Travel Guide: Oceanside & the Oregon Coast

I love how all my traveling outside of Portland tends to fall right in the middle of the only beautiful weather this city gets. The things we do for love.

This year’s Labor Day weekend was at least spent a 90 minute drive from our front door, in a lovely little town called Oceanside, OR. The trip out to the coast was a little rainy and beautiful, filled with shifting, billowy clouds and sweet farms. If you’re the passenger, that is. If you’re driving the view was mostly the back end of a slow moving RV. A word to the wise: Route 6  is prone to some awful car accidents, so be careful to drive safely.

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One of my favorite parts about coming to Oceanside is the relative solitude and quietness of the area. Unlike Seaside or Canon Beach, Oceanside isn’t a big tourist destination, just a sleepy little town with a single Inn and the best darn desserts for many miles. It’s also right next to Netarts Bay for crabbing and clamming. We didn’t get the chance to do it this time, but I’ve done it before and had a blast. Months with ‘R’ was the advice I got for those activities.

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The homes are quirky and offbeat, with a strong beach vibe. I loved walking my dog around the neighborhoods. We’ve stayed in a number of the vacation rental houses here and loved them all.

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You can get gorgeous views anywhere since the town was built on a steep slope to the shoreline.If you go when there’s a neap tide, you can check out Lost Boy’s Cave. Just watch out for the crabs and the rising tide.

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You’re only a few minutes away by car from one of my favorite Oregon hikes, Cape Lookout. I’ve done this trail a number of times and it never gets old. Last time we were here we saw what I believe were porpoises below us. This time it was whales.

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If you’re from somewhere like California or Florida, this isn’t your usual warm water. In fact, I always call it the coast instead of the beach for that very reason. It’s still worth it to dip your toes in though. 😉

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I hope some of you find your way over to Oceanside one day soon for a relaxing long weekend with loved ones.

Until next time!

5 Things to Do in Minneapolis

Last week I was able to fly back to Minnesota to spend time with my extended family at our semi-annual reunion. I’ve been visiting the Twin Cities on and off since I was a kid to see my Dad’s relatives and I’ve picked up enough tricks to make sure that everything goes smoothly. My last post outlined how to set yourself up for traveling success, and hopefully this one will be useful to anyone who wants to stop by the land of 10,000 lakes and the place where Garrison Keillor honed his biting passive aggression. 😉

One thing I will say is that I absolutely love Minnesota in August. I’ve been to the sandy beaches of the Caribbean and seen the sunset in Italy and nothing compares to the pleasant weather you experience on a summer day in Minneapolis. The climate is nice more often than not and if you visit around Labor Day weekend the State Fair will be in full swing. (Disclaimer: The only time I visited in the winter was before long term memories were a thing for me.)

5 Things to Do In Minneapolis

The second best tip I can give is that you really never need to rent a car while you’re there. We stayed in a pleasant room at the Best Western across the street from the Mall of America, which seemed to me to be the most centrally located structure in all the land. The Blue Line is a beautiful example of their rad public transit system (a Portland girl like me notes these things!) and we used it for almost everything, including the quick trip from airport to hotel.

According to my proud Midwestern father, Minnesota’s fair is one of the best in the country. While I don’t have too many under my belt to compare it to, I have to admit that I’ve always been impressed. I’ve made the full epic (epic like the 10-year saga of the Iliad not epic like cool) trip into that parking lot by car before on a Saturday and if I were the betting kind I’d say not even a saint would get through that experience in a good mood.

This year we checked out the many animal barns and even saw the beginnings of a calf being born (I’ll save you all the pictures of that one). There were bee experts, stunningly accurate portraits of famous people made entirely out of grains, and even a ton of STEM outreach tents for kids.

5 Things to Do in MinneapolisPlus goats in coats!

And, of course, the deep fried Twinkies.

5 Things to Do in MinneapolisMy first and last time trying these stupidly delicious trash monsters. I think they may be a sin against nature.

The Minnesota Zoo was running a special for half off admission with your fair ticket stub, which we took full advantage of the next day. I hope they do this again because it’s one of my favorite zoos of all time, and those I do have some comparisons for. If your child has ever been exposed to an animal meme on the internet this is the place for them.

5 Things to Do in Minneapolis

5 Things to Do in Minneapolis

5 Things to Do in Minneapolis

5 Things to Do in MinneapolisI think he’s saying hello!

I mentioned the ballpark franks in my last post, but if you’re at all into baseball Target Fields is a great stadium located in a beautifully walkable downtown. Football season? The US Bank Stadium looked stunning from the outside. We almost got to see the inside but the nice guy manning the entrance told us we couldn’t party crash when we tried to sneak past. I would like to clarify that it wasn’t a football game and also that it was 100% my Dad’s idea.

5 Things to Do in Minneapolis My Dad, the con artist. 😉

The last time I ended up in the area I spent a few bucks to watch horses race around in an elliptical fashion (I’m told what I did is called “gambling” but I’m skeptical given that what appeared to occur was me paying $3 for a slip of paper and the sudden urge to cheer loudly) at Canterbury Downs. I actually highly suggest it if you’re in the Shakopee area, it was a good way to have a bit of fun ribbing your family members and losing your voice on a fine afternoon.

I would not recommend going a full 4 hours out of your way just to visit the small northern town of Ada, MN on a family vacation, but I definitely would advise you to tootle around in a car if you’re able. It just so happens that quite a bit of my family settled in that area, and I’ll admit that I enjoy watching farm country zip past through the window. If you do head out to that part of the state, keep an eye peeled for the sham sign for Lake Woebegone. 🙂

Oh, and in case you were curious, walking the packing advice talk I gave in my last post was perfect! It’s even coming in handy not even a week later since we’re taking off right after work for my boyfriend’s family reunion in Oceanside, OR today.

Happy travels!

Traveling Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

This week I’ll be making the trek to a family reunion in Minnesota. I’ve been looking forward to it for months, though it’ll be tinged with some sadness since my Grandma’s health may be declining after a hip fracture this month. We’ve always been a pretty jovial group though, so I’m hoping to show her a bit of the good old family merriment.

All the family aspect aside, airline travel seems to come with so many complications and pitfalls these days that I feel like I have to prep everything down to the most minute detail. One of my most frustrating (and strangest?) quirks is that I get ravenously hungry when I travel. Like three cheeseburgers, fries, a shake, and then Panda Express just for lunch kind of hungry.

Costco Hot Dog Goodness
Okay so this is actually a picture of my biggest weakness, the Costco hot dog. You get the gist though.

Since I’ve been cleaning up my eating and getting into a regular exercise routine over the past year or so, it feels pretty cruddy to be shoving my face with fast food right at the beginning of what should be a fun and exciting adventure. Not to mention pocket-draining and nap-inducing at the most inconvenient times!

Sleeping Ella
If only we could all nap like dogs. 🙂

There are ways to make a trip go smoothly for those of you out there like me though! Here’s what I’m packing to make this a successful and healthy jaunt through the airport.

For clothing, I try to pack the exact things I will need and nothing more (except for one extra pair of unmentionables because that one is hard to fix if you’ve miscounted). I’ve found that even if I need an extra outfit one day, I’ll probably end up not needing something I packed another day. The bare minimum toiletries has always worked for me as well.

I have to stick to my exercise routine to feel like a functioning human being while on a trip, so that’s always something I take into account too. Just roll everything up and go at it like a jigsaw puzzle of clothing!

Packed Suitcase

I love to take advantage of the copious amount of entertainment that my smart phone and tablet provide. Not only are there tons of options, but it also means you don’t have to carry around extra things in your bags. Because let’s be honest, how many of us are taking more than a carry on these days?

We have Amazon Prime for the free shipping but I’m really happy with their Amazon Video App. Unlike Netflix, which we also have, it allows you to download episodes and movies so you can watch them offline. Just make sure you download everything well before it’s time to head to the airport, I wouldn’t want to rely on their WiFi!

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, my next favorite diversion tactic is my Podcast app. I always have about…three dozen podcast channels that I listen to at least somewhat actively at any given time. It offers a ton of variety and all for the low, low price of free. You can also put ebooks and audio books on your phone through your library with the Overdrive & Hoopla apps. Again, totally free. I listened to The Girl on the Train that way and it was an awesome experience.

The Girl on the Train

As a last ditch form of distraction I have a few phone games that I consider highly addictive. My favorite one to date is called Qubed and it’s a funky Tetris-style game that gives my hands something to do while listening to other things. Set is also great for the same reasons.

My last piece of entertainment advice would be to have a project to work on. Feeling productive feeds into my list making/completing personality, so I love the rewarding sensation of crossing a to-do off.

I was listening to a Cracked podcast and I learned some unsavory facts about how people actually get sick when flying. It turns out it’s not the recycled air that does the dirty deed, it’s the surfaces you touch at your seat. They just never get cleaned, which I’m sure I knew somewhere at the back of my mind given the tight turnovers I’ve seen with every flight I’ve been on.

That’s why I’m adding a disinfecting wipe or two to my packing list this time! Another pro-tip from them was to never, ever drink the plane coffee (or any water that’s not coming straight from a bottle). File that under ‘things I wish I didn’t know’ right next to how one gets pink eye and the fact that our bodies contain about the same number of bacterial cells as human ones.

My best tactic to beat the insatiable travel munchies was to just stay ahead of my hunger. That meant overnight oats at 3am on the way to the airport, a salad at what my normal breakfast time would be, a big snack I had packed, and finally an early dinner at the ballpark.

Twins Game at Target Field
The Twins still got destroyed but that is entirely beside the point on Dollar Dog day at the park with your Dad. 🙂

I hope this helps any new or less confident travelers out there! It took me a while to not feel overwhelmed when I set foot in the airport, but planning things out really does help!

I think my next post will be a traveler’s guide to the Twin Cities for all those who may be thinking of hitting up this gem in the Midwest.