Monday, January 19, 2015

Blessings, challenges, trials and mercies

It was Christmas day when I was talking to my aunt about traveling to Seattle within the next week. She mentioned when her family went to Seattle and how they had taken a ferry to Vancouver for the weekend and loved it. A light bulb fired off in my head and immediately without seconds to pass for verbally discussing it to even my own self; I was going to Vancouver, Canada! I was going. I went home that night googling and yelping like crazy. I looked up photos, I searched coffee shops, I contacted everyone who I saw on Facebook that had been there, I googled things to do and I checked out Vancouver hashtags. I came to the conclusion that I would have to stay in a hostel and that idea left me exhilarated; knowing that I would finally get the life experience that I had day dreamed about for four years. I confirmed the decision because I already planned on backpacking Europe this year and for months back to back I would be staying in hostels; so why not stay in one prior to that experience and a little closer to home.

There is something about traveling that deepens my addiction every time. Something about finding my own way, observing different architecture, looking through maps, conversing with strangers and ultimately being led by the Lord that keeps me buying plane tickets to foreign lands where my feet has never wandered.

I arrived in Seattle at noon, after a three hour flight delay to take a shuttle to Kirkland- where all big technology companies Google, Amazon and Microsoft are home to, not to mention Starbucks too. John greeted me at the hotel where the shuttle left me, taking me back to his apartment where I could relieve myself from my bags and carry on exploring the city while he went back to work until dinner time. It was interesting being in Seattle this time, having previously been there 10 months ago, seeing most everything before and experiencing it again yet 10 months older. My senses engulfed me and inspiration flooded me as I passed big and bright windows and doors, years of layered posters for concerts on every telephone pole, coffee shops on every corner and every shop being incredibly creative and artistic. I loved walking the streets, I loved being in the overcast coldness, I loved seeing everything again from almost a year ago. That day I realized I never had been in the same place twice; besides others place in California. I was so fascinated by HOW many coffee shops there actually were and I don't know why I was surprised because I already knew this. It IS a stereotype perceived about the Pacific Northwethere- and one to be extremely true. I had a .6 mile walk before I would arrive at Stumptown Roasters but in the 2/3 of a mile I saw so many coffee places, down every street, next to each other and on posters. I ended up changing my plans and going to this one called BookHaus where books filled every wall and genuine contact between every eye came across mine. In the evening, after John got off work, we had dinner at a modern-European styled restaurant that was suggested to me from the guy in the home decors story next door. I had the best vegan warm salad that night.
We went back to Johns house and I realized I had to book my ticket for Vancouver and find out where I would stay; I wasn't very prepared. After booking my ticket I realized I had 5 hours before I would have to wake up. I went to sleep after packing my bags for the next unfamiliar two days. When I woke up, I dressed and headed out the door in the dark of the morning where I got lost on the way to the bus stop and sprinted to only find out that I was still so early. I was surprised by how many people take the bus at 5 in the morning. I was thankful to have a seat for the 45 minute bus ride to downtown where I would catch another 3 hour bus to Vancouver. Upon arrival, I looked around confused by all the bus stops and 5 minute later spotting a big black bus with big letters saying "V A N C O U V E R". Relieved, I entered the most cozy bus of all time. I was thankful to God for guiding me in the dark, by public transportation in a city I only had been to one, and for the free wifi on the 3 hour journey. I was so excited I couldn't sleep although everyone else was sounding sleeping around me; it WAS 6 in the morning.
Arriving in Vancouver at 10 am, I got off the bus, thanked the bus driver and trekked on. Exiting the train station fear greeted me as an older man passed by saying "Are you lost?" in a if-you-are-I-might-could-guide-you-and-probably-hurt-you way. "NO" I quickly replied walking further and faster realizing that I could outrun him if I wanted to, even with my shin splits I'm sure the adrenaline would be pumping.
"Why do you fear?" a voice I recognized anything said deep in my heart

I made it to my first hostel, being warmly greeted by the man behind the counter. He told me I reminded him of someone he was very fond of during his travels long ago and therefore we were immediately bonded by circumstance. I laughed letting him know that a day doesn't go by without someone telling me I remind them of someone- or at least five out of the seven days. He was helpful to show me my room and how it worked as I shyly told him I had never stayed in a hostel before. He showed me maps, cool places, directions and some of his own personal stories. I loved being in that hostel as cozy as it was; there was a bar/restaraunt to my left, all the information I needed to know to my left, my room to the stairs in front of me, the coffees shop I had researched weeks prior across the street and two days of adventure behind me.
I went out; walking miles and miles in and out of stores and different places before I arrived to Granville Public Market that was one of the main things to do I had searched in Vancouver. I walked around it, hungry, two or three times checking out everything before finding a healthy and gluten free option for lunch. I chose a asian inspired vegetable rice. I sat down to rest my legs and nourish my body as I embarked in an hour long session of people watching. Out the window was half the market and half the water with water taxis going to and from other parts of the land.
I took a bus back to the hostile and I went up to my room and settled. I shared this room with 8 other strangers from all over different countries and states. All excited souls who were doing the same, yet different things than me with one common interest of traveling. I went into the community room and I felt so excited to see the random book shelf, the perfect view through the window, the messy kitchen and two different people sitting on the couch; one from London and one from Australia. That night I stayed in a got to know the people who were sharing the room with me that night. We had a beer together, listened to music together and laughed together conversing of different life stories and travels.

The next day I walked the long route to Stanley Park which is the number one thing to do that I researched from Vancouver. I strolled from hours; watching couples hold hands, mothers care for their children, thoughtful teenagers skipping stones and traveling artists take photos of trees and bridges. Like most everything, Stanley Park was different than I imagined but it was still great. I sat down often and enjoyed birds at flight, blankets of pine needles and subtle waves of the ocean- or lake, which I didn't know. I thought about nothing with occasional somethings passing by my brain as the wind passed through my hair. I felt peace and joy as I walked through the forest along the beach as cars zoomed by faster than I could ever run. My lunch consisted of previously bought rice cakes that I bought days before, a fresh pear, an avocado, tomato and free mustard and pepper packets I gathered from the salad bar at the grocery store. I am always lost for food decisions when I am alone traveling so I always stick to the cheap and healthy options from the grocery store.

I arrived back in Seattle in the dark, about 11pm. I left in the dark and I arrived in the dark. Thank the Lord he loves me and keeps me safe because in LA I can feel a little more fearful, being wise about where I am and heightened senses but whenever I'm away my adventurous side overrides all else and I'm embracing the moment.

"Blessings, challenges, trials and mercies" is what someone prayed for me as I was headed out of Los Angeles and into the Pacific Northwest. Blessings and mercies for Cananda and trials and challenges for Seattle. I feel like the next three days in Seattle were just that. Whether it was someone I would meet and talk to in the bus, or, a mishap situation, getting lost, patience or simply an unplanned circumstance getting in my way. It was the prayer being answered and God showing me parts of my heart He wanted to renew. It was honestly great but challenges never-the-less are challenges. However God is good and those days I spent mostly with Audrey, one of my favorite ladies in all of the earth. Spending days with Audrey is a big joy. We had a lot of coffee, a lot of laughs and a lot of good conversation - which is always my favorite. She is a special friend because we are always in different parts of the world together, whether it be Los Angeles or a summer in mountains of California, Seattle or Portland.

Monday morning when I got back on the plane; it was a whirlwind of emotion. Rooted emotion, but still emotion. If anything, it was un-soothing but totally okay. Skipping the details of the day, when I was arriving the airport, God told me I would sit next to someone who loved him. Upon arriving the plane, I sat down flustered from previous situations and my heart warned me how my body language was acting- if I was sitting around anyone important, that I wasn't being a ready and open vessel but rather overcome by my own circumstances and therefore closed. An hour into it the girl to my right was reading her bible and I was amazed at how God speaks to me and it always happens. Here was a girl sitting next to me who loved him. I started chatting with her, and she told me in her prayer meeting last night that someone told her she would have a "divine encounter". She was 20 years old and we sat there chatting about her life. I love hearing about others lives, especially ladies younger than me. I always love remembering how I felt and be able to give anything I can offer. She talked about boys, she talked about God, she talked about adventures and enjoyed every minute until we got off the plane.

God is always so good to me. Whether it's speaking truth into my life, keeping me safe from harm, making friends in unusual places, taking away my stress, giving me understand, making way for the desires of my heart (traveling) and just making life quirky and fun.

I'm forever addicted to traveling and I'm so excited to share my next adventure with you in March- unless something spontaneous happens before then :)

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