Partying in Ea (Ea, Pais Vasco, Spain)

Of all the places I’ve stayed, Basque Country definitely takes the cake for ‘craziest’. It seems like each day there’s a new fiesta. The only thing I found that they love more than partying, was the alcohol they brought to the parties. The popular drink? Kalimotxo, 50/50 Coca-Cola and cheap euro wine.

In 2012, there was a party in the village I was staying in, so I decided to go hang out with some of the friends I made. The stage was set up in the center of town in the frontennis court and everyone was dancing around. It was so funny to hear ska being played live. This is what they listen to. There were many nights spent running around listening to this style of music.

I loved the people. Everyone was so friendly and tried to get me to dance. Even without speaking English well, they dragged me around and showed me Basque Culture. Which, to be honest, seemed to consist of endless laughing and relaxing with one another. The teenagers I hung out were always laughing and telling jokes. I remember that more than anything else.

The parties lasted through entire nights and usually didn’t end until the people dispersed. Entire villages would swell with massive amounts of people, then drain out in the morning. It was a lot of fun to experience a different culture that we don’t have here in the United States. The Basque people are fantastic at throwing parties!

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Exploring Bald Rock (Cleveland, SC)

Immediately upon arriving at Bald Rock, you’re faced with a bunch of cars pulled over at a random bend in the road. If you don’t have the location programmed into your GPS, you’ll probably miss it. The night Merci, Jasmine, and I visited, there were a few cars parked and a vendor selling boiled peanuts. That’s typical South Carolina.

After hopping out of our vehicles, we were confronted with a spray painted sign telling us the rules of the park. Half way down the list, one rule read “Do not deface the rock”. As you’ll see in the images below, no one reads the rules.

Bald Rock is famous for its innocent graffiti. Although some of the work is profane, most of it feels like its been done by local kids. One of the first writings I saw said “Prom?”. Looking around the massive rock, you can see many similar scribblings.

Bald Rock really is massive. There’s no hiking required for the fantastic views either. As soon as you arrive, you can step out and see for miles. On South Carolina’s DNR page, they boast that the rock is 165 acres. What’s amazing is how much of it is covered in graffiti. When you walk towards the rock’s drop off, you can see how far Bald Rock expands.

Unfortunately, we arrived after hiking Table Rock and didn’t explore the area as much as I would have liked to. There was a small waterfall next to the entrance and if you walked down the rock, there were plenty of dips and bends to run around. Overall, a very picture-esque location that requires little effort to get.

Here are a few pictures from the trip:

 

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I found a clean spot!

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As we arrived back to Merci’s truck, we saw that a huge tree fell across the road. We were lucky that it didn’t fall on her car. Traffic in the area slowed as everyone drove around the tree. It was interesting that it happened during the short 30 minutes we explored the area.

Anyways, if you want to check out the other social media stuff, here are the links:

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Exploring Palmetto Islands County Park (Mt Pleasant, SC)

One of the closest parks to where I live is Palmetto Islands. Truth be told, the park is paved and busy but it’s a nice place to get away in the morning. The main path is around two miles long with various unpaved trails to walk on along side the path.

Somewhere hidden in Palmetto Islands is a water park and a small kayak/canoe boat launch. You can rent either of them out and go out on the water. Maybe one morning I’ll go chase alligators and dolphins.

If you’re ever in the area and looking for a quick walk outdoors, Palmetto Islands is worth checking out. The entry fee is 1$/person and they have about an hour’s worth of exploration.

Here are a few pictures I took:

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Observation Tower
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View from Observation Tower

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The boardwalk without the boards

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Crabs scurried everywhere around this boardwalk!

Here’s the social media junk and stuff:

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Exploring Edisto Island State Park (Edisto Island, SC)

Ever since getting the news that I’ll be moving to Hawaii this summer, I’ve been trying to explore South Carolina as much as possible. One of the ways that I’ve done this is by reading Falcon’s hiking guide on South Carolina. The book has 60 trails through the entire state and includes maps and other helpful information.

While trying to find a nearby hiking trail, I ran across Edisto Island. It’s about an hour south from where I live, which is a relatively short distance. There are very few trails in lowcountry South Carolina. If you want to see spectacular sights, you have to drive about 4 hours upstate.

Unfortunately, the route is mostly back roads. You begin on a freeway, then move onto a highway, then onto a tiny one-lane road with 60 mph speed limits. As you near the island, maw and paw restaurants and vegetable markets start popping up. Soon afterwards the one-lane road eventually opens up to a scenic byway.

Once on the island, beach houses litter the main road and a small entrance to the state park can be found. The fee was about $5 for my car and includes parking at the beach and at the campgrounds. I arrived late in the day, so I immediately headed for the trails at the campgrounds.

Overall the park features around 3 miles of trails. Many of which include paths deviating from the main trail and lead off into different sections of the forest. I was drawn to the easternmost trail which had the most boardwalks. Here are some images from the trip:

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The guidebook emphasized that Edisto Island is covered in mosquitoes and ticks. I prepared by soaking myself in deet but I didn’t encounter either of them. Most of the trail borders marshland, which makes the trail more scenic but in the summer months, I could imagine swarms of mosquitoes rising out of the water.

If you go, I would recommend bringing a swimsuit for the beach and tennis shoes for the hike. The trail has relatively low elevation gains and is well made. If you go earlier in the day, there is a nature center that you could visit.

Overall, Edisto Island is worth visiting because the trails are family friendly, the views are nice, and there’s versatility while you’re hiking because you can make your trek longer or shorter by changing routes. Even the beach would make a great stop after a few hours of exploration. If you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend visit the island.

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Hiking Table Rock (Pickens, SC)

Table Rock is the first major trail that I hiked in South Carolina. It’s located in the the north westernmost part of the state and is about a 4 hour drive from where I live. The trail is highly rated in my guidebook (Falcon’s Hiking South Carolina) and on National Geographic’s co-branded website AllTrails.com.

My friends Merci and Jasmine wanted to explore the area, so one weekend we decided to drive up to Greenville. We stayed overnight and arrived at Table Rock’s ranger station around 11 in the morning. Parking was only a few dollars and the ranger area is well-developed.

Before we started our trek upwards, we signed in and had our picture taken:

Immediately after signing in, there were a few small waterfalls to climb around. This area was surrounded by a wooden patio. It was perfect for beginning and ending our hike.

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After the falls, the trail immediately started gaining elevation. My friend’s dog Max was eager to be out and dragged us upward at a rapid pace. He was a very dedicated member of our group. As you see, the boulders were huge:

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Occasionally, there were breaks in the trees and you could see out for miles. The day we hiked was overcast and about 75 degrees. Perfect for hiking and keeping cool.

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Max brought whomever was handling his leash into warpdrive. Upon grabbing him, my pace increased at least 500 mph.

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The trail was well put together and heavily traveled. We passed a couple dozen hikers on our way up. Some of the more difficult terrain involved us climbing on our hands and knees. There were a few places we had to watch our footing to avoid sliding down the rock faces. It was interesting trying to get through these spots with a dog. Sometimes Max would climb half way up a rock and decide that he wanted to go back down. This was interesting for whomever was holding his leash.

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When I look at this picture, I head Max saying “Are you done resting yet humans? Jeez, we’ve still got a long way to go!”.

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Not only was the trail fun to hike, there was always stuff around us to climb and explore.IMG_0888

Max still isn’t tired. But he does look a little content.

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As we got closer to the peak, there were more openings. This part was named “Governor’s Rock”. The grass / brush the grew through the rock was really comfortable. On a hot day, I would have been happy to stop and relax at this spot.

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Alas, the trail called and Max wanted to move on.

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We reached the Table Rock Summit around 1 in the afternoon. Which meant that it took around 3 hours to climb. When we reach the marker, we stopped and asked another hiker to take our picture:

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After the sign, the trees opened up and the expansiveness of where we were became apparent. We could see miles ahead. For someone who grew up on flat land, this was amazing.

IMG_0959IMG_0966We reached the end of the line when we ran into a pile of other hikers. Everyone was laying around enjoying the view. The sun was blocked by the clouds and the air was perfect. Some of the other hikers threw hammocks on the trees and others ate lunch. We arrived and relaxed. Here’s a picture of Merci and Max enjoying the summit:

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We spent some time climbing around the rocks. There wasn’t a lot of room but we explored the area as much as we could. Here’s a few more pictures of the view.

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The hike down was much more rapid. Overall, the trip was around 4 hours and about 7 miles long. When we reached the trailhead, we enjoyed the waterfall again:

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This was my first major hike in South Carolina and I’d repeat it in a heartbeat. The views were amazing, the trail was well-built, and the experience was awesome. Going with a group of friends made the trek more exciting and I enjoyed going back through the pictures. If you liked this trip and you want to see more, there’s links below. I just started a Snapchat, so if you want, add me @idreamtowakeup. I’m new but I’m posting a lot. Send a snap and say hi!

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Biking Elm Creek (Maple Grove, MN)

Instead of kayaking today, my father and I decided to go biking. Elm Creek is a local park where we used to go when I was young. The trails are paved and perfect for riding. By the end of our trip, we racked on 14.7 miles! It rained briefly but stayed dry for most of the ride. If you’re ever in the area with family, check out the trails. In the winter, there’s a huge snow-tubing hill! In the summer, you can frisbee golf on the southeast part of the trail.

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Kayaking the Rum River (Anoka, MN)

As far back as I can remember, my family has kayaked. We’ve gone down the Mississippi river, through locks and dams, chains of lakes, and countless creeks. It’s become a tradition to get out on the water as much as we can. Naturally, when I came home to visit this week, we decided to go to one of our common kayak routes on the Rum River.

Spring just began in Minnesota and this week was filled with 70 degree weather. The trees are still bare and the grass looks as though it’s nervous to start growing again – just incase there’s a mid-April blizzard. Although the breezes are chilly, the air is crisp and perfect to be outside in.

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It’s been over a year since I last visited. Everything feels a little different. There aren’t as many oak trees where I live in South Carolina. It’s odd to be surrounded by them again. The Minnesotan accent has become easy to hear. I notice it in everyone I talk to. Even being around family feels unusual.

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Nonetheless, we gather our kayaks and bring them to the shore. The Rum River park in Anoka County is great because the river loops around the park. You can put your boats in at one launch, then kayak an hour down the river, and finish almost where you started.

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This was Nelly’s first kayaking adventure!

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It felt good to be out on the water again. Sounds disappear and you can almost feel the stillness around you. Nature brings about a different kind of therapy.

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Nelly seemed to enjoy the scenery. She just stuck her head out of Jamie’s kayak and looked around. Occasionally I’d kayak over and bump her boat to see if I could get her to jump out into the water.

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There were turtles laying out on the rocks and as we passed, they jumped off and left ripples in the water. The sun was hidden behind clouds, so I don’t know why the turtles were out.

Here’s a few more images from the trip:

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If you would like to find more information on Rum River or Anoka County Parks, head on over to their website!