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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Living in A World All About the “Picture”

Living in A World All About the “Picture”

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I am an active participant in technology and the world of social networking, and because of that I have encountered many people in life who tell me to “put the camera down and enjoy something”. For the people who have similar experiences as myself, here is what I suggest you try saying to them next time.

Just because I want to have that perfect Instagram picture does not mean that the moment I am in right now is any less important to me than it is to you.

Just because I am on the beach facetiming a faraway friend does not mean I still do not hear the waves, smell the salt, and have my feet all dug up in the sand.

Just because I am texting my boyfriend while I am sitting in a café halfway across the world does not mean I am attempting to isolate myself.

It is possible to take everything in around you while still having a camera ready to go in your pocket. No one should have to apologize for wanting to snap a photo during a really beautiful moment. We should not have to apologize for picking up the phone to call our mom when something insanely amazing happens. There should not be an apology for blogging about a crazy encounter that just occurred. Just because we want to share the journey that we are all on via social media does not mean that we lack the comprehension of the value in the experience we are having. Who would not want a photo to remember that great moment for just a little longer than your memory can hold. Technology has made this huge world smaller and more attainable for everyone.

I live for the moments when I get to snap a picture in my Ranch Bucket hat on top of the mountain I just climbed in Colorado. Or the beaches I get to photograph in the land down under of Australia. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience and share so many things, so what if I want to take a picture of it. For all of the picture haters, you will be seeing A LOT more of my pictures, from more traveling, to more pictures just lounging at home in my Ranch Bucket and I hope to see some of yours in the New Year to come.

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

Ranch Bucket Hats

Maximizing the Faith

Maximizing the Faith

Lately I have been focusing on maximizing my faith. My faith in myself, and my faith in the ability to do all of this traveling on my own. Traveling takes a lot of faith. The amount is actually unfathomable. It is by sheer willpower and desire that we blindly stumble into the unknown future on our own. We leave behind the things we know and just leap, venturing into the world. We must trust we will be safe and okay throughout our travels. No one goes into a trip thinking, I may get sick, I may get lost, what happens if I get hurt. Somehow, we just blindly choose to go without thinking of those things, numb to all the terrible evils of the world and bad possibilities that could be lurking around the corner.

We have to trust we will always have our life essentials. Food, water, a place to stay, so imperative yet we leave with a little bit of money in our pockets and no thought about those essentials.

With little regard, we trust strangers. We do not know who these people are. They could be a kind soul offering assistance with no desire for reward, or they can be manipulative beings, taking advantage of this trust that traveling bestows upon them.

We experience new cultures. Sharing in something our minds and our bodies are not used to, and only the bravest of us fully submerge in the novelty of it all.

Simply, in my opinion, there is nothing that requires more faith than traveling. It can change your life, it can be your worst experience or your best, but I guarantee you will learn from it. Traveling maximizes every aspect of our survival skills and brings out the best and worst in our personalities. Our true being. I am a big reader, and a good friend of mine recommended a book called The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. I really resonate with a portion of the book that talks about how we do not truly know ourselves until we tell our inner voice and our past experiences to frankly, shut up. Once we learn how to do this we get to know who we really are. I feel that a lot of time, travel can help us with this. When thrusted into a new environment, we throw away that inner voice and past experiences because they cannot help us in something we have never known before. It is just you and the new experience, and you get to live it as yourself with no person from the past blocking you and no outlook to rely on. You get to remain present in the moment. Travel in life to be lost, and to find yourself. This is the best way to test how strong your faith is.

 

Xx

Gabi

 

The Untethered Soul

Things I Have Learned in Australia

Always say yes, whether that be to a new experience, a trip, an event, or a party, always say yes. Who knows when the opportunity will knock again and do you really want to miss that opportunity to go somewhere, see something, meet someone all just because you decided Netflix and your bed were the better option that day? Money comes and goes, experiences do not.

Be friendly, this should be a given, you never know who you are meeting but this is especially important when in a foreign country. Get to know the people of the area, and be genuine with them. Some of the best people I have met I would have never come across if I had not gone up and just introduced myself. Go for it. When you make friends with the locals you gain new opportunities and knowledge which is priceless. (Shout-out to my dear friend Travis and his endless help and knowledge about my Whit Sundays trip. Also, the countless rides back from the grocery store when I did not want to do that dreaded walk.)

Choose travel over the party. If given the chance to get away for the weekend to a new place compared to going to the latest club, this should be an easy call, choose travel. There are clubs and bars and parties in every place you will go in life, but there is not a new culture or scenery within your usual Thursday night club.

Don’t forget to let loose. You still need to let loose every now and then. Dance your little heart out at that club, get up and sing karaoke, run on the beach until you are out of breath. You need to have fun and let go of the travel agenda every so often or traveling becomes a chore or a race to see how much you can see, and let’s face it, races are no fun.

Always go to the beach. See every coastline, every ocean, every shore, it will calm your soul and bring you answers in your life you did not even know you were looking for.

People will make fun of you for being American. Take it lightly and do not get to worked up about it, laugh along with them even if it bothers you. No country is perfect and although they are poking fun at you, I am sure there is something you could tease them about with their country. Be the bigger person and let it go.

America is not the end all be all. The world does not revolve around you because you are an American. So do not act like it does. Prove the dang stereotype wrong and do not subject yourself to the cliché American tourist appearance.

Try the interesting food places, by which I mean the places that are not chain restaurants and not that Instagram brunch place you found on the discover page. The best thing I have eaten here in Australia is from a little Moroccan food stand. I am now known as a regular of at least once a week, and all I get is dang cheese fries and a hot dog. I have never been so satisfied. I can only suggest you do not do this in third world countries as a safety precaution.

You don’t miss home, you miss the people. I do not miss 100-degree weather, I do not miss the desert, I do not miss the American lifestyle or the grocery store I used to shop at. I miss my mom when I get sick or when I am not sure how long to cook the chicken for. I miss my dad when it is the middle of the day in my country and midnight back home and I want to ask him a philosophical question. I miss my boyfriend when I am looking at the prettiest sunsets in the world, or doing my next wild adventure and all I want is his hand to hold so he can feel the excitement radiating off my body. I miss my friends when I see them having fun back home without me, realizing no one elses life paused when I took off. You don’t miss where you come from you miss who you came from.

Love the opportunity and the life you have been given. If you are traveling, whether it close to home or far far away, remember you are fortunate, you are blessed, and never forget to appreciate that.