Tag Archives: travel

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Ski Whitefish

20th May 2015

It may be almost June and more than 90 degrees outside in Atlanta right now, but we’re still reliving snow over here in the White household (and it seemed an appropriate break from the heat).

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So while it may be months before we see powder again, enjoy this video P put together from our winter trip to Whitefish, Montana earlier this year. He kind of killed it and it deserves its own post.

Sure, it’s long, but can you blame those views?! I even make a few seldom appearances. Being in the back of the pack has its perks, less time on camera and more time to soak up the sunshine. Because it certainly wasn’t due to my lack of skills to keep up with these crazy kids. ;)

Mr. Kelly and I circa 1990

The Important Places

13th May 2015

It’s a joke in our family that my grandpa was part gypsy. Never one to stay in one city, one job or stick to one story in a single sitting, Edward Kelly was a man of adventure and of narration. Through his seven children and too many to count grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he most certainly passed along a mix of wonder and disregard for contentment. However, it wasn’t until recently that I had a moment of reflection for his disposition in my own life.

Mr. Kelly and I circa 1990

Mr. Kelly and I circa 1990

For weeks now, I have been on the hunt for the perfect destination for a trip for P and I to take later this year. To call it a case of wanderlust would be a vast understatement. It’s almost as if I’ve convinced myself that the countries of the world will slowly disappear if we don’t choose the correct ones, all in the right order.

P has reminded how silly this sounds on multiple counts and as per usual, I’ve fought it. As if right on cue this week, that gypsy of mine stepped in. Mr. Kelly sent me a series of these moments that my uncle-in-law would call God moments. A single moment where time drags its feet to a halt, clarity rushes inward and you know without a doubt someone is screaming for you to pay close attention, right at this very moment.

Whether it was truly my Grandpa or my brain finally coming to terms with the “calm yourself down” notion, I can’t be sure, but let’s just say I’m a sap for these types of moments when they happen, and I believe that they truly do.

Cue the God moment.

Kelly moment. Moment of clarity. Whatever you feel like calling them for your own personal well being.

This past Thursday night, my brother arrived in town. For those who don’t know, he’s away in Chapel Hill, NC being a super smart astrophysicist. For realsies. I work to discover things on the Internet and he works to discover new solar systems. An even sibling playing field, but I digress. What this boils down to is that we no longer see each other as often as I’d like.

Erik and I likely searching for dinosaur bones

Erik and I likely searching for dinosaur bones, or pre-historic shark teeth

Thursday night, Erik gets to town. P and I fight Atlanta traffic for what seemed like hours to get to my parents’ house for dinner. As we are sitting around the table (four siblings, two parents, one new husband), likely arguing about why Amanda didn’t make her desert sooner and now it’s melting, I noticed a look exchanged between my parents.

A look that took the lust right out of wanderlust, exchanged the a for an o and focused right in on the wonder part.

It was in that quick glance between two people that I understood. The most important places, trips and adventures in the world pale in comparison to the company we keep. That one hit me loud and clear. It was in that moment that I realized, for my parents there was no greater adventure than watching a rare adventure around a dinner table unfold.

These are the important places, because as it turns out, gypsies are more than just nomads. They are a community, a tribe and a connection that forces us to forget that adventure isn’t so much of a place, an action or even a destination.

Adventure is a state of being.

A state of joy, of content, of challenge and of support. An adventure that if we’re lucky enough, we’ll seek out every single day. I needed that reminder this week. Thanks Mr. Kelly.

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PS, if you haven’t seen it, please take a moment to watch the short film, The Important Places. It was the icing on the cake and the push I needed to get these thoughts on to digital paper this week.

 

Heading to the lunch stop

Un-Belizeable: Honeymoon Adventures Part One

19th April 2015

With wedding season around the corner (our first invite as a married couple arrived this week) and the fact that Atlanta seems to be channeling its best Portland, it seems like a good opportunity to go ahead and recap one of our best adventures yet: our Belize honeymoon. I wrote about the planning process way, way back. As we wrapped up and headed out, most of the major details stayed the same. The little details however, are always the best part.

After countless words of advice from friends, we opted not to leave the day following the wedding, saving that for rest and more celebration with friends and family. We left the next day, Monday, on an early flight direct from Atlanta to Belize City, a quick three hours.

We split our twelve day trip into two sections with three stops at four days each. As this could get a bit lengthy, I’ll be splitting this round up into three posts. To get started: the jungle.

  1. The Jungle: Caves Branch
  2. The Islands: Caye Caulker
  3. The Islands: Ambergris Caye

A recommendation from a friend and a phone call to the lodge lead us to Caves Branch and the idea of sleeping in a treehouse and daily adventure tours had us booking within minutes.

Arriving in Belize - the walk off plane arrival and entrance to the resort

Arriving in Belize – the walk off plane arrival and entrance to the resort

Upon landing, a guide from Caves Branch was waiting to pick us up at the airport and took us for the hour and half drive into the jungle. When we arrived at Caves Branch, we immediately felt at home. As we’re not ones for large resorts, choosing Belize relied heavily on the fact that we wanted to find small, locally owned places to stay, eat and explore for the duration of our trip. Caves Branch fit the bill perfectly.

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The entrance to our treehouse and outdoor shower

The view from the lodge and our indoor shower - with a live tree running through it.

The view from the lodge and our indoor shower – with a live tree running through it.

During our time with Caves Branch, there were anywhere from 15 – 25 guests total, low season, but also designed to feel quite intimate. Each night, the chef cooked a three course meal, served family style with the other guests. On several occasions, we were even graced with the presence of Ian Anderson, the resort’s owner for a meal. During dinner, a member of the staff would roam from table to table inquiring which adventure you would like to take for the following day. This proved fantastic, as we were able to chat with other guests about their day’s adventure and gauge what to do next.

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Caves Branch pool

On our first night, we signed up for cave tubing, which it turned out is exactly what it sounds like. Our trip took us on a rather exciting trailer ride through Cave Branch’s citrus farms (they own upwards of 60,000 acres (!!)), to a 15 minute or so hike and into the creek on tire tubes. Picture Shoot the Hooch with fewer people, clearer water and far more beautiful surroundings, we were hooked.

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The tractor ride to the creek

From there, we floated for the better half of the day, in and out of five different cave systems, some big, some small, stopping for a picnic lunch and some cliff jumping halfway.

Entering the first cave

Entering the first cave

Heading to the lunch stop

Heading to the lunch stop

Post cliff jumping

Pre cliff jumping

A quick walking break between caves

A quick walking break between caves

Final cave

Final cave

Blurry blue, blue waters

Blurry blue, blue waters

The literal light at the end of the tunnel

The literal light at the end of the tunnel

Each day’s adventure put us back to the lodge around 3:00, where we could spend afternoons by the pool with nachos and Cokes with real sugar or rum punches until dinner. Heaven.

Day two took us on our favorite adventure of the trip (and also darkest), cliff water-falling. While our GoPro footage turned out TERRIBLE from this adventure (who knew you can’t film in the dark and expect a headlamp to suffice), the trip itself was incredible.

To begin, we headed back into a different section of the jungle, where we hiked through the jungle for a half hour. From there, we went into a single cave system and then hiked for another an hour or so. During the cave hike, water ranged anywhere from a trickle beneath our feet to waist deep. Before heading to the falls portion of the hike, we stopped to have lunch inside of the cave, only supported by our head lamps.

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Pretend you can tell what’s happening here. As a hint: it’s lunch on a giant rock

As a result, the photos here are about as good as it gets. You’ll have to use your imagination for the rest. After lunch, we climbed a series of five waterfalls. One of the five required a clip in, the rest were free climbs. Once we reached the back of the cave, it was back the way we came, but jumping and swimming on our way out.

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One and only halfway decent photo from inside the caves – and without water up to our knees!

After our final difficult rock maneuvering, I somehow managed to face plant in the sand, though luckily I was at the back of the group and only Patrick noticed. I did leave Belize with a pretty nasty hand gash and leg cut. The photo here doesn’t do it its disgusting justice. Scars from your honeymoon: check.IMG_4223

Day three took us out of the water and back onto land for a Mayan ruins tour. While the Mayan ruins run throughout Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, Belize boasts a few amazing stops. We visited two Xuantunich and Cahal Pech. I won’t attempt to try to recount the history here, but we were quite in awe by both the stories and the surroundings.

A hand cranked ferry took us across the river and up to the ruins

A hand cranked ferry took us across the river and up to the ruins

The Mayan ruins are also known as a popular cruise ship stop, but our guide timed it just right and we basically had the place to ourselves, only seeing the tourist buses as we departed. Score.

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Before heading up

 

Us at the top. Please note, guardrails are not a thing in Belize

Us at the top. Please note, guardrails are not a thing in Belize

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View from the top

The second stop

The second stop

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Inside the ruins

Next stop: island life. Stay tuned for part two later this week. It does involve a lot of this…

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Updated! Find part two, Caye Caulker, here. If you’re really looking to jump ahead, find part three, Ambergris Caye, here.