Amanda Hoffman Art: Blog http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog en-us (C) AmandaHoffmanART amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) Thu, 09 Feb 2017 22:21:00 GMT Thu, 09 Feb 2017 22:21:00 GMT http://amandahoffmanart.com/img/s/v-5/u1035568358-o473584980-50.jpg Amanda Hoffman Art: Blog http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog 120 120 T+H http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2017/2/t-h "You are warmer than the summer time, so I hold you through the winter time and the love inside your eyes turns a cloudy day to sunshine."  

When I was asked to shoot a wedding in January, in Ohio, I thought, yikes COLD!  And then I got excited about beautiful snowy scenes.  Turns out we didn't get either (thank you global warming for 60 degree weather) and it was even more beautiful than I imagined! This couple just glows! They are equally as sweet, funny and caring as they are gorgeous and I had so much fun being a part of their day.  

 

Cheers to the start of many beautiful years together! 

    BIG love,   

AHA

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2017/2/t-h Thu, 09 Feb 2017 19:12:41 GMT
Navigating http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/10/navigating Pronghorns, Wildlife Preserve,Pronghorns, Wildlife Preserve,

pronghorns + prairie dogs - maxwell national wildlife refuge, new mexico

 

It is hard for me to work on things that aren't immediately giving me rewards, whether that means a paycheck, connections, etc.  I think this mentality is a product of my uber practical, hardworking, mid-western upbringing where "work" is not about doing something that you love but about doing something that provides for your family, your future or your immediate needs.  And yet, I am convinced that I can and should be doing something that I love AND that will provide for my (very minimal) immediate needs*.   

*screw the family & the future, for now anyway.

clarks nutcracker* - banff natl park 

*i promise this is the actual name of this poor bird. 

 

While I have always theoretically believed that I could do anything that I set my mind to.  The lack of guarantees or consistency in carving your own path, so to speak, is crippling to my psyche.  And at the very same time thrilling to my spirit.  How is it possible to be so compelled and so frozen by something? 

baby moose - glacier natl park

mama moose - glacier natl park

 

I am so thankful that I was raised in a way that taught me to work hard.  To take a job, be it waiting tables, house cleaning, or photography, and show up everyday and give 110%.  I was never one of those employees who could stand around; down-time on the clock always meant finding something to clean or organize or a new project to start.  

Rockaway Beach, Oregon CoastRockaway Beach, Oregon Coast

oregon coast

 

Unfortunately this work ethic of mine has a hard time translating to my self-employment. It never fails that there is always laundry or running or a sandwich standing between me and my creativity.  Maybe this is because I cant always pay myself. Or because there is no road map to follow.  No schedule to follow or hours to fill.  Its just me, choosing what to work on and what risks to take, and that is totally scary.  I will not, however, apologize for or question the sandwich thing.  

rascal trying steal said sandwich, unsuccessfully. I guard my sandwiches with my life. #backoffsandwichstealer 

 

Last week I dove in.  I stopped imagining several projects I have wanted to pursue and I went out into the world and truly started them. I spent money and time on my ideas and on my business and while I have no idea if any of the things that I am working on will amount to anything - I can see that it doesn't really matter.  It only matters that I am trying, that I am starting.  Its all about the movement.  Feeling the fear, acknowledging it and moving forward.  Because I have to.  Because I don't want to go work for somebody else right now. Because its no fun to write songs and then have no one hear them. Because my art is just as important and therefore as unimportant as everyone elses.  Because its time to get serious and give myself a chance.  Because sandwiches cost money and I've got to earn it.  

Black billed magpie + unidentified falcon. Grand Tetons, WyomingBlack billed magpie + unidentified falcon. Grand Tetons, Wyoming

grand tetons, wyoming 

 

This adventure, my life,  I am totally determined to figure it out.  

Love & patience, 

A

Please enjoy the photos from this weeks post - which are part of my growing series "Wild" - full of all the amazing wild animals we encountered on the @westwewander adventure.  

They are all available for purchase - just click on them & use promo code 20forfall to receive a 20% discount on your order!

 

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/10/navigating Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:03:35 GMT
Home http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/9/home Home is such an interesting idea. People make homes in all kind of ways. In giant, overwhelming, sprawling structures, that go mostly unused and force people to live beyond their means.  In small, modest, comfy, old houses full of dust and history. In cars, in boats, on the street and in the forest and by the beach.  In people or all alone, with 5 cats or 2 dogs, with children and parents.  Home can be both a place and a feeling.  A belonging.  A sense that you are safe and you have all you need.   Every person you ask will have a different definition of "home" and their answers will change over time.  

Goldie, quickly and comfortably, easily, became home.  And although the location and the landscapes, the temperatures and the wildlife changed, I was safe and had all that I needed.  How swiftly I forgot the things I left behind, the material things, the fear, the bad habits and mundane life tasks that I had previously allowed to suck so much of my energy.  

I knew that returning to Austin would be challenging, for many reasons.  The speed and blankness with which most people move through their days is something that I am reluctant to return to.  It was easy, and quick and meaningful to find the quiet and the peacefulness in my travels. To unplug. From my phone, from technology, from the clock and become immersed in the nature and the cities we visited.  To live in moments, instead of schedules.  I find myself clinging to this idea.  Unready to re-join the world of hustlers who are working, moving, filling time and space with the to-do's.  And yet, I must.  On the road, full of inspiration, it was clear and easy for me to plan and get excited about the projects I'd embark on when I returned.  But now I find it overwhelming, daunting, hard to take the first steps.  

Ive experienced several clarifying moments, since my return.  Tiny winks from the universe, reminders not to lose the magic.  One in the form of an older gentleman, who approached me in HEB, using my baseball cap, which displayed "Republic, OHIO" on its front, a cap which I have lost & found and has a history all its own, to strike up a conversation.  He was overly friendly, someone I may have normally blown off, or tried to move quickly away from, too busy, to distracted, to closed off to talk to.  This time, however, on my first trip to the grocery store since my return, overwhelmed by the number of people around me, the loudness, feeling like I couldn't remember what I needed, I stopped. I talked. I shared my feelings and stories of my trip and stories about Ohio with a man whose name I didn't know, who was simply being kind and connecting me back to the world around me - which is in fact, people, the same way it is nature. And 20 minutes later, I left the canned vegetable aisle, feeling calmer.  Renewed.  Focused once more on what is truly important, connecting. People. Ideas. Not trying to be an island. 

So now I am here, in this time and in this space and home is re-defined once more as I [still] unpack and settle back into life in Austin.  Territory un-mapped, without hectic schedules or hours or paychecks.  Just my own, wide open road (where I unfortunately can't call AAA on days I may break down).  I am equally oozing with ideas, enthusiasm and excitement and at the same time desperately searching for a warm dark hole to hide in.  Working on that balance.  Telling the fear to shut the hell up.  Good thing both of my homes come with a Franzia tap. 

[For the record, I have mostly unpacked, but there are some little things that havent made their way to where they belong, this is my tiny way of thinking I am somehow more prepared to run again, if necessary.]

 

Love from home

A

 

PS. In an attempt to humor my sister and her new favorite nickname for me, #stayathomemom, here are a hundred pictures of a kitten. I quickly fell for this little guy, who I found in a tree a few days after we arrived home.  He's a cryer and snuggler and a relentless beggar for human food.  He's playful and curious and jumps on anything in his path like a tiny jungle cat.  And now has been passed on to someone who can love him without sneezing.  

 

 

Ok, but seriously can you blame me for almost becoming a cat lady?! 

 

 

 

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/9/home Sun, 25 Sep 2016 22:50:52 GMT
Colorado cruisin http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/9/colorado-cruisin Spent most of week 8 enjoying the great state of Colorado.  Hot springs and red rocks and breweries and some incredible hospitality.

We had some rain in the Rocky Mountain National Park, but that didn't stop us from doing a couple beautiful hikes to lakes where the birch trees were already changing color, beautiful golden yellows.  The Rockies, of all the mountain ranges we have seen are pretty spectacular and massive, and the drive through the park was both difficult, (Goldie's sweet spot up a hill is right around 30mph, so we were chuggin along), and incredibly rewarding.  

Had some great recommendations from our good friend from Boulder and we had a great time there! Food and drinks & caramel apples & more excellent thriftstore finds (including an incredible Beyonce-esque one piece that I regrettably let slip through my fingers).  We also did a pretty tough hike up the Sanitas trail and I realized that despite weeks of hiking and not having my pack I was still really struggling to breathe up this mountain.  The elevation here is intense.  

Every once in a while when we visited a city that we wanted to go out in, we had to find a semi-inconspicuous place to park, in a neighborhood and sleep for the night.  This went well for us for the most part and we weren't bothered by anyone or awoken in the night and asked to GTFO.  So when we got to Boulder we decided we'd park it in a nice, quiet, historic neighborhood, walking distance to all the restaurants and bars, on the side of someones property. We came "home" to Goldie around midnight, went to sleep and awoke early to unfamiliar sounds.  Now remember, we are used to waking up surrounded by birds, maybe deer, elk, bunnies, wild horses, cows even.  All of their respective sounds, mixed with the soft shushes of the forest, familiar.  Children shouting, running, laughing, mom's chatting about schedules and pta meetings and dads scolding kids, "no, you cant play with RV," unfamiliar, jolting, in fact.  I sat up in bed, (well there is really no sitting up in bed when you've got the top bunk and you're 6 feet tall, so I crunched over, rather) to look down at Leyna who is laying still, and mouths to me, "don't move."  So we wait (at this bus stop!) for the chaos to subside and the moms and dads to disperse back to their homes, before we can move a muscle and start our day like the vagabond, street sleepers we are.  

And then, just like that, as if nothing happened at all we are cruising to Denver, to see the Dixie Chicks (who even after all these years, were incredible)!  

Denver was great, and such a break from our regular routine, we stayed with Leyna's cousin & his family.  Got to drive a regular sized car, which was an experience all in itself (why are we so low to the ground!? how are we going so fast?! lets parallel park right in front of where we are going!).  The hot showers, and warm beds & home-made cookies didn't hurt either.  What a treat! And a HUGE thanks again to Chad & Betsy and Molly for being so incredibly welcoming! 

    ‚Äč

Leaving Denver was bittersweet.  We knew we were now on the road home but we also knew we weren't in a hurry. So we spent the next few days soaking up every last bit of nature and wander we could.  

We hit our first major storms in New Mexico and then Palo Duro Canyon, where it rained through the nights, lightning so bright and thunder so crashing loud that you couldn't sleep. And yet, how calming, peaceful, refreshing it was to experience some real weather after weeks of nothing but sunshine and calm.     

And so you realize that sometimes, you're just stuck inside in the rain.  And that there really are treasures at the end of a rainbow. 

And that roadrunners, do exist. 

And so, from our final campsite, in Voss, Texas.  We wander home. 

Love from the road, 

A

 

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/9/colorado-cruisin Mon, 19 Sep 2016 16:56:26 GMT
Wow-oming! http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/9/wow-oming Week 7 started out in Yellowstone, and was, in a word, incredible. We spent cold, early mornings watching the sunrise and looking for wolves.   

We made friends with some of the diligent wolf watchers (who happened to have way better scopes and binoculars than we did) and got to catch peeks of their views.  And in the case of Howard, (who I initially thought must be this amazing wildlife photographer) I got to use his big zoom lens to help him see what we were seeing, because he literally couldn't see.  But he was there all the same, and stoked.  If you could adopt extra grandparents, he'd be it. 

The different landscapes and the vast array of wildlife in Yellowstone was amazing.  From wide open valleys full of bison, to numerous erupting springs, and breath-takingly stinky springs, insanely colorful landscapes, streams where elk roam and lakes, mountains and forest.  I was really smitten with all this park had to offer.  

It didn't hurt that we were able to experience a once in a lifetime kind of national geographic live situation involving a grizzly bear, the carcass of a young elk and a rare white wolf.  I will tell this particular story in more depth when I am back on solid ground, but I cant help but share this teaser from our 7 (yes, seven) hour stint watching these magnificent creatures.  

Due to some pretty intense (however,"contained") wildfires, our route leaving Yellowstone to head to the Tetons took a bit of a detour that landed us in Idaho for a night.  We found an incredible campsite (or rather cow field) for the night and enjoyed the beautiful farmland, and incredible night sky that was Idaho.  

Made it to Jackson Hole where we did everything from seeing the local rodeo & dancing at cowboy bars to getting massages and enjoying a spa day! Really loved the town and the vibe here - where you're super close to amazing hiking in the mountains and great coffee and shops and food in the town.  Breakfast one morning at Lotus Cafe was particularly overwhelming when I was faced an almost entirely gluten free spread that included biscuits and bison gravy, belgian waffles with blueberry ginger compote & donuts made in house.  Thats right, I ate all of it.  I am not sorry.  

The week ended on Sunday with an AMAZING view at the top of a canyon above Green River Wyoming getting as close as I could to a family of wild horses & falling completely in love.

Next is Colorado and its getting hotter, I can feel Texas coming.

Love from the road, 

 

 

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/9/wow-oming Sun, 04 Sep 2016 14:34:53 GMT
Montana sky http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/montana-sky This week started out at an amazing campsite on the edge of a cliff in ear and eye shot of Wapta Falls, a roaring waterfall down below.  We were outside of Banff national park.  I slept with the windows open that night and let it lull me to sleep. Nothing like falling asleep every night in the thick of nature, on a comfy bed.  RV life is where its at.

 

Banff was beautiful and we did hikes in Lake Louise and the park & shopped around the city.  We stocked up on sweaters for the upcoming chilly weather in Montana, as well as sweets from the candy shop (which it turns out is a travel must-have) & goodies from the farmers market.  I will never tire of the mountain views, and climbing to glaciers.  The water in the lakes and rivers near any mountain we've been to is more blue and clear than anything I had previously experienced and has without a doubt ruined all other bodies of water for me.  

We were allowed back into the US via Montana and rolled into St. Marys area of Glacier national park.  Spent our second rainy day thus far at a campsite outside of the park catching up on laundry and trying to stay warm.  The rain cleared up later in the evening, but we had our first night with temps around freezing! With great weather for the next couple of days, we explored Glacier.  One of my favorites places, thus far.  We saw so much wildlife and so many amazing views in such a short span of time.  

Hit another snag this week, on our way out of Glacier.  We had planned to camp somewhere on our way to Bozeman, MT and were cruising down the road in the middle of beautiful Montana countryside, commenting on it being just what we thought, big sky and big fields and not much else.  THWAAAACKK--ACKKK-ACKKK!  We blow the tread off another tire.  

We pull off the road and inspect, its the inner one on the drivers side.  We are scheming, and checking things and figuring out the next move when a really sweet older couple pulls over to check on us.  We decide to proceed slowly for a few a miles (since we have dualies in the back), but ultimately not feeling good about driving it anymore we pull over again, ready to call AAA to come tow us the 50 miles to the next town, or at least put our spare on.  Within two minutes of getting off the road the universe sends us two great guys who are on their way home from work and offer to change the tire for us!!  We were back on the road in the next 30 minutes and as if we werent already lucky enough, the guy who runs the tire shop in the next town offered to come back into the shop (after he had already closed) to get us a new tire and get us back on the road!  Incredible small town hospitality and kindness in Choteau, MT.  People dont talk enough about the generosity of others.  We live in a world where we are taught to be afraid of so many things and in embarking on this journey so  many people emphasized our need to be careful and be safe and be prepared.  While we can be aware of things and not naive to the evils in the world, I will no longer allow that fear to dictate my plans.  There is so much good in the world! 

Ended this epic adventure of a week taking it easy in Bozeman where we stumbled on a classic car show downtown, lots of good food and drink & some pretty friendly locals.  Now we are off to Yellowstone!   

 

Love from the road, 

A

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/montana-sky Thu, 25 Aug 2016 21:51:30 GMT
Canadian invasion. http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/canadian-invasion Week 5 started out at a rad little diner in Seattle, Luna cafe, complete with super old juke boxes at each individual table - ours unfortunately did not withstand the test of time and played us no music.  Said a sad farewell to our third wheel and headed immediately for the ocean!  

Fun fact: you can stay at most casinos in the US for free in your RV so we found one next to the beach and set up camp! Took a foggy beach walk and collected lots of perfect sand dollars in the morning.

 

Did you know Washington is home to a whole bunch of rainforest?! Awesome to walk through this lush oasis.  

Next comes the fun part.  In Seattle we joked about buying a barge and turning our RV into a house boat.  Seemed logical enough, so we decided to test it out with a little ferry ride over to Victoria and Vancouver Island.  Lovely trip.  We may or may not have seen a walrus.  (Leyna swears there were tusks).  It was definitely something, though we will probably never know what exactly.  What I am sure of is that is was not a whale and that despite blasting the Free Willy soundtrack as we got on and off the boat the whales decided not to show themselves to us this time around. Major bummer. [Big thanks to Gavin for the cd which got us pumped on childhood memories and opened alot of deep discussion regarding whether that movie would still be as good if we watched it now]

Totally enjoyed the island, great food and drinks in Victoria, drank too much wine at a bar as we got completely engulfed in our first glimpses of the Olympics, and the next day found an amazing lake campsite.  Spent an awesome day on Lake Cowichan soaking in the sun, swimming and taking in the scenery.  Days like this are great.  We spend alot of time moving around, either physically hiking, walking, exploring, or behind the wheel cruising and planning the next steps.  Having a still day or afternoon to really enjoy where we are is incredible.  Sidenote: Canada was hot.  We were all, "load up the sweaters and the blankets! We'll need 'em in Canada!"  Not true.  I got a sunburn.  (back in the states however [in real-time 8-18-2016, we just rolled into Montana today] we are currently testing out the RV heater, our thermal sleeping bags and prepping for lows of 29 degrees!!)  

 

Had a tough call to make after our island adventure, rolled into Vancouver late on Friday night and due to logistics decided to skip the city.  We instead drove up to Whistler where we stumbled upon a major mountain biking competition happening and had a great time!  Well to be honest, we earned our great time, by first hiking up Grouse Mountain (Grouse Grind, as it is affectionately named).  Its a 2800 ft climb over 1.8 miles, basically all "steps" carved into the landscape.  Lucky for us, this is a one way journey and you must ride the gondola back down, which was great because legs = jello. 

Enjoyed a walk around Rainbow park before heading out of Whistler on our long ride to Banff.  Gorgeous spot.  

Canada, in general, is beautiful. And you never forget where you are, since there is a maple leaf on everything. That and the credit card machines are bonkers, we've decided one in five Canadians has a personal card-swiper, which somehow still isnt enough as they always seem to need to get one from somewhere.  Also had some initial trouble with speed-limits, so we made a cheat-sheet post-it for the dash. 30kmph=17mph, $10Canadian=$7.50American, 4m=12ft (Goldie needs an 11' clearance height), unfortunately when paying for minutes in the RV park shower, there is no conversion, 5min Canadian=5min American and is not enough time. 

Heading to Banff to start off the next week, let the Canadian shenanigans continue!  

Love from the road, 

A

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/canadian-invasion Sun, 21 Aug 2016 20:50:15 GMT
Player 3 enters the game... http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/player-3-enters-the-game We started week 4 with our first rain (the only rain in 23 days!).  We had plans to hike at Mt Rainier and decided not to let the rain & cold and cloudy weather stop us.  This was a beautiful decision.  Watching clouds roll in and out of the mountains around us was incredible.  The fields of wild flowers around the mountains, covered in raindrops, and the glimpses of mountains and trees through thick fog made for gorgeous scenes.  

(this guy was so cute -- we are making new friends everywhere we go!)

We rolled into Seattle on Wednesday and spent Thursday exploring Pike market & the city.  Found some great little restaurants and bars.  ChaCha's, a red-lit, tiki/punk bar in a basement being the fan favorite.  

Things got quite the shake up Friday morning as westwewander hosted our first guest.  Picking someone up from the airport in an RV is a fun experience for all parties involved, probably more so for the person being scooped, but we were super excited to have Alex roll with us for a few days.  We went straight from the airport to the forest east of Seattle and spent the weekend climbing mountains, building upside down fires, swimming in glacier fed lakes, drinking Franzia and basking in the pure joy of Washington nature.  

We are officially in full-on "self-sufficient" mode and have been keeping the fridge stocked and the stove burning.  We've traded in our daily greasy diner fare for RV-home cooking (although we are still indulging on the good stuff every once in a while).  

Things are working great (we even tried out the heater this week!) and we did some fixes (note: fixing sewer hoses and black water tanks are not for the faint of heart) that will make the rest of the trip go more smoothly.  Currently stealing wi-fi from Starbucks and planning ferries into BC for later in the week!  Look out Canada, we comin'! 

 

Love from the road, 

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/player-3-enters-the-game Mon, 08 Aug 2016 22:59:17 GMT
Portland and berries and beaches... http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/portlandandberriesandbeaches The time is flying by.  Its crazy how much ground we've covered and at the same time how much it feels like we may have missed.  This week brought us strangely into territory that felt like the southwest again.  Maybe it was just a hot day, but Smith Rock in Oregon was brutal, sun beating down on red rock just like the southwest. There was, however, a river.  This made it different.  And despite the sweating, it was beautiful.  

 

We excitedly headed towards Portland, for cooler temps and the booze and food and all things weird. Quick (totally worth it) stop on the way at Multnomah Falls was amazing.  Super high waterfall (I believe, second highest in the US) with a lower area as well as a bridge you can hike up to.  I guess one time there was a wedding party taking photos there and a humongous (like probably small house, RV sized) chunk of rock fell into the mid-pond area causing a tidal wave that crashed over the bridge and injured a bunch of people.  This did not happen during my visit.  Thank goodness Grandma is lighting candles for my safety!

Rolling into Portland was immediately like Austin, in that we were stuck in traffic.  As soon as that broke up, it was unlike Austin (or anywhere else Ive ever been) in that we checked out the International Rose Test Garden. A beautiful landscape of thousands of rose-buds and hundreds of different kinds and colors of roses.  The smells and colors and vibes at this park were incredible.  I have never seen roses this big or fragrant or plentiful.  Seriously. A sight.  

The next couple days in Portland -- thanks to our great friend Jamie's sound advice on all things food and booze in Oregon -- we ate, we drank and we perused this very Austin similar town.  It  was great -- we have had such excellent weather thus far and it was no different here.  Sunny skies and cool breezes.  Also lets talk about berries. Oregon has invented a bunch of its own (or they have always been this way and I just didnt know) special berries and we were on the hunt for all things 'Marionberry" & "mountain huckleberry".   I may or may not have even went was far as eating several berries from the forest while hiking.  I am not sorry, they were delicious and I am still alive (thanks again Grandma).   Powell books (the flagship store) was amazing, and we could have easily spent an entire day here.  *Please note: we do not waste food.  90% of the time we are mid-western, plate scrapin' ladies and we put it away.  The meal shown below was at Bollywood, in Portland and was more than enough for Leyna and I, and, as pictured, it  disappeared. It was excellent.  

This is where the week got real interesting.  We ended up outside of Portland, in wine county, which was incredibly lovely.  There is this thing that happens in small towns where the locals talk and we happened to be listening.  We heard about this "old fashioned fest" that happens in Newberg, Oregon and this year was themed, Christmas in July.  Everyone was going to be there.  Including the local bar crowd one town over and so there was pretty much no way we were going to miss it.  Bright and early Saturday morning we hit the Rotary clubs all you can eat pancake breakfast and that was just the beginning of a day full of parade, cotton candy, fresh squeezed lemonade, dream catchers, kettle corn & general merriment.  Also we got sunburned. 

Full of  small town charm and sugar we left Newberg and headed for the coast.  I absolutely love the beach and the water.  Ive always thought someday I would live close to the ocean.  I am enamored by it.  We  had an excellent dinner at Sand Dollar and watched the sun set in Rockaway beach Saturday night and I could have stayed there forever.  

Ready for more of the coast, we hit Cannon beach, home of the famous Goonies treasure and incredible.  Its somehow even better that it was cloudy and foggy, I dont think it would look quite as good in the sunshine.  We also spent an afternoon in Astoria, cruising the local Sunday farmers market and watching boats come in and enjoying a cool day that called for layers and sweaters.   

 

 

 

Its been a great week -- let me leave you with some campsite photos, because we have been finding the coolest free spots to camp!  The white flowers were some of my favorites growing up, they used to spring up beside our house and back in the pasture.  We camped at a spot this week that was covered in them.  Super dreamy in the sunset. 

 

 

Oh, I almost forgot, we also saw Mount St. Helens.  Real life volcano + tiny cloud poof (because she is obviously dramatic).  

 

Love from the road, 

 

A

 

PS.  We have a cold refrigerator again!!! There are eggs and bacon and cheese and happy campers!!! 

 

 

 

 

 

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/8/portlandandberriesandbeaches Thu, 04 Aug 2016 02:13:38 GMT
Into the mountains... http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/7/into-the-mountains Week two started out in an incredible way, not only did we make it out of the desert heat (driving through death valley is as brutal as it sounds), but we made it to the mountains outside of Yosemite and a spectacular little campsite.  We had a view of the Sierras on one side and Mono lake on the other, incredibly peaceful spot. 

Mono lake, Lee Vining, CaliforniaMono lake, Lee Vining, California

We went to sleep under the stars and a hugely bright (almost full) moon, excited for the next couple days in Yosemite.   YosemiteYosemite

First hike in the park, up Mist trail to the top of this waterfall was breathtaking (due to both incredible steepness and beauty).  You feel like you're in a Bob Ross painting over and over again at this park.  The rocks and trees and nature are so big around you it almost feels fake.  As if spending the day in Yosemite isnt amazing enough, that night on our way out of the park and back to camp we experienced a full moon rising like I have never seen before. As if the mountains weren't cool enough already, just add the moon, wow.    

Outside YosemiteOutside Yosemite

After lots of hiking (and massive crowds) in the most popular spots in the park on day one, we decided to spend the next day in Yosemite off the beaten path.  We made our way out to Tenaya Lake and had ourselves a lazy beach day.  We found a totally quiet spot and read books and soaked in the sun and the clear water and the mountain air (which is literally fresher and cooler than regular air).  Not a bad way to spend a day. 

Tenaya Lake, YosemiteTenaya Lake, Yosemite

Tenaya Lake, YosemiteTenaya Lake, Yosemite

Well rested and ready to continue exploring, we headed to Lake Tahoe.  There are several facts about driving your home around that Ive learned and will share;  you cant park where ever the hell you want like everyone else and driving up and down and around mountains on narrow roads is crazy! (My station wagon is going to feel like a comfy cruiser after this, and I will never take for granted the thrill that is parallel parking again.)  After finally finding a spot atop the mountain surrounding Lake Tahoe, the only choice was down.  So we hiked down, the lake is massive and the views were amazing!

Lake Tahoe, CaliforniaLake Tahoe, California

Here is where things really got interesting.  As if climbing back up this mountain wasnt a challenge enough, we were suddenly faced with an even bigger, hairier obstacle.  There is something that happens when you see a bear.  Or something that happens to me when I see a bear, rather.  Your brain sort of goes, "Woah, whats that? Is that a bear? No way, its right in front of me. Oh it just looked at me, I think thats a friggin bear."  As I turned to get confirmation from another human of this bizarre thing my brain wasnt quite computing, Leynas eyes said it all.  She had already started moving back in the direction we had come and she was mouthing "come on!!!!" before I even had the sentence, "is that a bear!?" out of my mouth.  Heart pounding and out of sight from this bear, we paused to reflect.  Not but a few minutes later some chatty, happy, hikers come strolling along all casual from the bears direction and say "oh yeah, we saw it, its cool, just dont look at it and talk to each other as you go by."  Reluctant, we waited for a couple a suckers to come from the other direction and followed behind them (strength in numbers right?).  Well we got by unscathed, and I was even able to get a photo. In retrospect, the bear didnt want to have anything to do with us, as he had all he could ever want, right there in that garbage bag.  

PLEASE NOTE: Bears in photos appear smaller than bears in real life.    

Lake Tahoe, CaliforniaLake Tahoe, California

Having survived the bear encounter, and feeling more prepared than ever, we headed into Redwood National Forest, first having made it to the ocean, made it 'west' and literally feeling the air change again around us.  As a person who has spent the majority of life towering over other people, Ive never felt smaller or prouder of towering than in the massive Redwood forest.  These trees are massive. 

And as if we didnt have enough amazing bodies of water in our week (I didnt even mention a campsite we had one of these nights, that was up a trail from a gorgeous clear water stream where I swam around and watched the sun go down), we hit Crater lake on Day 14 and I was blown away.  This is the bluest, cleanest, clearest, coldest water Ive ever had the pleasure of being in.  Its supposedly one of the most pristine bodies of water on earth and I believe it.  Water so cold it makes your skin hurt, but you cant help yourself but to get in it. 

To sum up, we saw more beautiful landscapes and sights than I could have imagined in a single week.  We still have a non-functioning fridge (although we are hoping that changes tomorrow), but we've made the best of that by turning breakfasts into a challenge both in quantity of food consumed and in finding the cutest, small-town-iest, greasiest spoon diners around and it has been amazing. Sightseeing well, eating well. 

 

Love from the road, 

A

 

 

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/7/into-the-mountains Thu, 28 Jul 2016 03:19:34 GMT
And we're off... http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/7/and-were-off Wow!  I cannot believe that 11 days have passed since we left Austin.  If its possible time is moving equally quickly and slowly.  There are things we did some mornings that by night feel like they happened days ago.  We've covered alot of ground in not much time are and are still easing into our groove of road life.  Driving long distances in your home, through the desert, with out AC has proven to be incredibly beautiful, strenuous and sweaty.  The road trip CDs (most of which were an insanely awesome gift ya'll have shared with us) have been blaring over the noise of the wind as we sing along!  

WhiteSandsWhiteSands WhiteSandsWhiteSands

Week one was lots of driving, making it out of Texas alone is quite a feat, and on day one, with tread coming off our tires near Fort Stockton, we almost didnt.   Nice little RV park to sleep at, greasy diner breakfast and two new tires later we were back on the road.  Took a short break from the road at White Sands Monument, New Mexico to roast in the sun and learn about the different animal prints in the sand.  

Sleeping in National Parks along our route (which in most cases, is free btw, and so far not overly crowded) was an awesome break from the desert heat and even led to us busting out our sleeping bags to keep warm at night!  Not to mention all of the wildlife, deer, elk, bunnies that just sort of do their thing all around us, while we do ours.  Had a break from days full of driving when we made it to Bryce Canyon, Zion & the Grand Canyon.  This was my first time at all of these spots and I'll just say, that it is pretty awesome feeling that small.  The landscape and the colors are incredible and the vastness of the canyons was truly breathtaking!    

Lincoln National ForestLincoln National Forest

While the sights have been amazing and we've kept very busy from early morning until our new bedtime of 930pm (we are really embracing the old, retired vibes -- dinner early, bed early, awake early) there have definitely also been challenges. Like a fridge that has yet to get cold & a gas cap that had to be broken off with a crowbar.  We never have cell service, let alone wi-fi (even this RV park where I am currently writing from, might as well have dial-up).  But its great.  And we are easing in.   We know how to hook-up and fill up and cook on our stove and get the water hot, there are perfect cut outs in our fancy wood dash for our phones, our beds our cozy and the Franzia tap is full.  Learning everyday and embracing the journey.  

First meal on the stovetopFirst meal on the stovetop

Sending love from the road, 

A

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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/7/and-were-off Fri, 22 Jul 2016 07:24:53 GMT
Welcome to my new life... http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/6/intro I have some big changes unfolding in my life.  After almost 6 years with Hummingbird, I put in my notice and am currently transitioning out of my position as GM.  I will be coming to Kentucky/Ohio for a quick whirlwind work/visit trip in one week and then when I return to Austin I have 7 days to pack up for an epic adventure.  My (now 6 year!) roommate, Leyna, and I will be taking 8 weeks to go on a RV trip across the western half of the US and into Canada. After that, who knows!? I am currently focusing all of my energy on the complete nosedive into the unknown. Did I mention we actually bought an RV?! Its incredible!
 
We've spent the last 6 months researching and planning and are so excited to be nearing our departure date. We leave Monday, July 11th and expect to be back in Austin around Labor day. We've got a very rough route set and have a lot of beautiful places to visit along the way including, but not limited to, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park (plus lots more spots in Utah), Lake Tahoe, Redwoods National Park, lots of spots in Oregon, Washington, Vancouver, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, Denver, etc. Although we're pacing it out, we're leaving a lot of flexibility in our schedule so that we can mosey as we please, get lost and find our way again.  
 
Over these last few months, the bulk of our time has been spent looking for our RV, along with learning all the ins and outs of RV ownership. We decided to buy over renting (for multiple reasons) and have sorted through a lot of "not quite right" motorhomes. Finally, after much searching, we found our gal in Raleigh, NC and over Memorial day weekend we flew down and drove her back. She is a 91' Fleetwood Jamboree, 18 ft long (+ a lil junk in the trunk in the form of a cargo rack) with 35,000 miles & she is in great condition inside and out. We have affectionately named her Goldilocks (Goldie for short), as she is not too big, not too small, she's just right. [Desperately hoping for a (safe) photo opportunity with 3 bears!]  Did I mention we love her?! 
 
In addition to trying out this whole blogging thing, you can also stay up to date on our travels by following us on Instagram: @westwewander  (I'll also be posting on my personal one @ahoffman_art) Don't have Instagram? Get it, it's cool (and easy to use). 
 
Stay tuned, I cant wait to share this adventure with you guys! 
 
 
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amandahoffmanart@gmail.com (Amanda Hoffman Art) http://amandahoffmanart.com/blog/2016/6/intro Wed, 22 Jun 2016 02:30:25 GMT