Cheers to National Lager Day

Friends toasting with beer glasses in the brewery.

Did you know the third most widely consumed beverage in the world is beer? With water and tea being number one and two, respectively, beer comes in at number three most likely due to the fact that cultures around the world have their own version of their favorite brew. December 10 is National Lager Day so why not raise a glass of lager and toast this popular drink? If you’re planning to continue to celebrate National Lager Day well past the December date, consider these popular lagers when you’re on the road to your next outdoor adventure.

BTW – what makes a lager different from other beers, you ask? Becoming a lager is all about the bottom-fermenting technique and using younger hops, a main ingredient in beer. Also, lager yeast can withstand lower temperatures, unlike ale yeasts, and that is where it gets its name. Lager comes from the German word “lagern” which means to store and lager is in cold storage while it ages. Some examples of lagers include Corona, Budweiser, and Miller Lite. We came up with a round of lagers from some of the smaller U.S. brewers conveniently located near our great Petite Retreat accommodations.

New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI.

New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wisconsin: Check out the Two Women lager at this Wisconsin brewery in the Swiss-style village of New Glarus. This lager is aptly named because it is the result of a collaboration between two craft breweries both run by women. Book a cozy cabin or a cottage at Yukon Trails and visit New Glarus to sample Two Women as well as the other brews made here, including the pretty popular Spotted Cow. Forget about the beer that “made Milwaukee famous” – New Glarus and Yukon Trails is where it’s at!

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR.

Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Oregon: The perfect tasting trip could combine a tiny home accommodation at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village and a visit to Deschutes Brewery in nearby Bend. Deschutes has been craft brewing since 1988 and has two really great lagers in their repertoire of beer – Pacific Wonderland and Rip City Lager, whose interesting name has ties to the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team. Want to be even closer to the brewery? Try staying in a yurt or snug cabin at Bend-Sunriver.

D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, PA.

D.G. Yuengling & Son, Pottsville, Pennsylvania: Reputed to be America’s Oldest Brewery, Yuengling (pronounced ying-ling) offers a traditional amber lager that comes in in a “light” version as well for those watching their waists! Plan a stay at Appalachian RV Campground in a cozy cabin or cottage and head to Pottsville to explore Yuengling’s brewing facilities, which features hand dug caves for fermenting. It’s just about a 25-minute drive through the lovely Pennsylvania Dutch countryside from the campground.

Doghaus Brewery, Leavenworth, Washington: Proving you don’t have to be big to be good, Doghaus Brewery bills itself as a nano-craft brewery with a micro-sized taproom, but nevertheless offers the German Pointer Lager (get the dog reference?). Based on an original blue-ribbon recipe, this one is described as a helles lager, helles being German for “pale in color.” That’s it for this small brewery when it comes to lagers, but they also offer IPAs, stouts, and ales. This is a good place to visit because the Leavenworth Tiny House Village is just 30 minutes away and who wouldn’t want to enjoy some beer in this beautiful spot in the Pacific Northwest?

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA.

If you are looking for a craft brewery near your favorite Petite Retreat, visit www.craftbeer.com for a listing of breweries across the country. Cheers!

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5 things to do in… Mt. Hood, Oregon

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

What do you look for when you want to get away? A quick dive into what factors are considered when selecting a vacation destination include 1) lodging preference; 2) travel purpose; 3) crowds or solitude; 4) the weather; and 5) the side trips. If we apply these to our destination of choice this month – Oregon’s Mt. Hood Area, here’s what shakes out:

  1. Lodging Preference: This is an easy one. What could be more enjoyable than a stay in a tiny home? The Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, Oregon, has seven tiny homes to choose from for your stay and each offers a little something different. Did you know tiny homes have personalities? That’s right, Anderson has a modern flair, enjoys a most-excellent cup of brewed coffee, and finds biking to be his raison d’etre. Savannah thinks being called “girly” is the ultimate compliment and her bright yellow exterior is an extension of her sunny personality. The tiny house gang at Mt. Hood has five more friends with five equally different personalities but one thing they have in common is that they are the right answer to “lodging preference.” Visit MtHoodTinyHouse.com to check them out and see which one suits your preference!
  1. Travel Purpose: Well, how can there be a right answer here unless you’re traveling alone? Someone likes to hike, someone likes to do nothing, someone likes to shop and someone likes to learn something new on vacation. Don’t worry, with a trip to the Mt. Hood Area, this box is checked for all involved. Hikers will be happy to know the area has more than 150 hiking trails. From local artisan crafts to antiques and boutiques to the very unique chain saw carvings, the area is a shopper’s delight with variety being the spice of Oregon life here. If you’re looking to learn something, the educational opportunities abound. Learn a new sport – attend a snowboard camp or learn to fly fish. Learn about the history of the area – visit the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum. As for the vacationer who wants to do nothing – that’s OK, too. Just sitting and soaking up the scenery here is a pretty cool thing to do, too!  
View of Mt Hood from downtown Portland, Oregon.
  1. Crowds vs. Solitude: Now more than ever this is a top of the list item with social-distancing being all the rage. Actually, pre-COVID-19, this meant do you like crowds or prefer to spend time alone with your thoughts. Do you want to be “scene,” or do you want to left alone to enjoy more solitary pursuits? So think about it – “no people” activities can include hiking, fly fishing, or skiing while the more social traveler will enjoy the many craft breweries, the annual festivals like the Salmon, Mushroom, and Bigfoot Festival (held in October but sadly cancelled this year) or the Timberline Mountain Music Festival held in late summer annually.
Fall hikes in Mt. Hood National Forest, OR
  1. The Weather: Being a four-season vacation destination, weather conditions factor into a trip to Mt. Hood, well…never really. There is always something to do here. The area has one of the longest ski seasons around. The winter ski season at historic Timberline Lodge begins in early November and runs through Memorial Day. Springtime is great for waterfall hikes and salmon fishing season begins in May. Summer brings amazing wildflowers, festivals, and mountain biking opportunities and the tail end of salmon fishing season (it typically winds down in September). Plus, there’s huckleberry season which straddles late summer and early fall and brings with it the annual Huckleberry Festival (late August). Fall hikes and drives are the best among the changing colors – drive the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway or tackle the Mirror Lake Trail on a day hike.
The vineyards of Willamette Valley, about 90 minutes from Mt Hood, OR.
  1. Side Trips: This is important because it allows travelers to feel like they are getting more bang for their travel dollars! Consider that the Mt. Hood Area is just an hour from Portland. This means you can have all the pleasure of the fantastic outdoors that the Mt. Hood Area affords you, but also have the opportunity to be a city tourist in no time at all. If you’ve always wanted a wine country vacation, you can do that, too. The nearby Willamette Valley is considered Oregon’s Wine Country and there are options for both guided and self-guided tours of the wineries.

Fall Foliage Hikes

North Falls at Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, Oregon.

This fall, make it your goal to be an active leaf peeper. Yes, you heard that right. Leaf peeper – which by definition is someone who visits wooded areas in autumn to check out the changing colors of the foliage. Most everyone is a leaf peeper in some form or another. Maybe you don’t check websites for peak color dates or plan an annual trip around the changing colors but you most likely revel in the beautiful color show put on by Mother Nature and her children of the leafy kind come fall.

Now, we’re asking you to be an active leaf peeper, but we don’t mean just checking out the leaves. We think tossing in a hike – mild, moderate, strenuous, whatever a good hike means to you – while taking in this free, socially-distanced show is a great idea. These hikes are both good for your body and for your psyche.  We did some research and found some of the most popular fall foliage hikes around.

Silver Falls State Park (Silverton, Oregon): A moderate hike at almost 9 miles is well worth the effort as Silver Falls State Park offers hikers the opportunity to see waterfalls in addition to the gorgeous fall foliage. Ten waterfalls in fact, thus the name of the trail, Trail of Ten Falls, can be seen on this great fall hike.

(Plan a stay at one of the cozy cabins at nearby Pacific City while hiking Silver Falls.)

Washington Park Arboretum (Seattle, Washington): The Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle is possibly one of the best color shows contained in one location that you may find. In fact, according to the Arboretum’s website, fall in the Arboretum’s Woodland Garden section may possibly offer the most stunning display of fall colors in the region thanks to having one of the largest collection of Japanese maples in North America. All this beauty can be experienced on nearly one mile of winding stone pathways. How’s that for one-stop peeping? 

Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, Washington.

(A great idea is to book a tiny home at Leavenworth Tiny House Village and drive into Seattle. This is a two-fer since fall in Leavenworth is another spectacular show.)

Franconia Ridge Trail (Lincoln, New Hampshire): Waterfalls, a running stream, fantastic views, and plenty of fall foliage can be found on this New Hampshire trail. At just about eight miles and definitely a “hike,” the scenic rewards are plentiful. It’s no wonder this loop was named one of the 10 best hiking trails by National Geographic in 2017.

Tiny House Murphy at Tuxbury Tiny House Village

(Book a tiny home at nearby Tuxbury Tiny House Village for the perfect complement to your fall getaway.)

Potawatomi State Park (Door County, Wisconsin): Driving into Potawatomi State Park in the fall is almost a color show in itself. The contrast between the deep black of the roadway and the yellows and golds of the branches overhead is pretty cool, but wait there’s more! The trails are a carpet of beautifully colored fallen leaves and the views are some of fall’s best. Check out the portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that runs through the Park.

Tranquil Timbers in nearby Sturgeon Bay has the perfect cabin accommodations for your visit to Door County’s color-fall wonderland.

Ocean Path Trail, Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor, Maine): This trail, which stretches along the rugged Maine coastline, is postcard perfect in fall. With the rocky shores of the Atlantic on one side and the Acadia’s beautiful foliage on the other, it’s the perfect mix. Check out the fall leaves at Thunder Hole. Ocean Path is approximately 4.5 miles round trip.

Hiking in Acadia National Park

(Book a cozy cabin at Mt. Desert Narrows or choose from a cozy cottage or colorful cabin at Narrows Too for your fall foliage experience.)

The Thrill of It

Hiking trail at Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona.

Are you a thrill-seeker? Are you always challenging yourself to try something new? Do you love the adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment after you’ve done something your friends or family say you were crazy to try?

Well you’re not crazy – and, according to some studies, you’re possibly managing life better than your more sedate friends. Tackling your fear of these thrilling sports can provide you with coping mechanisms that you can use in other parts of your life. Another benefit is the boost to your self-confidence. You did it! Hooray for you! Who doesn’t feel good about themselves after accomplishing these feats?

Cabins at Yosemite Lakes RV Campground in Groveland, CA

If you’re ready to get your thrill on, consider these sports:

  1. Whitewater Rafting: Book a stay at one of the cool yurts at Yosemite Lakes RV Campground in Groveland and ride the whitewaters of the Tuolumne River, which is considered one of the best rivers for such an adventure. Plenty of outfitters are waiting to help you tackle the Class III rapids of the Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, Washington. Visit www.leavenworth.org to find the one that fits your idea of thrills. Plan to stay with us at Leavenworth Tiny House Village in your own tiny house where you can relax after a thrilling day on the water!
Yurt at Yosemite Lakes RV Campground in Groveland, CA
  • Rock Climbing: If you’re heading to Maine, check out rock climbing at Maine’s Acadia National Park which offers all kinds of climbing options through the Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School. Solo efforts can range from four to seven-hour jaunts, plus there are family climbs and evening climbs. Make a reservation at our nearby locations, Narrows Too (cabin and cottage options) or Mt. Desert Narrows (cabin accommodations) to be where the climbing action is. 
Cabins at Narrows Too in Trenton, ME
  • Zip-lining: Want to soar across the treetops of the amazing Adirondack forest? Book a comfy cabin at Lake George Escape and then find the zip-line adventure for you. There are plenty here including Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course or the Adirondack Adventure Center. Crazy views of Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula as you fly over towering pine trees are what’s in store when you zip-line in this Wisconsin wonderland. Book a cabin at Tranquil Timbers and plan your adventure. Check out Door County Adventure Center or Lakeshore Adventures for their zip-lining courses.
Inside a yurt at Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, WI
  • Snorkeling: No better place to dive deep than the Florida Keys. Reserve a colorful cottage at Fiesta Key or a super cool tiny home at Sunshine Key and explore the underwater kingdom of The Keys. The warm shallow waters off the Dry Tortugas are said to be best for snorkelers of all ages while John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the US, is great for viewing the various coral species, plus turtles, parrot fish and butterfly fish.
Colorful cottages at Fiesta Key in Long Key, FL
  • Ultimate Hiking: While hiking is a great activity for both body and spirit, the thrill on these hikes is the view. These are ultimate when it comes to the unparalleled beauty of nature (not to mention majorly Instagram-worthy photo ops).

Fay Canyon, Arizona: An easy 2.4-mile trail in the scenic Fay Canyon of Sedona’s Red Rock State Park. Rent a tiny home at Verde Valley and hike the park everyday for a different point of view.

Joshua Tree National Park, California: All levels of hiking trails are available here and most come with views of the Park’s namesake, the Joshua Tree. Find Heart Rock within the Park and you’re guaranteed an insta-shot you will love! A cottage accommodation at Palm Springs is the perfect companion to this hiking trek.

Atticus the Tiny House at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

Mirror Lake Loop Trail, Oregon: The Mt. Hood area of Oregon is full of opportunities for great hikes and great pics. One of the most popular, and amazing, is the view of Mt. Hood from the Mirror Lake Trail, a 3.7-mile loop. A tiny house at the Mt. Hood Tiny House Village is perfect for the after-trail relax.

Family Reunion, Tiny Style

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

July is National Family Reunion month. Our tiny home villages offer the perfect opportunity to get the extended family together and still maintain safe distances this summer. Or, start planning now for Family Reunion 2021 and do a little recon on your own this summer to find the perfect location in advance. Each of our tiny homes are full of amenities and bursting with charm. The locations can’t be beat either – plenty of outdoor fun like hiking, biking, and fishing and nearby attractions round out the experience.

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village (Welches, OR): There are seven tiny homes to book here so the family can gather and enjoy the beauty of the Mt. Hood area. Each home has its own unique personality and the homes vary in size in terms of the number of people each can accommodate, but combined, the seven tiny houses at Mt. Hood Village can accommodate 31 people. Layouts are different but each home has a kitchen and full bath!

Things to do in the area include day hikes on the nearly 1000 miles of trails, visiting the historic Timberline Lodge, kayaking and whitewater rafting, and fishing. Don’t miss a trek to Multnomah Falls to view this spectacular 600+-foot tall roaring waterfall.

Leavenworth Tiny House Village (Leavenworth, WA): There are five tiny homes to book here and this is a great spot for a family reunion of 15 people or less. Like the Mt. Hood tiny homes, each home varies in size, but all have a kitchen and full bath.

The town of Leavenworth is a beautiful Bavarian-styled village with quaint shops and eateries, and the unique Nutcracker Museum. The area is also great for outdoor lovers and offers the options of picnics and paddle boats at Lake Wenatchee State Park, hiking the easy 4-mile loop of Icicle Gorge or the more difficult 4-mile round trip of Icicle Ridge, and trying your luck at fly-fishing for which the area has plenty of creeks, rivers, and lakes.

Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, NH

Tuxbury Tiny House Village (South Hampton, NH): This is the perfect spot for a family reunion of 20 on the East Coast. Less than an hour to Boston and just thirty minutes from the Salisbury-Hampton beaches on the shores of the Atlantic, this tiny house village, with its five tiny homes, is a prime spot for all kinds of fun.

In Boston, take a history lesson while walking the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail around the city or drop your kayak in the Charles River and paddle around to view Beantown from the water. Get some friendly family competition going with challenges at the horseshoe pits or volleyball court back at Tuxbury or head to the nearby beaches and see how creative each team can get with sandcastle building!

Sunshine Key Tiny House Village in Big Pine Key, FL

Sunshine Key Tiny House Village (Big Pine Key, FL): Five great homes, all unique in layout and personality, come together to provide family reunion accommodations for a group of 20. That’s 20 of your nearest and dearest gathered in in the beautiful Florida Keys to enjoy a family reunion with a taste of the tropics.

Family fun can include deep-sea fishing charters, exploring nearby Bahia State Park or a drive down the Overseas Highway with visits to the other Keys, including Key West and all its Hemingway lore. A great thing about a stay at Sunshine Key is that they have partnered with Key Boat Tours, which has a location onsite and guests can rent bicycles, kayaks, and paddle boards, as well as schedule fishing charters and snorkeling tours. Let our tiny homes welcome you and your family to create the perfect combination for a memorable gathering!

June is Great Outdoors Month

Cabins at Yosemite Lakes Campground in Groveland, CA

In 1998, President Bill Clinton declared that seven days in the month of June should be set aside to “celebrate our relationship with nature.” That concept resonated so soundly with Americans that successive administrations morphed those seven days into a whole month of celebrating and communing with nature.

June is upon us again and we probably all feel the need to get outside and commune! So, whether you hike, bike, fish, boat or just plain sit in it, get outside, breath the air, and become one with nature.

June in the great outdoors can include:

Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, OR

Hiking: Hiking doesn’t really require much equipment or any particular level of skill – just some strong legs and lungs, and you’ve got it. Trails abound around the country and we’ve found a few you places you might like to hike. Yosemite National Park has 800 miles of trails to choose from and the scenery is unparalleled! Enjoy the alpine hikes of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s 11,240-foot volcano – two popular hikes are the Tamanawas Falls Trail and the Old Salmon River Trail. Then, relax after a long day on the trails in one of our yurt accommodations at Yosemite Lakes Campground (CA) or Mt. Hood Village (OR).

Cottages in Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert, CA

Biking: Take a seat and use pedal power to enjoy the great outdoors on a bike ride. Some great rides could include the 13-mile city-wide tour of Palm Springs, California, which gives you an idea what the town is all about. Or, pedal around Maine’s Acadia National Park on the 45 miles of carriage roads or the 27-mile Park Loop Road. Add to the fun of your great outdoors experience with a stay in a cute cottage at Narrows Too (ME) or Palm Springs RV Resort (CA).

Cabins at Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, WI

Fishing: Reel in the big one during Great Outdoors Month.  Try your luck with some deep-sea fishing in the Florida Keys or see what’s biting in the waters of Wisconsin’s Door County. Our cozy cabins at Tranquil Timbers (WI) or a colorful cottage or tiny house in the Keys can serve as your “fishing lodge” while you write your big fish story!

Fishing at Pacific City in Cloverdale, OR

Taking in the View: Sometimes it’s enough to just be outdoors to enjoy the view, the fresh air, and the magic of nature. Take in the sunsets from Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf; feel the effects of the healing vortexes in Sedona’s Red Rock State Park; enjoy the charm of Leavenworth, Washington, a quaint-as-can-be Bavarian-styled village or marvel at Haystack Rock, nature’s sea stack creation that rises 235 from the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach, Oregon. You can also enjoy the view from our cozy cabins in Santa Barbara (Rancho Oso) or Oregon (Pacific City), or from our adorable tiny homes in Leavenworth, Washington, or Sedona’s Verde Valley Resort.

Leavenworth Tiny House Village in Leavenworth, WA

Camping: Of course, there is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a good camping trip. Writer Alice Walker said, “In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” Find your perfection and stay with us in one of our Petite Retreats. If you want mountains, we’ve got you covered with locations near Seattle, Maine’s Acadia National Park, beautiful Mt. Hood, and the Adirondacks. If you want seashore, we’ve got you covered with locations in Santa Barbara, the Oregon coast, New Hampshire, and Florida. And if your “perfect” is just gathering friends and family in the great outdoors, we’ve definitely got you covered there!

Five Things to Do In… Bend, Oregon

Yurts at Bend-Sunriver in Bend, Oregon.

According to an article in The Oregonian, Bend ranked 4th in the US as a vacation rental hotspot, based on a 2019 survey. The top three spots went to Florida locations. So, what makes Bend, a small city in Central Oregon, rank fourth on a list headed by some real hot spots? We’ve come up with just five reasons, but there are plenty more to be there now when it comes to Bend.

  1. Spelunking and Caving: First off, spelunking is just a fancy word for exploring caves, of which the area has plenty. There are said to be 400 lava tubes in the area and Wanderlust Tours (wanderlusttours.com) offers a great way to see the ones that are accessible. You can also choose to explore on your own – check out Hidden Forest Cave, Boyd Cave, or Redmond Caves, which has five different lava tubes to explore.
  2. Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint: For more lava fun, head to Pilot Butte, which is actually the lava dome of an extinct volcano, rising 500 feet above the surrounding plains. A nice little trail provides access to the dome, which offers an amazing panoramic view of the snow-capped Cascades.
  3. Tumalo Falls: From June to October, the 90+-foot waterfall is the star of the show in Deschutes National Forest. Hike a seven mile loop trail and you’ll find the viewing platform, which provides the perfect spot for great photo ops. (Do it for the ‘gram.) Further up the trail, Middle Tumalo Falls, a two-tiered cascade is pretty spectacular, as well.
  4. Floating on the Deschutes River: The Deschutes River can easily be considered the biggest playground in Bend from May to September. On any given day, you’ll find kayakers, tubers, paddlers and floaters enjoying the scenery along the river. Floating is just one way to explore and enjoy the Deschutes. Check out visitbend.com to see how you can all float on!

    Floating on the Deschutes River.
  5. Bend Ale Trail: Is the Pacific Northwest really the birthplace of craft breweries? Maybe, maybe not, but one way to find out the history and enjoy the results of the craft beer craze is the Bend Ale Trail. There are several ways to explore the trail including by bike, trolley and tour bus. Choose one, drink responsibly, and say cheers to the innovation of Bend’s craft brewers. You’ll soon discover why Bend has been referred to as “Beer Town USA” and “Beervana.”

    Enjoy Craft Beer in “Beer Town USA.”

While exploring the natural beauty of Bend and eating or drinking your way through their exciting culinary and craft brewery scene, relax a bit in one of our yurts or cabins at Bend-Sunriver. It’ll make your visit even more photoworthy!

Cabins at Bend-Sunriver in Bend, Oregon.

The Year of the Yurt

Interior yurt photo from Tranquil Timbers in WI.

If yurt camping has been on your travel bucket list for a while, why not make 2020 the Year of the Yurt? Luckily, Petite Retreats has more than enough yurt locations so you can choose a different spot to yurt every month of the year!

If you’re not familiar with yurts, there are a few things to keep in mind. Our yurts typically feature either two double futons and one set of bunk beds or one double futon and two sets of bunk beds. Some also have a functional kitchenette with a stovetop and microwave (no oven), upright refrigerator with small freezer, and a dining table. Kitchen amenities include an electric coffeepot, a toaster, pots and pans, as well as dishes, glasses, and utensils. Oh, and also a private restroom with shower! They also feature satellite television, a propane fireplace and gas barbeque on the outdoor deck. If you’re looking to rough it a bit more, we do also feature a few yurts that are much more rustic, without a restroom or kitchen, at Snowflower, Mt. Hood, Long Beach, Paradise, Tall Chief, Grandy Creek, and Tranquil Timbers.

Circle M
Yurt so good! Check out these cozy yurts at Circle M in PA.

California yurt options include Lake of the Springs, in Oregon House; Snowflower in Emigrant Gap and Yosemite Lakes in Groveland. Lake of the Springs is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains and nearby attractions include the New Leaf Llama Farm, home to 30 friendly llamas. Snowflower puts you near Tahoe National Forest and all its activities, including hiking, fishing, swimming, climbing and bicycling. Yosemite Lakes is of course the perfect spot to stay when exploring Yosemite National Park as the entrance to the Park is just five miles down the road. The campground itself offers fishing, swimming and panning for gold thanks to the Tuolumne River that runs right through Yosemite Lakes.

Heading north from California to Oregon, there are four yurt opportunities – two along the Oregon coast, one in beautiful Bend and one in Mt. Hood Territory in Welches.  South Jetty (Florence) and Pacific City (Cloverdale) provide great locations for coastal excursions that could include Florence’s Heceta Head Lighthouse with its beautiful coastal views or wine tours of Cloverdale’s many vineyards. Bend-Sunriver is great year-round and Bend is always full of activity, indoors and out.  Bend’s Oregon Winter Fest is set for February 16, 2020, and summer brings the Bend Summer Festival, set for July. Mt. Hood in Welches is a great place to stay when catching the area’s most famous festivals, including the Mount Hood Huckleberry Festival in August and the Mount Hood Salmon and Mushroom Festival in September. Worth noting, the yurts at Mt. Hood are rustic and don’t have a restroom or a kitchen. That said, they’re conveniently located near a bathhouse. Both Bend and Welches offers skiing and sledding fun in winter and plenty of hiking, biking and fishing come summer.

Photo by @three_amigos_x from the yurts at Yosemite Lakes in CA.

On to Washington State, where five locations offers yurt accommodations.  Starting in southern Washington, there is Long Beach, located on the scenic peninsula with its boardwalk and beaches, and the world Kite Museum (because kite flying is excellent here), which features our more rustic yurt offering. Paradise is in Silver Creek and is surrounded by the mountains, including Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. The campground has two stocked fishing lakes, too! The yurts at Paradise are rustic, and located near a restroom facility. Tall Chief is just outside Seattle and is the perfect spot to explore Seattle’s offerings, including the towering Space Needle, the lively, and historic, Pike Place Market and the offbeat Museum of Pop Culture. (The yurts at Tall Chief are also rustic.) Mt. Vernon and Grandy Creek, both located in northern Washington, complete the yurt options in Washington and each offer different opportunities. Mt. Vernon, located in Washington’s picturesque Skagit Valley, is a wooded wonderland with activities like hiking and fishing topping the list. The San Juan Islands are just a ferry ride away. Grandy Creek is in Concrete, in Mt. Baker territory, making the North Cascades National Park your playground. Plus, Baker Lake is great for fishing and swimming.

Tranquil Timbers is located on the beautiful Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin in Sturgeon Bay, which was voted one of the Top 10 Happiest Seaside Towns in the U.S. by Coastal Living magazine. Summer is the best time to enjoy yurt camping here as well as the world-famous bass fishing for which the bay is known. The charming towns dotting Door County are another plus to summer in Wisconsin.

Make 2020 the year of the yurt at Yosemite Lakes in CA.
Make 2020 the year of the yurt at Yosemite Lakes in CA.

Finally, the rolling hills of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County are home to Circle M and their yurt accommodations. Lancaster County offers plenty of Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality from authentic Amish dining experiences and buggy rides to interesting museums (check out the York Barbell Weightlifting Museum and Hall of Fame or the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania). All kinds of family fun, including loads of chocolate, are available at nearby Hershey Park.

Can You Dig It? A short guide to fossil hunting sites in the US

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.

October 16 is National Fossil Day, which was established to promote the scientific and educational value of fossils. According to the National Geographic Society, a fossil is the preserved remains, or traces of remains, of ancient animals or plants. They are important in helping us discover the evolution of life and how life was lived thousands and thousands of years ago. Most fossils are formed when a plant or animal dies in a watery location and becomes buried in silt or mud. Celebrate National Fossil Day this year and see what treasures you can unearth. We’ve listed a few well-known fossil hunting sites here.

Capitola Beach, in Capitola, California, is a great spot to hunt for fossils during low tide. This little beach town can offer the motherlode of fossils thanks to the Purisima Formation, a geologic formation which preserves fossils from the Late Miocene and Early Pleistocene Era. Bones of whales and seals, as well as sea urchins and bivalves, and been unearthed here along with the rare shark tooth.

The fossilized bones of a mastodon, a camel, and a mammoth have turned up in Florida’s Peace River which has also revealed plenty of shark teeth, some as large as seven inches. Collecting shark teeth does not require a permit but if you’re digging for anything bigger, you need both a boat and a permit. There are plenty of guided tours available or you can go it alone, wading into the river from any of the public landings – but be aware of all the living flora and fauna!

Chesapeake Bay
Cozy cabins from Chesapeake Bay, about an hour from Westmoreland State Park.

Beverly Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon, is a beautiful beach with rock formations dating back millions of years that are filled with fossils. Winter is the best time for fossil hunting here thanks to the storms that dislodge several layers of sandstone unearthing new (old!) fossils. Petrified wood, dating back some 15-20 million years, and agate stones can also be found here.

Mineral Wells Fossil Park, in Mineral Wells, Texas, has an abundance of “Pennsylvanian Period” fossils, which date back some 318 million years! Thanks in part due to the erosion of the city’s borrow pit (which is a spot where material has been dug out for use at another location), fossils of ancient sea species have been found here which have included primitive sharks, brachiopods (marine animals in hard shells), crinoids (sea lilies), and pelecypods (clams and oysters).

Westmoreland State Park in Montross, Virginia, is a well-known location for fossil hunting and has been known to turn up shark teeth, whale teeth, and fish bones and vertebrae dating to the Miocene Age. There is a portion of the park known as Fossil Beach and it’s a great place to find shark teeth, including those of the megalodon. Situated between two towering bluffs, the beach is a short walk from the Visitors Center, and here you can sift through the sand using a colander or sand sifter (no major equipment allowed).

Pacific City • IG: @ofwildestheart
Yurt interior photo from Pacific City near Beverly Beach State Park. IG: @ofwildestheart

Cider Sippin’ Spots

Cider Sippin’ Spots

When they say everything old is new again, they may very well be talking about cider. Did you know cider was America’s beverage of choice during Colonial times? In fact, the Mayflower possibly carried the first cider press to be used in America aboard the ship that also brought the Pilgrims to our shores. Of course, they couldn’t do anything with it until the apples were harvested from the first apple trees planted here after they first landed. Fast forward some 500 years, and cider is again very popular. To clarify, that’s hard cider versus soft cider. The difference here being that hard cider has an alcohol content while soft cider can be enjoyed by all ages! And, while Americans may not be drinking the 35 gallons of hard cider they apparently averaged annually during Colonial days, they are certainly taking it up once again, as evidenced by the popularity of cideries sprouting up across the country. To produce cider, according to ciderscene.com, there are four steps. Pick, press, punish, and produce. Again, a differentiation is required. The apples used for cider are typically not the same apples that you would eat or cook with. Cider apples tend to be dryer and less sweet. The four-step result is a crisp, refreshing alternative to other spirits, including beer and wine. Here are some cideries to check out this fall season:

Bishop Cider (Dallas, Texas):  Gluten-free and vegan friendly, the people behind Bishop Cider began making their own cider at home because they felt the commercially available cider in Texas was “trash” because it was too sweet. Started in 2014, Bishop Cider Co. now offers a variety of ciders and has a tasting room that typically offers six different ciders on tap. For more information, and to check out the unique Cidercade, visit www.bishopcider.com.

Bay Landing • Bridgeport, TX
Bay Landing • Bridgeport, TX

(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Bay Landing in Bridgeport, about 80 miles away)

Cider Bite (Portland, Oregon): Another cidery that grew from the idea that there was just no place to get good cider, the Cider Bite bills itself as a Cider House and focuses not only on making exceptional cider, but also on the history and production of cider. In fact, founder Jeff Hanneson’s great-grandfather was a cider-maker. Offering 32 ciders on tap, cider flights, and nibbles, the Cider Bite is the place to get your cider cravings satisfied. Visit www.ciderbite.com for more information.

Mt Hood • Welches, OR
Mt Hood • Welches, OR

 (Nearest Petite Retreat option is Mt. Hood in Welches, about 36 miles away)

Santa Barbara Cider Company (Santa Barbara, California): Come visit and see what’s on tap for the day as they offer 12 rotating taps of their delicious cider varieties which may include a coffee-based cider, a tea-infused cider, or one of several fruit ciders. All ciders are gluten-free and the cider makers say the majority of the ingredients they use can be found in your own kitchen cabinets, like cinnamon and brown sugar. They do have a tasting room and food trucks and other food providers are on hand during the weekends for nourishment while enjoying the cider offerings. For more information, visit www.sbcider.com.

Rancho Oso • Santa Barbara, CA
Rancho Oso • Santa Barbara, CA

 (Nearest Petite Retreat option is Rancho Oso, about 30 miles away)

Island Orchard Cider (Ellison Bay, Wisconsin): Visit the Tasting Room and Cider Pub in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin, where you can see the cider making process as well as enjoy the flavors of Island Orchard. Visit www.islandorchardcider.com for more information.

(Nearest Petite Retreat option is Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, about 36 miles away)