I immediately thought of the infamous Spongebob song “F is for friends who do stuff together…” when I typed the title of this post!
In all seriousness, February has been one of the best months I’ve had in a LONG while. The quality time my friends and I have given each other is one of the best gifts 2021 has given me. I’m grateful because I know for many, February wasn’t as easy and giving for those in other parts of the country and world.
We can all (or at least mostly) agree that it’s hard to imagine that our lives were almost turned upside down one year ago; we’re still experiencing the whiplash of COVID-19, the restrictions and uncertainties of the pandemic, and the lack of normalcy in our lives overall. Any bit of sanity and time well-spent with friends is exactly what I’ve been craving and desperately needing!
I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy and happy!
One of my best friends turns 27 today, and I can’t help but reflect on our adventures together. From Kalmar to Chicago, Reykjavik to Cortez, Colorado, we always have a spectacular time together!
Bethany is always a consistent source of joy and happiness in my life, and I know she always will be. Every conversation is meaningful, every adventure is purposeful, and every laugh or inside joke is cherished. This gal is truly my best friend!
Happiest birthday to you, Bethany! You’re more than anyone could ask for 🙂
A few days ago I Skyped my friend Bethany, who has been featured in several of my posts, most notably for our travel experiences together. We met in 2016 as two eager U.S. students studying in Kalmar, Sweden and we haven’t skipped a beat since! Bethany now lives in the Seattle area and I’m hoping to visit her as soon as possible. She’s truly the friend you can always rely on, no matter the distance.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been FIVE YEARS since we began our Swedish adventures. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude, but also with watery eyes. I have a love-hate relationship with looking at old photos. I reflect and feel myself in that moment again, sometimes with sweet nostalgia and other times with immense longing to be there again. But why?
1. I’m craving new adventures and memories (aren’t we all?). In all seriousness, travel is my decompression. It’s an escape from work, from people, from life at home. Those long weekend getaways with a close friend, my husband or parent, and lengthier international adventures mean more to me than any material thing.
2. I don’t love where I am right now. I believe people looking into my life (especially through photos) would want what I have: a husband, a dog, a home, a job… but I am not emotionally where I’d like to be. I know deep down that I need to rediscover myself and what’s important to me, which is why I’m in need of positive change.
3. Sometimes the past is more appreciated in the present than it was back then. Sometimes I’ll look at an old photo and think “wow, that was an awesome day!” and maybe I didn’t even realize it at the time. It’s such a shame how our minds can trick us this way.
I’m trying not to beat myself up because all of us can experience these feelings. We can all look at old photos or reflect on old memories with a multitude of emotions ranging from sadness to warm-hearted joy.
I hope we can all create new memories – be it solo, with loved ones, or even strangers – this year and for many years to come 🙂
I’m seldom at a loss for words; my heart goes out to the people who live and work near the U.S. Capitol. My best friend and her husband have lived in D.C. since 2016, which has easily been the most challenging four years for my friend’s husband as he is directly employed by the city. As protests sweep the nation, I always think about the safety of my close friends and hope that he returns home after chaotic days of work ❤️
If I could live anywhere (in Michigan, that is!), I would hands-down live in Ann Arbor. Not only is this trendy college town known for the University of Michigan, but there’s a special charm here that’s unforgettable.
Juan, Linley and I were supposed to wake up at 6:30am yesterday morning and head four hours north to Traverse City; I wanted to see all the fall colors near Lake Michigan and go on some epic hikes. Our plans abruptly changed as we discovered that it would be rainy all day, and because Juan pulled an all-nighter on Friday. I decided that we would all spend the day at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum instead. I’ve never been but am thankful we visited yesterday.
We all soaked up the fall foliage, miles of hiking and the crisp, autumn air. This goes without saying, but I think Linley enjoyed himself the most 🙂
So dad and I spent Friday evening hanging out in downtown Sault Ste. Marie (“Soo Saint Marie”) and had an awesome hiking adventure at Tahquamenon Falls on Saturday: what else could we possibly fit into our weekend in the upper peninsula? Well, we certainly couldn’t leave Michigan’s oldest, historic town without taking a tour of the locks themselves. On Sunday, August 23rd, that’s exactly what we did…
If you don’t live in Michigan, you may not even know about this engineering technology; as a born and raised Michigander, this is something I couldn’t live without seeing!
Sault Ste. Marie sits between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, bordering Ontario, Canada. There’s actually a 21-foot difference in height here on the St. Mary’s Rivers, which makes the Soo Locks so incredible.
These are two parallel locks permitting ships to carry iron ore and other materials between Lake Superior and the rest of the lower Great Lakes. The locks are run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have been around since 1855.
My dad has always been intrigued by ships. His great, great grandfather was one of the first freighter captains in Michigan (and if you didn’t already know this, we’re very proud of our lakes here!). We loved learning more about the locks but our all-time favorite part was actually going through them! We headed west toward Lake Superior first (which raised us 21 feet). You couldn’t even feel the movement of being lifted. The only indicator was watching the wall disappear and seeing ongoing spectators.
After about an hour or so, we looped around through the Canadian locks and headed toward the dock. Although the Canadian locks were not nearly as large or as well-operated, they were cute nonetheless!
My dad and I had an amazing time on two and a half hour tour. It was the perfect way to end our time in Sault Ste. Marie. I was sad when we got to the car, but I highly recommend visiting, taking this tour and spending a weekend with someone you love (it’s good for the soul!) 🙂
The evening of Friday, August 21st was relaxing: dad and I watched some ships pass through the Soo Locks and enjoyed some adult beverages across the street 🙂 As we were spending some long-overdue quality time together, we were planning on what to do the next day.
We headed back to the hotel relatively early (because we both like being in bed before midnight) and discussed our next day’s plan as we watched 100 Days Wild on Discovery.
“Hey Cate, did you and Juan visit Tahquamenon Falls last weekend?”
Why, yes we did! Although Juan, Linley and I enjoyed some epic views at the falls, we didn’t see both sets of falls, nor did we do much hiking there.
My dad and I decided that we would do the full eight-mile hike, which connects the Upper and Lower Falls through some rougher terrain. We enjoyed some crepes at a lovely place near the hotel, and arrived at Tahquamenon State Park around 9:30/10. Neither of us visited the Lower Falls in our lifetime, so that’s where we started.
The Lower Falls are very different from other falls I’ve seen in the upper peninsula; there are a series of smaller drops and there’s even a plateau that visitors enjoy for swimming! My dad and I had the opportunity of great viewing sports since we arrived before 10am.
Enough pictures, more hiking… this hike would easily take about two and a half hours one-way. Let me say it was well worth it! I didn’t take any photos during our venture to the Upper Falls because my dad and I were either chatting, soaking in the scenery, losing our breath when hiking uphill, nearly tripping over tree roots, or a combination of all the above! It was worth it once we hit the Upper Falls.
The two of us visited the pavilion for some tacos and rest (one of us needed to rest more than the other!). Dad made friends with a squirrel who befriended him during lunch, but we had to part ways and head back the other way. We already knew what to expect but were somehow just as excited to walk the other way.
As dad and I jammed out to his Bob Seger, Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel playlist on speaker, we survived another two and a half hour hike! We might have been a little more sore, but this was the perfect time to take pictures of the trail and to rinse my feet from all the mud (yes, I wore yoga sandals on this hike… don’t judge me!). We returned to the car around 3/3:30, making this a total of nine miles and about a six-hour adventure!
Our evening consisted of watching more freighters, enjoying a nice dinner with some whiskey sours, and peanut butter chocolate ice cream, as well as a great night’s sleep!
The truth is that I’ve been struggling to write posts of my daddy-daughter weekend due to some extended and immediate family drama. I’m beyond grateful to have had a wonderful weekend with my dad last month 🙂
Juan, Linley and I returned from our adventure up north on Monday, August 17. I knew that my dad was planning a daddy-daughter weekend for later in the month, but I didn’t know any specifics. Coincidentally, he texted me that Monday evening, asking if I had any desire to return to the upper peninsula (to which I of course said yes!). I’ve only been across the Mighty Mac Bridge – splitting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas – four times in my life, and two of them were last month. Although I visited the U.P. two weekends in a row, the quality time with my dad was entirely different.
We left around noon and headed north toward Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie). This is the oldest town in the Midwest and is famous for its locks. These locks are an obligatory Michigander destination because this engineering raises and lowers ships between Lake Superior and Lake Huron (there is an approximate 21-foot discrepancy in water elevation here!). Visiting the locks was not only something my dad and I had never experienced, but important to him due to his heritage. My dad’s great, great grandfather was one of the first freighter captains in the state, who transported iron ore and other materials for construction within the Midwest and northeast.
Since we arrived in town later on Friday, August 21, we walked around, ate at an Irish pub and enjoyed watching the ships at the local park!