Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

If you can’t tell by now, Mike and I really enjoy a good road trip. Over the last few years we have taken our able and willing Subaru Forester all over from northern Michigan, Raleigh, and New Orleans to Houston, Austin, and Dallas. In all the miles we have put on the road we have learned a lot of things about how to make the most of these times. It’s not only about arriving to the destination, but about creating fun and inspirational moments that you will remember forever. The beauty of America is the wide expanse and how diverse various regions are from vegetation to geology to culture. Go 250 miles in any direction, and I promise you will find a piece of our country that you have never seen before. It is a really exciting thing.

I have always felt that getting in a car offers an opportunity to see things you never would otherwise. When I was growing up, my parents didn’t always have the money to fly us for family trips (my first flight was when I was 13) so instead we would do 2-3 day road trips to visit family in Cape Cod or Florida. It was always fun and exciting.

When we did Mille Mitten we realized that you don’t always have to take the highway. Sometimes it’s more meaningful to take your time getting to your destination. This time we decided to make some fun pit stops along the way by using the app Roadtrippers. If you have not seen it, we highly suggest downloading it and using it on your next trip. It has made our goal of seeing and finding something new extremely possible.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

This time we decided we wanted to see some of North Carolina. After we decided to make our move to Raleigh permanent, we knew we would need to make it a priority to find new places for adventures. We know North Carolina offers it’s own unique beauty. It was sad to let go of Lake Michigan, but we knew we could find new soul filling places in this state. Thus, I have been making a list of places to discover and explore. First on that list was Hanging Rock State Park.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

Neither Mike or I have lived near the mountains, so first up on our list was to explore the Blue Ridge. I wanted to find an epic view and Hanging Rock offered that. On our trip down we drove from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Beckley, West Virginia (just north of the Virginia border) and stayed the night. We woke up and drove 2 hours south through the Appalachians and landed at Hanging Rock before coming into Raleigh.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

The day was hazy, but not warm. It felt as if it was the first cool day in the mountains in quite a while. Everything was lush from a lot of rain and humidity, but the air had that first wave of fall on it. It was perfect. The mist rose above the edge of the mountains. By the time we reached Hanging Rock the mist was subsiding. We headed down to the waterfalls with the dogs and let them explore and have a good romp in the water to cool off after being stuffed in a car. They loved it and so did we.

While walking amongst the falls I felt really lucky to call this state our new home. I felt like I had truly come home. Have you ever felt that feeling? It is so magical and warming.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

After the falls we put the dogs back in the car so we could hike to the epic hanging rock view. We were worried about letting them explore too much because of the cliffs. It is an environment they are not used to because it is different from northern Michigan.

Mike and I began the 1.3 mile hike up the mountain, which was absolutely one of the best hikes I have done in a while. It was rugged and really fun to leap between rocks and walk along the cliffs.

The rock formations along the wall were gorgeous. As someone who is incredibly in love with the Earth and how it was formed, I was loving the textures and colors coming from these formations. I just kept stopping to just take it all in (and catch my breath). Poor Mike thought I was crazy.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

When we finally reached the top I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of North Carolina. The view was out of this world and may only be topped by our time in Cape Town when we hiked Lion’s Head. The colors were something only North Carolina can offer with the blue haze over the mountains, the lush green below, and the multi layered quartz under our feet. It was one of the most inspiring things I have seen this year.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

We spent a solid hour just sitting and watching the view and letting it soak in that this is our new home. We get to enjoy this now, and we felt so happy about this choice we had made.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

I realized while sitting and watching the light mist and fog roll through the valleys that life truly is a grand adventure. We may choose a path ourselves, but we never know where it will lead and what beauty will really lie on the otherside. No matter the sweat and struggle along the way the reward of that is sweet and beautiful when we follow our hearts.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

Getting to see that view and experience such a gorgeous place only 2 hours north of Raleigh made me realize how intentional we must be about making life what we want. Each day we have choices about how stressed the day will make us and how we will live out where we find ourselves in life. It made Mike and I really begin to talk about our perspective on this new chapter in life. We set goals of spending more weekends getting out to new, beautiful places and focusing on enjoying the morning without urgency. It felt good to roll out of the mountains and into Raleigh with a clear head ready for this next stage of our journey.

Hanging Rock State Park |  The Fresh Exchange

I hope you an amazing Tuesday and are finding time for yourself these days heading into a new season. There is always opportunity to reset and change direction. We just have to make it happen, right?!

On Arriving on Time

Right On Time  |  The Fresh Exchange

To begin, I am sorry for the radio silence. Packing up our life up north and driving south and seeing people before we left was very consuming and taxing. Sometimes I have found that it is best for me to simply do what I need as a human in order to be better. Sometimes that means stepping away for a few days and letting the quiet takeover in order to let life happen and fall into place. Though my head is still scattered from packing up life and arriving in NC (not to mention we move into our new home tomorrow), I feel ready to be back again.

Right On Time  |  The Fresh Exchange

Leaving Traverse City this time was much easier than I expected. If I am honest and without disrespect to any of our friends or family, Traverse City was not where I belonged. My heart and soul for the first time in my life felt at ease with leaving. Yes, I will miss the days of jumping off the boat, the chill of fall, and the smell of the rain coming over the lake, but sometimes we just know when our heart has moved to another place.

Right On Time  |  The Fresh Exchange

Since May, life has felt extremely transitional. It was only a month ago that we knew where we would be living when we came back to Raleigh. It left me anxious in ways I never expected. Though I tried to fully live in the moment and enjoy having little to be responsible for, I still felt this anxiety about the next step and next chapter. Though I am not a planner I still like to see what’s on the horizon. I am not someone who can go on a trip without an outline for life. I need to know I will have a space that I can call home, so living life for 3 months without knowing weighed on me.

Right On Time  |  The Fresh Exchange

So, when we packed up our life in Traverse City, I felt I was finally on my way to my next chapter. This thing I had been waiting for began to feel real. Sure home ownership has its own stresses, but I feel this is where I am supposed to be. This is the adventure I have been wanting. As we sat and signed our documents for the new house, I felt ready to begin all that is ahead.

To close out one chapter properly, I wanted to share a few images from summer. We still have some lingering posts from this summer’s events and last moments, but these were taken during our last warm day in Traverse City. It felt like the perfect farewell to a place that has been the background to a lot of our life. Next summer will be different; I already feel it. I am not sure we will get the same amount of time, but I do know we will go back. I’m just not sure what it will look like next year.

Right On Time  |  The Fresh Exchange

Beginning the years of being home owners means other things will change. I love travel, but I think it may be time to become a more permanent fixture in our new city. To do that we have to be here. We have to know what it is like to be here, and I am ready for the challenge.

This week, you will find peaks into our new home and our life here in Raleigh as we settle. I cannot wait for you to join us as we embark on this new life adventure. It all feels so right.

Items for the Home

For Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

Closing on our house on Monday is seeming all the more real and the thought of spending the next few months putting our space together is becoming far more present in our minds. After renting for so long it feels exciting to really begin investing in things in our lives and creating our space. That being said I wanted to share a few items that I have been loving of of late that may be making an appearance in our new space this Fall as we begin to settle in.

1. Roadhouse Leather Chair from CB2
2. Mazama Serving Bottle from Old Faithful Shop
3. Oval Shopper from Steven Alan
4. Major Table Lamp from Jayson Home
5. Steel Plantar with Brass House Numbers from Schoolhouse Electric
6. Clay Cup from Huzza
7. Ceramic Containers from Huzza

Are there any fun home items you have had your eye on lately? Would love to hear what has caught your eye lately.

Have an awesome Wednesday friends.

Our Last Weekend Up North

Summer's Last Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

There are some weekends that feel too good. This one was one of those. It was one that make you feel alive, present, and aware of the relationships and the things that honestly matter. We headed north on Thursday after we tied up work for the week and went to Harbor Springs. This little town is special for many reasons, but this weekend we would be holding A Simple Evening with two of my favorite local companies, Huzza and American Spoon. I was so excited to see how the dinner came together as this is something we have been talking about around here for over a year. We will be sharing the full dinner later this month, but there was no way I couldn’t give you a few snaps from my iPhone during my recap of the weekend.

Summer's Last Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

Summer's Last Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

Summer's Last Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

The dinner came out perfect, just as these dinners somehow always do even with the bumps along the way. No matter the stress and detail put into these evenings, they always come together in their own special and unique way. That moment when you sit down for the meal with a great drink in hand as the sun fades behind you is a moment I cherish. It’s a moment you find yourself laughing with those at the table about the whole thing coming together so beautifully even though it was raining that morning. It is special to say the least and probably one of my favorite things we do here on the blog.

Summer's Last Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

Summer's Last Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

Summer's Last Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

The rest of the weekend was completely relaxed and like nothing really mattered outside of the time we had that weekend. We didn’t talk about packing our car and heading South or even the pile of work that some how still needed to be done before we disappeared into our road trip back to Raleigh on Friday. There were hundreds of ways we could have spent this last weekend, but for me going to Harbor Springs was the best place we could have spent our last few days here. Sure Harbor is adorable and cute, but it is about the people there for me. Spending time with family and friends there always feels right.

I was so excited to see how the dinner all came together as this is something we have been talking about around here for over a year. We will be sharing the full dinner later this month, but there was no way I couldn't give you a few snaps from my iPhone during my recap of the weekend.

I was so excited to see how the dinner all came together as this is something we have been talking about around here for over a year. We will be sharing the full dinner later this month, but there was no way I couldn't give you a few snaps from my iPhone during my recap of the weekend.

I was so excited to see how the dinner all came together as this is something we have been talking about around here for over a year. We will be sharing the full dinner later this month, but there was no way I couldn't give you a few snaps from my iPhone during my recap of the weekend.

To close out the weekend we met my parents at the sailboat for one last sail of the summer. It was bittersweet in a lot of ways. We talked about next summer and the things the year still held and what needed to change. It felt good and was the perfect farewell to summer. As the sun disappeared over the peninsula on our last summer weekend, I felt at peace with the closing and ending of this wild, fun, and crazy summer. I watched as the water rippled along the edge of the boat and turned gradients of pinks and blues. I took as many mental pictures as I could of the moment. Right now I feel ready to begin our next chapter, but there is no doubt that my soul is going to ache for these moments in only a few months time.

I was so excited to see how the dinner all came together as this is something we have been talking about around here for over a year. We will be sharing the full dinner later this month, but there was no way I couldn't give you a few snaps from my iPhone during my recap of the weekend.

There will always be something about this place that draws me back. What a good summer and what a good weekend to end on.