Desert Days

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Life sure is random.
One moment you can be grocery shopping and folding laundry on a calm Sunday afternoon.
The next you can be halfway across the country hiking red rocks...

On Superbowl Sunday the TV kept mentioning Phoenix, Arizona.
I didn't think too much about it. I've never really had any desire to visit Arizona.
It was always just a random state that I would sometimes see cool photos of.
Sometimes see on TV.

While binge eating spinach artichoke dip and laughing hysterically at Katy Perry's halftime performance, it would have never occurred to me that that very night sky she was shooting fireworks up into would soon be the same night sky I would instantly fall in love with...

...The very next weekend.

Monday morning after the Superbowl was like any other Monday at work. Started off calm, slowly sipped my coffee as I refreshed my memory from last week's work.
When all of the sudden I see an email notification pop up in the bottom right hand corner of my screen with the title: PHOENIX, AZ 2/9 as the subject.

I quickly opened it and realized that my work was requesting me to attend a mandatory, 3 week on site training class in Phoenix, AZ from February 9th until the 26th.


I quickly booked all of my travel, celebrated Mitch's 26th birthday with 4 dozen cookies, threw a bunch of tank tops in a suitcase and off I went that following Sunday morning.

I had absolutely
What I was about to experience.


My weekdays were spent in an office 8-5 which really stunk. But luckily I work with an awesome team and they made it entertaining!
After work we would run to our hotel, quickly change into hiking gear, and go out to chase the sun....

Luckily my girls didn't mind me staging impromptu photo shoots either

I went out on my own a few times to do some exploring/meditating and found a few amazing, quiet places all relatively close to Phoenix.

Lake Pleasant had mirage-style desert beauty...

And my absolute favorite spot was Cave Creek Recreation area.
I went here and hiked probably 4-5 times and cannot wait to return.

This place has everything! Horseback riding, easy to moderate hiking trails, camping sites for the snowbirds...

...stunning mountain views, and the tallest cactus you will ever see!

I spent my weekend up in Sedona, AZ...and... WOW.

Have you ever heard of this place? The geography is like stepping  back into the dinosaur age. It's known to have extremely strong 'energy vortexes'  where you can replenish and recharge your spirit. Spiritual or not, the energy omitted from these vortexes was actually measured by scientists in order to track down the exact spot where they are located. So if you only believe in the physical objects you can see, then the Juniper trees are your proof.

This Juniper tree is located right in the middle of the airport overlook vortex.
Notice how the wood appears twisted? It grew that way from living in the vortex.
 So cool.

I only got to hike to two of the four energy vortexes. But I meditated and calmed my mind while at each.
Being alone in the wilderness is the best feeling ever. I always return to my social circles so happy and recharged. It balances your mind and helps ground you. It helps you focus on what's real in life and the few things that truly matter. I highly, highly suggest it.

If I left you curious about this mystical place, my favorite link to help further explain the vortexes in Sedona can be found  Here.


I returned to Phoenix and spent Sunday with my beloved cousin who is more like a sister to me.
I haven't seen her in over a decade!!
We went to brunch,  drank homemade Moscow Mules, cracked up over the crazy stuff we did as kids in the Indiana cornfields, and went for a sunset hike with her husband Matt and their dogs.

They have two adorable, fluffy black dogs; Buddy and Dublin.
Buddy is an old dog that Matt found behind a dumpster near his work.
He used to feed him on his lunch break until one cold day in November he decided enough was enough;
He was bringing him home.

Buddy is now over 12 years old and slowly wobbles his way up the mountain.
Matt patiently stays behind to walk slow with him and make sure he gets up to the top.

While Matt & Buddy were taking a moment to embrace each other, I couldn't help but whip my phone out to capture the moment...

That night when I was editing my photos from the day I teared up looking at this one. It captures the bond we have with our fur babies, who are not pets to us; they're family.


I still cannot believe I just spent half the month of February in ARIZONA.

It all happened so fast. And it totally made me believe in miracles. In the power of Life.

Remember my annual photo collage I create? I hang up 12 photos of some of my fondest memories from the previous year to remind myself on bad days that hey, even your worst days only have 24 hours.
Things always get better.
You will be happy again and go on another adventure!

Well I remember hanging these up on my wall the first week of January and stopping to just stare at them.
And thinking to myself.... 'There is no way you will go on this many adventures in one year again'

January I spent a long weekend with my Albro family in Florida, and had my very first real photo shoot.

February was spent meditating all over Arizona....

March: Montana? Puerto Rico? At this point, nothing would surprise me

Just last month, if you would have told me that I would soon be reunited with my old college roommate who I have always viewed as nothing short of an angel, and at times sadly thought I may never see again...
I probably would have teared up and said
'I wish'

My Monday looked like this:

Just last month, if you would have told me that I would soon visit Dierks Bentley's famous 'Whiskey Row' bar and have a much needed girls night out, chock full of belly laughs and beer, I would have never believed you and thought in my head:
'I wish..'

My Thursday night looked like this:


Since we moved down South, I have always wanted a wind chime for our apartment balcony. The sweet sound reminds me of awesome thunderstorms blowing in from the West when I was a little girl growing up in Indiana. No matter what mood I'm in, the sound of a wind chime makes me smile.

So because wind chimes carry such fond memories for me, I refused to buy one from a mass produced department store.
I always envisioned myself picking one up in Key West or some roadside shack up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I wanted to look at it and hear it and feel some kind of emotional attachment to it...

Never in a billion, trillion years would I have guessed that my beautiful wind chime would come from my cousin who I haven't seen in 12 years, and bought from a free spirit at the cutest farmers market in Arizona.
Just blows my mind.

Pun intended.


Arizona now holds a very strong place in my heart.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't even considering moving there.

I don't know what my future holds.
But after my sudden adventure in the Southwest...I know it's a bright one.
Filled with many random adventures.

Not a middle finger. haha

Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment below if you are curious about my Phoenix area hiking spots or my time in Sedona! Or if you just want to know how damn good the fried pickles at Whiskey Row were.

Until the next adventure.......

Greetings from Charleston, SC

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Being wedged between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Carolina coast, I've found myself gravitating more towards the ocean than the mountains.
While I haven't earned the title of seasoned lowcountry explorer yet, I do have some great recommendations of places to go, things to see, and yummy places to eat!

When most people think of taking a beach vacation, the first places that probably come to mind are:
1. Florida
2. Caribbean

But did you know the South Carolina coastline can be an awesome, quieter, and in some ways less expensive coastal vacation?

Let's be honest here; the Palmetto state does not offer pristine white sand beaches.
But it does offer a one of a kind, historically Southern landscape -- palm trees included!

A visit to the 'Lowcountry' as local's call it, really takes you back in time.
Does the above house look familiar? It was Allie's summer home in the Notebook! Located right here in .....

Charleston, SC.

Placed right in the middle of Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head island, it's one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Carolina. And with good reasoning.

Cobblestone roads, plantations, and riverfront dining make this Southern City a place you'll never forget.

I'm a morning person, and I live for a nice healthy breakfast to get my day started. About a year ago my mom & I found a locals favorite for breakfast: Three Little Birds Cafe.

This cute and quaint little cafe was hard to find my first visit. It's located in the middle of a parking lot in an old shopping plaza! Plenty of parking, service is always fantastic, and the lox is to die for.
I return to this place every time I'm in town :)

My other recommendation is for those of you who, like me, enjoy eating a giant ice cream cone in replacement of a meal:
Check out that full moon

Jeni's Ice Cream on Charleston's main strip, King St.
Always natural ingredients paired with wild & wacky flavors such as Loveless Biscuits & Peach Jam or Riesling Poached Pear make this place an ice cream shoppe you won't soon forget.

Brace yourself - you'll inevitably spend  more time in this shoppe than the average ice cream run. The personable staff will let you, scratch that, encourage you to try every single flavor!

Can't wait to go back.

A perfect day downtown Charleston would involve grabbing a giant ice cream cone at Jeni's and strolling along the infamous Battery Point a few blocks away!

I've got to work on capturing a better photo of this 'rainbow row' of beautiful, antique Charleston homes.
They have Key West blues, hot pinks, you name it!
Some are private residencies while others are actually bed & breakfasts.
I have yet to stay at one but it's on my bucket list!
Stay tuned for that...


So now that your belly is full you're ready for some exploration.

Have no fear.
Charleston's got a LOT.

I've been there probably 5 times so far and my to do list only grows with each visit.

Here are my favorites:

Can you spot me?

One of Charleston's top attractions is the whimsical, fairytale land known as Magnolia Plantation.

And I say 'Whimsical'  with good reasoning; because at this Plantation, things like this will happen:

This Plantation is very family friendly.
For the adults you can stroll through the house and gardens, learning absolutely everything there is to know regarding the history of the grounds. Wonderful photo opportunities as well.
And for the kids, there's a petting zoo and bush mazes in the gardens!

I spent an entire day at this plantation and didn't cover everything; it's definitely a two-day weekend event if you want to see it all! So I will be returning in the near future.
See you there?

My absolute favorite plantation in the Charleston area, though...


My first visit here was on my 1 year wedding anniversary weekend, and what a perfect place to celebrate LOVE.

Some people visit for the history, others visit for the ample photo opportunities, but most people visit because yes, this is Allie's summer home in The Notebook. And by golly they want to touch those gates where Ryan Gosling slammed his truck into!

This place is also very family friendly. The canopy tour will drive you around the plantation and tell you everything there is to know. You'll go by gator filled swamps, fields of pecan trees and watermelon, then stop at their 'butterfly cafe' for homemade pecan ice cream.

mmm mmm mmm!

This place has wonderful energy and the staff make you feel like family. You can go inside the plantation house, but a man actually lives on the second floor so it's roped off.
Imagine having tourists come into your house all day?

Speaking of the Notebook, you can also walk by the theater where Allie & Noah had their first date:

The theater is no longer in service, but they still keep the old sign up for tourist/movie fanatics!
How cute is that baby announcement!?

You can find this theater at 446 King Street in Charleston.

My final recommendation is the beautiful Cypress Gardens.

Is that a fairytale or what?
Again, the Notebook filmed their infamous row-boat scene here; where Allie & Noah were rowing around the hundreds of gorgeous white ducks.

You pay something like $10/person for entrance into this beautiful gardens area and have free access to the row boats, a small aquarium and a nature center.
Another family friendly place!

The staff are one of a kind. They are the epitome of Southern hospitality.
My first visit here was the day after my birthday, and after I told the kind woman working the front desk that it was my birthday weekend, she proceeded to tell me she is a singer and dropped everything she was doing to sing Happy Birthday to me! Girl had some pipes too.
I was downright flattered.


There are so many other islands to explore near Charleston. Like Kiawah, Edisto, Beaufort and Hilton Head to name just a few. Wild dolphins are everywhere and there's nothing more beautiful than a 100+ year old oak tree covered in Spanish Moss. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be a frequent visitor to the South Carolina coast but, here I am. And absolutely loving it. It's truly a different world out there.

Feel free to email me at or leave a comment if you have anymore specific questions or even suggestions of places for me to check out!

I'll see you out there.
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