Travels
Queen of Trades; Travel and Photography- Category [Travel/Stories/Tips]

I was friends with someone who introduced Twenty One Pilots to me. She introduced me to their songs and told me about their story. She made it clear that Twenty One pilots was a savior to her and that she listened to them daily. So of course I gave them a shot and I quickly became part of them. I listened to their album Vessel over and over again until I lived in the songs. I would put headphones in, turn up the volume to drown out human society and play the album over and over and over again. I lived in the world of Twenty One pilots and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better band to show up at that time in my life. When my best friend left me I got deeper and deeper into their world. They helped me heal and realize how things were. They sang their hearts out and I felt all the words they sang. 

I knew their songs word for word and I honestly wanted to see them live but I didn’t know if I could after everything I went through. In 2015 I got an email about them being in Jacksonville. For VIP it was $100 and I saw that it was a big venue. They had so many artists I knew but the main one was Twenty One pilots. Without much thought to it I decided to go to their concert and see them. They were my heart and their new album Blurryface had just come out. I learned all the songs and I cherished them more and more. I wanted to be inspired and I wanted a change in me to happen. So I paid for the ticket, gassed up my car, saved my money and as nervous as I was I went to the concert. 

I remember how cold it was that night that I camped out. I was freezing my ass off but I somehow managed to make it through the night. All I could think about was how excited and nervous I was. I had heard amazing things about them live and I didn’t know what to expect. Would they be the same live? Would it change me? Would I experience something that I wouldn’t forget? What would it be like? 

Everything seemed to happen in a strange series of events. I remember getting up that morning and just looking around my campsite I stayed in. It was quiet, people were walking around and sipping on cups of coffee and having breakfast. I looked around unsure of how to feel. Today was the day I was seeing them live. I was going to see my heroes on stage. I packed up my car and went to the venue. I remember stepping out of my car and looking around. There were groups of people and I instantly felt like I became the quiet version of myself from fifth grade. Nerves were bubbling at the surface but I kept it to myself. I made my way to the entrance, got my VIP pass and I was in. It was crowded, people were buying all types of items. Shirts, bongs, pipes, scarves, dresses, blankets, I mean it was a happy place. Nobody was screaming or falling over like they did at warped tour. People were coming and going as people say who they wanted to see. 

Most of the day I spent walking around purchasing items and by the midafternoon I had made my way to the stage. Quickly I found myself up front and to the right side of the stage. I planted myself there and watched as each act came and went. I even made friends with the people around me and had conversations with them. We talked about the people that came on stage and rated the performances. I talked with a couple who was traveling the U.S and had decided to come see Twenty One Pilots live. Eventually it came to them and I was sweating. There were people had been elbowing me and tried to take my spot but the entire time I held my ground. I was going to see it through and I was going to experience them front and center.

The lights dimmed and I remember the girl next to me looking at me with wide eyes. Im sure I looked at her the same way because I felt my heart racing. It was happening and I was here. I was going to hear and see them with my own eyes and ears. Once they started I felt like the whole world melted away. All my troubles and anxiety melted in a puddle and evaporated into the sky. They were amazing, majestic and just so powerful. Two people on stage changing my world in a single performance. They were singing, dancing, jumping around the stage, interacting with the people, and just making me so happy. I had never seen a performance so well one and I felt like my life changed in that single moment. My ex best friend didn’t matter anymore, My ex-boyfriend was gone, my life did a complete turn around and my mind just changed. I have had a few of these experiences since I have turned eighteen but seeing a band that saved you from so many bad things and bad decisions for years....well that can really turn a person around. For me it was everything I wanted and so much more. 

I remember leaving the venue that night saying goodbye to the friends I made and just driving in almost complete silence. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know what to think. My heart was racing and I felt like my mind was turned to mush. The experience was playing in my head on repeat for days. Not many people understood the experience but for me it was a moment in my life where things were crashing and I was unsure of what I wanted. I was living with haunting memories and that turned it around for me. 

I don’t know what others think about concerts or if anyone has experienced something like that but, I felt like it was a moment that I needed. I wouldn’t let go of that experience for the world. 

 

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The second day in Falls Creek Falls I decided to go hike around the area and check out what was in store for me. Mostly I just wanted to go on the hiking trains so I did. One of the first ones I went on had a rickety bridge that you had to cross to get to the other side. You then went down the trail and could literally swim in the area below and off to the right. If you went left however you had to get creative. So big bags, anything that could get caught, etc was out of the question for this maneuver. You had to go under fallen tree trunks, you could cross the river but it was almost knee deep so you had to be ok with shoes being wet. Then you had to be careful of the algae on the rocks that could cause you to slip. Once you got to other side successfully though you were right on eh edge of the waterfall. You could see straight down at a 90 degree angle and it was beautiful. There were no hand rails or safety so it was definitely at your own risk sort of thing.

Once I had gotten my pictures I headed back out and up to go to another trail. I went down and ended up in this adventure zone. I got intrigued and looked at what was in store in this area. They quickly told me that it was an obstacle course that was in the trees. They all kinds of levels of activity and it was $50 for two and a half hours of full fun and zip lining. Quickly I payed and went on the adventure. They told you about all the safety and what the harness’s did. They gave you step by step instructions of how to stop, slow down, or let go. They made sure everyone ran the kids course just to make sure they knew what they were doing and then you could go ahead and start leveling up. You first did the easy one, then medium, hard, expert, then extreme. I had so much fun up there and I really enjoyed the activity it made me do. It gave me all kinds of awesome challenges and I honestly loved the level of difficulty that it gave. I had no idea that zip lining and going through obstacle courses in the air was so much fun. It really inspired me. 

At the end you had the option of doing the extreme course which was really short or you could jump off the platform and go to the ground. I chose to skip the extreme and jump off. IT was really scary but once you jumped the line catches and set you down slowly. Really it was a master of fear. 

Once I got done with in air obstacle course I made a brave decision to take on a location that the guys told me about. This "trail head" was literally almost impossible without a line to attach to the cord that was provided. Without a cord you were scaling the side of a rock cliff. Somehow, I ended up being able to masterfully make my way down and to the river. It was magnificent. I decided (and this was a mistake) to take off my shoes and socks. I grabbed my amazing camera that I have put through high water and hell on Earth and FORGET to put the strap on. I then take a cautious step onto a rock and go to lift my foot to put in the area next to it and what happens? I slip. Guess what happens when I slip. My hand lets go of my camera and it goes for a beeline into the water and slam dunks down. 

I have never moved so fast in my life. I thought my heart had stopped beating. two Seconds the camera is in the water, five seconds bubbles come to the surface, six seconds the camera is out of the water and is being disassembled so quickly and with frantic me tearing it apart in realization at how stupid this whole thing was. I mean who just takes off their shoes and socks, doesn’t secure their camera and just DROPS IT in the river. Me. That’s who does stuff like that. 

That day I stripped my shirt in public without a single **** in the world and I used it to wipe down my camera inside and out. I swear the next few days were panic attacks that were waiting to happen. I ended up giving an emergency call to my dad who gave me insight on how to let the lenses dry out and the base of the camera. The rest I had let sit by the fire for hours so that the heat would make the water evaporate. Lucky for me I Managed to have it be saved and the lense and camera are still working to this day. 

I have put my camera and my medium sized lense though all kinds of things but I have never ever dropped my camera like that. I learned my lesson for sure that day. Always have your camera strap around your neck, you don’t know when you instincts to save yourself will make you drop something you treasure. 

 

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If you have never been to Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee then you should definitely go and check it out. I went there on one of my mixed vacations as a thought of adventure. I really wanted to see some waterfalls and as it turns out, Fall Creek Falls is pretty famous for being one of the busiest state parks in Tennessee. Why? They have four-five different areas that have all different waterfalls. They have a huge area of campsites and its full the minute I decide that I want to go there for my vacation spot. Luckily I kept my eye on the website and found one spot that opened up for me at the last leg of my trip. So with everything in plan I make me way through Atlanta, Virginia and stop in Tennessee. Now the drive to get to the park is about an hour of back roads where you go fifty miles per hour. I really did think that I was going to get lost or never make it to the state park just because of how confusing it seemed. I even had to turn around three or four times since the directions weren’t well laid out. 

Once I got to the park and found the check in area I realized that I had to check in the next day since the person who sits in the booth was gone after five p.m. So I go to my campsite and find that I love the location. It’s in the corner, the deer graze in the field that I am next to and it’s out of the way of everyone else. Wonderful spot to stay for a few days. So I back up my car, set up my area and settle down with my set campfire and start chowing when I realize that the neighbor’s dog is begging for attention. The family has all gone inside the RV and left the poor dog to sit out here waiting. Cautious that I don’t******off my neighbors I say a quick hello and a pat on the head and I turn around to go back to my book and campfire when the door swings open. My first thought is that this guy is going to throw a fit and yell and scream for petting his dog. I turn and look at the guy standing there waving his arms. "Come on". Stunned I stand there staring at him. He was serious....wasn’t he? I asked "are you sure?" twice before I even took one step towards that RV. 

 by sarah

He insisted continuously until I made my way into a family bustle. Everyone had a paper plate full of potatoes, mac and cheese, some bread, and banana pudding as a dessert. They told me to eat as much as I wanted and to make myself at home. Being cautious and watching to make sure I didn’t make anybody bristle up I grabbed little bits and a small soda and sat down on the couch. They quickly start asking questions and I tell them about my traveling and I got the usual responses about how brave I was and how they wished they did what I was doing when they were my age. Everyone seemed to be in tune with what I was saying and I managed to keep up the conversation but, I knew that they were trying to just be neighborly. After I had my dessert and some laughs we then decided to go sit around the fire and have some company. Mostly I listened when it came to that and it wasn’t as interesting as I hoped but I did enjoy the company and just thankful that they shared some food with me. Not everyone has the courage to invite a stranger into their "home" and with today’s world anything is possible. 

Really the night went nicely and eventually we all decided to retire for the night. We both had a long day the next day, I was hiking and they were driving back home, so we all said our goodbyes and made our way to our campsites. Sometimes good ol fashion company and a hot meal is all you need to provide to a fellow traveler. So thank you strangers for doing that for me. 

 

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The final part of our trip was to Mackinaw city and Mackinaw Island. If you have never been there before you should go there. It’s wonderful and the area is so refreshing. The "city" is this nice little square with all these little shops filled with food and souvenirs. You can walk around and get coffee, food, and just enjoy the breeze coming off the lake. If you go to the water you can then take a ferry to get to Mackinaw Island which is beautiful. It’s about 8 miles all around. They only have three ways of transportation which are walking, biking, and horseback riding. They don’t allow cars on the island so the air is nice and fresh. They also have a fort that you can visit and tour. You can even go to a butterfly reserve (which you can buy the butterflies from them as well. They frame them for people to buy after the butterflies have passed away from a natural death) and a butterfly shop. There is so much rich history on the island that it can be quite the adventure to go see it all. The nice part about the island is that you can lay on the grass in front of the fort and just relax. You can hear the waves from the harbor and watch the horses and bikers go by as you take in the wonderful beauty of the water. There is no struggle on the island and everyone there is so nice. The decor and architecture is also quite beautiful and a lot of it has been remodeled due to the island being covered in snow and ice for six months out of the year. 

Back in Mackinaw City though they have a couple places you can stay. There is a state park that we go to called the Wilderness State Park. It’s about a ten minute drive to get to it since it’s basically in the forest and you have to drive down a two lane windy road to get to it. Once you arrive at the campground you check in and get to your spot and set up camp. Its honestly one of the best campground I have ever been to. Its right on the water and the air is so clean. Nobody is in any rush to go anywhere and the weather is almost always 70 degrees every time we go there. It’s so much better than the 90 degree weather with a chance of 100% humidity. Really I just take it all in and let myself soak up those rays of sunlight. It’s not every day we get wonderful weather and back home I just burn up like an egg on the sidewalk. 

This year we got to spend some time with an old friend of my Dads and she got to get to know me. She was nice and I enjoyed her company. She got to see her friend’s daughter and see how he influenced me. Really it was all about the interaction. I introduced her to my favorite person in Mackinaw City which is John from the weapons shop. He gave her so much information and probably scared her a little bit from how violent the history is behind all the weapons she was interested in knowing about. For the first time I saw a real fear in someone's eyes. She even stated that she wouldn’t mess with me, ever. It took that as a high compliment in regards that most don’t react like that but it was a nice change in pace. 

Most of our time was spent by the campfire soaking in the beauty and wonderful scenery that surrounded us. Florida is an ok place to live but Michigan in the summer is 1,000x better to me. I’m not dieing from the heat, it’s a change of scenery while also feeling like home and I can just be a part of the culture. It never gets old and I can’t wait to go back already. 

 

 

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Warped Tour was a crazy time. Your surrounded by people you don't know, musician's you admire but have never met and your constantly trying to find shade. Warped Tour was so awesome to go to and for my friend Cassie and I, it was heaven. We immediately became immersed In the world of music and we had been running around all day. We didn't really think of the sunburn possibilities and we didn't think about money and how much to bring. We had learned the hard way and quickly became slower so we could enjoy the moment. If we went too quick with spending money and jumping to every booth to just buy, we may not have any money for water and food. After all we only had a part time job and we were just figuring **** out with adulthood. It was around the corner and for us both we were engrossed in school or home life. It was hard to have an appropriate amount of cash. 

After a while we decided to lay on the grass and cool down. We were hit and the reason? It was over 100 degrees outside. The humidity was 90% and we were out there with our little white selves in full exposure. No real water. No sunscreen. Just the two of us being idiots who fell into the world of music with no one to guide us. 

We were in line waiting for our turn with a band. It was hot, no breeze, we hadn't eaten yet and suddenly my friend stops. She's on front of a band member is handing her picture for him to sign and she suddenly declares "hey, Sarah I can't see" and at first I thought she was kidding. Her eyes were open and she was moving slightly. She could see the band member in feint of her, couldn't she? I saved my hand in front of her face. Nothing. Immediately the band members called a paramedic and handed me a bottle of water for her. She fell slightly and almost went down in the dirt. I helped her stay stable by holding her up as the paramedics got her in the direction she needed to go. 

After I got the autographs and our stuff I went and found the tent that she was in. I was so scared. I thought we were done right then and there. My friend list her eye sight because she didn't have enough water in her system. The heat and humidity made her almost faint. It was a nuts experience and when I found her In the tent she said she was fine and that they gave her juice and wants her to stay in the shade. It was like it was nothing. 

It was surprising and felt very odd that she played it off so well but at the same time I expected as much. For me it was scary as hell but hey, sometimes **** happens and because of that That's how we grow. 



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