[French sahn–frwa] noun coolness of mind; calmness; composure: An hour ago, I applied to be one of Backpacker Magazine’s National Park Scouts. I’d travel around for a year to find adventure, test out new gear, meet folks visiting the parks, and then write about it. I was allotted 100 words to convince the hiring team that I’m their gal, thatContinue reading “sang-froid.”

Must see, must read, must sip list: hikes, bookstores, and coffee shops in Estes Park, CO

Estes Park, CO houses all you could ever want and you might start looking for real estate. Estes (pronounced “Est-is”, not “Est-ees”) has the rockiest mountains, Colorado’s largest collection of whiskey, the strongest coffee, and the friendliest folks (though I’m here in April and not during the summer tourist overload; the friendliness might decrease by July). TheContinue reading “Must see, must read, must sip list: hikes, bookstores, and coffee shops in Estes Park, CO”

Three months traveling with help exchange vs. one week in Vail

On my drive from Moab, UT to Estes Park, CO, I saw a sign for Vail. I had seen photos of this town and had heard about the famous people who frequent it; I almost expected “Vail” to be written in diamonds on the road sign. I bipped my blinker and decided to use aContinue reading “Three months traveling with help exchange vs. one week in Vail”


[oh-ol–uh-jee] noun the branch of ornithology that studies birds’ eggs. I do not know an oologist. picks the word of the day, not me. But I do now know a geologist. He’s a friend of my cousin’s and we went on a hike to Bridal Veil Falls together yesterday. Some people truly enhance a hike and he was one of thoseContinue reading “oology.”


[pan–uh-plee] noun a wide-ranging and impressive array or display. [more at] Estes Park, Colorado is picture perfect. The charming downtown full of cabin-like looking coffee, book, and ice cream shops ends and the same road runs into the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. The aptly named Rocky Mountains serve as the backdrop to every drive, walk, and adventure theContinue reading “panoply.”


[pep-er-uhp-er] noun, Informal. something, as a food, beverage, or pill, that provides a quick but temporary period of energy and alertness. something added to food to relieve blandness. an experience that increases enthusiasm or zeal, as a pep talk. Sangria Kia was $511 to fix, even though Jeff at Firestone said, “We couldn’t find a thing wrong with it.” She needed two new tires and an oil change anyway, but the diagnostic codes came back blank. “Strange, very strange,” Jeff said over and over as he handed meContinue reading “pepper-upper.”


[nak-erd] adjective, British Slang. exhausted; very tired: It’s been a jammed pack week full of driving through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Utah, and Colorado. Many full days of ooh-ing and ahh-ing through snow covered mountain tops and Narnia-like forests and Mars-like deserts. Big skies and bright stars. Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Hiking and smiling and moreContinue reading “knackered.”


[bee-mish] adjective bright, cheerful, and optimistic. Oregonian hosts have been over the top in, homemade waffles, Americanos, a handmade satchel gift, curry dishes, enriching conversation, snacks to go, and so many hiking suggestions kind of lovely. Oregon has made me positively beamish. I’m now in Bend, staying with a friend of a friend whom I had never met.Continue reading “beamish.”


[mag-nil–uh-kwuh nt] adjective speaking or expressed in a lofty or grandiose style; pompous; bombastic; boastful. I’m in Corvallis, OR with two of the most extraordinary people I know. They had to work today and gave me a piece of paper full of bookstore and coffee house recommendations. It’s been a wonderful day and I’m looking forward to our brewery visit this evening. So many beverages, books,Continue reading “magniloquent.”