I ran my last half marathon three years ago, almost exactly. It was August. It was hot. It was humid. The course was flat, at least, but I was miserable. I hit my goal, inching across the finish line with absolutely nothing else to give in just under two hours. But I hated almost every minute of that race. I swore I’d never run another summer half again.[...]
The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site is only about a mile and a half from my house. It’s my most local National Park. Still, it took me more than a decade of living in Richmond, Virginia, before my first visit, in 2015. I went again this past weekend, with out of town friends.
Before my first visit, I’d seen the name Maggie L. Walker around town. I knew the very basic of basics. I knew she was the first African American woman to charter a bank, that there’s a school named after her in Richmond and that her home is a National Park unit.[...]
I’m clumsy. I trip over everything, even things that aren’t there. My toes are often stubbed. My ankles are weak and have the tendency to roll in a way that looks (but mostly isn’t) painful. I whack my head on things a lot, too. On my kitchen cabinets, on my car door, on my dining table.[...]
Of course it was the hottest day of the year, over 100°F, but I was not deterred. Newly single and determined in my National Parks pursuit, I scampered east, to Fort Monroe National Monument. I slathered on a thick coat of sunscreen that I immediately started sweating off, grabbed a bottle of water I’d later forget in the gift shop, threw my camera around my neck and I set off.[...]
In a knife fight against Cinderella, I would win. Ditto for Sleeping Beauty and all those other fairy tale bitches. I’m meaner than all of them put together, to be sure. Plus, they’ve pissed me off. I’m 33 and alone and maybe they’re partly to blame.
See, it’s impossible to be a little girl and not grow up with the fairy tale. It’s just as impossible to not want that fairy tale, to not grow up dreaming of it, to not be disappointed when, yet again, you don’t get your happily ever after.[...]
I always google the National Park units I visit before I actually visit them. I don’t need a ton of information, usually, just some basic history and a rough idea of what it is that makes the park special. When I did this for Cabrillo National Monument, in San Diego, the internet was all, TIDE POOLING, and I was all, what the fuck is tide pooling?[...]
Kuwait is not a place I’d pick to visit. There isn’t a huge tourist industry there and attractions-wise, there’s little to see. Plus, it’s hot. REALLY FUCKING HOT. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not always a dry heat. Kuwait is on the Persian Gulf and there are days when the temperatures rise to 120°F (48°C) with humidity.[...]
We spent more days in Rome than any other city we visited on our Italian vacation. Three full days, four nights, plus half days on the way in and out. We packed our first two days in Rome with the big deals - the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Forum, a bunch of basilicas - so our last day was open. We wanted to get off the tourist track a little bit, so we embarked on a Roman walking tour, loosely based on a walk recommended by Fodor's. [...]
I’m new here, to this space, and I’m still figuring out what I want it to feel like. Mostly, I want to write about travel adventures and my National Park experiences, partly because I want to remember them and also because I want to share them with anyone who might find them useful. But I’m also a person with a whole bunch of feelings and it just wouldn’t be my space if I didn’t take some time to dump my feelings out on the internet every now and then.[...]
I went to San Francisco back in February, for the start of my post-deployment West Coast adventure that also included San Diego and Portland. It was my third time in San Francisco, and I split the time doing ALL THE TOURIST THINGS since my travel partner had never been, and scampering through a few local haunts with my San Francisco-dwelling friend.[...]
Our 26th president, one Theodore Roosevelt, was a legit badass. He was just 42 when he took office, following the assassination of President McKinley, which makes him the youngest president we’ve ever had. After his death, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as commander of the Rough Riders at the Battle of San Juan Hill. His face is carved into Mount Rushmore next to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.[...]
Few things make me feel more legit as a world wanderer than showing up in a new city and taking public transit. Buses or metros or ferries or what the shit else, when I travel to new cities or countries, I want in on the public modes of transportation.
And that’s kind of how it started in Verona. We took the train in from Milan, stowed our luggage at the train station, bought some bus tickets and then scampered around in some circles trying to find the right bus, or rather, one of the right buses, got on the bus, validated our tickets and 10 or so minutes later we were standing in front of the Verona Arena.[...]