I Fell in Love with Austin, Texas on the Fourth of July

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Sometimes you visit a city, and you just know. You get that little voice in the back of your mind telling you “this is a place I could stay”, or “this is somewhere I belong”. Austin gave me those thoughts, and I just knew. But let me start from the beginning…

One day, in the middle of April, I was sitting at my desk trudging on through the work day, wishing I was somewhere else, when I had an epiphany; I should take a mini vacation. Then it came down to deciding where to go, simple enough, right? Wrong. Being in the center of the country means that my options are incredibly limited, and unlimited, all at the same time. I can take a plane heading anywhere in the country in a relatively small amount of time, and I can take plenty of road trips, but most of the “desirable” places to go in the scorching heat of the summer (i.e., the beach, for obvious reasons) are quite far away. Now I’m the queen of road trips, so per usual, I opted for that, then looked at the map and just chose. Just like that. Austin, Texas is it was. My family vacationed in Texas often when I was young, so the idea of venturing there on my own this year felt comfortable and inviting. So, I grabbed a friend, and off we went!

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Driving from Kansas City to Austin wasn’t the MOST pleasant of things, but I think making that whole drive down, through the construction, traffic, and holiday travelers made driving into the city that much sweeter. I was more excited than I ever would have expected to be when I realized we were about to *finally* make our way into town. I even pulled off the road, just to capture the moment for myself, and you as well, I suppose. For anyone familiar with the city, we stayed just off East Cesar Chavez, and it was a hipster’s paradise, let me tell you. I loved it.

We were only there for the weekend, so I didn’t get the chance to do many of the things I had hoped, but I still had an amazing time. Our first stop was visiting the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and explored for quite a while. I genuinely enjoyed learning so much about his presidency, the good and not so good parts alike. I’m someone that loves learning as much as possible about history, and this was something new for me to dig into. The library itself was quite astounding, walking up the steps towards it was a special experience all on its own, without factoring in the beautifully put together LBJ Museum that accompanied it.

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After we were satisfied with our exploration there, we decided to visit the capitol building. For any of you that may not know, or may be from a different country, in the US, we have our Nation’s Capitol in Washington D.C., but each individual state has it’s own Capitol as well. Austin happens to be the state Capitol of Texas, so the (absolutely beautiful) Texas State Capitol Building is here as well. We took quite a long walk around the grounds, and had a bit of a wander through the interior of the building as well. My favorite part, however, was simply sitting on a bench, near the front of the building, all by my lonesome. Having a tea and taking it all in, that’s what I do best.

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From there, we simply explored. For the next two days, I ate more Tex-Mex than anyone should ever eat, I grew to feel like I was a part of a new place and a new city. I went grocery shopping, I laid by the river and read a book, I chatted with strangers in a bar; I completely immersed myself if the daily life of this city, and I think thats’s what made this trip so special for me. It felt like I was visiting a home away from home, and I was genuinely sad when it came to an end.

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I may have single handedly eaten all of the avocados in Austin, and I’m not even sure I’m exaggerating.

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One of my favorite moments was sitting by the river watching the sun go down around the city. I think this will be a memory I keep close for a long time.

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One of the things I admired most about Austin was the graffiti, which might sound strange to some people. But Austin is filled with beautiful, inspiring, and interesting graffiti. The city just seems like an even more special place after seeing how many people have made their mark here in such a positive way.

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I spent a surprising amount of time in this backyard whilst I was there. The house I rented had a beautiful backyard with a comfy seating area to relax in. I definitely made use of it, particularly the incredibly comfy lounge chairs, they were perfect for reading and relaxing. These popsicles were absolutely scrumptious by the way, check out GoodPop if you’re able to get your hands on them. They’re all natural, and are honestly the most delicious frozen fruit pops I’ve ever had. I’m feeling serious withdrawal symptoms at the moment.

The final day, before we had to wake up and make our way home, was the Fourth of July. Celebrating Independence Day in Texas is not something new for me, I’ve done it a few times in my life with my family, but this was a whole new experience for me. We went fairly early in the afternoon to secure a seat near the water to watch the fireworks over the city. I expected that there would be a lot of people, and Austin didn’t disappoint me there, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I would love getting to know all the people that happened to be sitting around me. I arrived with one friend, and left with dozens, and it made me so much more in love with the city, and so much more pleased with the trip itself.

I had a few drinks, set off a few sparklers, and chatted with more people than I have in the past month, all in one night. The fireworks were stunning, the atmosphere was incredible, and it was the perfect ending to a much needed get away.

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I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx

12 Autumnal Goals

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Earlier this year, I did a post entitled “20 Summer Goals” where I listed, you guessed it, 20 goals that I wanted to complete over the summer. I didn’t make it through all the goals, but I made it through some of them, and I honestly had a really good time doing it. Making that list gave me something to look forward to over the summer that helped me look past the burning heat and the long days. After the summer, I wasn’t planning to make any more goals for myself or anything like that, but this morning I felt really inspired to do it. I think it may just become a habit for me, to give myself inspiration to get out and do things throughout each part of the year rather than getting stuck in a rut and letting the year pass me by without taking advantage of all of it. All of the photos throughout this post were taken in or around Grand Marais, Minnesota. Grand Marais is my favorite place to be in the Autumn. Just looking at these pictures brings back so many wonderful memories that I’ve made there over the years, and it felt quite fitting to put a few of them in this post filled with inspiration for myself.
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1. Go to a pumpkin patch.

2. Go apple picking.

3. Bake something new.

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4. Carve pumpkins.

5. Go on a walk/hike in 3 new places.

6. Watch 5 scary movies.

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7. Read 6 new books, in at least 3 different genres.

8. Go on an adventure.

9. Work on more photography.

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10. Write at least 1 blog post each week, if not more.

11. Put myself out there more, let more people in.

12. Explore the city, and document it.

As you can see, some of these goals are ones that I can (and hopefully will!) blog, and others aren’t, but the ones that are blogable, are the ones I’m most excited about. Some of these goals are the most standard of things. Things that people say they want to do every time Fall rolls around. Cliches. But that fact aside, they are all things that I haven’t done since I was a little kid, and I really want to try and do them again. I want to make memories, because when it comes down to it, memories are all that matter. And if there ever comes a time when I can’t remember these things anymore, I like to think I’ll be able to come back to this blog, and relive these moments.

So here is me, wishing myself good luck in completing each one of these goals. I hope you will enjoy sharing these moments with me, and if you yourself decide to create your own goals this Fall, please let me know or tag me in them so I can follow along with you! I hope it can give you inspiration and help you create memories of your own.

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx

30 Day Writing Challenge | Day 3

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Day 3: What are your top three pet peeves?

1. When someone always finds something to complain about, no matter what the situation. (The irony of putting this in this post is not lost on me, I can assure you.)
2. When people see the film adaptation of a book without reading the book first, or even worse, don’t know it was a book in the first place.
3. When people make that scratchy sound with metal forks on their teeth.

Those three things are in no particular order really, and if I’m honest, there are other things that annoy me more than these from time to time, but I had to write down three, so here they are! I found it a bit funny how many things came to mind when I read this question. I never knew that there were so many little things that trigger angry responses from me, I should probably work on that, but for now, I’m just going to write a post where I complain about these insignificant things as if they were real problems, because I have been prompted to do so.

You know those people, the ones that have a tendency to chronically complain about everything in life, and seem to always blame the world when things go wrong in their lives and never themselves. There are so many things about this that bugs me, the biggest being the fact that most of the time, the things that happen in our lives happen because of the choices we make and the things that we do. Sure, there are most definitely things that happen in life that are completely uncontrollable, but those aren’t the things that these people usually complain about. I’ve not found the best response yet to deal with people that complain all the time, at this point, I just try to build them up and boost their confidence if I can, to maybe try and help them stop complaining a bit. But I can assure you, if you are someone that complains often about anything and everything anytime something doesn’t go your way, there is a huge likelihood that we won’t be very good friends.

I absolutely hate it when people see a film adaptation of a book without reading the book. It’s just one of those things that drives me crazy. I don’t know why, maybe its a conditioned response, or maybe its just the bookworm in me hoping to remind the world that the book is *almost* ALWAYS better than the film. I came across the unthinkable recently; my 11 year old niece’s friend didn’t know that Harry Potter was a book series and not just a series of films. My little heart almost shattered. The book series that shaped my whole childhood, my whole imagination and mind, was simply reduced to a series of films and not the words that flew off the pages creating vivid images in my mind. I do hope I never encounter this sort of nonsense again, but who knows, the world is full of people that are forgetting the importance of the written word.

Lastly, when people make that awful scratchy sound with forks on their teeth when they’re eating, the one that rivals nails on a chalkboard, yeah, you know the one. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It makes my face go into this scrunched up mess of pain and annoyance. It is horrendous. Please, make it stop. PLEASE. If we’re sitting at a table eating together, don’t do what my brothers did all my life and purposefully make that horrible noise just to drive me mildly insane. That’s just cruel.

Goodness, after all that complaining and whining, I’m starting to annoy myself. Maybe writing about pet peeves is a new pet peeve of mine. Whatever the case, for better or for worse, I have disclosed the things that annoy me most to all of you, and I trust you will use them wisely. I also trust that you will find the humor in this little post, and wont take it too seriously. Speaking of seriously, the world would seriously be a less infuriating place if we could all just put these things to an end.

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx

Take Me Away | Krabi

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Next up, Krabi, Thailand. This is one of many areas in Thailand worth visiting in my opinion. As a place full of culture and customs far different from what I’m used to, it has always been high on my list, and the image above is just a taste of the beauty you will experience while there. Located in Southern Thailand, visiting the town of Krabi gives you the opportunity to see limestone cliffs, stunning and lush jungle areas, little islands floating off the shore in the Andaman Sea, and infinitely more. Prepare for the heat, pack your hiking boots and swimwear, and get ready to go on the adventure of a life time. I for one, can’t wait till the day I get the chance to jump on a plane with my backpack and my camera, ready to explore the beauty and life in Krabi.

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I hope this first place on my list captures your attention and helps to show you the sheer serene beauty that Thailand has to offer. Just imagine yourself here, on Railay Beach,  listening to the people and children playing in the water, while the hot Thailand sun beats down on you. Picture the sun slowly setting, the sound of the waves rolling onto the shore; can’t you see yourself laying on the beach, watching the sun setting steadily, with the islands and the cliff sides as the most amazing of frames? I’ve been able to picture myself in this scenario for the longest time, and am more than prepared for the day that I get to experience it for myself. Railay Beach is only accessible by boat, due to the towering cliff sides that surround it, but once you’re there, you will never have a moment of boredom. Aside from being a beach bum, you can always swim, go rock climbing, or even just go for a walk to explore the island. If the photos above haven’t convinced you to put Krabi on your list, I’m not sure what will.

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Next on my list is actually a mixture of two things; food and people. Thailand has a diverse array of both that I want to learn about and understand. I feel like exploring the local markets is one way to do both. Immersing yourself into the life of the place you are going is key when you truly want to learn about it. There’s only so much you can get from reading a book about something; to truly understand it, you must live it. My goal with travel is and always has been to learn about and understand the places that I am going. The food and the people are some of the most important things you can learn about in a country. I want to sit down, and have a conversation with someone. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find someone to translate for me, or maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to learn enough Thai to partake in a conversation on my own. One thing I am sure I can learn about is the food. There are endless markets and cooking classes available for people visiting Krabi, and Thailand in general. You’ll have the chance to learn how to make traditional Thai dishes, and you may even get the chance to learn about the people of Thailand in the process.

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Next up, is another spot of pure beauty, the Phi Phi Islands. This spot is most definitely a tourist destination, but it’s worth it. It takes approximately an hour by speed boat to arrive here, and there are numerous Thai Island tours that you can take to see the stunning views here, but I strongly suggest that you don’t pass it up. Most Phi Phi Island trips, at least the ones I would personally be interested in, are snorkeling trips. This allows you to jump into the ocean and explore what lies beneath along with the amazing Island tours and views that you will have. You can have the chance to explore places like Bamboo Island, Hin Klang, Maya Bay, Lohsamah Bay, Phi Phi Don, Hiking Cave (stunning, trust me), and Monkey Bay, just to name a few.

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This next one isn’t for the faint of heart. Wat Tahm Seua, or Tiger Cave Temple, is a Buddhist Temple that holds an intricate bunch of natural caves and an overgrown jungle at the top. It is a beautiful place, and if you can make it there, is a very spiritual and soulful place to experience. I say “if you can make it there” because to do so, requires you to climb 1,237 steep stairs of varying sizes and shapes up a mountain side in most likely the hottest and most humid weather you will ever experience. Don’t let that deter you, I know I won’t! You can always climb some stairs, and take a break. Take a few minutes to take in the views, to soak in your surroundings. Watch the monkeys wandering around you, hoping for some food from the various tourists that arrive each day (don’t get too close to them of course, they are still wild animals after all). One thing I can’t stress enough is don’t show up in a beach cover-up and flip flops and expect things to go smoothly, because they most assuredly will not. Bring plenty of water, a towel for the buckets of sweat that will come from places you didn’t even know could sweat, and your most comfortable and supportive pair of tennis shoes (or trainers, if that’s what they’re referred to as where you are from). It is said that a Buddhist monk by the name of Jumnean Seelasettho wanted to meditate in the caves on the mountain, and discovered tigers roaming the various twists and turns that are inside them, hence the name “Tiger Cave”, and it is well known for the tiger paw prints throughout the caves for you to see as you explore. If you choose to make the trek, as I surely will, you will be rewarded with some of the most amazing views, the chance to explore and view a Buddhist temple and memorial, see incredible 1,000 year old trees, and various Buddhist statues and shrines. I hope I will have the will power and the courage to make this daunting trip when I arrive in Krabi someday.

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There is so much more in Krabi that I want to see and experience; Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, Ao Thalane, Amari Vogue, the Emerald Pool, go kayaking and scuba diving, simply exploring the area with no destination in mind, and so much more. These “take me away” posts mean so much more to me than you may realize. They help me to visualize what I am working for, to put my dreams and goals into words and images, and they allow me to be my own inspiration. Too often I let myself be filled with self doubt and negative thoughts, but these posts help me find that positivity again, and help give me the right attitude towards life. If you have the wrong attitude in life, nothing will be able to help you achieve your dreams and goals. You have to stay inspired, stay determined, and stay motivated to continue on your journey in life, and these posts are helping me do that, I only hope they can do the same for a few of you.

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx