Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Coast to coast and over seas

The trip back to the states included the usual 3 consisting of California, Oklahoma and Florida. In order to catch up quickly I’m going to post some of my favorite photos that Matt and I snagged per state.

As you can imagine, Oklahoma didn’t necessarily provide the best of landscape shots, but Matt was able to capture some wildlife that can easily be overlooked.

You know these lovely ladies, my cousins Lacie and Lana have made random appearences like Hot with a 92% chance of muggyFamily and treats in Oklahoma and Till next time Oklahoma! Check out these comparisons from a few years ago to now.

Moving on to California! Before Matt met me here, I was honored to attend a dear friends wedding. Now when I say “dear friend”, I mean a woman that has shown me the true definition of unconditional love and support. It makes my heart full of joy to see her so happy. Congrats to Liz and Katie! Ps, best Rockabilly wedding ever and a special thanks to my perfect date, Crystal! (you’ve seen her in Jumbled shinaniguns in California and 32 candles on 32 peddles!) Wedding bells put away and Matt finally arriving, it was time to venture around! Of course we hit my hometown of Folsom, but the highlight was Truckee and Lake Tahoe! Here are some of my favorite pictures he took with the rest shown on his site www.stonesharpimagesphotography.comThe Heavenly ski resort provides a gondola ride for all of their participants as well as non skiers to enjoy the epic view of Lake Tahoe. Shall we? We shall!

The above photo is looking back at the Lake and below is what you’ll see as the slow, smooth moving Gondola glides to the top.

Finishing up my visit to the US, I found myslelf all smiles with good ol’ mom. Although it really has nothing to do with this post I feel the need to list a few of my favorite writings that include moments with her. So if you’ve got the time for random reads, I invite you to visit the pasts posts of our time in Cental America when mom was brave enough to venture abroad with me in Puerto de la Libertad and Wrapping up our time in El Salvador. Or maybe you’d be interested in good cry today? Embrace yourself for Not just a dolphin tour, it seems to be a tear jerker.

Getting back to this post, I mainly just wanted to hit the highlights of music, beaches and friends… the perfect combo!

After soaking up time with family, friends and new acquaintances I flew to South Florida to meet back up with Matt.

Intermission: Turns out I traveled straight through the tornados of Atlanta and was held in the airport for two days. Here’s what the terminals look like at 2am with severe weather outside. After 8 canceled flights, 38 hours of wandering the airport and being 130 on the standby list… I finally made it! Our next flight and final stop is home (for now) being the beautiful island of Barbados! 

Grams

I’d like to start this post by acknowledging that it’s been awhile since my most recent active blogging. I don’t have a list of reasons as I believe when you want to make something happen badly enough, you make it happen. So no excuses here, just the simple fact of life changing turns that put other priorities in need of my attention. So after a short break and rejuvenation, I’m back to writing with some exciting new updates coming soon!

Today is the 3rd of April. 82 years ago a beautiful spirit was born and I’m honored to say she played a major roll in my life. I’ve written before of people who have passed on in this lifetime and their impact on me and the memories that followed their departure… but I’ve sat here for too long with an abundance of words that aren’t forming any proper sentences. I feel that nothing can truly express my interpretation of the amazing woman named Marth Sue Young (Jackson).

(Enter hours of staring at a blank screen here)

Still without a quality beginning, I figured I’d just start by admitting that words and photos simply can not translate the significance of this bright smiling, warm hearted, stubborn, hard working, gorgeous woman that loved unconditionally. We called her Grams. Beyond raising three daughters and my dad, Grams was a wife, sister, aunt, great aunt, grandmother, great grandma and even survived the birth of her 2 great-great grandchildren! She fostered the youth with mental disabilities, cooked for new moms and often brought meals to local families in distress. Even in her weaker days she’d guide me in the kitchen to bake for someone in need. She rarely complained of her own discomfort and usually kept focus on her family. She was capable of making you do something (with love) without you even knowing you were doing it. She hand pushed her own lawn mower until she was 80 years old (and don’t dare to try and take that from her unless you’re prepared to lose a finger). Hungry? Before you could even answer she’d have a hot meal at your chin with dessert waiting. My uncle J.E said Sue was the only woman he knew that could walk into the kitchen, throw flour into the air and come out with an award winning coconut cream pie. She had magical powers.

When I was young we used to sit together and watch the Price is Right after eating her famous pancakes that she had so creatively designed into recognizable designs. We’d flip through warn pages of the Sears “Maz-uh-geen” (apparently that’s how I used to pronounce “magazine”) while nibbling on Cheeze-Its. I’d ride buddy style on the back of her bike as we’d chase the ice cream man to get our favorite vanilla cones. Many more precious years allowed for several cooking lessons, summer vacations, late night frozen yogurts and countless hours of putting together puzzles. Priceless memories to say the least.

When I loaded up to start backpacking over 5 years ago, she kept her spare room ready for my return and the kitchen stocked with my favorites. I’d bring back international treats that we’d giggle in question if it was edible or not. I’d show her bizarre photos from abroad and eagerly answer her intriguing questions that often led to stories of my travels. 

If you’ve been following this blog, chances are you’ve read several posts written directly from her front room. Here’s one of the last photos I captured as I wrote in my usual spot with the view of our typical silly socks.

This is where I feel a heart felt message would be appropriate about how she’s gone but her spirit still lives or maybe a few quotes about how she’ll never be forgotten… but I must admit again, words don’t even scrape the surface of her everlasting presence. I’m confident to speak for other family members and dear friends when I say that Sue Jackson Young is and always will be unforgettable.

Hot with a 92% chance of muggy

I landed in Arkansas to visit an extraordinary girl that I’ve been able to grow up with and watch develop into a strong woman and nurturing mom. You’ve seen her before in several posts including Dear highway, will you ever end?  and Look Keka, I got a bullfrog! World, meet my cousin (more like a sister) Lana Lane. We didn’t have much time for quirky photos or big events, but we dig snag a picture of the road trip to Oklahoma- me, her and her family. 

Once arriving to Oklahoma we immediately started our giggles with her sister, which of course means my other sister(ish) cousin, Lacie Lane. Things that would never happen in her home: strangers– because everyone’s welcome with a smile, hunger– because she’d give you her last to make sure you’re fed, misbehaving children– momma bear means business! From left to right, Tennesee (Lacies daughter), Lacie, muah and Lana.

We all joined her son in his first soccer game of the season. You’ve seen sweet Dane in the post Time to work hard(ish).Once the cousins went back to their Monday routines I ventured to my family’s house for some sibling summer fun! Kind of strange to be writing after all these years as if you, the audience, knows these kids personally. I suppose if you’ve been following since the beginning you’ve seen them grow from little tykes in Till next time Oklahoma to the most recent in New found higher love.  Now they range from 6-18 years old! 

I was flattered when the boys invited me on a sunrise fishing trip. Just us, a few poles, bait and priceless time to catch up.

The walk home brought a bundle of fish and some growling tummies. I’ll give you one guess on what we ate for lunch…

Wondering what the temperature is in Oklahoma on a sunny September afternoon? 

Hot with a 92% chance of muggy. 

Our cure? Swim! Last year my carefree siblings were livin it up using a horse trough as a pool. Check out the turkey that joined them in the post You know you’re a country kid when… This summers swimming pool? Well from their mouths, “it’s a real one Keka!” (They call me Keh-kuh)

Have I a mentioned how lucky I am to be surrounded by such wonderful energy? These kids are irreplaceable.

…5 years later

What makes her happy trails so happy? Let me just share a few reasons that have recently been amplified in this beautiful journey I call life. 
First off, we have this glorious planet offering a variety of stunning landscapes and wondrous elements. Then there’s the creatures that keep us intrigued from under the sea to the tops of the highest peaks. Let’s not forgot the loving, creative, crazy humans that enhance the entire magnificent experience.

My last post wrapped up a season in Barbados which sends me off on another trip back to the states to see family and friends. Before I get to that, let’s acknowledge another happy part of these trails. Connection! Simply one of my favorite things about traveling. You meet a stranger on a bus, in a hostel, the line at a market, no matter where the universe allows it, your paths are supposed to cross. Maybe just for that moment, or continuing through a week of friendship along the trail, or even for a lifetime. It’s magical when you recognize a purpose behind every smile you connect with. 

Exactly 5 years ago, I was on one my first solo international trips. I say “solo”, but although I planned this alone, it was on a semi-guided tour with a company called Contiki.. The route took me and 2 dozen other travelers from Italy to France, down through Monaco and ended in Spain where I parted from the group. 

Along the way I met a dozen or so wonderful people that I’m still in touch with today. Here’s a few meeting to reunion photos!

The most recent reconnection was during my travels from Barbados to Oklahoma with an unexpected magical pit stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a 14 hour layover which meant I had a typical over night stay which entails a cold airport floor with the sounds of the custodians popping chewing gum over the humming of their vacuum. I invite you to check out the posts called Work out and rest up in Asian airports and Floor seats in the Lima airport, unforgettable nights for sure! I’m usually bundled up with every heavy piece of clothing item in my backpack in order to endure the below comfortable temperatures while using my backpack as a makeshift cot. The morning consists of me walking the terminals to get the blood flowing again while waiting for the cafes to open so I can get a cup of hot water for the one single tea bag I keep in my wallet. I take a wet wipe shower in the bathroom and although I brush my teeth with real paste and actual water (verses spit and shine in the back of a camper), it still feels like I have backpackers breath as I board my flight with one eye open and the fleeting thought, “I forgot deodorant”. 

Think 14 hours seems a bit much? Check out 51 hours to get 1/2 way around the world!

Well not this time folks! World meet Karyne (pronounced cuh-reen) She’s another one of the amazing friends I first met in Rome back in 2011. After parting ways in the streets of Spain, Karyne and I remained in contact through good ol Facebook. Now, she’s offered not only her home but a lift to and from the airport and an unexpected dinner out. I sat here for too long trying to think of a creative name for the award she should recieve for her hospitality. I felt so welcome and we spoke like it was just yesterday that we were sipping sangria on the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Here is our then and now pic (sorry for the blurry photo, it was a good night in France).

Her house was right up my alley with instruments, personal artwork and a beverage cart for all to share. 

What was completely foreign to me however, was her spare room aka her closet!

The morning after our catch up session we hustled back to the airport to say our farewells as I departed for my final stop. Such a better ride than the usual airport shuttle!
Bonus highlight! I met this adorable couple on the flight over. Amanda and Tyler share a passion towards biology, art and travel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see them again, but I can only expect exceptional things in their future. Thanks for the stimulating conversation and supportive energy towards spreading the joy of travel! 

In the next post you’ll see what Oklahoma has to offer me but I’ll close this write up with a collage that shows 3 roads I traveled in 3 consecutive days. Gotta love the beauty in variety! Barbados-Florida-Oklahoma

New found higher love

I recently visited tornado alley known as Oklahoma with what seemed to be… well, a tornado of a trip. The whirlwind flew by with a few false storm alarms and some quality time with the family. For the sake of me looking back on this blog someday, I’m going to post a couple pics of my amazing siblings to remind myself of the beautiful growth they’ve shown. For those of you who have been following for sometime, you may rememeber these little guys from years past.
 And now… These kids have continued to brighten my life beyond expectations. 

In order from left to right is Hannah, Joseph, Sarah, Rachel and to the right of me Ben. We will also always keep loving memory of little Elizabeth.

A refreshing thought crossed my mind the other day that has filled my heart with all that mooshy stuff and provided some unexpected new feelings. As we all know, I’m not a mother. Yes, I’ve been an “adult female figure” or “role model” when teaching youth sports, working in schools and volunteering in orphanages but to date, I have never adopted or given birth. With all that said, the love I feel for these 5 kids extends beyond the ways of description. I feel aching when I know they’re in pain. To the type of depth in which I’d do anything to remove their burdens. The single thought of any situation that I couldn’t protect them seems devastating.  These feelings are acocompanied with the highest of love from within… Almost beyond my little human ability (if that makes any sense). When they sing for me, it’s everything I have not to allow the tears to roll down my face. At the very sight of they’re smiles, my world seems magically brighter. It’s powerful.

I can express first hand what it’s like to have protective parents (love you guys!). Feeling the intense love can be comforting yet suffocating at times. All in all I’d rather have their concern for me than the other extreme. That topic could be an entire new post but I’d like to stick with the new found love I’ve felt. I appreciate my parents more everyday and now make a conscious effort to try and understand why they do what they do. If I feel this way about my siblings, I can only fathom what one must feel towards their own child. 


So to all the parents out there who have children at a stage in which desire independence or don’t need you as much as before, please remember that for most, the love will just grow as they do. The way it’s expressed will always be changing and in my experience, the comprehension of what you’ve done for them and the unconditional nurturing that comes from within will be acknowledged and honored more in time to come.

On the subject of family…

There’s my dear little grown-up cousin Annie. This young lady has a natural (and you slight Youtube enhanced) skill of makeup artistry. Considering my extent of makeup maxes out at actually putting on mascara, it was exciting to sit down and let her play! Step one: I sit, she giggles and the process begins!




I felt way out of the fashion loop when she busted out tape… Like from a dispenser. Enough said.

 Annie, you are a talented girl with a contagious smile and a magnetic personality. Keep that powerful attitude of yours focused on the right path… your path. Love you cuz!

I’m finally in Instagram! (Thank you Ryan for the helpful push). Find me under herhappytrails. 

#itsabouttime