NLC at miniwanca

So the last time I left off was with my Alaskan adventure. Well..the travels didn’t stop there! My boyfriend Mo came to pick me up from my Alaska trip at the Columbus airport, and we arrived back home around 1:30 am..I had to do my laundry and re-pack so that I was ready to leave for Michigan the following morning at 9am..woof. But it was all so worth it for the experiences to come..and I actually did fine, thanks to my friends Tessa and Katharine who let me chill in the back seat of the car and attempt to sleep (I’ve never been able to do that..but I managed for about half an hour I think!) while they drove and navigated the way.

So why was I in such a hurry to get up and go again? Because I’m nuts. Or because I wanted to get back to this

Yeah, that’s more like it. I headed to my favorite place on Earth, also known as Camp Miniwanca. I am fortunate enough to be on staff with the American Youth Foundation (AYF) there for two weeks in the summer as a part of the National Leadership Conference.

This is a conference for high school age students who come from all over to country (and occasionally internationally) to participate in various aspects of leadership development through a four year program designed to inspire people to discover and develop their personal best, seek balance in physical, mental, social and religious/spiritual living, and to make a positive difference in their communities and in the wider world.

Whoa, I know..a lot to take in there. Basically it’s an incredible experience rife with silliness, seriousness, and inspiration all set on the beautiful sand dunes of Lake Michigan with some of the greatest people I’ve ever been lucky enough to know. I graduated from the program in 2010 and since then have been granted the opportunity to offer my insights and service back as staff.

We had lots of fun with games such as human foosball

And constant random dance parties

The National Leadership Conference is very focused on building community, and I was so glad to have some of my class (my year of the program and our mentors who guided us all 4 years) there with me on staff to represent that community which has grown into a true family.

I left Michigan and only had about five days at home before heading off for Australia, but it was so worth it to connect to new participants and leave fully refreshed, recharged, and ready for my new adventures to come!

I’m now hangin in LAX waiting for my flight to Sydney then Perth, finally..but I’ll leave that story for when I arrive and can post again!!

[edit..I’m in Australia!! I’ll get a post up about my trip and first week hopefully real soon]

Thanks for reading 🙂

Where is your favorite place to travel?


How to take a surprise trip

Hey there!

Welcome to my corner of the web..head on over to my about me to learn more about myself and what this blog is all about!  Today I’m going to share with you about my most recent road trip adventure.

2012 is the year of big travel for me! It’s actually the main reason behind my starting this very blog, because I want to share with you as I head from Ohio over to Alaska, Michigan, and Australia over the next few months!!

I’ve been preparing and planning for my trips (but still have lots to do!), but this one was a bit less thought least on my part.

On Thursday night I got home after a day of work and a staff meeting and threw things in a bag and set my alarm for 4:44 am so I could prepare some healthy meals and snacks in the morning before heading to Chicago for a surprise! sounds crazy. But I figured I had to seize the opportunity and go with the theme of adventure in my life. You see, my boyfriend Mo and our friend Gabe had been busy biking all the way from Cleveland and planned to arrive in Chicago on day 5, Friday for a weekend of seeing the city! These incredible guys not only biked over 400 miles to get there, but did so in the name of raising money for a local non-profit in Southeastern Ohio through selling awesome t-shirts (that my talented and lovely friend Chloe designed!) and asking for donations online. They call themselves “Rewarding Rides” and have the motto of ‘do something nice for someone, today and everyday’. Aren’t they awesome!?

But anyways.. thanks to my incredible co-workers I was able to take a day off work (I work at a daycare in the summer) and headed to the Windy City to surprise the guys at the end of their ride!

So..without further tips on what to do when taking a last minute road trip:

1. Think about the weather and plan accordingly.

Um…yeah, I didn’t actually believe it could get below 90 degrees ever again because it was so hot all week. We (Mo’s sister and boyfriend and I) got to Chicago and the heavens opened up for a torrential downpour not long after. Good thing I remembered my umbrella!! Also good thing it warmed back up quickly, because I packed nothing but sundresses and shorts/tank tops.

Colin attempting to fill up his water bottle out the car window during the storm

2. When packing, think about what you’ll be doing when you get there.

I knew we would want to spend our days seeing as much of the city as possible, so I packed some good walking shoes and sunscreen, as well as layers like a lightweight sweater good for going between sweltering heat and blasting air-conditioning.

3. Pack some meals and snacks for the ride and trip.

I have some stomach issues which have led me to a more restricted diet than most. I also just simply enjoy packing healthy and delicious foods so I know I will have some fresh foods along the way, and to save some money for other fun things! For this trip I packed a smoothie for breakfast on the way there, two salads, a few packages of oatmeal, and containers of fresh fruit and veggies/hummus. I also brought some chips, trail mix, and other random goodies (like a 12 pack of beer for the guys..I figured they earned it!)

4. Grab some cash before you leave.

Especially when car pooling, it’s nice to have a variety of bills to be able to share costs on things like gas and tolls, rather than mumbling something about only having your card and never paying them back. It’s also good if you need small bills for public transportation, taxis, parking garages/meters, and tips.

5. Go to the library.

I don’t know about you, but I rarely have 6 hours to spend sitting and doing very little..perfect time to read a good book I say! If you get car sick then ignore this one..but spend the time doing something leisurely you don’t usually get to do (unless you’re driving, silly)

6. Look up some reviews or talk to a local.

My friend Gabe is a vegetarian so I knew I could convince the guys to try a vegetarian restaurant while we visited, which is something I don’t generally suggest to my carnivorous boyfriend! I am not strictly vegetarian, but tend to eat a plant-based diet so these type of restaurants appeal to me. Whatever your interest is in, look it up and read some reviews.. you may discover a gem you wouldn’t have otherwise found! I also talked with my brother who used to live in Chicago, and he helped me figure out public transportation and gave some suggestions for where to go which came in handy for sure!


7. Don’t plan too much.

First of all, I only knew I was coming about two days prior to this trip, and then was home for about 2 waking hours during those planning wasn’t happening! I also knew the biking boys would be exhausted, so I thought of a few things I really wanted to do/see and figured we would play it by ear. This worked out well because we enjoyed our time, got to see plenty of things, but didn’t feel disappointed by not fitting everything in to our small time frame.

8. Just do the damn thang!

Pardon my French, but don’t let yourself get caught up in the stress of planning, packing, traveling, etc and just enjoy the experience. This is something I really tried to focus on with my impromptu trip and hope to continue doing so on my upcoming adventures. I really am so grateful I was able to experience the city for a weekend with people that I love, and that’s the whole point. Try to tear yourself away from texting/facebook/twitter/instagram/blogging as much as possible in the moments you have on your trip. You can do it all later!

Alright well those are my tips from my first random road trip, I hope they are helpful!! If you have any more you want to add please feel free in the comments section below.

Where have you traveled on a random/surprise trip? or, Do you like to plan everything out or be more spur of the moment with your travels?