December 19th, 2016 | Day 101

an excerpt from my journal

I sit here at Upper Dam Pond, in complete silence & solitude, today is my day off. My day of the week to be with myself, care for myself. Explore myself. The thing I struggle with most is making something out of each day. So often do I get caught in monotony, a slave to routine. I crave constant adventure. But I’ve found some happy places, one of which is here. Upper Dam.

The water so gracefully reflects the green forest canopy & blue sky. The rays of sun soak deep into my skin, & the moths flock. They hang on tight, tickling my skin. Every so often I hear a bird call, or a macaque fall through the canopy. When I’m here, this place is mine. It’s so simple. Makes me feel somewhat whole again to connect with nature’s kindred spirits. These moments are few & far between, but when the opportunity arises, I am HERE, no where else. I find solace in this manmade body of water, & so I shall return to you.

A Type of Lonely

Noosa, Australia | July 4, 2015

an excerpt from my journal

I am watching the sun make her final descent. The ocean to my right, the softest sand beneath my bum, and the glow of dusk in Australian winter. Today my Mum asked me if I ever felt lonely, traveling alone and such. I said no, to get her to stop worrying. But truth is, it does get a bit lonely out here. Though, lonely in such a way that is good for my soul. It’s a type of lonely I need to fully be with myself, seeing this world more and more each day. To be alone and happy, is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Look Up, Think, Wonder

full moon

Do you remember the first time you saw the Milky Way?

It’s easy to feel insignificant. Small. Irrelevant. Our existence is infinitesimal, and the universe will go on without us. I’ve studied a bit of astronomy in my life, and currently reading Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (10/10 recommend). It’s not easy to fathom something so intangible as what exists beyond our small floating rock of a planet — books help make some sense of it. Yet nothing compares to the raw, unfiltered, unadulterated night sky. Quite literally, it’s the most clarity I’ve ever experienced.

Let your mind wander as you look up, think, and wonder what “outer space” really is, and how insane it is that you are a physical form made up of the same chemicals as the stars but with emotion — you have an impeccable ability to love. Humanity has come so far in its attempt to make sense of the greater universe, but we’ll never have all the answers.

The first time I saw the Milky Way was in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. Some friends and I were camping for the weekend. Eating backpacker sandwiches and sipping whiskey. When darkness fully set in, the sky lit up. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Growing up in a place like Los Angeles I never knew it was humanly possible to see so many stars. I’m talking orbiting satellites, planets, shooting stars — I could see what I imagined at the time to be a picture of the entire universe. Awestruck, inspired, humbled. Unanswerable questions floating through my head. I laid on the bench outside our tent for hours before my mind could rest. It was the most beautiful sight.

I’ve since chased many a sunrise and sunset. Seeking out the darkest places in attempt to get a glimpse of that night sky again. It’s an incomparable feeling. And while we may never know the answers to the universe, spending time with the Milky Way has helped me to find many answers to my own infinitesimal existence.

Yosemite National Park, August 2016

Yosemite National Park, August 2016

April 4th, 2017 | Day 207

an excerpt from my journal

I woke up to the warmth and comfort of my attic bed, 6:30 am. I opened the small square window beside me to assess the sunrise and exited the house into the cold, cold morning. And there she was, rising above the towering Sapa cliffs and up through the scattered clouds. I sat on the porch of Ms. Moo’s home, with all of my warmest clothes on, and watched the sky change before me. Water buffalo grazing the morning, chicklets chirping, and piglets running by. Surrounded by so many kinds of beauty in this moment.

The children began to rise and prepare for school. They all stumbled in and out of the bathroom in the same way — the eldest daughter taking more time to groom herself. The little boy with his key and pen around his neck. And Do with the biggest and brightest smile on her face. They ran off way before breakfast, grabbing their clothes from the clothesline and skipping off into the paddies.

Right now, all I can see are these teeny-tiny ant-like people, dressed in white, on the mountain across the way performing some sort of ritual — the sun rises and warms my soul, no sound but the faint echoes of the valley — this must be the place.

Moo emerges in her trekking gear, full Hmong dress and we sat down to breakfast. She and her husband prepared pancakes for me, with fresh honey and banana. Also, of course, more rice and some of the greens we picked last night. The coffee warmed by cold, shivering body and I was ready for another full day of trekking. I said goodbye to Moo and her beautiful home.

The sun was in and out all morning, but I felt so content. We explored Ta Van village — a different energy from Lao Chai. Phuc, I could tell, sensed my desire to break from the crowd and so we took an alternate route, deep into the bamboo forest. It was muddy and I was slipping all over the place, but smiling from ear to ear. Every water break on that trek was more stunning than the last. Still so in awe of the magic of this place!

We stopped in a Red Dzao village to meet Phuc’s friend. Again, such a different energy. And super primitive technology. His friend invited us to sit down with his family for a Dzao holiday — the women sit separate from the men, wearing red headdresses that cover any trace of hair. They all feasted on various types of unidentified meat. I was invited to sit at the men’s table, as I was a guest, and they offered me shots of their rice liquor. This time, much more potent (and infused with fruits!) I was tipsy after only one.

Phuc and I carried on through the muddy Dzao paddies where children played on bikes, and we walked along the rushing river to our lunch spot. I consumed a massive plate of noodles and some fresh mango, while the village women hustled me to buy their goods — I bought a few bracelets.

In our last hour together, we crossed the river and walked up the other side of the mountain. Saying goodbye to Phuc, I had a tear in my eye. I handed him some money and said, “This is not a tip. I’m not a tourist. Use this for your dream,” and he promised to put it in a safe place. I know this wasn’t the last time I’ll see Phuc. He is such a special soul! I am so unbelievably full, my legs limp.

Salt Lake City, Utah

I studied abroad with Allie — we lived in Flat 8, 480 Leith Street in Dunedin, New Zealand circa Spring 2015. We drove an ancient hunk of metal (formally named ‘Marvin’) around the South Island every weekend during that semester. We crossed fords, ran from cows, consumed tuna & cold cans of beans, and relished in each tear-inducing vista with a cheesy Odesza song that no one listens to anymore. My first solo international escapade, I will never forget those months of freedom and sheer bliss, Allie became a life-long friend. Three years of a long distance friendship and a yearning for open space, Allie finally convinced me to join her in Salt Lake City! I guess this is me announcing that I’ll be moving to Utah at the start of 2019. I’m beyond excited to explore a new world of outdoor opportunities, come visit?