Roadtrip: Out West

First stop: the most beautiful, breath-taking, awe-inspiring place I have ever been...the Grand Canyon.

Next stop, the 4 Corners Monument: (AZ, NM, UT, CO)
To make it from the Grand Canyon in North Western Arizona to the Four Corners Monument in New Mexico, you must drive through hours upon hours of no cell service, radio signal, and a literal no-man's land. And if you're us, rain. But, once we got there, I marked yet another thing off my bucket list: Standing in four states at once!

Next Stop: Crazy Horse Memorial (South Dakota)
This was not in the plan, but it so neatly fit in with Mount Rushmore than we had to stop. Crazy Horse Monument is a work in progress that will eventually (in about 60 years) be completed and stand larger than Mount Rushmore. Standing Bear, a Native American Indian Chief, wrote to Polish sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, saying "carve us a mountain so that the white man will know the red man had great heroes also." Crazy Horse was the hero Standing Bear referred to. 

UP NEXT: Mount Rushmore (South Dakota)

Lastly, standing in front of the Arch in St. Louis, MO....I must say, I had the best road trip date of all time.

Now that it is over, it's time to plan for the next thing.
It's officially official. I bought my one-way ticket to New York City and I'll be moving there in October. I am sticking around the bluegrass to celebrate my 24th birthday with friends and family before I the big, scary, wonderful move happens. I guess I won't be Kiley in Kentucky anymore? I'll have to brainstorm on that one.

Photo Diary: Santa Fe, NM

A sweet little collection of photos from my summer stay in Santa Fe, New Mexico


It is a map of the roadtrip I shall embark on sometime within the next 24 hours!

The cute little Pontiac Vibe (thanks again for letting us use it, Hannah) is going to take us from our starting point: Santa Fe, NM, to the following places:
1. The Grand Canyon (Arizona)
2. The Four Corners
3. Denver, CO
4. Mount Rushmore/The Black Hills (South Dakota)
5. St. Louis, MO
6. Madisonville, KY
7. HOME (Greensburg, KY)

All in all, this trip will take anywhere from 4 days to a week, depending on how long we spend in each spot (we are sort of on a deadline). The total driving time equals
42. Hours. 
(UMMM, we may need prayers)...plenty of time for us to get through "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" approximately 84 times. 
Believe it or not, the longest leg of the journey is from Santa Fe to the Grand Canyon: a 12 hour drive. But, I know it will be beyond worth it.
As the very wise Brenda Hall told me a few weeks ago:
"I don't use the word 'awesome' often, because God is Awesome and the Grand Canyon is awesome."
Since then, I've not only become more excited for the Big Ol' GC, but I've reduced my usage of the word 'awesome' by half. 

See y'all next week from, SOMEWHERE, U.S.A.! 

Fishing with Papaw

Last Friday brought a transformation of one kind. This Tuesday, I want to share a transformation that was much, much longer in the making. 

My Papaw and I wanted to make a fishing trip--our first one together in YEARS--before I left Kentucky for an extended stay in New Mexico.

There's no better time than the last minute! We went yesterday, and it was the perfect way to spend my last day in Kentucky before a few weeks of sand and dry heat. 

There's no better time than the last minute! We went yesterday, and it was the perfect way to spend my last day in Kentucky before a few weeks of sand and dry heat. 

 This is Landon's expression, reading the nutrition facts on the back of our lunch. 

 This is Landon's expression, reading the nutrition facts on the back of our lunch. 

Which was this: the classic Papaw lunch. You can't catch a fish without eating a couple "vy-ee-nees."

Which was this: the classic Papaw lunch. You can't catch a fish without eating a couple "vy-ee-nees."

We certainly enjoyed the day with the legend, himself.

So, about that transformation I mentioned earlier.
Here are some moments from past experiences with fish.

I tried to get another picture with Papaw yesterday, but the sun killed our vibe.

My Adventurous Journey

I'm breathless, I'm sweating very, very large bullets, I'm this close to exhausting my water ration, and I'm not really sure where I'm going to find the strength to lift myself on top of one more rock. Yet, I'm doing it and am determined not to complain.

"I think the trail is pretty flat from here on out."
"Don't challenge nature, Val! Nature will laugh in your face." 

My best friend, Val, is the bubbly, blonde yogi pushing past branches and creating a path for me. She does this "hiking thing" often...and I'm thankful true friends don't judge each other by how long they would survive alone in the wilderness. Let's just matters of the wild, you want Val on your team.

In December of 2013, Miss Kentucky, Jenna Day, and the Boy Scouts of Kentucky brought the Duke of Edinburgh Award to the Bluegrass. The free and optional DofE Award promotes self-discipline, growth, and aims to push you outside your boundaries. Aside from performing one hour of a special skill (I chose tap-dancing), physical recreation (I chose weight lifting), and community service every week for three months, I was required to embark on an "Adventurous Journey." 

I just love the sound of that. 

The point of the Adventurous Journey is to explore the expanse outside of your comfort zone. Now, I love being outside as much as the next girl, but my comfort zone is about as far as I can drag a beach chair away from the ocean while still getting a gentle salty mist on my face. Hiking isn't my preferred choice of weekend activity, what with all the sweating, and the bugs, and the BEARS...thus, it is quite adventurous a journey for me.

So, I left the planning up to Valerie. I wouldn't trust anyone else to put up with me when I'm tired and dehydrated in the outdoors. When she wasn't helping me climb or stopping and smiling for yet another selfie, we talked about life, her plans to start a women's retreat and spa, and laughed at everything; mostly ourselves. 

We hiked Red River Gorge, Natural Bridge State Park, and The Pinnacles in Berea. If I needed any further proof that Kentucky is one of the most diverse and breathtaking places in the U.S.--if not the world--I need no more. I was easily distracted from my own lack of endurance by the sheer beauty of the scenery. So, of course, I took a million pictures.

My Adventurous Journey definitely served its purpose in opening the door to meaningful activity outside of my norm and provided time for much needed self-reflection. My breath was taken away by numerous mountain-top views (and one really dark tunnel), I laughed myself a little closer to a six-pack, and got to practice keeping my "big picture perspective" in mind. It wasn't until I arrived back in Greensburg late Monday night that I realized just how adventurous my journey truly was. I came away with four spider bites, a really painful, full-body sunburn, and a touch of poison ivy (turns out I'm not immune, Val!), but...

Thanks to you, Duke of Edinburgh, I am recharged! And, once the sunburn heals, really tan.