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Canada

Canada was the last stop on our travels. After seven weeks in the US we spent two more weeks in the town of Banff... and we didn't want to leave! We were lucky to have timed our trip to be there when two of our friends from Australia, Josh and Kobie, were living there. They are some of the best people, letting us stay with them and taking us on all sorts of adventures. Over the two weeks we went snowboarding, we ice skated for the first time on a frozen lake, petted a deer and hiked to the top of a snow covered mountain. Banff is such a magical place and it was so amazing to live like a local for two weeks and meet some very cool people. Canada is one of the most breathtaking alpine places we have been... paradise doesn't have to be tropical. 

 The view of Banff from the top of Tunnel Mountain.

The view of Banff from the top of Tunnel Mountain.

 The town of Canmore, just outside of Banff.

The town of Canmore, just outside of Banff.

 Lake Louise. 

Lake Louise. 

 Jonny petting a deer in the backyard.

Jonny petting a deer in the backyard.

 Jonny snowboarding.

Jonny snowboarding.

 It was minus 26 degrees at Lake Louise, just a bit chilly!

It was minus 26 degrees at Lake Louise, just a bit chilly!

 Jonny ice skating.

Jonny ice skating.

 Jess's first time skating on a frozen lake. 

Jess's first time skating on a frozen lake. 

 The track up Tunnel Mountain.

The track up Tunnel Mountain.

 Jess snowboarding.

Jess snowboarding.

 Jess at Lake Louise. 

Jess at Lake Louise. 

 Our beautiful friends Josh and kobie.

Our beautiful friends Josh and kobie.

 Jonny and Josh.

Jonny and Josh.

 Hiking to the top of Tunnel Mountain.

Hiking to the top of Tunnel Mountain.

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Yosemite

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Yosemite has been amazing! From the moment you drive in, you cant help but be in awe. This national park is the most majestic we have visited, truly a place of beauty. Its hard to describe the feeling we get when we visit a place like this, its a child like excitement and wonder mixed with extreme joy. Nothing keeps our spirt alive more than discovering and exploring a new place, something about the experience just brings out the best in us. 

We drove into Yosemite via the Eastern Tioga Pass Entrance, which takes you through an amazing mountain range and alpine lakes. From Tioga Pass we made our way through the park to Yosemite Village to find our camp for the night. We could have spent days driving in on this road, stopping and exploring the whole way in. There are so many valleys and peaks to explore, after spending some time walking around some of the crystal clear lakes, we climbed to the top of one rock, which rewarded us with the most magical view of the park. 

That night we scored a great site right on the edge campground, giving us a lovely view of the forest. This park is in bear territory so it is important to keep any food or scented stuff in the bear lockers. As we unloaded our gear and set up for dinner we joked about the bears and thought its probably all hype to scare the tourists. Five minutes later we sat down for dinner and about 20m away in the trees something caught our eye. A black bear! We both turned and watched this magical creature walk past us. It was a surreal moment as it was the first time either of us had seen a wild bear. Thank goodness he wasn't interested in our vegetable stew, or us for that matter. 

The next morning we set out ready for a day of exploring and stairs... 600 stairs! For some reason we thought it would be fun to spend hours walking up many, many stairs. It was fun, until we couldn't stop our legs from shaking and had to rest every few steps haha good times. But every rest was a good opportunity to take in the amazing views around us. Our hike took us to the top of Vernal Falls and just past that, Emerald Pool, where we sat for a very long time before we dared tackle the 600 stair decent. What an amazing spot to rest up, have our lunch and watch some squirrels, definitely worth it.   

Before leaving Yosemite we took the morning to walk around the valley. What an amazing experience to gaze up at the towering El Capitan and half dome, some of the most famous rocks to climb. A drive up to Glacier Point is also a must, you get the most spectacular and different view of the valley. You can really see how the glacier forged its way through, to form this amazing place. It was hard to leave Yosemite, we could have stayed for another week, there is just so much to see and do here. But what an amazing few days we had, we are so happy that we made it here and got to experience this magical part of the world.

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Oregon

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As our time in Oregon was nearly over we picked a road to take us South, to the border and on to Yosemite National Park. We had a couple of days to get there so we took our time and explored every stream, hike and waterfall we could. It was so beautiful and so much fun getting our last taste of Oregon, what a spectacular place.

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Historic Columbia River Highway

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We were told by a friend we met in Colorado that the outskirts of Portland offered many amazing natural sights, including some awesome waterfalls and beautiful hikes. So after a few days cafe hopping in the city, we were keen to get back to the wild. Jumping in our camper van we set off along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

This has to be one of the most stunning highways we have been on, you only have to drive a few hundred metres before pulling over to see the next amazing sight. There are many waterfalls shooting out from the mountain ranges, but the most breathtaking is Multnomah Falls. The 189m high waterfall drops in two major steps and if you follow the walk way up beside the falls, you can cross a bridge which makes for an amazing view.

The Columbia River is the second largest river in North America and the area has so many fun activities available such as white water rafting, hiking, camping and exploring. It is definitely one of the most magical days we have had so far, just an amazing part of the world and we feel so blessed to have explored it.  

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Portland

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When we hired our van from Los Angeles, we had three weeks till we had to return for our flight out. Our goal was to make it to Portland in Oregon and we are so happy that we did. We had experienced the most amazing nature on this drive and sometimes when we hit a big city we struggle to go from the peacefulness of the outdoors to the hustle and bustle. But this was not the case with Portland. Portland has to be one of our favourite cities, a place we didn't want to leave and will most likely return to. It has such charisma, such style and the people are ridiculously friendly. It is well known for its coffee and we can say that that was a highlight. There are eclectic little cafes and roasters everywhere, our favourite was the School House Electric. We saw some great live music and had too many restaurants to choose from, each one more delicious than the next. The only down side to visiting this city during the winter is the weather, if you are there during this period be prepared for rain, lots and lots of rain. One local told us it would now rain for 5 months straight, although i think that may be a slight exaggeration. But it didn't dampen our sprits and it is all that rain that makes oregon one of the greenest most lush states. The landscapes just outside the city are breathtaking. Thank you Portland, for letting us get caught up in your magic.

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Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

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Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park has the most amazing campground. We were blown away by the beauty of this place and could not stop exploring. The campground has several sites on the river, amongst the redwoods. It is a very peaceful place, you can just sit for hours taking it all in. We kept expecting a bear to walk out of the forest and start fishing in the river, that would have been amazing. We could have stayed here for weeks, it is definitely on our list of places to return to. 

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