Music City U.S.A.

Part of the reason Rob hired me was to help him differentiate between work and play, so he says. His work ethic is admirable and I hope one day to have the same ambition and motivation to sit for 16 hours at a time and grind out an edit or finish a project in one go. But finding a middle ground between work and fun is just as important as meeting deadlines and producing content.

We have been balancing the two quite well between hiking through state parks and trying to immerse ourselves in the truest parts of each state we visit. The part of New York we stayed in, for example, is well-known for it’s wine trails. Naturally, we had to visit a winery (that was actually four wineries in one) and try their unique flavors. And I may have gotten a bit drunk by the end of the whole thing. Check that out. 

Growing up horseback riding and being as obsessed with animals as I am, we had to go riding in Kentucky. It wasn’t even a question. The leaves were changing, the weather was beautiful and I hadn’t been on a horse in at least two months.

Tennessee meant Nashville.

I’ve dreamt of going to Nashville since I discovered what the city was all about. I grew up listening to country music with my dad in the backseat of the jeep, flying down back roads on crisp, summer days. Memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. He introduced me to my love for music in many ways and although I can’t sing, I’ll always belt out those tunes in the car.

Of course, being the naïve five-year-old that I was, I assumed every single country music star lived in Nashville. I pictured flat landscapes, Taylor Swift strumming her guitar on the sidewalks, backlit bars on every single street corner, cowboy boots and ass-less chaps. Any stereotypical scene from an old Western film; you name it, I pictured it.

And I wanted to see it.

I always thought it would be with my mom or dad, never while traveling cross-country living in an RV full-time with a stranger. I keep using that line but realistically, Rob is anything but a stranger at this point and truthfully, I don’t think I would want to travel the country with anyone else doing anything different than what I am doing right now. (Right now I’m on an airplane flying to Chicago to catch my connecting flight to Boston for Thanksgiving – but you get the idea).

Nashville was absolutely nothing like I expected. We got to the city and instead of seeing those Western bars and saloons I had pictured, we were greeted by towering skyscrapers. Although, there were a lot of people walking around in cowboy hats and cowboy boots. No ass-less chaps, though. You can understand my disappointment, I’m sure.

Our first stop of the day was at the Country Music Hall of Fame which was also nothing like I had expected. Three floors full of names and pictures of musicians I had never heard of who helped shape what country music is today. They’d probably roll over in their graves if they heard the pop-style, modernized country that we’re listening to nowadays.

Our second stop was a little more exhilarating. Being the terrible influence that I am, Rob and I went to get tattoos. His first and my eighth (sorry Mom). Rob has this weird thing where if you explain things in too much scientific detail, he gets really nauseous so he wouldn’t let me explain the process of tattooing beforehand. He kind of went in blind but thankfully, my tattoo artist started before his so he was able to watch my reaction and get used to the sounds of the instruments and sights of the needles.

To end our five/six hours in the city, we went out on the strip. I don’t actually know what you call it but that’s what they would call it in Vegas and that’s exactly what it felt like.

Nashvegas.

We came to a traffic light on Broadway, which is the main street in downtown Nashville, and to our left and right as far as the eye could see, there were lit up signs for bars with recognizable names like Margaritaville and Jason Aldean’s. We were hesitant to settle on the first bar we stumbled across but excited to see the nightlife of the city since neither of us have gone out in a while. About two and a half months for me and roughly the same for Rob, that I know of.

It felt like there was so much to see and even if we spent the whole night there, we wouldn’t have seen it all.

Every single bar had live music streaming from it’s windows from rock, to country to pop. We stopped at the second or third bar we found and ended up having such a fun night. The band was incredible, sang newer country music and involved the crowd throughout their entire performance. They played classic songs as well as old classics and everyone was dancing around the stage and buying the band shots.

They also had this amazing fiddler player. I have heard people play the fiddle before but never the way she did. The Devil Went Down to Georgia is one of the most iconic songs known for its fiddling and she played it brilliantly. If we could have watched her play all night, we probably would have stayed and listened to her until they kicked us out. I had the chills the whole time she was on stage.

We drove back late but the exhaustion was well worth it for the night we had. I really hope to get back one day for a long weekend or something similar. Probably will end up having my bachelorette party there if I ever get married. Rob will definitely be invited to that girls night.

That’s the most amazing thing about this little journey – crossing off cities and statues of places I’ve longed to see since I learned there was more to the world than Cape Cod. I imagine it was like finding out the world wasn’t flat.

So much to explore, so much to do and see and I know there are more little adventures and places waiting for me to find them and fall in love with them.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish…

Being from a small, coastal town in Massachusetts, living more than five minutes from the ocean felt like a nightmare to me. But, as I travel across the country in a toy hauler, I have noticed that most states are landlocked. Twenty-seven to be exact. Obvious to most but something I was oblivious to.

That’s 126, 352, 125 million people that potentially may never see the ocean in their lifetime. Thirty-nine percent of the United States’ population. How did I figure that out, you’re probably wondering. I did the math because I was curious, and I read somewhere that people like statistics when they’re reading lengthy articles.

Landlocked_US_States.png

Why does this matter? Because I will be spending the next four years traveling within the oceans’ borders of the country with no ocean in sight, (something I never dreamed of doing), except on special occasions.

And Louisiana was one of these occasions.

Arriving at Pointe Aux Chene, I could smell the murky, salt marsh before I stepped out of the car. The temperature was up around the 80’s, humidity was in full force and I was so excited to feel the sun on my face and breathe in that beautiful salty air for a few days.

I probably said it a million times while we were paddling through the marsh, but it reminded me so much of home. Cape Cod is filled with marshy areas and inlets. Two different states, two different oceans (I don’t know if you’d consider the Gulf of Mexico an ocean but, you get the point), hundreds of miles between the two yet, I felt more at home here than I have in any other state.

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For my birthday, my mom got me a sterling-silver bracelet that says “Salty Girl” on it to help me remember where I come from. Salt runs through my veins and coming back to it reminded me why I never wanted to leave in the first place. So obviously, I was more eager than ever to get my butt on the water.

Fishing for reds is different than any other type of fishing I’ve done. There’s two ways to do it; sight casting or just blindly casting and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, the water was murky and we weren’t able to sight cast, which is when you very quietly stand-up paddle through the marsh looking for tailing reds or loud splashes. They are very skittish fish and get spooked easily, therefore, fishing for them requires technique and stealth (both of which I don’t really have yet).

If you’re just blindly casting, like we were, casting towards the edge of the grass or little nooks and skinny canals in the marsh is your best bet.

Still, there were so many different occasions when I would kayak right over a red without seeing it and it would swirl in the mud less than a foot below me and shoot into the grass. Or, I would see it tailing, get excited and over cast or under cast, spooking the fish and just getting frustrated with myself in the process.

That’s the thing about fishing for reds. You have to be quiet but you’re so full of excitement and adrenaline, it’s hard to land your cast perfectly. At least for me, but even the most experienced fisherman have this problem as well.

The only way to get out into the marsh for us was to be towed by the skiff that our photographer (Brooks Beatty) and videographer (Jameson Redding) were using to film us during the day. We used straps to tie ourselves to one another and got a lot of looks while we were being pulled single file out to the fishing grounds.

Once we got there, we split up and I practiced using the power pole to hold me in place while standing and casting. On my fifth cast, I landed one of the first fish of the day. A feisty, beautiful, slot Red Fish that I yanked out of a weeded patch in front of me. Slot means it’s a keeper between 16 and 26 inches.

redfish1

Photography Credit: Robert Field

In my post about Kentucky, I had mentioned how rewarded I felt after persisting all day and finally catching that little largemouth. This feeling was pretty damn close to that. I have never fished for reds before and I was fishing with very experienced men. Being a woman in this industry, I find myself feeling pressured quite often to perform well and keep up with the guys. In this moment, landing a fish so early in the day before most everyone else, I felt exhilarated and really proud of myself.

I wake up every morning chasing that feeling. Whether that be writing a killer blog post that people can relate to, editing a really difficult portion of an episode, hitting a crazy PR in the gym or catching a new species or new personal best, I am excited to see what every day brings. Because it’s always something new and challenging with this lifestyle.

I don’t know what I did to deserve this amazing life of mine but I have such a great appreciation for every moment of the day. I try to live as presently as I can and this is advice I would give to anyone. Stay present, stay in the moment because things can change in the blink of an eye, when you least expect it.

It’s hard for me to preach my beliefs because many of you won’t understand. “It’s harder said than done” is something I hear often when people ask me how I made this choice to do what I do. After I tell them and urge them to follow their dreams too, that is the most common response I get.

And it’s true — but everything is easier said than done. Fear is the biggest thing that holds us back as humans. Fear of commitment, fear of change, fear of failure, fear of being uncomfortable.

But let me tell you something, if you are fearful of chasing your true desires and changing your life to suit your happiness, you won’t ever grow. You will remain in the same unhappy relationship, the same dreaded 9 – 5 job, the same boring town, because it’s what you’re comfortable with. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to reshape your life.

This is just my opinion but at 23-years-old, to have left my small hometown and jumped on the road with a man I barely know (who has now become one of my greatest friends), all to pursue my dreams. I can tell you, it was damn worth it.

 

Bluegrass State

These last couple of weeks, I’ve felt a whirlwind of emotions. A dab of homesickness, a splash of not feeling good enough, a sprinkle of self-doubt, a twinge of disappointment. Basically, the recipe for a quitter.

West Virginia left me feeling really pressured to just do better, be better. I left feeling like maybe this lifestyle isn’t meant for me after all. Even though I really want it to be. I considered even looking for other journalism jobs online and giving that 9-5 desk job a try after all.

A lot of that pressure stemmed from not being able to hook a fish in West Virginia, especially after watching everyone around me catch fish. It also came from feeling like I was a burden to Rob. Every time I try something new or have a problem, he has to take time away from fishing/editing to guide me or help me. I found myself feeling really out of place and unable to accept my small failures as what they were.

I needed Kentucky to be different.

Our first (and only) day of fishing was a hard one. Chase, our guide for the day, had recommended Elkhorn Creek as a great spot to float and catch Smallmouth bass. Our last creek float, in West Virginia, I got skunked. Between the mini-rapids and fast moving water, casting and landing a fish wasn’t easy.

But Kentucky was different.

I went into the float more determined and more confident than the last one, knowing that I was capable of keeping up and catching a fish. I think it helped that Chase wasn’t super experienced with kayaking and I felt like we were equal and in this challenge together.

By the days end, Rob had caught a handful, Chase had caught one or two and I hadn’t caught any. Seven hours and I had hooked up once, but I really don’t count it because Rob cast for me.

A couple days prior, when we were leaving WV, I had mentioned that I didn’t catch a fish in the state. And Rob responded that if I had just been persistent and not given up when it got hard, I probably would have caught one.

Going into this float, I made sure that I got the filming done early so I could focus all of my time and attention on catching a fish. I was determined. As the take out came into view, I was feeling really discouraged (and super hungry) so I put my rod down and decided to just call it quits for the day. Ordinarily, I would accept the failure as it was and sulk for the rest of the day. But instead, I picked up the rod and paddled over to the other side of the creek where I threw a few more casts and finally hooked up on a very small Smallmouth bass. I got it to the kayak, lifted it out of the water and it immediately fell of the hook.

I was angry, swore a handful of times but felt motivated because at this point, I had hooked into a fish on my own. Why couldn’t I do it again? The sun was setting but my adrenaline was high as I made my way under the bridge. At this point, I could see the truck and I knew I was running out of time but I kept pushing and finally landed a Largemouth, and the second largest fish of the day.

jamie largemouth

I have never been more proud of myself. Not when I conquered my anxiety. Not when I flew alone for the first time. Not when I graduated college. This. This moment right here is where I found myself being over-the-moon excited for myself. Because I persisted. I kept going. I didn’t give up even though it would be the easier option. I didn’t accept my defeat. I just felt like I earned this. There truthfully wasn’t a second in the day when I stopped fishing. Maybe here and there to drink some water or take a bite of my granola bar but even when I was chewing, I threw my line out. I stayed patient, I stayed persistent, I stayed focused and I persevered.

Such a little accomplishment but it meant so damn much to me. My mom always told me that I am the self-satisfying type of person. Even when I graduated college, everyone made such a fuss over it and I sat there thinking to myself, “this really isn’t a big deal.” I did what I was supposed to do, I went to school, I got my degree in four years and I did it by 22. But then what? I have a piece of paper saying I did something? That wasn’t enough for me. Feeling like my hard work paid off, like it did with this Largemouth, was enough. A feeling I will never forget and the most rewarding fish I have ever caught (for now).

Such a good lesson in not giving up. One more cast, one more paddle, one more bait. You  never know what the next fallen tree has hiding underneath its branches.

meep

 

 

 

Country Road, Take Me Home

Oh, West Virginia. What a weird state you are. The people, the weather, the Internet. If you have Verizon, forget about traveling here. The second we drove over the border from Pennsylvania, my service went from full bars and LTE to Extended 1x. I’ve made way too many trips to the laundromat and the McDonald’s down the street to answer mail and upload content for my devoted 24 blog followers and 86 YouTube subscribers.

Seriously, I am sitting in a cracked booth in a run down McDonald’s right now, clicking away while the scent of soggy french fries and overweight meth addicts wafts through the air. I’m not joking. I think 90% of this towns population is on drugs. Just this town though, the rest of the state has been pretty cool and so have the people.

I don’t really have anything profound or life-changing to write for you guys. Honestly, since I started publicizing my blog more, I have felt a lot of pressure to write about every single state rather than writing what I want to write and when I want to write it. Something I am struggling with because, to be honest, nothing noteworthy or mind blowing happened while we were here.

I didn’t even catch a fish. Not a single one. I went fishing twice and the first day, I had four fish on that I couldn’t land and the second day, I was so focused on not flipping my kayak in the baby rapids that I didn’t really try to catch fish. I did use a bait caster for the first time though without instruction and did pretty well. The guys told me the one I was using isn’t considered “light tackle” so when I try to cast a normal sized one, I’m probably going to get a lot of backlash and screw up the rod and reel. Sorry in advance, Rob.

I did see a pig though. A real porker. Ha. No really though, it was huge. And I held one of Rob’s fish — a Wiper (seen below). (Striper + White Bass = Wiper). I filleted the two Walleye they caught out of the Ohio River with a Bubba Blade and somehow managed to do it really well given the nature of the knife. We were advised by the campground owners not to eat any of the fish caught there, but guys being guys, they devoured it and me being the fish-hating individual I am, didn’t try a single bite. I still ended up throwing up most of the night, though. I think it was the plastic-fueled smoke from the fire. I inhaled way too much of it, and almost sat on a needle, but I was cold so I sucked it up and paid for it later.

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Photography Credit: Robert Field

I was thinking about this the other day — If fish from the ocean is called seafood, what is fish from fresh water called? I can’t call Walleye seafood because it came out of a river but is it considered seafood? Things I wonder when I don’t have access to the Internet.

I am going to google it. Hold on.

Alright, here we go. It’s been solved.

The Interwebs have concluded that fresh water fish is not classified as seafood. Seafood is anything that comes out of the sea and is deemed edible by humans. But, in grocery stores and restaurants, most freshwater fish, like Salmon and Tilapia, can be found in the seafood section. Why? For simplicity purposes, but for correct terminology purposes, it would be solely considered as “fish.” Not only is their habitat different but their overall chemical makeup is different as well.. For example, fish found in saltwater and fish found in freshwater contain different levels of omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients, with saltwater fish containing more heart-healthy nutrients than freshwater. Conclusion? Saltwater fish are healthier than freshwater fish and freshwater fish are just fish, not seafood. Mind blown.

Moral of, West Virginia was not as exciting I had hoped. But a lot of exciting things happened. Joe, Nick, Rob and I made a hobo fire on the edge of the Ohio River, used broken driftwood to melt cheese and crackers from Rob’s “adult lunchable” for dinner and hiked over a mile back to our cars in the middle of the night on train tracks.

I did my first river float in the kayak with Rob and Nate, learned how to throw a bait caster on my own, watched Rob catch his first ever, non-hybrid Musky and met Nate’s fiance, Lauren, the day he proposed to her.

I say it almost every time we leave another state, it’s never the state that amazes me. It’s all the people we meet along the way. And even though we ran into some crazy, redneck, banjo playing, hill people, it’s all an adventure in itself and one I wouldn’t change for the world.

Except for the Internet. I would change that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chances

Life is about taking chances. Small chances, big chances, life-changing chances. It doesn’t matter. You can’t expect to change your life if you’re not willing to take risks. I have learned that all too well by not taking enough. Because I was afraid. But at this point; what do I have to lose? Not my life, so, why the hell not?

I am traveling cross-country, living in an RV full-time. Chance of a lifetime. Yet, I find myself feeling like I’m not challenging myself enough.

I spent my entire life, up until this point, fearing rejection or feeling like I wasn’t good enough. It hindered me. It made me feel self-conscious. Anxious about saying or doing the wrong thing, shy because I had said and done the wrong thing too many times. I stopped taking chances. I stopped taking risks. I stopped saying how I felt. I stopped putting myself out there. And I regret it.

Someone asked me the other day, “What is your biggest regret?” I thought about it for a few minutes and responded, “Not breaking up with my ex earlier.” I dated him for three years. About a year-and-a-half in, I realized I didn’t love him. Not only did I not love him, I never loved him. I just thought I did because he was handsome and successful.

It was a difficult realization, and it hurt because of course I loved him, just not as a partner. As a friend. But I stuck it out because in my mind, I preferred suffering through an unhealthy relationship rather than feeling alone. Realistically, I wasn’t confident enough in myself to walk away. And in my mind, I thought if I spent enough time with him, I would learn to love him. I told myself that love was a choice. You make the choice to love one another every single day. But it’s not a choice. You can’t help who you love and you can’t help who you don’t love.

But to be honest with you all, and with myself, I think my biggest regret was not speaking up. High school was an absolutely horrendous time for me. It’s hard to compare my experience to others because it’s not often someone is open about being bullied. And if they are, how can you compare your trauma to anyone else’s? So what I experienced might not seem like a big deal to others, but to me, it felt like the end of the world. Literally, contemplated ending my life a handful of times and it wasn’t until this year, five years later, that I felt like I could tell my mom that.

I tried talking about it once a couple of years ago. I forget the name of the app, but basically, it let people ask me things or say things anonymously and I had talked a little about how I was bullied on one of my social media pages. Someone, who obviously knew what was going on in high school, responded saying that “victimization is a mental illness and you need to stop victimizing yourself because it wasn’t that bad.” Well, to whoever said that, if you ever read this, it was that bad. You go through what I went through and then tell me it wasn’t that bad. *Insert eye roll here*

Moral of, it made me question what actually happened to me. Was it that bad or was I just making it up in my head? Did I really feel how I felt because of what happened to me or would I have felt like that regardless of external circumstances? Was I really just being sensitive? Questions I still ponder to this day. I won’t ever downplay what happened to me. And I won’t ever take back how I felt. I won’t ever apologize for the horrible, mean, insensitive, terrible things I finally said to them when I decided to stand up for myself. I might thank them, though, for bringing out the strength in me I never knew I had and showing me that I am so much more than they made me believe I was.

But, I will never forgive them either.

I let people dictate how I should act. I let my looks dictate what group of people I was supposed to hangout with, what types of clothes I was supposed to wear, what boys I was supposed to date. When in reality, I hated every single person I surrounded myself with because they took advantage of me. Treated me like a punching bag. Used me as their own entertainment when they got bored. Made me question my life because they thought it was funny. Let me know how making someone want to commit suicide is funny. Really, if you know, my e-mail is on the contact page. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Makes you uncomfortable, right? Imagine now, how uncomfortable it makes people who actually feel this way speak out. Something to think about.

Let me tell you something I’ve learned about society. It has a hold on us, a mold created in the hands of those who have the power, saying that we need to act a certain way. We need to have certain things to feel validated. We need to think and act like this because that’s the only way we’ll fit in and be accepted. I’m sorry if there are children reading this, but fuck that. Enough of that. Enough of letting people hold us back and control us because we are too afraid to stand up for what we believe in or we’re too afraid to speak our minds. If someone doesn’t agree with you, that’s their problem. It doesn’t impact you.

One mold does not work for everyone and I can tell you it doesn’t work for me either. For a while, I was embarrassed by that. I found myself questioning what was wrong with me when in reality, it was who I chose to surround myself with. It was never me.

Sure, there are parts of me that people absolutely hate. But those are the same parts that others will  absolutely love. I can’t control that. But what I can control is how I choose to move forward with that knowledge. I can try to change who I am to be more accepted or I can put more energy into accepting those parts of me and finding others who accept those parts of me as well.

So, take the chance. Tell the boy you love him. Ask her on a date. Apply to the CEO position. Eat the damn hamburger. Stop and smell the fucking roses. I don’t care what you do, but challenge yourself. Challenge yourself every single day and don’t stop until you’re satisfied with who you are as a person.’

I promise, you’ll get there. And you’ll be happy you took the risk.

The Empire State Part II

Rob and I are celebrating our first month on the road together but, of course, what’s living with someone else without a few bumps and bruises along the way.

I never did well with roommates. Seriously, the girls I lived with in college were probably some of the worst people I ever met. Living with someone really brings out your true colors and maybe I’m partly to blame for my poor experiences but, thankfully, Rob is nothing like a college girl.

A few small hiccups along the way are expected and it’s honestly been better than either of us could have imagined. But, we’re still transitioning and figure out what we like and dislike in a roommate/work partner.

The root of our “argument” was miscommunication. I hesitate to even call it an argument because we didn’t yell at each other or fight, we both just became passive aggressive, hostile and visibly annoyed with one another.

He made a comment I didn’t like, I responded with an attitude. He seemed condescending with his word choice, I responded with even more of an attitude. The rest of the day was spent avoiding each other and not talking while both internally planning the easiest way to let me go. It wasn’t until hours later that we realized the huge miscommunication and the effect it had on both of us.

I think it’s a little bit more difficult for me since I am an intern and he is my boss. Because we live together, our circumstances are anything but normal. Still, the idea of approaching my boss and telling him I don’t like something is intimidating. There’s no denying that. In a normal work setting, an intern wouldn’t dare speak out against their boss because, realistically, they would be fired or laughed at. And I feared that.

Thankfully, my concerns were very well-received. Because this isn’t an ordinary intern/boss relationship, an ordinary response cannot be expected. Rob reassured me of that, both with his response to my concerns and his resolutions as well.

Fishing has taught me so much in my short 23 years of life. Patience for those you’re surrounded by. Persistence for the fish. Confidence in yourself and your skills. Respect for the water and the creatures that live in it. Love for the sport. All things I don’t think I would have recognized as early as I did without the help of the ocean.

But I would be lying if I didn’t mention the people who have made this as special as it has become, especially those we met in New York.

Justin, the owner of Waterloo Harbor Campground where we stayed in New York, took us fishing in the most western and most eastern lakes of the Finger Lakes for Muskie and Walleye. Although we didn’t catch any Walleye and Rob caught the only Tiger Muskie, Justin’s constant jokes and lighthearted humor made the shortage of fish not only bearable, but enjoyable.

Throughout our time at the campground, Justin continuously checked in on us at our site, made sure we had everything we needed (and more) and made us feel so welcomed even before meeting us. Our last night there, he invited us out to dinner with him and his wife at a castle and the next morning, he brought us coffee and donuts while we were packing up (while continuously reminding us that New York is the greatest state ever and we shouldn’t leave). He’s quickly become a life-long friend and someone I strive to be like.

Theo, a 7-year-old fan of Field Trips, invited us to go fishing with him about an hour from the campground we were staying at. His young love for fishing and knowledge of the sport inspired me so much to learn as much as I can and take advantage of every moment I have on the water. His enthusiasm and confidence is something I’ll remember and take with me forever. I hope to cross paths with him in the future and see the young man he’s becoming.

Being on the water has always been the place where I am the most comfortable. It’s been easy to lose myself in the past and forget who I am but the water seems to bring me back to my roots.

Having people to share that passion with is really comforting and without our love for fishing and being on the water, I wouldn’t have met people like Justin or Theo. People who have changed my life within hours of meeting them. People who are unapologetically themselves and confident in that.

Life itself is a journey but this one is particularly special.

 

 

 

The Empire State

When I think of New York, I think of the city. As I’m sure most do. But these last two weeks have proven that, although NYC is the most populated city in the country, the state itself is so much more than a 302.6 mi² stretch of land.

Being from the Boston area, it’s pretty well-known that the two cities are rivals. This would never stop me from going somewhere new, but I’ll argue it to the day I die that Boston is the greatest city of all time. But, whether a New Yorker or a Bostonian, I think we can all agree there are a lot of similarities, from the way we argue about sports to the way we come together when our cities are hurting.

Unfortunately, my first memory of both cities is a bad one. From running away in Boston after my step-dad proposed to my mom, to seeing a naked woman running down the streets of New York with a hot dog in her hand, it was an eventful year as an 8-year-old.

Since then, I’ve been to NYC a handful of times and each time, I left feeling anxious and dirty. Nothing against NYC, it’s just cities in general — they make me feel claustrophobic with the mass amounts of people and towering buildings. I think it would be easier to get lost in the concrete jungles than the real ones. And I find myself being more afraid of dark alleyways and drunk men than lions and tigers.

They say not to judge a book by it’s cover, but when the state’s nickname drives you to the city, it’s hard not to lose the surrounding regions in the background.

It’s always been stars and serenity that calm my mind and fuel my soul and upstate New York has provided just that. Taking a step back from the iconic city life, the stars are clearer, the air is crisper, the people are quieter and silence is appreciated.

The Finger Lakes is a region of New York that is comprised of 11 small lakes that extend from North to South between Rochester and Syracuse. The area is known for it’s wine production, numerous state parks/waterfalls and fresh-water fishing. All of which we were lucky enough to experience throughout our time here.

I’ve said it before in my earlier posts, but being surrounded by nature instead of people is a feeling I could never put into words. I could try, but Mother Nature would probably laugh at me.

If I’ve learned anything this first month on the road, it’s not what we do that will impact me the most, it’s who we meet along the way. And the people I have met thus far in New York with have a forever impact on my life.

To be continued –>

 

GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE

Vermont was full of firsts for me. My first birthday in the RV. My first time catching a fish from a kayak. My first large-mouth bass. My first time fly fishing. My first Vermont grand slam. My first time swimming at a nude beach, nude. All equally as amazing,  yet such different feelings.

 

There is something so distinct about this state that I can’t quite put into words. I have never felt so in touch with both nature and myself. Maybe it’s the constant rivers and creeks flowing through backyards and under roads, maybe it’s the sun setting behind the mountains, maybe it’s the amazing people we’ve met along the way. There’s a unique type of happiness that can be found here.

At home, I was always on the move bouncing between one thing to the next with my friends. We had a routine. We’d get off work, go straight to the beach and then hit the bars or a friends house to hangout, staying up until three or four in the morning enjoying each others time and I loved every second of it. But, out here, I am alone in my thoughts more and everything is done at a much slower pace. I find myself getting lost in my head quite often when I’m surrounded by nature, sometimes even when I’m working, but it’s hard not to with such eye-capturing views around me.

The world isn’t meant to be industrialized and populated everywhere and Vermont really put that into perspective for me. There are more people in Indianapolis alone than there are in the state of Vermont. An entire state doesn’t compare to a populated city. That’s so special to me. It brought me back to what I imagine my ancestors felt when hiking or fishing for a living, for their health, their well-being. Of course, you can’t compare the two, evolution has made that impossible. But this journey is already changing me and forming into the person I feel I am meant to be.

I knocked off four different species this week — the large-mouth bass and a Vermont grand slam which includes a Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and a Brook Trout all caught on the fly and in the same body of water. We took lessons from Tom Rosenbauer and Shawn Combs at the Orvis headquarters in Manchester where they taught us everything we needed to know about fly fishing and then took us to catch wild fish in the creeks. They really did a fantastic job and our results showed that. On my first cast into the creek, I hooked up on a Brown Trout — the only one of the day and the largest fish of the afternoon. Shawn and Tom were raving about how coordinated we were and how quickly we picked up the technique. We really impressed them but I think I impressed myself more.

Learning from Tom Rosenbauer was an honor as well. I didn’t realize how famous he was in the fly fishing community until after we were done fishing with him. He is an icon and a professional fly fisherman, an author, a kind and humble man and an excellent teacher.

I may have found my new passion in fly fishing. There is something so rewarding about being able to snap the fly into a little crevice between the rocks and pull out a two or three inch trout. Who would have thought catching a small fish would feel so gratifying? It’s an art I never understood but can tell I will love. It’s kind of like speed dating but with fishing rods — if the fish doesn’t bite by the third or fourth cast, move up the creek to another pocket of water and try again.

Vermont has stolen my heart in a million little ways. Thank you.

Transition

I have so much I want to share with you all (or as Rob would say, ‘y’all’). That’ll never happen for me, just like ‘wicked’ will never happen for him. Forming sentences into thoughts without a pencil has been difficult lately. I am so used to putting pen to paper and formulating my thoughts at a slower pace. To sit down in front of a computer and pluck away at the keys just seems less intimate and less true to myself and my personality. But when I have limited time and a lot to share, it will have to suffice.

Life has been an absolute whirlwind these last few days since I moved into the trailer, but it’s a transition that I have been excited to embrace. Thankfully, packing up basically my entire life into a few small suitcases was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Compartmentalizing my needs and necessities continuously became easier in my four years of college. When I was a freshman, I felt like I needed to have absolutely everything with me. Come senior year, and I packed more decorations than I did belongings.

Now, I have a twin sized couch with my belongings wedged underneath it in various plastic, rolling boxes. For the first couple of days, I had to climb under the table to grab my underwear but today, we installed shelves above my “bed” so I can just slide the boxes off. It’s working well. Small adjustments here and there but we are getting the hang of it.

The last time I saw my ex, he told me something that will stick with me forever. When you become complacent in your life, it’s time for change. He related that to being in the Navy and how he had become really good at his job. Yet, he was pursuing a different career choice. I immediately posed the question, “If you’re good at it and like what you do, why do you want to change it?”

Complacency. If you’re not being challenged enough, you won’t grow.

When I was first offered this job, or offered myself to this job, that was the first thing that came to mind. Life was good, life was fun. But it was easy. And I didn’t want easy. I wanted challenge and adventure. More than I wanted it, I craved it so intensely I found myself avoiding job applications and headhunters because in my mind, I couldn’t fathom the idea of sitting behind a desk all day.

In my eyes, Rob lived the dream that I always wanted. And now, by some series of extremely fortunate events, I too get to live out this dream.

“No matter where life takes me, find me with a smile,” – Mac Miller R.I.P. 1992 – 2018

 

 

 

 

kveðja Ísland

Goodbye Iceland

As writers, it is not often that we are lost for words. But how can I contain the beauty that I’ve seen into simple sentences? I am afraid I won’t do it justice.