LA to Santa Barbara by Sarah Bronstein

 

 

We had a blast in LA.  The shit show of traffic and parking terrified me into staying local for the most part.  Day 1 we went to the Getty Museum which was awesome.  They had a great variety, from modern photography to the classics- they had a large amount of Impressionist pieces which I have always loved.  The coolest part is its mountain side location looking over the city.  The museum is free (there is a charge for parking, the museum is only accessible by tram, but it is still a lot less than other museums that charge a hefty per person fee.)  The next day we did the "Inspiration Point" hike towards the Santa Monica Mountains that was gorgeous and offered great views of LA and the coastline.  The Pacific Ocean is so beautiful.... Growing up on the east coast the water seems so clear and blue!  

The next day I took the Highway 1 up the coast to Santa Barbara to spend the end of my adventure in my birth place. It is SO beautiful; I stayed a Hotel Milo which is right on the harbor and enjoyed the most peaceful, beautiful sunset I saw the whole trip.  Fitting for my last night.  I can't believe it is over!!!  I am feeling all the emotions right now but trying to focus on enjoying my last day as I explore the rest of the coastline and Big Sur before arriving in SF tonight.  

Some words about today and reflections on the trip to come soon!  Thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible for me- it has been the most amazing, unforgettable 6 weeks of my life.  

 

 

Arizona to San Diego by Sarah Bronstein

We had an AMAZING time in Sedona.  We spent almost the entire time hiking with my aunt and uncle who have lived there for the last 26 years so they knew all the good spots.  Our first hike was super special because it is a locals trail up to an amazing cave that I hiked to with them the last time I visited 21 years ago.  Once we got to the cave we ate lunch and then they lead us in a meditation.  Sedona is basically walking through one giant postcard; it is impossible not find a spot without a few.  They also have stipulations on where and what kind of street lights can be used so there was no where better to see the stars let alone the full moon!  (I also was introduced to the Prickly Pear Margarita which I am now obsessed with! YUM!)

On the way to San Diego we stopped in Joshua Tree.  It was beautiful to see such an untouched desert landscape but overall it wasn't the most interesting of the parks in my opinion.  Continuing on to San Diego we took the 74 (aka the "the Pines to Palms highway") which cuts right through the mountains.  This could be the curviest, most terrifying road I have driven the whole trip.  Sure, the super tight turns and huge drop offs were scary but most of my fear came from the other drivers- literally every other car that went by was FLYING.  

San Diego started off a bit of a mess.  I won't dwell on details but our Airbnb was a horrific nightmare so last minute we stayed at the Dana Hotel on Mission Bay which was wonderful. Especially because a HUGE storm blew in that night and it was pouring the whole next day.  The next day it was very overcast but we made the best of it.  We went stand up paddle-boarding in the bay (I am still sore!) and caught the cloudy albeit beautiful sunset at the Sunset Cliffs.  Meghan flew out that night and I left the next morning for LA!  A dear friend from high school who also lived in NYC and is now in SF (and putting me up until I move into a sublet Oct 1st;) came to meet me in LA.  We are staying in Venice Beach and I am super excited about all the fun that is about to be had!   Stay tuned!!!!

New Mexico by Sarah Bronstein

My stay in Albuquerque was wonderful.  I love the mountain/desert combo climate... Steven and I got up early and did some awesome hiking in Sandia's.  The mountains are so beautiful, a grayish purple in daylight but in the glorious New Mexican sunset glow pink.  Truly one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen.  Thankfully no snake sightings but we did see lots of road runners who apparently eat the rattlers!  I recommend watching a youtube video of it as it is quite amazing how these birds kill the snakes.  They grab it in their beaks and literally slam the snake head against the rocks until it is dead and then swallow it whole.

 The Dorothy Stewart trail offered great views of Santa Fe, Sun Mountain, the Jemez, and the ski basin.  One of my favorite parts of this hike is that the rocks making up the trail are full of micah and quartz so the whole pathway literally glitters the whole way up and down the mountain.  

One of my besties from Brooklyn flew in for my last day in NM and we drove out to White Sands National Monument, the largest gypsum sand dune in the world.  There are really no words to describe the 250 mile dunes, where you can walk and sled through the endless mounds of white powder against the backdrop of the San Andreas and Sacramento Mountain ranges.  Please check my Instagram or Facebook for pictures.  (Happy side note: it is pooch friendly!)

The next day we headed drove to Sedona with a midway pitstop in the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest (or as I refer to it "Dinoland".)  Named for its abundance of fossilized wood from over 225 MILLION years ago this was the most supernatural looking place I have ever been to.  The endless blue and gray plateaus and red soil layers look straight out of the textbooks of the prehistoric landscapes.  At one point I said aloud, "if a brontosaurus came treking out past me right now it wouldn't seem out of the ordinary."  Again, I feel words do not do this place justice so please check out my social media accounts for pictures!

 

 

Tetons to Denver by Sarah Bronstein

Wow... The last week has flown by!  The Tetons were incredible.  Both my dad and I felt our trip saved the best for last.  The Tetons were incredible in everyday; the beauty of the surroundings, the peaceful, quite energy, and vast range of wildlife.  In contrast to Yellowstone, Grand Teton NP seemed empty.  Sure there were other hikers but it was far and few; mostly it was just you and the animals.  Yellowstone holds breathtaking treasures like nowhere else, do not get me wrong, but it is pretty much nature's amusement park- you wait in line to park, fight the crowds for the view, and move on to the next.  Due to the ruggedness of the Teton trails and lack of fellow hikers I finally was scared enough to throw $50 at bear spray (luckily despite some great bear sightings we never had to use it).  

We stayed in Jackson Hole which was GREAT!  We were both ready for some relief from Xanterra (the NP's service provider) food and real coffee!  Day 1 while taking Stevie on his morning stroll, we were fortunate enough to stumble upon Picnic, a cafe just a few blocks from our motel.  Incredibly strong, delicious coffee and homemade breads and pastries like no other.  The owners husband apparently studied pastry in Paris for sometime and good god does it show.  The croissants were amazing and their cinnamon rolls are literally out of this world.  The lack of icing through me at first but it tasted like a perfectly cooked croissant mated with a homemade donut and was then delicately coated with fresh sugar and cinnamon.  Our good food luck continued throughout the whole trip including a white pie called the Powder Horn, from Pinky G's Pizza and an amazing burger at MacPhails; MacPhail's also provided the most entertaining albeit odd server named Stephen (seriously) who made the night unforgettable by spontaneously shouting "BALLS on a SHTICK" throughout the dining room while we enjoyed our dessert (which was chocolate covered ice cream scoops on kabob sticks.)  

We drove to Denver the next day where I sadly dropped my pops off at the airport and continued on to an Airbnb.  After returning from a beautiful morning in Denver's Central Park, I found the place while otherwise great severely invested with ants!  I quickly packed up and checked in to a Best Western which was great- clean, pet friendly, and even had a pool which was quite enjoyable after day hiking in Red Rocks State Park.  I had dinner and drinks with a friend who just moved there from Brooklyn which was super fun and an opportunity to see more of the city life and different neighborhoods.  We ate at Linger, a rooftop bar right in the hippest part of town.  Despite it being "sceney" it was great food (killer Chile-Peach margaritas!) and an awesome view of the river and city.  I definitely really liked Denver overall and hope to be back for longer in the near future.

 

 

 

 

Yellowstone by Sarah Bronstein

Yellowstone was unreal.  We stayed at the Mammoth Hot Springs Inn in the north section of the park.  (Our hotel room was built in 1913 and was almost out of 'The Shining'!)  As we pulled up tons of elk were just chilling around the inn and cabins; literally just feet from cars and humans.  We explored the Mammoth Hot Springs and Boiling River and then headed down to the Porcelain Basin and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (hosting breathtaking views of the waterfalls including my fave appropriately named 'Artist's Point'.)  Just past the Mammoth Hot Springs we witnessed a second bear sighting although from a much further distance (and seemingly much more peaceful circumstances as 2 bears were playing in the forest just below the road). Reportedly because of the fires, the Lamar Valley wildlife had fled further south so we checked out the Hayden Valley on our way to Yellowstone Lake and hit the jackpot as a plethora of bison were hanging out next to the road and crossing the street.  

Upon checking into our Lake Lodge cabin we noticed at least 5 bison right outside our door!  We couldn't believe how uninterested the wildlife is in humans...   We got up early to head to Old Faithful (overrated in my opinion) and the Grand Prismatic Spring and the other springs in the Midway Geyer Basin.  Unfortunately because it was so cold and gray the steam from the springs made it difficult to see but hopefully some of the photos turned out.  

After that we took off to head to Grand Teton National Park, stopping to do a short hike in Coulter Bay before driving down to Jackson Hole, just south of the Tetons where we are staying until Thursday.  We (Stevie, my dad, and myself) are all glad to be staying in one place for longer than 1 night and excited to explore the Tetons!   Stay tuned! 

Vancouver to Glacier by Sarah Bronstein

9/3 (posting delayed due to lack of service)

The last “long chunker” as I have been referring to the 11+ hour drives from Vancouver to Glacier National Park was a blast.  Having my dad to keep me company in addition to Stevie was a nice change of pace.  We stopped and enjoyed a killer pastrami sandwich by the river in Spokane.  Having been my first time in a state that has legalized marijuana I was very amused by the “punny” names of dispensaries such as “Spokecannabis” and “Smokane”.

Glacier National Park is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  Everything was stunning but the color of the water I found particularly amazing.  The aqua glacier lakes are crystal clear (literally) to the point I could see the bottom of a large rock partially submerged in Hidden Lake from an overlook 800 ft above.  We got lucky and despite Labor Day tourists did not have to fight the crowds on trails or parking and found the park incredibly peaceful.  

Our luck continued with wildlife spotting.  Hiking, we saw tons of little pikas (little squirrel like creatures that stand up like prairie dogs) and  came within 30 feet of mountain goats.  The one day it was raining we drove the Going to the Sun Road (which bisects the park and goes up to 7000 ft into the mountains) and happened to pull up while a ranger was trying to scare away a bear (we are not sure whether it was a grizzly or a black bear) that ended up on his hind legs arms out in full on attack mode!  The ranger eventually threw some sort of flare in front of him which scared him off but it was a pretty rare sighting especially since we were only around 50 feet from him (and grateful to be in the car).

We found a gem of a diner in Whitefish called Loula’s (HIGHLY recommend if you are ever in the area).  Everything we had there was phenomenal (burgers, chicken&waffles, and a huckleberry pie that was out of this world.) 

After a quick hike around the MacDonald Falls this morning we headed to Flathead Lake on our way to Wyoming.  

We are currently headed to Yellowstone National Park and excited to see what adventures lay ahead!!! 

San Francisco-Portland-Vancouver by Sarah Bronstein

I feel like I am running out of words to describe the incredible beauty of the landscapes.  I had an amazing time in Salt Lake City (basically spent the whole time hiking).  I left at 6am Tuesday to start the drive to San Fran which was as stunning as ever.  The 80W goes right by the Great Salt Lake and the timing worked out that the sun was rising behind the mountains as I passed.  About 100 miles West of Salt Lake City almost to the Utah/Nevada border was one of the best surprises of the trip so far: The Bonneville Salt Flats.  Stretching over 30,000 acres the white plains look like a giant field of packed snow surrounded by mountains; due to the salt there is no life or vegetation.  It is one of the most peaceful quite places I have ever been.  The coolest part was that the land is so large and flat you can actually see the curvature of the earth!  The rest of the 80W was no disappointment, through the hills and mountains of Nevada and California winding through beautiful spots including the Truckee and Humboldt Rivers, Reno, the Sierra Nevadas, Tahoe National Forest, Lake Tahoe, and Sacramento.

I got to San Francisco late but stopped at the marina park with Stevie before settling down for the night.  The to-do list for my 48 hours in SF included finding a storage unit, unloading the van contents into storage (by myself!), returning the van rental to the airport, picking up the new rental in downtown SF, and repacking for the rest of my trip.  I got everything done without a hitch and even had time for a quick visit to Alamo Square and my fave Dolores Park.   Stevie thoroughly enjoyed the quick stay in our new home.  We are both very excited to start our lives there post-adventuring.  

We left bright and early Friday to miss the notorious bay area traffic and took the 101 straight up the coast to Coos Bay, Oregon where we cut over the the I-5N to Portland.    The drive up the 101 was absolutely stunning.  While the California wine country and Redwood National Park was gorgeous, for me the Oregon Coast was the show stopper.  I couldn't drive half a mile without pulling over at the next vista to take in more of the breathtaking views.  The varying colors of the Pacific ocean water was amazing.... It went from the deepest turquoise blue to the clearest aqua green all against the rocky beaches and cliffs.  Oregon as a whole impressed me from the coasts to the mountains and lakes and one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. 

Portland was brief (I definitely plan to visit again soon) but with donuts and coffee (GOOD coffee) on every corner it won me over fast.  I stayed in the Richmond/Hawthorne district where each house had so much character and everyone I passed not only had a smile but was exceptionally friendly.  Stevie flirted with every lady he passed and had a blast sniffing around Mt Tabor Park while I enjoyed the view.  

From the park we got right back on the road to head to Vancouver.  I got lucky and didn't get too delayed through the Seattle traffic and Stevie and I got through the border without any issues.  My parents had flown into town the night before as most of my dad's family is here including his mom who is 94.   All my aunts and uncles and cousins were with my parents at Hadden Beach which in true BC form is clean and beautiful, and offered incredible views of the city.  It was wonderful to be welcomed by such a lively bunch and enjoy some time outside even though the drive was relatively short comparatively.   

I am SO excited to have a few days out of the car, in one of my favorite cities with many of my favorite people before heading to Glacier National Park Wednesday with my dad!!!! 

The Route to Salt Lake City by Sarah Bronstein

Stevie and I are both stoked to be out of the car!  We spent the last 2 days making the drive from Chicago to Salt Lake City which was unbelievably beautiful.  While the first day was more mundane, yesterday was like driving through a postcard.   The only downfall was shortly after entering Wyoming I got super dizzy and nauseous.   My first thought was car sickness but I quickly realized it was the drastic change in altitude.  Coming in from the flat farmlands in Nebraska the I-80 West quickly ascends to its highest point of 8,000 ft above sea level.  Luckily I was at a rest stop and adjusted pretty fast.  

Yesterdays sights were phenomenal... I passed through the Red Desert, the Great Divide Basin (running between the two ranges of the Rocky Mountains), the Wasatch Mountains, Echo Canyon, Parley's Canyon, Park City, and finally into the picturesque Salt Lake City.  

I am only here until tomorrow morning but have a full day with lots of hiking planned so looking forward to making the best of my short visit.   Tomorrow I am off to San Francisco for a couple days to drop my trunk full of belongings in a storage unit and pick up a smaller car before taking off on the rest of my adventure!!! 

 

The adventure begins... by Sarah Bronstein

I can't believe it!!! Yesterday I packed up my whole life into the back of a Dodge Caravan (it miraculously all fit)  and Stevie and I took off.  Once we got out of NYC the drive was glorious.  From the lush Pocono peaks to Ohio's endless cornfields to the neon pink sunset behind the Indiana farmland, the 13 hour drive was so beautiful and peaceful.  

Steve and I arrived safely in Chi-town last night and both slept like logs.  I am stoked to be here hanging with family and friends for a few days before hitting the road again bright and early Saturday morning.  

Next stop SALT LAKE CITY!!!!

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