Grand Teton National Park: Half-Day at Taggart and Bradley Lakes

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:

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Maui: The South Rim Road to Hana and Pīpīwai Trail at Haleakalā National Park

SOUTH ROAD TO HANA

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.

Driving the South Rim of the Road to Hana

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.

Driving the South Rim Road to Hana - Ocean OverlookSouth Road to Hana - Ocean Overlook PanoramicSouth Road to Hana - Ocean Overlook View

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.
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Exploring Boston: Day One

Boston Exploring - Things to do if you only have one day in Boston

We arrived in Boston mid-morning on Thursday, the day before our Ragnar Cape Cod race. Lucky for us, we scheduled our visit so that we could maximize our time in the city, meaning we had almost a full day to check out Boston before our Ragnar race started.

The T subway system put us in an instant state of confusion, but one of the station workers at the airport helped us get where we needed to be. Our friend from Chicago, John, was running Ragnar with us over the weekend and used to live in Boston. He told us where to meet him downtown and gave us a brief walking tour around the city.

Things to do in Boston - Navigating the T Rail SystemThings to do in Boston - Boston Public Garden Statues

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Journal Entry: Hometown, Nostalgia, and Trusting Our Hearts

We were fortunate enough to spend Labor Day weekend in our hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. It’s been almost a year since Sam moved from TC to Chicago, and I’ve been in Chicago for about seven months. Moving from a town of 15,000 people to the third largest city in the USA was definitely an adjustment. We’ve learned to live a little bit differently—in some ways life is easier, in other ways it’s harder—but now that we officially feel settled in our new apartment, Chicago is growing on us.

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes - Labor Day Weekend in Northern Michigan, Traverse City, Leelanau - Mo Stych Blog Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes - Labor Day Weekend in Northern Michigan, Traverse City, Leelanau - Mo Stych Blog Pyramid Point Hiking at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes - Labor Day Weekend in Northern Michigan, Traverse City, Leelanau - Mo Stych Blog

Previously, every time we’ve visited home in northern Michigan, it wasn’t easy to pack up and drive south to Chicago. We missed the open roads, fresh air, public beaches, home-cooked meals, and patches of grass welcoming an afternoon snooze. Those drives back to Chicago were tinged with the feeling that, somehow, I wasn’t strong enough to make our lives work in Traverse City. Like I did something wrong in the five years we tried to establish a life in our hometown, and it was my fault that it never felt right living there. When a place is so beautiful and peaceful it must be easy to live there, and I just didn’t try hard enough to be happy.

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THINGS I LEARNED IN OAKLAND

Things I Learned in Oakland, California: Trip Recap // Mo Stych

Before I arrived in Oakland, I knew precisely two things about this city:

  1. Moneyball is based on the true story about Bill Butler and the Oakland Athletics.
  2. Oakland is located near the Bay Area.

Sam visited some of family members in the Oakland area when he was younger, and all he had to say was “It’s a little rougher than San Fran.” This insight, combined with the two pieces of information I’d gathered during other parts of my life, was the extent of my knowledge about Oakland.

One of my coworker’s long-time friends lives in Oakland, and I was invited to tag along and crash with him before our conference started on Monday morning. We flew out Friday evening and touched down in the San Francisco airport just in time to see the sunset. Despite the 2-hour time change and the fact that I would’ve normally been in bed at this time back in Chicago, I was so excited to start exploring that I didn’t feel the least bit sleepy.

Even so, it was something else that really woke me up when we finally arrived at my coworker’s friend’s place. For one, the house was a little questionable. And filled with drug paraphernalia. And hadn’t been cleaned in, oh, maybe a few months (years?). And also, ants. ANTS EVERYWHERE. The good news is that there was a dog in the house, and he was adorable. I focused all my energy on petting the dog so I wouldn’t have to think about anything else (because I was thinking about pretty much everything that was dirty and filthy and disgusting, since they were all present in this house).

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