A Montana native and the newest member of the Austin Lehman Adventures sales team. As an avid traveler I am excited to be a part of the adventure travel industry. I have been fortunate to travel to France, London, Peru, Chile, Canada and all around the United States. I am passionate about the outdoors and love hiking, camping, backpacking, skiing and gardening. I come to Austin Lehman with a background in the ski industry and a degree from the University of Montana in psychology.
Located in southwest Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is an extraordinary mixture of serene natural beauty, unspoiled alpine grandeur, and authentic National Park charm all with an intense volcanic history. It is a place of deep fascination for visitors and scientists alike.
Crater Lake is best known for its intense blue color and pristine water. This stunning lake was formed when the volcano Mount Mazama collapsed after an enormous eruption. This collapse formed a deep caldera, which over time has filled with rainwater and snowfall. There are no rivers or streams that flow in or out of the lake, making its waters some of the purest in the world. Because of its location just 100 miles from the Pacific coast and in the heart of the towering Cascade Range, Crater Lake receives a huge amount of snowfall. This not only keeps the lake replenished but it has made Crater Lake the deepest lake in United States.
During the short summer season, recreational activities are endless in this mountain paradise. Spend an afternoon biking the 33 miles around the rim of the lake, taking it in from every angle. Hike through the diverse old growth forests or across meadows filled wildflowers. Climb to the highest point in the park on Mount Scott for breathtaking panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding peaks. While you are marveling at the extreme natural beauty of the lake keep an eye out for the Old Man of the Lake, a log that has been bobbing around in the pristine waters for over 115 years! You will also see the Phantom Ship which is a small, jagged island visible from several locations around the rim. This island acquired its eerie name because during foggy or stormy weather it looks like ghostly ship out on the water.
In addition to the National Park, southern Oregon has so much to offer the active traveler. With miles of rugged coastline, beautiful beaches, unspoiled rivers, lush forests and endless trails there is no shortage of adventure here. River and nature lovers alike will enjoy a day of whitewater rafting the gorgeous Rouge River which flows out of the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean. Just two hours from Crater Lake you will find the hip town of Ashland, Oregon. Most famous for its amazing Shakespeare Festival, Ashland has plenty of culture, nightlife and dining options to satisfy your vacation desires. The Shakespeare Festival runs an impressive eight months and preforms over 750 shows and allows visitors to experience classical Shakespeare as well as other amazing performances. 2013 offerings include The Taming of The Shrew, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a Streetcar Named Desire, My Fair Lady and many more.
Whether it is the allure and curiosity of Crater Lake National Park or just an overall need for adventure and the outdoors, southern Oregon will satisfy your every desire. It is worth a visit!
Austin-Lehman will be offering the ultimate adventure to Crater Lake in 2013.
You friendly traveler,
Harvest time is coming to California’s wine country! This means there is no better time to plan your California adventure vacation and experience amazing cycling tours through the Napa region. Not only is the weather fantastic in Napa in the fall, but there is a special energy in the air. The excitement and anticipation of great wines to come is all around. The grape leaves are beginning to change color only adding to the breathtaking beauty of the area. The days are still warm and the evenings are cool making it the perfect time to explore all that the region has to offer.
The annual grape crush begins in late August and continues until October, which makes the fall an extremely exciting time to be in wine country. This is the perfect time to see the area in the full swing of wine production. The flurry of activity picking grapes starts before dawn and the grapes are whisked away to the crusher as quickly as possible, yet the smell of freshly picked grapes lingers in the air all day. It is a time for festivity and to celebrate the harvest, wineries offer rare barrel tastings, special production tours, unique wine pairing dinners and opportunities to blend your own wine. During this exciting time you can even find a few places that offer you the opportunity to participate in an idyllic barefoot wine stomp. You will find the small towns are buzzing with cooking classes, workshops, special events and festivals.
Fill your days with the perfect combination of hiking, biking, kayaking and winery tours and tastings. There is no better way to explore wine country than by bicycle. It allows you to slow down and take it all in. An afternoon of hiking and exploring historic Jack London State Park will take you back to the simpler time of Jack London’s adventures. Stroll along the beach after a morning kayak until you find your perfect seashell souvenir. End your perfect day in wine country with a farm fresh dinner and a glass of local wine.
A few days in wine country will leave you relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to plan your next visit. Come celebrate the finer things in life with the people of California’s wine country this fall!
Your friendly wine loving travel consultant,
Let’s be honest, no one is a fan of extreme temperatures! But harsh weather should not keep you from your adventures. There is a trick to braving the punishing cold temperatures of the Montana winter and exploring in the sweltering heat of an Arizona summer. On my recent trip to Havasupai Falls, this fair-skinned Montana girl learned a few things about staying cool in the heat. Here are my top five ways for beating the dry desert heat of the southwest:
5. Wear a hat. A wide brimmed hat will keep the sun off your face, ears, scalp and neck and is the best choice for beating the heat. A lightweight baseball cap will at least protect your face and your scalp.
4. Avoid strenuous activity during peak heat hours. The peak heat hours are between 10 AM and 4 PM, so limiting your sun exposure and strenuous activities during these hours will help you stay significantly cooler. Early mornings and dusk will be your favorite hours of the day for activity. The sun is not beating down on you, temperatures are moderate and this is the best time for physical activity. If you are heading out on a desert hike, go early!
3. Keep your neck cool. Wet a bandana or a light weight neck gaiter and put it around your neck. Keeping your neck cool will help trick your body into thinking it is a cool. It feels fantastic and this will also keep the sun off your neck.
2. Wear sunscreen. There is absolutely nothing worse than being sunburnt and feeling hot. Do not take a chance. Always apply sunscreen early in the day, do not wait until you feel a little burnt. By the time you realize you might be getting toasted, you are probably toasted. I recommend an oil free sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. You will need to reapply often especially if you are sweating or in the water, every two hours is a good rule to follow. Do not forget to apply the sunscreen to your face, ears and tops of your feet. Always use a SPF lip balm so your lips do not burn. It really is better to be safe than sorry, so slater it on!
1. Hydrate, hydrate and then hydrate more! The absolute best way to keep your body cool is to drink lots of water. Regardless of your activity level in extreme temperatures you will need to drink plenty of water, if you are active you will need to drink even more. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to have a drink. I highly recommend a day backpack with a hydration system in it, that way your water stays cool and is always very accessible.
I hope you find these tips helpful on your next desert adventure. If you have any tips or tricks for keeping cool, leave us a comment and let us know!
Your Friendly Travel Consultant,
What is better than an adventure vacation on the San Juan Islands in Washington? Spending a few days in Seattle before heading out on your trip! Seattle, Washington is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and it is the largest city on the west coast north of San Francisco. It is an adventurous city at heart, perfectly situated near pristine rivers, lush forests, plenty of lakes and gorgeous snowcapped mountains. On top of being an adventurer’s paradise Seattle has plenty of music, art and culture to keep you coming back for more.
Downtown Seattle is a hub of great food, sophisticated shops, quirky pubs and plenty to see and do. Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s most iconic places and should not be missed. Stop and watch the fishmongers throw fresh fish impressive distances with perfect accuracy. These guys put on quite a show! This is the perfect place to spend some time strolling the labyrinth of amazing handicrafts and marveling at the amazing row of fresh flowers. You never know what you will find around the next corner in the market. Just across the street from Pike Place Market you can get a latte at the original Starbucks!
Seattle’s most famous landmark is, of course, the Space Needle. This famous tower was constructed for the World’s Fair in 1962. Take a ride up the elevator to the observation deck for gorgeous views of the city skyline and on a clear day you can also see some of the gorgeous mountains in the area. One of the most unique features of the Space Needle is the rotating restaurant, not only can you get 360 degree views but you can also enjoy a delicious meal. The Space Needle is located at the Seattle Center which also features The Pacific Science Center, The EMP Museum and many other attractions.
The Seattle waterfront is another great place to spend a day. On the waterfront you will find the Seattle Aquarium, the Olympic Sculpture Park, The Tillicum Village Cultural Center and the newly constructed Great Wheel, the tallest Ferris wheel on the west coast! This is also a great area to find a bowl of delightful clam chowder and watch the ships roll in and out.
Getting around Seattle is made easy with the monorail going between downtown and the Seattle Center and the light rail that goes all the way to Sea-Tac airport. There is so much to see and do in Seattle that you will have no problem filling your days before heading off on your adventure in the San Juan Islands!
Your Friendly Travel Consultant and Seattle Lover,
France is such a diverse country from the chic metropolitan city of Paris to the windswept dunes of the Normandy beaches to the lavender fields of Provence to the wineries of Burgundy to the picturesque castles of the Loire Valley. France truly has something to offer everyone and it is the perfect country for your European cycling tours. There is no better way to experience all that this beautiful country has to offer than on the two wheels of a bicycle. Not only do you feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face but you can truly take in all the sights and smells on a whole different level.
History Rich Brittany/Normandy
Not only are the Brittany and Normandy regions of France phenomenally beautiful but they offer adventurers a bit of a history lesson. This area is rich in history dating back to the Roman Empire and also played an important role in World War II. There will be plenty of time to visit the museums, beaches, battlefields and cemeteries. Rolling through the historic villages you will be amazed by the half-timbered buildings that have endured the test of time. Stop along the way and enjoy a savory crepe and a locally distilled cider! There is no better way to journey to the majestic abbey of Mont St Michel than by bicycle. You will see it far off in the distance and arrive to marvel at its splendor. A cycling vacation in the Brittany/Normandy region will leave you craving your next trip to France.
Famous for its fragrant lavender fields, jagged Mediterranean coast, charming villages and superb cuisine, Provence is everything you are dreaming of in a French vacation. There is endless exploring to do in this region. It has an incredibly rich history dating back to the Stone Age when some of the earliest people to inhabit Europe chose Provence. How can you blame them? The Mediterranean coastline is exquisite, beautiful mountains tower in the distance, several rivers meander the countryside and this region has a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters. Famous for delicious cuisine, Provence has a flavor distinctly different from some of the other regions in France. Expect to dine on some incredible seafood, crusty breads with fresh olive tapenade and array of fresh fruits. Relaxation and enjoying life is hallmark of Provence, so make sure you indulge. Spend some time people watching at an outdoor café in before taking a laidback stroll through the amazing markets of St Remy. You will settle right into this leisurely lifestyle and feel relaxed and rejuvenated in no time!
The people who live in this region know the secrets of the “good life” start with amazing food and wine. You will find no shortage of either on your cycling vacation to the Burgundy region of France. It is a travelers dream! The beautiful rolling hills of this region are dotted with picturesque small vineyards, magnificent chateaus and timeworn abbeys. The quaint villages of Burgundy will invite you to linger and enjoy just one more glass of amazing pinot noir. While vacationing in this area be sure to sample some of the famous regional cuisine like the Beef Bourguigon, Coq au Vin or the delicious Escagot in a white wine sauce. This is an incredibly peaceful region of France that invites you to slow down, relax and stay awhile.
The Enchanted Loire Valley
Spend just a few days cycling through the gorgeous Loire Valley and you will feel enlightened. This region is famous for its extravagant chateaus and castles, gorgeous gardens and noble history. Many of the impressive castles in the Loire Valley were once residences of the French Royalty. They were built in this beautiful river valley because the close proximity to Paris, the pleasant climate, beautiful landscape and amazing growing season. This region of the country is often called the Garden of France. Not only will you find plenty of vineyards but you will also cycle past beautiful fruit orchards, fields of artichokes, asparagus and sunflowers. Spend a few days pedaling through the charming villages, touring the picture perfect chateaus, sampling a few flakey pastries along the way and you will see why this region has been a haven for French royalty, poets, artists and travelers throughout history.
With its impressive charm, food and wine, indulgent culture France will entice you time and time again. It is the perfect place for your European cycling tours.
When I think about the Grand Canyon, many iconic images come to mind: red rocks, dry desert heat and the Colorado River snaking along the canyon floor. However, on my recent trip to the area not only did I find red rocks and dry desert heat but I was lucky enough to experience a little pocket of Eden in Havasu Canyon just off the main Grand Canyon. It was incredible! Teal blue waters, lush foliage, squash and wild grape vines growing like weeds, pomegranate and apricot trees lining the dusty path and waterfalls all around. So unexpected and so beautiful!
Havasu Canyon is carved by the sparkling, crystalline Havasu Creek which springs out of the canyon floor and makes its way all the way to the Colorado River. This creek has a unique mineral content giving it an extraordinary color and these minerals also form the striking travertine formations that adorn this canyon. It is an ever changing landscape sculpted by ebb and flow of Havasu Creek and the incredible travertine deposits. When I returned home from this beautiful area I was excited to share my photos with friends and family. The handful of friends who had been to the area several years ago hardly recognized the waterfalls in my photos. Major flooding in the area in 2008 completely changed the landscape of the canyon. One of the major waterfalls, Navajo Falls, disappeared after the river re-routed. What seemed devastating to the area just a few short years ago has proven to be just resurgence in the canyon. New falls have developed where Navajo used to thunder and they are quite stunning! This constant change is just one more reason to visit time and again.
Getting to this lush, gorgeous area is a bit of the challenge. It is an 8 mile hike to the village of Supai and another 2 miles to Havasu Falls and the Campground. You can horseback into the canyon or even hire a helicopter but I think the hike truly makes you appreciate the stunning beauty of the canyon.
If you go, be prepared for intense sun and heat. Daily temperatures can be quite warm, which makes playing in the water a necessity to stay cool. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and other sun protection so you can continue to enjoy your time in the water without dealing with sunburn. Beginning your hike to the area early in the morning will help you beat the intense heat of the day. After walking 6.5 miles you will first encounter Havasu Creek. It is the perfect time to stop for lunch or a snack and cool off in the crystal clear water. This short break will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated for the rest of your hike to the falls. The rest of the hike goes quickly as you will be captivated by all the gorgeous sights of the area.
Preserving this area is extremely important. Visitors to the area are guests of the Havasupai people and should view their visit as a privilege. Remember, everything you carry in you must carry out. There is no garbage truck or waste removal in this remote region so each visitor must do their part to keep Havasupai clean so it is just as beautiful for generations to come!
Your friendly travel expert,
We all know the famous gourmet regions of the world: France, Italy, Peru, New York City, Las Vegas, the Napa Valley… But, I am a firm believer that any vacation can be turned into a “gourmet vacation”. Good food is all around and you can find it just about anywhere as long as you are willing to put a bit of effort into finding it. My number one tip for finding the best food in any city is to ask a local. Where do the locals eat? Chances are it is a neighborhood café with an organic garden in the backyard or it is an Irish pub with no advertising and no sign out front or it is a food truck parked on the corner of Main and 8th Street only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These are all local gems that could easily be overlooked.
So often in our regular lives we eat things that are quick, easy and we rarely take the time to slow down and really enjoy eating. Vacation really should be the time to slow down, find a local bistro and really enjoy your food. A gourmet vacation doesn’t always have to feature expensive meals or a 5 star restaurant with a celebrity chef. It really should be about enjoying the company you are with and tasting all that an area has to offer. You know the old saying “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Some of my most memorable meals while traveling have been in small town café’s served by an owner or at a tiny restaurant with few tables and a line out the door.
I highly recommend skipping the famous restaurant chains. Where’s the fun in eating something you can get around the corner at home? Even if you are in the mood for a quick burger, I suggest giving the local drive-in a try and skipping the burger chain you can find in every city. I bet you will find a great burger and maybe even that tasty shake you haven’t had in 20 years. It is vacation!
Every area has their specialty. Every town has a café that makes the best omelet or has a bar and grill with the best happy hour. If you don’t look, you are really missing out! I promise the next time you are in Grand Forks, North Dakota you will find the best fried pickles you have ever tasted at a little restaurant called The Toasted Frog. Ask anyone in town!
Your Friendly Travel Consultant,
South American wines have really started to come into their own in the wine world in recent years. Wine lovers around the world are now discovering the high quality wines coming from Chile and Argentina. With plenty of sunshine, a temperate climate and the gorgeous Andes Mountains as your backdrop, the wine regions of Argentina and Chile are the perfect place to discover your new favorite variety.
The Argentine Malbecs are deep and fruity, the Chilean Cabernets are rich, complex and have just a hint of green pepper and the coastal Chardonnays are smooth and refreshing. My personal favorite is a lesser known varietal nearly unique to Chile, the Carmenere. If there was ever a wine with a great story to tell it would be the Carmenere. This is actually lost French varietal that was thought to have died out in Europe when the French vineyards were destroyed by disease in the 1800s. Chilean wine makers actually brought the grape vine to Chile from Bordeaux before the devastation and for years it was growing under the mistaken identity of Merlot. Some wine producers noticed some of their “Merlot” was a bit different and finally in the 1990s DNA testing of the vines proved it was the long lost varietal from Bordeaux thriving half a world away! Now if that story does not warrant giving the Carmenere a try, I don’t know what does! The Chilean Carmenere is aromatic, deep, earthy, cherry-like and perfectly paired with spicy foods or grilled meats.
Wind your way from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile tasting fantastic wines and you will find out for yourself why the wine regions of South America are coming up in the world. It truly is the perfect place for your next wine tour!
Your Friendly Travel Consultant,
A few years ago my family decided we should take a European vacation. My cousin was living and studying in the Loire region of France and our family (3 generations!) decided we should go for a little visit. I would never turn down an opportunity to travel, so off to France I went with the family! The plan was to arrive in Paris, take the train to meet up with my cousin and then set out by car to tour the history rich Brittany/Normandy regions of France. While we didn’t have a set daily agenda, we did have some hotel reservations and definitely had a list of places to visit.
This trip turned into nothing less than a disaster. We spent more time getting lost, getting frustrated, finding attractions closed, arriving very late at night to our hotels and peering in the windows of closed restaurants. We spent very little time actually relaxing and enjoying our time in France and enjoying our family vacation. Looking back now I can find some humor in the whole thing, but that trip really got me thinking about guided vacations. If we would have gone with a guide my grandmother would have actually had time to savor her coffee and a delicious dessert in the gorgeous villages we sped through. My grandfather would have actually had time visit Utah Beach. Our meals would have been filled with delicious food, smooth French Bordeaux’s and conversation rather than meals filled with zombie like stares and frustrated silence. While we saw some amazing things on our comical European vacation, we wouldn’t have missed so many things and there would have been much more family harmony if we would have traveled with a guide. We can finally look back on our family adventure vacation and laugh but it has taken years. Years!
So here are my top five reasons I highly recommend traveling with a guide. These are lessons learned the hard way!
Top 5 Reason’s You Should Go with a Guide
- No Getting Lost. We spent countless hours backtracking, looking at maps, attempting to read road signs in a foreign language and finally finding our way just in time to miss out on whatever we were trying to find. When traveling with a guide all that is handled for you. The guides are experts and not only do they speak the language but they know the best routes, the best coffee shops or attractions along the way.
- Insider Knowledge. Whether it is pointing out some history of the area, telling a local story or simply knowing where the cleanest bathroom is located guides have the insider knowledge on local sights, culture and hours of operation. With years of experience there is no better way to travel than with an experienced guide.
- Best Food. While you are bound to stumble upon delicious food in many places, when traveling with a guide you know you are experiencing the best food the area has to offer. In many cases the guide you are traveling with is a personal friend of the restaurant owner or has become friends over the years of doing business together. You are going to get the best service, the best table, the best reservation time and the best food!
- More Relaxation, Less Stress. When traveling with a guide all of the details are handled for you. You get to truly enjoy your vacation and the time with your loved ones. It truly makes your vacation a time to relax and take it all in!
- New Friends. Not only is your guide going to be your local expert, driver, daily planner but by the end of the trip they will be your friend. Guides love what they do and they love getting to know people from all over the world. Going with a guide will give you an experience like none other.
You will never go at it alone again, trust me.
Your Friendly Travel Consultant,
There is no bad time of year to be in California’s wine country, but perhaps the best time of year to plan your visit to this bountiful region is for the harvest. The harvest in the Napa Valley begins as early as August and can continue through early November, but the prime time is October.
The harvest is truly a magical time to be in wine country. There is a special energy in the air that creates a bit more hustle, puts a spring in everyone’s step while the smell of fresh wine lingers in the air. It is the first taste of the season’s grapes, it is the hope that this year, just might, produce the most perfect bottle of wine and it is the culmination of an entire season of hard work. It truly is a time for celebration! It is the perfect time to really immerse yourself in the wine-making process. During the harvest bushels of grapes are handpicked, sorted and then head off to be pressed before starting the fermenting process. From grape to glass the process is really fascinating!
With the days a bit shorter and the evenings a little cooler October is the perfect time for adventure vacation packages or cycling tours in the Napa Valley. There is something for everyone in California's wine country; whether you are a foodie, a wine connoisseur, a cycling enthusiast or you are just in need of some rest and relaxation this is the perfect vacation spot!
Your Friendly Travel Consultant,
There is just something about the desert for me. It is harsh, unyielding and somehow so rejuvenating. One of my personal favorite hiking vacations is in the desert of Arches National Park. I always feel energized, relaxed and satisfied after spending a few days amongst the red rocks and under a radiant blue sky.
The dry desert landscape of southern Utah is rugged and sometimes seems inhabitable, yet there is an abundance of hearty plants and critters who call this park home. I am most reminded of these when wandering the park in the spring when out of nowhere flowers appear. It seems nearly impossible but somehow they flourish. It is so incredible!
While there is endless exploring to be done in Arches National Park, one of my favorite hikes is along the Devil’s Garden Trail. If you don’t have a lot of time you can do an easy two mile round trip in and out to see Landscape Arch. This is one sandstone formation you do not want to miss on your visit. It is the longest and one of the most impressive arches in the entire park. It is 290 feet across and it truly seems to defy all laws of gravity. One thing to keep in mind about Arches National Park is the impermanence of the rock formations. They are in constant transition. So only time will tell how long Landscape Arch will be around; I’d definitely see it sooner than later! You can continue the entire length of the trail which is a loop just over 7 miles long. It winds its way through some incredibly scenic terrain and takes you past 7 more impressive and less known arches.
After an amazing day in Arches, with the best adventure travel company, I love to settle in with a glass of wine and watch the sun disappear behind the red rocks while reflecting on my incredible day. The evenings are cool and calm and sleep comes so easily as I am eager to wake up in the desert paradise for another day of exploring.
Your Friendly Travel Consultant,
Melissa here, playing match maker! Are you looking to travel to Yellowstone National Park in July? Do you have active young boys? We have an awesome family of 4 looking to join our July 22nd Yellowstone National Park Family trip but they are hoping to travel with another family who has boys. Their boys are ages 9 and 11. Are you the perfect fit?
Yellowstone National Park is a paradise for adults and kids alike. Our expert guides create a secure and rewarding environment full of challenge, accomplishment and fun. Combined with exceptional accommodations and classic dining, this is the ultimate family adventure!
If you have any questions send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call 800.575.1540
Or for more information on our family Yellowstone vacations and to download a detailed itinerary visit our trip page: Yellowstone National Park Family
Ahem... Cue my best Julie Andrew’s voice…
Experience a few of my favorite things on our California Wine Country Adventure! This trip is 6 days and 5 nights packed with wine tastings, delicious meals, winery tours, biking, hiking, kayaking, redwoods, and even a little seaside relaxation. California wine country satisfies my taste buds and feeds my adventurous spirit, leaving me relaxed and quite content. It is my perfect vacation! Come see why California Wine Country has some of the best adventure vacations for couples. For dates and full trip details download the full itinerary here.
Your Friendly Travel Consultant,