Wanderlust: How I Travel

 

White Mountains, New Hampshire

If I had a dollar for every time I saw a blog post entitled, “Ten Places to Travel When You’re Broke AF” I’d actually have enough money to go on one of these proclaimed “cheap” places.

While I think it’s great Millennials have a desire to get out and travel the world, I find it discouraging to think others feel left out due to a lack of time, money, or travel buddy.

Let’s be real, some recent college graduates have just begun working and may only have three to five vacation days in the bank. For my current job, I work on three Saturdays out of the month and do not have the luxury of two consecutive days off four times a month or taking a “long weekend”. Oh, poor me!

Now that I’m living on my own, I also pay for my own groceries and rent on top of other expenses. Who knew just taking up space on planet earth could equate to so many dollar signs?

NOT ME, UNTIL I DITCHED MY PARENTS AND MOVED OUT EAST. My former bedroom has already been renovated.

So anywho, flexible and fixed expenses can add up quickly, especially if you’re trying to do things like eat food and not live in a dumpster.

Add limited funds to the issue of being a lone twenty-something-year-old and your options may seem limited for travel.

So although I can’t jet-set like a mofo, I have little angst about the fact I can’t travel to tropical locations or ski resorts as often as I’d like.

HOW CAN THIS BE? I THOUGHT YOU LIKED TO WHINE, KRISTIN HOVIE.

Well I can’t deny bitching is a great pastime of mine, I’ve been able to utilize my new location to take more adventures that are friendly to my wallet, work with my schedule, and doable alone.

Princeton was my favorite Ivy League school to visit.

The result: many day trips to regional destinations. Remember, wanderlust doesn’t always have to apply to overseas destinations. This in mind, I’ve been exploring New England like it’s my day job. The east coast offers no shortage of beautiful oceanic views, mountaintop selfie opportunities, and historical landmarks. The best part of this? It’s relatively cheap, everything is within about a four-hour car ride, and these trips are doable alone.

Naturally, most of the places I’ve been require plenty of photos. I tend to post my adventures on Instagram and other social media sites and as a result, sometimes get questions about where I’m going and how I find I found the location I’m posing in front of. I’ve compiled a short question/answer section below that goes over a few of the most common inquiries. ENJOY!

The Providence Performing Arts Center

Q. How do you find these locations?

A. A mixture of research and spontaneous..ness.

Short answer: TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google, Social Media, and Bloggers.

Longer answer: My trips are often determined based on a healthy mix of researching the shit out of things and YOLOing. I like to be outside as much as possible, but when this isn’t possible I tend to gravitate towards museums and the performing arts. I’m also lucky in the sense that bloggers like Kiel James Patrick and Sarah Vickers share their location on their Instagram photos. If I think what they’re posing in front of is pretty or fun, I’ll plan a trip. I started following a bunch of bloggers on social media sites for New England inspiration.

Further Insight: When I saw the Boston Symphony Orchestra in January, I planned ahead about three weeks. I managed to get my hands on a $34 ticket in the nosebleed section and did my research to figure out where to park and how much it’d cost me. The venue was gorgeous and I had a great time remembering when I used to carve my initials into my rental violin in middle school. While walking down Massachusetts Avenue, I saw a sushi place I decided to randomly stop by for food. The combination of planning ahead and YOLOing worked out well in this case. Both were public venues where I didn’t feel weird or nervous about being alone. This was also the case when I saw John Cleese at the Providence Performing Arts Center (also around $40).

Other times, I’ll plan an outdoor trip a few days in advance. For obvious reasons, it’s important to take the weather into consideration. TripAdvisor has been a godsend this past winter to help me identify National and State Parks that are worth visiting. I’ll typically find locations on this site then research them more thoroughly to see if it’s worth my time. Trips to places like Fort Wetherill can be attributed to planning ahead while seeing the breathtaking views of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel are purely coincidental (I literally pulled off the highway).

Sometimes the spontaneous doesn’t work out, but it’s not worth getting upset over. I decided to nix a trip to the Boston Contemporary Museum of Art because I felt uncomfortable walking around Boston alone after dark on empty streets.

The Providence Public Library

Q. Do you feel uncomfortable alone? Do you hike by yourself?

A. Sometimes and it depends on the location.

Short answer: Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I sometimes do feel uncomfortable being alone. If it makes sense, I’d rather feel uncomfortable surrounded by a group of people than uncomfortable alone in the mountains. I do not hike alone in the White Mountains or Adirondacks. It’s simply too large an area to not have great cell reception and people have died falling off cliffs or drowning in rivers. Though I’ve been responsible for children while hiking and know the basics, I simply do not have all the supplies necessary to feel comfortable hiking alone.

Longer answer: I was very stupid this past fall and decided to hike Mount Ascutney in Vermont after eating nothing but a granola bar for breakfast. I was also out of shape and thought I could handle a two mile hike to the summit (3140’ as opposed to Cascade Mountain which I did a couple summers ago at 4098’). I managed to make it to the top of the mountain fine, but the hike down reduced me to tears. I was shaking so badly on the hike down I moreso flopped my way down the path to my car. Lesson learned. On the bright side, I was smart enough to screenshot a map of the hiking paths and thoroughly research it before leaving my apartment in Providence.

I am snobby when it comes to hiking and don’t think Newport’s “Cliff Walk” is considered a hike at all, but I will definitely do this alone. Ditto with beach walks!

The Palestra at Penn

Q. Who is taking your picture?

A. Me.

Short answer: Target sells these cheap, smartphone tripods that are about three inches tall. I have also become acquainted with the ten second self timer. I’m working on purchasing a tripod for my Canon t5i Rebel now, hopefully this will allow me to experiment with editing less grainy photos.

Long answer: It would be a lot less effort to just take a photograph of a landscape without me in it, given I’m by myself, right? Yes. Though I have plenty of landscape photos, I just think it’s more special when I’m in the pic to show that I was there. When my kids look back on my pictures years and years from now, I think they’ll find it more interesting to see photos of me doing things, not just…things. I know I enjoy going through my parents’ photographs of when they hiked the Great Smoky Mountains at my age. My favorites are the photographs where my parents are shown along with the landscape around them. Say what you want, but I like the creative problem solving involved in trying to capture both a feeling and moment in front of something breathtakingly beautiful. It’s artsy and just a tad bit vain, but I like that sh*t.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Q. What are your favorite places that you’ve traveled to so far?

A. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Fort Wetherill, and the Adirondacks in New York.

Elaboration: The Museum of Fine Arts was and is incredible. I’m a fairly artsy person, so I could spend hours parked in front of a few displays or paintings but there are so many different exhibits that continually change that are sure to appease just about everyone. Fort Wetherill might just be my single-most favorite location in all of Rhode Island. Though many newcomers may pass Jamestown on their way to Newport, it’s definitely worth the pit stop. It faintly reminds me of Capri (Italy) with the rocky outcrops, secret beaches, and incredible ocean views. Though it can get busy on weekends, it’s fun to climb around the rocks and watch the sunset from this state park. The Adirondacks will always have a special place in my heart after working at Camp Treetops a few summers ago. I was only living there for about three months, but there’s something comforting about being surrounded by giant mountains.

Adirondack Park, New York

Q. What other places do you plan on visiting?

A. Mount Washington (New Hampshire), the Boston Public Library, and Blue Shutters Beach (Rhode Island) in the summer.

Short answer: I’m absolutely dying to hike Mount Washington this spring or summer once the weather conditions get better. It’s the highest mountain peak in the northeast. The only reason I drag my butt to the YMCA or go out on runs is to get into better shape for this trip. After seeing photographs of the Boston Public Library, I knew I will have to take the forty-five minute drive just to check out the amazing architecture of this building. Check out the photo below, it looks like something straight out of Harry Potter. I’ve been to Blue Shutters Beach a couple of times this winter already, but I can’t wait to haul all my beach things with me this summer. The water is an unreal shade of blue-green, the sand is white, and it’s a very natural environment. Summer can’t get here soon enough!

Newport, Rhode Island

Let me know if you have additional questions regarding travelling regionally as I’d be happy to dish, betch. I’ll pretend I have awwllll the answers.

In the meantime, get out and explore wherever you are!

More pics from my adventures below:

Beavertail State Park, Rhode Island

 

Mount Ascutney, Vermont

Ocean Drive (Newport, Rhode Island)

Omni Mount Washington Resort, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

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Fort Wetherill, Rhode Island

 

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Preliminary Dating Profile: One Hundo P Real

Any time I visit my dear old grandparents, they make it a point to ask how I’m doing:

“Oh, we didn’t think we’d make it this far. We might go any day now…it’s nice you called. How is the weather? Do you like your job?”

Sprinkled amongst their many questions is always one that always serves as a special treat:

“Are you meeting any nice men out there?”

While it’s definitely thrilling enough having them grill my sister about her boyfriend (whom they are under the impression was born in Nigeria and whose name has been American-Depression-Era-icized as “Timmy” instead of Temi), I sometimes get the pleasure of explaining to my 88-year-old grandparents that no, they will not live to see the day I date anyone and get married anywhere other than a Las Vegas church by Elvis while three times over the legal limit.

My grandparents are tough folks, having grown up in the Depression and all, so they put on their bravest faces, ignore the shock, and try to keep their teeth in their mouths.

Bless their souls, I love them to death.

In spite of them almost certainly believing I am a closet lesbian, I have decided to put myself out there…starting now. Here’s a preliminary start to my dating profile which will be up within the next month. I’m not joking.

This will be my Profile Pic.

Name: Kristin Elizabeth Hovie III*

*Not the III

Short Blurb on Me: I spent most of my life fighting with my father (who didn’t understand my curiosity about the human world) and this curvalicious octopus b*tch (who wanted my voice to seduce my hot love interest). My best friends include a neurotic crab who composes music and Flounder, who is basically my day one hoe. Oh wait…that’s The Little Mermaid…

Hometown: Bumblef*ck, Wisconsin

Currently: Laying in a ditch contemplating the meaning of life.

Birthday: November 9th

Education: BA in English, elementary tap dancing.

Occupation: Standing in line for food at soup kitchens due to said Bachelor’s Degree.

Height: Chances are I can probably dunk on yo ass and hit a three point fade away jumper on you in a game of one-on-one. If you like ya shawties…shawt…I am very not that.

Body Type: A cross between a sock monkey and an 80-year-old amateur adult film star. I will not send you anything other than head-shot photos because I want to troll you so hard on date #1. I just might be a transvestite.

Sexual Orientation: I identify strongly with a potato.

Ethnicity: White as f*ck.

Thing I am Most Passionate About: Taco Bell, a good whiskey Old Fashioned, and shaking my ass on the hood of Whitesnake’s car

Religion: The one with human sacrifices every Tuesday night.

Skills/Rewards:

  • Thumbs Up from mom for cleaning up dog poop on front lawn
  • Gold Star for mastering “Mississippi Hot Dog” on the violin
  • Pat On The Back from dad for being able to tell the difference between a Phillips and Straight Edge screwdriver
  • $10 from Grandpa for power washing front porch
  • Insurmountable Feelings of Pride from Self for backing a trailer 
  • Pokemaster (all badges, beat Professor Oak’s nephew no prob)
  • Killed a Basilisk and saved Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (for PS2) in roughly eight hours
  • Powers: Fireblast (but only five times per battle or I get worn out), Bubbleblast, Scratch, and Whine
  • Participation Ribbon for 13th place at Summer Fun Run of 2004

Hobbies include chilling.

Things Overheard about Kristin:

    • “I just don’t understand how she finds shoes large enough for her feet…” -Kristin’s prom date Senior year of High School after being stepped on several times
    • “I was always very concerned about her…in fifth grade she would crawl around on the ground at recess by herself and insist that others call her ‘Blackstar’ or something like that. The janitor had to rip down half the forts she made along the fence back in ‘04.” -Kristin’s 5th Grade Teacher
    • “Kristin who?” -Kristin’s 7th Grade Crush
    • “Helluv an ass.” -Homeless man in New York City

Hobbies:

  • Catching mad air off my front curb with my Razr scooter
  • Cyberbullying children 
  • Tweeting slam poetry at McDonald’s
  • Working on my beer pong wrist flick while in public places
  • Probably making you a sandwich

Quotes:

  • “Positive self talk is hard when you’re working with an idiot.” -Me

This is me knowing how to have a good time.

If Interested:

  • Contact me at this phone number (920-555-5555). It’s my dad’s cell, he’ll want to conduct a thorough screening of your dating profile and will set up an appointment/date if you fit the following qualifications:
    • Nobel Peace Prize recipient
    • Have owned or currently own a Mustang GT
    • and Like fart jokes

On Politics: An English Grad Dives In

Happy Fourth of July, people! Time to find a flag, hug your dog, take trendy Insta pics, and crack open a cold one. Because this is America, damnit!

No time like the present to talk about one of the topics your parents told you to avoid at your in-laws. We all know the topics to avoid: money, religion, politics along with questions like, “Aunt Marlene, should you really be throwing back that many glasses of wine in front of your kids?” and that “God loves the Gays” t-shirt your rather flamboyant cousin wears to family reunions just to piss of your great-uncle Albert. Truth is, politics have been around long before Uncle Sam, and definitely will be long after. We might as well not ignore this fact. This being said, I’m not condoning getting into full blown arguments with your family, friends, or complete strangers during your mother’s cousin’s daughter’s nephew’s grandparent’s funeral. These heated arguments arise from deeply rooted passion from within us and should always be treated with extreme caution. Instead, I’d like to attempt to offer a more optimistic view of politics for what they are today in America. It doesn’t start off pretty, however.

As I’m sure many of you are, I’m frickin’ frustrated. With all the media hype around Trump and Clinton, it’s hard to tell the bullcrap from the…not so bullcrap. Us, as the general public, have to constantly fight this sh*tstorm of information on a daily basis. All of this discourse comes from outlets which have anywhere from a slight to more pronounced bias. We all know the New York Times and CNN are more liberal, just as the Wall Street Journal and Fox are more conservative. What I’m not so sure about is that we constantly remind ourselves this whenever we read or watch anything. As humans, we’re constantly being bombarded with information. Whether it be billboards, commercials, or that chick at Macy’s who insists on spritzing you to death with Dolce and Gabana Light Blue, we are always taking in information and processing it to form opinions based on our real life experiences. All the discourse put out in the world comes from another human with biases, save for cold hard numbers, which we know can often be misinterpreted and manipulated as well, given the study (“COFFEE NOW OKAY TO DRINK, HUNDREDS OF ANTIOXIDANTS”, etc.). Sometimes others’ opinions match up neatly with ours, other times, not so much. And that is the beauty of being in a country such as America! Hug hug, kiss kiss!

It’s a privilege that we can speak ill of our president and not go to jail, or disagree with prominent figures in government and not face imminent death. BUT, with this comes responsibility. This (sometime) apparent lack of understanding around  is where my frustration comes from.

To political candidates and voters alike, perception is unfortunately reality. We’ve all heard Hillary name calling Trump and vice versa. The low blows and mudslinging candidates do is something I wish they’d keep to themselves, but this is certainly never going to cease. However, if we would change the quality of our arguments, the candidates might have to change the way they try to attract voters. Optimistic? Definitely! There’s no harm in the effort to move in this direction.

Voters have a duty to be informed as they face the general discourse around politics. I’ve heard one too many times ignorant arguments and counter-arguments for both presidential candidates and quite frankly, it’s frustrating as hell to watch or listen to- for ANY side (I can honestly say I haven’t heard any recently, thank Gawd). It’s not the fact there are arguments themselves (this, of course is completely inevitable), it’s the quality of the arguments I sometimes see that I find rather frustrating.

This being said, this is why there’s value in attempting to understand where the opposing side is coming from. Most of these differences come from a fundamental level of disagreement (the interpretation of the Constitution being a HUGE one, in my opinion*) and there are issues where some cannot understand why another side would think they way they do. I completely understand this, especially when it comes to social issues.

However, I could sit here all day making comments such as, “well, Hillary is going to jail and her pantsuits suck” or “Donald Trump is an idiot and his hair is ridiculous”. How do these counter arguments serve to do anything beside provide SNL with material for skits every once and awhile? To me, I find more value attempting to understand why each politician or political party may be doing or saying the things they do. When I grow frustrated by the political positions of either side (generalizing as a two-party system, here, sorry Green Party, Libertarians, and the Mickey Mouse Brigade), I find that attempting to understand how my personal experiences affect which party I align with more reminds me the opposite side as a whole isn’t inherently “wrong” or “evil”**. To an extent, it’s just a difference in opinion about how I’d like to live (or others to live), where I’d like my taxes to go, and which general direction I’d like the country to move to bring things on a very basic level. It’s too easy to sit here and b*tch about the stereotypes that stem from each party, yes. But how does this help us have a more intelligent and worthwhile debate? I’d argue it doesn’t help, and this only creates a more disillusioned general public. We don’t know what we don’t know only because we’re only scratching the surface level of why we’re disagreeing in the first place. Sometimes we’ll just have to agree to disagree, but the more we understand and can work together, the more we can potentially expect advances in bipartisanship.

I don’t want anyone under the impression that I think America is full of disenchanted, uneducated voters, because I don’t think that’s true. I’ve seen arguments I can respect, both on social media and other outlets, and I am relieved to know voters aren’t just voting against or for a candidate for their hair…or lack of. I think it’s important to take this next election for what it is: important, yes. Monumental, yes. This being said, get informed from reputable sources. Try to identify the author’s viewpoint. Read to understand, not to attack others.

Is the Huffington Post normally your news source of choice? Try reading Wall Street Journal’s articles about the same topic (even though it’s a b*tch to try and access their content online). Try not to anger at the difference in opinion. It’s uncomfortable to be uncomfortable, but it’s time we started putting more emphasis on understanding so we can more effectively debate with one another in a civilized fashion. I think there’s much progress to be made and this can help us help each other. Constantly forming and reforming your life philosophy is never a bad thing because at you’re moving forward. Just trust that at the heart of each major political party, it’s not unreasonable to believe each has the country’s best intentions in mind***.

Please take everything I say with a grain of salt, as you would any publication. Read knowing what someone else is saying is not “the truth” and is instead just more discourse being thrown out into the world. You, as a human, have the right to form your opinions which lead you to live your life the way you do in a way where you can maximize your happiness. If you disagree with me, that’s completely fine. Like with any political publication or show, you’re at complete liberty to do so, because once again, this is America, my fellow mavericks. Get out there and enjoy the fireworks!

FULL DISCLOSURE ON MY OWN POLITICAL OPINIONS:

Though I will sure as hell not be braiding your hair anytime soon, telling you who I support and why, to make this post more candid, I will reveal a couple things:

I come from a family divided on political opinions.

My experiences growing up and from going to a public university have led me to be more left of center for some issues, and right of center for others. I don’t identify completely with either major party, but instead like to think there are political candidates from either party I’d support at different times and for different situations.

To me, neither party offers the “end all, be all” solution to America’s problems at the present moment. This is like thinking one wrench will work for all screws. Sometimes it provides the perfect solution, other times, not so much.

I hope this helps you understand what I’ve written and why.

_________________________________________________________________

* There are several different ways to interpret the Constitution. To generalize at an extremely basic level, some people prefer a “loose” interpretation and others, a “strict” interpretation. How we interpret what we believe our Founding Fathers wanted for the United States of America is highly contested and each party differs in how they interpret this, hence why issues such as Obamacare are controversial.

** I realize this could be a completely generalized thing to say, especially given social factors which involve a lot of ethos. I’m not trying to downplay issues which can bring forth very passionate responses (religious rights, gay marriage, racism etc.) but would like to believe the best from each party on a fundamental level. For example, a white supremacist group leader may support a current Republican nominee, but does this make ALL conservatives racists? Hell no!

*** I obviously can’t speak to each candidate’s intentions, but I’d like to believe this for each party. I think of the circumstances upon which the two-party system was “born” and am not discouraged. Aside from corruption, unlawfulness, and other factors, I genuinely believe this system is the best for our country at this time as opposed to other systems.