Eaton Canyon Falls

3.6 mi

 

377 elevation gain

moderate

dog-friendly (leashed)

out and back

 

First of all, those of you who knew there was water AND trees down here (so-cal) and didn't tell me, shame on you. Secondly. Hello EATON CANYON FALLS! 

So, I've recently come to the conclusion that I am a pretty habitual person. As much as I like spontaneity and adventure, I also really like knowing what I'm getting into. It's not the first time I've come to this conclusion, but when a friend suggested we try hiking something new I popped onto AllTrails (if you like to hike and don't have this app, you need it, like.. yesterday) to look for a hike and realized how much I havent seen or explored. I think a big part of my love of routine is that I recognize new things are risky, and why be risky, especially close to home, when I know there are trails I already like? But hiking Eaton Canyon Falls today was a sweet reminder that risk is almost always worth it in one way or another. 

THE HIKE

1999 Veranada Ave, Pasadena, CA 91107
377 ft elevation gain
moderate
dog-friendly (leashed)
out and back

Eaton Canyon Trail starts right outside the big, free parking lot. It's about 3.6 miles out and back, with some really great mountain views and a 40 foot waterfall at the end. I put the location for this hike as Los Angeles, but technically I think it's considered Pasadena/Alta Dena. 

We showed up at 7:30am on a Sunday, right when the parking lot opened, and I was shocked to see how many people were there and ready to hike. I definitely thought we were going to be the only people there that early, come to find out this is a really popular and well known trail. So, be ready for lots of fellow casual hikers. I honestly can't imagine what the hike would be like at a more reasonable hour, but even as heavily trafficked as it was at 8am, I'd say it was definitely worth it. 

I slapped a moderate on this bad boy because there is a fair amount of traversing back and forth across the creek that comes down from the falls, but if you do any sort of physical activity I would say this trail could pass as easy. The hardest part for someone who knows how to hike would probably be keeping your shoes dry. It can get a bit hairy in some area's with boulder hopping, but I found the traversing to be a lot of fun on an otherwise easy hike. The scenery was beautiful; sometimes I forget that trees exist down here. 

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The trail itself is pretty straightforward. Follow the large groups of people. Kidding, sort of. The only real note I have is when you get to the bridge (which is pretty dang cool) look for the trail marker on the right side before you cross the bridge. My friend and I were talking and we totally missed it, climbed the big hill to the street and looked at each other super confused, like, was that it? where the crap is the waterfall? hah.. So, bridge. Keep your eyes open! 

While the hike isn't the most intensive the payoff is totally worth it, provided you go when there is water. The waterfall, which is actually pretty impressive, was a refreshing sight and the prince LOVED running through the clear water at the base of the falls. There were people sitting around, enjoying and snapping photos. We didn't stay long, but even now as I write this it feels kind of magical to know there are beautiful waterfalls hidden in the mountains just outside my routine. 

happy hiking, beauts
xx

 

 

Exploring The Black Mountains

The United Kingdom has long been a dream destination in my mind. My fascination started at a young age, rooted in my love of legend and lore. Stories like The Arthurian Tales sparked a hunger in me for whatever lay hidden in the silver fog; be it wisps, or druids. So you can imagine the deep delight in me when I had the opportunity to catch a train from London out to the mysterious land of Wales. 

Everything on this trip seemed to fall into place without my help. Previous to leaving for the UK I found out a friend of mine would be in wales during my time in Britain. It seemed only right that I would venture to meet her, and it felt fitting to be gearing up to explore the great land of wales with someone who, so long ago, inspired me through her role as a character in a great, sweeping, epic-fantasy tv show. 

After navigating the train from London to Wales, and being picked up at the station by a beautiful, and lovely stranger (a friend of my friends) we embarked on the journey back to her cottage where my friend awaited our arrival. The trip to her home was everything I could have dreamed. The fog was thick, and the land wet. We zipped along narrow roads in her jeep like vehicle. Her car smelled of Bella, her old sweet black haired dog who confidently claimed a spot on my lap (which I was grateful for on so many levels). The woman herself, Mary, was kind and talkative, making me feel welcome, safe and at home. 

It's funny to think back now about my experience with people, and how we are met. Mary, much my senior, in a beautiful way, oozed strength. She was grounded and wise in a way that words can't capture. Part of me believes it stems from the time she spends walking the ridges of the sweet valley she calls home. She seemed to have sapped up every bit of depth and texture the land could offer. It was from of that place that she impacted me during my stay. She made sure I was warm and fed and went out of her way to facilitate exploration. 

Even though I had come into the valley under the cover of night, I wasn't sure it could get any better. My heart was already so full. But it did. Waking up the next morning was something out of a dream. The room was warm, thanks to the old school wall heater, and soft light filtered in through the skylight above my bed. I padded downstairs and found both Mary and my friend awake, tea-filled, and ready to explore. It took me but a minute to layer myself down, and pull on my boots all the while gushing inside over the fact that this land was exactly what I had dreamed it would be. 

Both women laughed as I tried to contain my awe. They told me that they, neither of them, had ever seen the land like this (so covered in fog). I like to believe that God orchestrated it just for me.

Mary and Bella led the way down the muddy drive, past the sheep which my friend insisted on singing to, through the ancient graveyard thick with history to the outer reaches of The Black Mountains. Aside from a small farm we passed through, the transition from inhabited to wild land was nearly seamless. One moment we were on cobblestone and the next we were trudging through the forest which gave way to a vast and magical land. 

The breadth and scope of The Black Mountains would be hard to relay through words alone, so I will leave it to pictures. But, there is no denying the tangible magic of that place. I wandered in silence, yards behind my friends, soaking up the fulfillment of something I'd held in my heart for so long. 

Brand Love: Nalgene

It's exactly one month until the first day of summer, but of course, it's 95 degrees in Los Angeles. Y'all, I am so not ready for this. I'd honestly be cool if we just skipped summer this year and went straight to fall. Actually, wait. Let's pit stop at 4th of July—because #fireworks, obviously—and then fast forward straight through to Halloween. Who is with me? Great. I'm glad I'm not alone. It's too bad none of us are time travelers. 

If I slow down long enough, I sense a challenge in the approach of summer. I feel the pull to get outside, to make memories. Every year it rolls around, bringing with it a sweet nostalgia of long, warm evenings at the lake, laughing unrestrained to the backdrop of a bonfire and all things horses. Oh, to be carefree again! To toss our backpacks, water bottles and keys to the wayside; to climb high and confidently to the tallest parts of the tallest bridges and plunge fearlessly into the deep cool waters below. Ya...I guess summer isn't all that bad. 

I love these memories. It's neat to be able to look back on the things we thought were cool then, and see how some of them have carried over into today. And to know that there are brands that I still gravitate toward, even amidst the changing landscape of my life. Like Nalgene. 

Growing up, Nalgene was always the go-to water bottle brand for all my outdoor friends. It was well loved at the summer camp I worked at because of it's sturdy, scratch-resistant, heat-resistant nature (commercial dishwasher safe, biaaaaatch!) You could leave lemonade in it all day, in the heat, and you wouldn't end up with any unwanted odor or taste. Plus, there was the added bonus of all that free space to cover with stickers (which I may or may not still do today...judge me.)

But, then came the BPA scare. And into the trash went my beloved Nalgene. Or did I lose it while camping? I honestly can't remember. It's irrelevant though because the company is amazing and they quickly dropped the questionable plastic and replaced it with a BPA-free alternative. Which, from what I can tell so far, is just as awesome as before. My Nalgene has been dropped, thrown, kicked and hauled all over the world and it still fails to leak, crack or find itself irreparably damaged. 

These bottles are one of those products you'd find me being like, "Yo. You need this." Without question. In fact, I own a two already. Aaaaaaaand I may or may not have my eye on another one, in another sweet color. It's summer y'all and you know you're going to be out and about. So stay prepared, and stay hydrated...with Nalgene. 

#GOTEM

Honestly, they don't pay me enough for this. Just kidding. They don't pay me at all. But seriously, no one paid me for this. I guess technically I paid them, I bought my water bottles. Really, they're just that cool. Ha. Cool. Like keeping it cool...in summer. bah dun dun CH. Okay. I'm done. 

Oh! real quick, PROTIP: Get a splash guard. We all know how hard it is to drink from a wide mouth bottle, and now you don't have to be 'that guy'. These little silicone suckers fit right into your bottle opening and keep you from looking like a fool, splashing water all over yourself in public. You can thank me later. 
 
Love you guys, stay wild xx


 

It's Official: Travel Trumps Material Things

Becca Tapert

Becca Tapert

This just in: recent studies out of Cornel University conclude that travel makes—and keeps—us way happier than material possessions. 

I get it, our generation is all about instant gratification. Saving up to splurge on that thing you’ve had your eye on is a thing of the past, thank you credit cards. We want the feels and we want them now. We want to be relevant and up to date, but while we may get those fuzzy feelings of enjoyment and fulfillment from bringing home that ‘I just have to have it’, research suggests you may want to consider reallocating those funds. 

#travel

Head nod to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor over at Cornell University. This man has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades, and according to his findings one of the main impediments to happiness is adaptation. Meaning that just so soon as that thing ‘we just had to have’ becomes ordinary, the level of satisfaction we get from it fades. Which leads us to buying something else. And so on. It’s a nasty cycle. 

The good news is, research Dr. T has been conducting has a found an alternative to the nasty.

According to Professor T, we experience the same level of happiness when we buy something we want and when we travel. But, spoiler alert: travel trumps material things, and here is why. 

The amount of enjoyment we derive from the purchase of material possessions fades over time, whereas memories, experience and connection - all byproducts of travel - are a source of joy that stays with us for our entire lives. And if that wasn't enough, there's always all the other things you learn by heading out into the great unknown. 

So, do it. Get out there! Invest in your future. Build memories, find your moments. And do it knowing you'll have them for forever. 

xx

3 Podcasts For When You're On The Move

Whether traveling for work, for enjoyment or simply because I live in Los Angeles It's no secret that I spend more time on the road than off it. Growing up I was never a big fan of talk radio. In fact I can clearly remember giving my friend Jesse the judgemental side eye in high school, sighing dramatically as an unspoken request to change the channel when I got in the car and NPR was on. But things have changed. Now, I'm quite the fan of podcasts and audio books! 

Here are my recent go-to listens: 

 
 
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POD SAVE AMERICA
/  Politics

Real talk: this is my first year involved in politics and I absolutely love these guys. They provide an insider perspective, wish a dash of humor, aiming to activate change  (not just talk about it.)

Four former aides to President Obama — Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor — are joined by journalists, politicians, comedians, and activists for a freewheeling conversation about politics, the press and the challenges posed by the Trump presidency.

/ Find POD SAVE AMERICA on iTunes

 


S-Town
/  Investigative Journalism

I am addicted and endlessly fascinated by the people in this story. I devoured Serial a while back and was pleasantly surprised to find this series just as interesting, if not more so with all it's twists and turns. It's not as straightforward as Serial, and I love that. 

S-Town is a new podcast from Serial and This American Life, hosted by Brian Reed, about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks Brian to investigate the son of a wealthy family who's allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But when someone else ends up dead, the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life.

/ Find S.TOWN on iTunes


LifeAfter
/  Radio Drama 

I found this and thought, "why not, I'll give it a go" and then promptly binged the entire season. I wasn't sure how I would feel about the Radio Drama genre, but I loved it. I've since tried to find a series as good as Life After, but everything has fallen short. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

From GE Podcast Theater and Panoply, the producers of The Message, comes a new thriller, LifeAfter. The 10 episode series follows Ross, a low level employee at the FBI, who spends his days conversing online with his wife Charlie – who died eight months ago. But the technology behind this digital resurrection leads Ross down a dangerous path that threatens his job, his own life, and maybe even the world. New episodes every Sunday.

/ Find LIFE AFTER on iTunes

 

 

++ Got a podcast suggestion? Let me know in the comments! I'd love something new to listen to!

Traveling Companions: Reading On The Road

written by ashley rubell 


"We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from the effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting any immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition.” 

― Thomas MertonNo Man Is an Island

     When I’m traveling - whether internationally for work, across the country for the holidays, or upstate for fresh air - I always seek a break from fiction. Fiction can be so consuming. I consume fictional stories the same way most of my peers binge watch Netflix. But when I encounter a new physical environment, I always crave something that provokes a little soul searching. 

I yearn for that life altering reflection that brings forth new perspectiveand inspiration that will stay with me when I return to the mundane day-to-day idiosyncrasies of life back home. No matter where I go, my tendencies, my preferences, my tastes never change. In my opinion, the only thing I really have the capacity to change is the way I digest my days. I soak them up differently when I travel because my surroundings are unusual and uncomfortable. 

 
 

“Certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child, nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity. Intellectual” 

-Mary Oliver, Upstream

 

Perspective is an easy thing to forget about when you wake up on a Monday morning, returning to your desk job or walking to your local coffee shop again. When nothing in your day feels new, we forget this amazing power we’ve been gifted with - this ability to change what we have control of (which is so little) -shifting our perspective. No matter what our rhythms look like, each day is brand new. It has just as much potential at home on an ordinary day as it does when you wake up in an ocean front hut in Tahiti or in a secluded cabin in the woods or a five star resort in the mountains. When I’m traveling around, I desire thought provoking insights at every corner because the outlook is what engrains itself as a memory into my mind for years to come. 

 

“Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.” 

― Ralph Waldo EmersonSelf-Reliance and Other Essays

 

Here are my favorite authors and their insights - my travel companions - that have remained by my side in multiple chapters of life, in various places around the world. I hope they can influence your journey as well. 

  1. Upstream by Mary Oliver
  2. Works of Love by Kierkegaard
  3. Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  5. Essays in Love by Alain de Botton
  6. The Dignity of Difference by Jonathan Sacks
  7. No Man Is an Island by Thomas Merton
  8. The Naked Now by Richard Rohr 
  9. Tao Te Ching by Laozi 
  10. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


What stories or authors serve as your traveling companions? Share with us at #wildfolkreads

Travel Like a Champ in 2017

The New Year is upon us and what better way to gear up (literally) for your 2017 adventures than a couple of gear tips and travel tricks?

While there are a million different ways to travel, and you’ll to find your own, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned over the years.

In short, I like to keep it simple: give me a backpack, gear to document, a direction and I'm gone. So, if you’re anything like me - or looking to see things in a new way - give these tips a shot!

Disclaimer: I feel pretty lucky to be able to do what I do and while this is probably going to feel like an REI sponsored post (and believe me I wish it was, haha.. ) I promise I'm just a girl.. who loves her gear, yall. And I want you to love yours too!

If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.
-Cesare Pavese

PRO-TIP: click the headers for specifics on the gear I mentioned and where to buy!

GET THE RIGHT GEAR

The Backpack

Although there are a million options for travel bags, I'm partial to backpacks. Having gone through several different hiking backpacks over the years I'd say my biggest suggestion is to find one that has a front flap that allows you to access your things easily and efficiently. I've done the top load bags twice over and I confidently say it's no bueno.

The Day-pack

A good day pack is essential. I'm also of the mind to be prepared for anything so I need to be able to fit a book, my laptop, a journal, my wallet and chapstick comfortably (my Tumbuk2 bag fit all of that and my huge Polaroid camera comfortably!) I'm also a fan of the messenger style, zippers in to keep my things from prying fingers, and able to be tightened up if I’m moving fast or on a bike!

the bathroom bag

The thing I love most about my REI Shower Kit is that it has the large pack which can go in your checked bag, is hang-able and has a plethora of pouches AND a smaller bag which I like to use for my carry on bathroom items (under 3oz!): toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts, solution, tweezers, floss, lotion and anything else one might need to stay fresh on your flight.

The Packing Cube

Packing cubes are God’s gift to mankind. For those of you who can never find what you need, these will solve your problem. And for those of you who likes things to stay neat and tidy and in their proper place.. well, you’re welcome in advance. I have one for underwear and socks, one for jeans and one for shirts! easy peasy (and remember, “roll, roll, roll” - see right)

 

pack like a pro

Just The essentials

This is my favorite way to travel. Light and straightforward. I like to be able to pick up and change cities on a whim, or run through the train station to catch my connecting just in the nick of time (just kidding, no one likes that. at least not with luggage.) The point is if you can go with little, go with little. It'll change the way you see travel, and in turn the world.
Pro-Tip: consider mix and matching your outfits for maximum use.

roll, roll, roll

This is a travelers secret..or maybe not, but I like to think it is. When you are packing instead of folding your shirts and jeans and trying to fit them all, give rolling them a go! Fold them like normal and then from side to side roll them into a sausage shape. You’ll be surprised how much extra space you’ll have!

think ahead

This is crucial, especially if you are flying. Think about the things you are going to need/want access to while you are going through security, and when in your seat: your ID and passport; your book, your gum, your sweater, phone charger, laptop etc, make sure they are in a bag that stays on you (and under the seat)! 
Pro-Tip: Buy water in the airport. You're going to want this on your flight.

 

 

If you have any tips or tricks I'd love to hear them! Just drop a comment.

A Day in Brussels

 

My journey started in California on November 18th and wound me up in Brussels - one eleven hour flight and three hour train ride (via London) later - on November 19th.

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”
– Antoine de St. Exupery

One of the things I love most about Europe is the ease of accessibility. Once you are there it's a breeze to hope between countries, or travel great distance, quickly.

That to say, if you're within a country or two there is no reason you

shouldn't pack a small bag and pop over to this sweet city to explore for a day.

Brussels: a city of art and architecture.

While the majority of my time in Brussels was spent on a film set, that definitely didn't stop me from getting out and about and finding a couple great little spots to share with you.

From coffee shops to vintage thrifts here are a couple suggestions for a day in Brussels (and a little extra if you're keen).

 

hinterland

breakfast

HINTERLAND! My absolutely favorite spot in Brussels. I found this puppy one morning and I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out how I could eat there every day.

Not only is it a great atmosphere to escape the chill, catch up with a friend or have a write sesh but they offer an array of gluten free, vegan options both in savory and sweet! Such a great way to start the morning.

address: Chaussée de Charleroi 179, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
hours:mon-fri: 8a-6p, sun: 10a-6p
 

Parlor coffee

coffee...clearly

This little (but not lacking a sweet terrace!) coffee shop is a perfect next stop. Located right around the corner from Hinterland this sweet little specialty coffee shop won't disappoint.

Grab a cup to go or, if you happen to be there in winter like we were hustling from warm space to warm space, hunker down and enjoy.

Address: Chaussée de Charleroi 203, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
Hours: Closed Monday, Tue-Sun: 8a - 6p
click images for credits
 

 

wander

So you're fed and watered (caffeinated, I hope), now what?

I was in Brussels in the dead of winter. December was touting a highs of 28-32° F, so if I can suggest a good wander from the bowels of winter I think its safe to say that your time will be just as good, if not better, when it's not freezing AF. If you do happen to go during a cold time of year my best suggestion is a warm pair of GOOD boots and a big, fat scarf. 

The morning my friend and I chose to adventure was perfect. The sky was bright and grey; the air crisp and free of rain. We left Hinterland after a good meal and stepped out onto the street without a plan. We simply picked a direction and started walking.

While crossing one of the streets I looked left and almost wet myself - yes, people, I'm from California we don't have stuff like this - there was a FULL BLOWN CASTLE at the end of the street. Well, turns out it's a prison... but you know. Still cool. 

 Did I mention I love Europe? Just go, Walk. You’re sure to stumble upon some hidden gems.

Castle/Prison
address: 
Avenue Ducpétiaux 106, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium

If you're interested in art, be sure to lock in your Brussels Card which gives you 24, 48 or 72 hr access to over 35 museums!

 

KNEES TO CHIN

Lunch

With all that walking, I expect you might want to sort yourself a little snack. Provided you didn't wander to the nether-reaches of Brussels I have the perfect place! 

A couple of friends took us to Knees to Chin after a long day and it quickly topped my list. The thing I loved most about this fresh and easy spot was that it was both filling and light. I'm pretty sure I put down two rolls quicker than the dude next to me and while full, I felt great.

These fat rice paper rolls are stuffed with an array of delicious goodies and come with a ton of dipping sauce options. Perfect fuel to get you through to dinner!

Address: Rue de Livourne 125, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30a - 10p, Closed Sunday

 

Rue Haute

Post-Lunch wander cont.

Early evening brought us to Rue Haute (street) where found a couple of cool shops. Some of my favorites were:

Melting Pot Kilo: a nifty little vintage shop that charges by weight.

Address: Rue Haute 154 1000 Brussels
Hours: Mon-Sun: 10a-5:30p

L'atelier: a concept store selling clothing, amazing wood furniture, as well as coffee and food.

Address: Rue Haute 64, 1000 Brussels
hours: Closed Mon-Tues, Wed-Sun: 10a-6p

and… if you’re lucky you just might find a waffle truck hanging about. Just kidding, I think they're always around. Do it.

Got your fill yet? At least for the day? Great.
Let's get you dinner.

Premier Comptoir Thai

Evening Grub

One of the nights we went out in search of my favorite food group (yes. food. group.) Thai and nailed down this spot.

I wouldn’t say it’s the cheapest place ever, but it was certainly worth the couple extra dollars. AND Premier Comptoir is located less than a mile - 0.6 to be exact) from Rue Haute, so take a stroll and get yourself some grub!

 

Central Park in Fall

One of my favorite things about traveling is soaking in the energy of wherever I am.
I am endlessly fascinated by people and often spend a large majority of my time people watching. Settle me down at a good cafe in a foreign place and I'm good to go.

Central Park was a perfect same same but different in that regard. 

I'll admit it was a somewhat jarring experience moving from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets into the "quiet" of the Park but once you get past the change of pace it's a perfect opportunity to be still and soak up the life of the city.

 

I'm usually pretty adverse to the idea of doing the tourist thing in a place, but the opportunity to explore one of New York's most iconic spots with some of my favorite people could not be passed up.

 

 

One of the really cool things about Central Park is that there are plenty of cool monuments and things to see if you want to go that route.

 

 

Cleopatra's needle, the Simón Bolívar Monument and Belvedere Castle made our list before we decided to wander into the wilds. It didn't take long for us to fall into quiet contemplation, lured into the slower currents of our mind by the fresh air and brilliant colors of fall.

 

 

There were so many little gems hidden along the twisting paths of the park, but I have to say that my favorite part of our wander was when we finally ended up at the Bethesda Terrace & Fountain. It felt good to be back in the crowds of people. Everyone was taking photos or snuggling close in the brisk air. Horses clip clopped above us as we moved toward the tunnel. There is such energy in this city! 

The terrace itself is two levels, united by two grand staircases and the top level gives a great view of the lake. And the fountain, an eight-foot statue depicting a female winged angel, unveiled in 1873, was magnificent to behold.

 

 

As we weaved our way through the mass of people, we noticed a crowd forming at the mouth of the tunnel. Naturally we moved closer and lingered as the two people there prepared to begin their act. I kid you not, when these two began to sing my jaw actually dropped. I may or may not have cried because it was so beautiful. Unfortunately the only videos I could find were awful quality and I wouldn't suggest them to anyone, but if you ever have a chance to see Tribal Baroque in Central Park, I highly suggest it.

 

 

In the end I'm happy to say that while I wasn't sure what to expect, I would definitely prioritize this as one of the things that actually needs to be experienced while in NYC. There is nothing like walking a long path as leaves drift down like snow from the treetops-- but if you do happen to go in fall like I did, make sure you are prepared! It was a wee bit nipply.

wander on my friends,
and as always-- stay wild. xx

 

 

 

 

Kona: The Basics

I've been gone two and a half years. What a crazy amount of life that happens in that span of time. Getting to go back to the Big Island and simply enjoy the place I once called home was such a sweet, sweet adventure. The month leading up to our little Hawaii excursion was so jam packed that when it finally came time to lock and load it just didn't feel real- not to mention we were packing tank tops and sandals while outside our window it was wet, grey and cold.

Armed with long socks and scarves my friend Alyssa and I packed up and headed to the airport in the rainy-ass-cold-california weather.


The plan had originally been to get to Kona, spend a few days touring the island exploring, adventuring and revisiting our favorite places and then end the trip shooting a beautiful friends wedding but upon arriving my entire self melted into a big puddle of wanting to just simply enjoy the sunshine and rest. December was such an insane month of work that when the opportunity to do nothing but cruise around on a moped, lay on one of my best friends couches and eat delicious raw-food-goodies en route to white sand beaches presented itself I happily obliged.
 

alyssa luzaich

alyssa luzaich

 

Honestly, I'm more of a low-key travel-bug anyways. My idea of travel is couch crashing, wandering, loose agendas, new people, living like a local (did someone say coffee, books and nosh?) and relaxing into the atmosphere of wherever I am. So that's a lot of what we did-- and the bulk of this little kona-blip: The Basics.
 


I think it's safe to say that good coffee is always going to be at the top of the list. It was pretty neat to see the growth of the coffee culture in Kona since I was last there (working as a barista). Kona has long been known for the quality of it's bean, but I've personally never really been impressed-- until now. The first coffee shop we hit up, THE COFFEE LOUNGE, was just plain beautiful with it's industrial, reclaimed textures, giant windows and moody lighting.

 


The presentation was a little bit of a let down if only because the latte art was non-existent, but hey, the espresso was on point. The barista was super friendly and we got to chatting. He told me they used a local roast by a place on the main strip called Daylight and suggested we check it out. I was more than happy to follow his urging the next day and I am so glad we did. 

 


DAYLIGHT MIND COFFEE, tucked in the back just to the right of Bubba Gumps on Alii'i Dr, was one of the highlights of my trip. I'm such a sucker for atmosphere and excellence. The space is super accessible with lots of room to hunker down for a long work sesh, or meeting and it has a view. I'm not sure it get's better than that. Plus, you can watch them roast as you wait for your coffee (although it's not really set up for viewing-- just gotta sneak close). I think I came here 3 out of the 4 mornings. Not only was the coffee great and presentation on point, but the staff was super chill, too. Seriously, I really love people. By my second visit they were welcoming me by name, which might seem insignificant for some, but to me that's good people (and business).

Loved this little spot so much I'll probably end up giving it it's own post just to share all the photos -- so keep an eye out.

 

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Close second to good coffee would have to be healthy eats for me. Don't get me wrong, I can get down on some sweet potato fries but in general I prefer to find places that cater to the style of nosh that keeps me feeling on the up and up. My favorite place while living on the island was a health food store aptly named ISLAND NATURALS.

 


Not only is this spot jam packed with raw, vegan, locally sourced healthy eats and meats (and a hot-bar/salad bar) but it is right next door to my favorite spot on the island..

 


I digress, more on that later. The second spot we found that we ended up at most days is a little spot in Coconut Grove called EVOLUTION BAKERY. Gluten Free, Vegan and happy body friendly bakery by day and Pizza shop by night this placed simply rocks. Alyssa, who is basically allergic to everything, nearly died when she found their gluten free bagels. I tried a bite and I was for sure impressed. Shamelessly, my favorite thing was their chocolate chip cookies which I may or may not have had for breakfast at one point or another.
 


I also loved that outside are a bunch of little tables to eat at and on each table they have a bunch of crayons and notebooks where you can leave your mark.
 


The last notable "basic" for this beautiful aina Kona side, imho, would have to be THE MARKET.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m, this place is chalk full of gizmo's and gadgets (typical Hawaiian souvenirs) and a bunch of other stuff I would never spend money, but most importantly the whole front side of the market is fresh produce stands. This place is island GOLD. Aint nobody mad about sneaking back home with 3 face sized papayas for 3 dollars; a morning market run is always on the books in the land of sun and surf.

 

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I know it was short, but hopefully sweet.
xo-- & stay wild