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
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.

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
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.

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.

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.

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.

ย 

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. 

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.

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.

ย 

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.

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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.