Travel Break: Quarantined Water Art

In the past decade, the word “Travel” ignited the imagery of beautiful beaches, exotic forests, and the City of Lights, Paris. With the world at a standstill due to COVID-19, the new norm is “boredom.” Any form of travel for me is freedom. From a hike on Cumberland island to a four day trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina was what I lived for in my free time. Now, for the sake of preventing the spread of the deadly virus, I have had to dive deep into my favorite past time hobby, watercolor painting. With so much time on my hands, I could do more than just paint for a hobby. I can find a way to let it benefit me financially.

I recently went to the Riverside Arts Market in my home city, Jacksonville. I bought two pieces of watercolor art from a painter and fashion designer named Teresa Cook. Her work was original and fun to me. I envied her technique and the confidence she has in her work. It didn’t hit me until I got home that I might have the talent to make a little money on it myself. I only use to paint when I became too stressed out or my bad days with depression would take hold of me. I never wanted my hobby to become work, and it would take away the therapy I received from it.

Until I can get myself together with how I will come to make watercolor art financially beneficial for me, I will enjoy my thoughtless doodles and splashes of imaginary wonders on paper. I can’t wait for the moment when we could all get back to traveling and appreciating this gorgeous Earth.

Check out Teresa Cook’s instagram page, @teresacookartanddesigns.

Great Makeovers for U.S. Road Rest Areas

I remember traveling at a young age, and we would pull into a rest area for restroom breaks. They were the absolute worst places to go but, when you got to go, you got to go. Often times you go into a rest area, and the bathrooms look like something from the pilgrim era. The entire restroom smelled like a port-o-potty exploded. Sanitation was beneath passing. Honestly, I couldn’t see how the state would allow this.

In the coming years, though, I’ve seen a significant change to rest areas. I would think the improvements would only extend to making the restrooms more pleasant, but rest areas makeovers are doing so much more. It was my thought that rest areas represent the state. Think about it, travelers and tourists go to a rest area in Texas. If the rest area is filthy, they may assume the worst about the state in general. It sounds unlikely, but humans often judge a book by its cover or generalize because of one little thing happening. It happens.

Now, these rest areas are being built with so much more to offer now. They aren’t just a place to get an overpriced soda and a quick place to potty. They come equipped with hiking trails for dogs, jungle gyms for kids, museums, libraries, game rooms, and other stuff to entertain people while they break. The rest stop I visited in Arkansas had a library and a museum displaying Arkansas as the world’s leading source for quartz minerals. A rest stop and visitor center at the Texas state line had an entire boardwalk you could walk on and catch alligators and other wildlife in the preserve.

Where in the hell was all this when I was little? The most we could get out of rest areas back then playing with rocks outside the building sat at picnic tables that were covered in bird poop, and boring brochures desperately displaying the vacation hotspots of the state. Now rest areas are a bed short of a hotel.

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I am glad that the rest areas have made big changes since I was young. Tourism is everything to any state or locality. It would be wise to improve first impressions.