Family Cross Country Road Trip: Florida to Nevada

Three adults, two kids, two vehicles (one pulling a trailer), a dog, and a cat.

Put together, it’s the ingredients for one unforgettable and exhausting adventure!

My brother (Ryan), his wife, and my two nieces were in the process of moving from Florida to Nevada, and needed some help. I needed out of Pennsylvania. It seemed like a no-brainer.

We left Florida (where they had called home the past few years) and set off on the 1,800+ mile trip the first week of December.

Let me just say, I am all for 3 a.m. wake-ups when it is for a trip! (Though I was riding shotgun, and just the designated keeper of snacks/drinks/toys/blankets/tissues. I suspect those driving might’ve felt differently.)

Without further ado, here were some of our highlights and stops:

11/30 Monday

This day was pretty much straight driving, trying to cover the greatest distance the first day, since most of the attractions we wanted to do/see were closer to the west coast.

Felt like we were always chasing the sun or moon.

Night one: Terrell

12/1 Tuesday

VW Slug Bug Ranch– which yes, did have cars, but this little one was more interested in playing in the abandoned graffitied buildings and broken glass, so I had to go scoop her.

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Palo Duro (Texas Grand Canyon) where we grabbed lunch and enjoyed some social distancing by hiking a trail, all to ourselves.

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Just the girls ๐Ÿ™‚


Cadillac Ranch– something so bizarre and yet so fascinating. What would you paint if you were leave your mark?

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We’re all about the public art installations.

Night two: Tucumcari

12/2 Wednesday

We hit a TON of traffic due to a bad accident, so we didn’t make it to Albuquerque like we wanted. We drove through Sevilleta National Wildlife area, through New Mexico, instead. This was a challenging day, (long hours in the car, no stops or attractions) but luckily we covered so many miles the day before that we were still well on schedule even with the setback.

& there was snow! Can you believe it?

We watched the most amazing sunset as we crossed into Arizona.

Night three: Flagstaff

12/3 Thursday

We stayed in Flagstaff for two nights, as we planned to do most of our exploring from this point. We ventured to the Grand Canyon– more specifically, to the South Rim, which was the only part open during this season. The last time Ryan and I had been here, we were on a family vacation back in the early 2000s. I know I didn’t appreciate the immensity of it then…but seeing it now, over 15 years later, I was blown away.

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Completely freezing. Completely worth it.
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Such an incredible place
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I need longer arms for this

Then we went on to Sedona, and ended up hiking Cathedral Rock on a whim. It wasn’t for the faint of heart- a rocky, steep cliffside. My five-year-old niece kept going, all the way to the top, beyond any of our expectations! She was a little warrior on the trail, and I loved sharing this moment with her at the top:

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Girl Power!
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Just a little beyond the end of the trail…

While we were there we saw the Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Sedona overlook, Airport Mesa, Three Sisters, and some of the adorable shops in town as we sipped hot chocolate. We only had a couple hours here, and hiking took the most time. I would love to go back for more hiking- Devil’s Bridge and more.

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Family photo with Cathedral Rock in the background

Night four we spent back in Flagstaff. It was great to have that AirBnb for two nights in a row and have a “home base” that wasn’t the inside of a vehicle. Already, it almost felt like we had been LIVING on the road and yet at the same time, just started the trip. All we had left was the four hour drive between here and Vegas…

And just like that, it was over. Friday early afternooon, we pulled into the driveway of their new home and began the process of unpacking!

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So what has happened since?

I can’t wait to share those next adventures with youโ€”

Sending love,

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Featured on Blog for First Time Travel Tips

I’ve mentioned a lot on this blog recently how incredible social media has been as a tool for meeting others in the travel community, forming friendships and connections, and even opening doors of opportunity.

This is the case with Jemma, who posted about an open call for travel bloggers to contribute to a group post. The questions covered top travel tips for a first time traveler, the 3 things we can’t travel without, and how travel has changed our lives. I was stoked to be a part and to contribute!

The first question is now up on a blog post on her site. There are a lot of really incredible individuals on this list with me- make sure you check them out and give them a follow!

Speaking of following, are you? This blog and @fromthissideofthesun on Instagram. ๐Ÿ™‚

Read the post by clicking here or at http://adventureswithjem.com/2020/11/first-time-traveller-tips/

Jemma’s Instagram: @jemms.adventures

Thanks again to Jemma for having me and all who contributed!

Hoping you’re staying connected to the things, places, and people that bring you joy,

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Writing AND Traveling News!

Whew! Travel has (obviously) come to a halt, and as as result,ย  I’ve been busy with editing and submitting my creative writing. I almost forgot to update y’all, but I’m happy that some poems have been accepted into these journals.

ANDDDDDDDD…………………………………………………………………………………………

I was accepted to two international writing residencies! One in Iceland, and one in Finland, planned for 2021. A lot can change before then, but I’ve been informed that I can be granted an exemption due to business as long as I follow appropriate protocol, which I will certainly do. Here’s hoping that there will be a reliable vaccine soon, that things improve with containing the virus, and that travel can safely resume.

img_5489In Iceland back in 2016, and the answer is YES, about 47 of them.

I’ve been to Iceland before, but if anyone has any recommendations for Finland, I’m all ears! Or, any tips for a productive writing residency, books to bring, prompts, etc.?

Happy wandering & writing,

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Word to Action

Word to Action is a writing retreat centered on the theme of climate change. My friend, Cathy Wittmeyer, is the creator and host of this incredible retreat, which took place October 12-18 in Liechtenstein.

It featured poets Craig Santos Perez, Will McInerney, Kelli Russell Agodon, Richard Blanco, Enda Wyley, and Tess Barry.

It certainly isn’t easy to plan an international writing retreat in the year of 2020, with travel bans and a worldwide pandemic, but Cathy pulled it off seamlessly. I was lucky enough to help behind the scenes with social media and also attended the retreat virtually, which provided me with fresh knowledge and inspiration, but also, renewed hope.

Just after Day 1, I was speechless! I learned so much from both the featured speakers and the other participants that will carry into not only my future writing, but my way of engaging with the world.

From Cathy:

I see a clear picture for moving forward and that picture has a lot of haze in it (a continued or new pandemic, other crises, other demands on time): behind the fog is hope that writing poems and putting them into the world will create ripples. The more of us that are out there making ripples, the harder our words will be to ignore. Poetry changes the world with a collective of small vibrations that move through one, two, or a thousand people at a time.

Cathy Wittmeyer, host

Beautiful view of the Alps.
All for the final performance!

Check out the link to the video performance and record your carbon footprint here.

As we have seen, this year perhaps more than ever, climate change is so very real. I’m continuing to educate myself on actions big and small that I can take, and want to encourage others to do the same. That’s how those ripples will make waves of change. I’m thankful to Cathy and all those who gave their time in making this retreat one to remember.

Hopefully see you there in person in 2021!

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P.S. To keep up with Word to Action, find us on Instagram here or @wordtoaction and Twitter here, or @WordtoAction20.

“Smile” is Synonymous for Survival

Hi friends,

Some good news– This piece I wrote was awarded 2nd place in The Nasiona’s micro-nonfiction/poetry tournament recently:

I feel like all women (travelers or not) can unfortunately relate to this. And the emotions it brings are so complex, arenโ€™t they? A mixture of anger, fear, shame, helplessness… Wanting to stand up for yourself but not knowing how, & being so scared it could backfire.ย 

Let me know what you think of the piece, or how you respond to this type of harassment, in the comments ๐Ÿ’›

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My Top 10 Traveling Items

Though it feels weird to post this in a time when hardly any of us are traveling, I’ve been asked this question quite a few times, and I’m hoping this will be useful to other female travelers.

*Keep in mind I’m a very low maintenance traveler. I don’t bring hair products or styling tools, and haven’t found neck pillows or eye masks to be necessary. That’s just my personal preference. Also, things like your passport, visas, money, phone, camera, etc. go without saying.*

Without further ado, here are some of the things I always bring with me on my trips:

1. A reusable water bottle

This is a must. I’ve definitely been guilty of buying a bottle of water right after getting through security before– don’t be like me.

Here’s what I use:

Not even just reusable, this water bottle is also collapsible. This is compact, and will save you (and the environment!) lots in the long run.

2. Teva sandals

I wear these constantly. They are so comfortable for walking cobblestone streets and yes– sturdy enough that I often hike in them, too!

I typically opt for the black, which matches with everything.

3. Portable charger

This shouldn’t come as a surprise- we need to stay connected on the go.

The power bank I have (shown above) has been a lifesaver in many situations where I couldn’t get to a power source. Make sure to charge ahead of time.

4. Black leggings

Go ahead and roll your eyes, but leggings are: A. stretchy and comfortable B. suitable for most weather C. easy to pack and D. again, black goes with everything, and you can easily dress it up.

I love these ones because they are high waisted, lightweight, and even come with a pocket! (Ask any female, they will tell you how exciting it is to have pockets in clothing.)

5. Packing cubes

Because organization is important, and so is saving all your precious carry-on space (and your sanity when you’re trying to find the stuff you’ve packed). These come in all sizes and colors.

I just got these ones last year for Christmas and am obsessed with the teal!

6. Lightweight Jacket

Your girl gets super chilled, super fast. Layers are always key, and even in temperate weather, you never know how fast it could turn.

I love this one, (with a hood!) perfect for walking around European cities in the fall:

And typically use this (waterproof!) one for more outdoor adventures:

* Even for warmer climates, don’t forget a shawl or scarf, especially in countries that require modest covering (i.e. entering temples in Thailand).

7. Daypack

It’s important to have some kind of smaller luggage for hiking, day trips, or any type of adventure you may find yourself on.

Gregory is one of my favorite brands, but this Osprey one is great as well.

8. While we’re on the subject of bags and backpacks, let’s talk purses.

This is an anti-theft cross body bag with tons of storage space, even for umbrellas or water bottles!

If that isn’t really your style, and you’re looking for something smaller and more sleek, I’d recommend this:

There’s also some pretty cool infinity scarves that have hidden travel pockets like these:

9. Adapter

This is obviously an absolute must if you are traveling internationally where plugins are different. Try to aim for one that has extra USB ports, so you can maximize charging time with minimal space.

Here is what I use:

Honestly, it doesn’t hurt to have two!

10. Personal safety alarms

As a solo female traveler, there are (unfortunately) extra precautions that are necessary to take. However, that shouldn’t hold you back from your dream of traveling. Here are some items that may help your peace of mind:

These loud alarms have LED lights and come in packs- great for women, kids, or elders- so there’s one for everyone in your family.

Pepper spray (above) and key whistles (below).

What’s great is that these come in multiples as well.

(If you’re forgetful or lose things like me, this will certainly come in handy.)

..And for bonus #11: A mask!!!

Be sure to follow all COVID-19 guidelines and be aware of the measures and rules in place before you get to your destinaton.

This list can go on and on, but I’ll stop there.

I’m forever interested in helpful gadgets, space-savers, and all things cute, practical, and safe to take on my trips. What’s something you always take with you? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe,

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*Disclosure: Please note that some of the links listed above are affiliate links. This is to no extra cost to you- as an Amazon affiliate I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.*

Life’s A Trip Podcast

As much as I can take issue with social media sometimes, it has allowed me to meet and connect with so many incredible people. Many of these new friends are doing such impressive and exciting things. Edher in Peru reached out to me for the Cinnamon Traveler Chats, and Gyovanna (who currently lives in Germany) invited me to be on her podcast, Life’s A Trip. This was my first podcast experience! I’ll admit I was nervous, but Gyovanna and I had so much fun and could’ve talked forever. We actually ended up continuing our convo another hour after we stopped recording!

We covered solo travel and traveling as a woman, of course, but also dove deeper into mental health (not only anxiety and depression, but also excoriation disorder/dermatillomania), the story of how I got my pacemaker, and even poetry. You can listen to the episode here on Spotify. or wherever you get your podcasts.

This was the first time I’ve really openly discussed my BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior) and though I felt so vulnerable, I wanted to share my story with others in hopes that either 1.) it resonates with someone else who is also struggling and/or 2.) it shines a light on these disorders so that others can understand them, which will only help remove the stigma that surrounds them.

I can’t thank her enough for having me, and hope you’ll tune in. She always has wonderful guests on, covering all types of interesting topics. And the name “Life’s A Trip” couldn’t be more spot on this year, can it?

Can’t wait to hear what you think,

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P.S. To anyone wanting to understand more about dermatillomania, I cannot recommend this Ted talk by Liz Atkin enough: https://youtu.be/mlt3o6dnGqA

This is actually how I found out that skin picking had a name! Also, there are tons of different BFRBs, and resources/websites for them. Here are some favorites of mine:
TLC Foundation for BFRBs: https://www.bfrb.org/
Picking Me Foundation NFP: https://pickingme.org/

Not Very Quiet

Ecstatic that my longest sectioned poem, “Redbird,” has found a home within this special Australian journal.

I’m all about women empowerment, and this feels like a good fit for such a vulnerable and important poem.

This newest issue of Not Very Quiet is set to launch tomorrow, September 14th. There is also an audio file, so you can hear me read, if you’d prefer.

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