Empire Bluff Trail

Last weekend, Linley and I hiked Empire Bluff Trail (a woodland trail to amazing views of Lake Michigan) for the third year in a row. Pulling up to the parking lot with Juan and Linley hit me pretty hard this year, because the last time I visited was with my mom. All of our memories together flooded through my mind – which left me feeling both grateful and depressed during my nostalgia. We no longer had the relationship we once did and as badly as my heart is breaking, I wanted to return to the bluffs once more before the summer ends.

Linley was smiling, panting and pulling his way uphill on the trail. All the passersby were awestruck by his cuteness! Linley was kicking back in the dirt once he marked plants and trees, mostly on Juan and myself. He was refusing to act tired in the woods, but plopped down in the sand as soon as we got there. I smiled and laughed more at his shenanigans than I have in a long time! No words can express how much joy this 15-pound pup brings me ☺️

The three of us lounged in the sand as we enjoyed the breeze, sunshine and incredible views before heading to the beach.

Here are some videos of Linley getting comfortable in the sand 😂

Best devices for photography and videography?

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may recall this amateur “music video” from my time in Iceland:

Videos taken May, 2018

I’m planning a European adventure with one of my best friends this September, but I don’t want to bring my bulky Canon Rebel – no matter how much I still love it. I have basic video editing skills via Camtasia and Vyond, and am hoping to take my videography and editing skills to the next level!

Which ‘smaller’ cameras or devices would you recommend for photography and videography alike? Which video editing software(s) would you recommend aside from Camtasia?

As always, thank you for your advice and for joining me on my journey. I *caved* and recently created a travel Instagram (because I do NOT want a ‘personal’ account again), which you may follow: @adventureinspades

West Side, Best Side!

If I were to tell you that I had the perfect holiday weekend, I’d be lying to you; seeing happy families – especially parents with their daughters or siblings playing together – hit my heart like a boxer punching their opponent. BUT it did make me smile when I was able to remove myself from my emotions, and I had a pretty great weekend with a dear friend and our pups!

On Saturday, I drove to Kalamazoo (on the west side of Michigan) to visit my friend Cass and their dog Meadow. I would visit them wherever they were located, but the west side of Michigan is quite beautiful and special in more ways than one. The four of us went to the dog park before Cass and I grabbed dinner and drinks at Taco Bob’s downtown.

Sunday was a lazy morning (at least it was by my standards!), and we headed for Saugatuck Dunes State Park for some hiking and beach time. Linley and Meadow enjoyed running through the woods and frolicking on Lake Michigan’s shoreline. As our dogs were smiling and living their best lives, we were too! Watching Linley jump in the waves and attempt to drag large branches out of the water and Meadow’s first time at the Great Lake put huge smiles on our faces. The little boy who kept coming back to pet Meadow and Linley while they were splooting in the sand also made our days! Feeling the sand between my toes, the sun kissing my face and the wind in my curls was the best combination of peaceful and whimsical.

Even though we all could’ve stayed on the beach for the entire day, it was time to explore the downtown area. Saugatuck is a charming beach town that screams quintessential Michigan: local cafés, boutiques and homemade ice cream galore. The best part of our downtown exploration was when the fire truck came by and Linley howled in unison (it was adorable!).

The last stop on our day trip with the fur babies was South Haven, because we had to see the lighthouse and have a little more time on the beach. We walked the pier, enjoyed time playing in the sand and grabbed some ice cream before returning to Kalamazoo.

The pups were tired, so Cass and I dropped them off and met our friend KayLee at One Well Brewery. The three of us used to work together in college, and I’ve been individually close with both of them even though they haven’t really hung out without me. We all relished in past work memories, exchanged profound conversation and shared several laughs! I love them both dearly and being around two of my favorite people meant the world to me. I hope us getting together helped KayLee and Cass feel better about hanging out more often (which I’m sure it did!).

Photos taken on Saturday, May 29 & Sunday, May 30

Memorial Day Memories

For those of us in the United States, Memorial Day weekend can mean a variety of things, even though its main purpose is to celebrate those we lost in service. I strongly disagree with the reasons why we enter into war, but I support those who defend our nation for the right reasons, and heavily reflect on my family members and friends who have served overseas.

With that being said, I’m not only reflecting on my loved ones who have served today; I’m also relishing in past memories with others who I’m not as close with anymore. For some reason, I’ve traveled somewhere on or around Memorial Day weekend in recent years and cannot stop wishing to be back in those places, with those individuals, during those exact moments in life.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (May 2018)

One of the happiest days of my life

Empire, Michigan (May 2020)

One of my favorite days last spring

I wish things were different with my loved ones. Maybe things will be better again or maybe they never will be, but either way I can cherish these memories and plan future adventures with friends.

I wish all of you a safe, healthy and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend!

Happy Birthday, Bethany!

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 🙂

Back to the Beach!

Our last evening at Pictured Rocks was by far my favorite. After some epic hiking, we returned to Lake Superior Beach to enjoy our final sunset and some good night’s sleep. Juan and Linley needed a quick nap in the Jeep when we arrived, so I re-explored where Linley was digging around the day prior. I was drawn into the creek and the way the light was reflecting off the water.

I went back to the car to wake Juan and Lin up from their nap, and we settled in to enjoy the sunset. We didn’t take many photos because we were living in the moment, but it was a wonderful way to end our time on Lake Superior!

I can’t wait for my next adventure with my little family 😊

Photos taken Sunday, August 16, 2020

Au Sable Light Station and Log Slide Trail

Another dog-friendly activity we participated in during our time at Pictured Rocks was visiting the Au Sable Light Station. There was a nice trail between this point and our next attraction that called for some great views – and photos!

The three of us relaxed and had some Gatorade (Lin did not…) as the waves below us crashed into the cliffs. No photos can truly capture upper Michigan’s beauty, but they can always capture Lin’s attitude(s)…

“First they’re sour,”

then they’re sweet!”

After our snacks, we hit the trail and headed East for great views of the dunes. To Juan’s and my surprise, we didn’t even realize the upper peninsula even had dunes to explore!

One main viewing point was along the log slide trail, where they literally slide logs to freighter ships. We didn’t dare go all the way down because it took people (even hyper children and cross fitters) over an hour to climb back up! The views were worth the trek though.

Photos taken Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sunset at the Lake Superior Beach Overlook

Last Saturday, Juan, Lin and I needed to find a place to park our Jeep for the night. Luckily, we found the perfect spot:

The best part? We were able to hit the beach first thing in the morning!

Our pup had the best time exploring a creek leading to the lake; stay tuned for that post next 😊

Snorkeling with Sea Lions

During our last full day in the Galápagos, Juan and I rented snorkels and headed to the “hotspot” for animal watching. We were greeted by sea lions who wanted to swim and play with us!

Pro tip: buy an underwater camera before you visit the islands. I instantly regretted not having one…

Ecola State Park, Oregon

Friday, July 27 (continued)

After our time relaxing at the beach, Al and I knew we had some hiking to do!

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Our walk to the state park wasn’t all flowers and sunshine though!  We had to walk up to the entrance of the park, which consisted of walking uphill for ~30 mins-1 hour and made us short of breath even before the “real” hiking began!

Once we arrived at the entrance, the guide helped us pick which trail we wanted to hike.  Since we craved high, ocean views, we chose to head west and felt the ocean air.

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Prior to heading back uphill to continue on our path, a huge bug landed in Al’s mouth as he was talking! I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t even walk back up on the trail!

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Even though I couldn’t get his bug incident on camera, I’m happy we took the above pictures 🙂

The views were incredible, the stories were endless, and the laughs were much-needed after a long day of hiking!

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