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:

Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Half-Day at Taggart and Bradley Lakes”

Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Grand Teton National Park- Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

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.

Grand Teton - Hiking to Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake

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”

Westward Road Trip: Our Journey Begins

WESTWARD ROAD TRIP- OUR JOURNEY BEGINS from Denver to Grand Teton National Park for the Total Solar Eclipse

The 3:45 am alarm wasn’t as shocking as I anticipated, since I actually awoke at 3:15 am. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I lay in bed thinking about the adventure ahead of us.

When we landed in Denver at 7:40 am MDT, the sleep deprivation caught up with me. Hard. I left my library book on the plane and couldn’t process a coherent thought during the train ride into Denver from the airport. Sam was being patient, as always, as we lugged our bags through downtown to get our rental car. I finally begged Sam to hop on the free bus towards the rental car agency, even though we were only five blocks away.

Denver Street Art near the Central MarketExploring the streets of Denver

An hour later, we had our car, a table at the Denver Central Market, and caffeine. I only drink coffee a few times a year because caffeine takes a serious toll on my body. Luckily, this was one of those instances when I needed it to take its toll and bring me to life. I chugged my almond milk cappuccino in about three minutes and lost myself in a DELISH breakfast burrito from Izzio bakery. Our friend Hannah recommended the Central Market—and joined us for our meal—and we slowly began to feel more settled and revived.

Enjoying coffee at the Denver Central MarketFresh treats at Innis Bakery in DevnerThe perfect almond cappucino at the Denver Central Market

Denver was filled with errands: pick up a cooler and some chairs from our friend Andrew’s house; go grocery shopping for at least a week’s worth of food in case everything near the eclipse path of totality was out of stock; organize our cooler with said groceries and sort out the other foods; drive to the flagship REI for some last-minute supplies (we had to drag ourselves away before losing ourselves in its outdoorsy glory).

Continue reading “Westward Road Trip: Our Journey Begins”

Ragnar Cape Cod: A Long Recap of a Really, Really, Really Long Race

Ragnar Cape Cod - We Survived!

We did it! We shoved ourselves into a minivan with strangers (whom soon became friends), ran three times in less than 20 hours, and traversed the length of Cape Cod as RAGNARians. It was a whirlwind of an adventure, and one I hope to do again someday.

It’s hard to describe RAGNAR with words and photos. The entire aura of RAGNAR is unlike anything I’ve ever felt, whether at a race or at any other event. Our team—one of the 500 teams taking place in this epic logistics whirlwind—was split between two vans with six runners in each van, but we competed as a whole unit. While I strived to do my best as an individual runner, I was equally invested in cheering each of my van-mates at the start and finish of their runs. It’s a team event, but so much of my time was focused on preparing myself for my solo runs because I never knew exactly when I’d be running again. It’s more mental than physical, and that was a challenge for me.

Continue reading “Ragnar Cape Cod: A Long Recap of a Really, Really, Really Long Race”

Camping at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: Adventures with Bears


“What to do when bears are outside tent.”

This is what Sam Googled as we lay side by side in our tent on Wednesday night, listening to the sounds of heavy, raspy breathing and thick-padded footprints moving along the outside of our thinly walled tent. It was raining, but even over the pitter-patter droplets hitting the tent and muddy ground, sounds of deep breathing and sluggish feet were unmistakable. This animal was not a raccoon.

I wasn’t yet asleep when I first heard our visitor. The rain started shortly after dinner, as we were walking back to our site from the restrooms. Brushing out teeth under the open trunk roof of our car, we quickly rinsed, spit, and ran into the tent. Snuggling into our new sleeping bags and talking in the dim light of our nifty solar-powered lantern/water bottle (an impulse REI purchase, as many purchase are from REI), we reflected on the day’s activities.

Continue reading “Camping at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: Adventures with Bears”



It’s been a while since Sam and I took a trip, just the two of us, to explore and see something new. We’ve had some great trips with friends and family or to visit people we know, and we really love seeing the world this way. Now that I work during the week and Sam works most weekends, it’s rare we get a full day together…and when we do, we tend to socialize with our friends or travel somewhere to see someone. 

But as far as those trips focused on just the two of us, resetting our brains and talking about our dreams and fears and joys as a couple? Well, we’ve not had the chance to do that since early February of this year. These just-the-two-of-us trips are ones I really value. We talk about the present and the future, wander for miles, and always return from our adventures physically exhausted but emotionally fulfilled.

This weekend, we have two glorious days to ourselves over the long weekend. Rather than spend it tucked between the crowds on the Chicago beaches or continuing our urban adventures, we’re heading to the Indiana State Dunes after our long training run on Saturday.

We went to the Indiana Dunes earlier this year, for a few hours with our friend Ryan. The Indiana Dunes aren’t as beautiful as our hometown Sleeping Bear Dunes, but that’s ok. We’re not going because we want it to replicate a place we’ve already seen a hundred times. We’re going because we want to see new things and learn what other places in the world can offer to us.

Besides, there’s a lot to the Indiana State Dunes than just the dunes. There are a ton of hiking trails through bogs and wooded marshlands, which is something we can’t necessarily experience up north. It’s a very diverse ecosystem, and we’re excited to see what wonders and mysteries await us there.

We’ll be camping out on Saturday night and returning on Sunday. I’ll have more to share next week, in addition the rest of my California posts (feel free to read about San Fran and Oakley so you’re all caught up). There have been so many awesome adventures in my life these days…I can’t get enough!

I hope you all have a happy, safe, and adventurous Independence Day weekend!