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In order for me to feel like I am really on vacation, the weather, landscape and ecologies need to look and feel completely different from those that I am used to in Los Angeles. Hawaii and Florida were my family’s vacation destinations growing up, and these landscapes ingrained expectations of what a “vacation” should feel like. The more differences I can feel and see while visiting a new location, the more I feel like I am on a real vacation.

During the past Thanksgiving holiday while on a family trip I felt this very sense of “getting away from it all”. My family traveled to New Orleans, where it definitely felt cooler and more humid. New Orleans is a unique city with distinct buildings, streets and parks, all very different from Los Angeles. And as always, I was in awe of the gorgeous large oak trees strewn throughout Jackson Square.

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Later, we boarded a cruise ship to head off to the Western Caribbean – that’s when our surroundings really changed. From our ship’s small balcony I could observe the changes in the surface of the water we were traveling over on a daily basis. The water began smooth, with flowing brown currents of the Mississippi River emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf, we hit much rougher water with stronger winds and higher waves, accompanied with warmer air temperatures and more blue water tones. Navy colored waves with white caps dotted the ocean surface, eventually turning into lighter shades of blue, then shades of turquoise as we arrived at ports in Honduras, and Mexico. Belize and Costa Maya. Choppier, darked hued waters with higher waves were followed by occasional warm rainstorms that drenched us then quickly dissipated at some of the ports we stopped at. Our journey across the ocean and its varying oceanic landscape definitely felt like a vacation.

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