Spend time in the great outdoors.
Guest Blog post by Anja
Hello from behind a bundle of leaves! My name is Anja and I have a blog called Clever Nettle, and I am stoked to be representing nature as part of Mandi's collection of New Years resolutions. Exploring the great outdoors is my favorite thing, stick me in the woods and I will be very happy. This year I did a bit of traveling around and got to see some interesting natural locations (which I will highlight in this post), but the cool thing about living in Oregon is that the state is very diverse- you can see rainforests, deserts, farmlands, beaches... it's amazing! There's so much I haven't seen or done yet, like visit Crater Lake or stay a night in a fire lookout station. I also want to improve my camping skills, and do a trip that involves a multi-day hike and camp. Even if you can't leave town to go on a nature expedition, your city might surprise you! Search around online to see if there are any public gardens, for example. City hikes can be really cool too, because you don't have to be in the woods to appreciate plants and trees. What neighborhood has the most interesting landscapes? Where is the oldest tree in town? What did your city look like before it was developed? Are there any edible plants growing wild in your area? These are all little ideas and questions that can help you start connecting with nature where you live, and will hopefully lead you into the wilderness too!
This is a classic Oregon situation- Multnomah Falls! The main waterfall is pretty famous, so if you are out there on a weekend there will be crowds, but if you just walk a little bit farther into the woods you can see a ton of other, equally awesome (or better?) waterfalls, cliffs, vistas, etc. Nature will always reward you for putting in a bit of effort, and I know that I prefer my outdoor experiences to include only a very small group of people. Mushroom hunting in Oregon is also amazing, I look forward to each season with a zest that even I can't believe sometimes!
This summer my husband and I took a weekend trip to Central Oregon, home of ghost towns, ancient rocks and the amazing Painted Hills, seen above. They were like nothing I had ever seen before, this weird set of mountains in the middle of nowhere that are pink, black and gold. I still can't really believe that they look so strange. It's a special spot, for sure. More photos here.
I visited Wind Mountain (just over the Washington border) several times this year, it's an old Native American spirit quest site and has some really unique features. Interesting rock walls covered in moss, old rock structures and almost terrifying views (so high up!), cliffs where you can eat your lunch, and mysterious sounds that echo through the trees when the wind is just right.
In the spring I went to Louisiana with two friends, and the best choice we made was to split our time between staying in New Orleans and staying at a state park, right out in the swamp! Nature priorities. It blew our minds, there were alligators all over in the water, cool cabins with porches and rocking chairs, boats to cruise around in, a massive collection of crazy bug and animal noises at night, a gorgeous sunset, armadillos... it was really perfect, except when the horseflies tried to eat me. We did a three mile walk through the swamp trails and the above photo was taken at the end, on a long walkway that stretched right out into a beautiful swampy clearing. The bayou is unreal.
One of the coolest things about Oregon camping is that many of the state parks have yurts that you can rent out. It's a huge step up from a tent, and a small step down from an actual cabin. They're cheap, warm and they make it really easy to leave the city without having to work very hard at the actual camping part. These photos are from the Fort Stevens area, which has everything from an early 1900's shipwreck on the beach to an abandoned military site that you can explore. We saw some really cute critters there, like this giant ground squirrel and a tiny bat! One of my favorite parts of these trips is seeing new animals in their natural habitat. We heard owls calling to each other that night, it was really awesome. Then, the folks in the yurt next door gave us cheesecake!
Finally, one of my favorite annual getaways- a summer trip to my friend's cabin in British Columbia, where I do my most serious chilling out. Cruise around the lake, swim in the lake, lie on the dock, guitar on the dock, boat rave at night, watch ospreys hunt for fish, catch fish ourselves, amazing food, hammocks, scrounging for the hottest flower accessories... it doesn't get much better than that.
Stay cool in 2011 and get outside!!