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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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Do you all live in straw huts on the beach?

Although we may sleep under them, we don’t live in palm trees or forts made of sticks in the sand. Yes there’s clean water, paved roads and even electricity! (To be said with a slightly sarcastic undertone). We have convenient grocery stores with cheap local items and an abundance of over priced imported goods. In fact, on this beautiful island you can find rum cheaper than water and fresh tropical fruit growing wild along the road side. 

While enjoying our stay in Barbados, I wanted to give you a glimpse of where Matt and I are calling home away from… well, I guess this is home for now! It’s located fairly central with just a quick drive to the popular south and beautiful west coast beaches. Our cozy home is 2 bedroom, 2 bath with an inviting backyard hosting the guest cottage. Although the last kittens were adorable while living in the home seen in a past post,  I’d say this is one of the most comfortable pet sitting jobs we’ve done! Please, take a look around!  Below is the dining (we never eat here) and lounge (we never sit here) portion of the house that realistically is just a common area we pass through to get from our room to the kitchen.

We spend most of our moments outside, however the main two spots that consume our indoor time are the bedroom to sleep and bathe and the kitchen to prepare food and coffee.

If for a moment we want to chill out and get lost in a documentary, we’ll kick back and relax in the additional room.

Now to our prime spot of entertainment. The backyard is where we read, write, grill, eat, talk, nap, stretch and start and end every single day. This photo was obviously shot during my morning tea time.

That cute little cottage house in the back is perfect for our guests. Private full bathroom, coffee maker, mini fridge, a few seating options and an extremely comfortable bed. No need for a “do not disturb” sign as the only knocking you’ll here is from the monkeys on the roof trying to snag a mango off the tree overhead!

Looking past the cottage you’ll see a few neighbors tucked away behind the radiating green that catches the eye from tree to tree.

What else have we used this beautiful back area for? A party of course! Our last visitor had a birthday so we through together a barbeque (literally, Matt turned center blocks and a flower pot into a grill) and invited some friends! A few balloons, another grill and amazing people… success!

What does a group of spontaneous creative individuals do when united? Apparently the mannequin challenge! This was my first time ever hearing of such thing, but hey, it worked!! Check out the video made by Cole Huffer from Enlightened Studios!

No children were drinking before, during or after this video was filmed.

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Kadooment costumes… the band launch!

You’ve seen it on this blog time and time again…. guess what… it’s about that time again! Recent years and more history described in detail can be found by clicking here

Masquerading (dressing up incognito or costume) is an old African tradition in which to remove evil spirits and bring luck to the village, they’d dance around in masks and costumes. The basic attire was produced of things such as grass, twine, beads, feathers and bones. If this intrigues you, I highly suggest doing more research. It’s pretty interesting to see then compared to the elaborate designs now decorating the streets. Today it’s a celebration involving hundreds and thousands of people in several different countries parading around in elaborate costumes, bedazzled skin jewelry and detailed body paint. 

Just like last year, I was able to work with a great team putting together the grand finale showing off this seasons costumes. Designers Sheena Gill and Sandie Archer got observe their creations come to life with a runway show hosted at Harbour Lights in Bridgetown. With my hands in the hair working with the talented Anya Wiles, creative makeup artists, a variety of jewels and all final touches complete, we were prepped and ready for the event! Here’s an entertaining video produced by Matt Stone, followed by a few photos capturing the evening. Enjoy more pictures at www.stonesharpimagesphotography.com


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Surf, fish and strike a Pose! 

In the past few weeks Barbados has hosted some entertaining events bringing in people from all over the world.  Matt and I got to play a small role in a bundle of them, so let’s review!

First up was a surf competition on the popular beach called Drill Hall, better known as Brandon’s Beach. Local Barbadians competed along side surfers from Hawaii, Japan, Brazil, Australia, USA, France, Spain and other countries. It was heavenly to witness!

I was lucky enough to watch Matt work his magic from the shore line. What a view, eh? Not everyone gets to work under a palm tree surrounded by happy people, beautiful scenery and positive vibes. #grateful

 Some of my favorite shots of the day…

For event details, results and more photos please visit www.worldsurfleague.com

Ever heard of a fishing tournament ending at a yacht club with live music and a runway show? Me either…. until now! I don’t have many photos from the actual tournament as our part was primarily with the after party hosted at Port Saint Charles. Matt was the man behind the camera!

The drinks were flowing, the music was a hit (as always with Moo Town) and now the models take the stage! The dress attire may look familiar as this will be the third production that I’ve gotten to work with Kelly representing her unique boutique. These fun clips you can see in Kelly’s Kloset and Kelly does it again! 

Thank you Michelle and Kelly for the welcoming energy and wonderful experience! For more photos of the events above, please visit www.stonesharpimagesphotography.com

Sneak peak for the next post… (Enter really excited face here!) 

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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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