Atlantic to Pacific

This is crazy. This is madness.
I donโ€™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 hadnโ€™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.

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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.

ย 

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.

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.