Way Back Wednesday

#WayBackWednesday - Ludington State Park, 2007. #PureMichigan

Back in 2007 some friends and I took a trip to Ludington State Park on Michigan’s west coast. The park sits along Lake Michigan with dunes, trails through the woods, and access to nearby lighthouses. The whole coast of Lake Michigan is amazing, but this little slice is extra nice. If you get the chance to visit Michigan, make sure to travel along the shorelines of the Great Lakes and stop at Ludington State Park.

We lived in nearby Allendale, MI where our college was located so this was an easy little trip for us. We were a bunch of twenty somethings headed camping and we definitely made some memories. The photos I share are from an old camera and are mostly the natural beauty. I didn’t find many photos from our campsite, probably because we were having a real good time.

Spring here in Texas reminds me of summer up in Michigan. The temps are warm enough, the sun is plentiful, and the air is breezy. Here’s to the summer nights of the past and hopefully some in the near future on one of Michigan’s coasts.

#WayBackWednesday - The Four Trips that Started it All

I’m a little overloaded this month with work, so I’m going to share an old series of Way Back Wednesday posts that I created at the end of summer. These posts celebrate the four big road trips that cemented my love for the adventure and seeing as much as I can on an adventure. There are four posts linked on the page below, choose your own adventure! I’m hoping to get back to regularly scheduled programming in a couple of weeks, once my big project wraps up. Until then, please enjoy some of my favorite memories in this crazy life!

#WayBackWednesday - The Four Trips that Started it All

I’m a little overloaded this month with work, so I’m going to share an old series of Way Back Wednesday posts that I created at the end of summer. These posts celebrate the four big road trips that cemented my love for the adventure and seeing as much as I can on an adventure. There are four posts linked on the page below, choose your own adventure! I’m hoping to get back to regularly scheduled programming in a couple of weeks, once my big project wraps up. Until then, please enjoy some of my favorite memories in this crazy life!

#WayBackWednesday - The Four Trips that Started it All

I’m a little overloaded this month with work, so I’m going to share an old series of Way Back Wednesday posts that I created at the end of summer. These posts celebrate the four big road trips that cemented my love for the adventure and seeing as much as I can on an adventure. There are four posts linked on the page below, choose your own adventure! I’m hoping to get back to regularly scheduled programming in a couple of weeks, once my big project wraps up. Until then, please enjoy some of my favorite memories in this crazy life!

#WayBackWednesday - My Heart Will Go On

I know, I know… What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Pfffft… unless it’s funny. In May of 2013, my dear friend Ashley and I set out to meet in Vegas. I had moved to Texas in 2011, and she was still up in Michigan, so this was a fun way to hang out somewhere new! So, we planned it out - the hotels, the activities, and the adventures. My best bud Kevin was coming as a surprise, and surprising Ashley is nearly impossible. Seriously, this girl can figure anything out! Anyway, Kevin and I boarded our Southwest flights from Dallas Love Field and were headed to Las Vegas. We landed and headed to baggage. Ashley had landed before us and told me to meet her there. I gave it away in a text, but she was surprised nonetheless. Mission accomplished. Story over! JUST KIDDING. Enjoy some photos! These events are not in any order, so don’t try to piece it together. Also, this is probably one of my all-time-favorite trips simply because of how ridiculous things got - with the surprise, the drunken nights by the fountains, and our adventurous hotels. I know Vegas isn’t for everyone, but I sure do enjoy the flashy absurdity every now and then.

We had street beers…

I took the “princess” koozie and we just recently lost it or it melted, not sure. Good stuff.

I took the “princess” koozie and we just recently lost it or it melted, not sure. Good stuff.

The spring gardens somewhere, I think the Bellagio?

The spring gardens somewhere, I think the Bellagio?

We did a lot of random shit the first day, which made us “sleepy”

We “fell asleep” instead of going to see Mystere, oops… I think Ashley went and actually fell asleep at the show, but I can’t be 100% sure because I was passed out on the far bed in this photo.

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Kevin flew home, after changing his flight to a day later so we could have more day drinks…

Kevin, Ash, and I getting prickly pear margaritas as Kevin delayed his flight another day. Gotta love Southwest for that feature!

Kevin, Ash, and I getting prickly pear margaritas as Kevin delayed his flight another day. Gotta love Southwest for that feature!

Ashley and I drove to the Hoover Dam, then on to the Grand Canyon. NEAT. (may have also stopped at Lake Mead)

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We did Vegas things at night…

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We watched the Bellagio fountains A LOT… Usually with some alcohol. We sang along, we laughed, we made fun of people, we had so much fun.

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We went up in the fake Eiffel Tower and saw the fountains at the Bellagio again.

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The best part was how many times we heard “My Heart Will Go On” at the fountains - including when we were up in the fake Eiffel Tower.

We stayed at Circus Circus, after two fabulous nights at Treasure Island. This was Circus Circus pre-renovation, so it was SHITTY.

We stayed at Golden Nugget, also, and went down the water slide in the shark tank! We did the Fremont Street stuff too, and enjoyed more drinks of course.

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We had all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch AND got to-go mimosas for our adventures.

We saw other, prettier things in Vegas, and had drinks.

#WayBackWednesday - My first trip to Duluth, MN

The view of Duluth from Park Point

The view of Duluth from Park Point

Beach bonfire before heading up to the cabin.

I am quite lucky to know people with amazing places to go when I want to escape the real world for a little bit. Through my best friend, I have access to an off-the-grid cabin in Northern Minnesota near the Boundary Waters. I may have already gone on and on about how amazing this place is, so I’ll just say it is probably my favorite place to go ever. I met Kevin in the dorms back in 2003. We became good friends and he invited me up to the cabin in the summer of 2004. Since college was done for the summer, he was back in metro Detroit and I was in my hometown on Lake Huron in Northern Michigan. The plan was that he’d swing through my town and pick me up one night and we’d drive through the night to arrive in Duluth at dawn. Unknowingly, this trip set up a lifetime of loving the night drive and road trips. Kevin picked me up, we made one stop to buy a new digital camera in the neighboring town’s Walmart, and we were off. I remember getting to Duluth, being tired from the drive, but excited to see Minnesota. After a nap, I met his aunt who owned the cabin and her friend Marie. We had a nice day exploring Canal Park and had bonfire on the beach that night. I want to say that we slept on the beach that night, but my mind is a little foggy on details. The trip was off to a great start. When we did finally head up to the cabin, we strapped the canoe on the minivan and headed up the North Shore. We stopped very little on the way up, saving some scenic spots for our return trip. Kevin had made this drive and been up here annually, so this wasn’t all new to him like it was to me. Looking through the photos, I’m shocked there weren’t more. Back in 2004 we had cell phones, but not nearly the connected lives we have now so I’d be willing to say I appreciate what the cabin is so much more now. I’m so excited to be heading up there tomorrow, escaping the emails and text messages. Enjoy some photos from that virgin voyage in 2004. Here’s to hoping there are many, many more.

Boundary Waters flowing into non Boundary Waters area

Boundary Waters flowing into non Boundary Waters area

The only way to the cabin is by boat (or bushwhacking through the woods)

The only way to the cabin is by boat (or bushwhacking through the woods)

This is a place we frequently visit when at the cabin - it has a nice clearing and is great for pondering the mysteries of life, grilling, camping, or just enjoying a trail beer.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge - our last night in Duluth before heading back to Michigan

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge - our last night in Duluth before heading back to Michigan

The journey back to the Lower Peninsula across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

The journey back to the Lower Peninsula across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

#WayBackWednesday - Around Lake Michigan in One Night. (the first time)

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Road trips have been a favorite thing since way back when. In college, my buddy and I would just get in the car and drive until we had to be back for something important. There were nights we’d end up hours from Grand Rapids, MI in Indiana or Northern Michigan. One of these nights, we had the brilliant(ly stupid) idea of driving around Lake Michigan. It was a random March night and we though it would be fun to see if we could make it around the lake in one shot. By this point in time, we had already had many nights of driving to the Mackinac Bridge and back, down every road in our county and surrounding ones, so we were well adjusted to staying up all night blowing money on gas for no reason. We were fueled by coffee, stupidity, and a lack of direction. These trips, these night drives, would eventually lead to our our spring break road trips, and many other adventures along the way.

Here are a few shots of us breezing through Chicago. Notice the excellent photography skills and attention to photo framing; obviously documenting the trip was less important to me back then.

Morning was starting to show and this photo happened in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Flash + snow.

Morning was starting to show and this photo happened in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Flash + snow.

We started before midnight, and pushed through to the next day. We were getting pretty tired by Northern Wisconsin, and I think we stopped for Hardee’s somewhere before entering back into Michigan. We were good at fighting the exhaustion, it was almost a game, and we’d get second and third winds which led to louder music and rolling the windows down allowing the icy air to blast through the car. This was freedom.

Without the flash, the morning light begins to illuminate the snow.

Without the flash, the morning light begins to illuminate the snow.

Temperatures were around zero and the morning sun was beginning to show. You know that feeling of false warmth you get from the sun on a cold day, we didn’t feel that because that’s how cold it was. We had a stockpile of caffeinated products and the need to get back home so the sunrise was just further encouragement.

We stopped several times to take photos of the sun over Lake Michigan as well as at a little rest stop where a thermometer nailed to a tree read just above zero, which we believed was a lie. I might mention, at this point, that we were doing all of this in a 1991 Dodge Caravan that my buddy inherited from his mom when she got a cooler car back in the early 2000s. This van was a beast, all wheel drive, and made it through an unplowed turnout, with a little help from one of us pushing.

We made it back to our respective dwellings safely and probably passed out, I cant’ be sure because we could have also went to class. This may have been the first time we drove around Lake Michigan, but there were more brilliant(ly stupid) adventures to come.

#WayBackWednesday - Cedar Breaks National Monument

In 2017 I had planned to take a solo trip to Utah with two main stops: Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument. The trip went from a solo adventure to a BFF adventure and the points of interest on the “must see” list expanded just a little. I was excited, because why not share all of the beauty Utah has to offer with someone who gets me and who I hadn’t seen in months or more? We had an excellent trip and saw plenty of beauty, but the one place that stands out in my mind is Cedar Breaks National Monument. The vistas, the hike around the rim, and the drive to and from the monument are all burned into my memory. I still think of the views, over a year later. I must get back!

I arrived in SLC on Friday, as did my BFF Molly, and we spent the night in a southern suburb. Saturday came, and was spent driving and exploring the route from SLC to Bryce Canyon. We caught a sunset at BC and headed to Cedar City for the night. The original plan was to catch the sunrise at Cedar Breaks, but we got there a little after. The sun was up and the place was illuminated. We started at Point Supreme Overlook and were amazed. We hiked the trail along the rim out to Spectra Point. Standing out on Spectra Point is a moment in my brain that I’ll never forget and would never want to forget. After taking it all in, looking over the edge, and smiling a ton, we made it back to the information center.

I have never felt a rush quite like the one I felt hiking out to Spectra Point. It was exhilarating, breathtaking, and liberating all at once. I have not felt a rush like that of walking along the rim since then. Enjoy a few photos from the trip and feel free to comment/connect with questions or your stories regarding Cedar Breaks!

#WayBackWednesday - Arizona or bust!

I’m not sure if I have discussed this adventure in another post or not, but here we go (I have, it was the very first #WayBackWednesday)… It was seven (7) years ago, my best friend Kevin moved to Houston for a job. I had moved to Texas the year before, near Fort Worth. It was a pretty cool feeling to have someone who is chosen family in the same state. On January 15, 2012 I was in Houston, hanging out with Kevin before he had to work off-shore for a while. This is the guy you may remember from the four big trips that really got me into road trips. We decided we needed some spontaneity in our lives and that we were going to do something wild and crazy because growing up was really taking a toll on us with schedules, bills, and other responsibilities. Neither of us had been to Saguaro National Park, and it was really only a 15 hour drive; ONLY!? we used to do that all the time back in college. We set off without a real plan, just driving west on I-10 with “fuck it” attitudes and the only caveat being I had to work in a couple of days. It was on.

We left at night, which was another thing we liked to do, because to hell with Houston traffic and any other people in our way. I don’t remember much from the drive to Arizona, but I do remember these things:

  • Seeing the sign for Kerrville, TX and thinking Kern River or thinking that Tim Allen said this on some episode of Home Improvement. Don’t ask, because that is all I remember.

  • West Texas was just as wide open at night, we were speeding for sure.

  • The border check point lights were the brightest lights ever (we didn’t cross into Mexico, but there are many checkpoints as you get closer)

  • This was the closest to Mexico I had ever been and that was weird, despite going to Canada while living in Michigan my whole life

  • We may have stopped at a hotel near San Antonio, but it could have also been on the way home or not at all. Who knows!?

We arrived to Saguaro National Park at some point in the late morning. It was a rainy, gray day but the park was still cool. We didn’t get to hike through anything because of the rain, but we did drive through the park and enjoy the views and moments when the rain let up. We decided to stay in Tucson that night, and got a room at the Hampton Inn. We promptly filled the sink with ice, got a case of beer, and proceeded to enjoy ourselves. I don’t have notes on this trip in the travel journal, but I do remember the ride home being long. We saw immigration bust a u-turn in the middle of I-10 to assist in a pull-over and I think got Taco Bell and/or Starbucks in El Paso. Again, it’s a very fuzzy trip to me.

A conversation with Jen, check out her page, really inspired me to write about this. I saw the “on this day” post in Google Photos, talked with her, and really wanted to keep it real and feed the nostalgic side of adventure. I haven’t been as spontaneous or adventurous as I was in the past, and it has to change. I have shied away from things I’m “afraid” of such as challenging trails or access points, various trips, or local opportunities. It’s time to take back REAL LIFE and make some real adventurous choices. As I work on that, enjoy some more photos from that hazy trip Saguaro seven Januaries ago.

#WayBackWednesday - Bryce Canyon

Visiting Bryce Canyon during the summer was a dream come true. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I did get to go and I got to spend the weekend with my BFF. We drove into Bryce Canyon and went directly to Rainbow Point at the end of the scenic drive. We did a little hike around there and hopped back in and stopped at every scenic turnout back to the entrance. We ended the quick day trip at Sunset Point before leaving the park. The day was a whirlwind, as we drove from Salt Lake City that morning. I had only been to Bryce Canyon in the winter, so seeing it thawed and glowing of pink and orange was something special. Enjoy these photos - I hope they transport you to Utah and you find some inspiration for your next trip!

Click here to learn about the people who lived on the lands known as Bryce Canyon National Park before any white settlers even found it… Always remember to respect the land and the history associated with the land. If you visit Bryce Canyon, remember to leave no trace. Click here for more info on how to visit a place and leave no trace.

#WayBackWednesday - July at the Lake

I’m looking back to July of 2016 and a spontaneous trip up to Michigan. This was during a transitional period for me when I was working a contract position that was seven days on and seven off - which was great for road trips! Part of me misses that schedule but I don’t miss that job nor do I miss the hours, but I do miss seven days off in a row. That summer we went to Michigan a few times, went to the Redwoods, and plenty of local excursions. Enjoy some photos from the family cottage in rural Northern Michigan and think back to a good time!

#WayBackWednesday - Christmas of 2017

Last year we made the trek to Michigan to spend Christmas with my family. This year, we’ll be heading up to Alaska to see my other half’s family. Next year, I swear I’m staying in Texas. Here’s a look back at a few highlights from that trip last year. Whatever you celebrate, or don’t, I hope you have a great couple of weeks ahead.

I didn’t get to stop and see everyone on this trip, but I did get to see a lot of people. So thankful to have the problem of too many people and not enough time.

And, of course, the family time was nice. It was the last Christmas with our grandfather, so I guess it was meant to be that I finally got up there for a holiday. The kids were fun and everyone was happy to see us out-of-towners.

I’ll miss everyone this year, but we’ll get to see more family so it’ll be alright! Happy Holidays!

#WayBackWednesday - Grand Rapids, Michigan

It was ArtPrize 2010, a city wide art festival, and my dear friend Ashley and I had made the rounds. These are some photos from the afternoon/evening in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I lived in Grand Rapids from 2003 to 2011 and I genuinely miss the city. These photos take me back and make me think of all of the good times, as well as all of the learning experiences, I had while moving from adolescence to adulthood. Do you have a city or hometown you miss? Would you ever move back? I’d move back to Grand Rapids in a heartbeat, if the situation was right. If you ever get a chance to go to Michigan, I highly suggest hitting up the great food and brews/wines in Grand Rapids.

#WayBackWednesday - Tahquamenon Falls (#WaterfallWednesday)

It was the winter of 2015 and I had some time on my hands. We had already visited Alaska for Thanksgiving and though why not run through Michigan and Minnesota around Christmas. We visited my family in Rogers City and then up through the Upper Peninsula. One of the best places we stopped was Tahquamenon Falls on the east end of the peninsula. The path was snowy and icicles were prominent, making it all even more beautiful. Enjoy a few photos and escape into the winter wonderland that is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

#WayBackWednesday - My first time in Alaska

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Three years ago, for Thanksgiving, I went to Alaska to celebrate turkey day with my other half’s family. I was recently laid off from my job, had no prospects, and thought it was a good time to make a trip. I had never been that far from “home” and I was completely excited. I had no expectations for the trip - but was hoping for snow. We arrived to a cold, wintry scene in Anchorage and it only got prettier each day.

As we prepare to head back up there in December, I’m hopeful for more snowy adventures. Enjoy some photos form my first time in Alaska.

#WayBackWednesday - Caprock Canyons State Park

We’re going back to Caprock Canyons State Park last year at the end of September. This was a quick weekend camping trip that included a hike to Fern Canyon (a must-see if you’re at Caprock) and some other adventures with bison and spiders. Camping varies there, but there I’d recommend anywhere but near the lake as you’ll have more space between spots. Primitive looked best, but we just car camped at one of the tent only areas. Enjoy some photos!

#WayBackWednesday - Arches!

My process for Way Back Wednesday:

  1. Create a huge list of possible ideas, become determined to pick something

  2. Forget about the list and just scroll through all of my photos until something just speaks to me

I love to plan things out, but I hate sticking to a plan. Whatever. Here are a few shots from Arches National Park this past August that stood out and whispered through the digital waves to share them again. Arches is easily one of my favorite places and I see it differently every time I visit. Enjoy this week of Way Back Wednesday that doesn’t go WAY back at all.

#WayBackWednesday - Olympic National Park

I’m working on being more positive and upbeat so here are some photos from my trip back in March to the beautiful Olympic National Park in Washington State. When I need a moment at work, or anywhere else, I just try to remember my three glorious days in the trees and on the beach in the Olympic Peninsula. What do you do to take mental breaks? Where does your mind wander in a daydream? Feel free to share your magical places. Have a great Wednesday and week ahead. You’ve got this!

This is currently the background on my work PC… Helps me stay calm! (Quinault)

Rialto Beach - a peaceful evening watching the sun set

In the Hoh Rain Forest… with the sun peaking through the mossy trees

At peace among the trees on the trail to Sol Duc Falls

#WayBackWednesday - Cool at the Canyon

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This is going to have to be a quick post, but it’s my website so I can do whatever I want. This week has been busy, but let’s throw it back to March of 2015 at the Grand Canyon. My other half and our best friend Nikki set out on a road trip (which will be featured eventually - it’s a work in progress) to see the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and Zion. Here are a few photos from the South Rim on that cool March morning.