During the holidays I went into New York City with my boyfriend’s family. It has been over a month since this little trip but I still really wanted to share it since I had such a great time. The last time I was in the city was for several hours during a layover on the way to Iceland and we did not have time to really do or see much. Before that I had not been to NYC since I was eleven. That trip was amazing (we saw the Rockettes) but I no longer remember that much. My boyfriend and his family are not really city people so although they live close ( in New Jersey) they don’t go in that often. I was very excited to explore a little!
We started by walking from Bryant Park to Times Square. You could see the ball all set up and ready for new years. We got a nice view by going up a nearby hotel (the Marriott Marquis, it is a great way to avoid crowds as well). From here we walked to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and ice skating rink. Skating would have been fun but the line was hours long and the rink was pretty crowded (I am clearly not used to being in busy cities, not to mention the time of year in NYC). Our next stop was the New York Public Library. It is such a beautiful building (and its free!) with lots of books and some interesting art exhibits. We ate dinner at Virgil’s near Times Square (very affordable and delicious BBQ). For dessert we got cookie dough from Cookie Dough Confections at the market in Bryant Park and did a little shopping and exploring. For our final adventure of the night we walked to Saks 5th Avenue in attempt to see the windows but it ended up being much more of an adventure then we had anticipated. There were hundreds (probably thousands) of people throughout the street. You literally could not move. It ended up being an amazing light show at Sak’s. It was amazing but the number of people was a little ridiculous (pushing and shoving). Eventually we made it out of the mob and headed back to New Jersey. It was quite the adventure!
Personally, I would love to go back. I feel like there is so much more to do and see. I think if I actually wanted to do things going back at a time of year when there aren’t so many people would be key.
In August I spent a week with my boyfriend’s family exploring the white mountains. I have been to New Hampshire before but never for very long. My dad’s family used to have a house there and my parents were married at Bretton Woods! There is so much to explore and I am already dreaming of going back around this time of year (fall) because I can just imagine how gorgeous the leaves are.
I flew into Portland, ME so we spent the evening eating lobster and walking around Portland. We drove back to New Hampshire and spent the rest of the week exploring the area. I think my highlight was the Kancamangus Highway which goes through the white mountains. The views are so beautiful! There are also some hikes in this area and several historical sites. We also visited the Basin which I also highly recommend. It is a river that has carved away the rock in an incredible way. It is also not far off the highway although we did end up hiking the trail above it which is very pretty as well! We spent one of our days exploring the country roads and visiting the Frost Place. I highly enjoy Robert Frost’s poetry and seeing a place of his inspiration was very interesting. It is just so beautiful!
We had a fantastic time exploring the restaurants. My favorite was probably the Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton. Seriously the pizza is amazing and I highly recommend sitting out on the deck because the view across the river is incredible. There is also a covered walking bridge right next door and some great artesian shops close by. The Covered Bridge Farm Table in Campton is a great option for a delicious but affordable dinner. The shrimp tacos were amazing and I recommend the Ahi Tuna as well! There is also a covered bridge right next to it. Lincoln is a fun town to explore and One Love Brewery has a easy pub menu with a decent lobster roll. My favorite brunch spot was Old Main in Plymouth. The thrift shops near by are also fun to explore. I also highly recommend visiting the many farm stands for delicious fresh produce!
My boyfriend’s family rented two different houses both of which were in beautiful locations. The first was right next to a farm with some trails through the forest in the back. I spent most of my time at the second house which was up on a hill right next to the Campton Mountain ski lift. The view was amazing! Both were affordable so if you have more than two people I definitely recommend renting a house!
So I have had a crazy summer filled with lots of adventures and there is one kind of hilarious one that I have been dying to share.
One of my close friends from college came out to visit me during one of my last weeks living in Colorado. We did lots of local hiking but she really wanted to do a several day backpacking trip during her visit. We planned to do a three-day, two night backpacking trip about 45 minutes west of Boulder. We chose the route because it was close and my sister had done it last summer with her friends. Hessie trailhead (Indian Peaks Wilderness) was our start and we were going to hike the trail that runs through the Indian Peaks Wilderness, up to the Continental Divide and down to Rogers Peak Lake and then Moffat Tunnel. I included a map of our route because it is a great one to do if you are looking for a relatively low mileage but beautiful trail in the Boulder/Denver area.
The first day was a beautiful hike up through the trees from Hessie trailhead (past the town of Eldora). Once we gained enough elevation the trees cleared and the views were amazing. There are also lots of small lakes up there that are great for fishing (we met several fishing groups along the way!). King Lake is nestled just below the divide and was such a gorgeous place to break. If I do the same trip again I would get a permit and camp near that lake (you have to get a permit during the summer for Indian Peaks Wilderness but not James Peak). We hiked up above the lake and onto the divide where we walked to the parking lot and down another trail to Pumphouse Lake. We had planned on hiking further, to Corona Lake, to camp but the site at Pumphouse was so beautiful so we decided to make camp there. The afternoon included some naps, reading and Indian food on the MSR. The real story started around 10:00pm once we were about to go to sleep.
I hadn’t really thought much of the bear warning sign at the trailhead since I have camped and hiked in Colorado a lot and never seen a bear. So we piled our food away from our tents and covered it with pots, pans and our crazy creeks (this has worked well for me in the High Uintas but was a big mistake here). We just turned the lights out in our tent when we started to hear noises outside. It sounded like something throwing things and rustling bags. It was literally terrifying… sitting in our sleeping bags listening to something rummage through our food and not knowing what it was. It was at least 30 minutes of freaking out. We didn’t wanted to go outside because habituated bears can be pretty dangerous and neither of us were about to confront a bear. When it seemed quiet we got out and did some investigating. Whatever it was had somehow taken most of our food but left our pile covering the food intact. We put everything back, got into our tent and started hearing noises again. Instead of sitting there freaking out in the dark we turned our lights on and listened to a podcast/music (not sure this is the best practice but it worked for us). The next morning we were making tea and saw some marmots on the snowfield across the lake… it was probably marmots although a bear definitely makes for a better story.
They only food we had left was our snacks (trail mix and a few Cliff bars) and a jar of peanut butter. We probably could have finished our trip as scheduled however we would have been super hungry hiking out on the third day. After some though we decided we would keep going and try to hike what we would have done in two days in one day (i.e. hike out to the trailhead). In order to get picked up we had to get service somehow. Luckily we were going straight up onto the divide which was in clear sight of Winter Park. This hike up on the divide is around 4-5 miles and is absolutely gorgeous. The 360 degree views are stunning. We started our decent back down the East side of the divide just before James Peak. The decent is so steep and pretty long (coming up would be pretty rough). There are several lakes nestled into the mountains just below the divide (at tree line). We had intended to camp here (at Rogers Peak Lake) and it would have been beautiful. There were so many incredible wildflowers and great camping spots. We continued around 6 miles down to the Moffat tunnel were my sister picked us up.
My piece of advice regarding food on backpacking trips is: do your research! The safest thing is probably a bear barrel or hanging your food however if you are in an area with NO grizzlies it seems people generally leave their food inside packs.
I have finally been able to get to some of my travel posts! I am currently on my big Europe trip traveling around with my sister. We are in Nice, France right now but I was able to get my Denmark travel diary done on the train rides. In general I really loved this country! It is so beautiful and the city of Copenhagen is a great place to be. I am a little jealous of my friend who lives there!
Day 1- Just a note, that first picture is from the plane just before landing and I was just so impressed by how many wind turbines there were. I had never seen them in the ocean! I got to Copenhagen around 12:30pm on Sunday after a flight from Denver to London and then London to Copenhagen. I was extremely jet lagged but needed to stay up as long as possible so I could get on the right time zone. My friend picked me up from the airport, with Carlsberg beers as welcoming gifts. We rode the train back to his house in Hellerup. This town is very cute with lots of nice houses, flowers and a great beach/harbor. My friend’s boyfriend had a delicious danish lunch waiting for us so we ate open-faced sandwiches before taking a train to Klampenborg. It is only one or two stops and probably walkable (definitely an easy bike ride). First we walked around the deer park. It is a really pretty park which would be great for picnicking or biking through. There is a manor several kilometers from the entrance because the property used to be a hunting home for nobility. We saw several species of deer, including the fallow deer which I had never seen before (they have very fuzzy, wide antlers). After walking a little ways we headed to Bakken which is the world’s oldest amusement park. it was created in the 1500’s (I can only imagine what that was like). You do not have to pay an entrance fee so we just walked through the park and got some ice cream cones. Some of the buildings definitely channel a historical look with sloping roofs. They have lots of horse drawn carriages for rides around the area. From here we walked across the rode to the sandy beach for a swim. The water was chilly but so refreshing and really woke me up. It was a really nice, sunny day so there were lots of people! Back at home we had a traditional dish called Flæskesteg, which was amazing! Apparently it is usually made around Christmas time. We finished dinner around 9:30 and the sun was just starting to set (I forgot about the whole more sunlight thing). We walked through the neighborhood to downtown Hellerup and the beach/harbor. There is such a nice rose garden there as well.
Day 2- This day was pretty much entirely exploring Copenhagen. I woke up to fresh coffee and croissants (such a treat!). My friend and I went out around 8:30 and he took me on a long walking tour of the city. We started with Christiania which is an artist community in the city that sort of follows its own rules. There are lots of colorful buildings and beautiful art. You can’t take pictures inside so I only have one from the side entrance. It was a Monday morning so it was pretty dead but they usually have lots of food, music and shops. From here we walked along side the canals, past Church of Our Savior. I had no idea that Denmark is comprised largely of islands. There are so many canals in the city and just walking around is so nice, especially along Nyhavn. Nyhavn is the postcard Copenhagen with the colorful buildings and boats lining the canal. I would note that this area is so packed! It can be a little difficult to navigate with all the people so I recommend timing this well so you aren’t there during peak times. There are lots of great restaurants and cafes along here that would be so lovely to eat at. From Nyhavn we headed along the water towards the mermaid statue. Honestly this is not very worth it. It is very out of the way, tons of tourists are there and it is really small. I recommend just seeing it from the boat tour. There is a great view of the opera house, statue, royal houses and church along that walk though. From the mermaid we headed past the Gefion Fountain and St. Albans Church to the royal houses. The palace was burnt down several times so the royal family now lives in several houses that belong to noble families. The lutheran church is there as well so we walked through it, the ceiling is pretty cool! By this time we had walked a ton and were super hungry. We ended up walking a ton more to get to Gasoline Grill, a burger place that had been recommended to my friend. It was worth the walk! We ate in the park nearby before walking through the crown jewel palace to the botanical gardens. It was Monday so the butterfly garden was closed but we had a nice time checking out the plants and flowers. From here we walked through some nice market plazas that I definitely want to check out more when I come back. We walked through the Royal Copenhagen store (very beautiful but expensive tableware) and then had coffees at the top of the Illum, enjoying nice views of the city. We ran a couple of errands before heading back to Hellerup. Dinner was another traditional meal of Frikadeller and then we watched the world cup semi-finals.
Day 3- We took a train to Hillerød in the morning to visit Fredriksborg Castle. This was by far the most beautiful castle I have ever seen. There are such beautiful views from the town so we stopped there for some pictures. There are also some cafes there that would be fun to try! You walk across a bridge to get into the courtyard where there is a beautiful fountain. Originally we weren’t sure if we were going to get tickets to go in or just explore the courtyard and gardens. We ended up getting tickets and I am so glad we did. The interior was incredible. I was especially impressed by the ceilings and chandeliers (so ornate!). My other highlight was the church (yes inside the castle). We hopped on a tour for a bit before exploring by ourselves for a while. I cannot imagine only one family living in a place that big. We walked around the grounds next, which we just as amazing. The crown emblem is literally carved out of a hedge on either side of the canal that runs from the water fountains. We walked out the other side of the garden and though the other side of town to the train station.
Day 4- We headed out early to pick up my sister, Meghan, from the airport (she came on a 8:15am flight from Stockholm). Meghan and I ate some food before heading to Helsingor for some more castle adventures. This town is definitely worth a visit whether or not you decide to see the castle. There is also a maritime museum and some interesting things. The castle was costs around 120 krone and neither of us were dying to see it so we chose to skip the castle and just walk around it and down the shore. I am pretty sure this was the home of a noble family so it is not nearly as big as the Fredriksborg castle but it is right up against the sea which was very cool! After walking around the castle we headed back through the town, exploring, taking pictures and hitting up a thrift shop. We hopped on a bus to Humlebaek. This stop is worth it if you want to see the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, none of the exhibits caught my eye at the time so instead of going in we walked along the rocky beach and then up along the street (the house and gardens are all very nice).
Day 5- I took my sister into Copenhagen so she could see everything. We did some shopping along the main streets and walked around for a while. For lunch we went to Dalle Valle which is an affordable buffet that has lots of danish options. After lunch we walked to Nyhavn for a boat tour of the city. I highly recommend seeing the city via boat. They take you along the canals and point out all the important landmarks and the history in both Danish and English. We went with Netto boat tours which was 50 krone per person.
Day 6- We went back into the city with the sole purpose of reserving our train tickets to Germany. If you need to make reservations or get international tickets in Copenhagen make sure you leave a lot of time because we spent at least an hour just waiting for our turn. We then grabbed a bite to eat outside of Tivoli and then walked back through the city. We were pretty tired by that point so decided to head back to Hellerup to get packed up. We walked down to the Hellerup beach for a swim because it was very hot and sunny. The water was even better than the first day! Our last little adventure involved a very long walk to University of Copenhagen for my friend’s BBQ. It was so much fun! Lots of dancing, drinks and good food.
This part of my trip was truly amazing. I love love love the city of Copenhagen and it was so incredible to see my friend again!
Charleston just might be my new favorite city. The buildings are beautiful and the narrow streets create a historical but picturesque vibe. I loved it so much that I am going to recap all the highlights in this Charleston in a day post. I realized very quickly that coming back is most definitely a must. I know there is so much more to see and do.
Magnolia Plantations: This was the very first stop on our way into Charleston. I highly recommend checking out one of the many gardens/halls/plantations just outside of the city. There is a lot of history associated with these places as well as beautiful grounds. It can be pricier depending on what you choose to do but we had a great time just walking around.
Brunch at Butcher & Bee: This is the perfect brunch spot. The food was amazing and reminded me of home. They have healthy, delicious food that is reasonably priced and the atmosphere is very homey but modern. Also a plus was parking, since it is not directly downtown.
South of Broad: This iconic Charleston neighborhood is filled with picturesque houses skirted by extensive gardens. Beautiful houses line the streets, many of which have much historical significance. The streets are narrow and make if feel much older. We were there during the Garden Tours which actually was useful because they had lots of very friendly people stationed throughout the streets, helping you.
White Point Garden: While wandering the streets, we ended up at this park right at the water’s edge. Historically this is a great area to visit.
Jeni’s Ice Cream: This is actually the best ice cream I have ever had. There service was great and I recommend trying lots of flavors (they are all so good!).
King’s Street: The shops are a great stop that is not too far from South of Broad. Of course I had to find a great bookstore, Blue Bicycle Books. Other than that I just enjoyed walking the street and exploring a bit.
Dinner at Leon’s: Seafood is a must for any coastal visit. We didn’t want to break the bank so I found Leon’s which has great food (especially seafood) for very reasonable prices.
Sullivan’s Island: Our last stop, on the way out of town, was the beach. I had heard the area is very beautiful and can never resist an excuse for the beach. It was very windy but that actually made for some incredible views.
It was such an amazing experience and I highly recommend a visit. I can’t wait for next time!
Day 1: This first day was mostly just driving up to Ellsworth, ME from North Dartmouth, Rhode Island. We stayed in Dartmouth to make the drive a little bit easier. There was quite a bit of traffic so it took us five to six hours to drive there. After getting dinner we drove the 30 minutes to Beech Hill Pond where the house we rented was. The lake was so beautiful and pretty much all of the houses on the water have docks where was great because we were able to swim a bunch. A couple people ran into town to get some grocery’s and other necessary items.
Day 2: So for the second day we took it easy and got settled in. There was a great wrap around porch so after breakfast outside we blew up the tubes we bought in town and hopped in the water.
Day 3: This day was probably my highlight of the entire summer. We spent the day in Acadia National Park and it was absolutely beautiful. There are so many amazing trails with beaches, mountains and wild blueberries! We did a shorter hike called Gorham Mountain Trail which wound up one of the smaller mountains and provided some incredible coastal views. I would highly recommend visiting the park in the off season however because it was very crowded. Parking was so crazy that we decided to take the shuttle which was a good move (although in peak season the shuttle even gets full). It was just such a beautiful park and I am so glad we had the opportunity to visit. After our day hiking we headed to Bar Harbor to walk the town and enjoy some delicious food. The town is very tourist so it was also very crowded but it is so cute with amazing restaurants, ice cream parlors and artesian shops. We went to Geddy’s for lobster dinners and to Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium for dessert (there as so many options though!).
Day 4: This was the most foggy and drizzly day we had. It is actually a beautiful way to experience Maine though because the harbors are so beautiful and peaceful in the fog. We went to Schoodic Point and drove around the beautiful coast. We made a point of visiting all of the artesian shops we could find. There were some amazing pottery studios and one right on the water. We walked around the tide pools after observing the artist’s work. We also went to a studio which made big granite sculpture out of the rock right there on the property. For lunch we ate some fried lobster, scallops and smoked salmon at a great little dinner on the coast.
Day 5: Yesterdays tide pools inspired us to find some more the next day. We went to Mccellan State Park first to visit the tide pools. It is such a pretty area and we even met some researchers doing work on bird diet in tidal areas. Next we went to an area referred to as the reverse falls. It is an area where the river creates some rapids but they switch direction with the change in tide. It was pretty interesting and there is a great coast line there. We had burritos for lunch at a delicious Mexican restaurant. Next we drove to the Maine Sea Salt company and took a tour of their facility which was incredibly interesting. We also got to try out all their different salts (there were surprising numbers of different flavors). My personal favorite was the herb salt. They have several different smoked varieties as well, where they use different types of wood to infuse different flavors during the smoking process. Our final stop was Pebble Beach just further than the sea salt company. It is an amazing beach because it is made entirely of these smooth pebbles and the sound they make when the waves crash into them is one of a kind (so hard to even describe!).
Day 6: Most of this day we spent just hanging out on the lake. We did some more swimming in the cool fresh water and explored the area. For dinner we went to a Lobster Pound in Trenton. It was so delicious and quite the experience for me since I had never been to one before! We got some firewood on the way back and made s’mores. The evening was finished with some star gazing over the lake. It was a perfectly clear night so we were graced with an amazing view and lots of shooting stars.
Day 7: Our final day a rainy one but we made it out into town regardless. First we played mini golf outside Ellsworth (I lost but it was still a blast). We then drove around some more finding other art studios. We even met an artist couple who went to the same college at me! I had my last fix of lobster for the summer in the form of a lobster roll. We ended the day at the L.L. Bean outlet in Ellsworth where I bought a sweater and some cozy socks for fall.
Day 8: It was such a sad day to be driving back because the weather was so beautiful. We got a late start so I got to enjoy one last morning breakfast on the lake before packing up and heading out. The drive back to New Jersey took nearly the whole day. We did stop in Portland though for some lunch!
I truly cannot wait to go back to Maine. It has quickly become on of my favorite places with its gorgeous landscapes, cool weather and abundance of seafood. I highly recommend this trip. I do warn you however one week is definitely not enough time to see all of Maine. I could have stayed the whole summer!
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).
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.