Weekend Update

I know, I know. “Weekend Update” is already taken. I’m using it (for now, at least) to introduce my new beginning-of-the-week posts. Moving from Reflections and Intentions to something that requires me to be more thoughtful and genuine with all of you. 

What I Did

I wore this alpine meadows outfit at a wedding. Apparently I became semi-famous as “the girl in the yellow shoes.”

Speaking of the wedding, we stayed in the most beautiful hotel that had a curved, purple velvet chair. I read this book front to end in that chair (and on the plane). Adding a curved, purple velvet chair to my dream apartment list.

I began the first of several administrative updates to my blog. I am hoping to expand in many ways, including affiliate links in my holiday posts, which will help me divert more time and attention to those details. I would also like to open up The Wonder Of to guest submissions. More news to come!

What I’m Going to Do

Go on a ghost tour of Chicago with some awesome friends! Even better, we are going on Friday the 13th! I am excited for this spooky evening.

Teach guitar to middle school kids??? Keep me in your thoughts.

Pay my debts and plan for the holidays. If I get those things cleared now, I should be stress-free by December. I think. I hope. Planning to give you a peek into my holiday travel arrangements, including details on multi-city flight bookings, and a top secret update about some of TSA’s newest changes.

Related: 

Discovery

Fall Outfits in Three Moods

Four Things

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Vacations: Good, Bad, and Beautiful

Now that we are in the height of summer and people are starting to think about back-to-school shopping, I have been finding the most amazing reflections on summer vacation! Here is my vacation round-up, for one last dose of adventure and summer freedom before we start thinking about school and fall layers.

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I have been watching for this post since the author came back from vacation. These photos from a girls backpacking trip in Alaska are so striking. I have definitely added this to the list of trips I would like to take.

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Joy shows some love to Detroit, and honestly, I’m convinced. The food looks great and it sounds like she found beautiful pockets of the rich culture and history of the city.

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The trip to Joshua Tree that went horribly wrong. I held my breath through the entire story. I can’t imagine the agony she was in.

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An old episode of This American Life all about summer camp. Warning: squeaky pre-teen boys and very loud, high-pitched screeches from the young ladies of the camp.

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Photos from the Goddard family vacation give us all that final nudge to start saving for a trip to Italy. From Rome, to Tuscany, to Venice, Joanna captures the best of each region. And there is an Uber for Vespas???

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And finally, please check out my own summer vacation experience in Alberta, Canada. We backpacked in Banff, had tea on a mountain, and hiked to glaciers and hot springs in Jasper National Park.

Book Lists

“Everyone is always looking for the next good book to read.” That’s what my mom told me when I expressed surprise at the popularity of all the posts about favorite books. I have written lengthy descriptions about my favorite Summer Re-Reads and detailed reflections about popular books on controversial topics, such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Hillbilly Elegy. The Wonder Of is unrolling a new Book Lists page as a central location for all of the book lists that we publish. If you just finished a great novel and want to find one in a similar theme, check for more from our Nature Week Book Club or maybe What We Read on Vacation.

The Book Lists page will be regularly updated and reorganized, so be sure to keep checking back. If you’re curious, I’m reading this book now. What are you reading?

Hiking in Jasper National Park

After backpacking in Banff National Park and hiking to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, we set out for Jasper National Park. Jasper was more remote than Banff, and we had more nature encounters throughout the trip.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetThis sunset happened during our first night in Jasper. We all ran up to the balcony of our chalet to watch it. Our dad ran downstairs to grab his camera and by the time he was back up… not even 60 seconds later!… the sunset was over. Luckily, my sister caught this photo.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetThere were a lot of unique water experiences in the parks of Alberta, Canada. On our first day of hiking in Jasper, we visited the Miette hot springs! The source of the springs steamed hot and stinky sulphur, but the actual lounging area wasn’t stinky at all. We especially had fun running from the 100 degree waters and jumping in the ICE cold mini-pool nearby. The next day we hiked the Valley of Five Lakes, the fifth of which is featured above. We hike the trail backwards, starting at lake 5 where we ate lunch and soaked in the views before hiking out. Each lake was a vivid and distinct shade of blue or green.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetContinuing with the tour of spectacular water attractions, we visited the Sunwapta and Athabasca waterfalls the next day. Standing near water that is moving with such force is pretty terrifying. There were effective signs posted all around warning of people who were overconfident and climbed past the fences, only to fall in.

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThe next day was our father-daughter hike. My dad, sister, and I all drove to a beautiful and isolated section of the park, planning to take a strenuous four hour hike. It took us an hour to hike to the trailhead, where a sign was posted announcing the closure of this trail due to the spotting of a mother bear and her newly born cub. You didn’t have to tell us twice… we’ve all seen The Revenant. After hiking another hour back to the parking area, we decided on a shorter two hour hike nearby, where we visited a secluded lake that was home to a beautiful swimming loon. The water was so clear that you could see the loon through the water as he torpedoed under in search of fish.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetWe also visited this insanely mirrored lake where from a distance it looked as if people were walking on water. This lake was massive, but at no point was it ever more than ankle-deep. Some bold people had braved the frigid waters and waded across the entire lake!

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetTo break up the 6 hour drive back to Calgary, we stopped halfway to stretch our legs and hike up to a glacier. It was wild to see the markers of where the glacier used to reach before melting, and so sad to see how much was gone. This glacier won’t be there for many more years.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetWhen we got back, we did a bit of urban backpacking to get from the airport to the south side of Chicago. We were quite a sight at our bus stop downtown!

Be sure to read about our backpacking trip while we were in Banff National Park, and the amazing Teahouse Hike we took!

 

More Nature Adventures:
Hiking advice from my brother and sister
What we packed
What we read
What you should read

What We Read on Vacation

The 9 books read by 6 people during an 11 day vacation.

Kristy packed New Lanark in Search of Utopia, a book about important historical figures from her hometown. She was busy on this trip and didn’t have much chance to read.

Kurt listened to music in his downtime, and didn’t pack a book.

Anthony read Mingus: A Critical Biography, about the great jazz bassist Charles Mingus.

Thor normally out-reads us all, but I didn’t see him touch the copy of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties that Mom gave him. Instead of reading, during his downtime he wrote.

Kendra started with The Kindness of Strangers, a Lonely Planet travel book and collection of short stories. The short stories were kind of hard for us to get into on this trip. What was not difficult to get into was the gripping The Woman in Cabin 10 which she knew must be good when I devoured half of it on a four hour plane ride. While she waited for me to finish the thriller, she read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and when she had finished all of these and realized she was bookless for a 6 hour car trip with the whole family and a 4 hour return flights, she picked up book one of A Game of Thrones which has kept her occupied during our many hours of transit back in Chicago. Kendra was definitely the most dedicated reader on this vacation!

Kelsey read over half of  The Woman in Cabin 10 on the plane. She tried to savor it and read less than a chapter a night, but Kendra new it must be good and rushed her so that she could read it. When Kelsey finished the book on day three of an eleven day trip, she went and bought A Man Called Ove, which she is also breezing through.

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Travel Advice Needed

Whew. We just got back from backpacking in Canada… and now we are turning around and driving to New York City… the day after tomorrow???

Obviously we have a ton of laundry to do, and our packing list for this trip will look totally different.

What is your advice for a rapid travel turnaround like this?

Tripstagram: Glacier National Park

My family has developed a great love for Glacier National Park. This year, we ventured further north, but I thought I would share some favorite photos from the years past. The colors are so bright and vivid, it is hard to believe that is what these mountains and valleys looked like in real life!

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What’s in a Carry-On?

What do you pack in your carry-on when your travel day looks like this:

6:00 a.m.: Leave for airport
8:20 a.m.: Board flight
11:30 a.m.: Land
1:00 p.m.: Board bus
4:15 p.m.: Exit bus
5:00 p.m.: Hike to campsite

 

I’ll tell you what!

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Entertainment: iPod, Book, Earplugs, Journal, Pen, Cards, Headphones

 

 

Toiletries: Baby Powder, Castile Soap, Deodorant, Hair Tie, Lotion, Toothbrush,  Tweezers,  Razor, Microfiber Wash Cloth, Comb, Tooth Tabs,

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The essentials: Grocery Bag, Sunglasses, Vapur Water Bottle, Wallet, Currency, Passport

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Snacks of your choice!!!!

 

Bonus if your bag folds into itself for easy storage during the rest of your trip!

Not pictured: 2 jackets, phone charger, external battery, directions and tickets

Related: What’s in a backpack?
Inside the Bag: At the Gym!
What’s in a Bag: San Fran Plan

 

Backcountry Backpack: Three People, Three Days

As you are reading this, my brother, sister and I are loading our packs and headed out on a three day backpacking journey in Banff, Canada! We are so excited about this, but it took a lot of planning. I wanted to give you a glimpse of what we did to make this happen.

First, do you remember all the stuff we packed to hike the Grand Canyon? In case you missed it, here is that breakdown:

Backpack

  1. The Backpack: See all this gear? Somehow, SOMEHOW, most of it fit in this little backpack! I carry a women’s Marmot, and it is probably just the “weekend” size. So far, I have only taken 2-3 day trips. Any longer trips, and I will need a larger pack.If you’re choosing a pack, here are some things to keep in mind:
    – Frame size: Be sure that your pack fits your body. Just because you need more room doesn’t mean you should order a size up.
    – Volume: How much room is in your pack, and how many things will you need to take on your trip?
    – Weight: The lighter the better. Always.
  2. Sleeping pad: These are not necessary, but when you are sleeping on the jagged canyon rocks along a fault line, it makes a big difference. BONUS, the sleeping pad is perfect for breaks on the trail or laying along the river to read your book.
  3. Sleeping bag: My sister told me over and over again to get a temperature rating for 20, 15, -5, -20… and I got a temperature rating of 30. If you plan to camp in high altitude, or a season other than summer, you should get a temperature rating for lower than 30. This is coming from someone who moved from the tent to the car for warmth.
  4. Dromedary: If you have confirmed access to water for each day of your trip, it is likely that you don’t need one of these. If you are hiking to a lake or river and have a filter, you probably won’t need one of these. If you are hiking into the Grand Canyon and the main water pipe just broke (again) this is a good way to ensure you will survive. We each carried 10 liters of water along with smaller water packs, and although it added 20 pounds to our packs, we were sure glad we had the backup water when we reached our first campground and learned that the pipe had burst.
  5. Hydration Pack: I am a big fan! I have learned to use the 2.5 liter pack and refill as needed to help monitor and pace the amount of water I am drinking. Extra points if your backpack has an opening for your hose… easy sipping.
  6. Tent: I don’t have a fancy minimal backpacker’s tent that ways .3 pounds and inflates in the wind. I have a clunky 4-person Coleman that shields us from wind/rain/animals and is spacious even with two other people. Packing tip: split the tent and poles between people depending on pack size and weight.
  7. Hiking boots: My sister told me that I need them. I told her I didn’t… and then I read a little more and realized a 70 lb. pack on a 65 degree downgrade could snap my ankles if I wasn’t careful. I have also heard horror stories of people breaking their feet by stepping on canyon rocks. In the end I was VERY grateful to have these Merrell’s on my feet.
  8. Sandals: I will always take Teva’s everywhere I go. If you don’t own a pair, buy some! You can hike in them, wear them in the shower/lake/river, jog to meet your friends, or slip them on like outdoorsy slippers.
  9. Cook-set: I have a little Stanley cook-set that has easily boils 2+ cups of water and has two nifty cups that fit right in. Also pictured: titanium eating tool.
  10. Stove and fuel: Take a stove, weather-proof matches, and fuel (not pictured.)

    Not numbered: trekking poles ($10 used for the PAIR, purchased from Grand Canyon rentals!), 2nd skyn blister kit, Mountain House breakfast, hiking clothes and a trusty red bandana

    Not pictured: flight duffle, book, many maps crammed in a sheet protector, food for days, allergy pills.

 

With three of us, the distribution of stuff is a little different. We share the big and bulky things, like the tent and dry sack of food, but we still have a number of personal things to pack up, like clothes and trail snacks. This is a direct CTRL-C/ CTRL-V straight to you from the backpacking google sheet. You should see our packs. They are LOADED.

Thor- completed Thor Kendra- completed Kendra Kelsey- completed Kelsey
X Pack X Pack Pack
Duffle X Duffle X Duffle
Sleeping bag + pad X Sleeping bag + pad X Sleeping bag + pad
X WARM CLOTHES, 2 pairs X WARM CLOTHES, 2 pairs Emergency Blanket
X All hydration systems X All hydration systems X TP+ shovel
Day pack X Day pack X Dinner for Thor and Kelsey
X Wound Power + First Aid X First Aid X Bear bin
X 3-5 changes of underwear X 3-5 changes of underwear/ sports bras X WARM CLOTHES
X 3-5 sets of athletic clothes X 3-5 sets of athletic clothes X 10 L Water Bladder + all others
X hiking boots X hiking boots + athletic sandals X Water filter
X Lunch for self- 3-5 days X Lunch and dinner for 3-5 days X Day pack
X Spork + cup X Coffee filter/ pour over X Suture + Second Skyn
X Sunscreen X Spork + cup X 3-5 changes of underwear/ sports bras
X Dry sack for dirty clothes X Sunscreen X 3-5 sets of athletic clothes
X Dr. Bronner’s, toothbrush X Dry sack for food + rope X hiking boots + athletic sandals
X 3+ wool socks Dry sack for dirty clothes X Breakfast for all
X Deodorant X Dr. Bronner’s, toothbrush X Lunch for self
X Headlamp X 3+ wool socks X Coffee
X Pack extra clothes with parents Pack extra clothes with parents X Stove, fuel, mess kit, matches
X Rain jacket X External charger battery pack X Knife
X Towel X Deodorant Alcohol for steralizing wounds, similar
X Hiking PANTS X Headlamp X Sunscreen
X Long sleeve FOR HIKING X Rain jacket X Water tablets
X Light jacket Fuel tablets X Dry sack for dirty clothes
X Tevas Lighter X Dr. Bronner’s, toothbrush
Retainers X Towel X 3+ wool socks
X Debit card X Trekking Poles X Deodorant
Cash X Pack extra clothes with Anthony
ID X Headlamp
X Trekking Poles X Towel
PHONE CHARGER
X Trekking Poles

Camping 101

For the people who have never ever ever never camped!

After having gone backpacking a few times, car camping feels a bit like glamping. This is glamorous camping, because you can bring anything you need for maximum comfort, including whole food (as opposed to dehydrated meals) and luxury items like an air mattress, or pillows! Here are some basic camping tips from around the web.

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From Liz Stanley of Say Yes
Skip the campground. Campgrounds feel like cities, only you’re closer together. The only thing between you and a bunch of drunk college kids is a thin sheet of nylon. If you’re scared of bears, campgrounds are the worst place because they know that’s where food is. In Yosemite, we saw a couple a day! You are allowed to camp in any national forest or wilderness area surrounding a national park.

WHY IT’S SO WORTH IT: It’s so nice to wake up in the morning when it’s chilly, and have a long hot breakfast with coffee or hot chocolate… Sitting around the campfire at night — drinking a mug of wine, talking, making s’mores — is amazing. Since it gets dark at 8pm, we’ll often hang out for a while yet still go to bed early, which feels so good, too. My husband and I once took a kayaking trip and ended up on a gorgeous lake under the Grand Tetons. We went skinny dipping at midnight. I loved that combination of paddling and camping. It was magical.

Joanna Goddard at Cup of Jo
Do periods attract bears
Poor Joanna was shamed into sleeping in a cage while camping on a school trip. She reports that periods do not attract bears. Yellowstone reports that polar bears are likely attracted to menstruation, but black bears are definitely impartial. Grizzlies? Unknown…

 

From Ranger John
Make campsite reservations as soon as you can. Campsite Reservations have become the norm in today’s campgrounds. Packing a car at the last minute on a Friday afternoon and rushing to a park typically leads to disappointment and driving around to multiple campgrounds all with their Campground Full signs posted. You end up camping in your car overnight at the Wal-Mart parking lot or the local motel/hotel with everyone complaining about this being the worst vacation ever.

Pack bacon!  I consider bacon the official torture smell for all Park Rangers. There is nothing like going to work and heading through the campground and smelling bacon cooking everywhere. For some reason, this smell triggers all hunger senses in your brain and you too now want bacon. I will look at my watch and have another 3 1/2 hours to lunch and the sandwich I packed doesn’t smell as good. Of course, I will notice other campers getting up walking to the restroom starring at the campsite next to them cooking bacon, they have this look of wanting to invite themselves over for breakfast too, perhaps the look of plotting how to get the bacon from them devising a scheme used by the famous bear known for stealing picnic baskets. Save yourself this torture and pack your own bacon and be the envy of the campground.

Carry the 10 Essentials! I encourage everyone to carry the 10 essentials with them anytime they head outdoors. It’s the one thing you hope to never need but will also be your best friend if the occasion arises and you do need it. Click here for a list of the 10 essentials you should have with you camping!

From Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic
Use the Airbnb of Camping: 
When it comes to travel, I have two schools of thought: living like a local via Airbnb and dirt-bagging it by camping. I’m a mix of hi/lo, luxe and earthy. Plus, if I’m camping, often that means I’m also climbing… which equals one very happy Joanna. So you can imagine my excitement to recently discover Hipcamp, which is like Airbnb but with campgrounds, ranches, farms, even a vineyard! This is definitely the option for the adventurous of heart.