Iowa, USA

The irony of this post is truly found in the fact that months before I was in Iowa, I was doing a show that portrayed the beauty and majesty of the world of this melancholy state. However, let it be known, that the appreciation I have for the family that lived within this musical is far greater after having spent a couple of weeks of my life in the, in my opinion, the other dimension state. 

Don’t get me wrong, every state has a certain charisma that is very charming, but Iowa felt different than any other state, and I went to school in Indiana! I also think I might be a little closed minded because I obviously think that Michigan is the superior midwest state. HAHA I promise this isn’t a Michigan love letter blog. I know I talk about Michigan a lot, but I can’t help it! OKAY, I promise we are talking about Iowa.

While we were in Iowa, we spent the majority of our time in Cedar Rapids where we tech-ed the show. Cedar Rapids is known as “City of Five Seasons.” There is a Five Season tree that sits in the middle of the city. Apparently there the fifth season is based on a Biblical principle of the seasons of life and how there is time in Cedar Rapids for all seasons. Here is the direct slogan from the Cedar Rapids website:

Life is the sum of all the seasons with which it is filled. And if we have time to enjoy the things most important to us, life is rich and full indeed.In Cedar Rapids there is time enough… time to enjoy the seasons as they pass. Extra time. Precious time. A fifth season.

The first thing we did when we got to Cedar Rapids was attend the Market After Dark festival. It was so much fun! There was a live band that could be heard throughout the entire city. All of the local vendors had booths! We were exhausted after a long travel day, but it was still such a BLAST!

The most bizarre thing about Cedar Rapids though was that it literally shut down on the weekends. You couldn’t get food. You couldn’t get coffee. AND FORGET about any kind of sight seeing or local activity. However, on the weekdays, there was a lovely market downtown, Newbo City Market, that had a lot of local options. We enjoyed coffee around downtown at the Early Bird, Brewhemia (one of my favorites even though we only went there once), and The Blue Strawberry. One of my favorite lunch spots that we discovered was Café Saint. Pro. We RAN there during a quick lunch break, but the lavender lemonade was some of the best I’ve ever had.

We also had such a fun night at the Rock the Block series at the Newbo Market. We enjoyed live music as well as food from local vendors inside the market. Afterwards, we enjoyed bull riding at the Rocks Bar and American Grill.

Other restaurants we checked out in Cedar Rapids were 30 Hop and Granite City, and Black Sheep. 30 Hop was a cute and honestly very good brewery in the middle of nowhere. They had rooftop seating as well as outdoor seating on the first level. It was the first place we went when we got to Cedar Rapids, and it was such a nice introduction to a quaint city with many little surprises. Granite City was a restaurant right next to our hotel that had a cheap happy hour and incredible dessert but not a lot more. I also took advantage of the Coldstone right next to our hotel for a lot of late night treats. Black Sheep was an upscale restuarant located downtown. All of the food and drinks were SO yummy! It was the location for our opening night party so we had such a fun time!

However, the best activity we did in Cedar Rapids was the Cedar Ridge Winery! It was such a fun afternoon, and the wine was SO GOOD. I had a delicious BBQ chicken pizza which was just as good. We sat out on the patio and they had live acoustic music. Of course we had a mini photo shoot in the vineyards. This outing was definitely the highlight of all of Iowa.

Our next city in Iowa was Sioux City. Sioux City, is right on the boarder of Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska so we technically stayed in South Dakota in Dakota Dunes. This was mostly a week of relaxing for me since it was right after tech in Cedar Rapids. We spent some time walking around a nature reserve, Adam’s Homestead and State Nature Preserve, which was a nice activity to break up the week. We went to a Table32 for a nice dinner one night. The food and drinks were great. It had a sports bar mixed with upscale dining. We had a great time! Other than that, I spent a lot of time at the patio outside our hotel or at the hot tub and pool. The last day, we went to a coffee shop called Stone Bru. It was so cute and aesthetically pleasing. I wish I had gone more, but the lavender lemonade I got was delicious!

All in all, Iowa was very quaint and full of fun surprises, BUT ready for the next post because it was one of my favorite cities on tour!

XOXO,

Courtney 

Minnesota: Title Coming Soon

There are so many ways I could begin this post. Minnesota: the tale of yet another state trying to steal Michigan’s “Lake” brand. Minnesota: more ferris wheels than we bargained.

Our rehearsal process and first month of tour started in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a place I had never visited, but was excited to explore. Its state motto boasts that it is the “land of 10,000 Lakes” (fun fact though, depending on the definition of “lake” Wisconsin has more and OBVIOUSLY Michigan has the Great Lakes). We spent the majority of our time in rehearsal, but when we had a day off, there were a plethora of activities we could fill it with.

One of the first stops was the Mall of America. Honestly, it was very cool and was an easy way for me to spend my entire first pay check! The amusement park (which UNIRONICALLY was Nickelodeon Universe) was very very cool, but other than that it was just a giant mall. Of course we had to go because how could you NOT, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t necessarily the coolest thing we did.

Even though it took everything in me to support the lakes in Minnesota (a Michigan native knows what a real lake is like), I visited two different lakes. The first, Minnehaha Falls, was more of a tourist attraction, but it was still very beautiful. It boasted a 53 foot waterfall, which was gorgeous. After admiring the falls, We took a short hike (hike is honestly a generous term, it was more of a nature walk) along the river to a small lake. This was such a peaceful afternoon. After visiting Minnehaha Falls, we went kayaking at Como Lake. This was perfect. Everything was still and peaceful. We were the only people on the lake and we couldn’t have asked for a better day.

On a total different level, we were also lucky enough to be in Minneapolis during the State Fair. It was a total blast. We drank, ate cotton candy (I LOVE cotton candy), got BUCKETS and CONES of chocolate chip cookies, and buckets of French fries. We walked the entire fair and and saw everything from the sheep to the ferris wheel!

There were also a good number of restaurants that we were able to visit in our month of Minneapolis. Two of my favorites were Betty Danger’s Country Club and Freehouse. Freehouse was a fun downtown spot that had great food and cocktails. The ambiance was super fun as well. Betty Danger’s was an EXPERIENCE. It has a ferris wheel as well as a mini golf course. AND it had a giant bronze bison. Bison are now my favorite animal. I have been fascinated with them since I took a camping trip out West with my family when I was a little girl and this just confirmed it for me.

One highlight from Minneapolis that must be given due attention is Spyhouse Coffee. (Seriously delicious. I wish we had one in New York, but it is local to Minnesota). My favorite drink was SpyGirl, a lavender latte (which if you know me, you know is my favorite). Another highlight was Gay 90s (a must see spot if you enjoy a wild party night. The music. The drag shows. The dancing. Check. it. out.)

We even got to spend an afternoon in St. Paul (the sister of the Twin Cities) exploring the downtown area. We ran into a fun antique shop and the Capitol building!

Minnesota surprised me honestly. It had a bustling downtown (which I will talk about more in another post) as well as beautiful nature parks and lakes to explore. And maybe the lakes weren’t as pretty as Michigan, but they definitely still caught my eye!

XOXO,

Courtney

Just the Beginning

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I thought a lot about how to start this post and what exactly I wanted to say. I don’t think I’ve perfected it, but at this point, this is what is on my heart to share.

A lot of you know I went on a tour this past year. It was one of the most exciting and challenging things that I have ever done.

I wanted to keep a journal online of all of the cool places we visited and things that I experienced throughout the tour. Now I’m not going to pretend that I’ve ever been good about holding myself accountable with posting on here regularly, but I will say that there were a lot of unexpected factors that eventually made my desire to share my time on the road wane. I don’t think this is the place or even the time to bash experiences or people who made this time difficult, and honestly I don’t need to because I have moved on, but a lot of my joy for traveling and wanting to appear genuine on here and social media was inhibited with the personal and professional struggles that I was experiencing on the road. In fewer words, I needed time to heal and process and cope with everything that had happened. And NOW I am ready and EXCITED to share these experiences with you and hopefully ignite my passion of blogging (or online journaling, whichever you prefer) to continue this habit outside of my quarantined world.

So here we go, as I get to walk down memory lane and reminisce on the exciting adventures and all of the cool places I got to visit and amazing food I got to eat while traveling the country by bus, airplane, and car, I hope you can also find some joy in my seven months on the road!

XOXO,

Courtney

Los Angeles, California (Part 2)

I don’t think there is a time that I have been as happy or laughed as hard as when I visited Los Angeles, California. I was here for two weeks this time around, and got the chance to get to know more of the area and definitely felt more like a “local.” Honestly, looking through these pictures almost three months later fills me with so much joy.

This time I was in LA workshopping the new musical BRAVO with New Musicals Inc. so my evenings were filled with rehearsals. However, the rehearsal schedule was pretty light so we had a lot of time to explore and get to know the area.

For this trip, a lot of my exploring was done with two other Ball State students, Megan and Zack as well as the writers of the show, Cristian, Steven, and Andrew. What a group of people. The experience of this trip is entirely contributed to the people who were there with me. The conversations we all had, both ridiculous and deep and meaningful were SO fulfilling.

We spent the first portion of our trip at a house in Santa Clarita, and it was stunning and so peaceful. The view of the mountains in the back yard was perfect for coffee in the mornings. We spent the next couple of days in Valencia. Where we were treated to. A beautiful pool. In the backyard. We. Were. SPOILED. Seriously it felt like heaven. A lot of times we forgot that we were there to rehearsal because we were enjoying our beautiful surroundings. (Oops!!) Our last stop was in Glendale. I seriously fell in love with this place. The apartment we were staying at was walking distance to the Americana (a beautiful shopping plaza with wonderful shops and restaurants). There was one restaurant we frequented a lot that had THE BEST table side guac.

There were so many favorite memories and places we visited, but I will try to sum them up for you. We went to Ventura beach. It was a little cold, but then the sun came out later in the afternoon and we all got BURNT! Seriously I was a strawberry for two days. It was no joke. We got to visit Disneyland, which was actually pretty magical. We spent the whole day going back and forth between California Adventure Land and Disneyland. I can’t decide which park was my favorite, but I have no doubt that my favorite food was the churro.

The next thing we did that was a test of will power, strength, and tenacity. We climbed the Hollywood Sign. I don’t think I have sweat so much in my entire hike. You think it’s going to be this glamorous trip up to the sign to take some cute pictures, but let me tell you that that is simply not the case. We did make it to the top and it was SO worth it. There was a beautiful view of downtown LA and the Hollywood Sign is pretty spectacular.

A dream come true moment of the trip is when we drove through Beverly Hills and went to The Grove (a gorgeous shopping mall with a farmers market that isn’t really a farmers market because it is actual buildings and is open all of the time, but that’s fine).

A less significant, but also important moment of the trip was seeing Mamma Mia 2. I had never seen the first movie so I binge watched it the hour and a half before the showing we saw. I was literally finishing Mamma Mia in the bathroom of the movie theatre.

I also got to visit the Paramount Lot and walk around to all of the different studios. It was so so so cool! One of the doors to one of the studios was left open so I was even able to peak inside!

I saw Annie at the Hollywood Bowl which was INCREDIBLE. I also got to see a new play called The Legend of Bonny Anne which was simply brilliant.

The actually workshop and reading of the Bravo was also an amazing experience. The cast was all so wonderful, and the intimacy of the reading was really enjoyable. I’ve gotten to work on this script twice, and I really can’t wait to see where it will go and what it will grow to become!

This trip affirmed that at some point in my life I do want to live in Los Angeles. The sky is beautiful. The weather is beautiful. The mountains are beautiful. It really does feel perfect. At the end of trip my heart was so full of friendships, theatre, and adventures! Now, I only experienced bad LA traffic a couple of times, and I am sure I would feel differently about the city if that had happened more often, but for right now, I want to keep this beautiful city as the fairy tale land I have saved in my mind.

Don’t worry! My next couple of posts will be all about New York City and my many adventures here!

XOXO,

Courtney

Los Angeles, California

For my entire life I have dreamt of living in New York City, and (even though it sometimes feels like a living nightmare) it has been incredible. So when I tell you that I also feel in love with Los Angeles, believe me, you are not the only one who is surprised. I was lucky enough to be in LA on two different occasions this summer (Don’t worry, part 2 of this post is coming later this week!), and I made it a personal goal to not let it be too long until I go back again.

My first trip to LA was relatively brief. It was directly following graduation and only lasted about five days. However, we still found time to explore and get familiar with the city.

One of the first things I noticed about LA were the incredibly sunny and clear skies. And the MOUNTAINS. It was breathtaking. It puts you in a better mood just by walking outside. The airbnb that we stayed at had this beautiful porch in the back where I ate breakfast every morning and appreciated the warm weather and sunny skies.

I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful local restaurants and attractions I visited, but this trip was mostly filled with your typical tourist attractions. But let me tell you, they are NOT overrated (at least not seeing them for the first time)!

A couple of the highlights:

  1. Shopping on Melrose. Every store in this shopping district was straight out of the 90’s. Not really my style, but I appreciated it for what it was worth. We did go to this incredible Thai restaurant at the end of the night that made all of the checker print and platform shoes worth it!
  2. Hollywood Walk of Fame and the stars. Super touristy, but I feel like you can’t go to LA without seeing it!
  3. Hamburger Mary’s. We saw an INCREDIBLE drag show here, and the drinks were amazing!
  4. Ate at Hoy-KA (Which means Dangling Leg) on Sunset Boulevard. This was such a cool restaurant. The food was amazing, and you sat at really tall benches and tables so that your feet were dangling the whole time.
  5. Hermosa Beach (One of the locations for La La Land). This was one of my favorite days. The beach was surprisingly cold, but it was just an excuse to visit all of the cute beach shops along the pier.
  6. The Hollywood Sign. We visited on the very last day on the way to the airport. (We literally had all of our luggage with us), but it was still SO COOL. It was crazy to see something that I’ve only seen in pictures and movies. Truly a dream come true.

I loved every second of this trip, and it came to an end all too quickly. I was more than excited to head back at the end of July.

XOXO,

Courtney

New York, New York

I moved to New York City. (AH!) Sometimes I seriously just need to take a breath and let that settle. I.Moved.To.New.York. Nope. It still hasn’t set in.

Okay. First things first. I officially moved to New York at the end of July and into my very own “big girl” New York apartment on August 1st. My INCREDIBLE family came out that weekend and brought the rest of my stuff. Yes, it was an excessive amount. It’s okay. I have a lot of things. We don’t need to comment on it. 😉 However, what we DID comment on were the SIX FLIGHTS of stairs we hauled everything up. And, because I know you’re all dying to know. I DID get it all to fit in my bedroom!

How do I even sum up my first month in the city? Everything has been a whirlwind of stress, insanity, and complete and utter joy. I ‘m working a bunch of temp jobs right now trying to make some money while still auditioning. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. I nanny. I walk dogs. I’m a customer experience rep at Harry’s (They have cold brew ON TAP in two different places in the office). I work as a receptionist. Seriously not one day is even remotely similar to the one before. But I am loving it. That’s not to say the city hasn’t given me some bruises. Yesterday really took it out of me. It was A THOUSAND degrees outside. Everyone on the train was grump because it was hot. I traveled all over the ENTIRE island of Manhattan. The city won on August 28th, but I’m not going to let it get me down. There are days like August 28th where it feels like the whole world is against me, and then there are days like August 19th where I spent the whole day walking through Central Park, enjoying the absolutely BEAUTIFUL world around me, and I am quickly reminded of all of the things about this city that made me fall in love with it.

A brief summary of my August New York Adventures:

  1. Six flights of stairs does get easier, but it takes A WHILE.
  2. Brunch is one of the best things about this city.
  3. Always and I mean ALWAYS find a good market.
  4. Antiquing is fun, but EXPENSIVE.
  5. The Crocodile Lounge IS a dive bar, however you get FREE pizza with ever drink, so I think that’s a win.
  6. The beach is not as great as Michigan, and you have to take an hour and a half long train to get there… but… it is the beach! 🙂
  7. There are flower shops everywhere. Someday I will be able to afford a small $17 bundle every day!

This blog might just turn into a bunch of pictures of the New York skyline because I am obsessed, but I’m not going to complain about it!

XOXO,

Courtney

New Beginnings

 

Well here we are. My annual attempt to get back into blogging. Let’s just hope it sticks this time! 🙂 So much has happened in my life this past year!! Senior year at Ball State was a complete whirlwind. It brought me some of my highest highs and my lowest lows, but I guess that’s life, right?

I am incredibly nostalgic and emotional writing this tonight though because it is the eve of the first day of school at Ball State. What an incredibly bizarre feeling to not be going back to classes for the first time in my entire life. (AH!) I couldn’t be more excited to be living in New York City right now, but I’m also really missing the people who had such an important impact on my life back home and at school. I’m not really sure how to feel…

I’ll give a more complete life updated in the coming posts, but I really wanted to get back on here and make a public promise to start blogging again. I really enjoy it, and want to make it part of my weekly routine. Since graduating, I have had the freedom and ability to actually start setting time aside for myself and my personal interests. (Which has been GREAT!) I have never really put a lot of effort into self-care (or even really believed in the value of it…because if you’re doing what you love every day why do you have to take time to just relax for yourself) BUT now I really value it! Probably because it has let me start to appreciate and take time for the things that are not necessarily doing anything for me except letting me enjoy them. 🙂

Even though blogging hasn’t been a super active part of my life for the past year, it has always been on my mind. I literally have a note saved on my phone of all of my blog post ideas! Some of them are silly, but others I am really passionate about and am excited to write out and share.

With that being said, and in the spirit of self care, AND the promise I am making to myself to blog more, I want to commit to it being just that. A blog. I promise to myself to never have the pressure of making an interesting blog, or curating it to match a certain look or design. I want this to be about my adventures. About the roads life takes me on, the people I meet, and the experiences I get to treasure. SO. Here is to giving myself time to enjoy the things I enjoy in the places I enjoy with the people I enjoy.

Okay…this has turned gross and sappy. Stay tuned for my next post! I will be talking all about the move to the BIG APPLE!

XOXO,

Courtney

 

 Muncie: It’s A Complicated Relationship

Muncie, Indiana and I have a love-hate relationship. While I love my friends, my school, and (parts of) Muncie, it is not on my top ten summer destinations list. However, I found myself traveling back to good ole Muncie for a week long workshop of a new musical I am doing in the fall after only being home for a week. 

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is work on new pieces of theatre. During my time at Ball State I have been lucky enough to work on two new musicals. The first musical, Madworld, was a fairy tale experience. It told the story of Lewis Carroll before he wrote Alice in Wonderland (If you don’t know a lot about this or the speculation that surrounds him and his life, look it up. It is VERY cool!). The musical I worked on last week was a little (actually A LOT) different. Bunkerville is about a post apocalypse society where I played a ferocious mutant killer. (The playwright compared her to Furiosa from Mad Max. Yes, I did have to look up who that was! No, I’ve never seen the movie. Chatacter research? Maybe.) It was so much fun to start bringing this role to life. Throughout the week we learned a ton of music as well as got several different rewrites of the script from the writer, Mark Sonnenblick (who is BRILLIANT! Honestly blown away by him). A lot of great progress was made throughout the week, and I am so excited to continue working on the show throughout the summer and into the fall semester.

During the week there was also a lot of free time for everybody to hang out. I had the best time with everyone. We planned events every night including a game night, pasta night, and a movie night. During the movie night, while binging on popcorn and Oreos, I was first introduced to the wonderful movie Pretty Woman (Truly iconic. Right, Taylor? 😉 )!

I was also able to take advantage of Ball Gym while I was back in Muncie! (I am trying to work out more but we will TRULY see how long that lasts.) We always tried to get up and go to the gym before rehearsals for an early morning workout (and by early I mean like 9:00 so who are we kidding). And I was ALWAYS late (what else is new 🙂 ). One of my favorite parts of the day though was walking through The Quad (a beautiful grassy area between some of the prettiest buildings on campus) to Ball Gym and hearing the birds sing early in the morning.

The week ended with a reading of the show at University Theatre on campus and then a shorter reading at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. Both were very successful and truly showcased not only the wonderful cast of Bunkerville but also Mark’s brilliant work.

All in all, I had an absolutely wonderful week working on some great theatre with some truly wonderful people. And even though I was (maybe too) excited to leave Muncie for the summer, I am looking forward to getting back in the fall for senior year!!

XOXO,

Courtney

Hiking in Michigan

Recently, Nate and I have started to make the effort to go hiking around Michigan more often. It is not a secret that I love West Michigan (and let’s face it, the mitten IS the BEST state) so I am always eager to see more of it! Nate and I don’t get to see each other a lot throughout the year so these hiking trips always mean so much to me. It’s a great time to enjoy the beautiful world around us while also enjoying each other’s company!  (Okay, sometimes we don’t ALWAYS enjoy each other’s company…like when I start back seat driving…but in my defense I am better at navigating 😉 )

Anyway, last week we went to Saugatuck Dune State Park and hiked some of the trials by Felt Mansion. The trails were also right next to a disc golf course if you’re super into that! (Nate loves disc golf but I’m SUPER bad at it 🙂 ). There were a couple of different trails we could have taken, but the one we took ran right into the beach of Lake Michigan. Once we got to the beach, we set up a hammock and listened to the waves beat against the shore (I LOVE listening to the water! It has always been such a soothing sound for me. That’s probably why I wanted to go on a cruise so bad….. BUT enough about THAT. 🙂 ) The weather was SO beautiful and warm, and it didn’t get chilly until the sun started to set.

These hiking trips have shown me a lot more of (Pure 😉 ) Michigan’s beauty. And (fortunately) they have not introduced me to a lot of bugs, which is a good thing, because if there was a big bug epidemic on the trails, I would shut these little trips down very quickly. However, I am really excited for my other adventures as a mountain woman! If anybody knows of any good hiking trails (in Michigan or Indiana) send them my way! I would love to check them out!

XOXO,

Courtney