posted by on Travel Updates

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I don’t know about the rest of you but this summer has completely gotten away from me. I had big plans, not only for my travels and adventures, but for this blog and for Ashalah. I seem to have done quite a bit of adventuring but the actual blogging part has fallen to the wayside.

It’s the middle of September and if my travel plans had stayed the same, I would have been leaving in 3 short weeks for China. I’m a little sad that I am not able to go but I have many more exciting things happening that it’s not too hard of a loss. I will make it there eventually.

So what is new on the adventure front?

This weekend is Breckinridge’s Oktoberfest. I found out kind of last minute, like I usually do, so I’ve been trying to scrounge up a few friends for a beautiful mountain drive, a hike to see the changing colors and good beer and brats, of course. Fall if my favorite season and while New England really can’t be beat, Colorado puts on a pretty stellar show.

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In a little over a week I head to Los Angeles with Brand About Town and #NintendoEnthused for two days of WiiU fun. So far my itinerary only has an afternoon and evening of plans and I have a day and a half to play around LA! I’ve never been before and while it’s not a city I would choose for a vacation, I’m so thankful I get to check it out, even if just briefly. Plus, I’ll get to see an old college girlfriend who is about to get married and meet a few bloggers I’ve only known online for the past five years!

Early October is pretty empty as of right now but on October 20th I’m flying to San Francisco for my best friend’s wedding. I still have a ton of planning left to do but I know I will be taking the coastal starlight Amtrak train up the coast, eventually landing in Seattle where I fly back to Denver on the 28th. So from between October 22nd and 28th, my schedule is a wide open book and I’m looking forward to mapping it out. It will be the first time I’ve traveled solo since Europe three years ago and traveling alone in the US is somehow feeling much different than traveling alone in Europe. I do know that I’ll get to meet some pretty fabulous bloggers along my route and I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone! If you have traveled through the Pacific Northwest, I’d love some recommendations!

Aside from a trip home to Michigan for Christmas and hopefully being able to squeeze a trip to NYC somewhere amongst all this, I have no other big adventure plans. Going to try to keep it local to Colorado for smaller weekend trips. Oh, and win the lottery. I haven’t been back to NYC in a year now and it makes me sad to think I might not be able to make it back this year.

What’s on your travel reel this fall? 

 

posted by on Away From Home, Solo Travel, Travelogues, US Travel

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When I first went to Wyoming to visit my friend Kira three years ago I took a plane from New York City to Billings, Montana, not knowing that within six months of that trip I would also be living out west. It was on that plane ride back from Wyoming that I made my decision to leave New York and the life I knew so well there and five months later I would make the decision to move to Boulder, Colorado.

Now, every year, I make the eight hour car trip north to Cody, Wyoming, which is just south of Yellowstone National Park. Cody is a gorgeous place, full of interesting landscapes and different mountain ranges as far as the eye can see. It’s exactly how you’d picture the west–they even have tumbleweeds. It’s a different kind of West than the West I live in, and it is chock full of tourists all on their way to Yellowstone who want to see where Buffalo Bill Cody stomped around. I go there to visit with an old friend from my hometown of Ridgefield, Connecticut, and her family. To sit on their front porch and gawk at the beautiful scenery, to see how life is lead in their version of the West.

Diptic

To get up there, though, you have to drive through seven hours of painfully boring landscapes with an hour of gorgeous canyons and vistas to break up the monotony. I’m talking middle of nowhere flat land with brown grass and the occasional “town,” population: 8. I have always driven this alone and have had to discover new ways to entertain myself so as to not fall asleep behind the wheel. (Granted, I’m pretty sure if I did, I’d still end up home safely. I might just take a shortcut through a field or something.) Most of the entertainment comes from performing concerts to Billy Joel, Mumford and Sons or showtunes. Luckily I’m usually the only one on the road so no one but the occasional rabbit has to hear my horrible singing.

Diptic

It’s amazing what your brain can come up with to ponder while driving. Here is my list of some of the things that went through my brain on the ride up, and subsequent drive back, from my weekend in Cody over Labor Day.

  • The cows have all this vast, wide open space to roam around in. Miles of land without a single soul to see yet they choose all hang out right by the side of the road. I wonder if they think that we are really fast moving cows and they are trying to learn our ways so they can become fast cows too?
  • How this part of the world used to look like millions of years ago and how all the mountains were formed. There was a LOT of movement going on in Wyoming to form all these fascinating rock formations.
  • My windshield inevitably becomes a bug graveyard. What is it about bugs that they aim only for the driver’s side of the windshield, though? Why is the passenger side practically bug-free?
  • There are no such things as frequent rest stops, especially since there are no towns, no gas stations, no nothing, for miles. So what happens when you are probably 60 miles away from a toilet and there are no shrubs, no rocks, not even tall grass, and you really have to pee? Will the cop who catches you with your pants down understand that you really had to go and had no choice but to flash EVERYONE because sage brush is only so high?
  • Most of the roads past I-25 are two lane highways–meaning, only one going in each direction. So therefore, you must pass those who choose to go 20 under the speed limit (or the speed limit, since my version of the speed limit is the actual speed limit plus five. Always.). The problem is, while fairly easy to do since there is no one around, people don’t have good passing etiquette. It’s simple: if someone wants to pass you, you slow down so that they are not suddenly finding themselves in a race and playing chicken with oncoming traffic. I cannot tell you how many times I was trying to pass someone only to have them speed up while I’m next to them! Also, if there is someone trying to pass you and there happens to be another slowpoke in front of you, give them enough room to squeeze in between the two of you. Most likely there’s going to be an unforeseen car coming in the other lane and they’ll have to make a quick maneuver in. Don’t be the asshole who rides so far up their tail that it feels like you just acquired a trailer. ESPECIALLY if both of you are massive RVs.
  • Speaking of passing, don’t you hate it that after passing like ten slow cars and trailers, you suddenly come across that elusive rest room and since you really have to pee, you have to get off the highway? And let all those slow cars get back in front of you? I seriously have debated how long my bladder can make it so that I don’t have to re-pass all those cars. Because I really hate passing.
  • I love loud music, I really do. Especially while driving. It helps pass the time, it forces me to stay awake and I don’t have to hear my own voice singing. But there comes a time, a few hours into the drive, where you start to wonder at what point do you go deaf from hours of really, really loud music?
  • Why is it that I never snack at home but put me in a car and I have to constantly be eating or drinking something?
  • I often wonder why people would want to live in a state where the weather conditions can be so bad that they frequently close the highway. There are several stopping points where you have to either exit the highway or turn around and go back to the city that is closest if the roads happen to be closed. Last year’s trip was the most terrifying trip of my life. I went up in early November for my friend’s daughter’s birthday and on the way back ran into 60mph+ winds in the pitch black of the night and nearly ran into something the size of my car that was lying in the middle of the road. I had to pull off to the side to scream it out because I was shaking so badly. You literally can get stranded in your state.
  • Why can’t my car drive itself? It’s 2012, it should be able to do this by now. That way I can nap and take pictures of the pretty scenery without risking driving off into said scenery.

There’s many more things that run through my mind while driving but those are the most recent ones since. Focusing on driving is very easy, it’s keeping myself entertained that is the hard part! How do you make road trips go by smoothly?

posted by on Away From Home, Food, Travel, US Travel

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I’ve been home from my trip to the South for a couple weeks now and have been meaning to write about what an amazing time I had while there. Life always seems to get in the way of me and blogging, especially when I’m managing two blogs. The good news is that I still have the remnants of my sunburn so I figure it’s not too late to get these posts up.

Oh, the South. The land where people say y’all, they make a mean BBQ and the people are ridiculously friendly. The humidity also rests at about 100% and despite Colorado’s closer proximity to the sun, the Southern sun is far stronger and more able to turn me from pale to cooked lobster in ten minutes.

Diptic

I had this romantic idea about Savannah before I visited. Spanish moss, jazz music and Southern drawls on the air and that famed Southern hospitality. On this trip, Savannah was a complete accident, a brain fart in the reservation process. I was on a girls weekend in the mountains when I booked the flight to Savannah. Not only was I on vacation mode, but it was also early, I was lying in bed and all I had access to was my iPhone. I had Thursday June 28-Tuesday July 3rd stuck in my head so when I saw the flight at the price that I wanted, I snatched it. And then my friend, Jen, who was planning this whole trip told me that our hotel reservations on St. Simon’s Island weren’t until Friday.

Lucky for me, Jen was up for a Savannah adventure; we booked a hotel in the historic district, the Four Points by Sheraton, and decided to play in a city I have always wanted to visit. Armed with recommendations on where to eat and what to see, we started wandering the streets. Savannah was full of gems; grand old homes, storefronts and streets just lined with these old trees with spanish moss just dripping off of them. A beautiful riverwalk with old buildings facing cobble stoned streets lines one edge of the city. If I leave you with one thing, you must wander aimlessly through Savannah. It’s an extremely walkable city and you never know what you’re going to find!

Savannah, GA

Everyone has heard the stories of the Civil War and Sherman’s march of destruction towards the sea from Atlanta. He burned everything and sadly those plantation homes and those historic buildings just don’t really exist anymore. (Interesting side note: I spent two years during Middle- and High-School in Atlanta and got the privilege of learning about the Civil War both in the North and in the South. They both have wildly different viewpoints but I’m glad I know both. End side note.)  The nice thing about Savannah, though, was that it was spared and these older buildings are everywhere for you to feast your eyes on (and that is thanks to a collection of women who, in the 1950s, started working on saving these old buildings from being turned into parking lots).

Speaking of feasting, one of the recommendations for dinner happened to be Alligator Soul. People had told me to check out Paula Dean’s restaurant, Lady and Sons but since I wasn’t the biggest fan of butter and I was pretty sure every single tourist would be at that restaurant, we took him up on this rec and we were so glad we did. We made reservations for 7:30 and when asked if there was any special occasion, Jen let it slip that it was her birthday. When we arrived at the restaurant they immediately seated us and sitting on the table already were two individual pecan pies with a Happy Birthday message for Jen! The design of the place was great; I’ve always loved the old mixed with the new and their basement location with old brick arches, ambient lighting and fun modern art made for a beautiful space. I should warn the ladies to watch out for the floor in the bar if you’re wearing stilettos, it’s kind of treacherous.

Savannah, GA

Alligator Soul blew me away with their food and craft cocktails by far, though. Some of the best food I’ve ever had–rich, complex flavors and pretty unique as well. I had the Etta James cocktail that is made with a blueberry and cucumber infused gin and citrus soda. That is my kind of drink right there and if I could have bottled it up and taken a gallon of it home with me, I would have. Jen and I split the shrimp and grits appetizer (don’t even hesitate about getting this. It’s amazing.) and I got the Suckling Pig which is more of a pulled pork in a delicious mango sauce that has a bit of a kick to it. Jen got a 20oz Ribeye and duck fat fries. We finished ALL OF IT. Not even a drop leftover on our plates.

We finished the night in a food coma induced happiness in a square where there was live music among several outdoor patios and milling people out enjoying the cooler air now that the sun had set. One half day in Savannah and I already was in love.

Savannah, GA

The following day we went to the Davenport House, the first house that collection of women saved from being destroyed, for a tour since both of us desired seeing one of the grand, old homes. I would have really liked to have seen the Mercer-Williams house, since that is the home featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the book I was reading (and still am). But we settled on the Davenport since it was made by architect Isaiah Davenport. While the gardens and the exterior and the bones of the house were all beautiful (the stairs, 200 years old and never creaked, were very impressive), the decor certainly left a lot to be desired.

Let’s just say if you like really hideous and gaudy wallpaper, you’ll enjoy this tour. Just because it was a paper (or furniture, or fabric pattern) from that time period, does not mean it should ever be used again. There are many gorgeous papers from that period but none of them were featured here. Just to make it clear, none of these papers are known to have actually been used in that house, just had been found in houses across the country from that time period. Wallpapers aside, the moldings and medallions in the ceiling were original and beautiful and it was an interesting house to see. I probably would not recommend it for anyone wanting to see a beautiful, older Savannah home. I know my next visit I will be going to the Mercer-Williams house!

Savannah, GA

Unfortunately that was all we could squeeze in before we had to leave for St. Simon’s but we couldn’t go to Savannah and miss the Bonaventure Cemetery so we made a quick detour out to this hauntingly beautiful stretch of land and forest that housed the dead. The elaborate tombs, headstones and the spanish moss draped trees made it a little eery to be there but I have a strange fascination with cemeteries and the history of the people there. There was something beautiful about this place and I can see why the people of Savannah would want to be buried there.

Savannah, GA

You could always be this guy and have one memorial for both of your wives…

Savannah, GA

Sadly my time in Savannah was very brief but it’s a beautiful city I hope to see again. If you get the opportunity, jump on it!

posted by on Travel, Travelogues

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There needs to be an app that prevents me from purchasing flights that leave before 8am, no matter how cheap they are. 6am? BLOCKED. TRY AGAIN.

My flight this morning started boarding at 5:08. That meant I was up at 2:15 and out the door at 3. And of course I didn’t get to bed before 11 so it was an early morning, I’ve had very little sleep and I’m in possession of most of my belongings.

Not a good combination.

So it’s no surprise that I left my kindle in the seat back pocket of my first flight from Denver to Houston. You know how they make those announcements to check to make sure you have everything before leaving the plane? I was so busy trying to figure out where I was compared to where I was supposed to be that I ignored the feeling like I was missing something and ran off the plane to catch my second leg that started boarding on five minutes. Phew that was a long sentence.

I dashed across the airport to catch my flight and get a quick hi, hug and photo with Linda from Curious Notionswho also had a connecting flight in the same terminal. (Don’t you just love this blogging community?!) It wasn’t until I got onto the smallest plane I’ve ever been on that I remembered oh shit, my kindle is still on the other plane!

I should mention I almost left my purse with Linda just minutes before. Clearly my brain has not woken up yet and if my head was not attached, I would have left it somewhere.

Did I even lock my car in the lot this morning? I guess we will find out if it’s still there, hammock stand in the back, when I return from Georgia.

I read this post by Spencer at the Traveling Philosopher where he talks about whether solo travel is the ONLY way to travel. It’s an excellent read. Anyway, I have always been a solo traveler, unless you count a couple weeks here and there with my younger brother. (Which is like traveling alone since he keeps mainly to himself.) I love traveling alone; I get to do what I want, see what I want and it’s far cheaper than traveling with friends (apparently they don’t like my method of surviving on baguettes and nutella to save money…) Lately, though, I’m starting to realize the benefits of traveling with other people.

Like if you forget your kindle is sitting in the back of the seat in front of you, they can remind you. They can also grab lunch while you make sure the connecting flight doesn’t leave without you (I haven’t eaten since 2:30 and all I had was a yogurt. Growl.).

And when the plane takes off, something you’re kind of a baby about, they can hold your hand and distract you.

I think I’ve just come up with the perfect business model. Hire people to travel with you. Like escorts, only for travel! I’m a genius.

(Or I’m just really tired and hungry and upset I lost my Kindle. I’m grasping at straws, dear readers.)

I’m on my way to meet my friend Jen in Savannah before we head out to St. Simon’s Island for a long weekend. I accidentally booked my flight a day early (it’s like my brain went missing regarding this whole trip. Remind me to pick up my bag at the baggage claim, will you?) but I’m glad I did.

I’ve always wanted to go to Savannah, have always been intrigued by this beautiful city. In fact, if I had my kindle right now I’d be reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, making all the characters talk with southern accents in my head and learning all about this fascinating city.

I really miss my kindle.

I’m just spending a day in Savannah but I plan on fitting in as much as I can, including a tour of their famous cemetery. Spanish moss…old southern houses…carrying your alcoholic beverages around with you…and a restaurant that serves KANGAROO. Be prepared for posts to come. For now I am going to go back to my death grip on the arm rests of my seat since I have them both to myself. Both to myself because there is only one chair on this side of the aisle. Gulp.

posted by on Food, Keeping it Local, Local Finds

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When I first packed up my new Toyota Rav-4 and drove across the country to Boulder, I did a lot of exploring with my father. Most of it involved looking at a map and just going. This method landed us up on top of a “hill”, up through hair pin turns on dirt roads covered in ice and snow with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. At the top of this “hill” (and I put hill in quotations because this east coast city girl had never seen hills this big) was a town called Gold Hill.

Gold Hill isn’t anything special. There aren’t any major attractions, there isn’t much to actually do but it’s a gem in it’s own right. An old mining town from the 1800s, Gold Hill has only a couple hundred residents, a small coffee shop that sells a little bit of everything, a cute shop in an old red building and the Gold Hill Inn.

Diptic

The first time I went to the inn for dinner was last summer. I had been told by friends how good it was and they even warned me that the blackened stuffed trout would still have it’s blackened head attached. That didn’t deter me and I looked him in his little eyes, grimaced a little and ate him up anyways.

When I was thinking of places to take Suki and Ryan for dinner while they were here it didn’t take me long to settle on this place. The drive alone up through Sunshine Canyon is worth seeing and this restaurant that has a seasonal, local menu that gives diners the choice of three or six courses that you choose off a blackboard is unique as well.

Gold Hill Inn, Boulder, CO

Gold Hill Inn, Boulder, CO

It seems funny that this would be one of the first places I decided to feature here. The style of the place is certainly not one I’d lean towards with the mismatched antiques and silverware probably as old as the place itself. In fact, it reminds me a little of my Grandmother’s place. Which may be why I like it. It’s charming in it’s eccentricities, much like most grandmothers are.

Diptic

Diptic

The place is old beams, creaky old floors, log walls and very much what you’d expect from a Colorado mountain town. There are old rocking chairs everywhere and chairs with built in desks. Their wine cabinet is an old buffet with stained glass that has been rigged as a refrigerator. The bathrooms have newspaper clippings from the 1940s and there is even an old cash register behind the bar. The food is not (the food also is a lot better than my grandma’s. She couldn’t really cook). It’s delicious and full of flavor.

Diptic

Diptic

I once again got the blackened trout that was started off with a stuffed avocado with crushed walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette and onion soup (the melon one is also really good) They also have delicious homemade bread and their house dressing, Casey which is a lot like a Caesar, is my favorite for the salad. The trout was once again amazing and was served with a trio of vegetables. It was followed up with a sour cream apple pie and a cheese and fruit plate.

All of which was awesome.

Diptic

I remember nine months after I’d moved to Boulder the Four Mile Canyon fire broke out. It was my first experience with wildfires and I remember watching the twitter stream as the fire neared Gold Hill. It was a scary time (and sadly Colorado appears to be burning right now. Not only is there the massive High Park fire in Fort Collins but yesterday, thanks to some possible lightening, Boulder’s flatirons went up in flames. It is scary to see the fire so close to home and to watch the flames lick the sky from my back porch. Thoughts are with everyone affected and fighting all the many fires going on in CO right now) and you will see its destruction–and the rebirth–of that area as you make the drive up.

Gold Hill, Boulder, CO

If you ever find yourself in Boulder, Colorado, take the half an hour drive through the mountains to this cute little town. Have the six course meal at the inn and if it’s still light out, continue driving through town and out towards the peak to peak highway, go through the quirky town of Nederland and head back to Boulder by way of Boulder Canyon. You won’t regret it.

Oh and maybe you could pick me up before you go? ;)

posted by on Adventure Travel, Away From Home, Travel

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Everything about my stay in Fes was hectic. It was my first stop when I arrived in Morocco in October of 2009. The medina was a maze of bright colors, barrels of fruits and spices and the non-stop banter of a foreign tongue. It was overwhelming, especially for the day and a half I was alone in the city. For those 36 hours, I was starting to believe all that I had heard about Moroccan culture being hard to deal with, that they only saw Westerners as money pits and white girls as a means to get sex, was true. (It was only until after I left Fes for the smaller cities and villages that I learned that this stereotype doesn’t stand true everywhere and most people are quite lovely.) I was haggled, I was propositioned and worst, I was grabbed. I wanted out of Morocco, and I wanted out of there now.

Fes, Morocco Street Scenes

After a particularly rough outing that resulted in a man grabbing my arm and practically forcing me into his shop and my screaming at him, I wound up back at the hotel I was staying at in tears. I was ready to board the next plane back to nice, civilized Spain where the people mainly ignored me.

I was talked off the ledge by the 25 year old man who owned the hotel. The small building was his parents, he told me, and he had taken over it to turn it into something better. He was younger than me, I thought. And already so sure of himself and what he wanted to do with his life. A far cry from my 27 and without a clue as to what direction I wanted my life to take. He asked if I could teach him better English (we were conversing in half-French, half-English at that point) and he would teach me some Arabic. So that is how I spent the two hours before my friend Anneke and her friend Richard arrived from Casablanca.

With my travel companions I would no longer get grabbed or heckled–as much. Most of that was passed on to Richard who now became what appeared to be our “owner.” They would ask him for our hands in marriage, offering hundreds of camels in return for his generousity with our hands. We explored this wild, rugged medina of Fes where we made most of the mistakes that we quickly learned how to avoid. Don’t look interested in anything in the medina. Never look the shopkeepers in the eyes. Act as uninterested as possible. And be forceful with your no’s.

We were couchsurfing while we were there at some fancy house outside of Fes. Our host generously offered to show us his riad that he was fixing up in the medina. We jumped at the chance to see a hundreds-of-years old building being rebuilt. I don’t know how we found it or how we even found our way out but it was the best part of my visit to Fes.

Fes, Morocco
Fes, Morocco
We got to meet the artisans who were the same ones who did work on the King’s palace, got to see them hand painting each individual relief. The amazing ceiling work being done and the tile workers individually hand-cutting each little mosaic tile for the floors and walls.  The riad was still in great disrepair and didn’t even have hand railings on the upper floors facing the inner courtyard (scary for this girl who has a fear of heights) but you could see what it was going to become.

Fes, Morocco

Once we got to the roof we were met with amazing views over Fes and I felt extremely lucky to have gotten that opportunity to see a side of Fes that not many travelers got to see.

Fes, Morocco

We left Fes that evening on an overnight bus out to the Sahara after an argument resulted with this same host who insisted we pay for an expensive limo to drive us out to the desert. His use of scare tactics and threats left a bad taste in our mouths and despite his generosity from earlier in the day, we decided to acknowledge our discomfort and leave. We did leave Fes on a good note: a nice young man with very good English picked us up off the side of the road and made sure we got on the correct bus on time.

While certainly stressful, Fes (and Morocco in general) was full of beauty and unlike anything I had ever experienced before–both culturally and architecturally. It’s beauty was definitely on the inside, drab exteriors hiding brightly colored and intricate interiors that can only be seen by poking around a little.

Fes, Morocco Street Scenes

posted by on Storytelling

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When I started The Wanderscapes, I knew I wanted to write about travel. It is the one thing that I’m the most passionate about and love talking about. I mean, I have stories. But who doesn’t? I needed a direction, I needed a purpose for this blog. A niche, as some would call it. I’ve found it but I’ll need to give you some backstory first.

At the age of eight I discovered two things that would stick with me my entire life. The first being writing; I started writing in lined notebooks that soon turned into journals. Most of it was a play by play of my day, the boys I was crushing on and none of it involved being very creative. It was the start of a long love affair with telling stories that brought me to blogging five years ago.

The second discovery was architecture. There was no point where I decided that I wanted to be an architect or interior designer, I didn’t even know it existed as a profession when I designed my future home in my imagination (some little girls plan their weddings, I planned houses). Yes, it looked exactly like the house I lived in at the time but I had rearranged all the rooms because the current flow just wasn’t working for me. Or something along those lines.

I’ve always been a nomad, even before I realized it was abnormal to move across the country every few years. That is how I grew up and that was what I knew to be normal. It wasn’t until I was in middle and high schools that I realized that most people in this small town that I was living in had lived there their whole lives. They all knew each other for almost as long as we’d been alive. It bothered me a little bit that I was the odd ball out but even then, I wouldn’t have traded that existence for another.

Paris, France

When I was 16 I was introduced to my first semi-international travel, if St. John’s in the US Virgin Islands really counts as international. When I was 18, I went to Ireland and my love affair with Europe and more specifically, travel, really began. At 24 I went back to Ireland and on to Italy. At 26 I went to Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. At 27, I quit my architecture job and traveled through 11 countries for three months.

Here you have my three biggest passions: writing, interior design/architecture, and travel. The combination of which seems almost too obvious for me to miss but miss it I have. I have struggled with the direction I wanted The Wanderscapes to take, as I’ve mentioned before. I didn’t realize how little direction I faced until I walked into TBEX, a travel blogging conference. I was hoping this weekend would bring the clarity I needed.

Barcelona, Spain

The clarity hit pretty quickly. While sitting in the opening keynote, around 9:15 in the morning, it suddenly dawned on me. Travel. Interior Design. LIGHTBULB! What is the one thing I take the most pictures of? Buildings. I always take pictures of cool architecture and design while traveling. It only makes sense! It even works when I’m not traveling. After all, I usually will pick a restaurant based on how cool the design is and if a public buildings decor calls to me, I just have to go inside.

Lucerne, Switzerland

So The Wanderscapes really was born. I spent the weekend redesigning, writing content and goal-setting. It helped that it was about eleventy billion degrees out, I am going through a breakup and I’m still riding high off of the inspiration of last weekend. I am really excited about this new adventure and I cannot wait to embark on it. You’re going to see some old stuff mixed in with some new things. I’m taking life by the horns and I finally feel like I have something here that I am uber passionate about.

Let the adventure begin!

posted by on Conferences

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As I have mentioned, TBEX, the Travel Bloggers Exchange conference, is happening this weekend up in Keystone. I came in not knowing what to expect; I’ve never been to a blogging conference and as far as travel blogging is concerned I’m still very new. I didn’t even have a direction I wanted this blog to go in when I arrived Friday afternoon and headed up the gondolas to Keystone’s Outpost on top of one of their peaks (amazing, if not absolutely petrifying) for the welcome party.

It wasn’t until the keynote opening speech by C.C. Chapman where I was under-caffienated and over-tired that inspiration hit me. In fact, my niche, the direction I wanted The Wanderscapes to go in, hit me square across the face. And it was the most obvious thing in the entire world, so obvious that I wondered what the hell took me so long. (I think Suki also thought this and said as much.)

Diptic

The excitement grew throughout the day as I thought more and more about this idea. My brain was churning and the inspiration was, as cheesy as it sounds, flowing. I couldn’t wait to get to a computer and get started. The more I learn, the more excited I get. The more focused I get.

During Rand Fishkin’s excellent presentation on SEO, my ideas kept growing and taking shape. I started talking to people I met throughout the afternoon about my idea and got extremely positive feedback. It has only encouraged me more and made me more excited for this next adventure in blogging.

Diptic

I’m excited to announce where this site is going but I’m going to hold off for just right now. I’m going to do some planning and figure some things out but expect to see some major changes around here in the next month or two as I get everything set up.

Now I’m going to enjoy this beautiful warm sunshine before lunch begins and finish up my last day at TBEX.

 

posted by on Food, Uncategorized

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Like most freshman in college, I dove straight into the world that had been denied to me in high school: beer and frat parties. I was eighteen and I didn’t know any better than to drink Natty Light, Keystone and Milwaukee’s Best, a failure on most college students parts. After a year of abusing the most disgusting beer known to man, I gave up beer.

For nearly ten years I did not drink beer. To my untrained palate, all beer was the same and that was disgusting. You could not make me drink it, no matter how hard you tried.

In October of 2008 I went on my first trip to Germany. I met my brother at the Munich airport (he was living in Freiburg at the time) and as soon as we checked in at our hostel, we took off to the Englischer Gardens in search of the Chinese Pavilion beer garden. He did not let me say no to the honey colored beer that I had so detested for so long. I was in Germany. I had to drink the beer. He let me get away with half a pint, since the thought of that much beer was making me queasy.

You know what? I actually liked it. In fact, I finished the whole thing. All by myself. It didn’t stop there. I voluntarily drank beer on many, many occasions, including, of course, Hofbrauhaus.

That was the turning point in my relationship with beer. Don’t get me wrong, Coors, Bud, Miller and all those types of commercial beers still make my stomach turn but I’ve since discovered how much I love craft beer. Colorado happens to be the perfect place for that so it’s a good thing I live here.

TBEX festivities have been focusing on the beer. Turner PR threw a pre-bex brew crawl on Wednesday that went to four of the local breweries (Great Divide, Breckenridge, Denver Beer and Fresh Craft) and I’m glad that Germany has changed my mind about beer. I had the delicious Wild Raspberry Ale at Great Divide and got to take my first brewery tour. (Smelled divine, by the way.) At Breck, I had their Agave Wheat which was amazing but my favorite was a surprise. I love wheat beers but at Denver Beer I had their Graham Cracker Porter, a rich, dark beer, and I loved it. I usually don’t like the dark beer (yes, I once returned a Guinness. In Ireland. Not my proudest moment.) but this porter was AMAZING.

I continued drinking at TBEX’s after hours party at Wynkoop (our mayor’s own brewery), another brewery I’d never been to. I’m kind of sad I didn’t skip over to the bar at some point and get one of their beers. I guess I will just have to go back! The beer they did have available to us were from Great Divide and Breck again and I got to try GD’s Samurai, a rice beer, that I really enjoyed.

Colorado, you put out some fantastic beer.

Just a reminder to all TBEX attendees from the sea level: keep this simple formula in mind. Alcohol, water, water, alcohol. Especially up in Keystone (which I’m sure is going to even effect me who is coming from 5400 feet). Altitude sickness isn’t fun, yo. Take it from the girl who got it while sleeping at 3am in Breck.

I am off to the conference! Keystone or bust.

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This weekend is my very first blogging conference, TBEX the travel blogging exchange. Sure, I’ve been to blogger meetups, I’ve even hosted one in New York City. This is different, though. And oh, THE NERVES.

I honestly have no idea what to expect. I do know that some of my favorite travel bloggers will be there and it kind of makes me feel like a giddy little school girl that I might run into them there. I’m also not sure the direction I want to take with this blog. How do I sell myself when I’m not exactly sure what I’m selling? Hopefully this weekend brings more clarity there, if nothing else.

And have I mentioned all of the nerves?

Another awesome thing about this weekend is that I finally get to meet Suki! She’s flying in tonight and staying with me while we aren’t in Keystone for the conference. I’m silly excited for this weekend. It starts tonight with a brew crawl that B is attending with me and then tomorrow Suki, Ryan and I are going to the pre-TBEX party before heading up to keystone our separate ways (she is doing the Road Rally and I am working and then driving Alouise and myself up to the mountains.)

Guys, the opening party is on top of a mountain. And there is a party at a horse barn. That I have to wear cowboy boots to. I’m also going to learn all about marketing and SEO and all that good stuff. Basically, stuff I really don’t know that much about.

It’s going to be great. Plus, it’s all travel oriented and we all know that’s my favorite topic! My business cards are ready, my bags are not packed yet but the excitement is there!0

Stay tuned for updates over the weekend and watch my @ashalahblogs account for the live stream of all of my thoughts. Happy TBEX weekend!