Taking the Bus from Cancun to Tulum

Curious about international travel? Here’s how to save, here’s how to pack, and here’s your first destination.

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It’s Monday! Time to daydream for a moment about taking a bus in Mexico. Ohhhh intriguing. A Little bit scary? Meh, it’s amazing. Let me tell you about it. The Yucatan is perfect this time of year. The rainy season just wrapped up and now the weather is quite perfect, warm, but not oppressive. Hurry down soon because once January rolls around, tourists flock to the area for the next couple months.

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Deer Mountain Trail

Want to see more hiking posts? Click here. The only thing you’ll regret is the time spent in front of the screen instead of outside ;-).

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Today we’re sharing some photographs and info about our hike to the top of Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you want even more info when planning a visit, leave us a comment, check out this post about winter camping in the park, or pick up this hiking guide (it’s super detailed and our favorite).

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Field Trip : Botanic Gardens

Have you ever been to a botanic garden? If not, it’s time to find one in your neck of the woods. You may be lucky enough to have one in your city or town, or you may want to visit one the next time you’re on vacation. Trust us, this is a field trip that’s equally entertaining for both adults and kiddos.

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Next Level Landscape Photography

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Ask most photographers what they truly want to shoot and the answer is almost always landscape and travel photography. If there was a viable way to make a living from nature photography, we would all be doing it. It’s not impossible, but it usually comes with the goal of selling something, a product, a place, an agenda, it’s never just a nature shot. That doesn’t stop us from taking our cameras to the woods though. There are landscape shots and then there are landscape shots. Here are a few tips to elevate your game.

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A Day at Circular Quay in Sydney Harbor

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Your first stop in Sydney will inevitably include a trip to the harbor and really it should, it is the most beautiful and active harbor I’ve ever seen. There is so much going on around The Quay that you’ll have no trouble spending an entire day in this area.

First, take a stroll up and down the steps of the Sydney Opera House and wander around the backside to watch the ferries streaming back and forth to Manly beach. If you can, try to spot the Sydney Harbour bridge climbers and contemplate if it’s something you’d like to do yourself.
If you’re hungry, head down to the Opera bar. Nestled right under the opera house near the water, the Opera restaurant and bar has mostly outdoor seating, with a few tables undercover. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to shift your gaze from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the majestic Sydney Opera House all the while making sure those ballsy Sydney seagulls don’t steal a hot chip from your plate. Watch it, because they will.
After you’ve had a bite, wander slowly around the harbor, taking in the sights of street performers and beautiful sounds of street musicians. Over the course of the weekend that I stayed in the Sydney CBD (central business district) I discovered a handful of new favorites. There is some serious talent hanging out at the harbor waiting to be discovered or simply playing in-between gigs.
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If it’s the weekend, the street artisan market will be in full swing. Wander the long way around the harbor (past the big cruise ships and the Park Hyatt) until you see the bridge overhead. Wander through the lovely lawns of the park and take a rest under the bridge on the Adirondack chairs. Then hit up The Rocks Market. Simply head down George street until you see Argyle Street and you’ll run into it. Weave through all the market stalls, following the market onto Playfair Street. If you’re feeling an afternoon snack or brew, the market streets have ample offerings in the way of food stalls and sitdown restaurants.
After some shopping in The Rocks, roam back towards George Street and The Quay and you’ll see the back entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s free of charge so enjoy and leave a donation on your way out if the experience spoke to you.
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After art comes gelato. There are a plethora of places nearby, I had Royal Copenhagen, it was divine. I highly recommend the passionfruit, but go ahead and sample them all first.
Take a nice rest on the lawns in front of the art museum while you watch tourists enjoying the harbor for the first time and locals making their way home from work. Let flocks of Australian white ibis invade your spaces as you listen to your new favorite street musician.
If you’re feeling energized, walk back up through the rocks to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Stroll to the center or climb up into the Pylon Lookout and watch the golden hour cast a beautiful color on the city of Sydney with soft yellow light. If that sounds like too much work, head into the Sydney Theatre Company, or one of the other dozen theaters, take a seat, and enjoy the show.
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Backpacking on the Ozette Loop

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Hey there! In July, I hiked the Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park in Washington. Although I completed the loop as an overnight backpacking trip, the Ozette Loop would also make a nice day hike.  The nine-ish mile loop starts in a coastal forest environment, forks right and winds its way across boardwalks until it dips slightly to the coast. Walking along the beach is the more challenging section, but only because you’re trudging through sand. Eventually, you reach Sand Point, a gorgeous outcropping with a large rock that you can climb atop of. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset and the ease of the return trip makes it possible to hike back during twilight and even as darkness falls if you’re not keen on camping. Over the course of the loop, the elevation change is less than 500 feet and beside the beach, most of the trail is on a wooden boardwalk. It’s nearly impossible to get lost and while you should always take a map, you shouldn’t need to consult it even once.

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I found the Ozette Loop to be equal parts easy and exciting. As I mentioned, there’s not much elevation change and much of the trail takes place on a wooden boardwalk through coastal forests. While hiking on a boardwalk can be a bit boring, it gives your brain a chance to focus on your surroundings instead of your next steps. Walking amongst giant hemlock and cedar trees and seeing beautiful ferns and moss dripping with moisture had me thinking about ancient reptiles, sea creatures, and dinosaurs (turns out the first dino bone discovered in Washington happened just a couple years ago).

After about three miles, you’ll shuffle down a short and steep section (there’s a rope to aid in your decent) that spits you out on the sand. At this point, my hiking partner and I took off our shoes and shirts, found an enormous downed tree and had a quick snack and snooze. Then it was time to march on along the beach. Looking out towards the sea stacks we thought about the expanse of the Pacific. Was the trash on the beach from Japan? Some of it seemed so.

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I opted to hike the two beautiful miles along the beach in Chacos. I tried bare feet for a few moments, but the sand was a bit too coarse for comfort. There was also a fair amount of sharp debris, kelp piles, driftwood and rocks covered in barnacles underfoot. Depending on the changing tide, there will be a few impassable headlands. You’ll have to scramble up over a big boulder or two (apparently there are ropes to assist, but we didn’t see or use them) or hike into the woods to navigate around them. These areas are evident and I found them to be easy enough to manage with an overnight pack. I thought that navigating around the series of downed trees was more exhausting, mostly because I’m short and those tree trunks are huuuge.

As you make your way around the headlands, be on the lookout for the Wedding Rocks petroglyphs. I’m sure I would have missed them if my friend hadn’t pointed them out to me. They are so amazing we thought that they might be fake, but a quick google search proved us wrong. I had seen petroglyphs in Mesa Verde, Colorado, but these were radically different not only in style (obviously) but also in size and definition. Thinking back, I wish I would have prepared myself for that moment because I would have stayed and enjoyed them longer instead of thinking I was being duped. I had expected to see small paintings, not large rock carvings. The petroglyphs were carved by the ancestors of the Makah tribe using tools made of rock and bone.

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Soon enough you’ll reach Sand Point and a whole host of campsites. We wandered around for a good bit trying to find a site that was semi-secluded, which proved to be tough since we rolled in late on a Friday evening. Although we could see other tents from our site, once the sun went down I truly forgot that anyone else was around. There was also the option to camp on the beach, but we liked the sheltered feel of the forest. If you do camp on the beach, know where the high tide line falls or you’ll wake up soaking wet. The next morning, bask in the sun and eat your breakfast on the beach before hiking the 4ish miles back to the trailhead.

Know before you go :

  • As always, Leave No Trace.
  • No pets, use of weapons, or wheeled devices on the trail.
  • Reservations and permits are required for overnight camping between May 1 and September 30 & must be made no more than 48 hours in advance. (The website said 72, but we were told 48 at the station. It may depend on the month)
  • Campfires are prohibited between the headland north of Yellow Banks and the headland at Wedding Rocks including Sand Point.
  • Only use driftwood for fires. Don’t gather firewood from the forested areas. Use existing fire rings or build fires on the beach to prevent damage to tree roots.
  • All food, garbage, and scented items must be stored in a park-approved bear canister. Bear canisters are available to rent when you pick up your permit.
  • Max group size of 12 people.

Water & waste :

  • There is a creek at Sand Point and Cape Alava, but beware that Cryptosporidium and Giardia are present in coastal streams and rivers. Bring a purification system or boil your water. Iodine is ineffective against cryptosporidium. I didn’t know that until this trip. I’ve been using iodine all my life. I ended up purchasing these chlorine dioxide tablets, which treat both Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
  • Pit toilets are available at Sand Point and Cape Alava. Elsewhere you must bury your waste and paper six or more inches deep and seventy steps from water sources and your campsite. LADIES! Always take your used toilet paper with you after you pee. It’s offensive to see it on the ground. I carry a plastic ziplock that I put all used toilet paper in. It’s that easy.

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What to pack for a day trip :

If I’m day hiking, sometimes I like to be extravagant. Wine with dinner while watching a sunset, anyone?

  • Apply sunscreen + bug spray before you leave
  • Water
  • Purifying tablets
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Knife
  • Snacks
  • Lunch or Dinner
  • Wine?
  • Sunglasses
  • Pullover
  • Rain jacket
  • Chacos
  • Camera
  • Hammock + straps
  • Headlamp

What to pack for an overnight trip :

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The food we packed :

We started later in the day after we ate lunch so we packed snacks, dinner, and breakfast for our overnighter. And wine. And weed. Relax, it’s legal in Washington.

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Reconnect Retreat in Tulum, Mexico

Happy Monday babies! Last night I finally bought my flight to Mexico. I’m hosting a meditation and movement retreat in Tulum from Oct 19-24th.  I’m heading there a few days early and staying through Los Día de Muertos and initially, I had this hesitation about missing Halloween (my favorite holiday!), but how often will I get the chance to celebrate Dia de Muertos in Mexico, ya know? I made the right choice, right?

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After I bought the ticket, I had this insatiable urge to know everything there is to know about Tulum. I’m arriving three days early, but I’ll want to get a good headstart on all the eats, shopping, sipping, and such so I can give my guests great recommendations. As a seasoned traveler, I know this notion of knowing where to go ahead of time is ridiculous. There’s no possible way to know exactly where to go, what to eat, and what to do, but I gave it the old college try and so here I sit, three hours later at nearly 5 am still reading about Tulum. I’ve found what I always find when researching a destination, an endless hamster wheel of the same exact recommendations from bloggers. Either these places are the tops OR everyone reads the same blogs and constantly recycles recommendations, never straying from what was introduced to them on the internet. Ah, the traps of travel in the twenty-first century.

After seeing the same restaurant pop up on every list, I made a mental note to look into the back story after all my general Tulum researchin’ had commenced. Funny thing, the very next Pinterest image I clicked on was actually a Conde Nast photo story about the American couple who runs said restaurant. Maybe I’ll go, wait in the two-hour line and report back, but maybe I’ll opt for a nameless cart on the roadside that’s been around for decades before all the tourists (and NY expats) flocked to Tulum to open restaurants. Depends on how hangry I am, but I’ll report back on that.

Besides all the restaurant recs, I’ve read up on biking Tulum, visiting ruins and cenotes, and of course SHOPPING! For the past few hours, I’ve imagined wandering around Tulum town with my sweet little retreat guest as we fill our bags with colorful handmade goodies. I’ve pictured us waking up early to salute the sun before heading off to the ruins, followed by a dip in the sea and a barefoot wander down the jungle beach road. I see us all with hands full of tacos and smiles on our faces. Laying on the sand and in colorful hammocks and poolside with midday cocktails. I see the beauty and balance that comes when we decide to take a moment to care for ourselves like we’re the most important people on the planet if only for a few days. Then we can get back to the emails, texts, phone calls and favors, but for retreat week, we’ll have to slow down, forget the wifi password, and work on reconnecting with the ones sitting on the beach beside us.

Here’s a link to my Tulum, Mexico Pinterest board if you want to see all the tasty taco stands I want to try out during my trip & here’s a link to the Rest + Reconnect Retreat that I’ll be hosting. We have a couple spots left if you need an October getaway!

*Photos by my sweet & savvy travelin’ friend Erin.
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Teachable Moments : Beach Reads

Teachable Moments is a relatively new series on the blog, you can find the archive here. You can learn more about Saxis in this selection of posts, and here are more beach book recommendations for adults and kids. If you’d like to see our favorite sun gear for toddlers, click here.

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When we start planning for our time at the beach, my mind immediately turns to the books I’ll read. Hours sitting on the beach provide the uninterrupted reading time that we just don’t seem to find elsewhere in life. Wait, if you’re a parent reading this, that statement is laughable. Who sits still on the beach with two kids? And to that, I say, touché. That’s when you teach your kids about the joys of the beach nap.

But in all seriousness, as the boys have grown, I’ve started to think more intentionally about their beach reads. These boys love a good adventure, and when we’re traveling I find that they fully immerse themselves in the new environment. They aren’t sitting around thinking about Colorado and the mountains; instead, they’re exploring!  And what better way could there be to teach them about the place they’re visiting, and the animals and people that live there, than to read books?

I’ve made an effort over the years to stock the beach house with good ocean and bay-related books for the kids. It’s nice to have these books there rather than at home because the stories really come alive when they’re reading about animals that they just saw on the beach and in the marsh. And I know that they can relate to crabbing and fishing adventures when they’ve just spent the afternoon on Poppop’s boat putting bait in the crab pots and casting out their finishing lines.

Below is a list of our current favorites (for reference, the boys are 2 and 4). Admittedly, I’m particularly smitten with books written and illustrated by local artists, so you’ll see quite a few on the list. They add an intimate feel in their descriptions of the place that could never be achieved in a generic book about ocean/beach life.

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The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library

I know opinions can vary when it comes to Dr. Seuss. The wording can be awkward and leave you tongue-tied, which is not the best for reading aloud. But it rhymes, and I’m a sucker for a good rhyming text, especially one that’s educational.  Each book flows really well after one or two readings.

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Mitchell Lake Trail : Summer

We like a good hike, and every once in a while we take the opportunity to slow down, take pictures, and share the adventure with you. You can check out some of our previous Colorado hikes here.

Hello from Virginia! I’m popping in to share a hike that we took a few weeks ago in mid/late July.

We hiked this same trail (and more) two times last October when there was snow on the ground and ice on the trails. You can read more about those hikes in that post, and I’m going to repost some of the general information about the Brainard Lake Recreation Area the Mitchell Lake Trailhead below.

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Trail Location

The trail starts within the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, but quickly leaves that area and continues on into the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

Brainard Lake Recreation Area is open to vehicles from June – October, but the exact opening and closing dates vary each year based on the weather. The entrance fee is on a sliding scale from $1 if you’re walking to $10/car, BUT you can access this area for free with a Nation Parks annual pass. When the area is closed during the winter, you can still park at a lot near the entrance and then enter the area by foot/ski/bike.

During the summer months, you can drive into the area and park at a number of lots. There’s a day-use lot near the main lake that often has spaces, and then there are two smaller lots near the Long Lake and Mitchell Lake trailheads, but in our experience, both of these fill up fairly early and remain packed throughout the day.

If possible, park at the Mitchell Lakes Trailhead and you’ll be able to quickly access the trail, if the lot is full, you’ll have to park in one of the other lots and walk over to the trailhead.

On this particular day, the Long Lake and Mitchell Lake parking areas were full, BUT we brought bikes! It was an easy ride from the day-use lot over to the Mitchell lot, and then we locked the bikes up by the ranger shed at the start of the trail. 

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Trail Overview

The hike to Mitchell Lake is just under a mile, and it’s another 1.6 miles to reach Blue Lake. These are both out-and-back destinations, making the round-trip hike to Mitchell approximately 1.8 miles and the hike to Blue Lake five miles. The altitude at the trailhead is approximately 10,500 ft, with a gradual climb of just 200 ft to Mitchell Lake and then reaching a final altitude of 11,300 ft at Blue Lake.

On this particular hike, we only made it to Mitchell lake, but last fall, we made it all the way to Blue Lake (on our second try!).

This is a popular, well-worn trail that is easily visible when there isn’t much snow on the ground, and was relatively well marked with flashes on the trees..

Near the base of the trail, hiking is relatively easy with that slow, gradual climb to Mitchell Lake. There is one large stream-crossing over a short wooden bridge, and then another crossing over a wider stream with fallen logs used as the bridge. In other segments, planks are used to keep hikers out of boggy areas.

If you go beyond Mitchell Lake, there are some steep areas where climbing the rocks is similar to climbing a steep set of stairs, with an increase in the portion of steep climbs as you approach Blue Lake.

Last fall, there was some snow on the trail that had been tramped down and turned to ice, making some areas slick. This summer there was no risk of snow on the trail, but there were plenty of mucky spots and mud puddles. 

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Hiking with Kids

Last fall I said that young kids (4 to 8 year olds) should be able to hike to Mitchell Lake with minimal help but would likely need help making the full trek to Blue Lake. Older kids 8+ should have no trouble with the full hike. Those estimates were based upon the kids we saw on the trails as we hiked. Seeing 4 year-old Alex run along the trail to Mitchell Lake this summer, I think that we were right on target with the lower range.

One big difference between our October and July hikes was the muck! As you can see, we had (almost) no reservations about letting them go wild.

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Dressing for the Trail

At this time of year (and almost any time!), it was really helpful to dress in light layers. Since it was summer, our base layer consisted of tank tops and shorts for the boys, with a hoodie for more coverage. 

I think the key to relaxing on this hike was recognizing that there was going to be muck and being prepared to let the boys play in it with wild abandon. Both boys wore their water shoes, which were perfect for this short hike. We let the boys get wet, jump in mud puddles, and generally disregarded the rules of hiking concerning good socks and dry shoes. If you’re going out for a longer hike and have kids with sensitive feet, water shoes may not be appropriate. 

And don’t forget sunscreen! While there are some segments with plenty of shade, there is a lot of sun shining on much of the trail.

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If you’re in the Boulder area, this hike and the whole Indian Peaks area is definitely worth your time. Just know that everyone else loves the area too, so try to get there early before the lots fill up. Good luck!

On this hike we realized that by 2pm on a summer afternoon the lots are starting to open up. If you’re going for a short hike like this one, that’s still a great time to head out, with the added benefit that you won’t have the strong mid-day sun shining on you.

Even so, facing the crowds is totally worth it to hike (or re-hike) the trails around Brainard Lake. This is such a beautiful area, and it’s such a pleasure to see the trails change with the seasons.

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Rishikul Yogshala 200hr Yoga Teacher Training – Pokhara, Nepal FAQ

Hiya! WTF is this post about? Let me decode that title. Rishikul Yogshala is the school in India where I was formally trained as a yoga teacher. I’m an RYT or registered yoga teacher with a 200-hour certification. Although Rishikul’s founding school is in Rishikesh, India, the birthplace of yoga, Rishikesh holds teacher trainings in many places. I completed my training in Pokhara, Nepal in 2015.
Since that time, I’ve written a post about my experience during the 200hr teacher training. I get dozens of emails each year from prospective students, all over the world, asking all kinds of things. I thought it’d be cool to outline them all here as a guide for future students and a reference for anyone thinking about participating in a yoga teacher training. The following are all questions I’ve received. If there’s something you’d like to know that you don’t see, just ask and I’ll add it to the list.
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