Black Canyon at the Gunnison

The name alone sounds terrifyingly adventurous. Jon and I were making our way around the Rocky Mountains on our way to check out a job lead in Crested Butte, Colorado when this National Park caught my attention.

The Gunnison National Forest area is massive and beautiful, ranging from dense, pine covered forests to huge, gaping rock canyons.

The amazing drive to the North Rim of the canyon (which is supposed to be the most spectacular, and have a killer campsite right on the canyon’s rim) had unparallelled views.

Part of Curecanti National Recreation Area

Part of Curecanti National Recreation Area

Blue Mesa Lake

Blue Mesa Lake

We drove through Curecanti National Recreation Area and hit up highway 92, snaking through Crawford State Park and enjoying 2-3 hours of the most spectacular views of the Gunnison River. Let it be known that this stretch of road has many hairpin turns, high cliffs, sleep grades and overall panic but awe-inducing moments.

A particularly scary moment to capture. Standing right on the canyon's cliff

A particularly scary moment to capture. Standing right on the canyon’s cliff

We snaked around the National Park and enjoyed views like this from the top:

I'm giddy with altitude, nerves and a killer view

I’m giddy with altitude, nerves and an awesome view

It seemed like a while later we finally arrived at the North Rim of the Black Canyon at the Gunnison. There are only a handful of camping spots at this site, so arrive early if you want in! Luckily we secured our spot and set off on the easy-ish 1/3 mile hike around the chasm for a few views of the canyon at sunset.

Black Canyon at the Gunnison, North Rim

Black Canyon at the Gunnison, North Rim

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It's hard to convey in pictures the sheer brevity and depth of this place

It’s hard to convey in pictures the sheer brevity and depth of this place

The next morning we decided to hike a 3 mile loop from the base of camp to Exclamation Point, which offers some of the best views of the North Rim of the Canyon. This hike is moderate and can get a little hairy at times (slippery rock, cliff edges), but the views are spectacular!

The trail head is located just behind the ranger station

The trail head is located just behind the ranger station

View from Exclamation Point. Sure you can go closer, but I wasn't planning on falling in!

View from Exclamation Point. Sure you can go closer, but I wasn’t planning on falling in!

Last but not least we did the crater rim drive which offers different perspectives and cool rock formations of the canyon. It’s definitely worth the 4 mile drive.

Special shout-out to my old home!

Special shout-out to my old home!

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What’s one the prettier places you’ve been lately? Feel free to share!

Staying fit on the road

It’s time to address an issue that has been on my mind my whole life, but most recently more so ever since hitting the road: staying in shape.

I’m a person who has been technically overweight my whole life. Part of this is because I truly love to eat. Something about food tastes so darn good. Flavors, textures, you name it…if it’s about food, I’m all about it.

Ain't no shame. Grinding on a hoagie in Maui

Ain’t no shame. Grinding on a hoagie in Maui

As I grew older and more self-conscious (and self-aware of my health), I realized that I, personally, needed to work out at least 3 times a week. Not only that, but I had to cut out many of the foods that I loved so much growing up: soda (pop as we in the Midwest call it), chips on a day-to-day basis, mayonnaise and chocolate among other delicacies.

The heaviest I ever grew was in college to 23o pounds. Freshman year was when I put on the most weight, drinking, partying, eating pizza and junk food into the wee hours of the morning, stuffing my face with dorm food, ordering takeout, you name it.

The heavier years...

The heavier years…

I visited the doctor for a routine check-up that he told me I had high blood pressure because I was overweight. That was the nail in the coffin for me. How could I have high blood pressure at age 19? I wasn’t a 65 year old man with high cholesterol. Worse, I was not educate when it came to eating healthy and staying fit.

That doctor’s office visit was the wake-up call for me to lose some weight and try to maintain a more conscious lifestyle.

Since then I’ve lost 35 pounds and managed to keep it off. I have fluctuated somewhere between 185-195 for the past 5 years. I can’t say it’s been all easy, nor have I been a saint.

These days I like to stay active outdoors

These days I like to stay active outdoors

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The ways in which I keep off weight to me are simple (most days):

If it makes you feel gross eating it, don’t.

If you can feel sugar in your teeth after you eat/drink something, stay away.

Water is your best friend.

Stick to granola, bananas, hummus, pretzels, apples, and other light, healthy snacks.

Don’t deny yourself some pleasures.

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Another key to staying fit is working out. I am a runner, albeit a rather slow one, but I do try to get out there at least twice a week and run a few miles. I practice yoga about 3 times a week, I lift weights and do pushups. I also love hiking, biking, climbing and swimming when the opportunity presents itself. My workout routine is moderate at best, some weeks ranking in at sluggish. Though I do sometimes feel guilty about this, I give myself one small allowance: I work on my feet as a waitress about 8 hours a day, clocking anywhere from 5 to 10 miles walked daily. Not to mention, I’m constantly, bending and lifting.

Hiking Green Sands in Hawaii

Hiking Green Sands in Hawaii

Routing is probably the best way to keep a healthy lifestyle, but with travel sometimes this becomes difficult.

When on a road trip, it’s almost impossible to pass up chicken fried steak in the south, the new-to-you IPA in the Rockies or huge T-Bone steaks on the grill in the country. This is life and it’s worth celebrating. Most often we celebrate with food and drink. It’s hard not to say “Screw it! I’m having a burger!”

It’s easy and fun to throw caution to the wind when it comes to eating and drinking. I find that the most exciting culinary experiences happen on the road. You get to try new flavors which initiate new sensations. Who couldn’t get behind that?

While all this is true, it’s also a recipe for disaster. I have been guilty of letting one small freebie turn into days, sometimes weeks on end of freebies. That’s when I get a little cushy, for lack of a better term.

Beer: one of my many vices

Beer: one of my many vices

Life most things in life, all things are good in moderation. While on the road, instead of indulging into my boyfriend’s bag of beef jerky, I’ll grab a granola bar and a yogurt. Let it be known, though, middle-American gas station selections rarely weigh on the side of healthy. I’m more often disgusted and would rather listen to my stomach rumble than eat taquitos and old, dry rotating hot dogs.

Another tried and true tip I use is if I’m full, I stop eating. This becomes increasingly difficult if I’m noshing on a plate of nigiri sushi, an amazing burger and beer combo or a huge, delicious steak. Other vices include kettle cooked potato chips and the occasional soda. What can I say? After all I’m American.

Soda in a bag in Thailand. What's up with that?

Soda in a bag in Thailand. What’s up with that?

Staying fit on the road isn’t always easy, especially with endless opportunity and deliciousness knocking on your door at every turn. But with a little conscious decision making, staying in good, healthy shape can make your adventures last a lifetime!