The Gutsy Girl Road Trip Awards

Another startlingly fast year has passed, and another wonderful road trip is almost over. It’s been great seeing old friends and getting to connect with family from all over the East Coast again. I was lucky to be joined by my boyfriend during one leg of the trip from Washington, DC to Long Island, NY and by my Dad from Long Island to Upstate New York. Blog post about that coming soon!

Over my weeks on the road, I’ve loved experiencing beautiful mountain vistas, driving through crumbling ghost towns, feeling the sand between my toes, and exploring some of the coolest towns in America. Now deemed my Gutsy Girl Road Trip Awards, here are several moments and places that stood out most to me during my adventure.

Favorite Atmosphere to Grab a Drink with Girl Friends:
Ambar Washington, DC [Eastern Market]

Two DC friends and I stumbled across this charming bar & restaurant as we walked through the neighborhood of Eastern Market. If you’re into adorable row homes and visiting a quieter side of Washington DC, check out this area that boasts a bustling market and tasty restaurants, like Ambar, which serves Balkan cuisine with a modern twist. It’s like any trendy restaurant when you first walk in, but go up the stairs and you’ll find a cute, rooftop oasis to enjoy appetizers and drinks with the girls. My friends and I shared a few tasty small plates, and I had a delicious margarita- you can pick from original or spicy mango. How about both? Try Ambar at Happy Hour like we did for some unheard of specials in the DC area. I promise you- $4 cocktails and appetizers. How is that even possible?!

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Most Exciting Purchase:
Millennium Broadway Hotel in Times Square – New York, NY [Manhattan]

When my boyfriend, Stefan, and I decided to stay in Manhattan for the night, I was expecting our hotel room to be the most expensive purchase of my entire road trip. I was so wrong about that! Through Hotwire, we ended up scoring a room for $146, all inclusive. Amazing! Though that still may seem pricey to some, you won’t find a decent hotel for much less than that in the city. But I haven’t gotten to the best part yet. I was under the impression that $146 would get us a dingy room facing rooftop air-conditioning units. So wrong. Stefan and I were placed on the 33rd floor with a corner room facing the Chrysler building on one window-wall and Times Square on the other. One block from all the action! It was stunning, and we had a blast that evening.

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Best Area to Find Funky Treasures:
The beaches of Great Peconic Bay – North Fork, Long Island, NY

If you’re a lover of the beach and finding interesting treasures, visit the areas around Great Peconic Bay where there’s a smattering of quaint towns around the bay and its smaller inlets on the North Fork of Long Island. Take to the beaches and you’ll find everything from sea creatures to beautiful rounded stones to antique sea glass that’s finally floated up onto the beach after several decades. The picture below documents some of the goodies that Stefan and I came across after just one hour of walking around searching the sand. I can’t wait to turn the sea glass and little stones into a pretty display back home!

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Prettiest Secret Place:
Conservatory Garden in Central Park – New York, NY [Manhattan]

Okay, I’ll admit that the Conservatory Garden isn’t actually a secret. It’s right in Central Park! But you’d never know it. There’s only one entrance to it through a gate on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so the garden is pretty easy to miss. If you’re a flower-loving visitor to NYC, or a resident who needs some quiet time, this is the place to go. I was there at 10:30 AM on a Wednesday, and there was only a tiny handful of people in all the acres of botanical beauty. You’ll find a giant Wisteria pergola with views of the fountain, tree-covered walkways out of a fairy tale, and my favorite space- an expansive flower garden. I loved relaxing around all of the bursting wildflowers and the waterlilies in the pond. It was such a stunning, peaceful place that you’d never know you’re in the middle of New York City.

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Most Picturesque Town:
The streets of Old Town – Alexandria, VA

Old Town Alexandria feels so American that it’s actually hard to describe. The hilly, cobblestone streets, history-drenched row homes, and flags flapping proudly in the river breeze just oozes pure Americana. Check out the waterfront area and King Street of Old Town next time you’re in the Washington DC area, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants and boutiques to keep you going as you admire all of the charming, colonial buildings.

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Tastiest Food & Greatest Value:
Sake Bar Hagi in the Times Square area – New York, NY [Manhattan]

This place might be my new favorite restaurant in the entire world. I know that’s a bold statement to make, but everything about the experience was fantastic. It took Stefan and I a while to find the entrance, which was part of the adventure, because there’s no sign for Saki Bar Hagi- just a random stairwell leading you down off the street. Imagine a restaurant with no sign in the Times Square area! It’s pretty clear that they don’t want loads of tourist crowds in their restaurant. And they don’t need them- the place was packed with people eating authentic Japanese food, shoulder to shoulder with strangers. I loved the bustling intimacy of the restaurant, but I enjoyed the food even more. Stefan and I shared five small plates, the best being Tofu Dengaku. Now, Stefan and I aren’t vegetarian or huge tofu lovers, but we both couldn’t stop eating this dish! So delicious. The best part is that the meal was crazy inexpensive. Stefan got a huge 30 oz. beer for just $8. I don’t even know how that’s possible in New York City.

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Most Amazing Lifestyle:
Basking in the outdoors and enjoying local food – Aquebogue, NY

If you follow a similar road trip route that I took, you will have eaten your way up the East Coast and walked your butt off around New York City and the Washington DC area. Now what do you need to finish off the trip right? A beautiful and relaxing stop in nature. You might be surprised that I’m recommending a town on Long Island, which most people falsely assume is overcrowded and ugly. The North Fork, where you’ll find Aquebogue, is actually filled with wineries, rolling farmland, and stunning views of the water. You’ll get to eat loads of fresh seafood and vegetables from local stands, but the best part really is the pace of living. At my family reunion here, the huge group of us gathered outside on picnic tables to enjoy all of our meals in the dappled sunlight. Stefan and I got to walk along the empty beach and explore tiny coastal towns. The peaceful setting was very rejuvenating after a fun, but exhausting road trip up North. I would recommend traveling to the North Fork of Long Island to everyone!

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So there you have it! I took hundreds of pictures and visited dozens of amazing places that I, unfortunately, don’t have the space to write about. What a shame that I have to leave so much out! I hope that my Gutsy Girl Road Trip Awards has inspired you to visit even a few of these locations and restaurants. I truly had an amazing trip and can’t wait for my next one!

Have you been to any of these destinations? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a great week,

xo Caylee

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Reasons to Fall Madly in Love With Georgia

When it comes to states in America, Georgia usually gets a bad rap. Many people either think it’s a smog-filled, traffic jammed wasteland or a place filled with tough, country cops and tractor-driving hillbillies. While there is a sliver of truth to these points, Georgia is truly a gem of a state that’s a mix of laid back, southern charm and trendy swagger.

During this road trip stop, I visited much of the Atlanta metro area – specifically the regions of Buckhead, Virginia Highlands, Serenbe, Conyers, and downtown Atlanta. My boyfriend, Stefan, was also in town for business, and as I walked around with a smile on my face, he remarked that I look so happy in Georgia. One of my favorite things about this state is that people actually say “good morning” to me as I walk by, where I might just get a suspicious glance thrown my way in Miami. I guess it’s the little things that impress me in life, guys!

Maybe I hold Georgia so close to my heart because it’s been a second home to me for my whole life. Some of my family lives in Atlanta, so we would visit at least twice per year as I grew up – and of course, I had to go to University of Georgia. Best decision ever. The more I come here, the more new, charming things I find to appreciate. This time was no different. Inspired by photos I took on my first road trip stop, here are some of the reasons I can’t help but fall in love over and over again:

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1. There are huge, leafy trees everywhere. This makes the hilly city streets look so incredibly lush and beautiful.

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2. You’ll see street-after-street of charming, craftsman-style houses with beautiful gardens just a block away from boutiques and restaurants. I want a place this cute! In Atlanta, explore a neighborhood called Virginia Highlands where, based on what I’ve visited so far, go to a casual tapas bar called Noche and a gift shop called Dakota J’s. The best thing to do here is just walk down the streets looking at all of the adorable homes!

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3. Georgia has basically every landscape a person could want. Rolling farmland? Check. Beach-lined coast on the Atlantic? Check. Mountain vistas? Check. Rivers, lakes, waterfalls? Well, of course.

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4. This state has ladies doing amazing stuff! Ashley, the super knowledgeable farm manager at Serenbe, got her first experience on a farm only four years ago. Before that, she’d graduated from college with a degree in business! Ashley came to Serenbe Farms as in intern, as she was interested in learning how to grow her own food, and she ended up enjoying farming so much that she’s been doing it ever since. I love when people find their passions.

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5. Georgia has tons of farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants which fosters a tight sense of community. Most of the town of Serenbe gathers at the farmers market every Saturday to chat and buy their weekly vegetables. I think it’s a great concept to have a community focused on wellness and sustainability for families to raise their children in. Athens, Georgia also has a great farmers market & local food community that I enjoyed participating in while in college.

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6. It’s so easy to live a healthy lifestyle in Georgia! After exploring Serenbe and all of its boutiques, Stefan and I went on a walking tour of the beautiful Serenbe Farms. They sell 60% of their vegetables to local residents who have signed up for the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Every week the residents will get a big box of a wide assortment of vegetables that have been harvested. It’s a great way to get healthy, fresh foods and to try out new recipes every week. I did a CSA with a farm in Athens for a couple of years and loved it!

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7. This state has so many awesome restaurants and cafes that it’s crazy. Don’t even get me started on all of the bars and microbreweries. And if you ever decide to visit Serenbe, which I would recommend as a relaxing Saturday trip, you must get all of these pastries. They are the best. Ever.

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8. Georgia is where all of the cool kids go. Creative and laid back entrepreneurial types thrive here – just like this awesome little girl. Stefan and I saw a Top Chef shopping at the farmers market as we ate our breakfast. It’s obviously the place to be.

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9. Georgia Aquarium. Biggest in the world. Whale sharks. Beluga whales. Enough said!

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10. Want a place with a bunch of fascinating history and cultures to learn about? Georgia. For instance, I visited the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers where Trappist monks make money for the monastery through a variety of projects that are sold to the public. This includes: honey from beekeeping, homemade pasta and fruit preserves, and homemade fudge. The most interesting thing that the monks do, in my opinion, is sell bonsai trees that they’ve trimmed and taken care of for many years. Some of the most beautiful bonsai trees in their garden are being sold for several thousand dollars! It’s an amazing sight to see.

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11. Georgia is home to the best milkshake in the entire world. Drive all the way from whatever state you’re in to the OK Cafe in Buckhead, Atlanta and order a peanut butter milkshake. Right now! You will never regret it, unless you’re allergic to peanuts.

There you have it! I hope you can tell how passionate I am about this state. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit Athens this time around, which I could rave manically about, but I’ll save that for a later date. So have you ever gotten to know Georgia on a deeper level? What do you love about it? Let us know in the comments below. Also, please share this post on Facebook or Twitter if you love Georgia just as much as I do. 🙂 Next stop on my road trip: the Raleigh/ Durham area of North Carolina. Stay tuned!

Have a wonderful day,
xo Caylee

How I Deal with Struggles on my Road Trip

It’s finally arrived. Today marks the first major leg of my road trip – about 8 hours from Naples, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia. Due to my time constraints with packing and getting on the road on time, I’ll write a smaller post today about a common string of questions I get when doing a road trip:

Don’t you get so tired that you almost fall asleep at the wheel? Doesn’t it kill your body to sit for that long? Are you crazy?! Yes, yes, and definitely yes.

Road trips are my favorite way to travel, as I talked about in my last post, but I’m not here to tell you that they’re never challenging. Without a doubt, every single day, I’ll have to stop for a coffee or two along the way and take a break at several rest stops to stretch my legs and walk around. Each night before I go to bed, I’ll do a brief yoga sequence to stretch out my neck, back, wrists, and legs – spots that get impossibly painful after days in a car. It also helps to relax my mind by reading or meditating nightly, because, as we all know, driving can have its majorly stressful moments. I should know – on a road trip with my Dad several years ago we flipped our SUV multiple times in a heavy rain storm!

But, in my opinion, the most difficult aspect about road trips is the mental exhaustion that comes on without warning. My body might be completely alert and wanting to drive, but my brain will spontaneously decide that it wants to go into hibernation mode.  Even though I’ve been trying to avoid coffee in my life recently, it must be a staple on my East Coast drive. Besides that, my only hope to keep driving while tired is to listen to some awesome music or my books on tape. Great music has an uncanny way of waking me up as I sing along like a diva, and I get so sucked in to listening to audiobooks that the time flies by. Below are my two choices that’ll be on repeat during the entire trip. Because, let’s be honest, audiobooks are way too expensive to buy more than one!

Music to Listen to: MAGIC CITY HIPPIES – ROBBY HUNTER BAND

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Find the album here: https://soundcloud.com/robbyhunterband/sets/magic-city-hippies-1

Robby Hunter Band is a group of guys I know back in Miami, and they are CRAZY GOOD. This album actually released last year, but I’m still loving it as much as ever. They have some of the most fun and sultry songs you could ever imagine – perfect for summer. Check them out for yourself above!

 

Audiobook to Listen to: THE POWER OF NOW – ECKHART TOLLE

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The Power of Now is a huge book in the field of spirituality and self-improvement, and I feel super behind that I haven’t read it yet! Tolle doesn’t preach any particular religion, but instead, guides people to live in the now in order to find our true happiness. That’s as much as I can say at this point, but I’m excited to absorb myself into it along my 3-week journey.

Well, there you go! Do you have any methods that keep your mind or body feeling in tip-top shape while you drive long distances? If so, please let us know in the comments below. Any experienced road tripper will tell you that traveling by car definitely isn’t easy, but you’ll see some of the most beautiful sights of your life along the way. So relax, and enjoy the ride! Talk to you soon from my first big destination – Atlanta!

Have a beautiful day,

Xo Caylee

4 Reasons Why I’m Going on a Three-Week Summer Road Trip

 

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Let me start off by saying that I’m no stranger to road trips.

Last summer, I drove on another 3-week vacation from Miami to Madison, Wisconsin, and back, with dozens of stops in between. It was a nostalgic trip – I visited old friends in many cities, saw the beautiful, rolling farmland of the Midwest that I’d never appreciated until then, and got to be with my grandma one last time. The summer before that, a week after my college graduation, I drove from Athens, Georgia to Cambridge, Massachusetts and then all the way back to my hometown in Florida in a span of two months. I thought I had a life plan, but that road trip taught me differently – I experienced more life changing moments, more soul searching, more belonging, more crying, and more despair than in all of the other summers combined. In many ways, it burned me to the ground.

This upcoming road trip will be an all new kind for me – one for fresh opportunities and new beginnings. I’ll be going from Miami to Boston again like I did two years ago, but this time, so much in my life has changed. I’ll be leaving this Wednesday, July 23rd and won’t be back until mid-August. I’ll still be blogging about the experience! Here are my top four reasons for going on a road trip this summer:

One. I’m exploring various towns and cities that my boyfriend and I can make a long-term home in soon. Since I was 16 years-old, I have uprooted myself nine times to different cities and countries around the world. I have friends and memories from all around, but what I don’t have is a sense of community or “feeling at home” anywhere. Stefan and I are interested in moving someplace with a more intimate, down-to-earth lifestyle than Miami. My town wishlist includes: getting to walk or safely ride my bike where I need to go most of the time, having a thriving creative scene, lots of outdoor activities, innovative businesses, and mild seasons that won’t be as hot as Florida but also won’t be so cold that we can never leave the house. My East Coast ideas are the Raleigh/ Durham area in North Carolina and the Charlottesville area of Virginia. My college’s town, Athens, Georgia, is pretty awesome too, but I doubt there are enough professional positions available for Stefan to find a job in his field of engineering. So, basically, I’m on the prowl for our long-term community! Please let me know if you have any other town recommendations.

Two. Through the people I meet and activities I get to do on the trip, I’m exploring future career interests and making connections. There will be so many hours spent alone, driving, that I will either successfully complete a “soul search” and find my passion – OR I’ll just go insane. One or the other. It’s a toss-up. Along the way, I’ll be reaching out to people in the wellness community, visiting locally-owned creative businesses, and even checking out a couple of universities for graduate school. I’ll be going to farmers markets and yoga studios, and exploring every love of mine in between.

Three. I’ll get to visit friends and family that I haven’t seen in years. Basically, enough said. All of my college friends live Georgia or north of that, so I haven’t seen any of them in over two years now. It’s time to catch up! Besides that, my multi-day stop on the North Fork of Long Island, New York is for our bi-annual family reunion. My dad’s whole side of the family will be there – we’ll walk on the beach, sip cold beverages from hammocks, play ping-pong, and eat delicious, homemade food. I cannot wait.

Four. Road trips are just awesome. There’s something about road trips that I can’t get enough of. I enjoy being able to see the sunlight in the trees as I pass by in my car and having the ability to stop anytime that I’d like in order to buy a fresh, local watermelon and ask people why they love their town. Nothing feels more like summer than getting to explore and appreciate all of stunning roadside beauty of the United States. I love the intricate memories that you make through traveling this way. I know it’s not possible for everyone to take weeks out of their life to travel, but it’s really a much more meaningful experience than flying over in an airplane.

Anyway, I hope road trips will become an annual tradition for myself. How about a drive to California next year? 😉 Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been on a crazy long road trip and what your favorite part was. Also, if you have any recommendations for me from Miami up to Boston, let me know and I’ll try and do everything. Next time you hear from me I’ll be on the road!

Have a great day,

xo Caylee

 

 

The Gutsy Girl’s Summer Bucket List

Grab a pencil and paper, guys. It’s not too late to start making an awesome summer bucket list.

In my eyes, all fleeting things in existence deserve a bucket list to be made for them. They seem to create a sense of urgency in the way that we only have a set amount of time to finish something meaningful to us. A bucket list allows us to remember our goals more easily and gives a sense of achievement when we can mark our pen through each item.

There has been a bucket list for all occasions – One for all of the new things I wanted to try before college graduation a few years ago, one for what I hope to accomplish before I turn 30 years-old, one for all of the big ticket experiences I want to have before I die… And one for awesome activities to do this summer.

Since summer is already half-way over, I’m gonna have to move quickly to cross everything off of my list! For the record, I’ve never once completed all of the items on any of my dozens of bucket lists, but I have a special feeling about this summer. It’s going to be a crossing-off-my-bucket-list-bonanza! Want to join me? Here we goooooo!

 

  • Go to a local farmer’s market & learn some of the vendors’ stories. Getting to know where your food comes from can be such an interesting experience, and the farmers are often very passionate about what they do.
  • Learn something new & document your progress publicly. I would like to learn a new song, by heart, on my ukulele and then upload it onto the blog.
  • Plan a picnic at the park with someone meaningful in your life. Bring a supply of food you know they will love, and enjoy a few hours lounging outside together.
  • Try out a new type of yoga or fitness class that is outside of your comfort zone. Krav Maga? Kundalini yoga? A Bollywood dance fitness workout? Do it!
  • Make a new friend in your industry. Try to partner up on a small project, do a guest blog post swap, or interview each other for new business insights.
  • Finish 3 great books & write reviews to share with others who you think could benefit from reading them too.
  • Do something absolutely crazy – live with passion and purpose. Fall in love. Try an improv class. Start the amazing thing you’ve been too afraid to fail at. Be vulnerable and let your genuine, imperfect self be seen. Go whitewater rafting. Take a road trip. Just do something brave. Yes, please.
  • See a play or live show that is outside of what you’d normally enjoy. You might just discover something new to love!
  • Go on a nature hike & and make a mandala with all of the outdoor goodies you find along the way (twigs, flowers, rocks, leaves, etc).
  • Paint a canvas using just your intuition. Don’t plan it out and draw a picture with pencil beforehand – just create, wildly in the moment.

The Challenge:

So if you’re with me in trying to cross off this summer bucket list, let’s make a whole social media event out of it! Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to cross off as many of these list items as you can before September 1st. Use this blog as a jumping off point for inspiration! Write posts about your experience completing the bucket list challenges, and link back to this blog and let me know you’re participating. At the beginning of September, I’ll do a blog roll featuring your links and the awesome bucket list items you’ve achieved this summer. Also, if you’re a Twitter or Instagram fan, take this step below to feature our Gutsy Girl themed pictures together:

Think about it… We have a limited number of beautiful, bursting-with-life summers to enjoy in our time here on Earth. Be gutsy, and make this summer a passionate one. 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend,

xo Caylee