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If you are planning to visit Alaska, for sure you know about Denali National park. This park is the home for the highest mountain in North America, Mount Mckinley (Denali in a native language), and probably for that reason it is the most popular park in Alaska. It is true that the fauna in the park is amazing, and also the views, but the trails are not the best. However I want to talk about another park: The Denali Estate park. The name is almost the same and that might be confusing. Also they are very close, but they are two different parks, and it is good to know the different between them.

Well, after our first night sleeping in the RV, our first top was in Denali State Park. This park is on Hwy 3 North. We didn’t know about it before arriving here, but this park is on the road to Denali National Park. Now, we know that it is perfect for starting the trip, and get into to the Alaska experience.The first place that I recommend is at mile 135 (Denali View point South), it is a very good place to see the Alaska Range and on a clear day, there are a good views of the Mount McKinley. This was our first stop and it was amazing. You can sleep there for $10 (there is a restroom and fireplace). We only stopped to take some pictures. The weather was warm, and the sky clear and it was a good place to take a rest after driving.

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We continued on our way until a campground at mile 137, where a lot of interesting trails began. We hiked the Tarn Point Trail, that trail becomes difficult near where Kesugi Ridge ascends, but the difference is that you can go to the top, and see 360 degree views. The whole trail is amazing, from the beginning there are a very good sights. I need to confess that we didn’t get to the top we were almost there, but we didn’t completely the 360 views. I still feel disappointed with myself, because it was my fault, but well, now I cannot change the past, and there is an explanation for that.

That day, we woke up very early, at 5:30am. Maybe because of the excitement, or probably because of the jet lag we were ready very early in the morning. We had breakfast and we decided to do that trail before going to Denali National Park (DNP). Walking this trail was an improvised thing. Our plan was to drive until the entrance of the DNP, but as we woke up very early we thought that we could use the day to take a hike. Also we had read in the guide book about that trail, and we decided to do it. It looked perfect for us, and it was. This trail is perfect for a one day hike. Why didn’t we finish if it was so perfect? Well, we didn’t made a good estimate.

As I said we were ready to start walking at 7am, the guide says the trail is 4.2-miles, so we thought that we would get back to the RV at lunch time. First, we didn’t carry food, only some granola bars and two bananas. It was a very bad idea. Second, we misunderstand the guide information. It is true the trail is 4.2, but one way, and you need to consider the incline. So, it took us more than our expectation. Also we didn’t find the correct trail  until 1hour later. So, at 1pm we had not catch the top, we were almost there, maybe 10 more minutes, but because I was pretty tired, hungry and worried we decided to come down. In my self-defense, I need to say that the views were amazing, and we thought that the difference with the top it would not be very big.

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We would have felt completely satisfied about that hike, but the problem was that when we were coming down, we crossed with a group of people. A woman asked us: Did you see the lake? What?? a lake? Adria and I we looked at each other, and answered with a sad face: No, we didn’t get up to the top.

It was a devastating moment. We knew that we hadn’t finished the trail, but we lived happy in our idea that the views were the same, and now we knew the reality: we had missed the best part.

I felt so bad, the whole day was amazing but we didn’t finish, it was gloomy… Always we will have the bug to finish that trail, but it was a hard lesson.

At the end of the day we promised each other that we will finish every single trail. There could always be a lake at the end…

Packing the baggage is always complex because you need to consider different aspects: the kind of activities that you will do, how many days, and of course the weather. If this is not enough you need to consider your limited baggage’s space.

Our plan was to spend 22 days in Alaska, and to hike every day or at least every two days. So, even knowing that we would need to go to the laundry, 22 days are many days, and we carried 10 changes of clothes. Mainly because we didn’t want to waste too much time on “laundry day”.

Another issue was the weather. In summer, especially in June, Alaska can be very unpredictable. It is the rainy season and each day is a surprise, each day can be different and we need to be ready for any situation: sun, cold, hot and rain.

In addition, we started our vacation from Barcelona, that is not our current home. Some of our things are still there, but most of them are pictures, books, or things that you don’t use regularly. All our clothes are in San Francisco, so packing was a kind of challenge. We were planning to stay in Barcelona for two weeks (warm weather), but later we were planning to fly to Anchorage (cold and rainy). I thought a lot about that, and finally I prioritized my needs in Alaska. The big consequence of this was that my dressing style during my visit in Barcelona was like… How can I say? mmm, unusual. People and family around me didn’t waste the opportunity to say that San Francisco has changed me. I am not sure if it was always a compliment but, really, I don’t care, my problem was to organize my baggage and my image could be sacrificed.

Well, packing was pretty complex, but we did it! We flew to Anchorage with two big backpacks, and two small ones, in my opinion this was a great success.

Finally, after two amazing weeks in Barcelona, the 5th of June we landed in Anchorage, after 26 hours, 3 planes, delays, and many flight attendants… You can figure out how the trip was , I won’t explain the details, only that it was tiring, tiring, and tiring.

We arrived at 11:30 at night, so we had our first surprise: it was daylight! Yes, we knew that in summer there is the midnight sun, but even though it was a huge surprise, and the best way to forget the long trip. We finished the day by taking a very long shower and going to bed very excited for the next day!

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 That “night” we could relax, and we were ready to start our Alaskan  Adventure. The next day, we couldn’t pick up the RV until noon, so  we went for a little walk around Anchorage. We bought some things  that we needed for the trip, like batteries for the head lamps, and  after that we realized: we are in Alaska, midnight sun!! Dummies!!  That was the first useful purchase… Well, you know that when you  are very excited usually your mind is quite dense.

 Finally we were able to pick up the RV. It was the first time that we  rented an RV, and we needed some information about how to use it.  The generator, the propane, the grey and black water… I need to  confess that at that moment I was pretty nervous, and I didn’t pay  attention. I only wanted to start the car and run away! After my  experience, I recommend that you not do like me, and pay  attention. It could avoid some weird, or scatological situation, you  don’t want to know…

So, yes, we had our RV, a new friend that would be with us during the whole trip. The RV would be the most valuable thing, it would be our vehicle, our bed, our refuge, in conclusion it would be our home for the next 20 days. We liked immediately, and we felt that we needed to personalize it. For that reason we started to call her Juanita. She looks like these kind of old women that appear younger that really they are. She had some hits, and dents, but she was in very good shape. Each scratch was like a wrinkle on her face, which shows her experiences and the passing of time. In comparison with others she looked small, but enough for the two of us. She was perfect. And finally we were ready to start. Last check to prove that we have all the stuff, engine on, and let’s go! Next stop… next post :)

Chena Hot Spreings

Chena Hot Spreings

Kennecott Mine

Kennecott Mine

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

Seward

Seward

 

Valdez

Valdez

Home, again. I am at home. It is not bad, don’t misinterpret me, I like my home, but after 22 days traveling around Alaska, and previously in Barcelona, it is kind of boring to come back to civilization. After 22 days living in an RV it is strange walking on the street with a lot of people, having more than 5 minutes to take a shower and unlimited water, or wearing flip flops instead of waterproof boots. And, come on!, it is very sophisticated to eat something that was not inside a can.

During the trip it was difficult to find a moment to stop for writing a post. Actually it is not true, it wasn’t difficult, I had time, but I didn’t want to.

First, because it is not easy to find a place with electricity, and that is completely amazing! Most of the time I was in the middle of nowhere, Into the wild (Have you seen the movie?), and obviously that natural scenery offers you a lot of things, but Wi-Fi is not one of them.

And second, I was living one of the biggest adventures that I have ever lived as a traveler. For that reason, I decided not to be worried about posting my experience every day, or during the trip.

I thought that it would be better to come back to the traditional way and write all my thoughts and ideas in a notebook. Writing on paper is always more personal and intimate, don’t you think?

Now with my pages of notes I can explain my trip  very accurately , and I want to share my experience, and tips, and different perspectives about Alaska. But sorry, I won’t reveal all the secrets or thoughts that I have had during the experience. I want to reserve some feelings for myself. It is true that I believe that if you share an experience it is always better, but sometimes it’s good to save some ideas, and keep them unspoken and abstract. It is not necessary to put them in the correct order, in a way that another person needs to read and understand.

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Whatever, I continue to be obsessed with improving my English, and explaining a trip is a perfect way to practice and also it’s the way that I enjoy  the most. So, I will do it. Be prepare to read a lot from Alaska, that will be intensive ;)

As I said before, that trip has been something special. It is true that traveling is always interesting and enriching. Also it’s an opportunity to put aside my routine and go to discover places and live new adventures. You know what I think about traveling…

But this trip was something more than usual. It has been kind of “transition trip”. In May, Adria finished and defended his thesis, finally, and well, after 5 years working on that, it his is quite a change, also in our lives, of course!

Later in May, we started our third year in San Francisco too, and well, there were some questions popping up in our minds. “Do we want to spend more time here? Should we go back to Barcelona? To Europe? What kind of work options do we have? Where do we want to live? Where can we live?…” We need time and perspective to think about all of this.

Alaska has been the perfect place to talk about these existential questions. Besides hiking, driving, or seeing spectacular scenes, we have spent a lot of time talking and thinking without distractions. The only input was the magnificent nature. And that context offered us the opportunity to stop and take a breath and the chance to plan our future. Obviously we didn’t answer any of these questions, at least we had the perfect time to reflect about our past and present and figure out our future.

In any case, that experience was amazing, and a great opportunity to connect with nature, between us and with ourselves. And I want to share it with you, enough to hook you up so that you want to go too!

Do you remember the movie The Land Before Time? That movie where Littlefoot, a cute apatosaurus, and his friends Cera, Ducky, Spike, and Petrie, si, si siiii! are looking for the Great Valley because his mother was killed by a terrible Tyrannosaurus Rex, totally dramatic.. This movie is one of several examples of how the translation is usually awful. “En busca del Valle encantado” is completely different, even though it does make sense and probably for this reason I am starting this post talking about that movie.

If you remember the movie, besides having cried a lot you must remember the scene where LittleFoot and his friends finally arrive at the Great Valley, don’t you?

As I remember the group of friends arriving, after surviving difficult challenges, they cross mountains and after a few dark moments, in the end of the tunnel The Valley appears!

Well, for me, arriving at Yosemite was kind of the same. Some weeks ago I went to the Yosemite Valley, and I felt the same feeling as Littlefoot. I had arrived at the Great valley!

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Months before we made the reservation and after a long time waiting, nervous, the hard job of organizing 12 persons, and finally after hours inside a car we arrive at The Valley. Like Littlefoot,  my friends and I endured a lot of challenges… well, it is not completely true, the suffering wasn’t the same, but obviously, I cannot compare, I am not a dinosaur.

Since I arrived in California I have discovered the nature around the state. The natural parks in the area are what have me impressed and surprised more.

I think it is pretty common that foreigners believe that California is a place to enjoy the beach, to surf, and to skate. Living here I have learned that this is only a small part of the reality; actually, I think it is only real in the south; in San Francisco it is almost impossible to be burned by sun.

California has rich mountains to explore, and probably Yosemite is the most impressive one. As I said before, arriving in the Valley was something incredible. It was like those moments when your mouth starts to emit weird sounds: oooh, OMG, uouooooh, uuuuaaaalaaaah!

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We went in May, that I think is a great season, because the falls are full of water and the weather is perfect, not too much cold, not too much hot, just perfect.

Our campground was outside the valley, only at 30 minutes driving. You need to know that it is very difficult to find a spot in Yosemite; you need to make the reservation a long time before, or to be patient and check if there are some cancellation. However, the valley is usually full, and even though I am not a expert, I think sleeping outside the valley is not a drama. Actually our camp was pretty cool. In my opinion, our site was perfect, it was quieter and you don’t feel like a sardine can.

We arrived on Friday at noon, we ate, and we went for a small walk around the falls. Our big hiking plan was on Saturday, but I will explain that at another moment.

Now I would like to highlight that Yosemite is a spectacular place to go, whatever are your conditions, age, or physical shape; Yosemite offers several opportunities for everyone.

If you are not a hiker, don’t worry, you will find different things to do, and for sure you will enjoy the fantastic views. Who has not thought sometime of finding the Great Valley?

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Portland

Something funny is that if you are talking with a Spanish person and you say “Portland”, for sure he/she will say: Cemento Portland! Everybody knows that Portland is a city, but it is more common to relate the name with a cement company.  I was checking in Wikipedia and apparently “Portland cement” is the most common type, and probably for that reason the Navarra company chose that name. But sorry, If you are looking for information about cement, sorry this is not your place.

Nor is this post a post to talk about the tv show Portlandia, that now everyone is talking about, and a lot of people around me are watching.

So, why did I decide to write about Portland? Well it is simple, this is a travel blog, come on! My intention is to speak about the city of Portland , Oregon, where I went one month ago.

Picture 683 Starting I need to say that Portland was a great surprise. Since I have lived in  San Francisco I have heard about Portland; a lot of people say that it is a very  good city, but even so I didn’t think that I would enjoy it at that level. I liked it a  lot!

 I need to say that our visit was very short. It was only from Friday to Sunday,  but even though it was a short trip, it was a very good weekend. I feel that I want  to spend more time there, and that feeling is always a good thing. If you want to  repeat the experience it means that it was a good one, right? Really, if you want  to take a break in your routine, and you are looking for a quiet but stimulating  place, Portland is your city. I highly recommend that weekend break.

 When I am planning a trip I usually check on the Internet, first I search on the  main website and later I prefer to read blogs and to find information from “real  people”, directly. Recently I have started to use another way to find good tips  and information about the place that I am planning to visit. For example, this  time, when I was looking for information and what to do in Portland I checked Foursquare and Yelp (free advertisement…) That is a new habit before my trips, but I need to say that is very useful and very convenient for this kind of short break, and also fun. With those tools you can find the best restaurant and the most emblematic places.

So, after that search, I made a list with the most important things to do, and the list is not very long, because Portland is not a big city, but I think it is good to have a reference and ideas about what to do.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time explaining each place, because you will find more and better information looking on the Internet, but I want to tell you some places that I liked a lot, and highlight some details.

- Multnomah Falls: The best that you can do is rent a car (zipcar if you have it) and go to these falls located just a 30 minute drive outside of Portland. They are fantastic! if you enjoy hiking, don’t lose the opportunity to do some trail.

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- Saturday Market (and Skidmore Fountin): For sure the most popular place.   You can find whatever you think, starting from hippies bracelet until soap or    chocolate-popcorn.

- Museum of Contemporary Craft: Contemporary art always is weird if you are an  amateur, but is perfect for a rainy day…then is good always!

- Arcade: That place is amazing, my tip: Have change and be ready to comeback to adolescence. If you come before 6pm you won’t drink, but after that time open bar.

- Old town: walk, walk, walk…

- Voodoo Doughnut: The line was to long for us, I we didn’t try these famous doughnut, but I think I need to talk about, because clearly it is one of the most emblematic places in the city. You will see a lot of people carrying a big box from  here.

Traveling

Do you like traveling? Most people would answer: Sure!! , right? Who could say no???
When someone asks me if I enjoy traveling, I say yes, but I am thinking about a specific kind of travel. Usually people need to travel for work, or you can go two or three days to visit another city near your home, or for example, now that I live in San Francisco I have needed to fly to visit my relatives and friends. Obviously those thing are travel; in my case, visiting my family takes me a looooong trip, but this is not the kind of travel that I want to talk about.
Traveling is at least a special trip. Sometimes it is not necessary to go to a foreign country, but for me a good trip is one that changes you a little bit. Successful travel is when you come back home and your thoughts and judgments are different.
In my opinion to travel is a very important and deep experience. It is not something that you only want to do for vacations. No, it is something more. Traveling is a way to understand life. For me travel is something that I do out of necessity.
We would say that almost all necessities are created. Friends, family, the education system, the media and now social media, all of them build and create a necessity inside us, and finally we consider that there are things that are totally important and essential. We need these things to continue with our regular lives. For me travel is like an addiction, I am pretty sure that I need it…

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I think the person who is responsible is my mother. She is guilty of giving me the idea that travel is indispensable in life. Since very early in my childhood she has carried me around the world. Going to different countries she has taught me values like tolerance, solidarity, or respect. With those journeys she has offered me the possibility to know and learn from other cultures. I feel very happy and lucky to have had these experiences. I am who I am because of these trips. they have enriched me as a person.
For this reason, I think travel is more than something that you do for fun. it is something more important. Traveling is the chance to take
a break, and also take a breath. Traveling offers me a moment to observe and think about my routine and how different it is between that new scenario. It is a possibility to go away and have a new perspective.
I think that one special trip could change me a lot, and I love that. I enjoy those kinds of emotions I always want to experience this kind of feeling. In my regular life I need that. To escape and go to another reality where I feel strange and different. Having the opportunity to stop, and watch.

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