Travel Adventures

“Climb the Mountains and Get Their Good Tidings”

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
Our National Parks by John Muir (1901, page 56)

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist and an early advocate for preservation of America’s vast wilderness, including Yosemite Valley and the Sequoia National Park. While he helped establish several National Parks, he is also known for co-founding the Sierra Club. As Gretel Ehrlich wrote in her book, John Muir: Nature’s Visionary, his “eloquent words changed the way Americans saw their mountains, forests, seashores, and deserts.”

Living in Colorado has given me new appreciation to Muir’s passion and life’s work. These past few days I took a trip out west to explore some of Colorado I haven’t visited yet, including the Black Canyon National Park of the Gunnison, Telluride, and Ouray. As someone who loves words, words don’t quite feel adequate to describe all you see. Such breathtaking beauty.

I know I would have appreciated this trip anytime, but it was especially refreshing after all that has happened this year. To get away, to be in the mountains, to feel my soul revived…

The first stop was Black Canyon National Park of the Gunnison. Thankfully there were many viewpoints still open, so we were able to see quite a bit. While none of the viewpoints are hard to get to, on a sunny day you do feel it, so if you are going during warmer months, be sure to bring plenty of water with you.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.
The Yosemite by John Muir (1912 page 256).

Day Two was a day trip to Telluride. This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in America. You can be anywhere in the town and still have absolutely gorgeous views. We did the hike up to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. It was a harder hike, but absolutely worth it. If you hike up (you can also drive up), you have beautifully inspiring stops along the way, including more waterfalls and vistas. And the smells! If peaceful could be a smell, walking through these mountains would be it. I have yet to find the perfect mountain-ish candle, but if I ever do, I will buy them all.

“God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.” – John Muir

Our final day was in Ouray, a town I hadn’t heard of before this trip. Not quite as big as Telluride (it isn’t a ski town), it is absolutely still worth seeing. There’s plenty of places to hike and camp. We did part of the Perimeter Trail and Baby Bath Tubs Trail. The Ouray Perimeter Trail is about 6.5 miles long and when I go back, I’ll definitely do the whole thing. Baby Bath Tubs Trail is super short and easy (so you can take kids!) and has refreshing (so cold!) water to dip your feet in or more.

Ouray is also the start of The Million Dollar Highway. We drove up a few miles in and the views are absolutely stunning. I don’t like heights at all, so I’m not going to lie, I gripped that steering wheel tight, but glad I was able to see some more views.

And of course, book stores! I visited Between the Covers Bookstore in Telluride and Ouray Bookshop in Ouray (which is officially one of my favorite book stores).

Oh and we stayed in Montrose. It’s quite a bit cheaper and a nice drive to all the places. Have you been to any of these places? Would love to hear about your adventures!

Love and Faith, Travel Adventures

His Majesty Is Everywhere

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.”

1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)

You know what I love? That there are so many places on earth where you can’t help but see God’s majesty. I’ve been thinking of past adventures (while plotting future adventures) and thought of my time in Africa. Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend time in Zambia and Botswana. After spending nearly two weeks with some amazing Zambians, I also got to spend time in Botswana on a safari.

God’s majesty was everywhere as we ventured on land and water. By no means a surprising statement, but we need those reminders often don’t we? I’d seen animals before in a zoo, but to watch a herd of zebras and giraffes roam freely in the wild revealed another level in His creativity. Whether it was making way for elephants to cross, slowly passing by hippos, watching crocodiles float lazily after a meal, or encountering beautiful sunsets, to this day I hold on to the profound ways it changed me.

I long to return. While that may or may not happen, I’m reminded I can encounter His splendor wherever I am. Whether that’s watching a Netflix documentary (some of the documentary footage is incredible) or stepping outside to watch a sunset from my porch, His splendor is everywhere and how blessed we are when we encounter it.

I encourage you today, wherever you are, to take time to see His majesty.

“Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.”

Psalm 104:1 (NIV)

Inklings, Travel Adventures

A Hobbit’s (or Anyone Who Loves Books and Snacks) Guide to New York City

If you aren’t familiar with Hobbits, here’s one thing you need to know: They like food. There’s breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and then supper.

They also much prefer to stay home, curled up in their Hobbit holes, with a toasty fire, perhaps reading a book or two. Unless, of course, a certain wizard stirs up trouble and suddenly they find themselves on an adventure.

So if consider yourself much like a Hobbit and support multiple meals, but also find yourself in New York City, here’s a list of verified places to eat:

Posto NYC Thin Crust Pizza in Gramercy: Of course you have to eat thin crust in NYC. This was right by where I stayed. A cozy spot I’d definitely hang out if I lived near by.

Magnolia Bakery: Things I won’t pass up – a bakery. This one was the Grand Central Terminal location. A cupcake is a great pick-me-up!

Lillie’s Victorian Establishment: This place was recommended by several people. There’s a variety of fun drinks and the Harvest Collins was very refreshing! The decor reminded a bit of Austin – random, yet not :).

Wo Hop Chinese Restaurant: When you’re eating Chinese food in NYC, you have to go to Chinatown. If you get the chance to go to Wo Hop, you can expect a wait, large portions, and bring cash. All worth it though!

Ben’s Cookies: It started in Oxford, so I was supporting Tolkien and Lewis.

Levain Bakery: This place was recommended quite a bit as well and yes, delicious! I brought some home too. Also, DON’T JUDGE ALL THE BAKERIES I WENT TO INTERNET.

Sapori D’Italia: This place was fabulous! Located in Little Italy, it was super cute, everyone who worked there spoke Italian and it was packed late at night. I hope to one day make it back!

Black Tap Craft Burgers: I may have ate the burger before I got a good photo. My bad! I was really hungry. Definitely worth trying. They also have ridiculous milkshakes (we’re talking a piece of cake on top of the shake), so there’s that option as well.

Ess-a-bagel: I’m not much of a bagel person, but when in New York right? Photo by my friend Leslie.

I got so many incredible recommendations for food and all the places we eat at were recommendations. Since there’s about 50 I still need to try, just gotta go back right?

Finally, need a place to find a corner and read? New York has you covered. (You can read more about each store over at @bookstoreandlibrarylove)

And if you find yourself going on a big city adventure soon, be sure to download City Mapper App before you go. It shows all public transportation arrivals, travel times, routes, and everything you might need to go exploring. I’ll be using it for all future adventures!

Thanks for joining in the NYC adventures!

Inklings, Travel Adventures

A Long Expected Party in NYC

This past weekend I headed out to New York City to see the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth at the Morgan Library and Museum. It started out last Fall in Oxford and is the first Tolkien exhibit in a good long while. Since I couldn’t quite make a trip to England happen, I was hoping it made it to the US and was so excited when they announced New York City as the city. That was much more possible. Then I found out about a Hobbit party and that sealed the deal.

I couldn’t take any pictures from the exhibit itself, but I loved it. There’s something enchanting and thrilling about seeing the thought process, writing notes, and doodles of an incredibly influential and favorite author. Tolkien was talented in so many ways, it’s almost ridiculous. I knew he designed many of his covers, but it was so awesome seeing his sketches, half painted ideas, and finished products.

I bought the book from the exhibit (you can get it online here) because I wanted to re-read and see all the extras. Here’s a couple spreads:

It also helped that the exhibit and party were held at The Morgan Library and Museum. This place is gorgeous! Turns out nearly 700 other people wanted to be a part of the fun too.

Did I also buy Hobbit Tea? Yes, yes I did.

If you’re in New York or close by, be sure to stop by the exhibit. It’s there through May 12th and then moves to Paris later this year. Maybe I should support France’s efforts? Anyone want to send me? I promise to bring you back a souvenir 😆.

Fiction, Nonfiction, Travel Adventures

10 Books I Want to Read After Visiting D.C.

I thought I’d have a different kind of travel “recap” with my recent adventures to D.C. I’ve been a couple times before, but there’s so much to see that I could visit 10 more times and still have a list! We were able to see the monuments (including the new MLK Jr. memorial), visit Mt. Vernon (home to George Washington), The Holocaust Memorial Museum, The National Museum of African American History and Culture and The National Gallery of Art. I love these type of cities. With such a historical city full of museums and bookstores, I managed to add 54837543957430 more books to my reading list (naturally), so I thought I’d share some with y’all!

1.  My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King

2. The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

3. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

4. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

5. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve had this book for years and only read bits. He saw early on how the German “church” supported Hitler and gave up everything (including his life) to fight against it. After visiting the Holocaust museum, I really need to finish it.

6. Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith

7. Monet, or the Triumph of Impressionism by Daniel Wildenstein

8. Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

9. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

10. Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, 1884-1933 by Blanche Wiesen Cook (there’s three volumes total)

And because you can always add more to the pile, here’s a list of books and movies I’ve read/seen that are worth your time.

I’ll end with a few pics from the trip!

The crew

Another must see – the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Lincoln Memorial is beautiful, especially at night!
A girl can’t resist going to local book stores!
I’ve mentioned before how much I love art, especially Impressionism, so I LOVED getting to see Van Gogh’s self-portrait.
And Monet!!
I’ll close with this one – I didn’t know that there was a second edition of the Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (a memorial to the Massachusetts 54th in the Civil War), but there is! The original is outside The Boston Commons.

What books have you picked up after a trip?

Changing the World, Travel Adventures

Under Our Skin Forum | A Recap

Last week I was in Tampa, FL (who quickly reminded me that I’m cool without humidity) for the Under Our Skin Forum. Based off of Benjamin Watson’s book of the same name and put on by Tyndale (excellent job friends!), it was a night with big names, but all together for a bigger purpose. As you can imagine, it’s a hard topic, but everyone shared openly and honestly and what an encouraging night.

I left the night filled with hope. These past weeks (months really) have grieved my soul, but while it won’t be an easy road and battle, our hope is in Jesus and His power to change lives. And that gives me hope. To keep fighting for justice and to keep shinning light in the darkness.

The Church, this is our time. We can make an impact on culture and show the way unity looks. We don’t have to pick sides and corners, as Benjamin pointed out, we can be in the middle. We can live in the tension of both sides. Things don’t have to be either/or in what grieves us, what we support, etc. We can support things on each side. More importantly, it needs to be that way.

There were so many excellent points, wisdom and thoughts shared. I’m thankful for Twitter, so I could stalk what other people posted since I didn’t take notes. Here’s a few quotes:

“In so many ways it seems like the American Church has slowly white-washed the Gospel. Case in point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nativity scene around Christmas where Mary isn’t a Caucasian woman with silky brown hair. There are going to be an incredible number of Jesus-worshipping, faith-filled individuals who are going to be SHOCKED when they step into the Kingdom of Heaven and realize the man seated at the right hand of God the Father is a homeless middle eastern refugee. The one we worship is a man of color. The Gospel is a rich narrative of color, race, social class, ages, and demographics invited into the same story and redeemed fully at the same cross. Our commissioning is to bring Heaven to Earth in our time here, and we can’t effectively do that if we don’t understand that Heaven is a deeply colorful, language-saturated, diverse and beautiful place where we all stand before the same King as equal creatures made in His image and unified in His grace.” Mo Isom

“If one member suffers, every single members suffers…we see our country right now, we see the pain going on, whether that’s particular demographic, a particular place. If you wake up with a splitting headache or if you’ve ever slammed your finger in a door, the first thing your body does, your physical body, is it rallies to that point of pain. It doesn’t pontificate, it doesn’t rationalize, it doesn’t say, I’m waiting for more facts. It simply says, I’m going to respond. When we weep with those who weep, I think that’s a sign of a highly functioning body. We’re spending too much time rationalizing. It’s Jesus weeping at the tomb.” Ben Sciacca

“Lord help me chose the harder right, not the easier wrong.” West Point Cadet Prayer

“The game plan for racism is in Bible- James 2:14. We need to break the huddle and run the play.” James Brown

“Just do what the Lord says to do, it’s simple, but it’s not always easy.” Tony Dungy

“Christ in you can destroy both the myth of superiority & the myth of inferiority.” Benjamin Watson

There’s so much more and the video is available to watch, if you want to find out more. Just go here.

Also, here’s a list of the panel, if you want to follow them.
Benjamin Watson
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
James Brown
Website | Facebook | Twitter
J. Kevin Butcher
WebsiteTwitter
Tony Dungy
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Charlie Strong
Warrick Dunn
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Mo Isom
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Ben Sciacca
Website | Twitter
Danny Wuerffel
Website | Twitter | Instagram
Sage Steele (Moderator)
Twitter | Instagram

Coach!

With Benjamin Watson (and yes, I’m still sad he doesn’t play for the Saints)
If y’all don’t know Mo Isom, change that quickly!
Unity is possible internet! Warrick Dunn played for the Falcons (and Bucs) and is part owner of the Falcons. Did I mention my loyalties lie with the Saints? OF COURSE I DID. 🙂
Travel Adventures

Places I Love | The Oxford Exchange – Tampa, Florida

Whenever I travel, I try and squeeze in a visit to a recommended and local book shop or tea shop. It’s so fun to see what cities offer. Thanks to Twitter and Amelia Rhodes, I checked out Oxford Exchange.

Well, Internet, I have absolutely fallen in love with this place. Oh my word…I need one in Colorado! I didn’t get a chance to try the food (although it looked so tasty), but everything about the place is perfection. Teas (all the teas!!), coffee, pastries, a cafe, books to buy, this place has it all. It’s the place you can visit with friends, for business meetings or a place to work on anything you need. I’m obsessed. So if anyone wants to invest some cash, I can point you to the perfect area in Colorado Springs.

I bought Summer Melon, TeBella Breakfast Blend (can’t not get my English Breakfast), Georgia Peach (I tried this one there and delicious – not too sweet!) and Tropical Breeze.

So yes, if you find yourself in Tampa, don’t pass this place up! Find out more:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I need this.

They have the best cards ever.
These teas called to me.
Any guesses which portraits I’d include?

I didn’t the full course, but they have afternoon tea people. AFTERNOON TEA.

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Mexico and Cali | Spring 2016

These past couple of months, I had the chance to do some traveling and if y’all have been around here for just a bit, you’ll know I pretty much live for the days of getting on a plane and going somewhere adventurous. I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do, but I did snag a few, so today is dedicated to adventure!

My first was a trip with my company, on the President’s Club, and this year was a cruise to Yucatán and Cozumel. It was also my first cruise and wasn’t a bad experience. When we got to the beaches though, I wish I could have stayed! Put me on a beautiful beach and I’m done for days!

The first stop, my friend and I decided to do the excursion to Chichen Itza. It was so worth the drive and heat.

This is the main event of these ruins, El Castillo. You can no longer climb the stairs, but it’s still really impressive.
Since I have the best memory, I forgot a few of the details about this water hole, but I do remember them saying the Mayans did some human sacrifices here. They were big on that, as we also saw the stones where they practiced this at as well.
Eagles and Jaguars were everywhere in the stones. They played a big role in their sacrifices and beliefs. (Warning, maybe don’t continue with this caption if you aren’t a fan of kinda gross facts: they would sacrifice someone and then leave the heart in a specific spot for Jaguars to come and eat. #NoThanks)
I call this “Sweaty Hot Mess in Front of Pyramid.” Bring lots and lots of water if you go. Unless you like your fingers tripling in size, then no need.
Because this was a pretty mural and helpful map!
This might sound dorky, but I love getting to eat the snacks in different countries. If we have the same snack in America, I like seeing how they might taste different. Of course I love trying new snacks too. Plus the packaging not being in English makes me smile.
Why couldn’t I stay forever? Whyyyyyyy???
This picture is terribly crafted ; ), but here’s a view when we were leaving Cozumel. Zero filters added… just look at that water!!
The sunsets at sea were pretty amazing as well – this was the view from my balcony.

Next stop was California to visit the family because it was time to meet my nephew!!! It worked out perfect because it was Mother’s Day Weekend and my brother’s birthday and I love being there for fun celebrations.

Here’s our first photo together. Clearly his expression says “I love you Auntie!”

For my Mama!

Just because, here’s my sister and I. We did a face swap on Snapchat and were cracking up because there wasn’t much difference.
Snapchat antics with B.
Dancing with Gabs

Have I mentioned how much I love being Auntie to these three?

We’ll be back to our regular bookish programing tomorrow, but I couldn’t resist sharing pictures :). Any fun travels for y’all coming up?

Oh and I almost forgot this guy. Is anyone on Snapchat? I kinda love it. People are funny and I love seeing what people Snap. Plus the filters are awesome and hilarious. If you’re on it, I’m jamielynne1982. I had to have my cousin show me the ropes, but once I got the hang of it, I’m hooked! This is a collection of my flight shenanigans snaps when I was trying to get to Cali….delayed flights can be fun ;).

Travel Adventures

Why Travel? Here’s 7 Reasons

“Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

I’m not sure who first said that, but to that I say YES AND AMEN.

I remember the exact moment in life I decided I would see the world. It was 1991 and I was 9. My parents decided to take us to Walt Disney World Florida (and also exciting Edgard, Louisiana). I may have shared bits of this story before, so forgive me for any repeats.

We all went to Epcot Center on one of the days and after “visiting” the first country, I was 900% hooked. You see, Epcot Center has several international pavilions and each had people from those countries working there. My parents bought me a passport and I got to go around to each place, look at the architecture, see the cute trinkets and talk to people from around the world.

I was deeply and madly in love.

I think it was after 2-3 stops my parents realized there was no stopping my mission to visit every country. So we split up, my Mom took my siblings and cousin on rides and my Dad took me to each country. Rides? What rides Dad?! I gotta see the world!

I still have it!

So began my lifelong love of traveling both near and far (I talked about the lovely Ireland here). Here’s the thing with the travel bug; once you start you will never want to stop and I think that’s amazing.

On a recent trip to Colorado (I 100% blame recent travels for neglect of this blog, but hey, it provided some new inspiration!) I was thinking about why I love traveling and thought it was the perfect time to convince the Internet to travel as much as possible!

This post is unsponsored, but if an airline company sees it and likes it, feel free to pass along a free flight or two. I shall graciously expect :).

1. The world is no longer a face without a name. I think one of the reasons I have such a passion for social justice and change is because I’ve been to many of these places and have seen the beautiful faces behind all of the stats. It’s amazing how much our perceptions and thoughts change towards fellow man when we have to opportunity to spend time with them. I’m not saying you have to spend days, sometimes it is just a few passing moments.

2. It is fun! I can go on for days about this one. I don’t have a study to quote, but I’m pretty sure there is a scientific evidence out there proving that you burn more calories due to laughing and adventuring. Whether with family or friends, fun is waiting. Right now I’m laughing while typing this thinking of hilarious times.

Visiting a school is Zambia – loved these kids!

3. You get to challenge yourself and stretch yourself. This might sound crazy, but not everyone lives like we do in the United States of America. Wha??? I know right? Who would have thought…

4. The food. I admit, I don’t eat anything and everything. Vanilla is and always will be my favorite ice cream. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try things at least once (I draw the line at bugs internet). There is some amazing food out there in the world just waiting to be eaten. Now I’m thinking of all the foods I’m craving that are far, far away from me. Curses.

San Fran with my sister and close friends = we all still crave the crepes.

5. Culture changes you as a person (and for the better). Trust me on this.

6. Cheeseball alert…the memories!! A significant majority of my favorite all times memories have been while I am traveling – whether a short road trip or somewhere international, the memories truly do last forever. Like I said, cheeseball to the core. ; )

When your friend turns 30, you go on a trip!

7. Beauty. One thing that reminds me of God’s creativity and majesty is traveling. Whether a beach, the mountains or people’s compassion and kindness, seeing the world has always drawn me closer to Jesus in ways I’ll never forget.

It’s probably because I’m itching to plan my next trip, but I hope y’all are inspired to pack up a car full of friends or maybe hop on a plane and go somewhere fun. If you aren’t sure where to start, I hear Austin has some cool people and pretty amazing food.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Why do you love to travel? Where would you love to go if money wasn’t an issue?

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Breckenridge, CO | Fall 2015

After years of only ever seeing Colorado through the terminals of Denver International Airport, I finally was able to explore more of the state with a recent girlfriends’ weekend. To say I loved it would be extremely accurate. Seeing it in Fall? Nearly missed my flight on purpose!

It was incredibly relaxing and refreshing and I’m so thankful to have friends who love adventure as much as I do! The one bummer is I didn’t get to see the husky puppies – apparently it was off season. Just means I’ll have to go back! Here’s a few shots to convince you to visit as well.

Watch out for these hikers…

I can’t say I was as photo happy in Denver, so below is all I got for evidence :). Denver has a big brewing culture like the ATX and so we checked out the Great Divide Brewing Co. This was the Denver Pale Ale and reminded me of some of the pale ales from around Austin. Tasty brew!

Where’s your favorite place to be in Fall?