I’m back

20 March 2018

It is lunchtime on a Tuesday and as I sit here at Starbucks sipping a coffee with almond milk (because I took up coffee – particularly espresso – last year and haven’t been able to turn back), I can’t help but laugh a little. I thought it’d be wise to reflect a bit and put down some of my thoughts onto paper. Why? Well, my birthday is Thursday. Thursday, I will be 28 years old. It’s kind of a weird age I think because there is such a dichotomy in where people are in their lives at 28 years old. I’ve got friends from high school who are married, who have a child… or multiples, who have jobs they call their career. All of these things are great, but I also have friends who are still finding themselves, following their passions, and figuring out where they want to be. I think I somewhat fall into the gray area of this whole realm.

I have lived so many lives already; seen so many sunrises and sunsets from so many points on the globe. I’ve climbed mountains, swam oceans and rivers, done volunteer work in slums at the equator line in Africa, and splashed with penguin and dolphin near the Antarctic. Life has given me love – with family, with friends, and in the very few relationships I’ve opened myself to fully, it has given me love as well as heartbreak. It has taught me strength, perseverance, and acceptance. I am grateful, very grateful. Though I did not imagine I’d be sitting at Starbucks two days before my 28th birthday thinking about what to do next.

Let me preface, I finally started a job in November that I thought was THE job. I love the industry, I love the connections I was making, I love every aspect of what the job entailed. Despite the enormous good, it was not the right situation… I’ll leave it at that. Anywho, I follow a good amount of social media accounts that got me thinking. For years as I traveled (you’ll see old posts from when I initially started this blog site) people suggested I become a blogger – my passion for writing, for travel, and for adventure would be able to share middle ground. I never thought possible but now I think why not. Granted, I’m going to have to learn how to focus in more on specific topics or themes because I can have a tendency to cover too many bases.

To save you from my rambles any longer (for now), here it is. This is where I’m going get back to me; where I am going to share my travels in hopes they offer you insights, my adventures and swimming endeavors in hopes they offer you inspiration, and maybe some healthful posts including food or exercise as therein lies one of my other biggest passions. I hope you can appreciate that in revamping and recreating this site, I’m rediscovering myself. I know that each experience leads us to the next and there will always be more good to come. So I continue to take on the world, know that your follow is appreciated and welcomed. Also while you’re at it, follow me on IG: @dseacliff for more of the adventures.

Now don’t mind me, I’ll just be sitting here day dreaming of my next trip back to Hawaii…

Maui • March 2018

Cold Sweet Cold

I keep saying how I want to be better at posting more. I never finished writing about Honduras, nor did I finish my Iceland posts. Maybe I will get back to them at some point, but for now as I find myself sitting in my new apartment in Charleston, I was inspired going through pictures of Argentina. I wrote a poem today influenced greatly by my experience at the glacier. I can’t reiterate enough how wonderful it is to find yourself with a group of people who not only make you feel endless love but who offer you a sense of belonging. I’m grateful for my marathon swim family but my cold water swim family has taken me somewhere completely different, somewhere I love so deeply for its uniqueness. Here is my poem (please excuse the language, I don’t often curse but the water sometimes does that to a person), inspired by my time spent in the waters of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. It didn’t transfer quite right so imagine a break between each third line (ugh).

  

 

A Glacial Love Affair


The cold burns as you dip that first toe

A little bit further you slide the other toes in, then the foot

“What the fu*k am I doing?” you whisper to yourself

Slowly the water separates and invites you in

It clings to your epidermis as you accept its invitation

Into the frigid water

The temperature plays on the line of freezing

Your breath quickens; your body tightens

“Fu*k!” you quietly scream

No mercy is shown for he who tempts nature’s chilly pool

As the pain grows, so does the smile creeping on your face

How could you not love this pain?

When Mother Nature offers herself

Raw, cold, and unyielding

You must embrace her, for her beauty is innocent

Your entire body is submerged in the icy water

Your heart beats faster

Oh, to know you are alive!

Further in you slither

She drinks you as if nothing were more planned

Then to be here in this place, now

Your chest, your neck, your head

They sink below the door of the surface

The numbness sets in as the smile grows

It’s time to breathe

Your head breaks her wall

As your hands stab through

All you need to do is move forward

Just touch the other side

And then you can end this pain

But why would you want to?

Your muscles swim by memory

As your body is too cold to be meticulous

When you reach the other side

The smile is the only thing everyone around you sees

The real pain has only just begun

Getting out of that glacial water is necessary

But you know within

That water is where you are at home

🙂

The Good Kind of Hurt

You know that feeling you get when you push yourself so hard that every muscle in your body aches? That feeling of pure exhaustion and over exertion that hinders you natural flow? That feeling that makes you want to collapse and scream in agony, yet somehow you also want to smile because you earned that level of pain? I love that feeling. 

I can’t honestly say I was prepared for what I took on this past Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t dedicate a fraction of the time or effort most of my sea friends committed to their training because life got in the way and I let it.  

This weekend I participated in Stage One and Stage Two of the 8 Bridges swimming event in the Hudson River. This is by far one of my all time favorite events – as a swimmer and volunteer. It is also by far one of the absolute greatest open water events in the world, and is in fact the worlds longest stage race. The event is well organized and enjoyable, and takes place in an amazing location. I completed Stage Three a few years ago and loved every second. Since the first year of the event I’ve wanted to do more stages. This year I went for it and registered for the first two stages, with the ultimate goal of making my way all the way down the Hudson soon enough. 

Swimming in the Hudson is like magic. If you’ve never done it then you’re missing out. That might sound strange to most people, and I’m sure I present somewhat questionable having said that, but it’s the truth. An amazing waterway with breathtaking views, I like to think of the Hudson (particularly the 8 Bridges swimming aspect) as an escape. Where else can you transcend reality and societal norms in such a way as to put your head down for hours on end and see nothing but the silhouettes of mountains, the shapes of playful clouds, and…well, your kayaker, because let’s be honest you need them there with you and you see them at nearly every breath you take. It is therapy for the soul. 

Upon arriving upstate in preparation for this event I surprised myself in that I am not sure I’ve ever felt less nervous for an event. I was sort of waiting for it to hit me that I’d be taking on this challenging journey down the river but that slap in the face never seemed to come. I think this has something to do with how great the event is in its entirety. To be surrounded by so many talented, genuine, spirited, generous, and loving people is a special thing, and that’s what this event gives you. I don’t believe the nervous ever set in for me because of the people, my people. Like so many great open water swim events, it is easy to feel a sense of belonging that you might lack in many other aspects of life – at least that is how I feel. This same feeling came over me when I was in Vermont for the Ice Swimming Championships, the feeling of pure bliss in knowing that each individual around you shares the passion you have or nonetheless carries the desire to support that passion in you. 

  
I digress. Stage One was beautiful. We started off with a perfectly calm and peaceful morning picking up just a bit of chop on the second half. To be frank, I don’t have much else to say about day one because it was so great in all aspects. Oh, but I will mention how wonderful it was to finish strong with John smiling on one side, gliding through the water on the paddle board and my amazing kayaker Lizzy on the other side, with a smile on her face as she’d had all day. 

  
Day Two on the other hand was rough. Having been in a car accident less than two weeks ago and experiencing whiplash, I was slightly hesitant in the conditions we were experiencing. The Hudson sure likes giving us a true washing machine adventure. Hour after hour I kept waiting for the moment the river was going to calm down and the sun was going to shine. It didn’t. Despite my neck pains though, it was a fun ride! Maybe not ideal for 7+ hours of swimming but even in those testing conditions, how could one not love being toyed with by the very element in which they came to play? I love it. Toward the end of day two the current changed after only two swimmers reached the ending point, the Mid-Hudson Bridge. All the rest of us who hadn’t made the choice sooner to get out were pulled, as the speed picked up against our favor. That’s how the river works, like magic. 

  
Open water swimming is a test to withstand anything the elements so choose to throw ones way. It’s the price of admission to enjoy the waters and I would happily pay that price any day. Though I was a part of those pulled just shy of the bridge, I have to say I’m pretty happy with myself for swimming nearly 40 miles in two days. I wasn’t sure how my swims would end – now I know, and the worst of it is sore muscles – and I would do it again like that in a heart beat. Maybe with a little extra training time though next year. 

🙂

 

 

Iceland Day Six

1 April 2015 

Happy April Fools, ya fools! 🙂

Today was by far the most incredible scenic span of road we’ve driven thus far on this trip. We left our little Laekjarkot home in the mountains just outside of Borganes and headed toward Stykkishólmur. The drive was about two and a half hours but along the way there were a few fjords to check out, amongst beautiful black sand beaches. We took the long road that follows the coast line of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula because it was meant to be a beautiful drive. Well, it would have been if we were able to see the road! I was at the wheel for this leg and we had TOTAL white out conditions. Remember how I mentioned that Iceland and Florida have weather condition (despite temperature) similarities? Yeah, proof once again. The snow and winds were so intense that we couldn’t see five feet in front of us – we could barely see the car on our tail. Sorry buddy, I wasn’t in a rush to drive where I couldn’t see. Anywho, check it out… 

   

Once we got in to the mountains the wind calmed down a bit. Our next challenge was the curvy unplowed (seldom, at least) road that stretched the middle of nowhere.  

   

We came across these neat little pockets of river playing peek-a-boo through the snow. 

   

    

Until we finally saw water once again.  

 

When we got to the shore line we discovered the most magical black sand beaches. I’ve read of these beaches in Hawai’i but never had the chance to see them. Wow!

   

   

   

     

Every stretch along the way from here to our little town for the night was jaw dropping; the churches, the waterfalls, the glaciers, the fjords. 




      

  

     

These views don’t get old. We were so excited to see our first fjord! I mean, can you beat this gorgeous piece of Mother Nature goodness?!

   

We arrived to Stykkishólmur a bit earlier than our check in time at the hostel so we explored what the town had to offer. Now, this is a big town here in Iceland. Many told us not to miss it so we intentionally stayed the night here. Fifteen minutes after arrival we had seen it all! Ha. It’s yet another beautiful spot, don’t get me wrong! Probably one of our favorites. 

   

  

See that little red dot in the top right corner of the picture above? That’s a light house – remember that for later in this post. 

 

I found the famous rye bread in a little bakari (bakery) they make here. The woman in the shop told me they cook the bread for twenty four hours and in empty milk cartons. So neat! Mom, I will try to bring home an authentic recipe. SO good. 

  

We got a recommendation for a yummy restaurant for dinner and it just so happened to be about 8 steps from our hostel’s back door (size perspective of town). Of course the entire menu was seafood based. Do you know me? If you do, you know I don’t eat seafood. I put on my big girl pants and tried the fish burger made with a fresh cod they caught locally. Alex had a bunch of mussels and then spoon fed her self the sauce. She loved her meal; I did not. But that’s okay! I tried it, and I am beyond sure that anyone with an appreciative palate for seafood would have loved it! 

 

 

We can’t figure out if eating at 7:30 pm is equivalent to the early bird special (sunset isn’t till ~9 pm right now) or if there just aren’t enough people around to make a restaurant look full. Great spot though! And primo local brews! 🙂 

    

Once we finished dinner and dessert, we literally ran (I mean it – literally!) out the door and through the docks, across the harbor, and up a big hill to catch the last moment of the sun’s flirting colors as they submerged below in to the oceans blue. Remember that red light house a few photos ago? Yeah, that’s what we RAN up to after stuffing our faces. Wise decision? Maybe not. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY. 

 

  

  

  

  

Still not regretting being somewhere warm x

Iceland Day Five; We Meant To Do That

31 March 2015

“That” being sleep an hour and a half past our alarm then drive an additional eight hours than intended (kind of) today. 

Let’s start with how last night ended – frozen hair in the hot tub and discussing the Northen Lights with our new friends from London. We saw one while we were all getting to know each other, though it’s probably debatable as it also may have just been a cloud. It was another beautiful night regardless. The man at the desk told us all he would give us a wake up call if the lights danced in the sky through the night but we never got that call. 

So as I mentioned we got moving a little late, we hit the road by 7:45. Our planned direction this morning initially was supposed to bring us back up a bit North of Reykavik but multiple people told us that making that extra stretch east along the southern coast toward Jökulsarlon to see the Glaciers was worth it sk that’s what we did. The driving was insane at points along the road – super strong winds and covered in ice. Alex maneuvered the speaker system and set up our iPhones with Bluetooth so we could jam out…to Christmas music. Ha. Anywho, check out this drive – we saw some glaciers along the way too: 

   

 

Baby volcano.

   

Glaciers we are going to be climbing Saturday.         

My new friend with four legs. 

This view from our guesthouse tonight is beautiful. Like everything else. Even if we did drive past the street three times. 

           

When A Normal Person Travels To Miami…

27 March 2015

I travel to Iceland! My friend Alex and I are off on an adventure to the chilly island of glaciers, Northern Lights, and hot springs. After a terribly cold and slightly U enjoyable winter in New York most would not set their sights on a trip somewhere else cold in March. The little Nordic island in the North Atlantic was an easy choice for Alex and I to set our sights on though, being that we both love adventure and exploration. This trip came to be exponentially fast, as we literally were talking about places that neither of us had been and decided spur of the moment to just book it and go (over English drinks with correctional officers…you know, your typical good decisions kind of night). Kidding, kind of.

 

 

Anywho, here we are. I had such a sense of nostalgia upon walking in to the airport this evening. The colorful signs, beeping sounds of intercom announcements, even the smells brought me back to my happy place. It hasn’t been that long – okay – but it’s my sense of home. Does that make sense? I have always been an in-betweener from Florida to New York, and as I’ve gotten older (another year last Sunday to be exact!) I find that travel is my stability in life. I know that probably sounds strange to most of you, though if you know me I think you’ll understand. 

   

 

Our flight was delayed an hour in departure due to inclement weather, yadah yadah. We made friends with an older woman, a retired teacher, who shared stories of her numerous adventures she’s found her self in with her best friend; off roading in backcountry on one of the smaller Hawai’ian islands was my favorite. Then made friends with a little girl wearing a bumble bee backpack. Ah, the places you go and the people you meet. On the flight, we both snagged exit row seats (long leg problems solved!!) and cozied in making new friends with the people around us. 

 

   

This trip came at a good time for me, a time when I feel I really needed to reground myself through a lack of confinement. I am looking forward to the next week of doing my favorite thing with one of my favorite people. 

  

Off we go!! 🙂  

   

Hoppy Easter, friends!

20 April 2014

Today is a beautiful day.
My day began with baking a yummy lemon poppyseed cake followed by taking one of my dogs for a run on a local trail.

Now my father and I are driving to our Easter Linner (that’s the later version of brunch…the lunch-dinner) with some family. I’m reading a book that a friend gave me called Flow and a line resonated that I felt like sharing:

The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile.

I really love the way the author depicts this. In all of my wild adventures or endeavors, many people tell me I’m crazy or ask why I would do *insert experience here* and I don’t believe I’ve ever really given an answer (though I’m sure they’re usually rhetorical questions & statements anyway). I think this is the best way to explain though, because for me and my outlook this is exactly how I see my experiences.

Side note: the subtitle of the book is The Psychology of Optimal Experience 🙂

I challenge you to do something soon that will prompt people close to you to call you crazy!

Hope you have a wonderful Easter or just a beautiful day 🙂

p.s. happy birthday KJC!