A Wintry Wine Tour in Traverse City

A benefit of working in the automotive industry is we get all sorts of weird holidays off… It has something to do with union negotiations (even though engineers don’t have a union, we still get all their holidays off. Pretty sweet deal!)

So we all get MLK day off, which means three day weekend, which means a visit to wine capital of Michigan! Yea, you heard that right. When you think wine, you think France, California, Italy, but not Michigan. Well let me show you what a wine tour looks like in the mitten state.

P.S. I will not be commenting on how the wine actually tastes because it all pretty much tastes like grapes, alcohol, and maybe oak if I’m smelling really hard.

Winery #1: Bonobo Winery

Our first stop was Bonobo winery, and probably my favorite of them all. We rented a bus to drive us to the different wineries (don’t drink and drive!), and our amazing driver set us up to have a room all to ourselves (about 14 of us in total). We were taken to this beautiful white room with huge windows overlooking the vineyard. Our waitress brought us a tasting menu with explanations of all the wines, and we got to tasting. The full tasting cost about $10, and we got to sample about 5 different wines.


Cheers! Our first tasting of the tour.


Bonobo winery had a piano in the main room, so Corinn played us a song!

Winery #2: Chateau Grand Traverse

I think we must have come on a bad day. There was an event going on, called Winter Warmup I believe. This meant there were A TON of people trying wine, and we weren’t able to do a tasting with such a large group. However, they opened up the patio for us (which was covered thank goodness!!), and we were able to order a glass out there and enjoy the sunshine and snow while covered in some snuggly blankets.


Cheesin’ because we have this patio all to ourselves!


Here’s me warming up with a good glass of wine and a warm blanket.


Winery #3: Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery

This wasn’t our last stop, but this is the last one I clearly remember so it’ll be the last for this post. We went to Brys, and they were also participating in the Winter Warmup event so they were incredibly crowded. The crowds were handled a bit better. In order to do the tasting, you had to walk in line around the winery to different stations. It felt like waiting in line at an amusement park. We were able to see some barrels and how the wine is fermented, but the waiting in line kind of dampened the experience. Still a cute place though!


Some wine barrels at Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery.


All in all, it was a fun day with friends. To rent a bus with ~14 people, it cost $40/person. At each winery I spent about $10 on glasses/tastings. It’s a great way to see some popular wineries in Traverse City, and I’m sure you could ask the driver to go elsewhere if you had other wineries in mind. My only recommendation is to not go when they are having large events. I think I enjoyed Bonobo Winery so much more because they were the only place not participating. I can’t wait to visit Traverse City again in the summer, and to try some more wine!


NYC Vegan Food Tour

I recently went to NYC for the weekend to visit some friends. What’s a girl to do with a couple days in the big apple? Eat all the amazing vegan food, obviously!

(Please excuse the terrible photos. I forgot my camera all day and restaurant lighting is dark and terrible).

Restaurant #1 – Yum Yum Too

We arrived late and were STARVING. Luckily, my vegan friend who I was staying with new just the place a few blocks from her apartment (which is in Hell’s Kitchen). I had the mock duck. It was FANTASTIC.


Rad Prik Tamarind with Mock Duck – Yum Yum Too

Restaurant #2 – La Palapa Cocina Mexicana

We spent the night drinking, and it was time for boozy brunch. Chosen by another friend, we made our to The Village to take advantage of their amazing brunch special. The food was alright, but we got a meal, side of fruit, tea, and a margarita for $20! A steal in the city.


Molletes without Cheese – La Palapa Cocina Mexicana

Restaurant #3 – Meske Ethiopian Restaurant

It was now time for first dinner. I had reservations at another place at 10pm, so first dinner took place around 6pm. I hadn’t had Ethiopian food in a while, so I started to crave the spongy bread. We ventured out to Meske, in Hell’s Kitchen. I shared a vegetarian plate with my vegan friend, it was alright. Ethiopian never quite hits the spot like Asian food does.


Vegetarian Plate – Meske Ethiopian Restaurant

Restaurant #4 – Ivan Ramen

This was the restaurant I was waiting for! Ivan (head chef at Ivan Ramen), had a Chef’s Table episode about him. Apparently he moved to Japan, became the best ramen shop in the country, and then moved to the States because he “experienced Japan.” What a badass. You don’t need reservations weeks in advance, just make them a few days ahead of time. This guy is the king of umami! Such good vegan ramen! He put roasted tomatoes in it! Amazing! *slurp slurp*


Vegetarian Ramen – Ivan Ramen


Restaurant #5 – Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen

We went out in Brooklyn after the ramen, and it was now time for brunch again. I got my friends up and made them go to Blank Slate because I saw some pretty photos on instagram (yes, yes I am the worst I’m sorry). Too bad it was actually pretty good! I was hella basic and had avocado toast, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t the best avocado test I’ve ever had. I also got a chai latte. It was delicious.


Restaurant #6 – Blank Slate Tea

Okay, so this isn’t really a restaurant. It’s a tea shop, directly adjacent to Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen. I had an earl grey lavender latte. It was very pretty, and the shop was all pink. Perfect pick me up before some more exploring!


Earl Grey Latte with Lavender – Blank Slate Tea

Restaurant #7 – Kazunori: The Original Hand Roll Bar

Last stop of the weekend! We grabbed a few hand rolls before heading back to my friend’s apartment to watch the Super Bowl. Even though I don’t eat fish, the cucumber hand rolls were a perfect light snack before I gorged myself on vegan nachos and guac.


Cucumber Hand Roll – Kazunori

‘Twas a good weekend filled with wonderful friends and amazing food. Thankfully we did so much walking, I only gained a pound or two! Shout out to the best hosts, who look so happy to see me!DSC_0603.jpg


Iceland in November

Who would go to Iceland in November? The summer is characterized by the midnight sun and beautiful weather. November, however, has about six hours of daylight, very good chances of grey skies, and is pretty freaking cold. So why did we decide to go then? Cheap plane tickets! I had some vacation days to burn before year ended (it’s a use it or lose it situation), so Gus and I decided to go to Iceland on a whim. For $300 round trip each, you couldn’t beat it! A trip to California would have been more than that. So we bought our tickets at work, and a month later we were landing in Reykjavik in the pitch black.

Day 1

We landed in Reykjavik at around 6am, so we had the whole day ahead of us. After our flight landed, we went to the car rental place and picked up our car. I had no idea what the weather conditions would be like, so opted for a 4WD SUV, just in case we got stuck in the snow. Luckily enough, it never snowed (although it did rain quite a bit)!

We decided to do a self-guided golden circle tour today, minus Thingvellir National Park. We would be going there the next day to dive in between tectonic plates!

Our self-guided tour started at Geysir. The sun was just starting to rise at 10am, and the light was absolutely stunning. We hung out for a while and looked at the bubbling pots of water, and waited for the geysir to erupt a couple of times.

After we had our fill of hot water, we began the drive to Gulfoss (a giant, awesome waterfall). On the way there we found some adorable Icelandic horses! After spending some time with the horses, we continued on our way to Gulfoss.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Met some friendly Icelandic horses along the road!

The next stop wasn’t on any golden circle tour. It’s called Pjorsardalur, and my Lonely Planet book said it was a volcanic valley carved out by a river. The GPS dropped us off in the middle of what I guess was this valley?? We found a pile of volcanic looking rocks, and were the only people around. Definitely an interesting side stop…

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Did we find the right thing? Why is there a pile of rocks in a field with a plaque?

The last stop before heading back to Reykjavik was the Secret Lagoon in Fludir. It costs about $35 to enter, and is surrounded entirely by nature. It’s a beautiful way to end the day, and was perfect for our jetlagged bodies.

Once we got back to Reykjavic, we pushed through our exhaustion and decided to walk around the city at night. It’s a cute city, and reminds me of a giant Ikea. After some BOGO Christmas mules, it was time to go home and go to sleep!

Day 2

Day two was all about diving Silfra. Silfra is a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and is located in Thingvellir National Park. We decided to go with this tour company. They were very professional, and I would recommend their services in a heartbeat.

In order to dive Silfra, you need to have an open water diver certification and a specialty dry suit certification. We had gotten our certifications about a week before going, and it was totally fine! The water doesn’t get too deep in Silfra, so even if you’re not comfortable going deep in a dry suit, it’s definitely fine to do this dive. Each dive is about 20 minutes long, and you basically go through the fissure twice.

If you don’t want to fork out the cash for getting all these certifications, you can also go snorkeling. They only go out once in the fissure instead of twice. I would absolutely recommend snorkeling. The visibility is so amazing, so you can see everything even from the top of the water.

Although pricey, it’s a pretty cool experience to dive or snorkel in between two tectonic plates!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Such a cool experience to dive in Silfra.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Cool waterfall found in Thingvellir National park.


Day 3

This had to be my favorite day of the whole trip. We got out of bed kind of late (we had a few too many drinks the night before…), and drove to Reykjadalur Valley. This valley is about an hour outside of Reykjavic, down the South Coast along the Ring Road. What’s so special about this valley is the geothermal river in it. You hike up about an hour into the mountains to this river. Once you arrive, there’s different water temperatures along different parts of the river. At the top is the hottest, and if you walk down a bit it gets to be more luke warm. It’s free to go to, and it was so amazing to soak in the hot river in the middle of the mountains (in the winter!).

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Some awesome views on our way up to the geothermal river.

After a quick bite to eat, we made our way to Vik (where we were spending the night). Seljalandsfoss was on the way, so we HAD to make a quick stop. I was very excited to see all these waterfalls!


Day 4

After spending the night in Vik, we decided to chase some more waterfalls. Not too far was Skogafoss, which was absolutely beautiful and somehow very Scandinavian looking.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland.

I then had the best idea to walk 45 minutes into the abyss to see an abandoned plane wreck. Honestly… this was not worth it. Maybe on a nicer day it would have been cooler because it’s by the water, but it was just so windy and cold and raining when we went. It was also being used as an instagram backdrop, so you had to navigate all the selfies. It would be a cool stop if it was right by the road, but it’s really not worth the long walk.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

It was so windy… Everyone was hiding out inside the plane!

The last stop of the day was to Reynisdrangar. This is an epic black sand beach right in the town of Vik. We went and it was completely empty! Possibly due to the fact that it was raining and freezing, but that won’t stop us from adventuring on.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Reynisdrangar – black sand beach


Day 5

Now this was the biggest road trip day. We did a TON of driving. The first stop was to Fjadrargljufur, which is this epic canyon. We were the first ones there, so pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. The canyon has a trail with different outlooks. We only went to the first one and back, but there were options for longer hikes if that’s what you wanted.

The next stop was to the Skaftafell glacier. We wanted to see a waterfall, but getting up close and personal with a glacier was something I couldn’t miss. The glacier is a short hike from the visitors center, and you get pretty darn close. There’s also little lakes formed from melted glaciers, and glacial chunks hanging around. I even tried some! It definitely tasted like the last ice age.

The final stops were Jokusarlon and Diamond Beach. It was quite foggy, so we couldn’t see out very far in Jokusarlon, which is a glacial bay. However, on Diamond Beach you could see ice chunks waiting to go out to sea on a black sand beach. They look like actual diamonds! It’s touristy, but honestly something I wouldn’t want to miss seeing.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

“Diamond beach”


So should I go to Iceland in November?

Go for it! When I first bought tickets, I was nervous that there wasn’t going to be anything to do. With a good coat and a positive attitude, you can still see some cool things on the South Coast and around Reykjavic. If you’re lucky, you might even see the Norther lights! We didn’t venture anywhere else in case the weather got too bad, but this was plenty for our short, five day trip.

Also, rent a car! It was more expensive, but I really appreciated the freedom to do what we wanted. It also helped navigate the limited sunlight hours (about 6 hours a day). We made sure that we were on the road and able to use these hours to the fullest.

6 Ways To Enjoy Bad Weather

You research for months, compiling every place you want to visit. You save up over the year, opting out of brunch with your friends to save that money away to cross off another bucket list item. You save up your vacation days, and finally get enough to take that week long trip to your dream destination. You can hardly contain your excitement as the days get closer. Once you finally arrive, you check the forecast for the upcoming week.


Every freaking day.

Suddenly there’s a cloud over you, and you can’t help but panic about the trip. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts, and question cancelling the trip altogether. Don’t let your mind take you down that path. There’s ways to get around the pre-trip anxiety, and to deal in the moment when things just aren’t going as planned.

1. Don’t check the weather.

The biggest mistakes I’ve made before many trips is checking the weather. I knew I was going to go on the trip, rain or shine. So why did I even check? A week before my trip to Banff, I looked up the forecast and it was like 70% chances of rain for the entire week! However, when we got there we had beautiful sunny days for all except a couple days. The mountains are especially unpredictable, and scattered showers aren’t uncommon.

Save yourself the negative thoughts and just don’t check.


Yea, it totally looks like 70% rain right here.

2. Embrace water-based activities.

Pick things that you’ll get wet doing anyways. When it was raining in Jasper, we just decided to go rafting, and then pay a visit to the hot springs. We’re gonna get soaked anyways, so why not do it in the rain? It was something none of us had planned on doing, and was certainly a memorable experience!

3. Change your mindset.

None of us can change the weather, but we can change how we view it. When I visited Goa, it was the start of monsoon season and rained pretty much the entire time. Sure, we couldn’t go to the crazy beach parties they through there. However, we got to experience a version of Goa that most people never see. With the monsoon came beautiful lush green landscapes, and almost no crowds. There weren’t many tourists around, so we got to wander around to our hearts content, and go to do everything a lot cheaper! I was disappointed at first, but now I’m so glad that this is when I went to Goa.


We definitely wouldn’t have gotten this amazing waterfall and greenery during the dry season.

4. Explore the local food scene.

When the outside world is just too terrible, stay in! Use the opportunity to really dig deep into the local food scene. Food is something I cherish, but I never really make a point to go to a bunch of different restaurants when I travel. Whenever the rain comes in, it forces me to try everything I wanted to, but initially didn’t have enough time to! In Jasper, I never would have tried all the breweries in the area had it not been for the rain. In Luang Prabang, I never would have embarked on a croissant crawl (it’s really a thing to try and find the best croissant in the city) had it not been for gloomy skies. These are some of my best memories, and it all happened when I was forced to be flexible.

5. Do ALL the inside activities.

I usually hate doing inside activities. Especially when I’m planning trips to national parks. Unfortunately, sometimes the conditions are just not good for hiking. This recently happened while I was at the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We got some hiking done in the morning, but by afternoon it was absolutely pouring. No good sunsets were in our future. However, we decided to spend the evening hanging around Gatlinburg and doing ALL of the touristy things. We played mini-golf, went in a mirror maze, and tried cotton candy wine (it was terrible lol). It wasn’t what I was expecting to do at all, but I honestly had so much fun doing it!


Seriously, how cool is this?!?!

6. Be flexible.

This is pretty much a combination of the first four points. All you need to combat the rain is a positive mind, and the ability to remain flexible. It might suck at first, but if you just roll with the punches and take control of your vacation, I guarantee you will have an amazing time.


I swear it wasn’t snowing at the beginning of the hike…


Sand Dunes at Silver Lake State Park

Nestled in between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan on the Western side of Michigan, lies a landscape that is otherworldly. We started off in Hart, Michigan, where our cute Airbnb was located. Driving towards the beaches on Silver Lake, we started to notice all sorts of dusty jeeps and SUV’s driving around with an orange flag swinging around on the front of the car. There was no rhyme or reason as to why these trucks where chosen. All-wheel drive seemed to be the only prerequisite for the homemade dune buggies. We followed the line of trucks, and were quickly greeted with a sand dune that soared over our heads. The beach was just over that dune, we just had to climb it.

Climbing dunes isn’t so easy, but it’s oh-so worth it. You slide back half a step every time you walk up, and the sand burns the bottom of your toes. It takes all four limbs to make it to the top of these behemoths, but when you make it to the top, it’s sand and lakes for miles.


Racing up sand dunes! Humans for scale.


So close to the top…


Made it to the top! This is the view of Silver Lake.

Spending the day along Silver Lake is a perfect beach day. There’s tons of shoreline and opportunities to rent pontoon boats and party on the lake. We didn’t rent a boat, but instead opted to claim a piece of the shore for ourselves. Beers in hand and with perfectly chilled water, we spent the day running up and down the dunes, burying each other in sand, and trying to make a human pyramid.



As the day progressed, we got hungry and decided to make our way back to the Airbnb. We booked a place with 12 beds and 1 bathroom, so showers for everyone was an hours-long process.

After everyone was good to go, we decided to go out to Kristi’s Pour House, the local bar in Hart. They had a live band playing and $1 cans of beer! It was a wild night of dancing and singing.

The next day we decided to check out the Lake Michigan Side of the beach for a little bit. The waves were surprisingly large for a lake! We stayed for a bit on the public access portion, and then decided to walk down the shore towards the lighthouse.


The squad hanging out on Lake Michigan. You can’t even see the other side!!


Lighthouse in the state park.

Apparently $5 buys you entrance into the lighthouse so you can get to the top. We didn’t do it, but it definitely looked like a sweet time!

It was a short weekend at Silver Lake State Park, but it was a good weekend. It’s definitely been my favorite state park in Michigan thus far. I can’t wait to go back!


Bruce Peninsula – Lion’s Head, Ontario

Summer is here, and I feel guilty for every second I spend that’s not outside, enjoying this gorgeous weather. Instead of hanging around Detroit this weekend, I decided to head off to the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario.

The Bruce Peninsula is flanked by the Georgian Bay to the east, and Lake Huron to the west. It’s a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and once you enter you can absolutely see why. The blue waters of the Georgian Bay make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean (the temperature quickly brings your mind back to Canada), and the forests and cliffs along the water feel like a whole other world.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Admiring the blue waters of the Georgian Bay.

For accommodation, we decided to get an Airbnb in Wiarton, which is at the base of the Bruce Peninsula. From there, you can make your way up to the numerous National and Provincial Parks along the Peninsula. If I could do it again, I would stay somewhere in the middle. It takes around an hour to drive from Wiarton to the tip of the peninsula (Tobermory), which meant we couldn’t do as much as we wanted to on Sunday.

We decided to spend our Saturday up in Lion’s Head. This is a small town that has an access point to the Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail runs along the Georgian Bay all the way up the peninsula. Lion’s Head is a great place to get a feel for the trail with a 10-mile loop that goes along the coast, and comes back in through the forest.

The trail was absolutely beautiful. We started off going through the forest first. The trees were tall, and so wonderfully green. We started off this way so we could save the best for last. After about an hour in the forest, we broke out and were able to catch a first glimpse of the Georgian Bay. As we walked along the coast, the views kept getting better and better from the multitude of lookout points. Seriously, it felt like every 100 feet there was another cliff to stand on and admire the water. We walked for another few hours along the coast, and eventually made it back to the car.

Processed with VSCO with t2 preset

The start of our hike led us through this beautiful forest. Beware of the bugs, however!

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

One of the many pit stops we took along the Bruce trail. It was hard to resist those views!

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Cliffs everywhere! 

The loop itself takes around 6 hours to finish, and the trail head is located on Moore street in Lion’s Head. It’s not very difficult (minimal elevation gain), but you definitely spend a lot of time admiring the views. The rocks can get slippery, so make sure to bring shoes with good grips! There were also so many bugs in the forest, and we instantly regretted not bringing bug spray. There’s nowhere to stop and refill water bottles along the way, so make sure you bring enough to last you the six hours. I would also recommend long pants, as there was so much poison ivy along the path.

Once you’re done, make sure to head over to Marydale’s Family Restaurant in Lion’s Head. The food is delicious, and the service is amazing!

If you want to spend some time exploring Lion’s Head, they have kayaks available for rent to go into the Georgian Bay, and  beach that you can relax on. They also have a lighthouse to see, and an observation deck. Lion’s Head is a dark sky reserve, so if you’re out at night and want to see the stars (including the Milky way), I would definitely check it out. We didn’t have the opportunity to go because it was cloudy, but we’ll be there next time!

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

This lighthouse is in the town of Lion’s head. It’s a small town, but definitely worth it to explore!

I would highly recommend this trail in the Bruce Peninsula! It’s a beautiful way to spend the day, and so so so worth the drive.