Central America Packing List


Granada, Nicaragua

On of our favorite places to travel to is Central America and fortunately we get to spend time there every couple of years. It is, after all, where Steve and I met. Sometimes our trips are short ten day trips and other times they are a month or longer, but what I’ve found is that you don’t need to pack more just because your trip is longer. Just pack smarter!

Our upcoming trip is both business and pleasure, but realistically there will be more business. We’ll be scoping out sites for an upcoming yoga and surf retreat. And we’ll be spending our time connecting with the local yogis and surf instructors, meeting with retreat organizers, and local business owners. So we will need gear for business and fun. I was really hoping to be able to take just a carry on backpack, but I will be taking yoga photos and unfortunately I will have to do my hair at least one day on the trip, so I’m begrudgingly bringing a hairdryer and straightener (which I would honestly never suggest bringing, who wants to blow dry their hair when it’s 90+ degrees out!). This trip I will be lugging around extras like: a yoga mat and yoga clothes, a camera, gorilla pod, laptop, phone…. you get the picture. I will be amazed and ecstatic if I can get it to all fit in a carry on bag. I believe in  MIRACLES!!!!

A waterfall on the Ruta de las Flores in El Salvador

A waterfall on the Ruta de las Flores in El Salvador

So I put together this Central America Packing List partially to help myself when it comes to packing for our trip, but to also help others with packing for their upcoming trips to Central America. This list is more geared toward those who will be backpacking/flashpacking in Central America or who will be going on a yoga/surf holiday.


First off let’s talk organization. If you can find a way to organize your stuff that makes sense you will spend far less time digging through your luggage and getting frustrated because you can’t find what you’re looking for. When I first started traveling I used ziploc bags, they’re super lightweight and they’re see-through, so you know exactly what’s in them. Now that I’m getting older, I’ll be 30 in just over a month, I’ve upgraded my organization system and I love it!!! Here’s what I use:

Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack(2)
Eagle Creek Pack-It Half Cube (1) and Pack-It Half Tube Cube(1)
REI small compression sack (1) for dirty clothes
Plan A Backpack: Kelty Redwing 40 Internal Frame Pack
Plan B Backpack:Gregory Women’s Jade 60 Backpack
Plastic folder for important documents, receipts, itineraries, etc. (1)
Crappy canvas beach bag (1)

The Sea to Summit bags kick major ass! They’re heavy duty. They won’t tear and they’ll keep your clothes dry even when the rest of your bag is soaked. In my opinion, they are worth every single cent. They’re a little heavier than some of the other dry bags, but really it’s negligible and they’ll pack your clothes down nice and small. If you’re getting one make sure it’s the right size. I usually use one for tops and one for bottoms. I’ll also be using my Eagle Creek half cube for all of my toiletries, sunscreen, etc. and my half tube for all of my little electronics and miscellaneous cords and chargers. This system worked perfectly for our Southeast Asia trip, so I’m assuming it will work just as well this time around.


1 Pair of quick drying socks like Smartwool’s PhD socks
3 pairs of underwear, my faves for traveling are still ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Lacy Low Rise Bikini
Bra (1)
Swimsuits (2)
Sarong (1)
Shorts (2) I’m packing my Roxy Board Shorts and my new Nike Women’s Boyfriend Shorts
Tank tops (3) (cheapies from Target)
Dresses (1-2) (lightweight, wrinkle resistant)
T-shirt (1)(lightweight cotton or wicking)
Long sleeve cardigan or zip-up (1)
Rain jacket/poncho like Patagonia’s Torrentshell (1)
Pants (1)(lightweight, quick drying); I’m loving my prAna Halle Pants

The fun part… deciding what clothes to pack. This is always tough for me because I like options, but then I end up wearing the same thing day after day. 3 pairs of underwear is all you will need for any trip (if there is water available for washing) and I still swear by ExOfficio’s Give and Go panties. They are ridiculously quick drying and they’re virtually stain resistant, which is awesome when you get traveller’s diarrhea… seriously accidents happen. And I still love my Roxy Fold-over Boardies….they’re so comfy…although not exactly practical for surfing…I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t stay on in a big wave. And if you’ve been reading my blog you’ve probably heard me rave about the importance of a sarong and it’s multiple uses: skirt, dress, towel, beach blanket, privacy screen, etc…. you get the picture. Don’t worry if you don’t have one…pretty much any major beach destination will have them for sale. Steve and I will be in Nicaragua during shoulder season, May unfortunately is the first month of their rainy season, so I’ll be lugging a rain jacket with me, although an umbrella would do the trick too. But I’m bringing a jacket in case we get caught in a rainstorm while hiking or something. I’m also packing one pair of pants, hoping that I don’t need to wear them. I’ve been loving my PrAna Halle pants…. they’re water resistant, can be turned into capris, and they don’t look as ridiculous as most “travel” pants.


1 pair of trail runners/sneakers (old ones that you’d be okay with leaving behind)
1 pair of flip-flops (like Havaianas), Tevas or Chaco Sandals

I think these are pretty self explanatory: Old sneakers for muddy trails and climbing on rocks and sandals for everything else. The only downside to flip-flops is they’re not so great for climbing over rocks or on muddy paths. If you brought a pair of Tevas/Chacos, you could get away with not even packing sneakers (or socks for that matter). Awesome!


Sunscreen 30 SPF and 15 SPF
Moisturizer/after sun lotion
Ultra-moisturizing conditioner like Alba Botanica Hawaiian Cocoa Butter Conditioner
Minimal make-up (Diorshow Blackout Waterproof Mascara, NARS Duo Eyeshadow, eye lash curler, Burt’s Bees lip balm, Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer, blush) and know that you won’t wear it.
Body wash
Coconut oil for face, skin, and hair
Wide-tooth comb
Kiss My Face Moisture Shave (3.4 Oz.)
Compact mirror
Lunette Menstrual Cup
Alba Botanica Natural 3-in-1 Clean Towellettes or other gentle wipe
Nail clippers
Castille soap
Small first-aid kit
Pain meds (Arnica, Ibuprofen, Blue Magic, and Excedrin)
Bug Repellent
Hair dryer/straightener/curling iron (if you must)

Toiletries always take up more space than you want them to. Alba Botanica’s Cocoa Butter conditioner is AMAZING!!! It’s the only thing that has been able to tame Steve’s crazy frizzy curls. I love it because my hair actually feels moisturized after I rinse it out, silky soft and detangled!!! I don’t think I will even go back to Biolage. I hate wearing makeup in the tropics, so I’m kinda bummed that I will be packing it for this trip, but when I do have to pack it waterproof is definitely the way to go and I swear by the Diorshow Mascara and Tarte concealer…. and Nars always has nice color palettes and they go on so smooth. When I’m at home I use Alba’s pineapple enzyme face wash religiously, but I know that when I travel I can be a bit lazy when it comes to washing my face, so their wipes are the next best thing and they’re a lazy girls best friend. Kiss My Face makes the best shave cream, it’s the smoothest hands down and they make it in a travel size… lucky for us. And finally the Lunette cup…. this was probably my best purchase 0f 2013. I use it every single month now and I only use tampons in an emergency. The Lunette lets you wait up to 12 hours (although I’ve gone longer) before changing it, so it’s perfect for long travel days or even just spending the day at the beach….no more soggy tampons. Seriously get one!!!

Yoga Extras

My trusty million pound Manduka PRO Yoga mat (I might actually take one of my other lighter mats)
Hugger Mugger Eco Bamboo Yoga Towel
booty shorts like my Under Armour HeatGear® Sonic Shorties(2)
Teeki Yoga Pants(1-2)
yoga tanks (2)
sports bras (2)
Calvin Klein Seamless Thong Panty (2)
grapefruit, bergamot, clary sage essential oil blend

I’m torn on whether to pack my Manduka mat or one of my cheapies for this trip. My Manduka is definitely the most comfortable mat I’ve ever practiced yoga on, but I would be pretty bummed if it got lost/stolen…. and it’s pretty heavy. I think it will end up being a last minute decision for me. Between Steve and I we have three of the Hugger Mugger Bamboo towels…. and we need them. We both sweat a ton and they keep our mats from turning into slip and slides…. but they’re kinda bulky, so they may not make it in the bag either. I wonder how my sarong would work as a yoga towel? Under Armour shorties will definitely make it in the bag…. I love them, because they don’t show the cellulite on my butt, they don’t ride up in the front and they pack up nice and small. And I will pack at least one pair of yoga pants, probably my Teeki pants because they also pack up nice and small. And because I’m not quite down with going commando in public I will be packing a couple pairs of seamless thongs, so I won’t have panty lines in yoga class. And I am mildly addicted to my grapefruit, bergamot, clary sage essential oil spray..it’s so lovely and energizing. It’s an instant mood uplifter.

Business Stuff, Electronics, & Miscellaneous

Old Macbook Pro
Old Iphone
Business Cards
Digital Camera (Canon EOS Rebel; Point and shoot)
Ipod Mini
Portable Speaker
Chargers for all devices
Joby GP3 GorillaPod Tripod
Reusable water bottle
Knife (if I’m checking my bag)

I remember the days of electronics free traveling, but I’ll be working on this trip, so I have the privilege to lug around 20 lbs. of gear… okay, maybe not 20 lbs., but it will seem like it. We will have the cameras, GoPro and Gorilla Pod for yoga and surf photos/video and the Macbook for photo editing and blog/website updating, the Ipod and speakers for yoga music and the old Iphone for phone calls, meetings, reservations, etc. And I’ll be packing my kindle for chill out hammock time. Unfortunately, I think these will all be essential for our trip. Whatever you do don’t forget your headlamp!!! It’s Central America… the power goes out…regularly!!!

Travel Docs

Drivers License
Flight Itinerary
Hotel Reservations
Extra Credit Card

Copan Honduras

Copan Ruinas, Honduras



Blood Orange Roasted Tofu and Asparagus

Spring is here!!! Which means asparagus is super cheap at the market. I dug and dug all over the internet for an asparagus recipe that wasn’t the same old same and came across this recipe from Eating Well. I loved that it had some of the asian flavors already in the recipe, but I thought it would be fun to add even more by upping the miso and swapping rice vinegar for balsamic. I had a blood orange in the fridge that I wanted to use up and it was SO amazing in this recipe. I don’t even know if I would make it with a regular navel orange.


Blood Orange Roasted Asparagus and Tofu


juice from one blood orange
16 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch-1 inch cubes
1 1/2 lbs. asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 1/2 T. red miso
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 T. rice vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely sliced
2-3 teaspoons blood orange zest
salt and fresh ground white pepper, to taste
chili flakes, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 450° Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl whisk together 1/2 the olive oil, 1/2 the rice vinegar, and 1/2 the miso. Then add the tofu to the bowl and stir until generously coated.

3. Line cookie sheet with foil and spread the tofu out evenly on top of the foil. Roast the tofu for 15-18 minutes.

4. While the tofu is cooking whisk the remaining olive oil, miso, and rice vinegar with the blood orange zest and blood orange juice.

5. Once the tofu has cooked for 15-18 minutes mix in the asparagus and roast for another 10 minutes, or until the tofu is golden brown and the asparagus is tender.

6. Remove the asparagus and tofu from the oven, place in a large bowl and pour the sauce over it, then add the fresh basil. Stir it all together until evenly coated. Add salt, ground white pepper and chili pepper flakes until desired flavor.


Blackberry Bliss

Summer is right around the corner and we’re excited for long sun-filled days full of mountain biking, hiking, SUP and maybe a little day drinking. I love fresh berries and mint is always so refreshing, so I combined the two into a mojito inspired vodka cocktail and I’m pretty happy with the results!


Hello Summer fun!!!


Serves 2.

6-8 Blackberries
5 Large mint leaves
1 1/2-2 oz. simple syrup
1 whole lime, cut into 6 wedges
3-4 oz. vodka
club soda


1. Using a handheld blender puree the blackberries, mint and simple syrup.

2. Prepare a quart size mason jar by squeezing the juice from the lime wedges into your jar and then toss the wedges in too. Add the vodka, puree and ice. Give it a quick stir and top it with soda water…. if you don’t want to share just divide the ingredients into two pint glasses. This is just as delicious without the vodka too.

3. Enjoy at the park….or on your patio. This recipe is easy to scale up if you’re having a backyard BBQ and want a fun refreshing cocktail that isn’t too sweet.

A Weekend In Bend

So you’re planning a trip to Bend, huh? Maybe you’re coming for the killer mountain biking,  the brewery scene, or maybe just to get some more Vitamin D in your life. Steve and I have been living in Bend for 8 months now and we’re loving every minute of it. Need help deciding what to do on  your Bend holiday? Don’t stress… soon enough you’ll be in Bend. Here ya go! And you’re welcome, in advance.

1. Go Mountain Biking!!!

There are so many trails here and a fair number of them link up to each other. Try out the Deschutes River Trail for some easier trails or head over to Phils if you want to get crazy…. or link them up for an epic day of trail riding. Pine Mountain Sports, Bend Cyclery and Cog Wild are great resources for planning your trip.

Deschutes River Trail Lava Island Falls to Aspen

Mountain bike along the Deschutes River.

2. Get out on the Water!!!

Loose your fear of water and sign up for a kayak lesson with Tumalo Creek. Tumalo Creek is in the Old Mill District and literally right on the Deschutes River. Already comfortable on the water? Check out one of the whitewater trips they offer or try out SUP. I cannot wait for the days to be long and hot, so I can head out to Sparks Lake and Devils Lake for a little SUP action. Tumalo Creek also provides SUP lessons.

SUP at Tumalo Creek

SUP at Tumalo Creek

3. Hit the trail with your own two feet.

Try summiting South Sister or hiking into Green Lakes. You’ll have stunning views of Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Sisters. Legs sore from all the mountain biking? Try out the Deschutes River Trail. There are many loop options in town, but there are also options for out and back hikes that are gentle on aching bodies that take in beautiful waterfalls like Benham and Dillon Falls. Have time for a backpacking trip? Try out the Broken Top Loop or hike into Jefferson Park.

South Sister

The trail to South Sister.

4. Take a yoga class.

Yes, you can do yoga anywhere, but after all of the intense exercise your body will need a good stretch. My favorites: Juniper Yoga for hot sweaty yoga or a juicy yin class, The Yoga Lab for detailed instruction, and Groove Yoga for pumping music and a sweaty good time. Or schedule a private yoga session with Ambuja Yoga or Yoga Indigo.

Yoga at Pioneer Park

Yoga at Pioneer Park

5. Drink beer!!!

Okay this one’s a no-brainer. But if you don’t have time visit them all how do you choose? Well, my favorite is Crux Fermentation. They’re just off of Colorado Ave., east of 97. In my opinion they have the best beer in town…and they DEFINITELY have the best view in town. They have a huge patio and grassy lawn in which to hang out and appreciate the mountain views and chill with friends. Next up is Boneyard, in downtown Bend. They don’t serve food, there is nowhere to sit, and they only serve beer tasters and growler fills…. And Wednesday nights the growler fills are only 7 bucks!!!! BOOM!!! My third fave is Good Life, they have a handful of beers on tap and they have a nice big grassy area to chill and play lawn games…. lawn darts anyone? If you’re feeling particularly boozy try out the Ale Trail, just space it out over a couple of days, so you don’t make an ass out of yourself… we see it all too often.

Crux Fermentation

Crux all lit up at night.

6. Have Breakfast at The Victorian Cafe.

Breakfast at the Vic has got to be one of my favorite meals in town. Let’s start with the Proud Mary, a gigantic bloody mary with a grilled skewer of housemade sausage, cherry tomato, red onion and a prawn topped with a chunk of pepper jack cheese. The Proud Mary also has peperoncinis, green olives and a breadstick. Heaven!!! And for breakfast… eggs benedict. They’re the best in town and the specials are to die for… duck, wild boar, lobster….you name it, the Victorian has done a special with it. And don’t forget the french toast!!!! Warning: you may need to clear your schedule for the rest of the day.

Proud Mary at the Victorian Cafe

The Proud Mary….

7. Pre-hike/mountain bike coffee.

There is only one place in town that I visit regularly for a hot cup of joe and that’s Strictly Organic on Bond and Arizona. They usually have 4 different organic drip coffees available on top of all the foofy drinks. I’m partially addicted to their breakfast burritos (get the green salsa) and it’s one of my favorite places to meet friends for coffee or tea. They also have a patio to soak up the morning sun and a drive-up window for people on the go.

Strictly Organic

Strictly Organic’s patio.

I hope this helps you plan your weekend in Bend. If you have any questions send me a message.

Visit Bend‘s website has great info about things to do in town and a calendar of local events too.

McKenzie River Trail & Clear Lake


Koosah Falls on the McKenzie River

The McKenzie River Trail is a super popular trail in the Cascade Range. It’s one that I’ve always skipped because I love alpine hiking. After a recommendation from one of my coworkers I figured it was about time to give it a shot, especially with all of the higher hikes still covered in snow.

Quick Stats

Distance: ~26 miles one way from end to end; we did a 12 mile loop taking in Koosah Falls, Sahalie Falls, and Clear Lake.

Time: ~ 5 hrs.

Difficulty: easy to moderate (moderate only due to distance)

Permits: None required

Pros: Beautiful waterfalls, whitewater, and a crystal clear lake

Cons: BUSY!!!! We were up there on a Sunday, once we were away from the falls it wasn’t quite as bad

Dog friendly: So-So, On weekdays it would be fine, but there were loads of people on the Waterfalls Trail, not as much fun for the dogs, but Clear Lake had great swimming for them. Part of the trail crosses lava rock on a paved path with no shade, might be too hot for their paws on a really hot day.


View of the McKenzie River Trail…you can see it’s not that strenuous…. unless you’re on a mountain bike.

We started our hike at the Koosah Waterfall parking area off of Hwy. 126/McKenzie Hwy. The well maintained trail winds down to a couple of different viewpoints for Koosah Falls, where you will find loads of people snapping pics, it’s easy to understand why, Koosah Falls is stunning. From there we headed up toward Sahalie Falls, less than a mile away. Both of the waterfalls were gushing, yay springtime, and the McKenzie River is so clear, it is magical.


Sahalie Falls

From the waterfalls the trail follows along the McKenzie river a bit further and then crosses highway 126 for Clear Lake, which is supposed to have the best diving in Oregon. There is a forest, that has been preserved by the cold waters, and you can dive through it/around it. The water in Clear Lake really was crystal clear and it looked deceptively like Caribbean water. So no misnomer here.


Our first glimpse of Clear Lake

Sal and Jedi went for a dip in the chilly water and incidentally Steve and I ended up nearly  soaked after all of their frantic shaking (My prAna Halle Pants saved me). There were a handful of boats out on Clear Lake, just people out fishing, paddling around and enjoying the beautiful weather. I couldn’t help, but think how awesome it would be to take a standup paddleboard out on the lake. This summer for sure!


Typical…Sal playing catch with whatever stick he can find…no matter how cold the water is

We followed the trail around to the opposite side of Clear Lake, where we found a beautiful pool where water enters the lake through the lava rock. Amazing. I love nature. It’s so beautiful and I love how accessible it is in Oregon. We knew that we wanted to hike atleast 10 miles, but were up for more, so we just followed the trail passed the lake. It eventually crossed another road, followed the river for a bit more, and ended at the trailhead.


A little further around the lake….you can really see how clear the water is!!!


Pool where water pours through the lava rock at Clear Lake

For our return hike we followed the path back to Clear Lake, then took the other path that lads around the opposite side, goes around a cove and through the Clear Lake Resort. We were pretty hungry, so we stopped for a snack, almonds, Gin-Gins, dried apricots, carrots, and cherry tomatoes for us and carrots and cherry tomatoes for the pups. They’re suckers for veggies. We continued on the path until it met up with the path that brought us to Clear Lake. We continued back the way we came, across the highway, until we came to a bridge that crosses over the McKenzie River. At this point we were on the Waterfall Loop portion of the Mckenzie River Trail, from here we had the opportunity to see the waterfalls (Sahalie and Koosah) from a different angle.


Crossing the bridge for the Mckenzie River Trail Waterfall Loop

The path follows along the river for a bit further. It then enters a parking area, where if you turn left and cross the bridge you can pick up the trail again just on the other side of the river. From here the rest is easy. Enjoy the views of the river for a bit more and then one last glimpse of Koosah Falls before heading up to the parking area.


Koosah Falls, near the end of our hike.

Note: Portions of the trail are multi-use, which means mountain bikers will be on the trail too. This would be an epic day of mountain biking. There is a shuttle service here too, so you would just have to ride end-to-end. If you’re in the Bend area and don’t want to drive out to the trail, Cog Wild runs a shuttle a couple of days a week.