Getting Centered in Chiang Mai

2016-12-07-11-39-27 To say month ten got off to a rough start would be an understatement. Traveling for a year doesn’t come without challenges, and I hit my breaking point at the beginning of our month in Chiang Mai.

I knew something was going to have to give eventually due to a variety of things going on the previous months. There was drama within the group, work challenges and uncertainty and just a general unhappiness with where I was after nine months of travel. This was supposed to be one of the best years of my life, so why did I feel so disconnected and unhinged?

Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with all of this alone. I connected with a mentor back home who served as a sounding board for me to start to understand why I was feeling the way I was. My mom was also visiting for the first couple weeks, giving me an easy way to put some space, and perspective, between me and my travel life.

2016-12-06-14-42-53-hdr-1During my mom’s visit we explored all sorts of cafes and restaurants in downtown Chiang Mai. She’s a coffee lover, so every morning she would go explore a new cafe. Then for dinner, we’d go share some fresh rolls, she’d have her vodka and I’d have my dirty martini. It was a pretty great routine.

The second week she was there we rented a car and went to Pai for a couple day excursion. We first night we explored the night market before heading to bed early. The next day we found a local guy who offered to drive us around to see the main sights. After that, we found the one and only wine and cheese bar and camped out for a final sunset before driving back down the mountain. Before she went back to Arizona we also spent a day playing with the most adorable family of elephants at a sanctuary outside of the city, a huge bucket list item for my mom.

It was so interesting seeing my 2016-12-10-10-57-54mom’s appreciation and excitement for every small experience during her trip. It’s sad, but to a certain degree, I feel that I’ve become desensitized to so many of the small wonders of travel. We’ve been inundated by so many amazing things this year that it becomes easy to take them for granted. It helped me remember to try and appreciate even the small things, because this year will be over before I know it.

The first few weeks of the month I was also able to get back into some semblance of a physical activity routine, something I’ve learned this year is absolutely critical to my overall happiness. What better way to do that than punching and kicking shit like a boss? Yes, I’m now basically a pro Muay Thai fighter thanks to R Boxing Club. The world should be worried.

2016-12-05-20-07-21-1Chiang Mai was also a great running city. Chiang Mai University was about a mile outside of the city, providing a green and beautiful road for me to train and get ready for my race at the end of the month.

The race itself was amazing. I’m not sure why, it could have been the gross jelly Gu stuff I had during the race, the fact that the sun was down the whole run, the fact that the course was mostly flat, or the inner drive to prove that I still had it in me, but I felt like I flew through the course. I ended up placing 9th out of my age/gender group (<30 females) with a time of 1:54.

Alongside the quality time with Madre, taking up Muay Thai and training, I also started meditating (again). All of these things came together to help me feel revitalized and ready to go into the last two months of Remote Year feeling confident and more centered. Let’s do this.

With love, Paige

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The #almostthreepeaks challenge

2016-07-10-12-11-05-1July was possibly one of the craziest months on Remote Year so far. We were based in London after our initial plan to be in Istanbul was changed early on in the program. For most of us, this wasn’t entirely a welcomed change.

After spending four months completely out of our element in Spanish-speaking countries, we
were going to be in London, one of the most Americanized cities in Europe, in my opinion. Due to this, lots of people went home or took side trips, which meant there were always people coming and going. My month was no exception.

2016-07-09-20-48-12-2After my short trip back to Maine, I arrived in London reinvigorated and ready to explore. I ended up joining last minute on a trip that would come to be known as the #almostthreepeaks challenge. The actual three peaks challenge is to hike the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland in 24 hours. No easy feat, but hey, gotta love those rose-colored glasses.

The first bump in the road was when it took us about four hours just to get to the airport and rent the car. I believe we took somewhere between 5-6 trains and buses before finally getting to our destination. From there, we had another six-hour drive to Wales, our first stop. When we woke up the next day, it was pouring rain with no end in sight. We’d made it this far though and we were going to hike the mountain, rain or not.

2016-07-10-11-25-41After four hours, the six of us were completely drenched and frozen to the core. We immediately huddled back in our van and found the closest restaurant to warm up and reassess our weekend goals. Initially, we had intended to continue on and hike a second mountain that day, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. At this point, the only dry clothes the boys had to wear were ours.

We decided to opt out of the mountain in Scotland and continue onto England to hike the third mountain the following day. We found a cozy hostel next to the water after lots of calls to different places along our route. After an amazing Indian dinner, we went to bed early to prepare for another early start and long day. While it wasn’t raining when we woke up, the wind and fog was beyond anything I had ever seen.

2016-07-09-17-48-40To provide some additional motivation as we trekked up mountain number three, there was actually a marathon happening on the same path we were hiking. So, a few of us dug down and found some energy to ran down the mountain, splashing through the puddles and trying not to tumble the whole way down. While there may have been times I thought I was going to collapse or be blown straight off the mountain, the whole experience was wildly exhilarating.

At the end of the day, we ended up only hiking 1.5 of the three mountains, but it was an adventure nonetheless. We celebrated our relative success with wine and pizza in the van all the way back to London.

With love, Paige

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A welcomed homecoming

When I joined Remote Year, I never had any intention of going home during our year adventure. I got to globe trot and roam around the world for a year, why would I want a break from that?!

2016-07-02-14-33-06-2As we came to the end of our fourth month, though, I could feel myself getting a little too wrapped up in the craziness of the travel, side trips, new friends and trying to balance all of that with my work at Hopscratch.

So, when I found out that my brother would be visiting my dad back in Maine, my home state, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to take a break and reset.

My travel home, which included five different legs, proved I was in dire need for some rest and relaxation. I managed to sleep through my three flights, one bus ride and one drive home, totaling about 24 hours of travel/complete dead sleep.

Side note: avoid going through Florida when you come back into the country. It took me almost three hours to go through customs and then check back in for my flight to Boston.

I could have cried when I finally got home. There are no words to explain the happiness of seeing my family and laying in my own bed. Normally, I sleep about six to eight hours a night. Almost every night I was home, I slept 12 hours and still had to drag myself out of bed.

2016-07-02-15-55-21The week I was home was also Fourth of July, which meant extra celebrations and quality time. We roamed down to the Old Port where I got to see more family and then to the lake for a little holiday fiesta.

My advice? If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, especially with a group as large as our Cousteau Remote Year family, take time to reset and be by yourself.

It’s so incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the go, go, go lifestyle and lose touch with what’s most important to you. Going home gave me some time to reflect on why I decided to go on this adventure and reminded me to make sure, despite being pulled in so many directions, I stay true to myself.

Oh, I also got to eat all the lobster, which is clearly the most important part of this whole post.

With love, Paige

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The story of nine Remotes, five days, 75 km and a lifetime supply of Snickers

The majority of the tourists who came through Cusco were only there for about a week. This is just enough time to land, stay a night or two, then head off to trek to Machu Picchu, come back, and take off for their next destination. Traditionally, people tend to do the Inca Trail, the original trail hiked to Machu Picchu.

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The Inca Trail tends to be incredibly crowded and a bit more expensive, so a few of us started discussing doing another trail called the Salkantay Trail. We had heard it was longer, harder, less crowded, less expensive and more spiritual. For the adventure type like myself, that sounded like a pretty good deal. So, I ended up organizing three Remote Year groups who would leave on consecutive days to trek the 75 km to beautiful Machu Picchu.

My group, which consisted of eight other Remotes and myself, started on June 16th, 2016, and we reached Machu Picchu on Monday, June 20th. Here’s a look at my experience over those five days.

Day 1: Our first day we were picked up bright and early from our houses, mine at the time was R House. We drove a few hours  to the starting point in Challacancha and then completed a short three to four hike from there to Soraypampa, our camping ground for the first night. Once we arrived at camp, we hiked to a lake at the top of the mountain, which a few of our boys actually jumped into despite the freezing temperatures. The highlight of the first night was definitely the glass-roofed igloos we slept in out in the middle of nowhere. We could see all the stars covering the sky while we dozed off in bed. Our boys also made a bonfire where we congregated a bit before we all crawled into our igloos to rest up for Day 2.

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Day 2: We were told this would be the hardest day. Looking back now, I definitely don’t agree. But, that’s not to say it was any stroll in the park. The first half of the day was basically straight uphill with the highest elevation hitting 4,650 meters. That’s no joke, especially since we hiked 22 km that day. We took quite a few snack breaks and eventually made it up to the top where we had a small ceremony to give our thanks to Pachamama, the earth goddess. After we poured out one for Pachamama, we took a ceremonial swig of some rough alcohol, made a small cairn of rocks we gathered along the hike and then continued on. After this, it was mostly downhill, which was definitely little rough on the knees. Eventually, we all made it down to the first lunch stop. We ate some delicious food, took a quick nap and continued on. At this point, we were moving into more jungle landscapes, which meant more bugs and humidity. JP, Eric and I took up the lead and got to camp first where we promptly purchased some wine, beer and snacks. That night our group joined the rest of camp to watch one of the soccer playoff games and then crash out in our tents with a nice little buzz to fend off the cold.

original_url: 51FB1A92-4BB0-4C64-B5F2-7123D43E0EF9Day 3: We had another early wakeup call to prepare for the full day ahead of us. We actually had a cake for breakfast, which was fun surprise. After breakfast, our tour guide Freddy told the group to “follow guide Paige,” and then wasn’t seen until our lunch stop. Despite the lack of guidance, our group powered ahead and successfully found our way. This was my favorite day, personally. Once we found the actual trail, it was basically a rolling path along the side of a mountain with small waterfalls leading down to the river that flowed alongside us. JP, Eric and I again took up the lead and ran a good portion of the day. During one of our stops, we got to hangout with a very friendly and hungry donkey, which was incredibly entertaining. We found out firsthand that giving a donkey an apple will quickly cause a rain storm of apple juice, so that was fun. Along the path some of the guys also found strawberries, passion fruits, avocados and bananas that we were snacking on along the way. After a long morning, we finally came to our lunch spot where we kicked off our shoes and enjoyed some delicious food by our local chefs. Lunch also included beer since our hiking was done for the day and we were heading off to spend the afternoon at the local hot springs. We relaxed in the springs and then headed back to camp for a boozy dinner, an awkward interaction with our tour guide and an early night to bed.

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Day 4: It could have been the alcohol the night before, or maybe it was the humidity, but Day 4 was by far my least favorite day of the trek. The morning we hiked what seemed like straight uphill through coffee plantations. Every time we hit what I thought was a downhill reprieve, it was just the mountain teasing us. Finally, after lots of moments close to tears, we hit the top of the mountain where we could see the waterfall in the distance that marked our lunch stopping point. The lovely part of going straight uphill for hours is that eventually you’ll have to come straight back down. And I’m not talking gentle rolling downhills. This was like straight downhill; use your poles of you were going to fall on your face sort of downhills. Nonetheless, we finally made it to the lunch spot where we all sat sullenly eating our lunch. Thankfully, we had a quick nap break in some hammocks outside of the restaurant before continuing on. The afternoon portion of the trek ended up being my least favorite part of the entire five days. We spent the four hours walking on a rocky path along train tracks all the way to our next stopping point in Aguas Calientes. There was really no change of scenery and all of us were in some sort of pain. About halfway through, I started carrying my backpack by my side because my back was in so much pain, another one of our guys kept having to run to the bathroom because of stomach problems, another one was limping due to the massive blisters he had developed from the three previous days; you get the idea, we were a hot mess. Finally, FINALLY, we made it to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. We all immediately broke off and went to grab drinks, went to the hotel or just roamed around before we had a big group dinner later that night. We were told we’d have a three or four o’clock in the morning wake up call, so the majority of us called it an early night and passed out.

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Day 5: Our handicapped group decided to bus the trek up and down from Machu Picchu. We got to the top of the mountain right as it opened. Our guide, who had mostly stayed away from us due to some unfortunate interactions, gave us a rapid-fire 30-minute tour around the grounds and then said he had to take off to make his bus home. So, there we were, with a noon reservation to hike Huayna Picchu, the mountain in the back of the iconic Machu Picchu photos, and about five hours to kill. As most of us were sick of each other by this point, we broke off into groups and roamed around looking at all the amazing passageways, structures and buildings in the city. For a while, we just watched the clouds roll in and out of the valley. With every few minutes, the entire view would change. Finally, it was time for us to hike up to the precipice. Imagine the most insufferable set of tiny stairs that just kept going up, up, up. That was basically Huayna Picchu. But, it sure as hell was worth it. It gives me chills just thinking about getting to the top and looking out of Machu Picchu and the journey to get there. This was truly the climax of the trek for me. After we made it to the top, we were mentally exhausted and decided it was time to drink, play cards and hang out until our train back home where we continued to drink, play cards and hang out for a few more hours. After the train, we had another few hour car ride back to Cusco where we all half-asleep dragged our smelly selves out of the van, into our homes and into bed. I was exhausted, but there are no words to explain how incredibly grateful I was for such an amazing experience with such an amazingly diverse and talented group of individuals.

2016-06-20 10.53.28As for the Snickers bar reference, our group apparently has a massive sweet tooth, because Snickers were the coveted snack along the trek. Each day, we would bring a few and celebrate hitting the highest point or finishing a difficult part of the trek with a delicious nutty chocolate bar. Between this and the amazing food served to us for each meal, I don’t think I attained my goal of losing any weight during the experience, but hey, what can ya do.

Moral of the story, I have no doubt that when I look back on Remote Year, this five-day adventure will stand out as one of my most memorable and challenging experiences, and I wouldn’t trade any of the horribly ugly blisters or tan lines for a single minute of it.

With love, Paige

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Baked Oats Variations & Sauce

For those who know me, they know that during the summer months I ate Overnight Oats like it was a religion. I was absolutely obsessed.

Now that it’s gotten colder though, cold oats in the morning just don’t do the trick. That’s why I decided to try out my Triple-Chocolate Baked Oats last week. Since then, I’ve gotten creative with how to change up this easy and delicious recipe. Here are a couple of my latest recipes!

Cinnamon Apple Baked Oats

Baked Oats Base Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons all natural sugar & stevia blend
  • 1/4 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 medium banana mashed
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt

Instructions: Turn your oven on to 375 degrees. While that heats up, spray a single-serving ramekin with coconut oil so your baked oats won’t stick. Then, mix all dry ingredients in the ramekin. Mix in wet ingredients once combined. After mixture is combined, add in creative variation (suggestions listed below). Make sure all additives are covered so the baking doesn’t dry them out.

Once the oven is heated up, cover the oats with tinfoil and put the oats in for 20 minutes. Uncover the oats and cook for another 5 minutes. Once it’s somewhat golden/crispy on top, take it out and let it cool for a minute. Then enjoy either straight from the ramekin or transfer to another plate.

Here are the two variations that I’ve experimented with this week (both of which were delicious):

  • Blueberry & Coconut
    • 1/4 cup blueberries
    • Add in a tablespoon of coconut
    • A small amount of coconut to put on top the oats
    • Dash of cinnamon to top the oats
  • Cinnamon Apple & Raisin
    • Chop up 1/4 cup worth apple of choice
    • Add in a tablespoon of raisins
    • A couple small slices of apple to top the oats
    • Dash of cinnamon to top the oats

Vanilla Cinnamon Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ISO100 vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • Cinnamon to taste

Instructions: Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl. Add additional protein powder if you’d like a thicker consistency. Once the oats have been placed upside down on a plate, slowly pour the sauce on the oats. Top the oats with the necessary additives based on the recipe you’re following.

Then sit back and enjoy! What creative combinations have you come up with?

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Vanilla Protein Fluff Crepes

This might be one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s the official start of the holiday season, which means spending time with family and lots of delicious food!

This year for Thanksgiving, I’m in Maine visiting my dad. So, of course, we had to whip up is crepes for breakfast. Yum, right?

Unfortunately, it seems like everyone has some sort of dietary restriction. Between the five of us, we had to find a way to make our crepes Gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free. Quite the task, right?

Well, we got a little creative and made some of the most delicious crepes I’ve ever had. On top of that, the crepes were just under 90 calories a piece!

Crepe Ingredients:Crepe with Almonds, Protein Fluff, Coconut and White Chocolate

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup banana pureed (about 1 large banana)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions: Puree 1/2 cup banana and mix in flour. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and mix until smooth. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and scoop ~1/4 cup batter for each crepe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so the batter coats the surface evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes until golden brown and then flip until golden brown. Serve immediately. Makes about 7 crepes.

Then, I decided if we were going to have crepes, I absolutely had to try making protein fluff. I always see delicious pictures of it on Instagram, so it was time to experiment.

Vanilla Protein Fluff Ingredients: 

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Instructions: Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. After that, place in a large bowl and whip with an electric or hand mixer until the fluff is light and sort of gooey. Enjoy immediately.

The protein fluff was a complete success, and so delicious! I added the fluff, almonds, white chocolate pieces and shredded coconut to my crepes. Rolled them up and enjoyed these delicious treats for a healthy (and sweet) post-workout breakfast!

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Triple-Chocolate Baked Oats

There’s nothing like a rainy morning to make you want to have something warm and delicious for breakfast. And considering how infrequently that happens in Arizona, I felt the need to make the most of it today.

That’s what spurred my new single-serving Triple-Chocolate Baked Oats recipe. I looked up some single-serving recipes that I could sort of following and stumbled upon this delicious looking cookie dough baked oatmeal recipe.

Considering some of my new dietary restrictions and obsessions, I decided to switch it up a bit and make it into my own creation. That’s how I ended up with this amazing (and protein packed) breakfast.

Triple-Chocolate Baked Oats

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons all natural sugar & stevia blend
  • 1/4 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 medium banana mashed
  • 1/2 Double Chocolate Quest Bar
  • 1 teaspoon semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Dash of salt

Instructions: Turn your oven on to 375 degrees. While that heats up, spray a single-serving ramekin with coconut oil so your baked oats won’t stick. Then, mix all dry ingredients in the ramekin. Mix in wet ingredients once combined. After mixture is combined, cut up quest bar into small pieces and mix into the oats. Make sure the pieces are all fully covered so the baking doesn’t dry them out.

Once the oven is heated up, cover the oats with tinfoil and put the oats in for 20 minutes. Uncover the oats and cook for another 5 minutes. Once it’s somewhat golden/crispy on top, take it out and let it cool for a minute. Then enjoy either straight from the ramekin or transfer to another plate.

Nutrition: 333 Calories, 7.5g Fat, 13g Fiber, 19g Sugar, 17g Protein

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Kale & Pomegranate Salad Recipe

Decided to get a little crazy and buy a pomegranate for the first time yesterday at the store. I saw this recipe on Instagram a while ago and thought it looked amazing, so I wanted to create my own version!

I’ve also been on a kale-kick lately (like most people right now) but I hadn’t perfected how to use it in a salad. What I figured out was that if you cut the kale into thin strips and massage it with 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, it softens it up so that its easy to eat and tastes delicious!

Salad Ingredients: 

  • 2 large leaves of kaleKale Salad
  • 6 chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon feta
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup basmati & wild rice mix
  • 1 tablespoon raisins

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I would probably use 2 tablespoons next text to make the dressing a little thicker)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions: Chop the kale up into thin pieces and massage with 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Let sit for about 10 minutes before using. Chop up almonds (if you’re using whole almonds) into smaller pieces and set aside. For the dressing, mix all ingredients together and microwave for 15 seconds. Mix and set in the fridge for about 10 minutes. For the rice, I had leftovers that I just went ahead and heated up.

After the dressing has cooled and kale is set, place kale on a large plate. Arrange toppings on the salad however you want, I thought it looked fun with them in different groups, and then drizzle the dressing on top. Your masterpiece is now prepared and ready to be enjoyed!

Feel free to share your unique variation of this delicious salad!

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