Monday, May 18, 2015

mystery prize monday : exploring


follow along on Instagram : @melinadream
What a treat it is to be out of school. Forever. 

In the past week I've made it my mission to win back the good favor of my dog, who suffered under the brutal dictatorship of Organic Chemistry and Microbiology. I did the best I could during the past year and half, but my dog is not pleased nor satisfied with shuffling around the block or tracing the same figure 8 through the park each afternoon. She needs a more adventurous lifestyle and so do I.
The morose professor awarded me with a 105 in his class, which felt lucky, if a bit arbitrary. He never even collected our lab manuals, meaning I could have slept in every Friday instead of enduring his meltdowns and his admonishments, but so it goes. I don't know where that grade came from and I won't be asking any time soon. The 95 I made in O Chem was fair and hard earned; may I never live to have to repeat that class. 

Ever since then I've been free. Free to work, take greater care with my weekly articles, search (sometimes with a great deal of optimism, sometimes with a spinning sense of dread when I consider the looming financial difficulties) for more writing, free to pull open the windows and clean the house while the radio plays in the background (although I haven't gotten around to that yet), or explore the mountains for whole days at time without having to come home. Which is what I've mostly been up to. 

Here's a photo book of our first summer explorations. (And here is a tutorial I wrote about taking photos in Western Carolina, including some of my favorite photogenic destinations & filters.) 

Hometeam and I kicked things off by climbing the Art Loeb Spur trail to Black Balsam Knob. A wicked afternoon thunder storm rolled in as soon as we reached the summit. 
On Saturday, David and I went up to swim at Skinny Dip Falls. If you want to visit Asheville this summer, here's my recent article about Five Top Swimming Holes in the area. It will tell you how to get there and everything you need to know. 
When my friends and I ride at Bent Creek, we have time now to try the mysterious connector trails and stay late into the evening. In town, all these new places have surfaced while we weren't looking. 

I have two more weeks in the Blue Ridge. Dave is going to Costa Rica with his school and the minute he gets back, we are packing up the bikes and the boats (and the dog) and heading to New England for the rest of the summer. There, between the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the shivering Atlantic up in Acadia, Maine, and all the secret swimming holes I grew up with-  and somewhere in there getting a husband out of the deal- the adventures are going to go off. 

(And all with close to no money. We may be getting very creative with the camp stove.)

follow along on instagram @melinadream
For Mystery Prize Monday, leave a comment telling us what or where you're exploring this summer. Exploring can really mean anything- any realm, any place, any thing, inside or outside. As always, I'll choose randomly from the comments and someone will have a surprise in their mailbox within the week. I chose this prize a few weeks back at a local craft fair; it's delicate and there's a bird involved. I almost kept it for myself, except for that I destroy delicate things and you deserve it more.

I've missed you all the in the past few months. I'm excited to see what you've been getting into. 


48 comments:

Suzie said...

So glad school is finished for you, sounds like a fabulous summer planned,,never mind the wedding in the middle! Can't wait to hear/see all about it.

This summer is all about beaches and mountains for me. Off to the Isle of Man, a little island between England and Ireland to play on beaches, look for crabs in the rock pools and search out any sea glass (inspired by you) then it's off to the French Alps. My oldest son (6) is desperate to see mint blanc so we're taking there to see the Alos in all their glory. There will be camping, swimming in alpine lakes. BBQ's and as much cycling as my boys can do. I can't wait. Summer holidays in the UK don't start till the end of Jumy so got a while to go yet. Xx

Melina said...

@suzie- My family (the Coogan side) is from the Isle of Man!! Have fun, I'm so jealous!

Ariel said...

I'll be exploring Idaho's mountains on a shoestring - just like we've been doing for the past several years. There's just so much to see! We made it up to a new wilderness area (new to us: The Boulder/White Clouds) last summer, and we're itching to get back there as soon as the snow melts out of the high country.

This will (probably) be our last child-free summer (assuming all goes as planned), so we need to jump in those creeks, hike to those peaks, and pack in some adventures (not that you can't do that with kids - and we fully intend to! - but it will change a few things, of course).

Here's to big adventures!

MsSwirlyGirl said...

I am in Charlotte and because I'm taking 3 crazy classes this summer, kinda stuck here. I will be exploring Biological Anthropology, GIScience, and Practical Reasoning. I'm excited though - 10 credits closer to my dream of being a therapist!!

Kelsey Imondi said...

So excited for your adventurous summer ahead!
My husband and I, and our two dogs, are looking forward to the new adventure of traveling and hiking with a newborn. Our daughter is due July 8th and we have a trip planned to central Oregon at the end of July then Montana and Glacier National Park in early August. Should be fun!

Lisa said...

The adventures you have planned sound lovely! My whole life is an exploration at this point - I've just moved up to Boston and started a new job. This summer I'll be exploring the city and attempting to become more of a native. It's been 13 years since I've lived in New England and I couldn't be more thrilled to be back.

Amber Jackson said...

I will be exploring mountains! The type that require ropes and big mountaineering boots, and ice axes. After 2 years with a mountain guide boyfriend, my inner boulderer has made room for the idea of possibly allowing other types of climbing to be part of my adventures.

Melina said...

Amber. I love you and I'm so proud of you and Pllleeeease be careful!

Virginia Prescott said...

I am so excited for this summer! We are starting it off by camping/climbing for a week at City of Rocks with a 4 year old and a 10 month old. It should be...interesting? Then we are going to spend a few days in July exploring Lake Chelan and backpacking (with the same kiddos) in the Enchantments (my step-dad won the lotto!). I am both nervous and thrilled to attempt to manage parenthood in the wild, it will be it's own adventure.

Olive Juice said...

My husband, baby, dog and I are going on our first family summer vacation! We're going up to North Georoga (Young Harris) to explore the trails, surrounding towns and the wineries :) we have a cabin up there and the baby has never seen it - I can't wait!

Emily Hackethorn said...

This summer, we are headed back to Many Glacier, where I've lived for 10 summers! There are still places to explore there, but I'm also looking forward to exploring a music show I will be coordinating called the Hootenanny where employees play together to entertain the guests. We've been doing it volunteer-style for years, but this is the first summer where it's been given a little bit more precedence since it is the Hotel's centennial summer! Happy exploring and wedding summer to you!

Jamie said...

I am exploring the never-ending world of nursing school! From Med/Surg and mental health clinicals where I will ignore the fact that the sun is shining outside and remember why I chose the accelerated pathway. There's always next summer, right!?

Jill said...

I love this post for so many reasons! I am also done with school forever! Graduated with my masters yesterday, holy hallelujah. The freedom is astonishing. Exploring is exactly what I plan to do this summer. I want to explore exactly what I want to do with my life, explore those opportunities that I've always pushed to the back burner. I'm exploring my green thumb, starting a garden. Exploring new books, new worlds in the pages. And exploring the real world, with fun weekend trips planned and my Ireland graduation trip coming in September. The world is a magical, magical place and I plan on embracing it. Can't wait to read about your adventures, Melina!

Danielle said...

This will (hopefully! fingers crossed!) be my last selfish summer, as I'm hoping kids come next year. The first part of my summer will be spent exploring my local favorite places on the north shore of MN. Then, I get to spend 17 days exploring the Grand Canyon with some of the greatest friends one could ever hope for. I'm so excited that I can hardly sit still just typing this.

Lisa said...

I'm excited because we are going to explore Mt. Rushmore this summer - I've never been there, and now I get to experience with the kids! Double score! :-)

Christal said...

Not done with school, but finished the Associates degree. 9 more classes for the bachelors. So unfortunately, I will be taking 2 classes this summer (and I'm very glad they're not organic chemistry or microbiology). I will be exploring accounting and ethics until 7/30 when I escape to Alaska for a wedding.

Amanda Towne said...

This summer, I'm continuing to explore parenting young adults. :) This stage in between completely dependent and completely independent is brutal. My son is my first homeschool graduate (next week) and his two sisters are right behind him. I may not get to go anywhere other than shuttling teens back and forth, but I'm trying to make it work!

Stephanie Abdon said...

I won something recently, so I don't necessarily need to be entered. But...I am moving to New Mexico and super excited :)

Looking forward to reading about your adventures!!

Christi said...

I just found you today on IG and look forward to checking out your blog. Excited to see you're in Western NC - we have a place on a creek in Otto! We will be exploring there this summer, along with St. Augustine, Apalachicola, and state parks all throughout GA.

Tage said...

I'm exploring slowing down. After nearly 3 years of infertility, our "let's give it one last shot" treatment worked and Ive slowly become acquainted with what it means to be more sick, more exhausted, and more overjoyed than I ever thought possible. I'm a mile-a-minute sort, days filled with art, friends, and outdoors but this babe has different ideas about how life should be right now. I've had to give myself permission to let go, sit down, and just enjoy the neverending need to nap.

Amanda said...

I would love to hang out with you when you come to New England! For now, I'm planning on spending a great deal of time in many of this region's natural splendor... Starting with Acadia in June! Enjoy your accomplishments and the freedom of summer.

SmithShack71 said...

I love these photos. Was that water cold as hell?

The other day my son and I took the hike to find the lake behind the house. It was really beautiful for so many reasons. He found a cracked bottle in the shape of a peace sign. I took a picture of it, but I feel sick that I didn't bring it back out with us. WHY DIDN'T I BRING IT BACK OUT? So... We'll just have to do it again, find that bottle, and bring it home.

My brother comes home next month. We're searching for rock quarries around the lake to jump from.

If you're interested, here's a link to the hike with my boy in Western KY. I hope it's clickable. ?

Enjoy your LIFE! Cheers to everything 105% good!

-Angie
http://smithshack71.blogspot.com/2015/05/east-or-west-hike-with-my-boy.html

Karen Travels said...

Loved the article about photographing Western NC!!

Coincidentally I will be going to Maine this summer.

And coincidentally, I hope to bring my son on his first camping trip near Asheville, and was already planning a swim trip to skinny dip falls - fingers crossed. Not sure if he is too young.

Lots of coincidences in this post, lady.

Elizabeth said...

I want to go to all of the swimming holes! Group camping trip going to Iron Creek Campground in WA...looks amazing.

Kirsten Gardner said...

This summer I will be working a lot and exploring the idea of outdoor education and guiding as a career. That is, will doing what I love (alpine climbing) as a job ruin the experience for me or enhance it? I'm not sure. In free time I hope to venture to the Bugaboos and explore some more Canadian granite which has been nothing but stellar so far! Glad you are done with school and back on your path. xoxo

Jen from MN said...

Love love love the pictures but why the tinged blurred lines like in a dream state? I would love, even more, just a couple that are crisp and clear!

Melina said...

@Jen from MN the only filter I used in these photos was one from Pictapgo, I think it's called Mason. It's a great one to use for water because it deepens the green. But other than that, the tinged/blur lines are not an editing effect. That's actually what it looks like- fast moving clear water and shifting sunlight. (And one where I was jumping and it was blurry.)

It was hard (actually, impossible for me, I never got it) to get a shot without all the background "noise". I love these pictures but I have been craving some shots with a lot of white space/simplicty to counteract the effects of this batch.

Rachel Zacher said...

This summer I will be exploring Vail, Colorado. A wonderful job has brought me here and now it is time to adventure! Prior to moving here I really only saw this place as a fancy vacation destination for fancier people than me. While this still might be true I know there is a lot to love. I will see music, ride my bike, climb mountains, and camp as much as I can.

khamzi said...

I have saved for two years to explore Kauai and hawaii with my husband, baby and three year old for the month of June. I'm sooo excited!!

CB said...

This Summer we will be exploring both coasts of the US, from San Fran to Mt. Rainier, then off to upper NY state, then to the a small coastal town in MA, and to top it off a few days in NYC. Traveling from Norway we hope to see a little of everything, and remember to breathe once we get on the plane.
I am amazed at what everyone else has planned, I hope to fill my summer nights with marshmallows, hand-holding and stargazing.
Smiles to all

Suzie said...

@Melina What a small world! My brother lives just outside Douglas. It's such a lovely place.

Aimee said...

Winter starting here now, so our exploring will be ski related - my 4yr old is anxious to get back out on the white stuff and I'm planning on switching from boarding to skiing .... which will be a 'adventure' of sorts.
New Caledonia is our winter sun break which will be a beach, backpacking, sailing and hiking adventure - with the aforementioned 4yr old in tow.
I adore this sort of thing with a kid, every single little thing becomes an adventure.

Lori Delgado said...

I am glad you updated again so soon! I love hearing about adventures, and am inspired to try some of my own.

This summer I will explore camping with my daughter on my own. I will explore more through day hikes and day trips to our local mountains, including short hikes and wanders along some of the PCT. What scares me most, is that I'll be exploring this with my daughter alone. My husband got a new job traveling, and will be away for much of the summer. So, we'll be exploring our new parenting/spousing/friending arrangement. I'm choosing to be excited, not sad.

marinj said...

So my "exploring" will be different than I would like this year. After 8.5 years at my job, we have sold and I will be going through the process of closing down the business and starting a new job. That's the type of exploring that I'm not too fond of but I will make the best of it. However, I do plan to explore nature locally here in Mississippi and try out new rivers/lakes to go kayaking in on the weekends, I have to keep my sanity somehow. :)

meg@ourwaytoeat.com said...

I am jealous of your freedom. I would take no money in exchange for that sort of summer. My adventure lately has been a drastic change to my eating habits. I once would have scoffed at eating only vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans (with the occasional pale ale mixed in). But I am living just fine with a temporary break from grain, oil, dairy and general over indulgence in fat and carbs, and I'm getting lighter too. It is an adventure I plan to continue for as long as it takes until I look in the mirror and see the real me.

Mom Starting From Scratch said...

Our family is a glutton for epic road trips. We've taken a 5 week road trip all the way from BC to PEI and back through the states, and think nothing of an 18 hour drive from Grandma's house in one day. This summer we are heading NORTH. Hubby & and our 3 daughters in a minivan, pulling our rickety tent trailer all the way through British Columbia, across the Yukon and into Alaska. We'll be wearing lots of bug spray and I'm trying not think about the grizzly bears.

PV said...

This summer my family will be exploring Universities. My son is entering his Junior year in High School, so now it's time to start thinking about his future. We are headed to Boston and will stop by BC, MIT, and Harvard. Hopefully, there will be a bit of time to relax at Cape Cod.

We'll also be going to Canada and spending a week in the Bruce Peninsula rock climbing, snorkeling, hiking and biking.

So looking forward to this busy summer.

Ashka Mehta said...

I've been following your blog for ages, but rarely comment (this may even be my first time commenting-the rest of the times, I might have typed something out and felt silly hitting the publish button). Anyway, when I first started reading your blog I thought your climbing life was SO cool. It made me really want to try it, but I never acted on it. Recently a friend of mine joined a climbing gym and I went with him as a guest. LOVED IT and joined the gym right away. Just want to say thanks! Thanks for the amazing pictures and depictions of the climbing world-it's been just as fabulous for me as you've described it. And I'm still only climbing indoors-can't wait to get good enough to go outside!

So back to your post-I'm moving from NJ and exploring a new city this summer! Baltimore, Maryland for grad school! Going back to school after three years. At this point I'm convinced that it'll be different this time-no more procrastinating, no more depending on looming deadlines to make me feel motivated to do work. I'm going for a subject I'm super interested in so that means I should LOVE to do the assignments. Right? Hopefully. Next step is to find a good climbing gym in that area to serve as a nice distraction!

Ashka Mehta said...
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Ashka Mehta said...
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Monique said...

We are exploring locally this year and hope to hit a bunch of the parks and areas around us that we never get to. Saving money this summer so no big trips. People have some really wonderful plans on here this summer.

Anonymous said...

I'm moving to Vancouver, BC so I'll be exploring every single day. Excited, yet nervous. Hopefully my dog is as brave as Hometeam, especially since I love to hike.

Jaime said...

My dad just restored an old boat. So, we'll be exploring the lakes of North Georgia this summer!

I also plan on trying to find a new job, which will certainly take me out of my comfort zone. Who knows maybe we'll move to a new city. I'm ready for a change.

Anonymous said...

Melina. I love all of your pictures, but the last one kills me. If Hometeam had any trouble swimming it looks like everyone in the photo would jump in to save her. And David looks like a pretty good doggie daddy.

Rachel said...

This is the summer of Grand Adventures as I finished my PhD and my husband sold his business. We're jetting out to Iceland before landing in the Alps for a backpacking extravaganza. We'll bounce around Switzerland, Germany, France, and Italy before settling in the Czech Republic for a few weeks.

As I always do, I adored your writing, but want to thank you for posting links to your other articles as well. I am decidedly not a photographer, but I want to capture our wanderings as best as I can. So, the advice about photo apps and such was especially useful.

Erin Macauley said...

My summer adventuring began the first week of May with a ski trip to Colorado's A-Basin; followed by a work trip to the sleepy Wilmington, MA area; concluded by Mother Day's weekend in your pretty neck of the woods. (How was Durham, by the way? Monuts looked fantastic.)

This weekend we go south to introduce some friends to Kure Beach, Britts Doughnuts, and "Low Tide." And in a month...two days of SCUBA diving in Puerto Rico!

In other words....nothing much.

Safe travels north! And if you drop off for awhile in the pre-wedding shenangins, have a lovely time. I know you will.

Cheers, XO

Sian said...

I'm excited you decided to quit school, I feel like good things are coming your way especially because you made this decision that felt right for you xxx

manwithvanbrentcross said...

Wonderful pictures! I'm moving to Prague this summer and I hope to get a great time as you did! Graduating from school really opens up a lot of closed doors and I can't wait to explore all of them! Greetings!