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Make it a Good One.

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It is Friday afternoon, it’s sunny and warm out, and I got out of work early. I grabbed an iced mocha and put on my mix especially for these occasions. Here is my little Memorial Weekend gift to you: Hello Weekend. Preferably this is played in a car with the windows down, and very loud. Also, unlike all my mixes, this one can be played in any order. <<Enjoy.>>

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Credits
Fonts are here, with custom treatments by me.
Design and Photos ©Caroline Royce: Shot on Canon 70D w/ Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8.
Edited in Adobe Lightroom with VSCO pack no. 5.

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Morning Phase

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Ah, stillness. Every day the cat gets fed around 6AM, which is a schedule we inadvertently put her on back when Alan worked a much earlier shift. She starts getting antsy as early as 5, and usually goes about getting food by sitting on our faces, or licking our noses, which is cute until you get a big whiff of cat breath. I was wrapped snuggly tight in my cocoon yesterday when this happened. I decided to not prolong this ritual by meeting her demands. It was about 5:50 and the sun was still really low in the sky. We don’t get a *ton* of natural light, but I like the dimness of the house in the early morning. MORNING-PADDLES-1MORNING-PADDLES-5Now that it’s spring (even though it’s been really chilly), everything is all grown in and GREEN. It makes everything feel just full. MORNING-PADDLES-6MORNING-PADDLES-7These canoe paddles from Sanborn Canoe (in SE Minnesota– bluff country!) are a new addition, a surprise birthday gift from Alan. We’ve talked about getting these for a long time to hang up, even make a day of it down to the shop and sample some local libations as well, but he got impatient. MORNING-PADDLES-9There’s one for each of us, mine is the black & white, natch, which they call “North” (fitting), and Alan’s is “Mackinack“.MORNING-PADDLES-10And, we mounted them to the wall with deluxe leather straps. Sure does make the place feel nice and North-y.

Photos taken with Canon 70D, Sigma Art 18-35 mm f/1.8 lens, edited in Adobe Lightroom with VSCO Pack No. 5

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Kitten Forever at AAW

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On Saturday we went to Art A Whirl in Northeast Minneapolis, which I guess a lot of people tend to compare to SXSW these days. Lots of bands and beer and art spread out over several city blocks. It’s a big party. I have nothing against it, but it’s never been a big thing for me. We went out though and happened to run into some good friends almost immediately, who brought us to this rad backyard show, and this local girl group Kitten Forever played out of a garage. They are extremely good. All three ladies rotate so they all sing, all drum, all guitar. Punk rock.KITTEN-6980 KITTEN-6992 KITTEN-6997 KITTEN-7017 KITTEN-7022 KITTEN-7024 KITTEN-7049 KITTEN-7052This was a pretty low-light situation (and minutes after these guys wrapped, there was torrential downpour). Luckily, the punk-show-out-of-a-garage lends itself well to the low-light, grainy film look. Also, there was ONE guy who tried to mosh.

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I’ll Burn This Whole City Down (RIP Vita.mn)

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It was a sad end to a wonderful chapter in my professional life (heck, personal too) yesterday. Vita.mn went to alt-weekly heaven after the Star Tribune bought City Pages, and well, it doesn’t make sense to own two publications that are essentially fighting for the same market, especially when one makes way more money. So my time there was cut short. I mean, I could see it for months that vita.mn was coming to the end of its rope. But I don’t want to talk about that. I had so much fun working for Vita, alongside some extremely talented people. The best of the best! I had the privilege of Art Directing some really cool issues. I got to design a fake six pack of beer, I got to hang out at The Guthrie for a morning, I got to direct a beer photoshoot at the not-yet-opened Surly Brewery, I got in deep with editorial fashion, I commissioned a hot dog illustration. I can’t believe I really got to do all this ridiculous shit that by no means should be a real job because it was too fun. I did some of my best ever work. Some of it was a pain in the ass, as all jobs are, but I never didn’t just love the hell out of it. I snapped a few photos of the very last day of production (and also, my last day in the Star Tribune offices, as I was offered a job at newly acquired City Pages as its Layout Editor, a lateral move with real opportunity),LASTVITA-3 LASTVITA-1 LASTVITA-2LASTVITA-7LASTVITA-5LASTVITA-4LASTVITA-8LASTVITA-9LASTVITA-12LASTVITA-10LASTVITA-11LASTVITA-13LASTVITA-14LASTVITA-15LASTVITA-16LASTVITA-17LASTVITA-18LASTVITA-19After it was all finished, we went out for a drink or seven, and burned up the master set of proofs.LASTVITA-21  LASTVITA-22LASTVITA-23Rest in Peace, Vita.mn. You were too cool for this world. I’m so lucky that I left a piece of myself with you.

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Through the Woods

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Whoa, what a packed long weekend. We flew down to Atlanta on Thursday, where it was very hot. We got some tasty dinner for my birthday, collapsed on the hotel bed, and then dragged ourselves to the hotel bar. Because it was my birthday and I wasn’t going down easy. On Friday and Saturday we went to the Shaky Knees festival which was a TON of fun, and so many good bands, and it was also oppressively hot and I think I slipped a disc in my back from all the standing and then sitting on the ground. Owwie. On Sunday we woke up way early, pretty hungover, and rented a car, which was not the car we reserved (we reserved an SUV for driving to the mountains, and they gave us a Passat! Pfffft.)APPALACHIAN-6502APPALACHIAN-6547APPALACHIAN-6554 First we went to Stone Mountain which is like Mt Rushmore of the South, as it depicts the three “heroes” of the Confederacy (Stonewall Jackson, Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis). Being from the North, I tend to have a different, I wanna say, enlightened view on the Civil War. It *kinda* feels a little like this is a monument… To slavery. Still, it’s the largest bas relief in the world, and it is pretty impressive. BUT, it also has a weird park attached to it, that reminded me a lot of Disney World. We got to the park right when it opened so thankfully didn’t have to deal with any crowds.
Then we went north, mainly through backroads to get to Amicalola Falls State Park where you can hike up a steep set of stairs to get a good view of the Piedmont (which, we didn’t know what the Piedmont was, and I correctly guessed that it meant “Foot of the Mountains” because I took Latin in High School and it’s a really good language to take if you want to deduce the meaning of words later on in life), and you can also continue onto the AT Approach Trail, which then brings you to Springer Mountain, where the Appalachian Trail officially begins its trek north to Maine. Yowza. The first glimpses we caught of the Appalachians as we drove north were from pretty low down, but they were the trademark blue mounds layered against the sky.

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It’s impossible to convey the scale of this waterfall. It just goes up and up and up, and the way to get to the top is not hiking as such, just a lot of stair climbing. I will never understand people who use the stair climber at the gym willingly but I can see it is an effective form of exercise. The one merciful aspect of this climb was that it was in the shade.APPALACHIAN-6610We knew it would be worth it at the top because we could see little teasers of the mountain range through the trees.APPALACHIAN-6629This is meant to be the scenic overlook, which, don’t get me wrong, is very scenic, but I wonder what the people who gave that designation thought was the most scenic. Standing on a ledge over a rushing waterfall, a mile and a half from the ground overlooking the Appalachian Mountains is *pretty* scenic. But for me, there were too many trees. Up at the top is a little picnic park with bathrooms and a parking lot and vending machines. Ah, nature. APPALACHIAN-6645APPALACHIAN-6646 We began the walk back down to the main parking lot by the info center where there was refreshment and souvenirs waiting to be bought. Instead of taking the stairs back down, we went down a (extremely) rocky trail full of fallen trees and switchbacks. Ah. Now this is hiking! APPALACHIAN-6664And THERE was the view I was looking for. I had to enhance these photos just a touch, because the mountains really are that blue in real life, and the camera can only do so much to capture that. APPALACHIAN-6665 APPALACHIAN-6669I’m grateful that Alan seemed to have a solid basic background on the geology of the area. I asked why these mountains are so round and low compared to say, the Rockies. It’s because they’re super old, said he, and have had thousands of years more erosion, and after long enough time, they become covered in growth. We saw a microcosm of this phenomenon on the island of Hawai’i. The island is newer than the others, which are already effectively rainforests. On the east coast, it’s all green but on the west, it’s still mainly volcanic rock. I love geology. It’s like history for nature. APPALACHIAN-6674APPALACHIAN-6675APPALACHIAN-6684 APPALACHIAN-6676APPALACHIAN-6690From Amicalola, we took a rather long and winding journey up to the summit of Springer Mountain, the Southern Terminus of the whole Appalachian Trail. We white knuckled it up there, hugging the mountain’s wall as much as we could. When we finally got to the little parking area, we found that we still had basically a whole mile more to walk because we could get to the terminus! APPALACHIAN-6697 APPALACHIAN-6698 APPALACHIAN-6699 APPALACHIAN-6701This was also done at about 4 in the afternoon, when the sun was beating right down on us. The trail was narrow and rocky and neither of us had proper hiking boots, just trail shoes. I thought about stopping a few times but I thought I can’t come all this way to NOT get to the AT. APPALACHIAN-6706 APPALACHIAN-6716But we did make it. There’s a really serene, wide open area where there’s a plaque, and there are small trees with wayward branches. You know, I would’ve taken a picture, but there were a lot of people up there. Some thru-hikers, some day hikers, all taking up space and talking loudly at each other, which was extra weird because it’s quiet up there. It made me feel really claustrophobic, to be honest. APPALACHIAN-6719 APPALACHIAN-6710 APPALACHIAN-6708I’m glad I got to properly test out my new wide angle lens for this trip, but it also made me sort of realize that a more telephoto lens would be good too. Man. I just can’t get anything right.

Oh, it’s so good to travel. It’s hitting the reset button, it’s cultivating new experiences, it’s making you more appreciative of your day-to-day life. Oddly though, now that I’m back, the real huge changes are about to begin, which I’ve been dreading. Last week, right before the trip, this happened. Now my whole world is a little topsy turvy and I need to make some tough decisions. It only makes me want to run back to the mountains and live there. Permanently. C’mon, how hard can it be? With luck, I’ll be going on lots of little trips in the coming months. In the last year I’ve been more restless and wanderlust-y than ever before, and this time I have the means to travel independently and frequently. And I got this camera.

(I don’t think Spotify lets you embed songs anymore! But here’s this.)

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Going to Georgia

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Woohoo, we’re going on a trip! Our first of the year. Planes and everything. Days 1&2 are spent here. I’m so stoked to see a ton of great bands. Built to Spill! Neutral Milk Hotel! Mac DeMarco! Wavves! James Blake! Strokes! Mega stoked for the lineup.

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Alan and I both got fanny packs for the trip. YEAH. FANNY PACKS. WANNA FIGHT? Luckily mine is from Herschel so you know it’s *totally ok* and definitely *not lame*. I can’t bring my giant expensive camera which is SUCH A BUMMER so I’ll have to settle for a nifty little point and shoot. A hat and sunglasses is always a good choice because I hear Atlanta is very hot. And then best of all, Shaky Knees has an app with a real-time festival map that uses your location. NEATO.

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THEN, on day 3, we’re going to seek out some trails on the Appalachian Trail. It’s about 2 hours away from our hotel, so we’ll get up early, rent a car and drive out and see some natural beauty. I’m really excited, and really intimidated.  It’s gonna be sick. Neither of us has done a trip with these ambitions (two days of music festival and THEN hiking?) but we’re eager for the challenge.

(Top graphic by me, with peach illustrations found here. Reference is Mountain Goats, h/t to my friend Jay for pointing that out)

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Too damn many fitness trackers

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It’s entirely possible that nobody needs a fitness tracker. After all, people have been existing without them for a very long time. The last time I had a successful weight loss campaign, I counted calories manually and entered them in a blog. These days I use My Fitness Pal, which is convenient and mobile, but still flawed and non-intuitive. The disparity between what MFP tells me and the exercise machines at the gym tell me — or even MapMyWalk (also untrustworthy), is such a headache that I feel like my only solution is to just not give a shit, or to get a fitness tracker, as so many of you have these days.

When I bought my Canon 70D, I researched for months and months. When I bought my Toyota Corolla, I’d researched maybe a couple days. For a fitness tracker I really would like to not do any research and just have people tell me what to get, because there are too many options and they all seem to do almost the same thing. So it’s gonna have to come down to me and my preferences. Almost everything I’ve read says the Fitbit Charge HR is the way to go. But no matter what I’ve read about how it’s great and it has all these capabilities, I’m just not at all drawn to it. It looks clunky, like a tracking device in old school Star Wars. Also, the caller ID feature is laughably non-appealing. Jawbone was the first one I’d ever heard of, and it seems to have come a long way. It seems like a good tracker, but again there’s something about it that I don’t like. It looks a little dumb and poorly designed, like a tracking design out of prequel-era Star Wars.

The Misfit seems totally different a little weird to me. Like, maybe a tracker that they’d have in the new Star Wars movie (you know they would, c’mon). It’s gotten good reviews, and it’s the cheapest of all these up there, AND it has the versatility to be worn on your person in any way imaginable (including as a necklace, which seems silly). It is waterproof, unlike the former two devices, and tracks sleep and calories like the rest. It seems like a great device, and it should be a no brainer. But I also don’t like the look of it. I like functionality as well as style, and I’m afraid the Misfit Shine doesn’t really have both. However, the Activite Pop certainly does. It’s the best looking fitness tracker out there. Oddly analog though, for a digital device, and apparently doesn’t store data for very long at all (you have to sync it with the app every day, which would probably not be a bother, as I have my phone on me most hours of the day). It tracks sleep, activity, swimming, sleep, all that. I’m not really sure why I want a waterproof tracker; I don’t really swim that much, but I might if I knew what it was doing for my fitness. Can’t really think which fictional universe this watch belongs in.

All these machines and apps seem to me to be arbitrary, at the end of the day. Every method I’ve tried using as a form of calorie counting gives me different results. All I really want is a device that can tell me with near-accuracy how much I’m burning. Because I’ve been working hard, and I want to see the cold hard numbers (because I still want to eat pizza). Right now it’s looking like the pop. And, worry not about what that means for my new watches. I’ll just wear all of them at once, and convince myself that I’m being cool.

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It’s Gonna be May

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I tend to think of May as my year marker. I was born in May, so that makes sense. And of course some other stuff happened in May. So now I can measure the years of my life, and the years of my marriage by the same convention. Handy! In the last 12 months, I had more personal growth than ever before. The me from a year ago would probably admire this me now. And there were so many significant things that I didn’t even talk about on here. Well let’s fix that now shall we?

  • I got married to my favorite person in the world, and we went and saw some really cool shit. 
  • In September I had an eye-opening experience with the outdoors and my photography hobby in the Upper Peninsula for my sister-in-law’s wedding.
  • In December, I bought a car. One for an adult!
  • I got a second job in February. An extremely exciting one. A year ago I was on a performance plan at work (i.e. on the chopping block) and super strapped for cash. These 12 months have seen me grow into a person who’s not only capable, but excels at her jobs (and makes sick ca$h money).
  • I got a TATTOO (which I will absolutely be talking about on here soon).
  • My parents and I and all of our coworkers left the historic Star Tribune building for a bright and shiny new offie, and it was sad.
  • I got my new camera which feels like a thousand opportunities every time I hold it.

On the not as sunny side, my depression was really bad a lot of the time. As of now, I haven’t really had a meltdown in a good long time, and now that I’m exercising regularly and eating healthily, hopefully it will go a long way. Depression has always been something that I liked about myself, because I thought it made me special. But it’s such a shitty way to go through life, and I want to get better.

What will my 28th year bring? Well, I’ve got a thousand adventures I want to embark on, including one really huge one. And you’ll always know, because I love this blog and I want it to grow. Happy May!

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Walk 2

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I took a walk on Monday night before Alan got home, though it was really more of a photo hike. Minnehaha creek is lined by a paved parkway (on some sides) for both bikes and pedestrians. I’ve lived by it my whole life and every time I walk along it, it’s a calm, satisfying feeling. Especially in the evening. Especially. Plus, it’s like a little fairy forest! I used the handy MapMyWalk app which let me know it took 90 minutes to walk 3 miles. I took the same walk last night and it was half that time. Probably because of no camera. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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See? Fairy forest. It was a perfect spring evening, and I was nostalgic for this time alone in nature as soon as it was over.

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See Walk 1.

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Walk 1

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In the newest edition of “Caroline Tries to be Healthy for a Little While” (see previous editions here, here, and here), I’ve been taking lots of walks, in addition to going to the gym like every day (except for Saturday and Sunday, when I took extra long walks). I have expressed many desires many times to simply be healthy and to eat well, and part is going fine, but I’m also feeling very impatient and want to lose weight, like, now. I don’t only want to lose weight, but I want to be strong too. I want to lift shit. Anyway, I feel good about this momentum, and I will write more about that on a later blog.

In the meantime, I’ll share some photos from Sunday night’s walk, which we took in favor of forgoing Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley (I know! Why?) .
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I’m enjoying the VSCO presets on these. These look like a perfect spring evening to me. A little hazy, balmy, and peaceful.
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