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. (Hāwī, 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 (Hāwī, 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 Hõnaunau 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 Hõnaunau National Park (South Kona)

After Black Sands, we headed to Pu’uhonua O Hõnaunau National Park in order to learn more about Hawaiian culture. Pu’uhonua O Hõnaunau 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 Hõnaunau 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)
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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.

q&a

HELLO AGAIN: Q & A

Hi, my wonderful readers!

I’m so sorry to have been incognito in these past few weeks. A lot of great things have happened, and I will be writing a blog post on that for Monday. Please know that I have missed my blog so much, and especially hearing from you guys! It gives me great joy to be able to connect to so many different people across the globe, as you guys are truly amazing. ❤

Since it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, I decided to do another Q & A, since I haven’t done one in a long time. This gives you guys a chance to get to know me better, and I really do enjoy answering some of these ridiculous questions.

I hope you are all doing well, and I am looking forward to reading your blog posts as well. Without further ado, though, let’s get into the Q & A!

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Malibu, CA (March 2019) When am I not wearing tennis shoes?

1. Read on a Kindle or paperback book?

Paperbacks are the best in my opinion. There is no greater feeling that having a book in your hands, the pages glimpses into the soul of the writer. I love old books too, the ones you get from a used bookstore, because I feel as if I am connecting to not only the author, but any previous readers too. That being said, I do have a Kindle, and it is a convenient method to reading popular novels.

2. Go to a play or musical?

Though I am in love with music, I have never been big into musicals or plays. I am very much a movie person, but plays and musicals have never been my schtick. My friends will make fun of me for how much I’m not into musicals, though there are good ones here and there.

3. Go to the theater or a movie?

Definitely the movies. I am obsessed with film, and I always have been. I can attribute this to my dad’s love of movies too, as I grew up watching the classics with him. Another fond memory of mine is Friday family movie nights, where I’d pop some cheesy popcorn, pick out a movie, and critique like Roeper. Even now I am addicted to movies. Back home it is an absolute joy to forget the world, hop into the air conditioned theater, and pretend for a while. At college my friends and I hop aboard $5 Tuesday movie nights at AMC so that we can see the newest releases on a budget, since movies are so expensive these days. Just this past Tuesday I saw Pet Sematary, the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller.

4. Have a Margarita or Pina Colada?

Diet Coke. 😉

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BLAST FROM THE PAST! (August 2015) Random pictures with my guinea pig

5. Crash with friends or stay in a hotel?

I honestly have no idea what this question is. I love staying at people’s homes, since it is such a personal experience, but at times I’m an introvert who craves the peaceful aura of  a hotel. I have the travel bug, so I’ve stayed at countless hotels, motels, Airbnbs, hostels, and cabins in the past few years. I’ve found that one method isn’t better than another; it’s who you’re with that matters.

6. Visit Europe or Mexico?

I have never been to either. I spent a year abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, so I’d probably go to Europe if I had the chance. And there isn’t just one country I could go to; I’d want to see them all!

7. Vacation in Hawaii or Alaska, and why?

Both. I think both states are incredible, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I think Hawaii would be a great family trip, whereas Alaska would be something I’d want to do with hikers and outdoorsy individuals. I’m not sure I could pick between the two.

8. Choose a free trip or money? This may tell you whether the person values experiences over dollars.

This is a weird question. I think I’d have to know where the free trip would be, and how much money I am being offered. If someone handed me a thousand dollars, a good portion of that money would be going to travel anyway, if we’re being honest. Though I am a broke college kid right now, I know that a big portion of my future income will go to exploration of this amazing planet!

9. Travel by plane, train, or automobile?

Plane. 😉

10. Go climbing or zip lining?

Probably zip lining. I have done rock climbing once, and it was so much fun. However, I zip lined in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and it was so incredible to whoosh down a mountain. My heart wanted to burst out of my chest, but it was such an unforgettable experience, and I would love to do it again.

11. Hike or bike?

Hike. Though biking is fun too, I enjoy a nice hike now and then. While I’m not a fan of extended, rigorous hiking, I do love getting lost in some wilderness and walking through forests and deserts and the beautiful world in which we live. This is something else I inherited from my dad, as we both value National Parks here in my home country of the United States.

12. Go to a comedy club or dance club?

I’d prefer to stay at home with a book (LOL). If I had to choose between the two, it would depend on 1) with whom I’m going, and 2) what kind of a comedy/dance club we’d be going to. So many comedians are too crude for my liking, and so many dance clubs aren’t my cup of my tea. I like dancing, but I’ve had some bad experiences at clubs in the past, so I’d probably choose a comedy club.

13. Have a night out or evening in?

It depends on what the night out would entail. I love going out to movies and grabbing a good dinner, but I’m an early bird who prefers seeing the world in the daytime. That being said, I’m an adventurer who wants to really dive in deep to the place she lives. Living in Los Angeles has given me so many opportunities to see and do things I would never have the chance to do otherwise, and many of those experiences are more memorable because it happened at nighttime. So… Another response in which I say I am not sure I can choose.

14. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I’m not sure there is a specific statement that has changed my life, but I can give examples of ethic that have been key pieces of advice for my life. My parents instilled hard work into my brain from an early age on, and I have learned to set goals for myself that are realistic but will propel me to where I want to go.

15. Go canoeing or waterskiing?

I’ve never been waterskiing, and my canoeing skills are quite limited. One time I almost died while kayaking, so there was that situation. (While I’d like to think this is an understatement, it was a very tense moment during my freshman year of college.) That being said, I’d love to try out waterskiing, but I really do enjoy canoeing. A great memory I have is of canoeing on an Ohio river with my cousins while trying not to A) encounter a snake, or B) topple us over.

16. Camp in an RV or stay in a tent?

While I do consider myself an outdoorsy person, I’m not the biggest fan of tents. I like air conditioning and heat and running water. While an RV isn’t the best lodging in my opinion, I wouldn’t mind taking an RV across the country.

17. Use Facebook or Twitter?

Neither. I’m not big into social media. The only reason I have a Facebook is for college purposes, and the only reason I use Twitter is to network with the writing community. Instagram is a waste of time in my opinion, whereas I do use Snapchat.

18. Win the lottery or find your perfect job?

Perfect job. While money can buy some happiness, I’m looking for joy, and I know joy comes from long-lasting things.

19. Swim in a pool or the ocean? Salt water and waves crashing on the beach or temperature controlled, lovely water all year round.

Ocean! I’ve never been really big into swimming, but I do enjoy hopping into the sea now and then. I love hopping on a bodyboard and pretending I can surf, when I have the gracefulness of a newborn giraffe.

20. Travel by sailboat or cruise ship?

I’ve never been on either, so I’m not sure I could accurately choose!

21. What’s your favorite candle scent?

Anything fall scented! There is nothing more I miss than a good Southern autumn, since I haven’t had one in three years. I love when the leaves start to change color, from a deep emerald to bright scarlet or orange. I love corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and the crisp weather. And when it becomes fall, I always bring out my favorite fall candles.


THANK YOU.

Well, only 21 questions today. I promise to get back into the rhythm of two posts a week, and I’m excited to do so, because I have so much to update you guys on. But in the meantime I hope you all have a wonderful Friday! ❤

Until next time,

-K.

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Malibu, CA (March 2019)
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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Iguazú 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? Iguazú is your place.

Hidden in the jungles bordering Argentina and Brazil, Iguazú 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.

Iguazú 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 Iguazú, 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, Iguazú 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 Iguazú someday.

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Iguazú 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?
writing

4 reasons why I write

We want our heroes to reflect our best qualities, and our villains our worst.

Hello, my friendly readers!

Today I have decided to do a post relating to writing, since I really haven’t done one in a while. While I love sharing aspects of my life with you all, I think it is important to remember the focus of this blog, which is my passion for writing.

Therefore, I thought it would be a little fun to dig into some of my favorite parts of being a writer.


1. A TROPICAL LITTLE GETAWAY…

The thing about writing is that it can be your cheapest vacation possible. If I have the desperate inkling to hike a Romanian cliff, then I can look up a picture online, do a little investigating into the culture and area of the world, and bam, write a story about it–all without spending the thousands of dollars to actually get there.

Writing is a whole lot like this simple example. You want a magical, one-of-a-kind bachelor to fall in love with a spastic heroine? Write it up. Sick of gritty, trashy movies Hollywood produces? Write up your own script. Show who you are, find what you’re about, and listen to what you want to see in the world.

A crucial aspect of this field is that you are, and maybe unintentionally, fleshing out part of your soul for the world to read: Your hopes, your dreams, your goals. Even if you’re writing a cheesy romance, there’s still something deeply personal about the work in relation to its writer.

This past summer, I wanted a tropical vacation. I wanted to go to a beachy paradise, soak in the sun, and dip my toes into warm Caribbean water. Since I’m a jobless college student, there was no way I could afford to hop on a plane to George Town… So I wrote about it instead. I watched informational videos, read tourist reviews, and wrote part of a book set there.

As some of you know by now, I’m all for a good deal, and writing’s the best form of travel.

The Cayman Islands (a partial setting for The Third Wheel) Credit: offshoreaccountingjobs.com

2. WHAT IS REALITY? WHAT IS FICTION?

A writer is lying if he or she says that everything he or she writes is fiction. This is a basic premise to my belief that, for the most part, writers can be selfish when it comes to characters. We want our heroes to reflect our best qualities, and our villains to reflect our worst.

It’s a psychological game, and it’s always fun to go back and read old material for comparison’s sake. It can be painfully embarrassing too, because writing really does tear back the skin and reveal the bones of who you are.

Let’s do something a little off-kilter and look back at two  of my past principal characters.

ABIGAIL ROSS

The heroine of my latest novel, By the Skin of My Teeth, Abigail Ross is who I want to be. She’s a travel writer with six continents under her belt, a determined realist, and a seasoned individualist. She cares for others, but she’s also watching out for what others can do to her.

While Abigail has been one of my favorite characters to write thus far, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t write her without aspects of myself in mind. This is a very selfish thought process, but I like being honest with you as my reader. She also possesses similar flaws that I do, including her self-centered worldview, trusting personality, and fear of opening up to others.

MIRANDA FLORES

Miranda is the middle child and protagonist of my latest release, The Wedding Party. An organized, Type A personal assistant to a celebrity, Miranda is a successful woman who puts her energy into others. She is idealistic but grounded, speaks her mind and follows her plans, and determines her own fate.

When I wrote the The Flores Sisters Trilogy, I specifically wanted to write one of the sisters with a personality unlike mine. Miranda is very thorough, whereas I’m go with the flow. She’s put together and by the book, whereas I write the book. 😉 That being said, Miranda still possesses certain characteristics that mirror mine: She is afraid of being alone, she wants to protect her loved ones, etc.


3. WATCH THOSE SURROUNDINGS

People watching is an actual hobby, and I know a lot of folks love to do it. It’s always fun to sit down, throw your phone at a wall (maybe not this part), and lose yourself in your surroundings. You can go on a hike through the Santa Monica Mountains or sit in a library, and there’s enough material for fifty books in each locale.

Though I typically find my characters as I’m day dreaming, there have been moments where I’m people watching, and I see someone who has a sort of swagger that piques my interest. For example, I was in a Buenos Aires subway station when I saw a young woman with bright pink hair rush past me. For whatever reason, I was drawn to her spark, and I realized that just by seeing this real, living person, I could write a character based on the five seconds I’d seen her float by.

Another example relates to physical locations. Places can have just as much power as people. When I left college for California, I started writing about my home region, the American South. What once had only bored me and left me brittle was actually my favorite place to write about. Funny, right?

Your surroundings affect your writing. If you write in a dark closet, your thoughts will probably be a little darker than sprawling out on a beach towel in Florida.

I just love the ability to experience a place, and then write about it, so that it will stay with me eternally. And the same thing about characters, however weird that may sound.

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A swamp in North Mississippi

4. PASIÓN

For some of you, there was a bug that bit you, left its DNA in your cells. You know what I’m talking about: Writing is your passion.

And when something’s your passion, everything else is a bonus. Even if I couldn’t make up a vacation to the Cayman Islands, then whatever. I’d find whatever joy in another story that rooted itself in my brain.

This world has endless opportunity, endless potential. You can go out there and learn to fly; you can go out there and teach English or Swahili or Russian; you can go out there and do what you want. At least hopefully. And if you have the chance to do what you love, what is there to lose?

Your happiness, that’s what.

Until next time,

-K.

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A gorgeous strip of beach in Destin, Florida

 

 

travel

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)
updates

SUMMER’S END (update)

Well, my dear readers, it is that time of year…

Summer is coming to an end. (At least in the States, where school has started… Yet in the South, it’s still as humid as a nightmare and will be for quite some time.) This also means that I will be leaving home to head back to college. Though I love being at home so much, I am ready for the adventures this next year is sure to toss my way.

At the beginning of the summer, as soon as I got back from Argentina, I wrote a blog post titled  SUMMER’S HERE (and reality too) where I talked about my goals for the past three months. Therefore, I thought it would be a little fun to update you guys.


GOAL #1: BOOK SITCH

  1. My goal is to find an agent, send out my manuscripts to as many people as possible, to gain experience and to get my name out there.

  2. Also, I expect to write about two to three novels this summer. I hope I can fulfill that goal.

Well, as you guys know by now, I love writing/books. It’s actually a pretty strong addiction that destroys my wrists from all the typing and takes up a large chunk of my time. This summer, I was writing for… Well, if we’re being honest… I was writing about four-to-five hours a day.

Writing this much can be great, but it can also be very physically and emotionally deteriorating, because I will admit–I am a workaholic when it comes to my stories. I am constantly planning the next book I want to write, whereas I need to focus more on the book I’m currently writing.

Before this turns into a winded rant, I will say that I am still looking for an agent, and I think that will be a goal for the foreseeable future. I am about to query for two novels I wrote this summer, and I will update you along the way.

To answer the second goal… I significantly challenged myself to write as much as possible, and I was able to crank out five books this summer. While this may seem ridiculous, it really is, but considering that I averaged between two and three thousand words a day, I still had time to edit these books as well.

Three of those novels are part of a romance trilogy I conceived abroad, while the other two are novels that took more of my time and creative juices. While I’d love to discuss more about these books, that will probably be a separate blog post so I don’t ramble forever and ever. That being said, I am very excited with one of my projects, and I can’t wait to write about it. Soon, I promise! 🙂


GOAL #2: PLANE SITCH

When I was a kid, I always told people, “I want to be a pilot.”

At sixteen, I had my first flying lesson. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit to that path.

At nineteen (last summer), I bought a pilot book on learning the ropes of flying, and I became obsessed with it in Argentina. For all the classes in which I was learning nothing, my pilot book was able to give me new information, new knowledge, new insight.

At twenty, I hope to be flying.

Well, this is a goal that excites me beyond belief!

I’m also working on obtaining my private pilot license… More on that to come! Flying is truly amazing, though there is so much to learn and study. It is actually stimulating to be able to fly, and though I don’t want to hate on my college experience, I feel as if my experience flying versus working on my bachelor’s degree… Well, that would probably be an interesting blog post.

I’m at fifteen hours of flight time (forty hours is the requirement), and I think I’ll be able to get my license by December.


GOAL #3: MAKE MONEY (BUT MAKE THE MOST OUT OF MY TIME)

I only have two summers left before I graduate college and am expected to be a full-fledged adult. That means time is running out. However, I’ve still got time to pursue my passion (writing, of course), goals (a healthy bank account which will be destroyed by flying lessons), and creating long-lasting relationships.

Now that I’ve only got one summer left before the real world shows up at my doorstep, I’m excited. I have a plan. I know what I want to do, who I want to be, and how I can get there… And I know that things don’t exactly go by the book all the time. 😉

This summer has taught me that money is valuable, but time is even more so. Every day we get is one less day we have, and it’s crucial to make the most of the present. Some of my favorite memories of my summer are just snapshots of the most mundane situations: Laughing with friends and family; holding a paper copy of my book in my hands; jamming with my mom in the truck to ’80s salsa music.

Time  〉Money


So, there you have it, my summer in a nutshell. While some could see this as possibly very boring… Just a young chica writing, flying, and hanging out with family and friends… I think it was one of my favorite summers, because I got to do what I love with the people I love most.

Though this has centered on me, I’d like to shift the focus to you, my reader. You’ve got goals too, even if you haven’t put the pen to paper yet. Though I’m not typically a person to list things out, I’ve found that it is amazing to reflect on the seasons, and especially if you are a forgetful person like I am. Find your goals, and stick to them. Maybe you won’t make as much progress as you hope, but any progress is better than nothing at all.

Though this summer is ending, life isn’t. Go for whatever makes you happiest, and whatever makes you fly as high as you can go.

-K.

P.S. Here are a few of my favorite moments of this summer, because I’ll probably read this post a year from now and have forgotten most of these. 🙂

  • My final flight lesson for the summer with my instructor. We got to fly downtown, and I finally figured out how to land without killing us.
  • Taking pictures with one of my close friends who just got engaged!
  • Hanging out with my friends in Wisconsin and trying to pick up the Midwestern accent. I think I sound pretty neutral, but people tell me I’ve got a Southern voice. Bless their hearts!
  • Taking my sister to the library once a week.
  • On my flight to Baltimore, my mom was cross-stitching the whole time, and everyone enjoyed this. A pro tip for mending our divided world: Cross-stitchers unite!
  • Discovering the dream-pop band Beach House while driving my sister to and from school.
  • Finally learning how to decode what the heck ATC (air traffic control) is saying to me as I fly.
  • Reconnecting with old friends.
  • Connecting with new friends. 😉
  • FINDING OUT THAT I HAVE 61 AMAZING AND WONDERFUL WORDPRESS FOLLOWERS!!! A special shoutout to you guys. You make this such an enjoyable experience with your likes, comments, follows, and re-blogs. Thank you for spending some time on my blog. ♥
poetry

VOID (a poem)

 

VOID
 By Katie George

 

The cosmos haunt my mind like an infinity of twinkling ghosts.

My spirit is plagued by them, as their grace is so binding

It draws its captive in, a vacuum of eclectic energy.

Those stars call out, “Believe in something

Greater than yourself,” and yet I know

My soul is the one to decide.

My soul chooses like

Choice doesn’t

Exist.

Existence, yes,

Happens to be choice.

These stars are God’s wet tears,

I have decided, and yet I cannot tell if

The cosmic drops are the happy kind or sad.

I have just learned to thank those stars for time, as

Still when I—a living creature—blink up at them, I realize

Their burning spectral light shines even when they are dead.

 


an explanation.

I wrote this poem for a creative writing class in late 2016. Though I don’t typically write poetry, I enjoyed writing this one. My professor asked our class to work on a portfolio of poetry, and I was honestly pretty annoyed. My “specialty” (I feel like a total dork writing this out) is the novel, but I understood the point of assignment… And I’m thankful she exposed us to various mediums of writing, though I haven’t written a poem since that class.

For my portfolio, I decided to write five poems that revolved around the five elements. You may be thinking, aren’t there are only four elements? Well, I thought so too. I wrote my poems for earth, water, fire, and wind, and I wasn’t completely satisfied. Something was missing…

A few days later, I discovered there is actually a fifth element inJapanese philosophy (stemming from the Buddhist tradition), and that is void. Void relates to the energy we cannot see. Void is pure energy, and it is beyond what our normal day-to-day experience. Simply put, void is what makes us feel, what makes us create, what makes us thrive.

This poem isn’t a masterpiece. In fact, I didn’t put a lot of thought in it. I just knew I wanted its shape to be like that of an hourglass, and it needed to relate to the cosmos. Through those two requirements, this poem was born.

I hope you enjoy it, but don’t read too far into it. Though I love analyzing poetry and literature, there is something about reading it the first time before ruminating on each aching word.

Until next time,

-K. 🙂