Tag: Nature

Falling for Colorado

The mountains were calling and I had to go! The last time I traveled to Colorado happened to be eighteen years ago and it was my first time on a plane. I went (solo) to meet my mom after she finished a business trip and that vacation gave me the travel bug that hasn’t quit. Was it the dude ranch? Late night ghost stories? The fresh mountain air? I loved it all and was excited to get back one day.

Foliage peeking out at Bear Lake

Fast forward eighteen years to this past Fall and it was time to get back out West and enjoy a girls trip to the Rockies. Conveniently, the trip was planned around a concert at Red Rocks – what better excuse to travel? Red Rocks had been a bucket list venue for me for a long time. It didn’t disappoint!

After we landed we started our pilgrimage to Estes Park with a pit stop in Boulder for lunch and shopping. If you’re just passing through or staying in town, make sure you visit T/ACO Colorado – the margaritas are strong and the tacos are delicious! All of the tacos are under $5 and my favorites were the ahi, mushroom and pork belly. Ole! When we drove back to Denver later in the trip we went back through Boulder again and hit Falafel King for lunch. So many delicious side dishes to pick from and outdoor seating perfect for people watching on Pearl Street while you eat.

The Colorado Jay looking bright and beautiful

The drive through the mountains to get to our Airbnb in Estes Park was beautiful, nothing quite like that first view of the snow capped Rockies! The next couple of days were spent enjoying Rocky Mountain National Park and everything it had to offer: hiking, foliage, wildlife….and perfect astrophotography conditions! If you’re looking for an easy trail, I would highly recommend a stroll around Bear Lake, there is a new view of the lake and foliage around every corner. We even spotted a painter capturing a Fall vista. After that we went up to Alberta Falls where we got our hearts rates up and met some friends along the way.

I don’t think I could pick a better spot to paint

I secretly planned our trip dates around a new moon knowing RMNP is a perfect place to capture some great photos of the night sky. If you’re headed to the Estes Park area and are looking for an energetic, fun guide for a sunrise hike or astrophotography adventure look no further than Chelsea (@thehikingmermaid). She took a group of us around the park after hours and shared some of her favorite spots to shoot the stars.

A clear, starry night in RMNP

After our adventures in RMNP, we spent the rest of our time in Denver window shopping, enjoying some good food and drink and a concert at Red Rocks. Pro tip: use the round trip CID Shuttle from downtown Denver! Convenient and you can let loose during a show instead of worrying about driving back late. They pick up and drop off at the Thirsty Lion Gastropub – perfect for some pre-show drinks and appetizers. Some other good stops were breakfast at Snooze near Union Station and Tupelo Honey for drinks.

Look upnow look downUp is endless, down has an ending. Always look up.– Mod Sun

Colorado, I’ll be back! I think a road trip to chase those golden aspens at their peak is in the cards.

Puffins and Flowers in Boothbay Harbor

It had been on my bucket list for a while to see Atlantic Puffins off the coast of Maine. Last summer I headed out to Eastern Egg Rock Island with Cap’n Fish’s Cruises out of Boothbay Harbor with my fingers crossed for a good sighting. We lucked out and saw a handful of puffins and even got some good views of them fishing and flying around.

Did you know Atlantic Puffins are only around 1 foot tall?

Of course, seeing them from so far away left me wanting more and I’m excited to head up to Cutler, Maine with Captain Andy and Bold Coast Charter Company to get a closer look this summer on Machias Seal Island. These tours are already booked for the whole 2019 season – more to come after that adventure!

After the cruise was over, we made a quick stop at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Even though it was nearing to closing time and we had a long drive home, it was worth the stop to see what was in bloom and get some ideas for a future trip. ‘Til next time, Maine!

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Meeting Pele, Goddess of Fire

When planning my honeymoon to Hawaii I knew seeing lava flows in person would be a once in a lifetime experience I had to have. In my research I came across Lava Ocean Tours based in Hilo who offers boat tours off the coast of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see lava flowing into the ocean from Kilauea volcano. Initially I had sticker shock, but in the end it was entirely worth the cost.

Although there were plenty of warnings leading up to the trip, I did not truly believe I would get that wet. Boy did I regret not bringing an extra set of clothes! The waters were pretty rough heading out to see the lava and Captain Shane warned us of big swells ahead. Fast forward ten minutes and huge waves were coming into the boat and we were soaked from head to toe. I tucked my camera in my rain jacket and prayed that when we got to the lava that it would still turn on. Spoiler alert: it did! If you’re planning to enjoy a lava boat tour, I’d recommend packing a spare change of clothes and a dry bag!

As we approached I smelled the lava before I saw it (maybe because I was still wiping water out of my eyes?), but when I did see it my jaw dropped to the floor of the boat. The crew made sure that everyone on board had a great view of the lava flows and they rotated the boat around a few times to get different perspectives. Witnessing nature’s ultimate hot tub was amazing as lava poured into the Pacific.

Captain Shane made sure to share the history of Pele, goddess of fire, while we enjoyed viewing the lava. As she swallows up the earth with her force she is also creating new land and redefining the Hawaiian coastline. Almost a year after we visited the Big Island, Kilauea erupted leading to entire towns being destroyed by Pele’s unpredictable power. This eruption lasted four months and recovery work to rebuild everything from roads to broken communities is still underway. Watching the new from afar made me appreciate both the chance to witness Pele and our safety on the boat tour. Our time was about more than just seeing lava, the power of nature is truly incredible and cannot be underestimated.

Mahalo, Pele, for a great experience.