Thursday, June 30, 2011

but I am le tired... and the United States Botanical Garden


You ever have one of those days where you have so much planned and you feel so ambitious but then run out of gas? That's me today. I have a great post drafted and sadly didn't get a chance to post it today. So while I drink some night night tea and hope I'm not coming down with something, please enjoy this series of shots I got at the United States Botanical Garden last weekend.

If you visit just one museum on the National Mall, and aren't into art (which would be sad), then I highly recommend a stop here. The collection of flora ranges from all parts of the world from jungles to arid deserts. One of the current exhibitions discusses the genes of plants, which is more exciting than it sounds. They also have a lovely orcid room and who doesn't love a beautiful orcid?

Tomorrow will be a triple posting! wee!

a coffee plant, the nectar of life

coco tree... noms

These leaves look like watermelons!

and these look like Picasso painted his interpretation of a leaf, on a leaf.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wardrobe: Bar Harbor

For your trip to Maine, go sporty and preppy like the local girls. Wear your hair in a ponytail and tie it off with a coordinating ribbon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Destination: Bar Harbor, Maine


Stop four: Bar Harbor, Maine

After the lovely night in the woods (here) the drive to Bar Harbor from White Mountain National Forest could not have felt longer. If it weren’t for the GPS politely telling us we had 90 miles to go or would be there in 28 minutes, we might not have made it. In an earlier post, suggested bringing extra food in the car while on a road trip, I learned that lesson when forced to eat only fast food for a day on our drive. But once in Bar Harbor our attitudes immediately changed. The landscape and charming tourist town won us over. Not to mention it was 10 degrees cooler and not a bug to be found.

We stayed at the Atlantean Cottage. Upon arrival the owner (Gary) happily greeted us, took our luggage, gave us a tour, and offered us coffee, tea, water, and snacks. Our room had a lovely view of the garden and offered romance inducing amenities such as a working fireplace, claw foot bathtub, and comfy bed. The owner also took it upon himself to create binders of his favorite restaurants and attractions. These came in handy when foraging for dinner.

The next morning over our delicious vegetarian breakfast, Gary helped us plan our itinerary. He gladly mapped out our hikes, food, tours, and downtime. Luckily it was not necessary for us to plan ahead.

As with many now touristy towns, Bar Harbor started out as an industrious town of fishing and shipping. Soon after its settlement by Europeans, the Hudson River School of Artists (who I talk about here) started painting in Bar Harbor. They encouraged many New Yorkers to come and explore. Then the rich (including iconic American families such as the Rockefellers) built “cottages” (summer mansions) and a booming tourist industry followed. Today Mount Desert Island sees millions of tourists every summer. 

Lobster is still fished here commercially and locally. Residents live off of lobster like Floridians live off of grouper. I would give them a hard time for casually eating lobster everyday but they don’t leave in the winter. So for that it must be their consolation.

I'm enjoying myself at the Asticou Inn.

That being said, you must have lobster for every meal whilst here. The best lobster salad sandwich is at the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor. While you eat, you gaze out at a beautiful inlet sprinkled with sailboats and rolling fog (the fog in Mount Desert Island is insane! I've never seen such thick fog come and go).

One must-do is to take a whale watching boat tour. We were skeptical at first but Gary convinced us to give it a try. There are several companies giving tours and he recommended going on the Nature Cruise through the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. It is a shorter cruise than the traditional whale watching cruise and we saw far more wildlife (many species of birds, seals, and sometimes whales too) and scenery. We even spotted two Bald Eagles! The tour guide was very knowledgeable about the geological history of the area too which we found surprisingly interesting (history of rocks seems boring, no?).


Although there is a little downtown area with plenty of art galleries and shops filled with souvenirs, you should spend most of your time in Arcadia National Park. The park offers sweeping views of the ocean and surrounding mountainous landscape. The hiking trails range from simple to very difficult. There are beautiful carriage roads which were built by J.D. Rockefeller, Jr. You can rend bikes or horses and ride along these rustic trails. Many people recommended we have lunch at Jordan Pond and try the pop-overs. I recommend skipping this horrible tourist trap. The food was not a notch better than a cafeteria at a hospital and I’ve had better pop-overs in Manhattan. Bring a picnic if you feel you might get hungry while out on the trail.

 As a result of massive fires in 1947 the once dominant spruce-fir forest now shares its land with birch, aspen, and oak too. This variety attracts a lot of wildlife! There are many species of birds, reptiles, and animals to spot along your hikes. We saw a beaver and a few deer too! Although the forest is bustling with fellow tourists you can easily feel as if you are the only person there. I really enjoyed being surrounded by beautiful trees and wildlife without hearing other people, sweating like crazy or dealing with bugs and mosquitoes.

Overall, Bar Harbor is a destination I can see myself going to go over and over. The locals are super friendly and laid-back. You can find a great meal. And you can relax in breathtaking natural landscape.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Recap

Capital Building

My parents came to visit this weekend! We did so much one post for a weekend recap would not be enough to show it all. Let's just say we had some fantastic food, satisfying drinks, and fulfilling conversation. What more could you ask for?

chicken and waffles, omg

wine tasting

I also got lots of ideas for more travel destinations! Hooray!

This week we will continue our summer road trip through New England. Tomorrow we'll get some lobster in Bar Harbor and go hiking in Arcadia National Forest.

Dupont Circle Metro

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Shoe Love: YSL

YSL via Nordstrom

Please someone with money buy these for me. Thanks.

(Sorry for the delayed posting! My parents are in town and I've been a bit distracted showing them around town. :) )

Thursday, June 23, 2011


via Crush Cul du Sac

Here is another way to camp, "glamping". Does this come with a chef?

And speaking of glamour, the June issue of Vogue featured some great American summer travel destinations. They also had some camping/hiking/outdoorsy outfit suggestions... pick up a copy for details!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wardrobe: Camping a la Sara

Sara's camping picks via the addictive Polyvore

Sara kindly created a wardrobe this week for our camping trip. It goes to show practical or comfortable does not have to mean lacking in style! Those colors will have me saying goodbye to my beloved black in a heartbeat..

Thanks again Sara for the great camping and wardrobe tips. I feel inspired to get out there, breathe some fresh air in the Rocky Mountains! This time I'll go prepared. :)

Interview: Camping a la Sara

all photos in today's post courtesy of Sara

As you can tell from my experience my advice would be to just skip camping and sleep in your car (or plan better and stay in a hotel). But by leaving camping out of your travel options you will miss out on some of the most breathtaking sights that our world has to offer. Luckily one of my girlfriends, Sara, is a very experienced camper and agreed to offer her advice! With her penchant for shopping, coffee, and sarcastic quips you bet we became friends fast. You can follow her on twitter too: @StormHutch.

So as a High Heeled Traveler first here is my interview with Sara:

How often have you been camping and where? 
I started camping when I was 12 or 13, and my first experience was I went away to a two-week camp in the Adirondacks where we went on hiking and canoeing overnight trips. Since then I have done a lot of backpacking in the Adirondacks (way upstate NY, the largest state park in the lower 48!), then in Maine when I was in college and in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico at other various times. During high school and college I spent my summers working outdoors, either leading kids on day and overnight trips or building new trails in the woods of Northern Maine.

What is your favorite camping memory?My favorite camping memory is probably impossible to narrow down from the genuinely good times, and the bad times that are funny and memorable now in retrospect! So here are a top few: 1) climbing the highest mountain in Colorado and the 2nd highest in the lower 48, Mt. Elbert at 14,440 ft with a group of students at the school I taught at the High Mountain Institute. 2) Camping in the canyon lands of Southeast Utah and getting to rappel down into some very narrow slot canyons, also with students from HMI. 3) Winter camping (sort of!) in a beautiful cabin outside of Leadville, CO and waking up to a bluebird sky and fresh snow to ski!

Where is your favorite place to go camping?I love camping in the Rocky Mountains and anywhere out west. The mountains are much bigger, the weather is better (minus those summer thunderstorms) and there are MANY fewer bugs! I love the East Coast but unfortunately Colorado has them beat on the camping front. 

What are you top 10 tips for new campers and non-outdoorsy people?Most, if not all, of the camping I have done has been away from the "campground" area of cars, picnic tables and the ever-handy port-a-potty, so I will give tips for those who venture a bit further into the woods:

         1) Accept that fact that you will have to poop in the woods. Holding it for anything more than a day is not fun.

        2) Follow Leave No Trace rules. This is the number one thing we taught our students, and they are really so important for everyone to enjoy the outdoors equally. Your goal when camping should be to minimize your impact as much as possible; this includes the obvious such as taking out your garbage with you and respecting the wildlife to less obvious things as keeping your voice down and only camping on durable surfaces (dirt, rock etc.). If you venture into the woods it is imperative you read and follow the LNT principles!
        3) Make sure you have planned ahead, know where you are going, and have the appropriate means to get there, i.e., maps! and a compass! Hiking boots! or skis!
        4) Obviously showering is not an option in most places, so I like to bring face wipes with me to clean off the dirt and sweat before I cozy up in my sleeping bag. Baby wipes are also nice for you know where, although remember, you have to pack them out :)
        5) Portable games are always fun. Popular options are a deck of cards, but my favorite camping game is Yahtzee. All you need are dice and a score sheet!
       6) Always bring a rain jacket. Even if the weather report says no rain for a month, if you don't bring a jacket, it WILL rain. Murphy's Law or something along those lines.
       7) Along that idea, lots of clothing layers. Remember: you are sleeping outside, it could get pretty cold, and then dewy in the morning, and then sunny during the day. We often don't appreciate the swing in temperature while living indoors.

       8) Leave your iPod at home! This is one of my personal pet peeves and yes, I have seen people hiking with they’re ipods and headphones! Don't get me wrong, I love me my ipod and some bad (good) top 40. But I believe the reason that most of us want to go camping is to get away from whatever it is we do on a daily basis and get away from the increasingly technological world we all live in. Listening to music I think prohibits you from fully living in the moment when in the wilderness and would distract you from taking in your surroundings with all five senses.
       9) Comfy shoes to change into if you've been walking all day, or dry shoes to change into when it's been raining. Keeping your feet happy outside is the key to keeping YOU happy.

     10) Stop and take pictures!

and #11) Eat well! Just because you are outside doesn't mean you have to eat Velveeta and pepperoni sticks exclusively. I make a mean back country calzone and cinnamon rolls!

As for food, it really depends how involved you are getting! When I was younger, I was totally fine with Rice a Roni, Velveeta Mac and Cheese along with the token salami stick and cheese block. All standard, easy to cook items from your supermarket. But as I get older, (especially when 14 day long expeditions are part of your job) you need to spice things up. Very many things can be done with a few basic elements (dry pasta, flour, beans etc) and a very complete spice kit! Some things I've cooked up while camping are: calzones, pizza, baked ziti, scones, cinnamon rolls, a kind of beany-cheesy pie type thing that was amazing, but made my co-works a bit gassy the next day. The best resource for making a lot out of a little is this cookbook: .

as a off-shoot: The NOLS organization is really amazing, they focus on leadership skills in the wilderness and lead so many different types of trips all over the world. They take all kinds of people as well, corporate executives, high schoolers, adults and a good friend of mine even lead a Special Forces group. She said they were very fast hikers!

Do you have recommended products (like food, equipment, clothing or beauty products)?This is what I have to say for equipment, because this could be an entire BOOK (you know I love shopping, right? Yeah, it gets worse with outdoor gear) . When cotton gets wet, it never dries. Stick to polyesters and other fabrics that will dry quickly. Make sure any boots or shoes you bring out with you are broken in sufficiently. Alternately, bring a good first aid kit with blister supplies!

Some of my favorite companies: Patagonia, Marmot, GoLite (very lightweight gear!) and the best hiking boots ever made by a company called Asolo. Mine have lasted for 5 years+! Lastly, I bring a superlite, special camping umbrella with me everywhere. I've decided it's the best way to stay dry.

Thank you so much Sara. I feel enlightened and motivated to get out there and experience a whole new world. :)
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