Alaska: whatareya doin to me

I was 28 years old and working in a Deli. I would set my alarm for 4:40 am…knowing that I had to be at work at 5 am didn’t matter to me…. it’s not as if I had to put on makeup or do my hair… whether I decided to show up at all… didn’t matter to anyone except me… my rent.. my student loans… car payment… weren’t going to pay themselves… I could quit at any moment and it wouldn’t matter… my manager could call someone else and have my position filled…. it didn’t matter how many hours I worked or how many shifts I covered.. it didn’t matter how hard I worked or how late I stayed past my shift…. it never mattered who’s job I was doing and when.. who I surpassed in skill and knowledge… none of it mattered. Yes.. I got the 50 cent raises and yes…I got the occasional pat on the backs… but overall.. I was always dispensable… a person who.. when questioning authority… was an easy target.. an easy person to get rid of… and I knew that… I knew that I was too old for this job.. too bitter.. too much… so I quit. I didn’t intend on quitting in the moment… here’s what happened: there was a predicted snow storm.. my boss made it clear that everyone HAD to be to work the next day.. that if the snow was too bad for someone he would pick them up. Two days before this “snow storm” (a snow storm in Seattle is five snow flakes hitting a windshield) I got into a horrible car accident.. totaled my car… could’ve died. BUT I made it to work… I got a ride and I made it past the “snow storm”… a manager called off and my boss told me that I had to do her job (I was doing it anyway, and not being paid for it) …. so I had it… I finally fucking said something… “I thought you were gonna pick up the people who wanted to call off”… and his response… in front of everyone was… ” bitch bitch bitch, if you don’t like it… then leave”….. so I left… I had an epiphany… and said… “okay..bye” I clocked out and left. Because YES, I bitched… I bitched about the fact that I saw him.. my boss… pissing in the sink in the work kitchen..a week before…. because he thought everyone had left for the day… but I hadn’t left yet because I was picking up the slack from the “knowwitall” college kids who had better things to do than get work done… so I was the one to step into my bosses shriveled dick pointing into one of the sinks that I do dishes in. I was happy that we had that snow storm.. that blow up… I was so hyped that he said ” then leave!” like a five year old… he might as well have shoved his fingers in his ears and said “la la lala lala” it forced me to move on… in that moment I thought to myself “what the actual FUCK am I doing?” I was jobless. I thought to myself “fuck” I immediately updated my resume and applied to every job in the surrounding Seattle area… I was hired…on the spot…at every grocery store… I felt incredibly special… and by special I mean… why did I ever go to college?
While I know how to be charming in interviews that deal with customer service and stocking shelves… it made me depressed. I didn’t take the jobs. Luckily, I lived with Matt and had enough money saved up to pay for our rent… Matt worked in construction.. with friends that he adored… but as much as he liked his job for the moment….he knew that it wasn’t permanent… he wasn’t passionate about building homes for people who wanted heated floors and sky lights for guest rooms.
We were unhappy. We wanted more out of life and we were sick and tired of answering to other people’s needs over our own.
We were living in a rented house in West Seattle… our own driveway.. our own little spot to plant a garden.. we painted the walls and decorated…I bought pillows from target and a tapestry from urban outfitters.. we were so hyped over this place.. we felt so lucky… until we started living there… we realized that every window in the house was painted shut… there was a major ant problem and the living room was so narrow that it was impossible to fit normal furniture…. we bought a fan.. ant traps.. and a love seat… we made it work… but after a year we realized that we spent well over twenty thousand dollars for a rented house in Seattle… with Windows that didn’t open and a bug problem. We needed a change.IMG_4256

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Matt grew up in the fishing industry. His dad’s dad was a commercial fisherman, his dad followed in those footsteps… Matt spent every summer in Alaska as a kid… running around the mountainsides and rivers and hillsides… when he got old enough he worked for the canneries…18 hour shifts at 16 years old… when all of his friends were enjoying hot summer days in Seattle.. Matt was riding his bike to and from a trailer in Alaska… working for pennies and wishing he was at home making out with his girlfriend… like every other teenage boy. While Matt was working at canneries at this age.. I was bagging groceries at Kroger and learning what alcoholism was… dealing with a step dad that had no filter and lack of awareness… a mom who was loving and giving and trying her best but crippled by panic attacks… I was attending community college but never focused… just trying to get away from the both of them. While Matt continued to learn and better his education… majoring in Spanish and becoming fluent in the language… traveling to Argentina and Brazil…. I worked at Lowes… I became fluent in drills and saws and which fertilizer you should use on your lawn… but I also saved money… I saved and I saved and I saved…. and I left… I went to Ireland and Italy, Croatia and Amsterdam and Germany and Austria… and I didn’t do it on a college education… I did it on my own… my mom bought me a backpack for the journey… I still have that backpack… it’s a great backpack and I still use it.

Matt said to me one day “let’s buy a boat”, after many drinks and arguments later… we flew to Alaska and bought a boat. We “toured” boats… rain or shine we saw them all. To me, they all looked the same… aside from the one we landed on. We landed on the one that started… put the key in the ignition… it started.. we bought it. Every other boat we looked at had cracked windows… a sketchy engine.. sketchy seller.. leaky roof… just… oh who am I kidding… we bought what Matt’s dad told us to buy. From the moment we bought it.. it had something wrong with it.   The moment it started raining.. Matt and I started to chain smoke… every part of our boat leaked… it was in storage for two years and started up right away… great…the engine was okay… but the cosmetics were fucked. We ripped the ceiling out… the stove.. the floor.. everything. While doing so we discovered old cds that were left behind… so we listened to Santana for hours and hours and hours. We scrubbed, scrapped, and sang “Maria Maria” as if music was being discovered for the first time.

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The boat was ready, we were ready to get out there and fish.. our boat was solid. Hours passed. We passed Mick’s boat and waved to him.

We were catching fish but not many and were ready to go home, the weather was getting worse and the waves bigger.. it was my first time out on the open ocean so every little rock against the boat felt monumental… I was scared before Matt got on the radio… he had been on the radio the entire time with his dad.. it was comforting to hear the static of the back and forth… “dad are you on channel so and so”…… when his dad stopped answering the radio… we both thought that he was fixing something on his boat… Matt kept calling and I finally told him “stop bugging him”….

Boats began to race by… we changed the channel and heard “coast guard come in! Dances With Clams!”… Matt flew into gear and we found his dad’s boat.. driving around in circles… there was someone on board.. my heart sank and relief fell into my stomach…”there he is!” “His boat is just fucked up!”… “PHEW!”… we got closer and realized that it wasn’t him… it was just a guy shrugging his shoulders “what’s going on?”

Finally helicopters came. Fucking. Finally. They were called hours ago. After driving around for hours… they are here… we drive our boat towards the other rushing boats.. towards the sand bar…. the tide was low enough on this little island in the middle of nowhere that the helicopter could land…. that his body could wash up on. We couldn’t land our boat on the land.. it was too dangerous…. so instead we had to watch and wonder…. is he okay? We gave a “thumbs down” and “thumbs up” signal from our boat with no avail…. but I knew. I knew what was happening. They weren’t rushing to get him on that helicopter. As we stood there on our boat… I wanted to hold onto hope even tho I knew there wasn’t any….. Matt just kept screaming… was so sure that he was okay and so happy he was found. The coast guard rode a boat up to ours… Matt asked if they were taking him to anchorage.. the coast guard said “Matt, your dad is deceased we have to figure out what to do with his boat” I sat there on the fish hold.. shocked… in the middle of the ocean……I didn’t realize that it was real until matt said “uh.. okay?” And collapsed into my arms.

“I DON’T KNOW!” is what Matt yelled back at them, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”…was his normal response….”WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!”…..we were in the middle of nowhere..our boat bobbing along the waves..each word tossed around like a game of ping pong….words echoing off the surface of the water…the wind barked like a dog..injected..gasping for its last breath. A boat by the name of “Cost Recovery”, decided to stick around and agree to drive “Dances With Clams”  back to Cordova, he didn’t know our route..he didn’t know us…he didn’t know us..at all… he took hours out of his time to drive a boat..foreign to him… back to safety….I don’t know the name of this person….all I know…is that he saved us that night. I wish so badly that he knew how much we appreciate him. He never came forward and said “hey I did this for you”…is that fisherman code? I Don’t know, all I know is that….this dude brought us a sense of peace..at least Dances With Clams was in the harbor….whoever you are…THANK YOU. COST RECOVERY..PLEASE COME FORWARD.

Grand Tetons: Wyoming

 

IMG_5324When we began this road trip, Beyonce had just released her album “Lemonade” and like everyone else around the world, I listened to it religiously, over and over again as if no other music existed. When we arrived to Grand Teton National Park, I remember vividly; driving around the winding road and getting my first glimpse at these massive peaks, we were blasting Beyonce’s song “All Night” and with each passing mile the lyrics seemed to melt into the environment, matching up perfectly with everything that was happening, “found healing where it did not live”, “nothing real can be threatened, true love brought salvation back into me, with every tear came redemption and my torture became my remedy, so we’re gonna heal” in my opinion, there is no better healing than that of being on the road, amongst the sky and the clouds, to sit and watch as the mountains grow bigger around every turn in the road, to feel the air and savor the fresh scents of the wild, it renews the spirit. It’s so easy to become bogged down by the daily activities of life, it’s easy to feel hopeless and overworked, it’s easy to complain and feel sorry for yourself, what is not easy though, is pulling yourself out of those negative thoughts. Regardless of the torture that Beyonce sings about, her music has a way of making people think, had me thinking..still has me thinking, reflecting, on my own torture. My own sort of “torture” is mental, constantly feeling as though I’m not good enough, I don’t appreciate the little things enough, not compassionate enough or pretty enough, or whatever! One thing I am sure of though is that, what brings me true love and salvation is the outdoors, being in the world without any distractions, feeling alive.

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Grand Teton National Park is so close to Yellowstone National Park that one may think that it is just as over crowded and swarmed by tourists and assholes as Yellowstone, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not! Don’t get me wrong, I love Yellowstone..but The Tetons…to other people who are less informed..view this park as the second choice..a place to camp if yellowstone campgrounds are full…it’s the little brother to tourists..he’s cute but he’s just not as muscular and athletic as the big brother. Which is fine by me!… I tend to route for the under dog, they’re less predictable and a lot more exciting anyway. here’s an example:

We arrived in the Grand Tetons, and easily found a place to camp, set our tent up and went exploring. We gazed at the sharp mountain peaks, the dark red colors of the leaves, the contrasting lime green of the grass and the bright yellows of the plants that were on their last leg before winter. We saw a numerous amount of foxes, running wild and planning their winter itinerary, they were big and their eyes bright when they came into contact with ours. These foxes looked more like full grown Golden Retrievers over the slim, swift, illusive creatures that one may see on nature shows..but, swift they were, one second you see them, the next second they’re gone. As we hiked along the path in the woods we obtained many glimpses of the mountains that lay beyond them, little snippets of jagged rock peaking through the trees, their presence immense and unforgiving, like a lion amongst other mammals, demanding respect.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetIMG_5347After we indulged ourselves of hours of probing the land the sun commenced to set and we began our trek back to our campsite. When we reached arms length of our tent we started to relax at the thought of building a campfire and spoiling ourselves with smores and a bottle of wine, we were cold and we were tired, excited to unwind. When we approached our quiet, dark, and uninhibited campsite…I screamed!

A HUGE buck jumped out from beneath the bushes, looked at us..startled as well…his antlers beaming in the last remaining sunlight he walked away, as we approached, he ran…the look on his face almost.. annoyed. We stood staring at each other, no words.

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The thing about Grand Teton National Park is that it is so wild, unexpected, beautiful, and exhilarating..that if you’re patient, quiet, and appreciative..that if you’re main goal is not to get the perfect “selfie” but to gain experience..if you really want to see something wild..if you REALLY love animals and trees and mountains and water, want to get a good camping spot in the middle of it all..this is the place for you…but you have to remember..these places exist because of the love for them..pack out any trash that you bring in, keep noise to a minimum..please don’t be that person that hikes with a subwoofer strapped to their backpack, bring water and snacks no matter what..look out for other hikers, be aware of your surroundings, and PLEASE don’t hike off trail…you could get lost or damage the area with your footprint..just..GIVE A SHIT! CARE! BE AWARE! Have fun you guys, I hope this little blurb inspired you to go here, because you should…it’s absolutely amazing, stunning, and just..just go here.

Carlsbad New Mexico

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetWhat can I say about Carlsbad Caverns? If you have no fears of claustrophobia, no qualms about being nine hundred feet under ground in a cave surrounded by darkness, or anxieties about random drops of distillation falling from the abyss that encloses you, then yeah!, this place is awesome! Oh relax, I’m just kidding. Carlsbad Caverns is a National Park, there is a ranger station with plenty of smiling faces to point you in the direction of the cave and while they pass you a pamphlet, wish you good luck towards your impending doom while you descend into the darkness.

With all kidding aside, the mood changes upon entering this gargantuan hole in the ground. Everything above it is full of essence, surrounded by statuesque cacti and sand so dry that the distinguishing cracks under ones feet feels as though the thought of tripping on a dinosaur bone isn’t far fetched. The sun glared down without any surrounding clouds, the heat of it; absorbing into my skin causing us to sweat immediately. As we approached the Caverns and began our descent, the air changed rapidly with each passing step. Suddenly, I was basking in the obscurity of the light, reveling in the cool, stark, emptiness of this cave, the immediate change in temperature felt like the sensation one feels after diving into a pool on a scorching hot day, I was loving it!

On our way down we passed many people on their way back up, they were winded (to say the least) and many of them jokingly tried to get us to turn back, “it’s not worth it!” they’d say, “go back while you still can!” each and every one of them, making eye contact with sparkling eyes, each exasperated breath wild with excitement for us, for what we were about to encounter.

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It’s so hard to describe a place like this, so wildly ancient and alive at the same time that I am glad that I armed myself with an actual camera, giving light to the mounds of limestone and sulfuric acid that formed these massive embankments, these chalky, volcanic, lumpy, and dark enclosures that are home to nothing but the tiniest insects and bats.

DSCF2187Traveling through this area made me feel small. I was an insignificant being sporting my Patagonia jacket and iPhone, while the roof above me bellowed with a deafening silence. The Caverns consumed me, the dripping sound from above was met with silence from the rest of the cave, an echo that had my nerves on end. We were hundreds of feet under ground, surrounded by massive structures of rock, that looked as though they had been chiseled and beaten down, purposely formed by artists, but they weren’t. I had a hard time wrapping my head around this fact.

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Let’s see, if you are someone who seeks adventure, who desires the exciting fear of the unknown, wants to be surprised, exercised, baffled, and on the edge of your seat..this is the place for you. Carlsbad…believe me, it’s bad, it’s badass, it’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s everything that a traveler desires. DSCF2199oh, also, back in the day…dudes used to travel down into the inner depths of the cave with nothing but this rickety old ladder…this is a part of the cave that isn’t even accessible as of now, it’s considered to be “too dangerous”… I don’t know, it seems pretty legit to me. *guhhhh*

New Mexico

 

I have been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling in my twenty-nine years of age. To discover as much as I can about this tremendous world is what I am most passionate about. I have been to almost all fifty states and have seen many National Parks and Forests, every one of them unique and beautiful in their own way, but if I had to recommend one above almost any other, it would be White Sands National Monument. It is one of the most spectacularly inspiring places that I have ever visited. What makes this destination so unique is the simplicity of it, the expansive open space covered in nothing but luxurious white sand; accompanied with the few shrubs and flowers found strewn sporadically about in every direction. There are no sounds of ocean or rivers or lakes in the distance, no birds chirping amongst the sky, or sounds of wind licking past tree branches, there is no sound, it is a place that forces one to hear the thoughts in their own head, a place to be present and to find comfort in silence.

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I had anointed myself with many layers of sun block before we began our trek out into this desert terrain, I figured that I would conquer the rays in this way and that sporting nothing but a sports bra and shorts would allow myself relief of any heat that I would endure on our way. Boy was I wrong. The sweltering heat from the sun had me wishing for a t-shirt and hat, panting at every step and climb up and down the frequent hillsides. I could feel the sun penetrating my skin, mocking my ignorance as we continued. As my sandals pressed into the sand, I could feel the cool of the grain and decided that my sandals were only slowing me down. I took them off and immediately felt the cooling sensation resonate throughout my entire body, the sand was so soft. I was immediately transported to the days when I was a kid in Michigan, when the summer days were long and the heat made my body feel sticky. This sand made my body feel like the sheet I would pull over myself in my parents bedroom, the only room that had air-conditioning; cool, relieved to have a layer on that offered comfort. Before long, Matt joined my barefoot idea and took his socks and hiking boots off, and after that, we scaled the hillsides with a new found vigor. We were no longer trapped in our concentrated desire to reach our campsite and instead, had fixated our minds on the beauty that surrounded us. We were alone in this place, this quiet place that if the trail hadn’t been marked by poles, we could easily get lost in. There were no other footprints, tents, camp fires, or litter. So, we got lost, we reveled in the thought of it, planted our asses in the sand and started sledding down each and every hill. We chased each other, we laughed, we screamed, we dug holes and buried the beers that we brought along deep into the sand, we carved out chairs for ourselves, and just sat, we sat winded and excited.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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The sun started to set and we pitched our tent, Matt grabbed us a couple more beers and off we went, chasing the sunset that this region is famous for. There we were, tired from the fun, the hike in, tired from the sun. We sat there, neither one of us speaking, awe struck by the colors illuminating the the vast milky scenery. Pinks, hot and light, the kind of purples everyone loves; the crayons that they remember coloring with but can’t name, the sort of oranges and blues that only one can dream of.  My mind was racing with the silence, my mind was overwhelmed with thoughts, with the demons that run through everyones head when they are forced to clear it, when there are no distractions. This is the moment that Matt grabbed my hand, the night had set in and he had decided that it was the perfect time to go exploring. With nothing but the moon light to guide our footsteps we walked, RAN, everywhere. Everything looked the same in the dark though, and as we walked and ran and tumbled, I made sure to shuffle my feet through the sand, leaving a clear imprint and path back towards our campsite. When we returned (following my brilliant plan), we made food, and got to know the local beetles that inhabited this place;  big, black, burly little suckers, that when you came near them, were fully aware of it; would spread their wings and hiss at you.

Without the sun the desert grew cold, the night had nothing in its way from blocking its stark, boreal chill, but still we felt alive, the biting air nipping at our insides, giving us a second wind. We drew pictures in the sand with our fingers and our toes pretending that we were giving signals to aliens, drawing long faces with big eyes, ..we were in New Mexico after all, a place famous for its extraterrestrial sightings. We basked in the cheesy delight of their phenomenon.. we had to let the desert know that we came in peace.

We went to bed and woke up in the morning as the sun began to present itself. We quickily made ourselves some coffee and scurried up the tallest hillside that we could find. The air was still chilly and the heat against our hands from our coffee mugs was perfect, as we drank, the sun advanced over the hilltops, giving life to the flowers in the desert whose leaves had grown droopy through the night, giving life to our puffy eyes and fatigued brains.

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Again we sat, silent and gazing, waiting for the day to set in. As the stars burnt out with each passing moment we reached the bottom of our coffee mugs, the frequency of each sip absorbed slower. When the remaining grainy bits of our coffee stayed anchored to the sides of each of our cups, we gave a cheers to one another, a cheers to the day ahead, and off we went.

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California

 

As I sort through random notes in my phone, describing less about the places we were in and more about the way that I felt when I was there, I am having a hard time describing this particular trip. We started from Seattle, our first destination being California, Yosemite National Park. We never really had a set plan, we mapped out where we wanted to go and just got in the car the next morning and started driving. We didn’t call ahead for camping spots, we ignored the internet when it told us that Yosemite was the most popular National Park in the country, and that it would be difficult finding a place to camp without booking in advance, we read many blogs… we read trip reports..we ..you know..considered them, but in the end decided to wait last minute and just go.

If you’re anything like us, you work a regular job, you work long hours, you work for a pay check and when you’re trying to plan a trip in between working 40-60 hour weeks, you’re exhausted and ready to get the hell out of dodge, planning a full itinerary feels exhaustive, and wheres the excitement in that anyway? When Matt and I travel we are less focused on getting tickets punched at a museum or making sure that we get to a certain place on time, we try to live in the moment and enjoy the little bumps in the road; to us thats what traveling is all about. We would much rather get lost in an unknown place, chatting with the locals for suggestions of fun things to go do or see, we try not to get bogged down by weather reports, we take our chances on whether or not something may be closed or not, we adjust to what’s happening in the moment and figure it out from there.

As was predicted on the internet, we weren’t able to find a spot to camp on our first night. We drove around and around and around after driving for hours just to reach California. We stopped at a gas station around 11 pm and fueled up on coffee, played the normal car games, and ate lots of trail mix and chips before deciding to pull off on a random dirt road. Our asses were aching from sitting for so long, and our brains had become mush; laughing hysterically at every little messed up thing that was happening..like the idea of just staying on this dirt road..”what if we just slept here in the car”, so we did. We shook our heads and sighed at the thought of repositioning this VERY packed car in order to sleep on this very creepy and very silent dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

In the trunk of the car, curled up like a rollie pollie, I felt the sun hitting my face, warming me to the very core of my body, dissipating the previous nights moon that had me latched onto Matthews body, eager to find heat, if not comfort. We were tired still, and our minds weary, the sun in that moment felt like an eager kitten ready to play, pouncing on us from every angle through the windows.

Sprawling out onto the day though, felt ethereal, we were in the middle of nowhere. Screw all of those people that said we wouldn’t find a place to camp. The sun was blazing, the air felt fresh and warm, and we were still 20 miles from Yosemite which meant fresh coffee on the way.

It was my first time in California, and the unlit sky from the night before did not allow much sightseeing. Driving away from our little spot on that dirt road the morning after; yielded my senses into over drive. Peering out through the windows I saw Ponderosa pine trees, Black Oaks, and the famous Giant Sequoia trees that California is known for, each one, getting bigger with every passing mile. I could not wait to get to Yosemite, I could not wait to walk amongst each one, to get a whiff of their distinct perfumed smell, to FINALLY get a feel for the trees, air, and the mountains the way that John Muir had described it so many years earlier, to fall in love with the real thing the way that I had fallen in love with his words.

We reached the last gas station before the park, we fueled up on gas and coffee, happily filling our styrofoam cups, choosing from the regular four varieties that most gas stations offer, all molten lava hot, all tasting like tar diluted with water, we didn’t care.  As we downed them and drove, we saw the big, bold, block lettering “Yosemite National Park”, we had arrived.

We went straight to the Rangers Station, asked for a map and the quickest way to hike to a camping spot; back country. The girl giving us information resembled a Girl Scout rather than a Park Ranger, her eyes bright and excited, pointing assuredly to where we should go. I was a little concerned by some of the things that she had to say, one of which, that Yosemite Falls had dried up by this time of year, which we were fine with, what concerned me was her absolute certainty that the river near the hike we were supposed to go to had not dried up as well. How could Yosemite Falls, the biggest waterfall in North America be dried up and not this little river that neither of us had heard of? We decided that she was the expert, she worked in the park and knew more than we would, guiding us towards an eight mile hike in, knowing full well that we had brought a water purifier instead of a bunch of water bottles, she handed us our bear canister and off we went.

It was a dream, there was no one around and we had the land to ourselves. It was blazing hot outside so we drank from the two water bottles that we had brought along with us, taking long sips without regret, we had reached our destination. Mounds of golden white rocks surrounded us, as well as mountains and the sparse trees that found a way to survive at this elevation and temperature. We sat down on one of the many cliffs and enjoyed our pb&js, our trail mix, and our apples. We sat in silence for awhile, enjoying the favorable, cold, juice from the apples, taking pride in ourselves from the uncomfortable night before and the long hike we had just endured. We took in the beauty and watched as the sun started to go down before we got up and decided to find that river that the Ranger was telling us about. Before long, we realized that there wasn’t any river, and for a good hour we explored and kept going back to the map, “according to the map, it should be here”, “well maybe you’re reading it wrong”, I was getting tired after already being tired, so Matt decided to climb the highest rock in sight while I sat watching our back packs, I sat admiring the trees and the moss that managed to cling to them, and the way that the sun was starting to hit the mountains, illuminating them with it’s setting, turning them purple and pink and every dark shade of blue. After awhile I began to wonder where he was, why he was taking so long to find this river, and realizing that we should’ve set up camp by then.

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He finally came waltzing down from the swallowing rock face, and as he neared, I could tell by the expression on his face that we weren’t lost, we had just been given faulty information. We sat, sweating, and completely dumb founded by our situation, the sun was going down and it would take hours to get back to the car, so we contemplated and came to a decision. We would set up camp and stay the night. We were still hungry, even after our pb&js, our trail mix, and our perfectly crispy and juicy apples… we had hiked miles upon miles and our backs were sore from our packs, and our feet were aching from dodging rocks. We had half a water bottle, some almonds, two beers, and two dried food meals that required water to be edible (mind you, we also had a water purifier with the thought that there would be an abundant water supply). We took our little stove and boiled the beer, and cooked our dried food in it. We figured the food would be okay, even delicious, like eating beer battered chicken, or macaroni..we both took a bite at the same time, I used the only utensil we brought while Matt used the torn edge of the bag of food, and we both agreed that, holy shit, this is the worst thing that any person could ever consume. It was as if all of the tasty flavoring that beer has, was evaporated into nothing but a pure taste of alcohol, we sat there taking turns of trying to gulp this “meal” down. This “Meal”, that tasted as though we were taking shots without any of the fun benefits, while slurping down half cooked noodles accompanying a powdery substance, leaving a grainy texture in our mouth. We ate as much of it as we could without it running out of our mouths and down our chins, it was absolutely unbearable, but we knew that we needed the calories to make it down the mountain the next morning. We took the rest and dug a hole far away from our camp and poured the rest of it in there, we covered it with lose branches and rocks in caution for bears and retreated to our campsite. We tried to take comfort in our surroundings and be thankful for the beauty that surrounded us. We found a log and parked it next to the fire, we sat, and as Matt was stoking the fire, we realized that bees had engulfed themselves in our territory. The log we chose to relax on had a bees nest in it.  I had had enough and resided to our tent.

The next morning, we packed up the tent, and the remaining bits of wrappers from our feast we had from the night before in a storage bag, and made double glances to make sure that we followed the golden rule of the wilderness “leave no trace”. We were so tired, it was 6 a.m. and already, we could feel the heat of the sun, we had eight miles of hiking in front of us and a half a bottle of water to last for the both of us. We both took a tiny swig, and on we went. The morning was a beautiful one, every mountain peak illuminated by the sun and another mountain range, the trees swaying the way that they always do, the wind tucked away, never constant, teasing us with its random breeze, we walked and we walked and we walked, drenched in sweat while carrying these thirty pound packs on our backs, I had to stop constantly when ascending, if we had to ration the water, I just simply could not hike at the normal pace that I was used to. My face was beat red and Matt was huffing and puffing the whole way through, trying to be strong enough for the both of us, urging me on, all the while pointing out the names of mountain ranges and what animals may live there, trying to stay positive even though I knew that he was dying inside. He was an inspiring force that forced me to get through this ordeal that we had gotten ourselves in, giving me the water and resting when I needed it, never taking a sip of water for himself. As we hiked and the sun beamed down on us, practically bragging about what a beautiful day California was having, there was still, no one in sight, no one to ask for help, no one to ask for water or directions. On we hiked, up and down, up and down…JUST, dehydrated and begging for an end. When we finally reached to a part of the trail that signaled an end, Matt stopped in his tracks, handing the water bottle over to me and telling me to chug. Without thinking, or even considering him, I drank it all in one gulp, ten minutes later.. we could see the car and as Matt casually sauntered up the last hill, I RAN, I wanted to be the first one to reach the car…because I knew exactly where the gatorade was..I wanted to make sure that I had it located, READY, for matt to take the first, long, deserving gulp.

YOSEMITE, WOW, you’re a tough cookie!

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ALASKA

 

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Stepping off the tiny plane in Cordova and proceeding towards the airport that looked more like a battered shed one would keep their tools in, rather than a place I would gather my luggage and get my license checked, I could already feel the anticipation inside myself boiling over with excitement. There were no long and exhausting lines or neon lights guiding my direction, there was simply a room with a few chairs and a couple of friendly people at a desk, who more resembled park rangers over the cranky but well dressed attendants that one is used to seeing at a typical airport. Upon grabbing my bags I did not have to walk up and down terminals or rush down stairs and escalators in order to catch my ride, I walked outside into a parking lot where my love was waiting for me with a thermos of hot chocolate. I fell in love with Alaska immediately.

While driving out of an airport one usually imagines swerving in and out of traffic hoping not to miss their exit but driving from this airport into the little fishing town of Cordova, felt more like entering the backroads I crave while venturing into a forrest for a hike. I arrived on a rather cold and rainy day but while sipping the hot chocolate that Matt thoughtfully brought along, and looking out onto the enormous amount of space consumed by nothing but nature and the few tiny houses scattered along the way, I became absorbed in the wild and romantic beauty of it all. I had arrived in the summertime and could not wait to explore the “Land of the Midnight Sun” and felt lucky to be shown the ropes by my boyfriend, a commercial fisherman who’s spent virtually every summer there since he was a child. Alaska after all is known in large for the fish, and I could not wait to get a glimpse into that life.  Continue reading “ALASKA”

UTAH

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Road tripping to Utah was sort of a random and last minute decision. My boyfriend’s friend was visiting from Argentina, my boyfriend is Jewish, and my entire family lives in Michigan while I reside in Washington..SO none of us had any Christmas holiday obligations and with that we began planning our trip. The only thing I really knew about Utah at the time was from the various pictures I had seen of the National Parks and my absolute certainty that I had to explore this state. I also knew that visiting at this time of year would be cold but less crowded and in my opinion there is nothing worse than trying to take in the glory of the outdoors while pushing through crowds and waiting in lines. Visiting well known National Parks in the spring and summer seasons has its benefits and drawbacks, weather conditions are one of the obvious alluring benefits. Warm weather in general tends to make traveling easier, i.e., less packing, less worry over road conditions, access to things like trails, bathrooms, and campsites that may otherwise be closed in winter. If you are anything like me though and enjoy the escape that traveling offers, the unknown, and the adventure of exploring outside your comfort zone while saving money and avoiding hordes of people, then visiting popular places off season is the way to go ESPECIALLY famous National Parks.

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If I had to describe the scenery of Utah in one word I would use “ethereal”. For a person like myself who has visited almost all fifty states, driving into Utah felt like entering a different planet. Taking photographs of the landscape was particularly challenging for me because I was constantly peeking outside the lens almost afraid that my eyes would miss something monumental that a camera just wouldn’t be able to capture. The colors of the mountains and the history behind this particular region are so difficult to describe that it almost feels impossible to write about. My goal with this post is to inspire others to visit and remind people why it is so important to keep in mind that traveling is about experience and not just looking at things in order to get a great photo or write a blog post. I contradict myself in an attempt to encourage others to explore our planet with a sense of gratitude and simplicity. In my opinion, there were too many times on this trip that we crossed paths with people ill-equipped for the icy trails and cold weather, falling and hurting themselves on the way up mountains; complaining as if they were expecting salted gravel all the while carrying aztec blankets and wearing fedora hats while clasping their cold ears. I do not want to sound like a hater to the latest trends nor do I want to shame those who will go to any length to get a pretty instagram photo. I am simply pointing out the frustration of those of us who visit these places with different agendas and as human beings, feel a sense of responsibility to help the irresponsible people from their avoidable falls and complaints. There is nothing worse than being in nature and being stuck behind someone who takes it for granted, soils it with their naivety and lack of appreciation.  Please, put the phone down, clear your mind, try to take in your surroundings with your senses, keep in mind that in this day in age it is very hard to rebel against oneself and keep narcissism from overshadowing the beauty that exists outside of “selfie” mode.

Continue reading “UTAH”

Belize

 

This past year allowed me to embark on many destinations that I have been fantasizing about for quite some time, one in which was Central Americas country of Belize. What first attracted me to Belize was the scenery, browsing through hundreds of photos of palm trees, beaches, ocean, and sunshine. Unfortunately though, the little moths flying out of my wallet and crickets chirping at the sight of bank statements, did not foresee me enjoying a lot of sunshine or swimming in those beautiful turquoise waters. Traveling to Belize during peak season, as I discovered, can be quite costly. Tourism spikes between the months of late November to late April which brings with it the inevitable rise in costs in everything from rooming to site seeing. My Travel bug though, was biting at me, an incessant nag that would not let go. I had to accommodate this demanding need to fulfill my desire to see Belize. I started researching the off season and began weighing the pros and cons. The off season or “rainy season” in Belize runs from June to mid-November. While probing the internet I learned that during these months the rain can be relentless with the possibility of closing down attractions like zip-lining, or tubing down jungle ridden rivers (activities a thrill seeking addict like myself lives for), this was unattractive to me, BUT the plane ticket costs leveled my spirits and had me determined to delve into Belize a bit deeper.

I learned that Belize has an abundant and fascinating range of cultures and history, and that the amount of rainfall could not interfere with my gumption to explore on foot! Belize had Mayan ruins, jungles that looked like velociraptors could pop out at any moment, and bustling cities along with simple villages, where it would be easy to get a feel of local living. Screw the rain, at least it was warm rain, I’m going to Belize!

  • RENTING A CAR 

Continue reading “Belize”

About Me

Hi Everyone!

My name is Brittney and starting a Blog has been a long time coming project that up until now, has intimidated me from taking the time to really explore and turn into a reality. I have been traveling all over the world as often as possible for over ten years.  The moment my wallet gives me any inkling that a new destination may be possible I am already booking a flight, a train ticket, or bus pass.  For years my family and friends have been pushing for me to start a blog. I have told many stories, given a lot of advice, and filled many notebooks with scribbles, rants, new ideas, and discoveries I have found from all over the world. I am twenty-eight years old now and finally finding the confidence to throw my voice into the abyss of the cyberspace crowd; the world of talented, intriguing, and curious minds coming together to share their personal stories and expertise. My main goal in creating this blog is to communicate my travel experiences in which will hopefully make a fellow travelers journey easier. I hope to talk about hikes, restaurants, rooming, sites, cultures, and everything in between! Thank you so much for reading and if you have a moment check out my new instagram! @livehiking

-Brit