My Travel Clothing Wants and Wishes

packed backpack

Suddenly a new, big, exciting Europe trip is being planned, and it’s happening soon (more blog-y details soon about that.) Ack! I’ve been worrying yet again about the best items to pack (another post I need to write) and I have been very unhappy with my current wardrobe.

A lot of this was spurred by buying my husband an awesome pair of Bluffworks pants, which come with wrinkle resistant cloth and a boatload of hidden pockets. As I lost my passport to scammers a few years ago, hidden pockets would be awesome.

AND YET nearly every pair of girl travel pants I find have no pockets, much less spare pockets. This started me on a journey looking for my ideal pants, and then looking for my ideal jacket, shoes, etc… and coming up empty. Perhaps you, reader, can help?

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Peak Bagging: Mount Diablo in Mount Diablo State Park, California


Peak Bagging: Mount Diablo in Mount Diablo State Park, California

  • Location: Mount Diablo State Park, California
  • Distance: ~15 miles (loop)
  • Ascent:  1,578 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Route: Mitchell Canyon ($6 parking fee) -> Mitchell Rock Tr -> Eagle Peak Tr -> Bald Ridge Tr -> North Peak Tr -> Summit -> Juniper Tr -> Deer Flat Rd -> Mitchell Canyon Rd.

After climbing Coyote Peak and being surrounded by such lovely wildflowers, I realized that I had a very short period of time to enjoy that on one of the Bay Area’s largest mountains, Diablo Peak in the East Bay. On a whim one morning, I left home at 6am to climb Diablo while it was still green. And green it was.

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Peak Bagging: Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, CA

Miner's LettucePeak Bagging: Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, CA

  • Location: Coyote Peak, Santa Teresa County Park, California
  • Distance: 3.5 miles (loop)
  • Ascent: 600 feet
  • Difficulty: Medium

I’ve started thinking about climbing Mt. Shasta again, and with that in mind, decided to climb every peak (and “peak” as some are piddly) in the Bay Area as training. There are a lot of amazing climbs to be had here (Mt. Tam! Mt. Diablo!) but I decided to start small with Coyote Peak, located close to my home in Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, California.

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I’m back!

My lovely friends I met on the John Muir Trail last summer — recap coming soon!

My lovely friends I met on the John Muir Trail last summer — recap coming soon!

Last year, I abruptly ceased writing for this blog because I was afraid that the time I spent on it would reflect badly on my career (not in general, but due to something I was initiating which required 100% of my time.)

Well, the career stuff isn’t going 100% the greatest, so why not return to my first love — being outside?

I have a bunch of posts and updates coming up to make up for my absense. Stay tuned!

Gear gear gear!


Insert crazy gear face here. Over the last month I’ve gotten a ton of awesome things and like some girls love clothes shopping, I love gear shopping.

Here, have a picture with me not snuggling with the gear:


First off, the REI Anniversary Sale is going on right now. That’s where I scored my Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (the orange tube above), Patagonia Nano Puff jacket, and Thermarest SoLite pad (the shiny silver tube). Technically the Thermarest is for my husband, but on super cold nights, might layer underneath my Big Agnes Q-Core SL pad that I got a couple months ago.

Also included in the photo are a couple Amazon purchases — a GSI Outdoors Halulite Tea Kettle and an ultralight canister camp stove (the orange box). The last time I went backpacking, I only used my stove to heat up water so a kettle seemed like a no-brainer upgrade. The ultralight stove is also for my eventual JMT trip, since my existing stove (a big Jet Boil) would be too heavy for a solo trip.

This means that pretty much every big thing on my JMT trip gear list has been checked off — woohoo!

Unfortunately didn’t score Half Dome permits, so along with waiting in line for JMT permits, I’ll also be waiting for Half Dome. Which’ll be not very fun, but worthwhile in the end. I have a camping trip and backpacking trips scheduled over the next month, so the gear should be adequately tested and broken in before the trip, and once I’ve tested the gear, I’ll write up some reviews here.

Get going to the REI sale if you haven’t already!

Thoughts on the gear? Leave them in the comments!


Taking the East River Ferry in NYC

Taking the East River Ferry in NYC (4)

While in NYC for a plethora of meetings for the day job, I rented an Airbnb in Williamsburg — my first time staying in that part of the city. Convenient to Manhattan (one subway train away) and a wonderful area surrounded by lots of neat hipster/yuppie shops (right up my alley).

However, getting to other parts of Brooklyn was more of a pain, until I discovered the East River Ferry. Traveling North/South on the East River (how aptly named), the ferry makes convenient stops in Williamsburg, DUMBO (my typical destination), Wall Street, and a bunch of other stops.

The first time I took it, however, the weather was not that great:

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Taking the Amtrak Adirondack Train from Montreal to NYC

Wow, I fell behind on blogging. This last 1.5 months has been crazyI got married, I got LASIK, I launched a Kickstarter campaign for a learn-to-code book I’m writing (funded!), I prepped for and flew to Montreal for PyCon 2014 to teach a three hour class on the same content as the book, then trained to NYC for a few days of back-to-back meetings for my day job, then the last couple weeks has been finishing up the KS campaign, work, work, and more work.


I did manage to have some outdoor adventures while I was out. Rather than fly to NYC, I opted to take the train, which sounded simply fabulous. I’ve never been to the North East of the US before, and imagined rolling through forests and greenery.

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Wish List: See the Northern Lights

Northern lights

No brainer for the wish list, right? I almost got to go to Iceland last year before our big Europe trip, and I was hoping (even though it was summer) that we’d be able to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Unfortunately we chose to go a cheaper route through Brussels. Someday I’m going to have to go somewhere (probably outrageously cold) just so I can see this marvel. How amazing would that be?

Have you seen the Northern Lights? What did you think?

photo credit: Preserved Light Photography via photopin cc

I got LASIK!


I was chatting with my partner awhile back about my John Muir Trail plans when I suddenly had a realization – I was either going to have to bring a whole mess of one-day contacts (which are a pain when you’re super dirty), or I was going to have to bring my glasses (…which are a pain when you’re super dirty and sweaty.)

My partner had LASIK done a year or so ago, and I’ve always wanted to do it as well, but the biggest issue is the moola – I’m on super cheap bandaid insurance due to being self-employed (thanks Covered California!) which in no way was going to cover the cost of a $5,000+ eye surgery. So it was always a someday, when I’m either suddenly rich (hah) or gainfully employed.

My wonderful, wonderful partner (now husband) offered to help me pay for the surgery (and I’m fully planning to pay him back!), we decided to go to a consultation just to see if I could even get LASIK, and three weeks later – bam, it was done!

The surgery itself (custom wavefront bladeless LASIK) was super quick, though frightening. I had a sedative, which felt like it did nothing. I was put into a machine, where each eye was suctioned basically to keep it from moving, the flap was created, then the doctor moved the flap out of the way, placed me under the laser, and there were 15 harrowing seconds of a lightshow while I tried desperately to keep my eye still. Seriously, that was the worst part, and it made my heart race. Then boom, second eye, then boom, it was done!

I was driven home by my husband, and immediately put to bed. One thing we learned from him going through the experience was to be very generous with the numbing eye drops the first few hours (otherwise you can get into some major pain), so he woke me up every hour or so to put more drops in my eyes. I also had to wear the fancy eye shield that you can see under my sunglasses above – all that day and night, and then three nights after to make sure I didn’t damage the healing eye.

24 hours later, I had 20/20 vision (with some bloody looking scleras due to bruising.) I possibly might get 20/15. Night vision will be affected for a bit plus halos while my eye heals. Otherwise, I LOVE IT. I am so happy right now. When I went hiking, I would wear contacts which didn’t correct for my astigmatism (cheaper that way) so I’m going to see more clearly than I ever did before. This is probably the best investment I’ve ever had done to myself, and highly recommend other people to do so as well. It’s amazing. If you happen to be in the Bay Area, head to Furlong Vision Correction and tell them Tracy sent you.

(Love seeing photos with my new wedding ring!)