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Showing posts from 2017

Covering a Lot of Land in a Little Time

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While planning my travels for the last month, I knew I'd be covering a lot of ground. Starting in Alaska, going home to Illinois, seeing my boyfriend's family in Virginia, and ending up at the Grand Canyon were all in the plans. It wasn't until I drove several thousand miles and went through many new places that it really set in. Here I made up a map of the places that I passed through, visited, or camped in the last month. These points actually only scratch the surface, as there are many more places along these routes that made for an even more notable trip.


     Though I traveled back through Alaska and Canada in much the same route as I had going north, it still managed to be quite different. Fall colors were rampant and wildlife activity had changed. I had the pleasure of visiting Liard River Hot Springs in British Columbia again, which was amazing. You can see the summary of my road trip up to Alaska here. The route was the same until we got to Calgary. My boyfri…

Volunteering at Denali's Sled Dog Kennels

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This week, I made a commitment for the rest of the summer to a half Siberian, half Alaskan husky named Carpe. I'm happy to say this commitment involves giving him a walk a few times a week. You might think, "What's the big deal? You're giving a dog a walk." The reason why it is important is due to the fact that Carpe is a sled dog.

     Carpe lives in Denali National Park at their sled dog kennels. He is a working dog-- he helps pull sleds in the long Alaskan winter. These sled rides are not commercial rides for money or tours. They perform jobs in the wilderness. The sled dog teams allow the wilderness to be accessible to park rangers by means that are far better for the environment than motorized vehicles. Environmental conservation projects, protecting winter visitors, and patrolling the wilderness are among some of the duties of the rangers with dog teams.
     In the summertime, sled dog demonstrations are done three times a day at the kennels for park v…

Comfy and Sturdy Backpack - Ruigor RG6147

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Okay, Here's the Thing...      I am really not trying to turn my blog into a review page for equipment. It comes down to this: sometimes I find that I really love an item that I use in my travels and feel the need to share it with others. While I'm at it, I throw in an Amazon Associates link though *wink*.      Anyhow, onto my latest find-- the Ruigor RG6147 backpack. The RG6147 From my Amazon review of the product:
"Upon opening the package, I immediately noticed two things that really got me pumped about this bag:

     First, the straps and back support are wonderfully cushioned and ventilated. I plan on using this bag for a lot of travel and hiking, so the level of comfort on my shoulders and back are very important to me. The padding is far superior to that of the backpacks I've used previously.
The other thing I noticed is the amount of support provided to the laptop compartment. Apart from helping me bring my laptop to Alaska this summer, I probably won't ac…

Chicago to Healy, Alaska

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A Long Way From Home...      Since January, I had been eagerly waiting to leave for Healy, Alaska to work a summer job. The day finally came for me to leave-- June 2nd. The map above shows the route we took to Healy, except that we drove through Calgary, Banff, and Jasper (the map won't embed exactly as-is). This is the link to the exact route we took.

Summing it up      This trip took a week. I will briefly summarize the road trip...
     Day 1           We left Romeoville, IL at about 6:30am. Minot, North Dakota was where we slept the first night. It was about a 900 mile drive that day. 
     Day 2           On the second day, we left Minot and headed to Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada. It took us about an hour to get past customs at the border, being first time visitors to Canada. This leg of the trip was about 750 miles.
     Day 3           Banff and Jasper National Parks made the third day particularly special due to the beautiful sights. We d…

I Love My Yes4All Hammock

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Throughout my adventures in the last year, I've whipped out my Yes4All hammock whenever I've had the opportunity. It's appeared in some of my YouTube videos and blog posts. I kind of want to rant and rave about what a good deal this purchase has been. Yes this is a paid product placement-- as in if you read this post and buy the hammock using the link at the bottom, I get a little cut from Amazon. Just a little thing I'm trying out.

The Pros      Anyhow, about the product-- I purchased this hammock about 13 months ago based on price and reviews. The Yes4All Ultralight Double Hammock with Tree Straps has proven to be well worth the money for me. The hammock is rated 4 stars on Amazon, but I rate it 4.5 stars.
     It's spacious, sturdy, and cheap-- there isn't much more you could ask for. I've used it about a dozen times, mostly by myself. I have tried it with another person a few times though, and it didn't break! The weight limit as provided by Ye…

Plenty of Water at Matthiessen State Park!

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As many who follow my blog or channel know, I often visit Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. For quite some time, I've known that there are multiple other state parks right in the same area as Starved Rock. Included in those state parks would be Buffalo Rock State Park, Illini State Park, and Matthiessen State Park. I finally ventured to Matthiessen. Needless to say, I was not disappointed one bit!
     There have been some photos that I've seen of Matthiessen in the past involving stone steps crossing water and such. That was the main spot I wanted to find while I was there. With a slight amount of internet research, I found that the area I was looking for is in the Dells area of the park. I quickly found that my GPS was not bringing me to the right place-- in fact, it was bringing me to a closed road. Luckily there were several signs in the area which redirected me.
      I would say I was surprised as to how many people were there, but there is a pretty decent explan…

A Neat Spot on the Appalachian Trail

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Just last week, I had the opportunity to check out a hike in Virginia on the Appalachian Trail. The spot is called McAfee Knob. It is a pretty well-known area along the trail. You might even recognize the place upon seeing the pictures up at the Knob.


     It was very easy to access the McAfee Knob as a day hike. There is a parking lot on VA-311 to access the trail head. It's a pretty popular hike, so we were lucky to go on a Monday during March. We didn't see very many people on the trail and only a handful at the Knob.
     The hike itself is about eight miles round-trip. It can be done as a loop or a in-and-back hike. Basically, you can hike in and out using the Appalachian Trail, or use the fire road that runs nearly parallel to the trail. The route that we took was on the Appalachian Trail on the way up to the Knob and the fire road coming back down. There is a fair amount of rock on the trail that you have to step over or around, including some stone steps here and t…

Road Trip Planning the Easy Way

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If you're taking a road trip, it's probably because you are trying to save money or because you want to do exactly what you want to do. You don't want to mess around with expensive tour groups or travel agents who will schedule locations and events that you don't even want to spend your money on. The thought of planning a road trip yourself might seem cumbersome or even risky, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some steps that I follow while planning.

Make a Google Doc    If you have not had the pleasure of using Google Docs before, now's your chance. Make a free Google account if you don't have one already. Access Google Docs by clicking the apps menu at the top right on Google or just search for Docs. Using a Doc has many advantages, including automatic saving and easy access on other devices or offline. You can make a Google Doc and share it with someone you're planning with so that you both can edit it in real time. You can even use speech to …

Well, I Have a Summer Plan

In the last few weeks, I filled out applications for a summer job at around 20 establishments in or around national parks. I received emails from 10 of them requesting a phone or Skype interview. There were only three interviews that I actually did. All three offered me a job. It came down to figuring out how my boyfriend and I could both get jobs at the same place, and several other factors in deciding which job to take. Out of the three locations, two of them also offered my boyfriend a job (he had contact with some places that never called me as well), Two of the places are right at the entrance of Denali National Park in Alaska, and the third is in Yellowstone. If you read my last post about this topic, you can probably predict our decision...
We're Going to Alaska!      I'm going to be working at Denali Gift Companies. I'm not going to go too much into detail about the job itself, but here is some job information that the company has on a website. Basically, we&#…

Sun and Sand in the Midwest

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Anybody who knows me personally knows that I despise being trapped in the Midwest for the majority of the year. There is one particular spot that makes me forget that I reside in such a flat, boring area. Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan is the perfect nearby getaway spot for people in the northern Midwest who wish that they were somewhere else.

About the Park      Warren Dunes is run by the Michigan DNR. The park has a few miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, trails, camping, and a giant sand dune. There are towns nearby for any of your needs. A nominal fee is charged per car, which is pretty standard for most state and national parks.
     Camping     Camping is $22 per night for a basic non-electric campsite, and of course, a bit more for electric hookups. I have only been camping here once and stayed three nights. The campground is not on the water and is a little bit farther away than ideal. It's within walking distance of the beach, but if bringing a cooler or other bea…

Current Goal: National Park Summer Job

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A new endeavor has recently risen in my life. It's not an entirely new idea to me, but it seems far more attainable and realistic than before. This new adventure would involve my boyfriend and me working in one of the many national parks in the U.S. for the summer.

A Goal Reborn      Before the beginning of my last year of college, I realized that a career that I could truly imagine myself having would be a job as a park ranger. After I graduated with an only slightly related degree in elementary education, I put in applications at national parks. I found these jobs on USAjobs.gov. Some of the listings required training that I didn't have. There were some ranger jobs that I qualified for due to my related coursework from college (mostly my science credits). The issue is that I have no experience working in a setting even close to that of a national park. To no surprise, I never got any calls that year.
     Moving forward to 2016, my boyfriend and I had started planning a…