Tag Archives: America

11 Photos to Inspire a Trip to the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon in Arizona - USA Travel

The Grand Canyon was always one of those spots that I wanted to see in the US. I mean, it’s huge. It takes multiple hours to drive from one side of the Canyon to the other. Your brain can’t register the size of it because it seems to go on forever.

Jaw-dropping is one way to describe it. I was mesmerized as soon as I went to the first lookout. I stood there for ages, trying to take it all in, noticing the heavy fog that would roll in within a few minutes and dissipate just as quickly.

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On Coming Home to the Land of Fear

On Coming Home to the Land of Fear - America Travel

I’m tired you guys. Exhausted might be a better word. I try my best to spread positivity on this blog and to focus on the good, but sometimes, sometimes, I have to be honest and talk about the negativity too.

The America I left 3 years ago, is not the same one I came back to last March. Perhaps I was blinded by my love for my country, never having spent a decent amount of time away from it previously. I know this was not a sudden change, it’s something that has been building throughout the decades, probably, to be honest, since America was born. But the America I came back to last March, the one I’ve been living in for the past year and a half is unrecognizable to me now.

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Snapshot Memories of the Week: Austin, TX

Snapshot memories is a new weekly series, giving a visual glimpse into different destinations and unique ways to view them. It’s also a way for me to look back on travels that occurred before and after I started this blog, and to give each place I’ve traveled the attention it deserves. 

This week my memories go back to Austin. 

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Austin, Texas. My first trip to the South and the live music capital of the world.

I was feeling restless after coming home from a summer in Europe with no immediate travels in the works. It was the middle of winter, and I had saved enough money at my first bartending gig to spend it on a trip somewhere in the States during the holidays.

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It didn’t take me long to choose Austin, Texas. I’d always wanted to check out the South (although Austin I’ve heard is much different from the rest of the South), and Austin’s fascination with live music made it a shoe-in.

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I was fine with going on my own, maybe taking a long Greyhound ride to get to Texas and spending a week exploring the city by myself.

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On a whim, I invited my boyfriend at the time, and he said he would love to see the city with me, an avid musician and music lover himself, it sounded like a perfect way to use our winter vacation.

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We jumped on a plane to save time, and stayed in the HI Austin Hostel to save money, exploring the the Texas capital for about a week. Austin is a fairly walkable city, but it was also convenient to bus into the city and wander from there.

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My favorite aspect about Austin was the fact that even though it was winter, and therefore the down season, there was endless live music to be found. We would just walk down the main drag on Sixth Street, wandering from bar to bar, following whatever music we were in the mood for that night.

We listened to tons of live music that week, anything from indie rock, to country folk, to jazz, and even stumbled into a dueling piano bar one night.

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A cool thing about Austin is the bat population that famously exists under the “bat bridge”. We were in the wrong season to see all of the bats while we were there, but Austin apparently has a huge bat population, especially under this one bridge near the city.

Although unique, I thought it was a strange thing for a city to have at the time, but after spending a year in Australia with a crazy bat population in most cities, I find it the most normal thing now.

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In addition to exploring the music-centered nightlife and the bat history of the city, we also had a fun time traipsing through the Zilker Botanical Gardens, checking out the University of Texas, dipping into the retro shops on South Congress, and walking through the State Capitol building – there were even Texas Rangers that walked through the door while we were heading in!

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One of my favorite memories from the trip was going to a restaurant called Rasta Pasta near the university. Run by a Jamaican staff, it served delicious Rastafarian pasta, which I had never heard of before, but it was simply great.

Did I mention that Austin is a little bit on the hippie side? It’s very much like my hometown of Santa Cruz in that sense.

Of all the aspects I remember about this trip, the ones that have stuck with me the most were the presence of the color orange (also the local university’s color), the great food to be found in the many food trucks, the colorful street art, and the beautiful autumn foliage, even though it was in the middle of winter.

The Color Orange

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Food Trucks

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Street Art

StreetArt

Foliage

Foliage

Austin was my first taste of the South, and it made me want to to back to explore all the goodness this part of my own country has to offer. I could definitely see myself living in Austin someday, at the very least I’ll be heading to Austin City Limits and SXSW in the near future.

Snapshot Memories of the Week: San Diego, CA

Snapshot memories is a new weekly series, giving a visual glimpse into different destinations and unique ways to view them. It’s also a way for me to look back on travels that occurred before and after I started this blog, and to give each place I’ve traveled the attention it deserves. 

This week my memories go back to San Diego. 

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San Diego is a hard place to represent just in snapshots. I spent 5 years living there, and often times didn’t take any pictures of the key aspects that meant the most to me.

Cactuses and desert like conditions in San Diego
Cactuses and desert like conditions in San Diego
Llamas in Oldtown San Diego
Llamas in Old Town San Diego
A walk to Blacks Cliffs
A Walk to Blacks Cliffs

It’s a place I went to college and received my degree in psychology and international studies, where I fell in love with my college boyfriend, where I joined a sorority (more on that later), and had countless sleepless nights going out on adventures with California burritos in hand and the beach within throwing distance.

Graduating seniors at UC San Diego
Graduating seniors at UC San Diego
UC San Diego Campus
UC San Diego Campus
Okay, not technically in San Diego - but a great road trip from the city to taste the best apple pie of your life - Julian Pie Company
Okay, not technically in San Diego – but a great road trip from the city to taste the best apple pie of your life – Julian Pie Company

There are many pictures I did capture, and that is what I bring you this week, but as I lived there for so long, I never viewed the place as a tourist.

Mount Woodson
Mount Woodson
Margaritas for my 21st in Del Mar, San Diego
Margaritas for my 21st in Del Mar, San Diego
San Diego Harbor
San Diego Harbor

I never made it to Sea World, never took pictures of the many suburbs I explored on my weekends, or the ornate and beautiful Balboa Park. I never took pictures of my favorite cafes and taquerias. I never captured on film how much I loved hanging out in Bird Rock on a hot summer’s day, iced green tea in hand, and how gorgeous the city looks at night while crossing the Coronado Bridge.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters - The Best
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters – The Best
La Jolla, San Diego
La Jolla, San Diego
Pacific Beach for a night out on the town
Pacific Beach for a night out on the town

I never took photos of the many delicious craft beers I could find at any bar I went to, or how profound the friendships became that I made throughout college. How freeing it felt to go skinny dipping at Blacks Beach in the middle of the night in the dead of winter, how the best beach weather is in the dead of winter, and finally knowing the true meaning of hot and humid summer nights.

Stone Brewery
Stone Brewery
UC San Diego Campus
UC San Diego Campus
UC San Diego
UC San Diego

Instead, I have pictures that will do their best to convey to you a place that I can’t even begin to describe myself, a place I still get butterflies to go back to, I love it that much. I have pictures of sunsets/sunrises, beaches/cliffs, palm trees, and food/craft beer mainly (although I still don’t know how I never took a picture of a burrito, I consumed SO many while I was living there).

Bird Rock, San Diego
Bird Rock, San Diego
Cowles Mountain
Cowles Mountain
The World-Famous San Diego Zoo
The World-Famous San Diego Zoo

These four categories are how I would describe San Diego to an outsider, as well as maybe adding in an awesome live music scene, it’s a good introduction to one of my favorite cities in the world.

Blacks Cliffs
Blacks Cliffs
My Apartment for 2 years
My Apartment for 2 years

After what will be 2 years away, I look forward to starting off my West Coast USA Road Trip in San Diego, and finally taking the time to see it as a tourist.

Sunsets/Sunrises

San Diego

Beaches/Cliffs

Beaches and Cliffs

Palm Trees

Palm Trees

Food/Craft Beer

Food and Craft Beer

I can’t tell you how many songs remind me of this place, and how much it means to me that I can share a piece of it with you here.

I never knew a place named after a whale’s vagina could be so cool.

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2013, a year to remember

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney

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My favorite quote from 2013, and one that I find pretty relevant to my life these days as a hopeless wanderer. 2013 was a year of change, new beginnings, and a lot of falling headfirst outside of my comfort zone. I traveled to 7 new countries, attended 4 festivals, moved to two different cities, said more goodbyes than I’d like to remember, yet have made countless more friends and opened a variety of new doors in the process. 2013 was in a word, epic. I don’t think I’ve grown more in a year previously than I did in 2013, I have a feeling 2014 is going to be even better and more adventurous. Here’s a glance at what my year of travel and spontaneity included.

January – New York, Oregon, California

I started this travel blog just before the New Year, my first posts consisted of my travels around the States for the holidays and reminiscent anecdotes from my summer in Tuscany. I started the New Year off with a bang partying under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City for New Year’s Eve.

View of the Chrysler Building at night

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“Last June, I walked across the stage at my college graduation with the words the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams“ glued to my cap. I found the quote appropriate, not only because my college at UC San Diego is called Eleanor Roosevelt, but because those words are what I hope to live by as a recent graduate.” – The Future Belongs to those who Believe in the Beauty of their Dreams

February – California

The month of the most change for me in 2013, this was one of my final months in San Diego before moving to Oz. I pierced my belly button, donated most of my belongings, cut off a foot of my hair, and broke things off with my longterm boyfriend.

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me and aaron

“There has been a lot to think about with my departure date coming up so soon, and my whole trip itself becoming more real than it has ever felt before. I’m proud of myself for embarking on such an endeavor, one which I wouldn’t of had the confidence or the bravery to pull off as little as four years ago when I first started college. On the other hand, I can’t help feeling selfish and even guilty sometimes for leaving certain people behind to chase my own dreams of traveling, knowing that I’ll miss out on so much in the process of fulfilling what I want to do with my life.” – Walkabout: La Jolla Edition

March – California

My final month in San Diego, I left two jobs and an internship behind and said my final goodbyes to my friends and my life in the beloved place I called home. Even though bittersweet, I was also extremely excited to take on my Aussie adventure, knowing how much it would benefit me in the long run. I lived in the moment, appreciating all those who had touched my time in San Diego, and enjoyed all that the seaside city had to offer. I also made sure to eat as much Mexican food as possible, I even had a burrito on the way to the airport.

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“I’ve realized the only way to love the life I live is through passion, optimism, and spontaneity. So, this year my travel resolutions will revolve around just those things, letting go of the negative aspects in my life in the process.” – Travel Resolutions 2013

April – California, Melbourne

My big move to Melbourne and my first month in Australia was a whirlwind of new experiences, tram rides, footy games, new friends, the best coffee, and learning how to live like an Aussie and adapt to colder weather.

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“The sun is gleaming through the palm trees, I’m riding alongside the ocean, the orange sky as my canopy. What a way to say goodbye to this cherished place I’ve taken for my own, a place I call home even with these restless bones.” – On leaving everything behind to follow you dreams

May – Melbourne

I celebrated my 23rd birthday and bundled up to settle in for the long hall for my first Aussie winter and my second consecutive winter coming from California with opposite seasons. I explored what Melba had to offer during the winter months… it was heaps. From museums, to hidden coffee shops, to live gigs and warm dumplings, I loved spending winter in Melbourne.

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“There are few things I love more than layering up in a warm sweater, finding a cozy cafe, and getting lost in a good book while sipping on my daily caffeine intake. Especially, when the coffee is as good as it is in Melbourne, and the cafe atmosphere just as phenomenal. I try and hit a different cafe every day because there are too many good ones to choose from.” – 7 ways to spend the winter months in the city

June – Melbourne

In June, I moved across the city to a new apartment and met my new roommate, someone who would become one of my best friends in Australia. I found a second job to help save for Southeast Asia, started volunteering at a yoga studio, and used my rusty culinary skills from my time in Florence to improve my cooking. I basically lived at the Queen Vic Market and the Carlton Gardens, my two favorite spots in the city.

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queen vic

“Moving abroad is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and I’m actually doing exactly what I want to do with my life right now, which is a feeling I’ve never completely felt before with all the pressures of adolescence, and the “correct” path of going to a 4 year university instilled in my American mindset since I was little. It’s the first time I’ve broken off the path of what society deems to be the ‘American Dream’, expanded my perspective of what my life could encompass, besides just worrying about hitting all the generic milestones at the appropriate ages. That in itself is an invigorating realization. And as long as I keep living a balanced life, no matter where I might call home today or tomorrow, I’m going to be just fine.” – Be Free

July – Melbourne

My favorite month in Melbourne. I had been there long enough that it finally felt like home, I loved my job as a bartender in the city, one of my best friends from back home came to visit, I had a solid group of friends, and a couple winter romances as the cherry on top. Perhaps it’s proof that the most fleeting moments in life are usually the most beautiful as my departure to Southeast Asia in August was coming up soon.

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“Comparing where I was when I arrived and only had two friends in the city, to where I am today just a few months later, the changes are extraordinary. I’ve somehow built up my own friend base, a support system from scratch in a completely foreign place. I must say, that is one of the most reassuring realizations you can make in life; that you can start over anywhere and be more than okay, you can be genuinely happy.” – Life is a journey, not a destination

August – Melbourne, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam

My last couple weeks in Melbourne before heading over to Southeast Asia. I drove the Great Ocean Road, went wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, said my round of goodbyes for the second time this year to a city that I had begun to call home, and visited Sydney for the first time. In Southeast Asia, I traveled around to Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam with my British friend I met in Europe a couple summers ago. We had our feet cleaned by fish in Malaysia, laid on the beaches of Bali for a week, explored modern Singapore, and fell into the hectic pace of Ho Chi Minh City.

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“It was one of those surprisingly sunny days in Winter that Melbourne is fond of having every now and then. My friend and I decided to spend the day exploring more of the Royal Botanic Gardens in the city, because it was just one of those days you had to be outside for. We had a picnic at a place I deemed my own ‘500 Days of Summer’ spot, it was truly a perfect day in Aussie land.” – The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, a way to spend an afternoon

September – Cambodia, Thailand

In September I fell in love with Cambodia and the Khmer way of life, went through scuba certification on a deserted island in Cambodia, ate some bugs in Bangkok, rode an elephant, played with baby tigers, learned how to cook authentic Thai food, and had an amazing time in the southern Thai Islands at the Full Moon Party.

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“It’s the people I meet on my travels that keep me trekking on and grounded when I feel lost, disillusioned with what I find in certain places. A chance connection on a night bus with a Welsh guy, having an enlightening conversation at midnight about our lives on the opposite sides of the world we grew up on. A friendly English girl who became our roommate in Chiang Mai. The fun groups of guys we met at the Full Moon Party. And of course my travel companion and partner in crime who has been with me since the beginning of Asia.” – Moments from the road

October – Vietnam, Melbourne, Sydney

The last stretch of Southeast Asia consisted of traveling down the coast of Vietnam. I loved the old way of life in Hanoi, immersed myself in the beauty of the limestone cliffs in Halong Bay, traveled to Hue, and lovely Hoi An, and found myself in Ho Chi Minh city again before flying back to Melbourne.

I spent a bittersweet week in Melbourne, doing all of my favorite things in the city and seeing all the friends I had missed for the past two months, before I moved for the 2nd time to a new city. My first couple weeks in Sydney weren’t the easiest and I didn’t feel quite at home as quickly as I did when I first arrived in Melbourne, but I found a job my first day, made heaps of new friends, and have since meshed much better into the Sydneysider way of life.

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“There’s no magic place where all the bad aspects of life go away, but, of course, there can’t be the good without the bad as comparison. That’s what makes life so complex and interesting, the hurdles you come across, make your best days just that much sweeter. There is no such thing as a new beginning. Even when you start over in a new place, you’re still going to be you, you’re still going to have the same baggage that has made you into the person you are today, there is no escaping who you are to your core. I’m finally understanding who I am as a person, and what I want out of my life now, and even that alone has made my time in Australia worth it.” – Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy

November – Sydney

I took this month to explore Sydney as much as possible on my days off, going to a lot of festivals and art exhibits around the city, and simply enjoying the raw beauty Sydney has to offer on any given day.

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“There are two things I’ve noticed about Sydney since moving here: There are a lot of people jogging everywhere and doing group exercises in one of the many parks, and there’s always some sort of festival or event going on in the city. In other words, it’s basically LA without the famous people. I’ve particularly been enjoying the latter – although I’m hoping to join the former with the communal exercise (yoga!) as I’m settling into my life here and now have a more manageable work schedule.” – Celebrating inspiration at Sculpture by the Sea

December – Sydney, Byron Bay

December whizzed by in a matter of minutes it seems. Between countless out-of-town music festivals I was volunteering at, to the realization that my time in Australia may be coming to a close in April, sooner than I’d like to think, I kept myself overly busy with work, creativity, and hanging out with as many friends as possible. It was perfect to end the month disconnecting from all things social media and camping in Byron Bay to ring in the New Year at Falls Fest.

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“When I was walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I thought back to when I was 13 and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time with my dad at one of my many basketball tournaments in San Francisco. When I think back to where I was at that age, a decade ago now, it’s remarkable the changes I have gone through. From an anxious, hesitant little girl who had no idea what was ahead of her, to where I am today, I hardly recognize that person anymore.” – Walkabout across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

I’m still brewing up some solid goals for 2014, but I do know that I want to travel to at least 3 new countries: New Zealand, Fiji, and probably either Canada, Japan or Mexico…(suggestions welcome). I also want to see Hawaii this year to sleep on the beach, hike a volcano, and surf at sunrise.

Happy 2014, I’m ready for you.

Watch me –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDSazU1fvsg