John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins – SHAME ON YOU!

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reacts as a lightning hit a nearby building while answering to questions from students of the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) at the Tokyo American Center in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. McCain on Wednesday called on US officials to use their influence over Egypt, as members of Congress remain spilt over whether to cut off military aid to the country. (AP Photo/Franck Robichon, Pool)

As I write this article at 1:30 a.m. on Friday, July 28, I sit here in disgust, wondering why for 7-years, the Republican party campaigned on repealing Obamacare?

We’ve entrusted several of these Republicans to follow through on a campaign promise they’ve been running on since 2010. Well, tonight, three “Republican” senators broke their promise.

Senators McCain (R-AZ), Murkowski (R-AK) and Collins (R-ME) all broke their promise tonight on advancing legislation that would dismantle major portions of Obamacare.

So, what were the senators voting on tonight during this reconciliation process? The final bill presented by Leader McConnell (who I’m not a fan of), was labeled as a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, which would have dismantled the individual and employer mandates, eliminated the Cadillac tax on medical equipment, defunded planned parenthood and much more.

When I worked at CBS Radio, the one thing that stopped me from gaining full time employment was the employer mandate under Obamacare. Several times, management said that every new position that they were offering would be 25 hours-per-week. This was good for them, because it meant they didn’t have to pay more money to offer health benefits to employees. On the other hand, it reduced hours, and the ability for those employees to make more money.

This legislation would have been used as a vehicle to go to conference committee with the House of Representatives. Instead of complaining about this whole process and the failure of these politicians who promised something they couldn’t follow through on, I wanted to point out, that there are parts of Obamacare that I have personally benefited from. Without some of the tax credits, I would not have been able to afford health insurance coverage these past several years.

Before the expected vote on vote-a-rama was canceled, I emailed Sen. McCaskill asking her to sponsor an amendment which would have expanded tax credits to people making below the poverty line in states that hadn’t expanded Medicaid. (But that got nowhere.)

Now that repeal has failed, it’s time to move on to tax reform. It’s just a shame that “Republican” lawmakers like McCain, Murkowski and Collins would vote against repealing federal mandates that tax people for a product they don’t want, and reduce hours of employment for several million people.


The Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls

gorgeThe Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia river. The Gorge is as deep as 4,000 feet, and stretches for nearly 80 miles. The river winds its way westward through the Cascade mountain range.

The Gorge holds federally protected status as a national scenic area called the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

For thousands of years, the Gorge has provided a transportation corridor for thousands of people. In 1805, the Gorge was used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition to reach the Pacific Ocean at their final destination in Seaside, OR.

There are several places along the 80-mile corridor of the Gorge that are worth visiting. The first destination is Crown Point, which is just 15 miles east of Portland.

Crown Point
Vista House lookout at Crown Point.

Crown Point is one of the scenic lookouts along the Columbia River highway, which provides a panoramic view of the Columba River Gorge. It stands a staggering 735 feet above the river and was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1971.

The Vista House is also located at the top of Crown Point. It’s an observatory and also serves as a memorial for Oregon pioneers.

multnomah-12Just east of Crown Point, resides the tallest waterfall in the State of Oregon. Multnomah Falls is a tremendous sight to behold. The waterfall stands at 627-feet tall, but has two distinct drops of 542-feet and 69-feet.

Thousands of tourists come to Multnomah Falls on an annual basis, and have the ability to hike, photograph and enjoy the nature surrounding the falls.

A paved foot trail leads to the Benson Footbridge, a 45-foot-long bridge that allows visitors to cross 105-feet above the lower cascade of Multnomah Falls. The trail continues for roughly a mile up the many switchbacks to a platform at the top of the upper falls. At the top of the upper falls, you can catch a great view of the Gorge.

The Columbia River Gorge is another part of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. Make sure you put the Gorge on your list of places to visit when you’re in the Pacific Northwest!


The Oregon Coast

oregon-coastThe State of Oregon has coastline that runs 363 miles (584 km), from the Columbia river in the north, to the California State border in the south.

The Oregon coast is not a specific geological, environmental, or political entity, but instead includes the entire coast line of Oregon, including the Columbia River Estuary.

The Oregon coast is regarded as three distinct sub-regions. Oregonians consider these three regions to be:

  1. The north coast, which stretches from the Columbia river to the Cascade head.
  2. The central coast, which stretches from the Cascade head to Reedsport.
  3. The south coast, which stretches from Reedsport to the California border.

The largest city on the Oregon coast is Coos Bay, which has a population of 16,000. The most prominent historical site is that of Fort Clatsop outside of Atoria, which was the site of the Lewis and Clark expeditions winter stay on the Oregon coast in 1805-1806.

oregon-coast-2If you love parks, you’re in for a treat! Did you know? There are over 80 state parks and recreation areas along the entire Oregon coast.  The Oregon coast is the location of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which consists of six wildlife refuges, covering 371 acres of 320 total miles.

oregon-coast-3While you’re traveling along the coast, make sure you look out for the local marine life.  There are several species of marine mammals which live along the coast. Those include harbor seals, the Steller’s sea lion, Northern Elephant seal, and California seal.

Do you love whales? Travel to the Oregon coast in late-December and late-March to watch the whale migrations. The species of whale include Orcas, Humpback and Grays.

The Oregon coastal waters are known to have 16 species of shark, which include the Tiger and Great White shark.  A total of 25 people have been bitten by sharks on the Oregon coast since 1900, and all have survived. The most recent incident came in October, 2016.

The Oregon coast is the states’ top tourist destination. Make sure you plan your visit when you’re visiting Oregon!

The Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds

painted-hills-3The Painted Hills are one of three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument located in Wheeler County, Oregon.  The Painted Hills are one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

It totals 3,132 acres and is located just nine miles northwest of Mitchell, Oregon.  If you planning on visiting the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, I suggest staying overnight at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell. You can find rooms as low as $39. painted-hills

If you are heading from the east towards Mitchell, I suggest stopping in Dayville for gasoline, or you’ll potentially be staring at E on your gas gauge before reaching Prineville on your drive west.

The Painted Hills unit offers an abundance of fossils that still remain including early horses, camels, and rhinoceroses.  The best time to visit the Painted Hills unit is in late May.  Come in the evening around 7 p.m. after a thunderstorm. The rain brings out the best colors in the hills.

If you’re looking for a great place to visit without breaking the bank, you’re in luck! The Painted Hills unit is free to the public.

Unfortunately, there are no great places to hike at the Painted Hills unit.  There are some short walkways that allow you to get a better view of the Painted Hills. The longest pathway you can take is roughly a 0.5-mile walk.

painted-hills-2To preserve the land, the National Park Service has put signs along areas that are off limits to tourists. Cross country travel leaves footprints that can last for years destroying the land which gives us the beautiful colors and patterns.

If you are traveling through Central Oregon, make sure you stop at the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Contact: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

32651 Oregon 19 (Sheep Rock Unit), Kimberley, 541-987-2333.


Crater Lake National Park

crater-lakeCrater Lake National Park was founded on May 22, 1902. With a depth of 1,943 feet (592 meters) it is the deepest lake in the United States, and ninth deepest in the world.

Mount Mazama erupted in approximately 5,677 BC, reducing it’s size by about one mile, with its collapsed caldera creating Crater Lake in the process. The caldera created by the eruption at Mount Mazama was 42 times greater than that of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Human interaction with Mount Mazama dates back nearly 7,000 years!

If you’re an avid fisherman, you can find Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout in Crater Lake. There are no fishing permits required to fish in Crater Lake National Park. All waters are restricted to the use of artificial lures and flies only. Private boats or flotation devices are not allowed on Crater Lake. crater-lake-2

The current fee to enter Crater Lake National Park is $15. This pass is good for seven days. The park plans on raising the fee to $25 in 2018.  Although the park fee seems steep, the price of admission is minuscule compared to the scenic wonders and natural treasures you’ll witness on your journey.

While you’re exploring Crater Lake National Park, take a trip to Wizard Island, which is a secondary cone rising over 750 feet above the lake surface. You’ll be able to take in the full beauty of the surrounding lake and deep blue water. crater-lake-3

There is only one place where it is safe and legal to get down to the lake shore. It is the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which usually opens mid to late June. The trail is 1.1 miles long and drops nearly 700 feet down to the lake shore.

If you’re traveling from Portland to Crater Lake National Park, your trip will be roughly 4.5 hours. While on your drive, you’ll be able to see the scenic Umpqua and Winema National Forests. Crater Lake and Crater Lake National Park are one of the Seven Wonder’s of Oregon. Make sure you get out and explore this magnificent destination while on your travels throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The Wallowa Mountains & Wallowa Lake

wallowa-2I first learned about the Wallowa Mountains and Wallowa Lake from the Travel Oregon website. The Wallowa Moutains are one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon, which are a must-see for any traveler.

The Wallowa Mountains and Wallowa Lake are located in Wallowa County & Union County, Oregon. This area was home to the Lower Nez Perce & Chief Joseph.  Joseph, Oregon, is the closest city to Wallowa Lake which stretches over 2.3 square miles.

Wallowa Lake offers some of the best fishing in Eastern Oregon. There are a few different species you can fish for which include Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout (Mackinaw) and Kokanee. The Mackinaw in the lake can reach up to 38 pounds!

wallowa-3“This rugged and beautiful landscape in the northeastern corner of the state offers some of the wildest country left in the Lower 48. The Eagle Cap Wilderness is Oregon’s largest, and within it, the Wallowa Mountains contain 18 peaks over 9,000 feet tall and 31 peaks over 8,000 feet. These mountains have been called ‘The Little Switzerland of America’ by many.” – Joe Whittle
wallowa-1Wallowa Lake is centrally located between Portland, Spokane and Boise. It’s located five and a half hours east of Portland, four hours south of Spokane and just four hours northwest of Boise, ID.  If you’re looking for a great vacation destination located in between these three major cities, you’re in luck with Wallowa Lake!

One of the most popular destinations in the Wallowa Lake region is Mount Howard. The Wallowa Lake Tramway offers rides up to the top of Mount Howard where you can hang glide, hike, and have a bite to eat! The top of Mount Howard offers incredible views of Wallowa Lake, Joseph, Oregon, and the surrounding Wallowa Mountains. Do you love animals? The critters at the top of Mount Howard are always looking for a snack and will eat right out of your hand!

I fell in love with Eastern Oregon and the Wallowa Lake region.  It is a hot spot for craft brews, good eats, and views that will blow your mind.  Make sure you explore this region if you take a vacation to Eastern Oregon!

Visiting Mount St. Helens

st-helensMy first trip to Mount St. Helens was back in March, 2011.  It was nearing the end of winter, so I couldn’t get a good view of the mountain due to lingering snow and clouds.  This was my first time visiting the Pacific Northwest, so I was highly disappointed when I couldn’t see the mountain.

Driving up from Portland or down from Seattle is a pretty easy drive when visiting Mount St. Helens.  The Gifford Pinchot National Forest which was founded in 1908, is truly a sight to behold.  “Geographically the forest is divided into the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, the Mount Adams Ranger District, and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.”

Coldwater Lake, January 2014
Coldwater Lake, January 2014

When you take the Castle Rock exit from “The Five,” as Southern Californians would say, you enter in to the Toutle Valley. After the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, the Toutle River was flooded with volcanic ash that can still be seen today! The devastation the area saw back in 1980 was tremendous.  Today, trees and foliage are still recovering, but much of the destruction can still be seen in certain areas.

The trip to the Johnston Ridge Observatory will take roughly 75 minutes. If you drive up in the summer, you’ll likely have clear skies, beautiful wildflowers along the roadside, and many stops to get out and take pictures.

The two things I love to do when visiting Mount St. Helens are walking around Coldwater Lake (which has some great trout fishing) and hiking down to Spirit Lake up by the Johnston Ridge Observatory.  These two lakes were formed after the eruption in 1980 and are truly some sights to behold.

Coldwater Lake, June 2013

If you live or are vacationing in the Pacific Northwest, I encourage you to visit the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I’ve been eight different times, and I plan to visit even more.

Support Your National Parks

Most of the traveling I’ve done has included trips to our Historic National Parks. I’ve made trips to Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in Washington, Mount Hood in Oregon, Acadia National Park in Maine, and most recently Glacier National Park in Montana.

I’ve chosen to dedicate part of this blog to raise money for the National Park Foundation.  The National Park Foundation supports over 400 National Parks which encompass over 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured ecosystems, landscapes, and historical sites.

acadia“Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation is rooted in a legacy that began more than a century ago, when private citizens from all walks of life took action to establish and protect our national parks. Today, the National Park Foundation carries on that tradition as the only national charitable nonprofit whose mission is to directly support the National Park Service.”

NPS Mission – NPS’s mission is to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”



  • Philanthropy: We believe private resources are critical to embracing America’s national parks, monuments, historic places, and programs.
  • Stewardship: We believe the national parks are treasured resources and that all Americans have a responsibility to understand, protect, and care for them.
  • Outreach: We believe that by engaging people across all ages, races, and backgrounds that we will create the next generation of park supporters.
  • Partnership: We value quality relationships and partnerships that best multiply direct, positive impacts to the National Park Service.
  • Commitment to the National Park Service: We are dedicated to working jointly with the National Park Service, advancing mutually beneficial relationships built on trust, collaboration, and a shared vision for our national parks.
  • Vitality: We make innovative investments and support activities that build a financially and perennially strong Foundation (NPF).
  • Accountability: We place a premium on carefully measuring and clearly communicating how our resources are being invested to support the NPF mission.

I love our National Parks, and I want to make sure that they’re not only protected by my generation, but for future generations, too. If you’d like to donate to the National Park Service, you can do so through their website.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” – Gary Snyder 

What Makes a Gonzaga Education Special?

I have been to the Pacific Northwest on several occasions. Most of my travel included the State of Oregon, Northern California and Western Washington State.

I recently graduated from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. I learned a great deal from many of my professors during my undergraduate studies. Once I left school, I never thought about attending graduate school.  Months later I realized how much I wanted to go back to school to pursue a master’s

I had been working at CBS Radio in Downtown St. Louis at the time. Unfortunately my position was only part-time.  With Missouri ranking near the bottom in economic growth, I though furthering my education would help my standing in the job market. My search for graduate school began in St. Louis. I looked at several different institutions, but none of them offered anything of interest.

Over the next few months, I started looking at online and out-of-state programs. The University of Colorado at Boulder was the first out-of-state institution I looked at.  The campus was massive. I had a hard time navigating around the campus, and became frustrated with the lack of structure and communication with the professors.  Due to cost concerns, I decided to move on.

coloradoI was stuck in a rut. I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate school education, but I just couldn’t find the right one.  That’s when I stumbled across Gonzaga University’s COML Program. It was in December, 2015, that I discovered Gonzaga’s online program.  I remember sitting at CBS Radio filling out the online application on a cold, winter day in St. Louis.

A few days later, I was heading down to Memphis, TN, with my best friend for a Grizzlies-Wizards NBA game.  I received a call from one of the admissions counselors at Gonzaga and they gave me more information about the program.  Once I learned about the College Teaching of Communication emphasis, my eyes lit up. I knew this was the right place to pursue my master’s degree.

I arrived in Spokane on Monday, September 19th. I drove thru town and explored the campus before I went off to Montana for the next few days. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in to the Hemmingson Center early on Thursday morning.  It had been over a year since I had been on a college campus.

Once introductions concluded, I knew I belonged in the Gonzaga community. Thursday was an interesting day. Before we started any of our coursework, we were able to take a tour of the campus. It was an amazing experience learning about the long Jesuit history surrounding the campus.img_2540

The COML program at Gonzaga University provides a great opportunity for those looking to expand their career in the field of leadership and communication.  The professors during the immersion course truly cared about the students and their ability to further their education. My writing skills, communication skills and multimedia skills really improved during my three days on campus.

I think that many of my fellow classmates will agree that the course work was rigorous for only spending three days on campus. We spent over 20 hours in the classroom, but it was well worth it. The best part about the immersion course was getting to create a video which gives me the chance to show people what I’m most passionate about in life.  I’ve been involved in politics in the St. Louis area for the past several years. Getting a chance to showcase what I’m passionate about and how my work can help benefit people in my state and city has been fantastic.

bulldogI’ve struggled with writing and grammar in the past, but Professor Morehouse was able to help me fix a lot of the struggles I had during the immersion course. Dr. Hazel was a tremendous help during the public speaking portion of the class.  There were several different techniques that I learned to help me with public speaking. Whether it was eye contact, posture, how fast/slow I spoke, etc…  So, what makes a Gonzaga education special?

The feeling of belonging to a family on campus makes a Gonzaga education special. The fact that the teachers really care about your success in life is what makes a Gonzaga education special. The way each student helps each other in an area they struggle in is what makes a Gonzaga education special.  I truly love this school, and I cannot wait to finish my master’s degree in  the winter of 2018.

No Sales Tax vs. No Income Tax Debate

debateFour St. Louis area Republicans held a tax debate on Nov. 1st, 2013. Historian Lloyd Sloan, Committeeman Ken Newhouse, Joseph Wetter and State Rep. Andrew Koenig all participated in the debate.

Sloan and Newhouse participated in the debate on the side of No MO Sales Tax while Koenig and Wetter debated on the side of a retail sales tax, or no income tax. The debate, which was held at the Midwest Music Conservatory in Ballwin, MO, saw a packed crowd of over 150. Republicans from all across the St. Louis region traveled to see the debate which was moderated by former senate candidate, John Brunner.

Notable legislators in attendance were State Rep. Don Gosen, former State Senator Jim Lembke and first congressional district candidate, Martin Baker.

During the 90 minute debate, the two sides went back and forth arguing what tax policy is best for the State of Missouri. Sloan said, “People have never heard our side of the story. When was the last time someone in the Missouri legislature fought for a sales tax cut? This is a tax cut no one has ever seen! It’s new, fresh, and it’s a perspective most middle-class families should support.”

In case you missed the debate, you can watch it in its entirety below.