Day 3: Minnesota is my favorite color.

This 4:50 a.m. sunrise gives me life. I left the screen door to the patio open last night in the cute little hotel I stayed in so I could fall asleep to Lake Superiors waves and wake up to the chirps of Tofte’s birds. If you ever find yourself in the area, Cliff Dweller Hotel on Lake Superior is top notch rustic, serene, and locally owned by the sweetest people.

Gondala Ride @ Lutsen Mountains. This was the coolest thing ever. I wish I could have just rode back and forth all day. It was so quiet. So full of peace. So breathtaking.

I kept singing ‘Chateau’ by @bear in my head while I was visiting Lutsen today all to find out this was a chalet and not a chateau. Oh well, both are fancier than I’ll ever be. BUT THAT VIEW looking over Lake Superior THO! Is this real life?

The water is so crystal clear in Grand Marais. This has been one of my favorite areas to explore since this trip started. I hiked up through Artists Point (where the trees are) and then back behind these views to the Lighthouse. I found myself hopping from rocky surface to rocky surface finally settling at an edge point and reading a book for a couple hours on one of the many glacial ice drag remnants in this area. My SPF may have let me down but I’m so glad to have sat in such quiet for that time undisturbed by busyness and surrounded by nature.

To close this post.. I have zero words; hats off to you, Grand Marais, Minn. If you know me, AT ALL, you’ll know that water gives me life, that sailboats and lighthouses are my dream homes, and that Minnesota is my favorite color. You’re welcome for this visual experience. P.S. I hope that my future husband is cool with moving here because it’s a deal breaker if he’s not.


This is as far north as I go. I’ll be slowly but surely making my way home tomorrow with adventures along the way, I hope. I don’t know what the rest of my vacation looks like but I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity and means to do this. I can honestly say, I don’t know how I would have survived if I hadn’t.

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!

Making Dreams Become Reality.

I’ve been day dreaming about lake homes lately. I don’t know if it’s just a built in fantasy coming from the land of 10,000 lakes or if it’s the pure serenity that comes from being at the lake. Regardless, the last few weeks of my life have led me to Google searching in all my free time. I’ve been looking at both the realistic possibilities and the true make believe wishes in my head. They’re all beautiful.

lakehome

I sometimes wonder if I messed up along the way. And if so, was there any way I could have altered my path? I’m not saying that everyone needs to have a 4+ year degree of college to even think about owning some beautiful lake front property but someone like me..would. I didn’t go onto a 4 year school because I had no idea or direction of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had many of the same passions I do today but I just didn’t want to be that girl that switched her major 14 times.

Sure, it probably would have payed off but at the time, I didn’t think it was practical. It still isn’t in my opinion but I might have been further down the road of adulthood than I am now. My mom sent me quote over the weekend: “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” written by Earl Nightingale.

And you know what? She’s right. Earl’s right. Whoever. I’ve been making excuses and contemplating for the last couple of years whether or not I should go back to school. I know that I’m bright and intelligent. I hold many great qualities the people in the work force are bound to admire but I’m not satisfied with myself. It doesn’t matter how many complements I get on my work or how proficient I am Monday through Friday, 8-5 because at the end of the day or the week when I have down time, I beat myself up at the lack of accomplishment in my life.

I have full confidence in myself knowing that if I’d been given the opportunity to land an amazing job at anywhere from a highly noted financial institution, to Twitter, to an accounting firm in New York City, that I’d excel at it. Given the world that we live in today though, you won’t even get a second look without a bachelors degree or higher.

Now, I’m not trying to lay myself out on a silver platter or anything, I just wanted to point out the obvious. And I’m right. There are actually people that I know personally who have graduated with honors from there respected universities, yet they know diddly squat in the place that they are beginning their career. Just because your name has a university degree stamped behind it means that you are right for the job?

Don’t get me wrong; I want to go back to school. I love learning and exploring. I want to flood my brain with endless knowledge. I want to cram for a test the next morning, write a 5 page essay. But in order to do that, I have to work. I have to work a full time job. I’m not privileged enough to work a 12 hour a week part time job nor would I want to be.

I graduated from a 2-year community college working 1 full time job and 2 part timers. It made me a strong, motivated person. But it also made me realize that I couldn’t have both. It’s either work or school. I had to decide if I wanted to see what I could find with my 2 year and if it would get me anywhere. Or I could have continued on, not knowing what to major in all the while keeping up with the dead end full time waitressing gig. Would it have paid off? It might have. If I would have continued on; I’d more than likely have been done by now but what would I be doing? Where would I be going?

My mom has offered the suggestion of night school and/or online classes for a couple years now. Although I’ve brushed it off in the past; I think I might have to take that advice just to get my foot in the door. I have many passions but none of which I can see myself making a career out of. The biggest of which is photography. I would love to learn more about the art. Become formally trained on various editing programs and such but it’s difficult to be truly successful at it seeing that everyone and their sister thinks they are photographers. I also wouldn’t want to put myself through another 3 years of school just to find when I’m done that I’d continue on to live in poverty until I have a portfolio the size of Delaware created just for people to book a session with me.

I know what I’m good at. I’m great with numbers and budgeting. I’m a planner and an organizer. I don’t forget, I’ll get things done no matter how busy or stressed I am. I have great work ethic and perfect any messy situation that I’m thrown into. In all the jobs I’ve ever held, none were like the other. I had all the ingredients and no recipe. I was given the bowl and spatula and made it work. I love the thrill in doing that. The timeline of day one to day 365 where you can still remember the first day of no knowledge to a year later and you could do it with your eyes closed.

But what does that all mean? That isn’t the formula to a career path, it’s just the frosting to the cake. The good stuff, it’s the extra added bonus to the degree behind your name.

penisula

It’s time to stop wishing and hoping and dreaming. I’m beginning to think that it’s time to make a damn change. Even if I take a few classes here or there that simply interest me, I really do think that I’ll feel more accomplished. Hell, at the very least I’ll be learning something new. I’m also bound and determined to make a change in our living situation. We’re tired of the apartment life. I’ve always hated it. White walls and noisy neighbors? The view of a black slab with 50 cars isn’t really what I would call peaceful.

If a mother of 2 can go back to college, work, maintain a happy family life and succeed in doing so than surely I should have the balls to give it a shot. I might not ever be fortunate enough to own a peninsula with 1700 feet of lake shore surrounding it but I will (mark my words, I will) own a beautiful home with a lake view one day.

What are you going to change to make your dreams become a reality? Better yet, what have you done in the past to find success now?