Friday Fives: October 6, 2017

Another two weeks has come and gone, and it’s time for my Friday Fives once more! I’m really loving these little biweekly opportunities to check in. I find myself looking forward to being able to give y’all these little insights to my daily life! So let’s jump in…

1. Big Bend

Matt and I haven’t gone on a trip together since early May, and that was just a long weekend type of trip to DC. Our last “real” vacation was to Canada over the New Year. We’ve definitely been feeling a little lost in the minutiae of adulting. So we decided to do a trip out to Big Bend National Park. Details aren’t finalized yet, but we’re thinking in early-mid November we’ll throw our gear in my RAV4 and head out west for some adventure. Just the thought of getting out on that open road through the desert makes my heart so happy. Look at that sight, it just screams adventure.

Photo by Paige Vaughn Photography. Paige was actually my AMAZING wedding photographer, and her photos of Big Bend have inspired me to plan a trip out there for myself!

We’ll spend a day and a night in Marfa before hitting the park, which I’m super excited about it. I’ve been dying to check out the arts scene in that little town for years. And that Prada store photo op is calling my name as well.

Then we’ll head out to the national park to some backpacking and camping! I am so excited for these views!

2. Force of Nature

In planning for Big Bend, we went to REI (AKA my favorite store in the universe) to shop for some gear. Matt is an Eagle Scout and has done long backpacking trips at Philmont, so he has an awesome tent, backpack, sleeping bag, and other various camping needs. So with most of that gear supplied, I just need a few things, like a good backpack. I tried on the REI Flash 45 Pack and fell in love. It’s a great size, and it’s lightweight but durable.

When we were shopping around REI, I came across this bandana.

“Be a legend. Rock a Boat. Start a Fire. Outside – The largest level playing field. A woman’s place is in the wild.”

HELL YES. I looked into this Force of Nature campaign, and fell in love with it. According to REI’s research, 72% of women say they feel liberated or free when they are outdoors, but only 32% describe themselves as “outdoorsy.” One of the most cited reasons for this is the primarily male-dominated news, social media, and marketing around the outdoor industry. In response to this, REI launched Force of Nature earlier this year as a commitment to making women the prime focus of the company’s nonprofit investments, gear development, and marketing for 2017.

The initiative includes putting more than $1 million of the company’s community investments directly into nonprofits that get women and girls into the outdoors. How amazing is that?

Sidenote: Hey mom and dad, thanks for taking me on all those hiking trips when I was younger and always encouraging my wild side. I am forever grateful to you both for teaching me that as a woman, I don’t have to conform with anyone’s idea of what I should be.

3. Little Bits of Home in Houston

I stumbled across a German restaurant in my area of Houston last week and on impulse, Matt and I decided to have dinner there. Y’ALL. It was the best German restaurant I’ve been to since I moved to the states 10 years ago. The food was great. Matt had Wienerschnitzel and I had Cordon Bleu. But mostly it was the atmosphere, right down to the crappy German pop music they were playing. It just felt right. As we were leaving, I noticed there was a map of Germany with a bowl of pushpins next to the front door.

I picked up a pin, and place it on my German hometown, Vilseck. I was actually surprised to see someone pinned nearby at Grafenwöhr. Small world I guess?

4. Local Adventuring

Matt and I did some Houston adventuring on Sunday! We went to the Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. One of my Surfrider friends was there helping her girlfriend man her farm’s booth, and they gave us some free sausage sticks. YUM. I also purchased (and devoured) a delicious avocado goat milk popsicle.

After the market, we looked up a list of the best pizza places in Houston and decided to try Piola for dinner. We shared an amazing Pompei pizza that reminded me of real, true Italian pizza. We went next door for dessert in the form of the most beautiful macarons I have ever seen.

Once we were adequately stuffed, we went to Museum of Fine Arts to kill some time before our concert. We became members there earlier this year, so we can go for free whenever! The museum is so large, we were only able to poke around a small section of the European art collection before it was time for us to head over to White Oak Music Hall.

White Oak was an interesting venue. It’s located in the middle of a neighborhood (which I learned was the source of several lawsuits), where you would least expect a venue of its size to be. They have a nice lawn, so we staked out a spot to sit through the show because I’m an old lady and am not down to stand for 3+ hours at a show anymore. We saw Father John Misty, an artist I’ve been wanting to see for years now.

It was a fun day of adventuring around our own city!

5. 79 days till Japan!

With each passing day, we get more and more excited! We’re still planning for our big trip, but nothing too intense. Just watching more YouTube videos of travel vloggers who’ve visited Japan and the like.  We’ve discovered a few stops we want to add in to our itinerary. The coolest is a small attraction in Nagoya.

If you’re a Ghibli fan you’ll recognize this as Satsuki and Mei’s house in My Neighbor Totoro! Matt and I discovered it had been built for the World’s Fair in 2005. It’s on our way from Tokyo to Kyoto so we figured we’d just add a pit stop in Nagoya!

I’ve been doing a lot of research into finding tattoo friendly onsen along our route, but I don’t feel like I’m having much luck. So I guess it’s hello Kat von D tattoo foundation. A little explanation on this: in Japan, tattoos have come to be associated with gangs like the Yakuza, so most onsen and ryokans will not accommodate someone with a tattoo. Even if you’re a Westerner, and obviously not a gangster. There has been a slight upswing in tattoo friendly onsen, but most of the famous spots are still steeped in tradition. Apparently they’re changing the rules for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, but only for Westerners in order to stimulate the economy that much more by making exceptions. Sadly, my trip is way too far before that to reap the benefits. Oh well!

Have a great weekend, and happy wanderlusting, friends!


  • Cait

    oh my gosh how cool is this 🙂 great post girl!

    October 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm Reply
  • ChrissyAdventures

    I have always wanted to visit Big Bend. I even considered adding it to my bucket list but for some reason I didn’t

    October 6, 2017 at 2:25 pm Reply
  • Carley

    Wow. Big Bend looks beautiful. My husband and I LOVE to camp in national parks but with the addition of our favorite little people, we haven’t really had the opportunity. Maybe someday we’ll be able to get back out there! Have a great time on your trip. I feel like November would give you great weather.

    October 6, 2017 at 2:33 pm Reply
  • Jackie |

    Love this! You are one lucky girl experiencing nature and traveling. Keep enjoying life!

    October 6, 2017 at 8:09 pm Reply
  • Dr. K. Lee Banks

    Wow, you have had some amazing adventures – and more planned! Hiking and scenery are always wins in my opinion, especially right now in New England, with the fall foliage. I’ve never heard of that Force of Nature initiative. Sounds fascinating! So it sounds like some parts of Houston (at least where you visited) have recovered from the hurricane and flooding?

    October 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm Reply
    • aroundtheworldinkatydays

      Recovery is still an ongoing process. All of the places I mentioned in this post were not affected by the flooding, but there are still many businesses I frequent who are closed indefinitely due to rebuilding efforts.

      October 8, 2017 at 7:46 pm Reply
  • Jen Ambrose

    I know some people with tattoos who stayed at this ryokan/onsen, in case you want to check it out!

    October 27, 2017 at 2:59 am Reply
  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: