This was one of the best days ever! I got to go snorkeling with sharks (again). Usually I’ll see one maybe two, but this time there were an abundance of them as you can see in the video above and it was just amazing.

No tour, just out in the open ocean with a (very kind) friend brave enough to be just as crazy as I am! Just kidding, these sharks are harmless and pretty shy. They were between 5 to 6 feet and I had to chase them around… not the other way. They are leopard sharks and there was one other kind which I’m not sure what was, but I think it’s the one locals call “Cute Shark”. As with any wild animal, be respectful and they’ll be respectful to you. If you start grabbing them they will defend themselves.
Please excuse the poor photo quality of this post. They were shot mainly with underwater cameras.

I love snorkeling and do it as often as I can. It’s so peaceful and every time I go I experience something completely different. My favorite spot to go snorkeling is La Jolla Cove, but if you’re looking for sharks, then this is not the best place. I’ve only ever spotted one here. (You will see a whole lot of sea lions though.) Instead head to La Jolla Shores, park in the large lot and walk south. You’ll see an area where a bunch of kayak schools venture out, pass them, and start going out in the water. The best time to go is during mating season which is early June through October, but you can spot them year round. I’ve seen the most during August and September. The video above was shot in September.

The sharks are there because the water is really warm during those months, but warmer water also means stingrays. There are a lot and they can be pretty big! They are much more intimidating and scary than the sharks to me.

A few things…
Shuffle your feet as you go in the water. The stingrays are everywhere. Those stings really hurt!
-Go prepared. Learn from locals, stop and ask the local dive shops or lifeguard towers for tips and advice.
-Bring a diving knife. The sea grass can be really long and if the waves are strong you or your friends can get tangled in it.
-Try to swim near lifeguards.
-Always swim with friends, never alone.

Never miss a sunset…

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Nojoqui Falls

Nojoqui falls is a fairy tale world of mist, tiny rainbows and little miniature cave villages surrounded by moss and maidenhair ferns… if you dare to step all the way up, as close as you can get, you’ll see. And maybe you’ll hear the faint whispers of the Chumash Indians who long ago called the area home and treasured the falls.
Drop your head back and look up. It’s not very impressive when it comes to rushing water, as you can see. Instead it slowly drips between the two steady streams, softly splashing mist onto ones face.

Little droplets fall from leaf to leaf and some roll into miniature caves creating little ponds.

…or drip so softly that even bees can rest and drink.

Imagine the sound … I could try to describe it but I’d never get it right.

The suns beams, cutting ever so gently through the trees, light up the path to the waterfall. You might get lucky and see/hear a woodpecker or two hard at work, maybe a few lovesick cicadas or the call of a local bird, but mostly it’s quiet. The really nice kind of quiet. The quiet that makes you stop, close your eyes and listen… to absolute beautiful silence.
You’ll encounter a few small bridges and start seeing evidence of the waterfall as you cross the first one.

Suddenly you’ll be confronted by all these signs (above) set up there in a big mess all together. Lots of warnings and red. But as you can see the path continues perfectly on the other side. The waterfall is right around the corner. If you choose to continue please do so very carefully. We have witnessed quite a few rocks falling.

Legend has it that a devastating tragedy happened here once. There were many different settlements of Chumash Indians in the area, and once, long ago, two lovers from two different tribes secretly met here at the falls and because they weren’t allowed to be together, they jumped the 100 feet from the top in each others arms. A bittersweet story to keep in mind when visiting. Some say the meaning of Nojoqui is Honeymoon as a tribute to the lovers, others say it simply means Windy Valley.

A few things…
– the dirt parking lot right by the path to the waterfall is a bit rough but you can park in the area right before it and it’s not a far walk at all.
-go off season and avoid weekends. I’ve been told it can get pretty crowded.
-don’t bring food and drinks. Instead, after you’re done here, drive a few miles to Solvang and eat there for the rest of the day… seriously, you’ll want to try everything. I recommend Olsen’s Bakery, The Red Viking for dinner, Solvang Restaurent for Aebleskiver and Ingeborg’s for Floedeboller. (there’ll be a post coming soon on all these things).

Crater Lake is such an incredibly beautiful experience that is hard to beat. Your eyes and soul will be satisfied staring at the royal blue of that lake and you’ll find yourself telling everyone you know just how amazing that color is exactly. But, if you’re in the area you definitely don’t want to miss the Umpqua National forest. Follow scenic route 138 and you can spend a day or two marveling at least six really amazing waterfalls all just a short distance from each other. Neither of these falls get a lot of publicity so you might have them pretty much to yourself which to me is a huge plus after the crowds at Crater Lake. ( More on Crater Lake here: https://vikinggirladventures.com/2019/09/15/crater-lake/ )
We stopped at Clearwater Falls first. I couldn’t help but just sit for a while, letting the little droplets splash me, while I watched the water gushing over the top and playfully encircle and dance around the moss covered rocks.

The mosses, liverworts and hornworts (relatives of moss) at Clearwater falls are pretty exceptional in the fact that they can dry out completely and then come back to life when introduced to moisture again.
If you climb up to the top of the waterfall you’ll get to see this playground below.

The water is crystal clear and I could spend hours balancing over the many large logs zigzagging their way across.

The forest is worth a little hike too. Quiet and secluded.

Whitehorse falls is about 5 miles from Clearwater falls. It’s not impressive in height but it has a nice pool where you can swim and many logs to climb. The water here is also completely clear and so inviting.

You don’t have to climb any fences, there’s a nice deck you can walk up to to get a great view of this waterfall. I shouldn’t have either, but I like to get close and get my hands and feet wet.

This waterfall is right next to the parking lot and does not require any walking so it’s an easy stop for anyone.

A few things…
-first and most important, do not forget, bring deep woods mosquito repellent. Trust me you wont regret it!
-bring a picnic. There are picnic tables and restrooms and either location couldn’t be any prettier.
-As you follow route 138, Clearwater falls is by mile marker 69 and Whitehorse is only a few miles after it.

The Magic Whispers of an Old Tree

Redwoods National and State Park

Have you ever laid your hand on
the bark of a tree and in that moment felt it’s warmth?
Climbed up so high you got dizzy looking down?
Then sat on a steady branch keeping your arms wrapped around the trunk holding on tight?
And then, looking out at the forest, at the whole world from way up there…
You become
One with the trees
Listening to their sounds 
Deep in the woods 
The swaying, the cracking, the leaves in the wind.  You close your eyes and loosen your grip 
Tune in and there 
You hear it
The stories of long ago 
The scents of earth, the beams of light, the soulless finding refuge in the old, the strong, the trustful.  
Here is peace. 
Here is forever.
And here is always. Hiding deep inside you, deep inside the tree, deep inside this Earth. 

Ah… the Redwoods where my soul is happy.
The land of majestic gentle coastal giants that leave you in awe. These trees, some of the tallest in the world, are not only amazing to look at, they’re also masters of cleaning our environment! As a matter of fact, they sequester 3 times as much carbon as any other ecosystem.
Walking through this forest you easily forget you’re in the 21st century and submerge yourself in it’s intense history and the art of the shapes and stances of each tree, all so different and all so magnificent. You can’t help but feel the calmness and serenity there.

This forest was once over 2,000,000 acres. After decades of logging starting in the 1800’s over 90% of this forest was cut down. This stopped in 1968 when it was finally made into a national park. Today the Redwoods national and state park stand at only 133,000 acres. But luckily there’s still a lot to see and you can still go far into the forest. (For how to help see below.)

Big Tree is worth a stop…

As you’re driving through you’ll get to see stunning views of the ocean

A few things…
-bring food and water.
-wear comfortable clothes and shoes. (not flipflops like me!!) You’ll be climbing and walking a lot.
-take your time.
-and please, take out what you bring in. We, sadly, saw a lot of trash thrown carelessly by the side of the road.

If you’d like to help the Redwoods, then this is a great place to start https://www.savetheredwoods.org/

_ _ _
I’m not much for doing crowded touristy stuff especially in an area like this, but we decided to stop and visit Paul Bunyan (can’t miss him) to go for a tram ride and visit their store for souvenirs. Worth it? It was a nice experience, but not something I need to do more than once. I do want to go back to the Redwoods though many more times.

Crater Lake

A mesmerizing clear deep royal blue makes you stop in your tracks as you make it to the rim of this volcano and look into the lake. The stunning blue left me breathless… I had seen plenty of photos but none compared to the real thing. At almost 2000 feet deep Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America. There are no inlets, all the water comes from snow and rain, and there’s plenty of it there. The area receives about 500 inches of snow a year!

Because the lake only gets it’s water from rain and snow, nothing is carried into it like mineral deposits for example, which makes it one of the cleanest lakes in the world. Visitors can swim at a designated area only and if you do get ready to be cold! There was still snow in June. There’s also a short boat tour where they tell you a bit about how the lake was formed. Make reservations for this and be ready for a steep hike to the water.
A quick stop at the lodge afterwards will warm you up.

Crater Lake fills a caldera that was formed by the collapse of a volcano called Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago. The collapse devastated a huge area and spread ashes as far as Central Canada. It took between 700 to 1500 years for rain and snow to melt and create the lake we see today. The small island, called Wizards Island, within the caldera is created by a cinder cone.

Just rest your eyes on it, feel and absorb everything around you.

I’m a bit of a bird lover so I was really hoping to spot a Clark’s Nutcracker. You should never feed wildlife but I had read it was okay to share a few (raw) nuts with these guys.

I don’t let just anybody hold my hand but this guy insisted!

We entered the Crater Lake area from the south. I highly recommend stopping everywhere you can. You’ll get to see the Rogue river and learn more of the incredible history of the area.

These rocky spires below are a result of thousands of years of steam and ash erosion.

Stop and explore everywhere you can. You wont get disappointed.

Make sure you stop at Union Creek Historic District. A must try is the Huckleberry ice cream at the ice cream shop. And Beckie’s has tasty Huckleberry soda and a huge variety of homemade pie. The general store was almost out of bug spray. Make sure you bring your own.

A few suggestions…
– first and very importantly, do not forget this, bring deep woods mosquito repellent. We didn’t get bit by the lake, but everywhere we stopped prior to it, we were swarmed!
– bring food and drinks.
– be ready for cold weather. Snow in June.
– look here for camping https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/119140 it’s biking / walking distance from the small town and right on the creek. Or this one which is right next to the first https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/rogue-siskiyou/recarea/?recid=69828
– lodge and cabins at Union Creek https://www.unioncreekoregon.com/

The best way to end an adventurous day is sitting by the fire with some good tequila and telling stories until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore. Pack those bags, tent/RV and go!

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