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122 In Travel

The Biltmore Gardens

So I may or may not have gotten a little click happy at the Biltmore… Needless to say, there will be two posts- one of the house itself, the other of the gardens. This is the latter.

To say the grounds of the Biltmore are stunning is a huge understatement. I’d been hearing about the Biltmore for years, since I have family that lives in the south, but I still wasn’t prepared for how beautiful it was.

The gardens were filled with every kind of spring flower you could imagine. They actually switch out the flowers/plants depending on the month to insure it’s stunning at all times. Now don’t get me started on the smell…

I am not joking when I say that this yellow rose bush was home to the most delicious smelling roses of all time. I’m not even a big fan of rose scented things but good god this was great!

I mean, look at these purty thangs!

They were all so vibrant and walking through the gardens felt like I was in a legit fairytale. Seriously, if you’re not a plant/flower person, you will be after visiting the Biltmore!

Correct me if I’m wrong but is this not the exact rose from Beauty and the Beast? Right?!

Okay, relax, I’ll get a grip already… JUST KIDDING! The green house was goals in every way. I’ve always wanted a green house so that in my perfect imaginary world I could host beautiful dinner parties inside and have fresh flowers and produce and it would just be wonderful.

Please enjoy this intermission from the floral hysteria I’ve bestowed upon you with some uninterrupted photos of flowers.

Okay, I can’t stand it anymore- is that shade of red even real???

Not only were the flowers beautiful, but the green house itself was a stunning brick building surrounded by (you guessed it) plants, with huge windows. I’m a sucker for natural light.

They had SO many orchids! They had such a wide variety of colors that I didn’t even know orchids came in. I took over a hundred photos soooo they’re obviously not all included- just in case everyone else isn’t as fascinated by plants as me…

These had to be my favorite. They were so unique and I loved the vibrant contrast of the coral red against the muted green.

I also somehow lucked out and managed to be in the greenhouse when very few other people were. Don’t get me wrong, I did have to navigate through a storm of selfie taking youths, but they were infrequent enough that I was able to grab a few people-free shots.

If anyone can tell me what this is, that would be great. It was in the room with all the succulents/cacti so I’m assuming it was from that family but there was no label.

I took all my self control to not touch those fuzzy guys. They looked so soft but I have a feeling, they were not.

I’m not usually a fan of anything pink but this plant was so unique in it’s shape. Would love to know the name of this as well!

One doesn’t go to a green house and not take a trendy pic of a palm…

If you weren’t a member of the plant obsessed, I hope you are now. We’re a weird bunch but we smell great.

I promise, my post on the Biltmore itself will be much more informative!

Thanks for reading!

-V

 

 

 

120 In Travel

I Checked, It’s Still Weird.

Nope, not Austin. Portland? No. Asheville- that’s the one.

I’ve spent time in Asheville on multiple occasions but this is my first trip back in a few years. This post is going to be a collection of two days worth of tidbits. I’ll share my experience with one of the many tours Asheville offers, along with cute shops to visit, some purchases made and some delights consumed. 

Right after I arrived in North Carolina I headed to Downtown Asheville with my Aunt and Uncle to take a bus tour with a company called, LaZoom. They have a variety of comedy tours-some for kids and others for adults. Upon walking into the shop you’re immediately given a taste of the eclectic humor you’re about to take part in. You’re free to take a seat and have a beer or wine at the bar and wait to load onto the bus.

While we waited for the bus I took some time to explore the shop. Imagine Michael Jackson, Elvis, your weird cousin, and a retired clown all shared a home- this is what it would look like. Seriously, get there early just so you can take in all the decor, you won’t be sorry.

I’m not sure what you envisioned when I said bus but it probably wasn’t anything like this. This bad boy was equipped with mini fans, a bottle opener (for your beer/wine), and a one of a kind gem named Cookie Carter. Cookie is your host, comedian, and tour guide. While the bus driver guides you through the narrow streets of downtown, Cookie tells you all about it’s rich history in a comical, somewhat raunchy, but absolutely hilarious way. She likes to give out nicknames so brace yourself (hopefully you don’t blush easily). To give you an example, she dubbed me Chardonnay. Why you ask? Because “you look like the kinda gal that takes Chardonnay by the shot.” Ouch. Sorry Cookie, but I’m more of a Sauvignon Blanc girl myself.

The tour lasts about two hours and stops midway for ten minutes at a brewery for you to use the restroom and grab a refill. Even if you’ve visited before, I would highly recommend this tour. It was hilarious and gave you a little bit more background about the city. They do kids tours on Saturday and they all fill up fast so try to book in advance. Also, you can book the entire bus for Bachelorette/Bachelor parties! 

My next day back was a bit more mellow but quite delicious. My Aunt and I started our day at the Green Sage Cafe. It’s a gluten free haven and gave me an opportunity to do my favorite thing- carbo load. If you know me, you know that bread is my favorite thing, as well as my arch nemesis, so this was a real treat. If you aren’t gluten intolerant, or if you’re vegan, they’ve got options for you too! It was inexpensive, delicious, and a must if you need to grab a quick bite for breakfast or lunch.

After breakfast we wandered through the eleven blocks that make up downtown. There are tons of shops for gifts, local goods, clothing, jewelry, and anything else you can think of. There are also a lot of local street performers set up along the way which can be highly entertaining.

After wandering around for a bit we ducked into one of Asheville’s many bookstores to take a break from the heat and peruse a bit. It seems like there was a book store on every corner. If I wasn’t traveling light and had finished the few books I did bring on my trip, I could have easily spent a few hours picking out some new books.

After the bookstore we wandered into a few more stores as we made our way to Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar located in the Grove Arcade. It’s a two story building that houses over 80,000 books and walls of champagne and wine. It was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!

While Asheville is known for it’s eccentricities, it should also be known for all of it’s beautiful buildings, rich art community, and kind people. If you have the chance to visit I would highly recommend it. If you live a few hours away it would make the perfect day trip.

By the end of the day I walked away with a few new treasures. I bought a few gifts that I won’t be sharing since those receiving them will likely be reading this, however I can share with you the things I got for myself! At “Virtue” I bought this Panama style hat. The little boutique has a bunch of clothes and accessories and I couldn’t convince myself to leave without this guy. The second thing I bought is going to be a new staple in my wardrobe. These earrings were made by a local artist named Mark Schieferstein or “Skrapmonkey” and were purchased at “Boutique Lp.” I literally wanted to buy every single piece he had. It was all really dainty, minimalist pieces made from different scraps of metal and super affordable. It doesn’t look like his jewelry is for sale on his website but I linked it above just in case. It would be worth shooting him an email if you see something you like.

I hope this gives you a better look at Asheville, and helps you to plan any future trip you may have there! As always, let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to elaborate on any of the places I visited. If you enjoy what you’ve read so far, make sure to subscribe so you never miss a post. 🙂 If you’re reading this post on your phone, scroll to the bottom and plug in your email under “never miss a post.” If you’re on a computer that same window will be to the right of the post.

Thanks for reading!

-V

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.

-V

134 In Travel

Products I’m Keen On

It’s almost that time! I cannot believe that after eight months of planning, saving, researching, stressing, and daydreaming, my trip is about to begin! Before I flood these pages with photos of natural wonders and delicious eats that I plan on viewing and consuming, I’m going to share with you a few must haves that I’ll be utilizing during my travels.

You can’t view natural wonders, less hike to them, without some awesome hiking boots. That’s where the Keen Targhee II Mid Hiker’s come into play. They’re light weight, waterproof, slip proof, and come in a variety of colors. I purchased mine at Gander Mountain but you can get them at just about any outerwear store or on Amazon. Besides running up and down the stairs at home and power walking around my house (that’s how everyone makes sure shoes fit-right?) I haven’t taken them for a test drive. Once I take my first hike in them I’ll be sure to report back!

Boots can only be so comfortable san socks, which brings me to my next must have. I found these Seoul Story Dry Cushion Performing Socks on Amazon in a four pack. They’re the perfect thickness and feel nice and cushy. They have moisture wicking properties that should help keep my feet from getting too hot (TMI?) and hopefully that means they’ll dry fast too since I’ll be wearing/washing them constantly.

Where will I store these socks and boots you ask? Well, my lightweight Delsey Spinner Carry-On of course! (Do you like my mock infomercial tone? I’m amused). Seriously though, this thing has a bunch of compartments (even a plastic one to store my toiletry bag incase things get bumpy in-flight), has the four spinner wheel feature so I don’t have to drag it all over the place, and it’s seriously so lightweight- I cannot stress that fact enough. Bonus, I got it at TJMaxx and it was like $70 bucks. Bam!

Besides the handle to pull it and the standard side handle, there’s also one in between all four wheels so it’ll be really easy to lift and slide into the overhead compartment. Lastly, it comes with a built in lock which is great not only at the airport, but also when out and about while staying at Airbnb’s. It’s more discrete then an external lock and it’s one less thing I have to remember to buy.

Speaking of out and about, this is the backpack I chose as my “personal item” to carry on flights and for my day hikes. It’s by eBags and it’s the, (brace yourself) TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior. Say that three times fast! The only difference between this bag and the non-junior is that the non-junior has another zipper compartment on the bottom of the bag where you can separately store a pair of shoes or just another change of clothes. This bag is lightweight, water resistant, and will fit under the seat in front of me on flights! I found it surprisingly difficult to find a good quality backpack that wasn’t half my size, but this one seems just right.

The straps on this bag are super plush and adjustable, and it even has a waist strap. I think these features will save me on long days so I’m not left with an achy back and red marks across my shoulders. If you don’t want to wear it as a backpack you can also carry it briefcase style using the handle on the side. If that option doesn’t appeal to you, there’s also a detachable side strap so you can wear it as a duffle bag! This would be a really great bag for light travelers during a backpacking trip because it actually opens up like a suitcase and has similar compartments. This wasn’t a must feature for me but I thought it would be useful in the future and help make make the most of my minimal space. What was a must for me you ask? I wanted to make sure my laptop was safe and no one with any wise ideas could snag it off my back. Your laptop is actually stored in the zipper compartment you see above where the straps are coming from, meaning the laptop is flat against your back and not in a compartment that someone can unzip without your knowledge. My only concern is how comfortable that will be, but I think a hand towel between the laptop and the lining of the bag could remedy that if needed.

The last item I’ll be sharing with you today is the wallet I chose for the trip. The number one concern for me in purchasing this item was that it’s RFID safe. RFID is the technology thieves use to scan your credit cards and passport, obtaining your personal info, thus making you more susceptible to identify theft. Thanks, but no. This one is the W100 model and also has a detachable strap that you can use to hook it into your bag so that it doesn’t fall out, or get snagged.

The maker of this wallet is Pacsafe but I purchased it, along with my backpack, on eBags website. If you’re in the market for travel bags, wallets, etc I would definitely check out their website. They sell their own line of items along with many other well known brands and offer a variety of options at a wide price range. Also, if you make an account with eBags you earn points that will give you discounts on future purchases!

If you have any questions on these items, I’d be happy to provide more details! I hope this post has helped you in your quest for travel gear and I’d love to hear about any future trips you have! Also, if anyone already owns any of these products, I’d love to hear your thoughts and see how they worked for you.

 

*This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I personally purchased each item.

 

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.

co-travel

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.

alone

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.

grandma

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. unsplash.com/photos/vuWB5mGu5wE

18 In Travel

My First Solo Trip: CNC

I hope you’re excited! I’m about to tell you about the magical wonder that is CNC, or Camp No Counselors. CNC is a camp for adults, with multiple locations through out the country, all of which allow you to relive your childhood camp memories. I’m talking campfires, capture the flag, archery, arts and crafts, sleeping in bunks, the whole shebang.

CNC Austin

I attended the Austin camp (actually in Vanderpool) that was in Texas’ hill country. As you can see, it provided some pretty awesome views. Before we jump too deep into the activities, let me tell you about the people.

As an adult, I’m sure we can all relate to walking into a new place by yourself, surrounded by a bunch of strangers. Typically you’re greeted with a few subtle glances and maybe a smile or two, but that’s pretty much it. Now that you’ve got that image (and anxiety), think of the complete opposite; that’s Camp No Counselors. From the second you walk up to your fellow campers everyone is extremely inviting and open. You’re greeted with genuine warmth by the campers and non-counselors alike. No one is talking about work, politics, or how much money they make. It’s all about making genuine bonds over the things we enjoy. Which as you may recall, this was pretty much the main factor taken into account when making new friends as a child.

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With these new friends, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a slew of fun camp activities. Including, but not limited to, rock climbing (see above), archery (see below), arts and crafts, hanging at the lake (jumping on the blob, paddle boarding, kayaking, etc), beach volleyball, yoga, the list goes on and on. Did I mention that on the last day the entire camp competes in a color war which includes all these activities? Think relay race, add in a few bar games, and a jumbo slip n’ slide with two hundred of your closest friends (and rivals!-go Blue team!) and you’ve got yourself a color war!

CNC Archery

As I subtly mentioned, I was on the blue team. My part in the relay race was archery. I was stoked about this seeing as the last time I did archery was at summer camp as a kid. And don’t worry, if you’ve never been to summer camp before, you will still love it as an adult. It’s the rare opportunity to not have a care in the world, run around outside with your new friends and just forget about any responsibilities you have for a few days.

CNC Lake

So, did attending CNC prepare me in any way for my upcoming travels next summer? I’d say so. I had to rely on myself to pack everything I needed because if I forgot something, I was pretty much out of luck. This is a lesson I think will come in handy when packing my bag for a day long hike in the future. It also gave me a taste of what it’s like to get up and go somewhere new completely on my own. I drove three hours (alone), took a bus another three hours (with 35 of my new fellow campers) and then spent the weekend getting to know over a hundred people that I didn’t know a single thing about prior to my arrival at camp. Attending CNC solo reminded me that I don’t need a travel partner to enjoy the places I visit. Anywhere I go, there will be new and exciting people to meet, experiences to have, and memories to make. As long as I enter into my travels with this mindset, I think things will turn out just fine.

If you have any interest in attending a future CNC weekend (you should!), visit their website here. If you have any questions about it or just want to know more, comment down below or send me a message. 🙂

Have any of you ever traveled somewhere solo, just for fun? I’d love to here about it!

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