I

Iowa is not a state that comes to mind as a top travel destination in America. Generally, we think about California, Florida, New York, Texas, Colorado…way before we even think about states like Iowa or West Virginia.

To be honest these states don’t have a lot in them. If you are one of those people like me who cross off each state you visit (and by visit I define it as doing something/eating somewhere local, driving through doesn’t count in my book) then like me you probably have hit most of the cool popular ones and like me you probably have a lot of the state’s left that it feels like no one has a reason to go to (I’ve got 20 left!).

But I’ve been to both Iowa and West Virginia. Two states I would never imagine myself wanting to pay to visit, but thanks to my job in college travelling with the football team I got to cross them off.

Not to put down the state of Iowa, which gave us Betty White and sliced bread, or West Virginia, which has some of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen in the fall, but there isn’t much going on.

But I have a few really fond memories of those places, and they are largely due to my coworkers.

In Iowa, we got an Uber and got a Santa Claus grandpa who was super cool and chill. We also rode a mechanical bull and played water pong (like beer pong but you know with water). And even crazier I filmed in the same room as a guy who a few years later I would be out drinking with in Alabama because we have a mutual friend.

DT Iowa w Marc and Carly

In West Virginia along with the most comfortable beds at the Sheraton, we thought we saw prostitutes on the corner of a street but it turned out they were just really skimpy dressed girls waiting for a ride, it became an inside joke.

What I’m most grateful for about those trips is that not only did I get to cross off two states off my list, I came out of it with really good memories!

Let me know what states y’all have visited that you thought were super lame but have great memories in the comments below!

 

E

East of Eden, to simply put it, is a long damn book. It wasn’t one I read in a single sitting like Of Mice and Men or Tortilla Flat, but one that I read as fast as my eyes would let me.

I picked up the worn copy my dad had given me, the front paperback cover had all but fallen off, the pages felt used beneath my hands and I read the opening line. It wasn’t an overly impressive opening line, all Steinbeck was talking about was topography.

It’s strange to me how I cannot recall the time I read any other works of John Stienbeck, Of Mice and Men being the first. I know the stories and I’ve probably read at the least five of his novels with many more awaiting me.

But I do remember it being late in February of 2016. I had been dumped, that’s another story for another time, and I was feeling unaccomplsihed with myself. I was down about life and needing a win. So what better way then to hunker down with an epic?

I told myself if I could just sit down and finish the book then my life would back into place. Things would just make sense again.

It’s kinda ridiculous to think a book could make the world turn right again. But it did.

It all boils down to one word: Timshel.

Personally I don’t speak Hebrew and I cannot read it. My grandfather is the only person I know who can translate Hebrew. I’ll save you all sometime form having to track him down or find your own expert and go ahead and tell you what it means in english.

Thou mayest. The word Timshel is all about the ability to choose and the ability to triumph. Or at least that’s what the book says. Maybe my grandfather could give me a more intellectual understanding one day?

And while I’m probably straying a little of course with the book, I’m going to relate it back to the time I felt that if only I could make it through that book that my world would make sense.

I finished the book, the worn paperback cover had fallen off, and the used pages had soaked into my finger prints and I cried.

I understood why I was so drawn to that book, I have the ability to choose how I handle the hurt, the feelings of betrayal, and my life being turned upside down. I have the ability to triumph over the past and come out a better me.

Today I leave you with one word of advice to carry with you, Timshel.

Pictured: Me at the John Steinbeck museum. 6 weeks before I read East of Eden.

Guns In America

This will be a controversial post, so if you do continue to read then all I ask is that you try and keep an open mind, clear eyes, and remember to clean out your ears and focus on what is being said.

I am neither pro-guns or anti-guns. I can understand on both sides why parts of the arguments work. Recently on Facebook, I came across a video of Congresswoman Kathrine Clark apologizing to future shooting victims. And it really got my brain turning.

Video is on my Facebook page (you can access it on the right side of the page under my Instagram photos)

The video was obviously biased in the sense that she was calling for gun control. But a few points struck me as interesting. Towards the end of the video, she apologized to each future victim by saying that she was sorry that Congress wouldn’t do anything for them but say there thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families left devastated. That kind of made me angry, as I’m sure it would make you.

Why has it become so common place that all we can expect from people who have been elected to put us, the American people,first to do nothing?

I feel frustrated and confused. What if it was me next? I would want the person who so senselessly took my life to pay for it.

I would want my grieving mother and father to know that someone is doing something to make sure that this never happens again.

I would want my little brother to know that I would have been the best aunt to his kids one day if I only I could have gotten the chance.

I would want my best friend to know that I wish I could be with her to lounge in the pool and drink cocktails on a hot summer day.

If all of that could be taken away from me, or you, then why would are we putting lives at risk?

***

Yet on the flip side if I was walking from my car to my front door late at night and someone tried to sexually assault me and a gun could help prevent that then I’m in, on average 200,000 women use a gun to prevent sexual assault a year. Cause you know Congress isn’t doing much about that either.

60% of polled robbers said they wouldn’t try to rob someone if that person also had a gun on them.

If I could use a gun to save my life, get to hug my parents one more time, one day become the best aunt to my brothers kids, and drink summer cocktails in the pool with my best friend then I am all in to have the right to own a gun.

Link to where I got my info is at bottom of post. And I encourage you to research both sides further.

***

I think like most people a lot of my confusion and frustration comes from not knowing. I have never learned how to shoot a gun, I have a little knowledge about gun safety, and I have never had a loaded one pointed at me facing the very real possibility of death.

***

When I was a young child I lived on an Island in southeast Asia called Sri Lanka. One thing that has always stuck with me is the image of armed soldiers on the street holding guns.

A judge a few doors down from our house was killed.

A man came into our house late at night and tried to rob us, my mom need up following him out of the house.

Was I safer living in a country where I couldn’t get a gun? Am I safer living in a country where I can get a gun?

 

Sources: http://americangunfacts.com

A

Snapchat-1456694201

Apple Martinis in Bowling Green for my first drink of the day. And by drink, I mean something that wasn’t coming to me in a shot glass. It was my last birthday in College and I had spent the early morning hours taking shots in Denton before briefly sleeping it off to fly to Kentucky for work. I remember almost every part of that day, I was awake for all but about four hours of it.

The calmest part of drinking that day was spent at the Montana Grille, I know we probably should have eaten at some place that was more Kentucky like but y’all this place had some amazing food and an atmosphere to match. I spent that brief period of time with two of my favorite people to travel with. You see I made the guys come out with me on every road trip to eat at a cool place, nothing that we could find back in our local area, which always prompted for interesting nights.

I spent my 22nd birthday with a lot of different people and every moment of it was a blast, resulting in it being my favorite birthday yet. The meal was a moment spent laughing over drinks and good food with friends, a moment in time that made spending my birthday night in a different state a treat. My first drink of the day was more than just a drink, it was a moment I spent celebrating a special part of college and realizing that even though my job as a videographer would end my memories of the people I met and the experiences we shared would remain beautiful to look back upon. With an apple martini in my hand we kicked off the start to a night filled with laughter.

 

I Love You Josh Gates

Fair warning y’all this is me about to fangirl in the post below.

I love you Josh Gates, or really I am in love with your TV shows. You can find him on the travel channel, but don’t worry y’all he is actually one of the good ones to watch.

If you are like me then you absolutely cannot stand those reality TV shows that start off with a host or a team of people who promise to search for and give the answers to mysteries and then literally find nothing. I just literally wasted an hour of my time watching you tell me nothing. I was completely turned off from watching reality TV shows for a long time until one night my mom asked me to hang out with her and over a glass of wine, she introduced me to Josh. And I was hooked. Anytime I watch TV with her now she knows not to even ask what I would like to watch, she just turns on Josh and I’m rooted into my seat.

A few of the reasons I love Josh Gates is that he actually goes out and does all the crazy stuff, like diving in the pitch black night in murky shark infested waters to bring you answers, or hunting down legends deep into caves with leeches in the dead night, or hunting down ghosts into old ruins even when things get a little scary. I have seen him jump from a helicopter into the water, seen team members run into the water to try and get a better shot of something they see out in the distance, and seen them run into rickety structures because they heard a noise. The show is packed with nonstop exciting adventure that will keep your eyes glued.

If you’re not sold yet, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, then let me tell you about his personality. His commentary alone always brings a little extra chuckle to the show, his team will sometimes act out famous movies scenes when they arrive in a place, they almost always show you how the team interacts with the locals and the funny situations they get into (like standing with no pants on the street or a getting a local facial hair trim), the chemistry that the crew has on screen is amazing and another reason to stay seated. Or when its just Josh alone he can stand his own, making it a one-man show that keeps you entrained.

But the best part is they actually make a decision on what they found. He tells you, yes I think there is something more here and here is why. Or he tells you no, here is why I don’t think there is anything more here and it’s just a legend. The show even goes the extra step to bring in experts to help explain and justify what Josh is telling us! I feel like I spent an hour being entertained and excited, not let down. And with very busy life schedules we only have a limited amount of time to unwind.

If you are like me and tired of the boring old TV shows that build you up high and then let you down plummeting off a cliff at the end, then check out Expedition Unknown and Destination Truth. You will not regret it.

Sin Azúcar?

As an international traveler, I have noticed that we Americans are really obsessed with sugar. We put it in everything, even things that are already naturally sweet.

I was just another sugar blinded American until a few years ago when my mom read and shared an article about sugar with me. I came to find out that women should only be consuming about 24 grams of sugar per day.

So lets say you woke up had a yogurt, for lunch ate a peanut butter sandwich and had a soda, had a cookie before working, chugged down a Powerade post workout. What would that look like? 86 grams of sugar at least! That is 3.5 times what a woman should be eating and you haven’t even had dinner yet.

  1. 12 oz can of Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar,
  2. 1 Chips Ahoy cookie has 4 grams of sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons of Jif peanut butter has 3 grams of sugar
  4. 6 oz Yoplait Original has 26 grams of sugar
  5. 8 oz of Powerade Mountain Blast has 14 grams of sugar

Those 24 grams add up so freaking fast. I don’t know why it still shocks me when I travel how little sugar most other countries have in their drinks. While in Costa Rica we discovered this delicious sweet brand, Dos Pinos, and we bought 3 of them

Now I have a little bit of math coming up so if you don’t follow numbers well skip the next two paragraphs.

I was a little afraid to flip the box over and read the sugar content on the back. But to my disbelief, each box slapped me in the face with a low sugar content. Two of the kinds we tried was 1. Té Blanco per 500 ml 24 grams of sugar, 2. Té Rojo per 500 ml 13 grams of sugar. For those of you need it, 30 ml is about 1oz.

How does a 12 oz glass compare to a 12 oz can of coke? In Té Blanco in about 12 oz it has 17 grams of sugar and Té Rojo in about 12 oz it has 9 grams of sugar.

To sum it up a regular can of coke compares to a local Costa Rican drink as 2-4 times as much sugar.

Why are we Americans so sugar obsessed? We sugar load everything we eat. And why wouldn’t we, sugar makes us feel fantastic! Sadly it’s a short-term gain for a long-term health loss. Our microwave generation has come to expect quick gratification and the natural beauty of foods has been lost.

We should take a page from other countries books and learn to enjoy the natural flavors a little bit more. And save our sugar intake for the things that matter like wine!

Massages In The Morning

Good morning from Costa Rica, where it is actually closer to noon, but I feel so relaxed that I don’t care what time of day it is. Let me set the stage for you: A beautiful tropical house that sits up in the mountains looking down into a cove that stretches out into the ocean, two very talented masseurs are waiting for you to lay down and with their hands relax you into a trance that can only be accompanied by the sounds of birds and a light breeze that cools the warm morning air. And it is perfection.

While I wish this could be my everyday morning ritual, I know that sadly in a few days I will have to go back to reality. I will have to leave warm inviting Central America and travel back to chilly North America.

Costa Rica, so far, has been a warm welcoming adventure. Filled with relaxation and friendly locals. Besides renting a house and getting massages on the back porch in the morning, I have a few a more tips for you from my trip.

  1. You must get the ceviche. It is beyond amazing. You can taste the lime against the fish, paired with the onions, fresh tomatoes, and the cilantro, it will have you wanting to soak up every last drop with the amazing crackers accompanying the dish.
  2. Seafood, mariscos en Español, is a must. Carne (beef) and Pollo (chicken) are also good choices. But when you are this close to the ocean eat the actual fresh fish! They serve it so seared, grilled, in garlic sauce (I recommend), blackened, in rice…
  3. You can get by with a little Spanish. We really were gearing up to be able to fumble our way through conversations, but so far everywhere we have gone someone or everyone speaks enough English to get by.
  4. If you have never travelled outside of the country then Costa Rica is a good choice to look into. You can find a lot of common American food brands in the grocery store. Like Dr. Pepper, and Y’all that is a rare thing. When I lived in Southeast Asia as a kid you could sometimes on a rare day find a can of that sweet Dr. Pepper for about 10 USD! So if they have Dr. Pepper then I bet you can imagine all the other stuff they have (Cheetos, Coke, Jones Soda, Prego, M&M, Oreos…).
  5. Pineapple which I, of course, didn’t eat but by the other six people in my group it was apparently delicious. The Pina Coladas everywhere we went, also by definition of my group, where tropically delicious and easy to drink (which can be dangerous!).
  6. If flying into Liberia, before you clear customs stop in the liquor store and pick up a few cheap bottles. The prices in Colón are not easy to translate on the spot and it may look like a good deal in the store but back in the states its way cheaper.

And as of right now I am way too relaxed to keep typing so look for more to come in a later post! Adiós mis amigos!