Greystone Mansion – Los Angeles, California

Back in June my husband had to be in Los Angeles for work so I tagged a long for a semi cheap vacation. I did a lot of walking while down there, since he had the rental car and I was mostly on my own. I spent a lot of that time wandering around the Sunset Blvd. And one of those ended (not really ended because I had to walk back) at Greystone Mansion. Greystone is the former home of Ned Doheny, son of oil tycoon Edward Doheny .  Ned’s life ended in scandal in a mysterious murder suicide with his male secretary only a short while after having moved into his newly completed home.

He was survived by his wife and five children. The house is now a city park, or at least the grounds are. The house itself is used privately for events and not open to the public normally. Though tours can be arranged through the Friends of Greystone, the organization that currently manages the park.

However the grounds are free to the public for 10am to 6pm daily. To see the interior of the building however, you can check out the wide array of movies and TV shows that used the location. Such as my all time favorite Gilmore Girls, where it was used as Rory’s high school, Chilton Academy. It was also used as the Royal Children’s Hospital in Star Trek into Darkness, where can watch Benedict Cumberbatch stand outside the building looking ever so dreamy.

The rules of the grounds are quite strict. Though given how incredible they are and how impeccably well kept I can’t blame them. No dog, picnics, skate boarding allowed. And professional photography is only allowed via permit attained at the park office (so please forgive my unprofessional photos, which they always are, because I am lazy).

To get into the grounds you surprisingly go past the main gate up the road….and turn left. Then continue up past the house to the parking lot. The hill is steep, and I was on foot. I thought I was going to keel over, I was so thrilled when I got to the top and caught my breath enough to enjoy the gardens. I walked all over the grounds, snapping unprofessional photos and enjoying the view.

The mansions exterior is stunning. I walked so far around the grounds I wound up at the bottom of the property on the inside of the main gate, which was not an exit. I was promptly turned back around by the security guard and told to exit the same way I came in. Which was at the top of the giant hill I had just walked up and down. I may have whimpered a bit at the realization that I had to walk back up it. Oh well, I took the stairs with my chin held high, well I was actually watching the stairs because I was about 8 miles into my day and my legs were getting a little jello-ie.

The voyeuristic side of me wished I could have toured the interior. And I may have more than once tried to tiptoe through the rose bushes to see into the windows. That being said, the grounds were truly stunning and the view unforgettable. For everyone with time on their hands and an affinity for architecture or garden design I would highly suggest a visit.

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24 hours in Minneapolis – Minneapolis, Minnesota

The final post in this edition of Minneapolis is a whirl wind and that is because the last leg of this trip was that as well. I only had 24 hours after my last meeting to experience more of the city than the skyway and my office building. And luckily for me the weather was incredible!

Shop: I Like You

It is a little like the Made in Oregon store but for a younger or perhaps just more kitsch. T shirts, cards, candles, jewelry, art, you name it they have it all handmade in Minnesota  and in some way touting the Minnesota theme. It was lovely and had I had a larger suitcase with me more people would have received Minnesota themed gifts that year.

Do: Minneapolis River-walk

The Twin Cities is built around the Mississippi river and as such there is a very impressive expanse of walking trains around the area. I had a friend as a tour guide so we just took off and start taking pictures of the lovely scenery but if you are looking some sort of guidance this walking guide is quite nice.  It is about a 3 mile loop in all, it took us a few hours because we stumbled on a farmers market.

Eat: Mill City Farmers Market

The market is only only open on Saturdays BUT if you happen to find yourself in the area on a Saturday it is a must eat. Tons of vendors from snacks to sweets to full meals. Everything smelled amazing, we couldn’t decide so we just ate a lot of samples.

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Tour: Mill City Museum

Sadly I did not have time to go in, but the lobby of the Mill City Museum is impressive enough on it’s own for a stop through. The museum sits inside the ruins of what was once the largest flour mill in the world. Destroyed by a fire (did you know flour is explosive? I had no idea) the building was shored up and converted to a lovely history and art museum.

Trappist Abbey – Carlton, Oregon

Oddly since I have moved out of the city and closer to the mountains I am now further away from hiking trails. A situation I did not see coming when my husband and I were looking to leave the city. Turns out for hiking we moved in the wrong direction, again oddly since we are situated up against the Costal Mountain Range now.

Between prepping for my hiking trip in Ireland, getting a puppy and just generally wanting to be outdoors more and more I have been on a desperate search for trails. The one I have found so far is a trail on the property of the Trappist Abbey just outside Carlton, Oregon.

The abbey sits among some of the more beautiful bits of the Yamhill Valley wine growers region. The trail itself winds up past the monastery into the hills, leaving the lower trees which makes way for a section of oak dotted farm land and then back up into the heavily wooded areas of the end of the trail.

The hike is free, but they do ask you to be as quiet as possible when walking past the buildings as most of the monks that live on property have taken a vow of silence.

My main mistake on this hike was thinking that it would be dry. It hadn’t been raining for a couple weeks but I should have known with the amount of water we got this year the ground water wasn’t drying up anytime soon.

It was muddy, really really muddy. It was also mid poison oak bloom. So the entire hike was mostly me trying to keep a very excited 40lbs puppy from taking off into the giant fields of poison oak while having a poor footing on a three inch deep mud trial.

Poor planning.

We traversed the mud as far as possible but when the choice was ankle deep mud or shrubs I chose to turn around. From what I can tell though the trail goes quite a bit further than we managed and I plan to go back as soon as my new boots are properly broken in.

I would highly suggest the trail for anyone but in particular someone looking for some stillness. It is dead quiet on the trail partly because of the location and party because of the rules they ask you to follow when on the trail.

When visiting the abbey please be respectful of their rules. They are kind enough to offer the trail up the public but don’t have to do so as it does inevitably cause disruption to their monastic life. You will likely pass a monk or two on the trail, but as many have take a vow of silence remember to be respectful and don’t be offended if they don’t engage in conversation with you. Dogs are allowed but should be leashed the whole time, and as always pick up after them! They also ask you to not bring any electronics with you, which I didn’t realize until after I left. This includes cameras, clearly I managed to break that rule. Whoops! Now I know, next time I will comply.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands – Hillsboro, Oregon

One of my favorite local walking areas is the Fernhill Wetlands but since brining the pups home we don’t go there as much. It and the Jackson Bottom Wetlands are nature and bird preserves so dogs are prohibited.

However from time to time, we find our selves without the dog for a short period of time and wanting to get outside the Jackson Bottom Wetlands proves to be the perfect place for a walk.

The area is quite large and there are a good number of trails. Some of them were still flooded when we last went so not all the areas were open, but I think it took us about an hour to walk them all (again all that were actually open that day). It was spring, everything was in bloom and it was one of the first warm days of the year. The trails are very well maintained, well marked and despite the time of year very quiet. We only ran into a couple bird watchers.

Unlike the Fernhill Wetlands there is a very comprehensive interpretive center that holds community events and classes. They have in the past even had sunrise yoga classes outdoors on the observation decks, I would love to make it down for these. Fingers crossed I can get my act together soon!

 

To Visit:

  • Address: 2600 SW Hillsboro Hwy. Hillsboro, OR 97123
  • Open Hours: 10-4
  • Cost: Free but with a suggested donation of 2$ per person.

Ireland Hiking – Quarter Three

Wow, how is this already the third quarter of my Ireland hiking training!? In a year the trip will be over, how sad.

In other news we are officially booked with a tour group. We chose to go through a group so that we could save ourselves on transportation, hotel booking and from having to cart our gear around with us. I am the laziest hiker in the world, don’t judge, at least I am hiking. Next step we have to start figuring out flights, which turns out is not that easy going from a small town in Oregon to a small town in Ireland. Once we get more details settled and planned I will start sharing some tips on how to plan a similar trip.

As far as training is concerned it has been a slow summer, outdoor speaking.  I had high hopes of being able to get out over the summer, which I mentioned in my prior training post. But as summer came to a close the wildfires in the area got too bad to really spend a lot of time outside. I am hoping for everyone’s sake that the fires get under control soon and Oregon can go back to being the outdoor wonderland it normally is.

Most of my exercise has been working out via YouTube video instruction. Between Jessica Smith’s barre, and weight training workouts and Adriene’s yoga videos I have managed to really focus on strengthening those knee, ankle and stability muscles as well as getting more strength and flexibility in my arms and shoulders.

I have also managed to find a couple decent routes to walk the dog, which puts us up to about 6-10miles a day (depending on weather). And I have bought my hiking boots and have started to wear them on dog walks now and again to start breaking them in.

(Quarter 3) – September through November:

  • Continue daily strength and stretch exercises at home (15-45min daily).
  • Weekly hikes getting longer and adding the daypack with realistic weight.
    • Hopefully once the fires are squelched and the weather cools a bit we can get back to the woods.
  • Daily walks outside with dog for 6-10 miles.

Indian Canyons – Palm Springs California

Palm Springs is one of our favorite places in the world to hike. We always go in the winter when the weather here in Oregon is at its worst and the weather in the desert is the best. One of our favorite locals is Indian Canyons a group of hiking and equestrian trails on the native Aqua Caliente lands.

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There are couple trail heads and several trails at each trial head. Some hikes providing these lovely stream and palmed canyons and some higher up in the hills with endless views of the valley.

Admission costs are per car and then per person as well. The money goes to the native groups that live and work to maintain the land so I don’t mind one bit having to say it. Since there is a pay gate you have to wait in line, so I would suggest getting there early to avoid waiting. Some of the hikes are fairly long too so getting there early will behoove you anyway. When you drive in they provide a driving and trial map which helps since there really isn’t any road signs once you get in.

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Parking is also fairly limited at both trail heads so again, get there early. At the main trail head there is a trading post that sells souvenirs and snacks as well as providing real bathrooms. The smaller trail head only has pit toilets.

I don’t think I would call any of the hikes easy, and I only say this because no matter how short some of the hikes may be there are still some very steep parts. Even getting to the interpretive area at the base of the main trail head you have to walk down a canyon hill from the parking lot and trading post.

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We have hiked the larger hills twice, once with my parents on an insanely sunny day and once we got to the top we spent most of the time just sitting and looking at the views. It was also REALLY hot for being December and I didn’t want to push it so I took a seat on a sunny rock and just enjoyed my surroundings.

The second time around we hiked alone and the weather was the exact opposite, we got warnings from the park rangers that it was raining in the hills and to look out for flash flooding. We brave stupid Oregonians pressed on, lucky for us it was just a light drizzle and because of the weather we had the trail to ourselves. It was beautiful to see the desert come to life with the light rain and to be all alone out there was restorative and peaceful. In retrospect it was pretty stupid, we could have really gotten hurt and probably should have just not gone that day.

Where: 38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA

When: Open daily October through June. Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July through September). 8am to 5pm, but last entrance is at 4pm.

How: By car to get there, it is quite far from town even though it looks like it is close to town. Once there you can go by foot or bring a horse and go by hoof.

As always please be prepared, hiking in the desert can be dangerous. Sunny weather can mean dehydration, sun stroke stumbling onto snakes or scorpions. Cloudy weather can mean flash flooding, trail wash outs and sink holes. Always dress appropriately, bring food, water, sun screen and a basic medical kit.

Fernhill Wetlands – Forest Grove, Oregon

There are an inordinate number of places to go walking and hiking in the Pacific North West. It is sort of what we are known for. The problem with this is two fold. First because we are known of our stunning views and gorgeous well-kept our door trails, everyone knows about it, and thus everyone is on them. Second because you can wind up in decision paralysis trying to decide exactly WHICH trail you want to take on while you are out visiting. And truth be told you really cannot go wrong.

If however, you are looking for something very specific it can be harder to locate that trail that is juuuuuuust right.If you happen to be looking for something that is easy, flat and you enjoy bird watching or nature photography this is your trail.

The wetlands are actually a water natural treatment facility first (but don’t worry it doesn’t smell funny) which has been expanded out and carefully landscaped to provide shelter for migratory birds.

I have spent a good amount of time there over this past spring and now into fall. I avoided it over the summer because I don’t like being hot and the entire trail is exposed. I truly love walking around this space, the one mile loop trail provides beautiful views of a very natural Oregon and the birds that live here.


I end up making several loops around the sanctuary a week. Because it is open, well traveled but not overly populated and close to my house it makes for a perfect and safe spot for someone walking alone.

To plan your visit start with the website here. If you want to continue your exploration of the area I suggest trying to Adiri Winery or McMenamins Grande Lodge.

Questions:

Are there any natural walking areas in your home town that you just LOVE?

 

 

Quarter 2 – Hiking Ireland

In my last training post I mentioned that back in April I was hoping to get outside more as spring progressed. Right on schedule (or incredibly delayed from normal years) spring decided to make an appearance at the end of May. And by spring I mean summer. We didn’t get any of our 65 and sunny weather this year. We went straight from torrential rain to 80s.

I did try to get out in the hills once in mid May, but I hadn’t yet gotten my boots so I was hiking in mud in my walking shoes (not waterproof). It also seemed to be the peak blooming season for poison oak so the pup and I spent most of the time in a cartoon like schlep up the hill ankle deep in mud trying to not slide into the giant patches of itchy oak. But of course because she is 6 months old, and a dog, there was no trying avoid it only trying to dive right into to. It was an adventure to say the least. Since then we have taken to walking around town while the mountains dry out a bit. I’ll try again soon, once my boots are a little more worn in.

Workouts!

Gym Days: I am temporarily on a gym hiatus and out enjoying the sun as much as possible. To see what I was doing while the weather was crummy check out last quarters workout.

Non Gym Days: 5-6 Days a week

  • Walk Dog: 4-8 miles a day
  • Mountain Climbers: 10 L/R (20 total) X 3
  • Crunches: 50 reps X 3
  • Left/Right Crunches: 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Standing Side Leg Lifts: 20 (40 total) X 3
  • Plié Squats (heels together and wide): 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Front and Side Bicep Curls: 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Shoulder Press: 10 reps X 3
  • Tricep Kickbacks: 12 reps X 3
  • Push ups: 10 reps X 5
  • V ups: 10 reps X 3
  • Left/Right Squats: 10 reps (20 total) X 3
  • Plank: 1 min or 2min alternating days.
  • 30 min Yoga routine concentrating on stretching and balance.

I have been separating out legs and arm days recently. Mostly just due to time. Life gets in the way and it is easier to do a little less. Rather than feel overwhelmed and skip the whole thing.

I have no major training hikes planned yet, still trying to get the dog used to walking long periods of time. But stay tuned on Instagram (@wheresashawent) for any spontaneous outings.

Hiking Joshua Tree

We visited Joshua Tree the first time we went to Palm Springs California. My step-dad actually wanted to hike there. And I chose to do something totally unprecedented and not plan a thing. I didn’t even research it. So going into the park I knew literally nothing, I just let myself experience and enjoy the park with no frame of reference.


Since we were hiking on Christmas Day and the actual ranger station would be closed we drove up a couple days before to get a feel for where we needed to go for the hike that had been chosen.

From Palm Springs you drive up highway 62, through Morongo Valley and through Yucca Valley which looks like driving through Thunder Mountain at Disneyland, and then finally through Joshua Tree. You take a right just past the town of Joshua Tree on Park Boulevard, the road turns into Quail Springs Road where the Ranger Station will be located on the right, you can’t miss it, there is a sign, and a lot of cars.

We stopped in at the ranger station, talked to a couple people about the best day hikes and got a driving map for the park. If you do nothing else at the station I would suggest getting a driving map for the park. It is quite large and cell service is pretty spotty, so I wouldn’t necessarily rely on your phone’s GPS applications to keep you from getting lost.

After our fact finding mission we drove up to Pioneertown. The town was built for filming  early westerns. The town was a lot smaller than I would have imagined but it is worth the drive if you are a movie buff or just like old things. The buildings are nearly all facades built out to scale but you can still interact with them and there are a million places to take pictures. There is also a hotel and a saloon you can eat at. Sadly for us we managed to be there the one day of the week the Pappy & Harriets is closed. But I have heard they have some of the best food in the area and have live music nightly. Next time we head up that way we will certainly plan better.

On Christmas Day we woke up early and made our way back up to the park again. The drive through the park is amazing, and even though I don’t love desert-scapes as much as other natural areas I was in awe the entire time.

We had chosen to hike the Lost Horse Mine trail which is a four mile loop out in open desert. The hike wasn’t hard but it certainly wore us out. Being fully exposed to sun for that number of hours is draining, but the views were worth every minute. We took our first break at the mine itself, spending extra time hiking around the area and taking pictures. We continued on the trail to the spectacular views of the park and past the old home site. Then on the easy part of the trail, which was mostly sand and gravel. So while flat it was actually fairly hard to hike through.

It was a good thing we had gotten there early, by the time we got back to the parking lot people were having to park out along the road and hike up to the trail head. We took a few minutes to use the restroom and have a snack and then high tailed it out of there so that people could have our parking spot.

We ended out the day driving around the park a bit and taking a peek at some of the interpretive areas. We got pretty hungry toward the end of the day, cheese and cracker snacks don’t last forever! So we took the long drive back to our rental house and had a nice Christmas dinner. Aside from our trip to Barcelona this was probably my favorite Christmas to date.

Things to Remember when heading into Joshua Tree National Park:

  • As with all national parks, the lands and wildlife in them are protected for a reason. Be kind and respectful, don’t leave trash, damage plants or walk off trail.
  • Wildlife here isn’t always nice: cactus, scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes and other large game make their home here. Be safe.
  • Always back more food and water than you need. It is the desert and it is a high desert meaning you are loosing more water than you realize and can easily become dehydrated with very little exertion.
  •  Cover your head and wear sun screen. Many people think “I tan well” so you don’t need to protect yourself but sun stroke is very common and covering your head well is just about the only thing you can do to prevent it.

 

Questions:

Have you ever been to Joshua Tree? What was your favorite part about it? Or if you haven’t been what is your favorite California Park?

Training for Ireland – Quarter 1

As I have mentioned in the summer of 2018 I will be hiking the Dingle Way in Ireland. A looped trail through towns scattered along the Dingle Peninsula on the south western end of Ireland. The hike will be fairly low in elevation, it will be more of a endurance hike than a haul up a mountain. It could be wet, it could be cold, it could be hot, I could be walking on roads or scrambling up a mossy hill.  I have to be ready for it all.

For the first quarter of my training I am keeping things mostly indoors and starting slow. Our weather has been so bad this winter the last thing that resembled a hike was hauling up a hill in Lisbon, where in a normal year I would be in the woods almost weekly.

I will be focusing on 6 key areas that I will then change up and build on as the next year and a half proceeds.

  1. Stair Work: Walking up stairs is a basic movement common in all hikes at some point or another. I want to get my muscles used to the motion and build the strength to pull up with proper posture.
  2. Walking: Walking on flat ground or slight incline  will be the majority of my hike. I walk a lot and tend to be fairly lazy about my posture, failing into my lower back which causes soreness. My training will focus on proper posture and distance as time goes on.
  3. Leg Strength: I have fairly strong legs but it is mostly quad strength, I need to start working on a more well rounded strength routine to help avoid injury.
  4. Balance work: I fall a lot. I don’t tend to hurt myself but I do take a decent amount of tumbles. The best way to avoid injury overall is to make sure balance is top notch so I will doing a good amount of balance work through yoga to ensure I don’t fall and break something while hiking.
  5. Core Strength: As mentioned I tend to have a pretty lazy posture, core strength will help me from falling into my low back when walking and thus remove risk of back issues while walking all day.
  6. Shoulder Strength: Arm and shoulders aren’t the most important thing for a hiker. But it is important to have a sturdy foundation for your pack straps. So I will focus most of my upper body workout around shoulder work so that I can avoid as much soreness as possible.

Workouts!

Gym Days: 3-4 Days a week

  • Stairmaster: 20 min 2-3 days a week
  • Hanging leg lifts: 10 reps X 3
  • Shoulder Press: 12 reps X 3
  • Lateral Pull Down: 12 reps X 3
  • Chest Press: 12 reps X 3
  • Treadmill: 40 min 1-2 days a week
  • Leg Extensions: 12 reps X 3
  • Leg Press: 12 reps X 3
  • Hamstring Curl: 12 reps X 3
  • Seated Hip Abductor: 12 reps X 3

On days that I do the Stairmaster my strength training is concentrated on abs and arms and days that I do the treadmill I do heavy leg strength conditioning. And I always end a gym day with 10 min in the sauna and a good deep stretch routine.

Non Gym Days: 3-4 Days a week

  • Walk Dog: 1- 3 miles a day
  • Mountain Climbers: 10 L/R (20 total) X 3
  • Crunches: 50 reps X 3
  • Left/Right Crunches: 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Standing Side Leg Lifts: 20 (40 total) X 3
  • Plié Squats (heels together and wide): 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Front and Side Bicep Curls: 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Shoulder Press: 10 reps X 3
  • Tricep Kickbacks: 12 reps X 3
  • Push ups: 10 reps X 5
  • V ups: 10 reps X 3
  • Left/Right Squats: 10 reps (20 total) X 3
  • Left/Right Fire Hydrant: 10 reps (20 total) X 3
  • 30 min Yoga routine concentrating on stretching and balance.

I technically walk my dog everyday but if it is not a gym day I make sure we go a bit further. Right now I do try to switch up my days between gym and non gym so that long dog walks occur on days where the weather is a bit nicer. This will become easier as spring progresses over the next two months. I also do not do all of these things everyday or all at once. I work from home so I take breaks to do a set of a couple exercises, do some at lunch and also in the evening during tv breaks.