Devil’s Tower in Wyoming

Mitchell and I had a four day weekend together for Christmas. A big blizzard was in the forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so we anticipated getting stuck at home (not that I was upset about that!) and decided to get out of the house while we could on Friday.

Mitchell had never been to Wyoming, and I wanted to check out Devil’s Tower, so with it being only a 2 hour drive away, it seemed like the perfect destination. Last month, I was honored to attend a 3-day training on Native American culture and tradition where I learned a little about Devil’s Tower, making me appreciate it all the more. Lakota Native Americans have their own name for the tower called Mato Tipila, which means “Bear Lodge”, and other tribes have different names for the tower as well.

I love the story of the tower, which is that there were two Native American children who had gotten lost. They were chased by a giant bear, and could not find a place to hide. The kids began praying; the earth shook and rose where the children were standing; it rose so much that the bear could no longer reach the children, though he tried. It is said that the ridges are on the side of the tower are from the bear trying to climb the tower to reach the children.

Before moving to South Dakota, I read a blog on Devil’s Tower. In that blog, the writer mentioned that if you are in the area, chances are that the only reason you’d be visiting is to specifically visit Devil’s Tower. Although I don’t know that there is anything else to see in the area, simply driving around was absolutely beautiful, especially with the snow. It was a beautiful drive from every angle, and I highly recommend going not only for the views but for the scenery on the way as well!

Five on Friday

When we moved to South Dakota, one of the things that I missed most about North Carolina was simply my day-to-day life. Those were things I didn’t document because I didn’t even realize at the time that they were “things”. So I’m bringing back Five on Friday, because I’ve enjoyed looking back at them, and I’m sure that one day I will also miss my stage of life, and day-to-day life in this moment, too.

-ONE-

I feel like I have been doing nothing except traveling since October. I had a work trip to Minneapolis at the end of October, we have made several trips to Iowa, one weekend trip to our beloved Deadwood, and I went back to North Carolina for a dear friend’s wedding. While I’m feeling inspired by all of the traveling that I’ve been doing, I’m also exhausted, and I’m really looking forward to a laid back 4-day weekend for Christmas. We are planning lots of food, football, and kitty cuddles. My mom might even make the trip to spend Christmas with us this year. Next weekend it’s back to Iowa again for Mitchell’s family Christmas.

The picture quality is poor, but it resembles all of the different weather conditions I’ve had while traveling in the past few months!

-TWO

It’s no secret to those who are close to me that our transition to South Dakota was a rough one for me. I picked up the book This is Where You Belong and it has honestly been life changing. It has taken me several months to read because I have to keep putting it down to process the information because I relate so completely to everything she talks about.

-THREE-

It has been about 2 years since I’ve seen real, legit, full-on snow, and I was so excited to experience a real Midwest winter again. That excitement didn’t last long after driving 8 hours in bad road conditions, though! We are expecting a blizzard Christmas Day, though, and with no plans I am so excited to drink hot tea (or maybe some wine) and enjoy it from my couch.

-FOUR-

One of my best friends from North Carolina got married last month, and I was so honored to be a part of her big day. I love getting to go to the rehearsal, get your hair and makeup done, and be a part of something so special – it’s like being behind the scenes of something most people don’t get to experience. And being back in North Carolina felt so comforting to me; when I was flying into Raleigh, it felt like I was just flying back home from visiting. It fills my heart to have so many places to call “home”, and so many special people in each of those places.

-FIVE-

Mitchell and I have planned our first (hopefully of many) trips to Europe together! We will be traveling to Barcelona in April as we discovered a good deal on flights that we just couldn’t pass up (I mean, literally my flight to North Carolina for the wedding was more expensive than the ones we found to Barcelona – how could we say no?!). I have been planning and pinterest-ing and dreaming of Barcelona – I am so excited! Have you been to Barcelona? What would you recommend?

Charleston, South Carolina: Fort Sumter

While my mom and I were in Charleston, one of my favorite activities was seeing Fort Sumter, which is where the Civil War began in 1861. I think that it was extra special for me after our trip to Gettysburg a few months prior.

Charleston, South Carolina: Fort Sumter

The only way to get to Fort Sumter is by ferry. It was a smooth ride, and we even saw quite a few dolphins on the way back! Another favorite was the skyline of Charleston, which consists of churches instead of tall buildings.

Charleston, South Carolina: Fort Sumter

That's the fort!

That’s the fort!

And that skyline!

And that skyline!

Charleston, South Carolina: Fort Sumter

Charleston, South Carolina: Fort SumterCharleston, South Carolina: Fort Sumter

We explored Charleston late at night our first night, did everything we could fit in during the one full day we had, then we went to Fort Sumter on our final day. It is a pretty quick trip, so it was perfect to wake up and check out the Fort, then leave for Myrtle Beach (our next destination) with plenty of daylight left to explore our area there! Keep in mind that Fort Sumter ferries only go out a certain number of times a day. The gentleman who sold us our tickets told me they only sell out on busy weekends (like Labor Day), but it’s good to know time-wise that you might have to plan around what time the ferry leaves.

Charleston, South Carolina: Fort Sumter

10 Things I Miss About North Carolina

It’s been a while since I announced we would be leaving North Carolina. We are now settled in South Dakota, and I’ve been thinking about, and missing North Carolina constantly. Here is what I’m missing the most.

10 Things I Miss Most About North Carolina

1. Design

In the south, everything comes with a monogram, from car decals to apparel to floor mats. Clothes come in bright, vibrant colors with pretty patterns and chevron (my favorites include a dress I found that’s covered with crabs and a flamingo cardigan!) Basically, I can sum this up with saying I just want the entire crown & ivy collection at belk. Side note: Belk probably deserves it’s own shout out; I had never even heard of Belk before North Carolina but it seemed to be my go – to for new clothes. Finally, I grew an obsession with Simply Southern shirts, and I want every single one! I think that Simply Southern shirts have made their way to the Midwest (although they are not nearly as popular as in the south) but the bright colors and chevron will forever stay Southern!

This is my favorite Southern outfit. You can't tell, but this is my crab dress ;)

This is my favorite Southern outfit. You can’t tell, but this is my crab dress 😉

2.Weather

I know that weather is crazy everywhere, but North Carolina weather was arguably some of the craziest weather that I’ve encountered. My boss told me my first week there that if I didn’t like the weather to wait ten minutes, and she was not kidding. I learned to always have an umbrella and rainboots, and most importantly, I learned that you can never trust the weathermen! Not that it’s their fault, the weather is so unpredictable.

On the other hand, the crazy weather has really worked in my favor many times; there were so many times at the beach that it looked like it would storm. All of the tourists would scatter, but us locals knew better. You don’t believe the sky until it’s actually raining on you. I got the beach to myself several times because of this – and I’ve never been rained!

This picture was taken smack dab in the middle of tourist season. Do you see how empty the beach is? It was packed before this cloud came around; and it never rained!

This picture was taken smack dab in the middle of tourist season. Do you see how empty the beach is? It was packed before this cloud came around; and it never rained!

3.Food

Barbecue, fried chicken, greens, Bojangles, Waffle House, fresh fish – the list could go on forever! And aside from southern food, we were also close to plenty of Thai and Japanese food, most likely to accommodate the service members who had been deployed to those areas.

Carolina food

4.Southern Charm!

Nope, not talking about the TV show (although I love that too!); I am talking about manners and being polite. And saying ma’am, sir, please and thank you, and of course, “bless your heart!”. Plus, in the South, there is no reason too small to have a party to celebrate something!

North Carolina

5. The beach

Oh, the subcategories I have for this; this is going to be a long one because I miss the beach so much it hurts. I miss being the only person on the beach in the winter, walking for hours after work and never seeing a single soul. And always having a go – to no matter what, whether we were bored, needed something to do, or just because, the beach was always an option. There was no bad day that the beach couldn’t fix for me. I miss looking for dolphins, seashell hunting, and looking at all the beautiful, unique houses that I dreamed of owning one day. I miss getting sunkissed from laying on the beach all day then stopping at the fish truck on the way home and grilling fresh fish for dinner. I miss the first sight of my beloved Topsail Island from the top of the huge bridge that you must drive on to get there, the cheesy tourist shops, and knowing the difference between “normal” traffic and “tourist” traffic. I miss watching visitors on vacation; I loved being able to tell vacationers that “I live here” and feeling so proud and so lucky about that. Living at the beach and visiting the beach are two very different things, and I will forever miss being a “local”.

North Carolina beach

6. The mountains
It was North Carolina where I discovered my love for the mountains. Never in my life have I lived anywhere close to the beach, and the same is true for the mountains. So the fact that the Great Smoky Mountains were under a 5 hour car ride away was something pretty special to me. I felt so spoiled having such easy access both to the mountains and to the coast. We are close to the mountains now, but there was something about the Great Smoky Mountains that was special to me. Maybe it’s because it’s where I first fell in love with the mountains, or maybe it’s because they seem so much more relaxed there than here – I don’t know. I just know I miss them!

One of my favorite trips was when we went to see the Fall colors

One of my favorite trips was when we went to see the Fall colors

I could look at those layers all day long

I could look at those layers all day long

7. The East Coast Time Zone
Believe it or not, I preferred the East Coast time zone! I liked being ahead of everyone else. Now by the time I get to work, my old co-workers are two hours into their day, and I’m pretty jealous around 1:30 my time when I know they’re headed home for the day. It was also convenient if I ever needed to call customer service for something because usually they were based somewhere with an earlier time zone (mostly because it was Iowa that I would need to call). Now when I get off work and they’re already closed because I’m the one that’s behind!

North Carolina

8. Animals
From dolphins at the beach to bears in the mountains and anything in between, I always was able to get my animal fix. One of my big bucket list items was to volunteer to watch the turtle nests; I was actually going to sign up right around the time I found out that I’d gotten the job in South Dakota. North Carolina is also a wonderful place to hunt for seashells.

Metal Detector

9. History
We loved being close to so much history. Not only did we love being able to take in museums, Fort Fisher, Fort Macon, the Biltmore Estate, the USS North Carolina, Wright Brothers museum, lighthouses, the railroad, and so much more, we were also close to even bigger historical sites that were just a half – day’s drive away. We were lucky enough to visit Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., and so much more because we didn’t have to hop a plane like we would in Iowa.

Fort Macon has so much history, and it is beautiful

Fort Macon has so much history, and it is beautiful

10. Memories & People
The people I met in North Carolina took time to show me
everything North Carolina-ian. They took me hunting for shark teeth, made homemade Southern food, took me to festivals, and so much more. The friends I met in North Carolina have played such an important role in my life; they have made me a better person. I don’t know what I expected when we decided to move across the country, but whatever it was, North Carolina exceeded any expectation I ever could have had. I have so many special memories; and some of them can’t possibly make this list because they were just day-to-day life things. Have you heard the quote that you don’t know how special something is until it becomes a memory? That is the easiest way to sum up my entire experience in North Carolina. I miss my friends, and North Carolina more than I ever thought was possible.

North Carolina

10 things I love most about North Carolina

New Adventures

Well, things sure have been quiet on this blog! However, it is only because things in the real world have been crazy. In late April, I received my full, unrestricted license to practice mental health counseling and following that I was busy applying for jobs and interviewing for several positions. With all of that being said, I am excited, nervous, and a little sad to announce that I have accepted a position in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Animals in the Mountains in North Carolina

While I am beyond excited for a new adventure across the country, my heart breaks a little to leave North Carolina and the east coast. We had always planned on our time in North Carolina being a temporary move, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to me but somehow, it is. Over the past couple of months, I was starting to fall in love with North Carolina even more than ever, and it was starting to look like we were going to be here a little longer than the 1 – 2 years that we had originally planned. I was really starting to kind of fall in love with that idea.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee mountains

But change is good! And exciting! So stay tuned because I’m sure we will have lots of new places to explore. I am also going to backtrack and post some of our latest adventures, including the Outer Banks and Nashville, Tennessee.

North Carolina Pier

My last day of work is scheduled for July 1st, and we’ll probably be spending our 4th of July moving across the country! I’ll be spending the next four weeks soaking up every last second. Luckily, I have a lot of PTO to use up so I’m hoping to squeeze in a few extra adventures before we leave this amazing place!

Topsail Island, North Carolina

Even though I’m from Iowa, I haven’t traveled much west of there, with the exception of Denver. That means that this part of the US will be new to me! If anyone has any tips, hints, or must – see places in or around South Dakota, I’d love to hear them! We’ll be in the southwestern part of the state, not too far from Colorado and Wyoming.

Sunset in Cape Coral, Florida