Paris: Portraits

One of my favorite quotes is from Francis Bacon. Truthfully, I really fell in love with it after learning that photographer Dorothea Lange took it up as her credo:

“The contemplation on things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitute or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.”

There’s something invigorating to me about capturing people when they least expect it or when they aren’t paying attention. Is it an invasion of privacy? Eh, maybe. But in today’s Instagram-perfected world, I like photographing people when they aren’t posing, putting on the version of themselves that they want the world to see. I’d much rather remember (and see) people for who they are.

Here are some portraits from Paris (Note: Sam took the pictures of me ❤ )

Paris - pompidou artworkParis - pompidou centre overlook

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Photos from Paris: Food

The food. Oh, the food. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of my most distinct memories of Paris were focused on food:

Slathering fresh butter on warm, perfectly crusted bread in an ex-pat bar while the red wine buzz came in strong.

The thick smell of fresh pig fat bubbling over in boiling water to make ramen broth.

Creative and artful delicacies, subtly sweetened, beckoning on every corner—and hardly ever resisting the temptation.

Sharing a cappuccino with Sam at the Musée d’Orsay’s Café Campana, a fluttering rush of joy in my chest from seeing him for the first time in over a week.

Culinary masterpieces artfully arranged in display cases, impossibly bizarre and enticing.

Scarfing a defyingly tasty vegan burger in the spring sunshine en route to the Centre Pompidou.

Cradling a warm, chocolately crepe in my hands after a night boat tour on the Seine, huddled together against the cold with my DePaul classmates on our last evening together.

Unassuming street markets filled with raw meats, aged cheeses, piles of spices, and fresh vegetables, the air buzzing with the soft, romantic loll of French.

Suffice to say, these photos don’t need explanation: they speak for themselves.

DSC_0315Paris - angelina dessert at louvreParis - oranges at the market

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Photos from Paris: An Introduction; Places

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over six months (!!) since I went to Paris. The trip was a study abroad opportunity through my graduate school program. Together with 20 DePaul grad and undergrad students, I visited five different companies and learned about luxury marketing at the heart of this lavish city. After my week of studying abroad, Sam flew over to Paris and we spent another four or five days together.

Not gonna lie, folks: Paris wasn’t perfect. Sam and I were in a tough spot in our marriage. We tried hard to be normal while on this trip and, in the process, realized how drastically wrong everything felt between us. This trip was the peak of a volatile time in our relationship that lasted for months.

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Grand Teton National Park: Half-Day at Taggart and Bradley Lakes

Maybe it’s because I grew up near freshwater lakes, or maybe it’s because I don’t have great personal hygiene or something, but I didn’t shower after jumping in Jackson Lake.

I felt rejuvenated, refreshed, and wholly cleansed after the tough hike through Death Canyon and chilly glacier-water swim. I drove the hour south back to Jackson so Sam could enjoy the mountainscape for once. We blasted Local Natives and I let the air whipping in through the windows dry my hair. My mind and heart wandered to a peaceful, calming place.

Reality sunk in as we pulled into Jackson around dinner time. With the total solar eclipse less than 40 hours away, there was a noticeable uptick in traffic around the park. When we finally made it back to our hotel, we set off to buy a few more groceries to get us through the next couple days.

We weren’t sure what food supplies would look like as we headed west, into rural Idaho, for the eclipse. Surely there were hundreds—if not thousands—more people occupying this part of the country than normal. Would we even be able to find food at grocery stores or would they be bare?

We cooked up some quick tacos in the hotel room. (Since we don’t own a microwave, it always feels like a weird 1950s luxury when we get to use one.) After dinner, we tried to stay awake long enough to plan our next day.

There were two plans we considered for our last day in this region and we hadn’t made up our minds. Here were the options:

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Grand Teton National Park: Death Canyon Steals Our Hearts

Not gonna lie: I felt like a pansy for sleeping in a hotel after abandoning our campsite. I felt weak, I felt soft, I felt very un-wildernessy. I couldn’t face one of my biggest fears which made me feel like I wouldn’t experience this magnificent place in a natural way.

But honestly? All those feelings dissipated the morning after I woke up in that hotel in Jackson.

I felt like an entirely new person. I popped out of bed at the sound of the 6 a.m. alarm, packed up all our food for the day, and corralled a still-pretty-sleepy husband out the door—all in 45 minutes. We had a sunrise to catch!

Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 6Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 3Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 2

Well, we mostly caught the sunrise. The sun was pretty high in the sky by the time we made it to Antelope Flats. The site was already crowded two dozen amateur and professional photographers. This historic Mormon community site is on the south side of the Grand Teton National Park, and the barns provide a quintessential sense of rustic living with the Teton range behind them. Photos of these barns show up all over the place if you Google Grand Teton. Even though it’s a little too “tacky postcard,” I’ll admit that it’s a pretty cool aspect of the park.

Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 5Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 4

Even so, the barns weren’t our main objective (shocking, actually, if you know me). Hiking was our primary goal and we wanted to get on the trail. Since we skipped the main Moose Junction visitor’s center the first two days in the park, we stopped in and asked about trail conditions for Paintbrush Canyon and Death Canyon: both recommended by Ryan, our Teton-insider friend.

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Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Grand Teton National Park- Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of our westward road trip!

Adrenaline kept me upright for the first few hours the morning after listening to the bear (or whatever it was) battering away at a fellow camper’s food locker. I’ll still never know if it actually was a grizzly bear, but I couldn’t help but think about Paul’s warning that they had a grizzly that visited the campground.

As we inhaled our half-cooked hash browns and overcooked scrambled eggs at breakfast—they were warm and the air was a brisk 35 or 40 degrees—-we pondered our plan for the day. It was only a matter of time before my high-strung bear anxiety dissipated and I entered extreme sleep deprivation auto-pilot. If there’s one thing that I need, for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me, it’s at least six hours of sleep every night. I would be operating far under threshold today, and we were expecting a grueling day of hiking, exploring, and further altitude adjustment.

The thought lingering in the back of my mind was that I would need to do it all over again for at least two more nights. We were debating staying at our campsite two more nights for the eclipse, making it a total of 5 nights in Grand Teton instead of our planned three nights. There was a solid chance this could shape up to be one of the most miserable trips of my life if I had to stick out five nights sleeping in a tent with a grizzly visiting the campsite every night.

Grand Teton - Hiking to Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake

We packed up and headed towards the park. Our plan was to hike String Lake around to Jenny Lake and up towards Cascade Canyon. When we parked the car, applied our sunscreen, loaded our packs with food and water bottles, and were just about to hit the trail at 8:45 am, we noticed a vital element missing. The bear spray. Sam remembered seeing it in the tent since we kept it there last night as a precaution, and it must’ve still been there. After the events last night and all the warnings we’d heard, there was no way we were hiking without a can of bear spray.

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Maui: The South Rim Road to Hana and Pīpīwai Trail at Haleakalā National Park

SOUTH ROAD TO HANA

After taking in the view and monarch tree at Sun Yat-Sen Park, Sam and I continued our drive along the Pilani Highway towards Hana. The seascapes were immaculate as we ascended the south rim of Maui. We were one of the few cars driving the highway (and the only car going east, towards Hana, instead of away from Hana), but there were plenty of horses walking alongside the road. We let the ocean breeze blow through the windows as we tried taking in the scope of this place. This isolation and tropical paradise felt like a dream.

Driving the South Rim of the Road to Hana

We started coming back down from the rolling foothills of the volcano, easing closer to the shoreline. There was a scenic overlook on the edge of the road with an overlook, and we were shocked that no one else was stopped there. A fierce, gusting wind kept us back from the edge, reminding me that the spirit of this place is a living, powerful force still present today. I could have bathed in the colors of this scene for hours and never get sick of it.

Driving the South Rim Road to Hana - Ocean OverlookSouth Road to Hana - Ocean Overlook PanoramicSouth Road to Hana - Ocean Overlook View

We continued eastward. Our goal was to reach the Haleakalā National Park on the south shoreline. It would be the fifth National Park we’d visit in 2016, and we wanted to add it to our list. The Park occupies a massive 33,000 acres on Maui, stretching from the summit of the dormant volcano on the inner part of the island all the way to the south coast.

From our hotel in Kihei, the drive to Halaeakalā’s Visitor Center near Kaupo was estimated to take two hours. There was one rule that kept appearing over and over again as we researched the Road to Hana: make sure you’re off the route before the sun sets. We left Kihei shortly after noon and the sunset was scheduled for 6 pm. Based on the open road and expansive vistas we’d seen from higher up the mountain, we were confident we’d have an hour or two to explore the park once we arrived.

Little did we know what we were in for as we cruised along towards Kaupo.
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