For Christmas this past year, my brother gave us a scratch-off map of the United States. The idea is to scratch off all the places we’ve visited together until we clear the entire US map. When we were planning our trip to Massachusetts for Ragnar, Sam pointed out the close proximity of Rhode Island—a state we haven’t visited as individuals or a couple, and also a state we probably wouldn’t plan to visit. I found some decently priced Amtrak tickets during our planning and we planned a day trip to Providence because we didn’t know what else to do.
Some of our Ragnar teammates were from Rhode Island. When they heard we were going to Providence, they shook their heads and told us to cancel those plans and head to Newport, RI instead. They gave us a lot of great pointers for things to do in Newport and really talked it up, so Sam and I shifted our plans. We couldn’t cancel the Amtrak tickets to Providence, but we could rent a car in Providence for the day and drive to Newport instead. Now that we actually had a plan for some things to do, we were excited!
Psst: want the quick synopsis? Check out this 3-minute video of our trip:
We woke up early on Tuesday morning and made our way to South Station to catch our train. In no time at all, we were walking out into a blue-skied day in Providence. The Rhode Island State House, located right outside the train station, drew us in and welcomed us to the smallest state in the USA. There wasn’t a soul around, so we walked right up the State House steps and took in the view. While it helped that it was a gorgeous day outside, we were already pretty psyched about being in Rhode Island (and I’ll be the first to admit that I never thought I’d say that).
Continue reading “Day Trip to the Ocean State: 12 Hours in Rhode Island”
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.
Continue reading “Exploring Boston: Day One”
Just like that, we’re off again! After a travel hiatus (we’ve not gone anywhere since Maui last October), Sam and I are hitting the road tonight and heading down south to Tennessee and North Carolina for an extended Memorial Day weekend.
We’re packing up our little car for a doozy of a road trip. It’s a little over nine hours to reach our friends Blane and Lisa—our hosts for the weekend—in eastern Tennessee. Their location in Greeneville is the perfect hub for reaching the Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. What better way to spend the weekend than hiking in the mountains with good friends? It’s pretty much the only thing I want to do all the time.
That said, we won’t be hiking non-stop all weekend: Saturday will be spent in Asheville, NC at various breweries and distilleries. I’m not a fan of beer, but you’ll find me taste-testing many a whiskey and moonshine this trip. Everyone I’ve talked to about Asheville raves about it, so I’m hoping it lives up to my (very high) expectations. Let’s hope we can remember Asheville when we wake up on Sunday!
As usual, I’m always open to suggestions for things to do and places to visit! If you have any recommendations for hikes and restaurants in eastern Tennessee or Asheville (or a good pit-stop between Chicago and Tennessee), please let me know in the comments. I hope everyone has a safe, fun, and sunny holiday weekend!
A few weeks back, I entered the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship contest.
Even though I wasn’t one of the three winners selected from 8,000+ entries, I’m still happy I entered the contest. Of course, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take a free trip to the Balkans (because DUH), but more importantly, I’ve never entered a writing contest like this before. It was a great challenge for me, as it required me to hone my travel story into 2,500 carefully selected words. Plus, I researched the Balkans region a lot before submitting my entry and this part of the world is now high on my list of places to visit someday.
Since I’ve not had the chance to blog in a while, I wanted to share my entry here. You can also find it on the World Nomads site (and read some other submissions, too). I hope you enjoy it! (Note: the photos were not part of the submission, but I like them.)
We’re standing on (what feels like) the hundredth hairpin curve, halfway to the Pena National Palace in Sintra, and my husband is ignoring me. Gasping for air, sweat soaking through our shirts, the tension between us is as palpable as the sweltering humidity. The shade from the tall trees does little to cool our overheated bodies and tempers. As we silently fume, another air-conditioned bus filled with happy tourists drones past us towards the apex.
Continue reading “Truth and Consequences in Portugal”
If you’re a regular reader of my blog (i.e. my dad, my grandma), you’ve likely noticed it’s been a while since I last posted. To be exact, it’s been over a month since I wrote on this blog. I’m not sure if I can even consider this a blog when that much time passes between posts.
While I don’t want to apologize for my lack of writing or come up with a bunch of excuses for my absence, I do want to fill everyone in on some updates in our lives. Maybe I needed a full month to fully process everything I’m about to share or maybe I just didn’t prioritize the time to write these past 30 days. It’s tough to say.
What’s important is that I’m ready to share some things now. Are you ready?
Here are the big changes in our lives:
Continue reading “Makin’ Waves: Big Changes”
I thought we’d never get here: Day 31. The other side. It’s intimidating, a relief, and a tease all at the same time.
It doesn’t help that Week 4 still held a lot of challenges for us, including a near-quitting day for me and a work conference filled with the most beautiful vegetarian and vegan options I’ve ever seen in my life. Week 4 also had major breakthroughs for us both and we feel like we really did need a full 30 days to “see the light.”(Tiger Blood still feels like a myth, but that’s ok). My awareness about how food interacts with my body is at an all-time high, and I won’t be able to forget the things I learned on this journey.
- I feel too touchy-feely saying Whole30 was “life changing,” but the truth is that I will never be the same. My life is different now, and I can’t view food the same way: even the foods I really, really love and truly cherished before I started this. Do I still want to eat muffins and pizza and cheap Mexican food? Well….I do, but I also kind of don’t. I know too much now, and I know what it feels like to fuel my body with real food sources. It feels good. It feels so good that it may counteract the temptation of foods I know taste delicious for a few minutes but make me feel crappy later. Time will tell.
- We’re doing a slow-roll reintroduction plan. This means we’ll reintroduce certain food groups for one day, then two days of W30 so we can evaluate how the reintroduced foods made us feel. After investing this much time into cleansing our bodies, it seems like a waste to skip this step. We’re excited but a little nervous about this part, since it’s going to teach us what foods work well with our bodies and which don’t. What if I discover some of my favorite foods (hummus, quinoa, oats) actually make me feel like crap? There could be hard decisions to make. Anyway, for the next 10 days, our food schedule looks like this:
- Day 1: Non-gluten grains (rice, quinoa, corn, etc.) followed by two W30-compliant days
- Day 4: Legumes (soy, chickpeas, peanuts, etc.) followed by two W30-compliant days
- Day 7: Gluten-containing grains (bread, pizza crust, waffles, oats, cereal, etc.) followed by two W30-compliant days
- Day 10: Dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.). I’m already pretty sure that dairy screws up my system, so I asked Sam if we could do this one last.
Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 4 Recap”
WOWOWOWOWOW. Somehow we’ve made it to Day 25! I can’t believe it! This month is definitely one of those “the days go by slowly but the weeks go quickly” scenarios. We’re a mere 5 days away from completing our Whole30 challenge. Spoiler alert: it’s still really challenging. Read on for more about our third week, and make sure to check out the short video!
OBSERVATIONS – WEEK 3
- SO. MUCH. FLOSSING. Normally I floss before bedtime, averaging 5-6 times a week, but now I’m flossing after practically every meal. Chai seeds, salmon, spinach, apple…it’s like I’m storing my next meal in between my teeth.
- My sense of smell is driving me crazy. Even though I’m 75% done with this challenge, it is still agonizing when someone eats warm, delicious, gluten-chewy pizza right next to you. Or even across the room. My nose is picking up all kinds of smells, and smells from foods I really crave are sensory explosions in my mind.
Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 3 Recap”
Well, we made it through two weeks on the Whole30! Halfway there! There were a lot of things on our minds this past week, so I’ll do my best to recap my observations. If you’re interested in learning more about Whole30 and my experience so far, check out my week 1 recap.
OBSERVATIONS – WEEK 2
- Getting the Whole30 book is definitely worth it. Even in college, I used any excuse to not buy a book. Unless it was a textbook I would need every day, I put off buying (or renting) a book as long as possible, and sometimes I wouldn’t buy a required book the entire semester. I found a lot of great Whole30 resources online—enough survival tips to get me through the program—and I assumed it was enough. But you know the gym guy that Sam says I spend way too much time talking to? Well, he gave us the Whole 30 book, and it’s made this whole past week a lot easier. There are two great resources in here: 1. a fundamental breakdown of why the program is designed this way and why it will change our lives; 2. a calendar of what feelings to expect on each day of the program (and it is really on-point). To be totally honest, I wish I had this book before we started the program.
- It turns out our first week was pretty normal for active, healthy eaters (but we didn’t know it until we had the book). We were hungry, irritable, and eating a billion nuts…well, at least I was eating a billion nuts. We wanted to quit on the exact days (days 10 and 11) that they estimated we would quit. We didn’t experience any of the major withdrawals of unhealthy eaters, but we still had the peaks-and-valleys kinds of energy levels they outlined in the book. If nothing else, I wish I’d known to expect these feelings during my first week —ESPECIALLY on day 10 for me—instead of feeling isolated and alone in my angst.
Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 2 Recap”
On New Year’s Day, Sam and I started the Whole30 challenge. If you’ve not heard of Whole30, there’s plenty of information available online but the rules sum it up best.
Essentially, Whole30 is a strict Paleo diet geared towards clean-eating. The idea is to cleanse your body of sugar cravings, fuel your body with real food, and eliminate common inflammatory foods so you can determine what types of processed food groups aggravate your system. By enforcing strict eating rules for a full 30 days, you detox your body from all the gunk in there and, supposedly, have “a life-changing” experience (according to 88% of people surveyed people post-W30).
We’re on Day 9, or just over a week in. The first week is commonly called The Detox Week, because your body is adjusting to using the fuel you provide—fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats, and a few other hippie-like foods—and coping with the loss of foods you can’t consume for 30 days. Here’s a brief list of what we’ve sacrificed eating for 30 days (text in the parentheses is pulled verbatim from the Whole30 website):
- No grains. (This includes [but is not limited to] wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on.”
- No legumes. (“This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).”)
- No dairy. (This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream”
- No alcohol of any kind.
- No real or artificial added sugars of any kind. (No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.)
I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a commitment, and if it’s something you’re thinking about doing you’re going to need to plan ahead. But, it is something I’d recommend thinking about if you’re interested in trying it. Since we’re a week in, I thought I’d share some of my motivation to try Whole30 and what my initial reactions/thoughts are to the program.
Continue reading “Whole30 – Week 1 Recap”
I’ve put a lot of time in this final post of 2016. There are a lot of things I could write about because this was a very big year for me in terms of mental and emotional growth. Sam and I traveled to a bunch of beautiful places, officially moved to a new city, learned a lot about each other, learned a lot about the world, and truly lived this year to the fullest. How could I possibly sum up everything I learned in a year into one blog post? I already have a tendency to write too much, but come on. I wouldn’t even want to read that.
Instead, when I thought back on everything that happened in 2016, I realized that essentially everything I’ve felt in the last 12 months can be honed in on a specific day. To be more accurate, the entire summation of this year comes down to approximately 15 seconds around 9:00 pm on Sunday, July 24.
For 15 seconds, a gun was pointed at my chest. Then Sam’s chest. I knew everything I’ve ever wanted to know about myself in that short period of time.
Continue reading “My Most Significant Moment of 2016”