Thursday, April 16, 2015

links | gin + cake + good advice

I've never been inspired to share lists of links like some bloggers do - mainly because I feel so overwhelmed by the amount of information already on the web, the time wasted looking at social media, and the thousands of other people's links I'm inundated with on a daily basis. However, I have this really bad habit of opening 10,000 browser windows at a time and never closing them because "I might want to read this article later" or "I don't want to forget that recipe." Yes, I am a browser hoarder. I'm the person who has so many tabs open you can't even see the tabs. It's bad. I've had the same webpages open for months and months on my phone and iPad. (My computer died a year and a half ago, so I lost all my open browser pages there - maybe because my machine experienced information overload?)

Anyway, I realized that a list of links published to my blog would be a good way organize the thoughts that are clogging up my devices. So I'm writing this as a reminder to myself (and so I can close those 10,000 browser windows!). Maybe someone else will find it interesting (do you like cake and gin?) and maybe not:

The Genius of Wearing the Same Outfit Every Day. As a comfort-seeking, lazy, self-employed creature, I LOVE THIS. If Zuckerburg, Jobs, and Obama subscribe to this wardrobe, maybe it leads to success? It would certainly reduce my stress! Boring outfit/no morning decision making = more time for creativity with my art? I'm in.

33 Way to Be An Insanely Productive Person. Why do they make it sound so simple and obvious? "What's your main thing? Ok, so why are you doing all these other things?" * Duh...but yet, so hard to make it actually happen. I need to print this out and staple it to my forehead. (Thanks to Sarah for sharing this - she always has such good advice.)

How to Take a Day Off. Again...sounds so simple, and yet...there's just so much that needs to be done...

CAAAAAAKE! Specifically, GIANT Coconut Layer Cake. I've literally had this window open for over two years so I didn't forget what sounds like the best cake in the world. (I should've made this recipe before I gave up eggs, and butter, and cream! D'oh!!! I'm still not ready to let this recipe go, though. Will someone make this for me and not tell me what's in it?)

More CAAAAAAKE! Gin and Tonic CAKE?! And another one! (A good G&T has long been my favorite drink - and yes, I am an 80 year old man in a 36 year old woman's body. A G&T in cake form could either be awesome...or disgusting. But I'm willing to try and I have a certain cocktail-making, rum-cake-baking friend who will be my guinea pig. I wonder if I can veganize it?)...

While googling if I could veganize the G&T cake, I found a recipe for Vegan Gin and Tonic COOKIES. Hmm...

I'm really going to sound like a lush with three booze related links, but that same friend made me an amazing Sidecar the other day, and I recently stumbled across this recipe for Blackberry Sidecars. Definitely adding these to my summer menu!

Did I say three booze links? I meant four. Gin Brambles: more gin, more blackberries, more happy summer for me!

Alright, alright, let's just say the theme of this list is cocktails, because I can't stop. Who could resist a drink called a Scarlet Harlot? Actually chow.com has a whole gallery of fruity summer cocktails. I'm thinking I need to have a weekly cocktail party! Or be invited to a cocktail party by someone who's a better bartender than I am...

And I'm done. Cheers!

* P.S. My main thing is gin. #kidding

Sunday, April 5, 2015

wyoming | rafting the snake

grand teton national park
One of my favorite memories from our family vacation to Wyoming in 1992 was taking a float trip down the Snake River, and I knew it was something I wanted to do again with Larry.

We had signed up for a Saturday afternoon trip with Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips, and we were all loaded into the van and driven down to the river. As the van neared the launch point, the sky opened up with the most terrific and terrifying hail storm I have ever experienced. "Don't worry, the weather here changes quickly - we'll be fine," explained the guides to a van full of skeptics. As cloud-to-ground lightning struck all around us and thunder shook the van, the group came to the unanimous decision that we really didn't want to be electrocuted while floating down a river in a thunderstorm. The trip was postponed for a few hours and rescheduled for dusk - fortuitously, the best time to go out on the river because all the wildlife comes out to feed...
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
As you can see, there's a reason our guide's favorite time to be out on the river is dusk, as we saw more than 20 beavers, 10 bald eagles, and a raccoon! And as we were driving back across the river, we saw...
grand teton national park
...a bull moose! He was lying down so all you could see were his antlers, but still! A moose!
grand teton national park
I love getting out on the water every chance I can get, and taking some sort of boat trip is a must-do for every vacation Larry and I take. We had a great time floating the Snake, our guide was phenomenal, and I learned so much about the history, wildlife, and geology of the area (which I promptly forgot!). Highly recommended!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

wyoming | hiking cascade canyon

grand teton national park
The experience I was most looking forward to during our trip to Wyoming was taking a hike in Grand Teton National Park. When my family visited the area in 1992, we did lots of activities at the base of the Tetons (rafting, horseback riding), but we never went into the mountains to hike. (I can't imagine why my parents didn't want to take a whiny ten year old and a whiny thirteen year old hiking?) So this time I was really looking forward to getting IN the Tetons. Larry and I only had one day to hike, so we wanted to pick a good trail - an all day hike that was somewhat challenging with gorgeous views. We settled on Cascade Canyon.
grand teton national park
View of Cascade Canyon from across Jenny Lake.

I was slightly apprehensive about this hike. For one, you have to carry bear spray when hiking in the Tetons. This is GRIZZLY country! Be bear aware! And two, this hike was 9 miles, which would be the longest hike we've ever done. (Remember, I'm a gimp.) The trail continues on and you can actually do a 24 mile loop that climbs a total of 4,200 feet...if you're a badass/insane. While we were opting for the "easy" 9 mile portion, hiking 9 miles through the mountains in grizzly country is not something we do every day.
grand teton national park
Me and my gimp sticks.

But we laced up our boots, filled up our* Camelbaks with water and Bobo's Oat Bars, strapped on our bear spray, and hit the trail. It turned out to be the best hike we've ever taken. I'm running out of adjectives to describe the Tetons, but the entire hike was breathtaking. We ended up hiking a total of 11 miles (and climbed 100 flights of stairs according to my FitBit) and I felt great the whole way, which I credited to my newly plant-based diet and my #yearofactive challenge. Having a great** hiking partner helped, too - I'm so grateful I married a guy who loves nature and travel and doing outdoorsy things together.

* By our I mean, Larry. He carried all the water/gear because I was loaded down with a backpack full of camera equipment.
** Except for when we got separated on the trail and Larry hiked ahead of me without looking back for an entire mile, chattering the whole way to the hikers behind him who he thought were me. Meanwhile, I'm freaking out because I'm alone on the trail and he's the one carrying the bear spray!

The cool thing about this hike is that you have to take a boat across Jenny Lake to get to the trailhead. (You can walk around the lake if you want to add four more miles to your hike.)
grand teton national park
The most strenuous part of the trail is the first 2.5 miles from the trailhead to Inspiration Point. It's fairly steep and rocky, and also a lot of fun. (This is one of the most popular hikes in the park, but most people turn around there and miss hiking into the canyon.)
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
Once you get past Inspiration Point, the trail flattens out as you hike through Cascade Canyon deeper and deeper into the mountains. I loved that the hard part of the hike was over with at the beginning and then it was smooth sailing while enjoying views of Teewinot (12,325 ft), Mount Owen (12,928 ft) and Grand Teton (13,770 ft) and the river pools in the canyon. A truly phenomenal hike in a phenomenal place. Not surprisingly, I took a zillion photos...
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
grand teton national park
We celebrated our successful day on the trail with beers (Odell Brewing's St. Lupulin - one of the best beers I've ever had) and veggie burgers (inappropriately, but hilariously named The Bushy Beaver) at The Bird, before heading back to the campground to soak my feet in the icy river. As far as vacation days go, this one was an A+.

Monday, March 30, 2015

wyoming | driving through yellowstone

yellowstone 2014
When we were planning our trip to Wyoming, Larry and I decided that we would spend our free time in Grand Teton National Park and not go to Yellowstone. This was a short trip, and we are often guilty of trying to cram too much into our vacations (must see ALL the things!), so we wanted to spend the time we had exploring and appreciating the Tetons and not try to do too much. Yellowstone would have to wait for another time.

We arrived in Wyoming on a Tuesday and I spent the next couple days exploring Jackson on foot while Larry worked. He finished his meetings after lunch on Thursday, July 31st, and since we only had a half day of free time, we decided to drive along the Teton Range and admire the mountains from the car. We drove and drove from the south end of the park to the north end, unable to tear our eyes away from the iconic 13,000 foot peaks. By the time we got to the north end of the park, we realized we weren't very far away from the entrance to Yellowstone. I didn't want to deny Larry the chance to see a little bit of such an amazing park, so we decided to drive in. It's a huge park and we didn't have a lot of time to see all the things I saw when I visited as a child, so I suggested we visit a geothermal feature or two, since that is what really makes the park unique. "Do you want to see Old Faithful?" I asked, but Larry wasn't interested in going to the most touristy park of the park, so we drove on (through the rain) in search of a spot with available parking.
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
We ended up at Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone's largest hot spring. (Two days later, someone would crash a drone into this very spring.) We got out of the car, walked the boardwalk, smelled the sulfur, and snapped some photos:
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014

yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
And then we headed back, stopping at a few overlooks in Yellowstone to grab a few more pics before driving back towards the Tetons.
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
While I'm all for getting out of the car and exploring the world on foot, sometimes taking a scenic drive is just perfect. Especially when you have a view of the Tetons the whole way.
yellowstone 2014
yellowstone 2014
We got back into Jackson just in time to check into our little cabin at the KOA, eat a picnic dinner, and drink some beers next to the crackling campfire (our neighbors cooked steaks and mac and cheese for dinner and I have to admit it smelled sooooo good!), while listening to water rushing from the nearby creek and Snake River.
grand teton national park
The perfect relaxing day before our big hike on Friday...