I never expected 2017 to be a year to myself, but then again, I guess you never really know what life will bring you with each new year.
I should know better by now.
Even though I didn’t expect it to be a year to myself, I can say with full clarity now that I’m so very glad that it was. This was the year that I found my independence again, understood fully what I deserve in my life, and embraced my alone time.
I’m someone who is already pretty good at being alone. I’m an introvert, most of my pastimes are solo ones – reading, playing my guitar, listening to music, cooking. And my work is very much a solo pursuit, from writing to doing digital marketing for clients.
I’m used to being alone, but 2017 was a year where I really just had myself to pull me back up from my bootstraps, to lean on, to make sense of stressful, happy, and sad situations.
*EDIT* We have a winner!! CONGRATS to Toni! You’ll be receiving your book in the mail within a couple of weeks.
It has been so long since I’ve hosted a giveaway on this blog, but when I got an email in my inbox about an artsy new coffee table book about LA and Paris, I knew I wanted to learn more about it.
The book that landed in my inbox was called Why LA? Pourquoi Paris? by Diane Ratican, illustrated by Eric Giriat and Nick Lu. It’s a colorful book full of captivating artwork and words that paint an expansive overview of both cities.
I’ve heard Paris compared to New York a lot, but rarely have I heard Paris compared to LA. The comparison peaked my interest because, from a distance, it doesn’t seem like the two cities have much in common.
Here it is. That dreaded post that eventually happens to most, if not all longterm travel bloggers. The post that says they’re finally ready to stay in one place.
When I say I’m settling, I don’t mean in the way that I’m settling for less than I deserve, but more that I’m settling for my sanity and productivity. I’m settling for me, and I’m okay with that.
I remember reading these types of posts from the bloggers I used to follow religiously, and I would always feel let down, like they were a sellout somehow. That they gave up on travel. But the truth is, this lifestyle that I’ve been living for the past 4+ years, it’s not sustainable, at least not for me.
No matter which side of the American election you were on this November, you’ll have to agree that where America stands on the world stage is a bit uncertain right now. My country has decided to put someone in power who has no previous diplomatic or political experience. We have decided to choose a leader that wants to close America’s borders, and increase the ethnocentric mindset that already exists in this country.
This has caused alarm for a lot of American travelers and expats. I’m unsure if visa regulations will change for the worse in the next few years. I’m dreading how much anti-American sentiment I’ll get from other foreign travelers for simply being from a country who elected someone like Trump. I’ve already received backlash from other travelers in the last couple of weeks and I didn’t even vote for the guy.
I’ve been focusing more on the video side of blogging recently. I wanted to share with you all my brand spanking new vlog around my hometown of Santa Cruz, California.
I spent a day filming around my favorite spots to give you a glimpse of Surf City USA from a local. If you enjoy the video, make sure to like it and subscribe to my YouTube channel. I’ll be attempting to do weekly videos on there from all over the world, so stay tuned!
Tacoma has had a renaissance of sorts in the last few years. People used to comment on the “Aroma of Tacoma” in reference to the overbearing sulfur smell that used to hover over the city. Visitors would pass right on through on their way to Seattle, seeing Tacoma as a backwater city and one that wasn’t worth the stop.
A lot has changed in a short amount of time. Travelers are finally starting to see the draw of this Pacific Northwest city and all it has to offer. I was luckily enough to visit Tacoma for the first time this past July and I was impressed with the beauty, history, and local hangouts that I found there. If you’re unsure of what there is to do in Tacoma, or you’re simply looking for a new and lesser known city to explore in Washington – these are my recommendations on how to spend two days in the city.
If you told me a few months ago that I would soon ride a gondola in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, I would’ve thought you were crazy. A gondola in the Pacific Northwest? It seems like such an absurd notion, but it’s an experience that was all kinds of awesome once I experienced it for myself.
The only other time I stepped onto a gondola was in Venice, Italy back in 2011 when I was on a TopDeck tour around Europe. None of the 20-something year olds I was traveling with could afford a gondola ride by themselves, so 5 of us split the cost and piled into one together.
I’m a sucker when it comes to beautiful nature landscapes, lush forests, waterfalls, and, in general, Pacific Northwest vibes. Don’t believe me? Just check out my Instagram! When I received a recent invite for an InstaFam trip in Washington, including Mt. Rainier National Park, I said yes immediately.
I had heard about the magic of Mt. Rainier for awhile and I’d been wanting to visit the national park for myself before I left Portland. Life gets in the way sometimes though, and I thought I had missed my opportunity to visit the park, at least this time stateside. When I realized I would not only get to finally see the mountain up close, but to see it with a guide from Visit Rainier, I was beyond excited for the trip ahead.
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.
Before this year, I didn’t think much of visiting Detroit. It’s located on the other side of the country, known as one of the most dangerous places in the USA, and abandoned by droves of people not all that long ago. It doesn’t exactly scream postcard fun travels.
One of the aspects that beckoned me to visit, however, is my fondness for all things Motown. I wanted to see the birthplace of an era that had a huge impact on my love for music.
In Detroit, I discovered an enticing vibrancy to the city, even with all of the misconceptions I held previously. My Uber driver dropped me off at Eastern Market from the Greyhound station, and he said it best as I hopped out of the car: “If there’s one way to describe this city, it’s that it has a whole lot of soul.”