Archive for the ‘Travel Updates’ Category

The Shores of Lake Michigan

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

The last few days of our road trip have been a whirlwind of activity that took us from Sioux Falls, South Dakota all the way to East Jordan, Michigan.

First of all, Sioux Falls really impressed me! The Falls Park just outside of downtown there is a lush expanse of green broken up by a massive waterfall system.

The cascading water brings life to this charming midwest town.

It was a wonderful start to our day especially since we didn’t do much else for the rest of the day. We spent the night in Madison, Wisconsin which is a place I really do love but we didn’t have much time to stay around or do things.

We blasted on through Madison for a long two day series of adventure up the western shore of Michigan along Lake Michigan. I never truly experienced the wonders of western Michigan but the coast of Lake Michigan was full of surprising gems and crystal clear waters.

We tried to stop at as many lighthouses on our way up north as possible. Here are a few of my favorites:

Big Red in Holland, Michigan

Holland was a wonderful town and I especially loved the windmills that truly evoke the dutch country Holland is named after.

Point Betsie Lighthouse near Frankfort, Michigan

Manistee Lighthouse, Manistee

Ludington Lighthouse

The only thing that rivaled the beauty of the lighthouses was the stunning gradient of sapphire and emerald colors in the water.

Our major destination along the western coast of Michigan was Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Driving through the covered bridge bearing the National Park insignia was the marker that we had arrived!

We ran up and down the dunes, marveling at the spectacular Lake Michigan waters.

It felt like we had escaped to the Caribbean even though we were in the middle of Michigan. This country constantly surprises me with the exotic scenery.

The history contained within the boundaries of this small lakeshore national park was thrilling to experience.  There were so many old shipping buildings, barns, and manufacturing spaces.

Of all the small towns we stopped in I enjoyed Leland’s Fishtown the most. This charming fish village offered emerald waters, old world homes, and entertaining fishing boats with great names like Joy.

The drive through Michigan had a lot of ups and downs but was full of joy. After many different towns, lots of swimming in Lake Michigan, and an impromptu trip to urgent care after stepping on a rusty pin we made it to our final destination: Petoskey. We stayed south of Petoskey for a few days where I got to watch my cousin get married! But that story is for next time ūüôā

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The Wild Life Part 2: The Badlands

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The Black Hills once again showed off by wowing us with dazzling landscapes and very opportune wildlife appearances. When we arrive at the first overlook of Badlands National Park early in the morning my mom and I were both stunned by the surreal beauty of this unusual park.

As I scrambled down into a good position for my landscape shots, I nonchalantly declared that “The only thing that would make this view better would be if a bighorn sheep was right front in center.” As I checked in my view finder to line up my show I was astonished to see that I had been lucky enough to find right in front of me a bighorn sheep slowly making his way up the side of the mountain right toward me.

As I stammered out excited exclamations to draw my mom’s attention and gesticulated wildly in the bighorn sheep’s direction, he only continued to calmly move even closer.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. I already felt insanely spoiled by my mountain goat sighting and here was another beautiful animal standing right before me.

The wild beauty held in the square caramel pupil of the bighorn sheep once again shocked me into total astonishment. How can a quiet majesty like this exist in a world full of so much noise?

The National Parks are so incredibly important to this country and sadly so many people will never get to experience the wonder preserved within the boundaries of these parks. These special places are not a manufactured space for the amusement of tourists, but rather they represent the remnants of a world left undisturbed by modernization and the greedy outstretched hand of man.

The Badlands in many ways epitomize the strange glory of the national park system. You drive into what appears to be nothing more than endless grasslands when suddenly you find yourself standing on the precipice of a natural wonder shaped by a millennia of natural forces. These spires and rocky edifices were carved by the hand of Mother Nature meticulously to cradle the unique characteristics of the world.

Even the wild animals embody a special feeling of otherworldliness. I was lucky enough to witness an entire family of bighorn sheep including several small babies. The fresh eyes of new born life shone brightly in their dark gaze. Locking eyes with these graceful creatures brings an exhilarating rush of understanding that stems from some unknown place inside of me. I don’t know exactly what it is that feels so understood in those moments, but I know that I will carry it with me always.

The Badlands really display the beauty of barrenness. Last time I explored the Badlands everything appeared to be dust, but this time around I was lucky enough to see the ground coated in green and a sparse, yet beautiful collection of wildflowers sprinkled throughout the park. The deep desert hues of the mountains contrasted so brilliantly with the green grass of the plains. 

The life here can seem so fleeting and in many ways that is what makes it so extraordinary. The continual struggle for survival, for a single foothold in life in a place as extreme as the Badlands, really illuminates the resilience of nature and the determination to continue on despite seasons of barrenness.

The best way to experience this for yourself is definitely to lace up your hiking boots and head deep into the rocky crags and spires of the park. Behind the looming towers of layered rock exists a microcosm of clay riverbeds, veins of blue grey pumice, and secret caverns of water carved rock.

My favorite hike in the park has to be the Notch Trail near the eastern visitor center. When you leave behind the boardwalks leading across the rocks and weave your way through the rocky towers, there lies a log ladder snaking up the mountainside.

This deceptively tall ladder while visually stunning creates quite the bottleneck of hiker traffic so definitely arrive early to dodge the crowds and enjoy the peaceful canyon trail! 

After climbing to the top of the notch and hiking a great deal around the park we took a fun break from the serious beauty of the Badlands by visiting a prairie dog town just outside of the park.

As I said before, I’m a sucker for these little guys. Especially when they come in groups of two!

We were sad to leave, but let’s be real, when would I ever be happy to leave a National Park.

On to Madison and then the western side of lower Michigan!

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The Wild Life

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

The last two days have been long but filled with inexplicable beauty. We left the Grand Tetons as the sun rose, casting the impressive mountain range in golden light. It was hard to leave this extraordinary national park but we were drawn forward in our journey with the promise of even more great national parks to come. Our next adventure destination: the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Our first stop in the Black Hills was the Wind Caves National Park where sprawling grasslands spotted with wildlife hides miles of intricate crystalline caves just below the surface. Sadly we didn’t have time to go into the caves but that just means one more reason we have to come back!

As we left the Wind Caves we wove our way through rolling prairies on our way to our next stop, Custer State Park. Generally state parks are overshadowed by the grandeur of national parks, but one thing road tripping across the country has taught me is to never underestimate a state park. Custer State Park is a prime example of this. This preserve for wildlife and gorgeous grasslands never fails to awe me.

Our first wildlife encounter began with a prairie dog town that stretched far across the grassy landscape. These frisky little ground mammals are often heard before they are seen since their barking warning sounds echo from burrow to burrow whenever you draw near.

I personally love these little guys. They have so much character and always make me laugh. I had a great time photographing them as they ran from hole to hole, whisking their tails, and arching their backs as they called out to their neighbors.

There is literally wildlife all over this state park. Everywhere you turn there is some beautiful animal waiting to be discovered. As a wildlife photographer, spotting and photographing wild animals brings me so much life and excitement. I felt so in my element with my camera in hand and eyes keenly surveying every inch of the park. I can’t express how much I enjoy this place.

Custer is known for what their “Begging Burrows” or a group of donkeys that have learned to beg for food from tourists driving through the park. While I disapprove of feeding wildlife it does make for some fun experiences when a donkey walks straight up to your window and sticks its head right in looking for food.

This donkey even head butted my camera as he tried to stick his head into the car. I loved watching them meander down the roads and then venture out into the mustard grass hills of the park.

After our time with the begging burrows we were on the hunt for bison and found ourselves sadly lacking in opportunities to spy these giant iconic animals. We did discover quite a few beautiful roads while we pursued the illusive bison.

We actually only found bison once we left Custer State Park but boy was I excited to finally find them!

I did almost get charged by an angry male bison, but aside from that, I loved watching these lumbering creatures graze slowly across the grasslands.

After the bison, our Black Hills exploration led us to SD- 87, which is popularly known as Needles Highway.

This extraordinary stretch of highway weaves up the Black Hills through narrow rock tunnels and towering needle-like spires of rock.

We loved the drive but found ourselves suddenly stopped before one of the major tunnels in a traffic jam. When I left the car to investigate the reason for the sudden halt in traffic I discovered a mountain goat casually blocking traffic in the tunnel as he continually licked the wall.

When a barking dog in one of the cars finally startled the mountain goat out of the tunnel and back to his natural mountainous habitat, I was lucky enough to have front row seats from which to photograph him.

He was really quite the model and gave me every angle of his handsome face. I may have taken approximately 1,000 pictures of him as he climbed around the rocks and showed off his good looks.

I could not believe how lucky we were. Being blessed enough to experience moments like this makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. It still shocks me how much I have experienced becase of amazing trips such as this one.

I feel so humbled staring into the face of wild beauty. Driving across the country provides me with the opportunity to glimpse behind the curtain of natural wonders. I live for moments like this and wouldn’t exchange my memories of moments such as this for anything.

The shock of experiencing this natural beauty still had not worn off by the time we reached our final destination in the Black Hills for the day: Mount Rushmore.

This man made marvel offered a provocative juxtaposition to the wild beauty we had just encountered.

It wouldn’t be fair to choose one experience over the other, but it shows just how quickly vastly different experiences occur when adventuring on the road. This country has (almost) too much to discover. It feels both overwhelming in its sheer quantity and also exhilarating knowing there will never be an end to the adventure this life has to offer.

 

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A Day of Reflections

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

The beauty of stillness is similar to the beauty of water; it fills the space you create for it. Stillness in nature and in mind allows for reflection that can awe and astonish with its depth.

We had a full day in Grand Tetons National Park today and every minute was filled with beauty and reflections. Stormy skies cast the morning in a mysterious atmosphere of oncoming turbulence, however it proved to only be a threat when blue skies finally prevailed. Even the dark and cloudy skies only served to enhance the beauty of this amazing national park.

Our day was spent hiking between several of Grand Teton’s most beautiful lakes including Jenny Lake, String Lake, and Leigh Lake. The deep colors and still waters I witnessed on my eight mile hike took my breath away.

The Tetons were really showing off today with all of their best colors and reflections. It felt like the world had been turned upside-down and I was lost somewhere between where the water began and the earth ascended. You could have flipped the world over and everything would have stayed the same.

The trail we hiked was gorgeous and ran along three different lakes right on the waters edge. It was hard not to stop at every single cove or outlet where the crystal clear water lapped at sandy shores. However, the mosquitos chased us the entire hike and I think I may just be a giant collection of mosquito bites at this point. We were truly being swarmed every single time we stopped and even while we were still moving.

In the end the bug bites were worth it because every single bend in the trail or bridge we crossed offered up the most incredible views I have ever seen.

We also left the lakeside to climb the side of the great mountains and came across fields of wildflowers, winding paths through stunning meadows, and then back down once more to the lakes below.

The final bridge we crossed was both a celebration and a last longing to never leave the foothills of those beautiful mountains.

The Tetons will always have a place in my heart. This gorgeous mountain range offers unending beauty that neither photos nor words can fully capture. I suppose that is the root of the beauty here, it cannot be capture; the freedom of this untamed natural wonderland will never belong to people. Every time I come to a place such as this I am only a visitor, a very blessed human humbled by something so much greater than myself.

I hate to leave but I also know that this place will never leave me. The Grand Tetons will always be one of my favorite national parks and I am so happy to have had the brief and wondrous time in this park once more. Until next time…

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Doing More with a Day

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Road trips create a strange dynamic for the passing of time because each 24 hours occurs as it normally does, yet so many vastly different experiences can happen during that normal expanse of time. Today was one of those days were it felt like three different days crammed into one.

The first part of our day was spent in Idaho where the miles crept by along with countless fields of corner and empty silos. The monotony of this was only briefly interrupted by the most Idaho tourist stop ever: the Idaho Potato Museum.

As we drew closer to Wyoming the landscape drastically changed and suddenly the flat farmland gave way to gorgeous rolling hills of green and yellow. I had to stop in this amazing field of mustard grass where the yellow of the endless land seemed to shine brighter than the sun. It took my breath away. There is a simple yet wondrous joy that comes from experiencing awe-inspiring natural beauty like this.

After leaving the sunny fields of mustard grass, I couldn’t stop smiling. Everything we came across seemed beautiful after that, even old collapsing barns left abandoned to the whims of time.

After coming over the Teton Pass we finally arrived at our destination for the next two nights, Jackson, Wyoming. We didn’t stay put for long though since we had a day full of adventures in Jackson Hole.

Our first stop was Teton Village where we decided to take an aerial tram to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain, which sits at just over 10,000 feet in elevation.

The ascent was breath-taking, literally. The thin cold air made it difficult to breathe and definitely made my dizziness issues much worse. Still, it was entirely worth it because the views were stunning!

You could see almost all of Jackson Hole from the top, including the Grand Teton range which towered in the distance.

We were on top of the world and despite the biting winds and thin air, we enjoyed every second up there.

After enjoying a delicious hot chocolate, building a cairn on top of the mountain, and way too many pictures we descended so we could begin the next part of our adventure.

We drove to the Grand Teton National Park proper to squeeze in a hike at Phelps Lake. The hike through pine forests, across rivers, and along the lakeside really was all we could have asked for.

I even got to check off my biggest goal for my time in the Tetons: see a Moose. Technically, I went above and beyond because we found a mother moose and her newborn calf. We watched them feeding for quite some time but had to leave because we started getting devoured by mosquitos.

The best part of the hike was Phelps Lake itself. The crystal clear emerald waters and the rocks hiding beneath the surface all perfectly accented the towering mountains looming in the distance. It was truly a perfect sight.

Our first day in the Grand Tetons was exactly how I had hope it would be. I have been wanting to return to this National Park for over five years now since I felt I took the wrong approach during my first visit a decade ago.

I cannot wait to see what tomorrow holds. We are already pretty exhausted from our trip but super excited for what is to come. Tomorrow we will be spending the whole day in Jackson Hole and if it is even half as good as today was, I will be ecstatic.

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The Journey Begins

Friday, June 29th, 2018

The journey begins hours before the sun peaked over the mountains of the East Bay when my mom and I said goodbye to our California home in hushed whispers.

We drove almost 800 miles today and crossed through 3 different states. Tonight we find ourselves in Twin Falls, Idaho where Evel Knievel once attempted to jump the Snake River in a steam-powered rocket. Crazy, right?

Today was mostly a day of just driving, coffee, and bad singing in the car. We didn’t have any real stops along the way to Twin Falls. We had to stop at Philz coffee, however, before crossing the California state line into Nevada, but that was about it.

Twin Falls offered a wealth of beautiful sights to take in under their perfectly blue skies. My favorite was Shoshone Falls State Park where water cascades over huge cliffs like a mini Niagara Falls

I tried to take a normal looking picture of myself in front of this spectacular sight but the wind had other plans…

It was a great way to end a long day of driving. I can’t believe we started our journey and this is only the first of many adventure filled days to come.

 

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On the Road Again

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

It is hard to believe these words even as I write them:

I am hitting the road again for a cross country road trip.

Almost three years ago I wrote the same thing on this blog and it was just as hard to believe then as it is today. A lot has changed in three years and not all for the better. I am a very different person than the one who climbed into my little Prius three years ago determined to test her horizons and welcome in a world of experiences yet to come.

When I returned from my nomadic life on the road and tried to lay down some roots of my own in San Francisco, my life was quickly turned upside-down by illness and misfortune. As I wrote about in a previous post I was struck down by a mysterious illness called Mal de Debarqumont Syndrome that has forever changed my life.

Over the last three years my horizon shrank to nearly nothing. All of the work to prove to myself how capable I was and the months of exploration that expanded my world came crashing down. Life became simply survival and I found myself fighting for even the smallest victories. I would celebrate walking the three blocks to my work more than I had celebrated driving across the country alone. My world became so much smaller and the fear that plagued me during this time left me feeling trapped in a box.

I found myself living a different type of nomadic life than that which I knew on my cross country road trip. I was rootless and floating; I drifted between one thing and the next because the box I lived within had no anchor except the need to survive.

Now I have found my anchor again: pursuing my PhD in graduate school.

I rediscovered my childhood dream of becoming a professor and writing professionally. In the fall of 2018 I will officially be a PhD candidate at UCSC in the Literature Department. This means so many exciting things to me, but one of the biggest is that I know for the next six or so years of my life that I have a home. I have an anchor that I can always return to even in the darkest of times.

Finding my anchor is only the first step along my new path. It is time to break free of this box of fear. I find myself for the first time in a long time yearn for that horizon line that used to drive me to the edge of myself.

I can do more than just survive.

So I am taking to the road again to stretch myself and push my limits as I did three years ago. Even though I have new limits and they may be smaller than they used to be, I know I can learn to break out of the bondages of my illness and learn how to live a full life once more.

I will be traveling for three months across the country before I start my program in the Fall. The first leg I will be traveling with my favorite travel buddy, my mother. There is no one in the world I would rather have as my co-pilot in both the good and the bad times. We leave in a few short days and I hope to post as frequently as possible while we are traveling. So stay tuned for more travel posts and photos!

I hope you will follow me along this journey.

P.S. For those of you wondering about what this trip means to the progress of the book I am working on, do not worry! I am taking a little bit of a break from my research and writing to enjoy the road. I will still be working, but I wanted to make time to share this experience with you all. So fear not, the good work continues and new work also begins!

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Final Days in Chicago

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

My final full day in Chicago was a blur of car horns, books, helicopter noise, cracks in the pavement, and good food. I dedicated my day to simply walking everywhere in the city. The only way to know the heart of a city is to walk the streets that pulse with people like the lifeblood pumping through the veins of this vast entity. Before putting my feet to the pavement and letting the sole of my shoes meld with the soul of this city I visited a place that brings my heart great joy, a library. The day was long and the journey longer to get to the center of the city.

I woke up early in the morning to grab the train only to learn that they were not running at the moment. Helicopters swooped over the train line towards¬†the cityscape of towering skyscrapers. Apparently a man tried to end his life by throwing himself in front of the train. It was horrible to hear and I felt the sadness drift upon me as I realized that when I did not know the reason for the delay, found myself angry about the traffic and the non-functioning train. For a moment I had felt that this man’s death, his misery, his trapped and hurting heart and mind where simply an obstacle to my forward movement. That is a horrible thing to think but I hadn’t even realized I had felt it; when I realized my own unconscious thinking it felt like a punch to the gut. A man’s death, his suffering, to a stranger trying to get to work or a tourist trying to tour the city only felt the delay of his actions, not the truth or pain behind them. It was a hard morning and I hope his family has some peace in this. I had lost sight, in my mania of exploration, of the people around me as real people. I felt like I had woken up when I heard over the cab radio what had happened. This road trip in many ways is a very selfish endeavor, it is for me and me alone, maybe to be enjoyed by others in the stories to come, but as a result I had forgotten to actually look into the eyes of the people around me as real humans with personal agendas and personal pains. It was a contemplative morning for me to say the least and I walked away hoping to never forget to value each person on the street as someone who deeply mattered in their own special way.

I took a cab to the Newberry (the rare books and archive library I planned on visiting) instead of the train but was further waylaid when my cab got hit by another cab. The accident¬†wasn’t bad, the two cars simply slid alongside each other and took off the side view mirror with a loud bang. I sat with wide eyes in the back of the cab as my driver got out and started to yell at the other driver. It was a very strange incident, I was just happy to get out of the car and rely on my own two feet for the rest of the day.

The Newberry was impressive and I felt pretty special getting my visiting scholar badge and my own little personal desk where they spread out the books I had requested in little pillow displays. I spent the majority of the morning pouring over old Milton books and William Blake paintings. It was enough to make my little english major heart implode.

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I emerged from the library with a mind full of poetry and paintings onto the urban streets of Chicago, ready to get lost in between the towering buildings.

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After getting some coffee at Bowtruss, I wandered all over the place but the riverwalk was definitely my favorite. The different bridges and the sun reflecting off of the glass buildings like the scales of some enormous fish onto the grey streets below. The noise of this city is somewhat overwhelming, yet beautiful. The clinking of change in a cup, the thudding of tires on the slates of the bridges, the horns of passing tour boats, and the chittering of people all around me. Chicago truly is a beautiful city, there is so much for the eyes to feast upon everywhere you look. Everything vibrates with energetic life.

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I took a break at Do-Rite Donuts where I got a delicious maple bacon donut. It blew my mind. I had never had a donut like this before and I sat down by the river to enjoy the view and the food.

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I also had to see the iconic sights like Cloud Gate or as it is commonly called The Bean.

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My obligatory Bean selfie.

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After my touristy stops, I wandered back down the Magnificent Mile or Michigan Ave shopping streets where I stumbled upon a food truck. Right in from of the NBC building was this bright yellow truck with a long line. Long lines usually equal good food so I decided it must be worth while. It was Pierogi Streets, a pierogi food truck serving up tasty dumplings with some amazing toppings. The food was unbelievable; I had braised beef and spinach/feta pierogis topped with spicy grilled onions, sauerkraut, and bacon. It was heavenly.

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It was a great day of wandering, but by the end my feet were tired and the sun had set on the city. The shadows cast by the tall buildings created a canopy of darkness only broken apart of slivers of light high above. In this artificial shade I left the city behind to go pack my belongings for the road ahead.

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I left Chicago that next afternoon after a morning at the Ferrara Bakery, a visit to my aunt’s studio, and a fantastic final lunch at the Art Institute.

I am so grateful for my family that has helped me along the way, none of this would be possible without them. My lovely aunt and uncle and my beautiful cousin were so kind to me. Their welcoming love, even after so long since my last visit with them, made me feel like I was home despite being far from it. I love that I get to see so much of my family, but it is so hard constantly leaving everyone behind after just finally getting to see them after so long. I have never said goodbye so many times before in such a short period of time. Every person I see along the way makes it harder to say goodbye the next time; I am more reluctant to leave yet also more excited for what comes next. This trip is one of the most challenging things I have ever done but also one of the most rewarding. I will carry these memories and these special moments with me forever, even when I have returned home to California. But after Chicago I headed even farther East. I drove that day from Chicago to Pittsburgh across Indiana and Ohio. It felt inconceivable to be moving farther away from the world I knew and loved, but the East Coast was on my mind and I meant to reach it as soon as possible. The other end of the country was within reach and with it the goal of my solo road trip was within sight.

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Northwestern

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

On the hunt for a new home, seeking graduate school with great coffee, better books, astounding architecture and a cohort of inspiring academics. I am touring graduate schools across the nation while I drive, and had to stop at Northwestern in Evanston, IL. So I took a whole day off by myself to drive up there and tour around the campus. But first, I grabbed coffee at Caffe Streets on Division to prepare myself for the adventure to come. Honestly, it has been really hard on me visiting graduate schools when my heart still belongs in Berkeley. I miss my academic home dearly and all of my friends who are still there. Nothing makes the sting of nostalgia¬†more painful than the constant reminder of what you left behind by where you are going next. Trying to find a new home when I don’t want to give up the last is a brutal conditioning towards the constant change of my future. Despite my deep desire for everything to remain exactly the same, the world is shifting underneath my feet and I can either get off the crumbling rock or let my fear paralyze me.

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The cup of coffee and an hour spent in contemplation of strangers walking down the street brought me back to reality: I had things to accomplish and places to see. I did make one more pit stop at an amazing bakery with zombie head cakes in the window before I left though. These mind-blowingly realistic cakes were courtesy of Alliance Bakery. I grabbed some breakfast and hit the road; this coastal drive was far different from the ones I was used to in California. Normally the ocean is my coastal companion, but this time Lake Michigan lined the road I drove on towards Evanston.

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I toured the entire campus for several hours making some especially long stops at the English Department in University Hall and the main libraries, Deering and University Libraries.

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The views all around campus where beautiful and very nicely accented by the fall leaves and the emerald hues of Lake Michigan. The gardens and greenery all around the campus were stunningly beautiful and the entire trip was exceedingly pleasant all around. I thoroughly enjoyed the school and everything the campus had to offer.

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After walking the entire campus I finally (and begrudgingly) left Northwestern. However, when I got back to Chicago I visited another fantastic coffee shop in Pilsen called Cafe Jumping Bean, which served as the perfect end to a long day.

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Family Fun

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Getting to visit family is priceless, especially family that I haven’t seen for some time. Long talks over drawn out meals or nights spent laughing next to warm fireplaces together are the foundations of memories for years to come. I have loved being with my family here in Chicago, we have had a lot to catch up on and what better place to do it than this beautiful city.

Yesterday we explored the Pilsen district in the rainy Halloween weather, and ate delicious food (I got chicken and waffles for the first time) while talking for a long time.

Today we went into Downtown Chicago since the sun was out in force and there was so much to see. We got Dim Sum and then meandered around Millennium Park together.

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The Chicago skyline is exquisite; the sheer variety of shapes, widths, colors, and materials that compose the rugged ups and downs of this city’s outline are unbelievable. I could stare up at these buildings forever. Cities have a way of making people feel small but in a good way; the fact that people conceptualize and then materialized these structures is humbling and exciting at the same time, a living monument to the capacity of man.

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It was such a warm day and after so many cold days in Michigan it was a breath of fresh air. Even the trees still had color! It is amazing to have witnessed an entire month of autumn in Michigan only to come here and start at the beginning again. So many trees here are still green and it is a marvel to me that not everything is dead. Regardless, we wandered around the park and then returned home for a short break.

I then ventured out alone to the Wicker Park area of town which is full of quirky life and graffiti. Both Pilsen and Wicker Park had some great work like these I found.

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I went and got some coffee at the Wormhole, which is an offbeat and fun study cafe squeezed between vintage thrift shops and bars flashing with neon lights. I sat and read my book for a little while only to realize that the sun had already disappeared. Darn daylight savings time. Stealing all of the sun.

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But I happened upon a bookstore I had been hoping to visit without even trying called Myopic Books; this collection of over 70,000 books is an astoundingly awesome second-hand bookstore. I could get lost in this store for hours. It was a great coincidence that made my nerd heart very happy.

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I wandered around the warm city streets taking in the glittery shops and shining street lights amidst the cacophny of car sounds and found myself beginning to readjust to city life. There is a specific brand of beauty in big cities, I have not yet fully discovered the nature of that beauty but maybe it will be more clear to me in the weeks to come as I explore more major cities on the east coast.

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For now the night time streets of Chicago are more than enough for me.

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