Why I’ll Always Travel Solo

family, love, outdoors, Travel

A lot of people seek out someone that is a reflection of them in a relationship. Reflections show you…well you…they don’t always help you examine your own back. Instead, I have the spotlight relationship, a person that shines light on where I can improve, and helps me build myself into a better person.

It’s fun to have someone that loves all the same things as you, but it’s equally fun to have someone to teach you new things and visa versa. My husband is someone that would prefer a night in to a night out. A day of video games to a day of hiking. A staycation to a camping trip. If you can guess, I like the opposite.

We have done plenty of trips together such as cruising, Santa Fe Road Tripping, and our Honeymoon to Mexico. However, there are journeys and activities Mr. Stillway will never be as keen on and that means I get to do one of my favorite things, traveling solo.

I love traveling with Ryan, but I also love being on my own in the world. I love the thrill of being independent and free to travel and do as I please. I love the opportunities and strength and wonders that it brings. I will always continue to travel by myself as long as opportunity allows.

I plan on, in 2020 to hike the Inca Trail. I plan on taking work trips with or without my colleagues. I plan on going to places like China and India as Ryan and many friends don’t hold the same interest in them as I do. In the decades to come I plan on checking off places like Antarctica, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, Jordan, and many other places.

Traveling solo means time to reflect and learn the deepest parts of myself. It makes me stand taller and hold my head higher. It encourages me that if I can plan a trip halfway around the world, I sure as hell can kick ass at work and school. It helps me encourage my fellow woman and girl to dream of all the possibilities they also have in the world!

Where are you going?

Happy Travels!

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To Camera…or Not to Camera

colorado, love, Photography, Travel

I love photography, as anyone that has followed this blog for a while knows. However, I am conflicted with a constant concern when I travel if I should bring my camera equipment or stick with my phone.

The simple answer is I don’t know.

I don’t know because it depends so greatly on how one travels, what one is doing on a particular trip, or if you have a safe way to keep your gear. So I have a few check points when determining this. It is not an exact science but it helps me sort out if my camera on my Iphone is OK, or if the DSLR is worth the extra bag, weight, and effort.

I bring my camera under the following circumstances

  1. I am doing some portrait or fine photography
    1. this is a “well duh”
  2. I have the chance or time to do some real photography
    1. This means if I am going to be in nature for a good amount or time, or if I have a long trip I am taking.
  3. I have extra luggage space
    1. If I can afford the extra ten pounds, then it goes!
  4. There is no way my cell phone camera can capture it well
    1. This is especially true in situations where a zoom lens is a good idea, such as nature or travel photography (again more time/space is a must)
  5. I can keep it safe
    1. Traveling on a cruise or boat or water-based situation can be lethal to your best camera friend. Sand, wind, dirt, rain etc. is also an unfriendly mess!
    1. I don’t want my cameras, AKA my expensive travel tools, to be ruined on a wild trips.

I don’t take the camera kit for pretty much the opposite reasons but I also keep this in mind on certain trips. Am I going to “work” on this trip or am I going to play?

Because when you do photography professionally such as for weddings and your blog. When you write off travel as a business expense, which it very much is, you have to draw a line on fun and work.

I make an effort, some times better than others, to not make every trip a working trip. When I go with my husband, I tend to leave the DSLR behind because the point is to not work and be with my husband. When I travel by myself, the camera is likely in my bag. It’s a lot about priorities and what is most important on a specific journey. Is it to get more great shots (which I love love love) or to spend time with those I love (also love love love)?

Sometimes it is hard to leave my little digital friends at home, but I don’t regret the less weight and I don’t regret focusing on reconnecting with my family.

What do you do?

Happy Travels!

Dog Sledding Colorado

colorado, Colorado Events, love, Travel, United States

I’ve realized the older I get that the whole point of life is to try on hats and see what fits. Maybe not the point, but part of what you do.

I try on hats for work. I try on hats for spots and health. I try on artistic hats. Some fit some don’t. Some just like BAD.

It’s not so much what the hat is, but how it works with the person.

Dog Sledding fit really well.

Like most kids in the 90s we saw the movie Balto and Snow Dogs and thought Alaska was a place of dog sledding. When one dog sleds, one is in Alaska. Alaska.

So growing up it was a distant land thing. As an adult I realized one could do many “distant land things” closer to home as we become a more globalized society. Dog Sledding is no exception.

Enter a few months ago and we are talking with my stepdaughter about going to Alaska on a cruise, a future dream. Asking the 11 year-old what she would LOVE to do in Alaska, she says Dog Sledding. Dog Sledding.

Some googling later and a chat with my in-laws and we’re booked for true experience. Then more of the family books. And 18 of us are scheduled to dog sled outside of Breckenridge, Colorado at Good Times Adventures.

It was amazing. No words can describe the magic of snow, the perfect lighting, the happy happy happy dogs, or the feeling of gliding on a wood sled through the wilderness. If magic exists it’s in the snowy woods. Watch the video below to hear my pure joy. 💖

Saying it’s amazing is not enough, however, all of the joy makes me crave it. Maybe that’s how snowboarding feels for others (something I won’t try, it’s a thing) an urge to leap into the joy of it all over and over again, the rush, the sound, the smells. So I’ll be back, and probably more often, because this fluffy warm hat fit well.

I Will Choose Love

love, musings, Travel

When you ask people why they travel so often it’s associated with food, shopping, natural wonders, and maybe culture. Yet often we seem to look over one of the most rewarding aspects of flying off to a new land, the people.

It’s my love for people that is truthfully the reason that I travel. I love what people create in fabric and stone and food and legends and art. I love what people share from their homes to their culture to their music to their families. I love that a smile crosses all divides and a laugh brings hearts together. I love that no matter where you are in the world kids can play together without needing a common language.

I choose love as my reason to travel. I choose love as my reason to work every day, love for myself and love for my family and a love of my clients who I help find adventures for. I choose love as my reason.

So, when I see horrific divisions and I see the pain of humanity spread on screens and in newspapers I am reminded that we all could choose to love more. When we see someone hungry, loving them is fighting for policies to end that hunger pain. When we see people running from their homelands, love should open our doors to ease their strife. We must choose love.

Love is scary. Love makes one vulnerable. Love makes us have to face our worse fears. Love pushes us tot the battle ground. Love is needed for humanity to survive.

When you think of your fellow persons on this planet, think lovingly. Think with a kind heart. Think about your choices and how it may help or hurt someone. But most importantly choose love to combat your hatred or fears. And find that you may start finding a lot more love for yourself too.

Happy Travels

Cruise Room Secrets

colorado, geek, History, love, musings, Travel, United States

As a part of our anniversary escape my husband and I went to a Denver gem that is often missed, The Cruise Room.

I knew about this hidden treasure from an interview with Nick Urata I had read, and for years I had wanted to visit. Well our time in Denver meant we had the perfect opportunity for a night on the town. We gussied up and snagged dinner and then headed to the Oxford Hotel by Union Station.

Inside this other great historical hotel is a bar that has been open since prohibition ended I. 1933. In fact, it opened the day after prohibition was repealed nationally. This means its very existence is important, but wait there is more!

The entire bar is designed after the bar on the Queen Mary (located in California today). It has all of its original wall features that are made of plaster and are meant to represent different countries and locations from around the world. They still serve up classic cocktails, and an antique jukebox has a corner dedicated to its existence.

We loved every detail of the place and we found it to be a great place for chatting and a drink. We were the most dressed up people there, everyone else was in jeans, but it felt great to feel fancy. I even had my first real gin martini!

If hitting D-town at night, don’t miss a chance to visit this great historical treasure!

Happy Travels!

Pets Make It All Worthwhile

love, musings

My in-laws had to say goodbye to their old cat this week. She had fought a long, hard, fight, and battles that almost took her many times. She was a tough old girl, a sweet old girl, a cat that everyone loved.

Regardless of seeing the end years before, and losing many other beloved pets, there is always pain. A sharp and intense longing in the heart. Tears that sting at the eyes, even if you know “it was only a cat”. Because, as all animal lovers know, it’s never “only a” anything. They’re family, they are loved, they make our lives worthwhile.

The cruelty is that we love these creatures so much, almost like children, and they leave us well before we want them to. Halfway through a normal life, a quarter, a few years, they depart us and leave behind corners full of fur and claw marks on a couch.

While they poop inconveniently and behave rudely we still love these fluffs that we adopt. We love their snuggles and kisses, their talks and stumbles. We appreciate knowing that no matter what the world thinks of us, that cat or dog or rat or goat will be so happy to see us.

In ways pets reflect our love of humanity. Animals remind us not to take things so seriously. Animals reflect our desire to be more innocent and to explore without restrictions. They show us the animal nature we all have, and remind us that it’s okay to roll in the dirt and sleep outside. They encourage us to be honest with our existence and to love unconditionally. Yet, they hold magic in them that is not found with other people.

When they die we are also reminded of our fragility on earth, of being mortal. We hope that our passing will also be peaceful, with loved ones, asleep and then gone, if we’re lucky.

Yet even with our tears we are shown light in the hope of our own existence. In tears we find the strength to love again and again, because we know that the love learned from one pet, is too much to stop there.

They make it all worthwhile.

The Best Lessons Have Been My Mistakes

adventure of the week, Caribbean, colorado, Colorado Events, family, Ireland, italy, love, mexico, musings, outdoors, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

I have been traveling internationally for 8 1/2 years. Mostly by myself. Always on a budget. And with a few struggles along the way. Some have been all my fault. Others I can blame on fellow travelers. All of them are important.

Here are 10 of the best/worst lessons to learn on the road.

  1. Carry a phone-
    A part of me hates this but it has saved my butt more times than I can count. For instance, when you forget to learn out to read bus schedules, you can call a cab.

2. Buy good maps

    I don’t know how many tines having a bad or outdated or confusing map has messed up a day, turned me around, or got me lost. So, investing in a good map is an important way to preemptively save the day.
  • 3. self care!
    • I have become sick 2 out of 3 extended trips. If I had used more hand sanitizer, brought some vitamins, and got more sleep, I would have had an easier time with everything.

    4. Pack Light/Buy light

    • I have always made this mistake on longer trips. I pack too much, and immediately regret it. The other side is buying too much. When my aunt went with me to Europe in 2015 she bought so many souvenirs that we had to mail two large boxes home AND a suitcase. Because of the weight and international shipping fees, she spent almost $800 to mail home about $3,000 worth of merchandise. The moral of the story is that it’s better to buy the few things you REALLY want, leave room in your suitcase to bring it home, and consider purchasing some items when you get home. Pro tip- many companies get GREAT shipping discounts if you buy say $100 of merchandise.
  • 5. Eat Well
    • Don’t eat expensive, eat well. Eat your veggies like mamma told you. Don’t drink too much. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and enjoy delicacies in moderation.

    6. Say no

    • Say no to people that annoy you. Say no to drunk guys in bars. Say no to pushy “tour guides”. Say no to flirtatious Italians. Say no when it seems wrong, sketchy, scary, or if your gut tells you so.

    7. Ask Questions

    • So many mistakes and mishaps could have been prevented for myself and others if I had asked more questions, asked for directions, asked for a better map or bus schedule. See 1 and 2.

    8. Bring a Towel

    • It sounds silly, but if you have read Hitchhiker’s Guide (or seen the movie) you know towels are helpful. Truth is having a good towel on the road is also helpful.

    9. Bring a Sweater

    • Weather conditions can change in most places without warning. The times I have needed a sweater I have been so grateful to have one. When I have forgot one, boy did chattering teeth regret it.

    10. Make sure you are physically ready

    • Travel can be thoroughly miserable if you are not in shape. Being tired from long walks, or just carrying luggage can make the trip a miserable time. See 4 for extra help!

    What have you learned on the road?

    I’m Your Fall “Basic Witch”

    colorado, Colorado Events, love, musings, outdoors, Throwback Thursday, Travel

    No shame in being Basic you all! I love the little things that come with fall.

    Seriously, why do we mock the things that make the world a happier place? In a sea of crappy news and unsettling politics I am damn well delving into a sea of things I love, when I can.

    That means enjoying some pumpkin pie spice flavored coffee and fuzzy pajamas. I will take my Girl Scout troop to a corn maze and I will go buy some pumpkins and carve them into some awesome designs. I will wear my black boots with skinny jeans and cute socks and all my scarves. Because these are things that make me smile. These are things that make my little life joy.

    So this season I encourage you all to just love the things that bring you joy. If you love leaves, go roll in some. If you love pumpkin patches, frolic in one. Because, who cares? The reality is that your joy and helping small community farmers will bring happiness to someone else.

    image-947

    One of the reasons that I love this stuff so much is because I grew up in the mountains where fall was such a short amount of time we barely enjoyed it before it was all gone. At 9,500 feet above sea level, the leaves change in September and by October 10th they are gone. There are no pumpkin patches or corn mazes because nothing grows that high. And the journey to such a thing was at least two hours away, a trip my parents could not afford.

    14492594_10154213465894177_5921278938190350399_n

    Yet, with all of these restrictions my mom made the most amazing treats in the fall and winter. Caramels and leaf cookies with brown sugar. Pumpkin pies you wanted to sink into and die because they were so divine. Roasts and potatoes and carrots that were perfectly savory and bone warming after cold days feeding horses and cows. There was always sweet and spicy hot chocolate and apple cider. All of it brings me a smile just thinking about it now.

    So while I dreamed of haunted carriage rides, I had the divine sweets to make up for it. So to honor the fun, and my earliest memories of golden aspens, I delve into the joys of autumn with a happy heart and a love of all things.

    I hope you do too.

    What are your favorite seasons? What do you love to do?

    Mexico Adventure- Sandos Caracol Eco Resort

    Caribbean, love, mexico, Travel

    sandos.jpg

    For our honeymoon in December we selected something a little different from the norm. We decided to ditch the high-end resort and head to something that felt more authentic to the country we were visiting. This meant that we wanted somewhere that offered plenty of activities, but also an embracing quality of celebrating the regional offerings in a caring and thoughtful way.

    We selected Sandos Caracol Eco Resort for these reasons. The resort, as the name indicates, is an Eco resort, meaning it has made a consorted effort to reduce its waste and impact on the environment without sacrificing the resort. Sandos Caracol is a fantastic example of what I hope to see in resorts in the coming years. Over water bottles they have replaced everything with massive jugs of water. Over straws they just serve everything in cups. Over just trash, they offer recycling everywhere in the resort. For food, everything but a few options was served on reusable plates and with reusable cutlery. The resort has instead of ripping out the natural mangrove and water ways, it has built up to work with the jungle.

    In addition to respecting the natural environment, which it teaming with birds, coati, monkeys, lizards, and sterilized feral cats; the resort offers a glimpse into the life and times of those that lived in the region before colonialism. They do this in multiple ways, including the Dance performances held several times a week. Sandos Caracol has sprinkled elements of indigenous culture throughout with statues, placards explaining beliefs and rituals, morning rituals celebrating different elements, and by building in a way that respects the features of the area. For instance, the resort has its own cenote in the center of the resort, in which visitors can snorkel and enjoy, but also be reminded of how these almost majestic fresh water features really sustained the Maya for centuries. These same systems provide most of the drinking water to these communities even today! All of this combines into a thoroughly enjoyable experience for visitors to the resort. You would literally never have to leave the resort if you didn’t want to. As an all-inclusive all the food and alcohol is included so there is no need to worry about the basics. Rooms are comfortable and welcoming. Restaurants and rooms are air conditioned. The resort is so shaded with natural trees and vegetation that nowhere gets super hot or uncomfortable. Then the beach has plenty of trees and shaded areas to keep pasty me happy. We upgraded our stay to an adults only area. This gave us beach cabanas, a private clubhouse with snacks and a bar, and a more calm part of the beach. It also meant our room was in a more secluded area of the resort, an area that we could listen to animals, and truly just enjoy our time in peace and some seclusion.

    Photo Dec 05, 2 20 04 PM

    Added bonuses to the resort:

    • It’s wonderfully walkable, meaning you get some exercise to burn off the alcohol.

    Photo Dec 12, 6 47 11 AM

     

    • It’s only a maximum of about 10 minutes to the beach from any place in the resort.

     

     

    • You can snorkel in fresh or salt water.

     

     

    • They have their own resort dogs, Mexican hairless dogs, that were revered and loved by the Maya. They’re very friendly and cute!

    Photo Dec 09, 10 29 36 AM

     

     

    • There is plenty of outdoor and romantic dining, creating a truly memorable experience.

     

     

     

      • They have a ceremonial area that’s hidden in the resort, one for sweat lodge experiences, and another for outdoor celebrations. Both are fascinating.

     

    • Everyone that works at the resort is warm, welcoming, and a delight to speak with. Take a few minutes to get to know some of their story, where they are from, and why they work at the resort.

     

     

    • Beyond traditional performances, they had more modern events such as a Michael Jackson night, superheroes night, and other events.

     

     

     

     

    • After their nightly shows, the resort does karaoke events, brings in local bands, or simply offers an enjoyable vibe throughout.
    • They have their own small water park, that is kid friendly, and then full of slides for the older kids….ahem…adults.
    • The beach, while a little rocky, is also full of wildlife such as tropical fish.
    • They have an odd assortment of rescue animals that hang out at the resort in friendly digs. This includes parrots, chickens, donkeys, pigs, rabbits, and probably some other friends I am forgetting.

    Photo Dec 05, 3 48 15 PM

     

    When Nerds Unite

    family, geek, love, wedding
    Ryan and I have many interests that differ, opposites attract if you will. He loves Star Wars, we love Harry Potter. He loves Star Trek, we love X-Files. I ylove costumes, we love jeans and t-shirts. I love traveling, we love vacationing.
    We balance it out and find a happy medium. So for our wedding we needed something that blended our quirks into one. So we blended my love of romantic art nouveau, Alphonse Mucha pretty details with our nerdiness to make a fun and entertaining blend of us.
    Example A: Our cake. Traditional white frosting with a variety of autumnal saturated colored flowers and leaves. The cake was delicately pieced together to make a stunning result. Then, being us, we had to have a Millenium Falcon crashing into the side. Thank you Das Meyer for working your wonders!

    Exhibit B:
    We needed something to celebrate my love of Harry Potter, well OUR love (I’m the bigger fan though).
    So we brought our wands and had some fun.
     DSC07570.jpg
    And FINALLY Exhibit C: We entered to the Imperial March from Star Wars, complete with a Vader helmet…
    22549891_10210271620095576_5428734385234528632_n.jpg
    So that is us, a mix of love and crazy, and nerdiness….