2017 Liebster Award Nomination

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Travel, Tea and Me has been nominated for the 2017 Liebster Award. Nominations for Liebster Award come from other bloggers. I’m very thankful to have received this recognition from the blogging community.

Liebster in German means my favorite, dearest, or beloved. This award was originally for blogs with less than 2,000 followers and dates back to 2011. It recognizes and inspires new blogs / bloggers. The Liebster Award provides these blogs with exposure on the internet. It is also a great way for them to connect with and support the blogging community.

For more information on the Liebster Award go to:

My thanks to fellow travel bloggers Cath and Ian from Possess the World for nominating Travel, Tea and Me for the 2017 Liebster Award. I originally connected with them on twitter. They take their blog name from a quote by American Traveler and writer Elias Burton Holmes, “to travel is to possess the world.” Cath and Ian feel that “experiencing destinations slowly is more enjoyable than running from city to city to see the sites” and you see that reflected in their blog. Together they have visited 25 countries. They share their travel tales, tips and information at: http://www.possesstheworld.com; Twitter: @possesstheworld; Instagram: @possesstheworld

Favorite Blog:

One of my favorite blogs is Hello Jetlag. She loves drinking and travel. I love her pictures – so stink’n cute! I have been reading her blog for several months. I was scrolling through my twitter (@HelloJetlag) and her pictures of London really stood out. It was her pictures that got me and then I started reading her blog posts. She has a great post on afternoon tea at Pink Restaurant in London. She’s just doing her things (as a freelance make-up artist) and sharing her journey with the world. I feel like she keeps it simple, real and I that.

I also like Planes, Trains and Champagne – Christine blogs about her passion for traveling and fashion. Two of my favorite things. Twitter: @PTandChampagne

Ten Random Facts About Myself: 

  • I love boots (especially combat boots). I wear them with everything: pants, dresses, skirts, shorts.
  • I worked in many art mediums (acrylic paint, water colors, clay, fabric), but drawing with sharpies is probably my favorite. I always have paper and several colors with me.
  • I’m short (5 foot ¾ inches tall) but I ran hurdles and pole-vaulted in high school.
  • I did not like tea until I did a semester abroad in London.
  • I like K-Pop (Korean pop music).
  • My favorite poet is Edgar Allen Poe.
  • I worked for Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.
  • I cut my own hair once and it has never grown back as long (but I wish it would).
  • My favorite show is Dr Who.
  • I’m fascinated by string theory.

Who / What Inspires you to travel?

My mom inspired me to travel. She grew up moving every year or two. I grew up in the same city and for most of my life the same house. Then, I met someone who did not like to travel and as we talked I realized I did not want to stay in the same city my whole life. I wanted to go on a planes and trains. I wanted to see Washington DC and New York City. My mom told me about a trip we took to Washington DC when I was one years old. Of course I could not remember anything about the experience. What good was that. I wanted to go on every school trip. I even joined choir, not because I liked to sing, but because I knew they were going on an out-of-state trip. We went to Chicago and it was fantastic. After a semester abroad in college I was really hooked. I want to see everything – the whole world. So, I started making a list of places I wanted to go and thinking about jobs that would allow me to travel. Then an opportunity with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus opened up – I flew out to North Carolina to meet up with the circus train and I’ve been traveling every since.

How has traveling changed your life.

I have always liked learning about other cultures, but traveling has made me more considerate of others. You cannot really understand what it is like for immigrants in the US until you go to another country and try to make your way around without knowing the language, culture, rules or just day-to-day basics of how they do things. While I would not say I know exactly what it’s like to move your family to another country I do have some insight and more importantly empathy.

My eating habits certainly changed. I hated tea before staying in London and came back a fan. Also I was a staving college student in London, so I cooked more and ate less processed / fast food. I had to be more conscience of what I ate. My portion sizes decreased and my activity level increased. I walked everywhere while I was in England and when I traveled to France and Italy. I felt great!

Traveling has also made it really hard to stay still. If I’m in the same place for 2-3 months that wanderlust kicks in and I get the feeling that I need to go somewhere – do something. The more I travel … the more I want to travel.

Do you prefer the country or the city? Why?

I love the hustle and bustle of the city – everyone one smooshed together. I like being able to experience different cultures in one place – like New York City. You can get a meal 24/7. There is always some place to go and something to do. I prefer a hotel room to a tent, but I do enjoy the outdoors. I love going to the beaches in Southern California or driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. Central Park in New York is wonderful and I try to visit a park in every city I go to. Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite places. If I had to pick I think I would live in the city, but I would still visit the country.

Who are the 3 people you would invite to dinner if it could be anyone? And why?

This is a hard question to narrow down. If we are talking fiction – the 11th Doctor. In real life my choices would be the following:

  • Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) – Author of “Oh, The places you’ll go.” I can’t read it without crying. My elementary school teacher Mrs. Semrick gave me a copy when I graduated from high school. Dr. Seuss made me love books from a very young age.
  • JK Rowling – all of the Harry Potter books. I went through a time in school where I hated reading and then the Harry Potter Series came out. I started listening to them on tape, but my mom made me follow along in the book too and soon I was reading again. By the time I got to book 5 I had ditched the tapes.
  • 3) David Attenborough – If my life was a movie I would want him to be the narrator.

What do you think of the selfie stick?

I think it’s helpful when you are taking a group picture. It can also be dangerous.  I have seen people  trying to take it places where it doesn’t belong like roller coasters. I like taking pictures at different angles. I’m short and it helps me take pictures at different angles when I’m traveling alone. As a matter-of-fact a need a new one.

My Liebster Award nominations:

Nominees please review the official 2017 Liebster Award rules listed here: (https://theglobalaussie.com/blog/liebster-award-2017/) and answer the five questions below in post on your blog:

1) If you could go anywhere in the world for a day where would you go and why?

2) 3 people dinner

3) Who/What inspires you to travel?

4)If you could be any animal mythical or real what would it be and would your significant other be the same animal or a different one?

5) how has traveling changed your life

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Why You Should Visit Yosemite This Summer and at Least Once Each Season

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I love standing on the bridge at the base of Yosemite falls surrounded by the mist generated from the force of the water hitting the rocks below. I hike up there with my family almost every time we go to the park, but this year was the most intense.

#TravelTusday. No it's not raining. We are standing on the bridge looking at Yosemite Falls!

A post shared by Rose Jones (@travelteaandme) on

Coming back from the bridge by Yosemite Falls – really cold, but it felt awesome!

A post shared by Rose Jones (@travelteaandme) on

After five years of drought California experienced its wettest winter in 122 years during the 2016/2017 season leading to a record snow pack. Officially there are 21 named falls in Yosemite but, right now there are hundreds of active falls in the park including some that have been dried up for years. They are so loud you can hear them from the Wawona Tunnel view to the top of Glacier Point. The views are stunning. While the falls are naturally at their fullest when the snow is melting in April and May it’s still worth going, but get there as soon as you can because they naturally dry up from the heat of the summer. By August some of them may have dried up again.

Waterfalls in Yosemite

Waterfall

Thanks to photographers like Ansel Adams there are many iconic photos of Yosemite, but like most things in nature pictures cannot do it justice. You have to see it in person. National Parks are a living breathing place. The views change as the trees grow and seasons change. To get a real feel for Yosemite, I recommend you visit at least once during each season. It is like seeing a different park each time. Even though most of the trees are ever green in the fall you will still see a few trees with leaves changing – yellows fading into orange, scarlet, burnt sienna, golden rod. Artists have been inspired by Yosemite for years. The Yosemite Art Center offers classes from March through October.

In the winter there is snow and frozen lakes. Chains may be required and some of the back roads are closed but as I said it is worth going during each season at least once. If you stay at the Tenaya Lodge in the winter they have sledding and ice skating but also an indoor swimming pool.

Due to allergies I’m not a fan of spring anywhere, but it is a beautiful time to see Yosemite in bloom and maybe catch sight of a baby deer. Also this is when the falls are at their fullest.

You will have the best access to the park in the summer. It is my favorite time to visit. One of my most memorable visits was summer 2015 during the drought. We were able to hike up to the base of the lowers falls and jump off of rocks into the water. During this year’s visit the falls were so full I’m not even sure those rocks were visible.

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Yosemite Falls

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Yosemite Falls

If you’re going for the first time I recommend you stop at the historic Pioneer Village right after you enter the park. It’s crazy to look back at a time when people traveled to Yosemite by carriages and on horseback.

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Then drive up to Glacier Point to see more of the park, a birds eye view of the valley and a closer view of half dome.

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Glacier Point girls

With my sisters in front of half dome

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View of Yosemite Falls from Glacier Point

From there you should drive down to the valley stopping at the vista point to the left as you exit the Wawona tunnel. This is where you get your first view of Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls and the valley below.

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Wawona Tunnel vista point

From there you can continue down to Yosemite village, park and take a shuttle to the trail that leads to the bridge at the bottom of Yosemite falls. Make sure you get pictures of Yosemite falls and Half Dome from the each location and different angles.

Another great way to travel through the park is on bicycles. I did that one year with my parents and siblings. We parked at Yosemite village and rode around on our bikes instead of taking the shuttles. It was one of our best trips.

Yosemite is a special place for me filled with fond memories of family adventures. My dad worked there as a teenager and tells the same stories every year that some never get old. There are parts of the park where you cannot get phone reception and that break from the world is a great time to reconnect with family, friends and nature. People from all over the world come see the wonders of this National Park. You’ll hear multiple languages being spoken, but no one arguing. Everyone always seems to get along. I would encourage you to go and make some special memories of your own.

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Glacier Point

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The Last Train Run To Uniondale And How The Circus Took a Piece Of My Heart

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The final Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey show is over and I’m waiting for the circus goers to file out of the arena. Many of them will decide they need one more souvenir and stop by my table before they leave. I can hear Johnathan Lee Iverson, the ringmaster, speaking to the audience one last time. I have seen the show in its entirety from the stands as a spectator before I joined the tour. I have worked at the last 100 shows. This is not his normal farewell to the crowd It is his final farewell to them, to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, to a way of life that has existed for 146 years. He reminds us that Ringling Brothers has been around longer than Coke or Major League Baseball and it’s not just a job it’s a community. Circus is family. I didn’t break down, I wasn’t in tears at my table, but I did leave a little piece of my heart with the circus that night.

(you can still watch the last performance in it’s entirety on on YouTube – link below)

 

I am not an overly sentimental person. The fact is I laughed through several scenes of Les Miserable that not are not traditionally thought of as funny (don’t judge). While most women are naturally comforting, I am probably not the best person for you to come to if you just broke up with your boyfriend /girlfriend or your dog just died. I have experienced heartbreak, but I would rather eat a pint of ice cream and go see a movie than feel those feelings. Besides I arrived at the circus after they announced it was closing down in May. So, I did not think it would affect me at all.  I came for the last hurrah, the final adventure, one last opportunity to peek behind the curtain of the “Greatest Show on Earth”. The people down on the floor with the ringmaster that last night hugging friends and kissing loved ones had spent a lifetime with the circus. They had been saying good bye to fans for months and now they were saying good bye to their friends, their neighbors, their community, and their way of life. Earlier that evening my mom sent a picture of a letter she received from RBBB the year I was born. It came with a ticket they could use anytime (and did) to take me to my first performance. I was doing well until then, but when I saw that letter that started “the feels” and our Ringmaster words delivered the final blow.

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Truthfully these feelings may have had their start in my youth. My dad likes animals and the circus. He grew up with both and thought we should too. So, he brought home dogs, bunnies, chickens, fish, a cockatiel, a quail… We did not see the circus perform ever year but we went to multiple performances and he always took the four of us to watch the parade of animals as they made their way from the train to the arena (that was his favorite part). Mind you we had a membership to the zoo and saw animals there all the time, but the circus was different. Everything was pageantry. Everything was a show. Seeing elephants march by on a warm summer day in central California felt like a once in a life time experience – every time. At some point school interfered with this tradition, but those images and the experience are ingrained in my memory.

Then again they may have started shortly after I started working with the circus and began to hear everyone’s stories: performers who were 3rd, 4th, 5th generation circus; some who continued on with the show in different roles once they performance days were over to stay with their circus family; staff who had been here 30, 40, 50 years now planning to retire; the girl who came to the circus after she served in the military and two years in told her dad to sell her house because she had found her home.

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It might have been the last train run for the final performances in Uniondale, NY. Most traveling shows get from place to place on charter buses and planes, but once again, Ringling is unique. They are the only circus with a private train. This city on wheels carrying tiny homes within the train cars (for people and animals), the pie car (for dinning), costumes and equipment. I have traveled by train many times, all over the world, but nothing compares to the experience of a RBBB train run. I had never been able to poke my head out the car and feel the wind in my hair or have the experience of a club atmosphere complete with a DJ as the train traveled down the tracks.  As with everything Ringling, even the train just passing through a town brings a since of wonder and awe. People stopped at the train crossing get out of their cars to watch the famous circus train. In cities parents camped out with their kids and in rural areas they stood out on the front porch or their backyards. Photographers chased the circus train for miles in every city, every state. Fans made signs to show their love and everyone waved including the circus folk. It did not matter if they had been with the circus for a few years or generations they still took the time to marvel at the beautiful view of our country and wave back to the people.

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It’s impossible really to put into words the “Ringling” experience – even if you are only there a few months. The veterans told me stories about the “old” circus. I found out the best shows were early morning practices in the arena and in the train yard at night. I thought it would be an adventure and the opportunity to be part of history. It was all that, but if I’m being honest it was also life changing. I’ve always been a little quirky. I’m too nerdy for the cool kids. I’m interested in string theory. I like watching Nova. I listen to NPR on the Radio and Korean pop on my iPod. I’m not geeky enough for the nerds. I wear all black. I like to pair lace ruffled skirts with combat boots. I struggled in school, but I can put things together without reading the directions. I played sports and performed with color guard. I was too sporty for the guard girls and too artsy for the athletes. Then I came to the circus and I for the first time I really felt like I belonged. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all rainbows and roses. You can’t put 100 plus people on a train who are around each other 24 /7 and be drama free. Plus the circus is a close family – a tight knit community. So, I’m pretty sure I got the newbie treatment, but I also experienced kindness and helping hands. I felt I fit in here, in a way I had not anywhere else. I found myself wishing that I could continue to live in the city with no zip code. The circus life, just like the show, draws you in and you never want it to end.

There is a famous quote from Dr Suess. “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Right now it’s hard to feel that way, but I’m young and I have some wonderful opportunities ahead of me. That said, life is really about two things and neither of them can be bought at the store. It’s about the experiences you have and the people you meet along the way. I have met people working for the Ringling Brothers circus from all over the world who lived together and worked together to create something which will never be duplicated. A few months here has given me a lifetime of experiences. I will forever be grateful.

Three Restaurants to Try This Week in Amsterdam

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Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/

I recently connected with Kevin Renes sous-chef at Elvi  in Utrecht.

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(Photo provided by Kevin Renes)

He enjoys food and wine (obviously) and I normally enjoy his “foodie” pics on Instagram, but this weeks post was  in honor of Dodenherdenking. I saw several posts on social media including Kevin’s, but was not familiar with the history of the region. As Kevin shared with me “the 4th of May we remember people who sacrificed their lives in war for our freedom.” During this time the Netherlands pay their respects to the victims and fallen soldiers of World War II. They remember, they honor and then on the 5th of May they celebrate – Liberation Day. While I enjoy seeing the sites, travel also affords a great opportunity to learn about the history of the region first hand. You can find more information on Dodenherdenking and Liberation Day at www.iamsterdam.com

There are little festivals all over the country during Liberation Day and of course food is a part of the celebrations. If you find yourself in Amsterdam this week or anytime soon, Kevin recommends the following restaurants:

Red Tournedos & Kreeft if you want to eat a good tenderloin or lobster or both!

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(photo credit: Red website)

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(photo credit: Red website)

Daalder Amsterdam is a new restaurant in Amsterdam – just really good food and wine.

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(photo credit:  Daalder website)

Rijsel – Great restaurant, very classic, Bib Gourmand rating ( the Bib Gourmand rating means the restaurant is an inspector’s favorite for good value – source: Michelin).

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photo credit: Rijsel website

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photo credit: Rijsel website

Lastly Kevin recommends door 74 for the best cocktails in Amsterdam!

For more delightful food, wine and travel photos you can follow Kevin on twitter @Chef_KevinRenes and Instagram @chef_kevin_renes.

Getting Things Done and Happy Accidents

The circus train’s next stop after Raleigh NC was Philadelphia; home of Independence Hallthe Liberty Bell, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I didn’t get to see any it because we had a schedule that didn’t really allow for sight seeing like I had hoped. Getting things done on the job comes first. Sometime things do not go as planned and you just have to accept it and move on. I did, however, manage to take in not one but two authentic Philly Cheesesteaks. I tried one from Pat’s King of Steaks and one from Geno’s Steaks. I am not comparing the two, it’s just a fact. Everyone one tells you if a cheese steak is not from Philly they are not real cheese steaks – they are right. I thought I knew what Cheese Whiz was and I was not a fan. You know the stuff you spray out of a can on crackers. Somehow the Cheese Whiz in Philly tastes different, better and I dare say amazing when combined with the grilled onions and meat. I am normally a bit of a foodie, but I make exception for this combination. I wish I could include a picture of the actual sandwich, but I went taste testing with a friend and one we unwrapped them they were devoured before a picture could be snapped. Since experiencing the local cuisine is as important to me as seeing the sights, Philly was not a total bust.

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It’s my last day in Philadelphia, I’m listening to electric violinist Lindsey Stirling and thinking our next show location — Brooklyn.  The train will be parked in Newark for three weeks so I will definitely have a few days off to explore New York City. I do not want a repeat of Philly. Part of my whole reason in taking the job was to see the sites, visit new cities or go to places I had not been during previous visits.

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Last Day in Philly. Brooklyn here we come! (the circus train)

One of the nice things about the job has been opportunity to hang out with a friend from high school named Paul. He is also working for the circus and helped me to get a job too. Our first chance to go into New York we took the subway, but got off on the wrong stop just before the bridge instead after like we planned. So we ended up walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. At first I was upset, but it turned out to be one of many happy accidents. It was a wonderful way to see the city skyline. There is actually a walking tour if you have the time and interest. The view from the bridge is amazing and I would have missed that underground on the subway. There is also a tie-in with my current circus life. When the bridge was first opened it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Since several suspension bridges had collapsed,  P.T. Barnum let 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge in 1884 to prove that it was safe. Things do not always go as planned. Sometimes you have to get over it. Sometimes they turn out better.

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Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge

 

Once we got into the city, we went to Rockefeller center. Few cities have more iconic spots than New York City, and Rockefeller Center is one of them. I love ice skating. Paul had never been before. To have your first time ice skating be at Rockefeller center is pretty extraordinary. If I am being honest, Paul was not excited about the idea and took a little convincing, but, he ended up having a great time and that is a big part of travel. You have to be open to trying something new. You have to be open to venturing out of your comfort zone. That is what travel is all about. Those are the experiences that change your life and make lasting memories.

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Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center.

— You have to be open to venturing out of your comfort zone. That is what travel is all about. Those are the experiences that change your life and make lasting memories. —

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One of the things I love about New York City is that art is everywhere not just in museums. This piece was  in the middle of Time’s Square.

Getting things done is part of my off days too: laundry, store runs, other personal errands. Touring with the circus a lifestyle not a vacation. While the circus train was parked in Newark, NJ, I finally had time to find a FedEx store and ship back those steel toe boots from my first blog post. Paul and I once again headed into the city on a mission to find FedEx office. We passed several things we knew we wanted to see so once they were shipped we had some time to be tourists.

Paul wanted to see the 9/11 memorial. I had been there a few years ago, but I did not mind making another trip for him. The first time I went was during a high school trip with chaperones and a tour guide. This time I was able to go where ever I wanted and Paul and I ended up wandering over to O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub after. We sat down and ordered burgers and fries. We started to get the feeling while we were there that this was a famous restaurant, but had no idea until weeks later the significance. On 9/11 O’Hara’s was one of the places where locals were gathered together and witnessed the horrors of the day. Later it would be a place where emergency workers came to rest. Today tourists wander in (like we did) and workers from the rebuilt World Trade Center meet at the end of the day. Once again we unknowingly stumbled across something that turned out to be special. Something we will always remember.

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Photo credit: O’hara’s Pub & Restaurant

Hello Charlotte and Why You Should Always Check Your Purchases

It’s day one in Charlotte, NC – my first day of work with the circus. I go to put on my brand new steel toe boots and I have two right boots. Ugh! The sales girl put them back in the wrong box (I promise you I had a left and a right when I tried them on).

The lesson here: You should always check your purchases before you leave the store, especially when they are for travel or you are traveling. It seems like anytime you do not “inspect what you expect” things are more likely to go wrong and that’s especially challenging when you are on the road. That said, if you travel enough you are going to hit some pot holes and seasoned travelers learn to roll with the punches.

I’m in no position to go back and exchange them since I’m in North Carolina and I bought the boots in California. They also do not have any retail locations in North Carolina. I cannot order anything online, because I live … on … a … train. So, I don’t have a permanent address were my purchase can be shipped (on this upside this will cut down on the Amazon shopping habit I seemed to have acquired over the last year). I’m not sure how I’m going to find another pair of steel toe boots or how this will affect my first day. At least I have my combat boots.

2/3/2017: It’s Friday and I had to be on the bus that takes us from the train to the arena at 6:00 am for the 10:00 am show (did I mention that I’m not a morning person). Most of the vendors carry a pole with 40 bags on it, but at  5’ ¾’ I’m finding this more than a little challenging. That said, I used to run hurdles and pole vault. So, the athlete in me says, “Challenge accepted.” It’s just a matter of time. By the way tying cotton candy bags “fast” is not as easy as it looks (I’m just saying).

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First day!

Walmart carries steel toe boots. Thank goodness! Like I said in my first post, you don’t have to pack everything. Most of the places you visit will have a store and you will be able to find what you need. Now, I need to find a FedEx office so I can ship the two two right boots home and have them returned – at least I kept the receipt.

2/4/2017: It’s 6:30 am and it’s 27 °F. I’m pretty sure is 70 something in Southern Cal right now, but travel is more important than warmth. That said, I’m glad I picked up a new jacket before I left. It’s freak’n cold!

Feeling happy! I have been adopted into the cotton candy family. I have been given a nick name which is classified, but I’m pretty sure it means she who holds open bags (while they are filled with cotton candy).

2/9/2017: It’s our first show in Raleigh, NC. It’s warmer here that it was in Charlotte and my cotton candy bag tying skills are improving and so is my speed.

2/10/2017: I finally got a chance to check out Raleigh, NC. I stopped by the cutest little thrift shop and picked up a tea cup and saucer so that I can enjoy a proper cup while traveling. I have also picked up some English breakfast tea. All is well in my world. Traveling for work is not the same as traveling for vacation, but you can still create moments for yourself.

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How I Arrived at the Circus and Why I Packed Light

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When I graduated from high school I moved from Fresno down to Southern California. I loved going to the beach, and hanging out in Hollywood, but I wanted to travel. So, I did a semester abroad in London and then spent a couple of weeks traveling through France and Italy doing the youth hostel thing. I returned to the U.S., lived on the east coast for a few months then headed back to California. I was getting the itch to travel again. I was thinking about getting in my car and just driving when I got the opportunity to work for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

It was just what I wanted – a job that would allow me to travel (sure I was hoping for Europe or Asia, but I’ll take it). I found out I got the job a Saturday, January 29th, but I had to meet the circus train in North Carolina on Monday, January 31st (how’s that for fast). I was not even sure I could get a flight. “Do I go?” I wanted to go, but suddenly the reality of it was a little scary. Heart racing, I found a reasonable rate through Delta and booked the flight. “Wow, I’m doing this.” This was not my first time away from home. I’d been living with family in SoCal on and off for four years. I’d gone to the UK and Europe. Somehow this was different and it was all happening so fast. I was excited and scared and excited!

I knew I would be gone for at least four months and I didn’t have much time to pack. I considered packing like I did for my semester abroad. It was about the same amount of time. When I went to London, I took a suitcase so big I could have packed myself inside (okay so I’m only 5’ ¾” – it was still a big suit case). For that trip I wanted to make sure I had an outfit for every occasion (school, afternoon tea, going out, meeting Benedict Cumberbatch – it could have happened) and lots of shoe choices (even though I usually wear combat boots). I also wanted to take extra toiletries and hair stuff in case I could not find what I needed there (curly hair requires a lot of product).

Then I thought about the two weeks I spent traveling through France and Italy. They call it backpacking for a reason and that was all I took with me. I stored the big suitcase with a friend. It was a no frills trip, and while my friends were dragging their suitcases over cobble stones I was walking around hands free. We also traveled by train during that trip and I knew I would be living on a train while working for the circus. That meant minimal living space and almost no storage (think tiny house but smaller).

Working for the circus would not be a luxury trip. There probably would not be anywhere on the circus train to store that big suitcase. So, I opted to pack light. I took a Samsonite carry-on, a duffel bag and the trusty backpack that got me through Europe. I would be able to store the duffel bag and the backpack in the suit case if necessary.

I called the person processing new employee paperwork. She told me I needed black pants – no denim, no stretch, no skinny (um those are the only black pants I own). Steel toe boots were also required (my combat boots would not count – really). She continued on with a list of things I should have including: white t-shirts to go under my work shirts, shower shoes, towel, etc. Clearly this required a trip to the store. After that I packed the work clothes, the steel toe boots, along with  few essentials like jeans, and some cute tops. I never pack my combat boots – plus they take up to much room in my suitcase, but I recommend slide on shoes for everyone else. It’s easier to get through airport security.

I have noticed that people who travel a lot tend to pack light. Unless you have money and some to help carry your luggage I recommend you keep it simple. As long as you’re headed to a decent sized city you should be able to buy whatever you need when you get where you’re going (let’s hope the stores back east have my hair products, because I don’t have enough with me to last four months).

A few packing tips:

1) Start with the basics necessities toiletries, underwear, shirts, jeans/khakis, etc. Pack those items first.

2) Now expand from here based on your where you are going and what you are going to do (location, weather, event). It is always worth the time to plan ahead – even when you are packing in a hurry. Pick things that mix and match, that can be casual or dressy. A black t-shirt that can go with jeans, but be dressed up with a jacket or blazer. A simple dress you can dress down with flats or dress up with heels and jewelry (or combat boots – maybe that’s just me). Pack more solid colors than prints. For this trip I basically packed enough clothes for two weeks – then: WASH. RINSE. REPEAT.

3) Pack more tops than bottoms. You can wear jeans multiple times before washing, but usually tops can only be worn once. Pants also take up more room. For two weeks I would pack 10-15 tops, but only 5-6 bottoms.

4) When actually packing clothes I found prefer rolling (instead of folding) my cloth. It has always helped to more into a carry on or weekender bag.

5) Plastic bags. Plastic bags. Plastic bags. They are godsend if you pack a liquid or a solid that can leak or melt. Put it in a plastic bag that seals so they cannot ruin your clothes or any other item in your suitcase. They are also good for separating  underwear and socks while traveling – clean v. dirty.

6) If you are going to check a bag with the airlines make sure you have at least one complete change of clothes in your carry on and any thing essential with you (just in case you and your luggage don’t meet up right away).

There are some great travel hacks in the video below…

 

I left LAX (Los Angeles, CA) on Monday at 6:30 am PST and arrive at CLT (Charlotte, NC) at 4:17 pm EST. I was supposed to call as soon as I arrived to get the address to the Circus train location. My phone … had … no … signal (to say I panicked would be an understatement). Thank goodness for airport wifi, facetime and mothers (specifically mine). On the upside my luggage and I had both arrived in Charlotte (so at least there was that). Fifteen minutes later I had the address to where the train was parked, was climbing into an Uber and my phone had figured out how to find a signal on the east coast. Let the new adventure begin!

170131_DJ on Circus train

Me in my room on the circus train.