Road Trip Essentials
November 202018

Obviously, the most important thing to a road trip is a car – and I just recently got a new one! After having many struggles with my first and only car, a 2006 Kia Sportage with over 200,000 miles, I made the jump to a 2016 Subaru Forester. I rented one when I drove to the Oregon coast and loved it so much,  I had my eye on it when car shopping. Of course, I got green! I picked this size because it’s not overly big but still fits my road trip mattress in the back. I talked about road trips quite awhile ago, mainly focusing on car camping: The Good of Roadtrips, the Bad of Car Camping. But today I’m sharing some things I always try to have on a road trip! Always be prepared.

Instead of blowing money on whatever mediocre snacks I can find at the gas station I stop at, I always try and get snacks a couple of days before a road trip. Not only does this help me save money, it helps when I know I have something I’ll want (that’s also healthy!). I will usually bring protein bars, like Clif, RX, or Lara. I love bringing a bag of apples because that freshness is always welcome when you’ve been in the car for a few hours. And weirdly enough, chips and salsa is one of my favorite road trip snacks! It’s easy enough to dip straight out of the jar and easy to keep mess-free if you’re careful (or not driving). I’ll also pack pb&j ingredients because it’s my favorite hiking food, but after a terrible mishap in California I’ll never make another sandwich while on the road again.

The truth of road trips is you’ll probably have to have fast food now and again if you’re trying to save time and want something warm. Being a vegetarian, it’s not always easy to get something good. I’ve definitely learned where my favorite stops are. The market base salad at Chik-fil-A is great because it’s cheaper without the meat and is full of yummy fruits and nuts. I’ve also become a fan of the simple egg biscuit at McDonald’s. I’ve learned that too much fried food when stuck on a road trip is a bad idea, so I definitely try and stay away from fries and hashbrowns even though they’re so delicious. Of course, it’s not always easy to count on a certain fast food place to be around on the route, so I’ve learned to be flexible with the side items on the menu.

There’s only a couple of comfort items I keep on hand, mainly because I usually have a bed made up in the back. It’s an old futon mattress I cut to make it a single or double sized depending on how many of us are on the trip. We usually make it with one sheet, one pillow, and one blanket so that stuff doesn’t take up too much room. (Especially when we also have our sleeping bags with us.) One of my most important items is a pair of easy slip-on shoes no matter the weather. Getting out for a tank fillup without shoes – or having to put on boots – is so obnoxious that I always throw some sandals in my door side. It’s a no-brainer and I have a few pairs at all times in my car, but sunglasses are obviously essential for any road trip.

One of my favorite thing about road trips is discovering new things you hadn’t even thought to  look for. It’s important to know in your trip itinerary when you have extra time for stops. It’s when I leave this time that I love looking for billboards or shops that look fun or interesting. These random stops are responsible for me checking out the Georgetown caves in Texas, stopping to pet a baby alligator in Louisiana, and  the cute coffee shop find in the middle of nowhere New Mexico.

It’s important to note there’s a few things I bring just in case of emergencies. I always have a lot of stuff for the car: spare tire, automatic air pump, various fuses and tools for easy fixes. I always have lots of water just in case. (Water! Yes! Always water, usually in jugs that I pour into the two different water bottles I have with me.) I always have my taser just in case. (Especially if I’m camping or doing a lot of night driving.) I also always have my mini first aid kit with me because accidents do happen. I got a splinter at a gas station once (gross) so I was glad to have the medical tweezers.

What do you bring on your road trips?

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When I thrift, I mostly head to various Goodwills and various stores with the word Thrift in the name. However, for some who aren’t necessarily interested in going through a lot of bad for a big reward, there’s better secondhand shops that carry a lot more name brands and current trends. Not only that, there’s a couple of places in the Dallas area that are known for collecting amazing vintage finds. Here’s a roundup of some of the best Dallas thrift (with a focus on vintage) shops.

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After the awesomeness of El Malpais, we were fine that El Morro was a little disappointing. The El Morro National Monument is most known for its sandstone cliffside. Deciding our drive up to its massive edge was good enough, we got our stamp and continued on.

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The three of us (well, four, counting Florence the dog) left our airbnb pretty early so we could get on the road. We stopped at an independent coffee shop in Santa Fe, called Betterday, for a little caffeine kick. Then we were catching the sunrise from the windows of my car. Even better, since we were driving past Albuquerque, we caught a sky full of air balloons from afar. It was great up close watching them launch the day before, but it was also great seeing them all laid out across the big blue sky.

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Dallas Ghost Tour
October 302018

Since Halloween’s tomorrow, this is a special spooky blogpost! My mom and I loved the ghost tour we took on our trip to Jefferson, TX, so we decided to try out one in the Dallas area!

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Originally, I hadn’t planned on doing a whole blog about just Meow Wolf but here we are. This art installation in Santa Fe had been on my list for a long time after a friend sent me a link telling me to go there almost two years prior. So now with some free time Friday evening in the Santa Fe area, it was time to check it out!

With my main knowledge of this art installation being pictures, I imagined it was very similar to the Sweet Tooth Hotel art installation that had been back in Dallas, which you can read about in this post: Sweet Tooth Hotel. I thought it would be a lot of people taking pictures, with only a handful of things to see, with a time limit so the next specific group of people could enter. No to all accounts.

This place was insane!

What’s great about Meow Wolf, is you’re not just taking pictures of everything, you’re actually going through it to explore. There is so much to see – so many different paths to take it feels like a secret garden. Except instead of a garden, it’s a forest, a house, a spaceship, another world entirely.

I went into this a little buzzed from trying a local cider, but I felt sobered up as soon as I entered the house. There’s truly just so much to look at! There were (supposedly) two actors creepily watching a television, a forgotten seance at the dining room table, a lonely looking dryer machine – except, wait! I opened the dryer and bright colors met me and I saw a path to a new place. So I slide down the tunnel and ended up staring at a big mystical tree.

Seriously, if this place sounds like a fever dream – it’s not. It’s just art.

I took pictures when I remembered, but mostly I just explored and tried not to lose track of my friends, Jenna and Lola. With so many different paths to choose, so many different colored rooms calling me, it was hard to figure out the maze-like exhibit. Every inch had something new to see. But also so many different things to do – like playing the magic mushrooms like a xylophone.

I’d definitely make another visit, because even after spending more than an hour here (till the ten o’clock closing time just as a concert started in another wing), there’s no way I saw everything. And they’re adding to it all the time!

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I’ll be honest, a lot of the National Park sites are very similar. I’ve been all over the Southwest region and seen an assortment of battlefields, ruins, forts, and pictographs left by lots of different Peoples. In most cases, it feels like you seen one, you’ve seen them all. But every now and then, there’s room for surprise.

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I’ll be honest all I really knew about the city of Albuquerque was a Weird Al Yankovich song. What’s funny about falling in love with Albuquerque, New Mexico is that originally the first time we were just passing through. Being a major city, it makes for a great pit stop on a road trip.

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It’s Fall, Y’all!
October 112018

Well, it’s kind of fall. Technically, October has arrived – but the weather hasn’t exactly gotten it together in Texas. I might’ve unpacked my sweaters, but I’m still wearing short-sleeved shirts the majority of the time. However, that wasn’t going to stop me from visiting a pumpkin patch!

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After a girls day in Mexico, we were ready to cool off along the South Padre coast. Perfectly along this drive between my friend Jenna’s home and the beach, was a National Park site (almost like we planned it, huh). The Palo Alto Battlefield was about to close, but we made it just in time.

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With only a few more National Park sites left to visit in Texas, it was time for a weekend road trip. All three sites were along the southern east edge of my home state, two being very close to my friend Jenna’s hometown. So it was a perfect time to visit the house where Jenna grew up (in the plains with big homes next to goats!)- and just over her town’s bridge you could walk to Mexico!

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If you’ve ever flown Spirit Airlines you know they charge for every little thing, including a carry-on. Because my trip to Mexico would only be 48 hours, I was sure I could fit everything I needed into a little backpack approved by the airlines as a “personal item.” What made this idea even better was that I already had a little day hike bag on order that would perfectly fit the dimensions allowed.

Of course, this bag that would be perfect for both my California and Tulum trip (back-to-back weekends) showed up exactly one day after my flight had me due back home. In a last minute scramble for a small backpack that wouldn’t be a total waste, I went for a cute cheap one that cost me only eleven bucks.

I was so proud of fitting an additional day’s swimwear and outfit in this little bag! I’m pretty good at packing light, mostly because I can plan what I will wear for every thing planned in my itinerary. Knowing what I will need and be wearing makes it a whole lot easier to pack. Then with any leftover room, I’ll throw in an “option” outfit. Plus, I’ve been doing the “army roll” packing technique since I was twelve.

Unfortunately, even though I’d planned outfits perfectly, my cheapness would come back to haunt me (doesn’t it always?) and my zipper would be giving me trouble the first hour after landing. It just wouldn’t work right with everything I’d crammed in! So after less than twenty-four hours of struggling (even though I’d perfected the departure flight), my backpack was broke and I was traveling around Mexico holding my bag flaps together.

I spent a lot of my last night in Playa del Carmen scouring souvenir shops for a bag that would fit the Spirit requirements, wasn’t too expensive (like the gorgeous embroidered leather backpacks I kept seeing but knew I was too poor for), and would be something I could keep using even after returning home. Finally, I found a cute cotton tote that would be perfect for my light grocery shopping when I made it back home. I cleaned out my bag, only had to lose one swimsuit cover-up that just wouldn’t fit, and thought all would be well on the flight back.

Unfortunately, it would be this clean-out and not the new bag that would cause me to almost be left in Mexico. Ai yi yi.

Tracy and I, both being Type A, had gotten to the airport three hours early after dropping off the rental car. We wanted no stress of rushing through the airport, dealing with any customs stuff, and finding our yet unnamed gate. Even after the unnecessary line at the “one” Spirit ticket kiosk, we still had time to explore the airport shops and have a sit-down meal at the airport Margaritaville. We were living a very relaxed airport life. Then it was time to board and right as they were asking for my boarding pass it was mentioned that I also needed the customs form that hadn’t been needed since landing in Mexico two days earlier. Even as I dumped my new bag out, I clearly remembered disposing (carefully, I might add) of that little slip of paper that hadn’t seemed at all important at the time.

I would not be allowed on the plane without it and there was only twenty or so people left to board before take off. I was freaking out. I got instructions from the flight attendant twice on where I had to go to get a replacement. Tracy handed me two 20 dollar bills quickly – because of course they would only take cash – and then I began to run through the airport. My destination was outside of security and by now it was midday so those lines were long, very long. I ran to the side where it looked to be a handicap access area and said, “I’m getting a new customs form. I’m coming right back through here.”

Without waiting for approval, I ran out to the main entrance of the Cancun Airport. I got a new customs form (thankfully I’d brought along my passport with my wallet – my bag was with Tracy back at the boarding line). And then ran back to the security checkpoint. The lines were so long it looked like it would take me at least half an hour to get through – but no, I ran back to the side line and rushed back under the handicap sign. I nodded to the woman who I’d spoken to without waiting for confirmation, threw my stuff on the conveyor belt, and ran back through the duty-free shops. At the gate, it was just Tracy and the flight attendant left, the later giving me a surprised, “Oh, you made it.” So some people don’t make it?!

After wasting more time by checking all my stuff, dangerous chemical test swabs and a pat down, they finally let me on the plane. Tracy was a trooper for waiting; I would’ve hated if she got stuck in Mexico because of me! We could somewhat laugh about it after taking our seats, but mostly my heart was still pumping and I couldn’t yet appreciate crossing a new experience off my bucket list – running through an airport.

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Yet again, checking into our next Airbnb in Mexico would turn out to be rough. Tracy and I had moved on to Playa del Carmen for our last night, wanting to be closer to Cancun where we would fly out in the morning. Even though it was a pain to find, once we did we realized we found our second paradise! Not only did it come with a “hot tub” and a freaking rope swing(!), we got beach access passes as well.

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After a night of just drinking and exploring the souvenir shops, it was time to get up early and hit the tourist spots. The main attraction in Tulum is the Tulum ruins, which is the site of old Mayan temples and buildings. As you may know, I’m not super into ruins, but these ranked number one on almost every Tulum tourism list.

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Tequila + Tulum = No Worries
September 132018

Since last minute getting my passport last year, I made it my goal to travel outside of the US at least once a year. I started getting nervous because I didn’t have an international trip planned and I think this realization spurred my sudden obsession with going to Tulum. I’d read a blog about some great places in Tulum and the more research I did, the more I saw how affordable a weekend getaway to Mexico would be!

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As I’m sure is true of most kids from Texas, I have never surfed. I grew up with the fake ocean at the water park, Hurricane Harbor. My first beach was going to Port Aransas on a high school trip. The water was murky and full of lifeless jelly fish. (It was still incredible.) But believe it or not, I recently learned to surf in the middle of Texas, at a “surf resort” in Waco.

My dad is big into surfing on wave riders, like the one he originally  learned on at Hurricane Harbor. When I mentioned to him that I wanted to learn to surf on a real surfboard, he was interested in joining me. Just when I thought there’d be no time in my schedule for an impromptu trip to a real beach, my dad mentioned the BSR cable park that had only recently opened their surf section.

After a lazy Sunday morning, I met up with my dad to head down to Waco. I’d been bummed that I couldn’t make it to Colorado again this summer (to retry our kayaking adventure), so planning on spending the day together was nice.

We got there early to check out the place. It was cool checking out the wake boarders using the cable pull system to ride the lake. They also had a little lazy river where people floated and big slides that sent people launching into the air. We headed over to the “beach” area to check out some surfing. The current session was a beginners’ crowd, but a lot of people looked like they were pretty good.

Eventually it was time to grab our own boards because our hour time slot had approached. A helpful guy told us to grab the longest boards possible because it would be easier. (I would find out later this was bad advice.)

No one really monitored to us after we got our boards, so my dad and I kind of just swam out to where ten or so other surfers headed. The wave was produced every five minutes or so evenly across the water, and immediately people started going for it. My dad and I had definitely expected an instructor, but we started by just watching everyone around us and mimicking what they did.

Luckily for me, the beach manager started coming around and saw me struggling so took me under his wing. He told me where to lay on the board, where to put my arms and legs, and taught me the timing of the wave and when to swim hard. Finally things were happening! Every time I paddled back I’d shout the information over to my dad.

After four waves the manager told me since I’d gotten good at timing and form, to just get on my knees to ride the wave. And then he left to help another girl nearby. The hardest part was definitely timing. Looking back and learning when to start swimming hard and cresting the pull of the curl started to feel rhythmic.

For my last couple of waves I rode it on my knees all the way to the shore. Just as I was getting ready to try getting up (or at least on one knee) our hour was up. It had gone by so fast! The sport mentality had taken over and I really got submersed in learning new things, but overall it had been so fun! It was surprising how little I was able to talk to my dad though – it really felt like a singular sport.

The manager met up with us again to take our boards and said we had done great for our first time so that was nice. He said it took a lot more hours to be ready for the advanced group, but that we could definitely do it if we practiced. Watching the advanced group, who had now taken the waves, was awesome. They made it look so effortless!

I will for sure be surfing again some day! But I might stick to the man-made waves for now. Much less swimming means much less getting tired out means much more practice! Now don’t get me wrong, I was still sore as heck the next day.

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This blog is one year old today!! So I don’t truly believe in horoscopes, but sometimes it’s fun to look at them after the day has passed. I officially started this blog on this date, exactly a year ago. Before taking time to think about how far I’ve come (a lot!), I wanted to share my horoscope of that -this- day, 2017.

“A critical turning point arrives in your life today via the full moon in Pisces, dear Gemini. You need to find a better balance between your personal and your public lives.”

How funny, as a pretty private person, that day would be the one I would start sharing my journey on the internet. So why did I start a blog? Mainly because I love writing, always have. Secondly because I was excited to be actively pursuing adventure instead of just dreaming about it.

Once I started traveling and having new experiences, I realized how easy it is to do! If you make it a priority, if you chase your interests, it’ll happen. So now not only do I hold myself accountable by blogging twice weekly, I try to encourage readers to get out and and explore also! Sometimes it seems we’re just afraid to take that first step.

I’ve started my mission to collect all of the National Parks stamps – I’ll even be done with the entire Southwest Region by the end of this year!

I made it my mission to travel internationally at least once a year – after booking impromptu trips this and the previous summer to Belize and Tulum, respectively.

I made it a goal to be a tourist in my hometown, Dallas, so I could experience all the hot spots as well as find new local things to do.

I’ve prioritized hiking, by trying to make it to every trail and park in my area. I wanted to prove to myself I could find amazing nature in the backyard of a big city.

And finally, I’ve strived to say yes more and more. When a friend invites me to a sage-making class, when my dad invites me to learn a new sport – I go!

So yeah, I’ve shared a lot with all of you. On my Instagram, I try to post daily to keep myself active in adventure. But I’m still pretty private, and that’s good. I’m very protective of my relationship, I try not to be too obnoxious with picture-taking, and I totally understand when a friend doesn’t want to be mentioned in a blog.

I’ve learned a lot about balancing! For me that mainly means pursuing what makes me happy and being so, so grateful for everyone in my life. It would’ve been much harder on this journey alone (i.e. impossible). So thanks everyone for a fantastic, unimaginable first year!

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Before my friends and I could head into San Francisco, we needed a coffee stop to become more human. After camping for the last couple of days and getting some odd hours sleeping cramped in our little rental car, we needed the caffeine and a restroom.

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It seems odd to be heading to the Big Lagoon in Redwood National Park, but after our morning hike we were ready for a bit of a cool down and some relaxation. I’d never been to a lagoon before, but this one just ended up looking like a little pond. I had imagined lush greenery and cool blue waters. The water was pretty cold though, so after a dip it turned into taking a nap in the grass.

It was getting late in the afternoon, so Austin, Jenna, and I headed to the showers so we could get some of the trip’s grime off us before one final hike. Yes, if you’re wondering, we would’ve liked to shower after our final hike, but since the campsites were full we would be backcountry camping in the area of the Tall Trees trail. Logistically, we were going to take it easy on our hike and try and remain comfortable for camping.

As mentioned in my previous post, you need permits to get to the Tall Trees trail and you have to drive a bit of rough road to get there. Having the code to get into this “private” area was so cool. Plus, we were finally going to spend some time with the actual redwoods! So much of Redwood Park is devoted to nature that isn’t exactly tree related. I was ready to finally walk among the tallest trees in the world!

This trail started at the top of a hill, so the trail itself had a bit of elevation and several switchbacks. But being in the trees that blocked the surrounding stuff out was amazing. I haven’t grown up with much woods in my life, so being in a huge forest with massive trees was definitely different.

Once we reached the bottom, we were in the “Tall Trees Grove” which was full of the biggest trees I’ve ever seen. We hadn’t run into hardly anyone, but now that we had hiked a couple hours we could hear campers not too far from the creek. It was lovely. However, we had not hiked down with our tent, so after some photos (of course), it was time to head back the way we’d come.

The sun was definitely setting, and we’d planned on setting up our tent in the dark, but Jenna had us on a mission to hike back up and out before all the light was gone. Even with some steep spots of elevation, we made it back up in less than an hour. We’d turned on our lights only five minutes before we were done, so we basically accomplished our goal.

Setting up camp though, seemed like a tiresome ordeal. We hadn’t had a great night’s sleep previously, we were all pretty amped from our vigorous hike, and as we were scouting for a location to set up our tent, we wondered if it was worth it. The time of sleep we’d get would be almost equivalent to how long it would take to set up and break down camp. We scrapped our plan and decided to just go ahead and get on the road while we were still wide awake.

This would prove to be kind of awful, because all the motels along our drive were completely booked or super expensive. We didn’t realize how much traffic had headed to the California coast to escape the big Carr wildfires. Plus it was summer, prime time for camping and road trips. After getting too exhausted to keep driving, we finally pulled over and grabbed a few hours sleep in our cramped car. The plus side is the sun was rising soon and we had gained more time for a stop in San Francisco!

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After a little bit of a restless night’s sleep – I had to pee but had done so much bear research I’d scared myself into getting out of the tent in the middle of the night – it was time for our first full day at Redwood National Park! Since we were at the northern edge of the park, we first drove the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway.

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My friend Austin had Alaska Airlines vouchers that he needed to use by the end of August, so it was time to make a trip back to the west coast! He’d been to Seattle and I’d been to Portland so we made a compromise and made plans to head to Redwood National Park in California. Funnily enough, our flights would take us briefly to Seattle and through some of the coastline of Oregon, giving us a bit of a win-win!

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Party Pants and Abba, join Alicia in Bishop Arts District of Dallas as she discovers tea shops and vagabond shops.

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As most of you know by now, I love finding hidden nature trails in the city! Nestled in the Northern suburbs of Dallas we have some hidden gems like the Katie Jackson Trail.

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As I approach my blog’s one year anniversary, I’ve decided to take a week-long break from blogging, social media, and even -gasp- adventure. I think R&R is super important, and I think R&R&R&R is something I’m in very much need of. I want to take this break for the classic rest and relaxation, but I also want to spend much of it reflecting and remembering my previous year of experiences.

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As soon as it started hitting the 100s in Dallas, I knew it was time to find a pool of water. I have access to a small apartment pool, but that is just not the same as finding a big lake to swim in! After a bit of research for close swimmable lakes – I found out about Joe Pool Lake in Grapevine!

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By our last day in Jefferson, Texas, mom and I were experts. We knew to take our time in the morning, tie back the curtains, and enjoy the lazy start of the town. We eventually moseyed on to breakfast after nine, heading to the Jefferson Outpost. This store opened “early” to serve breakfast in the back. We ordered our meal, taking in the easy nature of the community.

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Inspired to Thrift
July 172018

My visit to the small town of Jefferson, TX inspired an addictive habit to pop back up: my need to shop. Luckily now my shopaholic syndrome is balanced by a head for budgeting and a mantra of spending on experiences – but thrifting let’s me get away with everything. I never spend a lot of money and the hunt for treasures is always a good time.

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Since I’ve been sharing my trip in Jefferson on the blog, and today is Friday the 13th (Oooh), I thought it’d be a great opportunity to share with y’all the spookier side of Jefferson, TX! And um, my very own ghost experience while staying in this “sweet” little town. Boo!

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My mom called me one day to ask if I wanted to go to a little town called Jefferson, located right on the east edge of Texas. I think her old lady club (love ya, mom!) had been talking about it and she wanted me to go with her because she knew my old lady soul would enjoy it too. Spoiler alert: she was right!

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I only stumbled upon this trail after passing it a few times while grabbing lunch on my work break. The entrance is tucked under a major highway on the edge of Dallas. So one morning before work, the weather was nice, I had on sporty sandals, and I decided, heck, why not?

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My friend Derek’s wedding was terrific (so great I took zero pictures) and we were down to our final hours in Washington DC. The friend group had varying flights out, but I had almost a whole twenty-four hours left to see what I could get up to! A few of us left on Sunday decided we would check out the International Spy Museum.

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Besides monuments and museums, there was only one other highly recommended activity in Washington DC: Drag Brunch at Nellie’s Sports Bar. The local who had given us tourist tips had said it was a must if we had time – and it was one of the top activities on TripAdvisor.

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On our first full day in Washington D.C., we had plans to play tourist! After lacing up our comfortable walking shoes and grabbing a breakfast which included homemade poptarts at the cutest diner, Ted’s Bulletin, we made our way to all of the nation’s capital’s hot spots.

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Trip planning can be complicated depending on how much time you have and how many people there are to please. But, while I do like a bit of spontaneity, having an itinerary when I travel is always a big help! It makes sure I get done the big things on my list and can also save time and money. Below is the easiest way to lay out a trip!

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Ah, where to begin on my adventure to Washington D.C? Since we were headed there for a friend’s wedding, a big group of us decided to hit up our nation’s capital for a long 5-day weekend. I felt a little awkward “making” my friends embark on my quest for National Park stamps, but they were all for it! I was glad I’d been able to take charge of the schedule so I could make sure friend time and National Park time was fair. I mean, you can’t take a trip to the nation’s capital where there are almost forty stamps to collect – and not let me try for them, right?!

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I woke up to my last day at Big Bend National Park very optimistically. The day felt endless and so I had no doubt I would be able to accomplish every single thing on my Big Bend list. In retrospect, this is hilarious because I had five hours to try and cross off sixty miles of driving and twelve miles of hiking. Plus, you know, enjoy the views. Good luck!

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Sweet Tooth Hotel
June 122018

There’s a new trend in pop art that promotes interaction and temporary installations – that will then last forever through social media. These pop-ups are appearing allover. The main purpose? Get people to take pictures in the art and then post it to their followers.

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It’s finally time for me to share my trip to Big Bend! Being a Texan, this National Park has been on my list from the beginning! When planning my visit to Big Bend National Park, I knew I wanted as much time as possible to try and get as much done there as I could. I gave myself a three day weekend and researched as much as I could. I even highlighted a printout map for the first time!

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Some things have become kind of infamous just for being something that “needs to be seen.” Marfa, Texas is kind of like that. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t exactly have a lot to do there, but people still flock to it. I won’t lie, I’ll tell you right away that Marfa felt pointless.

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I had a heavy wedding season this spring, so I had to halt all traveling for too long. I was so excited to finally get back outdoors and start checking off more National Park sites! Not only that, but resume driving the beautiful countryside from sun up to sun down.

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This Saturday is National Trails Day! I’ll be busy with a friend’s wedding, so I’m hoping to get in my hiking before the weekend arrives. Hiking has become very important to me, so I wanted to share my most personal hiking thoughts.

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A suburb directly north of Dallas, Richardson has some pretty cool events now and again. The Wildflower Festival is definitely one of them. I grew up going to the festival almost every year, but it’s only now in adulthood that I really appreciate it.

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In celebration of the Deep Ellum Wine Walk this evening, it’s time to share my love of this event. I’m always looking for local Dallas happenings, so I was excited to find out about a Deep Ellum one seeing as that’s about five minutes from my house. That it involves drinking wine is even better!

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In honor of Mother’s Day being yesterday, I wanted to share a trip I took recently out to Pilot Point, TX. My wonderful mom and I were already headed out near the area to see my brother’s fiancé’s wedding venue. A quick little detour west and we’d have a chance to check out the “Texas Tulips” that local Dallasites had been raving about.

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I was very excited about this local hike. I’d seen one of my friends frequent it and it looked a bit woodsy and very spacious. It was a bit further north of Dallas in the city of Plano, so I invited my friend Lola for a morning hike since she was on the way.

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As you know, I’ve been trying to experience new things in Dallas – so when I heard that there was something called “goat yoga” I knew I had to check it out!

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After our previous day of nature adventures, I slept good and hard. Now it was time to actual explore the city of Portland. Our flight home was at 3:40pm, so that gave us about six hours to try and tackle the must-sees on our Portland list.

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My only “real” knowledge of Portland, Oregon before this trip was the tv series Portlandia, which seems not too far off in retrospect. This trip was mainly for my travel buddy Jenna, who’s birthday was the following Wednesday. Her Oregon wishlist included lots of nature highlights, so that would be our main goal the first day.

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Having grown up around Dallas, I’ve done almost all of the “touristy” things when I was little, but now that I’m older I want to make sure I fully experience the city I call home. The main goal of the day was to be at the Reunion Tower (the “big ball”) around sunset.

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Waking up well rested in San Antonio, I was ready for a day of exploration. Seeing old friends the night before had been nice, but I was ready to get to some new places and see a side of Texas I hadn’t before.

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Looking at my National Park map, I realized there were still a few sites scattered through central Texas that would require a drive through San Antonio and Austin. The weekend trip would give me an opportunity to finally explore the landscape I’d heard of called “Hill Country.”

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Canyonlands National Park is very big. We put ourselves on a time crunch through Arches because we weren’t sure we’d make it to The Canyonlands visitor center before it closed. From tip to tip, it would take about three hours to cross. And we’d never even heard of it before this!

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Things don’t always work according to plan. I guess I should’ve known from the name we were in for some trouble. Devil’s Campground (in Arches National Park) isn’t exactly a welcoming omen. We were headed from Hovenweep, taking our time exploring the beauty of Utah, and ended up having to take out one of planned stops so we wouldn’t have to feel any kind of time crunch. Unfortunately, it seems I’ll never plan perfectly because we finally got to Arches ten minutes after the visitor center closed. I was worried this meant we couldn’t check into our campground, but we decided there was nothing to do but try for it.

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Usually I’m into a lot of greenery, but my visit to Arches changed something in me and somehow Arches National Park became my favorite Park yet. There was something magical about waking up in the Park and being able to race time to catch the perfect spot for the sunrise.

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All Grown Up Girl Scout
February 272018

As you probably know by now, I’m all into local events and new experiences! What you may not know was that I was a Girl Scout for years when I was a kid! I had such a great time with friends, learning new things, attuning to the outdoors. So when I found out a local Dallas restaurant was doing a Girl Scout cookie and beer pairing, I figured why not!

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A really great side effect of being open to any travel that comes my way is being open to other people’s travel bucket lists. Everyone I know has places that they want to go but before this year I felt like I never knew what they were. Now when I mention something on my list, I’m always met with a dream from someone else’s list. It’s kind of amazing.

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One of the great things I found out about recently is the REI upcoming events page. Not only do they have the dates for upcoming classes and the quartet Garage sale (which is hands down so great), they also list local outdoorsy community service projects. When I saw they would be working on clearing some trails at the Cedar Ridge Preserve, I immediately signed up.

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As someone always on the lookout for new experiences, when my friend Lola texted me about a local sage-making class I was immediately in. We’ve been using local Instagram accounts to find more and more exciting stuff to do. I also have a passing interest in any kind of “new age” or “mystical” stuff, so learning how to make sage bundles sounded really exciting!

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The city of Waco, known as the home of the couple of Fixer Upper, favorite spot of mine as the midpoint between home and Austin, also apparently has a National Park site. Twenty-four mammoth bone structures were found after a flash flood, an impressive amount, and only a couple years ago this was made into a National Park.

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One day was left of our jam-packed National Park New Mexico road trip, so I woke up right at opening for the Aztec Ruins. Turns out they were not actual Aztecs, they were just Native Americans called that by the white settlers who found their settlement ruins. Not having too much time, we powered through a a few buildings and then hit the vantage point which showcased the whole layout of buildings.

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I’ve been on lots of road trips growing up.
My family and I traveled a lot to take my brother to hockey tournaments in lots of different states. Because of this, I have nostalgic memories of being woken up before the sun rose, wrapping myself in my comforter, and bringing a bag of books to the backseat. And when the sun was up, I loved watching the sky, inspecting little pass-through towns, and having long quiet talks with whoever was awake. (Of course, there was lots of fighting with my brother too.)

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There are a ton of National Park spots in New Mexico (basically double the amount in Texas). Not having a lot of vacation to burn, I decided to try my hand at a jam-packed weekend trip that included eight Parks. We left at midnight after our last work day and raced the sun for 48 hours, making it back home only hours before it was time for work again. Spoiler alert: we got all 8 spots!

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A New Home for the Night
January 222018

Last year was my first year using AirBnB for my travels. I was originally interested because of the the variety of unique homes you can stay in (treehouses, tiny homes, etc). Besides being very cheap, it really makes it so you can experience the area like a local. It’s like getting to live in every city as you would if you were a true resident. That all being said, I’ve had really great stays and also really bad ones.

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It was time to venture into Arkansas! Even though the temperatures were easing up only slightly in Dallas, I’d been dreaming of taking a bath in some natural springs. I thought the Hot Springs National Park was the obvious venture, but I’d soon find out all you’d find there were some cool bath houses with fancy spa packages – not exactly the hidden adventure I’d expected. Fortunately, there was still plenty of adventure to be made!

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Darker Side of the City
January 112018

We had about fourteen hours left in Los Angeles and we were ready to make the most of it. We left the Airbnb early and with our backpacks strapped on, we embarked on our touristy finale. First stop: the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Where with Alicia

Where with Alicia

where·with·al: resources, skills to get stuff done; means of purpose

All My Blogs

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