10 Items or Less


Refuge Hiking, 2011

Awhile ago, I watched the movie 10 Items or Less, starring Morgan Freeman. The movie is about a cool friendship and there is a scene where they challenge each other to state a list of 10 Items or Less that they would keep from lessons learned/joys of life. Besides the fact that I’m addicted to listing of all kinds, I immediately gravitated towards that scene in the movie for many reasons. I began generating these lists, including the negatives because they have just as much of an impact on who I am today as do the positives and I must honor them as such. Creating these lists began in 2007, and typically, I write them when I feel them, but lately, I do them after a trip to honor my gains from the adventure. It has been a cool challenge to narrow the benefits of life down to these lists, and to see how they change. I love flipping through my journal, and reviewing them, just like you do with photo albums. And the coolest part is that these lists can have more meaning than fully written paragraphs because they require you to narrow, simplify, and cut. It is the extreme version of editing your life down to the essentials. It reminds me to be thankful, to reflect, and to remember that I don’t always get life right away.

Here is an example of one I created after a trip I took in 2009 to Mexico with my great friend Ayme:

Manzanillo Charter
Angela’s Hostel
Sand on my feet
Nacho, our driver to Potosi
Watching Ayme watch kids
Frutta con leche’
Hammock @ Potsoi
The Tides bar
Music, both times
Swimming in the ocean(s)

Bike “deal”
The Norwegian
Dented Bed

Try it!

Next Stop: Key West/Dry Tortugas National Park, October 2021

Next Stop: Santa Barbara, Channel Islands, Sept. 2021

With the pandemic and other life changes, I have been trying to get to more national parks. I have a lot of work to do in this area. Because I already had a ticket to see My Morning Jacket at the Santa Barbara bowl, I took advantage of taking in the nearby Channel Islands. Wow-it exceeded, way exceeded my expectations.


My Morning Jacket

Sea Cave kayaking, easily the most amazing thing I’ve done in a kayak so far

Ferry out to the park


Hot Tub at Marriott

Ventura beach walk

NP Visitor’s Center


Not doing more of the food scene


Flight cancellation

Not buying the poster

Next Stop: Hawaii, 2021

After a recent break up, I decide to do a quick impromptu trip to Hawaii and explore Oahu on the cheap. It was actually fairly unique for me because I haven’t spent much time in and around Honolulu.


Using points to get an ocean view balcony

Biking and busing everywhere

Diamond Head

Swimming in the ocean

Kai Coffee

Happy Hour at breweries

Crossfit Oahu


Catching sunsets

Eating on the cheap


Sleepless nights

Westin hotel beach bar (stay local)

Not buying a bike pass

Not catching any music

Next Stop: Colorado/New Mexico Spring 2021

I finally got to some sections of the country that I had never been to before: Telluride, Durango, Pegosa Springs, and Santa Fe. We also stayed and skied in Taos, which was nostalgic for me from my childhood. It was a restorative and joyful trip!


Skiing in the sun: Telluride Prospect Bowl, Purgatory from the top, and Taos

Beautiful scenery during the road trip sections

21.3/4 at Telluride Crossfit

Timber Room Experience

Santa Fe food scene

Sitting together doing post cards

Everything about Pegosa Springs, despite the fact that it was a resort (maybe that is a sign that I’m getting older)

Restorative sleep


No shuttle booked meant driving from Denver instead, but it turned into a pretty cool road trip with a memorable meal at Italian Underground in Glenwood Springs

Brown Dog Pizza


Next Stop: Joshua Tree, December 2020

Next Stop: Sitka, Alaska, summer 2020

Next Stop: Hawaii, December 2019-2020

Finding beautiful beaches
Riding the bus
Watching sea turtles swim while snorkeling
Sunset charter in Maui
Hiking Volcanoes National Park
Watching palm trees sway
Swimming in the ocean-each and every time
Cruise bikes
Driving through lava fields and tree tunnels
Fresh Poki and fresh papaya
Evening meals while listening to the ocean
Learning about the petrogylphs
Kalikala for breakfast-twice


Next Stop: Australia, December 2018-2019

sydney opera house australia
Photo by Rijan Hamidovic on Pexels.com

Sardinia-on-Map-of-Italy Next Stop: Southern Italy, December 2017


Lake Myvatn

Next Stop: Iceland, Summer 2017 I had to postpone this trip last year when I lost my job, but it’s finally becoming a reality! This trip will involve a lot of biking, hiking, hot springs, exploring the waterfalls and other unique aspects of the country. I will also be going to the Solstice Music Festival!

10 Items or Less on Iceland, 2016

  • Biking the Vestmannaeyjar, The Westman Islands
  • Husivik
  • Riding the bus
  • Mind blowing hiking of the national park
  • Hiking the Eldfell volcano
  • Ron from Brazil and other old men travelers
  • The Barfly
  • Arbol Guesthouse
  • Foo Fighters
  • Fish in a pan


  • Having to rent a car for two days
  • Pushing through jetlag of day one
  • Reykavik (outside of the Macro Bar)
  • Sharing dorm with old snoring German
  • Absentmindedness leading to losing my camera and going to find it, but having to sacrifice my boat tour



Next Stop: Scotland, Spring 2015

My brother currently lives in the Isle of Man, a nearby island to both the UK and Ireland. I haven’t figured out my exact route yet, but this trip is going to involve kayaking, music, whisky tasting, biking the John Muir Way, maybe some rugby watching, and hiking!


Flogging Molly over sunset!
Flogging Molly over sunset!

Next Stop: Beale St. Music Festival, Spring 2015

This was my first visit to Memphis, was a great weekend full of music! I hope to go back in the near future. Highlights included Band of Horse, Bela and Abigail, The Blues Shack, Wilco, Flogging Molly, and of course-the weather!



Next Stop: Portland, Oregon, Fall 2014

When I was younger, I went skiing in Mt. Hood, but outside of that, my Oregon experiences have been minimal. I’m looking forward to exploring the city itself as I hear it’s one of the best in my country. The essential purpose of the trip is to go to The Black Keys on Halloween, dressed as Scooby Doo characters, but there will be much more coming out of the trip, I’m sure! I plan on repeating a visit to Portland in the winter of 2015 to see The Cold War kids at the Crystal Ballroom. It’s fun going to places due to my passion for live music.



Next Stop: Austin City Musical Festival, Texas, Fall 2014

I am finally checking Austin off my bucket list-it’s been a long, long time coming!


Chacala, Mexico
Chacala, Mexico

Next Stop: Chacala, Mexico, Spring 2014

I’m headed to Mexico for the third time next month! For this trip, we will be going to Puerta Vallarta for a quick stop, and then north of there to a couple of somewhat off the grid places like Chacala. While it will be a relatively shorter trip than I normally take, I’m glad to be getting outside the border as my last time was in 2012. I’m hoping to catch some real Mexican culture outside of the tourist mayhem!

10 Items or Less on Mexico, 2014


Our many local transportation experts: Roberto, Francisco, Nacho…..Gracias!

Music pouring from Chacala

Food, specifically the Tacos in Chacala

Hacienda Las Animas (check them out if you have to stay in PV)

Watching the very hot and almost naked guy doing yoga on the beach during sunrise

Las Cuevas

Chacala beach

Pelicans Diving

Communication with the locals, with good or bad Spanglish!


The Roosters

Friends getting Sick

Not Hiking


Folly Beach, near Charleston, S.C.
Folly Beach, near Charleston, S.C.

Next Stop: Charleston, South Carolina, Summer 2013

For my new job as an education specialist for RISC, the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition, I’ll be going to Charleston at least once per month in the summer! It’s going to be holy hot there, but as one with southern roots running through her system, I won’t mind. I was raised in Georgia, but there is a part of me that has always loved the Carolinas. I’m looking forward to being in the culture, and enjoying some fantastic southern grub, especially BBQ. That is one area where Alaska is sorely lacking. It will be my first official trip under my new contract  where I’ll be taking the lead on some trainings for the Charleston County School District so stay tuned for an important 10 Items or Less list! I’m exciting to be working with educators in the area.


Next Stop: Brooklyn, N.Y., Dec. 2012

It’s finally happening. Not my desire to see Brooklyn, New York, but my close to life long wish to see Leonard Cohen live. I can’t really say I’ve had that desire my entire life, but I’d say for most of the part of it where music and writing have mattered, and to me, that is a really important chunk of my life! Leonard is 77 this year and he is currently on what could be his last tour; who knows if that is true, but we have tickets to see his last show of the tour and I am completely turned on by that! Leonard, for me, tells the best stories while bleeding his emotions through his voice and his guitar. You want to cry and hold someone, but at the same time, you want to run from all that he is saying. There is this middle ground that he is able to put me on and I love him for that. He is really meant to be read and I have met my best reflections just after reading his poetry. The other thing that makes Leonard special for me is that he has this 80s style on some of his albums, yet he can totally get away with it. It’s cheese with meaning, at times.

Of course, there is something to be said for saying that you have this bucket list of things that you’re going to mark off and actually making those things happen-seeing Leonard is for sure near the top of the list! And, I get to go to Brooklyn, a place I’ve never been. While going to NYC happened for me a few times during grade school, I never made it to Brooklyn so if you have any Brooklyn suggestions, feel free to share!

10 Items or Less on NYC, 2012


Leonard Cohen

Fette Sau

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Comedy Cellar

NYC Metro

Grand Central Station

Golden and Swartz (My companions)

Aroma, mostly for the wine

Walking everywhere

Seeing Arthur in Times Square


The Noise

The guy on the subway that made me want to cry

Beer Selection

Layover in Seattle

Not being alone at all



Next stop: PERU, July 2012

To celebrate our ages of 30 and 40, my sister and I will be traveling to Peru in less than two weeks! Not only will this be my first time to Peru, but it is also my first destination in South America, having only been to this region for Central American destinations thus far. As always, I’m looking forward to the adventure, but while preparing for where to go, more than any other trip, I’ve already learned a great deal about the logistics simply due to the size of the country! If I’ve learned anything while traveling, I’ve learned much of it via transportation. Getting from one place to the next is where the culture comes alive! It causes anxiety, and makes you humble. It makes you rely on all forms of communication, whether they make sense or not. It buries you in all aspects of the culture, and asks that you respect all of it, even the obnoxious parts. I could write a book on bus stations in foreign countries alone! Transportation is such a great teacher. Here is to all of the trains, planes, and automobiles that we will experience in Peru. Cheers!

10 Items or Less on Peru, 2012


Colca Canyon hiking with sister
Macchu Picchu Combat Tourism
The food, especially in Lima
Cabanconde Traditions
That very close condor
Hostel Group rallies
The transportation
Beach walk in Lima/waves
Other tours: Iglesias San Fran/Huac
Cuzco Central Market

The beer
Losing my ATM card
Leaving my CC behind
Finally finding a festival and being let in
Cold Showers
My first and last Jager bomb


5 thoughts on “10 Items or Less

  1. Hi Laura, I love this idea! We’ve always done our “Best and Worst Lists” on the last night of an adventure (complete with wacky illustrations), but I like your idea better. Boiling it down to its essence. So glad you shared this. All the Best. Terri

    1. Thanks Terri! If you try it, please share it with me! Love the illustration idea. Do you have your best “Best and Worst List” marked on your blog? Sincerely, Laura

      1. Hi Laura, Right now our “best and worst lists” are stuck in notebooks and text documents. Never thought about including them, but what a fun idea! ;~} Terri

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