Category Archives: travel

A City of Many Colors

It’s funny how quickly time passes, especially when you get older. Here we are, headed back to New Orleans yet again! (It’ll be the fourth time for me!) Apparently, it’s going to be an adventure getting down there; tropical storm Cindy made landfall yesterday and the system is headed up here to Ohio. We’ll see if our plane gets delayed or not. Hopefully it won’t be cancelled!

Earlier I had a gent who was replacing my windshield wipers ask me what I love most about New Orleans. I always have trouble pinning down something specific in answer to those questions, but I would say, simply, I love the vibes. As a country gal with a back-door Catholic upbringing, I am not all I seem. I’m always pushing myself, headed on the next adventure; I embrace my eccentric spirit wholly, and, I like to think, people like that about me. I am myself.

And that is what New Orleans is; she is herself, there is no other way to describe her. She embraces the creepy and weird, the adventurous, the musical, the artistic, the mystical, and makes no apologies about what experiences you may have. She is colorful, extreme, fantastical, and a city with her own thing going. I love every bit of her!

This year, I’ll absolutely explore my usual haunts: Cafe Du Monde–BEIGNETS!– Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the Houses of Voodoo, and even the plantations! (It’s been a  while since I’ve been to Oak Alley. I’d like to go back!) I’ll also explore some new locations: Kermit’s Treme Mother-In-Law Lounge, recommended to me by Dustin Pari, is definitely on my list. I also want to catch a cemetery tour and see Marie Laveau’s tomb. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

We’ll see what adventures I go on this time around. I’m sure, though, that it’ll be a fun, relaxing experience, as it has been the past four times! I do adore you, New Orleans.

Sincerely, as I prep for my departure, I am praying for those affected by tropical storm Cindy. May all souls in turmoil find strength, may you be blessed in your rebuilding. And may all those who have passed too soon find their ways to Heaven.

See you guys in a few weeks!

Your turn: What are some of your favorite locations/things about New Orleans? Comment below!

The Best Journeys

If you’ve ever taken a moment to pause one of my YouTube videos, you’ll find I have a lot of sayings floating around my room.

Literally.

Roald Dahl’s quotation of “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you…” perches on the wall to my left as I type, while Josh Gates and Tom Hiddleston sayings flash above my mirror in the early afternoon sunlight. And that’s only scratching the surface of my decorated four walls! Whether they’re artwork or sayings from TJ Maxx, paintings friends have crafted, or a mural pieced together by my own hands, each piece of decoration on my wall has its own purpose, its own story to tell.

God, I love being in my room. Some people have told me that it’s too cluttered; that it’s good to clear out some wall space. However, while I have had my purging moments and have been deeply satisfied, my walls are truly a reflection of me.

Heck, whenever I change rooms (or houses), I’ll probably cover those walls with quotes too!

This month, a box quote that occupies the windowsill behind my laptop is particularly reaching out to me. I see it every day; it inspires me not only in adventure but in life. 

“The best journeys answer questions you didn’t even think to ask.”

This quote is what I would pick to describe my most recent years. There have been some good, adventurous, life changing moments… and some that have been absolute crap. But all of them have answered questions that I didn’t even think to ask in the first place.

Funny how God works, isn’t it?

This Monday, actually, was an anniversary for me. Two years ago, I started talking to my guardian angel (Zadkiel) and really opened up spiritually. And that’s when things started making sense. It was kind of like a puzzle; I found answers to some weird stuff that happened to me in the past, I gained more confidence in who I was–and in my soul and spirituality–and the pieces all clicked together.

In turn, I started to see the magic in the world around me and I stopped wishing I was somewhere else.

Yes, I did actually have moments in my life where I prayed to God that he would whisk me away to places like Middle-Earth or other alternate realities where I could hang out with characters I loved. Where I could adventure, romance, and just escape the responsibilities of our world. Even at the expense of my own family.

But, now, in the present, I really do love our world, and I’m eternally grateful that I do. I love to explore it, whether through travel or spiritual work. (That’s where I find the magic; the best in human kind.) It’s not solely black and white. You can do something so much deeper than a 9-to-5 job and pay bills. We’re here on this Earth to do important; to love, to live, and maybe even to leave a legacy behind. God has put us all here for a reason, it’s up to us to find it and persevere.

The answers will unveil themselves as long as you’re open to them.

Elton Pope from Doctor Who said it best:

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”

There’s so much to explore! There’s so many journeys to be had! We only have one life to live, what are you waiting for?

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Love, Katie


Bonus: a few days ago I published a video about how this past year has been over all with some extra words of encouragement for those going through tough times.

Check it out if you want:

NOLA 2016!

Hip hip hooray!
It’s here at last!
The week I’m in
Good ol’ N’awlins
It’ll be a gas!
– A quick, weird, possibly terrible poem by yours truly!


Yes! The marathon prep has officially ended and I’m boarding a plane to New Orleans! I’m honestly pleased and surprised at all that I got done. It surely gives me perspective of what a to-do list, a lot of elbow grease, and stubbornness can get done! I’m so excited; I haven’t written so much in ages!

Now is time to rest, recuperate, and enjoy the spoils of my hard work!

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Honestly, there’s not a lot planned around this New Orleans trip. Really the only activity I reserved is seeing a psychic with my sister-in-law, which, hey, it’s NOLA and I’m always curious about what will be said! I know there’s also talk of visiting the shops (including the voodoo ones), seeing the bayou and going to a plantation, which I haven’t done since 2011. (Unfortunately Myrtles is too far away from the French Quarter, so that’ll have to wait for another time… again!)

We’re also looking at taking another Haunted History Tour, preferably the New Orleans Cemetery History Tour and I’ve had my eye on Ghost City Tour’s New Orleans Ghost Hunt Experience, but that one will probably wait until another trip.

Oh, and on another note, I definitely want to see what Pokémon GO looks like down there; maybe I’ll bring home some ghost Pokémon!

All I know is that we’re set to relax and explore, to soak in the wonderful blend of culture that is New Orleans. The music, food, accents, and, of course, legends that surround this place are amazing! It’s such a different vibe from my Ohio hometown, but I truly adore it. Plain and simple: I just love New Orleans! 

Hey, also, if you want to soak in some NOLA vibes for yourself, check out the Youtube video I made last year:

I’ll definitely post another video, at some point during my week in NOLA, on my Youtube Channel and I’ll be sharing pictures, of course, over on Instagram which will then feed to my other social media accounts.

Hope you guys have a great week! New Orleans, here I come!

From Gettysburg to Fall; Time to Create!

Sitting at my laptop.
Apple cider by my side.
Long sleeves.
Typing away.


GOOD LORD did the weather turn! Last week I was in 70 degree Gettysburg, this week: FALL!

Yes. YES, ladies and gents! Fall is back in Ohio! That wondrous time of year! Time for spooky! For a midnight walk in the woods! Leaf crunching! Hot drink of choice! Long sleeves! Cuddles! Halloween!

Yes… this is the time of year I enjoy most.

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I only wish it had felt like this in Gettysburg. Something about tromping through the battlefields in a light jacket, browsing the historic downtown, crunching the occasional leaf. Well, I mean, some of that I did. However, even though the first day of Fall was last week, it didn’t feel like it until this week. Isn’t that what always happens?

Ah. C’est la vie. I still enjoyed being there.

I got to see urban legend hotspots like the Jennie Wade House, Devil’s Den, and Slaughter Pen. Check out the pictures I took:

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The Jennie Wade House. Jennie Wade was the only civilian killed in the Gettysburg war. However, the house is not haunted by her, but her father who was away and missed his daughter’s funeral. 
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Devil’s Den (the stone structure) and Slaughter Pen (the field across the street from Devil’s Den). Both places were occupied by Confederates, while the Union literally slaughtered them on Little Round Top (where I took the picture from). No wonder it’s haunted!

I also took part in a public ghost hunt with the Gettysburg Paranormal Association. It’s one of the few paranormal societies I’ve found that offers to take anyone on an investigation. Almost every night of the year… you just have to buy a ticket. ($35 per person for 9PM to 11PM, $65 for 9PM to 12AM) The perk? You get to use their equipment, experience the haunted locations they take you to, and they give you a certificate from the society, saying you were with them. They also mail whatever evidence was caught that night to your home address. Which is also cool.

GPA aims to teach anyone from newbie to experienced investigator the ins and outs of paranormal investigating. Bonus: they expect you to try out the gadgets you see on TV. I personally was excited to try out a Spirit Box, Dowsing Rods, a temperature gun, and even the Flir camera.

I’ll admit: I was absolutely nervous about seeing a random, unexplained energy form on the Flir. But… I didn’t. It’s probably pretty rare. Lovely overactive imagination.

In the end, my tactics of investigation haven’t changed. I still enjoy walking around haunted locations and sensing the room. For me, I know spirits exist. I know there’s Beings out there we can’t explain. It’s exciting. It makes the world so interesting. Yes, I’m excited for the future where I have kids. But to know that the unexplained exists out there… well it just adds spice.

After all, Tolkien himself said:

“… always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’.”

Ah. Speaking of the unexplained, check out this picture:

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On the edge of the battlefields, I caught this picture of an orb floating above the fence. Enlarge it, and you’ll see this orb is not the only one. Maybe some soldiers are reminiscing, visiting where they once fought.

The purpose of this Gettysburg trip was to get away, by myself, and explore a new location. Whether it be haunted or not. I wanted to have one last exploration before I settled in for the latter part of the year. The time where I really love to be home and write. Plain and simple. Fall brings forward ceaseless inspiration. Honestly, if I didn’t need to sleep or eat, I could probably churn out multiple books in this three month period.

So, now I settle in for the “cold months”, hard at work on my novel’s completion. It will be circulating to agents soon. I can’t wait for you guys to read it!

Memories of An English Excursion: The Taxicab Driver

Alrighty! Well I’m pleasantly surprised to find I did journal about the taxicab driver when I was in England. All this weekend I’ve been submitting to journals. Yesterday was Chicken Soup for the Soul. Today I’m aiming for the Silver Linings Writing Contest and one other.

The “other” being… of a mature rating… of a certain kind of anthology…

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…. and also I may not get to it. We’ll see.

(Update: I know I’m not getting to it, so I’m not stressing. T’was low on my list. ANYWAYS.)

So, for my Silver Lining, I am reading through my England journalings. Back in 2009, I signed up for a study abroad program at Lancaster University. I was shy, scared, and on my own. For the first time in any of my travels. It’s one thing to travel alone for the first time in your home country. But another to travel alone for the first time in a completely new country.

My emotions were accurate.

The most memorable moment of my England jaunt was when I went to London to visit an American family. They were relatives of a woman at church and I promised I would connect with them. Around the time of Thanksgiving, I did. We had a wonderful visit. I was pleasantly surprised to find them with an American-English Thanksgiving feast in their kitchen. Honestly, I really hadn’t expected it. And I had been missing home. I remember at their house, I forgot I was in England.

The whole visit was a wonderful recharge from culture shock. Because of them, I could get through my finals that would start in a few weeks.

Man, I forgot how tough college is sometimes. Especially abroad.

So on the adventure back to Lancaster (in Northeast England — up between Manchester and The Lake District), it definitely took smarts.

  • The American family saw me off in Ely.
  • Train from Ely to Birmingham.
  • Train from Birmingham to Preston.
  • Train from Preston to Lanc–

–well, that’s when we hit a speed bump.

The train from Preston to Lancaster had been cancelled. It was 10PM. Thirty miles to Lancaster. No other trains were coming.

So. Close.

How was I to get back to my dorm? Was I to wait for the morning? Get a hotel room? Miss my Monday classes?

Cue Angelic interference. Three women I had talked to on the train disembarked. They saw my deer-in-the-headlight expression. They were headed to Lancaster too. Or past it. I don’t remember. All I remember: they were headed in the same direction.

Could they drop me off? Nope. Of course their car was full.

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However, the women did help me in another way. There were taxicabs lined up outside of the station. Waiting for a customer.

“Can someone give me a ride to Lancaster University?” I mumbled. Tired. Frustrated. Shy. Uncertain.

The drivers sprung into action. They bickered over who would take the large fair. In hindsight, I realized it was rare for most drivers to make a £45 fare. Honestly, I consider it a win-win for both of us. I really didn’t want to stay in a hotel, so I was happy to pay him. Like Kismet, I had the perfect amount of cash in my wallet — for fare and a generous tip.

10:00PM. Cab ride, Preston to Lancaster University.

The Indian driver and I chat here and there. I take in the M2 Motorway. Lancaster University was in the countryside, just outside of Lancaster itself. So I really hadn’t had the opportunity to take in a highway or city life. I did get to walk around London by myself for twenty minutes, and now I get to view the highway. Definitely an alluring sight.

The driver pipes up suddenly. The words that come out of his mouth floor me.

“You are gorgeous!” He says.

I’m sure my expression followed the Emoji: (⊙﹏⊙✿)

“Uh… thanks.” I stammer. At that point in my life I wasn’t really confident in my appearance. Especially because I had lost half of my weight before England through a starvation diet, only to gain it back during my three month stay.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” Asks the driver.

“Uh. Yeah.”

“Does he take care of you?”

“Yup.”

“Do you… ‘gupti-gupti’ with boyfriend?”

Again,  (⊙﹏⊙✿)

“Uh… uh. Yeah.”

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I mean, come on, what else was I going to say? I wasn’t sure where this conversation was leading… and frankly I didn’t go there. I wanted to get home. So I did what my parents raised me to do: politely change the subject.

Ten minutes later, I was back on Lancaster University. The memory behind me.

Honestly, looking back on that memory now, I chalk it up to a great story to tell. A travel story of my own. Almost six years later, I’m on my way to becoming the woman I always wanted to be. Maybe, just maybe, this cab driver was seeing what I couldn’t see: confidence, beauty, intelligence, and a passion for exploring the world.

Even if I was so shy back then, I am proud I made it through. I accomplished what I thought was impossible: a study abroad, with good marks, and a heck of a lot experience under my belt. Now, in 2015, I’m a passionate writer, an anxious explorer, and ready to take on the world. That is my Silver Lining.

Look out. Here I come.

Return to New Orleans!

I’m sitting here, Layover with Anthony Bourdain playing in the background as I write this. His show has really become a favorite of mine. Second only to Expedition Unknown.

Like Josh Gates, Anthony Bourdain celebrates culture. However, he does it through food, while Josh does it through legends. Both are travelers, explorers, intellectuals, and passionate modern historians. With awesome personalities.

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Now why is this relevant to my blog post about New Orleans?

First, excuse me.

I’M GOING TO BE IN NEW ORLEANS TOMORROW! FOR A WEEK!! 

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The first time I went to New Orleans was as a graduation present in 2011. I had my Bachelor’s degree in creative writing, the horizon looked endless, and I wanted to try something new.

Since Halloween 2010, I had really ramped up my interest in the paranormal. Thanks to Ghost Hunter’s Waverly Hills Halloween Special, I had, yet again, started researching into the things that go bump in the night. The things that still made my spine crawl at the possibility. Was that really a draft? Or was the door pushed by something else? What were ghosts? How do people investigate haunted locations?

I marathoned Ghost Hunters and continued my research into the paranormal field.

And then I came across Destination Truth, GH’s “sister show” with host — guess who — Josh Gates.

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Yup. Actual quote there.

Long story short, both my interests in paranormal legends and travel were stimulated, as well as, distantly, my writing. Although, I will admit in the years between 2011 and the present, I was less inclined to write… and wanted to explore. After all, isn’t that what all post-college students do? Find themselves outside of the academic world in one way or another?

New Orleans helped me find myself. I discovered that there was a place in the world where people could be exactly who they wanted to be. That helps them discover it, in a place without judgement. In turn, watching all the eclectic, culture-filled people that live in New Orleans makes a person realize that the strongest criticism — the one we listen to and fear — is inside of ourselves.

New Orleans is… just so hard to describe. Seriously. Maybe, in fact, that’s the perfect description of the Southern Culture Hub. Jackson Square is always packed with a combination of tourists and street performers, mystics and shoppers. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can catch a traditional wedding party leaving the St. Louis Cathedral. There’s music everywhere and people dance to it… just because they’re moved to.

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(Those are pictures I took in 2011)

But I’m also excited for the people I’m with to experience New Orleans. My brother, Camille, and Dan. As far as I know, they’ve never been there. (If my memory serves correct) And I’m really excited for Dan to experience his first major travel. He’s only had car trips before… so flying and New Orleans is going to be a completely different world for him.

I’m excited to return. To see New Orleans in a different light. New Orleans helped me become myself. The Wondering Writer who isn’t afraid to jump in the deep end.

So… take your breath… here we go.

Travel

Post-Midwest Writers

Honest to God, I loved this conference. Man, it’s been SO LONG since I was in a writer’s workshop. Literally, I haven’t gone to one since college. Three years ago. And I discovered that I was really out of practice with some writing techniques. So I re-learned some new and old pointers (for example: passive vs active sentences and avoiding “to be” words) and I got to socialize + network with some very talented people. Writers, agents, and otherwise.

Aaaand…. I pitched to an agent. Haaaahhhh… I was so nervous. But she was SO ATTENTIVE AND KIND. Annnd… yeah. I’m working really hard to finish my book. Because. Things happened.

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I also decided that I’m going to build an official website and send out a… bi-monthly newsletter. I believe. Still planning.

All of this will come to fruition after Nashville next weekend. *pinches nose*

OH. Check out these videos I filmed on Wednesday (I didn’t have the capability to post them here… until now):

If there are any writers out there looking for a warm, welcoming, helpful, affordable, and FUN conference… CHECK OUT MIDWEST WRITERS. I really suggest it. It’s… just amazing.
Click here for more information: Midwest Writers
Tomorrow I begin my loooooong four hour trek home.
I will catch you all back in Wooster!
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