Nostalgia: My Alma Mater

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons, or the season of change I am going through personally. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking back on the people and places that have helped shape who I am. As for a lot of people, a big part of that for me was my college experience. I went to a very small liberal arts college in the hills of West Virginia called Bethany College.  Bethany was affiliated with the church denomination I grew up in, and when I took a trip to Bethany in middle school as part of a church history education trip, I decided that was where I was going to college. I toured only two other colleges (Miami of Ohio and the University of Cincinnati, in case anyone cares) and applied only to Bethany (which, in retrospect, is not really an approach I would endorse, because what if I hadn’t gotten in? But that’s what I did). And then I spent four wonderful years there.

Bethany is so beautiful, and it was about the perfect distance from home – close enough I could go home for a weekend if I wanted, but no so close my parents could just pop in unannounced. :) It was also not far from Pittsburgh, so if we wanted some city shopping, clubs, or food, we could be there in about an hour. And I’m not kidding when I say Bethany was *small* – my graduating class was around 200 people. Even “big” lecture classes were engaging, and for our  smaller seminars and classes, professors would even sometimes host us at their homes. There was one bar in town, Bubba’s, and who can go wrong with a bar called Bubba’s?

Because of its small size, you got to know your classmates really well. I’m fortunate that I’ve retained a lot of friendships from school, particularly from my sorority.  I went into college dead-set against against joining Greek life, but once I met the women from Kappa Delta there, I knew I had found a home away from home. We were, by and large, a band of misfits, but damn, did we have fun together, and loved each other as fiercely as sisters should.

I was up in WV a few years ago for a wedding (my Bethany freshman year roommate!) and had some free time, so drove up to the school to wander around a bit. And then I never did anything with the photos, until this weekend, when my nostalgia encouraged me to finally get around to them. So, without further ado, here is dear old Bethany.

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Abandoned in Virginia

Maybe I’m weird, but I love things that are falling down or apart. Not too long ago, I had the chance to explore an abandoned home in southern Virginia. I hope you find this house as interesting as I did!

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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: A Family New York City Adventure

I was lucky as a kid – we went on family vacation together every summer. But until this past Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t tell you the last time we’d all gone somewhere together – maybe sometime when I was in college…? After this past Labor Day weekend, I remembered why it had been so long….

Kidding!

My dad is a huge folk music fan. I grew up listening to my dad play guitar while we sung along to John Denver, Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Woody Guthrie, and Peter, Paul, and Mary (“Puff the Magic Dragon” was a favorite song of mine, even though I cried (yes, really) whenever Puff slunk into his cave, sure it meant he shuffled his way off the mortal coil). So when my dad heard about an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York that chronicled the blossoming of folk music in Greenwich Village in the 60s and 70s, it seemed a perfect reason to head to the city. My parents had never been to NYC and it had been almost 15 years since I had been there – why not go?

So we found an (overpriced) hotel a few blocks off Times Square and headed up for the long weekend. And we crammed a *lot* into those few days. And as much as I can joke about going on vacation with my parents now that we’re all adults, we really did have a pretty good time playing tourist in the city, and I figured I’d share a bit of our adventure with you. Hope you enjoy!

nyc4Times Square and Jared making friends with the T-Rex at the Times Square Toys R Us (which has since closed! So I’m glad we got to go there and poke around!)

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We drove up, but my parents’ flight was late getting in, so we headed over to Rockefeller Center for cocktails and people watching before stumbling across a delicious Cuban restaurant for dinner

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All ready to go on the top of the tour bus on the first day!

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At the museum. Someone was a little bit excited….

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The paper is the handwritten lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind”

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I spent a disturbing amount of time being fascinated by this light fixture and the spiral stairs in the museum. I want them both.

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Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall at night

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The *highlight* of the trip for my dad – open mic at The Bitter End! This venue, which opened in Greenwich Village in 1961, hosted a ton of folk music artists during the height of the folk music revival. It meant a lot to my dad to get to sing and play at the same place as so many people who have influenced him – and he did a great job! (I admit it…I teared up a bit…)

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The city from the top of the Empire State Building

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The city from Liberty Island

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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