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Month Ninety-Five started in Japan but was mostly spent back in the U.S. – bouncing around between multiple states before returning to the Gorge to work for the summer season on the last day of the month.
I started the month in Takahara with a bit of a sake hangover after a big sake party the night before. We still had a couple of miles to hike out to Takijiri-oji and then we had completed the five-day Kumano Kodo trail!
After a night back in Osaka where we wandered Dotonbori at night and ate more kushiage and gyoza, we caught a bullet train to Tokyo where we were meeting up with my brother for two nights.
It was great to see him and we had fun exploring Tokyo together despite some rain.
And then it was time to say goodbye to Japan and I really didn’t want to. Luckily we had three days in Hawaii to look forward to before heading back to the mainland. We stayed by the University in Honolulu and although I didn’t get to do everything I had planned to do due to some rain, I enjoyed exploring the area and getting back to Waikiki for beach time.
From Hawaii we flew into Denver where we mostly ran errands and caught up with friends and family, then we drove down to New Mexico to spend some time with Toby’s Dad and visit my New Mexico faves. We also squeezed in a visit to the Puye Cliff Dwellings which were really cool.
Then we hit the road for our road trip to the Pacific Northwest – Toby to the Gorge and me to Oregon for some housesitting.
We stopped in Pagosa Springs, Durango, Moab, Salt Lake City, and Boise then parted ways. It was stressful with Brownie the RV having some issues and it was a lot of driving over only six days but we had some fun too.
I spent the next nine days in Oregon split between Portland and Bend, catsitting and exploring the food, beer, and hiking scenes in these lovely cities. I also visited Silver Falls State Park and Smith Rock State Park which were both incredible.
And then I was back at the Gorge after seven months away, ready to get to work for the season.
Now onto the stats!
Countries Visited: Japan, USA
- Japan: Takahara, Kii-Tanabe, Osaka, Tokyo
- Hawaii: Honolulu
- Colorado: Denver, Boulder, Aurora, Pagosa Springs, Durango
- New Mexico: Ojo Caliente, Espanola, Chimayo, Santa Fe
- Utah: Moab, Salt Lake City
- Idaho: Boise
- Oregon: Pendleton, Portland, Bend
- Washington: Ellensburg, George
National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Arches National Park in Utah, Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon, and Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.
Islands Visited: Oahu in Hawaii.
Days on the Road: 30 days.
Best Meals: Cream crab croquette and fried squid from Torikatsu Chicken in Tokyo; Spicy ahi tuna poke from Foodlands in Honolulu; Mac nut custard malasada from Leonard’s in Honolulu; Vietnamese noodle bowl with vegetable spring rolls and grilled shrimp from Pho Nina in Honolulu; Mole vegetable enchiladas from Tune-Up Cafe in Santa Fe; Vegetarian mixed plate with bean taco, chile relleno, and cheese enchilada with sopapillas and honey from Rancho de Chimayo in Chimayo; Vegan Tofu Banh Mi from Mama Dut in Portland; Mixed mini donuts from The Mini Donut Company in Portland; Classic burger and fries from Blue Eyed Burgers in Bend.
Worst Meals: The bento box I got from Osaka Station – some very questionable, and for me, inedible, meats.
Best Craft Beer: I’m back in the US and I have been making the most of it by hitting up lots of breweries. My best beers this month are Menehune’s Revenge IPA with pineapple and spruce tips from Beer Lab in Honolulu, Summit Sammich Cream Ale by Backwoods Brewing Company in Portland, Tree Strider Fruited Ale and Aurora’s Arrival Winter Ale from Kobold Brewing in Bend.
- Kumano Kodo Trail from Takahara to Takijiri-oji in Japan 2.3 miles
- Pueblo trails hike in Espanola, NM 2.6 miles
- Raider’s Ridge Lookout via Skyline Trail in Durango, CO 5 miles
- Windows Trail Loop and Double Arch trail in Arches National Park, UT 2 miles
- Ridge Trail in Forest Park, Portland, OR 4 miles
- Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, OR 7.8 miles
- Pilot Butte base and summit trails in Bend, OR 3.5 miles
- Lava Butte trail in Newberry National Volcanic Monument, OR 3.85 miles
- Misery Ridge and Summit trail in Smith Rock State Park 6.8 miles
Watching: So many great movies and TV shows this month. My top picks are The Whale, She Said, Station Eleven, The Last of Us, Daisy Jones and the Six, Queer Eye Season 7, and Sweet Tooth Season 2.
Reading: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, The Adult Orphan Club by Flora Baker.
New Posts: I wrote one new post this month, about the best things to do in one of my favorite mountain towns in Colorado, Buena Vista.
Hanging Out With My Brother in Tokyo
Somehow through miraculous timing, we were in Tokyo for the last two days of our Japan trip when my brother was going to be there for the first two days of his.
It was great spending some time together and we squeezed a lot in including Senso-ji Temple, teamLab Planets, Tsukiji Fish Market, Harajuku, Meiji Jinju shrine, and some of the tiny bars in Golden Gai.
Stopover in Hawaii
To break up our journey from Tokyo to Denver, we decided to spend three days in Honolulu, and as always, it was a great time. I did have grand plans to take buses out to Lanikai Beach and to hike to Manoa Falls but I didn’t end up doing either.
We ended up spending the first day when we were super jetlagged relaxing at Waikiki Beach, the second miserable and rainy day hanging out at our hostel and visiting some of the local food spots (there is incredible food by the University!), and then on our last day, we headed back to the beach and walked more around Waikiki.
Reunited With Friends and Family in Colorado and New Mexico
It was great to be back in Colorado and New Mexico catching up with friends and family over dinners and drinks. We only had five nights back in Denver and had lots of errands to run so we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted to but we squeezed in a lot. I even spent a day visiting my cousin and hiking in Boulder.
In New Mexico, we got to spend a lot of time with Toby’s Dad and housemate as well as getting out to explore a lot so it was a successful visit.
Revisiting My New Mexico Favorites and Discovering New Ones
I love New Mexico and on every visit, I always try to get to Ojo Caliente to soak, Santa Fe to eat and walk around the Plaza and Canyon Road, and Rancho de Chimayo for a meal.
We ticked everything off the list this time and also found a new area to hike in Espanola and visited the excellent Puye Cliff Dwellings for the first time on a guided tour.
Road Trip Adventures in the Southwest
From New Mexico, we headed back to Colorado for a couple of days, hanging out in Pagosa Springs and Durango, hiking and soaking at Durango Hot Springs, then we crossed into Utah for a couple of nights to do some hiking in Arches National Park, explore Moab, and visit friends in Salt Lake City.
Our last stop was Boise where I did some hiking around Camel’s Back Park, spent an evening in the nearby Hyde Park district, and had breakfast with Toby’s friend and his partner. From there, I had a long drive to Portland and Toby headed to the Gorge.
Exploring Portland and Bend
I have visited Portland and Bend before but only briefly so it was really nice to explore more of these beautiful cities. I spent five nights catsitting in Portland, three nights catsitting in Bend, and then a night in a hotel.
I focused on hiking or walking different trails or areas every day, exploring different neighborhoods, and hitting up some breweries, food truck parks, and restaurants, as well as spending some time relaxing and working. I definitely felt like I achieved a great balance and really enjoyed both places.
A Trail Full of Incredible Waterfalls
On the way between Portland and Bend, I stopped at Silver Falls State Park to hike the Trail of Ten Falls and was absolutely blown away by how beautiful it was.
Three or four of the waterfalls you could actually walk behind which was just incredible. I am not usually someone that goes crazy over waterfalls but I was so impressed and it was one of the best things I did in Oregon.
Hiking in Smith Rock State Park
I was also really impressed by the scale and beauty of Smith Rock State Park north of Bend. The scenery was so dramatic and spectacular and I really loved experiencing the landscape by hiking the Misery Ridge and Summit trails. I took so many photos!
Rain in Hawaii
It was such a bummer to get a full day of rain in Hawaii when we only had three days there, but we made the most of it by getting malasadas at Leonard’s, poke from Foodland, Vietnamese from Pho Nina, and beer at Beer Lab HI.
So yeah, we just focused on incredible food and drinks and it ended up being one of the best food days of our entire five-month trip, so it definitely wasn’t all bad.
My Phone Finally Died
My phone started glitching when I dropped it near the top of Thorong La Pass in Nepal but managed to hang in there until I got back to Denver, and then the screen died. It took a few days to get a new phone so it wasn’t that big of a deal in the end, and I love my new phone so much.
I had planned to visit Chimney Rock National Monument on our road trip but it wasn’t open for the season, I wanted to soak in the free hot springs in Pagosa Springs but they were submerged by the super high river, and I was really looking forward to eating my favorite breakfast burrito in the world at Peak Deli in Pagosa but that was closed too. Oh well.
Brownie the RV was at it again, stressing us out on our road trip. First, the water tank leaked all the water out, luckily outside the vehicle.
Then the alternator stopped working, but luckily Toby had a spare and was able to replace it, and then the speed started throttling down on the highway – we still don’t know what happened with that one. Toby tried to see a mechanic but couldn’t get in, and then it came right again. Oh, the joys of having a vehicle over 40 years old!
Unfortunately, the kitty at the first catsit, although very cute, was not a friendly girl – not to me at least. The entire five days I was there she yowled and hissed at me the whole time. Except when I was giving her treats – then she was my best friend for five seconds.
A lot of these costs are my half with Toby paying the other half. I also don’t include international flights in my recaps.
This was an excessively expensive month with my flight from Hawaii to Denver, gas from New Mexico to Washington, a new phone, a couple of pairs of new shoes, and a splurge month for food and drinks. Next month will definitely be better (or I’m in trouble!)
My seven nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of one night in a dorm room in a hostel in Osaka, two nights in a dorm room in a hostel in Tokyo, three nights in a private room in a hostel in Honolulu, and one night at a motel in Bend.
My 23 nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of five nights staying with family in Aurora, four nights staying with family in Espanola, four nights free camping between New Mexico and Oregon, one night staying with a friend in Salt Lake City, five nights housesitting in Portland, three nights housesitting in Bend, and one night in staff accommodation at the Gorge Amphitheatre.
Food and Drink $1058
Yikes, went a bit crazy on food and drink spending when I got back to the U.S. This girl loves eating out and I was so excited to get good craft beer again.
- T-shirt $31.50
- Sarong $22.50
- Socks $12
- Bus from Takijiri-oji to Kii Tanabe $7
- Bus from Kii Tanabe to Osaka $23
- Subway in Osaka $2
- Train from Osaka to Tokyo $99.50
- Subway in Tokyo $17
- Train from Tokyo to Narita Airport $18.50
- Rideshares in Honolulu $28
- Honolulu local buses $3
- Flight from Honolulu to Denver $330
- Gas $311
- teamLab Planets Tokyo $23
- Otter Cafe visit $11.50
- Ojo Caliente Hot Springs $48
- Puye Cliff Dwellings entry and tour with tip $53
- Durango Hot Springs $39
- Arches National Park Entry Reservation $2
- Silver Falls State Park entry $5
- Smith Rock State Park entry $5
- U.S. Phone plan $35
- Spotify $10.50
- Toiletries $109
- Souvenirs $4
- Beach bag $9
- Gifts $65
- New phone $254
- Wireless headphones $33
- Books $49.50
- Bag strap $12
- Phone cover $43
- Hiking shoes $140
- Sandals $32.50
- Haircut $57.50
- Notebook $16.50
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van/RV Costs $12.50
- RV insurance for the month $12.50
What’s in Store for Next Month
I’ll be spending the first week of the month at the Gorge, prepping for and then working a show. Then after that I’ll be heading up to Canada for a week before the next show. I’m planning on hitting up all my favorites in Vancouver and doing some hiking.
Then it’s back to the Gorge to work Brandi Carlile and Joni Mitchell, one of our biggest shows of the year. Even though it’s going to be a stressful one, I’m super excited because my bestie, Kurt, is coming over from New Zealand and he’ll be there for the show.
Hopefully, we will be visiting lovely Leavenworth for a night or two after the show before I drop him at the bus station and I head back to work Beyond Wonderland.
Once the show is over, I am flying to Chicago, where I will be for the last few days of the month. I’ll be reuniting with Kurt and some other friends and we’re going to see Stevie Nicks in concert – I can’t wait!
To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here