SJL1: Hike, Horsecamp, and Wine

Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone. – Wendell Berry

To be very honest, I wasn’t sure that the opening leg of my trip could be topped. I was wrong. Horse camping was incredible.


Side note: I was pretty proud of myself for being somewhat handy in helping with providing some minimal guidance for the truck to the trailer hitch and not being a total dolt around the horses.

Second side note: This was my first time around horses in 7 years, of which the last time ended up with me in a neck brace being ambulance off the side of a mountain – The credit goes to my horse and my camp leader for making this experience back in the saddle seamless and confidence boosting.

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon ( – DO it. Go! I was so amazed at how beautiful it was!

Trail of Ten Falls *cue momentous music*


800 ft of elevation gain, 7.8 miles, 8 waterfalls, approx 4hrs (inclusive of lunch, breaks, camera stops, etc.)

Start at North Falls Trailhead > Canyon trail to Twin Falls (1.1 miles) > Twin Falls Trail (.5 mile) > Twin Falls to Winter Trail (.3 miles) > cont’d to Double Falls (.4 miles) [ you will see: Middle North Falls, Drake Falls, Double Falls – which was really 1 and a trickle, Lower North Falls, Middle North Falls] to Canyon Trail to Lower South Falls (1 mile) > Stairs of Hells to South Falls (1.3 miles) > South Falls to Rim Trail (.9 miles) > Rim Trail to North Falls Trailhead (2.3 miles)….and you DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! **HUFF-HUFF-PUFF-PUFF**

I highly recommended hiking the entire loop (in some places you get to walk behind the fall!) – be sure to wear comfortable shoes, take a hiking stick if you have one, and dress appropriately. I saw one too many silly people in flip-flops and shoes that made my feet hurt just looking at them (here is to you platform boots and let’s not speak of the ding-dong parents who let their kid (roughly between 3-5yrs of age) wear jelly sandals – the kid looked miserable btw…DUH!). Pack a lunch/snacks and water! Take lots of pictures and give yourself time to enjoy the hike!

Side note: The “stairs of hell” (SoH) they aren’t fun (that also isn’t their real name, I don’t think they have a name but it seems appropriate). The below picture doesn’t show the entire staircase up, nor does it illustrate the actual ‘stairs’. I recommend you take your time, breathe, be in shape, stop and enjoy the scenery (look behind you at the waterfall), breathe, look around, did I mention breathe?


Yay! You did it!!! But wait! There is more! Don’t get all excited that you made it through the SoH and think you can make it from the Rim Trail to the North Falls Trailhead in record time. Heed my advice: Don’t go out of the gate hot! There is an incline, it isn’t apparent and it will get you. Consider yourself warned! I also recommend doing the trail in the direction given above however if you don’t have time to do the entire loop, it can be done in sections.

The next two days were filled with horseback riding, fires, and enjoying the outdoors.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and so there was a return to Newborn. (With dinner at Chehalem Brewery Co ( – Excellent! Ask for the house aoli!)


Before leaving and moving onto part two of my walkabout, wine was had. Wine should always be had, especially when in wine regions. A wine tasting at Vidon Vineyard ( was the farewell ending to my time in Oregon, and an ever so perfect ending at that. The winery has super awesome views accompanied by happy, knowledgeable staff. Be sure to say hello to Mr. Studly (the vineyard rooster). I really liked the Explorer Tempranillo (yes, named after the Explorer satellite program!) and 2014 3-Clones Pinot Noir. Do the tasting, buy the wine, enjoy the experience. Thank me later.


After buzzing up, it was a drive to Portland where I caught Amtrak Cascade to Seattle King Street Station…and onto Walkabout Part Two.

Side note *3 or is it 4?*: Don’t take the Amtrak Cascade if you can take the Coast Starlight. If you must do it, go business class and sit on the left side of the train.

Endnote: This trip wouldn’t have been possible without my Oregon mom, her ponies, and an adorable little pup. I’m forever grateful and the memories will last a lifetime.


SJL1: Riding the Scenic Express

I am very keen about travel, not only personally…but also about travel for as many Americans as can possibly afford it, because those Americans will be getting to know their own country better; and the more they see of it, the more they will realize the privileges which God and nature have given to the American people.  – President FDR

June 19

The time spent in Tahoe City was perfect (see the previous blog for more). The weekend was a celebration of love and laughter and new experiences. Getting in the car to head out of town was not sad but rather an eager anticipation of the next adventure. The route was as follows:

Tahoe City – 80West (may or may not have been some slight backtracking that did go by Donner Lake and Donner Memorial State Park – all persons survived with all body parts accounted for) – take 89 north through Quincy, CA

Food stop in Quincy: Patti’s Thunder Cafe (super cute! dog-friendly patio and they brought water for the pup – food was really good (I had a Thunder Burger with salad and homemade blue cheese dressing) and the coffee was also good! Recommend!

Over lunch the subject was asked about going a little out of the way to drive through Lassen Volcanic National Park – the vote was a yes! (I may or may not have been a little giddy).


Lassen NP was stunning – absolutely stunning. The greens, the blues, the snow…Mother Nature knows how to impress. The park wasn’t that busy and that was super nice. It is a park that I would love to go back and do some camping and hiking in.

From Lassen, it was onto 44west and into Redding, CA. Dinner at Black Bear Diner (Tri-tip sandwich was divine and paired with sweet potato fries …nom nom!)

The temperature changes of the day:  Tahoe City 72F – Lassen NP 59F – Redding 96F

The elevation changes of the day: Tahoe City 6,250 ft – Lassen NP 8,511 ft – Redding 344 ft

June 20

From Redding, it was I 15 to US 97 (with a stop in Weed, CA and a view of Mt Shasta) then onto St Rd 138 and into Crater Lake National Park (insert squeal here).

So the fact that I was able to visit 2 unplanned national parks…let me repeat…TWO AMAZINGLY AWESOME NATIONAL PARKS!!!! Yea well I was in nerd heaven.

It was so easy to see why Crater Lake is one of the crowning jewels of the NPS – pictures really don’t do it justice. (BTW – there was a Tesla charging station at the North entrance…#phdnerdmoment). The park was busy, much busier than Lassen – and while I didn’t get a chance to see the entire park – I did get to see the Crater Lake Lodge (Part of the historical society of hotels). On the way out of the park, the weather took a turn for the interesting with temps dropping and hail coming down. It was an experience, to say the least! Then it was onto Oregon and home base!

Temperature changes: Redding 92F – Crater Lake 48F – Newberg 72F

Elevation changes: Redding 344 ft – Crater Lake 6,178 ft – Newborn 175ft

Over the course of 2 days

? State Forests/Parks – Donner Memorial State Park and possibly others

6 National Forests: Tahoe NF; Plumas NF; Lassen NF; Shasta-Trinity NF; Winema NF; Umpqua NF

1 National Wildlife Refuge: Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

5 major lakes: Donner Lake; Lake Almanor; Shasta Lake; Klamath Lake; Diamond Lake

2 National Parks: Lassen Volcanic National Park; Crater Lake National Park

This was one of the most scenic road trips…hands down…ever!

Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone. – Wendell Berry

SJL1: Because Love…

Summer Journey Leg 1 (SJL1) – Tahoe City

Let’s cover the touristy stuff first 🙂

Lodging: Pepper Tree Inn – Great location in town with spectacular views of the lake. The staff is friendly and the continental breakfast is fresh with a variety of selections. Ask for a room on the 7th floor, the view is spectacular.


Food selections:

Jakes’s on the Lake: Try the Vegan Falafelwich with Edamame salad! A little on the pricey side but the view is spectacular and there is a beer garden that makes for a perfect spot to get together with friends (and is dog friendly!)

Lunch delights

A vegan meal at Jake’s on the Lake

Tahoe Mountain Brewery – Lake Tahoe Brewpub: The patio is prime seating – I had a Blood Orange Saison paired with a Bacon Black & Blue Burger with the House Made Chips – delightful! Pricing is reasonable.


Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co

Fat Cat Bar & Grill: A great little spot – live music with good bar menu and mixed drink selection. I went for The Cat’s Meow (well it was made with Templeton Rye sooooo). The lamb burger with sweet potato fries were delish and the service was great.

The Cat's Meow

Templeton Rye Whiskey for the win

Things to do:

There are so many things to do in the area – a car is recommended. If you don’t have a car there are plenty of water activities, great bike and hiking paths (bikes available for rent), shops for those looking to get their shopping fix – and all within walking distance! All in all the views are absolutely spectacular. Avoid the weekends if possible – traffic really picks up with bars and restaurants being full.


The primary reason for this trip was because my friend was getting hitched to her forever boy – the wedding was perfect and the couple was beaming with love that radiated to those around them.

Being in the mountains has been incredible. Sun, water, cool air, the smell of the pine trees, the sound of the wind rustling through the Aspens…the perfect way to start the summer. More than the scenery, more than the food, the past couple of days have been perfect because I’ve been surrounded by what matters the most…

Ships on the lake

Ships on Lake Tahoe

Friends, Family, Laughter, Dancing, Celebration – Perfection!

Strolling the lake

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Let’s Do This


May the memories be forever part of your soul

4 years ago I started Mission Ph.D. Flashforward to May 2018 – Mission Accomplished. Very anti-climatic on that delivery (Newsflash: It is basically the same way in real life!)

I had a mental image of how life would be after graduation – things didn’t exactly pan out that way. It took me a little bit to wrap my head around that things weren’t going per plan. Adjust, Adapt, Overcome. (Ok so it wasn’t that quick and easy but for sake of brevity we shall pretend).

A joyous occasion in Tahoe City gave me a chance to travel. Since I was a couple of time zones away already, why not travel more? So a plan, of sorts, formed. A plan that isn’t set in stone and that is the beauty of it!

I’ve been lax on the blogging and haven’t been inspired to pick up my camera (PhD and all) so part of my goal for this trip is to 1) take pictures – be it phone or camera and 2) blog.

The itinerary to date: 

  1. Tahoe City (Plane)
  2. Portland area – Silver Falls State Park (Automobile)
  3. Seattle (Train – was supposed to be the Starlight Coast but due to a tunnel being repaired I’m on some prosaic regional train)
    1. Olympic NP
    2. Rainier NP
    3. Fox Island
  4. Great Falls, MT (Plane)
  5. Red Lodge, MT (Automobile)

No return date (which made packing very interesting!)


1 suitcase, 1 duffle, 1 backpack…no return date

Activities on deck: Hiking, Horseback riding, Camping, Exploring, Working out, Laughing, Enjoying time with Family and Friends

I think what I’m looking forward to the most is rediscovering my happy again. I recently watched Lord of the Rings and for the first time I identified with Frodo…you don’t walk into the flames and emerge the same person you were before the flames touched you. However, I really wish to be like Bilbo Baggins (the movie character- The Hobbit) for all the change and the loss, he never lost his sense of wonder, his positive outlook on life.

So here is to moving forward post-PhD, transforming, and finding out what this new chapter has in store for me…

Image result for The Hobbit quotes

(Google images)

Life is a Zoo…2018 is Now Open for Business

So apparently New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to be made (some article I read last year) however I’m going with 2018 Goals, as opposed to resolutions. For me moving forward requires some reflection on the past.

It has been a rough end to the year with the loss of my little fur-friend. I thought I was so prepared to let her go and while I know it was the right decision (at 15yrs and with an enlarged heart, it was her time) it has been a process. I feel like I lost a little piece of my heart. [And that is all I have to say about that – Forest Gump]

There are several other events that I could have done without coming to fruition at the year end. So it was important that I look back over the events of the past year if for nothing other than to not judge 2017 on just the last two months of the year.

The Good Stuff (in no particular order)

  • I spent time in Texas with friends

Shot and Seat

  • A work trip to Mexico


  • The road trip of all road trips from FL to Seattle


  • Fantastic conference in NOLA with two amazing gal pals


  • Some great workouts (inclusive of podium finish at a comp) and improvements in the lifting department
  • Progressed with the PhD
  • I’m a godmother/aunt to the most beautiful little girl

2018 Goals

  • Finish my PhD – Spring 2018 – even if it damn near kills me
  • Secure a job in academia for a Fall 2018 start
  • Stay strong
  • Don’t be a disappointment
  • No matter what, no matter where – don’t forget to find the positive and always keep a smile

That pretty much sums it up.

So here is to 2018 and remember…

“If you are confident enough, every zoo is a petting zoo.” – Author Unknown

In Memory of Ruby: 2002-2017

HRH Ruby Tuesday Templeton

Rest in Love little girl

Go West…Drive tourism in action

When one of the most important people in your life decides to take a job across the country (literally 3,350 miles in the opposite direction of you), it is only logical to volunteer as co-pilot for the journey.

Go West Young Man

The trip went something like this: Day 1: Orlando, FL to Metropolis, IL (we saw Superman); Day 2: IL to Osage City, KS (crossed the Mississippi!); Day 3: KS to Estes Park, CO (Highly recommend the Silver Moon Inn, Claire’s for breakfast, and Estes Park Crossfit – Rocky Mountain National Park was amazing, from what little we saw due to weather); Day 4: CO to Rock Springs, WY (WY has the most impressive visitor center I’ve seen); Day 5: WY to Boise, ID (saw the 1st JC Penny store in Kemmer, WY before a stop at Fossil Butte National Monument to interview park ranger, must go back and hike); Day 6: ID to Seattle, WA (Cowboy Donuts was most excellent and “You have reached your final destination”).

Along the way we ate protein bars, sunflower seeds, a giant bag of Twizzlers (only 150 calories per 4!), drank shitty gas station coffee and listened to Disney, Glee, Hamilton, and lots of This American Life, which if you have never listened to I recommend you do. We also talked about random things, bitched at traffic, and had a general good time. I managed to keep up with my workouts, even if it meant getting up at 5am to do so. I also only logged two nap sessions during the 6 days of driving (this is major since I typically pass out approximately 30min into a journey), and never got us lost (I may or may not have almost missed a turn but I made up for it by reading all the signs as if the pilot couldn’t see them, which he could but it made me feel better about my momentary failures as co-pilot).

Fossil Butte National Monument

For me the biggest standout was watching the country change. It reinforced how much I love traveling and the beauty in the diversity of landscape, wildlife, plant life, people, politics and culture. I get to live in a beautiful country and this trip really helped remind me of that.

Seattle was a fun city to explore. Coffee shops every six stores, the Starbucks of all Starbucks (aka Starbucks Roastery – and even monks visit this location so it has to be good!), great places to eat, dog friendly, and super walkable.

The food scene was fantastic: Cheese, Meats, Bread (not your every day grilled cheese sandwhich); Lunchbox Laboratory (try a boozy shake!); Pho In & Out (the service was FANTASTIC and the pho on point); every coffee house ever (just do them all); Sweet Iron Waffle Bar (have a sweet and savory waffle); Japonessa Sushi Cocina (I recommend going for happy hour – possibly the best sushi I’ve ever had); The Pink Door (an experience that I strongly recommend – check the entertainment schedule – the Pink Door Lasagna and Bolognese were amazing); Elliot’s Oyster House (great location on the Pier – great spot to watch the sunset – again I recommend happy hour).

I also utilized Uber Eats while in Seattle. Let me tell you how utterly overwhelming it was to decide what to order…on one occasion I gave up and just had a protein shake, the decision was more than my little brain could handle.

What we did: When you visit friends in a place you have never been, typically you want to experience all the tourist things that make your friends cringe. The beauty of this trip was that we were really both tourists and as such visited the following:

  • Space Needle (go up, come down, and marvel at the view – if you are into kettle corn, it smelled amazing – I just drooled over the smell b/c I’m allergic and 550 feet up isn’t really the place for an allergy attack).
  • Museum of Pop Culture – super awesome, the exhibits change, but we saw: Star Trek, Jim Henson, Horror Movies, Fantasy, and Sound (where you get to play with instruments!).
  • The Space Needle and MoPOP sit in the complex that once held the World Fair (Aka Century 21 Exposition) – take time to explore the entire area, it is worth it!
  • Pike’s Place Market – and Yes we saw the dude’s throw the fish! The market is three levels and is visited by both tourists and locals alike – and rose kale seems to be the plant of choice in floral arrangements.
  • Walk and explore – the other parts of the stay really was just walking and exploring. I stopped in every coffee shop possible and some random stores that looked interesting.
  • Foundations Crossfit is the place to drop in – for you workout buffs. I did the OLY classes and the coaching was excellent. They are very friendly and welcoming and I highly recommend them for a drop in of OLY, Powerlifting, or Crossfit classes.
  • What we did NOT do: Due to an unusually early snowfall (it snowed in the city – and apparently that is apocalyptic) we did not get to visit Mt Rainier or Olympic National Parks. The road conditions less than ideal and a pass was closed – I may or may not have almost cried…Mother Nature apparently has something against my dissertation (it’s on electric vehicles and sustainability in the national parks, which is totally ‘save the earth’ so I’m confused – but such is life!) We also didn’t take a water taxi across to Alki Beach or go to the Aquarium (mainly b/c I overslept that day and decided to do school work instead).

As a whole on this trip, I found the people to be polite and friendly. Sure there were some places that had a grouch but really most people were helpful and happy to be of service.

Would I do the trip again? Absolutely! I don’t regret sitting in a car for 6 days at all (my legs and hips may argue that point but getting old is rough!) – I can honestly say that I never once was ‘bored’. There were some moments of ‘road weary’ but that comes with the territory. Overall, the time that I got to spend with my friend is really what I treasure. Life is what you make of it…your journey is all in your perspective on life. See the beautiful around you, make your own laughter, treasure the memories and the times you get to spend with those you love.


Selfies were taken throughout the journey #earthpartner

Take a Risk…Have an Experience

I knew nothing about grid league until recently. The newly formed Orlando Aces, part of the Florida Grid League, had two open tryouts. Players specialize in body weight movements (they do the ‘sexy’ stuff like muscle ups and hand stand pushups), barbell specialists (moving lotsa weight hella fast), and utility players (the badasses that can do everything).

For the first combine (aka tryout), I was able to grab clicks and watch the excitement (I loved every moment of it!). As to the second combine… after a little push, a shove, some subtle-not-so-sublet hints, and a tad bit of bullying, I tried out this week as a barbell specialist.


Did I make the team? NO! Not even close lol. The girls that did were spectacular and super impressive. What did happen? Well, I had a great time and I surprised myself with how I did do. To be VERY clear, I had zero expectations and after seeing the girls that were moving the weight around I knew I was definitely not making the cut. However, having only practiced cycling the heavier weight for a week – I was VERY happy with my performance. This did reaffirm that I love moving weight around, however for now I’m going to focus on OLY lifts.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone isn’t easy, however the trick is to just have fun. Embrace the uncomfortable and don’t wind yourself up so tight that you loose sight of the reason you pushed yourself in the first place.

Personally, I think the Aces are going to do well (fine I’m biased!). They have the all the ingredients for success: sound vision, strong leadership, key support staff, and a solid, well rounded team. Most of all, they have a group of coaches who understand how to push athletes to work hard yet have a blast. All while making sure that all the wheels are turning towards success.


One of the best parts for me was being able to support some super friends/athletes, throw down with some amazing athletes, get coaching advice from pros, and have a great time with friends.

To the entire organization I wish only the best…give em’ hell and remember to enjoy the experience!