I love finding new recipes, or easy changes to an old favorite. A week or so ago, I saw a post on one of my favorite blogs, Reluctant Entertainer. I always love Sandy's posts and photos and now that she lives in my favorite vacation spot in Central Oregon, I'm longing to go on another vacation there. She has me missin' it.
Anyways, she posted a recipe for granola chocolate chip cookies, which sounded wonderful. I put it in my internal filing cabinet to make, thinking these would be great with my homemade granola which is packed with nuts, seeds and all ingredients I know. Find her recipe here. Last Wednesday, my daughter Kristianna and I were going to head to Hood River, Oregon to visit a Lavender farm and do some nature exploring. I decided making some cookies would be a perfect treat to take along with us, and I had exactly 1 c. of homemade granola left (so ya know where that's going right?). Oh my, these cookies turned out so good. I also made a plain batch because she's not a huge fan of nuts or anything else in cookies. I think the granola version has become a new favorite of mine. I'll probably make them next time with no chocolate chips in half the batch because that's what my hubby would prefer.
Sometimes it just doesn't work out to go on several vacations a year, or even small trips. Whether due to finances, lack of vacation time, or whatever the reason, don't let it keep you from finding time for fun. Day trips take some planning, but they can be great for breaking up the monotony of the week and they can be an amazing way to get out and see things that maybe you normally wouldn't take the time for. I hear so many families on facebook who just cannot afford vacations, but instead find fun things to do with their kids during the summer months that are local, free or cheap and easily accessible. I often feel like we can come up with so many excuses and reasons for not doing things, that we end up doing nothing. I won't say we're great at this, but I'm really trying to be more intentional of taking time to have fun and go do little things. So what if it uses a tank of gas, or uses up my day off so maybe I don't get things done around the house..in the end those things do not matter one iota (whatever an iota even is).
Soooo, with that said, my daughter wanted to go find and take pictures at a lavender farm. The plan was to go with a few friends (though at the last minute one got sick so they couldn't go). I sent her a few options and we decided that a trip to Hood River was the way to go. Hood River is an hour and a half away, along the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. I LOVE where we live in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Our family lives about 25 minutes from the Oregon border so we spend A LOT of time in Oregon...probably more than Washington really. From vacations, shopping, soccer tournaments, restaurants, it's just where we go.
Knowing it was just a day trip, I decided to look on the good old internet to see if there were any places we should stop at either on the way there or on the way back. What did we do before the internet...lol! Planning ahead allows you to make the best use of the time you have, without feeling like you wasted any of it himming and hawing over where to go next. Along the Columbia River Gorge are multiple waterfalls, most of which you have to hike back into but there are a few right off the road. I found one that looked good, Horsetail Falls that we would stop at on the way (we actually hit it on the way back as well). Then as we drove we saw a sign for a viewpoint and decided to stop. That was the WINDIEST viewpoint. We literally were having our clothes blow all over (we were in skirts). So funny. We laughed so hard...it was good for the soul. From there we continued on to Hood River. Our next stops before the Lavender farm were the Gorge White House and Panorama Point Park. Beautiful views. Hood River Lavender Farm didn't disappoint either. Gorgeous views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams along with beautiful purple and white lavender and an array of other flowers greeted us. We spent some time taking pictures, picking a lavender bouquet to take home and looking at flowers. We did have to chase one bee out of Kristianna's skirt. I happened to be taking a picture of her and was getting ready to tell her to fix one side of the skirt when I noticed the bee...."uh...there's a bee in your skirt"! It took a little convincing to get her to go back near the lavender for a few more pics.
From there we headed back into the town of Hood River. We were getting hungry and had already found a place on Yelp that we wanted to try. The historic district of Hood River is quaint and diverse with something for everyone. We headed a little ways out of the district to a place called Farm Stand in the Gorge. They are an organic market and deli with 9 flavors of Kamboucha on tap. Yah, that's what sold my girl on going there. She loves her Kamboucha! We shared a wrap and each got our own beverage. That's another great way to keep costs down, share your meals. I think we are so used to eating large portions that we don't realize that we would be perfectly satisfied if we shared. Not to mention that the halved portion is probably a more appropriate serving size. Once we were satisfied, we headed into town to walk through the shops.
Back on the road we decided to take the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway that would take us to Crown Point, a very popular viewpoint. Along the way we stopped spontaneously whenever we saw a waterfall that was visible from the road. A few we walked a little ways back to get closer to them. There is just something so soothing about water. We walked in some water, took pictures (I need to work on my skills) and just enjoyed each others company. Then we were done. Ready to head home. Downside....it was a weekday and we hit traffic. We stopped off by the airport and shared a burrito from Chipotle before heading the 30 minutes we still had left before getting home. All in all it was about a 10 hour day and we were both tired by the time we got home. But it was so worth it. Spending time together just doing something fun. I can't wait for another trip.
So, my tips:
1) Don't be afraid to just do something, anything for a day or even for a few hours. It doesn't have to be much, just do SOMETHING.
2) Plan ahead to make the most of your time. Be spontaneous but also have somewhat of a plan. There are so many great sites out there to help you know where to go, and of course you can always ask friends. Sometimes you can even find coupons or groupons for places.
3) Pack snacks or even whole meals and then if you eat out, share something if money is tight. We had set some money aside for this so we were fine with eating out a few times, we just shared what we got.
4) DON'T be in a hurry. Take your time to unwind, enjoy nature, or whatever it is you're doing. The rat race will be waiting when you get back. Enjoy those you are with.
5) Have a sense of humor. Everything might not go perfectly, just go with it. When my daughter's friends couldn't go, we could have decided to just stay home, but no way. We decided to just hit the road ourselves. I mean, we like each other.
6) Take day trips. Don't make excuses. Don't think someday I will. Do now. Do soon. Do fun with those you love or even by yourself sometimes. JUST. DO. LIFE!
I'm not always a spontaneous person, but I'm learning to be better at it. Life is just meant to be lived to the fullest and I don't want to let excuses keep me from doing so. So, here's to hopefully spontaneous adventures and a life lived to the fullest.
If we are on any type of outing that has a higher viewpoint, we've been taking pictures like these. So fun and I think someday will be a great photo book.
The Columbia River Gorge is absolutely beautiful!
Hope you enjoyed a bit of our little day trip! I love exploring nature and the country around me.
With Joy UNquenchable,