7 Travel Experiences For When You Are Looking for an Adventure!
I am a super visual person: as soon as I see a picture of a destination that sparks my interest, I become OBSESSED with it. I immediately have to find out WHERE it is, HOW to get there, and finally, add the city to my Weather app because it makes me feel one step closer (does anyone else keep track of their wish-list-places on their Weather app? No? just me? OK).
1. Hike to Dream Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park, Colorado)
Pictures do not do the snowy scenery and frozen lake justice! We went at the beginning of April and the snow on the trail was so inviting for snowball fights–it seemed only a few feet high, but it made this easy hike more of an moderate hike due to some slick areas.
The trail to Dream Lake is super well-maintained. Since we went when there was still snow on the ground, some softer patches would make our legs sink in all the way to our thighs! Being unfamiliar with snow, the first time our legs sank in, we laughed so hard, our tummies hurt. Also, for added adventure (not recommended), wear sneakers instead of snow boots, which we inadvertently did since we were not expecting that much snow–We ended up with damp leggings and have NO REGRETS AT ALL.
- Distance: 2.2 miles (out and back)
- Elevation Gain: 452 ft.
- Trailhead Name: Bear Lake Trailhead in Glacier Gorge.
- Closest Park Entrance to Trailhead: RMNP Beaver Meadows Entrance / Toll Station. Park Entrance RD. Estes Park, CO 80517.
- From Park Entrance to Bear Lake Trailhead (approx. 9 miles): Once you enter the park entrance, turn LEFT onto Bear Lake Rd and this road ends at the trailhead start.
- Parking: There are plenty of spaces available right at the start of the trailhead! Do not forget to rent or bring your snow/hiking boots! There are a lot of equipment rental places in the quaint town of Estes Park, just 5 miles from the park entrance.
- Take Me to Dream Lake!: Hike starts at Bear Lake trailhead. Follow the signs to Nymph Lake, a smaller lake that is frozen in the Winter/Spring time, but filled with lily pads when it is not frozen. Walk across the left side of Nymph lake and follow the signs to Dream Lake!
I can’t wait to go back when the lakes are unfrozen–I heard the reflection of the mountains on the lakes are breathtaking! I am also itching to go back to Estes Park to take the “Night Spirit Tour” of The Stanley Hotel. This is the hotel that inspired Steven King to write The Shining, however, the actual movie was not filmed here, but it still feels eerie. I am just as scared of paranormal things as I am fascinated by them. In fact, I got so scared when reading The Shining that I would only read it on planes, surrounded by people.
Moving on to something happier & lighter…
2. Play With Rescue Puppies on the Beach! (Providenciales, Turks & Caicos)
Say hello to Lisa (right)!!! This little rescue Potcake puppy was headed to her forever home in Georgia the day after we took her for a walk on Grace Bay beach. This magical rescue place is called the Potcake Place and it is located in the gorgeous island of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. Anyone can volunteer to take a puppy for a walk and they will provide you a tote with poopy bags, water, treats and toys!
The Potcake Place opens at 10am and you are allowed to play with them until 1pm, which is their nap time! We got there at 10:10am the first day and ALL the puppies were taken! So we came back the next day at 9:30am–we did NOT want to risk it!
The Potcake is a mixed-breed doggo that is often found in the Carribean islands. It is said that their name came to be because locals used to feed the caked remains on pots to these doggos.
A lot of people who visit the Potcake Place donate dog food or even adopt puppies from this place! International adoptions are so common that they will assist you with the process to make sure your puppy can fly back home with you. The day we were there, we had the amazing opportunity to witness a Make-a-Wish Foundation child whose dream was to travel with his family to Turks and get a puppy at the Potcake Place. Our hearts were SO FULL OF JOY!
3. Run Through the Disney Parks! (Orlando, Florida & Paris, France)
RACE YOU TO THE CASTLE!!! Let me preface this by saying that I am not a fast runner. In fact, if you look me up in the race results, chances are, my name is on the last page. However, the feeling I get when I finish something that is so challenging for me is SO EMPOWERING. Also, running amongst a sea of people who love Disney and who show support to every human around them is the most encouraging sight ever. Finally, exercise endorphins + the happiest place on Earth = Utopia. Need I say more?
Disney runs are hands-down THE BEST ORGANIZED events I have ever participated in: from providing a ton of information on how you can prep for the day (accomodations, running schedule, race-pick up information), to the organization through the running course and finally getting your medal, your snack box (very important #alwayshungry) and transportation back to your hotel (if staying on Disney property).
Half of the fun is the anticipation of registering for the race and deciding which costume to wear.
My No. 1 tip is to sign-up AS SOON AS REGISTRATION OPENS because the runDisney races SELL OUT! I signed-up for the upcoming Disney Wine & Dine 10k (not a half-marathon because I don’t want my legs to divorce me after 3 park days and a run!) as soon as registration opened (I was literally counting down the seconds on the clock).
The shorter races (1-mile, 5k, 10k) tend to sell out the fastest. The Wine & Dine 10k race was sold out within 2 hours. The Princess Half-Marathon (February) and the Tinkle-Bell Half-Marathon (May, but discontinued) sold out within a month. Registration for the 2019 Disney World Half-Marathon started a couple of weeks ago and as of today, there are only spots left for the half and full-marathon!
There are SO MANY useful tips I would love to share about the runDisney races, so please let me know in the comments if you would be interested in reading a separate blog completely dedicated to RunDisney tips (including how I made all my costumes, each one of them under $20!).
4. Take a Helicopter & Walking Tour Through the Glaciers (Juneau, Alaska)
Seeing the world from above makes me realize how fortunate we are to live in such a stunning world. A couple of years ago, my family decided to take an Alaskan cruise as our family trip. Most of the shore excursions were quite pricey, and since I am one of those people who love to walk and believe anything less than 3 miles is totally walkable, we decided to design our own excursions by foot and splurge on the helicopter and walking tour through the glaciers of Juneau.
The water in the glaciers were so blue and clear that I could not help but to put my hand in every single icy “pond.” The helicopter ride was around 2 hours long (round-trip), and our pilot let us walk around the glaciers for an hour. We even made an extra stop to another glacier that was even more isolated. I did not recall the company that does this tour since we booked it through the cruise. HOWEVER, after doing some research and looking up the helicopter’s tail number, I was able to determine that the tail number belongs to NorthStar Trekking, LLC. — Juneau’s premier helicopter tour company!!!
5. Light Up the Sky at a Lantern Festival (Available in Various Cities)
Y’all!!! The Light Fest is a scene right out of Disney’s Tangled! Neither pictures nor videos will ever do it justice (except for the scene in Disney’s Tangled because it looks EXACTLY like that!). It is so breathtakingly stunning that people wept as lanterns were filling up the sky! To make it even more meaningful, you can write messages on the lantern before releasing it to the dark sky.
The Light Fest is just as family friendly as it is romantic. Gates open a couple of hours before sunset and you are allowed to bring in food, lawn chairs, blankets, etc. The event happens yearly in various cities so check to see if it is coming to a city near you, and make sure you get your ticket before it is sold out!
Cuddle-up in a blanket and get ready to be amazed!
6. Visit a Nazi Concentration Camp & Work Camp (Various Cities in Europe)
This is the hardest caption to write about and it is not due to the lack of words. On the contrary, it is due to the overwhelming amount of emotions I felt as I walked around a place were so many unthinkable atrocities happened. We have all, at some level, learned about Nazi concentration camps and work camps. A lot of us have read The Diary of Anne Frank hoping every time that it would end differently, and we certainly do not have to be personally connected to any of the oppressed groups in order to understand its significance.
As I walked around Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (located in Northern Berlin), all I could see was the result of what happens when people are taught about hate and the misuse of power. The horrible things done to prisoners were hard to hear and so inhumane that it makes you wonder how a human being can be so cruel to another human being? As hard as it is, this is a place that is worth visiting because it made it more real. It made me realize how imperative it is to spread good. It instantly made me remember a poem that I read back in 5th grade. It stuck with me because the use of words were so simple (which was very helpful since I was barely fluent in English). I remember translating the poem to my mom in Chinese right as I got home from school:
“I am only one” by Edward Everett Hale
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
7. Visit White Sands National Monument (Alamogordo, New Mexico)
Somewhere in the Chihuahuan desert, between Texas and New Mexico, lies the largest gypsum dune field in the world. This rare natural sand dune is said to never have the same scenery twice as sand travels every second, thus you will never see the same sunrise and sunset twice!
The best way to begin your journey is to start at the White Sands Visitors Center. There is a super informative video explaining how this natural wonder came to be, and you can talk to the Park Rangers who will let you know the conditions of the dune. Once you drive into the park, you will be in awe of the white sand surrounding you and it just keeps getting more stunning as you drive. There are many places where you can park, explore, hike, and there is even a huge picnic area with plenty of parking next to your own shaded picnic table.
I recommend taking a hike on any of the trails, and walk around barefoot in the sand dunes. What amazed me the most was the calmness: it is a very comfortable silence that felt very pure. You will see a lot of photographers and with good reason since it is impossible to take a bad picture at White Sands National Monument Park.
Thank you so much for reading! I would love to hear about any adventures that you have taken or would love to take so we can add those to our bucket lists as well!