One thing I love to do is travel. Go somewhere new, be somewhere different, explore someplace unlike where I live.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to get this wanderlust out of my system and get paid to do it. Sure, life on the road is tough. It gets lonely and difficult, especially when you’re eating dinner alone for the third time that week, and you get a text from friends inviting you out to a group dinner to celebrating something.
But the experience of being in a new place as a lone explorer leads to the best discoveries: both of who I am, and what I like to do.
So below are some of the best places I’ve been with my job in the past year. This list is in no order, since I like these places for different reasons, but they are definitely on my list to go back and bring Matt to see.
Oregon: specifically Mt. Hood and the Columbia Valley area.
I was in Portland October 2012 for a work meeting, and took some time to go explore on my own. I drove out to the Mt. Hood region, hiked at Multnomah Falls.
|Second Tallest Waterfall in the USA|
The area is known for its wine, so I was able to swing by some vineyards and see beautiful sights like rows of vines with a snow capped Mt. Adams in the background.
I also had lunch at the Full Sail Brewery on the Columbia River, and got to take a free tour of the facility. One of the coolest things about the tour was that I was on it with two other Clemson University graduates. It’s amazing how much power the Clemson ring has across the US.
Houston: Kemah Boardwalk
I was just in Houston for two days in early May 2013, but the manager I was working with took me to the Kemah Boardwalk just out of the city for lunch one day. It was such a cool experience, seeing an old-fashioned boardwalk with the wooden roller coasters and carnival rides. Since we were there on a Thursday afternoon, there wasn’t a huge crowd and it was like we had the place to ourselves. We bought tickets to ride the roller coaster, and were blown away by the speed it went (51 MPH!). The boardwalk was right on the gulf, so the breeze rolling in felt amazing, and you could tell it would get busy and be an amazing destination for families come summer.
|Seriously, So Fun|
I was in Maine for a day at the end of March 2013, and found it incredibly beautiful. I rode up from Rhode Island with one of the managers, so she was able to show me all of the cool spots in the state. Right at the border, I was able to take a photo with a giant moose (Maine is Moose Country, right?) and we were able to take my typical tourist photo at the L.L. Bean Flagship store.
|I wore my Bean Boots while posing with a Bean Boot|
The coolest thing about the flagship store is its hours: it’s open 24/7 so that hunters or fishermen can come in at any time to get something they may need. Walking through the stores was a time consuming event, but well worth it.
Dinner at Linda Bean’s across the street from L.L. Bean is a must: The lobster bisque and lobster mac and cheese was amazing.
California: Napa and Northern CA
I got to go to Northern California to present to a group of sales reps in March, and ended up with a half day of free time before I headed to my next destination. I talked the two managers into showing me around Napa.
I’d heard a lot of things about Napa: Great wine, beautiful scenery, snobby people. I can say 2 out of 3 is true: the vineyards did a great job of making everyone feel inclusive, regardless of attire or wine knowledge. We wandered around vineyards, did a tasting, and soaked up the beauty of the region.
When it was time for lunch, I insisted on a roadside stand. We ate at this little place called Gott’s – and it was AMAZING. Affordable food that was all natural served at picnic tables made me feel like I was back home in SC. The fact that you could order bottles of wine for the table (no, we didn’t get to do that!) only added to the experience in making Napa feel like a family place.
|Gotts: Pure Deliciousness|
I spend a lot of time in Milwaukee for my job: it’s where our training facility for new sales reps is located. Every time I go up to Milwaukee, I find a new thing to love. Sure, August and September are the best times to be there (hello beautiful weather!), but even the winters are lovely with the snow coming down.
Downtown Milwaukee is a fun experience: it has really become a city for young professionals. Brady Street hosts a lot of amazing bars, and is so close to the waterfront (which is a great place to go for a run or a bike ride) so you can see all of the boats in the harbour.
Along the river in the city are some cool places too. The city has done a great job holding onto its old buildings and repurposing them into hip new places. My favourite landmark in Milwaukee? The Fonzie (ayyyyy!) statue on the river. Just do an instagram search for the Broze Fonz, and you’ll see dozens of others who have posed with the iconic statue that defined a generation prior to ours.