off the grid + with the family

yesterday (sunday) was my dad’s 70th birthday, so my brother, lina + i decided that to celebrate his big day we’d head out to the woods to do a little family camping. of course, everyone else + their mother decided that it would be the perfect weekend for camping as well. why, you ask? this little thing called “leaf season”. up here, in the north carolina mountains, the leaves are just beginning to hit their peak beauty. needless to say, the campground we chose to visit was paaaa-acked! but, it was also beautiful.

on friday afternoon, lina + i packed up our car with food, a tent, sleeping bags, blankets, and cozy clothes. we headed just northwest of asheville, about 45 minutes, to the fabulous little town called hot springs – more on hot springs another day. my parents had already beaten us to the campground and had pulled their rv into their site by the time we arrived, so we went to our space and scouted out the best spot for our tent. we were not within sight distance of my parents’ site, but it was an easy 2 minute walk we went over to say hi to them and invited them over to our site (which is where we all hung out the entire weekend actually). then, we got to work setting up camp. let the coziness commence!

the weekend consisted of pure, quality family time. and food. yummy camp food. of course we sat by the fire practically the whole time (thanks to my brother’s mad fire-making skills + lina’s mad maintaining-the-fire skills). i read some + did a little walking. i took lots and lots of photos. and we all chatted and generally just spent time together. we were totally off the grid, so the only thing we focused on was each other. sadly, my brother had to travel back + forth to asheville a few times, but he slept in his tent at our campsite as well.

the whole weekend was just amazing. something that i will not soon forget, and will cherish in my heart for the rest of my life i am sure. it was an extremely special weekend for me – just the opportunity to be in the middle of nature, outside the whole entire weekend, living simply, being wild, and focusing on the things that are really important. the things that are the most important to me in my life.

day one:

lina me camping

all packed up!

hot springs camping

entering into hot springs campground. woo hoo!

hot springs camping

a few campsites were right on the river (lucky dogs). however, ours ended up being just across from it, and it was pretty much perfect.

hot springs camping

scouting out the best spot for the tent.

hot springs camping tent

our tent!! soooo cozy + perfect – a birthday present to me from my love last year. 

lina me beer pbr

a celebratory pbr (beer) ‘cuts we got the tent all set up!

hot springs camping

the fire is lit! and it stayed lit literally the entire weekend. soon awesome.

hot springs camping bread

darkness fell, and it was time to make some traditional campfire food – both swedish + american, of course. here, lina is baking bread on a stick over the fire. i devoured some s’mores.

hot springs camping campfire

dad warmed his hands by the fire for hours. clearly something silly was happening at this point too. 

hot springs camping campfire

the family is all gathered. xoxo

day two:hot springs camping morning tent

laying in my tent, early in the morning. just gazing the trees + listening to the silence. so peaceful.

hot springs camping lina morning

ready for the day!

hot springs camping morning me tent

mornin’!

hot springs camping nick coffee

first things first: hot camp coffee from a percolator. (that’s my brother!)

hot springs camping

hot springs camping

the morning fire is all lit.

hot springs camping

a little morning dog walking. these two are just the cutest. 

hot springs camping family

breakfast preparations are underway. can’t wait!

hot springs camping pancakes

hot springs camping coffee

hot springs camping gunny

hot springs camping camp food

hot springs camping me

hot springs camping lina pancake

trees hot springs camping

hot springs camping reading

passing time by doing a little reading after a little walk into town. (those photos coming up tomorrow!)

hot springs camping trees

the sun is setting…

hot springs camping campfire

evening arrives again. this one will be a special one.

hot springs camping dad

happy birthday to my dad! 

hot springs camping campfire

my last little peek out from the tent as i tucked myself in.

hot springs camping campfire morning

when i woke in the morning and unzipped my tent, this is what i saw. sooooo cozy.

hot springs camping

i climbed out of my tent early and walked over to the river for a few moments of solitude. amazing.

hot springs camping campfire me

camp liz!

hot springs camping coffee

more camp coffee to get the morning started!

hot springs camping

hot springs camping campfire me nick cooking

brother-sister breakfast cooking team. eggs + bacon… coming up!

hot springs camping

our cozy home for the weekend.

hot springs camping campfire family

family time ♥

hope you had a good weekend, too, dear friends. check back over the next few days and i’ll share with you some photos of hot springs, the french broad river, + a little walking on the appalachian trail!

love + light. xx

the magic of sweden’s simplicity.

me sunset archipelago sweden

i’m not sure if this was my fourth year or my fifth year of having the joy of being part of the annual camp at skeppsgården in sweden, but it doesn’t really matter. every year is exactly the same and completely different all at the same time. it’s very much like my reynolds family beach week tradition that my family in the states has had for about 29 years now.

the camp at skeppsgården was started many many years ago by the methodist church in sweden, and it is a place available for people to come and enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the swedish archipelago (islands by the sea) and the beauty of gathering with friends & family year after year. lina’s grandfathers, both methodist ministers like my grandfather, were a part of beginning this week-long tradition of renting the camp for their congregations and friends/family year ago, and the tradition and been passed on and carried down by lina’s parents and family.

skeppsgården, for lina, is that thing that has been a constant in her life for as long as she can remember (she was only 6 weeks old when she at tented her first week in 1984). and while i’ve only been a part of it for 4 or 5 years, i feel that history and connection, and i can understand it very well, because of my family’s own traditions. so, now i have my family’s beach week tradition of 29 years and lina’s family’s camp tradition – both constants in my life.

it’s so important to have these places and people and times in our lives, i believe. they give us (me) a sense of grounding. a reminder of who we are – and that, even when life changes and moves on, there is a ritual, a sacred space, a certain, special spot that touches our soul like nothing else.

so, skeppsgården has become a place like that for me. my first year there i had no idea what was going on, what people were saying, or anything about anything. it was all so, well, foreign. then, there came a few years that i “worked” the camp, seeing as i was one of the ministers that was to led some of the group discussions/worship services. and this year, after being away from sweden for an entire year, it felt as if i had come home. this year, skeppsgården was my home. i now have my own traditions, feelings, memories, and special places that are tucked away in my heart. i know the people, i can speak the language. what i am saying is, this place is now a part of me. i am not just a participant or observer, but i belong.

and that, my friends, is amazing. i give thanks, once again, for the beauty of having two places, two countries that i call home.

now, it’s time for me to finally share with you some photos of this magical, beautiful place – where life is simple and easy and all about community. enjoy!

DSC_0342 skeppsgården water archipelago water sweden path camp teenagers dock summer archipelago canoeing archipelago sunset archipelago rowing archipelago oar archipelago lina rowing oar archipelago sunset archipelago our room archipelago trees sunshine skeppsgården house gula huset skeppsgården tree archipelago cabins archipelago stuga gula huset archipelago skeppsgården path archipelago archipelago archipelago archipelago flowers boat archipelago archipelago campfire sunset archipelago market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården maggie market skeppsgården anders market skeppsgården ego selfie me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden candle tips promenade sweden trees tips promenade tips promenade me sunset archipelago sweden ego me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden full mooon sunset archipelago sweden me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden full moon sunset archipelago sweden friends

here’s to wishing you a sacred place (or two) of your own, where you can just be who you are, where you can connect with your soul and others, and where you can feel at one with the nature that surround you.

peace and love.

hank bought a bus

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now that i’m living in the usa again, i’m all about road trips. and camping. and the wild west. you know, embracing life by living it simply. i’ve been lucky enough to visit the western part of the states a few times, so i already know what’s out there… to a degree. i’ve sampled the west, you could say. i’ve actually driven to california twice – my honeymoon with lina was a cross-country trip!- and once to wyoming. of course, we stopped every place we could all along the way. i was yearning to see it all. and i still am. i want to see more.

don’t get me wrong, i truly love being an east coast girl. i love north carolina and the south, and i love the northeast too. but, the west, with those prairies and deserts and rugged mountains… oh, they take my breath away and make me feel like i am connected with something very wild and ancient and powerful.

so, i’m dreaming about when i get to head that way again. lina and I both are. we don’t have any plans yet, but we will at some point. however, more than just a quick trip out west, we’d love to take an extended trip one day and travel around the entire country for a year. that has always been a dream of ours, and who knows? one day it just may be something that lina and i do. get an rv. and live the simple life. meeting people all along the way for a whole year. writing and photographing and chronicling the entire journey. what a dream!

the other day, i ran across a guy who has done just that – well sort of. he wanted to take his master’s project for architecture school to a more practical level. so, he decided to find an old school bus and turn it into his home on wheels, a place that was comfortable, functional, and flexible. the finished product is amazing! and, then, it was time to travel!

so he and a friend headed out on a month long journey to live on the bus that he turned into a home, inspired by tiny house movement.

to read more about hank’s bus and his trip out west, check out his blog here. in the meantime, look at these amazing photos that he took (from his blog). they will inspire you, i promise.

900x313x130804_064242_JE_28102.jpg.pagespeed.ic.UrLlbUyMXk A view of the bus from near the back. bustour03.gif.pagespeed.ce.FAzPELYl8W Justin doing some photo editing on the road. Watching the kids play on the bus. 130731_202046_je_2650 Relaxing on the roof. Hank and Vince taking in the stunning coast of California. 130816_153554_je_3483 Hank and Ethan marvel at the sunset heading into Yosemite. 130823_165301_je_4124 The bus resting for the night in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. Ethan, Hank and Sam on top of the bus at dusk.

now, let me ask you this: do we really need so much space in which to live? can’t we simplify? and wouldn’t it be amazing to spend time traveling and exploring and adventuring and growing and learning and taking in all that is around us? wouldn’t it be amazing to live the life that we dream of living?

so why don’t we just do it?! why not? we’ve only got one life, you know. let’s fill our days, even our present days, with the things (and i don’t mean material things) and people and moments that we love.

peace & love. xx