The last time I posted about a hike in upstate New York it was when I hiked Stissing Mountain. That was shortly after I returned form the trip around the world. Since then, I have been meaning to hike more around my hometown area.
The day after Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law, Kate, and I decided to digest our turkey and stuffing with a local hike! I searched for a hike with the following features: in the Dutchess County region, challenging enough to burn some significant calories, short enough to accomplish in a few hours, and able to deliver some spectacular views.
Brace Mountain (2,316 ft) matched all my criteria! And it was a beautiful, late autumn day for a hike.
In my last post about things to do in New York City, I focused mostly on what to see as first-timers to NYC. I featured mainly the places and activities I chose to show my then-boyfriend from New Zealand.
In this post, I cover different things to do in the Big Apple. You could say these suggestions are suited for second-timers! But really, you can pick and choose from this list or the last list and be totally fulfilled during your visit!
Included are activities I've experienced on my own and with others. As a former resident and frequent commuter to the city, I've included all kinds of recommendations from my New York adventures.
The last time I visited New Orleans was in July. I didn't make it to NOLA's City Park then because July happened to be the worst month of the year to visit NOLA. It was so hot.
November in NOLA was a totally different story. It was not only the perfect weather, the city was also buzzing with the upcoming holiday season. So I saw all the exciting lights being strung and holiday decorations going up everywhere—including in the park.
The comfortable temperature and holiday atmosphere are why visiting NOLA's City Park in November was such a great experience. It was so great I had to write this post all about it! As always, I have lots of photos to share, including beautiful art, nature, and a surprise holiday lights display!
I was traveling solo again. Erin had left for the West Coast early that morning. I was off to find a new Utah adventure to call my own.
Most people don't realize how huge Zion National Park is outside its main gates. For no park fee, I found dozens of trails around the Kolob Canyons area of the park. One of these trails took me down a lesser-beaten path where I rarely met another hiker.
As a solo traveler, I appreciated bumping into the few travelers I did. But I also basked in every moment I had alone to reconnect with the wilderness.
This past summer, I road-tripped through Northern Arizona. If you've ever been to this area, then you know about interstate highway 89A.
This is not the small, state highway 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff. Interstate 89A runs from Bitter Springs, Arizona to Kenab, Utah. It's known by the state of Arizona as the the Fredonia-Vermilion Cliffs Scenic Road. Why? It passes right by those cliffs and through the town of Fredonia—clever!
There was much to see along this 2-hour stretch of road. There were gorgeous views of rivers and deserts, forests on fire, and rural towns. In this post, I describe these and more of the most notable parts of the drive.
I visited Page, Arizona when I was 12 years old. My experience back then took me to a resort on the shores of Lake Powell. This experience influenced my decision to see Lake Powell again this summer. I am so glad I did!
In my last post, I wrote about visiting Antelope Canyon off Rte 98 on my second day in Page. On my first day, I visited a different location called Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend is so photogenic it's worth walking through the heat of the desert to see it. Unlike Antelope Canyon, there's no cost to go there!
Later in the day, I went to the lake. A hefty park fee almost kept me from experiencing the epic beauty of Lake Powell again. Thanks to my Airbnb host, I was able to swim in it's clear, blue waters once again—and also for free!
It's been 7 months since my last major update! A lot has been going on in my life. And it all ties into a major lesson I learned while traveling solo: Nothing is permanent.
In recent months, unforeseen circumstances forced me to move out of the home I settled into a year ago. Plus, I ended a 2 year relationship.
But now things are looking up. I have worked out a new place to live. I've also gained more travel flexibility despite my full-time career.
I have never had a dive experience quite like the one I had in Hawaii this past January.
I've logged over 30 dives around the world. This has included incredible sights at the Great Barrier Reef, lightning storm dives in Florida, and a near-fatal fight against currents in Bali. After so much diving, I am still having new and unique experiences under the ocean's surface.
This dive tops them all! From shipwreck-dwelling sea turtles to a sunken airplane, I was already incredibly fulfilled on my dives with Ocean Legends in Honolulu. But then a most unexpected arrival came sweeping through: A submarine! Read on—and watch the videos—to re-experience it all with me!
When people think of Hawaii, they don't often think of hiking. They think of beaches, and snorkeling, and surfing. Getting all hot and sweaty walking up mountains is not most people's idea of an island vacation. Even so, Hawaii has some topnotch hiking.
Most tourists who visit Oahu only know about the Stairway to Heaven. A 24/7 guard blocks entry to the hike because it's so dangerous it's actually illegal to hike it. They will fine you up to $1,000 or 6 months in prison if caught. Trust me. You do not have to risk your life or a fine to experience amazing hikes on Oahu. I learned Oahu in particular has some of the best hiking in all the Hawaiian islands. Below are 3 of my favorites with photos highlighting the best features of each.
I love adventurous eating and local cultural food. Hawaii has opportunities for both. Mainly, there’s a wonderful combination of both native Hawaiian foods and Asian cultural influences on Oahu. The Hawaiian food is reminiscent of some of the Polynesian dishes I had in Niue. And the Asian influences come from the large population of Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese, and Korean people living on Oahu. I start with an in-depth description of some of the traditional Hawaiian cuisine I ate. Then I mostly list all of the other must-try foods and places to eat them.
My Airbnb location on Oahu was literally steps from the North Shore beaches. And I took full advantage!
While staying near the town of Haliewa in January, I had the perfect vantage point from which to explore the many beaches of the North Shore. I easily fell right back into the island, beach-bum lifestyle that I had grown to love while exploring Ko Tao, Paihia, Niue, Bali, and other locations around the world.
The North Shore of Oahu is yet another location I have fallen in love with. The only conflict is that there are almost too many beach options! To help with this "problem," I've put together a list of what I think are the top 10 North Shore beaches, including their highlights.
View My Interactive Map of Oahu to easily locate all of these beaches and more!
Before I traveled to Oahu, I did something I hadn't done since my trip to Iceland in 2014. I made a map. And I am super excited to share this map with you all! Why A Map? Because it's a thorough, visual guide to things to do on the island of Oahu. A few weeks before my departure, I perused the internet for the most epic hikes, the prettiest beaches, the top dive and snorkel locations, the most interesting cultural attractions, and the best local foods to eat. This map includes all of the places I found that I thought were worthy to check out. Even if I ran out of time to do it all, it's all there. There are nearly 100 activities listed. I certainly did not have time to do it all, but I did do A LOT. So allow this map to be an introduction of what I will be covering in my upcoming posts about my trip to Oahu.
A few weeks ago, I visited the island of Oahu in Hawaii while a transition of power took place back on the mainland. Former President Obama gave way to the Trump administration. On the day that followed, over 2.5 million people marched for women's rights, human rights, and more across the world.
I marched with Hawaii.
In the middle of my vacation, I drove to Hawaii's state capitol to join over 8,000 others marching. The woman who created the original Facebook invite calling for a march after the election back in November is from Hawaii. So I felt being present at this particular march, the birthplace of the idea, was extra special.
Below, I share photos and video from the march and the rally afterwards which included messages unique to Hawaii and its culture. I also share my perspective as a world traveler participating in this worldwide protest that united cities and even some political opponents.
In February of 2014, I visited Maui for my best friend Erin's wedding. Three years later, I am currently traveling around Oahu! I am super excited to have the opportunity to explore another Hawaiian Island this week.
So, in anticipation of sharing my Oahu adventures on the blog, I wanted to take a look back at the experience I had in Maui. I was maid of honor at the time, so I was mostly busy helping out with the wedding. But, in between wedding plans, I had the opportunity to see a lot of the island. I drove the road to Hana, swam in a waterfall, drove up a volcano, hiked a bamboo forest, explored caves, went whale watching, attended a Hawaiian luau, and lots more.
It was during a time before I had my nicer camera, but I still took tons of photos with my Windows Phone and received some great shots from the friends I was with. Regardless, this photo-centric post will show you what Maui is like and the types of activities that can be enjoyed on a Hawaiian vacation.
Who knew tracking down manatees in a mangrove maze would be so mind-blowing? (I promise that's the only bit of alliteration in this post)
One day in the Florida Keys, Jono and I decided to kayak the mangroves around Islamorada. Two maps were handed to us and we were off. Confident in both our navigational abilities and physical abilities to take us around, we did not anticipate the amount of effort we were about to put into this trip.
In the end, we learned that when other people lay out a path for us, it's not always the clearest one to follow!
In travel or in life, there is a plus side to every failure. That is the lesson I learned from my failed attempts to see alligators with Jono while visiting the Florida Everglades.
This post has 4 failures describing why I did not get to see any alligators in southern Florida. Some of the reasons were beyond my control while others were absolutely my fault.
If your mission is to see alligators, make sure you do not do what I did and learn from my mistakes!
You can go snorkeling in the Florida Keys and have a great time—or you can royally mess up the experience. I did a bit of both. Along the way, I learned what to do and what not to do the hard way.
Follow my tips in this post and you won't make the same mistakes I did. You'll even learn a little trick I learned to get a really cheap boat ride turned snorkeling experience unlike any other!
I went to the Florida Keys to dive the shipwrecks. It's almost the entire reason I went, so it's a good thing I was able to visit 3 different wrecks during my stay.
Since Jono and I were only there for a week, we decided to concentrate our attention on one part of the over 100-mile archipelago. An important part of our planning was picking the optimal location to dive the most shipwrecks. This put us diving off of Key Largo, an excellent decision! But it also meant we missed 5 other shipwrecks found off the coast of the Keys.
This guide will help you decide which ones to see and which ones to skip.
Plans don't always work out—and sometimes that's okay! When the alternative is possibly getting electrocuted underwater, almost any alternative seems preferable.
When your plan goes awry, I find it's best to try to enjoy the moment for what it is because, sometimes, the unexpected can occur. You end up having an amazing time!
This is what happened on my 29th birthday this year. I traveled to the Florida Keys with Jono specifically to go diving. We were all set on the boat for our first dive when a massive storm hit. Instead of getting upset, I sat back, took in the excitement of the storm, and spotted the next best thing in the distance: A pod of dolphins heading straight for us!
Many people visit the Florida Keys each year in order to take advantage of its beaches. The many beach options up and down the over 100-mile Overseas Highway can get pretty overwhelming. That's why I've decided to map out where all the beaches are and help visitors decide which ones would be best to focus on.
For example, some Keys beaches are free and some charge a fee. You may need to balance the experience you'll get with the cost or even the time it will take to drive there.
Whatever the struggle, this post provides details on all the beaches, including my experiences with the ones I visited and a map to locate each one!