Category Archives: Travel

Visiting Clear Lake

A few weeks ago, I visited Clear Lake for the first time. We stayed at an awesome house in Lucerne, Lake County. The sunset views were definitely the highlight of the trip for me. The views all day and night were amazing though.

Although the first weekend of November wasn’t the best time to be at the lake, there was still plenty to keep us busy. Past summer and well into fall, no one was renting boats at the lake so we couldn’t go kayaking or canoeing as hoped. Most other people we saw were locals or retired couples who come up in the off-season. We did have several free wine tasting coupons though so after eating deli sandwiches next to the lake, we headed to the nearest winery. Definitely enjoyed the tastings at Ceago Winery but the views were the best part. It’s beautifully landscaped garden went right up to a pier where we walked out to enjoy the views of the lake. There were plenty of fish swimming beneath us, as they regularly stock the lake for fishing. The Brassfield Estate Winery, though not right on the water, had impressive views and a beautiful building. Almost like an old castle, tasting at Brassfield was great. We even bought a bottle to enjoy outside on their picnic benches.

After wine tasting we made it back in time to grill on the balcony and watch the sunset. Though less eventful than most trips to the lake, it was a beautiful place and I’m glad I got to see it.

5 of the Best Things About Portland

There are many things to love about Portland. I recently started getting excited about my upcoming visit to Portland. Besides Law and Order marathons by the fire with my mom, Portland itself is so exciting! I can’t even describe the way Portland feels but it’s beautiful and fun and unique. Here’s just 5 of my favorite parts of visiting Portland.

Food Trucks

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d already heard of the Portland food carts. Any given day there are tons of food cart options. Like most things PDX, it goes beyond the simple hot dog stand – there are vegan carts, dessert-only carts, grilled cheese carts, interesting cuisine fusion carts, and more. There are lots of places where there are more than a dozen open all day. The hard part is choosing just one!

For cart lists, updates, news, apps, and more check out Food Carts Portland.

Food trucks in Portland

Green, Green, Trees

More than 10,000 acres of parks and natural areas are spread throughout the green city of Portland. There are even urban forests with vegetation and streams in the city too. With the wet weather, it’s not surprise that nature is thriving. I don’t just love trees for their beauty but also their importance. Benefits of trees are ten times the cost of maintenance for trees. Think about all the long term environmental benefits too! Win, win, win.

portland camping river

Beer

Beer is one of my favorite things and that makes trips to Portland especially fun. Every time I’m in Portland I eat out, especially because of the food (see above food truck section). When I eat and drink out I make sure to always order a PDX beer, preferably one I haven’t had before – a Rainier is always good though! It’s also fun to go to the store with a large selection and take some home for a night in with the family. Always be on the look out for new beer spots to try! Even beer festivals and events. You’ll be amazed at the number of microbreweries in the area so don’t miss out. (Check out PortlandBeer.org org.)

Watch out for those weird liquor laws though! Stop selling early? Grocery stores don’t carry liquor? Weird. I always forget too.

Deschutes brewery sampler

My favorites beer spots so far…

  • Deschutes – I’ve been to the brewery in Bend for a tour, the pub/restaurant in Bend, and the pub/restaurant in Portland. The Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House is by far the coolest. I’ve heard it gets crowded but when I went it felt open, big doors and good lighting, cool decor, and an awesome beer sampler. Don’t get me wrong though, if you’re in Bend, the Deschutes locations there are worth a stop. I am a fan of several of their beers, there’s something perfect for every mood – Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Inversion IPA, a good solid winter seasonal beer, and even a white IPA (try it!). Deschutes is from Oregon but luckily the Black Butte and Mirror Pond are somewhat common in bars in California too.
  • Rogue – Rogue isn’t exclusive to Portland either but there are some wonderful and unique things about Rogue in Portland. For example, last time I was in Portland in October, I visited my sister where she goes to school in the middle of nowhere. The best part about the middle of nowhere – the Rogue Farms Micro Hopyard in Independence on the Willamette River. Tasting room with some food too, even a veggie burger. Farm animals roam the land where hops and other crops grow. There is even a small bed and breakfast called the Hop n Bed. Beautiful area! I actually haven’t made it to the Rogue bar/restaurant in Portland though – I haven’t even been to the one in SF! I hear they’re both cool though. Rogue is definitely easier to find on tap in Portland but Dead Guy Ale is common here in the Bay Area too. Tons of cool beers to try, even a VooDoo bacon donuts beer in pink bottle! All of the beers have characters though, like Mom Hef or the Mocha Porter.
  • Street Art

    The first time I appreciated the street art of Portland I was walking down Alberta street with nothing but camera and it was all I needed. It’s no secret that Portland is filled with artists so the awesome street art and murals shouldn’t come as a surprise either. I am always delighted by the vibrant colors and inspiring paintings.
    DSCN0243

    Bikes and Bike Friendliness

    I love to ride by bike. There are many reasons for it, which I think are obvious (health, money, environment, fresh air, happiness). For all of the same reasons I also believe that a more bike-friendly community leads to wonderful things. Though I have not actually biked in Portland, I hope to do so when I move there one day. I just know I would love living in such a bike-friendly, green city. Check out Bike Portland too!

    But that’s not all…

    With so many things to love, I had to split it up into a few posts, stay tuned for more wonderful PDX things! What would you put on the list?

Time flies!

Wow, has it really been a whole month since my last post?! Whoops! I have been working hard at Go Overseas on some big projects and also working on moving this site over to my own domain. I decided to switch from WordPress to Drupal to get some new site building experience. Stay tuned for the new site soon!

In the meantime, it’s been ONE YEAR since I was in Oaxaca, Mexico. Check out some of my posts from last year 🙂

https://katieeelaine.wordpress.com/tag/oaxaca/

The International Ecotourism Society

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) published one of my Go Overseas articles onto their blog! Check it out: Volunteering Abroad for Women’s Rights.

You should also look into their upcoming conference in Monterey, CA in September. Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2012 #ESTC2012 http://www.ecotourismconference.org/

Guest post for Tripping – Destination Guide: Oaxaca, Mexico

Destination Tips: Oaxaca, Mexico (originally published on Tripping)

Katie volunteered in Oaxaca, Mexico in fall 2011 after studying public relations at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA and is now working as the Volunteer Director at Go Overseas. Go Overseas is the Yelp/Trip Advisor for programs abroad including listings of every volunteer, study, teach & intern abroad program in the world, with ratings/reviews and more. Follow Katie on Twitter: @VolunteeReviews and read about volunteer abroad opportunities on Go Overseas.

Oaxaca, Mexico is unlike any other place I’ve traveled to – the combination of old and new, indigenous and European cultures, family life and the bustling city, all of which go together well and make Oaxaca the amazing destination that it is. (Don’t let the name confuse you: Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico. Oaxaca city, the capital of Oaxaca state, is located in the Valley of Oaxaca.) Oaxaca is the fifth largest state in Mexico, and number one in biodiversity. I spent an amazing 2 months volunteering in Oaxaca and here is a list of things not to be missed while in Oaxaca!

santo domingo church, oaxaca

Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca

Monte Albán – Monte Albán, the most important Zapotec ruins, is one destination every visitor must see. These archeological ruins are one of the oldest pre-Columbian cities, which housed more than 30,000 Zapotec people around 500 BC. Located atop mountains just outside of the city of Oaxaca, Monte Albán had great religious and political importance in its time, with temples, tunnels, a grand plaza, and a ball court to explore. You can discover the views of the Valley of Oaxaca on top of a temple from this historical and cultural site, visit the museum and gift shop, and picnic in the beautiful gardens. Just 15 minutes outside of town, tourists can easily get a ride and a tour at Monte Albán.

Visit the Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán

Visit the Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán

 Mitla – The ruins of Mitla are just a 25 mile taxi ride outside of the city of Oaxaca. Although Mitla is much smaller than Monte Albán, it comes in second as the most important Zapotec archeological site – not to mention that more of the ruins and detailed mosaic designs are still intact. Mitla is even listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Katie at the Mitla ruins

Katie at the Mitla ruins

Markets – As with many other areas of Latin America, the markets of Oaxaca are a huge attraction. Throughout Oaxaca, you will find traditional markets where locals do most of their shopping. These are great places to buy souvenirs to take home. Bartering is common but keep in mind that a few extra pesos may not matter as much to you as it does to those who make a living at the markets.

Hierve el Agua – Hierve el Agua, which translates to “the water boils,” is a natural wonder like no other. Just an hour or two outside of Oaxaca City, Hierve el Agua is made up of natural rock formations that resemble huge waterfalls. These “petrified waterfalls” have formed from a small amount of water over thousands of years. The region is also the site of an ancient Zapotec underground irrigation system. Above ground, there are a number of large pools (natural and artificial) where visitors can swim, relax, enjoy the views of the green mountains and valleys, and hike for the day.

View of the pools at Hierve el Agua

View of the pools at Hierve el Agua

Food and Drinks – Oaxaca is sure to please any palate. When it comes to food and drinks, my advice is to try everything – even chapulines (grasshoppers). It may sound strange but fried grasshoppers are a traditional delicacy. It’s said once you try chapulines, part of Oaxaca is with you and you are sure to return again. Other must-haves of Oaxaca’s cuisine include: cheese, tlayudas, mezcal and hot chocolate.

Volunteering – While in Oaxaca, why not find a way to immerse yourself in local culture while giving back at the same time? There are infinite opportunities to volunteer in Oaxaca – from orphanage work to health care campaigns to agriculture, find something that suits you.

Hijos de la Luna orphanage – Oaxaca, Mexico

Hijos de la Luna orphanage – Oaxaca, Mexico

But wait…there’s more! Art shows, plays, movies, festivals, churches – You will never run out of things to do in Oaxaca. The downtown center, called the Zócalo, always has something to do – from people-watching to browsing street vendors to eating and drinking. The capital city itself, along with Monte Albán, is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. There are many national parks, beaches, and festivals to keep you busy. For a list of current cultural events like movies, festivals, art shows, and more, check El Jolgorio Cultural and Oaxaca Calendar.

Oaxaca is a perfect place for anyone who is interested in traveling to a lesser-known Mexican destination full of life, culture, history, and more!

All photos by Katie Boyer

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Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur

backpacking in big sur, june 2012

backpacking!

campsite at the big sur river, sykes hot springs

campsite at the big sur river, sykes hot springs

campfire, big sur, sykes hot springs

campfire!

Sykes hot springs, Big Sur

Hot springs

Go Overseas First Annual Summer Party

I got to put my party planning skills to the test last week for Go Overseas First Annual Summer Party. I’ve planned several events in my career (from Red Cross fundraisers to art shows and concerts) but this was definitely the biggest (people and budget-wise). I hope to plan more fun events in the future!

From the Go Overseas blog:
Last week Go Overseas threw its most ambitious (and successful) summer party to date! Last Thursday, more than 150 travel industry professionals met at the beautiful Go Overseas offices in downtown Berkeley. We got to spend some time getting to know university study abroad professionals from around the country, Global Internship Conference attendees, travel-tech companies like Tripping, Jetpac and Couchsurfing, Bay Area travel writers, program providers, and more. Thank you to everyone who came and helped make it happen – special thanks to co-hosts CRCC Asia and Berkeley Skydeck. It was a very special night and we hope to continue to bring people together to encourage cultural exchange and overseas travel all year!

cal jazz band

Cal Berkeley Jazz band really brought the whole night together

go overseas sunglasses party

Go Overseas Party Sunglasses

party go overseas

Travel Industry Professionals Networking

me at go overseas party map

There I am!

More photos can be found on Go Overseas Facebook page!

Cool blog: Cabin Porn

Awesome blog I found the other day! I want to go live in a cabin in the words.

http://freecabinporn.com/

Can anyone else recommend new blogs you’ve been into lately? Check out my links/blogroll section for more cool sites!

Lessons from Abroad Conference at SFSU 3/31/12

I went to a conference for work this weekend and ran the Go Overseas booth with my coworker Nadia. We didn’t have very high expectations as the conference was pretty small and last-minute but we still had a good time and met some great people. I just got my business cards too so it was great to be able to give them out.

The conference was for study abroad alumni who want to go abroad again and/or work in the study abroad industry. It was great networking practice. The best part was definitely talking to students during their hour lunch break. Hearing about where other people have studied abroad and why is always interesting! I’m definitely going to start going to more networking events and conferences so I can get better at it!

The International Ecotourism Society Interview

Go Overseas: Global Community of Volunteer Reviewers and Passionate Travelers

Our newest blog partner, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), interviewed the Go Overseas Volunteer Abroad Director, yours truly, about ecotourism, volunteering abroad, Go Overseas, and more.

TIES is a great, well-established organization in the ecotourism world and I’m excited to be working with them. Check it out!