Laura Fortune

No 'Welcome to Washington'

Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura FortuneComment

This morning I took the opportunity to swing by my friends business he has with his business partner.  They are J & S Signs of Portland.  I have been really interested in sign painting and I wanted to say Hi, and also see what their studio is like.  It was a nice visit and they were generous with their time and information.  It was cool to see them in action for a little bit, and they even let me mess around on a sample board.


I pressed on and drove back to the northeast tip of the Oregon coast.  I wanted to check out Cannon Beach and Astoria.  Cannon Beach was cute, but it was a gorgeous Friday afternoon and it was busy with visitors.  I had seen this environment before, it’s a upscale beach town at the beginning of a weekend.  It was the Hamptons of the west.  I moved on to Astoria, and after having the best crab melt sandwich, I headed north towards Seattle.  There was no “Welcome to Washington” sign upon my entrance, only a small “entering Washington State” that was barely noticeable.  But I made it to Washington State.  In Seattle, I was to have one more Renegade show and to spend sometime with my cousin.  This evening he built a fire in his backyard and we talked until late night.  I had a good visit with him.

Trail of Ten Falls

National Park, Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura Fortune1 Comment

July 20

I continued along the coast of Oregon


 Today I took a right turn and headed east to the middle of Oregon.  I drove through beautiful farmland as the landscape changed drastically from the coastline.


I made it to Silver Falls State Park where someone told me of a hike where you can see 10 waterfalls.  I took a shorter version, as I had to land in Portland by early evening.  I hiked for 5 miles and it was so prehistoric.  So much of Oregon is covered in giant green trees and green moss and huge rocks and it just seems like one can imagine dinosaurs being nearby.


I made it to Portland this evening and stayed with a friend who had just spent 6 months of last year on a roadtrip around the US in a Westfalia Van with her boyfriend.  She got it.  We talked about life on the road and life after being on the road and life after NYC and just life in general.  I am so thankful for these moments I’ve had to really connect with people along this journey.

Daylight Brings Relief

Life Learning, National Park, Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura Fortune1 Comment

July 19

It wasn’t a great nights sleep.  I had crazy dreams, some of them involved various ways intruders where entering my tent.  It’s a strange thing to dream about a scary scenario while you are actually in that place.  I also heard an animal sniffing around during the night, but a few sleeping bag movements scared it away.  The sun came up eventually, and daylight brings relief. 


I took a little walk around my camp area and found a patch of wild orchids.  I brought a few along to freshen up my traveling flower arrangement and also admired the morning fog.


I packed up and got back on the road.  I passed by a sign that said the Drive-Thru Tree was up the road a little.  I figured, why not?  I drove up at 8:30am, and it was closed.  No Trespassing.  Seeing a one-way road that was most likely the exit to the tourist destination, I thought to just see how it would be to drive down.  I definitely trespassed.  I drove up to the tree, but didn’t have the balls to drive through.  The area was so cheesy with wood carvings of bears and animals and the tree looked plastic and a gift shop was directly behind it.  I snapped a picture and got out of there.

These long winding roads can be tiring and slow or quick with sharp turns, and it’s hard not to want to pull over every 10 minutes to marvel at each view that comes about.  I also felt really grumpy and deflated on most of these days.  I thought this roadtrip would clear my head and give me good time to feel a certain way about a place or what my next step is, and I just wasn’t feeling that way, not yet. 


I crossed the Oregon state line and encountered more beauty and rode past an old thrift store I thought I would stop at.  The guy behind the counter was the owner and he had no front teeth and claimed he had an apartment above the store and had not left the space in 3 months.  He said he would like to go the beach or something, but he would have to go alone, and what’s the point of that?  Well, I bought a utility knife and wished him well. 

I found a campground north of Coos Bay, OR along the Oregon Dunes National Park, and I found a place I felt comfortable with and set up.  Flower vase on the picnic table.

I went for a sunset hike to see these dunes, and I was struck.  I never knew this landscape existed anywhere besides a sandy desert.  It was the most beautiful sight.


That night I had a knife added to my bedside set-up, and it began raining in the middle of the night, which has the ablitity to sound very much like footsteps.  But it was a better nights sleep.  And daylight brought relief.

Highway 1

Life Learning, Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura FortuneComment

July 18

Last night I stayed in San Francisco with the high school friend and we went to a Giants vs. Indians baseball game.  We had a blast, we barely watched the game but we just chatted about life and family and boys and we just really had a great time together.


This morning I left early and headed north to Highway 1.  This is a highway that curves and bends all up along the California and Oregon coast. 

I knew this was going to be a long drive that would take a few days as it’s not a straight shot like an Interstate would be.  I wanted to take the time to see this coastline, and wow.  Good call.


I stopped at Bodega Bay for some of the best fish tacos, and I stopped for a little hike at Bowling Ball Beach.  The tide was too high to see the large amount of big rocks shaped like balls, but still a nice time to get out and explore.


As sundown approached, I decided it was time for me to stop and find the place where I would sleep for the night.  I have two Apps that I use.  'Camp & Tent' shows were all the campsites are in any area, and 'Boondocking' is the same concept.  Boondocking is appealing because it is free, but as I pulled into an dirt lot along the coast with other vans and RVs parked up for the night, I thought I might like to see what the campsites have to offer.  What I really knew was that I need to pull-off the band-aid on solo tent camping.  I had never done it, and I was going to need to begin getting comfortable with it. 

I landed north of Fort Bragg, CA at the Westport-Union Landing State Park.  I drove around for a while, considering what I should do.  Did I feel safe?  Is it worth the $35 State Park charge?  Can I actually do this on my own or get any sleep this way? 

I found a spot on the coast and two sites down I saw an RV that didn’t seem to have people in it, but on their picnic table was a vase with an arrangement of wildflowers.  I was also traveling with a vase and some flowers by my side in the cup holder of my van, and this felt like a warm and kind sign for me.  I set my vase of flowers out on my picnic table and began to set-up my tent and watch the sunset.  And as the sun went down, I climbed into my tent and fell asleep. 


No Friend Left Behind

Family, Life Learning, RoadtripLaura FortuneComment

July 16

Saturday night after the show, I drove over to a friends house in Oakland where I would be staying for the weekend.  We lazed on her couch and caught up for a bit.  Then we drove into the city and I met-up with a good friend’s older brother, who has also become a friend of mine, and later another friend I haven’t seen since high school came through and we went dancing later that night. 

On Sunday, the same high school friend came by that morning to bring some treats for me and to relieve me for a moment to watch my booth.  Sunday evening, two friends of mine who I met in Brooklyn, came to see me and help me pack up.  We rode in my minivan back to the East Bay, and we laughed about old times and lamented that we couldn’t believe we were all on the west coast at the same time.

A friend's view from the floor of the back of the van as I drove us over to the East Bay

A friend's view from the floor of the back of the van as I drove us over to the East Bay

The family and friends I have been fortunate to see on this trip has been incredible.  So many supportive people from all parts of my life, who have taken the time to come to see me, and for me to see parts of their world and each with the ability to pick-up wherever we left off.  I’m a lucky girl.


San Francisco Show

Art, Jewelry, Craft ShowLaura FortuneComment

July 15

I left Sacramento a little after 5am and drove over to San Francisco for the Renegade Show that would be at Fort Mason that weekend.  I felt more relaxed, as I had the LA show under my belt.  I set-up and the day began.  It was incredibly busy with people and one of my favorite people I met at that show was a man who came by on both days to visit me.  We spoke of his time as an Original Hippie from the Summer of Love, and he asked details about my travels and living in Portugal.  He decided we missed out since I wasn’t around for the Summer of Love, but I had him model the Tie-Dye T-Shirt Pin, and he left me with a big smile. 

How did the show go?  Everyone asks that question.  I have certain people that stop by and I have great conversations with them, and those feel like highlights to me.

July 14

FamilyLaura Fortune1 Comment

Today is my birthday, but the preparation really began the night before, when my brother, the kids and I went on a canoe trip down the American River and came across bushes of wild blackberries.  

It was the first time my brother took three kids in one boat, as a kayak is usually involved, or someone stays home.  They were great and just so much fun.  I can see the adventurists and discoverers that are developing in each of them and I felt glad for them that they have my brother to take them on these excursions, just as he did for me, and encouraged a bit of fearlessness.   


We stopped for a swim and it was on our second stop that we found the blackberry bushes.  My brother had everyone drink the water in the water jug he brought along, so that we could fill the jug with blackberries.  I believed we collected close to 6 cups of wild blackberries.  My 10 year old nephew was a champion and worked hard for the bounty, climbing into thorny bushes to collect more and more.  

I picked peaches from the peach tree in my brothers backyard and baked a Peach and Blackberry Cobbler for the birthday party.  What a treat!  We almost finished a full dish of the cobbler with vanilla ice cream, in one birthday party sitting.  So good.


This is 36

Life LearningLaura FortuneComment

This is me, this is my 36.  


I have forgone some societal factors thus far in my life, and these choices have shaped my adult life in ways I am really amazed by. Moving to Portugal and traveling on my own. Spending two months working as late as I want in a metals studio. Packing it all up to go on a cross country roadtrip on my own. People I have known for a long time aren't necessarily surprised by my choices, but they don't quite understand them either. I'm okay with that, I don't fully understand all of their choices , yet I accept them. 

This is 36 for me. Tomorrow I will know 37, and it's all just super exciting, cuz I'm a grown woman and I do what I want...

Despicable Me

Family, Life LearningLaura FortuneComment

July 11

I love visiting this little family, and this morning we realized I hadn't been to their house in California for almost two years.  I had seen them in Tallahassee and on their trip to New York City, but as I was pretty steady with visiting, it just hadn't happened in a while.

As I get older and see the kids grow, I can't help but to think of how different my brother and my life has looked.  I've been free to come and go and stayed unattached to the responsibility of a family, and it's almost all he has known his whole adult life.  

I think this crosses my brother and sister-in-laws minds when I'm around, too.  Do any of us know more than the other when our lives are just so different?  Do any of us feel like we made a bold choice at some point in our lives?  I think when we talk about our experiences it's more of a consensus that we are all just trying to do the best we can on that particular day.  

And on this day, I went to see the kids swim practice and my sister-in-law as the swim coach, I took the kids to In-N-Out Burger, and to pick out one candy at a gas station.  Then I took them to see Despicable Me at the movies.  And when the movie began, I promptly fell asleep for the duration.  Despicable.    


My California Family

Family, RoadtripLaura FortuneComment

July 10

I left Los Angeles and decided to just boogie up to Sacramento to my brother’s home.  He has a wonderful wife who is a devoted mother and hardworker and their three kids are just super smart and great kids.  I love being around my family and I just wanted to chill out this week before moving forward and onto San Francisco. 

I walked into the house, and my five-year-old niece informed me that I was going to sleep in her room.  She has a calendar on her wall that was counting the down the days until I showed up.  I’m feeling the slumber party vibes.


A Surprise Ending

Craft Show, Life Learning, Roadtrip, MovingLaura FortuneComment

July 9 

Sunday felt altogether more calm and relaxed.  I had my set-up figured out, I knew what hot felt like, and I understood that this trip was going to feel more like a meet-and-greet with a learning curve show, with a dream roadtrip bonus. 

I always meet really wonderful people at these shows.  The value in this experience is the information and advice I take in from other vendors and people that are visiting the show.  I’m open with people who are interested in enamel and I’m open when they are interested in where I am based out of.  “I’m in-between places.”  I left Brooklyn for Portugal and now have a metal studio in Southern Georgia, and I’m traveling the west coast.  It’s all a strange combination. 

But the highlight of my time in LA had little to do with the show, and more to do with the choices I have made in the past year. 

Sunday was over and I was packing up the jewelry for the weekend, and a lady approached my table.  She asked if I was the artist that moved to Portugal and I said Yes, in a where-is-this-going type of thought. 

She introduced herself stating she and her boyfriend were the couple that came to my apartment last year and bought most of my furniture when I was moving out of Brooklyn.  I couldn’t believe it. 

This couple was so sweet and encouraging of my move out of Brooklyn and taking the chance to go and travel.  They had just been on a similar type of journey and were settling in Brooklyn and reacquiring things for their new apartment.  They loved my stuff and wanted to buy much of it from me.  At the time, I was on-the-fence about whether to store my stuff, or to just sell it altogether.  Having them in my place, and watching it all walk out the door of my apartment so quickly made the decision rip of like a band-aid. 

So many decisions feel so hard, and then they are made for me, and I accept them.  People come along who buy all of your furniture, cars breakdown, a tooth needs extraction. 

It meant a lot for me to see this couple at that moment.  I wasn’t feeling totally great about the show in Los Angeles, accepting the losses, but sometimes it helps to just have a little moment, a small-world moment.  A reminder of a time where I was at the end of a major chapter of my life and where I currently am within a whole new experience.  It kind of just makes me feel like I’m doing something right, in the right place.


120 Degrees to Los Angeles

Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura FortuneComment

July 7

I left Tucson and drove to Los Angeles.  It was a toasty drive, but I had A/C.  My old Jeep didn’t have air condition, and I couldn’t imagine the feeling of the windows down on a highway and hot air blowing around me. 


I spent the evening on a deck at my AirBnB apartment, prepping for the show that would happen the next day.  Let the games begin.


Mexican Dentist

Family, International Travel, Life Learning, Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura FortuneComment

July 6

My uncle and aunt moved from Breckenridge to Tucson and I was one of the first visitors to their new home.  Since the move they had began traveling to see a dentist in Mexico, a place highly recommended and much cheaper than American dental costs.  I have never had dental insurance and have always paid out-of-pocket for my extensive dental needs, so this appointment to see a dentist in Mexico was really exciting to me. 


I had never been to Mexico and it just seemed to be a funny reason to go. 

I had a loose crown and it needed to be re-cemented, a simple procedure, from my understanding.


After the dentist looked over my x-rays, it was brought to my attention that the loose crown was actually a loose tooth implant, and it was infected and needed to be extracted.  I was handed the tooth implant in a plastic bag, a prescription for antibiotics, a list of the costs that I will pay for a new implant and a follow-up appointment card to see the specialist in one month, after the bone in my mouth heals. 

I didn’t expect any of this.  I didn’t expect to have one less tooth for the month, to need to pay the cost for a new implant (it’s less than in the US, but still a pretty big expense), or to need to extend my roadtrip so that I land back in Arizona the first week of August. 

A few days earlier I was hit with the unexpected car loss and readjustment to the change of automobile, and now I was readjusting my trip again. 

It was overwhelming and shocking.  But the tooth problem needed to be taken care of and infection is nothing to ignore.  So I leaned into the change again and carried on.

In five days, I lost my car and a tooth.  Rolling with it.

Alright Tucson, see you in one month. 


Long Roads

Family, Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura FortuneComment

July 5

I left Austin around 5:15am and I headed west.  

This was a long day of driving, but these days feel really manageable to me, and I am happy for that.  I have a lot on my mind and then nothing on my mind for long stretches.  I drove through western Texas, and then a little of New Mexico and my final stop for the day was Tucson, Arizona.  I had never been in these parts of America.  There is not much there.  Long roads, plateaus, dry vegetation, mountains, and more long roads.  Not many people travel this part besides just to move from on side of the country to the other, so the driving was pretty mindless.  But here I am.



Independence Day Sail

FamilyLaura Fortune1 Comment

I have spent 3 Fourth of July's on a boat in Lake Travis with my Austin family.  I'd say that's a pretty good run.  We went for a quick and perfect sail, grilled a lunch on the boat and then headed back to the mainland so that I could pack-up and get ready for the next leg of this journey.

July 2nd and Day Two

Studio, Family, ArtLaura FortuneComment

I woke up at my Uncle and Aunt's house.  They are some of the most incredible people I know.  Crazy smart and super fun.  Basically the best combination.  They love to sail on their sailboat, bird watch, create beautifully crafted woodwork, cook amazing pizzas, and spend time with their friends and family.  Plus they have a parakeet that has an extensive vocabulary and says things like, "Wanna Kiss?  Wanna drink? Wanna coffee? Wanna take a picture? I'm so cute."

I asked my Uncle if he would help me build my display for the shows and to travel with.  He obliged and we got to work.  

It was a special experience to work with him in his woodshop.  He has built boats and architecturally complicated woodwork for multi-million dollar homes.  He is a wealth of knowledge and similarly shared stories with me of following my grandfather around (his dad) and learning woodworking and building from him.  I loved this time to spend with him and his generosity to help me out on my journey.  There's just something about being with family.



July First!

Life Learning, Roadtrip, U.S. Travel, FamilyLaura FortuneComment

5am Saturday July 1, 2017  Tallahassee, Florida

My Jeep was packed and I pulled out of the driveway at my Mom's house.  We did our traditional honking and waving, she ran towards the sidewalk to wave more, and I passed her with a shout out the window, "I feel like I forgot something!!" She waved it off and I continued down the road.  West coast bound.  Here it goes!


My truck jerked forward and the Check Gauges light came on.  The coolant gauge went way up and my truck felt like going over 60mph was a struggle.  My mind raced.  I needed to find a mechanic.  I needed to find a new way to get to my destinations.  Can my truck be fixed?  Can I just make it to Austin?  Ohhhh, that didn't sound good, can I make it to Pensacola?  Whoa, that isn't right.  I hope I make it to the next exit.  

6:30am Defuniak Springs, Florida

I made it to the Wal-Mart parking lot, actually the Auto Center.  Smoke billowed from the hood.  

I don't know the time frame of all the other events that happened that afternoon.  All I know is that at some point my Mom showed up, a tow truck arrived, the mechanic said the engine is fried, the first car rental place didn't have any SUVs available, so we drove west to the Pensacola airport where the line was 20 people deep, after all, it was a Saturday afternoon on July 4th Weekend.  

I reached the rental car counter and they had my car ready.  "Ma'am, because it was a sameday reservation, we couldn't guarantee you an SUV, so we have a mini-van."

Noooooo!!  Please do not make me drive a mini-van for the next month.  Please.  

We arrived to my new van, and once I saw how to make all those seats disappear into the floor, I was sold.  I fit everything in the back to one side and had room to spread out my sleeping bag.  My jeep didn't have A/C, or a great sound system, but here I was, with all of those luxuries.     

All the sudden my trip felt brand new and I immediately extended my time away.  I was going to take the trip around the country and up the west coast that I have always wanted to take.  I have a car that I trust and that I can sleep in if I need to.  I had the space to fit my display and better gas mileage than the Jeep.  

In my experience I try to make the best decision I can make at the time, and then life happens and decision ends up being made for me.  It was always meant to be this way.  

Eight hours after my initial departure, I was back on the road.  I drove through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and I made it to Austin, TX at 2:30am CT.


Art, Jewelry, StudioLaura FortuneComment

Working at Studio 209 was perfect for me.  I worked really hard and manage to make it up to Thomasville to be in that studio 28 out of the 30 days in June.  I squeezed as much work as I could out of that time, working 10-12 hours days for the majority.  It was also a time were I was faced with a lot of questions about how I would navigate the trip to the west coast.  Would driving my old Jeep be possible?  Should I just fly out?  Do I have enough inventory to appear at four shows?   How should my display look and how can I transport it best?

These answers eventually floated to the surface, and I made decisions.  

My daily drive

My daily drive