A Day in Vermont

There was no real plan. In fact, going to Vermont for the day was the extent of the plan. The rest just fell into place.

The MonumentIt was a beautiful day – one of those days that’s in-between summer and fall – and the first stop was The Bennington Battle Monument. It doesn’t look like much at first, just a tall square structure built out of stone, but I love all that history stuff so I thought I’d check it out. It’s not until you go inside that you realize there’s more too it. On the ground floor they have a brief history, which is interesting to read. For a small fee (which I never mind paying since it all goes toward the upkeep) you can buy a ticket and go to the top (well as high as they’ll let you go, which is pretty high). The only way to get there is by elevator. When the doors opened, I was met by a set of windows. The setup allowed visitors to walk around and look out in each direction. A photo/map on the opposite wall pointed out different landmarks which could be seen from each window. The view was pretty breathtaking too.

The next stop was The Old First Congregational Church, which I passed on the way to the monument. Next to the church is a cemetery. That’s where I went first (despite my dislike of them). I heard that Robert Frost was buried there and wanted to find his gravestone. (I love Robert Frost’s work so this was kinda big for me.) He’s buried pretty far back. It felt like I kept walking deeper and deeper into the cemetery, which didn’t really sit week with me. Eventually I found his gravestone. He’s burred with his wife and their children. Under his name is engraved, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” That’s brilliant and beautiful at the same time.

After I made my way back through the cemetery I went into the church. When I stepped Old First Congregational Churchinside I could feel it’s history. It’s an old church with aisles of square seats with little doors. (Since there was no heat in the church people would bring little hot boxes with hot stones in them for warmth.) Standing in the middle of the church, looking up, there’s a chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a balcony that curves around on each side. I walked up to the balcony and looked down. It was amazing and felt special being in a place with so much history.

When I finished exploring the church, it was off to The Apply Barn. Keeping with the spirit of fall, it was time for cider, apples and, my personal favorite, apple cider doughnuts. (I figured the sugar of the doughnuts would match well with the sugar of the maple cookies I had bought earlier.)

It might not sound like a lot, but I wanted to see a covered bridge too. I’ve seen pictures of them, but never saw one for myself. So the next step in the Vermont adventure was to find a covered bridge. And I did. I have to say, it was pretty cool.

The Stone HouseThe last stop of the day was Robert Frost’s house – The Stone House. It dawned on me earlier in the day that it was in Vermont, I just didn’t know where or how far. Turns out it wasn’t that far and worth the trip. The grounds could be walked on and the first floor of the house was open to visitors. For a small fee (which again I didn’t mind paying) you could gain entry to the museum. It was a self-guided tour with plenty of information and photographs. The thought of standing in the same room where Robert Frost once stood and wrote or imagined a poem alone was worth it. The inside of the house, from what I could see, was nice and the outside was quaint with beautiful surroundings.

There was no plan to this day. There was no real destination. This day in Vermont was a spontaneous adventure.

To see more pictures please visit my photo site.

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2015 in Review

This pass year was very, very good to me. Of course there were highs and lows, but life has both and the lows make us stronger. The year of 2015 provided me with many great opportunities as well as led me down paths that I never though existed. It’s said that when one door closes, another one opens. Well, sometimes, if you don’t see any doors you have to climb through a window. And I couldn’t be happier that I took chances and left my comfort zone this pass year.

During the spring and summer I did some traveling. There are so many places to go and so many things to see. I went to Vermont, California,Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-Am Maine and Massachusetts. In many of these places I photographed concerts – including the Switchfoot Bro-Am in California. I spent a number of days at the beach, listening to the ocean. No matter what beach I’m standing on, the ocean is always welcoming. In previous posts I’ve written about my connection and love for the ocean and, if possible, our bond became even greater this pass summer.

While in California I went surfing. Talk about leaving my comfort zone. Even though I almost broke my leg, blew out my knee and cut myself pretty bad (I have the blackish, blueish, purple scar to prove it), I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. There are few feelings that compare to being wrapped up in the salty arms of the ocean.

Kids at SunsetWhen I was visiting Maine, a place I’ve been a few times before, I realized how I’m never letdown by it’s beauty. It’s not only during the day that the ocean here shines, but at night too. The sunsets are breathtaking. On this particular trip the sky burst into flames until the cool hues of night came to slowly put it out. In the early mornings I had the entire beach to myself. I walked along the shoreline in my bare feet, feeling the cool water racing up to touch them. Most mornings I slowly made my way to the jetty, walked out on it and simply sat there, looking out at the ocean and listening to it breath.

The summer gave me a lot of life changing experiences and I’m thankful for every moment, but it was what the fall offered me that was the most unexpected and wonderful of all.

As summer faded to fall, I found a job that was never even on my radar until a friend brought it to my attention. (I’ll have to thank her one day…for more then one reason.) I wasn’t even working there for two weeks when I saw him – a handsome man with gorgeous eyes and a lovely smile, but there’s so much more to him. And now he’s my special someone. He’s that special guy in my life and I’m thankful for each moment we get to spend together, never taking any of it for granted.

As if this wasn’t enough the fall finally handed me one more big thing, Matt & Kimsomething I’ve been working toward for years. I can officially say that I’m a music photographer. I photograph at least two shows every month for a concert venue in my town. In the future, I hope to expand my reach and photograph for more venues and even, with a little more hard word, bands themselves.

I’ve heard it said that everyday is an adventure. And I’ve come to believe that it’s true. We never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. So, big or small, the adventure is out there. And 2015 has given me some pretty amazing ones. I’m not just talking about the adventures that traveling has provided me either. I’m talking about all the little moment in-between. And I’m thankful for every single one of them.

I hope all of you had a fantastic 2015!

If you would like to see more of my photos, feel free to check out my website.

Maine: Day 2 – A Photographic Exploration

Everyday can be a photographic adventure.

And everyday I’m away someplace is indeed just that – a day to explore. Even if I’ve been to a certain place before, I believe there are always new things to see or things I missed the first time around.

So after breakfast I grabbed my camera and went for a long walk.

The sidewalk from the hotel split two ways. One way went into town (only 1 mile from the hotel) while the other wrapped around the beach and led to the unknown. I decided to take the one that led along the water’s edge.

Along the way there were a couple of bluffs looking out at the ocean. For the most part they were cleared of vegetation. There was the occasional tree or clump of bushes and, of course, grass. From the top of the bluff I could look down at the steep drop and all the rocks or out at the water and marvel at how expansive it is. I’ve seen the ocean repeatedly over the course of my young life and it never ceases to amaze me.

The sidewalk curved around, hugging the shoreline, and eventually the sand Old Housedisappeared and was replaced by rocks and pebbles. Large rocks still jutting out from the cliffs and the further I walked the more they rose up from the water.

Before reaching more of the rocky shore, I came across an old house. Or church. It’s hard to say what it was, or is, but it was gorgeous – built of stone. It had a long, gravel driveway and sat facing the ocean. On one side was a little field and I thought how diverse the landscape was here. From the field it appeared to be a mysterious old building in the middle of nowhere. It had a certain vibe to it that I can’t quite place my finger on.

Across from the ocean sat a line of houses, or condos. Most of them had balconies onThe Secret Garden the second floor and I thought about how breathtaking the view must be from up there. (Not that it wasn’t from down here.) One of the houses had a garden with a old, rusting gate. There were vines of purple flowers weaving their way through the spaces between the bars. It reminded me of The Secret Garden, only I didn’t need a key to enter.

Back on the ocean side there was a set of stairs the led to the rocky shore. I took each step carefully and walked along the rocks. The smell of the ocean blew inland and, once again, I breathed it in, relishing the moment. Seaweed and algae and little barnacles grew on and clung to the rock. The water washed onto land in small, bubbly waves. Actually, they were more like little ripples that still had to grow into waves, but lapped at the shore all the same.

Kids at SunsetI photographed into the evening, going down to the beach at sunset. The waves crashed against the backdrop of a sky exploding in color. Children ran along the beach as they searched for shells, their parents trailing behind. Others walked out on the jetty, the sun sinking lower and lower in the sky as it gave away to the day’s last light.

If you would like to see more pictures from Maine you may do so by visiting my photo page.

California Adventure: Day 5 – It’s Not Goodbye Forever

It was my last day in California and to say I didn’t want to go home would be an understatement.

I was dead set against it.

But time goes on. So eventually the inevitable would happen – I would be on a plane the following morning heading east.

My only regret is that I spent most of my last day thinking, “I wish I didn’t have to go home tomorrow.” and “I wish I could stay.” instead of enjoying my rapidly decreasing time.

If I had to pick my favorite part of that day, I would say it was the evening. Things become quieter, more serene. Everything seems to slow down.

That evening I walked down to the beach one last time. I dug my feet into the cool sand while listening to the steady breathing of the ocean. The waves barreled toward the shore as the light from the setting sun appeared to make the surface glisten. And I thought, not for the first time, that I could very easily live here.

Sunset on Moonlight Beach III turned my attention to the sky. It was on fire. Brilliant colors of gold and orange stretched out over the ocean. It was different from an East Coast sunset where the sky turns to cooler hues of orange and red, but is also blue and pink and purple. Both are magnificent in their own way.

As the sun sank lower in the sky, the ocean called to me. I longed to touch it one last time. It was cooler then I thought it would be, but still not as cold as East Coast water, so I walked in up to my knees. The waves came toward me. They were just as big as they had been the last few days, but I didn’t give it a second thought. They broke against my body, splashing up and leaving their mark on my clothes. Once again, I thought, “I could easily live here.”

I’ve heard people say that they’ve left their heart in San Francisco, but I’m pretty sure I left mine in Encinitas. I’ve always loved the ocean, so it was no surprise that I spent most of my free time in the water, or standing on the edge where land meets sea. But what I didn’t expect was to fall in love with the city itself.

I didn’t expect to meet so many kind and amazing people, some of whom I now call friends.

I didn’t expect to step outside of my comfort zone on more then one occasion.

No. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it all – the people, the music, the town. San Diego is amazing. Encinitas is beautiful.

And I will be back.

It’s not goodbye forever.

California Adventure: Day 4 (Part 1) – The Switchfoot Bro-Am (Surfing)

The day started early. 5:30am. I’m not sure if it was my excitement and anticipation of the day ahead or if I was still on East Coast time. I guess the reason isn’t important. I was down on the beach and ready for a day of surfing and music by 9am. So all was well.

Live music wasn’t scheduled to start until noon, but there was plenty of surfing to entertain me until then. I made my way through the crowd that had already started to gather and down to where the surfing events were taking place. There were a few different contest scheduled throughout the day, including the Rob Machado Junior Surf Competition. These kids put me to shame. Of course they probably have been surfing since they could walk, but still…I was impressed.

SIt was a pretty cool concept – hanging out on the beach with a bunch of people while we all watched a sport we enjoyed – surfing.

There were tons of photographers and at least one or two news crews.

This is a big even. It’s a big deal. And it’s grown over the years, the knowledge of the event even reaching different countries.

For me, as a photographer (and lover of music, surfing and the ocean), it was an extremely big deal. I had dreamed about attending this event since the first year it was held – 10 years ago. And even though I wasn’t working the event, I was still “working” it with my trusted sidekick – my camera.

So we were all watching the surfing competitions. The waves and current still looked rough and after speaking to a couple of people who had been out there my thoughts were confirmed. I enjoyed watching every minute of it. I was mesmerized by these guys. I’m S7well aware they’ve been doing this for a while and put in a lot of practice, but they made it look so simple. It seemed to come to them as easy as breathing. Natural. I was busy studying their movements every time they readied to catch a wave. That’s part of how I learn, by watching others. And when I wasn’t watching the surfers, I was roaming around the beach taking pictures. I ended up with a lot of candid shots, but those are some of the pictures I like best. The candid. The in-the-moment. I love those shots. There’s something truly special about them.

S11Later on, in the early afternoon, there was the Surf Jousting Competition. This was something that I had been waiting to see. A handful of people grab boards and this thing that resembles and giant Q-tip before heading out into the ocean. It’s all about having fun, but the point is to knock the other surfers off their boards.

There are no surf leashes on these boards, so the waves would push them to the shore. Once, Chad, Switchfoot’s drummer, had to retrieve his board. It was stopped by these two young boys. The one stayed and handed him the stick that looked like a giant Q-tip as well as the surfboard. I’m not sure how the following events came about, S15but I’m glad I was there to see it. Next thing I know he’s holding the board with one hand and the boy’s arm with the other, helping him stand on the surfboard. They waited until a small wave was coming toward the shore and Chad helped the young boy ride his first wave.

His face lit up. And I could feel myself smiling too.

It was such a great and kind thing to do.

But that’s Chad.

And I think he made that boy’s day.

If you would like to see more photos from the Switchfoot Bro-Am surfing, you can do so by going here.

California Adventure: Day 3 – Exploring La Jolla

Even though I was having a wonderful time in Encinitas, I knew there were other places I wanted to check out.

Too many places.

I wanted to do and see almost everything. Simply impossible for a five day California venture. So I decided to ask some friends before I left the East Coast what one must see/do while out there. A majority said La Jolla. Both for the view and the shopping.

So I set aside one day for La Jolla.

And I’m so glad I did. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

I’ll be honest. The first thing to hit isn’t the beauty of the place, but the smell. It smells like fish, or something resembling it. It’s only the seals that enjoy sunning themselves on the rocks by the cove. You get used to it. Eventually. (And don’t let it deter you from visiting. It shouldn’t. I only thought it fair that I put out a warning).

Overlooking La JollaStanding in front of the ocean, looking out at the rolling waves and blue water is peaceful. Magical. And the rhythmic breathing of the sea adds to the whole experience. I think I could’ve stood there forever, or at least for a very long time.

There’s a path that stretches a good distance of the ocean. It’s above the water and rocks, which are heavily populated by seals. By taking a different path that led to the rocks, I was able to stand by the seals as they sunned themselves. They seem to be so desensitized to humans that they simply lay there. Sometimes their eyes were shut, but some were staring, looking with their big, brown eyes. They were adorable and I felt a sense of wonder that these creatures could be sharing the same rock with me. However, a word of caution. They will let you know if you’re to close by barking. This happened to a man and his wife who were down on the rocks with me. The seals may be desensitized, but they are still wild animals, so please respect there space.

Walking around on the rocks felt like being on a completely different world. I could see the ocean stretching for miles. Endless blue. The waves rolled in and exploded on the jagged rocks, tossing white sea foam into the air. It was beautiful.

Above the ocean, rocks and paths was the town. The streets were lined with restaurants and shops. I had to explore the stores and I ended up purchasing some pretty cool finds. As far as food goes, well, I had some of the best Tiramisu at this little restaurant. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the place. Sorry.

La Jolla ChurchAfter a little shopping and some lunch, I simply walked around. Sometimes that’s how little gems of places are found. Unexpectedly. And that’s how I came across a beautiful church and a one of a kind jewelry store.

My only regret on this trip was time. I wish I had more of it.

La Jolla is breath taking. If you’re ever in California and looking for something to do, I suggest a day in La Jolla. It has a little something for everyone, including children. I loved it and I hope you love it too. Also, if you have been there let me know what you thought of it. I’d be interested in hearing about your experience.

If you would like to see more photos from La Jolla you can view them here.

California Adventure: Day 2 – Surfing The Wide Open Ocean

It was humbling to be tossed around by the sea.

At a certain point it reminded me a lot about life. It reminded me that you can’t always fight against the current. Sometimes you have to work with it. And balance is key.

DSC00568So the ocean waves swallowed me a few times. They knocked me around and pushed me down, but I always stood back up. Even when they smashed me into the sand and my leg bent in a way it’s not meant to, I was still ready to run back out there and catch another wave. Although, I ended up with a slight limp because lets face it, your leg is only suppose to bend certain ways.

Oddly enough, this reminded me a bit about life too. Sometimes it tries to breaks you. It tests you, constantly, to see how strong you are and how you will handle certain situations.

Luckily I didn’t hear anything snap or pop. It wasn’t broken. I could tell right away it was a muscle strain or something muscle related, but I wasn’t worried. The guy I was with was a lot more worried about it then I was, especially once he saw I was bleeding. It was barely any blood. Really.

“Oh, you’re bleeding!” he said.

We were standing on the beach after my spill into the water to examine my knee. Apparently he was EMT certified and insisted that I come with him. I looked down and saw blood mixed with saltwater as it ran down my ankle. During my fall the surf leash had somehow slid down and cut me. And when I say “cut” I mean dug into my ankle.

“Huh, look at that,” I said.

“Do you want to clean it up?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, thinking the saltwater would clean it good enough. “A shark won’t come after me, will it?”

“No. You’d have to go way out there.”

What I said was meant to be a joke, something to lighten the mood, but I think he was being serious and his answer was a little unsettling.

In the end I let him clean it and put a bandage on. Although, the bandage came off with the force of the first wave.

Apparently there was a swell that came in during the week and was suppose to last all weekend. So we were venturing out into high waves and a strong current. The waves were also breaking close together. There was a lot of pull too. On minute you would be one place and the next you would be half way down the beach. (An exaggeration, I’m sure, but things were pretty rough out there).

Anyway, enough about my leg bending at strange angles and my nasty ankle gash (which if anyone is curious now has a nice looking scab on it and greatly itches). But would any other surfers out there like to share a story of any of their injuries? I’d be interesting in hearing. I always love a good story.

So, injuries aside, I went back out there and had a blast. Besides, it was just a little flesh wound and I wasn’t going to let it stop me.

I’ve always loved the ocean, but surfing took this deep affection to the next level. To me, surfing provides a connection to the ocean like no other. You have to work with the waves and the current. You have to be able to read the ocean in order to catch the good waves. You have to know how to read the ocean…period. You have to be willing to understand the unpredictability of the ocean and nature itself.

The feeling of catching a wave is almost indescribable. Being pushed by a force that is so much greater them me (and lets face it, could kill me) is actually wonderful. Riding those waves is freeing, in a way. It’s the feeling of being in the water, of the wind, the smell of and taste of saltwater.

And I loved every minute of it.

I simply love the ocean.