Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona

I’ve wanted to create a more tailored site for my photography for a while now. It’s been a slow, frustrating business trying to get everything perfect – and to be totally honest, I’m not 100% happy with my efforts yet. But I’ve decided to go ahead and put it out there anyway – I don’t think we’re ever totally ready for new endeavors. This beloved space certainly wasn’t perfect upon its creation; in fact, it wasn’t meant to be! I love being able to come here and write whatever I want (hence the name).

Separating out the travel stories and photos will give me greater license to write whatever I want here while giving me a more “professional” space for something I’ve wanted to try for a while now (and will disclose in some future post). In the meantime, I plan on writing here as inspiration strikes and sharing (aka “reblogging”) posts from ptiphotography so no one misses out on the fun! (smile)

PTI Photography

I first saw a photo of Antelope Canyon in college. I remember thinking that it must be a place in some far flung corner of the world – I was actually pretty surprised when I realized it was in Arizona! When I moved here almost 10 years, I immediately put Antelope Canyon on my Arizona “Must See” list. It took me 9 years, but this May I finally checked it off that list.

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located just east of Page, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. The only way to access the canyon is with an organized tour. There are several options available, and I would recommend checking TripAdvisor for reviews. There are two areas to choose from – Upper Antelope Canyon (aka the Crack) and Lower Antelope Canyon (aka the Corkscrew).

Upper Antelope Canyon is the most frequently visited by tourists as its entrance and entire…

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Whose Candle?

I don’t know that I’ve ever done a reblog, but since this topic really seems to be a theme for me today, it seemed an appropriate post to start. Kindness truly is the one thing that we can all give that’s absolutely free. It seems that less and less people remember that these days, but then perhaps we also forget to remind each other from time to time. So here’s my reminder – be kind. Pass it on. Smile.
And of course please check out my friend’s blog for more inspiration and some great make-you-smile stories! 🙂

Nuggets of Gold

via Daily Prompt: Candle

Dameon) To honor Brandon I light a candle and put it in his room. Then I sit there watching the light burn on.:

Candles really do brighten up the dark! Whose candle are you being today? Whose world are you helping to make a little brighter?

No, you can’t take away all the darkness, but you can shine through it. There is a dear friend who a while ago now, said something to me that I won’t forget. I had written about the dark times our family was going through. They wrote in response at how I will get to the end of the tunnel, and when I do they will be there holding the light. Touched my heart.

This came back to me, as I was talking with another friend this afternoon. They were saying how they really wish there was more that they could do for us right now. This person has done A LOT! To sum up that statement though, it meant, I wish I could…

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Pondering Independence [July Goal Check-In]

Well hello summer! I wish I could say I was happy to see you but, well, I live in Phoenix and 110+ is just not pleasing. Sorry. Nonetheless, all this indoor time has given me lots of time for reading and for thinking, both of which I’ve really needed and enjoyed! So here’s to summer and July goals…

Yellowstone National Park, Bison

June Recap

1. Take lots of pictures at Yellowstone. So this one is totally a “check, check, check!” I was playing with a new camera lens so I probably took way more photos than was actually necessary, but sometimes it takes a few clicks to get the photos right! I’ve shared a couple photos around here (here, here, and here), but there are more to come this month I promise!

2. Personal decisions. So yeah, this was a great big fail all the way around. I think my personal life is even more screwy now than it was. I really want to say I’ll just let this one run it’s course naturally, but realistically that’s just my way of justifying my procrastination. If I’m ever going to feel better – physically or otherwise – I need to get rid of some stress. And really it’s not fair to any parties involved. Maybe July?

3. Create a more detailed budget. I found an awesome budgeting app that helps me to track my expenses and puts them into categories so I can see where my money disappears every month. So far I really like it, but haven’t really had it long enough to see any results. Expect a full report in a few months!

Yellowstone National Park bison on roadway

July goals

1. Plan a baby shower. My BFF over in Cali is having a baby girl in September and, as a pseudo-auntie, I’m absolutely so excited! Since the due date is rapidly approaching, it’s past time I got myself in gear and got this planned out. Now to find themes for a non-traditional mommy…

2. Find an outlet. June turned out to be an incredibly stressful month, and sadly it was just a preamble to July. I really need to find and commit to an active outlet to help cope with the stress. This isn’t really an optional goal given the ongoing health concerns. I’m thinking it’s time to find a not-hot yoga studio (smile)

3. Call my grandparents every week. My grandfather is steadily declining and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to fly back soon. Unfortunately, I can’t make it back for the 4th, but I’m hoping to go back early August (if not before). I’ve been trying to stay in contact more often, but I feel like I need to make a more concerted effort.

4. Organize all of my photos. I’ve been meaning to do this forever now and it’s far past time I stopped procrastinating. I started this task but failed to finish due to technical difficulties. Now that those have been remedied and I have zero desire to trudge around outside in the heat, there’s no time like the present (smile). Not only will I be a happier camper, but I’ll also have better access to lovely photos to share with you guys (win/win)!

How’s your summer going so far??



My Travel Style Evolution

Happy Travel Tuesday everyone! I’m back just in time for this week’s themed prompt all about my travel style! Everyone certainly differs in the way they travel – from the first class to the backpacker budget – but we all have one thing in common – a love of travel!

family vacation, Gatlinburg Tennessee

Family vacay

Let me give you a little background on my travel style first. Growing up my family normally went somewhere out of state about once a year (almost always to a surrounding state). We always traveled by car, leaving at ungodly hours because my dad was too anxious about getting there to sleep. Bathroom breaks were few and far between, so you had to monitor fluid intake pretty closely (smile). Once we arrived at our destination, the next challenge (if we weren’t staying with family) was to find a hotel room. Now I’m not entirely sure if this was just the days before the internet or my parents didn’t believe in planning that far ahead, but I remember driving around for what seemed like forever comparing room rates before finally returning back to the “best deal.” To this day my dad still uses this method if someone doesn’t essentially force him into booking ahead.

The other interesting thing that was a part of the family traveling style was packing enough groceries to keep us all fed through the trip. We maybe ate out once or twice in a week long adventure. Looking back I see now that it was my parents’ way of trying to save money so we could do more/stay longer/etc., but at the time I just assumed that’s how everyone did it. I’m not sure we ever traveled with any set itinerary, but we usually went to a destination that didn’t necessarily need one – e.g., the beach, a park, etc. I can’t remember us ever taking a true road trip with stops along the way. It was always destination and home.

I share this background in order to give you a better idea of where some of my travel style quirks originated. In some ways I stay true to the family philosophies, but I also learned a great deal about what I did not want to continue in my own.

Ferry Caledonian MacBrayne

I Mix Up My Modes

Planes, trains, automobiles – boats, buses, bicycles – and a few other things I prefer not to think about (smile). I love to mix up my methods of transportation. Trains are by far my favorite way to travel, but I love to try out whatever happens to be popular in the place I’m in. I’ve tried out my fair share of contraptions over the years (with somewhat mixed results), and have certainly made some memories en route!

Growing up, cars were the primary method of moving around. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good road trip, but only if it’s a true road trip where I get to stop along the way and see cool stuff (smile). Unlike my family, I always want to stop and see the silly roadside attractions and/or photo ops along the way. On the flip side, much like my dad I tend to prefer an early start to my day and to avoid any unnecessary stops (they cut into fun time). I also always keep snacks on hand, just to keep everyone happy until meal time.

Planes and I still have a love/hate relationship. I’ve gradually grown into a semi-frequent flier now, but I was definitely a “nervous Nelly” in the beginning. I was mostly nervous about navigating airports, but once I figured out that all you have to do is follow the signs and be very, very patient, I learned to sit back, relax, and watch all the crazy, wonderful people go by. I still don’t like flying per se, but if it gets me there quicker then I’m all for it (smile).

Mammoth Hot Springs Cabin Yellowstone National Park

I Book Ahead

I am a Type A planner by nature – I can’t help it! But I have learned over the years to stick with loose plans instead of timed itineraries. Unlike my parents, I pretty much have to have a room booked before I arrive. I may change my mind when I see the place, but I like to know that worst case scenario there’s a destination to go towards when I arrive. I’m okay booking rooms from one place to the next, but I can’t remember a time I’ve ever had luck arriving and shopping around.

As for the types of accommodations, it depends on the trip. I’ve stayed in everything from a 5-star hotel to a sex hotel (wish I was kidding) and quite a few places in between (smile). My accommodations depend largely on my budget and the experience I’m looking for, but I will say this – I’ve rarely found myself finding true local culture at large resorts.

Dunchraigaig, Kilmartin, Scotland, UK

I Like To Know My Options (But Also To Leave Room For Surprises!)

I’m an active traveler. I want to stop and see the world’s largest ball of dental floss. If there’s a cathedral, church, or other religious building in town, lead me to it! I’m good for a lazy day on the beach here and there, but I can never sit still for very long. I’m definitely one of those people that need a vacation from their vacation! I do like to have an idea of what a place has to offer in terms of activities and sights, but I try not to plan exactly what to see and when. I do like to try to group activities in the same area on the same day for the sake of efficiency, but I’m rarely committed to doing anything at any time. My favorite parts of taking in the sights are the surprises I stumble upon along the way!


I Pack Light

Until just a few years ago, I was totally a chronic over-packer. I traveled like I was Paris Hilton and my trip budget always suffered for it in some way. Plus it’s really no fun to drag a 60 pound suitcase on/off water taxis in Venice. Just…yeah. But a few years ago my friend and I traveled to SE Asia and I discovered the fine art of backpacking. I’ve been sold ever since (smile)! I’m a huge proponent of packing clothes I can discard along the way to make room for new goodies, and I’m always looking for new tips and tricks to keep things lighter. A good, custom-fitted backpack is well worth the investment for any budget traveler. (It’s also the only way you can get a bag to an eco-lodge ½ mile off the road through a rainforest…just sayin’).

What’s your travel style??

Come join the fun with BonnieKaeleneSammy, and Van!!

Travel Tuesday

Life Lately (or at least this week)

My weird weekend has flowed on into a weird week. Isn’t it funny how that works? Some say that it’s all a matter of perspective and changing your thoughts. Normally I might agree, but then there are some periods of time where I have to beg to differ. Sometimes, no matter what you do, the weirdness just keeps coming…

It doesn’t help that I feel like I’ve been run over by a large moving object of some nature. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few months ago, but after a few recent discussions with other doctors, it seems like it may be something more/else. Exciting news. So back to the doctor I go – let’s see if I can find one willing to listen for longer than 10 minutes before making a snap decision and prescribing some crazy (literally) pills (which I refuse to take). I’ve had to make a lot of lifestyle changes, but for the most part I seem to be able to keep things relatively normal using a more holistic approach. The problem I seem to have lately is twofold – 1) this is all relatively new to me; and 2) sometimes my awesome holistic approach works too well and I forget why I can’t do some of the things I once could.  This, combined with a lot of silly stress, equates to a week like this – where there is no place I would rather be than in my bed with a book and the felines. I don’t mean that in a close-all-the-curtains-I-hate-the-world way, more like I’m-just-that-tired way.

I haven’t even been able to keep up with my editorial calendar this week! Yes, I know there are sometimes more important things, but I do love this little blog here and I miss it when I get thrown out of my rhythm. So today you get a rambling “major admission” post. Lucky for you guys (wink).

In an effort to perk this post up a little bit, here are some fun not-weird things that have happened this week (so far):

  • I went to see Diana Gabaldon speak here in Phoenix last night. She’s a wonderfully entertaining speaker and incredibly patient when it comes to signing books and indulging the crowd. Luckily, she actually lives in Scottsdale (i.e., not very far away), so she does events nearby fairly frequently. I’m hoping to have the whole Outlander set signed eventually (happy smile).
  • Also, my friend sent me this link as proof that our lives are successful indeed even if not in the ways we expected.
  • I finalized plans to go to Cali for the 4th of July celebrations! So excited to see my friends and the beach (smile).
  • No matter what I feel like, there is always, always kitties and puppies and all manner of other sweet, cuddly things that need love. And that’s the kind of love I have no problem giving unconditionally (silly smile).
Huntington Beach, California, Sunset, Ocean

Looking forward to this view 🙂



Pondering – Favorite Songs & Lyrics

You know that moment when a favorite song or a maybe just a song you haven’t heard in a while comes on and you just can’t help but rock that one part that just really seems to speak to you (even if that does happen to be the entire song – smile)?? I seem to have a lot of those moments, which always amuse me considering I refuse to even sing aloud to myself most of the time. But much like a favorite line of poetry you can’t help but reading out loud, exceptions must be made to the singing moratorium from time to time (smile).

some ecards, singing

This applies equally to songs I don’t know & the ones I do!!

My love of music comes second only to my love of reading. It’s odd to me that I have no qualms about quoting a poem or a book in an appropriate context, but I rarely do the same with song lyrics. I mean I’ve always felt that song lyrics are essentially a form of poetry set in motion, so I’m not quite sure what differentiates the two. At any rate, I do think it gives an interesting glimpse into a person as to what song or part of a song speaks to them enough to warrant a sing-along (especially for the non-singers like myself). So today I thought it would be fun to share a rather random sample of the songs – and the particular lyrics – that never fail to get a response out of this tight-lipped girl. Some are just catchy, others have meaning, and a couple I have actually deemed quote worthy on occasion!

Dark Paradise Lana Del Ray

Dark Paradise – Lana Del Ray

Mad Season  Matchbox Twenty

Mad Season – Matchbox Twenty

The Importance of Being Idle  Oasis

The Importance of Being Idle – Oasis

Let It Be The Beatles

Let It Be – The Beatles

No Rain Blind Melon

No Rain – Blind Melon

Mary Jane's Last Dance, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Mary Jane’s Last Dance – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Icky Thump, The White Stripes

Icky Thump – The White Stripes

Stars, One Republic

Stars – One Republic

Gravity John Mayer

Gravity – John Mayer

Here Comes Horses, Tabitha's Secret

Here Comes Horses – Tabitha’s Secret

I’ve also created a Grooveshark playlist where you can listen to the full songa as well as a few other favorites that didn’t make it on to this list.

Do you have a favorite song or lyrics that you can’t resist singing aloud??