Hell’s Gate National Park – Kenya

gorgeblog-111

After our Water Safari on Lake Naivasha we drove a short distance to Hell’s Gate National Park, which is about an hour’s drive from Nairobi, Kenya. The park is unique because all of the animals that live inside are non-predators so you can walk around without any danger. This was our first experience seeing any large animals while in Africa so we were absolutely floored when we started driving through roads with zebras staring back at us! The hills and cliffs surround the plains make for a very picturesque and fun experience.

gorgeblog-109 gorgeblog-108 gorgeblog-106 gorgeblog-107 gorgeblog-105 gorgeblog-102 gorgeblog-103 gorgeblog-101 gorgeblog-100

A lot of people go to Hell’s Gate for rock-climbing and hiking and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun day trip from Nairobi. I think the park would especially be great for those who have kids traveling with them because it is easy to let them run around and see the animals.

The park gets its name from the volcanic activity that once occurred here, though the volcanoes are now extinct. The old volcanoes created some really interesting gorges and hot springs in the park and the short hike is definitely worth a visit. Recognize these gorges? Some movies have been filmed here – most notably Tomb Raider 2.

gorgeblog-112gorgeblog-113gorgeblog-116gorgeblog-115gorgeblog-120gorgeblog-118

Overall, Hell’s Gate is a great day trip from Nairobi or stop along your way to Maasai Mara. It’s a low key park experience and great way to see some animals while hiking.

LIKE THIS POST? Check out Lake Naivasha Water Safari or Maasai Mara: Sunset Game Drive

The Glacier Lagoon

glacierlagoonBLOG-120The Glacier Lagoon – isn’t that just the best name?? It reminds me of the mermaid lagoon in Peter Pan. Anyways, the Glacier Lagoon, or as it is formally known, Jökulsárlón, was very high on our list of places to visit in Iceland. I had seen photos of the glacial lake with floating icebergs on Pinterest and knew I just had to see it will my own eyes.

When we started planning our Iceland road trip driving route, we discovered that Jökulsárlón was about a 5 hour drive from Rejkavik and decided to make our way there slowly over the coarse of several days. We stopped constantly along our drive to visit all of the incredible waterfalls, lighthouses, and beaches – but that’s a story for another post. We finally arrived at the Glacier Lagoon late in the evening, but luckily for us it does not really get dark until after 11pm in Iceland’s summer. The late evening light allowed us to get a little bit of time at the lagoon.

glacierlagoonBLOG-111 glacierlagoonBLOG-118 glacierlagoonBLOG-119 glacierlagoonBLOG-122

The blue ice of the glacier made the most beautiful patterns in the icebergs. The blue color of the water seemed unreal to us – like someone dumped food coloring in the water. Similarly to our experiences in the rest of Iceland, the landscape made us feel as if we were on another planet or inside of a postcard.

glacierlagoonBLOG-127 glacierlagoonBLOG-131 glacierlagoonBLOG-132 glacierlagoonBLOG-161 glacierlagoonBLOG-159

So, part of the ‘adventure’ of our Icelandic road trip was that we did not pre-book hotels or accommodations. We liked the idea of being able to ‘go wherever the road takes us’ and travel off the beaten path. I know this is not everyone’s idea of fun, but it worked out really well for us – at least until we got to this remote area of Iceland. There are only a couple of hotels in the area around Jökulsárlón and all of the them were full, so we ended up sleeping in our rental car – with a beautiful view of the lagoon!

The above photos were taken around 3am, so this shows you how light it is in Iceland during the summer nights. The combination of the cold and the light made our night feel very long, but it’s a great story to tell! Funnily enough, there were many other people in our same situation and there were several other cars around us all night. The photo below was taken the next morning after our night in the car.

glacierlagoonBLOG-130glacierlagoonBLOG-136

There are boat tours of the lagoon available as well, but we opted to get a head start on our drive back to Rejkavik instead of waiting for the tour companies to open. After six weeks of touring, we were a little done with group tours haha.

glacierlagoonBLOG-137 glacierlagoonBLOG-138 glacierlagoonBLOG-144 glacierlagoonBLOG-148

The day before this was full of strong rain and hail, so after that and a night in the car, my hair was beginning to form dread locks. It was fun to brush out, let me tell you.

glacierlagoonBLOG-133glacierlagoonBLOG-152 glacierlagoonBLOG-128

We managed to get a photo together – looking a little ragged after the rain and night in the car, but happy to be at the Glacier Lagoon!

glacierlagoonBLOG-156

And then we saw some seals swimming around in the lagoon!

glacierlagoonBLOG-112glacierlagoonBLOG-163

Before we left, we drove over the bridge to watch the ice float into the ocean. The melting ice on the black sand beach was so eerily beautiful.

glacierlagoonBLOG-103glacierlagoonBLOG-106glacierlagoonBLOG-100

We would highly recommend a stop at the Glacier Lagoon if you are visiting Iceland. The long drive is worth it!

PS: LIKE THIS POST? Check out The Sahara Desert or Hot Air Balloons over Cappadocia

The Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

The Sahara Desert. How could a bunch of sand be so breathtaking? We were not sure what to expect out of our quick trip to the edge of the Sahara, but for some reason we were both pretty adamant that we needed to get there while in Morocco.

There are plenty of desert tours leaving from Marrakech, but the ones we found initially took tourists to smaller deserts a few hours drive from the city. We didn’t want just any desert – we wanted the Sahara. No more, no less. So, we enlisted the help of our amazing Airbnb hosts and with all of our broken French and English finally came up with a solution. In order to get to the Sahara we would need to hire a driver to take us 11 hours by car to the area around the  border of Algeria and Morocco – and we said yes.

Our 24-hour round trip drive through Morocco is a whole other blog post, so I will simply begin with when we jumped on our camels (please say you noticed our shadows in the first photo). Once we arrived at the edge of the dunes, we were rushed over to a large group of other tourists and camels to make sure we had enough time to see the sunset before it got dark. Before we could really think too much about it, we were both on top of camels without our overnight bags (they said our backpacks were too big for the camels and sent us off for the night without them). We could see some dunes in the distance, but were not sure what to expect when all of the sudden the flat terrain became this:

Sahara-Desert-126

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

The colors in the sand and the sky were just incredible. I could not stop taking photos of the shadows and lines created by the setting sun on the warm colored sand. After about a half-hour on the camel we realized that riding a camel was much less comfortable than we would have liked – but we pressed on. Some of the other people in the group opted for riding on the roofs of small SUV’s instead of a camel ride (we were a little jealous).

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

After about an hour or so on the camels we came to a high point and were told to get off the camels to watch the sunset. It did not disappoint. I think the photo of Dave below will always be one of my favorites.

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

The colors in the sky once the sun set were just amazing.

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

I had to at least try to shake all of the sand out of my hair, but that was a joke. I am still finding sand in the bottom of bags and in between zippers. After watching the sunset, we got back on our camels to head to camp.

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

When we got to camp we just had to laugh. Our safari experience over this past summer really spoiled us and we thought that when they said “tent camp” we would find beds and running water. Not so. We found ourselves sleeping on the sand with a bunch of blankets inside these tents. Did you know that it can be about 30 degrees and freezing in the desert? We sure found out. However, the stars along were worth the freezing temperatures and lack of bathrooms.

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

Being surrounded by stars and dunes felt very other worldly. (I might have talked a lot about how I felt like I was in a Star Wars movie and referenced Rey many times with sitting on dunes). Our guide woke us up around 5 am and helped us on to our camels while it was still dark so we could watch the beautiful sunrise over the dunes.

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

We were pretty dang excited when our hour long morning camel trek was over and we got to brush our teeth, but we promise the Sahara was worth it!  What a gorgeous, gorgeous place.

Sahara Desert Tour Morocco Camel Ride Travel

If you ever get the chance to see the Sahara – go, go, go!!

LIKE THIS POST? Check out Riding Elephants in Chiang Mai or Hot Air Balloons over Cappadocia

Maasai Mara: Sunset Game Drive

safaridayoneblog-100The Mara. This was a term we heard countless times when the locals would talk about going on safari. What is “The Mara”? It’s a huge game reserve that spans across Kenya and Tanzania (in Tanzania it becomes the Serengeti)  covered in grasslands. I had always wanted to go on Safari and ‘The Mara’ sounded like the perfect place.

We were pretty darn ignorant about the process of ‘going on safari’ when we arrived in Kenya and thought it would be easy to book a quick trip to see some animals. That assumption was sort of true -showing up to Nairobi with concrete plans and expecting to go on safari is a little bit more complicated than we thought though. For one, safaris are much more expensive to book than we’d assumed (whoops) and there are literally hundreds of different options to sift through! We were lucky to have someone who’d lived in Kenya for over a decade guide us through the options and walk us though the process. We ended up booking a three day trip thought a tour service and decided to drive (rather than fly) from Nairobi to Maasai Mara.

We were the only two people on our tour so our guide picked us up directly from our accommodations and we began the five hour trek to the Mara.  The first few hours of the drive were your typical African-paved-road-driving-experience but the last hour or so was the bumpiest, loudest road I have ever been on (and that is saying a lot). All Dave and I could do when we were driving was laugh, yell to each other and hold on tightly. We felt a lot of relief when we reached the game park’s smooth dirt roads. Our guide drove us straight to our hotel to check in and then we immediately left for a sunset game drive!

safaridayoneblog-112safaridayoneblog-107safaridayoneblog-110

Our guide popped the roof of our van up so we could stand and take photos for the duration of our drive. We were promptly greeted by herds and herds of zebra when we began driving through the grasslands and some of the most breath-taking views. We looked at each other several times as we hung out the roof of a van surrounded by wild life and the African sun dropping and asked, ‘are we really here???”

safaridayoneblog-108safaridayoneblog-111We saw a couple of lions this first game drive, but we got better shots later on in our stay, so if lions are your thing, check back later!

safaridayoneblog-129safaridayoneblog-115

At one point Dave pointed out this lone giraffe on the horizon and we both freaked out a bit about our first giraffe sighting. Our guide informed us that giraffes really only go off alone if they are old and preparing to die, to that killed the mood a little, but hey, we were still excited about the giraffe! Don’t worry, we saw some giraffe families later on as well!

safaridayoneblog-114safaridayoneblog-113safaridayoneblog-131

And then the sun started to set and we couldn’t believe how beautiful the savannah looked bathed in the golden light.

safaridayoneblog-130safaridayoneblog-128safaridayoneblog-127safaridayoneblog-122safaridayoneblog-133safaridayoneblog-148safaridayoneblog-151safaridayoneblog-149safaridayoneblog-162safaridayoneblog-141

Beautiful, right? Even for a non-animal-lover like me the African savannah was just majestic. We will be posting more photos from the safari later, so come on back for some cheetahs!

PS: LIKE THIS POST? CHECK OUT Hot Air Balloons over Cappadocia or Lake Naivasha Water Safari

Hot Air Balloons over Cappadocia

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

When we stepped off of our in-country flight from Istanbul to central Turkey we looked around and almost wondered if we’d stepped into another planet – or at least a science-fiction story. The landscape of Cappadocia (a name we heard pronounced about 25 different ways so don’t ask us how to say it) is breath-taking and incredibly unique. When we were researching the region we continuously saw it described as ‘other-wordly’ and now that we have been there I feel that it is the best description I could give.

The region is known for it’s rock formations, often called “fairy chimneys“, that are scattered around the landscape -and once housed monks and ancient Christian communities. In more recent years the local community began taking hot air balloons above the canyons in order to get a sweeping view of the landscape. Tourists became interested in these sunrise rides and the business has taken off (no pun intended – okay fine, yes it was) in a major way. I first heard of these famous sun rise balloon rides on pinterest, but seeing my friend Katie’s photos of her experience was the thing that moved Cappadocia up to the top of my bucket list. When I discovered that Turkish Airlines was a member of Star Alliance I knew that Turkey was going to be a stop on our way home from Africa – and I am so glad we made it!

Before I jump right into photos from our beautiful hot air balloon ride I feel I must properly introduce the story, lest you start to believe that our travels are always all sunshine and rainbows. I ended up with a bad case of food poisoning the week we were in Turkey that was compounded by what I later learned was a minor parasite party happening inside me like it was 1999 -so I was pretty tired, nauseous and weak during our time in Cappadocia. Since we were in Turkey in the summer, the sun rose very early in the day and we were scheduled to be picked up for the tour at 3:45 am (yikes) and I spent the few hours of the night before this hot air balloon ride shaking uncontrollably with fever and nausea…so rough start. Dave almost made me cancel the ride, but I put on my game face and pretended I felt better (fake it til you make it, am I right?). I am so grateful that I felt better during the first part of our balloon ride (thank you adrenaline) bout mid-way through the hot air balloon ride I was having trouble standing and was ready for it to be over. We ended up going to the emergency room a few hours later but the Turkish doctors had me feeling better by night fall. So, no permanent harm done, but my memories from this morning are a little hazy! I am thankful I can re-live that morning through photos months later.

Okay, so now that you know the back story, here is what the valley looked like as the tour groups began firing up the balloons in the blue light of early morning…

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

Once they had our balloon inflated and upright they let it float above ground for a minute or so before urging us to hurry and get in. We took a few steps back and jumped up on the basket while they hoisted us over and, before I really had time to panic over my fear of heights, we were off!

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

Beautiful right?? I would have loved to get some more photos of fairy chimneys but they were not on our side of the balloon so our view often looked like the photo below. I had no idea that hot air balloons cannot be steered until I was already in one (probably for the best). Did you know that hot air balloons can only be steered up and down and not side ways? We were at the mercy of the wind.

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

This is about the point where I began holding on to the sides of the basket and praying for a very quick landing. Any of you wondering how they land these things? Well you are in luck because Dave Baker had the camera during the landing and he documented the process for you!

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

Our tour company Turkiye Balloons was amazing and we loved our pilot! I normally would have loved their landing ceremonies – but all I wanted at this point was a place to lie down. Dave, however, enjoyed both of our champagne toasts and accepted our landing certificate on my behalf.

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

We also took a few photos with our GoPro to get a wider perspective of our view and also to get in a few selfies of us in the hot air balloon.

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone and everyone. We loved our hot air balloon ride, and for those of you who also have a fear or heights, though I had a brief panic feelings, I mostly felt calm about floating in the balloon. If you ever find yourself in Turkey this experience is definitely worth a detour!

LIKE THIS POST? Check out Driving the Snæfellsnes Peninsula or Riding Elephants in Chiang Mai

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cappadocia, Turkey. Bucket list. Travel. Kapadokya. Adventure.

Snowzilla

snowdayblog-1

Just in case you were under a rock this past week and some how missed it – Washington, DC had a blizzard this week! We stayed warm and cozy in our apartment on Saturday making lots of coffee (as evidenced by the photos of Dave grinding coffee beans in bulk). Our little cacti collection tried to stay warm by the windows as the snow fell – and it actually got to be about three times that amount on the window sill by Sunday!

snowdayblog-3snowdayblog-5

We eventually ventured outside on Sunday when the snow finally stopped coming down and the snow plows started running. Capitol Hill was the quietest I had ever seen it and the snow made our neighborhood look like a postcard. I loved watching the Washingtonians step out of their homes and walk down the center of normally busy streets with pure wonder in their eyes. Washington, DC is not exactly a town that usually stops and slows down, so it was such a treat to be forced to slow the city down for a few days.

snowdayblog-10 snowdayblog-11 snowdayblog-12 snowdayblog-13

Yea, it’s been five days since the snow started falling and we haven’t attempted to move our car yet…we may need to borrow a snow shovel! Many thanks to the people in the photo below who were in walking distance during the blizzard and shared board game nights and brunch with us while snowed in. You were great blizzard buddies!

snowdayblog-14

PS – Anyone remember last years snow days? They were epic, but the snow fall was no were near this years! Snow days are probably my favorite thing about winter.

Puffins!!

puffinblog-1-2

In an attempt to get back into the rhythm of blogging regularly, I have decided to write some simple blog posts that make me happy. Soooo today’s blog post is about puffins! Although I am admittedly not a huge animal lover or bird watcher, I have a soft spot for the adorable arctic puffin. I first fell in love with the puffin when I spotted them from a boat on my way to Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland when I was in college (speaking of Skellig Michael, um, STAR WARS!!) and have loved their weird faces ever since.

I had high hopes of seeing these elusive little birds on our trip to Iceland over the summer, but had been told not to count on it. One day when we were driving up the coast we stopped at an epic lighthouse (more on that later) during a rail and hail storm. When we were getting back into our car we saw a crowd of people by a nearby cliff. We reluctantly went over to see what all the fuss was about and, to my delight, there were a few hundred puffins!!

I later learned that days with bad weather are some of the best days to see puffins because they seek shelter on land. When we were driving back to  Reykjavik the next day we stopped to see the puffins again (because, why not?) and many of them were still there hanging in the sunshine. These puffin photos were taken on both days so don’t be confused by the different weather conditions. Without further ado, the puffins:

puffinblog-2 puffinblog-4 puffinblog-9

I should have taken a wide shot so you could see just how many puffins there were, but I didn’t think of it while I was there. (too much puffin love to think about blogging) However, here is a shot of some of them in the water and there were a ton more on the cliffs and in the air.

puffinblog-1-4 puffinblog-1-5puffinblog-5 puffinblog-1-3puffinblog-8 puffinblog-13 puffinblog-14 puffinblog-15 puffinblog-16 puffinblog-20 puffinblog-21 puffinblog-22 puffinblog-23 puffinblog-25

Aren’t the so weirdly adorable? I am a little embarrassed of how many puffin photos I have on my hard drive, but then again, I am not.

Have you ever had a puffin sighting??

PS: Like this post? Check out Driving the Snæfellsnes Peninsula or Lake Naivasha Water Safari

If we had a cup of coffee…(2016 Edition)

2015-Nine_Square_Grid-2This January if we had a cup of coffee -sat down at a local coffee shop to have a heart to heart- it’d be a little different than previous years. For one, it would have coconut milk for creamer (whole 30 anyone??) or maybe I would make you Turkish tea or grind you some Ethiopian beans. 2015 was certainly one for the books (and I swear it will eventually be one for the blog too – I am struggling to get back into routines)

Seriously though, this year’s coffee talk would be different than the cup of coffee we had last January. Or the January before that. The past few years of Dave and I living in Washington DC have been so sweet, but 2011, 2012, 2013, & 2014? They had us asking all kinds of questions about the future. We showed up in the nation’s capital in 2011 as 22-year-old newlyweds planning to stay for 1-2 years…and five years of DC-living later? We have no plans to leave.

I started 2015 with a lot of confusion. I’d embarked on my freelance photography journey back in 2013 with plans of Dave joining me and eventually quitting his job in the medical field, but by January 2015 it still hadn’t happened. We weren’t sure if quitting his job meant finding another job or freelancing too, but we knew he was feeling ready to move on. However, no option ever felt ‘right’. I had also spent a lot of time dreaming about Dave and I leaving DC to travel and work on projects for a few months, but wasn’t sure how to make that leap.

Less than 48 hours after I wrote last year’s “coffee blog post” Dave received a call that threw a completely unexpected twist in our 2015 plans. The call was from Kate, founder and director of Bittersweet Creative. Dave and I had been freelancing photography and video projects for Bittersweet and contributing to their publication, Bittersweet Monthly, for a couple of years and had just come back from a 2015 planning retreat with their team. Kate was calling to see if Dave would be interested in coming onto the Bittersweet team full time – and we were honestly shocked by the phone call.

We all took some time (ie:months) to think, pray, and talk over the decision and throughout those weeks we really felt the Lord leading us toward Bittersweet and their vision. Dave accepted the position in May 2015, but the start date was not until September. A time gap that felt perfect for some extended traveling. We got to work over the next 8 weeks booking a few projects overseas to help with the costs of travel, notified our landlord, sold most of our furniture, packed up our remaining belongings for storage and bought one way tickets to Uganda.

The next six weeks were a blur of languages, hotels, and currencies but I think I will always look back at that time with Dave as one of the sweetest of my life. (We ended up traveling to Germany, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Turkey & Iceland) It felt like a loving gift from God as an unexpected fulfillment of a long-held dream and a confirmation that the Lord was still leading us to Washington, DC four years after he’d originally led us here. As incredible as our time traveling was, we both felt a peace about returning home when we boarded our last flight from Reykjavik to Washington.

We spent a few weeks after returning to the states visiting our families and enjoyed time lakeside and oceanside. Then, we began a chaotic eight weeks of couch surfing with (incredible) friends in the Washington, DC area as we settled back in and looked for a new place to live. We were amazed by the community who surrounded us and offered up their guest rooms and air mattresses while we settled. What an undeserved blessing. We (finally!!) moved into a new apartment in November which marked just about five months of living the nomad-life. I swear I will never take using dresser drawers rather than a suitcase for granted again. Our current apartment is on the opposite side of town and we ended up with a lower monthly rent than we were even hoping for (hallelujah – another unexpected blessing).

The resettlement process has been both wonderfully easy and also hard – highs and lows, if you will. The easy part was stepping back into the community that we love and the hard part was most definitely having our life in a constant state of chaos as we lived without an apartment. It’s also been a stretch financially – it’s amazing what four weeks of international vacationing will do to your savings account. But, we are settling into our new space and beginning to refurnish our apartment and rebuild the savings account – slowly but surely.

When I entered 2015 I was praying for harvest after what felt like 4 years of planting and growing. In so many ways 2015 was a harvest. As I look at 2016 I see it as a year to begin planting once again. We’ve spent the last few months tilling the land and preparing for planting, now we are ready to get down on our hands and knees and plant seeds. It’s time to expand our fields and grow some deep roots. I am not expecting easy, in fact, I feel like the Lord is just going to keep on teaching more and more about practicing contentment. I feel like the Lord has really stretched me this year and as a result he has beckoned me to grow, but I still have a whole lot to learn.

Hello, New Year, we are coming for you.

Like this post? Check out If We Had a Cup of Coffee or Practicing Contentment or Love Me Some Home