Updates, Adventures, and Skydiving

Dang it!

I keep telling myself I’m going to start blogging on a more regular basis again, but I either a) get too busy b) get too lazy or c) totally forget!

So what’s been going on? Not a WHOLE lot, life has been awesome (minus a flat tire haha) and I’m savoring it!

I guess I owe an update on the homefront! 🙂

  • BIRTHDAY: I’m officially 23 as of Feb 12! 22 was an epic year, but I feel like 23 has a lot of potential to surpass it! Bring on the fun times!!
  • SCHOOL: Well, it was looking promising for the program I’d been pursuing at Universty of Arizona, but state program/project funding has put a damper on things. I’m not sure if they’ll get projects approved by this fall, so I’ve started applying to other schools and investigating new programs. I won’t get into details as of now, but it’s looking like BIG BIG AMAZING things could be happening…abroad.
  • WORK: Still loving my part time job at Vitamin Shoppe. I’m learning so much about vitamins and supplements, meeting new people, and laughing a ton with my awesome co-workers. It’s just a fun atmosphere to be a part of!
  • WEIGHTLIFTING/FITNESS: Since this fall may be chaotic, I decided to pursue one of my biggest dreams…I finally signed up for my first figure competition in May!! I’m working with my awesome coach from INOV8 elite performance whom I’ve been with for about 1.5 years and prep has begun. I’m so excited for this new journey and cannot wait to hit the stage! Now to keep practicing walking in my heels haha
  • BUCKET LIST: For my 23rd b-day, my parents surprised me with an indoor skydiving experience!! It was SO fun checking that off the bucket list!! And in March, I’ll be checking off another big dream item — attending the Arnold Expo in Ohio!! BEYOND excited for that!!

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Well that’s about it, not a whole lot of stuff, but exciting things are brewing! I’m just stoked to see what 2015 holds, it’s gonna be an awesome year!! 😀

Thanks again to anyone still reading! Be on the lookout for a long overdue Wanderlust Wednesday post! 🙂

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Life Updates

Whoa! Sorry for my random “fall-off-the-face-of-the-earth” absence; it’s been awhile since I’ve made a post here. I promise I’m still alive!!!

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Life has been fantastic. Busy but fantastic!

I feel like I owe anyone who’s still reading a few updates on the homefront:

WORK: I snagged a part time job at local Vitamin Shoppe and have been LOVING every millisecond of it. My co-workers/managers are awesome, I’m learning a ton about supplementation as well as interacting with people, and I feel so accepted among friends who share similar goals. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! God’s timing is truly perfect.

work face

SCHOOL: I’m still focusing on going to grad school next fall and have a phone interview next week with the professor I’ve been talking to for the past 6ish months. So excited to hear about the available projects he’s got lined up! 🙂 After taking time off from academics, I’m ready to get back to learning and being a fish geek haha!

HOLIDAY SEASON: Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming….ummmmm WHAT?! I’m in the biggest time warp in the history of ever. I’m just now getting used to the fact I have swap my shorts for pants when I go outdoors. It SNOWED here earlier this week. WTF TEXAS?!?! Also sorta started the Christmas shopping process, but I’ve been a major slacker haha

snow

VOLUNTEERING: There’s a cool wildlife refuge/museum near my neighborhood, so I signed up to volunteer with animal care and special events. I’ve only been able to go once due to my work schedule, but it was cool! I look forward to going when I get more down time.

GYM: Training has been AMAZING. I really feel like I’m becoming more in-tune with my RPE as well as my mind-muscle connection. My mental state is better than it’s been in eons and I couldn’t be more appreciative to my coach for helping work through negative thoughts that occasionally try to creep in my noggin. A lot of those thoughts stem from getting frustrated at myself since it’s been hard putting on weight (I mean heck I’m maintaining on 575g carbs a day). Celiac probably doesn’t help, but I officially have the metabolism of a 9 year old boy. By focusing on my overall progress rather than tiny snapshots from month to month, I’ve been able to keep a lot of negativity at bay. (Sorry for the picture of me in my skivvies). Just gotta keep eating hard, training hard, and resting hard to get to the stage *hopefully* at the end of next year.

progress

So that’s about it, nothing too crazy exciting. I wish I could say I got abducted by aliens or was a stunt double in a movie or something haha! I’m just eager to get back on the Wanderlust Wednesday train 🙂 I still have some hikes to recap from Arizona, so be on the lookout for new posts soon!

Thanks to anyone who’s still reading! Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂

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Wanderlust Wednesday: La Luz Trail, Albuquerque NM 2014

The La Luz Trail

Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico

September 2014

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Earlier this month, my dad and I took a road trip through the Southwest on our way to visit my grandma in the Phoenix area. En route, we hiked, camped, checked things off our bucket lists, and explored like never before! So, for the next few Wanderlust Wednesdays, I’ll be recapping the highlights of the trip in detail.

First up, the La Luz trail in the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico.

I’d read about the La Luz in some travel books at the library, and knew it was a must while we were in Albuquerque.

Here are some facts about the hike:

  • Located on the west face of the Sandia Mountains.
  • Sandia Peak Tramway can take hikers down or up with one way tickets.
  •  Very strenuous, with 3,775 ft (1,151 m) of elevation gain and a grade of 12%.
  • Awesome views of animals, granite cliffs, and plants, as well as scenic views of Albuquerque, cinder cones of the Albuquerque volcanoes, and Mt. Taylor.
  • Trail is home to an annual trail run, so runners appear often.

We decided to take the tram up to the peak, hike to Kiwanis Cabin, and then hit up the La Luz and hike down. The Sandia Peak Tram is actually North America’s longest aerial tram!! It took us over deep canyons and gorgeous scenery. Note to self: next time, work on my derp face for elevation pictures.

Sandia Tram Sandia Tram

Once our feet were back on solid ground, our Texas lungs needed some adjusting to the 10,000+ ft elevation. We were glad for the beautiful, clear weather, though. Onward we ventured to Kiwanis cabin!

The cabin, planned by a local Kiwanis chapter, was made in the 1930s of local limestone. You can see it on the cliff edge during the tram ride. My dad is a member of the Kiwanis club in my home town, so we had to check it out! To get there, we had to take the short Crest Spur trail  which is about 1.5-2 miles long. It took us near some steep drop offs and a gorgeous meadow. Tons of grasshoppers were out in force, too!

3-Crest Trail 4-Crest Trail

Next thing I knew, we were on a barren cliff edge overlooking Albuquerque. The cabin itself reminded me of ancient Greece. It was so magnificent looking out of its windows at the valley below.

5-Kiwanis Cabin 6-Kiwanis Cabin 7-Kiwanis Cabin Hike

After taking pictures, we found the trailhead for the 8 mile La Luz and began our descent.

8-La Luz

There were a lot of large boulders and rocks blanketing parts of the trail, so you definitely had to watch your step at every switchback. For the most part, we stayed in the shaded forest, so the sun was deceivingly absent. The forest was filled with the sound of birds and we even saw a fuzzy caterpillar on the path. Don’t worry, we spared him 😀 There were also a lot of people running down…every time they’d pass us, my calves would cry just thinking about being in their shoes. Talk about beast mode!

9-La Luz 10-La Luz

 When we got out of the treeline and into flat desert, the sun unleashed its wrath. By that time, we were tired and eager to see the tram station/parking lot. Falling victim to the sun’s tricks, I hadn’t been drinking a lot of water during the latter part of the day. The dry, cool air paired with the shade of the trees messed with my thirst levels. Boy, I felt it in the desert. Hardcore. The only thing that kept me going was picturing a giant bottle of cold Ozarka at a gas station haha

11-La Luz 12-La Luz

Despite the heat wave, we made it down to the trailhead in one sunburned piece! It was an awesome hike, one I’d highly recommend. Although strenuous, the variety of different plants, rocks and animals kept it exciting. In all, we hiked about 10 miles that day and had a blast! Definitely a cool way to experience Albuquerque!

13-La Luz

Card Memory Booklet

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a paper hoarder.

Recently, I was going through my dresser and found jillions of birthday, Easter, Halloween, you name it cards! Most of them came from my mom–while I was in college, she frequently sent me little “just because” cards and they always brought a smile to my face. I saved every one of them and they hold a big piece of my heart! 🙂

I wanted a way to display them, rather than having them stuffed in a drawer, never seeing the light of day. To Pinterest!! 😀 There were lots of neat crafts for wedding cards like this one, but I decided to take my own spin on it and revamped an old three ring binder!

Card Booklet Materials

What You’ll Need:

  • Three ring binder
  • Hole punch
  • Paper
  • Stickers and markers
  • Cards
  • Tape

Steps:

  1. First decorate a cover sheet for your booklet. I had some stickers and sharpies laying around and went kookoo 😀
  2. Organize cards however you want– I put  mine into categories like holidays, birthdays, just because, etc
  3. Use a hole punch on your desired paper. I went with notebook paper for a simple look so I didn’t need my hole punch.
  4. Tape cards to the paper, front and back. Some of my cards were big so I could only fit one per page.
  5. Fill up your book with memories and enjoy! 🙂

Card Booklet

Wanderlust Wednesday: Estes Park, Colorado 2009

 Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park, Colorado

Summer 2009

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You’ve probably heard this a million times by now, but in high school, my parents took me on a college trip through Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. During our time in Colorado, we decided to explore and do some sightseeing after touring campuses. We were eventually delivered into the hands of Rocky Mountain National Park, specifically the town of Estes Park.

RMNP and Estes

It was pretty close to CSU, so while I was a student there for a semester, I dreamt about that town–hands down one of the prettiest pockets of the United States. I only revisited once while I was up there, but it forever has a place in my memory as one of the most splendiferous places! No words can truly describe the magnificence and beauty that place possesses, so  I’ll let the pictures do the talking! 🙂

Lakes Lakeside RMNP Landscapes Scenery Valley

The animal friends we met were pretty neat, too, especially the baby ducks haha! The pictured bull elk was strolling in someone’s driveway and was bigger than our car! And the chipmunk thought my dad had food in his hand, and enlisted every ounce of his bravery.

Baby Ducks Elk chipmunk

If you ever get the chance, you MUST check this place out! I want to return so badly to hike those mountains and feel the solitude of nature. It was just so unfathomably epic and stunning!

Mountains

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Appalachian Trail, Amicalola Falls, GA 2013

Appalachian Trail

Amicalola Falls, Georgia

March 2013

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Prior to swimming with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium, my family and I stayed at Amicalola Lodge in the Appalachian wilderness and did some hiking on the famed Appalachian Trail. Amicalola means “tumbling waters” in Cherokee–very appropriately named for the state park’s main waterfall feature.

The Lodge itself was magnificent! Here’s some info taken from the Lodge website (linked above):

Just a 90-minute drive from downtown Atlanta, the lodge is located on the top of the mountain in Amicalola Falls State Park, in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

The room we had was spacious and had a cool view of the rolling hills. It was awesome to watch the clouds and fog billow over the landscape every morning. It was also awesome because of the many trails that began and ended right at the lodge as well as the visitor’s center, where we met some animal friends. Perfect place for exploring!

Amicalola Lodge Morning Fog Visitor's Center Hiking Map

Onto the hikes!

Amicalola Falls Hike

A short, but intense hike from the base to the top of the Amicalola Falls was the first hike to be conquered by my dad and I.

Here are some quick stats:

  • Great views of the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River (729 feet)
  • Strenuous, vertical climb 
  • 600 steps
  • Leads into the Appalachian Approach trail

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Stairs Appalachian Approach

After hearing the hotel staff’s high praise for the hike, my dad and I decided to conquer it the afternoon we arrived, despite the cold, rainy weather. Thinking it’d be easy, we started out with gusto, but man, our legs were on fire near the end! Ultimate star-master!! We had to take multiple breaks to catch our breath, but it was okay because it was an excuse to take pictures 😉 It was a really unique hike, definitely one I’d recommend!

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Len Foote Hike Inn Trail

The next day, we set out to conquer the majority of the smaller 1/2-1 mile trails around the Lodge as well as the longest local hike to Len Foote Hike Inn.

Here are some stats about the Len Foote hike:

  • 5.5 miles
  • Moderate hike with gradual slopes
  • Ends at the Len Foote Hike Inn– a place where you can spend the night, eat, and have hot showers

Len Foote Hike Inn

It was a little disappointing compared to some of the other hikes we’ve experienced. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife besides squirrels, and the dense trees made it hard to see any views of the hills, but there were still pockets of beauty! The highlight was definitely reaching the Hike Inn. Nestled in the woods and only accessed via trails, it was so serene and calm. When we arrived, we were chilled to the bone from the cold rain, and they had a cafeteria and hot drinks available for hikers and residents. That cup of black tea was one of the best I’ve ever had! 😀

After talking to some of the cooks, watching some frogs in a pond and spying on birds singing at a feeder,  we hit the trail to get back to the Lodge.

We also explored the multitude of other tiny trails that day, including the fitness trail outside of the Lodge that had about 20 stations where you stop and perform an exercise like pullups or pushups etc. So neat!

Park sign

Although it was a fun experience, I think I’m a bigger fan of western U.S. landscape. Don’t get me wrong, the Appalachians possess a unique beauty of their own; the rolling hills and dense forest. I guess I’m just a fan of snow capped, bare mountain peaks! 🙂

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: New York City 2012

New York City at Christmas

December 2012

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Since tomorrow marks the 13th anniversary of 9/11, I thought I’d post a special Wanderlust Wednesday that features the memorial dedicated to the heroes, victims, and witnesses on that tragic day. I’ll never forget sitting in my 4th grade classroom, hearing my teacher tell us something terrible happened in New York. My dad did a lot of traveling for work back then, and I prayed he wasn’t on one of the planes or in the World Trade Center. The feeling of helplessness and fear was overwhelming. Although a horrendous tragedy, I feel our country truly became the “United” States as we came together to support the victim’s families and the city of New York. Visiting the memorial brought back so many memories and left me speechless; truly a beautiful commemoration to those amazing souls. So tomorrow, I encourage you to take a moment of silence on behalf of those that lost their lives. May their souls feel the love and respect we’re sending their way.

I guess I should give a little background to this trip before I dive into the pictures. Every year, my dad’s work has a Christmas party in New York City. In 2012, I finished finals early, so I was able to accompany them to the big apple! We’d visited when I was about 8 and saw the Statue of Liberty, China Town, the Empire state building, Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, all that stuff, but I’d never seen the city during one of the busiest times of year. It was quite an experience and I was able to knock some things off of my bucket list while I was there! 😀

Short on time, but not short on fun, we packed a lot of adventure into two days!

Taking a stroll around Central Park and meeting Balto…

Central Park

Catching Lion King on Broadway (SPECTACULAR SHOW!!)…

Lion King on Broadway

Browsing FAO Schwartz toy store and walking around Times Square…

Times Square

Eating at PB&Co and having the greatest peanut butter pickle sandwich of my ENTIRE LIFE. This was pre-celiac, but I definitely got glutened. IT WAS WORTH EVERY BITE haha

PB&Co

Seeing the 9/11 memorial, Survivor Tree, murals and Freedom Tower being built…

911 memorial Survivor Tree and Freedom Tower

And finally, seeing the beautifully lit tree at Rockefeller center! It was jammed, but so worth it!!

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While I’m not a big city kind of person, New York is definitely a cool place to visit! There’s never a dull moment in the concrete jungle! 😀