Distinguishing Details: Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Wandering around downtown Santa Fe, I stumbled upon this incredibly detailed wooden door. It guarded the entrance to a closed, modern-looking restaurant, but I imagine it once belonged somewhere majestic.

The Great Pololu Escape

I could use a great escape today (it was a rough one!) and if I could go anywhere right now Pololu would be at the top of my list. I’d take the quick little hike down into the valley and find a nice spot on the soft black sand. I would probably bring a good book, but who could take their eyes off the jewel-toned waves rolling in and the lush green valley? A good couple of hours here and my problems would melt away… until it was time to make that long hike back up to reality.

Visiting Volcanoes

Hiking through Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii was a surreal and incredible reminder of the power of Mother Nature. I would have never believed that so many beautiful flowering plants could live throughout a sea of hardened black lava. Nor would I have expected clouds of steam to rise from the ground in the middle of a forest. Like taking a walk through a rainforest, which leads you to the moon, where you continue on to Oz, every bit of it was amazing.

Vivid Locales: Santa Fe

Making up a friendly and creative community, the locals of Santa Fe seem to be a happy bunch. Maybe it’s the beautiful mountain views, maybe the awesome tamales, maybe living the artsy life. Whatever their secret is, I believe part of it has to do with all the vibrant colors that are woven throughout the city.

From the plaza shops to the art galleries to the farmers market, Santa Fe is full of color and personality. Visiting places like this always puts a smile on my face and makes me wonder why someone wouldn’t paint their front door turquoise…?

Ulica Florianska

Krakow, Poland

I took this photo from inside the chapel in St. Florian’s Gate, which over looks Ulica Florianska, a fun and lively street full of cafes, shops, and pubs. At the other end of the street is the beautiful Mariacka Basilica. Down this street alone, I purchased a lovely piece of amber jewelry, had an amazing plate of pierogi, found a Krakow Christmas Creche (nativity) to take home, and enjoyed some great live jazz at an underground club…. yes, I did see other parts of the city too.

Prague from Above

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

I would say that Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think that’s fair to the others. I felt like I stepped into a fairy tale when I arrived, so unless I’m comparing it to Gondor or wherever Cinderella lives (neither of which have I visited, just to be clear) it’s in a category all on it’s own.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

Filled up over the centuries with beautiful architecture as far as the eye can see, Prague is a breathtaking site from above. These are some of my favorite shots from high up in the Powder Tower and Prague Castle. Up high or down on street level though, it’s such a gem. I loved getting lost in it’s magic.

3 Things I Learned from the Big Island

Visiting Hawaii gave me the opportunity to slow down (even though we had a non-stop agenda), get away from the stress of everyday life, and gain a fresh perspective on the important things. Reconnecting with nature, taking in the sweet air, stopping to soak in the beauty that surrounded me, I recognized that I could take away some valuable lessons from the Big Island.

1) Ignore the scary things along your path and just keep going

I was terrified to continue down a rainforest trail once I spotted some big, crunchy spiders looming in the foliage, but if I hadn’t continued on, I would have missed so much. Too often I let the little things scare me from moving forward with something I really want to go after, but like worrying what might crawl up my leg in a beautiful Hawaiian garden, I need to get over my fears of what might happen and focus on the waterfalls, palms, and orchids of life.

2) Jump right in

I had been really looking forward to the opportunity to snorkel with dolphins out in the Pacific ocean, but my crazy imagination (and the fact that I’ve watched Jaws a few too many times) got me a little panicky once it was time to get in the water. After some deep breaths and the added security of a noodle (tiger sharks would never go after someone with a long floaty thing), I was able to relax and truly enjoy the experience. Each time we stopped to get in the water, I felt more at ease and learned to jump right in. I didn’t want to miss a second of swimming with these beautiful, graceful creatures. I guess life should always be like that. If there is something you want to experience or accomplish, jump right in and stop wasting time.

3) Always be ready

You never know when an amazing opportunity will come your way, and like trying to capture spinner dolphins jumping out of the water, you need to always be ready.

Hopefully my new braver, bolder, ready-to-pounce-on-any-opportunity-that-comes-my-way self will stick around for awhile. I’m ready for some great adventures.

Time Traveling to Lapakahi

Like dreaming and time traveling all at once, my hike through Lapakahi State Historical Park was a surreal and mystical journey. Tucked into a quiet corner of the Big Island, and with only a handful of other visitors, I felt like I found the most beautiful secret hiding place.

Surrounded by earthy lava plains, this turquoise and green oasis takes you back to the time of the Hawaiian heiau (temple) and hale (thatched home). It’s easy to see why settlers chose this spot hundreds of years ago, but I won’t ramble on explaining how gorgeous it is. I took pictures to show you.

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