Happy Tuesday from a tour bus!
If you’ve known me long, you know I was obsessed with the movie Selena as a kid, and this week I’m living out my childhood dreams and spending a week on the road just like she did!
I’m vacationing in the mid-west, checking off four states I’ve never been to (MT, SD, ND, MN), and best of all, getting to volunteer for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, Jo Jorgenson!
But more about that under travel. I’ve got a lot to cover this week and want to leave plenty of space. Don’t forget – google might truncate this email if it exceeds their word count. Be sure to click and expand it at the bottom so you can ensure you see everything – or read it at the Substack website!
Don’t forget to send me questions/requests for future newsletters.
And we’re off!
NEWS & POLITICS
I was in The Washington Examiner last week discussing the ongoing, tragic case of Breonna Taylor. No knock warrants, the war on drugs, and qualified immunity all come under fire here.
I was also in The Hill last week. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of the intellectual inconsistency in this country. Leftists claim the government is overrun with racial bias (it is), and want to expand it. Conservatives claim government is inherently corrupt (it is), and meltdown when someone suggests it is racist. I can’t with these people.
Other News You Should See:
Tyler Childers has quietly become the undeniable fan favorite in country music over the past couple of years, and he’s done it sans the typical radio/promo machine (good riddance). My youngest brother introduced me to Tyler last year, and just about every other man I know is flat out obsessed. For good reason, he’s great. I recommend his album Purgatory for a first listen. “Lady May” might just be the prettiest song I’ve heard in a decade. I’d also encourage you to read this recent article about him. I love when artists are actually inspiring.
I’m one episode into this podcast, but quite excited for it. NPR is digging back through a decade of bad decisions that ended in this national trauma.
Nothing because I accidentally left my iPad at home this week!
A book by the same title was at the top of the bestsellers list seven years ago or so. I read and liked it then, but had forgotten about it. Since I left my iPad at home for this trip, I was at the mercy of American Airlines’ (gross) in-flight entertainment service. In an effort to launch their own streaming service, Apple has apparently launched some original TV series, and this one did not disappoint. I’m doing the 7-day free trial to finish it (TBD if I stick around after that). It’s a gripping crime drama with lots of suspense and plenty of twists.
HEALTH & NUTRITION
Honestly. I forgot how hard it is to stay healthy on the road. Seven months off the road due to COVID-19 and I’ve gotten soft. Fitting in regular workouts, solid sleep, and nutritious food recipes is somewhat hard at home, on the road, it’s a real accomplishment.
I’ve learned to create really strong healthy boundaries that help me maintain my health. I see them as commitments to myself that are absolute non-negotiables. These are important when I’m not busy, but they’re essential when life is hectic. This week, let’s focus on sleep.
I do not get less than 7 hours sleep. Sometimes that means I go to bed when everyone else is still having fun. Sometimes it means I spend less time getting ready. And often it means I find time to nap here and there throughout the day if the other two simply aren’t possible with schedules. This can be easier said than done, and it really is a discipline. I have a couple of must-have sleep products below that help with this routine. If you suffer from insomnia (like me), FOMO, or both. Check these out.
I hate going to bed. I hate it more than anything. There’s just something about giving up the day that I can’t stand. So to entice myself, I’ve made going to bed a luxury event to coax myself into it. Typically I fix a decaf latte or hot tea about an hour before I hope to be asleep. I’ve tried to have this take the place of a night-cap in the evenings and save alcoholic drinks for fun/social occasions. I use a decaf Nespresso or Kcup, froth some almond milk and heavy cream, and add in a little erythritol (Aldi’s sells a huge bag for $7) for a latte. Or I use the same sweetner substitute and a peppermint or tumeric teabag. On the road, it’s easy to carry teabags with you and just find some hot water.
Next, I get ready for bed. I make this a full ordeal with a skincare and oral care routine (more about that in the future), vitamins, and pajamas that I really like. These are my current favorites I got off amazon.
(that’s not me)
Next, I get a gummy melatonin. These are one of the only sweets and only carbs I get throughout the day, so I really look forward to this (lol(. But, more importantly, these things work. I’ve been prescribed every sleep aid under the sun, and this is honestly my best experience. I fall asleep right away, stay asleep all night, and am never groggy.
Finally, I put my phone away (no doomscolling) and turn on an audiobook or podcast. Being read to knocks me out so fast. I set a sleep timer for about 15 minutes in the app so I can always figure out where I left off the next day. There’s also a few apps that offer free evening meditations, hypnosis, or sound machines. I find these techniques also work pretty well.
As I’ve mentioned, I have a gluten allergy which means I can’t eat most bread items. I also try to eat very low carb. That means basic gluten free substitutes don’t work for me either. Fortunately, I’ve found some really good KETO bread substitutes!
These are all Trader Joe’s finds, which in my opinion is the greatest company to ever grace us with its presence. If you have a TJ’s within an hour, these are all worth a trip, but if that isn’t an option for you look for an Aldi’s. Aldi’s is a sister company of Trader Joe’s and carries many similar options. Each of these has 3 carbs or less and is gluten free. If you’re looking for similar items, be sure to check the carb count on the back (net carbs equal carbs minus fiber). A lot of items will advertise as Keto or low-carb that aren’t, so watch the numbers! Remember full Keto is under 20 grams of carbs a day, and a true low carb diet is 30-50 grams of carbs.
Lox and Bagel
I simply love lox and bagel (sans the red onion). I use the cauliflower bread as a substitute when I get this craving and basically recreate the dish for under 5 grams of carbs. I use a whipped cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers on top. Great dish in under 5 minutes as well!
Keto Breakfast Tacos
I don’t care for Texas, but I do like their breakfast tacos tradition. Using the Jicama wraps (crisp in the oven for 10 minutes), I add scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado or guacamole, and salsa. Super filling, and again, way under 10 grams of carbs.
Using the pictured cheese wrap, I like to stuff the shell with either lettuce or a lentil, a protein (or meat substitute), and a sauce. Another super fast, filling, low carb meal to make regularly. (Don’t try to heat this, it will melt. Instead let the inner contents warm it up and shape the shell around them)
I’m breaking this trip into at least two parts, maybe more! I’m only on day 3 and already have so much to tell you.
A couple of my good friends have been working for the Jorgenson campaign and I have been so inspired by their work. Jo is the first female I’ll ever get to vote for for president (because I vote on principle, not body parts). I’m aligned with her, but I’m also super impressed by her stances. She’s a pragmatic libertarian who is actually talking about consistent individual liberty issues. She’s not afraid to tackle racism and meaningful criminal justice reform. Best of all, her road team happens to all be female too!
I decided to take some time off and volunteer for her this week. I believe in her message, and I believe in breaking the two-party system. Due to arbitrary barriers put in place by the two major parties, we can only do that by increasing the percentage of people voting for third parties. So, I’m using my time off to do my civic duty and lend my time and energy to a cause I care about.
(True girl power is the kind that works to break barriers for others)
Saturday, I flew into Billings, MT and met up with the campaign for their event in a public park. The airport was the smallest I’d ever seen, and people were sitting around little round tables in the small waiting area, chatting with each other, and having coffee. Cute!
As you can tell from the picture, the air quality was really bad in Montana because of the fires. So while the park was lovely, we didn’t get the big, beautiful, blue skies the state is known for. It was nice to check Montana off my states list, but I’ll have to go back and see more of it as it was a very short experience. As soon as the event wrapped we took off on the bus for Rapid City, SD. (I traveled just shy of 24 straight hours Saturday).
Life on a bus is…lovely!…as long you also have a hotel in the evening. The interior is comfortable and up to date, you have wifi and chargers on board. There’s plenty of snacks, great views through the big windows, and comfortable bunks. I love the feeling of being rocked to sleep, and each bunk has it’s own heating/air, lighting, and charging ports.
The bathroom is tiny and I can’t imagine showering in it, but fortunately we’re not having to.
[There’ll be a full bus tour available on my instagram stories today]
Rapid City, SD is very small, but compared to the rest of the region it is a bustling metropolis. This has to be one of the most sparsely populated places I’ve ever been. It felt like the wild, wild west, but interestingly enough, it’s dead center of the country and parts of the state are even on central time.
The downtown has iron statues of all the presidents located on each corner – true to size and displaying their hobbies or other identifiers. They’re only missing Trump due to the fact they don’t install the models until after a president completes their term. We had SO much fun with this. We played a game of President Cab in the evening, driving around and trying to guess the statues before jumping out to identify the plaques. Since there was no other traffic in town, this was fine and not dangerous. 🙂
Our first morning in town we went to Tally’s Silver Spoon for brunch. I was super impressed! They had gluten free substitutes for everything, a duck confit on the menu, and their mimosas came with a full jug of champagne. Who knew Rapid City was so advanced?
Our evening event took place at the local Civic Center in town. Not only did we have a great turnout, incredible media coverage, and a beautiful backdrop, but we also got to see a piece of the Berlin Wall on display in the park.
We wrapped up our first night in Rapid City at the Hotel Alex Johnson. This is the nicest joint in town, they have a full wall showcasing all of their former celebrity guests. It’s a charming lodge-styled hotel and the only high rise downtown. On top of the hotel is the members only bar, Vertex. We had a connection that got us in and finished the night overlooking the town surrounded by fire pits. It was a cute atmosphere, but I can’t lie, I was even more impressed with the sports bar attached to the hotel’s base.
Again with the gluten free food! Gluten free beer, gluten free pizza, I couldn’t get these options in the heart of Manhattan. Paddy’s Irish Pub & Grill, I will be back mark my words. Best of all, the local news coverage showcasing our event aired in the bar while we were there.
This last dish was off limits for me because it was fried, but it is apparently a South Dakota traditional dish. It’s called Chislic. Basically it is deep fried steak or lamb dipped in a BBQ type sauce.
I’ll be back with Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands next week!
Up until last year, I only got my spray tans from a person or from a Versa machine. And while I still prefer that experience (all you have to do is stand there), I haven’t had them at my disposal as readily in SC or during COVID. Due to that, I’ve been turning to self-tanner products and I’ve settled on this one.
I was previously paying $50 for a tiny bottle of Tan Luxe. This, in comparison, is $17 and a much bigger bottle. I get at least 7-8 sessions out of it. It’s also far easier to use, it’s just a foam you rub in, and it doesn’t smell terribly. Apply post-shower, leave on for 4-6 hours, and then rinse. It’s a super natural looking color and lasts for about a week. You can buy a light, medium, or dark shade (I use dark), and it’s available at Target.
I had to fly American Airlines this week, so I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you why you shouldn’t. In fact, you should only fly Southwest if at all, humanly, possible. It wasn’t an option for me this week since I was flying from Greenville to Billings (both pretty small airports), but that situation is a rarity.
Let me tell you what flying on Southwest is like. Everyone is nice to you. Reallllly nice. Like they are so stoked to meet you and be nice to you. If you have to check a bag you have many options – curbside, screens where you can quickly check yourself in and drop your bag, or a full service counter that rarely has a wait. They’ll typically let you fudge a pound or two on your weight limits, don’t charge you for bags, and streamline everything you could possibly need to know about your flight in their app.
They don’t oversell their flights, charge for extra leg room, or hassle you about bag space at the gate (because they let people check bags for free, so the cabin isn’t overcrowded). Everyone boards in a neat, orderly fashion that goes very quickly because people can just pick where they want to sit (and again, don’t have to store so many bags).
Every seat has ample room and the customer service continues throughout the flight. Wifi is $8 for the day, alcoholic drinks are $8, plenty of other snacks and sodas are offered, and the attendants are funny and personable. Best of all, I fly all the time and am hardly ever delayed (much less cancelled). I’m given vouchers for even the slightest inconveniences. I earn tons of points per flight, so many that I rarely have to buy a personal route. I can change my flights without a fee, show up and fly standby at no extra cost, and they’ve even covered for me when I missed a flight in the past. These people are just total gems.
Now. Everything I said about Southwest? The exact opposite was true on American. Wifi was $14 and didn’t even cover the next flight when you had a layover. Boarding was convoluted. My seat space was tiny (I’m 5’7 and I don’t know how anyone taller than me fits). They nickel-and-dimed me the entire time and never provided quality service. I’m not even bothering to track my points because honestly, I never want to fly them again (and their point system blows anyways).
Fly Southwest. Make a frequent flyer number. If you get 25 segments in one year you will be A-list and at that point your experience will be even better. When you’re A-list they check you in and you’re always in the first 30 or so to board. They start giving you extra points per mile. You have your own dedicated check-in lane and telephone number. If you stay with one airline, 25 segments in a year is achievable for a lot of people and totally worth any extra funds you might spend per flight (though I usually find SW prices to be comparable or even cheaper than others). If you fly 100 segments in a year they actually give you their companion pass – which means you can have someone fly free with you for an entire year. There’s no greater perk in the airline industry.
Southwest doesn’t offer first class or lounges, its one flaw. But, the point systems with the major airlines are so bad that you’ll rarely be upgraded anyways, and unless your employer is willing to pay a premium it just isn’t worth the additional price. I would only change my advice if someone were flying internationally for work, in which case you might get enough points to make Delta a good bet. But for most of us traveling around America, it doesn’t get better than Southwest.
If you’re not A-list and want premium boarding, you can purchase their early bird check-in for $15 each way. This used to be a better deal, but now will usually still have you in B-group. Boarding positions A1-15 are reserved for people who purchase the business option (I only ever purchase the Wanna Get Away rate). A15-? is reserved for A-list or A-list preferred customers, so depending on how many there are on the flight your early bird purchase will only put you in line where they end. Personally, I would just set an alarm for your departure time and be sure to check-in to your flight exactly 24 hours beforehand. That will get you as good of a boarding position as early bird.
Off to explore Sioux Falls today, see ya next week!