Wow it has been three months since I have posted. I took quite the hiatus for several reasons, the biggest being this time of year for grad school has been absolutely insane. I guess my last post was at the end of March. Research prep, fieldwork and finals all collided in April and May and I barely stayed afloat just keeping up with all that. I was able to see my family for Easter which was a nice little break. Then I focused on studying for my vet immunology class (such an incredible class but required lots of studying). In the thick of it all I went to Aiden’s graduation in the beginning of May. Being back in Indiana allowed me to catch up with some college friends for a bit. This was such a blessing for me since I have been missing them a ton this year.
The rest of May and the first half of June were filled with fieldwork for my research. This is my absolute favorite part of my job/school and I had such a blast trouncing around the Exumas. These trips were the first ones that I was responsible for most of the organizing and data collection so I worked insane hours but it was so much fun. Because of this I was totally exhausted when I got back and had to really rally to get all the lab work done in the following weeks.
I had several days between trips so I visited Aiden’s family in New Jersey. I still had to work a bit while there but his sister and I went into NYC for a day and saw Dear Evan Hansen. It was amazing! I highly recommend seeing it if you are in the city! I had a short visit with my family on the way back to Utah. It fell on father’s day so I was able to play some golf with him and we hiked Mount Sanitas and went to Dagabi Cucina for dinner.
The last two and a half weeks have been spent intensively doing lab work. There are several assays I am using in my research that need to be done right away so we had a bunch of people working intensive, long days for a week to get everything done. I am now in the thick of doing DNA extractions for some microbiome samples that I am looking at. Despite still being busy with work I have been feeling inspire to write some. I am missing this outlet and feel like it is time to start consistently blogging again.
The other reason I took a long break from the blog was because with being so busy I started to feel like I was forcing myself to think about and write specific blog related content. I want it to be authentic. It is also supposed to be both an outlet for me and a way for me to share my stories, interests and opinions. I am feeling good about my headspace and ready to write more for fun!
Here are some photos from the last several months:
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!
Autumn is here once again and I couldn’t be more excited about the change in weather. I love love love the cool crisp days and the winds that require warm drinks and thick layers. I love every season but fall is definitely my favorite. The colors are beautiful, the food is fantastic (gotta love anything pumpkin) and I love the holiday season. I am changing up the format of my seasonal goals posts to more of a ‘fall favorites’ type list. I would consider the start of fall to be right around now… I can feel it in cool mornings and the leaves are starting to change!
Shades of orange
Cups of tea
Hiking in the clear cool air
Also, check out my 10 Halloween Movies for some more fall/Halloween inspiration. Cozying up with a good book or movie is another great way to get excited for this time of year.
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.
This whole summer has been crazy. So much travel, adventure and big life changes. I am actually leaving for the Bahamas tonight for my last big trip of the season. It is entirely for field research but should be fun! So overall life has just been super hectic lately. I am going to do a more detailed post when I get back however I just wanted to pop in and say hello… I have been very MIA lately. Some highlights have been my big Europe trip in July, backpacking adventures and a trip to New Hampshire in August as well as starting grad school! I actually just finished my first full week of classes and it was crazy. It has only been a little over a year since undergrad but I forgot how much time classes take. They are great so far though and I am really looking forward to the semester. I will also do some more detailed posts on grad school in the coming months. For now I am going to sign off because my flight leaves in three hours!
Clearly I have taken a major hiatus from blogging. I was starting to feel like I just did not have the time and was questioning why I was blogging in the first place. A big part of both being busy and questioning what I am doing began with a huge career step that I was not really expecting to happen right now. I will be attending Utah State University as a PhD student in a biology lab. My research focus will be looking at the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on the physiology of the Bahaman Rock Iguana. It is going to be a long but exciting journey that will likely take the next six years of my life. I will be moving up to Logan, Utah in early August. Working out the details for this has taken lots of time and thought which has led to some neglect in other areas of my life. I am very excited however and have begun to plan out and my lists of priorities for the coming year. I have the fall semester almost entirely figured out, including classes and research. The last piece that has caused some stress is housing in Utah. I did not realize just how hard it is to find housing when you don’t live in (or close to) that place. With most of the details fleshed out I have started to think about some other things, including my blog.
Over the past few days I sort of re-realized my reasons for blogging. I thought a lot about why I started this project in the first place. During my senior year of college I was feeling very burnt out and overwhelmed by work. I have always loved school but at this point it had begun to feel like work I had to do and not at all like what I wanted to be doing. I think there were many factors that contributed to this feeling that were both circumstantial and stemmed from my own mental state. As my future plans have solidified and I begin to prepare for the years to come I am realizing that I am jumping straight back into the world of biology and academia. I do love this world but I learned in college that I need to have a creative outlet that is not in that world in order to continue to be happy and productive. So in essence I am getting back into my blog but will be making some changes.
In 2016 I had started reading and exploring different blogs. I had started my own in December of 2016 but was really just experimenting. As the year progressed I realized how much I was in need of a creative outlet. There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently that year but now I am going to take this opportunity to change some things. While I very much want to continue blogging, I am going to change my posts a little bit. I want to put a lot more time and effort into single posts which is kind of tough considering I am about to be in graduate school. Because of that I will probably not be posting as much, but I will focus on quality. I also want to rethink my content a little bit, but I will do a bigger post on that in a few weeks.
This week has been so crazy. I went to some incredible sessions at the Conference of World Affairs at CU. One was on Technology, Science and Agriculture and sparked my curiosity in how we produce food as well as how we teach younger generations about where our food comes from. That is not something usually included in schools, especially high school, so I am so curious about how it can be integrated into the classroom in public schools. The other session I went to was on impactful books. Although I have such a long reading list right now, I can never pass up an opportunity to learn about books that have been life changing for people. One book that intrigued me was Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges, which is a collection of short stories. One speaker shared Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, as one of her books, and I am reading it right now!
I also had an amazing day shooting for RockHill Designs on Thursday and wanted to share some pictures. This is the white top I am wearing, its perfect for spring and summer (here is a similar one and here is another with that same hem)! I am going to do a bigger post with some RockHill favorites next week, but here is a sneak peak. I chose my favorite behind-the-scene shots: