White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

"holy shit, i can't believe this is where we grew up."  

as we roar north on highway ninety three night leaves us in my rearview mirror. the white mountains in the distance, a range so big it seems to stay the same size even as we get closer. what seemed like an all day trip as a kid in the back of my mom's mini-van turns out to be only an hours drive from my childhood home. 

the last time i was in these mountains was nine years ago for a high school field trip, i was a senior and there was one week left of class. the only thing on my mind was getting out of this podunk place, now i'm trying to jam as much into one morning as i can because i don't want to leave. 

it's cold up here. the last days of april and there is still snow on the side of the road and the mountain tops, the rivers and lakes are frigid. the freezing temperatures that we hated growing up actually turned out to be what shaped our character; tough, independent.

footloose, always on the go chasing that feeling of freedom, seeking to be anywhere but where we are. it's the reason we left new hampshire in the first place, the reason we moved to philadelphia, the reason we rode our bikes across the country, the reason we moved to austin and the reason we are constantly on the go. i'm glad i left, i believe getting away from the familiarity of your childhood is important, but making it back up north a little older, and maybe a little wiser, a feeling of gratitude washes over me; "this is where i grew up". 

"All the past we leave behind,

We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,

Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,

Pioneers! O pioneers!"  Walt Whitman 1865





cruising up highway 17, hair blowing in the wind, arms reaching far out of the windows towards the saguaros and the four of us gals laughing nonstop; it's like a scene from the movie crossroads.

we are unshowered, running on two hours of sleep and sore from dancing for hours on a rooftop bar in phoenix the night before. we are running on giggles and adrenaline at this point, so as soon as we get to sedona, we are ready to hike. we set out on Sterling pass trail. the 1,050 feet elevation gain provided views of the red rocks in the distance and the pine covered mountains surrounding us.

after sterling pass, we checked into our hotel, and like four mid-twenties aged gals should, we cannon balled into the pool. we then got ourselves dolled up to go get some well deserved dinner and drinks and of course do some turquoise shopping (because what better place than sedona?!)

when we got back to the hotel, we started planning our next day, and what would be my last day of the trip. we knew a sunrise hike had to happen. we set our alarms for five a.m. and set out for devils bridge trail. i have done quite a bit of hiking in sedona over the years but never until this trip did i know that there was a natural bridge in the area! we shared stories and laughed the whole way up to devils bridge. once we got to the top it hit me, and probably all four of us, that not everybody is so lucky to have such beautiful people in their lives. our thoughts and feelings matched so closely. kindred spirits. soul sisters. to that we popped a bottle of champagne!

there couldnt have been a better group of ladies to dance all night and hike all day with. i feel super lucky to have such strong and beautiful women in my life. cheers!

Big Bend National Park

much like the end of two thousand twelve, the west was once again calling our names as this year came to an end. we had plans of finally visiting some of the national parks in california that we have yet to see, joshua tree, sequoia and kings canyon. but plans change; and what was supposed to be a week long trip got cut down to three days. 

we took this chance to finally start exploring the enormous national park out in west texas, big bend. one of the most remote and largest of all the national parks, big bend was always a little intimidating to us. hearing tales of its immense beauty and sheer size we always felt like we would need more than just a long weekend to fully enjoy the park. but with a thirst to explore something new we decided to make the eight hour drive.

 we have seen deserts, and we have seen mountains, but we have never seen them come together in such a perfect symbiosis. bone dry chihuahuan desert dirt roads with a view of the towering chisos mountains, all tied together with the mighty rio grande; it was awe inspiring and like nothing we had ever seen before. 

camping, early morning hikes, exploring the nearby ghost towns, tarantulas, driving the one hundred plus miles of roads running through the park, watching the sunset over the rio grande and rise again while sitting in a one hundred and five degree hot spring; we made the most of our few days in the park. 

admittedly i was a little disheartened when our original plans fell through, but now i am glad they did. much like the rest of my life, everything turns out for the best if you let it. a few days in big bend was exactly what my soul needed, and a great way to end two thousand and thirteen.  

LBJ National Historical Park

the colder months are definitely a hindrance to getting out and seeing something new when we are confined to a days drive from austin. once the waters cool our places to go are basically cut down by at least half, if not more. in the summer heat it's easy, not sure where to go, head to the nearest swimming hole and you're set for the weekend. 

we've passed the lyndon b johnson national historical park numerous times in our travels but were always on our way somewhere further west, this weekend we finally made it the focal point of our day.

the day was spent wandering around the ranch, farm and historical buildings before heading a little further west to check out old tunnel state park.

Field Trip - Hill Country

it's nearing the end of november and the sun is still beating hard on texas, and although we'd love to enjoy some cooler weathered hikes, we couldn't pass up the opportunity this past weekend to enjoy the heat. 

with no real destination in mind we just meandered through hill country taking in the sights and pulling over to explore if something caught our eye. 

around the highland lakes, through the town of llano, and finally ending up on the banks of the colorado river. we had not planned on swimming, but after a day running around under the sun the water was calling our names.