March and April were slow travel months. In March, I didn't leave the state and opted to stay local to the bay area and southern California. In April, I left the state once to attend the Women in Travel Summit 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I wanted to keep it slow these past couple months to give myself enough energy to handle the travel heavy months of May and June; I will be flying out to Croatia in a couple days and will be in Eastern Europe for most of the month. In June, I will be spending half the month visiting with family in Michigan. It's going to be a hectic few weeks.
Getting closer to having a useable driveway on my property. The last time we headed up to Redding, I lifted the Yeti cooler into the cooler and pulled something in my back. I was useless for the entire weekend and several days afterward. This last weekend we were not only able to camp on the property for the first time, but we cleared almost the entire build site of yerba santa, the driveway of manzanita, and cut down half an oak tree, so we could pull a car into the beginning of the driveway. I hated yard work as a child but after years of desk jobs, I enjoyed the physical labor. I'm working toward building something that will be entirely ours.
Attending WITS17 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I did a full write-up of WITS17 here. Meeting with other bloggers and members of the travel industry definitely opened my eyes more to what the community is like. And I have mixed feelings about it. I did get to have an awkward fangirl moment with Amanda from A Dangerous Business. She and I share a birthday, and she gracefully high-fived me when I told her this. Total professional.
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Not an April post, but people love reading about hiking in the Santa Barbara Front Country. Honestly, I wish more people would skip Santa Barbara and come enjoy the smaller, funkier Ventura.
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People loved this photo of the Milwaukee skyline.
WHAT I READ
I finally finished reading Carrie Gibson's Empire's Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day. I've been working on reading this for over six months not because it was a boring book but because it is tremendous. This is not a dry history text. It is the telling of history at its finest: a complex interweaving of detailed primary sources into a larger overall narrative of exploitation, endurance, corruption, and strength. I knew from my progressive high school history courses that the United States relationship with the Caribbean was fraught with controversy but I had no idea the depth and length of which the United States and previous colonial powers went to keep their influence and control of the Caribbean. I knew nothing of the Caribbean's current relationship with the Middle East and North Africa or China and Taiwan. If you live in the western hemisphere, have traveled to the Caribbean, or plan on traveling to the Caribbean, please read this book.
Here's an excerpt from the final chapter "Invented Paradise":
The West Indies, as they are known and understood today, started out as a different type of European fantasy- they held the riches of the East, the cities of gold. That dream was a nightmare for the Amerindians and enslaved Africans, yet instead of these islands being accepted for what they are now, as distinct from what people wish them to be, the fantasy persists. Now they offer the ultimate 'experience': what is more indulgent to the harried, exhausted office worker than the idea of a week on a beach, staring at the sea, beer in hand? Free time is now the luxury, not sugar, or coffee, or mahogany, or indigo, or any of the goods that delighted the fickle tastes of Europeans....And while there is nothing wrong with wanting a break, with loving the sea, with enjoying a cold beer, there is often-though not always-a hidden price tag in the Caribbean, one most tourists do not and cannot see. As with sugar, someone somewhere else is paying for it.
WHAT I LISTENED TO
I love podcasts. I start many sentences with "I heard on this podcast..." or "When I was listening to this podcast, I learned that..." My newest podcast addictions Pod Save America and Up and Vanished. Pod Save America is a political podcast from Crooked Media. It is wickedly and tragically funny, super smart, and absolutely biased (don't care). Up and Vanished is a true crime podcast which delves into the no longer cold case of Tara Grinstead. As the creator pulls the case apart string by string, something stunning happens: Ryan Duke is arrested after confessing to the murder. This is in addition to Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff You Should Know (Weird crush: Josh Clark), Stuff Mom Never Told You (so sad they're not making it anymore), and Go West, Young Podcast.
WHAT I ATE
Totally surprised by Bella Vista Grill, a side of the highway burger and hot dog stand outside of Redding on Highway 299. I ordered the crispy chicken sandwich with chipotle mayo. The chicken was hot, crispy, and juicy and the lettuce, well, how often do you get to sing the praises of iceberg lettuce? This side of the road joint elicits just that with the big fresh crisp pile of lettuce on this sandwich. It was the perfect balance of grease, crispy veg, and creamy, spicy sauce.
COMING UP IN MAY 2017
I'm heading to Croatia and Hungary to visit my friend Maddy of Maddy and David Eat the World and Barbarian Gourmet Catering. We'll be hanging out with our friend Nan from AJ+ and eating tons of delicious Croatian food (truffles! risotto! calamari!). I hope we can put together a podcast and some vlogging. Stay tuned for updates.