Travel and Inspirational Blogs

Mussels in Totaranui

#newzealand #totarnui #explore #travel

We planned to camp at Totaranui beach, which is in a remote part of Able Tasman National Park in New Zealand’s South Island. We pulled into Totaranui in the early afternoon. My heart fluttered when I first saw the smooth curve of the golden coast. The water so clear it perfectly reflected the sky. The sand virgin, only our foot prints marred its perfection.  I had seen beautiful beaches in New Zealand, but this particular beach took my breath away. I felt as if I had found a paradise lost, a vision so surreal it felt otherworldly.

#newzealand #travel #explore

#newzealand #abletasman #travel #beach

We camped in the Spring time, so the campground was sparsely populated,  with maybe three or four other campers for the entire bay. We found an idyllic spot for our camper van next to an inlet running down from the mountain to the sea. After we set up camp, we decided to explore the rocks around the west side of the bay. We frolicked like children of nature. As we were clambered over the rocks, we discovered the rocks were generously populated with mussels. Someone decided, we can’t remember who, suggested we harvest some mussels and eat them for dinner. In our tribe of four, we had a few foodies and traveled about with great ingredients so we we knew could throw together a decent meal.

So we hiked around the rocks, timidly at first, scared of getting scrapped and cut, and tried to figure out how to harvest mussels. The trick was twisting and turning the mussels and gently pulling towards you. It was fun to have such a hands on experience with our dinner. After we harvested half a of a bucket full, we took them back to our campsite and began to clean them with a small knife by scraping the barnacles and sea life off of the midnight blue shells. This took a lot longer than I expected – after an hour my hands were frozen numb and I wasn’t sure what I was working up more:  my appetite  or my level of annoyance at the tedious process. Preparing your your food from scratch gives you a new appreciation for your consumption of resources, “take only what you need” has a whole new meaning.

After thoroughly scrubbing the mussels so clean that they gleamed, we steamed them. We transferred them to a chicken stock, white wine, shallot and parsley broth we threw together on a camp stove. For added measure we threw some potatoes in tinfoil and set them to cook on the fire.

The result is almost too difficult to put into words. “Fresh” was redefined for me. The mussels were perfectly tender, slightly sweet and amazingly flavorful. The sea satisfied our palates. The broth was aromatic and paired perfectly with richness of the garlic roasted potatoes. The surrounding of our incredible meal was nature. A restaurant could not replicate the brilliance of the atmosphere that night. The night sky unsullied by pollution and light, blanketed us in its shinning embrace. Birds softly cooed and serenaded us. I felt utterly charmed by the universe. I was full and fulfilled, in mind, body and soul.

Not only was the meal of fresh spring mussels one of the best of my life, the overall experience is something I will never forget. Happiness can truly be found in the simplest things.

#newzealand #cooking #foodie #camping


#newzealand #abletasman #outdoors #femaletraveller #camping

Travel and Inspirational Blogs

Life on Standby


I am one of those extremely fortunate people who have friends that work in the aviation industry, and in their graciousness they have chosen to bestow their flight benefits upon me. With these benefits I get to fly standby, which means if there is an open seat on a flight I get to hop on that flight for extremely cheap, or even free. Sounds pretty amazing right? It is, but like with all things in life, not all is glitz and glam; there are ups and there are downs. As I was waiting at yet another airport, it occurred to me that there are some lessons I have learned flying standby that can be applied to life in general.

Here are a few things I have learned flying standby:

  • Sometimes you are lucky enough to experience life has a baller. Enjoy.every.second. Yeah, that first class ticket to Paris that cost me $300 instead of $9000 was amazing. I sipped champagne, used real cutlery and was so bewitched with my seat that turned into a bed that I didn’t sleep a wink over the Atlantic. One flight had me rethinking my entire life, and by the end of the flight I was ready to marry an old millionaire and carry a tiny dog around in my designer bag. Just kidding; kind of. Sometimes in life, you get lucky and it is easy to ruin the moment by thinking “geez, I wish I could travel like this ALL the time”- well, you can’t, so enjoy it for what it is and don’t let preoccupation with the future ruin the here and the now.
  • To have the humility and patience to deal with life when you are not treated like a VIP baller. Because you are not a paying passenger there are certain airline employees that can feel like they can improve their day by treating you like crap. Be humble. Is it worth fighting the gate agent when she is condescending and downright rude? Nah. You have no idea what people have to go through in their day. Most of the time rudeness has nothing to do with you. If we passed along graciousness and a smile who knows the chain reaction it would have.
  • You are not always going to get a seat. This applies to flights, and musical chairs. What it teaches us is that we do not always get what we want, when we want it. This is a lesson the universe has let me learn repeatedly. Instead of sitting down in the middle of the moving walkway at the Denver airport and kicking your feet in a tantrum, just breathe. You’ll make it (somewhere) eventually, which leads me too….
  • Be flexible. Everyone has plans, for their day, for their life. We hold onto our plans and our schedules with a death grip, any deviation is a cause for panic. If every plan you’ve ever made has come to fruition, we need to talk. I am jealous over here, I mean even Martha Stewart didn’t see jail coming. Flying stand by has really taught me to be flexible. One time I had an epic girls trip planned to Buenos Aires. We had researched, we had visas, we had been practicing our Spanish (by practicing I mean I could order wine in Spanish). We made it to Houston, and long story short, the flights became booked at the very last minute and there was no way we were going to make it. It was 11pm, we were exhausted, stranded, and definitely not making it to Argentina anytime soon. I looked up at the flight status board and turned to my friend and said, “Hey, how do the flights to Belize look?” As it was, no one was flying to Belize that weekend, and by 6am the next morning we all were on a flight to Belize. Was it Argentina? No. I didn’t drink wonderful wine from Mendoza, but I was able to swim with sharks on the second largest barrier reef in the world, and my Spanish? Well, I had “Uno mas cervas por favor” down. You just never know when planning for something the universe is really preparing you for something even better.
  • The view from above. When slogging through life’s crap, I have to tell myself that my perspective in that moment may not be the entire picture. I was recently taking off from the airport in my hometown, and as we started climbing in altitude we flew over a lake that I spent many summers at. In that lake, there is a rock formation that you can swim to. The rock was a popular destination to cliff dive from or hike around and find secluded tanning place. Often times the rock seemed to be a much further swim than it looked from the shore. Halfway through the swim you could get tired and cold, and making it to that rock seemed to be so much of an effort. Sometimes in the moment, it seemed hopeless – what was it worth to make it to that stupid rock anyway? Well as I flew over the lake, I realized not only how small the distance from the shore to the rock was, but how small the entire lake was. It is all about your perspective, and time usually changes our perspective. Do not get bogged down by weariness in the moment. And that rock? Yeah, some of the best memories I have of those endless teenage summers are of are swimming to that rock and finding a hidden place and tanning topless with my girlfriends- giggling in the scandal of it all. I’ll never forget that.