On the road again!

After 8 months in Folsom, we were preparing to make our journey from California to Florida. First step was to sell our beloved Toyota 4Runner and purchase a “grownup” vehicle, a family friendly, fuel efficient, safe and reliable Subaru Crosstrek.

In the meantime, we had been looking into renting a Uhaul trailer to tow all of our belongings and after weeks of research, we (he) decided to build a trailer on his own to save cash and have something we can keep… and let’s admit it, it was a cool project for captain construction to have some fun with 😉 I’ll admit I was a little hesitant in the beginning but as time passed it proved to be perfect! I’m so proud.

Ok, so we’re packed, loaded and ready to go! Looking at the car-trailer photo from above makes me giggle knowing that everything we own is in that picture (excluding Matts surf boards). We have so much to be grateful for and so minimal to worry about. Beautiful!

The last time we made this trip (in reverse) we took the northern route through Nevada, Utah, Colorado and then on. This time we chose to go south to visit a few friends along the way and see some new scenery. First stop was in Riverside (Southern California) to see Craigg! You’ll recognize him from his first trip to Barbados, my time in Japan and most recently at our wedding.

Next up was Phoenix to hug Christie and John! Another bundle of joy that you’d recognize from Doing work in the AZ and also our wedding!

There really wasn’t anybody from Arizona to Oklahoma so we just made a quick overnight stop in New Mexico and woke up to get to my dads house for bedtime.

Our time in Oklahoma was short and sweet but allowed for a solid catch up with our family and announce the gender of our little one! We gave all 5 siblings a can of silly string and let them unload on us. Too much fun!

After Oklahoma we made what should of been a quick trip to Arkansas but considering we stopped every hour for the prego to pee, it took us far longer than expected. Sorry babe. The photo below is me attempting to get comfortable with a pregnancy pillow that was gifted to us. Epic fail… but we eventually made it to beautiful Hot Springs!

More cousins and tons of love greeted us on our final extended stay of the trip.

We made it to our last stop of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in which the camera regrettably didn’t leave our bags. I have no picture highlighting our visit with Matts grandparents (Maw Maw and Paw Paw) but it was short, sweet and full of homemade cookin! Early the following morning we said our goodbyes and put home in the GPS. Final destination, Miramar Beach, Florida!

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Back back to Cali Cali!

So there we were, living in Folsom, California as newlyweds ready to start a foundation for our future. (We only lasted 8 months, but here it was in a nutshell!)

Accommodations: We purchased a 28ft princess palace (aka a travel trailer) in order to live minimally and save to the max. We loved our little home and it served us properly before we sold it to move.

Working: I dove right back into the world of beauty by reopening my hair salon under the new name of “Hair Gypsy”. My loyal clients were so eager to support the return and helped get me back in action!

Matt continued his photography and videography by shooting family photos, senior portraits, weddings and special events. You can check out that gallery by clicking here!

Both of us got a rejuvenating job coaching at Tricks Gymnastics, Matt was working in the Tag program and I was coaching the artistic gymnastics.

(Fun fact: I worked at Tricks from 1997-2005 coaching the competitive team!)

On the side, we also picked up dog sitting which turned into our favorite little paw escape. These pups were so much fun and turned into family!

When we weren’t working, you could usually find us (mainly Matt) on a bike exploring the popular trails that surround the Lake and extend to outer cities.We also took advantage of being surrounded by some incredible destinations and often took day or weekend trips to explore!

Lake Tahoe!Santa Cruz!

San Francisco!Although Northern California has beautiful scenery, unlimited career options and some of my most favorite people in the world… it just wasn’t feeding our souls. A tough decision but a solid one as we decided to move to the Panhandle of Florida.

Just before packing up to move across the states we found out that we were soon to be a party of 3… What a beautiful addition to our already exciting life!

Next journey… road trip back to the East Coast!

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Honeymoon Road trip – part 2!

Our honeymoon happened to overlap with Matts birthday so I wanted our next pitstop to be extra special. Utah or Nevada, hmmm. I searched for hidden jems and popular attractions and didn’t have to look any farther once landing on this beauty….

The Mystic Hot Springs of Monroe Utah!

👉🏽 CLICK HERE to see the video of our adventure at the Springs!

It’s a quaint little community many miles away from well, anything! Although the main attraction was the natural hot springs that bubble up on the property, the selling point for me was the accommodations. You had your choice between a van, covered wagon or old fashion school bus, all which had been converted into lovable spaces. We chose the bus!

The outside had a small patio which was the perfect space for Matt to cook us up some dinner on our camping stove while we sat and took in the ambiance. Inside there was a small dining area, full bed, couch and sink that took up most of the space with a bright tapestry separating the door from the room. The door, mind you, was the original swinging model with no lock or safe way of securing it completely closed. The bright side was being surrounded by people who generally gave off the hippie “one love” vibe with no concern of taking from you. A lot of bare feet, beards, braids and smiles greeted us as we walked the property.

The highlight of our stay was by far the music! We happen to hit the weekend when a female bluegrass brand was passing through. The Sweet Lilies had a magnetic way of drawing you in to their soulful sound and unique style. We were sitting front row and enjoyed every minute! To make it even more memorable, one of the girls had spoke with Matt prior and found out he was a musician as well. This led to them inviting him on stage to jam out for a few songs, what a rare opportunity!

If you’re ever driving through the dessert of Monroe Utah and need some entertainment or place to crash, I highly suggest you take a dip in the springs and walk the grounds barefoot!

The rest of our trip was through the dry desert of Nevada finally landing us in Northern California. Here’s a few more random photos to wrap up the road trip!

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Honeymoon Road trip – part 1!

Saying goodbye was a bittersweet this time leaving my new found island home. As Matt and I packed up the last of our things, there was a sense of sadness realizing I didn’t have a return flight, yet at the same time excitement filled the air. A new adventure, an unknown journey, something I had never experienced before was just ahead of me! Airport drop off, next chapter… Married and moving to California!

Although the final destination is California, we flew into Florida to kick off our priceless road trip across the states for our honeymoon! This journey alone could of been a dozen posts with videos, hilarious stories and countless photos, but let’s keep in mind the goal is still to catch up to present date. So bare with me as we fly through what was a 3 week expedition from the east coast to the west!

Before we begin, let me just prep you with the underlying vibe this entire trip started out with. I had just asked Matt if I could close my eyes for a bit and of course his angelic new husband answer was something along the lines of, “Of course my dearest love, rest those gorgeous eyes of yours while I drive, I’ll have lunch waiting when you wake up”…. Or maybe he said, “Sure babe”.

Matt truly didn’t know I was filming until half way through the video. Brat:)

We started in West Palm Beach with his (and now my!) brother and family. We stayed long enough to purchase a 4Runner and hit the road towards our new home.

Matts Aunt Jerri and Uncle Wayde happen to be right along the way as we departed Florida. Brunch in Baton Rouge Louisiana started us off properly!

Last time I saw this guy was in Japan! My cousin Brandon and I have managed to stay in touch most of our entire adult lives while never living in the same state or country for the matter! I was so excited for him to meet my new husband and what a wonderful stopping point to eat, laugh and rest up!

Arkansas and Oklahoma consumed us with dozens of my family members eager to greet the newlyweds. It was the perfect half way point to take a week and reconnect with all of them.

My cousins (thank you Lacie and Lana!)  surprised us with a wedding reception full of food, games, dancing and gifts. We got to celebrate all over again!

One of our pit stops was Raton New Mexico. This adorable little church house used to be where my dad and his family lived. How lucky were we that they still owned it and got a key for another over night rejuvenation. The sunset photo is at the top of an overlook just outside of town.

👉🏽VIDEO TIME! Click here to see a video of this leg of the trip!

After hitting beautiful New Mexico, we headed north to one of my favorite states… Colorado! Mountains, rivers, lakes, mesas, valleys and fresh air, what’s not to love? I was even more excited finding out that one of Matts long time school friends lived in Vale which meant another purposeful pit stop. A rejuvenating walk, sit down dinner and quality catch up time was the perfect way to start the tale end of our journey.

I made the mistake of not recording where each picture was taken, but I still wanted to throw in a few random photos we snapped along the way!

Next stop, Monroe Utah!

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Wrapping up Barbados!

So turns out I’m married to a photographer/videographer (amongst other talents) and while we were living on the island, he made some videos that would be a shame to go unseen. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of the following footage, besides me wanting to keep them on record and wanting to share them with you!

1. Most tourists stay on the south coast where the white sand and hotels are located while a few may hit the west coast to explore a different kind of beach. Meanwhile there’s beautiful nature and wide open waters on the east and north coast! Here’s a video he filmed with Cole to show off the less popular edges of Barbados.

East and North natural coastlines!

2. This little video is of a spontaneous day out we took to check out the surf and sights. The hitchhiker at the end was my favorite part!

Afternoon out ending with a hitchhiker!

3. You all can recall Hurricane Irma, the storm that took over the Caribbean and damaged Florida back in 2017. What you may not of known is the beautiful sky and awesome surf it brought to Barbados! Well, here’s a look from a surfers perspective.

Surfing Hurricane Irma

4. If you know this blog well enough, you know that Cool Runnings is my ultimate favorite when it comes to excursions out at sea. On this day, we were gifted a treat on a a different catamaran called Tiami… Enjoy!

A day at sea!

If you’re familiar with Stone Sharp Images, you’ve probably seen several photos captured by Matt during our stay here. If you haven’t, well then I suggest you do! Until next time Barbados…

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Visitors, a dozen of them!

Visitors! I’d love to go into full detail about each guest and at happened while they were here, but I’m too eager to catch up to the present day! With that said, I’m just going to sum up the 10 wonderful months of guests (for my selfish reflection and future reference).

First there’s Florian. If I could bundle up happy, creative, smart, funny, quirky, loyal and loving… he would be it! I met him over 7 years ago at my first Oktoberfest in Munich Germany, (a tradition that went on for years to follow) and continued to reconnect around the world. Prior to Barbados, there was a a surprise trip to Recklinghausen, a quick stop in Amsterdam , a week in Crete Greece and the unforgettable vacation he took to visit my home state of California!

Florian’s visit was over a year ago and I was able to make a post about it (I just didn’t want to leave his smile out of this article). If you’d like to see that one, please click here!

Next up was Amanda, a driven, hard working, beautiful friend that I met while working out. Who would of thought a few partner burpees would lead to a friendship and a visit out of the country?! She was also the first and only guest to get me out to run a casual 5k with her… on a Saturday… just for fun. Only you Amanda!

Kira and John, the first couple to come see us. I was so honored that they were willing to jet off (leaving their 3 kids with Nana) and stay awhile! I don’t think I had laughed so much in a matter of 5 days until these 2 showed up. Too much fun and memories for a life time!

Cole is a photographer, videographer, musician and owner of the quickly growing Enlightened Studios. Such an intriguing guy to have a round, especially when him and Matt would often nerd out on camera talk. Fun facts: Cole is the one that recorded our engagement! Fun fact #2: Cole and Matt now work closely together as they expand Enlightened Studios!

Sweet Erica… hairstylist, yogi, free spirited and a pocket full of sunshine. Her arrival overlapped with Coles and made for a great combo. She joined us with the cruise and a mud n’ paint party fully embracing the local celebration. My favorite part of her trip was our girls day out adventure! Accidentally driving the off road course, animal flower caves, a sunset glass of wine and a toast to the next chapter.

Josh is a long time friend of Matts and a new time friend to me! Adventure came full force when he landed, with hiking, climbing, surfing, dancing and a vegan dinner every night. Josh seemed to fit right in with his flexible personality and willingness to experience it all!

Matts mom Terri, her fiancé Jack and his daughter Lauren came out to see what all of our talk was about this beautiful island. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to get to know them even more! Island tours, boat cruises, beach days, local cuisine and a girls night (just me and Lauren) were just a few of the events welcoming this crew to our home.

Reni was Matts best man in the wedding and stayed with us for the days leading up to it. He doesn’t go unnoticed with his bright smile and not-so-subtle character. It definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him! What added to his energy? Only my dear friend Bree! An equally enthusiastic person with a lot of love and energy to give. These two at our place during the same time made for constant laughter and a family feel right off the bat! We were focused on the wedding so there weren’t too many casual photos taken around the house. Here are a few from the celebrations!

So in the short 10 months that Matt lived in Barbados with me, we got to house-sit 5 different homes and hosted a dozen visitors (not including the 25 at the wedding)! I’d like to claim a small success in sharing the beauty of my favorite island, so thankful we had the opportunity.

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Trash the dress? Nah, I honored it!

The week leading up to and the days following our wedding was just as fun and memorable as the actual event. Since we had about 25 guests that had flown in from all over the world, it was only appropriate to expand the celebrations and have a little more adventure!

If you’ve been with this blog for awhile you know Ryan, owner and operator of SUP Barbados. He was the very first Bajan I ever met and turned into one of my dearest island family members. Aside from Barbados, we had a mini adventure to Trinidad and Tobago and a random airport hug in Frankfurt, Germany! On this day, he took out a small group of us for a sunset paddle. Recognize the other girls? Bree, from travels in Chiang Mai, New York, and Barbados back in 2014. Then there’s Denise and Ioni, my amazing friends from The Netherlands! We’ve studied together in Buenos Aires, played with in Córdoba and definitely made a mark in Amsterdam. I actually met Denise back in Spain before herhappytrails even existed!

Now, we all gather under one sun and celebrate!

Ryan took the photo of me years ago and then one of Matt on this day… unplanned!

Such a fun day! Thank you Ryan for always providing a day of laughter, sunshine and paddle filled memories.

Post wedding day was spent on the beach with boats, rafts, drinks, snacks and music. In my opinion, perfection! Cameras weren’t brought out that day (at least ours weren’t) so you’ll just have to trust it was a bright day full of more smiles, sunkissed skin and friends as far as the beach could hold. Here is the only photo I was given from the day, thanks Dani!

The last day of the wedding celebrations was spent on my favorite catamaran Cool Runnings!

If you’re interested in booking your own excursion, visit their website by clicking here.

Again with the lack of photos, just know it was a fantastic day! We did get a few snap shots of me honoring my dress though!

As I wrap up the memories of this beautiful moment in time, I want to rewind and post the video of how it all started. I’ll end here with the recording of the engagement!

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Here comes the bride! 9-28-17

The term destination wedding refers to a location outside of your hometown that generally involves a gorgeous landscape in a distance place. Typically it lands at a snow capped mountain resort, inside a foreign castle or in my case, on a stunning tropical island. I called Barbados home for just long enough that it really wasn’t a “destination wedding”, however for a handful of our guests, it most certainly was!

If you’d rather just skip to the amazing Wedding video, click here!

Let’s begin with the landscape. Well, for starters it’s a beach!! We chose a quaint little surfers bar overlooking the southeast coast called Moonraker at Surfers Bay. It offered a partially covered outdoor seating area with a U shaped bar and an open section for my favorite part, the dancing! Our guests had the option of kicking their shoes off and walking in the sand, dancing on a wooden deck or socializing around an oversized bonfire. So we had love, earth, wood, fire, water, sun, stars, open air and an abundance of positive energy from all of the friends and family that gathered… a recipe for the perfect wedding.

Accommodations – Surfers Bay restaurant and bar was conveniently on the property of a colorful hotel called The Moonraker.

The wardrobe – Most of you have read a story or few that included my dear friend Bree. From our adventures in Chiang Mai, Thailand to her first visit to Barbados, she’s been a beautiful addition to my traveling adventures. What you may not of known is that when she isn’t backpacking, she’s an incredible fashion designer that has even worked in NYC for Ralph Lauren (friend bragging moment). As her gift to me, she designed and tailored my gown start to the very last pin before I walked the aisle. Matt wore a classic beige jacket that was once wore by his dad who was there with us in spirit.

The jewelry – I felt so honored to walk the aisle with an arm full of authentic bangles and an ankle decorated with jewel covered bands, all from India (another gift from Bree and her family). My wedding ring set is a combination of Matts opal birthstone and a diamond band given to me by his mother, a ring that was once given to her by his father…. again, I’m honored. The unique funky earrings? Those were $7.99 from Claire’s (a handy accessory boutique in the states).

The flowers – Instead of pre made bouquets or red roses, I went to a local florist (the day of the wedding) who so graciously allowed me to pick 12 flowers from a variety of local bundles in their back freezer. I don’t know too many businesses elsewhere that would of been so eager to help a last minute Gypsy bride.

The ceremony – my walk down the grassy aisle lead me to a dozen of my dearest girlfriends from around the world, each holding a single tropical flower. As I hugged and thanked them for their friendship, attendance and love, I collected each flower leaving me with a bouquet tied up by a strip of lace that was left over from my dress. This was all being serenaded by Matt on the guitar before he passed it along to come and greet me for the rest of my walk. The service was guided by our dear friend Derek who peacefully spoke about higher connection and divine love. We said our own vows, exchanged rings and sealed it with a kiss.

Drinking and dining – The Bajans and their heartfelt gifts. Instead of presents we asked each local guest to bring a dish to share. (If you’re wondering what the island cuisine consists of, take a moment to check out the posts Welcome to Barbados, let’s eat! and Mr.Delicious doesn’t serve pig tail . Our wedding spread ranged from traditional recipes to creative desserts and most definitely extended beyond what any catering company could of offered. Drinks? Not a dry mouth in the place, if a guests didn’t bring food we invited them to bring a beverage to place on the open bar. Wine, champagne, cases of local beer, liquor, juice, soda and what Barbados festivity would be complete without rum punch! Música! Personally speaking, I can survive any party regardless of food, drink or decorations as long as I have happy people and good music. As if our plans couldn’t of gone any smoother, in walks Dj Trev! He perfectly mixed every genre we wanted to hear, left out all of the songs we didn’t want and had a dance floor that never went empty. He was the icing on our wedding cake!…and the party kept going… and going! I’m so grateful for the experience and love we were able to capture, I’ll hold it dearly forever!

…to be continued.

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Cropover! My 6th, his 1st… not our last.

2017 was my 6th Cropover in a row. For those of you that didn’t indulge in those fun posts, I invite you to take a peek back and check out previous Kadooment posts! Last year Matt and I chose a few of the events to celebrate and went for it!

Foreday morning Jam! Mud, paint, powder, people and drinks. That about sums up the few miles we parade through the back streets of Barbados. Music trucks lead the way followed by mobile bars serving any beverage you’d like. Gallons of paint get thrown throughout the crowd with powder being launched into the air. The mud? Barrels (dubbed for mud baths later on after 6 too many rum punches) are towed behind trucks so participants can dig in and sling handfuls over their friends. This midnight celebration is nothing to miss out on!

The annual boat cruise that I’m honored to attend each year (limited guests with a waiting list) has got to be my favorite event of this entire week. Personally I think that’s made clear by the photos I walk away with each year! Click here to see one of the most highlighted cruises from the past!

This year, Matt was able to be my hot date and got to witness the shinaniguns of the M.C.Buccaneer!

There’s really no need for an excuse, however if I needed a reason for a shot from Daniel, it would fall in the hands of tradition. Every year past, he’s found me to fulfill our annual greeting!

The first collage is a combination of years past followed by a phot of the most recent. Kadooment marks the finale of the crops being over and introduces the grand parade that everyone has been preparing for. Elaborate costumes and skin jewel designs barely cover the bodies of the ones walking the street. If you haven’t read any of the past posts on this event at least take a look at Kadooment 2012, as it describes the history and present culture of it all. Here is a visual gift of the previous 5 years of Kadooment:

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Last year I decided to get a little quirky and hand make a tutu to enhance my costume. A few more bedazzles and some added fabric made it all complete!

Matt had no problem sharing his office with glitter, jewels, fabric and glue until I completed my project… Well, he had no complaint until his confession of finding glitter in manly places that sparkles don’t belong.

Finally the day had arrived! 4am and a couple thousand friends means we’re on our way!

Pictures may say 1000 words, but videos share a million memories! Here’s the video created by Matt Stone (my amazing husband) of Stone Sharp Images.

Video of Kadooment 2017!

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Hello Again!

Hi, my name is Erika. Remember me? I’m the creator and writer of Her Happy Trails.

I’m honored to say in the past 6 years I’ve gotten to experience foreign places, meet new friends, partake in bizarre food and encounter numerous amounts of unexpected twists and turns. I must say, I enjoyed every moment of it!

For those of you who have followed this journey from the beginning, you’ve probably recognized my absence of writing this past year. It seems safe to assume we’ve all had that friend that you often think about and assure yourself, “I need to call them… I’ll make time tomorrow!”. Tomorrow comes and goes, life happens and a week passes with more fluttering thoughts of that dear friend who doesn’t even know they’ve been flooding your mind. Well friends, you are that to me!

An apology doesn’t seem right as that would be assuming you’ve been eagerly sitting by the computer waiting for another post (and if you have, I’m truly sorry and I thank you for your patience). I should however apologize to myself for not feeding the creative part of my brain and fueling the drive I have to share experiences through writing.

With that said, I’m excited to say herhappytrails.com is back with stories to be caught up on and a future of articles to stimulate your mind, spirit and funny bone.

Update in a nutshell: I’m married, expecting my first child and living (aka – not backpacking) in the sunshine state of Florida, USA! Below is a photo of the beach that sits across our street. Woh, right?

Now let’s rewind and recap a few of the amazing experiences and incredible people I’ve been so lucky to come across to lead me to here today.

Welcome back to my open book!

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