I am a little later than I had hoped for this, but I wanted to do the same thing as last year and review 2018 in photos (here is the link to 2017’s year in pictures). I think this is such a fun way to look back on the year and remember all that has happened. I will sat that 2018 was filled with more challenges than 2017 but there were also some major life changes and fun adventures. I hope to do a bigger reflection post on this in the future but for now, here was my year in pictures:
I am so thankful for all the opportunities I had in 2018 and for all the people who have been in my life (and who I met!). I look forward to continuing to grow and challenge myself in 2019.
Cute dogs and gorgeous fall days are definitely recipes for perfection. There is an amazing amish market just a short drive from where we are so we frequent it often. They have amazing cheeses and you can try every single one. The cheese is the biggest reason we go. They also have a great bakery and a deli with some of the best sandwiches but it gets so crowded on the weekends. This time they had all their pumpkins out which got me very excited for halloween. If you have never been to an amish market I highly recommend checking it out! Many areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana are bound to have them. This time we took this adorable dog with us for a fun little adventure afterwords.
We went to Hoosier Hill, which is technically the highest point in Indiana (although it may not look like it. The drive is beautiful with quant little towns and lots of farms rolling over the hills. I realized that the spot would be perfect for a bonfire and picnic. There are some small trails but it is definitely a better spot to come roast marshmallows with some friends. There are some interesting, back road, places to explore and discover especially in this fall season.
This past weekend brought many adventures, one of which was a trip to one of the antiquing capitals of the US. We drove through several towns along highway 40 to get the the small but rather well known Cambridge City. There is an abundance of antique shops lining the main streets. Our first stop was the one little shop that sells ice cream, fudge and other delicious treats. Main Street Sweets is so picturesque and you can even get lunch! We got ice cream since it was so hot out. After enjoying this adorable little shop we moved on through the antique shops lining Main Street. Almost every shop sold antiques and multiple vendors were housed in each shop.
I am not really in a place to be buying big things but this is such a worth it place to visit to find those decor gems. I bought two little vintage bird cards but had my eye on so many things! There were some great old hat boxes, clutches and pins that caught my eye and I am sure I will be back for another visit. I highly recommend checking it out if you are driving along I-70. Centerville is just ten minutes down the road and also has quite the number of antique shops and a few worth it restaurants.
At the end of June I went on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico with some of my family. It was such a blast and I definitely fell in love with the city. If you have never been I highly recommend it, the food is amazing and the art is definitely beyond words. Here is our daily itinerary! I will also add some other recommendations I received from friends even though we weren’t able to fit everything in.
Day 1: Drove down from Colorado and arrived at our hotel, La Posada around 2:30pm. The drive from the Denver area takes about six hours. We spent time just exploring the hotel and hanging out at the pool before heading to diner. We went to Mucho Gusto for diner which was recommended by a friend. The restaurant was just a five minute walk from our hotel and the New Mexican food was delicious. Before heading to bed we enjoyed some hot tub time.
Day 2: It was Saturday so we took La Posada’s shuttle to the Farmer’s Market at the Santa Fe Railyard. There was an artisan market going on as well with fairly affordable jewelry and art. The Farmer’s Market was definitely one of the biggest I have been to with amazing vendors. The Railyard in general is definitely a must! After some cider slushies and delicious bread we walked down Guadalupe Street which has incredible shops and some really great thrift stores (Double Take on Guadalupe and Aztec has a great selection). We were walking towards the Georgia O’Keefe museum when we found the Terracotta Wine Bistro just in time for lunch. The food was amazing! I had the best bruschetta with all sorts of spreads and their cold cucumber soup of the day. The wine was also incredible. From here we went to the Georgia O’Keefe museum which is definitely a museum worth the money. Her paintings are just so inspiring and I learned a lot about how she struggled with conforming to the current standard for artists and in order to keep her passion alive she needed to do something different (hence her unique style). On the way back to our hotel we walked through the plaza which is a great shopping location. Music was playing and there is also a lot of art here. For dinner we ended up eating at our hotel’s restaurant, Julia’s however we did have reservations at Restaurant Martin because some friends recommended it to us. Both are on the more expensive side but the food was amazing. We ate dessert first (not sure that was the best idea) but we were psyched about the cheesecake and chili chocolate mousse We jumped in the hotel pool to finish our day.
Day 3: Just after we started walking into town we found the French Crêperie which we spotted the day before se we decided on crepes for breakfast. This place was delicious but very crowded, we were really lucky to get a table. It is definitely worth it though, I shared one sweet and one savory crepe with my sister and both were delicious ( I think the savory-chorizo was my favorite though). We spent most of the day walking around the center of town, shopping and enjoying all the art. There are great open markets all around downtown, which are very affordable. The boutiques around the plaza are expensive and high end but they have some great art, jewelry and clothing (we mostly window shopped here). There are some great places with extensive hat collections and really pretty dresses and skirts. Walking around in the heat definitely took the energy out of us but we made a stop at the Kakáwa Chocolate House for an energy boost. This place was highly recommend by friends who live in Santa Fe and it definitely met the mark. They were great about samples so even though I didn’t want to order an entire cup of the drinking chocolate (their specialty) I was able to try several different flavors. The rose infused chocolate was my favorite but the chili was good as well. It is dark chocolate so its not as sweet as I expected which I really liked. Most of us ended up ordering ice cream because it was so hot out. If you get ice cream get hot fudge on top, it was the best hot fudge I have ever had. Our final adventure was a trip to Meow Wolf. This ‘exhibit’ is gaining popularity but if you are unfamiliar it is an interactive art exhibit in Santa Fe. It is so hard to explain but it is built in an old bowling alley and you are trying to figure out a mystery and at the same time the entire thing is an art exhibit. It was also recommended by friends and is so worth the experience. We ate dinner at Rooftop Pizza which is in the plaza. Another friend gave me this recommendation and I am so glad we went. The are more options than just pizza but the pizza itself is all really unique and delicious. We sat outside and got to enjoy a gorgeous view and sunset.
Day 4: Our last day was mostly the drive home however we did stop in Taos to visit the Taos Pueblo village. This was definitely an interesting stop and I am glad we went. It is very interesting because there is so much history involved in this town but it is also currently inhabited so it was so important to be respectful. We ate lunch at a restaurant just at the edge of town before driving the rest of the way back.
To do next time: Visit The Santa Fe Lavender Farm. This didn’t work out for us this time because we had limited time and the days they are open didn’t match up well for us. Make sure you check their hours first.
Other food recommendations: We really wanted to go to Tomasita’s for dinner because it was highly recommended but they closed on Sunday which we were pretty bummed about (three people recommended it separately). I was told to order a “swirl.” Tia Sophia’s was recommended to me for breakfast/brunch and we did pass it while walking, it is right downtown. Coyote Cantina apparently has great food and amazing views of downtown. Jambo is a really good African restaurant but it isn’t right downtown. I have also heard that the Tea House is a great lunch place (or coffee/tea).
For many people Colorado is seen as an outdoorsy, hiking destination. The mountains definitely live up to their reputation and probably exceed it. Many hikes are incredibly difficult especially on the well-known 14,000 foot mountains scattered throughout the state. There are a few however that are very suitable for beginners both in length and difficulty. I would note that these are the hikes that I have seen lots of people get altitude sickness on. If you are traveling from out of town (or think you might get altitude sick) be especially cautious when designing your itinerary and remembered that it is always better to turn around if a member of your group is very sick, even if that means you will not reach the summit. Here are the two best 14,000 foot mountains, in my opinion for beginners:
Mount Bierstadt. This Colorado mountain sits at 14,065ft tall and is located just south of the mountain town Georgetown (about an hour west of Denver). This is easily the shortest hike of all the 14er’s I have climbed. This is a shorter hike because you drive so far up, starting at a much higher elevation but beware because parking here can be difficult. Because it is easy and one of the most accessible it is very crowded, especially on weekends. I would say as long as you start early (which is necessary on a fourteener anyways due to the variable weather) you will be totally fine and stress free. The climb itself is steadily uphill since you start so high. It took our group about four hours to do the whole thing and spend time at the summit.
Grays and Torres. These are separate 14,000 foot peaks but most people do them both together since they are very close together, separated only by a short saddle. This hike is definitely longer, taking us around six hours to do both peaks. It is a total of 8 miles from the trailhead up and back down. This one can also be crowded depending on the weather so I again recommend getting an early start. The other great thing about these mountains is that they are also relatively close to Denver with an hour and half drive to the trailhead.
Both of these hike are incredibly beautiful with amazing 360 degree views of the mountain ranges. I highly recommend climbing one of these peaks if you are up for the physical challenge because those views are definitely worth the challenge!
Most people would not think of Nebraska as a destination. It is more often that long state you drive through to get to places like Colorado, Tetons, Utah etc… Cornfields line the roads for hundreds of miles great a flat and uniform landscape. It is generally a predictable place that is not known to be necessarily exciting and fun. In Nebraska’s far west just before reaching Wyoming are the Nebraska sand hills. Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge is about 30 miles north of the small town, Oshkosh and south of Alliance. Although it is not a sublime place is is rather picturesque and serene. There is so much incredible wildlife and so many adventures to be had. Although many may still not chose this as a destination I highly recommend stopping by if you are driving through.
We were up there helping a professor with some research but regardless of who you go with, there is lots of wildlife to see. We took several drives around the refuge and found lots of mud turtles, painted turtles, several species of lizards and lots of birds. The sunsets and sunrises are beautiful! I didn’t get any pictures but here is the link to a previous post I did with pictures from the last trip I did.
I just got back from the most incredible trip to the Bahamas! Here is a short version of our daily itineraries.
Day 1: We flew out super early in order to maximize our first day in Nassau. We arrived at 11:00am and got to the Atlantis marina by lunchtime. We had some time to spare before setting sail so we hit the pool and walked around for a while. Around 4:00 everyone had arrived and we were ready to leave. Boating out of Nassau was interesting because there were so many ships, big houses and palm trees. Our destination was pretty far so we all took naps as the boat rocked back and forth through the open waters. I woke up around 8:30pm to the most amazing conch chowder, which was a great way to start at boating trip! We had arrived at our destination.
Day 2: This was the official start to our research in the Exumas. We pulled up close to Leaf Cay where we would begin our research. One of the captains drove us over to the island in the skiff. Our professors taught us how to catch and process iguanas and we hit the ground running. The island was beautiful with a long stretch of beach which we worked on for most of the day. This island in particular gets a lot of tourists coming to see and feed the iguanas. We caught and process 149 iguanas in our first day which was pretty amazing!
Day 3: The winds were very clam so we took the opportunity to go to Flat Rock Cay which is an island that is much more exposed to heavy winds and big waves. The beach is also harder to pull up to, requiring calm winds. The island is very beautiful and there are some of the most amazing shells I have ever seen here. The iguana population is much smaller on this island and the weather turned pretty nasty halfway through the day limiting our iguana catching abilities. It started to rain hard and we tried to wait it out but it just kept coming so we ran back to the skiff and rode back to the Beacon Won. In the afternoon skies cleared giving way to great swimming weather and an amazing sunset.
Day 4: Our research team split in two to cover more ground and my group went back to Leaf Cay. We caught lots of iguanas and had some really great time to swim.
Day 5: We hit Leaf Cay once last day. It was an incredibly successful day in terms of research but the evening definitely took a turn for me. I was netting iguanas with a professor when I fell into a hole, spraining my ankle pretty badly. Other than this though the day was an amazing one!
Day 6: Due to my injury the day before I stayed on the boat for the day and assisted the Utah State professor and graduate student with their lab research. It was interesting to learn about their research and protocols. We took a swim in the blue Caribbean waters in the afternoon to break from all that lab work.
Day 7: This was the second day for the group on U Cay. It is a beautiful island that has a long sandy beach and incredible tide pools. I spent some time in the morning exploring the tide pools for a long day of processing. It was a great place for swim breaks though! We say an eagle ray swimming through the clear blue waters right near us. A group of us swam back to the boat which was super fun!
Day 8: We left Highbourne after breakfast and sailed further south to Bush Hill Cay. It took several hours but we arrived in plenty of time. There is a coral reef near the cay so it took some navigating (of our captains!) to get in close to the island. We got to the island and ate lunch before breaking off to go in search of this species Cyclura rylei which is a smaller species with longer claws and much more agile necks. The skiff ride back was pretty long because they had moved the Beacon Won to a much better place to anchor.
Day 9: Our last day in the Exumas! Although it was the last day, it was one of my favorites. We had some great iguana catching but also amazing views from the top of Bush Hill Cay and some fun on the beach later in the day. We arrived on the skiff with lots of iguanas to process from the day before and it was incredible because the species on Bush Hill Cay has so many different color morphs. There were yellow, red, blue and many mottled iguanas. We got to see two Green Sea Turtles swimming along the shore. I snorkeled near the turtles and got to see lots of colorful fish and some interesting corals. Several of us hiked to the highest point and the 360 view was truly incredible.
Day 10: A friend woke me up at 5:30am to watch the sunrise. We jumped in the water and enjoyed watching the sky fill with yellows, oranges, pinks and blues. A crew member interrupted our bliss, informing us that the heads were going to be emptied. With that we got out of the water as fast as possible. Fresh coffee was ready when we got out so we enjoyed that while waiting for breakfast. I spent the morning reading and journaling on the top deck while we journeyed back to Nassau. The return trip was about six hours so there was lots of time for some relaxation in the sun. We arrived at the Bay Street Marina around 3:00pm which gave plenty of time for showers and some exploration of Nassau. A group of us walked down Bay Street checking out the shops. Our designation was the Straw Market down by the cruise ships, which is a great place to get fairly cheap souvenirs so long as you can bargain (it can be a very intimidating place). We ate at The Green Parrot which is just inside the marina and the seafood was delicious. Fresh conch fritters and Mahi made for the perfect last Bahaman dinner. We walked across the bridge to Atlantis after dinner to walk through their aquarium and get ice cream. I stayed at Atlantis when I was young so I definitely remembered the underground tanks of fish and beautiful architecture. We walked through the aquarium and the casino, back out to the village which is kind of an outdoor mall. We got ice cream, which was delicious, however I would recommend getting ice cream at a shop in Nassau because everything in Atlantis is expensive.
Day 11: Those ten days went so incredibly fast! The end came quickly but the last morning did not disappoint with amazing views of the harbor over that highly anticipated cup of coffee. We flew out of Nassau around 11:00am and stopped in Atlanta, reaching our final destination by dinner.
Note: The main purpose of this trip was to conduct research with herpetologist John Iverson. He has a long term iguana study going in in the Exumas and has been researching species once thought to be almost extinct. Just as a preface, as students and universities we fully comply with ICUC rules and training.
Happy Memorial Day! It is definitely the holiday that marks the beginning of summer. It is a tradition in Boulder to go to the big Creek Festival during memorial day weekend and run the 10k through our city. This year I am not running due to an injury but I definitely will be hanging out with friends at the festival. For some reason this weekend has always marked the beginning of summer, probably because school has just ended and warm weather has finally set in. Barbecue season has begun and the reds, whites and blues are in true high style.
Hit the beach: Yes I feel like I somewhat already accomplished this in the Bahamas but I do love going to the beach so much and I am hoping to go once more before the summer is over.
Road trip: For some reason this has become a summer staple for me! Last year Aiden and I drove around Colorado, exploring my favorite places and parks and this year we are doing a girls trip to New Mexico to enjoy some pool side sun bathing and gorgeous views. There are an endless number of road trips all over the US and they are so great because you can truly tailor your trip to what you really want to be doing.
See friends and family: Although I will be working for part of the summer, this is the first chunk of time I have had at home for several years and I am super excited to catch up with old friends and see family.
Go sailing: Although Colorado is not the most nautical place I grew up sailing on the east coast and have a love for it even though I am very landlocked. This year the best chance I have will be on the Boulder Reservoir in a sunfish but that will have to suffice. We also have ample opportunity for paddle boarding and swimming.
Hike a mountain: Getting outside always makes me feel better about myself. It is just incredibly freeing, no matter how high the mountain or how low the valley. It is also a great activity to do with friends because it gives so much time to really talk without the distractions of the outside world.
I am sure there are many more but these are my top goals for the summer! I am very excited for all this time in the sunshine after a grey Indiana winter.
A few errands took us on an adventure to the beautiful city of Cincinnati. I decided that because the weather has been so nice I wanted to find some fun things to do outside (and for free if possible). Here are some ideas:
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum: This first stop sounds like kind of a strange place to go visit but it is outside, free and very pretty. It is so large that we didn’t even get halfway through. There are many green lawns and some beautiful lakes spread throughout as well as many beautiful headstones and buildings. The lake we walked around had a really interesting bridge and lots of unique and beautiful trees. It was definitely nice to get out, walk around and enjoy the fresh air.
Smale Riverfront Park: This waterfront it incredible! It’s right in downtown Cincinnati along the river and it is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy the view. The downside is that parking is kind of a pain so choose your time well!
Other fun ideas: I love visiting the IKEA and Jungle Jims (an international food market) and there are many museums in Cincinnati that are really fun!
The spells of warm weather in the mid-west have definitely sparked my excitement for spring style and warm-weather adventures! We spent a day in the Depot District of Richmond, IN exploring the massive furniture store and getting coffee at Roscoe’s. The Richmond Furniture Gallery is a really interesting place with lots of interesting vintage pieces. It is a massive store with three floors that are all multiple large rooms. It is definitely a place to go if you are into old, unique items. They also sell lots of new furniture if you are looking for quality home furnishings. The people are also incredibly nice and make the entire experience very personalized. The Depot District has some other great antique shops and delicious places to eat. Roscoe’s is a bar and coffee house that has amazing lunch food and yummy ice cream. They also bring in bands and speakers regularly; the day we visited they were having a 24hr Moby Dick marathon (someone had been reading on and off since the day before!).