{SB2K16} GULF SHORES: DAY ONE

Dear Reader,

I’ve never been on a “rowdy” Spring Break trip before, so when my friend came to me and said I could go to Gulf Shores with him and some guys for $200 (which clearly beats the alternative of going back to the middle of nowhere for a week), I happily jumped on board.

So that’s how I ended up sharing a condo with three complete strangers, one acquaintance, two good friends, and a guy I haven’t even met yet (who is coming tomorrow).

We left Oxford at 5 this morning (after a nice McDonalds breakfast) and started the twelve-hour road trip to Alabama, already slightly behind schedule.

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But after only a few pit stops

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and some traffic

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we finally made it to our condo on the beach.

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I’ve decided I kind of want to keep my blog updated with the details of this adventure because 1) I don’t get a lot of opportunities to travel these days and 2) there’s sure to be some things worth documenting on this trip.

I already have some concerns.

My biggest is probably the fact that over 600 arrests have already been made in Gulf Shores since Spring Break “season” has begun (about two weeks ago). We’ve already seen tons of cops and cars being pulled over–even a Domino’s delivery car was pulled over on the main stretch by our place.

It just seems that they’re really cracking down and, although I know that I can personally handle the temptation of drinking on the beach, I’m worried that we could get into some serious trouble down here.

Another thing is that the friend of mine that arranged this is a pretty petty person. He just blows things way out of proportion and tends to make a bigger deal than ever needs be. Already on the way down here, he was starting things by constantly complaining about his need to be the “lead” car.

This, as I’m sure you can imagine, can get really annoying, and this quality is only amplified when alcohol is involved.

Fortunately, there are two other groups of people in the fraternity that he’s in that we can hang out with, and there are two other groups of people in the sorority that Paige (the other girl in our group) and I will most likely be spending some time with when the sausage fest becomes too exhausting.

And lastly, I’m worried about myself. Self esteem has never been my strong suit, and while I thought I made a lot of progress in Hilton Head, I realized the fact that it was strictly family really helped. So far I’ve only seen a handful of girls in bathing suits here (it’s cold and cloudy and we got here around dinner), but they all have flat abs and skinny thighs.

And, of course, we have the fact that I’m currently hiding out in the bedroom writing this blog post instead of drinking with the people I’ll be living with for the next week.

That’s half because I’m exhausted from hardly sleeping last night, and also half because we only have beer and I think my beer gut is far big enough for the moment.

So I’m worried I’m going to be a little more reserved this week or just simply sadder because I still hate how I look. I still don’t know how not to without changing it, and I still haven’t gotten around to putting in the effort to make that change.

So for now I’m stuck in a body I despise with the knowledge that it’s purely my own fault.

Okay, I really didn’t mean for this to become another one of those posts where I’m hard on myself and harping on my thoughts, but I can’t say I’m surprised it took that turn when the fact that I’ll be spending the next seven days in bathing suits on the beach is my reality.

I am really excited for the trip, though. I know a ton of people down here and the ones I’ve just met seem to be a lot of fun already.

And hey, it’s spring break!

No time to be stressed about things that don’t matter.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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MY WEEK IN HILTON HEAD

Dear Reader,

When I was younger, my family used to take a trip to Hilton Head about every other summer, but somewhere along the way the tradition died. So this year, we decided to bring it back, and it turned out to be one of my favorite weeks I’ve had this year.

This is that week.

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It all began with two days spent in the car, which Sarah documented with ugly selfies of us for her snap chat story.

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Then we showed up to the condo and met up with the rest of our family. It consisted of my parents, my grandparents, my aunt Susie, her son Mac and his girlfriend Ashley, and then my sister, Caitlin, my brother-in-law, Zac, and their baby, Molly.

Molly sort of stole the show for the whole week, but can you blame her?

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And all in all, it was a very relaxing week. We got henna tattooes.

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We found an “Island Bagel & Deli,” where we rode our bikes to one morning.

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We had family jam sessions where Mac would play the chords to songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Hey Jude, and American Pie, and the rest of us would attempt to sing along.

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We went to the beach, which I found out that I hate, but took pretty pictures nonetheless.

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And there was an awesome rainbow one day!

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We sort of recreated a picture from our childhood (sorry I don’t have the original).

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And we continued to take ugly selfies.

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But then our seven days on the island came to an end, so we said our goodbyes, took our last pictures with Molly,

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and headed back to Ohio, all promising that this is the start of a new family tradition, and we will return.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

SEEKING: TRAVEL PAL

REQUIREMENTS:

Must be smart. Must be familiar with the outdoors and have plenty of common sense. It’s not necessary to be multi-lingual or excessively knowledgeable about history–though it wouldn’t hurt. No degrees necessary. At the very least, one must be able to hold intelligent conversations and discuss the many wonders of the universe late at night.

Must be fun. Must laugh a lot and have good stories to tell. Must be able to make good of any given situation and see the positives in life–find the big picture. Must encourage adventures in foreign places, but also be able to find it in places as dull as Ohio.

Must be spontaneous. Must be able to let go of our over extensive planning every once in a while and encourage gut feelings. Must be ready for adventure at all times–ready to pack up and leave in the middle of the night when necessary. Must allow me to be the cautionary one sometimes… most of the time. Crazy is not required, but not necessarily discouraged either.

Must be curious. Must talk to the natives and search for hidden gems. Must step away from the guidebooks and tourist destinations and roam the land with me–must encourage and understand my tendency to wander.

Age/race/gender/etc. doesn’t matter. More than one may be accepted. Now taking applications.

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21 PICTURES I NEED ON MY WALL

Hello Reader,

In one of my last posts, Happy List, I mentioned that I love beautiful pictures. I wouldn’t consider photography to be a hobby of mine, but I would love to be able to capture life as perfectly as these people have. So, here are 21 pictures that I need to have on my walls. Pictures that scream adventure, serve as reminders, or are just simply beautiful captures.

ADVENTURE

A1

I look at this picture and I imagine a couple or best friends or siblings–preparing for the trip by grabbing all the warmest blankets and fluffiest pillows and creating the perfect road playlists. Driving along beautiful roads, only interrupting their conversation when the best songs come up. Finally reaching their destination, jumping out of the car, stretching and making the most embarrassing involuntary noises, setting up everything in the back, and just taking in the view, one deep breath of cool air at a time.

A2

The perfect vacation spot–kept secret in order to be saved for the most daring and most deserving. A hidden gem.

A3

Doesn’t this seem magical? I’d love to spend a day lost on the other side of this gate.

A4

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures. I found it a while back and it quickly became an obsession. It’s so simple and clear, but makes me long for open air and freedom and further inspires me to venture into this world. This is what I see when I think of wanderlust.

A5

I’m immediately transported when I see this picture. I feel the slight ache in my biceps as I pull the paddle slowly through the heavy water. I carefully reach over and run my fingers through the icy stream. I listen to the birds as they sing to each other. I’m in paradise.

A6

Another road trip picture. Just a reminder that beauty is everywhere and it’s true when they say it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. A good reminder to slow down and look around every once in a while. Pay attention.

BEAUTIFUL CAPTURES

B1

Elephants are my favorite animal and this picture was taken at just the right time to show all the beauty.

B2

A true laugh and a yellow umbrella.
B3

Just some harmless PDA that captures true affection and love. Another good reminder that adventures are best shared with loved ones.
B4

Balloons being released by the Eiffel Tower. Love the angle, love the color, love all the messages you can choose to associate with it.
B5

On my bucket list. Not only do I want to visit all of these places and take in all of their beauty, but I want to take stupid-cute pictures and just smile and laugh all the way around the world.

B6

Few things are better than a good belly laugh. And adorable children.

QUOTES

Q1

Everywhere.
Q2

Admittedly a lame picture/quote but I kind of love this. Let people hate you or try to beat you or bring you down, it doesn’t matter. Be you. Be nothing less than fabulous. Always.
Q3

I’m a firm believer that we play a huge part in who we become–it’s not all based on society and how we’re raised. I believe people can change, they just have to decide who they want to become first. And then become it. Also: elephant.

Q4

Friendly reminder that you only live once without the annoying acronym. Also, wild and precious are perfect descriptions of life. Let’s live, shall we?

Q5

Map + Adventure. How could I not have this on my wall?

PLACES

R1

San Francisco: the city I fell in love with because of The Princess Diaries. This love has only grown since.

R2

The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s a hotel where giraffes just occasionally pop their heads in. Going on the wall to remind me to make it over to Kenya sometime soon.

R5

Glethoom: the town with no roads. Guests can rent “whisper boats” that are electronic and noiseless and will take passengers around the area. Added bonus to being super cool: no car pollution and tons of trees. If anything I’ve got to go to breathe such pure air.

R6Last but not least: elephants. Specifically in Thailand at a Four Seasons resort, where these beautiful creatures just roam around and can interact with guests. You know, casually.

So there you have it! I guess it’s kind of weird to put so many pictures on my wall that 1) don’t have me in them, 2) are of places I’ve never been to and random people I’ve never met and 3) aren’t even my own. But these photos make me happy, so on the wall they will go. And maybe someday I’ll take pictures beautiful enough for me to display like this.

Until then, these 21 (not to mention all the others) will do just fine.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Please tell me you’ve heard of Timeflies. If yes, congratulations on being in the know of one of today’s greatest artists. If no, welcome. Do yourself a favor and check them out. My favorite is Time of your Life, but their new album is just as good as their takes on popular songs.

My Week in San Antonio

Dear Reader,

This year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to San Antonio, Texas, for FCCLA’s National Leadership Conference. For those of you who don’t know, FCCLA stands for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America and is open to any student enrolled in a Family and Consumer Science class. Because I took a teaching professions class this year, I joined FCCLA and participated in a STAR event at the regional, state, and national competitions.

So, last Saturday, I left my hometown for the Detroit airport, flew into Atlanta, Georgia, and then connected to a flight arriving in San Antonio, Texas. We ended up getting to the hotel at around 3AM because of some scheduling issues involving our shuttle, but the next morning we got up around 8 and traveled to New Braunfels to visit the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, which has been voted the World’s Best Waterpark for 16 years in a row. Needless to say, it was amazing. I mostly just went in the lazy river, rode the master blaster, and sat in an inner tube in the falls, but it was such a fun day.

I was so happy that we finally landed that I felt obliged to take a selfie.

I was so happy when we finally landed that I felt obliged to take a selfie.

The view from our room on the 19th floor.

The view from our room on the 19th floor.

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center--where most of our meetings took place.

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center–where most of our meetings took place.

On Monday I presented my STAR event, which was in the category of nutrition and wellness, but because I think it would be pretty boring to read about, I’ll skip through the details. Basically I just helped my family lose weight and presented it to three judges who looked extremely bored and uninterested, no matter how excited or passionate I tried to seem. So I thought I did awful, but, as we found out on Thursday, I received a gold (the highest) rating. So I guess I just got myself worked up for nothing, which seems to happen to me a lot.

The rest of the day was spent at the mall and roaming around the cities with the new people I met, and we ate dinner that night on the river.

A nice eating area in the center of the mall.

A nice eating area in the center of the mall.

An old friend, Colleen, and I reconnected on this trip and ventured off, forgetting that we would have no one to take a picture of us so we opted for yet another selfie.

An old friend, Colleen, and I reconnected on this trip and ventured off, forgetting that we would have no one to take a picture of us so we opted for yet another selfie.

Where we ate dinner on the river on Monday night.

Where we ate dinner on the river on Monday night.

The next morning I went to an 8AM seminar about texting and driving, which truly opened my eyes. I think the #ItCanWait campaign is so important and am enforcing it with everyone I can. Distracted driving is dangerous and texting behind the wheel is just not a risk worth taking.

Afterwards, I helped my friends prepare for their presentation and went sight-seeing with some people from the group. We also hung out on the 5th floor roof that day and sat in big, comfy couches that overlooked the city.

The sitting area on the 5th floor roof.

The sitting area on the 5th floor roof.

The view from our 5th floor roof.

The view from the 5th floor roof.

On Wednesday morning we had another seminar to go to, this one was about fundraising, and walked around some exhibits. Afterwards we spent the day at the Six Flags in San Antonio, where I discovered that I love roller coasters. Despite the fact that I live about an hour from Cedar Point, I’ve only been there twice–and neither times were particularly spectacular. Six Flags, though, was awesome. Who would’ve known that I’m an adrenaline junkie?

By the time Thursday came around, everyone was exhausted. Luckily, our only obligations were the awards ceremony, closing sessions, and the gala–all of which were more fun than I had anticipated and a good way to end the week.

I reconnected with an old friend from soccer, Brissa, and made new friends, Lily and Ryan, while on this trip.

I reconnected with an old friend from soccer, Brissa, and made new friends, Lily and Ryan, while on this trip. This is us right before we left for the gala.

The view from our 5th floor roof at night.

The view from the 5th floor roof at night.

Then on Friday we drove to the San Antonio airport, flew to Chicago, had a two-and-a-half-hour layover, landed in Detroit around 10, and got back to our school by 11. So I got home, showered, unpacked, repacked, caught up with my sister, and left for my friend’s at 1:30 in the morning only to leave less than four hours later for Indiana.

But that’s another adventure.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

How Do You Write With a View?

Dear reader,
I departed from Detroit’s airport about an hour ago and I have been in the air ever since, wondering what I should write about.
At first I thought I would write about why I hate taking pictures. Or why my self confidence is so low. But I decided that, ultimately, that wasn’t a good idea because it would be pointless and negative and it would probably be better to write an entry like that once I’ve changed. But I’m not ready for that yet.
Then Macklemore’s “10,000 hours” started playing through my headphones and I heard my favorite line: the greats aren’t great because at birth they could paint. They greats are great because they paint a lot.” This line was enough to inspire a spark inside me and I prepared to write when I looked outside.
We were just beneath the clouds, close enough to the ground that I could see the buildings and the cars clearly, but far enough away that everything looked fake. It was as if everything was a set piece on a child’s intricate playtable. It was hard to believe that everything was lifelike and real. It was hard to believe there were actual people living in these items. Driving their cars around. Sitting on their front porches. Going about their daily lives as unique individuals, just like everyone else.
So I started to write about that. About how I love flying. How I love noticing these people and realizing they have their own story. And how some of the people I see in the airport are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!
But after a few minutes of writing, I looked up again and what I saw was breathtaking. Everything was completely white for a few moments. I could see the wing but the entire plane was covered in a strong, white mist. And then we emerged. All of a sudden we were above the clouds–what looked like puffy cotton balls from my windowseat. The sky was different shades of blue and there was a soft pink in the far distance. I tried to take a picture but, of course, my iPhone and the dirty window can’t recreate the beautiful sight I had in front of me for a few moments.
Which brings me back to my question: how do you write with such a view? I couldn’t look away for a good 5 minutes and that was only because I decided to desperately jot down my fleeting thoughts. I agree that views like this create wonderful inspirations, but I wouldn’t have been able to write more than 100 words, even if I wanted to.
But why would I want to? I knew the view would only be there momentarily, so I looked out into it and lost myself. I lost my train of thought and I forgot I was using a public form of transportation. I was alone with my thoughts, and I just had to trust myself to remember them after the moments passed.
So I don’t know what the point of this entry is either. And because I’m typing this on my phone, I don’t know what it’ll look like on my blog. But I feel like I need to leave you, the reader, with something. So maybe don’t feel the need to capture everything. Or maybe just look up and outside every once in a while. Our earth is truly beautiful, as are our lives. And sometimes all it takes to see it is a few moments with a bird’s eye view.
Sincerely,
Sammy