An Alabama Adventure

I recently returned home from visiting my best friend Allanah in Alabama, a state I had not previously visited.

Highlights from the two weeks I spent there include:

  1. Seeing Allanah & her family (obviously)

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    sunset at Mobile Bay

  2. Attending the Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores
  3. Going to Pensacola Beach
  4. Weekend in New Orleans
  5. Coffee, acai bowls & art

 

Reflections on Austin

Lorde drowns out the brutal ride from Texas to Kansas as I gaze at a dreary Oklahoma sky from the window of a cold school van, reflecting on our trip.
I was offered the opportunity to attend the National College Media Convention in Austin, Texas. After going to a similar conference each year of high school, I was excited for the chance to attend at the college level.

Combining two of my passions, travel and journalism, I obviously did not pass up the experience. I am always thankful for the opportunity to grow and learn.

The trip taught me a number of things.

First, Austin is weird. I’m not sure that it is exactly my taste, but I loved the experience. I believe in finding the positives in every situation, and being able to pull favorite aspects from every place I visit. One thing I loved about downtown Austin was the murals on the sides of buildings.
Second, journalism is incredible. Out of all of the conventions I have been to, I think this one really helped reassure me of my love for journalism. I am passionate about telling people’s stories, and hope to never stop growing in my ability to do so.

Third, I am so thankful for connections I have made with other people, who also happen to be journalists. During the trip I ran into (almost literally) my high school yearbook adviser of three years, Mr. Glasscock. I was also able to meet up with my friend, Austin Tedrow, who is currently attending Cowley Community College. In addition, I had the best roomie ever: Jaycie Wunder. She is one of the greatest people I have met during college. I am happy to know her, and happy to have held her sweaty hand while she got a tattoo of a cat one night on 6th street.

 

 

Daydreaming and Reminsicing

Two weeks ago I arrived back at the Wichita airport after the trip that I have been daydreaming about ever since. I think that I would have been ready to turn around and go back almost immediately. It’s crazy to me how things change-I remember how scared I was four years ago before a five day journalism trip to Minneapolis. High school freshman Emily would have been absolutely mortified going on a 19 day trip to a different continent. College freshman Emily, however, would do it again in a heartbeat.

Things I learned in the UK:

  • It is important to try new things
  • When asked if you want to go dry tobogganing down a mountain (and you have no idea what to expect) the answer is yes
  • There is no bad time for a latte
  • Gin and tonics are disgusting
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream is not *instert heart eye emoji here*
  • Sometimes when someone asks for a kiss on the cheek, they will turn and kiss you on the mouth at the last second: be prepared
  • If you ever get locked in a very small bathroom, don’t panic-eventually someone will hear you knocking and inform you that you’re not the only person who has gotten stuck (maybe they should look into that?)
  • Zara is a wonderful store
  • Eating fresh strawberries as you pick them from a field with a beautiful view of the Welsh countryside is a wonderful feeling
  • If you feel like spreading your arms and spinning around, do it-the feeling of freedom is 100% worth it

I want to thank everyone who supported me on my journey, at home and in the UK. A special thank you to Greg Reed for helping me make this trip a reality. To Terri Reed for supporting me from the very beginning. To my Grandma who commenting on every single one of my blog posts. To the Taylor family who took me in and made me feel like a part of their family. To everyone I met in the UK who also made me feel at home. To everyone who read my blog posts and supported me-hearing people say they read my posts means the world to me. Thank you.

As St. Augustine said “The world is a book and those do not travel read only one page.” I am filled with desire to explore the world. There are so many places I want to visit. I yearn to tell people’s stories, learn other cultures and eat at cafes and coffee shops all across the globe. I am wanderlust. And this was just the beginning.

  

The Characters

I viewed everyone I met as a character in my own story. Here are a few of the main people who helped make the story come to life:

•The Taylor family: Allanah’s wonderful family who I love as my own and who so kindly gave me the opportunity to join them on this trip. Anna-Lan’s mum who is one of the classiest yet funny people I have ever met. Who despises having pictures taken of her but is effortlessly beautiful and has impeccable fashion sense. Daryl-her dad who looks like he means business but is always cracking jokes and has witty comebacks. Pierce-her 14 year old brother who eats like a 14 year old boy and is annoyingly the size of my pinky finger. Also the one who paid Quinn to kiss me on the cheek and kicked me in the face with a soccer ball. Quinn-her curly haired 10 year old brother who loves soccer, is a lovely singer and has hilarious pickup lines. And then obviously there is the infamous Allanah, my best friend and sidekick. She is stylish, witty and one of those people who doesn’t realize how beautiful they are. I am so thankful to have her in my life.

•The Williams family: Jane-Allanah’s aunty (Anna’s sister) who is one of the most adorable people I have ever met. Nigel-Jane’s husband who loves ice cream and is very nice. Lucy-Lan’s gorgeous cousin who let us stay in her room and took us out a number of times. She is a lover of lipstick and is so funny and sweet. Leigton-Lucy’s brother who is kindhearted and always smiling (except when attacked by seagulls.)

•Paula & Royston: Allanah’s grandparents who remind me much of my own. They are kind, funny and love to chat. Paula makes a mean cup of coffee and is informative. Royston loves his garden. He also refers to me as “our Em” which is adorable and very Welsh.

The {Home} Stretch

Day 19:

4:45 am (BST) – my alarm goes off

5:40 am – goodbye hugs

6:45 am – arrival at Manchester airport

After checking in and going through security I still had nearly four hours to kill in terminal two. I had breakfast at Café Nero while reading Harry Potter. Then I spent the last of my pounds on Digestives (cookies that have been one of my favorite discoveries in the UK) (yes I bought more).

10:55 am – departure

I had a whole row to myself (!!!) and 7.5 hours and 4 movies later I arrived at Washington Dulles airport. After making it through customs and security (where I almost lost my beloved gold Betsey Johnson watch) I had never been so happy to see overpriced American souvenirs.

At that point my body clock was confused.

My flight that was scheduled for takeoff at 5:30 pm ET was delayed for three hours. First the plane was late arriving, then there was a storm, then a large portion of the plane, myself included, had to get off in order to replace connecting flights we were missing in Chicago. Finally, we took off and I was able to have a laugh with the redhead sitting next to me when I asked for a ginger ale.

After arriving in Chicago, I was able to quickly board my new 10:30 pm (central time) flight. I got to Wichita at 12:30 am.

My luggage still isn’t here and I am completely jet lagged after an over 24 hour travel day through 3 different time zones … but I am home.

    

Packing is Even Harder When You Don’t Want to Leave 

I woke up sad this morning knowing today was my last full day in the UK. My last day in Wales-the land of bright green grass and cloudy blue skies. Where:

• pubs and coffee shops are on every corner

•the backroads consist of wildflowers and beautiful meadows of cows and sheep

•people still hang their clothes on the line to dry

•the words lovely, brilliant and lad are used frequently

•fries are called chips and chips are called crisps

•they greet each other by saying “you okay?” or “you alright?”

•there is never a bad time for coffee or tea.

•an adventure is always waiting to be had and there are always new things to try

•it is breakfast, dinner and tea rather than breakfast lunch and dinner

•there are a number of opposites (such as driving on the right sight of the road with the steering wheel on the right side of the car) but it still feels like home

Day 17

Morning: Saying farewells to members of the Taylor family and to England. Hugging the Robinsons goodbye was particularly sad-they are such lovely people.

Afternoon: Driving back to Wrexham, Wales-roughly a four hour trip. Talking, telling stories, drinking coffee and listening to music.

Evening: Catching up with Anna’s family (who we’ve been staying with in Wrexham). Eating dinner and celebrating the boys’ upcoming birthdays. After, Allanah and I walked to The Acton, the pub down the road, where we had delicious Bailey’s Irish Cream Lattes.

Currently: Watching 90210, our nightly ritual. Sad that in a couple of short days I’ll have to do it without my best friend.

PS: Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads I know. Especially to my dad, grandpa and grandad. I hope you all had a great day today. I love you. xo


Moments in Time 

Moments. Life is made up of moments, big and small, all strung together. Sometimes the ones that mean the most are the ones I am too busy living in to fully think about. Sometimes its the ones I stop and acknowledge-wishing there was a way to stay in forever or perfectly capture on camera.

Today’s little moments were:

1. Walking around St. Albans with Becky and Allanah. Seeing the streets set up with vendors selling beautiful flowers and pastries. Eating a delicious breakfast at Pret.

2. Sitting barefoot in a beautiful backyard for a Taylor family garden party in Weybridge. Nice evening weather after a rainy afternoon. Watching people play cricket while drinking hot coffee and listing to Ed Sheeran.

Too Much Time in London is Not Enough

London day 3: our final day in the city. Allanah and I spent a chilly morning walking through St. James park, making our way to Buckingham Palace. We stopped for coffee and crumpets to take with us to watch the changing of the guards at 11:30 (Grandma I thought of you!!). Much of the day was spent on foot, as we walked to Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. We discovered Hatchard’s Book Shop, London’s oldest bookstore which opened in 1757. After, we ate lunch at Joe and the Juice where I had the best sandwich and juice-I didn’t want it to end. In the late afternoon we said our goodbyes to London and boarded the train to travel back to St. Albans. We made the most of our three days in the city, seeing as much as possible, but it amazes me how much there still is to experience. I am sad not knowing when I’ll be reunited with London but confident that I will be. A lovely evening was spent having Indian food and shandys with the Robinsons, some of the sweetest and most welcoming people I have ever met. xx


      

London Day 2 

My second day in London began with the best brunch at La Pain Quotidian: iced latte, fruit and granola yogurt parfait and an organic quinoa scone. The afternoon was spent on the top of a double decker tour bus which was our transportation throughout the afternoon, giving us a nice view of the city and its monuments. We eventually stopped at Harrods department store for refreshments. I can only imagine the amount of time and money one could spend there. I think I would like to move in. Everything about it was amazing-the designer clothes, restaurants, artwork, bookstore, gift shop…I could go on and on. I could rave about the room solely dedicated to coffee, chocolate and tea.

Now, (with a sunburn from neglecting to wear sunscreen and blisters from wearing new shoes) I am sleepily watching my favorite movie; The Devil Wears Prada and awaiting tomorrow’s adventures.