travel

TOP CALIFORNIA FLIGHTS (copilot required)

Hello, my dear readers!

Today we’re going to do something a little different–and by that, I mean we’re gonna travel up and down the California coast! As some of you know, I’m a pilot (private pilot, I should clarify) and flying is something I love to do. While I attended Pepperdine University, I had the absolute privilege of flying out of Camarillo, California, to build hours, and so I want to share some of my trips with you guys.

Now this list is in no particular order, and I’ll be honest that I’m writing from my heart. So, yes, these guys are my favorites, but I want you to let me know what your favorites too. This is your journey as well. Imagine yourself as my copilot. You’re up with me in those clouds, so take a moment to relax, put on some sunglasses, and see California from up above.

Now, a quick little disclaimer: Our home airport is Camarillo, a beautiful city in the Ventura area, about an hour and a half (with no traffic, let me remind you) north of Los Angeles. Sometimes it is my humble opinion that flying outside of Camarillo is pointless, due to how pretty it is (especially at sunset!). But, alas, a pilot normally likes to fly places. And our plane? The grand old Cessna 172, the plane of anyone’s dreams. So let’s get going. Got your bags? Bring some water. And a smile! 🙂

Let’s get going.

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My first solo in Camarillo, CA! Seems like so long ago. (October 2018)

1. PASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA

Paso Robles, oh Paso Robles! Nestled within the Central Coast and a short drive from the beautiful Pacific, Paso is a town that reminds me of a small town America out East. It definitely doesn’t have a strong California vibe to it (okay, the gas prices make it Californian), but it’s got some of the friendliest people and one of my favorite airports in the state. (I flew so much there this past autumn that I got repeatedly teased by flight instructors who kept saying, “Stop going north, Katie! All the best places are south into L.A.!” Um… Debatable.)

Paso Robles is located between flat desert and mountains lining the coast, so it’s got dual views of different biomes. Plus, considering that we’re flying there at sunset, you’ll get to see the beauty of a California twilight without too much light pollution. In a way, Paso reminds me of California before it became overdeveloped (yes, in my opinion, Southern California is overdeveloped. No hate, just stating a fact).

So, yes. When we fly to Paso, it feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. But that’s the magic of it, especially coming from a heavily populated area. This flight proves that there is more to California than just the major cities, and there is still ample beauty to find.

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Headed into Paso at sunset! I spent more time flying to Paso than any other airport. It will always be my favorite flight. ❤ (October 2019)

2. CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA

Carlsbad’s a fun flight, especially since we’re going to be flying directly over Los Angeles, one of the busiest regions of the United States. Terrified? No fear at all! There are published routes for us to fly (this means that we can fly our little Cessna 172 directly over Los Angeles International Airport as long as we stay at a certain altitude and course).

The reason Carlsbad is on this list is due to the challenge of flying over L.A. in the midst of huge passenger jets. Again, the VFR (visual flight rules) routes make everything safe and legal to do, but one of the wildest experiences in my flying was “jetting” along at 5,500 feet and watching as a bunch of A380s (the largest passenger airliner) are taking off right under you.

So, yeah. We’re cruising along, Los Angeles on one side, the Pacific on the other. The views are incredible, overpowering, and thrilling to say the least. But it actually goes by pretty fast, and the next thing you know it, you’re talking to SoCal Approach and headed for Carlsbad, just north of San Diego.

Carlsbad’s an idyllic town that feels old school in comparison to the busyness of Los Angeles. That being said, Palomar Airport has a sloped runway and can be busy at times. So let’s hope they’re not too busy when we arrive, and we can stop and get a bite at the quaint restaurant there. (Maybe we’ll even take a moment to bother my friend Matt who’s lucky enough to live there.)

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Los Angeles. From the air it goes on and on, so just imagine on the ground (and stuck in traffic LOL!). (September 2019)
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The coast off of Carlsbad! BEAUTIFUL! (October 2019)

3. SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA

San Luis Obispo was one of my first cross country destinations when I was training for my private pilot license, and it’s quite the place to fly. It’s a quick flight, has a nice restaurant I’ve never been to, and it’s nestled in some beautiful mountains that turn emerald after winter rains.

Our flight is only an hour or so, but it’s one of the best flights a VFR pilot can experience. That’s right: You get to pass over Santa Barbara, head up the mountains, and soak in the knowledge that you’re floating in the atmosphere in a Cessna 172. And when it’s dark outside, you get a view of the star-studded sky.

Down below is an image taken of the final leg of our journey into San Luis Obispo. Gorgeous. Stunning. Picture perfect! And when you look at it with your own eyes, it makes it even more real that sometimes all you need to clear your head is a plane, a destination, and the knowledge that it’s only you, your copilot, and God. 🙂

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To get to San Luis Obispo, one must cross Santa Barbara. What a beautiful mountain pass to cross! (October 2019)
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Unreal, right? This is our view only miles from San Luis Obispo. (January 2019)


4. MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA

One of my good friends is from Monterey, which probably makes me more biased than most, but I’m going to do some recommending for you: Get yourself to Monterey for real. The flight from Camarillo to Monterey’s two hours one-way (about an hour north of San Luis Obispo, flight time wise). So we’re going to see the beautiful Santa Barbara region, cruise up the sparsely populated Central Coast (in comparison to Southern California), and ATC will eventually become NorCal approach. That’s right: We’ve made it to Northern California!

Monterey is just south of San Francisco, but it’s definitely not San Francisco. Monterey is famous for Monterey Bay, the fantastic aquarium named after the Bay, and the sweet nearby hamlet called Carmel-by-the-Sea. So basically this flight allows us to head into one of California’s most romantically beautiful spots among private jets and other thrill-seekers. ❤

My friend and I flew up to Monterey one day, and we both could not handle how beautiful it was. The runway faces the water, so when you come in it feels like something out of a movie. When we waited for fuel, we were treated with kindness and respect (despite the fact we were the only general aviation plane there), and we ended up hanging out to watch the jets take off. (With free ice cream!) Though I have since left California, this flight to Monterey will always be one of my favorites.

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Why is the only photo I have of Monterey Regional? Clueless Katie. Obviously this photo does not do anything justice. (Monterey Regional Airport, Monterey, CA // October 2019)

5. VICTORVILLE, CALIFORNIA

Now, our flight to Victorville is way different than our other locations. While we flew to Monterey for beauty and Carlsbad for a challenge, Victorville’s got an entirely different appeal. Yes, that’s right: We’re going to climb over the mountains and head for the desert.

A quick one hour flight from Camarillo, Victorville is famous for its airplane graveyard. That’s right: A bunch of old airplanes are just, well, there. Which is pretty cool when you’re a 172 pilot who’s just trying to build time and live life. So, yeah, you’re going to see the Boeing 737 MAX as well, as in the airplanes that have been grounded for safety issues this past year. There’s a handful at this airport!

When I visited Victorville in October last year, I also ended up running into a Royal Air Force plane. I got there fifteen minutes after it landed, so unfortunately I did not run into any of the pilots or crew, but I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was practically standing in a movie scene. (Abandoned airplanes, quiet airport, and the Royal Air Force just happened to be in town?) Told ya: Flying is an interesting business!

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On final at Southern California Logistics! Welcome to Victorville. (And my friend was flying when I took this picture, so don’t yell at me please hehe.) (October 2019)
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A bunch of old FedEx airplanes. Now you see why I love this place so much 🙂 (October 2019)

 


6. CAMARILLO, CALIFORNIA

Camarillo will always have my heart. It is where I learned to fly, soloed, and got my license. Now that I’m away from it, I’m truly saddened because it is the end of a phase. That being said, I will never forget how amazing an opportunity it was, and here’s a special shoutout to the air traffic controllers at this airport–they’re some of the friendliest in the game!

So as we’re landing back in good old Camarillo, still in our imaginary sunset phase, let’s remember that each flight is a blessing. It’s an opportunity to see God’s beautiful Earth (whether it is green or deserty), and that each flight brings a lesson with it. ❤

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Over Ventura Harbor, a few minutes’ flight from Camarillo. (September 2019)
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Yes, that is me… But I am flying and not taking the picture. BEAUTIFUL CAMARILLO!!!!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR COPILOT SKILLS.

There we go, my dear readers! Thank you again for joining me on this journey, and I hope you got to escape for a little bit. My goal is to write more travel-centered posts in the coming months, because now that I am not traveling as much I miss it a lot, and also because it gives us creative types a free vacation, right? 🙂 (Or is everything ever really free… Random musings from Katie Kay.)

Until next time,

-Katie Kay

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P.S. Hi, just letting all my awesome supporters know that my little sister, Genevieve, is so amazing. She is so so so so so so so so wonderful, and I am so lucky to have her in my life.

xoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxooxo,

-Gossip Gen

updates

5 SUMMER OBJECTIVES (update)

Hello, my dear and wonderful readers!

Can you guys believe that summer 2019 is wrapping up? I can hardly believe this. It seems like just yesterday I was writing the original post, which you can check out here. At this point in my life, I feel like I should be able to recognize the fact that time moves faster than light, and there’s nothing we can do about it; however, I’m still very much shocked when I realize, “Okay, wow. That’s another season gone by.”

As this post goes live, my sweet mom and I will be traversing the United States in my final journey to Los Angeles, California, where I will finish my college experience. While I am sure that drive will need a blog post, the truth is that I’m excited and a bit nervous to finish up school and get on with my life.

That being said, we’re not going to talk about that right now. Instead, let’s go back in time, to May 2019, when I was doing the opposite trip (heading from LA to Memphis, Tennessee). That fresh-faced kid is still me, but I’ve got some updates, and I’m ready to share with you guys.

Thank you again, dear readers, for putting up with my nonsense. For whatever reason, you’ve decided to journey with me. Some of you have been here for months, even years at this point; others have been here for a few seconds now. But whoever you are, thank you.

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1. WRITE AT LEAST THREE NOVELS.

Well, I kind of failed on this one. Though this summer has produced some of my best writing outside the sphere of the novel, I did want to write three books this summer, one of which was going to be a “book that matters.”

I got kind of tied up creatively, and I found myself too exhausted to produce quality content when it came to my books. For those of you who don’t know, my favorite genre of writing is the novel, and I’m normally pushing through multiple projects at once. Now that I’m flying (more on that to come) and finishing up college, I’ve got less time to pursue this #1 passion of mine.

However, I did publish one book, Church Boy, via Smashwords. That book was easy to write, thank goodness, and helped destress me during some of the more challenging parts of the summer. 

Despite all of this, this blog has grown so much more than I ever thought possible. Thank you guys for supporting me on this journey, and I have felt challenged as a writer during this summer in order to share genuine content with you all. This experience has given me so much joy, and for that I will be forever grateful.


2. COMPLETE MY INSTRUMENT RATING (flying stuff)

YES!

I actually just finished my instrument rating a few weeks ago, and that took a whole load off my shoulders. My summer goal was to get this done, and it feels amazing to have it under my belt.

If you’re not familiar with the world of flying, I’ll try to offer some insight (although I am still a baby pilot, and I’m learning a lot along the way). There are different stages to flying, and I received my private pilot certificate in April. That license, so to speak, allows me to fly single engine airplanes, such as the Cessna 172.

This summer I worked on my instrument rating, which allows me to fly through clouds and poorer weather than is required under a private pilot certificate. Though my sister said, “Seriously, that’s all that got you?” this process has been stressful, as I’ve been studying a lot more than I wanted to on my summer off from school. However, you know you’re doing the right thing when you enjoy what you’re studying, and I feel very lucky to be able to fly.

After this stage I will work on my commercial certificate, which will allow me to make money for flying, instead of spending money (haha). This certificate consists of time building, in which I must make the requirement of 250 hours before I can apply and ace a check ride to become a legal commercial pilot. Right now I’m halfway there, so I’m hoping to get this done by January 2020 and continue the next phase of flying… Instruction.

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3. PERSONAL GOALS

All right: As I look back at this original post, I laugh and smile to myself. Specifically I highlighted that I wanted a certain August date, an adjustment to Tennessee life, and to branch out more. While I definitely fulfilled two of these goals, the first one did not exactly go as planned.

Over this summer I unfortunately did become distracted by, well… I want to be cryptic, but I know you’re probably reading this with confusion. So here goes.

I met a chico (which means boy in Spanish, lol) and found myself a little distracted with that situation. Nothing came of it due to some very annoying external factors, but for two or so months I was pretty consumed by my feelings for him.

Now that it is behind me, I can smile and appreciate what I learned from it, such as the fact that there are some very good guys out there in this world of ours. And I really did learn what I’d like to find in a future potential suitor. 🙂

This all sounds completely corny, but it feels good being open for once.

As for the other two goals, bam: Tennessee isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty darn good state. It took me no time at all to become readjusted to my life here and throw myself into my friendships, goals, and happiness at home.


4. LESS TIME ON PHONE.

My best friend and I made a summer pact, and it has been pretty amazing. We challenged ourselves to time limits on our phones and diving deep into the Bible. While I was averaging three or four hour days on my phone at college, I’ve got a limit on my phone now of two hours. This is still a whole lot of time, but it’s much better than what I was at.

Special shoutout to Megan for keeping me accountable on those fronts!


5. DRINK MORE WATER.

Another failure here. Due to my check ride and studying and outright laziness, my addiction to Diet Coke has continued. It doesn’t help that I can get a big poppa Polar Pop for $.79 at the nearby gas station. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with American money, just know that $.79 is practically nothing.)

No excuse. I’m ready for more water again, which makes me feel healthier and makes me look healthier. (Oh, good old acne, even post teenage years!)

Proof that I’ve got a Diet Coke problem. Also this picture is such a weird one, because the random young man in the background looks just like my friend Chase. Of course I had to be a creep and show Chase his doppelgänger. (Waikoloa Village, Hawaii // July 2019)

YOUR GOALS.

Enough about me. Let’s focus on you for a second. What were your summer goals, if you had some? Were you able to follow through with some of them, or did you forget to pursue them?

The good thing is that there is no better time than now. If you’re struggling with something, challenge yourself to set a goal and stick to it. It’s not easy. As you’ve seen, I’ve experienced some failures just in these silly goals, but I know what it’s like to think, “What if I’d just tried that?”

🙂

All right. Enough from me now, but please feel free to share anything in the comments below. I love every comment I receive, and you guys are the highlight of my day.

-K. ❤

 

thoughts

SOME THOUGHTS…

Hello, my dear readers!

It is so good to be back into the normal operations of this blog! As I said on last week’s Friday post, today we’re going to be diving into my heart rather than poetry or writing. While that is the focus of this blog, I do like to give you guys some insight into what I’m thinking every now and then.

Here are five random things on my mind right now, courtesy of my brain. I hope you enjoy, and that you share your own thoughts with me in return! ❤

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Mountaintop model, hmm? Yeah, probably not! (Mauna Loa, Hawaii // July 2019)


1. “ROUND AND ROUND” BY GEOWULF IS STUCK IN MY HEAD

I have been listening to this song by Australian dream pop group Geowulf for the past few weeks now. It’s pretty introspective, and it’s got a good beat. But we writers tend to gravitate toward the words we see and hear, and that’s what makes Geowulf’s song stand out so much in my head. With lines like “I’ve been running, running from myself” Geowulf asks its audience to contemplate what we’re running from.

Check out the song.


2. KINDNESS IS NOT GIVEN BY ALL

A few days ago I ran into someone whom I hadn’t seen in years. This person had once been a good friend of mine, but we eventually grew apart after an unfortunate confrontation. Just for fun, I decided to drop by my old school, where I happened to see her. I exclaimed her name, genuinely excited to see her, but she realized it was me, said a curt hello, and kept walking.

My heart hurt after this rudeness. Yes, we hadn’t left on the best terms, but her blatant disgust with me hasn’t dimmed in the past few years, which is ridiculous. To think that we’d once been good friends, had parted due to a civil confrontation, and moved on with our lives… And yet she was still acting as if we were seventeen.

The thing is that people are not always going to like us. There are jealousies, mistakes, and petty feuds. It’s how friends become enemies, and allies divide into factions. Though I was upset at first with the rudeness, I considered a few things and realized I’d rather share kindness and receive rudeness than share rudeness and receive kindness.

Hopefully one day I will see her again, and she will be more receptive towards me. Time will tell, especially when one lives in a small town.


3. MY BEST FRIEND AND I WILL BE REUNITED IN ONE WEEK!

Though you will be able to read into my summer updates post on Friday, I do want to say that I’m about to head back to school in California for my final semester of college. While I am not excited for classes, I’m definitely pumped at the thought that my best friend, Miss Givenchy, and I will be back at it again in one short week. 🙂

We’ve been separated for four months, and though it doesn’t feel like it has been that long, it is about time to be reunited once more!


4. PRAYING FOR PEOPLE IS PRETTY COOL

All right. Some of you are going to read this and cringe, but I’ve got to be honest with you guys. As a Christian I’m pretty vocal about my faith, and it’s gotten me through so many things. So I’m going to be as honest on this blog as I would be in real life.

This past summer my church started a program that’s pretty cool, and I think it’s something you guys should do in your own lives. The “Who’s Your One?” initiative is a chance for you to pray for one person in particular for an amount of time you choose. It’s pretty simple: Pick someone who needs some prayer, and spend a few minutes out of your day in thought for him or her.

Some of you are irreligious, but I’m telling you: Praying for somebody else is amazing. It’s not about you; it’s about the person you’re praying for, and to put positive energy out there is exactly what this world needs right now! 🙂


5. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES, BUT WE MUST BE WILLING TO CORRECT THEM

A few days ago I was flying my airplane. I had to take park it in a very tight spot, and I was alone in pushing it back. Now Cessna 172s are not super easy to navigate (on the ground at least), and I’m a sponge when it comes to strength. So there I was, a noodle of a girl trying every maneuver possible to move this airplane off the taxiway, when I heard a pop! and my heart about burst and popped too.

I looked down and saw I’d broken a piece off the horizontal stabilizer in my attempt to move the airplane. Somehow, despite not having the strength to move my plane, I’d had the strength to break a piece off it.

Not my smartest move, not by a mile.

After finding a mechanic and reporting my error, I took a deep breath and thought to myself: Okay. You found the man responsible for repairs. You’ve offered to pay for it. You’ve done the paperwork. You’ve beat yourself up a bit, and there’s nothing more to do.

Sometimes our mistakes are big ones. Sometimes our mistakes are small ones, though they can feel much bigger in the moment. Whatever it is, we must remember our response to our human error is just as important as what we’ve done. Nobody’s perfect, and everybody should know that by now. 🙂

And guess what? We learn from our mistakes in the process.

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Why not post a random picture like this? (Somewhere in Chile // November 2017)


YOUR THOUGHTS!

Now it’s your turn. What are some things that have been on your mind lately? If you don’t want to share in the comments below, I challenge you to find a piece of paper and jot down five things that you can’t stop thinking about. 🙂

Thank you guys for being part of this blog. It means the world to me! I know I say that all the time, but it’s true.

Until next time,

-K. ❤

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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)

updates

A WHIRLWIND OF A WEEK

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I almost (ALMOST!) forgot about my weekly blog post. That being said, I’m back in the game and ready to share some thoughts that have been nagging at me in the past week.

After escaping the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, I flew home to Tennessee this past Sunday afternoon. I am thankful to be home, to relax and regain peace in my life, and to take some days to recover from the stress of this gnarly November.

Though I am quite cryptic in nature, I want to be honest with you all and go over the things that are tearing me up right now, even though I know I am safe and loved and cared for.

So here we go… In chronological order.


ONE PERSON

Who knew one person could have such an effect on you?

Not to be too cryptic on this front, but if there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s that just one person can change how you really feel, both in the best of ways and the worst. While I try not to be too analytical, I can’t help but regret certain actions and revel in them at the same time.

Ugh.


BORDERLINE SHOOTING

On the evening of Wednesday, November 7, thirteen people lost their lives at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. One of these thirteen souls was Alaina Housley, an eighteen-year-old freshman from my university, Pepperdine. It was a senseless act of violence that shook the entire United States, and it destroyed the peaceful atmosphere of Pepperdine.

My freshman year, I went to Borderline countless times with friends, because it is primarily a line dancing club. It was a place to bond with friends, attempt to boot scooting’ boogie without the professionals stomping all over you, and get a little country music through your veins.

But now I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering of Alaina’s family and the other Pepperdine students who managed to flee with their lives intact. I cannot understand how a place like Borderline is not safe anymore, that college kids cannot even go enjoy dancing without the worry of violence seeping in.


WOOLSEY FIRE

On Friday, November 9, I received an evacuation alert from Pepperdine due to the Woolsey Fire wreaking havoc upon the Santa Monica Mountains. The fire that had started near Westlake Village, close to the already-reeling Thousand Oaks, had jumped into our neck of the woods.

Only thirty minutes after receiving this alert, I stumbled outside with a backpack and my flight bag to discover smoke rolling over the mountains. Terrified, I hurried to my car with two friends and fled to San Diego, while most of my friends remained on campus.

Fortunately, Pepperdine was the safest place to be in Malibu, and though the flames would make it onto campus that night, it was the miraculous effort of firefighters who saved the school and protected all those college kids in the process. Though the fire was nothing less than alarming, putrid smoke followed its path, leaving those who stayed in paper masks.

The following morning, Saturday, November 10, the rest of my friends got out as quickly as they could because the air quality was so poor. Eventually, I was reunited with some of them in the safety of my friend’s San Diego home.

On the morning of Sunday, November 11, we received another alert that school was canceled until November 26. Five minutes later I booked a flight and was home to Tennessee by midnight.

The status of the fire now is on the upswing. The last time I heard, the Woolsey Fire is 60% contained and will be fully extinguished soon. Though hundreds of homes burned down and two lives were lost to this specific fire, there is much to be thankful for, especially the way the community pulled together to save the thousands who lived in the areas affected by the fire.

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Woolsey Fire near Pepperdine University (November 9, 2018) This still feels unreal. 


SEPARATION ANXIETY

While most of my friends remained on Pepperdine’s campus that first day of the fire, I went to my friend’s house in San Diego, where we watched a special nature show, Earth’s Natural Wonders (not the typical college kid flick, that’s for sure), ate a lot of delicious food, went to church, and played cards. It was relaxing and a lasting memory. When we reconnected with our other friends, we felt even tighter as a group.

That being said, we received the phone call from school that Sunday, and suddenly we were all packed up and headed five directions. What was a moment of us being all together completely fractured.

Finding myself on a flight home in the middle of November was unexpected, and it affected my mood the first few days of being back, because my friends were all over the map. We are all over the map, and it felt so weird saying goodbye for two weeks when just days before we’d been going to concerts, playing video games, and gulping down horror movies. Luckily we have been able to call and do a group crossword or two. (Told you, we’re not normal college kids.)


GROWING UP

This little unplanned break has been, well, wild. I went from a wildfire to rain that shifted to snow. 80 degree temperatures in California dropped to the thirties in Tennessee, and I was shocked to see colorful trees from the autumn here in the South. Neutral accents melted into my particular lilt of Southern, and things seemed so strange…

I think I am able to understand my feelings of confusion and stress now that I’ve been home five days: I am growing up, and it hurts just as much as it excites me. I will be graduating college in a year, and then the real world’s going to knock on the door. My friends will be split up around the country, permanently, even though I know they will always be a phone call away. College will become a distant memory, and I’ll be responsible for my future. Who knows what will come then, but the worry has been sinking its teeth into my brain for a little while now. I haven’t been writing as much, considering the circumstances, and therefore this post feels long overdue.

This is a sentiment everyone goes through, if you get the fortunate chance. It’s not something we should complain about, since so many don’t get to walk in our shoes, but there are still ups and downs with this thing called life. Sometimes we can’t control our emotions, our feelings, what drives our souls, and that can be overwhelming.

That’s when I take a step back, pray to God, and try my hardest to clear my head. It doesn’t always work, so I’ve been doing all sorts of things: Exercise, working on a new book, listening to music (check out “Freelance” by Toro y Moi).

And I know that it will be hard to leave home when it’s time to go.

That’s where I’m at now: Torn between two worlds, one of which will inevitably win over the other.

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Mammoth Lakes (October 2018) I can’t believe this was already a month ago. On my trip to Yosemite National Park.


SPLIT.

I think this describes my mood right about now: I’m split over my future, split over my present, split right down the middle. There’s so much going on in this world that my days are slipping like sand through my fingers, and this can be terrifying, not having a way to stop what’s coming.

Though this may seem like a melodramatic post, I know things are looking up. From being home I am reunited with my one-of-a-kind family, hometown best friends, and overweight guinea pig. I get amazing work done here, including 800 questions for my written pilot exam and thousands of words for a new romance novel. Being home reminds me of who I am, truly, deeply in my core; it reminds me of what I was and how far I’ve come. It inspires me to stay true to my values, and not to wrap myself in the what-ifs of my life in California.

Home. A place some never get the chance to see again.

I pray for the family of Alaina Housley and the countless people who were displaced, injured, and lost their homes due to the Woolsey Fire. I cannot begin to imagine the severity of the Camp Fire in Northern California, where so many have lost their lives and livelihoods.

Therefore, it is times like these that should remind us all of the good things that we take for granted. I need to do a better job of remembering, because memory lasts with us much longer than the present.

Hopefully my next post will be a little more light-hearted. 🙂

Until next time,

-K.

 

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HOME! Fayette County, TN (Summer 2018) At this time of the year, the leaves are in full-blown glory: Crimson, vermillion, butter yellow, the whole nine yards.