Travels
Queen of Trades; Travel and Photography

Those of you who know me know that I am a runner. Those of you that don’t well now know that I run and by running I mean full on scale, race endorsing, three miler and more runner. Yes three miles. For some reason people seem to explode when I tell them that I do this form of exercise. Maybe it’s the idea that you are literally putting yourself out there and making yourself go through pain just to do the exercise. Maybe its that you have to do this multiple times a week just to keep up the workout and not restart every time you step outside your door. Maybe its because I am a female who Is running and throwing my whole body in the motion and yea I don’t look good doing it. Yes it hurts sometimes. Yes I have those moments where I don’t want to run.

The thing about doing anything new is that its not supped to be easy. Running is no different. If anything it is actually one of the harder sports out there because most of the time it requires you to be by yourself. Being alone means you have to mentally and physically keep yourself going. Control. Control is key in this sport that I participate in.

Control over yourself, your thoughts, your state and sometimes the idea of moving your body long distances while sweating and trying to breathe sounds terrible and way to hard for most. For me it was a challenge just to get this far and keep up with it. Getting this far always surprises me. I never saw myself as that person who could run a 5k (that’s three miles) in 26 minutes. I never saw myself like I see those women in magazines. You know the ones. The ones who are smiling, hair up and flying in the wind, full stride and light sweat overtaking the body. I.NEVER.Saw.that.Happening. Not a single day in my life did I imagine myself in that picture instead of that model or that athlete.

It’s a struggle everyday to tell yourself if your going to do that run or not. Even now I sit here wondering if I can actually do alright in this race but you know what always makes me move forward and do the run? The fact that I know I can do it and the fact that I would feel terrible If I stepped away now. I see myself being athletic, I love the high I get once the run is halfway though, I love the sweat since it shows off how hard I was working, I love that I am moving my body on my own accord to do something others find awful, I love that this now me.

I think that we have this idea that something is too hard and we back away once we try it once but the thing about life is that if doing something new was always easy then every one would do it. Every one doing the same thing, and being ABLE to do the same things sounds great in theory, until you really put it out there in detail. Why does anybody want anything to be easy? We would all be alike. We would all think the same. We would all be so boring to one another and be trying to come up with a "new" and creative way to do something but, even if we did everybody would already be able to do that.

Don’t ever limit yourself just because you think your size is too big, or you think it hurts too much, or that one time you tried you did terribly and it was embarrassing. Never let yourself stop doing something that is healthy for your body and for you. I run because I enjoy it. I run because it makes me healthy. I run because it always shows me that I can keep getting faster if I stick with it. I run because putting that distance between me and everybody else is exactly how I want it to be. I want to be able to run as far as I do and tell others that its not so bad once you get going. I want to be that example for those all ages, sizes, colors.

Success isn't always about business. Sometimes success is feeling good about what you do for yourself.



NOTICE! There is a new video on my Youtube channel! Go check it out! 

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Dear Passenger,


I just got back to my second home in Cartersville Georgia and I am bubbling with energy. Why? Well the reason is none other then you. I went to see you live for the first time and I have never felt like how I do now. The feeling is almost indescribable unless if you have experienced it yourself. Its almost like a soul touching feeling. I was maybe a couple rows from the front and I even met some new friends on this journey. With them beside me and conversing with me it just added icing on top of the cake so to speak.

See while you were making jokes about your song "Let Her Go" (and they were really good jokes) I couldn’t help but think of how awed I was at how interactive you were with all of us. Not many people who make it up in the music industry actually interact with the audience. You talking to us, joking, sharing stories, and just being real was such a huge thing and it made me feel like I was apart of something fantastic.

You have made so many wonderful songs that speak so many volumes to me. When Let Her go Came out I actually lost my best friend to an ex of mine. She was my perfect and ultimate friend. Someone who you cant replace in your life with just anybody. She was the one person who made me who I am today. In a way she molded me to be a person of character. I never saw myself as someone who was pretty or someone who could pull off tattoos, gauges, ear piercings, or anybody who could in general be interesting.She was the one who pushed me to be positive on myself and to be who I want to be. We were friends for two and a half years and I loved her all the way down to my bones. To her she's heard the story probably a thousand times from many different perspectives and she has moved forward and is in love and looking at a future with somebody at her side. It left me in the dark and alone. Even to this day I still feel that sadness inside but, thanks to you there was a little bit of light that stuck around. Originally she had introduced me to you and told me that I would like your music and that I should give it a go. So of course, I did and for a bit I wasn’t sure how to feel. It took a while of listening to your music to open up to the lyrics and get immersed in them.

Then when she was gone the song Let Her go really hit me hard. I don’t know how many times I have cried while listening to that song. I don’t know how many times I sang it until my throat was sore. I swear I lived off that song for such a long time. It helped me heal and as you released more songs it started to patch me up bit by bit. It was the same with Traveling Alone. I'm not sure what it was that caught me, maybe the title of the song and the relevance to my life as it is now or maybe it was the sound that hit me, to be honest I'm not sure. For me though it made me feel like things were finally moving forward in my life. Like I was doing so much better now then I ever have. I've found who I am over the past four years, I've started to grow more as I travel the world bit by bit and I've even started making friends out of strangers. To me that was all because your music gave a little bit of light I needed to let her go. To move onward and forward. I'm not healed completely or over it 100% but I am content with how I am and I am content with her not being there anymore. So I know this is cliché and you probably have read thousands of letters about how people were affected by your music and yea you may never ever read this but just know, I am forever grateful for that song Let Her Go.

So thank you for making music, it means I can continue to move forward and you were part of that process for me.

Sincerely,
A Stranger

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Before you read any further, did you read my post called Travelers Tips part 1? If not then you should stop now and go read the first five tips that I write about in my blog post where I tell you all about essential steps you need to do before you leave the house. I also have a YouTube video where I show you how to pack your bag and give you some fun commentary on the way. 

Now let’s get cracking. 

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So in my first post I talked about some things you can do to save money and making things easier on yourself for when you travel. This post I am going to go more in depth about how to save money and how important it is to make a budget for yourself. Money is always a problem to us while we travel and you want ways to save money while you prepare yourself for an adventure that you have been planning for months and months. So with that let’s begin with a priority to traveling, budget. 

Tip 6: Set up a budget: After you have all of your essentials done and ready to go and you have checked your vehicle for any problems that may lead to a break down and more money spending we then move towards how much you can spend. I usually do this step two days before I actually leave for the vacation itself. I do this so that I can take my time and look at the places I may want to go before I decide to just "wing it". I think about how much I am wanting to spend vs what I think I may spend. For me I usually being around $400 to $800 depending on how long the trip is. Now this amount of money being spent is from my experience of being gone for up to two weeks. As the years have gone by I have greatly reduced my spending costs so that it is in more of my favor and this way I have a higher chance of putting some of that money I took out back into my bank account. This budget is also balanced around me mostly traveling by myself so please think about how many people are going and build your budget around that accordingly. For my money I split it up usually into two categories. 

  • Category 1: Necessities: Gas, Food, Water, shelter
  • Category 2: Wanted Items: Shopping, souvenirs, lost and or forgotten items. 

Both of those categories have been shrunk down over the years and I have found that these are what I prefer to stick to when thinking about my destination. Usually I give myself about a $100- $200 budget when it comes to category 2. Now maybe you are more materialistic then I am but really I don’t need much from a destination. My usual buys when I am on vacation are usually buttons (like the ones that you can put on jackets and stuff), t-shirts, mugs, key chains, and maybe a little tiny model of the destination. Of course it does vary with every new destination but those are the most bought items every time I go somewhere. They are easy for me to show and they don’t take a lot of space. With all of that in mind it also makes it easier to use the rest of the money I have left over for the things I really need in Category 1. Normally people have an issue controlling the money when it comes to food. If you are one of those people who eat out Every.Single.Day. that you are out and your one of those people who needs to cut back. Spending money in a restaurant adds up quicker than just going to a dollar general and getting supplies to make your own food. I normally buy items to make a sandwich or if you are one of those people who just can’t cook and has to have someone prepare it for you then I suggest going to a cheap sub shop where you can get a sandwich made for you for about $5 give or take. Or you can go to some fast food stops and get the cheapest thing on their menu. Honestly just buying some items to make your own food will be more convenient and in the long run save you some cash. Maybe you will even find something that you never knew you would enjoy eating. 

The other big spender is usually gas. Recently have started using my credit card for my gas and that saves me $60 -$150 worth of gas when I am traveling. Now I can feel some of you doing the math in your head with that price range and the reason my price range on gas is in the $100 range is because of the type of car I have. When I travel I usually get about fifty miles to the gallon. It saves me time when it comes to stopping on a trip and it saves me money since I can go further without spending as much. If you are one of those people who has a car that isn’t as lucky then I suggest finding out how many miles to the gallon your car does and then doing little trips to figure out your price range and how much you do spend on gas. 

 

Tip 7: Safety: I find this one to be really important to me and I say that because I do travel alone when no one else wants to go with me. Safety can be in all forms. I do a series of things to make sure I am well equipped and so that if anything happens I can take care of myself and in the process save myself some money when it comes to possible  hospital bills. Now some of this may not apply to some of you and that’s ok. I am going to tell you guys some items I usually carry and how I handle myself when I am out in a new place. First I usually have a small knife in my car that is equipped with a seat belt cutter and a pointed end so that I can break a window in case if I get in an accident and need to get out of the vehicle immediately. Before you go to another state make sure that you check the laws on how long the knife has to be to be allowed for use. If you get pulled over for any reason you don’t want extra trouble on your hands which may cause you to get a bigger ticket then you were going to get or go to jail for something you can’t have in your car. Both cost money so always check before you pack one. The second thing I do is whenever I am going to a new location or to eat dinner with strangers I always text my father the address so he knows where I am just in case something does happen. Seems out there but honestly being safe is and having someone know where you are while you are away may save you someday. Last time I always tell people is to not text and drive. It’s the cliché of clichés but honestly it is so distracting and I have seen so many wrecks while I am out on the road. To prevent yourself from being distracted I usually turn on my gps and once I get to an area where I have to drive along a long stretch of road I turn off my screen so I don’t try and do other things on the internet while I drive. Then every hour I turn the screen back on to make sure I don’t miss the turn I need to make to get to my destination.

So those are only two tips for this one but two very important things to think about for when you do travel. I hope some of these tips do help you out in some way and make it easier on you when you travel. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer. 

 

 

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When I turned 18 I wanted to leave home so bad. I had just gotten let go from my job and I was finally An adult that could make my own decisions and nobody could stop me. So what did I do? I went and got a kitten. Yes a kitten that is now my baby. I got her from a home filled with all kinds of animals and for days I went to that house and played with one kitten out of the three litters that were around. She was so tiny but she was also quite a fighter. She loved shoulders and would often fall asleep on them. She liked jacket pockets and laying on your lap. As long as you were petting her she would fall asleep quickly. Eventually I managed to convince those that didn’t want to let her go. She kept coming to me every time I visited and they just knew it would be wrong to take away a human that the kitten had chosen. That day I left with a kitten in my lap as I drove and kept her warm. Instantly I was in love with her. She was so small and so cute. She stared at me the entire ride to the house and I knew that she was curious to the new life ahead of her. 

For a week I kept her in my home as I packed up the things I was going to take with me. I was leaving home for the first time, all by myself. I was excited and I knew that this was going to be quite the experience. The plan at the moment was to leave home and go live with my Grandmother up in Michigan where I would stay with her until I found a job and then from there I would move into my own apartment and once we were settled (the kitten and I) I would go back home and pack up the rest of my stuff and bam, I would have my own home, my own place and I even had my first pet. Little did I know that it wouldn’t work the way I wanted but, it started this endless thirst I have for adventure and travel. 

So of course I did what most people do when they are celebrating a new chapter in their life. Party. I partied with a couple of friends of mine and made sure to do what I could to leave with a bang. Fast forward to a week later and I am packed up, car is ready, kitten and litter box are loaded and I am on the road. A long, long road to Michigan where I had planned to start over. With my kitten in the passenger seat and the music set up to an unforgivable volume I drove like my life was worth a million bucks. Of course my kitten Cinnamon Spice was not very excited about this car ride and was making it clear with her verbal abuse as we drove. Taking it all in stride I just drove and talked to her about all kinds of things. Eventually she fell asleep to my voice and the persistence of NOT letting her out of her cage no matter how much she protested. 

Once we had made it to this "new destination" I got flooded with hugs from my cousin and kisses from my Grandmother. I then proceeded to take the bags down to the basement along with Spice since it was going to be where we were staying for the time being. We got comfortable and then two and a half months of glory and freedom were at my feet. For me it really started when we went to my cousin’s birthday party. We were camping out and of course, drinking like people do. While I was there I had my first taste of adulthood. I mean, being eighteen, just out of the house, surrounded by people who were from six months to five years older than me definitely made me feel like I was a part of the world. All these people around me became friends of mine during this chapter in my life and even now some still are ok. I won’t say I have stayed friendly with all of them but for the most part I have one or two that I still communicate with via the internet. But the party was loud, was filled quickly with most being drunk, swimming in the lake, eating hot dogs and hamburgers, and all of us just letting go of everything that was troubling us to have a good time. It was a real taste of being under no obligation to anything or anyone. It was the real world at my feet as well as in my new found party status. 

I will say that all the decisions I made that night are cringe worthy and questionable. In the situation I was in I would call it sort of like a runners high or a drunken stupor. It’s just when everything feels like its ok because you are making the decisions and not someone else so you of course do the things you wouldn’t have done before you became an adult since you think you know what you’re doing but really you don’t. That was most definitely my mind set when I was at that party. In a single night, I had made around ten new friends who were all terrible influences in my decision making, I had hooked up with a guy from the area, drank disgusting beer that can be described as horse******but it was cheap and a party so it was expected, I didn’t sleep for more than probably half an hour in total. Swam in a lake that was probably disgusting and full of all kinds of who knows what, and finally got influenced to take a hit off of a cig, Which was very weird and not for me. Yet I did all that in a single night without thinking of what would come after. Yet I also just didn’t care. Crazy how an age can make everything just flip in your mind. From child to adult we became two separate beings. From one of innocence to one of the unknown. 

The next day we all had to pack up and head home. Most of us hungover from the festivity but those sober enough got to drive. I knew right then and there that something had been flipped in me as a person. People say that eighteen is the age where everything just slips and changes. I agree with the statement and I do think that it is eye opening when you have all these decisions to make and nobody else to take the blame if anything goes wrong except for you because you are now responsible for what you decide. Those two and a half months taught me a lot about who I am as a person and how people viewed me as an "adult". There was so much judgment from so many people and there was so much that I didn’t know like I do now. Yet that is the whole point of having that first taste of freedom. It’s supposed to tell you who you are as a person. It’s supposed to show you what you do when you are faced with real world problems. For me it was an eye opener to what I wanted. It opened a door for me that I didn’t even imagine was possible. A shy girl who almost always wanted to be alone as a child became this person who now seeks and wants the adventure. It made me do almost a complete 360 from who I was to who I am. 

If you haven’t had that first taste of freedom yet, I am sure you will sometime soon in your lifetime but tread lightly for it can either make you or break you. 

 

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Some of the traveling I have experienced is what I consider to be a luxury level of traveling. When I was younger we used to go on cruises all the time. It got to the point where we are gold members on one specific cruise line. Royal Caribbean. I remember all the cruises we went on and when I was younger it was more of a way to just get away from home and to shop in new places. There wasn’t a lot of exploring on these islands and I couldn’t drink since I was around the ages of 10 - 13 at the time. It’s still some of the best memories I have from my childhood, I mean I met all kinds of people from all over the world, I got unlimited ice cream, unlimited food at the buffet, and there was always, always, always an arcade. Which of course with an arcade comes some rivalry. My father and I used to play air hockey all the time and we both are so aggressive during the game that we send the puck literally flying  off the table. Talk about a good and dangerous game to watch. It actually made me champion in the "air hockey leagues" when I used to be on the ships all the time. I beat all these boys at air hockey and its actually one of the things that I hold to heart weirdly enough. To be honest for a twelve year old girl to beat five or six guys back to back was awesome. It felt like something that was so amazing that I held onto it for years. 

I will say that because of my "training" with my father it gave me the advantage but hey, you don’t tell your opponents how you’re so good at something like air hockey. 

But after all of the cruising we did it suddenly, stopped. I think the both of us had just gotten caught up in the world of politics, traveling parts of the U.S, going to Disney World (yes Disney was one of the most visited places for us to), and focusing on school more and more for me. It was a full six years since we had last cruised and in December of 2016 we decided to go on another cruise. It was due to mostly me wanting to go honestly. I mean six years without going is a good excuse in my book to give it another go. Not only that but we had decided to pick at least one place where I was legal to drink. What was that place you ask? Cozumel. The place of gigantic slushy drinks with amazing amounts of tequila in them. Yes oh yes, I may be small but tequila is something I can drink without feeling the effects for hours. Now as much as I would love to give you the day by day synopsis of this wonderful cruise to the point of when we actually arrived on Cozumel, I am just gonna start us on the part where we are in port in Cozumel and were sitting up on the twelve deck drinking some coffee. See we had a plan that day. We were gonna get off the boat an hour before the tour we signed up for started and get a DRINK. yes, right off the bat at nine in the morning on an island in the ocean I was going to consume alcohol at nine A.M. I felt like the world had just delivered a golden prize at my door step. Once I was off the boat I was legal. 

Now of course were gonna cut to the point where we are through the "customs" on the boat, and we are all the way down the port and searching for a bar. Quickly it was located and we sat our happy asses down to look at the monstrous menu of drinks that to me seemed like mostly gibberish. Oh but wait, I had my father who seemed to be beaming at the idea of buying my first legal drink at the age of nineteen. With his guidance we ordered a strawberry margarita. The ultimate slushy of goodness and a portal to the other world of drunk land. Pictures were taken, and the drink was drunk. To be honest the memory is a little fuzzy on if we had a second one or if it was the one before the tour started. I just know that once we had our drinks it was like the portal to happiness had arrived. It also made the tour more interesting. We had signed up for a tour of the Mayan ruins that resided on the island. The description seemed very intriguing and I honestly do love hearing about different cultures while seeing parts of it with my own eyes. 

We had boarded the bus and got to listening to our tour guide talk about how the island came to be, where the Mayans came from, What the island meant to them, and of course the history about what happened. Turns out that Cozumel was an island for royalty. They came across the ocean to the island for marriages, funerals, a new ruler, Births, etc. People of only royal blood had a chance to come to the island. Once they got there they hiked along a path that lead to the center of the island. Before they could step foot on the holy grounds (after the hike of course) they had to leave an offering at the entrance which just so happened to be worshiping the cycle of the moon and once they entered the holy ground they mainly worshiped the Moon Goddess. They did all kinds of ceremonies and the area showed places where the royals lived, where they did steam baths for the women so that they were "more likely to get pregnant". yea...You just read that. They had women sit in a steam bath for about twelve hours before the "union" of the pair so that it was more likely for her to get pregnant and bestow them with another leader. Some things that they did were mind boggling but they were also very smart. They had walkways and not just any walkways, ones made from rock, put together so precisely that it once was flat. They made all their structures by hand and used the resources around them. To some it seems that the practice they used was over the top but I could understand where they were coming from as a religion. I mean they went from what they knew by word of mouth and from their people passing down generations and generations of culture. When we left I felt a little like the connection was lingering and I just had a strange feeling that if I had been a part of that culture in another life that I wouldn’t be surprised. I love the moon and I love the idea that there were people who centered their culture on the Moon Goddess. To me it was quite a wondrous site and even though most of the structure is gone from people bombing the place to find gold, some structures still stand and that is enough to represent what was once there. 

Once we had our lesson on Mayan culture we then went to a place on the beach where we could shop and reup on our drinking. We only had fifteen minutes though so my father and I split up. Him to go get an alcoholic beverage and me to do some shopping. Quickly he returned with a coconut that contained a high intensity of possible drunkenness if you had a few back to back. Unfortunately splitting it was not in our favor since it didn’t have much in it but it was enough to reup the buzz a tiny bit. Once our fifteen minutes was up we got a lesson on what recent hurricanes did to the island and made our way to the CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Oh yes. And guess what they had at the chocolate factory. Chocolate margaritas. Now most of the tour at the chocolate factory was tasting handmade chocolate and we got to know the process of how they are made into bars of chocolate. How each person has to take a coco bean and literally grind it themselves to make a chocolate powder. Our guide was hilarious and was always making jokes to keep up intrigued about the process. All the while we got to see a part of the Cozumel world. People there rely on tourism. They rely on us to come there and buy what they make. Every time I go there I am always buying something that stands out. They use old fish bones to carve out of and yea it sounds kind of gross but they make some of the best gifts and they are so cheap compared to what we would have charged in the U.S. 

In any case, we had a great time in that chocolate factory. I mean chocolate with a drunken buzz is an awesome combination AND they even gave you a chance to keep that buzz going with the chocolate margarita. Which was really strong to so we definitely were not complaining about the tour. Of course I left buying like seven candy bars and a happy smile. Once we were dropped back off near the port we then made a bee line to the shopping centers to buy everything we wanted to buy and make sure we were set for Christmas. A lot of sneaking around while Dad wasn’t looking was required and I somehow managed to do it successfully. Once the shopping was done we made a beeline for the drinking. We had a few more hours to indulge this free time of legal activity. We sat down and I let my dad take over. I ordered another strawberry margarita and then Dad stepped it up and ordered shots. Yes, shots....and some nachos for drunken balance. Can’t forget food. So we get our margaritas which is so good in the weather that we were experiencing and it was a nice kick to the drunken realm. Certainly something we both approved of. Really the only goal for the day was to make it back to the boat without forgetting anything and passing through the gate without looking drunk. One goal, seemed easy enough. Next we get the nachos and they look heavenly. I mean they were covered in cheese (can never have enough cheese, ever) and had so much meat on them that my mouth was drooling. Eating and watching some of the street performers quickly became a time to definitely remember. Next came the shots. Now I am not a person who usually drinks tequila shots but it was provided at a low cost for high quality booze and saying no to that would be a tragedy to anybody visiting the island. Who passes up good alcohol for like five or so bucks a shot. The stuff was top shelf and my dad was NOT about to let that pass by. So a shot in and down the throat and a sip of my margarita and I felt like the world belonged to me. I felt like I could rule all and do it without lifting a finger. 

Once we were done eating and we looked at the clock we had to go. Ship would leave with or without us. So we grabbed our bags and my rocky self had to gain control of my body in about fifteen minutes or the boat would be very unhappy about my drunken state. In the time it took to walk from that pleasant bar to the boat I had managed to straighten myself out and I got passed customs. Needless to say it was an adventure of a lifetime and Cozumel does such a good job of making sure you get what you pay for. You want to get drunk at a very cheap affordable price, then go there. You get margaritas the size of your face and they never let you sit with an empty glass unless if you tell them you’re done. What a wonderful place and it was so nice to be able to drink legally. If anything that experience taught me my tolerance to tequila and how much I love drinking good alcohol. 

Sometimes you just need to get drunk on an island that had no judgments. 

 

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