Please indulge me, dear readers, as I introduce you – for the first time in her own voice! – my sister, Bex. This is the sister I have traveled the most with and who I have talked about sharing stories with (telling drunk Irish stories are much better with her!). But without me having to say much, please enjoy her own crazy stories from her own road trip adventures. First up: Yellowstone!
Bounce back with me to the summer of 2015 – a while ago now, I know. I’d just gotten my wisdom teeth out the week before we headed out on a road trip to hit a whole bunch of National Parks; ‘We’ being my parents and my own beautiful purple haired self.
There’s too many to mention in a single post but I may be back for more.
We’ll start with the biggest of the parks – the one we invested the most time into:
While Yellowstone is most famous for the geyser, ‘Old Faithful’ – apparently named such because they can anticipate when it will erupt within an hour and a half either direction. It’s cool enough, but if you’re running short on time or if it’s not going to go off for another chunk of time, I’d suggest taking a walk around to other geysers: a lot of them erupt a lot more often and in ways that are more interesting ways than Faithful’s straight up. We even nicknamed one the “Water Show” because of the amount of tubes and jets directions – mom loves this one!
Old Faithful is still really impressive though.
For people that like hikes, they’ve got some beautiful trails that lead off to hidden away geysers and waterfalls – make sure you remember which way you’re parked, though. Otherwise you’re in for a long trek back when you realize you’ve gone the wrong direction.
A lot of the time, wandering is half the fun!
Explore. Talk to people and the rangers to find little gems off the beaten path. My dad found a secret trail that gave him a great picture of the Grand Prismatic. The boardwalks they put on are great for seeing everything up close, but not great for pictures – to get that, you have to explore!
If you’ve only got time for a drive through the park, then you should definitely take a drive by where the bison wander but remember: park rangers suggest you keep a distance of 100 ft from them for your safety and theirs!
Also: you’ll see tons of people gathering up early in the stretch where you find most of the herds. If you want pictures, keep driving. They’re all over and the less people running around, the easier it is to get good shots.
This is Bex, writing for, Leave on the Wind, Helping you soar!
Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen! We are still in the 12 days of Christmas, right? so not to late for all of this! Also I am extremely excited to announce another guest blogger – whose work I will probably have a lot of fun commentating – My Fiance, Ryan, who I have been discussing a whole lot lately…. which he now is very aware of as I just gave him access to this site….. Yep. Hi, babe!
Anyway, he’ll be going into more details on his life and I hope you guys enjoy and get to hear from him a bit more – partners are fun!
As the aforementioned fiancé living abroad in Germany, I am finally joining Taylor here on Leave-on-the-Wind as a guest blogger. Seeing as I will be spending 3 years as a Soldier in a foreign country, I figured it would be fun to support my fiancé’s blog with some OCONUS (Outside Contiguous United States) views. I get to experience Germany and Europe as a whole for the first time; while I have lived in a couple states and deployed twice to the Middle East, I haven’t spent much time in foreign countries that are not war zones.
I arrived in Germany a little over a month ago, disappointed to have missed Oktoberfest (The real one since we did manage the LA equivalent!), but excited for the next big holiday group event: The Christmas Markets.
Most major cities in Germany have their own Christmas Markets as well as some of the smaller towns but they are proportionally smaller versions. My first taste of the markets was in my local town of Ansbach, where a small market took place in a walking shopping district.
My friends told me it was a tragedy to attend any Christmas Market and not have some festive glühwein, a traditional Christmas beverage most commonly made from a boiled red wine mixed with various spices. I gladly purchased a glass, which instantly started warming me up on that windy, cold day that I have come to recognize as the common daily weather.
It’s taste was compelling, to say the least.
I have never fancied wines much – always feeling forced to enjoy them when offered a glass – but something about the glühwein really resonated with me. Whether that was because of the added spices, or the warmth it provided, I cannot say, but I know I went back for quite a few more cups of it.
Throughout this drinking process, I also discovered an interesting sales mechanism that seemed particular to the markets. Every glühwein seller will charge extra for the mug they provide the drink in, but if you later return the mug, you receive a deposit back or you may forego the deposit and keep the glass. Naturally I kept my first one as a souvenir of my first market. (Check out the pictures below!)
We wandered the market, making small purchases and enjoying the time with friends, as I practiced my meager German. I had come to think of this small, lightly crowded market with just a couple dozen stalls as being the standard of a Christmas Market.
Boy, was I wrong.
The next weekend, I had the opportunity to travel about an hour away to Nuremburg with a coworker, her husband, and their 9-year-old son.
Making our way into the market, I was floored by how many people I was seeing already – this market must be huge: it was. It had hundreds of stalls and thousands of people were milling around.
Most of the time, the market was a crushing crowd, as people pushed left and right to get through – certainly not for those who don’t do well in crowds, but if you can brave the ruckus, you are rewarded with stalls selling all kinds of goods; from handmade candles, to Christmas ornaments, to pastries, pretzels, and sweets. The smells of all the foods cooking was overwhelming, and I wanted a little bit of everything. I stand by my decision to start of with a pretzel and a glühwein and slowly try random pastries and other foods picked at random.
As we walked, we started in on a maze of stalls that seemed organized to lead you in a line from stall to stall as if in a brightly colored labyrinth. My group lost me more than once as I would get distracted by a beautiful bauble, a delicious smelling bag of tea, or the plethora of hanging Christmas tree ornaments. Finding them again, we would start back down the path again, seemingly wanting to buy everything they had to sell. (I talked about this way back when I was living in London; pace yourself and set a budget!)
In the end, not counting food and drinks consumed as we roamed, I managed to buy two ornaments for me and Taylor, a big bag of caramel apple black tea (which smells as sweet as its namesake), and a bag of fruit flavored sweets for my friend’s son. After hours of walking around, we spent some time listening to the band that was on a little stage in front of what looked to be a cathedral, and then called it a night.
Honestly, this introduction to a little bit of German culture and a wonderful evening out was just what I needed to help integrate me better into the place I plan to live, and I was glad to have the chance at some (very poor) German interactions as I butchered their otherwise beautiful language.
Thank God for Google Translate.
I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did and, again, welcome, Ry (as both a reader and writer)! So until next time around,
This is Ryan, writing for Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.
After the crazy debacle I talked about last week (the lost suit adventure), getting a night out and another of Ryan’s big planned dates was an amazing experience. As I said, I focused my research more on small things to see and do – basically going through my regular travel bucket list – but Ryan looked up experiences.
This is how he stumbled upon the Prairie Pines Playhouse and their Murder Mystery Theatre – a half scripted, half improve show with audience interaction served alongside a four course meal. He was searching great activities to do around Kansas – at this point we pretty much knew that staying in one place would get boring pretty quick; I mean, I love you Kansas!! There are so many great features of this playhouse that I’m going to have to pull the experience apart piece by piece:
So while I talked about our crazy suit adventure last week, it turns out that there was no reason for us to freak out. This place is pretty casual – it is improv in the middle of Kansas so (and trying not to sound too judgmental) so I feel like I should have realized this. In Ryan’s tie and slacks and my black dress and heals, we were the most dressed up people in attendance. I noticed this as soon as I stepped from the car and assessed the situation.
I had Ryan roll up his sleeves, unbotton the top few buttons, and loosen his tie for a dressed down formal look which worked for a date – I wasn’t as worried about myself since a black dress, heels, and red lipstick are a pretty universal look. If you are wearing heels, just be aware that you will be walking around on gravel, grass, and other uneven surfaces.
If you like a good mix of beautiful and rustic, this is definitely a place for you. I decided not to bring my good camera on this trip because it was an inside show and I figured that it would be too late to do any camera work. Boy, was that a terrible plan!
The appetizer course consisted of meat, cheese, and veggie platters and was served on the patio before the show began. At this point you were encouraged to place your drink order and then grab some food to bring to the table or to walk around the grounds with until 10 to 15 minutes before the show was meant to start.
The grounds aren’t huge but lots of walking around space. There are little almost cabin looking spaces which were really cute as well as a natural rock falls into a a gorgeous pond willed with flowers. On the other side, there was another pond with a taller rock area you could climb that has a few bench swings along one side – though these didn’t seem to be used often based on the wear and spiderwebs.
Inside was just as nice – that mix of lovely and rustic. Again, this is called the Prairie Pines Playhouse for nothing – I would love to see this place in winter – another season they do plays in.
So yes, I fell in love with the atmosphere of the place, but that would have been nothing if the show wasn’t worth the trip, however, the show was definitely worth it. The show we saw was The Altos – a murder mystery with advertised as the Sopranos: only lower. Basically, a mobster who everyone has a problem with is killed and people are gathering for his funeral. However, it turns out he isn’t dead and throughout the play, tries to figure out who is trying to kill him.
At first, some of the actors made us a little nervous – there were flubbed lines and some craziness. However, since this is a comedy and an improve show, these flubs quickly became part of the running gags and made the show more dynamic and funnier than I could ever explain.
But remember, this is also an improv show and there is audience interaction. Audience members are picked to interact with actors on and off the stage throughout the show. Ryan got picked to go up as the mobster’s son – Tony – and he seemed chomping at the bit to speak the whole time, obviously enough that he was teased about it quite a lot. He threw the actors off a bit but seemed to be a hit with the audience. Then, unexpectedly, he got tapped to go up again by one of the older ladies – she apparently missed his scene earlier in the play – to go up and play the informant. While he was funny the first time around, he was twice as sassy in the second go making a crack about the no-alive mobster’s size which resulted in a threat to put him – Ryan – in the urn instead.
So be aware when you go, no one is safe and while you aren’t forced, no one has to be as sassy as Ryan – just play along, follow the actor’s lead and do what feels right!
The food timing was between the acts of the play and you are served by the actors, in character – we got a lot of commentary, including the priest discussing the probability that Ryan could be possessed and his interest in doing an exorcism later. In terms of the quality of the food, we had mixed feelings. Frankly, it was catered food and getting the chicken with pasta, it didn’t blow up away. However, it was good enough that we ate enough to be almost uncomfortably full and had really large portions. For the price you pay for the food, the play, and everything else (drinks were extra), we couldn’t really complain.
Overall, I highly recommend going to any event or play held at the Prairie Pines Playhouse, and if I were ever in the area again, I would definitely go back. The plays are limited and, especially the Christmas show, fills up fast, so keep an eye on this venue and and call in to reserve space early – when we went they were saying this Christmas was at least half filled already.
So here we go through part one of day 2 (or the first full day) in the whirlwind trip through Kansas (even if we were really in Missouri). While Ryan was in charge of the big ticket item dates, I put my time and research into smaller places that I would want to visit on one of my normal travel expeditions. And this, of course, leads us to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
If you know my background – an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries (which is a fancy way of saying I studied things like museums, publishing, social heritage, media, and international business movement and technology across entertainment fields – basically a wide range of topics) – you know that I love museums. I have a brief insight into how individual galleries are curated and then how things move through the whole of the museums from this degree and, alongside my collected knowledge from my college art history class, this makes exploring so much more fun, especially when I have an audience who doesn’t mind hearing all about it.
With this background and my love of photography, this pick was absolutely fantastic.
First off, the museum itself is lovely – built with classical architecture and rooms upon rooms of art and a sculpture garden that is sparse enough to feel like a park while still calling itself part of an exhibit.
This is the part of the museum that we actually came out to see. I absolutely loved all the Shuttlecocks sculptures and understand how these became the statement piece and symbol of the whole museum. The sculptures are scattered throughout the garden in patches and across levels which is great for both pictures and picnics while surrounded by all kinds of art. Outside, the sculptures fall into the modern art classifications, but has a range that makes it interesting enough to keep running around – I loved the maze (but walk slow because I have seen many slam into the clear walls), the metallic tree, and (I must mention again) all of the different Shuttlecocks. Even if you aren’t looking for a museum day, this is a lovely areas just to come and have some lunch if you are in the area.
We didn’t spend much time inside, except for lunch, but we did run through the impressionist gallery, and, if this is any indication of the rest of the museum, every gallery would be worth stepping into if only for the unorthodox set up. Again, we were in the impressionist gallery, but throughout there were other types of art – furniture pieces and small scale sculptures which used an interesting juxtaposition. For me, if a gallery had a Degas ballerina sculpture (which this did), I am more than happy.
But onto lunch: as with all museums, food here isn’t cheap, however, unlike other places, the portions were rather generous. The staff was friendly and efficient and the room was lovely – hanging lights and natural daylight, with black iron tables surrounding a fountain. We had sandwiches and soup (I had half portions of both) and a blondie for dessert, plus infused water and every bit of it was fantastic. It is all freshly made in front of you so if you don’t want a specific spread or veg on your sandwich, they can make it without, without any extra work. Again, the portions were really generous and I was happily full on the half portions! Also, if you can agree on the type of sandwich, you can split the whole for cheaper than buying two halves.
I’ll end it here without going over and over my strange, nerdy discussions over curation and storytelling through the placement choices, but I will say, if you visit Kansas City, go see this museum. It’s beautiful, full of so much to see, has a full itinerary of events going on all the time, and, as someone who loves the arts, visit and make a small donation for the upkeep because your trip (minus parking, food, and special exhibits) doesn’t cost you anything!
So here are a few of my favorite pictures from my NorCal trip right before New Years. I enjoyed these places so much and just wanted a quick shout out. You can always find more on my Flickr.
While the above is not really a tourist location that I can send you all to, this is my cousins’ house out in wine country. I love the area around their house. There are so many different features like this horned gate and rusted old cars that speaks so much to my ‘forgotten places’ aesthetic and really works here. It also helped that we were here in winter so the plant life was working very well for me.
This was on the left side of the buffs (and Point) near Bodega Bay. This was from the second day of the trip and I loved the color contrast. Climbing around the varied rock faces to get these rocks was so much fun.
I can’t tell you how many images of this girl out on the floating rock I have but she was mesmerizing. This might be my favorite shot of her. She’s such a still force in the wake of all the visibly mobile water. It still has me wondering how she managed to get out to her perch – there really was no direct path even if she’d been there at a lower tide!
On our day out, we stopped on the right side (going into the city) of the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d never gone up the side road, along the coastal mountains but the views were breathtaking. Of course, it was crazy trying to find a spot but it does seem to get easier the further up you go.
I love the Ghirardelli factory and always have. I have so many memories from the city and a stop at the factory was always the best part. While it can get busy here, it never feels like I have had a successful trip unless I climb up the long hill.
We’re back with another great running for travel post by my good friend Libby. This week – after a long stint away due to computer issues (That she’ll touch upon) – she gives us one more amazing reason to get in shape and keep running: it can give you even more reasons to travel! I’ve mentioned my love of Hawaii and my own athletic adventures and wishes to return to these beautiful islands, but after reading all of this through Libby’s perspective I – and I bet you as well, after reading – am all ready to pack my bags and explore all over again. So here we go!
I know in my last post I mentioned that I would tell you all about the NYC Marathon. Due to some technical difficulties, the post I was writing is currently not accessible to me. So instead, allow me to tell you all about a recent runcation I took to the Big Island in Hawaii.
You may be asking yourself: “What’s a runcation?”
Allow me to explain. It’s when you travel to a location to run a race, then you make a vacation out of being there.
There are three things I absolutely love about runcations:
1. It gives me an excuse to travel
2. It allows me to explore new places on foot (the best way to see new places, in my opinion)
3. It gives me an excuse to pig out on local food
I traveled to the Big Island last month with my cousin, but first we had a seven hour layover in Honolulu.
Instead of sitting around in the airport for seven long hours, we decided to take a bus over to Waikiki. There are two things that immediately come to mind when I reflect back on my brief visit to Waikiki: The water was this beautiful blue color that I will never forget and the place was very touristy. There was high-end shopping and hotels everywhere. I could tell almost immediately that locals probably don’t hang out there. After two brief hours, we headed back to the airport and flew over to the Kona Airport.
My first two days on the Big Island were spent running my second Ultra Ragnar Race – Ragnar is a 200 mile(ish) relay race that takes place in multiple locations across the country. Most teams contain twelve runners, but an ultra team only has six, which means you end up running a lot more. I ended up running about 30 miles out of the 200. It was exhausting, but so much fun. My favorite thing about Ragnar is that you run together as a team. I’m used to running races all on my own, so Ragnar is always a nice change of pace (pun intended).
After the race I had two days to explore the Big Island, which, as it turns out, is not nearly enough time. There is a whole lot to do on the Island of Hawaii and I wish I could have had at least two weeks to explore.
I started off by exploring the Town of Kona. It has a small-town authentic type of feel. There are a lot of fun little shops to explore, it’s located right along the ocean, and it’s the location of my favorite shave ice I’ve ever had.
After that we (my cousin and friend were with me) headed to black sand beach. I unfortunately didn’t see any of the turtles that hang out there, but it was still a beautiful place to visit.
Then, we headed to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I had so much fun checking out the active volcano there. I will distinctly remember watching the sun set over the volcano that night. As it got dark you could see some lava peeking out – it was surreal and amazing. Finally, we ended the day by grabbing dinner and drinks at Kona Brewing.
On our final day of exploring, my cousin and I decided to explore the east side of the Island. We started off by going to ‘Akaka Falls – it’s a beautiful waterfall that doesn’t require an extraneous hike to reach.
After that, we checked out the town of Hilo, but it unfortunately wasn’t quite what we expected. The town was run down and there weren’t many great shops to check out. It felt like the opposite of Kona.
After checking out the town we just drove around and took in the scenery. The Hilo side of the island is so green and lush, unlike the Kona side which is full of volcanic rock. We ended up finishing the day back in Kona (where we went back to our favorite shave ice place) and had dinner.
I left Hawaii the next day feeling like there was so much more to do and I’m anxious to go back in the future. I even signed up for a Hawaiian Airlines credit card to try to earn enough miles to go back. I still haven’t decided which island I’ll head to next time…I’m debating between going back to Maui (I visited that island about four years ago) or Kawaii. Until then, stay awesome everybody and go to Hawaii if you have a chance. I’d HIGHLY recommend it.
This is Libby, writing for Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.
Me at Waikiki Beach
My Ragnar team at the starting line of the race
amazing shaved ice in Kona
My Ragnar team at the race finish
From left to right: my cousin, me, and my friend
Exploring beautiful scenery on the Hilo side of the island
One of my friends is going to be taking his family on a trip through the UK soon and told me last night that they decided to add Conwy, Wales to the itinerary. I was over the moon. Conwy was one of the amazing days I spent on my UK trip in 2013 (How was that already three and a half years ago?) and it got me thinking about some of the photographs I have been able to take over my past trips.
I’m not usually a fan of posed pictures but I couldn’t not add one of us. This trip is probably the highlight of my entire traveling career. We both did so much and pushed so many of our personal boundaries. It was our first big trip that we planned out ourselves and it couldn’t have gone better! Plus, it inspired this whole blog.
I have so much love for Mont Saint-Michel. It’s not really a castle but it inspired Disney’s Tangled animators and I was just as inspired. I need to head back when it’s night and the tide comes in – the full Tangled experience!
The whole day we took this tour was amazing – castles, castles, castles! This castle inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, but here, I couldn’t help thinking of Beauty and the Beast. I love the look of the clouds, the forest, the castle – it’s just lovely.
This park was a bit of a hike and a long day, but a day off of work was well worth the effort. The whole Twickenham area was picturesque. I love the individual statues personalities in this fountain and could have spent hours running around here but I never would have had I not been living here and created my London parks tour.
Visiting Sonoma was one of the last real trips I took and I fell in love with the city all over again. I attended this school for three and a half years but it wasn’t until I revisited and looked at the school through my new camera lens that I truly began to miss living in this beautiful town.
I am looking for more and more chances for travel, but for now, I’m enjoying looking back at my pictures and simply reminiscing.