If the first half of 2014 was mostly dedicated to that big magical PR project in Orlando, the second half is a triumphal return to my always-on-the-go roots. I’ve flown more than 10,000 miles in the past 90 days alone, have driven at least 2,000 and have visited 8 US states and two foreign countries.
Here’s a recap of the highs, lows, lessons and next steps for Angie Away.
Ford #Unminivan Road Trip. You’ve likely seen the pictures & videos of Alex, Rachel and me gallivanting from Denver to Seattle in our Ford Transit Connect, sporting the most ridiculous of cowboy apparel, riffing Napoleon Dynamite quotes in Preston, Idaho, and jumping from town to town.
The trip couldn’t have been more fun, and it goes down as one of my favorite family travel experiences of all time. I wish everyone in the world had a brother and sister as hilarious and pleasant as mine. If you haven’t seen the photos, you can check them out here, here, here and here. More to come!
TBEX Cancun. For those outside the travel blogging world, TBEX stands for Travel Blog Exchange, a conference for the traveling, writing, blogging community. Five years ago, I attended the first TBEX in Chicago, and the 2nd in NYC a year later. Then I departed for my big RTW adventure and missed out on several conferences. So I found my way back to TBEX Cancun. While the panels and talks were informative and helpful, my favorite part was catching up with PR colleagues from my Weber Shandwick days and seeing blog friends I’ve met all over the world. When you work from home, or a plane, you don’t get the luxury of coworkers or water cooler banter, so TBEX has become that for me.
Costa Rica. I searched for pura vida in Costa Rica at the Blue Osa Yoga Retreat & Spa, and I’m pretty sure I found it. I spent a week at the intersection of secluded beach and virgin jungle, listening to the calls of howler monkeys and scarlet macaws. I practiced yoga nearly every day, released baby sea turtles into the ocean, surfed, kayaked, hiked and made a heap of lovely new friends. After the year I’ve had, it was a welcome mental and physical retreat – just what I needed to refresh.
Little St. Simons Island. You may recall I spent two torrentially rainy days at the Lodge at Little St. Simons Island back in April, and since the weather kept me from exploring most of the 10,000 acres, I went back last weekend to try again. I thought we were going to have a terrible redo of weather, but the rain held out and I experienced some beautiful, uncharacteristically cool fall weather. I encountered alligators, raccoons, screech owls, bright pink roseate spoonbills, wood storks, horseshoe crabs, about 50 armadillos and a rare chocolate-colored deer – what?! And that was just in a quick two-day visit. I could spend a week out there and never get tired of encountering the wilderness so close to home.
Home office complete. I finally got a desk! And I put it together myself with a tiny pink screwdriver that was not up to the job at all. Go me! (I’ve since located a more functional screwdriver!)
Achilles tendonitis and/or plantar fasciitis. Not sure which issue is currently causing me such pain in my heel, but needless to say, MY FOOT HURTS. Since I’m currently without health insurance, I’m doing my best to self-medicate, a.k.a. rest when I can, ice, take anti-inflammatories and wear a night brace, but I’ve had this issue before and it’s not a quick fix. Last time it took the better part of 6 months to get relief. Oy.
Plugging in. I don’t think it’s a big secret that I’ve found it difficult to get plugged in here in my hometown. I have a handful of lovely friends, but because of my ridiculous travel schedule, it’s really difficult to be involved in people’s lives on a day-to-day basis. I feel like I’m a terrible pal as a result.
Project Runway. Actually, this is much more of a HIGH than a LOW, but I stuck it down here just because I didn’t have many lows to speak of. My fabulous cousin Mitchell Perry was on this season of Project Runway, and he was wonderful! Spoiler alert: Heidi auf wiedersehen’ed him in episode 5. I suspect that won’t be the last we see of this fashion ingénue, so watch for him!
Provision. I’m still learning how to manage life on a freelance income. Frankly I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully figure it out! It’s feast or famine, and determining how to portion the feast to last during the famine is a totally new experience for me. It’s a daily exercise in self-control to put down my wallet because I might want to spend this money on rent in a year, rather than on expensive sushi today. Priorities!
Wiring. One of the major lessons I’ve learned in the past few years is that not everyone thinks like me or is motivated in the same way I am – and that’s not just ok, it’s wonderful and beautiful and all part of a larger plan. Just because someone isn’t smart in the ways that I’m smart or good at the things I’m good at, doesn’t make them any less intelligent. I wish I’d learned at a much younger age that we’re all created differently because it takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round. Traveling has really opened my eyes to this lesson.
Perpetual impermanence. Though I love my apartment and find Jacksonville to be a lovely place to be settled, I don’t feel totally on board with the thought of staying here forever. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never lived in one place longer than 4 years, or perhaps it’s just my nomadic nature – whatever the cause, I’m already thinking about where I might end up next.
Forgiveness. It isn’t always easy, but it’s sort of the price of admission for my whole life’s belief system.
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
La La La Lauren. For the first time in history, one of my friends is actually coming to visit me in Jacksonville! Tonight I’m picking up blonde & smiley Lauren, one of my dearest NYC friends (now located in Dallas), from the airport and we’re headed to – where else? – the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Dear LJ has been my friend since I had the privilege of launching Hogsmeade in 2010, and she’s just been itching to visit all these years. In the absence of having kids, I must confess it’s just as much fun to take my Potter-loving friends to Universal Orlando for the first time. Wands at the ready, LJ!
NaNoWriMo. In those rare moments of clarity when I’m not overcome with travel plans, PowerPoint decks, speech writing and wading through a torrent of unsolicited press materials, writing a book about my 2011 adventure is the desire of my heart. I had a wonderful dinner with the Meredith & Carla from Laura Davidson PR and Chris Christenson from the Amateur Traveler podcast while at TBEX in Cancun, and Chris encouraged me to finally sit down and grind out my book during National Novel Writing Month, an event for writers that takes place every November. The goal is to write at least 50,000 words in those 30 days, so I’m clearing my schedule and planning to focus on making it happen. I’ll be trimming back my blog posts and social media activity that month, so be forewarned.
Travel. The next 30 days are going to be filled with travel and I am more excited than I’ve been in a long time about returning to two destinations: NYC and Greece! I’m heading to New York for a long weekend because there are just too many friends I haven’t seen (and frankly, too many restaurants whose delicious bites I need to taste once again.) And Athens… I can’t believe I get to go back to Athens! Greece is definitely in my top 5 favorite countries for a variety of reasons, so when I was invited to speak at TBEX Athens, you know I jumped at the chance to be reunited with even more traveling friends AND Greek food. Mmmmm, feta.
2014 gift guide. I’m putting the finishing touches on my annual holiday gift guide and I promise, you’re going to love the goodies I’ve picked out for this year. As always, I’m planning a fun giveaway with many of the products as well. Coming in November!
2015 Planning. I know it’s only September, but would you believe my 2015 calendar is already filling up? Exciting trips & weddings & partnerships with favorite destinations & speaking engagements and … quite a few surprises, I’m sure. Stick around, it’s going to be a lot of fun!
Thank you for reading & joining me for 45 months of traveling, wandering and figuring it all out. Did you enjoy the #unminivan trip posts or are you more of a #puravida fan?
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