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….



The Flume Trail – Lake Tahoe

The Flume Trail, otherwise known as America’s Most Scenic Bike ride, is a 14-mile, one-way ride along Lake Tahoe’s scenic east shore. The name Flume comes from the water flumes used in the 1800s to transport timber and water to the Comstock Mine in Virginia City.  The trail is perfect to ride when there is no snow, but fall is spectacular when the aspens are ablaze. Here is everything you need to know to ride the Flume Trail.

The Logistics

Traditionally, the trail starts at Spooner Lake and you ride down to Tunnel Creek Café in Incline Village. There is a bike shop called Flume Trail Bikes located behind the café where you can rent a bike and/or hire a shuttle to the summit. This is really convenient because you don’t have to worry about shuttling cars, and they have plenty of parking. If you rent a bike, the cost is around $65, and it includes your shuttle ride. During the summer, it is advised you check online and make a reservation. The Flume is popular, and for good reason.

You can start your ride from Tunnel Creek Café and ride towards Spooner if you wish. I attempted this once, and I don’t think I will ever attempt it again. You climb 1,500’ in 3 miles of basically sand. I can barely walk that; I’m not quite sure why I thought I could ride it. I practically walked my bike those first 3 miles, and by the time I was on a trail I could actually ride, I had to head home. The ride down was fun at least. My second attempt at the Flume Trail was much more successful. I rented a bike from Flume Trail Bikes, took the shuttle to the summit, and biked to the café. It was glorious.

The Ride

The ride from Spooner to Marlette Lake (the peak of your ride), is a climb of 1,000’ in four miles. It’s tough, so take your time and enjoy the ride through the aspen trees. If you are on this trail in the fall, the section is lit with yellow leaves. You’ll want to take a few pictures. Next, you’ll reach Marlette Lake. If its summertime, this is the perfect opportunity to cool off! Enjoy the scenic view, have a snack and get your camera ready because jaw-dropping views are next.

Watch for the signs that lead you to the Flume Trail, and here is where you get your first glimpse of Lake Tahoe. This ride is so beautiful it’s a little dangerous. This part of the trail is 4.5 miles of single track. You have a mountain on one side and a relatively steep drop off on the other with tantalizing views of the lake. There are plenty of pull over spots that are perfect for pictures. The part of the trail is relatively flat with only a few rock features that might be tricky for a novice rider. This part of the trail has my favorite view of Sand Harbor.

The Flume Trail technically ends in the middle of the forest. You’ll see a turn off for a trail that will take you to the Tahoe Rim Trail or you can continue on Tunnel Creek Road back to the bike shop. This is the fun part of the ride! It’s all downhill and sandy, and be on the lookout for hikers! Local tip: on this section of the trail look for a well-worn path through the bush towards some rocks. Here you will find Monkey Rock!

Its all downhill from here and you have just completed the Flume Trail! Turn in your bike and head into the café for a well-deserved beer! Or venture further into Incline Village for a brew at Alibi Ale Works or Brewforia. Heck, you should drink a beer for finishing this blog. Here’s to you, mate!

Until next time…



The Complete Guide to Sun City Resort: South Africa

Located off the typical tourist path (but still a tourist destination) is Sun City Resort. The resort is located about 125 miles northwest of Johannesburg near Pilanesberg National Park. This place is truly a city within a city and popular among UK residents wanting to escape the winter cold. The resort has 4 hotels, 2 golf courses, a waterpark, a casino, safaris and a variety of other adventure activities.

So, in the middle of an English winter, I flew from London to Johannesburg to meet some family and enjoy a wonderful stay at the exotic Sun City Resort.


I stayed at the Palace of the Lost City. This place was magical – everything from the decor to the amenities – you instantly felt relaxed and submerged into an African jungle escape. The hotel was built on a hill so you could see its beautiful architectural design from anywhere in the resort. Of the 4 hotels, Palace of the Lost City is definitely geared towards a more luxurious stay, but you will feel right at home in any of the hotels in Sun City. 


All diets and food limitations go out the door at Sun City Resorts. The food is delicious and there is A LOT of it. Each hotel has about 2-3 restaurants you can choose from, and the resort offers an inner-city shuttle to help you get around. Bocado, inside the Cascades hotel, is set alongside their main swimming pool amid tropical gardens and offers Mediterranean cuisine. The Crystal Court, inside the Palace of the Lost City, is your go-to place for breakfast and high tea.


This is why you come to Sun City Resort. Have an activity you want to try? They probably have it. Zipline just over a mile 900 feet in the air, cruise around the resort on a Segway tour, or get a little dirty with a quad ride. The Valley of the Waves is their onsite waterpark, and it’s complimentary to overnight guests. Relax on the lazy river or their sandy beaches, or get the adrenaline going with one of their water slides. But watch out for the monkeys! These tricky creatures are waiting for you to leave something behind they can grab. Only in Africa are their monkeys at a water park!


Definitely the highlight of my stay at Sun City Resort. Book the early morning safari at the nearby Pilanesberg National Park. Famous for its sightings of the Big 5, this safari is perfect for the first-timer or the seasoned safari goer. I saw rhinos, monkeys, giraffes, lots and lots of zebras and wildebeest. We came across a family of elephants, hyenas, warthogs and even saw a Black Mamba!  If you love animals, you will love this safari.

Bottom Line

Go to Sun City Resort. The grounds are beautiful, the food is amazing and the people are unbelievably friendly. You will have the time of your life during this one of a kind holiday! So now that you are done reading all about Sun City Resort, I have a task for you. Go and re-watch the Lion King. When I saw my first herd of wildebeest, I couldn’t help but think, “Mufasa Killer.” Even though I know Scar was the real murderer, but that’s a different blog!

Until next time….



Why Costa Rica Should Be Your Next Girls Trip

There is nothing better than a good ole fashion girls’ trip, and Costa Rica is the perfect destination. From lush tropical jungles to beautiful beaches, the country is beautiful and has something to offer for everyone.

What to do  

Gather your girls and pick your adventure. Costa Rica has ziplining, surfing, canyoning, spas, snorkeling, white water rafting, horseback riding, yoga – you name it! And these activities take place all over the country, so it doesn’t matter what part you decide to visit.

Where to go

Rent a beach house in Manuel Antonio or a jungle escape in Arenal and enjoy a couple of days of relaxation and solitude with you best gal pals. Hire a car and go on a self-guided tour of the country.  Check out the capital city of San Jose, the rainforest in Monteverde or the Caribbean in Puerto Viejo. The driving in Costa Rica is a bit different compared to what we are used to in the States, so be prepared for a wild adventure.

The People

I went to Costa Rica with two of my gal pals and we had the time of our lives! We enjoyed all the fun activities and the beautiful scenery, but one of our favorite parts about Costa Rica was the people. Everyone was so friendly! Locals, fellow travelers, expats, you name it. We didn’t experience much of a language barrier problem as most of the people you will interact with speak English.


Compared to their neighboring countries, Costa Rica isn’t considered cheap, but it’s still cheaper than many of the places in America. You can take the budget route and stay in backpacking hostels, or splurge a little and rent a house or stay in a nice resort. Things like food and drink won’t break the bank nor will the activities. Just don’t do what I did and forget about your autopay when setting a budget!

Costa Rica is the perfect destination for your next girlfriend getaway! Enjoy the warm weather, delicious food and beautiful people. Trust me, it will be a trip you and your gals talk about for years, I know me and my girls still do! Where is your favorite girlfriend getaway destination? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…



Hiking to Machu Picchu – The Lares Trek

Machu Picchu is a household name and considered one of the Seven Wonders on the World.  The site was built around 1450 by the Incas just before the Spanish Conquest. When the Spaniards invaded Peru, they tore down all of their places of worship and built Spanish Churches on top of them. The reason why Machu Picchu still stands, is once the Incas heard of the Spanish invasion they fled their sacred city and covered up the trail so no one could find it. It wasn’t until 1911 when an American Historian stumbled across the Lost City that Machu Picchu rose to international fame.

How do you get there?

The largest city closest to Machu Picchu is Cusco, and from there you have a couple different options. You can take a train to Aguas Calientes and from there a bus to Machu Picchu, or you can hike. The three most popular hikes are the traditional Inca Trail, Lares Trek and the Salkantay Trek. The Inca Trail is the most popular; you travel the same road as the ancient Incas and enter the ruins through the Sun Gate. The Lares Trek will take you through a remote part of the Peruvian Andes where you walk through villages, breathtaking scenery and get a sense of a less touristy Peru. However, the trail does not end at Machu Picchu, it ends at Ollantaytambo and you take a train to Aguas Calientes. The Salkantay Trek is a longer hike, and from what I’ve heard a little more difficult than the other two. The trail offers views of snowy peaks such as Huamantay and Salkantay and ends at a town called Santa Teresa which is just a few kilometers from Aguas Calientes.

I completed the Lares Trek and absolutely loved it. Everyday there was a new scenic gorgeous view, and the trail wasn’t overly populated with other tourists. Sometimes when we would break for lunch, we would see other tourists, but most of the time it was just my small group of five, our guide and the Sherpas. We had donkeys and horses with us that carried our belongings, food shelter etc. So, we hiked with just a small backpack of supplies. The donkeys and horses cannot make it up the steps of the Inca Trail, so you have to carry all of your own gear on that trek. The Salkantay Trek also has horses that can carry some of your supplies.

The benefit of the Lares and Salkantay Treks, is you get to spend a night in a hotel in Augas Calientes before headed to Machu Picchu. This means your first proper shower in days, a real toilet, a bed, all the comforts you might have missed over the last couple of days. Do check the weather and bring appropriate clothing. The days can be very warm and the nights very cold. Plus, you might experience rain, wind and sun all in one day.


The elevation of Cusco is 3400 m or 11,200 ft. Guides recommend you spend a couple of days in Cusco to adjust to the elevation before heading the Machu Picchu. The Lost City itself is only 2400 meters, but during your hike you will reach great summits of around 4500 meters. Coca tea is a popular drink to help with altitude sickness, but the coca leaf is also how the narcotic cocaine is made, so it can deliver a false positive on a drug test.

Machu Picchu

We arrived in the Lost City just in time for sunrise, and I am still in awe. To think something was built so long ago and still in such incredible condition, but the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. After a morning tour and history lesson with our guide we parted ways for a little free time. My group chose to hike up to the Sun Gate for lunch (you cannot eat in the ruins) and another incredible view. Another thing I liked about the Lares Trek, is it’s such an intimate group that you become really good friends with everyone you traveled with. To help with overcrowding, Machu Picchu now limits the number of visitors to the site each day, so make sure you buy your ticket ahead of time.

My time on the Lares Trek and visiting Machu Picchu was an adventure I’ll never forget. I loved the history, the culture, the food! Some of the best food I had during my stay in Peru was on the Lares Trek. If you’re thinking about visiting this sacred site – do it! If you have any other questions about Cusco, Machu Picchu or the Lares Trek ask me on twitter at @keeliec5 or leave me a comment below!

Until next time…..



3 Days at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando

I closed Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows after reading the series for the second time and decided it was time to make a trip to Florida and immerse myself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I convinced my best friend to join the party, my sister was currently stationed at NAS Jacksonville, so she was down to join and would bring a friend from her squadron. We were fully prepared to geek out for the next three days.

Couple of notes before I get to the good stuff. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split into two sections – Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Diagon Alley is located inside Universal Studios Orlando and Hogsmede is located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can go between the two parks by riding the Hogwarts Express! If you want the full Harry Potter experience buy the multi-day park hopper pass. We spent three days in Harry Potter World, and I felt that I had seen and experienced everything I wanted too.

We went in April which I thought was perfect. It was shorts and tank top weather, but not overbearingly hot. As Goldilocks would say, it was just right. Harry Potter World is an attraction in Universal Studios, but it’s the reason why we were there. The second we made it through security it was a mad dash for Diagon Alley! Before you walk through the magical brick wall, you will see the Knights Bus parked outside 13 Grimmauld Place and Kings Cross Station. Then you walk through the brick corridor and are instantly transported to Diagon Alley. The first two shops are The Leaky Caldron and Wesley’s Wizard Wheezes, but your eye is instantly drawn to the fire breathing dragon perched on top of Gringotts Bank.

Once you’ve started breathing again, it’s time to start exploring. Check out Ollivanders, exchange your muggle money for wizard money that you can use in the park and get yourself a Butterbeer! The park even brews their own Harry Potter Themed beer. Cruise down Knockturn Alley and peak inside Borgin and Burke’s. The only ride in Diagon Alley is inside Gringotts, and it was by far my favorite ride. You take a trip deep into the vaults, and have to make a quick escape when Voldemort shows up! Make sure you explore every nook and cranny. So much detail was put into the design, that you can easily spend ½ your day there – which I’m pretty sure we did. My sister wanted to ride some other rides, so we had to head back to the muggle world.

The second day we entered through Islands of Adventure to check out Hogsmeade. This might be the only place you’ll ever see snow in Florida. While in Hogsmeade, you must do what our favorite trio does and stop for some Butterbeer at the Three Broom Sticks and get your chocolate frog at Honeydukes. I can’t tell you how excited I was when the charge on my credit card statement read, “Honeydukes.” The first ride is Flight of the Hippogriff which is like your typical rollercoaster except you can pick which dragon you want which will vary your experience. Hopefully, the line isn’t too long, so you can ride all three. Watch the Durmstrang dance on the stage and make your way to Hogwarts! This is another moment where you’ll want to make sure you’re still breathing.

Hogwarts is an interactive 3D ride, and the line takes you through the corridors of the castle. It was my second favorite ride. We took a break in the outdoor patio of the Three Broom Sticks where we tried all the different varieties of Butterbeer – frozen, cold, ice cream and potted cream – while gazing at Hogwarts in the distance. The Islands of Adventure park had more rides that my group liked, so we ventured back into the muggle world to check some of them out.

At this point, we had not taken the Hogwarts Express yet! So, before we concluded day 2, we boarded the train to from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross. I unloaded the candies I had bought at Honeydukes – chocolate frogs and Bernie Botts Every Flavored Bean when the train started to shake. We heard a voice that told us to stay put, and the cabin lights dimmed. Then we heard a thud, and a dementor was at our window! We saw another one at the door of our train cabin, but luckily Harry was there to cast Expecto Patronum. Did I mention I really like Harry Potter? We made one last stop at the Leaky Caldron and called it a day, plus the park was closing.

My sister and her friend did not join us for day 3, they had to report back to base, so she took off and my friend and I headed back to Harry Potter World that afternoon for round 3. We rode rides twice that we really liked, did some shopping. I really wanted a Gryffindor tank top since that is my house, but I could only find the Dark Mark (yes, I got it). We took the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade and then again back to Kings Cross. We were sitting at a table in Diagon Alley enjoying a Harry Potter themed brewed beer when a voice came over the intercom and said the park was closing. I felt pretty proud that I closing down Diagon Alley. It was the perfect way to end the perfect trip that was all things Harry Potter.

So, would I go again? Absolutely, and I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time. Plus, I read they have a new ride coming out. I haven’t been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios LA, but that one is condensed on a much smaller scale. I’m sure I would love it just as much, and it’s a lot closer to home. Okay, now that you have read my blog, I have a request – go do something Harry Potter. Start reading one of the books, download the audio books, watch a movie or book a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! And when you do, tweet me @keeliec5, so we can nerd out over Harry Potter together.

Until next time…



Five of New Zealand’s Greatest Day Hikes

New Zealand is an adventure seeker’s dream. The country offers everything. Boat life, beaches, Heli-hiking into glaciers, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, mountain biking you name it. Another activity the country is famous for is its plethora of “tramping” or hiking trails. Here is a list of 5 must-see day hikes in beautiful New Zealand.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Know as one of the greatest day hikes in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is just over 20 km one way and takes you through the volcanic land of the North Island or Mordor for Lord of the Ring fans. Mt. Ngauruhoe is a site to see on this trek and doubles as Mt. Doom. Booking a shuttle with a tour company from a nearby town is recommended. And bring layers! You will go through about 3 microclimates during this amazing journey.

Abel Tasman

Located along the coast on the north side of the South Island, Abel Tasman is a tropical paradise full of golden sandy beaches and marine life. There are a few different ways you can enjoy this beautiful park.  You can explore the shoreline via kayak, boat or on foot. For the day hike option, you can hire a water taxi or book with a tour group to take you up the coast and you walk back. I stayed in Nelson when I hiked through Abel Tasman. I took a bus to Kaiteriteri and hopped on the water taxi from there. Just don’t do what I did and miss your water taxi on the way back!

Hooker Valley Track

This out and back trek is one of the most popular hikes in the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. The trail is 5km long one way and will take you across swinging bridges, by roaring glacier rivers and to Hooker Valley Lake which offers a picturesque view of Mt. Cook – the tallest peak in New Zealand. The walk from the town center to the trailhead can add about 40 mins to your hike, but you might be able to stick out your thumb and catch a ride there, or someone might just pull over like they did for me. This is one of my favorite hikes on this list and for good reasons. The views are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Roy’s Peak

Probably the hike you’ve seen the most on Instagram, Roy’s Peak is a steep 16 km trek. The trailhead is about 3km away from the city center, but with the popularity of the hike, you’re bound to find someone driving your way that can give you a ride. The start of the hike goes through a sheep farm, but if you’ve spent any time in New Zealand, you already know there are sheep everywhere. You’ll wind up the mountain for a picture-perfect view of the glacier-carved Lake Wanaka. The hike is fully exposed, so bring appropriate cover, sunscreen and water.

Kaikoura Peninsula

Located in the small coastal town of Kaikoura, the Peninsula Walkway is almost 12 km long and takes you along the scenic peninsula. Here you can get up close and personal with a seal colony, see whales and dolphins from the shoreline, and take in some of the best views on the South Island. This walk is easily accessible from the city center and the perfect way to explore an incredible coastline.

You really can’t go wrong with any day hike in New Zealand, but if you find yourself there and looking for a hike, these 5 are a great place to start! Now I want to hear from you, where is your favorite country to hike? Tell me in the comments below! I’m always looking for new destinations to explore!

Until next time…..



Four Must-Read Books for Any Adventure Seeker

As much as we all love adventure, sometimes it’s hard to get away. So, take a seat and relax because here are four books to get your adrenaline pumping and satisfy that adventure craving. Warning: some spoilers ahead, but even with spoilers, all these books are still worth reading.

Into the Wild

Into the Wild is a non-fiction novel written by Jon Krakauer based on the life and journal entries of Chris McCandless. After college graduation, Chris decided that law school, an office job, settling down – none of it was for him. He gave away his life savings and headed out west to live a vagabond life. He ditched his traditional name and started going by Alex Supertramp. With all his belongings fitting in a backpack, Alex (McCandless), hitchhiked up and down the California coast, worked on a farm in South Dakota and eventually made his way to the Stampede Trail in Alaska. The journey of Alex’s couple years of life on the road is an exciting one and might make you want to hop in the car for a west coast road trip.

Lord of the Flies

The only fiction book in the list, Lord of the Flies is about a group of schoolboys who survived a plane crash and must survive on a deserted island. The boys create a community on the island. They build shelter, hunt for food and try to have some fun while they wait for rescues. However, delusions and paranoia overcome the boys and they start to turn on each other. This book is a short and fun read about island life, survival and what happens when you start to lose your humanity.

Touching the Void

Touching the Void is a non-fiction book written by Joe Simpson recounting his and Simon Yates’ nearly fatal climb of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. I might have a thing for survival books. The two had successfully reached the summit at 20,813 feet, and during the decent, Simpson slipped down an ice cliff and broke his leg. Bad weather was moving in, and the boys needed to find shelter. Yate’s had attempted to lower Simpson off a ridge but because of bad weather, inadvertently lowered him off a cliff. Unable to communicate, and stuck in a bad situation, Yate’s decided to cut the rope to so they both didn’t die. This tale of survival is too good to put down.


My favorite book on this list, Wild (also non-fiction) is about a woman named Cheryl Strayed and her journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl had experienced some tragedy in her life and was headed down a dark path of destruction. Determined to turn her life around, she quit her job in Minnesota, sold her belongings and headed for California. Cheryl had never hiked a day in her life before embarking on the PCT, and here she was in the Southern California desert with a “monster” on her back about to hike through the state of California and into southern Oregon. This book deals with grief and self-discovery set to the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada and is a must-read for any adventure lover.

Let’s talk! Did I mention one of your favorite adventure books? Do you know of one I must read? Tell me in the comments below! School is done in mid-May, and I’m looking to fill my kindle library.

Until next time…..



All book cover images are courtesy of Amazon

Backyard Adventures – Fun Runs

Looking for a fun adventure close to home? Sign up for a fun run! This is the perfect way to get out and possibly see a new part of your town. Or you can travel to the town next to you for some different scenery. There are a ton of different fun runs, and they are all different shapes and sizes. Some you might train months for, others might be something you and your friends decided to do last week. Either way its all about the adventure and having fun. Here are some popular runs around the United States.

The Color Run – Walk, run or skip, while you get dosed with color during this 5k. Wear white for maximum color! This is a good vibe run perfect for the whole family. These runs happen all over the US, so there is bound to be one in a city near you!

The Bubble Run – Talk about the cleanest 5k. Who doesn’t love bubbles? Dress up in some wacky costumes and run through bubbles! Bring your camera, you’ll want to record this adventure! Sign up for a run near you, or pick a new fun city you’ve never been to.

Zombie Run – This run might sound scary, but the kids will love getting chased by zombies! These runs usually take place near Halloween, and you can sign up to be a part of the living or one of the dead. The make-up and costume are my favorite part! The RedRun takes place in Virginia City which is already a haunted town. This run takes you through the ghost town and into haunted buildings. Their slogan – Get ready to run like hell!

Tough Mudder – This run is for the adrenaline seeker and is best completed with a group. The run comes in different lengths with the ultimate coming in at just over 10 miles. Be prepared to crawl under barbwire, get some electroshock therapy, and face your fear of heights. This run will require a little training, but it’s worth it if you’re up for the challenge.

Spartan – Similar to the Tough Mudder, the Spartan Race is a bit more physically demanding. The Spartan Race also comes in varying lengths – 5 to 30 miles! The Spartan features more obstacles that challenge you physically vs mentally, and if you fail an obstacle you have to do burpees.  Make sure you prepare for this race and get ready to call yourself a Spartan Champion!

Did I miss one? Tell me about your favorite fun run in the comments below! These events are perfect for having a grand adventure in your own backyard!

Until next time….



Hiking Half Dome – All You Need to Know for This Incredible Adventure

The elusive Half Dome. When you think of Yosemite, you think of the scenic Tunnel View photo that has Half Dome tucked away in the distance. The sheer size of it and its unique shape make it hard to miss. Now imagine yourself on top of it. Yosemite Valley (where the trail head to Half Dome is located) is located about 4 hours from San Francisco and 5 hours from Reno. If you’ve ever thought about hiking Half Dome keep reading for all my exclusive tips.

The Lottery

To regulate the amount of traffic going up the Half Dome Cables, the National Park requires a permit and have imposed a “lottery” system. Basically, you give the park a time frame you would like to hike and how many people will be in your party – up to 6 people. They will then randomly select names to hike on the dates requested. If you give the park a broad window, like any time after June 10th, your chances of being selected will be greater than if your window is say only weekends in June. Lottery winners are contacted around late March. If you didn’t get the date you were hoping for in the pre-season lottery, you can apply for the daily lottery. The park reserves about 50 permits that people can apply for 48-hours before the day they would like to hike. Note: These permits allow you to hike to Half Dome in one day. If you would like to spend the night on the John Muir Trail, that is a different permit system and information can be found here.

Where to Stay

Reservations for Yosemite open up 6-months in advance. Permits are announced in late March, so unless you plan on going sometime in late September, chances are a lot of the sites have already filled up. The park does offer some first comes first serve sites, but make sure you get there early! Especially if hiking on a weekend. The campgrounds in the Valley will fill up the quickest, but there are other options nearby like Hodgdon Meadows or Crane Flat. I stayed at Hodgdon Meadows, and it was about a 45-min drive to the Valley. You can also stay in the town of Mariposa, or at campgrounds just outside the park. Keep checking Yosemite’s reservation system for any cancellations you might be able to swoop in on. We were there three nights, and because of a cancellation, I was able to get us one night in the Valley.

Hammock Hangs
How to Prep

Go on long walks. And walk a lot of stairs. According to my Fit-bit, we walked 23 miles in 13 hours. The elevation gain for Half Dome is about 5,000 feet. I think any sort of long endurance exercise will help you with this hike whether it’s running, biking, walking or hiking. I hiked a lot around Lake Tahoe to prep for Half Dome.

What to Expect the Day Of

Get an early start! I suggest starting before 6 am, if the hike takes you 12 hours, you won’t be finished until 6 pm! And you don’t want to get caught on that trail after dark. At the trail head, and even during the start of the hike, you will see a lot of “warning” signs about how much water is necessary for this hike. Please heed these warnings! The parks suggest a gallon of water for Half Dome. While there is no potable water along the trail, there are creeks and rivers. My group did not heed the water warning and a few of us were nearly out of water by the time we reached the top of Nevada Falls (one of the boys did have a loose valve on his bladder). Luckily for them, I brought my water filter, so we were able to resupply.

Bring lots of food and snacks. Protein and a little bit of sugar will help your body tremendously. Remember, you’ll be on the trail for about 12 hours! After the hike, head into Half Dome Village for some much-earned pizza! A lot of the hike is protected in the trees, but once you get out onto the granite and near the cables, you are fully exposed to the brutal sun. Bring appropriate head-wear, sunglasses and sunscreen. You’ll need a good pair of sturdy and well-broken-in shoes for this hike. I recommend a pair of good hiking boots or at the least a pair of good trail runners. When you are climbing up the cables, you’ll be thankful for shoes with a little extra traction on the bottom. Also, bring a pair of gloves for the cables. There were some gloves that had been left behind up there, but I’m not sure how often Yosemite cleans them up.

Nevada Falls
The Cables

The infamous Half Dome Cables. After bouldering up Sub Dome, you’ll walk on a large granite flat surface to what looks like a rock bridge, and on the other side of that bridge is the cables. I’ll be honest, I was a little freaked. One of the group members decided not to ascend up the cables and waited for us at the bottom. I think that is important to point out. Please only ascend up the cables if you feel comfortable. People are going up and down the cables at the same time. They are anchored into the rock along with wooden planks that you can use as “steps.” I use that term loosely because they are spaced over 5 feet apart. You’ll see the different tactics that people use to get up the cables, try a few and find one that fits you. The cables are about 400 feet long and everyone you meet is super encouraging. I do want to note, that if it is raining or you see lightening, do not go up the cables. The granite becomes slick in the rain, and Half Dome is a magnet for lightning strikes.

You’ll be so pumped and full of adrenaline when you get to the top. The view is absolutely incredible and you really feel like you’re on top of the world. Take lots of pictures, relax a little and soak it all in because hiking Half Dome is no easy feat!

I felt extremely lucky that we were even able to hike Half Dome because the Valley had been closed due to the Ferguson Fire until the day before our hike! So to honor all the brave fire fighters who made our hike possible we took a shot – once we had descended down the cables and Sub Dome. So that is what I’d like you to do, take a shot, take a drink and cheers to the fearless firefighters who are out there risking their lives to protect our National Parks.  Until next time….