Last year on Mother’s Day we went on a 36 hour adventure just my mama, Lola, and me. We’re leaving tomorrow for another Mother’s Day getaway, and it has me taking inventory of the past and especially how truly great it was to get away;
I didn’t tell my mom where we were going, not until the day we left. She’s a northern girl and I know she feels more at peace with God when she’s surrounded by creation than in any church congregation on the planet. Lola and I love any place we can climb rocks and be surrounded by trees and collect treasures and take pictures. Heading up north seemed just right.
In the days leading up to this trip I had been so stressed, coming off of back to back work trips and never quite finding my stride after spring break, barely keeping up, letting anything and everything get to me. I needed to get out of the city, with my people, away from other people.
I was dying to point my camera at trees instead of buildings, to see waves crashing on shorelines and feel the wind whip through me as it blows over the sea. I wanted to go where my mother had memories, and where we could create some new ones of our own. And I wanted to go someplace Lola had never been.
It had to be Two Harbors, MN.
We checked in to our hotel after 10pm, but still had to try out the sauna, which lola pronounces by accentuating the ‘u’, saying saouwna, like my mother has always said it. Their similarities are endless. For the record, I say it “sauna”. And I know I know I KNOW I’m a bad mom for letting my then-9-year-old feel the sweat and heat for just a minute…..don’t come at me!!!
We turned our room into a beauty salon and painted each other’s nails and gave my mom her first pore strip treatment, which I couldn’t believe she had never experienced and my mom couldn’t believe I let Lola experience. “Kids don’t need beauty treatments”, she’d say, but then I remember she wasn’t born yesterday and still swears by soap and water to maintain her creamy, youthful skin.
Pore strips are obviously my secret weapon I mean come on
And at 5:16am Lola calls groggily from next to me in bed as a silver stream of light cracks through the thick curtain panels, blinding and stirring her. I get up to close the drapes designed to block out daylight and slide back under the covers to cuddle up next to her nine year old frame, fully expecting her to be already back to sleep, but no. Lola’s eyes are peeled wide open and she grins in the dark lighting up her whole face. “Happy Mothers Day!” she beams. She grabs my face and bursts into a chorus of I-love-yous. I love you more, Thank you, I love you more I tell her, and we both drift back to sleep but not before I say so many silent prayers for this chance, this time I get to spend being HER mom.
When it’s “time to wake up for real” as we say in our house, Lola gave me the most heartfelt gifts. I’ll never tire of class-made coupon books full of favors —
And she pulled up the song “Mom Like Mine” by Megan Trainor on my phone. Oh, you’re not familiar with that one??
You might have a mom, she might be the bomb
But ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
She loving me, loving me, loving me, loving me, love
She love me like nobody else
I’m telling you, telling you, telling you, telling you all
She taught me how to love myself
And yes I am aware that every single Meghan Trainor song sounds exactly the same, which just means they have the same effect on my kid every time and any time, and that’s full-on dance party mode. Also, this song FEATURES MEGHAN TRAINOR’S MOM ::heart eyes::
Her love’s ’til the end, she’s my best friend
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
Cutest mom and grandma award!
The apple doesn’t fall far from the cute grandma tree.
Portrait of a photographer ready to hit the trail and shoot all the nature.
But first, BRUNCH
All happy and full we then headed down to the water’s edge. Not hard to do, in a town that borders Lake Superior.
We climbed and carved our names in rocks warmed by the sun.
Lola’s “hiking tutu” is an inspiration
Many of my most precious possessions in life are rocks from places where I’ve stood in wonder of the world around me. I have jars of them in my house, but collecting them is only half the fun; holding one in my hand can make me feel instantly more grounded and at ease. I remembered that on this trip.
On to Gooseberry Falls because Lola LOVES waterfalls the most, and would you look at these adorable weirdos walking backwards on the path? Because apparently the health benefits of walking backwards are like next level?? Is this true??? Also, pls note Lola’s hair change. Very important.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy
I loved spending time with my mom on this trip. That’s cheesy I know but this whole trip made me conscious of the notion that we aren’t getting any younger, and if we’re lucky enough to have our parents still around it’s important to include them in our lives. That’s a word for someone, whoever you are reading this. Call your dad or mom!
“Take my picture here!” she said “I want to show my friends these roots!!
And she’s MY superhero!
Getaways are a great excuse to follow Lola around with my camera ❤
And here she is barely in the waterfall at all, but even being this close scared my mom half to death!
It was a beautiful bright sunny Mother’s Day at the falls.
For better or worse, I love to pack as many things as I can into one day. So after the falls we trekked to the lighthouse at Split Rock, me hoping to instill a little Minnesota history into my 4th grader by telling her some of the stories I learned about this lighthouse growing up. I swear my family must have visited this place over a dozen times, but maybe it was never this early in the season because when we arrived this time we saw a sign:
But the thing about the north shore is that even in the off season, there is so much beauty and history here. And the breathtaking views are open to the public 24/7, 365.
Near the site of this shipwreck the air was extra icy (I don’t believe in coincidences!!!) so, back on the road we went away from the ghosts!!
Until we saw something worth a pitstop:
If you come over for dinner there is a strong likelihood you will be served water in a glass that housed Welch’s jelly in the 1980’s. Possibly even this one.
I adore this house you drive past coming back from Two Harbors. It’s homes like these that could almost make me leave Minneapolis, so charming and historic, perfectly situated on the lake.
There is nothing better than Pizza Lucé for dinner after a long day outdoors, and the Duluth location never disappoints.
I craned my neck to see the sunset on the drive back to Minneapolis. “It’s okay if you stop” my mom said; after watching me photograph anything and everything that interests me for 36 hours straight, it’s like she could read my mind. I pulled the car off to the shoulder and took the shot I needed to feel complete.
The speed limit up here is 70 miles an hour. Standing on the shoulder taking the photo below of my mother in the rental jeep, cars racing by so fast my hair blows wild in their backdraft and the heat from their tires, I felt like this could be a metaphor for how I had been living lately: standing on the sidelines while life passed by at a speed so fast I couldn’t keep up. Why is it going so fast?, I wondered. And, why do I feel like I’m holding my breath waiting for it to be over?
Not to be a complete and total dower, but if you ever want to get sad just google “why does life fly by so fast?”. Turns out people all over the world are wondering the exact same thing, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it, which is a kind of comforting thought to accept. Life is over before we know it. We are just a vapor, a series of breaths. Knowing that and acknowledging it there on the side of the road is probably why this trip with my mom and Lola felt so nourishing….it was like a tremendous exhale.
Because life on earth is too short not to breathe and let things go.
And if you’re feeling like your life is flying by and you’re barely hanging on and you’re holding your breath too, I highly suggest getting away for a day or two BUT if that’s not an option, hiding one’s phone for 24-36 hours seems to deliver a similar desired effect. Can’t hide your phone? Delete all social media apps and turn off the wifi. Okay that’s my free advice portion of this blog.
This week I did a time-lapse of my wax plant opening and WOW I felt so restored after 24 hours “away”
I want to write more here because so much is happening and I don’t want it all to fly by without recognition. It is truly all so beautiful, even the bad stuff has so much to teach us, and I want to write about this wonderful life before I forget. Sometimes I write with words, sometimes with photos… my heart is a collector with a memory detector, combing the beach for moments to treasure away forever. This blog is where I’ll keep the good ones.
Especially if it’s ice cream in the parking lot at 10pm on Mother’s Day!
Oh and Happy Mother’s Day, MOM! You made me think it might be pretty great to be a mom, too — thanks for everything, I LOVE YOU!!!