Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Quetico Provincial Park

In all of my other travels, I haven’t ever felt like I was part of where I was. I found it very humbling, sitting in a canoe in the Canadian wilderness. On the American side, it called the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Canadian side is Quetico Provincial Park. I had been to this area twice before, but each time was just as awe-inspiring as the first. The first time I went I was young and hadn’t ever been on a trip like this before. I was carefree and oblivious. By my third trip, I was more prepared. I had experience; I knew what to do and how to do it.

We flew to Minneapolis/St. Paul and drove to Ely, passing through fields and forests. In Ely we got our canoes and our packs, full with eight days of food. We paddled in lakes so big you couldn’t see from one shore to the other. On days it rained we paddled hard, desperate to hit land and make fire and put on dry socks. On windy days the lakes would get choppy and threaten to tip us over.

On my first trip, the waves would get big and I’d hop up and down in my seat, lifting the canoe over one wave and cutting it through the next until my dad told me to stop. On my third trip, one canoe got anxious and started heading for the rougher waters by the shore, waves rebounding off rocks and rolling back into other waves. I remained in the middle of the lake and headed for calmer waters sitting behind an island. We had the wind at our backs after that and we paddled to the portage. Later, my dad would say that my decision was probably the best in that situation.

We ate oatmeal for breakfast, tearing open the pouch and pouring it directly into our mouths. We drank Kool-Aid the same way. Lunches and dinners were advertised as beef stroganoff or chicken a la king, but could also have been called rice and meat. We would fish on the days we didn’t travel, taking the canoes out to the middle of the lake and hoping to catch some real food. On my first trip, we’d wade out into the lake with salami on fishing line and catch crayfish, careful not to let them pinch us. We put them in a pot as we caught them and boiled them later, pulling apart their red shells for the meat underneath. On my second trip, we found wild blueberries behind our campsite and picked the area clean. We’d scour every campsite for wild blueberries from then on.

We would canoe in lakes that were dammed by beavers, getting out to push our canoe over the logs and into the next section of the lake. We would float through channels standing in our canoes like gondoliers or wading alongside and guiding it around the bends. We swam in water so clear that we could see thirty feet down to the lake floor and we sat in our canoes by cliffs where someone had drawn antelope and moose or traced their hands centuries earlier. We were immersed in nature.

I cannot articulate exactly how Quetico makes me feel, but this quote by John Muir comes pretty close: “Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail.”


Travis is slowly accepting that his writing can be good and rarely turns things in on time. You can read his blog at http://www.travismaybe.tumblr.com and if you ask, he may let you read his tweets at http://www.twitter.com/maybetravis
{Photo by Jay Light}

Friday, May 27, 2011

Photo Friday: Sam Sands

Hello people :) My name is Samantha, and I am so excited to be writing this post!  Photography has always been something that I loved.  I remember when I was in 11th grade, we watched a movie about a National Geographic photographer and his journey through photography.  He talked about looking for opportunities everywhere to take pictures, and I fell in love with photography right then and there.  My dream job would be a photographer for National Geographic (traveling and taking pictures.  Does it get better than that?)  I love the idea of being able to show people how I see the world.  I see things in terms of pictures, always framing things in my mind.  I always want to take something that no one pays attention to, and show it in a way that makes it hard not to stop and look.  There is a silent poetry to to even the hideous things.  
When I got to college, I wanted to take a film photography class, and my parents were nice enough to buy me my first film camera.  I was able to process my own film, and develop my own photos, and I came to love the smell of chemicals on my hands because it meant I was creating something.  I am not a professional by any means, but I do love the art.
These are a few of my pictures taken in my photo classes:

I'd love to have you stop by my blog (samsands.blogspot.com)!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Seattle, WA

The Secret of Seattle
(Subtitle: Why Washingtonians Tell Everybody it Rains All the Time)

I currently live in Texas, because one day I decided to go to graduate school and work with a well-known psychophysiological aggression researcher. Although I love the program I'm in, I am frequently reminded how much I am not a Texan.

Most of the time when people ask me where I'm from (usually after I giggle because somebody says "fixin' to" or "y'all") I say "Seattle." [If I say "Washington," they automatically assume I meant D.C., and I have to politely tell them that I'm from the complete opposite side of the country.] Their response inevitably includes something about how rainy and cloudy Seattle is, and I must have moved to Texas as soon as I could to enjoy the warm weather.

Yeah, that's it.

Really, us Washingtonians lie. We all pretend that it rains significantly more than it actually does so that you all don't decide to move to our favorite place in the world.

If everybody knew, there'd be far too many people moving here. Shh, don't spoil the secret.

(You really should visit, though! May through August are the prettiest months, but it stays temperate almost all year-round.)

Sar is a mid-20s graduate student at Baylor University. She's attempting to earn her PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience. Her hobbies include photography, working out, and drinking Diet Coke (breakfast of champions). Sar also teaches an introductory statistics course, which means her students think she's ridiculous for thinking numbers are cool. Her full name is Sarah but even her good friends forget how it's spelled so she goes by Sar. You can find Sar at love love love is all you need or @lovelovelovesar.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Photo Friday: A World Tour

I'm leaving for China today. 
I can't believe this trip is finally here. 
Well, I don't know when I'll next get to do a real post for you guys, but I hope you enjoy the guest posters while they're here and have a wonderful, wonderful summer.
If you want to email me at any time (including an interest in doing a guest post), I can be reached at:
valorielovely {at} gmail {dot} com

For this week's Photo Friday, I'm posting a photo from every trip I've been on in the last five or so years. 

{Costa Rica}





{The Caribbean}



{Mykonos, Greece}



{Athens, Greece}

{Czech Republic}


{El Salvador}

You can see more of my stuff here.


Fill in the ____ Friday

1.  People always tell me I look like Jennifer Aniston (in the summer, when my hair is blonde -- we have the same coloring, basically) and Kristen Stewart, which basically offends me to my core.

2.  Friends don't let friends go unheard, feel unloved, or buy unflattering clothes.

3.  A sunny day is perfect for relaxing outside with a book, wearing a sundress.

4.  My favorite accessory is my Aggie ring, WHOOP!

5.  If I could afford it I would drop out of school and travel everywhere forever and ever.

6.  The cure for boredom is to turn off the tv and talk to someone. Everyone always has something interesting to say.

7.  I am currently "in like" with flats with everything, red/gold nail polish, and peonies, because they're stinkin' gorgeous.

Head over to Lauren's blog to check out more blanks! :) 

Monday, May 9, 2011

that time when suddenly my life had to be about Grown Up Things


As I'm hurtling faster and faster toward China and graduation and being a Grown Ass Woman, I'm finding my life very full of Grown Up Things.

I'm having to ask myself important questions like -- what the hell am I going to do when I graduate? Where am I going to live? Law school or photography?

I'm having to do things like look into the requirements and recommendations to get jobs in certain fields. I'm having to confront the fact that very very soon, my parents won't be helping me out as much, and I better have a plan for how I'm going to survive once they don't.

I'm having to confront companies/people I work with when they upset me instead of letting my mom handle it. I'm having to promote myself instead of letting my parents brag on me.

To be honest, it's freaking me out a little. By this time next year, I'm supposed to have my shit together? I know I don't have to commit to any career for the rest of my life, but I have to make decisions that will effect the rest of my life? I have to like...be a Grown Up?

I'm pretty sure I thought this time was much further away. And I often have no idea what I want. And even when I have an idea of what I want, I still thinking "well, what if..." and I'm doubting myself all over again.

UMoveFree is a service that helps renters find Bedford, TX apartments I heard about recently during all this Grown Up stuff and was amused by the simple idea behind it: not everything has to be hard -- even tedious and sometimes difficult things like moving. And I guess that's true. Sometimes, I think we even make things harder than they have to be.

We don't have to make it as hard as we do.

So I'm doing it -- I'm doing the research and making the decisions and confronting the people. But I'm also spending a lot of time getting in touch with myself. I'm journaling a lot. I'm accepting my passions. It's terrifying, but I'm allowing myself to be someone that my friends and family wouldn't necessarily accept because it's not them but it is me

I'm trying not to make this harder than it has to be. I'm trying to find the balance between going with the flow and living with intention. I think that's a Grown Up Thing too. And I think that, like all the other Grown Up Things, that I can do it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Photo Friday: Allison Blonder

My good friend Allison let me borrow her for a few hours on a [very humid] San Antonio morning to practice taking photos with a subject other than myself or an object. These haven't been fully edited because I just haven't had the time (finals!) but I like these the way they've come out so far.
What do you think? 

Thanks again, Allison! :)