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My Favorite Things in 2016 (An Otherwise Terrible Year)

I surfed, snorkeled, skydived, zip-lined, went spelunking and scuba dived.

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I climbed eight mountains over 14,000ft.

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I flew another 50,000 miles this year (that equals flying around Earth twice).

I checked two more countries off my list – Bahamas and Azores Islands (Portugal).

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I went to Hawaii to be in the wedding of one of my oldest friends from high school.

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I traveled all over the country for work and ate cake for dinner more times than I can count (and got lost on a lot of runs in new cities).

I went snowboarding in Aspen, Vail, Loveland, Keystone, A-basin.

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I competed in my first crossfit competition, went to the crossfit games in LA and overall became a better athlete.

I got a ridiculous speeding ticket because I was late to Murph on Memorial Day.

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Besides all of the cool stuff I got to do this past year, 2016 seriously sucked. Amiright?

And I’m not one of those “my life sucks because I make my life suck and I like being miserable” kind of people… I love my life. I have amazing friends, a good job, a supportive significant other. But there was just something about this year that just dragged on and felt like I kept getting kicked when I was down. But, it’s finally over and we can pretend like this year didn’t exist and we can move on, woo!

This year, I want to focus on becoming a better athlete – a better friend – and a better photographer. I want to keep giving back to the people who are always there for me when I need them. I want to continue to push myself athletically and achieve all of my fitness goals for 2017 (I made all but 1 this last year!).

2017 can only be better, right?

…Right?!

To pack it or not to pack it?

I am a serial overpacker.

Who doesn’t need four swim suits and thirteen tank tops to choose from on a one week trip?! Oh… right, no one. I’m (ridiculously) that person who thinks “what if I don’t like the clothes I brought when I get there?” ha, well… then maybe you shouldn’t own those clothes in the first place and should donate them. Who keeps clothes they don’t like? Friggin’ idiots.

I’m trying to get better about it. But seriously… it’s just a compulsive overthinking problem I have (throughout my entire life, really). I’m also always frantic about not packing enough socks. SOCKS! If I don’t have enough socks, my life is in shambles.

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Luckily this trip I’m packing for does not need to be glamorous or fashionable. I’m heading to an island in the North Atlantic for a week of hiking and exploring with my brother (more on that later!). I’ve convinced myself to bring JUST enough clothes and clothes I CAN re-wear and take from land to sea. Translation: 3 pair workout tights, 1 pair hiking pants, 1 pair hiking shorts, 1 lightweight rain jacket, 3 sweaters, 1 long sleeve layer, 3 dri-fit t-shirts, 5 tank tops, 2 swim suits, 7 metric tons of socks, 3 pairs of shoes. Yes, everything I own is always covered in a nice layer of cat hair.

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I’m wearing a super comfortable pair of Nike running tights right now. They were RB’s. Now they’re mine. What kind of girl can fit in the same running tights as their 6’3”, Army S.O.? Eat a sandwich boo, lawwwwd. I might feel bad about myself if I didn’t have a great gigantic butt. Thanks CrossFit, u da real MVP. #Flawless.

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I know what you’re thinking – “CBrown, you’re talking about not taking a lot of shit and you’re bringing three pairs of shoes, you fucking clown”. Accurate assessment, young Padawan. However I need a pair to run in, because running on the beach is the only time I enjoy running and I’m decently fast when I’m at sea level and not suffocating at my normal Mile High elevation. One pair of hiking boots for the volcanos/rougher terrain, one pair of quick dry hiking shoes for when we rappel and go into the caves. See? Logical. Kind of. Whatever.

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Best thing I ever learned about packing? ROLL ALL THE THINGS. Seriously. Trust me. This is magical.

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My backpack is stuffed with all of my digitals and goodies. Mac, GoPro, Nikon w/ tripod, iPhone and books. Seriously, I guard this thing with my life when traveling because if I lose this thing… my entire social connection is gone. Plus, $$$$. Should I tell the internet where I carry all my valuables? Probably not. I trust you guys though. Also, snacks. Because I’m always hungry and I’m not nice when I’m hungry. Why do kid’s Clif bars come in the good flavors like chocolate brownie and iced oatmeal cookie? Do adults not like these things? I always buy the kid’s ones, mostly because I’m an overgrown kid.

Only thing that didn’t make it in my suitcase? This creature.

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Home Sweet Mountains

Colorado is seriously a terrible place to live.

How do people do it?

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I mean, it’s hideous. There’s mountains and sunsets over mountains and sunrises over mountains. I guess it’s alright if you’re into that kind of thing.

Here I am, on the side of a mountain in a blizzard, 8,802ft up in the air. I’m cold as f*ck in my one too few bottom layers, the wind is whipping 45mph across the bluffs and I can’t find the god damn lake I’m looking for because it’s a white out and I’m also a terrible navigator. I’m standing on a ledge, on the side of a mountain, 8,802ft up.

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And it is WONDERFUL.

I haven’t gotten out to hike and explore as much as I wanted to last summer when I first moved here, so I figured on a 55 degree day in Denver, what better to do than head up to Estes Park for a little day trip? The weather must be nice.

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WRONG. What I forget about Colorado a lot is how different the weather can be one mile to the next. And the weather is not the same in the mountains as it is in the city. 55 degrees and clear blue skies in Denver… 29 degrees, frigid wind, blizzard in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even though we didn’t expect this kind of snow, we trudged on and got two good hikes in. Thankfully, we both had enough gear to stay pretty warm and we stayed on trails that were mostly sheltered by trees. Mostly.

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While the conditions didn’t leave much for scenic viewing, it did give us some nice windburned cheeks and froze our hair right to our foreheads. Only once did we think one of us would go tumbling down the side of the mountain, I think that qualifies as a win. I can’t even tell you how happy my butt was to find a heated seat in the car afterwards. While we defrosted, we cheers’d to our Galentine’s Day adventure with skittles and sour gummy worms and wished we had brought some beers for liquid warmth.

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As we made our final descent down the mountain, our sunglasses we hindering our sight in low light so we packed them away (after almost losing them in a snowbank). As we had on the way up, we gave a friendly greeting every person we saw along the way – blame the midwest nice in us, I guess. Most people looked at us kind of weird this time and we weren’t sure why… until we got to the car and noticed the mascara literally raccooning our eyes. Whoops. Sorry for the nightmares, strangers.

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Across the whole day, we covered probably 5 miles in the snow across two trails. We trekked to Dream Lake and got about 3/4 of the way up Bierstadt Trail before turning around due to weather conditions. Next time, we plan on taking Dream Lake further to Emerald Lake and tackling more of the trails in the park. We also decided we will check the weather a little more closely before heading up.

 

Sleepy in Seattle

Seattle is one of my favorite U.S. cities ever.

My favorite sushi restaurant is there, you can go from sea level to 14,000ft up a mountain in the same day and best part: one of my best friends in the whole universe lives there!

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Enter: Blake Perseus R-Dizzle! He’s about to become a big fancy pilot. He’s lived like everywhere in the world and jumps off cliffs for fun and is into some really weird shit. We have the best kind of friendship. Mostly because of our mutual love for weird shit.

Exactly nine days before I packed my truck and drove 918 miles to Colorado, Blake moved to Seattle to finish up his flight instructor hours so he can officially become a pilot. Even though I still kind of hate him for leaving, I have a reason to go out to Seattle and a place to stay.

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Not surprisingly, some of the weirdest moments of my life happen with Blake. One of the first times I ever hung out with him, we went to some, uh, specialty shops in Denver to look for some items for his very specific interests. I know that’s annoyingly vague, but he will know what I’m talking about and my mom reads this and she doesn’t need details.

There’s the one time we got super drunk at a bowling alley in the middle of a Colorado blizzard, jumped a fence at a neighboring apartment complex and hopped in the hot tub to warm up (#DrunkLogic). Then I couldn’t get my jeans back on because jeans + wet skin = so much nope, so I ran down the middle of the street with no pants on, in a couple feet of snow, in a blizzard (speaking of things my mother doesn’t need to know, ha!).

There’s the time I went to a wedding with his family in his homeland of Long Island, NY and we drank endless amounts of Jameson chased with Bud Light (I just vomited in my mouth), chugged a bottle of champagne before the wedding/church and I almost was eaten by a wolf spider next to the pool, nursing a hangover from the above bad decisions. While eating a bacon, egg, cheese, salt, pepper, ketchup sandwich. What?

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One day while sitting at my desk, I decided I wanted my favorite Seattle sushi, I missed the shit outta Blake and I had some Delta miles sitting around. So, I pitched the greatest idea ever: Seattle. Food. Tour. I got my big hungry ass on a plane and spent the next 38.5-hours eating, laughing, being touristy and eating. And eating.

We went to Pike Place, naturally, and spent the day wandering around downtown. We ate donuts, ovaltine lattes, sushi, tacos, fish and chips, burgers, and molten lava cakes with boozy milkshakes. Oh god, the lava cake. The peanut butter, caramel & whiskey milkshake. Be still my sugar packed heart.
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We also went to the Space Needle and rode the gigantic tourist trap Seattle Great Wheel (hi, I was terrified) and took a nap. The nap might have been the best part of the whole weekend – both of us don’t take (and can’t take) much down time in our day-to-day lives, so when we’re together we spend all of our time just forgetting the universe exists and giggling about nothing. And eating. And watching Sriracha documentaries. And napping for at least 3-4 hours at a time.

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See you soon, B. Perseus!

Where we ate:

Top Pot Doughnuts

Los Agaves Tacos

Jack’s Fish Spot

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery

Umi Sake House

The Gourmet Burger Shop

How to (Almost) Get Left in Amsterdam

Oh, Sweden. What a delightfully weird little place you are.

I tried caviar paste out of a tube. I ate green, whiskey-scented pastries called “dammsugare”, that literally translate in English to vacuum cleaner.

I drank (five) $19USD mojitos in a yacht club that was half rum lounge, half baby-boomer dance party run by a Swedish-fitness-celebrity-turned-DJ.

Stenungsbaden Yacht Club

Stenungsbaden Yacht Club

On our last day, we wandered around Gothenburg. We went to the art museum, did some shopping and enjoyed some of the best desserts and mochas at a French patisserie.

Le Pain Francais - Gothenburg, Sweden

Le Pain Francais – Gothenburg, Sweden

I tried really, really hard to miss all of my flights back to the good old U. S. of A. (Read: sarcasm, I had a very rough day of traveling.)

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Final approach into Amsterdam

We got lost on the way to the airport in Sweden. In Amsterdam, I waited for my friend to come back from the bathroom (like he asked me to do) and he ended up going to the gate and not telling me, so I barely made it to the gate before the closed the doors (four minutes and a sprint to be exact). In Minnesota, I had 57 very short minutes to deplane, clear immigration & customs, exit the Delta terminal, re-enter the main terminal for my Frontier connection, go through security, get to my gate and board for Colorado. I learned that it’s deemed “illegal” to book an international connecting flight with less than one hour – thanks sassy Delta flight attendant, I realize how ill planned this decision was.

I did end up making it back to Denver. My nerves were shot, I had been up for almost 36 hours (which is a really long time for me) and the third plane of my 5,500+ mile trans-Atlantic trip was full of really drunk early 20-somethings.

When I was picked up, the first thing I said was “Hi, thanks for getting me, I missed you! But hey, can we stop by the liquor store on our way home? I need like nineteen beers rightfuckingnow.”

Mjölkeviken (Milk Bay)

I’m a city girl.

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I like skyscrapers, bright lights and commotion. I leave my windows open because the sounds of muffled drunken laughter and car horns traveling up the sides of my building help me fall asleep. Being no more than fifteen minutes from anything I could possible need – groceries, clothing stores, auto repair, emergency center – is comforting to me.

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Being in the middle of Swedish countryside is out of my element.

The winding dirt roads lead into lush, vibrant green rolling hills hiding small villages and shops. There are animal and produce farms tucked away a couple kilometers off the main road. In the morning, the fog lifts slowly over the roofs of sleepy cottages sprinkled throughout the villages to reveal the brightly painted houses each adorned with a Swedish flag out front.

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The water in the Mjölkeviken is so still and untouched, it looks like glass. Even a whisper echoes off the rocky cliffs concealing the bay, which is also surrounded by forests

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It’s about a thirty-minute drive into the next biggest town, Kungälv. It’s an hour to a major city, Göteborg. It’s so peaceful here that it puts me slightly on edge.  I look out the kitchen windows and there is nothing but darkness, not even lights from the neighboring cottages. There is no noise outside except for Minerva (McGonnagall, duh) the cat meowing to be let inside.

I hear wine is great at calming nerves. Did I mention it’s $14USD for two bottles of decent wine? Perhaps the silence won’t keep me up too late tonight after all.

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Hej från sverige! (Sweden)

It’s a good week to be me #NotSoSubtleBrag.

I’ve checked another continent off the bucket list: Europe! Total: 4 out of 7. Remaining: Africa, Asia and Antarctica.

I’m sitting in the sunroom of quaint red house with a Swedish flag out front. I’m on an island, off the west coast of Sweden, in the countryside. Are you confused? Good, me too. We’re in Tjörn, about an hour north of Gothenburg.

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I’m nine hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time in the U.S., so quite literally on the opposite schedule of everyone back home. Between the time difference and the limited wifi available, I only have a couple hour window of communication with everyone back home. Yes I’m alive, yes Sweden is amazing and yes I am probably coming back. Probably.

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I have had so much coffee the last few days here in Sweden. I don’t drink coffee back home in the U.S. anymore, so I’m surprised my heart hasn’t exploded or entirely stopped. But, with the 8 hour time change and acclimating to a new schedule I re-discovered my habit.

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We took the ferry to Marstrandsön to wander through Fortress Carlsten. It was really, really unsettling to go into actual cells where prisoners were held, but of course I had to touch everything and run into every room on my own when no one was looking. It’s a miracle I actually didn’t get lost or left behind. I also probably have some new bad juju. Oops.

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Welcome!

Hi!

I’m Chelsea and I’m crazy obsessed with traveling the world and seeing everything. And cats. I love cats.

I have a cut-out of my cat, Jonah, that routinely travels with me. Yep, it's just as crazy and weird as it seems.

I have a cut-out of my cat, Jonah, that routinely travels with me – it is JUST as weird and hilarious as it seems. This is where the saga of cardboard Jonah started, Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

I started this blog as a place to digitally keep my all of my crazy thoughts and travels. The name Lost & Finding is based on my extreme wanderlust and always wanting to get lost in another new place, and that I’m still finding and discovering the world (I can’t actually take credit for coming up with the name. Shoutout to my homie Bill for the clever name – u da best!)

I hope to provide a closer look into my adventures and inspire someone else to get out and see the world or try something scary, new or different.

I have one goal, to visit all seven continents. As of this post, where I am currently in Sweden, I’ve visited four. I started traveling about two years ago and have been hooked ever since. One of my favorite travel tracking sites, TravellersPoint, tells me I’ve flown over 86,000 miles in the past couple years. I guess you could say I’ve been busy!

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Map created using TravellersPoint

I haven’t yet seen the world, but I certainly plan on it! I like to always tell people “I have nowhere to go but everywhere”!