Film from a Rainy Day on the UWS

Today, I took the morning to focus on learning new skills, and before I head on some trips, I wanted to learn more about analog photography and my camera. Last time I shot, there was clearly an issue with light leaks, the back door coming open accidentally, or a problem with the camera. The photography man suggested I take a cheap roll out and shoot it to see if its the seal that has an issue or something else. This is the product of the test, and I think they all turned out great regardless of the little imperfections that come with shooting analog. Enjoy!

 

Highs & Lows

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Before heading into 2020, I had high expectations for myself and what is to come this year. I laid out exactly what I wanted to accomplish this year, and during what month I felt I would be capable of completing it by. I spoke a little bit about this in New Year, New York, but as we near the last week of January, I am entering the reflection stage of how my new resolutions are panning out. I know I want to write something monthly that showcases the highs and lows of each month, but at this point, I am not sure how I can measure it all independently of any extraneous details. Details such as how my income and financial insecurities this month impacts my social life, and travels, whereas how a job and a regulated schedule impacts the exact same entities in different ways (one I don’t have enough money, the other is I don’t have enough time)

In a few months, would I say this month was the best or worst so far? I don’t think it is possible to really measure these highs and lows except for recognizing my input and what the output was of the year. While I think about this, I can’t stop thinking about high and low tides and how they can affect a sailing ship, just as much as a weathering storm. And while I crave another vacation, enjoy a photo from one this summer during low tide.

This month has been a month of learning for me. I am learning how to conduct professional relationships with freelance projects. I am learning new skills, and I am learning how to construct a routine that works for me — and that is simultaneously a  high and low. As I continue to work out the kinks, I find myself still searching for the means to get myself into a routine. I think not having a steady job limits the opportunities I have when it comes to feeling regulated. This week, the last week, I sat and outlined everything I want to do before the end, so we will see how well I can manifest a routine without a job.

This month, I celebrated my birthday, surrounded by friends and loved ones. I traveled upstate with my partner and explored a new city as well as explore more of New York City. I looked back on relationship anniversaries and reflected on personal growth and favorite trips from the past. These were all incredible highs for this month, but it was coupled with some real feelings of insecurity and worry.

Some other memories from this month, I finished Little Women and went to see the film (reviews to come!). I watched an excellent dog for two months and learned the great and not so great parts of having a dog in New York City. And while I learn how to sail this ship into 2020, I am excited to continue to grow this blog until I can input exactly what I can to gain an output of what I always wanted. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see this linked with my Instagram page.

Beacon, New York

Beacon, New York is making its way as the hip spot for artists and city-dwellers alike to spend time in the city. After having several people recommend the city to us, David planned a day-trip for the two of us to explore together. It was about a 90 minute to a two-hour drive from the Upper West Side to downtown Beacon.  I will list our recommendations below, but first, enjoy the photos!

Food and Drink: Beacon Bread Company, Glazed Over Doughnuts (customizable treats), Meyer’s Olde Dutch, Draught Industries, Kitchen Sink Food and Drink.

Places: DIA: Beacon, Mt Beacon Park, Main Street Shops and Antiques, Hudson Valley Marshmallow Company, and Play Toys and Gifts.

We went on a Monday and most places were closed after the weekend but if we were to go back, we would definitely go and check 2-way brewing and Hudson Valley Brewing, but on Mondays, Kitchen Sink serves up a delicious Fried Chicken special, which makes it worth turning your weekend trip into leaving Monday night!

Leavenworth, Washington

This travel post is going to be a little different than the ones I have posted in the past because Leavenworth wasn’t just a city I passed through, it was a moment of immortalization in my memories.

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Before last year, this town never existed on my travel bucket lists or must-see cities. It just sort of appeared on my radar and stumbled into my life, but now it holds so much of my heart and fond memories. Around this time last year, I was tucking into my thesis depression and searching far and wide for a location that made sense for my novel. Then the trifecta appeared — my love for small towns, random generators, and my boyfriend’s suggestions — that had me researching this town nestled into the Cascade Mountains that replicated Bavarian life in the Pacific Northwest.

I was getting stressed about the little nuances that came with naming characters and deciding their unbiased background that I was using a random name and school generators. Usually they would give 10 options at a time, so I always picked option five. I told myself I couldn’t write about a “David” or The University of Washington. I said I wasn’t going to write my book about a love interest because I thought it was cliché. Then option five was the “University of Washington” and trust me, I thought about lying and doing it again, but something was telling me to just look into it.

Then I started to research small towns in Washington. I had just come home from spending a week in Spokane, not a small town at all, and didn’t know where to look. I thought about Forks, WA, where Twilight was set, but then nothing about the town intrigued me except for the fact that they have vampire tours now. So no, I didn’t want a town clinging to its defined claim to fame necessarily; I wanted something whose charm influenced the way people perceived it. So I asked David.

He suggested I look into Leavenworth. I saw the way the European facades contrasted with the mountainscape and found what I loved so much about Europe in America. I was sold by that, but worried, who was it that live in this tourist-attraction, Disney like town? I was searching for places that weren’t shopping for replica old-time photo booths and every t-shirt variety possible with the same city, just written in different fonts. And then David found it, Mailbox Peak, the ending of my story lied in those peaks, so I knew it had to be in Leavenworth, but I needed to go to Leavenworth and see the town for myself.

I remember getting into the rental car and immediately thinking about how I wanted to document every feeling and thought I was experiencing, so I took photos to try and capture them all. I flip through them all and hear the way. Delicate plays through the speakers as Seattle’s cityscape appeared through the mist and clouds. There were videos about how the sleet splatted on the windshield as we started to drive into the mountains. Or when the sleet turned to massive flakes that coated everything around us until even the tire tread marks blended into the white wonderland around us.

Into town, you heard the laughter of children as they slide down the small hill in city-center. Some buildings had a Bavarian-style on the outside or a sasquatch mascot wearing lederhosen inside, but most had both. It’s a quaint town with charm, locally-owned businesses, and places to explore. But something I don’t know if I could ever clearly describe was the silence that came from the way the snow soundproofed the town. We were there in February when the activities surrounding Christmas had died down, and Spring Breakers weren’t ready to slide into their boots and traverse the slopes.

We came up to the creek, trudging through shin-high snowdrifts until the silence turned into a bubbling of icy water flowed in front of us. I could feel how my jeans were slowly absorbing the snow that clumped onto my legs, but I never wanted to leave. The snow just fell around us delicately, clinging and spotting our hair and furry hoods. IMG_0373.jpeg

We explored even more of the parks, where young adults made makeshift snowboard ramps out of ledges and stairways. We stopped to warm up at Hewett Brewing Beer and Pizza where serves up some spectacular varieties and piping hot pepperoni pizza. So many locals came in just for some crowlers (can growlers to go) and pizzas for the family.

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When we left the restaurant, we headed into the main square where a horse-drawn carriage contrasted against the Dodge pick-up trucks and Toyota Camrys. There were Christmas lights clinging to all of the trees, gazebo, and buildings.

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Then I went into one of my favorite stores, A book for All Seasons where hopefully one day they will stock my book! I hope to go back soon to give more advice-based feedback around the town, but until then, its 100% worth just walking around the snowy days or stopping in for Octoberfest during autumn.

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Ten Hours in New Paltz,​ NY

This week, my partner and I made a day-trip upstate; trading the height of the buildings for the tops of mountains. Although I love the city, it definetly has its perks and downfalls. I count myself lucky to live here because there is so much to find within the boroughs, but there are also three significant airports within reach, Amtrack stations throughout the island, and busses that will take you all over America. But with so much within reach, it’s hard to not need “an escape” from it all.

For over a year, my partner and I seem to try and get out of the city each month. Because of the opportunity to explore is so plenty, we often find ourselves catching a train or bus just outside of the city limits to try and explore more of New York State and the surrounding Northeast.

This time, we made our way to Port Authority Bus Terminal, where Trailways, a charter bus service, had regular trips to New Paltz. The small town south of Kingston in Ulster County, situated on the cusp of the mountains to the north, is a quaint mountainside town. It’s weird to think that roughly 85 miles from downtown are cities like New Paltz which nestle in the Catskill Mountains that overlook rivers and lush green worlds.

The ride took about an hour and a half, and the first stop is New Paltz. The bus drops you off in town, and it’s a quick ten-minute stroll along Main Street where you can find the bustling spots for a bite to eat, relaxed coffee shops, and boutique stores. IMG_3768

As a reader, I had to check out the bookshops in the area. Inquiring Minds and Barner Books are across the street from each other, and both offer great new and used the inventory to add to your own shelves at home. I spent a lot of time perusing Inquiring Minds, which offered cozy nooks for both adults and children to spend an afternoon reading. Plus, next door is a local chocolate shop and a cafe serving up to twenty different varieties of cereal. Yum!

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From there we headed to Historic Huguenot Street; a National Historic Landmark that is comprised of 30 buildings dating back to 1687 when Dutch settlers purchased land on Wallkill River to build homes and establish their families. During the summer, the preservation efforts offer guided tours every 30-minutes where you will get additional information on the history of the area as well as access inside the buildings.

Because it ran for about an hour, we opted to us the free-app and explore the area for ourselves through their interactive map and history snippets. Running alongside the historic street is the Wallkill River, Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, and New Paltz Gardens for Nutrition. The grassy path is mowed regularly for leisurely walks around the pond and bird watching. IMG_3695 2.jpegIMG_3691.jpegIMG_3700.jpeg

Off in the distance, you can see the shadowed mountain ranges, cascading in elegant shades of navy across the baby blue sky. If you don’t have your own car, call an Uber to Mohonk Preserve, a fifteen-minute drive out of town and visit the all-inclusive Mohonk Mountain House. The stunning castle-like hotel overlooks Mohonk Lake and ridges in the distance. If the nightly price range is out of your budget for a stay, the Reserve offers a day pass that allows hikers to enjoy the preserve on their property.

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For a small town, New Paltz shows off its spectacular beauty in such a relaxing way. Even if hiking isn’t your forte, there are three breweries in town and numerous restaurants that show off the antique and rustic charm of the city. My favorite stops were Clemson Bros. Brewery and Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden of New Paltz. We had a little difficulty getting back down the mountain with Uber since it was a little out of the way from the few drivers in the city, but luckily one woman made the trip out and gave reccomendations of other places to visit upstate.

Before our bus left at 8:00pm, we grabbed a locally brewed beer and headed to dinner where we enjoyed a relaxing night on the patio sipping a German beer that catapulted us back to our last summer spent abroad. Although there is nothing quite like Eibsee Lake and being in the shadows of Zugspitze, something is charming about this little piece of European grandeur in New York. If I could do anything differently, I would definitely save up and stay at the hotel for a few nights, and come back in the autumn when the leaves are changing, and the crisp air hangs over the mountains in the distance.

Camping in the Shadows of Rainier

I lost cell phone service about an hour outside of Mount Rainier National Park. I was the navigator, so luckily Google Maps pinged my location somehow so we didn’t end up lost, but that meant nothing was distracting me from the road ahead.

We were driving from the West to the east; inland towards the coast. For hundreds of miles, all we saw were sprawling fields, deserts of mesas and rugged terrain up until we made our turn and headed straight into a deep forest––Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Elk stood and watched oncoming cars enter the national forest. Daylight forced its way through the cloud and tree cover above. I felt the air whip into the vehicle from the sunroof as the tips of the pines swayed and disappeared out of view. I was at peace looking around as the car wound around each hairpin turn and followed the potholed road.

There was a caravan of us, three cars in a line approaching Mount Rainier and the protected land that surrounded it. My eyes were peeled for more animals lurking between the fallen trees and thick brush. Only the occasional camper caught my attention. Off the highway, on the turn-offs, there were the random trucks, cars, and camper vans perched and overlooking a family nestled along the Nisqually River and listening to Berry and Big Creek bustle.

There were so many of them tucked into the cliff faces, starting campfires, and tiptoeing across fallen trunks like a tightrope walker in the circus that I expected all of us to stop and pick a place to set up camp. To me, and my experience with camping, this had to be what everyone was doing.

However, I learned there are campsites, and that doesn’t just mean the place we pick to set up our tent, but rather for Big Creek Campground was a little culdesac of others pitching tents so close that you can hear them chatting around their picnic bench as you are falling asleep.

A few weeks before booking this trip across the country, my partner let me know there was a plan to head out and camp with his family. I had met most of them last year in Germany, so I figured this must be a big deal since half of them were making the transatlantic flight to enjoy the summer on the Pacific.

“Camping” wasn’t something I had ever experienced. I had religiously watched “You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s Camping Party” on VHS. I remembered how they hung the food in the tree so the bear wouldn’t get it, but other than that I severely lacked on what it meant to camp.

The anxiety that began to build made my stomach weak. On our drive, we first approached the cabins where everyone else would be sleeping. It was a quaint log cabin with a hearth and loft sleeping areas. There was a jacuzzi on the porch, running water, and a full kitchen—bigger than the one in our New York apartment might I add.

We arrived around 5:00pm, which meant as the sunlight was slipping away, we needed to make our way to the campsite to make building our home a lot easier. The three of us, myself, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend’s father set back off onto the road and followed the GPS to our campsite. We parked, surveyed the land, and got to work. There was a flat piece of land, a picnic table, and an ominous toilet paper roll hanging from a branch just off the path of our site.

They began pulling tents, sleeping pads and bags, and blankets from the trunk. It went fairly quickly, and I was helping, but in my mind, fearful thoughts were racing.

“Check for Ticks!”

“You didn’t bring any winter clothing? You know it’s going to be freezing!”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t be camping.”

The tent looked cozy when it was filled with blankets, but when I kneeled to place my borrowed hoodie, beanie, and gloves, I felt the forest floor directly beneath my knee and realized all the layers didn’t mean comfortable.

I started to set into a small panic attack. I needed to use the restroom, and I could feel the tears welling up from fear. I thought I looked like a prima donna. Like a snobby girl who had never camped and expected a tent big enough to fit my space heater, cloud mattress, and vanity set. But really this was just new, different than anything I had ever experienced. I felt exposed and overwhelmed and couldn’t control my emotions.

In the toilet, I cried. I felt misunderstood. I didn’t know how to vocalize that I was excited to try something new but also simultaneously terrified for no rational reason. When everything was set up, we headed back to the cabins to join the rest of the family for dinner and smores. Most everyone who planned on camping for one our two nights during the trip decided against it when they saw the look of the cabins. The general consensus was that they were “too old for it” or “it’s supposed to rain.” I was scared they knew something that I didn’t, that I was in for a bad experience, so I started to believe it.

I went inside myself, trying to hide, but also calm myself so I could function with everyone else. I was tired come 8:00pm. The sky was deepening, and I knew the father would want to head back to the camp. I think I realized then that I was feeling these strange tinges of feeling left out. I felt like we would miss out on something; maybe midnight boardgames or last-minute smores; perhaps even a shower at night, or having a light in the bathroom.

I went, I wanted to camp for at least one night. So before we left, we brushed our teeth with the cabin’s running water and changed into sweatpants. The headlights on the car illuminated out tents in the dark and the smoke rising from the campsite next to ours. My partner turned to me, “absolutely no food in the tent, Hannah, I mean it.” I knew he was cautious, but he also knew I had a stash of M&Ms in my seat pocket. I left everything because I had been listening to scary bear encounters on the drive up.

Our tent was unzipped as we said goodnight to his father. I shone my iPhone light onto the ground, so I knew where I was walking and unlaced my shoes outside the tent, so I didn’t track any dirt into the sleeping area. We zipped up and began to lay out the blankets over one another. There was only one sleeping bag for the both of us, so we unzipped it completely to lay on top of.

My partner held onto me tightly as there was nothing but stillness on the air surrounding us. Eventually, we heard his father’s snores, but other than that, there was nothing. It was quiet, and I was able to fall asleep quickly from my anxiety earlier, causing me to be exhausted.

I tossed and turned quite a bit from the cold. I burrowed myself into my partner’s body heat and tried to hogg the blankets. I woke up to the sound of a rooster calling and his father stirring. My neck ached, most likely from how I slept, but it meant I had a hard time looking at anything the next day; however, I survived.

I ended up camping the next night with no anxiety whatsoever. It reminded me of sleepovers with friends, and I was giddy to be cozying up to someone I love. After then, the rainstorms fell over mount Rainer, leaving our tents to drip from the roof. We spent the last two nights in the cabin, while the symphony of snores echoed from the three double beds and twin bedroom upstairs.

At times I missed the quiet. I look forward to camping again because next time it won’t ne something new. I will have already known what to expect, and know how to pack. I will be able to anticipate what we will need and what we can leave behind. A pillow, is 100% somethin gyou should splurge on if I were to give any advice on the topic.

Check out how we got to this point on my previous post about driving across the country!

Driving Across the Country

Yes, you read that correctly. Together, my partner and I voluntarily embarked on a cross-country road trip in a rental car from our apartment in New York City to Spokane, Washington; a 2,600-mile excursion.

Firstly, before I explain the adventure, we need to circle back to December 2018 which is when we first discovered the two of us were capable of one, driving a car since our relationship solely lived within the confines of a carless relationship in Manhattan, and two that we had previously completed a 21-hour drive within a 24-hour rental window.

See during Christmas, flights to Florida, let alone Naples, Florida, are outrageous. So, being the young adults we are, we felt it was worth saving 600 dollars if it means we could rent a car for 120 dollars and get there in a day.

As it was a success, we found ourselves planing for our Summer vacation. We were just in Washington the month prior, however, we were heading back for a family trip with my partners extended relatives. I was, and still, jobless, so finances were a bit tight, but something I really wanted to do was see my friends in Colorado.

It has been three years since I was back in Boulder, Colorado. I flew out for a majority of my friend’s graduation, but it felt like a lifetime had passed since I was living there amongst the foothills. Showing my partner, my home in Naples was priceless.

Side note: I don’t think he fully understands what it meant to take him to my favorite spots, show him my schools, and introduce him to my local friends. I felt in the past relationships I had, I had to plead to have my lovers visit and still I was left with heartache in the wake of my pleas, so it felt indescribable to have him by my side. 

To reiterate, I know this one is a keeper because last summer we went to Germany. And obviously, we know how to plan showstopper summer vacations, but I am honestly eternally grateful to have met someone that appreciated exploring new lands alongside my anxious, antsy, anal travel habits.

He was the one to suggest driving. This time around, it wasn’t any cheaper to drive vs. fly, but a stop in Colorado meant a lot more money. We were going to need a rental car there, so we were going to need to pay more on top of the cost of flying. Luckily we were able to break up the trip into digestible bites.


New York, NY to Chicago, IL: The Pricier Leg

My Brother graciously offered up his couch, as he has for the past four years at his apartment and allowed my gang of hooligan friends and partners crash at his place for every time I planned a trip to the area. We planned to leave at 10:00am, however, knowing it was a 13-hour drive, we decided to change the rental to 8:00am so we would make it in time to catch dinner and a drink with my brother.

It was the lesser of picturesque drives and had THE MOST tolls, one being 15 dollars, but it was the shortest days. We had all of our energy in front of us as we took to the open roads of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. We learned we have minimal interest in moving to a mid-western city, but can very easily find a way to pass the time with luxurious rest stops and car games.

Chicago, IL to Boulder, CO: The 24-hour Challenge

After an “active” evening in Wrigleyville, we stuck to our timing of leaving my brother’s place at 5:00am. The friend I was staying within Colorado just had a baby in April, so I wanted to be courteous to their fragile sleep-schedule, as well as catch them when they were all still awake since it had been so long since I had seen her last. We hit the open roads, and a few more tolls, and headed for the Rockies.

We were tired, I struggled to stay awake in the beginning and were struggling with the various on-ramp highway and frequent exits as we left Chicago––fighting to get across seven lanes of traffic was not something either of us wanted to do that early in the morning. But, luckily the sprawling fields of Iowa and Nebraska made for comfortable cruise controlled rides and afternoon naps. We were delayed for a bit in Nebraska when we hit bumper to bumper traffic, slowing us for an hour in the hottest stretch of land with rumbling tummies, but rolling into the mountains of Colorado, and arriving at my friend’s home with Indian food and a babies waiting for us made the difference.

Boulder, CO to Spokane, WA: The Scenic Route

Now, we both knew the fastest way to our destination would have been going from Illinois to Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, but because I wanted a day to catch up with some college besties, then we decided to make the trip a little longer to hit more scenic spots. We woke up earlier, again, to ensure we made it to Yellowstone during the daytime. Before we could leave Colorado, we had to stop at Santiago’s. If you haven’t been, you need to go. My favorite breakfast was their burrito, on bacon day, with half-n-half sauce; it’s not spicy and not too mild.

This leg was the longest, but also the one with all the firsts. This was my first time in Wyoming and Montana and my first time in Yellowstone National Park. It was so worth the four extra hours and 200 miles to drive through the park, and we left with a year pass for a chance to visit more in the country. Driving along the Grand Tetons, which are pictured above, was spectacular. I saw Old Faithful blow boiling water into the air and Bison graze on the grass outside my passenger side door.

We made it to northern Montana before midnight, which meant we had several hours to nap before our 8:00am deadline. It was the first time I had slept in a rest stop and boy was it cold in Montana at 3:00am, but I wouldn’t change seeing the sunset and sunrise over Montana’s Rockies.


By the end of the trip, we were sleep-deprived, stinky, and disoriented from time changes, but it was such a fantastic experience. I highly recommend grabbing a friend you can spend hours talking to without eating and embark on a trip around the US!  Take a look at the playlist we played on repeat and our mapped journey below.

 

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Weekend in Bavaria

I boarded a plane from Newark to Munich to attend a Summer wedding in Bavaria. It was my first time in Germany, and a few days wasn’t nearly enough time to see it all. Most of my time was spent at the Eibsee Hotel where we slept at the foot of the tallest mountain in Germany. We spent hours on the lake on row boats, paddle boats, and motor boat. The cool lake water brought relief to my sunburned legs after forgetting sunscreen at home. The views from the top of Zugspitze reopened my excitement for exploration—this city girl missed the mountains. Bis zum nächsten Mal Deutschland!