Wanderlust

Does anyone else besides me think “wanderlust” is a strange word? For some reason, I really don’t care for it.

Regardless of how I feel about the word, I definitely have the condition. I love traveling. (But let’s be honest, who doesn’t?)

I’ve been very blessed over the course of my life thus far with amazing travel opportunities. I jaunted around Europe for three weeks in 2007 with the Kansas Ambassadors of Music (being a band nerd has its benefits!), spent several weeks in Guatemala in 2010 shooting a documentary photography assignment, and I lived in southern Spain for almost two months in 2011 for my college internship. I’ve also traveled around quite a bit in the States.

And I’ve found that no matter where I go, I always enjoy myself. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place I didn’t like. There is always beautiful new scenery to see and photograph and fun adventures to be had.

Just typing this out is stirring up the wanderlust in my soul. (For real though, somebody needs to coin a new term for that awful word.)

I was talking with a coworker several months back who also has the *ahem* wanderlust, and he told me about his goal to visit three new places per year. They don’t have to be far off lands, just a place he has never been to before.

I thought that was such a great idea, I adopted the goal myself.

So where did I go this year?

Let me tell you. It will be like a digital field trip!

1 – Shreveport, LA
One of my best friends and I were alone in town over Memorial Day weekend this year. All of our other friends had abandoned us for their own holiday travels and we decided that they couldn’t have all the fun. So on a spur of the moment decision, we packed our bags and drove six hours to Shreveport to take in the annual Mudbug Festival. We listened to cajun/zydeco music, walked around some neat art vendor booths and ate both our weights in crawfish, boiled taters and corn on the cob. It was wonderful. I’m all about any trip that involves tasty local food!

Crawfish at the Mudbug Festival

Yes, I ate all of this at the Mudbug Festival. It was so much food but so delicious!

2 – Chicago, IL
I spent the night on the floor in O’Hare once because of a flight cancellation, but I don’t count that as having visited Chicago at all, so this summer was my first official time in the city. I went for a work trip and got to attend BlogHer ’13 (so cool!). Most of my time was spent at the conference, but a coworker and I got in one morning sightseeing. We went to Navy Pier, Millennium Park, The Bean (of course) and listened to an orchestra’s rehearsal at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Grant Park. There are so many things I wanted to do and see that I didn’t have a chance to this time (like the skydeck at Willis Tower) that I have a big list of adventures for my next visit.

Navy Pier, Chicago

A view of Chicago’s skyline from Navy Pier.

The Bean, Chicago

The Bean!

The food on this trip was out of this world phenomenal! Of course we had to have true Chicago-style deep dish pizza. We went to Lou Malnati’s and I gorged myself on the famous local fare. I can tell you that deep dish pizza is definitely as good as everyone says it is. Put it on your bucket list if you haven’t tried it yet!

My favorite meal by far, though, was in the restaurant adjoining our hotel. It’s called Mercat a la Planxa and it specializes in Catalan-inspired tapas. I hadn’t had tapas since I was in Spain and I was so extremely excited to have them again (maybe a little too excited. I think I may have freaked my coworkers out with my enthusiasm.). We ordered a ton of food to share and I loved everything. From the arroz a la cazuela (saffron scented broth with Maine lobster, chicken, chorizo, rabbit, shaved artichoke salad and piquillo aioli) to the datiles con almendras (bacon wrapped dates stuffed with almonds), I was in gustatory heaven. I need to go back to this place. Soon. Like tomorrow.

3 – Taos, NM
I hadn’t taken a vacation from work at all this year until Labor Day weekend. My mom had been asking me to go with her to Taos, New Mexico, and while I thought that New Mexico sounded like a strange place for a vacation, I agreed to join her. And boy were my preconceived notions incorrect! New Mexico is amazing. The scenery is mind-blowingly gorgeous and there were plenty of fun things to do. We saw some neat art shops downtown but spent most of our time hiking the mountains.

Taos, New Mexico scenery

A few snapshots from my trip to Taos, NM. They don’t even begin to do justice to the beautiful scenery.

My favorite meal was at a pizza joint called Pizaños. The restaurant had a back deck overlooking the mountains, so of course, my mom and I ate outside despite the chilly breeze. I chose a pizza that was popular with the locals called, The Taoseño. It was covered in Italian Sausage, mushrooms and green chile and it was divine.

Pizaños, Taos, New Mexico

Dinner with a view!

I don’t know where I’ll go next year. haven’t planned anything yet, but this is a goal I definitely want to keep up with. If you have any suggestions of places to go and/or things to eat, I would love to hear them! What are some of your favorite places?

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