Behind The Scenes: Backpackers Pantry Video Shoot in Evergreen

When an email from Backpackers Pantry showed up in my inbox inquiring about casting me for a video shoot, all it took was the words “we’re shooting at Three Sisters Park” to instantly grab my attention. I was in.

I arrived in Evergreen a few minutes before 7:00 AM, and loitered around the dirt parking lot until the rest of the crew arrived. I instantly knew it was going to be a fantastic day as three bearded fellas hopped out of Subarus, and two spirited ladies pulled up with pups in the backseat. We shot a bit of footage out in the parking lot to establish the scene, then quickly hit the trail. Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park. Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park.

The first scenes were shot in the parking lot, establishing the dichotomy between the two characters. My persona was the “expert hiker” – a know-it-all, done-it-all gal who knows every trail in Colorado like the back of her hand. My counterpart was played by Patrick, who did an incredible job portraying a novice hiker. Throughout the day I was constantly impressed with his dedication to his character. He smeared sunscreen all over his beard, sprayed himself straight in the face with bug spray, snapped tent poles, threw himself into a river – you name it, he was down to try it.

The shot below is a little peek at one of my favorite scenes for Patrick. It opens with him looking like he is dangling off a cliff – but you quickly realize he’s just trying to summit a small boulder.

Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park.

As for my character, the crew kept encouraging me to channel my inner Patrick Swayze (in Point Break, to be specific). I ran around the trails doing push-ups on logs, karate-chopping dead tree limbs, and high-stepping like a hotshot. I frankly made a total fool of myself – all while rocking’ the most ridiculous neon green headband – and I can’t wait to share the footage.

One of my favorite parts to shoot was the “camp” scene. I happened to have my favorite Teton Sports tent in my car, and it ended up creating the perfect contrast between the experienced hiker and the novice.  I set up my tent in less than 10 seconds, while Patrick’s character spent minutes fumbling with fabric and snapping tent poles – and everyone on the crew is now dying to get their hands on a Teton Sports tent like mine. Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park.

It’ll be a few weeks before the footage is all edited and goes public, but I’ll be sure to share it with everyone as soon as it goes live. Big thank you to Backpackers Pantry for casting me and to the film crew for keeping me on my toes all day. (And thank you to Elaine, who took those photos of me!)

The Best Part of Spring? It’s Almost Summer!

I’ve been struggling with a case of seasonal blurring lately. A few months ago, the clear lines separating winter and spring began to run together. Weeks of sunshine were littered with days of spontaneous snowstorms that dwindled in frequency until there was nothing left but warmth and wildflowers. It’s easy to distinguish between winter and spring – but where do we draw the lines between spring and summer?

According to the calendar, summer doesn’t start until June 21st this year, but I don’t necessarily agree with that deadline. In my world, a transition period exists between the two defined seasons – and it’s the best part of the entire year. The weekends are full of cookout invitations and outdoor adventures; I got my first sunburn at the Five Points Jazz festival; rooftop patios are the place to be; and farmers markets are coming into season. It’s warm enough to spend a day sunning on a blanket at a park, but not hot to the point where you can’t stop thinking about air conditioning. It’s just perfect.

Need further convincing? Here’s why is the best time of the year:

Everything is in bloom.

Up in the mountains, the wildflower blooms won’t be in full force until much later in the summer – but down here in the city, blossoms are pushing up from from every garden patch and crack in the sidewalk to bask in the sun. I never knew so many varieties of tulips existed until I took a stroll to my neighborhood coffee shop last week. Bulbs planted long ago have sprung to life, and every sunny morning beckons neighbors to roll up their sleeves and dig into a little urban gardening. I even have my first tomato growing on my little patio plants!The blossoms at Denver Botanic Gardens My sister and I at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Afternoon rain – ’nuff said.

As a southern gal, there is nothing I love more than a good afternoon storm. In Florida, they come like clockwork during the warm seasons. A cloud appears, thunder rolls, lightning strikes, and rain pounds like the pavement – and then an hour later, the sun is shining again. It’s one of the things I miss the most about the south, but Denver has been delivering all sorts of stormy satisfaction lately.

I mean, I could have done without the tornado sirens and quarter-sized hail – but beggars can’t be choosers. (No, seriously, I was taking a very long, relaxing shower last week when my housemate started pounding on my door saying “Uh, I think we need to GO” – trying to plan out your this-is-the-end strategy while running around in a towel is not very relaxing y’all.) Bring it on, Colorado! Puddles. I like stepping in 'em.

Cookouts and Farmers Markets

Here’s a little secret: there is nothing I love on this planet more than food. If my physical being reflected my inner foodie, I would triple in weight immediately – and probably get diabetes. I adore eating, cooking, growing vegetables, and buying fresh produce. As spring collides with summer, the season for outdoor cookouts, spending weekend mornings at farmers markets, and eating lunch out on the stoop is officially upon us.

Food is one of my favorite elements of city adventures. You can tailor an entire day around edible explorations. My favorite food-centric weekend adventure goes a little something like this: wake up, cook a homemade breakfast with all the windows open, stock up on veggies at the local farmers market, invite a herd of cohorts over, spend the afternoon grilling in the backyard. Wham-bam, baby.It's officially the season for backyard barbecues.

Everything is Outside

No, really – everything. This perfectly in-between season is the best time of the year to do everything outside. I don’t work in an office, and turning your kitchen into a cubicle every morning gets pretty monotonous – so when the weather strikes that delicate balance between breezy and warm with sunshine, I like to move my office outdoors.

I am actually sitting outside on my third-story stoop right now – I’ve been doing this for weeks. My yellow snapdragons are exploding with petals, Sylvan Esso and songbirds are making music, and my creative energy is way more inspired than when I was sitting inside. Why would anyone work inside when they could do this instead?

photo4 

Work isn’t the only typically indoor activity you can move outside on sunny days – everything from dinner and boardgames to afternoon naps are better enjoyed out in the fresh air. The key is to make your outdoor space functional, comfortable and inviting. I recently transformed the small, cluttered stoop on my third-story house into a wonderful little nook, and now I am constantly outside. (I’ll be posting a how-to later this week!)

If you aren’t outside at least once a day to soak up this mid-season glory, you’re seriously missing out. Take it outside! It won’t be long until summer settles in, and just the idea of being outside all day makes you start sweating. Take advantage of every opportunity to put a little dash of the outdoors into your day.

* This post is part of my annual series celebrating nature with Nature Valley. Compensation for this content was provided by Nature Valley. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own.  

A Summertime Comeback – and The Morning Fresh’s 4 Year Anniversary!

Whoa – hey, hi, hello!

Has it really been a month since my last blog post? It appears that I took a little blogging (and social media) hiatus in May – without directly intending to. It’s important for writers to step back every once in a while, let the creative juices recharge, focus on other pursuits, and explore what really matters. So that’s exactly what I did.

For the past month, my life has been traveling down a slightly different path than usual. I haven’t been getting outdoors as much, I haven’t climbed, and I haven’t been focused on The Morning Fresh. Instead, I spent my afternoons cuddling with Amble, my mornings drinking coffee on the patio, and my evenings binging on True Blood (there, I admitted it). I’ve walked down to Sweet Action Ice Cream on a shamefully frequent basis, and even dabbled in online dating. And for those of you who missed it – Amble went back to Florida to spend the summer with Niko. I know, it’s heartbreaking.

Enjoying my last days with Amble.

It felt great to take a break from it all and just go with the flow – but when I realized that this month marks the four year anniversary of starting my blog (how crazy is that – here’s my first total-amateur-hour post), I was overcome with a reinvigorated creative energy. Let’s do this, folks!

During my monthlong break, a few big things happened: first, I changed my social media usernames. My primary accounts are now all @katieboue. Why did I make the switch? Well, I realized that my ‘brand’ is even bigger than my blog, and I’m working on a ton of non-blog projects that I want to share. So now @themorningfresh on Twitter is strictly blog-related, and @katieboue is everything. Make sure you’re following both!

I also have a heaping pile of kick-ass adventure coming up – and I don’t just mean the kind of adventure that involves dirty boots and muddy trails. I have been diving into a few projects that are really challenging and inspiring me professionally, but you’ll have to wait to hear more about that.

Since my life would be incomplete without outdoor explorations, next week I’ll be heading to Three Sisters Park in Evergreen to shoot a little video with Backpacker’s Pantry! They cast me as the “expert hiker” for a playful promotional project that I can’t wait to share with everyone. And in case you missed it, I rejoined Sierra Trading Post’s Team Sierra for another season of adventure.

There is so much to catch up on, so many trip reports and gear reviews to be written, piles of photos that need to be edited, and a whole lot of adventure to fill my plate with. I have a book to write, a 45-minute presentation to perfect for my speaking session at Peaks Foundation’s Women’s Leadership and Adventure Summit in July (ladies, go apply for it!), plane tickets to buy – this summer is going to be incredible!

Bring it on, summer! Are y’all as stoked as I am?

The #ColoradoList: One Woman’s Quest to Experience Colorado in 365 Days

In March 2014, I took a leap: With only two weeks notice, I packed up everything I owned and moved from my native state of Florida to Colorado only a few months after returning from a yearlong road trip. I’ve traveled from the grassy prairies in the south to the wild coats of the northwest – but no place captured my heart like Colorado. With endless outdoor opportunities, spirited local culture, and four full seasons for adventure, the Centennial State is the perfect place to explore.

As a new resident of Colorado, I am overwhelmed by how much there is to do – so I’m making it my mission to tick off every experience possible within just one year, from learning how to ice climb in the mountains to getting rowdy at a Nuggets game in downtown Denver. The #ColoradoList is a Colorado bucket list that challenges me to fill my calendar with activities that will push my limits as an adventurer, fill my belly with Colorado’s finest eats, bring me to the state’s most beautiful destinations, and open my eyes to everything the area has to offer.

THECOLORADOLIST

What’s on the list?

You can find the full Colorado List on the official page, broken down in categories like hikes, road trip destinations, and events – but here’s a quick peek at my adventurous to-do list:

1. Summit my first 14-er.
2. Stock up on fresh produce at the Boulder Farmers Market.
3. Visit all four National Parks in Colorado.
4. Go on a hot air balloon ride.
5. Have brunch at Snooze.
6. Stand at Four Corners.
7. Try mountain biking.
8. Backpack to a 10th Mountain Division Hut.
9. Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad.
10. Catch a fish – and eat it.

This year is going to be one of the most transformative experiences of my life on personal and spiritual levels – and I want to make sure that adventure and new experiences are at the forefront of my journey towards becoming a more limit-testing, empowered, independent woman. Bring it on, Colorado!

Want to join me for the adventure? Keep an eye on the blog for posts after every outing, follow the #ColoradoList hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with my bucket list ticks and upcoming plans, or better yet – JOIN ME! Invite yourself along to help me complete my list, or suggest Colorado bucket list to-dos that I don’t have on my list yet (I know I must be missing a ton).

Want to help me complete my list? Can you lend me a pair of snowshoes? Want to equip me with the gear I’ll need to catch myself a fish? Interested in sponsoring a weekend trip to try ice climbing? Whether you’re an outdoor outfitter or local adventure company – I want to work with you to make my bucket list attempt a success and highlight the best brands Colorado has to offer. Please feel free to contact me for information about how to get involved!

Visit the official Colorado List bucket list page here!

Homemade Oatmeal Coconut Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

No matter how “healthy” I try to eat, I always end up caving to overwhelming sweet tooth cravings. I never used to find myself with random bouts of an insatiable need to jam sugary treats into my pie-hole, but lately my confectionary cravings have become a problem – because I tend to satisfy those cravings with things like the expired whipped frosting I found in the back of the pantry last week (not cool, folks, not cool).

The solution? Trade questionable, processed sweets for something homemade. I won’t even try to pretend that a pile of cookies is healthy for me – but baking with wholesome, organic ingredients makes me less guitly when I wake up and eat a bunch for breakfast. My favorite little trick: I swapped the usual butter for coconut oil, yum! The result? A delicious, gooey homemade oatmeal coconut dark chocolate chip cookie recipe – that’s anyone can bake!

Coconut Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (with coconut oil!)The ingredients laid out for my homemade oatmeal coconut dark chocolate chip cookies recipe.• ingredients

+ 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
+ 1 cup coconut oil (softened)
+ ½ cup sugar in the raw
+ 2 eggs
+ 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
+ 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
+ 1 ¾ cup flour
+ 1 tsp baking soda
+ 1 pinch sea salt
+ 3 cups rolled oats
+ 1 cup dark chocolate chips
+ 1 cup shredded coconut

Note: You can adjust the amount of coconut and dark chocolate chips to your taste – but I found this to be the perfect combination!

• instructions

+ preheat your oven to 375º.

+ make the cookie batter.

You’ll make a sugary base by mixing together the sugar and coconut oil. Once you have a nice mixture, add the eggs one by one, and then stir in the milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, blend the flour, baking soda, and salt – then add that to the cookie batter. Last, stir in the oats, coconut, and chocolate chips.

+ bake the cookies.

Plop small mounds of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. I like to moisten my hands with a little water before forming the cookie balls to keep the sugary dough from sticking to my fingers. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes at 375º.

+ enjoy!

Recipe yields about 4 dozen cookies.

I won’t lie and say that this can be excused as a totally healthy snack – but it sure beats devouring an entire box of Girl Scout cookies. For me, becoming a healthier person is all about taking it one step at a time, and slowly making better choices when it comes to what I put into my body. So an oatmeal coconut cookie instead of half a pint of ice cream is just one small victory in the battle towards wellness!

What’s YOUR ultimate sweet tooth weakness?

Bamboo Black Magic Leggings: tasc performance review

For the adventurous, sometimes dirtbagging, sometimes ladylike woman, there is one wardrobe staple that is a non-negotiable must: black leggings. It’s the one item in your closet (or dirty hamper in your van) that can effortlessly go from boulder fields to a downtown speakeasy. I’ve put holes in more pairs of cheap cotton leggings than I can count, so when tasc Performance contacted me with a challenge to test out their women’s apparel, I responded with an eager “game on!tasc Performance leggings.

Here’s the thing about tasc: Everything is made with bamboo. My NOLA crop leggings are made with fabric concocted from 55% organic cotton, 35% viscose from bamboo, and 10% elastane. In normal people terms, that translates to: insanely soft, ridiculously comfortable, and impossibly form-fitting. The design strikes a perfect balance between athletic performance and stylishness.

As a gal who often wears leggings for days (really, weeks) on end without washing them, my first priority was to see how long I could go wearing tasc leggings before the butt area fell victim to the dreaded saggy-butt syndrome. My typical leggings will last a maximum of three days before they lose their hip-hugging shape.

These. leggings. will. not. get. saggy.  Out on a hike with my tasc performance leggings.

During my first test, I wore the leggings for four days straight, then took a few days off before wearing them for two more days before they needed to be washed (because I use my pants as napkins). Then, I just started wearing them with reckless abandon – from hikes around Colorado to airport hopping in San Diego. Ten+ days of wearing these leggings and they fit as snug as they did when I first put them on.

Excerpts from my e-mails to tasc about the leggings include snippets like, “HOW DO THESE LEGGINGS NOT STRETCH OUT IN THE BUTT? It almost makes me mad that I can’t get them to get saggy.” Also, “y’all crafted up some black magic.” Ladies, it just doesn’t make sense.

What makes tasc Performance apparel seem like a voodoo trick is the bamboo technology they perfected. By ditching the usual polyester material used in athletic clothing, they solved major issues like skin irritation, breathability, odor, and that whole sagging issue I keep bringing up. The bamboo also offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun and moisture wicking.Rocking my tasc performance gear on a press trip to San Diego.

While I usually pay around $10 for leggings, the tasc leggings proved themselves worthy of the ~$50 investment. Their durability has taken me from climbing trips to city slicking without a single snag, and I am confident that I’ll have them in my closet for years.

Bonus points: tasc Performance make everything you need to stay cozy (and looking good) while adventuring. I also have the Intensity Sports Bra – which I liked, but didn’t totally love the style of, a pair of well-fitted socks that magically don’t make my feet stink, and a tank top (pictured above) that feels like I’m wrapped in a cloud every time I wear it. I’m currently coveting their grey Contour Fleece.

Disclosure: tasc Performance provided me with a complimentary package of clothing for gear-testing purposes – but as always, the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Misadventuring + Mistakes: You Can’t Go if You Can’t Get There

With as much time as I have spent out on adventures, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve made mistakes outdoors – a lot of them. When Sierra Trading Post asked me to share one of my biggest adventure mistakes for this week’s #STPlive topic, I had a hard time choosing which mishap to share. Like that time I wore heavy snow boots to hike in a rainforest? Or when my cohorts and I didn’t bring an extra pair of socks while backpacking and had to turn around a day early? There were many snafus to consider – but one topic shone more important than the rest: All the mistakes I made with my van during my yearlong trip.

Folks, you can’t go on adventures if you don’t have a way to get there.

When I bought my 2005 Dodge Sprinter, it was in bad shape – and I was a bit too frugal (read: cheap and stubborn) to fix a lot of its issues. Case in point: the van’s bum battery. It should have been replaced before I ever crossed the state lines out of Florida, but it wasn’t. And it wasn’t an issue – until it was a very big one.

Backpacking the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park was a road trip to-do that I couldn’t wait to tick off, and my city-dwelling buddy McGoo had flown out from Colorado to join the adventure. Supplies were purchased, gear was packed, and psyche was high. We mapped out a plan, drove into an area of National Forest where we could boondock for an evening, and woke up early to make the short drive to the trailhead.

But the van wouldn’t start. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We turned the key in the ignition over and over again, hoping that somehow it would jolt the van to life and we wouldn’t miss our early start on the trail – but to no avail. Luckily, I had insisted on spending the night somewhere with cell service – and AAA quickly arrived to rescue us. We arrived at the trailhead a few hours later than we hoped, but the mishap was forgotten the moment our boots hit the trail.

Remember my mention of forgetting extra socks while backpacking? Well, it belongs in this story too – after hiking 10 miles into the rainforest and spending a miserable night with three people packed into a one-man tent, we awoke the next day to realize that I was the only one with dry socks. Folks, hiking in wet socks is a special kind of hell – so we admitted defeat and trudged our blistered feet back to the park entrance.

Mcgoo and I on the Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park. One of many beautiful views enjoyed along the Hoh River Trail in the Olympic National Park.By the time I stomped, slipped, and sputtered my way back to the van, I was caked in sweat and craving a hot meal back in town. Our trio reconvened after splitting up during the hike, and readily agreed that we needed pizza immediately. We loaded our filthy packs into the van, and once again jammed the key into the ignition.

The battery was dead, again.

It was past the park’s closing hours, and there was no one to be found in the parking lot to give us a jump. And AAA? Not an option when you’re deep in the no-service zone. We wandered around until we found the ranger’s after-hours post, and begged for a jump – which we got, after the ranger heckled us a bit. It was clear that we needed to get a new battery. But we didn’t.

In fact, I didn’t replace the battery in my van until a few days later. It took being stranded five miles up a deserted National Forest road and waiting hours until two lumberjacks pulled over and offered us a jump in exchange for two beers that I finally relented and dropped the cash for a new battery.

The lesson here is: You can have all the gear ready, you can map out your trip, prepare your first aid kit, and have all the mental preparation necessary for a great adventure – but none of that matters if you don’t have a way to get there.

Got an adventure mishap to share?
Join the #STPlive chat with Sierra Trading Post on Thursday March 27th at 6:00 PM (Eastern) – and check out other adventurer’s mistakes here on the Sierra Social Hub.

Miami to Denver in 4 Days: Thoughts on Solo Adventure and New Beginnings

If living in a van for a year taught me anything, it’s how to adapt to change. Since the beginning of March, I’ve been rolling with life’s punches (a few of which were way more painful than I’d like to admit), and it’s brought me here: to my new life in Colorado.

But I digress.

First, there was Florida. Perhaps the most uncomfortable part of my transition from journeying with a partner for four years to adventuring as a single woman was the process of packing. Folks, it was just plain awkward at times – and incredibly stressful. The moment all my belongings and gear were stuffed into boxes, I jetted south (again, I had literally just returned to Tallahassee from Miami when sh*t hit the fan) for some spiritual rest in Miami. I soaked up one final week of empanada feasting, dog beach romping, and family festivities before making my final departure from the sunshine state.Soaking up the sun at the Virginia Key dog beach in Miami, FL.My two favorite pups in the whole world, Rusty and Amble.

I made the 2,106 mile road trip from Miami to Denver in four short days – but during those 96 hours, I learned a lifetime of lessons. I spent a lot of time making sacrifices – small ones, like not listening to the (admittedly terrible) music I love to jam to while driving; and big ones, like being with someone who doesn’t ever want to get married. When Niko ended things, he was really just setting me free. And I’m really grateful for that.

Suddenly, I found myself with an abundance of time and choices. Buy two new pairs of boots, just because? Sure. Sushi for dinner three nights in a row? Why not. I had this epiphany moment one morning when I was sitting in my parent’s kitchen and had this nagging feeling like I was supposed to be doing something or checking in with someone – and then it hit me: It’s just me now. Every choice, feeling, and action is my own decision to make. I can do whatever and be whoever I want.

I feel liberated. As Amble and I crossed over one of my favorite American landmarks, the Mississippi River, on our drive out to Colorado, I rolled down the windows and let out a little victory whoop. I was exactly where I wanted to be in that very moment. Crossing the mighty Mississippi River on my drive to Colorado.

My friend Mike said something to me this week that really resonated with me. He told me, “You said you were going to move to Colorado and you went out and did it. You wanted to live in a van, you did that too.” I think I put out a perception that I truly just do what I want and make my all of ambitions a reality – which wasn’t always true, but now it will be.

This year, I’m going to focus on myself. I’m going to become a better adventurer, a healthier woman, and a doer. And what I do won’t be for anyone but myself.

But before I get all me, me, me – I owe an enormous amount of gratitude to everyone who lent me their ears, hearts, and storage space these past few weeks. I wouldn’t be having this empowered personal moment without all of the support and love I’ve recieved. Even when you’re excited about being alone, it’s nice to know you never have to feel lonely.

PS: Consider this the official end of my little social media/writing hiatus. It was wonderful to take a break and reconnect with myself and really do some deep soul-searching – but I’m ready to hop back on the wagon and get these wheels turning.

A Little Twist in Life’s Plot: I’m Moving to Denver (Like, Now!)

I’ve been teetering on the fence of whether or not this is something I really wanted to write publicly about – but after being bombarded with questions and messages and phone calls (y’all are the best!), I figured I really just needed to clear the air and let the cat out of the bag for good. Folks, I’m moving to Denver – like, within a few weeks.

I'm moving - to Denver, Colorado!
We can all agree that relocating to Colorado is probably the best decision I’ve made all year, and it’s going to open up a whole new world of adventure. I’m already planning coffee shop writing mornings at Cafe Europa, hiking my first 14-er in the summer, napping on the grass at Wash Park with Amble, and spending every weekend playing in the mountains. This new chapter in life surely won’t disappoint - and my sister is moving to Denver in August!

Here’s the band-aid that needs to get ripped off: all this joyful anticipation and excitement comes with a dash of sadness. After a year of traveling together, living in a van, and sharing a life of adventure, Niko and I have ended our four-year journey together. It was unexpected (and not my idea), but it is ultimately going to be really positive for both of us. He is such a wonderful person, and the best adventure companion I could have ever asked for – but it’s time for us to trek forth onto our own separate paths.

So there it is. There’s the reason I totally failed us all with the relaunch of the blog, why I’ve been kind of absent from the social media scene, and why I’ll continue to be a little off for the next few weeks. I considered taking a formal hiatus from the blog until I settle into life in Denver – but instead, I’m trusting y’all to forgive me if I just don’t post for a week or so. I’ll keep you posted, and can’t wait to share my new life in Colorado with everyone!

PS: Can I get a collective “UGH!” at the idea of packing everything I own and moving again after I just finished moving into our house in Tallahassee! So not fun.

What’s in my Pack? | roadtrip to miami

One of the best things about living in a van? Everything you own (and ever need) is always with you. Transitioning to life out of my big yellow van has brought along a lot of interesting changes – and accessibility to my “things” has been so hard to adjust to. Now when I’m getting ready for an adventure, I have to pack smart – which I learned after a few weeks of forgetting everything all the time.

Visiting Miami is always pleasant. I’m heading to a land of palm trees, freshly fried empanadas, my mama’s homecooking, and more sunshine that I can possibly soak up in one sitting. Spoiler alert: my favorite thing to pack was my bikini – that poor thing hasn’t been worn in ages!

So what’s in my pack?

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset+ the pack: Returning to Miami always puts me under a bit of pressure to return to my former fashionable self. My stinky, mud-caked camping packs are just not going to cut it – so I turned to the best looking bag in my arsenal: the Topo Designs Klettersack. It’s undoubtedly stylish, but I was really impressed with it’s functionality once I realized I’d be easily able to stuff everything I needed in just this single pack!

+ sunshine state gear: If there’s one thing I can count on Miami to provide, it’s sunshine. The most important thing to bring for that? My favorite pair of Rayban sunglasses – to protect my little eyes! And while my body might need sheilding from those bright rays, my Goal Zero solar pack will be perfect for soaking up the energy from the sun and keeping my iPhone charged while I’m out on the boat all day. Toss in my ENO singlenest hammock for shady naps between palm trees, and I’m set.

+ reading & writing: This trip down south is somewhat of a retreat for me – I’m using this little adventure to refresh myself after transitioning from van life to “regular” life, and it’s prime time for words (both written and read). While continuing to write my own story, I’ve been seeking inspiration and getting schooled in the art of adventure writing as I read Brendan Leonard’s “The New American Road Trip Mixtape.” It’s the best book I’ve read in years. And of course, my little Moleskine planner and laptop (in that sweet Colcasac case) provide material for scribbling down random van thoughts. 

+ the boots: Ladies, take note: Steve Madden’s Troopa boot is the only boot you’ll ever need for day-to-day wear. These certainly aren’t hike-worthy footwear, but they’re the most trusty everyday shoe I’ve ever owned. Buy yourself a pair. Does this make me a hipster? I don’t even care.

+ what to wear: I’m somewhat cheating here – I have an entire closet full of clothes in Miami, so I didn’t need to pack much. The two things I insisted on bringing were my tasc performance sports bra and leggings (not pictured). I’m gear testing them, and after over a week total of wearing the leggings and not seeing any loosening of the fabric, I’m fairly sure the folks at Tasc are up to some bamboo black magic. And I like it. Plus, Miami is the perfect place to test the matieral’s breathability.

+ sustenance: To survive a 10-hour bus ride from Tallahassee to Miami, I need snackage. I have been mega crushing on PROBAR lately, especially their blueberry fuel bars and the cookie dough protien bars. Yeah, that’s right – cookie dough protien bars. Toss a packet of Skratch Labs hydration powder into my Nalgene, and I’m ready to roll.

PS: Notice all those little balms? I’m working on a head-to-head(-to-head) review of climbing’s three best hand salves: ClimbOn!, Joshua Tree, and Giddy. Keep your eye out for the full review in a few weeks!

Are you heading out on an adventure soon?
What’s in YOUR pack?