Touring America by Train

Christmas night we left on an adventure that took us through 14 states, stopped in 5 cities over the course of 15 days by train! We embarked on this sabbatical from life (and social media) touring the great American Mid West along the railroad, just like the olden days. 

The Train, a foamers delight

*Foamer: someone who loves trains, like this guy

We both fly a lot, and were eager to try the train. The best thing about traveling by train is the ease. You just show up a few minutes before it arrives and hop on. The conductor checks you have a ticket, then you can choose your own seat. There is no security checks at any point. We carried our luggage on, but you can check it if you’d prefer. They say the train is the civilized way to travel, and I couldn’t agree more!

I was able to stop and reflect and think about where I want to be this coming year, and make a plan on how to get there, a task easier completed without cell service.

Craft Pride in Austin, Texas

Craft Pride in Austin, Texas

Cost

We bought a $459 15 day rail pass each. This gives you 8 segments, which is how many times you can stop depending on your route. We parked at the Anaheim train station (which is free parking). Here we used up two segments on the way and back to go to LA Union Station, which is where our journey began. Another leg from Austin Texas to Chicago was two segments to get there, so in the end we had five stops allowed. You have to sort of puzzle it out and book your trips before you go. You can’t wing it and get off just anywhere. 

Our Route

Anaheim > Los Angeles (boarded at night)

Los Angeles > Austin, Texas (Two nights on the train)

Austin, Texas > Chicago, Illinois (One night on the bus due to weather)

Chicago, Illinois > Whitefish, Montana (One night on the train)

Whitefish, Montana > Seattle, Washington (One night on the train)

Seattle, Washington > Los Angeles (One night on the train)

Los Angeles > Anaheim 

Heyy Montana!

Heyy Montana!

Train Vibes

People are considerate, and friendly for the most part. At night I put headphones and an eye mask and a blanket and shut the world out. The conductors monitor the train day and night, so there is no trouble ever :D

The train bounces along and is a really soothing and fun ride. We had our reserved coach seats, but spent most the time in the Observation Deck, which was usually surprisingly pretty empty. We did not upgrade to beds, and slept in the chairs over night on the train in-between stops in hotels. This was a little rough for me, I suggest upgrading if you can afford the extra $300 a night.

We made reservations in the dining room car a few times, and they sit you with other people, so that you can make friends. My husband dreads small talk as if it were depleting his very existence, so we only went once, haha! The cafe car has a good turkey sandwich and they sell microwavable pizzas and snacks that are all double or triple the store price, including $7 single serving wines and beers :/  You can bring your own food and liquor, but keep the booze on the DL. 

The best leg

I eagerly awaited the trip down the California coast from Seattle to Los Angeles, but have to admit that was the worst leg. We had a four hour delay from a power outage that caused us to miss many of the beautiful sites as darkness set. The people on this journey were also noticeably obnoxious and heavily complained about the delay. My favorite route was from LA to Austin, where the train snakes down along the Mexican border. The desert landscape wildly changes from hour to hour, changing from red rocks, to sweeping cactus covered hills. The train stopped in El Paso, right next to the fence dividing the US from Mexico where it snowed while I stood in line to get handmade enchiladas. 

We had a funny thing happen in Missouri. The state suffered severe flooding, so we were ushered of the train onto the Little Rock fleet of tour busses at midnight. We drove all through the darkness passing along flooded ravines with haunting porch light eliminating floating cars and submerged homes. The bouncing bus and upright seats made it difficult to sleep with my head bobbing all over the place. After tying my head to the back seat with my scarf, I managed to sleep a few solid hours. Morning light brought sights of the St. Louis Arch and a welcome switch back on the train, which scooted us along to enjoy Chicago in time for New Years. 

No use in complaining, it’s all part of the adventure right?!

Recommendations

The ideal train trip would be one night in a sleeper car from Portland, Oregon to Whitefish, Montana for a Christmas Holiday with a nice bottle of wine and a smorgasbord of fine cheeses while listening to Serial season one, watching Fargo, and reading Wool under a comfy blanket. 

Feel free to ask questions if you decide to try the train!

mary@shoprisingblue.com 

BANGKOK BEAUTY

I have found home in Thailand, the Land of Smiles. One of my best girl friends Kaew from Bangkok modeled for me. She is a badass chick and talented swimwear designer. Her and I had many adventures and fun times. She also happens to be really beautiful in a natural way. I love her mocha skin and big Thai smile. 

She is wearing pieces from the new Crystal Cove Collection that is launching for the Holiday season. Enjoy!


Maria in Phuket, Thialand

Last weekend I hopped on a plane from Bangkok to visit and old friend, a French girl I worked alongside during my design days at Quiksilver. She lived in France, and we chatted frequently, but only met a few times. She invited me down, and I couldn't pass it up! We had a blast, I snorkled, went in a waterfall, motorbiked around and saw the Big Buddha. The Panang Curry was my favorite Southern dish. Epic times.

While on the island of Phuket, I decided to squeeze in a photoshoot. I messaged Maria, a local girl through instagram. Maria is a Russian babe who up and moved from her home town to Thailand with out any connections, or ability to speak Thai or English, the two most common languages, She quickly learned from her job as a photographer on a tour boat with an all Thai crew. Hell yes, she is an inspiration!

I enjoyed taking her photos or the RISING BLUE + PREMANITA LINGERIE collab. Enjoy!

SAM

Shooting local girl Sam in our hometown of Seal Beach. Sam is a country girl with a perm and a warm heart. She is in amazing shape, loves her boyfriend, her friends and is enthusiastic about it all. 

follow sam @savageesamm 


How to start a business

Here are all of the 20 steps I have taken so far to set up my business. I struggled to figure it out, so thought I would share and maybe save you some time. 

It is listed in order. It has been about 4 weeks to get all of this accomplished, but you can certainly start doing other business things in the mean time ;)

Legal Zoom is a great resource for some of this stuff. You can pay them to help you set up the business, but for me it was better to do it on my own. Go here also for contracts. 

Make a nice cup of coffee & a little music, this might take a while..

1 | 1 Password

Use this to store all of your passwords and numbers. It make filling out paperwork SO much easier

https://agilebits.com/onepassword

2 | PO Box

Make sure to bring a utility bill

You can only have a PO Box in the city that you live

3 | Pick a Name

Do a search here for business names

Search Google as well to see what pops up

Tip- A name with two words is easier!

4 | California Statement of Information

http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/be/forms.htm

I recommend using an LLC

5 | Name Reservation

http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/corp/pdf/naavreservform.pdf

6 | Domain Name

https://instantdomainsearch.com

7 | Insta handle

Try to make it simple- no spaces or underscores

8 | Website

Wordpress- ThemeForest has some nice options

Squarespace -Easy drag and drop interface, this is what I use

9 | Link Domain name with website

Squarespace tutorial

Wordpress tutorial

10 | Google App for Work

Use this to set up emails that link with your business name

Store files on Google Drive

11 | Payment Processor

Stripe or Paypal, but Stripe is waaaay better

This is integrated within Squarespace which I love.

12 | Business License

http://www.boe.ca.gov/info/reg.htm

13 | EIN -Employee Identification Number

https://sa.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp

14 | Tax Number

https://efile.boe.ca.gov/ereg/index.boe

15 | Business Checking

I went with Chase. It is free as long as there is a min of $1500 in the acct every month.

16 | Mileage Plus number

United 

American Airlines

17 | Credit Card

United Explorer Plus Chase Credit Card is what I went with

No Foreign transaction fees

Wait a week to make sure your business license is registered. 

18 | Sellers Permit

https://efile.boe.ca.gov/ereg/index.boe

At the bottom add yourself as a “Manager”, then add yourself again as a member/manager. This is the hardest part

It will ask you for a NAICS code. Just pick one that corresponds the best here

For Payment Processor I use Stripe, then your business name as the “Merchant Card Processor Account”. For me that is Rising Blue (It is NOT a number)

Add Supplier: I don’t know if this is correct, but I just listed my own company and left the BOE# blank.

19 | Square Card Reader

https://squareup.com

20 | Happy Selling!

 

MIAMI SWIM WEEK

I love bikinis almost as much as jewelry! Here are my favs from last week's Miami Swim Week.


Kickstarter

After traveling through Asia, designing the first collection Rising Blue  was launched through Kickstarter, a crowd funding website. The project was successfully funded :D  Read more about the project here

Sydney's Royal National Forest

I was lucky enough to make friends with some cool people in Sydney and road trip with them out to the Royal National Park in Sydney It was one of the most picturesque moments of my whole trip.

 

We hiked over rolling grassy hills barefoot in the mud at dawn. When we finally parked ourselves on the sand, we found a little leech had firmly attached himself to my girlfriends shoe. While the boys paddled out for a surf, @Jeerish and I had a little impromptu photo shoot.  All in all, an epic day!

Jeerish is not a model, but just one of those beautiful people that the light just shines out of. I love these photos so much. Enjoy!

Cruising with the locals

We hung out with my jewelry maker, Nengah and his family. He's like my bestie down here in Bali :D   We went out to Tabanan, which is at the foothills of the mountains, and deep in the rice patties. We road in a van packed with kids, bags of rice, offerings, street food, and jewelry.

We talked business on the way up the mountain and his son schooled me on my bahasa Indonesian, laughing every time I said something wrong. Fricken 8 year old's, ha!

The highlight was visiting their villages. We met the whole fam and ate Durian fruit. They roast coffee beans (dried in the sun) and made us a fresh cup of Bali Coffee, which has the grounds at the bottoms. They laughed when we told them that cup would be 40,000 rupiah ($4) in the states.

Later we went to see Ayuk's brother who was off road racing with the Bali motor-cross team. They race 5 hours through the jungle. It was wild.

Then we saw her other brother who runs an ATV park, where you ride through the rice patties. I was scared to ride, so the 10 year old cousin took the wheel. It was funny.

It was a good day. I am so blessed to have met Nengah.

 

Design Handover

Today my jewelry maker took me to his village. We talked with his beautiful wife about family, their dreams for the future, and of course jewelry.

Afterwords, we traveled to another village to visit his friend who will help make my order. His sweet son brought me a tea and practiced his English. I am the village spectacle for the children haha!

They live in a little street with all of their family. The whole lot of them are creative entrepreneurs. His brother in the room next door was meeting with someone about making surfboard racks.

I am so thankful to have found these guys and cannot wait until they have my table in the workshop :) I'll be sitting in the heat making samples right along side them.

All in all, a good HBD ✖️

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Sourcing Abroad

A little research beforehand helps, but one really needs to be here to really find the true talent Bali has to offer.

I'm a friendly gal and a little smile goes a long way here. I am always making conversation, and before you know it I am on the back of the motorbike headed to a hidden home factory.

This is why I love it here.

Here is a little home villa/factory that I stumbled upon. It is next to a beautiful temple and on right on the beach.

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7 Apps that run my life

I'LL GLADLY TRADE SITTING AT A DESK FOR LAYING ON THE BEACH

I am Currently attending XOXO Fest in Portland, which is An experimental festival celebrating independently-produced art and technology. Including cool people like Kevin Kelly from Wired Magazine, Hrishikesh Hirway from Song Exploder, Dan Harmon from Community and Anita Sarkeesian from the highly controversial FEMINIST FREQUENCY. In honor of all things tech, I thought I would share a few tools I currently use to automate my life. 

MY BUSINESS AND LIFE PLAN

>> Sleep when I am tired, even at 3pm

>> Work when I have the drive, which is usually all hours

>> Create day and night

>> Be better than the time before, be it my left jab or editing a collection

>> Eat well and travel often

>> Go to the Beach on the daily

Here is how I am doing it. No secrets from my friends ;)

IFTTT // IF THIS THEN THAT // 1

I use it to send my instagram photos to flickr and save insta likes to a folder on my google drive. 

 

YOGA STUDIO // 2

I try to sweat every day and use this app when I can’t get to my Muay Thai training session. When I am physical I sleep better and enjoy food more.

 

EVERNOTE // 3

My coach put it best, calling it an “Idea junk drawer”. I save websites, ideas, blog drafts, and any thing that pops in my head. 

 

THINGS // 4

Make lists, check that shit off. Stick to deadlines. Use it to organize your projects. 

 

YNAB / YOU NEED A BUDGET// 5

Spend, type it in, spend type it in. I suck at money, but this helps

 

1 PASSWORD // 6

Don’t be scared. DO it. It is better then Livingthedream69 for everything. Trust me.

 

TRIPCASE // 7

I am not one to print out boarding passes and organize it in a tidy folder.  So not being a “planner” this helps me track my flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. It is so easy. 

 

 

I am always trying to free up my time from tasks that I hate so I can make things instead. Try them out and let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestions!