Hola de México

March 3, 2014


Not since college have I been willing to leave the mountains during ski season for a warmer climate consisting of beaches and the ocean. It took my dad turning 60 and the opportunity to go to Cancun as a family vacation to convince us to leave the skis behind for 10 full days in January. (Luckily, we didn’t miss anything at home snow-wise…)

This was Lucy’s first big “overseas” adventure. She’s been to Canada a few times now, so it was not her first international trip, but the first one that she needed to have a passport. I downloaded a learn Spanish app since I’m out of practice, and started working on my Hola’s and Donde Esta el Bano?’s. And then started salivating over the thought of real tacos (although knowing we were going to an all-inclusive time-share property in the Hotel Zone, my expectations were not high on finding great authentic food).

Bend, Ore – Adventures in May

June 21, 2013

The month of May took us to Bend, Ore. for my cousin Shannon’s wedding. I’ve up until now tried to avoid Bend purely on the principle that I’ve heard it’s a multi-sport mecca, and if we were to visit, that we would never leave. Not far from the truth.

After pulling an all-nighter (NEVER AGAIN!), we pulled into Bend at 3:28am. Our friends Jimmy and Shannon (different Shannon….) left their door unlocked so that we could go in and crash in their guest room. Lucy had not slept the final 4 hrs of the drive, and so we were all exhausted and so thankful for a bed…

Bend went something like this: Breakfast, Coffee, give Lucy to Grandma and Bubba, Bike, Coffee, Dinner, Bed. Lunch somewhere thrown in. There was some beer in there as well for me. Did I mention Coffee? Rather than a tour-de-beer, we did a tour-de-coffee (something we both can agree on…). And the riding, oh the riding. Saturday: Whoops. Sunday: Tiddlywinks. Monday: I let my mom use my bike, they rode Funner (in a downpour). Tuesday: Mzarak. Awesome. Plus riding around Bend is great with all the bike paths.


Oh, Canada – Nelson/Whitewater Ski Trip

February 2, 2012

The Alpine Motel was our base for the weekend. A short 10 blocks to Nelson's city core, it was a great spot.

One of my favorite reasons to live in NW Montana is the proximity to Canada. Before I moved to Whitefish, I had never been to our northern neighbor, but now I’m addicted. Having Fernie under 2 hours away fills the need for when I’m craving steep slopes and Indian/Thai food.

We ventured to Nelson, BC this past weekend for our first trip away from home with Lucy. Five hours to the Northwest, Nelson is a little creative hamlet in the Kootenays. Surrounded by lakes and mountains, it has a similar vibe to Whitefish. We came here a few years ago for a backcountry yurt trip, and I was excited to return and spend a bit more time in town.

Our ski destination was Whitewater, just a short drive from town. Dave and I split the weekend up so we each got to ski a day and babysit a day. I took my day to hang out in Nelson. I relaxed in the hotel watching TV (that alone is like a vacation!) and knit while Lucy napped and then we took a walk downtown and explored the shops and tastes of Nelson. The community is very ‘hippie’ and many of the restaurants have an organic or vegetarian leaning. I had lunch at the Kootenay Bakery & Cafe with a bowl of curry soup, a panini grilled cheese and a steaming cup of Matcha (a great alternative when I don’t want more coffee…paired with almond milk, it was delicious).

I couldn't decide what flavors to take back to the crew, so I got one of each!

A trip to NYC back in 2008 got us hooked on cupcakes (thanks Magnolia), and so I was delighted to find a local cupcake shop! Flavors like Dark Chocolate Raspberry and Espresso were tempting, but I had to go with the Chocolate with Salty Carmel frosting. And oh it didn’t disappoint. I bought a 6-pack of mini cupcakes to take back to the crew for a post skiing snack.

The finale of my culinary adventure on Saturday was dinner at Baba’s Indian Cuisine. Like I said, I have to go to Canada to get Indian food! The rest of the crew was exhausted from a full day of powder skiing, so we hit the sack early for day two and my turn to ski!

After a quick stop at Nelson favorite Oso Negro coffee in the morning, we headed to the hill. It snowed 7″ the night before, and there was a freestyle comp happening at the mountain, so the parking lot was full. Dave set up camp in the lodge with Lucy and the rest of us headed up the lift. The snow was great, and most of the ‘runs’ are tree skiing – not a lot of cut trails. The trees were nicely spaced and so it was fun to just rip through them! Unfortunately, since it had snowed so much, patrol was doing avy control on some of the more extreme terrain. But we got plenty of steep lines and long fall lines to satisfy. Whitewater still has the mom and pop resort feel, but it was bought a few years ago by a development company, and the plans in the lodge show a large development plan including high-speed lifts and lodging. So it was great to be able to experience the mountain as it is currently.

Coffee Break at Oso Negro

Looking forward to a return trip in the future with a longer stay to explore the side country and a visit to the hot springs north of town!

Lucy was at home hanging with Dad in the ski lodge

Addy (at 37 weeks pregnant) and I on the lift.

Oh the places I've seen

July 27, 2008

Two weeks into our vacation, and I think we’re finally on ‘vacation.’ No significant driving or responsibilities for a full 6 days! But first, a recap: July 7th we arrived late in Seattle after a quick overnight in Boise with our friend Jeff on Sunday. I haven’t been to the NW since jr high, so was very excited to check it out again. We stayed with my friend Lane – a college buddy from J-School and the student paper. Lane lives in a cool little apartment in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Cool happening area with good coffee (of course!) and good restaurants. Dave and I did the mini Seattle tour – coffee, Pike’s Place Market, West Seattle for seafood and a great sunset.

Sunset in West Seattle

On Wednesday the three of us took off for the Olympic Peninsula where Lane and I were to climb Mt. Olympus with Summit for Someone – a benefit for Big City Mountaineers. Dave took the four days to check out the peninsula himself while trying to get some work done in the nothing town of Forks. You can pretty much find an internet cafe in any town in America at this point I think. The climb was awesome – but very tiring. Pictures tell a better story – here’s the link: http://picasaweb.google.com/jessica.j.downing/SummerVacation2008

Basically it was four days of walking about 42 miles, with a semi-technical accent of the pyramid of Mt. Olympus. Olympus is the highest peak in the Olympic Mtns at 7963 feet. But we started at sea level (well, 200 ft above). As it was a benefit climb, we had a guide, Craig Van Hoy from GoTrek Expeditions. He’s been doing the SFS climbs since the second year of its existence. I’ve never been so happy in my life to take off a backpack and hiking boots. While I didn’t get heel blisters, I really though my pinky toes might fall off…

Back to Seattle Sunday night, then a nice breakfast with another college friend on Monday morning. Dave and I decided to add a detour to our trip and visit Bellingham. I’ve heard great things about this town, and always wanted to check it out, so figured we were so close, might as well. We found a cheap hotel, hopped on our bikes and rode downtown. Found a burger joint, asked the waitress if there were any parks/beaches, and she directed us to a cool park right on the water. Best thing about this park was the coffee shop right in the middle. So we got some coffee, sat on the beach, and watched the sunset. Definitely will need to do a return trip in the winter, as this could be a place to move to…

Bellingham view

Then comes one of our longest days in the car yet. We had been suggested to take the North Cascades highway rather than the Interstate to get to Idaho. We did, and it was beautiful, but long… My favorite thing about Washington is the amount of farmer’s markets and fresh food you can get. We stopped a lot for cherries and strawberries. Yum. Lunch in Omak, Wa, on the edge of one of the Indian Reservations. Delicious Mexican food, and then found a used book/coffee/internet cafe shop across the street. Very friendly people in Omak. After a few more hours of driving, we finally made it to Sandpoint. Got the last campsite in the closest campground and watched the sun set over Lake Pend Oreille. The next morning we got up, drove into town, once again hopped on our bikes and proceeded to check out town. Anyone want to move?? I’m sold on Sandpoint. Found a cute 1910 bungalow – 3 bed/1bath, w/ detached garage – for $240k!!! Oh, and the public beach with the sea planes coming in and out, the people boating on the lake, wow, nothing about this town I didn’t like. Great coffee shop too. 🙂 Then down to Cour de’Alene. Got lunch at a Greek restaurant and took our Gyros down to the beach. Also a cool town – would have liked more time to explore.

Sandpoint - my favorite

Now off to Bozeman. We stayed with another college friend for two nights. So we had a full day in the BoZone to explore. Went to the Cat’s Eye cafe on high recommendation for breakfast, and was not disappointed. Then went to visit Patrick at work at Mystery Ranch backpacks. Got the factory tour and dave got a new pack! He’s excited. Then camped out in the Bozeman Public Library for a few hours before meeting up with Patrick again to go climbing. We were almost successful until it started downpouring… oh well, at least it was a pretty drive. Then a long drive through Eastern Montana and North Dakota – not near as ugly as I thought. Camped in a city park in Fargo – which was quite entertaining. Now we are in Three Lakes, WI at my family’s cottage, possibly my favorite place in the world. Three Lakes even has a coffee shop now! This place makes Carbondale look like a booming metropolis. I’m excited to relax, water ski, play in the sea kayaks and canoe, and just do nothing for the next week.