I had all intentions of writing this ASAP after a mini trip to Joshua Tree a few weekends ago. But then life happens, things get pushed to the back burner, and here we are. As I just started a new job, I am pretty limited on vacation days, so Alex and I took advantage of the long weekend for President’s Day to take a quick trip up to Joshua Tree. From San Diego it’s about a three-hour drive, so very do able for a weekend. I was teaching a class Saturday, so we left early Sunday, came back Monday and the drive still wasn’t bad.
There is a small town that has been built up around the park, but for the most part the park is in the middle of nowhere. The park itself has no wifi (love it) which makes it the perfect place to disconnect, go off the grid for a bit, and just enough the scenery around you. For any trip Alex and I make that is nature oriented, I love to leave my phone behind as much as possible or leave it on airplane mode. Between being out in nature and away from all other distractions, it makes the trip extra relaxing.
Joshua Tree is popular among both hikers and climbers. Although we aren’t climbers and did not do any climbing while there, it is always fun to see people scaling up the rocks. The first day we explored around the park, walked the Willow Hole and Split Rock trails, and scrambled over rocks. We may have done another trail but my memory is failing me here. Wanting to get back to our Air Bnb before sunset, we called it a day after that. The house we stayed at was so impeccably put together; the owners had clearly put significant effort both in renovating the home, but also adding personal touches like essential oils in the bathroom, chocolates for each guest, lots of cozy blankets, etc. It was the perfect zen spot.
At the Air Bnb, I rolled out my mat for some easy flows, snapped a few pictures at sunset, and then popped my feet up with a glass of wine and a bowl of vegan chili 🙂 After the sky got nice and dark, we went outside to stargaze. Being far away from any city lights makes an incredible difference. The entire sky was lit up with a million shining specks. If you are into star gazing, I highly recommend the “Sky Guide” app. You hold the phone up to the sky and it will tell you which constellations you are looking at – so cool!
We woke up well before the sun Monday as we wanted to catch sunrise at the Cholla Cactus gardens. It took us a bit longer than expected to weave our way through the entire park, but we caught sunrise as we drove and made it to the gardens as soft beams of light were just beginning to come through.
After that, we went back to Skull Rock. There were way too many people there the day before and I prefer to be out in nature with as few humans as possible 😉 We had all intentions of hiking Ryan Mountain, but I had greatly underestimated how cold it was going to be and the wind was STRONG, so we opted for one of the easy loops. This ended up being a very good call as shortly after we finished, dark clouds rolled in and it hailed. Yup, hail in a desert. Given the weather, we opted for brunch instead of anymore hiking and then made our way back to San Diego.
I cannot stress enough how much putting my phone away for this trip made it feel so rejuvenating and like a much longer getaway than just an overnight trip. Whether it’s on vacation, for a day over the weekend, or past a certain hour each night, I am trying to more consciously spend time disconnected from technology and connected to the present moment and those around me.
There seems to (strangely?) be a lot of controversy about New Year’s resolutions. Being anti-resolutions seems like the new fad. If New Year’s resolutions aren’t your thing, you do you.
But I for one, love them. I like a fresh start, new goals, and setting a plan. New Year’s resolutions are an awesome way to set focus for the New Year, get clear on what I want to work towards, and identify what I want to cultivate in the year to come.
I want to share my resolutions via the blog, not so much to keep myself accountable, but as something to refer back to, to remember what my thoughts and intentions were at the beginning of the year. Hopefully, these inspire your own resolutions, goals, intentions, etc.
En route back from London last week, I wrote all my intentions / resolutions. Looking back over them, I summarize my overarching resolution as this:
to live simply & connected
to expand my horizons
Each resolution below feeds into these umbrella resolutions.
Nurture current relationship, cultivate new ones: Living at a distance from family and friends, taking the time to maintain and nourish those relationships is key. Time spent together is few and far between. Setting up phone dates, FaceTime, or old school letters are all key to maintain that closeness, even at a distance. I also want to make a real effort to build new relationships and friendships this year, with people both similar and different than me, with people who inspire me, and with people who I could inspire.
Prioritize saving, spend on experiences, not things: I am already a pretty good budgeter. I have a monthly budget spreadsheet that lays out all my base expenses, money for savings, and money for spending. This provides a pretty solid foundation to work off of. Base expenses aside, I figure out how much of the leftover I want to put into savings. What doesn’t go into savings is my spending money for the month. Instead of things (e.g. growing my yoga pant collection), I want to focus on putting this money towards experiences: workshops, traveling, trying new restaurants. Along with not accumulating new things, I also want to go through and really tailor down what I have to what I need. KonMari the whole apartment.
Create space for disconnection and self-care: An introvert by nature, I recharge when I am alone. Solo time is so important for me to be my best self. Although it can be hard to find the time or justify it to myself, I plan on setting aside some time each week that is just “me” time. This could by my practice, a walk, a bubble bath – anything that is solo me time. An important aspect of this time is disconnection. The internet, social media, and our phones provide such an incredible way to connect with each other and are an endless source of information. For me, my phone can also be a huge source of stress and anxiety, spending time truly away from it is a critical part of my self-care. Self-care also means taking care of my body – some form of movement each day and nourishing it with whole, clean, plant-based foods.
Continue to try to new things:I think there is so much to be gained from trying new things. It break you out of your comfort zone, expands your horizons, exposes you to new people, provides new perspective, and is a learning opportunity. Continuing to try new things applies to my yoga practice – I want to work on pincha and handstand — two poses that are very much a work in progress and outside of my regular practice currently. Trying new things also means traveling to new places, cooking new recipes, trying a new restaurant, or maybe a finding a new hobby. Lots to be learned, lots to be gained!
Commitment to learning: I have always loved learning. I loved being in school and going to class. I crave learning and although I am not an official student anymore, I believe you can be a student throughout your life. This year I want to commit to my education – through reading, workshops, and my own resources. I plan to sign up for a Yin Yoga teacher training and to seek out other workshops to develop my teaching and my practice. I also want to dive back into the French language. I took French while I was in school, but it has now been years since I really used it. I would love to be fluent, or close to fluent again.
So there you have it! 2018 resolutions. Reading over them gets me excited for the year to come and motivated to make them a reality.
One of my favorite parts about living in San Diego is the abundance of National Parks within weekend-ish distance. This year, I took advantage of the couple extra days off of work over Thanksgiving to make the mini trek out to Zion National Park. The drive is about 7 hours from San Diego (no traffic) and a fairly easy drive as you’re mostly on one highway the entire time. We took off early Thursday morning and arrived at the park mid-afternoon. Here’s a breakdown of my favorite hikes from the weekend 🙂
Angel’s Landing: This trail is rated strenuous with an estimated hiking time of 4 hours in Zion’s trail guide. Round trip, with photos and snacks, it took us about 3 hours but we were definitely pushing the pace a bit on the way up. This hike starts with switchbacks going up and down the side of the mountain called “Walter’s Wiggles” that will give you a solid glute workout. After the switchbacks, it is a fairly easy hike with a slight elevation gain till you get the Angel’s Landing. This is where the trail gets fun.
If you aren’t someone who enjoys heights, you could stop here and still get some great views. I’m not the fondest of heights, but can say the trail forward looks more treacherous than it actually is. There are chains to hold onto along the way and a few spots where you have to scramble over the rock, but for the most part the trail is a steady elevation gain with enough rock to get a solid footing. The views at the top are beautiful and there are lots of flat rocks to sit on, have a snack, and soak up a little sun before heading back down. Overall, Angel’s Landing was the most unique hike because of the challenge of having to wind your way, somewhat precariously, over the cliff.
PRO TIP: get up early and go first thing! I thought it was busy as we were going up, but coming back down there were major lines building up to go across. The ridge has a bunch of pinch points where only on person fits so if the trail gets busy, these points back up real quick.
If you are up for a bit of a longer hike, I would highly recommend Observation Point. The trail is rated strenuous with an estimated hiking time of 6 hours in Zion’s trail guide. It took us about 3 and a half hours, including snacks and photos at the top. While I think we had a good pace, we were definitely making a point to go slow(ish) and enjoy our journey up and down. I think you could safely budget 4 hours for the hike. Similar to Angel’s Landing, the hike starts with switchbacks going up the side of the mountain.
From here, the trail carries you back through the canyon, then wraps around to Observation Point, which summits at 6,507 ft. Higher than Angel’s Landing, I think this hike gives the fullest view of the park. I found the trail up to Observation Point to be the most diverse and I think the section that goes through the canyon is just so cool and worth the hike in itself.
PRO TIP: Again, go early. This trail was quieter than Angel’s Landing but still starting to fill up as we were making our way back down. Also, bring layers. In the morning and in the shade it is much colder than in the sun. It gets pretty variable depending on if you’re in the canyon or on the ridge. I took on and off my hoodie at least 10 times throughout the hike.
Weeping Rock: This is a super easy, quick walk from the same trailhead as Observation Point. Water that has filtered through the sandstone formations is forced out of the rock here, creating a waterfall of sorts. There are also “hanging gardens” along the side of the rock. Quick and picture worthy stop.
Pa’rus Trail: By the time we arrived to the park the first day and checked in, we didn’t have a whole ton of time to hike so we opted for this trail as we didn’t have to worry about being back before sunset. The whole trail is paved and is more of a walking trail than a hike. The path winds through the valley with mountains on either side of you. You’ll likely see mule deer along the side of the trail who are (at least compared to the white tail deer I’m used to in NY) very unafraid of people. I saw one just a few feet away from me off the trail. Really pretty views along the trail and a nice, easy walk to end your day with.
Lower and Upper Emerald Pools: These were the least thrilling hikes for me. Combined I think it is 2 miles to the upper pools with fairly easy, small sections of incline. The pools are pretty and have mini waterfalls similar to Weeping Rock. These trails can get busy as they are more accessible to families or those looking for a shorter hike. If you have the time, worth going. We did these trails after Observation Point and found they were perfect to end the day with.
Kayenta Trail: After the Upper Pools trail, instead of retracing our steps, we took the Kayenta back to the trailhead. Kayenta adds a couple extra miles onto your hike, mostly of paths that wind along the side of the mountain, providing incredible views of the valley and the Virgin River. I feel like I’ve said there are incredible views a lot, but there really are. The whole park is stunning.
Overall PRO TIP: if you are going to Zion anytime in the near future, beware that they are redoing the main road going in and out of the park. Traffic can back up for up to 30-40 minute waits on either end as you often have to wait for cars to clear out from the other direction. We stayed in the center of town and were able to walk to the entrance and avoid this madness. I loved not having to drive the whole weekend 🙂 Check the road status before you go and plan accordingly!
Packing PRO TIP: Bring snacks and water with you as there’s not anywhere in the park to get food aside from the lodge at the beginning. Wear layers and sunscreen. Bring hand sanitizer.
Last PRO TIP: As you take the shuttle through the valley, keep an eye out on the side of the canyon for rock climbers. We were lucky enough to see a group of climbers scaling the mountain as well as a guy ON A TIGHT ROPE between cliff edges.
Also, because hiking makes you HUNGRY, here are a few of the places I recommend:
Zion Canyon Brew Pub: Right by the entrance to the park, we stopped here both days after hiking for a glass of wine/beer and some fries. #hikinghunger
HooDoo’s General Store: Good place to grab any food you forgot to pack for your trip. Great soy lattes and a variety of wraps or sandwiches for a quick bite.
Bit and Spur Restaurant and Saloon: When going to a bar in the middle of nowhere Utah, I wasn’t exactly expecting excellent Mexican food. Count me wrong on this one because they had amazing burritos, fajitas, and spicy margs.
Apologies I have zero food pictures. We chose to leave our phones at the lodge for all dinners. This was part of a conscious effort to disconnect during the trip.
For the majority of the trip I was pretty phoneless. I brought it with me for the hikes in order to take photos, but left it on airplane mode all day. For meals, the phone was left behind. I really tried to not have it be present, which was SO rejuvenating. The more I take conscious breaks away from my phone, the more I move away from the need to consistently check it, the more I tell myself I don’t need to instantly respond to messages, the more I feel my stress levels decreasing. I recognize in today’s world that our phones are pretty critical, BUT, if you have an opportunity, like a trip to a national park, a day hike, or even just a dinner, turn it on airplane mode. Let the messages wait. Disconnect. Be present.
Still left on my Zion hikes to do: the Narrows. Waiting for warmer weather for that one!
a few of my fav things I’ve been crushing on recently
Workouts: Aside from my yoga practice, I’ve been focusing on taking my workouts outside. As we move towards “winter” here in San Diego, we move into hiking season. It’s not nearly as warm as the summer and the breeze is slightly cool aka ideal hiking weather. Getting outside as much as possible has the double benefit of helping to reduce stress, while also not feeling like a workout at all. I’ve had the personal goal of trying to get more movement in each day, whether that’s a weekend hike or just a long stroll to get coffee. If I’m in a funk, feeling lazy, or need to get centered, a little dose of nature and fresh air always seems to help.
Books: In the Superwoman Rx, Dr. Taz helps you identify your own “blueprint” to determine how to build a diet and fitness plan around that to optimize your health. You take a quiz to determine your Power Type: Gyspy Girl, Boss Lady, Savvy Chick, Earth Mama, or Nightingale. Each type has a plan tailored to their needs: including meditations, exercises, supplement, and general strategies. I really like that Dr. Taz pulls on her holistic health background to incorporate Chinese Medicine and ayurvedic systems of medicine in each plan. This book is an easy, fun read that gives lots of good tips to bring into your daily routine.
Podcasts: Lately I’ve been super into listening to podcasts. They make my commute to and from work go by so much faster and make the traffic slightly less aggravating. I also love listening to them when I’m at the gym or going for a walk. A few of my favorites from the past week:
TED Radio Hour: Manipulation – touches on just how much social media is influencing us and how memories can be swayed
The Skinny Confidential Him & Her with Lorna Jane Clarkson – Lorna is SUPER inspiring and gives lots of tips on living a healthy life.
The Balanced Blonde Soul on Fire with Kelsey Patel – I’ve heard amazing things about Kelsey from friends and this podcast did not disappoint. Jordan and Kelsey talk lots about reiki and transitional times.
Radically Love with Rosie Acosta featuring Ruby Fremon – Ruby shares her journey to becoming a transformational coach, including her own struggles and how she took power in her life through decisions.
Life: Turkey Day – This year I am celebrating Thanksgiving in a non-traditional, yet very traditional way? There will be no big feast with turkey and stuffing, but instead lots of hiking and exploring at ZION NATIONAL PARK (all caps= my level of excitement). I love Thanksgiving as a time to be able to gather with family and share good food. My personal favorites are stuffing and mashed potatoes. But I am beyond excited to be spending this Thanksgiving exploring more of the natural beauty of our country, which I feel like is equally as fitting for celebrations. If you have any hike recommendations for Zion, send them my way please 🙂 Angels Landing, Weeping Rock, and Observation Point are all high on my list!
Things: If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I have a thing for phone cases and love getting new ones fairly frequently. I’ve tried to limit myself to at least 6 months between switching them up, but sometimes it’s hard to do that… like when you see the perfect COSMIC case from Sonix.
With Thanksgiving coming up fast & feeling the holiday spirit, it seemed timely to reflect on gratitude.
“[through] acknowledging abundance (aparigraha) we recognize the blessings in everything and gain insights into the purpose for our wordly existence,”
– translation of the Yoga Sutra by Nischala Joy Devi
Aparigraha is normally interpreted as “non-attachment” or “non-greed”, taking no more than we need and not being possessive over what we have. I love this interpretation because it brings the focus to recognition of the positive, instead of negating what may be there (non-attachment, non-greed, non-possessive). Generally speaking, I find it much more effective to focus on what you can become versus what you should not be — by focusing on gratitude for all that you have, by default you will be less focused on greed for what you do not have.
Gratitude fosters more love in your life and less stress. It is show to improve both your physical and psychological health. Gratitude increases optimism, spirituality, self-esteem, and energy. It makes us happier. A few guiding principles in cultivating gratitude:
Life moves quickly and gets busy. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, to be constantly moving from one thing to the next, on the treadmill of life. Take a moment to p a u s e. To sit for a moment and reflect on all of the good in your life. This could be from as big of things as having a supportive family or close friend network to as small as the sun was shining. There is room for gratitude everywhere in your life. Seek it out and when you find it, acknowledge it. Reflect back on it.
See the good in all lessons
This can be a hard one. Life isn’t always peachy. Sometimes it straight up sucks – breakups, bad bosses, sickness, loss of a loved one – this list goes on. Life has its ups and its downs, but the opportunity for gratitude is always there. When everything is going wonderfully, gratitude is easy. Embrace it. Enjoy it. But what about when life isn’t so grand? Try to take a step back from the situation – imagine how this might play out in your bigger story. What will you learn from it? How will you grow through this? How might this change your path for the better? Even when it is hard to see the good, trust that there is a lesson there, that there is a reason behind everything.
Contentment in the present
It is easy (I find myself doing it frequently) to compare ourselves to others. To look at someone else’s life and wish that we had their job, money, family, closet, lifestyle, etc. etc. First, remember comparison is the thief of joy. Second, instead of looking at what you do not have, focus on what you do. Let go of your notions of what you wish you had, the “if only I had X I would be happy,” – be happy with what you have and where you are now in your life. This is not to say don’t strive to reach your goals, but rather to give thanks and find contentment where you are presently.
Radiate and reflect
Through expressing gratitude, opening up to it in our daily lives, we reflect this out into the universe. You are magnifying the joy and gratitude around you, sending it out into the universe – it will come back to you. The more you acknowledge it, the more it appears back to you. While gratitude should be given without expectation, it is my firm belief that by sharing this love, the love comes back to you. Karma and all 😉
A couple of quick ways to manifest gratitude in your life:
Daily Gratitude Journal – this could be an actual journal or use the “Notes” app in your phone. Each morning write down one thing you are grateful for.
Gratitude to Others – Write letter / email / text to those in your life, telling them why you are grateful for them.
Self Gratitude – Tell yourself how grateful you are for you being the rad human that you are. This can be in your head, to your reflection in the mirror, out loud – whatever you feel most comfortable doing. Tell yourself one thing about you that you are grateful for.
I’ll leave you with one more quote:
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life and you’ll find that you have more of it.”
“Me-time” “Self-Care” “R&R” – these trendy terms are popping up all over social media, accompanied by pictures of bubble baths, pretty lattes, and charcoal face masks. There is a lot to be said for carving out time for “self care” in your life and something I realized recently that I desperately needed to do.
Let me back track for a second. Rewind about a month and I’ve got 7000 things on my plate and a to do list that never ends: I’m prepping to host a yoga challenge (coordinating with sponsors and the other hosts, getting pictures prepped, etc), preparing to travel back East for a wedding, trying to squeeze in some blog posts to keep the website current, posting daily on insta and working to cultivate real connections through the social media sphere, teaching yoga 3x a week, prepping for a yoga audition, sending out my resume to other studios, trying to maintain my own yoga practice, all while working a full time job (my team is currently under staffed by two people as well), trying to spend some QT with friends, my boyfriend and kitten, and trying to really be present in long distance relationships (my family and most of my best friends are all back East). I was pouring energy out in all directions.
Here’s the thing – for the most part, I loved it. Every area I was pouring energy into was something l loved and felt strongly about; they were all aspects of my life that I wanted to grow or nurture. I hit a breaking point at the end of August where I just felt like it was all too much. I felt like I never had a moment to breathe. I decided I need to create some space. I wanted to do it all, but in this case all was too much. I was running a deficit on my energy and it was catching up with me.
Creating space meant some difficult choices. It meant trimming some aspects of my life that I do truly love and bring me joy. I tried to take a holistic view of everything that was currently on my plate in order to create balance. To continue the food analogy (#fatkidatheart) I identified what the main courses were – what were the staples in my life that nourished me and were a necessity? This came down to time really being present with my friends and family (in person, phone, etc.), my career, and my personal yoga practice. Everything else was just dessert if you will. While some dessert is great and delicious, too much is too much. Food analogies make everything make sense, no?
All of that to say, I’m pulling back on those “dessert” areas of my life for the next 3-6 months to help create some space in my life and find a point of balance. That means less time devoted to Instagram and the blog. Thanks to the #shadowban, Instagram has helped to kick start time away from the platform, but I have found myself craving it as well. While it is such an amazing tool for connection, it can also suck you in for hours a la the beginning days of Facebook when you would endlessly scroll. I’ve stepped away from hosting some challenges (thanks to all for understanding) and plan on posting less, but more meaningfully. Quality > quantity. Creating space also meant stepping back from teaching, at least for the meantime. I’ll still be teaching once a week which is a perfect sweet spot of being able to continue something I love without it being overwhelming.
I’m planning on dialing back for the next 3-6 months to create some space for “me time”, some space to relax, to be present, and to reflect. It’s pretty hard to figure out what you want when you never have a moment to think about it. At the end of the 3-6 months, or whenever I feel some clarity, maybe I’ll start adding things back in, maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll redirect my path in another direction. TBD friends. Until then I’ve got some time carved out for bubble baths and almond milk lattes.
Current Crushes — a few of my fav things I’ve been crushing on recently
Beauty: Naturaculina: While I’ve been lucky enough to never suffer from severe acne, my skin has always been prone to breakouts, especially when I’m stressed. Since I started teaching hot yoga, my breakouts got more frequent and my skin in general wasn’t as clear. I fell into a vicious cycle of breakouts & cover-ups: the more I breakout, the more I feel the need to wear makeup, the more makeup I wear, the more clogged my pores get, the more clogged my pores get, the more I breakout….etc. etc. on and on it goes. All that to say, I felt the need to change up my skin routine and was looking for something that would both clear my breakouts and better my skin.
Through the Southern Yogi (whose skin is always glowing) I found Naturaculina, an all natural skincare line. These products are AMAZING. All natural pure ingredients. No weird names that you can’t pronounce. Realness like jojoba oil, rosehip seed oil, tea tree oil, lavender, and manuka. I got the Botanical Skincare set which is created for acne prone skin but they also carry a moisturizing line for dry skin and an anti-aging line for all skin types. You can get the products in one offs or get the whole set. I opted for the set because having a skincare regimen is something I think is CRUCIAL. These products have seriously helped my skin so much already. Highly recommend!
Workouts: Aquavie: Aquavie may be the prettiest gym I’ve ever seen. I first heard about this place because on Saturday mornings they hold rooftop yoga classes, led by the wonderful Kendall Wood, another local San Diego yogi. To start from the top, Aquavie has a gorgeous rooftop pool, plenty of sun lounging chairs, a hot tub, some cardio machines in case you want a fresh air workout, and a jogging track that wraps around all of this. Go down a level and there are two beautiful yoga studio rooms and their cardio room filled with brand new machines, all equipped with personal TVs. I greatly appreciate this because I like to 1) catch up on instagram or 2) watch Food Network when I do cardio. If there aren’t classes going on, the studio rooms are open to practice which is such a perk.
Beneath that, there’s the spa (services unfortunately not included, gotta draw the line somewhere), beautiful locker rooms, and a sauna if you want to get your steam on. The first floor has weights I believe although TBH I haven’t ventured there yet. Yoga is obviously a huge part of my fitness routine but I also really enjoy mixing in some cardio, get my heart pumping and all that good stuff. If I’m going for cardio or looking for some rooftop yoga with views, Aquavie is the most aesthetically pleasing, beautifully equipped, spa-of-a-gym to get my sweat on.
Books: You Are a Badass: As one of my 26th year resolutions I wanted to read more books. I love a good book but its been something I have to remind myself to make space for otherwise I can go months without reading. I started off my 26th year cruising through 4 books, then fell off the wagon for the next 8 months. Yikes.
So with 2 months left, I have re-resolved (not a word, it’s fine) to get back on the wagon and read more. I started “You are a Badass: how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life,” by Jen Sincero. I’m only a third of the way through but so far am lovingggg it. Easy, fun, empowering read. Jen writes in a light hearted way that keeps it from getting too heavy while she addresses some major things, like the universe and God. She provides clear guidance on how to start tapping into your greatness and create the life that your truly want instead of leading the same old boring one, or the Big Snooze as she calls it. Full review to come when I finish reading, but so far this one’s a winner!
Life: Trip Planning: If you follow my instagram you know I’ve been feeling the itch to travel and am soliciting all and any travel suggestions! I love exploring new places and feel like its been far too long since I went somewhere new. My ability to travel as much as I want is limited by two things: vacation and money. In true Type-A personality fashion, I created a spreadsheet for both to figure out how many days I’ll be accruing and how much money I’ll be able to save up for various trips.
Planning is KEY for traveling. The more you plan ahead of time, the more you are able to do and the less you have to worry about when you are actually traveling. On deck for the next couple of months: a trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park, a long weekend in Zion National Park, and a short trip to Joshua Tree. Big trips on deck for next year are a trip to London and Stockholm and maybe a trip to Bali.