The Great White North

I have been blessed beyond measure with two supportive, loving, and hard-working people. They’ve watched me grow up, follow my dreams, wander around lost, make mistakes, fail, and get back up again. I know many people who either do not have good relationships with their parents (whether it be due to their lack of support, abuse, toxic traits, distance, e.t.c.) or people who no longer have their parents living. I want to be sure I cherish this time, these memories, and these two people, while I still can.

So, I convinced them to take a trip with me! (Can you believe it?) My mom likes to travel, but my dad is more of a homebody. Still, I thought he would enjoy the beautiful Canadian landscapes. Banff National Park had been on my bucket list for some time (and I thought it’d be easier to convince them to travel somewhere on the same continent, haha).

We flew into Calgary shortly after the Canadian Independence day, and just before ours. I wasn’t certain how busy a 4th of July weekend trip would be, but we weren’t overwhelmed with tourists at all. We spent a week traveling from Calgary to Canmore to Banff to Yoho to Kootenay to Jasper National Park in a rental car. Patience was tested, buttons were pushed, but we all made it out the other side!

Here are some highlights:

Four National Parks

We stayed the first night in Canmore, where we hiked the beautiful Grassy Lakes Trail (shown below). I have never seen water this color- it was unbelievable! Though it was a bit of a hike for all of us, the views were more than worth it. My parents are both in their mid-60’s, and I’m so, so proud of them for pushing through and following along with my crazy adventures! It wouldn’t have been the same without them. I think more than anything, this trip opened up our eyes to how fortunate we are to have healthy and capable bodies.

From Canmore, we continued on into Banff.

The famous beautiful lakes/sights-

Banff:

  • Peyto Lake
  • Lake Louise
  • Moraine Lake
  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Bow Lake
  • Johnston Canyon
  • Fairmont Banff Springs

Lake Moraine was one of the most stunning lakes, in my opinion. It almost seemed like it shone a different hue at every angle. I couldn’t stop staring at it. I decided to hurry and hike to the top of a cliff to get a better view, and told my parents I’d be back shortly. I knew they’d need rest after all the exercise we were getting. Once I reached the top, to my surprise, I saw my dad had followed me up! It was a special moment to have him there and able to see firsthand the incredible beauty before us. Again, the lake seemed to radiate a different blue shade from above. Because we were up for more adventure, we continued on to explore even more National Parks:

Yoho:

  • Natural Bridge
  • Emerald Lake
  • Takakkaw Falls
  • Kicking Horse Pass
  • Mount Victoria

Kootenay:

  • Paint Pots
  • Healy Pass Trail
  • Mount Assiniboine Park

Jasper:

  • Athabasca Glacier
  • Athabasca Falls
  • Maligne Lake
  • Maligne Canyon

My mom’s bucket list item was to see a glacier, so we made sure to make Jasper National Park our last destination, so we could walk out on Athabasca Glacier and even touch the water running down. We did this through the Columbia Icefield Adventure. The tires on those vehicles were as tall as me! Fun fact: there’s only about 30 of them that exist. Oh, and check out the traffic we ran into in the top left photo-

We only had rain one day, at Emerald Lake, and though we didn’t see a bear, we did narrowly miss one hiking- so thank goodness for that! I think my mom would have pooped her pants 😉 Some of the highlights of the trip included my dad making calls out the window to the elk and watching them lift their heads up & look around, getting mom to shuffle across the glass floor Skywalk, and seeing the blue beauties of the lakes for the first time.

I am so glad I had the chance to take this trip while we all were in good health and able to hike. No matter if you believe in heaven or not, this wide open slice of it is truly beautiful, and I was blessed to share it with my mom and dad.

Until next time, the Great White North–

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P.S. Where do you think I should go with my parents try to convince my parents to go with me next?

H-Town Vicious

Why yes, I’m referring to the Beyoncé song, “Bow Down.” And speaking of Queen B, I visited her hometown this year, and am here to tell you it’s irreplaceable. So get in formation, ladies & gentleman–

Remember when I went to Belize and met these amazing friends, and then went to Mexico with them a couple months later, and then again to Cuba? I had yet to actually hang out with them in the States, since I live in Pennsylvania and they live in Texas. However, that changed when I visited for a weekend, for my first time at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo!  (I did not realize this was a thing. And it’s a HUGE thing!)

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We actually had a weekend full of concerts, as well. Cardi B at the Rodeo, and then Trampled by Turtles the next night at the White Oak Music Hall.

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Also- can’t forget the CRAWFISH! This was a first for me, and I was slightly terrified at first but then loved how messy and delicious this experience was! We also saw The Orange Show and Smither Park, two gorgeous installations of art.

 

 

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Most of our time was spent in between the Heights and downtown, so there wasn’t a lot of actual area covered, but we really packed so much into this three day weekend and I had such an absolute blast brunchin’ with these babes after Barbarella’s!

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What’s better than fried butter and friendship?!

Fried butter, frito pies, chicken and waffles, tamales, you name it! The food scene is on fire in this city! As is the weather, the nightlife, and the people. Can’t wait to visit again.

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Beachin’ in Barbados

JANUARY 18-21, 2019

My 40th country was the ever beautiful Barbados! Home to Rihanna, amazing rum punches and sunsets, and some guy that told me he’d buy me a Toyota…unless I greatly misunderstood the Bajan dialect, which is probably a safe bet.

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I met quite a few friends, including both locals and fellow travelers that became fast friends. I had flying fish for dinner, which was delicious, and chatted the night away with rum punches at some of the oceanside bars.

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I mainly stayed near Bridgetown, a port city and the capital of Barbados, and spent time on the lovely Rockley Beach, Worthing Beach, and also visited Brownes Beach, Pebble Beach, and Needhams Point. Walking along the boardwalk in the morning was one of my favorite experiences. It was beautiful to watch the waves crash into the white sand and feel the warm sun on my shoulders, not yet overpowering in the heat of the day.

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Like the graffiti? I had to send a photo to my mom 🙂

Barbados is such a friendly island and even though it is small in size (21 miles by 14 miles, to be exact) there was so much I wanted to do and see before my weekend there was up. I didn’t get to try pudding and souse, but I sampled Banks beer & Mount Gay rum while hanging out at the Chill Cafe.

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If you get the opportunity for an island getaway, I highly recommend Barbados as a tropical escape!

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Keeping it Cool in Curaçao

Thanksgiving looked a little different this year- no turkey at the dinner table or family all around me. I spent it with another love, one I’m grateful for: traveling solo. I am so thankful for the opportunity to see yet another gorgeous place in this world.

I decided to spend some time in Curaçao for a warm getaway, and was lucky enough to have a layover in Panama City, Panama on the way. I only had a short time in Casco Viejo and tried to make the most of it.

Walking around the beautiful Plaza de Francia (evening & early morning).

The view of the city looking out over the water was spectacular, as was the contrast of old & new cities.

I quickly stumbled upon the Cathedral of Panama, as it was right near my hotel and hard to miss. One of the oldest structures in the city.

Sunrise the next morning as I slowly made my way to the airport:

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If you wander around Plaza Tomás Herrera & Plaza de la Independencia, you’ll be sure to stumble upon beautiful streets lined with lush greenery and surprising architecture.

Aren’t these streets so colorful and charming?

Outside Iglesia La Merced

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Next: Curaçao

This was the weekend of the marathon, and also a busy time around the holidays, but this town was a breath of fresh air. Here I am posing on the Queen Emma Bridge. Also, speaking of posing- check out that bird in the photo above. I mean, come on…

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Cool drinks, cooler town.

La Bohème was the spot!

Sights around Pietermaai District:

Taking some time to relax on my last day.

This waterrrrrrr though.

Fresh fruit “pizza,” holiday decor, and crystal blue waters. Name a better trio.

Love seeing this view, hate seeing it go.

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Eat. Drink. Travel. Sleep. Repeat.

Until then,

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Travel Blur: A Long Weekend in Liechtenstein & Portugal

SEPTEMBER 26-30, 2018

Looking back, 2018 was one of my craziest travel years to date. I’d just ended the last day of 2017 in Belize, spent a whirlwind long weekend in between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden, a month later jetted off to Mexico with friends I’d met in Belize, spent two perfect weeks in June studying poetry in the heart of Dublin, Ireland, welcomed July in Colorado and ended it in Maine, spent my birthday in Puerto Rico, stepped back in time in Havana, Cuba in August, and that’s what brings me here: a slice of time from September to October when I was so lucky to visit two AMAZING countries: Liechtenstein and Portugal. (I ended the year by dipping into Panama City, Panama & then dipping my toes into the beaches of Curaçao, but that’s for another post.)

My friend Sarah, who I met through my friend & coworker Debra, was also a passionate traveler and was working and living in Europe at the time. We had talked about meeting up somewhere in the world, but it just felt like a far-off venture that probably wouldn’t work out.
Until, it did.
We both had been wanting to go to Portugal, and miraculously our schedules aligned! I took a couple days before arriving in Portugal to meet up with my friend Cathy, who I had met in my MFA program. Cathy lives in Liechtenstein with her family and had often told me of the gorgeous mountain views she saw on her early morning hikes, but experiencing it with her was another thing. Putting on our sweatshirts and shoes in the dark, we climbed up the hills, past farms and pastures, and watched the sun come over the town below.

While I was there, Cathy brought me to her son’s school to speak to the kids about poetry. I didn’t realize how nervous I would be- I have no clue how to be in front of middle schoolers, y’all. I know how important poetry is, and what it means to me, but how could I ever relate that to a group of eleven year olds? Regardless, I was so honored she had invited me.

Cathy took me to the Werdenberg Castle, showed me Vaduz and the art in Städtle, but my favorite place was her kitchen, right in the heart of her home with the big picture windows, sitting with a glass of white wine and laughing.

After our short time together, I caught a flight to meet up with Sarah, and we set out to see as much as possible in two of Portugal’s most beautiful cities, Lisbon and Porto.

We started out in Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in Europe, and it did not disappoint!

Lisbon highlights:

Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge
Jerónimos monastery
Torre de Belém
pastéis de nata
Tram 28/funiculars
Mercado da Ribeira (market)
Alfama District (hill, old town)
Rossio Square/Pedro IV Square (peoplewatching, eating/drinking)
the Bairro Alto (nightlife)
the Padrão dos Descobrimentos
LX Factory
Check out all of the amazing street art, too!

OOH, we also took a day trip to Sintra/Pena Palace/Cascais, which is gorgeous and I would definitely recommend:

We packed a lot of fun into Lisbon, but nothing could prepare us for what the cobblestone streets of Portugal’s second largest city, (known for its port wine production) would lead us down…

We drank as much of the city in as we could ❤

Porto highlights:

The Cais da Ribeira/ Luís I Bridge
Clérigos Tower
Avenida dos Aliados
Graham’s Port Lodge
Teleférico de Gaia – Estação Cais de Gaia
Funicular dos Guindais
Croft Port
Muralha Primitiva
Pillory of Porto
Igreja dos Clérigos
Igreja do Carmo
Praça de Lisboa
São Bento Station (beautiful station from the 1800s)
Câmara Municipal do Porto (city hall)

Full transparency, there aren’t a ton of photos from Porto due to the many glasses of wine you see pictured above.

Some memories you can’t capture 🙂 I had the time of my life with Sarah and I’m SO glad it worked out for us to cross off a bucketlist destination together.

Portugal, you’re more beautiful than I could’ve imagined. Your landscape, architecture, seafood, and of course, wine, are still spinning in my head.

xoxo,

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Best of Bogotá

My mom might not have been happy with the fact that I went to Colombia, but I sure was. Flights were so reasonable, and what else is a girl to do over a long holiday weekend?

On my first full day there, I set out to climb Monserrate, a mountain with sweeping views of the city. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the hike was tougher than I imagined. Fighting the rising heat, the altitude, and the physical exertion along with my pacemaker- I finally reached the top.

But maybe it took so long because I kept stopping at every turn to stare behind me. Look at these views! There was a church, several restaurants, and other shops at the top. You can also reach the peak by funicular, but if you can handle it, the hike is well worth it.

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After heading back down, I wandered around Bogotá, exploring La Candelaria and surrounding neighborhoods.

The cathedral, capitol, Plaza de Bolivar, Museo del Oro, Silva Poetry House, Gabriel Garcia Márquez mural & museum, and many more were highlights throughout these narrow streets.

And I also stumbled into ALL THIS GORGEOUS ART.

No, really though…

The coffee, of course, was delicious. As was all the food (and mounds of chocolate) I tried!

As always, there is danger in any place. Please use precaution and be smart, especially when traveling solo. But don’t ever let fear of the unknown & stereotypes or opinions of others hold you back from experiencing life! The most wonderful things happen outside right outside your comfort zone.

 

Until next time,

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Havana Good Time

I stepped back in time with the two best friends a girl could ask for. Havana, Cuba was unlike any place I’d ever been.

From the bright colored homes, classic cars, and heart of the Cuban people, nothing was more spirited.

We saw Fusterlandia (above) and admired the beautiful works of art. Then, we sampled different rums, savored the most delicious (and only) flaming coffee I’d ever had, and I had my first cigar, which I loved! We brought several back 😉

From Old Havana, to Mafia Mojitos, we soaked in every experience.

Getting lost around the capital.

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And come on, our balcony view was right near the famous Malecón!

We also caught El Morro cannon celebration and the most breathtaking sunset! What a way to end a trip of a lifetime.

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Please- If you are from the U.S., do not let what is going on right now steer you away from this incredible country. I urge you to see it for yourself. You can get a visa at the airport like we did for support of the Cuban people. Stay at an AirBnB and exchange money beforehand. All things were actually less of a hassle than we expected.

This is one place you will be so happy you didn’t miss!
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An Island of Strength: Puerto Rico Prospers

There will always be beauty in tragedy, this I’ve come to know.

Surely you’ve heard about it in the news over the past year. Due to the absolute devastation Hurricane Maria brought the island of Puerto Rico, the battered island is still healing but moving forward. El Yunque, its beloved rainforest, still looks beautiful but will take nearly decades to truly recover. With the changes, new species of flora and fauna will appear.

In the short time I was here, it was difficult to imagine what it looked like before- all around me it was still so lush, green, and thriving. Colorful streets and smiling people. The pride that beats down like the hot sun. This is what I will take with me from this place- the bounce back. The miracle of life and the sense of love and hope it brings. The strength of a whole community overcoming the odds together. The ability to not only survive, but to prosper.

Here is an insight to my time there:

Walking around the colorful Condado, glimpsing the sunrise at Ocean Beach and catching the sunset at Atlantic Beach.

My new favorite dish- Mofongo!

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Heart of Old San Juan

El Yunque National Forest

What a sweet way to bring in 28 years.

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                                              Keep living. Keep overcoming. Keep thriving.

                                                                                                                     Love always,

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The Maine Attraction

Ever since I took that trip with my mom to Punta Cana, I’ve been asking her to travel with me again.  Though I already have a great relationship with my parents, I especially value our time together as we all get older. To my surprise, she finally said yes! (Maybe because this was a domestic trip, for once? Haha.)

We flew into Portland on Thursday evening. She had never seen whales in real life and wanted to see them, so we opted for a cruise that next day. Of course, we had to get our first fresh lobster roll beforehand!

 

We got lucky and saw three fin whale, and a couple harbor seals! And, of course, the famous Portland Head Lighthouse.

 

Walking around Portland/Old Port: Portland Observatory, Eastern Promenade, East End Beach, Fish Point, Fort Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Bug Point, etc.

Our favorite spots to eat included: DiMillo’s on the water, Becky’s Diner, Portland Lobster Company, The Holy Donut, Gilbert’s Chowder House, and so many more.

The next day, we rented a car and drove to Acadia National Park.

Such a beautiful day! Highlights included: Eagle Lake, Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, among others.

We took a ferry to one of the many islands surrounding Portland the next day. We opted for Peaks Island and enjoyed blueberry soda while soaking up some rays. We didn’t know that wild blueberries grow naturally here- 44,000 acres, to be exact.

 

Coastal Maine is surely a sight for sore eyes, and there’s no other person I’d rather soak in that beauty with then my incredible mother. I know we’ll both cherish this time together in years to come.

 

Until next time,

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COLORado

Hi friends!

Another adventure for ya. The moment I spotted round trip tickets to Denver for $150, I was sold. Combine that with reuniting with a college friend, gorgeous mountain hikes, and an incredible concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater and the opportunity for a weekend getaway to Colorado was a no-brainer.

First up, my friend Lindsay and I went hiking in Roosevelt National Forest.

Lake Isabelle was quite a sight for sore eyes.

Here are some awesome spots around the city: delicious dinner at Tacos Tequila Whiskey, the Botanical Gardens, Capitol Building, Union Station, Linger (mortuary turned into a restaurant) and the sun setting near Highland/Lodo district.

On Saturday night, The Avett Brothers put on one hell of a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. We did the bus to show route, let loose, and had a night we’ll never forget. Good jams, good friends, good times.

As per usual, my short getaway was all kinds of perfect, though it wasn’t even scratching the surface of this amazing city and state.

To sum it all up, I absolutely loved it and I’m moving here.

 

                                                                                   Stay wild,

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