Wrap Up: April 2018

Things to Do in Santa Cruz CA

April brought good weather, fond memories, and my last full month in the US before heading off to Europe. As I’ve been doing for most of the past six months, I spent half of my time in San Francisco and the other half in my hometown of Santa Cruz.

April also reminded me of how hard it’s going to be to leave California this time around. Except for the little taste I had of living in Greece this past summer, it was the first time in a long while where it felt like I had a small community that could build into something wonderful. 

It has been tempting to just make the decision that San Francisco will be my new base, but I know I can’t make that call for real until I go to Europe this summer and test out a couple of other potential bases. 

Even with the melancholy feels I’ve been having about leaving California again, I’m excited for the adventures that lay ahead of me. 

Iceland, the UK, and Portugal. Three countries that I’ve never been to before, and I get to visit all of them over the next few months. 

Without further ado, this was my April! 

PLACES & MEMORIES  

Santa Cruz | I spent a good chunk of the month in Santa Cruz enjoying family time, and the beautiful sunny weather that my hometown has been enjoying lately. 

It was the first time I was home for Easter in a long time and I forgot how wonderful of a holiday it is, mainly because so much chocolate is involved! 

One of my friends from San Francisco came to stay with me for a night mid-way through the month. I showed him the best surf spots, my favorite lookouts, and we went hiking at Wilder Ranch before enjoying a delicious dinner by the sea at one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Cruz – Riva Fish House.

Wrap Up: April 2018 | Santa Cruz, California | USA Travel

Wrap Up: April 2018 | Santa Cruz, California | USA Travel

San Francisco | This month in the city was filled with friends’ birthdays, hangouts, and dates. I started off the month with my friend Danny’s housewarming ‘Flannels and 40s’ themed party, and ended it with my friend Urvi’s ‘thirty-onesie’ themed party (we all wore onesies and bar hopped around the Castro. And yes, it was just as amazing as it sounds).

In between, I enjoyed movie nights, sister dates, karaoke Mondays at Martunis, 90s-themed birthday parties, dancing all night in SoMa and the Mission, and going on plenty of hikes with various friends – from Lands End to Stinson Beach. 

I also saw Vance Joy at the Greek Theater, and remembered how much I love that venue when it’s a clear warm night, went to Tinderella (the modern musical!), and met up with my college housemate, Bre, who I hadn’t seen in years, for Indian food and drinks with a couple of our other sorority sisters who were in the city. 

Wrap Up: April 2018 | Stinson Beach, San Francisco, California

Wrap Up: April 2018 | Lands End, San Francisco, California

READS 

I started off the month reading Judy Blume’s new adult novel, In the Unlikely Event. I admit, I was never was one of those pre-teens who was into reading The Baby-Sitters Club books. They just never caught my attention.

But, I was intrigued with Blume’s latest adult novel and what it would be like since she has written mostly young adult fiction for so long. I was especially intrigued because the novel was written off of true events that happened in the small New Jersey town where she grew up. 

I will say that Blume is a great storyteller and writes detailed character profiles, but I felt like she had too much going on at once and no clear focus to the story at times. This book had too many characters to keep track of, and although it was an enjoyable read, I was left feeling a bit empty by the end of book. 

Wrap Up: April 2018 | Reads | In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume

My second read was a completely different genre and feel altogether. It was the last book of Gillian Flynn’s that I hadn’t read yet – Dark Places. 

Dark Places was nowhere near as creepy as her first novel, Sharp Objects, but still a very well written suspenseful murder mystery. 

Flynn has a crazy way of crafting dark and disturbing stories, keeping you at the edge of your seat while never giving away too much, and Dark Places did not disappoint on that front. 

I devoured this book within a few days, I literally couldn’t put it down at times because I had to know what happened. I’m kind of sad that I have no more Gillian Flynn books to read now, but I look forward to when she writes her next one. 

And lastly, I picked up the hilarious and witty memoir by Kristin Newman, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. The book is basically a look at her sexcapades around the world when she’s in her 30-somethings, travel romances, and the difference between who she is in her home life and her abroad life.

I found myself relating to many of her stories and laughing along with her, and the sometimes awkward cultural misinterpretations that come about when you get involved with someone from a different country. And also how those romances are often effervescent yet elusive. 

This was another quick read that I flew through within a week. I loved the honesty, the solo female travel empowerment, and the anecdotal nature of the chapters. It felt like a close friend telling you their latest entertaining travel story. 

ROUTINES 

I’ve been in love with my daily meditation routine that I’ve been doing for the past month and a half. I usually use the Headspace app, and it has done wonders with my perspective and how I choose to handle situations these days. 

It’s eye-opening how taking out a little time each day for mindfulness has been so good for me. I plan to keep it up even while I’m traveling, because I like who I am better when I choose to meditate. 

Wrap Up: April 2018 | Meditation Routine | California

Another routine that I just started getting back into is tracking my daily expenses. I downloaded the Trail Wallet app (recommended by my friend Pascale), and I’ve started getting into the habit of tracking what exactly I’ve been spending my money on, and on average how much I spend per day. 

I’ve always been a numbers person – statistics was my jam in college – so I always find it interesting when I’m able to track the data from a step back. 

Plus, it’s a practical way to be financially smart and start saving more efficiently, especially once I start traveling again in countries like Iceland and the UK, because they ain’t cheap. 

PUBLISHED WORK 

I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes type of work on The Atlas Heart these days, for SEO purposes mainly. This basically means that I’m making my site more attractive for Google, so I show up higher in searches and I keep growing my traffic. 

But besides all that, and my sporadic posts on this blog, I’ve been trying to increase the amount of published guest and collaboration posts I’ve been doing on other blogs. 

Here are a few collab pieces I’ve written for other publications in the past month: 

PLANS  

Since this wrap-up is coming out a bit later than usual, I’m just finishing up my week in Iceland now. I arrived on Monday, rented a car with a friend for 5 days, and I’m now back in Reykjavik to chill out, catch up on work, and see more of this colorful little city. 

I’m leaving for the UK tomorrow, where I’ll be for the next month, starting in Scotland to explore more of my family history and see a couple of friends who I haven’t spent time with in awhile. 

Then it will be on to England for birthday festivities, a festival on my actual birthday (where I’m seeing one of my all-time favorite bands headline – The xx), and a couple of weeks after that which aren’t planned yet. 

And finally, I’ll be heading to Portugal in mid-June to start creating a little base for myself this summer.

Wrap Up: April 2018 | Iceland
I’m in Iceland!

I have a number of friends who are planning to come visit me, from the US and other parts of the world, so I’m looking forward to playing host and still enjoying quality time with the people who make me happy, even if I’m in a country where I don’t know anyone yet. 

It will be an interesting few months, and I couldn’t be happier that summer is finally just around the corner. 

Next up – the UK, turning 28, and updates on life in Portugal. 

Until next month, friends! 

*Note this post contains affiliate links. They help run this site at no extra cost to you, and, as always, you can rest assured that all opinions are my own.

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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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