Across the country (and back) in 60 seconds

Months before my fiancé, Chris, and I left on our U.S. road trip, I had this idea for a project.

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I wanted to make a video. Kind of like a highlight reel—a way to capture the essence of our trip (and all the different landscapes we saw) and condense it into a quick video to share with family and friends. So, for two months—every day that we were traveling—I made sure to capture at least a few seconds of footage on my iPhone of our view from the road. The idea was to eventually edit it down into one second from each day of our road trip, then put it all together into one final video. Continue reading “Across the country (and back) in 60 seconds”

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Three days in Austin, Texas

A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to spend a long weekend in Austin, Texas!

Austin has been on my travel wishlist for years. Chris and I originally planned to visit during our cross-country road trip, but we didn’t end up making it there. So when my best friend Megan (who was there for work) asked if I wanted to join her for the weekend, I said, “UM, DUH!”

Three days in

Austin is known for being the blue dot in a deep red state. Home of the SXSW tech conference and the University of Texas’s flagship campus, it’s also the land of live music and breakfast tacos, street art and food trucks and swimming holes. Austin is, in a word, FUN. 6th street, the main drag that runs through the center of downtown, is lined with bars on both sides—most of which have rooftops and patios opening out to the street, making it feel like one big, never-ending party. (No wonder we saw at least 15 bachelorette parties in matching T-shirts roaming around.) Choosing a place to eat can be overwhelming, with endless options that run the gamut from traditional Texas staples (barbecue) to the trendiest ethnic/organic/local fare. The Colorado river also runs right through the center of the city, and is surrounded by miles of parks that are full of Austinites jogging, paddleboarding, kayaking, biking, swimming, strolling, doing yoga, etc. etc. This is a city that knows how to have a good time.

Continue reading “Three days in Austin, Texas”

Grand Teton National Park: Backpacking the Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop

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Bonus points if you can find Chris in this picture 😉

Oh, Grand Teton National Park! Of all the places we dreamed about visiting on our two-month road trip, I think I was MOST excited about the Tetons. A quick Google photos search will show you why I had permanent heart-eyes daydreaming about this place.

Of course, with our adventure pup Callie in tow, our options for national park sightseeing were mostly limited to scenic drives and the occasional paved trail—because those are (generally) the only spots where you’re allowed to take dogs. But we simply couldn’t visit the Tetons without a little backpacking action! After researching local kennels, we decided to board Callie for a few days so we could get out in the backcountry.

As for which trail to hike, the choice was obvious: the 19-mile Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon loop. This popular trail circles through the center of the park, cutting into the mountains through Paintbrush Canyon on one side and Cascade Canyon on the other. In between, the trail reaches its pinnacle at the Paintbrush Divide: a 10,700 ft. vista offering a sweeping 360-degree view of the Tetons’ signature rocky peaks.

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This is the route, as outlined on the free map that the park provides. Green areas are where camping is allowed (but only on designated sites and with a permit).

Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Backpacking the Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop”

This land is our land: a love letter to our national parks

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A few months ago, I won an Instagram contest.

Let me just reiterate that for emphasis: I WON AN INSTAGRAM CONTEST!!! I don’t often win things, so it was pretty exciting.

The contest was from one of my favorite brands, Greenville-based The Landmark Project. They make gorgeous clothing and other goods inspired by the outdoors, and give a portion of their proceeds to helping at-risk teens through outdoor adventure. (Go ahead, click that link and check them out. I’ll wait. I should also clarify that I have no affiliation with this company whatsoever. I just really love their work!)

Anyway, on the National Park Service’s 100th birthday this summer, they ran this contest: re-post a photo of their line of national park graphics with a caption about why you love the parks for a chance to win a free T-shirt. The timing was perfect—Chris and I had just left on our two-month road trip, where we planned to visit 11 national parks (spoiler alert: we actually hit up 15!) This is what I wrote:

Continue reading “This land is our land: a love letter to our national parks”

Learning to live in the moment

11,332 miles.

54 days.

25 states.

16 national parks.

Two tarantula encounters.

One fender bender.

Zero regrets.

… We’re back from our U.S. road trip!!!!!

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The “after” picture—all four of us (including the Subaru) made it back in one piece! Unfortunately, you can’t tell how extremely dirty everything and everyone is in this photo.

It was, in a word, a WHIRLWIND. After a couple of days basking in the simple pleasures of things like a real bed and a hot shower, I’m still processing everything that we experienced. I think I might be for a while yet. (Luckily we took eight billion pictures to help me remember it all.) But one thing I can confidently say is that we live in a giant, huge, stunningly beautiful, diverse, enormous country. (Did I mention how large it is?)

Continue reading “Learning to live in the moment”

Great American Adventure Part One: U.S.A. Road Trip

First of all, I have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone for your wonderfully supportive response to our big news! Taking any kind of risk—especially one on this scale—is so much easier when you have family and friends cheering you on from the sidelines. I was overwhelmed by all the love, well wishes, and votes of confidence. You all are the best and we are truly grateful!!

With just 30 days until we officially hit the road, things are already getting a little crazy over here —wrapping up projects at work, starting to pack up our stuff, showing the house to new renters, making last-minute appointments/meetings/COUNTLESS lists….etc. etc. etc. I meant to post this a week ago, but time keeps getting away from me!

Anyway, since a few people have asked for more details (and I would LOVE to gather as much advice as I can in the next few weeks) I wanted to share some specifics that were too much to fit in the original post. Starting with Part One: the good old-fashioned U.S.A. road trip!

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Continue reading “Great American Adventure Part One: U.S.A. Road Trip”