Big Sur

It’s been about 2 years since this trip was taken up the stunning coast of Big Sur. This year, Big Sur was ravaged by the Soberanes fire, which was set off by a campfire and burned for 83 days.

Our trip was foggy, but warmer than you’d expect! The fog rolled in one evening, spilling into the valleys.

A truly magical scene, as a lone guitar player sang out above the clouds:

The warmth of the sun above this thick cloud layer gently woke the resting campers… for pancakes :)

Montaña de Oro

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This is sunset at a state park in San Luis Obispo County, south of Morro Bay. At the time (February 2015), we didn’t know that we would spend many more days here in the next year. It was a beautiful getaway, a start to our coastal Valentine’s Week adventure! Since then, we’ve camped here, explored the tidepools, watched more sunsets, and hiked most of its trails.

My first time here is still my #1, for the magic of it all:
2015-02-13 17.32.30The way the sun shone through those Eucalyptus trees that evening:2015-02-13 17.06.28

The light on the rocky coast:
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And my first look at the yellow mustard plant that lights up Spring here:
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To many more sun rises and sets in this beautiful part of California!

Crossing the United States by Train

storymapIn December 2014, we decided to travel back to New York from California by train. Amtrak’s California Zephyr and Cardinal routes took us one-way with a change in Chicago for less than $250. We didn’t have sleeping cars, but the leg rests in coach served us fine enough. The amazing views, which I’ve put in this story map, make the train one of the best ways to see the incredibly diverse American landscape. Click the map above and enjoy!

Here’s a taste:2014-12-15 14.51.09


2014-12-15 14.57.11Check out the story map to see where these are!


2014-11-16 13.51.45Elevation (ft) of San Jacinto Peak.

My most challenging hike thus far! A group of friends and I hiked this one in mid-November 2015. We entered our trail near Idyllwild, which is an awesome mountain town with food that tastes amazing after a killer hike (read: hot chocolate and blue cheese burgers). That is, amazing, for my fitness-team-buds, who didn’t feel totally sick after extreme hiking!

2014-11-16 13.53.51The pictures above were taken at the summit. It is a very prominent peak. So prominent, it is the 6th most prominent peak in the continental U.S. I believe we took the Marion Mountain trail route out of Idyllwild, which is 13.2 miles with an elevation change of 4,500 feet. WOOF. An uphill battle? Of scenic beauty. Some viewpoints from the top: San Gorgonio Mountain, Coachella Valley, Salton Sea.

2014-11-16 13.32.06It looks all still now, but it sure was windy and cold at the top! Definitely amazing to make it and eat that PB&J!

During the hike down, you know, a measly 6.6 miles, we saw this gorgeous sunset:

2014-11-16 16.36.42I couldn’t walk for the next few days, but heck yes :D

What a crew <3:

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Bones Healed, Hikes On!

2014-11-08 12.04.30Shortly after the Sequoia trip, I broke my wrist tripping over the sidewalk on campus. I put my arms out to catch my fall, and relied a bit too heavily on the left one. It hurt a lot less than you think a broken bone would hurt, but it definitely put me in a bit of shock. I think that having a cast on is a pretty miserable experience, and it put a lot of bigger adventures on hold that season. When I got the cast off in early November 2015, I celebrated with a trip to Asheville, NC!

2014-10-09 16.26.20Asheville in the fall –> autumnal oasis! Here are some scenes from the outdoors with my sis:

2014-11-08 12.03.19This is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway close to / below Tanbark Ridge. Pretty nice to revisit these autumn photos in the thick of summer. Do you get a cool, cozy rush, too?

2014-11-08 12.09.46We hiked a bit up a trail starting at the Tanbark Ridge Tunnel. When you Google “Tanbark Ridge Tunnel,” you get this:

tanbark_ridgeThat red! My photo looks like:

2014-11-08 12.15.37I’m hoping to get back to Asheville for a visit and some new hikes in the next month!

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Sequoia National Park: Mineral King

2014-09-13 13.56.40Back home in California, there is no lack of beautiful landscapes. So, it could hardly be a disappointment to head home for MORE ADVENTURES. Quelle aventure!

The sweet San Diego gang and I headed up in September 2014 to the southern end of Sequoia National Park for some fantastic camping and hiking. Our campground was at Mineral King, a subalpine glacial valley located here:

Fun fact about Mineral King: in the 60s, it was marked for development as an alpine Disney ski resort. The Sierra Club, which had previously supported developing Mineral King in the 40s for recreation, opposed Disney’s plan, and in 1978, Mineral King was annexed from Sequoia National Forest to Sequoia National Park. Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree was originally designed for Mineral King:

Unfortunately/fortunately, we did not get to meet any country bears, though we saw their claw marks high up on the trees!

Proposed Development | Mineral King Today (click to view enlarged)
mineralking_disneynews2summer19692014-09-13 12.45.09





I saw my first giant redwoods on this trip! The really really big ones were north of where we were, and I’m looking forward to that adventure too.
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Some parts definitely reminded me of the hiking in the Alps, above the tree line. My favorite part:
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Our turnaround point, the clear waters of Eagle Lake, silent and still:
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We love you, Sequoia National, and we’ll be back!

Auf Wiedersehen, Villach

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Almost a year ago now, but I bid adieu to fair Villach in late August 2014. So much beauty! I did a grand tour by bike before leaving — the lakes, the city, the coffee machine that sold little sugary lattes ;) Here are some scenes from my last days to take it all in.

Lake Silbersee after a thunderstorm:

2014-08-24 09.26.58Daily bike path looking particularly impressive:

2014-08-24 10.48.47Einen Kaffee, bitte:

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And my dear buds, the SHEEP <3:

2014-08-22 04.16.312014-08-22 04.16.31-1Especially you.

Bohemian Castles and Bridges

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I did so much walking this whole trip! There is a metro in Prague, but I think I found it too much of an effort to figure out CZK currency and have the crown coins available to buy tix! Praha was the last stop on the 11-day voyage, and I was ready to browse and nibble and wander and view and sleep. My best views:

Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge
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View from Prague Castle
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Ze Most Intricate St. Vitus Cathedral atop Prague Castle
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Sunset at Charles Bridge with Prague Castle Yonder
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Church of Our Lady before Týn2014-08-18 05.12.00

I love you, grand adventure! From Prague, I took a 9-hour train back to Villach to finish up my 2014 European stay.

Take the Bus to Praha

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I fully recommend taking the bus from Berlin to Prague. Not a train. The bus. I think it cost €15, included a plush leather seat all to myself, offered movies, was super clean, and provided free hot chocolate. It was a fantastic travel experience. Prague is awesome. The clouds seem different there. Puffier and with cool dark purplish colors. Architecture is supacool. I think my accommodations merit a mention.

My room had a giant bed and another bed, which seems like a stroke of luck — maybe they were out of rooms in my discount hotel. The room offered wall art:

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Capstone painting of the room

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Hotel Brixen






The buildings were like so (like Budapest and Vienna):
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and like so (the Národní museum):
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More on the castle soon!

Berlin: After the Rain

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This post will only include pictures of places that evoked some emotion in me. Checkpoint Charlie wasn’t one of them, and really just felt like a place to buy souvenirs. It took me quite a while to find the Berlin Wall, based on not really consulting a map but just sort of biking through tunnels and along parks. Everything seemed empty that day, and no one was really outside at this time. The recently rained look gave the wall memorial a special aura.

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People consistently graffiti over graffiti at the Berlin Wall, and it was cool to watch it being done. I can’t explain why, but I didn’t watch for too long, feeling as if I were trespassing.

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This lone swing was just at the foot of the wall.
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Where the wall first fell:
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Anhalter Station ruins, once an important rail center in Berlin. A plaque there commemorates the deportation of 9,600 Jews to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia.
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