My First Solo Journey

Solo Journey To Ireland

After a lot of thought, I have decided to travel on my first ever Solo Journey! I’m so excited!

I will be traveling for 5 weeks around Ireland with my backpack, camera in hand, photographing and blogging my adventures along the way. I’m also checking into opportunities to volunteer on Organic Farms through WWOOF.

If you would like to be a sponsor, or can spread the word through social media, check out the details here.

Solo Journey to Galway Ireland

Did I dream it or did it dream me?

Roller Derby Girls Brawlin’ Bettie’s

Roller Derby Girls… Brawlin’ Bettie’s

My friends had tickets and invited me to go… It was to see the Brawlin’ Bettie’s.

Who are the Brawlin’ Bettie’s?

Well apparently Santa Barbara has a women’s Roller Derby team! Wow! Who knew… Well, I guess a lot of people… Just not me! They actually have a following!

I needed to take a break from staring at the computer… aka working/editing photos and decided to join them. They had seen the “Bettie’s” before and promised a good time filled with action, plus there would be beer and a food truck with BBQ… Kind of hard to say no to that!

Roller Derby Brawlin' Betties's

The MC & Roller Derby Fashion


Roller Derby Girls

Brawlin’ Betties

The only Roller Derby I had ever seen was on tv… And, that was when I was a little kid. I was impressed! All I can say is these girls kick ass!

I’m ready to join the team! I’ve even picked my name… Jammin’ Julie! Oh yeah!

I won’t tell anyone that I haven’t even roller bladed for a really long time & hmmm… Not really sure if I’ve ever even had roller skates attached to my feet!

But, in my head… I’m a Brawlin’ Bettie!






East Beach – Photo Of The Day

Photo of The Day – Shoes of Jason

I actually made it to East Beach during the afternoon to shoot.  I’ve been shooting a lot at night, so it was a nice change.  I wanted to  play around with low angles, and happened to come across a pair of Vans sitting in the sand.  As I was shooting, the owner of the shoes soon appeared, looking a bit perplexed!  I guess I must have looked a bit strange taking pictures of his shoes!  I told him about the project I’m working on, and he shared some of recent travel adventures!  And, they were quite the adventures!  Maybe I need to shoot more shoes!

Photo Of The Day, Santa Barbara California, Great travel adventures, Vacation

“Shoes of Jason”

Rincon Surfers

Surfers at Rincon

Rincon is one of the best places to photograph surfers… And, surf too!  It’s also just a great day trip, and not very far from Santa Barbara.  The Lensbaby is my favorite lens to use at Rincon. It’s perfect for playing with the motion of the water, and photographing the surfers.

Rincon Surfers, Ventura CA, Day Trip, Travel, Ocean, Santa Barbara Day Trip, Surfing at Rincon

Waiting For A Wave


Rincon Surfers, Ventura CA, Day Trip, Travel, Ocean, Santa Barbara Day Trip, Surfing at Rincon

Surfer Going In


Rincon Surfers, Ventura CA, Day Trip, Travel, Ocean, Santa Barbara Day Trip, Surfing at Rincon

Rincon Surfers


Rincon Surfers, Ventura CA, Day Trip, Travel, Ocean, Santa Barbara Day Trip, Surfing at Rincon

Surfing Rincon

Funk Zone Time!

2nd Saturday Art Walk – Funk Zone

If you’re in Santa Barbara on the Second Saturday of the month, make sure to find your way to the Funk Zone.  Every month over 20 artists open their studios and galleries to the public from 1-5 pm.  Many venues in the Funk Zone feature live music, and there are plenty of wineries to check out too!

Start early if you want to see them all!

My first stop was The Arts Fund Gallery.  They featured multiple artists inside, as well as outside.  They also had live music, a food truck and free tastings from Jun Brewery.

Funk Zone Tasting, Jun Brewery, Santa Barbara

Jun Brewery Tasting

This is not beer my friends! It is a craft fermented probiotic drink. It’s brewed with Raw Organic Honey and Jasmine. It does have a light alcohol content, so if you’re a lightweight, watch out… Kidding! Joking aside, it was a tasty alternative drink, and quite refreshing on a hot day. And, I’m pretty sure it’s good for you too! You can schedule a tasting by going on their website.

Next I stopped was over to check out the art of Stafford Taylor. I absolutely love his art and will provide a link to his website soon.

The artwork of Stafford Taylor, funk zone, Santa Barbara, CA

Stafford Taylor and His Art

Santa Barbara Art Foundry & Gallery was next on the list. This place is super cool. It is an actual working bronze foundry, which you are able to tour. The art is an eclectic mix. You can find metal and glass sculptures, paintings, photography, and more. Don’t forget to stop by the wine bar to try some local Fox Wine!

Santa Barbara Art Foundry & Gallery, Funk Zone, Santa Barbara Day Trip

Santa Barbara Art Foundry & Gallery

As I was walking to the next studio, I came across a truck parked on Yanonali Street & Santa Barbara St. At first, I thought it was some sort of food truck. I decided to investigate, and was surprised to find handcrafted treasures from local artisans and designers inside. How fabulous… Mobile Art! You can find The Habitat Factory in the Funk Zone on 2nd Saturdays or check out their website for more info.

2nd Saturday, Santa Barabara, Art, The Habitat Factory

The Habitat Factory

I should have started earlier! I was running out of time, and hadn’t even been to half of the studios! I managed to squeeze one more in before it all ended. I was drawn in by a pair of cowboy boots that had been converted to roller skates. There they sat promising more of the unexpected inside. In I walked to find the sculpture and assemblage art of Dan Levin. He refers to his art as Objects Of Curiosity, and that they are! Finished pieces coexist among a fascinating array of random objects.

Santa Barbara, art, Dan Levin

Dan Levin’s Art

Last but not least, I headed over to Seven. A girl’s got to eat… and ok have a beer too! They also are a part of 2nd Saturday, so I figured I could see some art as well.
The Pulled Pork Sliders, Parmesan Truffle Fries and a beer were the perfect way to end the Art Walk!

Seven in Santa Barbara, Art, Food

Outside at Seven

Grand Central Market Los Angeles

Los Angeles Grand Central Market

I discovered the Grand Central Market, while hunting for parking in the Los Angeles Jewelry District.  Driving by, I wondered why I had never heard about this hidden gem in downtown LA.  It just cried out “Park your car and come on in”!  So, after shopping, I did just that. I wandered over to Broadway to check it out.

This is a market that got it right!  It has a history dating back to 1917 and has been operating since then… Once again, how did I not know of it’s existence?

It encompasses 30,000 square feet, and is filled with a crazy amount of food choices. I circled three times before deciding what I wanted! It has a little bit of everything… Multiple restaurants, fresh produce, bulk grains, desserts, fresh juice, coffee, and even a liquor selection.

You can find moles, dried beans, rice, and specialty products at Chiles Secos  or try Valeria’s for an extensive selection of Latin dry goods.   Fresh seasonal produce and vegetable are available at La Casa Verde, Sun’s, or Torres Produce.  The restaurant choices are diverse… Kababs, Chinese, Hawaiian BBQ, Oysters, Salvadorean and more!  The prices are ridiculous… As in really good!

I had such a hard time choosing!  The debate was between Bento Ya Japanese Cuisine, Kabab & More, or Sarita’s Pupuseria.  I ended up going with Bento Ya Japanese Cuisine.  It was hard to pass up Grilled Teriyaki Chicken for just $5.75!  It was a decent amount of food for the price, and tasted good too!

I guess I will have to find a few more reasons to hit downtown LA.  How else am I going to be able to try all the other options that I could only gaze at?

Los Angeles Day Trip to Grand Central Market

Entry to Grand Central Market

Los Angeles Day Trip to Grand Central Market

Lot’s of Produce Choices!

Day trip to Los Angeles Grand Central Market

Fish Anyone?

Day Trip to restaurant in Los Angeles Grand Central Market

So Many Choices!

And… Then There Was Galway

Galway stole my heart… I’m really not quite sure when or how it happened, only that it did. It happened in less than 48 hours.

We got on a bus out of Dublin in the morning, with the expectation of arriving in Galway 2 hours later… Wow, what a surprise when the college girl behind us informed us we were not on the express bus! We had another 3 hours to go! WHAT????

Travel Lesson: Pay attention to the bus schedules and what you are boarding!
The Positive: We traveled at a VERY leisurely pace and saw some of the most incredibly beautiful countryside of Ireland… What’s the hurry anyway right?

Galway City in Ireland

Where’s our hotel?

Once we arrived in Galway, we went in search of The House Hotel in the Latin Quarter. It wasn’t horribly far from the bus stop, and we quickly found our way with the help of some friendly locals.

House Hotel in Galway Ireland

The House Hotel, Galway Ireland

You have no idea how happy we were to arrive at The House Hotel! OMG cute appeal! The décor of the lobby and the lounge made me feel as if I had stepped into an Alice In Wonderland fantasy! After our nightmare hotel in Dublin, we felt like our fairy godmother had sprinkled fairy dust upon us and blessed us with The House Hotel! The location was ideal, the service phenomenal, the hotel very eco-friendly… And, the staff absolutely amazing! I’m already planning my return trip!

House Hotel Galway Ireland


Make sure to check out the lounge… They are open late and you’ll be sure to get some good craic with the bartender!

Lounge bar in the House Hotel in Galway Ireland

Check out the lounge!

Once we checked in… Food was the priority! After over five hours on the bus, we were starving! We had been given many recommendations of where to go, but we decided to wander and let fate play it’s hand…

We didn’t have to wander too far. We stumbled upon Cactus Jack’s, which was just across the street. Make sure to go for the Early Bird pricing! Despite the Early Bird Hour name, this is usually dinner time in the USA… Bonus is cheaper prices.

The food was delicious… And, I mean everything! Make sure to get some wine too… Get the bottle, not the glass.  The Early Bird pricing applies to wine too… It’s worth it! We chose a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and it was fabulous!

Cactus Jack's Early Bird Special

Early Bird Special

The staff was fantastic… Our waiter was an American guy that fell in love with an Irish girl and stayed…  Ahhh love! It’s a good thing!

They gave us a list of where we should go after dinner to hear some Trad, and then for some late night fun… All I can say is, I can’t thank you enough! Wow! Good times!

So, that being said… No matter where you start, you will most likely end up at The Quays in Galway. They’re open late, they have live music, and well… what can I say… it’s lot’s of fun!

Quays .Pub.. Late night Galway

Quays… Late night Galway

The Quays Pub Galway Ireland

Inside The Quays

I love all the fireplaces in the pubs in Ireland… Cozy!

Galway Ireland Cozy fireplace in The Quays

Cozy fireplace in The Quays

In the morning, and I use the word morning loosely, we found our way down to Griffin’s Bakery for breakfast. Any place that serves crepes, Nutella, maple syrup, and a stack of bacon on a plate… Well, what can I say other than I will return to over and over again! I know… It’s not a traditional Irish breakfast, but good God… It’s oozing with a whole lot of sugar, and of course let’s not forget the bacon! For a picky eater like myself, it was a good thing!

Bakery in Galway Ireland Griffings

Griffin’s Bakery

February is not the warmest time to visit Ireland, and most wouldn’t choose this time of year to come… I, however, found it refreshing and invigorating to my spirit, and my soul.

Living in California can get somewhat boring in the realm of weather…. I love rain, thunder storms, clouds, mist, dreary weather and all that comes with it… It’s the space where mystics, dreamers, poets, and writers are born and thrive…

This is what I found in Ireland… In a sense my home away from home. I can breathe here and dream… I found peace and a connection that can’t really be explained…  Can I stay please?

So Ireland… I fell hopelessly in love with you… Head over heals, and I will be back… Nothing will keep me away!

Did I dream it or did it dream me? Galway Ireland

Did I dream it or did it dream me?

River Corrib in Galway Ireland

River Corrib, Galway Ireland

Many thanks to the Tourism Board of Ireland for sponsoring our stay at The House Hotel in Galway Ireland. This is one of the top hotels I have stayed in and will do so again, as well as recommend it to others.

Swept Up In A Water Protest – Dublin

How Did We End Up In A Dublin Water Protest?

It was day two in Dublin, and we were ready to start exploring. We went in search of the Dublin Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tour. We thought it would be a fun way to get a feel for the city, and grab some photos along the way. Off we went, directions in hand. As we neared the River Liffey, we quickly realized something was up!

Thousands of people carrying signs, and chanting were converging onto O’Connell Street from all points. What was going on? We decided to check it out, and somehow ended up in a protest!

water protest in Dublin Ireland

Maybe I should have had a sign!

So, what exactly were they protesting? We started talking with the people, and they were more than willing to explain the issue.

Unlike the USA, the people of Ireland have never had their water usage metered. Up until now, water services have been paid through taxation.  They consider water a human right and a public good, not a commodity. What a concept! What if we did this worldwide? After all, who really owns water?

Water protest in Dublin Ireland

Sold out by the government!

I was impressed by the passion of the people, and quite amazed by the amount that came out to protest this issue. It was estimated over 30,000 people participated!

Dublin Ireland water protests

Pure passion!

Where have I see that guy in the mask? He looks familiar…

Protesters in Dublin Ireland

No EU Rule In Ireland!

The water protest continued through the streets of Dublin, ending at Leinster House where the Garda (Irish Police) stood ready and waiting for the protesters.

Garda and dogs waiting for Water Protesters

Garda and dogs ready to pounce!

The entire protest had been peaceful… No violence anywhere, so I wasn’t sure what to expect once we saw the Garda with the dogs. What did they think was going to happen? Did they know something we didn’t? We didn’t have to wait long for action… Flares started going off, and there was a jumper! Over the fence he went, and he was running… But, not for long! Garda took him down!

It was reported that he fell inside while trying to get a photo… Hmmmm, don’t know about that. I think if that was they case, he would have been sprawled out on the ground, and not running! However he ended up on the other side didn’t matter much, he was promptly taken away and arrested.

As I was shooting the video on my iPhone, the Irish Times was capturing everything as it unfolded… Was I ever surprised to see I had made it into the Irish Times! That’s me on the other side of the fence, right before the protester was taken down!

Exciting times in Ireland!

I made the Irish Times! Photo Credit: Eric Luke/Irish Times

I made the Irish Times!
Photo Credit: Eric Luke/Irish Times

If you’d like to learn more about water charges and get involved, you can find information through Right2Water.

Coming next: Galway…

Temple Bar and TRADFEST

Ahhh Temple Bar… So much fun to be had in this area of Dublin! It did not disappoint! To be clear… There is an actual Temple Bar Pub in the Temple Bar neighborhood of Dublin, which features live Trad Sessions daily…

The actual neighborhood is an eclectic mix of many pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, and hostels. We kept hearing that this area is where the tourists go, and I’m sure to an extent it is. We encountered many Europeans on a weekend holiday, and hey… We were there too! You will, however, find plenty of  Irish people also go to Temple Bar! It’s just a fun area to hang out in!

The drinks tend to be pricier in that part of town, however I found it to be comparable to California, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas prices… In other words, I wasn’t shocked by it, and it did not deter me from hanging out there.

Temple Bar Pub in Dublin Ireland

The actual Temple Bar!


It’s most lively from Thursday through Sunday.

The Temple Bar neighborhood also hosts TRADFEST! It’s an annual music festival, now in it’s 10th year,  where many venues play host to Traditional Irish Music Artists. It’s good fun, and not to be missed if you are lucky enough to be in Dublin when it’s happening! We saw many amazingly talented artists, and I am now hooked on Trad!

One of my favs was Mundy at Fitzsimon’s in Temple Bar.


Coming next… Dublin Water Protests.