Keeping a journal has never been my forte. I’ll get one as a gift, write in it for a few days, hate it immensely, then move on. Fast forward a couple years, then I’ll repeat. The longest I’ve ever kept a journal for (not counting anything that had a fuzzy cover or a tiny key) was in beauty school when I was so completely bored out of my mind that it was all I could do to occupy myself. Even then it only lasted a few months. I’ve reread it several times searching for ideas, moments of clarity, that creative genius. All I can tell is during that time I was obsessed with Tina Fey and my writing sounds like I was watching too much 30 Rock.
“They say” keeping a journal is great for creativity, flow, perspective, meditation, and all those things that as a writer are sometimes hard to come by. It’s something to lean on when your spark dies down too low or your depression gets too deep. It channels your crazy ideas, chronicles your life, puts every thought worth remembering down in one place. Just thirty minutes of free writing a day and those parts of your brain just switch on.
I have a unicorn diary my sister got me for my birthday and I love it. I scribble half-sentences and short ideas into it whenever I think of one. But there’s no cohesion. It’s all detached and unreadable – the closest thing I think I’ll ever do to journaling again. I’m discovering that my method is more of a mental mulling over. That thirty minutes a day, I prefer to spend it reading someone else’s words. That sparks my creativity, and reminds me of the conversational flow that I appreciate. I like to decide what I want to write about, think about it for weeks or months, letting all the ideas just build up in the back of my mind while writing things like: “Journals, not for me” in my diary. Then I sit down with it and it all comes out at once. Probably easier for me than it should be.
So here’s my real travel diary – put together for you, based on a few notes.
DAY 1: Friday March 15, 2019
(Outside our hotel at Plaza Inn and Suites)
This morning I woke up with anxiety. Bad. This whole week was bad. I calculated how long it takes me to catch up after being gone for one week at work. Six weeks it takes me to work clients back through my schedule after being gone for one week. It’s just hours I add on. I know I’ll have to work late when I get back and I’ve had to work late for a couple weeks already. I’m just tired. It’s gotten easier to leave, but not effortless by any means. Invoices pile up. Checks need to be written. It makes me feel ungrateful to have anxiety over something like this. I should just be happy I’m busy and push through.
Kanan wanted to go snowboarding. I hate snowboarding so he suggested skiing, which I think I would enjoy, but I freaked out because I’m completely unprepared, and have never done it before. I didn’t budget it in, I didn’t buy the clothes I’d want so I can’t pack for it. He didn’t want to ski, so I know I’d be alone part of the time. I had a total meltdown because I’m incapable (at this time) of doing anything I didn’t mentally and physically prepare for in advance. That anxiety multiplies because knowing Kanan is disappointed just makes me feel inadequate. I wish I could control it, but sometimes I can’t. It’s hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t live with depression and anxiety what it feels like to be completely helpless to your illogical fears. I’m not afraid to ski. I just didn’t have the time to become comfortable with the idea so my heart starts to beat out of my chest and I feel like I can’t breathe. It doesn’t make any sense because my brain tells me it’s fine. But it doesn’t work like that. I organize my life specifically to prevent this from happening, and most of the time it’s effective – I remember I’ve come a long way from overusing xanax and feeling this way every day. But I’m not there yet – I don’t feel like I can be spontaneous. I told him to bring his stuff anyway. I’ll force myself to go if he wants, but I feel like a ball of stress, and I wish I didn’t. All the exercise and vegan food only goes so far. I wish I could be that carefree, uncomplicated person.
Once I’m in the car I feel a little bit better. We listen to Alkaline Trio’s new CD and a couple episodes of My Favorite Murder on the way up there. We stop in Grants Pass to eat at a mexican restaurant, Si Casa Flores. I get a veggie taco salad without rice, since they cook it in chicken stock. It’s okay. There’s a group of women sitting across from us drinking margaritas in the middle of the day, gossiping, talking about fundraisers. I’m jealous of them in that moment – their lives seem easy. I know it’s not real so it quickly passes.
We get to Ashland and check in at the Plaza Inn and Suites – I’m pleasantly surprised that I like it. We usually stay somewhere else but Kanan wanted to try a new place. Clearly at this stage in my life I have to really prepare myself for “new.” It’s in a great location.
The first thing we do after unpacking is go to the local COOP a few blocks away, and stock up on necessities. I brought protein bars, shakes, BCAAs, chips, vitamins, sparkling waters, and other random snacks from home already. So we picked up fruit, bagels, date rolls, coffee creamer and donuts. I found vegan donuts and they’re amazing. We have a fridge and microwave in our room, so that’s convenient.
We have dinner at Taj Indian Cuisine. They offer a ton of amazing vegan options. I love my food. After dinner we walk around and shop in downtown for a bit, then settle in for HGTV and donuts.
Day 2: Saturday March 16, 2019
(View from the trail.)
Today was a good day. We woke up, had coffee and a snack, packed more snacks in a backpack, and then headed out for a hike behind Lithia Park. We hadn’t been on that part of the trail before, and ended up hiking about three miles uphill, then jogged the three miles back. It was so quiet and relaxing out there – I loved it.
I spent about thirty minutes working on the blog and another quick project back at the hotel, uploaded everything and then we spent the afternoon relaxing.
We went back to downtown (literally a few minute walk away) got coffee from Starbucks, and went back to the hotel room to drink it on the sunny patio. It was great. Our little balcony looks out over the hotel’s park and river area so it’s extra relaxing to listen to the water. It makes me realize how rare quiet time is in my “normal” life. It makes me wonder how I can remedy that. The older I get the more noise bothers me.
We had amazing mexican food for lunch at a place called Agave. They have plenty of vegan options on the regular menu.
Day 3: Sunday March 17, 2019
Today we woke up, had coffee, and hit up the hotel gym. I cannot emphasize enough how much I love doing this with Kanan. We really only workout together on vacation. We spent about an hour and a half in the gym – I did about thirty minutes on the elliptical, then did several rounds of dead lifts, sumo squats, and goblet squats with dumbbells. It ended up being a great workout even though their gym was fairly small.
Vegan pro tip: the included hotel breakfast almost never has options aside from coffee and fruit, so that’s one reason why I go to the local COOP to buy food. Kanan loaded up on waffles while I drank coffee and ate my snacks.
We had another leisurely day. We watched Kill Bill 2 in the room – still one of my favorites. I got vegan nachos at Standing Stone Brewery and then scored some new books and the David Bowie Aladdin Sane record from some local stores.
Day 4: Monday March 18, 2019
Today we got up and went back to the hotel gym. It was supposed to be the day I went skiing, but Kanan said he was over it. I feel guilty but relieved. I’ll make an effort to do it next time. I make mental notes about how to be more spontaneous. Is it really spontaneous if you have to plan to be that way? I’m not sure what the compromise is. I’m working on it.
I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and then some more rounds of lower body exercises. Single legged RDLs, lunges, donkey kicks, fire hydrants. It was an awesome workout.
Same breakfast routine.
We went and saw How to Train Your Dragon 3. Ever since Dragonheart came out I’ve had a weird obsession with them. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the girl dragon looks like what I would want to look like if I were an animated dragon. The fake popcorn butter literally leaked out of the bottom of the bag and ruined my jeans. Kind of annoying, kind of hilarious. So I went online and bought four pairs of my favorite jeans so they’d be waiting for me when I got home. I’m trying really hard to only buy local and only buy things that improve my quality of life – but I also need pants. “Fit chick” tip: The American Eagle Curvy Super Extra High Rise Jeggings are the only ones that fit me right. Every $200 pair of jeans I’ve bought, and the $40 pair is the winner.
I don’t think there’s any new notable food from today. More Indian Food for dinner. I could eat there every day.
Day 5: Tuesday March 19, 2019
(End of the hike in Lithia Park.)
Today was my favorite day. Kanan had mentally prepped me for an eighteen-mile hike, and I was totally ready for that. It starts up behind the town of Ashland and comes down behind the park where we’d hiked earlier in the week. I’ve been half marathon training, so I knew I’d be fine. We had coffee, packed plenty of food, parked the car, and got started. The first mile was basically straight up hill, but after that it got easier. We looked out from the top of the mountain and could see everything. It was so quiet; we only saw a handful of other people. The hike ended up being a total of ten miles, with a little over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Shorter than Kanan had estimated from Google earth, and the crummy trail maps. But we jogged a couple of the downhill miles. All the micro climates were interesting. It would be hot and sunny for thirty minutes, and then you’d be hiking through snow. It would take one second to feel like you walked into a freezer.
We came back to the room, got cleaned up and went and got a tea at Starbucks. It was so sunny and warm. We just sat there and people watched for a while. It was nice to feel the sunshine and to just sit with Kanan. We almost never do that.
We had mexican food again.
After our hike and a little bit of walking around downtown, I was extremely sore. I’m not used to running downhill, and after a couple days of that my legs were toast. So we ended up ordering pizza from Creekside Pizza who’s dough and sauce is vegan! It was bomb. And we just hung out in our room and watched HGTV.
I’ve eaten so many vegan donuts at this point, that I’m sure I won’t want one until next time we go to Ashland. Kanan and I talked about how we rarely eat unhealthy food at home, and now that we don’t drink alcohol, it’s easy to notice that bad food (mainly sugar for me) makes us feel lethargic with brain fog and mood swings. It’s amazing how much food alone with affect how you feel. We came to the conclusion that eating healthy whole foods from the COOP for the first two meals of the day, and only eating out for dinners on vacation is probably the way to go. And way less sugar. It’s hard to not eat all the things when you’re out of town, but what fun is it if you feel bad? I’d rather have energy. We’re those people who will probably bring our own blender for smoothies next time. I love that the longer we’re together the more on the same page we get. It’s nice to have the same priorities.
I always get a little bit sad at the end of a vacation because I anticipate the chaos waiting for me back home – all the calls, texts, and DMs I missed that I need to return. The fact that I probably won’t get this much quality time with Kanan again until our next vacation in October doesn’t help. But I try to push it out of my mind to really enjoy our last night.
Last Day: Wednesday March 20, 2019
Today we head back. I’m so used to waking up at 5am every morning that now that I can sleep in, my body feels out of whack. Today I woke up at 9am. Going back to 5am tomorrow should be interesting.
We just get ready to go, pack up, and head out. We stop by the COOP on the way out for coffee, smoothies, and a vegan muffin and breakfast burrito. I love being vegan in 2019. We listen to Kanan’s new Kris Kristofferson CD on the way home, and a couple episodes of My Favorite Murder.
I get home and immediately start working. I return calls, texts, and emails. I confirm appointments for the next day, fill cancellations, and pay bills.
I unpack and settle in. Kanan and I relax for a few hours before we go to sleep and start our normal routine back up in the morning, and I’m excited to get back to it.