new life.

well friends, it’s been a while. *checks calendar*

yep, almost a year! I’m sitting in a new apartment, and hey, if you’re keeping track, this is our fifteenth move since 2009! this one, though, is finally starting to feel like home. we overlook the lake and a bunch of green–the effect of which cannot be underestimated.

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as an added bonus, every night we get a sunset show

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b r e a t h t a k i n g 

we’ve done a lot of downsizing, purging of things along the way (remember we lived in our car for a year) so over the past two years, we’ve been slowly adding things, with the thought that eventually we may be living a back on the road in a van or an RV. (a girl can dream) so, with that in mind our choices have been focused on function and design; less impulse buys.

living with less is generally a great way to exist anyway (Marie Kondo I was on to this way before your cute little netflix gig) the absense of clutter helps me focus; there’s less to clean, it’s brighter!

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I’ll be doing a full post on the design / things I made or bought for the apartment within the next few weeks. 

oh i almost forgot!  we have a new family member:

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introducing grace ff hopper, her name in honor of the first female pioneer of computer programming and a legend. our hopper enjoys naps, chasing her favorite crumpled up target receipt around the living room and chirping at the birds that land on our balcony railing. she has her own instagram account that she’s not very good at updating, and has recently been trained to walk on a leash and sleep in a crate overnight (!!) I’m obsessed and my entire camera roll is now cat photos. be prepared.

well. ok.

if it’s sunshine-y where you are, get out and enjoy it; and here’s a smoothie recipe I just whipped up this morning:

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maple banana walnut smoothie:

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8 ounces unsweetened coconut milk (I use SoDelicious)

1/8 cup unsweetened greek yogurt

1/2 cup frozen organic pineapple

1/4 cup organic walnuts

1 tsp. real maple syrup (my syrup of choice is Crown Maple)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

starting with coconut milk, add all ingredients, in order, to blender or nutribullet and blend until smooth.

 

xo, j

 

 

All images © 2013-2019 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

memorial day.

it seems as though I haven’t had much to say about this year, from the looks of my posts here. in reality, there’s so much going on, so much keeping my thoughts occupied about the future of our world that creating beautiful blog posts have been the furthest thing from my mind.

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but memorial day weekend is here, and this weekend traditionally marks a time in the calendar year where things tend to shift; we pack away the long pants, and pull out the summer skirts. we dust off the picnic gear, stow away the snow boots. so maybe it’s time to shift my thinking as well. back to focusing on beauty and creativity, and away from despair and darkness; looking towards a future of hope, one where there’s always that open road ahead, where you never know what will meet you. where the adventure awaits.

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so we sit, and plan, looking forward to more travel; discussing a trip to acadia national park and plotting our next adventure. always moving forward, hoping and focusing on a positive future for everyone.

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All images © 2013-2019 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

alaska.

hey friends.

I’ve been the worst at blog-updating, but with good reason. we’re in alaska, as I might have mentioned in a previous post and we’ve been working six days a week. on the seventh day we try to get in adventures, laundry, internet time and rest. *try being the operative word.

we’re seeing most of the wilderness through the windows of the employee shuttle to and from work.

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last week, on our day off, we were able to take a hike in Denali National Park (this is our 26th National Park/Monument since December)

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it was beautiful

and exhausting.

a few weeks ago we had the pleasure of seeing snow…..

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which we had avoided all winter, but we didn’t mind as it was short lived and kind of beautiful to see.

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most days it looks like this. (except when it’s raining, like today)

most nights it looks like that as well…which has been the hardest thing to get used to. the white nights. right now we’re at about 19 hours of daylight, which makes insomnia even more fun :)

we are looking forward to being back on the road at the end of september.

seeing friends and family back east.

seeing sunsets, sunrises, the stars. the moon.

driving aimlessly and stopping randomly.

camping.

more parks!

but for now, here we are.

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All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

months and miles.

 

today marks the day. the sixth month anniversary of loading up the car, waving goodbye to lake erie, cleveland, ohio…..and heading out on the great adventure. 

we honestly had no idea what we were doing. like, no clue.  

IMG_6561I mean, sure we’d plotted out a general course…looked at a million blogs about how to do what we were doing, but, seriously. 

not a clue. 

so here’s a bit of what we’ve learned: 

–you’re going to need half of what you think you’ll need. we made so many packing mistakes and ended up tossing or donating a lot of things along the way. the essentials are called essential for a reason; only pack what you know you’ll use daily.

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–travel slow, and if you find a spot that looks good, stay there. we spent a lot of time chasing good weather mainly because we weren’t equipped to live comfortably for long stays in rain or high winds. but if the weather was good, having enough supplies (read: coffee) to stay in one spot for five or more days will definitely save money and stress)


–always stop for the brown signs on the highway exits: they mean good things: national parks or monuments, state parks or really fun touristy stuff! some of our best adventures were “oh hey what’s that sign?!” trips off the beaten path.
–buy a national parks pass. just do it. the national parks are the best idea the US has ever had, and getting in free across the country saved us so much financial worry and, wow was it worth it. 

–if you find a spot you like, stay there! bonus tip: free camping is abundant, you just have to know how and where to look for it. there are multiple apps to help with that; we used one called Allstays. we spent a total of $16 on camping in 6 months, all of that in Texas. and if all else fails, most walmarts, and some other retail stores (camping world, cabella’s) allow overnight camping. just ask :) 

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–adapting to your environment is key. travel bloggers on instagram are not showing you everything (like where do they poop?) the sooner you realize that you’re now technically homeless and relying on your current, constantly changing, environment for all your needs, the sooner you’ll be able to adjust to your newfound freedom!

 

–you’re much tougher than you think. I never thought I’d be able to hike to the top of this canyon…or sleep in my car in a dark forest in the rain….or survive a windstorm in new mexico. I didn’t know how tough I really was.

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–time is a social construct. (think about that one….I must ask at least once a week, “wait, what day is it?” because we don’t have to be anywhere, do anything, on anyone else’s time….weekdays or weekends don’t matter. it’s weird and takes time to get used to.) 

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–this country is huge, beautiful and is so vastly different if you just travel more than 300 miles outside of your comfort zone. if you don’t like where you are: move! there is so much out there to see and experience. 

–people out there (away from the cities) are much nicer, kinder and more generous than you know.  this was possibly the hardest thing for us to get used to, being from the service industry. we were so ‘on guard’ and had our defenses up against everyone, and just did not expect the kindness of strangers once we were away from the cities. 

–don’t wait. we’ve met so many women, or couples in their retirement years who’ve said to us (all_of_them_have_said_this) “we should have done this at your age, good for you guys.” 

don’t wait. honestly.  

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where we go from here: 

today we are in yakima, washington, on our way to a town north of seattle for the week. we are then boarding a plane, friday, for anchorage, alaska. 

yes, alaska. eep!! we’ll be working up there for the summer outside of denali national park. I can say this: we are excited to be off the road for a while, but last night, as we spent our final night sleeping in the car (fittingly in a walmart, just like our first night in new jersey) we were talking about how we are actually going to miss the freedom we’ve had, the autonomy, the rising with the sun, going to bed when it gets dark, and the general not-seeing-any-other-humans that has been so great. we’re going to have a bit of a time adjusting. 

but it will also be nice to have showers, and meals, and a bed whenever we want. that will be nice.
so, stay tuned from alaska! 

xoxo, j 

All images © 2013-2019 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life 

 

 

finding life in death valley.

my son needed a little break from the winter doldrums back in grey-skies-will spring-never-arrive-cleveland, so we sent him a ticket to fly into las vegas and planned a few days of camping and a visit to death valley national park.

now the name death valley conjures up a desolate, barren wasteland of nothingness. a mad max-like expanse of desert as far as the eyes can see, with nothing growing, just the occasional blowing dune, or skeleton of the tourist before you who didn’t bring enough water. (always bring enough water)

so, we were pleasantly surprised when we found that death valley had really more life than death. and just as many highs as lows.

one of the most spectacular highs being dante’s view.

I mean, come on.

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from the top you could see 360 degrees for miles. and on the way up there (you climb a mile high over 13 miles of winding road) was so much green, and wildflowers…..no death anywhere. 

stunning.

and the sunset from there, well, it sure takes the mind off dreary cleveland weather.

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there were lots of opportunities to climb things.

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and climbed they both did.

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this is called the artist’s palette: it’s mounds of colorful mineral-rocks left after volcanic activity. it basically looks like a melted ice-cream sundae.

the lowest point of the trip (get it, lowest) was badwater basin: literally the lowest place in the western hemisphere. we got there before 9am and it was already climbing above 90 degrees. it’s the craziest place I’ve ever been, will probably ever be. the smell in the air is like sulphur/salt; the “ground” crunches beneath you and the silence (once you get away from the other tourists) is deafening. you’re almost 300 feet below sea level, and surrounded by mountains that reach a mile into the sky that are topped with snow. 

insane. 

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view from above:

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there’s 250 square miles of the white stuff; looks like snow from up here, it’s basically table salt. 

my favorite part was hiking through mosaic canyon. the boys left me to do their own climbing of the walls instead of just hiking the path, so I enjoyed the cool canyon walls and the silence all by myself. 

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(hikes in a skirt)

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even though it’s name is intimidating, and some of the days were hot and tough, I think we conquered death valley. it is now one of our top five national parks; it is park number 25 (if you’re keeping track) that we’ve visited since december (including national monuments, not including national forests) *btw: national monuments, like white sands, are not “national parks” merely because it takes an act of congress to make it so. death valley didn’t become a national park until 1994; it had been a monument since the 30’s. your history lesson for the day :)

onward, we go!

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 All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

lucky.

it’s been a while. updates are hard when the internet is spotty. it’s not that we haven’t had things to update!

we’ve been to many places since my last post:

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california 2.2016

we left the california area and headed back through nevada. but not without seeing some fabulous graffiti and abandoned things along the way.

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fresh jerky / 2.2016

stopping at the hoover dam for a quick tour (can you say breathtaking?) we decided to camp at lake mead for a few days.

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hoover dam / 2.2016

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lake mead / 2.2016

we ventured in to las vegas, although avoiding the strip completely, we managed to stay in a casino/hotel, have a crappy buffet…

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vegas night lights / 3/2016

oh.

and adopt a rescue dog. who we named Lucky.

Lucky Scout Sparkles, to be more precise.

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lucky, at her first state park, valley of fire / 2.2016

we’re pretty happy with her.

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today we’re in sedona, arizona.

we’ve done a little zig-zag, avoiding rain and visiting some old friends. the scenery here is stunning, the internet is slow, but I’ve managed to crank this post out in a starbucks while listening to some ladies discuss energy healing.

we woke up to this taking place right outside our car window as we made coffee and stretched out our morning bodies:

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I’m beginning to think that our new doggie friend isn’t the only lucky one.

 

 

All images © 2013-2019 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

images.

driving across the country, the landscapes and landmarks fly by the window, and just like in life, you don’t really know what you’ve missed until you sit back and contemplate the memories (or in this case….scroll through iphoto)

also, just like in life, being on the road has it’s ups and downs as we’ve learned. every turn can bring something strange and wonderful.

on your way to the outermost part of civilization in the united states, where there are no rules, no zoning, no government….you first have to pass by Salvation Mountain. and learn about a human who just wanted to share his love with everyone through his art.

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salvation mountain / california / 2.2016

then we ventured through slab city, weird and wonderful as it is….

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slab city / california / 2.2016

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slab city / california / 2.2016

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slab city / california / 2.2016

the previous day, on a long stretch of boring road, out of nowhere pops the most amazing sand dunes you’ve ever seen (well, you’ve never seen any!) 

where did all that sand come from?

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imperial sand dunes / california / 2.22016

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imperial sand dunes / california / 2.2016

I mean, this is some Mad Max shit right here.

 

which led us to our current park(ing) spot…Joshua Tree. we’ve only explored a teeny little corner of it so far, but it is magnificent.

from the big boulders…

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joshua tree ntl park / california / 2.2016

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joshua tree ntl park / california / 2.2016

 

to the little teeny cactus…

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joshua tree ntl park / california / 2.2016

 

….and the sunset from our campsite….not bad.

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joshua tree / california / 2.2016

 

 

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life