Answers to Thirty-four Year Old Questions


Three days of travel. Three very long days led me to arriving in a city that was surrounded by question marks for 34 years. I never expected to make it back here. I never thought I’d find the courage to do so, but I was now standing on the soil of my birth place.

So, a little bit of backstory: I was adopted at 6 months from Bogotá, Colombia and brought to Michigan. It was never a secret, and instead my parents bragged about how they paid a lot of money and went through a lot of hassle to get my brother and I. That always made me feel special because my biological mother did a selfless thing by giving me up to have a better life and because there was no doubt that my parents wanted me.

Back to my arrival. I was on the edge of losing it when my plane landed in the capital city of Bogotá. I was on a few hours of sleep, grumpy due to having to deal with so many grumpy people along the way, and completely overwhelmed by the fact that I had made it to this place I never dreamed of returning to. The sheer size of the city was hard to process, let alone the idea that this place held answers to questions only a few people possessed and I only had a day and a half before coming face-to-face with a past I knew very little about.

I walked out of the airport to be greeted by the ‘expensive’ taxis. A man greeted me speaking Spanish and I tried to make it clear I wanted an official taxi even though it was more expensive. I had read multiple times to use them from the airport for safety reasons. He wouldn’t give up and after going back and forth very slowly in spanish and english, I got him to agree on a price before leaving…so I at least knew the price of my ride and possible abduction/robbery. My ridiculously heavy bags were loaded into his car and we were off. Looking back on this, it was a dumb move on my part. I was a somewhat obvious tourist even though I was able to communicate that I was born there. If you happen to visit, stick to the official taxis, the taxi queue, and getting a print out of how much the ride will be before leaving the airport. I feel like I got lucky. We talked quite a bit, as we had 45 minutes to get to Usaquén from the airport. We were equally patient with each other and our bilingual abilities. It was good practice before starting Spanish school the next day. I made it to my destination, had a lovely conversation with the host of the hostel I was staying at, and then I crashed. I was exhausted and in need of sleep so I wouldn’t fall asleep in class.

The following morning, I braved the most ridiculous traffic I have ever experienced. It took 45-50 minutes to go 7 or so miles. I arrived to school, met my teacher, my classmate, and my translator who would be accompanying me to the orphanage the next day. I was still so tired following class, and pretty much went straight home after. I gathered the original documents that my mom saved from my adoption, charged my camera batteries, checked that I had a clean memory card, and Netflixed for a while before falling asleep so early it’s embarrassing and I am leaving that detail out to keep my somewhat ‘cool’ reputation in tact.

The next day I woke early. I was so nervous and overwhelmed with emotions. Part of me didn’t want to go because I had no idea what to expect. I had a nice Uber ride, talking in Spanish with the driver and making him laugh with my do’s and don’t of goodbye in Spanish (Hasta la vista, bebé…he laughed so hard at this!). I got out, and Waze (a GPS app used by many down there) must have been a little confused. I wasn’t in a great part of town, but realized the orphanage was just a bit further north and on the other side of the road. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD?!!! Crossing the street is a bit terrifying without a signal, but it had to be done. Everyone does it down there, so what’s one more? The first three lanes to the median were easy. I then stood there for close to 5 minutes before there was a break in traffic. I made it across and saw my translator, Natalia. The iron gates were opened by the guard on duty.




I had become increasingly anxious about this visit as I delved deeper into finding out ways to obtain information, connecting with other adoptees from Colombia and Los Pisingos, and finding out some information that, to put it simply, broke my heart. I had heard from multiple people about adoptions occurring during the 80’s and 90’s being surrounded by scandal. I was told that during those times it was common for adoptions to be happening illegally. Parents would bring their children to these agencies, looking for temporary help with the plan to always come back when they could get back on their feet. Some of these agencies proceeded with adoption without parental consent and families were torn apart for money. I am unsure how much of this is true, and part of me is happy to live in denial that this happened at all and that maybe this was what happened to me. Regardless, it makes me very sad that there’s a possibility of truth to this.

As we walked pass the gate, I realized just how small the grounds were. A grassy area with a small building and a playground to my left, a tall brick wall to the right, and the main building at the bottom of the hill. We didn’t know where we were supposed to go, so we tried a few entrances looking for the director. We finally found her and she had completely forgotten about our meeting. We waited for her in her office for about 10 minutes. She finally came in and Natalia explained my situation and what I was after. I showed her the documents I brought and she translated what they said. I had thought these were more formal, legal documents, but these actually described the circumstances of my adoption, of my biological mother, and other details. As I write this, I can’t help but cry. The details I discovered were upsetting and completely deflating. I guess I didn’t want to admit to myself or anyone else that I had this hope of  someday finding family, finding a recognizable face, finding my place after feeling out of place my entire life. Coming to terms with that not being a possibility was hard, and I nearly burst in tears, but held it together. I had these grandiose thoughts that my biological mother knew the right thing to do was give me up for adoption so I could have a chance at life, a better life. Instead, it was that she didn’t want me. She brought me to the orphanage two days after I was born. Her family refused to help her as this was the second child she had out of wedlock. My sister, who was a year older, was with my biological mother’s parents. She brought me to the orphanage, went through physical and psychological examinations, and because she didn’t read or write, the personal information that was provided was only done so as a formality. The names on the paperwork and my birth certificate aren’t real, so I have no way of knowing who I’m looking for. She was also from the countryside. Another detail that makes it difficult to search. I processed my options in my head really quickly. This information was such a blow and I was done. I didn’t want to experience any more of this. They offered to start the process to possibly find the documents on my biological mother’s physical and psychological exams, but again, I was done. She pushed a bit and said she’d forward my information to someone at I.C.B.F., Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (Colombian Institute of Family Welfare). I let her do so, but I knew I’d never follow up.



Following that, she said she wanted to show me something. She went to a cabinet full of folders and pulled out a whit album. She said that all of the adoptive parents wrote messages in it. She opened it up and started to turn the pages. And then I saw it. My mother’s handwriting. It was so beautiful, just as I remembered. I always envied her penmanship. The cursive was so perfect and fluid. She took her time with writing and it always looked lovely. I instantly started to cry. It was such an unexpected gift to feel my parents there in this way. Something they touched that I could see and touch myself was here in this unfamiliar place, in a new city, in a new country. I couldn’t read the message I was crying so hard…yes, ugly cry. The kind of cry where you have no control over the quick inhales, the snot, or the twisted face you’re making. It took more than few moments to get myself back in control of my body. All of the disappointment was worth it to have that moment with my parents.


I then walked around the building with Natalia, going into each room to take a moment, to take a photograph or two. There were a few classrooms, a medical facility that a doctor and psychologist would visit for appointments. There was a playroom decorated with arts and crafts, activity schedule, toys, a ball pit, and a sandbox. We then made our way up the stairs to the second floor. It was now a empty space that was being used for choir rehearsal. The group was practicing as we reached the top and the soloist got shy and their rapping became a lot quieter. We went into the room across the hall. I burned that image into my brain. This was the room I spent the first 6 months of my life in. This is where I slept, where I was fed, where I was taken care of. I stared out the window, taking in the view, and contemplating what life could have been like for me if I hadn’t been adopted. It definitely would have been a harder life. From all of the people I met and talked with, it would have been a continuous struggle to make ends meat, to survive. I am so thankful for my parents and all they did for me. To take in a child, one that has no blood relation is a challenge and it’s not for everyone, but I’m so glad my parents had that capacity in them to love me as their own, to give me everything I could have ever needed or wanted. I miss them every single day and wish they could see me and see how happy I am. I owe everything I have, everything that I am able to be, to them.


After reflecting on this trip from time to time over the last few months, I have no regrets. It was an emotionally draining trip, at times frustrating, and I was paranoid about my safety much of the time, but the moments of warmth, kindness, laughter outweighed any struggles that I faced. Those memories will stay with me forever and they are the things that make me want to return to spend much more time exploring outside of Bogotá. I am sticking with my decision to not continue to search for any more information about my biological mother or adoption. I have enough answers and can finally close that door. Curiosity no longer dwells in my heart. I am, however, curious about looking into dual citizenship since I found out that is an option for me. That could be cool.

As for Colombia, I highly recommend a visit. I will have another post about the things I choose to do while there, a lot of it centered around food (wink).

I’m So Excited, and I Just Can’t Hide It!

I’m So Excited, and I Just Can’t Hide It!


So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but it’s because I’ve had a crazy 2.5 months of travel between South America, Europe, and Seattle.

I did want to share some exciting news and also let you know that posts are coming about my crazy travel shenanigans. So, the exciting news…

I’m am beyond thrilled to share that I got to write a blog about my Everest Base Camp trek and it is now live on Anywhere‘s website! I’ve written about my experience here, of course, but this was my first professional assignment and I’m pretty proud of the result and that I was able to write it in a few days. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you can check it out here! You should also check out Anywhere as long as you’re at it using the links I provided above. They are the best at designing unique vacations and making all of your travel dreams come true.

Talk to you soon!!

*This is not a sponsored post. I truly and whole-heartedly believe in this company, I believe in what they do, and in the way they do it. They have integrity coming out of their ears!

“I’ve Always Wondered What It Would Be Like to Look at Someone and Know Where I Got My Smile From.”

I don’t even know where to start. I have so much to say on this subject, and yet I don’t know how to communicate all that has been/is going on in my head the last month or so without it coming out as complete gibberish. As I type this I keep having to pause, stare, take a deep breath, and stare some more before typing a complete sentence that makes sense.

Ugh, I’m rambling and still have yet to explain why. So. I’m from Colombia, you know the country in South America. The one that is spelled C-o-l-o-m-b-i-a, NOT Columbia. I’ve recently realized I’m not the only Colombian irritated by that misspelling. I was born in the country’s capital city of Bogotá. I am also adopted. My parents got lucky and were notified about me and a need for a home when I was only 3 months old. It was rare to get such a young baby and my parents were really excited to complete their family with one more (I have an older brother who was also adopted). They then spent the next few months preparing for a trip down to Bogotá from Michigan. Once they arrived to Bogotá, they spent their time in a nice little apartment and had a guide/translator, Pepita, who took care of them and helped them with whatever they needed. They did typical tourist activities while in Bogotá such as visiting the salt mines, and taking the gondola up Monserrate. And they had me. A little squishy me. One of the stories told over and over by my mom was when she laid me on the bed to change me for the first time. She asked if I was able to roll over and was told I was too young to do that or hadn’t done that yet. So she went to go fetch the diapers on the chair, and I rolled right off of the bed! She always told it with such pride, maybe thinking I was advanced for being able to roll over at such an early age? I don’t know, lol, it still makes me giggle and I can still remember what she looked like when she’d tell that story. While in Bogotá, there were some delays with my visa. It got sent to South Korea. So, between that and having a horrible time trying to reach someone at the consulate in Detroit, they ended up being in Bogotá for about a month. It was frustrating and stressful for them, but they eventually made it back to Michigan with a brand new baby girl for their son who was not too pleased about it.

I had a great life in Michigan. I lived in the “boonies” on lots of land that my dad had two gardens on. I loved to pick strawberries, shuck corn, and pick out the biggest and fattest pumpkin I could find when Halloween would roll around. I often wandered through the woods, back to the garden by the river, playing sports with the neighborhood boys, acquiring black eyes and scraped knees. I waded through the swamp, chased snakes, and later started taking photos of my adventures. I always ended up taking over my father’s Minolta camera. It was big and fancy, with multiple lenses, and my favorite was the zoom lens! I argued with and annoyed my brother, would make him beat the scary bosses in the video games to get to the next level, and would out-play him in basketball. I loved to bake with my mom, but especially my grandma because she always spoiled me. I definitely get my baking talent from her. I really couldn’t have had a better childhood. My parents always provided beyond what was needed.

My parents were also older, especially my dad, but my mom was the one with constant health issues, many of which the cause remained a mystery for years. She was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and unfortunately in her case, it continued to debilitate her and decrease her quality of life. It took away the things she so enjoyed to do, one by one. And then it took her leg. She was sad and angry, but tried to hide it as best she could. The last 6 months of her life I had been away for a month and a half, traveling around the Four Corners camping, hiking, photographing, drawing, and journaling for a class of mine. I was coming up on the last semester of my college years (finally) and I pulled away. My mom’s health continued to fail and she was in and out of the hospital more and more and her stays became longer and longer. I tend to have pretty good intuition about these sorts of things, so I think I was just trying to prepare and protect myself from hurting, but death (and life for that matter) are things you can never be prepared for. I will forever feel guilt about my response to her worsening condition. I acted like such a shit at times. I could have handled it better. I could have been more present. Coulda, shoulda, woulda…I at least had my goodbye with her. She had been in the hospital for a few weeks, in intensive care. I came to visit her before they  put her into a medically induced coma. She wasn’t able to talk because she was intubated, but through a mess of tears I was able to tell her that I loved her. Her condition was not improving and it looked like we would have to make the decision on whether or not to keep her on life support. I knew that she would be so unhappy, if she even came out of the coma, with her quality of life. It had already suffered quite a bit, and doctors said it would severely decrease if she woke up. I knew what we had to do, but we ended up not having to make that decision. Her condition worsened overnight and we were now told there was nothing else that could be done. So, our family gathered in her room. It was a Sunday. January 17, 2010. Just a little after 3pm. The sun was out in full force, a rarity in the middle of a Michigan winter. The machines were turned off. The tubes detached and taken out. The shell that was left was not my mother. To me, her soul, her beautiful spirit had already left. Her breathing slowed, little by little, with extremely long pauses in-between each inhale of air. And then it stopped. It was eerily quiet and we all knew it was done. It’s now almost 8 years since that day, and I’m still recovering. I don’t know that it’s possible to recover from losing a parent and watching them take their final breaths. All I know is that you adapt. You learn how to breathe again. You learn how to get out of bed again. You learn how to shower, dry your hair, do your make-up, again. You learn how to drive, do your laundry, pay your bills, go to work, laugh, love, and live. Again. It feels like you’ve made it. You’ve figured it out. You’ve healed. And then a bad day comes along, and it’s as if you just lost them all over again. That is part of the process, too. To know you are going to have those kinds of days, that kind week, or month…that is life when coping with death.

After my mom’s passing, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to my dad. He was already in his late 70’s, but in great health for the most part. I was so scared that he was going to die of a broken heart. My mother was his life. He stood by her through everything, loving her as fiercely as someone can love another human being. He took his vows seriously and loved her through all kinds of sickness, in the worst of times, and he did it with a smile and with laughter. I think it’s his fault I’m so picky about my choices with men. He set the bar pretty high and not many men come close to his example of love. I lived with him over the next few years, and noticed his age start to creep in. He used to go on daily walks down the road, getting in at least a few miles. Then he started carrying a walking stick, and then his walks were out to the mailbox and with a walker (we did have a long driveway). Falls became much more frequent and the Michigan winters with lots of snow and icy patches worried me terribly. Our roles started to switch, and I had to tell my dad that he couldn’t do certain things. I had to scold him. I hated it, but I also didn’t want to see him get hurt. That was one of the hardest changes to swallow. I was now the ‘parent’ and he was the ‘child’. Then came the time where it wasn’t safe for him to be driving anymore. He was hard of hearing and I eventually managed to learn to shout when talking to him, but his mobility became more and more limited, his reaction time slower and slower, and I knew we had to have that discussion after a doctor’s appointment. It was tough, but he understood, and we went forward from there. This was also around the time that he had a growth on his forehead appear. He was diagnosed with skin cancer years ago after being a young sailor who had spent too many afternoons on his boat without sunscreen. He was also a redhead and sun-exposure and him never really agreed. After that diagnosis, he was very diligent with using sunscreen everyday, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, and wearing a hat when outside. He’d occasionally have to have spots ‘burned off’ (surgically removed), but he never made a big deal about it and came home with the area covered with a bandage. This new growth was different. It grew quickly and his dermatologist wanted him to see a specialist on the other side of the state at the University of Michigan. So we made and appointment and a few days later I was sitting nervously in the doctor’s office with my dad. I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. I’m sure my dad’s dermatologist knew what it was, but it needed to be confirmed, and unfortunately it was.  My dad had a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer called Merkel Cell Carcinoma. From there on, we were coming back for tests at least once a week, a 2.5 hour drive there and a 2.5 hour drive back. It was decided that since the cancer had spread to my dad’s neck, surgery would be needed. My dad was in great health for his age, so the doctor thought he would handle a large surgery well. They would cut the mass out of this forehead, and they would also cut around his ear and down his neck to remove his lymph nodes, the method in which the cancer used to metastasize. The doctor was hopeful he could remove everything and get it cleaned out. My dad was in surgery for nearly double the amount of time estimated. I was terrified he wasn’t going to make it past surgery. It was hard to watch him come out of anesthesia, and see the strong man I grew up with who was my hero and protector, look so frail and helpless. From there he went to the ICU, nearly bled out after accidentally tearing tubing out when he rolled over, and would end up being brought back to the hospital and rehab facilities multiple times over the next few months because of illness, infections, poor care, etc. It was frustrating because a fast time line to get his wounds to heal was essential to getting him to the next phase of treatment which was radiation. I knew his medication list and schedule, his history, his allergies and medication sensitivities…I could run down his medical chart as if I was an intern reciting it to my attending. I was his caretaker. I was his nurse. I cleaned out his gaping wounds three times a day. It wasn’t pretty, but fortunately those kinds of things don’t get to me very often. I had to be his advocate and often times my frustration would come out with yelling, tears, or both. I knew we were running out of time. I knew this was not going to end the way I hoped it would. And then the visit with his PCP came around to tell us that the cancer metastasized. It was now growing in multiple places in his body. Multiple systems. It was devastating news even though I knew it was coming. We were then connected with Hospice. Our team of nurses and in home aides changed. I had new medications for pain to learn about and administer. It was now about making my dad comfortable.

From there, his memory started to go. He was often confused. He was sad. He was trying to make sure everything was taken care of, loose ends tied up. He’d hallucinate and be stuck in periods of time where the dead were now living again. His appetite became smaller and smaller. He slept more and more. He would wander at any given time of day and I was going off of very little sleep. I was always on alert and afraid that he would start a fire, or wander outside and hurt himself. I couldn’t continue to do it by myself. As painful as it was, and as much as I felt like a failure and that I was letting him down, my brother and I came to the conclusion that he needed to be put into a facility that could monitor him around the clock. I made it as much like home as possible, but it wasn’t his home and I was so mad at myself. My guilt ate away at me, and still does. He was very geographically close to my brother now and his sister. They were able to visit a lot. Not even two weeks later he was gone. I received a call from my brother in the middle of the night and I cried until the morning. I was glad he wasn’t suffering any more, and that he was reunited with my mom, but I felt like an orphan. I felt so completely alone. All I’ve ever wanted was to be a part of a big family that was close knit. And now it felt as though I had no one.

I spent the next year taking care of everything. I made sure my parent’s estate was dealt with in the proper way, all accounts were closed, all bills paid, etc. After settling all of those details, I was completely lost. Everything had changed. And that’s when all of my travel started, which opened my eyes and I started to forgive, I started to love, I started to remember the things that gave me joy…I started to live again.

And now, after months of trying to figure out my next travel move, my flights to South America are booked. I leave October 27th to head to Portland to catch my flight the next day to Quito. I then catch a flight from Quito to Bogotá. Over the last few days, I caught a little bug, and have remained in bed for the most part, researching and connecting with multiple adoptees from Colombia and Los Pisingos (the orphanage my parents got me from). I have been blown away by the support and the well-wishes from complete strangers who know a part of me so intimately because they’ve been through the same thing. Some I’ve talked to were even there at the same time! One woman even asked a bit more specific information suggesting we could be related. I looked through Facebook to find others with the same last name who lived in Colombia. One woman popped up and could be around the age as my biological mother. I stared at her photos. I looked at this stranger analyzing every line and curve of her face to see if we shared anything. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to look at someone and know where I got my smile from. To look at another person and have the possibility of that being there stirs up so many emotions. As I type this, I’m in tears. I never thought this would be something I’d explore.

I have managed to set up an appointment with the orphanage to visit and to take photos. They’ve recently had issues with their licensing because of corruption and illegal practices, which left me brokenhearted. My parents always spoke so highly of their organization, but I’ve now learned that this happened after new staff had taken charge of operations. Recently, as far as I’ve been able to tell, they are up and running and licensed again. I hope to get some clarity on this when I visit. As far as the rest, I’m not sure what I want to find out, what I’m ready to find out. I may look into getting more information on my adoption, on my mother, but I may realize I’m not ready. I don’t think I will know until I am down there and visit the orphanage. I’m just trying to stay as open and positive about this as possible.

So it’s now a few weeks before I leave. I have lots to take care of before I go and lots to finish planning. I still need to verify things with the school I’m taking intensive Spanish lessons at. Four hours a day, five days per week! REALLY wanting to get the language in my head this time and hoping nearly full immersion and a month and a half will help! Besides those details, I’m think I’m ready to go. I’m really nervous about how I will get through this on my own. It’s a lot to navigate through without having support with me, being somewhere I’ve never been, and being in a place where I don’t speak the language…it’s concerning. However, I’ve come to realize that I’m a strong person and my life’s tragedies have only better prepared me to handle the unknown that’s accompanied by the unexpected. Whatever happens, whatever discoveries are made…I will be thankful for. I know that not all adoptees get the opportunity to return to their birth place. I am extremely lucky. I am extremely thankful. I hope I make my parents proud.

Training Log: Keeping Myself Focused On My Mountain Goals


October/November/December Fail

Oh, Lord have mercy!!! I totally fell off of the wagon of documenting my training and then fell off of the training wagon. I’m not in the mood to beat myself up, I do enough of that on a normal basis and will instead give you a run down of what has been going on and what my plan is from here.

So, I got a little overly focused on my trip down to South America, mainly the visiting of the orphanage portion of it. While I was trying to mentally and emotionally prepare for that, researching on what I could do to get information about my adoption, researching the status of the orphanage I was at, I lost track of training, but I was training. Once I got to Bogotá, I was so busy with school and I have never felt so paranoid in my life. Everyone telling me to be careful about where I go, when I go, what I have with me (specifically my camera and cell phone) and that I shouldn’t take it out in public…it made me terrified of everything and besides walking up and down the hill to get to and from my hostel, there wasn’t  much going on in the way of training for a week and a half.  I eventually started to gain a sense of my neighborhood and felt safe to do my usual training.

Once I got to Quito, I was walking around a lot with my AirBnb host and we went camping and hiking the few days leading up to Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi turned out to be something I felt I wasn’t prepared for. Whether it had to do with me getting pretty sick the day before or not, I felt that I needed to do more with my training and target specific areas of my body, focusing on gaining strength. While on Cotopaxi, I felt as though my legs tired out way too quickly. I was definitely in unchartered territory wearing new mountaineering boots and trying to move properly with crampons, while being roped into two other people and using an ice axe. If it had been a week of acclimatizing and moving from camp to camp, no problem, but the up and down in two days just felt like more than I was ready to tackle.

I loved getting lots of practice on the glacier, getting comfortable in crampons and having a better idea of what it’s like to be roped in and how to move safely, but I will definitely need more practice and more experience to feel like a confident and capable mountain person (not ready to call myself a mountaineer). I’m proud of myself for trying and now I have a much better understanding of what I need to do to be ready for the next time. I will never give being on the mountains up. I love it way too much even when I’m so miserable. With more practice and training I hope the misery lessens and the enjoyment increases exponentially. Without a doubt, this will forever be a happy place of mine.

September 2017

This ankle thing is highly frustrating. It bothers me after activity, but not all the time. It bothers me after rest, but again, not all the time. It makes no sense and I think I’m deciding to get on with it, and build up my low impact training over the next week. If I wait too much longer, I’m worried I will not be ready for my mountaineering trip in Ecuador in a few months. It’s uncomfortable at times, but nothing that I can’t power through? I desperately want my time at the top of Cayambe and Chimborazo and this kind of sport has it’s share of being uncomfortable, so I’m going to roll with it, and hope it doesn’t get worse. Incorporating stretching, ankle strengthening exercises, ice, and acetaminophen when needed.
9/1 Feeling pretty sore today, not just ankle, but all over from my Storageland training yesterday. Loaded van for Storageland today. Iced ankle.
9/2 Storageland…need I say more.
9/3 Last Storageland training session. Ankle is feeling better, was on it again for most of the day, bouldering in storage again, a few times I over did it with certain movements. This girl is sore. It’s hot and will continue to be this week.
9/4 rest day, but did 30 seconds of sa plank, not modified!
9/5 sa plank 50 seconds (3x)
9/6 sa plank 50 x3, walking around running errands, no problems with foot
9/7 storageland training strikes again. Thought I’d be done for a few weeks, but had someone wanting to buy my drafting table. The drafting table buried in storage. A few hours later it was loaded into my van and my storage space was better organized. I’ll be sore tomorrow. 30 minute walk with Jo and the fur kids. Felt good and we even got rained on for a few minutes.
9/8 Ankle bothering me a today, too much with storage, but had to be done. 3 min sa mod plank
9/9 same
9/10 same
9/11 same
9/12 same
9/13 3.5 min sa mod plank
9/14 2 min sa mod plank (2x)
9/15 15 min standing ab workout screenshot
9/16 girls meetup, fell off the wagon, 2 nights out on very little sleep
9/17 2 min sa mod plank (2x)
9/18 sa plank 1 min, elbow  plank 45 sec, 5 min toned arm screenshot
9/20 3.5 min sa mod plank, walked 4.8 miles in DT Seattle, feelin good
9/21 1 min sa plank
9/22 1 min sa plank, frustrated with ankle, feels fine then doesn’t, not necessarily due to activity
9/23 1:05 sa plank
9/24 1:05 sa plank
9/25 1:05 sa plank
9/26 1:15 sa plank
9/27 1:15 sa plank
9/28 15 min standing ab workout screenshot, 1:15 sa plank, 3 sets of 25 leg lifts
9/29 Proud of myself for doing a plank after a night out with some new friends and wine, lol 1:15 sa plank
9/30 Volunteered all day at Rainier National Park planting native plants in areas that had been destroyed by visitors going off of the trails to get photos. Got very dirty, got a nice little work out making my way up to our spot from Paradise and digging holes, and enjoyed a beautiful day at one of my favorite places in WA. 1:15 sa plank


July/August 2017

How has it been a month already??

Since making my training plans known, I continued with Zumba and hiking for the remainder of July. I switched to Zumba to do something different and give my mind a bit of relief from the bore that walking can be. Sometimes, all the music and podcasts can’t motivate me enough, and I need a break. So, for a while I was dancing hard, and it felt great. It was every single day, for 2-3 hours. The last day of July fell on a Monday, so I decided to get back to my regular training regime which was walking with a fully loaded pack. I decided to start a little lighter than what I had been carrying on hikes which was 30-35 lbs.

Things started out well. I stuck with the training even when the insanely hot weather moved into Washington. I’m talking temps in the 90’s and 100’s. That heat meant I had to be at it early if I wanted to get it done. The wildfire smoke that moved down from British Columbia added another concern of very poor air quality. I probably shouldn’t have been out on some of the days or had the windows open when on the treadmill. Hopefully, I didn’t do any damage to my body that will bite me in the ass later in life. Anyway this is what my days looked like initially:

7/31  2 hr walk on treadmill, 28# pack, increase in incline, 3, 6, 9%, 45 second straight  arm plank
8/1   Same
8/2   Same…already 70 and its only 8:30am, ran last mile, sa plank with 28# pack for 30 seconds. Tough day-wanted to be done after 45 min, but stuck with it and worked on mental toughness.
8/3   Walk at Frye Cove Park with 28# pack, lots of hills, very hot, sa plank 45 sec, another mental toughness kind of training day. Super smokey.
8/4   Air quality really bad from BC wildfires, advised to stay inside, walk with 34.5# pack, 3-9% incline on treadmill, sa plank 45 sec
8/5   Zumba 2 hrs, sa plank 45 sec
8/6   2 hr treadmill, sa plank 45 sec, 34.5# pack
8/7   Zumba 2 hrs, sa plank 50 sec
8/8   2 hr treadmill (little bit of treadmill dancing), 35# pack, sa plank 50 sec, 2 mile evening walk
8/9   1 hr treadmill, 36ish # pack, sa plank 50 sec, up to 12% incline and no less than 3% incline, 1 hr zumba pack was bothering my back

My foot started to hurt after this workout for no apparent reason. So, I decided it would be a great idea to drive up north to walk on in in the sand, over logs and rock, with a heavy pack (sarcasm). I’m an idiot sometimes…well, I’m extremely stubborn. This was of course a bad idea, but getting to see the tide pools full of colorful starfish, anemones, and crab was the such a magical experience. It was worth it. So, the length of time spent on the beaches, with my pack, squatting down to take photos and then getting back up, climbing rocks and beached logs made my foot/ankle/leg feel much worse. I started to get really nervous. So I stayed completely off of it for days, only walking within the house, and icing  it every 45 minutes for 15 minutes for a good portion the day.
8/10 3.5 hrs walking Rialto beach with 35 lb pack, 1 hr walking Ruby Beach with lighter pack 15# maybe, sa plank 50 sec
8/11 Ankle and leg hurt today. Feeling sorry for myself. Head immediately goes to me not going to Patagonia, ugh. Modified ( from knees) sa plank 50 sec
8/12 Worry swirling in my head. Staying off of foot completely. Mod sa plank 50 sec
8/13 Mod sa plank 50 sec
8/14 Mod sa plank 1min (x3)
8/15 Mod sa plank 2:10, today is my birthday and I nearly forgot to get my planking in, minutes to spare before 12am to get it done.
8/16 My foot is feeling a bit better, 30 reps 1 set of: bent over reverse fly/bicep curl/shoulder press/reverse bicep curl/upright row/pullover, mod sa plank 2:10, plus extra one for 1:05
8/17 Mod sa plank 1:05, sa mod to elbow plank and back up to mod sa plank 1:05, elbow plank 1:05
8/18 Mod sa plank 2:30, sa mod to elbow plank and back up to mod sa plank 1:30
8/19 Mod sa plank 1:15 , 1:15 mod elbow plank, 1:30 mod sa plank
8/20 Walk at Farmers Market for 30 minutes, foot felt ok, feeling optimistic, mod sa plank 1:30 (x3)
8/21 Mod sa plank 2:00
8/22 Mod sa plank 2:30 (walked a bit on date, regreted both walking and date)
8/23 Mod sa plank 3:30
8/24 Full plank on elbows 45 sec, 45 sec mod plank on elbows both back to back, 1:30 sa mod plank (ankle not ready for full plank) 😦
8/25 Back sore, didn’t want to strain, day off
8/26 Mod sa plank 3:00, ankle really hurt yesterday, going crazy, just want to do be a person and move around…patience is a virtue
8/27 Mod sa plank 3:00
8/28 Mod plank on elbows 1:30 (x2)
8/29 Mod sa plank 3:00
8/30 Been standing on my feet and moving around a lot the last few days preparing to move to Seattle. Foot/leg feeling good for the most part, still being careful though. Thirty minute walk, very leisurely, feeling ok, thinking 15 minutes would’ve been better, 3:05 mod sa plank
8/31 Storageland workout 1 hr, so sweaty while moving a ton of heavy sh** and “bouldering” to get to spaces in my unit to leave more of my nonsense…wanting to give all of it away after today.

So, I thought I’d share a few of the things that motivated me while training, made me happy, and helped me to finish my two hours:

Mounika and Alex Cruz on SoundCloud, NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me…one was a fantastically hilarious story about Harry Caray, The Moth Podcast (so many great stories, highly recommend, but beware of listening in public: I cried because of them), and endless amounts of iTune purchases…those always got me to treadmill dance.

So, I would brand this month of August a successful failure. I kept with it, but because of injury, I wasn’t doing what I had hoped I’d be doing. I will continue to walk and very gradually add time. I most definitely do NOT want to jeopardize my Patagonia trip/South American Adventure to explore my birth country of Colombia (I’m adopted and haven’t been back since I was a baby). This is a brand new travel development that I hope works out. Anywho, I’m still in it to win it and hope to be ready for a trek in Patagonia (and maybe some climbing outside of Quito, Ecuador come November??)! Will report back in a month. Over and out!


Mountain Fever and Holding Myself Accountable When Training

View from the top of Townsend with Rainier in the background.

I’ve had a whirlwind of a year and I learned that I not only love being around mountains, but I also LOVE to be on them and go up. It is a feeling like no other. I love taking on the challenges that are presented, and I especially love conquering them. My love is simplistic, and it’s not necessarily about a summit. Don’t get me wrong, I love that feeling of being at the top, but I think I can honestly say that a summit doesn’t complete my experience, it just enhances it. It’s the isolation, it’s the beauty and the pain, it’s the straight-forwardness of what you have to do every day, what you have to do to survive.

Since moving out to Washington, I have been fortunate to see lots of mountains and be on them quite frequently. I will continue to explore my new home and check things off of my hiking list. So far I have done The Duckabush Trail, Copper Creek, Big Creek Loop plus the Ellinor connector trail, Big Si, and Townsend. I haven’t been disappointed by a trail yet. The scenery is always amazing. My friend and I have plans to go to Rainier next week and hit the trails. I AM STOKED.

So, the point of this blog is to publicize that I have these goals I’m working towards and to hold myself accountable and stay on track. It was suggested to me by a friend to keep a log of my workouts and my over all progress. I think the best way to go about it and to not clog up my blog with multiple posts about this topic is to update one blog every month with my activity and to maybe summarize how I’m feeling and what improvements I’m noticing…?

Just to give you a little background, since last year around this time, I have lost about 45 lbs. That amount is the weight I’m needing to carry while trekking in Patagonia in November, and when I loaded my pack up with this weight it felt super heavy. It’s amazing that I use to carry that amount on my body all the time, every single day. It definitely puts things in perspective. I’m proud of myself for being able to take that weight off and keep it off even though I’m not to my goal weight yet.

My diet has changed drastically. I rarely eat junk…I don’t want to waste money on something that only temporarily makes me happy and causes me trouble. I no longer eat a lot of meat, veggies are king, carbs don’t exist in my world very often, dairy is few and far between, and sugar outside of fruit has almost disappeared. I drink a ton of water. I indulge myself every now and then, but for the most part I stick to things that are good for me. After taking out so many items from my diet, the things that I do put in my body taste so much better. Avacado oil is amazing. Hummus is my BFF. I love the days I have my breakfast smoothie (green tea, spinach, flax seed, banana, pineapple, raw cocoa). I’ve gotten beyond the cravings and have noticed my stomach has shrunk. It’s been a great lifestyle change.

So, I’d like to continue to lose weight, build muscle, and tone. I don’t weigh myself often, but rather go off of how I feel and how I feel in my clothing. I’m down four pant sizes and wearing articles of my wardrobe I haven’t worn in years. My other long-term goals include being ready to go back to Aconcagua and reach the summit while carrying all of my gear, to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, and to reach the summit of Rainier.  I think Rainier takes the cake because it would allow me to learn technical skills and experience similar situations that one would have on the big girl mountains. Rainier is also in my backyard, so it’s right there waiting for me. Beyond that, I’m not really sure…or maybe it’s that I don’t want to/I’m not ready to say those goals out loud yet.

Anyway, I don’t know when my next opportunity will be to attempt any of these, but I’m kind of hoping to tackle Rainier next summer. I think that’s a realistic goal as long as I keep up with the training. So, if this kind of thing interests you, I will be posting every month with my daily activity, maybe some stats, maybe some photos, and a summary of where I feel I’m at. If this doesn’t interest you, well, sorry. Any words of encouragement are appreciated. Suggestions for training are also welcomed.

And in case you were wondering I got 3 hours in today! It’s a good start!

When You’re a Woman and You Need to Pee, Poop, or Menstruate Outdoors


So, I’m a female and recently I have been a female in what seems to be a predominantly male world. This world has included trekking in Nepal and Argentina. As a female, I have a few obstacles to figure out that a man doesn’t even have to consider and typically doesn’t even want to talk about. I’m not trying to bash men, but as a woman it happens all too frequently that I have to censor myself to avoid making a man feel uncomfortable, awkward, or grossed out. Yes, I am talking about peeing, pooping, and periods in the outdoors.

While trekking in Nepal, I never had to figure this out in the way I had to while in Argentina. Being an individual that sweats A LOT, I never had to pee while on the trail. I lost my fluids via my sweat and via my face! I was always able to make it to the lodges we stayed at to use the facilities. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t always the most glamorous of setups, but there was always a spot designated for business time and that was always appreciated. Even if that had not been the case, I knew I’d be comfortable enough to take care of things outside after having experience with doing just that in years prior. There were also plenty of opportune places when trekking in Nepal, and everyone was respectful when someone had to go.

I was recently in Argentina with the goal of trekking to the top of Aconcagua, the tallest mountain outside of the Himalayas. It was myself, and two male friends, and one tent for most of the time moving up the mountain. I went into it knowing I would have to use a pee funnel, a bag for all of my pooping, and I’d have to figure out how to navigate my period while on a mountain, all while enduring some pretty cold and windy weather.  I had googled these things to see if any other women had written about their experiences in similar situations, but I didn’t find much on these topics. There were a few about the FUDs (female urination devices) and how to use them, but I wasn’t really finding first hand accounts from women on what to expect, troubleshooting, or simply what it was like for them being a woman and dealing with these things out in the wilderness far from modern conveniences.

So I’m taking it upon myself to write about these things. I want to make it less of a taboo and open up conversation that could lead to getting more women outdoors and being awesome! I’m hoping this will be helpful for at least one other female out there. I am relatively new to trekking, and maybe it’s common knowledge in the female community of trekkers, mountaineers, etc.? And maybe it’s not. This could at least be for the newbies of hiking and trekking to make it feel less intimidating and do-able.

Right off the bat, you need to get over your own inhibitions. You need to know that it is okay to do what you have to do to take care of those primal needs. Don’t feel embarrassed that you have to fart, or poop, or squat to pee, or pee completely out in the open. Don’t try to wait for the perfect situation because it most likely won’t happen and you will be so uncomfortable with a full bladder that is ready to burst. The benefits of being outdoors far outweigh the drawbacks, but there are always uncomfortable moments especially while at elevation. I realized it took way too much energy to try and pretend I was the woman who didn’t pee, poop, or menstruate. I didn’t have the energy to give to keep up that pretense. And don’t forget, it was often very cold and windy. Getting my boots on, climbing over one of my friends, unzipping and zipping the tent door, walking away from the tent, pulling my pants down, squatting while keeping my balance, and keeping my pants away from my female bits and pee stream was soooooooo exhausting.

Even more energy was lost when I couldn’t remember which pocket I stuffed wipes, hand sanitizer, or my waste bag into and then frantically searching for these things. It definitely helped to have a  kit, and after a few days I started carrying a gallon ziplock bag with hand sanitizer, baby wipes (get more than you think you will need), and the GoGirl with extension. Looking back I wish I also had another ziplock for the used wipes. I ended up wasting precious baby wipes on wrapping the used ones in a new one.

Peeing was the easiest for me. I practiced with the GoGirl before leaving, but never with the extension. I bought the extension for when I would have to use it in the tent with the guys because of stormy weather. Unfortunately, I continued to have problems with it and never felt very confident using it. I tried a few times in base camp, but ended up peeing on myself and at that point clean clothing was hard to find. I couldn’t  have my thermals or hiking pants that I wore many times over the course of two weeks smelling of urine. Three sweaty, stinky people did not need the added odor of peepee mixed into the equation. That was the point where I stopped caring. I got out of the tent, found cover if possible, pulled my pants down, squated, and gave myself relief without feeling an ounce of guilt or shame. I was over shaming myself because I’m a woman and my anatomy prevents me from peeing standing up while being inconspicuous.

Moving onto poo. On Aconcagua, your poop gets carried out with you. No poop is left behind or at least that is what is supposed to happen. You are issued a numbered bag that you must show Rangers and leave at a dumping station upon leaving Base Camp. It was a weird thing to carry around. I tied it to my pack and it swayed at the bottom left side as we trekked up the mountain. It was also weird to hold someones poo bag while they were taking care of something else, but it somehow also felt normal and hardly a big deal after all that we had been through together. It’s funny what you get over. You have to. You don’t have enough energy to waste on thinking about it, worrying about it, being embarrassed about it. Everything you have needs to go to getting up and down the mountain, doing it safely, and keeping yourself healthy and strong. I’m just glad I have two men in my life who are okay with the fact that I pee, poop, and period. I’m also okay with the fact that they pee and poop. We are all okay and we are all still friends. We survived.

So back to the poo bag. It was an orange bag, somewhat see through, and not the strongest or thickest of bags. My orange bag actually flew off of the mountain at C1 because I didn’t secure it well enough during a storm. That’s when I had to switch to my trash bag which was white and somewhat see through. That bag left nothing to the imagination…colorwise at least. That was a little embarrassing, I’ll be honest, but I got over it quickly. Next time I will definitely bring a few back ups to place it into in case it breaks or gets lost. I didn’t have any accidents with it, but my friend had a little one (the bag managed to get a few holes in it), and that’s something you don’t want. No one wants poo to drizzle on other things, especially on a warm, sunny day.

Now, actually pooping in the bag was a weird feeling the first time I did it. I think Americans have a weird relationship with their body and what it can produce. Everyone poops and pees and yet it is such a taboo thing to talk about and acknowledge. I’m glad I was able to confront this situation and be able to overcome my trepidation and fear of having to do this on a mountain that doesn’t offer many places to hide. As I mentioned earlier, I had pooped in the woods once before a few years back, but not into a bag, and I wasn’t carrying it around with me for a week. I initially held things in for a a day or two until I felt I was going to burst. I’ve always needed privacy for number two, but I had to get over that requirement after making myself uncomfortable. Fortunately, my man friends were really supportive and open to talking about it. They actually encouraged me to fart in front of them. It wasn’t a big deal because we were in it together and we all had to do it. So why pretend that we did anything but that?

I sucked it up and was the first of our three person expedition to do the deed in the bag. I won’t lie, it was a little tricky with the wind. I looked for cover, but I ended up having to go with my back to a cliff and the sun while facing our tent, all the while my squatting shadow casting itself onto the tent that my friends were in. I did it there because I had some cover using our tent, I just wasn’t thinking about what the guys were seeing while I was doing it…I can’t help but giggle while I type this.

There was one time I thought I was alone while peeing when I actually wasn’t. It was early in the morning at C2 and I walked to where I was behind enough hills for no one to see me. That’s when I heard the, “crunch, crunch, crunch,” of the snow coming from the direction I didn’t think I had to worry about. I had my pants around my ankles and my ass was in the air. All I could do was laugh. Nothing was said. He looked straight ahead as if nothing happened, which I definitely appreciated. I am also pretty sure it was one of our friends from the other expedition, lol.

Anyway, you figure out what works and what doesn’t. You figure it out quickly. I learned it was helpful to have the wipes pulled out one by one before doing my business, so I wasn’t struggling to get them out and having to have my bottom out in the cold any longer than necessary. Also, designating pockets of my jacket for certain tasks was helpful so I wasn’t searching for something I needed in a hurry. Make sure to keep the baby wipes close to you at all times so they are warm and not frozen or alarmingly cold when wiping sensitive areas. Tricks like that ensure you “pamper” yourself a bit. I may try using a pee rag for my next trek. I hate all the waste created with the wipes. I will still practice with the pee funnel, but I think I just prefer squatting. Less of a hassle and I know I won’t pee on myself as long as I’m paying attention. Another option I’m looking at is getting a hiking skirt. It would allow for modesty, but again, I may just be at the point where I don’t really care that much. That’s just me, you may feel differently and that is totally okay!

As far as menstruation goes, I originally thought, “I’ll deal with it when it comes.” Aunt Flow was definitely visiting during the trek, and unfortunately it looked as though she was scheduled to show herself during the window of our summit push. After talking to my guide and friend about this (he’s European and “they acknowledge biology” lol), I  decided to have my doctor put me on the pill to skip my period completely. I didn’t want the hassle of  having my heaviest day on the summit push or possibly having the effects be amplified by the altitude (I can get really severe cramps). I wanted to set up the best possible situation and give myself the best odds of reaching the top. So, I was on the pill, and everything was going great, until we moved to Camp 2 and I forgot to bring my pills in my pack. I went without them for two days and then my body decided to start the bloody process. I felt like shit. My symptoms felt somewhat amplified, and it was a tough and very bloody day. At that point, all I could do was laugh and roll with it.

I am a big believer in the Diva Cup (there are other menstruation cups, but this is the one I use) and had that as an ally. If you’re not familiar with it, it is a silicon cup that collects the blood. On heavy days, I need to empty it every three or four hours. On regular and light days I can leave it in for 6-12 hours which is so liberating! It reduces waste, which I’m a huge fan of, and also saves me money and paying female taxes that I would pay when buying tampons. It takes some getting use to when inserting it, and I still have my days where it’s a little difficult, but I love using it along with my Thinx period panties. Think panties are quality made panties that are anti-microbial, absorbent, and leak-resistant. They’re a bit expensive, but in my opinion, worth it. The combination of the two things pretty much guarantees that I won’t be walking around with blood stains on my pants.

Having my period on the mountain was the messiest and maybe most vulnerable of the situations for me. I ended up dumping my Diva Cup 3 times, as I resumed the birth control and it tapered off. Taking it out, dumping it, rinsing it or wiping it down, and then inserting it again takes time. I was thankful there wasn’t wind when I had to do this. Even more baby wipes were used because I also had to wipe down my hands (and of course hand sanitizer was also used). Having things set out was helpful, or at the very least knowing where things were in my jacket gave me an advantage to getting it taken care of quicker.

So there it is. It’s not always pretty. In fact, in can be really messy. It’s what being a woman is really like. We pee. We poop. We menstruate. Every second human being on earth does these things, so lets stop letting others shame us. Let’s stop shaming ourselves. They are normal everyday things that our bodies have to do, and when you’re on a mountain with a bunch of men, it can seem very intimidating and almost impossible, but I promise you it is totally do-able and isn’t as bad as you think especially when you have supportive friends with you.

Wow, I feel so much better now that this is out there floating on the interweb…don’t you???

Feel free to ask my any questions if you have them. I am no expert on any of this stuff, but I know what worked for me, what didn’t, and what I’d like to try next time. I’d also love to know if this helped you in anyway!! Don’t be shy…say “Hi!”

Two Road Trips Across the Country In Two Months

Originally, the plan was to move out to Denver after completing my travels around the world. I visited Denver in the last leg of my trip to look at apartments, but things just weren’t feeling right.

I spent the next few months on the go, in Canada and then in Washington (the state). It hit me like a ton of bricks that this is where I should be moving to. This is where I wanted to be and start a big and brand new chapter of my life!

I went back to Michigan for a time, trained for a few months, and then went to Argentina to trek up Aconcagua for about 3 weeks. Once I arrived back home I had a few adult-ish things to do and in about 3-4 weeks, all of my things from storage were loaded into a 16 foot Budget Rental Truck that I had to drive across country by myself. I am now very accustomed to doing things on my own with little anxiety, but this was a bit more nerve-wracking than usual because of the big truck aspect. I wasn’t able to back up in the thing because of the ginormous blind spots and I had no one to tell me if I was going to hit anything or anyone. It was also very prone to being affected by the wind, and with a looser steering wheel, it was easy to over-correct. Most times it wasn’t too terrifying, but when I was going through the major cities in construction zones, it was really scary.

Other than that, I got very used to driving a big truck in a few short days. I love taking road trips and watching America pass me by for 10 days made me extremely happy! I made stops along the way, sang at the top of my lungs to songs I heard over and over again on the radio, and danced in my seat when I thought no one was looking.

I took a southern route to avoid hazardous weather which took me to places I had never been. It’s amazing how beautiful this country is. I was on a tighter schedule because of the rental truck, so every day was 9-12 hrs.

Once I arrived to Washington, I spent a few weeks there before flying back to Michigan to get my van. Another amazing road trip commenced and this time I had a more northernly route. I also had more freedom to make stops without having to worry about dealing with a big moving truck. I also got to spend a week in Utah, something I’ve been wanting to do since 2009.

They were both exciting trips, and the last one also gave me my first experience of #vanlife! I had makeshift curtains rigged up and I made a squished little bed in the back seat. I’m tempted to build a platform and take the seats out for a real taste of #vanlife in August, September, and October, maybe head into Canada??? Jury is still out on that decision.

Anyway, photos from my time on the road are below!

Leaving Grand Rapids, MI before the sun is up!
St. Louis, MS and ‘fun’ construction zones.
Texas sky is huge!
Somewhere in New Mexico along I-40.
Outside of Las Vegas.
My first time in Death Valley and just catching the sun rise!
Badwater Basin.
Lowest point in North America at 282 ft. below sea level.



Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.


Experienced a little rain in Death Valley.


My first cross country experience had a deadline, so there wasn’t much time to stop and relax. After Death Valley, I busted back to Olympia by the next evening.

In Iowa watching the severe weather threat die on my second journey across the country.


Spotted Wolf View Area in Utah
Eagle Canyon in Utah.
Bonneville Salt Flats.


Stop along I-80 heading back into Salt Lake City, UT.
This was my first experience with #vanlife. After getting over the initial fear, it was fine. Just gotta keep your wits about you and have a plan if you need to leave in a hurry.


Utah State Route 95.


Hite, UT. This area is super cool and hardly anyone was around!
Cainville Badlands.
Factory Butte.



Admiring the plant life in Arches National Park.



After Arches, I made my way to both sections of Canyonlands as all national parks were free that weekend.
Canyonlands…amazing views and not a single person disturbed me.



Good morning from Canyonlands!



Driving into Zion before 7am to try and get a camping spot. P.s.-I got one!
My first time and first hike (The Watchman Trail) in Zion! It was amazing!





 Angel’s Landing!






Observation Point. Looking down on where I had hiked the day before on Angel’s Landing.



The Mojave Desert outside of Baker, CA.





Just made it to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes as the sun was rising and before anyone was there to ruin the sand with footprints and disturb the patterns created by strong winds.



The wind was intense and I left with it in places it should never be.



What an amazing close encounter with this lady running along the road! I saw my first road runner on this trip, too…I definitely kept my eyes out for falling anvils and exploding rockets!
Looks as though she had some pups recently.
Just outside Bakersfield, CA, I was able to get a glimpse of the end of the Super Bloom!



Gah!!!! What an adventure! There are so many places I wasn’t able to get to. The US is an amazing, and at times, wild place with so much protected land. Make sure to get out there and enjoy it, as well as take care of it, and leave it as you found it!!