Check out our adventures traveling from Georgia to Washington below!
Hello all! At the beginning of December I took a trip with my family to Seattle to get a feel for the town as my parents will be moving there next summer. The trip was incredibly fun and the perfect way to kick off Christmas break, so I wanted to share our itinerary in case you find yourself there and need some ideas of what to see and where to eat!
Day 1: Pike Place Market and the Gingerbread Village
Although our first day mostly consisted of travel, we did have the evening to explore the area around Pike Place Market. The market is probably one of the most famous establishments in Seattle, and although it was closed the night we first went, we came back another day to walk through and see the different vendors. From there, we stopped in Metsker Maps, a super cool store containing – you guessed it – lots of unique maps, postcards, and guidebooks. If you find yourself in downtown Seattle around Christmastime, the Sheraton hosts a Gingerbread Village featuring crazy cool and detailed sculptures all made out of candy! We were also lucky enough to be staying in a hotel right next to the Space Needle which is a beautiful nighttime sight.
Where to eat: Blossom Vegetarian in Renton is a perfect place to grab a bite after a long flight; they have countless vegan options including the best faux chicken nuggets I’ve had! Veggie Grill is a great option as well with a variety of sandwiches, bowls, and sides.
Day 2: Books and Records Galore
We took a lazy Sunday to check out some shops around town: the Elliot Bay Book Company is a really nice store with tons of books and stationary. There are lots of record shops nearby as well so make a point to stop by one and browse away. After picking up some groceries and checking out the well-known Jimi Hendrix Statue on Broadway St., we took some time to relax in the hotel before heading back out for dinner.
Where to eat: vegan waffles and ice cream from The Cookie Counter make for a delicious start to the day. Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzeria has some of the best vegan cheese I’ve had with tons of topping options!
Day 3: Olympic Sculpture Park, Redmond, and Bellevue
Start your morning off by taking a lazy walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park. With lots of interesting sculptures and art pieces and a prime view of the water (we were lucky enough to see a seal!), it’s a beautiful spot. Taking a short walk up towards 5th Avenue will also take you by the Pacific Science Center where you can see some more sculptures and catch a beautiful view of the Space Needle. That day, we took a drive up to Redmond to visit the Microsoft campus and grab drinks at a coffeeshop before catching the sunset in downtown Bellevue and enjoying the Christmas lights. Finish off the day by taking a walk or drive through Candy Cane Lane, a neighborhood in Seattle that goes all out with the Christmas decorations every year.
Where to eat: Teapot Vegetarian House in Redmond is another delicious vegan Asian restaurant to check out – make sure to try their Thai iced tea! If you’re looking for a cup of coffee and a relaxing vibe, stop by SoulFood CoffeeHouse (also in Redmond).
Day 4: MoPOP, Starbucks Reserve, and Kirkland
The Museum of Pop Culture is a super cool stop with exhibits that rotate out – when we visited, they had one about science fiction movies, one about horror movies, several music exhibits about David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, and a huge area dedicated to Star Trek. After taking our time at the museum, we visited Starbucks Reserve, a location serving blends and drinks you can’t find anywhere else. After lunch nearby, we decided to spend the rest of the day driving through the Lake Washington and Kirkland areas. The homes in these neighborhoods are stunning and they have beautiful views of the water so be sure to check them out if you have the time. Our last day in Seattle was relaxed and fun, the perfect end to a stellar vacation.
Where to eat: El Borracho serves up some amazing vegan nachos with the best vegan queso I’ve had yet.
There you have it! I’m eager to go back and see more of Seattle and the neighborhoods around it. If you need more inspiration, check out my friend Olivia’s blog about her trip to Seattle over the summer: Olivia-Frances.com.
Until next time!
Another year, another trip to Chattanooga!
Every good road trip starts with a solid playlist – some of my picks include:
- I’m Shakin Jack White
- Closer Kings of Leon
- Never Gonna Give You Up The Black Keys
- Human Rag’n’Bone Man
- Secrets The Weeknd
- Jacked Up Weezer
- Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet Fall Out Boy
- Personal Jesus Depeche Mode
- Told You So Paramore
After arriving in Chattanooga around 11:30, we made our first stop at High Point Climbing Gym on Broad Street.
After a few solid hours of climbing, we popped in next door to Rock/Creek to browse some Patagonia and Prana gear, and then we headed to Tremont Tavern per the recommendation of one of the climbing gym employees.
After lunch, we headed over to nearby Frazier Avenue to check out Chad’s Records (which is now located inside Winder Binder). They offer lots of vintage records and books, and you’ll probably be greeted by the friendly resident dog who I remember from my visit last year.
After noticing some incoming rainclouds, we quickly made our way to Walnut Street Bridge to take in the view before the storm hit. Although it’s almost always packed with tourists, the bridge is a cool spot to get a panoramic view of the city and watch the brave souls who continued kayaking and paddle boarding in the face of an impending thunderstorm.
Our final stop was Clumpies Ice Cream Co. which had a wide variety of both classic and crazy flavors (salted watermelon anyone?). They even had dairy-free options!
On our way out of Chattanooga, we took a drive up W Road to check out Signal Mountain. Unfortunately, due to some poor navigation on my part, we only caught a couple views along the way, but the drive up was still fun (albeit pretty stressful given the crazy sharp turns – it’s called W Road for a reason!).
All in all, it was another lovely day spent in Chattanooga. There are always new spots to discover and adventures to embark on, and I can’t wait for my next visit!
As my time in Colorado comes to a close, I’ve been looking back on the past 2 weeks and realizing how much cool stuff I’ve gotten to experience and how many unexpectedly awesome moments emerged. So before we begin the journey home, here are a few of my highlights from this trip:
Discovering abandoned train tracks
We spotted the cool remains of an old train track while making our way to the first hike we would tackle on this trip (more on that in a second). One of the things I love about Colorado and a lot of the Western states is all the incredible history that still lingers, as seen in the countless ghost towns and abandoned mines that sprinkle the area.
Stepping foot on the Continental Divide Trail
After hearing about this hike from some family members, my dad and I decided to check it out one morning – starting from Rollins Pass, we hiked a little over 2 miles up to Rogers Pass, which intersects the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). I was really excited to step foot on the CDT – a 3,100-mile-long trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada – because along with the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail, it makes up the Triple Crown of Hiking. One of my goals is to hike all 3 of these long-distance trails, and seeing the CDT in person only made me want to accomplish this goal sooner!
Bonus: close encounters with a herd of moose
On our drive up to the trailhead for the Rogers Pass hike, we actually spotted a small herd of moose crossing the road! Getting to see them so close was incredible – they’re a lot bigger than I would have thought, and I would not recommend messing with them.
Spotting a fox
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I am completely obsessed with foxes. One thing I have always wanted to experience is seeing a fox “in the wild”, and it actually happened on this trip. We were driving through the town of Alma when I noticed a fox sitting near one of the buildings, quietly watching the road. I flipped out and made my dad turn the car around so we could get a better view of it. The fox just quietly watched as we got closer – it looked so beautiful and peaceful that I may or may not have shed a few tears.
Climbing my first 14,000′ tall mountain
On my family’s first big trip to Colorado last summer, we tried to summit our first 14,000′ tall mountain but had to turn back just a few hundred feet from the summit due to bad weather. This year, we were determined to come back and make it happen – and we did! We chose to hike Mount Sherman, a moderately difficult mountain dotted with abandoned mining buildings and topping out at 14,035′. We took a slow and steady pace on this hike which started amongst rolling hills, climbed through rock fields, and ended after a steep push along a snowy ridge line. None of us were expecting the mountain to be so rocky or snowy, so it ended up being a really fun but tiring challenge.
Exploring Garden of the Gods
On one of our designated chill days in between hikes, we spent some time exploring Garden of the Gods. The rock features in this park are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and they’re simply incomparable. We went on a short walk through the park, but even just being able to drive through it and pass all of the features was amazing.
Summiting Pikes Peak
This was our last big hike of the trip, and it did not disappoint. Pikes Peak is a legendary mountain (it’s known as America’s Mountain) and it has some of the best summit views I’ve ever experienced. The hike to the summit is no joke: the trail (officially called Barr Trail) gains 7500 feet of elevation over 13 miles. My dad and I originally planned on tackling the trail in 2 days, stopping 6 miles in at Barr Camp (an area with a hostel-like setup and campsites for hikers) and then finishing the remaining 7 miles the next day. The night before we began the hike, however, we began to see trail reports from hikers who managed to complete the whole trail in 6-8 hours, and we figured we might as well go all in and plan on doing it one day. I knew the trail would be tough, but I’m also confident in my health and physical abilities, so I was excited for the challenge. This trail ended up being the most difficult, but most rewarding, hike I’ve ever gone on. The first 6 miles are a steady incline up through a forest, and the steepness gets really serious once you reach the edge of the timberline and finally hike up above the trees. From there, the trail winds through foothills before ending with an insane 2-mile stretch of endless switchbacks up a rock field that leads you to the summit. My dad and I ended up taking about 7 1/2 hours to complete this trail, and I’m so proud we were able to knock it all out in one day. It was a painful but awesome experience, and one of the coolest hikes I’ve ever completed.
Hello all! I am here in beautiful Colorado visiting family, hiking mountains, and enjoying the lovely weather and scenery. This year, my family decided to road trip our way out west instead of flying. We spent 3 days on the road, taking our time to enjoy the changing landscape and feast on some incredible vegan eats. Here’s how we did it…
Georgia — Tennessee — Kentucky
Light layers for driving through humid Southern states.
Tumblr Girls by G-Eazy
Kick, Push by Lupe Fiasco
Into You by Ariana Grande
All My Friends by Snakehips
Let’s Get Lost by G-Eazy
No Church In The Wild by JAY Z
Sucker For Pain by Lil Wayne
We stopped in Nashville at a vegan spot called Graze for an early dinner – and boy was it good. My family ordered a bunch of appetizers and small plates to share and everything was incredible. I recommend the Citrus Caesar salad and Bahn Minis, and be sure to save room for dessert: they had a lemon/blueberry/basil cupcake on the day we went which was a perfect summer treat!
Kentucky — Illinois — Missouri — Kansas
Classic layers for endless plains.
Agnes by Glass Animals
Single by The Neighbourhood
The Heart of Me by Miike Snow
Downtown Love by G-Eazy
This Summer by Maroon 5
Closer by The Chainsmokers
Talk Too Much by COIN
For lunch we stopped by PuraVegan Cafe in St. Louis – this place has some of the freshest and most inventive dishes, from raw wraps and hearty soups to loads of healthy juices and sweet treats. I recommend the Maca Cappuccino and Kale Collard Wrap!
Once dinner rolled around we swung by Cafe Gratitude in Kansas City and oh my gosh, this is probably one of the best vegan restaurants I’ve ever visited. They place a lot of focus on self-empowerment and positivity as seen in their menu: each dish finishes the statement “I Am…” – I recommend the I Am Fabulous (a raw lasagna). Save room for The I Am Eternally Inspired: an insanely delicious chai milkshake!
Kansas — Colorado
Plaid for the mountains and a jacket for chilly mornings.
You Don’t Get Me High Anymore by Phantogram
Nine In The Afternoon by Panic! At The Disco
The Kids Aren’t Alright by Fall Out Boy
Roses by The Chainsmokers
If I Believe You by The 1975
Oh Ms Believer by Twenty One Pilots
I Feel The Weight by Miike Snow
On the last leg of our journey we had one thing on our minds: WaterCourse Foods in Denver, Colorado. This is one of my absolute favorite restaurants – last time we were in Colorado, we ate here 3 separate times, and everything is fantastic! If you get the chance to visit, make sure to try the Cauliflower Wings with buffalo sauce, and I’m also a huge fan of their Berries and Cream Pancake Stack and the Biscuits and Gravy. WaterCourse also has an amazing chai milkshake which always hits the spot (Atlanta seriously needs to step up its vegan milkshake game).
A couple weekends ago, I gave myself a challenge to climb Georgia’s 5 tallest mountains in 48 hours. I ended up accomplishing the challenge in 29 hours and 45 minutes! Check out the video below to hear more about my adventures:
1. Brasstown Bald – 4,783′. Reached summit via Jacks Knob Trail – about 6 miles roundtrip.
(Top of Rabun Bald)
2. Rabun Bald – 4,695′. Reached summit via The Bartram Trail beginning at Beegum Gap – 3 miles roundtrip.
3. *Dicks Knob – 4,619′. Reached summit via Forest Service Road 54B, ATV trails, and bushwhacking – about 5 miles roundtrip.
(Hiking up Dicks Knob)
4. Wolfpen Ridge – 4,560′. Reached summit via Jacks Knob Trail – summit is about 2-2.5 miles into the hike.
5. Blood Mountain – 4,459′. Reached summit via Byron Reece Trail (which then connects to the Appalachian Trail) – about 4.5 miles roundtrip.
(Top of Brasstown Bald)
*Note – while there is some information available on the Internet about how to get to/hike Dicks Knob, I’d strongly recommend contacting a local ranger service or forest watch. They will most likely have the most recent and accurate information.
The other day my friends and I had the rare chance to spend the day together, so we decided to take a spontaneous trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Armed with some good tunes (check out the latest from The 1975 or throw it back with Twenty One Pilots’ self-titled album), an abundance of snacks (peanut butter crackers all the way, baby), and zero plans or expectations, we made the quick drive up to Chattanooga under cloudy skies.
Once in town, we grabbed a bite to eat at Terminal BrewHouse, a relaxed, tasty, and well-priced spot with an awesome rooftop garden (although we did have to seek refuge under some umbrellas once cloudy skies turned into light showers).
Next, we wandered across the street to Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary, the absolute cutest place to grab a cup (or a pot) of tea and do some studying or socializing.
After a relaxing pot of Fairytale Blend tea we meandered over to Warehouse Row, a chill shopping spot residing in a former warehouse, a la Ponce City Market. We wandered through stationery stores, admired the aesthetics of Anthropologie goods (because who has an extra $90 laying around for a tank top?) and freaked out upon the sight of a golden retriever puppy.
We then took the long, hot trek to the other side of Walnut Street Bridge, where we enjoyed fresh juices and snacks at Pura Vida, scoured through record shops and thrift stores, and took a ride on the antique carousel in Coolidge Park.
Once we returned to our side of the bridge, we treated ourselves to some ice cream and made our way back to the car to return home.
All in all, it was a lovely day with lovely people in a lovely town. There’s something so special about taking a spontaneous trip with friends, and I’m glad I was able to spend the day with these beautiful people before we embark on our respective adventures of college, work, and traveling.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a few days to hike a 40 mile section of the Appalachian Trail (the same section I did last month with my dad), but this time around, I hiked it alone and I completed it in 3 days rather than 5.
This section of the Appalachian Trail is absolutely beautiful, and the weather this weekend was perfect. Everything was lush and green, there was a nice breeze all day long, and even though there were definitely some tough sections, I enjoyed every moment of my hike.
Check out my adventures below:
This trip really felt like the beginning of my gap year, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to spend some time on my own in such a beautiful place. Getting to reflect on high school and think towards the future has only made me more excited for this upcoming year.
Until the next adventure,
Lizzie (trail name: Spitz)
Last week, my dad and I spent 5 days hiking the first 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail, starting at Springer Mountain and ending at Hogpen Gap (just past Blood Mountain). This was my first time taking a multi-day hiking/camping trip, and it was an incredible experience. Here’s what I learned along the way:
- Nothing prepares you for the excitement/nervousness of beginning a big hike
- Starting early in the morning can take some getting used to, but you’ll appreciate the cool morning air once the afternoon sun hits
- Wild owls are cool as heck
- The best way to start the day is with a view of the sunrise from the top of a mountain
- The trail may be pretty empty at the beginning of the day…
- But the later the day gets (and the closer you hike to popular campsites), the more hikers you’ll see
- Peeing in the woods is both freeing and terrifying
- While hikers seem mostly divided on whether to use sunscreen or not…
- Bug spray is a must
- Giant millipedes are not cool as heck
- Hitting your mileage goal for the day is super rewarding…
- But having a long afternoon at an isolated campsite on your first day of hiking can get pretty boring
- Setting up camp for the first time can be pretty stressful
- Sleeping in a tent may take some getting used to
- Seeing the stars at night is unreal
- Getting up to pee in the middle of the night is a decision you have to thoroughly think through and commit to
- Candy is a luxury most hikers have no problem carrying extra weight for
- You’ll feel really proud of your 8-mile-a-day average until you talk to other hikers who are averaging 15-20 miles…
- But you’ll learn it’s not a competition and at the end of the day, everyone is equally excited and exhausted
- You can’t skimp out on stocking up on water
- The key to tackling uphills is going slow and steady – stopping and starting is a painful process that will only drain you physically and mentally
- Seeing people in their 60s+ tackling the AT will give you some serious inspiration
- You’ll meet people from all over the country (and sometimes the world)
- Staying in shelters may not be your cup of tea…
- But take the time to get to know your tent neighbors…
- Because you’ll probably end up encountering the same people multiple times on your journey
- If you have a trail name, use it! (even if it’s something pretty uncool, like Spitz)
- Creeks and streams are a literal godsend, and a popular resting spot for hikers of all distances
- 9:00 p.m. is a late night for most hikers – once the sun starts setting, anytime is fair game to turn in for the night
- Make sure to dig a big enough hole when you stop to go #2
- You may think you’re getting an awesome tan, but it’s probably just dirt
- The downhill on Blood Mountain is almost worse than the uphill…
- And you’ll learn that hiking on flat ground is infinitely better than hiking downhill
- Neels Gap feels like a home away from home after a couple days on the trail
- You’ll have a whole new appreciation for things like running water, picnic tables, and bathrooms with actual toilets and toilet paper
- You’ll meet some of the coolest, weirdest, nicest, craziest, and friendliest people on the trail…
- And all it takes is a nice campfire and a round of swapping trail stories or showing off battle wounds to feel like you’ve known your fellow hikers for ages
- People who set up “trail magic” stations deserve medals of honor
- Hiking a section of the trail will only leave you wanting more…
- And hiking any part of it, no matter how big or small, will make you realize how beautiful our world is, and how much of a gift it is to experience, explore, and just exist in it
Sundance Film Festival: the cornerstone of indie filmmaking and a miraculous melting pot of hipsters and rich folk alike. Several years ago, my family had the opportunity to attend several days of Sundance by the grace of God and a conveniently scheduled work trip on my dad’s part. We stayed in a hotel that reminded me of The Shining and spent our days wandering around Salt Lake City, paranoid that we would spot a stray celebrity (which never happened), and catching a few short films through the festival. It was a downright awesome experience and I’m pretty sure I tried to write a script for my own short film on the flight home (which I’m sure will be premiering at Sundance any year now) – so we decided to come back again in 2016 for my 16th birthday.
Although we were staying in Salt Lake City, we spent quite a bit of time in Park City, the true hub of Sundance. Both cities are really cool and beautiful, but strikingly different. Salt Lake City feels very casual and relaxed: there are a lot of vegan restaurant options and health food stores, and everyone looks like they either just woke up from a nap or just got off the ski slopes. Most of the film screenings and festival events, however, are to be found in Park City, a swanky but cozy-feeling town that is overrun by celebrities, filmmakers, and press peeps during festival season (and yet, despite the small size of the town, I never once ran into Joseph Gordon-Levitt). I love being able to spend time in both cities, and I would definitely recommend taking the time to explore both of them. Maybe you prefer the space and chillness of Salt Lake City, or maybe you’ll thrive in the excitement and energy of Park City.
Most of our time in Utah was spent watching films, riding shuttle buses, and sleeping, but we found some time to do a couple other cool activities as well. In Salt Lake, we spent some time in a beautiful, snowy park where I got to take some senior pictures and experience a strange man yelling at me to smile in my pictures. We also took the time to visit Whole Foods about 28 times and check out various vegan restaurants and bakeries, where I consumed an ungodly amount of delicious vegan food. In Park City, we did some book-browsing at local bookshops and checked out New Frontier, a Sundance spot that’s part tech convention, part film festival, and part art gallery, with a big focus on different virtual reality experiences (we got there half an hour after the doors opened and slots to experience The Martian virtual reality were already booked 7 hours out).
Of course, one of the highlights of the week was getting to watch so many amazing films. All in all, we ended up mostly seeing documentaries, although we did manage to catch one nonfiction feature film and a group of New Frontier short films (these films are very experimental in their format and/or plot). Here’s the complete list of what we saw:
“Richard Linklater: dream is destiny”
“Jim: The James Foley Story”
“The Fundamentals of Caring”
“Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper”
Documentary Shorts Program
New Frontier Shorts Program
My favorite films that I had the opportunity to see were “Jim”, “The Fundamentals of Caring”, and several of the documentary short films. One of the coolest parts of getting to see these films was being able to interact with the filmmakers in Q&A sessions that followed the screenings. Hearing their passion for their art and stories, and experiencing the response from the audience, was such a cool and exciting experience that I think is really unique to Sundance.
Despite the undeniable coolness of getting to see a bunch of interesting films in such a beautiful place, the best part of going to Sundance is the people. It can be a bit overwhelming at first to be in so many crowded spaces with all sorts of random people, but it’s actually a really eye-opening experience. You get to people watch and meet so many incredibly talented and awesome people, from the Sundance volunteers, to the locals, and the travelers who are just passing through. Sundance is one of the few places where I can feel comfortable talking to a stranger about what movies they’ve seen and which they liked, and it’s the perfect place to meet people from all over the world and experience an incredible amount of culture, art, and storytelling. Although there may be a few zany grapes in the bunch (looking at you, strange man who yelled at me in the park), the majority of them are just people like you who love to watch and make movies, and there’s nothing more beautiful or inspiring than that.