Colorado (Part 1) | Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park & Garden of the Gods

Have you caught up with all my Travel America posts? โšก๏ธ

You know when you visit a place and you can’t stop singing a certain song? (ie, “New York, New York” – Sinatra. Or “California Love” – Tupac). That’s how I felt when I was in Colorado. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver as much as I did when I was in the “Mile High City.” But hey, I’m not complaining. Denver’s one of my favorite artists of all time.

Anyway, here’s what I was up to during the first half of my stay in Colorado. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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The first stop in Colorado was the Garden of the Gods. This natural rock park was full of these incredible formations and there were tons of hiking, biking and horseback trails. The best part? It’s free to enter AND you can even drive through the park and get up close to all the formations, if you don’t feel like walking through!

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See that baby moon? One of my favorite things so far on this trip is being out in nature for all the phases of the moon. I love being able to stargaze with totally clear skies – it’s incredible! It’s also the perfect setting for writing, which I’ve been able to do a ton of!

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The Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in my life – and I’ve been to some pretty incredible places. With an elevation of over 12,000 feet, hundreds of different animal species, over 150 lakes, 1.7 billion year old rocks, and a temperature range of -39F to 96F – Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most diverse and stunning parks in the U.S.

I did the driving tour, which took about an hour and a half with a lunch break at the visitor’s center (at the highest elevation!). It was beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back one day soon!

colorado sunset

One last thing, the sunsets in Colorado knocked me off my feet. If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for sunsets, and these did not disappoint!

Have you ever visited Colorado? What was your favorite part of the state? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Colorado (Part 1) | Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park & Garden of the Gods

New Mexico | Exploring Taos art community & driving through forest fires

I love the desert. If you followed my journey through Arizona, you’d know just how healing the desert is to me. There’s just something about the warm tones, heat, sunshine, open spaces and prickly plants that makes my heart feel complete. And when I was in New Mexico, I experienced all of those feelings all over again. I explored the city of Taos, which is a beautiful artist community and I witnessed the devastating forest fires first-hand, which was terrifying and beautiful in its own right. I loved New Mexico, here are photos from my stay there.

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Driving through the deep forest and emerging to see rocky mountainsides and cliffs is one of my favorite things in the world. As a young girl, I remember driving into the woods with my birth father. We left the house around 4am, and I slept the whole way. When I woke, bright and beautiful rocky mountainsides would be the first thing I would see. To some, they’re just rocks, but to me, there are so many memories within nature. I hold it so near and dear to my heart.

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Exploring the artist community of Taos was absolutely beautiful. All the buildings in the town were historic adobe buildings, surrounded by art, flowers and delicious food on every corner. For lunch, I ate at the Alley Cantina, which is the city’s oldest building! It was built in the 16th century by the Pueblo Indians (yes, 16th century!). It was amazing. If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it for the great food and amazing history and culture ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

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new mexico sunset

Overall, my stay in New Mexico was full of downtime, lots of outdoor time and enjoying the sunshine. I slowed down a bit and caught up on a few books I’m reading, and thought a lot about my past, present and future. The desert always brings out the over-thinker in me, but it’s always constructive. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Have you ever visited New Mexico or Taos?

New Mexico | Exploring Taos art community & driving through forest fires

Texas | Exploring Cadillac Ranch & world famous Big Texan steaks

Are you caught up with all of my Road Trip America travel posts? Check them out here! ๐Ÿ˜Š

I’ve always wanted to visit Texas. I’m not sure why, there’s just always been something otherworldly about it. Cowboys… ranches… country music… big open spaces… comfort food…ย  “y’all.” There’s nothing else quite like it!

During the 24 hours I was in Texas, I stayed in Amarillo, which is at the very top of the state. I visited the Cadillac Ranch and The Big Texan, and I highly recommend visiting both of these places! I only drove through the very top of Texas, but it left an impression on me and I know I’ll be back!

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Driving through the northern part of Texas and staying in Amarillo was beautiful. I was talking to a friend who lives in Texas and when I told him I was visiting Amarillo his response was: “Congratulations, you’re staying in the ugliest part of the state!”

But I thought it was beautiful. Granted, it was probably because I’ve never been there before and it was totally new to me, but in any event, I loved all these open spaces, golden colors and lots and lots of quiet. It reminded meย a lot of Oklahoma!

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Where I stayed in Amarillo, there was a bright yellow restaurant with huge cows out front. I thought it was just a cheesy tourist trap, but it turns out, it’s a world-famous steakhouse and major celebrities and TV shows have filmed here! The Big Texan is known for their 72 ounce steak, and if you can finish it in under a certain amount of time, it’s free! A few years ago, a lady finished not one, but THREE of these steaks in 20 minutes… how? I have no idea.

I had a small ribeye, and it was delicious but I don’t need 72 ounces of it haha! ๐Ÿ˜‚

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“Your comfort zone will kill you”

I love this. The entire time I’ve been on this road trip, I’ve kept thinking how much easier and better it would be if I just went back to my old life, or back to the comfort of a house and job. And while it IS what I want eventually, right now it is so nice being pushed out of my comfort zone. Every day, I’m faced with new challenges and emotions and instead of hiding from them or distracting myself with a job, I’m forced to face them head first.

I can’t wait to see the strong, resilient, amazing person I’ll become after this trip is over! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

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Visiting the Cadillac Ranch was incredible. I love quirky roadside attractions like these, and this one did not disappoint! Driving by, you can almost miss it. It’s just a huge empty field and out in the middle of it, is a group of Cadillacs half-buried in the dirt and covered with graffiti. The best part? It’s completely FREE! Woohoo!


What is your favorite quirky roadside attraction that I shouldn’t miss on my travels? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Texas | Exploring Cadillac Ranch & world famous Big Texan steaks

Oklahoma | Pioneer Woman Mercantile & surviving a real southern storm

I’ve been wanting to go to Pawhuska, Oklahoma ever since I started watching The Pioneer Woman. Fun fact: it was always her show that I’d watch when I felt low and needed a feeling of comfort. I also love recreating her recipes, which you can check out here. I was only in Oklahoma for a day and a half, but I toured the Mercantile, ate really great food and got caught in a storm. All in all, Oklahoma treated me well ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

oklahoma road sign oklahoma

Crossing the border into Oklahoma felt surreal, not because it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit, but because I never thought I’d ever go there. So far on this adventure, visiting places I’ve never been to has been an incredible feeling and I hope everyone gets to do something like this.

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What do you think of when you think of Oklahoma? For me, I always thought of open plains, golden crops, and lots of brown. When I saw forests, rivers and hills, I was. blown. away.

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This Cowboy Coffee was AMAZING. Eating at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile was a check off my bucket list! I love watching her show, and to actually visit her restaurant and shop was the BEST.

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Seriously, how perfect is this redhead cowgirl?! I regret not buying this…

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Driving through Oklahoma was dangerous. All of a sudden, the sky turned black and it started pouring, hailing, and a tornado warning was in effect. (These photos were at 3pm!)

Then, almost in a matter of minutes the skies opened back up, the wind stopped howling, and the clouds painted themselves bright shades of orange, pink and violet.

Driving through that storm, I wanted SO badly to turn around and go back to where it wasn’t storming, I was scared and wanted to run away from the unknown, but I knew that storms move, and this one was certainly moving quickly. So if I just kept going, I’d soon be on the other side. This was a gentle reminder that just like in life, we’ll be faced with challenges, scary moments, and the unknown, but if we run away from these problems we’ll just be met with them again. Whereas, if we keep moving forward and work through them, we’ll be met with brighter days.


I hope you’re doing well, and if you’re currently in the midst of a storm, keep moving forward. Brighter days are ahead! โค

Oklahoma | Pioneer Woman Mercantile & surviving a real southern storm

Tennessee | Visiting Memphis & Graceland (Part 2)

*Hi! Have you seen Part 1 of my Tennessee trip? ๐Ÿ˜Š

I only stayed in Tennessee for a short while, but for the time I was there, I had the time of my life! From the sights, to the nature, to the sweet people, everything left a great impression on me – and I wouldn’t mind living there! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Of course, I couldn’t leave without visiting Memphis and Graceland! Here are my photos from the second part of my trip to Tennessee!

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Growing up, I spent part of my summers with my grandparents in Southern California. During that time, my memories were mixed in between Elvis songs. I remember riding in the backseat while my grandma hummed along to Elvis crooning over the radio speakers. And sitting at the kitchen table while my grandpa danced to “Viva Las Vegas,” followed by an uncanny impersonation. Needless to say, visiting Graceland was special for me and I felt my grandpa with me that day.

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Side note: If anyone knows anyone who looks like Elvis, tell him I’m single ๐Ÿ˜‰

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graceland

graceland

Standing on the front steps of Elvis’ Memphis mansion shook me to the core. I just kept saying to myself: He stood here. He stood on these steps. He opened this door. This is HIS house!! It was so surreal.

Also: He was very brave with all the white considering he had little Lisa Marie running around! I wonder what stain fighter they used… ๐Ÿ˜

graceland

Elvis’ Meditation Gardens was one of my favorite places on the property, and coincidentally, it was his favorite place as well. He used to come out here and just sit and think, relax, and pray. It was modeled after fountains in Italy, and there were even original stained glass pieces from 1800s Spain!

graceland

I stood here at this spot for a good 10 minutes. It was overwhelming. I could hear a mixture of people next to me crying, talking about his life, reading the gravestones, and my own thoughts. Here lies a man who had a dream and made it a reality, all the while never forgetting his family, his faith, his humble beginnings, and the person he was before the fame and fortune.

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Touring his car collection had me in awe. I’m not a huge car person per se… If you asked me anything about these cars, I’d tell you they’re white, pink and red ๐Ÿ˜‚ย However, I felt so lucky to be in the presence of these beauties that Elvis sat in and that were the highlight of so many iconic films.

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“Before Elvis, there was nothing” – John Lennon

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Here are only SOME of Elvis’ awards. SOME! This wall is over 25 feet tall and full of awards, yet this is only some of the awards Elvis received in his lifetime. If that doesn’t signify what a legendary artist he was, I don’t know what does. Breathtaking.


Have you ever visited Memphis or Graceland? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Tennessee | Visiting Memphis & Graceland (Part 2)

Tennessee | Exploring Franklin, Natchez Trace & the great outdoors! (Part 1)

For months, I have been dreaming about Tennessee. There’s something about it that holds part of my heart, so when it was time for me to step foot into the great state, I was over the moon. I’m a huge country music fan, there’s nothing better than sweet southern folk, and the thought of orange sunsets makes my heart sing. Here are some photos from my trip to central Tennessee – Franklin, Natchez Trace and the great southern outdoors.

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So far, it’s stormed in every state I’ve been in. I love the rain, and I especially love that each rain feels different – granted, that’s probably all in my head, but I love it nonetheless.

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Tennessee forests are gorgeous, green, and strangely familiar. I loved exploring the Natchez Trace, just south of Nashville – if you’re in the area, you have to visit!

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If you’re in Franklin, youย need to go to Biscuit Love. I’ve never heard of it before, but as I was driving down the streets of Franklin, saw a mile-long line out front and decided to stop for lunch. Best. Idea. Ever. It was so good! I ordered the “Princess,” which is a spicy chicken sandwich on one of their famous biscuits (and of course, I got sweet tea to wash it down ๐Ÿ˜Ž)

franklin tennessee

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Downtown Franklin was everything I dreamt of and more. I can easily see why it’s named “America’s Favorite Small Town”! I only spent a few hours here, but I wouldn’t mind staying forever.

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The long drives have been healing, seeing towns appear and disappear from view, watching hills turn into dirt, into forests and back into cities, tracing corn crops and creating stories for the clouds hung in the sky.

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The weather cleared up enough to take the boat out, which was beautiful. I always feel so free out on the water. Anyone else?

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On the last night, I soaked in this beautiful Tennessee sunset. I see now why Tennessee’s color is orange – just look at this bright sky! I’ve fallen in love with Tennessee, and I can’t wait to be back!


Keep an eye out for Part 2 of my Tennessee trip soon! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tennessee | Exploring Franklin, Natchez Trace & the great outdoors! (Part 1)

Florida | Orlando, Universal Studios & seeing gators! (Part 2)

Have you checked out Part 1 of my Florida trip? ๐Ÿ˜Š

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During the last few days in Florida, I had to go on a Gator Tour so I went to a place called Camp Holly’s! They had an awesome tiki bar, baby gators on site, and the funniest air boat captains. I had the best time, I highly recommend this place! (And if you do go, order a margarita and tell the bartender I say hi!)

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Since I was in Orlando, Iย had to go to Universal Studios! (I was planning on going to DisneyWorld, but I’ll save that for another time). I’m a huge Simpsons fan, so I loved seeing KrustyLand, and of course the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a blast!

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This also marks the first week of living on the road (and not in an actual “house”). So far, so good! It’s taking some adjustment, but I grew up camping so I love it. The only downside right now is the lack of stable, reliable Wi-Fi, but I’m working around it as best as I can, while still enjoying the outdoors!

I’ve been writing a lot for myself, which I love doing because I love being able to look back at my words and feelings. Being out on the road and away from every day distractions has been a blessing in disguise. However, speaking of blessings, a few days before I hit the road I got some bad news. That morning was rough, but I haven’t been focusing on the negatives of it all – instead, I’ve been seeing it for all that it IS and not what it could have been. I may touch on this later, but for right now I’m keeping this to myself, allowing myself to grow from it, and continuing to seek out the positives in my every day.


Have you ever visited Orlando, Universal Studios, or gone on a gator tour? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Florida | Orlando, Universal Studios & seeing gators! (Part 2)

Florida | St. Augustine, Cocoa Beach & getting ready for life on the road! (Part 1)

My grand adventure of living on the road has officially begun! (And as I’m writing this, I’m sitting at an auto repair shop in the outskirts of Nashville – more on that later). The first stop on my trip was Florida to visit family before I hit the road. I explored a ton and had a blast. Here are some photos from the first leg of my road trip across America!

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Nearly every community is built on or around the water, and it’s unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. I love these little docks behind all these houses!

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Exploring old town St. Augustine was incredible! It’s one of America’s oldest cities and it was founded in the mid-1500s! I explored a 17th century stone fortress, walked through the streets of the old town (with a strawberry ice cream in hand, of course), and visited America’s oldest wooden schoolhouse (still standing from the early 1700s)! This little town was amazing, and if you’re in the area I highly recommend visiting!

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Hawaii has some amazing sunsets, but there’s nothing quite like Florida sunsets. Every day, it started raining around 3pm and when the skies broke around the sunset, it was magical. (Also, if you go to Sonic, go during their Happy Hour time and get the peanut butter oreo shake – you’re welcome ๐Ÿ˜‰)

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Cocoa Beach is one of the cutest little beach towns, and visiting the Ron Jon shop was such a blast! I love all the colors here, they make me so happy.

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I felt very fortunate to be able to spend my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day with both my dad and grandfather this year. We went out to a German restaurant (their favorite food!)

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This first taste of life on the road was sweet, and I’m looking forward to all the adventures that are to come! (Look out for Part 2 of this post soon! ๐Ÿ˜Š)

Florida | St. Augustine, Cocoa Beach & getting ready for life on the road! (Part 1)

Saying goodbye to my island home

A few months ago, I came back to Hawaii seeking comfort. And a few months after that, I decided I was ready to move on with my life. The islands healed me, and I knew I was ready for new adventures and a new chapter. Saying goodbye to my island home wasn’t easy, but it was time and I’m looking forward to what my future holds for me! Here’s what my last few days looked like on Maui. Man, will I miss those waters…

Always in my heart, always my home. Hawaii I love you. Thank you for healing me. โค


Have you ever left your home? This is my umpteenth time leaving, but it’s for good this time. I don’t plan on moving back. Visiting, definitely. Living there, never. This world is too big to stay in one place!

Saying goodbye to my island home

A Life on the Road | Leaving comfort behind for a life of exploring and discovering

If you had met me a few years ago, I would have told you that having a secure, stable job, a home, and a routine were the most important things in life. I’ve grown since then. I’ve gone down that path and I’ve realized that following a structure like that only led me to being unhappy. I was secure and safe, yes. I was able to pay my bills and I always had food to eat and a roof over my head. But after I got it all, I found that I was still lacking something – true happiness and freedom.

After all my searching, I was still lost.

I thought that once I got that job, furnished that home, and found that person – I would be happy and complete. I thought that’s what life was supposed to be. But I was wrong.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to love and be loved – but I came to realize that as long as I neglected myself, I would never find true happiness.

So, I left everything I knew. I came back to Hawaii, a place I find comfort in. For the last 8 months, I’ve been working on myself every single day. I’ve been focusing on my heart, mind, soul, and body. I’m happy. I’m strong. I’m confident. Months ago, I was a wreck, I was unsure, I felt hopeless and lost. Now, when I think of my past, I don’t shatter into a million pieces – I am able to realize the growth and the lessons, and I give thanks to my past.

I figured life out (I think)

After the last few months – painful heartache, a nuclear missile threat, volcano eruptions, and many other life changes – I’ve realized what is important to me. (Yes, it took alllll of that for me to come to my grand realization)

Life isย notย about getting the structure and stability that comes with a job, house and security. Don’t get me wrong, those things are nice and a necessity to a certain extent – but they areย not what life is all about! (at least, not to me anyway).

Here is an equation that has helped me make my decision to live life on the road:

Life = Short

Earth = Big

What does that leave me with? Obviously, traveling as much as I can right now to see as much as I can and experience everything while I still can.

So that’s what I’m doing.

A life on the road | How, where, when

There is way too much to see in this life to be stuck behind a desk. This world is waiting for me to embrace it, so embrace it I will!

Later this week, I will be flying to the east coast, and that’s where my adventure will begin.

I’ll be visiting every US state, every National Park, roadside attraction and of course… the UFOs!

There’s no end destination or date, I’ll just be traveling around as long as I please or until I’ve found a place I’ve fallen in love with enough to settle down (whichever comes first!)


I’m excited for this, I’m excited to see a new place every day, experience something new, breathe in new surroundings, meet new people, and become fully engulfed in discovering more and more of myself.

I hope you come along for the ride โค

A Life on the Road | Leaving comfort behind for a life of exploring and discovering