Destination – Disneyland

IMG_4871 (1)I have a new traveling buddy – my great grand daughter, Alaska!  Didn’t take her long to catch on to the tricks of the trade.  She’s a natural!

Having not spent any time with her in a car for a long trek before, I wasn’t quite sure how she would do on the 2-day excursion  traveling south almost the entire length of California. I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable she was with it. She was enjoying the view, liked to talk about what we saw pass by the window – very inquisitive.  We played the ABC game trying to find specific letters on the road signs and she was quite content amusing herself as well.  Of course we had a great ‘snack’ box filled to the brim on the seat next to her so she could help herself at any time.  She thought that was pretty cool!

As we left Oregon it was pouring down rain.  We drove up into the clouds to Siskiyou Summit with very bad visibility.  I was hoping the storms wouldn’t last very long but was prepared to hunker down and not let that stop me.
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IMG_4889 (1)Just as we crested the summit, the cloud abruptly broke clear to expose sunshine and blue skies from that point forward as we descended down the other side of the mountain pass and down into California! Are we lucky or what?

It was simply wonderful to see everything growing so vigorously the entire length of the state. Now that the drought is finally over it’s refreshing to see it return to its healthy and abundant nature once again.  It’s absolutely amazing how much food grows here!

IMG_4901 (1)Our first night on the road was spent at the Harris Ranch.  She became as expert on elevator operations.

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Soon we were enjoying the pool & hot tub too!

 

The following day we didn’t have far to travel before we were sliding right through Los Angeles on our way to Anaheim.

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For the next 3 days, we stayed at the Hilton for free through the Hilton Honors program!  She sure liked that (as did I!)

Since it was still rather early in the day after we got all checked into our room… we headed straight for the shuttle to Disneyland! Let the good times roll!

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Soon we were flying with Dumbo, exploring castles and having a grand time in the spinning tea cups!

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It was so fun to get in the spirit of a soon to be 5-year-old and enjoy Disneyland again. We laughed and played and had such delight.  According to Alaska, the highlight of her visit was getting to meet and talk to none other than Cinderella!

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IMG_5013 (1)Our  room was on the 10th floor with a view of the pool where we spent many an hour! We could see Disneyland from our room too and enjoyed the fireworks!IMG_5048 (1)  IMG_5062 (2)

Those 3 days just flew by…and we started heading back north once again through the San Joaquin Valley and it’s vibrant growth.

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Mile after mile for as far as you could see, fruit trees, grapes, nuts, you name it….IMG_5190 (2)IMG_5186 (2)

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It was another wonderful drive with beauty all around that day.  At the end of our days’ journey, we stopped in Folsom to visit with some really great folks who I met on the ferry from Cairnryan, Scotland to Larne, Ireland last year. When Ed and Colleen heard I was going to be traveling near their home, they invited Alaska and I to visit them for a day or two on our way back from Disneyland.

IMG_5217 (1)Alaska and I had such a great time with these two characters!  We were so graciously greeted and welcomed into their home, as if we were family. We had such a great visit reconnecting and spending time together.  It was just divine.

Their home was an absolute oasis of love and good energy at every turn.  Alaska and I enjoyed exploring Ed’s gardens and finding beautiful glass chimes, animals and flowers at every turn.

IMG_5210 (2)Colleen is a very talented glass artist and this is an example of the chimes she produces and sells worldwide.  Aren’t they beautiful?IMG_5208 (2)  IMG_5202 (2)  IMG_5206 (2)

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I really enjoyed sitting by this pool with my feet dangling in the water while drinking in the visual beauty of the surrounding gardens. What a pleasant and healing spot to just hang out for awhile in and indulge myself.  Ed & Colleen knew exactly what I would need after keeping up with a four-year-old for the last few days!

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Ed and Colleen are also avid cat lovers and have a number of their own. In addition they are active with the local animal rescue programs in their community. Just recently a litter of 6 kittens were rescued and they made arrangements ahead of our arrival in order that Alaska could have a kitten play date.  She really liked that!

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All around their home are gorgeous and colorful glass pieces to admire,  beautiful photographic shots of Eds’ and various art pieces to enjoy. Quite a creative couple they are!

IMG_5243They fed us wonderful fresh fruits from the local farmer stands, and totally spoiled us with delectable meals and refreshments.

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Colleen even taught Alaska how to make one of her chimes and let her choose all the colors of glass that she wanted to make a set to give to her mommy for Mother’s Day. That was so sweet, generous and loving for Colleen to teach her.
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To top it all off, as an added surprise, we had a very merry un-birthday party and celebrated together!  What fun!
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I hated to leave such a great family and such wonderful people.  I sure meet the nicest people while traveling and feel so blessed to be able to stay connected with them. This trip wouldn’t have been the same without stopping to see them and getting to know them even better! It was very pleasant. We had fun talking about traveling (of course) and sharing with one another each of our plans for this season’s adventures waiting to happen, we shared genealogy discoveries we’ve made, gardening tips and discovered many more topics we didn’t know we share in common.

As I relaxed at their home and enjoyed their ultimate hospitality, I found myself shifting gears internally from “normal” daily life, into “holiday” mode for the season. This trip was just what I personally needed to prepare for the next adventure in Ireland and the UK coming up in just one weeks’ time! That “shift” I could feel was a welcome sensation coursing through my body!

Although neither Alaska nor I were in any big hurry to leave, we said our thank yous and good byes and got a few hugs and got back on the road. The last leg of our drive home through northern California was delightful and full of roadside beauty to enjoy the entire way…. sunshine was abundant and the views were splendid.

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It was wonderful to see Lake Shasta filled to the brim.  Last year when I drove by on my way to Paris there was only a meager trickle in the creek at the bottom of this giant lake! Huge difference!

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Castle Crags in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest was spectacular…

IMG_5328Little Shastina at the base of Mount Shasta was rising up nicely to the heavens, and as usual Mount Shasta was crowned with a cloud and therefore obscured. No photos of Mt Shasta today….IMG_5329

As we approached the mountain range bordering between Oregon and California, the vistas were amazing.  I enjoyed the ranch land at the base of the high mountains.

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IMG_5358At the top of the mountain pass we arrived at the Siskiyou Mtn Summit, (Elevation 4310 feet and the highest mountain pass along the entire route of Interstate-5 between the Mexican and Canadian borders).

 

This is the view I look forward to below, just after the summit as you descend down into the Rogue River Valley where I live.

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Table Rock Mountain (above) and my favorite view (below) coming down the west side of Blackwell Hill which means I am just a few miles from home.

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What a fantastic, fun-filled, be-a-kid kind of week it’s been with Alaska. I do believe that we will be taking a few more trips together again in the future. She is a girl after my own heart in so many ways and I’m thrilled to know she has a bit of that wander lust in her too!

Now it’s time for me to sign off so I can get my suitcase packed for a 4 1/2 month trip.  I’ll be leaving in just 6 days!  Stay tuned!  There’s a lot more adventures just around the next bend!

 

 

 

 

 

Destination – Disneyland (and then another Kingdom – the United Kingdom & Ireland!)

Oh I love this time right before an adventure is about to start! The excitement begins to build incrementally each day and my stomach has that ‘giddy’ feeling churning around. I find my mind often wanders off to places I plan to visit and explore and that sometimes it is somewhat difficult to concentrate on matters at hand. That’s a good sign!

Just one week from tomorrow I will begin this season’s travels. I get to start my adventures this year with my great grand daughter, Alaska. IMG_4537

She will be celebrating her 5th birthday in July. Since I will be in the UK the rest of the spring & summer I decided to take her early for her birthday surprise. I started a tradition with my own 3 kids years ago. Whenever one of them turned five, I would take just that one child to Disneyland for a day (mostly because that’s all I could afford, but also to give that particular child my totally undivided attention.) They ate up that attention too! That lovely tradition became quite a treat for us all. Now, after 3 kids and also 3 grand kids, I am celebrating my first great grand childs’ 5th birthday! How lucky am I? I am really glad I started having children early in my adulthood (my first was born just after my 21st birthday) so I could live long enough to enjoy great grandchildren! They are the best!

Luckily, I am still young enough (and with enough energy) to entirely devote myself to following a 5 year-old around the Magic Kingdom all day; experiencing & seeing it through her eyes. I also get to be, and act, like a kid myself all the day long at least one more time! There’s nothing quite like it! I enjoy the wonderful experience of letting my inner child out to play wholeheartedly. It should also supply me with a wonderful springboard to jump off from into my travel mode for the rest of the season –  a great way to spend an adventure holiday in Ireland, Scotland, England & Wales – exploring with the awakened wide-eyed curiosity of a child!

As you might imagine, Alaska is pretty excited herself. Each week when she comes to my house to have a ‘sleepover with GG ‘ on Thursdays she immediately heads over to the calendar, the one we marked up with our travel plans, to count the days until our departure – a girl after my own heart! We leave just one week from tomorrow! Let the countdown begin!

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We will travel almost the entire length of California from our home in Southern Oregon to the Los Angeles basin. It will take us two days to travel that distance along the Interstate 5 freeway. Even though it requires two constant driving days to get there; its worth it – especially in the springtime with all the lovely views along the way of fresh food growing in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley – breadbasket of the world.  (And thank goodness for freeways! As I recall from when I was Alaska’s age and living in southern California, my family would make the trip to visit my grandparents in Seattle, Washington. It was only a two-lane, undivided Hwy 99 back then and the entire route taking us much longer than 2 days time to complete!)

We will be staying at the Hilton Anaheim just across the street from Disneyland and will have a birds-eye view from our room of the fireworks each night exploding over the ‘Matterhorn’ inside the park! She ought to like that – I know I will!

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Alaska is even excited about just getting to stay a couple of nights in a hotel and most importantly – getting to ride the elevator! How I love the delight and innocence of small children; they’re so precious! Its the small things you know….

img_6427As you might know if you’re one of my avid “followers” on this blog that one of the things I enjoy most about traveling is making new friends along the way. Last year when I traveled from Scotland to Ireland via the ferry from Cairnryan to Larne I met the nicest couple, Ed & Colleen.

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We had quite a bit in common as it turned out – we both write a travel blog. Imagine that! Naturally, we became fast friends, traded traveling information, and although we only had the brief time together during the ferry crossing to spend with one another we’ve kept in touch all year. On our way back to Oregon, Alaska and I will get to stop and spend some time with Ed & Colleen again at their home.

What a delight that will be! I love visiting friends along my journeys and spending time with the ones I’ve met during them. It will be so good to see them and enjoy their company once again.

After Alaska and I return at week’s end, I will need to get my laundry done and repacked into my suitcase pronto because just a week later, on May 9th, I’ll be boarding another jet headed to Dublin, Ireland to tour all around that magical place with my good friend, Lynne, for 5 weeks!

Since I’ll be with a friend, and consequently not have a lot of spare, alone time to blog as often as I usually do during my travels, I won’t be writing daily blog posts as is my usual practice. However, you can be sure that at least once or twice a week, I’ll find the time to keep you updated on my travels this summer, sharing many photos and telling you about the places we’re visiting. It’s bound be be quite the adventure; one you may not want to miss.

If you would like to see every entry I post, I invite you to “follow” my blog by pressing the “follow” button which should appear somewhere nearby on your screen that you are viewing this post on. If you “follow,” each time I post something, an email will come directly to your inbox and you can view the post at your leisure. You won’t miss a single entry either as I’ll be spending over 4 months touring around all of both the islands of Ireland and Scotland/England/Wales from one tip to the other!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tripping with Tracie in Southern Oregon

Let’s start this first in a new series of blog posts with a BIG picture map of the USA. I’m usually posting about Scotland, Ireland, or some other location in Europe, but I’m going to start posting about my own area and different parts of the USA as I travel here as well.

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This post takes place in Southern Oregon (on the map above). It is located on the left hand side of the map where all the blue markers are.

Below, the map is zoomed-in to just the state of Oregon. You can also see the general route that will be followed as I share what my friend Tracie and I did to entertain ourselves over the course of 4-day visit to my neck of the woods in and near Grants Pass, Oregon.

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In this blog we will be exploring various towns in and around the Rogue River and Applegate Valleys – like Grants Pass and Jacksonville – and in addition we will take a 3-day tour west to the Pacific Coast, visiting various natural scenic highlights (such as the giant Redwood trees) and cruising up the coast on Interstate Hwy 101 through southern Oregon coastal towns (Brookings, Gold Beach, Bandon and Coos Bay) enjoying their splendid contributions to the stunning coastline views and sights, before closing the loop to head inland to Interstate 5 (I-5) to make our return trip back to Grants Pass.

img_3429Tracie and I have been friends since we were 10 years old and in the  same 4th grade classroom together. It was so great to see her smiling face come strolling through the gate at the Medford Airport on Sunday morning – we enjoyed a very happy reunion.

We were both very excited about our chance to get together and have some fun doing it. We started it out right with a nice drive back to my place enjoying the pastoral scenic route through the Applegate Valley. The late fall sunshine danced on the colorful fall foliage as we drove along, cruising past the many farms and vineyards dotting the surrounding landscape.

In no time at all I was welcoming her to my town, Grants Pass, and just in time for some lunch at the Taprock Restaurant located on the banks of the Rogue River.taprock

 

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We really enjoyed our food and each others company and afterward I took her on a bit of a tour around Grants Pass.

We drove up through the older and more historic neighborhoods at the north end of town as I pointed out various houses where I had lived. She enjoyed seeing all of the craftsman style and turn-of-the-century Victorian homes. Afterward we drove back down 6th street through the center of town heading downhill toward the historic district near the center of town.

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6th Street is one of the 2 major one-way routes running north and south through Grants Pass (the old Hwy 99 route before the I-5 freeway was built).  In the photo above is the view of 6th Street looking north to the foothills which form a natural boundary to the town. Below is facing south on 6th Street heading down through the old historic part of town toward the river.

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We also took in some of the sights around town like the collection of old windmills that are gathered together from old farms in the surrounding county and some artful murals painted on the sides of buildings I particularly like.

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The fall weather was so nice we also enjoyed getting out of the car and stretching our legs while we enjoyed a nice fall walk in a local park.  Riverside Park is just across the river from the restaurant, Taprock, where we ate lunch. It’s the oldest park in town and generations have grown up playing in its grounds, feeding the ducks, geese and pigeons that are ever present and enjoying its peaceful riverside splendor.

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Another nice park is a little further downstream – All Sports Park.  It’s across the river from Tussing Park on the opposite bank; yet connected by a nice strong, broad, steel, pedestrian and bicycle bridge spanning the river. It also offers up stunning views. Fishermen, boaters, rafters, jet boats, & swimmers alike really enjoy recreating here on this river during the summer.

The parks are dog-friendly and have well-maintained, safe walking trails with scenic vistas in the surrounding landscapes to admire and immerse yourself in.

Tracie and I had a fine first day together driving through the Applegate, touring a bit of Grants Pass and enjoying the company of an old and treasured friend.

More fun and beauty was yet to come the following morning – we headed south and west out of Grants Pass toward the Pacific Ocean following Hwy 199.  As one nears the ocean after crossing the Northern California border, the road follows a narrow canyon tracking the course of a clear and beautiful river – the Smith River – one of the nations’ cleanest and most pristine rivers.  We made several stops along this route to enjoy its charm. Below is one example.

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We passed a waterfall or two cascading down the rock faces of the canyon walls and eventually arrived at the intersection at Myrtle Creek where we turned left, crossed the Smith River and meandered into the giant Redwood groves beyond.

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Just before entering the Redwoods, we came upon an old covered bridge.  There are a number of these little gems throughout Oregon and well worth a look when encountered along its many scenic byways.

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Now this is indeed a very special place.  I recorded a video of it for you. The Redwoods are counted as one of my all-time favorite places on this planet to spend precious time in total awe while enjoying their majestic presence.

We strolled around the grove in silent contemplation enjoying their immensity, smell and ancient beauty.

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Near the rivers’ edge where Stout Grove ends abruptly, you can look across the river at the Jedediah State Campground located on the right-hand bank of the river in the photo above.

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During the summer months, when the water level is much lower, and therefore – slower, a floating bridge is constructed each year in order that campground guests can easily cross the river to walk through the memorial grove beyond. The bridge begins right on the beach before us and crosses over to those two rocks jutting out of the water on the opposite bank.

After thoroughly enjoying that magical place we climbed back in the car and finished driving through the giant Redwoods to the edge of the park on the narrow winding road headed toward the Pacific Ocean at Crescent City.

From deep forests to the beach in 10 minutes!  We stretched our legs again at Crescent Beach and visited the harbor where the seals and sea lions like to lounge on their floating docks in the harbor.

We were getting a bit hungry so we stopped to enjoy a seafood Chimichanga at a Mexican restaurant and then continued on our way north on Hwy 101, crossing back over the Oregon border. The first big coastal town is Brookings. We visited the harbor, jetty, beaches and watched the wet-suit clad surfers catching some waves.

Just north of Brookings is a nice campground and beach at Harris Beach State Park where my children and I have spent many a fine summer day combing the tide pools and building sandcastles over the years. Tracie thought it especially stunning and noted the great campground  nearby on the cliff top above complete with stunning ocean views!

We continued working our way a bit further up the coast to Gold Beach where we stopped for the day and  to spend the night. We got a nice cozy rustic room at ‘Ireland’s‘,  ate a wonderful dinner sampling some of the finer fare choices on the menu and a lemon drop martini at Spinner’s.

We finished the wonderful day of exploration by settling in and cozying up to a crackling & roaring fire and slept peacefully by the waters edge in anticipation of another fine day exploring more of this stunning coastline.

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First thing the next morning – a walk on the beach. I love a good morning walk along the seashore to start my day.

 

After a nice home-style cooked breakfast of Eggs Benedict at Indian Creek Cafe we were bursting with enthusiasm and ready for more exploration along the Oregon Coast. I had some nice surprises in store for my dear friend – a feast for the eyes.

We crossed the bridge spanning the mouth of the Rogue River and visited the ‘cat houses’ or ‘kitty condos’ on the north jetty. Locals have constructed warm snug homes for the ferrel cats that live amongst the big giant rocks on the jetty.  Locals also feed them and I think the houses are just so darned cute besides being so utilitarian and a humane way of caring for the feline population.

The day was young and we ventured further north toward Bandon – our next destination.

 

As we approached the scenic fishing town of Bandon following along the Scenic Beach Loop we came upon “Face Rock” perched out in the water begging to be photographed…

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the beautiful beaches and…

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the mouth of the Coquille River where it meets the Pacific Ocean and the charming Coquille River Lighthouse on the opposite bank center stage of the photo below.

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We spent some time strolling around ‘downtown’ Bandon visiting its many delightful shops and of course it included the taste sensation of sampling the irresistible samples at Cranberry Sweets! Bandon is known for its many cranberry growing bogs.

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Back in the car again, we traveled further north along Hwy 101 to yet another lovely spot off the beaten track on Hwy 101 (and often overlooked). We turned onto the Cape Arago Hwy which encompasses three distinct and breathtakingly beautiful areas – Sunset Bay, Shore Acres, and Cape Arago State Parks – a scenic drive along a dead end road following a small peninsula which ends at Cape Arago.

First stop, Sunset Bay!

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With the sun shining brightly we were rewarded with a fantastic vista in a natural bay.

We drove further down the road and stopped at the viewpoint to observe giant sea lions and seals perched out on the rocks at Cape Arago and marvel at the southern view of the coastline stretched out before us (below).

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As we worked our way back up the peninsula toward Coos Bay, we stopped to enjoy one of my favorite gardens – Shore Acres.  Although it was late in the season and there wasn’t a lot in bloom at this time, we still enjoyed the immaculate gardens, many exquisite rose blossoms in the rose garden and got a sneak peak at the decorations and preparations being made for their Holiday Lights spectacular for the upcoming Christmas season. They host a winter wonderland of lights where the whole garden is lit up at night with holiday festivities; one of the best displays in Oregon.

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The Caretaker’s Cottage…

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Silly azaleas blooming out of season – they think its Spring!  (I saw this in Scotland as well this year just before I returned home!)

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The exquisite pond never disappoints no matter what time of year you visit…

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The inviting cove nestled just below the gardens…

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Pine needles on the Mexican Pine gracefully flutter in the breeze like slender silken threads…

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At the end of the day and near the setting of the sun, our grand finale of the day was spent watching the waves crash against the rocks along the cliffs of the former sight of the Simpson home; the people who originally built and owned this property before it was gifted to the state of Oregon. It is a wonderful spot to witness the magnificence and power of the incoming swells as they meet resistance from the rocks along the cliffs at your feet.

The waves literally explode into a spectacular water spray upon collision with the rocks at the shoreline – a natural beauty to behold – like a fireworks display.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our day visiting various coastal towns while heading north on Hwy 101. As the daylight hours slowly faded, we turned inland, following the Coquille River east until we tied into Interstate 5 southbound and returned to Grants Pass that evening.img_3683

On the final day of ‘Tripping with Tracie,’ we treated ourselves to another nice breakfast at a local restaurant and then headed over to the historic mining town of Jacksonville before she caught her flight home that afternoon.

We marveled at the Nunan House Estate on the edge of town as we approached. It was an original “kit” or “catalog” house ordered through mail order at the turn of the century. The beautiful fireplace and chimney were later added and built by a local Italian mason.

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Jacksonville was the site of one of the first placer gold claims in the area. It was founded following discovery of gold deposits in 1851–1852. It was also registered as an Historic National Landmark in 1966 and has preserved its over 100 mid-19th century unaltered commercial and residential buildings.  Below is a sampling of what it looked like during the gold rush and its inception.

Below is what you will see still standing and intact today.

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There are lots of interesting and diverse gift and high-end clothing shops to meander through and of course they are all geared up for the holiday gift-giving season!

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Jacksonville is also home to the Peter Britt Music Festival.  A very fine venue for enjoying top drawer musical entertainment ranging from Jazz to Classical and everything in between during the summer evenings in the stunning open-air hillside amphitheater. Magical!

As much as I hated to see the time with Tracie come to a close, I found I was saying fare-thee-well to my dear friend at the Medford Airport after spending another wonderful morning exploring together.  We had a grand time.

I’m so grateful she was my companion while exploring the sights of Southern Oregon to share with my blog followers and readers. It was a true pleasure making more memories with such a dear friend!  Thank you Tracie!

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I hope you have enjoyed this latest edition of my travels.  If you’d like to see more of Oregon and the western states of the USA please comment and let me know.  I am open to suggestions of things you would like me to share with you!

Until the next time… keep making memories and don’t forget to dream big when it comes to travel adventures!