Take vacations, go as many places as you can. You can always make more money, you can’t always make memories.
Sometimes we get so held up on making money, our jobs etc that we forget to stop and take time to refresh, recharge and relax. Having a large number associated with your bank account doesn’t do any good if you are always in the office, never have time to enjoy family and friends and never enjoy getting out to explore the world! There have been hundreds of studies done to show that taking time to get away, does more than just give you the chance to take a break from work.
Here are just a few things that vacations do:
- Vacations Relieve Stress—Stress is a true physiological response originally meant to help us and keep us safe. It releases hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine for the fight or flight response that was necessary for early man. However, in modern society, chronic stress can be destructive to our bodies. Getting away for regular vacations and leaving our every day stresses give us a break from the constant high levels of these hormones and a chance to repair some of the damage.
- Vacations Help Prevent Heart Disease—Stress is one of the major contributors to heart disease and high blood pressure. Long-term studies in both men and women have shown that vacations can reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Men who vacationed regularly were more than 32% less likely to die from a heart attack. For women who vacation regularly, that figure jumps to 50% less likely to die from a heart attack. (2010 Framingham Heart Study)
- Vacations Help Maintain Focus—Studies find chronic stress can affect the part of the brain that inhibits goal-directed activities and causes problems with memory. Continuous work with no breaks or vacations can make people feel blocked and distracted, and have problems concentrating. Surveys show almost three-quarters of people who vacation regularly feel energized and more ready to tackle the tasks at hand
A vacation doesn’t have to mean a week or two, or even going to far away/exotic places. Just getting away for a few days can do wonders and help you reap some of the benefits! This past October I had the opportunity to travel to Portland Oregon for a week to visit an old friend, explore new places and run a half marathon. This is the first of a series highlighting the adventures on this trip, since there is no way to summarize a trip like this in one post. Sit back and come relive the adventures with me, I’ll even throw in some random travel tips along the way!
Part one… The adventure begins!
I don’t know about you, but when the big day finally arrives and its time to actually leave on vacation, I’d rather leave early and (hopefully) get to my destination in time to enjoy at least part of the day! Over the last few years, I have discovered that my preferred airline is Southwest, as I can usually get the best prices on flights from them, bags fly free and I’ve never (knock on wood) had to deal with a delayed or cancelled flight. The only drawback for me, is that I have to drive to Milwaukee to catch one of their flights, as they do not fly out of Green Bay.
I also have found, thanks to the recommendation of a friend, a hotel right across the street from the airport that has a park and ride program. For one, reasonable price, I get my room plus parking, in their secured lot, for up to 2 weeks! They even drop me right off at my car when I return from the trip! I can drive down to Milwaukee the day before and relax in the lounge with a cocktail, then getting a good nights sleep before a busy day of travel. A quick shuttle ride to the airport well before the crack of dawn and it’s go time! I am generally on the plane before the sun comes up! I usually can’t complain, because then I can get photos like this from several thousand feet…
An early morning flight also usually means a quiet flight! These flights are generally filled with business travelers. There are the occasional families that opt for these early flights, but the kids usually end up just sleeping through the flight! On my flight from Milwaukee to Denver, I was able to catch up on some reading and have a little breakfast!
Once we left Denver, heading towards Oregon, I didn’t get much reading done. There were mountains to enjoy! This also lead to more options added to the travel bucket list. Note to self: One day, I will travel into Denver as that being the final destination, instead of just passing through!
Since I left Milwaukee so early (6am), my flight landed in Portland by 10:30am, so I had plenty of the day left to unwind and settle in to the adventure that was ahead of me for the week. Keith picked me up from the airport and the adventure began! We spent the afternoon catching up, lunch at Ikea (yeah, we go high class!), chasing the dog around the yard and then heading out for a run before dinner.No better way to start vacation than with a 6 mile run on the trail, surrounded by fall colors, a few hundred rabbits and a dog anxious to catch each and every one! We were actually only planning on doing 5 miles, but we weren’t paying attention to how far we had run and didn’t end up turning around until we hit 3 miles, instead of at 2.5. Oops. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been friends since you were 10 and have only seen each other a few times in the last 20+ years. There is way too much to catch up on!
Day 2: Exploring downtown Portland and more!
Since Keith had to go in to work for a few hours on Friday, I jumped at the opportunity to explore downtown Portland. My advice to you when in a new city: whenever possible, get out and explore the city using the mode of transportation that God gave you – YOUR FEET! It’s relaxing, you get your exercise, you never know where you will end up, what sights you will see..
I was pleasantly surprised on how easy it was to find parking downtown Portland! Yes, Keith knew exactly where he wanted to park, but right in this area, there were several public parking ramps, as well as street parking. We ended up parking right along this awesome park (I don’t remember the name of it) that goes all the way from downtown Portland, up to Portland State University. After a quick stop at Starbucks, it was time to explore! My first stop was heading to the waterfront. Once I got to the part along the water, I turned left and headed up along an area full of shopping, cafes and more. Unfortunately, it was early Friday morning and many of these shops were not open yet. After heading that was for a while, I turned around and headed back towards downtown. I had no real destination in mind, but rather just wandered, enjoying the architecture and quiet city streets.
The next thing I knew, I stumbled across Voodoo Donuts! The donut franchise was featured in 2010 on a Simpsons television episode, as well as many other television appearances. When I walked in the door, I knew I was in trouble. There were way too many options to pick from!
When I texted Keith that I was there, he told me I had to get the signature Voodoo donut. (voodoo doll shaped donut with raspberry filling, covered with bright purple frosting and a yellow swirl – served with a pretzle rod to stab it with!) Lisa informed me that I HAD to get the Homer Simpson (created for the Simpsons episode and still makes an appearance in the bakery!).
Since I really don’t eat donuts (or sweets in general) that often, I knew that either of the options suggested to me could mean a headache would follow. I played it safe and ordered a raspberry filled donut. Zero regrets!
After that donut, it was time to do some more walking! I headed back towards where the van was parked and made a quick stop to take Yoshi for a walk (since we forgot to drop him off and Doggy Day Camp in the morning before we headed downtown). Yoshi and I spent the next hour wandering through the park, exploring Portland State University… and of course he had to stop and flirt with all the girls along the way! Shortly after that, Keith was done working, and it was off to pick up my race packet for the Half marathon and then find some lunch!
I have decided that we REALLY need a Mod Pizza in Green Bay! Think Subway… but Pizza! Yes, you walk in, pick your crust and then pick your toppings! Your pizza is built right before your eyes and then put straight into the oven and served piping hot in just a few minutes! The chain started in Seattle, Washington and has been branching out across the country. I recently found of that there is a Mod Pizza location in the Milwaukee area… maybe it’s time for a road trip to Milwaukee again!
After lunch, Keith had a few more appointments for work, so Yoshi and I used the opportunities to get in a few more walks. Each of the locations that Keith had to visit, just happened to be right along trails! Extra steps for me and Yoshi found more squirrels to torment!
Next thing we knew, it was time to head out to meet Mariah for dinner and close out a fabulous day full of walking adventures! While we waited for her to finish work, we enjoyed a few of their signature cocktails and an appetizer. Dinner was filled with more laughs, great food and talk of adventures for the rest of the week.
By the time we finished dinner and made the drive home, I was ready to crash! Tomorrow is another adventure…
but that will have to wait until the next post in this series.
For those that want a hint as to where we are headed…
Waterfalls, hiking, lots of walking, fish ladders and unique burgers!
Come back tomorrow for the next part of the adventure!
All opinions in this post are my own, I was not compensated for any comments or reviews that I have provided about any locations that I visited. I am simply provided links to some of these places so that you can check them out for yourself.