The hidden gems of Yellowstone!

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:

Yellowstone.

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.

Or don’t.

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!

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The hidden gems of Yellowstone!

Words of inspiration: Carpe Diem

While the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ can be both beloved and dreaded in the travel community – it is equally a call to arms and an overused ideal that people either want to kill or scream at every chance – what I am talking about is a book that inspired me to travel over a decade ago, but one that I think many may have missed out on: Autumn Cornwell’s 2007 debut novel, Carpe Diem.

I don’t want to go into to much detail on what the book is about – that’s what a google search is for – but in simplest terms: A type A, overachiever – Vasser, 16 years old – wants to stay home and study all summer, but instead gets whisked off on a crazy, trouble filled adventure across Southeast Asia.

I read this a decade ago and still when little things go wrong in any trip I take, this is the book that I can’t stop thinking of. Mostly, this is a scene almost half way through the book and is a fairly long running crisis where Vasser has some …. intestinal distress. This chronically instances from socks lost to toilets and how you try to explain this to cute fellow travelers to the worse possible places for vehicles to have bathrooms – waist-high boxes with circular openings that you must climb in a moving vehicle will always give me chills!

I love books and when an author can make me remember one specific scene and have perfect detail and emotional recall that always finds me when I am in similar situations, it is a book I want to keep around.

Carpe Diem was this book to me and I can never recommend it enough. I laughed, I hid, I fell in love and I was inspired to get out of my house and more than ever, make sure I was out in the world.

So go out there and bring your book and inspiration with you.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Words of inspiration: Carpe Diem

Learning to Say No

I won’t lie, in one way, I have talked about this topic before, however, this post is a different kind of learning curve. In earlier post – especially when I’ve talked about traveling as a woman and traveling alone – I talked about how important it is to say no. This could be saying no to people who want to join your adventure; people who think you shouldn’t travel alone; even saying no to things that make you truly uncomfortable (but I still suggest pushing your limits); knowing when you need to say no, despite all the Yes Men out there say.

Now, years older and in a very different life situation, I am balancing real live (verses school responsibilities of a few years ago), wanting to travel, and wanting to go see my soon-to-be husband. What I have learned – and again, my situation is specific for my situation – is that when making plans, I can’t be guilty or afraid to take a little time out for myself and say no to taking on extra hours because I could reasonably be somewhere else or doing something else instead of being at work.

I am a teacher and I take that responsibility seriously – in fact, in some ways, I seem to take it more seriously than many others in my acquaintances. I have had coworkers that have taken weeks off for a family members wedding (no, they weren’t involved in the wedding, although it turned out that they actually did a mini-vacation with a two-day wedding trip wrapped into it).

I, on the other hand, get a guilty knot thinking about the 2 to 4 days I may need to take off when Ryan is in town; then there is potential time next year when I want to go to Germany for Christmas next year and then North Carolina with him for another wedding. None of these are extended amounts of time, but I still feel guilty not being their for my hours, plus having to say no to helping fill in for others as a substitute.

Again, I am not saying this to point out my work ethic – I have serious work and financial reasons that I work like this – But my point is, no matter what your work is, most of us need to learn to say no. No, I don’t need to take all that extra work; no, I shouldn’t bail on my vacation time; no, I don’t need to feel guilty that I am not able to respond every time I am called.

I have been trying to balance life and money and travel for a long time. I also thought I knew how to say no, but I will always admit that I am a work in progress.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Learning to Say No

It’s February!

Can you believe we are already here! I know that for some, the extra emphasis on all things love and candy throughout the month is overwhelming and overwrought, but I am getting married in a few months and feeling both a little love and a little stressed this week with wedding stuff, so for me it’s all about bringing on the love!

In terms of travel, they say that traveling can make or break you as a couple. luckily for me, it seems that when we are together, Ry and I do a lot of travel and it’s made us work together and tested us for the better – road trips give you a lot of time to sit there and talk about big, important things if you let them!

But for us, it’s about traveling together, to each other, as well as traveling separately and enjoying each adventure no matter what! As hard as traveling together is, watching your partner go and do so many things you wish you had time for can be a challenge you never expected to face.

So how do you deal with this? Turn days out apart into a game! Give them goals or set up bingo or scavenger hunts and see how many things you see that are similar or radically different. Write each other little notes about where you are, what they saw, and what you were thinking about – bring them on the adventure with you that way.

Mostly, it’s about knowing your partner – Ry knows that I love hearing about the mundane stuff he deals with during a day from when he thinks someone may have flirted with him to frustrations with how long he is working, so traveling or day to day, he always shares his stories.

So, overwrought or not, this February I wish you travel and love – love from partners, friends, family and/or mostly yourself.

Until next time:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

It’s February!

4 years on….

This week marks 4 years of writing…. and I can’t believe it. Honestly, I don’t know if I feel like I have been doing this for so much longer or so much shorter. But today, I want to review and go back to my first, fledgling of an idea.

There Be Dragons Ahead.

I have been writing for four years and all but the first few months, I haven’t missed a week.

I was 23 years old (almost 24); I had visited 9 countries across 4 contents; I had lived in 1 country; I felt that I had seen so much of the world and in some ways I had – in others, I had no idea and wouldn’t believe how far I have come.

Today, I am about to turn 27; I have visited and been blessed to explore 14 countries across 4 continents; I’ve lived in 2 countries; I’ve traveled completely alone and on my own dime; I fell like I have seen so much of the world and yet know almost nothing and have so much more to see; I am getting married and working on balancing my travel, my relationships, my career, and everything else I want to do in my life that I never thought possible.

It is crazy what life can do for someone in the span of 4 years.

Four years ago, when I talked about Dragons ahead – a reference to old maps that inferred that there was more of the world than they could map with their current scope of knowledge – I knew that there was more to learn, but I sit back and laugh now at how much I truly thought I knew.

Even back then, I had seen more of the world than most people I have met and in a greater abundance of situations – as an ambassador, as a large family trip, and small friends and family trips, purely as a tourists or with locals that could show you the behind-the-scenes versions of their towns.

So, There Be Dragons Ahead.

This has never felt more real. I have no idea what the future holds because every time I make a plan, God seems to laugh in my face. Soon enough, where I live will be dictated my the US government and army – I can’t plan that. Instead, my plan moving forward, I will grab that dragon and let it take me wherever it deems fit and necessary. And even though I would love to see the whole world and explore all of it’s wonders, I hope that for the rest of my life, there are still dragons ahead.

This is Leave on the Wind, (still) helping you soar.

4 years on….

One Sappy Travel Goal

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Ryan and I in junior year of high school. May 2008.

Have you ever had one place that you absolutely have to make it to? I don’t mean a normal bucket list, appears on every travel wish list on the internet, kind of location, but a place that for a single, deeply personal (or maybe even a little crazy) reason you are almost embarrassed to tell the average person about because it feels a little silly – maybe even intimate?

While I have done this for random locals on bigger trips – we went to the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris on one of my last trips specifically because the outside was featured in my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie – I have to confess a place that I would be willing to make a trip completely about, but not because I’ve heard about how amazing it is; instead for an intimately personal reason:

Dresden, Germany.

Never heard of it? Well, it isn’t one of the biggest stops when thinking about a European or even just a German vacation, however, this city has a very special place in my heart and I have never even visited it – YET!

While I have read through the Rick Steves’ version of this town and all it’s amazing history and art scene (another two big ‘yea, I can make that work’ marks in my book), these aren’t part of my reasoning. Instead, it all goes back to my senior year of high school, a marriage project, and having to name our fake baby: Dresdyn Pheonix.

Now, all these years later, I am marrying my old project partner who I fought with for hours over a silly made-up baby name and who is going to be living in Germany for the next three years – with all of these events lining up how am I supposed to miss out on Dresden, Germany?

While everything about the city calls for me to visit, it’s not about the place any more, it’s about what that place means to me in context with all the things and choices that led here. And that’s what I love about travel: inspiration can come to you from anywhere and everywhere as long as you choose to embrace the craziness of this messy life.

I don’t know when we will go to this city, but for my own silly, embarrassing, sweet, sentimental reasons, I will make it to Dresden and I will have a partner by my side who is going to make the trip worth it – a person who knows exactly what that town means and can be just as sentimental and in love with it as I am.

And isn’t that what traveling is all about?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

One Sappy Travel Goal

Honest truths we need to admit

I have been thinking recently about why we travel and, after some consideration – a lot of consideration – have decided to put my two cents in on this debate.

To give this arguments some legs, I feel that I need to explain some of my current situation: I am getting married and my husband will be living in Germany for almost three years without me. If you know me (or have read any of this blog) you should know that this is hard for me, if only because I would love the chance to live in Germany and travel ALL THE TIME! Still, I am stay in SoCal because I am applying to schools here to get my teaching credential – California credentials are accepted more places and as my future involves moving every few years, having papers that easily transfer with me is key.

I have had a few critics of this choice; critics who keep telling me that I can teach English out there and get a teaching credential later. While I know these individuals are being supportive in their own way, I can’t explain how irritating it is to want to be able to do this but also knowing that my future really rides on me NOT taking this advice (there is more to this choice but I do not want to go into all the details here as they are personal but -trust me – very valid).

Still, all of this got me thinking about how people are able to travel all around the world and some of these situations we need to really think about before praising the options.

Just to kick up the drama: let’s face it…. I could never actually live in a hut.

A teacher asked this question when I was in college and looking back, I can’t believe how naive I was even thinking I could! I am not necessarily a consumerist, but I do acknowledge that I do not have the skill to add to this kind of community. No matter what I can add as a teacher or service person to these kinds of rural communities (and I am a very smart and resourceful person), any kind of travel aimed at really ‘helping’ these communities benefits me and my need to travel more than these communities.

This is different if you are in a field such as medicine, where your skills can really be put to use, but I am much more skeptical of my Comms friends who keep going out on ‘service travel.’ Most of the time, you stay in a place for a while, make connections, teach a little, but also party, take pictures for Facebook, and then you leave the community so a new group can come in and start the project all over again.

I am not – and will never claim – that these have no far-reaching effect on the communities supported by these efforts. There are always benefits, however, I am not sure they measure up as they could if we didn’t advertise these trips as post-grads excuse to travel the world with a little service thrown in.

We put a mask on these situations – a fantasy of what the world looks like so that we can come home to start our ‘real lives’ feeling more grateful for what we have. Again, I am not saying this is a bad thing, except that I have watched people come home and quickly fall back into the patterns of spending money on parties and going out and escaping their lives in a new way, rather than keeping the appreciation for the ‘simple’ life they seem to come home raving about.

So, to the critics, yes, I can go and travel and teach and do it all right now, but I can also do this down the line, because Germany isn’t going anywhere and sometimes, adulting does trumps running away from the hard choices.

But, again, this is just my opinion!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Honest truths we need to admit