‘Be Here Now’-2018 Travel Recap

USA    The very last day of 2018


To say 2018 was a year of travels wouldn’t be accurate, as I’ve traveled more and to a higher number of countries in other years.  So I’m a little stumped as to how to describe my 2018 travel year.  Maybe a year of travel from the US?  Sure, lets go with that.

January: Following my quest to see all seven world wonders, January brought me to China, and of course, the Great Wall.  What an amazing feeling to walk on such a captivating piece of history.  I conquered every last step I could on the Great Wall, finding spectacular views up into the hills.

 

February: Each year TripAdvisor puts out a list of the best beaches in the world, for two years running that beach has been Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos.  I’m curious, and a lover of nice beaches, so after being awarded with the highly renowned title I knew I had to go and see for myself!  Stunning blue water, mixed with white sand and sun, it did not disappoint.

 

March: Having previously traveled to the Western part of Australia, making my way to the East coast was a must-do!  I spent my time in and around Sydney from the coastal beaches to the mountain ranges.  And since I was already so close, I just HAD to fly over to New Zealand to frolic in Hobbiton.

 

April: Making my way to World Wonder #5 brought me to the breathtaking, peaceful country of Peru.  I NEED to begin blogging about my adventures here, but I really can’t seem to put my experience into words.  Being on top of Machu Picchu is a feeling I will never forget.

 

May: May was supposed to bring me back to Abu Dhabi and Dubai to see all my amazing friends, but unfortunately I fell very ill after my trip to Peru.  (I think it was the alpaca or my guilt for eating it).  It ended up being an inactive month for me, but I did manage a trip to North Carolina to check out Wilmington, an old town restoring their historical downtown. And of course, I caught some lovely sunsets here in Myrtle Beach, and spent another day in the Brookgreen Gardens.

 

June: This month brought me on a trip to upstate New York for some hiking in the Adirondack Mountains, and even a little road-trip to Virginia for a country winery tour.

 

July: The annual Bastille run and festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a long standing tradition for me, and this year was no different. A 5K night run with thousands of people in the streets of downtown Milwaukee. A trip to Milwaukee is never complete without a trip to the beach with family and friends.

 

August: Finishing July and entering August with my annual birthday trip brought me to a luxury resort in the Domincan Republic. A birthday trip full of breathtaking blues, sandy beaches, entertainment, crystal clear waters and cocktails.

 

September: In my attempts to start exploring more of the South, a weekend getaway to Charleston, South Carolina was a must-see destination.  Rich in history, ghost stories and culture, Charleston did not disappoint. Another unexpected trip, in the midst of Hurricane Florence making a direct hit on Myrtle Beach, we packed up and headed to Georgia for a few days, and even made time for a day trip into Alabama.  A month of the South!

 

October: After over a year of not working for ‘The Man’, it was time to pull in some extra money to finance some more travels! Back to work I went, keeping me very busy, with not as much time for adventures.  A weekend trip brought me on Camp Lejeune to photograph some of the beaches and buildings.

 

November: Another trip of discovery around South Carolina, this time taking a stop in Pawley’s Island.  There is something about these quaint little coastal towns that just draw people in, but for me, its the rich history of the land, and the things a bit out of the ordinary.

 

December: And last but not least, this brings us to the start of winter in Myrtle Beach. And what better way to celebrate then witnessing the magical fairyland of lights setting a glow to the spectacular gardens.  A night of a Thousand Candles is a sight not to be missed this time of the year.

 

 

I wish that 2019 brings myself and all of my ‘Wanderlust’ readers a journey of discovery, adventure, and the courage to continue to delve into the unknown.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Blues (The Good Kind)

Dominican Republic, July 2018


As the temperature continues to lower day by day, my layering skills continue to increase with a stylish flare. So instead of letting my spirits dwindle, I can keep them alive by continuing to reminisce about all the bountiful blue, tropical islands I’ve dipped my toes into.

It’s the Dominican Republic that is warming my mind with pleasant thoughts and visions of BLUE. Sometimes, as an extra bonus, the song by Eiffel 65 pops right in there and soundtracks my thoughts; “I’m blue da ba dee da ba daa…” That may or may not be stuck in your head for hours to come, Opps! Just think of it as your theme to breathtaking blue hues.

This year, like any other year, as I was planning my birthday getaway I knew it had to involve beautiful blues, bikinis, adventure and cocktails. There is something about staring into the Caribbean waters that puts me right into my freedom, my harmony, my nameste.

I’ve visited the DR on a short cruise stop one of the first times I traveled, and filed it in my travel plans as a country to revisit. In this case, the Dominican Republic did not disappoint, in fact, it exceeded my expectations! From looking into the crystal clear waters, swimming in and among tropical fish, hopping island to island while dancing to reggae beats on a catamaran, I felt like I was right at home. Or just back in Abu Dhabi, which is just as grand!

Enjoy the blues! Let it take you away to your happiness, your tranquility, your solitude, your nameste. And remember, as I have to tell myself each and every day, winter is only temporary. 🙂

 

Views From The Top

March 2018–Turks and Caicos Islands


There’s a good reason why I always book a window seat. Even though it’s a little more squished, and you have to bug other passengers to move in and out, it’s completely worth it! Whether it’s a bright, sunny day, a night flight, or approaching sunrise/sunset the view from the top never disappoints.

Yesterday mornings flight was no different. Looking out the window on my flight from Fort Lauderdale to Turks and Caicos I was in awe. The views were breathtaking! Blue, turquoise, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean were beneath me.

I’ll go ahead and say it, this was the BEST view I’ve had from an airplane. My eyes were happy and my camera was clicking. Enjoy a few unedited shots and let me know if you’ve seen a view similar or better!

The Best Surprises Involve Photography!

February 2018–Conway, South Carolina USA


I’d been waiting for my ‘Saturday Surprise’ since arriving home from China a few weeks ago. Do you know how hard it is to wait that long?  Patience has never been my best virtue.  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating for us on the weekends, so it continued to be postponed. FINALLY we had some good weather to kick it off!!

If you ask me, what’s the best kind of surprise? A new adventure, of course, involving photography and exploring!

The morning started, as Saturday’s usually do, with a long walk with the dogs and a trip to our favorite breakfast spot, The Bagel Shop. I was finally presented with two options for our ‘Saturday Surprise.’  Since I haven’t lived in Myrtle Beach long, and I’m not from the South, there are so many new places for me to experience, so I get really excited for new opportunities.  My two options that I had been waiting on for weeks were; Conway Riverwalk or Brookgreen Gardens.  We experienced Brookgreen Gardens, during their ‘Festival of Lights’ at Christmas, but seeing it in the day would look completely different.  As beautiful as I know the Gardens are, I chose Conway Riverwalk, purely to get some grungy, high-contrast photo opportunities.  I’d been wanting to challenge myself with some different scenery, so this was the perfect surprise for me.

Just a short drive into Conway led us to a Riverwalk, which was nice, but not exactly what I was looking for.  With a quick glace to the right, we both discovered an abandoned railroad track.  Perfect!  This is what I wanted to see, shoot and explore.

 

The railway was rickety, grungy, and dangerously crossed over the river.  Following it just brought a heightened level of excitement!  Myself and my camera were completely enjoying the day.  After following the tracks for a bit, it led us to an abandoned Railway Station.  There were signs everywhere claiming, ‘NO TRESPASSING’ and a few cameras monitoring the spot.  We weren’t there to tag up the abandoned building, equipment, or cars, we were harmless, simply on a quest for photos and new experiences. So we went with it, and walked around, staying far enough away as to not over step our boundaries.  It was completely worth the risk, capturing some great photos along the way.

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Take a look through my photos and enjoy my version of a perfect ‘Saturday Surprise.’

To The Moon and Back

January 31, 2018–Garden City, South Carolina


 

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I’ve always been in love with the sightings of the moon. Last night definitely proved that point as I stood in 20 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, brisk roaring winds, and high tide rolling waves in order to capture some shots of the ‘super blue blood moon.’ I completely underestimated the Atlantic winds and brutal cold, but I wanted to return to the spot I viewed the supermoon in December. It was full of special memories, new beginnings and the spot holds a beautiful space in my heart. Plus, there’s no better way to see the moon glisten brightly, than over a beach with flowing waves.

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I still remember the exact moment when I perfected my first moon shot. It was in Door County, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2016. I was there on a girl’s trip with my mom to visit wine country, enjoy some new food, and view the nature and lively surroundings of the thumb of Wisconsin. I took so many pictures on that trip of nature, sunsets, trees, and then finally an acceptable moon shot. It was a proud moment, seeing the details of the craters in the moon on my DSLR!

And now today, I’m even more obsessed with the moon. It gives me a lot of special memories, and also holds a special place in my relationship.

The moment we stepped on the beach, we actually stopped in awe at both the glow and the reflection in the ocean. It was enough to light up the sky! I really hope all of you got a chance to look outside and catch a glimpse!

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Unfortunately, I was only able to capture the moon this night, (not so much the beach or pier) because as much as I wanted to take photos, my frozen hands and camera just  wouldn’t cooperate. But, I’ll leave you with a few photos, a couple fun edits, and a some fun facts about the ‘super blue blood moon.’

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Why is it called a ‘blue moon?’ The term blue moon was used because a full moon happened twice in the month of January 2018, something that rarely happens in any month. So, of course, it is said to happen, ‘once in a blue moon.’

What makes the moon ‘super?’ The moon is at its Perigee, the closest point to Earth at this time, giving it a spectacular glow and brightness we don’t always get to see. It actually appears 14% larger and 30% brighter.

Where does the ‘blood moon’ name come from? The sun’s light is skimming through the earth’s atmosphere, giving the moon an orange or red glow.

And for those who were able to catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse, I must say, I’m incredibly jealous! I realized too late it was happening, thinking it would happen into the evening or early next morning. Big loss on my part, I promise to be more on top of it next time!

Enter into the ‘Rose City’

July 2017–Petra, Jordan


I have to be honest, I wasn’t overly excited for my visit to Petra while in Jordan.  Since everyone claimed it was a must-see destination, and since I had previously put the goal into place to visit ALL of the new seven World Wonders, it also became a must-see for me.  So here I was on a trip to Jordan, being escorted and shown around by my Jordanian friend I knew from Abu Dhabi.  The timing was perfect, as he was currently visiting his homeland for a few weeks.  He truly was the perfect guide around Jordan, spending most of his life there, and having the same excitement as me to visit all of the spots he use to frequent as a child.

Petra was the underestimation of the century!  From the moment we entered the gates the red sandstone landscape was breathtaking! The way the sandstone had taken shape looked like a piece of creative art. As we were walking the path, my eyes gazed wide-eyed, taking in the colorful ‘art’ surrounding me.  At the end of the sandstone guided pathway, there it was, the most famous part of Petra, the Treasury Building.  Stunning, beautiful, grand, delightful; all words that could describe this carved landmark, but none that would do it justice!

Under the impression Petra mainly consisted of the Treasury Building and beautiful sandstone, I had no idea there was so much to discover!  Every way my eyes looked, I encountered a new piece of carved architecture and design. Petra, also known as the ‘Rose City,’ is actually 102 square miles, half built and half carved into the rocks.  It is filled with elaborate tombs and temples, beautifully carved into the pink/red sandstone cliffs.  This architecture is truly a must see!  There are so many times when people state, ‘you need to see it with your own eyes,’ and this is most definitely one of those times.

The Rose City dates all the way back to 300 B.C., as the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom.  It is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most richest and largest archaeological sites. It is surrounded by mountains filled with passages and gorges.

We walked, we climbed, we picked the highest peaks, for the best views.  We spent around seven hours taking it all in, and let me tell you, seven hours in 100 degree heat is no joke!  We managed to laugh, explore, chat with the locals, and not kill each other in our times of exhaustion. Throughout the course of the day, we rode on a horse, a donkey and a camel, in between all of our long treks around the Rose City.

We had a lot of fun walking into the ‘houses’ built into the stone.  Eyad and I gave each other proper tours around the houses, showing off the glamorous kitchens, powder rooms, and wall art.  We mastered the art of real estate convincing each to purchase a few carved one and two bedroom properties.


Go see it, experience it for yourself!  Enjoy chatting with the local Jordanians.  Some of who actually dress and wear black eyeliner like a pirate.  They are there own culture and embrace the true Bedouin lifestyle.