How To Spend 8 Days In Cuba

Most times we are limited to how much time we take of from work and general responsibilities to go traveling.  Especially with a little one at home, I wanted to plan enough time to really experience the Cuban culture but didn’t want to spend too much time away from her.  That being said, you also want to give yourself some time to relax and recharge, and not feel like you are coming back stressed from the trip’s itinerary. After travel time, my trip ended up being about 8 days in Cuba.  I tried to get a little bit of everything, but of course you won’t be able to get everything in such a limited time.  My cousin and I kept to a certain region of the country to not spend additional time in traveling, but I would love to return one day and learn about the rest.  I am really […]

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Making Family Traditions at a Colorful and Dry Yosemite

Ever since living here in California, I had only visited Yosemite in the springtime.  There’s something so fresh and clean about springtime there, with the falls gushing with water, crisp cold air, and sometimes a bit of snow on the ground.  We usually book a yurt with Yosemite Lakes Campground, just outside the park, so we’ve been a little spoiled by heated structures to relax in white we are there.  Going in the off-season also offers us a pretty open park, away from crowds and traffic, where we can really feel like we’ve escaped. This year, the campground was pretty booked and had availability in October.  With all the other things we had planned this month, it was a little inconvenient, but we booked it anyway and had hoped we could make it work.  The group of friends we go with changes slightly most years, and this time was no […]

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5 of my Favorite Stops En Route to Yosemite

Last weekend, we were fortunate enough to get another yearly tradition squeezed into our busy month, a trip to Yosemite.  I know I’ve been spending so much time camping in October, but this trip was different.  After two weekends of backpacking, and as the park was going to have the first winter storm of the season, I was happy to glamp it up with a yurt.  Yurts are canvas structures; imagine a round cabin but instead of walls like we would normally see on cabins, its wrapped in canvas. Not only are we generally excited to spend a weekend in a yurt, but we are able to spend it at one of my favorite National Parks.  It still seems a little unreal that I am so close to it now, about 3-4 hours away.  A short drive from the hustle and bustle of the city is the amazing views and fresh air of […]

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Hiking Muir Woods National Park

With Evie back in school, I have the time now to really just spend a day to myself.  I guess recently, I’ve been dealing with some phony people and discouraging situations, so it’s nice to get out of your head for a bit. Nature is the reminder for me that no matter how crazy life gets, it’s all pretty insignificant in comparison.  I couldn’t ask for a better situation when my girl, Rachelle, and I decided to take a little hike in Muir woods. The drive across the Richmond bridge and up through Mill Valley was beautiful.  Roads were winding up the mountain with breathtaking vistas of the bay.  Once we arrived there, we couldn’t believe how many people were there.  It was surprising for a regular weekday morning. I am still amazed at how much different the California landscape can change from one mile to the next, this park was no […]

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Backpack Camping in Point Reyes National Seashore

Last year I had told myself on my birthday that I was going to do the California “Lost Coast” Trail as a birthday challenge for myself.  My birthday was in October, and I am not that far from the next birthday now.  Life gets busy, I can start to loose a little focus,  and sometimes those goals get a little further during the course that time. The Lost Coast Trail is actually where the people in charge of building California’s famous Highway 1 actually decided not to build.  Where the Highway known for its beautiful cliffside and coastlines, decided… “meh… this area looks a little too rough for roads”.  Where you actually have to shuttle a couple hours, or have two cars so that you can get from the start and the end of the trail.  It’s a couple days long and can take you on some challenging terrain… and […]

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5 Reasons to Celebrate the National Park Centennial

Can you believe that the National Parks turned 100 this year?  How crazy amazing that we even have these places of such unspoiled America to enjoy?  So, I know what you are thinking… “oh boy, Jamie, another post about National Parks?”  My answer is YES!  Since it is officially National Parks Week in America, I need to share some major things about the parks that you may or may not know. Balancing at Yosemite National Park at 3 years old. Celebrate the National Park’s Birthday with FREE ENTRANCE! Evie’s hike to the waterfalls at Olympic National Park. August 25th-28th is actually FREE for anyone who wants to go.  There’s actually a couple of free days for the NPS throughout the year but this weekend is special for the 2016 Centennial.  The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession […]

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Hiking and Hot Springs in Olympic National Park

Now looking back to blog about it, it seems like we were out in Washington for waaaay longer than we actually were.  From family time at my cousin’s wedding to camping in the beautiful Mount Rainier National Park, maybe I was a little too much from the kids to do a couple more days with me in Olympic National Park. I mean, I really wanted to take advantage of being out there with so many beautiful parks, but I could already tell it was starting to wear on the kids.  (Which in turn, starts wearing down all the adults too, so I guess the joke is on me). From Mount Rainier, we packed back into the car and drove about 4 hours to another gorgeous park in Washington.  Olympic is actually pretty special when it comes to the National Parks as it has a very diverse ecology.  From coastline to […]

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Hiking Point Reyes and Eating Oysters

On an overcast day, one can get comfortable staying in and spending the day at home.  I think, after moving from Chicago, I’ve gotten really used to the warmth and sunshine of California that rainy days can be a little hard to deal with.  On a mission to try and overcome this, I scheduled a hike in Point Reyes National Seashore for a questionable day and I feel lucky that the skies cooperated with my plans. The morning was gray and gloomy but it opened up to be a beautiful day.  My daughter, Evie, is out of school and I’m on a mission to keep her busy and run some of that 4-year old energy out.  My cousin, and Evie’s godmother, Kathy, joined us on our hike and I’m so glad she did.  Evie can be a great hiker, but it is helpful to have more than just myself to […]

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Hiking around Pinnacles National Park

In making through to all of the 50 states in my life at least once, I was always a fan of spending some time in some of the Nation’s prettiest National Parks.  I knew that I wanted to take Evie to visit a lot of them also, and have made that one of my goals. Luckily, she received a US National Parks pass from my family this year for her birthday and we hope to make the most of it.  To those interested, it’s $80 for the year.  Pinnacles had a $15 entrance fee, but larger parks like Yosemite charge more.  A pass covers entrance and standard amenity fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). You can purchase one here. Pinnacles is about 2 hours south of us and is one […]

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