From Sunset To Sunrise On The Way To Graduation- Part 1

From Sunset To Sunrise On The Way To Graduation- Part 1

A photo essay about healing through my travels across the country on the way to graduation

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In early 2017, I was processing my second divorce and working out frustrations through my accelerator while traveling first from Olympia, Washington to St. John's Arizona then to Key West, Florida in search of escape and further writing opportunities.

During the time it took me to travel down to Arizona for the divorce hearing and then to Florida to wrap up my employment with a national medical magazine, we visited an abundance of beaches. Torn between searching for that perfect photographic shot and allowing the dogs who spent far too much time in the car to run, the combination of sun and water was irresistible more often than not.

I knew I had to be in Manchester, New Hampshire by mid-May to attend the graduation of my daughter, the first in our family from college. I would also be finally walking for my own Bachelor degree that same weekend...if I could make it to New Hampshire from Washington State. I took the long way.

Leaving the snow behind

Cannon Beach, Oregon

M Slighte

When we left Olympia, Washington, on January 11, 2017, it was snowing. Portland was becoming a frozen snowglobe; one that we had no desire to travel through. Instead, we headed out to the coast. It would be a slower route, but it would afford many opportunities for photos on the way down the Oregon Coast.

We watched our first sunset at Oregon's Famous Rockaway Beach

The clouds were magnificent on the coast

M Slighte

Driftwood Beach, Oregon

It seemed like the perfect beach...I could have stayed forever

M Slighte

We started the next day early, but took time to observe the Pacific Ocean from Driftwood Beach, Oregon

Brookings, Oregon

Taken from my friend's porch, it was the perfect place to watch the sunset while the dogs played

M Slighte

We stopped in Brookings, Oregon to visit a friend of mine I hadn't seen since my first wedding. In fact, she had been a bridesmaid! It was great to catch up on the almost three decades we had missed.

The Next Sunrise

Sunrise over the mountains of southern California

M Slighte

As we headed into the mountains, the sun welcomed us towards Arizona. We had no idea it was snowing in the Grand Canyon. Once we heard the report on the radio, we headed towards the park for a minor detour. After all, we were three days early for the divorce hearing.

The Snow Followed us to The Grand Canyon

A Complete White-out HID the Grand Canyon!

M Slighte

That big white area above should be filled with the layers of rock that adorn the Grand Canyon. However, on this particular day it was a complete white-out. Not a hole big or little to be seen. Watch out!

A Storm on the Horizon After the Divorce Hearing

The storm was headed right towards us

M Slighte

The radio and internet warned of an impending storm in the White Mountains of Arizona. If we didn't leave within the hour after the divorce hearing, I could get caught in the one-horse-town where my ex and his new live-in resided. That couldn't happen, I put the peddle down and headed for Texas through New Mexico.

Animals in Texas

I understand the stuffed turkey and deer heads...but who stuffs a coyote?

M Slighte

Throughout our travels, Walmart stores were not only a great place to use the restroom and stock up on important items, but they also provided some incredible entertainment opportunities...like this one in Texas that allowed a local Taxidermist to advertise in the camping and hunting area!

Taking in the Mississippi River in the Early Morning in New Orleans

The morning sun made the Mississippi mud glow orange

M Slighte

I love New Orleans, Louisiana. I have often toyed with heading there for a writing sabbatical. The spirits that reside there entrance and toy with me. Every time I am close, I just have to stop and walk along the riverside.

Making it to the Atlantic Ocean

We slept through the sunrise but welcomed the Atlantic with open arms

M Slighte

On January 28th, we got to Florida around 3 am. St. Augustine's beach was full of shells in the daybreak. The dogs ran and I gathered scattered souvenirs.

Heading for the Keys

The Overseas Highway through Marathon, Florida was full of sights

M Slighte

After stopping for a quick visit with the widower of one of my dearest friends in Central Florida, I headed for the Keys to cry into the sun.

Key West, Florida

Key West captures the mysteries of many minds

M Slighte

I had made it to the furthest point from my home, while remaining in the USA. It was the second time I had driven to Key West. I pondered how long to stay. I didn't have to be in New Hampshire until May, and it was only early February.

At the Key West AIDS Memorial

Prophets spoke... and roosters crowed

M Slighte

Key West, Florida Sunrise

...and I chased the sun around the tiny island....

M Slighte

I'll take a time out here in Key West... and wait for next week to see how long it takes me to leave! See you next week for part 2!

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9 Reasons Why Topsail Island is the Best Beach in NC

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in North Carolina.
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1. The sunsets.

Topsail has the best sunsets out of any beach in North Carolina. Hands down.

2. The shark’s teeth and seashells.

You can always find a large amount of cool shells and shark’s teeth every beach trip. I have found that it is not like this at every beach, only at Topsail. Shell hunting tip: check out the point on the south end of the island every morning for the best shell selection. You might even come across a hidden mailbox with notes in it while shell hunting down there.

3. The food.

From Max’s pizza with the pepperoni under the cheese to the seafood at Breezeway and even having the experience of eating outside at Sears Landing, Topsail has some of the greatest restaurants any beach in NC has to offer. The best part about the food in Topsail is that the restaurants are all local. Also, there is a brand new doughnut shop in the Surf City part of the island...what could be better than doughnuts and the beach?

4. The Fourth of July.

Every year Topsail and neighboring town, Holly Ridge, rotate between who does fireworks on the fourth and who gets to do them on the fifth. Basically this means two whole days of celebrating our great nation at the beach. The Fourth is also fun in Topsail because the beach is full of people decked out in red, white, and blue, blaring country music, and playing cornhole and swimming all day. Some parts of the town even have mini Fourth of July block parties (okay maybe that's just my family and our neighbors but it’s still pretty fun).

5. The small town atmosphere.

Topsail is a small island which gives it a small town, everybody knows everybody kind of feel. It’s really easy to make life long beach friends here because you have the opportunity to see the same people out on the beach every summer.

6. The ice cream.

Growing up, we went out to get ice cream EVERY single night and admittedly we still do. It often feels like the whole island has the same idea because the lines are always out the door at every ice cream place on the island. Don’t let this discourage you though. It’s an unspoken rule to wait in the line no matter how long it may be because ice cream always tastes better at Topsail.

7. The best of both worlds.

Because Topsail is an island, in most cases you can see both the ocean and the sound from wherever you are staying. This is pretty awesome because you can watch the sunrise over the beach and the sunset over the sound without having to go too far. You also can go from playing cornhole on the beach to jet skiing in the sound without having to walk too far so you really do get the experience the best of both worlds.

8. Outdoor movies.

On certain nights of the week Topsail this has cool thing called “Summer Movies in the Park” where they play movies on a big blow up screen at a park that sits on the sound. The best part about this is that the movies are FREE. Tip: if you are vacationing at Topsail with bae, I highly suggest going to an outdoor movie together, even if it is Cinderella and even if you have seen it 100 times already you should still go. But, if outdoor movies aren’t your thing then I suggest going roller skating or playing a game of putt-putt.

9. The memories.

Whether you go for a week or a weekend, I promise that you will make some great memories with the people you love at Topsail Island. After spending 19 summers on the island, I know I sure have. From Fourth of July block parties, running into friends from all over NC, adventuring with cousins and swimming during hurricanes, I can honestly say that spending my summers at Topsail Island has been one of the best things ever.



North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in NC and I highly recommend planning your next beach vacation to Topsail Island.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.topsailnewsonline.com/?p=9478

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5 Things To Do In Columbia, South Carolina, To Keep You Entertained

It's bigger than you'd think.

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Growing up in the state of South Carolina, I'd been to Columbia lots of times but I never really got to experience the sights and sounds quite the way I do now that I'm in school here. That being said, I feel like I've gotten to check some cool things in the past three years and I'd like to recommend some to you!

1. Get Coffee!

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Obviously, we have a trillion Starbucks, but I mean try out some of the other, more localized coffee shops such as Drip, Immaculate Consumption, Cool Beans, Zombie Coffee and Donuts, and the list goes on. And again, while we all love Starbucks, it's good to try new things, especially locally based things that put money back into your economy and locally sourced coffees.

2. Catch Some Baseball!

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We have our lovely Gamecocks in action basically every weekend, and the SEC season is underway so there will be some talented teams rolling into Columbia in the next few weeks to take on the Gamecocks. We also have the Columbia Fireflies in action pretty soon, so go check them out as well. Don't forget your glove!

3. Brunch!

My friends introduced me to some really great places to have brunch. I definitely think Tazza Kitchen is my favorite but there are so many great restaurants to explore throughout the city that have brunch food and drink specials! Also, it's a nice way to kick off or end your weekend surrounded by food and people that you care about.

4. The Great Outdoors!

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There's always something to do outside! For the most part, we have great weather, so outdoor activities are a must! And we have various festivals that come and go throughout the year. We also have lots of parks and rivers for walking, running, kayaking, swimming and more!

5. Museums!

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I know everyone thinks museums are lame but I don't! So, we have plenty of things to look at and take in around Columbia! We have a children's museum for the younger crowd, in addition to the Columbia Museum of Art and the South Carolina State Museum. I actually used to go to the state museum a lot as a kid with my parents. There are also other smaller places around Columbia and on campus to check out if you're into history like I am!

This is only a small list of the attractions in Columbia. For all the trash I talk about this state and about this city, it does have some pretty loveable things. You can eat your heart out, learn, cheer on your favorite team and that could only be day one.

If you have any other suggestions of things to do or would like to request me as your personal tour guide, let me know!

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