Bikes and Full Bellies

Day Two on Hilton Head Island did not disappoint. I was up early enough to catch the sunrise, so I made some coffee, grabbed my bike, and then promptly turned around. It was cold, even for a Minnesotan, and the wind was strong, so I opted out of a mouthful of sand and decided to enjoy the morning inside. After finishing my coffee, I decided to bundle up and go for a run. It took a few minutes to warm up, but it ended up being a perfect way to start the day. I ran down to the beach first to check it out and had to run back quickly because the strong winds were really whipping the sand around. There were many friendly people out running and walking, so it was fun to start the day on a cheerful note!

Empty beach this morning!

After waiting for the rest of the family to wake up and eat breakfast, we decided to go on a bike ride! As part of Hilton Head’s conservation mindset, biking is a common mode of transportation. There are bike paths everywhere, so we decided to take the 7-mile trek down to another beach where there were many shops and restaurants. My mom, dad, Carol, Daniel, John, Peter, Aaron, and myself were those that went on the adventure.

Not many cooperative bike riders for the pic!


The seven mile trek took approximately an hour, so by the time we got to the beach, everyone was ready for some food! We chose a local joint called Daniel’s and had the opportunity to get some seafood! They also had a buy-one-get-one deal so Johnny was pumped that he could get TWO 3/4 pound burgers. That guy can pack in the food! Any time you are on the coast or have an opportunity to have fresh fish tacos, I would highly recommend it. The tacos I had were SO good; what a treat!

10/10 would recommend

Everyone left the restaurant with full bellies and we continued our adventure by checking out the new beach. However, the wind was also strong on this side of the island, so we quickly turns around before we all had tons of sand in our hair. You can tell it was cold because we Minnesotans are all bundled up! Even though it was 60 degrees, the wind made it a pretty chilly day! It was still fun to be in a new place and feel the sun on our faces.


Serious wind!

The boys left after checking out the beach and the rest of us stayed to check out the shops in the area. A few of us grabbed a souvenir or two, and the made the 7- mile trek back home. Since we had left in the morning, the clouds cleared up and revealed clear, sunny skies! The only downfall on the day was all of our sore butts; the bikes are pretty nice, but the seats were pretty rough! On the way back, we passed a few golf courses which is what Hilton Head is known for. You see golfers everywhere here!  Despite the chilly weather, we had a great afternoon adventure! 


After relaxing, golfing, and/or playing rook, we all too the trek to Golden Corral, a Keranen vacation tradition! We have been going to the Goldan Corral for many years, whenever we have been able to find it. Most of the time we have gone in Florida, but whenever we can find it in a city we travel to, it is a bonus! The Goldan Corral is a buffet that has a grill station where you can get steak or ribs and other high quality meats. It is honestly amazing to observe how much food my brothers can eat and how much it makes them happy. 

So many empty plates, so many full bellies!


The also have a legit dessert station and all of the kids were running back for all-you-can-eat ice cream, gummy bears, cotton candy, and other treats. They even have a chocolate fountain to dip things in! It is thepitome of American gluttony but you’ve got to indulge every once in awhile! For all of the first-timers, we heard many rave reviews! I love seeing how happy food makes everyone, especially my family! Tomorrow we are hoping to have another beach day, so we will see how the weather cooperates!

Temperance River (Tofte, MN)

In honor of the end of the semester and my last weekend in the US before Thailand, Nick and I headed up to Tofte for the weekend. We had a ton of fun with Grandma and Grandpa hiking and walking around Grand Marais. To cap off the end of the weekend we decided to head to the Temperance River to enjoy one last hike. The gusting winds from the morning had died down and the sunny evening ended up being the perfect temperature.

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A beautiful sunny evening

The Temperance River is different than most hikes on the North Shore because there are not really any safety measures in place on the edges of the “cliffs”.  If you wanted to bring kids to this river, they would definitely need to be on a leash or something because it would be so easy for them to tumble off the edge. Even as I approached the edge to take a photo, I would hear Grandma say “Pippy!!!” in a warning tone. It was very reminiscent of the Grand Canyon and Red Rock.

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It was so nice to get away for the weekend and spend some time up north in the cool, fresh air before I spend the month in hot, humid Thailand. Plus, I got to spend the weekend with some of my favorite people! It was awesome to remember that you do not need to go to the other side of the world to see some amazing things. I have realized how lucky I am to get to do both!

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Carlton Peak (Tofte, MN)

Ever since my grandparents finished their “retreat” up in Tofte, Minnesota, the north shore has become a fun place to get away for the weekend.  There has been many fun trips up to the North Shore in the past year, but in January 2016, it was especially great.  Maria, Beth, and I headed up for a quick weekend.  Grandma and Grandpa were not able to make it due to their move from Dassel to Delano, so we got the “retreat” to ourselves for the weekend.  However, we weren’t really alone because when we walked up the sidewalk to get into the cabin, we heard a, “Hi girls!!” come out of nowhere.  After a mini panic attack, we realized that it was just their new doorbell that has a motion sensor and a video camera on it.  We were greeted by the doorbell upon all of our coming and goings, so it was almost like grandma and grandpa were there! Our plans for a crazy weekend quickly changed… 🙂

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Did you even go on a trip if you didn’t take a selfie?

There are many, many different hikes up on the North Shore but not all of them are accessible in the winter.  Grandpa recommended Carlton Peak because it was close by and offered a great view(s).  You definitely need snowshoes if you are going to do this hike because it is pretty steep and it was nice to have the metal prong to get stable footing.  If you do not have snowshoes, you can rent a pair for a pretty reasonable price from the outfitter across from Bluefin Bay.

It was a chilly, grey day and none of us had done the hike before, so we didn’t really know what to expect.  The trail head (pictured below) did not reveal what we were going to see just around the bend.

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The best travel/hiking partners

After entering the forest, we quickly realized that we stumbled upon perfect conditions for majestic views. It had been pretty warm and snowy the day before we came up and then the temperature dropped really fast which froze all of the snow onto the trees. After rounding the first bend, we all stopped to just look around. It was so beautiful. The trees were so tall and were covered with snow.  The trail through the woods resembled a path to some great lands or castle in a fantasy novel. It probably took us 20 minutes to walk a tenth of a mile because around every corner was a new view that we needed to take 100 pictures of.

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Courtesy of Beth Tormanen

This hike up the “mountain” is really fun.  There are many different views and terrains that you get to go over. If I remember correctly it is just over a mile one-way.  It is very steep at many points and you will think you are almost to the top at least 4 times before you actually get there, but keep going because the view at the top is worth it.  As you get to the top, there are a few different viewing spots so you can decide to do one or all of them.  We came across a little opening in the path and saw the light, literally, and decided that this place was our summit.  The sun was shining, the snow was bright, and the air was crisp. The view was crazy; there was a cool mix of trees, houses, and lakes with Lake Superior being the main focal point. As we plopped down in the snow at the edge of this ledge, we looked at each other as if to say, “Is this real life?! Is this my life?! How are we lucky enough to see this?!”. No conversation was needed to say what we were thinking.

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This is one of my favorite photos. Ever. It captures the moment so perfectly. The definition of content. Thanks Beth!

As we looked around, all I could think was, “I don’t want this moment to end!” Maria once told me when we were parasailing in Texas, “Take it all in because pretty soon it is going to be over!” It is such a good reminder to be fully present where ever you are. It is over so quickly. Thankfully, these amazing moments become amazing memories and these memories are what urge us to travel and experience more amazing moments.   It’s a pretty unreal cycle. I am excited to create new memories on top of Carlton Peak this summer!

Las Vegas

April 2015 and March 2016

If you are someone who only thinks of gambling and drinking when you think of Las Vegas, keep reading, I was just like you! If you told me a few years ago that I would go to Las Vegas twice in one year, I definitely would not have believed you.  However, after my past two trips, I would tell anyone that Las Vegas is an awesome place for a fun vacation.

My favorite thing about Las Vegas is that it is an awesome access point. You can stay off the strip at a nice resort or hotel, visit many different national parks close by, eat at any number of delicious restaurants, spend a day checking out the Strip, shop at hundreds of different stores, and enjoy nice weather.  On top of all of that, cheap flights and amenities make Las Vegas very affordable if you don’t participate in drinking or gambling. Also, the town of Las Vegas is actually very small, so everything you want to get to is very close; a lot of times you do not even need to get onto a freeway. If you stay off the strip, Las Vegas feels similar to Orlando; you can lay by the pool and relax and there are many fun things to do in the area.

The best parts of both Las Vegas trips were the day trips to national parks in the area (kind of). In April 2015, we took a day trip to the Grand Canyon, but it is a four hour car ride there and back, so it makes for a long day.  However, one look at the Grand Canyon made it worth it.  It was a beautiful day and we were able to hike our way along the rim while shedding a few years off of our mother’s lives. (We never actually were that close to the edge, I promise). When you look out into the canyon, you almost get dizzy because it is so, so vast.  It is one of those sites that you can almost not even believe that it is real it is so amazing. It should definitely be on your bucket list if you have not seen it.

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“You guys are way too close to the edge!!” -Mom

This past March we decided to go to Red Rock Canyon National Park before I had to head back to Minnesota because it was a lot closer (only 30 minutes from Las Vegas). I would compare Red Rock to an adult playground.  The rocks are spread out and vast enough that you could run around and hike for hours.  It is definitely somewhere I would love to visit again and just pack a lunch and spend the entire day climbing.  The views at Red Rock are also stunning; there is a lot of contrast between different colors in the rocks as well as lots of depth and variety. There are also some hikes in the park to little waterfalls or hieroglyphics if you want something more structured (or if you are with kids and you need a break from worrying about them falling off a large cliff). The hikes we went on were pretty short, but it was fun to switch it up.  Put a kid on your back for an added workout!  If you are looking for something closer to Las Vegas but still beautiful and interactive, Red Rock is a great option. I can’t wait to go back!

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So fun to all be together again!
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We got to run around on these rocks all day!
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“Go faster!” -Sophia