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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Category: Washington

The Most Bizarre Beaches on My Instagram

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

Both my husband and I were born and raised on the coast. We have always lived close to the water and the ocean. I am from a small town in Finland and my husband is from California, so water is a familiar element for us. And like many others, we often head to beach destinations for vacation. So it is not a surprise that there are many pictures of beaches on my Instagram account. 

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THERE IS MORE TO DO AT THE BEACH THAN JUST TAN YOURSELF

There is so much you can do at the beach. We don't really go to the beach to tan ourselves. Instead, we like to go to beach for snorkeling or swimming. And that is why I really miss warm waters. And of course having kids has changed things too. Kids just love the beach and could play or collect seashells for hours. Unfortunately, I think my kids will not set their feet in the cold waters of Scandinavia like I did as a kid. They are only used to swimming in warm waters.

Here in Northern California the ocean is rarely warm enough for swimming, but we liked to go to the beach anyway. It is nice to get some fresh air and maybe even have a picnic. It is fun to walk around the beach and check our what kind of sea life the waves have brought in. And many of the beaches have tide pools where you can see little sea creatures that got trapped during high tide. A few times, I have been horseback riding at the beach. There is nothing cooler to a horse lover than a nice ride at the beach! Here in California you can do it in many places, and I wish I could do it more often. In Washington, we did a bicycle ride at the beach. 

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THE MOST BIZARRE BEACHES WE HAVE SEEN

While traveling around the world, we have of course seen all kinds of beaches. The most unique of them have been here in the United States. The Green Sand Beach is the most rare beach we have seen; there are only three of them in the world! We visited one in the Big Island, Hawaii a few years ago. The most bizarre beach was maybe the Glass Beach in Fort Brag, California. The glass comes from an old garbage dump that used be on the beach. Sparkling in the sun, the beach looked like it was full of diamonds.  

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An interesting beach is also the Bowling Ball Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. In order to see the round, bowling ball rocks you must be at the beach on the right time; during the low tide. We were not able to hit that, but at least we managed to see a few of the rocks. Black sand beaches are also interesting. The picture is from Reynisfjara, Iceland which is close to the village of Vik. We also visited a black sand beach on the Big Island, Hawaii called Punaluu, and there is one even here in the San Francisco Bay Area; Ocean Beach. 

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Then there are two interesting beaches we went to where you can't swim. One is located by the Pacific Coast Highway in San Simeon, California, where the beach goes on and on but is occupied by elephant seals. The other beach marks the southernmost point of the United States and is located in Hawaii.

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We still need to see the famous pink beach! I have forgotten where it is, but that would complete our list.

And since I love the ocean, I don't mind spending time there during the winter. You can even ski on top of the ice in Finland. But here in California, we already got some lovely, warm days this week!

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Taking Over the Oregon and Washington Coast

Paula Gaston

I have been meaning to write about our trip to Oregon and Washington State for a long time, but something always comes up. I think it is now time for me to tell you what my friend and I did in Portland and the surrounding areas. We really didn't have any other reason to go there than just vacationing and seeing the sites. Even though we were there only from Thursday to Sunday, we had time to see the coast, the Tillamook Cheese factory, the Bonneville Dam, many waterfalls, Mt. St. Helens and the city of Portland.

We landed in Portland on Thursday morning and went to get our rental car. We hopped in and headed to Mount St. Helens volcano, and from there down to the coast. A weekend full of adventures was waiting for us! 

Portland

Portland

Mount ST. HELENS - A SLEEPING VOLCANO

Mount St. Helens lies in the Cascades, about three hours drive north of Portland. The white, snowy tops of the mountain could be seen far away, and looked beautiful against the blue, sunny sky. We drove up on the mountain road but not all the way to the snow. The visitor center had a great museum of the volcano and its eruptions. Some brave people still live right by the mountain.

Even though the volcano is sleeping now, not long ago it was still active. In 1980 it erupted, destroying 250 houses, many miles of a railway, bridges and freeways. 75 people died. In 2004 the volcano woke up again, and in 2005 it let out volcanic ash and gas that could be seen all the way in Seattle. Luckily, nothing worse happened that time, and in 2008 they determined that the eruption had finally stopped and Mount St. Helens had gone back to sleep again.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

BIKING IN LONG BEACH

From the volcano we drove to the Washington coast line. Since it was getting late, we checked into a nice little motel. Long Beach was obviously a holiday destination since it was full of amusement parks, restaurants and beaches. But since it was the off season, many of the places were closed. Our motel provided us some bicycles to use, so we headed to the beach before the sun set. It was so much fun, and even a little spooky, since it was really foggy at the beach. 

Long Beach, Washington

Long Beach, Washington

Riding a bicycle at the beach was fun, but it was so cold that we needed many layers of clothes.

Riding a bicycle at the beach was fun, but it was so cold that we needed many layers of clothes.

The next day we drove to Cape Disappointment State Park which was close by. We hiked to a light house and enjoyed some coastal air. This is one of the most foggy places in the whole Unites States, and the light house is hidden by fog about 106 days a year. We were lucky to enjoy some sun though. Cape Disappointment has been named after a fur trader John Maeres who was looking for a trading place, but turned his boat to the north and missed the whole cape. 

Very close to Cape Disappointment is an old army fort; Fort Columbia. The 12 wooden houses on the area were also used by the army. Fort Columbia was built for protection at the Columbia river. Now, it is part of Lewis & Clark National and State Parks.

Cape Disappointment

Cape Disappointment

Fort Columbus - 12 wooden structures are still standing by the fort

Fort Columbus - 12 wooden structures are still standing by the fort

THE FINNISH COMMUNITY OF ASTORIA

After the hike we drove to the other side of the Columbia river, to Oregon, and visited a small town called Astoria. We were surprised to see some Finnish flags here and there. It turned out, that the town was originally started by Finnish immigrants. We stopped at the Finnish Hall, and we also found a little store selling Finnish goods as well as a Finnish sauna. Later we also drove past a Finnish church.

Astoria-Megler Bridge. There were so many bridges on the Columbia river. 

Astoria-Megler Bridge. There were so many bridges on the Columbia river. 

Suomi Hall in Astoria

Suomi Hall in Astoria

Astoria

Astoria

Since our plan was to stay the night at Seaside on the Oregon coast, we headed south from Astoria. On our route was Fort Clatsop which is part of Lewis & Clark National Historical Park so we decided to stop there quickly. This place served as an encampment for the Lewis and Clark Expedition when they arrived in Oregon in 1805. The name Clatsop comes from the native americans who resided on the area. The original structure has been destroyed but there is a replica of it which one can visit.

From Fort Clatsop we drove over to Fort Stevens State Park where we visited an old ruin, and walked around a beach. Fort Stevens was built for the army in 1863 and it was used for example in World War II. At this point we had got our share of history for the day, and we decided to drive over to Seaside and look for a place to stay. The whole day had been cloudy and it was raining on and off. 

Fort Clatsop

Fort Clatsop

Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens

SEASIDE

Seaside by the coast of Oregon was pretty much like Long Beach we visited earlier; made for tourists, but it was much bigger. There were hotels everywhere and even the beach was much bigger. The views were beautiful so I can fully understand why some people choose to vacation there. Since it was out of season, many businesses were closed, but we weren't bothered by that, since our intent was just to spend the night and then move on. After a short sightseeing tour and dinner, we went for a couple of drinks and then headed to bed. It was raining so we didn't mind the early night.

For the next day we planned a visit to the Tillamook Cheese factory, but more about that later!

 

National Lighthouse Day

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

Did you know, that there is a day dedicated to lighthouses? Here in the US, National Lighthouse Day is celebrated on August 7th. Since I have always lived on the coast in Finland and here in California, I am used to seeing and visiting lighthouses on my trips.

Point Reyes National Seashore is pretty close to where we live, so we have visited there multiple times. The lighthouse was first opened in 1870 and it served for 105 years. Now it is one of the most visited places in this national park. You can visit inside the lighthouse, but not before you walk down the 308 stairs to it. Next to the lighthouse there is a little museum. It is absolutely worth it to go down to the lighthouse, but just remember that you also must climb the stairs back up. If you are lucky, you might see some whales or sea lions from the lighthouse. 

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These two lighthouses above, we visited on our road trip up the Northern California coast. The one on the left, Point Cabrillo Light Station, is still in use, and is located in Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park on the Pacific Coast Highway. Inside the lighthouse they have a little museum and a gift shop. The lighthouse on the right is on the same road and has been seen in many movies. Point Arena Lighthouse is also open for visitors but you have to purchase a ticket to get on the tour.  

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Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was opened in 1856 and it is located in Washington state. The lighthouse is in a state park with some beautiful views and hiking trails around it. I think I still have some stories from this particular trip to be written. On the right is the Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands. It is a great destination if you are visiting San Francisco, but you should check the opening hours before going. It can only be accessed through a tunnel which is only open for certain hours.

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In May I visited San Diego, California and of course stopped at some lighthouses as well. At Cabrillo National Monument (left) one can visit Old Point Loma Lighthouse. One can visit the lighthouse inside and even climb up to the light tower. The picture on the right is from the New Point Loma Lighthouse which is not open to visitors. The lighthouse was featured in the Top Gun movie.

I'm sure we will visit many other lighthouses in the future, since we love to drive on the California coast. I hope that next summer we can visit some lighthouses on our trip to Finland as well, and maybe even stay the night at one of them!