wanderings: california

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I can’t lie, I might have been humming Phantom Planet’s “California” on the ride out. I finally made it out to the west coast!

One of my college roomies returned to her home state for grad school, so there was no reason not to go…the fact that I was also able to include a stop at Dapper Day at Disneyland was the ultimate icing on the cake!

I flew into LAX (and had a magical travel experience – both of my flights out, no one was sitting in the middle seat! Score!) and was picked up by the lovely Miss Elise. We grabbed In-N-Out, as you do, and hit the ground running with a stop at Santa Monica Pier.

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I hadn’t had a chance to apply sunscreen yet, so we just wandered around a little before taking my vampiric self back to the car and heading to Elise’s parents’ house in Altadena. The next day was dedicated to exploring the L.A. area – my wishlist was to see the Hollywood sign and visit the brick & mortar location of one of my favorite online shops.

We headed to Griffith Observatory, then cruised up to Burbank for the shopping. We even drove past some movie studios, which made me feel like I was getting the proper Hollywood experience! After a quick stop by Caltech to see a very unique science-themed play, we were off to Anaheim.

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Dapper Day is an unofficial Disney event where fashion enthusiasts of all types wear their finest duds in the park. It was so much fun to dress up and see all the beautiful outfits. We had a pretty magical day at Disneyland; everything worked out pretty much perfectly, and we basically didn’t have to wait in line for anything. A great first experience at the park! But no rest for the wicked – once we’d had our fill of Disney, it was off to Santa Barbara!

Elise is a grad student, so I had some time to explore on my own while she was in class the first day. I visited the Santa Barbara courthouse and got some great shots from the observation tower, then explored downtown (with crepes for lunch, yum!). That night, Elise’s mom treated us to a lovely oceanside seafood dinner. Scallops with crab and lobster risotto, oh yes.

My last day in Santa Barbara, we explored tidepools, visited the historic Mission and rose garden, and had some delicious Chinese food for dinner. I saw sea slugs, an anemone and even a wee little crab! I had such a lovely time on my trip, thanks in huge part to Elise & Zach. You guys were such amazing hosts – thank you again for having me!

Since I’ve gotten back, a lot of people have asked me if I “got the bug” for California. And…honestly, I think I have to say no? I had a lot of fun and definitely want to go back there again, but at least in this brief glimpse, it’s not a place I can really picture myself living. It doesn’t help that we got caught in a big L.A. traffic jam on the night I landed, curing me of any romantic notions about the city. At least at this point in my life, I don’t think I’m a big city kind of person. Milwaukee is definitely still the right size for me.

But part of the fun of having a home is that it’s always there waiting for you when you want to go exploring. And this was a great week of exploration!

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minneapolis minication

This weekend I went to Minneapolis, and I took almost no photos. Sure, I ended up posting one shot to Instagram and sent a Snapchat or two, but for the most part, the weekend went uncaptured in the traditional sense.

If you look at it one way, there wasn’t much “worthy” of capturing. We saw a movie and went to a tiki bar. Took many trips to the grocery store and ate taco dip. From the other direction, I was busy capturing every moment, but these moments were for me, not for Instagram. It was a goodbye weekend, a bon voyage, and exactly the break I’d been needing. I took the bus, so I didn’t even have to worry about the drive (highly recommended!), then spent the whole weekend hanging out with the people I was going to miss and other friends both old and new. We laughed (a lot), we had super good ice cream, we played hours of DIY Ex Libris (the ultimate party game, if I do say so myself). I had so much fun, and though I’m a little sad that I didn’t get any pictures, I know that I’m not going to forget any of the important parts. I honestly do enjoy sharing photos and posting about my experiences (obviously, I’m posting about this one!), but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s okay to not be able to “prove” that you were there. Some experiences are just for you to keep.

wanderings: clearwater

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I posted near the beginning of the year about my recently developed wanderlust. Since that post, I’ve set up two work trips to places I’ve never been before (yay!), and this week returned from a place I’ve been many, many times: my grandparents’ house in Clearwater, Florida. It’s weird to go back to Clearwater. I haven’t been there in so long that it’s hard to remember when I was last there, but once I step off the plane, everything seems strangely unchanged. My grandparents’ house is the same. The beach is the same. Same causeway, same strip malls, same little outcroppings of “senior communities.” We go to the same part of the same beach, sitting on the same chairs. When we walk around the neighborhood, we take the same streets. It all smells the same. Like humidity and sunscreen and tropical flowers. At the same time, things are different. There seems to be a new Walmart springing up every few feet, restaurants have come and gone, and, of course, I’m different. Existential weirdness aside (I’m a writer, it happens), I had a really lovely trip. I was feeling the need to get away, so it was perfect timing.

Time runs slower down there, so there was plenty of time for lazing on the beach, wandering around Dunedin (which has a Cedarburg-esque downtown shopping district), eating seafood (grouper grouper grouper), and reading books in the sunroom. Most of the vacations I’ve taken have centered around a major event, so they haven’t exactly been relaxing. This was a true vacation. I could use more of those.

The most notable part of the trip for me, honestly, was my swimsuit. It was my first time wearing a two-piece since probably middle school, which is small potatoes for a lot people but was a big deal for me. I’d been inspired by a lot of fabulous plus size bloggers with their bikinis, but I was still very shy about getting one for myself. Even after I ordered one (with lots of encouragement from friends), I was still unsure that I’d work up the gumption to actually wear it out on the beach. But I did, and it felt pretty awesome.

The best kind of trips, I’m finding, are the ones that leave you not eager to come home, but eager to keep exploring, to go somewhere new. Inspiring trips. And that’s the question in the forefront of my mind: where to next?