Photo Journal: New Mexico Road Trip and Baby Juniper

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Not gunna lie- the more time that passes, the harder it is to gather the momentum to drum up a blog post. Inertia I suppose. The sad part about not posting is that y’all have missed out on my puppy’s adorable baby stage and a few road trips here and there. SO I decided to put together a little photo journal of a mid fall trip we took down through New Mexico, just weeks after adopting little Juniper.

The highlight of the trip was definitely a night spent car-camping at a bizarre deserted military base right outside the entrance to White Sands National Monument, and a spectacular sunset spent frolicking through the vast empty white sea (I choose not to remember the mosquitos).

Other stops along the way included Taos, Santa Fe, and hot spring hunting in and around various quiet slices of countryside I had no idea existed.

Juni is now 8.5 months old and has since grown into a fluffy fox-dog with long red and white fur that curls crazily around her butt and sticks straight out of her ears, but I’ll have to save those pics for the next photo journal. 🙂

PS: Click the photos below to view full screen and swipe em left or right. This WordPress theme is kinda janky and won’t allow me to display photos the way I want to, but that’s a project for another day.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Photo Journal: Autumn Adventures in the Mountains

In typical Colorado fashion, fall here has ranged from 80 degree scorchers to 20 and snowing.  September started off with smoky haze from wildfires in surrounding states, while October kicked off the season’s first snow storm.  Somewhere along the way, the aspen colors peaked and then fell, Ben and I adopted an adorable puppy named Juniper, and I fell deeper in love with Colorado and all its mountain glory.

We even snuck in a few camping trips with our new fluffy friend and I was lucky enough to catch my fair share of sunrises and sunsets.

A few of my favorite moments are captured below…I hope you enjoy.

Happy Halloween!! O.o

_MG_2790ps2A smoky sunset in Boulder, up Flagstaff Mountain._MG_2813psweb_MG_2867I swam in this creek countless times this summer and can’t begin to convey its beauty as I see it. But here is a try._MG_3063_MG_3123A solo adventure to a forgotten old barn somewhere in Boulder’s open space._MG_3177Aspens, a camo hammocker and her watch dog on a hike near Kenosha Pass during the height of fall color._MG_3239 2Fog rolling over Echo Lake, obscuring giant mountain peaks in the background, but reminding me to pay attention to the simplicity of the foreground._MG_3300 2-2Pondering life and listening to the snow melt on a closed road I ventured up on foot one chilly day._MG_3354 2Aspen-marbled mountains near Idaho Springs._MG_3468Baby Juniper on her first ever hike at 10 weeks old. She loved it!_MG_3502_MG_3586When seasons collide: Chautauqua Park _MG_3607A view of the first Flatiron from Flagstaff Road._MG_3650Juniper exploring Twin Lakes, CO and finding lots of deer poop to munch on when I’m not looking._MG_3733Ben and Juniper playing along the deserted shore of Lake Dillon at sunset, during our first night camping with Juniper.

As we arrived at the lake in the late afternoon we were surprised to learn that all of the campgrounds were closed for the season. The only forest service road we could find was extremely rocky and steep.

Finally we managed to accidentally discover a dirt road that led us to an employee back entrance to the exact campground we originally had in mind, right on the lake shore. Since it was closed we had the whole place to ourselves and Juniper could roam freely, which was a lot of fun to watch._MG_3887_MG_3779Me in my new favorite horse jacket soaking in the last rays along Lake Dillon, before the sun disappeared and the temp dropped to 37 degrees._MG_3856Sunrise glow gracing the tip of Peak One. _MG_3875Thank you for reading! : )

Prints available for purchase!

Hi lovely people!

I just wanted to let you know I finally finished making an online shop for my photography prints. I’ve selected a few of my favorite images from Colorado, Oregon, and Scotland from the past year as well as some that people have requested.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of a photo you’ve seen on here, my website, or Instagram but it’s not currently available- let me know! It’s super easy for me to put it up for sale. 🙂

Please also let me know if you have any questions or any confusion with the prints website.

My prints shop is also available in the the menu of my personal website.

Some of the available images include:_MG_8529-2Neist Point Lighthouse, Scotland._MG_7402Castle Stalker, Scotland.IMG_4562Rowena Crest at dawn, Oregon._MG_0874-2Rocky Mountain Layers, Colorado._MG_2652Secret Beach, Oregon.

 

 

 

Photo Journal: August road trips in Colorado

In two months I’ve explored more of this state than I had living here for two years.  Now that I have a car decked out for camping and an insatiable thirst for adventure, I’m adding places to my Colorado bucket list even faster than I can check them off.  _MG_1798

* FOGGY FOOTHILLS*

When we first moved back to Boulder in early August, it seemed the PNW fog followed us home. So, naturally, I took advantage… Whereas in previous lifetimes I would have stayed home on a rainy foggy day, now I know to grab my camera and head into the mountains.

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* ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK * 

One of the best perks of living in Boulder, CO is the proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. Within an hour’s drive you can be cruising through epic landscapes, spotting moose, and hiking to various alpine lakes.

One Sunday I decided to do a little solo overnight camping trip to RMNP to get more familiar with the park.  Highlights included driving along Trail Ridge Road at 12,000 feet in a crazy storm, watching elk cross the road, as well as a beautiful pink sunrise the following morning when it seemed like I had the park all to myself. I even saw a bull moose just ten feet away from my car as I made my way to Bear Lake to catch the sunrise glow.

_MG_0874-2Layers of pines during a storm. I was the only crazy person driving up as everyone else was driving down.  It was worth it._MG_0888_MG_0985_MG_0900A private sunrise in the park._MG_0942_MG_1135-3

* A SUNFLOWER SUNRISE * 

Sunflowers stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. A pink glow filled the air as the sun slowly poked a bright yellow hole in the sky’s giant canvas, illuminating thousands upon thousands of gold petals.

And there I was, ready, with my camera and tripod. Bleary-eyed from the hour’s drive at 5 am, mosquito bitten, barefoot, and absolutely stunned by the absolute beauty surrounding me.

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* ASPEN, CRESTED BUTTE, and THE SAND DUNES *

An ambitious itinerary for a 3 night 4 day road trip, but we made it work. We found ourselves winding through jaw-dropping passes and lush valleys on a 2 lane road. Behind each bend was an even more stunning view. It was like I was rediscovering Colorado’s beauty with every rise and fall of the mountains.

Intending to catch an infamous Maroon Bells sunrise in Aspen, we pulled up in the parking lot of this beautiful place around sunset and ate a hearty (lazy) dinner of cured salami and aged cheese on the shore of the lake.

It was a frosty morning as we joined the throngs of tripod-wielding photographers the next day. Before our eyes the sun slowly lit up the Bells, first hot pink, then orange, and finally a pale yellow. Magical is an understatement

After that (near-religious) experience, we drove to Crystal Mill where we persevered in the heat of the day on an 8 mile hike to visit the eponymous Mill, which is basically a ramshackle wooden mill from 1892 perched precariously atop a waterfall in the middle of nowhere, along a crystal clear river. It’s become a very popular place in recent years amongst photographers, much to the chagrin of the local fisherman who seemed rather grumpy about all the silly tourists. It was awesome, but don’t go there. 😉

Onward we drove along the deserted but breathtaking scenic route to Crested Butte, where we indulged our smelly, dusty selves in pizza, burgers, a local stout, Blueberry-Chai flavored ice cream, and an actual camp ground called “Oh Be Joyful” along the Slate River in a beautiful green valley.

Crested Butte might just be my new favorite place in Colorado. For a ski resort town, it’s unparalleled beauty feels understated, modest somehow. The old western-styled town is adorable and has a chilled-out, slightly messy vibe despite the presumable wealth of its ski-obsessed residents.

The last leg of our trip brought us to a unique landscape in South East Colorado: the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. A truly amazing place that you just have to see for yourselves… From the floor of the high-altitude desert of the San Luis Valley rise the tallest dunes in North America, surrounded by the impressive Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

As we arrived, a dark storm was rapidly brewing over the dunes and before long we were stuck in the middle of a downpour.  We waited it out in the car, snacking and feeling about as delirious as you would imagine after driving for 3 days straight. Finally the rain stopped and we took the opportunity to traipse around in the dunes (our glutes & calves paid the price the next day). We ended the day at a perfect little campsite overlooking the golden dunes and rested our tired butts by the fire until our eyelids grew heavy.

_MG_1988My favorite cabin near Twin Lakes, Colorado. _MG_2089-3Maroon Bells at sunrise. I was hoping for still water to catch a reflection but alas… next time! _MG_2167Crystal Mill_MG_2202Giant aspen grove en route to Crested Butte. When I stopped to snap this photo a large coyote ran across the road in front of the car and we almost thought it was a wolf. _MG_2231Cute downtown Crested Butte. (also known as Crusty Butt) _MG_2240I just love this._MG_2263Bison on Zapata Ranch, a beautiful nature preserve and working cattle ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy near the Sand Dunes. _MG_2297I abruptly pulled over and hopped out of the car to snap this raven (?) presiding over this moody landscape. _MG_2321-3Incredible skies bearing down on the sand dunes. One second it was pouring buckets, the next golden rays illuminated the dunes with a supernatural glow._MG_2442Exploring the endless depths of the dunes._MG_2513_MG_2523-2Luxe camp spot with a picnic table, bear box, fire pit, AND spotless bathrooms with running water. AND THIS VIEW. It was our last night so we decided to treat ourselves._MG_2595Ben enjoying one of life’s greatest pleasures._MG_2645Soft morning light in the dunes.

I hope you enjoyed this photo journal!

Photo Journal: Road trips through Central Oregon and the Coast

_MG_0777About two months ago Ben and I packed up our things and drove our two cars 19 hours from Portland to Boulder, with 1 overnight stop at a very Mormon household in Idaho that we booked last minute through Airbnb. While I’m super happy to be in Colorado again- it feels SO GOOD to be home- I’m looking back through my archives of images from Oregon, thinking “damn, what a gorgeous place”. It really has so many stunning natural features that even after 10 months of actively attempting to visit them all, I still only managed to visit a fraction.

In our last month, we took a couple of road trips to hit some places on our bucket list such as the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor on the southern Oregon Coast- which was INCREDIBLE- as well as some more central places such as the Skylight Cave, hot springs, waterfalls, and of course- Crater Lake.

Road tripping and camping are equal parts fun and challenging, and consequently I have way too many stories for 1 blog post on these places and the hiccups and sweet moments along the way…

But I hope the photos will be enough to ignite your imagination. If you want to know specifically where any place is, just let me know and I’ll be happy to share my secrets!

Enjoy 🙂

 

2 Weeks in Cyprus: A Mysterious Land

A few weeks ago Ben and I returned from a month spent exploring Israel and Cyprus. Israel deserves a post of its own, for now I want to focus on Cyprus, a strange and beautiful land of hazy mountains, abandoned villages, British tourists, plentiful grape vines, Greek Orthodox churches, olive groves, fig trees, occupied territory, cliff-lined beaches with pristine water, and my favorite part- halloumi cheese (which I endeavored to eat every single day until I got sick of it and took 2 days off).

To start with some basics, it’s a fairly small island nation of about 1.1 million people in the Mediterranean Sea, close to Turkey and Greece, and is a part of the Eurozone. With Greece it shares language, food, important mythological history (it’s the birthplace of Aphrodite and Adonis), and history dating back to the Bronze Age. Fast forward to the early 1900s, the British used it as a military base during the First World War and it became a British crown colony in 1925. How did Cypriots feel about this? Well, Greek Cypriots hoped for eventual union with Greece while Turkish Cypriots maintained that they were a separate ethnic group and wanted a partition between Turkish and Greek Cyprus.

Following Cyprus’s independence from the British in 1960, Turkey invaded in 1974, occupying 1/3 of the island and in 1983, Turkey declared the occupied section of Cyprus to be “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”. They really weird thing about this is that no other countries in the world recognize this and the UN condemns it. But because it’s occupied territory, when you visit Nicosia, the split capital city, you have to cross a ‘green line’ when entering ‘Northern Cyprus’ which entails handing your passport over to some officials inside a kiosk in the middle of a main shopping street.  Which we did. It was uneventful.

The result of British colonization is that you drive on the left, all street signs are in Greek and English, and there are a lot of British tourists, especially near the coastal resort areas such as Larnaka, Ayia Napa, and Paphos. Also it seems that many British people retire there or have second homes. The result of Turkish occupation is a perceptible sadness and anger. The people we spoke to just want a united country.

So, why did we choose to go to Cyprus? Well, since we had plans to go to Israel on a 10 day Birthright trip, we decided to extend our travels while we were over there and go visit another country. Cyprus was the cheapest flight from Tel Aviv.  And now we know why.

After spending two weeks in Cyprus I feel that I understand it even less than when I arrived there. The culture escapes me, and the country overall had an eerie vibe due to the number of abandoned villages, hotels, restaurants sprinkled throughout.  The young people have fled the country or at least gone to the main cities to make money, so rural Cyprus is mainly composed of very old people and, at the time, 2 very confused American tourists. If you’re wondering what the deal is, except for a bit of tourism, the economy is in the toilet. And if you want more info than that, you can try googling it, but even then, we have found there’s a black hole on the internet when it comes to Cyprus. Basically, there’s a few things going on: the Greek financial crisis of 2012, Russian mobsters using Cypriot banks as a tax haven, lack of natural resources (except for recently discovered natural gas, which Turkey is claiming rights to), and occupation by Turkey.

One place we stayed at was an adorable Airbnb apartment in the Troodos Mountains with an incredible view overlooking a pretty little town with orange roofs and heavy grape vines, a church, and a backdrop of hazy peaks. Our patio had all kinds of flowers, vines, lavender, and sage that we used to cook with. It was definitely a slow pace of life there. Imagine: cicadas thrumming loudly, lizards frozen on the walls, pine scents, hot days and cool evenings.

There were two autonomous dogs at this villa who expected our constant affection: a beagle named “Koúkla” (‘Doll’ in Greek), and Waffle, the friendly half-blind golden retriever who accompanied us everywhere. When we decided to explore the town on our first day, he trotted a few steps ahead of us, tongue flailing, tail wagging, turning around every so often to make sure we were still following along. He walked us straight into the tiny (only) supermarket where we stocked up on cheese and some other more questionable food items.

Waffle was a great tour guide, but finding restaurants and places to buy food in the mountains was no easy feat. It seemed that most times we went to go procure nourishment, everything nearby was closed. One evening we put on our nicest attire (which was not very nice), and drove to a town called Alona. We had heard rave reviews about this village, and combined with our mild starvation, our fantasies of this place were getting a little extravagant. At the very least we hoped to enjoy a hearty meal (maybe some live music or an interesting conversation with locals?) and to stock up on some more groceries. Well there was 1 grocery store (closed) and 1 restaurant, where about 20 old men sat outside drinking and all stopped talking and stared when we walked up. Finally one man approached us with a few lines of English and whispered that the reason the supermarket is closed is because the owner died 40 days ago. We wound up dining there after all (that also took some convincing), and the options were either french fries or cilantro-smothered chicken.

Another time we were restaurant-hunting and came across a place that looked like a huge restaurant (it had about 20 large tables all set up), with an elderly couple sitting outside. After a little back and forth, they understood we wanted food and so they unlocked the door, flipped on the lights, and let us choose our seats. Shortly thereafter they brought us a feast of tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, halloumi, and lamb, (clearly leftovers of some kind from their fridge but hey we were famished so it didn’t matter). Though the lamb was the scariest piece of meat we had ever seen, Ben and I soldiered on, stuffing everything in our faces and trying not to laugh or gag in the presence of our kind hosts. At one point the woman came over, picked up my fork, jabbed at a tomato on my plate, then flung it out the window and off the balcony, smiled and walked away. Rotten I guess.

I know it seems that I’m painting a pretty dark picture of a country that is bathed in sun and blessed by natural splendor and salty cheese. And for sure- how can I expect people to dote on our holiday-making first-world butts when there’s no means for them to provide for themselves? Plus, we purposefully avoided the tourist areas, without realizing what that would actually mean in terms of available amenities.

It’s just not what we had expected, that’s all. And I can’t fault Cyprus for that.

So let me show you some photos of our trip so that you can see, it’s a fine place, it’s just going through a hard time.

Scotland Pt 2: Road trip through the Highlands, Skye, and the East

What better way to see Scotland than through the bug-splattered windshield of a converted minivan (with a giant orange “Spaceships” logo painted all over it, so as to eliminate any sense of stealth), during the spring wildflower bloom and an uncharacteristic 10 day stretch of sun?

Truly, this camping trip across Scotland will go down in the books as one of my favorite journeys of all time.  Camping inside a cozy van with a remarkably comfy bed protected from the elements, proved to be better than I had imagined.  The cherry-on-top is Scotland’s “right to roam” law meaning we could basically put it in park wherever we saw fit as long as we weren’t obnoxiously encroaching on someone’s backyard.

Once we got over the sheer weirdness of being able to camp for free virtually anywhere, it became really fun and liberating to pick amazing places on the map and then actually spend the night right there! We found ourselves sleeping right along the shore of the magnificent Loch Lomond, a stones throw from the magical island Castle Stalker, on the secluded white sands of a secret beach town (that I want to keep from becoming touristy so I won’t mention the name), right in the middle of the vast Quirang landscape on the Isle of Skye, a few steps from the Fairy Pools, and on the shore of a surprisingly alpiny lake in the Cairngorm mountain range.

We also became adept at cooking our go-to camping meal every morning (and a slight variation at night), which was a salmon-olive-kale-avocado-egg scramble. Usually we ate lunch out (my daily haggis or cullen skink fix), and our tiny “refrigerator” in the van was large enough to hold a few other perishables like yogurt and almond milk, cheese, salami, etc.

Yes, we got kind of dirty, and no we didn’t shower very often- although we did treat ourselves to one night in a BnB half way through our trip and I spent almost the entire night standing under the hot water.

Before the trip, we spent an hour or so looking at places on the map and Google-image-ing them but we really didn’t plan out the entire route at all. After we picked up the van and got over the first hairy half hour of repeatedly hitting the left curb and screaming, our first stop was a petrol station where we picked up a map of Scotland.

Using that as our guide, we found way through the central Highlands and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, from Oban up to Skye on the West Coast, all around Skye, then across Scotland through Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park, and finally from Cullen all the way down the East Coast to Edinburgh.  We usually chose our campsites the day of by showing up in yet another beautiful place and driving around till we found the right place to sleep. Our worst night of camping was our last, as we were outside Aberdeen which is a large city and wound up paying to stay at a caravan lot (slash soccer field), so that I could use the shower.

None of the below photos do the experience any justice but I hope you enjoy getting a little taste of our camping adventure across Scotland!

_MG_7080A very chilly sunrise alongside Loch Lomond.  Shockingly I saw people polar swimming here the night before; their skin was lobster red from the cold._MG_7402A truly magical night at Castle Stalker, on the East Coast of Scotland. Met the nicest man here, Stuart, who invited us to camp on his land and use all of his facilities.  We decided not to though, because we found a sneaky spot just a stones-throw away from the Castle, and who could pass that up?_MG_7521-2Said sneaky spot by Castle Stalker, and me braving some seriously polar temps in the name of art._MG_7561A heavily trafficked but undeniably magical corner of Glen Coe, in the Highlands. _MG_7686You make recognize this from the Harry Potter movies- it’s the Glenfinnan Viaduct and if I had more patience, I might have seen the steam train called the Jacobite Express cross it!_MG_7755We pulled up to this jaw-droppingly beautiful and secluded beach just before sunset and had this view all to ourselves. You can’t tell from this photo but the water was crystal clear tropical blue, and the sand was white and finely grained. We jumping out of the car and ran straight onto the beach, laughing and skipping around like the children we are deep down._MG_7787Cooking up that morning’s scramble alongside a gorgeous beach. It actually did rain here for a few minutes, which might have been the most rain we experienced throughout the entire trip._MG_7798The ferry from Mallaig (mainland) to Skye._MG_7799_MG_7828Our beloved Spaceships van! We decided to cook breakfast here that morning._MG_7833This is what my hair looked like after 10 days camping. It still hasn’t quite recovered._MG_7887A view of the Black Cuillin hills from Sligachan._MG_8016The Old Man of Storr! Such an interesting and gorgeous hike._MG_8126I found a cliff to teeter on at Storr._MG_8162One of my favorite things about the Scottish countryside is the picturesque white croft houses with their twin chimneys and starkness._MG_8212A moment of sheer sunrise bliss in the Quirang._MG_8243Me giving the Quirang an air hug because I love it so much._MG_8419The abandoned innards of Neist Point Lighthouse. The door and window had been blown out and papers and rust were everywhere._MG_8450Neist Point Lighthouse._MG_8529-2Another view of this spectacular jut of land._MG_8539This highland cow had swagger. Seriously, it flaunted its stuff and posed for the camera like it knew what was up._MG_8805_MG_8928The infamous Eileen Donan Castle has an impressive museum inside of it.  In particular the kitchen has been recreated with an absurd attention to detail to look as though the staff were frozen in the middle of preparing a giant feast. It looks so real! _MG_8941This bridge in a town aptly named “Carrbridge” was built for packhorses in 1717, the oldest bridge in the Highlands. It’s surprisingly wide across and there are no barriers to prevent tourists from walking across it/damaging it further, but I didn’t try.  Apparently jumping off it into the water is a favorite pastime of the locals…I’m not that adventurous.
_MG_9110A super cool bird refuge on some distant piece the Eastern coast of Scotland… We ventured here in the hopes of spotting some puffins but either our eyes are not good enough or they were too far away to see (left the field glasses at home-darn!)._MG_9315After passing field after field of yellow flowers I finally took a chance on our last day with the van to run through a vast field of rapeseed, because I just couldn’t resist! (The farmer did catch me but was pretty nice about it, in a bemused sort of way)._MG_9137Rattray Head Lighthouse is not easy to get to!! At all! But we made it there! _MG_9522

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks so much for reading! Hope you enjoyed. 🙂