Two Hatted Hikers

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Dear Reader,

Weeks ago I found myself wandering through the toasty Arizona desert. As I made my down a trail known for wildflowers, I bumped into two women.

The pair traveled together, stopping in sync to kneel down and photograph flowering cacti; their lips fell into crescent moons as they took in the landscape; and they were both outfitted in matching sun hats, covered entirely in national park pins.

As I walked away from the two women, I felt my lips part ways as a grin spread over my own face. I couldn’t help but think: “I hope I’m just like those two, when I’m in my late 60’s.”

I mean come on, they were total badasses, wandering the world together, hitting up the national parks and doing so with such joy and passion. In 40 years, I wanted to be just like them.

But then I realized, I already was. At 24, I had landed upon my dream of galavanting through nature. I didn’t have to wait. I had already arrived.

And as I walked, I thought about the lives the two women likely lived when they were my age.

The taller of the two women, had a gold band on her ring finger, and the other spoke about her granddaughter’s latest mile time.

These women had families, and partners. Perhaps still living, and perhaps not. But either way, the hats they bore 40 years ago were different, home to less National Park pins, their packs were filled with diapers instead of hiking poles, and their homes were almost certainly made of wood and plaster, rather than tent poles and desert dirt. These badass women, had filled their lives with families and partners. And now, in their 60’s they were living the dreams that lived inside them all these years.

I imagine as they wander, and add pins to their hats, they regret nothing. I imagine they love the lives they chose for themselves all those years ago. And this adventure is just a delightful bonus.

As I pondered these women and their own unique paths, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I felt gratitude for my ability to choose my own path.

A choice many do not have the opportunity or support to make.

I felt gratitude, because my dreams aren’t so conventional. My dreams fall in the opposite order of these two women. Babies and a partner do not come first.

To me, wandering this wild world comes first, far beyond settling down with a partner and some babies on my hip. If a family and partner come later, then great. I am open.

But I can’t wait my whole life to know the feeling of waking up to the desert sun, of mountain air whipping my hair dry as I drive down winding roads, of sweaty hikes and views that send tears down my cheeks, or the magic that ignites in my body when I truly listen to myself. These are the moments that make me whole, that bring me to life, and without them, I’d exist in a perpetually half full state. Always wanting. Always longing.

Perhaps these women felt the same as I did, always gazing out the window or over their shoulder, ready to run into the wilderness. But I get the sense that their lives have been full of love, from partners and babies and grandchildren too. I get the sense, that they have lived full lives and these adventures are simply the icing on the cake.

But you never know, and for this reason, I am so unbelievably grateful that I exist in a world, where my wild choice to wander away from convention and into nature has been honored by my family and community. Because this hasn’t always been an option, and for so many it still feels unreachable.

So while our paths are very different, the bridge that brings us together is built upon my deepest belief: we must all return to our roots, get dirty, roll in the mud, cover ourselves in grass and mountain air, this is where we come back to life. Some of us return sooner than others, but we all return to the mother of all mothers eventually.

It was beautiful to witness these two hatted hikers return and I hope they felt joy watching my return as well. May we support one another as wanderers and as women, to return in our own way and our time, knowing all the while that we have a team rooting us on.

To each of you, wherever you are in your journey, I wish you such immense peace and Joy! May you exist in life where your priories exist, may you follow your calls and know that your path is unique. I honor you and your individual winding road! Thank you, for honoring me and mine in such deeply beautiful and supportive ways!

With love,

Annalise

Drops Of Joy

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Dear Reader,

Yesterday, I sat by a river in Northern, CA. I shed my shoes and dipped my toes in the icy water. Immediately, I was transported back to Washington State; to naked river dips on my dance teachers property; and to deep dives into the Pacific, sheltering myself beneath the waves as the rain came down. And just as these thoughts entered my mind, the rain came.

And I wrote. I wrote in the rain, and about the rain. With the goofiest grin on my face, filled with unexplainable joy.

As if often the case, I will share my writing with you, raw and fairly untouched.

May these words bring you joy, may they resonate with something deep inside of you and awaken parts of you that have long been asleep.


Today, rain kissed me

once again,

she bounced off my hands

and onto my journal pages.

Cold rain,

the kind I have not felt

in months.

She was not torrential.

like Florida rain.

She was not warm,

like Dallas rain.

She felt, instead, like

the rain of my childhood.

Rain that embraces asphalt

with such enthusiasm

she creates a scent

better than that of sex.

Rain that mixes with salt water

as she glides over your body

into Bellingham Bay,

and washes every ounce

of pain

away.

Rain that reminds you

of dancing on chalk drawings

as they transform

and slink towards

rain grates

in a colorful mixtures.

Rain that chills you to the bone,

as you relive your Notebook moment

outside of the mall of your adolescence.

Rain that catches your tongue,

more familiar than falling snow.

The same rain

that left you soggy

and smiling

in your college lit class.

The same rain,

that turned your pony tail

into a sopping wet weapon

after late night runs in the rain

with your best friend.

This rain knows you,

intimately,

better

perhaps

than anyone

or anything.

This rain,

painted the sidewalks

of your childhood.

This rain,

pounded on your windshield

during 2 AM drives home

from your high school sweethearts’.

And this rain,

walked with you through the college campus

of your early adulthood.

Now, as you step back into this familiar rain,

she tentatively whispers

“You are home”

as she bounces

off your lobes.

Quiet, and slow,

as if she’s not sure,

you’ll take her back,

after all you’ve seen.

And though you haven’t told her yet,

the drops bouncing off

your skin

create a symphony

of welcome kisses,

of memories,

and comfort,

of familiar and welcome feelings;

and slowly,

they mix with new drops

falling off your cheeks.

You’re home,

and you would rather be here,

than anywhere else in the world.

In the Motherland,

blanketed in raindrops,

pine needles

and the songs

of rushing rivers.

Welcome me home rain.

I have arrived.


For the past nearly 7 months I have wandered away from the rain of my home, away from the familiar and into the unknown. And as I drive back along the coast I know so well, as I look out of the Pacific, and roll down my windows to gulp in the magical smell that has been with me my entire life, I am filled with such elation.

Wandering teaches you beautiful lessons.

And sometimes, these lessons include: how fucking amazing home can be.

I am jazzed to hunker down in the PNW for the sunny season, and catch the ever present raindrops that will so appropriately drop in and out.

May you wander where you are called, and may you know, your wandering mustn’t look like anyone else’s. Your journey is your own, and sometimes your journey will include some time in one place. This doesn’t make you any less worthy of the “Wanderer” title.

You are magnificent. You are worthy. And I love you, almost as I love the feeling of rain welcoming me home (hehe).

With love,

Annalise

The Winding Path To Radical Acceptance

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Dear Reader,

I’m sitting in a Toyota Dealership, half forcing myself to write to you. The past 24 hours have been a little wild, from strange men on BLM land, to unplanned truck stop sleeping, and finally to Luna breaking down on the side of the highway.

I have a pretty intense attachment to Luna. She’s my travel companion, my home, she is my soul sister, and the only other entity that travels with me all around the country. I’ve taken her to parts of the world she would never have seen without me as her driver, and likewise, she has taken me. We are a team. When she is hurt, I hurt.

Last night, driving and talking on the phone for moral support to try to figure out what to do, I felt less fear about the money for repairs, or where I’d sleep if they couldn’t fix her in one day. Instead, I really lost it when the words left my mouth: “she’s hurt and I don’t know what’s wrong.” I seriously love my car ya’ll, I couldn’t have taken this incredible trip to empowerment without Luna. And the past 24 hours have reminded me how important she is in this equation. But alas, the practical and the emotional all play a roll in this situation.

So, today I found myself thinking back to a post I read a year and a half ago by a women whose van broke down, and in the midst of repairs she wrote about radical acceptance.

Whilst thinking of this post and trying to remember her words of encouragement, I found myself constantly running through all the things I could and should have done differently; all the different mechanics I could have gone to; all the different places I should have stopped; hell, even thinking I should have just stayed in Dallas with my supportive community.

But obviously, all those thoughts are the furthest thing from radical acceptance.

So sew me, radical acceptance doesn’t come easily to me all the time — sometimes it’s a process, and that’s okay.

And as a part of the process I’m working on remembering what radical acceptance actually looks like.

Radical acceptance is knowing you’re right where you are, nowhere else.

Radical acceptance is sitting with the moment for what it is — not for the million things you could have done before now, or the million things you have to handle tomorrow.

Radical acceptance is taking things one step at a time as they emerge, and reminding yourself all is unfolding exactly as it should.

Radical acceptance is trying to find the silver lining — like remembering how big of a role Luna has played in my empowerment journey and honoring her with a necessary repair.

Radical acceptance is mega hard, and also mega important.

So here’s to moments that give us no other option than radical acceptance or a complete breakdown (both of which I danced between today), here’s to our companions in life, friends, family, lovers and cars alike, here’s to the ponderosa pines of California, route planning with your old man over the phone and a million phone calls to mom, here’s to eventually reaching a place of acceptance — maybe not radical but at least a step closer.

May each of you find peace by accepting exactly where you are!

With love,

Annalise

Planet Fitness and Privilege 

Privilege - Chosen Homelessness vs Homelessness Without Choice

Dear Reader,

I write to you from a rest stop picnic table off i-10 W. I am shaded by a dome and lit by a florescent bulb (oh yeah, and the AZ sunlight). To my right I watch the traffic continue to pile up, and to my left a woman in Sketchers stares at me like I’m the strangest oddity she’s ever seen before turning her gaze back to the incredible rock face and blue sky behind both of us.

There has been a crash and my gas tank, for once, is not appropriately full (I have half a tank and 60 miles to go, perfectly reasonable if the freeway wasn’t closed and the gas station nearest me wasn’t non-functional). So here I sit, waiting it out and writing to you.

I guess that’s the beauty of being on my own schedule, I have the privilege of spending the night here if I need to. I may not have the fullest tank of gas ever, but I am still prepared with enough food and water to last me, and my bed and clothing with me in Luna wherever I land — I am indeed, pretty damn lucky.

And that’s what I want to talk about today, my abundance of ease and privilege. 

After a three week layover in Dallas, I have been back on the road for three days and in those past three days I have done some major readjusting to life on the road. 

In some ways everything feels familiar, emptying my watery ice chest and making my peanut butter oatmeal in the front seat. 

But in other ways, every move feels unfamiliar, I no longer have a fluffy bathrobe and access to a shower 3 times a day (yes I effing love to shower, get off my nuts). But this unfamiliar feeling, this shift into comfortable discomfort and the life of freedom I love is very much my choice.

And as I transition back into the life I have chosen, I find ways to make it easy for myself. If you caught my Instagram live yesterday you’ll know I discovered a magical way make my life extra easy. I cracked the code to accessing a free, clean and safe shower on the road. Said shower being found at Planet Fitness.

In Florida, I popped in and out of the local Planet Fitness. Most days my best friend’s mamma guested me in, other days staff kindly let me slide in for free, and above board staff directed me to their website to request a free one-day guest pass.

When you request the guest pass, you simply put in your email and minutes later a barcode arrives in your inbox. This code will be for the Planet Fitness location you requested and all you have to do is walk in, hold out the code for them to scan and you have access to Planet Fitness for 24 hours. This means, you can shower, workout, soak up the AC, and surf the web for free. Hell, I could even shower three times in 24 hours.

So yesterday, in El Paso, TX I did just that, and it worked like a charm. I was sparkly clean and oh-so-very happy!

But here’s the thing folks, just because I can do this, doesn’t mean everyone else can.

I am operating under extreme privelege.

When I walk into a Planet Fitness with my Nike shoes and leggings, my Lexus car key in hand and hold out my rose gold iPhone, I am not questioned. I am smiled at and called ma’am, I am pointed to the restroom and the water foundation. No one pays attention to how long I sit in the lobby to use the WiFi, or my outfit change, wet hair and look of ecstacy simply for being clean once again when I leave.

And ya’ll, because I am clean, because my brown locks have been shampooed and dried into a curl, because my teeth are brushed and my face is washed, when I walk into a Starbucks the next morning and hold out my HydroFlask to the barista, she fills it up with hot water for free with a smile. She doesn’t ask me to leave with judgement. She doesn’t stop me from stepping into the adjacent restroom, or roll her eyes at me as I leave. 

I wander, by choice.

I live out of my car, by choice.

I gave up my home and steady job, by choice. 

And this choice, is a HUGE privilege. 

Living out of my car full time to travel has allowed me to interface with so many other folks who live transiently or without a home, not by choice, but by circumstance. 

These folks who sleep next to me in Walmart parking lots and on BLM land, who do not even attempt to get a cup of coffee from the Starbucks barista in fear of being kicked out of an air conditioned coffee shop on a boiling hot day, these folks who are kicked out anyway, who are made to feel less than human, these folks who are not handed the key to the gas station bathroom because of the cashiers judgement, we may be the same my definition but there is so much more to the story. 

These folks and myself, yes, we both live out of our vehicles, surf coaches, and constantly hop from one city to another in hopes of finding something better or something new, but I have a key ingredient that they don’t have, an ingredient that opens every door that they constantly have slammed in their face, and this ingredient is privilege.

It is not lost of me. I see it every single day. And I am constantly humbled by my ability to choose a lifestyle so many folks had no choice in.

It’s a trippy dicotammy, one that I am still not entirely sure what to do with.

Waves of sadness wash over me, of anger, of worthlessness, like I’m not doing or saying nearly enough.

So, today, I’m finally doing what I know how to do best, and I am bringing light to the inequity I see, to the cycle of poverty and the broken system and the unacknowledged privilege so many of us hold (and often hold over others) through my writing. 

May we all be aware of the people around us, may we treat one another with kindness and as much understanding as we can possibly muster. May we speak to the topics that scare us, the topics that aren’t always pretty and clean. May we put our privilege aside, ask questions, and actually listen to those who have answers.

I hope this post resonates with you in some way and inspires you to check your own privilege, to treat others the way they want to be treated and to listen and learn from folks who have walked different paths than your own.

With lots of love and gratitude, 

Annalise

Moving Toward Tiny

PS: My friend Brooke, lived in this tent for a season, so if you think for one second you can’t move toward tiny and be happy, chat with her (or myself) and we’ll tell you all the ways it’s totally possible!

PS: My friend Brooke, lived in this tent for a season, so if you think for one second you can’t move toward tiny and be happy, chat with her (or myself) and we’ll tell you all the ways it’s totally possible!

Dear Reader,

In honor of the first day of Spring (happy Spring ya’ll), I took a walk through Dallas suburbia.

Spring provides an opportunity to unburden yourself, to set new intentions, to step into a life full of newfound freedom and promise. But as I walked through Dallas Suburbia, I found myself unable to focus on the beautiful newness of Spring, on the birds chirping, or the cherry blossoms blooming. Instead, my focus was drawn to the rows of brick mansions, never-ending and ever-expanding in size.

Mansions three stories high, outfitted and manicured like model homes.

And the weirdest part? Not only did they look like un-lived in model homes, in large part, they seemed to be just that…uninhabited.

The owners were nowhere to be seen, either slaving away at the jobs they devoted their lives to, inhabiting the homes they own elsewhere, or lost deep within the winding walls of mansions much too big for them to navigate.

The only people to be seen were the folks employed to keep the homes manicured, to tend to the massive lawns, to paint the giant shutters, or to plant the lavish flowers.


Weaving in and out of the rows of mansions reminded me of my childhood. As a teenager, I went to a public school that educated children from one of the richest zip codes in the world. I stepped foot into mega mansions and listened to my friends parents dismiss their housekeepers and landscapers with racial slurs and tips thrown at them with smirks; as if they were doing as good deed, as if the money made their comments disappear.

As a teenager I knew my friend’s parents comments were wrong. I knew they were misguided. But I still thought of them as successful. I still felt pressure to become them, to own the massive homes they owned and to drive the flashy cars they drove.


But that longing changed years ago.

And today, as I walked through the Dallas suburbs, surrounded by mansions, I thought about all the waste.

And as I stopped to speak with the men painting the shutters, I thought about the prep schools of Dallas and the opportunity gap. I thought about these men’s children and the children who lived in the mansions they painted, and how different their homes and education would be.


Sometimes I get caught up in a disillusionment bubble.

Wandering teaches you so damn much…

It teaches you how insanely different each state is; how some states handle rehabilitation better than others, and how some states have hidden communities of enlightenment even when their neighbors have confederate flags in their yards.

It teaches you about the beauty of sex education in other countries and how incredible arranged marriages can be.

But wandering also connects you with so many fellow travelers who think just like you. Who want tiny homes; who can’t understand how wasteful our society has become; who live out of their backpacks; who have difficult conversations with people outside their race and culture in hopes of making change.

And eventually ya’ll, you start feeling hopeful that our generation will be the one that moves toward tiny and closing the wealth gap that so massively exists.

But then, you take a walk on the first day of Spring, and you wake the fuck up. You see the mega-mansions and the black and brown workers. You see manicured lawns and the uninhabited homes. You see the poor public education system and the unattainable prep schools. You see the waste and the disparity, and you wonder what it will take for society to give up the idea that success = stuff.


There is a whole section in my E-book Breaking The Chains about stepping out of this idea, and simplifying your life so you can focus on your happiness, rather than your image.

I mean fuck, maybe people really do want homes with 12 bedrooms, marble floors and 4 elevators. But I can’t understand why. I can’t understand how that makes them truly happy. And ya’ll, my guess is, it doesn’t. It just makes them feel superior.

And superiority only breeds further dissonence.


So, as I sit in an under 1000 square foot, two room home, I feel grateful. I see the walls painted with warm colors. I feel my heart beat calmly as I look to the plants on the counter. And I feel safe and settled, knowing this is not only enough, it is still more than I need.

So I will continue to move toward tiny.

I will sleep in my car and soak up the beauty of the wild wilderness. I will downsize from two rooms to just one, in a tiny log cabin in the middle of the woods.

And ya’ll, all the while I will wander forward knowing that great abundance and success exists in me and my life, not because I have a mega-mansion, but because I honor myself and others by having just enough stuff, and more than enough joy to fill up my space!


I send each one of you love, and encouragement to move toward tiny in the ways that feel good to you!

Big hugs,

Annalise

Home Is Where You Make It

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Dear Reader,

Today a write to you from a kitchen table (weird I know right?), wrapped in a fluffy robe, sun streaming in the windows. I am in a home, four walls painted with vibrant color surround me, a bed peaks through the doorway to my right, and outside lays a neighborhood to wander through.

In so many ways my heart is full. I am surrounded by community and love, I am peaceful and nourished, my belly is well fed by Texas Barbecue and homemade ceviche, my soul replenished by good music and deep connection. I am filled with gratitude. I mean shoot ya’ll, Trader Joes is walking distance and dance is every Wednesday and Sunday — you know that makes me happy.

Interestingly enough, my body wandered into this city with resistance, but my heart quickly followed, flowing freely, embracing Dallas and the community it holds.

But flow is an interesting phenomenon.

After all , just one week ago I was cozied up between four doors, adorned with command strips and solar lights in a free campground just for me and the wild creatures who sing to my soul and awaken the wild woman within me.

As I flow in and out of connection, in and out of different homes, cities and communities, I do so with such fulfillment, but I also do so with such great fear.

It is all too easy to sink into every spot on this earth that feels good, and simply get stuck. It took great intention not to simply settle in Cinque Terre, just about every spot in Utah, Durango CO, Santa Fe, The French Alps… and now here in Dallas, Texas (who the hell would have guessed).

But here’s what wandering has taught me:

It’s okay to have multiple homes, to be in love with multiple places and lives. It’s okay to hunker down for a while, and it’s equally okay to set back off once again. I am free to find the right balance for myself. I am free to chase after every home I could ever imagine or build. And just because I build multiple homes around the world, does not make any home less special than the other.

Luna will always be my home.

The tiny cabin in Randle, WA I can’t wait to return to will become a beautiful home all of my own.

The city of Dallas and the community and space I sink into now is already a home.

The land outside of Zion National Park in Hurricane, Utah, was my first home on the road and will be a home for me once again.

Each home is unique and different, they are all beautiful and powerful. I come alive in different ways in each home, in each space, in each community.

I must simply listen to the call home when it comes. If I continue to listen, if I continue to follow the call, to wander and create, and hunker and hustle, then my heart will be happy in all its homes.

It does not, and cannot, simply belong to one.

May you find the places around the world that are home to you. Wherever they are, whoever they’re with, however you find them, may they ALL be full of magic, love and healing.

With love,

Annalise

Carnal Creatures - Lessons Learned At Paynes Prairie

Carnal Creatures

Dear Reader,

This poem was pieced together from phrases frantically tapped on my phone screen as I sat on a bench in Paynes Prairie in Gainesville, FL. The magic of the Prairie, of the lessons it taught me, and of the parallels illuminated between wild animals and humankind is hard to capture in writing, but I was happy to do my best. May these words resonate with you…


Today I watched…

Webbed feet,

move silently,

each step undetected.

Pointed beaks bob,

manufactured to

skewer flesh.

Lifeless fish

swim once again

into the darkness

of unfamiliar bodies.

Today I felt…

The earth move beneath me,

as I danced for a child

moving out of a

familiar body, and

into the light of the wild world.

Today I heard…

Calls that sounded

like longing…

the kind of longing

I cage deep within my body,

to unleash only in

shame and

solitude.

But these calls were not caged,

they were unapologetic,

carnal,

and honest.

Today I read…

Words etched into

the wood of man-made structures,

as a snake lay unmoving,

snared in a tangle of branches,

and dragonflies glided

through wildflowers.

Today I was reminded…

Of the carnal creature

that lives within

all human bodies.

Of the marriage of

life and death.

Of the cages

we must break,

to sing our wild songs,

cry our deepest desires,

and live our most authentic truths.

Today I learned lessons,

That only nature can teach.


For today folks, that is all. I am happily camped out in Dallas, TX, a total surprise, happy to reminisce on my beautiful Floridian adventures, and also totally content to be exactly where I am.


Wandering is a beautiful lifestyle, full of unexpected and beautiful surprises at every turn, it reminds me constantly to stay open to the every type of lesson. May you stay open to all the lessons the world has waiting for you!

With love,

Annalise

Homecoming

Homecoming - It's more than a high school dance

Dear Reader,

In high school I didn’t understand why Homecoming was so special. Sure, I got to put on a fancy dress, paint my face with makeup, and feel like a grown up for one night. But, it didn’t really carry any weight. I never felt like I was coming home, celebrating the return to a space that held comfort, care and joy; or reuniting with long lost family and friends.

Homecoming was just a name, not an experience.

Many large universities also held homecoming celebrations in the Fall as students returned, and perhaps these celebrations would have felt more reflective of the name, “Homecoming” if Western had held them. But alas, WWU was not that type of school.

So, it wasn’t until after graduating, after leaving homecoming dances and celebrations behind that I truly experienced a real homecoming of my own.

As I walked through the Seattle-Tacoma airport after three months in Europe, tears filled my eyes, each corner I turned I imagined seeing my moms face, the wind escaped from my lungs with every checkpoint I passed, little gasps erupting from my body, and when I saw her, when I dropped my bags on the airport floor and ran into where I thought my mom’s arms were (I couldn’t see because of all the tears), that’s when I knew what Homecoming was.

As I watched the Seattle skyline wizz by outside my window on the drive and breathed in salty air, that’s when I knew what homecoming was.

When I sunk into the bed in my childhood room, I really got it.

Homecoming was not a dance, or a party, homecoming was the feeling of returning to a place filled with love and peace, familiarity, family and friends: a place you really felt at home.

And even for this wild woman, with a gypsy soul, there is no better feeling than coming home.

Getting off the plane this time around wasn’t as emotional. My checkpoints were fewer, my security clearance was quicker, I was an old pro at this by now. And this time, I wasn’t coming back to my childhood home or my mom’s open arms (I’d seen her just a month before in Switzerland thank goodness). This time I was coming home to my best friend and her sweet family, to my car-home Luna, and to US soil.

Even though it was different, it felt just as good. The moment I stepped foot off plane I felt like I could breathe again. I had been craving the ease of an airport where everyone spoke my language. The ease of knowing this would be my last airport for a while, and not just one of many along the way.

And when the customs officer smiled at me and said “Welcome Home” I got it once again: “Oh, this is homecoming.”

Climbing into Luna the next day brought it full circle. Sitting in Luna’s driver seat felt just like climbing into my childhood bed in Seattle. I was home. This was home. My little road trip queen, filled with everything I need in the world, was welcoming me back into her arms, and boy was I happy to be in them.

There’s no shame in wanting to come home, wanting to feel held in a familiar space, in celebrating the joy of returning to the known. Hell, that’s why there’s a whole tradition centered around homecoming. Sometimes you just have to get beyond high school dances to understand it.

You can still be a wanderer, and wander home from time to time.

After all, if you never wander home, you don’t have the opportunity to set back out into the world once again.

May you all enjoy wherever you find yourselves in your wandering journey. And always, always go where you are called, even when it’s home, even when it’s somewhere you never imagined you’d long to go! The world has lessons to teach you!

With love,

Annalise



Tampa, FL Travel Guide and Video

Dear Reader,

Today, I want to share about my time in Tampa, FL. After two months on the road, I hunkered down in Tampa with my sweet friend Alex and her family, and let’s not forget their two kitties. I spent a week and a half cozied up in a room all to myself, taking time to prepare for my backpacking journeys.

But ya’ll we also had some fun and got a little rowdy. Tampa is quite incredible and full of a ton of amazing places to relax, hike and party!

I know, you’re all thinking: a Washington Woman in FL, how could you possibly love it? I get it, it’s hot, it’s muggy, and the politics aren’t the best. And, even though I did see one dreaded “make America great again hat,” constantly blast the AC in the my car, and nearly get hit by crazy Florida drivers, I was pleasantly surprised by Tampa.

I met incredibly people, I drank very strong and inexpensive drinks, I watched a movie what can only be described as a Broadway theater for 9 bucks, and I found little pockets of nature to break up the city.

Ya’ll, I was also particularly inspired to post about Tampa (while in Thailand, I know more pictures and a blog post is coming), because I have the MOST AMAZING VIDEO TO SHARE WITH YOU:

SEE MY LATEST POST ON INSTAGRAM TO WATCH THE VIDEO! CLICK HERE!!!

Did you watch it? Your answer better be yes! If you did, you’ll know I wasn’t kidding when I said I found amazing people and beautiful nature to escape to in Tampa, FL!

So, after seeing that video, I would be shocked if you’re not already booking your plane ticket. But, if you need some more convincing here’s a list of my favorite spots!


Tampa River Walk

Tampa River Walk

  • Not only is the river walk generally beautiful, in winter there is a CHRISTMAS MARKET AND ICE RINK. Said Christmas market has really bomb vegan cookie dough called FroDough.

  • Pro-tip, if you happen to be dirt bagging it like me, there’s a free shower on the Tampa Riverwalk

  • They also have concerts and events nightly, there is never a dull moment

  • And ya’ll, you can buy drinks and walk around with them freely within the river walk - score!


Tampa Theater

Tampa Theater

  • If you surpass all my other suggestions please go here! It will blow your mind, and it’s super inexpensive! Regal and AMC tickets are nearly the mid-teens these days, but at Tampa theater you can grab a show from $9 or less.

  • There are TWO TIERS OF SEATING

  • Your show begins with a live piano player

  • THEY PLAY OLD CHRISTMAS MOVIES during the entire month of December - SCORE!

  • And it’s right next to the river walk


Clearwater Beach, Tampa FL

Clearwater Beach

  • Rated one of the best beaches in the world

  • The sand is pure white and smooth

  • Parking is $2.50 an hour — so score!! PS the parking lot right on the beach also has a bathroom

  • Also another opportunity for my fellow dirtbags to shower for free!


Eureka Springs Park, TAMPA FL

Eureka Springs Park — featured in Justin Munford’s Video

  • As promised, there are natural little oasis’ to escape to

  • Eurka Springs is super well maintained and easy to stroll through

  • There are beautiful flowers and an amazing boardwalk

  • Parking is $2 dollars and worth it

Seriously, don’t miss the tour of the park! Alex and I had an amazing time exploring this magical spot while Justin followed us around with a camera — basically our ideal day!


Splitsville Tampa FL

Splitsville - Bar, Bowling Alley and Arcade

  • Do you want strong cheap drinks? Go here.

  • Do you want free bar games like darts and skee ball? Definitely go here.

  • Do you want a bowling alley with a side of delicious fries? This is your spot?

  • How about a fantastic location right on the water? Yup! You've got it!

  • They are open LATE and it’s the perfect spot to go with one friend or a huge group — or go solo, because you know I’m all about that!


So there you have it, I’ll be back in the Spring to hit St. Pete and explore more of Florida — expect all the details then!

Oh and folks, if you want the perfect spot to stay while you visit Tampa probably (aka definitely) check out All The Rooms to guarantee the perfect Tampa escape!

With love,

Annalise

Austin, TX Travel Guide

Complete Travel Guide to Austin, TX

Dear Reader,

A number of you have requested more posts about the middle of the USA. I posted a lot about Utah, and then all of a sudden I had arrived in Florida. There is no doubt, my heart is happiest on BLM land, in wide open spaces, free of sky scrapers and full of pure, unencumbered nature.

Nonetheless, I did hit a few cool cities on my way to Tampa, FL. Namely, Austin, TX and NOLA.

So, this week I want to share the highlights of Austin, TX and provide a guide, just in case you find yourself in the Portland, OR of the South.

Next, week I will share a travel guide with all my favorite spots from NOLA.

I must say, in terms of cities, Austin (with the exception of crazy traffic, and non-sensical freeways) was pretty incredible. It was full of shops selling feminist gear, tex-mex restaurants and food trucks, quirky art all around, and tons of places to explore outdoors!

Sound like a city you’d like to visit? I’d recommend hitting these spots when you do:

Other stops worth making:

  1. A night out on 6th Street

  2. A walk around the Capitol - it’s huge

  3. The many, many murals hidden around the city

So, there you have it folks, a complete guide to my favorite spots in Austin, TX.

If you’re interested in a PDF version of this guide, please reach out to me below and I will send you a copy directly!

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Sending love and wishes for safe travels,

Annalise