It’s time to plan a coffee shop road trip

I’m sitting at my kitchen table as I write this blog post thinking, “If only I could pour myself a cup of coffee right now.” Unfortunately, it’s almost 10:30pm, and any amount of caffeine in my system at this hour would result in me watching Bravo TV till the early hours of the morning.

My morning routine summed up in a gif.
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Coffee is such a staple part of my being that I’m surprised I haven’t written a post about it yet. It’s a welcome aroma after a tough morning workout, an energy-booster during an afternoon slump, and a delicious nightcap after dinner. I purposely ignore all those health cleanses that urge us to cut back from coffee.

Without coffee, “I stop doing the standing.”
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And we can’t forget the role coffee shops have played in the movies. There wouldn’t be You’ve Got Mail without Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan frequenting the same Starbucks. There wouldn’t be Bridesmaids if Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolf didn’t bond over a cup of coffee while discussing last night’s activities (Okay, that movie would probably still exist with or without that scene, but you get my point).

At the beginning of the summer, my mother casually mentioned in conversation, “Let’s road trip across the country and stop at all the favorite coffee shops along the way. We’ll go on a Coffee Shop Road Trip.”

Speaking of my mother, it’s important to mention that my friends and I all refer to her as The Coffee Snob, and it’s for a good reason. This is a woman who will want to walk out of a restaurant if she sees a Bunn-O-Matic coffee maker on the counter (apparently, it doesn’t brew a decent cup o’ joe) and who now has her own burr grinder because the store didn’t “grind her coffee beans the correct way.” If I were to hit the wide open road with her, I’d be sure to encounter some top-notch cafes.

Well, the summer flew by, and we didn’t make the time to embark on this road trip. There’s always next year though, which is why it’s time to start compiling a list of coffee shops that we’ll have to travel to if we ever do end up clamoring into the car and heading across the country. Below are three coffee shops that are only the start to what I hope will be a lengthy list:

1. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

This coffee shop was named Roast Magazine’s 2012 Micro Coffee Roaster of the Year, and they are committed to cultivating sustainable relationships with the farmers who grow their coffee. According to their website, they pay 50-100% over the Fair Trade contract price and focus on helping the farmers produce the best possible coffee through experiments and investment. The shop is located in La Jolla, California with another shop coming soon to Little Italy in San Diego.

Bird Rock's season espresso.  Image courtesy of

Bird Rock’s season espresso.
Image courtesy of

2. Blue Bottle Coffee 

I’ve been hearing a lot about this coffee company recently, from my mother telling me about its excellence to articles appearing on my Twitter feed. The background story featured on their website is worth the read, and it will make the prices of their bagged coffees a little less intimidating. They have locations on both coasts, so Mom and I would most likely make a pit stop in one of their California locations.

What a beautiful sight.
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3. Stumptown Coffee

Stumptown is another coffee company that prides itself on the relationships it sustains with the farmers. As they say on their website, “From plant to portafilter, we pay homage to these folks through our own fervent attention to detail at every step.” They have locations in Portland, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle, so it looks like it’s the West Coast yet again for mom and me. I read a blog post about Stumptown’s resident Camp Coffee Expert and pioneer about how to brew coffee when out in the wilderness that sold me on the prospect of checking out this coffee company.

I need to find a way to get my hands on Stumptown’s Cold Brew. It’s only available in select stores that are, of course, nowhere near me.
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I can’t wait to add more coffee shops to the list, but it’s now ten minutes to midnight, and I have to be up in six hours. Thank God for my morning cup o’ joe.


My (very) mini road trip to the Adirondacks

Where did the time go? Last time I checked, it was the end of June, and I vehemently said to myself that I would consistently blog over the summer. A big LOL to that idea. But, new waves of motivation are washing over me (at least I’d like to think so) now that I just completed my first few days back at college. With two years under my belt already, I greeted campus in the way you would greet a close friend. It was a welcome sight after three months away.

My reaction now that I look back on my initial goal of consistently blogging this summer.
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In between interning and working this summer, I took a couple of much-needed road trips. The season still screams “vacation” for me even though it’s been a few years since I’ve had a real “summer vacation.” So, in early August, I took a mini (and I mean mini) road trip up to the Adirondacks. Despite being only up in the northern New York region for a day, the joy of being on the open road in a familiar territory I’ve traveled to since a young age was a nostalgic feeling,

When I was little, my immediate family and relatives would take a yearly camping trip to the Adirondacks, shuffling between places that included Lake George, Long Lake, and Old Forge. When it came time to head to Camp Guggenheim at 13 years old with my cousin of the same age, the mountainous region felt like my second home. Little did I know that this almost 40-year-old Catholic recreational camp would be the reason I’d keep coming back to the mountains.

I’m now too old to attend Guggenheim myself, but some of my close “camp” friends have grown into the role of counselors. How fitting that I now have an excuse to return to the place that played a huge part in my upbringing. I can’t think of a better reason for taking a road trip than visiting old friends.

I ventured to both Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, NY during my short stay and caught up with said friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in two years. Below are a few pictures from my Adirondack jaunt.

View of Lower Saranac Lake from Camp Guggenheim

View of Lower Saranac Lake from Camp Guggenheim.

Lake Placid Olympic Center, home of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice," at dusk.

Lake Placid Olympic Center, home of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” at dusk.

Panoramic view of Mirror Lake in Lake Placid. This is one of many locations for the annual IRONMAN race.

Panoramic view of Mirror Lake in Lake Placid. This is one of many locations for the annual IRONMAN race.

After returning from the place that was home to the 1980 Olympics’ “Miracle on Ice,” I wondered if there were other pop culture connections to the Adirondack region. In recent years, movies including Frozen River, The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Good Shepherd have used the Adirondacks as their filming locations. Melissa Leo, Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro are just a few of the stars who have most likely graced the region with their presence.

The 1980 “Miracle on Ice” brought to the big screen in the movie “Miracle” is one of the many reasons to venture to Lake Placid, NY.
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I guess I’m not the only one who loves the winding roads, looming trees, and glistening lakes that are staples of the well-known New York region. The next time there happens to be a movie filming in the area, I’ll try to plan my road trip then in order to catch a glimpse of the A-Listers.






Royal Pains is my “new” show of choice

This summer amidst interning and working, I’ve spent a good portion of my break from school binge-watching Netflix. As soon as spring semester ended, I got hooked on The Vampire Diaries, embarrassed as I am to admit it. Then June 6th rolled around, and I’m sure you can guess what show I was attuned to for the next week. Now that I’ve finished the second season of Orange is the New Black, I don’t know what to do with myself.

I danced for joy when OITNB’s second season premiered on Netflix.
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Then I subsequently cried when I finished the season and realized I have to wait yet another year for season three.
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Leave it to my grandmother to introduce me to my slowly-growing newest obsession, Royal Pains. Although I’m only four episodes in to the first season, it has officially grabbed my attention. I’m a sucker for any type of medical show, hence my never-ending love for Grey’s Anatomy, and this seems to have the right amount of drama and medical plot line for my liking.

So happy I found another Netflix show I can waste my time watching.
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It doesn’t hurt that Mark Feuerstein is the show’s star. He swept me off my feet the first time I watched the film In Her Shoes, and now I fawn over him every time he comes on the screen.

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The show features Feuerstein’s character as a diagnostic surgeon working as a concierge doctor in the Hamptons. Dr. Hank Lawson acts as a Robin Hood of sorts, caring for the rich who desire privacy above everything else and helping the poor who can’t afford to receive medical attention.

The reason I’m writing about Royal Pains is because of the show’s location. Previously, my knowledge of the Hamptons consisted of its mention in the 2004 movie White Chicks where two undercover FBI brothers head to the group of villages as part of  an investigation into the corruption encircling a wealthy elite.

And talk about wealthy. Royal Pains features some of the most gorgeous homes (or should I say mansions?) that serve as the wealthy elite and celebrities’ go-to destinations during the warmer months.

One of the locations seen in the show is the sprawling Oheka Castle located in Huntington, NY. The castle is now worth a reported $110 million and is a top venue for weddings, galas, and other events. Recent renovations have led to the restoration of 70% of the estate with plans to revamp the rest of the property in the future. In addition to Royal Pains, Oheka Castle has served as the backdrop in Citizen Kane and other media productions.

The Oheka Castle serves as the home of a wealthy elite on Royal Pains.
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Main Street in Southampton also serves as a filming location for the show, displaying its many local stores. There are frequent scenes of Dr. Hank Lawson walking down the street.

Main Street in Southampton.
Image courtesy of trip


Other locations on Long Island stand in for Hamptons spots including Oyster Bay and Locust Valley. So, I might as well just tour all of Long Island while I’m at it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get the opportunity to swoon over Mark Feuerstein in person. Fingers crossed.



Do yourself a favor and watch Duke Dumont’s new music video

I used to love watching music videos. In my early teens, I’d watch CMT every morning, relishing in how artists chose to tell a story through the music. I hate to say it, but I rarely watch music videos anymore. It’s not because I no longer appreciate them but because the hands on the clock don’t move slow enough for me to find time to enjoy them.

But recently, I found the time to appreciate a music video again. Thanks to a Buzzfeed article, I discovered a song that not only echoes the excitement of summer, but rejuvenates the feeling of wanderlust I have yet to shake off. It was just what I needed amidst a busy work week.

Producer Duke Dumont’s latest song “I Got You” features tropical-sounding beats and a melody that’ll make you wish you had your toes in the sand. The video is even better than the song itself. After putting on a virtual reality helmet, the star of the video experiences a tropical paradise of beautiful views, crystal-clear waters, and gorgeous beaches that’ll have anyone wishing they were hopping on a plane right now.

I’ve already written about my desire to travel to Thailand, and this video is a reaffirmation of that. Viewers are given a tour of Thailand from Bangkok to Phuket, and the sights are mesmerizing. Below are screenshots from the music video that are just a few of the places featured.

Screenshot courtesy of Duke Dumont's "I Got You" music video

Screenshot courtesy of Duke Dumont’s “I Got You” music video

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 4.20.03 PM

Screenshot courtesy of Duke Dumont’s “I Got You” music video


Screenshot courtesy of Duke Dumont's "I Got You" music video

Screenshot courtesy of Duke Dumont’s “I Got You” music video

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Screenshot courtesy of Duke Dumont’s “I Got You” music video

It looks like I’m going to have to get back into the habit of watching music videos. Maybe I’ll discover yet another place I need to visit.


RelayRides’ “Road Trip Essentials” Campaign

I’m finally home from school for the summer and am kicking things off with an exciting post! I was recently contacted by RelayRides to participate in their “Road Trip Essentials” campaign, so this blog post will be all about what I can’t live without when I hit the road. I had never heard of the marketplace prior to being contacted, but I now have a reason to plan a road trip.

RelayRides is a “peer-to-peer car rental marketplace” that helps car owners and those in need of a set of wheels connect with each other. The company’s website states that you should think of the service as “Airbnb for cars,” an easy and affordable way for you to rent or list a vehicle for use.

Thank you RelayRides for your genius service.
Image courtesy of

I perused the site out of curiosity and couldn’t believe how cheap some of the car listing prices were. My friend recently asked me to plan a trip to Florida for her, and I found a car listed at only $26/day. To say that I haven’t spent the last week planning my own road trip would be a lie. Even a broke college student like myself can cough up that amount of money without flinching.

My thoughts after I saw how cheap it was to rent a car through RelayRides.
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For RelayRides’ “Road Trip Essentials” campaign, I’ve created a Polyvore board showcasing the items I can’t live without when I get behind the wheel. In addition, I also created a Spotify “Road Trip” playlist of songs, new and old, that I always have playing when I’m driving, no matter how short the distance I’m traveling. If anyone has song suggestions they think I must listen to while on the road, feel free to comment below! I’m a music junkie who is always looking for new tunes.

My Polyvore board below features a mixture of useful and frivolous items that I try to always have in my car, especially when I’m traveling long distances. Beneath the board are the product descriptions and prices. I’ve included my own thoughts on each item as well!

Morgan's Road Trip Playlist

This semester, I trained for a half marathon and found myself desperately needing a new pair of running shoes. I grew up always sporting Nikes, but my switch to Adidas has put the company on top of my list of favorite athletic wear. I try to run every day, so if I were to embark on a lengthy road trip, I’d try to log some miles. I’d have to find some way to stretch my legs anyways.

Old Navy flats sandals
No matter how much my dad encourages me to drive in sneakers, I’m notorious for just slipping on my flip flops and stepping on the gas pedal. During the summer, my feet are always sporting a pair, so it’s an added bonus that Old Navy’s flip flops are so cheap. And by cheap, I’m talking as little as $2.50 a pair, $1 if there’s a sale!

Last year, I found a Calvin Klein crossbody purse for a bargain price at Marshall’s, and I carry it with me everywhere I go. It houses my driver’s license, a road trip essential if there ever was one, and just makes carrying everything I need that much easier.

Similar to my Calvin Klein purse, I bought my pair of Steve Madden sunglasses at Marshall’s for a price I couldn’t pass up. There’s nothing worse than having the sun in your eyes while driving, so I always have at least one pair with me at all times.

Oyuna brown throw
$1,095 –
Ok, now there’s no way I would ever spend a grand on a brown throw, but I do have a brown sweatshirt blanket that I always use. This comes in handy whenever I’m not driving and am desperate need of a nap in the car. I just curl up in my blanket and snooze away.

H M white napkin
$2.53 –
Instead of H&M napkins, I tend to have an over-abundance of Dunkin Donuts napkins in my car due to the frequency with which I spend my money on coffee and bagels. They come in handy because I never fail to spill something at some point during my travels.

I recently travelled to Colorado to visit a friend and was amazed how much the change in altitude affects the body. I found myself drinking twice as much water as I usually did, especially when we drove up into the mountains. Suffice to say I have a newfound appreciation for water and carry a water bottle with me wherever I go.

These maps are on the Polyvore to symbolize Apple’s Maps app that has yet to fail me. I have a friend who is blessed to have what seems like an internal GPS, but I unfortunately don’t possess this skill. I’d be lost without my iPhone.

Dunkin Donuts’ Iced Coffee image courtesy of

Since heading off to college, Dunkin Donuts has become my favorite coffee chain, mostly because it’s the only one we have in the area. I may just be addicted to their iced coffees, and I make sure to always grab one before hitting the road to embark on my 2 and a 1/2-hour drive home from school.

image courtesy of

Clif Crunch Granola Bar

I always have these in my dorm room because they’re perfect for on-the-go eating. They also fit in my purse and help to stave off hunger on the road.

Apple iPod Touch 2nd Generationimage courtesy of

Despite having an iPhone, I can’t seem to part with my 2nd generation iPod. It’s the first thing I grab as I walk out the door to my car because there’s nothing worse than hearing radio commercials throughout the drive. I’m constantly adding new music to it, and I rue the day when I have no storage space left.

White iPod Headphones image courtesy of

If I’m ever a passenger in a car, my headphones come in handy. I often put them in and listen to music when I want to sleep in the car, and it’s an easy way of tuning everything else out.

Marie Claire magazine image courtesy of

If there’s one vice I have, it’s that I’m a magazine hoarder. I can’t seem to part with any issues, no matter how old they are. I’m a pop culture fan, so any light reading I do is in a magazine. Plus, I’m one of those people who can read in the car without getting motion sickness.

Vogue magazineimage courtesy of

Vogue is just another one of my favorite magazines to bring in the car to pass the time.

Starbucks’ Multigrain Bagelimage courtesy of

I switch back and forth between Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts’ multigrain bagels when I need to make a pit stop to eat. Carbs are my weakness, and they always will be.

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Revenge Wears Prada book

I finally got my hands on this book today and can’t wait to start reading. I’m a fan of Lauren Weisberger’s writing, and I know this will be yet another source of reading material for the road.

Nike USA Prestige Soccer Ballimage courtesy of

For the longest time, I had a soccer ball stored in the trunk of my car. Every time I hit the brakes, I’d hear it rolling around. I haven’t played soccer in quite some time, but kicking a ball around is a good way to stretch your legs after being cramped in the car. It’s time I put that soccer ball back in the trunk.

The 1975 CD Image courtesy of

Although I don’t own a copy of The 1975’s CD, I do have a few others stashed in my dashboard compartment. Right now, I have a couple mixed CDs and CDs by artists that include Paramore, Kitten, and Little Daylight. It never hurts to go back to the basics of a compact disc.

ChapStick Classic Cherryimage courtesy of

This is just another item I always have in my purse. Chapped lips are the absolute worst, so I always have chapstick on hand whenever I travel.


Of the items I’ve included on my Polyvore, my iPod Touch is by far the most important. Music is such a huge part of my life, and I rarely do anything without the accompaniment of a soundtrack. Driving is one of the top activities I do that demands music as its companion, so below is a Spotify playlist of my “essential” road trip songs.


Thank you RelayRides for asking me to participate in your campaign! I’ll be sure to make use of your car rental service in the near future. Let the road trip planning begin.