Summer Roadtrip // Week 6

After leaving the lake on Monday, we made a quick stop in Asheville to pack up our things for the next leg of our journey. We drove six hours to Nate's cousin Chris' house near Washington D.C. and headed to bed early to prepare for our big tourist day. 

Tuesday we toured D.C. as fast as we possible could! We biked 9 miles from Chris's house, through Arlington and into downtown, with a quick stop at Trader Joe's for breakfast. We quickly rode by the Marine Coorps Memorial before locking our bikes up and walking around Arlington cemetery. Even though we were only there for about twenty minutes, the cemetery was Nate's favorite part of our day.  Next, we did a whirlwind bike tour of the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Memorial, MLK Memorial, FDR Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, the White House, the Supreme Court and the Department of the Treasury. We're not really "tour" people so being on bikes was a good way to drive by all of the popular places. After lunch, we walked through the Library of Congress (my personal favorite) and the Air and Space Museum. Next, it was a very long nine mile ride home! 

Neither of us did a very good job of anticipating the large amount of riding, locking up our bikes, and walking we would have to do, but overall we were glad we got to see so many historical places in one day! I was also glad we went right after July 4th. We got through the entire day with only a few arguments about where to find food. :) We get pretty grumpy when we're hungry. Next time we'd like to spend more time at the Smithsonian museums, the Library of Congress, and Arlington National Cemetery. We also didn't get to go to the National Archives Museum, the National Botanical Gardens or the National Zoo. Next time I guess! 

On Wednesday, we drove through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to have lunch with Nate's great aunt, Lynn. She fixed us the sweetest lunch (and picnic dinner) and we had the best time visiting and catching up. We also got to meet her daughter-in-law and cute grandkids! After meeting Lynn, I've now met all of the living Koerber siblings!

Also, side note, it's true! It really is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey! 

Late Thursday night we arrived at Nate's mom's parents' house in Fort Ann, NY. While here, Nate's been in early-morning-fishing, four-wheel-driving, lawn-mowing, food-eating paradise!

Saturday morning, we packed up and 4-wheeled into the Mitchell camp, four miles into the Adirondacks. Camp is this beautiful little cabin right next to stream where Nate and his uncle, Andy, fished to their hearts' delight. The cabin is outfitted with generated electricity, running water, five beds, and more. We grilled, fished, hiked, read, relaxed, and made smores, and it was SO fun! We spent the night and drove back on Sunday night. 

For those who care, I just finished book number four. Only twenty-six to go! 

Summer Roadtrip // Week 5

The week started out with a quick visit to Hendersonville where Nate's aunt lives. Kyli and her family of six, own two dogs, a pet pig, chickens, a bird, two cats and a new kitten. You can imagine how fun it is to visit their house! We went on a walk around the property, pushed tricycles up the driveway, went to dinner at Blue Sky cafe, went out for frozen yogurt and had some much needed cousin time! I had never met the Demirjian family and it was so fun to get to know them! 

Nate's dad's parents, Richard and Audrey, live right in the heart of downtown Asheville. They normally rent out a small apartment attached to their house to short term guests, but they let Nate and I stay there during our visit!

Our first morning there, Tuesday, I woke up a couple of hours earlier than Nate. I think I need to do that more often because it was so peaceful to tiptoe around, make tea, and then read for an hour or two with the beautiful Asheville rain pattering outside. Nate laughs at me when I rave about how much I love Asheville, but I truly feel so at home there. Around ten, I crept into the bedroom to wake up my very frustrated and confused husband who could not even fathom why in the world I would want to be out of bed. We had a wrestling match, then cuddled the morning away. I know the cheesy romantic stuff can get really annnoying, but I've absolutely loved having so much time with Nate this summer. I've loved seeing and watching his interactions with my family, his family, our friends, and strangers. I've loved seeing him get comfortable and open up, and then watch him jump out of his comfort zone with a determination characteristic of the Andrew family. After wrestling Nate out of bed (yes, I won), I rode my bike down to City Bakery Cafe for some much needed alone time. Journalling. Music. Blogging. It was a great and relaxing afternoon while Nate spent the day cleaning the inside of our car and changing the oil. :) 

The next day, Nate and I rode our bikes about three miles to The Grove Park Inn. My grandfather used to work at the hotel, and Audrey and Richard gave us tickets to see the place for ourselves! We spent the whole day soaking in the pools, reading, relaxing in the steam rooms and saunas, and really loving the contrast pools - with only one quick break to bike home and juice the entire contents of the Koerber's refrigerator. The whole spa was underground with really amazing rock work surrounding all of the pools. One of the prettiest spas I've ever been to! That night, we ended the day with dinner at Rosetta's and hard cider at Urban Orchard. 

On Thursday, the rain foiled our initial hiking plans so we set out to walk downtown instead. We toured the French Broad Chocolate company, drank chai tea, bought (more) postcards, ate Asian noodles for lunch, and went to Mass General. Next, we took a quick break at the house before driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike Kraggy's Gardens. The clouds rolled over the mountain just as we reached the peak! We finished off the day with a walk at the Biltmore where we picked fresh blackberries and Nate carved a bamboo spear. 

On Friday, we hosted a family get together and all the Koerbers came to welcome me into the family. I've never seen better potluck food in my life! This was the week of our summer road trip when we made the jump from my family to Nate's family and it's been so fun to see where the man I fell in love with came from. The Koerbers obviously gave Nate his love for mountain biking and the outdoors,  a genuine care for the earth and the people in it, a love for late nights and ethnic foods, the desire to care for his body, a curiosity about other cultures, and a boundless adventure seeking energy. The family resemblance is uncanny and I'm eternally grateful to Audrey and Richard (and the rest of the Kuerbers) for their part in shaping my wicked awesome husband.

Also, who needs to take pictures when you have grandparents to take lots and lots for you? :)

Saturday morning we cleaned the apartment, packed way too much food and got an early start for Fontana lake. Despite the rain, we stopped at the Bryson city fourth of July festival to eat some boiled peanuts and kettle corn in honor of being Americans. At the lake, we loaded up the pontoon boat and drove across the water to the Koerber's lake house (which is literally a house on the lake). I had been to the lake before, but I had never spent the night. For two days, we watched fireworks, grilled fish, kyaked, swam, read, watched movies, did pilates, and slept. We had a super fun holiday weekend - me relaxing, and Nate building a new deck for the house. 

Other random thoughts of the week: 

  • My summer goal was to read thirty books this summer. Sadly, I've only finished three, but I'm in the middle of five others. I'm planning on writing a quick review of my summer reading at end of our road trip because I was inspired by {this} article by my friend, Olivia. Any suggestions? I have a long way to go to get to thirty! 
  •  I called Pistachio (our Subaru) "Stacy" this week and Nate was having none of that girly nonsense. Therefore, Pistachio now has the gangster name of "P-Stach."
  • Earlier in this blogging series I mentioned that Nate and I started running together. Those of you who know Nate, know that this is nothing short of remarkable considering Nate absolutely hates to run. Well, we've both kept up running, but we decided this week that we both have considerably different running styles, so we're now only occasional running partners. :)
  • The south has LIGHTING BUGS and they're pretty much the coolest thing ever. I always kind of forget those things actually exist. I've added catching lightning bugs in a mason jar to my summer bucket list so I'll keep you posted.
  • During our week in Arkansas, I remarked how incredibly green everything was. Well, here we are two weeks later and I think I'm getting really tired of the color green. Don't get me wrong! I can totally understand why people would consider the west a "dull shade of brown," but all of the green here is extremely overwhelming. Every single road around here is surrounded by towering trees that block the view, loom over the road, and give everything a muted green tone. Imagine being chased by a zombie and having to run through a North Carolina forest; there would be green vines, green swamps, green trees, green bushes and green snakes all impeding your chosen route. It's awful! Just yesterday, I was telling Nate that I couldn't wait to drive through Kansas where you can see farther than ten feet. Ha! 


Summer Roadtrip // Week 4

This week I think we’ve finally settled into a steady travel rhythm. Nate has loading and unloading our car down to a science. I download new music whenever we have wifi and head up planning when we go where. Nate drives and I navigate, mostly because I suck at driving stick shift (this works really well until I try to do my navigating job at the same time as my itinerary planning job and get distracted). We’re exercising more regularly and learning to take our individual alone time. The newness has worn off and we’ve settled into a slower and more relaxed summer pace. I’m loving it!

Forewarning: We did a lot of jumping, or driving, around this week so this post may be a little long.

On Monday (the 22nd), we got a late start out of Little Rock, heading to Memphis. It’s a quick drive, but we weren’t in a hurry to drive into another huge city. I was desperately craving a Taco Bell burrito so we stopped there on our way to the Memphis Pyramid, the new Bass Pro headquarters. Oh. My. Gosh. I’ve been in a lot of Bass Pros (thank you, Nate), but this was SO cool. When you walk into the Pyramid, which is literally like straight out of Egypt, it looks like a swampy amusement park. It’s like a cross between the Pirates of the Carribean exhibit at Disney Land, and Dollywood. There are fifty foot trees with moss hanging down throughout the whole place with a real size river filled with fish circling a giant 25 floor freestanding elevator. We walked around, giving special attention to the guns section, and then rode the tallest freestanding elevator in the world to the top. Even though it cost money to ride, the sunset view at the top was worth it.

That night we stayed with my mom’s cousin, Chris, and his wife, Lauren, who were perfect hosts! It was fun to catch up with them, as well as my cousin, Hayden the next morning. 

On Tuesday, we drove to Nashville where a good friend’s mom, Marjo Benten, was waiting with a packed picnic for us to take to the Grand Ole Opry. The picnic was so thoughtful, complete with dessert, iced tea, plates and silverwear, and some seriously delicious salads. The picnic was so amazing that it, as well as its maker, deserved an honorary blog mention.

My Aunt Becky’s wedding gift was front row tickets to The Grand Ole Opry, the “theater that made country music famous.” Since we’re such big country music fans, it was such a thoughtful and fun gift! Before the show, we walked around the Opry hotel which is filled with (another) fish filled indoor river and beautiful plants. After waiting in line in some serious Nashville heat, we saw Jeanne Sweeny, the Swon Brothers, Del Mccury, Corey Smith, Hunter Hayes and Rascal Flatts. It was such a surreal experience to see performers on such a historic stage. After the concert, we went on a short walk around downtown Nashville to admire all of the pretty lights and country music. We took lots and lots of pictures at Becky’s request!

Wednesday, Marjo made us breakfast before we headed off to meet our friend’s Hannah and Eva for coffee. The Frothy Monkey is this cute little café and coffee shop in downtown Franklin, TN. The Holbrook girls were so sweet to make time in their schedule to come meet up! Our time with them was so refreshing. Not only did the familiar faces brighten our day, the authenticity and joy that these girls exude is contagious. If you haven’t heard these girls’ music, please look up SHEL on Spotify or Itunes

Also, for a quick throwback moment, you can view this silly video my cousins and I made in 2011 to one of their songs. 

Wednesday night and Thursday night were absolutely unreal because we got to spend them with one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever met. My friend, Jake, and I met at Kivu two summers ago and went on lots of awesome 24 hour adventures together (the grand canyon, the sand dunes, and telluride). I was so excited to finally get to meet his fiancé, Maggie. On Wednesday, we met up for dinner at The Terminal in downtown Chattanooga. That night Maggie offered to host us at her home in Ootlewah, even though we had just met. The next day, after camping Wednesday night, we took her up on her offer, and got to meet her awesome family and two dogs. They let us use their jetskis to drive to a restraunt on the lake for dinner, and made us an amazing breakfast the next morning. We had so much fun hearing all about their engagement, wedding plans, and current adventures.

Back to the whole camping experience: On Wednesday, we camped in Prentice Cooper State Forrest. Although it took us a little bit to fall asleep in the hot humidity, it was nice to use all of the camping gear we lugged all the way across the country. The campground was also near a shooting range, which doubled as a great early morning alarm and a fun Thursday morning activity. 

On Friday, we drove to Brassleton, a suburb of Atlanta, GA, where we stayed with one of my really good family friends and her family for the weekend. Hannah, Amy and Sam were the greatest hosts and cooked us delicious meals, let us sleep in, and gave us a quick tour of Atlanta. We went out for beers, toured the High Museum of Art, ate crepes in MidTown, visited the new Ponce City Market, and lounged by the pool for an entire afternoon. I read “How To Be Perisian Wherever You Are” and Nate got sunburnt as a potato chip (his words, not mine). It was so good to catch up with Hannah and her family and I can’t wait until they finally make the trip to Colorado to visit. 

While in Atlanta, we also saw our good friend Seabass who we met at Kivu this past summer. It’s been way too long since we got to see him last. He’s always an absolute pleasure to be around and I’m already counting down the days until the next time we meet up.

This Monday (the 29th), we drove north into North Carolina and for the next ten days we will be in one of my favorite places in the world, Ashville. We’re so excited to hang out with extended family and go on a whirlwind tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains that only the Kuerbers can give! Not to mention, we’re staying in the cutest little apartment in the trees!

Our entire trip, we’ve had the most gracious hosts, but this week we have been blown away! Monday we stayed with cousins that we hadn’t seen in four years. Tuesday we stayed with a friend’s mom who we’ve only met once. Thursday, we stayed with a friend’s fiancé, who we had never met before, and her family. And during the weekend we stayed with my long distance pen-pal and her family. The generosity and kindness has been UNREAL and we can’t express how thankful we are to have people like you guys in our lives!

Side note: Everywhere we go people ask us to recite where we’ve been and where we’re going. We’ve gotten pretty proficient at it, though I still think I need to write a poem and rap it for people. It’s funny to see everyone’s faces when we list locations in the middle of Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia. Since we’re from Colorado and like outdoor adventures, I think people expect us to be travelling only to the most glorious locations. What they don’t realize is that we truly are on this trip to visit our family and friends. This trip is awesome and we’ve gotten to see a lot of cool parts of the country, but wherever our people are, that’s where we’ll go. If that means swallowing our mountain-loving spirits and driving into the city during rush hour then that’s what we’ll do. 

Summer Roadtrip // Week 3

I'm so so sorry for the late post, but hey, it happens. Instead of writing the post along the way, I'm now three days late, cramming to write in a coffee shop without wifi. Ha! But here you go... If I could sum up our second week in Arkansas it would be this: GREEN. 

On Monday, we spent most of the day relaxing and we were treated to Popeyes. On Tuesday, Babbie hosted a family picnic for the aunts, uncles and cousins in the area. We ate BBQ to our hearts' delight and caught up with family I haven't seen in years. They played a round of the newly wed game where they asked me (and Nate) questions they didn't think we could answer. We got them all (though I had a little trouble remembering Nate's mom's maiden name - Mitchell by the way). I also included a picture of the puzzle we worked last week.  

Wednesday, Babbie, Nate and I took a little road trip that began with a trip to the shooting ranch and ended with a quick afternoon sailing in Russellville. My cousin Samuel, just bought his own sailboat and we were some of the first people to get to go out on the lake! I spent most of the time laying on a paddle board being pulled by the boat.

We then drove on to Eureka Springs, a little Arkansas town known as "little Switzerland." The town is comprised of several large switchbacks filled with natural springs, hundreds of rock walls and cute store fronts. It's probably one of the coolest places I've ever been. We got a book from a free library, saw two baby deer nestled between houses, bought some Rocky Mountain Chocolate (ironic, I know), drove by the famous Crecent Hotel, ate amazing fajitas and tacos at Casa Colita, and stayed at the Quality Inn (thanks to a discount from Matt and Madison Hurt). On Thursday, we went to Thorncrown chapel and convinced my grandmother to climb the eight story Razorback Observation Deck. 

That same day, we drove on to Fayetteville (another part of Arkansas I had never been to) through some extremely beautiful rainy country side. In Fayetteville we stayed with my mom's Aunt and Uncle who gave us a quick tour around town, stuffed us to the brim with Tomato pie (it's as amazing as it sounds) and Blackberry Cobbler, and let us visit with their bird dogs. We also visited some friends from Camp Kivu (Katie and Hannah), though I didn't get any pictures (sad day). On Friday, we toured Crystal Bridges, the most amazing art museum I've ever been to, and the very first Walmart, a tiny little 5 and dime store located on the Bentonville square. 

Saturday, back in Conway, we went on bike ride, ate turkey pitas, and visited with my Uncle Lance who we're going to visit in St. Louis later in the trip. We then drove back to Little Rock (I know, we drive a lot) to stay with my Aunt Becky who we only got to see a little at the beginning of our time in Arkansas. She treated us to fresh smoothies, a mani/pedi date, Brazillian food for lunch, steam showers, and golf cart rides (none of which I got pictures of sadly). We woke up to Jack Johnson, burning candles and my cousin Camp begging us to go to Starbucks. Nate and Camp spent most of the two days together driving the golf cart around, playing catch, and playing Nate's very first 9 holes of golf (another thing I'm sad I didn't get pictures of - where are grandparents when you need them)!

Well those are my ramblings for last week. This week, we've already visited Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and are driving on to Atlanta tomorrow. It's definitely already been a week of wandering. Everyone keeps asking if we're tired of traveling, tired of people or tired of each other! Actually, we're still having a great time. Nate says that reminding himself that this trip is once in a lifetime really helps, but I just think we mentally prepared really well. We see different people and places nearly every day and that helps keep us motivated and fresh to drive to yet another town every morning. 

Summer Roadtrip // Week 2

I know it sounds cliche, but I really can't believe that we're already done with week 2 of our road trip! All of the texted plans, calendar re-arranging and local attraction googling is finally being put to use and we're having a blast. To be completely honest, I was the absolute worst at taking pictures this week, but I'll share what I did get and hopefully, next week I'll be better. 

Monday, Nate and I left Texas and drove the short five hours to Little Rock, Arkansas, where most of my mom's family is from. My mom's dad, his wife Bridgett, and their new puppy, Yaz, hosted us for four days. On Tuesday, they served as our tour guides as we ate Thai food at the River Market, stumbled upon the Little Rock Nature Center, and toured the Clinton Presidential Library. We also went to Bass Pro Shop (Nate's favorite next to Cabela's), visited Bridgett's sweet mom, and had a movie night on the back porch! My favorite memory of the trip so far was when the AC went out and we decided to camp out on the porch. It was nice and cool and as you can see, their porch is picture perfect! 

Wednesday, we toured Heifer International, a non-profit that partners with families in poverty, giving them the tools they need to succeed in sustainable farming and livestock practices. The headquarters are located in this gorgeous sustainable building surrounded by ponds filled with fish, roofs that catch rain water and lots of pretty landscaping. Papa set us up with a friend who gave us a private tour around the whole place, complete with a lunch at a fresh cafe where I ate the best kale salad I've ever had. Later that night, we ate at the country club where we met lots of friends and ate at a delicious pasta bar. So much good food! 

Nate and I are both getting fat on all of the good food everyone is buying and feeding us. We've started trying to run, hike and bike as much as we can. Hopefully, we won't come home heavier than when we left! I'm not sure our little weighted down car can handle the extra pounds! Yes, Nate really has started running. I can't even believe it! While at Papa and Bridgett's, we went on a quick bike ride, several runs, and even talked Papa into hiking up Pinnacle mountain, a small mountain just outside of Little Rock.  We hiked up the east side, down the west side and around the base trail back to the parking lot. It was mid day so it was a tad hot, but the three mile round trip was worth braving the heat! 

While in Little Rock, we also spent time with my mom's sister and my cousins (the cousins we went to Cabo with for Spring Break). Of course, we didn't get to spend as much time with them as we would have liked, but we'll be back at their house later next week to get our fill of the Norris family. My Aunt Becky hosted us for dinner one night and we got to catch up with our cousins (everyone is a cousin or aunt here), the Harris'. They're the ones with the cute girls you see below! Cynthia also works at Heifer and met us for the tour (mentioned earlier :)). 

On Thursday afternoon, after our hike up Pinnacle, we reorganized the car and drove to Conway to stay with my mom's mom, who we call Babbie. While here, she's shown us around the entirety of Conway and told us all about our family lineage. I've learned on this trip that no matter how many times you tell people that you've come to see them, not see every local landmark, they'll still want to show you around the place they call home! We've seen industrial neighborhoods, local high schools, friends' sisters' childhood best friends' homes, progressive city roundabouts,  the best cheeseburger joints, downtown hotels that used to be banks, new turning lanes on small town backroads, Aunt Lindsay's flower gardens, trails with the highest crime rates in the state, friends' storefronts, and hospitals where cousins were born. The beautiful thing about whirlwind tours of each person's hometown is learning about seemingly insignificant details that make up the people and places we're visiting. There's so much family heritage here that we just don't get in Durango and we're learning that no story is insignificant when it's meaningful to the people we love.

In our first four days here, Babbie and her husband Bill have checked off working a 1000 piece puzzle (with classic books all over it), eating blueberries by the handful, eating fish from an authentic fish fry, shopping to our heart's delight, spray painting an entire set of back porch furniture, and binge watching our favorite tv show (Royal Pains), from our summer bucket list! We again, drug another semi-willing grandparent up an Arkansas "mountain" and spent Sunday hiking at Petit Jean, a local park with beautiful views and a splendid waterfall. Our time here has been so restful! Although we've slept in until nine or ten every morning, our days have been full of beautiful summer fun. 

After our hike, we decided it was a good time to make homemade crackers, hummus, blackberry appetizers and 10 DOZEN chocolate chip cookies! We spent all of Sunday evening chopping, blending and baking. We were SO full, but we're glad we got to bake with our master chef grandmother. 

On a completely different note, Conway, Arkansas will forever be known as the place where Nate learned the beauty of athletic shorts. Aparently, in his mind, shorts have been deemed irrelevant in the dry Colorado summers. I've never seen him wear shorts even on our hottest Colorado adventures. However, as soon as we had our first taste of the humid Texas heat, he was begging for a trip to TJMaxx. When we arrived in Arkansas, he compared the weather to that of a mosquito filled sauna and declared he was so hot he was about to put on my nike shorts! Babbie took us to the local mall where we proceeded to buy Nate three new pairs of shorts which he hasn't taken off since. The days following that shopping trip, Nate could be seen prancing around celebrating the airy goodness that is wearing shorts in southern heat. 

This has already been such a good summer of front porch sitting, long evening runs, fresh blueberries, family meals, sightseeing and adventure. Most of all, it's been a summer of people. I can't help but think that relationships and adventure are truly the "best things" that God has planned for our lives, and I feel so blessed that Nate and I have the chance to focus solely on those two things for the next couple months. 

Summer Roadtrip // Week 1

It was Grant, Nate's dad, that first suggested we travel all summer. After we decided to move our wedding up several months and cut the guest list by several hundred people, he suggested that we visit those who couldn't attend the wedding (and those who could) in their own home cities. Well here we are. Summer is upon us and we're already a week into our ten week road trip adventure. I'm already a little behind on posting for the first week, but I'll try to post on Mondays in the future! :) 

We left Durango on Monday, June 1st, headed south towards Santa Fe. I don't think I've ever been as appreciative of where we live as when we drove out of Durango. Despite the heat (a high of 82 degrees) and the overrun streets full of tourists, the Colorado blue skies, full Animas river, and super green (for Durango) trees almost made me wish we were staying home. We left a summer of world class mountain biking trails, family picnics, white water rafting, rock climbing, and backpacking, for a summer of new married traditions and unplanned adventures. 

Nate and I have always liked the idea of being minimalists, but we're too type A to leave behind anything we might need or want later on. So our car is currently loaded with a water filter, stove, two sleeping bags and sleeping pads, first aid kits, four water bottles, a cooler, both our laptops, several books and audiobooks, a tent, a box of shoes, headlamps, two bags of way too many clothes, two bikes, and all of the necessary bike gear including a bike pump, our helmets and repair kits - just to name a few items. However, everything is in its designated place and Nate quizzed me as we drove out of town to make sure I knew where everything was. No loosing things on this trip!


Our first stop on our trip was Santa Fe. I read The Devil's Highway aloud to Nate as we drove through the New Mexico dessert. We stopped at our favorite thrift store in Pagosa Springs and at the Echo natural amphitheater. We didn't eat dinner in Santa Fe, but we rode our bikes around downtown during a beautiful rain storm and then spent a good hour attempting to download Chris Kyle's (American Sniper) audiobook. We followed the directions of up the mountain, towards the ski area, where we pitched our tent near a pretty little stream. We ate a cold dinner of peanut butter and the last of our loaf from Bread - a last taste of Durango. 

Tuesday, we woke up, packed up and tried to visit the Santa Fe farmer's market. It was a pretty big disappointment so we settled for sushi and cold turkey from Sprouts. The drive to Dallas was a long eleven hours, interrupted by Chick Fil A in Amarillo and Jason Aldean played on repeat the entire way through the city. My friend Kelsi's sweet family was kind enough to host us at her home in McKinney, about a thirty minute drive from downtown Dallas. While there, we woke up to several home cooked breakfasts, drove downtown in Kelsi's hummer, walked the Katy trail, had a beer at the Katy Trail Ice House, hung out with our friend Rachael at Klyde Warren Park, got lost looking for gas, went to Cabella's, and had the best pizza in downtown McKinney. Lauri, Kelsi's mom, showed us how to re-strap your own Chacos and talked to us about our common Norwood heritage. We also got to catch up with some family friends, the Bridges, who treated us to homemade pear crisp that was just fantastic! 


Thursday through Sunday were spent at my dad's parent's house on Cedar Creek lake. Their neighborhood is a little oasis in the middle of nowhere Texas, and we loved it! We did all of the typical lake things including riding the jet skis, going on a sunset cruise, swimming in the pool, playing basketball, drinking margaritas, eating hot dogs, driving the golf carts and shooting squirrels. Nate's been to the lake house before, but this trip he got the new reputation of being "the man who can fix anything" because he jumped on every project that my grandfather offered. We also got to have cocktails with some of my grandparents best friends, and we had the best time hearing so many funny stories about our grandparents. Nate spent most of his time fishing, and I got eaten alive by mosquitos, and it was the best. We were certainly sad to leave. 

This week, we're spending time with my mom's family in Arkansas. Although we, as true Colorado people, are struggling in this southern heat, we've already seen several beautiful museums and had a back porch movie night. We're here for another ten days and I'm loving the overwhelming green forests and the sweet family time. Any Arkansas recommendations?

From here on out, the camera will be riding shot gun and I will try to post the pictures in a timely fashion. As always, if you want to meet up, please text us! We want to see you! Likewise, if you have any recommendations, send them our way. If we're leaving you behind in Colorado, know that we're missing you already. And if you live in one of our many stops this summer, know that we're headed your way! 

Lake Powell, Arizona

Earlier this month we camped at Lake Powell and toured Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon to celebrate our friend, Adam's, birthday. Twelve of our favorite people drove from Boulder, Durango, Laguna Beach, Phoenix, and Scottsdale to spend the weekend adventuring together. It's a rare occasion when we all find time to get together and we had an absolute blast in some of the most beautiful places I've ever been! It was a perfectly genius way to kick off the summer!

California Roadtrip

My sister, Claire lives and goes to art school in Laguna Beach, California. Although I came back to Colorado after one year of school in Santa Barbara, Claire absolutely loves being a California girl! My mom didn't want Claire driving home for the summer by herself so I booked a one way ticket to Orange County during Finals Week. Our plan was to finish our finals while in Laguna and then drive up the California coast before we drove across the country back to Colorado. And that's exactly what we did! We spent way more money than we should have, listened to every song on my iPhone, stopped to take pictures at every bend, and camped all along the coast. I can't think of a better way to spend my first week of summer!

A friend asked for my California road trip recommendations and I immediately launched into a fury of typing and googling. There's not enough space or time in the world to explore all that California coast has to offer, however, I figured it wouldn't hurt to share what my sister and I did on our coastal adventure. For those of you who want way too many details about where we went and what we did click on this link... Here you go

Also, this song has been stuck in my head since our road trip... 

Claire made the cutest video of our trip! I have to admit, although I did some of the filming, I got tired of pulling out the camera all of the time on about day two. There were a couple of shots in here that she even had to set up a tripod to film herself! :) I'm sure glad she did though because she did a great job of capturing the super fun time we had! And all of the driving that we did! Enjoy!



Although I'm a spotify playlist junkie, there are only so many songs, artists and audiobooks I can come up with for a summer long road trip. It only takes about five hours of driving before Nate or I succumb to the horrors of FM radio. 

For that reason, Nate and I decided to ask our best friends to each create a mixtape (or several) for our summer road trip. However, I was thinking that it would be really really fun, if the people we barely knew created us mixtapes too. 

So that's my invitation to you...  

Message me on Facebook, send me a disk, link to a soundcloud page, or copy me in on a spotify playlist. : )

Your contribution will save us from hours of agonizing repeats of Taylor Swift's 1984  (don't judge, it's still my favorite album), and maybe we'll fall in love with your favorite music along the way too. 



San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico

For some reason or another, after writing my last blog post, I was more self conscious about my writing than I've ever been. I even asked Nate to read over it. I asked him if it was too long. He said he didn't know a blog post could be too long. He never even read it before I posted it. Since I mainly started this blog as a personal project and as a way to fill my grandparents in, I never really think twice about who reads/views it. I always insist to Nate that no one ever reads it. He always insists back that lots of people do. 

It was such a blessing that on the blog post that I was the most hesitant to write, I got the most positive feedback. I've never gotten so many Facebook and Instagram comments - even if it wasn't my most read post.  My friend Cyle always told me that the greatest form of flattery towards your creative work is for people to simply take the time to view and appreciate it. I finally understand what he means.

Thank you guys! Thank you for making it easy to be open and vulnerable. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my thoughts and view my pictures. Thank you for caring enough about me to want to know what's going on in my life. I don't have the most popular blog ever, but I am so blessed to have friends, family, aquaintance and a husband who encourage me to do what I love and then share it.  

I'm humbled. 


On a completely different note, here are the pictures from the spring break trip my family took to San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.

Last year at this time, Nate and I lived in Denver, volunteered at Joshua Station, and both attended school at the University of Colorado Denver. For spring break, Nate joined my family on a trip to visit my Grandparents who live on a huge lake in Texas! The day we returned to Durango, Nate proposed at our favorite look out. 

Here we are, one year later, living in Durango in our first apartment, happily married. Can you believe so much can happen in a year? 

For spring break this year, Nate again joined my crazy family on a vacation to San Jose. In an attempt to avoid the spring break crowds, my mom booked a beautiful house overlooking the ocean in this beautiful little town about an hour away from Cabo San Lucas. Although we had to cope with some really loud construction, undrinkable faucet water, and a lot of Forced Family Fun, we had a picture perfect vacation filled with whale watching, sun bathing, cousin time, too many tacos, swimming, a van crammed full of family, hot tub soaks, late night movies, surfing, and farm to table restaraunts.

It was the bomb.

All of these pictures were taken on my iPhone 5s and were edited with VSCOCAM. The full gallery can be found here. 

Screeching Halt


Every three months or so, I get in the mood complete all of those “hard” things on my to do list. You know, those things that have been transferred from list to list for weeks. For example, this week I finally got around to changing my last name at the social security office (yes, I know it’s been over seven months since our wedding) and buying and installing new blinds in the apartment.

What usually happens is that all of those “hard” things end up being really surprisingly easy and take hardly any time. THEN this miraculous thing happens. For the first time in three months, there’s nothing on my to do list! Even the little things like changing the sheets on our bed, writing and sending the stack of postcards I bought in Cabo, and uploading the pictures from my Iphone are completed. Nate and I even finally finished watching every season of How I Met Your Mother (really serious stuff)! It’s always this surprising lull between the next time the sink fills up with dishes or someone mentions a new workout routine I have to try.

The best is when that miracle happens to fall on the same week I get out of school for the summer. Everything in life comes to a screeching halt all at the same time and I’m allowed the time to stop and think about what exactly it is I want to do next. I always feel tremendously blessed by those seasons. For a person as OCD as me, having everything crossed off a list is an awesome feeling, but what’s even better is the future lists of goals and direction that comes from a little peace and quiet. The quiet usually only lasts a couple of days, a week at most, but it is always refreshing and restful.


This year I only made one New Year’s resolution. I want to go back to the basics. My goal has been to spend more purposeful time on my health, my relationship with Jesus, and my relationships with others. In the meantime, I’ve decided to put all of the other things aside. Rob Bell puts it really well when he says, you have to say “yes” to a few A+ things so you can say “no” to all of the other B- things. It’s always the good things that steal from the best things.

I always thought I learned that lesson in high school. I was the kid who couldn’t say no to being student body president, advising city council, Frisbee days in the park, family dinners, parties, volunteering at every nonprofit that came my way, date nights, content writing for the yearbook and going on every school trip. That all came to a screeching halt when I crashed my car, smashed my computer screen, got a speeding ticket, got two parking tickets, caught the flu, someone ran over my cell phone, and I failed a math test all in the same week. I also remember some dramatic rant while lying on the kitchen table about how I had no friends (I think they were all just as busy as me). I decided right then and there that my “busy” days were over. When we were growing up my mom always said that when it rains it pours. Well that week it certainly poured. It was all because I had let all of the good things build up to the point where they were stealing my time, energy and emotions away from the best things.

Since then, I’ve been better about taking time for myself and learning to say no to certain things. However, I’ve been really inspired to focus more on the things that really matter and filter everything else through those three things. If something I’m doing doesn’t further my heath, my spirituality or my relationships, then what’s the point of doing it?

What do I say no to? Oh… lots of things. Volunteering for organizations that I really don’t have the passion and calling to serve. Accepting more nannying jobs than I need or can handle. Reading books that I could honestly care less about. Hanging out with friends who I don’t even have fun with, doing things I don’t even like to do.  Buying things that I don’t really need. Starting projects I’m never going to finish. Running errands that can wait until later.

I never want to offend anyone by saying no. I have to remember that the few things that I say “yes” to are going to be different than the things that my friends or husband say “yes” to. But if I’m going to be truly present and productive within the things that I have decided to give myself to, then I’m going to have to say no to a lot of other really good things.


What does completing everything on my to do list this week have to do with my new year’s resolution of not being too busy?

It’s simple. I had a revelation this morning.

How cool is it to have a “screeching halt” in my life because I finished everything I needed to get done, instead of having a “screeching halt” because I’ve gotten so overwhelmed that the delicate balance comes crashing down.  How beautiful is it to be able to sit in silence and know that I’ve been present at home, with my friends, during my workouts and at school because I said “no” to doing more than I could handle.

I’m far from mastering the balancing act that is life. Some seasons are busier, while other seasons are meant for rest. This past week was stressful and exhausting, and summer couldn’t come soon enough. However, wherever I am, I hope I can learn to respond to the question, “How are you?” with “I’m great!” instead of, “Oh you know… busy…” 

Grand Canyon Rim To River (And Back)

"The national park service does not recommend hiking got the Colorado river and back in one day!" 

We probably read that sign 57 times in our first five hours in Grand Canyon National Park. It was posted on the sides of the shuttle busses, at the camp site, at every single trail head, and in every brochure. It was even written on the National Geographic map I bought before we even left Durango. 

After driving five hours, walking the rim, snacking on homemade granola bars, and taking a two hour nap to wait for the sunset, Hailee and I sat overlooking the Grand Canyon, discussing our plans for the following day. The hot water for tea was boiling, the sun was setting, and the surrounding tourists were, without fail, shrieking at how "close" we were to the edge. Despite the warning signs, we had heard about people who went down and up the edge of the canyon in one day. We figured if they could do it, we could do it. 

We talked about what we would have to bring, how nineteen miles really wasn't THAT far, and about every possible worst case scenario. We decided we would ask Nate (my adventure specialist of a husband), and if he thought we could do it, we would. He told us two things: that the trails into the GC are busier than the Durango mall and that the only thing he was worried about was us having to drive five hours home after a nine hour hike. It was settled then. We would hike down and up the next day.

And we did. 

It was hot. It was long. It was hard. It topped both Hailee and I's hardest hikes of our lives. AND IT WAS AWESOME. We had an absolute blast talking about high school drama, paleo recipes, future travel plans, outdoor gear and Instagram captions. Overall, it was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone who felt they were up to the task*. 

Also, Hailee Pritchard is the best. 

* Disclaimer: If you go into the Grand Canyon without adequate food, water, first aid, navigation tools and knowledge. And you don't tell anyone where you're going. And you break your arm falling down the 1000000 switchbacks. And you get blisters on your feet. And you pass out because it's 10000 degrees. And you fall in the Colorado river and get swept away and die..... It's not my fault because I told you that hiking the GC in a day is awesome. Don't be dumb.

April Showers

With spring right around the corner, I thought I would #throwback to some snapshots from last spring. 

Spring 2014 was one of engagements, late snow storms, late nights babysitting, aquarium visits, weekly hikes, home trips, tent building and more. 

I'm always blown away by the sheer amount of change that can happen in just one year and I can only imagine what this year has in store! 

* All of these photos were taken on my old iPhone 4s and most were edited using VSCOcam. 

Spring Cleaning


Every year when spring comes around, we gain a cultural urgency to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Thrift store lots fill with spring cleaning piles, flower beds are ripped up and replanted, and winter sweaters are packed away in favor of flowy dresses and silk shorts. "Cleaning out" our stuff in general has become incredibly popular. White walls, limited decor, neutral colors and a "minimalist" lifestyle (whatever that means) have never been more trendy. "Clean eating" blogs have taken over the internet and "detoxing" has become a commonly used word in American households (or at least among women ages 18-40). 

I'm not going got lie, after an amazing spring break in Mexico, I returned to Durango ready to jump aboard the detox train. I committed to cutting refined sugars, excersising daily, taking epsom salt baths, and drinking gallons of cucumber-lemon water. It's been good. The beautiful Colorado weather makes it easy to get outside, my blender is living permanently on my counter, my bathroom smells like lavender, and the inside of my refrigerator looks like a farmer's market produce stand. Having friends and family who are always willing to try a new green tea or go on a bike ride helps too!

But... All of this detoxing has me thinking about how interesting it is that our culture finds it so easy to motivate ourselves to get rid of harmful chemicals and processed packaged food, while we leave the rest of our lives cluttered with toxins.

I have to wonder what it would look like if our culture took a break from focusing on "clean foods" and "an active lifestyle", and instead, even for a moment, focussed on detoxing other areas of our lives. What would happen if we put a hold on our ever-growing consumeristic wish lists and started enjoying what we already have? What would it look like for us to detox from over-productivity - to stop making lists and start reading books? What if we took a break from pride, selfishness and self-critisism, and instead of living with regrets, started living in the hope that HE gives? What would our culture look like if we allowed our spring cleaning and pre-summer detoxes to reach beyond our physical bodies and into our thoughts and actions? 

I mean COME ON! If I can convince my girlfriend to attend a six AM pilates class with me, then surely I can inspire her to also put down her cell phone. If I can talk my sister into spending an hour riding bikes, surely I can spend an hour talking about life with her. If I can stay ahead of my fifteen fitbit friends' walking distances (I wish), then surely I can spend some time praying for each of those friends. If I can force my husband to eat a diet consisting mainly of kale and chia seeds then we could probably also read the Bible together.

As we grow nearer to the end of holy week, I pray that we would allow G-d to come into every area of our lives and truly detox us from the ways of the world. I pray that we may seek out the only one who can truly make us clean. 

Leftover Indian Food And Hardware Store Returns



So I wrote the title of this blog post ages ago - right after Nate and I moved into our tiny little Joshua Station hotel rooms (read more about JS here). That was way back in August (right after our honeymoon) and I think I had elaborate plans to write about this amazing Indian food we ate that week and the big fight Nate and I had about the importance of returning unused items to the store.  

I honestly, don't feel like writing about that anymore, but I thought the post title was so good, that I might as well keep it. ;) 

Anyway, after our honeymoon, Grant, Nate's dad, and Maggie, my childhood best friend, put their own lives on hold and went out of their way to make our move easier. They sorted through our car sized pile, re-wired messy Internet cords, painted a bright red room a more reasonable color, helped to purchase a new mattress, got rid of an old couch, and helped keep us sane the week before school started. 

I meant to post pictures of all of their hard work that week, but I kept insisting that first... the maps needed to be hung, the blinds cleaned, the piles hidden, the bed made, the lights fixed, the furniture polished... You get the picture. 

About half of those things are done, but isn't that the nature of home renovations? They're never ending? 

I write the most roundabout blog posts. 

Anyway, here are some pictures I snapped on my IPhone 6 of our two little motel rooms. Finally.  

Mink Oil

So... Our internet has been down for the past two weeks. I literally have fifteen pending blog posts that I can't post, but for now, I figured I'd share a silly little storygram I wrote the other day. 


Mink oil does not come off with dish soap. So just in case anyone was wondering, if you douse your freshly conditioned leather shoes in Dawn, the shoes will remain unharmed. 

What was I doing in the middle of finals week conditioning and cleaning my leather shoes? Well, when your wifi is down, your printer runs out of ink, there's popcorn all over your house and you have an hour until you need to ride your bike to the last class of the semester, the only think to do in order to stay sane is to spend an hour conditioning your shoes with mink oil. 

So there you go.  


I've done a lot of thinking (and writing) about the nature of stories. That's probably in part due to Donald Miller's book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years (my all time favorite book), and in part due to the fact that my high school Bible teacher (now close friend) used to tell us the best stories. 

He once told us of the time he and some friends drove a car on a sidewalk where they ended up getting it stuck. Another story was of how he almost got arrested, another of a missions trip to Mexico. Still another story (my personal favorite) was about how he and his wife had met, fallen in love and gotten married in a public park where they invited strangers and had a cake fight. 

As a freshman, I was amzed at how anyone could have so many GOOD stories. 

One day, I asked him how he had created and partaken in so many adventures that were worth telling. And then, how he remembered them all. 

He thought for a moment and then told me that everyone has good stories. You just have to take note of them and then remember them. 

That answer seemed way too simple at the time, but now that I've watched my own life stories pass by, I think I understand his reply better. There are a lot of "tell worthy" stories all around me. I guess it's just a matter of whether I take note and remember.  

I've told quite a few stories on this blog: the proposal, deciding to work at Kivu again, coming to live at Joshua Station, countless parties, and a billion travel adventures. 

But what other good stories haven't been told?  

Our first kiss story, meeting families through, buying beer for the first time, marriage counseling and moving our wedding day, smuggling scissors into the Dominican Republic, my first bike ride in the city, loosing turkeys while house sitting. 


Someone told me once that you're not supposed to make blog posts longer than three paragraphs. You're "supposed" to mainly post pictures and let them speak for themselves.  

I understand that. Really I do. But since this blog is mainly for practicing (writing and photography) and chronicaling (an online journal of sorts), I'd like to keep posting stories. 

Actually, I'd like to post more stories.  

Stay tuned.  

Mt. Princeton Hot Springs // Nathrop, CO

I surprised Nate with a "surprise" trip to Mt. Princeton resort for his birthday. And when I say "surprise", I mean I booked it, and then told him three days later. 

It was one of those unfortunate years on which a birthday fell mid-week, so our trip was actually three days before Nate's 20th. But even though the celebration was premature, it was perfectly magical. We stayed in a tiny little cabin for the night and spent two days relaxing in the springs. We even woke up to snow covering the mountain peaks. It was an overall success if you ask me!

Can I just say how great it is to be old enough to book a hotel room?! Married life is the bomb. 

All pictures were take on my new iPhone 6 and edited with VSCOCAM. 

The original gallery can be found here. 

Cabin 5 // Kivu Term 3 // Ben Rector // Night On The Town

Oh hey! 

So, I finally got the export on Premier Pro to work (still not sure what the problem was) and I thought I would export, upload and post this short film I made for the girls of cabin 5. 

These lovely ladies deserve all the world best because they are fun, smart, beautiful, loving, ridiculous, and Jesus loving! That's what we tried to give them when the other leadership girls and I surprised them with a night out in Durango. We loaded up with Durango Joe's and headed to my favorite look out in Durango. There we giggled, told stories, talked about Jesus, took pictures and played with sparklers. It was certainly on of my favorite nights of the summer! 



PS: The title of this post is so long, simply because I didn't want to compromise any important information in the title. 

PSS: This entire movie was filmed on my Canon 7D and edited with Adobe Premier Pro. All music credits go to Ben Rector - who rocks by the way! :)