Weekly Photo Challenge: Autumn Nostalgia

Alabama dirt road

These photos may not be the most technically adept, but when I see them I’m always reminded of home. They bring back such vivid memories of fall in southern Alabama – football games, bonfires, snuggling with boys, laughing with girlfriends, baking with my mom and grandmas, and the start of the holidays. I’m immediately a teenager again and I can still feel that same confusing tug deep in my heart for some great unknown.

This week’s challenge is “nostalgia.”

Save

Save

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waterfall Quest

Bruarfoss waterfall, Iceland

When I saw the topic for this week’s photo challenge – “quest” – I immediately thought of our epic quest to find Bruarfoss waterfall. I originally found the waterfall on Instagram, but when browsing TripAdvisor for location information, it quickly became apparent that it’s not found by the less adventurous. After several wrong turns and a few alternative paths, we finally found this sign lying in the mud, pointing in the wrong direction. I won’t lie, I had mud well past my knees before we found the actual waterfall, but oh those colors! The fact that we had it all to ourselves after a long day fighting other tourists for photos was just heaven 🙂

Bruarfoss waterfall Iceland

Happy weekend everyone!!

Save

Kitty Dreams & Street Scenes (Morocco)

Morocco cats asleep

As I depart for the land of ice, I thought it only appropriate to share just a few more photos from last year’s adventure in the desert oasis that is Morocco. By the end of the trip, one of the running jokes was all of the photos of cats that I had on my memory cards – to this day I still refuse to apologize for a single one! Morocco seems to be a land of cats and I love it all the more for that reason. (smile) I’ve included a few of my favorite kitty shots – and a few of my favorite street scenes too!

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

A Moroccan Photo Safari

camels in the Sahara Desert, Morocco

For almost a year now I’ve been searching for the words to write about my experience with the Helicon Arts Moroccan Photo Safari last October. The best way I can think to sum it up – I have been lucky enough to travel so many places in this world and to meet some amazing people; this was the best trip yet.

Morocco ended up being my destination of choice because it was on a new continent (Africa), had a safe reputation, and had always seemed magical to me. All of these reasons turned out to be totally justified – particularly the magical atmosphere! I won’t go so far as to say that Morocco is my new favorite country, but I did really enjoy my time there. I think part of my problem was how similar the landscape was to the southwest, but I will say that the culture and the people more than made up for any of my reservations on the similar landscapes. For that reason and so many others, the country will always hold a special place in my heart.

Morocco_Seaside

I knew when planning this adventure that I wanted to go on a tour. I opted for a photography tour for the experience and to meet like-minded people. I researched so many companies before I found HeliconArts, but as soon as I read the photo tour description I knew it was the one for me! It’s a British company and the groups are typically small (usually no more than 8 I believe, including the professional photographer). The price was good and the customer service was fabulous! I would definitely consider booking with them again if they decide to expand their photography tour destinations!

photographer reflection

My group ended up  being incredibly diverse – 3 Americans and 3 Brits of various backgrounds ranging from 18 to 60+. We all had different levels of experience with photography, but no one felt left behind thanks to our amazing pro. It’s an incredibly rare thing to find 1 other person you get along with on a trip like this, nevermind 5, but that’s exactly what happened here. For that week, we were a family. Those awesome people made that trip, and they also make it difficult to talk about. I miss them, but hopefully we’ll all meet again on future travels…

Morocco_AitBenHaddou13

Morocco_RoadSide2_15

Morocco_Goats

I’ve posted some of the photos here and there on the blog, but haven’t really directly addressed the trip as I had planned. I’ve decided that in lieu of formal posts, at least for now, I’ll been posting photos with mini-stories on my Instagram instead. The tour goes back to Morocco this October 1-8 and as I understand it, there are still a couple spots left. If anyone’s interested, be sure to check out HeliconArts. If you have any questions, I’m always happy to answer!

As a bonus, here’s the end of trip video we shot on our last night. I think it does a pretty good job summing up just how much fun we had – and it’s likely the only video you’ll ever see of me on here! 😉

P.S.
Don’t forget to check out my Instagram for more Moroccan fun!

Save

Save

Mammoth Site, South Dakota

I recently discovered the Roadside America website/app (for iPhones) and it’s quickly become one of my absolute favorite references for finding weird/cool things/places to see/visit. While in South Dakota I took full advantage of my brother’s iPhone and we happened upon the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota.

The Mammoth Site is both a museum and an active paleontological site. More than 26,000 years ago, large Columbian and Woolly mammoths were trapped and died in a spring-fed pond. For centuries the bones lay buried, until discovered by chance in 1974 during excavation for a housing development when earth moving equipment exposed a fossil. Luckily, the Mammoth Site was preserved and today it is the world’s largest Columbian mammoth exhibit and a world-renowned research center for Pliestocene studies. To date, 61 mammoths have been identified, along with the remains of a giant short-faced bear, camel, llama, prairie dog, wolf, fish, and numerous other plant and invertebrate fossils.

I thought the coolest part of this site was the fact that it is both a museum and working dig site. There are programs each summer when volunteers come to the site to work – all under the curious gaze of the visiting public. It made for a rare opportunity to see work in progress and to gain a better understanding of exactly how such site are run. And, honestly, I found it way more interesting to see the bones in situ vs in a more clinical museum setting.

One of the most amusing facts of the whole tour (for me anyway) was that so far, all of the mammoths found have been male. Apparently they just happened upon this nice little water hole, thought to go for a swim, then couldn’t climb back up the slippery sides. Kind of a sad story, but for some reason it just seems like a very male scenario (sorry guys).

Overall, I definitely found this place to be worth the price of admission and a few hours of your time. If you have kids, even better!

P.S. I apologize for photo quality – the lighting here was all over the place and I only had my cell phone (rookie mistake not bringing an extra battery for the SLR – oops!).

Mammoth Site, South Dakota, archaeology

This model was totally surreal – those bones are just SO big!

 

Save

Save

Devils Tower National Monument

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming

One of the other sites on my list for this road trip to western South Dakota / eastern Wyoming was a visit to Devils Tower National Monument. The Monument was about a 2 hour drive from where we were staying in Rapid City, but the scenery made it well worth the effort. (smile)

Devils Tower is a butte in the Bear Lodge Mountains (which are a part of the Black Hills) in northeastern Wyoming. It rises quite suddenly almost 1,300 feet above the Belle Fourche River, standing 867 feet from base to summit. The area was designated as a monument by President Theodore Roosevelt (beginning to see why he made the mountainside at Mount Rushmore) in 1906.

This site is considered sacred to the Lakota and many other tribes that have a connection to the area. Local tribal names for the butte include Aloft on a Rock (Kiowa), Bear’s House (Cheyenne, Crow), Bear’s Lair (Cheyenne, Crow), Daxpitcheeaasáao, “Home of bears” (Crow), Bear’s Lodge (Cheyenne, Lakota), Bear’s Lodge Butte (Lakota), Bear’s Tipi (Arapaho, Cheyenne), Tree Rock (Kiowa), and Grizzly Bear Lodge (Lakota). The name Devil’s Tower originated in 1875 during an expedition led by Col. Richard Irving Dodge when his interpreter misinterpreted the name to mean Bad God’s Tower, which then became Devil’s Tower. All information signs in that area use the name “Devils Tower”, following a geographic naming standard whereby the apostrophe is eliminated.

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming

According to the Kiowa legend, before the Kiowa came south they were camped on a stream in the far north where there were a great many bears, many of them. One day, seven little girls were playing at a distance from the village and were chased by some bears. The girls ran toward the village and the bears were just about to catch them when the girls jumped on a low rock, about three feet high. One of the girls prayed to the rock, “Rock take pity on us, rock save us!” The rock heard them and began to grow upwards, pushing the girls higher and higher. When the bears jumped to reach the girls, they scratched the rock, broke their claws, and fell on the ground.

The rock rose higher and higher, the bears still jumped at the girls until they were pushed up into the sky, where they now are, seven little stars in a group (The Pleiades). In the winter, in the middle of the night, the seven stars are right over this high rock. When the people came to look, they found the bears’ claws, turned to stone, all around the base.No Kiowa living has ever seen this rock, but the old men have told about it – it is very far north where the Kiowa used to live. It is a single rock with scratched sides, the marks of the bears’ claws are there yet, rising straight up, very high. There is no other like it in the whole country, there are no trees on it, only grass on top. The Kiowa call this rock “Tso-aa”, a tree rock, possibly because it grew tall like a tree. {Told by I-See-Many-Camp-Fire-Places, Kiowa soldier at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1897.}

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming

These “claw marks” form hundreds of parallel cracks which makes Devils Tower one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in North America. Hundreds of visitors each year make the climb up to the summit. (Can you find the climbers in the last two photos??)

I didn’t look at any photos prior to our journey to Devils Tower, so I had no idea what to expect. Seeing this massive butte rise out of the gently rolling hills of northeastern Wyoming was…magical. Seeing it grow as we came closer, I was struck by how odd and out of place this bit of rock was – and I can totally understand why it’s considered a sacred area.

We enjoyed beautiful sunshine during our hike around the butte. We spent some time watching the intrepid climbers and taking a hundred photos of the rock, trying to capture the mystical feel of the place. I don’t know if I succeeded in that personally, but it’s certainly a location I’ll never forget!

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save