Yesterday, on the anniversary of the Antiquities Act, lovers of our public lands used their voice via blog posts to express their feelings on President Trump’s Executive Order for Secretary of the Interior Zinke to review 27 of our National Monuments. These monuments protect one of a kind artifacts of human history, endangered species, and unique flora found nowhere else. Whether you’ve visited them or not, they have played a role in the shaping of our past and the country we are today. These lands are for EVERYONE, regardless of race, religion, sex, or economic standing.

I struggled to write my post and I still struggle to write now. I’m angry and I’m hurt. I’m stressed out that these monuments may be dramatically altered, if not worse, before I have had a chance to visit most of them. I’m terrified where this review could lead. Why stop with these 27? Does this open up ALL of our treasured public lands to scrutiny and peril?

Luckily, many of the thoughts and feelings that are jumbled around in my head and heart have been expressed more eloquently than I am currently capable of by my fellow public land loving bloggers. Please enjoy their perspectives by visiting their sites at the links below. Special Thank You to Scott of Just Get Out More for organizing this effort. We implore you all to make your voice heard. Monuments For All.


Just Get Out More http://justgetoutmore.com/deeply-personal-care-national-monuments/
Nightborn Travel https://nightborntravel.com/2017/06/08/love_national_monuments/
AZ Day Hiker http://jasoncleghorn.wixsite.com/azdayhiker/single-post/2017/06/07/A-Monumental-Fight
Nature Tech Family http://www.naturetechfam.com/2017/06/08/rio-grande-del-norte-national-monument/
Little Grunts http://www.littlegrunts.com/pro-tips-tommy-caldwell-talks-public-lands/
Mike Off The Map https://mikeoffthemap.com/2017/06/08/in-the-heart-of-the-creek/
Parks & Points http://www.parksandpoints.com/parksandpointsblog/monumentaldayofblogging
West Coast Hiker Girl https://www.westcoasthikergirl.com/a-monumental-day/
Campfire Guy http://www.campfireguy.com/national-monuments-for-all/
Val in Real Life http://valinreallife.com/2017/06/08/national-monuments/
InnerCompass http://innercompassblog.com/monumentsforall/
Sun Kissed Hiker http://www.sunkissedhiker.com/blog/national-monuments-the-bears-ears-debate-and-how-you-can-help/
Bearfoot Theory https://bearfoottheory.com/national-monument-review/
Terra Galleria http://www.terragalleria.com/blog/speak-out-for-our-national-monuments-under-review/
Wilderness Within Her https://wildernesswithinher.com/2017/05/26/dear-secretary-zinke/
Southwest Dude http://www.southwestdude.com/blog-and-trip-reviews/national-monuments-public-lands-wilderness
Modern Hiker https://modernhiker.com/public-comment-on-the-national-monument-review
Hikes Across America! http://fanclubdad.blogspot.com/2017/06/monumental-day-of-blogging.html
Backcountry Petite https://www.backcountrypetite.com/adventure/new-york-national-monuments/
G Who Travels https://gwhotravels.com/2017/06/08/monuments-for-all-help-save-our-national-monuments/
Explore With Heather http://www.explorewithheather.com/national-monuments-comments/
The Modern Outdoors https://www.modernoutdoors.net/blog/grand-staircase-bears-ears
Grayt Adventure https://graytadventure.com/2017/06/08/a-monumental-day-for-our-nation/
Illuminations from the Attic http://illuminationsfromtheattic.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-antiquities-act-monumental-success.html

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,


Recently you signed an executive order threatening the existence of several of our beloved public lands. My heart instantly broke. There is no place I love to be more than in our Parks. I don’t remember what my first National Parks site visit was but since I grew up in Ohio it was somewhere east of the Mississippi. Family vacations were not only a time to get away from daily life for a week, but they also frequently were educational experiences around parks, monuments, and other historical sites.


I will never forget the trip we took to Gettysburg. My parents wanted to get on the road early. Early meant 4AM. I’m still not sure why so early! (I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination) My room and my brother’s room were almost directly across the hall from each other, so my Dad opened both of our doors, turned on the hall light and began reciting the Gettysburg address. I can’t recall if he made it all the way through, pretty sure I put the pillow over my head and tried to go back to sleep. It certainly helped to cement the memory in my mind though! I do remember driving through the battlefield, imagining what it must have been like in those moments of North vs. South. There is speculation that the area is haunted by the many men who lost their lives. Whether or not that is true, I won’t debate here, but will say that there is a feeling that is inexplicably unsettling. In a time when the divide in our country seems to be growing again, I am glad we have places to remind us of the pain and hardships of civil war so that we hopefully can find amicable ways of coming back together.


We made several trips to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, including our most recent trip complete with a freak early season and unexpected snowstorm during peak fall leaf color! While most of the Park was closed for most of our visit, the unexpected lead to beautiful scenes and even more interesting hiking. We also went to Washington DC and since that first visit, I’ve returned countless times. The National Mall is one of my all-time favorite places to explore and reflect.

I remember the wonder and awe of walking into Mammoth Cave for the first time; amazement at the ceremonial creations of the Hopewell Culture; and hometown pride while visiting the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. Each vastly different from the other, and yet each plays a vital role in the fabric of our culture. These units of the National Park Service combine with the rest to show us where we have been as a country, creating a compass of where we need to go. Whether naturally made, manmade, or simply symbolic, each of the 417 units are vital to our health and happiness as a Nation.


As an adult, I am slowly churning my way through more and more National Park sites across the country. My boyfriend and I took our first vacation together as a road trip from Vegas. We ventured out first to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, spent a night exploring the southern rim of Grand Canyon National Park, drove through Kaibab National Forest, gawked at the Vermillion Cliffs, and fell in love with Zion National Park. Since then we’ve ventured to many more Parks, Monuments, and Historical Sites. We have no intention of stopping now.

I would love to elaborate on each of the National Park sites I have visited thus far, but that would turn into a book. That book would have blank pages for all the places I’ve yet to see. Maybe one day I will write that book. I know I’m not alone in my passion for our public lands, and hope you take the time to read what others have written about their experiences.


The addition of new monuments in the last 20 years has been thrilling. Witnessing the living history of the United States of America. I fear an action against the Antiquities Act of this nature will open the door to further pillage other beloved monuments in the future. If you truly want to “Make America Great Again” I implore you to halt any reduction of these sites. These are places that can bring us together no matter our upbringing and social standing. There are so many wonderful, unique places in this country of ours that deserve to be preserved for generations to come.





aka TheZestyTraveler



To those of you looking to have your voice heard, please write and call your Representatives. You can also head here to submit your comments for public review: http://monumentsforall.org/.

Kihachi IS that Good!

We recently had the privilege to dine at Kihachi Japanese Restaurant right here in Columbus, Ohio. If you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain, you may have seen the episode of No Reservations where he enjoyed the omakase dinner (which does require reservations AND at least two days notice!). We did not partake in the omakase on this visit, but plan to go again and give it a try.

I also was so enamored by everything we ordered that I forgot to take pictures of most things and when I did remember, we were already half way through. Oops! There were six of us dining and we ordered about three different items each then shared the majority.

Chef Mike Kimura pays attention to absolutely every detail. As if amazing food wasn’t enough, he is also incredibly friendly and good natured when mingling with his guests. While in the kitchen, which is open by the way so you can see all the action, he is intense and focused.

There is plenty on the menu for even the most cautious eater. From free range grilled or tempura chicken, to assorted tempura veggies and braised duck. You will of course also find the most amazing sashimi I have ever had. I opted for the assorted platter which that evening included melt in your mouth tuna, red snapper, paper thin squid, octopus, and two other fish that I now forget the names of. We also tried matsutake mushrooms under the advice of our friends who are from Japan. They are fragrant and almost woody in flavor, but in the yummy way, not the gnawing on a tree way! We probably all drank our weight in green tea too. 😛

As soon as I saw blowfish on the menu, I knew I had to give it a try. I was nervous given the potential outcome if not prepared correctly, but Chef Kimuras reputation convinced me to feel adventurous. When I have seen it on TV, it has always been prepared in razor thin slices and that is what I was anticipating. I also was told it would only be three pieces. It ended up being more like ten pieces and prepared almost steak-like. The texture reminded me a bit of steak, and I don’t recall that it had much of its own flavor. The ponzu sauce made the dish!

We had an unforgettable experience with wonderful company. Oh and the best green tea ice cream EVER. Sorry, I scarfed that down before thinking to take a picture or offering anyone a bite. 🙁

Rose Parade 2016 Find Your Adventure

So, Mommy Zesty turned 60 this year! One thing that always sticks in my mind about my Mom is that she loves the Rose Parade. It is the one thing she makes sure she sits down to watch every year, and she isn’t big on TV. You have to understand that my Mom is one of the most selfless people I know. She rarely, if ever, asks for anything, and always puts everyone’s needs and wants before her own. Therefore, when she mentions there is something she would like to do, I do my best to listen.

As long as I can remember, my Mom talked about wanting to one day see the Rose Parade in person and help to decorate a float. About two years before her 60th, the nugget of an idea started to form in my head to make her wish come true. Lots and lots and lots of planning, budgeting, and reservations later, we were off to LA to celebrate my Moms 60th birthday a little early (her bday is in February). Day 1 was float decorating!

The timing was extra perfect since my family loves our National Parks and the parade theme was honoring the National Park Service Centennial. Find Your Adventure.

It turns out that it is relatively easy to get onto a float to decorate. There are a couple of groups who open up to volunteers. If you don’t already have an in with someone decorating a specific float, you can volunteer with one of these groups by signing up online. They do fill up fast and you have to keep checking their website to sign up. We went through Petal Pushers for our float volunteering, and I recommend you check them out if you are interested.

We had no idea what we were walking into! The warehouse is HUGE and housed about 10 or so of the floats for the parade. There are jobs available for everyone’s ability. If you are confined to a wheel chair or cant stand for extended periods, there are jobs for you! If you are a daredevil and like to climb scaffolding, there are jobs for you! And everyone in between. We were assigned to work on the Sikhs float. Not only was it a stunning float, but as an added bonus, the family sponsoring the float fed everyone delicious Indian food for lunch. It was sooo good!

The level of detail that goes into each float is mind boggling. I had no idea and have an immense amount of newfound respect for anyone who has ever had any part in creating a Rose Parade float. My Mom and I were assigned to cut out random shapes from nori paper (seaweed, like what you use in a sushi roll) and glue them onto peacock wings. There were four peacocks on the float, and two wings per bird. Two birds were already finished, we just had to do the other two. It took us the almost entire 8 hour shift!

Towards the very end of our shift, they finally started putting flowers on the float. Somehow my Dad ended up the supervisors temporary assistant so he was able to ensure my Mom was able to apply a few of the actual flowers! My aunt and boyfriend were also with us doing an assortment of other equally detailed and painstaking tasks. 🙂

You have to be a contortionist to get to some parts of the float! It was completely worth every muscle pinch and strain, lol, to see how happy my Mom was and to see the fruits of our labor progress throughout the day. I can’t put into words how amazing the experience was. I hope to do it again at least once more in my lifetime.

If you would like to learn more about a day in the life of a Rose Parade float decorating volunteer, send me a note! I am happy to elaborate and provide more detail.


Farm Life, Then Now

It might seem a little strange to be writing about farms on a travel blog, but I did travel nearly an hour to get to them! How our food is raised, the traditions surrounding the raising of crops and livestock, and the bond of farmer to animal, crop, and consumer are also something I have a deep interest in and seek out to some degree on my travels near and far.

Our day started simply enough. We got up, took care of Meli, and headed out the door to pick up our final CSA share of the season. If you’re unfamiliar with what a CSA is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, you pay a local farmer a number of months in advance for all of the produce they will provide you for the upcoming growing season. You are essentially investing in the farm and the return on your investment is fresh local food!

Back to our day:  Today was our CSAs customer appreciation day at their farm. We arrived to a warm welcome from the owners of Paige’s Produce, were provided a shopping list, and a wheelbarrow. Based on our list we were able to roam around and hand select our produce. Different CSAs provide different options. For the two of us, we pay for a half share of vegetables and as an add on, a half share of fruit. There was a great variety this year and the growing season rewarded all of us nicely! We have tons of butternut squash which is one of my favorite foods, particularly when Ed turns it into soup. Drool.

After working up a small appetite collecting our produce, roaming the farm, and checking out two impressive orb weavers on the side of a barn, we ventured over to their house for soup, mac & cheese, homemade cookies, and fresh apple cider. Such a great treat! Not every CSA holds an event at their farm for their customers, but in my opinion they should. CSAs encourage you to not only support local, but to really see where your food is coming from and get to know the people who make it possible.

As we were making our way back home, we passed one of our metro parks and made a u-turn. We haven’t been to this park before. Part of the reason we hadn’t made the journey is because there are only three short pet friendly trails and they aren’t allowed at the Living Historic Farm at all. I feel guilty having fun in nature while Meli sits at home. Today was serendipitous though as we were already in the area. I made it up to her by taking her for a walk at the park closer to home after dinner. 🙂

Slate Run Living Historical Farm is really cool. It must have been wonderful living there as an original home owner. The setting is idyllic. Lovely trees, wide open pastures, fields, a pond. I will say the lack of indoor plumbing would be the tough one for me. I could survive without electricity, I think, but am incredibly attached to a flushing toilet. The main barn is huge and beautifully maintained. The property is complete with the summer kitchen, root cellar, smoke house, outhouse, and a number of other out buildings. Around the farm we met the employees and volunteers who work the farm as if it were in a time capsule from the late 1800’s; as well as chickens, sheep, geese, ducks, cows, hogs, turkeys, guinea hens, and of course draft horses!

Having just come from a modern working farm, it was interesting to see the differences of small working farms then and now. The biggest difference, aside from indoor plumbing, is horse power. Literally. While some of the plows and other machinery are similar, now they are pulled by tractors instead of draft horses. Materials for many storage structures have shifted from wood to metal. If a part was needed, they needed to craft it themselves instead of going to the local hardware store or mechanic. Aside from that, it is remarkable how little has changed. I think that is a testament to how well the system works and the pride achieved in those who work the land.

I encourage you to learn more about the history where you live and anywhere you travel. If it doesn’t give you a deeper appreciation for the place you’re in and the people who live there, you’re doing it wrong.

I also would like to encourage you to look up your local farmers to see if they offer a CSA or similar program. If not, maybe reach out to ask if they would start one. Almost everyone used to raise at least some of their own produce. It is only in recent human history that we’ve begun to deviate farther away from our food sources. When we lose touch with our local farmers, we lose touch with ourselves.