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Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho: A Perfect Summer Roadtrip

Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho: A Perfect Summer Roadtrip

The Sawtooth National Forest near the Sun River Valley in Idaho is a perfect summer getaway for those who live on the West Coast. Why go to Sawtooth National Forest, you may ask? Not only does it lack the massive crowds that most other national parks have, but it also offers equally stunning hikes and activities.

Skip to the four day itinerary at the bottom if you want to go straight to the logistics!

Never heard of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho? Me either.

My friend in Utah and I were looking for a nice halfway vacation in between Portland and Salt Lake City. When I opened google maps and scanned the geography, I saw that the Sawtooth National Forest was right smack dab between Oregon and Utah. read more

Is Living in Big City America Worth it?

Is Living in Big City America Worth it?

photo credit: Pranav Bhatt via photopin cc
photo credit: Pranav Bhatt via photopin cc

Why Big City L.A. Sucks… Traffic

I apologize, I haven’t updated in almost a month. Aside from my terrible job and daily four hour commute (yes, you read that correctly, four hours), I have been busy with my favorite hobby:



When I was younger, all I could think about was how to get out of the United States rather than travel in it. The arches of Moab are nothing compared to the Great Wall of China, I sighed. The Grand Canyon simply pales in comparison to the intellectual beauty of Paris’ Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysses.

Now that I’m back in the states, I have a new found respect for my homeland. Since I’ll be in the USA for at least two or three years, I figure that now is the best time to discover the great wilderness that is the United States.

Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I went on a road trip across the Southwestern United States stopping at the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Park and Las Vegas.

But today I’m not writing about Utah or Arizona—today, I’m writing about:


Boise, The City of Trees

My best friend relocated to Boise for work, and much to my surprise she gave me a raving review of the place.  I had to go and see it for myself.

Hip bars, countless breweries, a lively downtown, abundance of nature, friendly folk and most of all—trees.


If there’s one thing Mary loves more than anything, it’s trees. And lots of them. Since I grew up in the deserts of Utah, my lust for green, lush environments will never be satiated. While California may have gorgeous beaches, it’s definitely lacking in green (California is basically a desert with an ocean next to it).

Idaho has what California cannot give me:


IMG_20141109_132239428_HDR IMG_20141108_113151032


Some of the fall foliage in Boise was comparable to that of Japan. Blood red trees, golden yellow leaves and hues of sunrise and sunset splashed across the plains of Boise.


Parks filled with laughing families, flying geese and lakes full of wildlife; a bustling downtown with an endearing farmer’s market, friendly pubs with bartenders boasting of their local ale, and multiple local getaways including a hot springs resort within an hour’s drive.


“I had no idea Boise was so… hip, cool and friendly,” I said to the bartender as I sipped on the Pumpkin ale she recommended me. “This place is a hidden gem.”

“Let’s keep it that way,” she winked before scurrying off to serve another customer.



My lust for big city America is gone.

When I was young, I wanted to move to Los Angeles so badly. For a small town girl like me, neighboring Los Angeles was full of diversity, culture and glamour. When I found out that I couldn’t afford out-of-state tuition to attend college in Los Angeles, I literally broke down on the floor and sobbed. I’ll never leave backwater Utah, I cried, I’ll never make it to the big city.

Now, I yearn for Utah. No traffic, affordable housing, nice people and nature?

Yes, please.

Alternatives to Big City America

Lately I’ve been reading statistics for millenials, and they aren’t pretty.

If you have $10,000 in savings, then congratulations—you’re richer than most millenials.

On top of that, most Americans make under $19.00/hour.  That’s about $35,000 a year if you work full time.

With these startling statistics, it’s ironic to see that millenials are moving into Big City America in droves, causing rent to soar and housing prices to reach unrealistic numbers.

A one bedroom apartment in San Francisco can set you back $1-2k a month—minimum. The same applies to Los Angeles. Tack on the price of car and insurance, and you can kiss $2,500 dollars of your paycheck goodbye. If you only make $35,000 annually then that’s, what… 90% of your paycheck?

So why don’t more people move to amazing places like Boise? I thought, while I sipped on my local Boise brew in one of the hippest Gastropubs I’ve ever set foot in. Good food, good beer, good people and a thriving local community and art scene? Isn’t this what millenials want?

Good Beer be Had in Boise
Good Beer be Had in Boise
Yes, this is a frozen ice cup
Yes, this is a frozen ice cup
Cute, hip coffee joints in Boise
Cute, hip coffee joints in Boise

Living in a place like Boise not only cuts your cost of living in half with low rent, but it also improves your peace of mind. Kiss those one hour commutes goodbye and say hello to more time to yourself. Stress free communities with nearby hiking trails, hot springs, and glorious nature?

Hot Springs in a sea of trees a Quick Drive Away
Hot Springs in a sea of trees a Quick Drive Away

Boise is ranked as one of the best cities to move to in 2014 to live in the United States. In terms of beer, it ranks with the big dogs Seattle and Portland in for local craft breweries.

See, Boise has good beer!
See, Boise has good beer!

Still, I know some of us aren’t suited for the simple Boise life. Maybe you need a place that can offer more than Boise. You need throngs of people, culture, diversity—you need a real city.

Forget San Francisco, New York and L.A. and just..

Move Abroad

Think you Can't Afford Tokyo?  Think again.
Think you Can’t Afford Tokyo? Think again.

In Shanghai, I had a NYC lifestyle for half the cost. I paid $500/monthly for my apartment in the heart of the city. I had an expansive and affordable metro system at my fingertips, and a dirt-cheap taxi backup for those late nights out. I was surrounded by 4,000 skyscrapers (more than anywhere in the world), Fortune 500 companies, and a diverse crowd of ex-pats and locals.

Shanghai makes Los Angeles look like a kiddie wading pool. Even Anthony Bourdain said that it can give New York a run for its money.

In Shanghai I dined at the finest restaurants, enjoyed cocktails on top of the world and danced at some of the world’s best nightclubs—for a fraction of what it would cost in L.A. or NYC.

Drink at a bar with this view for 16 bucks
Drink at a bar with this view for 16 bucks

And it’s not just Shanghai. Many large cities in the world are far more affordable than what the U.S. can offer.

Istanbul, Seoul, Bangkok, Shanghai, Taiwan, Berlin—even Tokyo is more affordable than Los Angeles or San Francisco (finding a decent apartment in Tokyo city proper for under 1,000 USD is very doable).

How about Bangkok?  Affordable apartments with rooftop pools!
How about Bangkok? Affordable apartments with rooftop pools!

It’s no surprise that more Americans than ever are relocating abroad for retirement.

I say… why what?

Living abroad may sound expensive, but actually, it’s far more affordable than big city America.. and definitely more fun.

And while I’m not recommending all Americans forever flee the homeland, I do honestly believe that everyone should live abroad at least once.  It’s an amazing, life-changing experience.