a summer and a surprise

i’m back, everyone!

the weather lately has me feeling all sorts of ways, and ways only a blog post can really relieve, you know? seems like as soon as labor day passed, fall came in overnight. and i love fall, i do. but i dread the end of summer, especially one like this. 

so i thought i would give a little nod to summer, and because i can hardly put it off much longer - let you in on what’s next for me.

as many of you know, (and are probably completely annoyed by at this point) i have traveled to so many places since graduation. it all went on almost completely unplanned, unraveling just as it went - and yet somehow working out perfectly, every last time.

over 12 weeks i visited 15 states, 4 national parks, 2 countries, and did (approximately) a million miles in the car. and as i found myself at the threshold of all of these places i never imagined seeing just months prior, i fell in love with every single one. hard. i left a little bit of my heart everywhere i went, in a way that makes me feel more full of love and contentment than ever before, but also a little homesick for those places, too.

here are some of my favorite places i ended up in:

munising, michigan

beaver creek, colorado

estes park, colorado

frisco, colorado

moab, utah

ocean city, new jersey

seattle, washington

vancouver, bc

in the longest four months of my life, and in a fleeting moment, i’ve seen some incredible corners of the world. what’s more, i’ve felt them. (so. much. emotion.) and it only makes me want more, right? like you can’t eat one travel potato chip. or have one lick of the travel ice cream cone. like the newness and discovery of traveling is that sleeping bag that, now that it’s been unwound and lived in, there’s no easy way to just stuff it back in the cramped case it came from. which is fitting, because pesky sleeping bags truly do define my summer. 

and so me and the half-stuffed sleeping bag on my bedroom floor need to tell you that the grand finale of this grand summer is this: i’m moving across the country. in three weeks. because i can't imagine doing anything else.

i’m moving to seattle. maybe just because all of my favorite things are from seattle: starbucks, amazon, nordstrom, REI. i do love rain, and, hey! my best friend is there.

getting a job* there, well, that was a factor in my decision too. :)  

but at the end of the day, there is one true reason i’m moving to seattle: because i know it will make me happy. because it’s spontaneous. because i can. because life at 22 is far too short to not take every opportunity to do something like pack a bag and move across the country. 

when the opportunity arose, it felt so unreal, a surprise. but i look back on the summer i've had, and even my college years before it, and know that this is something i've been preparing for, waiting for, nearly begging for, so long before the actual offer came and the flight was booked. 

and so i'm moving to seattle. 

the next few weeks are going to be crazy, right? working, packing, and crossing things off of my minneapolis bucket list all before i say goodbye on the 28th. and as much as there are things i need to do, even more so there are people i need to see, drinks to be had, and i love you's to be said. so drop me a line, and let's have a little fun.

let’s make summer last just a touch longer, ok?

thanks for reading, always.

*i’ll be working at a startup architecture and interior design blog, doing a mix of creative, editorial, research, and marketing. and i am so, so excited.

the trip

you need to know something, ok?

and it's that i can sit here and punch away words that i think will give you just a hint of what it felt like to see the unimaginable places i saw. it truly brings me joy, simply to look back on this trip and recreate the moments for myself and others. but if you want the other 99.9% of this experience, you’ll just have to get out there and live it.

and when you do, you will hit literal and figurative bumps on the road when you step in to a place you’ve never been. and that’s ok. we did.

we spent a little more than we had planned when unplanned things arose. and that’s ok. to travel out west and camp without becoming a complete hobo -  what i can tell you is it isn’t free. but i think i had to step back and ask myself: is it about the price, or the worth? and how much would i pay to be able to see the world?

and so i am far less fearful of wasting money than wasting time.  

so i can’t promise you that you won’t get a flat tire or encounter a few critters or that the weather will be ideal or you’ll never make a wrong turn.  

but i can guarantee that you will be filled with such a profound sense of appreciation for the world you live in and the life you are blessed to live. and that is worth everything. 

i’m going to divide this trip in to three separate posts, ok? colorado, utah, and parks. 

because if i divide everything in to three, i feel like i’m rambling less (it may not feel that way to you, of course).

so with that, enjoy this little peek in to our days out west. i hope you’ll enjoy it to even the slightest fraction of how much we adored this piece of the fleeting summer. 

“a man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. we need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.”                                                                

-edward abbey, desert solitare
 

parks

ARCHES

as soon as we rolled in to moab, we skipped looking for a campsite (poor idea) and went straight to our first hike in arches. in the scorching afternoon heat, we trekked out to delicate arch - you may recognize it from the utah license plate! at over 4 stories tall, it’s one of the more picturesque as well as accessible arches in the park. be it hot, it ended up being our favorite hike.

arches brought it’s wow factor not only with the arches themselves, but towering walls of sandstone and rock formations that defied gravity. our most common phrase of the entire trip was probably, “how is that even real?” 

and the second was, “why are there so many french people?”, and by so many i mean 90% of the moab tourist population. evidently french people are really turned on by utah’s national parks and not turned off by the heat. and yes, they were from “real france” and not canada and i know because i asked, thank you very much. 

a few other notable hikes we did in arches included a morning outing to landscape arch - which is getting dangerously thin - double o arch and black arch. we also loved the windows section of the park, which doesn’t require as much hiking but gets you up close and personal with some huge holes in the rock. it was also a pretty good spot to hide out during a thunderstorm, we learned.

CANYONLANDS

even thought theY ARE closer together than minneapolis and saint paul, arches and canyonlands are completely different places. we didn’t expect their geology could be so drastically different, and so we were shocked leaving the desert floor of arches to stand above the desert all together in canyonlands. where at arches we looked up at something, in canyonlands we gazed down at everything. if arches was oranges and red, canyonlands was greens and blues. it was even cloudy on the day we went there, whereas every day in arches led to sunny skies. 

canyonlands is divided in to three separate districts, because the rivers demand so and this is utah so we don’t build bridges, ok? which would demand highways, or even roads or goat paths so, three divisions it is. the closest section to moab is called island in the sky, but there’s also the needles district (which looks more like arches), and the maze district (which is where 127 hours happened so watch your arms if you go there). in our way to island in the sky, i kept remarking on what a weird mouthful of a name for a national park. and now, having been there, i can’t imagine calling it anything else. the entire park winds a top a plateau that drops off in tiers for thousands of feet, offering views that span beyond state lines. it felt like, ok don’t hate me - an island in the sky.

when i think of the southeast utah, all i can say is it is of another world. it makes you feel wonderfully and fearfully small. and it will make you say “i love rocks”. and you will love them. you will. 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

and then there was rocky mountain national park. it is incomparably beautiful to the desert parks, where you can summit towering peaks, and laid out before you is america’s iconic mountain range. the only way through the park is the 48-mile trail ridge road, which seems to have too many switchbacks and too few guardrails to actually be legal - perhaps why they close it all winter. but without it, we never could have climbed to the incredible, nausea-inducing heights. just alongside the road we saw moose! and elk! and people struggling with their car transmissions! incredible. 

further on, we walked along a trail at the very top of the road, where the wind whipped so hard we feared a small child would be swept away. (a new selling proposition for kid leashes, guys?!) and we also felt this strong, crazy sense of thrill that i imagine is why people climb mountains. it is exhilerating, even if you drive. even if you see it for a fleeting moment. 

aside from our hike in the arctic tundra (actually, what it’s called), we hopped out at a few scenic spots as well as the continental divide. and so we spent about six hours in the park, and most of it driving up mountain passes winding down in to meadows that were blushed with wildflowers and serene alpine lakes. our last stop was in one of those meadows, to enjoy a little picnic lunch overlooking the towering peaks. 

i wish i could find better words to describe it all to you. maybe you’ll just have to go see it for yourself. and i hope that you do.

utah

our trip to utah was both everything we had imagined and completely different than we could have ever planned for. 

leaving beaver creek, we drove the last hour miles in to moab on highway 128, a scenic highway that carves it’s way through towering red canyon along the colorado river. hyper with excitement for this new place, we jumped out of the car at every vista along the way. 

it was amazing how we could feel so small and far away from everything and then see a group of 30 boy scouts floating down the colorado on giant rafts. oh, hi. and so that was the first thing we figured out about utah - everyone’s active, even in the dog days of summer.

downtown moab is a tribute to this. it’s single street downtown is full of gear shops, sporting goods, and adventure trip companies where you can sign up to do just about anything - raft, hike, bike, jeep. 

with it’s unarguably laid back attitude, moab is a tourist hub for those coming for  adventures. you wouldn’t come to moab and not be outdoorsy. the notorious slickrock bike trail is just moments from moab, and riders as well as 4x4 drivers come from near and far to tackle the terrain. the colorado river offers some excellent raft trips (though i would be miserably ill). but most of all, moab is a doorstep town. a hub between two incredible national parks. arches, and canyonlands.

and even in the heat of the summer, moab is busy - busier than we thought it would be. busy enough to struggle finding a campsite before settling it to on a spot 3 miles from the town, along highway 128 and the river.

it was a tad overgrown with shrubbery which made me more uncomfortable than i’d like to admit - because there are plenty of things that crawl and slither in the desert and not one did i want to encounter, let alone in my tent. but for the few days, the site was perfect and i made it through with only one major episode, which i won’t detail as i would love to retain just a piece of my pride. 

when you go to utah you really get to put on your badass badge, right? because it’s still a little bit of uncharted territory. you won’t find a guardrail between you and a 1,500 foot drop on a hiking trail. and there are spiders the size of kittens waiting to eat you at your campsite. but that’s ok, because if you can hang there then you can see some things you couldn’t even imagine exist. 

go to utah.


places we loved

peace tree juice cafe / we hung out here one hot afternoon and bummed wifi while i had some locally roasted coffee and chris sipped the most deliciously thick peanut butter smoothie ever.

moab brewery / moab is a weird place to drink, thanks to utah’s mormonism. which makes this place a true oasis - and the beer is great too.

eklecticafe / OK CAUGHT ME, we didn’t actually make it here, but i wanted to. if you make it to moab, please fulfill my dreams. 

colorado

once we were burned out (or moreover burnt up) on utah, we decided to head back for a little more of colorado. 

driving back on I 70, we made it about three hours before stopping in glenwood springs to soak in a massive natural hot spring. if you didn’t know better, you would think it’s just a giant swimming pool alongside the mountains. but the water is blissfully warm and cleansing in a way that chlorine falls far short on. though after 4 days in the hot utah sun (sans showers), i think we still would have dove in had the water been ice cold and dirty.

further down the road, we settled for the evening outside of mountain-town frisco. we snagged the very last campsite, a picturesque grassy knoll just 20 yards from the shore of lake dillion (which is actually a massive man-made reservoir, but unimportant).

we popped back in to frisco and made a quick stop at whole foods before spending the evening walking down what must be one of america’s best mainstreets. coffeeshops, bars, boutiques, even an outdoor concert lined nearly a mile of frisco’s downtown, and we easily settled in for a drink and a giant pretzel on the patio of a german bar. 

though we were still “camping”, it felt so nice to be clean and back in more familiar territory. i would attribute 90% of that to the crisp temperature of the mountains - frisco sits above 9,000 ft.

so in the cool night air, chris took time lapses of the stars as we sat out at the campfire. as the sun came up again, we sat on the shores of lake dillon and waited for it to peek over the eastern mountains. it was a sight i won’t soon forget. 

we hopped over to ski-mecca breckenridge for a latte before our day continued on to rocky mountain national park (including a picnic), and ended in boulder, colorado.

for being on the front range, there’s really no camping in or around bolder, so we grabbed a hotel (courtesy of dad, thanks!) and had the chance to see pearl street with chris’s old roommate, niko. the food, the company, and atmosphere was all right and it is clear to me how so many people fall for boulder. 

as the next morning came, we knew it was time to be heading for home again, and after an early breakfast at one of boulder’s best, we hit the road for omaha - where we would cross paths for the night with chris’s parents. we were so happy to see them and spend time with them before making it home the next day. 

all of our time in colorado slipped by so quickly, and the two of us agreed time and time again on the way home that we need to make it back to this special place. there are a million different worlds within the state lines, and my heart won’t be content until i’ve taken a piece of all of them. 


places we loved

prost beer hall / tiny beer hall in frisco where you can sit on the sidewalk and drink liters of beer. they also have approximately 15 types of mustard.

cuppa joe coffee / small coffeeshop in breckenridge where you can get an oatmeal latte. what.

t’aco / a very hip and urban taco joint in boulder. ever been to antique taco in wicker park? it's just like that. haven't? k take my word for it.

walnut cafe / what's the best breakfast you could imagine eating on the sidewalk of a strip mall? multiple that by two million. 

snooze: an a.m. eatery / we stopped here in denver and almost didn't leave. just go to their website. look at the menu. try not to drool on your keyboard (but i won't judge if you do).