travel

5 DAYS IN HAWAI’I

Hello, my dear readers!

Now that we are done with the two-week poetry series, I am excited to share some other content with you guys. As you know, this blog is devoted to various topics, including writing, philosophy, and travel. Since it has been a while since we’ve done a travel post, I thought it would be perfect timing to share with you guys a recent trip of mine… To the Big Island of Hawai’i!

This was my first time to Hawai’i, and I have to say it was one for the books. I encourage you all to check out Hawai’i at some point, because it is a nature lover’s dream. (Really it is anyone’s dream. There is so much to do!)

Therefore I’d like to share some things I got the chance to do, and maybe this will sell you on your next vacation. 🙂

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A sweet Pomeranian named Precious, a friendly Hawaiian pooch. (HāwÄ«, Hawai’i // July 2019)

DAY 1

Stops: North Kohala Coast, Waimea
Activities: Intro to local area, shops, etc.

After arriving in the small town of Kona on the Big Island, my family quickly hopped in our rental Jeep and headed north to the Kohala Coast. We stayed at a quaint cabin called the Kohala Lodge. Gorgeous view, idyllic, pastoral scene–it was a perfect way to start out a vacation (and throw in goats and ponies down the hill!).

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Kohala Lodge, a premier cabin in Hāwī, Hawaii (July 2019)

After check in, we took a trek to Waimea, a small town nestled between green mountains and a Nevada-looking desert scene. I wish I had a good picture of the drive between Hāwī and Waimea, but unfortunately I do not. Just trust me, and imagine rolling hills with mountain and ocean backdrops!


DAY 2

Stops: Mauna Loa, Hilo
Activities: Encounter Mauna Kea protestors; travel Mauna Loa to its tip; visit Hilo, largest “city” on island

Day 2 was an opportunity to explore more of the island! We got up early, headed to the center of the island, and wondered if we were going to drive straight through an environmental protest… And we did.

Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain (taller than even Mt. Everest, when you look at its oceanic base), is a sacred mountaintop to many Hawaiians. In the meantime, the company TMT wishes to replace a collection of telescopes on the tip top of Mauna Kea with a new, state-of-the-art telescope that could potentially pollute natural waters for the residents.

Hawaiians are very divided on this issue. On one hand, environmentalists wish to preserve the beauty and integrity of Mauna Kea; on the other, the telescope would bring endless opportunity for astronomers. The telescope’s construction would also provide economic opportunity for the island.

Whatever your position on this issue may be, my family and I just wanted to avoid a roadblock in the middle of this desert landscape. And we ended up driving straight through the protest, passing hundreds of people on a mission to block the telescope’s construction.

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My sister and I being dorks on the road to Mauna Loa (not pictured). What is pictured, however, is Mauna Kea behind us, the tallest mountain in the world. If you look close enough, you can see hundreds of cars in the background due to an environmental protest. (Mauna Loa // July 2019)

Instead we decided to traverse Mauna Loa, the world’s biggest mountain (not tallest!). After going up 11,000 feet we were tired, hungry for oxygen, and descended into the lusher area of Hilo, about an hour to the east.

We did not stay in Hilo very long, though the weather was pretty nice, despite Hilo’s status as the fourth-rainiest American town. We visited Rainbow Falls and headed north after lunch at none other than Taco Bell (blech!) to see Akaka Falls (pictured below).

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Akaka Falls (A short drive from Hilo)

After a quick stop at Akaka Falls, I found an abandoned airstrip on Google Maps. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a baby pilot who loves aviation quite a bit, and I made us head up an old road once used for the production of sugar cane.

We were probably pretty dumb doing this, but it was a lot of fun, especially when we got to the end of the road and realized we were already driving on the overgrown runway. Who knows the history of Waipunalei Airstrip, because I couldn’t find anything online, and I highly doubt many people today know of its existence. That’s why it was shocking to find it on Google Maps.

Whatever the case, it was a highlight of my trip: An abandoned airstrip with a lot of buried history.

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An abandoned road that leads to the eerie and also abandoned Waipunalei Airstrip (North of Hilo)

DAY 3

Stops: Kona, Captain Cook
Activities: Snorkeling Adventure, Captain Cook Monument, The Painted Church

Kona is located on the leeward side of the island, and it’s a town of about 12,000 people. Though we did not spend much time in Kona itself (a quick lunch at Denny’s and a stop at Walmart for supplies), we were much more invested in a snorkeling excursion in a little town to the south called Captain Cook.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of this activity, despite it being my favorite part of the entire trip, due to the fact that I didn’t want to lose my phone in the kayaking portion of the journey. However, you’ll just have to imagine brilliant blue water and a whole lot of tourists swimming about as kayakers push against the shore to see the Captain Cook monument. (Captain James Cook was a famous explorer who was killed by Hawaiians in this namesake town.)

This experience was made even better by our friendly tour guide, Lalu, a local who showed us the best places to snorkel while giving us a little history of the area and its ties to Captain Cook’s ultimate demise.

After the three mile roundtrip kayak experience, we headed back to our car, changed clothes, and stopped at The Painted Church, a Catholic church about ten minutes from our kayak point. The Painted Church is well-known due to its painted interior, as the first priests who journeyed to Hawai’i explained biblical stories to locals through paintings on the church’s walls.

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(The Painted Church // South Kona, Hawai’i)
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Cemetery at The Painted Church (South Kona Hawai’i)

 


DAY 4

Stops: North Kohala Coast, Waikoloa Village
Activities: Sunrise Hike, Zipline Adventures, Luau at Marriott

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Sunrise hike at Polulu Valley (North Kohala Coast)

My dad and I are fans of hiking, while my mom and sister are not. So when we suggested getting up at five to catch this ideal spot, my mom and sister laughed at us, and we went anyway.

The forty-five minute roundtrip hike spans incredible views of the Polulu Valley and coastline. Polulu is located at the very end of a main road on the Kohala Coast, so not many people were around–especially at the ungodly hour of sunrise. (Although we did run into a weird woman who was possibly worshipping a plant.)

The hike was stunningly beautiful, and a perfect reminder that sometimes you’ve just gotta bite the bullet, set your alarm, and run down a mountain in the darkness to wait for the perfect sunrise.

After our hike, we headed home, showered, and got prepped for a zipline activity in the nearby town of Kapaau. It was an incredible experience to zip through hundred-foot trees, but after so many activities I was quite ready for a nap by the end of our adventures (see the image below).

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Kohala Zipline Activity, and an eager Katie Kay (HāwÄ«, Hawai’i)

Post zipline, we showered once more and then headed to the resort town of Waikoloa Village in order to catch a sunset luau. This was my mom’s favorite experience of the entire trip, as it was a chance to listen to traditional Hawaiian music and see the hula and other Polynesian dances.

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Beautiful sunset luau at Marriott Waikoloa Village

DAY 5

Stops: Volcanoes National Park, Black Sands, South Kona
Activities: Quick hikes, Pu’uhonua O HĂ”naunau National Park

Our last day on the island was a packed one. While we were staying on the Big Island’s North Coast, Volcanoes National Park is located on the opposite side of the island, roughly a two-hour drive away. Plus it was a foggy and rainy morning, which you can see in the pictures below.

That didn’t stop us from making the journey down to Volcanoes. There are no current lava flows (thank goodness, and hopefully everyone has recovered from the volcano issues from a few years ago), but there are various pockets of steam located throughout the park. We also journeyed to the crater of a volcano (although we stayed at the rim). If you look close enough at the picture below, you can see that there are trails in the middle of this crater, and people are walking in it! I was not that brave, to say the least.

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Creepy sight at Volcanoes National Park

After an hour at the park, which is not enough time, we had to hurry down to Black Sands, about a twenty minute drive away. This is a black sand beach that is pretty peaceful. Since we were in a time crunch, we could not stay long, but I’m thankful for the time I got there.

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Black Sands (Southern tip of the island)
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Pu’uhonua O HĂ”naunau National Park (South Kona)

After Black Sands, we headed to Pu’uhonua O HĂ”naunau National Park in order to learn more about Hawaiian culture. Pu’uhonua O HĂ”naunau is located on sacred grounds, and it was very important to take a few moments to educate ourselves on traditions of the area.

While the other parts of the island were quite chilly in the fog and rain, Pu’uhonua O HĂ”naunau National Park was humid and hot–too much like home for my liking.

After our stop there, we hurried back to the north, grabbed some dinner, and started packing for our ten-hour return trip, which was a beast of its own, as you can imagine. 🙂


PLEASE GO SEE THE ISLAND YOURSELF.

Hawai’i is an incredible place. It’s laid-back island living, and it would be so easy to get lost there for ages. That being said, I’m a pretty fast-paced person, and I found myself wanting to hop on a plane and go see the other islands that comprise this great state.

While the aforementioned stops were what my family did on our trip, I’m sure there are countless more places we missed. The island is an island, but its diversity is incredible. Where else can one drive through a desert to a tropical rainforest in an hour or less?

Go check out Hawai’i. Maybe I’ll see you there someday. 🙂

As for now, I’m back at home in the throes of studies. But do you want my honest opinion? Really there is no place like home, especially after a long vacation away.

You guys are amazing.

-K. ❀

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Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park (North of Hilo)
travel

HEADING HOME: 3 STOPS ALONG THE WAY

It’s that time again, my wonderful readers!

Today’s blog post is going to focus on travel, as some of you really enjoy these sorts of posts from me. As some of you know, my dad and I made the drive from California to Tennessee recently, and we had the incredible chance to stop at a few places that must be highlighted. These three destinations are places you should definitely check out if you can.


1. BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK — SOUTHERN UTAH, USA

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Thirty minutes outside Bryce. Incredible! (Hutch, Utah // April 2019)

Bryce Canyon National Park is incredible, and it was our favorite stop on the trip. Located four hours northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, Bryce Canyon is famous for its red, orange, and white hoodoos. What the heck is a hoodoo, you may ask? A hoodoo a thin pillar of rock that protrudes upward. Hoodoos are formed through frost weathering and stream erosion. So Bryce Canyon is a sort of misnomer, as the national park is not a canyon at all.

Utah is one of the most beautiful states in the USA, in my opinion, and the people are super friendly too. While Bryce is a sort of famous national park, it is not as well-known due to its close proximity to Zion National Park. Therefore, if you want a beautiful, less-crowded alternative to Zion, Bryce is definitely your choice!

And a picture is worth a thousand words in this case. For sure.

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Bryce Canyon National Park (April 2019)

2. ARCHES NATIONAL PARK — EASTERN UTAH

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Arches National Park (April 2019)

While I had very high hopes for Arches, it was honestly not what I was expecting. About two hours from Grand Junction, Colorado, and four hours from Bryce, Arches is another testament to how beautiful the United States is. However, my dad and I thought we’d see arches at every turn in this park, and we saw very few. So if you go, just understand that you will see some gorgeous vistas, but the arches are few and far between.

There was a wonderful spring storm that came out of nowhere while we were hiking, and that was a fun moment, because we had to choose whether or not to keep hiking or die in the rain. (We chose the safety of my car, naturally.)

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The first arch we saw at Arches National Park (April 2019)

3. PIKES PEAK — THE ROCKIES, COLORADO

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The view at Pikes Peak’s summit (April 2019)

 

Pikes Peak is a staple of my dad’s childhood, and we were both super excited to visit! About thirty minutes from Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak is America’s Mountain, and anybody can see why. The mountain stands at 14,115 feet and is the inspiration of the famous song “America the Beautiful.”

Today Pikes Peak is known for its nineteen mile road that reaches the summit. This incredible engineering feat allows anyone who can handle the altitude to travel up the fourteener in the comfort of one’s own car. (Of course, you must be careful with who’s driving your car, as my dad got quite nervous with the drive to the top. There are few guardrails, so beware if you have issues with height.) This road is perfect to observe dramatic cliff faces, snowy mountainsides, and other humans as they try not to freak out going up and down the mountain.

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I love this picture because my dad looks like Bigfoot (Pikes Peak // April 2019)

One thing to consider is altitude sickness. As we drove up, my dad and I were both keenly aware of the possibility of hypoxia, which is the lack of oxygen in the blood due to thin air. Pilots sometimes suffer hypoxia without supplemental oxygen, and so my dad and I were quizzing each other on possible symptoms (such as headaches, blue lips and fingernails, drowsiness, etc). There was no doubt that at the summit we were both somewhat delirious, and we barely stayed five minutes.

However, the drive down was incredible, and pictures don’t do the view justice. The big takeaway for the both of us, though, was that there is nothing like a good gulp of fresh air (and not at the top of a mountain).

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Narrow mountain roads, no guardrails (Pikes Peak // April 2019)

WOO.

Our thousand and a half mile journey was one for the books. Though we loved our trip and having the chance to see these great places, there is nothing like home, and that’s the biggest thing to remember. When we have the opportunity to visit new places, we cannot forget the places that came before, as we are all blessed with hometowns and home bases.

Think of your own home, and remember to treasure it as much as you can. We are never certain how long we will have on our one-of-a-kind planet. ❀

Until next time,

-K.

travel

TOP 3 CALIFORNIA STOPS

Hello my dear readers!

Today we’re going to mix it up a little bit and hit the road. What is the destination of choice, you may ask? We’re going to California.

Some of you may have been to California, and others have no idea where it is, except that it’s a big poppa state in the U.S. California has many things associated with it: Exorbitant prices, Hollywood, hippies, the Pacific Coast, an influx of cultures, redwood trees, the Golden Gate Bridge, and many more. While these associations are very much in accordance with the state, I want to highlight my three favorite places within California’s borders so that we can both go on a little road trip of sorts.

Without further ado, let’s get going.


3. MALIBU

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Malibu, CA (August 2015)

What a beautiful seaside hamlet stuffed with Hollywood stars, college students, and surfers. Malibu is a town that I both love and dislike, but it had to make the Top 5 list because it is an incredibly beautiful town nestled between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Malibu is a twenty-seven mile long town of about 15,000 people. It’s a beach town pretty much year-round, with spectacular surfers’ coves, hidden canyons, and hikes for all people. It isn’t too far from the wild metropolis of Los Angeles (depending on traffic, that is).

Malibu has withstood countless wildfires, including the Woolsey Fire of 2018, and its community has only grown stronger as a result.

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Malibu, CA (January 2017)

2. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Environmentalists, where you at?

With ties to President Theodore Roosevelt and Scottish-American environmentalist John Muir, Yosemite is a testament to the National Parks Service here in the United States. It is the largest park and is known for its incredible beauty within the Sierra Nevadas of Central California.

Last October I had the incredible opportunity to visit Yosemite, though it was only for twelve hours or so. That being said, I fell in love with this place. While I have already written a blog post on this, that you can check out here, I do believe that a place like Yosemite is a God-given place designed as a living, breathing testament of the beauty of our world.

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Yosemite National Park (October 2018)

1. DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

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Death Valley National Park (August 2016)

Death Valley is one of my favorite places in the world. Though I’d grown up hearing of it as being the hottest, driest, and lowest point in the continental United States, I wasn’t super excited to trek on over to this particular spot.

My dad and I were driving to California from Tennessee, and this was one of the last stops on our tour of the Southwest. We’d seen so many incredible places, such as Zion, the Grand Canyon, and more, and we were ready to be in civilization again. We’d spent the morning bustling out of Las Vegas and whizzing past Area 51, because we wanted to see Death Valley and then get on down the road to Los Angeles.

(A quick little tangent. I think this exemplifies the problem with our society today. When we rush to things, we miss out on the most incredible aspects of the planet around us.)

When we got to Death Valley, it was late morning, and temperatures were already reaching 115° F (about 46° C). Though we’d come in late August, which is probably not the best time to go to the hottest place in my country, I was still impressed by the heat. We drove on through the back gate, passed some test cars using the national park as their playground, and felt like we’d landed in Mars.

When I say that Death Valley is an extraterrestrial place, it really is. There is something about standing on a green, lush mountaintop that reminds a person of fertility and life in general; Death Valley is unlike this image. In the daytime it feels as if life isn’t possible at all in the rugged landscape. There are incredible sand dunes and salt flats with mysterious moving rocks (I’m not sure if scientists ever figured out how these rocks move, but it’s a cool science fun fact). The mountains are harsh and rocky, and you can drive hours through the park and still not reach the other side.

But when night comes alive, biodiversity is proven to exist in a Mars-like expanse like Death Valley National Park. While my dad and I did not stay for nighttime, we were impressed by how a place can seem so deadly yet still so fragile and protective of its nocturnal inhabitants.

Maybe the reason I fell in love with this national park is because it is so incredibly unique. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a Southerner who’s used to seeing green all around me, and the desert is so unlike my normal vista. Maybe it’s because I know that God has a purpose for every biome out there. I think it’s all of these, and many more. But Death Valley is a place that has inspired me to talk about nature. It’s a place that makes me want to scream to everyone, “Get over there! If you’re from California, how have you not been to Death Valley yet?”

Therefore, I urge you, wherever you are in the world, to experience this California wonder at some point in your life. It should definitely be on your bucket list, because this is a place that will challenge your perception of the world you think you know.

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Death Valley National Park (August 2016)

THERE YOU GO.

Though these are my top three California destinations, there are so many more to check out. That is the beauty of this state, despite its faults. So, if you can, definitely make a stop in California. 🙂

In the next week or so I will update you guys on some awesome news. Be looking out for that blog post soon.

Until next time

-K.

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California/Nevada Border (August 2016)
travel

3 ARGENTINE DESTINATIONS

Hello my dear readers,

I hope you are all doing well as we approach February 2019! As we always say, time is flying by, and I’ve been doing some reflecting in the past few weeks.

As some of you guys know, I spent my sophomore year of college in South America (specifically, Buenos Aires, Argentina). While it was one of the hardest years of my life, it was also the best year I’ve ever had in terms of travel and growth. There is something about tossing yourself into a foreign place and seeing what happens.

Therefore, I thought it would be fun to do a “Favorite Destinations” post for some places I had the blessing to see while down south. Hopefully this can inspire you guys to travel to South America one day, or if you already have, please comment below and tell me if you agree/disagree with the places I have listed!

Without further ado, let’s get started.

(P.S. I have not included Buenos Aires in this post, because that city deserves a blog post all of its own.)


LOS GLACIARES NATIONAL PARK (Patagonia, Argentina)

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Perito Moreno Glacier (March 2018)

Patagonia, one of the most amazing regions on Planet Earth, covers the southern tip of South America. It is a sparsely populated area due to its rugged terrain, but in my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful places in the globe. While there are so many incredible places in Patagonia, there is one in particular that stands out: Los Glaciares National Park.

Los Glaciares is an incredible landscape where one can personally visit the giant ice cap of the Andean Mountains. The pictures you see are taken from the most famous glacier system in the park, Perito Moreno Glacier, on the fantastic Lago Argentino. To visit the glacier, one must take a comfortable boat ride across the Lago Argentino, and then there is the additional option to hike across the glacier (!!!) as well. Pretty wild stuff, if you ask me.

What made this trip so special was the fact I was with my amazing friends. I really do believe travel is a great way to tighten friendships, since you learn so much about people through shared experience.

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Perito Moreno Glacier (March 2018) // Walking on ice
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Perito Moreno Glacier (March 2018) // One of the only glaciers in the world still growing

IGUAZÚ FALLS, ARGENTINA

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IguazĂș Falls, Argentina (October 2017)

If glaciers and deserts are not your eco-zone, how about the jungle? And more particularly, if jungles aren’t your preferred location, how about the most incredible waterfall system in the world? IguazĂș is your place.

Hidden in the jungles bordering Argentina and Brazil, IguazĂș Falls’ cataracts range from 197 to 269 feet (60 to 82 feet). These dramatic drops are almost unbelievable to witness with human eyes, and to hear the colossal roar of these falls is, well, overpowering.

IguazĂș is a a twenty-hour bus journey from Buenos Aires. (By plane is probably a better choice.) While this was a painful journey, it made the reward so much better. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to IguazĂș, considering that I was still a little dazed from the bus experience, but sometimes trips are like that. (And sometimes the journey is better than the destination itself.) However, IguazĂș did not disappoint.

The hikes throughout the park are scenic and appropriate for people of all ages. Monkeys   will drop down from the emerald trees, while we humans stumble down boardwalks over muddy rivers leading you to the source of your trip. Eventually, you’ll hear the waterfalls, and you’ll think, What is that? 

And when you see the waterfalls, and the iridescent spray floating all around you, it’s a little snapshot of what heaven will be like. Take a fresh gulp of air, and listen to the world around you.

Go to IguazĂș someday.

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IguazĂș Falls, Argentina (October 2017)

USHUAIA, ARGENTINA

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Hike to Laguna Esmeralda (February 2018) // If you look close enough, you will see me on a rock (pink jacket)

But if you still are craving another slice of South America, there’s still one more recommendation for you, and it’s my personal favorite: Ushuaia.

Some of my readers will recognize Ushuaia because I love to blog about it. Ushuaia holds the title of the southernmost city in the world, and it is absolutely incredible to consider how close it is to Antarctica. With about 50,000 residents, Ushuaia is a touristy town devoted to its guests. Some of the sweetest people live in this small city, and I truly mean that!

Ushuaia is the kind of place where there is endless opportunity (as long as you go in a reasonable season). For example, we spent a day hiking to Laguna Esmeralda, which was an amazing time to experience the region of Tierra del Fuego. The following day, we took a special tour of the Beagle Channel (Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse) and walked with penguins on Martillo Island (a must, if you decide to go!). Another day we went on the Southern Fuegian Railway, which connects Ushuaia to Tierra del Fuego National Park. And there is still downtown Ushuaia to explore, which reminds me of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, or Branson, Missouri (a town established to cater to entertaining visitors).

I would definitely recommend checking it out in the summer months. We went in February, which was a comfortable time to go. (Temperatures in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit, a fair amount of sunny days to hike and explore.)

Ushuaia’s the kind of place where you can easily get lost for a few days, a few months, or a few years (at least in the summertime).

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Martillo Island (March 2018) // Yes, I got to walk with penguins!
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Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Beagle Channel, Argentina (February 2018) 

ARGENTINA.

A country of twenty-three provinces, one autonomous city (Buenos Aires), and over forty million people. While I love to go on and on about places to see, I truly believe that people are far greater than any place you will go. People make the place, just like the place makes the people.

The people you will meet in South America will transform your life. You may not recognize it at the time, but they will. I still reflect on so many Argentines who made an impact on my year abroad. Despite the cultural differences and the language barriers, relationships were solidified.

I encourage all of you guys to travel. Some of you may not be interested in this option, but it is amazing to immerse yourself in new perspectives. Travel is not cheap, but there are new methods every day to better afford these opportunities. And for those of you who are wondering where you should go on your next vacation, maybe consider one of these destinations!

So, there you have it for today: My top three Argentine destinations. I hope you enjoyed this post. ❀

Until next time,

-K.

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Me when my entire blog post deleted itself and I had to rewrite it from scratch

travel

YOSEMITE

It’s that time of the week… A blog post update from me. I hope you all are doing well and are enjoying the beginning of this fresh October Monday. Make sure to take some time for yourself this week, whether that be in reading a book, writing your own blog post, or catching a breath of fresh air.

And speaking of fresh air…

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to go to Yosemite National Park in Northern California. For those of you who don’t know, Yosemite is the States’ biggest national park and was crucial in the development of the National Parks system as well. During my research on the park, I learned that Yosemite is about the size of Rhode Island, and it sure felt like it.

Keep close to nature’s heart… And break away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. –John Muir

Yosemite is proof that things really can make more sense in the wild ruggedness of nature, and here are a few of my favorite snapshots of my one day in Yosemite.


1. SEVEN HOUR HIKE? Nothing.

What was supposed to be a three hour hike eventually turned into a seven hour ordeal, and my body will not recover for the next few days. The culprit?

The Four Mile Hike that connects two of Yosemite’s best features: Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point.

This hike was arduous, tough, and breathtaking (in more ways than one). First off, I was not prepared for the higher field elevation, and I’m not the most athletic person in the world (according to some hehe). That being said, the hike up the mountain was, needless to say, rigorous–and worth it.

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View of Glacier Point (Yosemite National Park, California)

About a half mile from Glacier Point, a couple passed me by and jokingly told me that I should have driven to the top of the mountain. I laughed, not understanding that one can actually drive to the top. Though I was pretty upset at first (five miles up a mountain is a killer), I realized that there is something in being able to complete a hike like this using your own two legs (and a few Lunchables, jokes from friends, and chugs of water).


2. A RETURN TRIP IS NECESSARY

Yosemite is one of those places that cannot be seen in just one day. There’s too much going on, and each view is different. One second the sun is bright and burning, and the next there’s a thunderstorm booming across the distance.

This is the truth of nature: There is balance in the unpredictable. If things were always set in stone, then where would the fun be?

I plan on returning to Yosemite one day, and I hope you can also check it out in the future. There are aspects of this park for everyone.

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Somehow I climbed this mountain

3. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN

In a place like Yosemite National Park, anything can (and will) happen. Random quail bouncing across the trail? Check. Prank your friend with a backpack full of rocks? Check. A rainbow on your trek down the mountain? Check.

If you take the first step, you’ll find that the possibilities are endless, as long as you bring water and a friend (or five of them).

🙂

–K.

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I mean, why not?
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ROAD TRIP 2018

Why not drive across the blistering, burning desert in the middle of August?

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a big travel fan. I was bitten by the travel bug young, and I take every opportunity to go where I can (in reason, due to my struggling bank account). And though I have been to the Great American West many a time, considering that I spend a majority of my time in California, there is something about New Mexico and Arizona that really speaks to me.

Recently, I spent four days traveling from Tennessee to California. While the trip can be made in roughly two and a half days, this road trip had a few, well… Interesting stops. Therefore, I’d like to highlight my favorite moments from this journey, in case you are considering a trip out West anytime soon. 🙂


ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO

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Outside Roswell, New Mexico

Day one of my journey from Tennessee was spent in my luxurious Honda automobile across three great states: Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. This part of the journey was rather boring, if I’m being honest, because… Well, I’m used to the scenery of flat land, trees, and Southerners. Therefore, we drove fast and furious to New Mexico, where we spent our second day cruising from Roswell to Las Cruces.

While outside the little alien-prone town is nothing but the barren traces of desert, the town itself is devoted to its UFO heritage. It seemed like half the businesses in town had some sort of alien shrine. I tried to capture a picture of an alien statue at a local Domino’s pizzeria, but I wasn’t fast enough to capture the shot. 🙂

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Roswell, NM

For those of you who don’t know, the town of Roswell is famous because of its connection to a UFO (unidentified flying object) crash about seventy miles northwest in the town of Corona. There was a huge cover-up situation in which the government promised the public the crash was nothing but a downed weather balloon, but some speculate the crash could be extraterrestrial in origin.

No matter what you may think, the town’s devotion to aliens is unique, to say the least, and if you drive around the open desert around it, one might think anything is possible…

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The International UFO Museum & Research Center (Roswell, NM)

WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT, NEW MEXICO

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White Sands National Monument

Not too far away from Roswell is a small town called Alamogordo (yes, a mouthful!). It is probably a three-hour drive from Roswell, so nothing too bad. In the midst of the great basin, one is able to detect the hint of plump sand dunes…

When we drove closer, there was a sudden downpour from a summer thunderstorm, but that didn’t stop us from checking out the dunes.

At White Sands National Monument, one can stand or sled on tall, creamy dunes that go on for miles. I expected the sand to be hot against the soles of my feet, but it actually felt really good. This is a definite spot to check out, and I think photos do it more justice than my attempt at a blog post about it.

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Storm in the distance (White Sands National Monument — Alamogordo, NM)

TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA

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Main Street (Tombstone, Arizona)

Tombstone, Arizona, is the United States’ most legendary Western town. Famous for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Tombstone has been the center of many tourists’ interest in the American West.

The town has a lengthy history, but I was expecting it to be a ghost town. It wasn’t like that at all. I was thoroughly surprised to find it an actual town, with a high school to boot.

My favorite part of Tombstone is the Bird Cage Theatre, home to twenty-six deaths, an infamous gambling set-up and brothel, and ghosts to tell the stories. Considering that this trip was other-worldly, so to speak, I did ask the tour guide about the Theatre’s haunted past.

His response: “Go talk to one of the spirits right now.”

So… I took a piece of candy to entice the spirit of a young boy named Joshy, but nothing happened. Though I am skeptical of ghosts and such, the Theatre definitely has one of those creepy auras to it, but it’s a must-see.


And there you go: My top three visits on this year’s road trip. It was a whole lot of fun to drive, but I know it isn’t everybody’s favorite thing to do. For those of you who do like a trip, check this one out, but I do have some better locations to recommend in a later blog post.

I promise my next post will deal with writing, but I thought it would be a fun diversion from my normal musings. 🙂

Until next time,

-K.

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Unforgettable Sunset (San Simon, Arizona)
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MUSINGS FROM THE BALTIMORE AIRPORT

In the past three weeks, I have found myself in seven different states, and I’m about ready to take a long, long nap… While I love traveling, it wears me down, and it’s virtually impossible to work on books when I’m not in one place.

Why have I been traveling so much? Well, I wanted to visit my best friends in Wisconsin, catch a concert in Illinois, and vacation in Washington, D.C. (And I’m not really sure a vacation in D.C. is that good a choice, if we’re being honest.) Throw in Virginia Beach and Annapolis for good measure, and I’m still trying to readjust to being home after a trip way down south…

Anyway, I feel like I am complaining a little, and that is not my intention at all! I love traveling with my entire being. I get some of my best ideas from travel, as I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog in the past, but I also love planting roots and being able to be settled for a little bit too. So, since it’s been a while since my last post, I thought I would update you on some of my summer goals since it’s already mid-June (I can hardly believe this!).


BOOK UPDATE

After finishing a magical realism novel in early May, I was feeling sorta romantic… Which means I am halfway done with a romance trilogy that will be out very shortly! The first book in this series, The Third Wheel, will be out in the next few weeks, because it is just sitting around, collecting virtual dust. I am almost done with the second book, tentatively titled The Wedding Party, which I will finish in the next week or so. I plan on writing the third book shortly after I finish The Wedding Party, so stay tuned for a new romance trilogy on the way! (This trilogy will focus on three Argentine-American sisters!)

I have also begun work on a more serious novel that I labeled on Twitter as my first attempt at a Southern Gothic psychological thriller. A lot of words to say that this will take me a lot longer than a cheesy romance, but I hope to finish that book before the summer ends as well.


THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the future… Which is not typically normal for me. I suppose I have some stress as to what I want my adulthood to look like, and so I am thinking about who I’ll marry, what career I’ll have, and if I’ll ever be published as a writer. Those are just some of the things.

I’m not really sure why this is happening, but I think it’s a good thing to keep an optimistic outlook even when there is stress in life, because there will eventually be a time when everything will have happened, and it’s important to keep a good attitude through the hard times and good.

Therefore, I just wanted to give you guys a little update on this afternoon in the middle of June. I cannot believe the summer’s already passing this quickly, but I will post some more updates soon about my books (and hopefully some other topics as well)!

Until next time,

–K.

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ONE WEEK LEFT IN BUENOS AIRES

As most of you know, I’m studying abroad in Argentina. I have been here since September, and it is crazy to think how fast (and, at times, slow) this year has gone. Currently, I’m sitting in an Argentine version of Starbucks called Havanna, working on this blog post. It is funny because I came to this very Havanna with some friends the first weekend here.

Therefore, I want to say that this year has been both one of the easiest and hardest years of my life. How is that possible? Well, I think physically, my body has been through the wringer. From facial mosquito bites covering my entire cheek to a case of acute bronchitis, I’m physically at an all-time low. I’ve learned that constant, non-stop travel can do that to you. However, that being said, this year has created some of my easiest, favorite friendships, the school side of things hasn’t been too challenging, and on the writing front, I’ve been both a maniac and forced with a case of writer’s block.

Therefore, I’m going to write a few things I’m thankful about, because I only have 168 more hours in this country, and then I’ll be shipped back on a plane to LAX…


1. MY HOMESTAY

My Argentine padres are some of the sweetest people on the planet who feed me like a queen and who truly care about my goals, aspirations, and health. One thing about being sick is that I got to stay at home and be with them a little more than usual.

2. MY DAILY SUBTE JOURNEY

What is a subte? It’s the Buenos Aires subway system, and I’m constantly taking a subte to class. I’ve witnessed public break-ups, street artists, musicians, sweet families, and been uncomfortable more times than I can count, but my daily rides on the subte force me to listen to the Spanish around me and become part of the Argentine culture, especially now that my fourth pair of headphones is broken. (That is a story for another day, but not listening to music as I walk to class has actually been beneficial, because I love listening to the people around me.)

3. MY ROACH FAM (don’t ask)

Going abroad really develops some of your wildest friendships. I came to Buenos Aires with my best friend, and I’m leaving with five or six more truly close friends. We’ve gone through so much together, and while I am sad to leave them for a little bit, we’ll be reunited soon… 🙂 Life in Buenos Aires would have been impossible without them, and some of these people will truly be in my life forever.


…BUT IT IS TIME TO GO HOME

I am a weird creature, because I find myself constantly homesick. While I’ve gotten better at it over the past few years, I find myself always missing my hometown (which really means my family and friends back in the South). Therefore, I made a countdown at the beginning of this semester to check off the days until I could fly home, and now that I only have seven more checks on the piece of paper, I’m really at a loss at how time flies.

I will miss Argentina, but I’m not opposed to visiting again. In fact, I think I will be back. However, this year abroad has made me truly appreciate all I have in the States, and I’m ready to go back.

I’m ready for some BK croissants and large Polar Pops. (For those of you who don’t know, I’ve got a true addiction to Diet Coke.) And I’m ready to see my pet guinea pig.

Until next time,

-K.

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THIRD WEEK IN BA: QUICK UPDATE

It is Wednesday, September 27, 2017, as I am writing this. El veintisiete de septiembre. I can’t believe how fast the time is going! Therefore, I thought I would update you on how things are going during my third week in this awesome Argentine city!

Definitely I have grown more comfortable with my little nook of BA. I have no trouble going into restaurants, farmacĂ­as, or anywhere that catches my eye–and speaking solamente en español (or honestly Spanglish). In fact, I’m probably a bit too independent when it comes to my wishes of seeing as much as I can. This past week, I found myself traveling across new streets (and I did know where I was), but I had to remind myself to overcome my curiosity at times.

Buenos Aires has offered me a glimpse into the city life, but this past weekend I did get to escape into the “countryside” to volunteer at a Christian village, where all I could see was the freshness of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. That is another thing that confuses me: I am once again going into spring, and I want to be in fall!!!

I only have time for a quick update, but I will have a more interesting post for next week. Also, thanks for checking out this blog, and I hope to write more about my writing soon.

Chau for now,

-K.

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A WALK THROUGH BELGRANO

It’s September 2017, and I’m walking down a tree-lined street in Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Yesterday was rainy and cool, and today it’s warm and windy, but I can feel the casual hint of spring in the air (and my allergies can too).

Belgrano has two sides that I have come to love. One, along the populated streets of Cabildo, is the shopping/restaurant/living life hub. Along Cabildo you can find any store, with hidden galerĂ­as of little gift shops and knickknacks of the Argentine culture. There are a plethora of McDonald’s and fast food chains, but the scent of warm pizza drifts into any peatĂłn‘s nostrils. There are snack stores, farmacĂ­as, and lively people at every corner, and the subte is always bustling with the liveliness of its travelers.

Across town, in the more suburban part of Belgrano, a walk denotes peace and calm. Friendly doormen wave and say hello every morning; men and women walk their dogs; families bundle their children up in warm jackets and hustle them on their journey to school. Trees wave in the wind, and the pace of the pedestrians is a bit slower (though the drivers are still rather aggressive no matter where you are).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hate walking most of the time, but it’s not that bad in Belgrano. I see chubby babies and sweet couples and elderly folks scooting along the adorable sidewalks. Sometimes there’s a scent of savory aroma sweetening the air, and others, I’m just fascinated by my gorgeous view of a city that both terrifies me and electrifies my adventurous leanings.

And despite having to walk wherever I go, I’m actually kind of okay with it. Actually, I kind of like it. A lot.

Estoy satisfecha. 

-K.

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Despite this not being of my street and having a strange sticker in the shot, I really like this sunset image. It’s a reminder of my new city’s beauty!