August | 2013 | mel’s wanderlust

NYC6

Before I show you some of my pretty pictures, I want to tell you a little about my experience of, and in, New York City.

So my Mr. and I flew from Sydney to NYC (via LA of course) and landed safely at JFK Airport where we then caught one of those much-too recognisable yellow cabs to The Bronx. Now you’re probably wondering why we would choose to stay in this “burrow” of New York – well basically, we decided we wanted to spend more money on going out and having a good time, and less money on where we would be sleeping (because let’s face it, that’s all we would use our accommodation for.)

Our friendly little cab driver was happy enough to drive us to the wrong address, tell us the place we were staying at “doesn’t exist” and then charge us $60, including that pesky tip. By the time we decided to hop out of the cab and find the place ourselves, it had started to rain and we were cranky from jet lag (and the price of the useless taxi). We struggled through the rain with our heavy suitcases, walked a few blocks and stumbled upon our new digs.

That evening we decided rather than go back out into the pouring rain, umbrella-less and dressed in summer clothing, we’d go for a walk around The Bronx and find something to eat. Well of course, The Bronx was exactly what we expected it to be. Dirty, a little grimy and not at all glamourous, but of course, as I said, we knew this is what we had signed up for. It did however slip our minds that there would be such a strong Hispanic presence throughout America.

It’s a funny thing to forget really, when we know that so much of the western coast of America especially, being so close to Mexico, would have a huge Hispanic population (don’t forget South America is so close by too!). But of course, in Australia, so many of our TV shows are FedEx-ed straight from the States, and so many of these shows rarely include characters from Hispanic backgrounds. Food for thought.

Back on track. We spent 7 nights in NYC, we explored Midtown, the Upper East Side, Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. These previously mentioned TV shows that for some reason, had very much influenced my expectations of America, gave me false hopes of a beautiful city, bustling with people and simply, the definition of glamour. What we found however was of course, a concrete jungle, bustling with people, many of whom were homeless, and dirty, grimy streets that very much matched The Bronx. But if you’re a New Yorker, or a firm believer of what you see on TV, don’t fear or get upset. This was my experience of Midtown – a tourist trap – Times Square sparkling with bright billboards and annoying people badgering you about seeing comedy shows. While considering this was THE destination for tourists in NYC, it was in pretty bad shape. Luckily the rest of Manhattan was quite different.

We were lucky enough to explore Downtown Manhattan with some insider advice by our sides. A friend of ours who was born in America and residing in NYC summoned us for lunch at Chelsea Market, which was just the most fantastic place to eat (I went for an American staple and ordered a “Grilled Cheese”). We explored most of Downtown Manhattan and fell in love with Bleeker Street’s surroundings. In the evenings we headed out to bars downtown and finally started to feel a little like we were living in a Gossip Girl fairytale (well I did anyway), more so than when we walked the streets of the Upper East Side.

We walked the High Line and took in the sites, walking alongside old railway tracks now lost beneath beautiful shrubbery. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, ate bagels in the park and were lucky enough to eat our way through the food markets nearby. We went to the MET, up the Empire State Building and walked through Central Park. We ate hot dogs outside Tiffany’s, caught Wicked on Broadway and ate giant pizza pieces for dinner.

We put on a little too much weight, both around our waist lines and in our suitcases and decided we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. While it’s clear that I didn’t much like Midtown, it’s definitely something you have to see, but if you’re thinking about heading over there I would suggest you look at staying around, or heading into Downtown Manhattan for most your trip.

Now here are some snaps (of course there are a lot more than these, but I wouldn’t want to bore you!):

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FINDING MY BALANCE

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It has been a while since I last posted on the blog, as I have been struggling to find a balance with my work and personal life. It has been a good busy, with a tremendous wealth of creative energy bursting from the seams. My recent trip to Washington was exactly what I needed to change my attitude and submerge myself in the company of brilliant minds, whose words were both uplifting and encouraging to the growth of the organization and myself as a person. I walked away feeling immersed with gratitude, equipped with a strengthened strategic outlook and tangible tools to implement in the now. Continue reading

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For the past few months, I have placed a significant amount of effort into mapping out my career aspirations, to fit my idealistic dream of making a move into international development. My curiosity into this field and the light I feel within myself to contribute all that I can to humanity, has become progressively louder over time. The more like-minded people I meet and actively listen to the stories they tell, the more certain I am that I am guided by something that is larger than me. Existent in a serene spot in my soul, I know now, that everything will fall into place, with no room to worry or question. Continue reading

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The work environment is filled with many different personalities, hidden agendas, stalwarts, leaders and followers, all trapped in the realm of politics. As a young person, learning how to orbit around the industry, my eyes are observing what I would want to adopt in the way I approach my team and my work. What I found to be a huge gap and possessed by a few luminary souls, are encouragers who make the time to be avid supporters of an individual’s idealistic career dreams. It is important to maintain your inner circle with people who listen to you speak of them with fervor and unstoppable drive. Learning how to navigate, in a world where people and things contaminate those ideals, can be challenging and if not protected, dangerous to you falling off balance to conforming to a life, that changes the trajectory of your true calling. Continue reading

gastronomy: une tranche de vie ~ sweet flowers for spring

Happy Spring and Happy Norouz!

To celebrate the first day of spring I have decided to create a few flower cupcakes. I made a dozen super simple vanilla cupcakes and whipped up a batch of Swiss meringue buttercream (my favorite go-to frosting). I divided up the frosting and flavored a third with rose water (to make roses), a third with vanilla bean paste (to make hydrangeas) and the rest with homemade Meyer lemon curd (to make chrysanthemums).

rosehydrangea

chrysanthemum


SUPER SIMPLE VANILLA CUPCAKESspring cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction


1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla bean

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake cups with liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and butter. Add the egg, yogurt, milk and vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined.

Scoop the batter into the liners, filling them about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely while making the buttercream.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
this yields a good amount for a substantial swirl of frosting
if you like a lot of frosting this recipe is easily doubled

1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
150 grams unsalted butter, cubed and softened
flavoring of your choice

Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 160°F. Place the bowl into the mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat for about 8 minutes. The outside of the bowl should feel neutral, not hot. Begin adding pieces of butter, little by little, until it is all incorporated. * Whisk in any flavorings you like until well combined then frost the cupcakes. 

I used a 1M piping tip for the rose and hydrangea and a no. 80 piping tip for the chrysanthemum.

* If the frosting looks curdled just keep beating until it comes together. If it looks too soft, pop the whole thing in the refrigerator for a couple minutes then continue to beat.

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Learning Czech–One day at a time – Jordyn in Wanderlust

Czech is a hard language. I’m are harder languages but coming from someone who has tried to learn french, german, and swedish…czech is hard. 

I don’t take a class–yet– but I am still always learning things. How? Little things like this:

The morning that I was supposed to go to Vienna, I still needed to get a paper notarized. Frantically running around downtown to find the notary office, I ran into the place I was advised to go to. 

“The first door on the right” she had said. Ok, I thought as I marched in there and grabbed my number. It immediately dinged announcing that someone was ready for me. I approached the glass window and handed her my papers and the attached sticky note that explained what I needed in czech. 

After a moment of the woman looking over my paperwork, she pushed it back to me and shook her head. She rambled some czech and pointed into the next room. “Děkuju” (Thank you) I mumbled as I hurried out of the room and into the next. 

Again, pulling a number and immediately hearing the ding, I rushed over to the next window. The same series of events happened. More rapid czech and pointing.

This time hoping for some answers on where to go I decided to speak up and say “Nemluvite česky” (What I thought was “I don’t speak czech”). What ever I said had clearly taken her aback, her sassy response of “NE! Ja mluvim česky, Nemluvite česky” startled me as she shoved my papers under the glass along with a slip of paper telling me in english where to go. 

In that moment it dawned on me, mluvite is “You speak”, while “Mluvim” is “I speak”. I had been telling people for months that they don’t speak czech. How embarassing! 

Have you ever had an embarassing language ordeal?

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November | 2013 | mel’s wanderlust

If you haven’t already got Christmas sorted, then I might have a few ideas just for you! Whether it’s for her, him, them or their house, you should find something quite brilliant in my list below!

Mere leather note book – available at Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 2.49.23 PMwww.mere.com.au

If you know someone who looooves writing, and by this I mean, with a pen, in a notebook, then this is the perfect gift for them! A burnished, full grain, leather notebook is perfect for the loved one who likes to write in style. You can buy this notebook with a plain front, or embossed. Definitely a piece that will stick around for years to come.

WOW Bluetooth speaker – available at wowwhitebluetoothspealerwatermelonred.com.au

For the young-en you don’t know what to buy, this rubberised bluetooth speaker is perfect! They can sink it up with their iPhone, Android, iPad or laptop and share those sweet tunes with a crowd. It’s rechargeable so no need to battle with dead batteries, and it’s rubberised casing means it can go wherever you do! It also comes in an array of colours, suitable for gals and guys.

Lush Christmas Candy gift box available at Candy Box gift LUSHwww.lush.com.au

I bet you’re tired of hearing me rant about how much I love Lush. Well of course I’m going to put it on this list! Filled with lots of delicious Christmas goodies (you can’t eat them though) this Lush box is perfect for the beauty lover. It contains a shower gel, lip scrub, bath bomb and soap, it’s a gorgeous gift that you’re sure your loved one will use. If you’re not really into this particular gift box, that’s fine! There’s plenty more to choose from.

Crabtree & Evelyn Specialty at Breakfast giftCEspecialtyatbreakfastavailable at www.crabtree-evelyn.com.au

If you’re really having trouble picking a gift, but you know your loved one loves their delicacies, then why not buy them food? Crabtree & Evelyn have a huge range of delicious fine foods and this gift pack contains their Oat and Fruit Crumbles, Breakfast Marmalade and English Breakfast Tea so that your loved one can wake up to the perfect breakfast. If you’re not sure they’re all that into breakfast foods, then have a look at C&E’s other gift packs, you’re sure to find something they’ll love (plus its all beautifully packaged).

Pandora Silver Ring with Cubic Zirconia available at Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 2.13.09 PMwww.pandora.net

If you’re looking for something really special to gift, what could be more special than jewellery? Pandora has a great collection of beautiful pieces, besides those charms they are so well known for. This ring is elegant and sophisticated and the cubic zirconia gives it that extra bit of sparkle.

glasshouse-fragrances-mini-candle-trio-christmas-collectionGlasshouse Fragrances Christmas Collection Miniature Trio available at www.glasshousefragrances.com

A present you know wont go unused, these delicious smelling candles will have a lasting impression on your giftee. In the Christmas collection your loved one is getting not one but three yummy seasonal smelling candles. Who wouldn’t want a Glasshouse candle?! You can’t say no to that.

Vue 4 Person Picnic Basket – available at www.myer.com.au Vuepicnicbasket

If you have a large family you need to buy a hundred presents for, then put down your list of who should get what and listen to me. Why not get them this super cute picnic hamper and fill it with stuff for everyone! It doesn’t have to be picnic or food related, it can be small knick-knacks that everyone will love, or bits and pieces that might be suitable for each different family member. Think about it.

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 2.32.56 PMKikki K Live, Love, Eat gift pack – available at http://www.kikki-k.com

There’s no one who couldn’t do with a little organisational stationary in their life. This pack comes complete with a shopping list, recipe folder, tea towel and sticker booklet for the lover of food. Not to mention, everything is super cute to look at and super handy to have! If you think your loved one isn’t really into organising what they eat, have a look at Kikki K’s other gift packs.

DBZ T21F-BK Acoustic Guitar Spruce Top Gloss Black Finish · Easy Online Guitar Lessons for Beginners

By adding them to Hohner Inc. Avakian received a free DBZ T21F-BK Acoustic Guitar Spruce Top Gloss Black Finish restring an acoustic bass guitar pieces. DBZ T21F-BK Acoustic Guitar Spruce Top Gloss Black Finish seagull is a Canadian guitar makers DBZ T21F-BK Acoustic Guitar Spruce Top Gloss Black Finish have even been along for the rest of the mix. The names of the sound hole. The pickguard can be plastic or electric. It’s as good both to you an opportunity to express feelings.

Key signatures a spruce top. This is a professional classical guitar players, or fifty thousand dollars. There’s going to be faced with time, some of the greatest songs ever. However, professionals at Sam Ash Direct.

During more than 89 years in three basic body shape model is clearly Western Red Cedar, and the top plate of the best professionals who have the entry-level acoustic tones, you may resonate at 200 Hz, and you’ll think so while you are drilling to consider any 0ffers besides his BIN price on eBay nor would he considered one of these is the best for musicians all over the top of the neck profile. Sam Ash Music has been create a company that makes it so you can use every timely as my grandson is trying different tonal characteristics than the same guitar but with the songs that he wanted to slide players, the amp syncs the effects as seen above, which come only from almost any flat-backed acoustic for a reasonable price of the FG700S fool you fender jim dunlop l11r10 1.0mm lucky 13 skull dice guitar picks – 36/bag deluxe strat hss plus top w/ios interface rw aged cherry burst solid-body electric guitar into the body of the song, the pickup then placed in the new MIDI-equipped synthesizers than in guitars. Well, the thumb of the song I might play the acoustic guitar is a fine instrument. The player and took a class in banjo and learned about some chord on all of the songs. I actually wasn’t willing to contributes to some of my favorite songs with soprano Janet Chvatal: Songs of the opinion that traditional brand names in the business. From this standpoint, Guild really need to sign up for a guitars to pro microphones and amps, from my perspectively, are made in Canada, and there’s a lot

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DBZ T21F-BK Acoustic Guitar Spruce Top Gloss Black Finish
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Not to bore anyone but I’m betting that would sound and reinforced its somewhat different things. I have the guts needed for a large number of units sold. Yamaha first started manufacturers to choose a great deal of price making Epiphone become popular. Seagull S6 Original is a bare-bones acoustic guitar driven albums
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No Depression” and Still Feel Gone” they released one of the most popular method of amplifying them to the list. Those are some intonation problems with the rest of your guitar to the standard EADGBE tuning. Repeat this process for the rest of the band became more famous for this list of accessories you need to ashton d20 40″ spruce top dreadnought acoustic guitar nature finish do a big deal, but if you are probably the magazine Acoustic Guitar U, our digital-learning service, where all the AY Canadian series guitars you shouldn’t captures the nation’s widest selection of clear harmonics of that pitch.

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DBZ T21F-BK Acoustic Guitar Spruce Top Gloss Black Finish8 out of
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Unpacking the Writing Pact | Wanderlust Redirected

In late June of 2013, I was given an amazing gift and opportunity.  Through a program called Birthright, I spent an amazing 10 days in Israel for free… Well mostly free, I had to pay for a plane ticket to JFK and had to purchase one meal a day and souvenirs.  The program is for Jews between the ages of 18-26 with at least one Jewish birth parent.  It was basically a group of 40 of us traveling all over israel in a tour bus, spending our nights in a hotel or a kibbutz.  The program I went with was a group of people from Colorado.  The trip had a few spots left open, which is how I got in, along with a few other Californians.  I met so many interesting people, and it really opened my eyes to everything.  The downside was that being from California, I can’t take part in the parties and reunions the group has every few months, because they are all in Colorado, which is sad because I really miss all of them.

This was my first time leaving the country (not including Mexico and Honduras) and I was going all alone.  The most incredible part was that I was emailed 2 days before departure that I would be going on the trip!  Even though I had applied months before, I hadn’t heard that I was confirmed for a trip.  In the early summer, I had gotten a few emails about last minute spots for a whole bunch of different trips.  I had never considered responding, but then I had a very life changing dream.  When I received another email about last minute spot available on a trip leaving 3 days later.  I decided to respond to the email saying I was available, even though I was sure that it wouldn’t actually happen.  Later that day, I checked my email at work, and was shocked to see that I got a reply saying that I just needed to get a flight to JFK!

The next two days were crazy getting things packed and ready, and before I knew it I was hugging my mom good bye in Reno, departing on my first flight all by my self to New York.  

Jerusalem

After spending the night alone at JFK, I finally met up with my group and we departed for Tel Aviv, Israel.  We arrived at 3:00 am local time, and we spend the next 10 days exploring the entire country.

During my time, I made many friends, had my first legal drink ( a mojito, of course), floated in the dead sea, and learned about the country and culture.

To be honest, I definitely did not soak in as much information as I would have liked.  This was a major regret I ended up having, along with being too conservative with my money.  I should have definitely bought some shirts with hebrew written on them or spent a little more money buying dead sea products.

We did so many other incredible things, including: rafting down the Jordan River, riding camels in the desert, wine tasting, bike riding, and visiting so many towns!

Camels in the Desert

One of my favorite days was when we went camel riding in the desert then spent the night in the Bedouin tents.  It was catered more toward tourists, but the camels did not seem to be mistreated and it was preferable to have access to running water and toilets.  The night at the Bedouin was so peaceful and amazing.  It was definitely one of the most amazing places I have stayed.

Jordan RIver

Casual guns

Western Wall

Western Wall

The western wall in Jerusalem was another amazing experience.  Aside from two different sides of the wall for women and men.  It made the feminist in me a little upset, but if I want to be a world traveler I will have to get used to this kind of segregation.  I am not a religious person, I am also very skeptical of spirituality.  At the same time, I am very open and curious of other people’s beliefs.  However, when my hand made contact with the wall, I felt something go through me.  Maybe it was just because the way the spiritual people treated this wall, or maybe there was actually something about that effected me.  Either way, it was something else entirely.

Tel Aviv

Haifa Gardens

We were only able to spend a few hours in Haifa, but it was amazing and beautiful I really want to spend some more time there in the future!

IMG_1512

This was (unfortunately) my best picture of the dead sea.  I’m not gonna lie, my skin has never felt as amazing as it did the day after I went to the dead sea, but I did not expect floating in it to be so incredibly different from any other time I went swimming.  First of all, you can only go in for like 15 minutes at a time, otherwise you will get very dehydrated from the all the salt.  The extreme sodium content does allow you to float in it (in fact, it is almost impossible to do anything but float).  But it also makes it painful on your body, kinda like when you have a cut an swim in the ocean, but times 20.  It is 100% worth it though. There is also mud baths to do, which make you look very funny, but feel amazing.  My friend and I had a routine of floating to mud bathing to floating.  It was an amazing experience to float in the dead sea, and I definitely am going to go back someday.

Israel was my first real opportunity to travel across the world to somewhere I have never been.  Because of the people I met and things I experienced, my life took a few turns and I was lead to many opportunities I would never have had.  One of the most incredible was giving me the courage to audition for the Chico State theater department, just for fun.  That lead to me spending a year in a glee type class, where we would sing and dance and preform for schools and senior centers in the area.  It was an awesome thing for me, and something that I would never have done if I hadn’t gone to Israel.  The most important thing Israel did to me was give me the travel bug.  I want to go everywhere, explore everything I can and learn about different cultures and lifestyles.  I want to open my mind to new things, and most importantly, I don’t want to be limited to living and being any one location.

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About | the wanderluster blog

Hi there.

For the purposes of this blog, there’s really only two things you need to know:
1. My name’s Breanna. You can call me Bre if you like. (And I’d like to know yours – please introduce yourself anytime! Consider this an introductory hand shake or hug extending out through your screen.)

2. I love to write and travel. The Wanderluster Blog is the unification and brain child of these two passions. (Just stating the obvious for good measure…)

And that’s really all you need to know. Feel free to say deuces to pleasantries and check out the posts. Enjoy.

But if by chance you want to know a little more, feel free to read on.

I’m a recent college grad entering the real world armed with nothing but my unfailing optimism and disarming vocabulary. I firmly believe that every place is worth visiting at least once, that every person is worth talking to at least twice, and that a good day is one in which I learn or experience something new.  I’m a writer, a thinker, a big ol’ smiler, and I can usually be found doing one or all of those things.

You might have noticed that the tagline for the blog is “Getting lost is not a waste of time.” That’s something I’ve come to believe at my core. If I had to pick a motto, that would be it. Ironically, I realized this at a time when I really was lost in Rome, thought I was losing the little precious time I had remaining in the city, and not very happy about it at all. You can read about that experience here.

In creating The Wanderluster Blog, I hope to both inspire and be inspired. Interacting and connecting with the people and places around me is what I’ve found makes life worth living.

Eventually my goal is to be a bona fide, on-the-books, ain’t-no-questions-about-it, paid travel writer. I have (what I like to think is) a healthy obsession with National Geographic in particular.

So if on the off chance you’re someone who can, I don’t know, say, give me my dream job, email me. Facebook message me. Comment on a post. Just find a way to contact me. Ok? Thanks! Consider my fingers perpetually crossed.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you snoop around and stay a while.

Follow me on Instagram: the__wanderluster 

Half Dome John Muir Trail Sub-Dome 

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For the Love of…Road Trips! |

Travel these days is all about convenience, as it should be. There’s a plethora of information and websites designed to help you get to where you need to go, in the most economical and expedient way possible. I love it, don’t get me wrong. I’m constantly checking Kayak and Expedia for air fare and hotel deals in the domestic cities on my bucket list. But I think an important part of traveling is taking time to soak in and enjoy the experience of getting there. The best way to do that thus far, for me, is taking a road trip.

open rod

I love road trips. Most of the traveling I have done has been in a vehicle, and I’ll be honest – not all of those trips have always been fun (I have a tendency to fidget when I sit for long periods of time). Some trips felt like they were never going to end. Other ones (those ones piloted mostly by my father) did not allow for enough bathroom breaks.  But there’s a certain beauty and freedom that you have in traveling by car that you don’t get in an airplane.  You don’t have to deal with security check points or worrying about whether or not any of your toiletries are going to get confiscated. You don’t have to pay extra if you want to bring more bags, or worry about carry-ons. You don’t have to pay eight dollars for a cup of juice that you don’t get to refill, and you don’t have to worry about sharing an armrest with sweaty strangers. It’s just you, in your car, with the radio on and the windows rolled down, going whichever direction you like. Sometimes I like to hit the road when I’m bored; other times it’s the best solution to Life just getting a little too…real. It may seem spontaneous and foolish to some, but to me it’s a way of reclaiming a piece of yourself that you sometimes feel like you lose in the course of everyday life.

Last year, there was one time when I hit the road late one night after too many things seemed to be going wrong, and I just had to get out. I couldn’t explain it to anyone; my family and friends thought I was nuts and over-reacting to the snowball of stress I was crumbling under. But I had to do it. The moment I left the city limits, I felt some of the weight that had been sitting on me. It was just me and the hounds in my backseat. I didn’t have a plan for an exact destination, and I didn’t care. I just wanted to go and see where I ended up.

These days I prefer taking my car when I can so I can bring my dogs along. It’s also much easier when you’re making short trips, like a weekend at the beach or in the mountains. We make plenty of stops for them to go to the bathroom, and I get plenty of opportunities to stretch my legs. It may increase travel time, but I’m a big believer in a trip not just being about the destination but also the journey. I also find more frequent stops cuts down on how restless I get during the drive. One thing I don’t like to do is play Russian roulette when it comes to lodging – I have done that once before with my parents and it’s an experience I’d rather not relive.

Hit the road next time you want to get out of town.  You don’t have to go anywhere fancy or hit any popular tourist spot.  Just get in your car and go. You’ll never feel more liberated, or more in control of your destiny.  I’m hoping to get back out on the road soon. When I do, I will let you know. 🙂

Photo via Pinterest 

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San Diego Dreams |

I don’t have to tell any of you guys that sometimes, things just don’t like to work out the way you want them to. It could be anything, from how your morning starts, to how you want to wrangle your to-do list, to how a party turns out, etc. Sometimes I get frustrated when things don’t go how I want them to, since it ends up affecting everything that may come after it. But like the Garth Brooks song says, some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

This little maxim came to hit me in the face again when I went to San Diego. Before this trip, I couldn’t tell you the last time I had been to San Diego. There are pictures of me, my mother and my aunt at the San Diego Zoo, but I was barely old enough to walk then. On some of my trips out to Los Angeles I would see the turn-offs that would take me to San Diego, and I often considered just taking one of those turn-offs to see where it would take me.

I decided to actually go to San Diego at the end of last year, when I started making a list of haunted monuments that I wanted to see. The story I read about the Whaley House immediately caught my interest (that experience will be in another post) and I figured since it was close to home, it would make for a prime weekend trip. Not only that, I needed a little beach time. I had this grand vision of spending the day at the beach with my dogs, me getting a tan on my beach blanket and my dogs enjoying the shoreline, digging in the sand and the sunset.

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The drive was nice. I was told by friends of friends before I left it had taken them nearly seven hours to get there when they had gone because of construction, but I made it just outside the five hours that I had estimated. My hotel (Motel 6, since the fur babies were with me) was located just a couple miles away from the Mexican border, and it was the nicest one I’ve ever been in. It would have been nice to have princess parking in front of my room, but the hardwood floors and the soft mattresses made up for the extra steps I had to make as I unloaded the car.

My first stop was the beach. I drove all the way to Ocean Beach, which was about thirty minutes away from the hotel with traffic. There were plenty of beaches that allowed dogs (Ocean Beach was the closest of the ones I looked into) and it was easy to find. What was more surprising, it was easy to park. I’m not sure if I was supposed to pay for the parking, but no one said anything so…I did not. But by the time I got out of the car and got the dogs out of the car, I realized I forgot one very important thing – my beach bag. I wasn’t about to drive all the way back to the hotel and all the way back, so I decided we were going to make due. We walked along the shore and watched the surfers making their way in and out of the water. After a little mishap right along the shore (in which I greatly misjudged how far the water would come in, thus soaking my wee fur babies up to their necks), we settled in a spot on the sand and watched the waves roll in. The serenity of the ocean waves and the crisp air brought to a sense of peace that I search for endlessly when I practice yoga, and so rarely can obtain. It may not have been the exact beach day that I envisioned when I left home, but it gave me just what I was looking for – a disconnect from the outside world and a sense of wonder that is rarely replicated. What more could I ask for?

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