April in Chicago….(my quick version of a few tidbits) I had a vision of my trip to the Windy City going something like this- Chicago style pizza, more pizza, eat my share of Chicago style hot dogs, and rub shoulders with people that sound like the guys on ESPN  talking about “Da Bears,” in the heaviest “Ditka” accents.  Still laughing (too much ESPN in our house).  The only one that came true was the pizza thing.

I found Chicago, yes, to be very windy, HUGE, extremely clean and friendly.  I met up with my beautiful and talented friend Katie from Off Switch in a quirky cool neighborhood in Chicago for lunch and tea.  And, I really mostly wound up eating at Whole Foods nearby the hotel.  I will say that my all time favorite meal was at Frontera.  Second best, was a place in the Wicker Park neighborhood at a restaurant called Antique Taco, where I met Katie at.

I was most fascinated with the architecture there and how massively ocean-like Lake Michigan is, so I snapped around on the handful of sunny days I had.

I highly recommend taking a river taxi or river architectural cruise through the city.  My favorite place to view the city from up high was from the top of the John Hancock building.  If you go, there is a viewing area you can pay to go to or you can simply go the the Signature Room Lounge to hangout and admire the view while having a cocktail.

a handful of phone photos:

Until next time, Chicago.

Chicago prints available soon in my Etsy shop (link on the right).

Up next for travels/prints: Marfa, TX (El Cosmico)/Balmorhea Springs, TX, Oregon (Lake Billy Chinook, Central Oregon), Redwoods, CA, San Francisco, CA, & Washington D.C.

  • Susan - Such cool shots! I should have gotten higher up when I visited last to see good views like this.ReplyCancel

I’m here… just been focusing on some quiet time.  I know that doesn’t sound possible between my October trip to Morocco, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years  to now.  But it has been one of the most reflective and calm times in my life.  Calm, in the sense of being at peace with things in general. That, and my family and I have recently experienced a sort of forced laziness that we intentionally tried during our Christmas break.  It was oh so good, but I think we all agree that laziness would be hard for us on a full-time basis.  Ha ha.  Was much needed though.

My mom and I got back home from Morocco toward the end of October and I still feel like I’m processing my trip there.  It was awesome, magical, chaotic, emotional, thrilling, peaceful… a mix of all of this, wrapped up into one.  I feel like it’s a “must” that I return for a couple of reasons.  One, being the cause I love to support and those who surround it.  Two, because it was my first time to travel that far away and I was so focused on not losing my passport, calculating currency exchange, making sure I stayed on track with time and activities.  So, I think that another trip there would be much more relaxing and I’d feel like an old pro.  I look back now, and everything went so well.  Next time I want to stay for longer or just focus on being spontaneous, relaxing more, planning less.

I didn’t take as many photos as I was hoping to and had some broken files due to an old camera card… such a bummer.  Although, I didn’t have much of a chance, nor did I really want to have my camera in front of my face the entire time.  I put it down so I could just experience Morocco and soak it all in.  It truly is a sensory experience like so many people say that visit there.

Here is a summary through the photos that I did take, with my big camera and with my iPhone.

Arrival to the Marrakech, Morocco airport. (back and front). Just love the front architecture and landscaping.

Peacock Pavilions for the first three days…  My favorite place to stay ever. Really. It is located outside of the city of Marrakech (Marrakesh), tucked away in a working olive grove.  It’s private, luxurious, full of Moroccan eye candy throughout, yet feels like staying in a private home as part of their family.  Just outside of the property is a village/community that the owners of Peacock Pavilions serve, voluntarily, making a difference in so many ways.  This, I had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes.  Such a hard working family who are a joy to be around.

My mom and I stayed in the Atlas Pavilion… our retreat while here.  We stayed in one of the bedrooms and a couple I just came to adore stayed in the the other. Maryam has truly outdone herself with the decor throughout Peacock Pavilions.  She is beyond talented in so many ways…. such as her exquisitely decorated dining tables in her dreamy traditional Moroccan dining tent, where the most delicious dinners of tagine dishes, Moroccan wine and decadent desert served, all while listening to magical tales from Maryam’s life and experiences. She had stories for many of the art pieces displayed in her home from far away travels during her humanitarian work, some for sale.  I purchased items from her Red Thread Souk while there and even after shopping the souks, I regret not buying more from Maryam’s shop while there.  I’ll just have to buy more online 😉

The girls of Project Soar.  I still get a lump in my throat, paired with a big smile every time I look at these photos and think of my time with them. My mom and I brought a bunch of art supplies and helped the girls have some new sneakers to run and play in. I lead an art project for the girls that Sunday I was there.  Can you guess what we made?  They loved all of the colors and textures.  I watched them giggle uncontrollably when they’d have glue on their fingers and had feathers stuck to their fingers and would wave them in the air trying to get them off.  Was precious. I thought it would be fun to add a little imagination, pretend play and sparkle to their lives.  Little did I know, they’d do that for me instead! It was the ultimate highlight of my trip and the very reason that pushed me to finally make the trip to Marrakech.

We took a day trip to the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains to take a mule trek and visit Kasbah Tamadot for lunch.  Divine.  The whole time I kept thinking to myself in disbelief …”I’m in Africa… I’m in Africa… I’m in Africa” Being out in the Agafay Desert, toward the Sahara Desert was unreal.

After we said goodbye to our Peacock Pavilions family, we headed into the Medina (old city) of Marrakech to stay at Riad Idra, a quaint and comfy riad. I’ve always wanted to stay in one…for the unassuming doors placed on the interior of the narrow winding maze within the old city, that you walk into and discover a paradise retreat containing a secret central courtyard, away from the hustle and bustle outside.

From here, my mom and I just walked outside of the door for a day of a Marrakech sightseeing tour, and a couple days of walking the souks to do some exploring and shopping. Upon arrival the first day at the riad, we enjoyed a food tour, run by Amanda and her husband, called Marrakech Food Tours.  I highly recommend this as one of the very first things you do if you plan a trip here.  It’s a good orientation and overview of how to navigate the maze of the medina (old city), and a way to taste delicious traditional Moroccan food.  I know many people worry about eating local food in another country and this will set your mind at ease about it all.  I didn’t meet a food here on this trip that I didn’t like.  And, if you get the chance to learn from a local Moroccan, how to make Moroccan mint tea, do it.  I’ve been making it for my husband ever since my trip and even growing my own mint to keep up with the demand.  Ha ha.

the food..

the sights and handy work…the smells…the architecture…

the gardens… (one of my top spots to visit is here, Jardin Majorelle)

It was a very cool trip to say the least!

I plan to return to Morocco… to soak a little more in and to help with Project Soar.  If you happen to travel to Marrakech (Marrakesh), please consider  volunteering with the Project Soar community.  If Morocco is too much of a trip to take, you can always help from where you are here.

As a novice traveler to Morocco, I’m here if you have any questions or want tips on planning a trip such as mine.

Thank you for reading!

Or, as the local Moroccan’s say “shokran” (sounds like shu-kran).  That’s my best Texan attempt & hopefully I didn’t just totally botch the polite phrase

 

 

 

  • Rachel - You hit all my dream spots! Such a gorgeous post. Bookmarking. Enjoy your relax time, that’s the best after holiday! XoReplyCancel

  • Krista - SO excited to have found your instagram feed and website… beautiful photos and I LOVE the airstream! :-)ReplyCancel

I have decided to take a trip to Marrakesh Morocco.  Africa, that is.  I’ve wanted to go since I was a teen and somehow never really thought of it as “Africa,” funny.

I’m taking my mom with me…wishing for my daughter to go (my whole family, really), but next time.  We’ll have a couple short stays in Madrid Spain, which will be a fun quick peek.  I’m sure I will come back with loads of photos and Moroccan goodies for my home.  But, I somehow think that the girls I will be meeting and helping will be the icing on the cake.  

For now, I’ll share about Project Soar, in which my lovely daughter is modeling on the iPad.  There’s so much to say about this, the girls, the community, those who make it possible.  For now, I’ll tell you that I’ll be leading an art project for these girls, bringing some fun art supplies, and taking and printing photos of them for their families.  I CANNOT WAIT!  I’m sure I will want to bring every single one of them home with me, but I’m sure Maryam will kindly tell me I shall not… but maybe come back to help again. Until my next posts full of Moroccan goodness, I leave you with the link to read all about Project Soar and the associated community projects.

  • Charlotte - That is my dream place to go! I am off to check out Project Soar. How lovely to be going. Can’t wait to hear more about it.ReplyCancel

  • Lyndsey - Hope you are having THE TiMe of your LiFe! Wish I was there!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - Jennifer, these photos are BEYOND. Although I wouldn’t expect anything less from you! Dying to go to there:) Glad you had a beautiful trip!!ReplyCancel

It’s been a fun summer with a few travels under our belt.  We found ourselves returning to Balmorhea State Park by way of our 1962 Airstream trailer.  To be more familiar with the area, it’s near Marfa, TX and the Davis Mountains.  This time we camped out here and didn’t explore as much as our last visit.  We did make a day trip to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico which was very cool!

Balmorhea State Park is located on the San Solomon Springs in far West Texas… in the High Desert of the Trans-Pecos, to be exact.  We decided to let the kids take full advantage of learning how to snorkel in the unique spring fed pool.  It’s basically a place that seems part swimming pool with a constructed pool/hard floor and then drops to 25 feet deep where there are rocks, plant life, Texas Soft Shell Turtles and rare fish only found here.

During this trip, I primarily pulled out my iPhone for photos. As you can see, my kids are part fish.

Here’s what our last trip looked like when we stayed at El Cosmico (one of my favorite places… next time it’s girls’ trip here!) in Marfa and the Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains.  I have a hand-full of photos in my shops from this trip.

On the way to Marfa.

El Cosmico.

Indian Lodge/Davis Mountains.

Balmorhea Springs.

  • Jeri - Glad I was able to find you! Lol. This looks like such a cool place! Robert & I just may have to take a mini vacation there. But, we still need to get together!ReplyCancel

Sometimes accidents happen.  Sometimes they’re good.  Sometimes I still wonder “Where in cyber space are you floating around, old blog of mine?” But, hey… let’s make the best of it.  Here’s to change! My old blog that I’ve had for years just disappeared one day without warning.  I made a stab of an effort to try and rescue it and then decided that it was just too much hassle.  And, to stay true to my goal of simplifying life, I cleaned “cyber” house and, well…. here you go.  A new hub for me to link my art shops to and share my projects, sprinkled with personal tid bits here and there, as I live, travel, and print (& repeat). You can find my Etsy and Big Cartel shop links to the right >>> where I have a handful of travel prints for sale. Currently, they are from travels primarily in the western US with more updates to come.  In honor of our next travel plans to Oregon, here are views from past trips.  Thanks for stopping by!

  • Kate - Seriously, Jennifer….your work knocks my socks off. I just LOVE every image!!!ReplyCancel

    • jenharr - Thank you for your kind words, Kate! It’s my escape.. & fun. I’ve enjoyed reading & seeing the photos on your site & about your travels!!ReplyCancel