Pulling off the 101 to the Devil’s Punch Bowl

Nestled into the central Oregon Coast in the tiny town of Otter Rock is the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Signage off the 101 is spotty so slowing down to really watch for the turn off is necessary. While there are so many great vantage points to check out along the coastal highway, the Devil’s Punch Bowl has always been a particular favorite of mine.

Looking out over the water here just feels magical. The landscape is rugged and wild, and there are always at least a few brave souls down in the inlet surfing. There’s something hypnotizing about watching waves crash against the cliffs. Picnic tables are available for those who want to relax and enjoy the edge of the world feeling of the cliffs. Mo’s, their world famous chowder is my favorite, is a great place to grab a bite while exploring. A note to those who have visited other Mo’s branches in Oregon, this is one that does not have a fryer. During the summer months there is also an ice cream and coffee truck. My favorite stop though is the Flying Dutchman Winery. No trip to the Oregon Coast, for me, is complete without stopping here for a tasting flight and perusing their snarky napkins and signage offerings. Rain or shine, there is just something about the lookout that always pulls me back.

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Devil's Punch Bowl

Do you have a landscape that moves you? One that you find yourself visiting over and over again?

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A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

When we were home last year, we had the chance to take a ferry ride to the Washington peninsula- a favorite for me- and drove toward Port Townsend. Living in Central Germany, the first thing I always want to do when we’re back on the West Coast is to see water. I get antsy waiting in the ferry line, and then a sense of calm always washes over me as we board. I love the gentle rocking of the waves, and the quick movement once we get underway. Being in the middle of the Puget Sound, with just the outline of land behind you, and Kingston growing closer in the distance.

It’s ok when we’re back on solid ground. I’ve gotten my fix for being on the water, besides I can still smell that clean, fresh scent that only comes when you’re on the coast. We typically make the same loop, driving from the ferry stop in Kingston through Port Gamble before heading up to Port Townsend. Depending on the day, and our travel companions, there are three great cideries available to stop and to do tastings: Finnriver, Alpenfire, and Eaglemount. Otherwise we just drive up to Port Townsend for lunch and to wander. It’s such a cute little town with fun shops and a surprising selection of restaurants. I’ve been seeing pictures for years of the Washington coast, and really want to make it further out on the peninsula. For now this is a great little day trip doable from Seattle up to Everett.

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

A Ferry Trip to Port Townsend, Washington

So I’ve been busy working on my novel lately, and making some updates to the site. I’m working to refine my focus and update some of my archives. I’ve also been working to add some pages to make the site a little easier to navigate. What do you think of the changes? Is there anything you would like to see updated?

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Exploring Local Beer Fests

In Germany, every village has a local Kärwa, short for Kirchweih or the celebration of the sanctification of the church. The dates vary depending on when the local church was sanctified so to say, and I suspect when the neighboring village has their festival (you wouldn’t want both on the same weekend). But nevertheless the whole Dorf (village/neighborhood) turns out en masse, in trachten to boot.

Boxdorf Kärwa

Most Kärwas boast a few food stands, and some kids attractions, but the main activity of these festivals seems to be the beer tent. Each day the fest opens about 10 am and goes straight through the day until 6 am the following morning (at least ours does).

Boxdorf Kärwa 2

Other versions of the local beer fest are the huge festivals hosted by entire cities. Two such options local to us are the Bergkirchweih in Erlangen, and Annafest in Forchheim.

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The Berg (meaning hill) is the third largest fair in Bavaria (after (of course) Oktoberfest in Munich and Gäubodencolksfest in Straubing) held in one of the largest open air beer gardens in Europe. About one million people visit the festival annually (nearly ten times the population of Erlangen). The Berg lasts 12 days and the fair grounds are nearly a kilometer long.

Bergkirchweih

Annafest is a Franconian festival in the Kellerwald (cellar woods) of nearby Forchheim. Annafest was started in 1840 and now features over 20 beer cellars. Though not as big as neighboring Erlangen, Annafest still draws nearly half a million visitors each year.

Annafest

It seems like every weekend has a new festival all summer long, especially compared to the largely ignored remaining 9 months of the year. Next on our list this year is Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest 2014

What is your favorite summer festival?

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Exploring Schloß Mespelbrunn

With our current influx of summer visitors, we have been exploring many places both old and new. Schloß Mespelbrunn was a new castle to add to our ever expanding repertoire of European castles.

The castle is about 40 minutes south of the main Frankfurt airport, making it a good stop for those traveling through the Frankfurt area. You enter through a cute country village following the signs down side roads to the schloß. At the end of one such road is a large parking area at the  trailhead to take you on an easy stroll to the castle.

Though not a large castle, Mespelbrunn is a fun stop because it offers the rarity of a moat filled with water, as well as having stood through all the wars, weather and time without ever being destroyed.

No pictures were allowed in most of the inside areas, but it is just as quaint as the outside suggests, and I would definitely recommend the trip.

 

What is your favorite thing to explore?

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Exploring Regensberg: Walhalla

A few weekends ago the hubby and I decided to day trip somewhere new. We checked our handy-dandy Pinterest board and Google maps to see what looked doable for a single day out. Regensberg topped the list. It was not for any photos inside the city-though it is a cute town to explore-but for the monument in a little dorf (village) outside Regensberg called Walhalla (pronounced Valhalla).

There are two ways to access Walhalla- you can choose to climb several flights of stairs from the base of the hill, or you can do as we did, and park in the car park for a much shorter hike. The building itself is gorgeous and lends itself well to photos. It is set high on a hill overlooking a river (and all those stairs).

If you are interested in statuary (or looking to cool off if it’s warm out) then you should venture inside as well. There are an array of busts featuring famous Germans on display as well as some examples of more commonly portrayed themes throughout Germany and Europe- angels.

All in all it was a cool experience and definitely worth the day trip.

What is your favorite day trip?

 

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Before the Madness Begins

The end of summer is rapidly approaching, and as I am NOT  a warm weather person, I say bring it on! While it’s winding down, the hubby and I will be entertaining friends and family from home for the next 6 weeks- “whew!” It will be a lot of fun, but hectic for sure.

Since last week’s post I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and what I want to do with it. I definitely don’t have all the answers yet, but I can guarantee there will be some changes coming this fall.

Are there any changes you would like to see?

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Editing in Progress

Hey-

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but I am *hopefully* back.  As of late I have been making major headway on turning my first novel from a string of random scenes into a real, mostly coherent manuscript.

This, however, is me most days:

Writer's Life

 

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Looking for other updates on daily life abroad? You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. Just follow the icons in the menu on the right under Follow Me. What have you been up to lately?

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A Reading Challenge Update

It’s been awhile since I actually talked about how I’m doing in my reading challenge this year. As I talked about here, I only made it to 38 books last year. This year, I’ve been a little more diligent about starting (and sticking with) my reading earlier. With just over one month left to go in the year, I am at 70 books read. That gives me a little less than one book a day for the rest of the year (how is this year even that close to being over already?!),  which is totally doable for my reading pace. I thought I would share a collage of some of my favorite books from the last year. :)

If you have a Goodreads account, you can find my challenge page here. All photos were taken from the Goodreads profiles.

What have you been reading lately?

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What’s on My Bookcase? Three Sister’s Island

I was feeling the need to read something quick, light, and in paperback, so I grabbed one of my Nora Roberts standbys: the Three Sisters Island trilogy.

Three Sisters Island

Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts

This is probably one of my favorite Nora Robert’s series, as this is probably the fourth time I’ve read it. I love the sleepy little island setting, and the characters develop well. The book is fun and fast paced. The only downside for some is this may be a trigger story for some as it has a subplot that deals with escaping domestic violence.

Nell is a gentle soul with a hidden strength. Having lost her parents fairly early, she ends up married to a man she thinks is her prince charming come to rescue and take care of her. Unfortunately she couldn’t be more wrong. Once she escapes, she zigzags across the country trying to escape her past. Tired of running, she decides to settle for a little while on a sleepy spit of land off the coast of Massachusetts. Now the sisters can be reunited, but the spell cast protecting the island is about to break. As Nell’s past catches up with her, can she pass the first test, keeping the island she now calls home from tumbling into the sea.

Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts

This book gives you a little more background on the characters, as well as on the curse and protective spell cast on the island. Ripley is a girl who can take care of herself. She and her brother keep the peace on the island, as their family has for generations. Ripley is content with her life except for one thing- she has powers and she can’t control them. MacAllister Booke shows up on Three Sisters to research reports of witchcraft on the island. Fighting the attraction between them it becomes clear they’ll have to deal with the past and each other before they can worry about the future.

This book is a lot of fun. Ripley is sassy, and her verbal sparring with both Mac and Mia keeps you entertained until the very end.

Face the Fire by Nora Roberts

This is the last of the Three Sisters Island series. We find the witches on the Island, having turned back the darkness twice already, but the biggest threat is yet to come. Mia Devlin met the love of her life early. She and Sam Logan grew up together sharing love and magic until one day he just walked away without another look back. Now Sam has returned home to take over the Magic Inn from his father, and to win back Mia’s heart. But Mia is still as hurt and confused as she was at 16, and greets him with an icy indifference. Will he be able to win back her heart in time?

Watching Mia go head to head with Ripley and Sam for one last story will keep you laughing to the end. I love the character and the story growth throughout, and highly recommend this series for those who enjoy urban fantasy and/or romance.

Do you have a favorite series to reread?

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Wanderlust Fulfilled: Paris-Tour Eiffel

The hubby and I spent our 10 year anniversary in Paris. The tower is an icon, so I thought I would start the Paris series here.

It has been featured in art work. There are a million photos. There is little else that can or needs to be said. Nevertheless it still feels like something you need to see on your fist trip to the City of Lights. So we decided to embrace the cliché- they did get to be so for a reason after all. Deciding to conquer my fear of heights, we elected to take the elevator all the way to the top. This seemed like a fantastic idea until I realized that you don’t take the same large elevator, crammed with 50 people all the way to the top.

On the contrary, you take what we’ll deem the “safe elevator” only up to the second level. No- to get all the way to the top you must take the tiny, scary elevator. This is what John Pinette would call a nay-nay elevator.

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This elevator is SMALL- no where to hide my face on the ride up. Not to mention the fact that it shakes- a lot.

The view is definitely worth it though. Being on the (significantly) tallest building for miles around makes you feel like you are on top of the world. So without further adieu:

 

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