Category Archives: Travel

Arizona Trip – The Zoo


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.  : )


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.


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!







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



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.


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.



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.


Go West – Part Two


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.


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

This is what you see when you arrive.


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.


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!


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.



Here are some random images from around Lake Powell.


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.  : )


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.  : )


Go West – Part One


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.


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.


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…



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).


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.



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.


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.




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.





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.




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.


Pelican Lake 2015

It’s that time of year again!  Time for the ‘annual lake visit’ post where everybody reading this blog falls asleep looking at variations of the same photos I’ve posted every year regarding this trip.  People smiling!  People doing water sports!  People drinking!

Look, I get it.  You know that people go to the lake and it’s really fun.  You don’t need to see photos of it year after year.  However, the simplest way for me to get said pictures in front of the faces of the people who care, is to post them here.

So deal.  : )

Also, there are babies this year!  And TWO dogs instead of one!  And people smiling!

The first day there deserves no photos because it was dark, rainy, windy and overall shitty.  I don’t want to talk about it.

Luckily, Miss Charlotte showed up with her parents and brought smiles and sunshine our way.  2015Pelican-2IMG_2060_2

Day two was much better as the sun came out and we got out on the water for a bit. 2015Pelican-32015Pelican-1 2015Pelican-52015Pelican-62015Pelican-7Have you ever seen anything cuter IN. YOUR. LIFE????  Look at those chunky legs.  : )

We made the routine trip to Zorbaz for terrible food and average drinks where we met up with the last piece of our amazing puzzle who had just arrived from Minneapolis.  The Strub Family!  We like them because they bring Miss Ellery.2015Pelican-10


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2015Pelican-112015Pelican-82015Pelican-122015Pelican-152015Pelican-132015Pelican-142015Pelican-182015Pelican-162015Pelican-172015Pelican-19As you can see, Charlotte got passed around quite a bit.  Poor girl never got a break from us.  : )

That evening, Jon and I gave Ellery her birthday present to celebrate her 2nd birthday.  I think Jon ALMOST had more fun picking it out than Ellery did playing with it…almost.2015Pelican-20 2015Pelican-21 2015Pelican-22 2015Pelican-23 2015Pelican-24 2015Pelican-25 2015Pelican-26Push a button and it drives.  What more could a two year old want!?2015Pelican-27 2015Pelican-28 This night was SO beautiful.  Jon, Michael, Jessica and I drove four wheelers up through shanty town to lay in the grass and stare at the insane sky full of stars.  There aren’t many places I’ve ever been that you can see stars like you can in MN on a clear night.  It was great.2015Pelican-29The following day was pretty crappy weather as well, but when the sun peeked out for a brief moment we made the most of it.2015Pelican-37 2015Pelican-36 2015Pelican-34 2015Pelican-33 2015Pelican-39 2015Pelican-31 2015Pelican-32 2015Pelican-302015Pelican-382015Pelican-412015Pelican-402015Pelican-512015Pelican-53These three (soon to be four) were so sweet cruising the sandbar that I had to snag some shots.2015Pelican-42 2015Pelican-43 2015Pelican-44 2015Pelican-45 2015Pelican-46 2015Pelican-47 2015Pelican-48 2015Pelican-492015Pelican-502015Pelican-522015Pelican-572015Pelican-582015Pelican-562015Pelican-552015Pelican-542015Pelican-642015Pelican-592015Pelican-602015Pelican-612015Pelican-622015Pelican-632015Pelican-65I just love these photos of a beautiful momma with her almost two year old.  2015Pelican-66The wheels almost came off on Saturday when the weather took an ugly turn.  Not to be defeated, we chose gun shooting and beer pong to keep our spirits  up.  2015Pelican-692015Pelican-722015Pelican-732015Pelican-742015Pelican-702015Pelican-712015Pelican-762015Pelican-782015Pelican-79Everyone looks all cute shooting the BB gun.  Below, you’ll find out why I’m never in any photos. Because THIS is what happens when I hand my camera over.  : )2015Pelican-802015Pelican-812015Pelican-82Not to let weather get the best of us (but mostly because of the beer pong) we jumped into the ocean like lake before dinner at Spanky’s.  It was a wonderful way to cap off the weekend, both the freezing lake jump AND the dinner.   : )2015Pelican-832015Pelican-842015Pelican-852015Pelican-862015Pelican-882015Pelican-87On Sunday Ellery celebrated her 2nd birthday with singing, world famous cormorant cinnamon rolls and a bunch of old people.  It was awesome!IMG_2132_2IMG_2125_2Before heading to the cabin, I asked Jon (knowing already what my answer would be) what he was looking forward to the most.  He said ‘it’s going to be good for my head, to slow down a bit’.  I said I felt similar, that it was going to be good for my heart, to spend that time with these people.

It was.  IMG_2121_2


A Weekend in SF


Hello strangers.

Walk with me as I stroll down memory lane to my latest trip to San Francisco.

As everyone in the world knows, San Francisco is a hideous place.  I hardly took any photos.



My first morning there we hustled to Starbucks, hopped in a car, and continued to hustle our buns in order to catch our ferry to brunch.


Doesn’t everyone ferry to brunch?

Anyway.  My friend Erin has lived in SF for a few years and my OTHER friend Ryan just recently joined her there.  They live right down the hall from each other.  LITERALLY!  My FOMO (fear of missing out) had never been higher.  I am happy to report that we didn’t skip a beat in becoming conjoined triplets for the weekend.





SanFran-8I swear we were triplets.  I just don’t have proof.  SOMEBODY had to take the exquisite photos. SanFran-10SanFran-9You may have noticed the subtle fact that the girls are in workout clothes.  Well, this is because the plan for the day was an alcohol free brunch to be followed by a 3+ hour hike.

About 3 mimosas in we bailed on that and decided to call our chauffeur (E’s boyfriend Stanley) and have him charter us to Napa.

Way. Better. Idea.


Why was this a way better idea you ask?

Aside from the complete and total obvious (the wine) …it’s because of the light.

There is nothing…NOTHING…like California light.

SanFran-25 SanFran-24 SanFran-32 SanFran-33 Look at the next photo.  I cannot even handle how inferior the light (photography wise) in Colorado is compared to this.  It’s so ethereal and so gorgeous.  SanFran-29

Alas, I had priorities consisting of laughing, bonding, and wine drinking.  The light would have to wait.

SanFran-27SanFran-28SanFran-30SanFran-26SanFran-31Napa-1SanFran-20The three of us are natural ‘seekers of the sun’ if you will.  So we sought the sun right into an incredibly thick and green patch of grass.  We didn’t leave until the sun did.  I love these photos so much and have to thank Stanley for capturing them.
Napa-3 Napa-4 Napa-5Napa-6 Napa-7 Napa-8

This day was perfect.

SanFran-36 SanFran-34 SanFran-35 SanFran-37 SanFran-38The rest of the weekend was spent recovering (too much wine) replacing E’s broken iPhone (too much wine) and of course, eating all the food (with more wine).  My last night there, we enjoyed a chilly sunset on the water and made plans for our next adventure.  SanFran-39 SanFran-42SanFran-41SanFran-40 See ya next time SF.  SanFran-43


Here are some fun iPhone shots as well.

unnamed-6Pretty wall at the SF airport!

unnamed-3The view from Ryan’s window.

unnamed-1Ferrying to brunch!

unnamed-5Casualty of brunch.  : )

unnamed-7Good life choices.

unnamed-4I left my heart in Napa.

unnamed-2Love.  Love.  Love.

unnamed-9Napa Recovery

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetShopping Day

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetFamily.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAirport Bound

Punta Mita

PuntaMita-7Jon and I went to Punta Mita back in early February with his company.  Last year, the trip was in Costa Rica (read parts one and two) and we had such a great time.  This year was no different.  The resort was breathtaking and we both got some incredible R & R.

I decided to only bring one camera with one lens to avoid feeling tethered to my camera bag.  It worked out great!  I didn’t even take my camera out of the room, except for once.  The third or fourth day Jon had an early golf round, so I took the morning to watch the sun rise, wander the grounds, and snap some photos to bring home.  It’s a pretty refreshing way to do it.  The company has hired photographers at the resort and they are pretty great about getting photos of us, which gives me the freedom to leave my camera behind.  I don’t have any great stories like last year, so I’ll just let the photos do the talking.

PuntaMita-17PuntaMita-11PuntaMita-8 PuntaMita-3PuntaMita-15Mexico2 PuntaMita-19PuntaMita-4PuntaMita-30PuntaMita-18PuntaMita-29Mexico1PuntaMita-24Mexico3PuntaMita-27PuntaMita-31PuntaMita-10PuntaMita-35Mexico4PuntaMita-36PuntaMita-28PuntaMita-2PuntaMita-33PuntaMita-37

Here are some iPhone photos and the shots from the photographers.  I should mention, we were there over Bronco’s Super Bowl weekend, hence the football photos.

PuntaMita-19PuntaMita-18The only four in the whole place from the Denver office!  PuntaMita-1PuntaMita-8PuntaMita-3Cheering what I think was the ONLY good thing the Broncos did the entire game.PuntaMita-5PuntaMita-6Things are starting to get ugly at this point.  Well, cheers to next year?PuntaMita-7PuntaMita-2IMG_5941IMG_5943PuntaMita-17They always do an excursion day where you can choose from about 30 options and go have some fun.  We chose whale watching and snorkeling and this was the only time I wished I would have had my beautiful zoom lens because the whales were out of control.  It was incredible.IMG_5952PuntaMita-10PuntaMita-11 PuntaMita-12 PuntaMita-13PuntaMita-14PuntaMita-16What?  Don’t tell me you’ve never been tempted.  : )PuntaMita-15IMG_5926IMG_5928IMG_5929IMG_5951Mexico5

Fancy dinners and cocktails parties filled the evenings with a costume party to send us out with a bang on the last night.   PuntaMita-22 The theme this year was Prohibition Era.  I went the flapper route and Jon, utilizing his creative juices, went as a speak easy bartender serving ‘moon-shine’.  PuntaMita-23He’d moon ya and then shine a flashlight in your face.  Some people got it, most just thought he was wearing a butt.  I thought it was hilarious and it only matters what I think, right?PuntaMita-24It was a fun week and more important it was filled with fun new experiences with my favorite guy.  Thank you for reading!  I’ve got a few more posts in the works so check back this week! PuntaMita-9IMG_5943IMG_5918

Without further ado…Paris, part deux.

I’ll admit that it took us a few days to get over the “culture shock” of being in Paris.  Although I guess if I’m being honest, it was more a combination of exhaustion and confusion than it was straight up culture shock.  There are differences in culture obviously, but not many.  Paris functions similarly to any large American city, just in a different language and with MUCH better dressed people.   But when you spend your first few days in a foreign country, after traveling all day and night to get there, and are up at the crack of dawn to be on foot until the late, late night…things  can get weird.

The biggest struggle for Jon and I was food.  The finding it and the eating it.  You make a plan for the day and it’s full of grand things to see and the energy to see them all.  You depart the apartment with zest, take the metro to successfully arrive at your destination (nailed it), walk your ‘American in Paris’ self all up and down the museum and then…you nearly collapse of starvation.  It’s suddenly 2:00 and you’ve consumed nothin’ but culture.  You and your travel companion begin glaring at each other as you peer down the streets for something to eat.  The problem is, you don’t speak French and you’re both ‘Minnesota Nice’ and are so afraid of upsetting some snotty Parisian waiter that you’re paralyzed with indecisiveness.

It’s a real bitch of a cycle.

The other problem is that, as a tourist, the areas you frequent are ‘tourist areas’ and the restaurants, service and food in those areas are total crap.  Even by American standards.  The first three days we were there I was so let down by the French food that I thought my heart would break.  Where was the exquisite cheese?  The decadent wine for lunch?  The chocolate and pastries and bread?

Finally, the last straw had arrived.

Our third night, we used the magic of the internet to look up a nice place for dinner in our neighborhood.  Jon made me call for reservations because I was able to bullshit French a fraction more than he could.  Whew.  Exhale.  We have a reservation.  They know we only speak English.  They hate us for it, but at least they won’t be surprised.

We arrived cloaked in nice clothes and great attitudes.  Nothing could break our spirits.  LET’S EAT!  We were starved after two and a half days of pieced together nonsense.  Right inside the front door we found ourselves smack in the middle of a baseball analogy…

Strike one: confusion over reservation and therefore sat at a communal table with real live French people.

Strike two: Ali reads the menu and slightly panics when she realizes it’s all red meat (which she can’t, won’t, and doesn’t eat).

But wait!  The waitress points out the prawn entree.  Whew.  We’re saved.


Strike three: chef says they’re sold out.  It’s all bloody, chewy steaks from here on out!


Ali’s out.  Ali is SO out.

I’m ashamed to admit this but I was so hungry, so trying to be in love with Paris, and so disappointed that I welled up with tears and quickly excused myself to the bathroom where I had about a three day overdo sob-fest.  It felt fantastic.

I gathered myself, went back to the giant farm table, and got a GD grip.  The waitress waved her arms around in such a beautiful and elegantly Parisian way while suggesting some vegetable dish for the train-wreck American and I just nodded my head.  Jon’s meal was incredible, mine was mushy, and we carried on.  It’s why wine was invented.

One point during the meal a new guest was seated at our table next to me.  At this point I was so deprived of the English language that I noticed her book right away.  IT WAS IN ENGLISH!   I decided to say hello.

“Hi my name is Ali and we’re visiting Paris and are eating here at the same table as you and you’re reading a book and it’s in English and will you please talk to us and can it please be in English and it’s so nice to meet you!!!”

Or something.  Something like that.

She was downright LOVELY with a Scottish accent so thick I could barely understand her.  But I didn’t care.  Her voice was that of an angel.  An English speaking angel.  The evening ended on a good note (because of the wine) and we walked home with our arms around each other (wine) and decided that tomorrow would be even better (wine).

Let me wrap this up.

The next evening (after a day full of more food disasters) we found our way to Montmartre where a wine a cheese class that I’d signed us up for was being held.  Finding this place was a stressful nightmare.  Map-quest didn’t understand French any more than we did.  It also didn’t help that the streets in Paris are just like the people, they’re really difficult just for the sheer fun of it.  This class was the ONLY event of the entire vacation that was ‘scheduled’ and time sensitive.  Thankfully we arrived just in time and ready for a cocktail.

We are greeted in English.  Thank God.

The woman is so kind and lovely and directs us downstairs to the wine cellar where the class will be held.  Our host speaks English.  Double thanks be to God.  How could this get any better?

Wine Human: Hey guys, where are you visiting Paris from?

Sad Humans: We’re from Denver.  You know where that is because you’re clearly American!  Where are you from?

Wine Human: Well I’ve lived in Paris for 9 years, but originally I’m from Minnesota.  Minneapolis actually.

I LITERALLY had to stop myself from crying of relief.


It was so bizarre and so amazing and so necessary.  That night was obviously one of our favorite nights.  If you ever visit Paris, please look this company up.  The Minnesota part aside, it was spectacularly informative and wonderful.  It’s called Cook’n with Class and Preston was our host.  He was marvelous.  When we ate every single thing he put in front of us with animalistic vigor, he asked us what the hell was going on and we told him our sad, sad story.  He explained everything and made the whole debacle so simple for us.  In American culture, dining out is about the experience.  The decor, the ambiance, being entertained by the waiter, the whole show of it.  In Paris, it’s all about the food.  The end.  The waiters are working, not entertaining, and they stay out of your way.  It’s ALL about the food and the interaction of who you’re dining with.

It all clicked.

After that, Jon and I adapted a ‘we don’t give a rats’ attitude and it was the best decision we made.  We stopped being self conscious and started having fun.  We just acted how we wanted, ordered what we wanted, dressed how we wanted and ate INCREDIBLE meals.  Getting out of the tourist areas helped, but being selfish and self involved helped even more.  It was the turning point for us and the trip was pretty smooth sailing after that.

Anyway, enough tourist trauma.

Let’s start with the day we went to Montmartre.  What a different animal this place was than where we’d previously been.  Classic Paris up on a hill.  If you’ve seen Moulin Rouge than you can imagine this neighborhood.  We hopped off a metro stop and wandered up the winding streets to the Basilica of the Sacrè Coeur.  It’s perched upon the highest point in the city and provides spectacular views.

Paris-69Paris-71ParisMashup5(basilica)From below, on the blissfully sunny day were there, it looked like a white castle in the clouds.  No cameras were allowed inside, so the stunning exterior will have to do.Paris-77 Paris-76 ParisMashup6(monmarte) The neighborhood was visibly older than others and so full of charm.  I wish we had spent more time there, but we had to rush off to the above noted wine and cheese class.  Paris-75Farewell Montmartre!

Hello Louvre.

Listen.  I know I’ve said ‘I just can’t describe this that or the other’ over and over.  But this?  THIS!  I can’t describe this at all.  Except with this one word: GARGANTUAN.  Overwhelmingly gargantuan.  Paris-116 ParisMashup4(Louvre)Paris-42 Paris-79Paris-45 Paris-44 Paris-115Paris-78 Paris-80Paris-113 Paris-91Paris-114The exterior and courtyard are so iconic that it was bizarre to even stand there.  I kept having to remind myself that yes, you’re actually here.  Soak it up girl.

If I had taken photos of every beautiful thing inside, I’d still be there.  Instead I tried to pull my camera out sporadically.  When inspired or when I wanted to remember a specific piece of art.

ParisMashup10(louvre) Paris-108 Paris-107 Paris-106Paris-81ParisMashup9(louvre) Paris-112Paris-84Paris-103 Paris-102 I mean….

Do you know how old that is?!?!?!?!  It’s MESSED UP!  Awesome.  Mostly the ‘awe’ part.Paris-101 Paris-96 Paris-89 Paris-90 ParisMashup8(louvre)Paris-82Paris-110 Paris-109ParisMashup7(Louvre)We walked at a clipping pace throughout quite a bit of the Louvre.  It was a long morning and afternoon.  I kept feeling panicked to see everything we could while there.  I had this need to lay my eyes on it all because it might be my only shot and it’s certainly my only life.  It sounds silly, but it’s a hard feeling to shake.  It’s all so marvelous and inspiring and I just didn’t want to take my being there for granted.  I kept trying to slow my roll and just enjoy what I was looking at.  It worked out pretty well in the end.  We saw all the major exhibits and didn’t leave feeling like we had to return.  The truth is, a lot of the smaller museums were just as good if not better.  Certainly less crowded and with equally incredible works.

One of our last days in Paris didn’t actually take place in Paris.  We jumped on an early morning train to Versailles with very low expectations and a readiness to bail if it seemed too touristy and lame.  Instead, I was provided with my favorite day of shooting photos that I have EVER had.  Paris-124 Paris-126As you can see, our arrival at the estate was cloaked with a thick and beautiful fog.  It added such a cool and otherworldly feeling to the property, which was the definition of otherworldly.  Paris-130 Paris-129 Paris-131Paris-127Paris-132 Shortly after our arrival, the fog began to lift and I was gifted with the most beautiful and soft overcast light.  It took away any garish quality the palace could have (and typically does have) and instead it gave it a romantic and mysterious quality.  It was so cool.  Paris-133 Paris-134 Paris-128 Paris-186Paris-138Paris-140Paris-136Paris-139 Paris-182Paris-146 Forget the “house”.  Just forget it.  It’s ostentatious, mindbogglingly huge and totally worth going inside to see, but…the real reason to visit Versailles is the grounds.

Be still my heart.

It was magic.

Paris-137Paris-143 Paris-160 Paris-158 ParisMashup14(versailles)Paris-163 ParisMashup15(versailles)Paris-164ParisMashup16(versailles)Paris-147Paris-145 Paris-150Paris-151 ParisMashup12(versailles)Paris-175 Paris-173 ParisMashup17(versailles)Paris-170 ParisMashup13(versailles)Paris-171Paris-172 They just went on, and on, and on.  I could have gone back ten times and not seen it all.  You are completely transported to a different world.  I couldn’t get enough.  We ended up roaming around like 5 year olds goofing off and taking photos.  Most of the tourists stayed inside the house so we felt totally alone while wandering the same paths as Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.  It was a photographers dream.  Shooting an engagement, family or wedding there would be absurd.   I can’t even tell you.  Paris-174 Paris-149ParisMashup18(versailles)Paris-178 Paris-177 Paris-180 Paris-181Paris-184 Paris-187Paris-179 Paris-183 Paris-189 Paris-188 Paris-190Paris-193 Paris-194 Paris-195 Paris-196We left Versailles feeling so refreshed and under the spell of France.  We had a day or two left that we spent being in love, shopping for Christmas gifts, and relaxing into the city.  Just in time to leave of course. : )

I said it at the beginning of my first post, but I’ll say it again…it still doesn’t feel real.

It’s tricky with places like Paris I think.  Maybe only Paris actually.  There is all this lore and mystique about it.  You hear about it your whole life, or thanks to my parents, I did.  Whenever anybody asks where you want to go before you die, typically Paris is at the top of the list.  It’s just one of those places.  It’s THE place for a lot of people.  So when you get there, it’s a jumble of expectations, movie scenes, dreams coming true, and pinch me moments.  It’s taken me a really long time to let it sink in and wrap my brain around.  But the truth is, Paris is pretty damn spellbinding.  It’s certainly not perfect, but It didn’t disappoint nor exceed my expectations.   My expectations weren’t even in the ballpark of what the experience was really like.  It was totally different than I could have imagined, and I’m so tearfully grateful to my husband for taking me.  It was pretty remarkable to spend a week living out a dream so big I never thought it would happen with my favorite person on earth.

The end.  : )


Paris couples/love shootParis couples/love shootParis couples/love shootParis couples/love shootParis couples/love shoot Paris couples/love shoot ali-jon-paris-037Paris couples/love shoot Several people have asked about these photos that were CLEARLY not taken by me.  Lend me your tired ears and I’ll explain.  Without going into too much detail, our wedding photographers didn’t show up at our wedding.  Thankfully, my baby cousin Nicholas was geared up and ready for his first wedding gig.  He did a great job being given about an hours notice, but I was pretty heartbroken about the whole situation.  That fact combined with the other unfortunate truth that I am the photographer on these trips and therefore always behind the complicated camera.  Give it to Jon and bless him he tries, but I’m usually a blurry mess.

I just wanted some beautiful photos of us.  Both of us together.  That’s all.

So I hired Rhianne Jones, we met her bright and early on a freezing morning, and I got my one souvenir from the trip.  I’d say it was worth it.  Paris couples/love shoot Paris couples/love shootThey have already proven to be such a beautiful keepsake and I am so thankful that Jon understood my desire to have them taken and was a total non-complaining trooper.

I will treasure them.

If you haven’t had enough yet, I’ve thrown up (interesting choice of words) the rest of our iPhone photos if you’re interested.  Thank you so much for recapping this trip with me.  It’s been really fun and I hope you enjoyed my reminiscing.  : )  Thanks as usual for reading!!
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I found it!  I found the exquisite cheese!!!IMG_5154 Sadly, the only photo I have of our Minneapolis savior, Preston.IMG_5153 IMG_5151 Jon’s favorite souvenir from the trip, his favorite wine of all time.IMG_5150 IMG_5160 IMG_5144 IMG_5143 IMG_5141 IMG_5146 IMG_5149 IMG_5148 IMG_5194 IMG_5185 No wonder Marie Antoinette had a bee in her bonnet, sleeping in this anxiety room.IMG_5186 IMG_5204IMG_5138 IMG_5175IMG_5226 I did forget to say how bomb dot com it was to be in Paris with all the Christmas decorations.IMG_5218 IMG_5067 IMG_5213IMG_5214 IMG_5220 Paris version of a shopping mall.  We’re doing it wrong.  IMG_5222No filter, no nothing.  This place was insane.IMG_5243 We watched the Eiffel Tower come to life with sparkles three different nights and it was teary eyed and goosebumpy ever single time.

Go go go go go go go to Paris.

Go.  IMG_5263