Tag: weekend getaways

Top Ten Things to do in Boise, Idaho

Top Ten Things to do in Boise, Idaho

As a proud Boisean, I am pleased to share my list of top ten things to do in Boise, Idaho. One of the first things I do when researching a place I’m going to visit is to try and find some must sees for that 

Women’s packing list for five nights in Puerto Rico

Women’s packing list for five nights in Puerto Rico

Since I appreciate seeing what other fellow travelers pack when they go on their adventures, I figured I would share with you my women’s packing list for Puerto Rico. Continue reading to see what I put in my bag for our five-night stay in the 

Checking the Pendleton Round-Up off my bucket list

Checking the Pendleton Round-Up off my bucket list

The Pendleton Round-Up has been on my bucket list for years and I have finally checked it off! I am going to tell you all about it, but first, let’s talk for a minute about bucket lists. Now you may not be quite as obsessed with lists as I am, but still, a bucket list plays an important part in planning travel and adventures. To my way of thinking, there are three types of bucket lists:

  1. Big trips or adventures (typically international) that require planning, time off work and money.
  2. Medium-sized efforts or weekend getaways that require some planning, but not as much time and money.
  3. Small, local-ish items such as trying out a new restaurant or hike. These are often free!

R recently discussed some of the countries currently hanging out on our big bucket list. Since we only get to check one or two off a year, we like to use the medium and small items to supplement those big, bucket list items. I actually found one of my old bucket lists in a pile of work paper. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had visited a number of countries on that list. Not long ago, I discussed our huckleberry picking adventure. This is a perfect example of a small, bucket list item and in the past couple of months, we have checked several items off this list. It has been a fun summer.

Weekend getaways and microtrips

However, I feel like the medium-sized, weekend getaways/microtrips are the meat and potatoes of our adventures. There are just so many fun things to do and accomplish. Visiting all 50 states may have been a big, bucket list item for us, but accomplishing it required many weekend getaways. Now that we have visited all 50 states, we are busy working through completely new bucket lists. In fact, just last weekend, we headed to North Cascades National Park in an effort to help R check another National Park off her list. We have plenty of big trips in various stages of planning, but those require patience. So in the meantime, we keep busy planning and checking off smaller items.

This weekend, I managed to check two items off my bucket list that have been hanging out there for years. The first was the Pendleton Round-Up and the second was the Pendleton Woolen Mill. Given how close Pendleton is to Boise, I am actually a little embarrassed at how long it took me to accomplish this. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time but for whatever reason, I never made it a priority. I thought last year would be the year. We even got as far as booking a place to stay before I realized I would be traveling for work that weekend. Canceling last year made me determined to actually make it happen this year.

Pendleton Round-Up or Bust

R, C and I left Boise on Friday evening and drove to Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area—a campground about 15 minutes southeast of Pendleton. Lodging can be difficult to find in Pendleton during the Round-Up. Although we started making our plans early enough to get a motel room, we thought it would be more fun to stay at a cabin in Emigrant Springs. Turns out, it was.

Cabin Oregon Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area Pendleton Round-Up
Home sweet home for the weekend.

If you want to visit Pendleton during the Round-Up, make your lodging reservations as soon as possible. A local told us that during the Round-Up, the population of Pendleton goes from 15,000 to closer to 40,000. That is a lot of people vying for the same services. A coworker of mine also visited Pendleton this weekend but they did not start making their plans until a couple of months ago. Although they were able to get tickets to the Round-Up, there were no rooms available and they had to stay in Walla Walla, Washington, instead, which is about an hour drive north of Pendleton.

On Saturday morning, we made our way into Pendleton—first stopping at the Wildhorse Resort and Casino for some breakfast. Obviously, you can stay here (and gamble if you’d like), but they also have a shuttle if you would rather not deal with parking in Pendleton. However, Pendleton just isn’t that big. If you do not mind a little walking, parking will not be a problem. We parked near downtown and walked to the Round-Up without any issues.

Pendleton Woolen Mill: Check!

Before we got to the Round-Up however, we checked off the other item on the old bucket list: a tour of the Pendleton Woolen Mill. Normally, they only offer tours during the week—that has never worked for one of our weekend getaways. We were pleasantly surprised to learn they were offering tours on Saturday during the Round-Up. Naturally, after picking up a couple of blankets, we stayed to tour the mill and learn a bit about Pendleton’s history. I have to say, it was really cool and well worth the visit.

Pendleton Woolen Mill wool rugs
Beautiful Pendleton Woolen Mill rugs.

Unfortunately, by the time we finished up at the mill and made our way downtown, it had started to rain. Fortunately, we had checked the weather ahead of time and were prepared for it. Although the weather was not ideal, it did not stop us from enjoying everything the Pendleton Round-Up had to offer. Vendors abound! There is plenty to see and buy and eat.

One of the neatest things we saw was the Pow Wow dance competition. The clothing, drums, songs and dancing itself all added up to a unique and neat experience. In fact, there are several Native American aspects to the Pendleton Round-Up. I would definitely recommend walking through the tribal village and enjoying some Indian fry-bread. This will keep you busy and before too long, it will be time for the rodeo.

Pendleton Round-Up Tribal Village teepee tipi
The tribal village north of the arena.

Let ‘Er Buck

The Pendleton Round-Up itself is a little different. I have been to a lot of rodeos in my life (both of my parents competed in high school rodeo) but this had elements I have never seen before. It is an afternoon rodeo and it is big—around 17,000 people attended on Saturday. Probably the biggest difference is the grass. The middle of the very large arena is grass and it changes how the events play out—especially if it is raining. Barrel racing might be the most different. It is a much longer course and uses both the grass and dirt. The announcer told us that barrel racing at the Pendleton Round-Up is a bucket list item itself for many barrel racers since it is the only one of its kind.

Steer wrestling Pendleton Round-Up rodeo grass arena
Steer wrestling on the grass!

Other differences are small like the sequence of events (bull riding is not last) and the addition of some unique events like the Indian relay race and wild cow milking. All of this adds up to fun and exceptional rodeo experience. It also adds up to a longer-than-usual rodeo experience. A friend recommended the Happy Canon Indian Pageant and Wild West Show but honestly, by the time the rodeo wrapped up, we were beat.

Ending the night with some food

Instead, we headed to the Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub. Wait times were considerable thanks to the thousands of people visiting Pendleton but we felt it was worth the wait and very much enjoyed our dinner. Of course, if you would rather not wait, there are plenty of food vendors to choose from. Plus, downtown Pendleton plays host to multiple live bands and not even the rain could deter the hardiest fans. We were content to take our full bellies back to our cabin and dream about cowboys.

Overall, it was a fun way to spend the weekend and we are already talking about attending again next year. A great experience all thanks to a line item on my bucket list.


Make a bucket list. Make three if you want. The Pendleton Round-Up is just one of many items on my various bucket lists. Checking it off was a hoot. Not only am I looking forward to attending again, but I am looking forward to checking off new items as well.

Feel free to download and use the free printable bucket list. Fill it with adventures, near and far, and make sure to check them off: Bucket List

A weekend in the North Cascades

A weekend in the North Cascades

As has been mentioned a time or two, I’m a bit of a fan of National Parks. Likewise, B and I are big fans of getting away for short weekend trips. These two likes came together last weekend when we ventured northwest to the North 

A Taste of New Mexico

A Taste of New Mexico

I was lucky enough to experience a New Mexico weekend getaway and I highly recommend you plan one yourself. I feel New Mexico is a gem and one of our most underrated states. So I suggest you visit before the secret gets out. You do 

Exploring Your Own Backyard

Exploring Your Own Backyard

How often do you go out exploring your own backyard? This past weekend, we headed to the mountains. Our goal: huckleberries. I am happy to report that we were successful and came home with a nice little haul.

R had family visiting from another state. They opted to postpone their drive home in order to pick some huckleberries because it is not something they can do where they live. In fact, since huckleberries only grow in certain areas of the northwest, very few people actually get the opportunity to go pickin’. Even as a native Idahoan, it was not until last year that I finally got the chance myself (and we found very few berries). It was a fun way to go exploring my own backyard.

Huckleberry picking in Idaho, girl in woods, exploring your own backyard
R pickin’ for the first time.

That’s happening in my backyard?

I have a coworker who has moved to Idaho for a temporary assignment. He is from New Jersey and I have been very impressed with his efforts to explore and experience as much of Idaho as he can while he is here. He recently attended his first rodeo and made a comment about not having anything like that in New Jersey. I begged to differ. They definitely have rodeos in New Jersey—I saw the signs myself. But my coworker’s comment made me wonder how many of us fail to look around and see the adventures we have close at home. How often do you remember to go exploring your own backyard? We can go huckleberry picking in our backyard. What can you do?

Purple huckleberry on the bush, Idaho, exploring your own backyard
Berry goodness.

Research and insider tips go a long way to exploring your own backyard

Sometimes the events or places that are unique to your area are obvious and easy to explore. Sometimes they require a bit more work. Our huckleberry picking adventure fell into the latter category. My one experience last year left our novice group with a distinct lack of knowledge of where to go. I did plenty of research on the old internet, but I only came up with a few vague leads (most pickers like to keep their patches a secret). R decided to get her mom, a very resourceful lady, involved. This was an excellent move since she has a friend local to the area where huckleberries are known to grow. And luckily for us, she was willing to share her knowledge.

So with a hand-drawn map and a lot of enthusiasm, we headed out. After a first failed attempt, we regrouped and found a nice little patch a ways up the mountain. We spent the next hour or so picking to our heart’s content. We could have picked more, but we were all pretty hungry by that point and decided to call it a day. A successful day, in my opinion.

Huckleberry picking purple hands, exploring your own backyard, Idaho
Purple hands = successful berry picking.

The journey can be the reward

The original idea for the day was to pick huckleberries. And with a little help, we succeeded in making that idea a reality. But more importantly, we got outside and explored a little piece of this big, wonderful world we live in. If we had not found a single huckleberry, we still would have enjoyed a beautiful drive along the river and soaked up the sunshine on the mountainside. And we did not have to go far from home in order to do that. Exploring your own backyard is all about the journey, and you do not have to go far to do that.

Cascade Lake in Idaho on a summer day, exploring your own backyard
Not a bad view with or without the berries.

That IS in my backyard!

I sometimes find myself envious of people who get to travel all of the time. Just this week, I was browsing a friend’s Instagram account and had an almost visceral reaction as I looked at his photos and realized how many international adventures he has been on in the time since my last foreign trip. I had to remind myself that that is not my reality and probably never will be. I am lucky to be able to travel as much as I do. And this weekend’s huckleberry picking adventure reminded me that adventure and exploration are not limited to international travel. They can be found all around us if we take the time to search them out.

Purple bowl of purple huckleberries, exploring your own backyard, Idaho

A couple of weekends ago, R and I decided to head to Salt Lake at the last minute to attend a concert (Randy Rogers Band anyone?). We decided to stop along the way and visit some National Historic Sites. These were places R has wanted to visit for years now, but they were never really a priority and just never seemed to fit into the schedule. On this particular trip, we made it happen and our time spent at these sites was very much worth it. It was a great example of exploring your own backyard.

Just think about the cultural, historic, geological, etc. sites you have within your area. Are you taking advantage of them? They could make a great girls’ weekend getaway.

R and I have made a list of things we want to see and do right here in our home state. It is posted on our refrigerator and it feels great whenever we cross an item off. Often, we do not have to go far and most are free. We just have to do a little planning and a little research and we are on our way to exploring. We want to encourage you to do the same. Especially if you are in between big trips like we are.


Just because you may not have the time or resources to go on an epic trip whenever you please, there are still plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploring you own backyard. No matter where you live, there are special and unique offerings. You just have to do a little research. So get out and go explore!

Weekend camping in the Sawtooths

Weekend camping in the Sawtooths

Ahhhhh summer. While not my favorite season, summer weather does mean some pretty great things like rodeos, drive-ins and camping, to name a few. This post will discuss that last one, camping, since C and I recently camped out in just about my favorite place 

Yellowstone: America’s first national park

Yellowstone: America’s first national park

2016 is the National Park Service’s (NPS) one hundred year anniversary. And anyone who knows me knows I love me some National Parks. As Yellowstone was the first of America’s National Parks, it seemed apropos that we added it to the ol’ list of things 

Affordable ski trip to Whistler, Canada: see how much a weekend getaway costs

Affordable ski trip to Whistler, Canada: see how much a weekend getaway costs

Janes often get asked, “How can you afford to go on so many trips?” Well, the answer is simple: you don’t spend a boatload of money on every trip. If you can’t afford to go big every time (man, wouldn’t be great?), go little a few times. Over a three-day weekend in April, B and I had a lovely time checking out the Whistler area of beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Below is how much our affordable ski trip to Whistler cost us.

Brandywine Falls, Canada
B and me in front of Brandywine Falls

Flights for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

When looking for flights, it’s always a good idea to be creative. Looking for tickets that are round-trip, one-way, or two tickets to get you to one location (i.e. find a cheap ticket to a popular airport, look for a ticket there and then an additional ticket to your final destination) can save you money. For our Canadian adventure, we opted for two, one-way tickets.

We found a one-way ticket to Vancouver for $111.63. We took the first flight out of Idaho and even though it was painful to be at the airport at 5:30 a.m., it was really nice to arrive at our destination before 9:00 a.m. Plus, since we left on Saturday instead of Friday, we didn’t have pay for a hotel on Friday. Cha-ching! Our flight back was a bit longer. But it left later in the day, giving us more time on our trip. It cost $134.29. So round trip, our tickets were only $245.92.

Rental car for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

Our final destination, Whistler, is about a two-hour drive from the Vancouver airport. Since it was April in the Canadian Rockies, we decided not to risk driving in a snowstorm in a Ford Fiesta and splurged on a small SUV rental. Hotwire is our go-to for cheap car rentals and on this site we were able to secure a Dodge Journey for $92.47. We drove up to Whistler and back and only had to fill up the gas tank once for $38.09. You gotta love these new SUVs with their good gas mileage!

Lodging for affordable ski trip to Whistler

We had to do a little legwork to find a place to stay at Whistler. We both prefer Airbnb or VRBO because it is always interesting to see how people in different places live. However, since we were only staying two nights and neither of these sites had anything that really jumped out at us, we decided to stay at a hotel. Hotwire had some good options, but the list really got expensive when we figured in resort and parking fees. The other pitfall of a Hotwire hotel is you can’t guarantee what kind of bed situation you’ll find. Since both B and I would much prefer sleeping in our own twin than sharing a California King with each other, we turned to Expedia. Expedia allows you to choose your bed options so we each got our own queen.

Location was also a key factor in this decision because we knew we were going to be picking up ski rental gear and hitting the slopes the next day and didn’t really want to have to haul that stuff all over town.

We choose the Listel Hotel and very much enjoyed the room, sauna and continental breakfast. The total for the room for two days was $217. Free food is a no-brainer when it comes to saving money. When you figure each of us would probably pay ~$15 for breakfast, that adds up each day and makes it possible to stay in a nicer place.

Activities during an affordable ski trip to Whistler

When we found out that the Whistler-Blackcomb resort would be open until the end of May, we decided to pony up for an experience of skiing internationally. Liftopia is a good app for finding ski lift ticket deals. But in this case, we knew we needed to rent gear as well so we went straight to the resort’s website. For a one-day lift ticket and rental gear the cost was $113.18 Canadian dollars.

Oh yes, now is a good time to mention that the impetus for a Canadian adventure was the wicked exchange rate we have had with our northern neighbors for the last few months. The exchange rate basically meant everything was about 30% off. So our ski adventure really ended up costing around $87. (Air high five, ‘merica!) Skiing was our only real expenditure as far as activities go. The park system in Canada is awesome (meaning beautiful and free). We hiked three very different, yet all striking, waterfalls along our drive up to Whistler. In Idaho, each of the state park stops would have cost about $5 to use. We fully appreciated Canada’s socialist tendencies.

Ski lift and fog at Whistler-Blackcomb
Skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb

Food for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

Food was comparable to what you would pay in the U.S. after the exchange rate. For a meal of soup and salad at a trendy brewery in Squamish, we paid $20 Canadian, including the tip. Whenever we go to foreign countries, we always make a point to shop at the local grocery store. I could really list this in the ‘activities’ section above because it is pretty entertaining to see the different offerings. In Whistler, we hit up the grocery store for our snacks and desserts, thus saving money by not buying these things at restaurants.

Cash and other incidentals

The easiest way to get foreign currency is to find a bank and withdraw cash using your ATM. B and I have been to loads of countries and I have never once carried traveler’s checks or brought U.S. dollars to exchange with money changers. The prevalence of ATMs makes this the easiest way to get cash with a very good exchange rate. You do have to pay a transaction fee so it is best to estimate what you will spend and then only withdraw once. But it usually isn’t that big of a deal if you hit up another ATM along your journey.

Confession: I pretty much always have to visit the ATMs several times during my trips. In Canada, I made the rookie traveler mistake of forgetting to call my bank to let them know I’d be using my card in a foreign country. But luckily for me, my bank must not consider Canada to be that foreign and it worked just fine. On this trip, I ended up pulling out $140 Canadian once and $60 Canadian another time, totaling a little over $150 U.S.

The Olympic rings from 2010 we saw as part of our affordable ski trip to Whistler
The Olympic rings from 2010

The grand total for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

When everything was added up and divided between the two of us, we ended up spending about $660 each (excluding the adorable leather phone case B picked up at the Roots store and other extracurricular shopping.) When you figure you might spend about $100 in a weekend for food and fun at home anyway, it really doesn’t seem like that much more money to be able to pop out of the country for a long ski weekend.

Shannon Falls in BC
Shannon Falls


If you save up for a month or two, you can accumulate enough money to go on a quick vacation. You don’t have to go foreign. There are some great places in the good ol’ U.S. of A. that would make an excellent three-day weekend.

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