Arizona Trip – Sonoran Preserve

2016ARIZONA-66

We’ve all been to Arizona multiple times and seen a lot of what there is to see.  I made it my goal to find something new that we could all do together.  I found the McDowell Sonoran Preserve on Trip Advisor and we all decided to go.  We planned to arrive just before dusk so that while ‘hiking’ around we could see the sunset and it turned out to be so peaceful and beautiful.

I think I’ll just leave it at that and let the photos speak for themselves.

2016ARIZONA-812016ARIZONA-822016ARIZONA-622016ARIZONA-632016ARIZONA-672016ARIZONA-642016ARIZONA-592016ARIZONA-612016ARIZONA-712016ARIZONA-602016ARIZONA-75

2016ARIZONA-732016ARIZONA-832016ARIZONA-722016ARIZONA-1002016ARIZONA-652016ARIZONA-892016ARIZONA-682016ARIZONA-692016ARIZONA-96

AliLivAZ-12016ARIZONA-772016ARIZONA-912016ARIZONA-852016ARIZONA-1012016ARIZONA-992016ARIZONA-98

2016ARIZONA-792016ARIZONA-80

2016ARIZONA-872016ARIZONA-862016ARIZONA-922016ARIZONA-932016ARIZONA-1032016ARIZONA-902016ARIZONA-1022016ARIZONA-105

Pretty, right?  Highly recommend this stroll if you’re in the area.

Arizona Trip – The Zoo

2016ARIZONA-5

When my mom called to tell me that my Grandpa Pete’s beloved cat Scooter had died, my first thought was that she, we, SOMEBODY had to go visit him.  Once I spoke to my grandpa on the phone and heard how truly, truly sad he was, there was no doubt about it;  we were headed for sunny Arizona to give Grandpa Pete some love and R & R.

It turned out to be a great deal for me because my Aunt Megan and Uncle Chad came too as well as my little sister Livi.  I hadn’t seen anyone since Thanksgiving so not only was the warm sunshine good for my soul but the people didn’t hurt either.

I am convinced that mornings in Arizona are what it’s all about.  We arrived late in the evening so it was such a treat to wake up and walk outside into the beautiful mild weather. We enjoyed many mornings in the backyard and as you can see, made ourselves quite comfortable.  : )

2016ARIZONA-62016ARIZONA-7

My Grandpa is a long time collector of trains and has several actually set up in his house.  I’m not talking simply train and tracks either.  These are elaborate set ups with billowing smoke, train sounds, scenes with people and all sorts of fun stuff.  He loves it.

2016ARIZONA-3

Cool as the trains are, sitting all day at a Grandpa Bachelor pad isn’t how we love to spend our days, so we hit the ground running with the zoo on day one!

2016ARIZONA-262016ARIZONA-252016ARIZONA-27

IMG_36452016ARIZONA-382016ARIZONA-392016ARIZONA-92016ARIZONA-102016ARIZONA-18

2016ARIZONA-23

2016ARIZONA-21

2016ARIZONA-172016ARIZONA-13

2016ARIZONA-362016ARIZONA-372016ARIZONA-30

A highlight is always getting to feed the Giraffe’s!  Talk about up close and personal.

2016ARIZONA-322016ARIZONA-31

2016ARIZONA-34

Livi enjoyed the Giraffe’s, but what she was looking forward to most were the Llamas.  That is until this one spit right in her face.

2016ARIZONA-542016ARIZONA-53

There were a few tears from Livi as it was everyone else’s fist instinct to laugh, but she recovered and we moved on to more zoo fun.

2016ARIZONA-162016ARIZONA-282016ARIZONA-142016ARIZONA-422016ARIZONA-152016ARIZONA-492016ARIZONA-482016ARIZONA-522016ARIZONA-572016ARIZONA-582016ARIZONA-512016ARIZONA-502016ARIZONA-472016ARIZONA-46

2016ARIZONA-562016ARIZONA-55

The zoo is always exhausting but usually worth it.  Livi had fun and it was nice to spend a day in the sun just wandering around.  We got some great photos and enjoyed a lovely late lunch together surrounded by squawking flamingo’s.

2016ARIZONA-432016ARIZONA-44

Go West – Part Two

GoWest-40

Here’s a pretty picture of Lake Powell.

That’s about all I have to say about that.  I can see how Lake Powell would appeal to some, but to us it was sort of a dud.  Sure, it was pretty but it was absolutely packed with tourists and there was nothing to do in the nearby ‘town’.  I think if we’d have rented a boat and headed out on the lake we would have enjoyed ourselves more, but we hadn’t really set aside time nor the energy for that.  We ended up leaving a night earlier than planned to get to Telluride, but that’s for later.

First I’d like to show photos from the reason this area was worth going to.

Antelope Canyon.

IMG_1747

Yes that is real life.  It was pretty mind-blowing.

This is what you see when you arrive.

GoWest-38

Just a bunch of red earth.  Once you look closer you can see cracks and crevices in that earth, but until you go down into the canyon, you have NO IDEA what lies beneath.

GoWest-39GoWest-37

Sometimes you’d see browns and tans and beiges and then the sun would hit and everything would light up purple and red and orange.  The surfaces were as smooth as they look, almost silky or liked whipped cream at times.  I couldn’t believe I’d never seen photos of this before!

GoWest-35GoWest-32GoWest-31GoWest-33GoWest-36GoWest-30

The tour was great (you can’t go in without a guide) and he was helpful with pointing out angles and light for photographs.  I could have wandered around down there all day.  It’s one of the most naturally beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

GoWest-34

IMG_1648

Here are some random images from around Lake Powell.

IMG_1556GoWest-43GoWest-44GoWest-42GoWest-41

I know I griped on Lake Powell earlier, but the reason we went there was really for its proximity to Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon, both of which were amazing.  So thank you Lake Powell, for your location.  : )

GoWest-45

Jon had never been to the Grand Canyon and when you’re already THAT close, you’ve just gotta go.  We went to the less visited Southern Rim as it was about 4 hours from Lake Powell.  We got up early to knock it out there and back in one day.  Little did we know what the weather had in store for us.

GoWest-46GoWest-47

I’d been to the South Rim before as a teenager and remembered it being stereotypical Arizona and packed with tourists.  The Northern Rim was not like that at all.  It was quiet and very green and pasture like upon arrival, which was very unexpected.  It felt like we’d entered a midwestern state instead of Arizona.

GoWest-52GoWest-48GoWest-51GoWest-49

We did some wandering before we sat at the restaurant overlooking the canyon to watch the sunset.  Once we realized we needed to head back, it started pouring rain.  Not raining, not misting…DUMPING. RAIN.  We headed out of the park and made it about 2 miles before it started hailing golf balls.  We pulled over with no shelter in sight and just cringed silently while we listened to Jon’s new car get pummeled with hail.  For over 30 minutes.  It was complete torture but we couldn’t move due to visibility.  Miraculously, the car wasn’t damaged.  I still don’t know how that’s possible. It was totally bizarre because just prior we’d been sweating it out in the heat and were headed back to complete desert.  Weird.

GoWest-50IMG_1734IMG_1729

I tried loading the video I shot while it hailed, but I’m not tech savvy enough to upload it.  It sounds like someone smashing the car with 100 baseball bats.  Terrible.

I’m glad we went but at this point Arizona had worn us out.  We were thrilled to get back into Colorado to visit our long lusted after Telluride.  It did NOT dissapoint.

GoWest-63

Telluride is a special place and was a perfect ending to our trip.  We got there a day early after bouncing out of AZ earlier than expected and used that time to just relax.  The scenery is breathtaking, the locals friendly, and the food and shopping is quite good.  If you’ve ever debated the trip to Telluride, swing through Denver first and I’ll go with you.  It MIGHT be my favorite mountain town (although Park City was pretty sweet) and I can’t wait to get back.

GoWest-64GoWest-65

Unfortunately I don’t have a ton of photos because we were busy just chilling.  : )

I posted a lot of snapchats, but as I stated earlier I’m not tech savvy enough to get them on here.

We were in Telluride over the 4th of July so I do have some photos from the epic parade.

GoWest-59GoWest-60GoWest-58GoWest-57GoWest-61

This itinerary is really good if you’re in Denver and looking to do a loop around the area.  Let me know if you need any tips as I turned out to be quite the psychotic little planner.  : )

IMG_1757IMG_1759

Little Miss M

McKennaLee-8

This sweet angel headed in my direction for some photos a few weeks back and, when the weather turned ugly with cold and wind, we improvised on my dining room floor!  All things considered, I think they turned out pretty well.  : )

McKennaLee-6McKennaLee-13McKennaLee-1McKennaLee-3McKennaLee-14McKennaLee-11McKennaLee-20McKennaLee-19

She is just the SWEETEST little girl ever.  I think she gets it from her momma.  : )

McKennaLee-46McKennaLee-36McKennaLee-41McKennaLee-26McKennaLee-28McKennaLee-44McKennaLee-49.jpg

McKennaLee-51

Red Rocks Engagement

KelWat-50Meet Matt and Ashley.

The two of them are getting married late this summer and I just couldn’t be happier for them.  When Ashley (my very good friend) and Matt (a fellow photographer) asked me to take their engagement photos I was both excited and nervous.  Excited because I love hanging out with Miss Ashley and she is SO photogenic, but nervous about their high standards and Matt’s eye for photography.  Well, I’m putting the photos out in the world and I hope they like them!

KelWat-54KelWat-55KelWat-42KelWat-48KelWat-64KelWat-63KelWat-62KelWat-58KelWat-59KelWat-65

Matt has two adorable little nuggets that joined us for the day up at Red Rocks and they were so good in front of the camera!

KelWat-10

KelWat-8KelWat-11KelWat-19KelWat-13KelWat-14KelWat-18

Can’t forget the final piece of the puzzle… : )

KelWat-81KelWat-84KelWat-2KelWat-3KelWat-20KelWat-22KelWat-23KelWat-25KelWat-38KelWat-40KelWat-66KelWat-68

KelWat-72KelWat-77KelWat-79KelWat-80

Congratulations and I can’t wait for the wedding!!

Go West – Part One

GoWest-17

On June 26th of last year, Jon and I loaded up the car and went on a meticulously planned (by me) 4th of July road trip.  We had been talking about it forever and it ended up being one of my favorite vacations we’ve ever been on together.  There’s just something about hitting the road on a sunny day and heading west.

IMG_1390

I didn’t have my camera out much for the first couple stops so most of these early photos are from my phone.  I apologize for the average quality.  : )

Our first stop was Fort Collins, CO for lunch and then onward to Salt Lake City.  This ended up being a perfect place to stop for the night and we woke up the next morning to do a bit of exploring and eventually make our way to the beautiful Deer Valley.

Salt Lake City wasn’t really on our ‘must see’ list and was instead a place to land after driving for 6 hours.  I’m glad we got to see it, however, as it was pristinely beautiful and full of fun shopping.

IMG_1396

This whole part of the city (the mormon part) remains a bit of a mystery to me but the city can certainly be enjoyed without partaking in the religious aspects.  It was a beautiful city and it’s amenities are LEGIT.  Deer Valley, for example…

IMG_1448IMG_1750

IMG_1462

We stayed at the beautiful St. Regis Deer Valley and I enjoyed every minute of the weather and hotel.  Deer Valley is about a 30 minute lovely drive up the canyon from Salt Lake City and about a 5 minute drive to Park City, which is where we enjoyed dinner both nights.  We ate at the highly recommended Grappa Italian (which I would not recommend) and at the well known Riverhorse on Main (which I can’t recommend enough).

IMG_1446

After a fantastic dinner at Riverhorse in Park City, and on our last night in Deer Valley, we headed up the mountain for a sunset and a stroll.  We saw beautiful rolling green hills, views of the city, and a baby and mama moose crossed the road right in front of the car.  My heart is in Colorado, but Utah put up a serious fight for it.  For anyone living in Denver I would highly suggest you make the trip.  It’s under 7 hours to the good stuff and the drive is beautiful.

IMG_1447IMG_1454IMG_1455

Onward!

Jon had to drag me out of that gorgeous hotel so we could get to our next destination: Sundance!

WHO KNEW how amazing Sundance is?  I didn’t.  I suspected, but I didn’t have any idea how much we would both love it.  The drive down from Deer Valley is about an hour and it is stunning.  I never realized how close all these amazing places were to one another.  Sundance resort was just what we needed after being pampered at the St. Regis.  Don’t get me wrong, Sundance was pretty luxurious, but in a different way.  It had such a sense of adventure.

IMG_1466

This was our sweet little patio outside of our cabin we stayed in for the night.  The one mistake I made in planning this trip was that we only got one night at Sundance, but because of that, we made the most of it.

IMG_1550

IMG_1464IMG_1488

IMG_1486IMG_1485

We went on a hike to a waterfall shortly after we arrived and hustled to race the sunset.  We made it, rushed back to catch dinner and then crashed hard for a night’s sleep.

GoWest-8GoWest-1GoWest-2

GoWest-6

GoWest-4GoWest-3

IMG_1482

The next morning we woke with the sun and set out for what ended up being the biggest hike of my life.  We had a great pace the whole way through and went as far as we could before running out of food and water.  It was pretty spectacular.

IMG_1491GoWest-7GoWest-9GoWest-14GoWest-12GoWest-13GoWest-16GoWest-18GoWest-20GoWest-23GoWest-25GoWest-24GoWest-21GoWest-27GoWest-26GoWest-28GoWest-15GoWest-29IMG_1532IMG_1543

 

IMG_1526IMG_1530IMG_1479IMG_1539

It was a really long and at times very difficult (physically and mentally) hike and looking at the photos of us looking at the view from the top makes me tear up.  We really needed this trip right at the moment we took it and I remember feeling like we exhaled at that top of that mountain, unloaded if you will, and then turned our backs and walked back down.  It was awesome.  We got back to our cabin, back up our road warrior, and continued onward to our next location…Lake Powell.  Next time.

GoWest-22

Ross and Blythe

Chorn-Cohen-13Would you just look at those little lovebirds.  Ross and Blythe were set up on a ‘blind ski date’ exactly two years ago by the most amazing human that ever lived.  That human is me.  : )  It seemed only fitting that I get to shoot the engagement photos of the first successful match I have made.Chorn-Cohen-18Chorn-Cohen-17Chorn-Cohen-20Chorn-Cohen-15Chorn-Cohen-16Blythe’s dad has a home in Genesee so we drove up for the morning and let the mountains be our backdrop.  Chorn-Cohen-11Chorn-Cohen-10Chorn-Cohen-14Chorn-Cohen-28Chorn-Cohen-29

Chorn-Cohen-6Chorn-Cohen-7Chorn-Cohen-21Chorn-Cohen-22Chorn-Cohen-19Chorn-Cohen-47Chorn-Cohen-48Chorn-Cohen-24Chorn-Cohen-25

Chorn-Cohen-30Chorn-Cohen-32Chorn-Cohen-34Chorn-Cohen-44Chorn-Cohen-36Chorn-Cohen-38Chorn-Cohen-40Congratulations you two!  I’m looking forward to all that 2016 has in store for you.Chorn-Cohen-37