Author: travellingwomanblog

Beach Mode

I had been wanting to go to the beach for quite a while, but there weren’t any close by that interested me.  Ocean City didn’t really appeal, I didn’t want to go back to Delaware, and Virginia Beach had left a bad taste in my mouth when I was last there in high school (which wasn’t entirely its fault–the weather was bad and it was offseason).

But I was persuaded to give Virginia Beach another chance.  Doing some research, I found that there were lots of interesting things to do in and around the beach–breweries, botanical gardens, museums, a zoo.

So I made my hotel reservation just a few days before the trip, checking that the weather would be good while I was there, and officially made a plan to go.  I could not have picked a better time–the weather was perfect, and I was staying at an oceanfront hotel with a balcony.  Plus, I wanted to go to the beach before Memorial Day and school got out.  On this trip, I barely hit any traffic at all!

It was mid-afternoon when I got to the beach, so I decided to take a walk and get dinner nearby before figuring out a plan for the next day.  I picked up some touristy magazines and found out about the burgeoning local beer scene and decided my plans for the next day would include the Norfolk Botanical Garden (a place I hadn’t even known about prior) and Wasserhund Brewing.

The next day, I slathered on my sunscreen, picked up my giant sun hat, and wandered around the garden.  I was excited to find a Japanese garden with bonsai trees!  (I’ve been interested in bonsai since I first saw an exhibit of them at the North Carolina Arboretum a few years back.)  I enjoyed the rose garden and was glad to sit in a swing in the shade of a gazebo as well.  As much wandering as I did, I still managed to miss a huge part of the garden, never quite making it all the way to the other end (the garden could benefit from better signage).

I wandered around this place for 2.5 hours and still didn't see all the stuff I wanted to see.

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I lunched at the German-inspired Wasserhund Brewing, which featured one of the better coffee beers I’ve had recently, the Haywire Husky Coffee Lager, and some fantastic pizza. They have fun events like bingo night too.

I went back to my hotel room long enough to change and apply more sunscreen before taking a long walk on the beach.  The weather was so good, I had to get out and enjoy it.

Fabulous A+ morning.

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On my walk, I accidentally discovered that Home Republic Brewing was just a couple blocks from my hotel, so I decided to have dinner there.  The burger and lava cake were delicious, but I wish I had enjoyed the beer more.

I had hoped to get to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk on Thursday, but time didn’t allow since I had to be back home for a class that night.  I took one last walk on the beach before departing for Pierce’s, the storied yellow-and-orange barbecue joint visible from
I-64 near Williamsburg.  It’s a place I have visited many times, but not in about eight years.  Mom and I used to drive to Williamsburg just for Pierce’s, occasionally making a trip to the outlet malls.

It was a short but sweet trip to the beach.  Next time I’ll have to stay longer so I can do more of the things I’d hoped to.

Have any of you got plans for the summer?


It certainly has been an interesting couple of months, hasn’t it?  2017 has brought a lot of changes that perhaps many would not have predicted, and so far we’re only one very slow-moving month in.  So much is up in the air.

The past month hasn’t seen many changes in my specific purview besides another birthday come and gone.  In the wider scope of my family, there have been some interesting developments.  Mom had a milestone birthday (am I freaking out about that more than she is?  Maybe) and my grandfather spent time in the hospital and is currently in physical rehab.  He’ll be 90 in April (think about all the changes he’s seen!). There’s talk of “what’s next” for my grandparents as their capacity to do all the things they used to do has diminished.

What changes do I plan for my life this year?  There are so many things I’ve intended to do and still haven’t done (see also:  my non-existent freelance writing/editing career).  I do intend to travel more, even if it’s just micro-trips and long weekends.  I haven’t travelled out of state in almost a year.  In the next week I intend to go to a museum in DC, something I haven’t done in ages.

As far as this blog goes…I’ve been doing this for ten years.  TEN.  YEARS.  (I feel really old saying that.)  I haven’t always been committed to it, but thinking back, this is almost the longest span of time I’ve committed to anything.  I started A 3×5 Life in December 2006 to more widely publish a school-sponsored online journal I’d kept during a class trip to Italy.  (Good thing, because it doesn’t seem to exist any longer on the school website.)  I like to think my writing style has been refined in that time (what kind of writer and editor would I be if it hadn’t?).  I have some ideas about refreshing this blog.  I’ve done a very rudimentary logo drawing that I think is pretty awesome but needs actual art skills applied.  I have an idea for a set color scheme too (#branding).

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some of the somewhat-preachy overarching thoughts I’ve had in light of all the goings-on in the world:

The platitude about “being the change you want to see in the world” has never been more appropriate.  Fight the good fight.  Enjoy and make the most of your life in the time that you have (because you don’t know how long that’ll be).  Seek to love and understand each other because of, and even in spite of, our differences, because life would be awfully boring if we were all the same.

Until next time, fellow travellers.

Up in the air

To be honest, the title is a little misleading because I am feeling a bit more grounded right now.  This is because I have a new place to live.  Even though it’s in an area I’m familiar with because I’ve driven through it so many times, I’m glad to have a new microsection of Fairfax County to explore–new parks, new shortcuts, all that.  But it’s not so far from where I live now that I would be shopping at a different Target.  I’m really going to miss living where I live now and the new place is a little out of the way, but there are a lot of good things about the move as well.

My new room is smaller, but somehow feels homey and roomy.  Maybe it’s the layout. (Maybe it’s because I won’t be using it as storage space for random crap like I am in my current place.)  There’s tons of shelving.  TONS.  It’s oddly exciting.  I think I’ll be able to fit all of my current furniture in the room.  The owners are offering me what feels like abnormal amounts of storage space.  Parking won’t be a problem.  I feel like this place offers a more comfortable space to have friends over.  I’m also going to get in a lot of cardio because it’s upstairs and there are no elevators.  I’ll be saving a lot of money, which was really what was driving the whole need to move.  The owners are really great and even lowered the rent and aren’t charging me for November.  It really is rather miraculous.

I can’t believe my luck, considering I forgot to send in the application for a week and they were trying to move on because they hadn’t heard from me.

In other news, I’ve had a couple of interviews for a temporary copyediting job. It’ll be a couple of weeks before I know more, but I’m hopeful.

The next 12 days involves me packing, working six straight days in the lead-up to Thanksgiving (I’m beginning to dread working at a grocery store during the holidays…), moving, and listening to relatives talk about politics at Thanksgiving.  It’s going to be an interesting and probably trying couple of weeks.

I hope you all will stay safe and have a fabulous Thanksgiving with people and food that you love.  And don’t forget to actually be thankful.

Que Sera, Sera

So up until a couple of weeks ago, I had basically resigned myself to living in Richmond again.  I had friends ask me why–clearly my life is up here; obviously I didn’t want to leave; there are more opportunities up here anyway (I’ve applied to several government jobs that I’m pretty sure I’m in no way qualified for, but hey, I’ll let the hiring teams sort that out I guess).  Some of my best friends even offered to let me live in their basement if it comes down to it.

One of the jobs I interviewed for in Richmond made me take an entire personality test. One of the statements on there was something to the effect of:  How hard do you work for something you want?

So I started looking for more reasonably-priced places to live.  A college friend put me in touch with friends of hers, and it seemed like a perfect fit–the location was decent, the people were cool, the house was great.  But it’s still too much money.  So close and yet so far.  On the other end of the spectrum, I had what I thought was a somewhat promising lead from CraigsList, only to find that the house was shared by five people.  I’m not really sure what I expected, but I do have my limits; I’m trying to avoid the “dorm full of adults” experience.

I have one day off this week and it’s almost entirely accounted for (fun things, at least: Hanging out with one of my best friends and her kids, getting a massage, seeing a concert with another friend).  I’ll only have one next week if I end up moving that weekend (we’re already talking about the end of the month here–seriously, how is this happening?), and that will be spent packing because I’ve hardly done any.  My second job at a local party and costume store will probably beg me to come in since it’s Halloween weekend.  We’ll just have to see what happens, I guess.  I’m trying not to freak out because I have no idea what’s going to happen (which is exactly my usual reason for freaking out), but since there’s only so much I can do at this point, why get worked up?  Whatever will be, will be.

Until next time…

Weighing the options

“And if I face indecision, don’t let me face it alone” – Carbon Leaf, “Indecision”

So, do you remember that time I wrote about how badly I needed to get out of Richmond?  I may yet live to eat those words.  I recently started Instagram and Facebook pages called Taste of RVA to highlight some of the many goings-on about the city (even though I don’t actually live there right now).

Right now, I’m trying to justify staying in the DC area.  This is where my life has been most of the last nine (!) years.  Am I really so burned out on it that I need to leave?  But even though I dig my current job, it alone doesn’t pay enough for me to stay.  So my options are:

1)  Hustle harder–just start freelancing already, do more Lyft rides, pick up more shifts.  Because while I could leverage my blog to be an Amazon affiliate or be a paid blogger/spokesperson for a brand, I would still make very little money off of it (*waves to my small but loyal readership*), aside from the fact that that’s just not my deal.

2)  Find a cheaper place to live, which up here usually means living in the sticks and having a long commute to work or having several roommates…or both.

3)  Move back to Richmond.

4)  Find a job somewhere that isn’t DC or Richmond.  (That travel agent job in Asheville would’ve been pretty prime, but of course, they weren’t interested.)

5)  Write that surefire-Emmy winner of a teleplay already.

Stay tuned, and be good to each other.

Is it fall yet?

Well, summer is nearly over.  Hard to believe, right?  It’s been a busy one.  I’m done with all of my classes (for now, at least).  I really enjoyed learning a lot from my teachers and being around other talented writers, but at the same time I’m glad to be able to reclaim some time.  This week marks my last at the cheese shop, as I am starting a job at Trader Joe’s, very conveniently located right by my house.  I put myself in the unfortunate position of working 10 days in a row, but I look forward to about six days off afterward. Leaving the cheese shop is bittersweet because I like all my coworkers (even though most of them already left to go back to school, and still more are leaving soon), but I’m not really going to say no to a better-paying job walking distance from my house where I won’t have to pay to park or commute.  (Plus, who doesn’t like Trader Joe’s?)  Working at the cheese shop has had an unusual and unexpected side effect:  The food there is so rich and heavy that I now look at the menu and turn up my nose–something I never expected to happen (you’ve seen my Instagram feed, so you know what I’m talking about).  Recently, I’ve found myself eating more bland things like graham crackers and English muffins (you know, totally balanced diet).  Last week, I started going to the salad place next door!  You know things are serious when that happens.

There isn’t really much else to report because I haven’t been anywhere–I haven’t taken a trip since I went to New York in February, six whole months ago!  I really need to rectify that soon!

In the past year, I’ve had a number of good friends embark on new adventures:  Two have had kids, one bought a house, friends got married earlier this month, and another moved with her husband and kids to Ghana for two years to teach at an international school. Meanwhile, all of my grand ideas about moving away from Virginia have pretty much withered on the vine because I’ve lost interest.  You may recall that not all that long ago, I had an obsession with moving to the West Coast, and while that still sounds like it could be fun, it just seems like a hassle aside from being financially unreachable (Serious question:  How do people afford to live in San Francisco?).  Besides that, all of my family and almost all of my friends are in Virginia, and with the mounting unexpected issues my grandparents have had in recent years, I’m not sure I want to stray but so far from home. That said, the fight to not just be complacent–to not settle–continues…


Where have your adventures taken you this summer?  Where should I consider going when I finally get out of town again?

15 years ago today…

In high school, I was in a special program and one of the classes was an economics class.  I was an absolutely dreadful econ student, but the teacher, Mr. Zinn, was really cool.  So cool, in fact, that as an alternative to all the Europe trips students could take “where you just go visit a bunch of churches” (not that there’s anything wrong with that), he was putting together a trip to Australia and New Zealand, as he had done before.  Originally, we were supposed to go in 2000, but no one would be quite ready to go in that timeframe, and plus there was the whole Sydney Olympics thing happening around the time we planned to go.  So we decided the trip would take place in July 2001.  Two students from a previous trip decided to go; and of course, my parents decided they needed to chaperone and my uncle and a friend of the family ended up joining as well.  Due to alphabetical order of last names, I was fortunately seated next to the cute guy on our trip (bonus:  he had a bag of fun size Twix bars for the flight).

On July 11, 2001, we left for our trip.  Just getting to Australia was a little more challenging than we’d anticipated; we stopped in Fiji for fuel and spent an hour circling Sydney.  After an hour, our pilot gave up and flew us to Melbourne, a city we weren’t even scheduled to visit.  No one had gotten enough sleep to be useful and yet we set out to explore the city where we’d gotten a bonus night.  I was so tired, I announced my intention to go to bed, at which point my parents insisted that that was silly and I needed to go out. I think the thing I remember most about that evening is nearly nodding off numerous times while sitting down to watch the cheesy tourist-bait movie they showed in the tower, but I’m still glad my parents had the sense to get me out of the hotel.

Uncle Ken and I in the Great Barrier Reef
My uncle and I in the Great Barrier Reef.

We spent a couple of days in Cairns, which is in a rainforest and serves as a sort of gateway to the unparalleled beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, before heading to Sydney.  I remember snippets of our time there:  The bus tour around the city to see Olympic sites, Bondi, Manly, going to the fancy jewelry store to learn about opals and buy the best ones in town, freezing as the wind blew off the water as we waited for our Opera House tour to begin, our cheeky tour guide Megan, going to the Blue Mountains despite feeling awful, going to Planet Hollywood for dinner with most of the rest of my classmates, everyone buying Australian-made cowboy hats (yeah, I have no idea why that happened).  But needless to say, the city had a hold on me. Afterward, I would tell anyone who would listen that I wanted to live there one day–if only it weren’t so far away…

me and Sydney Opera House in background 7.17.01 crop

We spent time in Auckland and Rotorua, New Zealand, where we did home stays for a night, took boats through glow worm caves and saw locals perform a haka.  Yes, the country is exactly as green and hilly and gorgeous as all the movies show it to be.  (Go see Taika Waititi’s fun and wonderful Hunt for the Wilderpeople in theaters now–there are some knockout shots.)

So how did this trip change my life?  It showed me what travel can do to you–make you obsessed with places you’ve been, where you see things both natural and man-made that you could never have imagined and you can engage with a different way of life.  And yes, I still miss Sydney (Hobart too) and want to go back even though there are so, so many places I haven’t been yet, entire continents that I haven’t even touched.  It’ll happen, one day.

me on BridgeClimb 12.25.13

How has travel changed your life?  How do you want it to?