Small disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Just sharing what has worked for me.
I first started hiking on trails about 5 years ago and in the beginning I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I usually just wore my trusty pair of worn out gym shoes, which didn’t hold up well to the elements, but got the job done.
It wasn’t until I started planning my trip to Acadia National Park in late 2015 when I realized that some real hiking boots might come in handy. I found myself online completely confused and steered in a million different directions and in REI asking a billion questions.
I have extremely narrow feet, so finding a boot that would fit me comfortably and not slip off the whole time or require me to wear more than one pair of socks was the goal.
I eventually found the Merrell Women’s Moab hiking boots after months of looking. I have had these boots since early 2016 and used them quite a few times (complete with two big trips to Maine and Washington State) since then. They have held up incredibly well and I seriously can’t recommend them enough if you are looking for a good starter hiking boot.
They are waterproof, super comfortable and durable. I have only had blisters once while wearing them and that was after a 3,000 foot ascent and descent, otherwise no problems!
I know some people prefer trail runners vs. big traditional hiking boots. It is all really your preference. I suggest trying them on and seeing what works for you.
Here is a link if you wanted to check them out for yourself (they are much cheaper now than when I bought them… I believe I paid around $140 after tax): boots
I figured while I’m on the subject of footwear recommendations, I would also recommend my absolute favorite hiking socks. I can’t rave about these bad boys enough, I love them so much I wear them even for everyday use cause they are just so comfortable.
They’re by a brand called Darn Tough. All the products are made in Vermont and guaranteed for LIFE. But, so far, after having them over a year, it doesn’t look like they’re going to get ruined any time soon. These things are truly…darn tough.
This combination of boots and socks has kept my feet happy and healthy on the trails. I never go on a trip without them.
I hope that this has helped those of you looking for a pair of reliable hiking boots and socks.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all in my next post,
I recently created an Instagram page for Eloquently Emily where I post about all my travels and little things I’m doing/see where I live. If you want to follow it, click here!
*I wrote this blog back in January and never uploaded it*
As it snows outside my window, I am immediately filled with travel memories.. to times of warmer weather and adventuring; to one time in particular that happened about six months ago.
This time last year, I was sitting with my boyfriend Tom planning where in the world we should go for a summer trip. We danced around with the idea of visiting Seattle. We got so far as to planning an entire trip on roadtrippers.com called “West Coast Roadtrip” (original, I know): it was the real deal. But, that trip came to a close when we realized just how far Washington was via driving (28 hours, 2,060 miles to be exact).
So, we did what any people who had absolutely no idea where to go would do.. we pulled up Google maps. We really had this attraction to the New England region, especially the seaside. After a bunch of searching, searching again and searching one more time, we decided on visiting Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Once we had the destination, it was all about where to go. We had to worry about what car to take (we ended up taking my very small, very cute Hyundai Accent), how much gas would cost, what cities we would stop at for the night and make sure we got to Acadia in just a few days. It took a while, but we had everything completely planned and by the time June hit, we were ready to go.
From the suburbs of Chicago, we embarked to our first destination: the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. There are a few things I learned while driving to Niagara: 1. The highway in Canada was essentially one very long, boring road. 2. Nobody is as excited as you are to go to Tim Horton’s. 3. Crossing into Canada from the U.S. will take a little while.
We did eventually get to Niagara after an all-day drive. It was absolutely beautiful and I now understand the hype. We stayed for the night we got there, plus the whole next day and left the following morning. We did basically every touristy thing you can do and had a great time.
We did something called Cave of the Winds where you get to take an elevator down to the base of the falls and walk around. There is a part of it where you are standing right next to the waterfall and the water slams you. It was great.
Of course, we also did the Maid of the Mist. I would definitely recommend doing Cave of the Winds OVER Maid of the Mist, since the majority of the time on the “Maid” was spent trying not to freeze to death and attempting to see through the very thick mist (it doesn’t have it’s name for NOTHIN’). Both were amazing though.
After our day and a quarter of exploring Niagara (and 10 m we were onto our next destination. This one was really just a “we need to sleep somewhere” stop: Keene, New Hampshire. It turned out to be a pleasant stay. On the way to Keene, we made a lunch stop in Syracuse, NY, which I was a big fan of! We ate at a place called Funk N’ Waffles (it was on Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives) where they had a turkey dinner waffle. It sounds gross, but I promise it was amazing.
Later that day, driving into New Hampshire was when our roadtrip views started to get beautiful. Upstate New York was started the hills, and from there we were driving through essentially small mountain ranges in Vermont. Vermont is the prettiest, most natural looking place I have ever been in the U.S. If you ever have to drive through it for any reason.. do it. I am still wishing that I could drive through that area again.
In Vermont, we came across a small shop on the side of the road that sold honey and maple syrup, so naturally we got both.. and I have never had anything as good as either of those in my whole life. 10/10 recommend driving to Vermont just for some maple syrup.
We did eventually get to Keene, NH, where we stayed the night. My favorite moment from Keene was when we went to get some Panera for dinner and they had a lobster roll on the menu. As midwesterners, we were shocked, and told the Panera employee who couldn’t believe we didn’t have it on the menu in Chicago. Basically, this was when our trip started to feel very New Englandy.
The next morning we packed back into the car and headed towards our real destination, our cozy AirBNB in Lamoine, ME (right outside of Bar Harbor). We drove a lot on this trip, so much that it started to just seem natural to sit in a car for 9 hours a day. When we entered Maine, I really wanted to see the ocean, we pulled off at a random, small beach community and walked down to touch the water. It was a crappy, rainy, cloudy day.. but it was incredible to me.
We were planning to stop in Portland, ME for lunch and spending a few hours looking around, but we got hungry before that and ended up in the town of Kennebunkport. It was pouring rain, we were a little bit hangry and sick of driving, but we had lunch at a small little restaurant. Tom got his first lobster roll there, which he thought was the best one ever, but he hadn’t tried any others yet in Maine.
Later that afternoon, we finally got to our AirBNB. It was a long, long road to get there, but we did and it felt incredible. That night we drove into the town of Bar Harbor and had dinner at an Irish pub at sunset overlooking the bay. It was there that we found Bar Harbor Tom:
The next week was filled with a ton of adventure, from exploring downtown Bar Harbor, to taking a trolly all the way to the top of Cadillac Mountain, we truly got the (probably touristy) Maine experience. I’ll let this picture slide show take you through what we experienced:
Here is a video from Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park. This place was so amazing:
This was our first big adventure together. It was honestly fantastic and much better than we even hoped. If you ever get the chance to get out to Bar Harbor, I highly suggest it.
Our trip took place from the middle to end of June. The weather was in the 60’s-70’s, so it’s nice, but don’t expect this to be a beach vacation.
Let me know where your favorite place to travel is in the comments.
This weekend hasn’t been an easy one. On Friday, I was hit with the news of my grandfather being rushed to the hospital. This hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to get too into detail other than telling you he’s on life support currently, fighting for his life. As you can imagine, my whole family is having a rough time, although we are keeping our thoughts positive. Please keep him in your thoughts.
Today I needed a change of scenery.. to get away from things for a while and clear my head. My boyfriend Tom and I went to a nearby forest preserve to walk and enjoy the calm (he also got to test out his new DSLR that he is very excited about). It was very lovely.
We walked around for what seemed like a long time, mainly because it was getting kind of chilly and Tom forgot his coat, but we got some pretty lovely photos and enjoyed being with each other. We came across some deer tracks, which I audibly yelled “AWW” at, and walked along the railroad tracks; eventually it turned into a race, jumping to each individual wooden slat. He claims to have won, I claim otherwise.
While out and about, we decided to go to a antique shop that Tom had seen a mid-century modern vintage step stool chair at back in December for 20 something dollars. When he showed me the pictures, I instantly thought we should go back and find it. Fast forward over a month later and we still hadn’t gone back. Today was the day. We went in hopeful that we would find our beloved red vintage step stool. This is it:
Unfortunately, someone else liked it just as much and stole it from our dreams. We only have ourselves to blame for waiting so long. We are hopeful that another beautiful vintage stool will come our way. (We saw it in the movie Vertigo and thought it was the coolest thing ever).
This didn’t ruin our trip though, we took a look at pretty much everything else throughout the shop. There wasn’t much worth buying, but it’s always fun to peek at the knick-knacks.
We then got some delicious sandwiches and soup and the rest of our night will consist of watching Making A Murderer.
I’m on a fantasy football league. I have no idea how this happened, but I am fully in and for some reason I’m getting competitive. I’m currently 4 points ahead. I am not a big sports fan.. especially with football. I’ve tried to watch, and I still just don’t get it; which makes for a very interesting fantasy football team.
But, don’t for a second think that I actually watch these football games.
If you are into football, good for you! You probably have a jam-packed Sunday schedule for the next few months and have an excuse to drink beer at 1 pm.
For those of you looking for some fun, fall things to do this month (and into October) that don’t relate to Football, keep reading:
Visit an Apple Orchard
There is nothing more ‘fall welcoming’ than a visit to the apple orchard. Grab some friends or rip your boyfriend/girlfriend away from the football game for a fun-filled day of flannel-wearin’ apple pickin’. You get to pick as many apples as you want straight from the trees. You will never had a crisper, fresh apple in your life. Go for the Honeycrisp variety and thank me later.
If your orchard has a little shop or bakery.. make sure you get the apple cinnamon donuts. They are crazy good and every orchard I’ve ever been to or seen has them. Also, don’t miss out on fresh apple cider.
Visit a Nature Preserve or Park
Find a pretty nature spot near you to explore for the day. With the changing colors of the trees, each and every park is bound to look beautiful towards the end of this month into October. Pack a picnic to stop and lay out underneath the trees and have some lunch. This is the best time of year to take in the true beauty that the earth has to offer.
If you live in the Chicagoland area: Cantigny Park, Morton Arboretum, Silver Springs and Starved Rock are some places to check out.
Go DIY Crazy
There is no such thing as too much DIY. Get crafty and annoy your roommates or significant other by making whatever Pinterest has to offer. Create your own fall decorations to make you feel at home.
Glittery pumpkins, fall wreaths, banners and fall floral bouquets. Head over to Michael’s or your local craft store, check out deals and start creating.
Don’t let them tell you it’s too early! We are only given a short period of time where pumpkins are acceptable.. so don’t waste any. Pick a cool, crisp day to head over and pick out some pumpkins perfect for carving.
Much like the apple orchard, most pumpkin patches have some delicious food and drink to make your experience even better.
Spend the rest of the day after deciding what to carve.. and then carving. Decorate the front of your home with your beautiful creation.
DIY candles are much easier than you think and a lot cheaper than $22.50 for one at Bath & Body Works. I made a bath of homemade candles last year that smelled like vanilla and peppermint for the holidays and people were begging me for more!
I will post a tutorial soon on how to make cute, easy candles.
Or, if you know how to already.. spend your Sunday afternoon making a batch.
Bake Some Things You Have Pinned
If you don’t have a ‘Food I Want To Make’ board on Pinterest, I’m judging you. The website is loaded with amazing recipes. Take a few hours to pull together ingredients and make something you’ve been wanting to try.
I made an amazing pumpkin bread recipe which i’ll link below. Seriously so good:
Expanding your horizons past your hometown or college campus may seem impossible right now, but, with the right amount of planning ahead, it could be more doable than you think.
First.. here’s a story:
I have a ridiculous ‘need’ to travel (more of a want, but in my heart it’s a need). My entire life i’ve gotten such a thrill out of trips, and even planning trips. I think it’s so important to immerse yourself in other cultures and see as much as you can in your life.
So far, I think I’m doing an okay job. I know I’ve seen more then some people have seen in their entire lives (which makes me incredibly sad).
I have a few trips stored away until I’m done with college: Europe, Asia and various islands. I don’t even want to think about planning those trips until I have the money to see what I want to see and do what I want to do FULLY. I’m not going to fly 13 hours to half-ass it.
But, while I was thinking up all these foreign trips, I realized that there was so much I still haven’t seen in my own country.. THE USA. Despite all the racist, homophobic and politically effed-up stuff happening in America in the moment, it’s a gorgeous country.. and I’ve only seen a very small chunk of it.
My boyfriend and I have decided to travel at the end of May, when school is out, and to make it achievable in terms of budget and planning.
We are planning a road trip from Chicago –> Toronto –> Niagra Falls –> Upstate New York –> Bar Harbor, Maine –> Portland, Maine –> Boston –> New York City –> Washington D.C.
That’s 8 locations in around 12-14 days. We at first thought this was insane and impossible to do with the amount of money we have..
Here’s how we planned and made it doable..
Tips + Tricks for Planning a Trip on a College Budget:
*Disclaimer: No trip is ever going to be THAT cheap. You have to spend a little money to have a nice time, this is just how to keep your costs down.
Be Realistic: Before even starting to plan, know how much money you can put toward the trip (all people involved). Save that money! If you have to, open a savings account at your bank. If you trust yourself, throw the money in jar and put it in your closet. Another thing you need to be realistic about, if you can’t afford a trip to the outback of Australia (unless you’re in Australia), don’t even make it an option. Don’t choose places that are unachievable; you’ll get there one day!
Planes, Trains or Automobiles: Transportation is one of the biggest parts about planning a trip.. I mean you do have to GET THERE after all..
– If you are planning to go to one central location, I would 100% recommend taking a plane; it’s mostly painless and gets you where you wanna go quickly. For airfare, I suggest checking TONS of sites and playing around with dates as much as you can to find the BEST deal (www.cheapoair.com has some good deals).
– If you want to go to several locations, as long as they’re in your country, a road trip may be the best option. There are some real downsides to this option, unfortunately. If you are under the age of 25, renting a car is possible.. but ridiculously expensive. If you take that price plus the price of all the gas you’re going to use, it’s not a smart option. If you have a car or someone has a car you can use, use it. Be sure to plan for the gas you will use the whole trip. There is an awesome site for people planning a road trip.. roadtrippers.com allows you to completely map out your trip (and includes attractions and places to see along the way) and calculates your gas expenses depending on where you want to stop. I’ve been using it and it’s awesome.
– The train is also a perfectly good option. Amtrak hits a ton of major cities all over the country. This is great if you have a fear of flying, and even if you don’t you can sometimes find better deals on train tickets versus plane tickets. Of course, there are some bad things about this option. It will take you WAAAAY longer to get where you’re going. Usually, the prices aren’t that much better than flying.. especially if you find a great flight.
Lodging: Hotels can be crazy expensive; I’m talking upwards of $200 a night in major cities. If you are on a college budget, this is a big no-no! But, that doesn’t mean you have no options of places to stay:
– AirBNB: I cannot hype up AirBNB enough. It’s an online site, and app, that allows you to book either a whole home or private room in people’s private residences (sounds creepy, but it’s a big thing now). You can find some insanely great prices. I, for example, found places for around $30 a night for my trip. Some of the places do require a minimum night stay (usually 2 nights, if they do).. which could be a problem for some people. Most of these places are really, really nice too! Check out their website: www.airbnb.com
– Hostels: I’m not totally sure about the quality or safety of these places, cause some of them can be kind of grimey, but, if you need a cheap place to stay these will definitely do.
– Camping: Nothing wrong with roughing it. If your location makes camping doable, go for it! There are tons of campsites that only charge like $20 a night (so cheap).
– Food isn’t free: There are cheap ways to do it. Eat in your hotel, bring snacks, find a place with free breakfast to stay at, but at the end of the day.. you’re going to have to eat. Food is a big part of some cities, so make sure to try it all out. Think out how much you want to allow yourself each day for food (realistically) and then add up the meals per day and how many days you’re there.
– Things to do: If you are a great tourist, like me, you probably want to do some interesting things the town/city has to offer. Allow yourself some extra cash for some stuff to do. You don’t have to go crazy, but some fun is needed.
Planning a trip can be tedious and hard, but if you give yourself enough time, anything is possible.
Dogs are the best. It’s a simple fact of life that can’t be fought (UNLESS YOU’RE A CAT PERSON, AND IF SO WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE). They cuddle with you when you’re sad, they’re there for you when theres no one else, and they look up to you like a baby bird to it’s mother.
More specifically, every girl needs a Shih-Tzu. Mine is named Oliver Twist. He’s my 12-year-old companion and more importantly best friend. He’s the apple to my peanut butter. If he were a human i’d marry him. He goes by the nicknames Shnubs, King, Prince, Barbara, Barbie, Bubz, Ol, and OLLIE. The silly, fluffy little balls of life are the best companions ever.. for several reasons.
1. They are constantly sassy and sort of have a problem with everything. This is an amazing trait; BELIEVE ME. It’s how you wish you could be in life. You wish you could sort of hate everything but at the same time expect everything (some of us do). They just kind of look at you with a stink face even if you just took them on a 5-mile walk and fed them gourmet chicken while massaging their back.
2. Shih-Tzu literally translates to Lion Dog. They’re of Tibetian origin and were used to guard the royal family.. that’s right.. small, little mini, basically harmless dogs were the face of danger when it came to ancient Tibet. The only time I can find this to be true is when my dog is biting and growling at me, which is basically on a daily basis.
3. They’re basically the face of every dog show. The long, flowing hair with a cute little top knot. They were the original man-buns. They are fashionistas til the end.
4. They’re versatile for every climate! No matter where you live, your Shih-Tzu will adapt. You would think with a winter coat on 24/7 they would be pretty hot in the sun, but nope.. They love basking in the sunlight.
5. No matter how ugly they are they are always cute.. even if your friends and family can’t see it, you do! You see the beauty in that crooked-teethed, raccoon-eyed, nugget.
6. It sometimes feels like they hate you even though you’re overly affectionate and love them more than anything. They want to be your best friend only when there is food around. It’s almost like trying to hang with the popular crowd, but the popular crowd says no.. and you keep trying.
Of course, every dog is amazing. Whether you love your Pitbull, English Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, or Chihuahua it doesn’t matter.. we are all the members of one giant family: Dog People.