Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oh, Shenandoah I Long to See You

It is a goal of mine to visit as many national parks as I can (in addition to every state,'s a long list of To Dos). This fall I was able to check off one that has been looming, well within reach, since I moved to the East Coast. Unable to excuse this grievous oversight any longer, some friends and I made our way down to the Shenandoah National Park for a camping and hiking adventure.

I won't clutter this post up with attempts at cataloguing all we said and did. Instead, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Please enjoy, some snapshots of the Shenandoah.

Oh, and you can be sure I was singing Oh, Shenandoah the whole time in my head. Hope you do too.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

What a Colorful World! - Color Run 2013

Another year, another Color Run. This time, in Baltimore, Maryland.

And it was under threatening cloudy skies that we ran for our color on May 11th.

After threading through the National Harbor on a beautifully sunny day last year, it was hard not to feel at least a little disappointed looking at the weather forecast in the days leading up to the race. How would the colored powder hold up to the rain? Clearly our only fate was to emerge from the course as caked, mud colored, powder monsters.

The morning of the 5K arrived and there was no rain. We climbed into the car armed with coffee and many towels to clean the pending mess and there was no rain. We arrived, drove in circles till we found the parking lot. and there was no rain.

Waiting, corralled in a stretch of open asphalt with an extremely flexible and enthusiastic Zumba instructor, and there was no rain.

Every K that passed brought another layer of color, and wonderfully, still, there was no rain. Not until the finish line came into view did the first drops fall. Light and scattered. Polka-dotting our skin and turning each one of us into a work of splatter paint.

This made the race-end "mosh pit" celebration party even more fun. Every color packet thrown became a mix of powder, paste, and paint on every fold of clothing and patch of skin. And also, made for some great photos. Coughing through a haze of cornstarch, it was a technicolor world.

(And also a great place to snap a few engagement photos for our partners in crime!)

Turns out in the end, the rain brought its own brand of fun. I suppose any good cliché movie ending could have told me that. Each drop adding to the texture of color from another wonderful experience with some great friends.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine's Day Concert

It has been ages since I've been to a concert. And even longer still since I've stood on the floor at a concert.

But the experience is just as I remember it. Jumping and cramped, and filled with the flailing arms and screaming fans. No, not a Bieber concert, a Mumford and Sons concert and the first concert they had given since winning Best Album at the Grammys. And one that I would go back to again in a heartbeat.

It was a huge accomplishment to be celebrated, and they celebrated for all it was worth.

With an enthusiasm and passion often lacking from big touring productions, each member of the band left their musical heart and soul on that stage. From Babel to The Cave, is was a spectical of light, sound, and an experience I'll not soon forget.

Above that, as one who dabbles in singing myself, to see the love they had for their music, their fans, and each other really was inspiring. Here is a group that has done and will continue to do great things. I can only wish them the best....and for maybe another set of tickets.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paradise Island

Who doesn’t love a tropical island paradise? Long, white sand beaches. The sound of the waves. Big, fluffy clouds.

My previous trip to this beach seemed like ages ago. The sand was just as hot, the sky just as beautiful, and the water just as cool. My senses told me I knew this place, by my mind was slow to remember. Like waking from a dream, 8 years is a long time from which to pull memories back.

Standing there, in what could modestly be called a paradise, was a perfect moment. Memories of my sisters from last time, present company of screeching cousins being chased by waves this time, and the beautiful backdrop to the start of another wonderful evening.

I think one of the best things about the Bahamas, and countless songs agree, is the ability to forget everything beyond the horizon. Money, gadgets, fancy clothes all are nothing to bare feet, wild windblown hair, and not a dime in your pocket.  For once to be satisfied to overflowing with what is directly in front of you. Watching the absolute joy of a 6 and 9 year old run from the waves.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On the Road From Vegas to Cali

In the Midwest, there are no mountains. No really, it’s true. Flat prairie, and miles and miles of farm land connect one city to the next and are some of the most beautiful sights in the world to me. But that fact also means that when I do encounter mountains, I am awestruck.

The roadtrip between Las Vegas, Nevada and Palm Springs, California provide just such an experience.

Even with terrible traffic, terrible hangovers from the Vegas NYE celebrations the night before, and terribly cramped conditions for the 5 of us, I found a retreat in the glow of skyline.

Fused between the sunset and the mountains, was just that perfect sense of awe.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Battle of Gettysburg

I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, visiting Gettysburg would have been pretty close to the top of it.

In 4th grade we were allowed to pick our own books for the big class book report. While my classmates choose books about candy factories, adventurous rodents, magic castles, and outer space, I choose a 300+ page novel following a young boy through his experiences in the Civil War.

 Far longer and grittier than any of the other choices, I dove into the narrative. I could smell the gun powder, hear the drums, and feel the bullets whistle by, a breath between life and death.

It was from that moment of opening that book that I wanted to visit the battlefield. Many years pasted and my memory of that 4th grade book report faded. Its descriptive passages joined by the speech in Remember the Titans, the documentaries on the History Channel, and a short lived musical on the Broadway stage. More romantic interpretations of the grit of war to be sure, but still filled with the same level of reverence and respect I knew the place, war, and stories commanded.

One thing I was not prepared for was the actual size of the battlefield. The clusters of so many separate events, so many days, and so many lives. To some this may seem like common sense, of course the footprint of the battle was so large. But even though I knew this to be true, standing atop the hills and looking down was the first time that it actually registered.

Even though the time flew too quickly and the winter light rapidly disappeared long before we reached the end of the maps, I’m glad we went at the end of the day.

Dusk brought peace, rest, and a kind of calm that was perfect for taking in all that the rocks, mountains, and monuments told us.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Iceland: Day 5

As with all good adventures, they must come to an end. I won't say that I was glad to see the last day arrive, but it had been an exhausting couple of days, with more walking, climbing, and bracing against wind than I was used to. So as my heart and head were not ready to say goodbye, my body could use some sleep. 

The morning of Day 5 we packed up our bags, had one more hotel breakfast of random Scandinavian delights, and piled on to the bus (which I'll admit is an overused turn of phrase, but it could not be more apt for how our wobbly legs propelled us up the bus stairs).

This was the day I can safely say we'd all been looking forward to. Not because we were leaving (never!) but because we were going to the Blue Lagoon. A little bit about the Blue Lagoon, it's a geothermal pool and spa located on a lava field that also operates as a research facility to help find cures for skin ailments. The warm waters are rich with minerals, such as silica and sulphur, which give the pool its blue-ish white color. 

It was easy to tell when we were approaching the complex. Traveling down roads that looked like the surface of a far off planet, we turned a corner and could see steam rising in the distance. Unknown to us at the time, the water in the pool averages around 98-102 degrees, in blissful contrast to the cold, wet 40 degrees the previous few days had delivered. There probably was a tour for those who wanted to go on one, but for Emily and me, we headed straight to the locker rooms and spent the next 2 hours bouncing from the pool to the steam room to the sauna, then back to the pool for a silica face mask and sunshine, perfect for unknotting each tight, spent muscle. 

It was there, floating around in a milky pool (it wasn't really milk though, ew), that Emily met some of the crew of Thor: The Dark World. No, none of the actors, but still. How cool is that? I still to this day have no idea where I was when all of this transpired, but great life lesson right there; you never know who you're going to meet and what singularly unique insight they posses. 

The two hours flew by entirely too fast and so, with fingers and toes insufficiently pruned, we ran back to the bus (last ones on...again) and headed for KeflavĂ­k International Airport. Those of us that had a few hours till our flights boarded hung around on the far side of customs/security. Even more Icelandic souvenirs were found and one last odd cafeteria meal was had. I was saving my krona though. During our bus rides together Argnr made it a point of introducing all of us to as many pieces of Iceland that she could. Shot of Brennivin, pieces of sheeps' head (cut off the actual head with a box cutter!), putrefied shark (I passed on that one), were all set to the music of an eclectic Iceland soundtrack. From Of Monsters and Men to random names I could not pronounce, I was determined to pickup on of her CD suggestions. With my seatbelt securely fastened, complimentary hot beverage in hand, I picked up an Icelandair compilation mix that is now frequently found in my car's CD player.

I'll end this set of posts by saying, if you ever have the chance to go to Iceland, do it. It is really one of the most beautiful, exciting, and welcoming countries. Skal!