Currently Loving:

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This weekend I did some solo traveling for the first time in a long time. I took a mini road trip to Taos, New Mexico. It was so invigorating and refreshing. This picture was taken on the Taos Pueblo where the Tewa live. I spoke with a woman who is fluent in Tewa. She shared some of her grandparents’ stories of the American boarding schools they were forced to attend.

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I visited the earth ship community about ten miles outside of Taos. This is taken from the visitor center there.

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This is the Rio Grande Gorge. It’s the closest thing to the Grand Canyon that I’ve seen. It’s breathtaking. Literally. Walking across the bridge to get this picture triggered my acrophobia. Because I rarely put myself in situations that require me to face my fear, I sometimes forget that I have it. Until I do something like walk across this bridge that was, in reality, completely safe. But when I looked down at my feet, I could see the rocks at the bottom. Yikes. I didn’t stay very long 🙂

Happy weekend,

Maegan

Photo Friday

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I took this on my first long solo road trip. This is one of my top ten travel memories. I had just left the beach on Tybee Island. There was sand and salt in my hair and on my body. I had the windows down and I was listening to Swing Tree by Discovery. The salty sea breeze gently blew my hair around my face. And I felt totally and completely free. As the sun set in the background, I could see the moonrise in front of me. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The variation of colors in the sky was dazzling. What a great memory.

Thanks for letting me share with you. Happy Friday!

Maegan

Where the Locals Go: Colorado Springs Breakfast Edition

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Colorado Springs gets a good amount of tourist traffic, especially in the summer. The Colorado Springs area is home to several tourist draws like Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs downtown, The Incline, and Pikes Peak. I recommend visiting all of those places if you’re in town, but I suggest that for food, drinks, and desserts that you stay away from the tourist areas. They often have lower quality food for higher prices. Here’s a list of some of my favorite places in town where you can always find a friendly local to chat with.

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Mountain Shadows- Mountain Shadows is a little restaurant in a charming house of Colorado Ave. in Old Colorado City. I go there so often, the waiters and waitresses know my name. They have a mean Country Omelet  with hashbrowns in the omelet, served with a delicious country gravy. You can also get their delicious green chili served on just about any breakfast menu. They even have a pancake option for a side instead of bread that comes with every meal. Maybe this is just exciting to me, but A PANCAKE COMES WITH EVERY MEAL! And the pancakes are award winning. I’ve never seen a better deal. They are reasonably priced, dog friendly, and have a nice sized patio with umbrellas for shade. I love sipping on their regular mimosa or their Manmosa on the patio in the late Spring, summer, and autumn. Perfect breakfast/brunch spot. They open early in the morning and close at 3 PM, so make sure to get in your brunch fix before the late afternoon hours.

Bon Ton’s- Located in Old Colorado City as well, Bon Ton’s is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. Get there early to enjoy their Early Bird Special menu which features smaller portions of food for less money. Their regular breakfast menu options range from old fashioned breakfasts to southwestern plates smothered in mild, medium, or hot green or red chili. They also have gluten free options and a lunch menu, though I would highly recommend their breakfast food. Everything I’ve had there is tantalizing. They close at 3 PM as well.Their patio is one of the best in the Springs, so I’d suggest sitting outside if you can. There’s usually a wait, but it’s worth it!

Montague’s Parlour- If you’re like me and enjoy a kitschy, grandma’s living room feel for your dining atmosphere, then Montague’s is for you. They only serve breakfast on the weekdays until 10:30 AM, but they have a coffee and tea selection that rivals even the best of chain coffee stores. The breakfast options are lighter than the last two restaurants and they offer gluten free options as well. The stuffed french toast is amazingly light and fluffy. They boast a variety of quiche as well, which you can order all day long. But when they’re out of something, they’re out. Try again later. They sell cute antique dishes and coffee cups. Also, there’s no parking in the front, but there is a small lot in the back. Take the alley on the left side of the building to the little parking lot.

Stay tuned for Where the Locals Go: Colorado Springs Lunch Edition.

Happy traveling and eating,

Maegan

Salida, Colorado

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After a long stretch of little to no solo travel, I decided that I would make the three-hour trip to Salida Colorado to explore. It’s a beautiful little mountain town with lots of shops with local artists’ work, a gin distillery that makes a mean cocktail, and beautiful views.

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It rained for most of my drive in, but it was still breathtaking. The road to Salida from Colorado Springs is rocky with enjoyable curves, juxtaposed next to a vivacious river. When I arrived, I spotted a double rainbow. I have seen more rainbows since I moved to Colorado than I ever have in my life. Calling all LGBTIQA+ people!

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After visiting Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, a swanky little distillery and bar that serves their freshly distilled gin and organic ingredients, I took a sunset stroll around town. The little downtown area is filled with cool coffee shops, quaint bookstores, and old antique shops that seem to have a mysterious layer of dust, which adds to the magic of antique hunting. The river that you can spot almost the entire journey to Salida culminates in a wide, picturesque river perfect for rafting.

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Salida is a charming town full of life and loveliness. It’s a wonderful spot for a short, slow-paced weekend trip. Slow-paced solo travel is by far my favorite kind of travel. I would HIGHLY recommend checking out this little town if you’re in the area.

Happy Travels,

Maegan

 

Currently Loving:

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Off trail hikes- This weekend we went on a hike with one of our friends and her dog at Red Rocks. We went off the normal routes and did some unintentional trail blazing. There was a scary moment when I thought I was going to roll down a huge boulder, but I ended up just sliding down. It would have been graceful if I wasn’t screaming with a look of terror on my face. I’m fun to hike with, you guys.

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Mini gummy bears- I discovered mini gummy bears this weekend. They’re about a fourth of the size of regular gummy bears. It was the perfect size for getting a good taste, but not overdoing it with the sugar. And they’re just so cute!

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Donut Sunday- Speaking of cute, this is Knox. He loves donuts, (he has fresh donut face in about 85% of the pictures I have of him. We give his parents a break and take him and his brother to Donut Sunday every weekend.) his brother, and swimming in our local lake. He is unusually emotionally intelligent for a two year old. Don’t let that fool you though. His favorite subject to talk and laugh about is poop.

It was a great weekend! 🙂

Dreaming of Friday as always,

Maegan

Holocaust Memorial Museum

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When we went to Washington D.C., I couldn’t pass up a visit to the Holocaust Museum. I’ve wanted to see the museum since I wrote a paper on Dr. Mengele in the sixth grade. Several of my friends have visited the one in Amsterdam and the one in D.C., and they warned me that I need to mentally and emotionally prepare for the depth of sadness of the museum. I thought I was ready, but when I left the museum, I had to sit on a park bench for quite a while with a hot dog and chips to process what I saw, thought, and felt.

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On the first floor of the museum, guests choose a booklet that follows the story of a person who endured the holocaust. This was the one I chose. Karee chose this one:

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When I go to museums, I like to read everything. By everything, I mean EVERYTHING. And digest, and process, and speculate, and wonder. I remember being in complete awe of the wealth of information that I did not know about the Holocaust. It’s different when you read an article, a textbook, or watch a movie about the Holocaust. Being immersed in the maze of macabre and sadness made it sink it like it hadn’t before. It wasn’t quite real for me until I spent three hours in the museum. And I could have stayed for three more.

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One thing that particularly resonated with me was the Nazi’s strategy for rising to power. First, they lead a propaganda war against the Jewish people of Europe. I stared at this sign for several minutes before I tore myself away. There was a depiction of a propaganda poster that had Jewish people smiling who were missing teeth and whose faces were slightly deformed. The poster reads, “Even when Jews smile, they’re evil”. As a result of this propaganda assault on Jews, Germany passed numerous laws that cultivated and bred legalized hate.

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The paragraph on “Homosexuals” (which by the way, don’t use that term. It’s a throw back to when being LGBTIQA+ was classified as a mental illness in the DSM. They took it out of the DSM in the 1970s) literally made my stomach turn. There were several pictures of gay men who died in the Holocaust. I didn’t know that there was a whole bureaucracy to hunt down gay men. They didn’t even have to be Jewish.

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These are some portraits taken from the homes of the victims.

IMG_4877IMG_4880Throughout the museum experience, you’re directed to read certain pages of your Holocaust victim’s booklet. The girl that I had survived, but the guy Karee had did not.

I can’t help thinking about how Hitler and the Nazis created a culture and political climate for hate and how that relates to the American elections that are happening this year. No matter your politics, consider this when voting: do we want a president who has repeatedly said that he wants to create laws that marginalize certain ethnicities, races, and heritage based on fear and hate? I certainly do not.

Kindly,

Maegan

 

Do or Don’t: Travel Thrifting

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This one is DEFINITELY a do for me. I usually only bring a few outfits and shoes on my trips so that I can stuff my suitcase full of one-of-a-kind treasures. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is perusing unique thrift or antique stores. My family and friends know that I refuse to spend precious trip time in a gaudy souvenir store (Sorry, Mom! Don’t expect any postcards or refrigerator magnets). To find uncommon souvenirs that won’t be sequestered to junk drawers, I seek out any and all thrift shops, antique stores, and bazaars.

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I found this little guy on a shelf the back room of an antique store in Pikes Place Market in Seattle. It’s a grumpy bowl! If the price matched my budget, I would have snatched this guy up in a heartbeat. He would have looked spectacular with a tiny little succulent in him, situated on my bookshelf. I often look back at this picture and regret that I didn’t buy him. I haven’t seen anything like it before or since. Ahh, the sting of regret.

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This was at a flea market in southern Illinois. I couldn’t justify purchasing a cat wedding cake topper or a sole rabbit salt shaker, but don’t think I didn’t contemplate it for a bit before walking away. I’m certain that if I had scooped up these figurines, I would have most certainly had buyers’ remorse. No one I know would have appreciated any of these. They would have ended up being donated, for sure. Good call, self! *Self high-five*

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I found these vintage hats in an upscale thrift store in Roswell, New Mexico. The hats even came with their original hat boxes! Again, they were out of my price range. I ended up buying a turquoise bowl with a fun little pattern that’s currently holding garlic on my kitchen counter. A decent priced, useful souvenir always wins in my book.

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These came from a funky art/antique shop in downtown Oklahoma City. This was before I started my vintage glassware collection of all colors. When I get enough colors, I’m going to arrange them in a rainbow. Rainbows make me so happy! I spy a few cups and glasses that could have diversified my current collection for sure. Next time, Oklahoma City!

Warmly,

Maegan

Day Trip to Milwaukee

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While solo traveling in Chicago, I rented a car and headed to Milwaukee. It was mostly on a whim which is fun, but doesn’t allow for a lot of planning. I thought I could casually stroll through the streets in November and find an adventure. What I found was the cold. And the wind. I specifically remember walking towards the Milwaukee Public Market with tears in my eyes from the bitter cold thinking, “No one else is out walking because they have the sense to stay indoors!” I quickly ducked into the public market for  a reprieve from the bone chilling cold.

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Once inside, I found several people dining on the various fares while on their lunch breaks. I also found cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

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I warmed up with a bowl of clam chowder and drank a local beer, which is where I got the idea to track down a local brewery. After talking with some natives about how they love winter, I drove to Lake Front Brewery.

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I bought a ticket for the next brewery tour when I arrived. Luckily, they take walk ups on weekdays from noon to 8 PM. Tour tickets are $9 on weekdays and $10 on weekends. You have to buy your tickets online for Saturdays. With your tour ticket, you get a few tokens to try their different beers before and after your scheduled tour. Because I had to wait a bit for my tour time, people gave me their unused tokens which allowed me to sample all of their beer. My favorite was their organic Belgian white. I’d highly recommend going if you haven’t tried it. Don’t forget to get there early on Friday and Saturday nights because they get very busy.

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I got so many tokens from people ending their tours that I had to hang out in the gift shop for quite a while so I could sober up. I had a long conversation with the person working the gift shop counter. She told me that she loves snow shoeing, and the cold, and she can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

With all the craft beer, locally made cheeses, and friendly natives, I suppose I could stand the cold for a while too.

-Maegan

Rookie Mistakes: Vancouver Edition

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During one of my first solo trips, I bought a train ticket from Seattle to Vancouver. I pictured myself gliding up through the Cascades in a train car, sipping hot cider. I could envision walking around the streets of Vancouver, bundled up in several layers, searching for the most appealing restaurant among a cadre of cultural dining options. I planned to meet a friend at his favorite local bar. And then I planned to take a long, hot shower in my hotel room. The next morning, I would explore the shops with enough time to walk back to the train station and head back to Seattle.

This is not at all how it turned out.

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There was an avalanche in the Cascades, so I had to make the four hour trip on a smelly bus with an old man falling asleep on my shoulder. On a positive note, the view on the drive was spectacular. I basically had my face and my whole body pressed against the glass the entire journey.

The bus station turned out to be two miles from my hotel, which I decided to walk to save money. I quickly found out that I couldn’t use my phone  or GPS because I didn’t have an international plan. So I got lost. Really lost. About a mile and a half later, it started raining. Keep in mind that this was during winter.

It took me another mile and a half to finally find my hotel. By the time I got there, I was drenched, annoyed, and hungry. I quickly threw on some dry clothes and headed to the nearest restaurant I could find. It ended up being a place called “The Bodega” which was a Spanish, family style restaurant. Not the ideal place for solo dining. The waitress asked if I was single. After I sputtered out a surprised, “Yes…?” She asked if I would like to dine with the gentleman in the front of the restaurant. When I glanced over in his direction, I saw that he was a middle aged man with sparse hair. I quickly declined. She rearranged her face in what I can only assume was a sad, maternal facial expression. She looked at me with that expression the entire meal.

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After my meal, I felt a bit refreshed and ready for another adventure. I used the restaurant’s wifi to find the bus route that I needed to get from the part of town in which I was staying to the part of town with the bar to meet my friend. When I found the right bus line, I didn’t have enough change in Canadian coins to ride. The bus driver gave me a sorry look and politely asked me to get off the bus. After going to a Starbucks and buying whatever was on the menu to get change, I got back on the bus. Twenty minutes and eight stops later, I realized that I was going the complete opposite direction of where I needed to go. I immediately got off the bus and had to buy another drink at a local sandwich shop. By this time, all the shops were closing as it was well after dark. I got back on the correct bus going the correct direction just to arrive a few minutes after he left.

At that point, I was fed up with my stubbornness and my experience in Vancouver. I hailed the nearest cab, returned to the hotel, and spent the rest of the night and the next morning watching French cartoons and eating some disintegrated granola bars that I found in the bottom of my backpack.

Because of all the mishaps and misfortunes, I only had the presence of mind to take three, mostly blurry, pictures during the entire jaunt to Canada. I happily boarded the bus back to Seattle, conceding to explore Canada another time. I learned a lot of lessons on that trip. The most important one being that if I had it all to do over again, I would have just paid the money to take a damn cab.

Sincerely hoping that you avoid my rookie mistakes,

Maegan

Currently Loving:

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Long, lazy summer days- It’s been unusually hot around here for the past few weeks, so it’s hard to want to go hiking or be active outside. I’ve spent a lot of time lately just laying in the grass, looking at the clouds floating above the mountains.

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New summer blooms- Rent houses’ landscaping often ranges from sparse patches of grass to lush grass and colorful blooms. We’re currently renting a new house, and I’m finding that this house is one of those rentals with carefully preened vegetation and flowers. I love seeing what new blossoms pop up every couple of weeks.

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Late evening walks around the our neighborhood- We moved to  a house that’s located about four blocks away from this beautiful park and lake. We’ve been taking advantage of this gorgeous scenery every chance we get. It’s also a Pokemon Go hotspot, so there have been several, several people strolling around the lake in the past few weeks.

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Weekend hikes- Though it’s hard to force myself to get out during the heat of the day, every now and then my coffee fueled energy gets the best of me and my staying inside sensibilities. This was taken on a Saturday afternoon hike in 95 degree weather. We were awarded with clear views of the mountains and a bit of a sunburn.

Warmly,

Maegan