Thursday, January 24, 2019

why you should take a solo road trip... annually

It's been four months since I took my most recent solo road trip... and I'm just now writing about it. I was worried that if I waited, I wouldn't have that same elated feeling that I had when I got back... but going through my pictures is bringing it back and reviving me all over again. 

I've done a solo road trip before; I drove down the California coast when I was going through a break-up or few. It was so therapeutic and life changing in ways that I thought I could never redo a trip like that. 

I was wrong. 

When you travel alone, there are things that happen that have taken me a couple months to really reflect on and realize and now I'm ready to tell you why you should do it. 

Let it be known- it's going to be scary. The days leading up to this trip, it was kinda hard for me to talk about it or plan a whole lot. I didn't know if I was going to be able to do this again. There were a lot of thoughts like "do I really have to do this again?" and "maybe I should just see what friends I can meet up with along the way." The truth is- I could EASILY do it again, and I didn't need any plans, friends, or safety blankets to help me out. 

So, reason #1- You'll conquer some fears. 

When I decided to book this trip, I knew I was in some sort of funk that I needed to kick before I got to the iHeartRadio Music Festival. I've always been proud to be fiercely independent, but after moving in with the bf, I quickly built up a lot of dependency on him. He helps me find everything I lost, calms me down when I'm over-stressing and working myself, and gives me that comfort of not being alone. Somehow I had subconsciously let myself think that I couldn't do things without him anymore. Honestly, this made me hate myself. Of course it's nice to have that person to help you out, but everyone should have some independence in a relationship... and if you're anything like me, you have to find a lot of ways to remain your independent, self serving person while keeping the relationship happy. [Let me know if you have any real secrets or tips for that, btw.] As soon as I had my first meal out and alone, while talking to the bartender, I realized I hadn't "lost myself," she was just put on a back burner. 

Reason #2- You will empower yourself and ignite independence and strength.A lot of people immediately ask "but where do you eat?" when I tell them about a solo trip. What do you mean where do I eat? I eat at whatever bar or restaurant Yelp and Facebook suggest to me, duh. I typically sit at a bar, so I can talk to the bartender, other solo visitors, or my phone. There's no pressure to talk or not talk, but the option is there if you want it. It's brilliant, and far less awkward than it feels when you arrive at a place before all your other friends and you're impatiently waiting on them. The best part- 

Reason #3- You can eat wherever you want. Order as much food or drinks as you want. No splitting checks, and no judgment. 

That "no judgment" thing is big. I think one of the biggest issues people have with solo trips is worrying about what other people will think about them doing everything alone. Let me tell you what they'll think- the same thing you're [probably, hopefully] thinking right now- that's badass. Bartenders high fived me, and fellow hikers offered to help with pictures, then literally applaused or said "oh WOW!!" when they saw I already had the photos under control. [I would set up my GoPro on a tripod, then look at it/control it from an app on my phone.]  People at the hotels and hostels were welcoming and helpful and friendly [although I was a little nervous to tell some of them I was staying alone.. but it ended up being nbd]. When's the last time you didn't care about what people thought about you? Unfortunately, it's not often enough for me anymore.

Reason #4- You'll realize the world really doesn't give a f#@% about what you're doing... and it'll free your mind to also not care about what your self is doing. 

Speaking of other people... when you plan a trip with others, whether it be one or ten other people, you have to plan things with them. Where do they wanna stay? What's their budget? When do they wanna be there or leave or move on? Do they even wanna commit to a trip? It's exhausting. You know what's not?

Reason #5- You get to live on your own time and on your own budget. Your plans can change whenever you want them to. There's no one to answer to. 

Something else that's in your control- what you listen to along the road trip. After reading "my Bible" on my last road trip, I decided to try some books on tape to give me that same feel. [What I didn't realize before this trip is that it wasn't just the book that changed me in California.. it was the whole experience.] I listened to "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" and "Creativity, Inc" to help revive my brain and give me some real therapeutic thoughts. Maybe you'll want a podcast, or music blasting as you sing along.. or, get all of the above.

Reason #6- The time you'll have with yourself and the road is magical. You can let your mind go wild and the scenery will [hopefully] make it all okay. 

I kept setting my GoPro on the dash because the views were unbelievable. A lot of them are still on my Insta Highlights.

THE ULTIMATE REASON: You will come back invigorated, confident, excited to share everything with everyone you know, and ready to take on anything in this world.

I should clarify why I specifically say road trip and not just any solo trip. When you're alone, you need to stay active so that you don't feel that lonely factor. The more I discovered, the more badass I felt. The more I traveled, the more I learned... about the world and myself. I can't imagine going to a beach resort or one city for a couple days by myself. As much as I love a good drink and meal, I don't want to be drunk trying to explore my way home. I also don't want to just sleep on the beach alone all day. Booorriinnggg.

So my trip started in Denver, went through Utah, and ended in Las Vegas. It was only four days alone, but I wanted at least one or two more by the time I got to Vegas and had to answer to people again. Three days would be enough to get all of this goodness, I think.. and is a fair place to start for those
who are a little worried. And maybe "annually" is a ridiculous goal, but it's what I'm going to aim for. There's no reason for me to put something so beneficial to my life and health off. Maybe it won't always include National Parks, a full week away, a plane ride to my first destination, or my sweet minivan named Bonnie... but I'll always try to make some time for myself.

Now that I've gotten into all of this again, expect some details about each place that I stopped [and all of the amazing places I got to stay as a solo traveler] in the next couple weeks. Maybe you'll be ready to book something for you and yourself by then, too.


Monday, October 29, 2018

halloween 2018: how i made my imagine dragons costume

I. LOVE. HALLOWEEN. I know I've said this before. Every year I spend months coming up with an idea, then buying entirely too many things to make it work. I try everything on over the course of a couple weeks and am ready to go on Halloween. 
Not this year. This year I came up with an idea a couple weeks ago, and started ordering things last week. It all arrive on Thursday and I put it together for the first time Saturday morning, a couple hours before my Farmoween Halloween party. The panic kicked in immediately and was very real. Nothing worked in real life like it did in my head. 
I was going to be Imagine Dragons. They have been all over the radio this year and I finally got to see them in concert, so it fits my rule of something having to do with my life that year. I'd be this fun colorful dragon and then I'd have a thought bubble that was dry/erase so people could be hilarious and draw things that I'm imagining. 
Problem one: I didn't know what a dragon looked like. 
I did some research on the Google machine and decided it's a lizard with wings. Instead of painting an entire bodysuit like I did the past two years, I bought one. Didn't try it on, just felt good about a medium. [Note: a medium was not good. It was way too tight.]

Problem two: There were zero tails that matched my bodysuit. 
In my head, this was no issue. I'd buy any random tail and spray paint it to match. I never thought about the fact that there is no paint that is holographic like my bodysuit was. I bought a holographic green tail, and ended up painting dark purple over it. It actually worked better than I thought when I started painting.
Problem three: Getting the thought bubble on. 
I had seen thought bubble headbands on Amazon, but they weren't Prime, so I ordered some random thought bubble magnet thing. It was so damn heavy. Thanks to my dad, mom, and boyfriend, we figured out how to peel off the dry/erase layer, glued that to some foam board, then glued all of it to a wire hanger that we wrapped around a very tight headband. With 3 minutes left until I had to leave, it seemed pretty sturdy. I hot glued some nice demon horns on there for extra scary dragon effect.
Problem four: How to do my make-up
Maybe this isn't a problem... this is probably the most exciting part of Halloween now. It helps me feel girly even if I look ridiculous in my costume. I found this tutorial on dragon make-up, bought a dragon scale make-up stencil [turns out that's a thing, I guess], and got to work. I just held the stencil on my face and used a contour brush to put about 5 shades of teal, purple, and blue on my face. It turned out to be much easier than I imagined, and I'm obsessed with it. 

I had other problems like forgetting my wings at home and having to send the other Dragon back to get them, and my shirt constantly hanging out underneath, my other Dragon having a giant costume head that was impossible to stick the thought bubble onto, not having any good shoes, and a lack of people wanting to draw on my thought bubble, but overall- it came together and I'm good with it. Maybe not my best Halloween costume, but it'll do. 
I mean, Instagram likes aren't adding up like I'd like them to, but life isn't all about the likes... right?... 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

photo diary: adventures in costa rica

One of the trendiest places to travel to right now: Costa Rica. I'm a follower not a leader in travel so I jumped on that bandwagon, too. 

*I say I'm a follower with traveling because it is so much easier to get recommendations from friends on Facebook before going than to go blind and probably spend too much money on everything.*

I'm pretty sure AirBNB deserves the credit for making the country trendy. They've regularly featured treehouses with monkeys or just really chill vibes, then steer you towards the beautiful beaches and jungles and dayum- it looks lovely. 

My plan was to have a bunch of friends get a big house for $150/night and a private chef [they have so many cheap options] but getting adult friends to commit is nearly impossible, even though we finally have our own money to spend. We ended up going with another couple and getting my first ever all inclusive experience.

All-inclusive is bittersweet to me. You can get a really good deal, drink unlimited beverages, get four plates of food at every meal, and have lovely pool time... but you also feel obligated to stay there and not explore. Luckily, I think we spent our time pretty wisely. 

Our resort: DoubleTree in Puntarenas
Cost: $327 per person for four nights

The resort was right on the beach, with seemingly nothing else around. The beach had mostly black sand, and large volcanic rocks at the shore. Because of the rocks and the waves, we weren't allowed to swim in it. I tried to be a mf rebel and do it anyway, but having fist-size rocks come hurdling at your ankles isn't fun for more than .7 seconds. They were fun to look through, though. They had such fun colors and shapes and I planned on bringing them back to show everyone, but TSA stole them out of my carry on bag. WTF. 

It's one of those rare beaches that is not photogenic at all... but it's pretty cool when you're there in person.

We woke up every morning by 7:30 to eat breakfast and be at the pool by 8am. It was strangely easy. It might have been the fact that I was on a mission to try every drink on the menu, but no one can confirm. We wanted to soak up that sun before heading to the jungles. 

Important thing to realize: While different locations in Costa Rica are technically close, the roads are insanely windy and it took us three hours to get to the mountains and volcanoes from the beach. 

Adventure #1- Lake Arenal area. I, once again, had starred everything I found on Pinterest that I wanted to try and see. There were 15+ things and I had to narrow it down to what was easy to do in one day.. on Friday the 13th. We chose La Fortuna Waterfall and Tabacon Hot Springs. 

The drive there proved to be terrifying. The roads are narrow and windy, and trucks are zipping around and crossing over lines like it's nothing. When we got towards the top of the mountain, the fog was so thick we couldn't see five feet in front of us. The man kept driving while I crouched behind the seat in the back, not wanting to see our death happen.

Also, if you refuse to give a homeless person money on the road, they'll know where you come from and they'll hit your window and give you the middle finger. Stand your ground, okay?

I will say, though... it's all worth it. There's so much to look at everywhere you go.

La Fortuna is really easy to make happen, assuming you can handle going down 514 steps, and then back up when you're done. You just pay $15 a person at the entrance of the park and go. It's worth it. It was huge, and you don't have to spend too much time there, but it's still nice to see.

250 feet top to bottom of the waterfall, and a nice hang out/wading area to the side.
From Fortuna, Tabacon Hot Springs are only about twenty quick minutes. We GPS'ed to a resort, but after parking along the street, they sent us back to some little trail that went down to the hot springs that felt like a hot urban oasis in the jungle. There was graffiti and cement, but also fallen trees, mossy stone steps, and natural round hot tubs.

We spent under an hour here, but you could easily spend half a day and be happy. Besides the man who may have been on drugs and was just floating around, everyone was chillin, minding their business, and probably posted up there for a few hours.

If you're a photographer- it's a dream place for a photoshoot with all sorts of backgrounds/scenes. I had all of these great ideas for brilliant pics but they didn't work out in my favor. I'm sure you could really kill it, though.

Because of the earlier foggy drive, we didn't want to risk driving the same way or in the dark, so I found Costa Rica's first craft brewery along the other side of the lake that only added about 10 minutes to our route, but gave us a completely different drive and views of every angle of the lake.

views of the water and of beers. 

For adventure #2, we had to go ziplining. Again, my original plan was changed because of convenience, but I'm not upset with how it turned out. Instead of going back to the mountains and doing an above-the-trees course, we did one through the trees and over smaller waterfalls that was thirty minutes away- Adventure Park.

We lucked out in getting a tour without anyone else [1:00 on a Saturday], which was a real game changer. No waiting, no unfamiliar faces in our photos... it might change the way I think about paying extra for a private tour in the future.

My face on the right does not accurately portray how fun I thought it was. 

They also let us swim in a little waterfall/pool for a while, which again, was extra great with it only being the four of us. One of our guides even got fancy with his pictures he took of us. That leaf adds SO much privacy, amiright?! 

At night, it was vacation-business as usual- dinner, drinks, dancing... and some really extravagant shows that I hope you saw glimpses of on my Instagram story. At one point, the two of us ended up becoming the stars of the show. *shocker* My drunk and ADD mind could not focus on lines though and I don't think the show runners appreciated that.

If you're thinking of going to Costa Rica, DO IT. You can easily do a full week if you're driving to stay in different places every two days. That would be the only thing I'll do differently next time I go- don't stay in one place the entire time you're there.

Also learned:

  • When it comes to the food- don't expect spicy. I was surprised to find out that Costa Ricans hate spicy food, but it's all very flavorful, with a bit more sweet than spice. 
  • They don't have a military, and I find that to be very cool. They're also very proud. 
  • The people who work in tourism seem to have a much better quality of life than those who don't... and the tourism workers know how to help you out [with hopes of a tip].
  • Sloths and monkeys aren't going to be everywhere like they suggest... at least not in regularly traveled paths. We saw exactly zero sloths, and the only monkeys we saw were at the Monkey House. 

Now, because it wouldn't be a vacation post without a handstand pic, there's this one from the hot springs. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

visiting a monkey house in costa rica

I sat down to start writing my Costa Rica blog when I realized there was one part of the trip that absolutely deserves its own post... and also deserves the first post. Our trip to a "monkey house."

There was really one main reason we wanted to go to Costa Rica- in all of the pictures I've seen, there have been monkeys running around like squirrels. When I did more research, I realized that's an internet thing and not necessarily a real thing you can expect. After even more research, I really couldn't decide where to go to make sure I was able to touch a monkey. 

We decided to talk to one of those people who try to make you spend way too much for some excursion at a hotel and said to cut the BS- all we care about are some monkeys. He told us to meet a cab driver who would take us to a place five minutes away... the "monkey house."

This guy, Chino, took us through a neighborhood while we all thought we were definitely getting scammed and probably doomed, then ended up in someone's yard who had dozens of monkeys running around. It was literally someone's house who grew fruit that the monkeys loved. Nothing official, nothing you can find on the Internet.

The Monkey House yard

Chino grabbed us some bananas, told us to stand by the tree holding them, and BAM, just like that- monkeys were running up to us, on us, grabbing the bananas, and being much more friendly than even I could imagine. If you know one important thing about me, it's that only two things can make me smile on a rough day: doing gymnastics, and watching monkey videos. I was in Heaven. 

Not gonna lie, I was scared, but so happy, amazed, and just everything. 

They loved selfies, gave serious side eye, and even straight chilled on us.
There's no such thing as too many monkey pictures so here are my favorites. 
 Unfortunately, there's an unhappy but hilarious way this story ends, my friends.

We were warned from the beginning to stay away from the "alpha" monkey. It was obvious which one he was. He watched from afar and had a bigger "beard" than the rest. If he got upset, we'd be in trouble with wild animals.

At one point, there were four monkeys on my man. Two of them started fighting each other, and Alpha was not pumped about that. He must have ran from 50 yards away to attack his leg, start screaming very loudly, then run back. It was so quick none of us really knew what had happened, but he had a scratch on his leg and a really small puncture. Chino and his friend did some of their Costa Rican witchcraft [pouring alcohol on it], acted like it was nbd, and kept handing us bananas.

Uhhh, I think I'm done here.

Two of them, neither one the Alpha, were inseparable from each other, and making this face:

Chino: "Oh they're smiling!"
All of us: Uhhh, you have a different idea of smiling than we do."

We took a few more pictures [because priorities], left, had some drinks, and decided to worry about whether or not it was a real issue later. 

Everything has been fine for him, but the next day we heard a different story from Chino when we saw him in the lobby. Another man he took to the house had worn a hat that the monkey took off his head. When he went to steal it back, monkey was not happy. Monkey fought back. Human went to hospital for stitches. 

So... if you're going to be in the Puntarenas area like we were... think about how badass you feel that day. Are you too scared or are you ready to take a risk? Are you ready to fight a monkey for a hat? We need you somewhere between those things. Fighting a monkey is bad. Do not go find Chino for the Monkey House if you think a hat is important. Stay in your hotel. Go get a pina colada.. and then still stay there even when it may seem like a good idea again.

More on Costa Rica very soon.


PS I made that very dramatic graphic for Pinterest purposes, of course. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

listen: what it's like to be a redskins cheerleader

Holy CRAZY life on the show lately! My "Exposed" segment has been taking off and I've been having all sorts of artists on my show/podcast lately and it has been feeling so good!

Beyond musicians though, I love talking to people who do other things that may be a little in the spotlight or at least a combination of known and mysterious.

Like... how about Redskins Cheerleaders?!

Two of them came into my show the other day thinking we'd do some quick live thing
promoting their upcoming auditions, but I had more plans. I wanted to pick their brains... find out about their lives and expectations and everything there is! For the first time in a while, I knew I didn't have to write down questions because I'd just be so genuinely interested.. but I did write some of them down after the fact.
  • What does it take to be on the team?
  • How much time/effort does it take during the week?
  • How much do they get paid?
  • What else do they do with their lives?
  • What's a game day like?
  • Do they have friendships or any sort of relationship with players?
  • How do they make sure they stand out among the cheerleaders on the field? 

There are a lot of giggles and us being girls, but that's what happens when you're vibing right?! Listen to the fun with Candess and Javai:

Listen to "What does it take to be a First Lady of Football?" on Spreaker.

Also, check out their beauty:

A post shared by CANDESS 🍭 (@candesscee) on

A post shared by WRC Javai (@wrc_javai) on

I guess this means I have some new besties on the field to call upon for an extra special good time next season?! *fingers crossed*