Crinkled Maps, High Hopes and Rain Clouds- Loch Lomond, Scotland

The day started earlier than I expected, at 5am. Jetlag sucks, but at least it helped me get an early start to the day, which included a brisk walk down into the center of Morningside (the district in Edinburgh my hotel was located in) to pick up some breakfast and grab pastries to bring along the planned roadtrip up to Loch Lomond. The day was already a bit rainy but I had hopes that maybe it would clear up as it went on. I also had hopes that I wouldn’t completely collapse on the side of some Scottish mountain while trying to keep up with someone who was much more accustomed to being out and about in the woods than me. Only one of these two would be fully realized (lets take a guess which one).

Fun side story: the week before I left for this trip, actually just 4 days beforehand, I endured a grueling hour long 3-person panel interview for a new position at work that I still wasn’t even sure if I actually wanted. The reason this is relevant is because I couldn’t help from worrying about hearing back about it, as I can be a tight-knit ball of stress sometimes that doesn’t know how to relax even when on vacation. I do honestly still feel bad that Rob had to deal with that while just trying to enjoy this mid morning hike up around Loch Lomond that we eventually decided on, but then again he’s been my friend for a good bit now and knows my personality can be a fun grab bag of both good and bad. 

The thing about this hike was, I didn’t realize till about a 3rd of the way- at the point where I needed to take a break every 15 minuets- that we would only be going straight up and the landscape wouldn’t level out till we started making out way back down. It was at this point that I decided to just gracefully bow out of further physical exertion and head back down to the lakeside to rest and de-stress. Though it would have perhaps have been more interesting for me (and this blogs readers) if Rob had followed me down and we had tried a different trail or continued exploring the area together, I urged him to finish the hike as he had been really excited to do it and I didn’t feel it was fair for him to miss out on the experience just because i’m a dumpster fire mess sometimes.

So after we parted ways, I took my time on the winding trail heading back down to the lake, photographing the beautiful landscape as it was laid out before me, the air so crisp and clean and scented with something I still can’t quite put my finger on. Green, wild and unknown. Eventually making it back down to the lake I spent the next two hours writing in my travel journal, talking to my boyfriend back home who helped me stop worrying about everything (the lost credit card, the potential job I was waiting to hear back from, the idea of meeting up with a bunch more people I had never met in real life and wondering if we would all get along, the stress of traveling through all new countries mostly by myself, ect) and by the time Rob made it back from the hike my head was clearer than it had been in weeks.

We headed back to Edinburgh to drop off the rental car, enjoying a leisurely drive that was full of more genuine conversation and laughter than had been there before and we wrapped up the day at The Worlds End pub complete with fish and chips, haggis and of course, surprisingly good warm beer.

The next day was another early start as I headed off to Amsterdam and though it wasn’t as quick or as easy as I had hoped (I missed my connecting flight and kept mistakenly buying sparkling drinks even though I hate sparkling drinks), eventually I made it to the city I had dreamed of visiting since I was 16 and all the struggles to get there were more than worth it.

~m

Coming up, Amsterdam (Walking tour around Amsterdam and the canals, the Rijksmuseum, Albert Cuyp market) and then Germany (Bavaria and King Ludwig II’s castles) and Austria (Salzburg).

Love, Trilobites and Postcards- Snailmail Wednesday

What do Norway, Germany, England and France all have in common? Well obviously plenty of things but if you guessed their respective mail services having to deal with deciphering my atrocious handwriting, then well….you’d be correct and you would also have to be a mind reader I think.

I took the last month off from posting anything on here to devote effort to other things and also to just give myself a little time off- it might not look it but a good bit of time and effort goes into these, mainly cause I firmly believe if you’re gonna do something, do it well (or are well as you can). Part of the “other things” I was doing was catching up with friends and my snail mail, making sure I was still set on heading to Europe for two weeks at the end of September and surviving the onset of the devils season in Texas (aka Summer).

Snailmailing is something that has been a love of mine since I was 17 and actually the biggest reason I got into traveling and being more curious about the world around me. Only a few of the people I met during that first foray into penpalling are still around and while i’ve learned how easy and subsequently painful it can be to lose touch with people you’ve grown close to through letters, it’s still a thing I enjoy greatly. If anything, snailmailing and having penpals I can send postcards to and exchange travel stories with still remains a big motivator for those days when I’m so tired from work and trying to plan an epic trip and all I can think of is “gods, I wish I could just take two weeks off to be a couch potato“. These days especially with how stressful work can be, knowing I have a friend in Germany who will recommend me some amazing places to visit or another in Paris who’ll help me feel like less of a tourist in one of the most visited cities on earth, it helps to keep the wanderlust alive.

And if sometimes I end up sending people a weird art piece, a pizza pin or a t-shirt with a Texas state outline on it in addition to something I picked up for them on my travels? Well, i’ve gotten no complaints so far.

not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m

SnailMail Wednesday- Glass Jars and Postcards

I try and get out there, travel as much as I can when I can and if you combine that with the type of personality that loves to hoard things of little to no value, you end up with a person who’s got a stash of postcards and travel trinkets that could rival a gift shop.

Thankfully though, for both my house storage capacity and my friendships, I love sending and sharing all the travel ephemera i’ve picked up. So sometimes when i’m writing to a friend who suffers from the occasional bout of wanderlust that I do, I might stuff 1 or 2 (or 10)  postcards into the box and send it on it’s merry way. And then add a magnet or keychain, maybe a cool rock or leaf. I like to think of myself as an intelligent, mature near-adult but when i’m sitting on my office floor surrounded by postcards and bits of tape stuck on my pjs, trying to decide what sea shell to send on the basis of which one seems prettier, I gotta admit I’ve probably still got years to go.

Its definitely worth it though, both when I’m reliving the memories of trips past and when I hear back from a friend who got inspired to visit somewhere I sent them a postcard from. 

(Fun fact- the place I have the least postcards from is actually my current home state, Texas.)

~m 

An Embossed Seal and A Gold Response- Snailmail Wednesday

I’ve been snailmailing for about oh….8 years now? Its something I used to do with fervent frequency, dashing out letters almost everyday to friends far and wide, some just a couple of counties away from mine back in California. These days though, i’m lucky if I get the time to write out one a month.

Thats not necessarily a bad thing though. Before I might have had more time to devote to spilling out words on page after page and flinging them thoughtlessly halfway across the globe to anyone friendly enough, but these days my time is constrained to the point where I only devote the effort on people who mean enough for me to craft responses with more care and deliberation. Theres something about putting pen to paper that slows down your thoughts, presses them onto the pages with care and finding people who enjoy doing that as much as you do and getting to know them through this medium can be one of the loveliest experiences.

This particular letter was actually crafted and sent on it’s way months ago but I hadn’t had a chance to share it till now, given all the travel posts I’d been doing. A good friend from the UK had mailed his first letter to me after months of sharing words online and it was eloquent and very lovely. For my response, I decided to shove eloquence to the side and burst forth with paper and what ended up being almost it’s own kind of art piece. While the years might have taught me restraint with words, apparently I still have no chill when it comes to paper and all you can do with it. But considering i’m just finishing up another letter to send out to him this week, thats probably not such a bad thing, all things considered.

~m

What Is to Give Light Must Endure Burning- Overspill of Inspiration, Texas

Perhaps its not always true, the title of this post. Maybe there are people out there who can shine shine shine without ever burning up, they just exude brilliance in their every waking moment and it’s effortless. But i’m neither effortless nor brilliant so, when I shine even just a glimmer, I burn like i’ve got a trail of gasoline tied to my feet.

Usually the trail burns slowly (or it’s a rather long one) and I can keep the glimmer up for a good bit before it’s all burned out and I need to go find matches to light up once more. And in general it wouldn’t be so terrible,this habit of burning up and out I have, if the expectation wasn’t there to continuously keep going, to illuminate always and forever.

But it is, and not just from myself (though heavens knows the pressures I put on myself to never make a mistake in literally anything I do is a bit of a doozy all on it’s own). Anyways, where am I going with this? Basically after the end of the last series of posts I did, I was meant to go on another roadtrip this past weekend, to Colorado this time. But my burning hot trail of energy finally curled in on itself and died and so the trip was put aside and instead I used the long weekend to get myself back together again. And so the reason for this is with regard to the new followers I gained while posting on those last adventures. I have upcoming travel plans, for sure’s, but there’s also a whole mess of art nonsense I post and sometimes the energy I fire it up with is more like embers at the end of a winters fire than a sun’s passion. So this is my cordial heads up.

Now, on those upcoming travels I mentioned….

End of June- road trip down to Marfa, TX to explore the weird lights, interesting art installations, wander around Big Bend Natl. Park and take a peek at the ghost town of Terlingua

October- weeklong trip to NYC (with a day trip planned in here somewhere to explore Boston a bit)  to just soak myself in all the museums that i’ve never really gotten a chance to explore all the other times i’ve visited, as well as satisfy my craving for actual Fall colors in nature.

More small travels will happen between those two, but for now they are the ones that consume my plans.

Songs on Repeat :

Time LapseLudovico Einaudi
First StepHans Zimmer
Ba BaSigur Rós
At The Ivy GateBrian Crain
Devils BackboneThe Civil Wars
Wendell WalkerAndy Shauf
Concrete WallZee Avi
NiobeCaribou

not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m