Riley’s Lock

There are no shortage of things to do in the DC area, and they aren’t all museums and monuments! When the weather is nice, we try to get out and explore, taking our dog with us as often as possible. Back in February, on an unseasonably warm day, we headed up to Maryland to check out Riley’s Lock. Riley’s Lock is located in Seneca Creek State Park and is part of the C&O Canal.  In this area, there are lots of parks along the canal, so plenty of great opportunities to get out and explore, walk, bike, or picnic.

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While we were walking, I was *super* excited when we stumbled across the remnants of the Seneca Stonecutting Mill. Abandoned building? Yes, please!

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On our way home from exploring, we made a quick stop at Glen Echo Park. It’s not a very hopping place in winter, but I’d love to go back now that summer is on the horizon and check out the carousel or some of the events they have going on.

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All in all, an excellent day of exploring places I had never checked out before. There is an advantage to being married to someone who grew up in this area and thinks of places to go that may never even cross my mind. I’m looking forward to our next adventure!

Oak Hill Cemetery

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I am weird in that I *love* cemeteries. I love exploring them and have ever since I was a little kid. I think my parents were quite concerned that anytime we drove anywhere, I asked to A) drive past the prison in our town and B) go look around cemeteries. (So far I have seemed to avoid the serial killer career these interests might seem to imply.)

So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that, for my birthday this year, my husband took me first to explore Oak Hill Cemetery, followed by dinner at my favorite tapas restaurant. Headstones and sangria? Win.

We didn’t have as much time to explore Oak Hill as it deserves, so I will certainly be making an expedition back, but here is what I captured for now.

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Fall 2016: A Summary

Yep. Totally slacking. My last post here was 9 months ago.
Oops.

I, for one, am glad 2016 is winding down. I can’t say I haven’t been doing any photography, but for most of the last 9 months, the thought of getting out and doing it has been, frankly, exhausting. Even just working on fun stuff for myself. 2016 was not a terribly easy year for me.

This was a year where I could feel the almost constant nagging of depression and anxiety. I’ve long struggled with those things, but sometimes it’s just a more frustrating fight than others. I hate it because it affects what I want to do, my relationships, everything. Then in August I cleverly managed to break my foot (hint: be careful stepping off curbs…no…really…they can just jump out from under you at any moment).  As soon as my foot was back to normal(ish), I was so eager to get back to normal I promptly messed up my shoulder at the gym and am still dealing with the consequences of that. So, needless to say, I am planning on 2017 being a better, less injury-prone year.

I wasn’t a total loss on photography, though. I did manage to get out and explore a bit, just in my own neighborhood. Fall is my favorite season, and when I do convince myself to get out and play, I am always rewarded by how much better I feel when I am done. So here’s some of my “just for me” work – I hope you enjoy!

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Travel: Grand Canyon and My Own Las Vegas Wedding

I’ve been a slacker on this one, but figured it might be time to get around to blogging some of my 2015 travels, to include my biggest adventure – heading off to Las Vegas for a week for good food and drinks, a Grand Canyon side trip, and…getting married!! My now-husband, Jared, and I decided that we were really excited to get married, but didn’t want to have a big bells-and-whistles wedding – it just wasn’t the best fit for us. So we called up our two best couple friends – Jen and Matthew and Chris and Annie – and said “so…if we were to get married in Vegas, would you come?” And that’s how we ended up in Vegas with some of our best friends, getting hitched! So I wanted to share some photos from Las Vegas, our day trip to the Grand Canyon, and a few of our wedding pics – I shot the details myself, and then the photographer from our resort shot the ceremony and posed shots after. I hope you enjoy this quick peek at our special day and great vacation!

If you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon, GO. I planned this excursion (we used Pink Jeep Tours) as one of those “we’re this close, we should go” sort of things…and I didn’t regret a minute of it. It is a breathtaking spot and there is no photograph that can really convey the breathlessness of it. Just go.
On the drive back, we stopped at the Hoover Dam briefly. We didn’t do the tour, but it was still impressive to see from the outside and hear some of the history.

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This was Jared’s first time in Vegas, so of course we had to wander and enjoy the strip at night. We hit up Lago at the Bellagio for dinner and the watched the fountains outside after.

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The day before the wedding, Jen and Annie and I hit up the Grand Spa and then had a delightful lunch at Paris overlooking the Bellagio and its fountains. As a side note, the guys went to Hooters for wings and played KISS mini golf because, yes, apparently that’s a thing.  That night, we all met up and went for delicious tapas at Julian Serrano. We also spent some time drinking at the The Chandelier, because who wouldn’t want cocktails inside of a massive sparkly chandelier? vegas7vegas6Vegas-34logo

Vegas gets an average of 4″ a rain a year, and I felt like it all came down during the week we were in town! Luckily it didn’t affect our plans too much – and we were rewarded with a rainbow as we looked out our hotel window on our wedding day!

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My favorite saying after the ceremony was “if you’re not poolside an hour after you’re wedding, you’re doing it wrong”. Aside from getting married, perhaps the best decision we made the whole trip was renting a pool cabana to hang out in the rest of the day. Our own private space with food, drinks, and the opportunity to float on the lazy river. Can’t beat it! We had just enough time after the pool closed to grab quick naps, then clean up and head to dinner at Voodoo Steakhouse and catch the Penn and Teller show, where Jen, Matthew, and Jared all ended up getting on stage!

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Overall, this was an amazing trip. I always say every couple should walk away from their wedding feeling like it was exactly what they had hoped for, and we definitely felt that way with our Vegas getaway!

 

Wedding Day Info:

Accommodations and Ceremony Location: MGM Grand

Bridal Gown: Rene Ruiz @ Nieman Marcus

Bridal Shoes:  Christian Louboutin

Groom’s Suit: no idea, but his only instructions were to wear a suit that didn’t start with “bathing” or “birthday” so….

Ceremony & Wedding Portrait Photography: Cashman Photo

Wedding bands (including bride’s custom engagement ring and bands): Jared

Bridal Jewelry and Bridesmaid Gifts: Konplott

Cupcakes and mini-cakes: Corner Cakes, MGM Grand

 

 

 

 

A Travel Story: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

As you can tell, 2013 has already been full of adventures for me. New Orleans last month and I just returned this weekend from a week-long yoga retreat in Nicaragua. It was an amazing experience! It was wonderful to be in nature and away from it all, enjoying morning and evening meditation and yoga classes as well as relaxing on the beach, drinking smoothies, and exploring what a beautiful country Nicaragua is. I also have to give a lot of kudos to Yogaville for organizing this wonderful trip, and express gratitude to all the people who shared the week with me. I never knew it was possible to connect with such a diverse group of people so strongly in such a short time!

We flew into the capital of Nicaragua, Managua, and then took a 2.5 hour ride to San Juan Del Sur on the Pacific coast. At the top of a very steep hill, we discovered our resort, Buena Vista Surf Club, located just above Playa Maderas, one of the top surfing beaches in the country. We had run of the resort for the week, and the owners, Marc and Marielle, and their staff (Ashley, Jose, Alex, and Jet) were beyond amazing. They were helpful and cooked the most delicious vegetarian breakfasts and dinners your can imagine. They were cheerful and blended right in with our group, even joining us for some of our yoga classes. The resort is an eco-resort designed by Marc and Marielle to blend seamlessly in with nature. They have treehouse-type bungalows for guests, as well as a beach house slightly down the hill (where I stayed with three other ladies). The first night there, I watched the sunset from the balcony of our beach house and then enjoyed a deep relaxation class before dinner. It gets very dark very quickly there, so by the time we opened our eyes at the end of our relaxation session, we were gazing up at glittering stars – what a start to the trip!

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The main house where we ate our meals and had our yoga classes

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The view from the deck – we spent our yoga sessions gazing out over the trees at the oceanIMG_4897_2 IMG_4895_2 IMG_4893_2 IMG_4828_2

Looking into the living room our our beach house, which I shared with three other women as well as an assortment of spiders and a few very chatty geckos

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The balcony of the beach houseIMG_4831_2

A sailboat out at sunset

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Our second day there, I spent time reading and relaxing, as well as exploring the beach, drinking the first of many fruit smoothies (big fan of the pineapple-banana combination), and eating guacamole and veggie tacos at the shacks on the beach. We also spent beach time during the week boogie-boarding (many thanks to my new friend Padma for helping me learn to do this by just handing me the board and giving me a shove, literally and figuratively, and to Swamiji for showing so much joy and excitement in this activity), enjoying deep discussions in the sunshine, and making friends with the stingrays (no one stepped on any, but goodness, it is startling when they just start swimming over your feet and legs!)

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Aside from the stingrays that liked to boogie-board, there were plenty of other interesting creatures and beautiful flowers. Lots of really lovely birds flying about, dolphins frolicking in the water, geckos, creepy bugs hanging out by on the doors of the beach house, scorpions (note: if getting stung by a scorpion is on your bucket list, I highly recommend against it – I got a nasty sting our last night there that we’re 95% sure was from a scorpion, and it hurt like hell), and MONKEYS. How much fun is it to wake up to the noise of howler monkeys? (OK, only sort of fun, at 4 AM, it’s really a bit more annoying. The monkeys also thought we were incredibly interesting – they would often come and hang out around the deck during our yoga classes (probably laughing at us).

IMG_4885_2 IMG_4886_2 IMG_4888_2 IMG_4868_2 IMG_4968_2 IMG_4961_2 IMG_4967_2 IMG_4869_2 IMG_4871_2We didn’t just hang around the resort and do yoga – we also did some exploring of Nicaragua. One day, I went on a catamaran sailing trip, courtesy of Nica Surf and Sail. Zack, Byron, and Geraldo were really knowledgeable and friendly and we had a great trip. We did some sailing, then dropped anchor in a quiet cove called Playa Blanca, where we got to swim and walk on the beach, and also have homemade guacamole and salsa on the boat. We sailed back to San Juan Del Sur just in time to still see the sunset from the boat.

I also have to add that one of the most amusing things about the sailing trip was getting there – we had to take a taxi from the resort to the pier in town. Imagine a taxi – now erase that image and imagine a beat up old pick-up truck, with room for 4 passengers…a 6 people needing to get into town. Well, Nicaraguans are prepared for that – the bed of the pick-up taxi is outfitted with boards along the sides to make benches. So…along with another person from our group, Rene, and Dunia, the woman down the road from the resort who gives awesome massages, I rode into town in the bed of a pick-up. While a bit dusty, the breeze was surprisingly refreshing, and it is at least a good story to tell!

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I admit it, I broke the “no alcohol” rule while out sailing – the Jimmy Buffett part of my soul just didn’t think it was acceptable to be on a boat without a Mai Tai, and I had to try the Nicaraguan rumIMG_4910_2 IMG_4916_2

The statue in the distance is a giant Jesus statue. Who knew, Ohio’s Touchdown Jesus has a Central American cousin? ;)

IMG_4922_2 IMG_4920_2The day after sailing, we went on another adventure, to the Masaya Volcano and then into Granada for lunch and some sightseeing and shopping. Masaya is an active volcano, and it was pretty impressive to see the smoke pouring out (and to smell the sulfur – whew!). We didn’t have much time in Granada, but it seemed to be a quaint city with a lovely center square (lots of vendors!) and good spots to eat (we enjoyed lunch at the Garden Cafe). During our drive, we also made a quick stop at Lake Nicaragua, which was beautiful.

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The garden courtyard at the Garden Cafe – great smoothies and brownies!

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From the edge of the Masaya Volcano

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An amazing example of the resilience of nature – even if the lava fields around the volcano, flowers are still growing

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Masaya from a look-out point above

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Lake Nicaragua

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After those two adventures, I spent the last few days of the trip just relaxing and visiting with the others on the retreat. I feel like the photographs don’t even really do this place justice. I had never given Nicaragua a thought as a vacation destination, but I am so glad I went, and I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity!

A Travel Story: New Orleans

New Orleans has been on my bucket list for a long time. I’ve always heard such great things about this city and I always wanted to check it out – and now I can say that I have! I headed down with two of my friends, Kim and Susan (who you’ve seen featured in other blog posts!), over a long weekend and we tried to cram as much into the weekend as we possibly could.

We stayed at the Royal Saint Charles, which is just a few blocks outside of the French Quarter. Nice hotel, but if you book online I STRONGLY recommend calling to ensure the hotel has your specifications as far as the correct room needed.

IMG_4478_2After we got settled into our room at the hotel, we wandered down the street and met one of Kim’s friends at the Davenport Lounge at the Ritz Carlton for some cocktails and to listen to Jeremy Davenport play some jazz.

IMG_4474_2 IMG_4477_2We were tired from all our traveling, so we didn’t stay out too late, but were up bright and early the next day for beignets from Cafe Du Monde. We got our powdered sugar bites of heaven to go and ate by the river.

IMG_4479_2 IMG_4481_2 IMG_4482_2After breakfast, we just explored the city. We wandered through Jackson Square and checked out the St Louis Cathedral….

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…admired all the beautiful architecture in the French Quarter, including the houses decked out for Mardi Gras….

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…..lots of buildings still had gas lamps outside…..

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…..The Cornstalk Fence hotel…just loved the fence, easy to tell where it gets its name! IMG_4618_2

We also went to the Historic New Orleans Collection and did a tour of the Williams Residence, which was neat to see, especially all the gorgeous courtyards, and then we followed it up with a mimosa brunch at the Court of Two Sisters.

IMG_4498_2 IMG_4499_2After brunch, we stopped in at the Mask Gallery to marvel over the beautiful masks they have. Amazing works of art! I couldn’t make up my mind, so I got a traditional Venetian mask and a mask by Judith Rauchfuss, who makes the masks for Cirque du Soleil.

IMG_4494_2 IMG_4632_2That evening, we stopped at Carousel Bar and Lounge for a drink (I recommend the French 007) before heading out on our ghost tour. We had a two hour walking tour full of ghosts and New Orleans history, with a break at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop for a to-go hurricane.

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The next morning, we decided to continue on the ghost theme, so we wandered up to St Louis Cemetery #1. Marie Laveau is reported to be buried in St Louis #1 and many people leave tokens and mark (illegal!) on the crypt in which she is rumored to be interred.

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IMG_4563_2 IMG_4571_2 IMG_4566_2 IMG_4568_2 IMG_4622_2 IMG_4628_2After our shopping adventure, we took a nap and then headed out again. My fabulous friends took me to Muriel’s for a wonderful belated birthday dinner and afterwards we enjoyed a night out on the town.

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I was beat when I got back to town, but it was worth it to be non-stop for the weekend, and I can’t wait to go back to NOLA again!

Christmas in DC

As I’m in Ohio preparing for the Christmas holiday with my family, I just wanted to take a minute to share some photos of Christmas in DC. I’m fortunate enough that one evening, after happy hour at Union Market, my friends were willing to walk around downtown with me to take photos of the Capitol Christmas Tree and the National Christmas Tree. I love the holidays in DC :) Hope you enjoy, and hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

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