For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be interviewing some blogger ladies within the #LoudLadies community. I had the luck to join this group earlier this year because Fenna, the first interviewee of the series, found my blog and recruited me into this amazing community of woman bloggers and entrepreneurs.
(Anyone else notice the acronym of this series is IBS? No? Okay, moving on…)
Meeting Fenna was so special, and truly a moment I’ll never forget. I got the email as I was milling around a swanky hotel in Agra, India, waiting for a wedding event, feeling both spectacular and strange in my first-ever saree. At first I thought the excited email from Fenn was spam, because my brain was unable to comprehend that someone had found my blog and was compelled to write me about it.
But it turned out my First Official Fan had indeed emailed me, and I was so happy I told a large group of Indians in my immediate vicinity. Not only that, she’s a fellow Ohio girl. Meeting Ohio brethren, especially when swimming in the foreign waters abroad, is always a relief and inspiring. But Fenn moreso than others. She’s a prolific blogger, geocacher, photographer, AND entrepreneur (who has recently gone back to school), and shares reviews, thoughts, and inspiration on her blog The Honest Badger.
Astromaid: I’m so happy to have you on my blog today! Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What kind of traveler are you? A ‘I’ve been planning this for months’ type of girl? A ‘buy the first cheap ticket I see’ traveler? Or somewhere else on the spectrum?
Fenna: It varies, but more of a planning it for months kinda gal. I LOVE to travel, but I like to feel secure and I’m a hardcore planner. If I could plan out everything for the next five years, I would! I also have a tendency to live very fucking broke, and so traveling requires a strict budget and saving up for. HOWEVER, I also love how central to everything Ohio is and I can just go on a day trip to so many exciting places. On my Instagram (fennaramatron), people are always commenting on the cool places I go, and they’re all within a two-hour drive. I love to explore near and far!
AM: Bringing people’s attention to the cool parts of Ohio is needed. I grew up thinking it was all just boring and plain in the region, but that’s SO far from the truth. It just took me years and lots of life experience to get it. But outside of Ohio, what has been your favorite travel experience in the world, and why?
F: Stavanger, Norway just does it for me. I toured Europe for the month of April in 2007, entertaining U.S. troops in Germany, Norway, Belgium, and England (with a stop in France to catch the ferry). Norway was like nothing I had ever imagined (and VERY like Seattle, which is why Seattle feels very NOT American to me). Norway was so beautiful and stark and interesting and simple and wonderful. I had so much fun there. I was only there for about 48 hours, and only in Stavanger, but I managed to walk that entire city and eat reindeer and jump in the Black Sea (which is really a fjord of some type) and just…so breathtaking.
AM: I’ve never been in a fjord OR to Seattle, but both are now on my list. What do you like most about travel? And what aspect of travel just pisses you off?
F: I like seeing new places, even if they seem mundane. When I drove across the U.S. and saw Iowa for the first time (and then Omaha), I was blown away and how beautiful it is. Parts of the U.S. always end up being ignored or dismissed because it’s not, you know, fucking L.A. or New York or whatever. When I was in Europe, I was not in Paris and Berlin and other big name cities (I did see some famous cities). I was in tiny towns with little more than a ruined castle and a gas station and a military base Hitler had. But it was so amazing, all these tiny towns, and I realized, you can be anywhere and it will be cool. You don’t have to see the Taj Mahal, because somewhere that is far away and a different culture will seem awesome. I hate people and crowds and idiots in line for mass transportation.
AM: Really great point. Beauty and awesomeness are around us always, you just have to LOOK, which also implies being willing to accept it, even if it’s not something fantastic and faraway. You’ve moved across the USA a lot – and I mean A LOT, a lot. Can you tell us more about that, and why it happened?
F: I’ve been trying to remember exactly how it happened and in what order. I can’t remember if I first answered a Yahoo Classified ad (don’t even exist anymore, I think) and took a live-in nanny job in Olathe, Kansas (so awful) or if I sold my car and bought a plane ticket to Honolulu to start college in Hawai’i. I took a live-in nanny position in Seattle. I took a job in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (south of the Hoover Dam). I took a job in Death Valley. I tend to take jobs somewhere and then go. I like to see new places. I wanted to go to college for history, a degree you can get anywhere. I was looking at Michigan, where a lot of friends (from working at Cedar Point) were. But those friendships fell apart and Hawai’i had no application fees, and so I went. It was easy because school and dorm and just get there and do it. I think Hawai’i helped break the ice for traveling (maybe Olathe did first, I cannot remember which came first). After that, taking the leap was easier and easier and I just need to get away sometimes.
AM: And in all those moves across the country, was there any overriding sensation or conclusion that you felt? Even if it was about packing and re-packing, or friendships, or holidays, or how much you hate the humidity in Ohio, etc?
F: There is nothing like watching the sun rise over the Mississippi on the border of Illinois and Iowa and absolutely nothing like chasing down the sunset in the middle of the Great Basin. One awesome thing about the U.S. is how vast and amazing and different it is. I’ve been to 45 states (have not yet been to Alaska, North or South Dakota, Vermont, or Maine). I’ve travelled pretty extensively, but there is still so much to see. Being able to travel around Europe would be so cool. I’m jealous of those Brits who can get on a train and go to Paris for the weekend. But then again, I could go to New York City for the weekend. But I think it all started because I get tired of people and their bullshit and not feeling like I fit in. I know I fit in on the road. The highway always welcomes me. I fit in on strange streets and new towns and old trails. I like being in the new and the different. I don’t feel at home in the usual. I love Ohio and I will always return here, but there is so much to see and to do and so many people to meet and I’d rather be out on the road, finding those places.
AM: I’ve never received a better response than yours. I will be quoting you for years to come. What is your favorite among the following: A.) A Shire-esque hobbit home with round doors and tiny knobs, and most likely fragrant fields of flowers just beyond the bend in the road B.) A modern apartment overlooking an exciting, bustling city with lots of lights and shadows and fascinating steel contraptions C.) an 1800’s cabin (either legitimate or a re-make, you decide) in the middle of the Appalachians, where the sounds of your neighbor’s horses whinnying waft in the evening breeze?
F: None of them. I need an island and water. But I’ll take a hobbit hole any day. I do dream of living in a cave.
AM: I couchsurfed Santorini, Greece once and our host lived in an honest to god cave. And now I also dream of living in a cave. But his was really well-decorated and didn’t smell musty or have stalactites. Which, really, when you think about it, a cave home should have at least ONE stalactite. Now, switching gears…
I don’t know much about geocaching, apart from what I researched once to use in a short story contest (I didn’t win—I’ll need your input next time). Does your geocaching take you on unexpected adventures? And what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever geocached/unearthed/stumbled upon/whatever verb you use in this situation?
F: I wrote a post about it on Steph’s blog! : http://www.the-loudmouth.com/2013/01/guest-post-geocaching-101-by-fenn.html : I have just about 400 geocaches under my belt, but the vast majority of them have been in Ohio. I have cached in several states, but only picking up one or two here and there. The coolest has been a geocache that is a book in a library. There was a weird one in Upstate New York that required pulling the cache up out of a hole in the center of a tree, but the cache broke as I was pulling it out (poor design), so that was annoying. I love cemetery caches because I love old cemeteries. Mom and I was found one inside a fake bird in a fake nest in a real tree, and that was cool. I HATE geocaches that are meant to be extra tricky or dangerous.
AM: Fake bird, fake nest, real tree. GENIUS!
Have you ever eaten ceviche? If so, did you like it? And if not, will you go eat it with me?
F: It freaks me out, but I’ll try anything once. I don’t like the idea of a cold soup, but I’ll eat it. Definitely.
AM: Hold on – are you thinking of Gazpacho? Because THAT is a cold soup (from Spain), and yeah, I didn’t like the idea either NOR the taste. BLECH. Ceviche is raw fish and raw onion slices, bathed in lime juice and cilantro. I’ll take you to try ceviche sometime—we can save the gazpacho for a different day.
What is your ultimate travel dream right now – and why?
F: Adam and I talk a lot about going to Romania, because he taught there in the Peace Corps. It’s exciting to me, to think about seeing a place he really loved and where he lived and seeing those places through the eyes of someone who lived there. We’ve talked about starting in Italy (’cause I wanna see Venice) and visiting other Eastern European countries on our way to going to his places. But…if I’m really talking about my ultimate dreams…hmm… Swing dancing on the Great Wall of China, a massive Southern Hemisphere trip with an outback tour in Australia, or road tripping all of the British Isles (or whatever the hell they’re called)…and of course, the Eiffel Tower! Oooh, or going to India and hanging with my friend, Debashree or coming to wherever you are in South America. I DON’T KNOW!!!!!! EVERYWHERE!!!!
AM: THE WORLD HAS SO MANY PLACES TO SEE!!! AHHHH!!! Which is why it’s EXTRA special that you’re able to see so many interesting nooks, crannies, cities, and otherwise in your daily life. You travel a lot for your creative work, which involves photography sessions with clients all around the state of Ohio – and sometimes even out of state. What is your favorite part about meeting these far-flung clients, wherever they are?
F: Oooh, I LOVE putting different states and countries on my photo shoot lists! I tend to marry landscape photography and portrait photography. I like to make epic photos where there is a person in this fucking awesome location. Shooting with the Alps in the background was awesome! Shooting in downtown Louisville was cool. Going somewhere I’ve never been and finding some little spot that speaks of that location is great. I actually had a collection of nude self-portraits in all the states I had visited. I was gonna do all of the states. I have since lost them in a hard drive crash, but a friend of mine and I were talking about them and she was talking about how good they were. It was cool to hear that from someone else, because it was such a personal project for me. It was all about my setting a timer in the middle of nowhere Texas and running around a field naked, or climbing a barbed wire fence on a dirt road in New Mexico and covering myself in red mud. It was so fun to create beautiful art in places I had visited that mirrored my own portrait photography with my love of new places I’d visited and secret spots I’d found.
AM: What a badass project! I am absolutely in love with it, and so bummed that this has been lost! Will you ever re-do it?
F: As my friend and I were talking about it and I realized how much she appreciated it, I thought about doing it again. Aside from enjoying the doing of it and the photos myself, it was really cool to hear that someone else enjoyed it. But it’s weird, too, because I had short black hair when I started and long black hair when I finished and NO tattoos. It was all me and bare skin. And now, I’m so different when it comes to my outward appearance. So I don’t know. Maybe! Probably. I mean, seriously, I’ll probably start it up again this summer, honestly.
AM: What are your favorite shooting conditions? I mean, if you could have an extremely photogenic stranger approach you and be like, “Listen Fenn, I need this really expensive shoot that I’ll pay you in advance for (possibly in euros and/or bitcoin), but I need you to plan all the details, down to my own pair of underwear”…what would it include?
F: It would be either a full nude shoot or a boudoir shoot. It would be outside, possible underwater. It would be all about natural sunlight and natural beauty. Probably right now, I’m dreaming of the Castalia Quarry and a beautiful, naked, black or brown body. That would be so fucking sweet.
AM: I think I know somebody who might be interested in doing the Quarry shoot. And yeah, all of those sound amazing. I think you are such a talented photographer, and I can’t wait until we get to work together (I’ll try not to make too many ugly faces, but, well, it’s just my nature).
Any travel discount sites or links to recommend?
Thanks for coming to visit with me today! And readers, don’t forget to check out Fenn’s blog: The Honest Badger!