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Gothic BC fashion! Greater Vancouver Zoo tour: feeding red pandas, bears & hippos. Brentwood Mall rainbow sky bridge.

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Life has been more colorful lately in Vancouver, BC. I’ve been emerging from my lockdown dungeon, and safely reuniting with close friends (while still wearing my mask).

Let’s do a round-up of recent Vancouver Goth escapades, including snaps from this new Rainbow Sky Bridge (Amazing Brentwood Mall’s Instagrammable spot). We’ll also visit the adorable animals of the Greater Vancouver Zoo. I’ll end with some recent writing / hosting work and podcasts — including a feature about The Satanic Chef!

amazing brentwood mall burnaby rainbow bridge

I popped into Burnaby’s Brentwood Mall, which has a new pedestrian Rainbow Skybridge. When the sunlight hits the colored panes, they glow and emanate onto the bridge’s floor and ceiling. (The shopping center also has a new dining court and other renovated areas.)

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It felt right to dress like a Goth alien to take some snaps. I’m wearing a women’s fitted t-shirt from The Satanic Temple shop; it’s a short sleeved “I am a Friend of Satan” tee designed by Lucien Greaves, in Royal Blue.

My mini backpack is Cyberdog, sunglasses Pugnale Eyewear, mask Lemonwood Luxury, maxi skirt is vintage from Burcu’s Angels boutique in Vancouver BC.

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The Amazing Brentwood Rainbow Skybridge is one of the six eye-catching “Aura” art installations in the shopping centre, designed by Canadian artist Elyse Dodge.

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Closeup on my Satan-friendly shirt. The Satanic Temple store has Hail Pride clothing, homewares, books, and other memorabilia as well, with funds going to their campaigns.

feed red pandas interaction greater vancouver zoo langley

I’ve been making furry new friends this summer… I took a special tour of the Greater Vancouver Zoo, which includes interactive experiences with the resident animals, like this kawaii red panda.

feed hippos vancouver zoo private tour

Anyone can book an interactive tour at the GVZoo, which is located about 45 minutes to an hour from Vancouver, in Langley BC. My friends and I also got to feed the hungry, hungry hippos…

bear statue vancouver bc zoo

… and hang with two types of fuzzy bears. (But not as closely as this, of course.)

OOTD: Black Inca Noir sun hat Lack of Color, sleeves Sleevey Wonders, Goth striped top Forest Ink, skirt Charli Cohen.

interact with red panda feed pandas zoo

In addition to regular admission tickets, The Greater Vancouver Zoo offers private behind the scenes interactions with several animal species, which you can choose when you book in advance. My friends and I were delighted to come face-to-face with the red pandas!

red panda eating bamboo cute

Red pandas are native to Burma and China. This little guy chomped away on bamboo; that’s what they mostly eat, as well as some protein sources.

feeding red pandas experience animal encounters

As you can see, red pandas are polite and friendly… and adore eating sweet figs on a stick! What a treat to feed them by hand, and be right up close with their cute snouts.

smiling happy face red panda

I love how red pandas always look happy. (They’re not actually related to panda bears, but belong to their own classification; they’re an ancient species similar to skunks, raccoons and weasels.)

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The Sanrio character Aggretsuko is based on a red panda. (Fortunately, this one didn’t erupt into a heavy metal rage.)

red panda eating food fruit on stick

Red pandas have curved, retractable claws and a thumb-like bone that help them get a good grip on snacks. Aren’t they the sweetest?

hippo rising out of pond water

We enjoyed speaking to the zoo staff, and learning about how they care for the animals and work on conservation projects. At this pond, we held up apple slices, and a hippopotamus slowly started to come out of the water.

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Hippos spend most of their time submerged in water, but this one came up to us and opened his mouth, ready for a meal.

hippopotamus eating melon watermelon hippo chewing

The other hippo got a frozen watermelon to help him cool down from the heat. He played with it, then chomped it between his strong jaws.

feed hippos apples hippopotamus feeding zoo

Ready, aim, and throw apples right into the hippo’s gaping mouth!

hippo big wide open mouth

The hippopotamus kept his jaw wide open, in a bid for more fruit. (These are the third largest land mammals, after elephants and rhinos.)

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Onward to meet the grizzly bears, who are orphaned rescues. Like all the animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, they live in enormous natural environments.

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We threw corn over the fence, and the bears stood up on their hind paws to try to catch them!

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We also met three black bear siblings. These bears were rescued from Alaska after they lost their mother; they wouldn’t have survived in the wild on their own.

feed black bears honey on stick

It’s true: like Winnie-the-Pooh, bears do love honey. We dipped a wooden stick into a jar of sticky honey, and let them lick it through the fence.

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Don’t overlook the smaller animals at Vancouver’s Zoo. A zookeeper showed us a Madagascar hissing cockroach, and let it run over our hands (and Rob’s P-cross / The Process tattoo).

ball python snake pattern holding snakes

“He’s a cold-hearted snake / Look into his eyes, uh-oh.” We petted the ball python, which was curled up tight to preserve heat.

ostrich greater vancouver zoo animals review

There were too many animals at Vancouver’s zoo to photograph for you — including giraffes, elk, tigers, cheetahs, ostriches… See the full list here.

vancouver zoos reviews mara lynx

We had never seen a Patagonian Mara before — it’s the second largest species in the rodent family, and can run at high speeds. The northern lynx was a sweetheart; when we called her name, she came up to the fence with her ears twitching.

vancouver jurassic park dino dinosaur statues

The Greater Vancouver Zoo also has a new dino park, with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs.

t rex statue vancouver animatronic dinosaurs park

The T rex moves his head and jaws, making us feel as if were in Jurassic Park.

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The Greater Vancouver Zoo is certified globally, and is dedicated to education and conservation — they’re constantly improving the facilities for the animals, and have a safari-style park in the works. I’m looking forward to returning and seeing these new additions.

Outfit details: Black Inca Noir bucket hat Lack of Color, sleeves Sleevey Wonders, black and white striped top Forest Ink, skirt Charli Cohen.

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Let’s wrap up with some outfit features, which I’ve been sharing on Instagram (@lacarmina).

How fab are these Kubrick cat-themed tank top and leggings? They’re by Close to Human Clothing, a fashion partnership between musician Daniel Graves of Aesthetic Perfection and designer Sam P.

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The apparel line is a love letter to pop culture and cats. Close to Human offers shirts, stickers and more for men and women, in all sizes.

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The tank top is a clever, catty take on Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” film poster (the movie is a personal favorite). Put your paws on “Stanley Mewbrick’s Catwork Orange” and look real horrorshow! Find this and more on Close to Human.

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Speaking of cats and other creatures… Here’s a look at some of the cards from The Devil’s Deck, a new Satanic ritual / oracle card deck by Shiva Honey! 

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Shiva also sells Satanic clothing, like this Pride crop top from the Queer Magick, on her Serpentinae website.

the devil's deck satanic tarot cards shiva honey

The Devil’s Deck is a work of art. Gilded in gold, this 30 card ritual deck is a companion to Shiva Honey’s The Devil’s Tome. The beautiful quality cards are illustrated by Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves, artist Alexander Corey, and Shiva.

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The Devil’s Deck is a wonderful tool for contemplation. Each represents a Satanic ritual or act of introspection (such as Solo Ritual, Forgiveness, Justice), with an accompanying booklet to help interpret the meaning.

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The Devil’s Deck differs from the standard tarot: it has 17 Ceremony cards and 13 Illumination cards. (Here’s a selection of the art by Lucien Greaves.)

the devil's tome shiva honey book rituals

The deck is designed to be used in conjunction with Shiva Honey’s The Devil’s Tome, which describes the full Satanic rituals for personal empowerment.

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You can find Shiva’s devilish deck, tome, clothing line and more on her Serpentinae website.

rosemary's baby hail satan book satanic novel

If you need some Satanic Summer Reading List suggestions, I’ve got your back. I was delighted to take part in a special episode of “Hexed Texts” for The Satanic Temple TV. On this show, TSTTV hosts (including yours truly) recommend their favorite devilish books. I’m at 15:00 hailing “Rosemary’s Baby” by Ira Levin; the Mia Farrow film also rocks!

Watch our program here; it also features Dr John Skutlin, Lucien Greaves, Stu de Haan, Chalice Blythe, Citlati Soona, Stephen Bradford Long, Lilith Starr, Hadrian Flyte and more.

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I leave you with some bonus outfit snaps — it’s nice to be out and about again! This floral phone booth was part of downtown Vancouver’s Fleurs de Villes public art installation. My emo romance top is by Forest Ink; it says “I’ll find you again wherever we end up next.” My choker is Frame Chain.

flower pyramid public installation fleurs de villes downtown vancouver

Bury me in a pyramid of flowers… Rainbow skirt by Cyberdog, sleeves by Sleevey Wonders.

Rose Briccetti art exhibit leimin space leiminspace la gallery collage

A head’s up: If you’re in Los Angeles, you can find my photo on the wall of LA art gallery Leiminspace! Artist Rose Briccetti is having a solo exhibit there, and she included my cut-out from Millie Magazine in her wall collage.

the satanic chef adam dodge ostrofsky satan temple restaurant cook

I’m also delighted to share my profile of The Satanic Chef, Adam Ostrofsky – it’s published on Fodor’s Travel! Read my article about how a Bible-burning chef uses food events at The Satanic Temple to champion outsiders, and push back against Satanic Panic and injustice.

An excerpt of my writing: “He begins each episode (…) by burning The Holy Bible. Sometimes, he’ll tear out pages and fling them into the flames of his wok. If he’s feeling particularly devilish, the chef might dice up scorched verses with his TST membership card, and snort them up his nose.”

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And I was interviewed for the debut podcast episode of “Human Dreaming” by Britt Sheflin. She writes, “Join me as I discuss lucid dreaming, secular Buddhist dream practices, travel through dreams, and more with La Carmina.” You can find this podcast interview here as well as on Apple, Spotify and more.

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Somehow, I survived the insane Vancouver heatwave in mid-June…. and have more travels on the way. Here’s to making the most of summer 2021!

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The Laylow Hotel Honolulu review: Mid-century modern Hawaii design! Kaka’ako murals, The Bishop Museum art.

The Laylow, Autograph Collection waikiki hawaii hotel room

If the tropical leaves and ukulele didn’t give it away… surprise, I’ve been hanging out in Honolulu, Hawaii!

After over a year at home in Canada, I jumped on the chance to be on the paradise island of Oahu.

In Part 1 of my Hawaiian diary, you’ll see how I fit right in at The Laylow, a mid-century modern design hotel by Waikiki beach.

Fort DeRussy Beach Park sunset honolulu

Still dreaming of this sunset… the fashionable Laylow hotel was walking distance from poke cafes and picture-perfect beaches, like Fort DeRussy Beach (above).

Kakaako district street art tour murals

Since we’re taking a look at Hawaiian contemporary design, I’ll also show you the flamboyant murals of Kakaʻako, and a street art exhibit at the Bishop Museum. (Quite a few have a Gothic and kawaii influence, which isn’t a surprise as there is a substantial Japanese population in Honolulu.)

The Laylow hotel is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, a group of unique design properties. My hotel room was made for photography, with statement wallpaper, a colorful midcentury sofa, and a ukulele to strum. (The little guitar-like musical instrument was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese, where it took off.)

(My long bat print Goth dress is by Sourpuss Clothing.)

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Each of the 251 rooms is filled with retro-tropical touches. All guests receive this Lay Low surfer rubber ducky in a gift basket, as a memento to take home. The shelves contain nostalgic books about surf culture, art, and more. (I was fascinated by the an architecture book about Vladimir Ossipoff, Hawaii’s most renowned mid-century modern architect whose buildings were inspired by his childhood in Japan.)

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I loved “laying low” in my cozy and spacious room, which had a vintage Hawaii color scheme and design accents.

space futuristic round bathroom mirror lights

Snuggling up in this white robe, which every guest can find in the closet. With its round illuminated mirror, the futuristic Laylow bathroom looks like something out of 2001 A Space Odyssey.

laylow hotel room interior single bed suite balcony

In addition, every stylish room has a private lanai, or curved balcony.

You may recall that my own apartment decor is inspired my mid-century modernism — it’s one of my favorite design styles. The Laylow’s custom and refurbished vintage MCM furniture includes a pin-leg lounge chair and curving table reminiscent of a surfboard.

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Everyone who checks in receives a generous “E Komo Mai Basket” of goodies to use and take home as souvenirs. These include Laylow branded flip flops in two sizes, water bottles, snacks, a cute rubber duck and a sanitization kit.

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Be sure to take a photo with The Laylow’s signature monstera leaf wallpaper, which was inspired by vintage bark cloth patterns.

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The cheerful kitsch extends to the hotel’s common areas. Behind the check-in counter, you’ll find classic hula dancer figurines swaying their hips and strumming ukuleles.

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The Laylow maintains the 1950s/60s vibe with its outdoor saltwater pool framed by foliage. I’m all about the egg chairs and retro bullet planters (I have one myself).

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The Laylow boutique hotel opened in 2017, so everything is brand new — while retaining the sprit of the 1960s-era hotel that it replaced.

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And did I mention the location, location, location? I only had to walk for a few minutes to be at Waikiki Beach! (With all my sun protection, of course.)

waikiki beach water ocean swimming fish

After the past year and more… I couldn’t believe I was in sunny Honolulu, wading in the clear waters and saying hello to the schools of fish that darted about.

honolulu waikiki beach rocks ocean

A moment of Zen, watching the waves roll over the rocks at Waikiki. (Thankfully, I managed not to drop my phone in the ocean…)

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If you’re a sportier type than me, you can take part in water activities like surfboard yoga, paddle-boarding, and sailing. (These bright surfboards lined the walkway to the water.)

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The Laylow is located at 2299 Kuhio Avenue, right by International Marketplace and major Waikiki shops/restaurants. Take the long escalator down to the street level, and everything is right at hand — including multiple ABC Stores, the infamous Hawaiian “conbini”!

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The hotel also has a stylish dining space: Hideout at The Laylow. The restaurant that serves modern Hawaiian cuisine with ingredients from the ocean and local farms.

the hideout honolulu cocktails food menu

With outdoor seating and a sandy floor area, Hideout felt like beachside dining. Come for happy hour to try the signature mai tai made with local rum, pineapple, and lilikoi (a fruit similar to the passionfruit).

hawaiian food hideout ceviche poke

The Hideout menu includes poke bowls (I chose ahi tuna, and it came with kimchi and an egg on top). Fresh fish is always a good idea when you’re in Hawaii, and the kampachi ceviche with calamansi hit the spot.

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The seared ahi tuna sandwich has a Japanese touch. It’s coated with bubu arare, tiny glutinous rice pops originating from Kyoto.

laylow hotel balcony sunset hawaii

Later, you can grab a bottled cocktail from the ABC Store, and sit on your Laylow private balcony to take in the sunset.

bishop museum castle memorial building

I was inspired to see more of Hawaii’s art — past and present — at the Bishop Museum. Founded 1889, the Bishop is the state’s largest museum and has the world’s largest collection dedicated to the history, culture, and environment of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

POW! WOW! Jasper Wong rabbit bunny Bishop Museum

The Castle Memorial Building held a special art show: “POW! WOW! The First Decade: From Hawaiʻi to the World.” The vibrant exhibition showcases some of the most notable local and international street artists, whose works include a big-eyed inflatable bunny.

bishop museum street art murals installations

This exhibit was curated by Jasper Wong, the founder of POW! WOW! (a nonprofit that brings contemporary artists together to enrich neighborhoods with art). The Bishop featured over 160 artists, with 30 creating new murals and installations.

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I walked into what looked like an urban street corner, covered in decals and graffiti tags.

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The creative works included a modified old-school Mortal Kombat arcade game. I spotted a Stop Asian Hate Crimes poster by Lauren YS.

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The devil is always lurking about, wherever I go…

winnie pooh sculpture bishop museum honolulu hawaii

The Bishop’s gallery space included over 120 new 2’x2’ paintings. In the foreground, Winnie is squatting and straining, and living up to his “pooh” name…

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The kinetic artwork drew my attention. The “”good” and “bad” ideas sway left and right into the empty heads.

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The show brought together contemporary creative expression with traditional and indigenous perspectives.

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Leave it to me to find some cute pastel monsters. Designer and illustrator Kevin Lyons is known for these funky characters.

honolulu natural history bishop museum whale

The Bishop has many other exhibits, as well as a museum of science and nature. Be sure to wander in the impressive Hawaiian Hall, guarded by a 55 foot long sperm whale. It houses thousands of fascinating artifacts about the royal family and Polynesian cultures.

weird hawaiian ancient art sculptures figures

On the first floor, I learned about ancient Hawaiian gods and legends, which are expressed through haunting stone carvings. (They reminded me of my time on Easter Island.)

hawaii tribal native sculptures totems

A few of the many fascinating totems by Pacific Island tribes. Thank you to The Bishop Museum for letting me discover Hawai‘i’s history and living culture.

diamond head volcano lookout viewpoint view

Even for a sun-phobic Goth, spending outdoors is a must in Hawaii. At Diamond Head beach park, you can walk up to a lookout point for this view, or hike up to the summit of the volcanic crater.

honolulu roosters diamond head chickens

You’ll come across hens and roosters roaming about the park. The birds first arrived on the island through Polynesian voyagers in 300 AD, and have stuck around.

Kakaako Waterfront Park ocean rocks

There are endless spots on Oahu to see the waves – this is Kakaʻako Waterfront Park. I would have driven to the North Shore and Japanese temples, had there not been a rental car shortage…. (Something to be aware of when you plan your trip.)

cute kawaii graffiti rainbow colorful Kakaako

Honolulu’s Kakaʻako district has been revitalized with urban street art. I encourage you to come here to see the impressive large-scale works, such as “Aloha Monsters” by Kevin Lyons.

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Most of these were part of POW! WOW!, the festival that brings local and global artists to the neighborhood to paint public murals. 

gorilla street art wall murals Kakaako

Kakaʻako isn’t too far from Waikiki, so you can Uber or Lyft here easily. Set your location to the “Fisher Hawaii” office supply store, and you’ll find tons of murals in the surrounding streets.

gundam robot rabbits Kaka'ako artists

Quite a few had Japanese manga aesthetics. Here’s a gundam robot fist and hopping bunnies.

hawaii Kaka'ako public art festival

I dug this eccentric take on tiki statues.

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Spend some time walking around Kakaako, then end up at the hip Salt retail center for an iced tea.

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Tokidoki is easy to recognize. Note how the palm trees look like skulls and animals, and a dinosaur is chomping on one!

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Quite a few murals had a Goth or spooky theme, such as this skeleton diver.

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And the devil is always near.

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Not surprising to see cuteness like this in Hawaii, as it has one of the world’s largest Japanese communities.

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Waikiki has plenty of great Japanese food options as well as poke, the native Hawaiian dish of diced raw fish. I had this generous selection of spicy salmon and marinated tuna at The Poke Bar, near my hotel. (And I stumbled upon Satan on my walk there.)

musubi waikiki shop japanese rice balls onigiri

Hawaiians also invented spam musubi, or fried canned ham placed on a rice ball and secured with a strip of nori seaweed. (I’m not a fan, but I loved the wide selection of bento boxes and onigiri.)

Mitsuwa Marketplace Hawaii Waikiki japanese grocery store

Stop by Mitsuwa Marketplace to pick up snacks, or to-go dishes like a salmon roe chirashi. And PSA: Honolulu has Coco Ichiban, my favorite Japanese curry chain… Of course, I went out of my way to get my Coco Ichi fix!

waikiki beach diamond head volcano mountain view

After the year and plus we’ve had, it was a dream come true to be in Honolulu. I’ll miss meandering from my hotel to Fort DeRussy Beach, which has this view of Diamond Head volcano.

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Come back to the beach at nightfall, and walk up the jetty pier to see the sunset over the ocean waves.

The Laylow design art hotel honolulu hotels

I have more to share with you from the Aloha State — stay tuned for part two of my dispatches. Thank you to The Laylow for the happy memories here.

airplane wing sunset clouds window flight landing

I leave you with a view from the wing — I’ve missed this! Please stay safe this summer.

Will you be flying somewhere soon, or do you have any road trips or local getaways planned?

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