Where the heck have I been the past week or so, you may ask. Well, I was in paradise.
My little family and I jetted off to the Big Island of Hawaii!
My grandparents live near Kona, and we went to stay with them. It was our first time seeing their new house, and it was a DREAM. The views were out of this world and they have the best little jungle pool in their yard. Seriously...the entire trip was heavenly. My mom was even there for a few days, which was so fun! And it was SO nice to get to spend time with my grandparents!
I had only been to Oahu and Maui before, so the Big Island was new to me. It is SO different from the other islands that I've been to, and I LOVE it! There are so many different types of terrain and things to do and amazing features and places to explore!
This was our first time flying with James. I will write a blog post soon about our experience flying with a baby and some tips I picked up, so check back for that...probably next Monday!
Anyways, James did so well traveling such a long distance, and although there was a bit of an adjustment for him with the time difference and new place and everything, (PLUS he's TEETHING), he was such a little trooper! We had the best time adventuring with him!
Ok, I could ramble on and on, so let's dive right into it:
First things first: coffee.
Our first morning in Kona, we found the. best. coffee shop. Seriously. Look no further, next time you're in Kona. Just head to Green Flash Coffee. Every morning (except two mornings when we made the mistake of trying different coffee shops) Ben, James, and I headed to Green Flash Coffee at the crack of dawn. I fell in love with their croissant breakfast sandwiches with ham, and Ben and I got coffee cake to share. And we got coffee...of course.
Some mornings we enjoyed our coffee and breakfast at the coffee shop in their outdoor courtyard, and some mornings we brought it all with us to the beach. Regardless, every morning we headed to the beach and swam, laid in the shade, and watched the body surfers. James LOVED playing with his toys on our big beach blanket. Ben took James into the ocean for the first time. We made such great memories.
After our morning outings, we would head back to my grandparents' house and my grandpa made us his special oatmeal and we would eat fresh papayas and read and relax...it was the best.
We did so many fun things while we were there! We took a tour of the Kona Brewing Company, Ben and I went out for a couple of date nights in Kona, we went and watched a dolphin show with my grandpa, and we went on a snorkel tour!
The snorkel tour was amazing! James did so well on the boat, we saw humpback whales, and SO many gorgeous fish. I highly recommend this tour if you're going to the Big Island. Click here for all of the info!
I had never seen a black sand beach before and it was so pretty! We were going to stop by a green sand beach, but the parking area was SO crowded, so we decided to continue on our way.
We also went to the southern most point in the United States of America. For a few minutes, we were the southernmost folk in all the land. Which was a pretty cool feeling. And very neat for James, at only 5 1/2 months old!
On our way back home after our drive around the island, we stopped at this cute, nice restaurant called The Strawberry Patch. It was some of the best food I've had - I had the Spring Salad, and Ben and I split the Rustic Roasted Garlic Bread. So yummy. BUT the service was reeeeeaaaallly SLOW.
That night we saw the most unusual sunset as we were driving back to my grandparents' house. I didn't manage to get any pictures of it, but it was magical.
We saw so many beautiful sunsets while we were on the Big Island. One evening, my grandpa took us to this beautiful spot where we had pina coladas and watched the sunset over the ocean. Our last night, my grandpa took us to another beautiful place...a rocky beach where you could wade out and look down and see fish swimming around. And the sunsets from my grandparents house were unreal.
Our last morning, we got our coffee and breakfast and headed to the beach for one last family beach morning. It was a gorgeous day.
After that, we headed to Huggo's On The Rocks for a farewell drink and to soak in the view. It was such an incredible trip and I'm leaving out so many details because there is just no way that I could get them all down in one blog post. But it was just the best and we love the Big Island and can't wait to go back some day!
We really want to go to the volcano and the space observatory, but we couldn't this time because James is too little. Next time! There is so much more to do and explore!
This trip was the BEST way to kick off 2017...this year is already shaping up to be one heck of an amazing ride! Soo many exciting things in store!
For New Year's weekend, Ben, James, my parents, and I went away to Ocean Shores. It was cold, but so so fun! PNW beaches are wildly beautiful, in a dark and mysterious way, and I love walking along, looking for shells and other treasures washed up from the deep.
This was James' first time to a beach, and he seemed in awe of the big waves and the vast expanses of sand. It is so fun to take him new places and give him new experiences!
We spent the weekend relaxing. We didn't have an agenda; We strolled to the beach and back; We read by the fire; We ate tasty food; And we went to bed early. It was lovely! I love little getaways like that! They are the best. It was such great quality time with my family!
Ben and I picked up these rain boots at a local grocery store once we got into town, because, as usual, I packed improper footwear. Typical. I mean, high-heeled suede booties are appropriate for the beach, right? I don't know what I was thinking, but this seriously happens more often than I'd care to admit! For some reason I just never think about what kind of shoes I should bring on a trip until it's too late! These rainboots worked great though and I'm so glad that we got them!
Being at the seashore with the ones that I love was the PERFECT way to end a wonderful year!
How did you spend your New Year's weekend?
Oh! And here's a little quick video from our weekend:
Tomorrow, we jet off on our first adventure of 2017 and I am SO excited!! Although, I'm nervous about flying with a 5 1/2 month old baby!! Any tips from you other mamas would be SO appreciated! :)
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The Summer issue of Outside Bozeman magazine is on stands now! It's their biggest issue of the year and I am SO excited to have two articles published in it! Be sure to pick up a copy! And check out pages 68 and 72! ;)
You can also read the issue online by clicking here!
Cheers to an adventure-filled season!
For outdoor lovers, it can be frustrating and even a bit depressing if you live in a place that is far from any wilderness areas. Sure, most cities and towns have parks, but for people who are into backpacking, mountain climbing, and a little peace and quiet, parks just don’t cut it. Ben and I recently moved to an area that is about two hours (minimum) from the nearest mountains. While that is definitely doable for a day trip (and trust me, we’ve spent plenty of days and nights in those mountains!), it’s not exactly convenient. Our ideal situation would be living in a place where we could walk out our back door and be in the mountains or be on a great fly fishing creek.
Over the past year of being an outdoor lover living far from the wild, I’ve learned three tricks for coping. Here you go!
- Schedule wilderness time. That’s right…put it on your calendar. Designate days in which you will take the time necessary to get yourself to the mountains. Treat it like an important business meeting and DON’T CANCEL. Just go, no matter how busy you are or how unpleasant the drive sounds. You’ll feel so much better once you are breathing that fresh, wild air.
- Pack ahead of time. Make sure your gear is packed up and ready to go in your vehicle ahead of time. Waking up at 4am in order to hit the road, and then still having to pack up is tough. You’ll be more likely to just scrap your plans and take a raincheck on your adventures. So, pack up the night before or a few days before. You’ll be so glad you did once your alarm goes off.
- Allow as much time as possible. Try to allow yourself as much time in the wild as possible. It will make the long drive feel less grueling. If you can, try to make your excursion an over night one, or better yet, a few nights.
What are your tips for making time for the great outdoors, even if you live far away from the mountains?
It’s the start of a brand new year. Perhaps one of your resolutions is to get outside and have more adventures. If so, I commend you! People contact me all the time saying that they want to have more adventures, but that they don’t know where or how to begin. Here are a few steps you can take to add a little more adventure to your life this year:
1. Do your research. Take the time to research cool areas near you. Websites, such as my personal favorite, The Outbound, can be really useful when it comes to finding hikes and backpacking trips for all skill levels. The Outbound even allows you to create lists of adventures that you want to go on, so you can keep track of everything and have your ‘To-Do’ list in one easy to access place.
2. Get the right gear. Make sure that you are prepared with the proper gear needed for your adventures. You’ll need the right footwear, warm layers, sun protection, sleeping bag, backpack, food, water filtration and storage, etc… And all of this will depend on where you are going and how long you will be gone. Making sure that you have the right gear for the type of adventure that you are going on is crucial. There are few things more miserable than being in the wild and not having the right clothing or supplies with you. The Outbound lists the gear that you’ll need for each adventure. You can also go and talk to the guys and gals at the local outdoor supply store to get an idea of what you will need for your specific outing.
3. Get a buddy on board. Personally, I think adventures are a lot more fun with a buddy. So get your pal (or pals) in on the action and start planning your adventures together!
4. Put your adventures on the calendar. The best way to ensure that you adventures actually happen is to plan ahead and schedule them on your calendar. That way, the time is blocked out, and you can prepare yourself leading up to it. So, put your adventures on the calendar and stick to them! But, don't get TOO hung up on planning. Spontaneity is a beautiful thing. When adventure calls, go ahead...answer!
P.S. Find me on The Outbound here!
We've explored so many incredible, breathtaking places. The Sierras taught us so much about backpacking, camping, perseverance, and beauty. It's been one heck of a ride! We are finishing this year out tired, happy, adventure-filled, and bursting with memories that will last us the rest of our lives.
Our adventures took us to pristine mountain lakes, beautiful valleys, stunning peaks, and gorgeous forests. We tried out new gear, including a tipi tent, which we quickly fell in love with. We ate many freeze-dried meals, slept under the stars, lost a pair of hiking boots, and spied on wildlife. We woke up beside glassy, backcountry waters, sat on mountain tops and read, scouted for animals from peaks, and swam in icey alpine lakes. It has been a year unlike any other. Here is another glimpse into our year in the Sierras.
When the team at The Lost Frontiers reached out to me a few months ago, I was intrigued. As I learned more about the publication and what it is all about, I knew I couldn't miss an opportunity to be involved. I am SO excited and honored to be a part of such an exciting new project! Check it out and pre order your copy of Volume II of The Lost Frontiers today! You will not be disappointed. Click here.
In January, Ben and I packed up our things and headed for California. It was a big move, full of many adjustments. But one thing we acclimated to very quickly was our proximity to the Sierra Nevada. That is where we spent a good portion of our time this year. We spent more days and nights in the mountains than I could count, exploring, writing, testing out gear, taking photos, and soaking it all in. Here are some glimpses into our year in the Sierras. Part 1...
I couldn't even tell you the number of times that my husband and I have forgotten to bring something important on a hike with us. We've forgotten our camera, snacks, and warm hats. We've forgotten our books (we like to sit and read on our hikes if we happen to find a pretty spot!) and we've forgotten extra socks. That moment when you realize that you have forgotten something that you REALLY wanted or REALLY needed to bring along is horrible.
So, after years of having this problem, we finally came up with a solution! We created a check list so that we can check things off as we pack them up into the car, ensuring that we will never forget important items on our hikes again!
We surely can't be the only people to have this problem, so I've decided to share our checklist with you! Feel free to print it off to your heart's content and use it to make sure you don't forget anything next time you head out for a hike!
Spring is officially here! If you are anything like me, you are chomping at the bit to hit the trails and start hiking in the warmer weather. Trails and roads that were closed for Winter are starting to open up, and the snow is starting to melt. Spring is a beautiful time to get outside and spend time in nature!
Here are a few tips to get you ready for Spring time hiking, as well as a few safety and conservation reminders.
- Spring Cleaning: Now is the time to pull out all of your gear and sort through it. Make sure everything is in working order, such as your stove and headlamp. Do a little purging and get rid of gear that you didn't use last year. This makes room for any new gear that you've been eying. *wink*
- Check Trail and Road Closures. Be aware of when the trails that you are interested in hiking officially open up for the season. Check the roads that you will need to take to get to the trailheads too. Sometimes even if the weather is beautiful, warm, and sunny and there is no snow in sight, certain areas may still be closed off just in case a late snow storm hits. So be sure about the dates so that you don't waste your time on an area that is still closed for another month. If you are hiking in a National Forest, you can call the local ranger district to find out about road closures. While you have them on the phone, you can find out what elevation the snow is currently at as well.
- Dress in Layers. Spring weather can be fickle. Your best bet for dressing appropriately for a hike at this time of year is to wear layers. Be prepared to have a warm jacket handy in case a cold snap hits, and also be prepared to peel off those top layers and have a cooler option on for when the sun comes out! Merino Wool is a great option. There are different thicknesses that you can use to layer up. Having a rain jacket with you to throw on over everything in case of rain is a must as well.
- Wear Proper Footwear. It's a good idea to wear waterproof footwear in the Spring. Here's why: In the Spring, snow is melting and that means that rivers and streams are going to have much higher water levels. Also, with the melting of snow and also Spring showers, trails can tend to be a bit muddy and puddles are something you will likely encounter. Having waterproof footwear will keep your feet dry, no matter what watery obstacles you may come across! Gaiters are a great idea as well. They will give you a bit more protection and are great for if you are in a bit deeper of a puddle or going through a stream. This season I will be testing out a few different brands of gaiters, so stay tuned for reviews coming your way!
- Charge Through Puddles. Here is a great reason why you should have waterproof footwear. Instead of trying to step around puddles, charge right through them. Not only is it fun, but it is also better for nature. Going around puddles pretty much implies that you are going to be stepping off the trail, at least a bit, and this can contribute to the unintentional widening of the trail. This is damaging for the surrounding foliage. It's best to stay on the designated trail, and having waterproof footwear allows you to go right through mud and puddles without getting your feet all wet.
- Avoid Muddy Trails. If at all possible, avoid hiking on muddy trails all together. Why? Because muddy trails are susceptible to more damage. Footprints leave deeper marks, and heavy traffic can leave trails torn up and uneven. So, in the spirit of conservation, if it's not completely unreasonable, try to stay off of muddy trails as much as you can. Just wait a bit until they are dried out.
- Be Careful Of Rivers! In the Spring, runoff from melting snow makes water levels in rivers rise - Sometimes quite a lot. It also makes the water move much faster, and this can be very dangerous. Stretches of river that you might normally be able to cross, may be way too deep and fast moving for you to do so at this time of year. Just be aware of the conditions of any rivers or streams that you may have to cross while on your hike. Try to avoid crossing rivers if at all possible. If you do need to cross, use extreme caution. Test water depths with a stick. Just be careful.
2015 is off to one heck of a start. It has already brought about some huge changes. My husband and I made the move from Washington to Northern California, and the prepping and planning of the move has kept us crazy busy for the past few months. Big moves, or any big life change for that matter, can be stressful, exciting, and a bit sad too. California is very different from Washington, and while my husband and I had spent some time living in the southern part of the state several years ago, we were fairly unfamiliar with the northern half.
We tackled this move with good attitudes, ready for whatever it might bring. The name of the game is adventure: the adventure of moving to a new place, of leaving things and people behind and of forging ahead to create a new life; the adventure of not knowing what lies ahead; the adventure of discovering new areas to play and roam in; and seeking out adventure wherever it can be found. Our free time has been spent exploring and getting to know our new surroundings. For us, being outdoors and spending time climbing in the mountains and fly fishing on creeks and rivers is of the utmost importance. So the first thing we did on our first weekend off in our new home was to hop in our car and scope out our surroundings. Together, with our little dog in the back seat, we sought out new places to get out in the wild.
Lucky for us, we didn't have to search very long or far. The Sierras are just a quick drive away. Yosemite is right there too, and we plan on spending most of our free days getting lost in those mountains. (Read, a high volume of blog posts documenting our adventures in these places coming your way!)
1. Keep a good attitude and embrace the experience for the adventure that it is. (Having an amazing partner who is right there with you every step of the way doesn't hurt either.) *wink*
2. Seek out places and things that you love. Get acquainted with the new areas in which you will spend your time and can live out your passions in.
3. Establish a new routine.
4. Find the beauty around you. Find the adventure around you. Explore.
Many anglers make the mistake of thinking that once Fall comes around, it's time to store the fly rod and wait it out until Spring. Not true, my friend. Fall is actually an amazing time to hit the river. The scenery is beautiful, the rivers are lower and easier to wade, fish densities are up due to migratory trout, and there are - as previously referenced - fewer people out there to compete with over fishing room. With a good pair of waders and some trusty boots, all that's left is to bundle up and get out there.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while fly fishing in the Fall:
- Trout Behavior. Several species of trout spawn in the Fall, and consequentially, they become much more territorial and aggressive than they are in the Summer. This can be a good thing for the Fall time angler. A lot of times in the Fall, fly fishermen will opt for streamers, as spawning trout are more likely to chase after and attack these types of flies because they simulate an intruder in the trout's territory. However, I am here to urge you to give dry flies a chance. Fishing with dry flies in the fall can be fruitful and rewarding. There are still hatches going on through September and October, and trout will feed readily on dry flies, if you play your cards right. Pay attention to the colors and patterns that you choose. Nymphs and streamers, though an easy way to ensure that you catch a fish, wont offer the thrill and challenge that a dry fly will. If you pay attention to water temperature and sunlight, it is still very possible to experience great fishing on dry flies throughout the Fall.
- Stealth Is Important. In the Fall, the sun is a lot lower in the sky during the day which means longer shadows. As every angler knows, shadows can spell disaster when trying to pull one over on a trout. A longer shadow, combined with lower water levels means that it is much easier for trout to see you coming. And, if a trout sees you coming, that's it. Pay attention to where the sun is, and be mindful of your shadows and where they are being cast. Also, be sure that your clothing helps to camouflage you. Wearing neutral, autumn colors is a good idea. In other words, keep the neon in your closet.
- Be Aware of Water Temperature. Typically, in the summer time, the best times of the day for fishing are the early morning and the evening. During the day, sunlight shines directly onto the water making it easier for fish to see you. Water temperatures get higher which causes the fish to get lazy, so it is generally agreed upon by anglers to be a good time to sit it out. But in the Fall, the opposite tends to be a good technique. Cooler water temperatures actually may result in the fish getting lethargic in the early morning and evening, and becoming more active mid-day when the temperatures rise a bit.
So, in case you needed any coaxing or motivation, there you have it! Fall is an excellent time to fly fish and it provides anglers like me who enjoy tactical fishing with even more elements to challenge our abilities.
Sometimes it seems like the end of summer comes so abruptly. One day you are wearing your cutoffs, summer dresses, and tank tops, and the very next day you are bundling up in wool sweaters and scarves. The arrival of Autumn can be sudden and extreme, and it can be hard to cope with the fact that it is now officially time to rotate out your wardrobe in preparation for the colder months ahead. Especially for the outdoor adventurer, the end of summer can be a somewhat gloomy prospect. It marks the end of carefree, dry, summer explorations, and promises less predictable and sometimes less pleasant weather that can tend to feel like it will inhibit all outside activities. But never fear! The arrival of Autumn does not need to mean the end of your adventures!
Here are some ways to help with your transition out of summer and into the colder weather that awaits us:
- Beef Up Your Cold Weather Inventory! Just because the weather is turning, it doesn't mean that you can't get outside and have the time of your life. But it does mean that you need to make some changes to the gear you bring along. Take inventory of your cold weather gear. Make sure you have adequate rain accommodations, like waterproof clothing, gaiters, and shelter. Switch your light weight quilt out for your 0 degree sleeping bag. Stock up on a Merino Wool hat, base layers, and socks. And be sure to throw in hand warmers, instant coffee, and some Mountain House meals - because nothing beats a hot meal on a cold night in the backcountry. If done right, a cool Autumn night spent under the stars can be an unbeatable experience. The key is preparedness.
- Commit To Your Adventures. The thing is, in the summer time it is easy to go camping on a whim, or throw your fly rod in the back seat and head out to the river for the day. The sun is shining, the weather is great, and the cold isn't a factor. As the seasons turn though, it can be harder to find the motivation to step into the river or head up into the mountains when it's chilly out. So, the solution is to make solid plans for your adventures, pack up all of your cold weather gear (that you have already taken inventory of and ensured that you have), and -this is the important part- DO IT! Just do it. No excuses. A little cold is certainly worth the memories you will make. Mark your adventures on your calendar so that it is harder for you to back out. Commit to getting outside, even in the colder months. As long as you have the right gear, you will be comfortable and have a great time.
- Find Motivation In the Season. Autumn can be one of the most beautiful times of the year to get out into nature. With the changing colors and crisp, clear air, you will find scenery that you wont get in the Summer. Autumn is an excellent time to hit the river for fly fishing. Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking that with the end of Summer, it is time to store your fly rod. The view from the middle of a river surrounded by yellow Aspens is something that you just have to see to believe. And you wont see it if you don't get out there. So find motivation in those seasonal sights and go explore!
Don't let the cooler days get you down. Prepare, plan, and then go have some bright, fall-colored, brisk, cool-weather adventures!
Check out the interview that the WWDClub did with Wild Writes founder Anna M. Cohen!
If you've been fly fishing for long, and particularly if you have been using primarily dry flies like me, you are surely aware of the fact that some times the bite is on and sometimes it is not. When it is not, you trek up the river for hours, casting and switching out flies to no avail. It is disheartening. It is tempting to simply throw on a nymph or a streamer...anything to improve your odds of catching something.
Not catching anything can put you in a bad mood faster than snagging a bush on the opposite side of the shore can.
But, when the bite is on - well, there is no better way to describe it than to say that it is magical. The sense of euphoria that engulfs you when you land one giant trout after another on a dry fly is something that you wont get anywhere else. It means not only that the fish are eager and hungry, but that you are giving them exactly what they want. You're doing it right.
I recently just absolutely killed it on the Ruby river in Montana. It was unlike any other day of fishing that I have ever had. I could do no wrong. The moment my fly hit the water's surface, it was gobbled up by one monster after another. Killing it on a dry fly is not only fun and exhilarating, but it's also reason to feel pretty darn good about yourself. Because catching a trout on a dry fly is arguably tougher than any other method of fly fishing. It is fly fishing in its purist form, and when you catch over a dozen in a matter of a few hours on one? Well you can consider yourself the proud owner of some major bragging rights, my friend.