I am really loving being on the beach right now. We have been walking every single day, down the shore, and it is so refreshing. It has been a little chilly but we are expecting some warm days later in the week. This dress is absolutely perfect for this spring and summer. I love the length and style. It is also incredibly comfortable. I could not wait to wear it!
Our big family vacation this summer was a trip back to Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I love this area and have missed our yearly summers there so much. I was thrilled to hear we would be going back this summer. As always we had such a blast renting a cottage in Westport, which took up most of our vacation time. Here are my highlights from our time there.
Sunsets at Gooseberry Point: Almost every evening we went out to Gooseberry point. It is a small peninsula that jets out into the Atlantic allowing for views of the Vineyard and some incredible sunsets. It was so beautiful. We would swim, fish and hang out on the beach for a little while and then walk over to the rocky coast to watch the sun drop below the horizon. This is definitely a must if you are ever in the area. It also is a good idea to go late in the day because the beach is much less crowded.
Quahogging in the Westport River: We dug for quahogs in the the river several days and found lots of them. We made some delicious clams casino and a great pasta sauce. We also found mussels in the smaller channels in the marshes at high tide. You do need a permit but it is really worth it and fairly easy to get enough for a delicious meal. We even found some oysters and scallops.
Fun in the sand at Horseneck beach: We had a couple incredible days at the beach building epic drip castles, surfing and creating our clam shell mermaid. Low tide is definitely the best time to walk the beach finding shells and sea glass and provides for lots of space for castles!
Farm stands on the back rounds: There are some really beautiful backroads between Westport, MA and Little Compton, RI that are home to some really great farm stands and unique little shops. Farm fresh food is available and it is so much cheaper directly from the sources than at the grocery store. The local grocery store, Lee’s, has pretty much everything but it is super expensive since it is a vacation town on the beach.
Jumping off the dock: This is definitely a tradition every time we come. We have so much family there and several have houses right on the Westport River so we always jump off the dock with the cousins.
Coastal walks: Just walking along the coast both at the beach and the more rocky shores was a major highlight for me. We had pretty good weather the whole time so we were able to make lots of adventures out of the coastal landscape.
Seafood at the best restaurants: This place has some of the best seafood restaurants I have ever been to. Its great because there are different price points as well. Handyhill Creamery is along the highway just as you are getting to the river and it is really cheap and absolutely delicious. There ice cream is amazing as well!!! The Bayside is our go to dinner place and they have a wide variety of options with yummy local seafood. There drinks were so good this time as well. I had got the goat cheese salad with scallops every time we went because it is the best salad I have ever had. The Bayside also sits right across from the ocean with a great ocean walk in between which allows for the most beautiful table wait. The Back Eddy is also pretty great with a nice view of the river. I highly recommend reservations here (also at The Bayside) because it gets really crowded. There is a lobster place across the river which has great lobster rolls for lunch and you sit right along the river.
Other activities included some bird watching on the wildlife preservation, our day trip up to Newport and another to Worcester as well as some much needed time with the family. It was an incredible trip with many gorgeous location and fun activities.
First of all this has is one of the best finds! Seriously it is so worth checking out those vintage/thrift shops in small towns, there are some real hidden gems. This hat is vintage Nordstrom and I absolutely love it. It will be a perfect derby hat and it is great for just hanging out in the sun. My goal has definitely been to visit all the thrift shops and find those great items.
Last week we drove to the coast for a day to grab our favorite milkshakes at Hoffman’s and walk the boardwalk in Spring Lake for Aiden’s birthday. We got down just in time to enjoy the ocean and eat sandwiches at Tom Bailey’s Market (seriously an amazing deli). The rain started just as a were leaving, making our timing impeccable because it didn’t just rain, it was a torrential downpour. Spring Lake is such a cute little town with some huge beautiful houses. I love just walking the streets and looking at the architecture and gorgeous gardens.
Spring Lake is a great alternative to the popular Ocean City on the New Jersey coast. There are great shops, rental houses and a beautiful beach. I have only ever eaten at Tom Bailey’s but I have heard great things about the pizza place and other restaurants in the town. Hoffman’s milkshakes are amazing but it does get so crowded. Try to go earlier, like take a break from the beach, because it is insane and very difficult to park starting around 3:00pm.
I seem to be drawn to blue and white right now. Almost all of my outfits have been some variant of blue with white. It is definitely a great combination for beach towns though! This dress is pretty old but so comfortable and great for almost any activity.
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.
Last night I got back from an amazing trip to the Bahamas! Most of the 11 days were spent sailing through the Exumas, but we spent some time in New Providence as well. I will do a more thorough travel diary later this week but I wanted to just quickly share some highlights. The focus of this voyage was research so we lived on the beautiful Beacon Won for most of the time. I would wake up to fresh coffee and breakfast every morning while sitting on the back deck watching the laughing gulls fly overhead and remora swim down below. We moved from island to island researching the Caribbean rock iguana, enjoying the beaches and snorkeling. Upon return from the field, a swim off the stern was highly anticipated. It was definitely a trip I will never forget. The days bookending our sail were spent visiting the Straw Market in Nassau and exploring Atlantis.
This was my first trip to Florida and it was incredible!
Most nights we camped at state parks or other camp grounds, so if you are not into camping there are definitely hotel options not far away and going to all the springs as day trips is definitely a possibility. Also, our first day was technically the drive down to Chattanooga but for this I am starting in Chattanooga.
Day 1: Drive from Chattanooga to Hart Springs. We stayed in a hotel in Chattanooga and started driving early in order to get to Hart Springs in time for some snorkeling. Hart springs is a pretty area in north Florida with lots of opportunity for swimming, canoeing and walking along the boardwalk. We arrived in the heat of the afternoon and chose to go straight to the cool water. Bringing some snorkel gear (or at least goggles) is definitely a must in this area. We saw some amazing wildlife including Swanee River Cooters, Loggerhead Musk Turtles and many fish. The boardwalk here is incredibly beautiful when the sun is setting right over the water.
Day 2: The next day is a drive from Hart Springs to Kelly Park. This time instead of leaving early, we spent the morning walking along some of Hart Spring’s trails listening to birds and spotting frogs. We stopped several times along the drive to Kelly Park to see wildlife.
Day 3: Kelly Park & Wekiwa Springs. We spent almost the whole day at Wekiwa Springs which is about 30 minutes from Kelly Park. This is a definite must visit destination if you are in the Orlando area. The water is a little chilly but there is a nice place to sun bathe, there are lots of trails and you can rent canoes to paddle down the creek. We were with the North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group for the morning, helping them catch, process and release turtles which was a very fun experience! We also walked along the boardwalk and some of the trails. There is lots to see and do here. The evening was spent at Kelly Park which is a great place for picnicking and also swimming. I actually liked the swim set up better here. You walk up the path a little ways to the top of the lazy river and can tube or just swim down. The water is crystal clear and there are turtles and other fun things to see! There are also many nice trails here.
Day 4: Drive from Kelly Park to the National Seashore and then Manatee Hammock for the night. This was our big beach day and it was amazing! We spent almost the whole day on Cape Canaveral seeing lots of wildlife and walking along the National Seashore. I highly recommend visiting this area. It is one of the few places to see the Florida Scrub Jay and Roseate Spoonbills which was very cool. This beach is also so pretty and not too crowded. We drove a little ways to Manatee Hammock to camp for the night and this was probably my favorite place we stayed the whole trip. It was right on Indian River Lagoon which is so beautiful (make sure to get a campsite right on the shore). This sunset was absolutely gorgeous!
Day 5: Manatee Hammock to Alexander Spring State Park. We went to Blue Springs on the way to Alexander Springs in order to see manatees. There were many of them just laying in the water right in the springs (even some calves). We also saw lots of other wildlife. Seeing manatees is seasonal here so definitely check before you go but it was incredibly to see them. Also swimming is not quite as great here (or not open depending on when you go). We drove on to Alexander Springs State Park (in Ocala National Forrest) which was one of my favorite swimming locations. There were so many turtles and fish so it was perfect for snorkeling and the water was not too cold. I also just really liked this campground because you can walk to the springs and it is very pretty.
Day 6: Stay in Alexander Spring State Park for the night and spend the day canoeing Juniper Springs Run. This canoe trip was so fun! The river starts off very narrow but it is slow moving and just very picturesque and it opens up as you go. It took us about four hours so it is pretty long but it was so worth it (you can definitely do it faster if you are paddling fast and do not take stops). We saw several alligators along the way which was pretty cool as well.
Day 7: Alexander State Park to Otter Spring State Park. This was, sadly, our last full day in Florida. We visited a long-leaf pine forest and saw the rare Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. These types of forest are so interesting because there are really tall pine trees with not many understory plants. From here we drove to Otter Spring State Park and spent the rest of the day snorkeling in the spring and swimming in the pool (which was heated). This spring is also a great place to go especially if you have kids with you.
Day 8: Drive from Otter Spring State Park out of Florida all the way to High Falls State Park in Georgia. The morning was all driving but the was enough time once we arrived to enjoy the walking the trails. The sunset here was gorgeous and the camp hosts were so friendly.
Day 9: This final day was technically just driving from High Falls all the way back home, which took the entire day.
Overall this trip was amazing! It is a great circle if you are interested in seeing northern Florida especially visiting the many springs Florida offers. It can definitely also be modified depending on the amount of time you have and how much time you want to spend in certain places. I would definitely spend more time in the Cape Canaveral area (more beaches) and I would want to spend a little bit of time in Orlando (we avoided the city for the most part but it was very close to several of the locations we visited).
For spring break we finally headed south for some warm weather! I have never actually been to Florida and it is incredibly pretty. Canaveral National Seashore was definitely a highlight, with hours of beach combing, laying in the sun and jumping waves.
Blue and white stripes are a go to this season so I couldn’t help but pick up this top from American Eagle. Also the American Eagle sandals are so comfortable, I was super surprised.