You know how sometimes life is just awesome? Like how things just totally work out how they are supposed to or things align a certain way or something just clicks and it all comes together? Well...that doesn't happen a whole lot, but when it does, it's really cool.
And it happened last week to us (meaning me and Ian and Tasha)! I had just come out of that great meeting with Kendra Stanley Mills and was running very, very late to buy a lens from a (non-sketchy) Craigslist guy, when I checked my email, whilst speeding down US31 South (I wasn't driving, Ian was, chillax yo-selves). An email popped up that read the following:
My name is Cate, I am writing on behalf of my best friend (and myself!). Michelle and I have been best friends for 11 years, and recently (as of two weeks ago today), turned in our "ordinary lives" to fulfill a life long dream to drive cross country and see the good 'ole USA. I had been living in NYC for 9 years until last June when I decided it was time to see more of the world. I traveled this past year through Southeast Asia, Portugal, Spain, Morocco and South America. Michelle was in NYC for 8 years and just this past June decided it wasn't the life for her anymore and left her job and moved her stuff down to her parents in NYC.
We began our journey two weeks ago and have been through PA to Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, Peoria IL and now in Chicago. We are headed to Michigan today! We had originally planned to not do the rest of Michigan, but have changed course slightly for several reasons - and will be heading from Chicago through South Bend up South Haven and Grand Rapids at some point today. We have a general plan of our stops along the way - things we would like to see - primarily from recommendations from others, but no concrete plans. Nor do we know where we will be sleeping yet - that is the fun of it :)
One of the reasons we have changed our course is because of your photos you have posted. We found you by searching on Instagram and then have visited your website. Your photos are absolutely spectacular and simple yet stunning and have really spoken to us and inspired us to see more of the state. And we absolutely love this idea of Pop Up Rolling Elopements. Simply genius.
Also, after reading your website, about you, etc. - we seem to share the same sense of humor and wit. We are all for calling the business Damn Good Photos.
I am not sure your exact location at the moment - but we would love the opportunity to speak to you - either through email or on the phone about Michigan (I believe you are there now, thanks Instagram!)
I have attached below the letter/email we sent to our family and friends prior to our trip. I also invite you to visit our website www.twofarfromnormal.com to learn more about us and also to see where we have been and learn more about our trip. Also, our instagram name for the trip is: twofarfromnormal and our personals are catemayer and southernbellemichelle.
Hope to hear from you and possibly meet you up in Michigan!
Cate and Michelle
This was fate. They were MEANT to meet us. And we were meant to meet them. Plain and simple.
Ok. We need to rewind like...7 years really quick here. 7 years ago, Ian and I were on an ill-fated, 1200 mile bicycle ride down the coast of Oregon in November and, besides it being one of the WORST phyiscal challenges of my entire life, it was also totally amazing because on that trip we encountered numerous strangers and good doers who wanted to help us out--including, but not limited to Cliff and Sherry who let us stay in their house for 4 days, drive their huge Chevy truck around Bandon, Oregon, and fed us ridiculously good food and red wine all while talking to us at length about the failure of the Bush presidency. And when they dropped us off in Eugene, Oregon at a late even train to San Francisco after 4 days at their house, we never, ever heard from them again. We tried to email them and thank them for their help...and it was radio silence. There have been occasions where Ian and I both are pretty certain they were angels (and trust me, I don't go for all that stuff). But really--they saved us in Bandon and through their kindness, we were able to continue our trip.
Thus, when Cate and Michelle emailed us, I just knew it was time to pay it forward. They could stay with us and we would host them for the night! It was the least we could do for 2 fellow adventuring 30-somethings.
So I wrote them right back and told them to call me. And when they got back in touch, we told them they could stay with us for the night. We would have hosted them way longer, truth be told, but we had to go to the terrible city of Chicago the next day, so it was a one night only sort of thing. They seemed normal and kind and I checked out all their social medias, and all seemed to point towards: fun, creative, educated, and not destitute, so I didn't need to feel obligated to hide the silver in the basement.
Ian went to work and I sat down to wait for the girls to arrive. And the did arrive and it was GREAT. There was not a single second of the evening that felt weird or odd or forced-it was like we had been friends for years. We talked and talked and talked. They are on a 3 month long, cross-country roadtrip, and started almost 3 weeks ago in North Carolina, and plan to end up in North Carolina again around Christmas time. They're going all around the place, here there and everywhere and their journey reminds me a LOT of this fabulous book Anthem that Julie and I read religiously around 1998, dreaming of our own cross country trip one day. Basically what Michelle and Cate are doing is going in search of that idyllic America that we all know doesn't exist, except they are doing it from the perspective of reconnecting with this giant continent on which many of us just exist, rather than live. But these two--are all. about. living (and yes I did the annoying periods between each word because that's how awesome they are and how awesome their journey is going to be). They came to Grand Haven to see me, to learn about this awesome little town in which we live and to meet some new friends--what a great choice they made!
After we watched a great Grand Haven sunset, and had some snacks and red wine, Dale, our neighbor, came over to talk about his career as an art professor and tell jokes. Dale and Karen (his wife) were scheduled to leave GH earlier in the day, but, according to Karen, "Dale has so much stuff it just prevents him from leaving sooner", so they were staying one more night in our quiet cottage community, which was great news for all of us because Dale's stories kept us up late, late, late into the night.
In the morning, we had to leave for Chicago and the girls were heading North (we told them to go to Leelanau. Immediately). It was a fabulous 12 hours, though, of meeting new people, and building what Ian and I both think will be a lifelong friendship. We're already deep into making plans to visit them either on the road or once they settle back in North Carolina. I am not the biggest proponent of social media, but in this case it brought us 2 new friends whom we never would have met before!
Make sure to head on over to their blog where they are posting about their trip, new experiences and general ruminations about the state of the good old US of A.