travel

Adventures at Art Prize

Paul and I had the pleasure of heading to the west side of Michigan yesterday for a friend’s birthday party, allowing us to sneak into Grand Rapids on the way home to check out Art Prize.

I have referenced my love for Grand Rapids in previous posts, but I love the city more and more with each visit, and this time was no exception.

Art Prize is an art contest in which artists from around the world create, install, build, etc. art throughout the entire city; in restaurants, businesses, hotels, on the street, in the river, and the public vote on the winner.

This was my first Art Prize experience, and it did not disappoint. Image

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bridge color

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This guy, who was in Founder Brewing Co., was a little bit scary. Very cool at the same time because it was made entirely of natural materials like moss, sticks, etc. (except for the light up eyes).

My angle could have been better on this photo, but he is actually fishing...

My angle could have been better on this photo, but he is actually fishing…

There was an amazing Buddah fixture that looked to be made of hanging tiles

There was an amazing Buddah fixture that looked to be made of hanging tiles

buddah close

Buffalo sculpted out of wood

Buffalo sculpted out of wood

My favorite of the day

My favorite of the day

panda close

There was also a baby panda :)

There was also a baby panda ūüôā

The pandas were made out of bike tires

The pandas were made out of bike tires

I am not even sure what this was made out of. Some sort of media art, but it was beautiful.

I am not even sure what this was made out of. Some sort of media art, but it was beautiful.

The art was amazing, but it was invigorating to see the city so alive with energy.  There were people every where! Grand Rapids always has a great vibe, but adding in street vendors and performers gave it a whole new atmosphere.

Juggler

Juggler

juggler bw

street player

And then there is the architecture in Grand Rapids.  There are streets that, to me, feel like Chicago collided with Europe.  It really is a beautiful downtown.

parsley

lantern and molding

police

fire escape

windows

black and white building

Beautiful Grand Rapids

Beautiful Grand Rapids

My Adventures in Normal, IL, and Unexpected Inspiration

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Notice the, “You’re Beautiful”, note on the building ūüôāImageImage

I had the pleasure of traveling to Normal, IL, this past week for work, and I must say, it was quite a pleasant surprise. 

If you know anything about the mid-west, a.k.a. the Bible Belt, you probably know that there are some spots in our fine cluster of states that aren’t so exciting. I expected Normal to be one of those spots. ¬†It was actually like a mini-East Lansing, with it being a college town, home to the beautiful Illinois State University,and a small downtown with a friendly, artsy feel.

I took my phone with me on my morning run and snapped some photos of ISU’s amazing campus!

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I could study here…

 

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These banners were all over campus, and I just thought it was a great message.

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Basketball stadium

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One of their buildings is a castle… that’s all I’m saying

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I was sure to get some strength training in after my 3 mile run/tour of Normal. The Marriott in Normal is an immaculate facility, btw.

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Most of the writing on the bathroom wall was like this.. I would say 99% positive. Who doesn’t want to pee in an environment like that?!

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Seriously, between this, the beautiful message, and the sweet message on the bathroom wall, I am convinced that Normal has the nicest graffiti in the world!

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Once you use the term “this one goes to 11” you are automatically one of my top ten favorite people

I was in town for a social media conference, with the key note speaker being Thomas Ian Nicholas. ¬†You might know him as the kid from “Rookie of the Year”, or that guy from the “American Pie” movies. ¬†

I wasn’t exactly sure why he was there, but went to the concert his band played the night before he presented (AWESOME MUSIC, more on this later), and learned that he funded his whole European tour through social media.

As soon as he hit the stage the morning after the concert, you just knew he was a cool guy. ¬†He stated, early on in his presentation, that he was going to tell us how he took his social media skills to 11. ¬†Immediate. Stamp. of. Approval. and. Lifelong. Support. ¬†(if you don’t get the reference, you need to Youtube, “this one goes to 11” and click on the first result.

You’re welcome.

But not only was he smart, funny, down to earth, and entertaining, he is completely passionate about what he does.  

His band doesn’t have a record label, and is completely funded by him. ¬†Nothing is more refreshing than seeing someone live out their dream and making it work without compromising themselves. ¬†It was such a breath of fresh air.

Upon getting home, I dug even deeper into his music and I love it! (Thomas Nicholas Band… I highly recommend). ¬†It was just a good reminder that you can live a life that is fueled by creativity and passion. ¬†It was actually more like a swift kick in the ass. ¬†Instantly someone to follow.¬†

It was all in all an amazing two days, but it was good to be home…. except Max insists on guarding my car for a good 45 minutes whenever I arrive home from a trip as if he is going to keep me from ever leaving again. ¬†You’ve gotta love his devotion ūüôāImage

 

 

Carbo loading across the U.P.

Let’s talk about the challenge of being vegan in northern Michigan…. and by northern, I mean the “Upper Peninsula.”

If you are at all familiar with, or are from Michigan, than you know that the U.P. is a completely different world.  Life slows down up here, the cities are quaint (the largest being Marquette with a population of just over 21,000), and it is the closest you can probably come to finding people who live off of the land.  A.k.a. not very vegan friendly.   If it is a hunt-able animal, you better believe they have made a jerky out of it.  Upon coming into town last night, there were more people out on the lake ice-fishing than there were in the town.

It is hard being vegetarian up here, much less vegan. ¬†So, eating has been a bit of a challenge (nothing but carbs for the most part). ¬†As I type, I am enjoying a lettuce and mustard sandwich. ¬†But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

The great thing about the U.P., though, is the people. ¬†You will not meet nicer, more¬†accommodating, salt of the earth people. ¬† We pulled into town late last night (skated in basically), and could not find an open place to eat. ¬†We did find a bar (thank God), and after telling us they didn’t serve food, gave us the numbers of places that might be open, and even places that would deliver to us right there! ¬†So we ordered in to the bar.

If you ever get a chance, Michigan’s U.P. is a beautiful place to visit (just pack snacks if you are a vegan).

 

Hope everyone had a great weekend!