Which Country Has the Prettiest Sheep?

This is a little outside my normal realm of blogs, but with an open mind, it should be entertaining nonetheless. When I was planning my trip to New Zealand, I read numerous articles about there being more sheep than people on the small island. This is 100% fact. There would be times when I would go on a walk and not see anyone for hours, but I would see about 500+ sheep. There are also a lot of jokes between the Aussies and Kiwis about how they treat their sheep – perhaps a little too friendly. After returning from my trip, my friends had found a movie for me to watch titled Black Sheep. It was a horror film about New Zealand and their sheep.

As I continued my travels, I found more sheep. These countries didn’t necessarily have more sheep than people, but they still had a lot of sheep that were a huge part of their economy. This sparked a debate amongst my close group of friends. Which country has the prettiest sheep? I told you this blog was going to be entertaining.

Ireland

I was in Ireland for about a week. I had hired a car and planned to drive around the whole country. It was February, so not a lot of tourists, and I felt pretty lucky with the weather. I’d heard an Irish winter can be quite rough. The countryside was beautiful. Lush rolling green hills, pristine beaches and old castles and churches. When I would reach my nightly destination, each town was as lively as the next and offered a true Irish experience. Cold Guinness, and a lot of Irish folk music. I was driving from the Dingle Peninsula to the Cliff of Moher and would spend the evening in Galloway. Driving on these tiny roads on the left side was a little challenging for me, but I was gaining more confidence each day. On this particular day, I turned a tight corner and saw a herd of sheep! They were headed right for me and taking up the whole road. At this point, all I could do was stop the car and grab my camera. I just stood still while the herd of sheep swarmed me and the car. The farmer was close behind on a quad and continued to herd the sheep past me. Welcome to Ireland, Keelie.

Peru

I went to Peru with two intentions. I wanted to hike to Machu Picchu and I wanted to do some volunteer work. I was there for three weeks. I volunteered at a local school where I helped make lunch in the morning and taught the children English in the afternoon. It was a humbling experience. After my volunteer work was complete, it was time to hike Machu Picchu. If you would like to learn more about the Lares Trek, you should check out my blog on Machu Picchu. During the trek, we walked through villages and farms of alpacas and llamas. They were everywhere! I know alpacas are more related to camels than sheep, but they have some sheep like qualities. I did manage to find some sheep sprinkled throughout a herd of alpacas, but they looked a little out of place.

New Zealand

The sheep capital. Technically, there are other countries that have more sheep than New Zealand, but they might win the category of most sheep per square mile. When I was on my Hobbiton tour, our guide told us that they used to let the sheep graze near the Hobbit house to keep the grass short. The Hobbit houses consist of the outside, and enough room inside for someone to walk in and shut the door. All the filming inside the houses took place in a studio in Wellington. Anyway, the guide said they can no longer use the sheep to mow the grass because one day a sheep wondered inside the small area inside the house and managed to shut the door on itself. The sheep panicked and busted out the fake window of the Hobbit house and destroyed the front area. It was quite expensive to fix, so now sheep are not allowed to graze near Hobbiton.

Another funny story about sheep and Hobbiton is that when they were filming Lord of the Rings, they brought in stunt sheep. The country of New Zealand has around 30 million sheep, but they thought the sheep looked too happy and the landscape wouldn’t look like dreary England. So, they hired some sad looking stunt sheep for the films.

United Kingdom

Speaking of England, the UK is home to a lot of sheep. While most of the sheep can be found in Wales, I did see some when traveling around England and Scotland. It was winter, so the weather was rather dreary, and the sheep were grazing through grass and mud. Stonehenge is located near a sheep farm, so as I gazed upon the ruins I also saw sheep, I couldn’t help but think about how they had to import sheep from England to New Zealand because they needed sadder looking sheep. And then it started to rain. Yeah, I’d be kind of sad too.

Now that you’ve heard my stories and seen pictures of the sheep, what country do you think has the prettiest sheep? Tell me in the comments below or tweet me at @keeliec5. Hopefully, my stories weren’t too bias to sway your opinion. 😊

Until next time…

Cheers!

Keelie

Picture Perfect Views – Reno Edition

Reno, NV aka The Biggest Little City in World. Located in the Eastern Sierra, this little gem has always been known for its gambling, neon and the “smaller Vegas.” What you might have not known is that Reno offers spectacular views. Climb up one of their desert mountains just before sundown and you’ll be treated with one of the most colorful sunsets you’ve ever seen. Whether you are looking for a view of the city or the mountains I have you covered. Keep reading and find where the best views in Reno are.

Dry Pond Loop

Located in south Reno is the popular Dry Pond Loop. The trail head starts off of Timberline Road – look for either the Upper Thomas Creek trail head or Jones White Creek. You will have to walk a little bit along Timberline road to complete the loop, this trail can be completed in either direction. As you wind up the mountainside and into the Mount Rose Wilderness, you will see a sign for the Dry Pond Connector. The views along this trail are quite spectacular, but the summit offers the best view of Mt. Rose framed by pine trees.

View of Mt Rose

The ‘N’

This trail is short but steep with rewarding views. Start your hike from either Rancho San Rafael Park or the Reno Softball Complex off Virginia St. The ‘N’ stands for Nevada, and this hike offers some of the best views of the University and the park below. If you plan to complete this hike during the afternoon in the summertime, please bring appropriate cover and water as this hike is fully exposed. One of these years, I plan to watch the balloon races from the ‘N’ – I think the view will be stellar.

The 'N'
Photo Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Huffaker Hills

This isn’t a long hike, roughly 2 miles, so it’s a perfect way to get out and stretch your legs while taking in panoramic views of the valley. Find the trailhead off Alexander Lake Road. It’s a rocky path so bring appropriate shoes. And maybe some drinks or a picnic! This is the perfect spot to take in the city.

Harriet the Dog

Hunter Creek

Another local favorite, Hunter Creek is about 6-miles long, out and back and features a waterfall at the end. Set in the hills of west Reno, you get some amazing views of downtown framed by the canyon. A majority of the hike is exposed with the last miles or so taking place amongst the pine. You’ll forget all about the neon and casinos of Reno when on this hike.

Hunter Creek Waterfall

What is your favorite hike in Reno? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie  

Why Traveling Can Help With Grief

So, this is my personal blog about travel and adventure. Well, this is a personal story. I’ll spare you all the sad details, but in November of 2014, I lost my baby sister in a car accident – she was 19. It was tragic and devastating for my family, but as the saying goes, life goes on. Everyone deals with grief differently. For me, well you’ve heard the story. I quit my job in October 2015 and was hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand on the one-year anniversary of my sister’s passing. I believe that travel can help people cope with grief and here’s why.

Remembering the Good Times

Growing up my family did a lot of camping, hiking, exploring, you name it. Spending time outside and enjoying nature has me remembering the good times. Go someplace you usually would visit together, partake in an activity you both enjoyed, and remember the good times you spent with your loved one. I like to visit restaurants I used to frequent with my sister, hike trails I used to hike with her or camp places we used to visit together. I can’t explain it, but it helps me feel closer to her.

Fulfilling a Bucket List

Perhaps your loved one left one behind. I will never know exactly what was on my sister’s bucket list, but I have a feeling it would be filled with a lot of traveling and fun adventures. Each time you visit a new destination, take a momentum of your loved with you – like a trinket or a photo. Yes, they are not physically there, but because of your love, you know you are never truly alone. I believe each new destination I visit is helping my sister fulfill her bucket list and honoring her memory.

New Memories

Whether we like it or not, life goes on. The days pass, the years pass. I know my sister would not want me to sit there and dwell on the past. She would want me to get out there and create new memories. Whether that is taking your first solo trip and backpacking through a country for 8-weeks or going on a weekend trip to New York with some of your besties. Creating new memories is just as important and remembering the old ones.

Sharing Their Legacy

I want everyone to know the legacy of my sister. Whether that’s telling a stranger I met about her or writing her name in the sand for everyone who walks on the beach to see. I find comfort in knowing that I am spreading the memory of my sister all over the world and keeping her legacy alive.

We all deal with grief differently, and that’s okay. I hope you can find some peace during this difficult time. Also, I don’t think we ever stop grieving, so really it’s about how we live with it.

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I love you Fraine 👼💕

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What is your favorite memory of a lost loved one? Tell someone. You can tell me, tell a friend or write it out in the sand on a beach in a far away land.

Until next time…..

Love ❤

Keelie

The Bleisure Trip – Las Vegas

What is a Bleisure Trip? It’s combining your business trip with a leisure trip. Whether you show up to your conference early, stay a little late, or add on a few extra days to that out of town business trip, the Bleisure Trip is the latest trend in travel.

Las Vegas – home to over 40 million visitors a year is popular with leisure travelers, but also conventions, conferences, meetings you name it. This makes the 24-hour town perfect for the bleisure traveler, especially if you’ve never been!  If your conferences are anything like the ones I’ve been to, you maybe have one free night to explore, so extend your trip over a weekend to get the full Vegas experience.

Where to Stay

If you’ve never been to Vegas and experienced the Strip, stay on the Strip.  Whether that’s extending your stay if your conference hotel or picking a new one, you’ll want to be where the action is. Do your research. There are tons of different hotels on the strip and they all vary in price or activities. Plus, the Strip is 4 miles long, so you won’t necessarily be walking up and down it. I have been to Las Vegas a handful of times and usually stay on the south strip in the Tropicana. It’s a great hotel, and I’m all about the greasy pizza deals at the nearby New York New York.

However, during my last trip (which happened to be a bleisure trip) I stayed at Planet Hollywood during the conference and moved over to The LINQ for the weekend. These hotels are located in the center strip, and I loved being in the center of the action. Planet Hollywood is right across the street from the Bellagio. It was pretty cool walking outside my hotel and seeing the fountains. I also loved the atmosphere of The LINQ. They have corn hole and beer pong at the pool. The LINQ Promenade is right outside with great dining, zip lining, and the High Roller – the Ferris Wheel built after the London Eye.

What to Do

This might be a loaded question because what isn’t there to do? Gambling is an obvious choice, but I’m not a huge gambler. Well, since this is your first time to Vegas, you need a picture with the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I waited about 25 mins in line for a photo, but it’s a really cool photo. One of my favorite things about Las Vegas is the shows. It could be an act that has a residency, a band that happens to be in town or a cirque show. Usually when in Vegas, I try to catch a Cirque show. But this last time, I opted to see the Backstreet Boys during my “free night” of the conference and then that weekend saw Blink-182. My late 90s heart was very happy. I also recommend the High Roller in the LINQ Promenade or Zip lining down Fremont Street. If you are in Vegas when the weather is still warm, don’t miss the pool! Soak up that Nevada sun and rest up for a long night ahead of you.

If you have the opportunity to turn your trip to Las Vegas for a conference into a Bleisure trip, invite a friend! If you live on the west coast, this is an easy weekend trip for your significant other to fly down and meet you. There is a reason why Las Vegas attracts so many visitors a year. It’s a fun place with a lot to do! Have you ever gone on a Bleisure Trip? Where did you go? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie

Backpacking the Tahoe Rim Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail is 165 miles long and goes around the entirety of Lake Tahoe. You can choose to complete the thru-hike in one fell swoop, you can do day hikes on portions of it, or you can choose to backpack just parts of it. I have done the latter two, but I want to talk specifically about backpacking from Mt. Rose Summit to Spooner Summit on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Trail

You technically start just south of Mt Rose Summit (within walking distance) at Tahoe Meadows. There is a huge parking lot where you can leave your car and a proper toilet before embarking into the wilderness. This section of the TRT is about 25 miles long. We hiked around 15 miles the first day and 10 miles the last day. I recommend you leave a car at the Spooner Summit Trail head. You might be able to hitch a ride back, but I was so beat after this trek, that the last thing I wanted to worry about was how I getting back to my car. The trail takes you up along the east shore of Lake Tahoe, and the highlight of our first day is when you reach the summit above Marlette Lake. Here you get a view of Marlette and Tahoe in one shot. If you are keen on visiting Marlette Lake, read my blog about the Lake Tahoe Flume Trail. From this point, your first day of hiking is almost complete. There is a campground you can stay at called Marlette Peak Campground. They have vault toilets, bear lockers, a picnic table, a fire ring and most importantly – potable water. We made dinner, played cards and enjoyed some whiskey after a long day of hiking.

On day two, you’ll wind alongside a mountain offering picturesque views of Lake Tahoe before you head into the trees until you reach Spooner Summit and the end of the hike. Do look out for the TRT signs. At one point we ended up on the Flume Trail and had to back pedal. We probably added about 1 mile to our overall hike with this little detour.

The Essentials

You might be a seasoned pro at backpacking and not need a list. For me, this was my first trip. I had a backpack – it was the one I had trekked all through New Zealand, Europe, and Peru – and that was it. It’s a little small compared to some traditional backpacking backpacks – 46L – but I am just over 5’, and when that thing is stuffed, it’s heavy for me. Outside of my backpack and hiking clothes, I didn’t own anything needed for backpacking. I borrowed a sleeping bag from a friend. I opted for her warmer bag because I get cold easily, and we were going to be camping high in the Sierra. I didn’t have a stove, so I brought food that didn’t require heat. I packed tortillas, peanut butter, nuts, jerky, protein bars, and a couple of Mountain House’s freeze-dried meal Granola with Blueberries and Milk – just add cold water. One of my friends brought his Jet Boil and ended up trading me one of my Granola meals for a Steak and Pepper meal. It was pretty tasty, but then again anything is pretty tasty after a 10-mile hike carrying a 15 lb. backpack. I also brought a tarp to sleep on that night (I didn’t own a tent, nor would a tent fit in my backpack). However, one of my friends brought a tent but didn’t care to sleep in it, so he let me borrow it. I also packed an ultra-lightweight sleeping pad (borrowed), and whatever toiletries or clothes I thought I needed. Lucky for me, my friends had packed the playing cards and the whiskey.

Do pack extra socks! The last thing you want is your feet to develop blisters on this long trek, so a fresh pair of socks is mandatory! Also mandatory is water. I brought 4 water bottles. I did not bring a filtration system because the campground had potable water (and lots of bees, but that’s beside the point).

I don’t have a packing list for backpacking to share with you (though I most likely will end up creating one), but if you have any thoughts or questions about what to bring, or what life is like on the TRT either leave me a comment below or tweet me at @keeliec5. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie

Girls Trip – Bucks Lake, CA

You might have read my blog post on Why Costa Rica Should Be Your Next Girls Trip, well, this one is filled with just as much adventure but a little closer to home. Camping is always a great adventure, so why not mix it up and turn it into a Girls Trip?

Pick an Awesome Location

Although you can have an awesome time anywhere with your girls, picking a stellar location just adds to its amazingness. My choice for a camping Girls Trip is Bucks Lake, CA. Bucks Lake is located 25 miles west of Quincy, CA, and the perfect weekend getaway for anyone living in Reno. It has everything. About two hours from home, an awesome lake, hiking trails and some nearby restaurants. There are quite a few campgrounds along Bucks Lakes, most of them first come first serve. We were lucky enough to grab a lakefront site at Sundew Campground. We had to wait for the current people to vacate the site, so we decided to grab breakfast at Bucks Lake Lodge and then spend the early afternoon at Sandy Point Day Use. Sandy beaches, paddle boarding and swimming – sounds like the perfect day.

Play Some Fun Games

When the sun goes down, that’s when the games start. My camping games of choice are Drinking Jenga and Cards Against Humanity. In Drinking Jenga, each of the tiles has a task written on it. Its kind of like Kings Cup but Jenga style. Sangria, Jell-O Shots, beer and water are all necessary drinks for a girls camping trip. Both of these games will ensure a laugh-out-loud good time.

Don’t Forget the Propane Tank!

You might be thinking – what an odd heading? Well, for me, it was true. We had the car loaded and ready for our girls camping trip. As we were unloading the car and setting up camp, we came to the realization that I brought the camping stove, but no propane tank to fuel it! Luckily, I was with some bad ass girls and we were able to improvise. Dinner that night was kebabs that we could roast over the fire, and we did our best to make pancakes over the flame for breakfast in the morning. But that’s what makes a trip memorable right? We didn’t let a little lack of fuel ruin our trip!

Summer is right around the corner, so if you are looking for a place to plan a fun girls weekend getaway, go a little off the beaten path and explore Bucks Lake! Bring your favorite water toys, beach gear, camping games and don’t forget the propane! Oh, and on your way back to Reno stop by the Polka Dot in Quincy for a fantastic milkshake! Have you even been on an all-girls camping trip? Where is your favorite place to go? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie

5 Perfect Road Trip Songs You Need to Add to Your Playlist

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? It’s an American pastime. You have your best pals in the car, you’re on your way to some place cool, and the best part – the good tunes on the radio. With modern technology, we are no longer subject to the radio (heaven forbid the service cuts out) or changing out CDs. My go-to software for playing music is Spotify. I pay for the premium subscription because I love being able to play a song on demand, and I still want my tunes when the cell service cuts out.

So, let’s get back to that beloved Spotify Road Trip playlist. What goes on it? For me, the tunes tend to be upbeat, fun, and something I can either sing along to or “dance” to (the most dancing you can do while driving). And most of them have a funny story behind them. So here are my five songs that I believe everyone should have on their road trip play list.

Highway to Hell – ACDC

Aw yes, this song is a bit ironic because you’re in the car, maybe on the highway, but hopefully, you are on your way to someplace rad and not hell. And I hope that your drive there is not hell. The song has a great beat, is easy to sing to and the perfect song to start your road trip.

Quick story – I once was on my way to Monterey with a friend. A nasty winter storm has rolled in the night before. It knocked the power out of most of the business in Northern California (including gas stations), trees had fallen over and roadways were flooding. Still, my friend and I were determined to get to Monterey. We made in there, filling up at every little gas station we saw had power and plowed through the flooded 101. We were just a few miles from my cousin’s house when I accidentally went up the curb and popped my tire. The first song of that road trip was Highway to Hell.

Wake Me Up – Avicii

Another great, fun, upbeat song. Wake Me Up was the theme song of our girls’ trip to Costa Rica. A young English woman introduced it to us and we are forever thankful she did! It has everything, a little EDM, some country and a little soul. I play this song on every road trip.

I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – The Proclaimers

This song has been around since the late 80s, but it solidified itself on the road trip playlist when it was featured in an episode of How I Met Your Mother. This episode was the gang saying good-bye to Marshal’s beloved car through a series of flashbacks in the car. Turns out during the lifetime of the car, a Proclaimers single tape became logged in the stereo making it the only song available to play anytime you were in the car. This became the only road trip song for boys and their drive from New York to Minnesota during college.

Hello – Adele

I no way can sing like the songstress herself, but I love to pretend I can. This song has it all – emotion, heart, and the perfect lyrics for some carpool karaoke. And if you haven’t seen Adele’s carpool karaoke with James Corden add it to your YouTube playlist now!

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes

Another lyrical genius of a song, the Pina Colada Song has been on road trip tapes, CDs and Spotify playlists since 1979. Maybe save this one for just before you reach your destination because you’ll be craving a Pina Colada at the end of this song!

What are your favorite road trip songs? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time….

Cheers!

Keelie