Travel talk

On the road again!

After 8 months in Folsom, we were preparing to make our journey from California to Florida. First step was to sell our beloved Toyota 4Runner and purchase a “grownup” vehicle, a family friendly, fuel efficient, safe and reliable Subaru Crosstrek.

In the meantime, we had been looking into renting a Uhaul trailer to tow all of our belongings and after weeks of research, we (he) decided to build a trailer on his own to save cash and have something we can keep… and let’s admit it, it was a cool project for captain construction to have some fun with πŸ˜‰ I’ll admit I was a little hesitant in the beginning but as time passed it proved to be perfect! I’m so proud.

Ok, so we’re packed, loaded and ready to go! Looking at the car-trailer photo from above makes me giggle knowing that everything we own is in that picture (excluding Matts surf boards). We have so much to be grateful for and so minimal to worry about. Beautiful!

The last time we made this trip (in reverse) we took the northern route through Nevada, Utah, Colorado and then on. This time we chose to go south to visit a few friends along the way and see some new scenery. First stop was in Riverside (Southern California) to see Craigg! You’ll recognize him from his first trip to Barbados, my time in Japan and most recently at our wedding.

Next up was Phoenix to hug Christie and John! Another bundle of joy that you’d recognize from Doing work in the AZ and also our wedding!

There really wasn’t anybody from Arizona to Oklahoma so we just made a quick overnight stop in New Mexico and woke up to get to my dads house for bedtime.

Our time in Oklahoma was short and sweet but allowed for a solid catch up with our family and announce the gender of our little one! We gave all 5 siblings a can of silly string and let them unload on us. Too much fun!

After Oklahoma we made what should of been a quick trip to Arkansas but considering we stopped every hour for the prego to pee, it took us far longer than expected. Sorry babe. The photo below is me attempting to get comfortable with a pregnancy pillow that was gifted to us. Epic fail… but we eventually made it to beautiful Hot Springs!

More cousins and tons of love greeted us on our final extended stay of the trip.

We made it to our last stop of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in which the camera regrettably didn’t leave our bags. I have no picture highlighting our visit with Matts grandparents (Maw Maw and Paw Paw) but it was short, sweet and full of homemade cookin! Early the following morning we said our goodbyes and put home in the GPS. Final destination, Miramar Beach, Florida!

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Back back to Cali Cali!

So there we were, living in Folsom, California as newlyweds ready to start a foundation for our future. (We only lasted 8 months, but here it was in a nutshell!)

Accommodations: We purchased a 28ft princess palace (aka a travel trailer) in order to live minimally and save to the max. We loved our little home and it served us properly before we sold it to move.

Working: I dove right back into the world of beauty by reopening my hair salon under the new name of “Hair Gypsy”. My loyal clients were so eager to support the return and helped get me back in action!

Matt continued his photography and videography by shooting family photos, senior portraits, weddings and special events. You can check out that gallery by clicking here!

Both of us got a rejuvenating job coaching at Tricks Gymnastics, Matt was working in the Tag program and I was coaching the artistic gymnastics.

(Fun fact: I worked at Tricks from 1997-2005 coaching the competitive team!)

On the side, we also picked up dog sitting which turned into our favorite little paw escape. These pups were so much fun and turned into family!

When we weren’t working, you could usually find us (mainly Matt) on a bike exploring the popular trails that surround the Lake and extend to outer cities.We also took advantage of being surrounded by some incredible destinations and often took day or weekend trips to explore!

Lake Tahoe!Santa Cruz!

San Francisco!Although Northern California has beautiful scenery, unlimited career options and some of my most favorite people in the world… it just wasn’t feeding our souls. A tough decision but a solid one as we decided to move to the Panhandle of Florida.

Just before packing up to move across the states we found out that we were soon to be a party of 3… What a beautiful addition to our already exciting life!

Next journey… road trip back to the East Coast!

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Honeymoon Road trip – part 2!

Our honeymoon happened to overlap with Matts birthday so I wanted our next pitstop to be extra special. Utah or Nevada, hmmm. I searched for hidden jems and popular attractions and didn’t have to look any farther once landing on this beauty….

The Mystic Hot Springs of Monroe Utah!

πŸ‘‰πŸ½ CLICK HERE to see the video of our adventure at the Springs!

It’s a quaint little community many miles away from well, anything! Although the main attraction was the natural hot springs that bubble up on the property, the selling point for me was the accommodations. You had your choice between a van, covered wagon or old fashion school bus, all which had been converted into lovable spaces. We chose the bus!

The outside had a small patio which was the perfect space for Matt to cook us up some dinner on our camping stove while we sat and took in the ambiance. Inside there was a small dining area, full bed, couch and sink that took up most of the space with a bright tapestry separating the door from the room. The door, mind you, was the original swinging model with no lock or safe way of securing it completely closed. The bright side was being surrounded by people who generally gave off the hippie “one love” vibe with no concern of taking from you. A lot of bare feet, beards, braids and smiles greeted us as we walked the property.

The highlight of our stay was by far the music! We happen to hit the weekend when a female bluegrass brand was passing through. The Sweet Lilies had a magnetic way of drawing you in to their soulful sound and unique style. We were sitting front row and enjoyed every minute! To make it even more memorable, one of the girls had spoke with Matt prior and found out he was a musician as well. This led to them inviting him on stage to jam out for a few songs, what a rare opportunity!

If you’re ever driving through the dessert of Monroe Utah and need some entertainment or place to crash, I highly suggest you take a dip in the springs and walk the grounds barefoot!

The rest of our trip was through the dry desert of Nevada finally landing us in Northern California. Here’s a few more random photos to wrap up the road trip!

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Honeymoon Road trip – part 1!

Saying goodbye was a bittersweet this time leaving my new found island home. As Matt and I packed up the last of our things, there was a sense of sadness realizing I didn’t have a return flight, yet at the same time excitement filled the air. A new adventure, an unknown journey, something I had never experienced before was just ahead of me! Airport drop off, next chapter… Married and moving to California!

Although the final destination is California, we flew into Florida to kick off our priceless road trip across the states for our honeymoon! This journey alone could of been a dozen posts with videos, hilarious stories and countless photos, but let’s keep in mind the goal is still to catch up to present date. So bare with me as we fly through what was a 3 week expedition from the east coast to the west!

Before we begin, let me just prep you with the underlying vibe this entire trip started out with. I had just asked Matt if I could close my eyes for a bit and of course his angelic new husband answer was something along the lines of, “Of course my dearest love, rest those gorgeous eyes of yours while I drive, I’ll have lunch waiting when you wake up”…. Or maybe he said, “Sure babe”.

Matt truly didn’t know I was filming until half way through the video. Brat:)

We started in West Palm Beach with his (and now my!) brother and family. We stayed long enough to purchase a 4Runner and hit the road towards our new home.

Matts Aunt Jerri and Uncle Wayde happen to be right along the way as we departed Florida. Brunch in Baton Rouge Louisiana started us off properly!

Last time I saw this guy was in Japan! My cousin Brandon and I have managed to stay in touch most of our entire adult lives while never living in the same state or country for the matter! I was so excited for him to meet my new husband and what a wonderful stopping point to eat, laugh and rest up!

Arkansas and Oklahoma consumed us with dozens of my family members eager to greet the newlyweds. It was the perfect half way point to take a week and reconnect with all of them.

My cousins (thank you Lacie and Lana!)Β  surprised us with a wedding reception full of food, games, dancing and gifts. We got to celebrate all over again!

One of our pit stops was Raton New Mexico. This adorable little church house used to be where my dad and his family lived. How lucky were we that they still owned it and got a key for another over night rejuvenation. The sunset photo is at the top of an overlook just outside of town.

πŸ‘‰πŸ½VIDEO TIME! Click here to see a video of this leg of the trip!

After hitting beautiful New Mexico, we headed north to one of my favorite states… Colorado! Mountains, rivers, lakes, mesas, valleys and fresh air, what’s not to love? I was even more excited finding out that one of Matts long time school friends lived in Vale which meant another purposeful pit stop. A rejuvenating walk, sit down dinner and quality catch up time was the perfect way to start the tale end of our journey.

I made the mistake of not recording where each picture was taken, but I still wanted to throw in a few random photos we snapped along the way!

Next stop, Monroe Utah!

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Wrapping up Barbados!

So turns out I’m married to a photographer/videographer (amongst other talents) and while we were living on the island, he made some videos that would be a shame to go unseen. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of the following footage, besides me wanting to keep them on record and wanting to share them with you!

1. Most tourists stay on the south coast where the white sand and hotels are located while a few may hit the west coast to explore a different kind of beach. Meanwhile there’s beautiful nature and wide open waters on the east and north coast! Here’s a video he filmed with Cole to show off the less popular edges of Barbados.

East and North natural coastlines!

2. This little video is of a spontaneous day out we took to check out the surf and sights. The hitchhiker at the end was my favorite part!

Afternoon out ending with a hitchhiker!

3. You all can recall Hurricane Irma, the storm that took over the Caribbean and damaged Florida back in 2017. What you may not of known is the beautiful sky and awesome surf it brought to Barbados! Well, here’s a look from a surfers perspective.

Surfing Hurricane Irma

4. If you know this blog well enough, you know that Cool Runnings is my ultimate favorite when it comes to excursions out at sea. On this day, we were gifted a treat on a a different catamaran called Tiami… Enjoy!

A day at sea!

If you’re familiar with Stone Sharp Images, you’ve probably seen several photos captured by Matt during our stay here. If you haven’t, well then I suggest you do! Until next time Barbados…

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Do you all live in straw huts on the beach?

Although we may sleep under them, we don’t live in palm trees or forts made of sticks in the sand. Yes there’s clean water, paved roads and even electricity! (To be said with a slightly sarcastic undertone). We have convenient grocery stores with cheap local items and an abundance of over priced imported goods. In fact, on this beautiful island you can find rum cheaper than water and fresh tropical fruit growing wild along the road side. 

While enjoying our stay in Barbados, I wanted to give you a glimpse of where Matt and I are calling home away from… well, I guess this is home for now! It’s located fairly central with just a quick drive to the popular south and beautiful west coast beaches. Our cozy home is 2 bedroom, 2 bath with an inviting backyard hosting the guest cottage. Although the last kittens were adorable while living in the home seen in a past post,  I’d say this is one of the most comfortable pet sitting jobs we’ve done! Please, take a look around!  Below is the dining (we never eat here) and lounge (we never sit here) portion of the house that realistically is just a common area we pass through to get from our room to the kitchen.

We spend most of our moments outside, however the main two spots that consume our indoor time are the bedroom to sleep and bathe and the kitchen to prepare food and coffee.

If for a moment we want to chill out and get lost in a documentary, we’ll kick back and relax in the additional room.

Now to our prime spot of entertainment. The backyard is where we read, write, grill, eat, talk, nap, stretch and start and end every single day. This photo was obviously shot during my morning tea time.

That cute little cottage house in the back is perfect for our guests. Private full bathroom, coffee maker, mini fridge, a few seating options and an extremely comfortable bed. No need for a “do not disturb” sign as the only knocking you’ll here is from the monkeys on the roof trying to snag a mango off the tree overhead!

Looking past the cottage you’ll see a few neighbors tucked away behind the radiating green that catches the eye from tree to tree.

What else have we used this beautiful back area for? A party of course! Our last visitor had a birthday so we through together a barbeque (literally, Matt turned center blocks and a flower pot into a grill) and invited some friends! A few balloons, another grill and amazing people… success!

What does a group of spontaneous creative individuals do when united? Apparently the mannequin challenge! This was my first time ever hearing of such thing, but hey, it worked!! Check out the video made by Cole Huffer from Enlightened Studios!

No children were drinking before, during or after this video was filmed.

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We can’t spend our lives waiting to live

I’d like to highlight a thought that I woke up with this morning. It’s lyrics from a song that were brought to my attention by a friend and her beautifully bold tattoo.

“We can’t spend our lives waiting to live”.  Rise Against

I feel so often we give excuses for why our greatest wishes are unreachable. Possibly even complaining about the current journey that’s getting us from an idea to a glorious reality. You hear comments like “I wish I could (fill in the blank) but I can’t because (fill in the blank)” or “I’m waiting until (fill in the blank) before I….”. You get the picture.

On a smaller scale, what about that dress or suit you bought and saved all year just to wear on your birthday out of town.  You had it hanging in your room, underneath a glowing light while counting down the number of days till you could show it off  (maybe not that extreme, but roll with me here).  You pack it up so nice and tidy and head to the airport. You, your friends and your excitement all arrive safely to the party-city except the bag. The airlines lost it. All that time with this amazing outfit to be shared and you (with no gaurentee of the future) waited and now… now it’s gone. 

If you truly have far future goals like writing a book, getting fit, a solid retirement, big house, travel, etc. then own it! Go for it, but enjoy the ride. However if you’re working to the bone, putting in long hours, missing family & friends, dreading Monday through Friday (which is over 70% of your life!) and doing all these things in misery with hopes that it might pay off “someday”, I suggest you reconsider your intentions.

I understand each situation has its own elements and I have no place to judge that, but for the most part… I just want to bring light to the idea that we are generally the ones that allow the limitations. How exhausting to constantly defend the “I’m stuck” routine. I’m still learning that we have created (either consciously and/or involuntarily) the numerous amounts of boundaries holding us back from enjoying today and I’ll give you one guess to whom can remove those restrictions. Times up… You know who.

I invite you to start peeling back even just one layer of self-inflicted obstruction that is limiting your grand potential. Ignite a flame that has never been lit or refuel a fire that was once raging with passion!

You shouldn’t spend your whole life waiting to live.

For a breath of fresh air or effortless smile, take a snoop at the Happy Thoughts page or Quotes. Sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded of ideas that we already know. 

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…5 years later

What makes her happy trails so happy? Let me just share a few reasons that have recently been amplified in this beautiful journey I call life. 
First off, we have this glorious planet offering a variety of stunning landscapes and wondrous elements. Then there’s the creatures that keep us intrigued from under the sea to the tops of the highest peaks. Let’s not forgot the loving, creative, crazy humans that enhance the entire magnificent experience.

My last post wrapped up a season in Barbados which sends me off on another trip back to the states to see family and friends. Before I get to that, let’s acknowledge another happy part of these trails. Connection! Simply one of my favorite things about traveling. You meet a stranger on a bus, in a hostel, the line at a market, no matter where the universe allows it, your paths are supposed to cross. Maybe just for that moment, or continuing through a week of friendship along the trail, or even for a lifetime. It’s magical when you recognize a purpose behind every smile you connect with. 

Exactly 5 years ago, I was on one my first solo international trips. I say “solo”, but although I planned this alone, it was on a semi-guided tour with a company called Contiki.. The route took me and 2 dozen other travelers from Italy to France, down through Monaco and ended in Spain where I parted from the group. 

Along the way I met a dozen or so wonderful people that I’m still in touch with today. Here’s a few meeting to reunion photos!

The most recent reconnection was during my travels from Barbados to Oklahoma with an unexpected magical pit stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a 14 hour layover which meant I had a typical over night stay which entails a cold airport floor with the sounds of the custodians popping chewing gum over the humming of their vacuum. I invite you to check out the posts called Work out and rest up in Asian airports and Floor seats in the Lima airport, unforgettable nights for sure! I’m usually bundled up with every heavy piece of clothing item in my backpack in order to endure the below comfortable temperatures while using my backpack as a makeshift cot. The morning consists of me walking the terminals to get the blood flowing again while waiting for the cafes to open so I can get a cup of hot water for the one single tea bag I keep in my wallet. I take a wet wipe shower in the bathroom and although I brush my teeth with real paste and actual water (verses spit and shine in the back of a camper), it still feels like I have backpackers breath as I board my flight with one eye open and the fleeting thought, “I forgot deodorant”. 

Think 14 hours seems a bit much? Check out 51 hours to get 1/2 way around the world!

Well not this time folks! World meet Karyne (pronounced cuh-reen) She’s another one of the amazing friends I first met in Rome back in 2011. After parting ways in the streets of Spain, Karyne and I remained in contact through good ol Facebook. Now, she’s offered not only her home but a lift to and from the airport and an unexpected dinner out. I sat here for too long trying to think of a creative name for the award she should recieve for her hospitality. I felt so welcome and we spoke like it was just yesterday that we were sipping sangria on the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Here is our then and now pic (sorry for the blurry photo, it was a good night in France).

Her house was right up my alley with instruments, personal artwork and a beverage cart for all to share. 

What was completely foreign to me however, was her spare room aka her closet!

The morning after our catch up session we hustled back to the airport to say our farewells as I departed for my final stop. Such a better ride than the usual airport shuttle!
Bonus highlight! I met this adorable couple on the flight over. Amanda and Tyler share a passion towards biology, art and travel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see them again, but I can only expect exceptional things in their future. Thanks for the stimulating conversation and supportive energy towards spreading the joy of travel! 

In the next post you’ll see what Oklahoma has to offer me but I’ll close this write up with a collage that shows 3 roads I traveled in 3 consecutive days. Gotta love the beauty in variety! Barbados-Florida-Oklahoma

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PCD (Post Cropover Depression) and the cure.

Kadooment has come to an end. I’ll pause for a moment of silence…

All of the bedazzled costumes have been retired and the closest thing to a mobile drink truck you’ll see is that of the icecream man making his way down the smoldering hot road. Sweet Soca music is now only played 80% of the time, instead of 99% and lastly, the constant nightly parties have dwindled down. This my friends is what some may refer to as the beginning of PCD – Post Cropover Depression. But there’s no need to fear… The beach is still here! (Hopefully some of you children from the 80’s chanted that last sentence in the tune of Wonder Dog). Here’s a few examples of what might bide your time till next carnival season. 

Find a cruise! Search this blog alone and you’ll see several years of celebrations out at sea. A few of the popular companies are Seaduced, Jammin, MC Buccaneer  and my personal favorite, Cool Runnings. This year I tried a new one just to broaden my experience around the island. Here’s the well known “pirate ship” called the Jolly Rogers!

The next boat may be smaller, but the the party doesn’t lack a bit! (enter your own joke here). A typical Sunday on the west coast usually involves several friends, a couple of boats, countless floating items and many memories! Here are just a bundle of shots to give you a glimpse of the fun to be had!

Prefer to be on a board instead of a boat? That’s an easy fix, just check out Ryans Instagram @whatsupbarbados!

Tired of the scene above the Caribbean Sea? Take a peak under, you’d be amazed at what you may find! Photo credit to Ryan Rodriguez and the close ups of these beautiful creatures!

Ooh handstand shot!

Keep yourself busy with evening beach parties! 

Foam fun!

…and sunset memories.

Till next season…

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Behind the wheel in Barbados

Getting around in any new country is a learning experience from the get-go. Amongst different traffic laws, there’s common courtesy expectations and a bundle of local unspoken rules that you can only figure out on your own. Let’s talk about Barbados. If you’d prefer avoiding the drivers sets, there’s many options to choose from. You can check those out at Totally Barbados on the Getting around article. However if you want two hands on the wheel and an elevated heart rate, please keep reading!

  First off, they drive on the left side of the road. For some this is normal, for the rest of us it’s a bizarre feeling that guides you directly into oncoming traffic wondering why the truck facing at you won’t get in his own lane! I tell you for the first five years visiting here, I would naturally walk to the right side of a friends car thinking to be the passenger until I’d see the steering wheel and awkwardly circle the vehicle again. Now, I’m driving here and have more than once (with keys in hand) opened the passenger side door expecting to hop in the drivers seat. For what it’s worth I either giggle to myself and walk around or actually reach in as if “I totally meant to open this door”. 

Once behind the wheel, I was slightly impressed with my natural ability to stay on the correct side of the road. What I was not expecting was the reversed locations of the signals. For the first week, every time I went to turn left or right, I’d switch the windshield wipers on. This of course meaning the first tropical rain that hit my view was quickly taken care of by clicking my indicators (blinkers).

Honking in Barbados is a sound of courtesy. Well, I suppose that depends on the amount of consecutive horns and the length it’s held. If a horn is blaring at you followed by some curse words, I wouldn’t necessarily blow them a kiss back. A quick tap is generally giving a fellow driver the “go ahead”. For example, if they’re waiting to turn into heavy traffic and you slow down to let them in, you can either flash your lights or give a quick honk. How do they thank you? You guessed it, a quick double honk back at ya. This is all along the side of the vans that have their own specific horn acknowledging pedestrians when offering a lift. My favorite is one that reminds me of the taco trucks on US construction sites. For those of you that don’t know, it resembles the tune “la cucarocha”. So now you can imagine a two-lane stretch of road around here sounds like a song of vehicle tunes. 

For all the North Americans who grew up with bruised shoulders from playing Slug-bug, let me introduce you to the Bajan game… Cheezy wheels. Rather than a quick strike to your neighbor for every Volkswagen Beetle, instead you hit for a yellow car. Nothing special, just a yellow vehicle that’s not public transportation. Try being the clueless one in that game the first round! Thank you Kevin and Dani.

There are more potholes in this country than sidewalks, center divides, crosswalks and curbs combined. When you’re following a vehicle that looks to be driven by a drunk 14 year old (it very well could be) you also have to take into consideration the amount of small craters that must be dodged while taking to the beat up roads. I am indeed guilty for the last minute swerve in order to protect my tires from the near cliff drop of the average pothole. 

Pedestrians have the right away. In other words the chances of hitting a human is just as likely as popping a tire on a pothole.

If you’re behind a van or bus, expect to stop every 8-20 seconds. Not only will these public transporters slow down for every bus stop, they’ll also take a park mid-street if there’s a friend in a different bus coming at them. I have actually heard conversation for the weekend plans as two drivers just randomly paused mid route causing a traffic back up.

What else causes a stand still traffic scenario? A fallen tree branch, school kids, Ninja Man, wild chickens, stray dogs, construction, broken down car, a taxi driver who thinks temporarily parking on a highway is acceptable and the occasional overflow of a Rum Shop.

Things you can find for sale on the side of the road: Raw fish, fresh vegetables, coconut water straight from the nut, burnt corn, dunks, peanuts, achee’s, newspapers, eggs, homemade juice and the popular pre-made lunches out the back of a locals car including but limited to mac pie, chicken, rice, fish, plantains and sweet potato pie.

So to give you an idea of my first exciting day behind the wheel please visualize a peanut shell covered lap with windshield wipers blaring through the sun as I attempted to signal barely dodging a pothole before coming to a screeching halt so the pedestrian could cross without looking both ways. I laughed the whole way like a highschool kid in their first car.

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