Trekking Dreams: My Hiking Bucket List

One of the things I love most about hiking is the solitude. For the most part, give me a peaceful trail with nobody else on it over a crowd any day. However, there is one big plus to doing a hike at the same time as a bunch of other people, and it’s that you’ll always find out about more hikes. When we hiked the Milford Track last year, a group of Australians in the huts at the same time as us offered heaps of recommendations when we said our next stop would be Melbourne. It’s because of them that we hiked Mount Kosciuszko, and it’s because of them that a hike I had never even heard of shot to the top of my hiking bucket list.

hike1
Hiking in Canada

The Overland Track is a 65-km, 6-7 day trek through the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness. While there are basic huts along the way, you have to carry everything from food to fuel to camping gear, meaning it’s a strenuous but rewarding undertaking. Steve and I have booked in to do it in early November just before we wrap up our time in Australia. Thanks to a Jetstar sale, we scored a great deal on our flights last week, and since then I’ve been both eagerly anticipating the hike just a few months away, and also thinking about other “dream hikes” I’d like to do in the future.

Continue reading “Trekking Dreams: My Hiking Bucket List”

My travel bucket list

This week marks six months in Melbourne, which means Steve and I are halfway through our visas here in Australia. While we still have plenty of time left for more exploring down under (trips to Cairns, Sydney, and Tasmania are in the works, as well as a few weeks in Japan during the Rugby World Cup), it’s also time to start thinking about our post-visa adventures. We’ll be heading to Ireland as our next long-term destination, but leaving Australia just as it’s coming into summer to head to cold, rainy Ireland in the dead of winter doesn’t sound like the the most fun.

As we begin to outline our plans (in a massive spreadsheet I’m having way too much fun making) for a couple of weeks hiking in New Zealand followed by a ramble through Southeast Asia, I’ve started thinking about my ultimate travel bucket list. I’m lucky enough to have already been on several trip-of-a-lifetime adventures, from a road trip across the USA a few years ago to a year living my best Lord of the Rings life in New Zealand, but the world is so big and there’s still so much more to see. Here are the other places and things I’m most hoping to experience someday.

Hike Mount Kilimanjaro

I bought Steve’s flights for Japan for his 30th birthday present, and I’ve already told him that when I turn 30 a few years from now, I want a ticket to Tanzania. While I’m not into mountaineering and I definitely don’t dream of ascending all seven summits, after Mount Kosciusko earlier this year I would like to see the top of one more. The tallest peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro is high but not overly technical, meaning that you have to account for altitude but don’t have to worry about plunging to your death off an icefall. The average trek takes about a week and a half, and sounds tough but so rewarding.

See the Northern Lights in Iceland

Steve and I talked about flying up to Yellowknife or Whitehorse in hopes of seeing the Aurora Borealis when we were living in Vancouver, but in the end the trip would have been extremely expensive and if we hadn’t gotten lucky enough to see the lights we would’ve felt like there wasn’t much to do in either town. In Iceland, even if you don’t see the lights you’re still treated to some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls and cliffs. The northern lights would just be an amazing bonus.

Visit Patagonia

Aside from Antarctica, which is its own thing, South America is the one country I haven’t yet visited. When I do, I want my first stop to be Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Mountains, glaciers and lakes create awe-inspiring landscapes. By the end of this year I’ll have plenty of overnight hiking experience and I’ll be prepared to take on hikes like the 7-day O trek, as well as many incredible day hikes around the area. And while mainly being an outdoor-focused trip, I also want to visit cities in villages in the area, like Ushuaia, the southernmost city at the end of the world.

Do a YTT abroad

I know that I want to undertake a yoga teacher training someday, more to deepen my own practice than necessarily to teach, and ideally if I can take the time to do so I’d much prefer an intensive version of the 200-hour course than one that is split up over nights and weekends, in order to fully dedicate myself to the training. And if I can go the immersion route, I’d love to do so in another country, where a new environment will help me leave behind the day-to-day and completely focus on learning and yoga.

Take a photography trip to the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye

My friend Medb and I were planning to do this a few years ago and then she, a fellow adventure-lover, ended up taking off for New Zealand on short notice instead (and really, who could blame her?). However, I’d still love to do this someday and now that I’m heading back to Ireland for good(-ish) maybe we’ll even get to go together! I’ve only been to Edinburgh previously, and while it was a beautiful city I’d like to revisit, I really want to get out into the wilds of the moors and see the rugged beauty of the far north of the country.

Backpack Southeast Asia

This is the one that’s in the works. As I said, we’re hoping to skip out on Irish winter and spend a few months eating, hiking, and relaxing (but mostly eating) our way around SEA before arriving back to Ireland in early March (“Just before Paddy’s Day” – Steve). Right now our hope is to visit Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and while we haven’t done much planning yet, thinking about this trip is my current favourite daydream. Anyone with recommendations, please share them!

Five Tips for Your Best Road Trip

You may have noticed that my last post was the day after Election Day. Sometimes when we need our creativity the most is when it’s the hardest to find. Hoping to write more this summer. 

Since the majority of my blog’s readers are either my friends or my mother’s coworkers, most of you probably already know that Steve and I spent March to June traveling across the United States from Vancouver to Philadelphia. Our zigzag route took us about nine thousand miles in a beat up ’03 Ford Windstar (RIP) and to amazing destinations both natural and metropolitan. We went hiking in the Grand Canyon, boozing on Bourbon Street, ate pretty much everything we could possibly eat (plus a lot of soup cooked on our camp stove), and more. 

IMG_6833
At the Tunnel View viewpoint in Yosemite National Park

All along our trip, so many people told us that it was the trip of a lifetime (definitely) and that they would love to do something similar, so I decided to put together my top tips for a cross-country road trip. 

Build a sleeping platform

IMG_4083
Our humble abode

Honestly, sleeping in a van isn’t as rough as it sounds. Sometimes the lack of ventilation makes the night overly hot and humid, but for the most part we were pretty comfortable. However, if you’re traveling for more than a few days and don’t want to spend all your money on motel rooms, a sleeping platform is a must. We took out the back two rows of seats and Steve built ours in an afternoon with a piece of plywood and a bunch of 2x2s. We were able to put almost all of our belongings underneath the platform and a super-cozy piece of foam with bedding on top. At least one road-tripping couple we encountered were sleeping on their seats and so every night they had to shuffle all their luggage around to make room—the last thing you want to do when you’ve been driving for nine hours and you’re completely exhausted.

Continue reading “Five Tips for Your Best Road Trip”

To-do list: now ’til Tuesday?

It seems like every birthday is a milestone birthday for some reason or other. There are the obvious ones like 18 (adult), 21 (drinking), 30 (flirty and thriving, as the Jennifer Garner movie taught us), 40 (over the hill), and so on, but then there are the lesser known milestones like 27 (“will I become a rock star and die this year, joining the infamous 27 club?”) and 80 (retirement? maybe?).

Age 25 is something in between. It doesn’t really come with any new responsibilities or perks (except for not having to pay a shitload extra for car rentals, which as I’m renting a car next weekend I guess is a perk) but a “quarter of a century” does sound pretty cool.

Also, being the aforementioned quarter of 100, 25 is a favoured number for lists, bigger than 10 but not quite the commitment of 50. While “30 Things to Do Before You Turn 30” seems to be the most popular age-related list, there’s no shortage of “25 Things to Do Before You Turn 25” advice. Since I hit that “start your quarter-life crisis” milestone in less than a week, I decided to take a look at four of those lists (100 items total) and see if I’m on track.

 

Thought Catalog: 25 Things Every Woman Should Have Before She Turns 25

My score: 18/25

According to TC, that bastion of cluelessly privileged,, pseudo-profound lists like this one, I’m doing pretty well. Okay, so I have way too many numbers in my phone because I’m a hoarder of all-things digital and I can’t access Plan B on a moment’s notice (has this writer not heard of the pill?). But I can cook, I have a passport, and I call my mom frequently. So great, it sounds like this list is basically “are you an adult, more or less?” and it looks like, more or less, I am.

 

SugarScape: 25 books every girl should read before they turn 25

My score: 13/25

Not so great on this one, although a few are high on my to-read list (my boyfriend bought me a copy of #Girlboss for Christmas, so there’s a good chance I might actually up that number to 14 if I finish the third book in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series in the next few days). However, while there are some favourites on the list (Harry Potter, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?) and a few I think should absolutely be required reading for women (Play it as it LaysThe Handmaid’s Tale), there are also a few I didn’t enjoy at all (Jane EyreThe Lovely Bones), so it’s possible this just isn’t a good list for me from which to take my life’s guidance.

 

Hello Giggles: 25 Habits To Break Before Age 25

My score: 10/25

This is my worst score of the four, but you know what? I don’t feel bad about it. I’m not sure why the author thinks some of these habits need to be broken. Yeah, I’ll  use my credit card on a $2 bottle of water but I track my spending and I’m pretty good about sticking to my budgets. And I don’t enjoy talking on the phone, so I definitely don’t find it more meaningful than texting. Also, why was stealing one of the author’s habits to begin with? I will say I could do with breaking the “going to the grocery store while hungry” habit, though.

 

Buzfeed: 25 Movies You Have to See Before You Turn 25

My score: 15.5/25

(The 0.5 is because I’ve read the book Persepolis although I haven’t seen the film)

While I’m not sure why some of the films on this list need to be seen specifically before you turn 25, like North by Northwest and Requiem for a Dream  (unless you need a big wake-up call regarding your drug use?) but all of the films I’ve seen on this list are great and there’s a few that look interesting. Maybe I can squeeze a few more in between now and Tuesday.

 

Total score: 56.5/100

According to these lists I’m not doing so hot. I’ve done a lot in the last 25 years, and since I won’t spend any of the next 25 being a baby, a toddler, or (ugh) a preteen, I expect I’ll accomplish a lot more in the next 25. And since, again, I haven’t had to spend any of the last quarter-century breaking a stealing or a drug habit, I’ve got a feeling I’ll manage just fine. Anyway, there are always the “30 Before You’re 30” lists to measure up against in another… well, let’s not think about how many years or my quarter-life crisis will start a few days early.

101 Things in 1001 Days

When I was a freshman, my best friend and I decided to try our hands at the “101 Things in 1001 Days” challenge. Somewhat like a bucket list, it’s pretty much exactly as it sounds: we each made a list of 101 things we wanted to do in the next 1001 days. We even made a blog to document our efforts. Well, our enthusiasm faded fast, and the 1001st day came and went just over a month ago, with much of our lists uncompleted. At 54 out of 101, I came in at just over 50%. However, I don’t want to feel let down with myself; instead, I’m going to use the rest of the list as inspiration for the future. I want to look back at a couple of goals on the list that I did manage to complete, and look forward to a few I’m hoping to accomplish this year:

Study Abroad: Completed Spring 2011, Spring 2012

¡Te extraño, Sevilla!

A lot of my goals tied into this one: go to Europe, go to Paris, get an internship, become fluent in Spanish, even seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert, since I managed that just before I left Sevilla at the end of last semester. With five months in England and four in Spain, I’ve spent an entire academic year abroad, and it featured some of the most incredible experiences of my life. I don’t know how much travelling I’ll get to do in the future—although I’m hoping I’ll have some opportunities, but I do know that there are several locations on my list that I have yet to visit and hope to someday, from as close as Chicago to as far as Australia.

Participate in NaNoWriMo: Completed Fall 2011

I even finished ahead of schedule, very proud

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is essentially this: during the month of November, write a 50,000 word novel. The point is writing, not editing, so these novels mostly turn out to be a mass of wordy, unedited work, but the point is to get your words out, and that’s really important. I took part for the first time this past November, and I “won” (wrote 50k). That novel’s still a work in progress, but I hope to finish it eventually, and to participate again this year (although I’m so busy I don’t know if it’ll be possible).

Go to a fan convention: Completed Summer 2011

The overnight crew for the Doctor Who and Supernatural panels

For this one, the name of the game was Go Big or Go Home. When I decided to go to a “fan convention,” I picked the biggest and best: San Diego Comic Con. It was four days of waking up at 5am, waiting in line for hours (or in the case of the Sunday Hall H campout, all night) and being packed into the convention center with tens (hundreds?) of thousands of other people. It was also a week of meeting online friends (and making new friends as well), seeing panels of my favourite tv shows (one of the highlights was a “Lost: One Year Later” panel where the surprise guests were Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse), and having an amazing time. I couldn’t go this year but I’m hoping maybe in 2013!

Play Quidditch: Fall 2012? 

I’ve gotten back into playing sports this semester, joining an intramural soccer team (go Heartbreakers!) and even coaching a team for the local youth soccer league (which was another item on my list, actually). While Quidditch isn’t exactly the same thing, one of my roommates is really involved with the Ithaca team. I’ve always been intrigued by it and since she let me know that they have “open play” once a week, I’m sure at some point this fall I’m finally going to get the chance to give it a go.

See Ten Performances by Ithaca Students: 2012-2013 school year

Being off campus for two out of the past four semesters has made this somewhat difficult, but there’s so much talent on at this school and with this being my last year I want to take advantage of it. It was cool to kick off the year and celebrate the end of Jumpstart watching the fantastic Second Dam perform, and I’ve seen a few other shows and plays over the past three years, but this year I’m going to go to as many as possible. One of my roommates and I have already bought subscriptions to this year’s theatre schedule, which includes performances of Translations, Spring Awakening, and Legally Blonde The Musical, and of course we’ve promised to see our other roommate, a music major, in anything she does.

Run a 5k: 2012-2013 school year

“Exercise” is one of those new year’s resolutions that almost everybody makes and almost nobody keeps. Usually I start off strong and then lose interest pretty quickly, but starting this summer I’ve been running several days a week. While it’s gotten a little more difficult now that I’m back at school, since my schedule is so busy, I’m still making sure to get to the gym or run around the campus (I’ve discovered a route that is exactly 5 miles, which is a nice workout… even if almost half of it is uphill). And I’m hoping to put this practice to good use; I’ve got my eye out for a good 5k, I’m hoping to find one sometime soon.