Weedon Island

Weedon Island

My life has been infused with tons of adventure and nature from living so close to the Tampa Bay. For as long as I can remember, my parents would take my younger brother and I out to the Weedon Island Preserve that has been around for thousands of years, in order to experience aquatic and onshore ecosystems. Many people walk the trails, boardwalks, and fishing pier to learn more about this fascinating preserve. It never ceased to amaze me how the city of Tampa would protect the wide range of diverse animals and natural resources located in this area. As a family we would take jet skis out along the banks of the island or paddle board through them to experience close encounters with numerous wild life.

Several years have gone by and I still constantly come to this place spending great weekends with friends that love adventure as much as me. The fishing is incredible throughout the protected mangroves. There is an abundance of fish, the most popular ones in this area tend to be Snook, Red, and Trout. It is so peaceful outdoors on the water, with the Florida sun giving off a strong heat. My Ranch Bucket gives me the perfect shade whenever I am on the boat or at the beach with my friends. Not only does it look great, but the fit feels perfect especially with any type of movement. The only problem was that all my guy friends were stealing it from me saying how good they looked in it…told them to get their own!

That same day we caught about six Trout and four nice sized Snooks. Both fish are great to eat but we decided to let them go back to their aquatic ecosystems to live another day (I feel guilty sometimes because I love animals so much). The sport of fishing has really become a hobby of mine, because of the exhilarating game that is combined with patience and fight on the water. Weedon Island Preserve gives this feeling to those who love to fish, which is why the location gives off a strong attraction. I wish everyone could see this beautiful environment to remind them the damages of air and water pollution.

I cannot wait to come back during my spring break and spend all my time on the water. Now I am back at University of Central Florida located in Orlando, so it is time for me to explore this busy city. So keep up to date with me!

New year, same world so take care of it!

~ Explore ~

Devin

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Michigan the Upper Peninsula

Michigan the Upper Peninsula

Had the pleasure of going up to Michigan for New Years Eve this year. It was about a six-hour drive from where I have been staying in Chicago. The six hours were surprisingly not dreadful. I slept the majority of the time which definitely made the hours go by a little faster. I have been spending a lot of time in cars and planes recently, and especially in the last year, so honestly six hours seemed like a piece of cake.

We drove past Lake Superior, which was frozen solid with many people out ice fishing on it. Ice shantys were everywhere which was surprising this early in the winter season. There was lots and lots of snow, and if I remember correctly I think it snowed the whole entire time we were there. We stayed in a beautiful little cabin that was very isolated from the rest of the world, at least it felt that way. No internet, cozy, warm inside, but carrying with it that extremely wintery feeling that comes with Cabins.  It was one of those places right off the page of a story book.

I got to go snowmobiling for the first time which I really enjoyed. The only downside was that there were certain trails that had yet to be groomed so they were super bumpy which hurt my neck. Unfortunately, before our trip I had a little accident and injured my neck and back. I fell down a flight of stairs the next day which definitely made the injury worse, so the bumpy parts took a toll on me in that way, but when we were smooth sailing I really had fun. After stopping for lunch at a lodge in Shingleton, Michigan we decided to make our way back to the cabin on the snowmobiles, this is where things took a turn.

The belt on the snowmobile broke! Anyone who knows me knows that the thing I hate most in this world is being cold. So being stranded for an hour in the cold was not my favorite moment, but I napped in the snow (I know counterproductive) while everyone else built a snowman.

We were finally able to get home and relax where we spent the night playing cards and watching movies while ringing in the new year – cabin style!

All in all a very calm but warm and fuzzy new year!

Let’s make this new year a great Ranch Bucket style one!

XX

Gabi

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Small World

Small World

It is crazy how it took me traveling all the way across the world to learn that the world is actually a small place. Yes, I have always understood that the earth is just a speck in the workings of the entire universe. This makes me basically non-existent, but when it comes to our tiny little speck it felt pretty big growing up. There are seven billion people on the planet, and this number is fluid and constantly growing. There are 195 countries on the earth, and all of them possess different cultures. There are five different oceans, and I have only dipped my toes into three of them, but moving to Australia made me realize the world is not actually quite as expansive as my young mind once thought.

I moved half way across the world to live with girls from my home state. Yes, this is true, I moved to Australia only to move in with two east coast girls and two girls from Evergreen, Colorado. Evergreen is an hour and thirty-minute drive away from where I grew up, but a fourteen-hour flight from where we live in Australia. I now have three girls I have met and become close with in Australia that attend the University of Colorado in Boulder. It has lead us to connect over mutual friends and childhood experiences. I will get to keep these forever friends close to my heart and close in vicinity. I got to have little piece of home away from home and I honestly could not be more thankful.

I have a sorority sister that has recently moved to Australia. It was wild to me how this sisterhood had brought me the ability to travel the world and still know there was always going to be someone close by to have my back, no matter where in the world I was residing. That was a feeling that did not parallel anything I have yet to experience.  Along the line of my sorority, even one of my roommates happens to be a sister of mine who attends Boulder. I have now even been blessed with the opportunity to expand my sisterhood through my study abroad journey.

I have met so many individuals from the United States. States all over, states I now cannot wait to visit. I have even made one friend, from Nevada and she knew people that went to my college in Arizona. The world continues to grow smaller and smaller to me.

Coming to Australia I expected a very different educational environment. The most intriguing thing I did not see coming is that one of my professors was American. Not only was he American, but he also formerly taught at my rival school… the scumdevils… sorry Sun Devils back home in Arizona. What are the odds of that out of the four classes I choose to attend during my trimester abroad that would happen.

Along the way we met people from the same state as us, even the same city sometime. That is something I could not have imagined when my plane took off for this adventure. I have had a lot of favorite things about this experience, but my very favorite has to be what I am taking away with me, a whole new set of people who have substantially made a huge difference in my life. Thank you guys, and I love you guys.

Kate, Mollie, Jen, Carroll, Lauza, you have my heart.

Also, big thanks to Veronica for always being down to adventure or for a photo-shoot for my beloved Ranch Bucket! I am so glad to have you joining our team and I am so lucky that the Gold Coast brought me you!

Xx

Gabi

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Thanksgiving in the South

Thanksgiving in the South

I have a strong love for the south. My entire family, besides my parents, reside in the south ranging from Texas to Florida. This year I had the pleasure of spending the Thanksgiving holiday with family in Georgia! My Aunt and Uncle live in a small town outside of Atlanta called Roswell, Georgia and I am absolutely head over heels in love with it. It was about a four-hour direct flight from Phoenix, and an hour train ride into Roswell. The train I took goes from the airport and makes multiple stops all over the city and suburbs of Atlanta. It is called MARTA, and it is soooo helpful especially during the holiday season when the airport is  congested. Australia made me grow to love public transportation and since I have yet to experience a lot of it yet in the United States this was a nice change.

Atlanta in the fall is gorgeous. Unlike Colorado, where I was about a month ago, it is still full of vibrant colors adorning the tree branches, mild temperatures, and sunny skies. For Colorado the leaves had all fallen by mid-October, so you could say I was pleasantly surprised by this difference. I loved that I got to experience the hustle and bustle of the city while also being able to escape to the suburbs in Roswell. It made it feel very holiday like, but not to the point where it was being thrown in my face.

Besides the normal Thanksgiving eating and football watching, we had a couple of other fun activities we did while there for the week. We went down to Canton Street, which has to be my favorite place in Georgia because I am a huge shopper and I love the vibe of the area. Canton Street is essential a street full of restaurants and small businesses. It’s got an old timey feel that I love while being very authentic and unique. I shopped at a different couple places that all had great small gifts for Christmas and my mom went crazy for all of her work friends there. They were all moderately priced and all high-quality gifts down on Canton Street.

 

We also went to the Georgia State and Georgia Tech football game. My cousin is a senior at Georgia Tech on the football team and I have yet to have to opportunity to watch him, so this was an incredible treat to get to watch his team play. I got to watch his final home game and really be a part of the whole friends and family cheering on a loved one experience.

Besides those two activities and a lot of relaxation, we went to the local movie theater and saw Wonder which was such a cute and uplifting family movie.

Now on to the good stuff… food! We are a pretty ordinary family when it comes to our Thanksgiving food, but I will let you in on what we had this year that was a little bit different. Before we had Thanksgiving dinner we had Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It was absolutely delicious, and not too filling that it ruins your dinner. We had it around three in the afternoon and our dinner at six.

Our nontraditional dessert was Oreo Balls. I spent the entire weekend eating these bad boys like popcorn, and they are so easy to make. I will include some good recipes below for both, and my favorite pie recipes.

It was a great holiday with friends and family and I absolutely loved wandering around the streets of Atlanta in my Ranch Bucket, don’t you worry Georgia I will be back!

Xx

Gabi

Oreo Balls

Pumpkin Pie

Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Bondi Beach Sydney Review

Bondi Beach Sydney Review

Sydney was my all-time favorite place to visit in Australia, and I have a multitude of stories and places to share from there. I was afraid it was going to be just like any other city and nothing unique, but oh was I very wrong. We stayed in Bondi Beach, which is world renowned and absolutely incredible. I went with five of my girlfriends and we stayed in a hostel this time instead of an airb&b.

The hostel we stayed in is called Bondi Backpackers. They were reasonably priced for being a hostel, and it was clean (all important things to me). They have private rooms for six, so lucky us we all got to be together. They offer a lot of different perks that you can participate in as well. These include sunrise yoga, kickboxing, and different meal opportunities. They also rent out towels and have included Wifi, which most hostels do not so this made the stay more enjoyable as well. It was a great place to stay and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to stay in Bondi where it is less busy and closer to the beach instead of the hustle and bustle of the city.

If you do decide to stay in Bondi or even take a trip down there, I highly suggest taking a casual stroll down the street in the morning to Parisi Juice Bar. It is not even a five-minute walk and they have the best fresh pressed juices I have ever had. They also had a bagel shop around the corner, and if you are American and have been to Australia, you know how rare it is to find bagels in Australia, especially good ones.

The Iceberg Pool is an iconic Instagram spot… but here is a little secret, it’s overrated. It is a really small pool and only makes for good picture opportunities during high tide when the water is splashing up into the pool. Don’t get me wrong it is beautiful, but it is hard to find a time to get a good picture with high tide and it not being super crowded. If you are going for that picture-perfect Instagram then give it your best, but otherwise a casual stroll by it will do just fine and will save you a lot of time and energy.

Next there is the Bondi Beach Walk. The walk is a great exercise and should be alright for any age level to participate. It is kind of a long walk so definitely wear comfy shoes, but it is absolutely breathtaking and has many stopping points to check out along the way. Many people run the path and there are dogs all over, which I honestly did not see many of during my Australia travels. All of the dogs were a breath of fresh air. There are great beaches to stop at, monument marks, and great picture opportunities. The only part I did not like is the large portion that is a walk through a cemetery, purely because cemeteries give me the creeps. Besides that, this is a must do so carve out a good portion of the day to do so.

My final suggestion for my Bondi Beach goers, do your research on your food places. Long story short, with my groups lack of research we ended up in some pretty intriguing places and not necessarily intriguing in a good way. Boy did it make for some funny stories though!

Xx

Gabi

Hostel

Juice Bar

Some Pictures from the Trip! Iceberg Pool, Bondi Beach Walk, Parisi Juice Bar, and explored parts of Bondi!

 

 

My Weekend Call To Action

My Weekend Call To Action

I think one of the most difficult things in the world sometimes is to be the first to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I have yet to figure out what is so difficult about this task, but it is undeniably a challenge sometimes. As human beings we are made to communicate and connect with one another, but yet, many of us find it so daunting to ask strangers simple questions. Social media can sometimes be a road block for this as well. It enables us to hide behind a screen, say more with less emotion behind it, and takes away the key social interaction.

Traveling on my own has done many things for me, but one of the greatest was forcing me to self-advocate since no one else was present to do so for me. The more I HAD to ask strangers questions for my own survival, the easier it got to just talk to strangers. Like all things, practice makes perfect. So, as we all head into our weekend adventures I want to challenge y’all to ask a stranger about their day. Why, well because I think it is time to bring back some good ole’ social interaction.

I promise you won’t regret trying it. Everyone has a story, and everyone has something interesting to say. When you are out relaxing on the beach this weekend, or climbing that beautiful Colorado fourteener, find someone new to meet. Sometimes targeting the people we so often peg as “off the beaten path” or the quietest people have the most incredible stories or the most intriguing secret lives they are leading.

Be open to listening to everyone, if you are going to ask a stranger about their day, care about the answers you are going to receive. If you do this, you not only will make someone’s day, but you will leave the conversation feeling like a better person than who you were when you entered into the day.

My last request… Message me about your weekend adventure and the new friend you make. Include a picture of you in your Ranch Bucket Hat and you might have a chance to be featured on our blog or on our instagram! Happy adventuring!

Xx

Gabi

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Review: Bali Indonesia

Review: Bali Indonesia

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” (St. Augustine).  Bali was a great edition to my list of travel destinations for this year. Bali is only a six-hour flight from my home in Gold Coast, Australia. Although not a walk in the park flight, it is a whole lot better than trying to fly from back home in the United States and cheaper. That first step off the plane was hot, humid, and sticky. My roommates and I went in late September and the weather was not unbearable but quite tolerable. My suggestion in the future would be to visit Bali slightly earlier than this, such as in late August or early September for the best beach day weather.

Bali was a new step in life for me being my first visit to an Asian country. There were some challenges I faced my first time in this location which was to be expected. There was of course a language barrier. I know absolutely zero Balinese. I suggest before visiting you make an effort to learn some simple words such as yes, no, and thank you. They are always useful and just like any other nation, the Balinese people are delighted when even an attempt is made at communication. The next challenge was haggling, especially with taxi drivers. Everyone is attempting to rip you off when it comes to taxis. I suggest trying to only use Bluebird taxi service or prearranged drivers. It makes travel plans easier in the long run and you feel a lot safer too. The airport possessed the worst hagglers of all, and once you push past that part the rest is smooth sailing. On our trip we faced some natural problems, specifically Bali’s iconic Mount Agung. While we were in Bali, Mount Agung was on a high-level alert for eruption. Although my time ran smoothly, this did cause problems with locations I longed to visit and caused us to leave a day early out of fear of canceled or delayed flights due to ash concerns. The difficult thing about volcanoes is that there is no way to actually predict when an eruption is going to occur. Three weeks later I am writing this, and Mount Agung is still steaming with no eruption in sight.

Bali is one of the more touristy Asian countries. This is a good thing in my opinion for people having their first Asian country experience, making the experience a little less culturally shocking. Asia is so different than other parts of the world and Bali is a good transition in preparation to travel to less touristy places within the continent.

My suggestions on what to do and where to stay are as follow: We stayed at an Airbnb in the middle of Seminyak. Seminyak was a great location close to beaches and in the heart of the city. Airbnb’s are so cheap in Bali – we stayed at a lovely one called Villa Baci. The owner is Australian and she was more than accommodating. The place felt like a private, five-star resort that possessed its own pool, a kitchen, and three bedrooms with king beds. Get as many massages as you can! We often had them come to the villa at the end of the day which was lovely to do from home. These ranged in price from $10-20 which in my mind is unreal! Shop until you drop. There are so many unique things and places to shop for such a good price. Another warning I have is that some of us in the group did get sick. Bali belly is common, and although we do not know if that is what we had, we assume whatever bug we caught was from non-imported ice or non-filtered water. Do not hesitate to ask everywhere you eat about these issues or I promise you will regret it.

I think Bali was my favorite trip to date. It was the most fun due to the great people I was with, my best friends, and the Balinese are really such kind and compassionate people. They want your business, they want to help you, and they love learning about you and answering any of your questions. A week is plenty of time for people who are just wishing to shop, eat, and hit the beach resorts.  If you desire to do more you might want to extend for a little longer than a week since this country has so much to offer.

XX

Gabi