My name is Nikki A. Hancock and this is my blog.

I am from a small (and by small, I mean don't sneeze or you'll miss it) town (village?) in northern California cleverly named Elk Creek. This is because there is a creek that runs through the town and there are also, sometimes, Elk. I grew up impatiently waiting for the summertime, when the town came alive with visitors to our lake, my best friend Rhiannon and I could walk down the creek bed searching for buried treasures, and of course school was out. The rest of the year was irrelevant. Where I grew up, parents lectured us incessantly on the dangers of rattlesnakes and what to do to avoid being taken down by a mountain lion. We did not know what gangs, raves, or kidnappers were. Times were simple.

Fast forward to 35 years old (or is it 34?) and I live in Sacramento, California. I drive a (gasp!) foreign car, wear stilettos and designer jeans to the grocery store, and have to plan 30-45 minutes of my time to drive 8 miles to said grocery store. Times are not simple, however, the luxuries of life are more accessible and for this I am forever thankful. I am not sure I can ever again live in a place where you cannot buy a Pepsi after 9 pm.

I spent the majority of my childhood and the entirety of my adulthood unwell. Ear infections, stomach aches, broken bones, migraines, kidney stones, you name it, THIS GIRL had it. It took 22 years of needles, pokes, prods, doctors, hospitals, psychiatrists, medications, misdiagnosis, a night in a mental hospital and a partridge and a pear tree for me to finally reach a definitive diagnosis of Celiac Disease. All I have to do is not eat wheat and I will stop being sick and be okay forever? Easy! Not so much. While I am forever thankful for modern medicine identifying this tiny little protein in wheat, barley, and rye, which my body thinks is a foreign invader akin to an Afghanistan army and attempts to self destruct anytime I ingest it, avoiding this substance is not so simple. It took years of trial and error to discover that I also suffer from a very severe corn allergy which is the REAL challenge in my life. On top of that I have multiple other food allergies to things you probably love like pepper, apples, and cilantro. These food allergies make life a challenge and cooking for myself is incredibly time consuming. Travelling requires an entire day to cook and pack before I even leave. I will get into this more in future posts. A lot.

It is funny how life takes us on a much different course than we plan sometimes. I thought that by the age of 30 I would be retired, a millionaire, and a best-selling author with homes in Sacramento, Maryland, and most importantly, the Florida Keys and probably have one of those "26.2" bumper stickers, or some equally annoying badge of entitlement for some annoying super achievement on my car. Well, here I am at 34 (or was it 35?) and although I am technically "retired" from my past career as a nail tech, this is not because I am not working. I am a full time freelance photographer which has been the best move I have ever made in life. I have not written a best-selling novel yet, but I keep telling myself that this is just because I haven't bothered to try publishing anything I've written (it is, in fact, because I spend all my time taking pictures these days) and I definitely haven't run any marathons. I spend my happiest times in the water, travelling, and playing with my fur babies, Milly the Dog and John Hancock the Puppy, cooking up new recipes, watching movies, and of course taking pictures of all of the large things in the world. I have a burning desire to share my stories, so for now, this is my Key West.

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