Seattle, Washington: one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. Whether it’s the strong coffee, the still fashionable plaid shirts (yes!), or the high likelihood of stumbling upon live music around any corner, there’s always something wonderful to discover. I took this photo on my first trip to Seattle in 2012. It also happened to be my first solo trip. This was my view after hiking up to Kerry Park on a brisk winter’s day. The clouds parted just long enough for me to capture Mt. Rainier peeking through behind the famous Seattle skyline at sunset.
Hi friends! I have so many recent photos to share, but this is my favorite.
Atticus and I went on a solo hike to Rampart Reservoir last weekend. It’s such a beautiful place, and I’d highly recommend it. To get to the reservoir proper, you have to pay $6. It’s totally worth it if you want a good hike around a beautiful reservoir full of wild flowers and staggering rock formations. If you just want a great photo opportunity, take a right at the fork in the road instead of a left toward the reservoir road. Follow that road for about 45 minutes, and there are two places where you can pull off the road for some of the most scenic views I’ve ever seen in Colorado. You’re welcome 🙂
I love everything about this sign, especially that it rotates. I found it walking around downtown Seattle on a cold, rainy day. There were a lot of rookie mistakes that happened later that night that I’ll share in another post. Despite that, it was a wonderful adventure.
P.S. I posted this on Instagram and A Beautiful Mess liked it! Guys, they are my blog idols. I’ve been a reader since 2011. If you haven’t read their blog, go check it out!
Hello, friends! I have an exciting announcement–no, I’m not pregnant–but I am relocating to an area just south of Seattle, Washington. My three years in Colorado Springs have been challenging, heart wrenching, beautiful, inspiring, motivating, and I could go on. So many things have happened in the last three years. I value the people I’ve met in Colorado Springs and Denver, and I’m so honored to have the privilege of being part of the community.
Now this blogger goes West again! Stay tuned for new life experiences and inspiration.
Sending out so much love and light,
P.S. I’m in Seattle presenting at the National CASA conference. I am so inspired by all the connections that I’ve made here. I also became galvanized to actually sit down and write the book that I’ve been writing in my head for years. On a particularly rainy day in Seattle, I dreamed up my first chapters over a burger and fries in a downtown bar in grill. If anyone has any knowledge about publishing, I would love to learn from you!
When I first got to Taos, I was in search of some beautiful scenery. I drove to the Taos Ski Valley to see what natural beauty I could find. I went on a mini hike and took A TON of photos. Here are a few of my favorites:
There was a torrential downpour about three hours after I got into town, so I headed off to a restaurant in the historic part of downtown Taos for some Mexican food. Unfortunately, it rained for the rest of the night, so I finished my late dinner and went back to my hotel.
When I woke up, the sun was shining and all of Taos seemed to be glowing and refreshed from the rainfall. I walked around downtown Taos for a few hours before anything was open, except the charming little coffee shops sprinkled throughout the town.
The culture in Taos seems to be heavily influenced by religion. There were several artistic nods to Jesus and Mary painted throughout the town. These renditions were my favorite. There’s just something about bright religious spray paintings complete with modern bandanas.
Stay tuned for more Taos posts! I spoke with several locals while in town, and they shared some interesting stories with me.
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.
I visited the earth ship community about ten miles outside of Taos. This is taken from the visitor center there.
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 🙂
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
This is something I’ve thought about a lot since I started traveling, solo or otherwise. I have mixed feelings about taking pictures while traveling, but my perspective has shifted somewhat since I decided to start a blog.
When I first started traveling I had a tendency to take pictures EVERYTHING. Sunsets, shops, streets were all captured by my low quality cell phone camera. I felt the need to document all of my experiences so I could share my trip narrative with visual aides. I liked the idea of the vacation slide shows of the 1960’s. I soon realized that my friends were all humoring me through the painstaking explanation of each of my trip photos. It also quickly became apparent that I was spending too much time focusing on snapping memories than actually being present in the moment. When trying to recall what it felt like to witness a sunset on the beach, I found myself having difficulty. What did it feel like to have a Chicago style hot dog in Grant Park? I couldn’t tell you. But I have a plethora of pictures that are all mysteriously slightly blurry. And I feel no connection to them.
On my next trip, I challenged myself to take less photos in order to focus on soaking up the experience. My first trip that I really exercised this was on my first solo trip to Seattle. I have vivid memories of hiking up my first “mountain” just south east of Seattle proper. And I only took five photos of that entire journey. And for someone coming from flat land, it really was a journey. On the way up I took one of my favorite pictures, though admittedly, not my best. A foggy mist permeated through the pine trees, and a cloudy sky cast a gentle ethereal glow on the trail. Fresh dew drops cascaded from green and yellow leaves of all shapes and sizes. The smell of pine and fresh rain floated through the air, just subtle enough to remind you that it was there every few breaths. Instead of stopping to take pictures every fifty steps in order to capture glimpses of my trip for other people, I paused to consciously absorb my surroundings. After I was satisfied I had experienced that moment to its fullest, I grabbed my crappy cell phone and took five seconds to take two pictures. This was the raw, unedited result:
I am confident that I will remember the details of that glorious moment, not because of the picture, but because I took the time to let the moment wholly envelop me and my senses.
Now that I’ve started my blog, I realize how important it is to take numerous pictures. But I’m finding it rather easy as long as I focus on being present first, then taking a quick photo to remind myself of how I felt.