Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Trip to Cinque Terre

Written by Ryan Schaller, Men's Technical

Inevitably, when Americans think of Italy, they first think of pasta, Rome, and maybe even Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. Italy, however, has so much more to offer. Hidden among the Italian Riviera, along the western coast, lies the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO world heritage site. Cinque Terre is made up of five small fishing villages set up high into the cliffside. Last July, I was privileged enough to hike through some of the Cinque Terre trails and its imagery still remains indelible in my memory. 

I chose to stay in La Spezia, a smaller urban area near Pisa, but also close to Cinque Terre. There, I was easily able to rent a relatively inexpensive Airbnb for the week. The small city of La Spezia was a great home base complete with fantastic calzones, shopping, and even a large harbor. From La Spezia, I was able to take a train to the first village of the Cinque Terre chain: Riomaggiore. The train takes roughly 10-15 minutes and once in Riomaggiore, it’s extremely easy to transfer between the other villages of Manarola, Carniglia, Vernazza, and Monterrosso. The villages are linked together by both hiking trails and a train. The hikes themselves were relatively challenging, but being able to stop and relax in each village was a huge bonus. I started the day off around 9:00 a.m. and was able to get through all the trails save for two, opting to take the train between Carniglia and Vernazza, and from Vernazza to Monterrosso. Because of the fact that the hiking trails are set up high on the cliffside, some trails close with the seasons due to debris, landslides, etc. and when I went, I was unable to go through several trails. Nevertheless, I was extremely happy to find that it wasn’t necessary to get a guide, since the trails are full of signs and usually crowded with other hikers and tourists. A tip for future travelers: bring lots of water and plenty of sunscreen! These are two things I didn’t purchase enough of beforehand, and the consequences were brutal, especially under the Italian summer sun. Regardless, the trails offer periodic stops where hikers can beach and swim at the lower points to cool off. The villages too provided much rest and relaxation in between hikes. 

Focaccia bread, white wine, and pesto. These were my three staples throughout the trip. After finishing the day in Monterrosso, I headed to a beachside restaurant called Cantina. I ordered the pesto pasta, and although the meal was expensive for the portion I received, the quality of the food was well worth it. Earlier on in the day I also snacked on Italian prosciutto and focaccia bread, both of which were fantastic. Finally, I ended up finishing the day by watching the sun set over the Mediterranean with calamari in hand. I subsequently took the train back to my Airbnb in La Spezia that night with many hopes to return to Cinque Terre in the future. A presto Italia!

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Perfect Way to Say Thank You This Mother's Day!

Written by Alissa R. and Katie S.
Women's Fashion Employees

It’s finally springtime! With the warm weather comes sunny days, blooming flowers, green grass, and of course, May 14th, a day to celebrate the most special person in our lives - our moms!

Bivouac is your one-stop-shop for all-things Mother’s Day. We’ve gathered a few of our favorites that will be perfect for your mom, wife, or that special woman in your life. Whether she’s stylish, athletic, comfy, or all three, we’ve got something for her.

For the young, fashionable mom:

Our AG top has a light, airy feel, and won’t weigh down your wife as she chases your youngins around. It has a buttoned keyhole in the front for a little bit of a spicier look. The shirt is perfect for a day on the town or dressed up with dark jeans and our new, featured Dolce Vita 3-Strap Sandals (stylish and comfortable!) for a dinner date.

To add a more personal touch, try adding one of our delicate initial necklaces - a perfect gift that she can wear everyday. Find her initial, or get her your son or daughter's initial, complete with his or her birthstone (birthstone charms available in-store!). That way, she can have a little part of her child no matter where she goes.

Get the look here:

Wallin and Buerkle Initial Necklace In-Store Only

For the active mom who’s always on the go:

Our Patagonia dress is light, breathable, and a thin cotton material to whisk away unwanted summer sweat. It’s perfect for days sitting outside on the patio, or even athletic enough to wear on the go. Dress it up with nice sandals and a sweater for a perfect date night outfit! 

Our Kavu Rope Bag is perfect an active day, whether that means taking a day trip through Nichols Arboretum or a day of running errands. With an adjustable shoulder strap and multiple, easy to access pockets and components, this bag is comfortable and functional without sacrificing style.

Get the look here:

For the yogi mom:

Any yoga-obsessed mother or wife will love a new yoga mat, paired with our adorable, embroidered Prana yoga bag. It will be easy for her to carry her mat to and from the studio. It might even make it easier for her to convince her to go to a yoga class with her!

Get the look here:

For the mom who deserves a moment to relax:

Our moms and wives deserve a day off every once and a while, since we know how much they do for us each and every day! Bivouac has the perfect assortment of gifts to treat your mom to a relaxing day off. Pair one of our Voluspa candles with a set of matches for her to take a deep breath with one of her favorite books or a glass of wine, poured into our popular Jac Vanek wine glass! She will thank you!

To add onto her day of relaxation, Kiehl’s is a go-to. Whether it’s the popular Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask or some Creme de Corps Body Lotion, you can’t go wrong! Add some Kiehl’s products into the Vineyard Vines Makeup Bag for a perfect pampering kit.

Get the look here:

Decorative Matches In-Store Only

Vineyard Vines Makeup Bag In-Store Only

Assorted Kiehl's Products In-Store Only

And finally, the most important thing to give your mom this Mother’s Day is a huge “Thank You!" We have the perfect cards to say thank you for everything, from dealing with our meltdowns to supporting us along the way.

Flair and Paper Greeting Cards In-Store Only

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hiking the AT With Joshua Tree

Written by Natalie Burr, Women's Technical Employee

Before I left for the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail less than two weeks ago, I picked up a couple last minute items at the Bivouac. These were mostly small things that I hadn't put much thought into, unlike the months of planning that I took for most of my gear and my itinerary. Among the little things I picked up were the Joshua Tree climbing salve and SPF lip balm, two additions to my gear that have proved essential so far. I started using the lip balm right away, and the difference was instantly noticeable. Going from the cold and dry Michigan weather to a humid Georgia winter should have made my lips get chapped and crack easily, but they actually felt softer compared to the previous lip balm I used.

My first night on Springer Mountain, the temperature dipped below freezing. Still, I woke up able to smile and talk with the other hikers I met without splitting a lip or even feeling like my lips were chapped! That first morning was also when I tried the climbing salve for the first time. In the store, I was enticed by the climbing salve's mild but herbal scent and by the short list of easily recognizable natural ingredients (all of the Joshua Tree products are all organic, and the headquarters recently relocated to Michigan so you're buying local - as if I need another reason to love these products!). Trying out the climbing salve didn't disappoint. The company recommends using the salve to moisturize and soften calluses, typically for rock climbing, but that didn't stop me from covering my hands with the salve where my trekking poles were giving me hot spots. In the coming days, I used the salve for the chafing around my hips from the belt on my 30+ pound pack, and of course, to give my feet some TLC while they toughened up. Despite the small size of the salve, I have yet to run out - a little dab of it goes a long way. Joshua Tree Skin Care also offers a huge variety of salves targeted to different activities, so you can choose from cycling, gymnastics, music, water sports; they even have salves tailored specifically to paddling activities and for pets! Check out the variety here: http://www.jtreelife.com/collections/salve

Using the climbing salve and the mountain mint SPF 15 lip balm has made the past two weeks that much easier, making skin care a big category to add to the list of things that I don't have to worry about on the trail! I've gotten several other hikers hooked on the climbing salve, too, and when I run out of mine, I can't wait to start trying all the different Joshua Tree Skin Care products available at the Bivouac! The selection of Joshua Tree products on the website can be found here: https://www.bivouacannarbor.com/joshua-tree.html

Happy Trails!