On the Run
I’ve always wanted to embark upon a road trip to see parts of the U.S. I’ve never seen. This desire has grown stronger in the past handful of years, and there were a couple of times I almost made it happen, but didn’t… until last month.
A few weeks ago Andrew and I said yes to the opportunity to drive up the East Coast to be part of an intimate wedding gathering of a dear friend who lives in Brooklyn, explore uncharted terrain together, and share an extended uninterrupted time of connection within a drastically different environment. One abundant in crisp air and fiery fall foliage. One far away from the humidity and wear of Florida. One that we could only hope would reawaken inspiration within us, serve as a perspective check, and help us bring some skin back into our game (so to speak).
Some might think driving from Florida to NYC is crazy, but we both agreed it sounded like a brilliant idea and due to recent changes on my end, we had enough wiggle rooms in our October schedules to be able to follow through and make it happen. We’re boldly calling our October road trip the best trip we’ve ever taken.
From start to finish, it was a trip rich in experience. We spent far more time basking in being and observing than we did doing or documenting. Truly, I could write a novel about our journey and how significant it was, and remains, to our individual spirits and our shared story, but I’ll save that for another time, and perhaps even another outlet.
For now, here is my attempt at delivering something of value — a sampling of sights and tastes for the sharing. If you find yourself in the cities we visited, I highly recommend the experiences and eateries mentioned here.
Things tend to fall to pieces before they come together. Then suddenly, the growing pains sprout new blooms.
My life has been and remains a testament to this cycle, and probably will be as long as I live, or at least, as long as I continue to challenge my own existence.
At the beginning of June, I turned 28, officially accepted a job offer, and began to feel at home in St. Augustine.
I think everyone who moves somewhere that isn’t their home and embarks upon an entirely new existence, goes through times when they love their surroundings, and times when they want to get the hell out and retreat, regardless of how things are going on the surface.
Happily, after ten months of feeling constantly back and forth, I can wholeheartedly say I’ve reached a breakthrough point. I still miss my family every damn day, but I am consistently feeling at home and at peace here in St. Augustine, more than I feel when I do return to my home town. This has resulted in a huge turning point for my pysche.
“The proverbial fork in the road suddenly slapped me in the face. In front of me, in the distance, my current life—once defined by a comfortable job, a comfortable apartment, and a comfortable relationship—and that of a new path filled with unknown adventure, storybook romance, and full-time travel. There was no question; with absolutely every ounce of all I was and all I had been moving toward, the choice was epically clear.” — Kristin Lajeunesse, Chapter 1, “Will Travel For Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, & Make Love”
This bold choice Kristin made to take the road less traveled, turned into two years of van-dwelling life spent on the road in search of vegan food, figuring out life and love along the way.
Now, Kristin has turned these experiences into a memoir. “Will Travel For Vegan Food” [The Book] was officially released Thursday, April 23.
Kristin’s compassion for life, passion for adventure, and dedication to live out an authentic existence, resonate from every single page. “Will Travel For Vegan Food” is a must read for anyone with a wanderlust-filled spirit, who favors abundant experiences to material possessions.
This official book trailer captures the heart and the energy of Kristin, and her journey—a journey that spans miles beyond the food itself.
Kristin has inspired me from the beginning of my own vegan journey. While embarking upon various travel explorations, I’ve referenced her website numerous times for ideas of eateries to try. Since the launch of Vegan on the Run last year and throughout the entirety of Kristin’s book writing process, I’ve followed along with her journey even more closely.
The following Q&A with Kristin delves into the experience, the impact, the food, and the travel, that are all part of “Will Travel For Vegan Food.”
If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago what my spring training and race plan looked like, I would have told you that it looked like training heavily, in preparation to return to Nashville for the St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon, this time to run the half marathon. I would have told you that this was exactly what I needed to do for me, for my running, for my season, for my support of the race series, and most of all, for the nostalgic, sentimental part of me that longed to return and celebrate the one year anniversary of my first ever full marathon, alongside friends I love and miss. I would have told you I was sure about all of this.
The problem with this response is that my answer was all about “me,” and not at all about “we.”
At various points of my life, I’ve felt like I was the most independent person I knew (and this very well might have been true). I’ve proved to myself I can do anything alone.
For years, I’ve strategically worn my independent spirit as a strength. Deep down, in a lot of ways, my tenacious efforts to be as independent as possible, have underneath the surface, always been a defense mechanism of sorts. They have always been tied to a resistance within my heart. A resistance toward being completely vulnerable with anyone—until Andrew.
Andrew has shown me that although I am totally capable of existing as a “me,” there’s something incredible about choosing to sacrifice a part of your own self-interest to exist as a “we,” when it is loud and clear that someone else was made for you. In the case of Andrew, it’s been loud and clear from day one, even when I wasn’t ready to hear it.
Last year while I ran the full marathon, Andrew tracked me every single step of my run—all five hours. He shipped me popsicles and an art piece in the form of a card as a congratulatory treat for after the race. He wasn’t even my boyfriend at that point, yet he was already believing in my every step.
It’s my birthday! Well, sort of. Today Vegan on the Run turns one.
This photo was taken a year ago by my mom, just before launching VOTR.
When we approach a landmark anniversary or milestone of any kind, we tend to look back, be it to pat ourselves on the back over where we’ve come from, or to be hard on ourselves for what we haven’t accomplished by now. While looking back for a moment can be healthy in offering perspective, if we lose ourselves in the rearview, we risk stalling out. We lose our sense of motion. This is something I struggle with.
As Vegan on the Run celebrates its birthday today, I’m overriding my natural instinct to look back, and instead, stare straight ahead, not to the distant future, but to the immediate present.
Here’s me at the present (well, close enough). This photo was taken by Andrew a few weeks ago at the Farmers Market.
In my personal life, I’m constantly learning how to do life together with Andrew, in a partnership. Being a “we” is something that feels foreign at times to the both of us, considering we’re still relatively fresh off of four years of what we like to refer to as desert wandering. There are things we’re both still working out that don’t magically fix themselves when you work someone else into your equation. Instead, they rise to the surface and now that someone else can see them, must be dealt with. Vulnerability doesn’t come easily for me. But sharing the ugliest parts of myself and dealing with them, is key to breaking cycles of negative behavior, fostering better communication, and forward motion.
When the topic of this year’s Pensacola Double Bridge Run originally came up in conversation, I assumed the race was either the same weekend as the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (just like it was last year), or pretty close. Regardless, I went ahead and wrote it off as a “no go” for me, that is, until I found out that it was set to take place two weeks after the NOLA Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, and that my mom was planning to run it.
After these realizations, I was sold. I had no desire to race it. Instead, I decided that more than anything else, I wanted to run it with my mom and pace her. I couldn’t miss this opportunity. And so, I took a quick weekend trip home to do just that. It was everything I could have hoped it would be—and so much more.
Fun Fact: My running story dates back to the stroller. I then eased into running on my own two feet by participating in one-mile fun runs. This photo above is of my mom holding my hand and helping me along during a fun run. I was about four years old, and she was in her early 40s. Until the Double Bridge Run, the longest race my mom and I had ever run together is a 5K. Continue Reading…
Situated less than three hours from my hometown of Pensacola, New Orleans is a city I’ve had a close relationship with for more than a decade—since I could legally drive a car. And in the years following high school, I’ve spent some monumental moments in this city.
New Orleans is the first (and only) place my car has been towed. It’s where I’ve seen some of my favorite musical acts, between intimate venues and festival settings. It’s where I became an adult, that is, I spent my 18th birthday here watching the Faint and Bright Eyes perform. It’s where I saw Sufjan (the man) Stevens up so closely that I presented him with a personal note (creepy? maybe). It’s the location of impromptu day trips taken with my mom, and friends. And it’s even where I [unintentionally] was with my roommates the moment the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl five years ago.
This photo was taken just after we stepped outside onto Bourbon Street, minutes after we watched the Saints win the Super Bowl, on a big screen inside the confines of One Eyed Jacks. I’ve never seen an entire city erupt like this and I wouldn’t trade being there in this moment of chaos for anything.
With so many memories attached to this city, it’s no wonder I was eager to experience it from a street-level perspective (running). And so, at the beginning of 2012, I jumped on the opportunity to run the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon for the first time. I was back for round two the following year, in 2013. Unfortunately, timing didn’t pan out last year, since I had literally just quit my job, wasn’t quite trained, and the race fell on the same weekend as a 15K at home in Pensacola, so I opted for that instead. However, for the past year, I’ve been eager to make a NOLA race comeback. Granted the drive was much longer this time coming all the way from St. Augustine, I wasn’t going to miss it. Thankfully Andrew wanted to join, so we made an extended venture out of it.
In my last post, “Run Happy, Run NOLA,” I elaborated on the race itself and the moments leading up to the start line. I also noted there to be much more to our trip. With that, here are some of the sights and tastes we experienced, beyond the race.