Utila, Honduras

Work this spring had been unusually slow for Ryan, so about 3 weeks into a no-work break, we were tired of hanging out in 90′ temps with no water in sight and decided we needed to go somewhere. Like tomorrow. So what began as a casual conversation  about how we wanted to take a freediving class turned into some quick emailing to see who could accommodate us with such short notice. We reached out to schools in Costa Rica, Bonaire and Trinidad and Tobago, but because the World Cup of Freediving was that next weekend everyone was closing up shop to attend the event. We lucked out when we got word from Freedive Utila in Honduras that they could get us into a class if we were able to get there within two days. So with that news, we booked our tickets with our AAdvantage miles (if you want to travel and are not taking advantage of using a mileage card for your everyday spending, you are missing out!), found a dog boarder and while driving to the airport booked our accommodation. I love the spontaneity of these kind of trips. One day you’re sweating in a RV in California and the next day you’re cruising in the ocean next to string rays and barracuda.

Our flights were from San Francisco to San Pedro Sula via a long  7 hr. overnight layover in DFW. Thats the trade-off with cheap award flights–sometimes you have to sleep on a couch in an airport lounge using your beach towel as blanket.

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Once we landed in San Pedro Sula, we didn’t have much time to clear customs and connect to our in-county flight to Utila. Or so we thought. Note for your future travel in Honduras: get there on time, but be prepared that Hondurans really take the ‘on island time’ phrase seriously. After a few hours our puddle jumper was ready to take us to the town of La Ceiba where we would connect with another plane for a 15 minute flight to Utila. If small planes are not your thing there is bus that leaves from San Pedro Sula and drops you off at the Utila ferry in La Ceiba.

Through amazing luck, our booking at the Coral Beach Village was the best choice on the island. Despite having to take a panga provided by the resort to get to and from town via a canal, it was the only place on the island with a private beach and great diving and snorkeling. Since most accommodation on the island is in town and built on docks, Coral Beach Village offers a true tropical location. The cherry on top was that all but one day we were the only guests at the resort.

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Our classes were over the course of three days at Freedive Utila. We started in the morning at 6 am, with a combination of classroom instruction and afternoon dives. Our instructor John, was so chill and knowledgable. Any reservation I had about attempting the dives went away quickly upon taking his class. Since we were enrolled in the Freediver I course, our dives were limited to 12 meters (39 ft) and then 20 meters (65.5 ft), which to me seemed astronomically deep. Once we practiced our breathing and used the techniques taught by John, it was the BEST experience ever. After the course Ryan easily met max depth of 20 meters with a over a 2 minute breath hold and I maxed out at 18.5 meters (60 ft.) and a breath hold over 1 minute, 30 sec.

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The rest of our time was spent at Coral Beach Village eating Poke and fish tacos and putting our new found skills to use in the water. Spotting a few Squirrel fish and a Sculpin on our last day made for a more than memorable trip. Upon arriving we learned that Honduras is one of the cheapest places in the World to dive. Whether it is Scuba or Freediving, Utila is a great place to spend time in the water.

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one of my absolute favorite fish, a Yellowtail Damselfish!

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Dangriga & Thatch Caye, Belize

I love the Pacific. It’s the ocean I grew up visiting and up until my early 20’s it was the only salty water I had ever been in. But once I found myself in clear and calm Caribbean waters I realized that I had a whole lot more love to go around.

We planned a quick trip to Belize in September when Ryan was feeling like he needed a little break from work. Those 14 hr days, 7 days a week can really take it out of a person. But thanks to Groupon Getaways and award tickets on American Airlines, we had a last minute and amazingly affordable trip.

We landed in Belize City and hopped on a puddle jumper to the town of Dangriga. This was where  we would meet our transportation that would take us to the small island we would call home for the next week, Thatch Caye. “Big D” picked us up from the Dangriga airport and we needed to kill a little time. So in friendly Caribbean fashion he drove us around town and pointed out the homes of his family and where he grew up.  The colors of Caribbean homes are the best. All the flavors of cotton candy together on a block. He dropped us off at a local hotel where we enjoyed some domestically produced Belikins, a pretty good cheap beer. After about a half hour we paid the check and boarded our panga for a short 6 mile ride out to Thatch Caye.


 


Thatch Caye is a tiny little island nestled inside the Belize Barrier Reef. It has one large palapa that houses the main bar and breakfast area. All other means are served outside al fresco by wonderful staff.  The cuisine was limited, which is to be expected on such a small island, but very good. Accommodations weren’t luxury but the view from overwater bungalows offset any negatives we might have had. Each bungalow had its own deck and hammocks- which to me is the better than high thread count sheets. 

The water off the island isn’t crystal clear due to the sandy bottom and seagrass but a quick 15 minute ride out near the reef ensures amazing clarity and sea life. The reef did not disappoint. Countless numbers of rays, fish, lobster and dolphins were all around us. It wasn’t strange to see huge grouper and barracuda. 

The biggest bonus of Thach Caye is that only a limited number of guests can be on the island at once. I’m talking like 20 people at one time. If you don’t want to see anyone that day, you really don’t have to. Most of our time was spent in the water, but we did take the time to visit Tobacco Caye and the Carry Bow Cay Fieldstation. Our nights were spent counting the stars laying in our hammocks while watching huge lightning displays surrounding us on the horizon.  If you haven’t been to Belize, it deserves to be on your list. And if you go, Betta no Litta.

 



Torio, Panama

 

Today it was 102°. That was the average temperature during our visit to Torio, Panama last March. I am no meteorologist but I can tell you that the dry heat I am experiencing today is nothing like the all encompassing, suck the air out of your lungs and give you a sweaty upper lip heat we felt in Panama. I am telling you this because that kind of heat is challenging to deal with and most normal individuals would perceive that as a negative. I am giving you this negative so I seem like a balanced person because now I am going to tell you about how that place is pure magic and everyone should love it and if you go and hate it we clearly cannot be friends.

How we came upon deciding we wanted to visit this specific area in Panama is muddy now, but I know the original motivation was the surf. Torio is located on the Pacific side of skinny Panama and about a 5 hour drive from Panama City. The drive isn’t treacherous by any means (maybe the potholes) but it’s long and you do run the risk of getting pulled over for speeding and paying a bribe to a dirty cop. We wouldn’t know.

Through some deductive reasoning and asking for directions in our rough Spanish we arrived to the tiny town of Torio. It was everything I love about Central America-one or two stores, lots of ocean and not a lot of people. It took a little bit of work to narrow down what accommodations were around that area, but we found an amazing place for the first week. We now lovingly call the place Gabby’s but you’ll find it listed as the Punta Duarte Garden Inn. You know a place is a hidden gem when you have to have a stare down a herd of Brahman cattle in hopes of getting them to move out from the front of the gate that leads to your b&b. It was a beautiful place made up of six suites constructed from carved wood and slate. There were four of us in our group, including my sweet German friend who made fast friends with the (also German) ex-pat owner. Fast friends = homemade nutella crepes and coffee. Like I said, the place was pure magic. For the second week we stayed in some thatch roof huts that were $20 a night and I showered with a gallon jug. It’s called balance.

The fishing was good and the surf was even better. We would fall asleep listening to the loud hum of cicadas and the soft roar of the ocean below us. Dust covered the car and most days we survived on empanadas, fresh melon and cane sugar Cokes. I am counting down the days until we go back.

find more photos of our trip to Torio on Instagram.

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Unanchored

Do you know that feeling you get when you finish that long list of to-dos or ace that presentation at work and take that minute and exhale because you are DONE? Ok, now multiply that by approximately 175 and you will understand how I feel right now. Today we closed the sale of our first home. Hallelujar.

Most people would feel sentimental about selling their first place and honestly, I had a twinge of sentiment for about 30 minutes while packing up the last of our belongings to go to storage. And then I remebered what the sale of our home means to us at this point in our life. It means freedom and excitement and simplicity.  It means more travel, less responsibility and hi, lets be real.. more money too.

We have been back on the road full time in California going on 3 years. Which means our house was vacant. Furnished and waiting for us to return, but most definitely vacant. Before we hit the road full time for the second time we had about a year break at “home” in Spokane (where said house is located) and before that we were on the road full time for a little less than 4 years. Ryan didn’t want to be a landlord and we weren’t sure if we wanted to sell so months turned into years and then we realized we weren’t ever going back. So luck was on our side and within hours of listing we were under contract. We are so thankful for the memories we did have there and friends we shared it with. But, these rolling stones have to keep on rolling.

So, what does that mean for us now? We aren’t sure. We are insane people who can see themselves living in a variety of places and both have no urge to be in one spot for long. Which sounds super magical and wanderlusty, and it is 50% of the time. The other 50% its just a constant conversation of where (if anywhere) we will call home. But until we figure it out we will travel by land, sea and air and experience the liberating feeling of being unanchored.

 

Making my first jump.

I love checking things off my bucket list. I’m not sure exactly what is on that said list, but it seems fitting that making a jump out of a plane would make the cut.

We headed down the highway on our way to SkyDance Skydiving, an outfit out of Davis, CA. Once we arrived we had to complete all the typical first timer stuff and started with a class, safety video and hands on instruction. I was so ready to go. The weather was almost perfect– besides the wind. There were gusts of over 25 miles an hour, so per regulations we had to wait an hour after the last gust.

As soon as we could we suited up and got going. As the plane climbed up in elevation, we took in the view the stretched from the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas to the San Francisco Bay. It was beautiful. We reached our jumping elevation of 13,000 ft, made our way to the edge and that was it.

The free fall was the most amazing feeling. Everything they instruct you to do beforehand, I am not sure I did. My brain wasn’t processing anything besides maintaining permagrin for 60 seconds. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath even though my nostrils were blown open to 4x their original size. It was the fastest minute ever. From free fall your chute opens and it’s a whole different experience. It takes about 7 minutes or so to reach the ground. Once we landed, I immediately wanted to go again.

I can’t say enough about my instructor, Tom Grayson. This guy is nuts, over 5000 skydiving jumps and more base jumps than a few of the instructors had skydives. He had the best energy and made my already good experience, great. Check out his website for a glimpse at how easy he makes badassery look.

Check out the video of my jump here.

Spokane, Southern Oregon & NorCal

Palm Springs was wonderful until the mercury started to rise. By the time we hooked up and pulled out of town the average temp was around 106′ F.  Too toasty for our bones. We made the trip back home to Spokane to spend the summer. Our house is a total oasis in the summertime. Our fun was sidelined for a month or so due to a 40 ft. cedar tree making a cozy home on top of our pool, deck and roof. Those summer wind storms are to be taken seriously. I was home when it hit and needless to say my friend Hannah and I were emotional basket cases the rest of the day.

In September, Ryan headed down to stay in “man camp” in Southern Oregon. The job was outside of Coquille, OR and very remote. I stayed back until I finished up work on our annual luncheon and joined him the first week of October. Man camp was actually pretty amazing. (Aside from the 5+ mile drive to a clear cut to get cell service, driving 40 minutes to do laundry and filling up our tanks with a garden hose fed by a pump that I found myself kicking quite a lot.) It felt like an Indian Summer and most every night we sat fireside in the middle of a field and forgot there was any other type of way to live.

We had to leave Man Camp once the rain started to fall. The down side of living in a field in the fall is that you are living in a field in the fall. We moved to Sutherlin, OR. for about a month before we headed to Pennsylvania for two weeks over Thanksgiving. From Pennsylvania we headed back home and in true Blinn fashion, we left for California the day we landed. We called Vacaville home for a few weeks before taking time off for Christmas. We spent the Holidays at my parents home in Fox Island, WA. and then spent time in Sunriver, OR. and boarded Mt.Bachelor until the New Year. After the first of the year we packed up and left Vacaville for Angels Camp, CA. And that is where I find myself now. We are about an hour and a half from Yosemite National Park and smack dab in the middle of Gold Country. If you haven’t already been, make sure to put Yosemite on your list. El Capitan itself if worth the trip.

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There is plenty to explore in this area. Between the sprawling farm ground and rolling hills you find little towns rich with history. It’s hard not to get inspired by the way it once was. I find myself looking for black sand in the creeks I hike by just in case there is a nice little gold nugget with my name on it. A girl can dream.

I haven’t been everywhere, but it is on my list.

I don’t know how in the world we get so lucky. These last 2 months or so we have not only moved and lived in three different cities, we have moved to destinations. Half Moon Bay, Ventura, and Palm Springs–just pinch me. Or punch me, which is a sentiment shared by my friends in some climates where winter is still holding on for dear life.

The job in Half Moon Bay came to an end the second week of March. There were so many great surf shops, markets and restaurants in HMB. I already miss the fresh crab right off the docks. If you are ever in the Bay Area, take the quick drive to the coast. One of my favorite spots was the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. — super laid back atmosphere, a view of the harbor, and killer happy hour! We were ready to move on to the next adventure but  were so grateful to live a stones throw away from the ocean for a few months.

Ryan surfing with a few of his buddies.

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From Half Moon Bay we headed straight down to Ventura, CA. Ryan signed the Southern California books and our plan was to hang out for a few days and wait out a call in sunny SoCal. We were stoked to spend more time on beach and visit my awesome extended family that calls Ventura home. Well fast forward to the end of March. We spent a MONTH in Ventura. The books weren’t moving too quick and we didn’t mind. Ryan surfed almost everyday–and I attempted almost everyday. We had bonfires outside with my cousin and his precious family and spent time with my wonderful Aunt & Uncle. We made it up to Ojai for some awesome hiking that brought back memories of the time I spent there as a kid. I have always know that I was/am a beach bum and the month being at the ocean day in day out confirmed that.  We were both living the dream, I didn’t work too much and Ryan not at all. Ryan got a call to head to Palm Springs and like all the other times before we said our goodbyes and hit the road before the sun went down.

 

Palm Springs so far as been wonderful. We are staying at a place that is equally hokey and luxurious. I feel like it would be a stop on the Griswold Family road trip. But the pool is a refreshing 70 degrees and there are some awesome natural hot springs on the property. We spent Easter hanging out in Joshua Tree National Park–it was gorgeous. I also have some company and hiking partners in a friend from Oregon and another awesome chick from the Spokane area.

 

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I (like always) have no idea how long we will call the desert our home, so I am enjoying all that I can now.  With each move I find myself assimilating to my surroundings pretty quickly,  so with that said I need to go put my pink flamingos in the yard and work on my tan. xo

 

The Visual Post

Lately, all I’ve been listening to is Beyonce’s new album– her self-titled visual album. And since I have not posted since before Christmas and have a lot to cover, I thought I would merge the two together–yes, I realize this is the only way I can draw any similarity between my life and Beyonce’s, hah. Sometimes we just like to look at pictures anyway. Since Christmas in Pennsylvania we moved to Pleasanton, CA then to Half Moon Bay, CA (which is so amazing, I’m dreading the day we leave). I’ve enjoyed the water, my new bike and the gorgeous sunsets right off my back porch.

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