#Sylvanroadtrip Part 1 – The Road

By July 18, 2014 Travels
road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

This summer, traveling is for serious. I whined about it the other day, but it’s all been (and will continue to be) a blast. I had just gotten back from a business trip to Minneapolis when a millisecond later we turned around and headed west for this year’s summer adventure. 10 days, 14 states, and 4,850 miles later, I have a tent-load of photos to share.

I have so many wonderful memories and stories to tell, but when I sat down to write it all out, I felt like my words weren’t doing the trip justice. So I’ll let the pictures do the talking for me. To save you from pages that won’t load and endless scrolling, I’ll break the trip up into a few posts—the road, the trails, and the food.

Without further ado, here’s a glimpse of road tripping, Sylvan-style:

Day 1—BHM>OK

Full of excitement and caffeine, the hubs and I took a million and one photos and videos of the Arkansas and Oklahoma countryside. Plain, but pretty. We stopped for food in Little Rock and Oklahoma City and realized something—they were just like Birmingham. Empty. As in, where are all the people and should we get off the streets too? After being so familiar with NYC all my life, it perplexes me when a major city isn’t hustling and bustling.

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Peace out, Bham!

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Ever wonder what the highways of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, or Arkansas look like? A lot of this.

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

The hubs lost all selfie-shaming privileges when he took this shot

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Totally stealing this medicine bottle vase idea

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Gas station cows

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Stumbled upon the arts district in Oklahoma City

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Oklahoma City bombing memorial

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Many OKC Marathon runners leave their bibs on the memorial wall

Day 2—Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah

The entire purpose for going a roundabout way to Wyoming was to cross some new states off our list (9 states to go!). Having never been to New Mexico or Utah, I was excited to see nothingness and red rocks and an alien and Walter White. Which we did. Except for the alien. Albuquerque seemed like a fun city, and Monument Valley in Utah was simply amazing. I must have sounded like a broken record— “how did that happen? This is incredible!”

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, TX

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Things you can’t see from the window of a plane

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Route 66 in New Mexico

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Stopped to watch a storm form over some New Mexico mountains

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Seen outside Albuquerque. I shit you not. Hey, Walter!

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Monument Valley, UT

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

In his element

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

The Mitten

Day 3—UT>WY

Ah, the home stretch. We woke up in Moab amidst the coolest rock formations I had ever seen, and played around in Arches National Park for the morning. Again, how?! How does a rock turn into a gigantic arch? I actually think my exact, sleep-deprived words were “EARTH IS COOL!” We made a pitstop in Salt Lake for lunch with Twitter friend Logan (Have you noticed a trend? All my friends are from Twitter?), then high-tailed it into Grand Teton National Park just in time for sunset.

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Cairns make me happy

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Delicate Arch

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Epic scenery selfie

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

I got my runs in whenever I could

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Because how could you not want to run here all day long?

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Double Arch – HOW?!

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Wasatch foothills in Utah

xroad trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

“Sorry Logan I have to hang up. There are WINDMILLS on the mountains!”

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Literally chasing the sunset at 9:45 pm in Wyoming

road trip, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Prius, summer travel,

Home at last

If I haven’t bored you yet, stay tuned for mountain photos!

Post-Travel Laziness and Randomness

By July 16, 2014 Ramblings, Travels
Tired

Man, does anyone else struggle after coming back from a lot of traveling? I spent a week in Minneapolis, turned right around and had a 10-day mountain vacation, and I am worn the fuck out! I don’t know if I should blame the time change, altitude change, flea infestation we came home to, or sheer exhaustion, but this week I’ve been coming home from work and just want to sit and stare at a wall. Which doesn’t work so well when you have mountains of camping gear and laundry to put away and miles to log.

I also have a gazillion blog posts I need to post. Literally. A gazillion. They’re written, just not typed and smothered in photos yet. And they taunt me. So I’m going to use this post as a little jump start on regular life again. A kick in the ass, if you will. If I can get one post out, it’ll break my lazy spell and make everything seem manageable and easy, right? Right.

So many blog posts, so little motivation

So many blog posts, so little motivation

Here are a bunch of random things I’m loving at the moment:

See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-ConThis weekend I’m going to be a panelist at the Bloganista Mini-Con, a one-day conference for fashion, fitness, and lifestyle bloggers organized by one of my very favorites, Javacia. There are only four tickets left, so if you’re a blogger in the ‘Ham and don’t have Saturday plans yet, join us! 

See Jane Write, Birmingham bloggers

So excited!

“Weird Al” Yankoic’s Word CrimesHave you seen this yet?! This is my JAM! “Weird Al” wrote a song just for grammar nerds like my dad and me, and we have been geeking out about it ever since.

Weird Al Yankovic, Word Crimes

My dad and I are the same person

Pokey the PriusSo in the midst of all the craziness, my Roller Skate (Rav4) found a loving new home and Pokey the Prius joined the Sylvan fam. Laugh all you want, but having a hybrid is the greatest thing ever! She may be slow to accelerate (hence her name) and needed some coaxing up huge mountain passes, but getting 55+ mpg is wonderful when you travel across the country.

Toyota Prius, hybrid car

Pokey is a mountain-lover and tree-hugger

BUTS in the newsI love how big BUTS has grown over the past year. A few weeks ago, Birmingham Magazine reached out to us for a short article and photo shoot, and turned it into a huge spread in their July issue. Watch out ultra world—BUTS is taking over!

Birmingham Ultra Trail Society, BUTS, ultra running, trail running Alabama

Photo by Mary Lou Davis

My body in this photo—It’s summer, the time when most women hate their bodies. But not me. Has there ever been a photo that illustrated “thunder thighs” more accurately? I think not. I mean, do you feel the ground shaking? My legs are 50% muscle, 50% fat, 100% pure awesome.

Boom.

Boom.

Say My Name, Say My Name (Correctly)

By June 19, 2014 Ramblings
Tanya

This summer will be eight years since I first arrived in the Deep South, and since I’m all about ranting this week, I think it’s about time I made something clear.

My name is Tanya. Pronounced Taahn-ya. Not Tan-ya. Not Tone-ya. Not Ta…um… Tanya.

Tanya, foreign name, Tanya Sylvan

A queen that lives in a forest? Sounds right.

My parents wanted me to excel at reading, writing, and spelling, so my real name is actually Tatiana Laryssa Twerdowsky. Yes. When I first explain to people that my real name is Tatiana, I always get the same response. “Oh, that’s so pretty! Why don’t you go by that instead?” Listen, I tried that once. Recently. It now makes me cringe when I hear my name around town.

 Tanya, foreign name, Tanya Sylvan

This.

But sure, you can call me Tatiana if Tanya is too confusing for you. As long as we get a few things straight. Yes, that’s my real name. No, my parents have never used it. Yes, it’s Russian/Ukrainian. No, I will not tell you if I am a dancer, gymnast, or figure skater. And no, I will most certainly not tell you if I am flexible. In fact, I may go all Tanya Harding on you just for asking.

But for argument’s sake, let’s just focus on Tanya. I know I live in a geographical area where saying Tan-ya is the norm and double names are a dime a dozen, so I allow people some leeway. Three strikes, to be exact. I meet you, tell you my name, correct your pronunciation. We meet again, you get it wrong, NBD. But if our paths cross one more time and you’re still butchering it, you’re on my shit list.

Tanya, foreign name, Tanya Sylvan

Facebook ads, you know me so well

I get that I don’t have the easiest name in the world. Hell, look at how bad I am with names and faces—I have no room to speak. But I thought I’d go ahead anyway and put this out there. And if you’ve known me for a while and are still saying it wrong (you know who you are), for shame.

Think I’m just a tad bit sensitive? “Is it her time of the month?” you’re wondering in your head. No! This is a real thing! I came across this Buzzfeed article the other day that perfectly nailed what foreign name-life is like. And the author’s name? Tanya. Boom.

Tanya, foreign name, Tanya Sylvan

Duck face and wagging finger – this girl is for realz

Do you have an unusual name? Do people butcher it? Do you correct people, let it go, or stare daggers at them until they get it right?

The Time Someone Told Me My Blog Is a Waste

By June 16, 2014 Ramblings
See Jane Write, Birmingham bloggers, Y'all Connect

Hey Mr. [redacted],

Remember me? We met at an event on Thursday night before a social media conference. You were there because you had a VIP ticket—boy did I not realize just how much of a VIP you were.

I walked up to you and introduced myself, because that’s what I do. I’m friendly like that. You explained how you ran blogging conferences yourself, to which I replied, “Hey! I’m a blogger!” You told me to come to a conference sometime. Sweet.

Then came the red flags. You immediately asked for my blog reach. Not the name, not the topic, but the reach. Who asks about reach? Did you also want to know my salary and weight and marathon time? No…just, no. But rather than abandon ship right then and there, I told you. To which you replied, “Oh. These conferences aren’t for you. They’re for advanced bloggers only.” Um, come again?

I kept my cool and listened to you talk. I absently nodded while you carried on about how real bloggers offer readers something of value. Bad bloggers have “me” blogs—they only talk about their lives and experiences and no one cares. Those blogs are a waste of space. And Disney runners and bloggers? They’re all shit.

I half-heartedly countered you on a few points, but I was honestly thinking more about what to cook for dinner and how I can take your small ass down in an instant than listening to your sales spiel. I had checked out by that point. I don’t do crazy. It wasn’t until I stepped outside that the full impact of our conversation hit me. And by the time I got home, I was like the Tasmanian Devil—ready to destroy anything and everything in my path.

So, listen up asshole. I am well aware that my blog can be perceived as selfish or narcissistic. I write about myself. Don’t fucking read it if you don’t like it. I get that I’m not your target market. I don’t have the 50,000 views/day that let me into your elitist club. Does your clique wear pink on Wednesdays, too? At the moment, I have no desire to make “hundreds of thousands of dollars” (your words, not mine) by writing a how-to textbook. That’s boring and not me. So I should take everything you told me with a grain of salt. But you’re still walking around running your fucking mouth and spewing complete bullshit, so it does affect me. And you will hear about it.

People blog for a variety of reasons. Yes, some do want fame and fortune and therefore write every post with that as their end goal. Those folks are the ones who may attend your socialite parties. There’s nothing wrong with that. Others, like many bloggers in Birmingham and I, blog just to have a place to capture all the thoughts flying around our heads. And we hope that by sharing our experiences—however random or boring they may be—others can relate or learn from them.

Some blog posts should be informative, yes. They may get a lot more traffic and back links, yes. But if readers only wanted to read “How to Run Efficiently” or “10 Ways to Tie a Shoe,” they’d pick up a fucking book. Or go to an informational website, not a blog. Blogs capture emotions. They allow us a glimpse into other peoples’ lives and show us that there’s someone else out there who is is sharing a similar life experience, or one that’s completely different and intriguing. If a “me” blogger reaches just one person and makes an impact through telling his or her story, it makes it all worthwhile.

Let’s apply your logic to life, shall we? So anyone who isn’t elite at what they do shouldn’t enjoy it as just a hobby, yes? If you’re not an NBA player, don’t bother playing a pickup game over the weekend. No 4-star chef rating? No restaurant or food truck for you. Back of the pack runner? Might as well keep your ass planted on the couch. What a lovely world to live in.

You, sir, do not get to determine who is and isn’t a good blogger. But if you want to play that game for a moment, let’s. Your blog? It sucks. Badly. Your views are questionable at best, your writing style is abrasive, boring and uninviting, and you have grammatical errors all over the damn place in your posts. Oh, I checked out your Twitter feed and you can’t use social media for shit. Social media is just a megaphone, right? No need to actually talk to people on social media, just yell at them and tell them how much their blog sucks. Yet you’re successful. Color me confused.

Your (fake) following

Oh, is this what you call success? Unengaged Twitter followers?

Unlike your, my audience is real

Unlike yours, my audience is full of real people – not robots

You know, my friend, maybe my blog will reach 50,000 views/day at some point. Great. Or maybe it will taper off to 50 views a day. That’s fine too. I blog for myself, and, unlike you, I don’t care about the numbers or how much money I make off ads.

Please don’t mistake the reason behind my anger. I give zero fucks about what you think of my blog. Hell, you didn’t even know my name at the time we spoke (though you did find it out the next day and you may be reading this now). I am angry at the opinion you have about bloggers. You have a right to your opinion, but it still infuriates me. And you’re in a position of power. People seem to listen to what you have to say. And if you’re calling people’s work a waste of time and effort, that’s not OK. Who knows how many beginner bloggers you discourage from continuing with their passion?

For any bloggers or bloggers-to-be reading this, hopefully this has been a lesson in having the wherewithal to tune out people like Mr. [redacted]. People are entitled to their opinions, but let’s face it, WordPress, Blogger, etc. are all successful platforms because of people like you and me. There’s plenty of room on the Internet, and it’s important that you know it’s OK to put your thoughts out there and not give a fuck about judgemental idiots who think they’ve got it all figured out. They don’t, and you need to just ignore them.

So I’m speaking on behalf of all the bloggers in the ‘Ham when I say get out. We don’t need your negativity. And we sure as hell never want to attend your conference.

- Tanya

May Vegan Eats

By June 11, 2014 Nom Noms, Vegan Adventures
vegan recipes, vegan runner, plantstrong, no meat athlete,

Maybe I’m a day or twelve late with my vegan food post. My b. But the recipes were still cooked and consumed, so I’m going to share them with the blogging world.

Polenta and beansAre you craving carbs, have random things in your fridge, and very little time before your arm becomes your appetizer? This recipe is for you! Stupid easy to throw together, and it made for great leftovers the next day when the spices had all blended together.

vegan recipes, vegan runner, plantstrong, no meat athlete,

I call sliced polenta “little frisbees of happiness”

Quinoa vegetable saladLadies and gentlemen, we have the new summer potluck picnic winner! Colorful, healthy, perfect for passing around a blanket while downing a cold beverage

vegan recipes, vegan runner, plantstrong, no meat athlete,

Party on my plate!

Tomato and chickpea saladAre you noticing a trend here yet? Simple, cold, light foods are what I’m about all summer.

vegan recipes, vegan runner, plantstrong, no meat athlete,

Food blogger pro tip: buy hand towels or placemats on clearance for cool backgrounds

Lemon Asparagus RisottoIf sunshine had a dish, this would be it. Asparagus is a yummy summer food by itself, but paired with quinoa and topped with lemon made it absolutely heavenly.

vegan recipes, vegan runner, plantstrong, no meat athlete,

Clear winner of the May recipes

Lentils with yogurtClearly not a vegan dish, but I had some Greek yogurt that needed a home in my tummy, and this recipe caught my eye. Attractive? No. But it was light and summery and if you close your eyes, it all tastes the same.

vegan recipes, vegan runner, plantstrong, no meat athlete,

Cat vomit or vegan delicacy? You decide.

So that’s it in a vegan nutshell. Nothing too fancy or fussy last month—maybe I’ll feel more inspired this month.

vegan recipes, vegan runner, plantstrong, no meat athlete,

Food splurge – I ate the entire rainbow (plus the double rainbow) at our Memorial Day BBQ, and it was lovely

 

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