Seeing Sequoia

I'm a lover of trees.

I had been wanting to return to Sequoia and the beautiful Redwood Forest for years. The last time I was a small child. 

For my 29th birthday I finally made the trip back to the redwoods.

Setting off on Friday evening, Joel and I drove the 3 or so hours out of the city into the dark and arrived at our adorable lodge on the outskirts of the park just before midnight. We couldn't see much in the dark except for the area of the wooden lodge that was illuminated by their sign. Our keys were left for us in an envelope tacked to the wall of the office. We had spoken to the sweet owners on our way up and informed them that we would be getting in quite late. They left us the keys and brief directions to our room. We wandered up the outdoor staircase with our belongings and entered our room. There was a door out the back with a shared balcony that stretched the length of the building. I leaned against the railing, looking up at the considerably more stars in the sky than can be seen in LA, and listened to the rush of water from the veiled rocky river, trying to judge just how far the water was from our feet. 

In the daylight, it turned out that the river was incredibly close.

After spending some time laying on large rocks by the river, we set off to drive into the park and pick out a camping site.

We realized that we didn't have food for camping yet- whoops!- so we stopped by a small market store off the main drag and grabbed a few things. It was slim pickings, naturally. We walked out with some fruit, hard boiled eggs (which was a cool find), cheese, granola, bread, peanut butter and Nutella. Short on vegetables, but it would do for a couple days.

Next to the market was a cute little cafe. Seeing as how food was on our brains, we popped in and ordered some bagels. We sat down at a table with a chess set.

We paused. Looked at the board and looked back at each other. The question lingered. Neither of us had played chess in ages.

We sat there eating bagels, sipping a latte and played an entire game of chess. (Joel would most likely want me to point out that he won. I will point out that it was close.) 

Time ticked by. It was well into the afternoon by the time we left the cafe. The joy of having no specific timetable. 

It was a slow climb driving through twisting roads as we made our way towards the park's official entrance.

As it turned out, this being the end of April, that up in higher elevations, we were still in the tail end of winter. The park had gotten snow only a couple nights before. The result of this was that chains were still required to enter the area of the park where all of the giant redwoods grow. We did not have tire chains. While we debated for a second the idea of lying about having chains, we chose honesty. When we told the rangers at the entrance that no, we did not have chains, they informed us that there would be police rangers checking for chains further into the park before the giant sequoias. We decided to turn around and take the slow, winding road back towards our lodge and the little town outside of the park where there is a store that rents tire chains. 

At the shop, we immediately became part of a rush hour for tire chains. Apparently, there were a lot of other visitors in the same boat, needing chains for the weekend.

We chatted with the locals while we waited and eventually got our tire chains. We didn't want them on the tires yet, just needed to have them on us. As time carried on, we finally made our way back towards the park.

As we got further up in elevation, the fog moved in. Gently coating the mountain and blanketing the entire landscape in white.

There are a number of turnout spots for slow drivers and even designated picture areas. We stopped at a picture place and captured the lack of view behind us.

The view is meant to be mountains and valleys

The view is meant to be mountains and valleys

Now, I suppose we should have seen this coming....

...there weren't any rangers checking for chains. The roads truly were clear by this point and the chains requirement was officially lifted the following day. Still, when we made our way into the heart of the park, there was snow on the ground. Patches of snow all throughout the forest. Not even an hour from our lodge, the temperature had dropped 20+ degrees. 

One of our first stops was to see The General Sherman tree.

The biggest tree in the entire forest by mass. They've done the math.

And boy, is it a big tree.

Still, that was not my favorite tree in the forest.

Maybe the General Sherman didn't impact me as much because we can't actually touch it. I'm a literal tree hugger and I didn't get to hug Sherman. It's also not the tallest or widest tree, and I think we humans tend to recognize those dimensions better than mass.

My favorite tree was a beautiful redwood right near one of the parking lots before the brief hike towards General Sherman. It smelled like a mixture of maple syrup and cedar. It may be the best smell in the world. No other tree smelled quite as good or as strong. I sniffed a lot of trees. 

Every time we passed, I would go running up to it. Place my hands on the tree and breathe in its beautiful aroma.

My favorite tree

My favorite tree

We eventually made it to the camping grounds and selected a spot for ourselves. Every campsite had its own tent area and picnic table.

We were borrowing my brother's tent for the weekend. I really should purchase a tent.

This tent was remarkably simple to assemble.

Two cross poles.

That was it. (Plus ground stakes, of course.)

By this point the sun was going down and it was beginning to get colder. We were in agreement: an adult beverage sounded excellent. 

Even the beer is named after the park. Yay local breweries!

Even the beer is named after the park. Yay local breweries!

There are a few nice hotel-lodges inside of the park. They are, naturally, a bit pricey, so we were camping. Camping is fun. But camping was cold. We walked to the nearest lodge and they had a bar and lounge where we could grab a beer and relax inside looking out the glass at the trees. It was perfect.

Even more perfect was eating a hot meal at the restaurant inside and splitting a Mounds Bar- the bar's name for their hot chocolate spiked with Malibu Rum. I have to say, the bartender was right, the coconut chocolate combination was excellent.

After eating good food, drinking delicious drinks and warming up in the heated interior, it was time for us to venture back into the cold and prepare for the night.

We created a system with yoga mats and my sleeping bag pad as the base. On top we placed an unzipped sleeping bag. The next layer was us. We covered ourselves with blankets and another unzipped sleeping bag. We then burrito'd ourselves inside, being sure to not have any gaps let in cold air. Whenever we shifted at night, we had to be careful so as not to create a hole where cold air would burst through, causing immediate reactions of "Ah! Cold!" followed by laughter and adjustments. 

It should be noted that I was wearing several layers including thick hiking socks and my beanie.

I'm always cold.

The next morning, the sun came out and warmed up the tent incredibly. I was on the sun side of the tent and began removing layers as I went from cold to comfortable to sweating. We eventually stumbled out of the tent and had some makeshift breakfast. 

That's me. Sitting at the table. Probably putting peanut butter on an apple.

That's me. Sitting at the table. Probably putting peanut butter on an apple.

The rest of the day was spent mostly going on mini hikes. 

Joel-Katie-redwood-forest

We wandered through foggy forest along trails. There were a couple of amazing trees that had hollow bases so we ducked inside and promptly declared that we could live here.

One of the trees was completely hollow all the way up to its missing top.

hollow-tree
via aplacecalledroam.com

via aplacecalledroam.com

We also took the trail to Moro Rock.

Moro Rock feels like something out of Lord of The Rings.

It's nearly 400 stairs carved and shaped out of a massive rock peak. It's meant to have absolutely amazing views as you wind up the stairs through the rock formations to the precipice.

To the right is what a section of the stairs would look like on a clear day.

At the top the view would look something like the photo below.

via statusgo.us

via statusgo.us

I don't have those pictures.

I'm borrowing those from the internet.

Because for us the view was a bit different.

It was just a blanket of white in every direction.

That sign shows what the view should be

That sign shows what the view should be

Still, it was a super fun climb.

On the way back to the city, we pulled over by some orchards and (illegally, probably) picked fallen oranges. There were so many on the ground we just couldn't resist. 

We actually made the pullover twice, picking different kinds of citrus. Some were probably oranges, others were perhaps clementines or tangerines. Either way, they were absolutely delicious. We ate about half our stash on the drive home.

Neither one of us wanted to get home.

We loved the forest and its trees.

Sequoia
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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Helpful Travel Sites

While I am in the process of writing up some posts about my recent travels, I thought I'd shoot some helpful info your way. (You know, gotta stick to the One Post a Week Promise!)

Below is a list of some of my favorite travel websites, both of the professional info and blogger variety. Personally, I LOVE travel bloggers. I find the good ones to be both enjoyable story tellers and amazing resources. In addition, though, we all need some good general travel resource websites for booking hostels and planning trips. Those are included too.

 

Travel Bloggers

Adventurous Kate

Kate was 26 when she quit her job and starting traveling full-time. She used her marketing know-how to quickly turn her blog into a business. She offers a lot of great practical tips and travel info. Her goal is to debunk the fears and misnomers of solo female travel.

Legal Nomads

Jodi was a lawyer who decided to take a year off to travel. That was in 2008. She's still traveling and her focus is mainly on food and eating your way around the world.

Nomadic Matt

Matt has created one of the largest travel blog empires. His site has a plethora of solid advice and travel guides. He's written a number of eBooks and even has a forum on his site.

Stuck In Customs

Trey is predominately an amazing HDR photographer. His pictures are absolutely stunning. Definitely check out his portfolio. But he also has a lot of posts about the art of photography, attempting to help aspiring photographers learn the craft. He's completely open about what equipment he uses etc.

This Battered Suitcase

Brenna is now a graduate student working on her master's in creative writing in London. It's fitting because her posts have always been beautifully written narrative accounts. She still travels around. Her blog includes some tips for traveling, but mainly it is great non-fiction reading. She writes as a memoirist. Her posts are emotional and thoughtful.

Wandering Earl

Earl started traveling after graduation in 1999 with a budget of $1200. He managed to turn that fund into the start of a permanent nomadic experience. He travels all over, including to lots of less traditional locations. He has great posts with real advice on how to travel full-time, including an eBook titled How to Live a Life of Travel. He also has a tour business called Wandering Earl Tours.

Young Adventuress

Liz is a charming solo female traveler and one of the most popular travel bloggers. She is currently living in New Zealand, but still travels all around. Her sweet and relatable writing style have garnered her a large following. She has been featured in many online outlets and goes on a lot of cool adventures courtesy of the various tour companies, travel businesses and resorts that sponsor the trips. Any post about a trip that has been sponsored will acknowledge the support, but Liz claims that all opinions are her own.

Travel Planning Sites

BootsnAll

BootsnAll is billed as a one-stop indie travel guide. It has travel guides by continent, Round The World travel resources, a community, and a whole bunch of practical advice.

Frommers

Frommer's is the website version of their famous travel guide books. Packed with highly researched information, if you've been a fan of traditional guide books this site will probably have what you are looking for. 

Hostel World

Hostel World is the go-to site for booking hostel accommodation. Intuitive and easy to use. Hostels have both private rooms and dorm style rooms. Dorms can be anywhere from 4 beds to 24 beds. The biggest shared rooms are usually all bunk beds. It's kind of like camp. It can be super fun if you are looking to meet fellow travelers and each hostel has their own vibe: party, quiet, big on activities etc. Be sure to read reviews and info to find a hostel that matches what you're going for. Some include free meals and group events. They almost always have a communal kitchen for use. The large dormitory beds are certainly the cheapest accommodation option for budget travelers. Just be smart about your stuff as you will be sharing a room with many strangers.

Hotels.com

Yep, I use this. It's great for finding cheap hotel deals and booking on the spot. You can modify the search results to list by price or rating. They also have special deals by destination and can do flights and car rentals as well. Often, the bookings will have free cancelation up until the day before. I've only used it state-side, but I know it can be used internationally. 

Let's Go!

Let's Go! is primarily for student travelers going to Europe. They are all about finding deals and ideal destinations for students. Plenty of their recommendations apply to any budget traveler, but this one is billed as For Students, By Students. If that applies to you- check out their site for great guides and blog posts about traveling around Europe.

Lonely Planet

Ah, the famous Lonely Planet guide books: Now as an incredibly thorough travel website! They have all of their guide books for sale on the website, but the site itself has tons of information via it's numerous advice articles. It also has direct searches for flights, accommodations, tours etc. It has categories such as Beaches, Budget Travel, their Thorn Tree travel forum, and by destination country.

. . . . . .

That's what I have for now. I'm sure I'm missing some. If you have any sites you think I should include please let me know! I will periodically update this list as I learn about new sites or remember anything I'm forgetting.

I should probably also mention many of the classic airfare and accommodation sites that I assume most people are familiar with, but just in case:

Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, PricelineTravelocity, or any airline's own website.

Personally, I use Kayak and Expedia to check airfare a lot. I use Priceline sometimes, especially if I'm wanting to do their Name Your Own Price deal, which is cool. Before using Name Your Own Price, do your research so you know what a good deal is, because by doing Name Your Own Price you are agreeing to purchase if they match your request. Don't forget about going direct to the airline for discount companies such as Southwest. Also, try the airline's website for any airline you have a miles reward program with to see what they can offer you.

Happy traveling!!

My Desert Adventure

Sometimes the desert just calls you.

The final third of my cross-country venture was planned as a desert adventure.

After leaving Colorado we drove to our Holiday Inn Express (what what! A Holiday Inn Express is relatively high-end by my typical budget-travel standards) in Page, AZ. 

The agenda for this part of the trip included visiting The Arches, going into Antelope Canyon, viewing Horseshoe Bend, generally exploring Lake Powell and checking out Coral Sands.

The Arches

As we made our way toward Page, we encountered The Arches National Park. Carmella and I looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Well, clearly we're stopping."

The park is huge. Once we crossed the line into the park and paid our entrance fee, we essentially had a map and a road to follow that led out into the expansive dessert. The horizon is massive in the dessert. Looking out there was one winding road heading out to the beyond. As we drove into the park we stopped at various locations with fascinating natural structures. Eventually, we made it to the Big Arch, but not before taking a moment to dance in the dessert.

It was brutally hot in the sun. Every time we stepped out of the car we were hit with a wave of heat. Luckily, when we made it to The Arch, there was a strong breeze and shade directly underneath. Besides, the views were worth the heat. We sat under the arch just taking in the sights for a long a while.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is on a Native American Reservation and requires permits to visit. The easiest and most common way of dealing with this is to pay for a guided tour that is run by local tribe members. The price of the tour includes all taxes and fees along with the necessary permits. As it turns out, getting to the entrance of Antelope Canyon involves a four mile off-road drive through incredibly deep sands that requires huge tires and supped up vehicles, so attempting to do it solo would have been problematic. Penny, my trusted Honda, would not have made it. 

Once we arrived at the entrance to the canyon, we disembarked from our monster truck and proceeded into the underground world.

The canyon has been cut by water.

Page, AZ has a rainy season every July and August that can dump several feet of rain onto this dessert oasis. The result is flash flooding and over time water has cut through the sand and rock to create a beautiful canyon. It is absolutely forbidden to visit the canyon during the rainy season as it is incredibly dangerous. In fact, several years ago National Geographic got permission to mount cameras inside of the canyon in order to capture video of the water rushing through the caverns. The water came through at such intense velocity that the cameras were ripped from the walls and carried out, never to be recovered. The holes from where the cameras were mounted still remain, but they are being worn smooth with each passing flood.

And here are some shots proving that we were, in fact, inside of the canyon.

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe bend was recommended to us by our Antelope Canyon tour guide. It was a great recommendation.

Getting there required a bit of a hike, and again it was hot (being the dessert and whatnot), so luckily we were told by a fellow sight-seer to bring water. We hiked through sand and sharp pebbles towards The Bend and when we arrived we were blown away by Nature once again. Figuratively, for sure, but we were almost physically blown away as well, since there were massive winds down on the rim that whipped sharp sand against our skin as we stooped for cover and safety. It was all rather amusing, despite the genuine pain and element of danger. I kind of enjoy a small amount of peril in order to see Mother Earth's gems.

horseshoe bend

Lake Powell

We discovered these sights simply by going for a drive and seeing what we could find. Carmella and I have similar travel styles with regard to a "Let's just explore and see what happens!" attitude, which is why we make good travel buddies. After Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe bend, we didn't have a specific plan until heading out toward Coral Sands in Utah the next day. So we decided to take a drive.

Coral Sands

After we left Page and headed toward Los Angeles, the plan was to swing by Coral Sands in Utah. It was a little strange getting there as the roads are not clearly marked and I felt as if I was following a road to nowhere, but we did eventually end up at the visitor's center in Coral Sands National Park.

Once there, we had a photo shoot in the smooth (albeit HOT) pink/orange sand.

Destination Reached

And then before I knew it, we were driving on the freeway into Los Angeles. I made it to Downtown LA after the sun went down, but not before catching a west coast sunset. By the time I reached my brother's downtown loft, it was a city night.

DTLA
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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

The Halfway Point

After Pittsburgh, I drove to Chicago to spend the night at my cousin's house. 

The most important factoid from that drive that I can share with all of you future roadtrippers is that there are a ton of tolls. A truly astonishing amount of tolls. Bring CASH*!

Seriously. Bring a ton of cash.

(*To be clear, you can pay with a credit card at the major tolls on the tollways, I believe, but it takes extra time and the lines are longer. Bring cash. Of course if you have an i-PASS the whole thing is infinitely quicker, but what out-of-towner has an i-PASS?! An i-PASS is a different system than an EZ-PASS.)

Also, bring a ton of coins.

When you get to Illinois, there are a bunch of small tolls when exiting highways that require coins only. The issue is that the toll is not 25 cents or something, it's between $1-2. Which can burn through a lot of change if you didn't come prepared. I did not come prepared. 

They do offer the possibility of paying online afterwards. The way it works is if you come to a toll and do not have the required coinage, continue on through. You then have 7 days to go online to illinoistollway.com and pay your toll. It's a huge pain in the butt, since you have to remember/figure out what street you exited in order to know what toll to pay. Let me clarify this annoying situation: The system expects YOU to tell IT which toll you missed. 

For a roadtripper from elsewhere, this was confusing as crap since I did not expect this. So helpful hint: make note of the exact highway exit toll you missed. 

Once I actually got to my cousin's house, I had a lovely time relaxing with some food and wine while watching the World Cup. 

Chicago hospitality, courtesy of my sweet cousin Angela.

Chicago hospitality, courtesy of my sweet cousin Angela.

My cousin is incredibly sweet and even created a travel bag of goodies for me, including a CD with some excellent road trip tunes.

After leaving Chicago, I got back on the tollway (through a coins-only entrance, of course) and continued on to Denver, CO.

In Denver, I picked up my bestie Carmella from the airport, who had flown in from Cali to accompany me and share in the road trip fun.

A word about Denver International Airport: it is crazy large and as such, ridiculously confusing. I ended up having to do four (4!) loops out and around through the pick up area before Carmella and I managed to be on the same level at the same time. Before you think that we are idiots, the levels are not labeled and the same airlines are listed on multiple levels. The whole thing is bonkers.

Once we finally made contact, we drove out to meet my good friends from Maryland, Sarah and Dave, who just so happened to be in town for a wedding and housesitting the same weekend that I was passing through! They asked their friends, whom they were housesitting for, if it would be alright if Carmella and I crashed at their house for 2 nights, and they kindly said, "Sure!"

So once again, I was treated to free lodging!

Fun factoid about Denver: it is nicknamed MENver for its abundance of single, manly mountain men. Supposedly, the ratio of Men:Women is the highest in Denver at 3:1. I'm not sure if the latest statistics still support this, but there sure seems to be an abundance of fine-lookin' lads in Denver. 

Denver is a cute city, but it is not the mountainous landscape I was expecting. Therefore, we ventured out to Boulder where we were promised to find the classic mountain beauty I was looking for.

The canyon drive was spectacular and definitely the highlight from our Denver/Boulder time. I highly recommend driving the canyon and getting the opportunity to stare in wonderment at Mother Earth.

Denver also has a pretty good food scene and Dave, being a fellow foodie, knew where to go.

One of the food highlights was brunch at Snooze, where we were treated to truly amazing pancakes.

Snooze Pancakes

Snooze has an assortment of different types of pancakes- I got one Sweet Potato, Pineapple Upside-Down and Banana-Nutella. So. Frickin'. Good.

After departing Denver, we headed west to Grand Junction, CO to stay with Laken, my good friend from my time in New Zealand.

Before arriving in Grand Junction we stopped off in Vail. Vail in summer, of course, is in its off season, but since Vail is such a famous location it seemed like as good a place as any to make a rest stop. We didn't spend much time in the ski town, but we did walk around and grab some coffee. It is clearly a very charming town and I can easily picture the well-to-do inhabitants filling the streets sporting fashionable winter-wear and high-end ski equipment.

Vail

After departing Vail, we continued on to Grand Junction.

Grand Junction is a quaint small town, located in the high dessert at the very western side of Colorado. GJ has a charming main street that is reminiscent of most typical small, sweet townships: strips of one-story boutiques and shops that are pedestrian friendly and safe.

Laken's house is incredibly cute with a huge cherry tree in the back yard, of which we availed ourselves of its fruit.

Catching up with Laken, whom I hadn't seen in several years, was an absolute joy. We laughed and recounted old stories from trekking around New Zealand and the various shenanigans we got into.

There are few things that I enjoy more than sharing laughter, stories and ideas with friends all over the globe.

The next morning, Carmella and I packed up our things and headed towards Arizona to begin the desert adventure part of our expedition.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Atlantic to Pacific

This is crazy. This is madness.
I don’t even know my address
— Trevor Hall, Great Mirror

I drove across the country. Baltimore to Los Angeles. With my life in my car.

My life these days being some clothes and jewelry, my computer and phone, books and dvds, a few odds n' ends and myself. I don't really own much else.

Which was good because I intended to fit everything into my Honda Fit and still be able to see out the back.

You know, safety third.

(At least that is what my friend and I say. Let's be real, vanity and a good photograph tend to trump safety sometimes if this shot is any proof)

Sitting on the edge

Before I get to the epic photos from the second half of my cross country venture, I need to start with the beginning. When I soloed from Baltimore to Denver.

In case you haven't been following my Journal, I probably ought to explain real quick what is happening.

When I had moved out to LA originally in 2004 it had been for college, and then I simply stayed after graduation for several years.  I bought my first car in California and became a California resident. Then I decided to go to grad school back in Maryland. I flew on an airplane back east and had my car shipped since I was very short on time.

Time was short because I attended BhaktiFest in Joshua Tree (I wasn't willing to miss it) before moving back and only arrived in MD a few days before classes began.  This time, I decided to move back to Los Angeles from Maryland and make a cross country road trip out of the return. 

I packed up all my current belongings and mapped out the entire trip myself. The whole thing has been a bit of a gamble and an exercise in trust and self-reliance. 

First stop: Pittsburgh

I set off from the Baltimore area a little after 12:00pm with the intention of getting into Pittsburgh around the 4:00 check-in time at my hotel. Having my life in my car, I was not keen on just parking my car on the street, therefore I didn't want to get in before I would be able to park in the private lot designated for hotel guests. 

My brother used to work in Pittsburgh at Chatham University and thus is very familiar with the city. As a gift to me, he kindly set me up in his favorite hotel in the city. The hotel, Shadyside Suites, takes old buildings and refurbishes them into apartments that are rented out predominately to short-term guests. My brother rented me a huge apartment suite for the night.  

It was a full apartment situated in a renovated old mansion, and as such, possibly the best hotel room (or in this case, series of rooms) that I have ever stayed in. 

It was such a spacious apartment, I happily could have moved right in.

I only had one night in Pitt, so after marveling at the accommodations, I swiftly set off to make it to the Carnegie Museum in order to have a couple hours before it closed.

I walked the 20-30 minutes to the museum and quickly decided which exhibits I would prioritize with my limited time.

For me that was the Hall of Statues, Hall of Architecture and the Hall of Minerals and Gems.

The floor plan of the Carnegie is part of its artistry. In the Hall of Statues the statues are presented not in a typical museum display, but as part of a grand multi-storied room with columns, more reminiscent of how the statues might have been meant to be displayed as artwork in a home or building.

hall of statues at Carnegie Museum

The Hall of Architecture was even more dramatic.

It is an enormous room with massive casts of sections of old Greek and Roman buildings set up so that one feels as if she had just walked into ancient Rome itself.

I wish I had a top quality camera with a very wide lens so that I could have more accurately captured the enormity of the hall.

Then there was the Hall of Minerals and Gems.

The gemstones department is typically my favorite at every natural history museum. What can I say, I love crystals. 

The Carnegie has a beautiful display of minerals, rocks and crystals.  I spent the majority of my time admiring the beauty that mother earth creates. 

A bit before the 8:00pm closing time my stomach began to growl and I could feel my blood sugar getting low, rather fittingly since I hadn’t eaten since before I set off.

I left the museum and walked to Walnut Street, the epicenter of town, and hit up some Thai food. I had a glass of wine while waiting for my food to be prepared, and then I took the food home with me to relax in the comfort of my apartment for the night. In other words: an awesome evening.

The following day I managed to get to the Phipps Conservatory, the second venue on my itinerary. Although, not as early as I had intended. I had meant to get there right at opening (9:30am) so as to have an hour and half to wander around before getting back to the suite and packing up before my 12:00 checkout time.  Alas, I dawdled in the morning and ended up having about an hour.

On the bus in Pittsburgh. Selfie-style.

On the bus in Pittsburgh. Selfie-style.

Pittsburgh is a very cute town, but MAN is the weather less than ideal.

As I hauled ass to the Phipps, of which I should note included walking only about a mile because I took the bus, I was already dripping sweat when I arrived. As I bought my ticket, I stood at the counter and attempted to inconspicuously wipe the beads off of my brow.  After what could have been an embarrassing experience had I not been leaving Pittsburgh probably to never see those people again later that day, I went straight into the bathroom to clean up. I had to wipe myself down with paper towels. It was excellent.

Why was I dripping with sweat after speed walking for all of a mile?

Because Pittsburgh in June is apparently hot and ridiculously humid.

Seeing as how Pittsburgh is known for long brutal winters, the fact that its summers are equally uncomfortable allows me to say that Pittsburgh, despite its charming township, is not somewhere I would prefer to live.

Regardless, I did manage to cool off to a comfortable body temperature once inside of the Phipps, where I was a treated to a botanical paradise.

Pittsburgh is a cute town. It has a small town feel within a moderately sized city. Public transportation is good and it has a lot of things to do. But seriously, the weather is not great. Ultimately, I believe that the people and community are far more important than the weather, but weather can still be a big factor.

Regardless, it was a great first stop on my westward adventure.

Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Breaking the Rules at The Grand Canyon

In 2008 my father and I hiked the entire Grand Canyon, South Rim down to Phantom Ranch and back, in ONE day. 

Which, for the record, you are not supposed to do.

Grand Canyon Warning Sign

It really is not a very wise thing to do. I certainly do not recommend it for anyone who is not a serious hiker. Fortunately, I happen to be a crazy hiker and my Dad is still an avid cross country runner, so we were able to do it. We are certainly not the only ones to have done this, but it is firmly NOT recommended.

Of course, the original plan was not to do it all in one day. Hiking the Grand Canyon has always been on my Dad's bucket list. In 2008 he was in his late fifties and thought he should do it now before getting any older. Knowing that I was an fervent hiker, he thought I would be up for doing it with him. Which I was. Unfortunately, my Dad being my Dad, had this great idea and wanted to plan it for the near future. He had a business trip in Texas in a few months, so he figured he would then take a hopper over to Arizona and I could fly in from LA and meet him at the airport. We would rent a car and drive to the South Rim, spend the night on the rim, hike down to Phantom Ranch, spend the night at the ranch and then hike back out the next day.

As it turns out, Phantom Ranch, being small and the only option down at the bottom of the canyon, books up about a year out. Sooo....now we were going to hike the entire thing in one day.

Going down was actually very easy. Which was somewhat surprising because as any avid hiker will tell you, uphill is way better than downhill.

Honestly.

Uphill may be tiresome, but downhill is hell on your knees and ankles. Luckily, the South Rim path isn't particularly steep so the down hill section was pretty gentle on our joints. We made it down to the river and Phantom Ranch in 3 hours.

Down at the tiny little ranch, we ate lunch and relaxed for a bit. 

Phantom Ranch is unexciting.

Quaint. But unexciting.

Phantom Ranch

Which is good because we wanted to get going back fairly soon since it was starting to get hot. There is a huge temperature difference between the rim and in the canyon. It gets way hotter further down. We set off fairly early in the morning so we were currently fine, but we knew if we lingered down at the Ranch, our hike back up would not be pleasant.

Going back up took double the time. 6 hours. Therefore, our total hiking time for the day was 9 hours.

Going up was rather exhausting. By midday there was no shade to be found. We were hiking uphill for 6 hours straight under the blazing sun. This is why your average visitor should not attempt the all-in-one-day trek. By the end we were spent.

Despite our intense desire to collapse as soon as we made it back to the rim, it was a fantastic experience that I loved getting to share with my Dad. We had a great time and felt a massive sense of accomplishment when we got back.

After showering, we made our way to one of the restaurants on the rim for dinner. Sitting on the wooden booth my Dad commented that he had never been this sore in his entire life. He looked dog-tired, as I'm sure I did too, but we both still had goofy grins on our faces. Pride in accomplishment.

To this day this one of my Dad's and my proudest achievements. We are so glad we did it.

I'd happily do it over, but my Dad says "Never again." He's in his 60's now so I suppose that's fair. Either way, we did it.

Conquered!

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Boston Part 2

The Freedom Trail is probably the #1 tourist thing to do in Boston.

The Freedom trail is a walking path designated by a red line (mostly made of, wait for it, BRICK!) that connects the historic sites around the city. Personally, I think that some guy arbitrarily playing connect the dots doesn't really qualify as a TRAIL, but it's a super famous thing in Boston so we walked it. And I am not being glib, the trail is a line that was drawn by journalist William Schofield in 1951 because he thought it would be cool to connect famous landmarks as a pedestrian path. Given its success, I would say he made a good call.

Since I love exploring cities on foot, it was a great thing to do.

(Another famous trail in Boston is the Cheers Trail, connecting famous spots from the long-running show Cheers. Boston really likes the word TRAIL.) 

It would seem that these days I pretty much only wear Tom's. I have 5 pairs of various styles.

It would seem that these days I pretty much only wear Tom's. I have 5 pairs of various styles.

Fortunately, we had rather perfect weather for walking The Freedom Trail. It was a bit overcast, but did not rain. Along the way, I stopped to take pictures of famous buildings and the city in general (many of those city photos made their appearance in Boston Part 1).

To be real, I took as many pictures of places like Mike's Pastry as I did of monuments. What can I say, I appreciate a good pastry. Below are some pics of sites around Bahston.

At Bunker Hill, the end of The Freedom Trail.

At Bunker Hill, the end of The Freedom Trail.

And yes, we did have a drink in the Cheers Bar. Only it was the other Cheers bar (there are now two). The original one, as pictured above in the slide show, we simply walked by and I snapped a shot. But in the "other" Cheers bar we had a drink and watched a bit of a Sox game, so I think I officially stamped my Boston card.

My timing was excellent as Boston was beginning to be in bloom. I really enjoyed seeing all of the trees come to life with vibrant colors. There were also tulips everywhere. Especially in one of the main parks, the theme of this years floral gardens was definitely tulips.

One morning we went to the farmer's market- it was the first day of the season! The Boston farmer's market has multiple parts: a food truck section where I got an AMAZING Apple and Brie Crepe from Paris Creperie, the food/produce section and an arts/crafts section. There is also an indoor vintage shop that operates year-round where I found an awesome jacket.

We also went to the New England Aquarium. It is a very nice aquarium that has a very similar layout to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. If you are like me and love animals, then these following photos are for you.

Well, that about sums it up. 

We walked a lot. Ate a lot. Saw a lot of the city.

We also went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, but photographs are forbidden in there, so alas I am not able to show you how incredibly cool her old old house filled with artwork is. If you are curious, Google Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

So long Bahston. It's been real. You get high marks in my book.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Boston Part 1

I had never been to Boston.

That truth seemed absurd to me seeing as how I'm from outside of Baltimore. Boston isn't that far away. Plenty of Red Sox fans have crashed Camden Yards for the span of a single baseball game, so why hadn't I made it up there before?

Finally, after all of these years, I planned a trip up to Boston to visit my brother's lovely girlfriend, Lili, before she graduates from BU Medical School and moves back to LA.

I took a BUNCH of photographs of Boston, so I'm breaking this trip into a 2 parter.  

Essentially, we ate and walked our way through the city. 

Naturally, I ate pizza (not pictured, sorry- I dropped the ball of that one) and a cannoli. Boston has incredible Italian food.

We also ate Thai food and Venezuelan food. I was already a fan of Thai food, but eating at Orinoco was a first for me; I'd never had Venezuelan cuisine before. The verdict is: delicious. Seriously great cheese. Orinoco imports their cheese from Venezuela because you can't get it here. I will be dreaming about that cheese.

As an added benefit, Orinoco has a bit of the secret "locals only" look to it, which I love.

The entire city is made of brick.

Really and truly, I have never seen so much brick in a single space. The buildings are made of brick, some sidewalks are made of brick, and even a few streets are completely brick.

It's very pretty and quintessentially New England.

Lili lives in the South End, but we walked both the South End and the (more famous) North End.

The North End is the Historic side of Boston and the home to Little Italy.

According to my source (Lili), the South End used to be the rough, low-rent side of town, but in recent years it has really improved. The South End also happens to be home to the Boston Medical Center, hence why Lili lives there. As an interesting factoid, also courtesy of Lili, Boston has 70 hospitals/health centers within its limits.

In case you don't understand, that's a crap ton.

And Boston also has an incredible amount of colleges and universities.

BU, BC, Northeastern, Tufts, and Harvard to name a few.  And to think, we Trojans (USC) and our rival Bruins (UCLA) like to think that LA isn't big enough for the two of us.

Boston-North-End-Sign.jpg

I got to attend BU's celebratory gala for the Class of 2014 as Lili's guest. It was a rather fancy affair complete with multi-course table service, open bar and even a silly photo booth, all held at the Taj Hotel. It was a celebration for the Medical School's class of 2014, but it was also a part of their alumni weekend, complete with a few alumnus awards and speeches.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. 

As events with open bars and excellent food often are.

*I was being sincere when I referred to the photo booth as "silly." They provided props.*

That would be me in the fuzzy pink zebra santa hat.

Yay wine.

 

1 Comment

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Charming Charleston

It takes 7 hours to drive from Baltimore, MD to Florence, SC on a good day.  On a bad day (meaning hitting stupid Washington, DC traffic) it can take up to 12.  Seriously, DC traffic is terrible. There is always some traffic between DC and Richmond, but I managed to time my departure just right, and I made the trek from DC to Richmond at the most ideal time as possible. Meaning in-between rush hour. Since rush hour extends to 11am and starts before 2pm, there's not a lot of time to squeeze the 2 hour distance between heavy traffic times. I got to DC around noon and made it out fairly unscathed into the wide open road that is Interstate-95 south of Richmond.  

From there on out it is just endless driving.  

438 miles on I-95.

I was determined to make good time so I made only one quick stop- at a gas station to fill up. Yay for my Honda Fit and good gas milage!  P.S. Her name is Penny.

Why am I talking about Florence? This post is about Charleston!

Before I got to picturesque Charleston, which is 2 hours further south than Florence, I stopped off in Florence to visit my awesome grandmother.  She is 90 years old, still lives independently and does a remarkable amount of gardening and other somewhat labor intensive things that make her family members nervous.  It is very cool.

Florence, on the other hand, is not very cool.  Not to hate on a city that I'm sure its residents adore, but Florence is not for me.  For one, these are the predominate food options in Florence:

Florence-Food.jpg

As a health foodie, Florence is a bit of a food desert.  I can get on board with Chipotle, and even Ruby Tuesdays and Red Lobster have their merits, but the main drag of Florence is a rather unattractive stretch of chain restaurants surrounded by massive parking lots.  Western Sizzlin' is my grandmother's favorite, which is cute because she's 90, but to compare:

This is an example of Western Sizzlin' meals:

Western-Sizzlin.jpg

Note how the vegetables in the pictures are not actually ON the plate.

And this is a list of what I packed for traveling food and snacks for Carmella and I to have on hand in Charleston:

Organic carrots, Organic celery, 2 types of organic hummus, gluten-free crackers, 85% dark chocolate and 70% dark chocolate with salted almonds bars, Raw lemon-pomegrante-seed bites, Raw cacao-goji berry bites, 2 Moms In The Raw bars, Organic coffee with french press, and Organic Tulsi green tea.

LOL! My hippie, real-foodie ways don't really gel with Florence.  

Still, my grandmother's house is cute and the town fits her 90 year-old lifestyle well.  I spent over 24 hours chilling with my grandmother before proceeding on to (the decidedly more cosmopolitan) Charleston.

Ah, Charleston.  Okay, I'm going to back up quickly and explain this road trip.  My bestie Carmella grew up in Monck's Corner, SC.  She was to be a bride's maid in an old high school friend's wedding back home. Since she has been on the west coast and I've been on the east coast during my grad school stint, we've been a bit further apart than we would prefer.  Seeing as she was flying to the east coast, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and I would drive down to meet her in Charleston and get in some long-overdue friend time.  Thus, I planned a partial east coast road trip for myself with a stopover in Florence to see my grandmother.  But, the main event was Charleston.

Charleston is beautiful.  The architecture and location right on the water make this city an absolute treasure. Old massive homes with columns, detailed landscaping and vast porches are everywhere.

People in Charleston are rather healthy and active; it is a college town after all. We got treated to more than a few handsome, shirtless male joggers. Charleston has neat juxtaposition of southern style and progressive industry.

Charleston hosts carriage rides, historical architecture and is famous for it's delicious pralines (OMG-level delicious).  It also has a Whole Foods, restaurants that sell craft beer and quaint coffee shops offering chai lattes with milk alternatives.  And BONUS: It is home to Sticky Fingers, famously endorsed by Stephen Colbert and featuring a painting of him inside.

Essentially, Carmella and I spent our time eating (and drinking coffee) our way through the city. We did a bunch of walking and a bit of driving, since we were staying in North Charleston at a La Quinta (La Quinta again!) to save money.  Hotels in downtown Charleston are a bit steep.

Granted, my former comments about food in Florence seem a tad silly considering that I ate at Sticky Fingers, drank a sweet tea and got a praline in Charleston, but I say that those are cultural experiences! We also hit up the Whole Foods, ate my previously mentioned snacks and had a lot more options for food in general.

I got a tour of Carmella's hometown, ordered a $3 house-made cinnamon whisky shot that came served in a plastic dixie cup and took a bunch of pictures of flowers because that's what I do.  We essentially wandered around, got to chat (and chat and chat) and admired the town.  It was good fun.

I'm still not particularly cut out to live in the south because of stuff like this:

NOPE! Not okay.

But Charleston is a remarkable, little oasis in South Carolina.

I was also reminded how much I love road trips. Even the 9 hour haul from Charleston back to Maryland was a fun time for me.  Give me good music* and open road and I'm a happy camper. I did hit considerably more traffic on the way back when I reached Richmond, but it still wasn't as bad as it could have been.  Of course, Carmella and I had stayed up talking all night and had gotten no sleep before our VERY early departures, so I was subsisting on fumes, caffeine and music tempo.  I did not look great when I got home.

*In case you were wondering. Ben Howard and Bastille. 

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Past Road Trip Part 3

After leaving Albuquerque, we continued on towards Sedona. Before reaching our next destination, however, we made a mid-road decision to follow signs to a meteor crater.  Because, come on, don't you want to see a giant meteor crater?

I would like to point out that this picture was taken through the window of a moving a car.  I'm quite proud of myself for this one.

I would like to point out that this picture was taken through the window of a moving a car.  I'm quite proud of myself for this one.

First, I need to back up and talk about our stop off at a gas station.  Seriously.  It's important.

We stopped off at a gas station in the, you guessed it, middle of nowhere and filled up.  We ended up chatting with a guy who pulled in behind us.  What did we chat about? The massive number of dead bugs that were smashed on the front of our respective vehicles.  

In case you ever plan on doing a US road trip, you really should be aware of this reality of open road driving.  Many, many, many insects, both small and large, will meet their fate on your windshield and front bumper.  An insect of the decidedly large variety was smushed on the front of this dude's SUV.  And I am talking remarkably HUGE. Comically huge. Therefore, when Carmella and I stepped out of the car to stretch our legs and caught sight of this massive winged behemoth that was decorating his front grill, the laughter just rolled out of us. The awkward positioning of this poor creature's demise was just too much.  We'd been stuck in a car for several long hours so it really didn't take much at this point to crack us up and this would have been funny on an ordinary day. The owner of the adorned vehicle came out to see what was so hysterical and he caught sight of his new traveling companion and joined in on the laugher. Although, not quite as intensely, I must say. I guess he wasn't as delirious as we were. Anyway, the point is, we shared a laugh, a quick chat and introduced ourselves. His name is Matt. (or Mark...or Mike.  I'm 80% sure it was Matt.) Then we both went on our merry ways.  

It was after this gas station stop that we started seeing signs for a meteor crater.  Since road trips are not complete without at least one unplanned stop, we exited at one of the meteor exits. (I say "one of" because apparently there were two.)  The detour that led to the crater was a bit longer than expected and qualifies as being a road to nowhere.  That is, until you make the final turn and dip, and a single building reveals itself.  This single building is the meteor crater museum, built flush against the giant crater with paths leading around part of the crater's rim. 

When we parked in the museum parking lot we saw a familiar vehicle.  It was Matt's* bug-adorned SUV!

*His name may not be Matt.

We rejoiced at the funny kismet that had brought us together again. And this is where the second exit comes into play, because Matt definitely did not follow us to the crater. We separately decided "Meteor crater?! OOOoooOOOH! Let's see that!"

The three of us paid for a museum tour and saw the remaining crater fragment.  We got treated to a very informative walking tour of the museum, full of interesting facts, none of which I remember.

The largest remaining remnant of the original meteor.

The largest remaining remnant of the original meteor.

After the tour, we walked out and took a bunch of pictures of the massive impact site. It is hard to get a feel for the scale, but this is a really large crater. I'm pretty sure the tour guide provided a measurement using football fields, but again, I did not retain that factoid. If you care, Google it. Google knows everything.

Meteor-Crater.JPG

And, YES, we did take a group picture with our new man friend.

Meteor-crater-group.jpg

After this adventure we said goodbye to Matt* for real and proceeded towards Sedona.

*(?)

Sedona is GORGEOUS.  Just stunning.  Even the air feels fresher than anywhere I can remember.  Here's a bunch of photos.

That little motel/hotel in the picture is where we stayed.  It was an awesome view to wake to in the morning.

We spent a lot of time in crystal shops and other hippie-licious stores full of good vibes. A quick rain poured while we were in one of the shops and a worker ran outside to dance in the rain for a few minutes.  That is Sedona.

We spent two nights in Sedona and just loved it. We nearly unpacked there.  The little town is adorable and charming. If you have any bit of gypsy in your soul, take a little trip to Sedona. You'll enjoy it.

After Sedona, we headed towards the City of Angels and returned Carmella's things to whence they came.

Thus concludes my epic three-part chronicle of my Austin to Los Angeles road trip.

 

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Past Road Trip Part 2

After leaving Austin and heading west, Texas got pretty...desolate.

We drove through a lot of little dilapidated towns where we played "find the church" and "find the post office."  Every town, no matter how small, had a post office and church.  Sometimes multiple churches.  

Of course, driving on open two-lane roads is WAY better than sitting in anger-inducing city traffic.  Not to mention that we had excellent music in the car.  Between Ben Howard, The Lumineers, and Trevor Hall, driving was an auditory experience.

Other than our concert on wheels, the highlight of that first day was Roswell, NM.  We had planned from the beginning to make a mid-day stop in Roswell and view some top-notch alien-inspired kitsch.  

Roswell-Museum.jpg

That's right, folks.  It is a museum AND RESEARCH CENTER.  With such damning evidence as:

I enjoy that last photograph thusly: First, it has our reflections in it, which is kind of cool in a terrible photography skills kind of way.  But second is that the poster is a purely pictorial explanation.  This is what the poster board is demonstrating:

There are three different types of alien encounters.

  1. First Kind is simply seeing the spaceship in the air
  2. Second Kind is when the spaceship lands on Earth
  3. Third Kind is actual contact with the aliens themselves

(Hence the movie title: Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

You're welcome for that crucial education.

The absolute best displays are the straight up alien reproductions.  

**I would like to point out that I am wearing sunglasses inside of the museum in that picture, not because I'm just that cool, but because we got up stupid early in the morning in order to be able to make it from Austin to Albuquerque in one day.  Without the sunglasses on I looked like death.  It also would appear that I was too tired to focus and frame photos properly, so yes those pictures are a bit wonky. Apologies.

Every half-hour the central alien display lights up and the saucer spins.  The aliens' legs are illuminated with blue light and actual Christmas tree lights are involved.  It feels very true to life.

Although, in all seriousness, Roswell is flat.  Too flat.  Unnaturally flat.  Therefore, Carmella and I concluded that there is definitely a top secret facility underground and the town is so over-the-top ridiculous in order to throw us off the scent.  Not us!

Oh and all of the street lamps in Roswell look like this:

After our mind-blowing experience in Roswell, where we resisted purchasing anything from here:

UFO-Stuff.jpg

We continued on towards Albuquerque.

Albuquerque was not much of an experience.  I'm sure that the city has plenty to offer, but we arrived late at night famished and exhausted.  We barely succeeded in getting some food before passing out back at the hotel.  We ended up at a rather dingy Denny's (and that is dingy on the Denny's scale if that paints a better picture) right next to our hotel since at that late hour it was one of the only options.  Not that Denny's is ever quality (other than drunk at 2:00 am when it is DELICIOUS), but sober at midnight it is especially disappointing. 

We stayed in a La Quinta, which seems to be becoming the budget hotel of choice for Carmella and I seeing as how we just stayed in a La Quinta in Charleston as well. (A post about that trip upcoming!)

The next morning we packed up, grabbed some coffee from the free continental breakfast, and pointed our wheels towards Sedona.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Past Road Trip Part 1

My upcoming road adventures have gotten me thinking about some of my past trips. My most recent road escapade was a jaunt from Austin to Los Angeles, by way of Albuquerque and Sedona.  There was a hysterical museum visit in Roswell, a pit stop at a meteor crater where we made a new friend, a dingy Denny's dinner that left us appreciating the food options in places like Austin and Los Angeles, and a long stretch of nothing.  And I do mean nothing:

Nowhere-collage.jpg

I was in Maryland in grad school when my best friend had a very intense need to get out of her cockroach infested apartment in Austin and move back to LA.  I flew to Austin and helped her pack up everything in her apartment that we didn't manage to sell on Craig's List, and quite literally shoved (mixed with some finesse) all of her belongings into her rented SUV.  (Her poor Volkswagen wasn't going to be up the to trip.) 

No space was left unoccupied.  Although, we did manage to fit all of her belongings INSIDE of the car, unlike these people:

Car-Austin.jpg

I did get to tour a bit of Austin before we bolted from the cockroach lair.  

*Quick side note: if you have a genuine cockroach phobia, I would not suggest living in Texas. They have rather unique cockroaches. They are large. And fly.  Luckily, I am oddly unafraid of insects so I was able to be the designated cockroach destroyer while I was there, but poor Carmella was worse for the wear.  

Austin definitely has some awesome food trucks.

via seriouseats.com

via seriouseats.com

Naturally, we had to get cupcakes at Hey Cupcake!

via wellheeledblog.com

via wellheeledblog.com

We also browsed some cute shops and spent an OBSCENE amount of time in the flagship Whole Foods that is located in Austin.  We are both Real-Food obsessed so that was a rather profound experience.

I wish I had taken some pictures of my own, but I tended to be too be engulfed in the experience, so I'm borrowing these from others.

via thechubbyvegan.blogspot.com

via thechubbyvegan.blogspot.com

via 1000dias.com

via 1000dias.com

via eating-made-easy.com

via eating-made-easy.com

via farmersmarketvegan.wordspress.com

via farmersmarketvegan.wordspress.com

via tender-roots.com

via tender-roots.com

via eatpure.blogspot.com

via eatpure.blogspot.com

via bluebonnetinbeantown.blogspot.com

via bluebonnetinbeantown.blogspot.com

Seriously, Whole Foods was one of the biggest deals for me.  If you are ever in Austin and like food, go there. 

South Congress is a super cute area and there are some really unique finds in Austin shops such as my nag-champa-scented Ganesha car air freshener, journals made of recycled stuff and cool art pieces.

Austin-Stuff.jpg

I also got to see another friend who had moved from LA to Austin as well, and watch her Improv Show, which is always good fun.  I love improv comedy.  And my friend has serious talent. Ashley, you are one talented lady! 

Then, after some book store browsing (because ALWAYS), thus concluded my Austin stay.

And then we were off!

The-Hungry-Gypsy-Roadtrip.jpg
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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Walters Art Gallery

Museums are lovely.  

They are full of human expression, captivating the human experience over decades, centuries and even millennia.  

It had been a little while since I had been to The Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, so when my brother and his girlfriend were in town we took a little jaunt downtown.  I got a little photo happy.

The Walters has so much variety within its halls.  It has a modern feel in its outer design, equipped with a silver spiral staircase and glass entrance, but within different sections there are deep earth tones, ancient castle-like touches and grand columns giving way to a two-story open terrace.

While I was in the Ancient Egypt corridor a French family with three young children was also there, exploring the relics alongside me.  I loved hearing the children speaking in rapid fire French.  I challenged myself to make out as many words as possible.  A little game to try pull out any remaining knowledge of the French language I've retained since college.

I felt very cosmopolitan in that moment.  Standing in a museum, taking in art, surrounded by multiple spoken and written languages.

I love that feeling.

 

Here is another selfie-slider: Museum version.  So silly.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

A Bit of Baltimore

Isn't it kind of funny how we forget to explore our own home town?

I'm from the suburbs of Baltimore, and while I am a diehard Ravens and Orioles fan (and always will be no matter what city I live in), I've spent way more time truly exploring all of the other cities that I've lived in.  That has always been my M.O. when I land in a new place: walk around.  Get to know the area.  People watch.  It's one of my favorite things and I don't really do it very much in Maryland.  Nor in D.C. (Which will be the focus of a future post since it's also so familiar and close to home that I owe it some love too.) I've only started to appreciate the fact that Baltimore has been a bit neglected in my eyes and deserves some time and photographic attention.  

Baltimore's inner harbor has always been one of my favorite places.  I have vivid memories of it growing up.  

It always seemed so big back then.  Now I recognize that the physical space deemed The Inner Harbor is actually quite compact.

I'll always remember this incredible science and nature store located in one of the harbor buildings.  I don't remember its name, but I'll never forget the feeling I got when I walked in: Other-worldly. As if I had stumbled inside a fantasy novel. I'd fallen through the closet into Narnia.  

That store is long gone, its rooms having undergone multiple owner transitions between the 90's and now.  

Still I love that sensation.  It seems to be one of those unique experiences so common in childhood that as adults we yearn to have again.  I believe it is entirely possible to be utterly in awe of the world around us as an adult, but it is certainly less common.  As children, the world feels infinite.  As adults, sometimes we lose sight of the enormity of the universe and forget to be impressed.

That is why it is wonderful to go someplace where the city lights don't block out the stars, to travel to areas of the planet that look nothing like our hometowns, and to step inside museums and art galleries to behold some of man's and natures's most beautiful creations.

And then it is wonderful to revisit our hometowns with fresh eyes.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Seriously this place exists

Have you heard of American Girl Dolls?

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Did you know that they have American Girl Doll Stores?  Stores that are multilevel behemoths that include doll hair salons, doll hospitals, cafes for you and your doll, photography sessions for you and your doll and even doll ear piercing.

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This place is real.  It is located in New York City.

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The miniature salon chairs slay me.

There are American Girl stores in other locations as well.  My Mom had been to one in Chicago and thought that, "you just have to see this for yourself!"  So when we stepped off of the Howard County Park and Recreation Department 55+ bus (yep) in NYC and she spotted the American Girl store across the street, she said we had to go.  After waiting IN A LINE (I'm serious) to get into the American Girl store I got to witness firsthand what must be millions of little girls' fantasy land.  I about died.  The whole thing had me in stitches for a solid half hour.  The place was mobbed.  Someone in that marketing/creative department knows what she is doing. 

via talesalongtheway.com

via talesalongtheway.com

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Shameless Hiking Selfies

Haha!

At the time, these seemed like harmless documentation of my hiking adventures. Now looking at these pictures cracks me up because they seem so narcissistic. While these were taken before the term "selfie" became a thing (thank you Twitter and Instagram), that's what they are.  

Good LORD sometimes I'm ridiculous.  

If you want a good laugh you can watch my (way too long- seriously what the hell, me?!) slideshow of shameless-on-the-trail selfies. 

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.