nova scotia: an adventure

Nova Scotia is a Canadian province situated on the Atlantic Ocean above Maine.  It has vineyards and shipyards and the Bay of Fundy and Halifax and a giant moose statue and Tim Hortons. It also happens to be the home of my friend Kelsey. Kelsey and I lived in Montana together in the summer of 2013. This year she visited to doctor and came home with some less than great news, so I decided that a visit would be the best medicine. And I just fricking missed her. 

In early July I hopped on a night flight to spend a week exploring her college home. Our first day we started out with a classic Canadian breakfast -- donuts and coffee! And hoped in the car with Kelsey's amazing friends Marisha, Alex, and Hannah to explore Peggy's Cove. Fortunately for me, Hurricane Arthur decided to visit Nova Scotia at the same time! So our day was windy and wavy and cloudy and downright spooky. The world doesn't always work the way we want it to, but it's beautiful even still. After exploring the lighthouse and waterfront, we stopped into the tourist trap restaurant and I tried my first clams and had some amazing seafood bisque. This is a high compliment coming from a gal who has been working in a soup shop for over a year. 

Hannah, Koly, Kelsey, Marisha, and Alex posing at Peggy's Cove on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia.

Hannah, Koly, Kelsey, Marisha, and Alex posing at Peggy's Cove on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia.

I spent time being present, rather than behind my camera lens most of the trip to be honest. I only had a week with Kels and wanted to make sure I didn't miss a moment, even if it meant being missed in a photograph. We spent time walking around Halifax, hosting a BBQ, dancing with dads at the local tavern, doing my first jagger bomb with frat boys, and playing trivia at a bar on the Fourth of July. We lost by two points during the American section because we couldn't remember when Kanye and Kim got married. Go team USA, amiright? One day we spent exploring Lunenburg, a picturesque harbor where the famous Bluenose racing ship is docked and currently being restored. Claudia, from Lunenburg, showed us around the town and to a secret beach. 


For the first time in my life, I got to visit a vineyard when I was in Nova Scotia. The vineyard we visited during our stay was located in the Annapolis Valley called Luckett Vineyards. It is relatively new, but darn good. In the middle of the vineyard they have a British telephone booth that you can make a free call to anywhere in the world from. Naturally, we called our moms. 

The week Kelsey and I spent together was wonderful in so many different ways. I am so grateful to have a friend who can pick up where we left off after a year of being apart. 10/10 would visit again, and you should to! 

pictured rocks: an adventure

In August Erika, Lauren (aka pup luv), Taylor, and I journeyed north to camp at pictured rocks. We were expecting a week of sunshine, swimming, and general merriment. Thankfully we got the merriment, but not much sunshine or swimming. An hour into our drive up it started raining. Lacking in sunshine, we made up for it with glorious attempts to sing along to Beyonce, making fun of my mix CD's from high school, and passing an amish buggy an hour from GR. After properly celebrating Erika losing her UP virginity (read: she took a selfie), we stopped at the mystery spot. For those of you who don't know, the Mystery Spot is a popular tourist destination in St. Ignace that was created in the 50's. SPOILER ALERT: there isn't much mystery to it. It's literally a house built on a tilted foundation and they have trick levels to throw off the kiddos and exhausted tourists. We laughed so hard we almost got kicked out of the tour by our 17 year old tour guide who was clearly sick of her summer job.

After our Mystery Spot detour, pasty sampling, gas station rendezvous, and losing $10 on lotto tickets, we made it to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  And we searched for an hour for a campsite. All of the campsites we stopped at were full, save for the handicapped site we found that we would need to leave by 11 the next day. So our idea to set up camp for 3 nights turned into a grand caravan over northern Michigan for the next 4 days. Much to our surprise, it was cold as heck in the UP. We were prepared for LP camping, and ended up wearing 90% of the clothes we brought at night. Erika is a little too tall for her napsack and I'm surprised she didn't get frostbite on her toes. To warm up and calm down, we started a fire and roasted way to many hot dogs.

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The next morning pup luv woke up at the crack of dawn and started us a fire to make cowboy coffee over because I'm a dumbass and forgot the french press at home. Slowly we all rolled out of bed and packed up camp to try and find our next campsite. After an awkward negotiation and incredibly kind camping neighbors, we procured a campsite at 12 Mile Beach campground and left for our big hike. 

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The Chapel Loop hike is 10 miles long, most of it along the cliffs of Lake Superior. One mile into  the trail I ran into my friend Charissa from school and did a classic whoo girl scream in the middle of the forest. (I really don't understand why I have the coolest friends in the universe because I am an embarrassment to humanity 90% of the time). The hike was so peaceful, save for my whoo girl moment. It was an overcast and cool day, but moving around kept us warm but not sweaty. When we got to Mosquito Beach the sun came out and swimsuit-less we decided to jump in Lake Superior.. in our underwear. (Sorry for the pictures mom). Mosquito Beach is unique because it is not a sand beach, it's a sandstone beach. So you walk out on sheets of sedimentary rocks (hoping not to slip!) and it gradually brings the water up to your collar bone then you step further and DROP off into the abyss. It was magical, it was spiritual, and best of all, we had a stranger take a picture of our half naked butts. 

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Our evening was spent making family dinner over the open fire, watching the sunset, Lauren petting all the dogs she could find, and a bottle of whiskey. It was blissful, but freezing. The next morning we woke up cold and sore and decided that this group of trolls needed to head home. Our morning was slow and simple, we made it to the bridge by two. This particular drive was about 90% quieter than our drive up. The week was coming to a close. We arrived in Petoskey in the late afternoon and after setting up our tent, we all took a nap in the sunshine. Our neighbors thought we were freaks. After hearing us lamenting over not bringing an axe they came over and told us we could borrow anything from them if we needed. The plates on their trailer were from Ontario. That night we sat on the ground around our fire pit and all of the surrounding neighbors hung out at their fire pit and torched a pallet. I'm not sure who's cooler, but we had a dance party to M.I.A. while we unpacked the car so it's really a toss up. 

I am so grateful for this group of girls and this week we shared. To be surrounded by the beauty of God's good earth and some amazing human beings was refreshing and restoring. Thank you Lauren and Taylor and Erika for making the week so great and putting up with my mix CD's from 2010.

amplified stillness

"Name five things you are grateful for, go! go! go!" is the new daily conversation/text message my housemate Victoria shouts at me.  A week ago I watched a video on how expressing your gratitude increases your happiness and we'be been putting it into practice. It's awkward sometimes, but it's refreshing.  It's jumping into a calm lake in the heat of summer.  It makes your heart a little fuller.  

Today I am thankful for the weekend I spent adventuring around norther Michigan with Victoria.  We spent time listening to Arcade Fire, reading Buddy Wakefield poems aloud, reflecting on our choices, praying for each other, and cuddling to keep warm in our tent.  I am thankful for my great aunt and for sharing her stories with us Monday afternoon on her farm.  I am thankful for Abi the goat who thinks she's a dog.  I am thankful for slowing down.  For taking time to reflect. For places where the internet is banished from and the mantra "Be Here Now."