Ellen’s Favorites: July 2021

I’m a day late in posting this, but time is an illusion, so I’m not too worried. Here are some of my favorite things from July 2021, from rainbow hair to the best lip balm ever!

Colorful Hair

Sooooo for most of June and July I had rainbow hair and it was amazing and I would recommend that every single person who has ever thought about doing it…JUST DO IT.

I went to Seattle salon Coupe Rokei for the ‘do in honor of Evening’s Pride month coverage. Keep in mind, this was my very first time getting a “fun” dye job. So while I was excited, I was also low-key terrified I would hate it and have to walk around with eye-catching hair for six weeks.

LOL, that definitely did not happen.

I’ve since returned to Coupe Rokei for a refresh – check out my new look here – but it was such a fun experience that I definitely want to do again at some point in my life.


Graphic Novels

As I’ve mentioned before, I love reading like the Barefoot Contessa loves Jeffrey. However, I’ve always stuck to standard novels rather than graphic novels. Sure, I read Maus and Persepolis in high school, but besides those I’ve strictly stuck to the written word.

UNTIL NOW.

I don’t know what’s going on with me. First rainbow hair, and now a sudden interest in comicbooks? What am I, sixteen and rebelling against my parents?

Anyway, on a whim I picked up the high fantasy graphic novel Monstress. It was such a rich and beautiful story, and the gorgeous illustrations made it even better. It was such a refreshing change, it made me wonder what other options were out there. So, once again on a whim, I dropped some cash on Paper Girls and Something is Killing the Children. Can’t wait to read them.


Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm Peach

Like many, I am a lip balm aficionado. I am constantly searching for the Holy Grail of lip balms to banish chapped lips, my search never-ending and fruitless…

UNTIL NOW.

On a whim (are you sensing a theme here?), I bought the Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm Peach from Target because I like peaches and I was hashtag-influenced by the adorable packaging. I had never really heard of Lanolips, let alone knew what the heck lanolin is.

Surprise! Lanolin is, according to the Lanolips website, “a deeply moisturizing oil naturally occurring in sheep’s wool”. And lemme tell you, those sheepies are doing the Lord’s work by producing that oil in their wool, because this is one of the best balms I’ve ever used. I slap this on my lips at night and wake up with a perfectly moisturized smile.

The peachiness is a scent rather than a flavor, but that doesn’t matter because I am definitely not licking my lips when I use this. I’m cool with lanolin and all, but I’m not trying to ingest oil from sheep’s wool. I mean, no disrespect if you are. This is a judgement free zone.


My favorite reads of 2021 (so far)

Summer is here, I’ve got no air conditioning in my apartment, and I’m reading up a storm! I set a goal for 25 books this year for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I’m about to roll past that. I’m especially proud of this, considering I could barely crack open a book in 2020. It feels good to get lost in another world again. Here are my three favorite reads of 2021 so far:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I got really into Gothic tales this year. I don’t know why it took me so long, because your girl loves eerie mansions, ghosts, mist, and panicked women in long nightgowns searching dark hallways for the spirit of her lost lover. In fact, I have a Gothic horror short story coming out this October in Nocturne Magazine!

Anyway, this book takes the classic Gothic story and sets it in Mexico, as you might’ve guessed from the title. Oh, and this book. IS. JUICY. A fantastic combo of scandalous, sexy and downright creepy. Pretty much every Gothic trope is in this book, which I consider a compliment. And I love the protagonist. Noemí Taboada is a wonderfully refreshing bright spot in a gloomy world. You’ll be cheering her on the entire read.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

YA Fantasy is my jam. I mean, I even wrote my own YA fantasy book which I’m currently pitching to agents! But books in this genre tend to follow similar scenarios and tropes – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always refreshing to find a unique book that blows you away.

And BOOM, this is that book. It took me a few chapters to get into it – it has a bit of a slow start – but once I was in…I was in. Girl, Serpent, Thorn has a great premise, is chockfull of detailed world-building based off of Indian mythology, and has a dreamy romance. Bonus points for how much the main character grows through this book. A solid growth arc is always satisfying.

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

This novella grabs you by the collar, yanks you along and doesn’t let go until you’ve finished the book. Without giving too much away, this is about three Black women fighting the Ku Klux Klan. Except the KKK aren’t just the KKK. They’re monsters who feed on hate, and our hero, Maryse Boudreaux, is intent on bringing them down with her magical sword. Oh, and she also smuggles magical whiskey with her two friends, two amazing women I wish were real people. Because they’re awesome.

If you want action, a wildly imaginative story, meaningful commentary on bigotry and racism, and characters so lovable you literally grip your Kindle out of fear for their lives, then Ring Shout is your book. It blew me away!

What’s New: Emmy win and book news!

Hello, everyone! It’s summer in Seattle and life is good. The nights are long, the days are warm(-ish) and everyone has emerged from their dark apartments to frolic in the rare sunlight. It’s been an exciting summer so far- here’s what’s going on!

I won an Emmy!

Okay, so technically it’s a Northwest Regional Emmy. But it’s still an Emmy.

Anyway, I won my first Emmy! I won along with three other KING coworkers for our work on Evening’s “New Year’s at the Needle” special. It was such an amazing night, and I felt so honored to receive the award along with two very hard working producers! There were a ton of people who made the show happen, so it was truly a team effort.

The event itself was also really fun. At some point during the night, regrettably, I used the pointy end of one of the Emmy’s wings to pick up a french fry. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Other people were doing it at the table. Peer pressure, you know?

If you’re wondering, the dress is from Rent the Runway. I really wanted to emulate a disco ball for my look that night. Did I succeed?

Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove is here!

The short story anthology Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove is officially HERE! You can buy it on Amazon. My flash fiction piece “You Can’t Go Back” is featured in the anthology.

There’s a lot of great stories in the book, so I’d highly recommend picking up a copy! The eBook version is only $5, so if you’re looking for a cheaper version, the eBook is a perfect choice.

That’s all of the updates for now, but check back in soon for more! And of course, you can follow along on all the social media sites.

Cheers!

What’s New: Book News & More!

Hi everyone! Hope you’re having a lovely beginning of spring! I thought posting the occasional “What’s New” would be a good way to update y’all on what projects I’m working on, and when they’re coming out! So, drum roll please…

Pre-Order Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove!

  • MY SHORT STORY IS GETTING PUBLISHED! You can find my story, “You Can’t Go Back”, in the upcoming short story anthology Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove. It comes out on May 7th, but you can pre-order it RIGHT HERE! It would mean a lot to me if people read the book- I got a sneak peek, and it’s filled with amazing stories!
Each story takes place over the course of 5 minutes in the fictional Hotel Stormcove.

“Upgrade Your Man” with my new flash fiction piece!

  • My first piece of flash fiction, “Upgrade Your Man“, was published in Aether/Ichor a few weeks ago! Fun fact- “flash fiction” is a piece of writing under 1,000 words. It’s a fun challenge, and I love writing it!

And…goats are awesome.

Note the sheer, unbridled joy on my face as I’m surrounded by baby goats

Thanks for checking in, everyone! And, as always, you can follow me on all of the delicious social media sites for more updates and shenanigans.

Getting Published + Where to Find the Book

Greetings, friends! Exciting news!

One of my short stories will be published in an upcoming anthology, called Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove. You can pre-order it right here. The book comes out in May.

And a beautiful cover to boot!

It’s such a cool concept for a short story collection- all the stories happen at the fictional Hotel Stormcove, and must take place within the span of 5 minutes. There’s a lot of great writers featured in the collection. I’m incredibly grateful to the publisher, Atthis Arts, for publishing my first short story.

Writing fiction is such a passion of mine, and I hope to publish more pieces in the future. I’ll keep y’all updated on where you can find my writing!

 

A Trip to Victoria, BC

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

I’m coming up for air after a whirlwind three months in Seattle, working for KING 5’s Evening show! How do I like my new job? As an international fast food corporation once said: I’m lovin’ it. No, McDonalds did not sponsor this post. But if they’d like to give me some fries for my free press, I’ll gladly accept them.

More on Seattle soon. First, I want to share a little video I made when I recently visited the city of Victoria in British Columbia.

Music by Incompetech.

This was my first time in Victoria. When I traveled to Vancouver, my mom and I asked one of the locals about Victoria- was it a good place to visit? His response was lukewarm.

Boy, I sure am glad we didn’t listen to the advice of a total stranger. Victoria is a lovely little city with a European flair. Seriously, I felt like I’d teleported to England when I stepped off the boat…which makes sense, because the city is named after England’s Queen Victoria. It’s a decidedly British city. Boats bob on the rocky coastline, high tea is served at The Fairmount Empress hotel. Queen Victoria herself, immortalized in stone, judges you from the front lawn of the Parliament building.

There she is! Always watching you.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest and want to visit our Northern neighbor, I’d definitely recommend a little jaunt to Victoria.

My Tinnitus Story

In Spring 2018, the American Tinnitus Association published my article about my experience with tinnitus. They gave me the okay to publish the full article on my blog so more people can see it.

I wanted to republish this because so many people have reached out to me since reading my article. I hope that spreading it further will help more people with tinnitus.

Here’s the full, unedited article, originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of Tinnitus Today.


Pursuing Dreams, Life, and Joy, Despite Tinnitus

By Ellen Meny

I can’t believe I’m writing this.

Even now, the idea of me doing this is shocking. Up until about a year ago, I couldn’t even see the word “tinnitus” without an icy spike of fear going up my spine.

Every time I saw that word, I was thrown back to Clemson, South Carolina, standing in the hallway leading to my bedroom. I remember the smell of a lived-in college apartment, the springy carpet under my ratty sneakers. It was February 2014. I’d just finished a solid workout, and I was about to hop in the shower and get on with my day when…

It happened. You all know what I’m talking about. Both ears. Medium pitch. Relatively quiet.

The rest is a rush and painful to think about. It comes in flashes of memory that still make me feel sick, even years later. I remember the animal panic that short-circuited my mind as the hissing ring in my ears picked up and continued, lingering like an unseen alarm. What was happening to me? It was so bizarre and unexpected. I couldn’t process it. Something very delicate and very sharp had snapped inside of me.

My friends were in class. My family was hundreds of miles away.

It was the most alone I’ve ever felt in my life.

I always feel odd saying that – guilty, even, because I think of all the worse things that can happen to a person. But I know tinnitus isn’t as simple as that – it robs someone of silence and attacks their quiet time, their sleep, their conversations. For some, it’s like a train roaring in their head without end. For me, although my tinnitus is relatively quiet, it preyed upon something that I was already dealing with in my life: anxiety.

I’ve always tried to control the parts of life I can – to make the world a little less uncertain and scary. But tinnitus was like the personification of my anxiety, the ultimate test – I couldn’t control it. I’d done nothing to trigger it. It could get worse over time. And there was no cure.

After the initial shock, came doctor’s visits filled with waiting rooms smelling vaguely of disinfectant. Each appointment featured cool, plastic instruments inserted into my ear. My shoulders would shoot up to my neck when I felt the scratch against the shell of my inner ear, fearing the slight tampering would make my tinnitus worse.

At first, I wanted a solution. I prayed the doctor would step back and say I had an ear infection or some bizarre allergy that prompted the tinnitus. Either way, the doc would present a cure.

After several different doctors, a perfect hearing test and some well-meaning suggestions for vitamins that didn’t help, it became clear I wouldn’t get that cure I was looking for.

Each visit ended the same way. The doctor sitting back on his wheeling stool, slightly crushed by years of use. His expression was flat, but his tone was always reserved and light, like he was an ice cream parlor employee about to tell me they were out of chocolate.

He didn’t know what caused it. It could’ve been a jaw issue or a low-grade ear infection. He wasn’t sure.

It might go away. It might not. It might get worse.

I’m not sure.

I’m sorry.

Even after I realized a cure wasn’t going to happen, I still searched for a doctor who would understand my emotional struggle and lend an understanding ear regarding my own ears. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen – whether it was because I chose the wrong doctors, or because I’m a young woman, or something else entirely, I’m not sure.

At the time, I was the only person I knew who had chronic tinnitus. I could only get so much support from my friends and family at the start, so, after I failed to find professional support in my “real” life, I went online. Unfortunately, my first foray into the online tinnitus community wasn’t the American Tinnitus Association website, which is filled with accurate information and resources to get help.

Instead, thanks to a mixture of morbid curiosity and misguided intent, I found myself on random internet chatrooms for people affected by tinnitus. They were filled with concerned friends and family members, and sufferers themselves, fraught with terror. Every message was helpless and scared, often mentioning suicide. The worst-case scenario, it seemed, was the only scenario in the world I’d stumbled into.

It was like peering into the future, discovering my inevitable fate. My anxiety fed into this rhetoric like a flood. Would that happen to me? Surely, it would. I’d already developed chronic tinnitus at age 20, what chance did I have?

I finally quit my “research” after my mom talked some sense into me, but the damage was done. Every time I happened to see the word “tinnitus,” a cold rush of terror would come over me, and I was back in that hallway. Every loud noise – the bang of pots and pans, a car horn – was a golden opportunity for my tinnitus to get worse. To put it bluntly, I was a mess.

And then, slowly, I became less of a mess.

I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment I started sleeping soundly through the night, or the first time a motorcycle roared past me and didn’t leave me worried the rest of the day. Small victories like those came and went, but they all came from the same place. I started habituating to my tinnitus, and I realized something.

I wanted to feel like myself again.

This wasn’t a passive recovery. After several months of sleepwalking through life, I knew I had to wake up. I had too much to do at the time and too much I wanted to do in the future. I had to finish college, follow my dreams into the world of broadcast journalism, find a cute apartment in some faraway city and some equally cute guy. I couldn’t control my tinnitus, but I could control how I responded to it.

I started seeing a therapist who specialized in tinnitus, a commitment with a 45-minute weekly commute in rural South Carolina. We talked about coping mechanisms, treatment options, and how my anxiety magnified my tinnitus. How when I drank alcohol, my tinnitus got worse – and when he imbibed, his tinnitus went away. I saw that therapist for a relatively short time, but I walked away in a much better mental and emotional state.

I opened up to my family and friends more. My mom was there for every late-night call, every weepy worry, and dash of uncertainty. When I went to a concert with my friends, earplugs in hand, they made sure I was comfortable as we got closer to the front of the stage.

After I finished therapy, I bought a book on anxiety, and I knew I had to commit to managing my anxiety, as well as understand how tinnitus affected it. I chose to manage my anxiety through my lifestyle. I started exercising again and caring about what I ate. Slowly, I felt in control again, like the world wasn’t going to crumble around me at any possible moment.

But, the last thing to go, the last bastion of my terror, was my fear of the word “tinnitus.”

About a year ago, now on the other side of the country and working for a local television station, I went to the gym for a quick workout. On my way to the treadmill, I passed a rack of magazines. Like a bizarre superpower, I sensed the word immediately, front and center on a glossy magazine cover.

TINNITUS TODAY.

The familiar fear made me feel like I was sinking under water. Even in the gym, of all bizarre places, I couldn’t escape it. It was almost funny.

I was almost tempted to pick it up, but I wasn’t ready yet.

Now, I am.

And that’s why I can’t believe I’m writing this article – because four years ago, even one year ago, it would’ve been impossible to relive my trauma so many times or become so intimate with the word tinnitus. I would’ve broken down on the first sentence.

Now, I truly feel like a stronger person having gone through and survived such a traumatic personal event. Even though my tinnitus still makes me anxious sometimes, I’ve built up the self-care skills to manage my anxiety.

My friends, family, and boyfriend are still the main people I go to when my tinnitus gets tough. I exercise regularly and try to stick to a healthy diet, despite my love for Mexican food and doughnuts. I keep myself busy with creative projects, work, friends, and family. When quiet time is no longer literally “quiet” time, I find it better to keep active and engaged.

In the past, I’ve considered the word “habituation” as something negative –

living with something, resigning oneself to it. But now, I realize that’s not the case. Habituation means going through something you thought would ruin your life and emerging from it with the realization that you can survive and flourish, despite the challenges. For me, it’s returning to my hopes and dreams for the future and making them a reality, despite the added struggle of tinnitus.

I’m not going to lie – bringing back these memories is still challenging for me. The pain has softened over time, but it’s still there. Even so, writing this article shows me how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked to come out of my diagnosis mentally and emotionally stronger.

Everyone’s story is different, but this is mine. And if I can convince one person that they can survive, work towards feeling better, and end up okay four years down the road?

Writing this article was worth it.

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Have questions about tinnitus? Head to the American Tinnitus Association’s website. They have accurate information, access to support groups, and cultivate a positive environment.

New City, New Job, New Blog Post!

Hello there!

Long time no see, right? It’s been a minute…

Well, I won’t keep you waiting. I moved and got a new job!

I am now part of KING 5’s Evening Magazine team in the beautiful city of Seattle, Washington.

Evening Magazine airs at 7:30pm PT, Monday through Friday. It’s a show about everything Pacific Northwest- the people, the places and the food that makes Seattle (and beyond) so unique!

I’ll be reporting, shooting and producing for the show. My formal title is Multi-Platform Producer. I’ve already been able to see some pretty cool sights thanks to my job- like this $18 dollar hot dog at Deep Dive bar!

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Yes, that’s caviar on a hot dog!

Will I continue running this blog? You bet! What will I post? Pretty much what I post now- whatever I want!

Thanks for reading this slightly self-indulgent post. Now, back to unpacking. I promise I’ll have some meatier content soon. Meatier than an $18 hot dog? We’ll see.

What to Eat, See and Do in Vancouver, BC

Oh, Canada! You’re so awesome.

I visited Vancouver, BC for a long weekend in July. I’ve been to Canada once before- I visited Montreal when I was very young. Unfortunately, my only lasting memory of the trip involves a shopkeeper angrily berating me in French. I forget why.

So, I was excited to return to our Northern neighbor- and Vancouver did not disappoint. Travel guides often describe Vancouver’s waterfront as stunning and “glassy”. I didn’t quite understand the description until I visited. The city’s wide waterfront sparkles with bright, glimmering buildings.

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I feel like Vancouver is as close as I’m going to get to visiting a literal utopia. Or, at least, a city that looks like one.

Everything was clean. Everyone was polite and friendly. There’s a ton of fantastic food. It’s a diverse, multicultural city with incredible culture and a love for the outdoors. The waterfront sidewalk is split in two- one side for pedestrians, the other side for bikes. And people actually followed the rules! Which is truly a testament to the city.

Okay, I’m rambling. If my weird city-worship has convinced you to visit to Vancouver, the least I can do is give you some recommendations on what to eat, see and do in the fair city.

Granville Island Public Market

Seattle has Pike Place Market, Vancouver has Granville Island Public Market. This popular attraction sits across from Vancouver’s waterfront, on Granville Island. Hop on one of the convenient Aquabus boats and explore the public market.

img_3656Much like Pike Place Market, the market is colorful and loud and wonderful. Fruit and vegetable vendors wedge their stands together in narrow aisles, piling cherries in tiny pyramids to show off for shoppers. Bouquets of fragrant, blooming flowers at astoundingly low prices decorate florist stalls. And fish. Lots of fish!

I’d recommend getting there right when it opens to beat some of the crowds, especially on the weekend. Be sure to stop by Lee’s Donuts while you’re there, and get the Honey Dip donut. They’re almost always served warm, and they’re good for your soul. Your body? Debatable. But really, the soul is what matters in the end.

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Miku

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If you’re looking for incredible seafood and sushi in Vancouver, Miku is the place to go.

It’s a sleek, stylish restaurant right on the Burrard Inlet, a popular waterfront area. They specialize in Aburi sushi. Translated directly, aburi means “flame-seared”. The chefs take a blow-torch and a piece of coal to the top of the sushi, searing the fish lightly. What results is a really unique, rich flavor, complimented by the different sauces they use.

It’s an expensive restaurant, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. This is a distinctly Vancouver experience, and if you want to treat yourself to an amazing meal, go here. The food, the view of the waterfront- it’s all fantastic! The cover photo for this post is from Miku.

Bella Gelateria

Bella Gelateria is world famous. I didn’t know that when I stopped by, though. I was just looking for the nearest ice cream shop, because I wanted ice cream and have zeroimg_3820 self-control when it comes to food.

Bella Gelateria has won dozens of gelato competitions, been consistently voted “Number One Gelato/Ice Cream in Vancouver”, and even won “Best Gelato in North America” in the Gelato World Cup. The Italian Consulate of Canada has also given it their seal of approval, and it gets mine as well!

Their gelato is rich, creamy, fabulous stuff. And they have a host of interesting flavors! I got Black Sesame and Matcha Green Tea, because I’m a sucker for pretty food and unique flavors.

Vancouver Water Adventures

Boats are everywhere in Vancouver- little Aquabus boats zipping up and down False Creek, kayakers gliding on the water, houseboats hugging the side of Granville Island. So, it’s only fitting that you take a boat tour of a boat city.

Vancouver Water Adventures is a great option. I took the City and Seals Tour, an hour and a half tour that takes you past Vancouver’s most well-known spots. We swung around places like Siwash Rock, Lions Gate Bridge, and Vancouver’s nearby seal colony. And yes, there were plenty of adorable seals! They’re just so darn cute, I can’t get over it. They’re basically dog mermaids.

The company uses Zodiac boats, which is apparently the same type of boat used by the Coast Guard in Vancouver. I felt pretty safe jumping into one of those.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park is 1000 acres of lush greenery, quiet beaches and beautiful views. It’s oneimg_3756 of Vancouver’s main tourist destinations, and for a good reason. It houses Canada’s largest aquarium, as well as one of the city’s most famous icons, Siwash Rock. Pictured here! Ignore me.

The best way to see Stanley Park is on foot. A walk/bike path winds around the perimeter of the park, along Vancouver’s seawall. On a sunny, warm day, you’ll see plenty of people enjoying the weather- but even when I went on a beautiful Saturday, I never felt too overwhelmed with crowds.

You can get your exercise in, and see one of Vancouver’s most famous sites! Win-win.


Thanks for reading! If you can’t make it up to Vancouver, but can swing by Oregon, I’ve also got you covered. Here are some of my favorite restaurants in Eugene, as well as my favorite place to view waterfalls in Oregon.

Happy travels! Oh, and always remember–

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Where to Find Some of the Best Waterfalls in Oregon

Oregon is clearly Mother Nature’s favorite child.

How could a state have so much green, so many waterfalls, such a variety of incredible nature…and not be a favorite? Sure, the rain can be an issue sometimes, but as someone once told me: “We need the rain- that’s what keeps Oregon so green!”

Now that our land is a little dryer and a little warmer, it’s time to get outside. If you’re looking for waterfalls this summer, I recommend heading to Silver Falls State Park.

Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon. It boasts 10 waterfalls and a whopping 9,200 acres of land, which includes miles of trail, a restaurant and lodge, and plenty of parking. And yes! They have bathrooms.

The park is hidden away in Sublimity, at the end of rolling country roads. Depending on where you’re coming from, you might lose phone service and internet along the way- so download a map or follow the signs.

The main hike that allows you to see all 10 waterfalls is a 7.2 mile loop, and considered a moderate hike. I did the slightly shorter hike, a 5.1 mile loop that took me around (and under) plenty of incredible waterfalls.

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The path snakes around massive, gorgeous waterfalls, takes hikers on bridges over South Fork Silver Creek, and leads you through quiet, green woodland. The path even dips behind some waterfalls, into half-moon canyons coated with moss. Standing so close to the crashing curtain of water and cool spray is an experience like no other.

A piece of advice- if you can, arrive early! I arrived at 9:30am to a relatively empty park. However, by the time I left at 1:30pm, the parking lot was almost full and the trails were getting crowded. The early morning allows for a quieter, peaceful hike- if you can stand the early wake-up call.

There’s a ton of amazing waterfalls in Oregon. But if you’re looking for a great hike and views like the one below? Head to Silver Falls State Park.

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What’s your favorite place to hike on Oregon? Favorite waterfall? Comment below or drop me a line right here. And if you’re hankering for another Oregon adventure, check out my blog post on the famous Blue Pool!

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