I Left My Heart in San Francisco

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San Francisco is my kind of place. When Drew and I decided to head to San Francisco for vacation, I had no idea what to expect–other than what friends had recommended (and Full House).

And it was absolutely wonderful.

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Since Drew was going to a work conference, we were able to stay in a hotel for the first two nights. After checking in, we decided to wander around the city and found our way to SF’s Chinatown!

While I have visited neighborhoods like Little Italy and Chinatown in New York City, there was something especially charming about San Francisco’s Chinatown. I loveloveloved it. There are tea houses and shops everywhere–and of course, the buildings are absolutely gorgeous.

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When we walked past this musician, he asked Drew to sit down and promptly handed him an instrument. He insisted that we take a picture. Done and done!

The next few days, I had some time to explore on my own while Drew was working. I visited a ton of local coffee shops, which is always ridiculously fun–but one of my favorite places was Yerba Buena Gardens; it’s the perfect place to take pictures and enjoy the SF weather.

Once Drew’s conference had ended, we left the hotel and headed for the Mission District  to stay at our Airbnb (right across from Dolores Park!). This was also my very first Airbnb experience–in fact, I had never even heard of Airbnb until Drew suggested it. So much for being travel-savvy.

While hotels come with mind-blowing views or perks like free breakfast, Airbnb will probably be my first pick for my future travels. Not only was Airbnb more affordable than finding another hotel, but we got to stay with a local San Franciscan. She was a wonderful host…she even had an extra-cuddly cat to keep us company. If you ask me, feline friends are way better than anything hotels could ever offer.

Speaking of which, we had the chance to visit the KitTea Cat Café. Cat cafés partner with local animal shelters so that adoptable cats can find loving homes. I’ve always been passionate about animal rescue, and I am thrilled that cat cafés are popping up all over the US.

 

 

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Then, we got to go to our temporary SF home and cuddle with ANOTHER cat. We were missing our own cat, so being able to love on other kittens definitely filled the Constable Chubs-shaped hole in our hearts.

The next day, we decided to make the journey to the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course, we made a few stops along the way, including Golden Gate Park and the Japanese Tea Garden.

One Uber ride later, we were at the Golden Gate Bridge. Drew convinced me to make the trek across and back…

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…and to take a selfie with Alcatraz in the background (I couldn’t stop laughing, because we could barely see it!).

And yes, our legs were killing us the next day.

We were also planning on visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, but a few locals convinced us that it was horrible. After returning home, a few friends told me that they loved Fisherman’s Wharf…and Xan told me that there are seals! Take this as a lesson, my friends: never let anyone tell you how to travel.

We did, however, visit the Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)–one of the largest modern art museums in the world. Drew and I had highly intellectual conversations about art and culture.

By that, of course, I mean we kept pointing at exhibits and whispering, “Art!”

(In all seriousness, the museum reminded me that it’s okay if we don’t “get”certain pieces of art…but that’s a rambling for another day.)

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I make Drew take a lot of selfies. #sorrynotsorry

The food in San Francisco is also incredible. Some of our favorite treats were  Delfina pizza;  raspberry hot chocolate at the Bread and Cocoa ; and Dirty South ice cream at Little Giant Ice Cream. Little Giant has a TON of flavors–if you are feeling adventurous, try the asparagus ice cream!

My favorite dinner–hands-down–was at Hawker Fare. I ordered the Homemade Penang Tofu Curry, and OH. MY. GOD. I wish I could have ordered more for the trip home.

They also have an impressive drink selection. We both ordered the Montego’s Bay, which was probably a mistake…I’m more of a wine/beer kind of gal, so it was pretty strong for my tastes–but they came in super cute tiki cups!

I’ve always found it painful to say goodbye to my favorite cities, and San Francisco was no different. My travel wish list is miles long, but I’m already dreaming of our next visit to the Golden State–whenever that may be.

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Friends, Waffles, and Work: Athens, GA

Despite the fact that I lived in Georgia for part of my childhood, I still feel like the entire state is brand-new–and fortunately for a wanderlust-ridden twenty-something like me, there are dozens of places to explore.

Last week, our friends Abby and Chris invited Drew and I on a double date adventure to Athens, GA. I was there recently to attend a wedding, but I was more than happy to see more of what this adorable college town had to offer.

Armed with Abby’s map of local shops and restaurants, we hit the road for a day of shopping, eating, and the occasional beer.

Our first stop was Zombie Donuts, a) because Chris and I claimed we needed caffeine, and b) because I love donuts more than anyone should.

😻🍩 #georgiaadventures #athensga #zombiedonuts

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Double date with these cool kids in Athens, GA #georgiaadventures #athensga #zombiedonuts

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Needless to say, I got all hyped up on sugar and coffee. It was awesome.

While wandering downtown, we found a plethora of charming places…

I especially loved Bizzaro-Wuxtry Comics & Stuff, a quirky comic book store that comics and graphic novels of all kinds, plus action figures and other fandom goodies.

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I couldn’t stop laughing. Because cats. They also had How to Talk to Your Cat About Evolution and How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety. 

We also loved the rooftop bar at Georgia Theatre, where we stopped for a beer and talked to the bartender about weird thrift shops (she was wearing a shirt with a cat riding a unicorn. How could I not ask?!)

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Maybe we loved it a little too much.

After finishing our drinks, we discovered more clothing shops and local bars. Abby and I stopped at Philanthropy Fashion , a Christian-based, locally-owned shop that donates at least 10% of their sales to charities. They even had a space for writing down prayer requests.

Love this prayer wall at @philanthropyfashion #athensga #philanthrophy

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We then met Chris and Drew headed for the Rook & Pawn, a nerd-themed bar with plenty of board games to play while you drink or grab a bite to eat. They were also celebrating their one-year anniversary, so Drew got a free party hat.

And he wore it for the rest of the day.

Happy first birthday to the Rook and Pawn! #georgiaadventures #athensga #rookandpawn

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Our next stop was Avid Bookshop. In my excitement, I forgot to snap a picture, but trust me when I say it was adorable. We even got to stay for an author reading and signing!

For dinner, we ate at Pulaski Heights BBQ. As a vegetarian, I don’t typically go out for barbecue…but thanks to Abby’s awesome map/planning skills, we knew it had vegetarian and vegan options. You can get a tofu sandwich, or substitute the meat on any sandwich or taco for tofu. It was delicious–however, I also feel obligated to say that nothing compares to Kansas City barbecue (even though obviously don’t really know from experience. I just feel like pointing this out is my duty as a Missourian.).

With all the awesomeness that Athens had to offer, I’d say our double date was a success–and I feel especially glad to have such wonderful people in my life. Life is good, folks.

Other Happy Little Thoughts: 

discovering adorable coffee shops • much-needed phone calls with best friends • e-mails from my dad • pictures of my baby cousins • beautiful sunny weather • going back to childhood and re-reading The Secret Garden • trips to the library • prayer times • road trip playlists • spontaneous date nights (“We should dress up one day and go somewhere.” “LET’S GO RIGHT NOW.”) • knowing that tomorrow evening, I get to visit kittens at the animal shelter • listening to Spanish podcasts on the way to work • meeting new people while I’m at work • “#falsedeep” • cooking shows • anticipating summer birthdays/anniversaries/holidays

How have you been? What are your happy little thoughts? 

Wanderlust: Jacksonville, FL

For whatever reason, I have always loved the ocean. So when our group of friends started prepping for a trip to Florida for Memorial Day weekend, I could hardly contain my excitement.

Our friend Hans generously offered to let everyone stay at his family’s condo in Ponte Vedra, FL, where we had about a thirty-second walk to the beach. Fortunately, we didn’t see any storms that were previously forecasted–although these clouds might suggest otherwise. But isn’t it beautiful?

#bestcrablife

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Despite the number of beach trips I have under my belt, I had never been to the beach at night until last weekend! So, with the aforementioned thirty-second walk to the beach, I jumped at the chance when my friends suggested a nighttime walk. We grabbed a few flashlights/phones and made our way to the beach.

I can’t remember the last time I saw so many stars. And to see them over the ocean? Absolutely breathtaking. I could have stayed there for hours.

When Drew said that we should look for crabs, I thought he was joking…but there were tiny crabs crawling everywhere (and a few huge ones)! And they’re surprisingly fast. We joked that they were the spider cheetahs of the sea. When they scuttled away to their holes in the sand, we said they were just trying to live their best crab life. #bestcrablife became our vacation hashtag and the obvious catchphrase of the weekend.

Oh, and for anyone worried about getting pinched: the crabs were harmless, and we only saw them at night. They simply ran away if they knew we were coming. I felt bad for startling them and potentially hurting their eyes with our flashlights, but I figured some minor stress was better than stepping on them.

On Friday and Saturday, we spent more time in Jacksonville. After some beach time, we headed for Bold City Brewery and then made our way to The Hourglass Pub to see a comedy show. Hourglass Pub is like nerd heaven during a night out. In addition to their bar, they have bookshelves, an arcade room with a TARDIS door, and N64 games you can play for free!

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They also had a pet tarantula in a glass case, but I kept my distance because spiders aren’t really my thing.

On Saturday, we visited the Cummer Museum to see a few art exhibits and walk through their gardens. We also spent waaaaay too long in the kids’ section playing this electronic painting game….

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One kid kindly complimented Drew’s cat (it’s Constable Chubs, obviously) and showed us how to print our next picture, which we are planning on framing.

 

That evening, we took a tour at the Catty Shack Ranch, a wildlife sanctuary for big cats. Catty Shack rescues animals from zoos that can no longer care for them or from private owners that were illegally keeping wild animals. Once a cat finds a home at Catty Shack, they stay there for life–no buying, trading, or selling takes place. It truly is an amazing organization.

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Sunday was our designated day to spend all day at the beach/pool. I think we put it to good use, as you can see by our construction project.

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The Great Pyramid of Giza, protected by a majestic fortress

The ocean kind of destroyed our fortress, but at least the pyramid was safe for a while.

Needless to say, I had a wonderful time and I’m already missing the sun and the sea. Hopefully we’ll meet again soon.

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Wanderlust: Toccoa Falls, Georgia

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If I had unlimited free time and an infinite supply of cash, I would travel everywhere. Most people I know would, too. Maybe it’s because the Internet has let us learn more about how amazing this world can be, or maybe it’s just because we all crave a little bit of adventure.

Unfortunately, I have not yet succeeded in that unlimited free time/money thing, but I have realized that Georgia is full of places to go and things to see (and so is Missouri, and probably every other place on earth). Drew and I have been wanting to make a day trip for a while, so we dedicated our Saturday to visiting Toccoa Falls.

After making a kick-ass playlist (which consisted of mainly Disney and classic rock songs, and it was totally awesome) we made the two-hour drive to Toccoa.

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We discovered that our GPS didn’t work very well in northern Georgia–just finding a place to eat was an adventure in itself. Luckily, Toccoa Falls is located in the campus of Toccoa Falls College, so there were plenty of signs to lead the way.

To get to the waterfall, you have to visit the welcome center and pay a $2 fee. Then, you can walk the entire .2 miles it takes to get to the waterfall.

(Or, if you are like me, you can wander around the entire area before your boyfriend informs you that he is pretty sure you HAVE to go through the welcome center.) 

To be honest, I was pretty grumpy about the $2 (nature should be FREE) but I think it was worth it.

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After the falls, we decided to visit a nearby winery. Because who doesn’t want to come home without trying locally made wines? Not me, that’s for sure.

Drew had never visited a winery before, but he must have been impressed, because we have now decided to visit another one ASAP. We normally just buy boxed wine from the grocery store (fun fact: boxed wine is better for our wallets and the environment, and wine experts aren’t even real.), so having someone pour wine for us and swirl it around in the glass made us feel extra classy.

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Wineries are gorgeous, too. 

Right now, I have a few other trips in the works, but I am definitely planning on exploring more of Georgia on my weekends off. Adventure is out there! Just sign me up.

What adventures have you gone on lately? Or, what places do you most want to visit?