The Uintas [Feat. Zappos]

To celebrate the conclusion of a long week, I gave myself part of the weekend off from school and hit the highway in search of tall trees and rolling streams.

I teamed up with my friends over at Zappos.com to show you #HowIRoam in my Blundstone boots.

I spent the afternoon traversing waterfalls and scaling cliffs in the beautiful mountains of the Uintas.  It was the perfect amount of time out of the house and as far away from the textbooks as possible - a good reminder that hard work deserves a little reward every now and again (and again, and again, and..again!)

I truly can't say enough good things about Zappos' fast (free!) shipping and incredible customer support. Within two days of placing my order I came home to a fresh new pair of kicks.  They were the perfect addition to my day exploring Utah's wilderness.

..and now back to the textbooks.

Boots pictured: here.

Welcoming Autumn

Getting a weekend day off is a rare occasion; getting a weekend day off when the sun is shining and the air is crisp is a damn-near-miracle.  It just so happened that the fates aligned and I was able to beckon in the changing leaves with a mellow cruise down Big Cottonwood Canyon in Utah.

And I'm loving my new cruiser from Penny Boards.

Hoping I am able to find some more time amidst the chaos of school (blog post about that coming soon..) to enjoy this amazing weather before everything freezes for the season.

Pictured: Neptune 27" nickel board.

San Juan Islands, Washington

Orca whales, commonly referred to as killer whales, have been a favorite animal of mine since I was a young child. Predating my aspirations to become a surgeon, my 5 year-old self aspired to be a whale trainer (as most 5 year-old selves do).  Fast forward 21 years later, and I find myself temporarily living in Washington.  As if this state doesn't have enough to explore, it has islands. And these islands have orcas. So Laura Lawson Visconti, Victoria Wright and myself packed our bags and hit the sea in search of whales.

We partnered with San Juan Clipper Vacations for an unforgettable whale experience.  We left from Seattle, WA (literally 4 blocks from my house, score!) on a water ferry, which took us to Friday Harbor. From there, we went on a whale watching tour.

Let me tell you a little bit about whales.  Orca whales travel in pods.  In Washington, the local whales are referred to as "the southerners".  They are broken into familial pods, and remain in/around the area.  Then you have "the transients".  These are your gypsy whales.  Pretty much the baddest bad-ass, meat-eating orcas out there.  These are the ones that won't hesitate to swallow your kayak whole.  I kid, I kid.  These whales travel thousands of miles. They come and go from all around the world. That fact alone blew my mind.  But my most favorite fact about orca whales is that they exist in a matriarch-led society. That's right: the woman is the pack-leader in this tribe (so of course the orca is my spirit animal). And fittingly, we embarked on a ladies-only trip in search of these magnificent creatures.

While on our boat ride, we encountered a pod of whales we were told was the "L-Pod".  To see these mammals swimming free in the wild was truly magnificent. Whales are such marvelous, impressively large creatures.  Their dorsal fins alone are oftentimes taller than I am.

We stayed at the oh-so-charming Earthbox Inn in Friday Harbor, and took advantage of their free beach cruiser rentals.  Lesson of the trip: back-pedal brakes aren't the most effective form of quickly stopping.  Sorry about your flower bush, guys ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The following day, we set out to find whales by kayak.  We toured with San Juan Outfitters, and were lucky to have the coolest guides ever (shout-out, Chris + Jordan).  It may or may not have been decided that this place employs only the best looking staff. It was also decided that Laura, Veek, and myself are by far the slowest paddlers in the Pacific Northwest.  The 10 mile trip was supposed to take 5 hours.  Let's just say..it took us 6.  And despite our best whale calls, no orcas breached (or even swam, for that matter) around our kayaks.  I did hold a jelly fish though.

We spent our downtime enjoying the amazing scenics of Friday Harbor, biking to and from the cutest lunch spots in our Teva sandals, trying to eat ice cream before it melted in the blazing sun, asking strangers to borrow their boats (to which they obliged!), and having picnics with Bota Box in tow.

It felt like such a charming summer vacation, I forgot I was still in Washington.

And now to the best part: I am teaming up with Clipper Vacations - who were so kind as to provide this once-in-a-lifetime experience to us - to giveaway a whale watching experience to you and a friend. Details on how to enter over on Instagram!

Lessons From the Island

It's been a month since I've been home from Kauai, and I still find myself thoughts wandering off to that trip.  Kauai is one of those places where everything sort of comes together.  You have rain, you have sun, you have leisure, you have intensity.  It's the perfect canvas for a choose-as-you-go adventure. 

I'll be transparent for a quick second: life has been hard.  I say this without intention of eliciting a "woe is me" response, and must clarify with the statement that life is good.  But it is hard.  My husband is committed to his career, and I am committed to mine.  His requires he remain in Seattle, while mine beckons me back to Salt Lake. With this comes many trials and hardships - as if the communion of two inherently flawed individuals doesn't present enough obstacles to overcome already.

But the island offered a temporary reprieve from the stressful and pending life-decisions ahead of us. It offered a never-ending diet of tacos (everyday, I kid you not), hundreds of chickens alongside the road (cue: dirty jokes), salty hair and endless sunburns.  We drove with the windows down, sang at the top of our lungs, and broke a few rules. For 9 days, we were free from the constraints of adulting. 

We stayed in Princeville, which we quickly discovered to be located on the rainy side of the island. Luckily rainy Kauai pales in comparison to rainy Seattle, and it didn't stop me from consuming shave ice each afternoon.  We paid a few visits to Queen's Bath until the tides were low enough to safely swim in it.  Queen's Bath is a local tide pool typically only accessible in the summer months due to the dangerous currents and waves notorious for claiming a few lives.

I think my favorite activity of this trip was hiking down to Wailua Falls.  When I say "hiking" what I actually mean is "lowering-myself-down-a-steep-cliff-via-vines-and-tree-roots".  Like I said, we may have broken a few rules.  In my opinion, it (coupled with the 28 mosquito bites I came away with) was a small price to pay for the opportunity to swim under a waterfall in the middle of a tropical forest.

My takeaways from the trip are as follows:

  • Life can be simultaneously difficult and incredible.  Sometimes the struggle to stay afloat is what makes you appreciate walking on land.
  • Taco diets are the best diets (unsolicited plug for Paco's Tacos!).
  • If a sign says not to do it, it's probably worth doing.
  • Wear bug spray when hiking in a warm, tropical climate (I forget this, without fail, every time).
  • Josh can only listen to the My Chemical Romance album so many times before he's over the thrill of the throwback -_-
  • Regardless of how hard I try, I will never be able to consume an entire Kauai-style shave(d) ice on my own.

CREDITS:

SWIM SUIT: PacSun (here)
TANK: Amuse Society (here)
HAT: Free People (here)
DRESS: Free People (here)

Photos of me taken by @joshuaparker