Coast to coast and over seas

The trip back to the states included the usual 3 consisting of California, Oklahoma and Florida. In order to catch up quickly I’m going to post some of my favorite photos that Matt and I snagged per state. 

As you can imagine, Oklahoma didn’t necessarily provide the best of landscape shots, but Matt was able to capture some wildlife that can easily be overlooked.

You know these lovely ladies, my cousins Lacie and Lana have made random appearences like Hot with a 92% chance of muggyFamily and treats in Oklahoma and Till next time Oklahoma! Check out these comparisons from a few years ago to now.

Moving on to California! Before Matt met me here, I was honored to attend a dear friends wedding. Now when I say “dear friend”, I mean a woman that has shown me the true definition of unconditional love and support. It makes my heart full of joy to see her so happy. Congrats to Liz and Katie! Ps, best Rockabilly wedding ever and a special thanks to my perfect date, Crystal! (you’ve seen her in Jumbled shinaniguns in California and 32 candles on 32 peddles!) Wedding bells put away and Matt finally arriving, it was time to venture around! Of course we hit my hometown of Folsom, but the highlight was Truckee and Lake Tahoe! Here are some of my favorite pictures he took with the rest shown on his site www.stonesharpimagesphotography.comThe Heavenly ski resort provides a gondola ride for all of their participants as well as non skiers to enjoy the epic view of Lake Tahoe. Shall we? We shall!

The above photo is looking back at the Lake and below is what you’ll see as the slow, smooth moving Gondola glides to the top.

Finishing up my visit to the US, I found myslelf all smiles with good ol’ mom. Although it really has nothing to do with this post I feel the need to list a few of my favorite writings that include moments with her. So if you’ve got the time for random reads, I invite you to visit the pasts posts of our time in Cental America when mom was brave enough to venture abroad with me in Puerto de la Libertad and Wrapping up our time in El Salvador. Or maybe you’d be interested in good cry today? Embrace yourself for Not just a dolphin tour, it seems to be a tear jerker.

Getting back to this post, I mainly just wanted to hit the highlights of music, beaches and friends… the perfect combo!

After soaking up time with family, friends and new acquaintances I flew to South Florida to meet back up with Matt.

Intermission: Turns out I traveled straight through the tornados of Atlanta and was held in the airport for two days. Here’s what the terminals look like at 2am with severe weather outside. After 8 canceled flights, 38 hours of wandering the airport and being 130 on the standby list… I finally made it! Our next flight and final stop is home (for now) being the beautiful island of Barbados! 

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Let’s play catch up – part 1

If you check out the prior post, you’ll grasp the idea that my blog took a well needed moment of hibernation as I focused on the more fragile priorities in my life. So first off, I want to thank all of you that contacted me during this break in loving concern, your messages came at what seemed to be at the perfect moments. To those who didn’t reach me directly but sent thoughts my way, I tell you that your energy was felt. Now, I’m excited to announce that over the next year you’ll begin to see changes in Her Happy Trails and I thank you in advance for your support! 

As the shift begins, let’s play back some of the glorious events that occurred during the last few months. 

For those of you who have been reading this blog for years, you’ll quickly recognize this amusing reunion. Florian is the name of a genuine friend you’ve seen me connect with over the years. We met back at Oktoberfest in Munich in 2011 and thats where it all began! From Crete Greece to California and Nevada through Germany and hitting Amsterdam his smile has appeared all over herhappytrails and now it’s glowing in Barbados!

Just for personal kicks, I put together a collage of us from all over the world.

There’s definitely a part of my blogging spirit that wishes I would of written daily with specific details of his journey to the island but as I mentioned before, the blog was resting. Florian means so much to me and his presence is unforgettable so here’s a “nutshell” post to reminisce of his visit to the Caribbean. 

His trip allowed for time to explore all varieties of the island. We walked your typical southern touristy area and lounged on the beautiful west coast beaches.  An all day tour seemed to be the highlight when we hit the very north peak of St.Lucy and explored the animal flower caves. Here’s a bundle of shots that hopefully gives you an idea of the amazing time we had.

Florian, I hear your silly dinner song whenever I say “candy bars” and Matt & I can’t go an entire car ride without saying “I bet Florian walked here”. I’ve stopped counting but am regularly tempted to add a number every time someone offers Bob Marley or green grass and giggle at the idea of saying, “No thanks, I prefer my lawn to be brown”. Because of your journey, I have a new perception of Bajan policemen and the bus system. Finally my friend, I must admit…. the peanuts are still in the sock. Thank you so much for the friendship, laughter and effort to not let another year pass by without a hug.

Before Florian had arrived, Matt and I did a little exploring for ourselves! Here are some of my favorite shots you can find on his Stone Sharp Images website if you’d like to order prints. I think they’re such a different view of this stunning island that I’ve known and loved for years. 

A few random pics of a few random times.

The video below is a look from our day out at sea. We were treated to experience the catamaran named Tiami!


All righty, that wraps up Barbados for now… Next post, USA!

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Grams

I’d like to start this post by acknowledging that it’s been awhile since my most recent active blogging. I don’t have a list of reasons as I believe when you want to make something happen badly enough, you make it happen. So no excuses here, just the simple fact of life changing turns that put other priorities in need of my attention. So after a short break and rejuvenation, I’m back to writing with some exciting new updates coming soon!

Today is the 3rd of April. 82 years ago a beautiful spirit was born and I’m honored to say she played a major roll in my life. I’ve written before of people who have passed on in this lifetime and their impact on me and the memories that followed their departure… but I’ve sat here for too long with an abundance of words that aren’t forming any proper sentences. I feel that nothing can truly express my interpretation of the amazing woman named Marth Sue Young (Jackson).

(Enter hours of staring at a blank screen here)

Still without a quality beginning, I figured I’d just start by admitting that words and photos simply can not translate the significance of this bright smiling, warm hearted, stubborn, hard working, gorgeous woman that loved unconditionally. We called her Grams. Beyond raising three daughters and my dad, Grams was a wife, sister, aunt, great aunt, grandmother, great grandma and even survived the birth of her 2 great-great grandchildren! She fostered the youth with mental disabilities, cooked for new moms and often brought meals to local families in distress. Even in her weaker days she’d guide me in the kitchen to bake for someone in need. She rarely complained of her own discomfort and usually kept focus on her family. She was capable of making you do something (with love) without you even knowing you were doing it. She hand pushed her own lawn mower until she was 80 years old (and don’t dare to try and take that from her unless you’re prepared to lose a finger). Hungry? Before you could even answer she’d have a hot meal at your chin with dessert waiting. My uncle J.E said Sue was the only woman he knew that could walk into the kitchen, throw flour into the air and come out with an award winning coconut cream pie. She had magical powers.

When I was young we used to sit together and watch the Price is Right after eating her famous pancakes that she had so creatively designed into recognizable designs. We’d flip through warn pages of the Sears “Maz-uh-geen” (apparently that’s how I used to pronounce “magazine”) while nibbling on Cheeze-Its. I’d ride buddy style on the back of her bike as we’d chase the ice cream man to get our favorite vanilla cones. Many more precious years allowed for several cooking lessons, summer vacations, late night frozen yogurts and countless hours of putting together puzzles. Priceless memories to say the least.

When I loaded up to start backpacking over 5 years ago, she kept her spare room ready for my return and the kitchen stocked with my favorites. I’d bring back international treats that we’d giggle in question if it was edible or not. I’d show her bizarre photos from abroad and eagerly answer her intriguing questions that often led to stories of my travels. 

If you’ve been following this blog, chances are you’ve read several posts written directly from her front room. Here’s one of the last photos I captured as I wrote in my usual spot with the view of our typical silly socks.

This is where I feel a heart felt message would be appropriate about how she’s gone but her spirit still lives or maybe a few quotes about how she’ll never be forgotten… but I must admit again, words don’t even scrape the surface of her everlasting presence. I’m confident to speak for other family members and dear friends when I say that Sue Jackson Young is and always will be unforgettable.

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We can’t spend our lives waiting to live

I’d like to highlight a thought that I woke up with this morning. It’s lyrics from a song that were brought to my attention by a friend and her beautifully bold tattoo.

“We can’t spend our lives waiting to live”.  Rise Against

I feel so often we give excuses for why our greatest wishes are unreachable. Possibly even complaining about the current journey that’s getting us from an idea to a glorious reality. You hear comments like “I wish I could (fill in the blank) but I can’t because (fill in the blank)” or “I’m waiting until (fill in the blank) before I….”. You get the picture.

On a smaller scale, what about that dress or suit you bought and saved all year just to wear on your birthday out of town.  You had it hanging in your room, underneath a glowing light while counting down the number of days till you could show it off  (maybe not that extreme, but roll with me here).  You pack it up so nice and tidy and head to the airport. You, your friends and your excitement all arrive safely to the party-city except the bag. The airlines lost it. All that time with this amazing outfit to be shared and you (with no gaurentee of the future) waited and now… now it’s gone. 

If you truly have far future goals like writing a book, getting fit, a solid retirement, big house, travel, etc. then own it! Go for it, but enjoy the ride. However if you’re working to the bone, putting in long hours, missing family & friends, dreading Monday through Friday (which is over 70% of your life!) and doing all these things in misery with hopes that it might pay off “someday”, I suggest you reconsider your intentions.

I understand each situation has its own elements and I have no place to judge that, but for the most part… I just want to bring light to the idea that we are generally the ones that allow the limitations. How exhausting to constantly defend the “I’m stuck” routine. I’m still learning that we have created (either consciously and/or involuntarily) the numerous amounts of boundaries holding us back from enjoying today and I’ll give you one guess to whom can remove those restrictions. Times up… You know who.

I invite you to start peeling back even just one layer of self-inflicted obstruction that is limiting your grand potential. Ignite a flame that has never been lit or refuel a fire that was once raging with passion!

You shouldn’t spend your whole life waiting to live.

For a breath of fresh air or effortless smile, take a snoop at the Happy Thoughts page or Quotes. Sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded of ideas that we already know. 

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You’re never to old to play upside down!

On my first return to Barbados back in 2012 my friend Ryan introduced me to Shane De Freitas and the local adult gymnastics class. For the full flash back of those days see the post called Calories… love to consume them, love to burn them! Year after year I’d return to the family of gymnasts (who probably laughed at the fact that I just referred to us as “gymnasts”) for more fun and fitness. Last year we caught several action shots seen in A flippin good time. Thank you Mark Harris for the photo session! 

And now it’s 2017 and we play again! Photo credit to Matt Stone @ http://www.StoneSharpImagesPhotography.com

At any point in time during the session, there’s a large chance you’ll find our irreplaceable Andy perched on top of the mushroom (aka- meditating, relaxing, shrooming, cheating, sleeping, sitting or chilling).

Clearly we have no fun at all.

To wrap up another amazing day full of flips, twist, jumps, splits and laughs, we nailed a group photo on the first take (after a 20 minute discussion on where and how we’d do it).

Coach Shane, I hope you fully grasp the gratitude we all share for your willingness to coach our almost uncoachable personalites and laugh along with it. Beyond the smarty comments and occasional groaning (no names mentioned) we actually enjoy the quality conditioning that we claim to be torture. I’m confident to speak for the class that your absence leaves our Tuesday and Thursday evenings feeling a bit incomplete and rather… well, normal. We’re looking forward to your return while sending you all the luck and love you deserve! 

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You may be becoming a local Barbadian if…

  • You naturally read the title of this post as “yuh know ya iz a Bajan if”.
  • You run on casual island time… until you’re in your car. 
  • “Cheese on bread” no longer refers to an edible snack commonly requested by European children. It is now an expressive phrase appropriately placed in certain situations. (If you want a good laugh, check out the blog Cheese on Bread, they did such a great job with describing Ya know ya is is A Bajan when).
  • You involuntary stuepse (a sound made by sucking of the teeth) a person, situation or random action. It just comes out of nowhere! This should of been included in the post 5 not-so well known facts of Barbados.
  • You head to the beach in the pouring rain knowing it’ll be blue skies by the time you get there. Unless you’re a true local that’s afraid of water. Then you’re not going anywhere near the sea or out in the rain! “Bajans run to fire and away from water”.

And the most current realization that Iz-uh (an adopted) Bajan… Christmas takes second place to Boxing Day celebrations. All of a sudden Decemebr 25th feels like Christmas Eve to what’s ahead on the 26th!  

Boxing Day.

If you have boat, bring it. If you don’t arrive by water, bring some sort of creative floatation device. If you’ve left your raft at home, bring a blanket or a towel. If all else fails, just show up! It’s a cooler party which means you provide your own snacks and drinks as there’s none provided for purchase. To get the history and witness last years shenanigans, check out  Boxing Day, no gloves needed.

This year was yet another successful bundles of memories made at Reeds Bay Barbados. Big boats, rafts, jet skies, barge cruises, tents, umbrellas, the list goes on! Instead of my typical photo gallery, I’m going to post a video put together by Matt Stone. You’ve seen some of his work at Stone Sharp Images!

A special thanks to Brendon McKenzie (and probably a dozen others) for the organization and promotion of this event! 

Wishing you all a bright new year of beautiful adventures and love within!

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Handstanding to donate!

It’s that time of year again! I did a handstand with the intention of having you to take a shot for how long I held it. The person with the closest guess will then choose where herhappytrails donates this years $50 cash! 

Last year was 33 seconds and a split win! A special thanks to my buddy Cruz Gaskins who donated right back to herhappytrails (sneaky gift that was) and to Jessica Rendon for choosing the Rainforest Affiliation! 

Click here to watch the handstand from 2015

The year prior was 41 seconds and the charity that Mark Philipps decided on was Make a Wish Foundation!

Click here to watch the handstand from 2014

After 5 years and hundreds of handstands I still love to be upspide down, preferably in a place that I don’t speak the language and where several locals question my mental stability. Until that next brilliant opportunity, here’s a few examples of the toe points seen in the Handstanding around the world page.

Not that it will help your guess in any way, shape or form…. but below is a cute little collage of the first two years with the current handstand on the right. Good luck!

Now you ask, “But Erika, how do we ever join in this glorious fun?!” 

Easy as 1,2,3:

1. Make a guess.

2. Apply it in the comments below, email it to herhappytrails@yahoo.com or on Facebook.

3. Wait for the reveal! (On Dec 31st)

Much gratitude for taking the energy to read, contribute and continue spreading the joy of giving!
Many cheers and one love,
Erika Mae Young
RESULTS 18 seconds!  This year I had a little fun with the shot and went with a shorter time and more entertainment! Thanks for all the votes and major vote and the winner is sweet Erin Sanders! Her charity of choice will be announced soon. ​

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Love in the shape of music, art and traveling sand

Ok, catch up time! I’m currently sitting on the floor of the Fort Lauderdale airport. Why the floor? Ever have the time and space for stretching, flexing or relaxing? Use it! Check out my favorite airport session in the post Workout and rest up in Asian airports

Ok, why am I in route and where am I going… I’ll get back to that after I do a quick round up of the last few weeks. Here’s a few events that I probably should of done entirely separate posts for, but I didn’t, so here we go.

Music, art and beach time!

I’ll give you one guess on the talent that mom and I chose to spend time with? After the  several posts I’ve published on here, you’d have every right to assume it was the band Heritage. How lucky we were that my talented friends Dannica and her brother Ben were starting it off! Schatzti and the String Boffin opened in this backwoods feeling venue with grass as the dance floor, fire pits for warmth and a wooden built stage. Look familiar? This was the original venue in which I was first introduced to their happy and healing tunes. Welcome back to the Backyard Boogie



Art comes into play with a birthday! Matt celebrated his back on October 26th by hosting his first art reveal! From creative paint to photography and light painting, there was a variety of eye and mind stimulation. Go ahead, take a look around! 

Like what you see? Check out the real deal on his website by clicking Here!

We created a little bit of food art to compliment the drinks for the guests attending.

What goes well with food, drinks and art? Music of course! He brought in a few of his instruments for a proper set up and led with an open invite for whom ever wanted to participate.

What a stunning sunset to close out a successful birthday event!

The beach visit of this post has a warm undertone as there was great purpose for mom and I to wander to the shore with an empty container and camera. My sweet Grams back in Oklahoma has never seen the white sand of Florida and often questions the texture and shells that lay within. With this knowledge, mom had a brilliant idea of collecting some and bringing it back to her home in middle America. Good call mom!

Side note, I really did bring it back to her and it’s now the hot topic of her visitors (who are all used to the red dirt and rocks of Oklahoma).
So that wraps up a few pages to the last chapter, and yes, there’s a new one about to begin!  Thanks for supporting and being such a grand part of this incredible journey. I now invite you to love yourself and those around you with the pure kindness. Cheers to all of you beautiful souls! 

I’m being asked to stand as they just announced, “Now boarding, flight 385 direct to Bridgetown, Barbados.”

Next stop… Sandy toes and sun kissed salty hair!

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Ready for the hike! Where’s my blindfold?

Matt and I decided to hit the road and camp for two nights. No, not glamping as seen in the most recent post but good ol’ tent and dirty toes camping! 

Day one brought us to Pine Log State Forest in Northwest Florida. The drive alone was enchanting!

Step one, set up camp. Step two, sage the site. Step three, go for a hike! 

This trek started like none other as Matt suggested we approach it blindfolded! He read about a method in which you trust your instincts while embracing the other sensations around you. The sounds, the ground beneath your feet, the wind against your skin, the tree branch piercing your hip… I’m in!

Once the bandannas were removed we kept walking and I did find myself more appreciative of the glorious sights around us. Not only the ability to actually see where I was going, but the visual stimulation that came from such beautiful scenery.

We were “almost there” Matt confirmed a half dozen times (when clearly we weren’t) as we reached a sign that informed us that we were just barely a little over half way. Honestly it was so refreshing out there, neither one of us minded the extra walk as we laughed it off and kept going. The final stretch was well worth the long way back!

Dinner was veggies and chicken. Those who know me well, have the right to assume that I stuck with the veggies and let Matt battle the bird. With our powers combined (for all you Captain Planet fans) we had a delicious dinner! 

The sun peaking up was warm enough to draw you out of the tent while the chill factor had you reaching for a beanie. Camping weather at its finest!

So turns out we forgot all utensils, but remembered the French press. Go figure. Best backyard barista ever!

Breakfast? Matt thoroughly enjoyed his blueberry muffins as I awkwardly stared deeply into my yogurt. 

Me: “I think there’s raw chicken water in my yogurt.” 

Matt: “What? You still going to eat it!?”

Me: “Yep.”

I had opened it the night before and carelessly put it back in the cooler as if the ice wasn’t going to melt and allow most items to be completely submerged. Don’t worry mom, I scraped off the top layer first (to be said with love in a sarcastic backpacker tone). After consuming the twice blessed breakfast with fingers crossed, we packed up and hit the road to the next adventure! Miles up the highway brought us to Ecofina Creek and the popular Springs.

Just get in!  Sounds easy right? This is until your big toe scrapes the surface of this ice box! For most, this would be a lengthily process of creeping your way inch by brutal freezing inch. For me, it was all or nothing. Head first with no room for hesitation. And for Matt, I’m convinced he’s part marine life.

Deeper into the springs provided more quality shots and the occasional curious substance between your toes. Feel a little nibble? It’s just the fish providing a complimentary pedicure.

Last stop before finding our new sleeping location is called Devils hole. A hidden gem in the shape of a circle with depths only divers can tell you about. Last time Matt was here, he said it was dark and with fairly foggy waters. Today, it’s clear blue! 

The second site was set up quickly as we decided to ditch the tent and go rugged in the open sky. Hammock… check. Sage… Check. Hanging light… check. Good night!

How could I leave this place without a handstand photo?! We returned in the morning to the ice box Springs for a well worth shot, great capture Matt!

Several of the marvelous photos above were from Matt and his quality (aka- fancy or big boy) camera. For more of his work please visit the Stone Sharp Images webite. Care to see his version of our trip? Click here for his blog post!

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Excuse me glamper, did you say S’moreberry?

Some girls go to Vegas, others hit up Mexico (I’m guilty of both) and a few hit the sticks! Mom and I joined our dear friend Gloria for a ladies only camping weekend! Or maybe we should classify it under Glamping, defined as – a style of camping with amenities and in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Of glamour.

Meet the girls!

Now welcome to our weekend view! This beauty is located at St.Andrews park in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Sun-up is our alarm for a walk into the hmm, can’t really call it the wilderness and it’s not a town so we’ll just go with, a walk in the outdoors! 

Things you may see on a stroll through the paved wilderness. Birds, berries, butterflies, Bambie, bikers and the random tree huger.

As you trek the great pavement, you get to see how others have set up their site as well as where these campers have ventured from. I originally took photos of all the different license plates to show you, but then I realized that may or may not be crossing personal information boundaries. So, for what it’s worth there were over a dozen different states in just a short 1/4 mile stretch.

A bit up the way we explored an old Mill. I felt like kids on a field trip!

Other things we saw along the way.

This woman was collecting trash throughout the property. Thank you ma’am! 

What’s this? An adorable set up that appears to provide a stage and seating for special events. To me… a handstand podium!

Arriving back to the site brought on dinner followed by a friendly round of games complemented with a proper girls toast. These are those moments that, through laughter and genuine conversation you try to appreciate every beautiful second. 

Confession: the main reason I go camping is for the fire at night

How many girls does it take to open a folding chair? We don’t know.


On this evening, we brought out the ingredients for traditional s’mores (a delicate sandwich-like treat composing of chocolate and toasted marshmallow being held together by graham crackers). As we’re roasting, or in my case igniting, the marshmellows, mom gasps with excitement. “I’ve got it! What would this taste like with a warm strawberry inside?” Of course the next step was to try this campfire creation. Thus, the new dessert she appropriately named S’moreberry.

A special thanks to Gloria for sharing her space, energy and time. Our conversations are still present in my mind and I’m so grateful for the love and support. Cheers to the gypsies at heart!

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