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: Peace in solitude.

Today’s post and I think those that follow for the rest of the trip will be a bit differnt then what you’re used to. I’m focussing on taking it all in and don’t want to get sucked into my laptop at the end of the day. I’d love to spill out all of the feelings for every single thing I’ve gone through today but this will have to do for now. Plus, I’m exhausted but the good exhausted. Finally.


This was the first of many trails and trials today at Gooseberry Falls and beyond. Little did I know, my night would end with a 300 steep step hike three state parks away.

Gooseberry Falls, Middle and Upper Falls. This is only my second time to Gooseberry but I managed to make my way to the Upper Falls for the first time today and all the way down to the Lower Falls. The Middle Falls, however, is by far my favorite. And the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

I chose the North Shore for my first solo trip because I needed nature and sunshine; I needed to clear my mind of the day to day to press pause and to breathe. I needed quiet and peace. An opportunity to be in alone on purpose. To be by water is so healing and sunrises take my breath away. Hiking surrounded by nothing but the wind and leaves touching my skin allows me to find whatever it is I’m looking for. I’m smiling in this photo because I literally couldn’t stop when I reached the Falls but my trip so far has been filled with a lot of soul searching and meaningful podcasts; crying while listening to a playlist I put together to purposefully make me feel things I didn’t want to feel. I know I add to the #perfectinstalife tragedy but it’s not perfect. We’re all broken in one way or another. I just really love everything I see and I want to share the beautiful things I come across with you all. I hope to make a positive influence on someone in the world one day and the only way I can think to do so is to encourage people to get out there and live; stop waiting for everyone to be ready. If I’m worth it, so are you. 💙

View of Split Rock Lighthouse just north of Pebble Beach on a rocky trail I found to get a closer look. Also, a view of my booty. Three days ago, I’d have never posted a full body shot (even from behind) but fuck it, I’m working on that #BoPo life today. 👌😌

Zen Cairn. Meditating without an app prompting me what to do has been nearly impossible but I’ve wanted to try this practice for a long time. It was only when I stopped thinking about it and finally quieted my mind that I could stack these seven rocks. The bottom one is shaped like a heart; which I found fitting as I really do think that’s the foundation of everything in life.

A ‘moderate to difficult trail’ had me almost saying “nope” at Tettegouche but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do just as much as anyone else regardless of my size. 300 steps down didn’t seem too bad but back up was a feat. I survived and I felt like a badass doing so being pushed by myself.


I hope you still enjoyed this post even though it wasn’t filled with my usual amount of word vomit. Hell, maybe you liked it more.

Day 1: You can smell the gunfire but you can sleep soundly.

In true “is this my life now?” fashion, I didn’t start packing until I woke up this morning. And I didn’t wake up until 9:00 a.m. I’m officially 1+ days beyond my original departure date and time. To top it off, I really didn’t have a set in stone plan to begin with. SO. NOT. LIKE. ME.

Initially, I was due to depart yesterday morning to go camping with my aunt and her family. Due to a few recent events and maybe a minor breakdown or two, I decided I needed to embark on an adventure all on my own. No people, no distractions. For a long time, I’ve trusted that I’m as adaptable as origami but I’m really not; there’s always a but.

I’m accommodating to everyone around me on the outside but I’m not breathing on the inside. I’m often worrying about every action I take wondering if that’s the last one before a major setback; the good ol’ take one step forward and three steps back is always on my mind. I’m delighted for a win, some might even dare say elated; but I’m always waiting for a loss.

While that might not make sense as to why I needed to scratch my non-plans to re-plan a new non-plan; it does to me. I need to hit reset.

So, I found my way to Duluth early this afternoon. I don’t know what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be going next. If you know me even a little bit, you know that’s not a “me” thing to do. I’ve been off balance for well over a year now falling further and further away from my organized, sort of spazy nature of structure and am “winging it” far more often then I feel comfortable with. Some of you might think I’m finally learning how to chill out. Quite the opposite, my friends. I don’t function well like this but I’ve been unable to just sit and scream into a pillow. #toomanyfeels

My solution to feeling like my brain is on fire was to just leave. I’m worried to have let my aunt down by not joining her trip. I’m worried I’ll regret not partaking in bonfire s’mores and solidifying bonds with my cousins. I’m worried that I’m going to spend too much money on this spur of the moment “journey.” And most of all, I’m worried that I will wonder around and not find whatever it is I’m looking for. But I know I need to do it. I need to try to find peace in solitude.

I’m also considering this a trial run solo trip before this fall when I plan to hit up Europe alone. Something I’ve actually been too chicken shit to begin planning. As you’ll find by the start of my adventure below, I’m not nearly as confident or adventurous as I pretend to be. Fake it ’til you make it, ya’ll.


The scariest part of the day was entering Grandmas Bar & Saloon in Duluth. I’ve been here a handful of times in the past but never alone. I first walked around the entire building trying to talk myself into going in. I debated walking back over the bridge to my hotel and jumping in the car to grab some Culver’s so I wouldn’t have to be that loser that eats alone in public. Once I talked myself into going inside a sit down restaurant all by my lonesome, I weirdly avoided eye contact with the host like some kind of thief. But that didn’t work because in true hostess fashion, she kindly said “Table for 1?”

Once I got over the fact that I was in a booth made for one, I ordered myself a $30 dinner like the queen I am. I’ve never done this and I don’t actually think I’m a queen but I thought that if I could talk myself into overcoming fear number 728, I could treat myself to a walleye dinner and a chocolate shake.

I think a common theme on this trip will be spurts of ‘scared dog with a tail between her legs’ and a ‘girl channeling Lizzo at the BET Awards last week.’ Clearly.

I’ll share some photos at the end of this post along the lake-walk at Canal Park. It was a pleasantly beautiful day. I think it maybe hit 75 degrees and with the lake breeze, it was poifect. #shipsonshipsonships today.

The best part of the day, however, was when I decided to head back to the hotel. It overlooks the harbor in Duluth and has a handful of outside seating options. I sat down, turned on some music, and closed my eyes for a bit. Soon after, a couple of older guys decided to join; getting ready to watch the sunset, I presumed.

PSA: I don’t know how to socialize. I hate being a part of the weather conversations everyone with nothing to say talk about and am really not a fan of small talk. Can we all just start talking about real things, plz? Even with that, I’m still awkward AF with people sometimes. So, outside of saying “hello,” I didn’t want to be weird or rude or whatever so I continued to do my own thing while these dudes visited.

But, these men were interesting and I ended up creepily inserting myself into the conversation. It probably wasn’t that creepy but there is a designated amount of time where it’s not weird to join in on a strangers convo. I exceeded that time limit by like, a lot.

The one dude is from Minneapolis and as drunk as a skunk. I think he asked me the same question 5 times before I started changing my answer. The other man, probably in his mid-60’s was fascinating. His name is Mats and he’s from Stockholm, Sweden but now lives in Lexington, Kentucky. He’s a veterinarian and owns an equine clinic down there. Mats, who I can only assume was a player back in his day, shared with us that he’s become a father at least once in every single decade since the 70’s. Yes, re-read that as many times as you want. His oldest is about to be 46 and his youngest just turned 9. [insert wide-eyed emoji here].

Not only that, but because of his equine vet biz, he was commissioned to live in Qatar for 3 years to help train and care for horses in the middle east. I’m the worst person to know what’s going on in the middle east so I was surprised to hear that Qatar is one of the most peaceful places in the world, according to this guy. He said “you can smell the gunfire but you can sleep soundly.” What?

Anyway, he was traveling with his three youngest kids. One lives in Florida, one in Minnesota and the other in Norway. He’s both trying to make up for lost time being away for work for so long and to educate his children via travel because he believes that by traveling at a young age, you can rip down the prejudices in the world by exposing yourself to all sorts of cultures. [now inserting a praise Jesus emoji, a clapping hands emoji, and a YAS QUEEN dancing emoji].


There is so much more to the stories that I heard tonight but that is all for now. While the last few days had been emotionally draining, I’m starting to feel better. I expect I’ll find more hurdles to cross in the next few days but I hope I start to feel more and more comfortable with who I am and what I have to offer. Had I not decided to walk into that restaurant alone or visit with a couple of fellow travelers, I’d never had been exposed to the stories I heard tonight while watching the sun set over Duluth.

 

My Memorial Day Weekend Was Memorable.

10410096_10152414310318363_1536059176270689246_nAs you can see, I haven’t blogged in a good two or so weeks. I don’t know where to start. We went on what I’d call our ‘first real vacation’ over the holiday weekend. I’ve been to a few places before. My parents, boyfriend, and I went to Eau Claire over Labor Day last year so I suppose I should also classify that as a vacation too but..anyways.

10308161_10152414310113363_7604619791352627641_n“C” and I went to Duluth, MN for a nice 4-day getaway. Set aside the backseat driving, our time there, during, and back was absolutely wonderful. On Friday, we didn’t have anything planned since we took our time to get there so we mosied our way down and through Canal Park. This is officially one of my most favorite places in the little bit of the world that I’ve seen. It was almost movie like. Kids were rushing with melting ice cream cones to watch the ships enter the harbor. A little old man was feeding seagulls bread. Tourists were gawking over the lighthouse at the end of the strip. The temperature was 72 degrees with a breeze.

10169411_10152418652473363_927707804006529661_nOn Saturday, we toured the well-known Glensheen mansion and took a cruise aboard the Vista Fleet. With my camera acting as a necklace, I couldn’t stop snapping memories one by one. Don’t worry, I made sure to cherish the moments as well. I know that some people will tell you to live in the moment which is great advice and I like to live by that. 10363843_10152418651168363_3801365417157104304_n But moments aren’t forever. They fade. They are lost. Days, weeks, and years drift by so quickly that we could never expect our minds to remember the little things. Those moments are the ones I photograph. I don’t need to remember my face or his on those days. I don’t need to remember the breeze on my back. But I do and I will need to remember the view. The images that I see will always bring me back to the moments even when I’m old and wrinkly.

To end a beautiful day on the water, we ventured to Enger Park. It’s at the tip-top part of the Duluthian hills. You can see it from Lake Superior as a little thimble at the top of a hill but when you’re up there, after your ears have popped, and you’ve climbed the six flights of stairs, you feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s absolutely breathtaking. To be able to take in North Shore to the Areial Lift Bridge on Canal Park, out into the emptiness of Lake Superior, over the railroad tracks and to Wisconsin is just beautiful. There isn’t any other way to describe it other than that. Simple and peaceful. Life isn’t so hard when you’re on top of a hill looking at all there is to offer.

10265637_10152418646438363_7302329799456455428_o

1554408_10152418647558363_7867321417357191154_nSunday, oh Sunday. It was an adventure to say the least. We traveled about 45 minutes to the north of Duluth along the scenic North Shore route 61. Our first stop was Gooseberry Falls. And to sum it up in one word: breathtaking. I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself adjectivally throughout this post but everything really was “that amazing!” Gooseberry Falls is one of those places that everyone should have on their Bucket Lists. Once you make your way through the little bit of a hike to get there, you’re presented with children and families embracing all the Falls have to offer. It’s gorgeous. We sat on a few rocks right near the underside of the falls and just listened to the water crashing below. 10406759_10152418655333363_957176214802948853_nI sat quietly observing the children playing and the adventure seekers climbing the cliffs. I watched as a man and his dog fitted with booties hopped from rock to rock. We climbed our way down to the “rapids” and slowly but surely took a walk through the water, over the slippery rocks. Feeling the pressure on our ankles and calfs, moving against the current. Moments like those are the ones you smile at while looking into the nothingness off your deck after a long day at work. It was something that I hope to never forget. We would love to make another trip to eastern Minnesota just to see these again.

10312838_10152418653823363_4341966486862979581_nReady for another awe-inspiring view? Split Rock Lighthouse is only about 10 minutes from Gooseberry Falls. How can two of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen be so close in proximity? Jackpot! Lighthouses are my weakness. Really anything sea or ship related to be quite frank. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the history or the mystery. Whatever it may be, bring me to a lighthouse, show me something with an anchor on it and we’ll be best friends until the end.

10298877_10152414309893363_3234319371217711934_nThis past weekend was filled with so much love and laughter, that I can’t even express it in a blog post but I have learned one thing: ENJOY IT. I feel so often that I worry too much about the future and over-analyze my past. I compare myself to others constantly and am afraid that I’m not living my life to it’s full potential. I’m making a proactive effort to change my way of thinking. I’ve been reading so many “find yourself” articles lately, that I really do need to find myself before life continues to drift on by as quickly as it has been. Screw what everyone else is doing. I don’t want my biggest regret to be worrying about everyone and everything else, not going on those trips or spending that money. Not buying that lake property. Not moving to that city and getting that promotion.

So, after a long awaited much deserved (if I do say so myself) vacation to Duluth, MN – live it up people. Make memories with those you love. Take pictures. Take tons of pictures. Laugh, slip, fall down, and get back up. Climb that extra flight to get to the top. Fight for your happiness and make damn sure that smile is real.10309209_10152414281593363_8809544577189953159_n

Much love. -Oar