Postcards From // Wyoming

Finally, the Spring 2018 semester is over!

I can’t believe how busy this past semester was with starting my thesis track in my major and serving on the executive board of our chapter at TSU of Alpha Phi Omega. To celebrate the successful culmination of the academic year, several of my friends decided to take a road trip Yellowstone and Teton National Park before going our separate ways for the summer.

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Since Yellowstone is over one thousand miles from our college town, we had to break up our trip into smaller adventures. Our first day involved driving to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and exploring the historic pioneer town. Visiting the Big Boy Steam Engine was our first stop in Cheyenne. The steam engine was built to pull trains from Cheyenne to Utah through steep mountain grades. Big Boy was, unfortunately, undergoing reconstruction and was covered in a tarp, so we were unable to adequately see the locomotive. However, the site of Big Boy included little blurbs that gave us some cool facts about steam locomotives. One of my friends was particularly interested in trains, so she loved this portion of our trip.

Our next stop in Cheyenne was to the Cheyenne Depot Museum, and to the downtown region itself. For some reason, the four of us thought that Cheyenne was a bustling metropolis with lively shops. Much to our surprise, we found only one shop, The Wrangler, to actually be open––possibly because it was a Sunday? The Wrangler sells western apparel and decor. We were fascinated by the sheer amount of cowboy boots and hats sold in one place!

The next day, we woke up wildly early to catch a train that would take us into Colorado to see (and feed!) bison at Terry’s Bison Ranch. This was absolutely my favorite part of the trip! We met two bison, Dave (top) and Gene (middle). Dave and Gene love when tourists come on the train to visit them because the visitors feed them cake (the pellets in the bottom photo). Our train conductor and tour guide gave us a ton of bison facts, including how to identify the two male bison on the ranch. Identification of the two bison is easiest when they’re eating. For example, Gene primarily uses his tongue to grab the cake (and sort of looks like Gene Simmons from KISS in the process), while Dave just opens his mouth and hopes that the visitors will shovel the cake into his open mouth. Rivetting, I know. Beyond going on the bison tour at Terry’s, we continued our drive to Jackson, Wyoming, where we stayed for the next two nights.

To say that I loved Jackson would be an understatement. The small town was filled to the brim with adorable boutiques, cafes, and shops, which were all surrounded by the picturesque Teton mountains. We went to Persephone’s Bakery for breakfast, and I had a chocolate croissant and an iced coffee. Eating the croissant was a surreal experience because it was just so tasty. Eventually, we had to leave Persephone’s and head toward the Tetons and Yellowstone.

My favorite spot in Teton National Park was Jenny Lake. The lake itself was backdropped by gorgeous mountain views that could be seen from the many hiking trails that surround the lake. We didn’t have time to fully hike a trail, but we did walk around a bit so we could fully take the scenery in before we continued driving to Yellowstone.

The closer we got to Yellowstone National Park the more snow that we started to see on the sides of the road. Even though it was May, I guess it hadn’t been warm enough for the snow to melt in its entirety yet. In Missouri, we don’t get anywhere near that much snow so my brain was constantly like dang, that’s so much snow over and over again. As we got closer to Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Pool the snow disappeared and was replaced by steam emerging from the ground. We waited around for Old Faithful to erupt, and it was cool, but I thought that the Prismatic Pool and the Paint Pots were far more interesting.

Postcards From // Mini Road Trip

School breaks in college are weird.

In high school, all of your friends lived in the same town as you, so it was super easy to meet up and get lunch with them over break. However, in college it’s totally different. Sometimes your college friends live halfway across the country, while others are fortunate enough to live only a few hours away. I’m lucky enough that one of my friends lives only a few hours away. So we decided to meet halfway to spend an afternoon catching up!

We met up at another one of my favorite places to grab a bite in Columbia, Uprise Bakery. Uprise serves a wide array of sandwiches, soups, specialty drinks, and the usual bakery pastries. I settled on a half broccoli cheddar soup, and PB&J sandwich, with a cappuccino and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The food was great (of course), but it was even greater to catch up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in weeks. College is weird like that. You get so used to seeing your friends daily, so when you don’t see them for a few days over break everything just seems sort of off.

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It’s been super cold in Missouri right now. I’m talking 2-5 degrees with negative degree windchills. So obviously my friend and I didn’t want to spend any more time outside than absolutely necessary. Logically, we headed to one of my favorite local wineries, Les Bourgeois (I’ve been here a few times, including back in October). My friend and I had (another) wine tasting. This time around I sampled the Moscato, Winter White, and Traminette. My favorite was definitely the Winter White! I guess you could say that I am coming around to white wine after all! It was so fun drinking wine in front of a cozy fire!

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Postcards from // Colorado Springs + Denver

Happy, happy birthday to me! Today I celebrated my 22nd birthday by waking up in our cute AirBnB just outside of Denver! Our first expedition of the day was at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs was a few hours south of our AirBnb, so we decided to set off first thing in the morning (after breakfast of course, because who do you think we are). As soon as we exited the metro area of Denver, the weather took a turn for the worse. It started sleeting, and icing while we were on the highway with semi trucks going 75+ mph. It was hella spooky, but we made it to Garden of the Gods (all in one piece!) right as the sun began to emerge. And man oh man, was it a beautiful site! We spent most of the morning climbing around on the rocks and photographing the surrounding area before heading back to one of the many breweries in Denver.

We decided to go to the Great Divide Brewery. It sort of seemed like it was in a sketchy location because there was a lot of road construction happening on the road outside the brewery. However, the inside of the building was super nice and had a great aesthetic for a beer joint. We hit up the taco truck outside before ordering a round of grapefruit beers and settled in for a rather enjoyable birthday lunch.

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The final stop on our Colorado journey was at the Museum of Contemporary Art – Denver. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge art buff (and I’m actually studying art history in college – say whaaaat?). They had a small exhibit which featured Mexican artists throughout the museum.

We were exhausted once we finally returned to the Airbnb, so we simply ordered takeout sushi and ate dinner whilst watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix.

Honestly, I had the coolest birthday weekend, and I can’t wait to see the many adventures that 22 brings.

Postcards from // Denver

Minus the huge amount of snow and wind in Rocky Mountain National Park, the weather was nearly perfect in Denver, especially for late November. In order to take advantage of this, we decided to head to the Denver Botanical Garden on Monday morning. Even for late fall, the garden was spectacular. The tropical conservatory and the Japanese garden were definitely my two favorite sub gardens. The tropical conservatory was obviously indoors, so it wasn’t effected by the upcoming winter in the ways that the outdoor gardens were. They had a wide array of flowers and trees in the indoor space. Unbeknownst to many, we discuss a wide variety of gardens in many art history courses. One of my favorite garden types is the Japanese garden.

We definitely worked up an appetite wandering around all of the paths at the botanical garden, so we headed to Denver Central Market for lunch. There were around 10 spectate vendors in the interior space of the market. They served everything from artisanal chocolates and pastries, to BBQ and Italian cuisine. The interior of the building was decorated with hispter eclecticism. Stainless steel countertops, fashionable lighting, and neon signs stole the show. I decided to get the lemon ravioli at Vero, the Italian joint. In no way was my meal traditional Italian cuisine, but it was so good!img_0399-1

To burn off all of our lunch calories, we headed to the Museum of Science and Nature. Before we even saw the museum, we knew it was going to be crowded! We barley found a parking spot, and nearly ran over several small families who decided that darting across a busy street was a good idea. That being said, I am a museum person, meaning that I could spend my entire life going in and out of museums and be perfectly content. The Science and Nature museum had a wide array of exhibits from astronomy to dinosaurs and the human body. My favorite was Exhibition Health. Basically, when you entered the exhibit you got a little card which was your identification and you swiped it at each station. There were a bunch of different stations that measured your heart rate, your cardiovascular health, your height, and your arm span. But, the show stopper was the Genetics of Taste Lab. We participated in their study, where they are researching savory and sour flavors. The lab gave us each 5 different samples of liquid flavors which were either flavorless, sweet, sour, or savory. We marked how each sample tasted on a program. Most of my samples were flavorless or tasted a lot like beef, which was a wild ride for a 5 year vegetarian.

The sun was setting over Denver as we left the museum, so we walked along a nearby pond to admire the sunset on the mountains before heading to dinner at Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey. Since we went on Monday, it was happy hour and we splurged on guac and some really great margs as well as some of the most tasty tacos ever.

Wanna read more about my Colorado adventure? Check out these posts!

Postcards From // Boulder & Estes Park

Oh man, oh man.

Thanksgiving break could not come soon enough to satisfy my heart. This semester has truly been a whirlwind for me. Earlier this semester I was initiated into Delta Phi Epsilon. Not only did I join DPhiE this semester, but I also served as the Vice President for my service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Couple my social activities with my upper level classes, and my photography business, you can see why I have been counting down the days until Thanksgiving break.

Two of my friends and I decided to make the twelve hour trek from Missouri to Denver on the first Saturday of our break. We stayed in an AirBnB outside of Denver, in Aurora. The AirBnB mimicked the visual aesthetic that we expected of Colorado. It was oh so rustic, with a cute little loft for a living room.

Our first full day in the Centennial State was Sunday. I was lucky enough to wake up with the sunrise thanks to the skylight in the AirBnB (and snap several photos) before we headed out of Denver and into Estes Park.

Estes is a tiny little town at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. Before heading into the park we got breakfast at Mountain Home Cafe. The cafe is a rustic joint that shares a shopping mall with a Safeway (throwback to the time that I lived in Oregon, and Safeway’s were on most corners). I ordered the Arizona hash browns. Living in Missouri, I’m way too accustomed to ‘spicy’ food consisting of an entree flavored with a lot of black pepper, and maybe if you’re lucky a splash of red pepper flakes. Thankfully, the hash browns were the perfect amount of spice, and flavor.

After breakfast we finally headed up into the mountains! This wasn’t my first time visiting the mountains, but it was the first time that I have visited in the snowy season. We do get some snow in the dead of winter in Missouri, but never never that much! We saw a bunch of people sledding, and a few people skiing within the park.

Once we had enough of the frigid temperates up in the Rockies, we headed back down into Boulder to get lunch at Happa, where I seriously had the best vegetarian sushi of my life. After lunch we did some window shopping on Pearl Street before heading to Eldorado Canyon State Park to watch the sunset.

Thankfully the park was mostly empty, and we had the beautiful sandstone cliffs mostly to ourselves. Anna and Garren spent a bunch of time climbing the cliffs while I prefer to keep photographed the beautiful scenery. Right as the sun disappeared from the sky for the evening, the sky turned a beautiful color. It was purple, pink, and blue all at the same time, and was swirled with gorgeous gold colored clouds. Never have I ever seen such a beautiful sunset!

Read more of my Colorado experience here and here!

Postcards from // Columbia

Two of my good friends are seniors at Mizzou, so it seems like I’m always in Columbia for some reason or another. My pal Britney’s birthday is next week, so I decided to pay her a visit this past weekend.

I worked a photo gig, and it ran a little late so I arrived in Columbia several hours later than anticipated. We immediately caught up over salads and soups at one of our favorite downtown eateries, Ingredient. I, like usual, got the sweet leaf salad (think mixed greens with assorted berries, and Gorgonzola – delish). But I also decided to mix it up, and order the tomato basil bisque. Honestly, I’m not the biggest soup fan but I ended up making a great choice. The bisque was just the right texture – not too creamy but not to chunky either. Next up, we went to top ten wines which is only a few blocks away from Ingredient. The tasting room was packed when we arrived! After only a few minutes of waiting we got our drinks. A glass of prosecco for me, and rosé sangria for Brit.

The next morning we (thankfully) beat the heavy brunch crowd at Cafe Berlin. I got their chai, and anonymous tacos. Tacos are easily one of my favorite foods. So no way could I pass it up, especially when they’re served with vegan sausage. I’ve been a vegetarian for going on 5 years now (which is a tough feat for someone living in rural Missouri) and I get unreasonably excited when I can substitute vegetarian proteins in restaurant dishes.

For the past several months I’ve been obsessed with succulents. I have been buying succulents online, and planting them in my mini apartment garden. Knowing this, Britney took me to Helmi’s, a garden center several miles outside of Columbia. Helmi’s had a large variety of large outdoor trees and plants in their nursery, as well as a very extensive indoor selection. They had everything from common house plants to air plants and succulents. Helmi’s even carries a wide range of antiques ranging from mirrors to glass vases. I had a really hard time picking out only one plant to take home with me, but I eventually decided on a beautifully purple echeveria, an air plant, and several mini pumpkins for an upcoming Halloween party.

Britney is graduating this spring, and one of her many dreams for her post grad life involves working in the business of small boutiques. I hope that she’ll eventually open her own boutique so that I’ll have easy access to her fabulous eye for fashion. Until then, she’ll have to take me to her favorite boutiques. This time, we visited Kelly Fields Boutique. They had a lovely fall selection of sweaters, leggings, and a lot of Kendra Scott jewelry (they even offer a discount on Kendra Scott during your birth month, so hit them up).

Bonus:

After my grand tour of Columbia, Britney mentioned an Octoberfest celebration that was happening in Rocheport. Rocheport is only a few minutes west of Columbia on I-70, so we hopped in our car and headed that way. Rocheport is located right on the Katy Trail, and is a picturesque little town. There were a bunch of cute houses, BnB’s, and antique shops. Octoberfest was located in a small clearing right off the trail. The festival consisted of a small stage with local bluegrass musicians, food trucks, and various craft pavilions. The festival wasn’t exactly our scene, so we headed back into town and made the decision to get pastries at Meriweather Cafe before going to a wine tasting at Les Bourgeois.

Postcards From // Columbia

Sometimes Kirksville can seem so stifling. There aren’t many good restaurants, coffee shops, bars, or boutiques in town, and sometimes I just have to leave town for an afternoon. So, my friends and I decided to take a day trip to Columbia!

My friends and I stopped at Hu Hot for lunch first thing once we reached town. Hu Hot is a fast dining restaurant that could be described as a stir fry buffet. Basically, you select which noodles (or rice) you want in your dish, and add meats, vegetables, and sauces to complete it. Then, you hand over your bowl to the chefs and watch your stir fry cook right in front of you. It’s cool, and it tastes delicious so what more could you ask?

Next up, we met my friend, who goes to Mizzou, downtown. My roommate got a tattoo, while the rest of us strolled down 9th street. My friends got tarro and thai bubble tea. I got white russian ice cream, and s’mores cookies for dessert. It was so nice to pretend that we weren’t drowning in quizzes, homework, and exams for a few hours.

We wrapped up our evening at my all time favorite sushi restaurant, Kampai. Back when I went to school at Mizzou my friends and I would go to Kampai on a fairly regular basis. Not having a great sushi establishment is absolutely one of the worst parts about Kirksville. We dined on an assortment of rolls, and noodle dishes before heading to Lakota to get chai for our long ride home.