Summer Bucket List

Now that we are back from our vacation and life has gone pretty much back to normal, I'm realizing that the summer is already half over. Once we hit July 4th, I'll blink and it will be Christmas. I want Marin to be able to experience all of the fun things that the outside world has to offer. It is good for us to get out and do fun things. We have a huge backyard that needs to be played in far more often. Some of these are for me, some these are for Marin.

Our Summer Bucket List

2. Buy some plants and try to not kill them.
3. Paint some walls.
4. Go to the Drive-In.
5. Evening walks to the park.
6. Farmer's Market Trip.
9. Create a nice outdoor space & use it.
10. Trip to Estes.
11. Draw with sidewalk chalk.
12. Go swimming. 
13. Have a picnic.
14. Eat outside on the back porch.
16. Make a 30 Things Before 30 List and work on completing this list. 
17. Complete a Whole30. 

The Great Road Trip | Days 7 & 8

The last two days of our trip were pretty predictable. We were driving and driving......and driving. Overall, from our little home to Portland, it takes about 20 hours to get there or back. I've only driven it straight through a few times in my life and I'm fine with not trying to accomplish that feat yet again. I'm getting to old for stuff like that. All nighters and driving in the dark? No thanks. My eyes just can't handle that like they used to. (I sound old...)

Saturday morning we packed up our bags and hit the road. Our half way goal is always Twin Falls, ID. Saturday was like most days on the road except for one little thing.....It was our 6 year wedding anniversary. 6 years. I found it pretty fitting to be out on the open road the day we celebrate 6 years of marriage together. There's just something about being in a car together, just driving. You can read about our past anniversaries here, here, here. Looks like I failed to blog about it for a few of years.

These past 6 years have been incredible. I am very blessed to have a wonderful marriage. We own our home. We get to do life as parents and raise Marin. We are able to provide for each other and support one another. I cannot imagine waking up every morning and not living life with Ryan.

On our trip, we spoke of what we want the next year to look like. I am very goal-oriented, so conversations like that always get my brain going. We talked about when we would want to start trying to have another child. We talked about jobs. We talked about playing music again and how much we miss it. We talked about health. I want to be able to do life with this amazing man for a very long time.

Over the past few years, we have celebrated our anniversary with pie. It seemed only fitting to find the local Shari's and partake in a tradition while we were on the road. I had the Sour Cream Lemon pie and Ryan has the Smores pie. Add a cup of coffee and I'm set.

The rest of the trip consisted of driving, driving, and driving. We stopped at many questionable gas stations. We ate too much junk. I totally nerded out and started reading the Outlander series. I know...I know....It was very good to pull into our driveway and finally arrive home. Picking up Marin from the Grandparent's house was something we had been looking forward to all week. Marin is making sure that we don't go anywhere for a while. Next time, she's coming with us.

It is good to be back and to slowly get back into the swing of things. I need vacations like this. It helps me focus on all of the other areas of my life. Next vacation though...I want a lot less driving and a lot more beach.

The Great Road Trip | Day 5 & 6

Clearly, I am behind on my posting considering I am sitting in my living room with Geoff the cat next to me. But, I want to document our trip. The last few days were a total whirl of goodness and I don't want to forget any of it. 

After a day spent in Seaside, OR on Day 3, we hit the road for Longview, WA. Longview will always hold a dear place in my heart. I moved out there, blindly, in 2005. Back then, I was in a pretty awesome band that was heading to the northwest to record a record that pretty much no one has every heard. After we tracked our songs, I stayed in Washington. The years I spent in Longview were life-shaping. Heartbreaking. I learned more lessons than I care to count but I truly don't regret a single moment spent in the beautiful northwest. I came away from that season in my life with friendships that I still have today. So much of me wishes we all lived closer together and could just go hang out at the coffee shop all day like we used to. It was like our very own version of Cheers. We had some good times. I made some pretty big mistakes. Overall though, I am who I am 
because of this little town in the Pacific Northwest. 

Ryan and I had been wanting to be spontaneous somehow on this trip. I am calculated. I am boring most of the time and prepared for whatever comes our way. We decided that if it all fell into place, we would get tattoos done by Scott Spears at Unruly Tattoo. Eight years ago, Scott gave me my first tattoo and 3 more after that. He's a down to earth kind of guy and a great tattoo artist. All of my work from him has held up better than a few of my others. 

I didn't think it was going to happen due to scheduling, but we received a call while in Seaside that he had some availability and we decided to go for it. This was Ryan's first tattoo and my 8th. (Sorry parents....) I wanted to get something for Marin. Her name means, "Little Queen of the Sea." An anchor was fitting. It was a great experience all around and I'm so glad Ryan finally got to experience it. Getting tattoo is a pretty crazy experience in itself. 

Later that evening, we went out to our very favorite pizza place Bruno's and ended the night with some frozen yogurt with friends. I am so thankful that I was able to see everyone on this trip. My heart is full. 


The next morning, we woke up and got ready. We drove up the hill I lived on for my first few years in Longview to the Hopkin's house. They took me in when I didn't know anyone, housed and fed me for 2 years. They are an amazing couple and I count myself very blessed to have journeyed through life with them. They live in a home that overlooks the town and the view is still as amazing as I remember it. We talked about life, prayed, ate great food. I always walk away from their home feeling encouraged. 

The afternoon was set aside for my for an activity that is good for my soul: recording music. It has been a long time, a few years actually, since I have found myself in a studio recording my own material. Life has gotten in the way. We had a baby. Everything changes after that and so does your schedule. Years back, Stephen recorded my first solo record. Now, he has a studio in his home and still records a ton of people. Our friend, Josh, also joined in on the recording and totally rocked the guitar and bass. 

I felt so alive. I love listening to a song come together, layer after layer. You write a song and for so long it sits in your brain, soaking. You hear parts here and there but until someone else come along and solidifies a line or instrument, everything is still just an interpretation. I've had a few songs that have been unrecorded for the past few years. We tracked two of them. You can listen to them below...

We went to bed after day 5 and my heart and soul felt like they could burst. Music wakes me up. I am so thankful for the friendship that I still have in Longview, even through all of these years. I wish we could just hang out and record music all day, everyday. 

The Great Road Trip | Day 3 & 4

The past two days have been a good blur. Full of friends, super great food, and scenic drives to the coast. Vacation is being very good to us and now we are half way through our trip. As I write this, we are sitting in our hotel room in Seaside, OR. The ocean is right outside our balcony. This is the life. This will probably be a long winded post, so prepare yourselves. 

Day 3 was our full day in the wonderful city of Portland. Aside from the weather being pretty hot, we have enjoyed ourselves. After our pretty decent breakfast at our hotel, we hopped in our car and drove downtown again. The one place we will always stop at while in Portland is Powell's Bookstore. It's a must. It's like a rite of passage when you come to the City of Roses. You have no excuse not to go to this book haven. We bought far too many books and wandered through the isles for a good chunk of time. 

Next, we perused Buffalo Exchange and didn't find a single, awesome piece of clothing. That's a first. For pretty much every thrift store we've gone to on this trip, we have left empty handed. Our wallets are ok with that I guess. 

After the thrift shop, we found the Food Truck Mecca of Portland. After debating about which two trucks to choose from, we decided on some excellent eats and were not disappointed. The first place we went was the Grilled Cheese Grill where we split The Cheesus (two grilled cheese sandwiches as buns with a hamburger and fixin's inside.) Oh my. Our second choice was The Bento Box where we had grilled chicken, brown rice, veggies, and lots of delicious sauces all tossed into a glorious box. We were told that we could go sit and eat at a park a few blocks away. It was wonderful. I'm going to have to detox my diet when I get home. So much goodness. 

We visited a dear friend at work only a block away and got coffee in Pioneer Square. I walked down memory lane so much on Day Three. 

Later that evening, we met many of our wonderful friends at no other place than The Montage. Any place that has amazing mac n' cheese is a place we will go. If you have leftovers, which you usually try to have leftovers, they mold your leftovers into foil sculptures of awesomeness. I loved sharing a meal with people I love and miss so dearly. The night ended with drinks at a pretty awesome dive bar. Good drinks and good conversation. I love this city. I love the people that I call my friends even after all of these years of not living in the northwest. 


Day Four started with checking out of our Portland hotel and heading to the coast, Seaside, OR. The drive included everything I love about the northwest: cooler weather, lots of trees, and lots of green. We ate delicious sandwiches once we made it to Seaside. Since we weren't able to check into our hotel room until 4pm, we decided to head to Astoria, OR. 

In Astoria, we split a beer flight at Rogue on the Pier. We went to a few more thrift stores and found nothing. We walked around. We drove back to Seaside, OR and walked on the beach, getting our toes sandy and the bottom of our pants soggy. Later we had delicious gelato before finally checking in. (Do you notice a pattern...we eat. We eat a lot of great things.) 

Our room is amazing. We are right on the beach. We have a balcony and a jacuzzi tub. We are planing on ordering in this evening and relaxing since the last few days have been such a whirlwind of craziness and wonderful friends. I can't wait to take a relaxing bath later and look at the ocean. 

We are half way through our trip and I feel the insatiable need to soak it all in. We will be back to reality before we know it. I can't wait to see Marin. I can't wait to take her on a trip like this some day. 

Day 3 & 4. 

The Great Road Trip | Day 1 & 2

Travel always does something within me. I feel like the second we pack up the car and hit the road, all of the cobwebs of my mind, body, and soul suddenly shake loose and I can see again. I can easily get caught up in the everyday, the routine. Don't get me wrong, our everyday is pretty darn awesome. I get to wake up everyday next to a man I love, care for a child that has changed me in ways I never knew were possible, work in a job that I can actually say that I adore. Life is good. But, sometimes, I need a change of scenery. 

I've been anticipating this trip for a while now. The northwest will always hold a piece of my heart from college. In so many ways, I was made in the PNW. I found love, lost it. I found creativity. I found friendship. I found a love for the landscape. the weather, and the people. I love this city with everything within me. It makes me feel alive. It wakes me up. 

We started our trip on Sunday. I worked until 10:30, rushed home, picked up the house (because I like coming home to a clean home...), said goodbye to the kid, and we hit the road. The thing that has pulled at my heartstrings so much in the past few days is the fact that we didn't bring Marin with us. We know that she isn't the best car companion and 20 hours in a car with a 16 month old wasn't the best plan. She is with Grandma and Grandpa Hollen and I know she is having a blast. I feel like I have a missing limb. Next time, kid. Next time, you will come with us. For now, FaceTime will have to suffice. 

We have driven a lot in the past two days. The last time we made this drive, it had either been fall or winter. So driving over passes in the summer has been a nice change of pace. We had some pretty decent gas station coffee along the way. We stayed in Twin Falls the first night and the sunset coming into town was breathtakingly orange and seemed to carry on forever. 

We have eaten breakfast at hole in the wall diners. We have listened to good music and podcasts. I have been reading an excellent book. We have replaced a burnt out blinker bulb in the car. We can't believe how hot it is out in the PNW right now. 90 degrees or more. Seriously???

Yesterday, we made it to our hotel, sweaty and road weary. We freshened up and headed downtown. One beer, one shot, and a burger with peanut butter on it, and I was content. We both agree that that was probably one of the top 3 burgers we've ever eaten in our lives. I love this place. 

 But alas, we have arrived in the city that I love. We have all of today to spend exploring and then this evening we are meeting a bunch of friends for dinner at one of my very favorite places. 

I love vacation. I needed this vacation. 

I miss our kid.