What I learned.

I never even once thought of the people I’d meet on this trip. I was like, “I’m a solo traveler within a group; everyone is going to be doing their own things.” It didn’t even occur to me that I might meet people and even more so, meet people that I could grow to adore in such a short time.

Just writing that makes my eyes swell up with tears. The people I met this week were just as incredible as Iceland is. I focused my writings a lot on the trip itself but haven’t included much about the people that I’ve met along the way; mostly for their privacy. I have some feel-good stories and many moments in my journal that I’ll keep for myself to remember them by and cherish forever. I don’t know if any of us will ever cross paths again in this life, but I hope we do. It makes my heart so warm knowing there are people in the world that have the same wanderlust spirit and taste for adventure that I do because it’s easy to forget that when surrounded by people with different desires.

G (Gunner, our tour guide) was absolutely incredible. She is so proud of her heritage and of her country. She’s kind and welcomes you warmly and she’s so consistent. She’s not “on” and you can’t see through her because she is 100% genuinely authentically incredible. There was an elderly couple on our trip that had been all over the world; 100+ countries in their time together. The last time they’d been to Iceland was 1966. My mom was one! While some of their travels over the years was for work; a lot of it was for adventure and pleasure, too. They said that our guide was one of the top 5 EVER. In the 50+ years of traveling, Gunner Rosdottir is in their top 5. Talk about a compliment and it doesn’t even do her near as much justice as she deserves.


Guys, I’m so proud of myself. Like, in the best possible way. I can’t even think about it without crying and all of these feels are the most wonderful kind.

I noticed on face book that people are posting what they looked like at the beginning of the decade and at the end; most of them glow-ups but honestly that’s only due to fashion. I reflected on this on my last jaunt of a flight home. Physically, I’m much heavier now than I was at the beginning of this decade; is that a glow-down? I’m sure I’ve learned how to do my makeup a bit better and I’ve hopefully upgraded my fashion game but so much more has changed internally for the better rather than externally.

My life is split up into a handful of segments and I don’t know if that’s normal or not. A decade ago, I was in the early years of what would become a rocky and tumultuous relationship. I was more insecure than I’d ever been in my life and thought that by loving someone harder, I could fix them. Seven years ago, I was forced to leave that relationship because my mom and brother moved me out in the middle of the night due to an explosive conversation they heard when I secretly dialed my moms number. That didn’t last. He was broken and I was the only one that could salvage what life he had left in him. Or so I thought.

He didn’t share the same sense of adventure that I had. So, five years ago, I took the first step into not waiting around anymore for my life to begin. I started traveling with my mom. I feel like my first trip with my mom, through reflection, was my first real step into gaining Independence from an abusive situation. It took me another three years before I finally left that broken relationship.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I left the man that I’d loved with every ounce of my being for nearly a decade; for my entire adult life. I don’t know if i’ll ever be able to love someone the way I did him ever again. I know I’m capable of love; I’m a lover by nature but he took a piece of me that I’ll never be able to give someone again. A love that was fueled by pain. A love that I’m not willing to go through or forfeit to anyone ever again. I want a love that will move mountains, not dig graves.

That same two years ago, I was so unbelievable lost and broken in the truest sense. I came to realize that I wasn’t a person. My entire being existed to make his life better. I didn’t have a sense of self because it died when I left. I wish I could have told that girl then what I’d be doing now. She never would have dreamed of visiting Ireland and Scotland in 2018. She never would have dared go on a solo trip to the North Shore in her home-state. She didn’t think she’d ever get to see the Grand Canyon and she never ever, in a millions years, would have guessed that she’d travel to Iceland alone. I wish I would have told that girl that she’ll get through the pain and immerse the cocoon of heartbreak stronger and more powerful than she could have ever dreamt. I’m so proud of the woman I’ve become. I’ve always been strong but I can’t get over just how strong I am. How I can do this life and do it well, all on my own.

I know that I frequently reference this period of my life; this relationship.. And while I’m not defined by it now, it did define my life and who I was in it for a third of my life. So, I think it’s okay to refer back to it because it will always be there and it’ll always be a stepping stone of chapters in my long life of book. I’m only 30. I have so many more pages to grow from.


Thank you, dear readers, for coming on this journey with me. I’ll leave you with a quote by an Icelandic Nobel Peace Prize winner. Our tour guide recited it to us on one of our magical days traveling through the land of fire and ice:

“Where the glacier meets the sky, the land ceases to be earthly, and the earth becomes one with the heavens; no sorrows live there anymore, and therefore joy is not necessary; beauty alone reigns there, beyond all demands.” – Halldór Laxness

Day 3: The Golden Circle.

Where do I start? As I may have already mentioned, for the first time, I didn’t blog on my trip. Rather, I journaled and am now transcribing those scribbles upon my return to the States.

Though, my notes are brief at times, I remember day 3 as one of my most cherished. It was a busy day from sunrise to well past sunset as we ventured The Golden Circle. Here we go..

Þingvellir National Park: No big or anything but I spent the morning walking through 9000 year old LAVA WALLS. I seriously feel like I’m watching someone else live this life. Water thousands of years old flowing from glaciers.. Paths carved out of lava fields for us to explore; the same fields are more vast and higher in the air than most buildings where I live. This National Park is on North American and Eurasian Tectonic Plates. When we arrived, we entered on the North American side and when we left, we were on the Eurasion. Who knew science and the Earth we live on could be so facinating? Like, where was I in school when they explained this stuff?

Friðheimar Tomato & Horse Farm: Stationed near Reykholt, I met two sweetheart Icelandic horses, learned all about their lineage and about tomato farming in Iceland. Did you know that there are 100K Icelandic horses in Iceland and over 160K in the rest of the world due to exporting? Also, Icelandic horses are the only horse bred that lives in Iceland.

Here, I sipped savory homegrown tomato soup with a dollop of sour cream and paired it all with the freshest of baguettes. Anyone that knows me, knows a good tomato soup and grilled cheese will put a smile on my face.

At any given time, there are over 600 bees pollinating the tomatoes of Friðheimar. One neat thing to know, is that the tomatoes grown here, are only sold in Iceland for Icelanders; they don’t export them.

This was actually one of the trip itinerary items I was least interested in initially and it turned out to be such an awesome way to experience Iceland at a much slower pace. Inside a warm greenhouse full of tomato vines and yellow lights among a group of people who were strangers just two days ago, somehow, felt like home.

Gullfoss aka The Golden Waterfall: Gullfoss literally took my breath away. The wind was strong today and there were talks of the waterfall being closed to the public because of it. Praise Jesus and his apostles for a break in the weather. Waterfalls are my kryptonite. While I’m not the epitome of health, I will cross any barrier no matter the difficulty to witness a waterfalls rushing waters and transformative powers. The trek to Gullfoss was the most difficult (there and back) that I’d ever taken. The winds were some of the fastest i’d ever experienced, the rain and snow mixture was in full force and the amount of people at Gullfoss was beyond countable. At one point, I saw a small woman, she couldn’t have been more than 5′ 3″ and 105 pounds. She was crawling up the hill holding on for her life to the ropes just to get a glimpse. I could barely keep upright myself, imagine the core strength on that woman. But, at last, I made it. And I took in ever single second I could. I’m sure I’ve said it and I’ll likely say it again but this view was one for a lifetime. One full of words that I don’t have the vocabulary for and one, that a photograph cannot do justice. P.S. This beautiful Golden Waterfall is the largest in Europe.

Strokkur Geysir: Next up was a hot spring geothermal park, another first. The short hike to the geysir was quiet and easy but getting TO the geysir was a different story thanks to my nemesis, ice. At one point, I took a step and, like in a movie, I slowly slid backwards about 20 feet. It probably took me 10 minutes just to get those 20 feet. Thankfully, a couple fellow travelers making their way back down found goodness within them to help a struggling me make my way to the geysir. For a moment, I felt embarrassed but then, the geysir erupted and any sense of who I was in that moment or how I felt disappeared. It’s okay to ask for help and accept it. If you don’t, you might miss one of the biggest moments in your life.

That concludes day 3 of Iceland; the Golden Circle. On our way back to Reykjavik, we stopped in Hveragerði for hot dogs and ice cream, which, is a PERFECT combo if you ask me. Later in the evening, a couple of us took a stroll to grab a late night snack. We happened across Íslenska Hamborgarafabrikkan and landed there. Each time a baby is born in Iceland, a bell rings in this restaurant and automatically adds to the population sign near the back of the building. The bell rang a handful of times when we were there, so cool!

I don’t know if I’ve yet mentioned it but the water in Iceland is hands down, the best water in the entire world. It is Iceland’s only natural resource and it is so clean and crisp. I’ve already ordered myself a case of Icelandic glacier water to be shipped home. It should be there the day after I arrive.

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.