My favorite place in the world: Ft. Abercrombie State Park

This trail leads to an overlook that is my favorite part of the park

This trail leads to an overlook that is my favorite part of the park

While I’ve traveled quite a bit around the world, there is one place that will always have my heart — Ft. Abercrombie State Park on Kodiak Island, Alaska. I remember hiking the trails as a Girl Scout, hanging out on top of the bunkers as a teenager, spending hours partying (and legitimately exploring!) as a young adult and even now, all grown up, I can feel its pull.

The park is where I spent an incredible amount of time between the ages of 13 and 21. My friends and I had several favorite campsites that we would spend weekends at — when we were younger, we’d all pile into a tent to gossip the night away. As we got older, the group grew and the nights often ended with a mix of couples huddled around a campfire, drinking beer and talking about life after high school. Most of my best memories of my friends involve Ft. Abercrombie.

But besides the fact that it was a great places to escape, the park is also crazy beautiful and loaded with history.
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Headed to higher ground: Seeing Kodiak from above

View of St. Paul Harbor, Pillar Mt., Kodiak, AK

The best view of the city of Kodiak isn’t much of a secret, anyone will tell you — just drive up Pillar Mountain. The problem is it’s usually just too foggy to see anything. In fact the fog in Kodiak is legendary, it once saved the island from an air attack in WWII. It’s hard to bomb a place if you can’t find it!

But last weekend, I lucked out and had two gorgeous days on the island before the rain and fog came in. After 18 years of living on Kodiak, I can tell you this is an incredibly rare thing so I didn’t waste much time driving up to see the town from the top of Pillar.

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Returning home…

St. Paul Boat Habor

St. Paul Boat Harbor, Kodiak, Alaska

I have been offline for a while but it’s for a very good reason. I flew to my hometown, Kodiak, Alaska, for the first time in nearly a decade. I’ve been busy visiting with my family, teaching my just-21-year-old younger brother how to appreciate beer and taking a whole lot of pictures. So excuse the absence…I’ll be back soon!

The Ultimate Summer Quencher: Watermelon Agua Fresca

Watermelon Agua Fresca

While I ate my share of fancy food in Austin, it’s a simple food cart that has been on my mind since we left. At Veracruz All-Natural, the migas breakfast tacos were unbelievably fantastic, which makes sense since they border on legendary, but it was the watermelon agua fresca that inspired obsession.

It could have been because we had drank a good amount the night before and then walked 2 miles in 90 degree weather to the cart, but one sip of that agua fresca was enough to knock my socks off. Sadly it’s one of my biggest vacation regrets that we never made it back for a second one.

And oh, we wanted to — in fact, every other day we tried to plot a trip back to the cart. But every time something else distracted us (either in the form of brisket or beer).

To make it up to me, last weekend my husband brought me home a huge watermelon. We shared a meaningful look and then I immediately turned to google.

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We didn’t just stuff our faces in Texas (and evidence to prove it)

Austin Motel

In case you couldn’t tell, when my husband and I travel, our trips revolve around food. When we each made our lists of “what to do” in Austin, my husband’s list was fine-dining focused (Qui, Uchi, Barley Swine) while my list was mainly beer (Craft Pride, Hops & Grain) and food carts. But at the very bottom of my list was a separate (tiny) category called “Things that don’t involve eating.”

On that list, there were three items: visit the Barton Springs Pool, walk down 6th Street and hike around Lady Bird Lake.

I am happy to say we did all of those things and more — which is kind of shocking considering how much time we spent eating!

We checked out the Texas Capitol Building, which sprawls across the metro area.

Everything really is bigger here in Texas and the Texas Capitol Building in downtown Austin is no exception!

Everything is bigger here in Texas and the Capitol Building in downtown Austin is no exception!

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Street art with a side of street food in Austin, Texas

"Never give up" -- seen while kayaking on the Colorado River, Austin, TX

“Never give up” — seen while kayaking on the Colorado River, Austin, TX

As soon as I spotted this Pac-Man on the side of a bridge in Austin, I had a wave of inspiration.

I’ve been trying to cook a recipe from a favorite blog of mine each month as a kind of homage, but with this vacation and the crazy weeks leading up to it, I didn’t have time to get my culinary act together. But when I took this photo, I knew immediately what blog I wanted to mention this month — Waterfalls and Caribous.

Waterfalls and Caribous is a blog that I happen to come across long ago — I honestly can’t when I discovered it — but I was hooked immediately. While they post frequently about food, the main focus is their adventures while traveling, and seriously, they travel. I have followed them through India, Korea and into China. Their adventures can be as simple (and hilarious) as trying to find a great cup of coffee in Xi’an or as crazy as visiting the Haesindang (penis) Park in South Korea.

But I also really love that they love street art.

I’ve always enjoyed graffiti — when it’s done well — perhaps because I can’t draw at all. It’s really impressive what talented people can do with the side of a building (or bridge!) as their canvas.

So here’s some of the fun art I saw while wandering around in Austin last week:

Who doesn't love beer?

Who doesn’t love beer?

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