There are over 10,000 waterfalls beautifully cascading around Iceland. The falls are as diverse and magical as they are many. The frequent rain and snow, combined with glaciers melting in summer make Iceland the perfect climate for waterfalls.
Big Sky is a community within the Rocky Mountains of southern Montana. Located halfway between Yellowstone & the city of Bozeman. Big Sky has no local government (which is why it is considered a “community” not a town- neat, right?), so the community is primarily supported by locals and tourism.
Big Sky is home to epic ski resorts, a historic dude ranch, and incredible outdoor adventures. All bringing plenty of excitement to this friendly community year round.
This winter I set out to explore the community and its surrounding area with some girlfriends. We spent the perfect winter weekend exploring the high summits and beautiful surrounding nature. Here’s my adventurers guide to Big Sky, Montana!
The nearest airport to Big Sky is Bozeman Yellowstone International airport (BZN). The quaint airport is warm and welcoming with beautiful stone fireplaces and wood accents throughout the halls.
Another AirBnb for the win for Big Sky. Our condo was super cozy with a warm stone fireplace in the group gathering area. The condo was in an alpine valley surrounded by rivers and panoramic mountain views named the “Meadow” area of Big Sky.
Snowboard Big Sky!
Snowshoe to Frozen Ousel Falls
Explore Callatin National Forest
Take a Horse Sleigh Ride
Have you been to Big Sky? What other adventures did I miss?
Photos were all captured during my adventure in Bozeman Montana
Life is a continuous balancing act between the light and dark that lives within us. The contrasts vary depending on the amount of light surrounding the individual. The amount of light can alter life between pure bliss and despair. For most people, maintaining the balance causes little disturbances in life, as easy as breathing.
However for those of you that suffer from depression or other mental illnesses, you are all too familiar with the battle of maintaining this balance. Inside your beautiful mind, thoughts and feelings become casualties as you lose yourself fighting your way across the battlefield of a depressive episode. I know you hate fighting, but we both know what happens if you stop fighting. So, you keep fighting. Facing the darkness battle after battle to tip that balance in the favor of light and life. When all you want is to for the light to return, and for this battle to end so you can return home.
Some days you lose the battle- and the darkness is all consuming. It pulls you deeper and deeper trying to drown you in its depths of despair to claim you for its own. The darkness will do everything in its power to take you from the people and the things that you love.
I know it’s hard, the battle you’re fighting. I know you’re exhausted from fighting off the darkness to maintain that balance. I know most people in your life will never understand your illness, and the internal battles you’re facing.
What you must try to remember, is that you are not alone in your struggle. The light and with it those feelings of joy & happiness will return. You remember the light, right? It comes back slowly, creating shadows in the darkness, letting you know it’s returned. The arrival of light signals that this battles end is near, bringing with it hope. Hold onto that small shadow of hope until the battle ends, and watch as the light shines brighter each day.
Before you know it, the battle is won and you return home. It’s time to Breathe. Inhale slowly. Hold the breath. Exhale slowly. I’m proud of you. We all knew you could do it.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their battle against depression, get help at https://depression.org
For me 2018 was filled with curveballs being thrown at me constantly. By life, my career, and my family. Reflecting back over the year, and going through my photos from 2018 brings forward a lot of different emotions. My apologies for the delay in this post… at this rate I’ll be lucky to get this out before the end of 2019.
JThe year started with Logan and the fur babies moving in 🏡 I went from living single in my one bedroom apartment to a household of 4 with a 2:2 human:fur baby ratio. Quite the change! On top of consolidating homes, I kicked the year off ✈️ visiting my first National Park of 2018- Death Valley 🏜 camping under the desert stars with the love of my life celebrating our 1 year anniversary. Not a bad month!
Not our favorite month this year! Our fur babies both had very expensive, debilitating surgeries. Putting our whole family out of commission, with no time to travel as Logan and I spent the next couple months home nursing our babies back to recovery.
April brought warmer weather and hope that winter was nearing it’s end. The fur babies were doing much better and the recovery was getting easier on everyone. I took my first trip since the girls surgery- and flew to California for business. Logan hadn’t been to California since childhood- he flew out for the weekend to explore the Los Angeles area and visit Harry Potter’s castle at Universal Studios.
May was a giant whirlwind! I made up for the lack of traveling the past few months. As I spent most of the month traveling. It started with Grace and I packing up her life in Chicago and heading west to Seattle. Along the way we made a few stops…
Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer in the midwest. Logan and I still had our suitcases from Iceland packed as we headed north for the weekend. After 10 days away from our fur babies we were looking forward to a weekend away with them to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the holiday weekend.
June my little sister tied the knot 💍 and made the most beautiful bride. Logan and I spent the summer weekends camping around Michigan ⛺️ and chasing lighthouses.
July started by exploring Seattle with Logan for the first time. We spent a couple days camping and hiking in the Olympic Peninsula. Another quick trip to Los Angelas for work, and ended with a baby shower to celebrate the future princess 👑 Charlotte Long.
With little time to breathe- ✈️ a weekend in Boston visiting family and exploring the historic city
October Logan and I bought a 1965 Cree! Our Michigan made camper joined us for just 1 of our 3 Michigan U.P. Trips this year (Rest assured it will be on 100% of 2019 camping adventures 👏🏻). October is my favorite month in Michigan- all the leaves begin to turn colors. The green leaves turning into bright yellows, or bursting orange and reds. The whole state transforms into a magical place.
A work trip took me back to LA for my last flight ✈️ of the year, and an experience I’d never forget. Logan joined me after the work week for the weekend, we drove outside of the city into Joshua Tree National Park.
With the time difference across the country, we only had one day to explore before we had to catch a plane home. After we spent the day exploring the park, we stopped at the Salton Sea. It was hard to see the disaster we were witnessing in front of us. As we were driving back to our campsite, we were rear ended on the freeway. Thankfully no one was physically injured, however I couldn’t help but feel this was an omen of sorts.
December began a new chapter in my life 🌱that will continue into 2019. The journey hasn’t been easy and I anticipate it will only get harder with the new year. But I learned long ago that what doesn’t kill you- makes you stronger. I am so thankful for each and every person in my life- thank you all for another amazing year!
Tulum is a Mexican town on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula. We spent 4 days in this gorgeous area known for its beaches, well-preserved ancient Mayan ruins, and CENOTES!
There are over 3,000 unique cenotes throughout the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. A cenote is a freshwater filled Mexican sinkhole. The word Cenote is of Mayan decent originally called dzonot or ts’onot, meaning well. The cenotes played a crucial role in the development of the Mayan civilization as the main freshwater source inland. The cenotes are mostly found in the crater area that formed from the meteorite impact (the same meteorite responsible for the dinosaur extinction in this area).
The cenotes are great for swimming, diving, snorkeling and spotting wildlife! The extensive underground river systems, make this area of Mexico the best place to experience cave diving, snorkeling or other water activities!
Important Know Before You Go:
Keep in mind that most cenotes are swim at your own risk. If you are not a strong swimmer, it is recommended that you rent a life vest if available.
Mexican dive laws don’t necessarily align with other countries laws. Some cenote dives can be dangerous for inexperienced divers- dive your experience level, and if you feel you can’t dive, opt for snorkeling or swimming instead, like I did!
Do not wear sunscreen or insect repellant in the cenotes; the chemicals are damaging to aquatic life.
Bring cash to cover the entrance fees
Most cenotes are remotely located and can be difficult to get to. When you arrive, some may have limited or no concessions for food/drink so plan accordingly
Instagram Worthy Caleta Tankah
Caleta Tankah or the “secret cenote” was magical. The colors of the cenote are absolutely breathtaking. Maybe I’m a bit biased this being my first cenote encounter and all… but Caleta Tankah was my favorite cenote we visited.
Of the 6 travelers in our group four of them were certified while myself and one other were not. While the divers explored the cenotes below the 500 meters below the surface, I snorkeled around the surface! There wasn’t a ton of fish to see, but the rock formations above and below the surface were incredible.
Kayak at Casa Cenote
As with most cenotes, Casa Cenote offered scuba diving and snorkeling. But what the others didn’t have, this cenote did! This time as the diving crew submerged below the water, I kayaked! It was great, because the water is crystal clear and following them was easy. Until they would disappear under a mangrove. Keep an eye out for the local that lives at Casa Cenote, he’s adorable.
Family Friendly Gran Cenote
Located a short drive from Tulumthis popular cenote will amaze you. Contrary to it’s name, the Gran cenote is actually several cenotes connected by wooden walkways. The water is crystal clear and colorful! To keep it that way, they require everyone to rinse off in an outdoor shower before entering the cenote. This is a great family spot, as there are lots of green space and picnic areas.
Zip Line at Xunaan-Ha Cenote
For $100 pesos you can zipline yourself into this adventurous cenote until your hearts content. Xunaan-Ha cenote is located down a long bumpy dirt road in the small town of Chemuyil, just a short drive from Tulum or Playa Del Carmen. This cenote is not as crowded as the more popular surrounding cenotes such as the Gran.
High Dive at Car wash
The last and final dive the travel crew did was in the car wash cenote. We asked where the name came from… and it is exactly as it sounds. Due to its close proximity to the roadway- this cenote used to be used to wash the locals cars!
What cenotes did you explore on your Yucatan adventure?!
Visiting every National Park in America has been a huge bucket list item of mine for years. Each National Park provides a great opportunity to learn the history and culture of the United States. The National Park Service (NPS) works to preserve important historic sites around the country for the enjoyment of future generations to come. Be sure to practice ‘Leave No Trace Principles’ when visiting our beautiful historic parks. Help ensure the protection and preservation of the precious lands and environment within these parks entrusted to us as visitors.
Here are 19 Extraordinary National Parks to Visit in 2019!
During my 7 Day Trip in Quintana Roo last September, I discovered a hidden gem. The best part of it- the secret cenote! I spent four nights in a jungle paradise we discovered on AirBnb. The three bed three bath penthouse came with a private rooftop pool complete with incredible jungle panoramic views. As amazing as this jungle paradise was, it sadly was not on or near a beach.
More importantly WE REALLY NEEDED A BEACH DAY. Our AirBnb host and locals that worked or lived in the building all recommended Caleta Tankah for the best beach day in the area. We decided to check it out for our first day in Tulum.
The Hotel and Beach Club, are on a National Park beach facing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. More importantly, there are clean flush restrooms and changing areas in the Beach Club.
You pay a $15 usd entry fee that gets you a towel, access to the beach/cenote and Beach Club area where you can order drinks and food. We grabbed a tropical drink at the bar and headed out to the beach to claim some chairs with a shaded area before the shenanigans began.
Follow the signs to the Cenote…
Caleta Tankah or the “secret cenote” was magical. The colors of the cenote are absolutely breathtaking. Maybe I’m a bit biased this being my first cenote encounter and all… but Caleta Tankah was my favorite cenote we visited. Why Hello, Gorgeous.
For 6 MUST SEE Cenotes in the Tulum area, CLICK HERE!
Quintana Roo is a Mexican state within the Yucatán Peninsula. The state and the country Mexico in general typically get a bad rap from the American media stations. In fact, just days before my departure from Detroit to Cancun, there was a media story covering several brutal murders on the Cancun beach. My facebook feed BLEW UP with this story… friends warning me not to go to Mexico and to cancel my trip because of the danger.
It’s hard to ignore travel warnings your country is publishing, especially when most of your family and friends are encouraging you to stay home. But is home any safer? 7 days after our trip to Mexico, my friend landed home in Chicago. Home- during a stabbing incident at the Chicago airport that day. Despite the danger being very real and very near- Facebook stayed quiet.
My travels over the years have taught me that there are always multiple viewpoints to the story. I’m a firm believer in “not judging a book by its cover”, and applying that concept to life situations. Was I nervous for my first adventure to Mexico? Hell yes! I could feel that scratchy feeling of uneasiness you get when you’re about to step out of your comfort zone. Experience has taught me- the uneasiness will go away, replaced by the wonder and awe that is travel.
Adventure with me to the Caribbean coastal towns of Mexico as I spend 7 Days in Quintana Roo!
Spend 2 Days in Cancun
What To Do:Head to the north side of the hotel zone and spend the day beach hopping down to the Caribbean side. There are 11 public beaches within the hotel zone, each unique, but all offering warm turquoise colored water along white sand.
We spent one full day in Cancun at the end of our trip with nothing planned. We enjoyed wandering the markets and exploring, but wish we would have done a water activity. Next time we come back we plan to rent jet skis, or paddleboards to explore the area further.
Transportation:We flew in and out of the Cancun Airport, giving us a full day to explore the Caribbean version of Las Vegas. Renting a car in Mexico can get tricky with insurance, some rental centers require high deposits up to $2,500 usd. Do your homework on how insurance works in Mexico prior to arrival. My recommendation if you’re traveling in the off season as we were- wait until you’re at the airport to book your rental car. The rental companies at the airport will have more competitive pricing opportunities then you will find online and will negotiate with you. Have them explain the two different insurance options to you before you agree to rent with them.
Where To Eat: Quieres un, café?Brunch at the delicious Café Huayacán. This was a great first stop for coffee and food after leaving the airport before heading into the hotel zone. The adorable coffee shop had a huge menu of pasteles, and traditional Mexican dishes ranging from sweet crepes to savory huevos ranchero. We had a tough time choosing, so we ordered both (plus a chilaquiles verdes con pollo).
Where To Stay:Our last night in Mexico we spent at an AirBnb listed as “Breathtaking Caribbean Sea View”. Well, the view was just that, putting us right in the center of the Hotel Zone. We stayed in the Hotel Zone to be close to the beach but not too far from the airport for our early flight.
Notice the “red tide” or mounds of decaying algae in my Cancun beach photos…Scientists have warned that the algae are a grave new threat to the Caribbean, not just Cancun. In the open ocean the algae support birds and other sea life. But when washed ashore, as they start to decay they become an environmental nightmare. The decaying algae, emit hydrogen sulfide fumes that kills fish, coral and sea grass. Still don’t care?
It also causes headaches and nausea in people- especially those that must clean it each morning before the tourists arrive. When not cleared, the algae becomes piled high blocking endangered sea turtles from reaching the shore to lay their eggs. Oh, and if the ugly, decaying man caused algae wasn’t bad enough- it also prevent the baby sea turtles from migrating to the ocean once hatched. This issue was seen across the region, as we journeyed south. East-facing beaches were the hardest hit, due to ocean currents. Each city we explored during the week as well as Cozumel and Playa del Carmen has been flooded with the red tide. Climate change and human pollution near the shores around the globe has made this red tide outbreak the worst in history.
Day Trip to Akumal
Akumal is a small carribean community known for its sea turtles! Spend a day swimming with Sea Turtles in Akumal. The town is just a short drive from Playa del Carmen or Tulum making for an easy day trip. You can see the sea turtles on your own or take a guided tour. We decided to try our luck and to explore on our own. Vendors will try and tell you that you MUST join a tour/wear a life vest to see the turtles- this is not true. There are roped off buoyed areas protecting major turtle feeding areas; if you stay inside the designated swim areas you can explore on your own as we did.
My recommendation would be to arrive at the beach early, the visibility in the water goes down as people swim throughout the day and stir up the sand. I would recommend not going through a guided tour and arrive to the beaches early for your best chances to see some turtles.
Make sure each person has their own mask/snorkel if you choose to search for turtles on your own. Our group had two snorkels/masks for 6 people to share, and only a few of us were able to spot some turtles. There are plenty of vendors along the town center that sell masks and snorkels for your convenience.
Spend 4 Days in Tulum
Along the Caribbean coast, the town of Tulum offers seaside Mayan ruins to explore, sandy beaches for relaxing and undersea caves for diving. September is the birth month of my two favorite traveling partners. My best friend Grace, and my boyfriend Logan both celebrate birthdays, just two days apart. This year was a big one for Grace as she turned the big 3-0. Logan would like for me not to mention his new age (it’s old people 😊).
What To Do: Explore the many cenotes! A cenote is a freshwater filled Mexican sinkhole. The word Cenote is of Mayan decent originally called dzonot or ts’onot, meaning well. The cenotes played a crucial role in the development of the Mayan civilization. There are over 3,000 unique cenotes throughout the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The cenotes are mostly found in the crater area that formed from the meteorite impact (the same meteorite responsible for the dinosaur extinction in this area). The cenotes are great for swimming, diving, snorkeling and more! The extensive underground river systems, make this area of Mexico the best place to experience cave diving.
Go Scuba Diving in a Cenote
Logan received his PADI certification just weeks before our Mexico departure! Dos Ojos was unanimously the favorite dive of the group. Noted as “The World’s BestCavern Dives.” The name Dos Ojos translates to “two eyes” and refers to two nearby cenotes that connect by a massive underwater cave system that is shared between the two. The two caverns start and end in the same place but are two very different dives. The first dive is 500 meters (1,600 feet) along The Barbie Line and leads divers along the opening of the second eye with plenty of daylight to see the stalactites. The second dive is along The Batcave Line and is a much darker route with little to no daylight entering the cave system during the dive. Divers will ascend up the cave to an open air pocket filled with bats flying everywhere!
*They also dove in casa cenote and the car wash cenote. Check out my post on 6 Must See Cenotes Here!
Best Tacos: Las Antorcha Food Truck; location varies
Instagram Worthy: Kin Toh; Mayan-Mexican cuisine in a tree house venue offering guests an experience they’re sure to remember. From the time you enter the restaurant until the time you leave, every one of your senses will be interacted with. Make reservations in advance, $$$$$
Best Ocean View: Mezzanine; Authentic Thai and casual beach menu includes a legendary Happy Hour if you’re looking for a boozey brunch on the beach.
Where To Stay:We spent four nights in a jungle paradise we discovered on AirBnb.The three bed three bath penthouse came with a private rooftop pool.
Check out AirBnb for other amazing places to stay, and enjoy jungle views! New to AirBnB? Click here for $40 usd towards your first trip!
Joshua Tree National Park is made up of two very distinct desert ecosystems. The harsh and unforgiving climates are surprisingly rich in biodiversity and home to many species. This past November I spent a beautiful Saturday with Logan exploring the Joshua Tree National Park.
I have been flying out to the Los Angeles (LA) area every 3-4 months for business the last couple years. I counted, and it came to 14 trips in total out to LA. Not bad for someone who 3 years ago had never set foot in California huh?!
At the end of the work week, Logan flew out to L.A. and we spent the weekend exploring east of the city. I finally took advantage of being that close! It was my last scheduled trip of the year with the holidays coming up and I wanted to make the most of it.
The desert gets more and more beautiful each time I visit. I used to look out at deserts and see a dry dead wasteland with no beauty. Of course that wasn’t true. Sure, the desert isn’t a vibrantly colored, obvious, in your face type of pretty…but if you look a little deeper than the surface, you’ll see it.
Once I took the time to really look, a palette of earth tones, calming and soothing rushed over me. As I looked even harder I could see life thriving, under the harshest of conditions. Fighting everyday to survive, never knowing when or if the next rain would bring relief from the constant heat. Our journey in the park started north, in the cooler Mojave.
As the temperature of our planet continues to rise, the deserts will become hotter, experiencing more droughts, and threatening the survival of the parks plants and animals. These conditions will likely affect the species that have inspired the namesake of the park itself- the Joshua tree. The bursting Joshua trees and other yuccas indicated we were still in the Mojave as we continued our drive south.
The Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) is a member of the Agave family and is a good indicator that you are in the Mojave Desert. However you may also find it growing in the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona or mixed with pines in the San Bernardino Mountains.
As we drove south through the park, we stopped to take in the breathtaking views of “Keys View”. Unfortunately in fear of being blown over the cliff by the gail force winds, we weren’t able to stay long.
It was incredible to watch the transformation of the desert as we drove through the park. Descending into the Colorado desert, you could feel the temperature rise, as we said goodbye to the Mojave. The variety of plants and animals are what make the Mojave Desert distinguishable from the Colorado as you drive throughout the park.
Climate change could affect more than just the beloved Joshua Tree. Rainfall in the desert is critical to the survival of the desert tortoise and the bighorn sheep that call the park home. Severe drought will force the animals into higher elevations where more rainfall is likely.
Cholla Cactus Garden
These species have adapted over centuries in order to survive the harsh conditions of the two deserts. It’s truly a remarkable, magical place, the desert.
I hope you enjoyed my journey through Joshua Tree National Park. I would love to hear your comments below.
Global transportation and mobility have become increasingly more accessible and affordable. The result? A spike in tourism around the world! The holiday season is the busiest time of year for retailers and airlines alike. Whether you’re traveling to visit family, traveling with friends, or traveling home-Americans are estimated to spend over 700 BILLION DOLLARS this holiday on gifts, travel, and goodies for the holiday season.
700 Billion USD?!? That’s an incredible amount of money. I find it slightly embaressing that we can’t stop climate change… that we’re causing… when we have that type of cash at our disposal. AMERICA! That hurts my soul! Have we become so materialistic and wasteful as a country that we care more about filling our lives with meaningless “things”, then we do the generations that come after us?
In most places around the world, it is recognized that we aren’t moving fast enough to address the issues of climate change. I say WE because this IS everyone’s issue… regardless of who you voted for, no matter what continent you call home- this affects us all. You may not be seeing the affects today, but you will soon- because this is a GLOBAL crisis- which means the whole planet people! I feel like when we read the word “crisis” we should probably be a little concerned. Mother nature gives zero f***s about human borders, race, or gender.
As a traveler myself, I have seen the affects climate change is having on our planet and those who suffer as a result first hand. Rivers are drying up, communities with them. Cities are sinking, others are flooding. Weather records being broken daily across the globe. These are things people aren’t putting together- they’re all connected. The reality of the situation hits me each time I leave the comfortable bubble of my Midwest suburban apartment. And I ask myself, what can I do? How can I make a difference? Somebody has to do something! Because what we’re doing now… it’s not enough.
It’s on each and every one of us to take responsibility for our actions and the affects our actions today have on the future. Pollution, climate change, overcrowded cities- we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done and expect different results. This is not the same world is was 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago. The first step towards change- is speaking up. Talk about the issue- and how we can fix it, instead of ignoring it and letting it get worse. Take an active role by being a responsible consumer- buy “Eco-Friendly”. We have SO MUCH POWER as consumers… we decide what goods get produced based on our demand for that good. Don’t buy or “demand” products that are killing our planet! “Eco Friendly” means they are either made with sustainable or recycled materials, prevent waste, and do not harm the environment. By supporting companies and products that are working towards an eco-friendly future- you’re making a difference.
To save you the research (you’re welcome), I’ve put together this list of 13 Unique Eco-Friendly Gifts for travelers, which I hope helps to improve the climate change crisis in some small way. Happy Holiday’s Friends!
My favorite part about these are the stylish eco-friendly design. The bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic to reduce waste. Help travelers contribute to sustainability by eliminating one use toiletries. PS: recycling a stack of newspapers just 3 feet high saves one tree, how cool is that?