Outdoors

Rain or Shine on the Road: Moab, Utah

It's pretty obvious that we love the Pacific Northwest seeing as how we have dedicated our entire website to it. Like most people, though, we also love vacation! We are curious explorers, and we both spend a great deal of time traveling outside of the Northwest. We thought it would be fun to occasionally share our thoughts about place we have been. Up first, Moab, Utah!

Moab is a beautiful area of the U.S. known for its unique red rock formations, incredible hiking, and outdoor recreation. If you only have a few days in the area, here is what we recommend:

Delicate Arch Rock

Delicate Arch Rock

  • Hike to Delicate Arch Rock in Arches National Park. The park has a plethora of places to explore, but if you only have a small amount of time, the Delicate Arch is a (somewhat) easy hike that will take you to a very famous Moab landmark.
The Canyonlands view from Dead Horse State Park

The Canyonlands view from Dead Horse State Park

  • Drive to Dead Horse State Park to see the incredible view of the Canyonlands that rivals the Grand Canyon. If you don't have time to explore all of the Canyonlands National Park, then you can catch all the beauty from this one spot. Bonus points if you get up early and go for sunrise. Just don't forget coffee.
Hwy 128

Hwy 128

  • Drive the scenic Hwy 128 and pull over to check out the unique formations of Fisher Towers. This highway is one of the most scenic in the world and will allow you to see Moab in all its red rock glory. Many movies have been filmed in this location due to the beautiful backdrop (Thelma and Louise for starters!)
Castle Creek Winery

Castle Creek Winery

  • Visit Castle Creek Winery. Who knew grapes could grow in the desert?!?! They do and they are delicious. The winery is located along Hwy 128, so it's an easy stop along your scenic drive. There is a movie museum located in the lodge next door that showcases all the films that have been made in the area! It's fun and free.
Morning Glory Arch

Morning Glory Arch

  • Hike to Morning Glory Arch. Also located on Hwy 128, this is an easy hike (four miles roundtrip) and will take you to one of the longest natural bridges in the world! It's a pretty hike that will take you across a creek bed multiple times, past cactuses, and across rock slabs. If you are you lucky, you might see climbers propelling down the bridge.

  • Eat a delicious breakfast at Eklecticafe. To be honest, the town of Moab is small and somewhat unimpressive, but we loved the charm of Eklecticafe. This cute, local spot has a diverse menu and wonderful coffee. It's decorated with neat knickknacks and garden art.

  • Grab a burger and shake at Milt's Stop and Eat. This place is a local favorite and the oldest restaurant in Moab. It's a great deal and all of the meat is grass-fed and hormone-free. Eat on the patio and enjoy the Moab air.

Volunteer Park

The view from the top of the water tower

The view from the top of the water tower

You can't talk about Seattle parks without mentioning Capitol Hill's 48.3 acre Volunteer Park. It has an Asian Art Museum, sculptures, a dahlia garden, a conservatory, a water tower you can climb, a wading pool, tennis courts, lots of land to picnic, and plenty of squirrels (a main criteria when rating parks). There is so much to do here you could fill an entire afternoon wandering and sightseeing. And with Volunteer Park Café only a few blocks away, your day is set.

Black Sun by Isamu Noguchi

Black Sun by Isamu Noguchi

A peek of the space needle

A peek of the space needle

One of our personal favorites of this park is the Black Sun sculpture by Isamu Noguchi, which sits on the edge of the reservoir and offers views of the Space Needle, Elliot Bay, and the Olympic Mountains. It couldn't be better for Instagraming the city and it also reminds us of a donut, so all the important things art should do (Noguchi would probably cry if he read that, sorry Noguchi). It has been credited as the inspiration for Soundgarden's famous 1994 song Black Hole Sun, sadly Chris Cornell has not confirmed this so we aren't sure if it's true, but next time we run into him we plan to ask. Feel free to sit by the sculpture and blast the song and reminisce about how awesome the 90s were, though.

We also recommend stopping in at the Conservatory ($4) and checking out the tropical plant collection. It's actually a perfect winter time activity too as they have to keep the temperature balmy to support the tropical plants. We like to go in the middle of winter and pretend we are in Costa Rica.

Tropical plants in the Conservatory

Tropical plants in the Conservatory

Lots of cactuses in the Conservatory too

Lots of cactuses in the Conservatory too

Last stop is the Asian Art Museum. It costs $9 and the camels at the front entrance make for great photo opportunities. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but opens at 10am the rest of the week. We like to go and look at the collection of Buddha sculptures, there is something so peaceful about them. The museum has been around since 1933 and is currently looking to be restored. You can learn more about that here.

Seattle's Asian Art Museum ( source )

Seattle's Asian Art Museum (source)

 

 

Mailbox Peak

It's true we are no strangers to hard hikes (see: Grouse Grind), but we wouldn't say we exactly seek them out. What we do love here at Rain or Shine Guides and what we WILL seek out is weird stuff (see: Hat N' Boots). When we heard there was a 4,800 foot+ mountain peak with a mailbox installed on it, we decided, yes, that's weird and we must see it. It didn't matter that Mailbox Peak is arguably one of the hardest hikes in the Snoqualmie area. Weird stuff is always worth it.

Our office dog, Maggie, crushed the trail

Our office dog, Maggie, crushed the trail

Nobody knows exactly why a longtime letter carrier decided to install a mailbox at this particular mountain, but it is what gives this peak its name and is what made it famous. There are two ways to get to the top of the mountain. You can go the old way, which is so steep it's considered a vertical incline, gaining almost all of that 4,800 feet in 2.5 miles. Fair warning now...it's unrelenting. It's torture. It will make you call your Mom crying. The trail will start with a well worn path but quickly becomes a mess of trees, and you must follow the white diamonds stapled to the trees to find the rest of the way to the top. Your other option is the new trail, which was built not too long ago as a result of all the injuries and rescues that were occurring on the old trail. So, why would you even consider the old trail, you ask? The new trail is nothing but a sea of switchbacks and will take you over twice the distance (9.4 miles roundtrip). We decided to take the old trail up and the new trail down, and this worked out well. It cut the distance a bit, but felt safer overall. No matter what option you take, remember to take your time. Your quads, knees, back, calves and sanity will thank you.

When you do finally reach the top, give yourself a pat on the back, crack open one of those beers you remembered to pack, and take in the 360 degree panoramic views.

Insider tip: People leave all sorts of interesting things in the mailbox. It's fun to bring a small token with you to leave or to swap out for something different. We brought a Marshawn Lynch themed poker chip because nothing is more beast mode than this hike. Also, don't forget your Discover Pass!

5 Places for the Adrenaline Junkie in Seattle

"If you don't feel like you are going to puke at least once a week, you aren't living life hard enough." - Mother Theresa 

Seattle is full of natural wonders that will get your blood running. You can hike back country trails, ski down mountains, and kayak with whales. If you are the type of person who loves getting your adrenaline rushing and that "Oh shiz, my stomach is in my throat" feeling then we have the list for you. 

Paragliding off Poo Poo Point

Paragliding off Poo Poo Point

Parafly Paragliding 

If you have ever hiked to the top of Poo Poo Point you might have noticed those people strapped to gliders jumping off the mountain. If you have ever wanted to feel like you were a bird and see the Pacific Northwest from an aerial view this is going to be your jam! Takes 2-3 hours from start to finish, tandem flights cost $220.

Skydive Snohomish

Skydiving is not for the faint of heart. The scariest part is willing yourself to jump out of a plane (not usually a good thing). Your brain might be screaming no, but quiet that voice and jump! You'll never experience a feeling like this any other way. Skydive Snohomish has very friendly, trustworthy staff and a great history of jumps that put safety first. Takes 3 hours and costs $225 for a tandem jump.

Sound Excursions 

Sound Excursions hosts a wide variety of events, one of which is white water rafting class IV rapids on the Skykomish River. The great thing about Sound Excursions is they plan everything, including transporting you from Seattle to the landing sight, food during the outing, and a guide for the whole thing! Oh, and you can BYOB too (Shots! Shots! Shots!) Cost is $139 for a nine hour excursion.

Canopy Tours NW

This zipling company located on Camano Island is home to a course of 6 ziplines. If you've never been before this a great starter zipline course, and it doesn't require too much stamina. The walking is all done on forest trails, so it's great for all ages (well unless you are under 12 since that's the age minimum). Plus you get transported to the ziplines in one of these-- COOL. It takes about 2.5 hours and costs $103. 

iFly Seattle 

We all know the weather can put a damper on plans sometimes. This means we have a lot of indoor options for things that are usually outdoor activities. Swimming pools, mini golf, and now skydiving have moved indoors! if you are over the age of three (who has an adventurous toddler??) and in good physical health this is open to you. It takes 1.5 hours and this summer they have a deal that only costs $49.95. 

What do we hope to see soon in Seattle that isn't currently here? Bungee jumping. All we are saying is there are a lot of bridges and cranes in the area...seems like someone should use them for our entertainment.