In January I decided I needed a vacation, preferably somewhere warm. I was debating a couple options and ultimately (and easily) decided on Austin, Texas. I’ve been to Dallas a few times for my last job, but never Austin. Plus, I have a friend who just moved there (Sam) and a friend in Dallas who could drive down for the weekend (Margaret). SOLD.
I decided to book a long weekend in February, arriving in Austin on a Friday and leaving on a Monday. It’s a quick flight from O’hare and definitely a great easy weekend trip.
On Day One, I flew in to Austin and Margaret drove down from Dallas and met me at the airport. We went immediately to a food truck stand for tacos and then pigged out on some Gourdough’s Big Fat Donuts. They are as big and fat as advertised.
2016 was a pretty good year for me travel-wise, so I decided to do a wrap up post of my favorite places and photos of the year.
San Francisco, CA
3.29.16 – 3.30.16 | work trip
My first work travel of the year was Dallas but I don’t have any fun pictures from that so we’ll begin with San Francisco (one of my absolute favorite places). This shot was taken at Baker Beach at sunset.
I was originally planning to spend a day and a half here, but it turns out I could really only go to one part of the park (Diablo Lake) since snow was still covering a lot of trails and roads. Lesson learned: go to North Cascades in the middle of summer. I decided to spend the day around Diablo Lake and then leave earlier the next day for my drive to Mt. Rainier. It was so worth it (even if there are parts of the park I missed)!
The Diablo Lake Overlook is a must see. I’m guessing it’s the most popular destination in the park (or one of them). In the morning the lake was so calm everything was reflected. Gorgeous.
Olympic National Park was the first stop on the second week of my trip (Seattle > Olympic > North Cascades > Mt. Rainier). I was originally going to do a post with all three parks but realized I have way too many pics, so this post is dedicated solely to Olympic National Park (if you keep reading you’ll see why).
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
— DAY 1 —
I’m absolutely amazed by Olympic National Park. This park has it all: rainforest, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, coastline. I didn’t have enough time to drive to some of the beaches (they were 2-3 hours away) so I’ll definitely have to come back. I did get to explore three very different areas of the park.
The first thing I did was drive to the Lake Crescent Lodge. I walked around a bit and snapped some photos before heading out on the Marymere Falls trail. You can drive along Lake Crescent and stop along the way to take photos (I may have done that 1-25 times).
Two weeks. Six National Parks. This was a trip a long time in the making. It started in San Francisco with friends from high school and ended with a week-long National Park trip I did myself. Crazy? I’m still not sure. But it was AMAZING. All two weeks.
We started with a couple days exploring the San Francisco area, including walking around Lands End and watching the sunset from a fire pit at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay. I love San Francisco, so I was more than happy to spend a couple days there before leaving for Yosemite.
I just got back from an amazing trip to New Mexico and Arizona. My friend Maggie and I went to visit our friend Leah in Gallup, NM. We went two years ago and went on a road trip to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. That was one of my favorite trips and where I decided that I would make a goal to go to every National Park in the United States.
This trip started as all Gallup visits do: in Albuquerque.
We walked around Old Town for a bit while Leah finished work. I love the Southwestern details and colors. But most of all I love cacti.
On Friday evening we went on a hike in Gallup with Leah’s dog Wrigley. It was beautiful. Wrigley was the best climber in our group by far.
Saturday morning we drove to Sedona. We did a 7 mile hike on the West Fork Trail. It was AMAZING. I highly recommend it.
We found these water shoes for $10 at Safeway. Best. Purchase. Ever. We were able to hike further into the canyon down the creek and would not have been able to in our hiking shoes. They were also a necessity at Slide Rock State Park.
Sunset from Airport Mesa.
On Sunday we went to Slide Rock State Park, a popular attraction due to the natural water slide and a place to jump off a cliff. But, it’s so much more than that! Just hike down the stream. I promise you won’t regret it. Some of it required a bit of swimming. My five years of lifeguard training definitely came in handy when I swam with one arm up current while holding my iPhone in my other.
Petrified Forest National Park
On the way back to Gallup we stopped at Petrified Forest National Park, known for its Petrified Wood and geological history. It was the perfect stop on our trip back. We drove through the park and got out and walked around various lookout points.