Quarantine Chronicles: Escape to Siesta Key

Spring is here!!! YESSSS!!! I am so ready for the warmer weather and increased daylight! The birds will be chirping more and more, flowers will be blooming. Though I missed out on some winter snowy activities, I am tired of winter coats. I am over of heavy layers. I am sick of not being able to spend long hours outside without shivering. Plus winter during a pandemic definitely had it’s effect on my mental wellbeing. Thankfully I was able to squeeze in a vacation towards the end of this winter season. I escaped the Michigan cold for a few days to Siesta Key, Florida.

My partner had not travelled in over a year before the pandemic so there was some apprehension with the COVID-19 risks especially with air travel. Obviously, the safest place is your home with no one visiting you, but life must go on. And there are ways, as we all should know by now, to reduce the risk of catching and spreading this virus. When it comes to indoor situations, I choose to double mask; this includes grocery stores, airports and airplanes. I’ll write more about this in my next post. But as for my partner, I assured him that we would take all the necessary precautions to avoid human contact. HAND SANITIZER ON DECK!!!

Back to the trip to Siesta Key. The cheapest way to get to Siesta Key outside of driving is to fly into Tampa and then drive less than an hour to the city. Your other option is to fly into Sarasota which is about 15 minutes from Siesta, but the flight tickets were quite expensive. We flew into Tampa and rented a car, which we didn’t use once we got to Siesta. They have a free shuttle that goes up and down the city, masks required. We stayed in a hotel about a block away from the beach and block away from a few hot spots.

We stayed in Siesta Key for 3 short nights. Of course the weekend we chose to have a sunny and hot vacation, the weather decided to be cool and wet. When I say cool, I mean temps between the low 60s and low 70s Fahrenheit. On our first full day, we were able to sneak in a morning run up Siesta Key Beach from our hotel to the village center for breakfast. We literally got to the restaurant just as the rain came down. And it poured all through the day until about 4pm. But that didn’t ruin the our day one bit. After breakfast, we went back to the hotel and jumped into the outdoor hot tub. Let me tell you, that was an amazing experience. The heat from the hot tub on my submerged body mixed with the coolness of the gentle rain on my head made for a spa like treatment. Then after a quick hot shower, I napped all day until the rain stopped and the sun came out.

After the nap we decided to check out the beach for a little bit before heading out to dinner. That Gulf Coast water is always a sight to see. The turquoise hue is absolutely stunning. One can tread the shallow clear waters for miles into the ocean! For the next couple of days, we spent hours lazing around on the beach, listening to music, picking up shells, tossing around the frisbee and swimming in the water. The water wasn’t as warm as I wanted it to be since the temperature was cool, but it was still enjoyable. And we always made sure to stay away from the crowds to be safe. Hint: look for the hidden public beach access points instead of going to the main Siesta Key Beach location.

Now Siesta Key is known for it’s super soft sand, but we didn’t really experience the softness because it was compact. I’m assuming it was the rain and cool temperature that pushed the sand together. We only knew the softness after digging our toes into the sand. Despite the sand, the beach definitely made our much needed vacation all the more relaxing.

Now something unexpected was the amount of unbelievably delicious food this town had to offer. I was only disappointed once, and that was on the last night. Luckily, we made up for it with breakfast and lunch the day after before heading back to Tampa. Thankfully, every restaurant we went to offered outdoor seating!

For breakfast we ate at Another Broken Egg Cafe, a franchise with about 10 locations in the US:

Bonjour French Cafe, a French immigrant owned cafe with the most delicious croissants:

And Meaney’s mini donuts, a corner shop serving the cutest yummiest little donuts:

Other noteworthy spots to check out are the Cottage which serves up Asian inspired eccentric dishes. The creativity on the menu is inspired!

And Pizza N’ Brew, this hole in the wall looking pizza/bar spot serving up some really delicious tomato sauce. Very important for pizzas and calzones!

It can be difficult sometimes to remember the goodness of God when you’re focused on the unanswered prayers. I’ve been beating myself the past few days in regards to this one prayer I’ve been praying for over 2 years. Though I won’t stop reminding God of my plea, I need to remember and give thanks for the answered prayers. I found love during a stay-at-home pandemic. I found companionship during isolation. I’ve been protected thus far from the virus and any other sicknesses (thank you masks). Somehow, I’ve been able to afford to travel a few times. I’m grateful to God for creating the opportunity to actually travel. It’s definitely a privilege I’m not taking lightly during these times. The more I travel, the less anxiety ridden I am with going outside and congregating during the pandemic. Masks are still very much vital to stopping the spread and getting things back to “normal”. So is avoiding crowded areas, and staying within your social pods. As more vaccines are being rolled out and people just stay diligent, patient and responsible with mitigating the spread, we can start reuniting with ease. I’m looking forward to the trips planned for this year. Hopefully they actually happen lol. And if you are comfortable enough with traveling and are looking for a mellow and simple vacation, I would recommend Siesta Key. This was probably my most restful vacation ever! In the meantime, please continue to stay safe. It’s not just about you…it’s also about others around you.

Much love to you, my readers!!

Quarantine Chronicles: Snowboarding

As you may know, I live in Michigan. If you didn’t know, the winters up here are tundra like. Now, I am the type of person that loves the outdoors. I love the fresh air. I love the physicality of just being outside. I believe I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but winter is a hard month for me. I am somewhat forced to stay inside for majority of the season. It sucks! But I need to adapt. So I am finding ways to enjoy the outdoors without freezing my backside off. Snowboarding! Last time I went snowboarding was with my family in North Carolina (see pic above). Man oh man! That was a lot of fun! It was on an actual mountain too. Shade, Shots, Burn at Michigan! While my brother decided to be all fancy, and went snowboarding in Colorado (yes I’m jealous), I decided to stay local and try out one of the close by ski resorts in Michigan.

Michigan isn’t known for mountains, but they do have decent hills for a good ski and snowboard trip. The best places to get some good altitude would be up north or the upper peninsula. I certainly hope to make it up there this winter; depending on the way my account is set up. But thankfully, there are a few resorts in the south east region of Michigan. This day, I went to Alpine Valley Ski Resorts in White Lake which is about 50 minutes from Detroit.

We got there as soon as the resort opened at 9am in order to avoid the crowds (hello social distancing) and long lines. Me not being an avid snowboarder rented my gear; boots, snowboard, and helmet. Thank God I got the helmet!! It had been so long since I went snowboarding I didn’t even know how to attach my boot to the snowboard. I felt like a complete dunce in front of my boyfriend, an experienced snowboarder. He owns his own gear. Already failing at being a badass, I humbled myself and decided to try out the bunny hill before hitting the more advanced slopes. So glad I did! I wiped out almost immediately as I attempted to descend the hill. In one brilliant motion, I landed hard on my tailbone before my head made contact with the ground. Thank God I got the helmet!! It took me about 15 minutes on the bunny hill before I convinced myself that I was ready for the big girl slopes! Plus I didn’t want to deprive my partner of having fun. He was absolutely patient and encouraging the entire time.

Getting up the main slopes was at first intimidating but I wasn’t going to waste my day in fear. I went for it. I fell many times. I sat down a lot trying to catch my breath…and also figuring out how to re-attach my boot to the snowboard. I found solace in the fact that I wasn’t the only adult wiggling in imbalance and falling over every few seconds. But overall it was an amazing day. I finally kind of, sort of, got the hang of not falling and actually making my way down the slope. I was like a baby learning how to walk. You know that excitement and joy they have when they waddle around and fall? That was me with my snowboarding partner cheering me on. You can check out my Instagram reel here for the video.

Alright, let’s get into the life lesson I’ve learned thus far. I know I haven’t blogged in a minute. I was trying to adjust to 2021 and recalibrate myself. I’m still struggling with finding a regular job. I’ve been on a few interviews where I killed it. But the position would always go to someone who had more experience than me. I’m currently in the middle of interviewing with a new company. Pray for me y’all! I’m also having surgery in a couple weeks. I’ll discuss this in a later post. So life’s been a bit stressful.

I’m really trying to manage my mental health as I navigate living life during this pandemic. And one of the ways to manage my health is by being active, going outdoors and spending time (physical and virtual) with people I love. I’m grateful to have had the privilege of going snowboarding. To be honest, through everything, my God has been so good to me. Yes I’m unemployed, yes I’m going through a health scare, but somehow God has been providing me with joy, experiences, finances etc. Even when my faith is weak, He finds a way to revive my weary heart. And so with what I learned from snowboarding, I get knocked down, but I get up again. Insert Tubthumping by Chumbawamba. I at least owe God the will to keep trying and never give up. He never gives up on me.

One more thing, please keep wearing your mask!!! Thanks, management.

Twenty One

New Year, New Me. I’m going to keep this entry short for I do not have enough words to express. I have to be honest with you and myself. One of my goals this year is to be intentional about the fruit of the spirit in my life i.e. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Not only must I have these with my relationship with God and others, but also with myself. First and foremost, I must forgive myself for having flaws. There are so many things I didn’t do and failed at last year. I was given a few opportunities that would’ve been grand but I dropped the ball far too many times. To be honest, I’m still trying to get over the shame of it. I found myself once again in a perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis cycle. Talk about your tongue twister. But you know what? I am not perfect and I am done striving for perfection because it has done nothing but fail me. So from the acceptance of my imperfection, I am looking towards the fruit aforementioned to help me through this year in accomplishing my goals.

One of my goals is to be more frequent and intentional with my blog posts. I’m expecting more topics relating to travel, living as an immigrant in America, and faith. I am after all The USAfrican. So with all that being said, I wish you all a happy new year! Let’s be kind to ourselves and to one another. Stay safe!



Christmas in Frankenmuth

My goodness! If you’re reading this you’ve survived 2020 thus far! Boy has it been a whirlwind of a year. So many of our cheers were overshadowed by head tilts, facepalms, heartbreaking moments. But before I go off on a tangent, this post is not the annual end of year reflection piece. It’s about the holidays! Christmas time is here! Between you and me, my Christmas came at the beginning of November. I started watching Christmas movies as soon as Hallmark and Lifetime released them. Shortly after I was listening to Pentatonix mid November. Next thing I knew, I was decorating my place before Thanksgiving! I even bought majority of presents before December. Because so many events this year were out of my control and my mental health was taking a toll, Christmas (my favorite time of the year) was the one thing I felt I could control. I needed the joy and merriment that comes with the holidays. The cheesy movies provided a sense of unrealistic but appreciated consistent happy endings. The tunes brought coziness as they describe the feelings of gathering around a fire while it’s cold outside. Then there’s the celebration of hope that comes with the reminder of God’s gift to us, the birth of Jesus. Christmas came early for me because I yearned the comfort. I needed to be distracted from the uncertainty, the chaos, the paralysis, and ugliness taking place. More on that on my end of year reflection piece.

As you should know, I love to travel and explore places. This year I didn’t go out as much because of the pandemic, but I found opportunities to discover new places in Michigan, Georgia and California. Being in the positive Christmas spirit, I decided it was time to go out and explore some place new. Somewhere I could embrace the sights and sounds of Christmas in America. Luckily, such a place is Frankenmuth, Michigan. Frankenmuth is small town about an hour from me that is known for it’s Bavarian flare and Christmas vibes. Thanks to the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce, I was able to have a wonderful (and safe) Christmas experience.

I stayed at the Marv Herzog hotel for the night. Of course because of the pandemic, I was a bit weary. It was my first time staying in a hotel this year. Thankfully the lobby was empty but clean and festive. The staff wore their masks. Even the woman serving the complimentary wine and beer wore gloves and stood behind a screen. If you do book a room here, make sure to get the river view.

There’s a lot of beautiful German architecture all through main street, but my favorite spot was definitely the River Place Shops. It reminded me of the little downtown shopping centers I used to visit when I lived in Europe. That bit of nostalgia definitely hit the spot for me. If you’ve ever watched The Princess Switch on Netflix, the River Place Shops kind of looks like downtown Belgravia. Of course they had places to shop and eat. I had the most delicious eggnog latte from La Crepe Du Jour, yummy beignets from N’Orlins and some incredible whiskey from Grand Traverse Distillery. Unfortunately, with the pandemic there was no indoor seating and sitting outside in the Michigan winter is not for the faint hearted. Although, you can sit in one of those bubble things that have popped up this year (pun intended) at the Frankenmuth Visitor and Welcome Center.

I didn’t get to do as many activities as I had hoped due to personal reasons. My trip was actually cut short. But at least I got to try one of the famous chicken dinners from Zehnder’s Cafe. Next time I visit I have to give the Bavarian Inn’s chicken dinners a try and then decide on which is better.

If you’re ever looking for the cutest and coziest Christmas getaways, check out Frankenmuth.org for more details on where to stay, where to go, what to do, what to eat etc. You will not be disappointed especially at night time. The lights were FANTASTIC! I’ll definitely be heading back into the town during summer. I heard that’s also great time to visit! Until then, AUF WIEDERSEHEN Frankenmuth! If you live in America, you can check to see if there is any Bavarian town in your state. I’m sure it’ll be worth the visit, like the time I went to Helen which is about an hour from Atlanta. Anyway, in the meantime, I hope to have a happy Christmas. And I wish you one as well. Also…mask up and keep your social distance!

Birthday Trip to Catalina Island: Part 2

I’m already California dreamin’ as the fall weather here in Michigan begins to settle. As pathetic as this sounds, the only things keeping me warm at the moment are my fuzzy socks, blanket and the happy memories of Catalina. Santa Catalina is an American island paradise 22 miles off the coast of southern California. With picturesque landscapes and a quaint but bubbly town, this destination was perfect for celebrating my 2020 30th birthday. As I had mentioned in my previous post, I had plans to celebrate my birthday in Italy and then Uganda. But as we are all aware, making plans this year is almost laughable. The key to survival seems to be plan as you go. And that’s how I ended up on this hidden gem of an island with the people I love in September. ZERO REGRETS!

The weather was lovely, the people were friendly, I was with my family. Despite the few bumps, it was all almost perfect. Story time: Apparently, the island was experiencing a bee infestation. Hello 2020!! And throughout the entire trip the bees would focus on my sister who absolutely hates bugs. As she squealed up and down, running back and forth with her shoulders hunched up, a natural reaction to a physical threat, I would proudly give her tips on how to not get stung. I’d tell her to relax and mind her business. But irony came in the form of a nasty bee sting on my right thigh which has only just healed after a week. What was I doing? Minding my own business, cruising in the passenger seat of the golf cart. Also a note to the reader who is thinking of visiting Catalina: You should definitely pack a few sweaters and sweatshirts for night time!

If any of the Mediterranean cities and any of the Caribbean cities decided to get together and make a baby with southern California, you would get Santa Catalina. That’s the best way I can explain it. Descanso beach and Hamilton Cove make you feel like you’re in Greece or Spain. The yachts in the blue water give off a Monaco vibe. The colorful buildings on the hills and the tourist luring shops in Avalon are reminiscent of the likes of the US Virgin Islands. Everything else was very Californian.

Let’s talk food and dining, a favorite past time of mine. Our go to spot was Mrs T’s Chinese Kitchen…but for beignets! These warm and fluffy pastries of heaven fueled the mornings. Her place is a bakery in the morning and a Chinese restaurant in the afternoon. I unfortunately never had the opportunity to try out her lunch food, but I was well satisfied with her beignets.

Honorable mentions are Catalina Coffee & Cookie Company that boasts a long line every morning with people trying to order coffee, sweets and breakfast sandwiches. They even gave me a free birthday coffee! They’ll always have a special place in my heart for that. Bluewater Avalon is a great restaurant for delicious seafood and ambiance. Luau Larry’s is another mentionable spot because you get a free straw hat when you order a special cocktail! Plus their coconut shrimps are delicious!! Also, if you do happen to visit Catalina during a pandemic, be prepared to sit outside…probably on the beach. I don’t think any of the restaurants had indoor dining. Oh, did I mention to bring a sweater? BRRR!

It wouldn’t have been a complete vacation if I didn’t indulge in some action! Bring out the jet skis!!! I already love being out in the water. It’s one of my favorite summer activities. Add adrenaline inducing high speed jet skis…YESSSSS! And this was one of my best experiences with a jet ski rental company. They gave us the rules, our parameters and then let us do our own thing. Of course I went all the way full throttle into the Pacific ocean!

You can buy this bathing suit here

And last but not least, an unexpectedly adventurous activity was the bison excursion. Long story short, about a century ago a number of bison were introduced to the island for an old Hollywood movie. A lot of movies have been shot on this island. Anyway, when the film wrapped up, the bison were left behind. Those bison reproduced and reproduced and now they’re all over the place. Of course the humans are doing their part to regulate the population of the herd. I did have a pulled bison sandwich for dinner on my first night!

Our driver took us on an adventurous and adrenaline raising ride up and down the 47884 acres of land that make up the island. My two favorite natural occurrences are large bodies of water and mountains. My heart was blissful as I gazed the landscape and saw mountain and ocean meet.

Now with my posts, I would usually end with a little life story with an inspirational ending, but I’m going to keep it short and simple this time around. My pastor challenged the congregation to be the source of joy to someone else. And now I am passing on the challenge to you my readers as well. Today’s current atmosphere has caused people’s emotions to be heightened. We all could use a little joy. And sometimes it’s hard to find joy that’s right in front us because we’re distracted by the hurts and disappointments in our lives. Heck, I even cried today shortly after hearing my pastor’s sermon because I too was quickly distracted. But a simple text from my mum dried my tears. She wasn’t even aware of my emotional breakdown. She pointed me to another sermon describing the portrait of God through Psalm 23…The Lord is my shepherd. I needed that reminder. There are others out there that need a reminder either through words of affirmation, physical touch, or an act of service. Even your presence alone can be the source of someone’s joy. Your act of kindness could be someone’s saving grace. Either way I challenge you to seek joy and be a source of joy!

I know I said I was going to keep it short and simple, but the words just kept coming. My bad! Stay blessed!

Birthday Trip to Catalina Island: Part 1

view from my Hamilton Cove apartment

THIRTY. YEARS. OLD. Wow!! This is a huge milestone especially for women. I expected life to be quite different at thirty from my current reality. The whole cliche of having settled down with a husband, at least one child and stable career. But to be honest, I haven’t had the most vanilla cookie cutter life. I honestly don’t think that’s what God intended for me. I am miracle baby and my name literally means the work of God…and God isn’t vanilla lol. I most definitely was not going to have a basic 30th birthday celebration either. Oh no! After how painful and confusing my twenties were, I owed it to myself to celebrate and embrace this new decade of my life. The year 2020 tried it with the pandemic and banning Americans from travel. My original plan was to spend a few days in Italy and then go on a missions trip to Uganda. But I am The USAfrican. So with the help from my sister, we decided to move the trip to Santa Catalina Island, a paradise off the coast of California. I partnered with Love Catalina Island and Catalina Express and ended up having one of the best birthdays ever!

How I got there…

It was a smooth and comfortable ride as we sailed from Long Beach to the city of Avalon. My family and I relaxed in the Commodore Lounge of the Catalina Express boat where we were provided complimentary beverages and snacks. Since there is a pandemic still, all passengers had to wear face masks while onboard. Of course in the tradition of Wikina Family Vacations, the beginning of the vacation was met with excitement. A woman passed out in our lounge and my sister was one of the few that went to the rescue! There’s more to this story! But other than that, an hour of smooth sailing, we were welcomed by the mountains of Santa Catalina. If you’re lucky like we were, you can even spot several schools of dolphins just swimming along!

Where I stayed…

There are 24 hotels and resorts in Avalon, the main city of Catalina Island. Of course, there is also the home rental option. Those are fine and dandy, but if you really want a lush Mediterranean style experience, then Hamilton Cove is the place for you. Hamilton Cove was my family home for three blissful nights. Waking up to the sun rising over the calm Pacific ocean and going to bed with the sound of crashing waves…TAKE ME BACK! It is a private community secluded from town with it’s own private beach, gym, tennis courts, golf carts per units. I personally wouldn’t stay anywhere else on the Island…unless I’m camping.

Where I played…

What I mean by play is where to find things to do on the island. If you’re not enjoying at the Descanso Beach Club, you’ll most likely find all other activities in Avalon. But more on those activities on the next post. If you do end up on this paradisaical island, I do suggest checking out Descanso Beach. I spent my actual birthday there drinking mimosas, laying in the sun, eating delicious nachos and wings, and swimming in the ocean. My first time swimming in the Pacific and MY GOODNESS! It felt so much nicer than the Atlantic! There’s something in that water! Either that or I was just elated by the mimosa filled birthday vibes. My brother and I waded the water to a rocky area for some photographs because that’s the kind of stuff we do. There was a particular spot that actually felt like a spa as the currents came in and out creating bubbles. Zen!

Back in the cabanas, the group next to us bought me more drinks and played birthday music for me to dance to! They were super friendly and awesome company. And by chance, they were the party with the woman who passed out on the boat ride to the island! What happened? They decided to try edibles for the first time and she in particular had one too many! Hey mom, how did the trip go? HAHAHA!

That’s all for now folks! I’ll give more details about the island, where I ate and what I did on the next post. In the mean time, go ahead and start booking your trip to Catalina. Check out Love Catalina Island for everything when booking!

Quarantine Chronicles: Salvaging Summer

As we all know, 2020 is undoubtedly the strangest year in the world’s modern history. It’s a strenuous attempt to keep track of the plethora of events. But for those of us who are still alive, I implore you to consider hope for the rest of 2020. If I’m being honest, personally, 2020 is not the most difficult year I’ve experienced. I believe it’s those who have been privileged in certain aspects of life that consider 2020 the worst. They have been forced to come face to face with strange discomfort, forced out of their ignorance, forced to realize their privilege or the privilege of others. But there are those who have experienced answered prayers in this year. In times like these, I feel like their praises ought to be amplified just as loudly as the cries of the oppressed. Maybe even more. And no I don’t mean that the voices calling and crying out in sorrow and desperation for change should be turned down or muted. Absolutely not! It is their voices that prompt overdue changes. But for the sake of our spirits, we shouldn’t remain jaded by the injustice and ugliness of humanity. Yes, it is exacerbating. But there is still beauty from the ashes.

As I write this, a song by Elevation Worship is blasting. You take what the enemy meant for evil and You turned it for good. I’ve seen God do this in my life multiple times. I’m seeing God do this for His people in 2020. People who were brought to their knees, awakened from their slumber and forced to see the errors of their ways are transforming their hearts and minds. These stories are signs of hope. Just like the sunflower that holds it’s head high, seeking and embracing the sun so should we continue to stay strong with our heads held high. I was going to insert a picture of me in a pensive state, but my friend prefers my smile so here I am smiling in a field of sunflowers.

So as the season is coming to an end, I challenge you to make the most of it before the next. I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to this Summer. I cancelled my first camping trip because I couldn’t find people who were interested in my little adventure. And no one wanted me going camping alone in Trump’s America. As little as cancelling the trip was, it was the tipping point that made me realize I never acknowledged how much this pandemic and America’s nonsense had taken away from me. I became angry at myself for living in fear, angry with my friends, extra angry with America. I had a moment of depression last month thus forfeiting every single plan. But God, as usual, provided little signs of hope in my life. So now I’m trying to salvage what I can for the rest of the summer, especially as an unemployed traveler. To be honest, with anxiety and depression tugging at my feet, it’s proving to be hard, but I am finding ways. A fellow Michigan blogger inspired me to visit this particular sunflower field at Zilke’s Vegetable Farm in Milan, MI. It’s a perfect outdoors social distancing activity for friends, couples and families. It’s serene, beautiful, plus you can buy fresh produce and also have farm to table lunch. I’m fortunate enough to live in a state with a lot of lakes and fresh water activities. Plus I have a big trip coming up to end the Summer with a bang. I’ll give you a hint: my birthday is a couple days before the last day of Summer.

What little things in your life bring you joy? What activities put a smile on your face? Cherish the moments you have with yourself and with others. Engage in the little things that spark joy. I challenge you to be a vessel of joy.

Quarantine Chronicles: Local and Regional Travel

I have a mini rant before I get to the point of this blog post. And seeing as this is a blog, my blog, these are my opinions. If you don’t agree, that’s cool. You can continue reading, skip this rant and proceed to the rest of the post, read a completely different post, or close the tab. Alright. Inhale. Here. We. Go! PRACTICE COMMON SENSE!!!! Unfortunately, common sense isn’t common. Human beings also act like sheep and follow without consideration or reason. It’s bizarre! Scenes of crowded bars, clubs and beaches while there’s a novel virus living it’s best life. Remember there isn’t any certain cure or vaccine. Y’all are really out there risking your lives (more importantly the lives of others) because I’m pretty sure proper hygiene is still not being practiced. No, people are stubborn, irresponsible and inconsiderate only caring about their rights! There are individuals walking around without masks, coughing and sneezing in their hands. Did I miss the memo where it’s been decided that the virus no longer exists? Is that what it is? People are flocking to crowded areas without masks in the middle of a pandemic. And why are people so against wearing masks? Throwing fits like children. If an establishment mandates the wearing of a face mask, respect their policies and wear the damn mask! If you feel uncomfortable, go to another establishment! Imagine being upset that an area is smoke free and then you make a fuss about constitutional rights. Or whining on Facebook that you got fined for not wearing the seat belt while driving. Imagine going on twitter to complain about someone who asked for your shoes to be removed in their house. Maybe it’s the Nigerian in me, but the entitlement is DISGUSTING!!! Why can’t we as a people come together to try and reduce the rate of spread until there is a proven cure or vaccine available to ALL. Imagine not caring about a flu outbreak. At least doctors can intentionally fight the flu. They’re still figuring out this virus. I’ll stop here, because I can go on and on. And this is the only safe space for me to vent…Facebook is filled with a bunch of whiny adults, and I DO NOT condone negative energy on my IG.


So, the world has tried reopening, but travel isn’t the same. A lot of the world isn’t welcoming American residents. I wonder why? What you can do is travel locally and regionally. There are a hidden gems everywhere! That’s what I’ve been doing in Michigan and Georgia. Before I left Michigan, I drove a couple hours to the Silver Lake State Park for some peace of mind. While in Georgia, I drove to the Amicalola State Park to hike the beginning of the Appalachian trail!

Amicalola falls is the tallest waterfall in Georgia. There are three places to view the falls, and three ways to reach the top. One can drive all the way to the top where you can park your car and view the mountain range and the water fall. This is the least exciting method, but has the second best view of the waterfall, the top. This also provides the least amount of physical exertion on the body. The second way to get to the top is to hike through a trail away from the waterfall. This is the route my brother and I took up the mountain. It makes for an exciting trip, as the hike itself is quite strenuous. But the views of the mountain range as you elevate make the physical demands worth it. Although you can hear the water, you don’t get to see the waterfall until you reach the top which also happens to be the beginning of the Appalachian trail. Then you can walk down the stairs to catch the best view of the waterfall. Lastly, the third route is half nature hike half staircase. Basically, you find yourself walking along the waterfall. Halfway through is a midpoint, the best view. Around this point is where the stairs begin. It’s not as strenuous as walking through the trail.

You’ve always been able to go outside. It’s just how to go outside responsibly within jurisdiction that you must figure out. I can help with that. Here are three simple tips to successfully travel locally and regionally within comfort.

  1. Avoid peak times which is usually anytime from 11 am to 5 pm. Because it’s summer, you want to skip these times to avoid the high temps. Also most places aren’t as crowded outside of peak times, which means less traffic or most importantly lower risk of spread.
  2. Avoid crowded places. For every popular dense beach, there is a quieter and sparse section a couple minutes walk away. I’ve never liked crowded beaches. I don’t understand the appeal. Or you can drive a few miles further and there will be a less populated and polluted beach. Same goes for parks, restaurants, and bars. I understand that popularity usually means good. But that’s not the case in most of times. Take for instance the music played on the radio vs indie and underground music. Hole in the wall restaurants and bars are known to usually have better food and drinks for lower prices too.
  3. Seek out hidden gems. That’s my main focus for the rest of the year. Hidden gems are hidden, meaning they are not crowded with annoying people. Hidden gems are gems, meaning they are valuable and worth visiting.

Quarantine Chronicles: A Trip to Holland…Michigan

How I wish to be able to visit Europe! But alas, the borders are closed to Americans AND Nigerians. Talk about a double whammy for me! So as I continue to travel locally, I decided to add Holland, Michigan to my lists of destinations. As you may or may not know, I lived in the real Holland, The Netherlands, when I was younger. I have very fond memories of the country. And I have always planned to go back as an adult. But when I heard that there was a place called Holland in Michigan with TULIPS AND A WINDMILL, I just had to go see for myself.

My initial plan was to visit in May during tulip season. Unfortunately, due to the spread of Covid-19 and strict stay at home orders, I had departed to Atlanta to be with my family. Michigan eventually sort of opened up, and I returned. Because summer in Michigan is wonderful, I am making an effort to really travel up and around the Great Lakes coast of the state, hitting a new location every other weekend. Last weekend on a trip to Grand Haven for a beach getaway, I decided to add a quick stop in Holland. I actually spent the night at an Airbnb in Grand Rapids, but spent the first day in Grand Haven and then the second in Holland. Holland is about 30 minutes from Grand Rapids.

It was a short stay especially seeing as the tulips were gone. My only other interest was the small dutch village with the windmill. Now, I’m not sure if it was because it was a Sunday or because of the pandemic, but compared to Grand Haven, Holland was quite dead. The roads were empty, the air was quiet. This isn’t me complaining. It made for a very comfortable visit to the dutch village. It was incredibly easy to maintain way more than the minimum distance from people.

The dutch village is basically a park. It costs five dollars to enter. When you enter, you’ll be greeted by a woman in traditional old dutch attire. This time during a pandemic she’ll be wearing a mask because of the airborne virus. While it’s not a requirement for guests to wear masks, it is mandatory when entering the building in which the restroom is located. To the left is small building with a old but automated dutch organ playing fair tunes. As you walk passed it, you’ll greeted by an array of flags representing the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. Then comes the canal (a staple in the Netherlands) with an accompanying draw bridge. One can actually kayak down the water.

A short stroll to the right after crossing the bridge is the “village” as seen in one of the pictures above. And a stroll to the left is the famous traditional windmill actually brought over from Noord Brabant, the Netherlands in 1964. The mill itself was built in 1884. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, we were not able to tour the structure. It was still a lovely sight to see.

They went all out with the establishment of the park, an ode to the city’s dutch heritage. While I did enjoy the short visit to Holland, I was a tad underwhelmed. I missed seeing the tulips, not that tulips are a year round sight in the Netherlands. It’s my favorite flower because it reminds me of one of the best times of my life. Maybe if they had a little cafe on the grounds of the village that sold dutch snacks and sweets, I would’ve felt better. I guess I was also comparing the area to the Bavarian towns of America, like Helen or Frankenmuth (a city in Michigan that is on my list) that are bigger with more German buildings and activities. The village just felt like a small amusement park.

I will attempt to make another return next spring to see the tulips in bloom. Although I do feel like in 2021, I will be more inclined to focus on travelling out of the Midwest and out of the country. But until then, on to the next Michigan trip.


Quarantine Chronicles: Sunset at Grand Haven

Photo by Jaii Wave

I need to go back to Grand Haven! I need to go back when it’s not crowded with 4th of July vacationers. I need to go back when it’s not during a pandemic. I’m glad I went but to be honest, traveling to a popular destination during its peak season in the middle of a pandemic is so nerve-wracking. I tried to keep my distance as much as possible. I always stayed outdoors. My mask was hanging and ready to go whenever I felt it necessary.

At least the beach at Grand Haven State Park wasn’t as crowded as I imagined. It wasn’t even hard to find parking. I was able to find a spot on the sand with more than enough distance from other groups. Most people in the freezing water kept to their groups. That’s one of the many reasons why I will never fully embrace Lake Michigan beaches, as pretty as they are. The water is always too damn cold! Man, I miss the ocean! But the sense of summer was still in the air. Sunny skies, light breeze, bathing suits, ice cream etc. The vibe of this beach town was chill and relaxing. That is until a fight almost broke out on the beach between these kids in their early twenties. One of the guys actually expressed gratitude for not bringing his gun. I for one did not appreciate the “n word” being thrown around all loud and willy-nilly. Like, what in the ghetto!? “This is a place for families that drive Camrys and go to Disney“*.

I was only there for the afternoon and evening to watch the sunset. I specifically took a stroll on the pier where the Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light (an extremely long name for a lighthouse) is located just to catch the summer sunset. Since I was only there for a few hours, I didn’t get to see and appreciate the area around the beach with the shops and restaurants. I must say, the real estate in that area is such a vibe!! I have to go back!!

Shot by Jaii Wave

I absolutely love summer in Michigan. Maybe it’s because of the months spent in hibernation, the almost non existent spring, and the tolerable humidity. Maybe it’s the fresh water lakes that are everywhere. I love water! If weren’t for the pandemic, I would’ve already attended a couple day parties in downtown Detroit and thrown my own little event. On the flip side, because of the pandemic, I find myself outside exploring more open spaces; picnics in the park, exploring the Lake Michigan coast. I plan on going paddle boarding next on the lake nearby! Almost every other weekend is booked for local and regional travel. More on that topic on a later post. So, what have you been up to thus far this season? Leave a comment below!

*Lyrics from Childs Play, a song by Drake.