Category Archives: Stay

Do you all live in straw huts on the beach?

Although we may sleep under them, we don’t live in palm trees or forts made of sticks in the sand. Yes there’s clean water, paved roads and even electricity! (To be said with a slightly sarcastic undertone). We have convenient grocery stores with cheap local items and an abundance of over priced imported goods. In fact, on this beautiful island you can find rum cheaper than water and fresh tropical fruit growing wild along the road side.

While enjoying our stay in Barbados, I wanted to give you a glimpse of where Matt and I are calling home away from… well, I guess this is home for now! It’s located fairly central with just a quick drive to the popular south and beautiful west coast beaches. Our cozy home is 2 bedroom, 2 bath with an inviting backyard hosting the guest cottage. Although the last kittens were adorable while living in the home seen in a past post,  I’d say this is one of the most comfortable pet sitting jobs we’ve done! Please, take a look around!  Below is the dining (we never eat here) and lounge (we never sit here) portion of the house that realistically is just a common area we pass through to get from our room to the kitchen.

We spend most of our moments outside, however the main two spots that consume our indoor time are the bedroom to sleep and bathe and the kitchen to prepare food and coffee.

If for a moment we want to chill out and get lost in a documentary, we’ll kick back and relax in the additional room.

Now to our prime spot of entertainment. The backyard is where we read, write, grill, eat, talk, nap, stretch and start and end every single day. This photo was obviously shot during my morning tea time.

That cute little cottage house in the back is perfect for our guests. Private full bathroom, coffee maker, mini fridge, a few seating options and an extremely comfortable bed. No need for a “do not disturb” sign as the only knocking you’ll here is from the monkeys on the roof trying to snag a mango off the tree overhead!

Looking past the cottage you’ll see a few neighbors tucked away behind the radiating green that catches the eye from tree to tree.

What else have we used this beautiful back area for? A party of course! Our last visitor had a birthday so we through together a barbeque (literally, Matt turned center blocks and a flower pot into a grill) and invited some friends! A few balloons, another grill and amazing people… success!

What does a group of spontaneous creative individuals do when united? Apparently the mannequin challenge! This was my first time ever hearing of such thing, but hey, it worked!! Check out the video made by Cole Huffer from Enlightened Studios!

No children were drinking before, during or after this video was filmed.

Ready for the hike! Where’s my blindfold?

Matt and I decided to hit the road and camp for two nights. No, not glamping as seen in the most recent post but good ol’ tent and dirty toes camping! 

Day one brought us to Pine Log State Forest in Northwest Florida. The drive alone was enchanting!

Step one, set up camp. Step two, sage the site. Step three, go for a hike! 

This trek started like none other as Matt suggested we approach it blindfolded! He read about a method in which you trust your instincts while embracing the other sensations around you. The sounds, the ground beneath your feet, the wind against your skin, the tree branch piercing your hip… I’m in!

Once the bandannas were removed we kept walking and I did find myself more appreciative of the glorious sights around us. Not only the ability to actually see where I was going, but the visual stimulation that came from such beautiful scenery.

We were “almost there” Matt confirmed a half dozen times (when clearly we weren’t) as we reached a sign that informed us that we were just barely a little over half way. Honestly it was so refreshing out there, neither one of us minded the extra walk as we laughed it off and kept going. The final stretch was well worth the long way back!

Dinner was veggies and chicken. Those who know me well, have the right to assume that I stuck with the veggies and let Matt battle the bird. With our powers combined (for all you Captain Planet fans) we had a delicious dinner! 

The sun peaking up was warm enough to draw you out of the tent while the chill factor had you reaching for a beanie. Camping weather at its finest!

So turns out we forgot all utensils, but remembered the French press. Go figure. Best backyard barista ever!

Breakfast? Matt thoroughly enjoyed his blueberry muffins as I awkwardly stared deeply into my yogurt. 

Me: “I think there’s raw chicken water in my yogurt.” 

Matt: “What? You still going to eat it!?”

Me: “Yep.”

I had opened it the night before and carelessly put it back in the cooler as if the ice wasn’t going to melt and allow most items to be completely submerged. Don’t worry mom, I scraped off the top layer first (to be said with love in a sarcastic backpacker tone). After consuming the twice blessed breakfast with fingers crossed, we packed up and hit the road to the next adventure! Miles up the highway brought us to Ecofina Creek and the popular Springs.

Just get in!  Sounds easy right? This is until your big toe scrapes the surface of this ice box! For most, this would be a lengthily process of creeping your way inch by brutal freezing inch. For me, it was all or nothing. Head first with no room for hesitation. And for Matt, I’m convinced he’s part marine life.

Deeper into the springs provided more quality shots and the occasional curious substance between your toes. Feel a little nibble? It’s just the fish providing a complimentary pedicure.

Last stop before finding our new sleeping location is called Devils hole. A hidden gem in the shape of a circle with depths only divers can tell you about. Last time Matt was here, he said it was dark and with fairly foggy waters. Today, it’s clear blue! 

The second site was set up quickly as we decided to ditch the tent and go rugged in the open sky. Hammock… check. Sage… Check. Hanging light… check. Good night!

How could I leave this place without a handstand photo?! We returned in the morning to the ice box Springs for a well worth shot, great capture Matt!

Several of the marvelous photos above were from Matt and his quality (aka- fancy or big boy) camera. For more of his work please visit the Stone Sharp Images webite. Care to see his version of our trip? Click here for his blog post!

Excuse me glamper, did you say S’moreberry?

Some girls go to Vegas, others hit up Mexico (I’m guilty of both) and a few hit the sticks! Mom and I joined our dear friend Gloria for a ladies only camping weekend! Or maybe we should classify it under Glamping, defined as – a style of camping with amenities and in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Of glamour.

Meet the girls!

Now welcome to our weekend view! This beauty is located at St.Andrews park in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Sun-up is our alarm for a walk into the hmm, can’t really call it the wilderness and it’s not a town so we’ll just go with, a walk in the outdoors! 

Things you may see on a stroll through the paved wilderness. Birds, berries, butterflies, Bambie, bikers and the random tree huger.

As you trek the great pavement, you get to see how others have set up their site as well as where these campers have ventured from. I originally took photos of all the different license plates to show you, but then I realized that may or may not be crossing personal information boundaries. So, for what it’s worth there were over a dozen different states in just a short 1/4 mile stretch.

A bit up the way we explored an old Mill. I felt like kids on a field trip!

Other things we saw along the way.

This woman was collecting trash throughout the property. Thank you ma’am! 

What’s this? An adorable set up that appears to provide a stage and seating for special events. To me… a handstand podium!

Arriving back to the site brought on dinner followed by a friendly round of games complemented with a proper girls toast. These are those moments that, through laughter and genuine conversation you try to appreciate every beautiful second. 

Confession: the main reason I go camping is for the fire at night

How many girls does it take to open a folding chair? We don’t know.


On this evening, we brought out the ingredients for traditional s’mores (a delicate sandwich-like treat composing of chocolate and toasted marshmallow being held together by graham crackers). As we’re roasting, or in my case igniting, the marshmellows, mom gasps with excitement. “I’ve got it! What would this taste like with a warm strawberry inside?” Of course the next step was to try this campfire creation. Thus, the new dessert she appropriately named S’moreberry.

A special thanks to Gloria for sharing her space, energy and time. Our conversations are still present in my mind and I’m so grateful for the love and support. Cheers to the gypsies at heart!

…5 years later

What makes her happy trails so happy? Let me just share a few reasons that have recently been amplified in this beautiful journey I call life. 
First off, we have this glorious planet offering a variety of stunning landscapes and wondrous elements. Then there’s the creatures that keep us intrigued from under the sea to the tops of the highest peaks. Let’s not forgot the loving, creative, crazy humans that enhance the entire magnificent experience.

My last post wrapped up a season in Barbados which sends me off on another trip back to the states to see family and friends. Before I get to that, let’s acknowledge another happy part of these trails. Connection! Simply one of my favorite things about traveling. You meet a stranger on a bus, in a hostel, the line at a market, no matter where the universe allows it, your paths are supposed to cross. Maybe just for that moment, or continuing through a week of friendship along the trail, or even for a lifetime. It’s magical when you recognize a purpose behind every smile you connect with. 

Exactly 5 years ago, I was on one my first solo international trips. I say “solo”, but although I planned this alone, it was on a semi-guided tour with a company called Contiki.. The route took me and 2 dozen other travelers from Italy to France, down through Monaco and ended in Spain where I parted from the group. 

Along the way I met a dozen or so wonderful people that I’m still in touch with today. Here’s a few meeting to reunion photos!

The most recent reconnection was during my travels from Barbados to Oklahoma with an unexpected magical pit stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a 14 hour layover which meant I had a typical over night stay which entails a cold airport floor with the sounds of the custodians popping chewing gum over the humming of their vacuum. I invite you to check out the posts called Work out and rest up in Asian airports and Floor seats in the Lima airport, unforgettable nights for sure! I’m usually bundled up with every heavy piece of clothing item in my backpack in order to endure the below comfortable temperatures while using my backpack as a makeshift cot. The morning consists of me walking the terminals to get the blood flowing again while waiting for the cafes to open so I can get a cup of hot water for the one single tea bag I keep in my wallet. I take a wet wipe shower in the bathroom and although I brush my teeth with real paste and actual water (verses spit and shine in the back of a camper), it still feels like I have backpackers breath as I board my flight with one eye open and the fleeting thought, “I forgot deodorant”. 

Think 14 hours seems a bit much? Check out 51 hours to get 1/2 way around the world!

Well not this time folks! World meet Karyne (pronounced cuh-reen) She’s another one of the amazing friends I first met in Rome back in 2011. After parting ways in the streets of Spain, Karyne and I remained in contact through good ol Facebook. Now, she’s offered not only her home but a lift to and from the airport and an unexpected dinner out. I sat here for too long trying to think of a creative name for the award she should recieve for her hospitality. I felt so welcome and we spoke like it was just yesterday that we were sipping sangria on the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Here is our then and now pic (sorry for the blurry photo, it was a good night in France).

Her house was right up my alley with instruments, personal artwork and a beverage cart for all to share. 

What was completely foreign to me however, was her spare room aka her closet!

The morning after our catch up session we hustled back to the airport to say our farewells as I departed for my final stop. Such a better ride than the usual airport shuttle!
Bonus highlight! I met this adorable couple on the flight over. Amanda and Tyler share a passion towards biology, art and travel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see them again, but I can only expect exceptional things in their future. Thanks for the stimulating conversation and supportive energy towards spreading the joy of travel! 

In the next post you’ll see what Oklahoma has to offer me but I’ll close this write up with a collage that shows 3 roads I traveled in 3 consecutive days. Gotta love the beauty in variety! Barbados-Florida-Oklahoma

The greatest show on earth

Monday and Tuesday make up the grand finale of the previous weeks celebrating Carnival in Trinidad, “The greatest show on earth”. Costumes were distributed to the participants and they’ve been gearing up for the next 48 hours of prancing, dancing, drinking and eating (only if you dare while squeezed into those barely there bikinis). 

A house or hotel room this time of year typically has a few areas designated towards Carnival.  Costumes, clothes, drinks, coolers, and enough random wrist bands from all the parties to create a chain-link fence. Here we have bedazzled tanks and itty-bitty bikini bottoms being stretched over chairs, believe me from experience… It’s necessary. A makeup table that looks like a production off a movie set accompanied by enough hair product to open a salon. An abundance of jewels, beads, chains, art supplies and one hot glue gun for the universal fix-it tool.


Complimentary survival tray provided by the hostess. Jax, you’re amazing!  

Ooh and what did we find here? Sneak-a-nap between parties (with the Barbados flag in hand.. way to represent Clint!)

 

My contribution to this controlled chaos? Hair skills. I found myself behind the scenes for this magical time of year with the honor of making each hair client feel even more spectacular that they already are. Here’s a look at what my hands were doing while all of this was going on.    

 

Where did I find the space for these lovely ladies? Thanks to Vanessa at Bikini Cabana I was able to set up a make-shift salon connected to her store. Here’s a few examples of what they offer (especailly for the “Monday wear” described below). How I walked away without giving in and purchasing something is still beyond me.

Carnival Monday is less intense in regards to the length of time they parade the streets and the extent of the costumes.  The women create their own “Monday wear” by adjusting dresses, customizing swimsuits or simply rockin it raw and casual. Carnival Tuesday is the “full shibang” with head pieces, feathers, beads, diamonds and sparkles. The following is a mesh of both days, random sights, a variety of looks and too much fun. 

     

           
  For some of the most brilliant photos of these costumes, please visit the page of an upcoming photographer who captured the vibrance exuding from the day.  World, meet Keshav D. Ramnath!

Towards the end of the day, I took advantage of a different perspective. Where was I? My new friend Ashleigh is close with the owner of Studio, a hidden gem that happened to have a portion of the bands crossing right in front! Funky decor, happy people, Prosecco and a balcony view… Perfect! 

   They even offered complimentary tasty treats (enter a puckered up sarcastic face here).  These are salt prunes soaked in Tequila. I was keen for the Tequila, not so much the salty prune.  I’ve had worse, but I didn’t go back for seconds. 

As the better part of the day continued, the party didn’t quit. The music still echoed through the streets of Port of Spain as the participants went strong in full costume.  How did they manage to keep that gorgeous fresh look?  I’d personally like to take partial credit. My position on these days placed me at the lunch break in the Bliss tent. I was there for any girls request to touch up their lovely locks. In the following post you’ll get a glimpse of what you don’t see from the road. Courtesy of Bikini Cabana, I was able to be front and center in my favorite spot… Behind the chair! 

  

Above photo by Peter Sheppard