I rejoined the real world a teensy bit this month – working 40 hours a week and commuting to the nearest coffee shop across an under-construction bridge that takes 20 minutes to cross is no joke. I’d completely forgotten what it was like to have a job but it’s a good one to have. As I mentioned in my March Recap, I am working temporarily to help launch a new travel website. I’m super excited to show it off to you when it’s made public, but that also means I’ve had less time to work on my own stuff, though I got a lot done right when I returned from Europe to at least bring you new posts in the beginning of the month.
Posts on 10 Miles Behind Me in April:
- Prague | A Czech Bar Crawl with Prague Urban Adventures
- South Africa | Bucket List Birds at Boulders Beach
- Hotel Review | Swissotel Dresden, Germany
- Hungary | 8 Ways to not go Hungry in Budapest
- Germany | 11 Things to do When You Accidentally Visit Cologne
After six weeks of traveling, it was amazing to be at home with my parents and pup. We had a wild Easter celebration at home base (my grandmother’s) with the rest of the fam, including the third annual egg-smash competition, which I, once again, lost to a baby. The weather was absolutely beautiful.
I worked in a lot of coffee shops, libraries, and on the front porch. I lost my Monet’s waterlilies notebook from Paris in one of them, but all employees claim not to have seen it. I walked the dog on the beach. My parents and I went to the Ocean City Doo-Dah Parade, where hundreds of basset hounds marched along with Regis Philbin, who seemed unhappy to have been there, as if he had something more important to do. I read and wept over The Nightingale, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I recommended it to everyone in my family and all of my friend circles. I booked a $5 flight to Chicago.
I went up to New York for the NY Travel Fest, my third year attending. My favorite thing about all these travel events is catching up with old friends and meeting new friends, and that I did a lot of. It’s so easy to click immediately with others who are obsessed with traveling – everyone is so interesting, authentic, and inspiring. I spoke about Myanmar so much that I should be on a panel to promote the country next year. Hint hint, Roni.
I stayed with my friend Kater and decided that I am moving to Brooklyn this fall. I was thinking about Jersey City as well initially, but Brooklyn has a little more pull on my heart. I’ve already lived in Jersey City, so it’s time for something new. Let me know if you are good at finding affordable apartments and organizing gallery walls. I will need your help.
Now, let’s talk food: Jake and I had a nice dinner with one of the best fried chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had at a new spot – Crownside Bar & Kitchen in Prospect Heights. I stopped by Joyce Bakeshop for an almond brioche, which was pretty close to my Parisian almond croissants, before the NY Travel Show. That night, Kater and I tried to get into many different popular spots but would have had to wait a few hours. We settled on NOLA-themed Dean Street Cafe and I had a shrimp po-boy which brought me back a little bit to a perfect long weekend in the city a few years ago. Marie and I met up in the morning at Australian cafe Milk Bar for avocado toast and flat whites, then wandered over to Prospect Park to sit in the sun.
My biggest adventure this month was in:
Shenandoah National Park
There’s been no more important time to support the National Park System and to get out of our bubbles and see more of this country, which has always been great. At the end of the month, I tagged along on a hiking trip to Shenandoah that my sister and dad had planned. I wasn’t sure if I could do all the hiking they wanted to, but I definitely didn’t want to miss out, especially because they wanted to go on my birthday weekend.
On the way there, we met up in Maryland to see cousins and to try out their swing set. We left one of the cars there and went off on the road trip. Our first stop was in Virginia, where my sister’s friend lives on a farm, with, wait for it – BABY GOATS. There are also children, chickens, pups, cats, and a duck – but OMG the goats. They’d just been born a few weeks before and I fell in love with one in particular named Jupiter.
We got to Shenandoah later that afternoon, and went for our first hike to an overlook. It was hard, but also really fun. I was excited to be doing several other hikes in the next few days. I was less excited at the end of our first hike the next day, which took five hours and was super steep on the way back. I admittedly had to stop to catch my breath several times, but we weren’t in a rush at all, so it didn’t matter. Another hike, once we recovered, led us to a gorgeous viewpoint that we had all to ourselves, though we ended up having many of the trails all to ourselves.
The final day, we did three shorter hikes, but the first two hurt my calves which were in pain from the previous two days’ adventures. The last one had a rock scramble and I didn’t really know what that meant. What eventually came upon us was half a mile or so of straight up huge, uneven, sometimes unsteady rocks on the trail that you had to climb over, under, and through. For a person who was always picked last in gym class and has only hiked a few times in her life (even though she can walk 15 miles a day exploring a new city, no problem), it was ridiculously challenging. But what could I do? I didn’t want to turn around, I couldn’t Uber a helicopter, so I went through. It felt awesome to have done it without much hesitation and it was a special way to end my year of being 31, a year that brought me hundreds of moments of me doing things that a younger Erin wouldn’t have imagined.
Because I’m me, here’s the wildlife report: We’d seen a bear in a tree on our drive into Shenandoah and while my dad didn’t let me get out of the car, I was still happy to watch it from the backseat with the window down. On our second hike the next day, a deer was in our path and walked the trail ahead of us for a while as we slowly followed. She did not care at all that we were behind her, but we still felt bad creeping on her while she just wanted to nosh on wildflowers. On our final hike after the rock scramble, I spotted a raccoon, also noshing on wildflowers or something similar. There was also what we decided to call “Chipmunk Kingdom” and “Moth Rock” on the longest hike, to help us stay motivated as we knew how close we were to the end after passing them. Of the less desirable animals, we also found a snake, a newt popping out of a waterfall crevasse, and lots of large millipedes.
We finished up the trip at beautiful (but historically challenging) Monticello since we were in the area and returned to my cousins’ house for dinner, crab cakes, and birthday cake. The entire trip was the perfect way to turn 32.
Well, for starters I’m typing this from a cafe in Chicago, where I’m spending the next three weeks dog-sitting for a stranger I met in a Travel-Writing Facebook group, because this is apparently something I do nowadays. I’m so excited to be here and spend time with some friends from NYC, home, and from my former life in banking. For the rest? Keep following the blog and add me on Instagram and Facebook while you’re at it.