Book Review: The Oregon Trail A New American Journey

51xuy5BQbrL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_This book impacted me in such a significant way that after I read it I listened to it on Audible to further soak in the harrowing quest that the author undertook. It is the most quintessential American journey and included all of the elements of a story that I love: history, pioneers, nature, hiking, overcoming obstacles, sibling time, perseverance… just to name a few.

Rinker Buck and his brother Nick set out to complete the Oregon Trail in the original mule and covered wagon set up common to the time. Although now the trail has many modern inconveniences (highways, private land) these brothers had the gumption to take on the American West. The interweaving storyline of their journey sprinkled with the historical accounts of everything from the food that pioneers ate, how mules came to be such a commodity, the types of wagons, heroes on the trail – most interestingly in my opinion Narcissa Whitman – were researched so thoroughly that I could so easily picture the journey that American ancestors embarked on.

In some ways, this book encouraged me to take my own American adventure (documented here). I drove 8,000 miles around the American West from my hometown near Seattle down the Oregon and California coast, into the desert of Arizona, up through the mountains in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and finally the home stretch of Montana and Idaho until we were home again. My own trip took 2 months (vs the 4 months it took Rinker and Nick Buck – using a different route and means of transportation obviously) and we drove through some of the land that the heroes of the book trekked. I cannot express how much value this book added to my life and the trip I took.

The collective American Dream might just be a crazy-ass (a term that Rinker uses regularly to describe his recklessness) choice, throwing caution to the wind and embracing our American roots: risk-takers, adventurers, and curious about the natural world.


Book Report: Boomerang

58905a1d444db99566542d2e8a24Everything from doomsday naysayers to eccentric millionaires that stockpile gold, Michael Lewis will take you on a compelling trip around the world into the finances of governments in dangerous and powerful positions, and how they got there. A subject that normally does not attract a wide-ranging audience, Boomerang delivers a colorful illustration of the rise and fall of economic and financial realities that shook nations and is still affecting the outcome of our world market today. I highly recommend Boomerang to anyone who enjoys a quick, entertaining read.

Charity: a holiday gift

b6db39fe5c3875d19a20c80c3a285ae2There is something special about giving to loved ones during the holidays. This year I am challenging my friends to give me the gift of charity.

The following are causes and organizations that I deeply care about:

  • Care
    • Empowering women & girls: One of the root causes of poverty is women and girls’ lack of control over their lives. But once empowered by education, economic opportunity or choice, a woman can be a catalyst for positive change in her community.
    • Responding to emergencies: In times of conflict or disaster, we address immediate survival needs directly following an emergency — and help individuals, families and communities rebuild their lives in the weeks, months and years to come.
  • PATH
    • PATH is breaking every barrier to unlock a healthier future for women, children, and communities in the world’s poorest countries.
  • Sierra Club
    • Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters. Our successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. More recently, we’ve made history by leading the charge to move away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy.

A comprehensive list of charities organized by category is available here. Happy shopping!

Book Report: If Mayors Ruled the World

barber_comp-rev-1-678x1024I enjoy studying different governing structures and was intrigued by the elusive title If Mayors Ruled the World. This book, written by Benjamin Barber, was well researched and had many fascinating anecdotes and mini-biographical accomplishments of a few selected mayors. It was thought-provoking and opened my eyes to various world-wide city executive roles, however, I feel that many of the so-called accomplishments of the mayors were credited when it was not solely a local achievement, often times with the help of local business and state, national and even international governance and leadership.

I am, however, open-minded and enjoy daydreaming about how different society would be if we had a different government structure and if politics were less important. Personally, I find that local government is the most over-looked yet the most impactful element of government for citizens’ day to day life. (This past August primary  Washington State had only a 24.37% voter turnout… yet these are the elections that arguably generate the most powerful impact on Washingtonians directly.)

The Freakonomics blog explains, “[m]ayors, Barber argues, are can-do people who inevitably cut through the inertia and partisanship that can plague state and federal governments. To that end, Barber would like to see a global “Parliament of Mayors,” to help solve the kind of big, borderless problems that national leaders aren’t so good at solving.”

Parliament of Mayors… I’d be interested to see how that goes, if it ever gets off the ground!

Squad Goals: Kai Ryssdal

54caa1df51062027081eef93_imageThere is something to be said about a radio host that captivates an audience at the level that Kai Ryssdal, host of Marketplace from APM, does. I have listened to Marketplace for approximately six years and every time, whether the features are of interest to me or not, I find myself truly engaged.

I read this article 2 years ago (surprising for me because I seldom read Vanity Fair) and it stuck with me, particularly his willpower with everything he does “I do not suffer fools gladly” … someone who would fit in well with my “squad.” 🙂

What You Should Know About Kai Ryssdal, Sarah Ball Vanity Fair

Climate 101

I am a new member of Climate Reality Project and I recommend spending some time reading through their material and watching the videos they have produced. In the meantime take a moment to view this video that explains in simple terms what climate change is all about narrated by no other than Bill Nye, The Science Guy!

In Defense of Kim Kardashian’s Maternity Style

In Defense of Kim Kardashian’s Maternity Style

I hope I get no negative feedback from this… I know she is an unpopular celebrity, but the criticism is horrible and I absolutely agree with this article.

“[S]he reminds us all that women need not only become vessels of the unborn, we deserve and are entitled to maintain our identities through our personal style.”




Now that I have a career in the hair & beauty industry, many of my posts will relate to what I am learning, trends, and anything I find interesting! This Elle article on hair care is something I truly take to heart! (I actually just bought Kérastase Initialiste just a week ago!)

“How to get the best hair in the world: tips, products, and techniques to make locks long and lustrous.”