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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Millersville chapter.

I was recently looking through my old pictures and came across one of my favorite pictures of myself. I’m on the Hornblower Niagara Falls cruise boat. Even with the poncho hood on, my hair was drenched. My hand is up as if I’m waving to the camera saying “Hey there! This is one of the best times of my life!” And I have one of the biggest smiles ever. 

I look happy, I thought. And it’s true, I was happy. 

It was 2019, one year after I graduated high school. Like many other people at this time in their life, I struggled with all the adjustments. A lot of the time that year I wasn’t happy. But in that picture, I was. And it was so evident. 

I continue looking at my pictures and see me standing tall at the Grand Canyon. And then I’m looking out at the crisp blue water at Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda. I turn the page in my photo album and next thing I know I’m standing tall on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Even sweaty after the climb up, I can see the joy in my eyes. 

These are all some of my favorite pictures of me, which is saying a lot, considering I’m not one to take selfies or think I look good in pictures. Maybe it’s because in those pictures I’m not happy. But in these pictures, I’m happy. And you can see it. 

All of my favorite pictures of myself have one thing in common: I was on vacation with my sister. 

Our first big summer of traveling was in 2019. That’s when we started #SummerofSammieandSyd.

In June of 2019, we went to Canada to see Niagara Falls and visit Toronto. Overall, it was a great trip. But then after about 4 days, we hit our breaking point. We were so tired, hangry, and had a very low patience for each other, let alone for Google Maps that kept messing up. We finally made it to our destination and could sit in silence by the water and eat our Subway Subs. I’m convinced we both made it back alive because of those subs. 

In July, we went on a family cruise to Bermuda. While there, we took a bus to the famous Horseshoe Bay beach. It was magnificent. The other magnificent things about the trip were the endless soft serve ice cream cones and spending time with our dad, brother and Pop.

In August, to end off the first #SummerofSammieandSyd, we went out west. We first went to Las Vegas. Not necessarily our cup of tea, but it was for sure memorable. We stayed in the Stratosphere hotel. If you know anything about Las Vegas, you might know this hotel is pretty popular because of the rides on top. And yes, we did ride them. It was insane. Another popular attraction at this hotel is the SkyJump. It’s a vertical zipline jump from 855 feet in the air. And if you are wondering, yes, I did do this. After those rides and walking the strip in 100 degree weather for 10 miles all in one day, we had enough of the city and headed to the national parks. We stopped at the Grand Canyon for a day, took a pit stop at Horseshoe Bend State Park and then headed to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. In my opinion, Zion and Bryce Canyon are much better than the Grand Canyon. 

My favorite part of Zion was hiking Angels Landing. It was terrifying and amazing all at once. The view was absolutely breathtaking. But would I do it again? Probably not.

View of Angels Landing in Zion National Park
Original photo by Sydnee Strickler

My favorite part of Bryce Canyon was seeing the hoodoos. They look like those inflatable wobbly tube men outside of car dealerships. Please enjoy my photoshopped picture of the hoodoos looking like wobbly men.  

Bryce Canyon hoodoo\'s photoshopped to have bodies
Original photo by Sydnee Strickler

The second #SummerofSammieandSyd happened in August 2020 when we visited Acadia National Park with our Mom. On the drive there, we stopped in Boston for a day. It was a nice day exploring the area, but unfortunately, because of the wind, our whale watching tour was canceled. Acadia National Park is beautiful and I highly recommend it to anyone who has not gone before. The Beehive Trail is one of the most popular, with good reason. Although it is more difficult, the views are totally worth it. In my opinion, the other best part of the park is Cadillac Mountain, where one of my favorite pictures of me was taken. We hiked up one day and then we decided to go there a different morning to watch the sunrise. Get there super early because it gets crowded, with good reason. On a clear morning the view is perfect! 

The next #SummerofSammieandSyd adventure was June 2021 when we went to the Great Smoky Mountains and the Outer Banks. We hiked to Charlie’s Bunion (pictured below), went to the top of Clingmans Dome, and mustered our way up to Chimney Tops. All three of these I highly recommend. After a few days there, we headed east straight through North Carolina to the Outer Banks. You never realized how big North Carolina is until you’ve been driving for 8 hours and are still in North Carolina. What made the drive even worse was we got a hole in our tire. Luckily, when we stopped at a gas station, a man named Grover pointed us in the direction of a mechanic. He kept telling us to tell them “Grover sent us.” We never did find the place he told us to go to, but we found a different mechanic and got the tire patched. The whole reason we were going to the Outer Banks was to hang-glide on the sand dunes at Jockey Ridge State Park. Unfortunately, it was too windy and they canceled it that day. While the end of our trip didn’t end the best, we still had fun hiking and got to soak up the sun by the beach for a few days. It was still a successful #SummerofSammieandSyd adventure. 

Charlie\'s Bunion at Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Original photo by Sydnee Strickler

Our latest #SummerofSammieandSyd trip was this past August when we traveled north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You might have noticed a trend- most of our trips are to national parks. So how did we end up there, where there isn’t a national park? Well, my mom gets the AAA magazine mailed to her each month and she saw a picture of Pictured Rocks (pictured below) and decided we were going there. And it ended up being amazing. While it was a 15 hour drive, the clear blue water, cool weather in the dead of summer, and breathtaking views was totally worth it.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Original photo by Sydnee Strickler

On our drive home we took a detour and stopped in Chicago. Kenny, my sister’s fiancé, is a city guru and guided us naive city goers around. We went to the SkyDeck at night and stepped out to the glass floor, which was super unsettling, and of course we also stopped to see the bean! 

I am very fortunate to have gone on all of these trips. I am even more fortunate that I got to experience them with my favorite person. 

One day when I have children I will be able to show them all of the pictures of our travels together. I will show them all of my favorite pictures of me. 

They will say “Mom, you look so happy! Where were you in that picture?” And I will be able to say, “It doesn’t matter where I was. I was so happy because I was with your Aunt Sammie.” 

So here’s to my sister. Thank you for all of the #SummerofSammieandSyd memories. Thank you for going anywhere with me. Thank you for bringing out my happiest self. And here’s to many more summer adventures. 



Sydnee Strickler

Millersville '23

Hello! I am a senior at Millersville University and I am studying social work. I love hiking, bullet journaling, animals, and Taylor Swift. I am an advocate for social justice and mental health awareness. My favorite blogger and someone who gives me a lot of inspiration when it comes to writing is Jenny Lawson. This is my first year as a member of Her Campus and I am super excited to start writing and sharing my thoughts with you all!