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[Grand Canyon National Park, Sat, Nov 25, 2017] We booked two nights down here at Phantom Ranch, so that means we had a full day on Saturday to do whatever we pleased. We decided to do a little hike, then check out the beach we saw on our way down yesterday. There were several hike options at the bottom of the canyon. One option was to go up the North Kaibab trail… Read More

[Grand Canyon National Park, Fri, Nov 24, 2017] After a restful night’s sleep in our park lodge, we woke up on Friday ready to conquer the descent into the canyon. Our packs were ready from the night before. We all ended up reducing what we took with us in order to keep the weight down. It’s amazing how little you need if you actually think about it! Olivia strapped all kinds of… Read More

[Grand Canyon National Park, Nov 23, 2017] Laura and I arrived at Olivia’s house bright and early today, Thanksgiving day. We briefly compared pack sizes. Olivia is using the smallest pack  (18-liter) and Laura and I are both wondering how she managed to get everything she needs in there. Laura is bringing her 28-liter Gregory pack weighing about 13 lbs before water, and I’m bringing my 34-liter Osprey pack weighing in at… Read More

[Los Angeles, CA, Nov 9, 2017] In exactly two weeks, I am heading to the Grand Canyon with my friends Olivia and Laura. It will be my first time there, which is a shame considering I’ve been living so close to it for the past eight years. One of the best – and therefore, most popular – ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to go all the way to the bottom… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 23-24, 2017] I spent the last few days spending time with dear friends and family before I head back to Los Angeles. On Saturday, I spent the whole day at my friend Slaveya’s house. Another friend of hers visited, and we had 3 coffees and snacks over a six-hour period. 🙂 I always wonder why I can’t do that in the US. I cannot remember the last time I… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 22, 2017] We returned from Greece on Thursday, Sept 21. Our host Keti made us Greek coffee before we left. This was very similar to Turkish coffee, which is not surprising – both Bulgaria and Greece spent hundreds of years under Ottoman rule. Friday, Sept 22 was another official holiday in Bulgaria – the Day of Independence. I was not exactly sure how this day was different from our… Read More

[Kalabaka, Greece, Sept 20, 2017] Mom and I saw four of the six Meteora monasteries yesterday. Today, we headed for the other two. We took dad with us, as one of the monasteries involved no stairs. The monastery of St. Stephen was first on the list. It was built in the 16th century. It was bombed by the Nazis in WWII because they believed rebels were hiding there. In 1961, the monastery… Read More

[Kalabaka, Greece, Sept 19, 2017] Meteora means “suspended in the air” in Greek. This name quite aptly describes the collection of monasteries precariously built on the rocks just North of the town of Kalabaka, in the Thessaly valley in Northern Greece. Meteora was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. The rocks upon which the  monasteries were built are a result of sandstone and conglomerate deposits being pushed up into a… Read More

[Kalabaka, Greece, Sept 18, 2017] In the last few years, I’ve always tried to tack on additional travel to my usual Bulgaria visits. Whether it’s visiting sites in Bulgaria or adding a few days somewhere in Europe, it’s been a great way to see my family and get some of my bucket list items checked off all at the same time. I am in Bulgaria for less than 2 weeks total this… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 17, 2017] Today is another big holiday in Bulgaria. We celebrate St. Sophia, Vyara, Nadezhda and Ljubov. The last three names mean Faith, Hope and Love in Bulgarian, and Sophia means The Holy Wisdom of the Lord (from Greek, Agia Sophia).  Everyone who carries one of these four names celebrates what we call a name day. Since I carry the name Nadezhda, today was my name day. The city… Read More