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Category Archives: Travel

Mt. Tamalpais – Matt Davis/Steep Ravine Loop

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Today’s hike was pretty spectacular. This loop was recommended by a website I’ve been using to choose from the seemingly endless hiking trails in the Bay Area, and it was definitely a great choice!

It had a little of everything – winding, shaded trails lined with ferns and moss-covered trees, cute wooden bridges over creeks that tumble down into waterfalls, exposed trails over grassy hilltops with views to the ocean, scrubby coastal plants, savory-smelling bay groves, and even towering redwoods. It felt like someone had sliced up all the hikes I’ve done so far on this trip, picked the best bits of each, and shoved them together into a seamless 7.3 mile, 3.5 hour hike. Read more →

Point Reyes National Seashore – Alamere Falls

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Here’s another hiking update for you! And by “you,” I probably mean me, several years later, when I want to remember cool things I’ve done. And probably my family. (Hi mom!)

Yesterday, a friend and I did the Palomarin to Alamere Falls hike at Point Reyes National Seashore, and it was amazing and exhausting. Alamere Falls is a waterfall that flows into the ocean, and it was an incredible destination. It took us about 5.5 hours (with a decent stop for lunch once we got to the falls), and the route we took was about 10 miles.  Read more →

Muir Woods – Bootjack/TCC/Ben Johnson Loop

IMG_1771I just wanted to share a quick post about an amazing hike I accidentally went on last week! The hike is at Muir Woods National Monument, which is an extremely popular destination in Marin county for seeing redwoods. First, I must tell you the the story of how I mistakenly went on one of the best hikes in the region, but afterwards I promise I’ll tell you about the hike itself. I even drew you a map. So bear with me.

Because I hate crowds, especially when I’m hiking, I opted to visit the park on a rainy weekday, and was intending to just amble around casually for a couple hours. I figured I’d check it out, look at the trails, bask in the redwoods, and then plan to come back for a proper hike at a later date when I was more prepared.

Well. I got a little lost. Read more →

Study Abroad in Perth, Western Australia: Reflections and Tips

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So, I may have started writing this post back in January. You know, when I actually returned from my study abroad trip. But then I got buried under a pile of biochemistry and genetics, and have just now dug myself out to enjoy the last breaths of spring, before North Carolina whacks me in the face with summer in all of its 243% humidity glory.

So that’s where I’m at right now. But now that it’s summer, I have a little more free time. I was considering what to do with this free time, and I thought “by golly, I think I’ll write a blog post!” (Yes, I actually thought ‘by golly.’ Welcome to my internal monologue.)

Do you want to know how many times I Google searched “study abroad in Australia” (and numerous other permutations of that phrase) while I was planning my trip? Too. Dang. Many. So in case you obsessively responsibly plan everything like I do and you found this post by performing a similar Google search, here is what I’d like to tell you about studying abroad in Australia.

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Last day of our NZ road trip

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On the last full day of our NZ road trip, we drove from Rotorua to the Waitomo caves for a tour. We left about an hour early, but I got lost driving there, so we ended up arriving exactly on time. It definitely made for a bit of a stressful morning, though!

The tour was really neat. The tour guide drove us through a beautiful farm with rolling green hills in all directions to get to the caves, and then we all got helmets with headlights for walking through the cave. We couldn’t see much at first, but then we got on a boat and everyone turned their lights off so our eyes could adjust, and there were glowworms completely covering the ceiling! Their blue lights reflected in the water below, too, so it was absolutely beautiful. And it was completely silent too, except for the sound of the waterfall in the distance, so it was quite peaceful. After that we went into another cave to see some rock formations, which was interesting, but the really cool part of the tour was seeing the glowworms from the boat. Read more →

Rotorua

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Everything we did in Rotorua was awesome! In the morning, we had a ziplining canopy tour, which was easily one of my favorite things we’ve done. We got super lucky with our tour group, because an entire family was late for the tour and we left without them, so we ended up having two awesome guides and just four other people (including Sarah and myself) on the tour. Normally, I think it would’ve been about ten people, and that would’ve meant a lot more waiting around for other people to zipline.

The forest we were in was absolutely beautiful, and I would’ve been happy just hiking through it. But we got to zipline through it, and walk over swinging bridges high up in the air in between. If you know me, you know how much I love trees and forests, and I’m pretty sure everyone loves ziplining, so this was basically the best thing ever. Read more →

Geothermal Day

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Today was busy but pretty low key, especially compared to yesterday. We got on the road by 8:30 this morning to head to Taupo, and we were both pretty glad to leave the National Park hostel. The drive wasn’t too long, and once we got to Taupo, we spent a couple hours walking to Huka Falls and back. It wasn’t spectacular or anything, especially compared to yesterday, but it was a pretty easy walk, which was perfect since we’re both a little sore. Read more →

Tongariro Alpine Crossing #legday

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Today turned out to be pretty awesome. Now that it’s over, I can say that I was definitely nervous yesterday about doing this hike. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered one of the best one-day hikes in the world, and it’s really popular with tourists visiting New Zealand. Since so many people do it, I guess we just didn’t figure it would be too intense, so Sarah and I were kind of chill about the whole thing. But when we arrived at our hostel and talked to the guy about doing the hike, he told us there would be lots of snow at the top, with winds up to 40km per hour and below-freezing temperatures. Luckily, we were able to borrow gloves and I was able to borrow snow pants, but I think both of us were still pretty anxious about it last night. Read more →

West Coast Fail

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, Alyssa hasn’t written a blog post in three days! She must be way too busy doing amazing New Zealand-y things to write.” Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly the case.

Let’s see, I think the last time I checked in was Thanksgiving. We were in Franz Josef, and we were booked on a heli-hike of the glacier for the next day, where a helicopter would fly us onto the glacier and we would get to hike around and see blue ice and other cool stuff.

Well, we checked out of the hostel in the morning and walked to the tour place only to discover that our trip had been cancelled due to a cloud over the glacier, because it wasn’t safe for the helicopters to fly. We decided we had enough flexibility in our itinerary to stay in town a little longer, so we said we’d check back in that afternoon to see if we could get on a later tour. Then the afternoon tours were cancelled, and we decided to book another night at the Franz Josef hostel, cancel our booking at the hostel in Hokitika (our next stop), and try to get on the heli-hike the following morning.  Read more →

Thankful

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to share a few of the things I’m thankful for right now.

First, I’m thankful that I’m currently adventuring in New Zealand with a good friend. I realize that I’ve gotten to see more of the world than most people on this planet can even dream of, and I feel incredibly lucky. New Zealand is stunning, and I’m so glad I have the opportunity to see it.

I’m also thankful that after I leave New Zealand, I get to return home to my amazing family. I’m thankful that no matter where I go or how long I’m gone, I can count on them to love me and support me and be excited to see me. It’s been a weird few months for me, in a way, because so few things in my life have been permanent or certain, and it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that my family always has my back.

But right now, most of all, I’m thankful for the incredible semester I’ve just had in Perth, WA. I know I didn’t end up blogging very much during the actual semester, but a big reason for that is because my best Australia memories aren’t the type of memories that can really be put into words, and they certainly can’t be put into a blog post. Read more →