Camping Shenandoah

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I don’t mind sleeping on the ground if it means waking up in a forest.

Over the past year of Mid-Atlantic living, I have fallen more and more in love with the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It’s a beautiful park comprised of waves of mountains covered in thick forest and rock rivers. It couldn’t be more different than the jagged peaks of the Colorado Rockies I grew up in. But this kind of beauty is “old world” and majestic in it’s own right.

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Foggy mornings open to misty sunshine. And the ground never gets hard, nor the sun too intense. And after walking through trees and brush, a trail opens to a rocky ledge granting endless lookouts over the valleys

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We camped in Lewis Mountain campground, a small, mostly tent camping site off the Appalachian Trail (AT). On our first morning, I walked to the camp store for hot coffee and struck up conversation with some AT hikers. I met a woman who explained how she and her high school-aged son were just walking the trail through Shenandoah. They were from Indiana and as a graduation gift, she brought him to experience his first long hike. She told me stories of bears they had run into; a cub crossed their path the day before forcing them to hike backwards as the mama-bear charged at them twice.

“We’re only half way,” she explained, somewhat reluctantly adding, “But we’ve seen bears almost every day of our hike.”

We also saw two bears during our drive into the park. However, we spotted them from the safety of our car.

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One of the best hikes (Or at least, one of my favorites) is Stony Man. There’s a small parking lot at the trail-head, then it climbs quickly to reveal amazing views. The first viewpoint gives a small taste of what’s to come, getting you closer to Stony Man, a rock formation that looks like a resting man. The second outlook is the closest you get to Stony man; the end of the hike takes you on to Stony Man’s face. There are rocky trails that allow you to climb all over his upper body, and the views are breathtaking.

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Camping trips end too quickly. And as summer draws to a close, I’m not sure we’ll get another chance to explore before the leaves turn varying shades of yellow. Although, that would make for another great excuse to explore familiar terrain.

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Mexico Holiday

At the end of April, we went to Mexico.

The whole trip was planned around the union of Drew’s brother, Ben and his love (Now wife) Clau, in a lovely ceremony near her hometown in the mountains outside of Toluca. And it was spectacularly beautiful. We drove from Mexico City through windy roads watching farmers plow fields without the advanced technology we call tractors, and people outside their cinder-block homes playing with their children just to get to the site of the wedding.

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Skyline Drive

I love living in the city.

But I also love to celebrate nature, experience it, and be immersed in it. Especially this time of year when the fall colors are in their prime!

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Since Drew is from this area, he told me that one of the most beautiful places to see the fall colors is in Shenandoah National Park along Skyline Drive. So we had to check it out!

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Top 5 Vacations to take in 2016

As I mentioned in a previous post, we did a lot of traveling in 2015. More than I think I have ever done in my life! It was a lot! Unfortunately, it’s difficult to follow a year like that. But I’m optimistic that we will make this one just as exciting and full of travel. (It will just be closer to home travel)

  1. Ashville, NC

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It seems like everyone is talking about Ashville, NC. Every blog I read, every Instagram post, everyone I talk to,

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How to Travel More

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Last year, around this time, I read a blog post about traveling. In the post, the writer recommended that we should all work hard to travel at least once a month. This post came from a travel blogger, mind you, so when I was reading the post I thought to myself, “yeah, easy for you to say, you travel around the world for a living!” 

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LA Guide – According to a Local!

Andrew Fromer is a friend of mine that I met in an acting class in Los Angeles. Andrew hosts a weekly podcast, blogs AND acts for film, television, and commercials. A native of LA, he shares his favorite food stops, scenic drives, nights out and getaways — where the locals go!

I can’t tell you how strange it is, the looks I get when I tell people I’m from LA.

“No, where are you from before LA?”

“No no,” I say. “I was born in Santa Monica, hung out at the old Sherman Oaks Galleria, the one from Fast Times. I slept through the Northridge ‘quake. I remember a time when downtown LA was not cool, just creepy and hipster-free.”

I am an LA native, and it is weird. This place is weird. Its identity in flux, fractured, and big: Really, really big. “Sprawling” I believe is the word. Some parts of it I love; some parts of it I hate. But here are some of my favorite things to do in and around LA, so maybe you can enjoy it just a little bit more.

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Boston Tour

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Boston Brownstones

I went to college in Boston, so I spent quite a bit of time exploring the city. And there were a few things that I thought were share-worthy for everyone who came to visit me and the city, and Drew is no exception. It was his first time really in Boston, so I wanted to make sure he got to see the things that I really love (and miss) about the area.

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Freedom Trail

Boston has a lot of historical sights to see, and it is difficult to see everything in a short amount of time, but a great way to hit up most of the really important places in the heart of Boston is to walk the Freedom Trail. It is a 2.5 mile path that will take you from the Boston Common through the city and ends at the USS Constitution in Charlestown. One of the best parts about it is you don’t need a map. You can follow the brick trail that is marked in the middle of sidewalks from start to finish. Also it’s free.

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Freedom Trail Boston

Boston Freedom Trail
Boston Freedom Trail

Public Garden

A lot of people think the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden are the same thing. And I get that, they are right next to each other, they are both large green spaces, etc. But the Public Garden is a place that you can spend just a little more time exploring. Plus, it’s iconic. Have you ever seen Good Will Hunting? Then you know that scene with Robin Williams lecturing Matt Damon, and so you know the cinematic treasure that is the Boston Public Garden. There is also a pond that you can ride the famous Swan Boats for about 5 min. I don’t think it’s worth the money, but they do look great in pictures.

Boston Public Garden
Boston Public Garden

Duck Tours

Duck tours are fun! Seriously. I did it once with my amazing friend Jeni when she came to visit, and we had a blast. I can’t remember what we paid, and I’m sure it’s on the slightly pricier side, but totally worth it. Our guide was super funny and we learned a lot about the city while seeing just about everything you need to from sights of famous movie scenes to awesome historic places.

FOOD

Ernesto’s

Boston’s North End is the famous Italian area that holds some of the best pasta and pastry on this side of the Atlantic. Several of the places have been owned by the same families for generations. My favorite spot there is Ernesto’s Pizzeria. The first time I experienced this little hole in the wall was in college and we had to  Now, they have locations everywhere! But the original is still my favorite.

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Parish Cafe

Parish has two locations, one in the South End and one in Back Bay, both are awesome and have the same menu. I like the Back Bay location for the abundance of outdoor seating (which is, strangely, not that common in Boston). The food is American yum. I LOVE the Zuni Roll. In fact, I was sort of craving this wrap while in Boston, it is really that good! And as far as the price, it’s not that bad. I’d say two dollar signs ($$).

Flour Bakery

This is another place that used to be just a hole-in-the-wall and now it is everywhere. When we jumped off the train at the car rental place, there was one across the street in Back Bay! Obviously, I was tremendously excited. Flour Bakery was our dinner the first night. I think their portions used to be bigger, but all of the sandwiches there are OMG incredible! And it’s affordable. We got two sandwiches for under $15. Not bad.

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Mike’s Pastry

I don’t know if it is better to put this under the tourist side or food, because it is kind of both. When you are in Boston, you will see many blue and white boxes that are tied with string holding some of the most heavenly pastries on the planet. I’m not kidding. They have everything, but the most popular pastries are the many varieties of cannoli. Sometimes there is a line that will extend down the block! But if you time it right, you can get in and out in a matter of minutes (provided that you know what you want). Remember, it is cash only, and there is an ATM inside, but that’s also another line you have to stand in.

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Until next time, Beantown!

xo

 

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Exploring Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite is magical. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been; and to think it is located in Central California, only 4.5 hours from Los Angeles, it seems ridiculous that we had spent three years in LA without ever going there. I’m glad we had the opportunity to camp for a few days, even though three days really wasn’t enough time to fully explore the area. I feel like we got a little taste, and will definitely be back in the future to hike more trails, see different points of view, and meet more of the local wildlife (Except for the bears, I would be OK not meeting them.)

We camped at Crane Flat campground in a spot that was somewhat secluded. Behind our spot, there was a trail that lead into the woods and viewed some quiet and pretty meadows. Crane flat is located above Yosemite Valley, so the only downside is that we had to drive into the valley to hike those trails. But going at the beginning of June, (Most of the campsites and roads open June 1) meant that there were less tourists and no trouble parking near the places we wanted to see. However, I can see where this area would get really crowded with more people, like later in the summer. (keep that in mind when you are planning a visit!)

DSC08952 DSC08961 DSC08994Yose CollageCamping is also very easy here. There are plenty of sites, especially if you plan far enough in advance, but definitely try to book before you get there! There are many stations and stores that are really nice and fully stocked with everything you might have forgotten from fire wood to shampoo. If you want a bed to sleep in, check out the Yurts that are available in the valley.

 

I don’t think there is a bad view anywhere in the park, but for some amazing views, check out the Four Mile Trail. It is very well maintained and every switchback provides a more beautiful view than the last. This trail connects the Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point. DSC08998 DSC09015 DSC09019 DSC09025 DSC09036

 

Yosemite is probably one of my favorite places in California. If you haven’t been, start planning!

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