Category: Uncategorized

My Secret Fear

My Secret Fear

A lot of people tell me I’m SO BRAVE to drive across country by myself, jump out of an airplane, raft down a ten foot waterfall, go hang gliding, or participate in a national oral presentation competition.  Many people think I am fearless.

I am not.  I was never really scared of any of those things (except skydiving, but I eventually did it anyway).

I’m secretly TERRIFIED of parking garages.

When I was 18, I had my first experience in a parking garage as a driver.  I drove in, found a spot, and parked.  Not so different from a parking lot.  When I was done with my school day at University of Florida, I got in my car and followed the exit signs.  As soon as I pulled out and turned the corner, I realized I was trapped in a labyrinth from hell.  Instead of leading me OUT of the garage, following the exit signs led me to the ROOF.  Each time I went up a level, I felt the walls and ceiling closing in on me.  The first ray of sunlight as I entered the roof felt like the door of my jail cell being slammed shut.  I couldn’t breathe.  I need to get out now!  How do I escape?!

I tried to think rationally.  Since I wasn’t actually locked inside the garage, I could park on the roof and scale the side of the building.  But then my car would still be stuck in the garage, so that would have to be the last resort.  For a split second, I considered driving my car off of the roof.

Defeated, I parked on the roof and screamed in frustration.  I felt like it was a setup.  An evil master plan to trap me on the roof of the garage.  And my evil captor had me right where they wanted me.  My whole body was shaking as I tried to catch my breath.  I had to act quickly if I wanted to get out alive.  Sitting in my car on the roof of the garage was not getting me any closer to escaping.  But I had already exhausted all of my ideas.  I wasn’t ready to abandon my car yet.

So I did what any distraught teenager would do:  I called my dad.  He told me to ignore all exit signs and look for a different set of ramps.  I slowly made my way back down through the labyrinth, still feeling like I was behind enemy lines.  Every time I turned a corner, I held my breath waiting to see what new obstacles would appear. When I got to the ground floor, I saw an exit sign that pointed the wrong way.  I felt my stomach tighten at the thought of ending up on the roof again.  Is this it?  Am I trapped inside?

I looped back around the ground floor, and saw a clear path to the exit!  I sped up to get through the exit before any more obstacles could appear.  I finally escaped!  I made it out alive!

Still terrified, I drove straight home and promised myself I would never park in a garage ever again.


Packing for Festival Camping

Packing for Festival Camping

I am leaving for another Festival Camping Trip!  I am so excited because Festival Camping is my favorite!!  Bringing essentials and things that make life easier (and leaving behind things I won’t need) are key to having an amazing time!

I’m flying to Ohio today, so I have limited space – I’m bringing one carry on and one checked bag.

Here are the things I’m bringing.  (Besides the obvious – clothes, socks, and underwear.)

From top to bottom, left to right:

Row 1: Sleeping bag, waterproof blanket, extra throw blanket, and zip ties

  • The waterproof blanket is flannel on one side and waterproof on the other side.  I put it inside my hammock tent, waterproof side down.  If it rains, the moisture doesn’t come through and get my sleeping bag wet.
  • Zip ties come in handy at the campground.  You never know when you’ll need to fasten or secure something.  Make sure you have something to cut it with!


Row 2: Powdered gatorade, toiletries, first aid kit, headlamp, extra long hammock straps, camping towel, and hammock tent

  • Powdered gatorade helps me stay hydrated, especially when I am outside all day.  Keep in mind, you may not be allowed to bring it unless it is factory sealed. (In my checked bag, because it’s more than 12 oz of powder.)
  • Travel sized toiletries are great for camping.  Everything fits in a small ziplock bag.  I am also bringing travel sized deodorant, lip balm, and bar soap that I made.  It’s difficult for me to use store-bought products because I have sensitive skin, so I make my own.  I use the bar soap as shampoo, face, and body wash.
  • Hand sanitizer in case I need to wash my hands and I’m not near a sink.
  • Foaming body wash on a string (held together with a hair tie).  Festival camping showers might not have shelves for me to put my body wash.  If that’s the case, I can put this around my neck and taking a quick shower becomes much easier.
  • Small zipper pouch with first aid.  They will have first aid stations, so I could leave it at home, but I like to have my own stuff.  Inside the orange pouch, I have various latex-free band-aids and different OTC medications in blister packs.  They should allow that inside because it is still in unsealed packaging with a label.  I have benadryl, pepto-bismol tablets, allegra, and prilosec.  Also ibuprofen in a travel tube that holds 10 pills.  Since it’s a short trip, I only have a few of each pill on the blister pack.
  • If you’ve never used a headlamp for camping, you need to try it.  It’s a game-changer.
  • Extra long hammock straps in case there aren’t two perfectly-spaced trees.  It gives me a little more flexibility.
  • Camping towel takes up considerably less space than a regular towel.  It dries much faster, and i can easily hang it in the shower and on my hammock rainfly line with the attached clip.  Another game-changer.
  • I prefer hammock tents, but most people bring a regular tent. In that case, I’d also bring a pillow, but I don’t need one for a hammock.


Row 3:  Cooling towels, water bottle, non-spray sunscreen, baby wipes, tissues, phone charger and portable charger, sunglasses, earplugs, menstrual cup, and a hat

  • Cooling towels help keep me comfortable, especially when standing in the heat all day.
  • Water bottle to get unlimited, free water at the water fill stations.  Also, I stop at the store and buy a few gallons of water to drink at the campground.  They always say they have free/cheap bottled water, but I’ve never had an easy time finding it.
  • Some festivals don’t allow spray sunscreen.  To make it easier, I just get the lotion kind. (In my checked bag because it’s more than 3 oz.)
  • Baby wipes are great for cleaning yourself when you might not have easy access to a sink or shower in case of emergency.
  • Tissues – because sometimes the toilets run out of toilet paper.


Row 4: Fuzzy pajamas, hoodie, thermal leggings, poncho, comfy shoes, slippers, and flip flops

  • Fuzzy pajamas in case it gets cold.  Gotta stay comfortable.
  • I’m bringing shoes I bought for mud-obstacle-course races.  I don’t care if they get dirty, and they are very comfortable for walking around all day.
  • Slippers in case it’s cold at the camp site.  I take my shoes off before getting in the hammock.
  • If it’s warm, sometimes I prefer flip flops.

Not pictured:  Snacks, breakfast bars, and power bars for the campground.  Also, after a unanimous Instagram poll, I decided to bring my espresso pot and Cuban coffee!

Check my instagram stories to see the progress of my trip!

Have you been festival camping?  What are some of your essentials?




Epic Adventures: Hiking to Mt. Everest Base Camp with Manish

Epic Adventures: Hiking to Mt. Everest Base Camp with Manish

Are you looking for new ideas for adventures to try?  In my Epic Adventures series, I interviewed some friends (and then made new friends to interview!) in search of adventures I’ve never heard of.

This we meet Manish Balakrishnan, who helps startups takeoff by handling the business side so that they can focus on production. His website is DSHG Sonic.  Manish talks about the time and some friends flew to Nepal and ended up deciding to hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp on a whim.

Letter To A Friend Struggling With Failure

Letter To A Friend Struggling With Failure

About a year ago, I was at a healing retreat in New Mexico.  On each person’s last day, they had a tradition of burning artwork and writing that represented parts of you that you want to leave behind, and to give away (or take home) items that represent parts of you that you would like to flourish.  Most of the people I had spent the most time with and grown close to recently left the retreat.  So it was difficult for me to decide how to give things away to the people who had just arrived.  I noticed a lot of them talked about having a paralyzing fear of failure (which I do not have).  So I wrote a letter “to a friend who is struggling with feelings of failure.”  If you feel like you have failed to have enough travel or adventures in your life (or at any other aspect of your life), you might find it helpful to see things from a new perspective.  Here’s what I wrote:

Hi friend,
I hear you are struggling with feelings of failure.  So I thought you might like to hear from an expert in failing.
You see, I am a manufacturing automation engineer.  In plain English, that means I fix robots that make cookies and ice cream.  When something breaks, it’s up to me to fix it, even if I don’t know what the problem is.  Many times, I am called to fix something even if I don’t know how it works or what it does!
Needless to say, it would be impossible to walk in and immediately fix the broken part and be done.
When the ice cream machine breaks down, I have to fail many times before the machine is fixed.  Is the machine plugged in?  Yep.  Damn, I failed at fixing it.  Is the power on?  Damn, failed again.  Maybe I should go home before I get fired.  Sometimes I might fail 100 times without fixing a single thing.
It’s not about making sure things go smoothly all the time.  It’s what you do about it when things go wrong.  Do you give up?  Or do you keep trying new things until you figure out something that works?  You see, each one of those failures is not inherently negative.  Instead, look at each failure as gaining information.  Ok, so the problem with the ice cream machine probably isn’t related to the power source.
What happens when you don’t know the next step?  Is that when you go home?  No, at my job, I am not required to know everything off the top of my head.  Sometimes I have to look things up or even consult an expert.  You too, are not required to know everything.  There are plenty of resources, and an amazing community to reach out to.  It is very likely that someone else has struggled with the same problem that you are having, and can offer insight.  And there’s always an expert to reach out to.
So the next time you feel like you have failed, just remember to step back and try to see what information you can gain out of the experience.  And if you are persistent in your quest, there just might be ice cream on the other side.




5 Easy Ways to Squeeze Travel Into Your Busy Schedule

5 Easy Ways to Squeeze Travel Into Your Busy Schedule

Do you wish you could add more trips to your busy life?  Do you scroll through Instagram and wonder how people have time to travel so much?  Here are five easy ways to squeeze travel into your busy schedule:

  1. Schedule your vacation time – Does your job offer vacation time?  Have you ever spent the whole year “saving” vacation time just in case, and ended up using it at the end of December before it expired?  Try this instead:  Think of your dream vacation destination.  What’s the best time of year to go there?  As soon as you acquire more vacation time, block off a week or two during that time of year.  Already have plans to use your vacation?  Is it a planned event, or a “someday” dream of going somewhere?  Scheduling your work’s vacation time is a great strategy for longer trips (1-2 weeks).  I want to go on a shark SCUBA dive in Nassau in the winter.  I will pick a week in December or January to block off, and then schedule my trip around that.  If you find a better travel deal on a different date, you can always tell your boss to change it.  If you’re flying somewhere to go SCUBA diving, don’t forget to schedule an off-gas day!
  2. Holidays – A holiday (three- or four-day weekend) is a great time to travel.  Since airlines jack up the prices during holidays, a better strategy might be to plan a backcountry outdoor adventure nearby.  When I lived in Phoenix, a group of friends and I went camping in Prescott National Park for Labor Day Weekend.  It was gorgeous! 
  3. Weekend Getaway – Only have two consecutive days free?  No problem!  When I was in Portland, OR, I took a weekend trip to San Francisco to visit friends from college.  We went kayaking in the San Francisco bay with wind surfers.  Note:  longer flights or car/train/bus rides and crossing multiple time zones may severely limit the time at your destination.  In extreme cases, I’ve packed a whole weekend’s worth of adventures with only one day off.
  4. Day Trip – Can’t break away for more than one day?  That’s ok!  Travel does not have to mean spending all day and night getting to a far away destination. See if there’s somewhere you’d like to go within a few hours from home.  When I lived in Atlanta, I took a day trip to Lookout Mountain to go hang gliding.
  5. Staycation – Have you ever explored your hometown (or current location) as if you were a visitor traveling there on vacation?  Check out that art gallery you’ve always wanted to see.  Or the rose garden.  Go on that hike you’ve always wanted to try.  Bonus if you have friends or family that can join you from out of town.  It will seem more like a trip because it is a trip for them!  While living in Miami, I took my mom and nephew on an airboat ride in the Everglades.  What gems does your location have to offer?

Travel does not necessarily involve having unlimited time off of work.  With a little strategy and planning, you can travel more, too!  What are your favorite ways to make time for travel?

Dog Kissing Booth Costume + Behind the Scenes Video

Dog Kissing Booth Costume + Behind the Scenes Video

My dog had the cheapest, easiest to make, and cutest costume – a dog kissing booth.  I literally cut a hole in a box with a case cutter and then wrote on the box in sharpie.  It only took 10 minutes.  Here’s what it looked like:

Adorable!  But getting the video was a lot harder than I expected.  I wasn’t sure how to get the box to stay around the dog’s head.  But it didn’t matter because she wanted nothing to do with the box.  So how did I get such a cute boomerang?  In the video, I walk you through the problems I had and how I worked around them.  I show you how you can recreate this scene, even if your dog hates the box.

Like this post? Don’t miss out on any adventures! Subscribe to my email list, and get email notifications for new posts!

Don't miss out on any adventures! Join my email list:

Cross-Country Road Trip Summary

Cross-Country Road Trip Summary

I am in the middle of a cross-country road trip from Washington State to Dallas, Texas.  Here’s a summary of where I’ve been and what I’ve done so far.

  • Made high quality handmade soap in Bellingham, Washington.
  • Attempted to go to Vancouver, BC, but was unable to get into Canada.
  • Got some awesome local advice in Eugene, OR.  Ended up taking the scenic route through Oregon.
  • Drove through McKenzie Pass from Eugene to Sisters.  Breathtaking views!
  • Experienced Umpqua Hot Springs.
  • Almost ran out of gas in Crater Lake and the only gas station was closed for the night.  Ended up hammock tent camping in the snow, unprepared.  It was better than any camping trip I could have ever planned.  Life-changing!
  • Went camping in the redwoods way off the grid. I met some very nice, very interesting people.
  • Stayed in Monterey and enjoyed the scenic coast.
  • Drove down the Pacific Coast highway.
  • Visited a friend from college and went on an awesome hike.
  • Accidentally ended up in Las Vegas.  Stayed on the strip for $30.
  • Saw Zion and Grand Staircase National Monument in Southern Utah.

I’m going to do a few more days of hiking in Utah, then down to the Grand Canyon North Rim. Then head to Flagstaff and Sedona.

For pictures of all the above experiences, check out the Road Trip photo albums my my facebook page.

The underlying lesson of this trip:  You miss out on many opportunities and adventure if you never leave the house.

The full blog series:

Road Trip Part 1: Cross-Country Road Trip: Washington and Oregon

Road Trip Part 2: Cross-Country Road Trip: California and the accidental stop in Las Vegas

Road Trip Part 3: Cross-Country Road Trip: Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico

Road Trip Part 4: Cross-Country Road Trip: Texas

Road Trip Part 5: Cross-Country Road Trip: Mississppi, New Orleans, and arrival in Florida