Traveling to Portland and Seattle

Traveling to Portland and Seattle

It took me a while, but I finally gathered all my clips and images from my trip to Portland and Seattle and compiled a vacation video. This was definitely our own kind of vacation: low-cost, eco-friendly (as much as possible), self-guided, and relaxed. If that’s your style too, then this video is for you.

Please leave any questions about the places we visited in the comments and I’ll be happy to try to answer.

This video was recorded on my GoPro Hero 5.

Portland area:

  • Cannon Beach, Oregon
  • Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach, Oregon
  • Rogue Brewery
  • Bagdad Theater and Pub
  • Tapped on Hawthorne
  • Base Camp
  • Deschutes
  • HI Portland Hawthorne District eco-hostel
  • Portland Farmers Market
  • ToV Coffee & Tea (coffee bus)
  • Voodoo Doughnut

Seattle

  • ZapVerr Thai restaurant
  • Freemont Bridge/Freemont Troll
  • Pike Place Market
  • Gum wall
  • IL Bistro
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Day-off photography from Burlington, Iowa

Day-off photography from Burlington, Iowa

Recently, we had our biggest event of the year at work. I spent a lot of time after my regular hours and on weekends working on a 10-minute video for the event, so I was glad for the opportunity to take a flex day and make time for personal photography.

I knew I wanted to shoot an Iowa town on the Mississippi River, like the town I was raised in. And so, at random, over my morning coffee, I chose Burlington, Iowa.

I had only been there once before, just passing through really but I remembered being charmed by it and wanting to explore it more. In my photographic work, I’m always looking to compare and contrast elements that remind me of or differ from my hometown—not just aesthetically but the feelings I associate with my home as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rare photo of me, courtesy of Ethan Zierke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Grad School fails and successes: A year in review

Last June, after finishing undergrad, I decided to embark on a new big-ish goal that would keep me learning, making things, and getting stronger.

Based on an idea from The Art of Nonconformity by Chris Guillebeau, I started Alternative Grad School. You can view Chris Guillebeau’s suggested goals here. My goals were based on his original suggestions. I simplified many and completely created some new ones according to my interests.

1. [x] Memorize the name and location of every country in the world.
I completed this goal using the paid version of the Seterra app on my phone. It’s a super productive way to spend car rides and other spaces of boredom. Plus, knowing where all the countries are has already turned out to be so valuable. It’s hard to know what’s going on in the world when you don’t know the locations of the countries you hear on the news.
Also, actually knowing where all the countries are makes you seem super smart and knowledgeable (not that that’s the point).

 

2. [ ] Travel to a new continent.
I didn’t travel to a new continent (I’ve been to North America and Europe). But I did travel Europe for the second time, visiting two new countries: The Netherlands and Germany.

 

I plan to travel (I hope) to South America in 2018 or 2019.

 

3. [ ] Listen to Coffee Break Spanish sections 1 and 2 and retain the language. 
[x]    Sec. 1
[ ]    Sec. 2
Since I knew I would be traveling to Germany, I decided to brush up my German instead of pursuing Spanish. I took German all four years of high school and had never used it with a real German speaker, so this was really exciting to me and was a really awesome incentive to spend some time each day deepening my understanding. German is a very difficult language with lots of exceptions to its own rules, but it was rewarding to finally work through some of the grammar I couldn’t wrap my mind around when I was a teenager.

 

(I’ve been learning both German and Spanish with Mark from Coffee Break German via podcast on my walk to work and would highly recommend trying it out!)
4. [ ] Read the basic texts of the major world religions: the Torah, New Testament, Koran, and teachings of Buddha.
[ ]    Torah
[ ]    New Testament
[ ]    Koran

[x]    Buddha

 

I wish I’d gotten further with this, but it was way too much with a full-time job and all the other goals I wanted to accomplish. I hope to get to this one day.

 

5. [ ] Show Once Familiar publicly.
I did not get to show my work publicly, but I did apply at the local arts space and at coffee shops around town. At first, I felt disappointed. But I took that energy and started volunteering at the local arts space, working on some of their programming and joining their gallery team. There’s a lot more I’d like to learn and make before doing my first solo show anyway.

 

6. [x] Compile a graphic design post-grad creative portfolio by completing 15 projects. 
Most of my graphic design projects were work-related (our annual report, website graphics, etc.) but I also spent time designing the old-school camera stickers I sell on this site. I learned a lot, but I also learned that graphic design, though an extremely valuable skill, is not my favorite. I am glad to know the basics and turn to the pros for help when I need it.

 

7. [ ] Read 30 nonfiction books and 20 novels.
I’m not sure what to say about this one. If anyone else has tried this challenge, then they probably know that reading this many books in a year is the hardest goal of all. I started strong, reading 30 books by the end of 2017. I only read 11 books so far in 2018.

 

Interestingly, I ended up reading very few novels. With a background in journalism, I’m just more interested in nonfiction (though I believe reading fiction is very important). Eventually, though, I got very burned out and couldn’t bring myself to read at all anymore. My eyes were just skipping across the page and I’ve been on an extended break since.
I’m sure the lust for books will come back to me. It’s just a matter of time.

 

8. [ ] Run a 10K (6.2 mi.) in 60:00 or less.
My fastest 10K time was 1:09:10. Just getting up to running a 10K without stopping to walk was a challenge enough. I did surprise myself, though, by running in an actual 10K race.

 

9. [ ] Start/maintain a blog and post bi-weekly
Here I am. During the very last couple months of the Alt Grad School challenge, I got around to this goal. Aside from posting, I added a store to my site, sold some stickers, and created a MailChimp email list. I do a lot of blog work at my day job as well, so by now these skills come to me fairly naturally, but it was rewarding using them for my personal work and getting my site fully customized to my vision.

 

10. [x] Learn to write by listening to the Grammar Girl podcast and reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
I didn’t love these as much as a lot of people seem to, but they got me writing which says a lot.

 

11. [ ] Read Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs.
This was one of Chris Guillebeau’s suggestions but it was just not my style.

 

12. [x] Publish 3 freelance stories.
I was a little surprised by so proud I met this goal. My writing had only been published in my college newspaper before, and so every time I wrote something new for Little Village, it felt amazing. I wrote three stories: one about women getting IUDs (multi-year birth control) out of concern about changes to women’s healthcare, one about a college student who started a farm while still in school, and one profile on Jane Elliot (blue eyes/brown eyes). There is nothing quite like seeing your work out in the world, in print.

 

13. [1/2] Complete a new photo series by 12/31/17 and a second by 6/1/18.
I didn’t complete a photo project during the first 6 months of the challenge, but I traveled to the American South and took a bunch of photos that I would consider a series in February 2018. View them here and here. I hope I can go on a few more adventures like this over the summer, at least of the weekend. I’m getting a little antsy photographing in Iowa.

 

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More photos from the South

 

I got a chance to edit a few more of my favorite images from my Presidents Day trip to New Orleans and back.

 

I’m really excited to see that my digital camera with its new lens served me really just as well as my favorite film cameras. Of course, the resolution isn’t as high as the medium format negatives I’ve grown used to, but without access to a super high-resolution scanner, it’s a moot point anyway.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m really satisfied with digital for the types of photos on this type of on-the-move photoshoot. As usual, I wish I’d pulled over to make even more!

 

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New Orleans, Louisiana

 

 

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Missouri

 

 

 

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Indianola, Mississippi

 

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Missouri

 

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New Orleans, Louisiana

Road trip photography from the South

Road trip photography from the South

I had President’s Day off last Monday, so I decided to take off Friday too and make it a long weekend. I have been working on a rural Iowa photography project for about two years now and people are always telling me that my work reminds them of photos of the Southern United States. So Ethan and I went on a road trip, taking our time and stopping at any small towns that looked interesting on our way down to New Orleans, Louisiana.

View the rest of my images from my road trip to the South here.

 

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Somewhere across the Missouri/Arkansas border

 

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Tunica, Mississippi
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Cleveland, Mississippi
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Bentonia, Mississippi

 

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New Orleans, Louisiana
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New Orleans, Louisiana
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New Orleans, Louisiana

View the rest of my images from my road trip to the South here.

10-day vacation for TWO with only ONE carry-on bag

I love budget travel. I ride the cheapest airlines, sleep in 12-bed rooms, and use the hostel kitchen to cook half my meals. Some people might look at it as giving a lot of things up, compared to how they typically travel. And it’s true, I sacrifice a lot of comforts and sleep to do things this way.
At the same time, though, I think taking cost-cutting measures is rewarding. One of my favorite ways time and money is to travel minimally, packing only what I really need to get by.
For our 10-day trip to Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin, my boyfriend and I flew with WOW, a super cheap airline that doesn’t offer a free carry on or a checked bag at all.
Of course, for a trip that long, especially in November we needed at least one piece of luggage. We opted to keep things cheap and simple by sharing this hiking backpack between the two of us.
Here is a complete list of everything I brought along, including everything I was wearing and what was in my free hand item, a pretty average size leather purse. My boyfriend brought a laptop bag (without a laptop inside) as a hand item and filled the remaining space in the backpack with clothes.

 

Carry on (including what I was wearing): 
  • 1 QT liquids bag: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, BB cream
  • Deodorant, makeup (mascara, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, BB cream), toothbrush, ear swabs, chapstick
  • Power converter, cell phone charger
  • GoPro, GoPro charger, mounts
  • SIM card tool
  • Water bottle
  • Laundry detergent, dryer sheets
  • Prescriptions, ibuprofen
  • Padlock
  • Clothing
    • Socks (3 pairs)
    • Tights (2)
    • Underwear (4)
    • Plain black Leggings (1)
    • Skirts (2)
    • Black dress
    • Shirts (3)
    • Sweater
    • Sports bra, bra
    • Coat
    • Balaclava
    • Winter hat
  • All of Ethan’s clothes
Hand item:
  • Passport
  • A book
  • Journal, pen
  • DSLR camera
  • Phone with “phone wallet” for cards and cash
  • Earbuds
And that’s really everything!
Sharing a majority of the bathroom products and our chargers saved a lot of room. But I would say the real secret was reducing the number of clothing items we brought. We saved a lot of space by doing laundry during our trip. Both of us ended up pretty sick of wearing the same few outfits but we felt it was worth the sacrifice not to be burdened by big, heavy bags wherever we went. I would recommend traveling this way to anyone. It’s shockingly stress-free and keeps you super mobile so your stuff never holds you back.

Budget travel in Berlin, Germany

Budget travel in Berlin, Germany
Ethan and I found super cheap airplane tickets to Europe and did a 10-day tour of Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin late this month. Here’s a post I wrote about my experience in Berlin on the flight back to Chicago.

 


Budget hostel with a bar

We stayed at Wombats City Hostel-Berlin in a six-bed hostel room. It cost about $12 per night and interestingly included a free drink at the rooftop hostel bar at arrival. They also had €4.50 unlimited (and good) German breakfast in the morning and €2.50 Berliner Pilsner pint-sized beers at night. I met quite a few people there from different English-speaking countries that went out with us later that night.
And the bar had a great (though misty) view of the city.
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Coffee everywhere 
I loved the fact that Berlin had coffee shops everywhere. I didn’t love that the cups were so small! I’m used to drinking relatively huge coffees in America so learning to savor a single shot of espresso was a challenge. I typically drink Americano-style plain black coffee, which isn’t very popular in Europe. I grew to really appreciate espresso macchiatos by the end of my stay, though.
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Free historical sites 
We visited several free historical sites including the Brandenburger Tor, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and preserved portions of the Berlin Wall.
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Thrift shopping in a trendy area near Eberswalderstraße
I met a young German woman about my age on the bus from Hamburg to Berlin who recommended the Eberswalderstraße area to me. I ended up just off Eberswalderstraße on Oderberger Staße and found the best thrift stores. I bought a tiny glass bottle there that was made for a pharmacy in Berlin–way better than anything that could be bought in a tourist shop. Then I checked out some of the vintage clothing stores and got some new-to-me clothes.
thift shopping berlin
Vegan burgers, vegetarian restaurants 
 Again on Oderberger Straße, Ethan and I stopped at a restaurant named Burger World. It was an unfortunate name for such a cute, boutique style place. I ordered a delicious vegan burger. The atmosphere was beautiful, complete with a tablecloth, candle, etc.
 burger world berlin
Across from our hostel, we also stumbled across a great organic/vegetarian-focused restaurant called Rose Garden. Their foods were seasonal, healthy, and ethically sourced. We had pumpkin ravioli there the first time then went back there a second time for coffee and some very generously piled avocado toast.
Craft beer berlin
At Burger World, Ethan and I had tried BRLO beer on a whim. It was great and made in Berlin, so we decided to see if it had a tap house. It turned out to be newly opened, in a building made of 38 international shipping containers and one of the trendiest, top-rated new restaurants in Berlin. I’m not crazy about expensive but very small meals, so Ethan and I shared one, drank a variety of their beers and picked up some falafel sandwiches on our way back to the hostel.
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