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13 Months, 45 States, 382 Restaurants & Still Goin’ + A List-y Recap Of The Past Year

13 Months, 45 States, 382 Restaurants & Still Goin’ + A List-y Recap Of The Past Year

| On 08, Nov 2012

On Turning 30

It’s so funny, you guys. I’m actually REALLY excited about being thirty!! It’s funny because I’ve only really ever heard other people talk about dreading 30 for various reasons, but I am totally stoked. I’ve just had THE most amazing year of my life. Why wouldn’t I look forward to what’s to come?! :)

This entire past year has completely changed my life. I’ve met the most incredible, kind, generous, and compassionate people that I’ve ever known; I’ve been gifted opportunities to explore parts of this country that have taken my breath away; I’ve had the rare opportunity to be totally alone and to explore my inner most self, to spend time with me and think about the person I want to be, and where I wish to go in life; and of course I’ve eaten more incredible vegan food than I could dream of.


YOU made this happen. You who donated through Kickstarter. You who gave me a couch to sleep on or a shower to clean up in. You who treated me to a meal. You who are reading this post at this very moment. The you’s who showed me around town, who helped fix up the van, who have been emotionally supportive throughout this entire journey. The you’s who introduced me to new ways of looking at the world in front of me and the life that is my own. YOU ALL have forever changed who I am as a person. Each of you have enriched my life, have made me a better and stronger person, and have helped me understand what’s important, and what I wish to get out of my time here.

For these reasons I happily welcome 30 knowing that I have just lived the past year of my life in an incredibly gifted and unique way, because of the kindness of strangers. Amazing.

Above all, my friends – old, new, and yet to be – I wish to thank you for being you. If you weren’t you I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would not have just spent a year doing what I love simply because you believed in me too. Thank you times a million for being selfless, and supporting this little big dream I had have of traveling the country in search of vegan food.

As I’ve said before – probably even directly to you over a meal – this trip has become so much more than food and travel. For this I am forever grateful to each of you. Truly. Beyond words.

You said one year. Why are you still on the road?

Okay, yes it’s true. I initially intended to to make this trip a one-year journey – and to conclude on my 30th birthday (Oct. 28th). However, I also made a promise to myself that I’d go with the flow, take the journey as it comes, and move with the ever changing pace of this uncharted experience.

As a result I’ve had travel partners come and go, I’ve gotten “stuck” in some locations longer than in others, I took time off to be home with my family when one of my grandfathers passed, I took a friend up on an offer to visit Italy for a vegan festival, I’ve slowed down for Gerty(van) repairs, I’ve spent time with friends, I’ve eaten more than once at some restaurants, I’ve eaten at non-vegan restaurants, I’ve taken days off the road just to write, I slowed down for a week while recovering from an injury… I could go on but my point is, this trip has been unpredictable since day one. And that’s okay. I wasn’t always prepared for the shifts and highs and lows, but I promised myself I’d stick with it no matter what. So here I am, a little over a year in and as long as I have your support I will endeavor to finish this journey, as it was intended and as long as it takes. :) Having said that, I do expect to wrap things up by this spring and am planning an epic end-of-trip party in NYC. Stay tuned, you’re going to want to be there!! ;)

TOP 30 FOR 30

I thought it would be fun to put together a “Top 30” list (more like 10,10, & 10) to celebrate some of THE best road trip experiences of the past year. Keep in mind I have five states left to visit – and haven’t finished NYC yet – so if it seems like there are some potentials missing, that’s probably why. :)

10 Most Memorable Experiences

In the order that they happend…

  • Two weeks in Philadelphia – Philly was one of those places that I had set zero expectations for. I was looking forward to visiting but I didn’t realize just how impactful an experience it would be.  I was going through a particularly challenging life lesson, a lot had changed, and I was adjusting to going it alone for the first time since starting the road trip. Something beautiful happened. I spent a full two weeks completely alone. I didn’t meet up with many folks while there, I did a bit of sight seeing, had a lot of great food, and fell in love with my journey, that city, and a restaurant. Philly effortlessly swept me off my feet. It also doesn’t hurt that this city is home to an all-vegan coffee shop, an all-vegan pizzeria, and what’s still one of my favorite restaurants of all time.
  • Impromptu salsa dancing in a restaurant kitchen – Issa Ostrander, co-owner of Mompops vegan popsicle company, might not have realized what he was about to get himself into when – in the middle of making popsicles – he asked if I like to salsa dance. I will never forget dancing for nearly an hour in the kitchen and parking lot of Issa’s restaurant. Haha! It was a downright unexpected and unforgettable blast. Click here (and scroll down) to read all about it.
  • Volunteering at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary – While traveling through Maryland I had a unique opportunity to spend a day at one of the most beautiful farm animal sanctuaries I’ve ever seen. Thanks to the kind efforts of Ryan MacMichael my friend Chris and I spent a few hours cleaning, shoveling, and loving on the magnificent residents of Poplar Spring. Through talking to Terry Cummings, one of the farm’s co-founders, I felt a profound connection to this farm and it’s wonderful critters. This farm, it’s volunteers, and it’s furry folk have stuck with me throughout the year. I very much look forward to visiting again soon. Click here to see a video collage of my day at the farm.
  • Two weeks in Europe – Upon deciding to attend Italy’s five-day VeganFest, my friend Chris invited me to tag along. Aside from a two-week visit to Turkey a couple of years earlier, this was my first time in Europe. We spent a glorious twelve days exploring both Paris and a few cities in Italy. In Paris we met a kitten on a train, had lunch with Aurelia D’Andrea, discovered THE best Loving Hut, did some sightseeing, met up with one of my grad school friends (Hey, Rach!), found vegan croissants, ate cupcakes atop the Eiffel Tower, did cartwheels at the Louvre, and had the best local vegan cheese, baguette, and chocolate on our flight to Italy. Once collecting our lost luggage in Italy we spent three days exploring VeganFest, enjoyed vegan seitan hotdogs, gelato, and crepes, more sight seeing, had a lovely chat with the owners of Vegan Come Koala, met an awesome vegan Canadian couple who are traveling around the globe, attended a local vegan meetup, saw breathtaking sights in Genoa, had a wonderfully rain soaked tour of Milan by Claudio Marcin Torresi, discovered an all-vegan shoe store, and spent a day in Venice. Phew! It was one of the first times I attempted to write and post a blog every single day. It was a success, in more ways than one, and certainly left an impression. I had an unforgettable time.
  • Love at Deer Run B&B – While traveling through Florida with my friend Eric, we landed a couple of nights at one of the only all-vegan B&Bs in the country. Between the unwavering passion that so clearly radiates from Jennifer and Harry, the owners and managers, the free roaming, wild, protected, Key Deer, the incredible breakfasts, and the gorgeous views, I can hardly imagine staying anywhere else if I’m ever in the Florida Keys again. It’s a must-visit for any vegan traveler, explorer, or vacationer.

From top left: Deer Run B&B, Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Hawaii snorkeling, Notre Dame

  • 300 Vegans 4 Independence Day in Columbus, Ohio’s Doo Dah Parade – One of the coolest events I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of is the Doo Dah Parade in Columbus, OH. Specifically, marching among the 300 Vegans 4 Independence Day group. It was incredible to march with more than one hundred vegans, wearing matching t-shirts, carrying signs, and celebrating post-parade with dinner and drinks at Columbus’ all-vegan bar, Hal & Al’s. Thanks to John Colvin, I was able to prepare for and participate in an event worth traveling for. Held on the 4th of July, this parade and the vegans who march in it, is a must-see/do for anyone looking to add a unique experience to their bucket list. Click here to read more about it.
  • Breathtaking days in South Dakota & Wyoming – I wrote about this rather recently so I won’t go into too much detail about the few days I spent driving through a couple of the most beautiful states in the country. But, in short, seeing the sights that this region of the US has to offer, paired with quality ‘me’ time, made for deeply emotional days that led to much personal growth, reflection, and a deeper understanding of who I am and who I want to become. Little to do with food, this part of the journey became some of the most valuable. <3
  • My mom on the road with me – Sometimes you just need your mom. And the timing of having my mom on the road with me for a week was really quite perfect. In mid-October I picked up my mom at the Missoula International Airport and we spent a week exploring MT, ID, UT, and CO. We had some of the best food I’ve ever had since being on the road, camped out at a few national parks, and met a handful of fellow vegans and restaurant owners that inspired thought provoking conversations. Emotionally, spiritually, and visually, this part of the trip was like nothing else.
  • The woman who handed me $20 – I had one of my first energetically-driven spiritual experiences on this evening. My mom and I had just finished an incredibly delicious raw meal at Omar’s Rawtopia in Salt Lake City with Kristiina and Bryan. On our way out I was waiting to talk to Omar himself, to tell him about my trip and to leave behind a window decal and bumper stickers. A woman, who I believe was waiting for a take-out order, noticed the bumper stickers and asked what they were. I told her the short version of my trip and handed her a sticker. Without any questions she looked at me, looked into me with indescribable intensity, and then looked down into her purse, and pulled out a twenty dollar bill, handed it to me and said that she wished to donate to the journey. She went on to say how how important the trip is and how she truly wishes me all the best. It’s one of those moments that’s hard to explain. Moved beyond words or reason, I’ve never felt more connected and touched by a complete stranger. And so continues the theme of my road trip: most people are good (if not superior) people. I will never forget this woman and her kindness. Truly, deeply moving.
  • Ten days in Hawaii – Venturing again with my international travel buddy, Chris – this was absolutely one of the most spectacular parts of my trip so far. We spent a few days on O’ahu and then on Maui. Thanks to our shared adventure-seeking ways we did a TON of stuff including: submarine diving, impromptu surfing lessons, lots of beach time, attending the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii’s monthly speaker talk and dinner, shark cage diving, touring Leilani Farm Sanctuary, staying at an über veg-friendly B&B, driving the Road to Hana, swimming in the Seven Sacred Pools, zip lining, lots of snorkeling, helicopter touring of Maui, building sand castles, and swimming with wild dolphins! Not to mention all the incredible vegan food we found AND the amazing scenery that is all of Hawaii. So awesome! Between the breathtaking landscape and some of the coolest life experiences of all time, I couldn’t have asked for a better adventure. It’s also likely that I’ll now live there someday.

10 11 Most Memorable Restaurants

It’s getting a little text-heavy up in heeya so I’m breaking things up a bit by moving to a one-liner restaurant list. I’ve already written in great detail about most of these places so please click on the name of the restaurant to read the corresponding blog post, in which I’ve likely gushed over our love affair. (I’ll update this post, and the associated links, as I write about each of the remaining restaurants over the next few weeks).

In order of when I dined there…

From top left: Sprig & Vine, Imagine Vegan Cafe, Chuch, Choice Health Bar, Plant

  • Plant (Asheville, NC)
  • Imagine Vegan Cafe (Memphis, TN)
  • Quan Yin (Houston, TX)
  • Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse (Austin, TX)
  • Omar’s Rawtopia (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Choice Health Bar (Lahaina, HI)

10 14 Most Memorable People

I hadn’t considered individually naming some of you who I’ve met on the road but while thinking about what to write for this post I couldn’t help revisiting some memories and incredibly moving moments that have been created because of each of you.

I’ve met hundreds of you in-person at this point have been deeply moved by nearly everyone. Here are just a few of you who have remained in my thoughts since we last saw each other, and who have given my life and this journey more meaning.

PS – I might have cheated a little by including an extra person… and naming couples as one. ;)

In order of when we met…

    • Ethan Dussault – The very first person to join me on the road, Ethan was a dedicated member of the Will Travel For Vegan Food team for several months. Before even getting on the road Ethan had committed to helping out. In fact, he left his job in Boston and was on the road in a full time capacity until mid-February of 2012. Even though I initially intended to go on this trip by myself – taking on stowaway friends for a week here or there – I welcomed Ethan’s company. He played an integral role in launching the trip as a whole, giving me courage to simply start, and assisting and/or taking the lead on many critical points in preparation and execution of trip details. Though I never would have admitted it out loud, I was clearly nervous about getting started and overwhelmed by everything involved. Thanks to Ethan, my fears were put to rest and the trip launched without a hitch. Read more about the ways in which Ethan contributed to WTFVF by clicking here.
    • Chris Zahka – It’s difficult for me to find the right words to describe Chris because he is just that special. Honestly. I met him over a year ago, just as the Kickstarter fundraiser launched. He got wind of WTFVF through a mutual friend of ours. And after the first dinner that Ethan and I shared with Chris, at Veggie Galaxy in Boston, he has since become one of, if not THE, most invaluable single person to this project. Aside from becoming my go-to international and adventuresome travel buddy, Chris has become a confidant and an honest friend. He is the highest monetary donor of this road trip and over the last few months has begun volunteering his time to help with some web-based WTFVF workings. He created the interactive map on the ‘schedule‘ page of the website and has just recently offered to help plan parts of the end-of-road-trip festivities this spring. Chris has not only done all of these things without asking for anything in return, except the continuation of this project, but he is undoubtedly one of the most selfless and compassionate people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He has given more to others than he has ever taken for himself and over the course of this past year has shown more kindness of character than I thought was possible from a single person. In short, Chris has changed my life. Click here to read about our adventures together.
    • Stage & Johana – This vibrant NYC-based couple were among the first to reach out in support of Will Travel For Vegan Food. When Ethan and I made our way to NYC Stage and Johana reserved a day in which they showed us around the East Village, treated every meal, introduced us to other local vegans, and then met up with us later in the week to treat a magnificent dinner at Pure Food & Wine. So awesome! Johana and Stage are uniquely dynamic, outgoing, and incredibly kind. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen them but I’ve remained in touch with this now-engaged duo, who continue to provide both monetary and emotional support during my travels. Their kindness and support has meant a great deal to me, especially so early on in the trip.
    • Ben Strothmann – You might know him better as vegan drag queen, Miss Honey LaBronx! In addition to being a gay-, vegan-, animal-activist in NYC Ben is also a photographer, actor, and one of the most well-spoken people I’ve met. Combining witty one-liners with thought provoking and moving statements regarding real life issues, Ben is made for show biz.  Ethan had reached out to Ben shortly before we visited NYC last October. As a result we were invited to be a part of one of Ben’s YouTube cooking episodes and we then conducted a two-part interview with Ben for the WTFVF YouTube channel. It was during that interview that I got to know Ben on a deeper level and learned of his unwavering passion for veganism, and his ability to talk about the subject in an incredibly eloquent and impactful manner. I’ve since had the privilege of hanging out with Ben on at least one other occasion and continue to be impressed by his enthusiasm for life. To this day Ben is still one of the first people I think of when asked if anyone has left an impression on me during my travels.
    • Jonathan Mann – I first stumbled upon Mr. Mann’s YouTube channel over a year ago, where I watched him and his beautiful lady, Ivory sing about plants. That was followed by watching a sing-a-long cookie recipe. Once realizing that he’s vegan, and clearly a YouTube rock star, I reached out to him about a collaboration. Within a few days he wrote a WTFVF jingle (which has since become the project’s theme music), and Ethan and I drove to his place to record it all together. It was ridiculously fun, not to mention incredibly nerve wracking since I don’t sing (go, auto-tune!). Jonathan also inspired my fun-a-day project, which some of you might recall from last January – where I danced in a public location every single day, for the entire month of January, wearing earbuds, and Ethan recording it all. That experience alone changed my life too! Click here to read about it. Jonathan is a super inspiring dude whose own fun-a-day project has since led to a career in writing and producing music for others. He inadvertently got me to sing and dance in public, and helped raise even more awareness about WTFVF when it was in its early stages. It’s amazing how much one person can do.
    • Ryan Delano – Last January I had been posting my fun-a-day dance videos to my Facebook page and some of my friends were sharing them. Ryan saw a few of the dance videos via our mutual friend, Jeanette. As a result, Ryan felt compelled to reach out to me and thus began what’s become a great friendship. Ryan’s timing was quite perfect as I was reaching an emotional breaking point, on a personal level, and through his support and introduction into an alternative way of viewing life, I was able to move through that difficult period in a cathartic and educational way, while also completely changing my outlook on the way in which I wish to move through society. Ryan and I have remained in touch over the last year and he continues to be my go-to friend when I have big life questions or am working through some tough, personal growth issues. I credit Ryan with much of the outlook I now carry on how to handle, learn, and grow from everything I experience both in day-to-day life and as whole.

From left: Tanner O’Dell, Jeannie Sloan, Ben Strothmann, Ethan Dussault, Ivory & Jonathan Mann

  • Laurie Sloan –  I felt the chills enwrap my body as Laurie, founder and raw vegan chef at the volunteer-run Thanks Jordan Cafe in Lockport, IL, spoke of her battle with cancer, healing, founding Thanks Jordan with her mother, followed by her mother’s passing of cancer shortly thereafter. This was one of those moments where I lost myself in time and space. I was utterly transfixed on Laurie’s story and her resolve to endeavor through her own illness while helping others. It’s one of those things that’s hard to describe, still brings me to tears to think about, and will forever remain in my thoughts. Sadly, I have yet to write about Laurie’s restaurant, but when I do I will be writing about her story. <3
  • Nicole George – Like so many of you, when this project first launched, Nicole sent me an email offering a place to stay when I arrived in her hometown. What makes my time with Nicole more unique is, the night I arrived at her place I also found out that one of my grandfather’s had taken a turn for the worse. I parked the van on a side street and called Nicole to tell her I arrived. Before I could say much I started sobbing and told her about my grandfather. By the time she met up with me that night I was incredibly down, smelly from not having showered in a few days, and generally a mess. She gave me a motherly hug, set me up in a cozy spare bedroom, I showered and then went to sleep. The next few days were up and down, and then my grandfather passed. The morning that I flew to NY Nicole had packed me snacks for the flight and drove me to the airport. When I returned, she picked me up and told me that her family had taken the van into a mechanic to have the oil changed, along with a few other repairs. Nicole, her boyfriend, and her family were incredibly supportive during a difficult time. It wasn’t just their kindness at this particular period that moved me but their genuine compassion for others. Always positive, outgoing, and on a unique self-designed career path herself, Nicole is a true inspiration. Her immediate generosity blew me away, and her ability to stay connected with those in her life is more than admirable. It’s been several months since I’ve seen Nicole and yet every so often I get a short email or text message reminding me that I’m beautiful, loved, and/or encouraging me to “rock on.” If this is how she treats acquaintances I can only imagine what a joy it is to be a close friend of hers. It’s a gift and honor to know Nicole. I have learned so much by her example.
  • Jeannie Striegel – I met Jeannie while touring Asheville, NC. She is the co-founder and baker of I Heart Veg, an Asheville based vegan bakery and custom cake shop. It was my last day in Asheville when I arrived at the local Tailgate (AKA Farmers’) Market to chat with Jeannie about her business and try some of her goodies. Oooh I can still taste those apple pie tartlets. They were fantastic. But it wasn’t just the quality of Jeannie’s treats that knocked me over, it was also the way she spoke about the love for her business and for life. I remember standing at her booth, bundled up, holding my audio recorder, and nearing tears as she spoke of she and her husband’s love for one another, the journey that brought them to Asheville, the last straw that led them to start this bakery, and how they’ve fallen madly for Asheville and its community. I left that day feel re-inspired, blessed to have met Jeannie, and with a full belly. Click here (and scroll down) to read my interview with Jeannie.
  • Jennifer & Thomas – A vegan couple from Germany, Jennifer and Thomas now reside in Miami, Florida in one of the most beautiful vacation rental/apartments in the city. Jennifer had reached out to me about grabbing a bite to eat when I got to Miami. By the time I was headed that way she had also worked with her landlord to hook me up with my very own studio apartment for an entire week – rent free! This small housing complex is absolutely stunning and only a few blocks from a non-touristy part of Miami Beach. During my stay I went on a dog walk with these two, went out to eat, hung out at their apartment a few times, and even took an exercise class with Jennifer, who moonlights as a fitness instructor. The three of us connected quickly and have remained in touch since. They’re a pair of the nicest Germans I’ve ever met ;) and am so grateful for their friendship and generosity, enabling a stress-free stay in a busy city. Read more about my stay, here.
  • Jennifer DeMaria – This woman inspires me. I think in a different lifetime we were related. :) Jennifer is the co-owner of Deer run B&B in Big Pine Key, FL and is one of the most driven women I’ve ever met. She has created a sanctuary for vegans and non-vegans alike, runs her business Like A Boss, has a wonderful sense of humor, is deeply passionate, and makes her B&B guests feel like they’re visiting family, with a warm environment and some of the best homemade vegan breakfasts you’ll ever have. I won’t go into all the small things that make me adore this brilliant lady, because I wrote about much of it already. :) Click here to read 1/3 blog posts where I gush over my love of Jennifer’s B&B and the incredible life that she and her partner Harry share in Big Pine Key.
  • Tanner O’Dell – Tanner is unlike any other eighteen year old you’ll ever meet. For the time being Tanner chose to jump over college and go right to culinary school while also nurturing his enthusiasm for radio broadcasting and networking. I met Tanner in Austin, TX through one of his cooking teachers, the incredible Inge Bothma. Since then Tanner hooked me up with two radio interviews and connected me with a number of veg restaurant owners. When talking to him I forget that he’s only eighteen. Tanner is incredibly well spoken, outgoing, passionate, driven, and focuses on making connections and doing what he loves. With the foresight of someone whose already lived a lifetime, I have no doubt that we’re going to see this young star on TV in the near future. In fact, I recently wrote nearly half a blog post about why Tanner O’Dell is going to be famous. You can read it by clicking here.

Of course, I’ve met so many wonderful people on this journey that it was incredibly difficult to select only a few. Many of you have become close friends that I talk to regularly, travel with, share business ideas with, talk about life and love with, and everything in between. I feel incredibly honored and humbled to know each of you and to have the gift of your friendship in return. The fact that you’ve supported this project, in any capacity, is incredible to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. <3

Dare I say that this has been THE best year of my life? Perhaps. But I’m also confident it’ll just keep getting better in rich and different ways from this past year. I do have a confession to make though….

…Did you REALLY think that I could only select 10 of more than 350 restaurants in this post?! PsHh. ;) You all know I love food. I love good food. But I also love great customer service, I take note of the ambiance and vibe of each place, and of course I’m stickler for excellent social media management. Here are forty-five  MORE restaurants/cafes/food trucks/bakeries that have lit my fire in one way, or many. :)

Listed randomly…

45 (MORE) Memorable Eateries

From top left: Christopher’s Kitchen, Fern, Strong Hearts Cafe, Cafe 118, SouperGirl

Diners, Bakeries, Specialty, & Food Trucks

From left: Borrowed Earth Cafe, Mac’n Food Truck, Cakewalk Bakery, Sweet Tooth Bakery, Grindcore House

  • Pattycake Bakery (Columbus, OH)
  • Glow Live Foods (Ketchum, ID)
  • Chicago Diner (Chicago, IL)
  • Spiral Diner (Ft. Worth & Dallas, TX)
  • Capital City Bakery (Austin, TX)
  • Vegan Nom (Austin, TX)
  • The Vegan Yacht (Austin, TX)
  • Vertical Diner (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • City Cakes (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Cakewalk Bakery (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffeehouse (Kansas City, MO)
  • The Lunch Room (Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Sweet Tooth Bakery (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Ronald’s Doughnuts (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Nami (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Vegan Sweet Tooth (Cleveland, OH)

What’s Next?!

Some of you might have noticed that I’m back in Texas right now. I was planning to fly out here this coming weekend to judge the 24th Annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off in Austin. While the chili cook-off is still a go (see some of you there Sunday?!) I chose to come to Texas a bit early and stay through Thanksgiving.

I realized something while I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago – that I needed a reboot. I’ve been on the road non-stop since September of last year. As I’ve said repeatedly, it’s been an incredible year. But it’s also been physically and mentally exhausting. All of the writing, driving, eating, editing, social media posting, email responding, meet-up planning, and everything in between keeps me going for sometimes more than fourteen hours a day. In addition to the general stresses that come with sleeping in a new place almost every night. This IS what I signed up for, and I’ve embraced these tasks as such. Honestly, I really do enjoy every aspect of what I do for Will Travel For Vegan Food. But my body can’t always keep up with my busy to-do list.

October was a whirlwind with my mom on the road for a week (actually, her leaving was the stressful part), then galavanting through Hawaii on a moments notice, and then rushing through two states, accidentally missing a few restaurants, and skipping the Grand Canyon so that I could make it to Vegas in time for my 30th birthday. By the end of October my body felt heavy and tired, and on the day of my birthday I realized that, at that moment in time, I just really wanted to be with my friends and family. Then I took a peek at the list of restaurants coming up and saw 134 all-vegan joints in California alone. Eesh! I felt downright overwhelmed.

Therefore, after consulting with a few friends, I decided to spend the month of November catching up on writing, relaxing a little, maybe doing some cooking (in a real kitchen!), being with friends, and staying in just one place. I’m kind of excited to participate in some fall activities like raking leaves and baking apple pie. I actually did rake up some leaves the other day. They’re still in a pile on my friend’s front lawn. Teehee! :)

Anywayzies, that’s where I’m at right now. My van is safely hanging out with some friends in southern California and I’ll head back to Cali at the end of November/early December refreshed and ready to start the final leg of my trip. Wooooo!!!!!

As always, thank you all for following along. You make this trip possible. Each of you.

Much love and gratitude,

“I see my path but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia De Castro







  1. Great recap so far! It’s been fun following your travels. See ya Sunday!

    • Thanks so much, Jessica! :)

  2. bitt

    Wishing you the happiest of birthdays! And many many more. I love reading this list of appreciations. I wanted to take a minute to appreciate you for writing this. I have been following your blog from the start and it’s meant more to me than you could know. This year has been incredibly difficult for me and I’ve been housebound a lot due to sickness. Reading about all your adventures has really given me so much to look forward to and hope to get better. I appreciate that you write from a humble place, often I get envious of people who travel a lot, but with you I can feel so much appreciation of the gifts you’ve been given and I feel you take the time to savor the experience, not just do it to write about it or take pictures. It’s something special in the blog world. I really hope you continue to take us along with you on this trip. It’s been so fun for me to read. I am glad you are taking time off a little to rest and eat apple pie. Wish I could have given you a slice of a pie I made a few days ago.

    • Bitt – Thank you so much! I so appreciate you following along this whole year and for sharing some of your story with me. I am so, so glad that my journey has helped you in any way. And by knowing this, you’ve helped me too. :) Perhaps you’ll be able to join the end of trip party in NYC this spring. It would be great to see you! :) xo

  3. tissue please – luv ya

  4. Lynn Rampacek

    You have done an amazing thing, and to have it overlap onto your 30th year in life, even better…
    and a great lesson, too- no need to squish everything into a rigid timeframe (all in one year!), just go with the flow and do your best!

    Happy birthday! …and so glad we were a part of your trip- have been reading along the whole time, and sending customers to the blog so they can learn about new places and great new restaurants to try out.

    Yay! Thanks for the giant post! Have a restful, rejuvenating November :)

    • Hi Lynn! Thanks so much for your continued support. :) I honestly do still dream of the meal that Ethan and I shared at Eden and have been fantasizing about spending a few months in Maine during my post-trip detox period. Perhaps I’ll find a little place within walking distance from your restaurant so that I can eat there every day! ;)

      Thanks again for the well wishes! xo

  5. Tommy

    Aw, I wish I could have been on the other side of that camera on your birthday. Thank you for the amazing amount of inspiration, and for the reminder that life is what you make of it. Here’s to being our true selves, and to making our dreams into reality! Hope to see you in NYC (if not sooner).

    X’s, O’s, and all that lovey stuff,
    <3 T

  6. Ryleigh

    So inspiring Kristin. Thanks for delighting us with your presence in Austin! And thanks for being a judge at the chili cook-off! Best of luck in your up coming vegan adventures!!! And happy 30!

    • Thank you so much, Ryleigh!!! :)

  7. SaraMM

    I first discovered your blog through a sticker on the Three Brothers Pizza door in NY (great advertising idea by the way). I love this recap. Plant in Asheville is my favorite spot in the world for both the food and memories. I hope you’re getting an amazing book deal because I want your road map and suggestions to carry with me when I’m ready to take such a huge travel plunge! You have already done the work for me to have an amazing experience :). Even a coffee table style book with images from all of these amazing places like the Florida Keys B&B would be incredible to have. Thank you for all of this inspiration.

    • Hi Sara,

      Thank you so, so much for the kind words; and I’m thrilled you noticed the sticker at Three Brothers! :) I would love to get a book deal but even if I don’t you can count on *some* kind of written overview of the trip. I have a few variations in mind. But they are just ideas for the time being.

      Thanks again for your support and for following along!! :) xo

  8. Love this! What a great recap so far! Any rough idea on the timing of the NYC end-of-trip bash? I will be in NYC in February for a week and that would be the coolest if it happened to overlap! If not, I may have to come back for it :)

    • Thanks, Sarah!! :) I think it might be closer to April or May. I’ll definitely be posting all over the place once I nail down the date(s). ;) xo

  9. Kristin! Thank you. I”m beyond touched. Since you were in Asheville, we relocated to Charlotte. We don’t have a kitchen yet, so we are in transition with the business, but we are determined to keep the vegan fire spreading. :) Sometimes our journey takes us to a destination we hadn’t planned (usually because my SatNav hasn’t been updated), and if we embrace the detour, we fully live the journey.

    You’ve done an amazing job this year. You’ve highlighted so many wonderful vegan eateries and people. Compassion begets compassion.

    Please read the following we wrote for you

    You know we heart you. <3
    Jeannie & Loren Striegel

    • Hi Jeannie! Thank you so much for this kind note. And thank you, thank you, thank you for your incredible article covering my visit to Asheville and sharing my road trip with your readers. I don’t think anyone has written about my journey in such a way, as you did to bring me to tears. Thank you so much!! I do hope that Charlotte treats you well and please keep me in the loop on your future business endeavors. I’m happy to spread the word and help out in whatever way(s) possible. Love and Gratitude – Kristin

  10. ariela

    382 restaurants! so jealous! this was a fun read :) excited to see you when you’re back in nyc! i think i’m going to vedge for the first time next weekend!

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