Three Crazy Trips I’m Planning For 2018

I’ve been pretty silent about my trips this year. I think it has to do with a little bit of burn-out surrounding the whole “travel blogger” thing. I started backpacking because I loved seeing the world and because I’m a writer who starts to lose their sanity if they aren’t writing every day—never to get attention. After traveling, and living abroad, I kind of hit a wall as far as what my motivation for travel was. Was it to get followers? Likes? Pad my portfolio?

There isn’t anything wrong with any of these things, but I needed to take a step back from the spotlight (if you will) and rediscover why I want to travel. The answer I came up with is that I want and need to travel for my own artistic inspiration and spiritual certainty.

As far as art goes, discovering the classic works of art has always been one of my number one goals with travel. I’m in love with the works of Van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin and Monet. I also love seeing new illustrative styles and sculptures. As a writer, I’m also always looking to discover the literary backgrounds of the places I travel to. I’ve visited the hometowns of Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter, Ernest Hemingway, and Charles Dickens just to name a few. I hope to see more.

All that being said, I’ve thought long and hard about the three trips I’ll be taking this year. These are where I’ve decided. FUN FACT: None of them are on the list of “Must Visit Spots for Millenials in 2018”. I didn’t choose them because of anything like that. I picked them because they speak to my heart.

1. Quebec City, Canada

When I was nine years old I went on a road trip with my family that lasted about a month. During the road trip I had my ninth birthday and we crossed over into Quebec, Canada. For those of you who don’t know, Quebec is the French speaking portion of Canada and from the moment I heard people speaking I was in love. Obviously now I know that French-Canadian and French are very different, but as a kid I had no idea. The minute I got back to Seattle I asked my mom to enroll me in French lessons, and I’ve been studying the language ever since. I absolutely adore it. Rather than Montreal, where I went last time, I’ve decided to stay in Quebec City. I’m super excited for this adventure, and for being able to see the Chatêau Frontenac! Cities with castles are just better.

2. London, England/Paris, France

For my birthday this year I’m planning on returning to the UK. The focus of this trip will probably be literary, since I’ve seen a lot of the main attractions. I may also try to stay in a beautiful spot by the water for my birthday. This trip will likely extend to Paris, as well, since I’ve always wanted to take the train across the channel and it’s been on my bucket list.

I think one of my favorite things about revisiting spots is that you get familiar with the cities and therefore you’re willing to take more risks. You feel comfortable enough to go into random pubs on the street, or to wander off the map a little. Funny enough, I really didn’t like London the first time I went…or really even the second time. But now that I’ve been there a few times it’s starting to grow on me.

3. Arcata, California

This is my least planned out trip because it will probably fall late in the year, but I’m planning on visiting some family in northern California, and exploring the Redwood Forest! I’ve wanted to head down there for a while, but I just haven’t been able to make it for various reasons. I’m super excited to go spend some time enjoying nature and seeing one of the natural wonders of the world.

BONUS: I’m also probably going to be taking a weekend trip to Vancouver, BC but stay tuned for more details!

A Geek Guide To Vancouver, BC: Part 1


If there’s one thing I like to do, it’s find out geeky things about a city. Remember that time I uncovered a Sherlock Holmes society in San Francisco, or when I visited every major spot in Paris that was from “Midnight in Paris”? Or what about the Star Wars x-wing in Denver? Game of Thrones castle in N. Ireland? Or the site in Ireland of the huge Braveheart battle? Yeah, yeah, I love geeky things. So, it makes sense for me to join the two things together while I’m on the road.

This weekend we’re spending some time celebrating our anniversary in Vancouver, and it’s been such a fun trip. Of course, any time I come to a new city I have to find out EVERYTHING GEEKY about it, so here is a compilation of my findings from day 1 in British Columbia.

Famous Geek Icons from Vancouver: 

Alexander Ludwig: 
It wasn’t until today that I realized that this hunk was from both the Hunger Games AND one of my favorite shows, Vikings. I really had hopes that I could correct the grammar on Vikings based off of the actors being Scandinavian, but nope. This boy’s from good ‘ole British Columbia. Luckily, he’s still fun to watch being a Viking bad ass on the show, and it’s nice to know we both hail from the west.

Michael J. Fox:
Blast from the past, and Back to the Future, it’s true that this Hollywood icon isn’t as active in the geek world right now, for obvious reasons, but he’s a geek idol, nonetheless. Back to the Future was a series that molded and shaped my childhood and I’m happy to find out he grew up not too far from me.
Ryan Reynolds: Obviously most famous, at the moment, for his portrayal of the Marvel bad-boy Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds has been a favorite from Just Friends to The Proposal. In case you (and half the geek world) are trying to still forget – he was also DC’s Green Lantern, and appeared in the Wolverine, as well.

Hayden Christensen: Personally, I prefer to think of him as the actor who brought Jumper to life, but we do have to credit him for some of the weirdest Star Wars movies, as well. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely his fault that they’re the embarrassment of the geek community – the script writers weren’t doing to hot, either.

Shawn Ashmore: I may or may not have had a crush on him when I saw the first Xmen movie (I was like 12) but how could you not!? Him and Rogue were the perfect couple and then she went running after Logan – what was she thinking!? Anyway. He only kind of counts because he was raised in Alberta. But he was born in Vancouver, so they still claim him as their own.
Colbie Smulders: To be honest, I still don’t even know her Avengers character name, but she’s awesome and one of the few female characters in the movies who doesn’t have powers. She can also be found on Agents of Shield, a show that, for the life of me, I can’t find time to watch, mainly because I’ve heard some good and a lot of not so good about it.


Somewhere to grab some geeky books: 

I love used bookstores. In fact, I love pretty much any place I can get a good deal on a good read, and this morning that was the first place I plopped off to. I was really excited to score on a book by Diana Gabaldon, who writes the Outlander series. I learned about the books via the STARZ show, but I’ve started to read the books and I adore them, as well. The book I found was an accompaniment to the series, called “The Outlandish Companion” which goes into details about the series and why Diana chose certain aspects to put in/leave out. It also has commentary and helpful additions, such as genealogies, to help out along the reading of the first four books. Overall, I’m really happy with the find. Especially since it was only about $15 (with the conversion rate). Somehow I always end up finding the heaviest books while I’m traveling and this one weighs in at about 600 pages to keep the trend going.

My stop today was at Book Warehouse, which is located at  632 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1G1


Geek places to eat:


Storm Crow Ale House: This is an updated/more contemporary version of the Storm Crow Tavern, which is amazing in its own right. We kind of accidentally stumbled upon this one, not actually realizing there were two in Vancouver, and really loved the atmosphere and the people who were hanging out in there. I actually was really happy to be hanging out mid-day because a lot of people were just hanging out there, playing games and having good food. I would definitely recommend. Click HERE for the website.


Storm Crow Tavern: This Tavern is also a real treat, and is decked out with memorabilia, geek art, books and a giant octo-monster head. And they also have tons of games to choose from playing. The best part is that the food is also amazing. I had a cod sandwich and some raspberry rhubarb crumble for dessert. It was sublime. Definitely stop by this spot if you’re a sci-fi and fantasy fan. Click HERE for the website.

Back On Le Train

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Life has been crazy. I haven’t been blogging for the past couple of weeks because all the sudden my life shifted into fast gear and I kind of lost my footing for a bit. Summer has begun, and everything keeps chugging along. Work has been ridiculous – in good, but exhausting, ways.

My work day currently looks something like this:

6AM – Wake up

6:25 – Bus to work

6:45 – Arrive at work

9:30 – Leave work and bus home

10:00 – 2:30 Paint/write/try to catch World Cup games/eat/study french

2:45 – leave for work

3:30 – 7:30 Nanny

8:00 – Come home, eat dinner, paint

10:30 – Go to bed (if I’m lucky)


Needless to say, it’s been pretty hectic.

Mais, c’est la vie.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Next week will be my last week working mornings, which is going to be fantastic since I can then actually stay up later than 10pm and get things done (I’m a pretty hard core night owl). Other than that, here are the top 5 things that have happened since I’ve written last!


1. France in the World Cup: Sorry if you’re not into soccer (and shame on you), but this had to be #1. France is making me proud with their football playing in the World Cup, and I’m so excited to be able to watch them play Nigeria on Wednesday! I was able to watch the France v. Switzerland game in a French café here in Seattle, with a bunch of French people, while eating French food – and it was the most magical day ever. Best friend dates are the greatest, huh?


2. Booked hostel in San Francisco: Booked my hostel and I couldn’t be more excited. I was going to couchsurf while I was in San Francisco, but since I’m going on a holiday weekend there weren’t very many options for places to stay. Also, the hostel is only 10 min walk from the French Embassy, which will make getting to my appointment easy – yay! I still can’t believe I have to go all the way to San Francisco to apply, finger crossing and prayers are completely appreciated that all of my paperwork will go through seamlessly. Otherwise I’m going to be in a bit of a pickle…I’ve never understood where that phrase came from.

3. French tutoring: My French tutoring is no more. It really is the most tragic thing ever, because I really liked my French tutor. But now he’s gone back to Paris, so I have no one to help me. Commence weeping. That being said, I am DETERMINED to keep studying and practicing French so I don’t fall back into the chasm of ignorance before jumping on a plane to Europe.

4. Sending email to church in Paris: This is more of a “I need to do this” but it’s finally time for me to start sending out emails and stuff to people in France so I can get con-nect-ed. I don’t know why I said it like that.

5. Quit my j-o-b…my second job. I have been passing out most days from exhaustion, so it was time to say goodbye to job number two starting next week. There’s just too much work to be done getting ready to leave, and I really want to be able to focus on spending time with my family and friends during the last month and a half (holy shit!) that I’m here. I’m still going to be subbing at the Boys and Girls club through August, but no more 6am wake up calls. Thank the Lord.

5.5. French Kiss: I watched this movie and it is a true gem of the 1990’s: corny and fantastic. It has Meg Ryan in it, so of course it is perfect. If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely must.

It feels so good to be back writing, again!

(only 51 days until I leave! Eek!)


The Secret Life

Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

You can always tell if a person has traveled. Call it the Indiana Jones effect, but there is something different about the way travelers carry themselves: how they dress, how they walk and the way they interact with the world around them. Even if they never mentioned the places they’ve been to, you could still probably pick them out in a crowd.

Why is this? What happens when we travel from one place to another? Do we become different people, or merely more complete version of ourselves?

When I was backpacking around the UK, I remember walking past a mirror one morning, about a week into my trip, and thinking, “Who is that?” The person I saw was standing straighter and taller than I normally did. She wasn’t wearing any kind of makeup or jewelry, but she was glowing.

At that point in my trip, I thought I would have felt haggard from the varying effects of jet-lag, daily strapping a pack to my back and hopping around from place to place. But I was the complete opposite – I felt alive. I felt transcendental. I felt vivid, like a coloring page that had finally been colored in.

This morning I watched “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” for the first time and thought about what happens to us when we go beyond our borders (physical or mental) to travel the world.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. One of my favorite scenes is when the main character, Walter, is stopped by flight security and then “bailed” out by his eHarmony friend, Todd. At the beginning of the movie Walter has trouble writing anything for his online dating profile because he’s never “done anything.” But after getting back from traveling, something is different. When Todd sees him he says, “I pictured you as this little gray piece of paper, but now I see you and it’s like Indiana Jones decided to become the lead singer of The Strokes or something.” *

There is a physical difference in Walter, and Todd sees it. He’s not wearing a sign that says “TRAVELER”, just the essence of someone who has explored. Throughout the movie we see someone go from a man who daydreams about escaping his life, to someone present; someone who gains understanding, confidence and perspective.

There a few things I took away from watching this movie.

1. I truly believe we’ve all been Walter Mitty – whether it’s in our past, or in our present.

2. Just because that’s true, doesn’t mean we can’t change it.

3. “Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

4. The time is now. You didn’t miss it, and you shouldn’t be waiting for it.

5. How is Sean Penn still attractive at 53?

Watching this movie, there were so many points when I related. Years ago, I used to be Walter Mitty. I used to be scared of living life, or of taking any risks. I used to zone out a lot, daydreaming of adventures my life could have been, about traveling and finding ways to explore the world.

But something happened when I hit rock bottom – I started remembering how to climb. I stopped listening to people who told me I couldn’t do things. I started writing down dreams and then actually doing them. I started to risk. And I’ve never turned back.

Something happens when you travel. I don’t know that there’s a word for it, but the world leaves its mark on you. You’ll never be the same after you experience other people, cultures and environments. And you’ll never want to be.

While living under the illusion of safety can feel like we’re in control, the reality is that life is meant to be an adventure. For everyone that doesn’t mean the same thing, obviously, but if dreams of traveling are embedded in your heart, run after them.

Let’s live with eyes open a little wider, and purposes that reach a little higher. Adventures don’t always find us. Sometimes we have to go out and find them.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Comment Français A Volé Mon Coeur

Olympic torch, Canada

Picture a little girl. She turned nine years old last week and is simultaneously excited and bored to death with life. She wears her hair in multiple braids every day. She likes to make things and learn about new people, but mostly likes to watch the world around her, as though she is learning the moves to an intricate dance she hopes to perfect.

This little girl is a bit odd. For her 9th birthday she asked her mom to take her to Williamsburg so she could study colonial life in the 18th century. And, on the way there, her family made a stop in a little place called Quebec, Canada. Amidst the unreadable traffic signs and how beautiful all the people speaking sounded, it felt like heaven. The little girl is mesmerized and entranced. She thinks she’s walked into a storybook, and she doesn’t ever want to step out again.

Studies show that what you gravitate toward when you’re 7-9 years old is an early indicator to what you’ll be passionate about in your adult life. You might lose it during middle school, or hide it during high school. But, generally it comes back again and again, as though some kind of haunting presence.

This is what happened to me in third grade. The moment I heard someone speak French for the first time I was hooked. I couldn’t/can’t believe how beautiful it was/is! The language was like verbal painting, and I LOVE painting. The moment I got back to my own hometown I insisted that my mom put me in French lessons. I wanted to know everything. How to speak it, how to read it and how to move to France when I was older. My mom wasn’t on board with the last request, but she enrolled me in classes nonetheless.

French has always been something I’ve poured myself into, but has never seemed like “work” to me. It’s always been there, more or less like a hobby. Something I’ve gone back and forth to all the way through college. I don’t really talk about it. Most people are surprised when they find out I know any French at all. But, having the opportunity to now live in the very heart of what has captured my own, has brought it to the foreground again in my life.

This past week I started French tutoring, so I’ll have a solid foundation for when I actually move. I was going to wait to enroll in classes starting in April at the community college near my house, but decided, after looking at enrollment fees, that private tutoring was actually way cheaper and more one on one instruction. So now, I’ll be going once a week to meet up with my tutor.

One thing that is really surprising me is how much my mind has retained, although I haven’t spoken one word of French for almost five years. I’ll hear a word, or a phrase and think, “Wait…I know that…” It might take me a couple of minutes, or being reminded, but I think it’s all re-sticking pretty quickly. It kind of feels like I’m rediscovering my identity after having amnesia. And I’m not gonna lie – I love it.

That being said, here are

My goals for French: 

– 1 hour per day of practicing

– At least semi-fluent before I even get on the plane in August

– I’d love to be able to Skype with my au pair family while speaking French, instead of speaking English and have the parents translate to the kids

– Join some kind of group to meet other people in Seattle that speak French,

so I can speak with them (April/May)

– Start writing my blog posts in En Français and English so I can practice, but you guys can still read them

– Learn to flirt in French. That’s right – I said it.

A bientôt!

Me and Grandpa
Mini me when I was 9, and my grandpa