North America

North America, West

5 Ways to Spend a Socially Distanced Week in Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is the best weekend getaway in Southern California, home to festival culture, the desert and mid-century American history. COVID-19 hit Southern California hard, so I didn’t know what to expect from Palm Springs. It was much quieter than expected, with plenty of outdoor seating and all amenities still operating with COVID protocols!

1. Shopping, art museums, and foodie your way through Palm Desert, CA

I was so pleasantly surprised by Palm Desert! I had never been to the Palm Springs area before, but I knew that I had to visit Palm Springs. Palm Desert though, I had no idea about until I got there. Turns out, it’s known as the “5th Avenue of Palm Springs”, and that definitely holds true. The whole main street is so lovely, there isn’t a better name for it. Great restaurants, all had outdoor dining. Great stores, all with social distancing in place! There are also a few museums that have great outdoor sculpture parks to explore. For dinner a few nights, we went to Cafe Des Beaux Arts on El Paseo, and La Fe Wine Bar for happy hour!

2. A road trip down to Salvation Mountain in Slab City, CA

Salvation Mountain is SO interesting. A man came from Vermont back in the 1980s who had been called to share his message of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ. He wanted to use a hot air balloon, but I guess that didn’t work out so he started gathering a bunch of materials and made a man-made mountain to spread his word! Junk turned to clay turned to paint, and now Salvation Mountain is a pretty impressive monument in the center of this interesting migrant town known as Slab City, CA. Picture the exact opposite of what you think of Southern California–and that is this migrant community.

Reserve roughly 2 hours each way from Indio/Palm Springs Area to drive out to Salvation Mountain! It’s open during COVID times, and the volunteer working at the monument accepts donations to keep building this monument!

Read more about Salvation Mountain here.

3. A spa day in Desert Hot Springs, CA

Desert Hot Springs, CA was definitely my favorite day of the trip. I had no idea how special Desert Hot Springs was until I started pinteresting the night before our last full day of vacation!

Turns out, the town of Desert Hot Springs sits on natural hot and cold springs, and the town has turned itself into a collection of family-owned boutique hotels that offer day spa passes and hotel stays to take advantage of the mineral water!

I found a hotel that was open to day spa users during COVID (not the easiest to find), and we had the best day. We spent the day at Tuscan Springs Hotel & Spa, where you can spend up to 4 hours at the mineral pools with the purchase of a spa treatment. The facials we got were some of the best we had received in the US, and the mineral pools were amazing.

Aiden and I are moving to San Diego in May, and Desert Hot Springs is definitely a destination I want to make a weekend trip for us!

4. Golf (or relax by the golf course!)

I should start off with mentioning that I am, in no way, a golfer. I think I have held a golf club maybe twice in my life.

What I do love is time with my loved ones in beautiful places! Enter… golf courses. I was blown away by just how many golf courses exist in Palm Springs! My mom and I knew we wanted to spend Thanksgiving out having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We found a private golf course that happened to have a rocking Thanksgiving special, and we ended up going back a few times.

I realized that if you play golf, this is the place for you and if you don’t, this is STILL the place for you.

5. Take in Palm Springs architecture or have a pool day!

Aside from the Moorten Botanical Gardens (where we spent a few hours) and some great restaurants along the main avenue of Palm Springs, the architecture in this town in this incredible.

There’s a reason that Palm Springs architecture is so popular! It takes you back to the 1950s, 60s, 70s but also has so many modern elements! There are whole TV shows about Palm Springs architecture, so do yourself a favor and take some time to explore!

There’s a whole tour just of Palm Springs doors, so if that’s the case–just imagine the interior of the homes! One suggestion that I can make, if you want to spend the whole day relaxing in Palm Springs, get a hotel day pass to use the pool at one that catches your eye. Pool and architecture all in one!

Well, there you have it! Here are five ways to spend a socially distanced week in Palm Springs, CA! I had such a great time, and am already making plans to go back for a weekend in Palm Desert!

Hiking Southeast Alaska
Alaska Adventures, Life In Alaska, North America, West

Hiking in Southeast Alaska: Trails, Gear, Time To Go

Every Southeast Alaskan local has their own favorite outdoor activity. Fishing, hunting, ice skating, climbing, trekking.. you name it. My all-time favorite way to spend time in Southeast Alaska is by hiking. Kids start hiking in Juneau from the time when they’re still in carriers, and many of us grow up to be basically mountain goats. I want to chat about just a small number of my favorite trails in Juneau, some gear that I always bring, and the best time to go to Southeast Alaska!


I didn’t grow up like many Alaskan local kids. We moved from Europe to the United States when I was 7 years old and pretty soon after that moved to Juneau, Alaska. Growing up, we were always out walking, my dog was one spoiled pup. But, I never had a love for hiking new trails or getting to a new summit until I was a teenager. Plus, I had never spent a summer in Juneau until the summer after I graduated high school. If you miss the summer in Juneau, you miss a lot of hiking opportunities! I know the same is with all hiking in Southeast Alaska.

After I graduated high school, I got a job working for TEMSCO Helicopters (more on this amazing company and the Alaskan tourism vibe here), and I was surrounded by a group of people who were my age, lots of them have moved to Alaska specifically to spend time outdoors and we all explored together! I started hiking more and more and developed a real love for being able to summit a mountain in Juneau on my own two feet, then having the joy of jogging back down and having a great meal to end the day.


The beauty of growing up in Juneau is that a big chunk of the trails in the valley and the mountains are not technically difficult. Really, anybody can do them! My favorite part of coming back home when I haven’t been in hiking shape for a while is that I can always start easier, and the views are just as amazing on easier trails as they are on summits.

Growing up, we did a ton of amazing walks and more flat trails in the backcountry. The five major summits of Juneau are all roughly 2,500 feet in elevation, starting at sea level. The backcountry hiking is incredible and connects many major trails together. Those who really want a challenge find a way to do multiple day hikes in and near Juneau.

Southeast Alaska Hiking

Pretty basic gear would be fine to be comfortable while hiking. Really, in Juneau all you need is:

A backpack: waterproof if you can… I recommend Arc’teryx or Patagonia!

Good shoes (waterproof is preferred): I just bought these Merrells here.

Rain coat, rain pants, baseball cap: Gore-tex is your friend.

Layers: minimal hoods, make sure there’s a fleece somewhere in there!

If you’re hiking in the winter, Kahtoola Microspikes would be a great addition.

Living in Boston, people here always talk about the White Mountains and Presidential Traverse, and the way they describe this hike doesn’t seem too fun. All I hear are stories on how you can get all four seasons in a day, how you’re brutally cold at the top, how it’s rare to have a view from the summit, etc.

Luckily, Juneau is blessed to have the most amazing (in my opinion) mild climate perfect to be outside. It rains/snows 300 days out of the year, which is a lot, but some good rain gear and good shoes and you’re good to go!

Juneau Hikes all seasons


  • Dan Moller Cabin
  • Boy Scout Beach
  • Salmon Creek Dam


  • Windfall Lake Trail
  • West Glacier Trail
  • John Muir Cabin
  • All meadows!


  • Any lake trail! Dredge Lake, Mendenhall Lake etc…
  • Perseverance Trail


Juneau comes alive in the summer. One million tourists, more sunshine, blooming fireweed, 20 hours of sunlight, all the works! Some of my favorite hikes are: Mt, Juneau, Mt. McGinnis, Thunder Mtn, Boy Scout Beach and Dan Moller Cabin!

I’m looking forward to posting more hikes in Juneau, and help you with planning your next trip to the best state in the U.S.

Detouring Dana Signature
New England, North America, Travels

Acadia National Park Weekend: Eat, Stay, and Hike

Over Labor Day Weekend 2020, we decided to do our long-awaited camping trip to Acadia National Park! Only, COVID is here. This means that no park campgrounds are open, private campgrounds in Bar Harbor are packed, and there are a lot of RVs! We drove up to Maine on Saturday and were back in Boston by Monday night. Overall, I see the hype of Acadia. It was so beautiful, and really nice hiking! I’ve written up a guide on all things Acadia during COVID: where to eat, where to stay, and where to play (meaning, to hike)!


We are avid Hipcampers. If you don’t know what Hipcamp is, get ready. It’s one of our best finds in the Northeast! Hipcamp is Airbnb for camping, with a huge range in properties. You will find everything from pitching a tent in someone’s backyard for $15 (we’ve done that) to luxury Airstreams in Joshua Tree for $400 (we have not done that). We were hoping to set up camp somewhere in the vicinity of Acadia National Park, but could only find a site roughly an hour from the park. Park campgrounds are CLOSED and private grounds in the Bar Harbor area are either RV stations or motels.

We stayed here, and from what I understand it’s owned by one guy who decided to set up a campground and hook up his mobile home in the area! The property owner’s name was Wolf, he was super responsive, and had roughly 15 sites to set up at! There was a fully functioning shower and bathroom, and firewood for sale.

It was amazing. Out here in the middle of nowhere, right in the lobster fishing area of Maine, this campground was completely packed! We stayed two nights, and have nothing but positive things to say about it! It was roughly an hour away from the Park and the drive to get there was beautiful. Perfect for a weekend exploring Acadia National Park.


So, we got to Acadia on Sunday morning of the 3-day weekend, and knew we wanted to hike! Aiden has a lifetime National Parks pass, so luckily we didn’t need to wait in line to get a pass, but we saw signs everywhere that it is preferred you buy your pass online before entering the park. We stopped at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, where park rangers were stationed outside to give suggestions on hikes in the park.

We had friends who were driving up from New Hampshire and planned to meet us in Bar Harbor for lunch, so we only had time for a shorter hike. Also, the Park Loop Road at Acadia has a lot of one-way only drives, so if you start down one way, you will need to do the whole loop before finding an exit!


We wanted to do the North and South Bubble hike, as they are more difficult and higher than other hikes, but we are so glad we chatted with that park ranger. She mentioned that not only would we not be able to find parking at the Bubble trailheads, but there was no way we would make it to Bar Harbor by lunch. We would need to drive the whole one-way Park Loop Road instead of just turning around. THANK YOU ACADIA PARK RANGERS FOR THE GREAT ADVICE! She suggested we hike Dorr Mountain, the mountain next door to Cadillac Mountain, and it was great. The trail was straight up on the way down, but we opted to do the loop on the way down to not have to scramble down rocks.

Dorr Mountain is what’s known as a “ladder trail” where part of the trail you are maneuvering yourself on a rock or cliff side along rungs and ladders. It was super cool on the way up, but i’m glad we didn’t have to hike down that!


Our favorite topic… food and beer. We were ready for lunch after our hike at Dorr Mountain, so we jogged back down to the car, drove out to Bar Harbor, and waited for our friends! This Sunday happened to be the date of our Fantasy Football draft so naturally, we found a brewery in downtown Bar Harbor to quench our thirst and get our draft picks! Atlantic Brewing Co, thanks! They had a great blueberry ale, and lunch looked good too!

When our friends got to Bar Harbor, we went to the Thirsty Whale Tavern for lunch. This place was one of those where it wasn’t too attracted by tourists, but the food was great! I had my first-ever lobster roll… and I’ve been living in New England for 6 years.


After lunch, we decided to do the Ocean Path with our friends, as that was the best place for a sunset! On Ocean Path Road, you park on the side of the road and walk the path, but the path is right next to the road. It is absolutely beautiful and has some cool turn-offs to find cool views. We were tight on time, we decided to drive it from viewpoint to viewpoint! We stopped at Sand Beach Overlook and at Thunder Hole, and also found a few great side trails! Highly recommend, it is a busy path but understandably so.

So there, you have it! How to spend a weekend in Maine and one day in Acadia National Park! Of course, it would have been nice to camp in Acadia and do a few more hikes in the park (especially on a weekday). But, with what time we had, I feel like this was a perfect itinerary to get a feel for Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, ME! I hope you enjoyed reading this guide, if you want to receive to-the-point guides like this to your inbox, hit the subscribe button. Located at the top and bottom of this page!

P.S. This whole area of Maine has some of the best vintage and antique shops I have ever seen. If Aiden and I weren’t moving in a few months, I would have spent a week’s salary on shiplap, buoys, and vintage furniture. Definitely make a pit stop at some of these, they are amazing!