Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

My Happy Place

Life is abundant, and life is beautiful. And it’s a good place that we’re all in, you know, on this earth, if we take care of it. – Alice Walker

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog and know me, then you will not be the least bit surprised when I tell you that my happy place is being outside in nature. I prefer being in the mountains, hiking and breathing in the fresh, magical air but of course it isn’t possible that I’m always in this special place. Instead, I find beauty, peace and solitude in being anywhere outdoors and at home I generally find my happy place at my favorite neighborhood lake, Lake Harriet in Southwest Minneapolis. I walk and run around that lake year round, rain or shine, snow or sleet. I watch and marvel at the changing of the seasons  and the cycle of life. I reflect on the migration of the birds who come and go with the changing of the wind. If I’m lucky, I see a pair of bald eagles or a distant loon. I’ve even see a wild turkey and a group of deer which seems crazy given the fact that I live in the heart of a city.

Fall is by far the most beautiful season in Minnesota and I take advantage of being in my happy place as much as possible. The air is so fragrant, the sun so bright and the sky is usually a deep, dark sapphire blue on most days. But best of all, is the magical tapestry of leaves in their deep scarlet reds to pumpkin and burnt orange and golden yellows. It is a time of year that I always feel incredibly vibrant and alive.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”. –Albert Camus

Lake Harriet Walking/Running Trail Minneapolis MN

Lake Harriet Walking/Running Trail

I took this photo just yesterday on my walk around Lake Harriet, one of four urban lakes in Southwest Minneapolis that make up the “chain of lakes”. We are so fortunate to have over 10,000 lakes in this state and many in the city have walking, biking and running paths that are plowed year round. 


Finding liberation at Liberty Bowl

“We have always been dreamers in Montana”. – Brian Schweitzer

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Big Sky trail map. Photo credit: bigskyresort.com

Day three skiing at Big Sky meant it was time to pick it up a notch and hit the bowls. There is nothing more liberating and invigorating than physically challenging your body. It was time to hit the blacks.

We traveled with another family to Montana and my friend and I rode the gondola up to the top to hit the back bowls. It was another sensational, postcard perfect day. I felt more alive than I had in months.



Big Sky Bliss

“I’m in love with Montana. For other States I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it”. – John Steinbeck


I have always loved mountains for as long as I can remember. Starting at the mere age of three, I begin skiing with my parents which over the years blossomed into a life long love of  downhill skiing. Today, decades later I’m in my parents boots and am skiing with my own children. It is quite a joy to see them go down the hill and develop the same love of the mountains and great outdoors as I have.

This week we are in Big Sky, Montana for our first-ever family ski trip. We’re here for an entire week of Spring skiing and you couldn’t ask for better weather. It has been absolutely brilliant. Bursting mountain blue sky, bright, joyous sunlight and deliciously soft, silky snow. What more could you ask for than a stint enjoying Big Sky’s bliss? Not much in my opinion.


Home in the mountains

Yesterday we left for a long awaited vacation and I can’t tell you how incredibly ready I was to get out of town. The last few weeks have been a bit difficult especially given our recent family stint with the stomach flu. Spring has not even attempted to visit and the weather has been unseasonably cold. All in all, my spirits were sinking and it was time to leave.

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Adventure Travel Montana

The last hike

It has taken me awhile to complete my series of posts on hiking in Vanoise National Park, France. Although I’ve been busy writing about other stuff, sometimes it is hard to say goodbye to a lovely travel experience. I only have two posts left on this fantastic trip I took three months ago and only one post in particular in the mountains!

So here are views leaving the magnificent Alps and returning to civilization. When I look back overt all 800+ photos I took during this trip, I realize that my heart still remains in the mountains and I’ll be back….

Au revoir les Alps!

Adventure Travel France Tour de Vanoise TRAVEL BY REGION Trekking/Hiking

Our last night in the Alps at Refuge Peclet-Polset

We reached our last refuge for the trip, the Refuge Peclet-Polset around mid-afternoon. It was another stellar day awash in brilliant sunlight and perfect temperatures. We had heard from our guide Mark that this refuge was relatively new and “modern” as the old one had burned down. By the looks of it, modern meant ugly. It was poorly designed and felt like a shoe box inside with paper-thin walls, no ambiance or quaintness like the other, older refuges and many people.  As we entered the refuge to get our bed assignments I thought to myself “Here we go again. Another night of no sleep”.

So what did we do? Celebrate and have a good time!

Our group having an apres-hike beer at our refuge.

Adventure Travel France Tour de Vanoise TRAVEL BY REGION Trekking/Hiking

The hike down into a heavenly place

Author’s note: This is a continuation on my series of trekking La Vanoise National Park in the high Alps of France. To see all posts in this series, click here.

“In the mountains there are only two grades: You can either do it, or you can’t.”— Rusty Baille

I have always liked the saying “What goes up, must come down”.  As much as I enjoyed the long hike up to the stunning snow-capped 360 views of the Alps, I knew without a doubt that it would be a long, knee-breaking hike down.

Heading down through a rocky, steep and slippery trail.

Looking back to the top of where we were.

Adventure Travel France Tour de Vanoise TRAVEL BY REGION Trekking/Hiking