Lover of nature, color, art, life, adventure. Choosing to find beauty. I hope you can find inspiration and joy while you're here.


Visiting the Badlands

As part of our getaway to South Dakota, we also spent a goodly amount of time in the Badlands National Park. Guys, I love our national parks so much! They're amazing, in case you didn't already know. The Badlands reminded me a lot of one of my favorite places in the world, the Valley of Fire in Nevada. (You can see one of our past visits on my old blog, here if you'd like.)

The terrain and inhabitants are rugged and will probably outlive the apocalypse. Or, in other words, it's pretty incredible:

It's definitely not the average beauty one expects from nature. I have to say I've been blessed with an affinity for loving relatively ugly things because I think everything deserves a chance to be looked at with eyes of love and wonder. Because my soul is made out of mountains and deserts, I've also been raised to find the beauty when others can find none. However, for all you by-nature ugly haters, I think it's a skill that can be learned, for sure, so don't worry.

Have you ever been? Do you usually find beauty in harsh or so-called ugly things?

And if you want to see some additional wonders South Dakota has to offer, you can see some previous excursion posts on the blog here, here, here, and here.


Autumn River

There were so many great things about our trip to South Dakota (see here, here, here, and here if you haven't already), but it might be time to break it up with a fresh little fall shoot:

Our family took a little excursion up the canyon to capture some fall goodness and revel in the lingering summer warmth while it lasts. We ended up spending most of our time by the river, feeding it rocks and sticks, because according to our 3-year-old, it was really hungry. Makes sense. It does a lot of running. Autumn is pretty much our favorite, and this year Mama Nature put on quite the show for us! I keep seeing encore after encore, and I couldn't be happier.

What is your favorite season? What is your favorite part of autumn?


Hiking Cathedral Spires

Along Needles Highway is what happens to be one of the greatest hikes ever, to a rock formation called Cathedral Spires. The trail treks through the shade of jutting stone turrets and quiet forests. It is a peaceful place that fosters meditation by providing everything from tiny immaculate details to sweeping vistas, and to top it off, the wildlife was simply magical. It will surely steal your breath away and fill your spirit with goodness and freshness.


Please go here if you get the chance! This was surprisingly the pinnacle of our trip (no pun intended), and is one of the most awe-inspiring and uplifting places I've been. I will never forget how it made me feel. That place really does feel sacred. I was just wrapped in this incredibly verdant grace. And lest you worry, the hike isn't that difficult (I bet our 3-year-old would have loved it, and if not, she would have at least survived) and there is so much to see that you could walk three steps and stop to soak in another wonder, then walk three more steps and stop again. So basically, if you take your camera, you won't get winded at all because you'll probably be stopping every other second to take another picture.

Have you been? If so, I'd love to hear what you think! It makes me so excited just reminiscing and I feel like I may need to hike that at least a hundred more times in my little lifetime. It might just be worth the 11-hour drive.

P.S. If you'd like, the previous posts about this trip to South Dakota are here and here.


Needles Highway

Probably our favorite excursion while in the Black Hills was driving along the breathtaking Needles Highway in Custer State Park. (It was so great we had to drive it twice!) We oohed and ahhed over the incredible rock formations...

 breathed in the brisk ponderosa-scented air...

 squeezed through some crazy small one-way tunnels...

drove on winding roads with ridiculously steep dropoffs...

 and just stood forever, soaking in the dizzying and indescribably beautiful views.

Guys. You HAVE to go here if you haven't already! I won't even take no for an answer. Because I can't just open your heart and put this vast, blue, clean experience, I just need you to go see it for yourself. It's the only way. I want you to be able to close your eyes and feel that South Dakota sun on your eyelids. I want you to get a fresh perspective on the Mount Rushmore experience. I want you to feel how big the world is and how small you are compared to the universe and how connected you truly are to the natural world. I want you to see the amazing wildlife and maybe even test out your precision driving skillz, too.

So what do you say? Will you add this to your bucket list?


Crazy Horse Monument

Is it possible to visit Mount Rushmore without also visiting the Crazy Horse Monument? Only if you hate equality, culture, and America's original inhabitants. Since we don't hate any of those things, we of course visited Crazy Horse, too:

I love the pride behind this ongoing sculpture and what this artwork represents. It promises to be incredible. Not surprisingly, my favorite part about visiting this monument was looking at all the Native American artifacts and appreciating the patterns, colors, and cultural perspective. Amazing!

Have you been to the Crazy Horse Monument?


Mount Rushmore, Y'all!

Mount Rushmore may not be the first place you think of when you picture an exciting vacation, but believe you me, it's pretty rad. Guys. We've been wanting to go to Mount Rushmore for about three years now, and we finally made it happen this fall! It was a pretty exciting trip for oh so many reasons: no 3-year-old kicking the back of our seats for the 11-hour drive, a new set of wheels to test out, the chance to drive through all four seasons in less than 12 hours...

...oh yeah, and that huge sculpture the size of a mountain...

...and the wildlife...

...and having my dreamguy all to myself for a whole weekend. Oh yeah.

It's way cool, guys, and I'm not just talking about the 7 inches of snow. It was so good we went back twice to bask in the art and 'merica. I think it helps to be accompanied by a history buff, which, lucky for me, I was.

We were both surprised at how small it looks from a distance, like a little scratch on the top of one hill in a whole line of hills. Have you been to Mt. Rushmore? If so, what were your impressions? If not, would you like to go there?