Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blue Mountains - Australia

Henriikka and I took a trip up to the Blue Mountains, about 2 hours North of Sydney, and did a day hike around the falls and into the Eucalyptus trees (what gives the blue mountains their name).

Honestly, it was the size of the Grand Canyon, but full of trees! Overall; one of the best hikes in the world!

Off to Fiji tomorrow to experience Scuba Heaven!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NZed Photos


I feel as though this blog is very hard to articulate because no words on a page can truly describe my last 3 weeks, but with descriptions (and photos to come soon), I hope to describe this adventure to the best of my ability!

When I landed in Auckland (the north island) I was a bit nervous to be there by myself. I just decided to be a bit open minded, and try my best to make some new friends. I met a wonderful girl, Steffi, from Germany and we hung out the 6 days I was there. Exploring the parks, museums, and shopping centers, we were able to get a good taste of the city. I have to admit, though, that the city life is no longer my cup of tea when vacationing, so I booked a dive trip up to the Poor Knight Islands in Whangarei about 2 hours north of Auckland. Scuba diving there was incredible. It is one of the only marine reserves that people can dive in, and it was an incredible experience. I was overwhelmed with the pristine water, and the large amount of marine life.

After feeling like it was Christmas Eve waiting to see Henriikka, Louise, and Sandra, I spent the night in the airport and flew to Christchurch in the morning. There really are no words to describe how it feels to say goodbye to close friends in Belgium, then have a reunion one year later across the world!!!!! After all hugging and screaming in the airport, we went straight to Jucy Rentals and got our 4 person campervan called the Penthouse. It sleeps 4 people and has a kitchen etc. I was the first person to drive, and learned QUICKLY that they drive on the left side of the road. Hilarious. New Zealand is great about campervans, you can pretty much pull over in any forest and just camp. Don't worry, the whole time we practiced LNT.

The first day we went to a store called Pack and Save, and lets just say, they had the best selection of candy in the whole world. Trying to find this store on our roadtrip became a game - we wanted these candies all the time. It became a great theme of our roadtrip! The first major stop on our roadtrip was Mt Cook. It is a 7 hour retrum hike up to the summit, and Henriikka and I had a fabulous view from the top! At first, we were just going to take only a small hike, but then we ran out of water, and so we climbed to the top because there was a hut at the top with a water source (called Muller Hut) and we were so dehydrated!!! So many hikers were concerned about us so they gave us their water bottles. Thank God we made it to the top:) We stared in tropical climate, hiking at the base through a rain forest. At the top, there was a glacier and we saw 2 avalanches. It was unreal. We met 2 super nice English guys who we ended up meeting up with in Queenstown. Henriikka and I hiked down at sunset and it was glorious!

Our next major stop was lake Takepo, one of the most famous lakes in the southern hemisphere. The reason for it being so incredible is because it is all glacier melt, and it is the most blue water I have ever seen in my life. It is called ice sand, these crystals that make the water look so blue. We took a 2 hour hike up, and then after soaking in the view, went to hot pools and spent our evening relaxing in 40degree C water. it was glorious, and served as our shower for the next 6 days.

We then drove to Queenstown, and spent the night on the side of the road outside a bungy jumping place for Sandra to go in the morning! She jumped from 43 meters and Louise Henriikka and I just served as her cheerleaders! We then went into down and explored the city. Overall it was a fantastic visit, and we just went grocery shopping and hung out by the lake. The next day we hiked up to the highest mountain in Queenstown, and jumped off the side!! Louise Henriikka and I all went paragliding, and it was such a fun experience! We actually all decided to do this so we didnt have to hike down :) Quote from that day "it looks like you you have a mailbox on your ass" That night we went on a pubcrawl and experienced a bit of NZ nightlife.
The next night we had no idea where to camp so we had to sleep near the boats and jet skis, and left at 7am so we would not get a ticket. Luckly, we left in time!

After getting a little city fix, we drove to Milford Sound, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. They are fiords (mountains that drop directly into the sea), just covered in rain forest. Just to give you an idea of how much a rainforest it really is, they call a "drought" 7 days without rain. Quite a contrast from Arizona. Everywehre you looked, there was a waterfall, and the water was so clear you could see marine life below you. We saw dolphins, seals, and a few 11 legged starfish. We went all the way out to the Tasman Sea, and it was overall one of the best parts of the trip. Just to really express how incredible it was, the mountain summit was 1300m from the sea level. Our boat looked like a grain of rice on a bed of seaweed. Nature just dwarfed us, and I loved it.

After exploring Milford Sound for the day, we went on a mini hike to Ribbon Falls and drank out of the waterfall. I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS. No iodine tablets or filters. I loved it. It was the best water ever! Ahhhhhh. We camped that night and went to Fox Glacier the next day. After a full day of driving, we scheduled a hike on the glacier. Just to preference the night before, we discovered that our beloved Penthouse leaked, and there was a HUGE rainstorm that night, so Henriikka and I woke up drenched. We had our own personal waterfall and lake inside! We put on our warmest clothes and got some extra layers, put some crampons on our feet (these strange looking ice picks that go on our boots) and headed up with a guide. Again, it was like hiking through the jungle, then BAM, a glacier! All the photos that I took make it look ugly and small, photos don't even do it justice. Fox glacier is 1 of the 3 temperate glaciers in the world, so it was a very special and memorable experience. Also, side note: our guide was the hottest guy ever, his name was Timothy. He was so very manly swinging his ice pick. Henriikka was in love. I am going to their wedding soon hahhhaa

After feeling so very accomplished, we got lots of chocolate, and drove on. We arrived in Franz Joseph Glacier, and found some more hot pools. 2nd shower of the trip. oh la la. Overall, the trip was a huge success. I had such a blast and the night we wanted to save money so we slept in the airport before departing to Sydney. When I came out of the bathroom, Sandra and Henriikka were sitting in the middle of the airport under my sleep sheet, and I cried I was laughing so hard!! we had the worst-best night sleep at the airport, and I am now back in Sydney with Henriikka, staying with her and her host family :)

Since I have already done the tourist stuff here, its nice to just sit in the jacuzzi and drink beers and re-live the memories we made in Belgium. We are going to the Blue Mountains on Monday to do a cool hike, and then I am off to Fiji on Tuesday to do some more scuba diving.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sister time in San Diego!!!

A few random things:
a) My sister is the prettiest bride I have ever seen - I saw her for the 1st time in her wedding dress and she is just beautiful!

b) we went to a really cool 150 arce flower garden in Carlsbad, which was super fun

c) fresh strawberry shakes are delicious : )

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Some Inspiration

After recently watching Erin Brockovich, a movie based on a true story, I was re-inspired to fight for truth. Within the 2 hour span of this movie, it reminded me of how many inequalities people face; one of which are environmental factors. Its concerning, yet true, that large companies are willing to put citizens at risk just to make one more buck. Cancer, tumors, and inevitably death, can be swept under the rug if there is no voice to stand up for them.

So, cheers to the real Erin Brockovich, and thank you for not only thinking you can make a difference,  but actually doing the courageous thing and acting on that thought.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The World’s Greatest E-mail

Just a few days ago I got one of the best emails in the world! It was from University of San Francisco, sending me an acceptance letter and scholarship offer to their Master in Science program for Environmental Management!!!!! Below are all the courses listed that I will be taking, which makes me have a permanent smile on my face!!! Start date: August 11, 2011

- Air Quality Assessment and Management

- Applied Ecology

- Ecoscience

- Energy, Environment and Sustainability

- Engineering Aspects of Hazardous Waste Management

- Environmental Chemistry

- Environmental Economics

- Environmental Engineering I - Pollutant Fate and Transport in Surface Water and Air

- Environmental Engineering II - Contaminant Transport in Groundwater

- Environmental Health and Epidemiology

- Environmental Law

- Environmental Philosophy and Ethics

- Environmental Policy and Politics

- Environmental Risk Assessment

- Environmental Risk Management

- Environmental Toxicology

- Industrial Ecology and Sustainability

- Management of Chemical and Hazardous Materials

- Management and Environmental Management Systems - Theory and Practice

- Remote Sensing and GIS Resource Assessment

- Restoration Ecology

- Water Quality Assessment and Management

- Wetland Ecology

Friday, March 11, 2011


One moment I am rock climbing at the local gym here in Santa Monica, complaining that I have a sore throat, which makes me less energetic to climb, and the next moment I come home and check the news at midnight to see the 7th largest earthquake ever recorded just hit Japan.

Sometimes life events like this happen at the exact moment we need perspective.

I am so very thankful. For everything. Every single thing in my life, I am grateful for.

As to the million dollar question: I am going to still try and go to Japan. As of now, there is an advisory warning for American travelers to not visit Japan, so, we can only wait. I emailed Oxfam and Japanese Red Cross to see if I can volunteer during the time I am expected to be over there.

I claimed that this 2 month trip is to do some soul-searching. There is no better way to make a trip worthwhile than to integrate some humanitarian work. My thoughts and prayers are for everyone who passed away in Japan. For now, I can only hope there is a silver lining for them.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Bucket List: Revisited.

6 years in the making…

Bucket List:

Become proficient in a new language
Complete a triathlon
Publish a book
Become a volleyball coach
Read the Bible cover to cover
Get my motorcycle license
Fund a no-kill animal shelter
Plant my own garden
Go skydiving
Make an invention/research discovery that helps the environment
Go in a hot air balloon
Become a teacher
Go white water river rafting
Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
Work at SeaWorld and watch the birth of a dolphin or whale
Become a doctor
Start a ‘women in science’ scholarship fund for underprivileged students
Learn how to tap dance
Get a tattoo
Build my own telescope and learn the constellations
Be an organ donor
Travel all continents

Bucket List Completed (and loved every second):

Ran a marathon
Graduated college with honors
Professionally sold my photography
Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Lived on a different continent for a year
Published research
Went Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
Played for my college volleyball team
Donated my hair to Locks of Love

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Life after college...

For almost 2 years, I have been claiming that I am just in a “Transition Phase” until I figure out my life calling.

Moral of this story: I thought growing up was going to be way easier.


I moved back into the house that I was raised in, home to 17 years of memories. It is really strange to be back home, just for the sheer fact that I feel useless. The last time I was living here, it was my senior year of high school; I had a car, a job, was full time student, and had a solid plan of moving to California to go to college. Now, almost 6 years later, I have zero of those things.


Luckily, my mom was able to get reservations for us to stay at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, so that is WONDERFUL! We are beginning our 17 mile hike tomorrow!

I just ordered my maid of honor dress for my sisters wedding on June 18th!!!

My Theta Family: Ashley Hanson, Amy Buchmann, and Stacia Stolzenberg and I have all begun a weekly e-mail chain to remind us of what we are all grateful for in our lives. It is a refreshing reminder, as well as a constant opportunity to take a minute to count what really matters in our lives.


I am really looking forward to the Cherry Blossom Festival! When I originally booked my flight to Japan, I was 100% sure that I was OFF MY ROCKER. The more I think about it, the more I am ecstatic I am taking this opportunity! I have no idea when I will ever get 2 months off again, so now is the time.

I will be landing in Tokyo April 5th, and will be there approximately 2 weeks. I am then headed down to Cairns, Australia, to put my new scuba-certifications to use. Two of my life-long (forever and ever and ever) friends I made in Belgium are going to New Zealand the 28th of that month, so I need to buy my plane ticket to adventure with them, but am waiting for my last direct deposit paycheck before I book ANY more flights!!


For those of you who know a bit about grad school applications, I really missed the boat this year. However, University of San Francisco has late application for students interested in a Master in Science Program in Conservation Biology/Environmental Studies. I basically fell in love with this program based off of their course requirements, and hope and pray that I get accepted for August 2011. The classes range from environmental ecology, evolution, chemistry, hydrology, risk assessment, ethics and law, sustainability in the wild, and geology. Amazing classes, amazing professors, and amazing location.

Thankfully, Dr Wright, Dr. Rowland-Goldsmith, and Michael Coursey all helped me by writing letters of recommendation, as well as Amy Buchmann and Dan McLellan who submitted references for the Kappa Alpha Theta Scholarship (in the event that I do get accepted to this program). Thanks to all who helped me out with this!

Fingers crossed for USF, I should be hearing back in just 6 short weeks. Now we wait……

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I have been feeling a bit lost. Since getting back from Belgium 6 months ago, I have really been all over the place. I moved back to Orange County to work for Dr. Wright for a while, and then moved to Durango to do Southwest Conservation Corps for a few months, then bounced around until I found Telluride and am now having a hard time being ‘settled’. I realize one thing: I am just looking for my place in this world.

Some say its pretty irresponsible to blow all my money on travels, however I would rather see new places, meet new people, and become 1 step closer to finding out who I really am. This is my priority, and I am going to keep wandering until I have a reason to not.

I booked a 1-way flight to Tokyo on April 5th, and am really excited to see the Cherry Blossom Festival. It is on the same ‘enchanting beauty’ scale as the Keukenhof Garden Festival in the Netherlands, and that was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

After that, I am not quite sure what I am going to do, but I think I am going to Phuket, Thailand to get open water scuba instructor certified, so that if I am ever bored with my life, I can move to a coastal area and teach scuba class.

Well, that’s it for now. If anyone wants to join, I would love to see you.