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122 In Lifestyle/ Travel

Charlotte, You’re a True Gem

As I’ve mentioned, there are multiple reasons I set out on this trip. One of the main ones being that I’d like to find a new place to call home. At the start of this journey, Charlotte was towards the top of that list. Now that I’ve spent about a week there, let me tell you where it stands now.

I’m going to do this post a little bit differently than the others. Rather than going in chronological order, I’m going to focus on one place at a time, sharing with you the places I visited, the things I ate, and some of my favorite moments.

One of my first days in town I headed down the road to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. I stayed in Uptown/4th Ward so it was a very easy walk from my Airbnb.

This museum had three floors of art to explore, as well as an outdoor area with a few sculptures like you see above.

The Bechtler has different artist’s collections come through on rotation so it’s a museum you can visit each time you’re in town. For $8.00 and an hour/hour and a half of your time it’s certainly worth a visit.

The particular exhibit I saw will be in place until September 10th, so If you find yourself in Charlotte this summer, you should definitely stop on by!

I’m not sure what level of artistic sophistication you possess, but this absolutely looks like a break dancing flubber to me. Please tell me you see it…

Overall, I thought this exhibit was highly entertaining. The eclectic and wide range of artwork definitely had me sitting back and trying to figure out what exactly I was looking at. As you can see in some of his sculptures, he used a lot of random components to create his pieces and in doing so, certainly brought mixed media to another level.

If art isn’t you’re thing, let me share with you some of the meals I had while I was in town. One of the first lunches I had was at The King’s Kitchen. It was a mix of your typical American fare but with a southern twist. Those collard greens with big chunks of bacon were amazing! I also had the green beans, grilled salmon, and fries. It was on the pricier side for lunch but as you can see, it’s quite a good bit of food.

Another meal I had (twice) was the gluten free pepperoni pizza from Pure Pizza in the 7th Street Public Market. I had it multiple times so I’d say that’s sending a pretty clear message. It had great flavor and a really light and crunchy crust, which anyone that eats gluten free will know is a rare texture found in any baked product. I also did a little bit of shopping while I was there and got some really pretty earrings from CLT Find. It was a small store that had mostly accessories and local goods. The market also had other places to eat, grab coffee, a sweet treat, or pick up some groceries from the small Italian market. I would highly recommend making a visit to this market if you’re in town.

Let me start by saying this photo does not do this place justice. I had heard about Coco and the Director being a great coffee spot and it truly was an awesome find. The latte I ordered was delicious, the staff was extremely warm and welcoming and they had a really neat seating set up. They had your typical area with tables and chairs but they also had a bunch of stadium style seating with pillows where you could lounge-so neat! On top of all that, they also had a loft style second floor (where I sat) where you could look out and see the street and do some people watching. Along with coffee, they sold some local goods as well and had a fresh meat counter where you could grab a Cuban sandwich. I didn’t have anything to eat, but by the smell of the store, I should’ve!

Another museum I visited was called The Mint, and it’s located right next door to the Betchler. If I had to pick favorites, I’ve got to go with The Mint. For $12.00 you can spend a few hours exploring some of the most “out there” art I’ve personally ever seen. I took quite a few photos so hopefully that will give you a better idea of what I’m describing.

Was really confused by what the message was with this piece- feel free to provide your insight.

I loved this piece. It had a bunch of layers to it where the artist had trimmed pieces of paper out and piled them on top of one another, giving it a really neat sense of depth.

This installation was my favorite by far. The artist put different random objects on the ground against the wall and then set up different colored lightbulbs at a bunch of different angles. Then dozens of thin sheets of glass of varied size were placed evenly next to one another. I wish this photo did it better justice because it looked like a wave of glowing colors when you would walk by it quickly. I posted a video of it to my Instagram story the day I visited and if you ever want a more in depth preview of what my posts will consist of feel free to follow me there @thegreatvacate.

A desk for a porcupine, perhaps?

The Mint had quite a few other installations that I really enjoyed but unfortunately not all of them allowed photography.

This is just a small collection of some of the things I did while visiting Charlotte that I felt were worth recommending. If you find yourself in the area and make it to any of these spots, I’d love to hear about your experience!

There were a few other places I visited and would like to mention, however I don’t have photos to accompany them. The Cellar at Duckworth’s was a really cool spot that I would highly recommend. Duckworth’s has your typical sports bar vibe/food but if you go downstairs to “The Cellar” it’s a totally different experience. Think modern day speakeasy with amazing cocktails (I’m looking at you Smoked Peach Margarita) and delicious food. I just had a couple appetizers but they were all so, so good. The jalapeño candied bacon was to die for. It’s just as good as it sounds and had a pretty intense heat to it.

I also grabbed a drink at The Workman’s Friend which was a quick seven minute uber from Uptown. They had a bunch of different beers and some really unique cocktails that you could either enjoy inside or out back on their patio beneath some twinkle lights.

While I managed to do a lot during my week in Charlotte, it somehow didn’t feel long enough. I never made it to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, the Lenny Boy Brewery, or over to Crowder’s Mountain so I’ll definitely be needing to make another trip back. I’m not sure if it’s going to be the next place I call home, but my visit there certainly helped confirm that it’s a place I’d like to spend some more time in. I’m about 1/3 of the way through my trip so I’ll have to see what other potential options that brings me!

Thank you for being patient during my mini hiatus, but I hope you enjoyed this post and found it worth the wait!







111 In Lifestyle/ Travel/ Wellness

And Off I Go

What were you doing exactly one year ago? Can you remember? If it was an average day, or even a slightly above average day, your probably don’t. For one reason or another, most people tend to hold onto negative memories a bit more effortlessly than the positive. Maybe it means we take the good moments for granted. Or maybe we simply don’t realize the grand, beautiful, Happiest-I’ve-Ever-been moments until after they’ve passed us by. Either way, I plan on putting more of an effort towards holding onto the wonderful, simple, average daily moments in an attempt to collect as many happiest-I’ve-Ever-Been moments. But before we do that, lets rewind.

We’re going to hop backwards to my day one year ago. On that day, I’d spent months prior daydreaming about the idea of leaving my current job and traveling the world. I knew there was so much I hadn’t seen and I was terrified of waking up one day, ten years into the future, having not accomplished a single dream I had for myself. I knew that it was up to me to make sure that didn’t happen. That decision meant leaving my job (and while I didn’t know it at the time- temporarily moving back home) and starting to work towards my dream of travel and exploring so much of the world I had yet to see. So one year ago, I was driving to my second-to-last day of my old job and not even five minutes into my drive, I was struck on the passenger side of my car by someone who ran a stop sign. Up until that point I had never been in an actual car accident and had no idea what to do. I already felt the immense stress that comes with leaving a job, now I had this car accident to deal with on top of everything else. In that moment I felt so blocked, like everything was standing in my way. Looking back, that was a really selfish way to think.

I had chosen to quit my job, in an effort to work towards a dream. With big decisions comes big stress, so there was no one to blame for the way I was feeling. While someone running a stop sign wasn’t something I could have stopped, it was still my reality and what I did have control over was how I’d move forward. I was fortunate that no one was injured and while getting in a car accident and dealing with the aftermath is a handful, it could have been so much worse. Now we all know hind sight is 20/20, and let me assure you, the above was not my perspective while I was going through this ordeal, but that whole situation looks so different to me now. That day that felt like it could not get any worse and like the whole world was against me, really doesn’t have a vast impact on my present day. Did it suck to go through? Yes. Did it create problems that I had to deal with for weeks? Yes. Was it the actual end of the world? Absolutely not.

What’s the point of this story you ask? The point is to remind you that on the day you feel like everything is standing in your way and like you’re forever stuck in your current reality, you’re going to be wrong. It is up to you to grow and learn from your experiences. It’s hard, and we don’t always learn it the first time around, but you’ve got to try. So many of the people that I’ve explained my trip to have said how they think that sounds so fun and they wish they could do it too. Every time I hear someone say some version of that sentence, it takes all of my self control not to shake them and tell them YOU CAN! While your dream may be different than mine or your route may take a different path, you can absolutely have whatever dream you can conjure up. If you want to sail across the world, then start taking the steps to get there! That dream might take someone six months to save up the money to achieve it will it takes another person five years. Would we all want to be able to snap our fingers and have all the tools necessary to achieve our dreams? Sure! Would we get to feel the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve finally gotten exactly what we want and it’s because we worked out butts off to get it? Probably not.

Plain and simple. If you want something, you can have it. Make it a priority, work a little harder, stay open to the possibility that your wildest dreams may change along the way to achieving them, and don’t compare your path to anyone else’s. You’ve. Got. This.

Now that my adventure has begun, I’m going to keep finding excuses to float in the ocean, dive in head first, and keep collecting all the Happiest-I’ve-Ever-Been moments until my brain runs out of space.


135 In Lifestyle/ Travel

Local Venture before the Adventure

The time has finally come. It is officially the month that my travels begin! Excited, nervous, and overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to cover it. As I was working to tie up all my loose ends back home and checking everything off my to-do list, I realized something. I was preparing to race off and see the country, but there were so many places in and around my home town that I had yet to explore. Upon having this thought and an upcoming day off from work, I decided to do some local exploring.

Where did I venture to you ask? The Jupiter Lighthouse of course! This lighthouse has been standing tall since 1860 and hasn’t missed a night of shining it’s light over Jupiter for the past 100 years! The tour I went on lasts about two hours and costs $12.00. You get to climb the lighthouse, explore the restored WWII building which has  been converted into a museum, tour the Tindall Pioneer Homestead, and more!

The climb up the lighthouse consisted of 105 steps around a winding staircase. There are windows through out the lighthouse so you’ll feel a cool breeze the entire time ( I feel this is important to mention because I was expecting it to feel like climbing a humid, unventilated, tower- I was wrong). As you make your way up you’ll get multiple view points, each one exceeding the last.

Once we made it to the top I was taken aback by the stunning views. I’ve lived here most of my life, and I’ve seen this view from flying overhead, but there’s something about standing up in the air with sprawling views all around you that makes it even better. The wind breezing past and the smell of salt rising up made it all the more enjoyable.

After the climb down we were taken around some more of the grounds and educated about it’s history. You learn about the Indians that settled there and their battle to maintain this land as their home. You also learn a bit more about what it took to be the keeper of the lighthouse. We then viewed the Tindall Homestead which was still fully furnished and even got to try one of the most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever had straight from the garden!

If you ever have the chance to visit the Jupiter Lighthouse I would highly recommend it. It’s good for all ages (pending they are tall enough to climb the lighthouse), it’s inexpensive, educational, and you’ll get some great photos out of it!

While I’m extremely excited for my trip, I’m so glad I took the time to explore a little bit more of my home. I realize that traveling the country for months on end is not something everyone can do, but we’re all capable of taking the time for a staycation.  If you think that isn’t feasible, think again! Most museums and galleries have days with free or discounted entry. If that isn’t in the allotted budget, you could explore a local park or just spend the afternoon walking around town and see where you end up! Pop into that shop you’ve passed every day on the way to work but have never ventured into! I encourage everyone to just take the time to explore your surroundings. We all have a list of places we want to visit and trips we want to take, but I bet there’s plenty of your hometown that’s left to be explored.

I look forward to sharing more with you all as my trip gets closer. I have approximately the first five weeks of the trip planned out and I’d love to share some of those details with you! Once the trip actually begins later this month, expect an influx of posts with all the details! I can’t wait to take you guys on this journey with me and see where this adventure ends up.

To ensure that you don’t miss a post, make sure to plug in your email to the right of this entry under “Never miss a post.” Once you follow those steps, you’ll be notified anytime I post a new entry.

Thanks for following along!

123 In Lifestyle/ Travel

The Best Lightweight Jacket

Hello there! Long time no talk. The wait is officially over- I found the perfect jacket. If you’re in the market for a relatively affordable, lightweight, jacket/vest/fanny pack super accessory- keep reading.

I’d like to introduce you to the jacket that will be accompanying me on all my travels this summer. It’s lightweight, water and stain resistant, and the sleeves zip off which turns it into a vest- making it the perfect accessory for your adventures in the warmer months. Did I mention it has 25 pockets, strategically placed through out the jacket to keep the weight of your items evenly distributed over your body? I didn’t mention that part yet? Shucks- keep reading and I’ll tell ya more!

How rude of me! I told you all her best qualities and didn’t even tell you her name. You can call her Sterling and she is created by the fantastic folks over at SCOTTeVEST. This jacket is available in a variety of colors, is machine washable, and also available in men’s sizes.

Now back to the pockets. I’m not going to go through what all 25 are intended for but I’ll share with you a few of my favorites. It has specific pockets to house your water bottle, sunglasses, pens and lip balms. It also has a pocket that fits different tablet devices- this spot could be used for a small book or notebook as well.

Impressed? I haven’t even told you the best part yet! There’s also a RFID blocking pocket to store your credit/debit cards, drivers license, and passport. What is a RFID you ask? Well, it’s a radio frequency identification device used by the lovely individuals that try to steal your identity/credit card information. You may be more familiar of hearing about these being placed in card slots at gas stations. With this jacket and it’s handy pockets, you won’t have to worry about it though!

SCOTTeVEST has a great website that provides even more details. If you’re on the hunt for a great, versatile jacket, look no further! I’m really excited to have this jacket on my journey. I think it will help me keep my items safe and readily available. Also, it looks like they’re currently having a sale! Happy shopping and safe travels!

118 In Lifestyle/ Travel

Back in Action

Hello there!

As you may (or may not) have noticed, there hasn’t been much to notice on the blog lately. I took an accidental hiatus. This post will recap the last month or so and will give you an idea as to what to expect within the coming weeks on TGV.

Let’s jump right in, shall we? I moved half way across the country- from Dallas back to Florida- and transferred to another job. It was a hectic few weeks of packing up my life and selling the bulk of my belongings in order to prepare for the move. I’ve been back in Florida for about two weeks and have started to get back into the groove of things. I’m loving my new position at work and it was great being able to spend Thanksgiving with my family without the usual “Sunday” feeling. You know the one- that feeling you get on a Sunday morning when you’re excited to have another day to yourself but there’s a looming presence of Monday hanging over you. Yeah, it was nice to not have that.

Dallas Studio

I left my little studio (that I loved so much) behind and have traded it in for a spot back home with my Mom. That’s right, I’m a mid-twenties college grad living back home with the fam. I’m a walking cliche and I don’t mind it one bit! I get to be close with the people that matter most all while saving up for my grand adventure!

The next few posts will focus on what camera I’ve decided to purchase for my travels, some details as to what gear I plan to purchase for my hikes, and the fears that have begun to settle in now that I’m back home and one step closer to my solo travels.

For those of you that stuck around during the hiatus, thank you for being patient with me. I want to get on a more consistent schedule so that you can look forward to new posts and I can keep myself accountable for completing the tasks needed in order to prepare for this summer.

For those of you that are new to The Great Vacate, welcome- I’m so happy to have you! As always, if you want to stay informed and be notified when there’s a new post, plug your email into the box at the bottom of the page that says “never miss a post.”

I’m excited for what’s to come and I hope you are too! Enjoy your week and this photo I took of the beach last week. Man I missed the ocean!

beach waves

118 In Lifestyle/ Travel

To Be or Not to Airbnb?

The time has come for me to start doing a bit of digging on what portion of my spending will be spent on accommodations.  In some cities, I’m fortunate enough to have friends that I can stay with which eliminates the cost of room and board. However, most cities I will be supplying my own place to call home. Enter the great Airbnb debate. The debate isn’t so much as to whether an Airbnb is a better option than a hotel ( because it is- duh) but whether or not I should be booking single units or just a single room.

For those of you that aren’t too familiar with Airbnb, let me break it down for you. It’s a service that’s predominantly for short term rentals, usually requiring a two night stay minimum, that gives you the option to rent an entire property (interior, exterior, the whole shebang). Or you can rent a room and share the other accommodations with your “host” or the owner of the property/unit. At first, I planned to only rent entire units so that I wouldn’t have to share space with a stranger. However, upon beginning my research process, I realized that I may be looking at things the wrong way.


Not only is it much more cost efficient to rent a room as opposed to an entire unit (in Charlotte, NC a unit I was interested in averaged between $55-$80/nightly where as a single room averaged at $34-$50/nightly), but there seemed to be quite a few other perks. Based on the reviews people left on their experiences with sharing accommodations with their host, they were positive overall. Some things people mentioned were that their hosts were great mini guides to the city they were visiting. They had someone only a few feet away that could suggest good places to eat, activities to try, and what areas of town were safe to travel on foot. These are all things that will be very important to me during my travels.


On the other hand, having to share space with a stranger could have its down falls. What if we don’t get along? What if I’m uncomfortable around this person I’ve made a monetary commitment with? What if they made 50 different Airbnb accounts to leave a bunch of raving reviews of their property but they’re actually a raging lunatic? I realize that the latter taking place is highly unlikely, but you get what I’m saying!

So what should be more important; Low cost and endless inside details on the place being visited? Or higher cost but total privacy and no chance of awkward midnight run-ins on your way to the bathroom?

Have any of you ever rented a single room via Airbnb? If so, what was your experience? If you haven’t, I’d still love to hear your thoughts as to what points you think are most important.

Lastly, I’d like to note that regardless of which route I take, I will only be staying in places with positive reviews in regards to safety, location, and accurate representation of their property. I won’t be staying somewhere that is new to Airbnb and has no reviews- I have no interest in staring in my own personal Lifetime movie.

135 In Lifestyle/ Travel

More Than Just a Name

If you’re reading this, you’ll know the name of this blog is “The Great Vacate.” I’m here to tell you the story of how the name came to be and how it almost wasn’t.

A few months ago I knew I wanted to start up a blog. I had one in college but I let it go soon after I graduated. I knew that this time around I wanted it to be better; the best that it could be. I enlisted a friend of mine that does web design and told her what I was wanting to do and asked if she could help me turn my idea into a reality. She said she could, so the brain storming began. I planned to do a general lifestyle blog and share the subjects that I was interested in- travel, style, cooking, and health. I had a name picked out, confirmed the domain was available, and we were ready to get started. I had no idea at the time that all those plans I had come up with were about to be replaced with something greater than I had imagined up until that moment.

It was a Sunday night, about a week after I had decided on a blog name and what my “vision” was, when things took a major turn. There was nothing monumental that happened that day, nothing to set it apart from any other. I had finished watching something on TV (I couldn’t tell you what) and got ready and climbed into bed. After a few moments of laying there, “The Great Vacate” popped into my head out of no where. I wasn’t thinking about the blog, or anything at all really, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. After a few minutes of tossing and turning I decided to get up (in my pitch black apartment) and walk over to my phone to search the name and see if it was even available; it was. I made my way back to bed and decided I needed to write this name down so that I remembered it in the morning. I started rummaging through my night stand (still pitch black) trying to find something to write on. After a few moments I came across a piece of paper, wrote the name down, left it on the night stand, and got back into bed. I spent the next two hours awake, my mind racing with ideas of what I could do with a blog with such a name.

Fast forward to Monday morning. I woke up and after doing the normal AM tasks, grabbed my laptop and note pad and headed out to get some coffee and research all the ideas I had accumulated from the night before. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but needed to look over some points to figure out if I could pull it off. After a couple hours of research, I knew that I wanted to move forward with my idea, with my solo trip.

As I walked home, I called my sister to tell her about my plan. She’s pretty use to me calling her up with my next “great idea” so I wasn’t sure of what her reaction would be. As it turned out, she thought it was one of my best ideas yet! After speaking with her I was feeling great. I knew this was something I wanted to do and I had the support of one of the most important people in my life.

Once I walked up stairs and sat my things down I noticed the piece of paper on my nightstand, (you didn’t think I forgot to tell you the main point of this story did ya)? I had completely forgotten that I had even written the name down since I had remembered it upon waking up. I walked over and picked up the sheet of paper to unfold it, not having a clue what it was. Once the sheet of paper was completely unfolded, I was shocked with what it was. It was a copy of the poem I read at my Grandma’s funeral earlier this year. My Grandma was (and will always be) one of the people I love most in this world. She was my very best friend and the person that I felt my truest self with. We frequently spoke about our unique bond and how in another life we were sure we were sisters, or at least the best of friends. She was my adventure seeking, positive thinking, bright light of a human that I looked up to in every way.


I spent time with my Grandma regularly, and we talked on the phone frequently. Anytime I would call and we would decide to make plans she would say, “What kind of mischief are we going to get into today?” My picking this piece of paper to write this specific bit of information on was every sign I needed. I know my Grandma, and I can tell you with absolutely certainty that this was her way of asking, “What kind of mischief are we going to get into?”

Well Grandma, I’ll tell you. Our mischief will consist of so many of our favorite things. There will be flying, long drives, walks through forests and up mountains. There will be many laughs, with new friends and old, and chocolate, lots of chocolate.

So for anyone that’s worried; worried about my solo travels and what obstacles I may face, I’m here to tell you, there’s no need. I’ll have my partner in mischief with me every step of the way.

A photo by Michael Hull.

125 In Lifestyle/ Travel

Some Literary Preparation

It’s been a few months since I’ve read a book that really caught my attention and had me hungry for more. I’ve been on the hunt for a good read lately and was told by a friend about a store called, Whole Earth Provisions Co. Was I living under a rock? It’s like a nature centric version of Homegoods (sorry Disney, this is the most magical place on earth)! It has outdoor apparel and accessories, jewelry, random trinkets, and books galore!
Time to take flight

The first book I picked up is “Time to Take Flight,” by Jayne Seagrave. I’ve already read the first half of this book and it totally delivers. You know when you read something and it hits home so much that you find yourself thinking “uh huh, yep, yes!” the entire time? Well folks, that’s what this book has been for me. Jayne talks about all the different things to keep in mind and how to prepare yourself for solo travel as a woman. I’ve found it to be extremely helpful thus far and have used a heavy hand with the highlighter! A must for any woman that’s even considered solo travel.

How to travel the world for free

The next book I’ll be reading is “How to Travel the World for Free,” by Michael Wigge. This is a story of how a man traveled from Antarctica to Berlin without spending any of his own money. This stood out to me for obvious reasons. While I plan on saving up money for this trip, I thought it would still be helpful to learn a few savvy tricks that may help me to prolong this adventure. Also, it’s just plain impressive and I want to know how he did it!

Grand adventures

The last book I purchased is “Grand Adventures,” by Alastair Humphreys. This book holds the stories belonging to a collection of individuals that have had some sort of grand adventure. It goes over the bits of travel that could potentially keep you from completing your adventure, as well as sharing the many varieties of adventure one can have. I’m really excited for this one since it sounds like it will give a wide variety of perspectives on travel.

Once I finish these three books I’ll make sure to do a recap and let you know what I thought about each one. If you pick up any of these books (or have already read them) I’d love to hear what you thought.

Lastly, a quote included in “Time to Take Travel.”

“Travel is more than just seeing the sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” -Miriam Beard