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Balabanova All Over

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[Congaree National Park, June 2, 2018] As the week of Memorial Day drew to a close and my conference wound down, it was time to head to Augusta, GA for the post-conference adventures I had planned. Augusta is the second-largest metropolitan area in Georgia, but it is overshadowed by Savannah, GA in popularity. You only hear about Augusta once a year in April when it hosts the Masters golf tournament. Therefore, I… Read More

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[May 25, 2018] The Kilauea eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii is in its third week. The majority of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closed, and many people are worried about safety if they go. In this blog post, I will share why I think it’s still safe to go, provide resources for those who need to research on their own, and share my favorite activities on the island. Should You… Read More

One thing I’ll try to do more of with my blog is to synthesize my experiences into tips for other travelers to use when they are planning their own trips to the places I’ve been to. Since my recent trip to Phantom Ranch at the Grand Canyon is fresh on my mind, here are my top tips for making your Grand Canyon/Phantom Ranch experience a good one as well as hard-to find… Read More

[Grand Canyon National Park, Sun, Nov 26, 2017] I think I speak for all three of us when I say that we did not want to leave Phantom Ranch. I could have easily spent a week here hiking around and relaxing. Alas, we had an 11 mile trek back up to the top, so we had an early breakfast (5:30 am!!!), then packed our bags and headed out at dawn. We took… Read More

[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

[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

[Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI, Oct 17, 2016] This was our last day on the Big Island – well, for the majority of us! Most of us were leaving with a red-eye in the evening, while a few lucky ones were staying one more night here before continuing on to the island of Kauai. We got an early start to the day so that we can drive a couple of hours to… Read More

[Grand Teton National Park, WY] One thing I cannot get used to here is the view of the Teton range from the lobby of our lodge. Every time we got up to second floor to get to the lobby, the picture window always takes my breadth away. We started off today with a drive along Teton Park Road, the most scenic road in the park. There were several turn-offs along the road…. Read More

[Yellowstone National Park] Today was our last day in Yellowstone, and Mother Nature finally smiled upon us with our first fully sunny day since we got here on Monday. And it was not too soon, as we were waiting for the weather to clear in order to hike Mt. Washburn, the park’s most popular trail. The hike was not too strenuous – 1400 ft elevation in just over 3 miles. What made… Read More

[Glacier National Park, MT]  Waking up on Sunday was great because the half marathon was done but also because we were just done with our last night in a tipi. I am grateful for the experience and it was definitely a unique way to spend the night, but there were two majors reasons that a 4th night in a tipi would have tested all of us: The temperature. The tipi is open… Read More

[Tucson, AZ] Today, I headed to the East side of Saguaro National Park today in the Rincon mountains. My hike there did not disappoint. I hiked a few miles of the Tanque Verde Rdige Trail, which is a back-country trail that goes way into the Saguaro National Park wilderness. I liked this trail better than yesterday’s; there were many more types of vegetation around, the climb wasn’t as steep, and I got… Read More