Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Visit Historic Virginia City, Nevada

A historic city near Reno and Tahoe

While in Reno, some locals told me about the perfect place to satisfy my craving for old cities, ruins and ghost towns. Just a half hour’s drive from Reno, Virginia City is a historic town that welcomes tourists all year long.

Things to Do in Virginia City

Walk down the historic main street, which is full of plenty of shops, restaurants and museums to keep you busy for an afternoon. You’ll learn about the history of mining towns like Virginia City that were built up to mine for silver. In addition to plentiful tourist souvenir shops, there are fine art galleries, jewelers and shops selling locally made goods. As noted in my dog-friendly post, dogs are allowed everywhere, except maybe the churches. Pet-friendly includes more than dogs–I saw someone enjoying Virginia City with their pet pig.

To visit Virginia City, I wore a wool cape that I’d just found at the Goodwill Outlet in Reno for $9! I hadn’t been to a Goodwill since I got this skirt for Tech Fashion Week, but the store provided for me once again–this time to keep me warm in the chilly mountain air.

The Historic Nevada City Cemetery

If you think cemeteries are creepy and scary, maybe the rest of this post isn’t for you…but no trip to Virginia City is complete without stopping by the vast cemetery on the edge of town. It’s totally worth it just for the amazing view.

The walk through the cemetery itself is worthwhile, too. This was once considered the most picturesque cemetery in America, full of carefully tended flower gardens. It’s more ruined now, but still beautiful in a wild west way. You can even rent it for a wedding, if you’d like to be able to tell people you got married in a cemetery!

Some of the old plots are so old they are marked with carved wood, not stone. The interesting thing about this place is that there are grave markers from the 1800s intermixed with recent headstones. History weaves itself into the very fabric of this town. If you’re in Reno/Tahoe, consider a little side trip to Virginia City!

Shop with Your Dog in Reno, Nevada

Shopping with your dog

When I travel, one of my favorite activities is checking out the local stores to find unique things and just experience the flavor of a new city through its commerce, like I did in San Francisco. This is my experience with finding dog friendly Reno Nevada stores over two recent weeklong trips. This post isn’t sponsored in any way, these are just the places I happened to go to. I’m sure there are plenty more I didn’t discover that deserve to be on this list. If you know one, let me know.

Dog friendly Reno Nevada

Since I was traveling with my dog and we were staying in a hotel, I ended up taking him to more stores that I ever have before. I didn’t want to leave him in the hotel room or the car while I shopped, so I tried out various dog-friendly stores around the city.

While this list is about our experience shopping in Reno, many of the chain stores on this list are also dog-friendly in other cities.


Yes, you can bring your dog to Patagonia! They even had dog treats and a bowl of water. Sorry Perry, even this tiny jacket isn’t going to fit you.

The Nest

Visiting this vintage shop in Reno is a fun treasure hunt, but even more fun that they were okay with my dog. It’s a well curated display with home goods, books, apparel and tons of little collectibles. I bought a few things that will be appearing on my Instagram feed soon.

The Basement Reno

Located in the basement of a former post office, this collective of stores and restaurants is hip and urban. I’m not sure whose concept it is, but my money is on them being millennials. It’s all dog-friendly. Perry is pictured here in Pantry Goods, an amazing shop for handmade organic soaps and personal care products located in the Basement Reno.

Yarn Refuge

This yarn shop that felt like being in a cozy living room. They had the exact scissors I was looking for, but more importantly they love dogs.


Although the sign said “Service Dogs Accepted,” no one questioned whether he was or not. (He’s not, so if I was asked to I would have left the store.) I pushed him around in the shopping cart, and I saw another tiny dog there while we shopped.

Sierra Trading Post

If you’re lucky enough to live near one of these outlet stores, you know how great this place is. It was recently bought by TJMaxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls, so it has same dog-friendly pet policy. Perry was even offered a treat by the staff, who said “We love having dogs visit!” In the photo I’m pretty sure he is expressing his displeasure that those Joules rain boots didn’t come in my size.

Ross Dress for Less

Like all Ross stores that I know of, the store in Reno, NV states on the door “Service animals and leashed pets welcome.” Perry has also taken advantage of the welcoming Ross pet policy and shopped at Ross in Monterey, CA and Eugene, OR with no problems (other than his interest in the jerky near the checkout aisle).

Jimmy Beans Wool

This yarn store in Reno was such a treat to visit. The multiple rooms of yarn are colorful and very well laid out. Be warned that there are two large store dogs there, but the staff put them in the back while we were there. I’m not even much of a knitter and I loved this place.

Every store we came across in Virginia City

This historical town is about 30 minutes outside of Reno. It’s a tourist destination with a main street full of shops to visit! Every single one I went to was dog-friendly. He was even encouraged to go into a vintage candy store.

This is by no means an exhaustive list! In general, we found Reno to be welcome to canine shoppers so the best thing to do is just ask if your dog can come in with you. In fact, it’s always a good idea to ask–even if the store is known to be pet friendly. Rules can change, and some locations have different policies than others.

Where have you gone shopping with your dog?

Ghost Town Hunting in Oregon

Hunting for Ghost Towns

I am fascinated by old places. I’ve written about the pioneer camp I attended as a child, and I did my senior honors thesis on the history of abandoned towns in Minnesota. Some of my treasured memories of family trips to Colorado include seeing some amazing abandoned mining villages preserved by the dry climate there.  So when I was driving to California, I made sure to look for ghost towns along the way – and I found an Oregon ghost town called Golden. (I also found an old town that was quite unabandoned but worth a look — more on that here).

History of Golden, Oregon

This city was founded in 1860 as a gold rush town. It was unique because it had two churches and no saloons. Its inhabitants fluctuated as gold was found in other areas nearby. By 1920, the post office closed. Today, you can visit Golden to see a glimpse into a mining town that was built during the gold rush.

Visiting Oregon ghost town Golden

Today, Golden is an Oregon State Heritage Site. There’s a paved road you can drive to get there from Coyote Creek, which makes it much more accessible than many other similar abandoned towns of the west. In Idaho, I attempted to drive to Silver City but the roads were too dangerous at that time of year and I chose (wisely, I think) to turn back. So I was happy to find the town of Golden just a short drive from I-5, near the town of Coyote Creek.

A true Oregon Ghost Town

Even though Golden is on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s so easily accessible, it still feels very much like a ghost town. There’s no other buildings around, and nothing has been restored since 1950 when the church was rebuilt. You can even go inside the church and general store. If dilapidated buildings are more your style, there’s an outhouse and other buildings that are collapsing.

Have you ever visited a ghost town?

Summer in Jacksonville, Oregon

visiting Jacksonville Oregon

Visiting Jacksonville Oregon

On the great Road Trip 2017, the last stop we made before California was visiting Jacksonville Oregon. It’s a small town in the Southern part of the state with cute main street with shops. I actually found Jacksonville on a suggested list of ghost towns to visit in Oregon. It’s far from a ghost town, but it is quaint and full of historical buildings. It’s definitely worth a visit!

visiting Jacksonville Oregon

Where to Eat in Jacksonville Oregon

For lunch, I chose a little cafe called The Cheesemonger’s Wife. They had a cheese plate for only $11 that came well stocked with plenty of cheeses, olives, crackers and jam. The restaurant was gluten free friendly and many of the ingredients were local. They made delightful sandwiches and coffee too.

visiting Jacksonville Oregon

What to wear when visiting Jacksonville Oregon

I found Jacksonville to be an Instagrammer’s paradise. The historical details I mentioned earlier include brick facades, antique murals painted on walls, and pretty flower gardens. So put on your best outfits, bloggers! Shop Lilly Pulitzer dresses like the one in these pics here.

visiting jacksonville oregon

Do you have a favorite small town to visit in the summer? Tell me about it in the comments! I’d love to add more destinations to my travel wishlist.

How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Driving Lessons

I’m learning to drive a stick shift!

I’d tried driving stick a handful of times before, without much success. The first time was in a friend’s Honda in Minnesota, then a minivan when I was an au pair in Switzerland, then in a Mini in Italy, then again in Minnesota in a Mazda.  So I can say that I’ve been given driving lessons in three countries and still haven’t learned. But in my defense, 2/3 of those places were pretty hilly.

When I came out to California earlier this summer, I knew that I would eventually have to learn because it’s the only car available to me here. How bad could it be?

It was pretty bad.

I’ve stalled in intersections. I’ve had drivers honk at me. I’ve panicked when a Tesla pulls up right to my bumper when I’m stopped on a hill. I’ve had times when I came really close to giving up trying to learn. But with practice, it’s starting to click.

And I have to tell you, I have so much respect for people who drive stick now. So much respect. If you’ve only driven an automatic, you just have no idea how much harder other drivers are working to do things you take for granted.

I’m still intimidated by the highways here, because California drivers are intense! And as for parallel parking on Steiner Street in downtown San Francisco, yeah that level of expertise is a loooong way off. It’s hard for me to face my fears and take risks, but I’ve got to do it and drive just a little farther every day.

how to get out of your comfort zone

How to get out of your comfort zone and try something new

Here are three things that have helped me so far in my new endeavor that takes me out of my comfort zone every time I get in the driver’s seat.

A calm attitude. When I get impatient or anxious while driving stick, I’m more likely to make sudden movements like releasing the clutch too quickly and stalling.

Put pride aside. It’s okay to be a beginner. I announce it loud and proud with a bright yellow magnet on the back of the car that says “Learning to Drive a Stick Shift.” Seriously, this is the best thing I’ve done while learning to drive stick shift.

Keep going. Giving up is tempting, but most things do get easier with practice. I’m so proud of my ability to drive stick now. I feel more capable and confident having this new skill.

What’s one thing you’ve done to get out of your comfort zone and try something new?

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