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

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

Sisters in California: Yosemite!

Anything I have to say about Yosemite seems very minuscule when compared to the beauty of the place itself. Our hostess was a true park expert, and she gave us great advice for planning the day, not to mention preparing a delicious and above-and-beyond breakfast in the morning. The park was crowded, of course, on a Sunday in summer, but it didn’t hinder our explorations at all. We parked at the far end of the village loop, rode the shuttle back in, and started by hiking the Mist Trail.

Yosemite Mist Trail

As we were climbing up the stairs and getting drenched by the waterfall, we saw a lovely little rainbow. iPhones are all waterproof now, right?!

Yosemite Mist Trail

After our hike, we rode the shuttle back to the car and drove up to Glacier Point. The views were breathtaking! I’ve been to Yosemite twice before (once as a baby), but this time felt like a whole new experience.

Glacier Point

There was a little bit of traffic, and it takes a while to drive around the park at any time, however with these views we certainly didn’t mind. We added an extra hike in at the end by taking the Sentinel Dome trail. At the end of the day, we were glad to have taken the extra two miles, because it was much less crowded and offered similarly incredible vistas to Glacier Point.

Sisters in California: Day 4

After our few days of fun in LA, it was time to head up the coast for further adventures. Maybe I should have organized the itinerary a little better so that we didn’t do the bulk of our driving on a Friday, but of course, hindsight’s 20-20.

We left early in the morning so that we would have time to make a few stops. First, we checked out Solvang, a sweet little Danish that seems straight out of a storybook.

Solvang

And you know we had to find more donuts! Nothing to see here…

SloDoCo

After a long drive and a bit of traffic delay, we made it to Napa and our tasting reservation slot at Domaine Carneros. Elayne had organized this portion of the trip, but I’m always happy to sit by and sip sparkling wines on any Friday afternoon.

Domaine Carneros

This vineyard ended up being our favorite in Napa.

Domaine Carneros

After the tasting, we checked into our fancy hotel—a little too fancy for the amount of time we were able to spend in it, but still a nice escape from LA. We drove into the nearby town of Yountville for pizza and, obviously, more wine. When in Rome…

Sisters in California: Day 3

It’s nice to have a visitor in LA, so that you can do all sorts of touristy activities that you might not necessarily do on a normal day. Like take a Warner Bros. studio tour:

Warner Bros studio tour

And hang out around Batmobiles:

Warner bros studio tour

I think this was the day we made waffles for breakfast at home using my mini waffle maker. And went to yoga. And were there donuts, too? There probably were.

Bird scooter LA

At night, we met a few friends for dinner at Grand Central Market, a good option for visitors since it’s casual and everyone can get something different. We opted for mango beers and Thai food. Elayne rode a Bird scooter for the first time. Then it was time to get home and rest up for our big weekend adventure…

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Sisters in California: Day 2

Wednesday had to be one of the best California days I’ve had yet! We woke up early to eat breakfast at my number one neighborhood haunt, Kitchen Mouse. Then we hiked up to a secret swing in Elysian Park.

Elysian Park swing

I think we must have had donuts, too, since that seemed to be the theme of our trip.

After that, it was time to get ready for the wine safari. You heard that right. In Malibu, you can visit a farm/winery where they will drive you around in a safari bus to visit a giraffe, zebras, alpacas, etc.

Malibu Wine Safari

Of course we paid extra for a meet and greet with Stanley the Giraffe. It was the highlight of our trip.

Stanley the Giraffe

Look at that tongue! I think the animals are more of the draw than the wine at this particular wine safari, but the grounds are lovely to walk and ride around. And the sun came out exactly at the start of our tour.

Malibu Wine Safari zebras
Malibu Wine Safari

When the tour was over, we likely needed something to absorb the booze, so we decided to revisit one of the stops from our first California sister’s road trip five years ago, Neptune’s Net. It was just as good as we remembered, though we probably didn’t need to eat this entire plate of fried seafood right before dinner, but we’re on vacation, right?

Neptunes Net Malibu CA

We stopped at Point Dume on the way back to take in some gorgeous views of the coast. Then it was back into the city for dinner. I wasn’t doing it intentionally, but I realized I’d added mainly vegan restaurants to the itinerary. My sister and I aren’t vegan, but the options here are just that delicious!

Point Dume

Oh yeah, of course while we were in WeHo, we had to stop and see some more “famous walls of LA”. Here’s the one whose fame shocks me the most. But, when touristing, you gotta do what you gotta do!

LA Pink wall
Malibu Wine Safari

Sisters in California: Day 1

My sister, Elayne, landed at 10am last Tuesday, so, most appropriately, I met her at the airport with donuts and immediately brought her to take pictures in front of all the fancy, brightly-colored walls in Los Angeles. Just kidding, but not really

Venice Flake

We ate breakfast at my favorite Venice breakfast place, and I thought we would spend the day at the beach because I forgot it was still June and how LA gets very sad, cloudy, and rainy at this time of year. It was too cold and not exactly sunny vacation weather, but no matter; we strolled around to the Venice canals instead.

Venice Canals

Yup. Did you know that Venice has peaceful little canals just like Italy? They don’t have any gondolas to hire, but apparently you can bring your own paddle boat or stand-up paddle board and use it at your leisure.

Venice Canals

We walked the boardwalk after that and saw a pretty OK but also pretty drawn out street performance. It was still too chilly to enjoy the beach, so we had a snack and took a pretty nice and necessary yoga class to work off the donuts and said snack before dinner.

Dinner was at THE BEST RESTAURANT, The Butcher’s Daughter. Have you been there yet? They have one on the east coast and the west coast, so New York or California, no excuses. You have to go!

love wall Venice

Although it was a little chilly to our liking—especially since Elayne has been working in a hectic veterinary internship all year and hasn’t seen the sun or light of day in a while—we made the most of things and had ourselves a nice west side day. Nevertheless, we were still crossing our fingers for some sunshine later in the trip.

Finding Your Tribe

I was sad to leave El Salvador and all of the adventurous, chill, and fun people I met on the retreat. Lucky for me, a lot of them live in LA, so I was already able to get ice cream with my new friend, Teri, and do more Buti yoga with Pixie. However, I’m a little bummed to feel like I’m finding my tribe in this city right as I’m about to leave again… [*life update here].

Surf Sweat Serve El Salvador

It’s been so fulfilling to find other people who want to build their lives into a grand adventure and who aren’t afraid to try something new on their own. I feel complemented and supported by others who aren’t cool with the, “Grow up and settle down” message in our society and who want to grow up and live their dreams while maintaining the playfulness and curiosity of childhood.

When I got back to LA, I spontaneously made a trip down to San Diego to see my friend Sara. We spent Saturday night singing karaoke songs in her living room and Sunday at the beach testing out our surf skills. We got tumbled by some waves, but that was OK. We were doing what we’ve always wanted to do and having a great time doing it.

Tamarack Beach

On the drive home, I got a message from my friend inviting me to a PRIDE dinner party at her house. Everyone was requested to bring rainbow foods or drink to celebrate the opportunity to be oneself and the gift of love for everyone. I wasn’t planning to go home or to the grocery store; I had brunch plans with another friend. What do you know, during brunch that friend told me she had a collection of rainbow superfood powders and we could definitely put together a rainbow menu item. We spent the afternoon making colorful tie-dye waffles (she also happened to have a peace sign mini waffle maker!) and I had the perfect thing to bring to the party.

rainbow waffles

I’m going to miss all of these people so much! But if there’s anything I’ve learned from living in different places, it’s that your tribe doesn’t die when you leave. Sometimes it gets even stronger as it spreads out and new members are added. And then you end up feeling like you can land anywhere and find a sense of belonging.

Surf Sweat Serve

Coming Home

Since I’ve gotten older and started traveling on more global adventures of my own, I am always trying to see how I can prolong the transformative effects of travel by making mini changes in my life when I get back home. As you can see, I’ve already started attempting to recreate the Covana Kitchen menu from our hotel. I did a pretty good job of replicating the fruit and chia pudding that was my favorite breakfast each morning.

Chia pudding

But beyond copying the hotel breakfasts, the event that had the biggest impact for me during the trip was definitely our beach cleanup. Perhaps it was being in an a country that is so untouched and underdeveloped, but I felt that you could really see the impact that our American consumerism and wastefulness has on other places. I’ve started making lists (and following them) of how I can make my own small changes.

El Salvador beach cleanup

Some things I do to be kinder to the Earth:

  • Carry reusable bags in the car- this one’s easy for me, since I’ve now lived in two cities that don’t offer plastic bags unless you pay for them. I wish all cities could be like this.

  • Bring a reusable cup- I use this one, but you can find them everywhere. I keep one in my car and one in my backpack so I’m never without. Living in LA, I often find myself grabbing coffee on the run, which usually comes in a paper cup with a plastic lid, and don’t forget the sleeve, which is sometimes also made of non-recyclable materials.

  • Ditch the plastic water bottles- This one is so simple in 2019. There are so many choices of cute bottles to choose from—even ones that keep your drink cold all day. No more buying plastic bottles that don’t last long and create a whole bunch of waste.

New habits I plan to change to make a difference:

  • 5-minute beach cleanups- I am going to start doing this during every beach visit. When we looked around during surf lessons in El Salvador, you could see a lot of trash lining the shores. And a beach day in the US usually holds the same views. Picking up trash while we’re enjoying the ocean will help keep plastic out of the sea and instill the message in our minds that we need to make sure it doesn’t come close in the first place.

  • Ditch all plastic- So, I’m good at brining my reusable mug and bag everywhere I go, but when I order a cold drink or I need silverware for my takeout and need a container, I’m pretty quick to forget my concerns about the environment. I don’t know why it happens so easily, but convenience often trumps what we know is right. The only solution, for me, is to make it more convenient to use my own reusable products. I’ve started putting hard limits on myself— I will not order something if it comes wrapped in plastic (sorry, favorite madeleine cookies from Starbucks) and skip silverware if I haven’t brought my own.

  • No new clothes!- I’ve learned a ton about sustainable fashion this year, thanks to the owners of GFCLA, the jiu-jitsu studio I taught at in Chinatown. Erin and Dennys also run an awesome vintage clothing store, where they salvage clothing that would normally be thrown into a landfill and create cool new designs. Fast fashion is NOT good for the environment, and I’m certainly guilty of wanting more clothes for cheap (Hi, Target and H&M) than quality clothing for expensive. I did the no new clothes rule once for a year, but I cheated by letting my mom buy me things and restock my wardrobe. This year, I want to do it for real. It’s totally possible, thanks to the array of consignment stores, vintage shops, or even hosting your own clothing swap like my friend Suzie did a few weeks ago. Some of my favorite pieces have been hand me downs from old roommates or similar swaps in Austin!

Clothing swap

I’m curious, are there any other changes you’ve made to your lifestyle to be more environmentally-friendly?

Playas and Pupusas

I’m back home in LA and missing our sweet retreat apartment—complete with bunkbed slumber parties and epic patio views— so much! Our last couple days in El Salvador were when we finally had a chance to kick back and relax. We had really front loaded the trip, because some retreaters were only able to stay for three days or five days, so a few people left on Wednesday after ziplining. Our end of the week was spent hanging by the pool, ordering massages, surfing, and doing yoga some more. I was a little tired for the fourth and final surf lesson, because we had just taken one of Pixie’s Buti Yoga classes. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s this new, tribal dance style of yoga that is really popular among women, especially in the middle of the US. I LOVE it! It’s spreading its way out to the coasts, so if you’re looking to try something wild and new, see if there’s a class near you.

Puro Surf El Salvador

On our last night, we went back into the town of El Tunco to dance at the bar and eat pupusas. If you need one reason above all others to visit El Salvador, this would be it! Pupusas are these little corn tortilla pockets filled with whatever you like—beans, meet, veggies, cheese, etc.—and topped with a yummy tomato salsa and spicy cabbage slaw. Think quesadilla, but even better! They’re about 75 cents a piece in the town, so we had no trouble filling our bellies. 11/10 would recommend!

Pupusas El Tunco