Hike – Franklin Falls

It has been a little while since the last hike and even though I am tracking when we can travel again internationally without a lockdown, it appears that it is not happening any time soon!

So, let’s go on a hike!  Despite living in the Seattle area for ~ 30 years, I had never heard of this place previously.

It is just as easy and accessible as Gold Creek Pond, and it is a delight to take a quick drive and check it out.

It is called Franklin Falls and it is just 2.5 miles off the I-90 expressway at exit 47.  In the winter months, it does snow quite a bit, but that makes it more fun.  It can get a little tricky to drive if you do not have AWD car.

We arrived early, which is a best practice, because despite the winter months and snow, the trail will will get full of people and packed quite quickly.  We could have parked in the empty 60 car parking lot, but I also predicted that once it got full of visitor cars and icy, it would be very difficult to get out of the lot safely since the snow/slush was quite deep there.

Although trail was quite scenic and very fun to find all the places the water was running and exploring additional trails that veered to different places. What was disappointing on this trip, is that only 75% of the people wore masks.  And when you encounter people not wearing masks, and you step away to the side of the trail to avoid them, they look at you are the weird ones and they treat you as being silly for being cautious due to COVID-19 recently spreading wildly.

But…it is all worth it when you get to the falls!

If you go early enough, it can pretty much have the falls to yourself!  It is quite fun an amazing to be inches away from the falls.

and yes, you will get very wet and cold very fast, but it is a great quick hike when you need a quick getaway from the lockdown with a fast and safe hike.

If you want to check out some other great hiking locations in the snow, check out my postings on Cougar Mountain, Kendall Lakes and Gold Creek Pond.

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Toucan – Will it Change Business Conferences?

It is clear, we are not going to travel soon for business and even Bill Gates commented on CNBC that > 50% of business travel will disappear long term.

I have been watching tracking closely on my blog with a regularly updated posting and even some Vodcasts, but it is hard to predict what the future will be for business travel.

I do like and watch the weekly business travel briefing: https://www.businesstraveller.com/ which is very informative.  But I cannot see much changing for conferences any time soon.  Even with rapid testing prior to boarding, I think most conferences will be virtual in 2021.

The real concern/downfall/disappointment is the networking and hallway conversations that you have at conferences.  Really hard to replicate or simulate when virtual.  Slack channels and discord don’t really work well…

and then I was introduced to Toucan.  It was so different and so much comfortable having casual conversations that are not limited to one channel like Zoom.

and it is launching publicly for free with no limits on November 24th.  I think this is something that will be the tool for hallway, speaker and meetup conversations when conferences are live and occurring in the background.

Recommend checking it out.

 

 

 

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Vodcast – Lockdown free vacations?

Show notes:

WA State locking down again: https://www.king5.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/governor-jay-inslee-washington-state-new-restrictions-covid-19-coronavirus-spread/281-6aa36caa-8201-43ff-94de-127737049b8a

Will we have a Seahawks home game this year?  https://www.seahawks.com/

When to travel?  https://davidcrosstravels.com/2020/04/19/travel-covid-19/

WSJ – lockdown free locations on the beach: https://www.wsj.com/articles/travelers-seeking-lockdown-free-vacations-head-to-the-beach-11604491202

BI – what is the Delta lounge like during pandemic?  https://www.businessinsider.com/delta-sky-club-jfk-lounge-visit-tour-photos-details-2020-10

 

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1st Travel Vodcast!

Hello everyone – I decided it was time to try creating a weekly travel vodcast (video podcast) since we are all mostly locked down from international travel.

I thought this would be an easier way to inform and connect with the community on the updates on the ability to travel again.

I know this this is the first one and it was not well prepared, try to not be too brutal — I will promise to improve in coming weeks! 🙂

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Eli Cohen and Israel

I am not sure how many people have seen the Netflix series about Eli Cohen titled “The Spy“, but it is highly recommended.   Eli is portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen who was phenomenal IMHO …and no, do not worry, he is not like his Borat character in this series! 🤣

OK – what is the purpose of this book since this is a travel blog?  I wanted to share that you can actually visit and see of the history of Eli and his impact on Israel and Syria when visiting Israel.  First, plan some time to go up and visit the Golan Heights which I shared previously in this travel posting.

The Times of Israel had a nice posting on the footsteps of a spy that I wanted to try and explore a little myself when taking a day off in Israel with a friend.  It is about taking a drive and going up to the current and former border and viewing some of the Syrian outposts that explained in the movie.

It is recommended to try and visit most…because as you can see, most still have land mines or risk of land mines being in the area.  Caution, beware!  This is similar to the border between North and South Korea which I shared in this posting when I visited there a few years ago.

Once up in the Northeastern corner of the country, the important first stop is the former Syrian checkpoint that you can visit that was at the former border.

Inside, you can find some of the original history and pictures of Eli Cohen and his story.

I really do recommend watching the series and it will help you to understand his role and the commitment he made in his spy mission for the young state of Israel.  This is one of the pictures in the small memorial in the former roadside checkpoint.

The one highlight for me was the abandoned headquarters.  The former Syrian headquarters has a lot of history and Eli Cohen visited it first hand.  It is bombed out, but you can sense the history and see across the border when standing on top of it.

If you would like to learn more about the area or the Syrian border, check out my other posting of exploring the Golan Heights.

 

 

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AMG Driving Academy

I thought it was time to write a different post on a great travel experience I had a few years ago…when I was able to attend my second AMG Driving Academy session.

This one was hosted at the LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY in California.  It is not close to a major airport, but you can fly into San Francisco or San Jose and drive down to the site.  I do recommend that you do not stay in a hotel too far away as you will be EXHAUSTED at the end of the training and you will not want to drive far after you have finished.  The highlight and fun starts right when you arrive early in the morning.  The cars are lined up and being fully prepped for a hard core track day!

You will be supplied with all the gear you need including helmet, etc.  You will get a fire resistant and comfortable helmet hood that you get to keep.  I do recommend cool clothing as the weather and cars can get quite warm at high speeds…and of course driving sunglasses is highly recommended.

After about an hour of briefing, course walkthrough, race car instructors, breakfast and meeting with the AMG executives, you on the course and driving hard!

Everything from slalom agility, to slippery skid course, drag race competition, drifting around a roundabout at high speed and of course high speed track runs!

And you will get to drive every car in the lineup in various scenarios and training throughout the day. CLA45, C63, CLK55, E63, CLS63 and the famous SLS.

The SLS was a major highlight and truly a track race car.  It is amazing on what this car is capable of performing and you truly feel like a Nascar race car driver just like your instructors!

You cannot take pictures or take your phone in a car, but you do get to record a video on one of the track runs which provides a great demonstration on how well the AMG cars perform on the track, the G-forces that are generated on the curves and how much fun it is to actually own one of these cars after seeing their capabilities first person on a professional race track!

There are no more scheduled sessions in 2020, but we are hopeful for 2021.  You can always check back on my regularly posting on when you can travel again due to COVID-19.

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Seattle Symphony Reimagined

The summer has ended and the fall has started.  In the fall, this is usually the kickoff of many events – sports, theater and orchestras.  But unfortunately, across most of the world, we are restricted from travelling and even thinking of attending a large indoor event.  If interested, this page is where I keep posting updates on international travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

So…what are the options, what will we see in the 2020-2021 season of arts and entertainment?  Well, like the Seattle Symphony demonstrated last night, you need to Reimagine!

Last night was the opening ceremony which used to be a historical “Gala”, but because Benaroya Hall could not be occupied safely, they organized a “drive in” event in Marymoor Park for donors and sponsors.

Despite all the challenges this year, we adapt, we overcome and only face forward!

It was really well done and I must admit the camera work on the streaming and the quality of the audio was exceptional.  It was a delight to “escape”, support the symphony and experience a wonderful night of music.  We could not socialize, but we could still connect and it was memorable.

You can actually still stream and watch it for free!  Highly recommended to check out while it is still available.  And consider supporting the community and artists to get us through the year and the COVID-19 challenges.

The Seattle Times had a good review with this quote really summing it up:  “These are the times when we are grateful for the gift of beautiful sounds, even at a distance, and for the reminder that great music will outlast any pandemic.”

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Semiahmoo

It is almost the end of the summer in the great northwest and we wanted to try a new place as one final road trip since we are restricted from travelling internationally.

If interested, this page is where I keep posting updates on international travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Here are some of the most recent explorations of the Northwest this summer:

Now, on to the latest trip!

Since we could not go to Canada, we went to Semiahmoo! IMHO, this is very similar to visiting Suncadia.  The atmosphere, the environment, the activities are almost the same…the only difference is the water versus mountains.

You cannot cross the border, but you can actually Canada across the water…in some places it is so close, you could literally swim to Canada.

If you look close, you can see the actual border crossing Peace Arch.

The attached port is actually quite old and historic.  A lot of dated structures and older maritime are available to inspect.  Make sure you bring a light jacket as the wind does pick up frequently since you are surrounded by water on both sides.

Unfortunately, it is not well kept, there is not any self guided tours or maps.  It seems that a lot of the previous local tours and water guides have all disappeared/shut down due to the pandemic.

On the positive side, the peninsula is a great (and scenic) place to go walking, running, biking and hiking. I did a little of all three myself.  The resort has some older/used bikes for guests which is convenient even though they are not high quality or well maintained.

One of the hidden gems is the running/walking/hiking trails that are on the south side of the bay and at the end of the maintained paths that are open to the public.  You have to avoid the private property trails, but they are well marked with signs, so no worries there.

The best part is the evening sunsets where you can watch the sun go down and also roast some complimentary smores every evening. The first night, we could not tell if we missed a missile being launched from Canada or if a UFO crashed into the ocean.

But in all reality, how could you compare these sunset views compared to many other places in the world?  Is Hawaii even better than this sunset in the great Northwest?

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Gold Creek Pond – Snoqualmie

Continuing the theme of summer 2020 travel restrictions where international travel is not possible, this is another new area that some may choose to visit in the great Northwest part of the country (United States).

If interested, this page is where I keep posting updates on international travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Here are some of the most recent explorations of the Northwest this summer:

Now, on to the latest trip!

This weekend was a little camping an exploration in the Gold Creek Pond area.  This is a great hiking area which I visited a few weeks ago when spelunking up to Kendall Lakes.

Due to the lockdown and everyone with cabin fever, I will warn you that the area can get pretty crowded.  Weddings, parties most people not social distancing and also not wearing masks.

This is why we were a little more adventurous and explored the sites and history by using the dry creek bed (which is mostly dry and not with running water in August).

You can get some great views of the mountains, but it all depends on the clouds and fog.

When the sun comes out, it is gorgeous and it does get a little warm.  You can also watch some of the hang gliders that often jump from the top of one of the mountains and float around for what seems like hours in the light winds.

I did mention that the creek is dry and not with running water, but there are some great spots where the water is running under ground and you can find fresh clear pools that little friends seem to like hanging around.  Beware: the water is not warm, it is ice cold.  But for some…it is very refreshing on a hot summer day.

Here was one of the unusual and intriguing spots along the dry creek bed where there was a slight water flow.  Look at how many years have past since the ice age glaciers creating all those rock layers.  How many years of history can be found in all these layers of sediment?  Thousands?

OK – in closing, here is one of the not very well know treats that can be found in the Gold Creek area and best found by walking up the creek to Heli’s Pond.  It is small, hidden, very quiet and quite mysterious.  The water is so blue and so clear, you can see down 20 feet and see every detail.  and if you are brave, you can take a polar bear dip into the water that will be memorable!

 

 

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Cannon Beach Oregon

Since the travel restrictions continue and international travel is not possible, we decided to continue to explore the Northwest part of the country (United States).  If interested, this page is where I keep posting updates on international travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

What was the next spot?  Cannon Beach, Oregon!  It is sunny, but not scorching hot and overall a pleasant mid 60s in the middle of August.

 

We chose to travel on Sunday and visit during the week when it might not be as crowded.  Despite our planning choice, it was not light on travelers or tourists…and the usage of masks was still 60-40 unfortunately.  But many people respected and tried to remain distant.

If you look on AirBnB, you can find some reasonably priced rentals that are only a block or two away from the beach.  It is worth walking for 5-10 minutes versus paying $500 a night for a small room right on the beach.

We found a great place right next to the Pelican Brewery (which is great for takeout dinner) for only $200 a night with two bedrooms and full kitchen!

It is a large and fun beach.  Plenty of room to stay distanced and a great place for dogs to play if you ring your pets.  But…even though it is August, the water is REALLY COLD!

It is pretty popular to go up close to the Haystack Rock to check out all the nesting Seagulls as well as all the sea anemone that thrive in the little sea pools that flows through all the smaller rocks.

If you do not have a rental or hotel near the beach, you have to explore the roads to find an entrance to the beach.  They are public entrances all over the place, but they are not visibly marked and it is almost impossible to park near one.

Some are right between homes and I am sure the locals like how hidden the paths are between their houses.  Now, for the next thing…there are a lot of local animals in this rich coastal growth…

One of the unusual things of Cannon Beach, especially in the morning, is all the rabbits around town.  They all appear to be domestic rabbits that have been let loose and have gone feral, and there are a lot of them.  All colors and many are very overweight and do not run away easily when you approach them.

Overall, the town is a safe place with lots of tourist shops and some nice local restaurants.  But, despite the restrictions and limited spacing, it is still very crowded on the streets and in some of the stores.  If you are at risk or uncomfortable with people who refuse to social distance or wear a mask, this may not be the best place for you.

One recommendation for a visit on the way (or back home from) Cannon Beach is Fort Stevens.

It is actually a huge park.  We actually did not plan enough time to check out all the sites, history, ship wreck and batteries.  You may want to actually plan an afternoon.  We will actually to visit again given the great taste we received in just 1 hour.

Check out of the batteries that were actually used in WWII.  Battery Russell (above) was actually attacked by the Japanese in WWII as the only stateside location that traded fire during the war.

Now, a classic activity that I always enjoy when I visit a new location!

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Of course, I went running early in the morning.  There is no traffic, no crowded sidewalks, no traffic lights.  Nice cool weather, light hills and some great scenery.  If interested in world running routes, check out some of my other pages.  Running around the world is always fun.  Some of my other favorite spots:

 

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