Because Packing is Always the Worst.

And right now in SoCal it is very hot and I am very unmotivated. We are coming quickly to the end of May and, as I have said in previous posts, this month definitely has it out for me.

I have worked all month, visited with friends from out of town and have had at least one event going on every month, the majority of which have required multi day packing for events that varied so drastically the there has been no way to put together a prep-kit for most of the items that need to come with me.

Which is really the biggest pieces of advice I can ever give when facing the absolute horror of packing: create a packing document. This goes double if you have routine trips – ie. SCA camping trips. Have a list for formal trips, casual trips, those require specialty outfits/items, and then go through length of the trip. This may be because I am a Excel-nut but seriously, pre-made packing lists that cater to you because you have tailored them to you are the biggest lifesavers you will find. (If anyone is interested in seeing examples of what I mean, I can probably be persuaded into making a post all about it!).

One of my major packing issues – which I am sure I have covered before – is a really common issues: I pack lighter for long journeys than short visits.

There are many reasons why this happens to most of us. Long journeys usually mean that you’ll be living out of your suitcase longer, having to keep track of more stuff where you go, and a higher probability of having to move said luggage more than once which is a pain when there’s a lot. People tend to pack more versatile clothing when they travel further so the number of things you’ll need drops drastically. Also, with long trips, people figure they can buy and discard as they go so you aren’t lugging around items like hefty shower supplies and other bathroom tools.

During short visits, however, this seems like a waste of time and money so we pack everything just in case we need it. We tend to have more specific ideas of what we’re going to be doing at every second but tend to load ourselves with more options (especially clothing) for each of the activities we have in mind and even those we don’t (sporadic club night, maybe?).

In my last trip up to Fresno – another quick trip that I felt lackluster to pack for – I waited and waited and then packed and cleaned for an hour before getting into the car. I was up there for graduation for two days (three if you include the day we drove up) and I had exactly three outfits in my suitcase: day one (a simple wide leg trouser and crop top), Pjs, and day two (a dress and colored tights). The only thing I had to worry about was whether or not I was going to switch out my days. There was no complication over possible changes because I simply didn’t have the option. It was amazing.

And yes, I am aware that the last minute nature of last weeks packing contradicts my first ‘have a plan’ advice but it is this experience which is now helping shape my future plans. For short trips, pack only what you need and leave behind what you think you might.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Because Packing is Always the Worst.

Looking Forward: Germany.

So it turns out that my best friend from high school who I’ve been spending almost all my time (that I’m not working) with while he visits SoCal will be moving out to Germany later this year and he’ll be staying for another 3. In that time, I will definitely be heading out there for at least one visit and while I need more research once I pick out the exact when.

Yes, I have been to Germany briefly in my WWII adventures with mom and Bex but the more that I research the more that I feel the urge to jump on a plane as soon as possible.

From my last experience with Germany, I’m already convinced it’s the land of fairy tales. Looking through Pintrest, I’m convinced more and more. Wile I am nowhere near finished (and I should probably take those I’ll inevitably travel with into consideration) a few broad ideas are definitely on my list.

First up, Burg Eltz Castle. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful castles in Germany but Burg Eltz has a totally different feel – based on the pictures that is. If you are here in April to November, you’ll be able to take a castle tour, but if not, everything I’ve read indicates great views and hikes that will still be worth the visit (Don’t forget to bring good shoes!).

While Berlin and Munich are amazing cities, there are little towns straight out of fairy tales that are dying to be explored. As with most of these kinds of sights, you may need a car to get to them but, when there’s a will right? Also, as a personal joke, I want to visit the city of Dresden. This is a cultural center and filled with natural features from the river to parks and forests.

Finally, Germany is a country that is really well traversed so, essentially, without much work, there is probably a plan already out there on the internet waiting for you to discover it. Try searching road trips through Germany and you’ll probably find some great guides with more than a few hidden gems.

Even though this trip is a long way off, researching is making me more and more excited at the prospect. If you have any other suggestions – which may include where to take a bestie who is less travel savy (as a civilian at least) than I – leave them in the comments!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Looking Forward: Germany.

Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

This past weekend, I was at a camping event that seemed to be fighting the environment. We were all sandblasted by a veritable dust/dirt storm the fist two days and had off and on showers (more on than off) on the final day – mostly while trying to pack everything up (which brought out many more bugs than is ever necessary).

I camp with my sister, meaning that we have a easy system. One works and packs in the wet, flooded tent while the other takes a break (you can nap, eat, try to get warm, whatever) inside the car and then you switch. Once camp is broken down, we work together to get everything in the back of the truck and settled. most things have a specific place or weight-derived order – to limit the chances of flying debris later – so again, this all goes rather quick and without incident.

I am also the driver and I like to help pack everything up so that I know I won’t have issues when driving. I also like to be the person pressing the buttons to look for music when we drive – I know where everything is without driving and it keeps me going and she knows not to touch my buttons unless asked.

Ki is the passenger. She looks for food, keeps an eye on the navigation, puts up with my music and – most the time – my rants or weird topics of conversation, and she makes sure that when we get food, I am easily able to access mine without killing us both.

The point? She knows her driver. we are partners in this and very rarely – with the exception of terseness over hormonal or exhaustion fueled outbursts – do we have any kinds of problems and ever those are usually apologized for and waved off before the drive is even finished (usually within 5 minutes of said outburst).

Not everyone gets to have these kinds of relationships.

This was abundantly clear while watching others in our group trying to pack up over the course of the day. These ladies were trying to balance multiple duties while tearing down so they had more to accomplish than ki and I, however, I’ve seen this happen on more than one occasion.

Packing their car is insane. Everything has an exact order and placement to make it all fit which makes sense but was easily thrown off by the incremental packing and the elements (rain) fighting against them.

The big problem comes to a head in a matter of workload and conflicting ideas on who and how things need to get done. This groups driver has very specific ideas on how things should go in the car for all three ladies things to fit. She also seems to think that the others should know how to pack said car the way it needs to be packed so that she doesn’t have to guide every step of the packing. As she puts it, she can’t tire herself out with all the packing, because she need to conserve her energy for staying awake while driving so if it looks like she’s lazing around during the process, that’s what’s going on.

Her passengers, however, know that she will get frustrated if things aren’t packed just so – even when certain things don’t make sense to them – so they will need her input and help to do things like set up and tear down. They have admitted that changing some of the tearing down order would probably be done before hand to smooth out the wrinkles.

Despite years of camping together, these small bumps between passengers and drivers makes me believe communication is a real issue and if you are going to road trip with someone, the very first thing you need to do is find out what your companion(s) needs from you. Every driver is different and as someone who fills this road a lot, it’s really nice when we don’t have to think of everything. But drivers, don’t forget to speak up and even set some ground rules.

Every ship needs a captain – figure out how your ship sails best and I wish you many happy adventures.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

And the Maddest Month: May

So I know that I’ve recently been mentioning that I feel the need to get out of town and when May turned out, boy, did it deliver. Maybe more than I am at all ready for!

While work has amped-up to the nth degree, every weekend this month is filled to the brim with travel and activity ranging from 20 minutes to 5 hours away. So, here it is:

I have a camping trips a few hours north and another one 20 minutes above the Mexican border, a graduation trip up to Fresno State to watch my baby sister finish school, and the 20 minute trip to an event I’m hosting before a sleep followed by mothers day. I honestly don’t think I have a day off this month.

Still, summer is fast approaching and with my parents flying off for their 30th anniversary and another cruise, I’m thinking of a few different local trips I can manage while still getting home to feed the animals.

So it’s go, go, go, but I’ll still see you here, week after week, so thank for tuning in.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

And the Maddest Month: May

There and back – Always (Part 3)

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Conwy Castle, Wales. Summer 2013.

If you’ve followed along the last two weeks, you’ll know that we’ve been listing my favorite spots for every country that I’ve managed to visit. Last week I covered my quick stops but now I’m looking at the four countries that I actually have covered extensively and for much longer ranges of time.

So jumping right in:

1. England

I visited England in 1993 (though it totally doesn’t count), 2013, and 2016, but I lived in London from 2014 to 2015. Living in a place is so much different than just visiting it and makes my connection that much deeper. I’ve seen so much of this country, especially London – to the point where I think I’ve walked just about every area at least once – so it’s hard to pick just one place that makes me want to come back and visit time and time again.

In the end, with some help from my mom, I settled on Hampton Court Palace – though ‘settled’ seems the wrong word for it. Hampton Court is lovely and I would love to get my camera in there but more than anything I believe it is the interactive aspects of this palace that makes it worthy of multiple visits. Depending on when you go, they will have a rotation of historical story lines and scenes going on throughout the day that you can follow along and interact with. These stories lead you around the castle and through history.

When we visited, the scenes were from the point where King Henry V was trying to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Anne Boleyn. We got to see these chief characters as well as varied named and unnamed courtiers who surrounded them. At one point the ladies separated from the gentlemen so this trip is great for groups who can get together between scenes like this to exchange notes.

2. Scotland

Scotland is one of the places I will never turn down a visit to. I was there in 2013 and again in 2014 but it feels like I have been here ao much more than this. I may have lived in London, but Edinbourgh is probably my favorite city in the world. I’ve had so much fun and cemented friendships here. In 2013, this city was a real turning point and it’s effected my view of this city forever.

Every time I visit I climb Arthur’s Seat. I’ve gone the long back way as well as the direct and both have been brilliant. It’s easy enough to climb in a dress and converse or workout gear if you really want to push yourself. You can do a quick 30 minute climb or spend the whole days picnicking and climbing through the different points.

3. Wales

I’ve been to Cardiff more than anywhere else in Wales and I was there in 2013, 2015, and 2016. Still, the place that sticks out most in my head – despite my Whovian tendencies – is Conwy Castle. This ruined keep was a brilliant day where I climbed over and over, up and down every tower and rampart parapet. Parts of these walls are not accessible but following along the great stones you can always find your way back up. Next time I visit, I want to stay longer and explore the area more. There are beach areas along the castle grounds as well as the town inside the walls.

4. France

Besides England, France is the country I have explored the most. I’ve visited with both family and completely by myself three times from 2011 to 2016 covering large areas of the country each time. Where I’ve written many love letters to Lyon and always recommend passing through if a person is at all able, old town ended up being my number two location in France.

In the end, Mont Saint Michel in Normandy is my top pick. I loved exploring and climbing through the old monastery but there is so much more I want to do here that I would happily go back to France just to come back here. I want to walk around the cities base as well as see area at high tide when you get to see the real inspiration for Disney’s Corona.



And that wraps up all the countries that I can actually count as having visited. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been everywhere but, in others, it’s more like I’ve been nowhere at all. While I’d give a lot to go back to any of these countries  – the areas I’ve been to or not – obviously I’m hoping to add many more to this list.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

There and back – Always (Part 3)

My favorite places (Part 2)

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Austria, 2015.

Last week, I started my run down memory lane covering much of my older travels, but this week I’m looking at much of my 2015 trip. These locations are more recent but, during them, we explored much less making less choices over what I could revisit. Still, everywhere we hit on that crazy month in 2015 was amazing so I’d truly want to do it all over and over again.

1. Switzerland

We really only hit one thing in Switzerland: Jungfrau or Top of the World.  When we went everything was shrouded in fog but we had such a fantastic time playing aroundin the snow. Because of the weather, they had to shutdown a good chucnk of the outdoor activities and I’d love to explore more and get to take pictures with much less fog.

2. Austria

Austria and Germany are a bit of a blur since we tended to stay along the borders of both and past between them on almost every tour we took, but when it comes to Austria, I would love to revisit the Mirabell Gardens. This is where they filmed parts of Do-Re-Mi in The Sound of Music but there is so much more to the gardens than that. When we explored last time, The rain was starting up which was fun but also made the adventure shorter lived than I would have liked. Plus the movie reference gives you a great excuse to stomp, dance, and sing your heart out throughout the greenery.

3. Germany

Germany is a tricky spot for me but what I loved most were the many stops within the Balvarian Mountains. Whether on break along its giant lake views or venturing through King Ludwig II’s castles, they left so much more to explore. On a trip that I explore alone instead of on tours, these mountains and all their sites might take up the bulk of my time.

4. Netherlands

The Zansee Schans was the perfect stop in the Netherlands that I would visit again and again. Yes, it is touristy but the cheese room alone haunts my dreams! seriously, read the post and go, go, go!

5. Belgium

Just like every other stop along this trip, out time in Bruges was short but so much fun. It was one more city sitting along the channels and exploring them more would definitely be on my list of must do’s. I loved siting in the middle isle, straddling the center bench and watching the city pass me by.



Yes, these were quick but, again, so was the time I got to spend in each of these places. Next time I will be looking over my last 4 countries which I have been lucky enough to visit over and over again – a very different but equally daunting challenge.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

My favorite places (Part 2)

Top 5 (California) National Parks

Continuing on my ongoing saga of National Park posts. I’ll be fleshing out my top 5 California Parks (with a few extra stops) that I’ve added to my more local bucket lists. If you have been reading along, you’ll know that national parks have been on my mind recently and with our current political times and a little sister looking to join the ranks of park rangers, it’s been relevant to me. Plus, Nature’s pretty pretty.

1. Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon National Park

Both of these parks are by Tulare County, California adjacent from each other in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains which, if you are having an extended trip, makes it easy to visit features of both parks. Some of these features are shared – there are hikes and beautiful vantage points – but each have remarkable places of their own which made it impossible to feature just one.

In Sequoia, besides the Mount Whitney hike (which I will definitely be training for with my dad in the next year or two), there are 240 known caves including the Crystal Cave. Actually formed from marble stalactites and stalagmites which form textured walls and features. This cave – as well as others – are only available to view on guided tours that you can purchase tickets for at the park. When you are planning your trip, stay flexible by giving yourself enough time just in case anything in either park is sold out for any specific day.

For Kings Canyon, while Roaring River Falls sounds great – I love waterfalls – the pictures of Rae Lakes and the idea of camping and hiking here makes the nature junkie and camera bug in me do a happy dance. Also, the fact that these aren’t far from my sister’s place (at least for now) makes this another big plus!

2. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Like many kids in middle school, I have definitely built many volcanoes in my lifetime out of sand and paper mache, and I’ve studied their structures and the variety of types. Therefore, Lassen Volcanic park, yea, I want to go. Besides volcanic hikes and areas filled with Lava rock from the last eruption, there are areas of geothermic activity (like hot springs), beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and of course a small hike over to Bumpass Hell which has a lifted catwalk that leads you through volcanic vents and mudponds.

3. Pinnacles National Park

Speaking of volcanoes, Pinnacles is ancient volcanic field which means caves. If you look up images of Bear Gulch Cave Trails you will easily see why I want to get up here and as quickly as possible. Of course there are also tons of overlooks that go along with the many trails you can hike. Some of these hike look a bit more treacherous than others – some seriously tiny pathways here – but still so excited to get out there.

4. Point Reyes National Seashore

While most of my listed parks have boasted beaches around lakes, this Marin County park settles along a much bigger body of water. With waterfall after waterfall and beach after beach, plus the beautiful Tomales Bay and Point Reyes Lighthouse, there is so much to explore. And, for those geology nerds out there, Some of these waterfalls are actually ‘Tidefalls’ – waterfalls that fall directly into the ocean – so beaches that also have lovely tidefalls – YES! Welcome to Alamere Falls. Can I say it again for the cheap seats? Yes, Please!

5. Lava Beds National Park

And then back to volcanic- cave strewn loveliness. Located to the southeast of Tulelake, California and the home of over 700 caves, I just want weeks to explore. Many of these caves are names and I definitely suggest researching which ones you can and which you will want to explore.  There is also Petroglyph Point Archaeological Point – the home to one the largest panels of Native American rock art.

*Bonus: Mono Lake

While this is a smaller stop, as soon as I saw the pictures of Mono Lake’s rock formations, I knew it deserved a mention. While the water level has been depleted at times (LA apologizes!), the high salt levels of this lake has made the ecosystem truly unique. The formations you can see in any pictures of the lake are limestone ‘tufas’.

That’s it for me this week and narrowing down this list was seriously a task unto itself so I’m ready to pass it along. If you have a different park or another part of the country I should look through next, drop me a note and I’ll see what I can do.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Top 5 (California) National Parks