Palo Duro Canyon

Have you ever booked a vacation months in advance, and when the time finally comes it’s exactly what you need? That’s where Joseph and I were last week. We desperately needed a break from work. Things had been crazy for the both of us for a few weeks, but they were just starting to calm down enough that we didn’t feel guilty about taking a break. Lucky for us we had a wonderful trip to unwind and disconnect.

We spent two nights at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle. At 126 miles long, it’s the second-largest canyon in the U.S. (behind, of course, the Grand Canyon). And it’s beautiful.


Every sight was stunning. I knew it wasn’t going to translate well into photos, but ya know what? I took lots anyway. Just just gotta trust me that it’s 100x more beautiful in person.


We stayed in one of the “limited service” cabins in the park. Much of the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, including these adorable cabins.


The cabin was exactly what we wanted. It was secluded and it had A/C (essential during this time of the year in the Texas panhandle!)! We also had a mini-fridge and a microwave, both of which were really useful. We had to walk a bit to the bathroom, but we didn’t mind. Especially since the cabins were only $60/night.


Here’s my cute husband inside our cabin (isn’t it charming?), trying to put sunblock on himself. He got it all over his shirt.


It took us 6 hours to get to the canyon from Fort Wroth (with a break for lunch). But when we got to the canyon it was well worth it. We were tired, so we just hiked for a few miles the first day.


We were so excited to see the stars at night! Big and bright (clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas.
This is the best photo I could get without a tripod. In the bottom left corner you can see a bit of our cabin. We hadn’t seen the stars like this in several years.


I woke up early in the morning and looked out the cabin window to find wild turkeys!


Everything I read before and during the trip told me we needed to do the Lighthouse Trail, 3 miles each way. We got an early start (around 8am) to avoid crowds and heat. We only encountered a few people on our hike in, but on the way out we passed several crowds of hikers. I recommend starting as early as possible if you do this hike!


The terrain varies throughout, and each view is incredible.


Something about this view made Joseph and I both think of The Land Before Time.


I love this view of the canyon. It reminds me of a beautiful layered cake – lavendar, lemon, and then a coffee layer. Undecided what the bottom layer is. Maybe a red velvet that hasn’t be properly executed?


The famous Lighthouse formation! We didn’t realize to see this you have to do a pretty intense climb. Joseph made it about halfway up, and I continued without him (leaving my backpack behind – so this is a cell phone picture). It was a nice view, but you have to like scaling boulders to do it! I was exhausted.


Obviously only one of us liked the challenge… Not sure if you can tell, but at this point in the descent I had to shimmy down with my feet gripping the sides of the rock – the bottom was full of loose stones. This is not for the weak-ankled or those without proper hiking shoes.


A view on a different hike. Hard to believe this is just one park, right? Throughout the day we ended up hiking 3 different trails for a total of 13 miles. That’s a lot in Texas heat, especially for two people who are pretty out of shape ;)


Joseph is a weird photographer sometimes.


We were both excited to have a few days without TV, but all our outdoor excursions really exhausted us. We were too tired to play the games and read the books we brought. We ended up buying a deck of cards from the gift shop and spent a few hours playing gin rummy (while repeatedly checking the clock to see if it was yet an appropriate hour to go to sleep).


I borrowed a macro lens and spent a bit of time playing with it around our campsite.


I photographed plants, Joseph did an important camping activity. Roasted marshmallows for smores!


A shot to show you how beautiful and secluded the site was. Can you spot Joseph in the green shirt walking to our cabin?

Can’t wait to go back!

New York City Luxury

This January I got to take a weekend trip to New York City with a coworker and a friend. This was half-business, half-pleasure, although it actually was entirely pleasurable!

Because I wanted to pack light, I didn’t take a camera. I fit all my belongings for three nights in one tote bag, which I’m still pretty proud of! All photos below were taken with my iPhone. Technology has come a long way since I started this lil ole blog back in 2008, at which time I didn’t even own a cell phone.

We were very lucky to spend our nights in a beautiful home outside of the city, and I woke up every morning to a spectacular view of the Hudson River.

I’ve only been two NYC once before, on a long layover where we got out of the airport for a few hours to explore. We weren’t quite sure what our weekend was going to look like, so we didn’t make any plans and didn’t have any goals. We had a few things we needed to do and few people to visit, but we spent the rest of our days wandering around.

I normally plan all vacations to a tee, so this weekend was a good lesson in appreciating an actual relaxing vacation. No hurrying between museums and dinner reservations, no sore feet because I made the group walk miles further than they wanted, no nighttime nausea after going all out at every restaurant because I’d read too many reviews of good dishes…

An unexpected highlight of my weekend: Italian food! We have missed authentic Italian food so much here in Fort Worth. I try to replicate it myself (just this weekend I spend 4 hours making a lasagna – every piece from scratch), but it’s just not quite the same!

And French cafes on the Upper East Side. More food I’ve tried to replicate at home without total success (but not total failure, so that’s something right?)

I got to hang around some really beautiful places. The city is full of little gems!

Agenda-less with a central base in the Upper East Side, we walked into the Met our first afternoon… and subsequently returned every day. And we didn’t see nearly everything. What an incredible place!

Of course I was also like, “ohmygod this is where the Gossip Girls ate” when I saw the front steps. #millennial

This room reminded me of the tiny cathedral Joseph and I stumbled onto when hiking in Italy one day.

We’ve all got our things right? Byzantine art is one of mine. Don’t ask me the appeal. I really don’t know.

Lesson learned this trip: I really want to go back, and I especially really want to take Joseph with me! It’s weird traveling without your typical travel companion! We’ve been touristing together for over a decade now, and I want to force him to look at more Byzantine art with me.

Anniversary in Atlanta

Joseph and I took a weekend trip to Atlanta to celebrate our anniversary (7 years!), and we had such a good time! There is so much to do in Atlanta, and I’m dying to see the city during the warmer months, so I’m sure we’ll be making another trip some time.

First thing Saturday morning we went to the Atlanta History Center, which has a few pretty big exhibits, the Swan House, and the Tullie Smith Farm (sheep included!) on the grounds. A really nice place to spend a couple hours!

We took a tour of the Swan House, which was used as President Snow’s mansion in the Hunger Games films. We didn’t realize when we booked the tour that it was totally Hunger Games-focused. I like the Hunger Games, and it was really interesting, but my favorite part was looking at the preteen girls who were like so totally excited: “omg Jennifer Lawrence was here!!”

Inside the smith farmhouse. Joseph used to take a lot of photos of me where I look like a floating head, and we kind of make a joke out of it. This Extreme Floating Head picture is one of my favorite photos of me ever, haha.

That afternoon we went to the Museum of Modern Art and the High Museum, which were both wonderful! The High was HUGE and obscenely crowded, but we got to see the exhibitions I was really looking forward to.

Before the museums, we stopped for a bite to eat at Cafe Intermezzo, and I took a few photos with my cell phone. We ate seafood dip (which tasted a lot like the salmon cream cheese I eat by the bucketful in middle school), red velvet cake, and an apple crepe. And I had a blood and sand cocktail with Laphroaig 10 year (my favorite!!!). I almost exclusively drink scotch neat, but that cocktail was FANTASTIC.

That night we went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to see it all lit up! We saw just about everything before the rain started pouring.

Sunday we met up with two of my internet friends I first met on a forum 10 years ago! It was so good to see them, and we had a great breakfast at Sweet Melissa’s in Decatur.

Then Joseph and I headed to Six Flags over Georgia! It’s a great park, and we picked the perfect day to go–we didn’t have to wait in line at all. We rode everything twice in just a couple hours! We road Goliath three times because I loved it so much. It might be my favorite roller coaster I’ve ever ridden! It made you feel like you were flying (so did the Superman ride, but I didn’t find that one as exciting).

That night we went to the Shakespeare Tavern, where we got to eat, drink a quart of wine (lol), and watch Merry Wives of Windsor. It was great!

Sunday was our last day, so we filled it with the typical touristy things–Fox Theater, CNN, Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca-Cola. We flew out that night, and I went to work the next morning :(

Holding a torch from the 2012 London Olympics at World of Coca-Cola! This was a great tour, especially since I told our guide I’m an archivist and he totally catered the tour to me!

Los Angeles on Film

A couple weeks ago I went to Los Angeles to visit my wonderful friend Genevieve, who lives in Santa Monica (which is essentially paradise).

I love playing with the film camera my dad gave me a few years ago–the SLR he used for most of my childhood photos. I always want to take it with me when I travel, but carrying that camera plus my digital camera is just too much. This time I decided to leave my digital camera at home and take only film. Shooting film is fun, and I totally don’t mind that it’s a lot lighter than my digital camera!

Big “thank you”s go out to my dad (who happens to be my #1 blog reader) for trusting me with his old camera, Genevieve, who is a wonderful photographer I love handing my camera over to, and her husband Anders for hosting me!

First stop: Amoeba music! Joseph and I didn’t get to go to Amoeba in San Francisco early this year, so I’m really excited I go to go to the one in LA!

I accompanied Genevieve to a few of her photography sessions, including the early morning engagement portraits she blogged about here. After the couple left, we played around with my camera a bit.

Later that day we went to Santa Monica beach, and I got to see Genevieve and Anders on the rings!

My favorite part of my trip was going to Venice with Genevieve and the high school senior she was photographing. I had so much on this shoot, and the photos Genevieve took are GORGEOUS. Kate was a blast to hang out with for a few hours, and Venice is beautiful!

^ Seriously, look at these photos. Genevieve is amazing!

Land’s End and Muir Redwoods

Joseph and I took a trip to San Francisco this summer for my friend Genevieve’s wedding. As soon as I booked the plane tickets I made a strict itinerary that involved lots of hiking. But I made a mistake when booking our hotels and had to abandon most of the itinerary. Thankfully we were able to fit in a few of the outdoor activities I had been planning on, and as soon as our plane landed the first morning we made our way to Land’s End and then to the Muir Woods.

Land’s End is beyond beautiful. It was like something out of a dream! I almost wish we hadn’t gone there first because nothing lived up to those first few hours.

Next, we drove to Muir Woods. I didn’t even attempt to get any photos illustrating how tall the redwoods were–there’s no way I would have been successful in that, especially without a wide angle lens.

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