All posts by A Wandering Mind

I've always loved the outdoors. They inspire. They provoke. And they are wild. People are much more likely to go out and see the world if there parents or friends have taken them on some sort of adventure. I want the awe of the outdoors to continue on and not loose way with the swift uprise of the technological universe. I have wanted to travel the world vagabond style for years and plan to realize this dream when I graduate from college. There is a little wild in all of us and I hope to inspire people to go out and see the world through clear lenses. Adventure. Be spontaneous. Live in the moment. Chuck those jaded lenses far into the core of the earth. It's time to see what is really out there and understand how others truly live. So my goal is to pass a little of my adventure on to you. Stay tight traveler.

Some advice from a College Freshmen

“Well shit that went fast” is all I can think when I look at the ragged mess of a deconstructed loft, strewn clothes, and empty suitcases thrown around my room. It’s been a while since I have written, since last summer actually, but what a better time to get back at it and reflect on this what a whirwind journey this year has been. My freshmen year of college has been one of the most rediculous and insanely fun years of my life and it is bittersweet that it is now over. I have met the most amazing friends this year and have really grown as a person. I have learned about what excites me and what I look forward to in the future. I have set goals for myself that in the past never thought I could achieve but now know I have all the promise in the world to. College gives you tools and insights that are priceless. College surounds you with intellectuals that inspire and push you to achieve. College surrounds you with some of the most brilliant and driven people you will ever have the privalidge of sitting down and having a conversation with. The best part is that people in college all have a few simular goals but most importantly they are here because they want to learn not because they are forced to. The strive to learn is the most important distiguisher between college and highschool, plus you get to learn what you want to learn. For the first time in my young adult life I have actual been given all the power to chose what I LEARN, all the power to chose who I want to BE, and all the power to choose my own PATH in life.

My classes have challenged me more than I ever imagined. Classes like my seminar through the Honor’s College known as Texts and Critics stretched the very fibers of my brain and changed my outlook on both life and the rest of the world. This class single handledly expanded my horrisons. Chemistry 141 (though I had previously taken two years of highschool chemistry) nearly killed me to get a B. So if there is one tip I can give anyone is HIGHSCHOOL DOES NOT MATTER COLLEGE IS FREAKING HARD. Yes previous knowledge is awesome and so helpful, but man ya still got to study your but off no matter how much you think you know. HIGHSCHOOL DOES NOT MATTER in the areas of academia. NO ONE CARES that you were the captain of the football team or the prettiest cheerleader Everyone has their highschool diploma, everyone has their own story, and yes stories are fun to share, but don’t let highschool define who you are because frankly most people just want to move on with their lives and leave highschool in the past. I have grown so much since my highschool self so DON’T LET THOOSE YEARS DEFINE YOU.

YOU WILL MISS HOME MORE THAN YOU THINK! and this is totally okay! I love my parents and my brother. They know me better than I even know myself sometimes. Call them often because they miss you way more than you miss them and they want to know that there baby is doing well and thriving in college. Let them give you advice because they have been there and done that and they can and will help you avoid the same mistakes they have made in the past. Plus when they come to visit it often means a trip to your new favorite resturaunt in town and who doesn’t love free food? Especially on a broke college kid’s budget.

That brings me to my next very important tid bit of advise; SAVE WAY MORE SPENDING MONEY THAN YOU EVER THINK YOU COULD NEED. College is expensive. For me I am in a new town with new things to explore, new places to eat, lots of beer to drink, exploring, camping, roadtripping, and skiing that all costs money. It may not seem like a lot at the time but the expenses really do add up in the end. Now you don’t need endless gobs of money to have a good time in college it just is also really awesome to have a bit of spending money to take spontanious trips to Colorado for opening weekend at Abasin like I decided to take.

  1. Eat at the dinning halls: yes sometimes the food stinks and yes they most definitely get old after a while but there are a few things going on here: a) you probably paid thousands of dollars to eat there so might as well get your money’s worth and b) eating out gets really expensive but is a great treat every once and a while. Plus the money you don’t spend on food can be put towards awesome adventures with your new found friends.
  2. Walk as much as you can: College campuses have a lot going on near and on campus so take advantage of that. Also walking and biking everywhere is a great way to get outside, take a break from studying, and to stay in shape. But most importantly it saves you your hard earned money!
  3. Get an on campus job: These jobs are awesome and typically there are a bunch of them you can apply for. The best part is you can work just a few hours a week if thats all you have time for and you want a bit of a steady income for more spending money down the line. I worked at the front desk of my residence hall on campus for only five hours a week and it was the best decision I made. It wasn’t a ton of money but the little bit of income definitely helped suppliment what I saved over the summer. Heres a litte break down: I came to college with about $700 and ended up making about $2000 and also ended up spending almost all of that money (i.e. I’m pretty damn broke at the moment). Now keep in mind I bought skis and a ticket + gas to sasquatch this may with that money, but it still goes to show I managed to spend a great deal of money this year. I could do college much much cheaper but I did do a lot of traveling this year and just spending in general and don’t regret any of it.
  4. Take advantage of the free events on campus: Campuses often have loads of free events and entertainment to go to or very cheap admission priceses to things. For instance we have a movie theater on campus that shows two dollar movies and our football games were free for students.

As far as meeting people goes don’t be afraid. Everyone is new and everyone is scared. They are in a new place surrounded by loads of people they have never met before. The dinning halls are a fantastic way to meat people. Don’t be affraid to sit down with random people and spark up conversations. Also the dorms in general are fantastic for meeting new people. Get to know your floormates and leave your door open when your around so people feel welcomed to stop by. I also met a bunch of people through the facebook page my college had set up for my class last spring. A group chat through the app group me sparked up and I am still really close to many of the people I met that way. Also don’t expect your roomate to become your best friend or the first people you meet to be your friends forever. You will find your people and you will know it.

One of the biggest things I wanted to touch on in this now pretty dang lengthy post is just to have fun. College is about experiencing new things and experiencing things you never thought you would. Do as much as you can. The netflix seshes can wait till later. GO OUT AND DO THINGS. School work is extremely important but don’t be completely absorbed by it constantly. Put time aside for studying but durring the rest go have fun and meet people. Go on spontaneous adventures, learn to climb, go skiing, go hiking, go running, have cheesy movie marathons with your friends, go on dates, and most importantly discover who you want to be.

I also just want to quickly say DON’T WORRY SO MUCH ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE. This isn’t highschool you wont get judged for wearing sweats to your 8 AM, chances are everyone else woke up five minuetes ago too.

Anyway here are some of my favorite pictures from the year.

Enjoy my shenanigans, there were a lot.

The ‘M’

The ‘M’ is a Bozeman Staple. Yearly student volunteers hike up the steep trail to repaint the white rocks. Its a Bozeman tradition and a great symbol of my new home.

I biked to the ‘M’ from campus, a week or so ago, because the evening was beautiful. We decided to take the “Steep” trail which is no short of its name. The trail carries a very steep and steady incline for the entire way up, but the views are incredible the entire way.

The trail head is outside of Bozeman on the way to Bridger Bowl.

We decided to hike towards the right side of the ‘M’ where there are so cliff outcroppings. The views were absolutely stunning and we were graced with an incredible sunset.

neon orange sunsets  P1020764

the view from the m

The way down on the steep trail is pretty technical due to all of the Loose shale so I would recommend good boots and to take your time. We ended up traversing to the actual ‘M’ so that we could take the standard trail back down.

I really appreciate all the wonderful opportunities for adventure and travel Bozeman has to offer. Its such a wonderful town with even better people and the scenery is amazing. I live in such an amazing state and couldn’t image being anywhere else.

So my challenge to everyone is to go out and do something this weekend. Find a path less traveled, take the hard way up, stray from the crowds, but mostly go EXPLORE.

August Snow

I moved into college roughly a week ago.

Its been one of the craziest weeks of my life, a good crazy. 

It was nice to be able to explore before the beginning of classes this past Monday. 

It snowed above 7000 feet on Sunday so myself and two others decided to go trek to the top of Bridger Bowl. It was incredible to see the green contrasted with the fresh white snow. The hike was muddy and mostly steep all the way to the top but the views were far worth it. 

I’ve skied Bridger a bunch in my life but this was my first opportunity to see the hill in the summer. It was the best of both seasons.

We followed the Bridger lift on the accent and on the decent we followed the cat track that snakes down the mountain from the ridge line.

 

Glacier National Park: Apgar Lookout

In honor of one of my final weekends at home, my parents brother cousins and I went into glacier. I love glacier and its beauty and am so incredibly lucky to be in such close vicinity to such stunning country. 

Our goal was to hike the Apgar Fire Lookout on Apgar peak near you guessed it, Apgar Village. The trail head is located just inside the West Glacier entrance. To reach the trailhead, drive about a half-mile north from the West Glacier Entrance Station, and then turn left towards the Glacier Institute. Drive a short distance to the next junction and turn right (away from the Glacier Institute), then almost immediately make a turn towards the left just before reaching the Swan Mountain Outfitters horse corral. From here you’ll drive another 1.9 miles on a single lane gravel road to the trailhead. (for more info on this hike and countless others in GNP check out http://www.hikinginglacier.com/)

Before we embarked we drove part way up the Going to the Sun Highway (if you ever have the chance I encourage you to drive the whole thing and explore Logan Pass which is the peak of the road). We drove about a half mile or so past the loop trail and turned around due to time constraints

Going to the Sun Highway

99% precent of visitors to Glacier never travel more than 3 miles off of the highway. I encourage everyone to go out and explore more of the park it offers so much. 

So on to the hike….

The trail to the Apgar Fire tower Look Out is 3.6 miles each direction so 7.2 round trip.

It was recommended to me to start hiking a bit after noon so that once at the lookout the sun is on the west side of the fire tower. The reason being is the tower looks east over the entirety of Lake McDonald. With the sun to the west the views of Lake McDonald are stunning.

It is also a good idea to bring bear spray along since most of the hike is in thick underbrush (prime bear habitat) due to the 2006 fires in this area.

Apgar Lookout underbrush

Also due to the fires is the lack of shade so bring lots of water. 

The underbrush and scenery is beautiful the entire trail. Once you begin to climb up the mountain side you can see views of the Flathead river and into west Glacier and over the valley.

views into west glacier

 The wildflowers were everywhere. I was hopping to see some bear grass still in bloom but unfortunately it was done blooming in this part of the park.

Wildflowers Wildflowers Wildflowers 

About 2/3s of the trail is switch backs up to the top but the view is completely worth the effort.

 Apgar Fire Tower LookoutLake McDonald

I feel so lucky to have been able to spend quite a bit of time in Glacier over the years, and it never ceases to amaze me. Its a park that captures the hearts and imaginations of it’s visitors and leaves each one craving more. 

The Continental Divide Trail

Living near the Continental Divide I was always aware of the Continental Divide trail but for years never hiked a portion of it.

Here is the portion I hiked

continental divide trail

This past weekend some good family friends came for a visit so we decided to hike a bit of the Divide. We entered at the MacDonald Pass trail head off of Highways 12 in Helena and Hiked in about 2 miles or so. It was a extremely small portion of the trail in comparison to the thousands of miles it encompasses, but it was really neat to be on such a massive trail.

The Continental Divide Trail

It was a rainy/smokey day so the lighting was pretty interesting and the wildflowers were stunning.

Continental Divide Trail Continental Divide Trail Continental Divide Trail Continental Divide Trail Continental Divide Trail

 

It sounds lame and I know it does but I felt like I was part of something so huge and It was humbling. My tiny journey on the Continental Divide put into perspective just how small our worlds are which is also my reasoning for wanting to travel the world. I want to be able to see as many other “worlds” as I can in order to better grip what the rest of the world is really like.

I would love to be able to one day hike this trail in its entirety and maybe the Appalachian trail as well but for now I have a little taste.

Childhood Dreams

I think its a necessity to live out childhood dreams (within reason). We spend months thinking about them, planning, imagining and we grow up learning that dreams do come true. I think that if any of your dreams are ever in reach you need to reach for the chance to achieve them.

Having a real life legit tea party is not really that big of a dream, but as a kid I would sit and sip water out of my little china tea set with my stuffed animals. They all talked and had personalities and made stellar guests. I always wanted to have an actual proper tea party with sun dresses and the floppy hats, the tea sandwiches and snacks.

So this past weekend my friends and I had our traditional tea out the backyard. Its fun to do strange silly things like this. We tend to plan random get togethers similar to this just because they are fun different and produce memories that last a lifetime. For instance back in December we planned a fancy dinner party because we wanted an excuse to get all dressed up drink a lot of sparkling cider and have a grand ol time celebrating the holiday season.

Christmas Party Christmas Party

A lot of people never really have the chance to fancy up go pretend to be fancy use nice silverware and eat a decorated table to it was really fun to do that for a night and just enjoy good food and even greater company.

I also host an ugly sweater party every year just to be goofy and here is a compilation of some of last years gems.

ugly sweater party

Yes this is a lot of talk about Christmas but the whole point is do things you wouldn’t really normally do. Plan silly things that you have thought about for a while. Just do things that are out of the box. Strive to achieve your dreams no matter how minuscule they are. It’s just about having fun and creating memories.

Craters of the Moon National Park

I had never really knew this park existed before about a week ago when I learned it was on our way to Sun Valley Idaho where our family reunion was going on. I was actually really shocked to learn that a. astronauts use it as a training ground for the actual moon and b. that there was that much volcanic activity in Idaho. When I think of volcanoes Yellowstone and Hawaii are what immediately pop into my head. I learned that the a hot spot had traveled across Idaho all the way to Yellowstone where it resides today. Driving into the park is like entering another world. If you drive the loop (which I highly recommend) you can see much of the park in about a half hour or so. I would have loved to go on some hikes but unfortunately we were just passing through so there wasn’t much time.
Craters of the moon

Craters of the moon

Craters of the moon

Happy Birthday America

Sure this is a tad belated but stay with me.

I have always loved the fourth, perhaps it has something to do with my birthday being the third, but I truthfully think its a lot more than that. I would consider myself a very patriotic person for many reasons but mostly the pride I have for the United States military and for those who serve. I spent the better part of growing up living near Colorado Springs so I came to really appreciate our nation’s brave men and women who serve. Military homecomings will always bring me to tears and my heart goes out to those families with mothers, brothers, husbands, fathers, sisters, and wives who are deployed. I could never imagine how nerve racking every single moment would be until their return months later.

Sure the main purpose of the fourth of July is to commemorate our independence from Britain but I also think its about celebrating our amazing service men and women for continuing to fight for America’s freedom and safety. I think the fourth is about looking back to the beginnings of this country and seeing just how far we have come and where we can go. It’s about celebrating freedoms, the birth of this country, creativity, free speech, voting, democracy, and most importantly the people’s voice. It’s a time to remember our duties as citizens and how lucky we are to have all the freedoms we do. Even though it often doesn’t feel like it, we choose our government and our government is one for the people. Despite all the hard times and frustrations of our time, the fourth gives people continued hope, it renews patriotism, and for at least one day of the year people are proud about the country they live in.

and the fireworks just make me happy. I don’t know maybe it is the pyromaniac within me trying to escape or my constant wonder of what make them work the way they do and the chemistry behind the scenes. I guess it has something to do with the tradition behind them and how this is how people have celebrated the fourth for much of this countries history. Maybe it is also their beauty and how they light up a night time sky with so much color, so much noise, and so much joy. Maybe its the hiking to hills to watch them fly over valleys, lakes, or neighborhoods. Maybe its the memories from my childhood when this was the one night I could stay up super late just to watch explosions streak the sky. Maybe it has something to do with how the weather always seems to cooperate for fireworks. The night of the fourth is often one of the best of the summer.

I had probably one of the greatest birthdays and fourth of Julys this past weekend and I have had some pretty wonderful fourths in the past. This one was spent with so many amazing people and many many adventures. The memories will last forever.

Chicago (senior trip)

Its a tradition after a high school graduation to go on a “senior trip”. This trip is different from any others because the traveler has an entirely different perspective on their life. They have the privilege to see what there future could be like. They see the world through the eyes of a new hungry adult who has any dream at their finger tips.

My grandma (Tutu : Hawaiian for grandma) generously took me to Chicago, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have never spent so much time in a city and and it was incredibly exciting to experience the inner workings of cities.  At the end of this experience I realized that the windy city would be an incredible place to live. Who knows maybe a future job will call me there.

Our trip started a few days after my graduation festivities had subsided.

waiting in the airport

we arrived in Chicago around 1:30 or so and took a cab to our hotel and checked in a got acquainted before our dinner out.  We stayed at the Embassy Suites Lakefront and this hotel had the most misleading name. It was not actually lake front real estate because Chicago’s lake front has been left for parks which is actually a very interesting aspect to the city. The parks all around the city make it feel open and far less intimidating.  They add a much needed contrast to the harsh lines of the skyscrapers. So props to you Chicago.  From our hotel we had a pretty niffty view at a rooftop garden. These are common all around Chicago and I am sure in other cities as well. I thought the tennis courts were also pretty interesting. I can’t help but wonder how many cars or people have been hit by tennis balls from there.

roof top garden

 

I explored around our block for a little bit to get a taste of the city before dinner. I thought this mural was really interesting.

mural

That night we ate dinner at an incredible French restaurant, Henri. It was a really different experience. I had steak tartar, bacon wrapped rabbit and a bananas foster souffle.  The steak tartar was not quite what I expected. I knew it was raw but I thought it would be cured or something so it was an interesting culinary adventure. The rabbit was delicious and I must say it does taste like chicken. Nothing could have beat the souffle though. It was creamy fluffy and amazing all around.

The next day we got up early and took a mini bus tour around the city.  I highly recommend this because you really get a chance to see most of the city and get some bearings for the remainder of the trip. Here are some sights we saw.

Clock tower trump tower Wrigley field

 

Afterwards we ate at Pizzeria Due for the most incredible deep dish pizza I have ever had. No one does it like the Chicagoans. The crust was buttery and flaky and insides were even better. My grandma and I each got individuals which explains the small size.

Pizzeria Due

We then spent the remainder of the afternoon at the science and industry museum. This may be the best museum I have ever been to. The exhibits were all incredible and I only got to see a small portion of the whole thing. I may be somewhat of a museum nut but I embrace it. I have worked in a local children’s museum for almost two years so this trip was almost a research endeavor as well.  I’ll be sharing the exhibits with my coworkers to inspire future exhibits here at home.

They had the entire city scape of Chicago to scale

mini chicago

 

Afterwards I was treated to a surprise evening out to the whites sox game in a box.

white sox game white sox game

I had no idea that any of that night was going to happen and I had such a blast.

The next day we went on the Chicago Architectural Society’s river boat tour. This is another can’t miss thing to do. The tour went through centuries of history about each building and it was really interesting to learn about everything. We also got a great view of the p of the trump tower being assembled and other interesting feats of engineering.

trump tower

Sears (Willis Tower) partial skyline

We then went to more museums including the Natural History Museum where we met Sue. The most complete T-rex skeleton ever found.

Sue the T-rex

 

That night we went to the Blue Man group and I don’t have any pictures from there because no photography was allowed. It was such an amazing performance. They were hilarious and I would highly recommend going to a performance if you have the chance.

Friday was our last day in the city so we went to the Sky Deck on the Willis (Sears) tower. The view was amazing and going out on the decks was a lot less scary than I imagined it would be.

The Skydeck The Sky Deck The Sky Deck

Afterwards we cruised up the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue to hit all the shops.  We speed shopped for sure but it was fun to go into the Burberry store and others and look around.

Our last moments in the city were at dinner with some family who live in a suburb of Chicago. We went out to fondue and just had a wonderful time. Afterwards we traveled back to their house were we spent a few days. One day we went into Wisconsin to go to an outlet mall where I scored some amazing deals. The crown jewel of the day was a north face coat originally 300 which I got for 120. I was pretty darn tickled. We also (with the help of my Aunt) picked out good Wisconsin cheese to bring home to my parents.

This trip was so amazing and I have a whole new perspective on what living in a city is like. Sure I was in a hotel and living the tourist life but I could really imagine myself living in Chicago in the future. The city wasn’t suffocating and I would still have the comfort of family near by.

Chicago is a place completely worth seeing.

Moving On

As a hungry freshmen you never want to leave (or at least I didn’t). I loved it. It tasted like opportunity, like experiences, like senior boys, parties, and damn I have freedoms now. Its a chance for new beginnings and everything is filled with pure joy to finally walk the coveted halls of the infamous “high school”. We grow up waiting to grow and then we grow up and we want nothing but to be little again. It’s weird thinking that my high school journey is actually over and I have to move on and live a productive life about survival. Money becomes the key. It’s terrifying but I thirst for the independence the living on my own and the new place with the new people.

I will miss my high school memories but its time to make new ones as I transition into the greatest chapter of my life. A new door has appeared and I’m opening it.

 

 

 

It’s a bittersweet moment and almost a flashback to those early days of freshmen year. High school has been probably the best four years of my life but it feels insanely wonderful to be done and headed a step closer to the real world focusing on the things I actually want to learn and expanding my brain to limits I never knew existed.  I look forward to really hone in on my major (mechanical engineering) and my minor (materials engineering) and create and discover. I can’t wait to learn about the things I am truly passionate about.

Graduation was a moment I never felt would arrive. I suppose it is similar to that of a wedding or moving. It seems so surreal. Our ceremony was beautiful and I was proud to have gotten “layed” three times.

I just can’t believe its over. This is a crazy insane day and I am just so beyond stoked for my bright future.

P.S. There will be more on my college experiences coming in the future….