Hi, I'm in Delaware

Since my mom is possibly one of the few regular readers of my blog, she addressed my last post and said that she was feeling sorry that I’m lonely at the beach. She wondered how I could say that I don’t have a social life when I have her. True, I am lucky to have her to hang out with and to accompany me on expeditions. And while having a mom is not the same as having friends, I did convince her to join me on a long, random Tuesday adventure upon which we had a lot of fun.

The length of the trip for one day may scare some people off, but it was all broken into two hour chunks, so it didn’t feel like too much to us. We started off with morning yoga class at Yoga Bohemia, then we set off for my old stomping grounds at the University of Delaware.

Newark Deli and Bagels

We started off with the best bagel place, which was so sadly closed the last time I passed through Newark. We brought them up to arguably the best coffee place and ate them on the deck. I felt only slightly old, but mostly wise and experienced as we walked around campus. Almost everything looked the same, except for the area of my freshman year dorms which has been drastically improved.

Delaware Circle

We took a tour of the houses I lived in—home of many good times and drunken endeavors. I remember one year after a blizzard when a four foot blanket of snow covered the street, and I lost my phone trotting from one house to another. Someone picked it up, put it in rice for me, and returned it a few days later! Oh the joys of pre-smart phone days. I reflected on the fact that I haven’t lived in single place for more than two years since 2006, so… that’s something.

Dogfish Head

Next, we drove all the way down Delaware (ie. not very far) for the true purpose of the trip, a visit to the Dogfish Head Brewery near Rehoboth Beach. I learned that Milton, DE is wonderfully cute with enviable Southern-style front porches and the charm of any New England town. I also learned that the steampunk treehouse at the brewery originally came from the Burning Man festival in Nevada. The owner bought it for $1 and had it shipped all the way across the U.S.!

Dogfish Head Brewery

We took the ferry from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ just in time for sunset. It was my first time taking my car on a ferry and will probably remain the best time ever, because we saw a group of dolphins diving in front of the boat! It was so surreal!

Cape May to Lewes ferry
Cape May to Lewes ferry

We grabbed ice cream at the alleged * best ice cream parlor in New Jersey * and who am I to argue with that title? We both had black raspberry with chocolate chips.

Springers homemade ice cream

Mom was full of treats and ready to end the adventure at that point, but you know me and you know I am usually jam-packing all of the activities into each and every day of this lifetime. So we added in a stop in Atlantic City at Dock’s Oyster House because I had found this article about Anthony Bourdain’s (R.I.P.) New Jersey food trail. Fun fact: the restaurant I’ve been working this summer is on the list. I’d love to hit some more while I’m in the area. The oysters were very delicious and the bartender was very friendly and yoga-knowledgable. A worthy pit-stop!

Docks Oyster House

We got back home late at night, and it was really a dream of a day! Remember, travel doesn’t have to be a big huge deal to give you an escape. You can create your own adventure wherever you are.

Beachy Brews

Although living in a beach town in September can be one of the best things, I must admit to you guys that living in a place where you don’t know anyone can become a bit draining to the spirit. I’m thankful that I like my main job, because it’s a bit strange to get out of work and know that you have nowhere else to go or anyone to meet.

I’ve been powering through the days, trying to grasp onto work-life balance. I realized last week that I haven’t had a whole day off since August 26th. But then someone at work said she hadn’t had a day off since May, and another guy said he’s been working seven day weeks for the past ten years. Good grief! Let us remember that life is not a contest to see who can work the most! However, I can happily say that I’ve met my financial goals for this pre-Australia summer of money making.

Manafirkin Brewing

It was nice to slow down for an afternoon when my sister came to visit. She’s a vet, and she only gets one day off at a time, but she was willing to drive down the night before to hang with us. We did some morning shopping, because what else are girls going to do when we get together for the day? After that, we took a little Manahawkin adventure off the island to the ManaFirkin Brewery. We brought our own soft pretzels, played a rousing game of Jenga, and I fell in love with the Oatmeal Coffee Stout. Hooray! Another point for New Jersey.

ManaFirkin Brewery

Unfortunately, Elayne had to head back up to NYC that night, but we slipped into the Hotel LBI to graze the rooftop and eat an early dinner. I was grateful for the visit.

Off the Reservation

Woo hoo! I went from being a girl who didn’t leave the island for two to three weeks to a girl who leaves every day. Since the summer traffic is gone, it takes me only 16 minutes to get to this yoga studio that I really like:

The Yoga Hive

And twenty minutes to go to the gym. Yup, you read that right. I’m back to the gym. I thought I could survive off yoga and some Pilates classes for the summer, but I really missed lifting weights and having access to all of the equipment. There’s something about working out in a gym around other people that makes me train harder. And I like making my own schedule, so it’s nice to have the flexibility to go at different times in the day. Most of the exercise classes on the island take place between 8 and 10 am, so if I can’t make those, I wouldn’t be able to go at all.

Bonus: I signed up for a one-month pass this week, and the manager gave me back $10 since I’ll only be here for three more weeks. Thank ya!

Tilton Fitness Manahawkin

Both of those places are in Manahawkin, NJ. It’s the nearest town right over the bridge, and I’m starting to quite like it. New Jersey as a whole has surprised me this summer, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know it better. I’m learning that you don’t need to live in a big city to find awesome people, good yoga, or a juice bar. I’m not sure if it’s true for every town, but I think the stuff you’re looking often finds its way to you.

Happy Habits

Self-Care

If you’ve been reading along on this journey with me for a while, I’m sure you know I’ve usually been pretty good at taking care of myself. Even when I was working full-time in a place of stability, I always had the right combination of structure and flexibility to work from home, prep healthy meals, exercise, or make space for impromptu socializing. After becoming a traveling and/or part-time yoga teacher, the self-care opportunities were even more prevalent. I’ve grown accustomed to making my own schedule and taking advantage of all those free yoga classes that you get for being a teacher. Of course, there’s a fine line to toe when your passion is also your job. Sometimes teaching three or four classes a day feels like enough yoga for you—and it often is! Sometimes there isn’t any time to prep that meal, so you’re on your own with takeout options. Sometimes you over-schedule yourself and realize that your body is a machine that needs oiling just as much as any other.

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This summer, I’ve been pushing that tool to the max. I’ve wanted to work as much as I can to make sure that I can support a big move to another expensive city. Since most of my work is on my feet, I’m realizing that all the hours can take a toll on my feet, my back, and my neck and shoulders. Most nights I come home exhausted at 11:30 and take thirty minutes to wind down on my phone or with a book before I can fall asleep. Some nights I throw in some yoga stretches. Then it’s up early again to reach or work at the gym and I have only a couple hours free for lunch before going back to the restaurant. It’s been a big change from all those hours in LA spent sitting on my butt in traffic! Or when I was getting to take multiple yoga classes a day as part of my advanced teaching certification!

I’m still feeling lucky here. I get to take all the yoga and workout classes I want (and have time for), plus free adjustments from the chiropractor at the gym when he’s on duty. I can order veggies and protein from the restaurant, so it’s ok if I don’t have time to cook. And I’m living rent-free with mom. Hallelujah! Count your blessings!

Pangaea natural foods

But this week, as the tourist-season business dies off, I’ve finally had the opportunity to slow things down and repair my body. I left the island for the first time in weeks for a podiatrist appointment to work on a foot problem that’s been bugging me for three years. I got an impromptu massage which felt AMAZING. You know when you get a massage therapist who just intuitively knows which areas need attention and goes right for them? What a gift! Afterwards, I stopped by the natural foods store and picked up some treats I’ve never tried before and some old favorites.

Barnegat Lighthouse

On Tuesday, I got to work a little bit early and took a breezy walk around the lighthouse. I even saw a surprise pug, which is always a good omen in my book!

Over the weekend, I bought a foam surfboard from the end-of-season sale, and I’ve been pushing myself to get out and work on my “skills”. The first try on my own didn’t go so well, but I saw so many families of dolphins swimming by that it didn’t matter if I fell down in the waves. It still was a truly unbelievable morning on the water!

Surfing LBI

And I’m pretty sure that ice cream is allowed to be a part of any self-care practice. On Sunday, we slipped into the best place right before they shut their doors for the season.

Poppy's Ice cream

What are you doing to take care of your body and soul these days? It becomes especially important to check in and set intentions for our health as we prepare ourselves for the change of seasons. I’m thankful to have the space to do so.

Snippets of Summer

Wow, ok! How did we get this far into September already? It feels like yesterday was Labor Day Weekend, and then I blinked, and here we are in, what, mid-September?? This whole summer has felt that way, but I’ve certainly been enjoying it when and where I can. To be honest, there have been many more full work days than I was expecting in my seaside summer—I’m working at a restaurant, teaching yoga, cleaning and manning the desk at a Pilates studio, and continuing my online writing job—but the steady flow of hours has been a solid way to fill my bank account with funds for upcoming adventures in Australia.

Pyour Core LBI

In between the working hours, I’ve managed to spend a few fun family weekends with cousins down here at the shore and my dad and sister back at home. When my cousins were down for their annual family vacation, we had a girls’ day and got our nails done, shopped a little, and grabbed a drink at the new beer garden on the water. We went out to Nardi’s bar for my first time— Nardi’s has a reputation for its pink party buses and for being a wild time—and I would say it lived up to its reputation!

Cousins

At home, we celebrated my dad’s birthday and took a day trip to the Dutchess County Fair, which was always one of my favorite summer events growing up. It’s been so good to have this time a little closer to home after being in Texas and California for the past six years!

Too Old to Die Young

In any free moment, I’ve been hitting the beach, watching incredible sunsets, and enjoying this magical setting. Even when the weather gets dreary, there’s something beautiful about watching a storm roll in over the ocean. I love seeing the changing weather in different parts of the island!

LBI storm
LBI marina

I caught the last of the outdoor summer concert series that they’d been holding at Bayview Park, right outside the restaurant where I work.

Bayview Park concert

And then it was time to wind down… Everything in LBI slows way down after Labor Day, much like in any beach town. I’m grateful that my jobs are keeping me busy and paid in the off-season. Even so, once the summer season came to a close, it finally feels like we can breathe again. Weekday beach yoga came to a close with a fun private session that I taught to our friend Mary and her family members. I have a new September schedule at Yoga Bohemia.

  • Monday 9:30-10:45am Refine & Flow

  • Saturday 10:30-11:45 Yin Flow

Most mornings were nicer than this one, I promise!

Most mornings were nicer than this one, I promise!

I’m feeling busy but happy. I can’t believe I’m only one month away from my departure. I’m hoping for a couple full days off so I can get some more east coast adventures in! Hope you’re filling your summer with the stuff that makes you sing.

Dog Days

Just over a week ago, I ran a race! I used to run a lot. I’ve run a few half marathons and even a full marathon in Disney World back in 2012. Whoa! Even thinking about running that far now hurts my legs. I’ve been keeping to shorter distances lately; 2-3 mile jogs just to be outside and stay in shape. But for some reason, this summer, I started wanting to run longer distances again. It might be the atmosphere of LBI. People are outside at all hours of the day walking, running, and biking. The island is completely flat, and it makes you feel like you might enjoy exercising, too! I thought about doing the full 18-mile race that runs the whole span of Long Beach Island, but unfortunately it takes place right after I leave for Australia. Instead, I saw posters for the Dog Day Race, a much gentler 5-mile fun run that happens in the dead center of the steamy month of August.

LBI Dog Day Run

I guess most people probably don’t need to train all that much to run five miles, but I felt like I did. And while I was looking for a manageable training schedule, I came across a plan for training called the Galloway Method. I really loved long distance running, because of what it does for my mental state and because it’s my favorite way to see a city, but somewhere around the 10-12 mile training run, I would always get hurt. When race day finally arrive, my knee or hip would be struggling, and I never fully felt my best.

For the Dog Day run, I decided to try out Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method. Since I run about 9 minute miles in short distances, the method suggests that I run for four minutes and then walk for one minute—the amount you run in between depends on your mile time. I was hesitant to try it. I always beat myself up if I have to stop and walk, or I feel like I can’t count it as a full run. Jeff disagrees. He says that walking for a minute won’t set your time back much at all; in fact, most people are able to improve their times using a run-walk approach. The method also claims to prevent injuries. That was what convinced me to try it. I have to be on my feet a lot for my jobs down here, and I want to keep running, so I didn’t want to get hurt.

The day of the race was insanely hot! I wondered why they decided to start at 9:30am instead of earlier. I wondered why there weren’t more people passing out from heat exhaustion around me. I set up my new Bluetooth headphones that my friend gifted to me and set off on my run-walk. I was feeling pretty good considering the heat. I felt kind of silly stopping after four minutes for my first walk break, but the recipe says to start it from the very beginning, before you get tired. I could tell it was working. While I was walking, other runners would pass me, and then I would catch up to them or pass them on the next time segment. Of course, I’m never expecting to win any races, but I’m still competitive and like to do well compared to my past times.

When we came to the final mile, I was exhausted and happy to have friendly neighbors who set up sprinklers and hoses in their yards to cool us down. [Note to self to serve as a race volunteer someday!] I think if I hadn’t been doing a run-walk method, I would’ve ran over ten minute miles or decided to stop and walk altogether. I was hotter than ever, but I saw the lights from the firehouse finish line and gave it the final push. I was stoked to see that the timer was under 50 minutes.

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I declined any of the post-race hot dogs, but treated myself to some watermelon and loads of H2O. As I walked back to my bike to ride home, I was reminded of one of my favorite Tim Ferriss Show podcast episodes when Derek Sivers talks about how he would always take the same bike ride to work every day and would really push himself, ignore his surroundings, and gas it as fast as possible. Then one day, he decides to slow down, take in the scenery, and enjoy the ride. He winds up making it to work in the exact same amount of time, with a much more leisurely spirit.

I’ll be thinking about that on my future runs and whenever I try to rush from one point in life to the next. Wishing you the most enjoyment in your journey, too.

Summer Water

Spending summer on the east coast means I get to take advantage of being much closer to friends and family than I have in the past five years. It means multiple trips to NYC to visit my sister—she lives in Queens! And last week, my cousins were in LBI to add to the fun. Life has been feeling pretty abundant for the past few weeks. There really is something to having a close, familiar community around you, without having everything be so new all the time. I’ll keep that in mind when I’m cuddling koalas and feeling homesick in Sydney this fall (spring?).

Queens NY

During our first visit, we ate ice cream and watched the live-action Lion King. And I was like, “I drove all the way to NYC just to watch The Lion King?” But, you know, sister time is valuable. The second visit was a little more extra special. We went to yoga in Astoria:

Yoga Agora Astoria

And then, to the Rose Mansion.

Rose Mansion

What in the world is the Rose Mansion? You might be wondering. Well, it’s like a wine tasting mixed with one of those new pop-up Instagrammable art museums. I feared it would be silly and tacky with long lines to take photos, and it had a little of that, but actually it was semi-educational and very fun!

Rose Mansion

Each room had a different part-of-the-world theme and a presenter to teach us about pink wines from that region. We took a lot of photos, learned a little about rose, drank a little more of the rose, and played dress up. Are there better ways to spend a sisters’ day in NYC? I think not, but feel free to send ‘em to me!

Rose Mansion

We had postponed our brunch til later in the afternoon, but we got to stop at one of Elayne’s favorites which happens to be Aussie themed (Citizens). We walked along the water until it was time for her to catch a ride out of Manhattan and for me to meet my friend for teeny tiny tacos and happy hour (Taco Dumbo).

My friend Mike—he lives in Sydney—was playing a show on the Lower East Side, and I remembered that Liz lives only minutes from there. So we all met up for the show, but a night in NYC does not end there… It ends, appropriately, at the House of Yes at 4 in the morning. Or maybe at a bodega deli with the best Italian sub. And it leaves you with a pounding head for the drive home the next day.

Beach Days

Wow! Hi! It’s been over a month since we (I) have been at the beach in LBI, NJ. Can you believe it? We (I) can’t! What have we been doing while here, maybe you are wondering? Well, we have been…

  • Watching some incredible sunsets over the bay

LBI sunset
  • Working… a lot! At a yoga studio (first and foremost), and a Pilates studio, on the internet, and at a restaurant. We are really filling up the days.

Yoga Bohemia LBI
  • Actually going to the beach. To watch some surf competitions, no less. But not actually surfing yet, which is something that needs to be rectified in the coming weeks now that I’ve been sufficiently inspired.

Jetty Coquina Jam 2019
  • Making art, sporadically, as usual. I usually like the things I paint, and then I celebrate by not painting anything for the next six months or so. Consistency is key.

Firefly Gallery LBI
  • Enjoying the outdoors. I played beach volleyball for the first time since the year before leaving Austin, so it’s probably been about 2-3 years since then. It shows! I also ran a five mile race last weekend! (I’ll tell you more about it soon.) Here’s the view I get to see at the end of every run:

LBI bay view

We’ve got a month left of summer here in the states! Soak it in, soak it in.

Best Friends at the Beach

My first week at the beach was a big one. There was hardly time to rest and recharge. My friend Annie and her husband were in town, and I was eager to meet their new baby. She’s a good one! She doesn’t even mind being wrapped up and taken to breakfast for pancakes.

baby

I started teaching beach yoga for an amazing studio that I’m honored to work for. And I got a waitressing job down the street—I’m still in training! My friends Brittany and Tom were also down at the same beach with their new baby—I forgot to take any pics of him, sadly!— so there was a lot of meeting and greeting to do.

And then there was the visit I had arranged my summer plans around. My friend Brianne was home from Argentina! I always try to get over to the east coast when she’s in town (just like last winter) , and this time she made it down to the beach to spend a couple of days with us. We sunned our buns and tried out the new local beer garden. She came to beach yoga, too!

Yoga Bohemia beach yoga

That wasn’t all! Over the next weekend, I attended my first baby shower, because my friend Amanda from back home in New York is pregnant. My mom drove us all the way up and back in one day. We colored and played games, and it was more fun than I expected baby showers to be. I also got to pop into my dad’s house to say a quick hello. It’s nice to be within a few hours of home!

baby shower

The Last Day!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… Sike! After eleven days of driving almost all day every day, it was pretty much only the best of times. Once I’d left Richmond, I was feeling pumped about being out of the car for good later that evening. But first, I had to make a quick stop through what was once my home for six years: The University of Delaware, which is, regrettably, no longer the number one party school in the nation, but hey, don’t look at me. I went there for the pretty brick buildings and study abroad program.

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I met my friend Jesse for what was supposed to be a bagel lunch, but I’d forgotten that college towns are different when the students leave, and our plans were foiled by the dreaded sign on the door revealing summer hours. Not a huge problem, BrewHaha is and always has been here for us. It was nice to catch up with Jesse, another regular friend turned yogi friend!

Then, no more stopping, there were two-ish hours to go and it was time to finish this whole thing. My sister and her boyfriend were down at the beach for the weekend, so we all met up for an early dinner at one of our favorite LBI restaurants (Parker’s Garage). Back at the house, everyone helped me unpack my stuff and leave it in the living room like this for days:

Unpacking

Because why even bother having kids if you don’t want them to keep messing up your house and living arrangements for years upon years? There were better beach things to do that night! Like play mini-golf and eat soft ice cream (twist on a cone with rainbow sprinkles, duh). I had arrived!

LBI sunset

Rolling through Richmond

Wow, Richmond! I’m in love. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t know about everything that was happening in this sweet city. My friend Nicole moved over here to be on the east coast, closer to home, and I’m so fortunate to have had the chance to visit her in her new place. We’ve both been on a bumpy road the past few years, with lots of moves since we met in 2013, but she seems to have found a keeper! She was hosting three dogs for the week, so that made for a wild time in the apartment, but I happen to love snuggling up to furry friends.

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It turns out, Richmond is doing the most for millennials: happy hours on the lawn of the fine arts museum, lots of breweries, cideries, and meaderies, and trendy rooftop bars. All the things we like. Plus possibly too many Confederate memorial statues, which seemed to starkly contrast all of the newness, but… history, I guess.

Stonewall Jackson statue Richmond

Going to museums at night always feels forbidden to me, even though it’s clearly allowed. The VMFA was the perfect one to slip around after splitting almost a whole bottle of champagne. (Ok, not almost. Oops!)

Kehinde Wiley VMFA

We walked all over this very walkable city and settled on a Greek restaurant for dinner. I’m always wanting mediterranean food in the summer months. Then it was off to walk dogs and enjoy a rooftop bar, where we may have gotten hit on by a nineteen-year-old. Who can tell how old anyone is these days? Get those ID scanners out, Richmond!

Nick Cave VMFA

I was sad to leave in the morning—what an awesome visit with an awesome friend— but it would finally be my last day of driving, and after almost 2 weeks, that was quite a luxury!

Southern Swims

Greenville, NC might not be a popular destination on your southeastern road trip lists, but it was on mine, because that’s where my Uncle Rick lives! You might remember Uncle Rick from this trip last summer or from our romps around Europe in 2016. Or you might already know him, since I think the majority of people who read this blog are my family members.

Uncle Rick is my dad’s brother who lived with us from about my early middle school through mid high school years to provide fun field trips and ride services when our parents abandoned us, just kidding, when they went to work. Now he’s a teacher and a wandering traveler, too (probably where I get it from!), so we try to meet up wherever we can.

This summer, it was at his home in Greenville, where we went out to dinner and swimming in his local pool. There’s really no other way to solve a sticky North Carolinian summer day!

Greenville North Carolina swimming pool

We followed our usual tradition of eating Indian lunch buffet and watched a Netflix movie that I thought was going to be very bad but actually was not so bad.

Kasturi Indian Greenville NC

Much like the other stops, it was a brief but enjoyable visit, and I’m glad I made the short detour, especially since Uncle Rick is our best family historian, so I got to sift through old pictures like the one below of my sister and me. I wish I still had that outfit as much as I wish Elayne would ever trust me to guide her dance moves!

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Dining in Durham

Ok you guys, I don’t know what to tell you, because I ate more donuts in North Carolina. My sister spent a couple weeks there last year and said I had to go try Hole Doughnuts. Then I went to the lunch with Lainie and Warren, and they reiterated that I really should get some for the road. Unbelievably, I was feeling tired of donuts by that point, so I could ignore one recommendation, but I certainly could not ignore two recommendations.

Hole Doughnuts Asheville

This time it was a full-on snack experience, because they cut the dough circles and dunk them in the frying oil right in front of you. Then they dust them with powdered sugar, toasted almonds and sesames, or cinnamon and sugar. Wow! Also the bakers are very friendly and serve excellent coffee, too— added bonus!

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As I told you, I wasn’t hungry for more donuts at this point, so I was able to ride the 3.5 hours in the car with them from Asheville to Durham. I would bring them to my friend Matt and his lady friend for her birthday. This ended up being a semi-mistake, because I think they would have been a lot better fresh out of the fryer. They were still pretty tasty at night, but they did taste like donuts that had been obtained in the morning, ridden in the car with all day, and delivered in the evening. Ya know?

Hole donuts Asheville

Did you know that the Raleigh-Durham area has become pretty cool and hip? I didn’t officially know, but every time I visit, things are looking better and better. My friend Matt recently purchased a house there with a sweet front porch swing and a big backyard. I know, what? People my age are buying houses and here I am carrying all my belongings in my car? Anyway…

Matt took me to dim sum (my favorite!) at the best restaurant in Raleigh, Brewery Bhavana. I love dim sum because you can share many little things and therefore incur less risk on ordering stuff you don’t recognize or know how to pronounce. Just like my old favorite restaurant in Philly, Kingdom of the Vegetarians, that is now closed. Tears. Ironically, I do not feel this same affection for trendy fake tapas restaurants where hummus is, like, $18.

Brewery Bhavana is perhaps actually not the best restaurant in Raleigh; it’s in the top 5 or so, but it is the #1 best in my book because look at these bookshelves:

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Look at this most aesthetically-pleasing bar I’ve ever seen in my life:

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And even look at this women’s bathroom wallpaper:

Brewery Bhavana

We also went to this equally hip bar/music venue and, the next day, did unwelcome but necessary work projects at a little coffee shop with a very cute name (Cocoa Cinnamon).

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Thanks Matt!

Napping in Nashville

I stayed the night in Nashville with my friend Nate, whom I had forgotten is the ultimate host. I’m sure most Tennesseans are that way, from what I’ve seen so far in this life. Sadly, during this visit, we were like ships passing in the night, because Nate had to work late and I had to leave early in the morning. However, sleep seemed less important than catching up on life events, hopes, and even yoga teacher training dreams. It was good to find a friend in the middle of the long road.

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It goes without saying that the next morning I had to make a stop at Five Daughters Bakery. Of all the donuts, this one, pictured above, is the donut. It’s really something—this 100-layer, croissant donut, maple glazed, buttercream-filled concoction. I don’t even understand how it can exist, and I’m glad I don’t live in Nashville so it can only be a special-occasion-type-of-thing.

It was only about four hours from Nashville to Asheville. What a treat after those ten hour days! And an equally delightful treat to have lunch with my friends Lainie and Warren. Would I ever tire of stuffing my belly full of donuts and bbq?!

Asheville NC

Lainie just started a master’s program, and she had a test the next day, so it could only be a quick lunch and coffee break. Luckily, my mom’s friends slash my godmother agreed to host me for the night. They took me out to dinner, for which I was very grateful, although I was still pretty full of barbecue at that point.

What luck to have so many amazing places to visit across this route and friends to share the adventure with! More to come (and many more food posts) as I slowed down the driving across North Carolina…

Texarkana-Tennessee

I made the sad decision to leave Austin a night early so that I could break up the drive between Austin and Nashville. I booked a hotel in Dallas and only spent about eight hours there, but you can bet that I went back to the breakfast buffet for thirds to make sure I got my money’s worth. At that point, I was getting antsy about spending so much time in the car, but I still enjoyed watching the landscapes change from dry plains to lush greens, and stopping in silly places like Texarkana.

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My original plan was to stay and camp for a night in Hot Springs National Park, but I’m glad I cut that out of the agenda. Perhaps because it seemed like one of the least natural parks I’ve come across, or perhaps it was because I was listening to the national park abductions episode of Wine & Crime and one of their warnings was to never visit a national park alone. Moving right along…

The food tour continued at Central BBQ in Memphis, and the barbecue honestly was to die for, so if I happened to be abducted or murdered in a national park, I would be content that this was my last meal.

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A Weekend in Austin!

The drive from New Mexico to Texas wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the previous day’s, but it did allow me to stop by my old stomping grounds of Torchy’s Tacos in Lubbock to help break up the drive. I had a Trailer Park taco, which is fried chicken with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese, and you can bet I ordered it trashy, which means add queso, yes, please and thank you. Oh yeah, I also stopped at Chick Fil A because I couldn’t decide, and that was the way I was living my road trip life.

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Anyway, it was five boring hours to Lubbock and five boring hours after that, but I finally landed in my previous home: Austin, TX! We popped open some drinks right away and went out to Rain dance club, which was shockingly one of the first bars I ever visited in Austin during my first trip there back in 2011! Life hath come full circle.

Obviously, there were many more tacos to eat. As much as I love that trashy trailer park taco, I do think Torchy’s is a little overrated (*gasp*), and I prefer Tacodeli (my number one fave) and Tacos Veracruz (they now have a brick and mortar up north, hallelujah!) Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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I took a class at BFree Yoga with my teacher Shelby because she’s the best. Then we spent a magical day at the pool and donned wigs in the night. It was a perfect weekend full of friends and fun!

Hyde Park Bar and Grill

Independence Day

I spent most of July 4th on the open road. The changing landscapes from California to New Mexico kept me entertained and made the drive pass quickly.

Arizona Dinosaurs

I ate my extra salad for lunch in Petrified Forest National Park, thanks to my second year of having a National Park annual pass! Seriously worth it.

Petrified Forest National Park

Around happy hour time, I arrived in Albuquerque and met up with my friend and his girlfriend at Marble Brewery. If you’ve never been, Albuquerque has a lot of great breweries surrounded by beautiful pink mountains and a balloon festival that I someday hope to attend.

It’s also extremely hot. It wasn’t too awful for visiting, but I have no idea how anyone would do outdoor exercise or go for a jog there in the summer. My friend Laura and I cooled off with some outrageous hot dogs and gigantic margarita buckets. The next day, I filmed a video to capture my hangover for posterity.

Albuquerque Isotopes

The game was awesome, even though we missed most of the action by showing up after the the first inning when ALB scored 7 runs. Oh well, the stadium itself was impressive, game or no game. On one side, you could watch this incredible sunset; the other side held views of the Sandia mountains.

Albuquerque Isotopes

After an all-American fireworks display, we romped around the city for a bit before calling it a night. We came home to find Baby Zia waiting for us with her own hotdog:

Hot dog

Phoenix

I arrived to my AirBnb in Phoenix around 6pm. I’d been wanting to stay at this place since my first Southwestern road trip way back in the day. It’s a vintage trailer in the back of an artsy coffee shop/collective called The Hive. It looked super cool from the photos, and the trailer did look awesome in person, too. I made a little video tour here.

Vintage trailer Phoenix
Vintage trailer Phoenix

Unfortunately, the surrounding street seemed a little bit sketchy, and the owner was very clear about keeping the doors locked at all times. I made sure to pop out quickly for dinner and be back before sunset. My body was craving some nutrients besides peanut butter and graham crackers, so I ordered a salad from Flower Child. Someone messed up and accidentally made two of my custom salads, and they brought me the second one FO’ FREE! Thanks Flower Child!

Flower Child salad

The trailer had a mini-fridge outside so I could store the second one for the next day. And I did made it back in time for a beautiful sunset.

Phoenix sunset
Phoenix sunset

Sleep didn’t come easily (more on that here), but I reminded myself that the owners had gone to some lengths to make sure it was safe, and the space around the trailer was very green and serene.

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Since I was up early the next morning, I jumped at the chance to pack up my bags and take a yoga class. I was grateful to Urban Yoga for being open on the Fourth of July and having showers for yogis on the go. I found one of the only open coffee shops and then hit the road.

Urban Yoga Phoenix

Cross Country

On the first night at our B&B in Yosemite, I grabbed a book off the bookshelf called, The Prophet. It’s a book of life wisdom about a man, or a prophet, who has lived abroad for years and is about to make his journey back home. It felt wholly appropriate to be reading it in that time and place, as I was about to do the same.

Salton Sea

As you know, I drove a lot during the California sister’s trip (ahem, no thanks to my partner-in-travel), and after that I decided to just keep on driving. After Elayne left, I joined my housemates for our last round of Highland Park food truck nights and sold my bed at exactly 8pm. The next day, it was time to drive my fully packed car to Phoenix.

The drive itself would take about 5.5 hours, but I’d been thinking of stopping at an art installation in the desert called Salvation Mountain. I was undecided about going, because it would add almost two hours and take me on a more remote path. However, a friend of mine had done it before on her solo road trip and she agreed that it would be worthwhile. I changed my course and headed southeast of the interstate.

Bombay Beach

The first scenic viewpoints I passed were of the Salton Sea (pictured above), which is this kind-of-creepy and very isolated body of water that seems very out of place in the desert. I stopped in the nearby town of Bombay Beach—population 295 and apparently the lowest community in the United States. “Community” might be a bit of a stretch because the town seemed to be made up of abandoned trailers spray-painted with anarchist messaging and signs saying “Hipsters go home”. It definitely had a spooky scary movie energy, but the kind you can’t help but keep watching.

Bombay Beach

I wound a little further past that town and mapped my way to Salvation Mountain. Its bright colors were easy to spot from the rest of the flat, sandy scenery. The air was steaming hot, but I was too impressed by this artist's and community’s dedication to mind.

Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain

After about half an hour of sweating in Dr. Seuss-land, I got back on path and continued the journey. Pretty soon, i found myself in the midst of some surprise sand dunes that extreme Star Wars fans probably know more about than me. Nonetheless, I was very excited to park the car again and stop at an overlook.

Imperial Dunes

Later, I had to stop at a border checkpoint and nervously explain my intentions. It went fine, and the terrain kept changing and keeping things interesting. I was well on my way to Phoenix… (to be continued).

Salvation Mountain

Sisters in California: The rest!

I’m sorry to tell you, but most of the glorious highlights of our trip stopped after Yosemite. It was a boring drive back on the 5, however we adjusted the plan and went west to Santa Monica so we could at least enjoy a bit of beach time and our last donuts (some of my all-time favorites). After that, it was hard to keep my mind off the cross-country move that would be taking place TWO DAYS LATER. I forced Elayne to come with me to get my oil changed, which she did not really enjoy, but we did try a yummy coffee shop in Atwater Village. But then we walked over a mile in sweaty summer LA sunshine, so win some, lose some, ya know?

We tried to go bowling, and unfortunately there was a two hour wait, so we could only eat tacos. (Note to self: reserve your spot for the bowling before getting the tacos.) Then that was that. I brought Elayne to the airport and packed my car up to leave the very next day.

What a trip, though! I’m glad we could pack so many awesome activities (and donuts) into our week together. Until next time… maybe in another five years?

Sentinel Dome trail