Cross-Country Road Trip Part 1: Washington to Oregon

 

Check out the vlog at https://youtu.be/yMNEyW2-3yE

Hey folks – long time no talk!  Life’s been busy, but good.  On August 27th my husband, Solomon, and I set off for Georgia from Washington.  The first leg of our journey took us to Oregon for a few days.
We left August 27th with a lot of food and a lot of baggage (in a purely physical sense).  Stopped for a drip coffee and a dirty hemp chai latte at Vinaccio’s Coffee in Monroe – they have the best dirty chai I’ve ever had.  We ran into Mike, the owner of the shop, who actually sent Solomon a five pound bag of coffee beans when he was deployed overseas, and chatted with him for a hot minute before taking off, for real.
The drive was pretty but felt long, given Solomon’s insistence on playing only music of the Willie Nelson variety (don’t get me wrong, I like Willie Nelson – just not hours of Willie Nelson).  We pulled over for lunch in the parking lot of a gas station and chowed down on cheese sticks and baby carrots.
Made a stop at Cape Disappointment and walked through the ruins of the fort and up to the lighthouse.  The area was beautiful but hot as hades – we would later learn from the owner of the hostel we stayed at that Oregon was having one of the hottest summers in the last few years…
After sweating our butts off, we hopped over the Oregon state line to stop at Pier 39 and listen to the sweet song of the iconic sea lions.  Our home for the night, Seaside International Hostel, was just 15 minutes away.  The owner (I want to say Ed, but don’t take my word on that) was hilarious and helpful, giving us a dinner recommendation and informing us the hostel would provide pancake mix and his own homemade maple syrup for breakfast.
We took Ed’s advice and stopped for a bite at Sam’s Seaside Cafe, a no frills seafood restaurant tucked in-between cringe-y tourist traps.  The oyster shooters were fresh and flavorful, and the tuna salad sandwich was perfectly classic.  From there, we drove over to Cannon Beach to check out the iconic Haystack Rock at sunset, which did not disappoint.

The next day we woke up, treated ourselves to pancakes with Ed’s homemade syrup, and chatted with one of the hostel workers, a self-proclaimed bicycle nomad.  We walked through the hostel’s backyard garden to catch a view of the river before heading out for Portland.
Unfortunately, our stop in Portland was a bit of a bust.  We were already pressed for time and pretty much only had time to grab a cold brew from Coava Coffee Roasters (which was smooth and refreshing).  We drove through the city for a bit and were mostly met with construction, confusing road signs, and traffic, which was a big bummer.
BUT things improved once we got out of the city.  We stopped for another parking lot lunch (this time, at a Safeway) and then headed for Bend, our destination for the night.  The drive took us right by Mt. Hood and through beautiful, stormy plains.
After meeting up with our Bend friend (nice rhyme, I know) we had a quick climbing session at Bend Rock Gym and then grabbed a hefty dinner from River Pig Saloon – nachos for me and a bison burger for Solomon.  We turned in early for the night in preparation for the day ahead…

Thursday (August 29) we started the day with breakfast burritos from Taco Salsa and made the (not so) lengthy drive to Smith Rock State Park, a gorgeous climbing area that rivals the southeastern crags Solomon and I are used to.  A quick hike into the canyon floor led us to Morning Glory Wall, where we knocked out 5 Gallon Buckets (5.8) and The Outsiders (5.9).  We hiked over to another wall that I don’t know the name of and climbed a few more routes that, again, I don’t know the name of…whoops.
As storm clouds began to creep in we threw in the towel and drove back home for naps and showers. After refreshing ourselves with sleep and soap we met again at The Lot, a courtyard of food trucks where we picked up some massive portions of pad thai and stir fry.   After hanging out for a bit we all gave in to exhaustion and decided to call it a night, as the next day Solomon woke up bright and early at 5:15am to make our way to Salt Lake City, Utah…

Eating My Way Across the Country

How did 2 vegans and 1 vegetarian stay well fed on a road trip from Georgia to Washington?  Is it possible to make it across the state of South Dakota without eating meat (and also not starving)?  But how healthy did we actually eat during 7 days of driving cross country?  Find out below!

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SNACKS

  • Protein bars
    TIP: make sure the bar you choose has a good ratio of protein to sugar – I prefer bars with at least 20 grams of protein and less than 5 grams of sugar.  Try the Quest brand in oatmeal chocolate chip or ONE in glazed donut!
  • Greek yogurt (again – watch the sugar content)
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Lightly salted mixed nuts
  • Dark chocolate covered nuts (a better option than candy bars!)
  • Potato chip alternatives such as pea crisps or whole grain crackers

When traveling, my philosophy with food is to make healthy choices about 75% and splurge the other 25%, and the splurges I do have are usually local treats.  That way I have a good balance of healthy eating while also enjoying what the area has to offer!

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NASHVILLE, TN 
The Southern V

Vegan. Soul. Food.  That’s about all you need to know.  Stop by for some killer jackfruit BBQ, crispy “chicken” sandwiches, creamy mac and cheese, and classic baked beans.

 

 


KANSIS CITY, MOIMG_3349
Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude was a gem to discover a few years back when we road-tripped to Colorado for a vacation.  The entire menu is plant-based and they have a huge range of raw options as well – try the chai milkshake which is to die for!

 

 

 

SIOUX CITY, IA
Coffee and Nosh Food Truck

Such a fun find in the small town of Sioux City, Iowa which hosts Food Truck Fridays over the summer!  We got one of their bowls with jackfruit instead of meat.  It was a fresh and delicious snack!

RAPID CITY, SD
Everest Cuisine

I’ll admit it – I was a bit wary of trying an Indian/Nepalese restaurant in South Dakota.  But Everest Cuisine was a delicious surprise with a great variety of vegetarian and vegan options!  Their vegetable samosas and yellow lentil dish never disappoint.

MID/NORTHWEST STATES
Taco Johns + Taco Time

 

So no, fast food Mexican is generally not a super healthy dining option.  But play the menu right and you can put together a quick vegetarian meal that is a way better option than french fries or cheese pizza.  The bean tacos and burritos from Taco Johns are a solid choice, and you can get a side of guacamole for only $1.00!  Taco Time is another great option as they offer bowls which can easily be made vegetarian.

BOZEMAN, MT
Red Tractor Pizza The Nova Cafe

 

Boy, did we get lucky in Bozeman.  Dinner was from Red Tractor Pizza: with vegan crust and cheese options and a huge range of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, you can put together an amazing pizza (I recommend adding fresh basil, rosemary roasted squash, and roasted brussel sprouts)!  We were equally spoiled the next morning with The Nova Cafe’s breakfast of a blue algae smoothie bowl and potato hash with forbidden black rice – the perfect way to kick off your day.

SEATTLE, WA
So. Many. Restaurants.

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Seriously, there are soooo many crazy good vegetarian/vegan options in and around Seattle.  From an entirely plant-based restaurant chain only found on the west coast (Veggie Grill) to vegan nachos (El Borracho), pizza (Pizza Pi), donuts (Mighty-O Donuts) and more, Seattle has so much to offer.

There you have it folks.  Thanks so much for reading, and stay tuned for more Seattle-related posts soon!
-Lizzie

 

 

When Your Boyfriend Goes to Basic

When Your Boyfriend Goes to Basic – VIDEO

Hey my peeps!
At the beginning of 2018 my boyfriend, Solomon, shipped off for 3 1/2 months of basic training after joining the Army National Guard.  The experience of being apart and only communicating through letters was incredibly challenging but even more so rewarding, so we decided to film a video telling you all about what it was like!  To be honest, this isn’t really an “advice” video because, honestly, neither of us are qualified to give relationship advice and everyone’s situation is different.  BUT if you are currently (or will soon be) going through a similar experience, hopefully this video makes you feel a little bit better about what it might be like.  Ultimately, we are both so thankful for those few months; they challenged us and pushed us to grow not only as a couple, but also as individuals.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you take it as an opportunity to explore and grow and thrive, rather than just an obstacle to get through as quickly as you can.  Enjoy the experience as best you can!
I hope you enjoy this video, and if you enjoyed having Solomon on the blog let me know – maybe I’ll let him back on in the future 😉

 

Life Updates – Junior Year + Moving

Hello all!
It’s been a hot minute since I last updated the blog – between school, work, and spending time with friends and family, it’s been a busy spring semester.  Here’s what I’ve been up to and what’s to come:

  • I wrapped up sophomore year and made the decision to transfer colleges – the past year, I’ve been at Young Harris College, a small (I mean, small) liberal arts college in north Georgia.  Although I made some lifelong friends and took some really interesting and challenging courses during my time there, I just didn’t enjoy the campus or the vibe of the school as much as I wanted to.  After lots and lots of prayer and discussions with family, I’ve decided to transfer to the University of North Georgia for my last 2 years of school.  I love the UNG campus and already have some friends there, plus they have lots of opportunities for backpacking and rock-climbing!
  • My parents are preparing to move to Seattle – towards the end of last year, my dad accepted a position with Microsoft and my parents made the decision to move to Seattle.  To be perfectly honest, I was not on board to begin with.  The idea of my family leaving to move across the country was straight up terrifying, and I was convinced I wasn’t ready for it.  After some time to think and pray and prepare, though, I’m so excited for them!  Plus – how cool is it gonna be to visit Washington all the time?  Recently, we’ve all been super busy preparing to sell the house, and they’re gearing up to move hopefully within the next couple weeks.
  • I’m getting ready to live on my own – although I’ve been out of the house for the past year of college, I haven’t really been out of the house, if you know what I mean.  Once my parents move to Washington, I’ll be living in Dahlonega full-time as I’ve been blessed enough to find an apartment near the college that I’ll be moving into at the end of summer.  I am so excited to begin this next chapter of adulthood – and most importantly, I’ll finally have my own kitchen to cook in!
  • My boyfriend joined the military – at the beginning of the year, my boyfriend shipped off for 3 1/2 months of basic training for the Army.  Saying “see you later” to my best friend was one of the hardest experiences I’ve been through, and the transition to communicating solely through weekly letters and minute-long phone calls once a month was incredibly daunting.  Those months ended up being an incredible blessing, though – they challenged us and strengthened our relationship in so many ways, and I am beyond thankful to have him home as of a couple weeks ago.  That time apart not only strengthened us as a couple, but also as individuals, and I’m so grateful to have had those months to push myself and grow in ways I couldn’t have experienced otherwise.

As for the rest of the summer – I’ll be focusing on working a lot to save up for the fall semester and spending time with my parents and friends.  Although I’ll be staying in Georgia for most of the summer, I am planning to fly up to Seattle once my parents have moved to help them settle in.  I’m also hoping to spend some time exploring the southeast and hopefully getting in a few backpacking and rock-climbing trips!
The first few months of 2018 have flown by and, sadly, I don’t think the rest of the year will slow down much.  I can’t wait for what’s to come and I plan to share my adventures as they unfold.
Until next time!

 

How to Deal with Anxiety in College

Towards the middle of my first semester living at college, I began to experience a lot of anxiety.  There were entire days where I felt like my heart was constantly racing and my mind was unable to focus on anything.  What few moments of peace I did have were tainted by the fear that they would be short-lived.  I was struggling to get simple things done or enjoy experiences that should have been fun and lighthearted.  Although I’ve experienced anxiety before, I had never felt it to this degree.  But instead of letting it dictate my time and emotions, I made an effort to work through the experience and address it.  If you’re someone who experiences anxiety or even just struggles to find peace in the hectic schedule of college, here are some things that worked for me (and most of these work whether you’re a student or not!):

1. Confide in someone

Whether it’s a friend at school, a family member, or a pen pal, it’s always important to have a person you can rant to without judgment.  Sometimes they will have advice or a different perspective you wouldn’t have thought of yourself – but sometimes it’s just nice to let it all out.

2. Manage your responsibilities

If homework, job duties, or other to-do’s start piling up, it will only fuel your anxiety.  Take the time to sit down and make a list of what you need to work on, in order of priority.  Don’t try to do it all at once or you’ll just fizzle out – schedule manageable amounts of work throughout the day.

3. Create a relaxing environment to work/live in

My dorm room often becomes the “meeting place” for my group of friends and even though I love hanging out with everyone, I know that if I need to get work done, I can’t do it with a lot of other people in the room or I’ll just get distracted.  Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself to get stuff done, even if it means stepping away from the fun for a minute!  Similarly, I try to make sure my dorm always feels cozy and inviting so that I can de-stress.  (Check out my Dorm Room Essentials post for tips!)

4. Commit to a wellness routine

One of the best ways for me to channel my anxiety is through working out and getting active.  Whether it’s going to the gym or taking a hike, grabbing a friend to knock out a killer workout will refocus your mind and make you feel refreshed.  If working out isn’t your thing, try yoga or gentle stretches.  Yoga with Adriene has some fantastic 30-day series on Youtube, but even taking 5 minutes in the morning to stretch and wake your body up will make a difference in the tone of your day.  Don’t forget about nutrition too – make a point to eat fresh foods and try to avoid the greasy, processed foods, at least throughout the week.  Treat yourself when you really need it, but take everything in moderation!

5. Go to therapy

For a lot of people, the idea of therapy can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  Most colleges will offer free counseling or therapy sessions – take advantage of them!  Everyone will get something different out of the experience and you may find that it’s not for you, but it’s always valuable to take advantage of the resources available to you.  Having a neutral party you can discuss your life with can be very cathartic once you get past the initial awkwardness.

 

Dorm Room Essentials

Hello all and happy 2018!

To kick of this year, I wanted to share some off my dorm room essentials with you.  Let’s delve in!

 

 

An oil diffuser – I got mine as a Christmas gift and it has made a huge difference in the coziness of my dorm room!  I love mixing up what oils I put in depending on my mood that day – sometimes I prefer something with peppermint to give me energy, while other days I like a touch of cinnamon to fight off oncoming sicknesses.  There are tons of oil diffuser and essential oil options out there; I have the AromaSphere by Serene Living which is great because of how small and easy it is, and I received a kit of Seasonal Change essential oils from NOW Foods which have proven amazing.

A pin-board (or something else to display memories from throughout the semester) – once you start attending events, taking pictures, or receiving letters and cards, it’s nice to have a cute reminder you can look at throughout the day.

A low-maintenance plant – I always have some sort of plant in my living space, whether it be bamboo, flowers, or succulents.  Right before the semester started, my boyfriend gave me this grafted cactus (which I’ve named Frijole in honor of my favorite food).  Hopefully I have better luck keeping this one alive than the one I had last semester which I managed to overwater….

A planner and/or journal – Although I need to keep a calendar and reminders on my phone to keep on track throughout the day, I also find it helpful and stress-relieving to have an actual paper planner where I can see big-picture plans and events and actually write things out.  Additionally, I think it can be really beneficial to have a small journal or even a penpal who you can write letters to – it’s so cathartic to take the time to write out what’s been going on in your life and what your thoughts/feelings are.

A reusable water bottle – My water bottle goes with me everywhere: classes, car rides, workout sessions, hikes.  Not only is it a cool place to collect stickers and a handy reminder to stay hydrated, but it’s also better for the environment!

Non-traditional sources of light – While lamps and overhead lights are obviously helpful and sometimes necessary, I also make a point to use unconventional light sources, like salt lamps and string lights, to help brighten my room.  They feel cozier and more welcoming than a harsh, overhead light, and they’re a lot cuter!

Your favorite movies/books/board games – Honestly, you may not have much time to take advantage of them, but having them around is still great for those rare days you have some free time to kill and want to unwind with an old favorite!  (Pardon my inclusion of Twilight and the Hannah Montana Movie, it was a moment of weakness with my fellow dorm-mates.)

Personal wall decorations – I didn’t stress too much about having a “theme” or “design” for my room; instead, I found some cool prints, postcards, and wall decorations I liked that didn’t clash, and I used those to add a pop to my otherwise boring dorm walls!

 

 

The Must-See of Seattle

 

Hello all!  At the beginning of December I took a trip with my family to Seattle to get a feel for the town as my parents will be moving there next summer.  The trip was incredibly fun and the perfect way to kick off Christmas break, so I wanted to share our itinerary in case you find yourself there and need some ideas of what to see and where to eat!

Day 1: Pike Place Market and the Gingerbread Village

Although our first day mostly consisted of travel, we did have the evening to explore the area around Pike Place Market.  The market is probably one of the most famous establishments in Seattle, and although it was closed the night we first went, we came back another day to walk through and see the different vendors.  From there, we stopped in Metsker Maps, a super cool store containing – you guessed it – lots of unique maps, postcards, and guidebooks.  If you find yourself in downtown Seattle around Christmastime, the Sheraton hosts a Gingerbread Village featuring crazy cool and detailed sculptures all made out of candy!  We were also lucky enough to be staying in a hotel right next to the Space Needle which is a beautiful nighttime sight.
Where to eat: Blossom Vegetarian in Renton is a perfect place to grab a bite after a long flight; they have countless vegan options including the best faux chicken nuggets I’ve had!  Veggie Grill is a great option as well with a variety of sandwiches, bowls, and sides.

Day 2: Books and Records Galore

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We took a lazy Sunday to check out some shops around town: the Elliot Bay Book Company is a really nice store with tons of books and stationary.  There are lots of record shops nearby as well so make a point to stop by one and browse away.  After picking up some groceries and checking out the well-known Jimi Hendrix Statue on Broadway St., we took some time to relax in the hotel before heading back out for dinner.
Where to eat: vegan waffles and ice cream from The Cookie Counter make for a delicious start to the day.  Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzeria has some of the best vegan cheese I’ve had with tons of topping options!

Day 3: Olympic Sculpture Park, Redmond, and Bellevue

Start your morning off by taking a lazy walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park.  With lots of interesting sculptures and art pieces and a prime view of the water (we were lucky enough to see a seal!), it’s a beautiful spot.  Taking a short walk up towards 5th Avenue will also take you by the Pacific Science Center where you can see some more sculptures and catch a beautiful view of the Space Needle.  That day, we took a drive up to Redmond to visit the Microsoft campus and grab drinks at a coffeeshop before catching the sunset in downtown Bellevue and enjoying the Christmas lights.  Finish off the day by taking a walk or drive through Candy Cane Lane, a neighborhood in Seattle that goes all out with the Christmas decorations every year.
Where to eat: Teapot Vegetarian House in Redmond is another delicious vegan Asian restaurant to check out – make sure to try their Thai iced tea!  If you’re looking for a cup of coffee and a relaxing vibe, stop by SoulFood CoffeeHouse (also in Redmond).

Day 4: MoPOP, Starbucks Reserve, and Kirkland

The Museum of Pop Culture is a super cool stop with exhibits that rotate out – when we visited, they had one about science fiction movies, one about horror movies, several music exhibits about David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, and a huge area dedicated to Star Trek.  After taking our time at the museum, we visited Starbucks Reserve, a location serving blends and drinks you can’t find anywhere else.  After lunch nearby, we decided to spend the rest of the day driving through the Lake Washington and Kirkland areas.  The homes in these neighborhoods are stunning and they have beautiful views of the water so be sure to check them out if you have the time.  Our last day in Seattle was relaxed and fun, the perfect end to a stellar vacation.
Where to eat: El Borracho serves up some amazing vegan nachos with the best vegan queso I’ve had yet.

There you have it!  I’m eager to go back and see more of Seattle and the neighborhoods around it.  If you need more inspiration, check out my friend Olivia’s blog about her trip to Seattle over the summer: Olivia-Frances.com.
Until next time!

College Updates and Weekend Adventures

To check out a video of my weekend adventures, click below!

College Updates and Weekend Adventures

Hi everyone!  It’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated the blog.  Since college has started I’ve been pretty slammed keeping up with school, work, and spending time with friends and family.  This weekend I finally had a minute to relax, sleep in, and laze around… but of course I decided to take that downtime and do some exploring instead of catching up on sleep.  Be sure to check out my video from this weekend at the link above!

My first stop on Thursday was Blood Mountain, where I decided to take an overnight camping trip.  Although I’ve hiked Blood a bunch of times, I’ve never had the chance to camp at the summit.  It wasn’t until after I made all my plans and prepared all my gear that I realized I would be camping the night of Friday the 13th.  Alone.  On a mountain literally called Blood Mountain.

 

Somehow, I made it out alive.  Friday morning I stopped by Mountain Crossings to shower off, grab some food, and get directions to Amicalola Falls, where I met my longtime friend, Hannah.

After hiking the falls, we made our way to a nearby apple orchard for some apple picking and to enjoy some fried pies.

The next day, my friends from school (Hannah and Mckayla) and I decided to check out Minnehaha Falls, about an hour from the school.  The short hike had an incredible payoff, as the waterfall is one of the best in the state, in my opinion.  Although there were lots of other people at the falls, it was still beautiful.

On Sunday, my boyfriend Solomon and I hiked up to Rabun Bald, a trail we first explored last summer when tackling Georgia’s 5 tallest mountains in 48 hours!  Although the trail is short at 1.6 miles, it’s pretty steep.  The views are absolutely worth it (it is the second tallest summit in Georgia).  Although I didn’t get many photos or videos from the top because there were lots of people, the views are always stunning.

 

Hopefully I’ll have more time to update the blog as the semester goes on.  I have lots of ideas for future adventures and blogs so stay tuned!