Under the Hawaiian Sea

by: Kaitlyn Graf

In the midst of this frigid Montana winter, I find myself reminiscing on a warm trip in paradise. This video includes shots from Maui, Hawaii from June 2017.

I truly believe paradise isn’t just a place but a feeling.

I hope you enjoy!

Advertisements

Lactose Intolerant Forever, Ice Cream Scooper for the Summer

About 75% of the human population is lactose intolerance. Whether or not they chose to accept it or not is their own business.

 

As a part of the 75%, I usually cringe at the sight of people eating straight pieces of cheese. There are other times I try to forget that I’m lactose intolerant so that I can enjoy a slice of pizza after a late night out like a normal college student. I’ve grown up reminding my dad daily that I am still unable to eat cheese but appreciate the thought of him making lasagna for dinner. Unfortunately for me, awkward first dates always seem to end up being made even more awkward when I’m taken to the guy’s favorite pizza joint or out for ice cream. Pizza parties and ice cream parties in middle school were misery. I’ve poisoned myself by forgetting to ask for a milk alternative in my latte or no cheese on my hamburger because the waiter was hot. And let me tell you Oreo’s dipped in soy milk is not the same.

So you’d think that knowing that I am lactose intolerant that I wouldn’t dare succumb myself to the torture of being surrounded by ice cream during the most popular time of year. However, needing cash and a summer time job, I decided to be an idiot and surround myself with the poison that is for me ice cream.

So behold, Scoop Handmade Ice cream; delicious, unique, local and a lactose intolerant’s living hell. Six out of the seven days of the week you could find me hanging out the window of a small little red food cart passing out ice cream cones in downtown Portland, Oregon or driving the ice cream truck from various events in the city.

When I first started working I never let on that I was lactose intolerant. Instead I became very skilled at explaining a flavor of ice cream I had never tried. I shocked people when they asked how I stayed so thin working around ice cream every day and answered with “by eating it for lunch” or that “the gas gage on my ice cream truck is broken so I sometimes have to push it home”. However, on the rare occasion that I let it slip, most of my customers found it very amusing that I was the lactose intolerant ice cream girl. In fact, sometimes having that tid-bit of knowledge slip, made a customer buy more ice cream to eat in my honor or an extra buck was added to my tip jar out of pity.

Although I could never indulge in the delicious handmade ice cream I surrounded myself with all summer long, I still enjoyed my job very much. I was able to meet tons of unique people, and make a lot of people happy with a sweet scoop of ice cream on a freshly handmade waffle cone. The other great thing about working in an ice cream truck is the fact that it attracts dogs and babies, two incredibly cute things. From working that job I learned to parallel park an ice cream truck on the busy streets of the city. I also never went home after a shift smelling like anything but vanilla and waffle cones. I developed one very toned right forearm and I made way better tips than I ever did being a barista. Overall, the good of the job outweighed the torture of being surrounded by ice cream almost every day. I also believe being able to parallel park an ice cream truck is a valuable skill that everyone should have in their back pocket and I would have never learned that working at a pizza joint.

 

Must Do New Zealand Adventures: South Island

Last winter break I did a winter session course to New Zealand. It is even more amazing than what is portrayed in The Lord of the Ring movies. It is literally paradise on earth, you have the best of everything. There are a range of climates from mountains, beaches, rainforests and volcanoes. No one-cent and five-cent coins, which means that most prices end in a zero, or are rounded up. Crosswalks have no lights so you can basically cross the road whenever you like, though there are a few exceptions in very busy areas. It doesn’t mean that you should stop watching for cars, not everyone stops for pedestrians. Restaurant bills are not delivered to your table you will either pay beforehand or have to go up to the register to pay. In some places they don’t keep track of what you have ordered; they will just trust you to tell them what you had. There is no tipping! There are also no snakes, venomous insects, scorpions and only has one venomous spider, which is very rare up to the point it has an almost mythical status. These are just a few things that make New Zealand even better. Though you can’t forget about the amazing sites and activities. Listed below are some must do adventures on New Zealand’s South Island, in no specific order.

Queenstown 20160101_211016

Queenstown is your typical tourist town, high prices and many people. Disregarding those things it is a very picturesque town on Lake Wakatipu with street performers, stores and restaurants lining the streets, a gondola and a beach. It is a great town to stay at for holidays, night life and shopping. There is also a gondola where you can get breathtaking views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.  Queenstown also has a mouth- watering burger joint called Ferburger. Their line is usually a half block if not a block long and their wide varieties of burgers are about the size of a young child’s face. The half-hour wait is soo worth it. To end, Queesntown is world-famous for adventure, this leads into my next topic…

Extreme Sports:20151229_14500520160101_14251420160101_143416

Since Queenstown is the tourist destination in New Zealand they offer a wide range of extreme activities such as skydiving, jet boating and bungee/bungy jumping. If you don’t know, jet boating and bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand. And many times we do spontaneous things while on vacation, so might as well do one of these activities. Jet boating is the ultimate water sport where you power your way through narrow river canyons. You all know what bungee jumping is, and there are two iconic spots to bungee jump a hour away from Queesntown. The first is Kawarau Bridge, a 43 meter (~141 ft) jump into the river below. It is one of the most popular bungee sites, attrackting thousands of thrill seekers every year. For the more daring there is the Nevis Bungy which is New Zealand’s biggest at 134m (~440 ft) above the Nevis River. There are age, weight and medical restrictions for many of these activities. Unfortunately, I ran into this problem at the Nevis jump, I was a few pounds short for their weight limit. At least I was allowed to travel to the jumping site that is held above the river by two wires to watch.

Mount Cook20160102_143204
20160102_132211

Mount Cook is the highest mountain and longest glaciers in New Zealand. There is a lovely day hike (more like 4 hours) to a small lake at the base of the mountain. The hike is pretty flat and has several suspended bridges that are fun to bounce around on. The scenery is amazing, mountains, a river, and flora that were unlike anything I’ve seen. The flora actually somewhat reminded me or a Dr. Seuss book, there were rolling grass areas with these
spiky looking plants that shoot straight up in the air. The trail ends at the small lake which was the chalky white color with small ice blocks. There was a small rocky beach you can walk down to to get to the lake from the picnic area. I have to say, the hike to the lake was more enjoyable than the ending destination.

Kaikoura20160105_210731

Kaikoura is a very cute, small town that is on the ocean and has rocky beaches. Kaikoura itself wasn’t that outstanding as a town but it too had amazing views and was home to many Maori people, the indigenous people of NZ, consisting of 3% of the population. There is a Maori tour ran by a Maori that I thought was worth doing, to learn about their history and culture. Kaikoura is also a popular spot to go whale watching and swim with the dolphins. I was fortunate enough to swim with the dolphins and it is something that I will always remember. As I have never been snorkeling I really got the full experience in this activity. Everyone had to wear a head to toe wetsuits with goggles and snorkel. Since the suits were so buoyant there was no need for life jackets. This was an activity I highly recommend. You are delivered as close as possible to a pod of dolphins. The time I went there were 30 or more dolphins swimming around you,  it was awesome! If you are somewhat claustrophobic this might not be for you. Being encased in a wesuit add in being in the ocean you feel alone and closed in. Even I had a tiny anxiety attack. Also don’t worry if the dolphins move away you get back into the boat to follow them. The time I went we were on and off the boat 5 times before we headed back. And like many similar businesses if the weather is bad or no dolphins are to be found you get a refund and are able to reschedule.

Christcurch20160105_110507 20160104_110230

Christchuch is the largest city on the South Island. In 2010-12 Christcurch experienced devistating earthquakes which forever changed the city. When I visited the destruction from the earthquakes could still be seen around the entire city. This was eye-opening to see since in Montana earthquakes are almost nonexistent.  It was definitely surprising and heartbreaking to see all the damage left. But what surprised me the most was what the city did after the earthquakes. They turned a horrible natural disaster into a new beginning. All around the city there were little innovated places. One was an area of temporary trailer sized businesses, another a musical park made out of recycled material. There was an area testing out 3D printed designs to grow plant and shops made out of train cars. The street art all over the city was outstanding. I just happened to be there during the Spectrum Street Art Festival that consisted of street art, graffiti, video etc. all around the city.

Abel Tasman National Park20160109_101241

Abel Tasman is a coastal National Park that has several beaches and has a wide variety of Flora and fur seal rookeries and little blue penguin populations. It is usually recommended to plan a whole day just for this. There is a very easy trail that stretches along the coast that leads to several different beaches, depending on how long you want to walk. If wanting to stay overnight there are a couple of lodges and campsites throughout the park. I would recommend kayaking one way and walking back the other. By kayaking you get a better view of the seal rookeries and maybe a little blue penguin. You also get a better view of the smaller islands just off the coast. I kayaked to this small, somewhat secluded beach for lunch and relaxing and then walked back. If plan to go all day take water, sunscreen and a swimsuit. The burning time this far south is 10 minutes, yikes! There are water faucets available at some areas but they are more for washing and rinsing, not drinking. The water is so beautiful and clear it would be hard to stay away, hence the swimsuit. Warning the one bathroom that was at the beach I was at was awful, it stank to high heaven. Not sure this applies to all but approach with caution!

Milford Sound20151230_140805 20151230_125349

Milford sound is within Fiordland National Park. This too is an all day trip. Even though from Queenstown it is located an hour away, straight across, due to road regulations in NZ getting there was more like a 4 hour trip. If you do a bus tour you pass through stunning landscapes including mountain ranges, glacier-carved valleys, crystal clear lakes and native rainforest. There are several things to do at Milford Sound such as, hiking, kayaking and cruises. The cruise was an ideal way to see Milford Sound. It is just over two hours, you get to see wildlife as well as the stunning waterfalls and steep mountain sides. The sights rival that of Glacier National Park, daresay, maybe even surpass those of Glacier.

 

Zoo Town Brew Fest Lineup

MSO Brewfest
If you live in Missoula, and enjoy drinking beer, then I am sure that you are fully aware of what has happened in the last 10 years, but first, go back in time to 1986. At this time, Missoula Brewing had been out of business for over 20 years, and Americanized pilsners like Ranier dominated the market. In 1987, German brewmaster Jürgen Knö¨ller opened up Bayern Brewing, and the local craft beer industry had once again been established in Missoula. Five years after Bayern’s opening, Jürgen and a few other local business owners started an annual tradition that still holds today. The annual Garden City Brewfest had begun, and craft brew lovers have flocked to Caras Park in downtown Missoula for the event ever since.

Now, look back to just ten years ago. Believe it or not, there were only three breweries in Missoula. In the past 10 years, the love for craft beer has blown up to ridiculous proportions, and the greater Missoula area is soon to be home to over 10 breweries!

When you live in a city like Missoula, which is in a state that takes 2nd in the nation for breweries per capita, one brewfest is simply not enough. The first brewfest of 2016 was the Winter Brewfest, which was on February, 19th but there are still five more to come!

Remember, drink responsibly!

Backcountry-Hunters-Anglers

April 1st

Backcountry Brewfest

Caras Park

 

PigSeal

April 16th

Bacon & Brew Fest

Caras Park

 

GCBF-Logo

May 7th

Garden City Brewfest

Caras Park

 

mav-logo

September TBA

Mavericks Brewfest

Caras Park

 

1085_665_brewed_from_the_ground_up1_300x272_jpg

October TBA

MBA Fall Fest

Caras Park

The Great American Summer: Northwest Edition

The sun is shining, temperatures are rising, and its time to start planning for summer. There is no better place to hike, bike, dance, or go on a road trip with your friends than the Pacific Northwest. Consisting of four great states and a variety of places and events to explore, you’ll run out of summer before you run out of things to do.

So pack your bags and hop in your car. The adventure starts now!

May 9th & 10th
Maggot Fest – Missoula, Montana
Average Temperature: 67 degrees

It’s the 39th annual Maggotfest this year, and the mix of competition and fun makes this a weekend you won’t want to miss! Bringing together 36 rugby teams from across the US and Canada, this tournament will not fail to entertain. Beer galore and an unforgettable party on Saturday night will keep you coming back year after year.

1_Maggot Fest_Map of NW

May 16th & 17th
Silverwood – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Average Temperature: 65 degrees

The second stop on your Great American road trip is just north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at Silverwood theme park. This is the weekend to take your family or friends on the Timber Terror roller coaster, since tickets into the park are half off! Make a quick stop at Lake Coeur d’Alene on your way up to the park for some relaxation by the water and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

2_Silverwood_Map of NW

May 22nd – 25th
Sasquatch Music Festival – George, Washington
Average Temperature: 72 degrees

If you are a music junkie, then this is the event for you! Sasquatch Music Festival takes over the Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington every Memorial Day weekend, and never fails to impress with a variety of musical genres and the beautiful Gorge scenery. Bring a tent, some friends, and a lot of energy, you’ll need a whole week to recover after a weekend at the Gorge.

3_Sasquatch_Map of NW

Early June
Seattle, Washington
Average Temperature: 69 degrees

Next stop: Seattle! Home of the Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders, Seattle has numerous activities to enjoy and places to explore. You’ll need at least a week here to experience the main perks that Seattle has to offer, including a trip to Pike Place Market overlooking the Elliot Bay waterfront.

4_Seattle_Map of NW

June 27th & 28th
Lincoln City Kite Festival – Lincoln City, Oregon
Average Temperature: 65 degrees

Make your way down the coast for the second half of June and stop in Lincoln City for a kite festival on the beach! The weather should be warm enough by now to spend some much needed time playing in the sand and sticking your toes in some Pacific Ocean water. Make sure to stop in Astoria, Seaside, and Newport to explore what these coastal towns have to offer as well.

5_Oregon Coast_Map of NW

July 10th – 12th
The Country Fair – Veneta, Oregon
Average Temperature: 83 degrees

We are halfway through our Great American adventure, and things are about to get a little weird (but in a good way!) Make a stop in Veneta, Oregon before you head any further east to enjoy the legendary Oregon Country Fair. Experience the art and culture that will nourish your spirit until you make your way back for next year’s fair!

6_Country Fair_Map of NW

Mid-July
The Cascades – Central Oregon
Average Temperature: 85 degrees

Before you leave the great state of Oregon, make sure to stop in The Cascades where there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Take a scenic bike ride from Sisters to Smith Rock and visit Bend’s Deschutes Brewery, the 6th largest craft brewery in the nation, as well as a handful of other microbreweries throughout the city. Sunriver Resort and Mount Bachelor aren’t too far away, either!

7_Oregon Cascades_Map of NW

Mid-July
Mountain River Outfitters – Riggins, Idaho
Average Temperature: 90 degrees

While making your way back through Idaho, you’ll probably want to head for water. It’s hot out and there is no better way to cool off than to go fishing on the river. Mountain River Outfitters has a variety of trips to offer for any fisher, from beginner to expert. Catch some dinner, then take a dip to cool off!

8_Riggins Rafting_Map of NW

July 23rd – 25th
Evil Knievel Days – Butte, Montana
Average Temperature: 81 degrees

Back to Montana, and back to legendary. At the end of July, the annual Evil Knievel Days takes part in Butte America to celebrate the late Robert Craig aka “Evil Knievel”: the world’s most famous motorcycle daredevil. Join 50,000 other visitors in the Mining City for a fun-filled weekend!

9_Evil Kenievil Days_Map of NW

August
Glacier National Park – Glacier, Montana
Average Temperature: 78 degrees

Tired yet? Don’t worry, your final stop on this Great American Summer adventure is here, and you’ll have plenty of time to get in touch with nature. Glacier National Park offers visitors over 700 miles of trails to hike and plenty of history to explore. Take the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Hidden Lake for some up close and personal experiences with mountain goats if you’re feeling adventurous! Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path on your Great American Summer adventure through the Northwest. Hope you get a chance to enjoy this beautiful corner of the United States!

10_Glacier Park_Map of NW