A milestone quietly passed by last week without any sort of fanfare or recognition.
This blog turned eight years old.
When I first set up the blog, under the arduously long address of ericcastillo.blogspot.com, I was 19 years old. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. A couple of years later, I purchased the followeric.com domain name. The blog became a way for people to follow my journey as I moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Enid, Oklahoma and back.
A large focus of the blog in recent years has been on my support of local businesses and restaurants, especially when it comes to the food trucks, breweries, and coffee shops I frequent. There's another aspect I haven't highlighted as much but I want to begin focusing on in the coming weeks and months.
If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram then you might know about some of the trips I've been on recently. I spent my birthday week, including Canada Day and Independence Day, up in the Pacific Northwest. I joined a group of strangers I met online through Couchsurfing.com for a short road trip out to the Grand Canyon. I have some more trips up my sleeve that I can't wait to share with you.
I haven't shared enough on the blog itself and I still encourage you to find me on your social media site of choice but I plan on using this site more often as I embark on some exciting journeys ahead.
And since I haven't said it in awhile, thanks for following.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Chris from ABQ NewsCastic asked me to join him on The Morning Brew with Larry Ahrens and run down a list of ten of my favorite coffee shops in Albuquerque. Watch the clip and let me know what you thought.
I had a lot of fun doing it and hope to be back on the show again in the future.
Coffee shops mentioned:
Michael Thomas Coffee
Cafe Bella Coffee
If you haven't already, make sure you're following both ABQ NewsCastic and The Morning Brew with Larry Ahrens on Facebook. Oh, and Follow Eric.
Friday, July 25, 2014
The last two years in a row I've been lucky enough to place in the Top 5 Best Bloggers in Albuquerque the Magazine's Best of the City awards. It'd be great to clinch the top spot this year.
You can help me do it.
Follow the link below to vote. Keep in mind you can only vote once. There are a bunch of categories. You can vote in however many categories you want and you don't have to live in Albuquerque to vote. Just don't skip the one for "Best Blogger" under the "Best People" heading. Write in "Follow Eric" and click submit at the bottom.
Voting ends August 1st so go vote right now:
Thank you kindly!
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Sometimes it's okay to be a tourist.
The "tourist" label has received a lot of bad press among travel bloggers. "Tourist" is a bad word. "Don't be a tourist, be a traveler."
I completely understand the sentiment behind that statement and I try to keep it in mind during my travels. I even have my own saying for each travel blogathon:
"It's not a vacation, it's an exploration."
But for me, that doesn't mean I won't stop to enjoy some of the more "touristy" aspects of a place. When you're in New York City, you're going to see the Statue of Liberty. When in Paris, you're going to see the Eiffel Tower.
And when in Seattle, it's okay to check out the Space Needle.
In fact, it's the first thing I did after the Greyhound ride from Vancouver and checking in to my hostel. It was the second stop during the Pacific Northwest Blogathon and City Hostel Seattle was just a short walk to the Space Needle. So why not knock it off my list right away?
I'm glad I did. And I picked a good time to go seeing as the sun was just getting low in the sky. It made for a beautiful view of the sun setting and golden hour hitting the entire city of Seattle.
And it gave me a better appreciation for the size and scope of the city. I had expected to meet a friend in Seattle but our plans fell through at the last minute and I was left without prior research or any clue about what to do. And that was entirely okay with me because I've learned as I travel that plans have a tendency of working themselves out. It goes against logic but I've also learned that overplanning can kill a trip as effectively as anything.
Speaking of planning, when you're in Seattle, make time for the Space Needle. Go during sunrise or sunset. It's worth the twenty bucks to ride to the top. And just before you hop on the elevator, you'll be given the option of taking a free picture in front of a green screen. By all means, take it. It's free. It's ridiculous. And sometimes they hand you a giant plastic salmon. Just go with it.
But for the love of all that is good about travel, do not eat at the ridiculous spinning restaurant.
Friday, July 11, 2014
After announcing the first stop of the Pacific Northwest Blogathon was Vancouver, I had a few people ask me what most were probably thinking: "Why Canada?"
My first answer was usually "Why not?" but for those who really wanted to know and had the time, I told them this story...
I remember clearly the first time I became aware that Canada Day was an actual thing. I was in high school, planning to meet up with friends to celebrate my birthday. My birthday, June 30th, is immediately followed by Canada Day on July 1st, and that was when we happened to be meeting.
We had plans to head out bowling or something but we decided to first meet up at Frontier Restaurant. While waiting for everyone to get there, I noticed a small band of protestors across the street, waving signs at the passing traffic. On closer inspection, I realized they were protesting against Canada. Their signs read "Down with Canada" and "Fear our neighbors to the north" with crude drawings of maple leaves.
Even though their "Blame Canada" signs were more farce than serious grievance, we still didn't want their nonsense to go unanswered. After all, we had a Canadian amongst our group. Well, half-Canadian at least. (Kathy, I miss you so much.)
So we gathered together, drove over to Walgreens, bought posterboard and markers, and made our own pro-Canada signs. We drove back and set up our own band of sign-wavers and spent the next couple of hours in support of our Canadian neighbors. We had tons of fun doing it, we got plenty of honks, and we we even had some people join our cause.
It was easily one of my most memorable birthday celebrations. We ended up going nowhere else that day. Instead, we headed back into Frontier and spent about $20 on a huge feast for everyone. If you've been to Frontier, you know twenty bucks will stretch pretty far.
Fast forward ten years later to July 1st of 2014. I finally had the opportunity to celebrate Canada Day where it's meant to be celebrated--in Canada. It was pretty much everything I expected. Lots of white and red, lots of Canadian flags, and lots of friendly people.
I watched the parade and fireworks, inviting a couple of Chileans I had just met not even an hour earlier at Samesun Backpackers hostel (great place, btw), and made whole new Canada Day memories.
|The majority of my view was cameras and the backs of people's heads.|
|These little flags were everywhere.|
|Inexplicably, Darth Vader was there.|
There'll be more stories from the Pacific Northwest Blogathon coming soon.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
When it comes to a Blogathon, I keep a simple motto in mind: "It's not a vacation, it's an exploration."
In that spirit, I try to delve into the local offerings of the places I visit, choosing local restaurants and businesses over chains whenever possible--just like I do here at home in Albuquerque.
This next trip is going to be bigger than any Blogathon before it. For one thing, it'll be my first foray out of the country.
Where am I going? That's a secret.
When am I leaving? My flight takes off Monday, June 30th, which also happens to be my 27th birthday.
If you want to get day to day updates, make sure you're following at least one of my pages:
Once the trip is over, I'll be culling through the pics and sharing my favorite memories here on Follow Eric.
Thursday, January 02, 2014
If you haven't noticed, it's been a good while since I've posted an update here. That's because much of the blogging activity is happening over on Tumblr. I'm still debating whether or not to make a full transition (including domain name) but for now, please visit follow-eric.tumblr.com for all the latest.
Monday, October 07, 2013
It's that time of year again. Time for hot air balloonists from around the world to descend on Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta.
As a local, it's always a mark of shame when I can't make it out to one of the nine days the fiesta is in operation. This year I didn't want to let that happen.
So I made plans with a friend to go out bright and early this morning. And by bright and early, I really mean dark and early. We were out on the field by 5:30 a.m., before the big crowds and before the sun had a chance to rise.
We wanted to catch the Dawn Patrol--the first set of balloons that take off before the sun comes up. They give other balloonists an idea of where the winds might take them that morning and make for a spectacular sight in the starry sky.
After the Dawn Patrol has lifted off, it's time for everyone else to prepare for the Mass Ascension. As a kid, the name always made me think of some religious service you might find scheduled at a Catholic church. As an adult I realize the Mass Ascension really does resemble a religious experience, with hundreds of balloons decorating the cathedral of the sky like stained glass.
One of the unique aspects of the Balloon Fiesta is the freedom everyone has to walk around the field as the balloonists unravel and inflate in preparation for liftoff. It brings out the kid in everyone.
If you've never been to a fiesta, even if you live in another state, you have to go. And if you're a local who can't find the time to go, make the time. It's worth it. Absolutely worth it.
More info: balloonfiesta.com