travel tips

Dear 2016 Jes

Dear 2016 Jes,

You’re about to replace me in a matter of hours. I thought it would only be fair to update you on a few things before you take this position.

The past calendar year has been an interesting one. I was beaten down by many roadblocks, but also accomplished so much. Maybe it all equaled out in the end; I don’t know. I didn’t keep track, and I suggest that you don’t either. Focus on the positives.

Your mission for your one-year term is to make 2016 even better and more memorable than 2015. This may prove difficult, as I also had to one-up 2014 Jes who served a memorable year. There were some weeks and months that I did not carry out all that I had planned to do, but you and all your future replacements will never forget the legendary Mediterranean Trek of 2015. That was 92 days of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Being once-in-a-lifetime sadly means that you will not be able to enjoy them for yourself, so go and make your own once-in-a-lifetime moments.

I explored seven new countries and two new continents. I climbed to the top of every historic Parisian monument, ate the local food with the local Spaniards, swam in the Mediterranean Sea, visited the two smallest nations in the world, marveled at the art and architecture across Italy, walked through historic Greece, and entered the intercontinental collision known as Istanbul. These things didn’t come easily, and I know you’ll be as proud of this achievement as I am.

Even back in the USA I had adventures. You’ll remember that I got to go Back to the Future (twice, including the official Back to the Future Day) at the site of the most thrilling scene of your favorite movie. I experienced Reno for the first time, played in the snow at Crater Lake, saw a fair share of wondrous waterfalls, went to the ocean for the first time in years, and got one last time to tour the historic Butte Creek Mill before discovering it burned down.

Although most time was spent back at your hometown and it felt strange to adjust to that, I got to see the area in a new way. I hiked the local mountains numerous times, learned the ins and outs of big corporation Harry & David, and had the special opportunity to spend time working at the Magdalene Home. I even got a totally different perspective by riding a hot air balloon for our birthday!

Unfortunately I have to leave you without the most ideal conditions. I’ve started many projects that will be your responsibility to complete. You will need to increase profits, and will be faced with decisions of involving large purchases and investments, such as buying a car. These tasks are intimidating. I’ve been working on them for several months and wish they could have been completed by now, but I suppose that this means you will at least get to reap the initial benefits. These more “normal” challenges may seem mundane compared to all you want to do, but enjoy what you can from it!

You’re coming in with exciting ideas for your year, but neither of us know what you will actually do. Maybe 2017 Jes or another later edition will be the one to actually complete the goals that we have set, but 2016 holds lots of potential for you. While 2014 Jes discovered that we can’t afford to rent a car yet at our age, you will be turning 25 which will allow so many more possibilities with driving, like better insurance and cheaper rentals. I’ve left some ideas for an epic road trip scattered in notebooks throughout your residence, so you can either follow through on that or fine-tune it for a future Jes to carry out. At this point I haven’t set any resolutions for you, but it would be interesting to see if you can actually keep up with any of the normal resolutions for an entire year, like reading through the Bible, exercising daily… you get the picture.

Honestly, neither of us knows what 2016 will hold for you. Take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves to you. I’m sure you’ll have a highlight of the year, but don’t forget the small stuff too. Make something that you’ll be excited to tell 2017 Jes about!



2015 Jes

January 2015: Lower Table Rock
February 2015: Chinese New Year
March 2015: Mill Creek and Barr Creek Falls
April 2015: California Desert
Birthday 015
May 2015: Hot Air Balloon Birthday
June 2015: Preparation for the Mediterranean Trek
July 2015: Disneyland Paris
August 2015: Pueblo Ingles and the La Alberca Pig


September 2015: Seeing the Pope at the Vatican
Istanbul Europe Asia Divide
October 2015: Crossing from Europe to Asia
November 2015: Alpaca Farm
December 2015: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
jobs, photography, writing

“Wish You Were Here!” and Other Travel Articles


Traveling has allowed me to widen opportunities as a writer. Most of my published work has been devotionals or advice for running camps. But recently, more of my work has become travel-related. Here are a couple to share:

The Essential Travel Packing List for Moving Overseas

This is from a really cool site with resources on how to travel, especially if you’re interested in moving overseas or teaching English abroad. I wrote two pieces for them, and here’s the first to be published, The Essential Travel Packing List for Moving Overseas!


Wish You Were Here!

I write a lot for Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. I kind of have to, being the editor! I wrote several articles for the Winter 15/16 issue, including an interview with the Silver Ring Thing National Touring Team, a review of my latest favorite devotionals, a handbook for babysitting, and the secret that will have everyone forgetting about their diets as they indulge in your Christmas treats, plus a few others. For the final article in this issue, I decided to take a step back from my traditional writing and make my first-ever photo essay! I really like how it turned out. You can read all of the articles I just mentioned, plus columns from other incredible writers, by getting a free subscription to Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. Click here to visit the website and sign up!