1.2 Miles of the Pacific Crest Trail- Part 1

It was probably a minute or less before I noted the sign: Pacific Crest Trail! Right here!

You guys, it screamed out at me.

My heart skipped a beat. I’d first heard about this trail when my dad and I took a day trip around Mount Lassen and Lake Almanor. We’d stopped in Belden to grab a snack from a small shop right alongside the road. Guess where the trailhead for the PCT was? Yeah. Like, right there across the street. I walked up to it. I remember the sign designated the PCT was situated underneath the trees. On top of it, someone had balanced a few rocks, one on top of another in one of those cool rock formations.

My dad told me that there were people who literally hiked it from Mexico to Canada. I marveled over the idea. How could someone be able to do something like that? And why? Wouldn’t that take a while?

Well, yeah, several months, but people do it.

So. Freaking. Cool.

Continue reading “1.2 Miles of the Pacific Crest Trail- Part 1”

Ye Old Railway Tunnel in Norden

Ah, Lake Tahoe! Quite possibly one of my favorite places in California. I used to go up there every so often as a kid. Happy memories. When my family and I stayed there, we’d camp out at a cabin in King’s Beach. It belonged to a relative. Just four rooms with a steep roof and large backyard, it was the perfect getaway for a few days. Close to the beach, too.

This time, I’d be staying with a relative right smack in the desert: a beauty in its own right. But before arriving there, I’d planned to a few things along the way. I mean, if I’m driving three or more hours (traffic dependent) from wine country to Reno, I may as well make a day of it.


Since it was a Sunday, I went to the early morning service for church and left almost immediately after that. After I stopped to get an iced tea, of course. And then: ROAD TRIP! Ah, the joys of flipping through radio stations you don’t often hear to see which one you like best.

Continue reading “Ye Old Railway Tunnel in Norden”

Lachryma Montis: General Vallejo’s Estate- SSHP, Part 3

According to the park ranger at the Mission San Francisco Solano (which I talked about in Part 2), I was to drive three blocks west, and then make a right on Third Street. Had it been colder outside, I would have walked; but I find the heat draining- like my energy is being sucked from my lifeless corpse- so I couldn’t muster up the will-power to do so. Although it generally depends on the temperature. High 70s, maybe. Mid-80s and above? Nope. I wouldn’t do well living in the desert, although I suppose I’d eventually get used to the heat.

The drive leading up to the estate was long and lined with trees; they acted almost like sentries guarding the gates to a medieval castle. I couldn’t make my car go very fast on it (speed limits, you understand), but that worked to my advantage. The slower speed allowed me to not only get to my destination safely, but also to better enjoy my surroundings. Being so close to the main part of the city, I felt like I was in the countryside, miles away from everyone and everything. Had I been able to find a country station that came in, I would’ve been blasting it out my speakers.

A bike path intersected the road and I slowed down, allowing a skateboarder to cross, before continuing on my way. As hot as it felt outside when I was by the Sonoma Plaza, it honestly didn’t feel as warm here at Vallejo’s home. More than likely due to the level of foliage and trees here. Or maybe it was the breeze that decided to greet me?

Hi, friend! Here’s a little something to soothe ya!

From the parking lot, just beyond a pearly-blue gate I could see a two-storied white house. But before I could get there, I first had to go through the gate into another building just to the right. It was here that I triumphantly brandished my receipt from the mission. I was given a laminated pamphlet with information on the home- and a map of the home’s interior- and sent on my way.

First, though, before going outside, I took a moment to gaze at some of the artifacts on display, amongst which was an old carriage once used by the Vallejo family.

Continue reading “Lachryma Montis: General Vallejo’s Estate- SSHP, Part 3”

The Journey Begins

I’m keeping the prompted title that WordPress gifted to me on this first post. I can’t think of a better one. “The Journey Begins.” Journey, as a noun, is defined as an act of going from one place to another. Because that is exactly what this blog is intended to be about. Traveling. Hence, Natalie’s Travels.

Obviously: my name is Natalie. That’s all you need to now for now. I am currently 31 and have a passion for traveling and exploration. (Cue Bilbo Baggins dashing out of Bag End. I’m going on an adventure!) I reside an hour or so north of San Francisco, in the heart of California’s wine country. I’d get more specific; but if I told you, I’d have to make you disappear. State secrets and all that. Shhh.

Cue the silence. Crickets. Throw in a clear night sky with twinkling stars, then you and I sitting on a large blanket, gazing up at the heavens. We’re talking about ways and means and far off places and, maybe, we’re sipping on mugs of tea.

“Since you live in wine country, why not write about something wine related?” You wonder aloud. An owl flies overhead and we pause mid-conversation to watch.

Fair question. The answer? Wine related topics will definitely merit the occasional mention. I mean, come on. I live in wine country. But this blog will also be about non-wine adventures I’ve had, near and far. People I’ve met. Places I’ve explored. That kind of thing. I want you to experience things the way I did. Live vicariously. Get your own ideas of places to go. Enjoy my adventures as much as I did, and then go have your own!

When I was little, my parents would always take my sister and I on their anniversary vacations with them. My dad would take my sister and I camping, too. Road trips, holiday trips. And it was all so glorious and gave me a thirst to see more more more! I had to get out there and experience life.

You know what also fueled my wanderlust? Reading about all these cool places in my history and geography books. Places like Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, and the pyramids at Giza. (Spoiler alert: I’ve been to three of those places. They were glorious.)

That’s part of the reason I’ve started this blog: I love to travel and…drum roll…I love to write. When I was a kid, I would always be writing little stories and plays and such. But it was reading the Harry Potter series that really made me want to go for more than the just the little stuff. I wanted to be a writer. I had to. I felt it in my blood. Thanks for giving me that thirst, JK Rowling.

Long story short, I began writing Harry Potter fanfiction, way back in 2003. Then I branched out into other fandoms and, eventually, original fiction. But that didn’t pan out (maybe in the future). So, I thought: let’s switch genres. I like reading travelogues. Bill Bryson never fails to elicit a laugh. Cheryl Strayed made me want to hike a freaking mountain. If those two can do it, why can’t I?

Dude, I mean… I like to travel. I like to write. Why not combine the two?

And there we have it.


IMG_7977(Photo taken by yours truly, at the Marin Headlands.)