Out with the Old, In with the New- 2016 Highlights!

The turn of the new year is a great opportunity to goal set, become more optimistic and to reflect back on the chapter that has been completed. 
I want to give a HUGE thank you to those who have been loyal viewers of my blog, and have continued to support my travels. I have often said that I am a jack of all trades, but a master of none. With that, I have traveled far and wide in search of passion– and in that I have become wanderlust. 
Below are the top 16 moments looking back to 2016: 
16.Portland, Maine- Going lobster catching with Bridget, Mark and Jamal was an eye opening experience. I have taken a lot for granted, but this was a humbling reminder that everything we have, or eat, involves work. Now, I look at all that I eat and have with appreciation and understanding.

15.Orlando, Florida- Hail to the Victors, Orange Bowl! Going to my first playoff game was a great way to start the New Year! Great weather, maize and blue with good ‘ole Katie K! Although I didn’t know it then, this trip was a good reminder that when one door closes another one opens and that all things happen for a reason. 

14.Sydney, Australia- This was time with my Filipino family. Before (November 2015) I hadn’t seen them in 10 years, and then to see them twice in two months reminded me the importance of family. On this trip I was also reunited with my aunt and cousin (Kathy & Victor) after 10+ years. My highlight of the trip was celebrating Kathy’s birthday at the top of Sydney tower. It overlooked the whole city, including the opera house, my first hint at seeing it. The opera house was one of those life goals that you look straight at and say “hell yeah I did it.”

13.Orlando, Florida- Wingardium Levosa! Never have I ever… been in a place, knowing that it was man made and fake, but felt so part of a fantasy world. A couple years back I went to Universal Studios, but in 2016 went back when they expanded the Harry Potter park, and boy was it worth it! My favorite part was walking through, yes wand in hand, through Gringotts Bank… joined with good conversation with a good friend, and the conversation in there led to the connection(s) I have today. Funny how things work out!   

12.Birmingham, Alabama- “Why would you choose Birmingham Alabama…” that’s literally what ever Uber driver asked Katie and I when being transported around the city. And, yes although there isn’t much to do, it is enriched in the history. Highlights on this trip was renting bikes and touring the city and park, visiting Sloss Furnaces, oddest thing I think I toured all year and seeing in person the 18th Street Baptist Church. 

11.Vegas, Nevada- Rekindled with some Komplique girls, celebrated the big 25 and tore up Sin City! I certainly value those who have made me grow through and appreciate life… and my modeling days with Olivia, Mary Lyndsay and Ryan. Will never forget getting dolled up and raging at Omnia Nightclub for the first time… and seeing Calvin Harris was a plus. Other memorable moments was: trying motchi ice cream for the first time, thanks Olivia!, watching Lyndsay with a frozen beverage on her neck bigger than her, seeing Mary/Ryan at the airport for the first time in a hella while and dancing in the bathroom getting ready with Mary. It’s the little things. Did realize this trip, though, I am a straight g-ma and like my sleep and getting up early.

10.Four Corners, Arizona- Who said you can’t be in two places at once… being in four, for that matter was a thrill. Coming up into the middle of no where, literally, the middle was memorable in that the US map was put into perspective and right at the intersection of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. This trip was when I rewound my center after heartbreak, and I remember having the mental connection of self worth, self love and hope. Where we are doesn’t need to be a physical spot, or in one place, but in where ever it is we want to be. 

9.New Orleans, Louisiana- A better version of Vegas… soulful music, casual wear, a city with history and ghost stories and where the party starts as soon as lunch ends. This was a bonding trip with two people I would say are closest to me, Jamal and Matt. In this trip I found the true meaning of friendship and the ability to enjoy what it is I love doing, with people who enjoy the same things too. $2 fireball shots, $20 alligator boat rides and a $10 sweater, OH MY! 

8.Gettysburg, Pennsylvania- Who would of thought that a girl who hated social studies throughout school, would have become a history guru senior year and would become obsessed through travel, present day. This trip was a trip down Americas history. My favorite part is when Jamal and I did a walking tour where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, and walked around the cemetery on land that I had read about in text books; meanwhile people in the city carry on. By the way, the hoagies are as good as you hear. 

7.Joplin, Missouri- I have always been fascinated by waterfalls. The thought of rushing water below and the view from afar has always left me speechless. Then an hour or so of searching for what to do in Missouri with a group I hadn’t traveled with before Mark, Jamal (I had) and Eric, found a waterfall to jump from. Now, how about that! This was my most fearful moment in 2016, and one that I will always keep dear to my heart, because it was a true estimate to the words that I live by “will I regret it a day from now, a month from now, a year or 5 from now? If so, then do it NOW.” And in replaying those words in my head I convinced myself jumping 40 feet below was a good idea… and in good news.. no broken bones! 

6.Sedona, Arizona- It wasn’t even the winding roads, the beautiful entrance into the small town that was certainly set up for tourism, but it was the moments with my mom as we went into artisan shops, enjoyed their food and looked out into the beautiful views of Sedona. For some reason taste sampling beef jerky, finding my “it” necklace and tasting the their thin crust pizza stuck to me as a highlight and a bonding moment and road trip I will share with my mom forever. My true best friend.

5.Gatlinburg, Tennessee- I arrived at the rented cabin at night. And in the morning I woke up to the most beautiful sight that I had ever seen in the United States. The deck looking out to Gatlinburg Tennessee was how I knew that “Smoky Mountains” were fitting. I had only seen views like this in the movies. What I loved just as much as the views was experiencing it through zip lining with my mom, Mark and Michael. 

4.Washington D.C- Not all good journeys are intensional, or planned. The trip to Tampa was an escape away from heartbreak, and I landed (connection flight) in Washington D.C. And, it lead to an overnight stay. At first, I was sad, depressed and confused, but the trip ended up being eye opening when meeting a stranger at the airport hotel bar who ended up being a monument tour partner for hours. It was in touring the district and looking up at the Lincoln memorial that I realized my problems are little in comparison to every day struggles others’ fight with every day. Time, timing is everything. 

3.Cains, Australia- The world we live in is beautiful, and although I do what I can to preserve what I can I wanted to make sure I saw one of the world’s wonders, the Great Barrier Reef. I was blessed enough to be joined by my Cousin Kristy and her husband Victor (who I hadn’t seen since I was 9 years!) and snorkeled. My favorite part was diving down toward the hammerhead fish that were nearly my size and feeling one with the fish! Generally, I am a scared of animals, in fear of how they react, but there was something serene in swimming alongside with them and being so welcomed into their home. 

2.Matamata, New Zealand- “My preeecciiouuusss!” Lord of the Rings baby! Many may not know I am a super book nerd, and planning the tangent trip from Sydney to New Zealand to see the movie set of Hobbiton was a dream! This trip far exceeded my expectations! Yes, hobbit houses were real, however, was nothing in them (those were computerized), but there had to of been 20+ hobbit houses! My favorite two memories of the 4 hour tour was (1) eating the Thanksgiving feast in THE Green Dragon, whattt! (2) ending the lantern night tour looking up to the sky to see the Milky Way, clear as ever. This motivated the hell out of me to do well for myself and be kind to others, because although small compared to our world, galaxy, I had to exist here for a reason and that I should not waste. Oh, and driving on the other side of the road was cake (bulging eyes).

1.Atlanta, Georgia- My first planned trip alone, no real plan until I arrived. I vividly remember arriving feeling in control, comfortable and calm. A couple memories that stand out was going to Kimball House, engaging with complete strangers and finding bars throughout the night by engaging with new people and just being open to the thought that my shy nature may limit my ability to experience things, or meet people, I wouldn’t otherwise… like Facetiming future hubs! Why this trip sticks out was my quiet time when first arriving to the Georgia Aquarium. Nearly empty, I was able to feel one with the animals, the tanks were HUGE which was nothing like I’ve seen in an aquarium before. This trip was the first time that I realized how much bigger the world is, shocker being that I’ve been lots of places huh! 
Places Visited in 2016: Georgia (Atlanta), Florida (Orange Bowl), Ohio (Cleveland), Nevada (Vegas), Alabama (Birmingham), Pennsylvania (Pittsburg), Washington D.C., Florida (Tampa), Arizona (Phoenix), Tennessee (Gatlinburg), Maine (Portland), Missouri (St. Louis & Kansas City), Australia (Sydney), New Zealand (North Island), Florida (Universal Studios), Illinois (Chicago), Michigan (Frankenmuth), Louisiana (New Orleans) & Maryland (Baltimore)

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