Puerto Rico: A Trip without Expectations

When was the last time you took a vacation where you did little to no planning and you had no expectations?!?!

Have you ever taken a trip like that before?

This type of an adventure was a first for me. I usually enjoy planning. You could say I’m a planner; someone who knows the good places to eat, the things to see, the activities to partake in. I usually don’t go into a trip without expectations but Mapless Adventures is about the unknown adventures of life. Read more

Family Travel: Rocky Point, Mexico


I honestly can’t believe I have posted on my blog 100 times in the last few years. I’ve been on so many mapless adventures and have experienced quite a few highs and lows over the last few years but I wouldn’t change any of it, so let’s get started on this next adventure…

I know I’ve said this before, but living away from my family can be hard a lot of the times. One thing is for sure that I have an amazing family who is very willing to travel with me south of the border to our condo in Puerto Penasco, Mexico all because I wanted to go. Living in Seattle for the last three years, means I haven’t been to our condo in 3 years.

I knew that since I was planning a week long vacation to AZ for the end of October, it was a good time to travel to our condo. You can call it a little “international refreshment” to my heart and soul. I absolutely love traveling and don’t get to do the amount of “true” traveling that I’d wish to be able to do, so when this type of adventure presents and works out with my family, I really jump on it.

The actual journey to the condo was filled with many firsts for me as I drove down with my sister and her 5 and 2 year old, and well if you’ve traveled with children before you might not have sympathy for me.

For starters, my flight was delayed 3 hours so instead of hitting the road at 4:30PM we got started at 7:30 PM. My sister tried to keep the boys awake for most of the day as to allow them to sleep on the car and it may have back fired. My 5 year old nephew complained of a headache the ENTIRE drive and NOTHING was helping him. My 2 year old nephew got car sick 40 minutes aware from the condo resulting in projectile vomit, which of course, I had to clean because my sister was driving. THEN, my 5 year old nephew had to pee which it being late, middle of nowhere Mexico and only 3o minutes away meant we were stopping, so I proceeded to hold an empty cup to allow him to pee.

You can imagine that by the time we arrived in Mexico and unloaded, I ABSOLUTELY cracked open a Pacifico and couldn’t help by smile and laugh at the experiences I just had.

I woke up the next morning to an adorable 5 year old talking to his grandma, my mother, and then getting cuddles that lasted maybe 30 seconds. But I’ll take it as a morning wake up. It didn’t take long for the crew (included my mother, my father, my sister, and 2 nephews) to eat delicious chirzo breakfast burritos my dad made and then get ready for a day of pooling and beaching or laying out, sleeping, and relaxing for me.

The one thing I should tell you about my 5 year old nephew is that he can swim in virtually ANY water temperature and though October in Mexico may have been 85-90 degrees, the pool water WAS NOT. The ocean was however bearable and actually quite warm.

We proceeded to spend the majority of the afternoon in the water before heading back up to get ready for a trip in to downtown for some shrimp ceviche and wandering. I love shrimp ceviche and no place has better shrimp ceviche then Rocky Point. We didn’t spend too much time in downtown because “we” wanted to Tide Pool explore and enjoy the sunset on the beach.

Rocky Point has one of the largest tides I have every seen which makes it perfect conditions for sunset tide pool exploring. That’s exactly what we did for a good 2 hours. I think I spent more time taking pictures of my family then actual exploring, but it wouldn’t be me otherwise.

My dad left us Monday morning, and our next two days included nothing but being lazy by the pool relaxing, drinking margaritas, watching the boys swim and play, and venturing over to the other pool area which has a waterslide, by day; and by night: eating dinner and watching movies (which I can NOW say I have watched Jurassic World about 6 times, though truly only once). We didn’t leave our condo area either day and honestly I didn’t mind. These two days of nothing but relaxation were ideal and much needed.

Traveling South of the Border has been a part of my life for 20 years, as evidenced of a family picture located in our condo dated October 1995 and will continue to be apart of my life for hopefully another 20 years. Hard to imagine my first trip was so long ago at the age of 9 and I still love going down there. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have friends of mine join me next year on another adventure south of the border.

Family Travel: Parents Visit Washington

I don’t even know where to begin this post. I haven’t seen my parents in six months, which is the longest we’ve EVER gone without seeing each other and this past weekend they came to visit the PNW. Oh yeah, and me! My mom came shortly after I moved, however her trip wasn’t really a “vacation”. This time was different. My goal for their PNW weekend vacation was to have them see why I LOVE the PNW and for them to love it too.  I thought long and hard about what to show them during their short 4 day weekend (not counting their 3 day adventure in Victoria, BC, Canada to visit a family friend) here in Washington. The results…well keep reading to find out.

Seattle, as some of you know, is not the “cheapest” location to stay so we decided to head east of Lake Washington where we stayed at a beautiful Marriott property in Bellevue, WA. What I found interesting is that the hotels here provide guests with van services that will take you anywhere within three miles of the hotel. Of course we utilized this service on our first night and found ourselves wandering through Downtown Bellevue Park before hitting up Happy Hour at various locations recommended by a friend and locals. Slightly anti-climatic but nothing less than a perfect and relaxing first night with the parents.

Seattle was the next stop in the adventure where we partook in a food tour, rode the Seattle Ferris Wheel, headed up the Space Needle and ended the night with a beverage overlooking Pike Place Market. I heard through the grapevine that a food tour is a MUST when in Seattle and Seattle Bites Food Tour was ranked #1 on multiple sites. Those sites didn’t lie. This tour took us through the history of the market; how it got started, how it was almost destroyed, and how it continues to thrive today. It gave us various tastes of the market; German brats, Indian chicken tikka masala, French crepes, locally grown fruits, and America’s Best Clam Chowder with Seattle’s Best Coffee and a local winery for refreshments. Ending with a unique outlook on the famous Pike Place Market with an additional stop at the Gum Wall, the second most unsanitary location in the world (second to the Blarney Stone). We continued to stroll Pike Place Market following the tour with a Starbucks in hand, where my mom and I decided it was entertaining watching my dad stare, with his mouth open, at everything going on in the market (if you know my dad you’ll understand why this was funny). Oh yeah, did I mention that one of my mom’s co-workers from Phoenix was on this tour with her husband and they had no idea? Small world!

The Seattle Ferris Wheel was next on our agenda. This attraction opened in June and provides the riders us with a beautiful view of downtown Seattle with the Space Needle peaking through the sky-rise buildings. Plus I learned that my dad squirms with heights, something I never knew before. We continued our tour of Seattle with the Space Needle. We took the 41 second ride up 520 feet to the observation deck where we relaxed and enjoy another fabulous view of the city of Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and the Puget Sound. By the time we ventured down the Space Needle, our stomachs began to growl so what better place to enjoy a sunset Happy Hour than at the patio of Hard Rock Cafe!

Saturday wasn’t as full packed as Friday but still adventure driving none the less. Following my parents morning 10 mile run (I slept), we headed out to Cougar Mountain for a short hike through Washington’s Wilderness! Hiking in Washington is a huge part of my life and spending time with my parents in the wilderness hiking was one thing I wasn’t going to pass up! Wine Country in Woodinville, WA was next on our schedule of events. We enjoyed a tour and tasting at Chateau Ste Michelle Winery,  lunch at Redhook Brewery, ending our day with a tasting at Columbia Winery. Well sort of ending…we actually ended our day at Costco for a little shopping therapy!

Off to Port Angeles, WA via Aberdeen and Ruby Beach. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to show my dad my home this trip, so when the opportunity presented to travel the extra few hours, I didn’t hesitate! I loved driving him around Aberdeen, showing him where I work, place I go, and even introducing him and my mom to my friends! Continuing on our WA adventure, we headed north on the 101 with stops at the Quinault Rain Forest, World’s Largest Sitka Spruce, Largest Red Cedar, and Ruby Beach. Port Angeles isn’t known for much other than being a gateway to Canada and the San Juan Islands, however there is one thing special about Port A. It is 17 miles north from Hurricane Ridge, a location that provides a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains on one side and the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Canada on the other. When we woke up Monday morning, we didn’t know if we would make it up to the ridge as we were on a strict time restraint. Luckily, we had plenty of time to enjoy the clear air and views the ridge had to offer before I had to send my parents north to Victoria, BC, Canada. Saying goodbye sucks but It won’t be too long before I head home to AZ to support my dad as he competes in the Ironman Triathlon!

So, do you think I showed my parents enough of Washington for them to fall in love? Click for Pictures.

Westport, WA

Westport, Washington- Home to WA tallest lighthouse

Since my plan for the weekend was to do nothing (this lasted a whole 2 hours), I decided to take a drive to check out what the buzz was about  Westport; a small coastal town is located roughly 20 miles south of Aberdeen. I didn’t really know anything about this town or what to expect, but what I experienced today was more than I could have hoped for. I started the day wandering the boardwalk that was full of small shoppes, fishing charter companies, and lots and lots of TAFFY!  I spent some time on the rocky shoreline watching surfers catch some waves. It wasn’t the best surfing weather, though not raining, and people in WA driven to spend as much time outdoors as possible when the weather is pleasant.

For lunch, I went to Bennett’s Fish Shack, which was packed and smelled delightful. What better way to decide on a place to eat, right?!?! As usually, I went for the fish and chips with a cup of clam chowder washed down with an organic amber beer! Washington has yet to disappointment me with this selection. I might just eat my way down the Washington Coastline finding the best fish and chips! Anyone care to join me?

During lunch, I started chatting with a couple who invited me to go crabbing with them. It was just like what you see on The Deadlist Catch, expect it’s done off a dock, not as dangerous, and much easier. All that’s needed are crab rings or pods, raw chicken, line, and open water! Looks like I have added another “to-do” on to my never ending list. This couple taught me the rules to crabbing, the difference between red-rock crab and dungeness crab (red vs. purple-brownish), and how to tell if the crab is a male or female. This was my first crabbing experience.

Standing on the dock, I started hearing this grunting noise and noticed heads popping out of the water. SEA LIONS were following boats into the marina and that’s when I was told about the sea lions dock. Sea lions are not friendly but on this dock, I was standing only 20 feet away and they weren’t even fazed by all commotion. There has been attacks in the past according to a fishing guide, but today they were pleasant (thank goodness for my sake).

Now onto the lighthouse (my first lighthouse experience). Known as Grays Harbor Lighthouse, built in 1897/1898, standing 107′ tall, with 135 steps to the top, this lighthouse lends a friendly note that a safe harbor is near. This is the tallest lighthouse in WA and the third tallest on the west coast.  Originally, the lighthouse stood 400 feet from high tide and now stands 3000 feet from high tide. For full information on the lighthouse, click here, as if I continued this post would never end.

Cranberry Bogs were next on my list and another first experience. Ocean Spray has a factory between Aberdeen and Grayland (24 miles apart/4 miles south of Westport)  and of all the cranberry bogs in Grayland, only 1 DOES NOT sell to Ocean Spray. It’s strange to think that whenever I drink Ocean Spray cranberry juice, I could be drinking cranberries grown just south of me. There is an entire driving tour surrounding Grayland’s cranberry bogs and I only did about 1/3 of the self-guided tour and plan on finishing this tour on another day. If you want more information, Click here. I did take pictures of the first cranberry bog, which was planted by E.B. Benn in about 1919; the Stevens variety bog, which are generally ripen and grow earlier and have a sweeter taste; gray spots in bogs damaged by cranberry black vine weevils; and 1818 Cranberry Road which is the historic site on which the Furford Picker was first used (machine used to harvest cranberries).

All of the above was completed in a mere 6 hours. I am still amazed by the gems surrounding Aberdeen and each week my love for this state  continues to grow. My 3 month anniversary is approaching and when I think back to all I’ve seen and done, I can’t help but think “I’m where I should be”. Stay tuned to see what my next mapless adventure is going to be!

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