Author Archive | Annelise Schoups

Romantic Sunset

Five Oddly Romantic Getaways in the U.S.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty far from a hopeless romantic. I’m more of what you might consider a closet romantic. As in, I don’t dream of over-the-top proposals but I can certainly still appreciate a strong showing of adoration. I just appreciate it a little more quietly than some (I won’t name names).

Chocolate Heart

Image courtesy of lenguavempace

So, as a closet romantic, Valentine’s Day doesn’t do much for me. I find it to be a bit too forced, a little too well-rehearsed, and I much prefer unexpected displays of affection or small surprises. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate in any shape, form, or pile and I mean no disrespect if you disagree, it’s just my love language. Though ultimately, like chocolate, I love love however anyone chooses to express it.

To better support that notion and the spirit of the holiday, I put together a little list of offbeat romantic getaways that may – if you’re anything like me – make your celebration a little more memorable. Because your love is unique, here are a few equally extraordinary ways to celebrate it!

Five Oddly Romantic Getaways in the U.S.

Treehouse Point, Washington
Just half an hour outside of Seattle, Treehouse Point is a cozy resort composed of six tree houses available for rent. The elevated cabins, the first of which was modeled using lines from the Parthenon, have been built into the old-growth forest famous in the Pacific Northwest. If your inner child still dreams of more mature tree houses, this is the place for you.

Hicksville, California
Don’t let the name fool you – this place is far from trashy. The Trailer Palace, as it’s affectionately called, lives in Joshua Tree, California, a desert oasis perfect for long, quiet, star-gazing sessions. Complete with more than 10 kitschy trailers, an archery range, a saltwater pool and mini-golf, Hicksville has the perfect combination of isolation and entertainment.

Joshua Tree National Park

Image Courtesy of Bootsnall

Tipi Village Retreat, Oregon
Maybe four walls are a few too many for you. In that case you may want to try your love-luck on a tipi at the Tipi Village Retreat near Eugene, Oregon. Set in a secluded woodland, the tipis come comfortably decorated with stone floors and wool blankets while breakfast options include an assortment of organic eggs, smoked salmon, or fresh fruit and granola. This place is a feast for the eyes and the tummy!

Glacier Under Canvas, Montana
You may have noticed a National Park theme. (It is the service’s 100-year anniversary, after all!) Glacier Under Canvas is exactly as magical as it sounds: you sleep just outside (seven miles) Glacier National Park in luxurious safari-style canvas tents. The great outdoor activities nearby are as endless (and some are offered through the resort) as the breath-taking scenes you’ll encounter on this getaway.

Glacier National Park

Image Courtesy of New World Encyclopedia

Dunton Hot Springs Hotel, Colorado
If you prefer your wood log-cabin stacked and ground-level, Dunton Hot Springs Hotel is yet another ideal destination. A restored ghost town, the hand-built cabins of the resort string together a luxury lifestyle and remote relaxation. You’ll find wifi among a waterfall (but no cell service) and a hot spring surrounded by snow. Bonus: all meals – and a chapel – are included in the price of your stay.

We hope you’ll enjoy these dreamy destinations as much as we do, and we wish you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day nonetheless!

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Rota Vicentina, Portugal

Hike Portugal on The Rota Vicentina

It goes without saying that the European continent has a lot to offer a traveler. Portugal, in particular, though one of the smaller countries, has a vast array of tourist attractions. Sometimes lovingly labeled as the California of Europe, the west coast similarities can be striking. Lisbon, for example, is built on hills and touts a big red bridge, much like the famous Golden Gate of San Francisco. Meanwhile the surrounding beaches, and the people who flock to them, are as colorful as they are beautiful.

Portuguese Coast along the Rota Vicentina

Portuguese Coast while hiking along the Rota Vicentina

Hike Portugal

Since one could argue that all cities are alike in some ways, touring rural locales, like by hiking the Rota Vicentina, is an ideal way to explore the country’s true beauty. A relatively new trail, the Rota Vicentina snakes its way along the southwestern coast of Portugal, where you’ll find preserved wildlife and a number of endemic species. It begins about two hours south of Lisbon, near Sines, and, depending on your level of persistence, continues almost all the way to the end of the world, or Cape Sagres as it’s also known.

Included within the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park, it is 350 kilometers, or approximately 217 miles, in total and there are two routes by which you can trek the two-year-old trail. One path, The Fishermen’s Trail, winds its way along the coast, while The Historical Way carves its own path inland. Should indecision strike, you can take comfort in knowing that the paths cross and merge on occasion. This way you can pick and choose as you go, much like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, but with more sand.

A farm on the Rota Vicentina in Portugal

A farm on the Rota Vicentina hike in Portugal

In addition to the natural wonders that sprout along the way, the beauty of this hike lies in its structure. Unlike other week-long treks, the Rota Vicentina trails are split between small villages sprinkled throughout the region. At most, you hike around 25 kilometers (15 miles) per day but even that isn’t entirely necessary. If you can stomach the weight of camping gear, there are also designated camping parks where you can rest your soles – and souls –  along the way.

The towns, which give you a quaint look into the mosaic of Portuguese life, also make the trek more appealing by breaking it up. Because you can find accommodation and nourishment at the mapped locations, you’re not forced to carry as much food, water, or gear as you would on other hikes of this length. The website has helpful recommendations for planners, though it can be pricey, and the trail itself is littered with friendly folks who are otherwise happy to lend a hand.

A town along the Rota Vicentina

Whichever way you decide to go, you will be widely rewarded with breathtaking views, ever-changing landscapes, and long-lasting memories. Ultimately, if you enjoy long, romantic walks on the beach, this trail was made for you. Only a handful of things could make the trip more enjoyable, if not easier.

Hints for Hiking portugal on the Rota Vicentina

A Backpack
In theory, you could go without one, but carts and covered wagons are a lot harder to get across the sand. The upside is that your backpack doesn’t have to be anything heavy duty, just something to get you through the day. Somewhere you can stash your sweatshirt after the morning chill burns off or store small essentials like chapstick and sunscreen.

Ideally you wouldn’t tackle any trek without one. Most trekkers recommend going in spring, but your rebellious spirit leads you here in the heat of summer, you’ll need to hydrate. To be safe, you want two to three liters per person on average, and it’s best to plan ahead since there aren’t any refill stations between the villages. Besides, ocean water can be salty.

Seriously. Gummies are great for hiking because they provide quick energy your body can burn, meaning the excess sugar won’t lead to a weight gain at the end of the day. After lunch, when your legs are heavy and you’re feeling sluggish, a few sweets will give your body the push it needs to get going again and power through. Chocolate is also a great option here, as long as you note that it gets messy when it melts.

Hike PortugalA Camera
Even if it’s only your phone, because it’s too beautiful not to show off. If or when you finally return home, pictures will help elevate your reputation as an awesome traveler. The combination of cliffs and sand, farms and lighthouses, land and sea will leave even you wondering if you’ve ever seen anything like it. Bring a camera if only to go back and check.

A Headlamp
A headlamp isn’t as necessary as it is complementary. On some of the longer days, it’s best to get started early. As in before dawn early. A headlamp frees your hands for climbing and catching yourself while still being able to spot the toads that serve as the soundtrack for your stroll. While I know that dark and early doesn’t appeal to everyone, a majestic beach sunrise in front of an island fortress definitely does.

Dawn on the Rota Vicentina

Sunrise on the fortress hiking along the Rota Vicentina

A Towel
You might think towels are bulky, but travel towels come quite compact and the beaches are as frequent as they are irresistible. Since some of them are nude, your towel can take up whatever space you saved for your swimsuit. Don’t worry about keeping your secret safe, the locals will get rowdy if anyone stops for a photo opp. So, go ahead, do as the Romans did.

A Knife
For lunch, après-lunch, and maybe even supper. Some of the best local hiking eats include meats and cheeses. Cured meat enthusiasts in particular will find themselves in chorizo heaven on this hike. With a new selection to choose from every day in town, you’ll always have something to open and your picnic will look indescribably more appealing if you bring a small knife to slice and dice.

“What’s that,” you ask? Oh, just your saving grace. Bodyglide is essentially a personal lubricant, but not the kind that may come to mind. It comes in the shape of a deodorant stick, and, when applied to the body, can reduce friction and chaffing in areas that tend to rub. Even if you sport a thigh gap, I highly recommend it for your feet, chest, or any place your pack may wear. It beats a blister any day.

Ahoy Hostel Porto Covo

Outside Ahoy Hostel in Porto Covo

A Book
Mostly for entertainment. While most hostels have wifi, some of the places you’ll stay will not be all that modern, especially if you camp. A book is always good company on the beach, and if you bring a writing utensil it doubles as a place to take notes. You can jot down the places you loved and the people you met, or write yourself a reminder to review Ahoy Hostel and thank Nick for all his help.

Vinho Verde
Okay, so maybe don’t bring the Vinho Verde in your backpack, but definitely get it at one of your stops. Although the literal translations would call it a green wine, it’s not a thing of Dr. Seuss stories. Instead it’s white, slightly effervescent, inexpensive, and it pairs well with your well-deserved dessert. Sort of like a sparkly Moscato that’s as sweet and refreshing as your adventure.

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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Alternate Black Friday Activities

Ahhh, Thanksgiving. It can be such a bittersweet time of year. Namely because it signals a number of things, including the start of the holidays and the end of the year, which are both exciting and, let’s face it, a little bit scary. The day before the holiday itself has long been dubbed the busiest travel day of the year. So before you ever get to cut into a slice of dark meat, you have to brave crowded airports and hour-long traffic delays – yikes!

Then, once the pie has been served, gears begin their not-so-subtle shift into Christmastime. Black Friday shoppers line up one after another, waiting for doors to open like kids on Christmas morning. Meanwhile, I personally do my best to avoid any semblance of shopping despite the overwhelming draw to every sale sign.

Here’s how you can skip the shopping this holiday:

Luckily, some companies are supporting my protest this year by offering alternate Black Friday activities and making it easier to travel somewhere slightly more fun than the local shopping mall. REI, for example, is encouraging its customers, like always, to Opt Outside. The retailer is giving their employees a paid day off and closing all brick and mortar locations so that everyone remotely related to REI can spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday with their families outdoors.

I, for one, love this idea. It brings back the connectedness to the holiday – plus, I could certainly stand a little outdoor activity following the self-induced food coma from Thursday. As if this initiative wasn’t exciting enough all on its own, several state park services have since joined in, offering free admission and waiving camp fees on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

State Parks throughout California, Minnesota, Missouri and Oregon have all opted in. Or out, depending on your perspective. Even if your home state hasn’t followed suit, don’t be discouraged! Day-use park fees are often only a handful of dollars, and the prices pale in comparison to the value of spending quality time with your favorite folks.

Whatever way you choose to spend it, we hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

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