The Red River Gorge in Photos

The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack

This morning I am writing you from our rental cabin in Stanton, Kentucky. You can hear the quite patter of rain on the rooftop over the gurgle of the coffee machine behind me. I am always the first awake, and I like it that way. Only one light is on, and beyond the rain and the coffee machine there is a sense of stillness all around our cabin. 

The Red River Gorge sits just southwest of Lexington, and is surrounded by dense forests that are rainbow with fall foliage this week. This is only my second time here, but it's revered as one of the best places in the country for climbing and frequented by many climbers from around the world. The sandstone walls of the gorge are tall, and after decades of erosion they are covered in thousands of holes and pockets. It's as if they want to be climbed. 

This area of Kentucky is so different from my own home. For one, it’s wet. Even when it’s “dry,” things are humid. The forests are thick, mossy walls of deciduous trees, which are painted all colors of fall right now. (I find myself uncontrollably taking photos of this rainbow forest).

The Red River Gorge

This last week was a learning experience of a new kind: I didn’t train for this trip as much as I would’ve liked to, so rather than setting my expectations high, I focused on the simple pleasure of being on vacation, unplugged and amongst the trees. When your goal is simply vacation, life feels pretty luxurious.

By day four I was starting to get used to climbing on a rope and was able to get into a groove (at home, I tend to boulder, so my head wasn’t prepared for sport climbing like it should have been). Now that we’re heading home, my motivation is renewed and I’m psyched to get training on both ropes and boulders again! There is no replacement for a weeklong adventure for getting your spirits high and your workout routine rejuvenated, whether that means going with a group of friends on a bike tour, paddling down a river, or backpacking!

Moonrise at dusk.

Moonrise at dusk.


Ecuador in 23 Pictures


Rustic Chicken Parmesan, Prague, Italy

Rustic Chicken Parmesan

I hope everyone had a fun & happy Labor Day weekend! Being on vacation meant I barely even noticed it was a long weekend—in fact, I barely know what day of the week it is! But that is the glory of vacation, isn’t it. 

Rustic Chicken Parmesan

In my last trip update I told you about our adventures through Iceland and Austria. Now, that story is already just a memory that seems long gone. It’s amazing how much stuff you can pack into one day when you want to! We have done so much that the days have flown by. Since that update, we’ve hopped a bus to Prague, returned, and driven down to Val di Fassa, where we are staying in a cabin in the heart of the Dolomites.

We have been working up mega appetites, too! Biking the valleys here is more than just a short jaunt, and the climbing gives way to some of the most breathtaking views I’ve seen. We have not been eating 100% Paleo, but you know what they say — when in Rome! And we’re almost in Rome. Gelato? Mmm, yes please.

Luckily, our cabin does have a kitchen, so most evenings I get to do one of my favorite things: make dinner for everyone! The kitchen is rustic to say the least, with a real wood burning oven and stove. I love cooking on it… everything gets an old-fashioned homey flavor. This Rustic Chicken Parmesan is the best dinner we’ve had all week. Was that me in the kitchen eating this straight from the serving spoon? I guess you’ll never know…  

Rustic Chicken Parmesan

Here are some pictures from the last week— jump below for the recipe for Rustic Chicken Parmesan. (Is that real parmesan? Yes! I mentioned we are close to Rome, right?).  

Rustic Chicken Parmesan

Paleo, Primal, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free    |       |    Print Friendly and PDF

Cooking this on an old wood burning oven enhanced it’s rustic flavor, but in general, but this recipe will have a homey feel no matter where it is cooked.

Serves: 4-5   |    Total Time:


  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 large or 3-4 small garlic cloves
  • 3-4 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 sixteen-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 vine-ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup small red bell pepper, diced
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian Herb mix (You may also use fresh herbs, to taste)
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese in thin slices of shredded


  1. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Dice the onion and minced the garlic. Add them to the pan.Sprinkle with a small amount of salt to speed cooking time. Once the onions begin to brown, add the red wine. Scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes to the pot. Dice the fresh tomatoes, and add them to the pot along with the bell pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add herb blend, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cover.
  3. In a skillet, heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan once the oil it hot. Once the chicken is browned on one side, flip it over. Cook the chicken through. Then use a fork or tongs to remove the chicken from the skillet. Once cool enough to handle, cut the chicken breast into strips.
  4. Add another teaspoon of oil to the skillet. Once melted, swirl the oil around to coat. Working in batches, cook the eggplant: place the eggplant in a single layer in the skillet, heat until browned on one side. Flip. Heat on the other side until cooked browned on both sides. (Just look for a nice sear on the outside— eggplant will continue to cook once casserole is layered). Repeat until all the eggplant is browned, adding coconut oil as needed to prevent sticking.
  5. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  6. Build the casserole: layer ingredients in the following order: 1 layer of eggplant, 1 layer of chicken, 1/2 of the sauce, 1/2 cup of cheese, 1 layer of eggplant, remaining sauce, and finally the remaining cheese.
  7. Place casserole in oven. Bake 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Serve hot with a glass of red wine.