Category Archives: Photography

The South – Birthdays – Breakdowns – Beauty – Food and a Broken Arm

Greetings! And welcome to my little corner of the world. As always, I thank you for stopping by and sharing some time with me, it is truly appreciated. 

The South. I have never but driven through and it is one area of the US I would love to fully explore. My sister did her “Time Share Magic” as we have been trying to spend our birthday week together every year. Life gets hectic and we have purposed to spend this week together no matter what. I told her I didn’t care where we ended up, I can literally go anywhere for the first time and make it an adventure. She found an availability at Hilton Head, South Carolina and we decided to go to check out the Island, Charleston and Savannah Georgia. Mum *the little British gnome* was invited as well, so there you go. Girls trip!

Hilton Head

Our place was lovely, nice and big and water right outside the window. The island was easy to get around, very pretty and lo and behold, a couple we met last year on our Budapest trip lived there! So our stay included a quilting bizarre and a home cooked shrimp boil….southern style. We went to the water (pretty nippy that day but lovely!

We were there for a week, and I am not kidding when I say we had seafood literally every single day, combined with jambalaya. (Did I spell that right?) The food there was to die for and we could not get enough of it. Tried it all, then tried some more.

Exploring the Cities

I found the cities, especially the architecture to be fascinating. There was old mixed with new. The preservation was really exceptional. We took a trolley tour through Charleston and loved every minute of it.

Walking Through History – and a Major American Scar

This next part was very difficult for me. I am an empath, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with that, I will be posting about that soon along with the many challenges that come with. I tend to be drawn to historical sites, and walking in the footsteps of those who walked before me sometimes can be very emotional. Sometimes disturbing. Sometimes both. This one was both.

We visited a plantation. Now the antebellum south is extraordinary. It is truly “the south”. It is beautiful with trees that are etched with time and memory. The history of this place was in the breeze that would catch me off guard and stop me dead in my tracks. I broke out in silent tears, many times, not understanding why. I can only imagine that I stood in the same place as a child back in the day, or the same area that something inexcusable took place. I was surrounded by breathtaking beauty. It was everywhere. But my heart felt like a piece of lead in my chest. And I had a huge lump in my throat. I spent a good deal of time shaking. I got nauseated. Very. It was something out of my control. I stood in a few places where the feeling was so overwhelming, that I couldn’t move. I was thankful that I was separated from mum and sis. I’m not sure they would understand. This happens to me a lot.

The beauty in the place was obvious. You could smell the “old money” in this place. The mansion, was exactly that; a mansion. The entry road getting to the mansion was very long, and tall trees stood proudly, or perhaps sadly, I’m not sure which. I am sure those trees have stories to tell. They lined both sides of this road. I can only imagine the thousands of feet that walked on this road. The horses, the armies, the fancy carriages. The stuff you see in those movies. But this wasn’t a film set. This was real. Real shit happened here. A lot of it.

img_1148And the mansion stood proudly, perhaps arrogantly,  at the end of this long and very dramatic entry road. The photos don’t do it justice. It was large, ornate, preserved well, but definitely smelled of old southern money.

The grounds were gorgeous. The miles of green. The interesting footprints of history sprinkled throughout the endless walkways and stops along this wonderful property.

But with every positive, there is an equalizing negative. There is a forward and a backward. There is a winter to every summer. A north for every south. An ounce of love for every ounce of hate. And what I experienced next, truly shook me to the core. I get emotional again, trying to create this post and trying to do the next piece of this story justice. I fear that no matter how pure my intentions are, no matter what words I choose, it just won’t be enough.

It is one thing to read about slavery. We read books. We read blogs. We see marches. We see injustices. We listen and we learn, I hope anyway, that we learn. I have read many novels about that time. About this place. Being a white woman, it is impossible for me to understand. Impossible. I remember standing in the crowd eager to walk through this mansion. The original furnishings were inside. It defied reality. And reason. And I remember feeling physically ill over it, knowing what was outside just a few hundred yards away. It was hot and I felt ill. It felt smothering. Beautiful, yes. But I felt like I was being suffocated. Get me some air!!! I lasted one room, didn’t even get upstairs and had to get out. I just couldn’t breathe. My mind was filled with visions of fancy balls, and gorgeous dresses with hoops and food and drink for days. But my mind kept being pulled to the area a few hundred yards away.

I knew I had to go. I knew I had to see. I knew I had to walk through those doorways and FEEL the anguish and fear. The confusion and pain. But also the incredible sense of unity, of family, and of faith. All in the slave quarters.

The Slave Quarters

There is no way with my mere and lame verbiage, that I can do this experience the justice it deserves. I can only describe what I saw. What I felt. And how it affected me. That is all I can do.

The slave quarters were heart wrenching. Simple. Preserved. Disturbing. But real. I took my time. I walked up makeshift steps and crooked wooden doorways. I stood in the middle of one roomed “homes”. My eyes traveled slowly across the floors. Over the walls. I sat in the chairs. I looked at every little detail. Every one. And I walked through every single one. My fingers ran across the bricks. I felt the ghosts. They lingered in the air. Hung there like the heavy feeling you have in your head after a good cry.

I spent a lot of time here. Alone. I was separated from mum and sister. I cannot fully describe the cold and almost painful chill that repeatedly crawled up my spine. Simple is an understatement. It was bare minimal survival. I sat on one of the beds for what seemed like forever. I pictured too many people in this small cramped space. I imagined being thankful for something hot to eat, made in a big iron pot on an open fireplace. I imagined too many bodies cuddled on this rock hard bed I sat on covered by a blanket of some kind. I thought of winters where the bitter cold must have traveled through the ill-fitting wooden door. I thought of how safe this oddly comforting room probably felt to those that lived here. Perhaps died here. Bore babies here. Raised children here. It was safe in here. But not outside that door.

And a few hundred yards away. The endless food, and drink, and fancy ballroom dresses with hoops.

Warm tears, and lots of them, rolled down these cheeks of mine. I am not sure why I felt pangs of guilt. I have never been one to see color. I have always looked at heart. And character. So, this whole experience clashed with that. Just clashed. Like a ten car  pile up on the freeway.

I will not ever forget that day. Ever.

The Random South

Plenty of “random” in the south……with accents……..

Honesty and a Total Breakdown

I am not one to hide behind a curtain, and not every trip is rainbows and unicorns. It was my birthday and I just simply broke. Broke. Into a million pieces. I believe it was because of a few major life events over the past year and I just broke. Spent two days in bed. Felt hopeless. Cried two oceans worth. Didn’t eat. I worried my sister and mum so very much and for that I am very sorry. I got through it. Worked hard when I got home, and am happy to say I’m good. I did salvage the rest of the week. I guess life happens. Life happened.

And a Broken Arm.

I wish I had a great story for you. But I didn’t jump in front of the car to save the child. I didn’t save a kitten from a tree. And I didn’t slip on some amazing hike.

img_1229-1I tripped on a carpet. Yeah……that happened.

All in all, it was a great trip. Loved it for the most part. Learned a lot. Brought a few memories I will tuck away in my back pocket and keep forever. Our girls trip. We learned a lot about each other, some good, some bad, but all real. The bottom line here is family. You either are born with a good one, or you create your own, but it’s family.

FAMILY

And after just one week. The food, the quilting bizarre (me? at a quilting bizarre? Who would have thought that?) the coast, trolleys, a broken arm and a major emotional collapse, feeling ill at being white in a southern mansion, and spending quality time with the ghosts of my brothers and sisters of the past, we came home to this.

img_1242-1Daughter, dad, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, family friend, from 3 different cities, and we landed after 9pm, with signs and flowers and hugs all around.

Now THAT is what I call blessed!

Hope you enjoyed my post on the South. I didn’t expect it to be more than a week without work in a nice place, but came away a better person. And for that? I am truly thankful.

Until next time……..be kind………always,

Polley93

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Feeling a Change in the Wind

Greetings! And welcome to my little corner of the world.

Blog direction. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I have seriously struggled with this. I started this blog back in 2014. It was truly hit and miss. I knew I loved photography, travel, impromptu road trips and writing. So that is where I started. It was mainly for my family and friends, had a few that read it, and I wasn’t consistent at all.

Fast forward a couple years.

I started my first book, again a little hit and miss. Much going on with my family and career and the blog wasn’t a priority. I did become more active on Twitter and found many Indie authors and I kind of “went to school” as I had no earthly clue what I was doing writing a book! I just knew I loved writing.

Fast forward again.

Now I am active on Twitter daily and committed to that end. I have also committed to my blog, as I love writing more than just about anything. I have re-energiazed my book and am focused on that again. I feel I have “grown up” so to speak and am ready to commit and see it to its completion. I’m thinking first draft should be sometime early next year, It really has become a labor of love, and somewhat of another child of mine.

As for my blog, I’ve heard about choosing a niche. Making it an income. I just know I love to write. I have thought long and hard about a niche. And up to this point, I cannot do that. I love writing, I am writing a book, I am passionate about Mental Health both for professional and personal reasons, I will always love travel, road trips, and my amateur photography, I am a busy healthcare provider with many opinions, and have an opinion, thought, or experience on just about everything.

So I suppose?

My “niche” is just doing me.

So my blog won’t be focused in one area. I had considered making a certain day a certain topic, but trashed that idea as I felt pressure and restraint. I have committed to blogging three times per week (if it doesn’t kill me) and the subjects will be what they are. I am also very passionate about supporting and promoting my fellow bloggers in this wonderful blogging world.

I have always believed that we all must be true to ourselves. And so I have decided my blog will be exactly that.

Until next time……..be kind………always,

Polley93

Why I Love Arizona

Greetings! And welcome to my little corner of the world. I have been asked over the years (by people of course who have never been here) why on EARTH would you love Arizona? Its “just” a desert. I was born and raised in England, I  have lived in New Mexico, Texas, California, North Dakota, Connecticut and have visited and experienced every state in this Union except for a dozen. So? Here are the top reasons why I absolutely love this beautiful state of Arizona and keep finding myself coming back here.

The World’s Greatest Wonder

I have heard some call this “just a big gaping hole in the ground. Well, if you consider a color filled, mile deep, 277 miles long, carved over millions of years by a single stream of River “just a hole”…..

Then you obviously haven’t been here. It takes your breath away.

The Majestic Desert

The desert is a unique environment. It appears rugged at times, but at the same time, very welcoming and beautiful. I think the one main vibe I get from Arizona is the feeling of strength. Of survival. It amazes me how gorgeous the views are and how much can grow here considering…….well…….it is a desert.

Sedona, Arizona – A Living Postcard

This place is…in a word….magical. Everything about it. To the quirky coffee shops to the endless hikes to the jeep excursions to the postcard views. This place really should be on your bucket list. (photo cred to bottom right picture to my son Joe)

The Saguaro Cactus

Arizona is the only place in the WORLD that these proud creatures stand, keeping watch over the land. They can grow to over 40 feet tall and live to over 150 years. It takes at least 75 years to grow one arm. It is illegal to harm these in any way, and they are home to several desert dwellers.

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You Just Can’t Beat Arizona Skies

I think this may be my second most favorite thing about Arizona – the sky. Talk about blue! With sunny days over 325 days out of the year, you can just look up and “Ahhhh”. The Monsoon season (rainy season, in the summer) turns the skies all kinds of purple and the lightening storms are something to behold.

It’s Got A Quirky Side

From Native American historical dwellings, to haunted hospitals, to old western preserved towns, to towns each with its own unique style, personality and flavor. There is something for everyone in this state. It is not only desert……you have forests, mountains and even snow in the north. This is the only state in the union that has every type of land and landscape short of a coastline,

Endless Adventures

If you love weekend road trips, or a grab your sandwich, your keys and go kind of personality (like me) then this is your place. There are so many things to explore. Slot Canyons, the Petrified Forest (yes a forest made of stone), three separate and definitely distinct main cities, professional or college sports of any kind, rivers to tube down, lakes to boat in, mountains to scale, A Grand Canyon to stop and take in, and many places to “find”. Arizona is………endless.

The Best Part of Arizona? FAMILY

The #1 best thing about this state is my family. My brother and parents are here in Tucson, my sister is in the Phoenix area as is my daughter, and the rest of us keep being pulled back here for one reason or another. No matter where I go, or where I end up working for a few months, one thing is for certain…..

I will always end up back here in Arizona!

Thank you so much for visiting today. My blog site will be changing in the next week or so. And here are the. changes:

Sundays will be like this, random trips, adventures and stories. Wednesdays will be lifestyle topics. and I will be starting coverage of Mental Health Issues on Fridays including a 12 week expose with guest bloggers and guests sharing their stories, experiences, and insight. I am hoping to do my part to end some of this stigma and open dialogue. If you are interested in taking part, please feel free to email me at any of the folowing:

Lifeinsuitcase2014@gmail.com or Twitter: @Polley93

Until next time…….be kind…….always,

Polley93

Prague – I Could Live Here!

Greetings! And as always, thank you for spending some of your moments with me. Moments are important, as once they are spent, they are gone. So I genuinely appreciate the moments you have chosen to spend here with me.

This is basically a part two of my “have to go somewhere” time where the first part was in Budapest (post on that earlier if you would care to check it out) I went with my sister, and from Budapest we ventured to Prague. Wow! I wasn’t expecting what we found!

The city is in a word WONDERFUL. Everything. Public transit, the food, the people, the architecture, the cobblestone side streets and the surrounding areas. The more Sis and I explored, the more we knew we just HAD to come back for a longer amount of time. I truly believe I could live here. I loved everything about it.

Every view was magnificent.

The St. Charles Bridge was like walking through history.

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We made a point of getting to the main town square to see the infamous Astronomical Clock. Amazing.

Clay colored rooftops everywhere.

We took a side trip and I wasn’t quite ready for what we were about to experience. Picturesque church looking building with adorned grave sites in the garden. Walked down a wooden staircase to this:

Yes, everything made with human bones. The church was to be built on a graveyard and instead of building over it, the graves were gently dug up and the remains adorn the inside of this building? Seriously? I found out that this is world famous and after I got home I actually saw a piece on this very thing on National Geographic. Honestly? My visit was brief……….

The colors were fantastic. Everywhere.

I felt like I was in the middle of a painting. The skies were perfect, the wind was crisp, the views were never ending. It literally took my breath away.

Quaint cobblestone streets were hidden but easily discovered and it was the perfect afternoon just meandering down them. Quaint shops, fantastic doorways, friendly people.

“The City of a Thousand Steeples” is a perfect name for this fabulous city.

I found not one thing I did not literally love about Prague. It is an expensive city to explore. A nice hub for traveling to other major cities by train if you so desire. An adventure awaiting literally around every corner. Pilsner beer galore. I could go on for days.

Prague. If you haven’t been there, put it on your list. You will definitely not be disappointed. Next time I go, I definitely want to go for more than a few days. t feels like a perfect city to write in, so spending a month there and finishing my book is something I want to seriously consider.

Even though I simply could not do this fantastic city justice with. simple blog post, I hope you enjoyed my snapshot of Prague, Czech Republic.

Until next time……….be kind……….always,

Polley93

Beauty in the Ordinary

Nothing new that I’m known to get into my vehicle with a debit card, journal and camera, without a plan and go. I find the simplest and yet, at times the most extraordinary places and things. The following is just a collection without rhyme nor reason. Some were taken in Europe. Some have meaning, some don’t. But all have their own little spark of beauty. There is no special reason for this blog post. Just a random post. Random, like me.

All photos are original and taken by me. Some with an iphone, some with an older camera and some with my Canon. They are unedited and raw for the most part as I’m a work in progress. But then again, aren’t we all?

Doors. I’ve always been a little obsessed with doors.

Doors are openings, they are closings. They can welcome you, they can shut you out. They can can be a beacon of light, a place of safety, comfort and warmth, or they can be cold and foreboding with an invisible “Keep Out” sign. Every door has a story. Oh gosh, another idea for a collection of short stories……. The list is long and I would have to live two lifetimes, without a “real” job to get them all written.

Seems like everywhere I go, I am drawn toward doors. Each with its own personality and story. Some ornate and pristine, some are worn by time…..and years……and experience.

Inanimate but interesting objects are another obsession. Every since I started learning photography, things take on a new perspective. I don’t see things the same way anymore. I notice lighting, and where things are placed, shapes I never took notice of before. Every walk I take, every drive I take, I see things differently. Things have become much more interesting. And much more beautiful. Things I  never would have even stopped to look at before, take on a personality of their own these days.

Sometimes I wish these things could speak. I’m sure they would all have a story to tell. Sometimes I think if you are still enough…..quiet enough……you can feel the stories hidden within the simple things that are in front of you.

Nature has a beauty of it’s own. Mother Nature is truly remarkable. She’s beautiful. She’s powerful. But she is an amazing artist who paints amazing views with a stroke of who she is.

So I guess this blog wasn’t about anything huge to learn, no big opinions or fancy artistic prose. Just a collection of random thoughts coupled with random photos. Call it a ‘brain vacay’. We all need one once in awhile. And next time you venture out? Find the beauty in everything……and everyone you see.

Because it’s there.

Until next time……. be kind…….always.

Polley93

Solvang, California

Greetings and welcome to my Wednesday morning share session. Noteworthy is that I will start posting on Sundays so yes, there will be a double this week! I welcome your input and ideas for subjects to include as I will be adding lifestyle topics to my collection of randomness.

As I pondered what to write about this week, I ran across a photo and the memories came flooding back. This side trip was 100% spontaneous as I traveled north to a work assignment on the 101 in California. I was in Santa Barbara and I caught a conversation about some town called “Solvang” and all I needed to hear was “Gosh it was just like being in Europe”. I googled. I went. Simple.

“Solvang” translates into  “Sunny Field” and taking the beautiful drive there it was quite clear that the town was named appropriately. It is about 35 miles through hills and fields from Santa Barbara on the CA 154 highway. This picturesque town was basically founded  and created in 1911 by a group of Danes that headed west to get away from the harsh midwestern winters. It is small, about 2.5 square miles and about 5000 or so people reside there. And the group that started this whole thing did it with the intention of keeping it 100% Danish and Dutch, or as close as possible.  A taste of home I suppose. I must say after experiencing this place, they were successful at doing just that.

The first thing that truly catches your eye, is of course. The working Windmill. It is huge and greets you as you approach this amazing place.

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You immediately have that European feel, as the streets are lined with merchants, restaurants, bakeries, sweet shoppes and small businesses just like you will find in any European city. You won’t find a Walmart, a Target, a grocery chain or anything commercial here. Just privately owned businesses owned by friendly people eager to share with you stories of their town.

This town is quite small. I parked my car and truly took my time. I walked the entire main road and back again. Talked to people, ate some lunch, meandered in the local bookstores (Hans Christian Andersen is Dutch and very visible in the bookstores), and was back to my car in four hours.

Bet you can’t guess what I chose to eat for lunch here at this adorable pub. Put your guesses in the comments……

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This is truly a hidden gem. It feels very popular when you arrive, cars lining every road and the sidewalks sprinkled with people, but it didn’t have that “crowded” feel and the pace was slow. If you happen to be in mid Cali, on the coast, it certainly is worth the 35 miles out of the way to experience a little taste of Europe right here in the USA! It is truly authentic, spotless, well manicured, quaint, and was worth every minute.

A true taste of Europe on a side highway in mid California! Who knew?

Short and sweet this time as I share with you one of the surprises I have found on my many impromptu adventures. I have always maintained that you don’t have to have a bottomless bank account and huge time away from work to have an adventure. We are all capable of creating our own adventures, and getting out there and finding our pretty. I have made this a lifestyle, as adventure can be as close as your back garden. Just get out and GO!

As always, I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your moments with me here today. Please leave a “like” if you liked what you read, and if you would be so kind to leave a comment so I can know you visited my little corner and to leave a suggestion on future content.

As I mentioned before, I will be including lifestyle topics that are near and dear to my heart. By all means feel free to add to my ever growing list. I will go ahead and thank you in advance for doing just that.

See you Sunday!

As always……….be kind.

Polley93

Budapest, Hungary

Greetings! And welcome back to my little nook of randomness. I apologize for last week, I somehow got logged out of my blog, and it is basically a nightmare! All is well now and here we go. So grab a cup of coffee and read on….

I am constantly researching, collecting notes from my travel groups, reading, etc about trips to faraway places, so that when I DO get to hop on a plane, I’m already somewhat familiar with the place I’m venturing to. I love to go to places for the first time, and for this trip? It was Budapest and Prague.

Why those two places you ask? No truly romantic or poetic response to that question. I just wanted to go somewhere. (Besides, a bucket list thing that I just HAD to see………. The Shoes…..) Didn’t have a boatload of money, and it was cheap! I had this planned for a few months and planned to go by myself, but sister had great interest so she came along with. I had zero idea what to expect. We went in late October so it was the very tail end of fall, so the weather would be chilly but not cold. In a word? Perfect. For this week, I will be sharing with you the wonderfully unique city of Budapest, Hungary.

After an uneventful, but very pleasant long Haul flight straight through from Phoenix Arizona to Budapest, Hungary with a short stop in Zurich, Switzerland, we landed safely. We had a spare seat in the middle of us so it was very comfy. Sister caught up on every movie imaginable and I read and wrote. No complaints. I personally love long haul flights. There is just something magical to me about getting on a plane, and getting off in a faraway land.

The first things that were truly different was every sign you came across, very unique and impossible to pronounce. Every word looked like it had too many consonants in it! The second was the money. We got both Hungarian Forint and Czech Crowns since we would be making our way to Prague as well on the trip.

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We settled into our hotel. Small and simple but very comfortable with twin beds and everything you need. It felt like a little girl sleepover! The first day after an amazing European breakfast, we went right outside of our hotel and started walking. Little did we know we were right around the corner from Heroes Square.  The architecture of just a normal city road was something to behold. Ornate at times, rigid at others, but all fascinating. As always, with anything  Europe, you can literally smell the history. Here are a few from our walk there and the square with all of the beautiful statues etc.

During the few days we were fortunate enough to stay and explore this beautiful city I was amazed at the years and the history. It was truly different. The city was clean and somewhat organized. Actually it is two cities separated by the river and bridges. One side is Buda, the other side is Pest. Hence; Budapest.

We didn’t speak the language but had very few problems finding anything or getting around. Although we didn’t understand many things on any given menu…..there was endless supply of the countries mainstay dish. Goulash! And yes I ate it every chance I could get. Each time it was a little different, but every time it was absolutely delicious!

IMG_0444We managed to get to an elevation to truly see the city. It was a little overcast, and sprinkled rain, but the view literally took your breath away. The colors looked like it was straight out of a painting. You had the subtle blues and grays of the sky framed with the brilliant oranges of fall. The air was crisp. I think we stood there for a long time just taking it all in.

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One thing about Budapest, is that there seemed to be a surprise around every corner.  You just never knew what you were going to see.

Churches were ornate and bathed in years. The architecture was extreme, the details were endless, the following photos certainly do not do these places justice. There seemed to be a combination of buildings cloaked in deep history, coupled with a newer modern age as well. The ghosts of Communism always lingered.

I was mesmerized by things as simple as a “normal” window or a doorway.

Somehow and some way along our travels we managed to cross a border into Slovakia! Another country crossed off the list! Hungary and Slovakia are separated by a river, and this is how we magically got to get a small taste of another country. No passport stamp though! Boo!

Sometimes, the most profound moments are experienced in a simple surrounding. Perhaps something or somewhere, that few would notice more than a photo op or a “what is this all about”. But I remember reading about this very simple memorial in Budapest, Hungary some years ago and put it on my lengthy list of “have to see’s”.

I have always been borderline obsessed with WWII and the Holocaust. I’ve read many books, seen films, etc. I’m not sure why. It is always an emotional journey  for me, not understanding the whole concept of attempting to literally eradicate an entire population of people. I still struggle with it. I have been told I’m a “severe empath” and I seem to be drawn to those moments in history. And those places. And I was certainly drawn here.

The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in Budapest that was conceived by film director Can Today. He created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honor the people who were killed by Militiamen during WWII. The men, women, and children were lined up on the side of the river bank, ordered to take off their shoes and face the river, shot in the back so they would fall into the water.

The memorial isn’t big. Isn’t flashy. And honestly? Not easy to find. It is a quiet small place on the river edge, and easily missed. It was a dichotomy of sadness and beauty. Of silence and of screaming. I found my shoes. This one thing, made this entire trip worth taking to me.


I will never forget the shoes…….

Budapest and surrounding areas are truly fascinating. The colors. The choices in architecture, the random things and wares for sale. I could have walked those streets endlessly!

What will I take away from my few days in this foreign city? There are a few things that will stay with me. First, of course, is the shoes! Loved the goulash. The money was confusing at first but once you grabbed ahold of the exchange rate ($10 US = 2800 Forint) we could figure it out. At first glance the numbers were overwhelming. In Budapest there didn’t seem to be much respect for personal space, that was very clear! I got used to being very close to people I didn’t know. The prices (after figuring out above) were very inexpensive. Weather was mild even in late October. There was reasonable  English and people were friendly once spoken to. Paprika is the countries pride and major export, so you can find it everywhere. Didn’t realized there were so many variations of Paprika! Always something beautiful to look at! City transport was decent and wonderful city to walk in. And spending an adventure like this with my sister was something I will tuck away in my heart forever. Too many laughs to count!

IMG_9691 (1)Would I go back?

In a heartbeat!

I hope you enjoyed my story from Budapest. Please leave a comment or a “like” so I can know you stopped by. And any comments on the photography is very welcomed as I am always trying to improve. And any subjects you are particularly interested in let me know and I will create a blog post about it!

I truly thank you for spending your moments with me!

Until next time………as always……..be kind.

Polley93

Five Years of Travel

Greetings! And welcome to my newly revamped little corner of the world. This is a place I share my adventures, my stories, my photography, my books in progress, (I really am writing books…..) and whatever else crosses my path on this wonderful journey we call life. I admit, I haven’t been the most reliable blogger, but it took me a few months to settle some of my life down before I could get on with this new phase. I have spent several weeks organizing my Lightroom library, trying my best to forge a friendship with my MacBook, trying to figure out where the heck I’ve been, and relocating yet again (am in Northern Arizona until end of November right before I leave for Italy but thats a whole other blog post…..)  For those of you who are new, welcome! And for you faithful who have patiently waited for me to rev it up again….welcome back.

I plan on posting a new blog every Wednesday morning, about 9am MST. I have a lengthy list of subjects as I have learned (and continue to learn and save those little pearls!) about how to travel far and cheap, (did you know you can fly from Denver to Paris one way for less than $200?) minimalist packing and how it works well, many many destinations, my year journey to plan and prepare to go abroad for three months next year (yes, on my own. Yes, backpack only….. yes I’m planning on writing a book while I’m gone as well so stay tuned) So? Please add your name to my email list for reminders on new posts, leave a comment with suggestions or your thoughts on any given subject, I’m sure this will be entertaining, and hopefully educational on some level.

I absolutely love to travel, anywhere and at anytime. It is my true passion. There is nothing I love more than going someplace new. I keep it simple, pack light, and bring a journal and a camera. I have many adventures to share and even more in the planning phase. Alas, that gainful employment is necessary, but it also affords me to take off (after much  sacrificing, saving, cutting back, and throwing odd dollars and change in a jar). I started basically traveling for a living with my profession, that being a Family Nurse Practitioner. I work in Family Practice which is very demanding, and I prefer to go to places where I can treat the poor and homeless. It has sent me to some very interesting places. About five years ago I started working this way, and about four years ago I started truly downsizing. At this point, my belongings are in a storage unit, I gave up my rented home, and gave away my car. I basically live out of a little more than a suitcase, hence; my blog name.

I love planes, trains, long car trips being the driver, walking,  buses, trams and trolleys. I have had major trips abroad, I have taken day trips in my car, and everything  in between. I was reminded recently, (when I was whining about wanting to get up and go again) that I am a very well traveled person. Am I really? I started a list, started gathering photos off of Lightroom (thousands and thousands) and realized that during the past five years of traveling with my vocation, mini side trips, well planned tours, sporadic long weekends, and not needing much of an excuse to take off and go……the list of places is long. Surprisingly long. So as I sit here writing about it today and having a VERY difficult time picking out photos, I feel completely thankful. I also feel extremely excited, as the feet are getting restless again……

So this is what this week’s blog is about. Five years of travel. There are individual blogs planned for the major destinations (San Francisco, U.S. East Coast, Budapest, Prague, London, the South, and a blog post dedicated to the different doors of the world that I seem to be obsessed with plus more I’m sure) Keep in mind, I work full time, sometimes VERY full time, but I have truly mastered the art of capitalizing on cheap flights, holiday days off of work, creative planning, minimal packing, and just not making excuses and just GOING. So get a tasty cold beverage, find a comfy place to sit, and get a taste of the past five years. It has been quite the journey! (and if I can do it, being a single mom, working very full time, living on a very tight budget……then I truly believe that anyone can…..you just have to WANT to!)

So strap yourselves in, and here’s a thumbnail of some of the adventures I’ve had over the past five years. Some planned. Some not. Had to save for some, and others just filled up the car, made a sandwich, grabbed my camera and went.

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, CALIFORNIA

I have gotten to drive the Pacific Coast Highway three times…..This is definitely a “have to” for anyone and everyone. It’s endless, gorgeously breathtaking, and a peaceful way to spend a few days. There is no wrong place to stop. It’s all fascinating.

SCOTLAND

I experienced Scotland with my mum, including pubs, kilts, William Wallace, Celebration of the Haggis (delish!) and spending the afternoon at a Scottish Sheep Farm.

WINE COUNTRY, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Wine Country in Northern Cali….what can you say? It’s everything that you’ve heard. Miles of winding roads and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

WALES

Experienced a taste of Wales, and this is one quirky place! The language, the street signs are an adventure in itself. This is one country I would love to thoroughly explore. Put it on the list!

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA

I had a four day weekend and a total of $500 to spend. Total. (Airfare, Accomodation, food and extras) and went to Victoria, British Columbia. Rode in a little puddle jumper airplane, walked for miles, ate great food, and took too many photos to count. Fascinating place. Highly recommend. Thanks to a $188 flight, AirBnB, and Groupon, the total weekend cost me $496 total. Gotta love minimalist traveling!

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NAT’L PARKS

Had the opportunity to visit Sequoia National Park twice. The giant Sequoia trees are literally majestic, extreme, and fascinating. I got to go there once with my son which made it really awesome. I drove straight through the park and experienced life above the clouds at Kings Canyon National Park.

MULTNOMAH FALLS, OREGON

I got to drive up to Portland and see Multnomah Falls. This place is pure magic and you feel the strength and incredible beauty of Mother Nature as you stand in front of this magnificent sight.

NORTHERN CALI

I spent the longest time I’ve ever spent at one assignment in Ukiah, California, a total of 16 months which translates into 500 consecutive nights in a hotel room. It was worth it as I experienced coastal sights that took your breath away, lighthouses, and towns that I fell in love with including Ft Bragg and Glass Beach and Mendocino.

SAN FRANCISCO 

I was an hour and a half from San Francisco so I got to go there a couple of times. Fresh sourdough bread, the Golden Gate Bridge and trolley cars.

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UNITED KINGDOM

London with my mum along with Chester, York, Stratford Upon Avon, Windsor (where both Her Majesty the Queen and the leader of Ireland were at the time, so there were flags everywhere) and Bath. And I got to see my beloved Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park.

IPSWICH, SUFFOLK, ENGLAND

Mum and I got to go back to our hometown of Ipswich, England.

MENDOCINO, CALI

Mendocino deserves another mention. Northern Cali.

CAPITOLA AND THE DEPOT INN

My favorite Bed and Breakfast: Depot Hill and Capitola

RANDOM FINDS

Random drives to find some “pretty”.

YELLOWSTONE NAT’L PARK

Drove through Yellowstone National Park on the way to work assignment in NewTown, North Dakota.

EAST COAST

Experienced the East Coast when I was on assignment in Middletown, CT.

ZION UTAH

Zion in Utah

MONTERREY CALIFORNIA 

Monterrey California was very cool. Eating seafood out of paper as you walked. Everything was pretty. And when I saw the interesting mileage sign? This is the day I decided I should experience Dubrovnik, Croatia. Which I added to my three month Euro trip next year.

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

I needed to go someplace and I needed someplace that 1) required a passport and 2) was as cheap as possible. So I headed off to Hungary! My sister decided to come with which was an extra and unexpected blessing! Will have its very own blog post as just far too much happened!!

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC 

2nd leg of that impromptu sister trip was Prague, Czech Republic. We both decided we could live here. Again, a specific blog about this fascinating place! Can’t wait to go back!

CHARLESTON AND SAVANNAH 

The South, Charleston, Hilton Head and Savannah and yes, I broke my arm…..

There were definitely more side trips, but I’m sure you get the picture. I have traveled far and wide with what I had at the time and the list turned out to be surprisingly long. Very humbling.

This was kind of like a list. There will be more specific posts coming I promise, at least 12 are in the works as I type this.
I have pretty extreme plans coming up for the next 12 months. I plan on working hard, saving all I can and making all of this happen. So please stay tuned. I will be posting one time per month about my year plan to travel Europe next year for three months with a backpack. A lot goes into doing something like this at my age, so I am starting now. I also have a trip planned in December and another in April. I realized I can’t wait anymore. Time isn’t waiting for me.

So my time is now.

Thank you so much for spending your moments with me! Please leave a comment so I can know you stopped by.

Until next week……..as always…….be kind.

Cheers,

Polley93

Touring UK with the Gnome – Pt 2

Greetings! And welcome to my little nook…..this is well overdue. I posted about my trip to the UK with my mum (affectionately known to me as “my little British gnome”) a few months ago, and promised a “part two”. Life happened, along with many distractions, and probably a move knowing my crazy life. The first post is back a few months so look it up if you want to see the first part of our UK tour, which covers Great Britain.

This one covers the areas of Wales and Scotland. It was well beyond description, and mum often refers to it as “A trip of a lifetime”. I am hoping the photos tell the story of how a daughter planned a trip for her mum, and how they ventured three countries together, laughed more than humanly possible, tried many things for the very first time, walked more miles than either of them thought was possible, and created too many memories to count. I hope you enjoy sharing our adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed going back over these many photos as I edited and chose, made me smile, laugh out loud, and certainly remember.

WALES

Leaving the UK we entered into Wales. Neither of us had ever ventured outside of the borders of England so everything was new. The countryside over in the UK as a whole is literally breathtaking. The greens are simply intoxicating, and Wales was no exception. The combination of mysterious history, coupled with the innocence of a simple view of sheep grazing in front of architecture thousands of years old, is quite a sight.

The towns we visited (can’t pronounce but just knew we were in Wales) all were full of character. Small shoppes lined the streets, selling their wares or foods. You could smell years in the air, the breezes were cold, but there was always a warm scent of something baking near by.

And more…….

And…..well……there were no shortages of bakeries……

And no shortage of flowers…….

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EDINBURGH SCOTLAND

I never realized that so many shades of gray could actually be beautiful, but it most certainly is. There is just something magical about being surrounded by so much history and walk along streets that have been there for longer than your homeland has even been in existence. It felt comparable to be walking in some kind of a story. With each corner sharing with you it’s secrets.

The accents were extreme. Yes, the language was most certainly English, and you could recognize the English words, but you still felt as if you were listening to a foreign language. The Royal Mile was probably my favorite, with each building taking on a personality of its own. Each shoppe with a personality just aching to be known, and color sprinkled about.

Personality for days….. The people were friendly and welcoming. Pubs were more present than any other establishment, times about a hundred.

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And…..of course…….The infamous William Wallace was everywhere! Couldn’t help but feel like yelling out…..”They may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM!!”

THE SCOTTISH COUNTRYSIDE AND HIGHLANDS

Amazing as you traveled north just how different the landscape became. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I didn’t expect it to be so rugged and so desolate. Once in a while you would find a small spattering of homes, but for the most part, the land was untouched. Raw. Clean. And went on for as far as your eye could see. (And snow. Wasn’t expecting snow!)

EXPERIENCING A WORKING SHEEP FARM IN SCOTLAND

We could have never anticipated being able to experience such a thing. Away from technology and the business of clicking and scrolling and driving and clocking in and out. We met a man who had spent his life working this farm, harvesting wool for various suppliers. This farm and lifestyle had been in his family for generations. He knew nothing else. And it was something I will not soon forget.

It was cold and windy. We sat on a wooden bench and watched these trained sheep dogs herd these sheep. It was simply amazing! He used sounds that no one else would pay any mind to and these dogs just took off in all directions, usually as one group in unison. Herding this huge group of sheep. It really was a sight to behold. What was even more mind-boggling, is when the “show was over” he shared with us that three of his dogs were 100% blind! What????

ST. ANDREWS ….. GOLF ANYONE?

Architecture for days……

SCOTLAND…….AND TRYING HAGGIS FOR THE FIRST TIME

Haggis is very strange. Made out of all kinds of things that I would never normally eat. Wrapped up and cooked in an animal stomach lining???? Seriously? But? Hell, we were there and couldn’t actually not TRY it, right?

What I wasn’t expecting is the “Celebration of the Haggis” routine before hand. There were young girls dancing in traditional costumes, bagpipes, and the pub owner literally dancing some kind of a jig with the Haggis proudly displayed on a plate as he sang loudly and danced and paraded the plate in front of all of us present. It was crazy enough that we just joined in! I’m still not sure I understood what we experienced, but it was certainly one for the books!

And guess what? The Haggis? It was simply delicious. And we all had a complimentary shot of traditional Scottish Whisky too.

The experience as a whole was definitely one of those “bucket list” things. For any of you second guessing whether or not to go on a trip with your parent? I highly recommend the experience! It will be one to be remembered and supply you with laughs and memories for the rest of your life.

I sure hope you enjoyed our adventure. I know we sure did!

Until next time…….be kind……always.

Polley93

aka Tink

Victoria, BC, Canada

Greetings! And welcome back to my weekly rambling blog. If your eyes are reading these words, then I truly thank you for spending some moments with me here today. If you like what you read or experience here, please give my blog a “like” or spend a few moments and post a comment so I know you were here and I thank you in advance for that.

This “nook” of mine covers three main topics: Travel and my random adventures, Life in general (experiences, travel, my stories of sorts, life hacks, photography etc), and Minimalism. For today, it is back to my favorite thing; Travel and photographing new places. If it were up to me I would continually travel to anyplace, anytime and for any reason. But gainful employment kind of puts a damper on that, so I am learning ways to work around that ole time clock, make the plan, buy the ticket, and figure out details later. This is exactly what happened with this trip. And I will forewarn you, there will be a load of photos……

Restless Feet…..

Those of you who know me know that I have a serious case of restless feet and am always looking for the next adventure. At this particular time, I was seriously struggling with work, life, just everything in general. My answer is and always will be going someplace new with a camera. I had limited funds, about $500 that I could spend without guilt. I’m in Northern California at the present time, and started thinking about where I could go. I first looked at the calendar, there was some random Friday off for an Indian celebration day and asked my boss for that previous Thursday off as well, she agreed. So wha la! I had four days, and $500 to create some kind of an adventure. Where oh where to go. I was thinking with limited funds I was looking at driving somewhere, but as I hunted about online, the bill started adding up. So, I figured check the airlines, maybe somewhere has a deal. And if there’s a deal? I’m just the girl to find it. Several sites have sites designed for free spirits such as myself as you can look for flights on price alone. And what do you know…….. found a round trip flight from San Francisco airport to Vancouver Canada, fitting my dates, leaving early, I have a passport, and without thinking too much, five minutes and $180 later, I had a booked seat.

$320 Left……With a List of Things to Pay For……

The priciest piece of any travel is accommodation. I have definitely learned alternative staying spaces beyond the proverbial hotel. So many other options for sure. Since I am a solo traveler for the most part, my typical routine is to get up way early and come back to the place I’m staying post dinner in time for a bath, some review of all the photos I took for the day, and a journal entry before bed. So I looked for AirB&B’s and found two that would work for me. One night in Vancouver and two in Victoria. Total of $120, leaving me about $200 for four days.

I find when I travel cheap, I don’t need to eat a lot. Some energy bars, a refillable bottle of water, a few pieces of fruit and coffee in the morning do me just fine. I’m good with one solid meal and just healthy snacks for the duration. Saves money that way, and for this trip? I had to pinch my pennies. I did pack some healthy protein bars, and a box of crackers in my backpack. Did I mention that I went backpack only? I have an “Osprey” 40L  backpack, and that was the only thing I packed and took for the four days I was gone.

Groupon is my friend and I searched the site for inexpensive things to do in both Vancouver and Victoria, I got an all day hop on, hop off bus, a fish and chip lunch at Fisherman’s Warf, another fish dinner, and a lunch in Vancouver. Total? $70 leaving me $130 of my original $500 budget.

The kicker here is that you have to somehow get to Victoria from Vancouver over the water. Yes, there are ferries, but the more I read, it is time-consuming and pretty confusing. Lo and behold, I found (what I thought) was a cheap transport from Vancouver International Airport to Victoria via Helicopter. (yes, another groupon!) Have never flew on a helicopter  before and the price was right for $100 round trip, so I figured why not? Ohhhhhh brother was I in for a surprise! In fact, the whole weekend was one whole surprise.

So? I had a whopping $30 to spend. Read on……and travel with me……..

That is NOT a Helicopter!!

Made it to Vancouver. Found the shuttle and went to Harbor Air (or something like that) and went to register for my first Helicopter ride. I was just a tad bit nervous to be honest. And that went to MACH TEN when the very kind lady stated “Oh no dear, these aren’t helicopters, You’ll be flying in the last aircraft parked on the dock” as she pointed…..that way. I finished check in and went outside to see what the heck she was talking about. She was talking about THIS…..

Uhhhhh…..ok. I didn’t have much time to think about it. I took off in 15 minutes. I grabbed a free cup of coffee. Took a short walk outside to collect myself. And headed down the “gangplank”. A total of four seats and a pilot. The “safety” instructions were presented on an iPad that looked like the original version ever created. No one else seemed to be bothered, all three other passengers. So I belted myself in, took a breath, as the engines revved themselves up.

I was very surprised. It was smoother than a normal plane. The views were INCREDIBLE as you don’t fly very high and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Still yet another thing scratched off the ole bucket list.

IMG_0186Land we did, smooth as satin, and I was in Victoria! It was cool fresh air, crystal blue skies and an entire day to just walk around and explore. I knew this day was going to be kind of slow since I would be with a backpack all day, but it was just fine. I was in no hurry at all. Here are some things I found on my first day.

I found my AirB&B, in a beautiful neighborhood that was a joy to walk through with friendly people, picturesque streets and only about a 15 minute walk to downtown. The AirB&B I stayed at was run by a lovely young couple who were so accommodating I felt very spoiled. I knew it was meant to be when the main theme for their home was Star Wars! The room was comfy and cozy which was awesome. And close to a corner market where I went and bought some cheese, a roll, a banana and an orange for the next day, (so far keeping with my budget just fine)

Day #2 was the biggie in Victoria. I did not carry a backpack, just an over the shoulder carry all for my cameras, snacks etc. I took off really early in the morning, and walked downtown. My hop on hop off bus and fish and chip lunch were on the agenda today. All prepaid thanks to my BFF Groupon.

ChinaTown

This is the 2nd largest ChinaTown location in North America, only behind San Francisco. I found it absolutely fascinating, friendly, simple and real.

And there was an abundant supply of freshness; everywhere.

Feeling Like You Are In a Postcard

So many beautiful sites. From architecture and history, to neighborhoods with all of their own personality and charm, to the endless water that is different depending on where you go. I rode the hop on hop off bus three consecutive times as I simply could not get enough.

Finding the Unique and Quirky Side

Fish and Chips on the Warf

Fisherman’s Warf was a wonderful place just to walk around and definitely have some fish and chips while sitting outside watching the boats and the water. Live music on the corner and lined with houseboats with vibrant colors.

Random

Just some shots of things I found either quirky, beautiful, unique.

Some more…..

Some more……

I saw a castle……

I got a great deal on an official afternoon English Tea. Apparently there is a lot of competition for the buses etc and so I got a $35 English tea for $7.50, and it was one of the highlights of the entire day!

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My two very packed full of activities was over. I slept well, got up super early for my “flight” back to Vancouver. One side note…….there was a delay due to “whales on the runway”……and no, I’m not kidding!

I had a very short stint in Vancouver, and to be honest, didn’t experience much of the city. I took a wrong turn on my walking after riding the subway to what I ‘thought’ was the correct stop. Instead of exploring, I got tired and sat under a tree with two homeless gentlemen and talked for over two hours. They ended up wanting to “treat me to lunch” at the Salvation Army. So I went. And ended up being “Macaroni and Cheese Girl” for the afternoon serving up the homeless in Vancouver……

But that’s a story for another time. Here are the two photos I took there……

The top one is my AirB&B, I stayed on the top floor of an Antique Shoppe, and the bottom is the infamous Steam Clock.

All in all it was a beautiful weekend, a beautiful place, and I only went over my budget by $22 for a cab ride back to the airport. I would highly suggest Victoria. It was very British.

Final Thought

IMG_0226Life truly is a beautiful place if you choose to find the beautiful in every day things. No, I don’t get to take off on planes all the time, but when I can, I do. In the meantime, I encourage you to notice the sunshine, appreciate the raindrops, respect the trees, and don’t pick the flowers….just love them where they are planted.

Let me say, that I appreciate your time. It is the one thing we can never get back so when its spent, it is simply gone. So thank you for spending some of your moments here with me.

Until next time……be kind…….always,

Polley93

aka Tink