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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Guest Post: Audiobooks for Road Trips

Today's guest post is from another fabulous Utah blogger (and awesome friend) Hilary from NextStopAdventure. I found Hilary's blog online while doing some Utah adventure research.  When I she was also an East Coast transplant, I creepily emailed her asking if she ever wanted to meet up for coffee, dinner, or a drink.  We met for a coffee and chatted for a while about Utah, moving across the country, and our love of travel.  She jokes that I asked her out on a "date" and its hilariously true (I love meeting new people- especially bloggers!).  Before I knew it we were line dancing at the Westerner and hiking The Living Room.


Her blog, NextStopAdventure.com is a lifestyle blog dedicated to celebrating everyday adventure. She focuses on outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, but she demonstrates that adventure can be found anywhere, including in your own city! Her blog showcases her travels and adventures through her photography, trail guides, trip itineraries, and documenting newlywed life.



Originally from Florida, Hilary moved with just her car cross-country at the end of her years at University of Florida. As soon as she was settled in Utah, she fell in love with the mountainous vistas and red rock deserts. She also met a Utah mountain man, Brighton. They recently got married in Florida, and are living out adventurous newlywed bliss in Salt Lake City.

Hilary and I share the same love for road trips and audiobooks (I use them for EVERY road trip!). We both like to tackle crazy long road trips with ambitious itineraries (ask her about the time she drove all the way to Banff, Canada!). She may be the only person I know who has me beat in this category.  This lady knows how to go on the ultimate road trip, and she is sharing some great Audiobook tips and some great options for your next road trip. 



Let’s talk about road trips.

Music is one of my favorite parts of driving, but when you’re only in Hour 4 in a 12 hour road trip, listening to the same music over and over won’t cut it. My husband, Brighton, says that the beats and thumping of the music eventually make him tired, and that’s the last thing we want to happen on a road trip. 

You can only rage for so long. 

Luckily, I have a co-pilot for my trips, and that means I can read, write, edit photos, or play on my phone while I’m not driving. But when we switch? That’s the tricky part— staying focused.


Brighton and I decided that one of the best solutions for this problem is listening to audiobooks on our frequent road trips. Brighton and I have wildly different taste in books, but we have found common ground with biographies from comedians.  Next time you’re setting out for a long trip, give these a download and prepare for some laughs and insight!



This is my favorite book that we’ve listened to so far. Amy Poehler is one of my favorite comedians and people in general, and through this book I gained so much respect for her as an individual. She gives you a detailed look into her childhood stories, how she began her career, and becoming a parent during SNL. She had us laughing, crying, and gave us those warm-fuzzies until the very end. She made our 11-12 hour drive to Portland in November fly by. 




I was expecting Bossypants to be just like Yes, Please. It was not. Tina Fey’s book had a different tone— a little more serious than Amy did in her reading. She had plenty of jokes, but I felt like Bossypants was a little more of a lessons learned and guidance than Yes, Please! She also describes her childhood experiences, but she spends more time on her career successes and failures. We listened to her’s on the way back from Portland in November (but our trip was 5 hours longer due to a blizzard…). 


To finish our drive back from Portland, we listened to Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance book. It was surprisingly informative and educational. I felt like it was geared for 18-35 singles age group, but I still thoroughly enjoyed hearing him read it. I will also say that Aziz is an acquired taste, and he’s not for everyone— but I happen to love him as a comedian. He covers how dating and romance has changed from marrying your high school sweetheart who lived in the same neighborhood as you to something that I wouldn’t even consider dating anymore— the “hook up culture.” He also does cross-cultural research including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. 

His narrative and research was all too familiar and real— by that I mean that almost everyone can relate to at least some of the stages of love and romance that he discusses. It’s especially fun to listen with your partner, if you are currently in a relationship. :) 




This book was Brighton’s latest pick on our mini-moon through the Smoky Mountains. I became familiar with Rob Lowe in Parks and Recreation, but he’s a seasoned actor with many movies and shows before Parks and Rec was even conceived. Rob gives a candid retelling of his career and personal life starting with his early career days. I am not a movie buff, and most of the movies and TV shows that he mentions acting in, I have not personally seen— but with that being said, this audiobooks makes me want to look into his work from years ago. It’s really interesting how star-studded his life has been. One complaint I had was that some of the stories that I would expect to be told a little more in detail— specially his personal life with his mother and wife— were somewhat brief and abrupt. I felt like the most recent years were a little rushed, and I wonder if he’s planning a sequel to continue these stories. He’s an excellent writer, with honest narrative. 
 

Tips for Choosing an Audiobook 

Listen to the sample on Audible before purchasing it. Do you like their voice? (Seriously, though) Do you like their inflection and style of speech? Do they seem monotone or entertaining?

Be aware that books may not always be the same book that you read in paper-form or in audio form. I recently bought books on my Kindle/paperback that were by comedians… and it was not the same. I also tried buying Audible books that I typically read on my Kindle, and neither situation worked. It’s amazing how different a book can seem when someone is reading it to you versus on paper. 

If this is your first audiobook, try something short to see how you enjoy it. Audiobooks can be a little daunting with the amount of time that is listed for each book. 

Sometimes it’s hard to focus— Stick to genres that keep your focus or are entertaining from the start. Mysteries and thrillers will keep you more focused, but try not to pick anything too convoluted—at first— or until you are ready for the challenge!

When planning for a road trip or plane ride, make sure you download the book onto your device before leaving. Many times they will take some time to download fully, and you can’t guarantee that you’ll have Wi-Fi or internet connection when you’re on the road. 

*All photos belong to Hilary/Next Stop Adventure. 
 If you want to read more about Hilary and her adventures, 
follow her blog and on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest

If you would like to be featured/guest blog on Katie Wanders
email me at Info@KatieWanders.com !

Monday, May 23, 2016

Guest Post: 3 Tips for your first Backpacking Trip!

Happy Monday!  
I am driving across the country this week, so I have some fun guest posts lined up while I am lost in the middle of South Dakota.  And today is the first day of awesome posts by some great Utah bloggers.  If you think I go on a lot of trips, hikes or fun adventures around the west, wait until you meet the author of today's guest post.  

About Me & Charlie



I met Alicia through a Meet Up group she leads on Tuesday "Hiking in Utah with our dogs". I have gone on some fun hikes with Alicia, some most recently being our trip to Southeastern Utah. Not only does she lead a hiking group, but she also writes an awesome blog, Girl On A Hike. "Girl on a Hike" follows hiking enthusiast Alicia, and her hiking companion, Charlie, a Golden Lab, on their outdoor adventures. Alicia became an avid backpacker in 2008, after her first experience backpacking in Winter in Montana. The trip didn't go quite as planned, but she was hooked. She has since then backpacked all over Utah, Arizona, California, and Nevada. She recently backpacked the Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon National Park, and has plans to take a week long backpacking trip in Wyoming in 2016. You can follow her and Charlie's adventures on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Friday, May 20, 2016

So Long Utah.....

So Long Utah.....

I have been mentally writing this post in my head for weeks now.  Late at night jotting down thoughts and memories, trying to find the words to describe my nearly two years here in Utah.  The transformation, the learning process, the adjustments, the excitement and fear of this "next step" in life.  So let me just spill the beans (and a word vomit of feelings below), Katie Wanders is moving back to the East Coast.


Utah was never supposed to be a permanent location for me, and my time here has been (excuse the overused analogy) a wild roller coaster ride.  Ups and down, flipping me around, taking my breath away and leaving me with a sense of exhilaration and new found excitement.  I always knew my time here would end after graduate school, as I would have to put 7 years of education to good use, finding a job, paying off student loans and of course, saving up for adventures to come.  But when that time did come, it left me so uncertain.

By the end of April, after a several month long job hunt, many applications, soul searching, frustration, and time spent staring at the map of the United States wondering "WHERE DO I WANT TO LIVE", I accepted a job back East.  This decision to relocate my life back East, right back to Connecticut was met with sheer excitement but also some sadness, defeat, and betrayal.

Somewhere in my nearly 2 years here in Utah I have grown to love so many things about this state. The reality of packing my belongings and memories into boxes and my final trips into blogs hit me hard.  The mountains I had grown to love, a temporary replacement for the oceans I missed so dearly came to feel like a second home.  The idea of not seeing the Wasatch Range while sipping my morning coffee or walking the dog was a harsh realization. No longer would I be challenging myself while biking up technical trails, or hiking to the top of Utah's peaks.  No more spending time with a group of people that shared my sense of adventure and love of the outdoors that are unlikely to be found anywhere else (thankful for all of you). No more weekends treated like an open book, scheduling adventure, trips to the desert, the pacific, the mountains or the cities among classes and other responsibilities.  Most importantly, I felt this extreme loss of so many lessons I had learned here; this sense of adventure I established and clung to so dearly here out West.

Looking back at the person I was nearly 21 months ago, it's amazing to see the personal changes I have made.  I learned to adapt, to try new things, to let go of the things and routine I had been clinging to for 20 years prior.  To work hard, play harder, and establish a new sense of self.  I arrived an outgoing 26 year old, a passionate horseback rider, scuba diver, and environmental scientist, unsure in my decisions but so ready for a change.  And I left with that and so much more (a mountain bike, a lot of debt, a history lesson on the mormons, and a few new scars to name a few).  But most importantly, a new sense of adventure.

Accepting the job back home seemed like a death sentence for me.  Waiving the white flag to go back to the life and people I knew, and in a way the life that I needed a change from back in August of 2014.  I was upset that I didn't land this dream job diving off the beaches of Hawaii saving the world one critter at a time.  Or that I wasn't living in some new exotic place with a new culture and a whole new set of restaurants to explore. 

But then I stopped and realized that this wasn't an acceptance of failure, but instead a test.  This was a test to see if I could go back to a familiar place and, bring along this new skill set I had learned out here in the west.  The skills I had learned from school, academically and professionally.  The skills I had learned in personal growth, my new sense of adventure.  And the skills I had learned regarding the people who loved me, a much stronger appreciation for family and friends.


This is my long was of saying:  Katie Wanders is leaving the West (for now!).  I am moving back to Connecticut, back to my job I have been working for remotely full time.  I will be living in one of my favorite towns on the Connecticut and (beloved) Rhode Island border, with a whole new territory to explore.  I plan to wander my way around Rhode Island, and take my bike throughout the trails of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.  And, of course, get back some of the things I love.  Horse shows on weekends and Wednesday night group scuba dives.

This girl is moving East, but the blog will continue to wander all over the globe.  This I promise. I will be back to Utah (already have a planned trip for July!) and otherwise have so many fun adventures planned for the summer.  Of course I will have one rad Utah wrap up post, an awesome video, and I don't know - something else.  Thanks for reading, and expect to see a little less mountains and a whole lot more ocean, trees, and flatter land  here at Katie Wanders.

Fondly,
Katie  

VIDEO: Oregon Recap



You made it to the last post in my Oregon Road Trip series, and I hope you had fun following my journey from Salt Lake, over to the Oregon Coast and back!  I thought it would be fun to put together a little Infographic about our trip to Oregon and how the landscape changed over the trip. 


It was a beautiful trip, making our way across Idaho, up north through the "Plains area" to see follow the Columbia River, serving as the border between Washington and Oregon.  We then followed the River, past some amazing landscapes that was quintessential Northwest, waterfalls, everything green and rainy.  We drove by "Hipster Village" aka Portland, and crossed into Washington before finally landing in Astoria, Movie land.  We then made our way down the coast, which was historic and iconic, beautiful and diverse.  We stopped our trip down the coast at the Oregon Dunes area, where you felt like you were in the Sahara.  We then cut across to Eugene where we followed a beautiful river, covered bridges, and a landscape that reminded you of Vermont. We then followed the McKenzie to Bend past some beautiful peaks.  After Bend the drive got a little more boring as we crossed the state into Idaho.  A few stops in Idaho and we were back in Salt Lake City.  


If you missed the previous posts all about the trip, you can find them all here.  

Day 3:  Ninkasi and Ikes 
Day 3:  Oregon Dunes 
Day 3:  Newport Oregon


And you can also find my fun recap video below 
(my favorite part about these trips, reliving them through these little clips!)







Thursday, May 19, 2016

Southern Idaho: Malad Gorge, Perrine Bridge and Shoshone Falls

After leaving Bend Oregon bright and early, we continued East to Salt Lake City.   It was going to be a long day of driving through eastern Oregon, across southern Idaho and then into Utah to Salt Lake City.  While the drive was long, I was pretty excited for a few stops in Idaho.  I have become oddly obsessed with Idaho lately.... it is a little weird right?  I guess my obsession stems from realizing there was more in the state besides potatoes.  

Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls
There are mountains, and streams, waterfalls and caves???  Yes, I was that ignorant.  Growing up on the East Coast, no one talks about the fly over states, or any of the states in the middle of the country really.  Sure Denver gets some attention, but that is about it. 

During my trip last month to Bear Lake sitting on the Idaho/Utah border, I picked up a Idaho travel magazine and was blown away by what I saw.  There on the cover was a gigantic waterfall, and throughout the pages were pristine rivers, lakes, and peaks  I knew my time was running out (more on that tomorrow) for all the things I want to do here, but I swore to see the beautiful Shoshone Falls before I left the West (spoiler!). 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

McKenzie Pass - Santiam Pass Scenic Byway (Eugene to Bend)

After eating far too much Broasted Chicken, we were well on our way to Bend, Oregon.  We were so excited to see the McKenzie was after everyone at Ninkasi kept talking about how beautiful the drive was.  By the time we left Ike's following the McKenzie (its a gorgeous river!) into the Willamette, we realized they were right and we were so glad we took their advice to take the McKenzie River - Santiam Pass Scenic Byway to Bend. 

The Willamette National Forest is a gorgeous place between Eugene and Bend Oregon, and one that I had never heard of until this trip. Home to the McKenzie River, beautiful waterfalls, the Pacific Crest Trail, and views of amazing peaks. I hate to sound corny but this section of the trip, this forest was like out of a dream. The green lush forest contrasted with the burned sections, the roaring McKenzie, crazy waterfalls, and the sun setting over the peaks. One of my most memorable scenic drives to date (and you all know there have been a few...). 

McKenzie River and Willamette National Forest
We followed 126 to the town of Sisters, passing Sahalie and Koosah waterfalls, the Hoodoo Ski area, the McKenzie Pass, the trailhead for the Pacific Crest Scenic Trail through burned sections of the forest, and Mt Washington overlook, with amazing views of Mt. Washington (7,794'), Black Butte (6,436'), and the three sisters (North, Middle and South Sister) at around 10,000'. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ninkasi and Ikes - Eugene to Bend Oregon

Today's post is all about chicken and beer.  
And yes, we are still talking Oregon. 

There is something so sad about driving away from the coast.  Maybe its me and my obsession with the water, and sadness when I know I won't see it again for a while.  Leaving the dunes, the rest of the journey was east, making our way across the state to the Idaho border before crossing into Utah.  We had a few stops planned between the dunes, and where we were spending the night Sunday, Bend.  But I have to admit, this was the least planned section of the trip.  It was just kind of "return home through cool towns and wing it".  Thankfully the drive across Oregon was gorgeous and one of our favorites, softening the blow of being land locked once again. 

It was just about an hour from Florence Oregon at the coast to Eugene where we had planned to stop in Eugene to see (and drink) our way around Ninkasi Brewing Company, a micro brewery right in Eugene.  At first, driving through Eugene it just seemed like just another town with megaplexes, stores and gas stations. But then we hit the neighborhood of Whiteaker home to breweries like Ninkasi and were suddenly introduced to the charm of Eugene. 
Ninkasi Brewery
Ninkasi Brewery 
Ninkasi spanned several buildings, with interconnected catwalks in this trendy little food truck packed neighborhood.  The microbrewery Ninkasi is named after the Sumerian Goddess of Beer an was founded in 2003.  Their first beer the brewery produced was their still popular Total Domination IPA. 

We headed to the tasting room which had an awesome bar area, but even better, an amazing courtyard where you could drink and sample beers (dogs allowed!).  Oregon was killing it in the everything dog friendly front.  The courtyard had plenty of tables, chairs, a fire bit, shade, sun, and there was even a food truck parked outside the brewery.  Beer, sunshine, dogs and food trucks- the recipe for a good Sunday.

Beer Sampler at Ninkasi Brewery
Beer Sampler at Ninkasi Brewery 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 3: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Driving down Highway 101 from Newport to Yachats
After spending a sunny Sunday morning in Newport Oregon, we were over the bridge and leaving the fishing town of Newport behind.  We decided to stop in Yachats (adorable town, pronounced Yah-Hots) for lunch at Luna's Sea Fish House.  There was plenty of outdoor seating, a live band setting up, and best of all, the outdoor area was dog friendly.  We peered at the seafood filled and interesting menu, with specialities like the "Slumgullion", a big bowl of clam chowder jazzed up with white cheeses and bay shrimp,  baked with garlic bread.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Day 3: Highway 101 to Newport, Oregon

After leaving Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City behind in the last of the sunset Saturday evening, we continued south in hopes of finding a dog friendly hotel in the Newport Oregon area.  I wanted to get a little farther south, as I had a BIG day planned for Sunday (a reoccurring theme here on Katie Wanders).  My strategy thus far for hotels and lodging has been all Motel 6's because they are all dog friendly at a reasonable price without any extra dog fees. And I figured this was the "off season" so it wouldn't be a problem finding places.

It was also a part of my strategy not to book anything ahead of time because my schedule was aggressive, and I wanted to leave a little leeway in how far we had to travel each day, not stressing over making it to a hotel reservation.  Well this plan slightly backfired when we were trying to find a dog friendly hotel room on Saturday night.  Most hotels were sold out, or sold out of dog friendly rooms.  The ones that were available were outrageously expensive or didn't allow dogs.  After some long days of traveling and hiking, while we had our camping gear just in case, we wanted a bed and a shower.  

Finally we found a no frills place in Depoe Bay that was probably close to being condemned (or should have been), but nonetheless, offered a bed, a shower, and allowed black labrahounds.  It was so old and rundown that I could not even figure out how to lock the door as it hadn't been replaced since the 1940's.  It was only a place to rest and recharge and in the morning, we were up bright and early ready to explore Newport, Oregon. 

Devils Punch Bowl State Park
Devils Punch Bowl State Park
On our way to Newport, we stopped at "Devils Punch Bowl State Park" five miles south of Depoe Bay, one of Oregon's MANY state parks.  I do have to note that the State Parks of Oregon are very different than most.  They are just tiny tiny little areas along the coast that mostly serve as a quick stop or destination.. but there are SO many (roughly 361).  They aren't like Utah or Connecticut's State Parks which are few but large in size.  This area marks a "bowl" where waves violently crash, waves spraying and clashing in this bowl, hence the name.  Here you can walk the small path, picnic on the grass, and stretch your legs before continuing down 101. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 2: Three Cape Scenic Drive- Driving and hiking Cape Meares, Lookout and Kiwanda

The Three Capes Scenic Route is a fun little tour through some of Northern Oregon's beautiful capes. It is an approximately 40 mile drive starting at Cape Meares before continuing on to Cape Lookout and finally, Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.  

Three Capes Scenic Route Map
Three Capes Scenic Route Map - noting the correct route to take and the closed route above. 
Because we were started our coastal drive from the northern most coastal point in Oregon, Astoria, we started the Three Capes Scenic Drive from the northern end.  The Katie Plan was to drive down from Astoria and then cut across from Tillamook over to Cape Meares.  We would stop to take a few pictures and take in the views before making our way down the coast to Cape Lookout where we planned to hike.  After some hiking and meeting Thatcher' brother, we would finally reach Cape Kiwanda just in time to drink a beer at Pelican Brewery and watch the sun set over (the other) Haystack Rock. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 2: Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock

Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock, Oregon
Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock, Oregon
Oh Cannon Beach.  You beautiful thing you.  

Cannon Beach was a last minute add on for the trip, and a chance to skirt around the beaches of the Pacific Northwest.  Originally, I was going to cut right across from Portland straight to the coast and start in Tillamook.  After talking with Tyler, long term resident of Oregon and surfer of the coast, he recommended we start a little further North to see the beautiful (and popular) sights of Astoria and Cannon Beach.  I am so glad we added on this little "excursion" as it brought me to this beautiful spot, Cannon Beach. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 2: Ecola State Park, Oregon

 Ecola State Park
Views from Ecola State Park
After spending the night in charming Astoria, I was so excited to hit the road and sink my toes into the sand bordering the Pacific Ocean.  Remember, New England Native living in Utah, missing the ocean something fierce.  Our next stop after Astoria was to stop at Ecola State Park for some amazing views down the coastline and of Cannon Beach. We drove the 45 minutes from Astoria to Ecola State Park via Route 101, our first journey down the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.  A park I had never heard of until some thorough "OR ROAD TRIP RESEARCH", but man am I glad I stopped at Ecola. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 1: Astoria, Oregon


Astoria-Megler Bridge

Astoria is a quiet coastal town at the mouth of the 1,200 mile Columbia River with a whole lot of character.  At first glance, the town has a charm to it, but was generally a little run down, a foggy memory of its historic past.  This town is home to famous movies like the Goonies and Kindergarten Cop, with a thick history dating back to Lewis and Clark.  And then there is the unpopular seasonal visitor, the California Sea Lion. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Day 1: Vista House at Crown Point


Our last stop along Waterfall Drive was a beautiful spot I had heard about perched above the Columbia River.  More of a scenic overview than an "activity spot" if you will.  The Vista House was built in 1917 as a stopping point for tourists along the Historic Columbia River Highway and through the gorge. The house is run by a non-profit group in partnership with the state park program. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 1: Oregon Road Trip: Waterfalls of the Historic Columbia River Highway

Our first official stop of the trip was to hike and stop along Waterfall Drive.  Now waterfall drive isn't a real thing, but it's the pseudo name we made for the beautiful drive along Historic Columbia River Highway (a scenic byway - Route 30 in Oregon).  You could easily spend a few days driving down this 70 mile scenic drive, hiking and exploring all of these trails, parks, and viewpoints along the way (and I would have lovvved to).  However, we were on a tight schedule so we had to improvise.  A hike, a few stops, and lot of fun exploring this area (I had never even heard of until this trip!). 

Historic Columbia River Scenic Byway Map
Historic Columbia River Highway Map

Our "Waterfall Drive Waypoints" were:
--a Hike at Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls and Oneonta Falls,
 --stopping to view Multnomah Falls,
 --a stop at Guy W. Talbot State Park to see Latourell Falls, 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 1: Oregon Road Trip: Columbia River

I have to admit.  I have fallen in love with the idea of the Pacific Northwest.  I spent some time in Northern California, as well as Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.  I have to also admit, that many moons ago, I planned a trip to visit friends in Seattle for Thatcher's birthday as a way to lure him to the Pacific Northwest (specifically Seattle).  I was smitten with the idea of living by the Puget Sound, with the Pacific at my door step and a whole new range of adventure.

Somehow I landed in Utah, and I have to admit, it all worked out.

After visiting a few gorgeous spots on the Pacific Coast (especially northern CA and Seattle) the Oregon Coast gained top ranking on my "must see" list while living out West.  I had visited Portland, Oregon which wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I knew the coast would be something right up my alley (read ocean, sea lions and seafood). 


Total Road Trip Map and Miles