New Orleans, Louisiana

Four native New Hampshirites (Christina, Rachel, Anna & Kendall) and three New Yorkers (me, Milos & Kenyon) fled south to escape the winter doldrums and celebrate Christina’s upcoming nuptials!


Spacious Airbnb with a private balcony overlooking Frenchmen Street. Perfect for sunlit breakfasts, people watching, dance parties, and refuge from gutter punks.


  • French Quarter – Walked around and absorbed the sunlight, music, art, architecture, and people in NOLA’s oldest neighborhood.
  • Pat O’Brien’s – Dueling piano bar. We submitted song requests (Lady Marmalade was a crowd fave) to Henrietta, while slurping down Abitas and Hurricanes.
  • Crescent Park – Ran up and down the rainbow-shaped staircase at this geometric, steel park. Lounged and boat-watched on the Mississippi River.
  • Dr. Bob Art – Perused this artist’s colorful multi-media works, featuring NOLA imagery, bottle caps, and the slogan, “Be nice or leave.”
  • Bacchanal Wine – Picked rosé bottles and curated a cheese plate. Struck out finding a table near the backyard and live music and headed into the property.
  • Golden Lantern – Doled out $1 bills into the bras of our favorite drag queens at the “Divas R Us” show. Everyone was front and center at this intimate venue.
  • Garden District – Coveted iconic mansions that were painted in bold colors, covered in flora, and sporting personal flare, like cast iron fences and bird cages.
  • Lafayette Cemetery – Strolled past above-ground tombs and statues and got spooked by a few historic ghosts in broad daylight.
  • Preservation Hall – Listened in awe as a trumpet, trombone, clarinet, piano, and drum players preserved, perpetuated, and protected traditional NOLA jazz.
  • Frenchmen Street – Bopped around dancing to live music and checking out the local wares at the Frenchmen Art Market (while sporting full face paint).
  • Audubon Park – Climbed and lounged in the Tree of Life and did a photo and video shoot while dodging local marriage ceremonies and bees.

Food & Beverage

  • CC’s Coffee House – Post-plane cold brew. Surprise! There’s sugar in everything, whether you want it or not.
  • French Market – Fried shrimp, frickles, and a fruit smoothie with more surprise sugar (we learned to embrace it).
  • NOLA Poboys – Classic NOLA fare without any frills (in a good way).
  • Corner Oyster House – Bloody marys and Abitas for the road. Hurray open container law.
  • Rouses Market – Essential grocery store for Airbnb porch food and drink.
  • Bamboula’s – Yummy burgers and surprise live music (which we loved, until it turned from jazz to rock).
  • Elizabeth’s – Top notch bloody marys and perfect brunch food including praline bacon and shrimp swimming in cheese grits.
  • Palace Cafe – Took a reservation for seven with little notice. Food was functional and cocktails were delicious (the Shiloh had a *tree* of rosemary in it).
  • Turkey and the Wolf – Adorable decor, delicious food. Straddles the border between “healthy” and gluttonous (i.e. salad smothered in cheese and pork).
  • Cafe du Monde – Mandatory tourist spot. All the orders look the same (beignets with coffee), so it’s torturous to be hungry and think every order is yours.
  • Three Muses – Best meal of the trip. Shared ~10 plates (hello, bacon-wrapped bleu cheese stuffed dates) with delicious drinks and live music.
  • Surrey’s Cafe & Juice Bar – Another standout. Juices (virgin) were a nice break from the alcohol and the brunch (crab omelette, huevos rancheros) was phenomenal.
  • Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar – Be prepared for more secret sugar in your cocktail. Have enough drinks, and you’ll question whether the carousel is spinning or not.
  • Cochon – Fantastic meal at this bumpin’ spot. A bit more upscale than the rest of the trip, but worth it (pork cheek with sweet potato gratin).
  • Cafe Envie – My final meal in NOLA was a 16 oz. cup filled with grits, potatoes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and gravy. Feels appropriate.



Austin, Texas

My brother, George, is on a nine-month solo bike trip around the country to raise money for ALS (and live out a supremely badass dream). Follow his travels at!

In August 2017—a mere three days after officiating my marriage to Mark—he rode down our childhood driveway. 100 days later,  I met up with him in Austin, TX—a place I’ve wanted to go for some time now.

The city served as a novel background for what wound up being a three-day deep dive into what we’ve each been up to over the past 3.5 months. I made him take me through his day-by-day travel log and answer all my questions, like:

  • What do you think about on long, solitary stretches of road? Song lyrics on repeat.
  • What’s the worst night you had? Fire ants at my tent site.
  • What’s the most unexpected challenge you’re facing? Dogs chasing me.

… And obviously he told me dozens of positive anecdotes too. I’m a super proud big sis.

While we could have easily drank and partied our way through Austin, that just ain’t our style when it’s just the two of us. Think 9+ hours of sleep each night, a steady stream of water and tea, delicious food, nature, biking, and live music. Also, we shared plenty of long, silent periods where we did our own thing—the non-awkward kind that can only be shared between two people who are so close (99.9% genetically similar, in fact) and don’t really give a shit what the other one thinks of him/her 🙂



This Airbnb was in the heart of East Austin—the eclectic, grittier, “hipster” neighborhood, walking distance from downtown. After weeks of camping, I treated my bro to a queen sized bed in a bedroom with a proper door. And as an added olive branch, I picked accommodations with two spare bikes so I could cruise alongside the master.


Everyone I met was super friendly—from the stranger who helped me with suitcase at the airport to the audience at the music festival. We’re not in NYC anymore!

Speaking of “not in NYC,” the temperature was in the 50-70s each day, which is perfection; that said it’s off-putting to see inflatable Santas decorating lawns when you’re sweating. We were also welcomed by large populations of great tailed grackles and bats in addition to our usual pigeon friends.

The city is sprawling with pockets of activity. We got around by foot (clocked a solid 15 miles our first day) and then by bike once we wanted to venture beyond downtown.

There’s no shortage of live music, barbecue, and excuses to drink alcohol.


  • Lady Bird Lake – Although we’re pretty sure this is the Colorado River (not a lake), it is beautiful and a perfect path for walkers, runners, and bikers.
  • 6th Street – Long strip of bars with opportunities to drink al fresco (and do all the requisite activities like corn hole, ping pong, etc.)
  • South Congress Avenue – Main drag with a mix of local boutiques like the Hat Box and three Starbucks options.
  • East Cesar Chavez Street – The road that took us from our Airbnb to downtown, lined with diverse homes and dining options.
  • Texas Capitol – Everything’s bigger in Texas, but this was pretty much what you’d expect.
  • Love & Happiness Band @ Icenhauer’s – 10-piece band featuring three dynamite lead vocalists and a 3-piece horn section, covering everything from Motown to today’s pop songs.
  • Zilker Park & Barton Springs – We biked around the trails on our single-gear Airbnb bikes. Thankfully, Texas isn’t known for its hills.
  • Peter Pan Mini Golf – Our waitress at lunch on the first day, a born and raised Austinite, recommended we check out this course, so we expected it to be something special. But it turns out the draw was that it was BYOB, not the strange statues present at each hole.
  • Saturnalia Music Festival @ Sahara Lounge – The perfect way to spend a Saturday—laying in a field listening to and/or dancing along to diverse, local, live music. We started out with Croy and the Boys (minus his boys), singing country songs about poverty, gentrification, hedonism, and luxury. Then we pivoted to a group of boy men singing “I hate my dad”-esque music. Then we entered a string of rock/electric groups. And then, lo and behold, we ended with Golden Dawn Arkestra. Words and photos don’t do this band—nay, experience—justice, so I won’t try. But our minds were blown—definitely one of the best (and most unique) live shows I’ve ever seen.

Food & Beverage

  • Easy Tiger – We split a Texas Hill Country platter with “Pain au Levain, Venison Cheddar Hot Link, Duck Galantine, Wild Boar Rillette, Local Cheese, Seasonal Accoutrement.” Then we burned it off playing ping pong.
  • Blue Cat Cafe – We needed a lil’ cat fix. Who doesn’t?
  • Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ – Cafeteria style BBQ joint. We split brisket, sausage, coleslaw, mac and cheese, and baked potato with all the fixin’s. ‘Twas good, but it didn’t blow NYC BBQ out of the water. The search continues.
  • Matt’s El Rancho – I had fajitas at this Tex Mex restaurant. They were good. I know it’s supposed to be more “authentic” down here, but I’m hard-pressed to find a way to mess up rice, beans, cheese, veggies, and meat.
  • Ramen Tatsu-Ya – Indulged in some Japanese soul food. Delicious, but again, NYC boasts some pretty incredible ramen, so I give this place a “good.”
  • Spun Ice Cream – Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Verdict: delicious and creamy, but it was a whole four-minute racket for one scoop. This NYC-er craves efficiency with her dessert. Next.
  • La Barbecue – OK, OK—my NYC food snobbery has met its match. This brisket was the stuff of dreams. I can’t even.


Sedona, Arizona

Time for another Grace, Gwen, and Rachel adventure! As lovers of hiking, exploring, and natural scenery (and tolerators of crystal worship, vortex healing, and aura photography) we set our sights on Sedona, Arizona.



In addition to a pool, jacuzzi, hammocks, ping pong and pool tables, and a breathtaking view of the red rocks, this Airbnb featured the most understanding host of all-time. This saint not only tolerated our incessant nighttime singing—she told us she enjoyed our renditions of “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Five stars.


This was an ideal getaway for a long weekend.

The weather was perfection. The sweatiest I got was dewey moist and the chilliest I got was “let’s don adorable sweaters and cuddle next to a tame little fire pit while clutching a glass of wine.” There was little to no humidity, yet I never felt like I was living in the Dust Bowl. Also, the air smelled so fresh and clean (caveat: my baseline is an August garbage day on the Lower East Side).

The locals were mostly retirees turned spiritual seekers, artists, and/or healers. The young people were either outdoorsy tour guides moonlighting as waitstaff or vice versa.


  • Cottonwood – We tooled around the main drag of this hamlet ~1.5 hours outside of Phoenix, AZ. Our favorite spots were Larry’s Antiques (two acres of junk—I mean beautiful, vintage treasures) and Art Glitter, a massive storefront that exclusively sells—you guessed it.
  • Jerome – This historic copper mining town is carved into the side of Cleopatra Hill. As “America’s Most Vertical City,” it provided an awesome (and I mean awesome) vantage point to behold Arizona’s topography and appreciate our rental Jeep’s ability to climb steep terrain.
  • West Fork Trail – We started off this hike with a lil’ a cappella ditty in a red rock cave (what!? the acoustics were lit!) and then traced and forded Oak Creek, taking moments to pause and stare up at the steep, red canyon walls. Oh, and we saw two tarantulas and have perma-heebie-jeebies.
  • Cathedral Rock – This hike rounds out my top three with Precipice Trail in Acadia and Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier. We’ve got boulders. We’ve got crevices. We’ve got steep embankments that make you feel like a super hero. We have incredible views. And it boasts a vortex, so I suppose my chakras are now aligned or something, which is fabulous.
  • L’Apothecary Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona – Paid a lot of money to feel a lot of good. Come for the deep tissue massage. Stay for the “complimentary” robes and herbal teas in the relaxation room. Pro tip: use every single toiletry before leaving.
  • Trail Sports – Mountain biking is that feeling you had growing up when an adult you trust is chasing you and you’re laughing so hard because you’re equal parts terrified and having the time of your life. Would 100% do this again. Jeremy, our guide, was A+. Shout out to Rachel who flew face first off her bike multiple times and only actually drew blood on the umpteenth fall.
  • Jeep – Sure, the Pink Jeep Tours are all the rage, but we had a lot of fun driving around in our (already-paid-for rental) whip.
  • Runs – We experienced two of the hilliest runs of our life, but the scenery and literally perfect air quality balanced it out.

Food & Beverage

  • Merkin Vineyards (Cottonwood) – Good wine. Questionable name.
  • Crema (Cottonwood) – They serve cocaine masquerading as cold brew.
  • Rickeldoris Candy & Popcorn Co (Jerome) – Obviously this was good.
  • Copper Country Fudge (Jerome) – Obviously this was good, part two.
  • Elote Cafe – Waaaay too hyped up. That said, we spent the 1.5+ hour wait sippin’ margs, noshing on popcorn, and catching up, so I can’t complain. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and our leftover carne asada sustained us for two days.
  • Sedona Hideaway House – Perfect view. Delicious food. Questionable waitstaff, but who cares!?
  • Couture Cupcakes – Can a dessert be “too much”? Today, I learned this to be true. Bonus points for the alliterative name.
  • Saltrock – Another great view! Delicious food. Super earnest server. Corn hole a mere beanbag’s toss away.
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – We managed to spend $17 on three Reece’s cups here. YOLO.
  • The Hudson – Good cocktails. Good food. Good ambiance. Apologies to my English teachers of yore for a lack of descriptive adjectives.


Charleston, South Carolina

Mark was invited to perform his show, Let’s Make a Website, in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Neither one of us had been before (but had heard great things), so we decided to make it a Memorial Weekend trip with our friends, Kevin (behind-the-scenes developer in Mark’s show) and his girlfriend, Jordan.

Here is some great press from the show!

Surprise Road Trip

Our flight was scheduled to depart Thursday night. It was cancelled due to inclement weather. We rescheduled with another airline. That flight was delayed. And delayed. And delayed. And then once we arrived at LGA, found our gate, and hunkered down with hundreds of other anxious, landlocked New Yorkers vying for outlets and expensive airport beer… it was cancelled. And there were no other flights available that would get us into CHS before Mark’s first scheduled show.

So we drove!

At 11:00pm on Thursday, Mark and I picked up the very last vehicle LGA Enterprise had to offer, picked up Kevin and Jordan in Brooklyn, and set out on our overnight surprise road trip to Charleston. We arrived at 3:00pm the next day. We would have arrived earlier, but at 12:30am, a tour bus collided with a tractor-trailor on the New Jersey Turnpike causing traffic to come to a parked stand-still for over an hour. Naturally.

Highlights from the trip:

  • High’s Gas Station
  • 4am D.C. rush hour traffic
  • Sunrise on the highway
  • Breakfast in Richmond, VA
  • South of the Border
  • Lots of Hamilton and Weird Al (to keep me and Mark awake, respectively)


Airbnb – 251 Meeting Street #4, Charleston, SC 29401


Charlestonians are extremely friendly, eager to drum up conversation, and will say hello to strangers, seemingly out of habit. While South Carolina is a red state, Charleston seems quite liberal. We learned all about their long-time Democratic mayor, Joseph Riley and were given “TRUMP SUCKS” stickers by the local comedy community. The food is excellent and the restaurants are plentiful (recommendations below). The town is sprawling, yet small enough that I feel like we “got the gist” after three days. The pace (literally, walking pace) is slow and us New Yorkers breezed by almost everyone. And, surprise, surprise, it was hot.


Food & Beverage



Mark and I escaped the slushy, blustery streets of New York City in January  2017 to spend a week in California. Mark had performances scheduled at UCB Sunset in Los Angeles and at the San Francisco Sketch Fest and a series of meetings with production companies, so I came along because I’m the best manager around and to get a little R&R and vacation time.

This was my third time in San Francisco, but my first time in Los Angeles. There’s always a possibility that the LA entertainment industry will pull us across the country, so I wanted to see what it was all about before agreeing to leave behind everything I love and know as a born and bred New Yorker.

Los Angeles, CA

Lodging: We stayed with Von at his palatial (compared to NYC) Airbnb in the trendy, hipster Los Feliz / Silver Lake area.

Impressions: We had a mere four days in LA, which is not enough time to fully understand a place and draw a meaningful conclusion on whether or not it’s “good” or “bad,” but here are some things I noticed within my first 24 hours:

  • Cars everywhere and no one walking
  • Strip malls, signage, and advertisements galore
  • Focus on going green and using natural energy sources
  • Large Hispanic / Latino and Asian populations
  • Tons of space and surrounded by mountains and nature
  • Interesting flora: cactus and palm trees
  • Beautiful weather (despite the persistent rain)
  • Friendly, relaxed people
  • Persistent homeless people
  • Lots of nothing then suddenly… you’re in a neighborhood!


  • UCB Theatre Sunset: Watched OSFUG bring down the house
  • Galcos Old World Grocery: We met John Nese and bought $40 worth of soda
  • Santa Monica Coast
  • Venice Beach: Watch muscle men, buy panties that say “Brian’s Bitch” on the butt, get a medical marijuana card, regret getting a tattoo, etc.
  • NerdMelt Showroom: Went with Olga to a comic book store and comedy venue to watch the Literati show
  • The Broad: Newer contemporary art museum in DTLA
  • MOCA: Older contemporary art museum in DTLA
  • The Last Bookstore: Massive book and record store with new and used books and art
  • The Geffen Contemporary: Doug Aitken, Electric Earth exhibit
  • Art District
  • Little Tokyo
  • Thrift Shopping
  • LACMA: Saw our friends Picasso, Rothko, and Pollock
  • Huge LA: Much smaller and more relaxed than the place I call home in Brooklyn!

Food & Beverage:

  • Public House: Spacious bar near UCB
  • Carving Board: Yummy sandwiches for when you’re feeling gluttonous
  • Intelligentsia: Delicious coffee, espresso, matcha, pastries, etc.
  • True Food Kitchen: Dose of health
  • The Pikey: Cocktails
  • The Alcove: More cocktails… and cake.
  • Sunset Junction Coffee Shop: The slowest omelette in town
  • Grand Central Market: Taco carnitas
  • Salt & Straw: Ice cream
  • Philz: Coffee
  • Edendale: Spacious bar with back patio with heat lamps
  • House of Pies: 24-hour drunk food spot
  • Home Restaurant Los Feliz: Delicious brunch
  • Orsa & Winston: Fancy tasting menu with wine pairing with my love:
    • Kanpachi & winter citrus: radish, wasabi, yuzu, avocado, nasturtium
    • Soup of Jerusalem artichoke: hokkaido scallop, caviar, macadamia, kosho crème
    • Satsuki & John Dory: Tokyo turnip, arugula, parmigiano
    • Udon bucatini: s.b. sea urchin, quail egg, black garlic, dashi
    • 28-day dry aged creekstone ribeye: tahitian squash, hedgehog mushroom, romanesco, cranberry
    • Barley amazake pudding: pickled blueberry, purple stoke potato, goji, shiso

San Francisco, California

Lodging: We stayed in Judith’s Airbnb in the Mission. Yes, this was technically a room in her garage, but it was so tiny, cute, and colorful it reminded us of home (with an improvement: heated toilet set with bidet).


  • Mission: Checked out the books, art, thrift, etc.
  • Haight Ashbury: Same as above, but with more crystals, tie dye, and hula hoops
  • The Mint: Karaoke with Gwen’s coworkers
  • Golden Gate Park: Walked around with Myles
  • De Young Museum: Incredible Frank Stella exhibit with Gwen and Myles
  • Hayes Valley: Gwen’s neighborhood
  • Piano Fight: Watched OSFUG tear down the house again
  • Castro Theater: SF Sketch Fest after party
  • Brewcade: Pinball with Gwen and Erik

Food & Beverage:

  • Philz: We found our new fave coffee spot
  • Tacuqeria San Francisco: Big ol’ burrito
  • Whitechapel: Delicious gin cocktails
  • L’s Cafe: Decent breakfast sandwiches
  • Four Barrell Coffee: Fancy coffee and espresso spot
  • Katana-ya: Ramen
  • St. Francis Fountain: Old-timey diner


Mark and I went to Maine for a long weekend in August 2016 to fill up on mountains, beaches, and lobster!

Acadia National Park, Maine

Lodging: We stayed at a post and beam cabin Airbnb in the western woods of Mount Desert Island with our host, Fran. Each morning, she served us home-cooked breakfast on her screened porch overlooking a small pond and blueberry patches.


  • Park Loop Road: Drove the coastal route around the park and took in the sights.
  • Visitor Center: Picked up some maps, used the facilities, and ran away from the surly teens chugging beef jerky and granola bars on family vacations.
  • Precipice: Hiked the “most strenuous” trail in the park with an exposed and almost vertical 1,000 foot gain. Climbed numerous iron ladders, handrails, and wooden bridges to make it to the top. At the Champlain Mountain summit, we watched peregrine falcons swoop overhead and click beetles jump off rocks.
  • Champlain North Ridge Trail to Orange and Black  Path Trail: Navigated back down Champlain Mountain using the rock cairn trail markers.
  • Sand Beach and Thunder Hole: Walked the rocky coastline. The “thunder” was conspicuously absent due to the low tide.
  • Gorham Mountain Trail to Ocean Path Trail: Open views of Otter Cliff, Otter Point, Baker Island, and the Cranberry Islands. Such cute and yummy names for geographic features.
  • Bar Harbor: One to one ratio of beach t-shirts / tchotchkes / taffy / tourism and authentic, delicious seafood with gorgeous views. And the air smells so great!
  • Beech Mountain Trail (aka “The Moss Palace”): Nearby Echo lake, we hiked and arrived at a clearing with boulders piled high, carpeted with moss. Protected from the sun by the trees above, we set up shop to paint and listen to music for the afternoon.
  • Bass Harbor Lighthouse: Watched the sunset from this iconic perch.

Food & Beverage:

  • Jordan Pond House: Popovers and clam chowder after a long hike
  • Stewman’s Lobster Pound: Raw seafood sampler
  • Bar Harbor Beerworks: Dozens of beers on tap; we foolishly ordered a cocktail
  • Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium: Home of the infamous lobster ice cream (gross)
  • Coffee Hound: Decent iced coffee for two NYC snobs
  • Epi’s Pizza: Breakfast sandwiches
  • Local Sodas: We couldn’t leave without trying Old Soaker Blueberry Soda (yum!) and Moxie (not worth it…)
  • Sips: Stuffed trout and generous wine pours
  • Quietside Cafe: Blueberry pie

Ogunquit, Maine

Lodging: We stayed at the Moon Over Maine Bed & Breakfast with our host, Rick. The house was walking distance from the town center and the beach.


  • Town: Peered into shops and art galleries, bought and consumed copious amounts of taffy, walked around and people watched
  • Beach: Sprinted into the freezing water for a few seconds before collapsing on the beach to listen to music and nap under the sun
  • Stargazing: Laid down on the beach and stared at the layers of brilliant stars (with minimal light pollution!)
  • Nubble Lighthouse: Picturesque, painting-worthy lighthouse in York

Food & Beverage:

  • Bread and Roses Bakery: Dessert for days (specifically, magic bars)
  • Cornerstone Artisanal Pizza Craft Beer: Emphasis on the beer
  • Barnacle Billy’s: Fresh lobster, garlic bread, corn, and rum punch
  • Harbor Candy Shop: More dessert for days (specifically, taffy)
  • When Pigs Fly: Pizza and gourmet breads

United States National Parks

Two of my college besties and a cappella maniacs, Rachel and Gwen, joined me on a two-week vacation through four United States National Parks: Craters of the Moon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier. Happy 100th birthday to the National Park Service!

This was a trip of firsts for me:

  • Visited the wild west: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana
  • Camped (not “glamped”) for more than two consecutive nights
  • Drove for 40+ hours (in an American Jeep Patriot, no less)
  • Packed my bags without any makeup, jewelry, or “nice” clothes
  • Survived without reliable Wi-Fi or cell service (I’m a hero)
  • Learned how to handle a bear encounter
  • … And so much more.

As a self-proclaimed itinerary maniac, this trip was booked months in advance. That said, my biggest advice is to make friends with a Park Ranger and remain nimble in your plans. Depending on the weather, construction, seasonal plants and animals, and your general mood on the particular day you’re visiting, a ranger can help you do and see the best the park has to offer.

Saturday 6/18 – Salt Lake City, UT to Arco, ID

Flew into Salt Lake City International Airport and picked up our Jeep Patriot.

Hit the road to Arco, ID. Caught our first glimpse of the “ribbon of highway,” “endless skyway,” and “purple mountains majesty” featured prominently in the Great American Songbook. I got pulled over for speeding because it was all too beautiful. Whoops.

Stopped at a Walmart in Blackfoot, ID to pick up camping supplies, toiletries, and food for the next four nights of camping. With little to no cell service or Wi-Fi for the duration of the trip, Seamless and Amazon wouldn’t be there to rescue us from poor decisions. And for the first time in my life, I found myself sniffing bottles and wondering how bears (not my fiancé) would feel about the scent.

Once we arrived at the Arco Motor Inn, we were greeted by an affable, toothless woman named Bobbie. Fun facts about Arco: population of 993, first city in the world to be lit by atomic power, and each high school class since 1929 has painted their graduation year on a mountain in the center of town. We ate dinner at Pickles, walked “home,” packed our bags for camping, and got some sleep.


Sunday 6/19 – Arco, ID to Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

We returned to Pickles for another slow-paced, western feast, doused in ketchup and maple syrup. The Brooklyn cold brew snob in me drank five cups of brown water before heading out, sufficiently caffeinated.

Craters of the Moon is described as a “weird and scenic landscape” by the National Park Services. I agree. Basically, a volcano erupted 15,000 and 2,000 years ago and the lava covered 618 square miles, ripping through the Snake River Plain, creating caves, tubes, tree molds, cinder cones, and craters in its wake as it cooled. These bizarre geological features look like the surface of the moon (get it?). While the conditions are harsh, spunky “monkey flowers” covered the hills and we saw the occasional ground squirrel scurry across the rocks.

Here’s what we did and saw:

  • Made friends with a ranger at the Visitor Center.
  • Cruised around the 7-mile Loop Drive and took in the scenery.
  • Went spelunking (turns out that’s the verb meaning, “explored a cave”) in the Dew Drop Cave, Indian Tunnel, Boy Scout Cave, and Beauty Cave. We strapped on headlamps and squeezed into small, dark crevices that each opened up into pitch black, chilly caverns with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and ice and rock covering the ground.
  • Climbed the Inferno Cone, a steep, black, basaltic hill. The coarse rock sparkled in the sun and we captured the memory with our rugged selfie stick.
  • Checked out the Tree Molds Trail to see what happens when a “tree falls on lava while it’s cooling.” It’s kind of like stepping on silly putty with a boot.

After a full day of exploring, we set up our Group Camping Ground. Our vacation wound up being equal parts camping and Airbnb/hotel/lodge. Overall, here’s what I took away from my camping experience:

  • Three petite women fit perfectly in a six-person tent. A three-person tent is designed for three Barbie dolls or perhaps a handful of Polly Pockets.
  • Petroleum camping stoves are terrifying until you figure out how to light the burners and then you feel like a Vulcan god.
  • You can accomplish a lot during the time it takes for poop to exit your body and make contact with the outhouse septic system a million feet below.
  • If you close your eyes, Purell hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and a three-foot tall cold water spigot are almost as luxurious as a hot shower.*
  • Canned chili isn’t as gross as it sounds.
  • It’s equal parts thrilling and terrifying to sleep all alone, a mile away from the closest [human] neighbor.
  • Campfires are so fun and s’mores are so delicious, but be prepared to smell like a chimney for the rest of your life.
  • Your tent is your temple. Mosquitoes will want to pay dues and join the congregation.
  • “The only thing that runs in [insert National Park] is food.” – Every Park Ranger
  • Anything can be toilet paper if you put your mind to it.
  • Want to encounter a bear? Easy! Just leave literally one molecule of food out after dinner. They’ll smell it and find you!

*This is a lie


Monday 6/20 – Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

Woke up and set out for a full day of exploring!

Walked the mile from our campground to the North Crater Loop then took the North Crater Trail. Twelve miles later, we meandered back to our campsite, exhausted!


Tuesday 6/21 – Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve to Grand Teton National Park

Packed up our campground and drove to Wyoming! Quick pit stop in the “bustling metropolis” of Idaho Falls for another Walmart run and a decadent Starbucks iced coffee. Then we grabbed lunch in Jackson Hole. Turns out Teton County, WY, home to Jackson Hole, tops the list for highest average income in the US. Which is to say, we did a lot of window shopping.

We set up our tent at Colter Bay Campground and made more park ranger friends at the Visitor Center before taking the Lakeshore Trail, a level, scenic path along Jackson Lake. The hike culminated in a glacial dip at Swim Beach in Jackson Lake with a view of the Teton mountain range in the background.


Wednesday 6/22 – Grand Teton National Park

Took a boat across Jenny Lake and began our ascent of the Grand Tetons. We gladly stopped to take photos at the breathtaking Inspiration Point because, well, we felt inspired.

During this 10-mile hike, we blasted the Hamilton soundtrack on our jambox speaker. This was efficacious at keeping our spirits high and bears away. We made friends along the trail, stopped for a taste of nostalgia (PBJ sandwiches in Ziplock bags), and slurped down the entire contents of our CamelBak bladders along the way.

We ended the day with another glacial dip at Swim Beach (we’re masochists) and then caved to our dirtiness and did laundry at the communal laundromat. We rewarded our “hard work” with Cards Against Humanity and ice cream.


Thursday 6/23 – Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park

Took a quick jaunt north to Yellowstone. The star of today’s show was geysers. Geysers, as I learned, are hot springs (read: nature’s hot tubs). Periodically, they may come to a boil and shoot a lot of water and steam in the air. Some erupt predictably (Old Faithful) but most are erratic. Heat-loving bacteria give them brilliant colors and hydrogen sulfide gas gives off a gaseous odor. There’s a heap of science behind geysers that I do not fully understand, but suffice to say they are beautiful, yet smelly.

Checked out West Thumb Geyser BasinOld Faithful Geyser (the celebrity), and Upper Geyser Basin.

After inhaling a sufficient quantity of farts, we treated ourselves to our first truly lavish lodging of the trip: Philips Lodge at Island Park. We each took a long, hot shower and I, personally, exfoliated all of my skin off and shampooed at least five times. Scrubbed clean, we treated ourselves to a steak dinner and individual chocolate lava cakes. Then we hopped in the hot tub (manmade, not courtesy of Yellowstone), watched trashy TV, read trashy magazines, and fell into a trashy (but clean) slumber.


Friday 6/24 – Yellowstone National Park

Enjoyed a big breakfast at the Running Bear Pancake House then set out to tackle the Norris Geyser Basin. The pancakes were delicious and the geysers smelled like farts. Nothing surprising here.

Hiked the South Rim Trail overlooking “The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone,” a lush forest surrounding the Yellowstone River. Waterfalls galore! Then we drove along the North Rim Trail to get to Canyon Campground, our third campsite of the trip.

After consulting with a Park Ranger, Rachel and I took our chances and went on a run along the North Rim, armed with bear spray. Spoiler alert: we survived!

We paid the few bucks to treat ourselves to the communal showers and sang our hearts out (much to the chagrin of the line of women waiting their turn with their disgruntled children).

Hitting our dinner-making stride, we made a delicious meal and roasted marshmallows for s’mores.


Saturday 6/25 – Yellowstone National Park

Finding it impossible to remove ourselves from our warm sleeping bag cocoons and enter the cruel freezing world, we booked a cabin at Yellowstone Lake Lodge for that evening. I like to think of myself as being “proactive and solutions-oriented” in this moment. “Giving up” doesn’t have as nice a ring.

We ate another hearty, hikers breakfast at the cafeteria and then summited Mount Washburn! At the top, we made friends with a nomadic mountain man and talked about life, happiness, spirituality, family, love. You know, all the things you would expect to talk about with a nomadic mountain man. We wish him all the best in his upcoming Survivor audition.

That evening, we walked around our good friend, Old Faithful, and saw her erupt two more times. We also ate one of our good friends, the bison, and I don’t regret it for a moment.


Sunday 6/26 – Yellowstone to Paradise Valley, MT

Drove a meandering path to squeeze the last bit out of Yellowstone. We drove along the Lamar Valley and saw a bear, bison, and goats. Then we stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs and saw some massive elk and a large complex of hot springs on a hill.

We next drove to Paradise Valley, MT to stay the night with Al, an Airbnb superhost. Al is a former NYPD officer who moved out to Montana over a decade ago. Sporting a gray ponytail, a camo tanktop, and a ruddy glow, he gregariously chain smoked (yep, that’s a thing) and gave us a tour of his place (that he shares with a hippie Vietnam vet with PTSD, a cat named Spatz, and seven chickens including Blondie, Gertie, Rowdy, and Rudy). He tacks horseshoes, makes handmade drums, paints, built a horse-drawn wagon, and is a real salt of the earth kind of guy. All the money he makes from Airbnb goes directly to fund his daughter’s education. Oh, and he has a tipi in his backyard where we slept that night.

We hung with Al and his friend Tanya for awhile, had a bottle of wine, and sang them a song (naturally). Al suggested we check out Chico Hot Springs and sing for his bartender friend, Beau. Equal parts spa, dude ranch, and bar, we had an unforgettable time and made “lifelong friends” (read: acquaintance relationships that were bolstered by the free Fireball shots straight from a dispenser). Turns out John Mayer and Kesha are regulars at this place. I don’t blame them.


Monday, 6/27 – Paradise Valley, MT to Glacier National Park

Gave a tearful goodbye to Al (and Spatz, Blondie, Gertie, Rowdy, and Rudy) and embarked on a six-hour drive with pitstops in Bozeman (hip lil’ town where we were served kombucha on tap (Brooklyn, is that you?)), Helena (state capital), and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation (in which we were offered lots of gas-filling assistance from locals seeking money and hugs).

After miles and miles of “ribbon of highway” and “endless skyway,” we arrived in beautiful Glacier National Park and checked into the Rising Sun Motor Inn.


Tuesday, 6/28 – Glacier National Park

Drove on the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic road carved into the Rocky Mountains. The views were… um… I am really running out of words here. Someone, get me a thesaurus!

First stop was Logan Pass, the highest point on the road, located on the Continental Divide. The air was warm, but the ground was covered in slippery snow, which made hiking a bit difficult. We slogged our way up and then “skied” down on our hiking boots.

Next, we took the Siyeh Trail to Piegan Trail to Piegan Pass, culminating in about 10 miles distance and 2,000 feet of elevation. Our jambox scared off a real, up-close-and-personal bear and we braved forest and snow to make it to the summit.

We set up camp at St. Mary Campground, made a yummy dinner, and hit the hay.


Wednesday, 6/29 – Glacier National Park

Drove to East Glacier to get Gwen to the airport so she could fly to home, sweet San Francisco. Tended to laundry then headed back into the park.

Hiked the Iceberg trail. Name is destiny.

Checked into Swiftcurrent Motor Inn & Cabins and enjoyed emu burgers and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc at Nell’s restaurant.


Thursday, 6/30 – Glacier National Park to Columbia Falls, MT

Leisurely explored the many trails and many lakes in Many Glacier:

  • Swiftcurrent Lake
  • Josephine Lake
  • Grinnell Lake

Packed up our things and headed to Columbia Falls to spend the night with another Airbnb superhost, Pamela. Pamela, wearing a nightgown and sporting purple hair, greeted us like family with a big kiss on the cheek, made us a feast, and ensured we were squarely seated in front of chocolate at every moment in time. Her home was on a beautiful property overlooking mountains and trees and she told us stories about her sons, all of whom are professional snowboarders. Pamela singlehandedly opened up the first skatepark in the neighboring town of Whitefish, so she’s pretty badass.


Friday, 7/1 – Columbia Falls, MT to Anaconda, MT

Strapped on our life vests (ahem, PFDs, as we were corrected) for white water rafting at Glacier Rafting Company. Our motley boat braved rapids with names like Last Chance, Jaws, Toilet Bowl, and Washboard and avoided “Rosie the Rock.”

It was time to bid adieu to northern Montana and begin our long journey back to Salt Lake City, UT. But first, a stop for the evening in Anaconda, MT.

Our last Airbnb superhost was Kristen. We pulled up to her property (after unlocking three fences and passing 20 free-range horses) and found ourselves in an old western town. There was a saloon, brothel, jail (our home for the night), church, bath house, and more. Kristen used to be a trauma nurse and was frustrated and demoralized by her job so she Googled, “I want to own a town.” And here we are.

We ate dinner at Hofbrau, the only option in town. There was nothing German about this cross between a bowling alley, Chuck E. Cheese, and TGIFs. We returned to our old western town, sang songs in the saloon, explored the “neighborhood,” and stargazed on the brothel balcony (will I ever say that again?). The sky was so clear and dark that we saw Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter!


Saturday, 7/2 – Anaconda, MT to Salt Lake City, UT

Emerging from our jail cells, Kristen made us breakfast and we rolled out of Anaconda like a tumbleweed.

Took a pit stop in Idaho Falls and made it back in time to check out the Mormon Temple and tabernacle and the local shopping scene. The familiar fluorescent lighting of the Ann Taylor Loft bathed my patchy, tanned arms. My iPhone persistently buzzed in my pocket, cellular service coursing through its veins. I perused pairs of trendy, denim cut-off shorts. I checked into my flight online. I Yelped self-serve froyo. It was time to assimilate back into real life.

National Parks, it’s been good. See you soon!