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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

 

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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

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

A Full Tank and 12 Hours Later

Greetings! Welcome to a new week and  a new blog post. Last week I asked for suggestions as I have a lengthy list of prospective subjects, places, etc that I plan to post about, and from the responses I received, the winning subject was to write about the place where I currently am. So? Here goes.

As you probably know, and if you do not, I am a Family Nurse Practitioner, and I travel with a company who finds me locations to work. These are usually outpatient clinics, and usually in random areas, some of them way in the middle of nowhere some are in the city. This one that I currently am, is a little bit of both. The town is called Ukiah, it is in northern California, 100 miles north of San Francisco on highway 101. I was hired to work in a clinic serving nine Indian Tribes. The clinic itself is, in a word, awesome. The people I work with are positive and fun, welcoming, skilled, and make a work day fly by. The care given here is complete and thorough. Yes, I am very thankful. I will be here for six months, at least until late June. Afterward is yet to be determined, and that is just how I like it. It forces me to be in the mindset of “this is temporary, so make every day count.”

This area surely gets its fair share of rain in the winter season, and after two weeks of non-stop, Saturday came, and oh my GOODNESS….there was the sun. I packed my camera and lenses, a blanket, a sweatshirt, a lunch, and got in the car. I sat in the drivers seat, cued up one of my infamous “Road Trip Playlists”, as usual, no map and no compass. I went north the last time I had a free weekend day, and so this time? I headed south on the 101.

I passed through some small towns, the one that i recall was called “Hopland”, I am sorry now I didn’t stop as it looked very quaint with old buildings, and quite small and full of personality. I am told that it is a concentrated area of wine vineyards there, which definitely makes it on a “must return” list. I passed through Santa Rosa and headed right……yeah you got it……toward the big water.

Yes, I sat on the picnic table pictured above, with some food I brought with me and a cup of coffee I found at a roadside coffee hut on the way right north of a place called Bodega Bay. It was very cool, not cold, breezy and a sweatshirt was plenty. I did bring my journal, and spent at least an hour there in the quiet, writing. What I wouldn’t give to just be able to write! Ahhhh but oh that gainful employment thing!!

I had all day, so I was in no hurry. I had never driven this road before, every turn was new, every curve revealed a new scene.

I spent an hour watching a huge river empty out into the ocean. It was such a clash of nature. I looked left and saw hills, trees, and  river full of fish, with boats and fisherman collecting the catch of the day. I looked right and saw the endless Pacific Ocean. And you could actually see a line drawn clearly in the water. River on the left, Ocean on the right. It was something that made me just watch from my parked car on the side of the winding road when I pulled over to the side.

It really is amazing how fantastic some normal things can be, if you just take the time, pull over to the side of the road, breathe deep that fresh air you are surrounded by, and notice. Just notice. Life is such a hectic journey at times. Always a list of “to do’s”, always a response of “I’ve just been so busy’s”. But what I have learned, is that we all have the same 24 hours and everything is a choice. If you don’t stop and notice? Then you have simply chosen not to. I had a list as long as my arm to get completed that Saturday. And yet what did I do? Did my life fall apart? Did my I go into overdraft fees? Did I lose out on sleep or not get the laundry done or get fired or end world peace? Or…….did I just act on a spontaneous moment and have at least a dozen beautiful pictures in my mind forever, meet a few strangers that made me smile, got to decompress, let all the tightness and stress of the week go. Yes……choose “B”….

And then let’s talk about that coast line. Of course……I had to find a lighthouse.

There’s just something very cool about lighthouses. They are a beacon of hope in the night…..and have always spoken to me in a very strange way. Perhaps it was my years growing up on sailing barges with my Grandad in England……I have seen lighthouses all over the place, both coastlines and in Europe. And they always make me stop. Wonder, Imagine. I simply love them.

The Ocean will always be a miracle. There is just something almost magical about the ocean. The sound of the waves crashing upon the shore, and the smaller shoosh of the waves slipping back away to return to the big water. If you aren’t captivated by the shoreline and the ocean, no matter where in the world you may live, I would seriously wonder…..I think I could sit on a shoreline for hours and hours. And not do a thing. The sheer power of the water is enough to make me realize just how very small we are. It is when I am standing on a shoreline that all the “bigness” of all the BS going on in the world today, simply melts away into the big pile of nothing that it is. We are small. The Universe is big. Everything’s going to be ok. Truly.

And a few more……..

And a few more…….

So that was my Saturday. Started in Ukiah, drove south through Santa Rosa, over to Bodega Bay, and headed north clear up to Fort Bragg.  The first day of sunshine in two weeks. A huge catch up day planned with the infamous a million things to do and a list that would give anyone a migraine.  but instead? Took advantage of the sunshine. Spent 12 hours driving up roads I’ve never driven on. I spent a total of $12. Took 115 pictures, and kept 67 of them. The list all got done, the earth still rotated, the world still continued on. I’m a speck of sand on a huge ocean beach. Taking a day completely off, for no reason, with no plan, just didn’t change too much!

Except for me. My peace of mind. My energy level. My outlook. It was worth it.

Moments. We all have the same amount. Life will come and grab your moments. Steal them away in the night. Work will demand of you. Responsibilities will always be lurking. Debts will remain. Needs will always present. But by stopping. Noticing. Collecting moments for your self and tucking them away, although won’t make that work, those responsibilities, those debts disappear. No…..they will be waiting.

But? They really CAN wait

Thank you, as always, for spending some of your moments with me. We may not stand on the same piece of carpet, but nonetheless, I do appreciate your time. Feel free to share my blog, press “like” or leave a comment. Would love to hear from you.

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.