Umpqua National Forest, Oregon

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 Harvesting Oregon grapes, which isn’t technically a grape at all, but a bush in the barberry family.

Harvesting Oregon grapes, which isn’t technically a grape at all, but a bush in the barberry family.

 Also harvesting Salal berries. I love the taste of these berries (a complex mix of blueberries and blackcurrant).

Also harvesting Salal berries. I love the taste of these berries (a complex mix of blueberries and blackcurrant).

 If you press the stem side of a salal berry, the other side opens up and creates a beautiful fruit flower!

If you press the stem side of a salal berry, the other side opens up and creates a beautiful fruit flower!

  Salal berry gimlet   1 ½ oz London Dry Gin 1 oz lime juice 1 oz salal berry syrup  Shake 20 sec with ice, strain over fresh ice.

Salal berry gimlet

1 ½ oz London Dry Gin
1 oz lime juice
1 oz salal berry syrup

Shake 20 sec with ice, strain over fresh ice.

It was quite something to drive through the very smoky part of the Umpqua National Forest being escorted by a pilot car (with signs saying: Active Wildfires, DO NOT STOP). It was hard to get accurate information online about the air condition (it changed fast and the sites were not up to date) and we thought we could camp near the Umpqua River Trail and bike part of it (it's an epic trail), but most of the campgrounds were closed because of the fires. We came across this little gem of a campground just as we were starting to feel a bit discouraged. The air was so cool and fresh by the falls! Oregon is full of incredible places.

We ended up staying there 2 nights and except for a few people driving in to see the falls, stay 10 minutes and leave, we had the whole place to ourselves. We had hoped to go to the Umpqua Hot Springs, but the access road was closed and it was cooking hot anyways. 

Ruby Beach and South Beach, Olympic Peninsula, WA

 South Beach

South Beach

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 Trying to take pictures of whales is quite frustrating...

Trying to take pictures of whales is quite frustrating...

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 Reflexion of the orange sun from the forest fire smoke on the ocean.

Reflexion of the orange sun from the forest fire smoke on the ocean.

 Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

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 Tons of green anemones.

Tons of green anemones.

 Exploring the tide pools at Ruby Beach

Exploring the tide pools at Ruby Beach

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 Look at all these sea stars!

Look at all these sea stars!

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 Hermit Crab.

Hermit Crab.

 Kelp crab

Kelp crab

 The sea star population was decimated a few years ago by a virus called sea star wasting disease. This sea star is dying. It has lost a limb already, a sure sign of the disease.

The sea star population was decimated a few years ago by a virus called sea star wasting disease. This sea star is dying. It has lost a limb already, a sure sign of the disease.

 The good news is that in the last year, we see lots of baby sea stars, like this tiny purple sea star, which means the population is growing back.

The good news is that in the last year, we see lots of baby sea stars, like this tiny purple sea star, which means the population is growing back.

From the Hoh Rainforest, we headed to the Pacific Coast of the Peninsula to Kalaloch Beach. We had made a reservation for an ocean front site there, but the site was too small for our rig and there was only 3G signal which was not good enough for work. The ranger sent us 3 miles down the road to South Beach campground where there was 4G LTE and some open sites. The campground is nicer and more treed at Kalaloch, but South Beach is right on the ocean. It looks more like a big parking lot than a campground, but at $15 per night, we didn't complain! And what was the first thing that we saw once we got off the bus? Grey whales jumping! We had no idea that South Beach is one of their stop on their way back to Baja where they go back to calve and nurse in the warm lagoons. They return in early Spring on their way to arctic feeding ground in Alaska. Somehow, across 4000 miles of ocean, they navigate precisely, on a predictable timetable!

We thought we had lucked out incredibly with our timing... until we found out through Ranger Meagan on the tide pool outing that for the first time this year, 200 whales stayed here all summer... things are changing for sure... She also told us that about 3 weeks ago, she was part of a rescue mission to help a whale that was life stranded on the beach. It took almost 48 hours for the crew to help her back to the water since the tides were not in their favor. They used a a pulley system to turn the whale so she could face the water and finally, it worked! 

 The Amaroni is a cousin of the Negroni. Instead of the more in-your-face Campari that might not be love at first taste for many, this is a great introduction to the world of Negroni. AMARONI 1 oz gin (I used Hendrick's, but use your favorite Negroni Gin, Plymouth is a good choice here) 1 oz Carpano Formula Antica sweet Vermouth 1 oz Mia Amata Amaro (or your favorite amaro, Averna would be a good mild introduction, Ramazotti would be more along the same lines as the Mia Amata). Orange peel for garnish  Stir with ice for 30 sec and strain on new ice. Garnish with orange peel.

The Amaroni is a cousin of the Negroni. Instead of the more in-your-face Campari that might not be love at first taste for many, this is a great introduction to the world of Negroni.
AMARONI
1 oz gin (I used Hendrick's, but use your favorite Negroni Gin, Plymouth is a good choice here)
1 oz Carpano Formula Antica sweet Vermouth
1 oz Mia Amata Amaro (or your favorite amaro, Averna would be a good mild introduction, Ramazotti would be more along the same lines as the Mia Amata).
Orange peel for garnish

Stir with ice for 30 sec and strain on new ice. Garnish with orange peel.

The Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, WA

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 On the Spruce Trail

On the Spruce Trail

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 Uprooted Sitka Spruce

Uprooted Sitka Spruce

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 On the Hall of Mosses Trail

On the Hall of Mosses Trail

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The Hoh Rainforest is located in the Heart of the Olympic Peninsula in the Olympic National Park. It is one of the most diversified national parks in terms of landscape. It is mind blowing to stand in the hot rain forest and to think that Mount Olympus and the Blue Glacier are a mere 18 miles away. We saw many people leaving for long treks on the glaciers and the girls were asking when we could come back and do it too. Another long hike to add to our ever-growing list!

From the Visitor Center (and the campground), there are 3 main hiking trails. The longer Hoh River Trail on which you can hike as long as you want and two shorter trails that offer spectacular views (where the photos above were taken), The Hall of Mosses trail (0.8 miles) and The Spruce Trail (1.2 miles). I highly recommend you hike both, but if you can only pick one, do the Hall of Mosses.

We came here on the Sunday of Labor Day long weekend thinking there was no way we would have a spot (all the sites here are first come first serve, so no reservations). To our surprises, there were still a few sites left that were big enough for our bus. Loop A is much less treed and offers sites on the river. We chose to be there for solar. Loop B and C are in the moss covered trees (Loop C has pretty tight turns, check it out on foot or with a tow vehicle first). And great news, there even was connexion on many sites in Loop A (very hit and miss 4G LTE, but good enough for JF to work).

I had no idea that the Olympic Peninsula used to be an island. In fact, ice-age glaciers have carved the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, separating the Olympic Peninsula from nearby land. Years of isolation means that there are over 20 plants and animals that are found nowhere else on Earth!

 It was so hot in the rainforest that I wanted a tangy refreshing drink. So I created this.   The North Vanagon   1 ½ oz Hendricks Gin ½ oz St-Germain ½ oz Grand Marnier Juice of 1 ½ key lime ¼ oz simple syrup 5 drops of Bittered Sling grapefruit and hops bitters  Shake with ice and pour on one big cube of ice.   

It was so hot in the rainforest that I wanted a tangy refreshing drink. So I created this.

The North Vanagon

1 ½ oz Hendricks Gin
½ oz St-Germain
½ oz Grand Marnier
Juice of 1 ½ key lime
¼ oz simple syrup
5 drops of Bittered Sling grapefruit and hops bitters

Shake with ice and pour on one big cube of ice.

 

Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, Olympic Peninsula, WA

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 How fairies are born

How fairies are born

 Hike to Cape Flattery

Hike to Cape Flattery

 View at the tip of Cape Flattery

View at the tip of Cape Flattery

 There are many caves at the Cape.

There are many caves at the Cape.

 The beautiful rugged waters of Cape Flattery

The beautiful rugged waters of Cape Flattery

 Hobuck Beach

Hobuck Beach

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 Green anemones in the tide pools

Green anemones in the tide pools

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From Neah Bay, it is a short 10 minute drive to Cape Flattery, the northwest tip of the Lower 48. The hike to get the to the tip where the Cape is located is only 1.5 mile through a beautiful Coastal Forest. Since Cape Flattery is on the Makah Reservation, you need to get a permit to hike the trail ($10 per vehicle for the year). We got ours at Neah Bay's General Store. 

As for camping in the area, the options are limited. Hobuck RV Resort has 10 full hook-up sites with a seaview (but pretty close together) for $40/night. There is also a field down the road where you can camp for $20/night (access to shower and outhouses, but otherwise dry camping). It might be a good option on the off-season, but since we got there on the Friday before Labor Day, it was a zoo. The only other option was a new RV park called Hide-away RV park (that looked more like an RV storage lot than an campground), but they had full hook-up sites for $30/night (and a few dry camping spots for $20) and it was a short 100 yard walk to the beach. It was much more quiet there.

Keep in mind that the drive to Neah Bay from Port Angeles is pretty twisty and bumpy (frost heaves), so lock your cupboards and secure everything and take what you need for motion sickness. Take your time and enjoy the scenery!

There is a beautiful hike that can be done as an overnighter (you sleep on the beach!) to Shi-shi Beach or as a long day hike (it is part of the Olympic National Park). With Mara being injured (and with the amount of cars along the trailhead), we decided to keep it for another time.

Also, on a different note, I will publish cocktails here in some posts (you can find them in the cocktails category), but I won't publish them all (it's a traveling blog after all!), but you can access them all either on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag redbusdrinks (#redbusdrinks). My friend Catheline is translating many of them and publishing them on her beautiful site (in French only).

 My Manhattan  2 oz rye whiskey  3/4 oz  @oddsocietyspirits  Italian bittersweet Vermouth  1/2 oz rosemary honey syrup 3 dashes orange sage bitters   Stir with ice and strain. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

My Manhattan

2 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz @oddsocietyspirits Italian bittersweet Vermouth
1/2 oz rosemary honey syrup
3 dashes orange sage bitters

Stir with ice and strain. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Gastown, Vancouver

 Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

 The  Paperhound  Bookstore

The Paperhound Bookstore

  Purebread  has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

Purebread has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

 Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

 And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called  Space Lab  (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called Space Lab (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

  Edgemont Liquor  is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

Edgemont Liquor is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

 And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called  Emilio FInatti  in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called Emilio FInatti in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

Other locations that are not depicted and that are worth mentionning:
The Modern Bar Tender, where they sell a huge variety of bitters and syrups, but even better of herbs to make your own bitters for a fraction of the price. The great thing is that they have testers of every bitter for the clients to taste. 

A really cute consignment store called Hunter and Hare.

As for camping in the Great Vancouver Area, it is very limited. The only legit place to camp for free is in North Van by the Walmart in the street (not the parking lot). It's not the greatest neighborhood and it's not leveled, but it's free and only 2 km from the Seabus to Vancouver (Gastown). In Vancouver per se, forget it. We asked at the Costco in Langley if we could spend the night after shopping there and the manager said yes (always make sure to write down his/her name), but when we came back to the bus after less than an hour in the store, there had been an attempt to steal Mara's bike (a grab 'n go thing, but the thief didn't notice the big Shwab chain and the bike was hanging from it). So, we moved to an industrial area in Langley in front of the garage where we had an appointment for the Westfalia the next morning. It wasn't a great neighborhood, but JF had the good idea to switch the bike rack onto the bus, so the bikes would sit just behind our head as we slept. Late that night, as we had just fallen asleep, JF heard voices and opened the curtain to see 2 guys who literally had their faces in the bikes. That's when Stout heard them too and barked his powerful bark. It was pretty funny to see them scamper away like little boys!

So, like any big city, Vancouver is not camper friendly. The closest RV park is in Burnaby and charges over $50 per night. There is also this RV park that looks nice in North Van that would be closer to the Seabus to go visit Gastown. It's still probably your best bet for a safe quiet location to visit Vancouver.
 

Morchuea Lake Recreation site on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway

 Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

 Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

 Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

 Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

  The Stewart-Cassiar  1 ½ oz  P ort Chilkoot Distillery Gin  ¾ oz Lillet Blanc ½ oz lemon juice ½ oz real maple syrup ½ oz rosemary syrup 3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters 1 egg white   Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

The Stewart-Cassiar
1 ½ oz Port Chilkoot Distillery Gin
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz real maple syrup
½ oz rosemary syrup
3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters
1 egg white

Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

 We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

 Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

 Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love a good free campsite. With the bus, we don't need the services that a campground offers, but we long for the quiet of the wild, so recreation sites are the perfect solution for us in BC where campsites are pretty pricey (and busy!). Morchuea Lake is located just North of Iskut on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and has 8 campsites (2 that are closer to the lake). There were quite a bit of bugs (black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes...), but the gorgeous lake with Mount Edziza as a backdrop (and a kitchen tent!) made it worth a 2 night stop. 

Mount Edziza is an icon of BC culture and Canada's second largest young volcano. It is surrounded by lots of cinder cones. It is not accessible by road and the best way to get to Mount Edziza Provincial Park is by plane from Telegraph Creek. There is some spectaclular hiking to do around it and it's an area we'd love to explore more one day.

In the garden, in the kitchen and on the road we go!

 Mom, I picked all the carotts!

Mom, I picked all the carotts!

 Having fun combining my interest and knowledge of mixology and botanicals.

Having fun combining my interest and knowledge of mixology and botanicals.

 Making rosemary lemon syrup for our cocktails

Making rosemary lemon syrup for our cocktails

The Aurora Borealis

1 oz. Lillet Blanc
1 oz. Yukon Aura gin (a gin little Boodle or even The Botanist would have worked well here, anything that is not too crazy on the juniper or spruce)
1 ½ oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
3/4 oz Odd Society Spirits Bittersweet Vermouth
1 bar spoon of homemade wild rose syrup
½ a bar spoon of homemade rosemary syrup
1 spring of rosemary and 1 lemon rind for garnish

Shake all ingredients (except for garnishes) together in an ice-filled cocktail shaker for about 25 seconds, and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Provençal sour

1 ½  oz Bourbon
¾  oz Benedictine
¾  oz lemon juice
¾ oz homemade wild rose syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes of homemade lavender-grapefruit bitters
½ an egg white

Dry shake. Add ice and shake again. Top with dried lavender.

 Harvesting wild sage along the Yukon River.

Harvesting wild sage along the Yukon River.

 Wild sage

Wild sage

 Harvesting juniper berries.

Harvesting juniper berries.

As you can see, our last few weeks in the Yukon were spent harvesting, picking food from our friend's greenhouse, cooking and playing with herbs to make cocktail bitters. What are those, do you ask? I remember when I first read about bitters in cocktails... I thought they sounded so fancy and so hipster... Bitters are a maceration of bitter herbs, citrus peels, spices and other ingredients in alcohol that you add to cocktails (often just a few drops) to give them depth. The combination is limitless and I had a lot of fun preparing my own. I have currently many in the cupboard that I will test in a few weeks (lavender grapefruit bitters, orange wild sage and juniper bitters, rhubarb, chamomile and ginger bitters, lemongrass-cardamom bitters and more!). Yes, it is quite addictive! A fun combination of plant knowledge and kitchen/cocktail fun! It's like magic potion making for adults! And now, with berry season, I am also playing with liqueur/cordial making (I currently have haskap liqueur and black currant liqueur macerating). Those cocktails will just get better!!

We're off down the Cassiar-Stewart Highway for the next few days and will reemerge on the other side after 3-4 days without connexion. Just what we need after an exciting summer full of friends and activities.

 

Yukon Spring

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 Still frozen lakes... this type of ice is called candle ice and the sound it makes when it moves is totally amazing. 

Still frozen lakes... this type of ice is called candle ice and the sound it makes when it moves is totally amazing. 

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 10:30 pm light in late May.

10:30 pm light in late May.

 10 o'clock in my bedroom in late May...

10 o'clock in my bedroom in late May...

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 Gardening with our friends.

Gardening with our friends.

 That's my favorite summer cocktail. I am pretty proud of that creation that I call the Ubach Especial, since I created it first for my good friend Antonio (from Tucson). Recipe below. 

That's my favorite summer cocktail. I am pretty proud of that creation that I call the Ubach Especial, since I created it first for my good friend Antonio (from Tucson). Recipe below. 

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 The girls did an orienteering workshop and had a blast. They will be going to the orienteering meets of the club this summer.

The girls did an orienteering workshop and had a blast. They will be going to the orienteering meets of the club this summer.

 Eating bearberry flowers (uva ursi) on a hike. These are a spring delicacy.

Eating bearberry flowers (uva ursi) on a hike. These are a spring delicacy.

There is discomfort for me in staying put. I thrive on new adventures and new places to discover. I know I’ll never outgrow my wanderlust, but I need to learn to do ordinary. I want to. Every time I come back to the Yukon, I struggle with the transition from in-movement to no-movement. It’s like I wait for people to come up with plans, dinners, activities. I feel clumsy in this life of calendars and organized weeks.

There’s lots of shoulds in my head that I am trying to shush right now (you should just appreciate this down time after all the wonderful adventures of this winter, you should be grateful for the lack of busyness this summer, etc.). But balance is necessary in all things. Just like night makes you appreciate day light, slowness makes you appreciate a faster pace... Too much of anything doesn't feel right and I am adjusting and fine tuning this balance as we settle back in for the summer. It's a fine act, but I am slowly finding my groove.

I added a new search by locations/activities tab on Road it up website, so it is easier to find the information you need in the archives of the site. You can also do a search on the Home page with Moab camping or Oregon rock climbing to get more specific results now that I have added tags to the posts (thanks, Audrey, for that suggestion!). Note that I am still going through every old post and tagging it, so it will take a bit to have everything in there.


Ubach Especial

For 1

1 oz Vodka
2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz red vermouth
1/4 oz Campari
1/2 egg white
1 dash of Angostura bitters
Candied grapefruit peel (or plain old grapefruit strip)
2 oz Soda water

Combine the 8 first ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds, open carefully and add ice. Shake again for 30 sec, then strain into a chilled rocks glass. Top with 2 oz of soda water. Add candied grapefruit peel. Note that you can replace the Vermouth + Campari by 1/2 an oz of Italian Bittersweet Vermouth.