You Need to Sink Into Nature

Travel Tuesday takes a twist into appreciating nature wherever your adventure leads. 

When on the verge of self-implosion, I step into a place that offers much more than a beautiful view and I sink into it.

I will close my eyes and take in what it is to sink into nature.

The rustle of leaves as the wind whispers through shaken stems forms a language that calms the heart, mind and soul.

A gentle breeze lightly kisses your skin to take away the heat that comes with the warm sunshine on your shoulders. Nature knows the pain you feel and it fills those cracks with the shrill of birds singing and the smell of new leaves springing from their homes.

Breathe out, breathe in. The faint smell of flowers is overwhelmed by the earthly scents that flood all five senses. Maybe you’re standing by a lake and can hear the light trickle of water moving and smell the fish and seaweed that lie beneath the glittering surface.

Perhaps you’re caught in the wind on the ocean and can almost taste the salt on your lips. You slowly squish your toes into the sandy beach, feeling each grain of crushed rock smooth the skin you walk on. The ocean waves slowly crash against the shore. They stretch and reach for you, maybe just getting far enough to wash your feet, pulling your worries and self-doubt into the vast blue.

forestThere you stand in the midst of a thousand trees. A forest filled with cracking trunks and bending limbs. Rodents rustle rapidly through the brush and climb heights we consider feats. The sun rays slice through the branches that shelter us, if only to wash our face with light and hope. White noise hushes your thoughts as each leaf high fives it’s partner and the forest dances as one.

What you hear, what you see, what you feel has erupted what you have been holding inside of you. You loosen your grip on what you can’t change or let go piece by piece.  A calmness settles in that whispers you’ll be okay and you once again feel the hug of sunshine and earth surrounding you.

Nature can heal you if you sink into everything it has to offer.

Until tomorrow,

Anna Marie

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What Does T-R-A-V-E-L Stand For?

Give me a T! Travel.. defined. I split down the letters of this magnificent word to give you a deeper reasoning to what this word could mean to you.

T: ime! This is huge. We have earned the time off to treat ourselves. We WANTED this time to either get away or explore. Maybe we wanted the time to just breathe and stop our fast paced lives. Travel is time that you have to truly do what makes you happy and reset.

R: elaxation! It makes sense doesn’t it? We leave our homes in hopes of coming back refreshed and ready to conquer our days with a little more OOMPH before we left. The goal is to feel like you don’t have to worry as much because you can handle any daunting tasks when you return. This is the time to just breathe and be for the time being, stress is not invited.

A: dventure! When traveling, you’re usually in the mood to see new places you haven’t ever been to or at least come back to a place that you haven’t been to in a while. It’s common to try new things and explore the nooks and crannies of a new area. Get out on a new path and please those eyeballs with new sights.

V: alidation! Taking a trip is one of those times where you are free to think about whatever it is that is happening in your life. Therefore, it’s the perfect time to figure out what you want and to validate where you are headed in your life. Maybe you’re just validating why you needed this trip and resetting yourself. Either way, validating why you’re traveling, what you’re feeling or where you are can really become an important discovery on a trip.

E: xperience! Travel for the memories of course. You want to be able to say you went to Columbia for a few weeks and share all of the experiences you enjoyed. You want to make sure you lived as fully as that time offered you because you’re making memories that will be stories one day. Experience the world around you.

L: earn! It is my philosophy to always learn something new when I travel. Whether that be about the place you are visiting or something about yourself, take the time to learn. What’s the history behind your vacation spot? Get to know yourself again. What is important to you and your journey? Find out something new that you love. Just learn.

So get out there and T-R-A-V-E-L! The benefits are never ending and the memories last a life time.

Until Tomorrow,

Anna Marie

Patrick’s Point, California

My vacation to California has been an incredible journey mentally, physically and emotionally.

I have spent my days in Northern California exploring multiple beaches, forests, state parks, small towns, etc. and just yesterday my cousin who I am staying with asked me what my favorite part has been so far. I just sighed because this indecisive demon in my brain could not possibly choose between all of the adventures I’ve been on.

Until I went to Patrick’s Point.

There are things that I loved about every place I wandered here in California but I have never been so continuously awed by the views and feelings I had when I set foot on the paths surrounding Patrick’s Point.

It is this beautiful hiking course with paths along the Pacific Ocean that over look the ocean and the rough, rocky shore. I’ll let you look for yourself.

Naturally, this place is stunning. If you think it is gorgeous in pictures, we all know it’s ten times better in person. The waves crashing over the rocks just sent your mind reeling over the power the ocean had.

I witnessed a whale peeking out of the ocean as well as sea lions playing with each other and slapping water into the air. It was just beautiful to see the world move around you. The sun glittered on the horizon and the fresh air was so crisp. You could feel the warmth of rays kissing your skin and the wind kept you cool.

These views were taken from one of the view points called Wedding Rock (probably named because you fall in love and want to marry a State Park or whoever you’re with you just want to give a romantic hug to). Below is little ole me standing on Wedding Rock (picture taken from the Patrick’s Point look out).

… and another of the rock itself.

Wedding Rock was absolutely stunning and an easy climb for the peace you had when you get up there.

Next we went to the Rock Lookout area and it was just as stunning. It was a place kind of on the outskirts of the main looking area and so nobody was there in the time I sat down and thought about life. It was beautiful. I sat and watched the waves crash onto the rocks as my thoughts just became fluid. It was the perfect place to think.

This leads me to why Patrick’s Point became my favorite place in California.

When I was sitting here, staring over the water, my thoughts seemed healthy. I felt calm and peaceful. It was as if the waves would heal my mind with every splash that landed on the coast. I felt alive and happy. I felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude for the opportunities I have had and the memories I have shared with others.

I have been going through a lot of really random events happening in my life lately and this place brought all of the loud thoughts in my head from a 10 to a 2. I could just breathe for a second before going back to deciphering my life again at a lower volume.

The natural beauty of Patrick’s Point was inspiring to me. It gently helped cleanse some wounds and wash away some of the negativity I’ve had thrust upon me. I felt more aligned with the path I wanted to take and more sure of my decisions and actions lately. It is the ultimate thinking spot.

I fell in love with Northern California. This was the place that had absolutely everything for someone going through a bit of a tough time who was standing back up again. It will give you serenity and love. Nature’s hug is always the warmest.

Please find a place as magical as this or visit here if you can. Your happiness will sky rocket. 🙂

Until tomorrow,

Anna Marie ❤

Planning Your Road Trip

Itching to hit the road? For those who cannot wait to get in a car and drive, I came up with a game plan to make the road plan as you start planning your road trip.

1. Who is going with you? Ask around and see which of your friends are willing to go on a road trip, that way you can start matching schedules.

2. How much time do you have? This is what will dictate how far you can go and to how many places you will be able to see. Figure out a chunk of time that you can escape and if possible, get dates ready so you can start seeing if there are any events on the road you could take part in.

3. Where do you want to go? You can’t do the entire United States in a week. Here is how you can narrow down where you want to go. Think of a few landmarks that you have been dying to see. Maybe it’s Mount Rushmore or maybe it’s Times Square, decide on a place you need to see and start looking at different attractions around it. If you find a group of places you could reach within a few days of road tripping, that’s where you can begin.

I recommend using a website that can help you with mileage, gas costs and find you accommodations and near by attractions around you. I use roadtrippers.com but use whatever you  find/like. I really enjoy that website because it’s super easy to use and is really helpful with surrounding information. This way you can easily switch the order of places you go and rearrange attractions in the way they are ordered.

4. Know how many hours you want to drive a day, include time for stopping for attractions a long the way. This could very well be the hardest part of planning. Who knows exactly how much time you will need for each place you want to visit. Try to do some research to see what people have said about the attractions you are willing to stop for. That way you can hopefully get to know how much time you might need in each city/place.

5. Book where you will be staying. Once you are confident in where you will be staying book ahead if you’re going during a busy season (like summer). That way you don’t have to worry about where you will be sleeping. Unless you want to be a camper, then pack a tent and look up some campsites.

6. Plan for snacks and food during the trip. Of course! You’ll never know if you might get hungry while you’re a couple hours away from the nearest gas station. It could happen right? Bring some water while you’re at it.

7. Plan on road games and CDs to keep the mood light. You don’t want to hate the people you are traveling with so back some great road games and CD’s to keep entertained.

8. Expect something to not go as planned. When traveling across states, you will probably encounter something you didn’t think of. Construction, weather, closed attractions, etc. Something may go wrong but just remember to roll with it and move on. It might make the adventure that much more worth it.
Hopefully this can get you started in planning out the right places to go. Get moving, get planning, and hit the road!
Until tomorrow,
Anna Marie

Why Thailand? I’ll Tell You Why

“Why Thailand?”

This is the question I heard over and over when I told my friends and family that I was traveling to the “Land of Smiles” this past winter. While my answer never seemed to make sense at the time, I can certainly tell you  why I chose Thailand now that I am home.

First, I must say that I went to Thailand through EF College Break for two weeks. I was in a group of 40 and the only person I knew before the trip was my boyfriend, Zach, who came with me. We paid a price and they had everything planned out for us already including several meals, hotels, transportation, plenty attractions, etc. It was so nice to not have to stress about the planning aspect and I would definitely go through them again.

BANGKOK

We flew into Bangkok, met our tour guide and travel group, and tried to sleep to beat the 11 hour time difference from home. To begin our journey, we went to a Thai home where we tasted raw sugar and saw squirrels doing back flips. We met the Thai family who lived there and were treated with the utmost kindness and respect. The first of many encounters we would have with this kind of treatment from the Thai culture.

Thailand. 2014.

Floating Market, Thailand. 2014

Later that day we went on a speedboat ride down the river, which was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. Water splashed around us and we saw a ton of tiny homes and temples. We drove through a floating market and stopped to shop for a while which introduced us to our very first market. When in Thailand, go to the markets. You learn to barter and it was one of my favorite experiences of the trip (and I don’t even go shopping that much you guys).

Something you must do if you ever go to Thailand, is get a massage. My boyfriend and I got an hour body massage for $8 each. It’s insanely cheap and feels really really good. They have shops everywhere so it’s not hard to find a place. Just walking the streets gives you plenty of opportunities to dive into the culture.

While in Bangkok, we also took a tour of the river that runs through the city. We saw a few beautiful temples as well as the Grand Palace which is one of the most gorgeous and detailed pieces of work I have ever seen. The intricacy of their architecture doesn’t fail to make you gasp every time you see a temple. There were quite a few crowds but you eventually learn to push and shove your way through if needed. Our tour guide always took good care of us.

Grand Palace, Thailand. 2015Grand Palace, Thailand. 2015.

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PHITSANULOK

We traveled to Phitsanulok on our way to Chiang Mai. On our way there, we stopped at one of my favorite places of the whole trip. Temple ruins. There was an incredibly sad story behind the ruins and it shocked us all. How can something so disastrous like a fire or flood lead to such beauty? I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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CHIANG MAI

Chiang Mai was a huge adventure. We visited the biggest night market in the city called Night Bazaar which had the coolest trinkets and gifts. We saw everything from insanely inappropriate bracelets to hand carved soap beauties that were made right in front of us.We went to another temple on top of a mountain by way of taxi pick up trucks. That was a great adventure. To think that it was completely normal to ride on a bench in the back of a pick up truck was so different than anything I’ve ever done.

We rode elephants and had the chance to pet a tiger.We also went on a bamboo raft ride down the river to see a Thai tribe. That little tribe was a really great cultural experience. It was such a versatile city and definitely more modernized than Bangkok.

I must say, riding elephants was the chance of a lifetime but I won’t do it again. After we were on the giant mammal, our guide would hit him if he wasn’t going fast enough and it was a horrible feeling to be a part of that. I felt so guilty. After the ride, we had the chance to have elephants do tricks with us in which the owners weren’t hurting the elephants at all. This was really neat to be a part of. They lifted us up in the air with their trunks and shoveled sugar cane and bananas into their mouths as treats. Then they put on an elephant show to show off their impressively intelligent minds. They painted pictures, gave massages and even played soccer.

As for the tigers, some of them were so visibly drugged up I couldn’t bring myself to get in the cage with them. But some people on the trip really enjoyed petting the tigers. It’s all about what you know and what you believe.

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PHUKET

This place was paradise. If you go to Phuket, please go to Phi Phi Islands and to islands around there. That was the best part of Phuket. We stayed in Patong Beach and it was so humid so when you got to the beach, the ocean breeze felt like a slice of heaven. The beaches are very pretty, but once you see the the islands that are a boat ride away, it will outrank every other beach you have ever seen. We had a few free days and went ziplining, beaching and island hopping. Phuket was an incredible place to stay and the pictures can’t do it justice.

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WHY

Was that enough to convince you why? If not, here is a summary of how I felt. Thailand itself was beautiful and so were the people. Thai people are so kind everywhere you go and almost all of them can speak English. It actually makes you feel stupid if you don’t speak another language fluently. The Thai culture is something that is indescribable unless you have experienced their genuine nature.

Here are somethings I haven’t mentioned that just add to the trip overall.

Traffic is insane. There are almost no rules. You run a lot of red lights, people drive the wrong way on the shoulders and you see multiple people riding in the bed of a truck. It was exciting and scary all wrapped into one. Pedestrians don’t have a right of way, you stick your hand out and start walking in the middle of the road to get someone to stop. It’s a lot different from home but a really cool experience.

Stray dogs are everywhere and it will make you sad. Thai people see them as pests and we saw some dogs get rocks thrown at them. The dogs themselves didn’t give us any problems and some of them were so gentle and kind. Buy them crackers and love them up if they don’t seem disease ridden.

Everything is super cheap, which makes you buy everything. It is about 32 Baht to $1. You can get a T-Shirt for $3 and I got plenty of cultural souvenirs.

Be open to experiencing anything. We went to a monk chat that I wasn’t expecting to be high on my list of favorite things I did, but it was. I learned so much about Buddhism and why they live the way they do and it truly opened my eyes to why their culture is so friendly and giving. Take opportunities and run with them.

This is definitely a really short synopsis of my trip, so feel free to message/comment with any further questions you may have.

I have a special place in my heart for Thailand and will always treasures the memories I made there.

Have a great rest of your day and until tomorrow,

Anna Marie ❤