It was a Friday Morning and my best friend and I were enjoying some coffee when his phone buzzed, “It’s my boss-I don’t need to go into work today.” We usually both don’t have 72 hours of consecutive free time so we knew we had to do something, go somewhere on this long weekend. Our selection was Maine. A 12 hour drive North. You may be thinking that is a bad idea and not practical at all…and you are right!!
During this spontaneous trip we missed our Airbnb reservation because we got stuck in traffic so we ended up sleeping in the car AND my best friend lost his wallet somewhere in Maine. We ended up looking through a dumpster for it! This trip was A LOT of driving but it was beautiful and at the very least, a lesson in planning and ..in dumpster diving.
Sunrise in Maine -Fort Williams Park, Portland
Exploring Acadia–Sand Beach and Cadillac Mountain
Although not featured here-Acadia is full of trails and cool places to explore, for example the Thunderhole where the water passing through the rock sounds like a storm and the Beehive trail–which is a trek for advanced hikers.
Maine is such a beautiful place, we literally only spent a day there because of terrible planning but there’s so much to do! We ended our trip in Bar Harbor where we ate poutine and went shopping. It was a mini trip in Maine to remember!
Perhaps my most spontaneous adventure yet–a three day trip to Canada, planned in 1 hour. It was a Friday morning with I saw an email from Airbnb saying a waterfront condo in Toronto just dropped in price and that’s all it took. I booked it, packed and started the 7 hour drive North.
Fun fact: This trip was SO spontaneous that the border patrol deemed it suspicious. I was stopped and questioned by one agent as three other agents THOROUGHLY checked my car. I wasn’t guilty of anything… other than bad planning.
As I am sure you can tell from browsing my blog, I love photography. Sure, it looks aesthetically pleasing but here is the real reason why I value this art form so much.
Earlier this week, I was having a tough time. It felt like nothing was going right. I am sure you know what I am talking about. We all have days like that, the days where you sleep through your alarm, spill coffee on yourself, get a speeding ticket, forget your friends birthday or experience some kind of other event that makes you feel like your life is an absolute train wreck. Life can be stressful and there are times where it feels down right overwhelming.
It is times like these where I try to slow down, to pause among the chaos, and take a moment to remind myself how beautiful life is. Although sometimes I escape to a mountain top, lake or other beautiful place in an effort to ease my mind, I often do something more practical: browse my camera roll and reminisce.
My photo album takes up the most amount of space on my phone. Primarily because I am camera happy when I am exploring. I mean it is hard to NOT take 30 photos of a waterfall. I also have a lot photos from major life events like weddings, parties, and holidays. These adventures and occasions are the ones that I share on social media as I think other people will enjoy them.
However, the content I like looking at the most when I am feeling down are the photos and videos not for social media. For me this includes a range of things like all the failed attempts to get a cute selfie with my dog (she literally put her butt in my face at one point!) and the videos from when my friend and I had to make our own pronunciation tutorial for German class but kept failing to do so successfully because we were laughing so much ( nicht sehr gut!).
I value these photos and videos in particular because they are of experiences that are uniquely mine; they hold memories just for me. I am grateful to have them.
I am not saying your camera should always be out, waiting to capture candid moments because it shouldn’t be. It is good to live in the moment and experience life as it is happening. However, in the times where you do choose to take a photo, it can end up being so much more than a post on your Instagram or phone background.
A photo can serve as a timeless reminder of how beautiful life is, a reminder that you will experience better days again, that there are more places to explore, more silly photos to take and more memories to make.
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania so I have a lot of love for this state. From the mountains to the lakes, this is a state that has so much beauty. Below you will see some of the highlights of living here.
Sunflowers–Pennsylvania in the fall is home to many sunflower fields. This one here is planted by my Grandfather at our family farm. My grandmother’s favorite flower is the sunflower so he plants her this field of them every year. He even makes her a bouquet of them weekly while they are in season!
Lakes-Pennsylvania has so many different lakes! A few of my favorites include Blue Marsh, Leaser, and this one here which is Lake Onteleaunee!
Trails and Wildlife–one of my favorite things about PA is the amount of parks! I love to read and hangout at the Batram Trailhead in Hamburg, PA. There I get to watch vivid sunsets, butterflies dance among the flowers, and the colors of fall reflect onto the water of the dam.
Hiking- PA is an amazing place to hike. Some of my favorite places include Bear Rocks, Pulpit Rock and Hawk Mountain which is pictured below during the spring and on a winter day!
Scenic Drives–Pennsylvania is a beautiful state to drive through. If you are in rural PA-the winding country roads are perfect to cruise along as you watch the sunset over the blue mountains.
Cities–if you like a faster pace of life then you must visit Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. These beautiful cities always have fun activities happening like street fairs, art shows, and bar crawls. They are also both very rich in history and home to many museums and a variety of restaurants.
Hershey, Pennsylvania is such a fun place to explore and absolutely perfect for families. In Hershey you can experience Hershey World where you can learn about how your favorite candies are made, watch a 4D movie, and build you own candy bar. Anyone who has a sweet tooth would agree a visit to Hershey World is a real treat.
However, if candy isn’t your vice, then the sprawling amusement park may be more for you. There you can find everything from roller coasters to a huge waterpark. The park has events all year around too so the fun doesn’t end in summer! If you visit in October you can enjoy spooky rides at Hershey Park in the Dark and from November to December you can enjoy the extensive holiday light display!
If you are staying for a few days then be sure to check out Zoo America which features animals from North America or reconnect with nature at my favorite place, Hershey Gardens!
Please enjoy the photos below from my visit to the gardens this past summer
Hershey Gardens sits on 23 acres and includes an outdoor garden and indoor butterfly atrium. The butterflies will fly right up to you and sit on your shoulder. The garden was a gift to the community from Milton Hershey.
For the third year in Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania there was a shoot held for veterans. This event attracted over 100 service members from all across the country. Here is why my family hosts it and why so many vets come.
This tradition was started by my Uncle Adam who spent 8 years in the Marine Corps and is now a proud member of the National Guard. He loves serving his country and does his best to stay active in the military community.
One of the ways he does so is through his brand Goons Up, which shares an abundance of content relating to the military experience across multiple social media platforms.
His goal for the brand is to:
Get military members the recognition they deserve
Connect military members with the help they need while they’re serving and when they’re out (whatever that may be)
Help carry on their legacy
Over the years, Goons Up has grown into an online community of over 55,000; it is a space where veterans can relate to each other, communicate, and ultimately bond over their shared experiences. Members of the page are also invited to partake in a range of events, most popular being a Memorial Day hike and the Veteran’s Day Shoot, which is highlighted in this post
The idea for a shoot was born out of the idea of shooting guns being a stress reliever. A lot of the attendees haven’t shot these type of guns since being on active duty so it is almost like reconnecting with an old friend. It is also about awareness- 20 veterans die each day from suicide and events like this help remind these ladies and gentleman that they are not alone. Connection is the goal — not only to get veterans back on the guns they once used but to bring people together— to share stories, catch up with old friends and make new ones. No politics, no drama, just veterans of all branches coming together in camaraderie.
One of the attendees was Rory Hamill who posted the following about the event:
“The value of yesterday cannot be stated enough. While on the surface the allure of shooting this amazing weaponry goes without saying, and is something that we as a community dearly miss once we leave service, the true purpose runs much deeper than that. For a brief moment, you feel that camaraderie, that love amongst brothers that you’ve been missing. You’re not worrying about all the negative aspects of life that all too often bring us down. Yesterday was about our our brotherhood. Our love for one another. For all those who never made it back.”
Rory, who lost his leg in combat, serves as an inspiration for many as he shares his story about recovery and defying odds at conferences across the nation. It was exciting to have so many honorable service members, like Rory, be in attendance.
A myriad of vendors were also present, promoting their respective brands and causes through out the day. Two of these vendors are highlighted below:
Veterans Response-Providing Hope After Disaster.
The mission of Veterans Response is to deliver timely and appropriate emergency services to disaster-stricken communities when and where necessary. Below you can read about how they provided clean drinking water and rebuilt houses after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.
Brother’s in Bees-Helping Vets Save the Bees.
These gentleman provide a reflective and rewarding experience for U.S. Veterans via beekeeping and spread awareness of the impact of honey bees on the world.
I spent the majority of the day among the vendors at the Goons Up stand, where I sold hats, hoodies, shirts, and decals with the designs Adam and his wife Kelly developed for the brand.
This day is very exciting and there are a lot of people who make this day possible, two of which are my grandparents who host this shoot at their farm.
From preparing the targets the day before, welcoming the veterans, helping serve food, to allowing those who traveled for the event to spend the night in their home, these two do everything they can to provide a positive experience for these veterans.
We are all very proud of my Uncle for his service. I truly admire his drive and ability to bring veterans together. I am just happy I get to be apart of it, even if it is just in small ways. I am also just so incredibly grateful to be apart of a family that is supportive, caring, and altruistic; a family that inspires me everyday to be a better person.
Thank you to all the veterans who have served and sacrificed for this country. Happy Veteran’s Day!
Disclaimer: Please note the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the brands and individuals mentioned. Additionally, firearms are not toys and should be handled by only trained and licensed professionals. Although shooting guns has been shown to be therapeutic, please do so both legally and responsibly.
Sandy Hook National Park, in northern Jersey, is the perfect weekend escape.
It was 4am on a summer morning and I couldn’t sleep. Bored and restless, I drove to the shore. I carried my coffee and my blanket across the sandy beach and sat on a lifeguard tower as the sun rose.
Later in the morning, I made a friend– a seagull!
He slowly got closer
And Closer!!! I was just peacefully sunbathing face down when this seagull made his move to lay on my lower back. The people laying aside me were amused as I stood up abruptly and yelled “What are you doing? What do you think you are doing?” at him. I was so thrown off I think I ended up yelling at the seagull like a crazy person for over a minute. However I think my reaction was reasonable, I mean I couldn’t let him stay on me. Could you imagine the seagull shaped tan lines?
Side note: This park isn’t just great because of the beaches and the very friendly seagulls, it is also home to many deer, a beautiful lighthouse, and a lot of history as the peninsula was used as a military base in 1812.
Also, after your day of sunbathing and exploring the park I recommend driving to Asbury Park which has a boardwalk full of fun shops, restaurants, and best of all-Silverball Pinball Museum and Arcade where you can play a range of games and all the vintage pinball machines you could dream of !!
I stopped in Fayetteville along my drive down to my college-Coastal Carolina. It is a small city that was put on the map primarily due to the rapper J. Cole. While in Fayetville I walked around the town and visited the Cape Fear Botanical Garden which had various trails and gardens. It was beautiful and made me so glad I stopped!
Below is a picture of downtown Fayetteville, along this strip is various places to shop and dine. My personal favorite is Rude Awakening Coffee shop where they made me a delicious Tiramisu Latte!
Hello everyone! I’d like to introduce you to my Southern Belle, Belle! She is a border collie mix that my family adopted from a high kill shelter in Alabama 10 years ago!
I was 10 when I saw Belle’s photo on Petfinder and begged my mom to get her. I mean look at that face. Those floppy ears! However, my mom was quite hesitant.
It took a lot of begging but eventually I convinced her this was the pup for us! Below is a photo of the first day we met Belle…you can clearly see my mothers’ hesitation.
It was Belle’s first day home and my parents had only one rule–no puppy’s on the furniture. My mom left, leaving my brother in charge..who promptly picked the puppy up and put her on the couch to sit with him. My mom came back later that day to the below. She wasn’t too angry..
Belle became apart of the family and for me personally, I think we really grew up together. Below you can see me holding her cap on as she was graduating from puppy school–where she learned how to sit, shake, and a bunch of other basic commands she didn’t remember. As the years passed, she would sit by me as I studied and prepared for my own graduation; the perfect study buddy!
Belle is not a dog that likes long car rides, hikes, or even walks longer than a mile away from her treats. She rather just hang out at home with a chew toy but that’s okay! She has been a perfect study buddy, cuddle buddy and friend. Hanging out with her is all face licks and cuddles. I am just so glad I was an annoying 10 year old and begged my mom for the puppy with the floppy ears from Alabama because that puppy became a great part of our family!
“We don’t deserve dogs, but we are so lucky to have them”
I lived in Myrtle Beach for a year as I was attending Coastal Carolina University. Below you will see some of the highlights of my year living there.
Coastal Carolina University–Throughout campus there are numerous fountains, flowerbeds, and best of all–there is a bridge that connects the campus where you can say hi to all the turtles that call the pond home on your way to class. I loved being on campus and watching the sunset as I walked back to my dorm.
Waccamaw River-Conway. I love hiking but unfortunately the closest mountains are across the state so the Waccamaw River trails were the closest substitute. Although these trails just circled through the woodlands and marshes, they were still fun to explore.
The beaches–clearly the best part of my stay was always going to the beach. It was always fun sitting in the sand and watching the sun rise over the Grand Strand.
Brookgreen Gardens–this sprawling garden is beautiful and so much to walk around. It was a relaxing day as I wandered through the sculpture garden and pet animals in the wildlife preserve
Charleston, South Carolina–I loved visiting Charleston, my friends and I went there for a day trip and I got to walk along the harbor, eat some amazing BBQ, and do some shopping downtown.
These are of course just the highlights of my year in South Carolina. I also enjoyed visiting Broadway at the Beach which has a lot of stores and cool restaurants, Broadway is the go to for nightlife. Other places I recommend is Huntington State Park where you can walk along the beach, possibly see alligators, and visit the historic Atalya Castle.
Highlights of living in South Carolina
No harsh winters–no shoveling!
Always something to do–shopping, trails, visit a state park
Once again–beautiful weather year-round (in comparison to the North’s harsh winters)
Great food–I had the best grits, biscuits, fried chicken, etc while living in SC
Kindness of the residents– manners are definitely instilled in the residents of SC.
The Pocono Mountains attract visitors from all over. It is a region that truly has something for everyone–from ski slopes, trails, to indoor waterparks, it is an escape into nature. My personal favorite spot is Bushkill Falls. Here, you can see a few different waterfalls all connected with steps– making it perfect for families and hikers of all ages and backgrounds.