Spring break: Miami Memories pt. 1

Picture this:

You’re a freshman in college. It’s December and all your friends are talking spring break already. You spend much of your time caccooned in your bed, fighting the urge to order Domino’s and you’re thinking to yourself, “Spring break? People actually do that?”.  You get a text from your friend, and future roommate, asking if you’d like to come to cabin for a few days over spring break. You suddenly get excited, until you learn that you got invited to a cabin for spring break…with four couples. That’s right. Ninth wheeling. That has to be a record right?

That was my situation. I was eighteen years old. I was a freshman. And I wanted an amazing spring break. The only problem was that spending my week of freedom with eight people making googly eyes at each other every day while I sit there sipping shitty beer and sleeping on the couch while everyone is sucking face in the next room, wasn’t my idea of fun. So what do I do? I call my best friend. 

Hey Garret. I’ve got a problem.”

“Oh God. What did you do.” (Yes I get this a lot)

“What? No. I’m fine. Spring break. I want to do something…adventurous. A beach maybe.”

“Well. Let’s go.”

One short week later, and a few long phone calls with my parents, we were in possession of a pair of plane tickets to Miami Beach, Florida.

Now, we faced a few challenges. The first being that neither of us have ever done something like this without, say, adults. The second, we had no idea what to do. After much research I had a few things in mind. One of which was a bus tour to Key West, and the second, skydiving. Now, I know many people want to go skydiving, until they are presented with the opportunity to actually go skydiving, but I’m one of those people that are crazy enough to do it. Garret on the other hand wasn’t into it. Of course, after some very, very, intensive convincing, we were going skydiving.

We managed to score a week in Miami for $600: flights and hotel a block from the beach included. The months passed, but not fast enough. Finally the day arrived and we couldn’t wait to get away from North Dakota. Garret drove the four hours to Fargo from Bismarck, North Dakota, and we stayed the night at a friends house so we could make the drive to Minneapolis in the morning. Flying out of a larger airport is ten times cheaper then from a small one, or, any airport in North Dakota to be exact. Now you see why we were so excited to leave?

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I made Garret drive for two reasons. One was because it was his vehicle. Two was because I endanger any life that gets into a car with me, especially in the cities, and Garret did not want to die before he saw the ocean. The road trip wasn’t bad. It was about four hours long. We spent it singing our hearts out to The Fray and purchasing Minnesota’s fun scratch-off lottery tickets. Garret won three bucks, while I of course, I won zip.

We arrived in the beautiful St. Paul area and drove through to Apple Valley to drop off our car at my sister’s brother-in-law’s house, who then, drove us to the airport. Within hours we were in the air. After a short stop in Charleston, we got off the plane, found our luggage, took our first steps into Miami’s air.

It was dark. It was humid. And there were fifty taxis surrounded by hundreds of people in front of us. Talk about a culture shock. In North Dakota, you’re lucky to ever find yourself in a traffic jam.

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We had no idea how to get a taxi, and one of the drivers must have noticed because he stopped in front of us and mumbled something in a language I didn’t understand. So of course, we through our bags in his car and hop in. In the next fifteen minutes, I realized a lot of things: Miami is full of terrible drivers and 98% if them are taxi drivers. I was petrified. We were swerving through buses and mustangs, over bridges and under overpasses. After the longest ride of my life, we stopped in front of our hotel. I had no idea how to use the card thing on the back of the head rest, and when I tried to ask the driver, I’m pretty sure he mumbled something along the lines of, “Stupid people don’t know how use machines. Cash.” So I gave him the wad of cash in my pocket and we went inside.

The lobby was just like the pictures: silver animal statues, beautiful black pillars, and pictures of Marilyn Monroe filling the walls. We got checked in and walked to our rooms. We opened the doors and immediately began to laugh. Our rooms were anything but glamorous. Two twin beds with the hardest, scratchiest, blankets in the world, a TV the size of a magazine hanging from the wall, and a broken sink. Well the sink wasn’t broken until I touched it, but it was close to it.

Right at that minute, what we were sleeping in didn’t matter. We threw our stuff down and ran down the block and over the board walk. Finally we saw it: the ocean.

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We took off our shoes and let our toes sink into the sand, still warm from the sun, but colder as our feet dug deeper from the pressure as we walked. We didn’t even notice he humidity on our skin anymore. The breeze off the ocean took every care away. We walked in the dark along the ocean for about an hour. That hour, I can honestly say, was the most serene and peaceful I have ever been in my life. There was not a soul touching the sand for miles other than our four feet. If you have never seen the ocean, or even if you have, it is different in the dark. It is so mysterious and looks so much bigger when your vision is unclear. I can still picture it, and I often do when I’m stressed. The smell, the sound, the feeling, all of it is so crystal clear. The feeling of the water brushing back and forth over my feet, it felt like a dream.

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It was almost midnight and we decided to get some sleep. Only after walking back did we notice the sign that read: Beach closed to public after 10:00 p.m.. That didn’t really stop us the rest of the week.

We retired to our crappy hotel room for the night and fell asleep to the sound of the ocean still in our ears, excited for what tomorrow would bring.

(After, of course, I broke the toilet seat too.)

More Miami Adventures Coming Soon-

–F&F

 

 

 

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Fernweh N’ Foodie

Okay first, check out this delicious and healthy chili I made! (Recipe here)

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Second:

This is supposed to be a travel blog write? Well, I’m very happy to announce that my best friend and I have officially purchased two tickets to Europe for 40 days beginning June 6th. I am beyond excited to experience a whole new way of life for a month. We will be landing in Frankfurt, Germany and backpacking around the continent via Eurail and budget airlines. As someone who enjoys researching different cultures and geographical locations, I have been going crazy trying to learn and remember as much as I can for the trip. I prefer to be my own, personal tour guide.

I am working on a tentative itinerary, just so we have some sort of idea of where we’re going. Although, I am really keen on the idea of not having a plan. I’ve read many articles from other travel bloggers and have collected a lot of great tips. I bought the Savvy Backpacker’s book “Guide to Europe on a Budget” and it is filled with a lot of great information for beginners, especially when it comes to money and safety. I love the way he describes the different pickpocketing situations so you know what to look for. I recommend it to any traveler.

Youtube has also been a great source for information as far as destinations go. I binge watched Rick Steves‘ channel all Christmas break. Anyone else completely jealous of his life? I have a few of his guidebooks I’ve snagged from thrift shops for little or nothing, but I prefer his vlogs. They are full of great information, aside from the promotion of tour groups. I mean I’m sure I am not the only American who prefers not to be in a sweaty group of other Americans being led around like puppies by ANOTHER American teaching you things you could very well have looked up and did your research for before you got there.

Another Youtuber I have faithfully been watching is Hey Nadine. She is so inspirational to female travelers and has taught me so much. She is always having fun in whatever destination she is in and makes me wish my plane was leaving tomorrow. She’s also lactose intolerant and vegan and still enjoys the amazing cuisine overseas.

I’m so excited to start my new journey to a healthier me as well as prepare for my European journey. I will keep updating my progress of my trip planning as well tell of some of my other past travel experiences. Thanks for reading!

–F&F

 

 

When the Travel Bug Bites

Have you ever been on a road trip or vacation to some new, exciting destination that you have been saving and waiting patiently for? A lot of times, this requires you to travel either through, or over, other, maybe not-so-popular places. This is usually the prime opportunity for a nap or to beat that Candy Crush level you have been stuck on for months. For myself, and many others, that ideal nap time scenery that roughly takes 8 hours to drive through is what we’ve been looking out our windows and seeing all our lives.

I grew up in a small (and I mean small) town in the very center of North Dakota, AKA middle-of-absolute-nowhere. Now, when I was little, there was nothing I loved more than walking through cornfields, or across the prairies and clay pits hunting with my dad. Deer season was the few weekends a year where I got to get up at 6 A.M. and walk the endless, flat terrain of Midwest North Dakota all day, without mom’s rules and nothing to eat but lunchables and leftover Halloween candy my dad always snuck with. It was paradise.

In 2010, my oldest sister invited me to road trip with her, my brother-in-law, and my niece and nephew to Michigan for a family vacation. Since my parents are on the older side and we have never gone on a family vacation, I, of course, agreed.

I had been to Minneapolis before, so the West side of Minnesota didn’t impress me too much. I think it really hit me when I say Lake Superior. I was 14 years old and had a sudden revelation of how big the world is. I couldn’t see the other side of the lake. It was mind-blowing to think that what was in front of me wasn’t even the ocean.

The trees, the lakes, the atmosphere, it was all so different from anything I had seen before. We rode bike around Mackinac Island, drove across the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, drove through some of the tallest trees I have ever seen, and went to America’s largest water park in the Wisconsin Dells. I was in heaven.

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Weird to think I didn't endlessly research my destination before I went. What even is this?
Weird to think I didn’t endlessly research my destination before I went.
What even is this? Amateur.

Michigan was amazing and unforgettable, but the travel bug really didn’t it me until 2012. That October, I had taken a bus with my FFA chapter to Indianapolis, Indiana. It was fun, but not a bus ride you’d want to take (15 hours, and that’s in car), and it was convention and we weren’t able to explore the city.

That December my life would change. For Christmas, my other sister invited me on vacation to sunny San Diego with her husband and two girls. The ocean, and my first plane ride.

The minute we were in the air was the minute I fell in love, (besides the misfortune of snow delaying our first plane, causing us to miss our second plane, which resulted in us having to sleep on the floor of the Denver airport with 2 dogs and a bird).

It was adventurous, to say the least, and when we landed, I was speechless. It was December. It was 70 degrees. And there were palm trees.

Where’s the snow?Where’s the people in parkas and snowsuits trying to shovel 3 feet of snow from their driveways just to get their kids to school? Like I said, speechless. 

We stayed in a condo, just a 5 minute walk to the beach. I remember the first time I stood with my ratty converse in the warm sand in front of the ocean, and it instantly became my favorite place to be.

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View from the hot air balloon

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My whole experience was breath-taking, from the gigantic zoo and feeding giraffes, to riding in a hot air balloon over the city. We went whale watching, saw the Christmas Laker’s game, ran in the ocean (where I of course face planted) and visited the historic Old Town. My favorite moment of the entire trip was the last day, or, as I like to call it, the last sunset.

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Two words: Coronado Island. The sunset there was like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I recommend going there just for that reason. The plane ride back to North Dakota was a very sad, very quiet one because all of us knew we’d be landing in an ocean of white and 30 below temperatures.

From that day on I talked non-stop about moving to California one day. It had become first and favorite home-away-from home and I couldn’t wait to go back one day (which worked out well for me because my first year of college I met a boy, a Californian boy:))

Another thing started that day. An itch that never goes away and makes you want more, and more. It’s called wanderlust. I couldn’t stop researching plane tickets, pinning new adventures to my travel board on pinterest, and dreaming about my next destination. Lucky for me I was fortunate to go to Washington D.C. and New York that spring for a school trip with the Close Up association. Since that amazing Junior year of high school, I have only traveled to Miami for Spring Break (which is a blog post all in its own) and for another amazing week in California to visit my boyfriend this past summer. Right now, I am currently planning and saving for a backpacking trip to Europe this summer and a trip back to California for Spring break.

When I think back at all my trips, I want nothing more than to go back and relive every moment of them. While patiently waiting for my next ticket out of here (here now being Fargo, ND, for college), I’ve learned something very valuable about traveling.

I believe the reason I found the places so astonishing as I did is because of the place I grew up. Not in the sense that all I see every day is a whole lot of nothing, but in the sense that when I was little, and still to this day, I loved whatever view I was looking at, whether an ocean or a corn field, whatever was in front of me was beautiful, and it was freedom; it was adventure. Being outside hunting all day with my dad was my version of freedom and adventure to a 7-year-old, just in the way that watching ships from the docks was freedom and adventure to a 7-year-old in California. This past weekend coming home to hunt with my dad and walking the same fields with the sun on my face just before it set will always give me the same feeling as seeing the last bit of sun fall out of the sky from any destination around the world.

For this reason, I have made it a priority to not only photograph explore new and exotic destinations, but also the old, familiar ones. The ones I grew up with, and new ones that have always been right under my nose.

PS. I’ll post more pictures of the wonderful state of North Dakota in my next post!

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The Badlands in Medora, North Dakota

–F&F

Make A Life, Not A Living

A few blocks from my apartment there is a golf course. Surrounding this golf course are houses, big, incredibly expensive houses. They all have huge back porches looking out into the golf course, beautiful stonework, and lawns littered with all the essentials: high-tech grills, above-ground swimming pools, trampolines; the whole shebang. Since the traffic is slow and the roads are smooth, I enjoy going to to run or longboard. Every time I travel the 2 mile trek with friends or family, they can’t help but marvel at the impeccable homes. I agree, the first time my eyes fell upon them I was in awe. It is not often you find homes like those in the area I live. Time after time, running those roads forward and backward, my opinions began to differ greatly from my friend’s:

“I’d kill for a house like that!” 

“Imagine the money you need to live here!”

“They’re so lucky! I hope I can afford all that one day!”

To start, I’m the girl that compares all prices to plane tickets. So of course, as they gossiped about the chandelier glowing brightly from the french doors of a cottage style, multi-story home, I couldn’t help but think: I could’ve traveled to every country in the world for the price of that house.

Not to mention it’s designer furnishings I’m sure fill the rooms.

Sure, a huge house with all the fixings sounds like a great and admirable life, but to me, it’s just not dream life I’d choose if I could.

Much like that one saying, “I’d rather own little of the world and see a lot, then own a lot of the world and see little of it.”

For some reason, I’m enthralled by the idea of living with less; nothing but the clothes on your back (well, maybe a bit more). Imagine what you could do and where you could go without anything holding you down. No rent to pay. No car insurance. No utility payments. No $100 trips to the grocery store. Nothing but whatever you can carry, belonging to no city. Just the sunset to your back and a new destination in front of you.

That’s life. 

That’s Making A Living. 

“A Living” should be the act of doing so, not associated with a paycheck. Since when is living considered a job? It should be a simply breath; pure bliss. “Living” should not be the act of making money to afford the huge house with the designer furnishings or to pay the bills. “Living” should be the act of making your dreams come true. The act of turning them into reality. The act of creating a life you can be at peace with when it has come to an end. A life you’ve lived to it’s highest potential.

I will never be satisfied with a mansion or designer couches, nor will I be satisfied with the same view from the same window day after day. As I pass these houses day after day, they never move, never change. They never get to see the way the sun shines on them anywhere else but where they were built. They are stationary.


I am not.

I am wherever I want to be. 

And I want to make a life,

not a living.

Free-Falling Through Life

This Monday was like that of any other: Get up. Get dressed. Eat a bagel. Go to work. Granted, I am only 19, and this is “job” is a monotonous 4:30 A.M. wake up call to a coffee shop in a local franchise, but a job nonetheless. The reiteration of this day-to-today lifestyle always seems to get me thinking.

Is there more to life then going to college, getting a job, and eventually using what money is left over after finally paying off your college debt to purchase a beautifully carved, marble rock that will lay atop your heard for the rest of eternity?

This question has crossed my mind many times. Lately, in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I find I am drowning in sleepless nights, trying to discover what it is I want in life. The problem here is that I already know.

I am wanderlust. I am bent on the idea that only a packed bag and my feet in a new country can cure the missing piece of me. I am repeatedly terrified by the idea that I will not make the right decision; the decision to take the risk.

What if it does not work out?

Oh, but what if it does?

What if I miss the opportunity of a lifetime because I was held back by the conscious thought of rejection or failure? What will everyone think of me? Now ask yourself this. Does it really matter? Our hopeful 100 years on this earth is proof that our feet are not meant to stay in one place. You do not need 100 years in the same place. Our minds are so complex that they are able to learn such a vast variety of skills and information. Stop filling it with the same content it already is overflowing with and learn something new, whether it is an instrument, a language, or a new word. Never. Stop. Learning. This is so vital to us as human beings that many of us forget to stay active learners. We spend 13 years getting various subjects branded into our minds. After that, we choose something we may have an interest in, or may just needed to fill in a bubble for the application (guilty). We then pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit inside more blank spaces, getting even more information prodded at us. Most of us end up dedicating 17 years (give or take) of schooling to sit behind a desk in a cubicle; where coffee becomes a means of survival and the clock seems to be moving backwards rather than forwards.

Then comes the worst part: We forget.

If you do not continue to use the information your brain has stored, it will weed out the dormant skills. You need to keep learning. Explore the world. Do not settle for the pictures on Google. Sure, anyone knows what it looks like to jump out of a plane, I mean, who hasn’t searched the web for skydiving pictures? It looks breath-taking. Those of you sitting at home in your pajamas, within the comfort of four walls and a roof over your head, Googling these images are missing the point. It is the feeling.

It is getting the harness on, all the nerves in your body on guard. It is making the walk to the open pasture, sunlight shining off the metal of the small plane. It is taking off, strapped to a stranger, the plane tilting and shaking as the uneven weight of the other nervous thrill-seekers shift as a last attempt to calm their nerves. It is watching the rickety door to the plane open to landscape below, winding through the city. It is that feeling right before you fall, legs dangling two miles from safety: Calm, like you could take on anything in the world at that moment in time.

And then you let go. 

120 miles per hour. Endlessly falling; free and fearless. Released from your same day after day routine. Free from any worry or hint of stress, if only for a second. It is you against the world, and right at that moment, you are on top.

You can’t experience that from pictures, nor from talking about it. Not even my best description could ever prepare you for the rush of life that fills you when you are falling.

During my personal experience of being a dare-devil (no, I did NOT tell my mom until after I was safely on the ground), the entire time I was in the sky there was only one recurring thought running through my head: I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. Skydive? No, even though if you asked me to at this very moment I’d answer with a “DUH”. I want the thrill. The new experiences. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

I want it all. 

Fernweh: German~Literally “farsickness” or “longing for far-off places”, as contrasted with Heimweh (homesickness, longing for home).

This is my version of wanderlust. I am currently self-teaching myself German, because it is the basic ancestry of my family and I long to travel to the beautiful country someday. Through my studies, “Fernweh”, has been a word I have found to be my favorite. I long for places far from here, places I do not even know exist.

I am homesick for the unknown, and I am not afraid to find it.

I am Fernweh, and I am Fearless.

Everyone deserves to know what the other side of the clouds look like, if only for a second.
Everyone deserves to know what the other side of the clouds look like, if only for a second.

The Path to Greener Pastures

I do not like routine. I refuse to conform to the idea that each of us has a set plan. I am an avid believer of the unknown, that even though we spend a majority of our free time trying to come up with a plan, our lives can never truly follow it. Life is chance. I find great delectation in crawling out of bed in the morning without a sense of how my day will play out. It is the colorful excitement of the anonymous day as opposed to the monotonous every day path that so many of us choose to follow. That path, carved into the earth after so many generations of human beings chose to follow it like their peers, knowing the destination and all instances leading to it, is one I chose not to follow. I grew up around pastures; vast, beautiful pastures flooded by cattle. Running over the hills and through the draws of the land were paths. These paths were the trails the cattle chose to follow over and over again, day after day. The cattle took these paths because they had been traveled by so many before, conscious that they would safely lead to a spot to graze. After countless days of traveling the paths, back and forth, the desired destination the path would lead slowly became desolate. This was because after the numerous heads of cattle continued to returned to their familiar grazing spot day after day, the hay would slowly disappear. Eventually, it would disappear altogether. The cattle would continue to return, hoping to find more to fill their hungry stomachs, but of course, only disappointment. With everyone in the world following the same path, lifetime after lifetime, soon it will lead to emptiness, maybe not in our stomachs, but in our souls. We are meant to wander, for wandering off the carved path always leads to greener pastures. It is very possible the new path you choose to take may be more difficult. There may be a longer journey, and it may take a bit more time; there might be lower valleys, or a larger hill to climb, but the one thing we know about hills is that the view from the top is always worth the climb. I, myself, will always choose the better view, even if it means a more difficult journey. The fear of living an “average” life if terrifying; the fear of not finding the greener pasture because I chose to follow the crowd; to follow familiarity and assurance. I crave the unknown. I am homesick for places I do not even know exist yet, but I am confident I will find them.


I choose to make my own path in this world. Will you choose to carve your own as well?

With my worn out soles and aching feet, I will continue to make my own path in this monotonous world.
With my worn out soles and aching feet, I will continue to make my own path in this monotonous world.