If you've been following along with our Guide to the Perfect Summer, you know that one big part of it is exploring — your neighborhood, your city, anywhere. We've dedicated so much time on this subject because we really believe in the power of being present, soaking up your surroundings and finding adventure just around the corner. We think it's one of the best cures to boredom and a way to stay in love with where you live.
The top photo from this post was actually taken during one of my favorite exploration outings. I was in Smithville, Texas exploring their historic downtown.
Lots of small towns in Texas have an adorable historic downtown, with old buildings and tons of character, and Smithville's no exception. I came across some interesting tile in front of one of the buildings and was taking a photo when the door opened. It was an older man with bright, smiling eyes, wondering what I was doing outside his house!
The older man turned out to be Tom Tierney, the famous paper doll artist, and he invited me (and my then boyfriend — walking into stranger's homes alone is not advised!) in, giving us a tour of his gorgeous (tall tin ceilings, tons of charm) building that was a storefront, studio and apartment. He also gave us a tour of his amazing life, that included fashion illustration, movie poster design, night club singing, paper dolls (of course) and a whole other slew of envy-inducing stories from 1960s and 70s New York (he was even photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe — and had the photo proofs to prove it). He took us into his studio where he's still creating new paper doll books and showed us his work process. I could have listened to him talk all day — such inspiration for how to live a full, creative life.
It's these accidental moments of intense inspiration that fuel my adventures in exploring — even when it's in small or near places that don't seem all that special.
What fuels your travels? What's one of your favorite stories of inspiration, surprise or discovery while out exploring some new place for the first time? Tell us your best travel or exploring stories — whether they've happened this summer inspired by our summer guide or happened years ago. We want to hear them!