Friday, January 24, 2014

Pinterest Pins Made Easy

Pinterest is a great way to see something you like, but aren't ready for it now, and save it for later.

For example we are doing some remodeling to our house.  I know I am going to need lights in my daughter's bathroom, but I don't know what I want yet.  The problem is, the lights need to be wired NOW.  So, two on the side, one on the top, what?  Pinterest to the rescue.  I can see images of what I like, get it wired, then, when I'm ready to order the light (because who has an extra 1000 square feet for storing for this stuff?), I'll know what I had in mind.  (Ever had three bathrooms all being gutted and then having to go back and wonder what you're thoughts were at the time?  Not easy.)

Another great purpose:  Recipes.  I always have certain ingredients and no clue what to make.  Ground beef, peppers and tomato sauce.  Keyword those and I've got 100 recipes.  And now I'm hungry.

Need motivation?  There's a pin for that.  I am always looking at the next big thing (it's not a gift - I often wish I could be content where I am, but I'm not wired that way).  Where in the world are we going to go this time? (literally).  If I make a board of tropical islands, that is going to motivate me to get off the computer and make money to get there.

On the flip side, Pinterest can suck up a lot of time.  A.L.O.T. of time.  I've had to set the timer to make sure I only have a partial allowance rather than an open afternoon (because then it's dinnertime and the fam is clamoring for something to eat - hence the rush for a recipe most evenings).  

We've made it easy to pin to pinterest.  If you hover over every image, you will see the "circle P".  Simply click on the image and you've saved it to your board.  Easy, peasy, dream away.

See the "Circle P"?  That means one click and that image is pinned on your board.

We are always finding new stuff so pop on over to our Pinterest and have a look around:

Yup, piecesofthejour because there wasn't enough space for piecesofthejourney.  Go figure.  I probably could have looked up character numbers when I came up with the name, but I was too busy on Pinterest.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Save the Best For Last - Choosing Your Road Trip Accomodations

When I started out my road trip career (around age 3 months), chances are, you didn't book motels/hotels ahead of time.  You just sort of drove along, figured you were tired, stopped and checked in.  Either that or you stopped the truck in the middle of the night and realized you were parked on the Continental Divide the next morning.  Or the parked Starfire next to the railroad tracks in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Because there was no internet, no travel guides, maybe a Frommers book, you simply followed a map and took what you got when you got there.

Man, it was simpler back then.

In 1991 I planned our first road trip that was mine and mine alone - well, and my brand new husbands.  I was a grown up (stoplaughing).  We knew we were going to Disneyland (which sort of smacks the previous "grown up" phrase to bits).  That was pretty much all we knew.  We would drive until it got sorta dark and then start checking out motels.

By this I mean we would literally walk into the office (no reservations), ask to see the room, check the bed, check the shower and decide then and there if we wanted to stay.  Price was a huge factor.  It had to be cheap.

By cheap, I mean poverty cheap.

In Tillamook we started at one end of town, checked three motels along the way and ended up backtracking to the first one.

This was just how it was done.

Photo courtesy of JC Imagery

Now we have the internet, TripAdvisor, reviews, Google, Bing, streetside views, Groupon, everything except virtual holograms that put you in the room.

When we started planning our Washington/Oregon trip we started out with a map and mapquest.  (Actually, the map was from Mapquest).  We plugged in our destination and then figured on the halfway points based on how many miles were in between.  We picked a town and started our hunt.

Five things had to be on the motel-menu:

  • Two queen size beds
  • Breakfast
  • Pool
  • Air Conditioning
  • Value - not necessarily cheap, but a good value

For the most part we got all five.  One didn't have a pool, one didn't have breakfast included (click here for my rant on that bit of trickery) and, once, value got tossed in lieu of comfort.

We found out that the pool wasn't that important, that breakfast was and ending the trip with the nicest motel really rounded out the trip.

When we walked into Pelican Shores in Lincoln City, Oregon, we didn't want to leave.  It was a good thing we didn't book this place first then have to follow it up the remainder of the trip.

This was the view.
Photo courtesy of JC Imagery

Walking in, we were awestruck with the view (helllloooo, did you see that sunset?), but only saw one bed.  I knew what to expect, but the rest of the fam didn't.  In a huge state of panic (finally getting past the view), my daughter walked stormed past the kitchen, crabbily checked out the bathroom then walked stalked  past it.

Into the second bedroom.

Baaaoooom, baby! 

The mood changing capabilities of a teenager is something scientists should look into.  Someone could make a bucket-load of money if they could capitalize on this phenomenon.

Our photo, not the one from the website.
Photo courtesy of JC Imagery

The beach was literally out our door, to the left, and down the motel stairs.

Photo courtesy of JC Imagery

The fact that it had that second bedroom meant that, after being stuck in at Toyota Higlander for three days, meant we could spread out.  (Read: the teenager could veg in peace.)

This place rejuvenated us enough that the next morning we were able to drive six hours home in peace.

To see more of Pelican Shores or any of their other Westover properties, click here:  Pelican Shores.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Breakfast Rip Off - Check Your Information

For a good many years, it has been tradition that breakfast is included in your motel stay.  Frankly, I budget for this.  I will pay a tad more (a tad) for a motel/hotel that provides breakfast.  I've gotten so fastidious about this that "continental breakfast" doesn't even hold up the bar.  It needs to include eggs, bacon, waffles, the whole gamut.  Again, I have it factored in that I'm paying for this.

After all, if a hotel costs me $20 more a night than it's neighbor, but involves a full buffet, that's $20 I don't have to spend in a restaurant.  Actually, it's more that I don't have to spend the challenge/time/fight to locate said restaurant.

For years this has been the norm.  Until our last road trip.  I got side-blinded by the Best Western in Bandon, Oregon.  I have stayed at my share of Best Westerns across the United States from Pullman, Washington to Miami, Florida.  They have always included breakfast.  I didn't think twice when I stepped out of my box and picked a chain over a quaint motel that was local to the area (which I usually prefer to do, only going with the big chain out of necessity) because the quaint motel didn't serve breakfast.

We checked in, vegged out, slept, in the morning went swimming and, on the way back from the pool enquired where the breakfast buffet was.

"Next door at Bandon Bill's Grill.  It's $6 per person."

WHAT?!!  My swimming-pool-dripping-self said.  I stood there, towel wrapped around my bikini swathed body, and had this conversation:

Me:  "What do you mean $6?  It's always included."
Her:  "Did you purchase the breakfast package when you booked?"
Me:  "Yes, I booked with you."
Her:  "There is a breakfast package you can option.  Let me check if you did that."  tap, tap, tap "No, it says you only booked the room."
Me:  "Yes, I booked a room.  That includes breakfast."
Her:  "Best Western has been trying something new since May.  The room rate has been lowered and doesn't include breakfast.  If you want breakfast, then click on that option and the rate increases.  Would you like breakfast?"

I walked off, thoroughly pissed.  Not pissed because I thought I was getting ripped off.  Pissed because the standard had changed and I was about to get charged for it.

Had I known to purchase this option at the time of booking, I don't know that I would have paid it then, either.  Adding on to what I thought was already the total?  It didn't make sense.  Yes, I got a lower rate.  In June.  It was now August and I had no idea what I paid back then, but now they were asking for more.

That was the part that ticked me off.

Note:  I just checked the website.  They are now back to the "full breakfast" added in the total for your room.  Guess I wasn't the only one with an attitude problem.

What nickle and dime things drive you nuts?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Road Side Attractions

In 1991 my three-days-new husband and I took a rented Chevy Corsica down Highway 101 with $1,000 to our name.  It took months to save that grand but that was our Disneyland-or-Bust budget.  So when we stopped at this wildlife park off 101 and the admission said $5 each, we scoffed and walked away.

Then we paid $50 each to get into Disneyland.

Crimany now that $5 each didn't sound so bad.  On the drive back home, we decided to, again, take Highway 101 and stop at the Wildlife Park.

Forking over our $10 we had no idea what to expect.

It certainly wasn't getting to hold baby snow leopards.  And baby Bengal tigers.  And baby Russian Lynx's.

Me in 1991 holding the Baby Lynx.
Also circa 1991, with the baby tiger.

We went back in 1992 and then there was a 21 year gap between visits.  On our Highway 101 Road trip the Wildlife Park was our destination from the beginning.  We wanted to share our experience with our 14 year old.  

She didn't believe any of it even with proof of pictures.

The parked still looked the same, but had some updates.  This time we went armed with three cameras, knowing what to expect.  It didn't disappoint.

Bobcat playing with a straw.
photos courtesy JC Imagery

photos courtesy JC Imagery

photos courtesy JC Imagery

This guy loved Kira and climbed all over courtesy JC Imagery

Seriously, rubbing a baby bear's courtesy JC Imagery

Who knew that you could scratch a bear's tummy and it's hind leg would
air-scratch just like a dogs?
photos courtesy JC Imagery

photos courtesy JC Imagery

Bottom line:  sometimes handing over a few dollars for a dorky roadside attraction can be the best part of your trip.  Sure, we loved Disneyland, but that was expected.  It wasn't Disneyland that was our destination 21 years later.  

Go figure.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

10 Tips To Photographing the Pacific Coast

One of the reasons to take a road trip is to take pictures to remind yourself about your trip.  You might be tempted to blow through to make sure you get to where you're going, but don't.  Stop.  There are a ton of sites to see.

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

Photo Courtesy JC Imagery

10 Tips for taking photos during a road trip
  1. Schedule a lot of time to get to your destination.  Coastal highways are usually two lane, windy, and go through LOTS of little towns.
  2. Don't take EVERY SINGLE PHOTO with your cell phone.  A good number of people have DSLRs tucked away and rely on their cell phone.  This is the time to dig out the "big camera" if you have one.
  3. On the flip side of this, photos of the beach make cool wallpapers on your cell phone.
  4. Know what side of the road the ocean is on.  In the case of the Oregon/Washington Highway 101, your best chances at ocean view photos are going south on the Highway.  Sure, if you are going north on 101, you can pull over to photograph the left hand side ocean view, but going south is so much easier to make snap pull-off decisions without crossing the opposing lane of traffic.
  5. Pull off safely.  There are a ton of pull out areas.  Don't be like me; see something (maybe) worth photographing and pull into this tiny spot, scaring the crap out of your family because that hill came up at 40 miles per hour.
  6. Have the camera ready.  Duhr, but for the first day of our trip, we kept the camera in the back hatch of the car.  Yes, it took us a whole day (andahalfofthenextone) to figure this one out.
  7. Write down where you are when you are taking pictures.  See those images above.  Couldn't tell you where we were when we took them.  And I'm a professional.
  8. Don't stop shooting when the fog rolls in (and it will).  Sometimes it can wash the photo out; other times it adds a layer of mystery.
  9. Shoot both horizontal and vertical.  Most people don't flip their camera sideways.  Do it.  If you shoot all horizontal, it gets a tad boring.  
  10. Get pictures with YOUR WHOLE FAMILY in it.  Set the timer (yes, you might have to read the manual), hand the camera to another tourist, anything, just make sure all the people in your car are in the photo at least three times during the trip.  Remind them that you might accept it as the Christmas photo as bribery motivation.  Your lying of course every.single.time.  Oh well.
More of our images are viewable on our website:  JC

Monday, January 13, 2014

An Unexpected Stop - Tillamook Air Museum

Yes, I really made her get in this half bug and take her picture!

I usually have an itinerary when we travel.  Sometimes it's pretty loose; sometimes it's pretty airtight (and there's never any middle ground, there).  When it's airtight, any changes are going to throw me for a loop and knock me off my center for at least three hours.  And they are three brutal hours (askmyhusband).

On this Pacific Coast trip we had determined that pretty much everything was going to take longer to get to/do than we thought (see the post here:  The Slowest Drive Ever).

Despite this, after having stuffed ourselves on penny sized cubes of cheese and ice cream/root beer floats and made the obligatory purchase of a Tillamook mug, we were on our way, once again headed south on 101.

photo courtesy of JC Imagery 

We saw this and made a pitstop.  The Tillamook Air Museum 

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Slowest Drive Ever

My brother can make it from his house in Bellevue, Washington to his mother-in-laws in Reno, Nevada in 12 hours, driving 753 miles.

I did not inherit this gene.

We drove from Seaside, Oregon to Tillamook, Oregon, 48 miles, in a little over 4 hours.

In my defense (and, yes, I need one), he is going 70 mph on I-5.  I'm going an average 35 miles on a windy, two lane coastal highway.  And making lots of photo/tourist spot stops.

(And he's the one with little kids - go figure.)

But we didn't take this trip just to get to a destination.  The destination was there, and we had hotel reservations, but, really, we were living large.  Feeling the wind in our hair (just kidding, we had air conditioning) and playing the tourists, because, really, we were tourists.

How could you whiz past sights like these...

photo courtesy of JC Imagery

photo courtesy of JC Imagery

photo courtesy of JC Imagery

And I'm supposed to just keep going 55 miles per hour past this???
photo courtesy of JC Imagery

photo courtesy of JC Imagery

Smoke Stack in Giribaldi, Oregon
photo courtesy of JC Imagery

Seriously, how could I have driven past THIS?
photo courtesy of JC Imagery

photo courtesy of JC Imagery
It's worth it, I promise.  There's ice cream....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Photos Courtesy of the Kid

As a professional photographer I spend a lot of time trying to get the "perfect" picture.  We sell a lot of stock photos so every image tends to be really thought out (read over-thought out).

Then you give your kid the camera.  

This is something we've done for years, despite the fact that the camera and lens costs more than her first car will.  Always having our noses buried behind the camera means that every once in a while we needed to give up control (aggghhh!) and trust.

It's never not worked out.

After leaving Seaside, Oregon we headed south to a location everyone talks about, but couldn't remember visiting.

Cannon Beach.

We drove through, parked the car (entirelyillegallyblockingadrivewayshhh) and cut through a path (hoping not to get yelled at).

This is what we saw.

Photo courtesy © JC Imagery

And this.

Photo courtesy © JC Imagery

We frolicked in the sand and looked around at the beach, tipping over logs and debris.  We watched a lifeguard truck go screaming past (really, no one was swimming??) Then, "Kira, let's take your picture."

*Deep sigh*
Photo courtesy © JC Imagery

"Let's have some fun with this."

She's thrilled, can ya tell?
Photo courtesy © JC Imagery

"Now, I want the camera, mom."

Photo courtesy © JC Imagery

"Move to your right a bit."  I think, she's really getting it this, good.  Look, I'm happier than in the first photo.

Photo courtesy © JC Imagery

Good times, thanks.

Bottom line, trust.  This didn't cost us anything and we kept the teenager involved.

The fact that we headed to Pig in A Pancake in Cannon Beach shortly after didn't hurt.  :-)

Follow us on Facebook for daily (not really, but I pretend it's daily) postings about life on this journey.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Astoria to Seaside - Finally!

You'd think a 30 minute drive would take 30 minutes.  Just like you'd think if you left home at 11:00 am  for a five hour and one minute drive, you'd arrive sometime around 5:00 or 6:00 pm.

Yeah, try TEN HOURS!

Okay, to back up here, we left Fort Columbia at 7:00 pm for a 32 minute drive from Fort Columbia to Seaside, Oregon.  We crossed over the Columbia River via the Astoria-Megler Bridge and, running out of daylight to make any stops to take photos, were on our way.

  © JC Imagery

One thing to note that I've never seen on other bridges (not that we've done all that many road trips, but I have been on a few as a youth) is the amount of dead birds.  There wasn't just one.  There were eleven.  Easily.  It was weird.

And eerie.

  © JC Imagery

So as the sun was setting, we waved adieu to Washington State and said hello to Oregon.

  © JC Imagery

The Oregon side, looking back.  © JC Imagery
We finally arrived at the Seaside Inn - at 9:37 pm!  Yes, I know the time because I knew I had to make a phone call to get someone at the desk anytime after 10:00 pm.  Yes, we left the Fort at 7:00 pm and arrived 2.5 hours later.  Thirty minute drive, my foot.  Who writes those things?  

So all told, it took us 10.5 hours for a 5 hour drive.  

Spoiler alert:  This would be the story of the whole trip.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Checking out Fort Columbia

Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery

Tucked into the Pacific Coast is one of the forts the protected the West Coast of the United States of America.  Fort Columbia lays between the tiny town of Chinook and the Oregon Border.  Nestled on 593 acres that borders 6,400 feet of the Columbia River and has sweeping views of the Columbia, it was built between 1896 and 1904.  For three wars, it was completely manned and operational until it became surplus after World War II.  In 1950 it was dedicated a state park after the property transferred to the custody of Washington State.

Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery

Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery

You can climb down into the batteries.
Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery

Although be aware of the pitch black.  This photo only came out bright
because of the camera flash - hence my wide eyes.  Bring a flashlight!
Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery

It is open during the summer from 6:30 am to 9:30 pm and in the winter from 8:00-5:00.  You do need a discover pass to park on grounds.  When we went, we were the only ones on the property and you have free reign of the place including the four remaining defense batteries.  While we drove around the park, we did not go into any of the buildings (save the restroom), but you can actually rent out the Sterwards House and Scarborough House.

Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery

Yeah, I'm sure they meant for this to happen.    Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery

The things we make our kid do.  Photo courtesy of  JC Imagery