Photo Friday: Pine Trees at the Lower Lewis River Falls, Oregon

Interesting view of some of the soaring pine trees at the Lower Lewis River Falls in Oregon.

Trees at the Lower Lewis River Photo Friday: Pine Trees at the Lower Lewis River Falls, Oregon

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Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins

cabin Carson Ridge Luxury CabinsHosted Accommodations



Whenever anyone describes  location as very nice but “not really fancy”, I am immediately not interested.

I like the fancy.

In fact, I love the fancy.

Bring on the fancy!

This is absolutely not a problem with the completely fabulous Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins as they have all the fancy you could possibly want.

And then some.

You might think the words luxury and cabin do not go together but at this location they do.

Believe me, they absolutely do.

When we planned our Legacy cruise with Un-Cruise Adventures on the Columbia River in October, we decided to take some extra time to see some of the Oregon area, which we had never visited. Since I am the beach lover, we included the coast but since Tom is the mountain lover, I looked for an interesting mountain location, preferably a stay in a mountain cabin. Lucky for us, I happened upon the web site for Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins and they were kind enough to work with us and arrange a stay in their perfectly exquisite Mt. Adams cabin.

I was pretty happy with our arrangements as the location online looked absolutely lovely but when we actually arrived, we realized it was going to surpass everything we had imagined. From our stay on the coast, we drove past Portland which was the embarkation point for our cruise and into Washington State through some stunningly gorgeous scenery in the Columbia River Gorge to tiny Carson, Washington. Only 45 miles east of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington and close to incredible hiking trails, waterfalls, wine tasting, fishing, and whitewater rafting, Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins is truly in an idyllic location.

We managed to drive right past the location first as the sign is a little difficult to see but we found it on our next drive by.

Sign Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins

Turn here for the most fabulous cabins you will ever experience!

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Photo Friday: Columbia River

Sunset and mountain view as we cruise along the Columbia River on our Un-Cruise Adventures trip.

Mountains and sunset on cruise Photo Friday: Columbia River

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Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Sunset at Haystack Rock

Oregon slapped us in the face.

Just slapped us in the face, shook us hard, and said “You think you know Oregon? You know nothing”.

It was probably when Tom commented that the GPS couldn’t possibly be right when it said we were five minutes from the beach because geez we are in the middle of the mountains and then hey! there was the beach with the mountains literally not even stopping but just heading right down into the water that we thought huh.

Beach Scene Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Beach at Ecola State Park

We don’t know a damn thing about Oregon.

We knew to expect rain forests. We knew that. We had been to Seattle and to British Columbia and we knew Oregon was in the general vicinity and there would probably be lots of rain forests. Pretty much everywhere.

We knew Portland was a kitschy, interesting city with great food and that Oregon had a coastline but we figured pretty much everywhere else was sprawling, dark green, dense, northwest rainforest.

As they said in the movie ‘Independence Day’, “that’s not entirely accurate”.

There are, indeed, hundreds of acres of amazingly beautiful rainforests in Oregon; the Columbia River Gorge is truly one of the most gorgeous places we have ever seen with astonishingly spectacular waterfalls and a river that was gouged out from solid rock.

Waterfall Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

The Lower Lewis River waterfall

But the coast was the first place that truly took our breath away. Used to the flat beaches of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, we were unprepared for beaches that had huge hunks of rock just piled everywhere. Soaring pillars of rock which, when you looked at the nearby mountains, were quite obviously the debris left behind that the mountains shed as they retreated back, washed away by a millennia of waves and wind.

Rocks in Water Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

The Needles in Cannon Beach

The monolith of rock that is Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach looks like a pretty impressive but lifeless boulder until you get close. Wait until low tide, walk out to the soaring chunk blocking out the setting sun and you will see dozens of tide pools clustered around the rock and its nearby siblings, the Needles.

The tide pools are absolutely crystal clear miniature aquariums, teeming with life. Spectacular orange and purple starfish bigger than your hand cluster on the rock faces and neon green anemone cling to the sand and rocks underwater, wafting in the current your bare feet creates.

Clams Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Shells at Haystack Rock

Starfish1 Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Starfish at Haystack Rock

Kids root in the sand; unleashed dogs romp everywhere; people smile and nod, seemingly as dazed as you are by the indescribable beauty of this place.  You think you have seen it all and it can’t get any more amazing and then the sun starts setting in a blaze of orange and red and hot pink, the sky fills with so many colors it’s like the 4th of July, and you are amazed anew.

Sunset at Haystack Rock Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Sunset at Haystack Rock

So you think wow that’s pretty fabulous Oregon and you can’t possibly see anything else that is quite that amazing but then you take a cruise on the Columbia River with Un-Cruise Adventures and you are complacent because there is the rainforest, yep we knew it, and then you run out rainforest.

You run out of rainforest.

The rainforest ends because southeast Oregon is a barren desert with hardly any rainfall. The fertile soil that grows abundant crops is only kept alive by irrigation.

You are just cruising along enjoying the sumptuous green forest and then bam. Desert. Suddenly green is a color nature has forgotten and it’s all gold and tan and beige. Chunks and pillars of basalt support the much-ballyhooed but eventually accepted theory that this area was not created by glaciers but by unimaginably tremendous floods which poured through the area causing rivers and lakes and astonishing rock formations. The local Nez Perce tribes have been telling this story for generations, the flood story, and it took scientists hundreds of years to believe it.

Jetboat Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Hells Canyon

Desert Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Southeast Oregon

We think we are pretty much out of amazement at this point but Oregon says oh no you aren’t and provides a sunset over the Columbia River with astonishing colors that not only fill the sky but reflect in the calm river in a kaleidoscope of color that honestly takes your breath away.

Sunset1 Oregon is Pretty Damn Amazing!

Sunset on the Columbia River

And Oregon says ha. Told ya.

You only think you know me.

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Hallmark Resort in Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach in Sand 300x224 Hallmark Resort in Cannon Beach, OregonHosted Accommodations



Staying at the Hallmark Resort in Cannon Beach was actually just an extremely happy accident.

Before our Un-Cruise Adventures cruise on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, we decided we should see a little bit of Oregon since we had never been there. Since I am the beach lover and Tom is the mountain lover, we compromised and went to both.

I knew absolutely nothing about the Oregon coast but didn’t want to drive too far from Portland where the cruise was embarking so I narrowed it down to towns that were not too far from Portland. And then I just proceeded to contact several of them to see who would like to work with us on a press visit.  I had several replies but when I checked out the Hallmark Resort in Cannon Beach there was no question about where we would stay because it looked wonderful.

And it was.

In every single way.

After flying into Portland, we picked up our rental car and drove straight to the coast. It was a beautiful drive but nothing unusual that we hadn’t seen in other states; mountains, pine trees, winding roads. Finally, we reached a point where our GPS told us we were only five minutes from the coast. Tom scoffed.

“There is no way we are that close to the beach. We are in the middle of the mountains. The GPS must be wrong”.

Five minutes later, we were at the coast.

This was our first introduction to the idea that Oregon is not like anyplace else. In Oregon, the mountains go right to the shore. And then they continue into the water. This provided a stunningly beautiful coastline which kept us awed with its beauty right up until our last day at the coast.

Mountains Hallmark Resort in Cannon Beach, Oregon

Hallmark Resort is located right in front of Haystack Rock which is an iconic tourist destination in Cannon Beach. We had a vague idea that Haystack Rock was some sort of boulder on the beach and this is accurate as far as it goes but, in reality, Haystack Rock is truly astonishing. It’s actually a towering monolith which is home to all kinds of nesting birds and marine invertebrates like starfish all year long. Tidepools, which are created when the tide is low, are home to a variety of sealife. Read more »

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Photo Friday: Lower Lewis River Falls

Beautiful location at the Lower Lewis River Falls.

Lower Lewis River Falls Photo Friday: Lower Lewis River Falls

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Hotel Highland, Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham Hotel Highland, Birmingham, Alabama Hosted Accommodations



It’s lucky that Birmingham is on the way to Florida as it makes a perfect stopping place to create a car trip that is a leisurely pleasure instead of one that leaves you exhausted when you arrive. It’s even luckier that the darling little upscale, boutique hotel, the Hotel Highland, is located in Birmingham and that we were able to spend the night there recently.

Because it’s quite, quite lovely.

Hotel Hotel Highland, Birmingham, Alabama

Hotel Highland.

Located in the middle of the trendy Five Points South neighborhood near the University of Alabama – Birmingham and plenty of local tourist attractions, the Hotel Highland is really situated in a great location. With several excellent local restaurants and shops located an easy walk from the hotel, you really don’t even need your car after the valet parks it for you.

We pulled up in front of the hotel and headed into the quiet lobby which gives a fabulous first impression of the hotel. Rich, vibrant jewel tone colors enhance the modern vibe of the area with comfortable, plush furniture.

Lobby1 Hotel Highland, Birmingham, Alabama

Comfortable seating in the beautiful lobby.

Lobby 2 Hotel Highland, Birmingham, Alabama

More lobby seating and modern décor.

Lobby 3 Hotel Highland, Birmingham, Alabama

Modern artwork in the lobby.

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Cruising the Islands of New England

Lighthouse and bridge 300x198 Cruising the Islands of New England

An old lighthouse and the bridge to the island.

If you have never visited New England, as we hadn’t, a cruise of the area is the best way to visit and really enjoy your trip. And the Islands of New England cruise on the Grande Caribe from Blount Small Ship Adventures is the best cruise to take. One of the most wonderful things about cruising is that you can take your cozy, comfortable cabin along with you on your travels! Unpack once, then spend your week relaxing on board as you drift along visiting some of the most well-known locations in New England.

The Grande Caribe is not an overwhelmingly huge cruise ship; instead, it has space for about eighty passengers in small but comfortable staterooms and is just the right size to be homey. The lounge area on the main deck is furnished with plenty of comfortable upholstered furniture and tables for playing games, reading, or simply enjoying the passing scenery. The adjoining bar area includes soda dispensers, where you are welcome to fill a glass with ice and a drink whenever you want, and space for the liquor and wine bottles that Blount encourages you to bring aboard. Not only do they welcome you to bring aboard your own liquor and wine – they even provide snacks and mixers to accompany them, and there are two very nice cocktail parties during the weeklong cruise that serve scrumptious hot appetizers.

Read the rest of this article on Travelhoppers HERE.

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Photo Friday: Fall View of Mt. St. Helens

We actually didn’t see a lot of fall color in Oregon but managed to catch some on a day trip to view Mt. St. Helens.

Fall Leaves Mt St Helens Photo Friday: Fall View of Mt. St. Helens

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Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Thanksgiving Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

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