As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter is always a pretty rough road. Nothing cures my blues like a road trip to somewhere warm to visit with some of my best friends and soak up some sunshine. In January I drove the 17 hours to Gainesville, Florida solo and spent two weeks forgetting about winter. I stayed on a farm where some of my closest friends live and work. We packed up a week's worth of food and camping equipment for 7 people into three cars, loaded a canoe onto each car and drove to the Gulf. We canoed a few miles to an island that has been given the name "Treasure Island" by some friends and stayed there for 5 days. We fished, we cooked over a fire, we told stories, we laid on the beach, we lived each day side by side simply enjoying being alive. It was truly one of the best times of my life and saved me from sinking too deep into my lonely hibernation. It was hard to say goodbye, but I know I'll be back again soon enough. On my way home I broke up the long drive by visiting friends in the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia and drove up through the Great Smoky Mountains as well. January is not so bad after all.
Three days after returning to Kansas City from NYC and Maine I hit the road again with my partner for a two week trip up to Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The wild flowers of the Rocky Mountains are some of the most beautiful, I add to my collection every time I explore that region.
I have been slacking on my posting ever since my return from Europe, but not slacking on my traveling. A month after I got home I decided on a whim to buy a plane ticket back to NYC to see my friend Rebecca. I spent a week exploring the big apple on my own and we drove up state for a day to swim in a lake and hike. After NY we hit the road and headed up to Maine. We spent a few days in a primitive cabin in the woods on Deer Isle. With no electricity or water and no neighbors in sight, it was quite the adjustment from the week I had just spent in New York. The forest surrounding the cabin was full of wild raspberries, blueberries and a variety of mushrooms. We swam in several nearby lakes and spent a day canoeing in the ocean. After leaving Deer Isle we went to a folk show inside an old abandoned boxcar. We spent the rest of the week visiting a variety of friends of friends and enjoying the beautiful summer Maine weather.
After arriving in Paris my health very rapidly declined. I went from the sniffles to bronchitis fast and spent 6 days feeling miserable. However, I'm in Paris! So of course I fought my way through and tried to breath and saw what I could of this huge French city. Luckily I was staying with good old friends so I was able to rest some, spend time with people I love, and see some of my favorite bands too! One thing I love about Paris is the old subway advertisements that have been ripped down and overlapped and have become works of art on accident. I love the old architecture and the parks and the chocolate croissants. This city is so big you could ride the subway for hours and always end up in a new place. A week isn't enough, so I guess I'll just have to come back.
My second time visiting the small area of the Italian Riiera and it's still as magical as ever. Little colorful towns nestled in the cliff sides above the Mediterranean Sea surrounded by vineyards and lemon trees. Cinque Terre is a rich tourist haven yet a quiet beautiful hikers paradise as well. The food is delicious, the wine is abundant, and the people are friendly and beautiful.
In Marseille I realized how big the world was and how small it was all in the same week. Visiting the Notre Dame de Le Garde way up on a rock above the city and visiting les Calanques and its huge powerful white cliffs and bright blue water were both experiences of how vast and huge our beautiful planet is. The basilica in the Notre Dame was incredibly intricate and covered in gold. Little wooden boats hang from the ceiling and the walls are covered in paintings of ships. The Calanques were magical and peaceful yet powerful and demanding. One of the most amazing places I've seen in my life. Getting the chance to hike through the woods and the mountains in a totally new part of the world brought me so much joy.
In the same day I was able to see a friend from Rome who happened to be visiting my friends in Marseille AND I was able to go to a show my friends from Kansas City were playing too. The world is so big yet we find these pockets of humans to make "tribes" with and they can spread throughout multiple countries and cultures and generations. Friendships can be made within a matter of days and can last a lifetime.