17.9.14

Why Travel and Vacation are Not Synonymous



As a frequent traveler, many people are genuinely interested in hearing my stories and are inspired by the adventures I seek out. On the other hand, there's also a lot of negativity surrounding people who travel often. I regularly receive comments like:

"Wow, it must be nice to never work." [Read: you're so lazy and you just lay on beaches all day and gorge yourself on gelato while the rest of us work 9 to 5]

"So, how do you afford to travel so much?" [Read: do you even work at all? Are you some sort of trust fund kid?]

"When do you plan on settling down?" [Read: when do you plan on getting a real job? because you aren't allowed to travel forever]

(All of which are accompanied with a noticeably disapproving tone) 

Why is it that traveling often inspires such negative feelings in others? Why is being an avid traveler synonymous with being (A) spoiled rich kid who's never worked for anything, (B) a lazy, undecided semi-adult who can't figure out what to do with their life, or (C) someone who is incredibly lucky and won the life lottery and deserves to be envied? 
And then it hit me.
People think this way because they envision travel and vacation as being synonymous. And I don't think they are. 

Hear me out.
There is obvious crossover between travel and vacation. But there are significant differences as well. 


In my mind, taking vacation is an attempt to take a break from everyday life, to relax, de-stress, and chill. 

On the other hand, I see travel as being an attempt to seek out new experiences, to immerse yourself in a new culture and location, and to learn valuable life skills abroad. 

Why is this difference important? Well, think about what you associate with vacationing: resorts, nice hotels, big meals, cocktails every night, lattes every morning, lounging on a beach, going on exciting excursions, translators, tour guides, and the like.

I would be pretty envious of/annoyed with people who did this all the time, too. 

But when I think of travel, I imagine: visiting locals, going on adventures, budgeting, hostels, cultural cuisine, long train rides, heavy backpacks, and long days. 

Obviously, there is a lot in common between the two, and neither is cut-and-dry. Those items listed above might not even be what you connote with 'vacation' and travel'. Regardless, vacations often aren't just peachy, and involve getting lost, getting sick, lots of travel time, going on adventures that are anything-but relaxing, and a slew of other things. Similarly, travel often involves lounging on a beach, staying in nice places, having tour guides, and chilling in a quiet place.

The true difference, I think is that travel is more focused on the process of arriving, while vacation is more focused on the destination. 

So while the difference is mainly in connotation, I think it is significant to note. I love traveling, and I love vacationing, but I don't think the two are synonymous. I find this mainly important because when I say I travel often, I'm not saying I vacation often. I promise; traveling doesn't always feel like a vacation! 

But why does this all matter?

Well, I suppose it doesn't, really. But I don't like criticism (I'm horrible at taking it, even the constructive kind), so when I receive negative judgment about my traveling, I feel the need to defend myself and my hobby. Traveling isn't cheap, it's not necessarily helpful for getting a job, and it can seem like a waste of time. But it's also an incredible experience, influences strong character growth, teaches important life skills, and opens up opportunities all over the world. Traveling is more than just relaxing and getting away from work; it's vital for global awareness and understanding others. 

While vacationing is something we all want, traveling is something we all need. 

What do you think? Do you agree that travel and vacation are not synonymous?


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14.9.14

First Week in London

I'm officially living in London. 
It's still kind of crazy to say, considering this has just been a far-off dream for a long time. 
After weeks of planning, packing, and basically going crazy, I've made it with little-to-no problems whatsoever. 

Ok, so, a brief overview from the beginning:
I arrived on Wednesday afternoon after a 10-hour flight, at the fair Heathrow airport. I grabbed a taxi, and headed for the school. Unfortunately neither my cabby nor I knew where my dorm was on campus, so after driving in circles we decided to pull over at the main reception hall. I ran in, waiting behind a girl with several large suitcases who had obviously also just arrived. Finally, I got to the front desk and asked for directions. 
"Are you in your own car?"
"No, I have a taxi" I replied
"Well, would you be kind enough to give this young lady a ride? She's in the same building as you, and her taxi has left, and she can't haul all her suitcases across campus, as it's a 15 minute walk"
And so, I picked up a friend, we hopped in the taxi, and found our dorm. Only to find out that not only do we live in the same building, we live across the hall from one another!
We made friends, dropped our things, and took to walking around campus to get our bearings. We took a trip to the grocery store, came back, unpacked, and promptly fell asleep, because jet lag is killer. 
She's from Russia, and my other flat mates (that have arrived yet) are from Afghanistan and the US. The one thing that's been most incredible about living here is the sheer number of countries represented. Brunel is the 14th most diverse university in the world, with students from over 115 countries on campus. Over the last four days, I've made friends with fellow students from Spain, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Israel, Brazil, Dubai, China, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Germany, Ireland... the list goes on. 
Of course, the one downside to this is that everyone here has spent their whole lives traveling and are fluent in at least two languages, while I claim knowledge of a tiny bit of French and Arabic, and have only traveled in the last two years of my life.
Anyways. I'm going to change both of those things over the next year.
Other than meeting new people, I've mostly been attending orientation programs and sleeping. I'm still not over my jet lag (I'm out of practice!) and am trying to purchase all the little things I forgot for my dorm. 


Yesterday though, I made my first trip out into central London. Up until this point, I haven't left the 3-block radius around campus, which is mostly suburban. I've been pretty busy and mostly overwhelmed, and haven't felt comfortable exploring yet.
However, at breakfast I met a group of girls who were traveling into the city, and invited me along. We went to Picadilly Circus, which is a large arts and shopping center, and wandered around for a few hours.
Let me tell you, I'm a big fan of London.
I didn't know what to expect, never having been, but obviously I should have known it would be beautiful and busy. The buildings were huge and the architecture was lovely. It all feels like being in a movie. And it's still crazy that I get to live here for a year.
The thing I'm most excited about though, is travel. The one thing everyone mentions is all the destinations they're planning on visiting this year. Because flights from London to anywhere in Europe are incredibly cheap and short, making weekend trips ideal.
So while I'm short on money (and soon to be short on time, with classes starting), I have high hopes of getting out on lots of European adventures this year. 






I've got more orientation this week, and then classes start on the 22nd. Hopefully I'll do some more exploring between now and then, but we'll see how busy things get!

Any recommendations for places I should visit in London? 

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9.9.14

Moving day!

It's here: I'm moving to London. RIGHT NOW.
I'm currently sitting at the IcelandAir terminal at SeaTac airport, waiting to board shortly. I had an insanely busy night and morning, packing, unpacking, repacking, and checking my luggage weights with the ever-faithful "make my brother weigh himself and then hold my suitcase while standing on the scale" method. Thankfully, each of my bags were .2lbs under the limit, so I incurred no unfortunate luggage fees.
I made it through security with my backpack, camera bag, purse, and two coats with the pockets stuffed with no problem. 
When I got to the other side, my shoe broke. The zipper came totally off on my favorite pair of boots (They've come with me to every country!), leaving me shoe-less. I took out the shoelace and wrapped it around my ankle to hold the boot in place.
Now, I'm sweaty, hot, anxious, and all-around ready to be at my final destination. Things are crazy, but they're moving forward, and that's what I need.
So, I'm going to go hop on a couple flights, and I'll catch up with all of you on the other side of the pond! 

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7.9.14

New Design Portfolio

Oh my goodness you guys, I'm leaving in 2-days for London. Insanity. So while I've been doing last-minute preparations pretty much non-stop since I got my visa on Thursday (FINALLY), I've also been trying to finish up the finishing touches on my design portfolio.
If you've been on my blog for a while, you're probably aware of my love of good photography, and my efforts to grow my own skills in this realm. I've been taking on portrait sessions with friends over the last few months to practice, and I'm really happy with my growth and the way my photos have been turning out.
Rather than continuing to post those photos on here, I've created a new design site acting as my photography portfolio. Here, you'll find the best of my photography work (sans text), both in traveling and portrait work. I hope you'll stop by and check it out, and let me know what you all think!
Due East Design can be visited here









































Also, I want to thank you all for all your wonderful words of support. I received a lot of really kind messages from you guys, and I truly appreciate them (even if I haven't gotten around to writing a personal response yet). I'm happy to say I have the best readers ever! 

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3.9.14

A Life Update


This week has been, by far, one of the most stressful in my life. Why's that? Well, here's a brief timeline of events.
Friday: didn't receive my visa on-time. Had an existential crisis, questioned my decision to go to London.

Saturday: decided to announce backup plan, should visa not come through. Backup plan involved moving to Washington DC (where Phil lives). 
Monday: Decided to go through with backup plan, after several frustrating encounters with the university, and still no visa/passport.
Tuesday: Attempted to get refund of deposit from university, was told that could only happen should my visa be denied (not if it doesn't arrive on time). Freaked out; couldn't go to DC without the deposit ($5,000), couldn't go to London. An hour later, my visa arrived.
Today: decided to go through with my original London plans, although I have several misgivings about the process. Changed flight, and will be leaving next Tuesday (instead of my original flight, which left yesterday)

Approximate number of breakdowns and/or panic attacks ranged in the 15-20 range over the last 7-day period. 
And while I may have been a bit capricious with my changes, all the decisions I considered or made were thought-out and  well-planned. It was not with ease that I originally made my decision to drop from my grad program and move to DC, nor was it a simple decision for me to immediately return to the idea of going to London and entering grad school. 

You may be confused as to why I decided to consider dropping grad school as an option in the first place. There are several small reasons that built up over the last month and had me questioning it:
1) I didn't have my visa/passport, and it would cause me to arrive late, I would have to change my flight, and I still might not get it at all.
2) The university wasn't responding to any of my emails or calls. I sat on hold for over 2-hours trying to contact someone only to be hung-up on, and I sent over 6-emails to different departments without response. No one had informed me about my financial aid, housing, or registration, though I was only one-week out from arriving. I questioned the overall support I would receive from them. 
3) Opportunities were opening up for me in DC, which made it seem like a better option. I would be saving money, I had a close friend moving there, and I'd be near Phil. 
4) It would obviously be easier for me to stay domestic; I was last-minute questioning my finances and overall ability to succeed in grad school. I was feeling generally unprepared; classic case of cold feet. 

So, there I was, certain that my London plans had fallen through, and then suddenly they were a thing again. My head is still spinning from the number of plans/decisions I've had to consider over the last few days. I've had a perpetual headache, and all I want to do is sleep in a dark room until everything settles down. But now they have; I've decided that London was, and still is, the best option for me, and that despite my misgivings, I need to go through with it. 

So, I don't know that I'm excited about it yet, mostly just incredibly stressed, but I'm at peace with a real decision finally being made. 

Here's what I'm annoyed about. 
When I announced publicly (on my personal Facebook) that I might not be going to London, and though I wouldn't make any official decisions until later in the week, my backup plan was to move to DC, I received a lot of responses. Many were kind-hearted and focused on giving me support no matter what, and offering my condolences for the amount of pressure I was under.
However, both online and in person, I received many comments that went along the lines of "well, I'm sure you're happy about this new plan! It seems like DC is what you wanted anyways" or "No need to pretend that DC wasn't your plan all along!"

I get it. These were intended to be supportive, or to make me excited about going to DC even though London hadn't worked. 
But part of me thinks, do people really think that all I really want is to be with my boyfriend? That this was all some facade that I'm happy fell apart?

I'm not so petty as to concoct a grand scheme in which I invested over $8,000, 6-months of planning, and lots of excitement to move to London for graduate school, all as a cover-up for what I truly wanted: to live near my boyfriend. Because that's it, right? Every girl's dream is to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after? So my visa not coming through was really just doing me a favor; now I don't have to pretend that I wanted an education, I can just go be with my man after all. 

And though I have no proof, I wonder if this type of response would have been the one given to Phil, if his plans fell through and he moved to be near me? 

What it comes down to is this: my decisions are transparent, they are not passive tricks to convince people I want something I don't. I was happy with the decision to move to DC, only in that I felt certain London was no longer a viable option. When it became an option again, my difficulty in finding excitement in it rested primarily in my mental exhaustion in evaluating options, and the fact that I had already begun making DC-related plans. I had changed my mindset so wholly that London wasn't in the picture, and it was its sudden reappearance that bothered me. But after careful thought, it is clear that what I'm experiencing is mainly a fear of failure and worrying about such a massive unknown change. But this is it: I'm going to London, and it's final. 

With that said, I have had some incredible people give me massive amounts of support, great advice, and a lot of therapy and coaching to help me through all my questioning and decision-making. My friends are some of the best in the world, and I couldn't ask for anyone better. A big shout-out to all you readers too; your comments and messages always encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing. So thank you for sticking with me. 

I changed my flight today, so I will leave for London (sans layover in Reykjavik) next Tuesday. If you are in London, I'd love to meet up with you at some point! I may be a bit absentee on Due East this week with all my planning left to do, but I'll keep you up to date. Stay tuned for our regular programming, back shortly. 


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28.8.14

Top 10 (Underrated) Places to Visit in Egypt


Typically, I'm not a huge fan of 'best things to do in..." and "top places to visit in..." posts, because they tend to be redundant and rarely offer up new, insightful information. However, I've noticed a sharp lack of helpful posts on the best things to do in Egypt. Sure, everyone knows about the Pyramids and the Library of Alexandria, but there are so many hidden treasures in Egypt that few people ever encounter. And while I'm no authority on the subject, living in Egypt for a year exposed me to most of what the country has to offer. I visited most of these sites multiple times, and can provide detailed information that other reviews tend to leave out. My goal is to provide a fresh list of 10 amazing locations you should visit in Egypt, that you likely don't know about. 

Egypt is a perfect location to visit right now, too. While most people tend to be under the misconception that the country is very dangerous currently, the opposite is true (though keep in mind, opinions of 'safety' and 'comfort' vary). Egypt is between revolutions, they have had no recent riots or upheaval, and tourism is at an all-time low. That means that prices are dirt-cheap, there are no tourists to block your view, and you can get to nearly any site with ease. Still not convinced? Take a look at my top 10 sites, and see if your mind has been changed.

IN ORDER OF MY FAVORITES


1. The White Desert
The number one, without-a-doubt, most-amazing place I visited in Egypt was the White Desert. Never heard of it? You're not alone. Part of the intrigue of the White Desert is that it's relatively unheard of; in the hundreds of miles of sand and rock structures, you'll encounter perhaps 5 other people, at most. The White Desert is a vast expanse of desert with dozens of unique locations. I refer to it as 'the yellowstone of the desert', for while it doesn't host geothermal features, it has several incredibly unique locations in a relatively small geographical area. The desert boasts strange rock formations, fossils, oases, and most famously, a desert covered in smooth white sandstone and giant white mushroom rocks. To visit the White Desert, you must hire a tour from a local Bedouin group (there are several companies available), and they take you out camping for anywhere from 1-14 days. On our trip, we hiked up giant black rocks, collected fossils and strange stones, swam in a real oasis, watched the sunset on massive white rocks, ate traditional Egyptian food, and had an overwhelmingly unforgettable trip. The White Desert, is by far, my favorite place I've been in this whole world. Convinced yet?

You can see more photos from my trip to the White Desert, here. (scroll to center)


2. Karnak, Luxor

While Karnak is not unheard of to most people, it's so incredible to visit that I couldn't help putting it on this list. Karnak is about 11-hours by train or a 1-hour flight south of Cairo, in the river-city of Luxor. Luxor is home to many other temples, ruins, and tombs (Valley of the Kings, Temple of Luxor, and the Temple of Hatshepsut, to name a few), but Karnak tops them all. Karnak is a large temple complex, absolutely brimming with hieroglyphs, original paint (!), statues, obelisks, and any other traditional Egyptian carving and structure you can think of. The place is completely overwhelming; never, in any other location on earth, have I felt so surrounded in history as I did at Karnak. Plus, it's right inside the city - just a few minutes walk or a taxi ride away from your hotel! Luxor in general is the best tourist city in Egypt, but if you visit, put Karnak at the top of your list. 

You can see more photos from my trip to Karnak, here


3. Marsah Matruah


































These sparkling turquoise waters may look like something fresh off a Caribbean island, but they are actually at home off the coast of the Mediterranean in Egypt! Marsah Matruah (See also: Mersa Matrouh, Marsa Matrouh, Marsa Matruha - all thanks to the Arabic letter 'heh' which isn't translatable) is a small city about 3-hours west of Alexandria, near the border of Libya. Because of it's relative isolation and general lack of public knowledge, it is a [stunning] diamond in the rough. The waters are absolutely pristine, the beaches are empty, and the air is the perfect temperature. The above photo features Agiba beach, which is my personal favorite, but Cleopatra beach is another local favorite. In addition to simply lounging around in the sun, there is snorkeling, boating, and cliff-jumping available all within 30-minutes of the main city. The one caveat? To be respectful of the local culture, it is necessary that women are fully covered while swimming (as seen above). I wore leggings and a t-shirt, which was appropriate for the setting. 

You can see more photos from my trip to Marsah Matruah, here. (scroll to bottom)

4. Daashur and Saqqara



































While everyone knows about the pyramids in Egypt, they typically only think of those at Giza. The pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx are, in my opinion, the most over-rated attractions in Egypt (not as a result of their history, or magnificence, to be sure). They are right in the city-center, surrounded by buildings, and crowded with vendors who pester you to buy things. I ate pizza at a Pizza Hut less than 100-feet from the Sphinx; there is no vast sandy expanse behind it to take ride your camel off into the sunset on. What most people typically see images of, without realizing, is the Red Pyramid at Saqqara. The Red Pyramid is the second-largest pyramid (only 10-feet shorter than the Great Pyramid of Giza), but located about 1-hour outside of the main city of Cairo. Less than 5-minutes from Saqqara is the pyramid complex of Daashur, home to the Bent Pyramid (pictured above). There are several other smaller pyramids at both these sites, all of which are nearly devoid of tourists and vendors. The Bent Pyramid has a really awesome temple at the entrance as well, and the Red Pyramid has a newly-opened museum called the Serapeum which shows where sacrificial bulls were killed and buried to honor the gods. Pretty cool stuff. I can also pretty much guarantee that these sites will be empty as well. The people in the background of the photo above were the rest of the staff from my school, and in the three times I visited each site, I never saw more than 5 other people wandering around. And though I wasn't a big fan, you can go inside the Red Pyramid to the chamber in the center (read, climb down a 500-ft, 4-ft tall crawl space with no light in 110-degree heat) for free. 

You can see more photos from my trip(s) to Daashur and Saqqara, here

5. Abu Simbel




































Abu Simbel is an imposing temple complex in the southernmost part of Egypt, just a few kilometers from the border with Sudan. While I never personally made it to Abu Simbel (though I desperately wanted to), my roommate went to the complex for a few days, and it is highly regarded by my other Egyptian staff/friends as an incredible site to visit. If you can't tell from the image above, the statues and temple itself are absolutely massive, and their are plenty of original hieroglyphs to view. Due to it's relative isolation south of Lake Nasser (just 50-km north of the border of Sudan), most tourists don't make it down for a visit; the closest city is Aswan, so if you're staying there, you should definitely make the trip a few hours south to this site. Abu Simbel is actually two separate sites - the temple for Ramses II (above) and a second smaller temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari. Both host original carvings and artwork, and are considered some of the most beautiful remaining temples in Egypt. 

6. Philae



































Yet another amazing site I missed out on, Philae is a temple complex on an island in Lake Nasser. Due to it's closeness to Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, they are a good pair to plan on seeing together. Philae can only be visited by boat, meaning that you achieve a lovely view on your way to the temple, as well as when you land. The temple showcases some incredible bas-relief carvings and hieroglyphs, alongside massive colonnades and huge halls. This is definitely a place you want to visit if you're a history buff or art fan, as there is no shortage of either in the complex. My roommate claims it as her favorite temple she visited in Egypt - which is saying a lot, because she saw them all! 

7. The Khan Il-Khalili, Cairo
So, I know I'm not alone as the only person who is obsessed with open air markets. Honestly, one of my favorite parts of any international trip is wandering around the market places, eyeing pretty trinkets and bits of cloth and taking in the perfume and spices. It's all very Arabian Nights, I know. Cairo is home to a giant outdoor market knowns as the Khan il-Khalili (pronounced ghon-eel-ghah-lee-lee, with 'gh' like you're clearing your throat) This market is an absolute maze of shops selling everything from tourist gifts to original artwork to rugs to tea, and I could never get enough. As with most markets, the further from the edges you get, the more interesting the wares become. I bought a set of emerald green blown glass dishes/bowls/cups/vases for about $40 USD, which is absolutely unheard of for the US. All of my favorite scarves and galibayas (traditional Egyptian dresses) come from the Khan, along with hand-painted ceramics and alabaster sculptures and vintage postcards and the like. Seriously, this is the place to go if you are interested in shopping and culture. Plus, you can always practice your bartering skills here (tip: read my article on how to be a pro-barterer!). 

You can see more photos from my trip(s) to the Khan Il-Khalili, here. (scroll to center)

8. Sharm El Sheikh
Img source
Yet another tropical destination you'd never expect to find off the coast of Egypt, Sharm El Sheikh is a scuba diving and snorkeling paradise. This coastal city is located on the Sinai Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia. As a result, you can only get there via plane (safely), and have to truly go out of your way to reach it. Sharm El Sheikh is cited as one of famed Jacque Cousteau's favorite dive sites, and for good reason. It is home to some incredible coral reefs and shipwrecks, perfect for anyone wanting to hang out underwater for a while. And, unlike Marsah Matruah, Sharm El Sheikh is a resort city that is home to tourists primarily, so you can wear whatever bathing suit you'd like (not a full-body outfit). Unfortunately, because of its high tourist levels, prices here are much higher than anywhere else in the country, and you'll have to use a company or resort to do almost any excursion you're interested in. It's definitely still worth it though, and bonus - you can part the red seas if you want (or at least try). 

9. Siwa
Img Source
Siwa is an oasis village just north of the White Desert, near the border of Libya. While it may look like an ancient village, those are the homes of current citizens of the town; in fact, many villages in Egypt are comprised of similar mud-and-brick dwellings. Siwa is cool because (A), it's a real-life oasis in the desert, (B) you can go swimming in nearby springs, (C) there are loads of desert excursions you can take, and (D) there are ancient tombs to visit in that 'mountain' behind the village. Siwa is definitely a location for those who are interested in cultural experiences and desert adventures, as it's a difficult place to get to, and there aren't any particular 'sites' to view. However, it is one of the only villages in the desert, giving you a good base camp for adventures in the White Desert - my favorite place ever. The best things to do in Siwa are go for a swim in Cleopatra's bath, a crystal-clear pool, or Bir Wahed, a large hot spring. 

10. Seven Churches, Cairo
Img source
If you're in the capitol city of Cairo, you should definitely make a trip out to Seven Churches. Seven Churches is actually a section of the city known for it's religious diversity; here you'll find mosques, churches, synagogues, and even a nunnery. It also happens to be one of the cleanest, quietest sections of the city, making it a good reprieve from the general noise and hubbub you'll experience everywhere else. Along with some of the traditional architecture, Seven Churches also features a beautiful church carved into a cave, and some truly lovely artwork and sculptures. If you're interested in art and architecture, you shouldn't leave Cairo without visiting Seven Churches. 

HONORARY MENTION: Alexandria
I felt obligated to include Alexandria on this list, for although it is highly known, it is my favorite city in all of Egypt. I've taken several trips to this city on the sea, and every time I do I fall more and more in love. The city is simply massive; it is the largest on the Mediterranean, which is no surprise given its extensive history. There are loads of things to do, including visiting the famed library or the citadel (where this photo was taken from). In the summer, you can stay at a resort on the beach and enjoy the warm water and sun-drenched sand, or take a scuba diving trip out to where the Lighthouse (one of the ancient wonders of the world) once stood. Also: there is a huge number of Roman tombs and sites in the city, including a Roman Amphitheater and catacombs. I can't praise Alexandria enough; it's my love city, and might be one of my favorites in the whole world. 

You can read about my trip to Alexandria, here


And, because I'm a big fan of maps, here's a helpful one of the locations of each of the sites I've mentioned. Feel free to print this out and take it with you on your next trip to Egypt - I hope you find it helpful!

So what do you think? Do you agree with my choice of these as the best sites to visit in Egypt? What would you include on this list?

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27.8.14

Boating on the Puget Sound

The first 20-years of my life were spent in my home town of Olympia, Washington. While Olympia isn't a huge city - population 50,000 - it is the capitol of Washington State, and boasts some gorgeous views. It is nestled in at the bottom-most tip of Puget Sound, the strip of water that dips down from the Straight of Juan De Fuca in the north. As a result, you can boat from Olympia up to Seattle, or further to the San Juan Islands or Canada (or Alaska, if you were very ambitious). 
As a child, my parents had a little cuddy boat that we would take out on the Sound and go camping in. As we grew older though, the boat began to break down, and we found ourself with less time and interest in taking it out for an evening of adventuring. 
However, the last few years my dad has spent rebuilding the boat, replacing all the old/broken/worn parts, and investing the time it needed to be brought back to nearly original condition. We've been talking about taking it out of it's little home in our garage for months, and finally last night we decided to go through with it.
My best friend, dad, uncle, and myself went out on the boat for several hours in the Sound, and all my childhood memories of doing the same were brought back. With only a few days left before leaving for London, it was a good way to spend a night and to soak in the last rays of summer.
Sometimes, being an avid traveler and looking for the next international adventure, I forget how beautiful my own home-town and surrounding area is. I am positive that Washington State is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it's nice to be reminded of that while I'm still here. 
























Part of me is thrilled to see the sun setting earlier, the leaves changing color, and the water getting colder, but I'm going to miss nights like this.

Have you been on the Puget Sound before? What's your take on Washington?
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