West Coast, Best Coast?

I am from still debating…but this trip made it hard to not want to stay out west.

Being from Pennsylvania, part of me will always have a home here in my heart, but the landscapes and weather out west are unmatched. Maybe it was the combination of seeing and meeting friends that made it so special, but still. After over a year of not really seeing my friends, (and not seeing some of these particular friends in 3-4 years!) I was more than ready to be reunited with them and have some cross country adventures. I am in my feelings all over again just thinking about it!

First, I arrived in Flagstaff and met up with my friend JT, where he was on a weeklong vacation to see the Grand Canyon and some surrounding areas. Together, along with three of his friends (who quickly became mine, too) we visited not only the great Grand Canyon, but took a side-by-side through Sedona, swam in Lake Powell, dared to look down over Glen Canyon Dam, and felt lucky at Horseshoe Bend. (I’m fortunate that JT is a videographer, so stay tuned for some awesome footage of this trip! And check out his wedding videos & website here.)

Grand Canyon:

Glen Canyon/Lake Powell/Horseshoe Bend, etc.

Sedona:

It just so happened that my incredible friend from home, Eli, was also in Flagstaff because he was going to RUN the Grand Canyon. Yeah, you heard right. Bright Angel trail, the rim of almost 50 miles. Insane. Anyway, there was one night of overlap so I got to see him for a couple hours the night before his big run! He does a lot of epic things like this and raises money for the Inclusive Outdoors Project, which you should know about (and donate if you’re able)!

Next, I left Arizona and made my way to California, where my friend from college, Casey, picked me up from the airport and we headed back to his place with his boyfriend Taylor in Venice. It was a couple days of beach walking, hard kombucha drinking, mountain climbing, and sunset chasing, as well as time playing with Hudson, his cute pup! I also walked the famous canals, wandered down the ever-busy boardwalk (even at 7 AM!), and checked out Santa Monica Pier. (Sidecar donuts for the win!)

Before leaving, I was able to meet up with my friend and fellow Madwoman, Karla. We’re both poets that recently left Pittsburgh (she moved out to LA!) and caught up with one another over coffee. If you’re also an artist in LA or looking for one, here is her website.

Last but certainly not least, I arrived in San Diego where I met up with my high school friend Elle and her girlfriend Bria. It’s like we never missed a beat! There were so many evenings of long talks late into the night where we laughed so hard I thought I’d physically hurt myself, and days filled with trying the best tacos and most decadent ice cream, and watching an epic sunset our last night- at a spot literally called “Sunset Cliffs.” We may have talked about me moving to San Diego… and with the beauty that is the seaside, Balboa Park, and weather like that, who wouldn’t consider it? I did a day trip to La Jolla as well, made friends with some chunky seals, and had the best tacos. Check it out:

Can you believe ALL of that was just in one week?!

Like I said, I’m from the east coast and Pennsylvania will always be home, but…nice weather, awesome national parks and unique landscapes, Salt & Straw ice cream…it tugs at my heartstrings.

What do you think? West coast, best coast?

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Writing AND Traveling News!

Whew! Travel has (obviously) come to a halt, and as as result,¬† 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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72 Hours in the Queen City

It seems that I have a thing for visiting cities and making the most of them even if it’s less than 72 hours, and Charlotte was no different.

I love North Carolina, but this was my first time in the Queen City. I was finally visiting and reuniting with my best friend Stephanie who moved there last year.

Here’s how it went down:

I arrived Friday night, planned to go to a food truck festival with live music, but it was chilly (AKA, about 50ish degrees) so we opted for drinks at Fahrenheit with spectacular city rooftop views and followed those with a mouthwatering-ly fresh dinner at Sea Level instead.

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Delish!

Surrounded by bright city lights, we left the restaurant and walked around town. I was in awe of the skyscrapers. We were¬†in the midst of the most beautiful hotels, museums, theaters,¬†and modern banks. (After all, it is the second largest banking center in the U.S..) Although I didn’t have time to check these out, Charlotte is also home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Mint Museum, among others.

Saturday morning, Steph and I set out to hike Crowders Mountain, a state park in Gaston County (roughly 30-40 minutes outside the city).  The two peaks, Crowders Mountain and The Pinnacle, offered a bit of a challenging hike, but we were rewarded with this view upon reaching the top.

Hawks soared peacefully through the sky, the sunshine warmed our already flushed faces, and the gentle breeze cooled the sweat on our skin. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Capturing it was impossible, so we put our phones away and focused on appreciating life¬†in that moment.

Later that evening, we headed to the Spectrum Center for a Hornets game! Although I’ll always be a Knicks fan, I was pumped¬†for my first Hornets game and to check out the Spectrum Center. We got a Cam Newton bobble-head the moment we walked through the door. The Hornets were playing the Washington Wizards and although it was an edge-of-your-seat game, the Hornets took home the win that night with a final score of 98-93!

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Girls Night Out!

The next morning, we walked around the gorgeous neighborhood of Cotswold. One of the things I instantly liked¬†about Charlotte was that the city was spread out among all these smaller neighborhoods, and each neighborhood had its own unique charm. We¬†then headed to brunch at ToastCafe. I can’t remember loving brunch any more than I did in that moment, sipping hot coffee in that wooden booth. I opted for the Raspberry Walnut¬†flapjacks, and knew I made the right decision as soon as I sank my teeth into the warm dish. An interesting concept about the cafe is that “every server is your server,” so we didn’t see the same waiter/waitress twice! Everyone took care of us.

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The one instance where I regret not photographing my food.

All too soon, it was time for me to return to Pittsburgh. Although we crossed off some items¬†on Steph’s restaurant bucket list and climbed a mountain, I realized in those short three days that Charlotte really has so much to offer (no matter who you are or what you’re into)¬†and I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface!¬†That just means another trip is in order…

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(Looking at you, Steph!)

Have you been to Charlotte? What was your favorite place? I’d love to hear!

Until next time,

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