Hawaii Sunsets

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“Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.”

-Kristen Butler

For those of you don’t know me well, I am forever that girl that gets excited when I see the sky light up with beautiful colors as the sun sets. The only sunsets I don’t like are the ones I miss. Sunsets are just as different as snowflakes or people, no two look exactly the same because no two are happening in the same moment or day. There’s just something about watching the sun bid adieu and seeing the way the sky changes and transforms that has also fascinated me and leaves me in awe every time, especially the colorful ones! I often would plan my hikes around when the sun would set so I could be at a specific spot in time. And on the trips to Hawaii that I’ve been lucky to have taken, I planned every day that I could around watching the sun set. I’m pretty sure on my last trip that I got to see the sun set every single day I was there! And of course I know I’m not alone in this love for the day’s end and the suns farewell, which is why I want to share some of my favorites that I’ve been able to both witness and catch on camera, starting with sunsets from my favorite place! And I think that especially in the challenging times that we are facing right now in this world and in the USA that we could also use a reminder of the beauty in the world that still surrounds us.

Next stop for beautiful sunsets will be in my old home state of Arizona!

Hawaii Adventures- Allerton Gardens, Kauai

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Reminiscing about an amazing vacation while hoping the day it’s safe to visit again comes sooner rather than later! Hawaii is a magical place, and the island of Kauai takes the cake in regards to the numerous amount of tropical plants and species. On one of our first days of an amazing trip in 2018, we did a guided tour of Allerton Garden in Kauai, one of several lush and tropical gardens on the Island. I chose this one because I had heard it was one of the most beautiful and had the Australian Fig Trees that were used in the filming of Jurassic Park! You truly have no idea how massive these are until you experience them in person. Those roots at the bottom are several feet high! Everyone took turns taking pictures standing inside of them which was fun, and it was just so cool to envision the movie being filmed within those same tree trunks!

During the 2 hour leisurely walking tour, we were introduced to several wonders of nature, most of which I do not recall the names, but it was fascinating, and of course I had a blast trying to capture the beauty of the gardens. We were lucky to have gone on what turned out to be the only sunny day during our visit on the Island. If you ever visit Kauai, I highly recommend this tour! It’s a little pricey, but was completely worth it! Some of my favorite plant photos I’ve taken to date were captured here and in fact, they hang on my walls at home and in my office. It was unfortunately that we visited during March which is the rainy season and happened to be one of the most rainy seasons ever that year! Definitely hoping to make it back there one day as it truly is one of the most beautiful places to visit, especially if you are wanting to capture some amazing photos!

Of course this is not the most ideal time to try to visit these gardens given our current situation with COVID-19, but when we are able to vacation to these amazing islands again, add this to your list! Click below for a link to the garden information:

May Flowers

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“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.”

Buddha

Take a moment to close your eyes and reflect. What words, images, or memories come to mind when you hear the world flower? The possibilities may be endless. Now, can you close your eyes again and imagine a world without flowers? A world without bright blossoms that paint a colorful canvas across an otherwise monotone field or desert? A world without the harmonious scents that spread into the air? A world without all of the foods that are produced through the miracle that is a flower?

Flowers have been around for over 100 million years and without them, it seems unlikely we would be here ourselves. Flowering plant species are vast and outnumber the other types of plants that exist on this earth (National Geographic, Michael Klesius). Flowers can bring a smile to most anyone’s face and have surround us for centuries in our celebrations of both life and death. We give flowers to bring comfort, encouragement and support. Flowers symbolize happiness and love. According to Edward Currin, “Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.”

Reflecting on the history of flowers, their vital function to life as we know it, and their beauty, it’s no wonder why myself and many others become enamored by them. Fascinated by their uniqueness, their fragility yet enormous strength to thrive and emerge from adversity. Captivated by their splendid colors that bring so much vibrance to the world.

So as I continue to explore the world through a lens, attempting to encapsulate these little miracles within a photograph has been a continued pleasure of mine. I find myself in awe time and time again as I stumble across them everywhere I go. Sure I have some favorites, but I really love them all!

And because April Showers Bring May Flowers, and May is a month of many celebrations for me and my family, it seemed like the perfect time to share some of my favorite flower moments with you!

Here are my top 10 flower moments that I’ve captured in the last few years. Feel free to leave a comment below- I’d love to hear which one is your favorite (or if you have a personal favorite flower moment you’d like to share)!

TEN

The beautiful Iris from Ann Morrison park taken May 2020 is like a beautiful dancer with its delicate, flowing petals. It’s vibrant purple is my favorite color and it reminds me of my recent explorations of beautiful Boise.

NINE

Tree blossoms at Veterans park in Chandler Arizona in 2018. I love the beautiful vibrance and contrast of the pink against a brilliant blue sky and these beauties remind me of the many walks I took here and many other parks in Arizona with my parents

EIGHT

Cactus flower on one of the many hikes I took in 2018-2019 season on South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona. I love the contrast of the harsh cacti needles that surround soft, fragile flowers that magically blossom and bring color and brightness to the desert each spring. These hikes were one of my favorite pastimes in my old home. Just me, my camera, my hiking partner Raven (dog), and the beautiful desert mountain landscape!

SEVEN

This image of poppies on South Mountain in Phoenix Arizona from a hike with my parents in 2018 is still one of my favorite flower photos because of the way the blooms look as it they are lit up inside from the sun. And it reminds me again of the beauty that comes in a desert in spring.

SIX

The name of this flower is unknown to me, but I refer to it as the flower in the tree. This was taken in 2018 in the Allerton Gardens in the tropical paradise that is the Island of Kauai. We were on a guided tour of this wonderland of plant life when I looked up and saw this beautiful flower sprouting atop a tree branch at least 15 feet in the air. Nature never ceases to amaze and this image is one that hangs on my wall as a reminder of one of the most unimaginably beautiful places on earth

FIVE

While not the most captivating photograph, this image is of the first flower to bloom at my new home in Boise, the beautiful tulip. I never realized how wide they can open and how glossy and shiny their petals can be. These blooms came just in time for Easter and added a spectacular splash of color to our backyard. This image reminds of both my new home and my childhood home of Ohio where we had tulips in our front yard.

FOUR

Lilies at the Chicago Botanical Gardens in 2018 during a trip to spend time with my in-laws. They took my to this amazing paradise of flowers, a photographer and nature lover’s heaven. I loved that these flowers grow sprout in the water and the contrast of bright purple and green delighted me!

THREE

Flowers on lava rock in the Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Volcano National Park is a place where you can really see how flowers come from adversity. One of the first things to sprout from the hardened lava are little pink flowers. This image reminds me of that mystical place where life emerges from death in such a breathtaking way.

TWO

The bleeding heart (Dicentra) plant is my favorite flower, tied with the Orchid (see below). It is such a unique flower and how can you now love a heart-shaped flower?? I have not had the opportunity to capture many of these beauties, but I recently planted one on my backyard so hoping there are some for me to capture soon! This one was from the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix, AZ that I explored with my mother a couple of years ago. There were just two struggling plants by the entrance but I still had to try to capture them. I’ve been obsessed with them since my childhood when we had one plant in our backyard. I found them on our honeymoon in Whistler, Canada and when I saw them growing here in Boise I was ecstatic!

ONE

Orchid Flower in at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii. This is one of my favorite flower photographs that I’ve taken of one my favorite flowers, in one of my favorite places. These flowers grow in beautiful tropical places and have been gifted to me many times. They come in so many unique sizes and shapes (there’s a whole garden of them on the Big Island of Hawaii just outside of the Volcano National Park!) but this classic pink beauty is one of the best.

Thank you for taking the time to relive these flower moments with me and to celebrate one of Earth’s greatest creations! If you’d like to see more flowers and plants that I’ve captured just click on the button below!

Kauai Photography Adventure

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Today I’m looking back to 2018, when I took an amazing trip to Kauai. Just as with every trip, I started an itinerary and began looking for the best ways to explore and discover this lush tropical island. I felt so lucky to have stumbled upon a blog on Pinterest that recommended something I never knew existed- a photography workshop! After doing a little research, it seemed like it would be a great experience. There were group workshops or you could create your own custom individual workshop. After contacting them, I decided it would be worth splurging for – a chance to work with professional photographers. Not only was it was chance to learn more about my camera and the several functions that were still somewhat mysterious to me, but I was able to meet and spend time with two amazing, passionate people and doing something we both love in one of the most beautiful places on Earth! Although the weather didn’t cooperate fully- there were no amazing sunrises or sunsets, I still got to stand atop a cliff overlooking the Waimea Canyon with the wonderful Mallory (a native Ohioan like me!) as the sun rose, and to capture the majestic waves as they repeatedly crashed against the cliffs of Poipu with the owner, Patrick Kelley. I learned how to capture long-exposure shots, and to utilize my camera more effectively in low light. They both offered unique perspectives into the world of photography and their passion and love for what they did shined through their words and actions. I’ve included their information in hope that I can share this information with others as I had found it through word of mouth online. And of course, my favorite captures from the day are below!

Unfortunately I just discovered that Kauai Adventure Photography Workshops ended at the beginning of this year after 7 amazing years. Patrick and Mallory both still continue to do amazing work which you should check out both can be followed on Instagram and Facebook. The workshop website offers recommendations for another workshop if you do travel to Kauai and want to have a similar opportunity (https://www.kauaiphotoworkshops.com/workshops ).

If there is any one thing you take away from this blog post other than the necessity to visit this beautiful island, it’s that taking an chance to do something that might seem a bit out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to grow your skills but also as a person. I know in my heart this is one of the most unforgettable experiences I have ever had and it inspires me to seek out more of these adventures and to continue to learn so that maybe one day I may be lucky enough to be the one of the other side that can offer such an experience to other newcomers like me. You only have one life to live so do not pass up opportunities like this if they come to you!

And my deepest thanks and appreciation to Patrick and Mallory! Mahalo!

Visit the websites of these two amazing photographers by clicking on the buttons below or view their latest Instagram posts:

UPCOMING: To see more about the amazing island of Kauai, including more photos and recommendations, make sure to follow me for an upcoming blog that continues the adventure of this magical island and the other islands of Hawaii!

It’s About the Journey – Idaho Highway 21

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As a new resident of Boise, Idaho, a high desert, I was excited to be venturing away from the low valley (beautiful, but much hotter, less seasonal) desert of Phoenix where I’d resided for 16 years to plant some new roots. Of course, we all know how life goes- two weeks after I moved and I started my new business, the world as we know it came to a frightening halt. And while this this seemed like VERY poor timing, I decided there must be a silver lining. What could I do while we have to be so socially distant? As my anxiety levels began to rise, I forced myself to slow down with the world and to find my inner peace and rediscover my other passions. In other words, for this brief period of time, I had this unexpected opportunity to grow in areas that I used to spend too little time. While yoga keeps me centered and stretched, photography has been the area that I’ve found myself eager to further develop my skills. And what better way to do that than to hike and explore this beautiful state in which I had just landed? A state that has more vast areas of wilderness and recreation areas and countless places to explore. Boise itself supposedly has at least one park within a square mile of every house in the city and I don’t doubt it! It’s also one of the most dog friendly places to live. There are more dogs per capita and more dog parks per capita than most cities in the USA. And I just happened to have two that love to explore with me. And where did we decide to reside? Right next to the Oregon Trail and State Highway 21 in Southeast Boise. Now that I’m here, I could not imagine a better place to be socially quarantined. And for those of you that are not nearby but may want to explore this area someday, I felt that part of my role as a photographer is to share the places of the world with you that I explore and hopefully inspire you to take that journey yourself. And if that experience is not in the cards you were dealt, then at least you can get a glimpse of these beautiful places through my lens. There’s not better way to turn this upside down world right side up than with getting out there (virtually or in real life) and exploring the great outdoors!

Idaho State Highway 21 is the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, a winding highway from Boise to Stanley. And it sure lives up to its name as a scenic highway. If you want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, this is a road worth taking, and I promise it’s way faster and less crowded than Maui’s famous Road to Hana! I was headed for a destination, a hike near Idaho city, but what I found along the was the truth behind the age-old saying that it’s about the journey, not the destination. Exploring and discovering new places like this also reminds me of the kind of life for which we should all strive. A life in which we enjoy the journey. Stop and take a breath. Stop and look around. Stop and soak in the beauty that surrounds us. The previous moments that we miss if we are in a race to get where we’re going. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of our daily lives. Being able to slow down during these hard times with which we are currently faced has allowed me, and hopefully many of you, to do some self-reflection, and to slow down and think about what life is really all about. So for me, this Highway is a great reminder of how breathtakingly beautiful the journey can be, if we only take time to become aware and be in the moment.

These photos were taken on the stretch of the highway between Southeast Boise and Idaho City, a curvy journey that takes you past the Lucky Peak State Park which includes many lake areas and beautiful hiking spots. The pullover areas so you can safely stop and snap a photo, or just soak in the gorgeous views. My favorite spot was just north of the lakes, where this little plateau sits proud almost like an island, spotted with houses that travel up into the foothills, perched on cliffs and mountainside along side the pine trees. I recently heard from someone who lives in this area and has the pleasure of taking route as her daily drive and she stated that its even more beautiful after a few more rains. I can barely imagine it being anymore vibrant and green, but as I am also lucky to live right next to this highway in Boise, it won’t be long until I journey here again in hopes that she is right!

And of course, while the journey was definitely the highlight of this day trip, the whole reason I ended up on this drive was to get to my destination, Charcoal Gulch, a hiking trail on the outskirts of Idaho City. This was one of the most peaceful hikes I’ve been on to date, and a nice change of scenery. Pine trees lofted overhead while spring flowers blossomed at my feet. Moss covered so many branches, adding another beautiful and fascinating layer of green. Not too many people nor too many bugs on a Sunday afternoon with lots of shade made for an enjoyable, gradual climb and descent through the forest.

Useful Resources:

Visit Idaho and Idaho Parks and Recreation are both great resources if you are interested in traveling here or already living here like me and want ideas on where to take your next adventure, which may take you on a beautiful ride along the 21. They shared a video post about this Scenic Highway that worth viewing if you’d like to get a glimpse of where you could be taking your next scenic drive.

https://visitidaho.org/

https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/

All Trails app has been my go-to for find new hikes! It’s a free app and can be used anywhere, at least in the USA, and it’s really helpful for exploring new trails because fellow hikers that leave reviews give tips on parking, how busy it was, what the weather was like, closure notices, etc.

https://www.alltrails.com/mobile

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