Lists

If I don’t post my Atlanta bucket list, do I still leave Atlanta?
This is the struggle and lately it’s been a constant battle of emotions in my head and heart. I am beyond thrilled to be going home. I am thrilled to breath the mountain air and to be in a place, knowing I am taking the next steps towards my dream. Yet, I am sad to be leaving. It seems like it’s too soon. I’m just beginning to feel known and moving back to Colorado feels a little bit like starting over. I’ll be in the same city, but a different me [also, my new roommates are the rents, but they will probably have more fun than me with all my studying. I’ll be asking them when they’ll be home…]

I would be lying if I said that I haven’t changed at all since I arrived in Georgia. I’m thankful for these changes because each and every one of them have made me stronger. They have taught me how to better love one another. They have taught me to have my own opinion and worry less about what other people say. This adventure has taught me about risk, but most importantly about trust. Trust that He will provide and equip us with the necessary things to go out and honor Him.

If you are laying in bed wondering if you should move to another state, run the marathon, start the blog, change your job, travel to another country or whatever else is challenging you right now the answer is yes. Do it. Take that leap of faith.


Here is my Atlanta Bucket List – places to go and food to eat before I leave the City in the Forest. There is room for improvement so write any other ideas you have in the comments! I will update this post as I cross things off the list —-

Places to Eat:

  • Home Grown
  • Ria’s Bluebird
  • Buford HWY
  • Heirloom BBQ
  • Flying Biscuit

Places to Hike:

  • Max Patch, NC ✔️
  • Cumberland Island
  • Providence Canyon
  • AT Approach Trail ✔️
  • Lulu Lake Land Trust
  • Springer Mountain ✔️
  • Brass Town Bald
  • Yonah Mountain ✔️
  • Tallulah Gorge Floor

Other Places to Go and Things to Do:

  • BAPS Shri swaminarayan mandir Atlanta
  • North Georgia vineyard ✔️
  • Braves Baseball Game
  • Savannah
  • Find rooftop views of downtown
  • PCM farmers market
  • Picnic @ Piedmont Park
  • See pandas in Atlanta

Photos are from my latest excursion – the AT Approach Trail from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain, and back. This was a challenging – long – hike that had decent elevation variability and is possibly my favorite hike in Georgia to date. We had fantastic weather and completed the hike in ~6 hours! As I prepare for the Ultimate Hike at the end of April this was definitely good training.

25\\

I wonder if you’re allowed to throw you own birthday party. Do other people do that? I guess it doesn’t really matter what other people do because I already did and it was a blast.

I threw myself a brunch party with a frittata, donuts and hash browns. There were flowers and balloons and maybe – one or two – spilled glasses of champagne. Because last, but certainly not least, we had a mimosa bar.

The frittata was adapted from a recipe in this Against All Grain cookbook.

Donuts here.


25 will most certainly be an interesting year. It will always be the year that I started medical school. It will be the year that I move back to Colorado [maybe for the last time, or the first time]. It will be the year that I adventure to Thailand and the year that I try to squeeze in as many schenanigans in the South as possible. I wonder what else the year of 25 will be.

Uno mas, por favor

Happy Blog-iversary!!!!

It has been one full year – 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours – since I started on this journey in finding the grace within our everyday lives. I want to send a big THANK YOU out into the universe for all of you that have read my posts in this last year. Thank you for your words of encouragement, it really means the world to me [x10000000000 thank you].

I’ve enjoyed having this space to share my thoughts, struggles, and adventures. Writing posts for my blog has come to be something I look forward to each week – something I use to help reset after a crazy, busy week at work or even as a way to form complete thoughts on a theme that keeps appearing in my life. Normally I am not super creative, as a scientist I practice creativity in a very different way from the traditional sense. We carefully design experiments and then meticulously execute them with special attention paid to precision and accuracy. Writing Glimpse of Grace has allowed me to become creative outside of scientific rigor, and for that I am thankful.

As I jump into this new year – 2017 – I do so with a continued desire to be present. To be intimately engaged with this wonderful life we’ve been so fortunate to have been given. I have 6 months left in Atlanta, and my greatest fear is that I will spend those months checking the days off the calendar. Deep within my soul, I desire to make the most of those days in a way that honors God, presence, and connection. I don’t have a clear vision of what that will look like yet, but I will continue to share my journey along the way.

I’ve always been a storyteller [ask anyone from my childhood], so here I am writing down my story. Let’s see where this narrative takes us.


*The tea I enjoyed was from the local coffee bar – Taproom Coffee & Beer. I highly recommend this place for catching up with friends.

Escapades at the Polar Star Inn


We started off strong at the trailhead; packs strapped to our backs, skins on our skis, boots locked in. With one foot in front of the other we glided along the road, slowly climbed up into the trees and away from the car. The weather was prime, not too cold-not too hot, with the sun barely peaking out from the clouds. It looked like snow was on the way.

About 1 mile in on this 6 mile ski we started to have boot problems. I guess that’s the price you pay for only doing a big backcountry trip 1x per year. The skin on our feet was fresh – asking to be rubbed raw. To try to prevent and further blistering we stopped to apply moleskin/electrical tape to the affected areas [Side note – in a trial between electrical tape versus athletic tape for bandaging needs athletic tape wins].

Fast forward down the road to the turnoff @ Nolan Creek. We stopped for a few drinks of water, to ditch a layer of clothing, and refresh ourselves for the final 2 mile stretch. Based on the trail information we were about to climb steeply through an Aspen glade, turn onto an old jeep road, and then finally around the bend would be the hut – the Polar Star Inn. It was here at the turn in the trail that I decided to eat an orange. Such an innocent little cutie that tasted refreshing on my tongue, however less than 5 minutes later I was not feeling so hot. 1 minute later and my orange painted the snow. Poor Leah, she also yakked, and so began the #yakpak. We would try to recruit members for the rest of the trip.

Aside from up-chucking the entire contents of my stomach on the side of the trail I felt fantastic afterwards. We tightened our straps and set off for the last remaining miles. Through the Aspen glades and Pine forest switchbacks ran up the mountain. Always a manageable slope but always hard. I could hear my heart beating in my chest and my breathing become labored as my muscles worked to bring me closer to warmth – one slide at a time. At some point [I’m not really sure where] my legs became so very tired. I remember counting to 100 steps in my head. To me this seemed manageable. I thought, “I know I can take 100 steps. After I do that I can rest, or keep going”. 100+ steps later and we rounded the bend with this beauty in our sights – I have hardly seen anything more wonderful.

We spent the next few days exploring the area [ahem, skiing fresh POWda], playing hearts, eating tasty stew, sauna-ing, and staying incredibly warm due to a wood-burning stove.

What I came to realize on this trip is that there is immense power in pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones. When I was first learning to ski again [after a brief hiatus on the snowboard] someone told me that in order to learn control you need to experience the feeling of being out-of-control. Now, I urge you to practice this safely…but he was right! You don’t definitively know your one-rep max in weight lifting until you attempt the damn-thing and totally fail. This is where your limit lies and signifies where we can grow.

As we approach the new year, I want to remind myself of what it means to step out and enter the ring. I can expect some of what 2017 will bring [moving back to Colorado, starting medical school, traveling to Thailand], but I know there will be lots of surprises in between. Bring it on 2017!

Breath In

2016 is winding down rapidly and like the whirlwind this year has been we will soon find ourselves in 2017. I cherish the changing of the seasons and the new year both as time to reflect. Time to look back, think deeply, then celebrate extravagantly how far we’ve come. There’s hardly anything I love more than raising a glass to the wonderful experiences and people in my life.

Cheers to the moments this year that brought you closer with your loved ones.

Cheers to the new experiences you tried and failed at, but then tried again.

Cheers to being strong, to working hard, to connecting.

Cheers to following your dreams and realizing that sometimes  all the time, timing is everything.

Cheers to laughter.


In the final weeks of 2016 I’m heading back home to CO. My suitcase holds more yoga pants, snow gear, and ski socks than it does regular clothes. I can’t wait for the adventures and laughs to come. I’ll probably write about them here later – until then, have a very merry christmas and maybe try your hand at the following recipe! My friend Haley made this for me and now I’m hooked —

Golden Milk [serves 1]:

Heat on the stove ~1 cup almond milk.

Sprinkle in a dash of cinnamon, ginger, and tumeric.

Mix until combined and simmering.

Top with marshmallows and serve with a cinnamon stick.

Happy Holidays!

 

Stay Classy//San Diego

It was Monday and I was wiped. I flopped onto my hotel bed, exhausted. I was in San Diego for a conference that had me walking back and forth across the length of the convention center from one grand ballroom to the next. It was jam-packed with science but I was determined to escape and see a bit of San Diego, so I “rested my eyes” for 15 minutes and crossed the street from the convention center to the Gaslamp District of San Diego. A neat little district in downtown San Diego [a little too touristy for my taste]. From there I hailed an uber to whisk me away to the famous Balboa Park.

I had no plans, only that I wanted to explore and I heard there were trails at the park.

Tucked away in the middle of the park is a hidden gem – the Japanese Garden. The space boasts a collection of bonsai, cherry trees, and koi fish. Meandering paths lead you along, with stepping stones and waterfalls throughout. It’s a beautiful place. If you are in San Diego with an extra $8 in your pocket it’s worth every cent.


Other places I ventured that I recommend? I thought you would never ask —

For good eats –

  1. The Blind Burro – their quesadilla is GIANT so come hungry or be willing to share. The jalepeño margarita is pretty good too.
  2. BeShock – Two words. Ramen and Saki.

Short trip, short list.

Saki, saki, saki 

Bomb, bomb, bomb.

5 Beautiful Things

To round out this season of thankfulness, gratitude, and joy my cousin Katie has issued her own form of challenge. Katie is the creator of the blog – 52Beautiful Things. She uses her platform to illuminate beautiful things she encounters each and every week. Katie was a huge inspiration to me when I first started on my blog journey and so I am pleased to be able to contribute in my own small way to her page.

The challenge is to describe 5 beautiful things you encounter within your own life and you can read all of mine —> HERE.

– THEN –

Maybe consider submitting your own to her. As a bonus, if you decide to write out your beautiful things you will be entered into a small contest for a basket of Colorado goodies. I’m sure that could even be one of your beautiful things!


As an aside, I submitted my piece to Katie around lunch time today and then proceeded to escape the conference for a jaunt at Balboa Park [San Diego]. It was at the park that I stumbled upon a small Japanese garden. A hidden gem within the heart of the city. A place of quiet solitude, beauty, and grace. I found myself wishing I had waited to press send so I could add this in, but then I was reminded that we live a continuous journey with beauty waiting around every corner.

Max Patch Mountain

When I first realized that I wouldn’t be spending Thanksgiving with my family I decided I wanted to go camping. Lately, I’ve been using Instagram to inspire all of my adventures and I had seen pictures of this place called Max Patch. Not only does the name sound fun, but the photos people were posting were beautiful so I decided I just had to see it for myself.

Max Patch is a bald mountain located near the Tennessee and North Carolina border. About 1.5 hrs from Asheville, North Carolina and ~4 hrs from Atlanta. It was originally cleared to act as a pasture for sheep and cows, and was occasionally used as a landing strip for small aircraft. Today, they maintain the space with controlled fires and mowing so Max Patch remains a “high” east coast mountain that when standing on top you can observe the rolling vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Due to the fires in North Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee there was a fire ban where we were headed and since I don’t own a ton of camping gear my friend Lydia and I borrowed a bunch of stuff – camping stove, sleeping pads, and a lantern mainly. [Shout out to Lydia’s friend]. When we woke up in a cloud on Saturday the camping stove came in clutch. From the safety of our sleeping bags we ate chicken noodle soup from a can for breakfast and honestly, I don’t think homemade soup would have tasted any better.

The rest of the trip flew by as we packed up our things and headed out on the Appalachian Trail. The trail runs right over Max Patch so we chose to go North and hiked part of the way towards Lemon Gap – now I just want to know why it’s called lemon gap… But when we returned to Max Patch the clouds had finally lifted and the view I had come to witness opened up in front of me.

It. Was. Amazing.

Some adventures aren’t glamorous. Sometimes you need all of your clothes + sleeping bag to stay warm. Sometimes you can’t see all of the vistas and sometimes you eat chicken noodle soup for breakfast.

My advice though? Keep on, keeping on because all adventures are important and from the – sometimes – wise Craig Huey, “we are in training”.

For what you ask? For life, and whatever it chooses to throw at us.

Utah

We went to Utah for the mountains. Well, we got em’.

Mountains were something that I could behold on a daily basis, they seemed incredibly normal and comforting to me, so it was cool to hear Madi and Haley comment on the magnificent glory of these silent giants. The way they seem to come up suddenly out from the flat valley and climb towards the stars is truly a site worth seeing and I’m so glad I was able to be with them for their first time.

[As we hiked around parts of Utah I was reminded me of this time I took the girls I babysat hiking with me. We went to Chautauqua in Boulder, CO and did the well-trodden Bluebell-Baird trail. As we walked up the initial rise from city -> forest the girls kept turning around every 50 ft to exclaim “WOW, we are SO high up! This is SO cool!”. Every time they would turn to see the view their faces would light up with wonder. I became acutely aware of what the mountains looked like through their eyes and I was also taken aback by their beauty]

Just like that day in Boulder I got to see the mountains through a different lens. My views have been challenged this last year on how I approach each day and I have grown to see the world through a different lens; one that includes Christ and his unending love for us. It’s a lot a bit scary when you surrender your trust, but I rest easier knowing I will be taken care of.

I wrote a blog this week for Enjoy the Journey. This page is a glimpse into different people’s lives and what enjoying the journey means to them. For some, it means dropping everything and traveling the world, while for others it means staying and intentionally seeking connection. When I started to think of how I enjoy the journey I was on MARTA riding home from work, thinking to myself how that was a journey in and of itself – you never know what you’re gonna get. I realized that how we choose to live our simple lives in the mundane moments is where we choose if we are going to enjoy our journey or not. And if you haven’t gotten the point of this blog yet let me spell it out – I want to celebrate the every day. I want to be grateful for what I have. I want to expose the beauty and grace right under our noses.

Anyways, check out my ETJ post – let me know what you think [or don’t], but I hope you are encouraged to choose to enjoy your journey in whatever capacity you know how. Also…Utah.

 

Jacks River & Other Labors

Labor Day weekend was filled all of the good kinds of labor.

  1. Hiking
  2. Cooking/Eating
  3. Relaxing
  4. Laughing x1000000000

It was the last hoorah for Leah in the city and we were lucky enough to get a visit from Anna and her boyfriend Matt on their way to the Outer Banks. A&M flew in late Friday night and flew out early Monday morning so we had 2 short days to pack all the activities in. Because I came to Atlanta with such lack-luster expectations I always feel this pressure to make sure first impressions of the city are top notch. There are so many special things about Georgia that I believe are overshadowed by other big cities. Growing up in Denver I would day dream of one day moving to Chicago, San Francisco, or New York City. I never thought in a million years that I would end up for a short time in this southern metropolis, but now that I have I’m in love. So whenever I have visitors I feel like an un-official ambassador for the city sharing the sweetness and wonder of Georgia with the world.

All that to say, we did all of the most perfect, non-touristy things. Saturday was filled with hiking in the North Georgia mountains along Jacks River. Our intention was to hike to Jacks River Falls, a waterfall just south of the Tennessee-Georgia border. From what we read online there were 2 approaches to the falls, one from Dally Gap and another from Beech Bottom. With both trails clocking in a 4.5 mile hike each way we decided to choose to start at Dally Gap since it was closer to Atlanta. This turned out to be a poor choice, we also severely misread the trail information.

The trek started along a gentle trail flanked by large green trees, green vines, and green wild rhododendrons. I’m telling you there were some large trees along the trail and the mystery has officially be solved – when a tree falls in the forest and there are four people are around to see, it makes a VERY LOUD NOISE.

Let me explain…As we were walking along, minding our own business, we heard a loud cracking sound and glanced across the valley. There, ~ 100 feet in front of us a huge tree was crashing down across the trail like a domino falling after someone gave it a light tap. Other small trees were taken down as collateral and branches and debris littered the site. All I can say is, thank the lord we weren’t standing 100 feet further up or we would have been squished like pancakes.

So, Jacks River and the namesake trail winds through the valley following each other and frequently crossing paths. At the beginning we were doing really well with staying dry. Whenever we approached a river crossing we would strategize and then leap faithfully from one balanced rock to the next until we reached the opposite bank. We hiked for 2.5 hours before beginning to question the trail information. At this point we should have reached the falls and so far we had only encountered small ripples in the river. With the afternoon passing and dinner plans in Atlanta we made the decision to stop, turn around, and head back to the car. Turns out it was actually 9 miles to Jacks River Falls from Dally gap, with 42 river crossings! Holy river crossings!

For future reference, this trail would be a fantastic overnight-er. Overall, it was more like a saga of never ending occurrences. Aside from the tree falling and river crossings:

  • We saw a giant, black snake
  • EVERYONE FELL IN THE WATER
  • I was stung by a bee
  • Anna tripped over a tree
  • Matt swung from a vine
  • Leah, Anna, and Matt went swimming
  • A threat of 30 pushups if we didn’t make it back to the car by 5 PM made us basically run the last mile
  • Google maps takes some very interesting back roads
  • No, panthers are not part of the wildlife in Georgia

The rest of the weekend we spent in the city – gorging on brunch, swinging in hammocks on my front porch, cannonballing at the pool, and feasting with a home cooked salmon dinner. My heart felt so full after my house emptied of guests on Tuesday. Even though I feel pressure to put together the perfect trip for whoever comes visit me I love the way it allows me to share my life with the people that mean the most to me. I love that Georgia has the outdoor escapes that define what Colorado is for so many people. By no means have I explored the entirety of what this peachy state has to offer, but with less than a year here I’m saying anything’s possible.

I’m ready for my next visitors.