Leaving home

I have been legitimately terrible about posting anything on here in the last two weeks. Normally, I would be beating myself up over this a little bit. Constantly reminding myself that I need to be writing, I need to be creating, I need to be keeping up with my commitments (like this blog). 

But I really haven’t been this time, for some reason. I think it is because I have given myself permission to relax, to turn my brain off for a while. I’ve been keeping myself busy doing art, journaling, being more social than usual, and watching the Olympics. Oh. And packing to move into my new house Tuesday. That too. I’m not sure I give myself permission to fully mentally relax as often as I should – these past two weeks have been really rejuvenating. I think I will keep that in mind for the coming semester. With 18 credits, it is going to be more important that ever to allow myself mental breaks.

This past week, I had a free afternoon where my best friend and I trekked up to the mountains for some chill adventuring time. We saw a beautiful water snake sunning itself on a rock in the middle of the river, and a bunch of giant (and terrifying) water spiders. We also found a beautiful little waterfall, and almost got swept away in the river trying to get to it. Here are a couple pictures from that afternoon. 

Tomorrow morning I set out for Wisconsin again. In some ways, I really don’t feel ready to go back to Wisconsin. – I like being at home. I love my family, I love Knoxville, I love being so close to the Mountains. But I also start to feel the need to resume my own life. Im excited to get back to Wisconsin, get back in the flow of things, and see some people who I have missed a lot over this wonderful summer. 

Afternoon in the Mountains

Yesterday I took the afternoon and went up to the mountains with one of my best friends that I have been close with for a long time. We don’t get to see each other often, so having a whole day together was really wonderful.

We drove up into the mountains in search of a river that was fairly accessible, and didn’t require too much work to find a good area to climb on river rocks and wade around a bit. After some initial exploration to find somewhere without any people around, we found a lovely little spot to spend the afternoon.


This was one of the highlights of the afternoon – we found a hellbender salamander! These are the biggest Salamanders that live down here – over a foot long! This guy just crawled up right next to us while we were hanging out on a rock. I picked him up and he was the squirmiest, gooshiest thing I have ever felt. That is the face of pure joy.



I swear mandolins sound better in the mountains.


Busy with Summer

It has been quite a while that I have posted anything. Last time I wrote, I was sitting on my Grandma’s couch in Junction City, Kansas. Since then I’ve been back to Tennessee, then up to Wisconsin, and now back down to Tennessee (and I am leaving for North Carolina for two weeks, tomorrow). As a result, I haven’t had all that much time to write, either on here or inside my journal.

Even with the ongoing feeling of being constantly in motion this summer, the past two weeks or so have been great. In Wisconsin, I was able to go to two nights of Dead and Company at Alpine Valley. I hadn’t seen Dead and Co before, but they really were excellent. As someone who has listened to a fair amount of Dead for my age, I had some things I really liked about John Mayer as lead guitar and some things I wasn’t as fond of. Regardless, they were great shows. I had a ton of fun being surrounded by people who made me feel comfortable, eye-balling everyone’s outfits, and dancing my butt off. It felt good. Also in Wisconsin, I was able to go sailing for the second time. I love being out on the water – the hot sun, Wisconsin-cool lake – time disappears.


Madison from the sailboat.


Alpine Valley!

Since I have been home, I have been doing typical “Knoxville” things. In July, there is a wildlife/park where there are just fields and fields of blooming sunflowers. I spent some time there, goofing around in between the rows, taking silly pictures with my best friend. I ran around downtown, looking around all the little shops and having lunch with my Dad. Knoxville still really feels like home.


Little baby bee!


Bestfriend lookin’ good.


downtown ramblin’


Electric Forest

From June 22-26, my brother and I were at Electric Forest in Michigan. We got the early arrival pass, which allowed us to arrive Wednesday night instead of Thursday morning. The camping areas were huge, so in retrospect I’m really glad that we got there early. It made the trek to the actual festival a 1/2 mile walk instead of a 2 mile walk. Definitely worth it. 

Wednesday – we didn’t even arrive at the festival until around 7 pm. We drove slowly for the last 60 miles or so – there were an unbelievable number of police on the highways leading up to Rothbury. We passed several cars pulled over with 3-5 people handcuffed on the ground as police searched their car. I was determined to give the police no reason to pull me over. Luckily, we got there without incident. We set up the tent, unpacked and organized, played some mandolin/guitar, and walked around the grounds a little bit. There were a lot of vendors (both food and other goods) outside the actual festival grounds, which was nice for the early arrivals. 

Thursday – Thursday started the actual music. Most people were still arriving Thursday morning, so nothing started until mid-afternoon. We saw Marvel Years, Party Favor, Paper Diamond, Prof, The Polish Ambassador, Duke Dumont, Way Out West, The White Buffalo, Major Lazer, and Bonobo. My brother really liked Party Favor, but I didn’t think any of the groups we saw Thursday were particularly notable. Major Lazer was the only one I had seen before (last year at Wakarusa), and he delivered a very similar shoe- lots of energy, but not very interesting. Regardless, music is music, and it was still nice to get some dancing time in. 

Friday- one thing that was different about EF compared to most other festivals I’ve been to was how late the music started. For the most part, none of the bigger stages were up and running before 3:30 pm. It wasn’t bad, and it helped keep people in the shade during the worst of the heat, but it did feel like I was wiling away the entire day. Anyway, Friday we saw Dumpstaphunk, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Futuristic, NghtMre, The String Cheese Incident, and STS9. Dumpstaphunk, despite playing when it was still pretty hot, was great! I tend to prefer funky beats over the more droning/pounding beats that some artists put out, and dumpstaphunk was right up that alley. I had seen Nahko and STS9 before but they were still some of my favorite shows. Nahko is one of my favorite artists- his lyrics are very political, he does a lot of work for social change, and he just seems like a fun, genuine person who hasn’t lost sight of his goals and ideals even though he’s become relatively well known. And, as always, STS9 jammed. They never disappoint. They are such a good mixture of electronic/real instruments, and the crowd is always really pumped which makes everything just a little extra fun. 

Saturday- Saturday was a long day. It was probably the most intense in terms of the complete music festival experience – I won’t go into too much detail on that front – but it was a hell of a lot of fun. We saw a more relaxed set by STS9, Delhi 2 Dublin, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The String Cheese Incident again, Porter Robinson, Bassnectar, and Flosstradamus. Delhi 2 Dublin I had seen before, but they kind of disappointed me this time. In the past, he has really done his name justice, focusing on some traditional beats/sounds that really made his music distinctive. Unfortunately, probably in the name of becoming more popular to the general population, he’s lost some of that distinctiveness in favor of a more typical sound. String Cheese Incident, however, seriously impressed me. Friday night was the first time I had seen them, and they didn’t blow my mind all that much. But both my brother and I thought they played a 100x better show Saturday. It was captivating. They also had some fun stuff going on in the audience- like giant golden balls being tossed around, giant poles in the audience that acrobats proceeded to climb up and then stand on while they swayed above the crowd. Porter Robinson was also pretty phenomenal. Everyone who I talked to about that set either loved it or hated it. It wasn’t the typical driving beats expected by a fairly late night performer, but it was a much more experimental performance. The performance had a video that accompanied it, and after a few minutes it became clear that he music was designed as a sort of sound-story. Once I switched my perspective to experiencing it as a sound experience instead, it was incredibly cool. I would really like to see more stuff like that- I think that’s an area that electronic music can do a lot, because it can bring in so many sounds and it has so much flexibility because it is controlled by one person most of the time. 

Sunday- it was so sad to get to Sunday. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the festival mindset, and it’s hard to pull yourself out of it. We saw Sunsquabi, Rufus Du Sol, Manic Focus, The Floozies, and Griz. Sunsqubi and The Floozies were a lot alike, except the Floozies were 10x better. They were seriously awesome. Talk about funky dance beats- the Floozies have that under wraps. There was also a pretty awesome light show that accompanied that, which made it all the more worth it. The people who camped next to us were incredibly excited about Griz and thought he was the best show they had ever seen, but I wasn’t terribly impressed. It just didn’t seem all that different than anything else- there was nothing that made it distinctive enough to be fantastic. 

Overall, Electric Forest was a great experience. The forest itself was beautiful- during the day the trees were beautiful and it felt like being in Lord of the Rings or something. Everything was just a little magical. At night, everything was lit up in neon. The entire forest was colored light. It was beautiful, and honestly pretty enchanting. It definitely provided the feeling of being completely removed from society. Allowing myself to by wrapped up like that was exciting – sometimes I think I get really focused on experiencing things for a particular reason, whether it’s in the name of writing, being more adventurous, or keeping up with someone else. But this was just pure experience – I was experiencing purely for the sake of it, without focusing on anything outside of that moment. It was a good reminder to just experience stuff sometimes without analyzing or over-thinking everything that happens. 

Simultaneously, it also reminded me that even though I was having an awesome experience, it’s an experience crafted for me- the customer. Every night, the grounds were completely trashed. Every morning, they were completely cleaned up. Yes, it’s a genuine, organic weekend that was pretty magical. But tickets also cost a ton of money, and it’s something that makes me a consumer of more than just the music -it’s the consumption of the whole experience.  

Alright, I’ll stop rambling. Electric forest gets a 7/10 from me. Here are a couple pictures from the weekend. 

the little white thing up in the air is the acrobat up on the pole in the crowd

the forest at night

Southern Utah & Boulder

I haven’t given an update in a few days because I’ve been pretty much going nonstop. It’s been a pretty amazing few days.

So, the last time I posted I was still in Salt Lake City. The next day, June 5th I believe, I set off for Canyonlands national park. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but it was incredibly beautiful. I did several small hikes, all of which were incredible. I was in the northern most district of Canyonlands, Island in the Sky.



Upheaval Dome.



Initially I had planned to do some more intensive hiking in the national parks, but after the hard hike I did Saturday I just wasn’t up for too much more than a couple 1-2 mile hikes. After spending the majority of the day running around Canyonlands, I decided to drive about 15 minutes up to Arches National Park. Although Canyonlands was beautiful, I actually thought Arches was considerably cooler.


Unfortunately, after about 2 hours of walking around arches, I started getting a really bad headache and feeling really nauseous. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I decided to head out as I still had to find a place to sleep for that night. It got even worse in the car, and after a few minutes I realized I might be dehydrated and too hot, give that it was 97 degrees and I don’t handle heat well. After a lot of air conditioning and water, I started to feel better. It definitely made me more aware of how easy it is to get dehydrated and too hot out in the desert.

June 6th, I headed to Boulder , CO. I took a meandering route because I wanted to look around Aspen and drive Independence Pass. The Rocky Mountains were so beautiful. I got up to 12,000+ feet, well above the tree line. Up there, there was still 3+ feet of snow, which was awesome. I made the very poor decision to try and climb up part of a mountain for a better view…in three feet of snow…in Birkenstocks. Not my brightest moment. I ended up with very cold feet.



On top of independence pass.

I arrived in Boulder in the early evening. I stayed with one of my friends from childhood, Grace. We were best friends when we were younger, but we haven’t seen each other in years. I was nervous, just because it has been so long, but it ended up working out wonderfully. We have always been really goofy when we get together, and this was no different. There were many laugh until you cry moments, lots of catching up on life, and reminiscing on the weird stuff we did as kids. It was a lot of fun.

June 7th, we spent some time wandering around downtown Boulder, having breakfast at an adorable little Cajun-influenced breakfast spot called Lucile’s, and then going on  a hike. The hike we did was about 5 miles long, up in the flat iron mountains surrounding Boulder. The wild flowers were out in full force, and it was a beautiful walk. Plus, even though I didn’t get any pictures of them, we saw two bears! It’s been a while since I’ve seen a bear, so that was pretty exciting. 


Today is my last full day in Colorado. I’ll be staying in Denver tonight, and then heading North from here tomorrow. It’s starting to feel like I don’t have a ton of this trip left, which is very sad. Trying to focus on continuing to explore instead of jumping too fast into the future.





Nobody ever wants to head back east

And neither do I. I know this trip is about movement, about change and new experiences. But I really have loved the first half of this trip, which included this time on the west coast. Leaving San Francisco tomorrow feels like a bit of a turning point in the trip, San Fran has been incredible, but sadly today was my last full day here. Luckily I managed to pack a bunch of good things into it.

This morning, I met up with Ryant and Eli, the two friends I made earlier in the trip. Sadly, we met up for lunch/some exploration as a way to say goodbye. Although I met them barely a week and a half ago, I never would have guessed how much we would all bond. Wandering San Francisco, hours spent watching the sun set over the ocean at Big Sur, fighting the waves in San Diego, nude beaching and karaoke in Austin, a music festival in NOLA- alright, I’m making it a little cheesy, but really – I really was sad to say goodbye to them today. They are both incredible people, and I feel like I learned so much and had so much fun with them during our travels together.  Saying goodbye to them is part of the reason that this feels like a bit of a turning point for the trip. It feels like we all reached sort of this end where normal people stop, and then I’m the one that’s pushing on.  I’m trying to focus on the ways in which that is exciting – the adventure is only half over.

anyway, walking around SF with them was a nice way to start the day. On their way out of town, they dropped me off in the Mission to do some cruising around that area. My Uncle picked me up from there, and we decided to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which was incredibly cool. It has just been redone and expanded in the past few years, and then it opened again last month. The building itself was very cool, and the art was phenomenal. Really an awesome collection of contemporary art.

This evening I went to an excellent sushi place for my last meal in the city. Sushi is one of my great loves in life, and I was not disappointed.  San Francisco has treated me well.


Posing with an Alexander Calder sculpture at the SF MOMA


Ugh these views could never get old


Wandering the Castro

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Eli and I waiting for lunch. Really going to miss this dude and his squinty smile.


The past 5 days or so have been just magical. I have always loved California, but this has definitely cemented it for me. Being near the ocean just immediately puts me more at ease. Life seems to operate on a different schedule – a slower, more deliberate one. One that I really enjoy. I’m attracted to both ends of the spectrum: I love the bustle of New York City, the feeling of always moving, the energy that comes from the constant friction of bodies against the earth. But I also love the way beach communities move. There’s no rush. The ocean will be there at 11 am, at 2 pm, and so on. While there are a lot of outdoor activities and stuff, there doesn’t seem to be the same sense of always moving toward another place. people spend more time just being.

I spent three nights in San Diego. I visited Balboa Park, got sunburned at the beach, wandered around the beach community La Jolla, and did some hiking at Torrey Pines. The friends I met in NOLA and then hung out with in Austin (Eli and Ryant) ended up in San Diego as well, so we fought the waves and the freezing pacific and had a wonderfully exhausting beach day.

leaving San Diego, Eli and Ryant and I decided to caravan up the coast and do some camping in big sur. I had heard a great deal about big sur, but it managed to exceed my expectations none the less. We snuck around on some private property in the name of finding views and climbed out onto some cliffs to watch the sunset. I don’t know that I have ever felt so purely happy, so at peace as I did sitting out there on those cliffs, watching the sunset in silence with two people I’ve hardly known a week. It’s strange how travel does that. We ended up camping a couple miles off of highway 1, overlooking pine-covered mountains. I couldn’t have asked for is better experience.

Yesterday, I got into San Francisco. I’m a little bit obsessed with this city. I love it’s unique architecture, almost painfully hip neighborhoods, and perfect coffee shop/bakeries. I’m excited to spend the next few nights here.


Balboa Park, San Diego


Climbing for the ocean views at Torrey Pines.


Eli looking majestic at the beginning of the sunset.


Big Sur


Big Sur.


Making breakfast after waking up in Big Sur.


Waking up to this view was incredible.


SF architecture never ceases to amaze me.