Category Archives: Wanderlust

Top 12 Solo Travel Tips

Greetings and welcome to my little nook of random. For those of you returning, welcome back! And for those of you visiting for the first time, welcome! Make sure you subscribe so you can follow along on this journey! All photographs on my blog have been taken by me in various places.

My blog usually consists of Travel, Photography, Minimalism, and the occasional post about writing a book. For today, I am going to spend some time answering the number one question I get faced with: “How can you travel so much solo?”

The short answer is, if I didn’t travel solo, I probably wouldn’t travel at all. With my crazy nomadic work life, and my desire to go to places I’ve never been, it suits me fine just to get up and go and go by myself. I have learned much along the way, and far too much to completely share it all in one simple blog post, so I will make a dent in it and cover the top 12 tips for solo travel.

A sidenote. This post will be specifically about long haul flights to destinations far that you probably need a passport for. It is a myth that you have to be loaded to go on trips to faraway lands. My recent Budapest/Prague trip was a total of $1450 (airfare, accommodation, daily breakfast, and four side trips or excursions). My entire month excursion to Thailand next May is under $1800 and that includes a week add-on down south on the islands. You can get a one way flight from San Francisco or Denver to Paris, France of $259…..and no, that is not a typo. You don’t have to be rich. You have to be driven, creative and patient. I can dedicate an entire post or two on travel hacks and cheap travel sometime later if the interest is there. Let me know.

Here we go……..

1. RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO

Get yourself a travel book. There are plenty out there that are good and cover just about everything you need. Moon. Lonely Planet. Fodor’s. If you are on Facebook there are travel groups that have been amazing! Have learned a ton about travel this way! Groups such as Solo Women Travelers. Solo Travel Society. Nomad Women 40’s and up. Solo Female Traveler Network. To name a few. For me? The best teacher is someone who has already done what I would like to do. So that’s YouTube. Every place, food, experience, is all on YouTube someplace.

2. PREPARE FOR LONG HAUL FLIGHT

The flights are no joke and preparation makes it much easier. (again, this deserves a post of its own but for today, will hit the highlights) One must have a neck pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs. A killer playlist and ear buds. Something to read. A one liter water bottle. Mints, toothbrush, Melatonin, and Advil. You get where I’m going. A flight 8 hours or longer is considered long haul and you are literally going to be sitting in a small seat. My flying time to Europe this past Oct was a little over 13 hours. The trip to Thailand is over 20. So comfort is key. Prepare!!!

3. TRAVEL LIGHT

Less is more when traveling and honestly? You don’t need as much as you think. Downsize everything you can. I went to Vancouver/Victoria BC and went with a backpack only (Osprey 40L). It worked just fine. Carry on only is a recommendation. Makes your trip simpler and you spend so much less time on unnecessary tasks and more for the reason you went to begin with. Take necessities only. Trust me on this one.

4. BE FAMILIAR WITH CURRENCY

Get familiar with exchange rates. The currency. How much each bill translates into your currency. Avoid scammers (YouTube again is a great place to learn about this), using a card is safe as you don’t need to carry around a lot of cash, but cash is necessary so learn how much it translates into.

5. ARRIVE EARLY

If at all possible, arrange a flight or flights that arrive during the morning or afternoon. This is such a nice way to start your adventure. There isn’t a sense of urgency. You have the time to take your time. You will be tired and a little off-balance after long flights and time changes, besides, being a traveler at an airport is pretty obvious so daylight hours helps with safety issues.

6. PHOTOGRAPHS AND JOURNAL

Always carry a little notebook around with you. It’s amazing what you can pick up, what you want to jot down so you can remember. Food suggestions, shoppes you’d like to return to, people you meet, things you see. True, we have smart phones now, but I prefer good ole paper and pen.

7. GET FAMILIAR WITH THE CITY

Get a map, or download google maps before you go to your phone so you can use offline, Get the layout of the city. Find a free walking tour (these are in every major city in Europe, usually free and tip only fees, very helpful and awesome to get to know the city by. local!) Find a hop on hop off bus and ride it for a couple of circuits. Saves you time in the long run and you can find things you want to return to.

8. USE CITY TRANSIT

City buses. Trains. Trams. Trolleys. Subways. Try them all. City transport is usually organized and cheap! Avoid taxi’s. Just avoid them.

 

9. FIND A BENCH AND PEOPLE WATCH

10. TALK TO THE LOCALS

11. TRY NEW THINGS

New Foods!

Try something for the first time!

Spending a day on a working sheep farm in Scotland. (no sheep was harmed, even though that is a humongous knife)

Eating fresh produce as you walk down the street in Chinatown.

Ride on a water plane……..

Walk amongst the giants and drive through clouds!

12. LEAVE THE FEAR AND HESITATION AT HOME

Get out there and find your adventure! For all of these of mine, I look back and wonder how. The list is long. London and all throughout England. Scotland. Wales. Victoria. Across the US a half a dozen times. Budapest. Prague. I guess I just did it. Figured it out. And went alone. The solace of being with your own self is very mysterious. You find things you never thought you’d find, meet people you never thought you’d meet, see things you never thought you ‘d see, and yet you have. You gain a new confidence within yourself and an amazing sense of accomplishment when you come home. You find and meet people who remain in touch and your friends. And your world view grows and grows. And why? Well……easy. You just decide.

So decide. And go. And if you are one of those like me, who have, then please either share your blog site, or your experiences with me! I thank you in advance.

Lots more to come in the coming weeks and months. Travel hacks and budget travel. My journey towards Minimalism. Blog on Budapest and another on Prague. There are destinations in the US I have never posted about. The list is endless.

For now? I thank you for the moments you spent here with me. You are very appreciated. Please leave a comment, suggestion, experience, share with me your favorite trip or destination, or perhaps a destination you would love to go to someday. My bucket list is very long, and in 2018 I plan to make it shorter.

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

12 Months of Adventure

Greetings! And welcome to my blog of randomness. I have been working hard on this “nook” of mine, to give it a bit of a facelift, and to create a format with weekly postings (finally!) It is long overdue, and no more start and stops, do-overs, and mini blog comas. My life has been full these past few months, and as many of us do, I had this on the list for the infamous “new year”. But honestly? That is just a glorified and fancy way to label “procrastination” so I decided to start now. So, as always, I appreciate you stopping by. Grab a beverage of your choice, sit in a comfy chair, and read on……..

There has been much going on and much to share. I have a very lengthy list of subjects, Minimalism, Solo travel, Travel hacks and ways to go to amazing places very cost effectively, how to pack small, light, even carry on only, how to find air deals,  and many trips etc to cover, so let’s just call this the start of something good, or at least better than it has been in the past.

After I “reasonably” learned how to get around this new MacBook (on my “want” list for years have had it now for months but only now got the courage to dive in……oh brother!) and got Lightroom “reasonably” functioning, I sat down and started making a list of blog subjects. The first one, (and I literally stopped at that) was the places I have gone over the past 12 months or so. I didn’t realize how many places I have been until I started scrolling through photos and making a list that ended up to be very lengthy. I work full-time, as a Family Nurse Practitioner working at a rural clinic up here in Northern California for the time being, so it’s not like I have a ton of time, but I have become a master at “squeezing” an additional day or two off hooked to a holiday weekend, living extremely frugal, saving as much as possible so that I can get on a plane or getting in a car just as much as I possibly can. Those that know me know that I am no stranger to getting in a car to travel umpteen hours just to be in a forest, sit along a coastline, take a few photos, and drive umpteen hours back……..I have been known to sleep in my car!

So this first blog post (first of many I might add) is just a smorgasbord of my very amateur photography in places I have been fortunate enough to experience over the past 12 calendar months. Its been random, and most of it very unplanned. My Adventures range from packing a sandwich and a full tank of gas to anywhere, to a trip to get a passport stamp with the location in Canada being simply due to the cheapest air ticket I could find, to adding a couple of days in San Francisco to a Medical conference just because, to a well thought out and planned excursion to Europe to two cities I have never been to. Each of these will have a blog post just for that one place or experience, but this is just a broad overview of it all.

The above makes it sound like I am rolling in money and let me assure you that I am most definitely not. I have lived my life as a single mother with many challenges that all have been overcome. I struggle just like we all do. I gave up my rented house in Tucson, Arizona, gave my car to my son, stored what I own, and took a job where I travel to remote locations to serve the poorer rural areas. I live in hotel rooms, and very simply.  live on a 100% cash basis. No credit whatsoever. So even though you are about to go on a “cliff notes” of sorts of my adventures, please keep in mind that it took me sacrifice, and planning to make any of this happen. In short, I haven’t made a bunch of excuses, I just found a way. I have restless feet, a serious and incurable case of wanderlust, and travel and finding new experiences and adventure is definitely my passion.

So, let’s begin……..

Started off in the beautiful southern Arizona desert……You either love it, or you hate it, but to me? There is nothing quite like it. I find it peaceful, beautiful, and raw.

I try to go to Sedona and Flagstaff Az as much as possible…… Sedona is like stepping into a postcard, and Flagstaff is like stepping back into a simpler time. I love them both.

I pit stop in San Diego California as much as possible…..simply love that town! The beaches, the food, the USS Navy presence, and the bazillion memories I have made there.

Conference in San Francisco that I added a couple of days to…..brought my daughter along and my brother was working out there which made it all the more fun. SF is simply awesome for a short visit, lots to do, eclectic architecture, and clam chowder to die for.

Ventured up the entire California Coastline…… The Pacific Coast Highway has got to ve one of the most majestic drives in this whole country. It’s simply breathtaking. This is but a small taste as I could go on and on and on about the six days I took to drive up that entire coast. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to do it twice now. And I would most certainly do it again.

Started living amongst the California Vineyards……who knew? Incredibly fortunate to be able to live in an area that I would never in a million years be able to afford to do it on my own. It is majestic, peaceful, wineries everywhere, skies that are endless, surrounded by forests and a coastline just an hour away. Truly magical here.

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Experienced a little European Dutch right in the heart of California….one of the coolest little secrets I found. Sovang, California. Just a few pages out of a Dutch history book. With architecture, food, wine, and traditions.

Found Lighthouses……my favorite.

Went to Victoria, British Columbia on a whim due to a $180 round trip airfare. I figured the rest out as I went. Stayed in an airBnB, flew in a puddle jumper airplane, went with a backpack only, walked everywhere. It was quite the adventure.

Denver…..beautiful city with beautiful seasons…….and family!

Portland…. or the outskirts of Portland I should say. When the rain takes a just a little break it really is a gorgeous place.

Sequoia National Park……times two….This was one of my all time favorite places. To stand amidst the giant trees is something you just have to experience. No picture or story can do it justice. It’s like taking a step back in time. It is very silent, and spiritual. I was blessed to be able to meet my son there and its a weekend I will not soon forget.

Kings Canyon National Park…….driving above the clouds…..literally.

Mendocino, California, This is a storybook kind of place. The coastline is breathtaking, there is a water cave to find, if you are there at the right time you can see miles and miles of Lillies. It’s small, but worth a visit for sure.

Northern Calif Coastline, Glass Beach…..This area was a landfill about a century ago. I guess Mother Nature didn’t appreciate the garbage being placed in her ocean, so she took the glass…..smoothed it out, and gently placed it back on the beach. This small beach is literally covered in small smooth colored shards of smooth glass. I found it amazing.

Budapest, Hungary, Wow! Who knew? I found literally a flash sale with a traveling company at the beginning of the year. RT airfare via Swiss Air from SF through Zürich, Switzerland to Budapest, then a bus to Prague. All accommodations. Daily breakfast. Four extra excursions (city tours, outlying villages, and another country, Slovakia!! For a total of…….wait for it…….$1450. I kid you not. This beautiful city and total experience  needs a post of its own. And once I can figure out how to get all the photos from my Canon camera to this Mac…..I will do just that. Until then, these are iPhone photos, which aren’t half bad.

Prague, Czech Republic. Stage II of my random Europe excursion. I felt like I was in a story book. The architecture alone literally took your breath away. I found it friendly and a true adventure! As above, trying to figure out the photo thing and this will be an upcoming stand alone blog post……it certainly deserves it.

Wow……just wow. As I sit here I am truly humbled. I find it amazing that any of this was even possible and when I look back at it all, I realize why it was all possible. Because I quit making excuses.

I quit saying I don’t have the time.

I quit saying I don’t have the money.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I quit being picky about where to go and I just went. Sometimes it was $5, an afternoon, and a box of crackers keeping me company on the passenger seat. Sometimes it was scrimping and saving every week to make a bigger excursion possible. But whatever I was capable of doing, wherever I was capable of going, I just went. To anywhere. I encourage any of you reading this to do the same if you want to experience whatever, wherever for whatever reason you choose. You just have to do it.

Next year is a year in the making. Up to this point, I have plans to go to Savanna, Charleston and Hilton Head in March with sister for birthday week. We have committed to going somewhere for a week every year together. Time is fleeing and no more waiting. It is pretty amazing that we met a wonderful couple in Prague that lives in Hilton Head and we have plans for some beers and a Catch up as they went on to Poland. Love how paths cross and new friends are found no matter where you go.

Well! Success! Blog has been rebooted! I so appreciate you if you eyes have reached this far. If you have liked what you have read/seen, please leave a comment or some kind of sign that you were here, I already appreciate you so much!

I will be posting new blog entries every Sunday. No particular order. If there is a place, an excursion that has been mentioned, or a subject you are particularly fond of or curious about, please let me know and I can put it at the top of the ever-growing list.

Until next week, stay curious, and be kind…….always,

Polley93

aka Tink

Lighthouses, The Human Need for Hope and John Mayer

Greetings! And, as always, thank you for spending some of your moments here with me as my brain goes rambling down the road to unknown destinations. I sit here in the hotel room I have lived in since New Year’s and John Mayer is on shuffle. It brought me back to still yet another “must get out of room” moment, and I took off in the car for the coast with my friend John playing in the car. He is truly one of the best artists to have blaring loudly in the car as you drive to absolutely nowhere. So I thought I would share that day with those of you who chose to stop by for a visit.

Grabbed my camera, made a sandwich, packed some grapes and stopped for a coffee and started driving west. The coastline is only about 50 miles or less from me but the road to get there is…….interesting. Pretty? Yes, but interesting

Drove down the PCH toward Mendocino and took a random right turn. Lo and behold there was a sign….

LIGHTHOUSE ———— THIS WAY —————->>>>>>>>>>

The day was INCREDIBLY windy and got worse when I got out of the car. But pulled my hoodie over my head and started walking. And walking. And walking some more.

Now, I’m not  a small person I’m 5’10” and I had some difficulty standing upright. The wind was brutal, strong To take photos I had to literally back up against something to be able to be somewhat still. The wind was cold, and cut through my Shawshank Redemption sweatshirt that I purposely leave in the trunk of the car for things and times like these. I questioned the logic of this, and should I actually do this on some windy narrow dirt path that I wasn’t even sure would lead to anything? But?

LIGHTHOUSE —————– THIS WAY ——————>>>>>>>>>> so onward I went.

Amazing the simple things that can be so beautiful if you just slow down Take that breath And notice. The fast paced and technology overload is lying to us that life is all scheduled, hectic, stressful and cluttered. The gale forced winds that were cutting through my clothes reminded me exactly of this. A sense of urgency.

Not so. Stop. Slow down. Tuck your phone in a drawer. Notice.

I kept braving the elements, head down and focusing on each step and then I looked up and saw her. My lighthouse.

I think many of us love lighthouses. They are mysterious, majestic, different, and all offer the same human element that we all crave.

Hope.

A beacon in the night. A light in the dark. A warm place to rest your soul. A strong stance, weathering the test of time, of storm, of weather, of tide. It symbolizes the endurance of the human spirit. To stand strong. To face the challenge. To realize the sun will peek her head through those storm clouds. That this storm won’t last forever, but you can do it. Yes you can You can weather the storm. We all can.

Yes lighthouses They say all those things to me. I suppose that’s why I continually find them. And continually seek them out no matter what coastline I happen to be on.

Yes, the storms come. And? They will keep coming. The waters will get choppy. The winds will try to knock you down. You will get tired. You will question whether you can get through or not. You will look around and see nothing but crashing waves.

But hold on. Baby step your way through. Borrow my life mantra of “just keep doing the next right thing”, and the waves will lessen. The storm will calm. The clouds will part.

And you will find your lighthouse.

IMG_8827As always, I truly thank you for stopping here at my rambling thoughts and random photography hideaway. The moments you spend here are appreciated, as they can never be replaced. Thank you for spending them here with me.

Until next time………Be kind………..Always.

Polley93

Traveling Solo, Adventures and The Land of the Giant Trees

Greetings! And, as always, thank you for spending your moments with me.

Adventure. What is it? In my world, it can be anything you want it to be. I love to travel. I also need to work. So my life has become somewhat of a balancing act. Over the past few years I have learned that Adventure can be anywhere, doing anything, meeting anyone, and for me? It has been solo. Nothing I love more than just taking off to some new place with a camera and capturing its flavor, its personality, and its people.

Some people tend to think an adventure is a well thought out, planned, financed trip of some kind. Vacation time, hundreds or thousands of dollars and packing a week ahead. For me? Adventure could mean a five dollar bill and an hour. I have day trips. These are basically getting in the car, taking roads, traveling for four hours, and having GPS guide me home. Half the time I couldn’t even tell you where I’ve been. A weekend trip is 200 miles or less. An overnight someplace. A three-day weekend means I can go as far as 500 miles. Two nights stay. These are solo and I bring my own food.

I have been asked more times than I would care to admit, the same questions. How can you travel alone? Why do you like to do such random things? And, how can you  afford this? Well, I will try to answer those.

How can I travel alone? Well, if I didn’t travel alone for the most part, I wouldn’t travel at all! I have been single for a very long time and have learned that being solo is no excuse for not getting out there and finding what this world has to offer. I look at it as a benefit. No compromising on the where to go, what to do, and cost. If the trip is successful or a dismal failure, it is all up to me. I keep safety factors in mind, and thus far, I have done well.

Why do I like to do such random things? Oh heavens!! Two words for you….WHY NOT? Life has no road map, and therefore, I tend to not have one either on my travels. I have met the most fascinating people, have seen the most amazing things, and have learned life lessons not from a book. I highly suggest (if you have any) getting over your fears, inhibitions, and just GO. You will be so glad you did. Get out of the proverbial box!!

How can I afford to do this? How can I afford NOT to do this? Most of my trips are extremely cheap. It’s a tank of gas, sandwiches and food I bring, and my cameras. If I have to stay overnight for a weekend, I use my infamous hotels.com and find someplace very reasonable. Every tenth night is free. I pay myself a weekly allowance out of the money I work damn hard to make, but I usually don’t spend too much, so when it adds up? I go. My international trips take a little more planning, but I go on those too (next one is October of this year…..passport stamps…..yay!!)

I was fortunate enough to have a three-day weekend, and since I am working in Northern California, I want to experience as much as I can while I’m out here. I decided to go to Sequoia National Park, about 400 miles away. The trip there was very bizarre. Getting through Oakland was no fun. It was flat and nothing forest-like. I was about 100 miles away and was seriously wondering if I was going the right way! How can giant trees be growing around where it was so FLAT?

But? I found Three Rivers, and I was there. I was committed to driving to the park and catching a glimpse of these huge trees before I settled in for the night, so off I went. The park was ten minutes from my motel, and THE TREES were about an hour up the mountain. Oh my…..how glad I was that I went!

Never had I seen things so ginormous. I mean the pictures surely do not do these magnificent statements of nature justice. The forest was silent. Misty. Serene. It was very emotional. All the stress, the traffic, the patients, the drama, the cell phones and computers and demands were? Gone. Just gone. There was this overwhelming nothingness. Just nothing. Just pure air, occasional chirp of a bird. The random quiet “shush” of a breeze, and these towering, magnificent, amazing creatures of nature.

I ventured back to my motel, settled in and slept like a baby. I got up early and had a plan to just be gone. All day. To find what I could find. And to drive to the end of the road. I was amazed at the sprinkle of color I found along the way.

I knew from what I read about these huge trees that the largest tree in the WORLD was right here in this park. It isn’t the tallest, nor is it the widest, but it has the larges MASS of any tree in the world. His name is “General Sherman” and I began my quest to find him. It took quite a hike, and at 7000 feet no less, but I did. He was so big I just stood there for a good long time just staring.

General Sherman is over 2000 years old. TWO THOUSAND YEARS. I wish I could hear his stories…….

After you get through Sequoia, which is a LONG LONG WAY, you enter into another National Park, Kings Canyon. I literally drove through clouds at 5mph, on hairpin turns that were literally 180 degrees, up the mountain range and down the other side. It was literally breathtaking and no way any photo captures its majesty.

The rushing water of King’s River, the huge mountain peaks, the sheer mighty proud stance of the granite and shale mountain sheers. It was just almost too much. I would stop at a turnout to get a photo or get a better view, and if there was anyone there, or someone who would stop, we would all be doing the same thing. Just standing there, looking, still and silent. It was surreal.

I drove to the end of the road. Literally. It was called “end of the road”, I’m kicking myself now for not getting a picture!

I turned back around and just enjoyed the drive. And spent my time going slowly through the land of these beautiful giants.

If you have never been, this is definitely bucket-list worthy. I kid you not. Life changing. Makes you really understand just how small we are. Very, very small. I’m so thankful we had presidents in the past who realized we needed to preserve our wonderful lands and make them National Parks. They are pristine, spotless, peaceful, untouched, raw and real. This is a must see.

As always, I appreciate your time. I may repeat myself but I truly believe that time is our most precious life gift. You can’t replace it, buy more of it, or barter for an extension. Once you spend your moments, they are gone. So spend your moments wisely, and on those who matter. And for now? I thank you for spending your moments with me.

Feel free to leave a question, comment, criticism or like.

Until next time………be kind………always,

Polley93

Wknd in Mendocino

Greetings!

A wonderful thing happened the week of both mine and my sister’s birthdays. She flew out here to Northern Cali from Phoenix for a three day weekend. I decided to take her to the coast, a welcome different view from the desert. After an evening dinner at a nearby restaurant, drinking “grouchy old men” drinks (not kidding and they were awesome), we got some sleep and headed out the next morning. A couple hour drive through the twisty, turny, hairpin turn mountain road……and we reached the big water.

First stop, my beloved Glass Beach. I love this place for a lot of reasons, but mostly for the surf. It curls, its a beautiful color and it is simply pure peace.

We headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway to the quaint little coastal town of Mendocino. It is small and quirky, right on the water with lots to do and awesome streets to venture down. But first? Our hotel.

I found it on my BFF hotels.com and had a credit so I got a night at this place for a song. So thankful it only  cost a total of $22……the gardens were absolutely gorgeous, but the room itself was somewhat of a cross between the Eagles rendition of “Hotel California” and a room straight out of “The Shining”…..I kid you not. It was a one time experience for sure! Creepy. It was supposed to have a dining room, a lounge and bar, and a spa. The only thing we got was a 15% discount coupon for breakfast that was about five miles away. No dining. No bar. No spa. All we could do was laugh. A lot. I kept thinking I was gonna see a set of twins down the long hallway, and yes…..I must admit…..I whispered “all work and no play makes jack a very full boy all work and no play makes jack a very dull boy……..etc” yeah….that happened.

Flowers! Flowers! Everywhere! It was such a great environment for writing. Fresh. Full of color. Everything blooming. Combined with a cool ocean breeze.

The coastline is very difficult to describe, and quite honestly? Pictures simply do not do it justice. The environment, the ocean breeze, the salt in the air, the smell of things blooming, the sound of the surf. It almost puts your whole soul into somewhat of a trance. One must experience this at least once in a lifetime!

We took long strolls down little dirt paths along unfenced cliffs. We found a water cave that was really cool, and very beautiful. I actually caught the water spray and colors coming out with the wave!

We took a different path and found an endless journey of lillies. They were nowhere else, just in this one area, but they went on as far as the eye could see.

The Town of Mendocino is very quaint. The architecture of the buildings was truly unique. Every road lead to another surprise. Markets, restaurants, mom and pop kind of shops, luxury shops, sprinkled with artists and their easels and friendly people literally from all over the world. Lots of accents around.

Another scene, another flower lines alley, another garden, another peek at the coastline, every time a corner was turned.

It was a weekend VERY well spent.

Although the area is beautiful, the food was great, the hikes were therapeutic, and the big water was her usual amazing self, the best part of the weekend was my sister. To reconnect, to share the time, to laugh uncontrollably, to talk and cry, to share and support, and to reconfirm what is truly most important in this life is the memory I will tuck away and keep forever from this weekend. Truly special.

As always, thank you for spending your moments with me here on my simple blog. I am working on a potential plan for an extreme trip in October which I am truly excited about. For now I will keep quiet until things are sealed and cemented.

Until then, I will live in my hotel room, with my few things, and find my adventures in this magical land of northern California for a few more months. I have a list of areas here that I will explore and post about. So stay tuned! Remember, everything can be an adventure if you choose to make it so!

Until next time……be kind……always.

Polley93

Touring UK With the Gnome – Pt 1

Greetings! And welcome to my “life in a suitcase”

I have been having serious internet problems out here in the middle of nowhere, usually I can’t get onto this site due to security issues, so I have just been working on drafts and keep trying. Lo and Behold! Today! On my Birthday! I can get through!

In April 2014, I took my little British Gnome (aka, my mum) to the UK after she had told me “Cathy, for all the times I have been back home, I have never seen my country”. Heartbreaking. I had planned on and had almost paid off my infamous “Walk Across UK” adventure, but I cancelled it and started on another plan. I found a tour, booked it, and the plan was set. I honestly thought I would be on a cranky old bus with cranky old people and would just suck it up and like it for the sake of my mother. But oh my……..how wrong I was!! It truly was a trip of a lifetime. And I have to break this blog into two parts there was so damn much going on!!

First stop was Ipswich, in Suffolk, our home and where I basically grew up. No rhyme or reason to the pics…..just a fun and quirky time of coastlines, trains, castles, ad of course, sailing barges……etc

 

Next stop was London. Where we would find our tour group, see the bus, get ready to take a huge trek through England, Scotland and Wales……London is one of my most favorite places. The history, the architecture, the people……and of course…..castles and King Henry VIII things in general………

Quirky London is my favorite. Locks of Love, Graveyards, tributes to my heroine, Lady Diana……and of course….the PETER PAN STATUE!!!!

Windsor is a beautiful place. The castle is magnificent, the streets are a plesure to walk, the people are friendly. During our visit, the Queen of England was there meeting with the Leader of Ireland, which is the reason for the streets being lined with both of the countries flags…..pretty cool that they were both inside of that very castle we were standing outside of!

Bath, England is extraordinary. Street performers every corner. Churches that were simply amazing to stand in front of their grand structure. Pubs, canals, and boats.

Chester, England turned out to be one of my favorite stops. The buildings and black and white went on for days! The food! The walking and finding all of these quirky and amazing buildings, peoples, street performers, etc. One place I will most definitely revisit.

Stratford Upon Avon, an authors heaven. Beatrix Potter and Shakespeare. Amazing. Simple amazing.  A hot cup of tea and a pastry – frequently if youre the gnome!!

A few more days in London, and are there ever enough! We walked literally for  miles and miles. If you have never been to London, I highly recommend that you make it a point of going. With the exchange rate the lowest it has EVER been, it is a great time to plan your trip there. The history alone is worth the trip across the pond!

Our quirky wonderful time! Just a collage of quirkiness as we continually find one adventure after another!!

Of course, this was just the England part. We did tour both Scotland and Wales as well. And that will be in an upcoming post.

I certainly apologize for the delay, but living in a hotel definitely has its challenges. Be on the lookout for ‘PART TWO”  of this amazing adventure, that I got to take with my mother. I mean……who gets to do that???

Thank you for stopping by and sharing our quirky yet amazing adventure. Please leave a comment to let me know you were here.

And as always………..be kind,

Polley93

Random Sunday Thoughts

Greetings! And, as always, thank you for spending your moments with me. 

I’m sitting here, on a hotel bed, in the quiet, creating my weekly blog post from my phone. Yes, I live in hotels. Has its moments, benefits and drawbacks. One of them being internet hiccups that prevent me from accessing my blog, and computer photos. So? This blog, will be a typical rambling and scattered mess without my usual mass collection of latest photo shots. Hopefully next week will be better. One thing about me, is I always find a way. My path may not be a straight one, but I usually get there. 

I started a list, after going through my uploaded photography to Lightroom. To make a ballpark plan of upcoming blog posts. What subjects? Places? People? Things? After uploading, I caught a glimpse of the number of photos. 10K of them. Yes, that’s correct and no typo. Ten THOUSAND of them. Keep in mind, I delete and toss the ones I don’t like the same day I shoot, so these are all keepers. The places shot, and the things captured are pretty awesome! 

As I’ve mentioned, my long term plan is vague, I just know I have something stirring deep inside to do something different. I do love healthcare. (Healthcare in general. Not Healthcare in the US after the ACA)  I do love taking care of patients. And I do feel very humbled at the fact I have sought out the populations of the poor and homeless to be dedicated to. However, I feel a stirring. 

My passions? Are writing, photography, and travel. So, although not altogether sure, I know I’m headed in a direction to combine all those passions together and create an income through them. Call it a win/win. I’m working toward that end now. But? For now? I travel with my current career choice, a Family Nurse Practitioner, and go to wherever the need is. Live in hotels. Go on random adventures on my own. Hence……Life in a suitcase….. And for now it’s in Northern California. 

We all have dreams. Pictures of ourselves doing what truly makes us happy. My vision? Backpacking across Europe. Collecting passport stamps. Going wherever, whenever and for whatever. Peru. Prague. Africa. Canada. Budapest. India. Nepal. Writing about it. Photographing it. And creating a YouTube channel for single women that desire to do the same thing. Believe it or not, there are many of us. Why not? Do not have a clue how I’m going to pull this off. But? I can tell you something. 

I will. 

So….with that being said, here is a short list of places I’ve been, places I’ve photographed, and experiences I’ve had, that all deserve a blog post. Let me know what piques your interest and I will put it at the top of the list. 

The Beautiful Arizona Desert – Southern Arizona. You either love it, or hate it. I believe it’s beautiful. It’s always reminded me that any circumstance can be survived through. 

Crescent City California – (last town in California before the Oregon state line) Coastlines. Barking seals as my alarm clock. Being told by an Indian Chief to go sit on a rock. Many weekend road trips. 1400 mile commute to get there. 

New Town North Dakota – learned much about the pipeline. Survived -36 degrees. Rugged and beautiful open spaces. Driving home to Az in a blizzard being the only vehicle on the freeway and the highway patrol even refusing a rescue. 

Hartford Connecticut and East Coast – six of the most beautiful months. History. Many weekend trips. Parents visit for a week. Survived the worst winter in Connecticut history. 

London –been many times. Too many details to post here. King Henry VIII. Castles. Pageantry. History. Pubs. Double Decker’s. The Arts. Fish and Chips.  My most favorite city in the world. However, from travelers I have met along my journey, I have been told that after I experience Prague, this may drop to #2 spot? Whaaat? 

Northern Arizona – Sedona. Flagstaff. Grand Canyon. Oh yeah….. and working at a prison and surviving three riots being the only provider there. Yeah, that happened. 

Wales – Amazing. Must go back. 

Scotland – Again. Amazing. Kilts. Shearing sheep. Haggis. Edinburgh. Castles. William Wallace. History for days. 

United Kingdom – This will definitely take more than one post. The entire country. Bath. Chester. Stratford Upon Avon. Football. Culture. History. Architecture. 

Northern California – Where I am now. Wine country. Indian history. Coastline. An area yet to be fully explored. 

9 hr day trip yesterday. Found a lighthouse. The photos are breathtaking! Soon……

And that’s a short list. Drop me a vote on what you’d like first. Also, my random brain is sure to hop off on a few bunny trails. So expect posts on my inanimate object picture taking days (bridges, ocean waves, doors, lock and keys, trees etc)

Subjects? Traveling on a budget. Minimalist packing tips. How to keep your peace during these chaotic times. Don’t ask why, just ask yourself why not. Making a plan and sticking to it. Being true to yourself. Tiny Homes (yes, my future) 

I suppose after all of the above, at the end of the day……it’s this. And this I truly believe:

The only limits we have, are self imposed. 

I so appreciate you getting to this point in my blog! And again, thank you for spending your time with me. Moments are most precious, never to be returned. We all get the same 24 hours. Spend them wisely. 

Make sure to click “like”, leave a comment or suggestion, and leave your vote on the next blog subject!! 

Until next time……be kind…..always. 

Polley93 

A Hidden Gem

Greetings! And as always, thank you for sharing your moments here with me. As you know if you have read any of my posts, I can be a random person, always looking for something to learn, someone to meet, somewhere to go, a new adventure to experience. As I traveled from Tucson Arizona to Ukiah California, I took the Pacific Coast Highway and took five or six days to inch my way up and photograph the journey. (see catherinescottage.net – that was to be my last post on that blog site). When I planned the trip I tried to gauge miles and booked hotels on the way. The last night on that journey, I cashed in my hotels.com free night credit and decided to splurge on a nicer hotel than usual. I had no idea the town it was in, as honestly?  have never heard of it. But wowza! What a find!!

CAPITOLA, CALIFORNIA

Capitola is a dot on the map, right off of the 101 and just south of Santa Rosa. I didn’t choose this due to the location, I found the hotel and it happened to be there. I originally looked for a hotel that was quiet, unique, and pretty. I found a bed and breakfast that looked kind of like a Beauty and the Beast location, all fancy and fairy tale like. And it just happened to be in the quaintest little beach town. The town of “Capitola, California.

The board walks, the quaint little streets, the coastal strolls, the pubs and restaurants. This will definitely be on my places to return to. Lo and behold I found an English pub, ran by a couple of Brits that were almost as crazy as I am! They made me an original Steak and Kidney pie, treated me to a pint and I watched English footie for a couple of hours. Heaven.

And now for the hotel, which was more of a Bed and Breakfast. Twelve rooms total.

THE DEPOT INN

The front door was locked and it was opened by a young woman who was in a typical black and white European style skirt and blouse. She knew already who I was and showed me right in. She took a personal interest in everything I was there for. The entry room and parlor was very European. With special touches every where you looked.

She showed me every nook and cranny of the place, and handed me a big golden key. It really did feel like a fairy tale. My room was at the top of the stairs. “The Stratford upon Avon” suite.

The room was simply amazing. I mean….perfect. Down to the toiletries in the bathroom. A steam shower with rain spout. A fireplace. A window seat. It was just so pretty, made me feel like a princess. I went out to explore the town before the sun went down and to take some pictures, that’s when I found the English pub and hung out for a bit. Returned to the hotel with cordials and port waiting? Seriously? That was a first for me! Also local wines to choose from in fancy crystal wine glasses.

Let me tell you, it was one of the best night’s sleep I have ever had. With cracked windows, sea breezes and a fireplace throughout the night. The bed was one of those that gives you a big hug with covers just heavy enough to wrap you up and hold you comfortably. Didn’t even turn the tv on. It was just too perfect.

I was asked what time I would like breakfast and I said 8am since I needed to hit the road to get to my final destination. When I walked downstairs I was greeted with a hot cup of coffee and a chair pulled out and waiting for me.

The breakfast wasn’t anything I would have ever ordered. Eggs Benedict with hollandaise with avocados and some other stuff….I thought…..O. M. G. Runny eggs? avocados? But I promised myself I would not turn anything down,and this is the year for trying everything before I judge.

So I ate it.

And honestly? It was one of the best meals I have ever had. Lesson Learned.

I’m all about being financially wise and pinching pennies to get the most mileage out of every experience I can. But once in a while it is ok to step outside of reality and be in a scene from Beauty and the Beast…..if just for a night.

Well worth it. Depot Inn, in Capitola California. If you ever get a chance, treat yourself. It was totally worth it!

Sidenote: Each of us has a journey, a path. Most of our stories are not easy. The image we project is usually our best side, our happy place. But there is always some kind of a challenge, struggle, mountain to climb. Each of us is different. With that being said, don’t judge your fellow brother or sister you pass along your journey. You never know what the faces you pass are struggling with. Financial issues, family issues, homelessness, loneliness, mental illness…..whatever. As you know I carry my infamous ziploc baggies full of the hotel toiletries i save, a $5 bill, playing cards, chewing gum, a pair of socks, and whatever else I find, along with a handwritten note with a positive message of “hang in there”. I give them out to anyone I pass along my way holding up one of those infamous cardboard signs. I’m forever writing “love notes” in my random spare time, to anyone, or no one, and leave them everywhere. Airport bathrooms, grocery store shelves, park benches with a “To you. Yes You. If you are reading this, this is for you” on the front of a colorful envelope.

My point is this. I’m nobody special, and I do have my own struggles. But?  It’s what I can do. With what I have. Where I am. Kindness is contagious. Kindness is free. You may not ever know if you have truly made a difference. But I do know, that paths cross for a reason. And this Universe has a magical way of placing us where we are supposed to be and finding what we are supposed to find. A word of encouragement, an act of kindness, goes a long way. I know it does with me. It starts a magical effect and by being kind? It encourages another to be kind. So…..pay for the next person in line if you are able. Carry groceries. Open doors. Give up your seat on the train or subway. SMILE. This world needs more kindness. And that is not dependant upon zip code.

Until next time…..As always…….be kind,

Polley93

Random Exploring

Greetings! And welcome to still yet another one of Tink’s infamous “do-overs”. Being the occasional airhead I can be, I locked myself out of my main blog site, and after several attempts, emails, and a very near complete breakdown, I just threw in the towel. This? Will be my  main blog site from this point forward. It will receive an overhaul eventually. Check out the previous blog (catherinescottage.net) if you haven’t, but from this point on……COME HERE!!

Lifeinasuitcase.net

The past weekend was the first two days of sunshine since I’ve been here in the Ukiah, California area. I packed my cameras, journal, grabbed a scarf and my keys and started driving. I have learned that you don’t need much of a plan to find extraordinary things. I work much better without a map. Just go. GPS will always get me home. I knew the coast was 60 miles away. What I didn’t know……was it took two and a half hours to get there!

Drove through hairpin Forest roads, looked out over some of the most beautiful and rugged scenery. Not too sure where the ocean was….but surely I was headed in the right direction?

The Forest abruptly ended and all of a sudden I saw a “Welcome to Fort Bragg” sign. What a quaint and pretty town! Saw the “big water” and that’s how I spent the rest of my day. Found the infamous “Glass Beach” and spent hours just walking, climbing, and being in awe of what Mother Nature is capable of. This is a place that was used as a landfill…..literally a garbage dump some hundred years ago. Well…..Mother Nature said no way…..took all that garage…..took the glass….spent some time softening, smoothing out, and shining up the glass shards….and then gently laid them back upon her beach. Simply amazing.

Walked along a very long coastal walk, not sure how far I went, I just know that my legs were killing me!! Absolutely breathtaking views.

Made my way back to my infamous hotel room, that I will call home for the next six months. Got up the next morning, and decided I wanted to see some Redwoods. The main super huge Redwoods is about a four hour drive from here, and considering it took me almost three to drive 60 miles (no straight roads from here I’m afraid) I found something a little closer. Not the super huge Redwoods, but an amazing hike nonetheless.

There is so much beauty around us, no matter our zip code. I have had comments such as “oh how I wish I could do what you do”. Well? You can. All this cost me was time, and a tank of gas. I brought my own sandwich. Creating your own adventures is just that. Creating your own adventures. There is an adventure in absolutely anything, anywhere and any time if you choose to look at it that way. No sense in sitting around for a weekend if there is something to discover right down the very road from where you are. We only go around once…..make it count.

As always, thank you for spending your time here with me. Time is valuable, as once it is spent, it is gone. So, thank you for investing a few moments of your day with me.

If you liked what you read, or looked at, (all photos are mine, unedited and raw) please leave a comment, or a like, or follow this blog via email. I have a super long list of places I will explore, some need a passport stamp, some just need a sandwich and a tank of gas. As in my world? It’s ALL an adventure.

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

Polley93