Category Archives: United States

My Summer of wanderLUST: Emerald Coast, Florida

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Aaaaaaah, the Sunshine State! Embarking on yet another road trip, this time I decided to get away for some Vitamin Sea. The last time I saw blue water was February in Tulum, so I was overdue for a a beach day.  I’ve been to Miami before and honestly, I wouldn’t be pressed if I never went there again. It just wasn’t my speed (no offense Miami goers).  So we set out for the Emerald Coast. Absolutely beautiful beaches that almost rival some of the most pristine Caribbean treasures.

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Typically, the trip is supposed to be about 7 hours, but thanks to Louisiana and its ongoing traffic, a 7 hour trip turned into 9 hours.  Anyone who makes the trek on I-10 from Texas going east will tell you that Louisiana is no picnic. The itinerary consisted of a stay in Pensacola and exploring the areas around town, plus an inevitable trip to Pensacola Beach. I have to say, people really do sleep on the beauty of Pensacola Beach. The sand was soft and fluffy and the water was  one of the calmest greenish- blues.

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You definitely want to get to the beach early though. We arrived around 8 am and there were a few families. By noon, it was completely crowded. We still had a blast anyway. I was tanned for the Gawds by the end of the day! I just couldn’t get over the beauty of the beaches, and it was only a 7 hour drive away. Talk about economical! This beach getaway was under $250 for me.  I split the lodging and fuel cost with a friend. And what vacation would be complete without trying the local cuisine?

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Grouper, Hush Puppies and Cheese Grits at Captain Joey’s, Pensacola, FL

As a native Texan, fried Catfish is usually the fish of choice. But apparently, Grouper is a “thing” in Florida. Undeniably fresh, this was hands down the freshest Grouper I’ve ever had!

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Shrimp and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, Flounder’s Pensacola Beach, FL

My all time favorite dish from the entire trip was definitely at Flounder’s. This mac n’ cheese ushered me straight on to glory! Baked to perfection and oozing gooey, cheesy gloriousness! I had dreams about this stuff, seriously.

At some point, we wanted to see what else was out there, you know, check out some other beaches. So we made the drive to Destin. I can’t comment enough on how beautiful Destin’s beaches are.

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Destin Beach, FL

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Roman and I. Photo courtesy of my friend, @justassilem on IG
Roman and I. Photo courtesy of my friend, @justassilem on IG

No two beaches are alike, however. While both beaches were nice, the vibes were completely different. Both beaches were family friendly, but Destin definitely felt more high end.  Either way, I will definitely be back! And of course, road trips wouldn’t be any fun without random photoshoots in the middle of no where.

Loo-zy Anna pit stop.
Loo-zy Anna pit stop.

Did you guys do any road trips this summer? I’d love to hear about them!

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My Summer of wanderLUST: Oregon

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Continuing on with my summer filled with trips throughout the states, I decided to high tail it to Oregon. I have family that recently relocated there, so the timing couldn’t have been anymore perfect. Never in my life have I seen a place so green! And coming from an area where the air is extremely polluted with smog and the likes of refineries, Oregon was literally a breath of fresh air.

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Driving through Willamette Valley

The coolest thing I found about Oregon were all of the green/eco-friendly initiatives. It was weird asking for a to-go box and not be given styrofoam. And everywhere seemed extremely walkable. I didn’t really get a chance to explore Portland.  Most of my stay was in the quaint little town of Independence. I swear, I could’ve just roamed the main street the entire time and been content with life.  I walked around and found a cute Thai restaurant for lunch. And one of my favorite past times that I’ve grown fond of is finding a local ice cream parlor. The simple things that make us happy, right?

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Downtown Independence, OR

Oregon is such a scenic state. Like I literally was in awe taking in everything I was seeing. I didn’t want to do anything else other than to sit and stare at God’s wonderful creations. Something about being out in nature is very humbling and soothing at the same time. I went on this trip with a heavy heart and a completely stressed out mind. Somehow, I managed to find peace. Being amongst family helped tremendously too, but I was actually able to just relax. You know how there are some trips you take to be adventurous, while others you take solely to do absolutely nothing but just.. be? Totally one of the latter type of trips.

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And of course, I had to splurge on dinner at least once. I give you Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Crab Stuffed Salmon with a Hazelnut Bleu Cheese Salad. Yum-MEEE!!!

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What I wouldn’t give to be back there staring at a view like this every day.

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Until next time Oregon… I’ll definitely be back!

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My Summer of wanderLUST: New Orleans

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I was determined to have a jam packed summer, full of road trips and lots of sun. I made it happen, and it was glorious. First up on the list was New Orleans. Because you can’t ever go wrong with NOLA. I spent a great deal away from Bourbon Street. I know thats usually the go to spot for out of towners, but seriously, there are SO many unique and cool things about New Orleans outside of Bourbon Street. However, making at least one appearance for a hand grenade is ok.

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Somewhere on Bourbon.

This trip, I visited Frenchman Street as well as the Garden District. I was blown away. In all my years of visiting this wonderful city, I never witnessed the beauty of these places.  The Frenchman Street Art Market was definitely on my list. So many cool things to see and buy from the local artists.

Out and about. Frenchman St Art Market
Out and about. Frenchman St Art Market

 

The Presbytere, New Orleans
The Presbytere Museum, Mardi Gras Exhibit

 

The Presbytere
At the entrance of The Presbytere

 

Audubon Park
Audubon Park

 

Just wandering through the park.
Just wandering through the park.

I know you’re wondering about it. And yes, the food was delicious! But I mean, its New Orleans, what did you expect?

Gumbo from Stanley in the French Quarter
Gumbo from Stanley in the French Quarter

 

A triple treat! Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffe, Red Beans and Rice
A triple treat! Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffe, Red Beans and Rice

One of the best things about driving through Louisiana on the way to New Orleans are the pit stops in between. Cracklins are a must!

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My mom’s side of the family resides in the Greater New Orleans area, so naturally, I spent a lot of time there growing up. But somehow, this trip was different. This trip stirred up a fire in me that I thought had died out. Life gets hard sometimes and trying to maintain your sense of imagination and creative spirit can be taxing on the mind in the midst of it all. This trip, I did a lot of self reflection. The long walk through beautiful Audubon Park leading up to the riverfront was freeing in its own right. As some of you may know, my mom died when I was eight. I couldn’t help but take in all the beauty around me while thinking “Man, my mom grew up here? In such a cool place?”. I feel like I was supposed to experience this New Orleans. I don’t really know much about her, but I feel like my sense of adventure comes from her. And in a way, I feel like I connected and shared this moment with her spiritually. This was the start of something good.

Drifting Through the Valley

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Happy New Year friends! Its been such a long time since my last post. 2014 was definitely a year of reflection, tears, joy, and all things in between. November was magical, as I took a much-needed trip to the Napa Valley again. I love it there. Something about the air just calms me. Or it could be the smell of the vineyards in the air. Who knows.

I’ve seriously been debating all year about how I wanted to re-structure my blog. Traveling and art are my true passions. I want my blog to definitely reflect that. But more than anything, my aim is to inspire. If you get nothing else from my posts, I want you to leave away feeling inspired. Inspired to think deeply or enjoy the simple things. Whatever blows up your skirt.

Napa Valley really is an amazing place. Despite what some perceive to be a pretentious, uppity playground for wine snobs, I have never felt that type of energy. Not saying it doesn’t exist, because it could. But I’ve never felt more comfortable somewhere.

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The courtyard of the castle at Castello di Amorosa
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One of the ga-zillion vineyards throughout the valley…
From my hike at Bodega Head in Bodega Bay, CA
From my hike at Bodega Head in Bodega Bay, CA

I definitely needed this trip to sort some shit out in my life. Add a little fuel to my travel bug fire. I think Napa will most likely be one of those places I continually visit for life. I think everyone should have an “old faithful” place they repeatedly visit ( I actually did visit the Old Faithful Geyser of California while I was in the area. Let’s just say it left much to be desired for $14). What’s your old faithful?

Sunday Kind of Love

The Etta James classic rings heavily in my head as I sit and reflect on today’s events. My visit to the Texas Hill Country was filled with scenic routes ( I basically got lost a bunch of times, but it was totally worth it). It reaffirmed the fact that I love the life I live, ups and downs. The downs make the ups that much better. This trip was totally an up. You know what made this trip even better? Wine.

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The drive up to the winery was a gorgeous one. Winding curves on a dirt road, leading up to the top of a hill.  Perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The winery grounds were cozy. The staff were super friendly and welcoming. Ten bucks got you 6 tastings and the cool wine glass pictured above. I’m usually a Merlot girl, but the day was nice and warm enough for a sparkling white ( Starry Nights, thank me later).  Overall, an extremely pleasant experience. I didn’t take as many pics as I should have at the winery, but I was too busy enjoying the breeze and relaxing. Next time, I promise.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

I love a good road trip, especially in the spring time. The really cool thing about Texas is the multitude of terrains you encounter across the state. I grew up along the coast for the most part, so I decided to explore the Texas Hill Country this weekend!IMG_1197

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Did you know that there is another version of the Texas Bluebonnet? Yep, the Alamo Fire. And its just as stunning!

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I also had the liberty of taking the famous Enchanted Rock hike in Fredericksburg. Totally worth all the sweat and shortness of breath it took to get to the top (note to self: we really need to become friends with the gym again).

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On my way down, I found these gems. They were waiting just for me, I know it.

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The coolest thing about being at the top of the rock was feeling like time completely stopped. I had some time to actually think. Think about, what I’m currently doing with my life, what I want to be doing, should be doing. I hate to sound all corny and predictable, but I really did have an “a-ha!” moment. Sometimes you need absolute silence to really be able to sort through your thoughts and all the clutter. Not to mention, silence was golden in taking in the spectacular views below. Oh Life, you sure know how to keep me interested in you….