Travel Category Archives

Weekly Round Up – Puerto Rico

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Some would use the phrase, “It’s like rain I’d never seen before.” But as powerful and relentless as it was, I had seen rain like this before. It was the same rain that tinted our windows black in Gwangju, adding a pause in the day to consider the sound of your own loneliness. It was the rain that rarely came in Sevilla, but when it did the town would briefly fall under a spell and come out smelling like sodden clay. It was the rain that rose up past the tires of our car on my first trip to Puerto Rico and turned palm trees and lights into shadows and smears.

As we drove the dark and mountainous rode from Ponce to San Juan I felt the electricity–a mixture of terror and ecstatic delirium–that comes to me in moments when I am completely out of control of what is to come. This feeling happens often in travel when I’ve been in a place long enough to have a routine, but something occurs that reminds me that I am still at the whim of this foreign place. It happened to me on this recent trip to Puerto Rico because, despite the fact that I had landed on the island only 12 hours prior, I was blissed out to be back among Spanish speakers in a capacity other than “tourist.” I was also duly petrified by the combination of darkness, lateness and infernal rain we were experiencing.

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It should go without saying, as I sit here writing this, that we made it safely back to San Juan. A fate for which I owe everything to the adeptness of my companion and driver to whom a little tropical rain storm is nothing if not routine. I spent the next days falling more deeply and deeply in love with my temporary life as an Islander, delighting in my cafe con leches purchased in Spanish, my daily commutes to work on which I often had the same taxi driver and my moments (though infrequent) to feel the Caribbean sun turning my skin rapidly brown.

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IMG_8213I fell asleep each night to a chirping Coqui and awoke each morning to the sight of a reflecting pool stretching out toward the crashing waves of the open ocean. I felt blessed to be back, if only for a moment, in a place just foreign enough to feel that specific electricity.

So, until next time.

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Featured rain photo courtesy of Unsplash.com, Photography by Christopher.

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Consider the Lobster

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Portland has a sort of windex-clarity characteristic of moody coastal towns where storms roll through at regular intervals.  The colors appear more vividly, the horizon stretches out just a bit further and, of course, the air has a crispness that reinvigorates your dull city senses.  Smells are very available here in the crisp air: pines and low tide and seasoned fish; and each time I come back, I find myself falling more deeply in love with Vacationland.

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It’s funny to have your hometown shown to you through another person’s eyes and to hear voiced in perfect sound-bytes why it is that a place is so infectious: the coblestones of downtown, the seagulls crying in the morning, the smell of woodsmoke lingering until dawn.  The weather was serving us nothing but sunshine during our adventures in and around Portland and the ladies gave me such good face as I persistently snapped their photos.  Good friends can always be counted on to model for you on a moments notice, and it helps when your friends are knock-outs and the landscape you’re working with is unparalleled it its beauty.  Our photo story quickly became a color study with weathered beach-side shingles in grayscale, electric reds of handpicked berries in blue-green boxes that picked up the color of the ocean and the sky, desaturated tones creating vintage pin-up vibes, and neon signs seducing us with the finest lobster rolls—this is what what we tried to capture.

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I have always floated in a cloud somwhere between belonging and not in Portland, due to my not having been born there and spending so much time away even when I was a resident. But I realize that certain things make me an undeniable local, like the way I happily jump into the coldest of water and the ease with which I squish and squirt through even the most formidable barriers of seaweed.  I can’t say that I don’t get lost driving around the serpentine roads of coastal Maine—I often get turned around—but eventually muscle memory takes over and I find myself (and my guests) right where we ought to be: somewhere between vacation dreams and blissful reality. 
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We unearthed so many new haunts on this trip back: my savvy band of girls took to the city like true travelers and lead me down new streets, into new shops and introduced me to new tastes that I would have otherwise continued to overlook.  “Consider the Lobster” became the token saying of our adventure and I realize now that, in addition to the lobster, there are so many things to consider when you find yourself in awe of a place that you thought you were finished discovering.

 

Places of interest when visiting Portland: Two Fat Cats Bakery, Ferry Beach State Park, Street & Co, Maxwell’s Farm, Bliss.

We Are the Young Americans

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My recent trip to Los Angeles did nothing to dispel any notions that A. everyone is beautiful in the City of Angels and B. life is a never-ending flurry of auditions and shoots.  In fact, I am now completely convinced of those two points and warming up to C. everything is better on the “Best Coast.”

As a New Yorker I am predisposed to have an aversion to LA.  Long New York City winters blowing slush and sadness into our hearts have conditioned us to think that Los Angelinos, with their backyard palm trees, their perfect tans and their balmy Christmases, have it easy.  But what I found this past trip was a group of people, albeit gorgeous people, working nonstop to live out their creative dreams one day at a time.

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I had popped over to LA to see my dear, childhood friend Riley Rose, (writer, actor, editor, costume wrangler) of the hysterically funny sketch group BFT Comedy, among other feathers in her cap. It was she that had introduced me to the lovely Valentina Mitzkat a year ago in Los Angeles.  I was immediately taken with Valentina’s spirit, she possesses an old-world, classic beauty that I can’t stop looking at: porcelain skinned like a pinup but spritely at the same time.  She is an incredible musical talent with an intoxicatingly beautiful voice, in fact, her single Going Home has been on repeat since our first meeting a year ago.  During my trip to LA this year, Valentina was shooting the video to her new song We Are The Young Americans, an upbeat and infectious tune, and Riley and I were invited to take part in the video.  I am such a fan so, of course, I couldn’t resit being a part of her latest piece of magic, camera-shy be damned!

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It was a perfect afternoon in sunny California, a fruit-tree lined street in The Valley was the location of the day-after-house-party themed video and a an outdoor couch full of young stunners surrounded by succulents and all manner of flora greeted us upon our arrival on set.  The idea behind the shoot was to focus in on a group of (young) Americans who, seemingly wasting a day idling about hungover from the previous night’s debauchery, build something beautiful out of what dregs the party (or society) has left behind for them.  The concept is genius, especially because it takes place in a city that, no matter what anyone says, is totally and completely on its grind, further supporting my newly recognized affinity for all things Los Angeles.   I can’t wait to see the finished video and share it with everyone as soon as it is ready.  And, in the meantime, while I may not be packing my bags to move across the country just yet, I plan to cultivate as much California cool (and go-getter-ness) into my everyday as possible.

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Until next time, Los Angeles!

 

 

 

 

Dispatch from the Desert

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Just seventeen miles outside of what most of the world pictures when they think about Las Vegas—the lights, the scantily clad, the fortunes won and lost—is an expansive landscape magnificent and martian in its curiosity. Odd trees burnt by the relentless sun sag toward the earth like something from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, massive cliffs of limestone and bulbous formations of sandstone press against a cloudless sky of the brightest blue and desert creatures scuttle about in the sage brush.  It’s hard to imagine such pristine natural beauty exists so close to a city built as a mirage of dreams.

I travel annually to Sin City but had never before made it out to the true desert. The Couture Jewelry and JCK Luxury shows are all held in the heart of Las Vegas at the end of May each year and the industry flocks to revel in a celebration and presentation of the best in the business. Being surrounded by such talent and innovation in fine jewelry and filling my days working with incredible brands and discovering new pieces and designers leaves little time for extracurricular expolaration, but each year that I find myself leaving the desert without having trekked into the red mountains that touch the horizon in each visible direction from Las Vegas I regret it.  So this year I made the trip, and who better to go with than the crystal-toting bohemian beauty of my heart, Maria, alias @GratefulGemHead.

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Maria’s crystal business is an inspiration– with an unparalled knowledge of the stones and their properties, she sources from across the country and makes them accessible to rock heads nationwide.  On our trip she actually had a piece with her to ship to a loyal, repeat purchaser based in Las Vegas and we joked about showing up at this person’s house with merchandise in tow — perhaps not the best idea in a place where signs advertise “Shoot Real Machine Guns” and “Las Vegas Battefield” every 20 feet. She is in the midst of growing her jewelry business featuring the gorgeous crystals she sources and as such, this idea to collaborate on a story was formed.

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Red Rock Canyon is a straight shot outside of the city by highway, and the arrow straight road that takes you into the foothills of the mountains stretches into 360 degree landscape of rich color; stripes of bone-white rock painted onto the dusty red cliffs are framed by green brush below and blue skies above.  The radio was tuned to the local classic rock station and Stevie Nicks sang in her wild voice welcoming us to the edge of nowhere.  Nothing makes you feel such freedom as barreling down a road hazy with heat rising off of the concrete and dissapearing into a world without cell service.

The outside temparature was a blissful 88 degrees with a breeze when we rolled into the canyon park midmorning which made the day exploring and photographing a pleasant one with the onset of heat exhaustion slow and sneaky as we ran around in the hot sun for hours–we thankfully remembered to apply sunscreen twice on our trip and walked away unscathed, though a bit dehydrated.  The dress I was wearing was the perfect camoflage in the desert with dusty brown and red colors.  I love the photos of me being swallowed up by the vast landscape.  You can imagine how little justice the photos do for this vivid expanse of rock–when you stand at the base of these mountains the wild formations they take make them look as though they are moving even though they are as still as the dead.

Laying back on sun drenched stone with nothing but the sound of the wind echoing through the caves is the closest I’ve been to pure bliss in a very long time.

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The crystals we photographed in the desert come alive as though they found themselves at home after a long journey and the purity of the land, the company of Maria’s spirit and the excitement of a seemingly endless expanse of beauty inspired future collaborations.  I am so very excited to work with Maria as she launches her jewelry line and you should definitely look forward to some summer fun–and an amazing give-away–with this babe. Stay tuned!

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Attractive People, Attractive Places – The Roadtrip

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Few vacations breath as much room for exploration, inspiration and reflection into your life as a road trip. Be it an escape, a pursuit, or a mixture of the two, the open road does wonders to cleanse the soul and always reveals a new beginning at the end of the journey.  Solar flares, coffee stains, sunglasses and the ever-pulsing road mixtape define your destiny: a new set of rules exist and time disappears.

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This past trip through Texas and Louisiana certainly shook something loose in me and re-instilled my desire to meet, photograph and write about the people, places and things that inspire me. It was incredible and exciting (albeit a bit tiring and frantic at times…) to wake up and go to sleep in a new place each day. We drove through some of the biggest cities in the South, only to then spend miles passing heartbreakingly beautiful fields of wild animals and livestock that stretched out to the horizon. In Louisiana we drove along an elevated highway with nothing but the wild bayou beneath us—a forest of trees all around, covered to their very tops with water, giving the illusion of a sunken world. It was peaceful and centering to be away from my computer for a week and to write all of my thoughts and notes in a journal.

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While on our trip I found a great quote by the epic Slim Aarons who said that he photographed “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places”—and it perfectly sums up what these pages are devoted to, but in my case it’s the attractive people and their attractive projects…the things that make them tick and, in turn, make me tick. This is why I love to travel—you stumble upon those things (the people, the places, the projects) that you may have never discovered otherwise.

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Likewise, the best part of any road trip is discovering something new: be it down some dusty road where few have been before you, or right under your nose in a bustling metropolis. Our travels brought us to the doorstep of many wondrous new places (shout out to AirBnB and all of our hosts along the way…) but it was in New Orleans, the city we ended our trip in, that I discovered one of my (new) favorite designers: Ashley Porter of Porter Lyons.

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Her imaginative, sculptural designs representative of bayou and southwestern themes and imagery, infused with the Californian cool of the native-born artist, are exactly what I would have hoped to find on my journey. With collections like “Rebuild,” “Voodoo” and “Alligator” its hard not to get jazzed on learning more about Porter Lyons – the brand and the woman behind it. I picked up a piece from the “Backbone” collection—the Backbone Medallion—cast from real alligator backbone scutes* and have been wearing it ever since and poring over her site and instagram to learn more.

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And so, with this perfect talisman to commemorate a long journey, a new designer to covet, a million photos and pounds of laundry, I return to my “real” life with eyes open.

Shop Porter Lyons online or in New Orleans at Hemline or the Frenchmen Art Market.

 

*A Scute is a bony external plate or scale overlaid with horn, as on the shell of a turtle, the skin of crocodilians, and the feet of birds.

Hat Tricks

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Ever since this hat (handmade somewhere in Poland) came into my life this winter, it has brought a special kind of magic with it… (more…)