Travel Advice: Wandering the PNW.

I don’t mind dirty fingernails, damp mornings, coffee in a tin cup and salty cheeks.

Sometimes my favorite noise in the quiet crunch of a wooded pathway.

I love finding new ways of seeing light through trees, leaves and moss.

Therefore, days spent exploring nooks and crannies of the Pacific Northwest are some of my favorite.

Two years ago I dreamed of visiting Seattle and Portland for the first time.

Funny how I said a lot of prayers about new adventures, opportunities to see new places and someone to love–and God handed over a woodsy city boy from Washington state.

This week marks my FOURTH trip to the PNW over the course of the last year.

In the funny rhythms of life, last Wednesday when I touched down in Portland it was also one year to the day since I first touched down in Seattle. August is a good time to visit the Northwest.

In the midst of seeing Andy’s new life in Portland, I’ve also already trekked back up to Seattle this past weekend, and am looking forward to next weekend on the Oregon Coast.

While I don’t have pictures QUITE ready to share. I do have some tips that I have learned over the past year if you’re planning a trip to the PNW any time soon (but honestly, I think these tips can go for any travel adventure):

  1. Do not pack an umbrella. The locals will laugh at you. Opt for that lightweight North Face parka instead.
  2. Do bring a lot of layers because it’s not rare to have a week where there are 90-degree days followed by 60-degree ones.
  3. Go see the tourist spots; but don’t make them your die-by priorities. That always gives you a reason to come back.
  4. Wander into neighborhoods you’ve never heard of fearlessly. Odds are that you’re going to find something you’ve never known you were looking for–and it makes for a way better story when you get back anyway. Hello, we’re explorers here — not just visitors.
  5. Take notes of the places that you visit. That wine bar that had the BEST view? Write it down. You’ll want to remember one day and there’s no guarantee that you won’t forget to take the receipt out of your pants pocket before those babies go through the spin cycle.
  6. Find a good camera. Yes, our iphones are a gift to on-the-fly photography. But you paid a good buck to be here. Take photos worth putting in an album. 
  7. Ask a stranger to take your photo. I know that sounds weird. But your kids don’t want to see all your selfies one day. They may however like to see a nice photo taken of you in a scenic or historic place — where you can actually see you + the background in good proportion.
  8. Don’t eat out for every meal. Not only do you feel like a whale by the end of your trip; but you maybe miss some of the nice al fresco parts of the city you’re in. For example, find a farmers market — get something local. If you don’t have a kitchen accessible, eat something that doesn’t require cooking. Picnics are a fun excuse and if you don’t want to cook or make your own; find a good local grocery store that likely sells pre-made food. You’re doing your stomach, wallet and overall experience all favors.
  9. Read the fliers on light poles. Not every evening of your trip may be jam-packed (and honestly, even if you love itineraries like me — try to avoid it — I PROMISE you that you will still have fun and not waste time) and for those evenings you have more time; what better way to spend it than to walk down the street to the Viking Boat Festival you had never heard of? Or maybe that adjacent neighborhood is having free family movie night down by the Willamette River. Find experiences you wouldn’t otherwise plan.
  10. Prepare yourself to want to return. You’re never going to get to do everything you want. All of the hikes, wineries, breweries, festivals, shows, attractions, ‘hoods. You’re never going to do it all in your trip like you plan. So instead, just plan for this to be your FIRST trip. Do and see as much as you can; but don’t make your itinerary make you miss an experience in the place you’re at. Stay longer if you need to at a restaurant. Wander further down a road. Add an extra stop on your hike. And then just find a way to return later. Because, let’s face it. When you visit, you’re going to fall in love anyway.

No matter where you’re going, when or why–take a deep breath–and if you’re just BEING. Odds are, you’re doing it right.

That’s what vacation is all about!

I can’t wait to show and share the most MAGICAL hike I’ve ever taken later this week. (Thank you, Oregon.)

But before that, I need to go find some Portland tacos….

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2013 was just the prologue. 2014, I’m ready.

I looked back at 2012’s New Year’s Eve post today as I sat down. The first sentence said “I have the most deliriously, deep-to-the-bone happy feeling about 2013.”

Man.

Was I ever right to feel that way?

2013 was a year of conquering. For the very first time I think I really waded into some selfishness. I wanted to really evaluate what I wanted in life. What was I going to do to get there? For the last three or so years I had been floating along with good enough; and turned out––that wasn’t good enough anymore. In that case, I think selfishness is the way to go.

The list of 25 by 25 was a huge impetus to get my butt in motion. To stop talking so much and do a lot more. I never imagined how putting a list together and reflecting on action could make so much happen.

I mean, just the cliff notes?

– Visiting NINE new states.

– Going to Canada.

Me + Soon-To-Be-Little-Did-I-Know-Now-Current Roommate

– Running a 10K.

– Really kicking butt at my old job. I was given some great new accounts and was really proud of the work Woodbine was doing.

– Sibling beach camping trip.

Me + Brother

– Running a HALF MARATHON.

– Making some amazing new best friends. Ones that came in the last half and ones in the first (looking at you, Tara).

It's amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

It’s amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

– Little brother graduated and moved to college.

Davis looks good.

– Quitting my job.

– Welcoming Evan into the world. That was a best.

He’s growing like a weed, though.

– Moving to Boston.

– New, great roommates.

– Starting graduate school.

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– Teaching myself the guitar.

– A Savannah AOII reunion.

– So many sporting events. Countless Dash. W-S Open Tennis. A Braves weekend. Red Sox. Patriots. Panthers. Whew.

– Going to probably 10 concerts.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

– Being at the Macy’s Parade for Thanksgiving.

– Staying close with best friends. Even when they’re freaking far away.

Katieryn LANE! (Wright.)

B + VK + Me. ❤

Sha. ❤

Roberta and Stephanie. 🙂 Rob and Steve, you know I love you.

Denise and Briana. Derek and Brad, you know I love you too.

The B.C. to my A.D.

Linds Love.

V found me in Boston.

And of course Kait. Plus Sha. Plus Brooke.

Mushy.

Mushy.

PS, if you’re my friend and don’t have a nickname we apparently need to work on that.

– Finding a new church.

– Coming back from a rough sports injury.

–  Starting OVER with friends and coming out with a pretty amazing group.

Broadcast Family Class '14

Broadcast Family Class ’14

– Oh, and a new boyfriend. That’s a pretty big deal. Love this guy.

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I pretty much (minus a few 25s) crushed 2013. I honest-to-God do not know how it could’ve been better unless someone came out of the scenery and gave me like $100,000 or something.

Seriously. I am so freaking blessed.

And on the one hand where I am infinitely grateful to the things that God has moved in my life; I am also just so proud of myself. I know I couldn’t have done it without Him––but there was a part that required me to be brave. And there was a part that required me to have some insane trust and at the same time strength.

Moving to Boston was one of the most terrifying and gratifying things I have done. But I couldn’t see the gratifying part while I was laying in the floor of my Winston-Salem apartment crying my eyes out. Committing to a Boston apartment before I was sure that I wanted to leave? Committing to an apartment before I had let anyone know? That made it real. And that made it scary. But I took a deep breath and I went.

There have been equal forces at hand in each part of 2013.

The incredible joy of travel while facing an uncomfortable fear of flying.

The reward of returning to school with the painful goodbye and sadness of leaving an office made of my second family.

The excitement of new friends while missing the old.

The happiness of conquering change while feeling the holes of traditions and being with family.

The fresh victory of testing my body and seeing my running capabilities blossom with the regret of pushing too hard and finding its limits.

The amazing excitement of  love and then also the fear of vulnerability.

My life is amazingly balanced. And if you know me, and how Libra I really am, you know that I couldn’t be happier. On a daily basis I am amazed at the fullness of my heart and the satisfaction I have.

For the first time in a long time I don’t feel like I am settling.

2014 you have one heck of a lot to match; but I feel confident. I feel excited. And I feel like I’m going into 2014 with the best momentum I could ever dream of.

You know when you were young and adults would tell you “Just wait, these aren’t the best years of your life.” I had the scary and happy and confused and curious thought recently that . . . I think 2013 was. I think it was one of the best. And I think 2014 will be the second. This roll that 2013 started doesn’t feel like it’s settling down. Instead,  I really think God just got started. 2013 was a prologue and I damn can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the next act.

So for my annual predictions.

Last year I called: Happy changes. Beautiful friendships (new and old). Fun celebrations. Promises followed through. Adventurous travels. Getting out of the comfort zone. Being invested. Healthy growing up. Lots of love.

And I want to keep all of that. But I’m going to add:

  •  A little growing up. 25 is young; but I can grow.
  •  A graduation.
  •  A stronger family.
  •  A running come-back story.
  •  A giving back to the city I’ve fallen in love with.
  •  Decisiveness.

Decisiveness? You might say. Yes. I think 2014 is going to challenge my confidence in the big decisions. I’m going to need to jump fast and with my whole heart. I’m going to have to know what I want, how I want it, when and where. And I’m going to have to be 100 percent in those big choices.

I want to go with my whole heart.

And if 2013 is any indication, I know I can.

Maine, Lobster Guts and Ignoring “Budgeting.”

Me doing Maine.

Me doing Maine.

As mentioned earlier in the week, I finally checked off Maine on 2013’s new states. I still find it hilarious that I entered the year wanting to visit one new state. Just one. And instead I’ve checked off:

– Utah

– Washington

– Minnesota

– Massachusetts

– New Hampshire

– Vermont

– Connecticut

– Maine

That’s flippin’ eight states. Blows my mind. No immediate plans to add a ninth state to the list this year. And out of the eight I liked them each in a different way.  After just getting a very small sampling of Maine, my instinct is: more! I want to rent a car and drive up to Bar Harbor so badly.

Boston University has been pretty great about connecting new students with each other and with older program students. Last weekend that meant an hour drive up to Kittery, ME for some clams, lobster and shopping.

I was such a new kid on the bus. No one to sit with.

But that was the plan, right?

Go without a plan and hope to make friends?

Lucky me, it worked out wonderfully. Met a girl, Sarah, from Germany who is in the States to study film. We come from very different backgrounds so there was a lot of bases to cover and discuss on the drive up.

I’m not sure how or why I had such a specific vision of what Maine would be; but it was exactly as expected.

Double chimneys.

Slat wood.

Lots of stone.

Weathervanes.

It was beautiful.

Like this.

Like this.

And like this.

And like this.

The day consisted of trying clams, which if I had to imagine what a booger tasted like I swear . . .

And then more lobster. We were eating in a beautiful open porch restaurant by the river.

Chauncey Creek. Kittery. Maine.

Chauncey Creek. Kittery. Maine.

Seriously, how adorable is Maine?

Seriously, how adorable is Maine?

Clams are weird.

Clams are weird.

Every time I get one of these, I feel like I should name it before I eat it. Is that weird? This is Lionel.

Every time I get one of these, I feel like I should name it before I eat it. Is that weird? This is Lionel.

It was great to actually get some guidance on how to avoid the lobster guts and not get grossed out eating this food that I’m supposed to be fully New-England style embracing.

I finally got over the guts.

What I’ve not gotten over is that I don’t have the same sustainable income as before Boston. The outlets were kind to me. I’ll leave it at that. I am at least being so practical as to only buy very warm or layerable things.

Granted I just did laundry for the first time today and $8 later for three loads of laundry, I’m kind of thinking I might just continue to buy new clothes instead of wash the old 😉

Maine was wonderful for new friends, new food, new state and new sights. Life is so full of NEW right now. And I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of adventure and pursuit. Weekends like Maine are just one more page in the book that is a New England transition. So far,  I think I pass.

Weekend Warriors: Favorite city + Favorite people + Favorite Sports Team.

I grew up in a corner of North Carolina where “Christmas shopping in the city,” or “summer baseball game,” or “weekend at the amusement park,” or even “day trip to get out of dodge” meant taking the winding 2.5-hour drive through the mountains and Georgia foothills to Atlanta.

Most of the trip is a peaceful four-lane road past dairy bars and pastures; however, about 30 minutes before you hit the city the roads widen, the traffic becomes more plentiful and as soon as you cross under the giant maze of bridges (which I discovered was the ‘perimeter’ as I got older), well, then you’re in Atlanta.

Seeing those tall buildings and soaking in the amount of sunshine has always been home away from home for me.

My family would make the trip every couple of months and I feel like I’ve spent many a mile-marker in Fulton and Gwinett counties; birthdays and vacations included.

It was the place I always swore I’d move to when I graduated college and it’s the reason why UGA was my first choice when the time came to apply.

Life happens. You get scholarships and choose an in-state school. You start dating a guy and move to a different Carolina town.

And instead, you visit Atlanta every chance you get.

And every time you visit you’re reminded of how “one day I could totally see myself living here.”

This weekend marked the second annual road trip of high-school best friends from North Carolina through South Carolina to Georgia. We remarked on the trip down how it had been a long time. I mean, sixth grade–when we all met? Well that was almost 15 years ago.  (Insert nostalgic photo of awkward 11-year-olds with braces and baby faces that is probably laying around my parents’ house.)

Best-friend kind of love.

Gigantic Braves fans, a game is always useful motivation to plan a weekend. So a Travelzoo deal later we were south-bound early Saturday morning.

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The lesser-known, well liked #10 of the @braves. #CJonesRespect

Saturday of all Saturdays, we had tickets for THE GAME. The Braves had been on a wild sweep of 14-straight wins. If the team won Saturday night’s game they would have tied the franchise’s longest streak since 2000 when the Braves won 15 in a row from April to May.

So, of course — we figured they would lose. (We weren’t very confident in the luck we were bringing.)

A fairly short road trip into Atlanta, a customary stop for burgers at The Varsity, a meandering through Centennial Park and the World of Coke gift shop and we were off to the field for a preliminary afternoon of extremely hot tailgating. Man, I’m just not quite accustomed to that heat or humidity.

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The Varsity “Whatya have, whatya have, whatya have.” Um, all the onion rings please.

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These kids are funny.

Our seats were a DREAM. Suite life, baby. I’m not sure if going to a Braves game will ever be the same after seeing one from the bounty of air-conditioning and private bathroom. That said, I would maybe trade for some field-side seats. All the same, it was incredible. Especially considering that there was an hour rain delay. Nothing like dry seats.

J-Hey Kid at bat.

Once the game started up, it was a little bit of a snoozer (three hits up to the 8th inning!) and then a half hour of INTENSITY.

The Braves let up one run to the Marlins off of some sloppy defense and the stadium was erupting in rapture and cheering for an offensive answer once the Braves came up to bat.

We cheered for a single like it was a home run.

Me + current/former roommate. ❤

Three outs and Janish who stepped up to bat, noted has a .000 batting average, stuck out. Looking. Against the worst team in our division.

Sad ending to a 14-game winning streak.

It was humorous to see the onslaught of “You’re not allowed to go to Braves games when they’re on a streak” messages that were sent to us from various friends and family members.

Me + Derek + Brooke + Bradley. Wouldn’t have been the same with any other three.

The game went so late that by the time we got back to our hotel there wasn’t a lot of time to deliberate if and when we wanted to go out to a bar. Luckily we had found a really fun, random karaoke bar, Metro Café Diner, last summer that just happened to be down the street. On the way there, we passed 50 Cent’s truck from Fast Five. Interesting. So we went straight to aforementioned bar and proceeded to stay for three hours drinking Shandy beer and belting karaoke with other downtown-Atlanta strangers. It was of course followed up by a 3 a.m. trip to Waffle House. (Of course.)

What felt like only a nap later and we were back on the road to the Carolinas, smiling wildly at the adventures and fun that we had shared in a cram-packed weekend.

I was left realizing it may be a while before I get to see Atlanta again, so I took a good long look as we drove away. See you again as soon as I can, ATL. I promise.

Wanderlust.

I’ve had a serious curiosity about the West Coast the last month or so. I’ve never really lusted for trips out West until I traveled to Utah this winter. Now I want to go further and drive all along the A1. I want to see San Fran and San Diego. I want to go to Portland. I want to go to Seattle. I want to dip my toes in the Pacific and wander around national parks to see sequoias and marvel at canyons and new waterfalls. I’m hoping that maybe next summer I can find a time to do some more traveling. 2013 sadly doesn’t have it in the cards––but we’ll see what 2014 holds.

I stumbled on society6 yesterday (and wow, how have I not heard of this?) and promptly lost an hour looking through different artists and works. LOVE. This Seattle print was one of the many that caught my eye. I love vintage-themed prints. I have so many hanging around my apartment. This particular artist, Jenny Tyffany’s work in general was lovely. Now I want to buy all of the things!

These make me want to immediately pack up my tent and sleeping bag, go make a fire and spend the night out under the stars. ❤

 

 

Savannah Summer Kick-Off (Delayed).

I remember when I would be on summer break from school as soon as I had seen the first week of break end, the reality would hit that I only had a FEW weeks and I needed to savor it before school crept back onto the calendar. I would do the silent week tally in my head with each passing weekend. And I always dreaded the “halfway mark” just simply because then it became a literal countdown. You had less time left than you had already spent.

I do the same thing when I’m on vacation.

“Oh no, it’s Wednesday. We only have half of the trip left. Bummer.”

I’m weird. I need to not start focusing so quickly on what’s happening weeks ahead––but it’s just my nature.

So in the meantime, I try to take advantage of appreciating what’s happened so far this summer and make sure that I keep enjoying every second of sunshine in the meantime that I can.

This summer has been crazy. Crazy busy. Crazy unexpected. And crazy fast!

It seems just like yesterday that we were spending Memorial Day at the pool being lazy and playing water volleyball. Making new friends. And looking forward to three full months of post-work and weekend recreation.

That said, I realize now the “summer things” that I’ve meant to post about are getting further and further in the rear-view mirror. Have to post! I’ll try to do all my catch-ups this week and first give you a picture of the (surprisingly) only vacation yet this summer!

SAVANNAH.

A reunion three years in the making with some of my closest girl friends from being a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi. Aren’t we presh? It is no small feat to stay mediocrely cute when it’s 98% humidity, just saying.

 

These girls came into my life my junior year in college. I was already flexing my usual overachiever ways by taking full honors class loads (I think I was still a triple major at the time, man I’m a nerd) on top of some reporting internships and working as an editor on the college newspaper. Teaching children’s church at Cornerstone Summit. But, that wasn’t enough, duh.

So I decided to join the group of ladies colonizing a new fraternity at Appalachian State.

My perception had been that girls in Greek life lived for their organization. I already had a life. I was a busy girl with a lot of focus on doing what I needed to do to graduate successfully, get a good job, spend time with good friends that I already had. But I had room for more.

Joining the colonization of AOII at our campus was one of my best decisions. These ladies were dedicated to the values and principles of our organization (which were values I already held dear), but what made us so strong was that all of us were like me: we all things we were focused on fostering outside of Greek life too. In the photo below you have amazing academics, incredible musicians, wonderful teachers, smart businesswomen and marketers, writers and advertisers. Yeah, all in one photo : ) We weren’t all buttoned-up and professional all weekend though.

Coming from all over the East, and having not seen each other in 3 years, meant that there was a lot to catch up on. We traveled to Savannah, Ga. from all over. A handful from all over North Carolina, one from Nebraska, one from Connecticut and one from Florida. Dedication.

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There was celebrating. (An engagement! A graduation! A birthday! And a lot of other upcoming life changes to celebrate.)

There was sightseeing.

And beaching.  (Aren’t our visors super fly?)

Some sororities have bigs & littles. Well, AOII does too. But since we colonized we had to have twins instead. Here’s me and mine, Brandie. So special. Out of (I think) around 50 (i think? omg, how big was our colonizing class….now I don’t know…) girls, we picked each other. Handing in a piece of paper with the name of our twin preference. Yup, I picked her. She picked me. Soul mates.

LOTS of eating. (And some drinking, maybe.)

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There was running. (Yup, this is from that last run. Sad times.) And morning coffees.

And consequentially, there was embracing the “no make-up” moments. (So nice to have friends who understand the need to run on vacation!)

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There was a lot of smiling.

Whole lot of smiling.

And even more laughing.

But, I guess at the end of the day — it was just a lot of love : )

Later this week, I’ll make sure to share about how awesome Winston-Salem is in the summer; how some of us really know how to throw a kickin’ baby shower; how Brooke and I are experts at country music concerts and how I feel like I am living every day of the past few months to it’s very, very fullest.

 

Today is good.

A best friend turns 25! Wow, over 20 years of friendship. That’s some longevity.

Dinner and drinks with good, new(ish) Winston-Salem friends. I’m always thankful that I have found good people here. It’s funny how close I feel to some new friends that I’ve only had for a few months. Best friend level, folks.

The tent is officially by the door.

There are bags of healthy snacks for the road trip.

Brother is coming to Winston tomorrow.

I had another day off of running and my legs, feet and tush finally feel normal again. No soreness, aches or pains. Darn you, hills.

There are multiple tabs on my computer open for diners, drive-ins and dives around Charleston.

Also, the weather forecast for the weekend is looking up!

Not to mention, a group of good friends from college are planning a June beach reunion.

And then lastly? Tomorrow is my Friday.

Boom.

Suspended.

“We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re aproaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter:
‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave.

I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?”
My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.”

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square infront of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in throught the door and kindly asks
‘Do you have a suspended coffee ?’

It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm bevarage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwitch or a whole meal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support ? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it.”

Source: A Well Traveled Woman