Empire Bluff Trail and Beach

Knowing that Labor Day weekend was probably the last glimpse of summer we would see in the Midwest, I dedicated a day toward hiking and soaking of the sun with Linley. We traveled north to the Traverse City area and did our fourth-annual Empire Bluff Trail hike together.

Having had Linley for five years now, I’m constantly researching the best dog-friendly areas for us to explore. Empire Bluff Trail was a gem I found four years ago, and we’ve made it an annual tradition to do a hike and lounge at the beach afterward. This year, it was just the two of us and we slept on the the dunes AND on the beach this time!

Feeling the sun on our skin, the sand in our toes (and paws!) and soaking up the last bit of summer was the perfect way to spend Labor Day weekend. The hike and sun beating down on us tired both of us out, but we enjoyed the sunset and quality time curled up on the beach together. I can’t put into words how much I love this little fella—and all of these moments we share!

Media taken Sunday, September 4, 2022

Montrose Dog Beach in videos and photos

Linley and I have enjoyed many mornings at the Montrose Dog Beach in Chicago, and we wanted to go every morning last week. The 5:30am wake ups were totally worth it because we arguably had the best views of the sunrise to date—especially last Wednesday and Thursday.

Here are some videos and photos to better tell the story of these magnificent views!

Tuesday, August 30

Wednesday, August 31

Thursday, September 1

Friday, September 2

Camping with my ladies… and Lin!

Last Friday was one of the most challenging days I have had. It was personally and professionally a really difficult day, and I certainly needed some relief. I was excited to hit the road and head east toward Grand Rapids, Michigan to spend some much-needed quality time with my friend Crystal. She has been a constant during my year in Chicago, and I had actually never hung out with her in Michigan even though she lives there. It was nice to go her way and do some camping before the summer’s over.

Being me, I had let Crystal know that I was emotional. It was a long drive, and a long day in general, and I was mentally exhausted. Little did I know that Crystal had the best surprise waiting for me at the campsite!

With Linley in tow, I parked by her and saw someone else get out of the car. Of course I was polite, but I thought it was strange that she would invite someone else along when we had talked about quality time with just the two of us (three of us including the pup!). Who greets me at my driver side door but Donna! Donna has been one of my best friends since high school, and that’s how I actually met Crystal, and I started crying. Donna’s gesture and Crystal’s surprise were two of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. The entire weekend solidified that there are great people in my life, and there is always light in the darkness.

We spent the entire weekend reading tarot cards, floating down the river, cooking delicious meals and drinking by the campfire. I got great sleep both nights, and had such a great weekend away with two of my best girlfriends. I can’t wait to do it again!

Media taken Friday, August 26 through Sunday, August 28, 2022

Sunrise > Sunset

One major perk of living on the east side of Chicago is seeing the sunrise over Lake Michigan!

There’s something really beautiful and special about a sunrise. Sunsets are pretty and all, but it symbolizes the end of something, whereas sunrises are the start of a new day—and being awake before the rest of the city is something to cherish.

To make things even better, I get to cherish these moments with Linley. What a perfect start to both our days!

Media taken Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Fun on the Farm

Last weekend, one of my closest friends in Chicago and I took a Linley to Cashton, Wisconsin for some fun on the farm!

KP is not as outdoorsy as I am, but we both have a deep appreciation for being immersed in nature and unplugging. About a month and a half ago, we found this cute little Airbnb in Wisconsin and knew we had to check it out and stay there before the summer ended. This quaint little family farm had donkeys, chickens, and even a turkey that tried to peck at my feet! He succeeded, and I made the mistake of wearing open toed sandals the whole weekend!

The ironic thing about the trip is that I am a project manager, which means that I literally get paid to be organized and plan assignments. Here I am being the most unprepared traveler from the get, haha! What I thought would be a one and a half or two hour drive instantly turned in to four one-way, and I didn’t bring all the cooking supplies and equipment that we needed. However, we had the best time, laughed our way through the ill-preparation and made makeshift utensils—and actually prepared some solid food over the fire.

We laughed the evening away with some board games, gin and tonic, and more exploration of the farm. My only regret is that I wish we would’ve had more time there together, but the time we had was more than well-spent. We even braved the cold river where fisherman were catching trout! It was the kind of peacefulness and quality time that we both really needed. And of course, Linley had the time of his life too!

Media taken August 20 and 21, 2022

Skydiving!

On Monday, August 15 at approximately 5:15pm Eastern, I figuratively AND literally took a leap of faith!

Skydiving has been on my bucket list for over a decade now, and is definitely something I’m interested in doing again (…and again!). Maybe it’ll become my second addiction — second to travel of course!

When I got to the site, I didn’t feel nervous. I didn’t feel nervous when I put my things in the locker, or when I met Josue, or when my harness was on, or when I got on the plane, or even when all the others jumped out before me (of course I had to choose the highest altitude!). I wasn’t nervous at all. The only thing that took my breath away – again, both literally and figuratively – was the fact that we were so high up. There were times where I forgot to breathe because I was deeply in awe.

My adrenaline was pumping after I landed – which led me to talking with the kindest woman at reception for about an hour before I drove home. Let’s just say I was on cloud nine after jumping through them ☺️

I hope you enjoy these stills, but the full video is even better ☺️

Warren Dunes State Park

A few years ago while I was unemployed at the beginning of the pandemic, I took a Linley on a spontaneous trip to new dog beach and some beautiful hiking trails along Lake Michigan. Since then, this has been one of our favorite places to visit. While heading to my parents house over the weekend, we decided to take another last-minute trip there — which was much needed for both of us.

I was worried when we first got there because it looked a little overcast and started to rain slightly, but during the nearly four hours we were there it was sunny and warm the entire time. Linley loved being in the water no matter how cold it was, and we both really enjoyed hiking the dunes nearby. We spent most of the afternoon laying on the towel or in the sand watching the waves in the other dogs and people go by. It’s no wonder he’s my favorite little adventure buddy!

Linley and I both enjoyed the sand in our toes and the sun on our faces. I look forward to more August camping and beach day adventures with my little guy!

Media taken Saturday, August 13, 2022

Charmed by Charlotte, NC

I was expecting a nice, low-key weekend with two of my closest friends who just relocated from Asheville to Charlotte, North Carolina. I anticipated some fun at sporting events, some good eats and tons of laughs—but my weekend was much more than that. I had one of the best weekends of my life.

Last Friday, I flew to Charlotte from Detroit (my parents wanted to watch Lin!) and was exhausted. I was exhausted from the week I’d had—both physically and mentally. Although I was sleepy, I napped during my flight and couldn’t wait to be around Carolina and Matt again. They picked me up around 1pm then grabbed some lunch and margs at an amazing Mexican restaurant. Between lunch and our evening baseball game, I took an hour-long nap while Carolina and Matt ran some errands. As I got ready for the game, I decided to leave my phone at their place—to fully immerse myself in the moment and not feel anxious about incoming text messages.

The Charlotte Knights played two games downtown, and the three of us had the best time. We grabbed a couple drinks, some snacks, walked around and shared tons of laughs and stories. Carolina and I have been close since 2020 and I love spending time with her and Matt. The games flew by, and we even saw some fireworks at the end.

After the games and fireworks, we grabbed nightcaps at The Cotton Room downtown. It took forever for us to get our drinks, and while Carolina and I were waiting at the bar, Matt made a new friend. Nick, the one person who is as obsessed with their dog as I am, joined us for a drink and we all ended up making plans for the following day.

On Saturday, we hung out in NODA—the coolest neighborhood in my opinion. I felt like I was back in Asheville, Portland, Ann Arbor and Chicago all in one. Everyone had tattoos and dogs, and were super friendly! Nick brought his dog Jax along for the fun, and everyone was petting him as we grabbed coffee in the afternoon. We dropped him off and the four of us made our way to Optimist Hall, an old mill-turned-market where we enjoyed some tacos.

Going to the soccer game was so much fun, and I didn’t think my weekend could get any more exciting! Boy, the atmosphere with the crowd and the booing and the throwing things was so much fun. We all got right into it!

The game ended, but our night certainly did not. We grabbed dinner and drinks nearby, and made our way back to The Cotton Room. We cried laughing and shared stories just like the night before. It was so fun to spend time with two of my best friends—and make a new one who is so much like me. We all went back to Carolina’s and Matt’s place, where we stayed up until 3:30am (about five hours past my normal bedtime!). What a great night.

Sunday was also great, mainly because I had a later flight home. The four of us were extremely lazy in the morning, but eventually grabbed even more tacos (see the theme here?) for lunch. Before heading home, we went to a dog park/bar and were joined by Carolina’s brother, Matt’s parents and his sister. The eight of us – plus Koko and Matt’s parent’s dog – had the best time. Nick and I hugged goodbye, followed by Matt and Carolina hugging me at the airport. Once I made it through security, I teared up because I missed them already—and can’t wait to make my way back to this amazing city with even better friends.

Media taken Friday, August 5 – Sunday, August 7, 2022

Sunrise at Montrose Dog Beach

There’s nothing like putting your toes in the cool sand and hearing the waves of Lake Michigan at sunrise.

My favorite time to take Linley to our favorite dog beach is early in the morning during the week—when it’s practically all for ourselves. He loves to play with other dogs but can get overwhelmed when it’s crowded, so watching him run and play before I begin my workday is equally rewarding for me.

And the view certainly doesn’t hurt, either! ☺️

Media taken Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Kayaking in Chicago

Crystal and I were finally able to get on the river and kayak downtown last weekend. When I say we had the best time and shared tons of laughs, I’m not kidding! We walked around downtown with our Vitamin Waters and Kettle One peach vodka mixes and headed to Urban Kayak. We were definitely the rule-breakers and tipsiest ones out there – and we may or may not have been reprimanded a couple times – but had the best time and really needed it.

After kayaking, we took ourselves to Caffe Oliva, a beach restaurant right on Lake Michigan with the best view of the city. We instantly felt like we were transported to Miami or something, and of course grabbed another peach vodka cran.

Crystal and I have both been struggling with relationships – and our dynamic with Chicago lately, due to said relationships – and really needed a girls day and quality time together. We’re going through heartache now, but we’ll both be okay in the end. ❤

Photos taken Sunday, July 31, 2022

Lollapalooza Weekend 2022

The one thing I love as much as travel is live music. Going to concerts and events where the music is blaring and the energy of the crowd is contagious pumps me up like no other.

Lollapalooza is a huge Chicago music festival that takes place in Grant Park every summer. I was finally able to attend this year, and it was worth every penny. On Thursday night, I saw Royal Blood at an indoor venue (The Vic, my favorite in Chicago) at a Lolla after show and was by far one of the best shows I’ve been to in recent years—and maybe of all time. I’ve loved Royal Blood for a few years now, and hearing Trouble’s Coming along with some of my other favorites was exhilarating beyond words. I had a blast and met some nice people in the crowd, and stayed up way past my bedtime!

I took the following day off to attend the actual Lollapalooza event and loved every minute of it. I’ve been planning who I wanted to see and when for quite some time, and was thrilled with yesterday’s lineup.

Genesis Owusu is someone I’ve recently discovered and loved instantly. He’s super political and progressive, and all his songs are as meaningful as they are bops!

I obviously had to see Royal Blood again. They’re one of my all time favorite duos and I can’t wait to see them again. Seeing them at an intimate venue and at an outdoor event were two completely different experiences—and I appreciated them both in differing ways.

After Royal Blood and King Princess for a drink and sit down session, I saw another longtime favorite: Glass Animals. Juan and I saw them back in March and have loved them since 2015 or 16, but going alone was my way of reclaiming them for myself. I danced with other loyal fans in the crowd and I had the time of my life. Dave Bailey delivered yet again!

Last but certainly not least was Machine Gun Kelly. One word: OBSESSED! I’ve attended somewhere between 50 and 100 concerts in my lifetime, and can easily say he and his band were the best performers and knew how to work the crowd.

I love that he raps and is punk—which led to the best surprise of the night…

AVRIL LAVIGNE performed with him!!! Oh my god, my ten-year-old self would’ve died knowing that this would happen in my future! We all screamed and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!

Thursday night and yesterday evening were full of memories that I’ll never forget, and I look forward to feeling more of this ❤️

Media taken Thursday and Friday, July 28-29, 2022

My heartwarming week in Michigan

I was in Michigan for the week and returned to Chicago yesterday evening. My week didn’t go according to plan, but it went better than expected in more ways than one.

The original plan was to meet my team on Tuesday through Thursday, with team building dinners and activities in the evenings. However, our get together was postponed to next month, but I still wanted to visit the office—as well as friends and family.

I took Monday off and spent the afternoon on the river with one of my best friends, Donna. We floated down the cascades in Ann Arbor – one of our favorite pastimes – and exchanged deep conversation and support for one another. We have both been struggling with one-sided friendships and overall relationships in general, which made our quality time even more meaningful. We used to spend every Monday or Tuesday evening together, and I can’t wait to pick that back up sometime soon. We ended the evening with some dinner and gin cocktails near my parent’s house—our go-to routine.

A photo from our float last summer

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in the office. I haven’t felt like myself at work in… probably ever… and being around new and some familiar faces was great. I met my boss Justin, my friend Ray, my teammate Jeff and others for the first time, and was able to see Heather and our CEO Jason in person—which hasn’t happened since 2019. My favorite coworker was William, Ray’s dog, who was my buddy the whole day!

What a good boy!

Tuesday evening was great because I grabbed dinner with Veronica, a new and quick friend from work. We both started in May and have quickly found that we have a lot in common. We both are obsessed with Whose Line, Seinfeld, Anthony Bourdaine, The Twilight Zone and so much more. We’re even going to see Whose Line live this November! It was awesome meeting Veronica in person and we’re both amazed at how quickly we’ve connected over these past couple of months.

Wednesday was just Justin and me in the office, but it was really nice because we were able to get to know each other a little better. Justin has been incredibly supportive of me – personally and professionally – and I have so much respect for him as a leader. We enjoyed a nice lunch together, and luckily he also laughed at my silly jokes throughout the day!

That evening, I was finally able to spend quality time with my brother from another mother Ter Ter B! We spent over three hours laughing, tearing up, and hugging at one of our favorite Mexican places in town. Seeing him again was much needed and even though we usually talk on the phone four or five days a week, being in each other’s arms and presence again was insurmountable.

Thursday was such a happy, heartwarming day! I worked from home but drove Linley down to his former doggy day care—his home away from home. When we moved last year, his favorite camp counselors were heartbroken to see him go, so seeing some of his favorites was fun for both Lin and me. When I scooped him up after my work day, one of his favorite employees Sam had given him/us a toy, some treats, Camp Bow Wow swag and wrote me a kind note. I teared up reading it on the way home! I love and miss that place for Lin as much as he misses it for himself.

The four of us wrapped up our day with a concert in downtown Fenton, which played all of our favorite 60s and 70s music. I absolutely loved dancing around and enjoying some vodka lemonades with my parents. It was the perfect end to a fulfilling day. ❤️

Clearly Lin enjoyed himself, too!

After work on Friday, my parents and I grabbed dinner and drinks at their favorite place in town. I enjoyed a gin watermelon drink and some vegan drunken noodles. We chatted about life and it was just nice to be with them again. Really the whole week had been nice, business and all.

What was really fun and surprising was hanging out with a coworker Ray in Ferndale (who owns our office dog!). We hopped around a few bars in the area and had a nice time together.

Saturday morning was spent with my Little Sister Aniya, who just graduated high school, and her mom Marcion, who just celebrated her 37th birthday. We grabbed breakfast in Saginaw and shared some tears and lots of laughs. I love them so much and they have truly been a second family to me. ❤️

My Aniya is all grown up!

The rest of my weekend was spent with my parents. We spent some time outdoors, watched some Twilight Zone and even shared some moments of profound conversation. As difficult as things are right now – and as confused as I may feel – I know I will be okay thanks to the support I have back home. ❤️