Day 2: It’s as if we were all just trying to slow down, let nature in, and quiet our restless minds.

If any a day to accomplish a whole lot of everything, today was it. Now, I usually post photos at the very end of a post but I have to break that self-made rule because today’s 5:15 a.m. wake time was motivated by the view below. This is Mather Point at the Grand Canyon. It was freezing. Like, right at or around freezing for realz. BUT so. freaking. worth. it.

To say the Grand Canyon is beautiful is an understatement. I really need to freshen up on my personal dictionary. No wonder this place has been named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I have to be honest, while Arizona and more specifically, the Grand Canyon were on my bucket list of places to see, I had loads and loads more places on that list ahead of this trip. After today, I don’t know why. I genuinely believe that Arizona is one of the most underrated and breathtaking places I’ve ever been to (literally and visually). Everywhere I’ve been blessed with having the opportunity to go to, has been gorgeous; I can find beauty nearly every place I’ve been but holy shit to the GC. I had no idea.

Maybe I’m in the minority here, who knows? Am I THAT naive or can I blame a handful of cruddy geography and history teachers along my path of brain growth? I’ll play it safe and sit in the middle on that debate.

I’m going to keep today’s post as short as I possibly can because we covered A LOT of ground today. With that being said, we all know this is going to be long AF because YA GORL cannot condense anything. #teamlongstorylong

So, along with tons of other official natural wonders or not, the tourist scene is wildly organized at the Grand Canyon. There are three shuttle lines within the park (orange blue, and red). There’s actually a fourth line (purple) but that goes to and from Tusayan. We didn’t opt to do that. The cool thing about the shuttles is that you can hop on and off any of them. They each have their specific routes but there are a few opportunities to jump off one bus and onto another. They run pretty frequently too; anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

We first took the shuttle from Yavapai Lodge to Mather Point (where we saw that bomb ass sunrise). Then we took the shuttle from there all the way up to Hermit’s Rest. That’s the furthest west point on the South Rim. BTW, we were in the South Rim the entire time. There is a North Rim portion but that would have been a couple more hours to drive last night. From my research, the southern rim is the more touristy of the two.

From Mather Point, there were so many stops. We tried to plan our day out strategically based on reviews I’d read about but there was no way we’d get through the entire rim in the day. We took the good ol’ trolley through Market Plaza and the Village without getting off. If there was time later, we would. We did stop at a handful of places along the route up to Hermits Rest though. Hopi Point, Mohave Point, and Pima Point were my favorites. A couple of stops are super close together so you can walk from one to the other. At the end of this post, I’ll likely share a stupid amount of photos that may all look the same to you but they definitely aren’t.

What the photos don’t show or tell is how vast the GC really is. The day was a perfect 58 degrees. The skies, a sweet #5EADE5 blue. I’ve never been anywhere where there were so many people throughout but so little sound. It’s as if we were all just trying to slow down, let nature in, and quiet our restless minds. While it looked like an off-brown ball point pen line drawn into the canyons, it was so quiet that we could hear the Colorado River (can you spot it below?). My mom even dared to say that the Grand Canyon was more captivating than the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

One thing I haven’t mentioned but I did read about while researching, was the air to lung ratio, or lack there of. I had briefly read that those interested in hiking down and back up (those people are crazy and also my wanna-be spirit animals) should be warned of the altitude variations especially to those traveling from an altitude much different than here. And holy crap could we feel it. Even during the drive from Mesa north, we started to notice the change in altitude. The thinner air really did make it much harder to breathe. This effected my mom quite a bit more than me but we did make a point of taking our time and pacing ourselves throughout the day. I don’t know what kind of made-of-steal lungs hikers have but I want a sip of that medicine. The views we witnessed today were worth every single second of the 7000+ feet above sea level hikes we took today.

Once we picked up our jaws from the views along Hermits Rest, we hopped back aboard the red shuttle due east. We found ourselves a taco food truck in the Visitor Center Area and hung out enjoying the cool-to-everyone but warm-to-us weather. Did I mention our winter was brutal? 58 degrees felt like 90 but a good 90.

We finished up our day at Yaki Point and then decided to head back to the Yavapai Lodge area to make our way back south and over to Flagstaff. The only chunk of the South Rim that we didn’t get a chance to venture towards was Desert View. There is a watchtower up there that I would have loved to climb. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d have been able to because of the oxygen fun we were having but I’ll be making it a priority next time I visit.


I had no plans to see anything exciting once we left the Grand Canyon today. Really, can the GC be beat? We just needed to get to our hotel in Flagstaff but we managed to find some really REALLY cool pit-stops along the way. The trek from the south entrance area of the GC to Flagstaff is only about 90 minutes but it took us well over two hours. This seems to be a recurring theme for this trip. On our way, we found Yabba Dabba Doo Fintstones Bedrock City! Who would have thunk? It didn’t appear to be in working order anymore which really is a tragedy but a few cool photo ops were necessary.

Cue Williams, AZ. I’ve had so many “when I grow up” dreams, I could fill a book. Anywhere from a yellow brick road trail through the woods to secret garden as dreamy as the book I read until the pages were lose and watched in movie form back when VHS tapes were still cool. Today, I found another dream I didn’t even know I had and it currently resides in Williams. I hope my ‘somewhere in the future’ babies want a tipi in the backyard instead of a playhouse. The tipi below was a part of a little village touristy shop on the side of the road. I instantly thought of my niece Emma and how she’d love to have this all to herself in the back of my parents yard. I can’t wait to tell her all about it when I get home.

Lastly, before arriving in Flagstaff, we stumbled upon the sweetest little slanted church in the middle of the Coconino National Forest near the base of the San Francisco Peaks. At the enterance of this quaint and mostly deserted church, I had to duck to get in. As I walked around to the other side of the small building, I was greeted by an entire wall filled with glass. This place was remarkable. Could you imagine getting married here?! I would LOVE it! I couldn’t wait to read up more about this place once we arrived at the hotel tonight. Here’s an excerpt I found:

Chapel of the Holy Dove: In the summer of 1961, with the help of his sons and some hired hands, the 41 year-old Watson Lacy, with no experience as a builder, used explosives to create holes in the rock beneath the Chapel to secure and position the large Ponderosa Pine logs which comprised the original A-shaped structure framing the San Francisco Peaks. Local volcanic rock and petrified wood was used to build the supporting stone walls. The Chapel was completed in 1962. The beauty of the Peaks affirmed the goodness and majesty of God. They wanted to give travelers the opportunity to share it. –Ghost Town AZ

For anyone still with me, if time permits, I would definitely plan for a full two days at the Grand Canyon alone. I’ve shared more photos at the end of this post and I hope you love them as much as I cherish them. Our trip to AZ is a short one. Since we had such a ways to drive from start to finish, we wanted to make sure to see a few places on the way so we opted to cut our time at the GC short in order to enjoy the ride back to Flagstaff and tomorrow, Mesa. While it’s a bummer we didn’t get to spend more time further north, I’m glad we left when we did or we wouldn’t have been able to capture the awe these few stops along the way brought us. I don’t know where the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list, or Arizona for that matter but I would encourage you to move it up. Like way TF up. We have two more days in this lush state and I can’t hardly wait!

Day 1: Star Light, Star Bright

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I had embarked on a new adventure. Wait, it was just six months ago! If you live anywhere near where I’m currently living (NoDak), you’ll understand when I say this winter was LONG AF. Just about as soon as I landed stateside again in September, I began dreaming of my next adventure. I desperately need to go back to Europe but I’ll leave that for another day to ramble on about.

About half way through this winter, my mom asked if I wanted to get away and out of the cold. And YA GURL was like “yep.” Without thinking much about it, one of us suggested Arizona and we were both on board. This winter, really, has been draining. Not only have the snow storms put an emphasis on seasonal depressive moods but I busted up my knee twice in the last couple of months. Officially tearing my ACL and my meniscus in two places at the end of January. I have currently managed to forgo surgery for a multitude of reason and have thankfully gotten by with some PT and lots of rest. My knee is no where near 100%, maybe 60% on a good day? We’ll get there.

Enough about that. You’re here for an adventure and I’m about to deliver!

Day 1 is about as routine as day 1’s go, I think. Finishing up packing, because I’ve been a major procrastinator lately and stressing a bit about “did I plan this enough?” were the recurring themes of the days leading up to our trip. I’ve been on a continuous stress-boat of anxiety for a few months due to some work-flow changes in my job and it rarely lets up enough for me to indulge in a life outside of work. Which I know, is incredibly unhealthy, but I’m working on it.

For the first time ever today, I flew out of my local airport, Hector International. Also, for the first time ever today, every inch of my body was patted TF down like I was some sort of criminal. I thought I had this travel thing down. I’m extra cautious with the items I bring on board, my flying attire is basically PJ chic (yogas, sports bra, shirt, slides) and I still was patted down. I don’t know if it was a random spot check but it was weird. Up until today, I was almost weirded out about how “easy” it’d been to stroll through security checkpoints like it was nothin’ because it really was. I had nothing to hide and it’d always been a breeze. Now I know, the pat-down happens. You’ve been warned.

I’m tired and today wasn’t extra eventful aside from the frisk so I may jump around a little bit.

Actually, I’m going to bullet this shit out so I can get to sleep.

  • The people of Alamo as in the car rental service, are jerks. Don’t rent a vehicle from them. We stood in line for well over 30 minutes waiting for a vehicle I reserved. Once I got to the front counter, I was notified that there were no vehicles available. So like, wtf? I ended up dinking around at another rental car place but guess what? They didn’t have any vehicles either and so, head hung low, I returned back to Alamo with the intention of giving them a piece of my mind. Obviously with my mom’s help because lets be honest, she’s the confrontational one between the two of us when it’s go time. We ended up with a vehicle, not the one we paid for and one that will end up costing us more in gas than we had budgeted but it’s better than nothing. I guess.
  • The four and half hour drive (or so) north from Mesa was a beautiful one and filled with angels watching over us. Not only were the roads full of bizarre speed limit changes but we curved around one rock formation after another all the way up. The scary part about this is, I drove. If you know anything about me, two of them should be: 1. I’m a shit driver. And 2. I’m a shit driver because I love looking at all the things. I’m grateful my dad wasn’t with us. We’d surely have driven over cliff because he would have flipped at how distracted I was.
  • We arrived at the Grand Canyon and Yavapai Lodge well past sunset. (I just realized that I hadn’t told you where exactly in AZ we were headed. Surprise!) I was hoping to get a few glimpses of the canyons tonight but we’re preparing for an early rise in the morning so stay tuned. I didn’t know this until I arrived, but Arizona has more certified “International Dark Sky” places in the United States than any other state. This made it a bit difficult to find our actual lodge without streetlights to guide us but we managed. Believe it or not, I do remember the days of finding a place on a map without Siri directing me where to go. I have lived in a city for quite some time so I don’t get to observe the stars as often as I would like. It’s really one of my favorite things in this world. Tonight, I was able to do that for a brief time and am so happy I did. Obviously cameras never quite capture the night sky the way we see it but if you look close enough, you’ll see the Big Dipper in one of my photos below.

That about sums up our day. I feel so lucky to have my mom as my travel partner. Traveling isn’t always rainbows and sunshine but having someone along that can take the good with the bad really makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying the greatest treasures in life.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to our Guardian Angels today for keeping us safe as I drove around admiring this lovely state. The land that is Arizona is truly a beauté so far.

2018: A Year in Review

January 1st is one of my favorite days. Not only because it’s the symbol of a “fresh start” to a healthier life both physically and mentally but because I like to take the time to review how the year in our rearview mirrors really went.

Last year on this very day, I was hurting. My heart ached an ache that I still, to this day, cannot put into words appropriately. During the holiday season, I had ended a relationship that spanned my entire adult life, nearly 10 years. I walked away from everything I had ever known including the daydreams I had had since I was a little girl. I set aside the title of future Mrs. and painfully pressed pause on the idea of hearing a child call me “mommy.” Out of fear and probably a little pride, I didn’t tell my family for weeks and the rest of the world for months. I didn’t want to prove people right. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had failed. I didn’t want all the friendships I sacrificed for a man to be for nothing.

I now know I didn’t fail. I didn’t give up. Friendships lost throughout the years are capable of being mended. I’m worthy of love and happiness and all the things.

While it’s easy to think of how hard a year was and wish it farewell in the most “fuck you” way possible, I think we all loose sight of how incredibly blessed we are. My 2018 was full of both love and tribulation. From my weakest of moments to my strongest of days; so many laughs and nights I’ll never forget. I traveled to my number one bucket list destination, I spent as much time with my family as possible, I watched my niece grow into a chatty little nugget of joy. I explored and camped and attended a ballet. I figured out how to be alone in a bustling world full of people.

In 2018, I took time to reach out to the people in my life from days past and plan to continue doing that. I’ve walked away from friendships that were painful to be a part of. I’ve (slowly) began giving myself a damn chance and figuring out who I am, what makes me tick and who I want to be.

I can’t please everyone. No one can. If there’s anything I can share with anyone still hanging on to this ridiculously long post, figure your shit out in 2019. You’re so worth it. Don’t bother with people who aren’t capable of cheering you on. Life is hard the way it is and we’re all way too old not to at least try to enjoy the time we have left. Make the memories people have of you the best possible ones.

If you were in my 2018, thank you. You’ve likely helped me in more ways than you could ever imagine. ❤️

The Ghost of Christmas Present.

I put my Christmas stuff up today.

I didn’t put anything up last year because my heart hurt so much. My heart hurts right now too though. I love every single thing that takes place the last two months of the calendar year. The magic the holidays bring makes my soul light up with warmth that lies dormant throughout the year.

I love the lights and the spirit and the snow. I love buying gifts for those I’m close to, decorating the tree, holiday parties. I love the food and the feeling of memories being made.

I thought this year would be easier than last and honestly, I know it will be. I thought that everything was going to be okay, that everything is okay because I’m okay.

But why do I find myself laying on my couch, eyes full of the biggest tears, feeling the need to write this sappy post with 3% battery at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night? I’m cozied up here next to Bodhi, my fake fireplace is crackling with seasonal spirit, and I’m watching the ninth Christmas movie this week.

I am okay but I’m really not.

The holidays haven’t even begun yet and I’m already getting pre-emo over the beautiful families in the Christmas cards I haven’t seen and the oh so romantic engagements or weddings.. or babies being born. It’s like I’m giving myself fair warning of what is to come.

I know it’ll be fine and I’ll find the happiness for those around me; fill my heart with glee for the genuine joy others are experiencing because that’s what you have to do. Fake it ’til you make it. Or some shit like that. But I haven’t found a cure for a heart forever broken from something it never truly had.

I can do this being alone thing for however long the universe thinks I need it. It just really really sucks sometimes.

What a difference a week can make.

Last week was filled to the brim of social interactions, after work happenings and overall glee. To be fair, it was my birthday week BUT I actually had no plans for my birthday to begin with, which was Friday, until a friend asked what I was doing. I was like, nothing, I don’t think? Not because I’m a sourpuss, because I’m not. But because I didn’t want to bother anyone.

Sidebar: I’m totally aware of this, but I sometimes get in these funks where I don’t know who is there for me. Who wants to be a part of my life. Who thinks about me in general. I wouldn’t call this situation a pity party, because trust me, that’s totally different but it’s a legit thought. I feel like I think about what everyone is doing all of the time. My parents, my brothers and the lives they lead, my closest friends, my colleagues. I think about people all. the. damn. time.  But (in the most un-pity party of ways, seriously), I doubt I cross the minds of others as much as they cross mine and that’s totally fine. I think I’m wired weirdly in that aspect so I’ve never expected that level of thought from anyone else.

Anyway, with that being said, I just really didn’t want to bug anyone last week. I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to hang out with me just because it was my birthday. I want people to hang out with me because they WANT to.

This post is getting away from me.. What it came down to was nearly every day last week, I had plans. Which was odd and cool and ‘ight with me.

This week couldn’t have been further from the opposite. I don’t think I’ve said more than 15 words any day after regular business hours this week. Home, work, home, work. I’ve been moving around just as much as last week though. A couple days this week, I’ve put together my IKEA purchases from the weekend and last night I rearranged my garage for some godforsaken reason. What’s different this time around of having a very quiet week, is that I’m okay in my quietness.

I’m finally okay.

For months, I’ve been trying to surround myself with positive energies because I really don’t like to be alone and I have been alone for awhile now. I don’t like loneliness, I don’t like being by myself. That doesn’t mean that I want to go be out and about all the time either. I think what I truly miss, is companionship, and just having someone that I know is there for me, that I’m their #1.

I’m not sure I’ve ever truly been anyone’s #1 even when I was in a long-term relationship but you know what I mean? Everyone has someone that is “most important” in their lives. My mom has my dad. My brothers have their spouses/families. Any friend or co-worker I have in my life is in the same boat; lives outside of whatever friendship we have (which is normal).

I think what I’m realizing is just so much more obvious at this moment in my life. I’m the only one in my world that is in my spot or stage of life. I’m sure this isn’t unique but my over-analyzing self sometimes gets so sad about this. I’m the only person I know that doesn’t have a spouse or children or a BFFL or what have you. I’m here in this world alone.

Again, getting off track. What I’m trying to get at is, I’m finally okay being by myself, I think. Maybe. Right now at least, I am. The quietness hasn’t made me sad or given me the level of anxiety as it has in past. Is this what healing feels like? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want this quietness to last forever. If I had two very quiet, no social life or interaction type weeks in a row, I might fall into another slump but this is progress!

What a difference a week can make.

Day 13: That airport life, though.

Series of events:

  • Leave Academy Plaza in Dublin at 7:15 AM.
  • Board AirLink bus stop 747 at 7:35 AM.
  • Arrive at Dublin Airport around 7:55 AM.
  • Go through clearance and U.S. Customs pre-clearance over the next hour. Or so.
  • Board our flight DUB > ORD around 9:10 AM.
  • Depart Dublin Airport at 10:12 AM.
  • Watch a few movies, take a short nap, and fly back in time, like they do. For 8ish hours.
  • Arrive in Chicago at 12:15 PM.
  • Find our gate, grab lunch, stay preoccupied during a 5 hour layover.
  • Connecting flight pushed from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • Flight delayed again.
  • And again.
  • And again.
  • Gate change + another delay.
  • Another gate change.
  • Finally board ORD > MSP just before 10:00 PM.
  • Pass out on said flight.
  • Somehow manage to drive to the hotel feeling sleep deprived and maybe a bit disoriented. Now, I cannot sleep so I’m here, writing this post nearly 25 hours after I woke up. Does it make sense? Eh.

Tomorrow, we head home after a much needed massage and zen hour.

I hope to write one last post closing this series but I may not do it for a few days. I’m going to spend the last couple days of my vacation catching up on sleep and hanging out with a few of my favorite people. Oh, and snuggling up big time with my lil’ bug, Bodhi.

To those that have kept up with reading this incredible adventure of ours, thank you! I’m seriously thinking of doing a solo trip soon. I’ve always wanted to but have been sort of terrified of it. I think I’m ready to conquer it! Where should I go next?!

Day 6: The Ring of Kerry

Boarding the kelly green Paddywagon Bus with a giant leprechaun head on it at approximately 8:20 this morning, we set even further west then we were when we awoke and headed towards the Iveragh Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry was our destination. I’m sure my friend Wikipedia will give you a better description, but the Ring of Kerry is a twisty, curvy, super duper narrowly thin stretch of road that loops around all of the most amazing views you could ever dream of when visiting Irelands west coast. It’s said that this same loop was taken by the Vikings back in the day when they were being buttheads and invading Ireland.

We started our day in Killarney or as Mike, the 2nd singing tour guide we’ve now had, calls it, ‘Larney.. Killarney, and so many other towns and villages we’ve visited, is bright and full of color even on the most rainy of days like today. I wonder if this is intentional? I guess Ireland gets rain 225 days a year, on average. I think I’d need a bright colored door and even brighter painted home as well if I lived here. Or rather, when I live here.

We had a handful of stops today. Some, we had enough time to take in our surroundings. And unfortunately some, we did not. Our driver stopped in the village of Sneem, the town that sells a lot of ice cream. No joke. While most of the bus lined up for some Irish Cream (I swear, I didn’t mean that to sound as bad as it does), I wandered around in the village park looking for a 4-leaf clover. I picked a few 3-leafers; I’m not sure I’ll be lucky enough to score a four but I have a week left!

My first view of the Atlantic Ocean, actually any ocean, was at a stop somewhere along Dingle Bay overlooking the peninsula and Inch Beach. We pulled along side the road where a local man was sitting with his goat, weaving Bridges crosses. To some, water is just water. The ocean looks the same as Lake Superior and Lake Superior looks the same as Lake of the Woods which looks the same as the Mississippi. To those people, I’ll proclaim fake news all day.

The views I had today of the Atlantic Ocean looking over Dingle Bay and then again in Waterville and Ballinskelligs Bay were next to none over and over in such a short time. One panoramic view isn’t like the other and no shot (or video) I could ever take would do it justice without being there yourself. The small islands that are scattered around the big island we’re viewing from have so much history; most of which is untold to tourists like me. It was all just so incredible.

The last stop of the day was Killarney National Park, home of the Torc Waterfall. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love exploring the state and national parks in the States and today was no different in Ireland. The only park stop on the tour was the waterfall specifically so I didn’t get a chance to explore much but we did have a short hike of about 200 meters up to the falls from where we parked. By the time we arrived, the rain was coming down again (I’d been off and on all day), so the dirt incline was a little on the slippery side. But the hike up there in the rain was so worth every second of “ope!” I whispered to myself as I almost took a misstep. Have I mentioned that waterfalls are probably my favorite thing in this world? I hope you enjoy my photos from today. 🙂