Long not-so-lost friends…

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I am currently living out of my car. It’s a thought that I certainly had to get used to; but the truth is a person doesn’t need very much to live. You don’t even need much to live comfortably. Nick and I have a place for every single thing in our small car. It only takes us about 25 minutes or less to pack up all of our belongings and hit the road again, depending if we are camping, staying at a hotel, or crashing at someone’s house.

One of the greatest treasures that I’ve discovered in the past 69 days on the road is how open and welcoming people are. Nick and I are very fortunate to have such supporting and loving families and friends; but the kindheartedness did not stop by those alone. We have stayed with family friends, their families and everyone in between. I am forever grateful that every place we’ve stayed we have been greeted with a hug, a place to sleep, and true compassion no matter how long it’s been since our last encounter or even if we’ve never met. The most recent example was from this past weekend. We stayed in Arizona with a childhood friend’s brother that remembered me as a 10-year-old running around with his little sister braiding hair and crushing on the Backstreet Boys. He didn’t even hesitate to open up his home to two wanderers and I enjoyed every moment of forming a new friendship.

The simple fact is that people love people; we seek companionship. My whole life I have been able to share stories, laughs and memories. And I’ve continued exponentially on this trip. I can’t extend my gratitude far enough to each person, but I hope that you feel it in my hugs, pictures and sincere words.

Love you all!

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Sitting on top of the world…

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This week brought me to a new high, literally and figuratively. With the minimum height of 6000 ft above sea level, my ears and imagination were popping beyond belief. As a girl that was raised in the Midwest and had adapted to cornfields and flat lands I could sure get used to this. This week, adding onto The Petrified Forest National Park, we also visited Zion National Park and The Grand Canyon. This is what I meant by a new high. I can reiterate what I wrote on Monday about not having any words. However, as a writer I think I can come up with a few.

Zion blew my expectations out of the water. I didn’t know what to expect, but they where topped times a million. Even with the sunburn, blisters and twenty-degree morning I couldn’t wipe that twelve-year-old, a boy just winked at me grin off of my face. It was permanent the entire day. If you have not made it to this park, I would HIGHLY recommend it, even for little children and elderly. This park was extremely organized and helpful to all visitors. One tip though-arrive before 10am to avoid most large crowds. But if you’ve ever traveled, you already knew that.

The Grand Canyon quickly followed Zion the next day. And even though we definitely should have given one day in between for resting, we were awe-struck by the canyon. Huge is a loose term to describe the vast, never ending views. Your eyes could not stretch far enough to see even part of it.

There were many breathtaking moments this week, but now heading to central Arizona for some more hiking.

Also, I wanted to include a shout out to thank the Flores family for such amazing hospitality last week. You are the best!

Love from the desert!

Millions of years gone by…

   

  

 Since the last time I posted, we covered a couple more states and millions of years in history.

We spent a couple of days exploring the vibrant adobe metropolis of Santa Fe. The downtown area was captivating as every corner had more character than the last street that was just explored. We spent time hiking the Atalaya Trail, enjoying the beauty of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and gorging ourselves on the best enchiladas we’ve ever stuffed in our faces. But still, my favorite Santa Fe memory took place in a little market in the town square. He was sitting among about a hundred different vendors. He had his merchandise showcased on a blanket laying on the cement in front of where he sat. As I walked up and looked interested in some of his breathtakingly beautiful jewelry, he began to speak, in hushed tones, telling me the story of how he came up with the designs and how he got here. As I walked away holding my purchase, I looked back and smiled. Knowing that the most valuable piece that I had gotten that day was not the piece of jewelry in my hand, but the stories told to me by Alfonso of Santa Fe.

Today, we woke up early to drive all the way to Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. A little word to the wise, if you haven’t seen this park go now. Words cannot describe. Again another day where I didn’t need to speak, but instead try to take in the unbelievable views. If you haven’t been there, the park consists of driving through 28 miles of a small section of the Petrified Forest including outlooks and hiking trails. The short distance through the park lasted all day as we got lost in the incredible history and stories within the rocks.

More south west parks to come this week!

Love from the desert!

Being an artist…

Creative. Bold. Unique. Chic.

Whether you express yourself with painting, photography, music, fashion, cooking, etc. you are an artist. If you ask Webster on his definition an artist it is “one who professes and practices an imaginative art.” If you ask me, an artist is simple and ubiquitous.

A couple years ago, I would have never considered “artistic” as one of my defining qualities. But I think the truth was, I just never knew what to call it. “It” meaning me. When I came home from middle school with tears rushing down my face resulting from being the butt of the cool kids jokes I wrote poetry. Fights with my mother turned into dancing in the back yard with the yard lights shining as my spotlight. Today, my emotion is portrayed through painting. Every one of my paintings has a meaning and every meaning has a story behind it.  Some are dark and deep and some are bright and cheery, just like the days of life.

I wouldn’t change any of the challenging, rough, timid, inspiring, proud moments in my life because it’s my story. Without each of those times I would not be able to express who I am. And without being an artist I wouldn’t have been able to cope and move forward. So, cheers to all people that consider art as a piece of them and to those that haven’t discovered themselves yet.

If you have any questions or stories about becoming an artist please comment below or check out my painting group on Facebook: Smock Me.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Santa Fe!

 

Still learning…

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(Top and bottom left: Loveland Pass, CO; Bottom right: Penny Hot Springs- Carbondale, CO)

This journey *sigh*….Today, I am almost speechless. Well it’s more like today I didn’t feel like I had to talk. I could just reflect, take in, and process this journey thus far. And by this journey I’m not just including the past month and a half of traveling the country.

I have been the youngest employee of a company, I’ve taken the place as the older sister/cousin/friend, and I have given advice to peers. I have thought that I knew it all. Big surprise-I don’t know everything. Truth is I know very little; but what I do know is the most important part to my happy life.

  1. I know… that I will continue to learn every single day. People, including myself, never cease to surprise me in the best way. When you give a person the opportunity to be themselves, greatness is born.
  2. I know… that I will find beauty in the small things. The sunshine, green grass, a cool breeze, a baby’s cry, a friend’s hug, are all tiny reminders that the world is there right in front of us. Unfortunately, most days these things are taken for granted and looked past. But the truth is, that’s what life is made of. Small moments with reminders that we are alive.
  3. I know… that I will always keep growing. Whether it’s finishing a book, exploring an unknown city, counting my blessings or struggling through difficult times, the chance for growth is there. It can be hard to accept your past, but to learn and move forward as a stronger person is the best reward. Plus, without the challenging times, we wouldn’t be able to recognize the blissful ones.  Right?
  4. I know… that I will always love. Love others. Love life. Love yourself.

Take it from me, an uncertified, educated, naive, wise, energetic, calm, grounded, traveling 24-yr-old woman who feels alive, be open and kind. People (including yourself) might surprise you. Try not to pass up the little things. Take a minute to enjoy the life you have been given. And never stop loving, it’s our greatest strength as humans.

Happy living!

Up in the air…

We made it to Colorado! And we were welcomed by yesterday’s far away friends. Words can not describe the happiness and love in that moment, but the tears and warm hugs did. We have already unpacked our bags in Basalt, CO for the weekend.

The title does not depict the feeling after a stroll through the state’s ever growing herb garden. Instead it describes the lack of air to our brains resulting in non stop laughter during our 3 hour drive deep into the Rocky Mountains. Or maybe it is just the emotion of seeing best friends after being away for 40 days. Every mountain and turn we take seems to be more breathtaking than the last. Of course pictures don’t do justice, but I still can give you a little taste.

Yes, we’ve been on the road for 40 days now. It’s amazing to think the beginning of this unbelievable journey was over a month ago. We are on a leg of our trip that is more unknown than before simply because the massive scenic changes. This makes me even more ecstatic to discover this part of the states.

I will continue posting pictures that need no explanation. Enjoy the read from your end and I will enjoy the ride from mine.

Love from the mountain girl!

I can see for miles miles miles…

   
 
Before I start my post, I wanted to share my trip soundtrack. Holocene by Bon Iver. Check it out! When I’m riding in the car, sitting on the beach or staring out into the vast openness it clears my mind and puts me into only that moment. 

It is only Thursday, but I was so excited to share about the ground we covered since Monday. On Tuesday morning, we discovered downtown New Orleans. That town has a rediculous amount of character. In only the couple hours we spent walking around, the city captivated my undivided attention. It was difficult leaving, but knowing that I would make it back one day eased my mind. We then headed 10.5 hrs west to Dallas, TX. I wish I could say that it was a smooth trip, but if you watched the news on Tuesday there were tornadoes watching over most of Texas. Thankfully, we didn’t see any on the road, but we did experience the effects of the wind and rain/flooding. When we finally did make it to our hotel, a hot shower and a bed was all we needed to lull us to sleep. Wednesday was again full of highway. However, it was much different than the previous day. Not only was the weather much more cooperative, but the scenery made me not want to blink. The remainder of Texas (all 6 hrs left) started with green wide-open fields spotted with wind turbines and oil drills. Toward the western half of the ginormous state the fields became more parched. After all we were heading into the desert and it certainly looked that way. We even ran over a tumble weed rolling across the pavement! Our destination for the night was Raton, NM. After setting up our tent just before the sun went to sleep, we learned very quickly that the desert gets very chilly at night. We warmed up with hot soup and curled up in our sleeping bags. The temperature hovered around 26 degrees until the sun peaked through again this morning. When it finally did though, the cold didn’t bother me anymore because the view again captivated my undivided attention.

More mountains today! Denver here we come.

Car daze…

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After ten and a half hours in the Versa, we successfully traveled through the remainder of Florida, the southern tips of Alabama and Mississippi and landed ourselves in New Orleans, Louisiana for the night. You would think with that much time in the car anything could happen. And by anything I mean everything.

I’ll take you through our average car ride. On this trip, each time we hit the road, we drive for approximately 6-8 hours to our next destination. During that time certain things always happen in our car. First, Nick and I ALWAYS break into song followed by ridiculous upper body dances requiring a combination of head bobs and arm flailing. Then, I usually become tired or realize that I am tired enough for a catnap. After I wake up, I write in my journal (because when I die I want someone to know that at least one person from the twenty-first century still knew how to write with a pen). Following (not necessarily in this order), we figure out plans for the next part of our trip/make reservations, etc., stop for a bathroom break, eat snacks, bathroom break, switch driving, play car games, and of course, another bathroom break. Even though these are the staples of my ‘normal day’ now, I can say that I don’t take any of these memories for granted. The reason, I get to experience a brand new something everyday with one of my favorite people by my side. Everyday when I open my eyes, I know that I’m going to have my challenges in and out of the car. But I couldn’t be more grateful every moment.

Illness struck the Oregon Trail…

Well it was bound and determined to happen at some point in our trip. Sickness struck the Versa. Actually only half, I am currently still healthy. Even though half of the duo is laid up in bed, I still got to explore because thankfully, this week we are hunkered down in the less than perfect state of Florida. And even better we are spending this time with family.

While Nick took a few days to mend, I took time to paint, watch sunsets over the ocean, and catch up with my family tree. This time is priceless and I am forever grateful for each moment.

Spend as much time with your loved ones as possible because if not now, when?

Love from the ocean breeze.

 

Latitude 24.55 N, 81.78 W

 

To my loyal readers: I know I didn’t keep my word on writing Monday, but I promise I have a good story as to why. We spent the last three nights pitching a tent, sleeping under the stars, taking deodorant showers and walking miles along back trails.

The first night, we spent in southern Georgia about a mile from the Florida border. Besides for the high being 37 degrees and eating cliff bars for dinner for the seven hundredth time, we were camping. I was exactly where I wanted to be.

The next two nights were spent driving the length of Florida. Our first stop was Titusville. Our campground was only a short distance between The Kennedy Space Center and Disney World. We spent the evening walking the Atlantic beach, searching for manatees, alligators and dolphins. We saw two out of the three. The last night was my favorite; we were in Florida’s tropical paradise, The Keys. Our KOA site was located on Sugarloaf Key. I could spend more time naming off every key, each with it’s own ridiculous name, but I won’t.  The bottom line is the natural beauty here is unparalleled.  The sun is so bright it sparkled off the water making it look like a sea full of diamonds. The islands welcome you like you were coming home after a long time away. I could spend weeks here exploring and discovering each island’s hidden treasures. Latitude 24.55 N, 81.78 W-Key West, lowest point in the continental U.S.

Make sure to tune back in on Friday for an update!

Love and warmth!