Here we go…- EuroTrip2017

It’s been a while huh?

I guess I should probably start this blog post with an apology for anyone that I follow who follows me as well, you’ve probably experienced straight silence from me on all fronts for over a month now with nary a reason why. That being said, you can be sure i’m about to make up for both- be prepared for a multitude of likes/ comments on your posts if I follow you and also be on the look out for my own posts.

And what will I be posting about? Well, lets take a look shall we….

To give a (very) brief overview of the ambitious two week trip I took, let me give the destination breakdown: Dallas–> Edinburgh (by way of 3 flights via CDG, gods save me) –> Amsterdam (via Dublin)–>  Bavaria –> Salzburg (day trip) –>  Bavaria –>  Paris –> Dallas.

The trip included visits to Loch Lomond in Scotland, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, almost every castle built by Ludwig II in Germany, what feels like all the cathedrals in Salzburg, the gorgeous gardens of the Palace of Versailles and a nighttime stroll through some of the most enchanting parts of Paris. I met up with a friend in every country I visited and i’m gonna take this moment to both thank and apologize to each one profusely for putting up with my over-caffinated adventurous personality- Rob in Scotland, Dennis (and Elsa, if you’re reading this, you as well!) in Amsterdam, Julia in Germany and Rachid in France.

When I say that this was the most amazing trip i’ve ever taken while simultaneously being the most challenging, I hope you know thats a severe understatement. I have so many stories and photographs to share that i’m honestly not sure how long it’ll take me to get through it all but well, lets get started.

~m

p.s Yes these were all iPhone photos, i’ve yet to get the time to edit a single shot I took with my actual camera. Soon though!

Joshua Tree Sketches, Postcards and Travel Plans- Frisco, TX



First up- Travel Plans!

I’ve been a bit hush-hush about this since the end of March when I bought my plane ticket, partly because I had no idea where I was going and partly because I didn’t want to utterly jinx anything. But with less than a month left before wheels up and an actual workable itinerary on hand, I think it’s probably time to share the plans.

So back at the end of the last roadtrip taken to have adventures in Colorado , while we were waiting for the snow to stop falling enough to be able to actually leave CO and head home, a price alert came up on flights to Paris. And I remember sitting there on the couch in the living room of the cozy cabin we were staying at and deciding after two minuets of solid thinking, yes, i’m buying it. Did I particularly want to go to Paris? Not really, but I have a good friend there and Paris is an excellent gateway to the rest of Europe so that settled it for me and the ticket was snapped up.

Fast forward a good few months later and it’s July and I still didn’t have a single clue where I was actually going to go, never mind the fact that I had yet to apply for my Passport (I did have an expired one …but it was from when I was a minor and not valid for renewal, though it was valid to use a second ID somehow). And so last month consisted of me getting that ever so important task taken care of- shout out to that lovely lady at the passport office who waived the fee for my photo and who I believe is responsible for the near miraculous turn around time (considering I didn’t pay for expedited service)- and also figuring out my itinerary.

Two weeks was the allotted time I had to work with, and while I know plenty of people would choose to pick just one country and spend the whole time there, i’m that kind of person that loves to just exhaust myself trying to see as much as possible. With that being said, I did hold myself back from going too country-hopping happy.

The itinerary, as it is now (and trust me I wish I could say i’m 100% sure it’s not going to change anymore) is as follows:  leaving Dallas —> literally almost a full day of traveling –> Edinburgh, Scotland–> Amsterdam, The Netherlands–> Salzburg, Austria–> Bavaria, Germany —> Paris, France –> home to Dallas

More as to my actual plans in these places next month when I actually sit down and think through that part more, but at least for now, i’m glad to actually see the full scale of my travel ambitions written out and so close to coming true. This will by first time in Europe and to say i’ve dreamed of doing this for almost 10 years is only just a slight exaggeration.

Apart from setting down those plans, I finished up the Joshua Tree sketches I had mentioned wanting to do and also sent a bunch of postcards to a new penpal in Poland, as well as a couple to one in Germany that i’d really love to fill with enough wanderlust as to make her visit the USA for a roadtrip one day. It’s been a good end to the month and hopefully September brings more creativity, less storms and maybe some more interesting people to send postcards/snailmail to.

~m

p.s If you’ve been to any of the cities/places I mentioned above, feel free to leave me suggestions of places I should see in the comments, i’m very much still at odds as to what exactly i’m going to try and see or visit so it’ll be appreciated :)

 

Outtakes- 2017 Colorado Edition









As always, it takes me good while to get to the end of posting about a trip- between editing all the photos and just life in general, i’m actually pretty surprised it didn’t take longer. But, here we are! Two months from the end of the trip and i’m finally done and onto planning my next trip.

Getting the chance to explore these parts of Colorado more in depth was a perfect vacation and while I don’t see myself returning any time soon, I know i’ll be be back. Whether it’s to go hiking in Rocky Mountain NP, finally make it to Lake City, see the night sky at the Great Sand Dunes NP or just relax in the quiet of South Fork, Colorado is a state that holds too much not to be worth a visit for anyone with a sense of adventure.

All The Posts:
First Post, Overview
Rocky Mountain NP Pt1
Rocky Mountain NP Pt2
Caribou Ghost Town
Gem and Minerals at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Gem Carvings of Konovalenko at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Denver Museum of Nature and Science , Last Part
Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain NP
Garden of The GodsBachelor Loop, PT1
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Pt1
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pt2
Sunset at Great Sand Dunes National Park and PreserveBachelor Loop Pt2

I’m taking a break from writing any blog posts for the month of June to give myself time to focus back on neglected art projects, finish up the editing for the novel i’ve been writing, catch up with friends and above all, plan my next trip. I bought a ticket to Paris back at the end of March and i’ve yet to really settle on an itinerary (or get my passport in order) so hopefully by the time I get back on here, i’ll be able to share some kind of travel plan. Or beg for suggestions.

Either way, i’m wishing everyone a fantastic start to their summer and much luck in their adventures!

not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m

The Magnificence of the Wind- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, CO

I had wanted to come to this park for so long that by the time I visited it, it was almost like a dream. 

The first time I sat down with plans to visit the Great Sand Dunes NP, it was last June. I had been idly messing around in google maps, enlarging and then zooming into areas of interest around Texas, Colorado, Arkansas and Oklahoma and had spotted an area on the way to the San Juan Mountains that I hadn’t quite looked at before and upon closer inspection, led me to the point where I was ready to make the 14 hour drive from home out there by myself as soon as possible. This idea ended up being shelved and instead I headed to Big Bend NP (which to be honest, wasn’t the best idea either as it was the beginning of summer and I ended up almost dying out by an abandoned mine), though I still kept the idea tucked into my heart that I would make it out to see the dunes one day.

Fast forward more than half a year and another roadtrip later, and we finally found ourselves looking up up up at the gently swirling dunes. I’ve seen many a beautiful place, been privy to some spectacular scenery and have been to more places that took my breath away than I probably deserve but…

I know I say this a lot and perhaps after a certain point it almost becomes a given, but this park was well and truly something special, something magnificent that I can’t quite put into words. Maybe it’s because of the utterly unexpected nature of the environment- you’re walking past green bushes and across a cold stream to get to the dunes and then once there, you’re looking past them towards the tall snow capped mountains in the near distance, the smaller green mountains on the other side of the view no less lovely.  Or maybe it’s because I rarely visit parks with any preconceived notions or expectations (the one exception being Arches and perhaps thats why I didn’t enjoy my visit there half as much ) and with this one especially, what I got was more than I could have dreamed up in the first place.

The few people that remained by the time we made it out into the dunes were friendly but kept their distance, everyone very much in their own space, in their own world. It can be hard to see exactly how large the area is when you’re making your way in from the park entrance but when you’re out there, it’s like you’ve stepped into a whole other world. One where the sound of sand shifting and moving is a constant companion, where the wind whips and whistles fiercely (but never too harshly) and where each step is just a little more difficult than the last.

It was fun- just so incredibly fun, the kind you forget to have when you pass from childhood- to wander around the dunes without any real aim, crouching low to watch the ripples in the sand, and looking back to where you came from to watch your heavy footsteps slowly disappearing into nothing.  Time here passes strangely, one minute your heading towards the next rise of sand and the next you still haven’t quite made to where you were aiming for and the suns gotten much lower in the sky. You look around and people that you had seen at the tops of the dunes, their sunglasses glinting in the light and cameras covered in plastic bags, they’ve disappeared down the other side and you wonder what they’re going to find over there. You wonder if you should try and make it over as well, but then your legs are growing tired from constantly sinking and rising, sinking and rising and so you head back towards the shores of the cold creek that marks the border back to normal.

Visiting this park it’s an experience not to be missed, but above all, you really should try and stay for the sunset like we decided to. If you think things feel surreal now, wait till the sun sets.

~m

Point of No Return- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, CO









We made it to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve just a little after 1pm, a warm box from Pizza Hut resting on the bfs lap and my eyes fixed on the horizon. It was that kind of overcast afternoon where you can’t help wondering when those distant rain clouds are gonna overtake the sky and ruin your plans. It was a mildly chilly day, the sun dipping in and out of sight and we were shivering a little as we sat ourselves in the picnic area near the dunes to eat our lunch and plan out our afternoon.

Just driving up into the park had been an experience in and of itself, the whole area it’s own corner of nowhere in Colorado. It’s the kind of place you have to really aim to go to, you can’t  just find yourself there accidentally, and I think thats part of the charm. The crowds were minimal and they completely disappeared once we headed out on the unpaved road towards the Point of No Return (seriously, what have I said about national parks and their inclination towards dramatic names).

We had a good few hours to kill before the sun set and we wanted to wait a little before tackling the dunes themselves, so after eating lunch and getting caffeinated again, we decided to take the small hike up to the Dunes Overlook. It’s a fairly easy hike, just 2.3 miles (3.7 km) roundtrip and i’d definetly recommend it not only for the excellent view from up above the dunes but also for the beautiful views and scenery on the way up. Once you make it up to the overlook, you can either sit on one of the many convenient benches like the bf did to catch your breath, or you can be like me and run around all over exploring the many view points. We somehow lucked out and managed to get the overlook all to ourselves and I can honestly say it was with great reluctance that I eventually let myself be led back down.

Once we made it back to the car, I crossed the road to go check out the area just on the other side, where the Sand Pit is. The bf stayed in the car to clean his shoes out (lots o’ sand, obviously) while I trudged my way slowly over the small ridge, my camera slung heavy over my shoulder. The thing I most vividly remember, apart from the incredible view of the mountains with the sand dunes just off to the left, was the calm quiet. The wind whipped around me constantly, but never harshly, and the coolness of it was welcome on my warm face. I could feel the gritty sand in my boots as I stood there looking out at the landscape while surrounded by beautiful and unexpected vegetation and it felt more like a gift than anything else, a vivid constant reminder of where I was.

Eventually I replaced the lens cover on my camera and walked back to car, intent on making it out onto the dunes themselves.

~m