Island Hopping the British Virgin Islands

Life in the Caribbean has taken off in a full sprint. In January, I ventured to another country and visited the British Virgin Islands for the very first time. Since then, I’ve been two more times and it’s ONLY the beginning of March. Three passport stamps in 3 months. Pretty sure that’s a new record for me, granted it is the SAME passport stamp, but a stamp is a stamp right?!?! However, with each additional stamp came with a new island, so it’s totally appropriate to count them.

Do you know anything about the BVIs? Read more

The Beginning of My Island Life

It’s hard to start this post because since landing on St. Thomas last Friday, it’s been completely overwhelming. People always say “it’s island time” and until you are immersed into the culture and lifestyle that doesn’t mean anything. “Island Time” has a whole new meaning to me, and I’ve only been here for a week. I’m positive that is going to change again and again as I continue to become immersed in the daily living of St. Thomas.

For those who don’t know, St. Thomas is 1 of 4 islands which form the U.S. Virgin Islands (along with St. Croix, St. John, and Water Island), an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1917. The island is home to ~51,000 residents over the ~31 square miles of land (that’s 23 miles from end to end), which sounds small but these roads are windy, steep and rough. So in reality it can take you over 2 hours to get from one side of the island to another. AND Traffic, will be, well horrible, from what I was told. We are a major port on many Caribbean cruise lines and I was told there could be as many as 5 ships in the harbor. Read more

A Hiking Adventure: Blanca Lake

My 28th year was quite memorable to say the least. Not only did I move into the heart of Seattle, I made amazing new friends, became more invested with my running and volleyball family, had a major hardship event in my life, and more personal growth than I could have expected happened.

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do but I knew one thing was certain, I needed to be in the mountains. For the last three birthdays, I have spent exploring the Cascade Mountains and every year it allows me to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly from the previous year.

Because of the many groups I belong to, I knew I could make an event out of this but the closer it came to my actual birthday, the more I realized things were occurring that same weekend. I still consider this hike to be my birthday hike, even though it was two weeks after my birthday.

This year, I selected a very well known and popular hike called Blanca Lake. I have been dying to hike this particular glacial lake for sometime because from what everyone said it is a MUST-DO hike.

Blanca Lake is a 7.5 mile roundtrip hike through the Central Cascades with a gain of 3300 ft, peaking at 4600 ft elevation. You start hiking in what Washington Trail Association calls “second growth forest” with large trees and begin to climb right off the back. This is the major difficulty of this hike as your gaining 3000 feet in less than 3 miles through switchbacks and pretty much begins right at the trailhead. It’s well worth the climb, as when you reach the peak you find yourself on a ridge line, with switchbacks heading up a rocky face with mountains on all sides and a clearcut view of Glacier Peak.

From here, the remaining hike is fairly resting as you walk through beautiful meadows until you hit this amazing view of the valley at the bottoms of the Columbia Peaks. Then comes the greatest view I have seen. This amazingly milky turquoise water lined with mountains and this white lined glacier. Breath-taking to say the least. WTA calls it “robin-egg blue waters” and explains that the l”Columbia Glacier drains via a twin waterfall into the vibrately blue colored water”. The Columbia Glacier is shrinking and I hate to say that it might not last many more years/decades. This is a must do hike for all locals and visitors to the state of Washington.

I was blessed with several friends who joined me on this hike including friends from all my circles, volleyball, running, and church family. We started off a little later than normal but it was for good reason. I had to run 6 miles before hiking and didn’t want to miss it. On our drive, we met up with another friend and got to the trailhead just before 11, but along our drive we lost the second car and had no service at the trail head. We had no choice but to start hiking. It didn’t take long until we met up with my friend Ben, his father, and his niece and nephew, who are under 6 years old (I think/I can’t remember). Once we reached Blanca Lake, we were met with Tessa and Piotr and Beth and two of her friends. In total, their were about 16 people who joined in the fun.

At the lake, we spent some time laughing amongst ourselves and OF COURSE, took a dip in the beautiful chilly lake. Kate and I spent some extra time at the lake because Ben brought a raft to take his niece and nephew out on the lake and offered us to take a spin. Couldn’t pass it up.

Talk about a great birthday with great friends!

Daddy-Daughter Adventure #3

If you would have asked me that when I agreed to go on the back of my dad’s Harley Davidson cycle, we’d continue that tradition, I probably would have laughed. I never thought that we’d be blessed with opportunity after opportunity to spend quality time together. This adventure however kept me at home as my dad decided that since mom was in Nashville, TN, he’d venture to the PNW to visit me! It was a quick weekend but it was packed full of fun and adventure.

It started with a jog around my favorite location, Green Lake, which is also where I spend majority of my time with my running group, Seattle Green Lake Running Group. We didn’t go very far because as a spontaneous purchase, my dad and I decided to run the Rock-n-Roll Seattle Half Marathon. We weren’t alone in our short jaunt. My roommate had one of his good friends from college in for the RnR Seattle, though he was running to win it, and he decided to come join us. There was a “HUGE” pace differences: my dad and I were closing in at 10:30 minute miles; he was at like 5:10 minute miles (or some crazy fast pace). You can imagine our faces when moments after we arrive he took off like a deer. My dad and I just started laughing because in less than 10 steps we couldn’t even see him. After our run, we grabbed some breakfast and coffee before heading home to get ready.

I knew Friday was going to be our one main day to spend in and around downtown but it was also our only chance to pick up our race packets. So that’s exactly what we did. I don’t drive into downtown because, well, driving a manual into the hilly center of Seattle is not a fun or easy combination. My dad didn’t mind taking the metro system and walking a little. We walked near the stadiums, took a few selfies with my new selfie stick (laughing while doing so), and wandered around the Expo enjoying the loves of runners.

After the expo, we headed through Pioneer Square, which was a first for him, and enjoyed a “Pre-Race” beverage at the Oldest Saloon, “The Central”. From there, it was to Pike’s Market Place for another selfie, then up towards Capitol Hill to the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, a first for the both of us.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room opened in January 2015, located 9 blocks from the original Starbucks, and is a place for people to come and enjoy/taste/learn about unique blends of coffee.  Starbuck Reserve are rare and exotic micro live coffees that are unique to this location. I really had no idea what to expect, but I did learn that this roastery is responsible for roasting all of the Reserve label beans sold in all Starbucks. My dad and I did get to try two of the reserve labels, which in his words “the most expensive cup of coffee” and yes, he would be correct. This isn’t for the cheap at heart person, but it does offer a unique experience. We headed home for an early night after our tasting, but it wasn’t over yet.

A few days prior to my dad arriving, I received a WhatsApp message from my high school friend Blaine, who was going to be in town this same weekend and on a spur of a moment, decided he wanted to run the RnR Seattle Half Marathon too. So, after he landed at SeaTac, he taxied to my place to join myself, my dad, my roommate, and my roommate’s friend. Talk about a house full of runners.

We were able to catch some ZZZ’s before waking up and beginning our race day prep. This half marathon took me on a different training plan, which included adjusting my nutritional aspect to add a few supplements and this morning was nothing different. Luckily, my dad is the one helping me with my supplement/nutritional changes and so our mornings are fairly similar.

We made it to the meet up location for the SGLRG RnR crew for our typical race day photo before heading to the start line. I was pretty excited as this would be Blaine’s first official half marathon and my dad’s first big adventure through Seattle. My dad and I had a plan to run the first 5 miles at 9:30 pace then change to a 3 min. run/1 min. walk. However, at mile 5, I was feeling great and my dad told me to rock it. Which I did. I PR’d by 6 minutes finishing at 2hr 13minutes, a 10:13 minute mile pace. I was so extremely happy with this finish time and proud of my dad who didn’t finish to far behind me (2hr 27 minutes). Blaine finished at 1:54, my roommate came in at a 1:35, and his friend Roosevelt rocked it with a second place finish at 1:09. Do you know what it feels like to be standing at the start line knowing someone who is half way done before you even start? Let’s just say it provided some early morning laughter for my dad and I.

After the race and after-race party, we headed home to shower and re-get ready for another afternoon on the town before the Sounders game. I mean my dad couldn’t come to Seattle without experience a Sounders game. Blaine and Roosevelt joined us for a Ballard experience (one of my personal favorite). We enjoyed some good brews, good food and good company. Blaine parted ways with us as we head back to Pioneer Square for the ECS March to the Match experience.

One of my favorite parts of traveling with my dad is watching his face during new experiences. This was one of them. Between him and Roosevelt’s facial expressions, I was quite entertained. I think the biggest shock for my dad was the amount of people and the fact that we STOOD the ENTIRE game. We won 3-0 and the night still wasn’t over. It was time for dinner and we headed to another neighborhood close to home for some pizza and ice cream.

We crashed that night and woke the next morning a little stiff but ready for another adventure. We headed north to Mt. Vernon, joined by Roosevelt, where we were blessed with the chance to meet up with our Mexico/Canadian friends and spent the morning catching up. Instead of heading directly back to Seattle, we took a road trip detour to Lake Stevens. Reason is because this is the place of the Lake Stevens Half Ironman hosted in August of each year. I’m trying to convince my dad and his tri-group to race it. Another new place checked off for my dad and I together.

The night was less busy. We spent it relaxing, BBQ’ing, and enjoying each other’s company. It was a semi early night for both my dad and I, as he was jetting back home dark and early (like 3AM). I was absolutely blessed to be able to spend this weekend with not only my dad for our #3 adventure, but with my friend Blaine, and new friend Roosevelt. These are the moments in my life I cherish and love. AND my dad is already registered for next year’s RnR half marathon. Maybe I can convince my brother, sister, and mom to join in :-).

Stay tuned for my next mapless adventures.

Day Trip to Vancouver, Canada

Christmas came and went this year and although I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my family, it still was very heartbreaking being so far away. Because of this, my friend Krista and I decided that we needed to get away and what better way than to road trip north to Vancouver, BC, Canada! If you recall I visited Canada for the first time back in February (first canadian adventure) and ever since then I have been DYING to back. When I realized I’d have a free weekend (the last of 2013), I knew exactly where I needed to go. I am lucky enough to have a friend who is as crazy as me for a ROAD TRIP!

We left really early Saturday morning and made it from Seattle to Vancouver, BC in under 3.5 hours and that included the 30+ minute wait at the border. Once we crossed the border, both Krista and I felt like children at Disney Land. There is something euphoric about entering another country and going off the grid even if it’s only a few hour drive.

We made it to Vancouver, found a location to park Misty for the day and headed out towards the city with a stop for some caffeine. Yes, the first thing we did in Vancouver was make a pit stop at a coffee shop! Can you blame us, we did just sit 3.5 hours in a car jamming to music! Now give you a little over view of the events to come next…the night before Krista and I watched the movie Elf and Krista has always wanted to pull an ELF adventure day. So what came next was the start of an ELF IN VANCOUVER. As we were walking towards the main downtown street, my crazy friend walked into a coffee shop and said the exact same lines from Elf and a few people stared, some clapped, but mostly people didn’t really know how to react. Then we found a round-a-bout door, which she proceeded to go round and round as I laugh with her. It was quite awesome.

After that, we had to make a decision > to go to the suspension bridge to see the lights/biggest Christmas tree or head to Granville Island for some mischievous adventure. Can you guess which one we choose? If you guessed taking the aquabus to Granville Island, you’d be correct. I have been to the island before and knew of some fun places that we could visit. We started with lunch at the market and did some wandering around trying some new fruits and mostly people watching! After the market, we started our tour de Granville at Artisan Saki Maker for some delicious saki. Then off to The Liberty Distillery for a bit of vodka tasting (my favorite and a first for me) before ending our tour our the Granville Brewery!

One of Krista’s “must do” for our road trip, was meeting ‘true’ Canadians and leave it to this girl to make friends with one of the servers at the brewery, who bravely joined us for a bit of nighttime fun. Unfortunately, our trip didn’t end on a high note as Krista lost her phone, however this trip was still one to remember for years to come.  I’m glad I was able to spend my spontaneous international day trip/road trip with someone so dear to my heart. I sometimes forget how lucky I am and how wonderful of people I have in my life. This trip was the perfect way to end 2013! Check out our day in pictures HERE!