Hot (Vaccinated) Girl Summer Part One

One of my biggest motivations to get the COVID-19 vaccine was the ability to travel again. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and so many of my friends live in other states, so I have to fly or drive long hours to see them. The thought of getting on an airplane without the extra protection of the vaccine was not an option for me, so I got my first dose in April and my second dose in May. By mid-May, I was fully vaccinated and ready to spend time with my friends with less risk!

This summer, between my two jobs, I’m working 6 days/50 hours a week. Because I’m technically a part-time employee at my main job, I’m able to ask off for whatever days I need. In a regular week, I spend my one day off reading, roller skating, relaxing, and getting important adult things done. I’ve also been drinking a lot of coffee and re-watching my favorite shows, like Avatar the Last Airbender.

What gets me through these exhausting weeks are the trips I’ve asked off for and planned out. I have already been able to take a week off to visit my sister Brenna in South Carolina, and a weekend off to visit one of my best friends, Jaycee, in Colorado.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Early June 2021)

I flew out to see Brenna on June 3, 2021 and spent an entire week with her, flying back to Missouri on June 10. We spent the week cuddling with her adorable (but crazy) cat Ollie, shopping with her friends, drinking Starbucks on the front porch, and getting some much-needed rest and catch-up time.

On my first night there, we met up with one of her roommates, Jessie, at Broadway at the Beach. We got delicious pizza and ice cream and walked around the outdoor mall, popping into stores and sharing lots of laughs.

Another favorite day of the trip was Saturday morning. Brenna and I got coffee from a local coffee shop and drove into Downtown Conway to check out a farmers market. The market itself was small but cute, full of local vendors selling fruits, veggies, and other treats. A fudge stand had dozens of flavors of fudge laid out, and to my surprise, had a good selection of vegan options. Once the seller realized I was vegan, he had me try multiple flavors. I couldn’t help but buy a raspberry one, which I ate throughout the week. Then Brenna and I walked around, taking pictures, talking, and enjoying the scenery. After a dispute trying to find a public bathroom, we got lunch from a delicious Mexican restaurant and checked out an antique stop. Back at home, we read while sitting on the porch with Ollie. Then I took Brenna’s bike out for a spin and biked to her college campus, where I read by a fountain for a while. That night, we had a virtual movie night with two of my best friends, Chey and Mackenzie, where we watched The Muppet Movie.

Another fun day, we took Ollie to Brenna’s college campus and got Starbucks. We met up with one of her friends and drank our coffee, watching Ollie explore. Later, Brenna and I went to the beach where we sat in the sun until it started to sprinkle. We even brought her guitar and ukulele, which we used to serenade to seagulls. We got changed back at her house, then met up with another friend for pizza at Mellow Mushroom. After dinner, we went to a DINOSAUR-THEMED mini golf place! I used my knowledge to identify many of the species.

Some more fun things we did: drank smoothies on the roof, got obsessed with a game called “Animal Restaurant “, went shopping and watched New Moon with Brenna’s roommate Emma, went to an art museum, ate a family-sized French fry just the two of us, watched Ned’s Declassified, Sofia the First, and Raya and the Last Dragon, drank lots of coffee with Chloe, and spent countless hours hanging out with Ollie.

Just two weeks after I got back from visiting Brenna, I was back at the airport- this time headed to Colorado. After a three hour delay and tons of traffic, I finally made it to Denver in Jaycee’s car at about 1am on June 25, 2021.

Castle Rock, Colorado (Late June 2021)

My first day in Colorado, Jaycee had to work during the day, so I dropped her off and took her car for a morning hike. This was my first time alone with my own thoughts (with no music or podcasts playing to distract me) in a long time, so it was very healing and restorative. I sat on a cliff overlooking a canyon and did a lot of thinking, and it was just what I needed to heal some parts of me that were still broken. Recovering from trauma and broken relationships is not a linear process, and that’s something I’m still learning. I’m proud of myself for all the growth I’ve survived the last year and a half. After some deep soul-searching, I read for a little bit before heading back to pick up Jaycee for lunch. We got pizza during her lunch break, and then I went back to her house and took a nap while she finished out the rest of her work day.

After she got off, I picked her up from work with her fiancé, David, and we got coffee from DutchBros. We ate dinner with David’s family and hung out the rest of the evening, relaxing and catching up.

The next day, Jaycee and I set out for a morning hike. There was rain and thunder in the forecast, so we didn’t want to be stranded on the top of a mountain if the weather got bad. We found an easy but beautiful hike (Jaycee called it a glorified nature walk) that still managed to make my lungs hurt. After our hike, we drove into Denver to get vegan donuts from Voodoo Donut. Those donuts are heavenly and I still think about them. Back at home, Jaycee made everyone her special “cheesy-ghetti”, which I have heard her talk about for years. It did not disappoint, and Jaycee, David, and I spent the night full and happy, playing Wii and watching a movie.

The next day, we went to church in the morning before I headed back to the airport. We didn’t let the day pass without taking a few pictures, though, and getting food from a vegan restaurant Jaycee insisted I try (it was delicious). Then I was back at the crowded airport where I had to change gates three times before finally getting back to the Midwest.

I’ve loved being able to travel again and see my friends! I have more trips planned shortly, but until then, I have work to keep me busy (and coffee to keep me sane). I’m thankful for the scientists who worked hard to create a vaccine that allows us to start getting back to our normal lives.

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