April 26, 2014
My laptop’s humming came to a halt. I sat still, staring at the screen in a state of exhilarated disbelief. Lily snoozed at my feet, cheering me on with muffled yelps, paws twitching as she dreamed. I was filled with adrenaline as I checked over my first post one last time.
Plans had been stewing for weeks. It began during a late morning shower one lazy Saturday. I was mulling over the details of my trip to Peru when I shifted to a common daydream I was always coming back to. I had long wished I could be a travel guide writer. I imagined myself exploring Peru, India, Thailand, and a hundred other places conducting on-location research and organizing my findings into a travel guide. I saw myself helping other travelers have the best experience possible. I wanted to be like my favorite travel author, Rick Steves.
I was always reading the author biographies in my guidebooks, wondering how they landed the dream job. None of them were engineers or science nerds like me. I was a chemical engineer in grad school, on my way to a PhD. I wanted to do both, but I knew that I couldn’t. I had cells to grow, experiments to run, and limited vacation time. I began herding my thoughts back to reality when a small spark of an idea formed in the back of my mind.
I could start a blog.
With a blog, I didn’t need a big publishing company to hire me. I wouldn’t have to quit school and abandon my engineering career. I could start small and publish mini destination guides on my own schedule. Why hadn’t I thought of it before?
My mind began to fill with all of the articles I would write, all the things I would say. I thought of all of my travel photos that could find a home in my guides. The idea of building my own travel guide website and having complete creative control over what was published thrilled me.
I shut off the water, threw on some clothes, and rushed to my laptop, my still-tangled hair dripping on my shoulders. I paused, then my fingers anxiously tapped out “how to start a blog.”
Over the next few weeks, I spent my nights typing out drafts of my Big Island Hawaii guide and brainstorming blog names on my walks with Lily. Of the hundreds of the blog names I came up with, a few of them were decent, but most domain names were already taken. There were slim pickings for clever travel blog names.
Finally after weeks of constant brainstorming, I came up with an idea. With all of the resources and travel guides I had planned, I would be leaving a clear trail for travelers to follow in my footsteps. With that idea in mind, Breadcrumbs Guide was born. It was a happy coincidence that I loved to eat crusty and crumbly french bread, often leaving crumbs in my wake.
Within two days of choosing the name, I put all of my plans into action. I purchased a hosting plan, installed WordPress, got a theme from Studiopress, made design customizations, and entered in my first post. Soon Breadcrumbs Guide was ready to publish.
My laptop’s humming had come to a halt. After years of wishing I could be a travel writer, and weeks of laying the plans for my blog, I was on the verge of making it all a reality. My Asus Zenbook waited silently in my lap. “I’m gonna do it!” I shouted to Garren and Lily. With one side of her face smooshed upward, Lily lifted her head off the floor to look at me. Garren shouted back, “do it!” and came to watch over my shoulder. I clicked publish on my first post and for the first time, Breadcrumbs Guide went live.
It has been exactly one year since I hit that publish button.
Breadcrumbs Guide: Year 1
This has been a year of big changes for me. It has been exhilarating and liberating to take charge of my loftiest dreams and make things happen for myself. I’ve loved the feeling of pure creation while building and designing this site. The challenge and satisfaction of writing, and the thrill of being able to turn something I love into something useful and (hopefully) entertaining has accessed a motivation and drive I never knew I had.
Let’s see where Breadcrumbs Guide has taken us this year.
The Big Island
I fell in love with Hawaii’s Big Island. The Hawaiian islands have always made me feel at home, and I’ve found myself returning over and over again, but this was my first time exploring Hawaii’s youngest and largest island. I don’t know why I waited so long. Here’s just a taste of why I loved the Big Island:
Driving up the summit of a volcano to watch the sun set over the clouds was breathtaking, surreal, and peaceful.
I was constantly reminded how incredibly powerful the Earth can be at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The absolute best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced was the kayak-in snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay – and I’ve snorkeled A LOT on Hawaii’s other islands.
The Big Island’s Kona Coast had some of the best sunsets I’d ever seen.
I know I’ll be back to the Big Island of Hawaii.
I went wild with all of the mountain scenery and soaked it all in on the Inca Trail. Machu Picchu speaks for itself. Peru ranks as one of my all-time favorite destinations.
A weekend in St. Louis went awry when someone broke into my sister’s car. I was a total idiot and had WAY too much stuff left in the trunk. Live and learn. On the bright side, we had a kick-ass time at the St. Louis City Museum, a labyrinth of salvaged materials made into a giant playground/museum for adults. Basically, the best thing ever.
I explored Washington DC, taking in the monuments, museums, and delicious food. It was a great city for exploring on foot.
After a total public transit fail, I spent a couple days exploring London, a stopover city on my way to India. More London posts are coming up soon!
My first restaurant search in a new city is always to look for a good Indian restaurant. Naturally, I felt I needed to go to the source at some point. These posts aren’t on the blog yet (Update: they’re up!), but I have a whole arsenal of posts coming your way. India was crazy!
My Favorite Posts from this Year
My Best Resource Guides from this Year:
I hope that Breadcrumbs Guide has helped you plan some of your travels and inspired you to add a destination to your bucket list. I would love to hear what you liked and didn’t like from the past year, and what you would like to see in the future.
A Look at What’s to Come
For the next few months I’m keeping things close to home. I have a PhD to work on, after all. But I still have big plans for this year and a big trip planned at the end. Here’s a taste of what’s to come next year on Breadcrumbs Guide.
You may not have heard of the Boundary Waters, but this huge wilderness at the Northern edge of Minnesota is studded with thousands of glassy lakes framed by endless forest. With hardly any people, no civilization, and lots of nature, it’s a great place to get away for some peace and solitude. National Geographic called it one of America’s Great Adventures. I’ll be canoeing and portaging from lake to lake, camping with a group of friends.
Rediscovering My Hometown
I come from the small town of Stillwater, Minnesota, the oldest town in the state. It’s a picture-perfect collection of shops and homes set at the foot of limestone bluffs along the St. Croix River. It’s one of Minnesota’s most popular weekend getaways and I’m excited to rediscover it and share my insider secrets with you!
If all goes well, I will be attending another tissue engineering conference, but in Boston this time! Boston has long been on my list, but I’ve never had a chance to go. I hope this is my year!
After having such an amazing time on the Big Island last year, I can’t wait to get back to the Hawaiian Islands again. I already have big plans for next year’s trip to Maui, including getting my scuba certification here at home so I can do some diving on Maui. I’m kind of terrified, but also very excited!
Looking back on the past 365 days, I am so overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to see all of these amazing places. But even more than that, I am so truly thankful that you have taken time out of your busy life to listen to my travel stories and read my obsessively planned tips, tricks, and strategies. You’re presence on this site blows me away. If you traveled back one year in time to tell me you had been reading my travel guides, I would laugh and try to wake myself up from a dream. Without you, this site would just be a bunch of data on a hard drive somewhere. You make Breadcrumbs Guide something great. Thank you for being here. It means the world to me.
Thank you for one year with Breadcrumbs Guide.