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Hiking the North Kettles

Wander, Don’t ​Wonder: The Beauty of Collaboration

When I dreamt up the idea of this blog, my main goal was to foster community. I wanted to immerse myself in my new home state, meet other people who shared similar passions and share my journey and discoveries with others beyond the screen. Since moving, it has been a whirlwind. We are new homeowners, so our adventures have been confined within 4 walls the majority of the time; finding spare moments and monies allocated towards making a house a home. But in the same breath, we have certainly found time in the in-between – from the day trips to nearby towns to creative networking events to fostering relationships on social media and interacting beyond the apps… slowly, my vision has become a reality – with even more people to meet and places to see! And nothing pleases me more than others reaching out and wanting to do the same. That’s where Liana and Tom, the dynamic and adventurous duo from When.You.Wander come into play. 

Liana and Tom reached out to me back in November 2018 via Instagram. I had recently wrapped up a European vacation and was getting acclimated to life in the Midwest and we connected over their Wisconsin roots and their love of travel – they had recently embarked on a 3-month European backpacking trip! As most introductions usually are, it always feels strange, especially in this digital world we live in (call me old fashioned). But it only took a few conversations and reviewing their website and IG to see that we had synergy and a similar mission. This couple is goals, truly! They run their travel blog that serves as such an incredible resource covering topics when it comes to budget travel, outfitting your very own camper van if you are up for the challenge, curated itineraries, destination guides, and so much more. Their articles are filled with beneficial information that truly serves a community of people who share that same wanderlust. I am not about to use the word “authentic” when it comes to them as people and their content because let’s face it, that word seems to be used as a label for everything nowadays. But Liana and Tom are tried and true… what you see is what you get with an open arm, open mind mantra – people who love people, people who love life. Quite frankly, we need more Liana’s and Tom’s in our lives.

Fast forward to January 2019. It’s winter in the Midwest so conditions are always questionable. We planned on hiking the North Kettles, the Parnell Tower Loop Trail specifically. For those living in Southeast Wisconsin, the Kettle Moraine State Forest is not a far drive and has some great hiking trails. Well, the snow was deep (up to my knees practically) and out of the 4 of us, friend and photographer Gina from GE Creative brought snowshoes (another friend I met courtesy of social media). Thank goodness, because she truly blazed the trail for us to follow slowly and breathlessly behind. The minute we met, it was comfortable, as if we were old friends seeing each other after a long while and wanting to take the time to catch up. And that’s exactly what we did… our snowy trek consisted of lots of laughs and a ton of stories. All we needed was a campfire, some booze, and s’mores and it would have made for the perfect scene.

The trek is described as moderate, with a 3.5-mile loop, only made more difficult when you are knee-deep in snow. But it certainly didn’t stop us from us quick firing questions eager to learn more about each other – the stories of what brought us to the here and now and the plans we have for the future. Connection, man is it a beautiful thing. We ended our hike by climbing the 60-foot observation tower that gives a pretty great panoramic view of the forest and surrounding areas. We said our goodbyes only followed by our hopeful see-you-laters! Liana and Tom have some amazing adventures planned this year, so I would suggest following them if you too have the travel bug! Liana and Tom wandered into my inbox and like they say, “when you wander, there are only possibilities”. How true that is. Friends were made that day and it reconfirmed my desire to embrace community, nix my apprehensions and table my assumptions. Beautiful people are in front of us every day, all it takes is the first hello. I’m happy we wandered the snow globe trails together and look forward to seeing where more wandering will take us all.

Make sure to check out Liana and Tom’s website by visiting for all things travel related. Check out Gina’s website, GE Creative for beautiful photography.


  1. Liana on at 12:33 PM

    Wow Maria! This is such a beautiful post! Our day of hiking was truly amazing and we’re so grateful to have met you and Gina. Until the next adventure!

    • Maria Meier on at 12:43 PM

      Cheers to friendship and this adventure we call life! Hope to see you guys again soon, maybe in a different zip code! 🙂