Changes Happening at IC + A New Blog!

Here’s the thing. IC started out chiefly as a travel blog. Light-as-a-feather, carefree, newly-graduated Haley anticipated having all the time in the world to travel back in 2013. And if she didn’t get to travel far, she’d still spend every weekend heading to a new place or finding a new adventure to write home about. So she thought, at least. Because this is what a lot of 23-year-olds think for a while.

Alright, enough third person.

Now, of course, life took some turns that, while awesome for my overall development and mental health, prevented me from having as much vacation time or money as I thought I would at this point. While I still get to travel an incredible amount (comparatively speaking), I am now in a position where I only get 2 weeks a year to actually take off and travel. What little time I had before (5 weeks, for anyone curious) has now become relatively miniscule.

I also noticed that my “off-travel-topic” posts, ranging from mental illness manifestos to interviews with Youtube-stars-in-the-making, kind of ran the gamut. And boy, was that a random gamut. However, I also noticed that a lot of my best posts had to do with confidence, insecurity, and anxiety.

So what did I do? Well, I started a new blog for those things called Building Your Bold.

BYB (as I like to shorten it) is all about confidence, insecurity, anxiety, and everything related to those things. It’ll be a weekly+ feature blog with new posts every Sunday or Monday and occasionally Thursday. In other words, it has that one key thing that IC has always been missing: consistency.

I feel confident (pun intended) that I can write something fresh and new about these topics every week, so I am choosing to do that with Building Your Bold. Moreover, many of the IC entries under those topics will eventually be moved over to BYB.

So where does this leave IC, you ask?

Well, first of all, IC ain’t goin’ nowhere. There is too much good material already on here to let it fold. Moreover, I will forever and always continue to blog about my travels here, even if I only go on 1-2 trips a year. Even if none of you guys read it, this is my “public diary” for some of the highlights of my life, so that it will remain.

To keep the blog going for the rest of the year, I will also try to be more diligent about writing about my local LA adventures. Given that I live in one of the most vibrant, entertaining, and overall poppin’ cities in the U.S., I don’t see why I can’t come up with at least one good entry a month–even if I’m not oozing wealth or free time out of my pores.

What to expect from IC moving forward

My goal for IC right now will be one well-done entry per month about LA living or general travel, unless I actually go on a trip. If I go on a trip, I will always have at least a few entries related to it. All of my entries moving forward will be complete with awesome pics and good stories, as they were with the Australia trip.

Anything related to the topics in the “Life Stuff” category on this blog will eventually be moved to Building Your Bold and from here on out, that blog is where I’ll publish anything related to those topics (which, again, are things like confidence, insecurity, relationships, anxiety, etc.)

Obviously, my primary goal with IC is to provide meaningful, entertaining information to you wonderful readers, so hopefully these changes do not impact your interest in this blog. Moreover, I hope that you do end up checking out Building Your Bold and reading the entries there each week. My written body of work is always evolving and I will always keep you all in the loop. Thank you for always being incredible–without you guys, I’d be nowhere.

Sincerely,

Haley

p.s. I know it’s kind of late in the game to say this, but…Happy 4th! Eat plenty of patriotic red, white, and blue for me. My stomach can only hold about 15-20 but my heart yearns for more.

 

Australia, day 1: A triathlon of a trek (+ an announcement!)

It’s 5:00 am on a Thursday here in Australia. My body thinks it’s noon on a Wednesday in California and that I should either be at work or devouring buckwheat pancakes at brunch (if only). Alas, here I am, hunched over my brightly lit laptop and likely the only non-beach jogger awake right now at this hotel.

Oh, right. It might be good if I mention what’s going on with the trip in the title. Yes, I will be in Australia for the next nine days! The last time I wrote about traveling was some fourteen months ago and, since then, I’ve been inundating you with hypothetical letters to teenage girls and job search pep talks. What can I say? We’re not known for having a niche market over here at IC. I write what my frantic little mind deems appropriate to write at the time and I cross my fingers that you guys get something out of it each time. Knowing that I have 2 or 3 of you who do just warms my heart, let me tell you.

Now, I’ve experimented with different types of travel blogging in the past – some more review-focused, some more story-focused – but I think the approach I’m going to take this time is going to be much more visual. After all, I have a big-girl camera now. One does not complain about camera crappiness for so long and not buy a new one to take nice pictures with. Especially in freaking Australia. Australia!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a logophile if you’ve ever met one. Words were my first love and I want to write hundreds of them on pages all the time. But I’m learning that so much can be said with so little. I will likely put a funny/interesting story or two in each entry, along with a few travel tips, but I’m really hoping that you get a new desktop background out of one of my entries. I’ll try to blog every single day, though it’ll always be 14-17 hours ahead of you stateside homies. Yes, I’ll be writing to you…from the future!!!!

Anyways, since today was our first day in Port Douglas, Queensland, and the five of us (my dad, my dad’s girlfriend, my two brothers, and I who are on this trip together) are the real-life embodiment of the walking dead, we didn’t go crazy today. Sadly, the big-girl camera was too tired to come out, so these are pretty Snapchat-esque. As in, directly from Snapchat (with some ethical saturation editing to match what my little eyes actually saw, of course). Voila:

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We found a tiny blue jellyfish on the beach in Port Douglas. He was too cute, even if he wasn’t with us anymore. Is that disrespectful?
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Sorry in advance for keeping the geotag intact.
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The beach near our hotel, the Pullman Resort, in Port Douglas.

I didn’t eat dinner last night, because I figured I had begun my day with Ruffles and ended it with french fries and that I’d be good. A mistake was made there. I’m about to eat my lampshade.

Up ahead in just a few hours: snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef (yeah, I never thought I’d say that in my life. Ever). Hopefully, tomorrow’s entry will NOT put you to sleep like this one might have.

Speaking of sleep, before I go catch, like, 30 more minutes of it, I have a special announcement. I am starting a new blog! It will be called Building Your Bold and will be focused on helping women (or anyone, really) find confidence in their twenties and beyond. I know that confidence has been my biggest issue for the majority of my life and the world we live in doesn’t make it any easier on me (or, rather, us). We tend to think these issues will subside after teenagedom, but we are more often than not sorrrrrely mistaken about that. Since I know many of you feel the same way, I think it’s time that we have a safe space specifically to deal with and talk about this issue. I hope to launch the site by the end of the month, so I’ll keep you posted! Yay for building confidence!

That said, IC will, of course, continue in full swing, but I might be narrowing my niche back down to experience/lifestyle/travel blogging. My goal is to try to return to my roots by focusing on local (as in, LA area) adventures as well as outside travel, but we will see how that works out (don’t you love how sure I sound??). In addition, I will try and post at least once a week consistently on here from now on. Yay for goals!

Until tomorrow (er, 15ish hours from now), my cornsnakes! If you’re stateside, have a fantastic rest of your day. You’re in for a treat tomorrow.

-H

Travel tip: For long flights, pack a small, easy-to-access bag in your carry-on with a toothbrush, a razor, deodorant, face wipes, moisturizer, a hairbrush/comb, and a change of at least some of your clothes (I like to do a new shirt, new underwear, and new socks). You won’t just look way more fabulous, you’ll feel a lot better. Go on, girl (or boy, or however you identify)!

Japan 2015, Episode 10: Post-trip Pensiveness (plus a Poll)!

Looking back on any trip is always going to be as perfectly bittersweet as the Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate I’m eating right now. You have incredible memories – and the photos to prove it – but you’re also wishing you could have stayed just a little while longer. Or forever. You then imagine how much you’d miss your family, friends, and significant other if you stayed, but then your mind goes to “well, what if they had just come and stayed with me?”

Continue reading “Japan 2015, Episode 10: Post-trip Pensiveness (plus a Poll)!”

Semi-Solo: Sea-to-Sky Edition (or, put simply, my Pacific Northwest Trip), Part I

My dear, dear reading public.

Before you think for even one second that I have abdicated a life of adventure or bombastic antics, I am here to ring the buzzer. Not here! Not now! In fact, the adventure is on more than ever.

With another busy season behind me (*exhales sharply and exudes violent happiness*) and a surreal-seeming trip to Japan ahead of me (*repeat violent happiness*), I knew I needed to make the precious hours of my firm-mandated winter break special. As such, I took to my favorite area of the United States, the Pacific Northwest, to indulge in the splendor and beauty of the winter season up here.

Continue reading “Semi-Solo: Sea-to-Sky Edition (or, put simply, my Pacific Northwest Trip), Part I”

The Sands of Time

Last Saturday was a novel packed into short story form. Wrought with hundreds of miles, arid sand, warm waves of rock, and a sky as big, blue, and clear as a tropical ocean, I’m surprised that a 24-hour period could even handle this. As my good friend, Nadine, and I rose as slowly out of bed that morning, we could feel the tug-of-war with the sun to rise with us. And so was it that 5:35 am marked the beginning of a mystical (and I do mean “mystical” – things got existential up in this B)  journey to the unexplored lands of Canyon Country, Arizona.

Continue reading “The Sands of Time”

UK and Ireland 2014: Edinburgh – The Medieval Playground

Day 2 

Edinburgh greeted us with open arms the minute we stepped into Waverley station. As if the lusciously green scenery build-up on the train was not enough, our first meal upon arrival was the best baked potato we ever had and the flat we had rented for the time here has a freaking garden in the back! Did I mention peoples’ accents here are awesome? Clearly, I’m setting you up for a story of an incredible couple of days.

And yes, I do mean stories, so bear with me. So here’s the rundown of where we…

Slept: A shared flat in a quiet area of the city about a mile away from Old Town. It was comfortable, warm, and easy-to-navigate for foreigners unaccustomed to things like shower switches, radiators, and funky key boxes. Speaking of showers, the only downside was the temperamental shower that seemed to love challenging me. Overall, though, it was a HUGE upgrade from our London place, which felt both literally and figuratively colder. Given the proximity to the city center, we would gladly stay there again.

Indulged: After settling in, we served our starving stomachs at Tailend, a great “chippy” near our flat along Leith Walk. What’s nice about this place is that you can make it as casual or fancy as you desire, as it offers both takeaway and sit-down options.

Adventured: Now we’re talkin’. Pubs, pubs, and more pubs. But seriously, what else does one do in Scotland? After practically inhaling a mound of chips (yes, paleo met the window and went out of it that night – nightshade inflammation, come at me bro!) and a barrel of cullen skink, we headed out and landed at The Royal Mile Tavern in Old Town. As it was our first night in the city, we chose to take a taxi and rely on our driver’s bar-smarts to direct us somewhere fun. The Tavern delivered, and even had live music to boot, with a pair of Scotsmen belting out everything from the Eagles to Bob Marley. We ended up meeting locals who escorted us to our next venue, Whistle Binkie’s. While The Tavern ran a bit more traditional, WB’s was a slightly younger crowd with punkier music and a more underground vibe. Much fun was had and, naturally for June and myself, dancing happened.

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The Royal Mile Tavern: Where good old fashioned whiskeys are so good, they light up the room.
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Jammin’ at Whistle Binkie’s.

We ended our evening/early morning with a private, free walking tour of Old and New Towns generously given by one of our new local friends. These are the moments that can neither be planned, nor would you even see coming anyway. Somehow, these moments are the most brilliant. The perspective of the city is so surreal at night, particularly given the multi-level structure of it. Edinburgh is essentially a town built on a series of other towns, which makes for some awesome alleyways and walking hills. It’s an old, medieval establishment through and through. There are cobblestone streets, castle-like buildings, and unspoiled spots of greenery. During the day, the city is so overwhelmed by the bustle of people that it distracts from the pure, historical beauty of the city. If you don’t mind the fact that I’m merely an amateur iPhoneographer, see below…

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The Scotsman Hotel. Crossing from Old Town to New.
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The Royal Mile by late night. Usually touristy but has a few great gems of restaurants nestled in the alleyways.
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Demonstrative of the ways of the alley…the alleyways.
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This was cool. Apparently you’re supposed to spit on the “heart” of the city for good luck. Do you think we passed by this and didn’t do it?!
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Admittedly-Instagrammed photo of June and I performing ninja stunts in front of the National Gallery of Scotland. Yes, we’re awesome.
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The Victorian-Gothic marvel that is the Scott Monument. Absolutely breathtaking at night, filtered or not. Speaking of, is “Leaning Tower of Pisa” already a border option, or can I patent that?!

 

We got home around 4:00, this time by walking like any sensible individual traveling in Europe. Edinburgh in late May is surprisingly tolerable weather-wise, even at night, so it was an extremely pleasant walk even though we were tired. Random observation: the sun doesn’t set until like 10:00 pm each night during this time of year and it rises around 4:30ish. Between the activities we do at night and the little we sleep thereafter, we really haven’t seen full-on darkness while here. Anyways, fatigued as we were, this didn’t stop us from giggling at ourselves for how often we seem to find ourselves in lucky, unprecedented situations. We slept from 5:00 am to 3:00 pm the next day, thus indicating the level of sleep we needed.

I assure you that the next day was not wasted, but I will have to recount it in the next entry. Dang it, Readership. I told myself that I wouldn’t ramble in my future entries and I totally have been. Can I just brand it as my personal style? I seem to have a penchant for excessive, grandiose words and stories that make you wish you were there.

Ah, I don’t hate it.

Oh, and…day 3’s comin’ up shortly.

Thought of the day: The best moments in life are often the results of original plans taking a different path than expected.

 

 

 

UK and Ireland 2014: Here in swinging London…

I would liken the past week to a whirlwind, but that wouldn’t do it justice. We’re definitely going to need to apply the plural here and say “whirlwinds”. The moving whirlwind swept away any plans I aspired to of having an empty apartment by Friday. The trip-planning whirlwind danced in and kept me up into the wee hours (appropriate language given my locale) as I hastily attempted to map out our adventure. Most prominently, the work whirlwind straight-up decided to have a gladiator battle with me. While I emerged victorious, it was in no way an easy win.

The above is just life.

“Whirlwinds” happen and no one is immune to them. If everyone were a dorkus like me and allocated time to writing down their “problems”, we’d all have a novel with many of us garnering a Pulitzer prize or two. I bring up my tribulations of the week not to complain and certainly not with the mind that you are interested. However, I do want you to take away from this the following: regardless of your current circumstances, you will eventually be doing something great. “Great” is ambiguous on purpose; you are to never limit yourself to your own possibilities.

Enter our UK trip.

As I may have, hopefully have mentioned in a previous post, my friend and I are embarking on a trip to London, Scotland, and Ireland from May 24th to June 8th. Many of you know I’m a solo traveler, in part due to flexibility, in part due to my inexplicable “extro-introvertedness”, and in part due to my individual time-off situation. This time, I’ve hand-picked some of the cream-of-the-crop in terms of travel partnership in my dear friend, June. Say “hi”!

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Speaking on that further, knowing a little about us will likely make the recount of our journey more interesting. We indeed have a lot of similarities. You see:

We’re both amiable, friendly, and kind.

We both have no problem meeting new people and engaging in deep, extensive conversation with them shortly after our introduction.

We both love to exercise and find ourselves attempting to turn any movement into exercise. Our favorite choice? Dancing.

We both can be extremely spontaneous and love to do things off the beaten path.

We’re both flexible and accommodating to what other people want or need (sometimes to our own detriment).

We have similar jobs and can therefore relate enormously well on that level.

Most importantly, June and I both have an ongoing infatuation with food and use any excuse to be around it more often.

Our differences are not negatives, but in fact make our time together all the more interesting and mutually beneficial.

While I love to plan, book in advance, and Yelp/Urbanspoon/Trip Advisor the life out of everything I do, June likes to find things on the go.

While I wear my emotions on my sleeve and send subconscious signals of my feelings that probably reach Pluto, June is contained and expresses emotions when appropriate.

While I’m still amidst the dating world, June has been married for some time and has learned wisdom on the subject of romance. I turn to her for a lot of advice in this area; she’s my roadmap in that way.

Oh, and – June is definitely a better dancer than me. I can admit it.

Day 1 

The flights from LAX-BOS and BOS-LHR were essentially half-sleeping, half-slap-happy-exhausted conversation. We hung out at LHR airport for a few hours before making our way to our flat in Southwark right near Borough Station and London Bridge (pronounced : SUTHerk, kind of like how Greenwich is pronounced GRENitch). As London was more of a stopover, we didn’t plan on doing much, but we ended up making a good time with our short journey.

Where we…

Slept: A shared flat in Tabard Street in Southwerk. Recommended as a safe, quiet, and convenient location as long as you don’t mind taking the Tube/buses/taxis a couple miles away to SoHo/Camden/Brixton for a more bustling feel. The restaurants within walking distance are largely pubs, but we were lucky enough to be directly next to a great Indian restaurant, Simply Indian.

Indulged: The Wetherspoon bar in LHR for breakfast, The Roebuck for lunch, and Simply Indian for dinner. See here and here for reviews of our lunch and dinner, respectively.

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Adventured: The London Bridge and near the Westminster Tube station. Near here we have a few notable attractions including the London Eye, the aquarium, and Westminster Abbey to name a few. We ended up walking around and taking pictures in front of monuments to feel like normal people for 5 minutes.

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After dinner, we ended up taking at taxi at around 12:15 am (in true European-style fashion) to Bar Rumba in SoHo. While it was not necessarily the least sketchy place I’ve been to, their combination of hip-hop, reggaeton, and dancehall jams made our dancing agenda on-point. What “some guy attempted to give us a suspect drink” experience? We owned it.

Learned our lessons: 

  • Buying “attraction packages”. I cannot accentuate the need to be careful and cognizant of limitations on these enough. We purchased a ticket to the Aquarium, London Dungeon, and London Eye for about 57 pounds. We only ended up using the aquarium one, as the London Dungeon stopped showing at 6:00 pm (we bought the tickets at 7:00) and the London Eye had an insanely long line at Sunset. Always be cognizant of the time you truly have to do things prior to buying tickets, as these are nonrefundable.
  • The Tube schedule. The Tube closes around 11:00 pm for most stations and doesn’t open back up again until 5:00, which means that relying on it for your quick and easy midnight club fix isn’t really going to work. Best to go out to dinner around 9 or 10 and go straight out from there, followed by a taxi home unless you can TRULY hang. The busses do run 24 hours a day, but using them will almost double your transit time.
  • Using Yelp for nightlife. Uh, not the best option, as hours are often misrepresented and events are usually not showing. I was in charge of finding a club to go dancing at last night and caused at least a 1-2 hour delay in out departure time. We were fortunate enough to have had an amazing night anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, our short rendezvous with London turned out to be exactly what we wanted: a brand new bite of a dish we had both already tasted. While we had both already visited London, we got to see another light of this bright, eclectic, international city. And rest assured, we will be back for more.

– H

Thought of the day: Be determined to have a good day, every day.

The Great Beaver State, or How to Properly Do (a large chunk of) Oregon in One Week’s Time

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In spite of my relatively limited travels throughout the region, I firmly maintain that the Pacific Northwest is the best kept secret of the United States. While the world and worlds beyond are aware of the rich history of New England, the bustling megalopolises of New York and Chicago, and the glitz and glam of Hollywood, the PNDubs gets a rap for the purported following attributes: rainy, cold, and depressing. My friends, that is exactly what the locals want you to think.

With lush evergreenery, a plethora of outdoor activities, and a restaurant scene that makes tastebuds sing, states like Oregon and Washington are anything but depressing. I was fortunate enough to spend an entire week in Oregon traveling alone. During the trip, I was able to experience the state in full panoramic view: from the windswept oceans, to the uniquely defined and vivacious pockets of Portland, to the serene mountains and even down to the sunkissed, arid climate of Central Oregon. I got to eat eel pie at a fancy French restaurant, drive on the beach, and ski on an active volcano. I got to bike across the Willamette River, sip tea in a Chinese garden, and buy some of the funkiest comics I’ve ever seen. I got to be a tourist and, dare I say, melted into the background as a local whenever I chose to be. I sometimes laid down with my computer at night and, while blogging about my days, sat in disbelief at my recently transpired experiences. I came back rejuvenated with great memories and an enormous reminder of the splendor and beauty of this world. If this cheesy paragraph is enough to convince you, I encourage you to visit.

…and now that you’re convinced – let’s start planning! 🙂

In the hopes of helping you along, here is a basic itinerary of what I did, along with more fun and helpful stuff.

PART I – BASIC ITINERARY

Day 1: Flew into Portland. Ate Peruvian in the upscale, posh Pearl District and spent some time in Sellwood-Moreland area, a fairly quiet, family-oriented area with a grand array of old Craftsman/Victorian homes. Stayed with a family I found on AirBnB, which I recommend far and above any other type of lodging any day. Stayed in Portland.

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Tanner Springs Park – Pearl District, Portland

Day 2: Biked from SM to downtown and spent the day there. Saw the Saturday/Sunday market, the library, the “token spots” of Oregon (Powell’s Books, Voodoo Doughnut, etc.) and spent the night exploring some spots in East Burnside, including the most expensive restaurant I’ve ever dined at in my life, ever. Stayed in Portland.

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Cherry blossoms in bloom near Saturday Market, downtown Portland

Day 3: Spent the morning/afternoon exploring more of natural/historical Portland (Pittock Mansion, Japanese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum) and later set course for Seaside. Spent the evening strolling the beaches and having dinner on “The Prom”, Seaside’s boardwalk and primary center of entertainment. Stayed in Seaside.

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Zen garden in Portland Japanese Garden

Day 4: Spent the day exploring the finest of the Northern Oregon Coast – Astoria, home of the famous Astoria Column and, of course, the Goonies house; Cannon Beach, which holds the gargantuan and impressive Haystack Rock as well as Ecola State Park and Indian Beach; Tillamook, where vast pastures and fun attractions (the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Air Museum) await thee; and Cape Lookout, where I got trapped in a marsh and fell in a pile of mud one can see some of the most breathtaking scenery on the Pacific Coast. Returned to and stayed in Seaside.

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Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach

Day 5: Headed due east for Mt. Hood and skiied there for the day. Later explored the area around my hotel in nearby Welches and found fantastic hiking in forests that looked almost prehistoric. Stayed in Welches.

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A terrible picture of Mt. Hood. But hey, it’s Mt. Hood!

Day 6: In a spontaneous fit of adventure, headed south to Smith Rock State Park and spent the day hiking most of the trails available. Went south another skosh to Bend and explored more nearby hiking as well as the charming downtown for amazing sushi. Stayed in Bend.

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Monkey Face Spire – Smith Rock State Park (near Redmond and Terrebonne, 25 minutes from Bend)

Day 7: Made the journey back up from Bend to Portland and saw Multnomah Falls, the Chinese Garden, and Forest Park. Rested up before enjoying delectable Argentine food and a blast of a show at the swaggalicious Doug Fir in east Burnside. Stayed in Portland.

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Forest Park, Portland

Day 8: Made like a local and hit up Mississippi Avenue and the Alberta Arts district for some satisfying art spotting and antinque-trinket shopping, not to mention otherworldly ice cream-tasting. Headed out in the late afternoon to return to make my journey back to life.

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Lavendar and Pear/Blue Cheese Ice Cream from Salt and Straw. That went into my belly.

PART II: COST FIGURES; HOW MUCH I SPENT ON…

Airfare: …is completely dependent on where you’re coming from. My flight from Phoenix was purchased about 2 and 1/2 months in advance and cost about $215 roundtrip.

Where I stayed: Peoples’ house on AirBnB (best option), motels (decent option), and hotels (if-you-must option). $44-120 a night. Backpacking is an option I haven’t explored, but I’m sure you could do that and go even cheaper.

How I got around: Rented a car. HIGHLY recommend if you want to see the varying landscapes of the state. $576 total (ouch, but worth it), and only because I was born in 1990. Yeah, there’s a $200 underage fee added to your rental bill if you are under 25, which is something to consider when you’re a child like me traveling. Lame.

I also spent about $120 on gas the whole time I was there – quite a bargain for the amount of ground I covered, but it helped that my car had half-decent gas mileage. That includes tips to the attendants who pumped my gas for me – how exciting that was to experience for the first time ever! 🙂

Where I ate: Portland is one of those cities that offers myriad food choices that appease anyone and fit any budget. I chose to go the more dollar-burning route and ate the vast majority of my lunches and dinners out. It’s the cross for an aspiring foodie to bear, I suppose. Meals, like anywhere, can vary in price from $5-105, but I opted to spend about $60/day on food on average and ate QUITE handsomely. Again, though, there are food trucks galore throughout the city and they are EXTREMELY good. Not as many chain restaurants, but you’ll find a few and do fine if you so choose.

What I did for fun: Portland and Oregon in general have a TON of attractions and things to do outdoors. That being said, most of these cost at least something. State parks are generally $5 for a day pass. Local attractions like the Pittock Mansion or Japanese Garden run about $9-20. Certain places like Forest Park or some of the falls are totally free for both parking and visiting. You can avoid the ore expensive sites and still have an absolute blast, particularly if you’re active and like the outdoors.

PART III: OTHER STUFF

Favorite parts of the trip: Cue obligatory “ALL OF IT”, but in the spirit of decisiveness: my meal at Le Pigeon (see “most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten in my life, ever”), Smith Rock State Park, and the concert at the ‘Fir.

What I’d do differently next time: Purchase an annual park pass to save money on parking, check the weather before going skiing a little more carefully, and visit Southern Oregon to see the Shakespeare Festival, Mt. Hood, and my uncle who lives in Roseburg. I’d also try out some of the Portland brewery tours, as those are extremely popular in the city. Don’t even get me started on the dunes in Florence!

You’d like this trip if…: you love the outdoors, you want both solitude and urban buzz within close range of each other, or if you love food. Depending on the type of you, you should probably also be cool with rain.

For more detailed info: Ask me. I’m an open book.

Happy traveling, or should I say living!

– H

Thought of the Day: Practice patience. Do something, wait 20 minutes, then decide if it’s ready to be done/sent/submitted/shipped. 

 

Life After Travel and ROTW: Rainbow Curry

As I stepped into the crisp and bustling night air of Los Angeles nearly two weeks ago, I couldn’t help but look around and drink in my surroundings. I saw the familiar panorama of buildings, all built no earlier than the 20th century. I saw signs in one language, one that is as familiar as my own reflection. I was face-to-face with my stepdad (who kindly picked us up from the airport), whom I hadn’t seen in 12 days. It felt like it had been months. Indeed, it was a moment that I took to register the fact that I am no longer in Italy. I can’t even believe it.

There is something about an amazing trip that is eternal, and I’m not just talking about the pictures. It is the heightened sense that you get for the world and the beauty that other places have – whether through the nature, people, food, or traditions. This stays with you forever. Often times, you end up appreciating your own home more, or in ways you didn’t before. This is a little more fleeting, but still important. Unfortunately, these trips are not without their rites of passage, and every great trip seems to end with a few days of bittersweet reminiscence. I won’t use the term “depression”, because you can’t go on a bike tour through a gorgeous country while surrounded by indulgence on every side and be “depressed”, but it’s easy to confuse the two feelings. Combine leaving Italy with a stressful going-home experience (on top of normal jet lag), and you’re looking at a solid day or 2 of this feeling…maybe a couple weeks.

I guess the point of this entry is to show that if you are currently feeling melancholy after an amazing vacation, you’re not alone. But I’m here to tell you that this too shall pass, and as long as you keep yourself occupied now that you’re back, you will feel better in no time! One of the biggest tips I have in addition to keeping busy is sharing stories of your trip with others. I know it seems counterintuitive, but sharing with others will make increase the longevity of the trip, make others happy, and give you good feelings. Finally, even if it’s super far away, start planning your next trip or special outing! No matter what, there is always more to do, always new places to explore.

To be honest, I am JUST now getting out of this feeling and starting to really appreciate the home I have. Yes, I know you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy for not initially being stoked on coming back to Laguna Beach, but rest assured that do I appreciate it – I simply enjoyed my trip a little too much 🙂

Though I am focused on being back in the comfort of home, I decided to be adventurous with a new recipe today. Unlike last week’s, it is largely of my own design. Granted, I looked around tirelessly for a curry recipe that encompassed all the ingredients I had on hand, and this recipe borrows from them all in some way. It turned out to be a yummy, but very mild curry. Spice aficionados, my apologies for getting your hopes up! Here it is:

Haley’s Rainbow Curry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Diet Compliance: Low-carb (without potatoes), paleo, vegetarian (if you can tolerate animal products), gluten-free

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

Why "Rainbow", you ask? Just look at this spread!
Why “Rainbow”, you ask? Just look at this spread!
  • 2 13.5-ounce cans of coconut milk (tip: try and get the kind without guar gum, such as that from Natural Value)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium carrot, slided into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1 small potato of choice (I chose Okinawan purple potato found at the Asian market)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 5 sprigs of Thai or regular basil (I used regular; Thai is better)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (Red Boat is the healthiest and best)
  • 1/4 cup yellow curry powder or paste
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves or zest of one lime (I used the zest)
  • cinnamon to taste

Instructions

1. As a first step, make sure you have all of your vegetables prepared and sitting on the table.

[no picture available; I was too dumb to do this]

2. In a large saucepan, mix the coconut milk and curry paste or powder to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. After it starts boiling, stir until smooth – about 2 minutes.

Smooth operator!
Smooth operator!

3. While still boiling, add the chicken broth, carrot, broccoli, red bell pepper, onion, potato, basil, lime, and fish sauce. Stir. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

4. Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are tender – 20 to 25 minutes.

Jacuzzi time for the broccoli family!
Jacuzzi time for the broccoli family!

5. After cooking, ladle the curry into bowls over rice, noodles, chicken, or just plan. Garnish with cinnamon.

I solemnly swear to get out of the habit of "eating-then-snapping".
I solemnly swear to get out of the habit of “eating-then-snapping”.

…And there you have it! This is a fairly easy recipe and stores well in the fridge for a couple of days. Again, it is extremely mild tasting, so the (rare) coconut-loving child can have a feast!

Also, if I can maintain the patience to do this, I will start making these nutrition labels (I called them “calorie-thingies” earlier) for each of my recipes. Last recipe didn’t count, because taralli should be saved for I-really-don’t-give-a-dang moments only. This label, I know, is not super comprehensive…let me get there ;-). Note especially that the amount of saturated fat is not listed – trust me, there’s a fair amount in this recipe, being made of coconut and all, so bear that in mind if you are watching your sat-fat for whatever reason (talk to the paleo folks about that!!).

NutritionLabel

Thought of the Day: Get into a routine of regular exercise early in your life. Later on, you’ll be glad you did.

-H

The Fabulous Misadventures of J&H

I don’t want to write this entry with the intent of complaining. I mean, come on. One does not simply travel through Southern Italy, surrounded by amazing people, other-wordly food, and incredible scenery and go, “Yeah man, that SUCKED.” Despite my scribblings the past two weeks, there are not even words to describe how amazing our trip was. That, my friends, is why I feel comfortable writing about yesterday’s going-home experience. It’s almost comical. Like, they should make a movie about it, it was that bad.

I will briefly recount the day we had yesterday, mostly courtesy of Alitalia Airlines.

The day started at 3:00 am at the Masseria San Domenico. With dreams of melanzana ripiene and spumone still in my head from the night’s dinner, we woke up and said our final goodbyes to the gorgeous resort that had housed or last Italian hurrahs. Goodbye, thalassotherapy pool! Goodbye, 200-year-old olive trees! Goodbye, out-of-place room in the hotel bar that looks like a British hunting lounge!

A car picked us up at 4:00 to head to the Bari airport. Tired as we were, and as Mercedez-Benzy as the “taxi” was, sleep didn’t happen, so we both settled for intermittent, meditative rest to prep for the day ahead. But oh, did we miscalculate the prep we truly needed.

What do you know: we arrive in Bari, still without our coffee, and our 6:30 am flight to Rome is canceled. No problem, the lady at the front counter said: a 7:30 flight is available. Enjoy your middle seats at the very last row of the plane! Cool, we said. But remember, 7:30 am in Italy means 8:00. Try 8:20. No big deal, we didn’t have a Rome to Frankfurt flight at 10:15 that we needed to be on or anything…

We arrived in Rome at around 9:20. The back of the plane was a great place to be at that time, because it forced us to get some HIIT-training done the minute we got off the plane. To the counter in Rome we went, to see if we could make our flight to Frankfurt despite cutting it close…

No chance. We left the Alitalia counter and went to Lufthansa. Here comes one of those pinnacle moments in comedy, the kind that become “famous scenes”. When we explained what had happened to the counter clerk, he informed us that because we missed our Rome-Frankfurt flight, we were also going to miss our Frankfurt-LAX flight. If we wanted to fly business class our of Frankfurt the next day, however, that was no big deal at all. We just needed $6,000 – per person. For a seat that folds into a bed. And maybe the privilege of asking for extra rolls with dinner.

We were relegated to booking a flight to Munich and flying from Munich to LAX on economy. For now, we thought, the battle has been lost, but not the war. We would go on to try and get business class multiple times from other sources.

Guys, I am in no way trying to offend anyone or come off as snooty when I talk about economy class. I fly economy class EVERYWHERE, including when I went to Europe in 2011 for study abroad. But flying economy after having flown business, living in unbelievable excess for a week, getting almost no sleep, and expecting to fly business going home is kind of a recipe for first-world-problem disaster. I admit that it’s ridiculous. I admit that it’s absurd. But there’s a reason I call the 11.5 hours we spent on the way home yesterday a “Spartan journey”…

Anyway, the fun didn’t end when we found the line to security. We were in it for about an hour. I kid you not, from the looks of the line, it rivaled that of the Vatican. It was absolutely soul-crushing. Had I not been so frustrated, I would have taken a picture. We got through it, found our gate, and once again had a delayed departure to Munich.

On the bright side, the Munich airport is SWEET! One could have a lot of activities there with enough time. We proceeded to talk to about 3 people from different Lufthansa desks, telling them our situation and attempting to get our business class seats back for the ride home. We came to find out that because there was an emergency landing in Rome and crazy weather throughout Germany, our flight was THOROUGHLY booked with waiting lists out the wazoo. One Lufthansa clerk, who was actually the most helpful, even told us that flying in economy was going to be “terrible”. I admired her honesty.

Our final attempt to get back into business occurred at the gate desk. We were on the waiting list and remained there. And that was that. To economy class we went, and stayed.

So…was it that bad? Actually, no. We both had books (mine: “Unnatural Creatures”, a series of stories compiled by Neil Gaiman) and access to the same TV as business class. The biggest difference is the sleeping/space situation. I will admit that compared to business class, this is absolutely miserable. We also didn’t get little “care packages” with toothbrushes and eye covers and stuff, so I smelled and looked like a homeless cat when I got off the plane.

When we finally arrived in LA, we were the last bags of the carriage and moved ever-so-slowly through customs. It was probably about the 9th line we’d been in that day, so when it was finally done, I felt this Shawshank-esque sensation of not knowing what life was like outside lines. I told my mom that I probably have some killer sick delts from carrying around my 30-pound backpack all day, though.

So, what about this story is of interest and use to you? I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps you are amused, or perhaps you will take away the following lessons…

  • Travel, no matter how enjoyable, serene, or incredible, is inevitably composed of uncertainty, whether elongated or brief. Accept the fact that no amount of planning will get rid of the laws of randomness and uncertainty.
  • DO NOT RELY ON ALITALIA. Italy is an all-around amazing country and I will be back again and again and again. However, I’d sooner give up taralli than patronize their national airline again. Okay, maybe I’m being a little grumpy. But seriously, they’re sketch. If you can, book any Alitalia flight you take at least 2 hours before you actually have to.
  • In general, don’t be afraid of leaving long layovers for yourself. This was critical for us. We effectively had little time in between our flights, which meant that things like eating, resting, and using the bathroom came secondary to us getting places on time. I’m not saying you need to waste days in the airport, but be comfortable spending 2-3 hours in between flights just in case you have a delay along the way.
  • Finally, have moments to just sit and laugh about any misfortune you do face. One of the things that got my mom and I through the stress of our adventure was the time we took to make fun of ourselves and the situation. After all, we were lucky to get on a flight to the U.S. in general, and were even luckier to get home safe. Sure, our necks hurt and our stomachs are still turning from the “chicken” we had for dinner (and breakfast), but we’re here. We’re home. We’re happy.

That being said, do I have a thought of the day for this entry? I don’t know. I guess I’ll give one that encompasses everything I wrote above:

Expect the unexpected.

Trite, but true.

-H