Since my previous post, I’ve received a tremendous outpouring of love, support, and insights from so many people. Believe me when I say that, aside from the day of my wedding, I have never felt such love and gratitude for all the people who share in our life.
My closest friends reached out and reassured me of their loyalty. Family members and relatives shared their inner demons and marriage struggles. Other couples (married or not) have reassured us that what we’re going through is not abnormal and worth fighting through.
Even people who lie on the peripherals of our social sphere have offered companionship, coffee dates, kind words, and a glimpse inside their own hearts.
To all these people and more, I can only say:
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(And also, here is a photo of Grand Traverse Bay for you. It is one of my favorite pictures and it fills me with joy:)
Your words, gestures, and vulnerability make us feel less alone. You encourage us to turn towards each other and ourselves. You provide a safe haven during a very rough storm.
One thing I feel I must say, though.
Continue reading “Thank you.”
A friend of mine who saw one of my recent posts on social media reached out and asked if I was feeling better. He knew that I’ve been going through a tough time, and wondered if my recent upbeat post was an indication that things were looking up in my life.
“I thought it was universally acknowledged that people only show their best selves on social media,” I replied.
In that very moment, standing in my kitchen waiting for my tea kettle to boil, I despised the kind of person that I’ve become.
It’s unclear how long I’ve been slipping into this person. Maybe it’s been my whole life, the way everyone conforms a part of themselves to societal standards. Or maybe it’s been the last few years, navigating through the world post-college. While I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, I think it’s happened slowly over the last 10 months. I’ve navigated a lot of difficult territory in the last 10 months, but I’ve not been very open or candid about that journey.
I don’t know how else to say this: I’ve felt very lost lately. It could be just your standard quarter-life crisis, but it doesn’t stop it from feeling real to me. It’s felt very, very real. Over the past few months, I’ve had some pretty monumental breakdowns. During that time, I’ve made an effort to dig deep, investigate the scary spaces in my heart, and ask myself hard questions. The result is that I’m lead further and further down into a space that I don’t often go:
Continue reading “Confessions”
We took the scenic route out of Grand Teton, climbing up and over the Teton Pass—and the entire Teton Range—as we headed west. The panoramic vistas of the National Park and its surrounding area were our final parting gift from this place as we crested the mountains and wove our way down towards Idaho.
There’s a good chance that no one else in the world puts Idaho on as high of a pedestal as I do. For over a decade, I have dreamed of visiting Idaho someday and seeing it for myself, with my own two eyes.
Why Idaho, you ask?
Continue reading “Rural Idaho and Total Solar Eclipse Hype”
Maybe it’s because I grew up near freshwater lakes, or maybe it’s because I don’t have great personal hygiene or something, but I didn’t shower after jumping in Jackson Lake.
I felt rejuvenated, refreshed, and wholly cleansed after the tough hike through Death Canyon and chilly glacier-water swim. I drove the hour south back to Jackson so Sam could enjoy the mountainscape for once. We blasted Local Natives and I let the air whipping in through the windows dry my hair. My mind and heart wandered to a peaceful, calming place.
Reality sunk in as we pulled into Jackson around dinner time. With the total solar eclipse less than 40 hours away, there was a noticeable uptick in traffic around the park. When we finally made it back to our hotel, we set off to buy a few more groceries to get us through the next couple days.
We weren’t sure what food supplies would look like as we headed west, into rural Idaho, for the eclipse. Surely there were hundreds—if not thousands—more people occupying this part of the country than normal. Would we even be able to find food at grocery stores or would they be bare?
We cooked up some quick tacos in the hotel room. (Since we don’t own a microwave, it always feels like a weird 1950s luxury when we get to use one.) After dinner, we tried to stay awake long enough to plan our next day.
There were two plans we considered for our last day in this region and we hadn’t made up our minds. Here were the options:
Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Half-Day at Taggart and Bradley Lakes”
Not gonna lie: I felt like a pansy for sleeping in a hotel after abandoning our campsite. I felt weak, I felt soft, I felt very un-wildernessy. I couldn’t face one of my biggest fears which made me feel like I wouldn’t experience this magnificent place in a natural way.
But honestly? All those feelings dissipated the morning after I woke up in that hotel in Jackson.
I felt like an entirely new person. I popped out of bed at the sound of the 6 a.m. alarm, packed up all our food for the day, and corralled a still-pretty-sleepy husband out the door—all in 45 minutes. We had a sunrise to catch!
Well, we mostly caught the sunrise. The sun was pretty high in the sky by the time we made it to Antelope Flats. The site was already crowded two dozen amateur and professional photographers. This historic Mormon community site is on the south side of the Grand Teton National Park, and the barns provide a quintessential sense of rustic living with the Teton range behind them. Photos of these barns show up all over the place if you Google Grand Teton. Even though it’s a little too “tacky postcard,” I’ll admit that it’s a pretty cool aspect of the park.
Even so, the barns weren’t our main objective (shocking, actually, if you know me). Hiking was our primary goal and we wanted to get on the trail. Since we skipped the main Moose Junction visitor’s center the first two days in the park, we stopped in and asked about trail conditions for Paintbrush Canyon and Death Canyon: both recommended by Ryan, our Teton-insider friend.
Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Death Canyon Steals Our Hearts”
Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of our westward road trip!
Adrenaline kept me upright for the first few hours the morning after listening to the bear (or whatever it was) battering away at a fellow camper’s food locker. I’ll still never know if it actually was a grizzly bear, but I couldn’t help but think about Paul’s warning that they had a grizzly that visited the campground.
As we inhaled our half-cooked hash browns and overcooked scrambled eggs at breakfast—they were warm and the air was a brisk 35 or 40 degrees—-we pondered our plan for the day. It was only a matter of time before my high-strung bear anxiety dissipated and I entered extreme sleep deprivation auto-pilot. If there’s one thing that I need, for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me, it’s at least six hours of sleep every night. I would be operating far under threshold today, and we were expecting a grueling day of hiking, exploring, and further altitude adjustment.
The thought lingering in the back of my mind was that I would need to do it all over again for at least two more nights. We were debating staying at our campsite two more nights for the eclipse, making it a total of 5 nights in Grand Teton instead of our planned three nights. There was a solid chance this could shape up to be one of the most miserable trips of my life if I had to stick out five nights sleeping in a tent with a grizzly visiting the campsite every night.
We packed up and headed towards the park. Our plan was to hike String Lake around to Jenny Lake and up towards Cascade Canyon. When we parked the car, applied our sunscreen, loaded our packs with food and water bottles, and were just about to hit the trail at 8:45 am, we noticed a vital element missing. The bear spray. Sam remembered seeing it in the tent since we kept it there last night as a precaution, and it must’ve still been there. After the events last night and all the warnings we’d heard, there was no way we were hiking without a can of bear spray.
Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon”
After taking in the view and monarch tree at Sun Yat-Sen Park, Sam and I continued our drive along the Pilani Highway towards Hana. The seascapes were immaculate as we ascended the south rim of Maui. We were one of the few cars driving the highway (and the only car going east, towards Hana, instead of away from Hana), but there were plenty of horses walking alongside the road. We let the ocean breeze blow through the windows as we tried taking in the scope of this place. This isolation and tropical paradise felt like a dream.
We started coming back down from the rolling foothills of the volcano, easing closer to the shoreline. There was a scenic overlook on the edge of the road with an overlook, and we were shocked that no one else was stopped there. A fierce, gusting wind kept us back from the edge, reminding me that the spirit of this place is a living, powerful force still present today. I could have bathed in the colors of this scene for hours and never get sick of it.
We continued eastward. Our goal was to reach the Haleakalā National Park on the south shoreline. It would be the fifth National Park we’d visit in 2016, and we wanted to add it to our list. The Park occupies a massive 33,000 acres on Maui, stretching from the summit of the dormant volcano on the inner part of the island all the way to the south coast.
From our hotel in Kihei, the drive to Halaeakalā’s Visitor Center near Kaupo was estimated to take two hours. There was one rule that kept appearing over and over again as we researched the Road to Hana: make sure you’re off the route before the sun sets. We left Kihei shortly after noon and the sunset was scheduled for 6 pm. Based on the open road and expansive vistas we’d seen from higher up the mountain, we were confident we’d have an hour or two to explore the park once we arrived.
Little did we know what we were in for as we cruised along towards Kaupo.
Continue reading “Maui: The South Rim Road to Hana and Pīpīwai Trail at Haleakalā National Park”