Category Archives: Day Trip
For my one-monthiversary of becoming a flight attendant, I decided to go to Hawaii. OK, I actually figured out how to get a work trip there, but that’s still pretty cool because it’s considered an international destination (it’s more than a certain number of miles over water) and no one in my class had really done a cool trip like that yet. I was pretty excited as I boarded the plane and my crew told me a little about the hotel (Ala Moana) and that it was within walking distance of Waikiki Beach, and I began to plan out my 24-hour stay.
I called up one of my friends from Semester at Sea who lives in Honolulu, and to my delighted surprise she offered to drive me around wherever I wanted to go. I decide that I wanted to go to Pearl Harbor, and after a long flight we drove there and I spotted the USS Arizona memorial across the water. Unfortunately, the last boat had gone for the day and we were left with just the USS Bowfin submarine museum and the visitor’s center, but that was fine by me. The weather was humid and it sprinkled rain on me as I paid my respects to the men lost in naval battles around the world.
All that history had made me hungry, so I asked my friend to take me to a place where locals would go. She took me to a little place called Yama’s Fish Market, where I bought tried ahi poke, with its strong soy sauce flavor, and indulged in some yummy kalua pig. If you’re ever in Hawaii, you must try kalua pig! It’s delicious and completely heart-healthy (not). Instead of going to trendy Waikiki to eat, my friend took me to the other side of Diamond Head to a very small beach called Cromwell’s, near Queen’s Bath, a place I never would have discovered without her. We sat in the golden sand and ate with our plastic forks as the sun turned the sky pink, and a curious honu (sea turtle) poked its head above the waves to say hello. And I was getting paid for it all.
When I lived in San Diego, I was never brave enough to join the throngs of 18-year-olds who ventured south of the border to Tijuana. It was just a little too risky for me. Things are different in Ensenada, Mexico, where cruise ships are the main source of tourism income. I have just now completed my third cruise from Los Angeles with a stop in Ensenada, so I thought a blog post was in order to describe and recommend this surprisingly large Mexican city.
There is plenty to keep you busy in and around Ensenada, from food and drink to cultural activities to bueno shopping. The three times I have been there, I have had a day of shopping, a day of horseback riding on the beach, and a trip to La Bufadora outside of town. 1st Street, about a 10-minute walk from the cruise ship pier, offers many stalls with Mexican curios. With leather and silver being the most popular items, anything you would want to buy can be found on this street. Hussong’s Cantina is the oldest in Baja California and supposedly invented the margarita, so it is obviously a good choice for a drink. The fish taco was also reportedly first made in Ensenada, although Wikipedia doesn’t confirm or deny this for me. I guess we’ll never know.
My last visit allowed me to visit La Bufadora, a small coastal community about an hour outside of Ensenada. It is famous for its ocean bufadora, or blowhole, which is the largest in the world and sprays water impressively high into the air. I liked it okay, but I thought the beautiful coastal cliffs added to the scene. There is also a market to explore, where men offer you samples of piña colada and try to sell you “things you don’t need”. If only I weren’t unemployed at the time, or I would have plenty of knock-off Michael Kors and Prada purses to show off. The piña coladas sure were tasty, though.
I’ve done the shopping and La Bufadora, but the first time I went to Ensenada I had to go horseback-riding on the beach. Amongst much botched Spanglish, we were able to barter for a few (ill-fed) horses and went for a leisurely ride along the Baja shore. The horses ambled along and stopped at every patch of grass to refuel, but it was relaxing and I’ll always be a slave to a refreshing ocean breeze. And I may have wanted to have a photo of me on a horse on the beach like Rose in Titanic. Just sayin’.
If you’re not afraid of all the bad press Mexico gets, I highly recommend Ensenada either for a Baja road or a fun booze cruise out of Los Angeles. Olé!
North Cascades National Park is a place many national park enthusiasts may miss in their travels. Had I not already been in southern British Columbia with a full tank of gas and nothing to do, I would have missed it myself. I’m very glad I went however, because the park is a diamond in the rough.
Not for the faint of heart, North Cascades National Park doesn’t provide your normal tourist activities and flashing draws. There is no Old Faithful, there are no ‘rustic’ cabins to sleep in, and the mountains offer no solace for the weak. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the park with Kerri, but we just planned to drive through and stuff at an overlooks or plaques we could find, and bask in the beauty of the peaks towering over us.
We weaved and turned through rural towns, just looking for the entrance to the park, which itself is hidden in mountainous terrain. I maneuvered the car between a cliff and the gorgeous Skagit River, its flowing turquoise water sparkling in the unpolluted sunlight. We made our way into the park and found the visitor’s center, which was nestled amongst the pine trees. Kerri and I wandered around and learned about the indigenous flora and fauna. I wandered down a wooded path and was struck by the weight of the silence. I alertly listened for bears; I wanted to see one, but am not sure what I would have done had I seen one.
The view was awe-inspiring. I knew I would never make it to the interior of this beautiful park, but I felt myself blessed to scrape the surface of this corner of the majestic Cascades. After some quiet reflection, we decided to drive as far as the road went until it exited the other side of the park. I followed the bends past the dams that light Seattle and the snow-capped peaks that loomed over us. We ended the drive at Diablo Lake, and lake that looked like it was filled with blue-green gel because the water was so opaque with its ingredients. We drank in the scenery to our hearts’ content and then piled back in the car to begin the return trip to Vancouver.
My experience with North Cascades National Park was brief and cursory, but it made an impression on me. The looming silence and sheer size of the landscape was enough to draw my gaze and my mind and to do nothing but be completely in the moment. I have no doubt that the interior of the park is a haven for hikers and backpackers that wish to penetrate the inner recesses of this beautiful landscape, if that is what you seek. Kerri and I, however, were just looking for an escape for the day that would open our minds to a new and exciting grandeur. North Cascades National Park has a secret, and I feel that it was whispered to me so low that I could not catch what it was. Maybe next time.