Hello, I’m Camille.

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  • 2023- Group Travel Options

    Yes, options. Meaning, more than one! Thanks to the responses from my friends and followers, and my own obsession with travel planning, I have decided to offer 2 group trips this year (I do have the whole summer off, after all!) . The choices are:

    Spain and Portugal: Ten day group trip of the highlights of Spain and Portugal. This includes 2 nights in Barcelona, 2 nights in Granada, 1 night in Porto and 3 nights in Lisbon. The target dates are July 18-July 27, 2023. The target group size is 8-10. Price: $1300 + airfare and food. You can read all about it here. You can sign up for it here. Application deadline is March 14, 2023.

    South Korea: Ten day group trip of the highlights of South Korea. This includes 1 night in Seoul, 2 nights in Busan, 1 night in Gyeongju, and ending back in Seoul for 4 nights. The target dates are August 3-12, 2023. The target group size is 8-10 people. Price: $1300 + airfare and food. You can read all about it here. You can sign up for it here. Application deadline is March 14, 2023.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for even entertaining this idea. I am hopeful that together we can make a summer of incredible, unforgettable, memories.


  • Springing Back to Life as Normal

    On April 1st, New York ended its travel quarantine requirement, which means I no longer have to quarantine to see my family AND the tourists have returned.

    It was a special time without tourists here. I will never forget it.

    But it’s very, very nice to have them back. Or, more specifically, it’s very nice that my friends and family can be tourists and visit me. It’s nice that most of the museums and events are opening up again. (Except Broadway. Broadway isn’t open yet.) And it’s very nice that indoor dining is back and outdoor dining is here to stay.

    All the niece and nephews came to visit. The selfie game is strong.

    Spring this year has felt like hope. It’s been as deliciously warm here and it seems like a thousand trees are in bloom all at once. My social life is starting to balance out and my students have been funnier to me in the last week than they usually are. It feels like there’s hope, and I’m grateful for that.

    One of my highlights this month was a staycation in Manhattan over Easter weekend with local friends. I wanted an adventure and I didn’t want to quarantine. Manhattan was just the ticket. We stayed in Chelsea at the Moxy and it was perfect. The rooms were efficient (no closets) but beautiful. And the view was 100% worth it. It’s also conveniently located to great food and short train rides to anywhere you’d like to go.

    All in all, my highlight of our staycation was the food. Maman (French cafe), Grace Street Coffee (Korean coffee shop), Koko Wings (Korean fried chicken), and Milk Bar (specializing in cereal milk desserts) are all lasting delicious memories.

    Since this is a travel blog I should also mention the museum my sister discovered when she came to visit. The Morgan Library and Museum was the personal library of JP Morgan. It’s a bit over priced, in my opinion, but very, very interesting! And pretty. And not too crowded. So we still liked it.

    And that’s how life is going… slowly getting back to normal.

    Maybe some day soon I’ll be able to plan a ‘real’ trip somewhere. Until then, Manhattan helps.

  • I Will Know the Pandemic Is Over When

    These days new topics of conversation are a little hard to come by, especially if you enjoy over-analyzing like I do. With the start of 2021, even more than most years, we have breathed a collective sigh of relief to end the year that can’t be named. Now, most of the people I know have actually had a decent year, myself included, and have grown in some really important ways. But, universally, it’s been tough and we all are holding our breath to see what’s next.

    So we’ve begun the topic, “When will life be back to normal?” which is especially hard to answer when I’m not sure what ‘normal’ means anymore. I, like most of you, have been forever changed by 2020, probably in ways that I don’t realize yet. I’m not saying it’s changed me more than some other years, but it’s been a big one.

    So I’ve started a list: How I Will Know the Pandemic is Over. (aka- Things I Took For Granted) I think ‘life going back to normal’ is too vague, but I am curious when we will get to stop using the phrase, ‘We are in a pandemic!‘ to explain ourselves.

    Here we go!

    I Will Know the Pandemic is Over When:

    • I can make plans without making sure they are cancelable, refundable, or contingent.
    • I can remove the lamp by my desk (who’s sole purpose is to shine on me during zoom meetings).
    • I can work out at my local Y (that has been closed since March) without a mask.
    • I don’t have to quarantine to visit my family. (I’m sitting in day 5 of said quarantine right now.)
    • I don’t have to screen my friends before hanging out with them. What precautions do you take? Who do you see in your daily life? Are you ok with the precautions I take?
    • All the things are open and I can make plans to go there without researching if they still exist. Restaurants. Movie theaters. Broadway. Libraries. All the things.
    • Hugs and cheek kisses at church. I know, not so common in the Menno world, but cheek kisses are all the rage at my church here in Brooklyn and I do miss being able to greet people properly.
    • All my students attend in person, 5 days a week. Currently some of my students attend 5 days a week. I guess that’s progress…
    • We don’t have to social distance or wear masks at church. Let’s just say, I’m looking forward to singing, uninhibited, in a crowd. (Like heaven is, you know.)
    • I go to places to meet new people. It feels like a long time since I made a new friend.
    • WE CAN TRAVEL, OUT OF THE COUNTRY! I’m a big fan of travel returning some day. It’s not too soon to start planning for 2022, right?
    • We say ‘remember when…’ and remind ourselves to be grateful for all the things on this list.

    When I look back at 2020 I marvel at the history we’ve experienced as a city. Shutdowns, sirens, semi trailer morgues!, curfew, riots, cheering in the streets. New York is fundamentally different and we as a people cannot live outside of that change. It affects us too.

    But if I have learned anything in the past year it is that God is in control and He is faithful.

    So here’s to 2021. To the hope that this pandemic will end. But more assuredly, here’s to faith that God is big enough for whatever is coming next.

  • Upstate Escape

    It only seems appropriate that my sister who owns an escape room was the person to bring me a little fall respite from the city. So, this travel hearted girl finally got to do the smallest bit of travel this year.

    It was Columbus day weekend and fall had just begun. I wanted to see some foliage and leave the city while I could, so I persuaded my guests to abandon part of their itinerary for a few days and travel out. New Yorkers talk about going upstate all the time and now I finally get the hype.

    We headed north and soon found the green fading into oranges and reds. We headed to West Mountain to ride the ski lift up and hike down. Word to the wise, don’t go 30 minutes before closing, it’s not fun to be rushed. Also, ski trails are rather steep to walk down…. but it was still fun.

    Yes, obviously I have the cutest nephew. How would it be any other way?

    From there we headed to Lake George for New England town vibes. We didn’t like where we ate, so I have no food recommendations for you, but it was still a visit worthy town.

    We spent the night in a castle in Amsterdam, NY, because we could. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I spend money on things I wouldn’t normally because all my trips got canceled. Castle hotel rooms are definitely one of them.

    Our destination on day two was John Boyd Thatcher State Park for a short hike and wild foliage views. It has a wide variety of trail lengths and stunning vistas. I highly recommend.

    Our drive home included a stop at a local produce stand adjacent an apple orchard. Quintessentially essential, I’d say.

    And that was it, my only trip for the entire year that required any amount of travel and exploring. Needless to say, I was thankful it could happen. The day my sister and co. left, Ohio was added back on the quarantine list.

    This year has been a lot of ‘take what you can’ but I’d say, even on a good year, upstate New York in the fall is still worth visiting.

  • NYC, Pandemic Edition

    This is the fifth and final installment in my Quarantine Chronicles Series. If you’ve missed any, there is still time to catch up!

    Yesterday I covered what it was like to live ‘on pause’ in Brooklyn (the governor’s words, not mine) as we came down from the peak. Brooklyn was one thing, but Manhattan was a whole other level, so it gets its own post.

    When the pandemic hit, something like 40,000 people fled the island to their summer homes and remote airbnbs. Add that to the removal of college students and tourists from the island, and the city felt totally changed. I had been seeing things on social media about how empty it was. Words like ‘post apocalyptic’ had been tossed around as click bate, so I had to see it for myself. Coincidentally, my first trip into Manhattan ended up being the day my friend was supposed to have her commencement, so we decided to turn it into a graduation photo shoot as well.

    First we went to the Flat Iron District. There was one lane traffic on the tunnel into Manhattan and I didn’t have to slow down. I parked next to the Flat Iron Building without having to look for parking. I cannot emphasize enough HOW unusual that is. Especially for a weekend evening in May. Now, oddly enough, it was snowing that day, so our apparel does not match the season.

    A very empty Madison Square Park.

    From there we headed to Times Square. I found free parking, without circling, within a block. Times Square itself was blocked off so we wandered the streets and people congratulated Liebe on graduating.

    On our drive home we drove through a neighborhood I’ve frequented, usually crammed by crowds and traffic. Passing it in a full speed drive gave me shivers. The emptiness made everything more accessible, but also served as a reminder that all was not right in the world.

    The following week I hit Manhattan again, this time for a social distancing picnic in Central Park and a walk through lower Manhattan with a friend.

    Central Park was full, in a very different way. Usually it is a transient place, with tourists and bike carriages crawling through. This time it was for locals. We all spread out on the lawns and picnicked for hours. Birthday parties. Reunions. A few live musicians. We savored it. It felt like the whole city woke up with nothing to do but go and sit on the lawn.

    Following my picnic lunch I went to meet up with a friend from grad school. We roamed lower Manhattan and marveled at the emptiness, amused that all the people and statues have masks now.

    The interior of the Oculus

    I drove home across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m pretty sure views like this are historic. To live in a time when I need to set my cruise control to not get caught speeding on the cameras in NYC is something else.

    What I learned from my Manhattan adventures:

    1. While post apocalyptic is an exaggerated term, Manhattan during this season was NOT normal.
    2. Since indoor dining is still not happening, it is very hard to find a public bathroom. Such a bother.
    3. The ‘new normal’ is already here. Newyorkers, like no where I’ve been this summer, have a mutual agreement of social etiquette. When to mask, how to greet, how close to sit on the train. There seems to be a shared idea of how that looks for this city. I don’t know how long masks and social distancing will be mandated, but I suspect it will be around here, in some form, for a long while.
    4. For this one season, the city was just for locals. I think it’s an important reminder that you should choose well where you live, because you need to be happy if you are stuck there.

    We have reached the end of my Quarantine Chronicles Series. Thank you for joining me and making my week more productive. I hope something this week has inspired you- to travel more when you can, to remember the good trips you’ve had, or to be grateful for the ways your summer turned out better than you expected. I think so much of our struggle with COVID is a struggle with the realization that we aren’t in control. In response we often fight to maintain control of the few things that still feel within our grasps. It is very humbling to let go of our plans for the year, even the day, and trust that God is in control, as He promises. Tomorrow I get to break free from my apartment and see how my city has changed in the past 6 weeks. My prayer is that we walk in humility as we navigate this new normal together.

  • Brooklyn on Pause

    This is my fourth post in my Quarantine Chronicles Series.

    You may remember my post in April about balancing sane and safe. I didn’t know then, but that week was our peek in New York. My memories from that time are a little trauma informed. As a city, we are very happy to be on the other side of that hill and pretty serious about not wanting to return to it. As I mentioned at the beginning of this week, NY has a list of states that require mandated quarantines. At this point, that list contains 35 states/territories. Obviously, we are taking this seriously.

    But in the midst of all of this, I have discovered a silver lining. NYC without tourists. I know, it is VERY BAD for our economy and people’s livelihood. But back in May, when we were still ‘on pause’ with no hope of entering reopening phases any time soon, it felt like a gift.

    I first left my neighborhood after the shutdown to have a social distancing picnic with a friend at another park in Brooklyn. We brought our own blankets and had separate food. We kept our 6 ft when our masks were off. And we were so surreally happy to be out. And that’s how it felt, surreal, like the whole park was full of people who were happy to not be inside. Kids throwing balls. Kites flying. Someone with flags to twirl. Everyone happy to be out, but also, very conscience of keeping our 6 ft.

    The next weekend I ventured out a little further and hit the beach. I live on an island, so the beach isn’t far, but without the usual traffic, we made it there in record time! It was May so the beach wasn’t open. But it was very pleasant for strolling and sitting and, again, feeling blessed to have a place to go outside that felt safe. We actually went 2 days in a row because we loved it so much!

    A few weeks later I has another social distancing picnic at that same park in Brooklyn. This time it didn’t feel so surreal. Instead, it was just nice. Nice to catch up with friends I couldn’t see for awhile. Nice to be outside. Nice to find parking so easily in Park Slope. Also, the city has closed down streets to vehicle traffic during the day to give pedestrians more places to walk without running into each other. It’s called ‘Open Streets’. That’s very nice too.

    The adventures continued with an exploration of DUMBO and the Brooklyn Bridge on Memorial Day. Memorial Day, you know, the official kick off to summer in the city. My friend and I walked the Bridge and got Eggs Benedict to go from my favorite dinner. They weren’t that pretty by the time we got the the promenade to sit and enjoy them, but they were still delicious. Please let the emptiness in these photos sink in.

    The following week was the last week before my COVID adventure buddy Bekah was moving home, so we got creative with picnics and we had our first in person church thing, a walk by farewell.

    So, that was Brooklyn in May. I was very intentional then about who I included in my ‘inner circle’ and those people became my social lifeline. We are social creatures, created for relationship, and I will forever be thankful for the relationships that showed up for me during this season.

    Come back tomorrow for the final Quarantine Chronicle, a view of Manhattan this spring.

About Me

Hello! I’m Camille. Thanks for stopping by!

I am a full time speech therapist and a part time traveler, world pandemics aside.  I currently live in Brooklyn, New York but I’m from the Midwest.  My travel opportunities tend to come in cycles, but when I have the chance, I love to talk about them. I didn’t travel much growing up, unless you count summer trips to my great grandparents in Iowa. I would say that I grew into it, starting with trip planning my senior spring break trip to Sarasota, FL and growing from there.  I managed to squeeze in some destinations during college but my passport really got a boost when I graduated, adding 20 countries and numerous stateside cities to the list since then.  I tend to be a little type A in that I like lists and planning but city living and globe traipsing have taught me a lot about flexibility and resilience.

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