A Travellerspoint blog

The Grand Finale

Day Three

The only thing unconquered was the sledding hill. Or to be more precise: a shimmering ice sheet of epic proportions had been abandoned up until this moment. This was not your average sledding hill, and at 1,700 feet it was not designed for the faint of heart. As someone who has yet to master skiing or snowboarding, sledding is something I enjoy wholeheartedly. The thing about sledding is that it takes relatively little skill and even if you crash or roll down the hill, no one is going to give you any flack. Perhaps that is why I enjoy sledding – there is little room for embarrassment.


The morning began just as the last, which is with me wondering where I managed to acquire such an appetite over the night, and breakfast was a feast fit for kings. Stomachs full we hiked out to the sledding hill to discover that over the night it froze into a solid sheet of ice. I didn’t care: the slicker the better in my mind.

Once aboard my tube I pushed off into an icy blast of arctic air. If the speed wasn’t enough to leave my breakfast at the top of the hill, the sheer drop into a snowy abyss ensured all stomachs left behind. Once my momentum really got going I looked back in horror as the Lodge owners’ canines came barreling down the hill after me, teeth snarling, growling and barking. Within seconds their teeth were clamped down on my boots. I did everything in my power to simultaneously steer my tube down the hill while attempting to dislodge the dogs from my legs, but it was an impossible battle. Before I knew it I was hurtling toward the Aspen trees lining the property – I could have just rolled off my tube or dug my heels into the ground, but did I? No. Instead I flew through the air, bounced off the trees, rolled around a bit on the crunchy snow, stood up, looked myself over, and proclaimed – “Again!”

Up the hill I marched and downhill I flew again. Over and over, each time attempting to make my tube faster and more streamlined. I realized I was missing a key element - weight. Sure the Lodge was feeding me like it was going out of style, but I still lacked the heft necessary to really make me sail. So, I enlisted Dan. Yes, he’s not much bigger than me, but together we could provide the weight necessary to really throttle ourselves down the hill.

It took a few tries, but eventually we figured out the exact science of tubing. With both of us gripping on to the same tube we managed to soar down that hill with the speed of a sound. Each time we would come just inches from crashing into the Aspens, but somehow we managed to abandon ship with just the right timing. It was incredible.

The dogs never gave up their mission of attack as we sailed down the hill, but we figured that canine intelligence outweighed our own as they were just trying to prevent us from an untimely death involving high speed and a forest of trees.

I could have kept going, but our check-out time loomed closer. We took our tube for one last run, dogs snapping at our heels, before loading up our gear in the snow cat for the treacherous trip back down the mountainside.

Before leaving Dan and I took a moment to say goodbye to the dogs. Although I failed to mention it, the dogs were actually very sweet (when we weren’t sailing down a hill) as they trailed along on all our snowshoeing and cross country skiing adventures.


I didn’t realize it until we got back down the mountain, but all that sledding really worked up my appetite and without the wonderful chef at the Mountain Home Lodge to feed me how would I ever survive? With my panic attack in full swing, Dan frantically searched for a place to feed me. Luckily, within minutes we arrived at a charming soup and sandwich shop called O’Grady’s where after the heaps of food at the Lodge, my little sandwich paled in comparison. Nevertheless, it was delicious and a good reminder that I don’t really require 5,000 calories of food per day. Darn.


Now that we are safely back home, I can’t help but miss our cozy cabin tucked into the heart of the Cascades. It was, in one word, perfect. Between the stunning scenery, the gourmet meals, and the endless activities, I would go back in a heartbeat. If I were to ever disappear, you’ll know where to find me.


Posted by Jennylynn 16:11 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)

Snowshoes and Solitude

Day Two


I could hardly believe that I woke to pangs of hunger, but somehow through the night my body managed to digest the thousands of calories I had consumed the night before. Following the grumbles of my stomach Dan and I wandered into the dining area for yet another feast of home cooked comfort food. Breakfast was every bit as a delicious as our gourmet dinner the night before and I couldn’t help but feel a bit of excitement as I anticipated what lunch would bring. Knowing that I would most definitely need a good workout to justify my indulgences, Dan and I grabbed a map of the trails surrounding the Lodge and we quickly charted out a generous snowshoe hike for the morning.



The day was perfect – crisp, clear, and sunny. With snow crunching underfoot we set out to navigate the woods. Along the way we caught glimpses of the town of Leavenworth below and the Wenatchee Valley to the East.



Between the hiking and the sun overhead we quickly found our heavy snow clothes to be unnecessary, and as such we spent the remainder of the hike sans jackets, gloves, and hats. Our remoteness was tangible as we maneuvered through untouched snow with only the trees, sky, and snow as companions. Several hours later we found ourselves back at the Lodge, exhausted and hungry once more.


Lunch was hearty and filling with sandwiches, salad, soup, chips, and fruit, and as if that weren’t enough Dan insisted on consuming seven cookies for dessert – for the record I only had one! Needless to say, Dan was the one feeling a bit bloated and obese and he easily fell into a deep slumber for the remaining daylight hours while I found a comfortable nook in our room to polish off a good book. Although one of the smaller rooms at the Lodge the Robin’s Nest was quite cozy and charming. With comfy robes, down blankets, and a view of the woods, we really couldn’t complain. I felt somewhat guilty spending the afternoon inside, but sometimes I have to remind myself that vacations are also a time to rest and relax.


Dinner came with the same fanfare as the night before, and perhaps was better received as dessert consisted of a flourless chocolate cake – and really there is no better way to my heart than with rich, creamy, dark chocolate. It was truly heaven on a plate.

Following dinner we spent the evening under the stars, as we relaxed snow side in the hot tub. With wine, chocolate, and a steaming Jacuzzi to summarize the night, I suddenly felt a shudder of dread about heading home the next day. I quickly reminded myself that our winter getaway wasn’t over yet: we still had one more day and a 1,700 foot sledding hill to tackle, and with that we tucked ourselves in for the night knowing we had saved the best for last.


Posted by Jennylynn 08:19 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)

A Winter Escape

Day One

Winter in Seattle has been somewhat nonexistent. The weather has been mild with bouts of sunshine and warm breezes. A typical winter in Seattle brings several big snow storms, but instead the early spring weather has brought about the blooming of cherry blossoms outside my apartment. Dan and I were in need of a snow fix, because truly how can one just jump from fall to spring without experiencing the thrills of a winter wonderland?


Appropriately, this past weekend Dan and I found ourselves on a mini getaway in the heart of the Cascade Mountains where we spent three days at the Mountain Home Lodge just outside of Leavenworth. Making our way from the gray skies of Seattle into the white capped mountains of Stevens Pass we stopped to admire the blanket of white that draped over the landscape.


On our way we visited the Bavarian likes of Leavenworth for a quick tour of the shops and restaurants, stopping for lunch at the Soup Cellar where we devoured extra large helpings of soup and veggie sandwiches. Being a Saturday the town was brimming with tourists, all making their way from each wine shop to the next. If the kitschy German decor and window garb don’t tickle your fancy, Leavenworth truly delivers on the alcoholic front as the wine flows abundantly and freely. One can simply walk the length of the town stopping nearly a dozen times at various wine shops for an assortment of free tastings.


Several wine tastings and a chocolate shop later, we found ourselves at the base of the Mountain Home Road where our snow rigged van was awaiting to take us up into the mountains. The Mountain Home Lodge is not accessible to vehicles, but instead visitors are swiftly brought up the narrow single lane snow packed mountainside in an assortment of snow cats and snowmobiles. After the 20 minute heart stopping ride we arrived at the Lodge which was every bit as dreamy as their photos suggest. Rustic, charming, and secluded, this was the winter wonderland oasis we had been fantasizing about.


We quickly dropped our bags and utilized the last remaining hours of daylight for some outdoor exploration. Despite its isolation, the Lodge offers every imaginable winter activity and within minutes of arriving we were cross country skiing all over the place. With little new snowfall and lots of snow melt, the trails were a bit compact and icy, but somehow we managed. Skiing along in the crisp, clean air, the solitude and quietness of it all was true tranquility. We stopped to admire the deafening sound of nothing. No cars, no people, no construction, just us and the open wilderness. It was eerie and exciting all at the same time.


With daylight diminishing we came back to our cozy little room where we cleaned up for the feast of our lifetime. Due to the remoteness of the lodge, during the winter months all meals are included -- because let’s be honest, what else would a bunch of city slickers do for food? Dinner started with complimentary wine and appetizers for the 24 guests around the fireplace. Dinner was then served at cozy, candlelit tables with classical music playing softly in the background. The owners graciously served each table the three course dinner while the resident chef plated each dish with care and precision. With each course the flavors flowed seamlessly into the next, and I couldn’t help gorging myself beyond the point of satiation.

The night ended with me sprawled out in bed, stomach bulging, and groaning from over indulgence. My only comfort being that tomorrow I would most certainly burn off the added calories as our plans included a day of snow shoeing and more exploration. Before going to bed, I took a moment to pause outside and take in the stillness of our remoteness. Although I crave the energy of a city at night, something about the deafening silence of solitude was electric. I could almost see myself living here. Almost.

Posted by Jennylynn 19:09 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)

Warm Weather Dreaming

Remembering Kefalonia, Greece


These short, dreary Seattle days have me longing for sun and surf. The lack of daylight has got me in a funk, and I often find myself dreaming of exotic beaches and salt infused breezes. The constant drizzle outside then snaps me back into reality as I am faced with day after day of grey skies and minimal daylight. I could move to California where glossy advertisements from Disneyland and Napa Valley hold promise for constant sunshine and eternal happiness, but the logistics of such a move are daunting. Instead, I reminisce of adventures past where the warmth of sunny beaches is almost tangible on my skin -- or perhaps that is just the space heater radiating hot dry air into my face. Either way, I am utilizing some visual therapy to remind me that the sun will return, and if not I will go in a desperate search for it. Truth be told - my friend Natalie and I recently booked tickets to a tropical oasis in the Caribbean, but you'll just have to wait and see where we end up.

So I now take you back two summers ago when Dan and I made the trek to a small island in Greece called Kefalonia. It was there that we practiced the art of Greek living: sleeping late, enjoying long meals on sun lit terraces, and dancing the night away on cozy, cobbled squares.


We had the best instructors -- we were there visiting friends who are originally from Kefalonia, along with all their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. To say our experience was truly Greek would be an understatement. We lived and breathed like the Greeks do, participating in all the local customs and traditions and learning all that we could from our friends.


My friend Tamara's family lives in a small community just outside the bustling port city of Argostoli. The town -- if you could even call it that -- was so small that the only amenities included a little shop out of a home where cold sodas and ice creams were available for purchase. The rest of the time the only indication of activity came in the early mornings and late afternoons as a cacophony of bells echoed through the valley while goats were herded through the fields.


Tamara's family is from a long line of olive growers. Her family still owns an olive grove and we spent an afternoon walking through the fields of trees learning about the importance and history of olive trees in the Greek Islands. Still to this day their entire small community gets together for a huge festival to harvest the olives and celebrate in the bounty of the earth.


We spent our mornings lounging on the terrace overlooking the arid fields to the blue of the Mediterranean. Our meals were some of the best I have ever had - fresh local bread, ripe juicy fruits, and the unforgettable tang of handmade feta cheese. It took awhile to become accustomed to the schedule of meals - breakfasts around 11, a small lunch around 2, and a large lingering dinner around 10 in the evening.


My favorite beach on Kefalonia was Myrtos Beach where smooth white pebbles comprised the sloped shoreline. It was here that scenes from Captain Corelli's Mandolin were filmed. The blue of the water was electric, and the people were more beautiful than any I have encountered.


We also visited the town of Assos, where we hiked to the remains of a 16th century Venetian castle. The views of Assos were breathtaking.


We took our time exploring the ruins and many of the other abandoned construction projects surrounding the fields around the castle. Our friends were well traversed in the land and took us to many hidden churches and homes - long since left to deteriorate. As always next to my toned and tanned Greek friends I felt like a plump, white country bumpkin.


The sunsets were stunning as they illuminated the parched land and set everything aglow. At the time of our visit, Kefalonia had gone over two months without a single drop of rain. Coming from a city where it rains practically three quarters of the year, I couldn't fathom such aridness.


It was difficult to leave Kefalonia. We had truly fell in love with the Greeks and their culture. The weather was pristine, the food to die for, and the beauty of the land unmatched. Our friends had taught us the Greek way of living - one where family is cherished, food is savored, and conversations are thoughtful.


Forget California, I think if I could, I would find a way back to this island paradise and spend the rest of my days growing olives and eating feta cheese. Don't tell anyone though, but I might start to miss the rain.

Posted by Jennylynn 19:36 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Ode to Switchfoot

Oh Switchfoot, how I love thee, let me count the ways...

My love affair with Switchfoot began 10 years ago. Unlike previous musical obsessions my fondness for Switchfoot stemmed not from a love affair with young musicians, but rather was based on a deep appreciation for their music. In many ways Switchfoot was with me through many defining moments in my life, and their music often provided the strength and hope I needed to get through very difficult times.

This past week I saw Switchfoot in concert at the Showbox in Seattle. Although I've seen them in concert too many times to count, they never fail to deliver an inspirational and highly energetic show. The place was packed with probably over 600 people from all walks of life. Young, old, preppy, grunge, drunk, and sober -- it was a very eclectic mix.


I was very disappointed that I wasn't allowed to bring my SLR camera into the show (apparently carrying a large camera bag with extra lenses and flashes requires a photography pass), but to say I lack photos of Switchfoot is quite the understatement. So although these shots are from concerts long ago, they will have to suffice. I apologize for the lack of quality as these are from my pre-digital days and have been scanned.





I've also been lucky enough to meet the band on several occasions. Usually these meet and greets happened before or after the shows, but I also once randomly ran into them when visiting Las Vegas.


Although my large camera wasn't allowed in, I still got to bring my point and shoot into the show and got a few decent video clips:

So what does this have to do with travel?? Here are my two cents: Music is such a deeply personal facet of life. If you've ever listened to a song and suddenly been transported back in time to a memory of your past, you know what I'm referring to. When travelling I often pick a new CD or song and listen to it frequently throughout the trip. Years later whenever I hear that same song I am vividly brought back to that place more so than any photo or video could convince me. Just like Switchfoot often seems like the soundtrack to my life, many other bands have enhanced the soundtrack of travel, making for an even more memorable travel experience.

Posted by Jennylynn 11:08 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)

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