ARIZONA TO MONTANA WITH IKAMPER

 

This summer, my friends and I decided to take a road trip and set off to explore six different national parks in two weeks. Our 200+ hours on the road meant listening to tons of podcasts, eating too many hot dog + mac n cheese dinners, and lots of naps in my new iKamper

With all the beautiful hikes and long drives we took throughout this trip, it was so nice being able to pull in to any campsite, set up our tent (within literal seconds) and get a nice looong, comfy rest before heading out again.

 

ZION + BRYCE NATIONAL PARK

You can't do a National Park road trip without hitting Utah. It's illegal, I think.

I always love coming back here. There's magic in these giant orange mountains and I like to think that visiting once a year is good for the soul.

We arrived at Zion early that morning and made our way to Angel's Landing. Seems like every time I come back here, I'm introducing this place to new eyes and I love kicking off the day with this hike. I love seeing the terrified looks on people's faces when they first see the trail of people scaling the side of the mountain with only a chain to hang on to. 

We hiked up to the top, ate some snacks (while Marissa and Neco chased away the squirrels) (I hate squirrels) (they carry the plague), and headed back.

After climbing back down, we drove out and spent the afternoon watching sunset at Bryce Canyon and found a nice campground just outside the park to set up our tent and rest for the night.

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GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

After our day in Utah, we headed north for Montana to find Glacier National Park.

Unfortunately, the snow kept us from getting too far in, but we had a blast seeing what we could. We walked around by the lake, found some incredible viewpoints, and took tons of dumb photos in between.

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LEWIS + CLARK STATE PARK

We only drove through here to get from Glacier to Yellowstone, but wow we couldn't leave without pulling over to explore for while because of how beautiful this place was.

We drove for miles alongside the river, and the entire road was lined the tallest, greenest trees that were half hidden from the fog. Rain gently tapped the top of our iKamper as we listened to all of our favorite rainy day playlists and drove through the park in pure bliss.

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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

wow wow wow wow wow

Yellowstone has some of the prettiest color palettes I've ever seen. Bright yellow wildflowers, turquoise waters, neon orange sands and miles and miles of green to top it all off.

We spent the day exploring different geysers, hot springs, lakes, and even drove past some bears playing in the snow.

We were able to catch Old Faithful just before sunset, and afterwards we found a last minute campground where the ranger put us in a spot where they had just seen a bear wandering two hours before... it's fine, we're fine.

 

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GRAND TETONS NATIONAL PARK

One of the most underrated national parks out there.

You could see these mountains miles before you even entered the park. We stopped way too many times to take the same photo over and over again.

This is a popular park for all the avid hikers out there. Luckily, the snow was melted enough for us to hike to Hidden Falls. This hike started with a nice walk through the forest, but after a short climb we came out to the side of the mountain where we got to hike with a lakeside view for a while. After that, we hiked back down the other side of the mountain through some snow that eventually led us to one of the biggest, prettiest waterfalls I've ever seen. Marissa and I screamed about this for a couple of minutes while Neco just stared from a distance, and when we finally calmed down, we cheers'd our hike with some applesauce pouches and made our way back.

Fun fact: A random French guy named these the Grand Tetons because the mountains looked like boobs. Marissa really enjoyed that fact.

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I loved having my iKamper with me on this trip. It is so much easier to set up than a tent, considering it basically sets itself up. It also fit the three of us so perfectly, and was so comfortable to sleep in. It helped save us some room in our trunk (which means more room for snacks) and I hardly felt a difference driving with it on top of the car. The iKamper made it insanely easy to pull over whenever + wherever we needed to, plus it just looks so freakin' cute on top of my car.

As Lizzie McGuire once said, (hey now, hey now) this is what dreams are made of.

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TWO WEEKS IN EUROPE

 

Fourteen days. Five countries. Entirely not enough sleep in between.


BLUE LAGOON, ICELAND

Our 16 hour layover left us just enough time for a quick dip at the Blue Lagoon. Perfect therapy after a long day of travel.

We took our sweet time floating around with clay on our faces and champagne in our hands (well, cider for me) before we took our $90 ride back to the airport.

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STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Stockholm took me by surprise.

It was just another random layover to add to the list, and we were completely unprepared on what to do.

We were wildly impressed with the architecture in this city. We found so many clusters of colorful buildings with lines of tiny cafes underneath. While walking along the river, we found tons of incredible cathedrals and even stumbled across a modern art museum that had an amazing collection of photography. 

After a long day of exploring, we tried to find some authentic Swedish food. But after being greeted by a bunch of snooty people at fancy restaurants, we found ourselves in an American bar and made friends with our waiter, SImon, who was thrilled to try out all of his "kick-ass" American phrases on us.

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MUNICH, GERMANY + NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Coming to Munich was the entire reason we planned this Europe trip. We've been dying to go to Oktoberfest.

Unfortunately, we got here two days too late. Apparently Oktoberfest doesn't happen in October??!? But that's okay, we had a good laugh about it while we sat in a biergarten having a few beers and brats void of the crazy crowds.

We spent the rest of our evening huddled up in the corner of our hostel bar, drinking ciders and watching Netflix while a group of guys unsuccessfully tried convincing us to go to the club with them. Leave this cute bar where I can sit and comfortably watch Netflix in a corner? It's a no from me.

The next day, we took a train to the Neuschwanstein Castle. We hiked up the hill under cloudy skies, all the way up to the bridge where we caught the famous postcard view of the castle, nestled above the trees. We may have missed our timing with Oktoberfest, but our visit here was perfect; just in time to see the leaves change colors. My favorite.

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PARIS, FRANCE

Ah, I can never get enough of this city.
Sometimes the streets smell of urine, sometimes of chocolate croissants, sometimes both. It's the best.

On our first night, we were able to catch a Hippo Campus show (my fucking favorite band ever) and because they were performing in a city where they are still a little unknown, we had front row seaTS BABY. One of my favorite HC shows yet. There's something really special about the way I can't understand these Parisians in conversation but we can sing every word together at a show. Music is universal, man.

It was Natalie's first time in the city and I loved getting to see her experience this place for the first time. We played tourist for the day - we wandered the Montmartre district, ate candy by the Eiffel Tower, took selfies with Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and saw the Notre Dame. We ended our day by sitting on the rooftop bar at our hostel, drinking ciders (again), wondering how the hell we got this lucky in life. We took our time up there, enjoying the weather and writing postcards to our loved ones back home. I wish they could all be here.

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DUBLIN + HOWTH, IRELAND

We really saved the best for last, and we didn't even know it.

First stop: Temple Bar. One of the top tourist spots in Dublin, a title well deserved. We sat inside while the live band played a few familiar songs, and had some bloody mary oyster shots and ordered a few sandwiches that were damn good. We loved it so much we came back a second time.

On our second day, we boarded a bus that took us out to the Cliffs of Moher.
On the way, we stopped at a gas station entirely dedicated to Obama. Turns out, the Irish love the Obamas as much as I do.

When we finally got to the cliffs, we were instantly greeted with heavy winds. We walked along the trail, struggling to maintain our balance against every gust that threw us back. The wind was so strong it literally broke the pringle in my hand and flew it off the cliff (tragic). Regardless, we freakin' loved every minute here. Our hair cannot say the same.

On our last day, we took a taxi out to Howth and took a hike along the Irish hillside. We were led by the sweetest guide, who took us through all of the ancient Irish faerielands and told us everything he knew about the different faeries who lived there. The perfect end to our trip.

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WATCH NATALIE'S VIDEO OF OUR TRIP HERE:

 

WASHINGTON NATIONAL PARKS

 

This was my first big solo trip in a while. Admittedly, it was weird not having Sydney by my side (hi miss u). Luckily, Dillon came to the North Cascades with me so I didn’t have to spend the whole time alone.

I have to admit though, I actually really love taking these trips by myself. Truly the best thing I’ve learned in 23 years is how to not be afraid of being on my own. I thrive on independence, and there’s a lot of self-learning and self-loving on these adventures that you can’t experience with anyone but yourself.


olympic national park

I am overwhelmed by the amount of green.

This place is much more diverse than I expected, there are so many different landscapes.
I went to three separate areas, and every one was so different than the one before.

I first drove up to the Hurricane Ridge Overlook. The entire trail was lined with huge fields of purple wildflowers, and there were tons of deer roaming the area.

Rialto Beach was one of my favorite spots, it reminds me of Cannon Beach in Oregon - like in a gloomy, but still makes you really happy kinda way. On the way here, I drove past the tiny town of La Push, still proudly displaying Twilight posters on all of their windows. No werewolves, though.

On my last day, I walked through the Hoh Rainforest. Moss and humidity thrive here and Eunice from Arizona does not (I still loved it though).

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mount rainier national park

Somewhere in Washington, there's a little place where two polar opposite seasons happily coexist. On one side, you'll find a huge pile of snow while fields of wildflowers thrive just two feet away. There are also lots of pretty viewpoints here. My favorite kind, where mountains overlap each other, each their own unique shade of blue.

Here, the moon comes up before the sun is even ready to set, and these days, the sun has been going down at 9:30 (???).
Less time for sleep, but I can't complain about longer days. Not in a place like this.

During one of my sunrise drives, I came across a tiny family of foxes. I drove up right next to them, they didn't even flinch. They let me snap a few photos of them before running back into the forest and going about their day.

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north cascades national park

Picked up Dillon in Seattle and drove out to North Cascades for a day.

We spent some time taking photos of the giant rock formations at Washington Pass Overlook, then drove back down the mountain to catch sunset at Diablo Lake. A short and sweet trip topped with a quick McDonald's stop and a night in a sketchy motel. My kinda party.

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WATCH THE VIDEO FROM MY TRIP HERE:

 

JOSHUA TREE + PALM SPRINGS

 

I finally made it out to Joshua Tree this year. In fact, I loved it so much, I went two more times after that.

I love this weird little alien town so much. Joshua Tree has a landscape unique to anywhere else in the world. You'll find strange looking trees next to giant mountains of boulders, and if you drive a little extra, you can even find an entire field of chollas (watch your toes).

If you ever find yourself here, treat yourself to a night in one of JT's unique airBNB's - this town has so many good ones. We stayed at the Joshua Tree House and Joshua Tree Acres. Both are so carefully decorated to match the western, vintage feel of the town and both had tons of old records for us to play and dance to. 

The Joshua Tree Acres was my favorite of the two. It's a little neighborhood of three different airstreams, with a cozy clubhouse in the center for visitors to share and meet new friends. We had so much fun hanging out by the fire, swinging in the hammocks, and drinking wine together.

If you have a few extra hours to kill, make sure you stop by Palm Springs and walk around the Moorten Botanical Gardens + their cactarium. It's run by the sweetest man, who told us stories about the time he met Frank Lloyd Wright, the time his family helped plant all the cacti in Disneyland, and the time Drew Barrymore came in to buy some plants.

p.s. will someone please tell Natalie to stop following me

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NEW ZEALAND

 

One great Cyber Monday deal and one impulsive decision later... we're in New Zealand!

Even after a 14 hour flight, we didn't spare a single minute. Our personal chauffer (one of Sydney's friends) (and now our friend) (hi Brydon) came to pick us up at the airport, and within an hour after we landed, we were already off on our road trip across the South Island. Luckily, Brydon offered to drive - otherwise, I wouldn't be alive to write this post.

We spent the first two hours freaking out over driving on the opposite side of the road.
We spent every hour after that saying "heaps of sheep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" every time we spotted them. Sorry Brydon.

We spent the next week cramped in a car together, and somehow didn't kill each other. We drove from place to place, learned to skip rocks at Lake Tekapo, walked around Milford Sound, bungee jumped in Queenstown (what!!), explored Christchurch, and Jess even got her glove stuck in her braces at one point.

Here are some fun terms we learned:
Kia Ora - hello
Petrol - gas
It's Alright - their way of saying "you're welcome" but makes you feel like you did something wrong
Flying Fox - like a zipline, but for kids
Heaps - a lot, usually associated with the number of sheep in this country
Keen - wanting to do something
Sweet As - still confused about this one tbh. sweet as what?

Thanks for the fun, New Zealand. I had a sweet as(s) time.

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HAWAII

 

It feels a little surreal that I even get to write about this. Hawaii always seemed like one of those places I’d visit much later on in life.

Back in November, I asked Natalie (half-jokingly*), asking if she’d want to go to Hawaii with me. 
*Half-jokingly, since I knew she’d be someone who might actually dare to say yes - and mean it. We booked our tickets the next day.

 

From the moment we arrived, you could immediately tell that Natalie and I were new to the island - frantically searching for wild coconuts, blasting “Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride” on our phones, giddy from the simple presence of green. 

This whole trip just felt like one big daydream. We spent our days climbing trees, paddling to different islands, running on piers, hiking mountains, and even swam with wild turtles. WILD TURTLES
We are so lucky to have had Heather as our host + tour guide. Our Hawaii experience would not have been the same without her. (Thank you, Heather - we are so, so thankful for you!)
 

This place was even more incredible than everyone described it to be. I've fallen head over heels with the easy, carefree lifestyle of this island, and I can’t fucking wait to come back. 

 

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BRYCE CANYON + CORAL PINK SAND DUNES

 

After visiting Bryce Canyon for the first time a few weeks ago, I could hardly wait to come back.

I'm so thankful for friends like Natalie and Shelby who say yes to even my most unplanned, most unorganized, and most last minute road trips. Even with less than a week's notice, they were still willing to come along on my crazy idea of going to two different state parks in less than 48 hours.

We drove out and caught the sunset at Bryce Canyon, Prius-camped in a church parking lot, and woke up early to see sunrise at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. We nearly froze in the car, Natalie got her Twitter hacked and forgot her backpack in a restaurant, and we scraped up our fingers trying to open our ciders without a bottle opener but it's one of the best and funniest trips I've ever had. Looking forward to many more trips with these two.

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CIBECUE FALLS

 

And just when I thought I’ve seen all the best things Arizona has to offer, it keeps coming back bigger + better to prove me wrong. 

A few weeks ago, Marissa had discovered a place called Cibeque Falls via Instagram, and knowing our love for waterfalls, we knew we had to go.
This adventure was particularly special to me, since it would probably be the last one I’d take with Marissa before she leaves me for DC (cries). Sydney and Brooke also came along, plus some other boys who don’t really matter (just kidding).

For those of you who are reading this and are planning to go find this gem for yourselves, make sure you bring a strong car. The last part of the road gets pretty rocky. You get to drive through the river for a bit, and I know my Prius 97% would have died during that experience (3% chance he could’ve made it… never doubt the Prius). 
 

At the beginning of the trail, you'll be hiking along the side of the river, but after a while, you’ll be crossing through it most of the time. The hike in itself is incredible. You’ll find yourself walking through the river inside the most quiet canyon, wandering underneath incredible rock formations, with the occasional pebble getting stuck in your toes. This place makes you feel things, people.

We got lucky with the prettiest overcast weather that kept us cool and also made for the best lighting (a photographer’s dream). Every single part of this 1.5 mile hike is overwhelmingly beautiful, so make sure you stop and take in the view every once in a while.

When you reach the end, you get treated with the most beautiful waterfall tucked in between the bright red canyons. It’ll surprise you too - you hardly hear it until you turn the corner and actually see it, which is surprising considering how strongly it flows. It started raining once we got there too, so the colors of the canyons against the water were only even more brilliant and incredible. 

 

Though it was raining on + off during our time at the waterfall, we didn’t question going in for a swim. How could you not? For a while, it even started pouring - luckily, there was a little cave that kept us from getting soaked, so we took the opportunity to rest our toes and shared a cup of Adam + Kevin’s famous mashed potato ramen (a packet of ramen mixed with mashed potatoes - it tastes better than it sounds). 

This was my favorite moment of the trip. Huddled together underneath the cave, with sounds of rainfall, thunder, and a pounding waterfall harmonizing together in the back. We were also plenty entertained by Marissa and Syd’s outrageous (and hilarious) complaining and screaming that we had to “leave right now or else we’ll be caught in a flash flood or get struck by thunder and die”. In the meanwhile, Chris taught me how to skip a rock.

Thankfully, the rain died down after a while, and we got to hike back under some light rain. 

 

Can’t tell you enough how lucky I am to have these friends of mine. The kind of friends who always say yes - no matter how early you wake them up, how far you make them drive, or how long the hike takes them to finish. Thanks for always being down for whatever, and making me laugh along the way. I love you awesome people.

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