.

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So there’s a quick recap of places I would recommend. I know it’s not many, but like I said, it was a quick trip. But Austin showed me such a good time I will be heading back. What are some of your Austin recommendations?

 

 

On the Road Again: Victoria, BC

On the annual Fred fam trip to Seattle we try to do and experience as many new things as possible. This year we decided to make the trek to Victoria, British Columbia. First of all, I’m going to let it be known that I love Canada. Love Canada. Always have, always will. Who will marry me for dual citizenship? For reals though.

Anyways, we hardly even scratched the surface of Vancouver Island, but had a great time in Victoria none-the-less. We took the ferry over from the Seattle harbor and it was easy, equipped with wi-fi and a gorgeous boat ride. We left early morning and arrived early afternoon in Canada. After breezing through customs we set out to explore the city on a somewhat rainy day. We walked the streets until we found a restaurant that peeked our interest.

Bard & Banker was right up our alley. This former bank turned pub serves excellent pub faire and a stellar beer selection. They offer nightly live music and an atmosphere unlike most other restaurants. Try the charcuterie board sandwich, calamari, grilled naan flatbread, fish & chips and the truffle popcorn. Their beer flights are an excellent accompaniment to any meal.

One thing high on our to-do list was whale watching. My sister and I booked a tour with Prince of Whales for an early morning tour. Although we did not see any humpback whales we saw a plethora of killer whales. Several pods, both resident and transient. We had whales swimming right under our boat and popping up right next to us. It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. They equip you with warm gear to keep you safe and obviously, warm. It was quite chilly the day Lauren and I went. If you have the time, I highly recommend this adventure.

Since it was quite rainy when we went, we also spent quite a bit of time at the Royal Museum. This museum has one of the best natural history displays I’ve ever seen. You can walk through old ships and villages and literally take a trip back in time. Not to mention their Mammoth display is hands down the best I’ve ever seen. Yes, I’m a nerd and I honestly love museums, especially ones that focus on natural history. Their displays were so lifelike though, I’ve tricked people into thinking I took photos of the animals with an actual camera in the wild, and not my phone in a museum.

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For dinner with a view, check out Vista 18. Located on the 18th floor of the Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites they have live music and a great menu. Some recommendations are the scallops and Vista 18 green salad. For dinner they allow you to choose your protein or meat and then choose your sauce. This was such an interesting concept that really allows the guest to experience a great meal, but still enjoy their own personal tastes and flavors.

If you’re looking for lodging, the Delta Hotel Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort is top notch. Picture perfect views of the harbor, a great hotel bar (LURE), spa and comfortable rooms. This hotel is a quick walk to the main downtown area or an easy cab ride to other attractions.

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Another fun stop is the Six Mile Pub & Eatery. British Columbia’s oldest pub, it started as a hotel with a tap room in 1855. Take the time to walk around the establishment and read about the history. Check out the old beer cans. A great menu of craft beers and excellent pub faire teamed with a great view (it sits on a river) make this a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

I can’t wait to go back to Victoria and Vancouver Island. What are some of your suggestions for this area?

On the Road Again: 395

In my previous post I mentioned that I take Hwy 395 to San Diego when I go. This is one of the most beautiful roads I think I’ve ever driven. You could probably spend a week plus driving this road and exploring all the offshoots and sights nearby. Yosemite, June Lake, Mt. Whitney and other popular camping, hiking and fishing sites are just off of this popular drive.

One of my favorite quick stops is Mono Lake. Tufa towers, sagebrush and Jeffrey pines create a lake unlike most others in the US. There are trails for hiking/walking, bird watching, boating in the summer months, and sunset tours. If you’re interested in a longer stay, there’s no shortage of fun.

Another cool half day stop is Bodie Ghost Town. This once booming mining town now looks like it was the site of the apocalypse. Inside buildings you can see stocked goods, furniture, gym equipment and photographs that were left with the town. On a slow day you might get some creepy vibes. It is easy to spend several hours meandering around this ghostly town. It is dog friendly, but dogs must be on a leash. The park is open year round, but due to snow in the winter it is difficult to access (think snowmobiles, snowshoes and cross country skis). Even in the warmer months the road needs to be taken very slowly as a lot of it is not paved. Currently, the park is closed due to a recent earthquake in Hawthorne, NV.

Another must stop on this drive is Erick Schat’s Bakery for a freshly baked goodie and/or a gourmet sandwich. Their smoothies and coffees are also quite good. 395

What are your favorite stops on 395?