Some Favorite Fall Recipes!

With the weather getting cooler and spending a little more time inside, I’ve made it a goal of mine to get more creative in the kitchen!
Cooking has always been a love of mine; but I’ll be honest… I hate wasting a perfectly good day inside when the weather is beautiful outside!
Cooking healthy, nutrient dense foods is a top priority of mine. Not only does it make me feel good (mentally) knowing that I’m fueling my body with all the “good” foods, but also physically too!
Obviously “everything in moderation” is important when it comes to food…but cooking with whole foods and minimizing process foods is always a good habit to have! So here are some of the most recent recipes that I’ve been dabbling with, and have been a success in the Morris household!

Copycat Peanut Butter Pumpkin Reese’s
Sweet treats have a special way to my heart…I hate to admit it…BUT IT’S TRUE! I made a version of these copycat Reese’s back around easter time and LOVED THEM. So, why not make them festive again and turn them into Pumpkins!
I know I’m not the only person who likes the seasonal Reese’s anything (hello more peanut butter filling(: )

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkin Candies made with plant-based, grain-free and gluten-free ingredients. Plus they have extra protein in them!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Yup, another pumpkin recipe! Tis the season to make everything pumpkin.
I love making this recipe as both a bread and muffins! They’re so tasty (and guilt free) that Kwin and I usually finish the batch off within days.

Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Breadwith Collagen Peptides for an easy and healthy pumpkin bread recipe, perfect for breakfast or snacking!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust (Dairy-Free + Gluten-Free)
Who else has tried countless cauliflower pizza recipes, and had MULTIPLE failures? I know I can’t be the only one…
Pizza is Kwin’s favorite meal, so trying to make a “healthier” version for us both to enjoy has been a goal of mine. Well I’m pleased to announce that Rachel Mansfield has done it AGAIN! This recipe was a huge success, and is now a staple in our household meal plan.

gluten free cauliflower crust

Spaghetti Squash Taco Bake
Such a quick and easy recipe to make! I love spaghetti squash, Kwin on the other hand isn’t the biggest fan. Win for Megan! He absolutely LOVED this recipe!

Bowl of cheesy low carb spaghetti squash taco bake topped with veggies.

15-Minute Crispy Chicken (GF, DF)
How could one go wrong with a good crispy chicken tender? Like HELLO CHILDHOOD FAVORITE!
The breading of store-bought chicken tenders are usually disgusting and leaves me feeling so sluggish/gross afterwards. Rachael Devoux is a genius when it comes to making “healthy” swaps on favorite recipes. Thanks to ‘Simple Mills’ crackers for the breading mixture, plus Flax Seeds (added protein &Fiber!) and this is also a new favorite.

Simple Cashew Chicken Stir-fry
I tried this one out on a limb because Kwin was craving a ‘Chinese’ dish. It was super easy to make and very tasty!

VEGAN CURRY RAMEN NOODLES
OH MY GOSHHHHH this recipe is a must! Especially with the cooler weather coming in and soups making more of an appearance on the meal plan. My mom made this for us after Fitz was born; and Kwin&I about died.
Ramen noodles use to be a guilty pleasure of mine growing up.
If you like curry… MAKE THIS…you won’t regret it!

Overhead shot of two bowls of curry ramen noodle soup garnished with fresh cilantro

General Tso’s Tofu
Another ‘Chinese’ dish for Kwin; and we both really liked it! If you aren’t into Tofu, you can easily swap it out for a different plant based protein or even chicken!

An overhead shot of a dish with white rice and general Tso's tofu on top

Ultimate Vegan 7-Layer Dip
HOLY COW, this seven layer dip was AMAZING! Tastes just like a seven layer dip…except with some homemade vegan sour cream!
This would be a huge hit for a football game or any other type of get-together.

the best vegan 7 layer dip | RECIPE by hot for food

Sweet Potato Toast
Such a simple breakfast alternative to toast! The sweet potatoes provide extra micro and macronutrients profile that a piece of toast is lacking.
This has become a new favorite of mine- topped with Almond Butter or Avocado is what I like best(:

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Toast 4 Ways on a gray countertop

A little copyright note… I am not a food blogger, nor do I take aesthetically appealing photos of my food (let’s be honest I’m usually too hungry for that and forget!) All the pictures in this blog are from the original recipes! So all rights go to the original authors(:

Fall Favorites!

For those of you who don’t know me…FALL IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR! Like if fall could be 9 months out of the year (with summer being the other 3 obviously,) I think I would be the happiest girl in the world!

I’m not sure I can chose my favorite thing about it: the cool temperatures (hello jeans+sweatshirts,) the beautiful colors of the leaves, football games, outdoor activities or pumpkin spice lattes. Either way, the vibes of Fall are just something I look forward to all year long.

This year was especially fun and special; being that it’s Fitz’s first Fall experience! Does anyone else feel like Northern Michigan really lucked out this year with some warm, sunny and colorful days! Kwin and I definitely took advantage of this with lots of hiking, biking and “fall-ish” activities. Let me know if you enjoyed any of these too; or if we need try some new things next year!

Hiking and Biking

  • Vasa Single Track– HIGHLY recommend going here for an epic bike during the fall! NMMBA has done an awesome job recently of creating more trails for you to explore all over the state land in Williamsburg, MI. You can also hike or RZR on designated trails.
  • Electric Bikes on the backroads– We invested in some Electric bikes a couple years ago, specifically for bike rides like these! We are able to cover so much ground, and still enjoy the ride. Plus adventuring on back dirt roads is always so much fun with Kwin. Shoutout to Oma Jo for hanging out with Fitz so we could have a little day date!
  • Home Sweet Home– We’ve spent so much time over the past five years working on trails around our property. I’m not lying when I say they are my favorite trails to hike! The dogs can be off leash, so many different trails to choose from, and the beauty of the landscape makes it great too!
  • Mt. Holiday– A local favorite for skiing in the Traverse City area is also a favorite for hiking year round! Climbing to the top of the main ski hill really gives you an epic view of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay!
  • Marquette Trip– Our annual UP fall trip took place in Marquette this year. It was a beautiful and sunny weekend; filled with lots of hiking! Some of our favorites are Hogsback, Sugarloaf, Deadriver Falls and catching sunrise on Lake Superior. Fun fact… FOUR years ago Kwin and I got engaged on top of Hogsback Mountain; and look at us now with our beautiful baby girl in the same spot! This hike will always have so much special meaning to me.

Fall Treats

  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes– I’m usually not for frilly drinks, I’m pretty lame and just prefer a good black coffee. BUT this time of year calls for all the frilly pumpkin drinks I can get my hands on. If you’re in the Traverse City area…. go to Espresso Bay and get their pumpkin spice latte (it’s made with REAL pumpkin, no fake sugary syrups) YOU WONT REGRET IT.
  • Third Coast Bakery– Donuts aren’t really my jam, and I usually only have one pumpkin donut a year. However, after trying one of there HIGHLY RECOMMENDED GF donuts… I was converted to a donut person. Lets just say we made it a Sunday tradition to get a few of these bad boys! If you’re in the Traverse City area and looking for a bakery that is Gluten Free and very allergen friendly (soy, dairy and some items even egg free) give this place a try! I haven’t had a bad bakery item yet!
  • Pumpkin Patch– Is it really fall if you don’t go to a pumpkin patch? Unfortunately with COVID, this wasn’t the “usual” pumpkin patch experience…but we still made the best of it!

Sports

  • Lions Games– Even though the lions let us down 75% of the time, we still spend our Sundays cheering them on!
  • Elk Rapids Sporting Events– I love fall because of all the sports! And with Kwin taking a break from coaching this year, we had more time to go support the other teams; like football, soccer and volleyball! Fitz is enjoying going to all these games too. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to be a little sports star!

Family Fun

  • Sauna Season – I missed out on sauna season last year, due to being pregnant. But let me tell ya, I’m so excited the weather is cooling off and the sauna is being lit again!
  • Hot Tubs– Kwin and Fitz have some fun bonding time in the hot tub before “tubby time” almost daily! My heart melts watching her splashing around in there and interacting with daddy. She really is a water lover already.
  • HalloweenEEEEKKK, I was looking forward to Halloween so much! In fact, Fitz rocked three outfits and looked absolutely adorable in all of them. Dottie from a ‘League Of Their Own,’ A Polar Bear, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

Writing this on our first wintery day -hello white stuff&40mph winds– and getting a little sad that fall has come to an end. We are lucky in Michigan to experience all four seasons, as it really makes you appreciate whatever season you are currently in.
So I’ll sign off hear and say: Until next year Fall!

Our Next Adventure, 1st Trimester

Man, I’ve been waiting since I was a little girl to write this!

KWIN AND I ARE GOING TO BE PARENTS!

Woah, did I really just write that?! That was actually a little intimidating…but at the same time gave me butterflies from the excitement(: Anyway, lets get into the dirt of how the first trimester of pregnancy went for me.

I’ll be honest, getting pregnant was NOT EASY for Kwin and I. In fact, it took a lot longer than we anticipated (I fully intend on writing a blog on the whole process)…but everything happens for a reason and now our little Miracle baby is finally on her way.

I get asked this questions basically in every conversation I have nowadays “How are you feeling” or “How horrible was your first trimester?” Well, I’m happy to report, but my first trimester of pregnancy was actually great! I had no morning sickness, no nausea, and no major food eversions. I’d definitely say that I was a lucky one!

My symptoms

  • Extreme Fatigue! Once 2pm hit I was ready to be in bed and could probably have slept until the next morning.
  • Getting winded doing the simplest activities. Now I know I’m an active person, so maybe someone who doesn’t do all the activities that Kwin and I do on a normal basis would have said no change…but when we were hiking on some of our trips, or even just up our driveway, I would be really riding the struggle bus.
  • Not an extreme food eversion, but vegetables did not appeal to me like they usually do.
  • Sore and tender breasts! Phew, not only were my boobs tender but they also grew at least one cup size (Kwin’s favorite thing yet.)

My Favorites

  • My Favorite foods were: Avocado toast for breakfast. ALL THE CITRUS FRUIT- especially clementines, pineapple, mango and raspberries. CARBS…pasta, wraps, etc.
  • Sleeping…yes I would go to sleep at 6:45pm almost every night.
  • LuLu Lemon Align leggings, they have no compression effect on the bloated and now growing stomach!
  • Lemon water. For some reason tap water would make me nauseous sometimes, so I found that freezing lemons and putting them in my water would help prevent that.
  • My home doppler ultrasound that I purchased on Ebay. This might easily be the best purchase EVER! At around 11 weeks you can start to pick up the baby’s heartbeat, and being able to listen to her whenever I wanted was such a sense of relief. It’s almost torture sometimes waiting between your appointments, especially when you’re early on and can’t feel any movement/don’t feel pregnant sometimes. (Side note, I am a Nurse and do have some education regarding human anatomy and knew what I was looking for.)

Adventures We Did During First Trimester

  • Fall UP Cabin Trip. This trip was technically during the “two week wait,” however, I had this strong feeling that I was pregnant the whole time!
  • Detroit for Thanksgiving. This was a pretty fun trip for us. It’s when we told my whole family (McCormack side) and some of my closest friends back at home. We also did our annual 5K run on thanksgiving morning, which yes was a little bit more difficult this time.
  • Sedona Arizona. Man, what a trip this was! We were planning to make our “Facebook” announcement while on this trip as I had finally made it to the 12 week mark! We also found out that we were having a beautiful baby girl while hiking! It was such a fun and memorable trip for us(:

Training and Other Activities

I’ve been very fortunate to feel good during my first trimester and still able to do most of my normal activities. My mindset has been- If I feel good, then just keep going. But if something feels off at all, then just stop. Pretty simple.

  • Detroit Turkey Trot 5K and Farmland 5K
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Weight Training
  • Barre classes
  • Hiking

Pregnancy has been such a fun and fulfilling journey so far! I know I’m lucky to have felt as good as I have…but I really feel that taking care of myself before pregnancy and being in such good health really helped! I hope you all enjoyed getting a little glimpse of this journey so far for me and I can’t wait to share how this journey continues to go for us!

Final Stretch- Bozeman, Glacier National Park, Roosevelt National Park!

Life is meant for spectacular adventures. Let your feet wander, your eyes marvel, and your soul ignite. 

Two weeks down, and one week to go before heading back home! We’ve already seen some pretty amazing things while in Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone; but knew we still had some great things to look forward too! 

Here is the final week of adventures!

Bozeman, MT 

On our way from Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park we decided to stop in Bozeman, MT for a couple days. National Parks are great, but one downfall is that our dogs [aka our children] aren’t allowed to hike with us.  We had also heard so many great things from friends that grew up in the Bozeman area, so we figured that we definitely needed to check it out.

Camping- We stayed at the Langohr Campground, a quaint campground located about 10 minutes south of downtown Bozeman. The location of this campground was PERFECT! 

No phone service + Creekside + Located right near a bunch of biking trails. 

Hiking- Bozeman is located amongst the mountains, so one would only guess that the hiking is unbelievable.

  • The ‘M’ Trail: A 1.2 mile trail, that has two routes (hard or easy route) ending at the famous ‘M,’ which I believe represent Montana State University. We obviously took the hard route [when hiking with Kwin, it’s pretty expected] and let me tell ya, the views are spectacular! 
  • Baldy Peak Summit: A 9.6 mile trail, rated at hard. We did about half of this tail, due to time constraints, but it was awesome! We saw so many active people [mostly locals] and had the best views of Bozeman! Mountain living is crazy … while hiking two storms split us, allowing us to watch as the storms, on-top of a mountain, as they passed through.

Biking- From our camping spot we were able to jump on some of the mountain biking trails, and like the hiking, the trails were pretty awesome! This was the true definition of Mountain Biking! We pretty much started from the bottom of a canyon, and biked about 2500 feet UP HILL before being able to descent again! It was exhausting to say the least.

Dining- When we are traveling and camping mosts of our meals are eaten and cooked at our campsite. Seriously, who doesn’t like cooking over the campfire? But after two weeks of doing this, we were pretty ready for a little “treat.” Bozeman reminds me of Traverse City, Michigan in so many ways [obviously minus the Great Lakes, and add Mountains.] There were a ton of great coffee shops and dinner places too! 

  • Mackenzie River Pizza: Now, I’m not usually a person who would order pizza, but I’d like to report that the pizza here was AMAZING! Plus the atmosphere was really inviting. If it were up to Kwin, we would have eaten here for every meal. 
  • Plonk: A recommendation from James, Kwin’s high school friend who currently lives out in Bozeman! The drinks were phenomenal, the food was phenomenal [and vegan friendly,] and the atmosphere was so fun! 
  • Bozeman Community Co-Op: I LOVE going to Co-Op’s! This place had a wonderful salad bar, as well as hot food bar.
  • Wild Joe’s Coffee: One of the best Matcha Latte’s I had the entire trip! 
  • The Daily Coffee & Eatery- Northside: Quick coffee, with great breakfast food selections [gluten free and vegan options available!] We hit this place bright and early before hitting the road to Glacier National Park. 

Glacier National Park 

Going into our trip, this was one spot I was most excited for! It’s not everyday that you get to see and hike to glaciers. Plus, if you didn’t know, the glaciers found in Glacier National Park are the only ones left in the United States AND they are receding fast! Infact, researchers are estimating that they may be completely melted within the next 50 years! 

So our original plan for this National Park was to go to the western most part of the National Park, drive the famous “Road To The Sun” through the park and then end up in Waterton National Park (the Canadian side) for a couple days. However, plans don’t always go as planned. When we arrived to West Glacier, we found out that YOU CANNOT DRIVE VEHICLES LARGER THAN 21 FEET ON THE ROAD TO THE SUN! Yup that meant we couldn’t drive through the park while pulling our camper [18foot camper + our truck is bigger than 21 feet.] So we decided to forgo Waterton, and instead to two days on the west side of the park, then drive around to the east side and spend a couple days. We were still able to drive part of “The Road To The Sun,” which was crazy beautiful!

Camping- We decided to stay two nights on the west side of the park, then two nights on the east side of the park, that way we could experience a little bit of everything! 

  • Apgar Campground:  Located right at the entrance of “The Road To The Sun” on the west side of the park. Apgar has a campground and a little village too! Not only is it at the entrance of the famous road, it’s also right on Lake MacDonald- a BEAUTIFUL glacier lake! It was our favorite campground of the two we stayed at.
  • Many Glacier Campground: Located on the eastern side of the park. This area was definitely more primitive than the western side. A tip for anyone planning to camp out here is to ALWAYS check how the wildlife is. This campground had a lot of bear activity, so they did not allow soft top campers or tent camping while we were there. 

Hiking- While in Glacier we obviously wanted to hike a glacier, but that wasn’t the only awesome thing we got to see! 

  • Apgar Lookout Trail: a 7mile, rated difficult hike. This was a great hike to warm the legs back up from a day of driving. It was beautiful, however the summit was starting to get a little overgrown by trees and other vegetation; affecting the view of Lake MacDonald at the top.  
  • Highline Trail: a 14.7 mile [one way] trail, rated as moderate. This was probably one of my favorite hikes! Despite it being long, the views were freaking amazing! When reading all the reviews on ‘All Trails’ they recommended that we park at the bottom of the hike, take a shuttle to the top, and then hike down. That’s exactly what we did! Hiking alongside the mountains gave spectacular views, plus there was so much wildlife along the trail too! 
  • Iceberg Lake Trail: a 9.3 mile [out and back] trail, rated as moderate. This one was my favorite hikes on the Eastern side of the park! A family friend of ours recommended that we do this trail, and I’m so glad we did! PS: If you stay in Many Glacier campground, you can start most of the trails right from campsite. It was pretty windy that day, so unfortunately all the icebergs had been pushed to the far side of the lake, but the crystal blue water was still breathtaking. We also saw two bears while hiking! 
  • Grinnell Glacier: A 9.5 mile hike, rated as moderate. Given it was mid July when we were there, most of the snow on the trail was melted. However, there were signs all over the trail advising people to “proceed with caution” because of the ice and snow that commonly covers it! Fun Fact: the trail actually ends at two different glaciers- Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier. 

Paddle Boarding- Have you ever paddled a glacier lake at sunset? Yup, neither had we… Until Lake MacDonald! You guys, this paddle was so spur of the moment, and it was absolutely amazing! Shout out to Tahoe SUP for the amazing inflatable paddle boards that we take EVERYWHERE with us!

The mountains in the background + crystal clear and glassy water + perfect sunset!

Horseback Riding Megan [my sister-in-law] really wanted to do some horseback riding while at Glacier, so we did! This was only my second time horseback riding, and it was a lot of fun. We rode around Lake Josephine, another glacier lake located in Many Glacier. The two leaders were super knowledgeable, funny and made the trip very enjoyable.

Roosevelt National Park 

After parting ways from Megan and Tommy, we started our journey home. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do a ton of hiking while here, but we did bike around the cute town of Medora and watched the sunset at an overlook in the park! Roosevelt is sometimes known as the “Northern Badlands,” which I can totally see why! It had a lot of the same rock formations as the Badlands in South Dakota, but this definitely had more greenery. 

Another really cool thing about this National Park, was the abundance of wildlife. I’m talking wild horses running around so majestically, buffalo herds of 100+ and prairie dogs popping out of the ground everywhere you look. 

Ballard Lake, Wisconsin 

Our final stop of the trip! Thanks to our good friends, Mark and Janna Goethel, for inviting us to their family cabin! We had so much fun with the whole Tucker family boating, hiking, swimming, paddling, and lots of drinking. Neither Kwin or I had ever been to this part of Wisconsin, but it was so beautiful! It reminded me of Northern Michigan is so many ways. Wanna know something crazy? The cabin is only 1 hour south of our cabin! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on Kwin and I’s road trip! If you haven’t already, check out Kwin’s video he made of the trip HERE. Also make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series for our road trip! 

We sure do love traveling, but there is nothing like being home.

The Great American Road Trip, Part 2. Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks!

And the road trip continues! 

If you missed my last blog, check it out HERE.

July 2, 2019

Start– Gros Ventre Campground-Jackson, Wyoming

Destination– Signal Mountain Campground, Grand Tetons National Park 

The trick to getting a good camp spot in the National Parks is to GET THERE EARLY! Living in Northern Michigan, we are part of the Eastern Time Zone; So one of the perks of traveling out west is the time change. Waking up at 6am is more like 8am at home…so it’s kinda like sleeping in, am I right? Not only does waking up early help with getting a good camp spot, but being able to see the sunrise in the mountains is pretty beautiful too! 

Kwin and I were both very excited to be going into the Tetons! Of all the parks, this was the one that most people told us would be our favorite. 

-We’d heard it was less crowded

-There were mountains everywhere

-And there would be lots of hiking, biking and paddling 

Our morning started out again at the cute coffee shop in Jackson, Cowboy Coffee, and then we hit the road! Pulling into Signal Mountain Campground promptly around 7:30am with a train of other campers having the same intentions as us. Luckily, we were able to snag the BEST spot in the campground [well in our opinion at least] right on Jackson Lake.

After setting up camp we decided to do hike Taggart Lake Trail: a 3-mile, rated easy hike, but with spectacular views! We both agreed that it was one of our favorite hikes in the park. 

In the afternoon we did a nice long paddle across Jackson Lake using our inflatable Tahoe SUP paddle boards, and let me tell you …it felt like we were paddling with a green screen in-front of us! I mean just look at those mountains, plus the crystal clear blue water!

Funny story, Kwin and I set up the tent while cooking dinner because we thought it would be fun to sleep under the stars. We didn’t put the rain fly on, that way we would be able to see the stars while going to sleep. Before bed we both wanted to do some reading, so we sat in the camper …. and well we both fell asleep! Around 12am we woke up to the sound of torrential downpour rain! We were dry …. but our tent, sleeping bags and other camping gear wasn’t.  

July 3, 2019 

Start– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park

Destination– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park 

Once the rain stopped, around 8am we got coffee at the Signal Mountain campground store and then hit the road to our first hike of the day. Grand View Point Trail: a 5-mile, moderate ranked trail, that definitely fit its name perfectly! The trail at the beginning was pretty wet, thanks to the rain from the night before, so the mosquitoes were bad! However, once we got up to a higher elevation they seemed to disappear. The top of the trail had a beautiful view of Jackson Lake, along with the Tetons in the background! Again, I felt like I was looking at a green screen! 

Our second hike of the day was definitely more busy than the first, Jenny Lake Trail. Despite there being a lot of people, it was still a really nice hike! About 7 miles in length, and I would rate as Easy. 

July 4, 2019

Start– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park 

Destination– Norris Campground-Yellowstone National Park 

I mentioned this before about getting to campsites early if you want to get a spot in the National Parks. Another helpful thing is this website here: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm it’s a great source of information regarding camping, or really anything in the National Parks. There is an area that lets you know when the campgrounds in the parks had been filling. 

Our number 1 campground choice was Norris Campground, due to its central location. We saw that Norris Campground was usually full by 9:30am…so we got there at 7:30! After two hours of waiting we finally got a spot, set up camp, and then went for a nice bike/hike to Norris Geyser Basin (about 1 mile from our campground!) FUN FACT: one of the largest Geysers in Yellowstone is found at Norris Geyser Basin- Steamboat Geyser– and it erupts every 4-8 days apparently. While we were standing in line waiting for a campsite, it started steaming and showing an increase in its activity. The ranger pointed it out to us all, and said it was due for an eruption! Unfortunately, it didn’t erupt while we were there…but it was really cool to see the activity of Steamboat! After a quick hike we drove out of the park to Gandier, MT to meet up with Megan and Tommy- Kwin’s sister and our brother-in-law! We got groceries for the next couple of days, then went back to the campground and did the same hike we had already done, that way Megan and Tommy could warm up their legs for the upcoming days! Megan and Tommy were planning to stay with us for the remainder of our trip!

July 5, 2019

Start– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park 

Destination– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park 

Alright guys, not only do you need to wake up early to get a good campsite….but while in any National Park you’ve also gotta wake up early to get to the most popular hikes! We had heard horror stories before going to Yellowstone, saying there could be thousands of people standing around ONE SINGLE GEYSER! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for claustrophobia to me! With this being said, we decided to get to one of the most popular geysers in the park, ‘Old Faithful,’ bright and early! This geyser is the most predictable of all the geysers in Yellowstone, and erupts about every 60-90minutes. I can’t compare the eruption to anything else, because it’s the only geyser we saw actually erupt, but it was pretty cool in my opinion! It shot up about 50-75ft in the air and lasted about 5 minutes. We were very fortunate to be there with only thirty or so people [compared to the thousands that can be there later in the day!]

 After that we went to probably our favorite hike in all of Yellowstone! The Mystic Falls & Geyser Basin: a 3.5-mile, moderately ranked hike WITH AMAZING VIEWS! It’s about two miles away from the ‘Old Faithful Geyser Basin,’ so when we hiked to the overlook point we were actually able to see all the geysers there! If you look closely in the picture below you can see all the steam coming up from the different geysers! As the name says, there was a waterfall as well: Mystic Falls. All of us really enjoyed this hike for the views, the waterfall and also the bring blue/sapphire colors of the geysers were pretty awesome! 

We managed to get in another hike this day and did a highly recommended hike Mt.Washburn. This was a 7-miles, moderately ranked hike that ended on top of a mountain overlooking the entire park! In-fact a functioning firetower was at the top. For those who don’t know what that is, a park ranger lives in this fire-tower, which was built in the early 1900’s, from June through October and is constantly monitoring for forest fires! 

June 6, 2019

Start– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park

Destination– Norris Campground-Yellowstone National Park 

Our last day in Yellowstone! Our first stop was the ‘Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.’ Now I’ve never actually been to the Grand Canyon, so I can’t really compare it to anything, but man was this beautiful! There were two waterfalls- The Upper and Lower Falls- and then beautiful rock formations lining the actual canyon. By the time we were leaving the parking lot was nearly full-mind you this was about 8am. So get there early folks! 

Our next hike of the day was a “spur of the moment” hike called Elephant Back Mountain Trail. This hike was about 3.5-miles, most of which was uphill! Kwin and I really enjoyed this because we could “feel the burn,” and once you finally got to the top you had a beautiful view of Yellowstone Lake. 

We ended the day by biking the ‘Osprey Falls’ trail- it’s one of the only bike friendly trails in the park- and then got dinner with Megan and Tommy in Gandier, MT.

If you’re planning to stay in Yellowstone, I would highly recommend going to visit this town. It’s located at the Northern entrance of the park, and has so many unique stores and restaurants! You should definitely make sure to stop in and check out Yellowstone Wildlife Galleries too. The store owner is a phenomenal wildlife photographer and has a store full of beautiful pictures!  

Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park were truly amazing! We loved both parks for different reasons. But if I had to choose, I would definitely say that Grand Tetons was my favorite(: 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog, and I can’t wait to share about our time in Bozeman, MT, Glacier National Park and all the stops we made while traveling home!

Sauna’s and Ice Baths-The Best Immune Boosting, and Injury Preventing alternative to Western Medicine!

I’ve got a question for you all. What would be your FIRST reaction if someone told you that they do Sauna and Ice Baths?

-Is this person crazy?

-What kind of sick joke is this….

-Sauna, yes. But What was that second part?

Three years ago, Kwin and I made a pretty big investment and got a barrel sauna for our backyard! We had heard so many great things about saunas from podcasts (Joe Rogan, Laird & Gabby Hamilton, Aubrey Marcus, etc.) and figured why not, we love a challenge! Having struggled with Raynauds- which is a circulation problem that causes my hands and feet to turn white/be very painful whenever I’m cold– I love the heat and was obviously all in for the sauna part. But NEVER did I ever think that I would jump in an ice bath willingly.

Functional health and wellness is a huge part of Kwin and I’s lives, and finding ways to improve our overall health is fun to us! So I’m sure you’re all wondering, what exactly are the benefits of a sauna? How about the benefits of adding in an Ice Bath rotation?

Sauna Benefits

  1. Helps Improve Circulation– The heat from the hot sauna has a vasodilation effect (basically means that your blood vessels dilate, which can cause your blood pressure to come down!) In fact, HERE is a pretty interesting article I read a while back about how saunas can help with lowering an individuals blood pressure in the long run! The dilation of your blood vessels helps to make sure that different parts of your body are getting the proper amount of oxygen that it needs.
  2. Increases your resting metabolic rate– If you think about how many calories you burn when playing a sport, or riding a bike…this is partially in part to your heart pumping at a faster rate (otherwise known as sinus tachycardia.) Well in a sauna, your heart is also beating at a pretty fast pace! With your heart pumping and your brown fat cells working hard your overall core body temperature rises, resulting in more calories burned while at a resting state.
  3. Detoxifies your body– This is a pretty simple concept. 180+degree temps is going to make you sweat….A LOT! When sweating, you loose a lot of water and toxins. These are typically from what you ingest on a daily basis, as well as anything that you may be exposed to without even knowing it. Unfortunately, the world we live in is full of endocrine disrupting chemicals and toxins. So riding them from our body is a pretty good idea! You may notice the next morning a few more zits than normal, but it’s just your body getting rid of junk! ALSO I would advise drinking lots of water after a sauna session to rehydrate all the water lost.
  4. Increases recovery time after a workout– As mentioned above vasodilation allows for more oxygen to be delivered to muscle cells. With more oxygen being delivered to your muscle cells they are able to rest and recover at a faster pace!

Ice Bath Benefits

  1. Helps Increase Immunity– The initial shock of getting out of the HOT sauna and into a FREEZING tub is exactly the shock the body needs to fight any intruders that may be in your body. Think of it this way, your body is going from somewhere that is close to 200 degrees, to being submerged in something close to 32 or less degrees! Jumping into an ice bath activates the body’s natural healing powers that can promote a sense of health and well-being. If you’re able to do it on a regular basis, they can even provide long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems! If you don’t have a large tub laying around, jumping into a lake or pool is always a good option. A lot of Naturopathic Physicians have started offering a treatment very similar to this (Hydrotherapy.) Check out THIS article for more information!
  2. Allows you to stay in the sauna longer– How many times have you been in a sauna, but only been able to stay 10-15 minutes MAX because it’s just so hot? Been there, done that! Well the ice bath provides you with a sense of relief, so that you can stay in there for closer to 30-45 minutes! The longer you are able to tolerate the saunas heat, the more health benefits you’ll get out of it.
  3. Increases recovery time after a workout-Going along with what I mentioned above, the ice bath helps to decrease your inflammation that individuals usually accumulate after workouts! After all, working out causes micro tears in your muscle fibers, which causes generalized inflammation! Recovery is so important for athletes!
  4. The Mental Challenge– I’ll be honest, my first couple times of doing the ice bath I defiantly did the “Bird Bath” technique. Meaning I didn’t actually submerge in the tub, but rather splashed myself. I slowly worked myself up to getting into the bath, and now I can’t imagine doing a sauna without it! The exhilarating feeling of being in an ice bath is so empowering!

The sauna/ice baths SAVE US during the winter! It helps to get rid of the chill after being outside in the frigid cold. Plus as you can see in the picture above, the ice bath actually has large chunks of ice in it, which Kwin usually has to chop through with an axe. We average about 2-3 sauna sessions a week during the spring, fall and winter months. When the summer comes around though, it definitely drops down to about once a week!

I hope you all find this information helpful and even try out a sauna/ice bath session in the future!